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January 29, 2007 - National Immigrant Solidarity Network Open letter to the Congress

(We draft the following letter to the Congress, your endorsement is highly applicated!)

Date: January 29, 2007

The Honorable Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
The Congress
Washington D.C.

Dear Speaker Pelosi

The National Immigration Solidarity Network is a national coalition of multi-ethnic groups that include grassroots community-based organizations, labor, student and youth groups, human rights groups, and peace and global justice organizations all of whom are united in the defense of undocumented immigrants. We oppose immigrant bashing, we support immigrant workers rights, we say no to sweatshop exploitation and we resist the perpetuation of racism in our communities.

It is our hope that in the coming 2007 legislative year that through your leadership true comprehensive immigration reform legislation can be passed by the House of Representatives. Our areas of concern are the following:

1) No to anti-immigrant legislation, and the criminalization of the immigrant communities.

We oppose any immigrant legislation that will include criminalization of the immigrant community, "enforcement-only" bill, and the government surveillance program, such as: H.R. 4844 - Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 ("Voter ID bill"), H.R. 6089 - Illegal Immigrant Deterrence Act, H.R. 6090 - Immigration Enforcement Act, and H.R. 5825 - Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act ("Wire Tap bill"); we also oppose any government languages and legal terms that demonize immigrant communities, such as: "aliens" or "illegal aliens".

2) No to militarization of the border.
We oppose H.R. 6061 - Border Fence Bill that will fund a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and H.R. 6091 - Border Security Enhancement Act. It is believed that these pieces of legislation will terrorize the border immigrant communities. We believe this is a waste of tax payer money, forces migrants to cross borders at more dangerous and deadly locations, and fattens the profit margin of migrant smugglers.

3) No to the immigrant detention and deportation.

We oppose any legislation that will empower state and local law enforcement agencies to act as Federal government to enforce Federal immigration law, such as the CLEAR Act or legislation that authorize indefinite immigrant detention, speedy deportation and immigrant raids. We want the Congress to repeal these laws. We demand an improvement of the conditions of current immigrant detention facilities, we oppose future funding to build immigrant detention centers.

4) No to the guest worker program.
We are against an immigrant worker visa program that creates a two-tiered labor system, allowing corporations to pay lower wages to the visa workers, without offering strong labor protections to them including the right to change jobs, and no chance to gain U.S. citizenship.

5) No to employer sanction and "no match" letters.
We oppose any legislation to punish hard working undocumented workers because of their immigration status, and we want the Congress to repeal the employer sanction law. Historically it is not the employers that are punished by the law, but rather immigrant workers themselves. We also oppose 'No-Match' letter that could become de facto immigration enforcement tools since employers could use 'No-Match' Social Security letters to fire immigrants.

6) Yes to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
We support one tiered legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants in the United States to gain legal status within a reasonable amount of time with an opportunity for citizenship.

7) Yes to speedy family reunification.
We support legislation that provides additional visa numbers and eliminates long and inhumane family backlogs. We support the elimination of the 3 and 10 year bars for family members of citizens and permanent residents. We support the reinstatement of 245(i) adjustment inside the United States.

8) Yes to civil rights and humane immigration law.
Undocumented immigrants DO pay taxes, but are not eligible to receive any government benefits and assistance, we support legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants in the United States to receive government assistance and medical benefits, and guarantee of civil rights and legal assistance when immigrants are detained at immigration detention facility.

9) Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers.
We support legislation which strengthens the enforcement of existing labor laws to protect immigrant workers rights. We support the right of workers to establish and join a union REGARDLESS of immigration status. It is important that undocumented immigrants do not face harassment or threats from the workplace because they are fighting for their labor rights and right to join the union.

10) Yes to the DREAM Act and LGBT immigrant legislation.

We support reintroduction of the DREAM Act and the extension of benefits to lesbian-gay-bi-sexual-transgender (LGBT) families within the family reunification laws, We support the passage of the Uniting American Families Act, and the lifting of the HIV ban on immigration.

Immigration became a divisive, wedge issue under the Republican leadership. With this new Democratic Congress and with you at the helm we believe that a balanced civil dialog can be opened. It is our hope that the suggestions we have offered can be incorporated to draft a truly compassionate piece of immigration legislation that will benefit millions of hard working immigrants in this country.


National Immigrant Solidarity Network



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