01/30/2014

GOP immigration reform 'standards' offer more of the same failed policies

The “standards” for immigration reform offered by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives today fail to offer any serious proposals to fix the nation’s broken immigration system, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Seven months after the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill (S.744), the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has failed to take action. Today, the GOP issued an anemic one-page statement of standards for immigration reform that represent nothing more than a continuation of the failed policies that keep immigrants in the shadows and allow for the systematic exploitation of guest workers. 

“While we welcome the House GOP adding to the conversation on immigration reform, these standards are not enough to show that it is serious about fixing our flawed immigration system,” said Naomi Tsu, SPLC staff attorney. “To show their commitment to reform, GOP House leaders need to bring immigration reform legislation to a vote on the floor of the House and then to conference with the Senate-passed immigration bill.”

During the time the public has waited for the Republican members of Congress to take action on immigration reform, tens of thousands of foreign guest workers have been brought into the country, with many likely facing abuses such as wage theft. Some 200,000 people have been deported during the GOP’s foot-dragging. 

The standards fail to address numerous immigration issues:

  • They call for a continuation of failed guest worker policies that result in workers being cheated out of millions in wages. 
  • They fail to address the fraudulent recruitment and exorbitant fees that often are a guest worker’s first impression of America.
  • They fail to fix the problems in our current guest worker systems by increasing worker protections and securing dignity. 
  • They fail to create a path to citizenship for those who help to build our country.

The standards also issue a dangerous call for local enforcement of immigration laws. Law enforcement and immigrants have reported to the SPLC that such policies cause the immigrant community to lose trust in law enforcement. The SPLC has challenged such state laws in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

“The SPLC and our allies have fought against such local-enforcement laws that drive a wedge between law enforcement and immigrant communities,” Tsu said. “People become afraid to report crimes, and criminality flourishes. Congress must avoid the Alabamification of the United States by clearly stating that immigration enforcement is a matter for the federal government alone.”