An Immigration Bill Checklist

How can you evaluate proposals to reform our immigration system? This checklist can help. It begins with FCNL's principles for immigration reform and suggests ways those principles could be upheld in legislation.

What to Look for in Immigration Reform

Improve the legal immigration system

Our nation was built by immigrants; immigrants are still needed and should be welcomed.

  • Provide for sufficient work-related visas to meet the legitimate needs of the economy without undercutting workers already in the U.S.
  • Give workers the ability to bring their families with them and to apply for lawful permanent status and eventual citizenship.

Keep families together

We recognize the critical role of families in the development of healthy individuals and communities.

  • Make family unity a top priority in immigration policies and not place them in competition with employment visas.
  • Provide for a flexible definition of “family” that recognizes the reality of immigrants’ lives instead of imposing a rigid formula; for some, immediate families may include same-gender couples, adult siblings or grandparents.
  • Remove caps on the number of family visas and eliminates the lengthy family visa backlogs.

Enforce wage, hour and safety laws for all workers, regardless of immigration status

No sweatshops. All people have a right to work with dignity and to be treated fairly.

  • Enforce wage, hour and safety laws for all workers; protects the ability of all workers to organize.
  • Remove the economic incentive for employers to hire undocumented and temporary labor, undercutting wages and working conditions for immigrants and others already in the U.S.
  • Provide practical remedies to redress workplace grievances for all workers regardless of immigration status.
  • Eliminate home and workplace raids; focus instead on employer wage, hour and safety records.

Protect human and civil rights of immigrants

Immigrants are frequently detailed for long periods without trial or charge. The consequences of a suspected immigration violation should be proportionate.

  • Protect due process rights of all persons, regardless of immigration status.
  • Support openness to refugees and those seeking asylum, including people displaced by deadly conflict, oppression, climate change, natural disasters and economic destitution.
  • End mandatory detention and expedited removal; provide access to legal counsel and other basic rights in cases that may result in detention.
  • Protect detainees’ human rights by developing and enforcing binding detention standards.
  • Exercise care for people who are especially vulnerable, including torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, children, sole guardians and caregivers, pregnant women and people who are physically or mentally ill.

Align enforcement with humanitarian values

Increased militarization of border enforcement—including miles of fences—has desecrated sacred sites of native peoples, violated environmental laws and encouraged abuses of human and civil rights.

  • Bring border communities, including tribal governments, into the decision-making processes around border enforcement policies.
  • Provide that immigration laws are enforced directly and solely by federal authorities, not contracted to local governments or to private companies. Under the Constitution, immigration laws are federal laws.
  • Support communities with large concentrations of new immigrants.
  • Integrate new immigrants into the life of the communities where they settle.
  • Ensure that communities are able to welcome immigrants by giving federal support to state and local governments and organizations to provide multi-lingual and civics education, outreach and naturalization assistance.
  • Ensure that immigrants have access to social services, including health care and education.

Create an equitable and practical solution for the 11 million immigrants who are here in the U.S. without documentation.

  • Recognize the unintended consequences of complex and overly restrictive immigration policies that have encourage illegal migration in the past three decades.
  • Provide legal status for the 11 million immigrants now in the U.S. without legal permission, allowing them to continue to work in the U.S. and to work toward legal permanent status and eventual citizenship for themselves and their families.

See how the Senate bill tracks with FCNL's concerns at fcnl.org/S744.

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