The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Claire O'Brien, (202) 675-2312;

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Unveiled

Bill Addresses Longstanding Problems in Immigration Enforcement Practices But Fails to Protect Workers and Same-Sex Couples


Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), along with members of the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional
Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus,
introduced late Tuesday HR 4321, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform
for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP),
legislation that takes major strides toward repairing America's broken
immigration system. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly
supports responsible reforms to U.S. immigration policy and calls on
Congress to ensure that any legislation protects the civil rights,
civil liberties and human rights of everyone in the United States,
regardless of his or her immigration status.

ACLU applauds Rep. Gutierrez for introducing an historic bill that sets
forth critical reforms to the immigration detention, deportation and
enforcement system that comport with due process, the Constitution and
international human rights norms," said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative
Counsel. "This is the first comprehensive immigration reform bill that
aims to rectify some of the egregious immigration practices set in
place since 1996, including mandatory detention of immigrants for minor
crimes; delegation of immigration enforcement and verification to
states and localities, and denial of judicial review to immigrants
facing deportation and permanent separation from U.S. citizen family

CIR ASAP contains numerous provisions aimed at restoring due process in immigration enforcement actions. Such reforms would:

  • Suspend Operation Streamline pending review of the program's goals, impacts and cost-benefit analyses;
  • Require
    DHS to meet detention condition requirements to ensure adequate medical
    care and to avoid unnecessary detainee transfers;
  • Establish a strong presumption against detention of families with children and prohibit expedited removal of families;
  • Provide
    access to immigration counsel during enforcement actions and for
    disabled individuals unable to fully participate in deportation
  • Require
    timely notice and service of immigration charges, as well as timely
    bond hearings for people detained more than 48 hours;
  • Limit the use of immigration detainers to confirmed removable aliens;
  • Improve
    secure alternative to detention programs by establishing criteria to
    guide detention and release decisions, and ensuring immigration judge
    review of all detention decisions;
  • Pre-empt any state or local law that discriminates against people based on immigration status;
  • Repeal
    the fundamentally flawed 287(g) program and clarify that immigration
    enforcement authority belongs exclusively to the federal government;
  • Restore
    federal jurisdiction of immigration decisions and practices, thereby
    restoring the historic role that federal courts have long played in
    checking federal agency conduct.

despite the many positive reforms included in CIR ASAP, the bill falls
short of being "comprehensive," as it fails to include immigration
parity provisions that would allow gay U.S. citizens and permanent
residents to sponsor their permanent partners for permanent residency,
an immigration right that heterosexual spouses have long enjoyed.
Without these immigration parity protections, immigrant families in the
U.S., including many with U.S. citizen children, will continue to be
torn asunder.

ASAP also includes invasive electronic employment verification which,
if implemented, would require employers to use error filled government
databases to confirm work authorization for every American. The system
would also require the storage of more personal information about
workers and increase the risk of data breaches and identity theft.

we are encouraged by the willingness of congressional leaders to tackle
immigration reform, we are disappointed in the inclusion of electronic
employment verification and we urge lawmakers to remove any language
that creates such a system," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Policy
Legislative Counsel. "Errors in electronic employment verification are
significant barriers to employment and violate the rights of innocent
workers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also estimates they will cost
employers and society billions. In this current economic climate, the
last thing we need is higher business costs or another hurdle standing
between a worker and a job. While we support the efforts of leaders in
the House and Senate to bring real reforms to the immigration system,
Americans should not be expected to trade away their privacy rights as
payment for these reforms."

ACLU commends Rep. Gutierrez for introducing this historic CIR bill and
urges the Senate to adopt many of the bill's immigration enforcement
reform provisions when the Senate takes up CIR early next year. The
ACLU further urges that any Senate CIR bill be truly "comprehensive" by
ensuring immigration parity for all American families, whether they
involve heterosexual or same-sex permanent partners.

To see the ACLU's statement on the necessary elements of meaningful immigration reform, see:

To see a summary of CIR ASAP, see:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666