On January 19-20, 2007, a meeting was convened in Los Angeles to discuss the outline of a unity blueprint for immigration reform. The conveners include Pablo Alvarado, National Coordinator, Ntional Day Laborers Organizing Network, Rosa Rosales, National President, League of United Latin American Citizens, Angela Sanbrano, Executive Director, Central American Resource Center (Los Angeles) and President of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary- Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Dolores Huerta, President, Dolores Huerta Foundation & Co-Founder of the United Farmworkers Union, Victor Narro, Project Director, UCLA Downtown Labor Center, Father Richard Estrada, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Antonio Gonzalez, President, William C. Velasquez Institute, Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigration Reform of Los Angeles, and Peter Schey, President & Ex. Director, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL). In addition to the Conveners, representatives of a wide range of community-based and labor organizations involved in immigration reform work attended the meeting and provided ideas for development of the Unity Blueprint.
The draft blueprint developed at the initial meeting was further considered and improved upon following discussion at the National Latino Leadership Summit on Immigration Policy held in Phoenix on February 3, 2007. That meeting was jointly convened by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the William Velasquez Institute (WCVI), the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). The summit meeting was attended by approximately Unity Immigration Reform Proposals fifty organizations from around the country involved in immigration reform work.
The draft Blueprint was next considered and improved upon following discussion at a meeting of the Border Human Rights Working Group in San Antonio, Texas, on February 12-13, 2007. The Border Human Rights Working Group is a collaborative project of over fifty NGOs, CBOs, legal services providers, and faith-based organizations working along the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Since mid-February the Unity Blueprint has been circulated to labor and community-based organizations around the country and many groups have contributed ideas now included in the final document. The Unity Blueprint is a reflection of an ongoing national conversation among community-based groups, coalitions, labor organizations, and other concerned civic groups. It is subject to on-going discussion, debate, improvement, and endorsement. After the document is shared with members of Congress, concerned organizations will continue to improve it, including, for example, by making proposals addressing immigrant survivors of domestic violence, victims of violent crimes, etc.
The Unity Immigration Reform supporters believe that the interests of the nation, and its children, workers, businesses, and immigrant communities will be served through the adoption of rational, effective, and humane immigration reform proposals. They believe that the nation's interests are best served by reducing to the maximum extent possible the size of the undocumented migrant population, preserving family unity and reducing the backlog in family-based immigration, ensuring that legal permanent residents have the same due process and civil liberty protections as citizens, defending the rights of innocent children, fully protecting and enhancing the rights of U.S. and immigrant workers, and realistically addressing future flows of immigrants so that the undocumented population does not again mushroom in the future. We believe that immigrant families contribute to our society and culture and help meet our labor force needs. We also believe that a revised employment-based immigration system should strive to use objective economic factors to determine labor market needs and will produce immigrant visa numbers in proportion to labor shortages. We support improving the labor certification process which often results in immigrant workers being placed in jobs many years after the labor market was first tested to determine the availability of U.S. workers. The present system fails to unite labor needs with the timely issuance of visas and also often forces intending immigrant workers to wait for many years for their visas. A rational visa issuance process would result in immigration waiting lines being relatively current and affected only by processing time.
Unity Immigration Reform Proposals
We do not believe that walling-in the borders, the current regime of employer sanctions, and large-scale domestic enforcement are productive in reducing or controlling undocumented migration. Such measures have not in the past stopped migration or forced undocumented migrants to leave the United States. Instead, they simply drive immigrants underground, encourage a black market in immigrant labor, and cause the separation of families. Nor do such enforcement approaches in any way address the underlying root causes that drive migration to the United States, including massive inequality in wealth distribution, economic dislocation in major sending communities, the U.S. demand for labor, and free trade agreements that have caused workers to lose their jobs in migrant sending communities.
While we are making specific proposals to vastly improve the rationality of U.S. policy, we also recognize that immigration policies should not be imposed unilaterally but developed cooperatively through multilateral agreements similar to those used to govern international flows of capital, goods, commodities, and information. The Unity Blueprint supporters believe that nations have responsibilities beyond their borders, and unilateral actions taken by the United States can have serious negative repercussions for other countries linked to it in the global system. We therefore recommend that the United States engage in bi-national and multilateral discussions with major migrant sending countries to arrive at a coherent and long-term set of migration policies.
The Unity Blueprint collaborators intend to advocate for, assist in the drafting of, and support legislation consistent with the summary outlined above and the detailed proposals set forth below.
Groups interested in endorsing the Unity
Blueprint or offering comments, please email:
Peter Schey firstname.lastname@example.org