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U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters' Statement on Illegal Immigration

July 15, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters released the following statement:   "As was evidenced by the massive protest marches around the country over the past few weeks, immigration reform is an issue that can no longer be ignored. With over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, we must decide on an immigration policy that accomplishes the following goals:

    1. Secures our borders to curtail the influx of undocumented immigrants from the North and the South and develops security policies that address all illegal immigration.
    2. Provides for the deportation of undocumented criminals and violent gang members.
    3. Allows 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country to gain legal status under a comprehensive policy --- with criteria. 
    4. Includes a livable wage standard for all workers and punishes employers who violate the law.

    I will continue to insist on fair and humane treatment for all families --living and working in the United States.  Unfortunately, the bill proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, H.R. 4437, is the most punitive and unrealistic piece of legislation attempting to deal with immigration reform. Specifically, it: (1) gives Department of Homeland Security the authority to continue detention of individuals who have served their sentences based upon a determination that they are a 'dangerous alien,' contrary to Supreme Court rulings against indefinite detention; (2) subjects anyone or any organization who 'assists' an individual without documentation 'to reside in or remain' in the U.S. knowingly or with 'reckless disregard' as to the individual's legal status to criminal penalties and a minimum of five years in prison; and (3) allows local police officers to profile-stop-question-search-and-detain suspected undocumented workers on sight. 


    This bill singles out the undocumented and criminalizes them.  It serves as a catalyst for massive protest and as a blueprint for bad public policy.

    This bill does not provide for the legalization of the 11 million currently undocumented immigrants already in the country.  This approach is unrealistic. We simply cannot arrest, detain, jail and/or deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.  

    There are other bills circulating, such as the 'Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act,' S. 1033, co-sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain and its House companion, H.R. 2330, introduced by Reps. Jim Kolbe, Jeff Flake, and Luis Gutierrez.  These bills include increased border security measures, criteria for earned legalization, and the reduction of case backlog for family-based applications. These bills present a more sensible and a comprehensive approach to this expansive and challenging issue.

    Although this issue is going to require serious debate and compromise in the U.S. Congress, we must address the reality of millions of undocumented immigrants in this country.

    Let's take the politics out of this issue and develop a bi-partisan solution to a bipartisan problem."