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Know Your Rights
Source: Queens Courier
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Immigration Reform Next for Congress

Millions of immigrants,
documented and undocumented, have waited on the sidelines while Congress and
The White House battled over healthcare reform this entire year. On Tuesday, December
15, however, their wait seemed to get a little shorter.

Congressmembers Joseph
Crowley, Nydia Velazquez, and Anthony Weiner and members of the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian and Pacific Americans Caucus, the
Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus joined with
Illinois Congressmember Luis Gutierrez as he presented to the public
Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity
Act (CIR ASAP) of 2009. Though the bill has not yet been introduced in
Congress, it already counts on the support of 90 members.


“I think we are off to a
great start because this time we were able to mobilize key advocates,”
Gutierrez told members of the Queens press
during a conference call. “It was introduced to the public today and will be
introduced to Congress soon.”


A spokesperson for
Weiner told The Queens Courier that the bill could be introduced after
the Congress votes on healthcare.


The CIR ASAP addresses
effective and accountable border security to combat human trafficking and
criminal activity; improves detention procedures and enforcement, protects
family unity and creates an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ombudsmen.


One other key point
includes an employer verification system to verify each new hire’s
authorization to work.


Eligibility requirements
in the legislation include that the undocumented demonstrate their
contributions to the United
through employment, education
military service and/or volunteer service; undergo criminal and security
background checks; pay a $500 fine plus necessary application fees. Individuals
who have a serious criminal conviction would be ineligible for a long permanent
residency. Special rules would apply for persons brought to the U.S.
before the age of 16, which would affect children covered under the formerly
introduced DREAM Act.


“My goal is to ensure
that no New York City
family is forced to live in the shadows because of our nation’s unjust
immigration policies. This comprehensive bill takes the steps needed to repair
our broken system, strengthen border security and put an end to the policies
that tear families apart,” said Congressmember Velázquez.


Immigration groups
across New York City
praised the efforts of the congressional delegation but reminded them that the
legislative process has not yet begun.


“This bill – CIR ASAP –
marks a critical first step in that direction,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive
director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “We look forward to
reviewing the details of the bill and working with members of the House, with
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and with President Obama to achieve real


Make the Road New York, an immigrant and civil rights advocacy organization
located in Queens and Brooklyn, said in a statement, “We look forward to working with the President and our allies in
Congress to not only start a debate about this very important issue but also to
pass immigration reform that will help our country grow economically. We hope
that Senator Charles Schumer follows suit and introduces legislation in the
Senate in the upcoming months.”


Meanwhile, like most
things in Washington,
politics is sure to play a part in any immigration proposal.


important to act soon because if not we enter the midterm elections and after
that the presidential election cycle,” Congressmember Crowley had told The
Queens Courier
soon after Gutierrez first introduced the key points that
became the CIR ASAP back in October. “Time is of essence.”