The chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) migration committee yesterday wrote to Congress asking lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform and warning that the Bush Administration's recent proposals would be harmful to immigrants. The Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007 (STRIVE), bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep Luis Gutierrez and Jeff Flake, "best comports with the principles needed for a just and humane immigration reform bill," Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, California, said. "While we are encouraged by the direction of the immigration debate with the introduction of the STRIVE Act, we are deeply concerned by the Administration's most recent proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. Unlike the STRIVE Act, which promotes family reunification and has a realistic plan for bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, the Administration's proposal would make cuts to family-based immigration as well as impose fines and wait times for legalization that are far beyond what most immigrants could bear. "As we understand it, the Administration's proposal would effectively leave many immigrants seeking to legalize their status in a permanent underclass and would encourage family breakdown in immigrant communities," he added. "Although we appreciate the President's initiative in encouraging comprehensive immigration reform, we see this proposal as a step in the wrong direction." Under the Administration's proposal, undocumented persons eligible for new "Z" visas would have to pay $3,500 every three years to renew their visa and another $10,000 once they become eligible for permanent residency. The proposal would also transform the immigration system from a family-based system to an employment-based system by eliminating or limiting four categories of family preference: adult sons and daughters of US citizens, brothers and sisters of US citizens, parents of US citizens and some children of permanent residents. It would also prevent participants in the proposed new "Z" visa program from petitioning for family members and prevent temporary workers in the "Y" nonimmigrant visa program from bringing their immediate family members to the US. The USCCB supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a viable path to permanent residency for the undocumented population; a new worker program that includes appropriate worker protections, wage levels, and an opportunity to earn permanent residency; reductions in family reunification backlogs; the restoration of due process protections lost in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA); and policies that address the root causes of migration, such as economic development in sending countries. Source: USCBC
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