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October 17, 2005

Update and Action Alert: Senate Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

I just received this from Maurice Belanger, Director of Public Information, National Immigration Forum, at; mbelanger@immigrationforum.org

To: Interested Immigration Advocates
1)Senate Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform October 18
2)Action Alert: Commend Senator Specter for Focusing on Comprehensive Reform
3)Resources on the Forum’s Web Site
4)Sample Letter to Senator Specter

Senate to Hold Hearing on Comprehensive Reform

On Tuesday, October 18, the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct its second hearing on comprehensive immigration reform. Testifying at this hearing will be Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Labor Secretary Elaine Chao; our own Frank Sharry; Douglas Massey of Princeton University (who recently wrote a paper for the Cato Institute, “Backfire at the Boarder: Why Enforcement Without Legalization Cannot Stop Illegal Immigration”); and Mark Krikorian, Director of the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies.

The Washington Times reported today that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said he thinks that any immigration legislation that comes before the Senate this year should focus first on border security, and possibly interior enforcement as well.

With scandal swirling around top Republican leaders—including Mr. Frist—and with other issues causing restlessness among conservatives in particular, it will be very tempting for Republican leaders to support an enforcement-only approach to immigration, in order to satisfy the small but vocal group of conservatives who are loudly and forcefully calling for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

In this context, it is remarkable that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) is going ahead with a hearing that will consider a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

What You Can Do;

We are asking organizations to send letters of support to Senator Specter thanking him for holding the hearing and asking him to continue showing leadership on the issue by passing comprehensive reform legislation out of the committee this year. If your Senator is on the Committee, you can target your letter to him or her (or to both your Senator and the Chairman). A sample letter can be found below. You can modify your letter to address the stance of your Senator, as you understand it.

Here are the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), Orrin G. Hatch, (R-UT), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

You can find contact information for all of these Senators (and connections to their Web forms) through the links to their Web sites that are on the Judiciary Committee site at:


Additional Resources

For more information on how this issue is progressing, as reported in the press, see the Featured News items linked on our home page at:


Remember that we archive a collection of immigration news stories every day on our News Clips page:


Finally, we comment on themes in the news and editorials in our Facts on Immigration series:


Sample Letter

Dear Senator Specter,

The [YOUR ORGANIZATION] would like to thank you for focusing your Committee on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. We believe that our immigration system is broken, but will not be fixed by simplistic efforts to simply spend more money to enforce laws that do not work. We firmly believe that only comprehensive reform will be effective in reducing illegal immigration and reducing the number of immigrants who are currently living in the shadows.

Such reform must include:

§ A solution to the problem of the undocumented population, now estimated to be approximately 11 million, which includes a chance for them to earn their way out of the shadows and gain a path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship.

§ Legal channels for the future flow of immigrant workers, many of whom are needed in our rapidly-growing service industries. If these workers are given legal opportunities to immigrate, they will not have to risk their lives to cross our border.

§ More visas for families, so that the backlog for family visas that has built up in the last 10 years can be reduced.

§ More legal visas for temporary workers, so that employers who face seasonal spikes in labor needs that cannot be met by available American workers will be able to hire enough workers.

§ Enforcement that smartly puts a priority on keeping us safe from those who intend us harm.

§ Programs aimed at speeding up the integration of newcomers into American society.

Of the proposals that have so far been introduced in this Congress, the bill introduced by Senators Kennedy and McCain—the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act—is the most comprehensive and is the most likely to work.

Enforcement of laws that are broken can only lead to more frustration for those who want Congress to act on immigration. We all want an immigration system that is safe, legal, and orderly. To get there, enforcement must be paired with reforms that will make our immigration laws enforceable. We look forward to your continued leadership on this issue, and urge you to work with your colleagues in the Judiciary Committee to pass legislation that is comprehensive, humane, and effective.


Posted by VisaLawyer at October 17, 2005 08:20 AM


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