By Kamana Mathur
On December 16, Rep. Gutierrez introduced a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) Bill, HR 4321, called the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009” (CIR ASAP). The Bill aims to encourage legal immigration by making more visas available to U.S. educated advanced-degree professionals or those possessing a critically needed skill. It also treats spouses of permanent residents on par with spouses of U.S. Citizens, going a long way to eliminating the long separation that spouses and families of Green Card holders must often endure. At the same time, the Bill seeks to deter illegal immigration by increasing penalties for employers who willfully flout immigration laws in their hiring process and also steps up border security. The Bill also includes a path to legalization for those undocumented workers who have lived, worked, and paid taxes here, involving payment of fines and waiting six years before becoming eligible for permanent residency.
Passage of this Bill will not be easy. Controversial provisions such as the path to legalization for undocumented workers were responsible for the failure of similar bills introduced in previous years. The time is ripe to pass a common sense bill that will keep families together, discourage illegal immigration, and allow the hardworking and talented individuals that form the backbone of our nation live and work here and contribute to America’s innovation, technical leadership, and financial security. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the legalization issue, passing legislation that will prevent husbands and wives and parents and children from being separated for years on end is just common sense – it’s the American way. I urge you to contact your Congressman and Senator and let them know that you support legislation that would unite families and encourage legal immigration.