Friday, June 18, 2004

Legalization For Undocumented Endorsed By Top U.S. Group

Caribbean News details

CHICAGO, IL, Fri. June 18: One of one of the nation’s largest independent, non-profit international affairs organizations has come out in support of legalizing the status of millions of undocumented immigrants, including Caribbeans, who call the U.S. home.

The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, in a recent report on U.S. immigration, says legalization and revamping policies to better absorb immigrants into American society is desperately needed.

The Task Force was convened in September 2003 and was cochaired by former Illinois governor Jim Edgar, former INS commissioner Doris Meissner, and Evans Food Products president Alejandro Silva. Approximately forty leaders representing the region’s diverse groups with interests in the immigration debate participated. The task force cochairs visited Washington, D.C., Ottawa, and Mexico City to hear the views of government officials and policy experts.

“At a time when record numbers of immigrants are arriving and living in cities across the country, the United States is faced with a “broken” immigration system that is failing to meet the social, economic and security demands of the nation. Immigrants play a vital role in health and prosperity of the country, and comprehensive reform of current U.S. immigration laws and policies are urgently needed to ensure the growth, success and safety of U.S. society in the future,” states CCFR officials in a prepared statement.

The group said the current system that includes growing application backlogs, worker abuse and family separation, among other vulnerabilities, invite security threats by potential terrorists, and needs to be fixed quickly.

The task force compiling the report, which comprised of more than 30 prominent business and political leaders, also calls for a better balance between laws focused on security and those aimed at encouraging legal integration and urges more structured temporary worker programs and more innovative job training initiatives to fill future labor market needs.

The group also called on lawmakers to intensify their debate and enact reforms that balance security and immigration needs without undermining either one. The CCFR has over 7,000 members.

Conservative estimates place the undocumented population at about 8 million.


The report comes as the United States Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Policy urged lawmakers to consider the economic consequences of visa and border delays caused by immigration system reforms.

“There is a growing perception abroad and in border communities that America is turning into a fortress,” said Randel K. Johnson, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Infrastructure and Border Security. “And this perception, based on reality, is hurting American businesses. Decision makers must listen to the concerns of those that must live with the decisions they make.”

The Chamber has also lauded the Council’s report, stating it will add significantly to the current debate surrounding the need for immigration reform. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region. –


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