Statement by Hector Villagra, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California:"The ACLU of California welcomes the federal comprehensive immigration reform bill announced late Tuesday night by the Senate Gang of 8. This historic bill has the potential to advance the civil rights and liberties of all Californians and put the estimated 2.6 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in our state on the road to citizenship.
From the lumber mills of Ukiah to the farmlands of the Central Valley to the factories along the San Ysidro border, immigrants contribute greatly to California’s quality of life, culture and economy. All Californians will benefit from immigration reforms that will lift up our economy by promoting trade, agri-business, and technological innovation.
While this legislation is a good starting place, it will have to be improved to address severe obstacles for many aspiring citizens, many of whom live in our state. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in California could be left out of this historic reform simply because of hefty fines and application fees. This would leave them vulnerable to continued mass deportation and detention programs such as the controversial program “S-Comm.” More than 90,000 Californians have already been torn from their families and deported as a result of S-Comm, accounting for the highest number of deportations in the nation.
Fair and effective immigration reform demands that we eliminate the contradiction of continuing to deport the people today who would otherwise become citizens tomorrow. The ACLU of California will continue to offer improvements to the current bill, and to champion model state-level bills like the TRUST Act (AB 4) that will end the harmful impact that occurs daily in tens of thousands of California families, communities, and businesses because of S-Comm.
The ACLU of California also questions the proposal to expand wasteful border spending at a time when law enforcement leaders from the Department of Homeland Security down to the San Diego Sheriff declare that our border communities are safe. Enforcement resources are already at record levels, and prior security benchmarks have all been met or exceeded. Furthermore, the mandate to use the job-killing, costly and privacy-invasive employment verification system “E-verify” raises significant civil liberties concerns that will have an outsized impact in a state where immigrants make 34.6% of the state’s workforce.”