In response to President Obama's speech today outlining his immigration reform plan, Michael Kaufman, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, issued the following statement:
"President Obama has laid out a blueprint for immigration reform that offers a number of significant improvements for our broken system. He understands that the same hopes and dreams that brought the ancestors of most Americans also draw today’s Immigrants, and that the millions of men and women who packed up their lives and moved here already contribute to our society every day deserve a path to citizenship. We applaud his call for the modernization of the legal immigration system, which would make it easier for citizens to be reunited here at home with their families – including the estimated 36,000 gay and lesbian Americans with foreign partners. The plan outlined by the White House would end the cruel and discriminatory regulations that tear apart loving, committed same-sex couples or force them to seek a life overseas.
However, much in the plan raises grave concerns about threats to civil liberties. Net undocumented migration across U.S. borders is currently at or below zero. Therefore, the president’s emphasis on increased border security is unproductive and unnecessary: the United States already expends a massive amount of energy and resources deporting a record number of people who pose no threat to their communities.. Reform should not include, much less be tied to, additional border security or enforcement measures.
Even more worrisome are the president's calls for the expansion of programs targeting and deporting criminals and “non-immigrants” whom it deems as security threats. The immigration enforcement system has already targeted too many law-abiding immigrants as threats to public safety. The deportation system needs more due process, not less. In addition, the Secure Communities program already in effect is a dismal failure, sweeping up innocent people and turning local law enforcement into immigration agents. The result is a corrosion of the trust between police officers and the communities they serve, leaving all of us less safe."