NLC Board Adopts Immigration Resolution

Article excerpt

The NLC Board of Directors adopted a resolution last week calling on Congress to move quickly to "enact comprehensive reform of the current immigration laws with support of the Administration to implement immigration laws effectively."

The resolution urges both strong federal enforcement of immigration laws and a process for the more than 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States to "earn legalized status." through payment of fees and back taxes, background checks, consistent work history, and meeting English language and civic requirements.

Immigration reform topped the agenda at the Board's summer meeting, hosted in Roanoke and Clarksburg, W.Va., by NLC President James Hunt, councilmember from Clarksburg. The newly adopted policy will guide NLC's lobbying on immigration during the waning days of the second session of the 109th Congress.

Specific policy recommendations on immigration reform were crafted by two NLC committees--Human Development and Public Safety and Crime Prevention--based on a framework developed last March by a special Immigration Task Force. The Community and Economic Development committee, the Central Cities Council and the Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) constituency group all endorsed the resolution.

"This kind of collective agreement among so many committees is rare," said Council President Charles Hughes of Gary, Ind. "We should thank the groups for their work and quickly embrace their recommendations."

Council Chairman Jim Condos of South Burlington, Vt., said the committees did a "commendable job" in tackling such a challenging issue.

"I am particularly pleased with the way this resolution came out and also encouraged by the collective passion about remembering that immigrants are people who should be considered part of our inclusive communities," Condos said.

HELO President Joseph Maestas, mayor of Espanola, N.M., said he was particularly proud of the role HELO played in encouraging a complete evaluation of NLC policy on immigration reform.

"It is very apparent that the committees looked at all aspects of this challenging issue to arrive at these recommendations," Maestas said. "The resolution is timely because the debate is going on right now."

The resolution calls for:

* Increased federal enforcement of immigration laws to eliminate illegal entry at the borders, visa overstays and working without proper documentation;

* Strengthened work site enforcement including creation of a "universal, reliable, effective, secure, non-discriminatory and non-counterfeitable employee verification system using the most up-to-date technology;"

* An appropriate and legal means of immigration for foreign nationals who want to work here temporarily, become legal permanent residents or gain citizenship;

* Establishment of a process for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States to earn legalized status through a series of requirements and without moving ahead of applicants with proper documentation or on waiting lists in their home countries; and

* Financial and technical assistance to local governments to cover the costs of providing social services, health care, education and language services to immigrants. …