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Caribbean American Congresswoman Among Co-Sponsors Of Immigration Reform Bill – CaribWorldNews

CaribWorldNews, Washington, D.C., Weds. Dec. 16, 2009: Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is among several lawmakers who yesterday helped introduce an early Christmas gift for immigrants into the House – the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America`s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.

The bill, CIR ASAP, was introduced officially by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who has been at the forefront of the fight for earned legalization and practical and humane immigration laws. Clarke was among several lawmakers signing on to the hot button bill.

`The time is now to expand the face of the CIR debate. Everyone’s voices must be heard particularly in the Caribbean and Africa immigrant communities,` stated Congresswoman Clarke. `When we turn our back on those who come to these shores to become Americans, to be a part of building our great nation, and to embrace the American Dream, we are turning our back on ourselves. We must never forget that this debate is critical to improving the lives of all American citizens, American businesses, and the lives of those who seek to be Americans`

The proposal, calls for the creation of a legalization program for `qualified` undocumented immigrants and their spouses and children to receive a conditional non-immigrant visa which will be valid for six years. This visa will allow legalized immigrants with work and travel authorization, protection from removal.

To qualify, an applicant must establish they have been in the U.S. illegally before December 15, 2009; attest to having made contributions to the U.S. through employment, education, military service, or other volunteer/community service (with exemptions for minors, persons with disabilities, the elderly, or other unusual circumstances); pay an application fee and a $500 fine and not have any convictions for a felony or for three or more misdemeanors.

Certain immigrants who are in removal proceedings, facing removal, or ordered to depart voluntarily would be able to apply for legalization and all bars related to undocumented status – such as using a false Social Security number – will be waived (but security and criminal bars cannot be waived).

Qualified conditional nonimmigrant`s and their spouses and children will be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) and eventual citizenship six years after the date of enactment, if the bill becomes law.

The bill also has strong border security, detention and enforcement recommendations as well as plans to decrease family immigration backlogs and make detention more humane.

See details of bill at:

`We have waited patiently for a workable solution to our immigration crisis to be taken up by this Congress and our President,` said Rep. Gutierrez Tuesday. `The time for waiting is over. This bill will be presented before Congress recesses for the holidays so that there is no excuse for inaction in the New Year. It is the product of months of collaboration with civil rights advocates, labor organizations, and members of Congress. It is an answer to too many years of pain —mothers separated from their children, workers exploited and undermined security at the border— all caused at the hands of a broken immigration system. This bill says `enough,` and presents a solution to our broken system that we as a nation of immigrants can be proud of.`

The measure has already been welcomed by several immigrant and rights groups. Sarnata Reynolds, Advocacy and Policy Director for Refugee and Migrants` Rights at Amnesty International USA, said the `timing could not be better.`

`More than 10 million people live in the United States without a recognized legal status,` added AI USA. `Every week immigrants are rounded up, separated from U.S. citizen children and pushed through an arbitrary detention and deportation system without consideration of their family situation, community ties and work histories.`

The American Immigration Lawyers Association called the introduction of the bill `an important step in creating momentum for an overhaul of our nation`s broken immigration system.`

`Congressman Gutierrez knows that the American people want their leaders to step up and solve tough problems, and he has done amazing work with his colleagues in the House to introduce legislation that finally puts us on a path toward a common sense immigration system that works,` added Rich Stolz, Campaign Manager for Reform Immigration FOR America. `America needs comprehensive immigration reform now, and Reform Immigration FOR America is building an enormous coalition across the country to push Congress to act. Gutierrez has stepped up, kept his promise to introduce legislation before the holidays, and forged a coalition in the House to get this done. This bill is the first step – the right step – toward a solution that works for America. Now it`s time for the Senate to act.`

The early introduction in the House comes on the heels of prior claims by Senator Chuck Schumer that a similar bill could be introduced in the Senate by early next year.

President Obama has insisted he is committed to immigration reform. President George W. Bush has tried in vain for similar reform during his tenure, with help in 2005 from late Senator Ted Kennedy and current Senator and former Presidential candidate, John McCain. The 2005 House bill was also introduced by Gutierrez.