Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Review of the STRIVE Act: A Starting Point for Policy Progress

Recent Actions on the Hill

In late March, the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act of 2007 (H.R. 1645) was introduced by Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The bill is now with the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees. The bill currently includes 52 co-sponsors.

The Congressional Quarterly recently reported that members of the Senate anticipate the introduction of an immigration bill soon as key members come close to reaching a compromise. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set aside the last two weeks in May for a floor debate of an immigration bill in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, chaired by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has already conducted hearings on key immigration issues and will have several more before the Subcommittee takes action on a bill. In recent weeks witnesses from think tanks and academic institutions presented testimonies on topics including the history of immigration in the U.S., shortfalls in the 1986 and 1996 immigration laws, and problems with the current Employment Eligibility Verification System. AFSC has continued to monitor these recent developments and shared this information with community partners and through its involvement in various coalitions.

AFSC Analysis Grounded in Faith Principles and Direct Work with Immigrant Communities

AFSC has also recently reviewed the content and substance of the STRIVE Act. AFSC's analysis of the STRIVE Act of 2007 is principally grounded in our institution's spiritual value that there is that of God in each person, leading us to respect the worth and dignity of every person. This analysis also emerges from decades of direct field work in partnership and in solidarity with agricultural workers, and immigrant, refugee and asylee communities throughout the nation. In this effort we have also listened to, and incorporated the insight of field staff members engaged in community-based advocacy work, service provision and resource support as well as national program staff and program committees.

Constructive Changes to the STRIVE Act Remain

The STRIVE Act is a starting point for repairing our nation's broken immigration system. AFSC supports key provisions in the STRIVE Act, such as a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants and reduction of the family-based immigration backlog. However, AFSC views other provisions as challenges due to the negative impact on the livelihoods of border communities, the impact on multi-status families and the employment rights of immigrants and citizens alike. Recognizing this reality, the legislative process provides the opportunity for improvements and a significant juncture to address critical concerns and the past Congressional impasse.

Continued efforts are needed to ensure that Congress passes legislation which addresses all the elements of immigration reform. We believe that the nation's Congressional leaders can craft laws which ensure that all immigrants and non-immigrants are equally treated with dignity and respect, are welcomed members of communities in which healthy families live and as our friends, and neighbors who contribute to the nation's future, its betterment and sustainability.

We pledge to join other organizations sharing this concern and calling for constructive reform of U.S. immigration policies. We applaud the steps immigrant communities have taken to project their own voices into the policy arena and pledge to work alongside them to assure their voices are strongly heard in the movement for constructive and just immigration policies and laws.

Action to Consider: Let Congressional Leaders Hear Your Voice

Between May 28th and June 1st members of Congress will be in their districts for the Memorial Day recess and District work period. This will be a key opportunity share your perspective on the STRIVE Act and other proposals with your member.

For a resource on how to schedule a meeting click here. It is important that we raise our voices to express support for fair policies.

To facilitate dialogue and community education on the STRIVE Act, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has completed an analysis, which summarizes key provisions, compares the provisions with AFSC principles, and provides policy recommendations that we believe can lead to workable, fair, and visionary immigration policies and achievable legislation.

To view a 3-page summary of the analysis click here.
To view the full 21-page analysis click here.