Senate Democrats

Reid: Bush’s Immigration Plan Would Create Underclass of Workers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao testified at a Judiciary Committee hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued the following statement:

“Today, the Judiciary Committee held the second hearing of this session on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I commend those members of the Senate who are working to ensure that the Senate move this debate forward quickly, as well as Chairman Specter for his leadership toward achieving this goal.

Business, labor, and religious groups all agree comprehensive reform is necessary. It is important for America’s national security and economic growth.

But after five years, the Bush Administration is still talking about a temporary worker program that offers no path towards legalization and will create a permanent underclass. America can do better.

However, I was glad to hear the Administration witnesses agree that an enforcement-only approach will not work and that we must combine provisions for more effective enforcement with reform. Our laws need to take into account reality before we will be able to enforce them.

We need a plan that will allow immigrants who are already here to earn their residency through hard work and that will create legal channels for immigrant workers necessary for our economic growth to enter in the future. The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005, introduced by Senators McCain and Kennedy, is a good start.

I strongly believe in effective enforcement of our immigration laws, but first we must ensure that these laws are realistic, humane, and fair.”