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City Bar Supports Senate Immigration Reform Bill During Floor Debate

The New York City Bar Association, through its Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law, continues to monitor and assist Congressional deliberation of the immigration reform bill, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744). As the Senate began floor debate of the bill, the City Bar reaffirmed its positions on several key amendments, opposing unnecessary detention and obstacles to citizenship and supporting recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Specifically, Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) Amendment 1203 repeats the language of Senator Charles Grassley’s (R-IA) Amendment 53, previously introduced and defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee after City Bar’s opposition. In a letter dated May 13th, the City Bar cautioned that this amendment would undo crucial “S. 744 reforms [reducing] cruel, costly, and unnecessary over-detention of immigrants and families who pose little risk” by expanding mandatory detention “regardless of risk or cost.”

Additionally, the City Bar opposes Senator Michael Lee’s (R-UT) Amendment 1213, which repeats the language of Senator Lee’s earlier Amendment 11. Amendment 1213 eliminates any possibility of waiving the $1,000 Registered Provisional Immigrant penalty. As the City Bar warned in its May 29th letter, this unnecessarily “frustrates integration of the undocumented into the U.S. workforce” and cruelly “prevents any immigrant from claiming…economic hardship, illness, age, [or] need for family support” in requesting a waiver.

However, the City Bar urges adoption of Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Amendment 1182—the Uniting American Families Act—which reiterates the language of Senator Leahy’s previous Amendment 7. This establishes equality in immigration reform for same-sex spouses and permanent partners. As the City Bar noted in its May 15th letter, the Amendment is laudable for both equality and economics. It would “provide long-overdue recognition of the diversity of families and the fundamental rights of individuals in committed marriages and permanent partnerships,” the City Bar stated. “Moreover, these amendments have economic benefit, in encouraging all U.S. citizens and residents to live and work in America.… In our global economy, we should not disadvantage U.S. residents and their partners from seeking opportunities, abroad or at home.”

The Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law will continue to monitor S. 744 throughout the floor debate.

The letters can be read at the following links:
http://bit.ly/16ftsYm (May 13th)
http://bit.ly/1222JNV (May 15th)
http://bit.ly/13xUmqg (May 29th)

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