After President Obama’s Immigration Enforcement Reforms, Bipartisan Legislative Solutions Remain as Important as Ever

Media 11.24.14

Recipient: Members of Congress

View the PDF of this letter here.

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national advocacy organizations, we write to express our strong support for the immigration policy reforms announced by President Obama last week. His announcement represents a tremendous victory for all Americans who support human rights, basic fairness, and simple common sense. We are deeply grateful to him for doing as much as he can, within the confines of existing immigration and constitutional law, to help millions of people who are working hard to make our country a better place. And we urge you to support his actions until Congress chooses to take up more comprehensive reform.

One of the key reforms being implemented by President Obama will bring as many as five million immigrants out of the shadows, hold them accountable, and provide both them and our economy with much-needed stability. This action is consistent with our most fundamental constitutional principles and the most fundamental values we share as a nation. It makes no sense to tear parents away from their children when they are willing to work hard, contribute to their families, and strengthen our communities. At the same time, his reforms will streamline our legal immigration processes, improve and prioritize border enforcement, and promote American citizenship.

We must note that we are pleased to see these reforms, but we are dismayed that Congress has given President Obama no other choice but to act on his own. The House of Representatives has spent nearly a year and a half stalling, making excuses, and shifting the blame for its failure to move forward on a bipartisan, Senate-passed immigration reform compromise. While President Obama’s policies will provide some temporary relief to millions of working families, it does not put anyone on the road to citizenship. Congressional action to fix our nation’s immigration system is still sorely needed.

We are particularly alarmed by the hyperbolic and, in some cases, harmful statements that have been made by some members of Congress in opposition to President Obama’s actions. Immigration is an extraordinarily complex area of the law and, as members from both parties have recognized, it provides the executive branch with extensive room to prioritize enforcement and exercise prosecutorial discretion. We side with the overwhelming number of legal scholars and other experts who have publicly weighed in on President Obama’s actions, and who have concluded that these actions are not an abuse of his powers but are in fact within his constitutional authority.

We urge the incoming Congressional leadership to respond to President Obama through a constructive and vigorous debate over legislative alternatives. We are confident that President Obama will be willing to work with Congress on more comprehensive and lasting solutions to the problems that plague our national immigration system. Until such time as that may occur, and we hope it will soon, we urge you – for the good of our system and for the lives of those affected – to support his administrative reforms and allow them to stand.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either of us, or Senior Counsel Rob Randhava, at (202) 466-3311.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President