Oppose the Ryan and Goodlatte Immigration Proposals

View a PDF of this letter here.

June 20, 2018

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 120 additional undersigned civil and immigrants’ rights organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (the “Ryan bill”) and H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act (the “Goodlatte bill”).

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a change in policy that is wreaking havoc on thousands of vulnerable, young children. Let us be clear about who is causing this cruelty: It is President Trump. He made this decision, and as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.) has said, “he could stop this policy with a phone call.”

Republican leadership in Congress is now allowing the president to use thousands of children being separated from their parents and hundreds of thousands of Dreamers as hostages to demand sweeping changes to our immigration laws.

Both of the Republican bills that will receive a vote this week are nothing short of shameful. Each of them represents a terrible trade-off that would penalize legal immigrants and asylum seekers, continue separating families, drive fear into our communities, waste resources, and erode due process.

The Ryan bill has been marketed as a “compromise,” but nothing could be further from the truth. It is based on the White House immigration framework that only garnered 39 votes in the Senate earlier this year, but in many respects, it is even more radical. For example:

  • Its proposal to help Dreamers is worse than the White House framework, as it would tie the fate of Dreamers to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending on border security, and it would subject them to an untested and convoluted points system that would exclude many of them from gaining citizenship.
  • It would provide $23 billion for an unnecessary, wasteful border wall and militarization of the southern border region.
  • It would authorize over 50,000 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents without any meaningful oversight mechanisms.
  • It would make it easier for DHS to deport children more quickly, including to some of the most dangerous countries on earth.
  • It would allow the government to hold children in jail for even longer periods of time while their fate is being determined.
  • It would make it harder for asylum seekers to escape persecution and violence by increasing the standard of proof, likely cutting the number of admissions in half.
  • It would eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which ensures that immigrants from all countries have a fair chance to enter and to contribute to our nation.
  • It would eliminate entire categories of family-based visas, preventing married adult children and siblings of American citizens from reuniting with their loved ones, even though they have been willing to wait in line for years or even decades.
  • It would allow immigration officials to classify young people as gang members with little to no evidence.
  • It would ramp up pressure on local governments to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, ignoring constitutional prohibitions on detaining individuals without bench warrants.
  • It would expand grounds of deportation that have been used to detain and remove legal residents, in some cases decades after they have paid for minor mistakes, and with no opportunity for them to show they or their families deserve a second chance.

The Goodlatte bill is even more extreme, in part because it would leave Dreamers with no path to citizenship. It would also impose a mandatory, flawed E-Verify system that would shut many citizens out of work and burden their employers, and it would expand exploitative guestworker programs. In addition, it would make drastic cuts to legal immigration and expand interior enforcement.

Contrary to what some proponents of the Ryan and Goodlatte proposals have claimed, neither bill would end the inhumane treatment of children at the Southern border. This is because neither bill would bring an end to the administration’s recent policy decision that has intentionally caused trauma to children. The administration has ended humane, effective, and cost-efficient policies that provide alternatives to detention. Neither bill would restore them.

Separating children from their parents traumatizes families and undermines our country’s once honored commitment to ensuring fairness and protection for those fleeing persecution. Family separation disgraces America’s founding principles. And it won’t stand if you and your colleagues demand the president reverse his cruel policy.

Any member of Congress who claims to support young immigrants – Dreamers as well as children fleeing persecution – must oppose both the Ryan and the Goodlatte bills.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


9to5, National Association of Working Women

  1. Philip Randolph Institute


Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Alliance for Justice

American Association of University Women

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of School Administrators

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

American Federation of Teachers

American Library Association

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

Andrew Goodman Foundation

Anti-Defamation League

Arab American Institute (AAI)

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Center for Community Change Action

Center for Community Self-Help

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Center for Popular Democracy

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Crescent City Media Group

Defending Rights & Dissent

Demand Progress


Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Disability Rights International

Education Law Center – PA

Equal Justice Society

Equal Rights Advocates

Equality California

Faith in Public Life

Family Equality Council

Farmworker Justice

Feminist Majority

Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches


Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Watch

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Impact Fund

Interfaith Alliance

Japanese American Citizens League

Joint Action Committee

Justice in Aging

Juvenile Law Center

Lambda Legal

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Legal Aid at Work


Matthew Shepard Foundation

Muslim Advocates
Muslim Alliance in North America

Muslim Public Affairs Council


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders

National Association of Human Rights Workers

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Center for Youth Law

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Council of Jewish Women

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Federation of Business and Professional Womens Clubs-NYC (NFBPWC-NYC)

National Health Law Program

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

National LGBTQ Task Force Action fund

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates

People For the American Way

PFLAG National

Planned Parenthood Federation of America



Rock the Vote

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

School Social Work Association of America

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)


South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asian Bar Association North America

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Advocacy Institute

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)

The Workmen’s Circle

UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)

Union for Reform Judaism

United States International Council on Disabilities

United Steelworkers

Voices for Progress

Woodbury Fund

World Without Genocide