Tuesday, February 2, 2010

PRESIDENT'S BUDGET INCLUDES MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IN IMMIGRATION CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM STILL REQUIRED

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Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his FY2011 federal budget request, including funding for immigration-related provisions such as border and interior enforcement, the immigration court system, and immigrant integration programs. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, non-profit pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington.

"The President's new budget reflects the Administration's commitment to improving our deeply flawed immigration system. The budget provides for increasing accountability and oversight, smart immigration enforcement that targets the most pressing dangers, and increased investment in immigrant integration. Nevertheless, without passage of comprehensive immigration reform, the fundamental problems of our immigration system will still remain.

We welcome the Administration's ongoing effort to move towards a border security strategy that is more effective, accountable and balanced. The proposed budget increases resources to fight drug and gun smuggling-related cross-border crime. It also includes staffing and technology expansions and improvements at ports of entry, including increased funding for passenger and cargo screening at ports of entry. This will begin to address the lack of resources at border crossing points that can turn legal entry into the U.S. into an ordeal.

The budget provides funding that will move the immigration court system more into line with American notions of justice and due process. It provides additional resources to relieve overburdened immigration courts nationwide, which are strained by case backlogs and staffing shortages. The President's budget also provides funding to support the recently announced and much-needed reforms to the immigration detention system. The DHS Inspector General's Office will have more resources to fulfill its responsibility as the chief government watchdog within DHS to hold agency personnel accountable for their actions.

The budget request addresses the need to improve the flawed E-Verify worker verification system. The Administration plans to continue to strengthen system monitoring and compliance, and will continue to work to improve the system's accuracy. It is imperative that the Administration perfects E-Verify or any worker verification system, to reduce the number of citizens and legal immigrants who are unfairly prevented from working due to systemic data-error problems and to protect workers against misuse of the system by bad-faith employers.

Among the priorities of the FY2011 federal budget is the improvement of processing of immigration applications. This reflects the Administration's long-term effort to increase efficiency at U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service by relying more on technology and less on paper-based processing. We are heartened by the Administration's commitment to promote the integration of America's newcomers with increased support for the Office of Citizenship and funding for grants to organizations that help immigrants learn English and prepare for citizenship.

While the budget makes some positive changes in enforcement and service priorities, there is only so much the Administration can do without Congressional action on immigration reform. The fundamental problem remains: billions of dollars will be wasted enforcing the rules of a system that is broken. Comprehensive immigration reform is the only solution that will truly provide meaningful, long-lasting reform of our immigration laws."

KJ 

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