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MIAMI- The following statement on recent proposals regarding reform of America's immigration system is from Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida: 


"We are very pleased that action finally seems to be underway to reform our immigration system in the United States. If Congress acts, we now have an opportunity to create a roadmap to citizenship for millions of aspiring citizens.

"Right now, our broken immigration system is rife with severe civil rights and civil liberties problems, and reform is decades overdue. There are about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country and there is currently no effective way for these aspiring citizens to become citizens. As we move forward to fix this broken system, we must do so in a way that honors our country’s promise of equality to all.

"Going forward, the politically-motivated claim of need to “secure the borders” cannot be used as an excuse not to enact a path to citizenship for those who are already in the country, especially given the extraordinary financial resources poured into border enforcement efforts at a time when net undocumented migration to the U.S. is at or below zero. Nor can legislators allow the plight of the DREAMers – of whom there are more in Florida than any other state – to go unaddressed in the final bill, nor unfair policies that split up same-sex couples based on immigration status. This must also not be sued as an opportunity to expand the failed immigration enforcement programs that use the criminal justice system as a substitute for real immigration reform.

"Our country has long used the criminal justice system as our de facto immigration policy through programs like 287(g) and the Secure Communities program that waste money, tear families apart, exacerbate racial profiling and sow distrust between immigrant communities and police. Expanding these programs or creating new border security, enforcement, or national ID measures would only increase the opportunity for abuses. Immigration reform must also include access to the courts, access to counsel and an end to the needless detention of individuals who are not flight risks.

"Given the scope of the civil liberties problems with our country’s immigration system, any legislative proposal must protect  the rights of every person living the United States. We all deserve a commonsense immigration process that upholds the values that we all share – hard work, taking care of our families and looking out for each other. Because of Florida’s large immigrant population, any proposal will have an profound impact on our communities. For that reason, the ACLU of Florida will continue to advocate for legislative proposals that allow all Floridians to enjoy the rights laid out in our Constitution and its promise of equality.

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