In the past two years, an alliance of conservative faith, law enforcement and business leadership has come together to forge a new consensus on immigrants and America. These relationships formed through outreach in the evangelical community; the development of state compacts; and regional summits in the Mountain West, Midwest and Southeast, where faith, law enforcement and business constituencies are strongest—and support for immigration needs a boost. The outreach and regional summits culminated in early December 2012, when over 250 faith, law enforcement and business leaders from across the country came to Washington, D.C., for a National Strategy Session and Advocacy Day. They told policymakers and the press about the new consensus on immigrants and America, and how those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business are committed to work together to pass broad immigration reform in 2013.
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These principles provide a basic foundation for the BBB network. Endorsement by a faith, law enforcement or business leader is not binding, but adds depth and breadth to the strength of the network.
We must deal with aspiring citizens by creating a road to lawful status and citizenship, while respecting those that have been in line and awaiting naturalization. These aspiring citizens are part of our communities and our economy and deserve to be treated with dignity. For immigrants striving for citizenship, the current maze of regulations provides no light at the end of the tunnel, because there’s often no line to get into for becoming a fully participating American. America needs a just solution for the undocumented immigrants who are currently living here, contributing to the progress and wellbeing of our communities. A solution that brings them out of the shadows, stabilizes the workforce, and allows all Americans to compete for jobs on a level playing field is needed.
We must modernize our nation’s immigration laws so that future immigration of workers and families is legal, fair and orderly. America is the land of freedom and opportunity and will always attract talented and ambitious individuals. We must fix our work visa system so the entrepreneurs and workers of today – and tomorrow – start companies and create jobs in America. We need a process that celebrates freedom and values hard work across the economic spectrum, welcoming the engineer as well as the farm worker.
We recognize the need for safety and security on the border and in our communities. As U.S. citizens, we have a right to expect the federal government to enforce the laws regarding who may cross our borders. Border security is a federal issue with national security, economic trade, and domestic safety implications. The federal government must fulfill its sovereign responsibilities to enforce the law while ensuring the protection of border communities. We need legal channels for people to come to the U.S. for legitimate purposes — channels that give us control over the process and prioritize enforcement resources so they can target criminal smugglers.
Worker programs, which allow employers to fill jobs when U.S. workers are not available, should also be part of any solution. These programs would address workforce needs that will help our economy expand and reduce any continued illegal immigration by removing the job magnet, which has provided an incentive for those to enter the country illegally in the past. Similarly, these programs, tightly controlled, will increase national security but providing a clearance process but which workers are checked before they enter the country and tracked while they are here. These workers will be entitled to the same protections as U.S. workers.