Immigrant rights activists and other Hispanic organizations will organize at least 140 protests, manifestations and other events in 39 states in the US, planned for Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)
Although the immigration reform bill presented by Democrats on Wednesday has received some criticism, it is mainly being praised for providing a pathway to legal status for the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S.
The bill, which was authored by Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi and a dozen Democrats, maintains many elements from the Senate bill passed in June, including a provision to provide immigrants with a pathway to citizenship and to tighten border security.
However, the House bill omits a controversial provision in the Senate measure that called for adding 700 miles of fencing and 20,000 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, reports The Washington Post. It adds, however, a provision that requires the Department of Homeland Security to establish a strategy for arresting 90 percent of people who cross the southern border illegally. It also doesn't call for new spending, unlike the Senate bill that proposes $46 billion in new spending on drones, helicopters and other technology, a doubling of agents patrolling the border with Mexico and hundreds of miles of new fencing.
Some advocates of more lenient immigration policies lamented the Democratic bill for omitting a few key factors including the diversity visa program and the sibling category from family reunification petitions, reports Fox News Latino.
However, the bill recieved lots of praise from advocates hoping it will build momentum for the bill to advance in the House.
Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Legislative Office, released a statement saying:
"This bill is an admirable attempt to shake Congress free from its immigration logjam. Though mired in a fiscal stalemate, Congress cannot abdicate its duty to fix a broken immigration system that needlessly punishes aspiring citizens and their families. The ACLU will continue to work to make civil liberties improvements to whatever emerges from each chamber before final legislation heads to President Obama's desk."
Likewise, Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), commended the bill.
"It has been nearly 100 days since the Senate passed bipartisan immigration reform legislation, yet the House remains a stumbling block. However, we welcome today's promise of hope in the form of a proposal by House Democrats," said Murguia in a statement. "Now is the time for the House to deliver the solutions America needs, and one thing is clear: America deserves a vote. Today's proposal reaffirms that restoring the rule of law requires a functioning, modern immigration system."