For the first time in 10 its 10-year history, the members of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) formally gathered to raise awareness about an issue that is important to both the U.S. Hispanic community and the U.S. at large.
Leaders of CHLI outlined several key principles that they believe should be included in immigration reform legislation. Founded in 2003, CHLI is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to fostering a broad awareness of the diversity of thought, heritage, interests and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent.
"CHLI strongly believes that immigration reform is necessary and that Congress should pass it before it adjourns this year," said
CHLI's founder and chairman, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart. "Our board of directors unanimously adopted the statement we have made public today, and we urge Congress to act without further delay."
CHLI held a press conference this week to announce its points on immigration reform. In attendance was Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8),
Congressman David Valadao (CA-21), and Mary Ann Gomez, executive director, CHLI.
Leaders of CHLI released an official statement on immigration reform: Over the past several years creating a common sense path to citizenship has been a topic of many public and private discussions; those discussions will only intensify in the coming weeks as Congress and the President consider immigration reform legislation. The policy implications, however, are not limited to the United States, as our nation is linked to many homelands, cultures, and peoples from around the world.
CHLI believes that an earned legalization process is the most reasonable way to address undocumented persons currently in the United States, and recognizes there should be special consideration for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and "Dreamers."
CHLI believes all efforts should be made to expedite the transition to permanent legal status of qualified foreign undergraduate and graduate students studying in the United States who seek such status. Additionally, to improve the quality of education for all students, primary and secondary school education funding levels should be increased, particularly in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs throughout the U.S.
CHLI recognizes that an expanded H-1B, L-1, and EB visa program for professionals and highly skilled workers, and H-2B temporary visas that support seasonal industries and small businesses are critical to our national economy. CHLI further believes that improving the efficiency of the agricultural worker visa program (H-2A) will allow the U.S. to maintain a reliable agricultural workforce. This, in turn, will allow for the U.S. to continue producing its own food.
CHLI also believes that delays, backlogs, and disruptions in the immigration and border management systems that impede the movement of people and legitimate cargo across U.S. borders must be addressed, and increased enforcement targeting human trafficking, drug smuggling, terrorism and counterfeit goods across U.S. borders is key to maintaining U.S. security and prosperity.
Follow CHLI at Facebook: facebook.com/CongressionalHispanicLeadershipInstitutechli, on Twitter: @TheCHLI; and YouTube: youtube.com/user/TheCHLInstitute.
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