The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday the immigration reform bill set to be unveiled in the Senate is a step forward but includes too many obstacles for those who committed minor crimes or cannot afford the hefty fines required to start the path to legal status or citizenship.
“While this legislation is certainly a breakthrough, it will have to be improved to address severe obstacles for many aspiring citizens,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU.
Mr. Romero also found fault with the bill’s “wasteful border spending,” citing achieved benchmarks in border security and the amount of resources already devoted to immigration enforcement.
“Furthermore, the mandate to use job-killing, costly and privacy-invasive employment verification (E-verify) raises significant civil liberties concerns,” Mr. Romero said. “The ACLU will fight every step of the way to ensure that immigration reform achieves citizenship and a fundamentally fair immigration system without harming anyone’s civil rights and liberties.”
Senate legislation from the so-called “Gang of Eight” would require illegal immigrants to be in the system for more than a decade before they can apply for citizenship. On Monday, the White House said Mr. Obama could accept a plan that would take 10 to 13 years for illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.
Other objectives would have to be met separately: Border security would have to be improved, a national employer-verification system would be created, and a system would be implemented to track foreigners who have overstayed their visas.
Lawmakers were slated to introduce the legislation Tuesday but put it off a day after the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday.