- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2015

An immigrant-rights group proposed a “Bill of Rights” for illegal immigrants Thursday, demanding that Americans recognize there are millions already in the country who deserve health care, in-state tuition rates for college and a guarantee of citizenship in the long term.

The list of demands runs 10 items long — the same as the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights — and also calls for an end to arrests and deportations for “all law-abiding undocumented Americans.”

The document was circulated by United We Stay, which is a group of illegal immigrants, first generation Americans and human rights activists pushing for changes to immigration law.

“We know we have human rights, even though our very presence is deemed illegal and our existence alien. Now we have our own Bill of Rights and we want it to be the framework for every immigration decision going forward from the local to the national level,” the group said in a statement announcing their demands.

The 10 points include a demand that they be accorded respect; calls for citizenship rights and an immediate deferment of deportations; in-state tuition at public colleges; “wage equality”; medical care; and protection against deportation if illegal immigrants report a crime as a witness.

The list also includes a specific demand for “compelled authorization of birth certificates for our U.S.-born children.” That appears to be pushback against the state of Texas, where officials have ruled that parents must present valid ID to get children’s birth certificates — and have deemed the Mexican government’s Matricula Consular ID card not to be acceptable as primary identification.

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A federal court has allowed that Texas policy to go into effect, ruling that there are questions about the reliability of the Mexican cards and that state officials have an interest in making sure only authorized relatives are able to get birth certificates.

The list of rights begins with a protest against the terms “illegal” and “alien.” Immigrant-rights advocates say both terms are dehumanizing, and have offered “undocumented workers” or, in the case of United We Stand, “Undocumented Americans,” as their preferred term.

The document is meant to serve as a goalpost for the ongoing immigration debate. Immigrant-rights groups had been gaining ground in recent years, with polls suggesting Americans were increasingly open to legalization.

A legalization bill even passed the Senate in 2013 — but Democrats, who controlled the chamber, never sent it to the GOP-run House for action.

The issue then stalled last year after President Obama took unilateral action to grant a deportation amnesty to as many as 5 million of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Federal courts have put that amnesty on hold, but Mr. Obama’s other policies stopping deportations for most illegal immigrants remain in place, which has effectively checked off one of the list of rights’ demands.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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