The United States’ antiquated immigration system has not adapted to local and global economic, climate and demographic realities of today. Among other things, it fundamentally fails to recognize the humanity and dignity of immigrants.

Congress last approved an immigration legalization program, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, more than 30 years ago. Successive measures, such as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), stressed enforcement with no legalization safety valve. As a result:

  • More than 20 million immigrants suffered deportation, their families traumatized by separation
  • Fear of law enforcement grew in local communities
  • Critical industries endured a shortage of legal workers
  • Immigrant workers were left unprotected by a system that all but ignored them

Our Principles

CHIRLA mobilizes its members to reject punitive immigration enforcement and work for a truly fair, inclusive, and equitable immigration system. The following principles guide our work:

  • Recognize citizenship with dignity for all immigrants: CHIRLA calls for immediate immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for all undocumented people.
  • Secure family unity as an immigration cornerstone: A return to family-based immigration guarantees our prosperity and national cohesion.
  • Uphold the human and civil rights of all immigrants: Ensure equal protection under law for all immigrants.
  • Strengthen labor rights for all immigrants: Citizenship status should not be a hurdle to justice for vulnerable workers. Our government must affirm the rights of all workers, including immigrants. This means safe working conditions and a living wage for all.
  • Roll back immigration enforcement: Move immigration processes from a punitive, costly model that denies rights to a service-oriented model that helps immigrants progress toward citizenship.
  • Advance immigrant integration: New Americans should have access to programs -- from language learning to financial literacy -- to help them better develop their talent and contribute to our society.
  • The future flow of migration: Our government must craft an immigration system that recognizes migration as a human process and allows people an orderly escape from poverty, violence and corruption.
  • Foster humane foreign policy: Our government must act in multilateral coalitions that promote peace and preserve the natural world, sign treaties that do not destroy other countries’ economies, and be a leader for good in the world.
  • Recognize immigration’s role in revitalizing the economy: From its inception, our nation benefited from the innovation and contributions of immigrants. It must honor those contributions and recognize that it cannot succeed with only the efforts of its native-born workers.