Several members of AILA’s Executive Committee share their reactions to President Trump’s Joint Address to Congress on February 28, 2017:

“We agree that we have to restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders, and especially to the agencies responsible for enforcing that law. The record of disregard for basic rights by officials of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including warrantless searches and seizures of Americans, demonstrates the urgent need for oversight of enforcement at our borders by Congress and the courts.” Bill Stock

“We should not forget our Nation’s founding principles; we must remain a beacon of hope for the most vulnerable and lead by example, providing a viable and secure system for those seeking to flee persecution and violence.” Annaluisa Padilla

“In his speech, President Trump spoke of being united in ‘condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.’ Yet his actions to date have often furthered hate and division.  His travel ban demonized and dehumanized entire populations of Muslim-dominated countries – babies, scholars, physicians, scientists, journalists – every single citizen of those seven countries without a shred of evidence that anyone affected intended to do us harm. And even in the address last night, he cited a National Academy of Sciences report saying it concluded that our immigration system costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year, a divisive statement that was quickly debunked by the Associated Press. Yet again, he repeated the accusation that immigrants depress wages and steal American jobs even though the facts show that 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants and that immigrants actually create jobs.” Jennifer Minear

“To any in the Administration who believe that the merciless enforcement of our laws against long-time residents whose only violation of our laws was unlawful entry or overstaying a visa, I would ask you this question: what will you say to the American family that loses their father, their mother, their job or their employees, because America’s immigration system provides no path for those immigrants to legalize their status?” Bill Stock

“President Trump’s address to Congress left me with the impression there is a new boogieman: immigration.  From the exaggeration of the crimes committed by undocumented individuals, to the creation of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), the President seemed to focus on the small anomalies in the immigration system rather than the immense benefits. He creates a fear that just should not exist. He ignores the millions of immigrants that entered with visas but who are held hostage by the lack of options and opportunity in the current immigration system. The President stated at the end of his speech, ‘From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears,’ but his actions and statements could not be more contrary to that sentiment.” Allen Orr

“We applaud the willingness of the Administration to work with Congress on reforms of the legal immigration system.  Any reform, however, must serve the interests of American communities.  If ‘merit-based’ immigration reform is merely code for excluding those who seek to join family members in the United States, it will not serve American interests and will shrink the American economy.” Bill Stock

“It is true that Canada and Australia have merit-based systems, but they also have family reunification, refugee, asylum and other elements, and in fact the United States has a merit-based and financial well-being aspect to our system as well. Our country does need immigration laws that work for the 21st century but ‘Making America Great’ will only be possible by welcoming diversity and developing the future scientists, engineers, artists, designers and workers who support our economy. A system that focuses solely on those who have already achieved something misses out on a whole generation of leaders America could welcome, nurture, and see add to our shared prosperity.” Anastasia Tonello

“As an optimistic advocate for fair and humane immigration law and policy, I strongly support the broad ideas the president outlined in his speech about reforming our system of legal immigration while safeguarding our economic and security interests. I would welcome the opportunity to help advance an agenda of rational immigration reform that promotes opportunity for both Americans and immigrants alike.  But, so far, the deeds of this president have taken us in the opposite direction from many of his words last night.” Jennifer Minear 

For more information, check out AILA’s Featured Issue Page – Immigration 2017: A New Administration and Congress.