SANTA FE, NM -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson criticized today's federal roundup of illegal immigrants in Connecticut and renewed his call for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
"The people targeted in today's raid are hard working and productive. They have families and they don't have criminal records," said Governor Richardson. "The tactics reportedly used by agents -- taking suspects away in front of family members, including young children -- are extreme and uncalled for. This is another clear example of why Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible."
Governor Richardson urged Congress to continue working to fix the immigration bill currently being debated in the US Senate.
"This legislation makes a good start toward re-securing our southern border, including 18,000 new Border Patrol agents -- new technology to aid interdiction, a system for employers to verify job applicants are here legally, and penalties for those employers who don't. It also begins to address the application backlog that hurts those immigrants who have followed the rules and waited in line.
The 12 million illegal immigrants already here should meet tough requirements -- keeping a clean record, maintaining good employment histories, and waiting eight years before applying for permanent resident status," stated Governor Richardson. "But there needs to be a reasonable, humane path to earned legalization and ultimately citizenship.
While our country should always look to make our workforce globally competitive, we should be careful not to tear apart America's families. The stability that a family provides to a new citizen is a strong guarantor of long-term success -- success that often comes in the form of the next generation. The new bill diminishes the role of family in the immigration process, and that is something I cannot accept.
I also cannot support the proposed guest worker program as it stands now, which cannot be designed to only meet the needs of employers, and forget to protect the basic dignity and rights of these low-skilled workers. But I remain optimistic that these concerns can and will be addressed through vigorous debate and serious legislative deliberation."