Founded in 2004 as the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, America’s Voice (AV) maintains that the millions of illegal immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. make a mostly positive impact on society and should no longer be denied legal status or citizenship.
AV works to advance “policy change that guarantees full labor, civil and political rights for immigrants and their families”—most notably, “federal legislation that puts 11 million Americans-in-waiting [i.e., illegal immigrants] on the road to full citizenship.” Charging that current U.S. immigration laws are “outdated” and unduly restrictive, the organization calls for “comprehensive” immigration reform that implements incremental amnesty—“earned legalization,” as AV terms it. This process, in contrast to a free pass conferring instant citizenship, would require illegals to pay some type of monetary fine plus whatever back taxes they may owe, learn to speak English, show some evidence of an employment history, and submit to criminal background checks. AV recognizes that such stepping stones are far more politically palatable to the American public than blanket amnesty.
AV also seeks to make it easier for illegal immigrants’ relatives living abroad to come to the United States, so as to promote the “reunification of families” whose members have been “separated” by existing immigration laws.
According to AV, the legalization of “undocumented immigrants” would have economic benefits as well—i.e., it would “more than pa[y] for itself” through the “increased tax revenue” it would raise, “primarily from income and payroll taxes paid by legalized workers and their employers.” To buttress this claim, AV references a report published by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center which makes the same argument.
AV has vigorously championed the adoption of the DREAM Act, legislation that would not only lay out a path-to-citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and are still younger than 30, but would also allow them to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents.
In 2010, AV rebuked the Arizona legislature’s passage of SB 1070, a bill deputizing state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of criminal suspects whose behavior or circumstances seemed to indicate that they might be in the United States illegally. According to AV founder and executive director Frank Sharry, the Arizona bill reflected “the worst, most narro[w]-minded and bigoted instincts of the past.” Joining AV in its campaign against SB 1070 were such organizations as the Border Action Network, CREDO Action (a subsidiary of Working Assets), the National Council of La Raza, Reform Immigration for America, and the United Farm Workers of America.
In April 2013, AV supported a proposed Senate immigration bill advocating “a clear path to citizenship” for illegals already residing in the United States. Republican opponents of the bill, said AV, were essentially the types of “racist” politicians who had alienated Hispanic voters in recent decades with their “very public, very prominent anti-immigration stance.” Asserting, further, that “immigration reform has now replaced the economy/jobs as the number one issue facing the Latino community that these voters want addressed,” AV stated that Republicans could “reset their image with Latinos” only if they were to “change their position on immigration and embrace a path to citizenship for undocumented workers.”
For additional information on America’s Voice, click here.