STATEMENT: Angela Maria Kelley and Neera Tanden on Senate Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Today the bipartisan “Gang of 8” released a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Experts from the Center for American Progress, Angela Maria Kelley and Neera Tanden, released the following statements.

Angela Maria Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress:

Today’s principles provide a strong foundation on which to build common-sense immigration policy. The senators’ framework leads with the concept of citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country, acknowledges that our immigration system is broken, and offers a road map for smart reform. Across the Capitol,  House Republican leaders like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are supporting reform, including a bipartisan group similar to the Senate’s that includes notable Republicans such as Rep. John Carter (TX). Finally, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the president has been hard at work on a reform package and is set to launch the administration’s push for reform in a speech tomorrow. There is a veritable race across Washington to move a bill and reach a Rose Garden ceremony.

The fact that a path to citizenship is the number one plank in the framework illustrates just how much the debate has changed since 2007. The framework represents a shift from an enforcement-centric frame to one that emphasizes the economic and social imperatives of reforming our immigration system. The immigration code is complex, requiring careful scrutiny to ensure that the legislative language embraces this shift. We will be watching, for example, to see whether the border security benchmarks are reasonable, or if they create a path to citizenship in name only. We also want to see whether all families, regardless of sexual orientation, are included in the legislation, since they are notably absent from the framework. Despite our optimism about the principles and their potential, we are concerned that they are silent in addressing the immigration obstacles that binational same-sex couples face. All families deserve fair treatment. The plight of same-sex couples should not be ignored as the policymaking process moves ahead. Still, this is a big step forward.

Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress:

The principles announced in the framework indicate that this time the debate over comprehensive immigration reform will be a different, more progressive conversation. I applaud that these principles show a commitment to creating a clear, fair path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country, and setting up a workable plan for future immigrants. While the framework isn’t perfect, and we hope that there will be improvements that ensure fairness for all immigrants, this is a critical step. It is past time to make progress, and the public is demanding action. The framework laid out today is a great start to crafting a policy that will create a better, more prosperous America.

To speak with Angela Maria Kelley, please contact Crystal Patterson at 202.478.6350 or