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Should America's illegal immigrants be offered legal status?

Published on Tue, Oct 12, 2010

Americans are justifiably frustrated that 11 million unauthorized immigrants now live in the United States. Yet the majority of them would have preferred to come legally; there was simply no way under current immigration laws. Moreover, most of them are working, paying taxes, and buying US goods. Other than lacking legal status, most are law-abiding residents. Many are married to US citizens, with children who are citizens.

The problem is that they are often willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions, which creates unfair competition for US workers and gives unscrupulous employers an unfair advantage over law-abiding employers.

We could continue on the same path we have pursued for two decades: spending more money on enforcement and passing increasingly harsh laws in an attempt to drive unauthorized immigrants out. But despite the billions of dollars we’ve spent building walls, hiring border patrol agents, and detaining and deporting hundreds of thousands, the unauthorized population hasn’t decreased significantly.

Instead of “enforcement only,” we should offer unauthorized immigrants a chance to come forward, register, pay a fine, learn English, pass background checks, and legalize their status.

Legalizing them would inject a new level of certainty into their lives, allowing them to invest more in themselves and their communities. Legalized immigrants will earn more, pay more taxes, consume more, buy houses, start businesses, and contribute more to the economy.

Americans want real solutions to the problem of unauthorized immigration that are practical and fair. Enforcement alone has failed. We need comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program.

– Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst, American Immigration Council’s Immigration Policy Center

Published in the The Christian Science Monitor

Litigation Clearinghouse Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 10

This issue covers a Seventh Circuit decision holding that the BIA abused its discretion in denying a continuance of an "arriving alien" seeking adjustment; a lawsuit filed by Fragomen, Del Ray, Bernsen Loewy LLP against the Department of Labor; a Second Circuit decision examining the scope of APA review; and a favorable First Circuit EAJA decision in a naturalization delay case.

Published On: Sunday, September 14, 2008 | Download File

Birthright Citizenship’s Unlikely Road to Supreme Court

Published on Mon, Jan 10, 2011

“Those children can’t petition for their parents to become U.S. citizens until they are 21 years old and it most cases, the parents would be barred from getting a visa to the United States for 10 years,” said Michelle Waslin, senior policy analyst at the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “So that’s a 31-year plan. It doesn’t seem like it’s a very good plan to legalize your status here in the U.S. It doesn’t protect them from deportation.”

Waslin argues that such a change in the law will affect all citizens, creating a complicated bureaucracy.

“My birth certificate will no longer be proof of my U.S. citizenship, so how would anybody prove their citizenship?” she asked.

Published in the Immigrant Magazine

Litigation Clearinghouse Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 15

This issue covers the recently filed natz delay class actions, CIS memo rejecting Perez-Gonzales, VWP case, and resource for attorneys litigating gender-based asylum claims.

Published On: Wednesday, August 9, 2006 | Download File

Birthright of illegal residents' children is under attack

Published on Fri, Mar 04, 2011

Twelve years ago, Lizbeth Ramos and her common-law husband, Juan, left their hometown near Puebla, Mexico, and set out on foot across the desert for the Arizona border, to slip into new lives as illegal immigrants.

He found work in a produce market in the Philadelphia area, she in a boutique. They saved up to start a family.

Now 30, she lies on an examination table in Pennsylvania Hospital, at a weekly obstetrics clinic for immigrant women, no status questions asked. As a doctor slides an ultrasound wand over her bulging belly, her eyes are transfixed by the monitor. She is carrying twins.

The moment they enter the world, they will be what their parents are not: U.S. citizens.

Such is their birthright, granted by the 14th Amendment to an estimated 340,000 babies born annually to undocumented immigrants.

But in the marathon fight over immigration control, that 143-year-old constitutional guarantee has become the latest target and the delivery room the new front. The pejorative anchor babies already is in the lexicon.

"Once a child is born here, the parents make the argument that they should be allowed to stay as that child's guardian. They are using that child as an anchor [to] play on our heartstrings," said Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican who has built a national reputation as a crusader against what he calls "illegal alien invaders."

Immigrant advocates dismiss his contention as myth, and point to a recent study that found that undocumented immigrants generally "come for work and to join family members." The Washington-based nonprofit Immigration Policy Center concluded that "they do not come specifically to give birth" and game the immigration system.

Such assertions have not tempered efforts by immigration-control proponents to effectively do away with "birthright citizenship" for illegal immigrants' children.Read more...

Published in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Family Unity: Escutia v. Reno

This lawsuit challenges INS' failure to timely adjudicate applications under the Family Unity Program.

This lawsuit challenges INS' failure to timely adjudicate applications under the Family Unity Program.

  • AILF and the INS have reached a final agreement to settle Escutia v. Reno, a case addressing the INS's failure to timely adjudicate applications under the Family Unity Program.
  • AILF has filed a national class action lawsuit against the INS for its failure to timely adjudicate applications under the Family Unity Program. Click here to see the complaint and press release.

Anne Glassl Walks in Memphis

March, 2010

Anne Glassl came to the United States from Hamburg, Germany. She is training in Memphis, Tennessee in the field of product development. On a previous vacation to the U.S., Anne had the chance to visit Memphis. When the opportunity came to train in the Southern city, she had a good idea of what to expect, describing Memphis as “a very charming town.” Read more...