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Contact: Ed Walz
Phone: (202) 657-0685

Children Have Much to Gain from Immigration Reform Proposals, Advocates Say

Children of Immigrants

Ed Walz
(202) 657-0685 (office)

Washington — The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus today reacted to the release of immigration reform principles, from a children’s perspective. An analysis of the principles released today by the White House and those released Monday by a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators found much in common on critical children’s issues.

“Children of immigrants are one-fourth of the kids in America, so getting reform done means getting it right for kids,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley. “And the principles outlined by President Obama and bipartisan reformers in the Senate are a strong start.”

President Barack Obama announced his Administration’s immigration reform principles with a speech today in Las Vegas, Nevada. Shared reform principles were also released yesterday by a “gang of eight” U.S. senators: Dick Durbin (D-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Reviewing both sets of principles, First Focus noted agreement on several priority issues for children:

  • An inclusive roadmap to citizenship – Accessible to children who are undocumented and the undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children;
  • An expedited citizenship roadmap for DREAMers – Allowing America’s economy to benefit from the contributions of aspiring citizens who were brought to the United States as minors without documentation; and
  • Modernizing family immigration – To eliminate the family-based immigration backlog and extensive waiting periods, which separate millions of children from their parents for years at a time

“The momentum this week has been very encouraging,” said Lesley. “It’s important that we keep moving forward, because the current law ignores children’s best interests, tearing families apart, subjecting kids to emotional trauma, and reducing their chances to succeed in school and contribute to our future economy.”

President Obama urged Congress to move quickly from the general principles released this week to the development of specific legislation. As the process moves forward, key issues identified by First Focus include prioritizing children’s best interests in family-sponsored immigration and enforcement reforms, specific protections for children impacted by immigration enforcement, and access to health care and other basic needs for children. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also announced this week that the Senate will prioritize the development of immigration reform legislation.

“America needs an immigration system that reflects our values and advances our interests,” said Lesley. “That means keeping families together, keeping children safe, and giving them a chance to grow into productive citizens.”

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit