National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

House Immigration Reform Bills


In the days and weeks after the introduction of a comprehensive immigration bill in the House of Representatives, check back here regularly for summaries and analysis of provisions in the bill that will impact people of low income, and for the latest developments related to the bill. Check here, too, for information about piecemeal-approach bills, such as H.R. 1772 and H.R. 2278, introduced in the House.


Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013

On Oct. 2, 2013, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) and other House Democrats introduced H.R. 15, which is based largely on the Senate Judiciary Committee–passed version of the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744). Most importantly, the bill envisions a path to U.S. citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The bill is far from perfect. We remain concerned that the 10- to 13-year road to citizenship these bills envision is too long, is extremely narrow, and will be especially difficult for low-income immigrants.


We Are United in Support of Immigration Reform That Protects & Promotes the Interests of DREAMers, Their Families, and Their Communities (PDF)

“We . . . write to you as members of the DREAM Policy Table to urge you to support immigration reform that includes an inclusive roadmap to citizenship for immigrant youth, their families, and all of the 11 million aspiring citizens. The DREAM Policy Table is comprised of over 100 youth-led, education, labor, faith-based, civil rights, immigrant rights, and child advocacy organizations that have historically supported passage of the DREAM Act. The undersigned organizations are now united in support of immigration reform that protects and promotes the interests of DREAMers, their families, and their communities.”

Enforcement-Only Bills

• Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, H.R. 2278

• Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 1772

Letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives (June 18, 2013; PDF)

This letter, signed by more than 130 national, state, and local organizations, expresses deep disappointment at the House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of three counterproductive, noncomprehensive immigration-related bills. These bills would create hundreds of thousands of new guest workers, allow the 50 states and also localities to create and enforce their own immigration enforcement laws, and impose an unworkable electronic employment eligibility verification system.The three bills are:

SAFE Act (enforcement-only)

The Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act

The SAFE Act was introduced in June 2013 by the chair of the House of Representatives’ Immigration Subcommittee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), with the support of the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). If enacted, the SAFE Act’s single-minded focus on immigration enforcement will increase detentions and deportations, and create an environment of rampant racial profiling and unconstitutional detentions without fixing the immigration system’s problems.

“Son of Sensenbrenner” Bill Would Make Our Communities Un-SAFE

H.R. 2278 would subject anyone who appears to be an “immigrant” to unjustified detention and all undocumented immigrants to criminal prosecution, and would delegate unchecked immigration enforcement authorities to states, leaving the federal government to foot the bill. Here are five reasons to oppose H.R. 2278.

Letters to Congress about the “SAFE” Act

Hearing on H.R. 2278, Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act (PDF)

Testimony of Karen C. Tumlin, Managing Attorney, National Immigration Law Center, submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary, 6/13/13.


“The SAFE Act . . . focuses on immigration enforcement without fixing the legal immigration system’s problems. It is widely recognized that now is the time for commonsense reform that creates a road to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants and addresses the country’s needs for an immigration system that strengthens families and bolsters the economy. An enforcement-only approach to immigration will not solve the current problems with our immigration system—problems that we can all agree upon—and this bill proposes only more of the same. Even more troubling, the SAFE Act, if enacted, would radically alter the nature of federal immigration enforcement by vesting enforcement decisions in the hands of state and local actors without federal oversight. NILC’s firsthand experience with laws and policies similar to the SAFE Act have convinced us that it will create an environment of rampant racial profiling and unlawful discrimination and breed distrust of law enforcement, which decreases public safety.”

Legal Workforce Act (employment eligibility verification)

The Legal Workforce Act of 2013 (H.R. 1772)

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith. Would require U.S. employers to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system, or EEVS.