MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, joined representatives from other immigrant rights groups in a telebriefing for the press earlier this week to urge President Obama to immediately suspend deportations of those potentially eligible for legalization while Congress deliberates on immigration reform. More than 410,000 were deported last year, the most ever. These deportations break apart thousands of families, and in many cases, the family members allowed to stay suffer severe financial strain as a result of losing an economic contributor to the household. Deportations also disrupt communities and workplaces when someone with strong connections to the community is seized and removed.

The President refused to suspend deportations earlier this year, but now that a reform proposal has been offered, the administration should suspend deportations of undocumented immigrants who will be eligible to stay if the bill passes. In the Washington Post, Saenz said, "We know what the legislation says. We are simply demanding they [Administration leadership] act in a way that's consistent with those principles." And in the New York Times, Saenz was also quoted, "It's a simple matter of fairness and justice. It makes no sense to deport those who would be eligible for that relief."

Click HERE to view the Washington Post article.

Click HERE to view the New York Times article.

Under the proposed bipartisan immigration legislation introduced in the United States Senate, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before Dec. 31, 2011 would receive legal protection, with a chance to earn a green card in 10 years and citizenship three years after that, if they meet certain conditions, including no serious criminal record.

Following the telebriefing, Saenz released the following statement:

"It is a simple matter of fairness and justice that we cease removing those immigrants who would be eligible for relief under the proposed bipartisan immigration reform legislation. The American people and bipartisan leaders nationwide support providing legal protections to those who have labored in our industry and raised families in our community; it would be cruel and nonsensical to deny widely supported and contemplated relief to some, simply because of a delayed effe ctive date. So long as relief is being seriously debated in Congress, the federal government should suspend deportations of those who could claim protection under the proposed law."

MALDEF, The AFL-CIO, United We Dream, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) announced an organizational sign-on letter of immigrant rights groups, asking the President to take immediate action to alleviate the suffering caused by on-going record deportations, and help build bi-partisan consensus in the Senate through a suspension of removals of individuals who would qualify to stay in the country once the bill passes. Your organization can sign-on here and individuals visiting may sign a petition.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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