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November 15, 2016

Honorable Donald J. Trump
President-Elect of the United States
Trump Tower
New York City, NY

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

Please accept my congratulations on your being elected to lead our nation for the next four years!

During the campaign you stated your commitment to strengthening our immigration policy, particularly with regard to our southern border. You also articulated the need to monitor and control visa over-stayers, and to take aggressive action to remove criminals who lack immigration status. Without a doubt, such long overdue measures will receive the support of the majority of Americans.

At the same time, such a balanced approach would give a measure of hope to some nine to ten million undocumented immigrants, workers who are law-abiding and industrious and provide needed services in many sectors of the economy. Like earlier generations of new-comers they bring energy to our country; they know that only by risk and sacrifice and by hard work can their families have a better life.

Overshadowed within these numbers, there are three to four million citizen children who have been born in the United States. They live in constant fear that their undocumented parents will be deported, leaving them as virtual orphans. Over the past eleven years in our efforts to help these children, as have other organizations, we are acutely aware of their intense fears. Many of these children have already seen their friends become homeless or often in the custody of child protective services.

It is for these parents and for these children that we urge you to take early steps to work with the Congress in order to enact appropriate legislation that would permit these families to stay together in this country. From our vantage point, it is not hard to imagine that such a policy would get overwhelming support from the majority of Americans.

To that end we propose permitting non-criminal undocumented immigrants -- especially those with families -- to remain in this country under the following conditions:

  • Pay a fine for having entered the country illegally.
  • Receive temporary sanctions to work in the U.S. subject to periodic reviews and a renewal process that would verify that they have committed no crimes, other than the misdemeanor offense of illegal entry into the U.S.
  • Submit an application for permanent residency with the understanding that it would queue behind those of prior applicants, according to their respective country of origin. The purpose here is to ensure an orderly and merit-based system, and to avoid the appearance of anyone benefiting for having entered the country illegally.

Our hope is that you will lead the country in mending a long-standing immigration problem by underscoring that an ample and lawful workforce will spur economic growth. And, that we can do this and still stay true to American values of fairness and justice. With a secure border and visa-over-stayers substantially reduced, various sectors can openly employ sufficient workers who are subject to coherent immigration and work policies and who pay their share of taxes. In an orderly system, lasting benefits can also come to the newly-entered as they provide services to the American people while supporting their families under the full light of the law and our values.

Our prayers are with you and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence as you assemble your team and prepare to take office on January 20th.


Jose R. Kennard,

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