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Dear Editor:
The National Immigration Forum issued the following press release.

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security today released statistics indicating that 1.063 million people were granted permanent resident status in the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2002 (Oct. 1, 2001 Sept. 30, 2002). The numbers, nearly identical to the figures for FY2001, indicate that the processing of applications for immigration kept pace with previous years. While the statistics measure paperwork processed, not the number of people arriving or seeking legal immigration status, the statistics released today indicate that not a great deal has changed regarding the numbers of immigrants granted permanent status (i.e., "green cards") in the US. "Immigration has been an overwhelmingly positive aspect of American society, past, present and future," said Angela Kelley, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum. "We are still attracting the best and the brightest, the hardest working, the most brave and adventurous people from around the world. They leave everything and everyone they know to seek the American Dream, just as generations of immigrants have done for 400 plus years on this continent." Almost two-thirds (63%) of those granted permanent status applied as the spouses or close family members of U.S. citizens or other legal immigrants. Another 17% were granted legal status because employers filling jobs were unable to find U.S. workers to fill them. "Since 9-11, a number of government actions have targeted all newcomers in the name of national security," Kelley said. "While some in America want to place the blame for 9-11 at the feet of all hard-working immigrants, the statistics released today show that we as a nation have not bought into that leap of logic. We must strive to be a safe and strong nation and still protect our winning tradition as a nation of immigrants." Kelley's organization has been a leading advocate for putting greater resources into the Department of Homeland Security's immigration functions, especially those functions that process the paperwork and run the background checks that allow immigrant families to be reunited and that match employers with workers. The Forum is also a leading voice for comprehensive immigration reform that would allow more of the immigration that happens to occur within the U.S.'s legal framework, rather than in the black market of human smuggling, document forgery, and undocumented immigration. "We know that laws and quotas made up in Washington are running smack in the face of the economic laws of supply and demand," Kelley said. "And the laws made in Washington are losing that battle. We need to reform our laws so that more of the immigrants that are coming are coming with a visa not a smuggler, so that people can live and work above board, not in the shadows or margins of our society. Reform is critical to our economic security and our national security."

Douglas G. Rivlin, Director of Communication
National Immigration Forum