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Carter calls immigration human rights issue, supports Senate bill

[JURIST] Former US President Jimmy Carter [official profile] told a conference of human rights leaders [backgrounder] at the The Carter Center [advocacy website] in Atlanta Wednesday that immigration was a human rights issue and that he backed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act [S 2611 summary] now advancing through the Senate [JURIST report].

In an op-ed [text] that appeared in the Miami Herald and other newspapers earlier this week, Carter said:

The guest worker program put forward by President Bush ... can provide a reasonable solution to the longstanding conflict of having overly restrictive American laws technically violated by hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of undocumented workers.

This proposal creates a reasonable balance between the need for greater border security and more orderly regulation of immigrant workers. It will double the number of agents for border patrol and interior enforcement and restrict the passage of illegal migrants in North America both from Mexico into the United States and from other countries into Mexico.
Carter expressed disapproval of competing legislation approved by the House of Representatives [JURIST report] that would deport undocumented workers, impose harsh sanctions on their employers and construct a 700-mile fence across the border with Mexico, calling the measures "infeasible and ... catastrophic to the American economy."

Carter, who co-founded The Carter Center for advancing human rights in 1982 with wife Rosalynn, has been openly critical of President Bush [JURIST report] in the past, most recently over the NSA domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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