It is clear that relief to immigrant communities will not come from this Congress. In absence of a federal legislative solution, we urge President Obama to use his administrative powers to stop the vicious deportation-only strategy that is devastating our communities. President Obama has called the immigration system “broken” and labeled mass deportation as an “intolerable” solution. We should not continue separating families, stymieing young people’s potential and driving breadwinners out of their jobs while upholding broken laws.
The Obama Administration’s shift away from massive work place raids has provided a veneer of civility to immigration enforcement, but the impact on families and communities is no less sinister. Deportations are at record levels, and under DHS Secretary Napolitano, deportations have increased by more than 60 percent. Programs that engage local law enforcement in the deportation round-up have exacerbated the problem while bringing additional burdens to local governments, worsening public safety and threatening basic civil rights. President Obama is on pace to deport more than 1,000,000 people to whom he promised a practical solution that would hold everyone accountable, get people into the system, and allow law-abiding parents and workers to continue working, raising their families, and contributing to our economy and communities.
The Change Takes Courage Campaign urges President Obama and his administration to uphold his repeated promises of meaningful immigration reform by immediately enacting the following policies:
1. Keep families together.
- End the deportations of parents of U.S. citizen children. Separating parents from children is a morally reprehensible act. It’s violation of America’s core values. Consider the plight of Raul Cardenas of Denver who has been married to a U.S. citizen for more than 8 years and has a young daughter who is also a citizen and now faces deportation.
- End the deportations of military veterans. Our nation must not turn on the very people who serve it and help preserve it. That is exactly what our broken immigration system is doing. Consider Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, who served the Army National Guard and sustained injuries that left him in a wheelchair and now faces deportation.
- End the deportations of DREAM-eligible young people. In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama said: “Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses and further enrich this nation.” He was right, and he could end the practice right now with a stroke of his pen. Here are two students to whom he should be true to his word: Jackie and Jaime, high school seniors in Maryland, have been fighting to gain in-state tuition that will allow them to continue their education.
- End the deportations of immigrants who have families, jobs and deep roots in America and are contributing to their communities. Our economy and our communities are made stronger by immigrants and immigration. We need look no further than the story of Mauricio Bautista who has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, works at a bilingual school and is beloved by his community.
- Provide protection for all immigrants who are vulnerable to deportation simply because their paperwork is currently in process, and they are trapped in a bureaucratic backlog. It’s intolerable that our broken system is punishing people who have legitimate and legal claims to be in this country. For example, Saad Nabeel was deported unfairly to Bangladesh last year but should have been allowed to stay to give time for his case to run it course.
2. Discontinue ICE programs that undermine the public safety of all communities
Making local police the agents of the Federal government contributes to civil rights violations, terror in communities and makes our neighborhoods less safe.
- ICE should immediately clarify that states and municipalities are indeed allowed to opt out of Secure Communities.
- It is clear that programs such as 287g, Secure Communities and the Criminal Alien program increase the likelihood of civil rights violation. The aggressive promotion of these programs should end immediately.
- Where agreements already exist, ICE should defund/reduce funding.
- Secure Communities should only be used for its intended purpose, to remove only those convicted of Level 1 offenses.
- The Justice Department should immediately repudiate the memo from 2003 that purported to recognize the inherent authority of local and state law enforcement to enforce immigration law.
3. Protect all our workers
We must recognize the importance of those who live and work in our midst. No economic recovery can be achieved by our nation without respect for worker rights as a key element.
- Moratorium on I-9 audits by ICE and SSA no-match letters
- Protect workers’ rights to organize
- Prevent unscrupulous employers from using any ICE and other federal resources to break up unions.
- End use of E-Verify