While harsh immigration enforcement is sadly not new, the Trump administration’s all-out assault on immigrants—especially people of color—was unprecedented in its cruelty, pervasiveness, and disregard for human rights and legal protections. Family separations, many of which continue, are emblematic of the Trump Administration’s cruelty, but are only one of the horrors of Trump’s racist agenda.
Unchecked enforcement has caused widespread deportations of longtime residents and illegal practices have prevented families and children from seeking asylum or protection—now including border expulsions with no due process. All undocumented immigrants were declared unwelcome, including young people with status under DACA and people with Temporary Protected Status. Immigration jails have become even more remote, with worsening conditions of confinement especially during the pandemic, and added dozens of deaths to their grim history.
Specific Immigration Reforms:
An end to immigration detention. Immigration jails are the wrong approach: they aren’t needed for a functional immigration system, violate immigrants’ basic rights including family unity and access to legal representation, and enrich private prison companies.
Legalization. Immigrants are integral in our communities, as their frontline jobs and caregiving roles during the pandemic make ever clearer. As full participants in national life, they must have a path to citizenship without onerous obstacles, so our common future is based on equality of rights and mutual democratic participation. Historic discrimination, especially against Black and Brown immigrants, demands redress in access to and provision of services including healthcare and education.
Sweeping enforcement reforms. Along with making a proper legalization avenue available, enforcement must be fundamentally rethought and drastically reduced on a permanent basis. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resources should never again be used to separate families or terrorize immigrant laborers. Rampant racial profiling is unacceptable as well as state or local police enforcing immigration laws. We must also curb the surveillance state’s spread to immigration enforcement that endangers everyone’s privacy and recklessly empowers corporations to use and abuse personal data.
Rethinking DHS. Tackling human and civil rights abuses at DHS requires calling the homeland-security framework enacted after 9/11 what it has become: a dismal, racially-biased failure. DHS’s immigration-enforcement budget is grossly excessive, creating bloated and wasteful agencies in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Obscene expenditures like the border wall must be reversed and their harms to local communities remedied.
How We Plan to Win Immigrant Justice:
Our inside-outside strategy is tailor-made to achieve immigration victories. While working the policy challenges at all levels of government with partner organizations, we are guided and empowered by directly-impacted immigrants like the DACA recipients who changed their own destinies in 2012. We support the work of legislators who advance progressive immigration goals and put pressure on those who exploit nativism and try to divide Black and Brown communities.
Our local Indivisibles have led the way in becoming immigrant allies. They fight against existing and new immigration-detention facilities, welcome newcomers to their communities, mobilize to prevent their states, counties, and cities from complicity in the machinery of immigration enforcement, and refuse to allow neighbors to be deported.
We will persist in fighting for immigration reform that doesn’t trade away anyone’s rights or well-being. Past bargains have been based on a broken formula: exchanging legalization for stricter future enforcement. We’re adamantly opposed to dividing immigrant communities in any way. Justice isn’t achieved in half-measures and for immigrants requires reversing the last two decades’ growth in enforcement. We share in the vision of a new way forward on immigration that prioritizes inclusion, anti-racism, family unity, and humanitarian protection.