This is our moment to create bold, lasting change. We must fight for justice for all immigrants, and that fight must be based on the hopes and needs of Colorado’s immigrant communities. Working with our directly impacted members, we’ve come up with nine demands for immigration justice:
Our Vision for Federal Immigration Reform: 9 Demands
Opportunities must be provided for the 11+ million people in the United States without proper documents to earn legal status and access a pathway to citizenship. Coincidences of birth should not prevent those who have made the US their home from attaining permanent legalized status. An inclusive earned legalization program, with a clear plan for implementation, should be available to all undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.
Countless immigrants, including massive numbers of asylum-seekers coerced into signing voluntary departure forms, have been deported back to dangerous situations in the countries they left behind. This practice must be immediately suspended –– not merely for the first hundred days, but until reforms in our immigration system ensure that no one within this system can be robbed of their fundamental rights, including access to legal representation and a fair day in court.
Over 62,000+ detained people reported human rights abuses between 2004 and 2018 in the Aurora GEO center alone. News emerged just this fall of women undergoing forced hysterectomies –– an appalling violation of fundamental rights, and one with deep and unsettling ties to our history of eugenics. Furthermore, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overcrowding and unhygienic conditions are lethal. Detention has already proven a death sentence for 21 immigrants in fiscal year 2020. We must move away from this dangerous, inhumane practice of for-profit incarceration and instead reimagine and build new alternatives centered around humanitarian values.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has existed for less than two decades, and in that time it has demonstrated a reckless and flagrant disregard for human rights and the law. The agency carried out raids during full lockdown in March, facilitating the spread of COVID-19. It refused to release families in detention by the deadline mandated by a court order. It evaded facing allegations of abuse by deporting a key witness. We need a comprehensive investigation into these abuses of power, and accountability for those responsible.
Undocumented immigrants and TPS and DACA recipients have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, doing essential agricultural, custodial, and medical work and risking their health in the process. To exploit the labor of these community members and then exclude them from economic relief is beyond unjust. Most importantly, undocumented people are not only essential workers but also essential family and community members, essential in and of themselves. Our only way through this crisis is to ensure that everyone has the health and financial support they need. Immigration status shouldn’t enter into it.
Until Congress passes legislation providing a generous path to citizenship for people without permanent status, including Dreamers and TPS holders, the administration must create a set of benefits programs that allow people to enter the regular economy, plan their lives without fear of sudden deportation, and, in many cases, achieve lawful immigration status. This includes protecting DACA, restoring TPS to immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as well as expanding TPS to Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico, and India in light of the extreme hardship these countries have suffered and are suffering.
This Administration has the opportunity to honor the principles of family unity and second chances by establishing a process for individuals unfairly deported to return to the homes they’ve made here. We call on the Biden administration to reopen or grant humanitarian parole in the case of these unjust removals. DHS and DOJ should establish a coordinated process to ensure that applications to return are promptly adjudicated and motions to reopen ruled upon in a timely manner, and that beneficiaries can return to the United States to pursue their proceedings, in their community (i.e. not detained).
Residents along the US-Mexico border live in a virtual police state due to the disruptive and dangerous tactics of Border Patrol agents. All enforcement practices that criminalize and punish immigrants and members of border communities must cease. The Remain in Mexico policy must be ended, all separated families must be reunited, and border crossings must be decriminalized.
The refugee program which was decimated by the Trump administration must be vastly expanded, along with access to all student, work, travel, and resident visas.