Today, on a telephonic press conference, immigrant youth leaders with United We Dream released 20 specific policy principles for immigration reform, laying out a common-sense agenda for change and demanding a path to citizenship in less than 7 years without any unreasonable or unfair requirements. As the immigration reform debate kicks into high gear, UWD’s principles are the first community-based marker in the debate, following last week’s release of a bipartisan Senate framework and President Obama’s proposal. With this plan, the immigrant community has begun to outline exactly what we expect from our leaders in Washington.
Members of the United We Dream network from 24 states unanimously ratified a political platform in November 2012 at the UWD National Congress in Kansas City, which immigrant youth leaders have developed into specific policy principles (full list available here). DREAMers are defining the terms of the immigration reform debate by presenting Congress and the nation with these 20 key points that must be included in any immigration reform proposal, including:
- Individuals who came to the U.S. as adults should be eligible to apply for temporary immigration status immediately, eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status within 2 years of the bill’s passage and qualify for citizenship after another 5 years – consistent with current law.
- LGBT individuals must be allowed to petition for their partners just like any other family. Immigration reform should not codify discrimination.
- In immigration proceedings, judges should be directed to take into consideration family ties and the best interests of children.
- The three- and ten-year bars that keep families apart for many years must be eliminated, and immigrants must be permitted to adjust to lawful permanent resident status from within the U.S.
- The artificial quota of 400,000 deportations per year must be eliminated immediately.
- To maintain labor and worker rights, no federal mandate of E-verify should be created.
- Border state Governors with a history of engaging in anti-immigrant politics should not decide when the roadmap to citizenship begins.
“United We Dream’s 53 affiliate organizations and immigrant youth leaders from across the country voted on a platform for change and today, we’re getting specific on our demands and laying the groundwork to win a historic victory,” said Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, who, along with other national leaders, met with President Obama yesterday, to impress upon him the need to end deportations and lead on immigration reform.
Yesterday, some House Republicans pushed immigration reform that would bar immigrants from citizenship for life, a proposal soundly rejected by DREAMers on today’s call.
“Politicians who think they can score political points by trapping immigrants in legal limbo for a lifetime are sorely mistaken,” said Sofia Campos, chair of the United We Dream Board of Directors. “We’re talking about a real path to citizenship, right now, not a permanent ban on citizenship or a road to citizenship in name only. Any politician, regardless of political party, who wants to ramp up our overly militarized border or deport tens of thousands of hard-working immigrants will have to answer to DREAMers.”
The policy principles are another example of the DREAMer strategy of combining aggressive grassroots action with careful policy development. In the lead-up to President Obama’s announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in June 2012, immigrant youth not only organized and rallied across the country, but also crafted policy suggestions for White House officials and dove into the details of potential policies - suggestions which closely resemble the DACA program that they won. Now, the network is once again crafting a serious and detailed legislative plan for what immigration reform should look like, including a swift and fair path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., changes to policy with an emphasis on family unity, and a paring back of aggressive, costly enforcement. The network will engage in an unprecedented grassroots campaign to ensure that the voice of the immigrant community is heard in the debate and that the community wins an immigration reform proposal that our community and our nation is proud of.
“UWD leaders will fan out across Capitol Hill to over 70 Congressional offices today with our 20-point plan for what immigration reform must look like, making a clear case to legislators that we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our families and fighting for our communities,” said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy & Policy at United We Dream.
Over 100 DREAMers with United We Dream are in Washington, D.C. this week to prepare for the upcoming legislative push for immigration reform and meet with their Members of Congress, sharing their stories and the stories of their families.
“My father was deported in 2006, it was the hardest thing I, and my younger sisters, have had to face in our lives,” said Greisa Martinez, a DREAMer from Dallas, TX and a member of United We Dream’s National Coordinating Committee. “Not one more family should have to face this hardship and heartbreak. One of our 20 policy principles that must be in any legislation around immigration reform is the immediate termination of the artificial quota of 400,000 deportations a year. Tens of thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are being torn away from their loved ones to check an arbitrary bureaucratic checkbox. It must end.”
In addition to pushing to end deportations that separate families and challenging out-of-control enforcement agencies, DREAMers are also leading the fight for full equality for LGBTQ immigrants, insisting that immigration reform legislation give same-sex couples the opportunity to petition for their partners just like any other family.
“UndocuQueers and the immigrant youth movement is committed to fight to make sure immigration reform treats every family equally, including LGBTQ families,” said Jorge Gutierrez, project coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a project of United We Dream. “We will not leave LGBTQ families behind.”
Full policy principles document available here: http://unitedwedream.