RAICES Response to Biden’s Immigration Plans

San Antonio, TexasThe following is a statement from Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES:

“Today, President Biden announced a major overhaul of immigration policy that includes a path to citizenship for millions of people, a reset to the border control strategy, and a framework for a more humanitarian approach to asylum and immigration.

Yet while it is crucial that the Biden administration reverse the damage done by Trump immediately, it is even more important that President Biden take bold executive action on immigration while Congress debates a possible legalization bill. Any people who were harmed and attacked by Trump and his administration must be made whole and protected by Biden and his administration.

Immigrants in this country survived four years of bigotry, racism and xenophobia from the Trump administration. We were attacked with hurtful rhetoric and policies that had damaging consequences for families and individuals. It is time to turn the page and provide relief and protection to the millions of people who are still in the shadows—especially during the worst pandemic of our lifetime. COVID-19 has devastated our communities disproportionately, and we cannot wait any longer.

With Democrats now in control of the House, Senate, and the Oval Office, we expect immigration legislation that will open a path to permanent resident status to the 11 million people living in this country and that modernizes the immigration system to welcome those seeking home and safety, without accepting further criminalization, detention, deportation and border militarization in exchange.

As the newly elected president speaks of unity, people remain detained and families separated. This is not unity. There must be immediate action taken that will give the undocumented community:

  1. freedom to live and work with dignity and respect in this country;
  2. freedom from detention;
  3. freedom from deportation;
  4. and freedom to seek home and protection in this country.

At RAICES, we have lived through many broken promises on immigration. Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) and the Dream Act have failed in Congress time and time again, even when Democrats had the majority. Passing legislation this year will be no easy task given the extreme wing of the Republican Party and moderate Democrats who want to appeal to Republican supporters. Regardless of the challenges, President Biden must keep his promise and expend political power to make sure immigrants get the protections they deserve. It won’t be enough to send a bill to Congress. We expect for undocumented essential workers to be part of the COVID-19 relief package through budget reconciliation and a realistic strategy to get enough votes in the Senate, without compromising on further enforcement.

If Congress cannot deliver on this vision, President Biden must act through the executive to provide work authorization and freedom from deportation to as many people as possible.”

Press contact: Lucia Allain, [email protected]