Tag Archive | "Immigration Matters"


Message to Washington: There Is No Room for Failure

El Diario/La Prensa / New America Media

Traducción al español

Editor’s Note: In a united effort, El Diario/LaPrensa, La Opinión, New America Media, Irish Echo, Bangla Patrika, Daily Khabrain, Nowy Dziennik, Primera Hora, The Hartford Guardian and other media are issuing this joint call to Congress.

In the Republican-controlled House, many legislators are positioning themselves to not only resist but also undermine immigration reform. Speaker John Boehner has said that he will not bring a bill to the floor unless a majority of Republicans support it.

Immigration reform has been on hold for more than a decade, leaving 11 million people in a legal limbo. We strongly urge representatives in Washington to instead work on sensible and humane policy solutions that will resolve the plight of families across this nation.

But for legislators who want to usher a bipartisan reform effort into a minefield of backwards amendments, we remind them of the following.

In 2006, immigrants and allies rallied across the country in massive demonstrations. The slogan then was “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”

It was not an empty promise.

The anti-immigrant attacks from the right had grown so hostile that it drove outraged voters to the polls. They helped cast a Democrat in the White House. This trend continued as Republicans moved to be more inclusive in 2012 but failed to offer a real program for immigration reform. The political implications for those who choose to go to the negotiation table in bad faith are clear.

But more importantly than the political consequences, Congress has a moral obligation to children who should not be separated from their parents. It must bring out of the shadows people who stand ready for full integration and to contribute to our nation’s economy as baby boomers age out.

immigration_reform_320In these weeks, the issue of border security has been allowed to dominate the discourse around reform. We understand that controls at the border are needed. However, the conversation around immigration reform doesn’t begin and end at the border. And this two-step process that many Republicans are obsessed with – that legalization must be conditioned on a military border complex– is the same delay tactic they have been using for years.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionUndocumented persons are willing to pay penalties and meet a host of requirements. But to condemn them to some purgatory in an attempt to seal off the United States from Mexico is a political game because Republicans keep moving the line on what border security means.

We are also aware that Democrats — from President Obama down—promised to deliver comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to legalization and citizenship. This does not translate into an indefinite parking lot for undocumented families until Republicans have all of their items checked off. That’s not compromise – it’s capitulation.

We expect both parties to show leadership for a workable policy solution that sets up immigrants, and in turn, our nation, for success. In the meantime, we stand ready to bring great attention to who leads, and who works against this process.

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Temporary Protection for Haitians: A first step

New America Media, Opinion, Shaina Aber & Christian Fuchs

The decision by the United States last week to grant Haitians in the United States permission to stay, work and send remittances home under a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is welcome news. This move was an essential first step in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

Temporary Protected Status will give Haitians who are stranded on our shores the ability to remain here during the crisis, and to work and live in the United States legally. Their remittances will allow more than $1 billion in aid to be sent to family members still suffering in the shattered island nation, thus playing a much needed role in the present relief effort. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti already depends significantly on remittances. By allowing some 130,000 Haitians to legally work in the U.S. and send remittances home to their loved ones in Haiti, the despair of the entire country will be reduced.

Despite this positive news, no timeline has been set for the release of Haitians who are currently being held in our immigration detention centers. This should be a priority. Now that TPS has been approved and deportations have ceased, those held in detention facilities should be discharged quickly and given the opportunity to work and reconnect with their families.

Haitians, though a resilient people, are facing pressing needs. The earthquake directly affected more than three million people out of a population of only nine million. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been forced from their homes and lack basic services and supplies. People in towns and villages unaffected by the quake itself have begun to feel concrete repercussions of the devastation as supply lines they’ve come to rely on from the capital city have begun to fail.

While offering TPS to the Haitians stranded within our borders will not solve all of Haiti’s problems, it serves as a critical part of a comprehensive plan that will address the current humanitarian emergency and reduce the international aid burden.

It should be noted that TPS applies only to Haitians who were in the United States as of Jan. 12, the day of the earthquake. It is possible, however, that individuals fleeing the chaos that has gripped Haiti since the earthquake may feel compelled to escape the destruction of their homeland, risking perilous ocean crossings to reach the United States or other countries. These environmental refugees should be treated with compassion and should not be dropped off without support or assistance on the shores of a nation that is unable to offer them safety. Instead, Haitians intercepted at sea should be taken to the U.S. mainland or other safe environments until adequate displaced-persons facilities can be established within Haiti itself.

It has even been suggested that Haitians fleeing their devastated homeland may be “warehoused” in a 25,000-bed facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Such a drastic action should be undertaken only as a last resort. Warehousing displaced Haitians will isolate them from the family and community support they need at this time of crisis.

Hopefully Haitians will not risk their lives by fleeing across the ocean, and the international response to the disaster will provide enough aid and continued assistance to allow earthquake victims to remain in their homeland and rebuild their lives.

What has been apparent over the last week — from U.S. citizens making donations to the U.S. government granting TPS — is the generosity of the American spirit. The outpouring of support from people the world over is heartfelt. This veritable deluge of compassion is a testament to our shared humanity.

Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organization that serves, accompanies and defends the rights of refugees and displaced people in over 55 countries around the world including Haiti. Shaina Aber is the Associate Advocacy Director at Jesuit Refugee Service, USA and the organizations’ liaison with the Latin American and Caribbean region. Christian Fuchs is the Communications Director at Jesuit Refugee Service, USA. JRS/USA is a member of the Detention Watch Network, a national coalition working to reform the U.S. immigration, detention, and deportation system.

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