Publisher’s note: Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat who represents Washington’s 7th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, came to the US alone at age 16 and started an immigrant rights organization in Washington state. Deepak Bhargava is a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and a long-time organizer and leader of the immigrant rights movement. They are collaborators ofImmigration Matters: Movements, Visions and Strategies for a Progressive Future“. The opinions expressed in this comment belong to the authors. Here you can see more opinion articles.
(CNN) — Immigrants are the foundation of our country. For years, America has benefited immeasurably from the energy, ingenuity, and passion that immigrants bring to our country. We have seen these contributions firsthand as immigrants.
We have also organized for immigrant rights for more than two decades. We protest, we lobby, we march and even we were arrested to promote the cause of immigrants. We do this work because we understand that in a country where, according to data compiled by the American Immigration Council, one in seven US residents is an immigrant, and one in eight is a native American citizen with at least one immigrant parent, immigrants are an undeniable part of who we are. They deserve dignity, opportunity and respect.
We know from experience that the United States is more successful at embracing immigrants, and as Democrats, we can affirm that by embracing immigrants rather than disparaging them. It is especially crucial to remember that now, as Republicans, and even some Democrats, wrongly criticize the Biden administration’s overdue action to end Title 42, a xenophobic policy masquerading as a public health measure that has prevented people apply for asylum in the United States since March. 2020.
Since its implementation, Title 42 has been criticized by leading epidemiologists and public health experts, who have pointed out that the order only applies to asylum seekers coming from the southern border, not to permanent residents, US citizens or tourists returning to the country at the same time. Public health experts have said many times that there is no public health justification for banning asylum.
Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the order would end on May 23. But a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the end of Title 42 and heard arguments last Friday, saying he would rule by May 23. Meanwhile, several US senators also introduced a new bill to prevent the Biden administration from lifting the policy. Although we have seen polls suggest that many Americans support the extension of Title 42, we believe it is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what the policy actually does rather than support for the policy itself.
To understand today’s polarized debate, we must rewind the tape to review the damage caused by the previous administration. Former President Donald Trump may have targeted undocumented immigrants in his public statements, but his administration has often focused on closing avenues for legal migration. your administration it reduced the number of refugees allowed into the US and made it more difficult for people to obtain visas and become US citizens.
But Trump didn’t stop there, he also complicated asylum-seeking efforts. Asylum must be understood as a critical part of the legal immigration system in the United States. According to national laws and international, people who fear persecution for belonging to a marginalized group have the right to seek protection and residency in the United States. Those who arrive at the southern border at designated checkpoints are exercising that right and should be treated fairly and have their cases heard.
Trump used Title 42 to block that process on the grounds that asylum seekers could pose a public health threat due to COVID-19. It was wrong when it was first implemented, and it’s wrong now. Public health experts agreed that the policy failed to promote public health and that the CDC failed to consider alternative measures that would protect public health without circumventing our legal obligation to asylum seekers.
In anticipation of the end of Title 42, the Department of Homeland Security published a memorandum on increasing resources at the border to ensure that people can apply for asylum as they are entitled to by law. Until Congress agrees to address a comprehensive overhaul of our broken and backward immigration system, this plan will implement a more humane approach to helping people fleeing violence, hunger, and persecution come to the United States.
According to this plan, DHS will increase resources to support border operations, including transportation, medical support, and operational facilities. They will also strengthen the capacity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to receive migrants after they have been processed. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas laid out the DHS plan to handle the expected influx of refugees at the border at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, and we can’t wait for people to know more about this plan.
While we wish the administration had acted sooner, we commend President Joe Biden for lifting Title 42 more than two years after the policy was first implemented. Not surprisingly, Republicans have attacked Biden for doing so, and that many Republican-led states have tried to fight this in court. But we are concerned to see that some Democrats have also opposed the move to lift Title 42. This is wrong on moral and humanitarian grounds.
Immigration continues to be an issue that dominates the headlines. And we should not hesitate to communicate to voters our vision for how we can fix our broken immigration system with compassionate, people-centered solutions.
After four years of the Trump administration, the so-called Muslim ban, and harsh policies that separated thousands of children from their families at the border, Americans are choosing to open their arms and hearts. According to Gallup, as of July 2021, 75% of Americans I thought immigration was a good thing for our country. Y a majority supported creating more pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients and immigrants with temporary status in the US.
If the overwhelmingly positive reception of refugees Ukrainians Y Afghans is indicative of American sentiment, in many cases Americans are willing not only to accept higher levels of immigration, but also to sponsor refugees and immigrants and welcome them into their communities and homes.
Even when rhetoric about immigrants and immigration becomes more divisive, we must remember that there are real people behind this problem. We cannot take our compassion and empathy out of the process. We cannot allow hatred and fear of political reprisals to prevent us from doing the right thing. Immigration policy is not just about immigrants, it defines our character and identity as a multiracial and inclusive democracy.
It is now clearer than ever that Democrats must stop running from immigration at the slightest hint of pressure. Instead, we must use this moment to bow down and offer an alternative to Republican xenophobia by unapologetically embracing our vibrant immigrant communities. By taking a stand, we will prevent many of today’s prominent Republicans from using immigrants as political footballs and show the community that rallied behind us that we proudly support them.
We now stand at a defining crossroads in our country when it comes to immigration, and Democrats have a unique opportunity to finally deliver on immigration reform. The stakes could not be higher or more important. Supporting immigrants, their families, and their friends is not only the right and moral thing to do, it is the very foundation of who we are as a country.