Via email Re: Keep a pathway to citizenship for immigrant communities in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, We, the undersigned 57 civil and human rights organizations, write to urge you to prioritize keeping a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the budget reconciliation bill. Deeply rooted immigrants—including those who came to the United States as children and may have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), those who have fled violence and other crises and currently have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and those who have kept the US economy going during the pandemic by serving as essential workers—deserve lasting protection from deportation and the ability to live freely with their families and in their communities, protecting fundamental rights, and powering US businesses and the national economy. The budget reconciliation bill remains the most viable opportunity to finally make this reform to the US’ unfair immigration system. We urge you not to let obstacles posed by any single individual—whether it be the Senate parliamentarian or a member of Congress—derail the moral imperative of finally achieving a pathway to citizenship. This is a critical moment to reset US global leadership. Countries around the world are continuing to grapple with how to address the movement of people within and across their borders due to climate change, poverty, inequality, conflict and other crises. Right now, the United States is setting the wrong example and failing to lead. Inside the country, it has relegated millions of undocumented people, disproportionately people of color, to a permanent underclass, trapping them in a lifetime of systematic disadvantage and vulnerability to discrimination and exploitation. At the border, thousands of people—including Black migrants and asylum-seekers—are suffering rights violations due to the Title 42 expulsion policy and other policy failures. You can help both the United States and other nations change course. Enacting a pathway to citizenship for people who are deeply-rooted in the United States sends a powerful message to the world: It reaffirms that human rights are universal and that all humans are equally deserving of dignity and fairness. Let that message be the Biden administration’s rejoinder to the xenophobia, harassment and abuse that have become markers of far too many government responses to migration. While including a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation bill would grow the economy by billions of dollars, it is also a matter of fundamental fairness and rights protection. People who have built lives, homes and families in the United States, many of whom have served as essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, have long been vulnerable to discrimination, labor abuses and denial of equal protection under the law due to their immigration status.
Their long-term relegation to underclass status offends the core principles of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the US Constitution as well as the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights treaties the United States has ratified. Indeed, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary General has called on states around the world to legalize undocumented immigrants in the spirit of an inclusive public health approach and in recognition of their important contributions during this crisis. Expanding opportunities to earn citizenship will make the United States safer and fairer for everyone. In the workplace, employers often exploit workers’ fear of immigration enforcement to deter them from reporting abuse, and they retaliate against those who do. This impacts both immigrants and citizens alike; the US government cannot adequately protect the safety of all workers unless its immigration policies ensure immigrant workers are able to speak up and report abuses by employers. Similarly, when immigrants and their loved ones live in fear of deportation, they are far less likely to seek and receive police protection and support law enforcement investigations into serious crimes—undermining public safety for all. Enacting a pathway to citizenship would provide important protections for people currently caught in this overly harsh deportation system. Regardless of immigration status, the United States has obligations to protect human and civil rights, including the right to family unity and the right to due process. However, these rights are routinely violated within the US immigration and deportation system, which in most cases gives no airing or weight to immigrants’ ties to home and family. Even when immigrants are able to secure an individualized hearing, under US law these factors are in most cases of no legal relevance in deciding whether the person should be removed from the country. A generous pathway to citizenship that accords due weight to immigrants’ ties to the United States is one of the most effective ways to address the threat of deportation and separation for unauthorized immigrants, in advance of a wholesale reform of U.S. immigration laws. To enact a pathway to citizenship for immigrant communities now, this year, is to take one deeply meaningful step toward a vision of a just and inclusive United States.
The process and procedures by which you do this are up to you, but we call upon you to seize this historic opportunity to right enduring injustices and legally recognize as Americans the many immigrants whose deep roots in the United States inextricably bind them to this country. If you have any questions, please contact Clara Long at Human Rights Watch (email@example.com), Naureen Shah at the ACLU (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rob Randhava and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (Randhava@civilrights.org). Sincerely, Human Rights Watch American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Alliance for Quality Education American Association of People with Disabilities American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees American Friends Service Committee Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Center for Gender & Refugee Studies Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Church World Service Clearinghouse on Women's Issues Common Defense Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries Earthjustice Equal Justice Society Faith in Public Life Friends Committee on National Legislation Global Justice Center Groundswell Action Fund Haitian Bridge Alliance Human Rights First Immigrants Rising, a project of Community Initiatives Impact Fund Japanese American Citizens League Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action Jewish Progressive Action Justice for Migrant Women Labor Council for Latin American Advancement League of Conservation Voters League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) League of Women Voters of the United States Matthew Shepard Foundation NAACP National Black Justice Coalition National Council of Jewish Women National Domestic Workers Alliance National Education Association National Employment Law Project National Immigrant Justice Center Oxfam America Public Justice Stand for Children Supermajority The Workers Circle UndocuBlack Network UnidosUS Union for Reform Judaism Unitarian Universalist Association United We Dream Voces de la Frontera Women's Law Project Women's Refugee Commission Woodhull Freedom Foundation Workplace Fairness .
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