Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Dream Team Los Angeles’ Statement on Current Proposals for Immigration Reform
Executive Summary: The Senate bill focuses excessively on militarization of the southern border and criminalization of the undocumented community, and unjustly excludes millions from legalization and citizenship; DTLA to continue to push for the expansion of Deferred Action for all undocumented immigrants and to press politicians to stand against the militarization of the border and against the increase of senseless enforcement as well as alternative policies at the state legislation level.
Statement of Opposition to Harsh Immigration Reform, Immigrant Rights Organizations Should Push for More Humane Standards
After weeks of careful deliberation and extensive discussions amongst our members, DTLA has made the decision to oppose S. 744, known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act”. This decision did not come easily, as an immigrant rights organization we are deeply aware of the daily pain and injustices faced by the undocumented community and for years we have actively worked to achieve justice in our community. We also understand that many had hoped that the Senate’s “comprehensive immigration reform” bill would provide relief for our community. Unfortunately, the bill that was voted on by the Senate does not provide that relief, and it is plagued with dangerous provisions that would have a catastrophic impact on our communities.
Please find a detailed analysis and explanation of why many of the Senate bill, S. 744, prove to be extremely harmful to our immigrant communities.For further questions or inquiries feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Not a pathway to citizenship but a path to the marginalization, criminalization and exploitation of millions.
As currently written, the Senate’s bill claims to provide a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. However, a closer look at the provisions of the bill makes it clear that a significant portion of the undocumented population will be excluded from any form of legalization. The congressional budget office estimates that at least 40% will be eventually excluded, other estimates put the number closer to 60%, and this means that anywhere from 4.4 to 6.6 million people will be excluded. What is more concerning is the fact that many provisions of the bill will make life for those who are unable toadjust their status and future undocumented immigrants much more precarious by increasing interior enforcement and implementing criminal penalties on undocumented workers.
- Income requirements: The bill contains outrageous income requirements, which will prevent millions from legalizing. Those who apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status must maintain an income of at least 100% of the poverty line for at least 6 years, and they must make 125% of the poverty line for another 4 years if they wish to adjust to Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) status. For example, based on the current federal poverty guidelines a single mother of two would have to maintain an income of about $30,000 for no less than 6 years and about $37,000 for another four years. Given that it is currently estimated that approximately 40% of the undocumented population has an income lower than 125% of the poverty line this requirement alone would exclude over 4 million people.
- Work requirement: S 744 requires applicants to be able to prove that they were continuously employed for the entire duration of the decades-long process. The bill only allows for gaps in employment that are not longer than 60 days. This requirement will exclude immigrants who work in the informal sector and are unable to provide official proof of their employment. In addition, working conditions will worsen for immigrants whose stay in the country will be dependent on their ability to stay continuously employed which will make them more likely to tolerate exploitation and abuses due to their fear of being fired.
- Taxation without access to services: The bill requires all applicants to RPI status to pay all their federal tax liability. This requirement ignores the fact that households headed by undocumented immigrants already contribute over 11 billion of dollars in taxes annually. What’s more concerning is that the bill blocks all applicants from having access to any federal public services and affordable Health Care, not only through the duration of their period in provisional status but even five years after adjusting to legal permanent status, this includes those who legalize through the DREAM Act and the Blue Visa program. Given that over 50% of undocumented children live in households that make under the poverty line, this provision will prevent them from accessing the necessary services that would allow them to achieve their full potential and further drive them into marginalization.
- Fines and application costs: As the bill currently stands, the cost of applying will be unaffordable for a significant part of the undocumented community. As of now the penalties alone would cost $2,000 per every person that wishes to go through this process. Including application fees and legal representation fees the cost would be dramatically higher. Based on current application and legal fees, the cost for a family of four would be no less than $20,000
The Border Surge: $46 Billion dollar handout to defense companies and private detention centers, recipe for environmental and human disaster in border communities.
The so-called “Border Surge” is a dangerous compromise that will essentially turn the Southern Border region into a war-zone. This amendment calls for the building of 700 miles of fencing and the deployment of the national guard, 20,000 more border patrol agents, drones and other equipment to the southern border. This comes at a time when the U.S.- Mexico border is as secure as it has ever been, unauthorized crossings and apprehensions are at their lower levels since the 1970s and the amount of resources allocated to border security is already at unprecedented levels. Therefore, spending $46 billion more dollars in enforcement will only serve the interests of defense companies and private prison companies that profit from the detention of immigrants. Furthermore, an increase in security in the border means more violence and even death for immigrants caught in a military zone. Every day immigrants die at the US-Mexico border, many of which die at the hands of border patrol agents. Still, there is very little to no accountability for those responsible for such tragedies. We can only expect higher levels of violence and death rates, with no increased levels of accountability for the perpetrators and no increased levels of safeguards for the victims, should the Border Surge become a reality.
DTLA to continue to fight for fair immigration policy
While DTLA does not support S.744, DTLA does support other alternative policies and legislation that humanely enhance the quality of life for undocumented people. In California, for example, DTLA supports the following legislation:
- TRUST Act, AB 04, which will put an end to as many as 10,000 deportations a year in the state alone.
- Driver’s License Bill, AB 60, providing unmarked drivers licenses and making it legal and safe to drive for 2 million more people to drive in California.
- Anti-Discrimination Bill, AB 666, which would stop employers from retaliating against their workers for their immigration status and would protect whistleblowers who highlight unsafe or discriminatory working conditions.
At the Federal level DTLA supports the following policy:
- Release all currently detained immigrants that are low priority under prosecutorial discretion.
- The President should immediately extend Deferred Action for all undocumented people while Congress continues to debate immigration reform.
- Lobbying several Democratic Party congressional representatives in California to NOT support any immigration reform bill that further militarizes immigrant communities or does not provide a humane path to citizenship.