Democrats are pushing sweeping laws to decriminalize immigration and disrupt the “prison-to-deportation” pipeline.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and co-sponsors Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) held a digital press convention discussing their New Way Forward Act — initially launched in 2019, alongside Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). It would ban for-profit immigration detention amenities, finish the usage of native police for immigration enforcement and decriminalize border crossings. It additionally would get rid of obligatory deportation, as an example within the case of individuals with earlier prison information, to as a substitute permit judges to make use of their discretion in deciding circumstances.
“Decriminalizing immigration is not a radical concept at all,” García mentioned. “What is radical is caging school-aged children. What is radical is detaining thousands of refugees in dangerous conditions of squalor. We’re simply asking for fair treatment.”
Within days of being in workplace, the Biden-Harris administration started their efforts to undo former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant legacy by repealing the anti-Muslim journey ban and proposing that Congress go a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals within the nation.
Jayapal, who identifies as a “proud immigrant” and naturalized citizen, mentioned that whereas it was a “relief” to have Trump out of workplace after “four xenophobic years,” it’s “not enough to just reverse the hateful policies.”
“America’s racist, xenophobic immigration system has been broken for decades,” Jayapal mentioned, citing the nation’s historical past of separating households by way of deportation and contemplating immigration violations, like crossing the border exterior a port of entry, as prison and never civil offenses.
“This legislation keeps families together, it advances racial justice and it protects due process for everyone,” she mentioned.
Pressley hopes the laws will finish the “prison-to-deportation” pipeline, during which immigrants of shade, who’re stopped and arrested extra usually by police and given harsher sentences than their white friends, can find yourself in ICE detention and at occasions deported again to their house nations.
“For too long our immigration and criminal legal systems have been deeply and fundamentally intertwined,” Pressley mentioned, including that this invoice package deal goals to create an immigration system that “finally centers the humanity of our immigrant neighbors.”
Chanthon Bun, a Cambodian refugee, informed his story in the course of the press convention. Born in the course of the Cambodian genocide, he moved to Los Angeles as a baby in 1985. At age 18, he received concerned with a gang and dedicated a theft and was sentenced to 49 years in jail. Last yr, after 22 years incarcerated, Bun was set to be launched on parole. Immigration and Customs Enforcement knowledgeable him that he can be deported upon launch, again to a rustic he fled because of violence, the place his father and different members of the family had been killed. It was solely after protests from the area people that Bun was launched with out being positioned in ICE custody.
“The New Way Forward would help stop this prison-to-ICE detention pipeline and will keep families together,” Bun mentioned, who survived COVID-19 after contracting it throughout a large outbreak in California’s San Quentin state jail, the place he was incarcerated. “What ICE is doing now is traumatizing not just the person incarcerated, but the family and community.”
The Trump administration notoriously separated hundreds of migrant youngsters from their mother and father on the border in 2018 — a whole bunch of whom have nonetheless not been reunited. The Democrats’ proposed laws goes past merely stopping household separations on the border — they’re pushing for the tip of household separations by way of deportations and to permit these beforehand deported to reapply to reenter the U.S. and reunite with household nonetheless dwelling right here.
“All families should be reunited whether they were separated by Trump or by deportation,” Jayapal mentioned Tuesday.
After a decide in Texas issued a brief halt to Biden’s 100-day ban on most deportations on Tuesday, García mentioned Biden’s deportation ban was “legally sound, morally necessary and we’re confident this enormous miscarriage of justice will be rectified.”
Asked whether or not House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) knew of their immigration invoice, García mentioned the lawmakers “hope to earn her support.”
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