Further, we call on Congress to oppose legislation that devalues immigrants and the contributions they make to our communities and economy including: opposing bills proposing the elimination of funding for sanctuary cities and other welcoming programs; ending programs and protocols such as Operation Streamline, the detention bed mandate, and family detention; and protecting and upholding DACA as we wait for legislative solutions to our broken immigration system.
Catholic Social Teaching tells us that it is our “duty to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.” Currently there are 36 million foreign-born immigrants living in the United States, 11 million of whom are undocumented. Under current legislation there is no pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who consider the United States home and who are are contributing to society, making up 5.2% of the labor force and contributing over $10 billion annually to state and local tax revenues. Additionally, for every day that there is inaction on immigration reform, families continue to be ripped apart by deportation. In 2013, 369,000 undocumented immigrants were deported, costing the American taxpayers $20,000 per deportation and stripping immigrant families of the opportunity to be united. As violence escalates and poverty remains endemic in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, over 45,000 unaccompanied children, many under the age of 12, have surged the United States-Mexican border seeking asylum. At present, most of the children wait for their cases to be heard, relying on the judgement of immigration courts to dictate whether they will receive the protection of refugee status.
Current U.S. Policy
The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants, with certain exceptions for close family members. Congress and the President determine a separate number for refugee admissions. Historically, admittance of immigrants to the United States has been based upon three principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, and protecting refugees. [Source: Immigration Policy Center]
President Obama’s Executive Action
The President’s Executive Action will:
- Allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who’ve resided in the country for at least five years to temporarily remain in the country. The measure requires parents to pay taxes, pass a background check, and reapply for status every 3 years;
- Expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program;
- Expand work authorization for high-skilled workers;
- Modify federal immigrant detention procedures;
- Increase security at the border.
[Source: The White House]
Currently, 26 states are suing President Obama in response to the executive action. Until the temporary injunction is lifted none of the mandates will be implemented. If you or your family qualify for protection under the executive action here is how you can be prepared for the future.
Join The Response
1. Find out who represents you and where where they stand on immigration.
An important first step of advocacy is making sure you know who represents you. There are a number of tools that can help you by simply asking for your home address. Here is one resource (Common Cause) that will list both your federal and state officials. The next step is to find out what your elected officials’ position is on immigration. One place where you can find this information is on their individual websites. Below you can find additional links to helpful resources.
- Vote Smart | Tool that lists positions, voting records, ratings and speeches of elected officials
- GovTrack.us | Tool that lists committee membership, voting records and bills and resolutions
- House.gov | The United States House of Representatives Official Website
- Senate.gov | The United States Senate Official Website
2. Meet With Your Members of Congress
Establishing and continuing relationships with your Senators and Representatives is crucial to advocating for justice. As both representatives and members of your communities, every Senator and Representative has an office–often multiple offices–in their home states. Visits to these offices are an impactful way to speak, neighbor to neighbor, with representatives and let them know why and how the laws and policies pertaining to immigration reform impacts your community.
Immigration Talking Points (As of 12.15.15)