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02/14/2019 | Immigrant Rights - Combating Family Separation & Deportation

Open Letter to Members of Congress on DHS Funding Deal

02.14.2019

Open Letter to Members of Congress

Re: Vote NO on the DHS funding bill

Dear Members of Congress,

We, the undersigned membership-based organizations, write to ask you to vote against the DHS funding bill negotiated under duress by conference committee this week. The bill, which contains over $1.3 billion for a racist border wall, an 12% increase in the number of detention beds to incarcerate immigrants, and an increase in ICE agents and custom officers, is an offense to our communities and a concession to politics of fear and manipulation. We urge you to vote NO on this bill and to not only stand strong against the wall, but to demand funding cuts to ICE and CBP, restrictions on transfer and reprogramming authorities to prevent those agencies from raiding other accounts, and a commitment from the executive branch to not use emergency powers to undermine Congress. We reject any DHS funding bill that does not contain these provisions, and until such a deal can be reached, Congress should pass a clean continuing resolution without any additional detention or enforcement funding. President Trump cannot be allowed to hold our communities hostage so that he can waste more taxpayer money to worsen a problem he created.

We have been fighting for more than a decade to reverse the laws criminalizing our people, and the brutal systems created to enforce those laws, which have led us to the current era of mass incarceration and mass deportation. We ask that you, our elected representatives, stand in solidarity with us by insisting that the much needed reforms to our immigration system start with the rollback of draconian enforcement policies which are causing the separation of thousands of families every year. Furthermore, we ask you to ensure that all changes to our immigration system happen through a fair, transparent and responsible legislative process, not through emergency negotiations to appease a tyrant.

We need a permanent solution that looks past the question of “how many detention beds” or “how many ICE officers” to the real problems that are facing our communities: the need for jobs, education, access to health care, public transportation and a living wage. The bill that we need is one that:

  • Creates a straightforward path to citizenship for the millions of loved ones living here without documentation.

  • Welcomes the refugees and asylum seekers asking for protection at our doorstep, and reunites the families that have already been separated.

  • Create a pathway to permanent residency for all 13 countries that had protections at the beginning of this administration, and expands the program to include any country where U.S. foreign policy is in part responsible for creating the conditions that drive people to seek refuge here.

  • Protects asylum seekers and provides resources to enable them to obtain a fair adjudication of their claims.

  • Ends the criminalization of migration by repealing the federal statutes that are allowing the Trump administration to prosecute and incarcerate people for crossing the border.

  • Dramatically decreases funding for enforcement, and ends the practice of immigration detention.

  • Moves the billions of dollars that have been spent every year to surveil, jail and deport our communities into programs that will begin to make restitution, and allow the people who live here to heal and thrive again.

We urge you to fight for this agenda. In addition to rejecting more funding for enforcement, in the immediate future this means:

  • Holding oversight hearings to hold DHS accountable for every penny spent persecuting our communities.

  • Using the subpoena power to question ICE and CBP leadership, as well as the DOJ and other senior administration officials, about the motivation for, conduct of, and impact of, their immigration enforcement practices.

  • Conducting investigations into the human and civil rights violations at the border, in detention centers, and in the daily operations of local ICE offices.

  • Requesting similar investigations by the Office of the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.

We need elected representatives who have the courage to stand with us not just because we have a common enemy, but because we have a common vision of the future. We need elected representatives who will not throw our communities under the bus because it is politically expedient. Prove to us that you will fight for a country in which all of us have the freedom to thrive by voting NO on the DHS funding bill.

Signed,

Sunflower Community Action
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Korean Resource Center
UndocuBlack Network
NAKASEC VA
United for a New Economy (UNE)
New York Communities For Change
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Make the Road NY
United We Dream
Center for Popular Democracy
Make the Road CT
HANA Center
Make the Road PA
Make the Road NV
Make the Road NJ
Local Progress
Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH)

 
Thursday, February 14, 2019