American Friends Service Committee & Immigrant Communities in Action
PRESS RELEASE, May 21, 2007
NYC Immigrants Tell Clinton and Schumer: The Grand Bargain
Equals a Grand Sellout
Queens, NY – Immigrant Communities in Action (ICA) – a multi-ethnic coalition of grassroots immigrant rights groups in New York – is joining other national, regional, and local groups around the country to say NO to the "Grand Bargain". With this week's upcoming vote on the Senate's Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (referring to the bipartisan "Grand Bargain" between Senators and the White House), immigrant communities face one of the most repressive immigration plans in decades: minimal opportunities for immigrant to legalize our status, expanded enforcement at the border and interior, a guestworker program with tougher worksite enforcement and minimal worker protections, as well as devastating cutbacks in family immigration to be replaced with merit-based requirements.
Coalition members will hold a press conference and rally at Senator Clinton's office this week, in conjunction with a national media week coordinated by the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Date: May 22, 2007
Time: 11 am
Location: Outside Sen. Clinton's Office, 780 3rd Ave., between 48th and 49th St.
We do not see the so-called “Grand Bargain” as a legalization bill, but rather a “report to deport” system for millions of immigrants that cannot jump over the extremely high hurdles—including a restrictive point system which most community members will not qualify for and which penalizes working class immigrants. The misleading proposal also requires immigrants leaving the US to “touch-back” with no guaranteed right to return as well as having to prove continuous work history. Many of our community members will not qualify due to work and education histories, old age, medical issues including HIV status, and a scarcity of jobs with employer sponsorship, or an inability to fit legal definitions of “family” because of their gender identity or sexuality. "The impacts of this proposal would be devastating on the immigrant communities in New York, with thousands expecting to have the opportunity for permanent status only to enlist in a program resulting in their own deportation," Namita Chad, a member of the Audre Lorde Project stated.
Possibly the most contentious part of the plan is the rollback on historic family reunification options for millions of families in the United States. The Grand Compromise eliminates most options for family sponsorships and replaces them with a feeble visitor visa program. Residents will lose the ability to sponsor parents and children who are 18 years or older. "How can other American families stand by while children lose their grandparents and parents are cut off from their own children? While we build the economy for families in this country, we could be completely cut off from our own," states Jennifer Arieta from Centro Hispano “Cuzcatlan”.
Any of the feeble “paths” to citizenship will not be available until “interior enforcement,” “employer verification,” and “border security” milestones are in place, which could take years. Additionally, these “security” measures will encourage local and state police to act as federal immigration agents and place thousands of border patrol & ICE agents in communities and worksites, which would make our communities more vulnerable to abuse, racial profiling and harassment and lead to widespread detention and deportation. "Why does this proposal stipulate a capacity to incarcerate 27,000 immigrants a day?" Carolyn H. de Leon-Hermogenes, a member of Domestic Workers United, asked. "It is clear this proposal has nothing to do with communities and everything to do with expanding enforcement and corporate profits for the same companies that are making money from the war in Iraq." Similar to last year’s plans, the Grand Compromise also focuses heavily on enforcement, including doubling the number of Border Patrol agents; adding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to investigate “immigration crimes;” and providing more equipment to militarize the border.
Through an extensive community consultation process, Immigrant Communities in Action documented the voices of immigrant communities and created the “People's Platform for Immigration Reform.” Community members want to reunite with their families within a reasonable period; we do not want to wait decades to apply for their “green card” and then more years to become a citizen before we can file a petition for their relatives. We want to protect the rights of all workers – immigrants and native-born. We want a fair path to legalization available to all temporary workers. We want our homes, our workplaces, our cities, and our borders to be safe; we want an end to the human and civil rights crisis and disappearing legal processes. We say no to increasing raids, detention and deportation that tear our families apart, and are paid for with taxpayers’ money.
Immigrant communities are in crisis as our families are being torn apart—we desperately need a fair and humane immigration reform that includes a clear and realistic path to legalization and an end to raids, deportations, detentions & excessive policing.
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