A diverse group of faith leaders, job creators and activists launched a new coalition this week to push President Biden and Congress to pass immigration reforms they say are common-sense solutions and are long overdue.
Nearly 30 groups, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Association of Evangelicals, banded together to form the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus (ANIC). They kicked off their advocacy campaign with a letter to congressional leaders urging them to act this year on popular reforms to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation threats.
“At no other point in recent history has the need for immigration reform been greater than it is today. Simply put, the system is broken,” the members wrote in their letter to Congress. “Millions of workers, many of whom were indispensable to the nation’s COVID-19 response, are living in legal jeopardy. Apprehensions at the southern border are at historic highs. And employers are struggling to find workers to fill jobs in many industries.”
At a news conference Wednesday, alliance members were buoyed by Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night where he said it was time to “secure our border and fix the immigration system.”
Immigration problems “have only gotten worse this year,” said Jon Baselice, Vice President of Immigration Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “And the longer these problems don’t get addressed, the tougher they’re going to be to solve. So that’s what that’s why we need to push now.”
Immigration reforms have stalled in Congress for years. Rather than seeking a comprehensive immigration bill, the leaders talked of passing smaller legislative solutions on issues with broad public support, such as offering permanent protection for so-called Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and agricultural workers, as well as improved border security.
Bernardo Castro, a 30-year-old recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, talked of the constant fear that undocumented children face and how court rulings can upend any current protections they may have.
DACA status protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, but it is not as permanent as a federal law passed by Congress.
“These kids should be having fun living out their childhood, enjoying trips to the amusement park,” Castro said Wednesday. “But the political bickering has made their life a cruel roller coaster. Roughly 4.5 million children under the age of 18 live in mixed-status homes, with one family member being undocumented.”