Advocates Welcome Legislation To Overhaul US Immigration System

(CMC) — New York immigrant rights advocates have welcomed the introduction of the bicameral United States Citizenship Act of 2021 that seeks to overhaul America’s immigration system.

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke last Thursday joined California Congresswoman Linda T Sánchez and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez in introducing the Act.

The Act is in keeping with US President Joe Biden’s “bold, inclusive and humane” plan for the future of the United States immigration system, opening up a pathway to citizenship for millions of Caribbean and other immigrants.

Over the weekend, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organisation for more than 200 immigration groups in New York State, embraced the US Citizenship Act’s introduction, pledging to continue to work with the state’s Congressional delegation to strengthen the bill to meet the needs of immigrant New Yorkers and to swiftly pass it into law.

Murad Awawdeh and Rovika Rajkishun, NYIC’s interim co-executive directors, said that Biden’s Citizenship Act is “a vital first step in creating opportunity, security and stability for hundreds of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers, who live, work and contribute to America with few protections.

“While we applaud President Biden and our leaders in Congress for introducing this expansive and visionary piece of legislation, we demand and deserve a permanent solution that serves all of us, and leaves no one behind,” they, however, added.

“We will continue to work to ensure that any bill delivers real racial justice for all, especially Black immigrants, who have been harmed by the racist criminal legal and immigration systems,” Awawdeh and Rajkishun added. “The US Citizenship Act is a powerful testament to decades of fierce advocacy.

“By marshalling the power of our communities, we will finally transform our immigration system,” they continued. “We are committed to fighting for the boldest and most expansive immigration reform that does not leave anyone behind.

“The New York Immigration Coalition will ensure that every single member of Congress in New York, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer leading the way, fights to ensure its passage,” Awawdeh and Rajkishun said. “Today, the real work begins.”

As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, said she is “uniquely familiar with the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

“As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force, I have seen the glaring inequities, blatant racism, vicious xenophobia, and civil rights violations immigrants face, particularly in immigrant communities of African descent,” she said. “Our immigration system is broken, and I will not relent until our immigration system reflects a modern and equitable approach to this issue.

“Reversing the policies of the last four years is not enough,” Clarke added. “We must reimagine the immigration system in a manner that is humane, just, and fair.

“This bill is the Biden-Harris administration’s vision to fix our immigration system once and for all,” Clarke continued. “The time has come for the values of our nation to be reflected in our immigration policies. I am proud to co-lead this paramount legislation.”

The legislation would provide millions of hardworking, undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants a pathway to earned citizenship, including Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients and “essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic.”

The measure would also prioritise family reunification, keeping families together; and bolster the country’s long-term economic growth.

Additionally, the legislation would also equip the country to “responsibly and effectively manage the border with smart and effective investments”; address root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America; and restore the United States’ commitment to human rights.