BY DOUA THOR, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST ASIA RESOURCE ACTION CENTER (SEARAC)
Thank you to everyone who called your Senators to tell them to vote NO to deportation based only on suspected gang membership and NO on detaining immigrants in deportation proceedings indefinitely. Your voice made a difference! The Grassley amendment on gangs FAILED thanks in part to your advocacy, and Senator Grassley chose NOT to put forward his amendment on indefinite detention. Thank you for helping to protect basic human rights and due process in our immigration system!
Senate Committee Passes Bill
Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the immigration reform bill to the Senate for a full vote – an important step forward for immigration reform. The bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, create new mechanisms to fund and promote English language classes and other integration services, improve protections for refugees and asylees, and protect the rights of immigrant and U.S. workers.
We still have a lot of work to do, though. An amendment passed by Senator Grassley would make three drunk driving convictions an aggravated felony, which would result in mandatory deportation. Not only is the definition of aggravated felony already much too broad, but immigration judges have very little power to stop a deportation based on an aggravated felony conviction, even if a person clearly deserves another chance. The bill would also make it harder in some ways to bring family members to the U.S., and would do little to improve harsh deportation policies.
Next Steps – Send Us Your Stories!
SEARAC needs your help continuing to educate two key Senators: Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota and Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who both expressed support for tougher deportation policies based on suspected gang membership. We will continue to educate Senator Klobuchar and Senator Whitehouse about how our communities have been impacted by gang policies that result in increased racial profiling and criminalization of young people of color. SEARAC will also turn our attention to the House of Representatives, which will begin to develop its immigration bill this week.
We need your stories!! We have found that personal stories make the biggest difference in Washington, DC. Do you or someone you love have personal experience with being misidentified as a gang member, or faced the consequences of alleged gang membership many years later? Are you or someone you love facing an order of deportation? Please share your story with Mari at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-601-2970 so that together we can continue to educate policymakers on the Hill about these important issues.