By Grace Lee, CAA Policy Director
“Tens of millions of Americans have long suffered as a result of our broken immigration system. Because Congress refuses to act, now is the time for the White House to take all necessary measures to reunite and keep all immigrant families together, and to welcome and embrace all immigrants into the fabric of American society.”
That is what we wrote to President Obama last week because his administration promised to take executive action on immigration. We as advocates want an announcement soon because further delays are unconscionable. In our letter to the President, CAA submitted specific recommendations to implement, including:
- Expanding and improving DACA: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be expanded to other broad categories of immigrants who can benefit from a more comprehensive approach. This prioritizes family members of youth who are DACA-eligible to keep families together. DACA should also be more inclusive and remove unreasonable barriers. Approximately 1 in 10 youth eligible for DACA are of Asian descent, and 46% of DACA-eligible students in the University of California system are Asian Americans.
- Reuniting families and addressing backlogs: The President and the U.S. State Department must use administrative actions to address the visa caps and backlogs that are keeping families separated, sometimes for decades. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should also increase the use of waivers that can allow family members to remain together when applying for visas.
- Protecting civil rights and promoting public safety: Enforcement programs such as “Secure Communities” have clouded the roles of federal and local authorities and led to racial profiling, and they must end. Not only have they eroded community trust and cooperation with local police, they have caused the unnecessary deportations of family members who pose no public safety threat.
Though Congress is not absolved of its responsibility to pass a long-term, comprehensive plan, executive action from President Obama can and must end the suffering of millions of immigrant families immediately. All of us here at CAA will be advocating and monitoring closely in the coming weeks. Thank you for your support.