Immigrant Rights vs. Racist Rhetoric

In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, anti-immigrant hate is revealing itself everywhere.

Republican candidates for the presidency are smearing whole communities, fanning xenophobic bigotry, and seeking to end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship. Too many politicians — including those in California — pander and wrongly conflate issues of immigration with public safety.

The truth is all immigrants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And for community safety, health, and education measures to be effective, they must provide equal access to all regardless of immigration status. We at Chinese for Affirmative Action support local sanctuary ordinances and other civil rights protections for immigrants that help make that happen.

At the federal level, administrative relief programs announced by President Obama that have been delayed in the courts should be implemented as soon as possible. It is unacceptable that extremist lawsuits are being used to discourage undocumented immigrants from escaping the shadows of society where they face exploitation.

In our work at CAA, we have been increasing outreach to Asian Americans who may be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and expanding efforts to inform community members of their rights and to connect them with immigration resources.

For example, last week, CAA joined thousands of individuals and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus to secure the release of a Chinese immigrant, Daniel Maher, from Immigration Customs and Enforcement. A resident of this country for nearly 40 years, Daniel was swept up in immigration raids and unnecessarily separated from his family for months. Though Daniel is now back home, his story is familiar to millions who continue to be harmed by our country’s broken immigration policies.

Whether a result of detentions and deportations or visa backlogs and caps, the levels of suffering are obscene and must end. What is necessary are real solutions that keep families together, and not racist rhetoric that does nothing more than scapegoat immigrants.

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