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Immigrant Rights: Humane policies, not harmful propaganda, will improve quality of life for everyone

Let’s focus on human rights, not hate.

The national conversation on immigration has suffered in recent months, hijacked by lies and misinformation about families seeking protection on our shores.

It’s a tired tactic that ignores our moral and legal obligations toward people fleeing danger. We cannot allow those with large platforms to so carelessly mislead the public on policies that directly impact citizens’ and non-citizens’ safety and livelihoods.

That’s why it’s so critical that you and I get even more vocal about human rights. Right now, I hope you’ll commit to two very important acts.

First, speak up whenever and wherever you see misinformation or lies about our immigrant communities, communities of color or other dangerous propaganda that undermines our democracy and erodes others’ dignity and humanity.

Second, encourage your elected officials to create a clear roadmap for citizenship. If you’re like me, you recognize a system that breaks apart families is a broken system. And we agree that the right side of history means creating a roadmap for citizenship that protects humanity and serves the culture and freedoms we all hold dear.

Today, people are moving to the U.S. for the same reason that so many others moved here in recent generations – to raise a family in safety and build a better life for themselves. It is a hard decision that takes courage and sacrifice.

People don’t flee their homes because we elect a new president in the United States. They flee their homes because they have no other choice, and often because their home country has deteriorated as a result of decades of U.S. interventionist policy.

Yet, during the past four years, the United States has abandoned its domestic and international obligations to provide access to the asylum process, largely dismantling the infrastructure to process asylum claims. In fact, some of the restrictive asylum policies enacted by the previous administration are still in place.

It’s commendable that the Biden administration is ending some of these policies, including the so-called “Remain In Mexico” policy that has forced asylum seekers to wait for their U.S. immigration hearings in dangerous Mexican border towns and to live in make-shift arrangements. However, everyone who has been affected by this policy must have a meaningful opportunity to present their claims for asylum or other relief – including those who have received removal orders without even being able to attend their hearings, those whose cases have been terminated, and those who have been denied relief in proceedings without due process. 

The numbers of immigrants at the border now are comparable to those of 2019. The economic fallout of the pandemic and recent climate disasters over the past year are among the main drivers of migration from Central America and other countries.

Our nation has tried reactionary, anti-immigrant policies multiple times, and they’ve failed again and again. Now is the time to reimagine our immigration system and enact workable solutions that help our communities thrive by providing full economic and civic participation to everyone.

Immigrants are central to our nation, and we know that when things get tough, coming together across our differences to create new ways of caring for one another is the surest way to make things better for everyone who calls the United States home.

Photo at top: A group of about 30 Brazilian migrants who had just crossed the U.S.-Mexico border sit on the ground near U.S. Border Patrol agents in Sunland, New Mexico, on March 20, 2019. (Credit: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images)