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Civil Rights Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Use Executive Authority to Protect Immigrant Families and Workers

The groups write, “Immigration is one of the key civil rights issues of our time.”

To read the full letter, click here.

WASHINGTON — Today, as first reported by The Hill, a coalition of prominent civil rights organizations sent a letter to the Biden administration calling on President Joe Biden to take all actions within his authority to protect undocumented immigrants — many of whom hail from the African and Caribbean diasporas, have strong family and community ties, and contribute tremendously to the economy. The groups underscored the economic and moral imperative to protect these communities, calling immigration, “one of the key civil rights issues of our time.”

The letter specifically calls for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations and redesignations for nationals in the U.S. who can’t safely return to their home countries, including nationals from Sudan, South Sudan, Haiti, Cameroon, and other African nations, as well as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. It also calls on President Biden to use all tools necessary to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and urges reduction of overly long case backlogs. 

As long-term undocumented immigrants continue to uniquely strengthen the economy and local communities, they have become an inextricable part of our nation’s fabric. However, as the groups outlined in the letter, congressional inaction on immigration reform has left undocumented Black immigrants who have called the U.S. home for decades with uncertainty about their future. The groups are now calling on the administration to take every executive and agency action possible to help protect these immigrant communities and move towards a more fair and equitable immigration system. 

The letter, led by the National Urban League, NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human RightsNAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Haitian Bridge Alliance, states: 

“There is a moral imperative for us to reform our immigration system and overcome the mistakes of our past, particularly as the Black immigrant population represents one of the most rapidly growing immigrant communities in the U.S. 

“We, therefore, urge the administration to take every executive and agency action possible to help ensure that we begin to move to a more fair and equitable immigration system. A number of our organizations have endorsed the solutions in the report titled 2023 Immigration Priorities: A Blueprint for the Biden-Harris Administration. We believe all of these solutions should be on the table as the administration builds a suite of solutions focused on affirmative relief, including: (1) TPS designations and redesignations for nationals in the U.S. who can’t return to their home countries due to armed conflict, natural disaster, or other emergent humanitarian reasons, including nationals from Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, and other African nations, as well as Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras, as soon as possible; (2) protections by any tool necessary for DACA recipients; and (3) reduction of overly long case backlogs and other related actions.

“We must uphold our values of being a nation where immigrants forced to flee due to political instability, violence and persecution can find a home and safe haven in the United States," said Efrén C. Olivares, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "For too long, anti-Black racism and cruelty have pervaded our immigration system. It’s time to end unjust treatment and human rights abuses inflicted by our government. We call upon the Biden administration to take every step to ensure that racial equity is at the forefront of its immigration policies.”

“Black immigrants carry the burdens of discrimination on multiple fronts, suffering from a stigma of anti-immigrant sentiment that has surged in recent years, compounded by the stain of anti-Blackness that the nation is still struggling to erase,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “These communities deserve an equal shot at the American dream, and we urge the Biden Administration to take aggressive action to rid the immigration process of the inequities that put that dream persistently out of reach.”

“Black immigrants continue to be the group most impacted by crimmigration as our communities are overpoliced, hyper vulnerable and subject to extreme racism” said Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “It is of utmost importance that the Biden administration live up to its values and use the full breadth of its executive power to provide essential humanitarian protections including TPS. According to the latest Pew Research, one (1) in ten (10) Black people in the United States are immigrants. The Black immigrant population is projected to account for roughly a third of the U.S. Black population’s growth through 2060. It is time that we acknowledge the contribution of Black immigrants in the United States and urge President Biden and his administration to make sure that racial equity is at the center of all immigration policies and to bring swift action to protect our Black immigrant community.”

"Immigrants make our communities stronger,” said LDF Senior Policy Counsel Amalea Smirniotopoulos. “Yet, we've seen an onslaught of attacks in recent years on undocumented immigrants — thousands of whom came to the United States to escape violence, poverty and environmental disasters. Black immigrants in particular continue to fare worse in our immigration system and may face higher rates of deportation and detention. We urge President Biden to take all necessary steps to fix our broken immigration system."