Strategies for Realizing the Full Potential of US Immigration Reform
Immigrants bring to the U.S. new riches in the form of cultural knowledge, enthusiasm, novel insights, creativity, and know-how in drawing on social capital to collectively better community life.
Integrating immigrants into community life is crucial for the well-being of American society. Exclusion of undocumented immigrants from access to educational opportunities, access to affordable health services, and participation in civic life, compromises America's alleged commitment to democracy and jeopardizes our collective well-being as part of an 21st century global society and economy.
We are working on practical strategies and policy proposals to move forward toward social, economic, and political equity for all and focusing, first and foremost, on the well-being of undocumented immigrants who are systematically excluded.
IMMIGRATION POLICY REFORM - It is now 30 years since the 1986 passage of IRCA provided an opportunity for 2.7 million immigrants living and working in the U.S. to move forward with their lives. But since then there has been no way, even for long-time settled immigrants lacking legal status to gain an equal footing, or for them and their families to participate fully in the life of their communities. President Obama committed his administration to work vigorously to pass immigration reform legislation but his efforts failed. His administration’s alternatives have had mixed success. DACA has now provided more than 700,000 immigrant youth and young adults with freedom from deportation but efforts to provide relief to 4 million undocumented immigrant parents were blocked. In light of the troubled political landscape in Congress, states and municipalities have begun a range of promising initiatives to do what they can to provide undocumented youth with access to college education and to integrate all immigrants into community life.
Immigration reform legislation needs to be created and passed which provides currently undocumented immigrants legal status and a pathway to citizenship, so they can fulfill their dreams and so the United States can fully benefit from their skills and energy.At the same time we know that whatever the immigration reform legislation is that passes, will not be a panacea. We anticipate that following the very difficult work of negotiating enactment of an adequate bill, there will be a marathon of even more difficult work to enable all of the immigrants entitled to legal status to successfully apply. This important work is challenging but also provides exciting opportunities to “jump start” immigrant integration so as to allow currently unauthorized to move onward in their lives and upward in their careers.FOLLOWING THROUGH ON POLICY REFORM - We have carefully followed the dedicated efforts by immigration reform advocates over the years and have now collaborated for 6 years in support of a wide range of immigrant-oriented service programs and policy research. We believe our most valuable contribution in the next several years will be to support (and advocate for):
A workable practical framework for immigrants to actually secure legal status and citizenship
Strategic action to assure that the promised "pathway to citizenship" is one which assures that immigrants have a fair chance to affect community decision-making and shape civic life
Developing the organizational capacity to prepare non-profits and other immigrant-friendly institutions to help legalization applicants get through the process successfully and then immediately move onward and upward in society
Fostering the community collaboration between public institutions such as schools, municipal and county government, and grassroots community organizations that will be required to assure immigrants equitable access to social programs and equitable representation in civic life.
IMPROVE CENSUS COUNT OF IMMIGRANTS AND OTHERS – A key element of immigrant inclusion is for the communities they live in to receive equitable access to education, health, community development, and other social programs. Overcoming more than half a century of differential undercount of minorities and immigrants in Census 2020 is a practical priority We are working energetically to advocate for support to small and rural communities with dense concentrations of immigrant in neighborhoods with crowded and substandard housing to help them overcome the challenge of census undercount—which deprives them and their constituents of equitable funding and equal community voice.