Excluding people who have endured racial profiling, criminalization violates our values of equity and inclusion
Washington, DC—Yesterday, the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6) was introduced in Congress by Representatives Roybal-Allard, Velázquez, and Clarke. Disappointingly, this critical piece of legislation that would provide a roadmap to citizenship for so many was introduced with harsh “criminal bars,” exclusions that will leave community members who have suffered in the U.S.’s racially biased criminal legal system vulnerable to deportation.
In response, the Immigrant Justice Network released the following statement:
We are disappointed to see that the Dream and Promise Act, which is meant to provide much needed and overdue protection to immigrant youth and recipients of TPS and DED, continues to exclude many from relief without accounting for the systemic inequities that result from the over-policing and racial profiling of Black and brown community members.
Moreover, the justifications for these harsh exclusions have their roots in a harmful and fear-based framework that subjects immigrants to double-punishment and double-suspicion because of the color of their skin or where they were born. Excluding people who are already facing the painful consequences of criminalization is yet another manifestation of the systemic racism that is so deeply entrenched in our immigration and criminal legal systems.
The Dream and Promise Act must honor the promise made to protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants who call the United States home. This makes it all the more important for the bill to be truly inclusive and reflect our values of equity, compassion, and respect for everyone’s rights.
Legislation that is meant to protect immigrants must also reject any framework that automatically excludes individuals from relief because of contact with the racist criminal legal system. For this reason, as it is written, the Immigrant Justice Network cannot support the bill. However, we will continue to pressure Congress to eliminate these callous criminal bars and put forth a bill that treats no one as disposable.
Immigrant Justice Network (IJN) members include Families for Freedom, Grassroots Leadership, the Immigrant Defense Project, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Just Futures Law, the National Immigrant Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Puente Human Rights Movement, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, and the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network.