The Immigrant Justice Network Opposes “Parole” in the Reconciliation Bill

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Our communities deserve inclusive and permanent solutions NOW.

2021.11.9 — The immigrant Justice Network released the following statement today:

In the midst of the ongoing debate in Congress, the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN) upholds simple but all too ignored truths. We uphold that every person’s life is of value, no matter what they look like or where they came from. We affirm that our immigration policies should center around our values of community and compassion. And we affirm the humanity of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones who have had contact with the U.S.’s racist criminal-legal system.

Across the country, immigrant communities have been organizing for inclusion and permanent protection from the cruel machinery of detention and deportation. These efforts are vital and urgently needed, as are many components of the overall “Build Back Better” bill. 

However, when we look at the so-called “parole” provisions for immigration relief, we see that the important demands of the immigrant community have been whittled down into something nearly unrecognizable. These provisions, as many have noted, are inadequate. They are elusive, temporary, and restrictive. Moreover, they maintain the painful exclusion of our loved ones who have been criminalized. For these reasons, the Immigrant Justice Network opposes the “parole” option.

Even as much of the immigrant rights movement continues to hold citizenship as its north star, our network wants to draw attention to the fact that previous legislation, despite containing many critically and urgently important provisions, also excluded our loved ones, neighbors, friends, and those of us who ourselves have been criminalized. Such exclusions have their roots in a harmful framework that subjects immigrants to double-punishment and double-suspicion based on the color of their skin and where they were born.

Additionally, we join with our partners advocating for a different vision for public safety where investment is made in communities rather than in more policing and imprisonment. We recognize that both the immigration and criminal-legal systems are rooted in racism and white supremacy, and as long as lawmakers in DC continue to criminalize immigrants and people of color for political gain, we will continue to speak out against criminalization in all its forms.

Instead of bringing to the table bills that perpetuate the criminalization of our communities, we must all continue to fight for a world where no person is seen as disposable. We must fight for citizenship and protection from deportation without excluding any member of our communities, including those who have already been targeted by the criminal system. In these difficult moments, we must also continue to lift up and advocate for immigration policies, such as the New Way Forward Act, which seeks to decriminalize migration and address racism in the immigration system while affirming our values of equity, inclusion, and respect for everyone’s rights.

We call on Congress to follow the lead of our most vulnerable communities who need inclusive and permanent solutions NOW.

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