Many Democratic candidates, who won election in November to help the Party take back the House, ran on the hot button issue of immigration reform.
At the height of increased reporting of children being separated, dragged away from their parents and caged by the Trump administration at the Southern border, many Democrats were quick to ramp up the rhetoric against such vile abuse of the human rights of these migrants.
But now that the Democrats have the House in place there is little focus it seems on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would allow for the change of archaic policies currently on the books.
Instead, on March 12, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D-Calif.) was set to reintroduce the DREAM Act as the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 or (H.R. 6). The goal is to protect Dreamers, or young people brought to the United States without legal status as children by their parents, and those immigrants under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Departure status, from deportation while providing a path to citizenship.
While this is a good starting point, this only takes care of a small segment of people living in the country. What about the millions of immigrants, aka the “undocumented,” who are without status and have no line to get in to or path to any form of legalization?
Democrats have no excuse now as they control the House. Sure the bill can be killed in the Senate, but the fact is that ahead of the presidential and general elections of 2020, immigrant voters want to see more solid action from Democrats on immigration reform and not simply the continuation of decades of lip flapping.
What is needed is the reintroduction and updating of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. This updated measure should include:
Giving a path to undocumented immigrants who have committed no crimes and live in the U.S. A visa to allow them to work legally and travel and return to the country while paying taxes. A green card could come later once they meet a specific timeline and rules put in place, but at least we will know who these immigrants are and allow them to pay into the coffers of an already highly indebted nation.
The elimination of the employer-sponsored component of the immigration system which is complex and can take up to a decade, with the replacement of a point-based “merit” system based on a combination of education, job skills, family connections and English proficiency.
Introducing a self-sponsorship option so immigrants living undocumented in the U.S. but who are entrepreneurs can sponsor themselves and their children.
An update of the application of asylum rules under the current law to allow for those who want to apply for asylum to do so at the U.S. consulates in their home nations or a U.S. consulate in a neighboring country only. This would tremendously ease up the pressure on the system at the borders and also free up immigration detention resources which are currently stretched to capacity.
Increase funding for immigration judges who can clear the backlog of criminal deportation cases and ensure a faster turnaround time to deportation, instead of immigrants being forced to be locked up for months and even years in detention centers around the country, costing taxpayers millions per annum.
Change the family sponsorship laws to immediate family members only—spouse, children and parents.
Increase the number of skilled visas, including H1-B, available to those in the country who are undocumented, to allow them to also apply and legalize their status through this option.
Limit the power of the executive branch on immigration decisions, including detention of immigrants indefinitely, the detention of immigrants and their children at the border and on rules around releasing children to family members in the U.S.
These are just eight key points that Democrats can tackle and with which bipartisan support could be received to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill to match the current needs of 2019 in these United States. A piecemeal approach is ludicrous. Let’s get to work!
The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc. which, owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.