The Constant Changing Immigration Landscape

Had I written this article a week before I did, it might have looked very different. As of now, less than a week before General Convention, I cannot guarantee the immigration policies I write about will still be in effect.

Just the other day, the Travel Ban was upheld by the US Supreme Court, leaving thousands in limbo as to their future. The President has modified his “family separation” policies, but thousands of children are still not reunited with their parents. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) frequently show up to take immigrants into custody at courthouses and formerly sensitive locations. (Yes, an immigrant can be the victim of a crime, show to testify and be detained and put into a facility by ICE. And we wonder why immigrant victims’ of crime are not coming forward to report or testify.) Daily the landscape changes.

Unfortunately, the one item that has not changed: the pathway to citizenship. As our immigration system becomes more and more complex, avenues for citizenship continue to close. Recently, our Attorney General declared that an avenue of asylum for domestic violence survivors would be closed. And another avenue for children over 18 but under 21, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, was also recently closed.

Everyone one in Washington continues to blame the other for not “fixing” the immigration system. A bipartisan fix was not passed. But, what does it take to fix it? More than anything else, we need a pathway for all the immigrants in this country to be able to stay. We need a system that offers immigrants a way to become citizens in a timely fashion. Right now, if I am living in Mexico and want to reunite with my family in the US, I have to wait about 22 years. How is that acceptable? How can anyone endure that?

Setting up Zero Tolerance polices, throwing children in cages and charging their parents with crimes for fleeing for their lives is not going to fix our broken system. Nor is it going to lower our deficit. Creating a system to allow people to enter lawfully and stay lawfully, like we did in the past, is going to fix our immigration system.

- Laura Russell, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice


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