Washington, D.C. — In a new column, Center for American Progress Vice President for Immigration Policy Tom Jawetz lays out what the top immigration priorities should be for the 116th Congress.
For the past two years, Congress permitted the Trump administration to wage war on immigrants and refugees, including multiple versions of a Muslim and refugee ban, family separation, and the ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for most holders, potentially exposing more than 1 million individuals who are living and working in the country legally to detention and deportation. The stakes are high as Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in eight years. Democratic control provides an opportunity to pursue much-needed oversight, pass legislation to protect vulnerable individuals, and lay the foundations for a progressive vision for immigration policy.
The priorities that CAP lays out are:
- An ambitious oversight agenda: Every committee and subcommittee must investigate the Trump administration’s abuses within their jurisdictions, including issues such as the deaths of multiple children in Customs and Border Protection custody, family separation, the detention of record numbers of unaccompanied children for prolonged periods of time, attacks on legal immigration, and more. Effective congressional oversight can serve multiple purposes, such as forcing agencies to change or abandon policies that are wrong and getting agency officials on the record on issues that could later arise in litigation.
- Protect vulnerable individuals: Congress must pass legislation within the first 100 days to put Dreamers and TPS holders on a pathway to citizenship. Additionally, Democrats in the House now have the opportunity to rein in appropriations abuses, such as stopping Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security as a whole, from egregiously violating congressional intent by overspending their accounts and expecting Congress to simply grant them more money.
- Charting a course for the future: Finally, House Democrats must lay out a positive, progressive vision for immigration policy that aligns with U.S. values and restores the rule of law in our immigration system. This means keeping families together and creating legal pathways for people to enter the country, a fair and efficient adjudication of asylum claims, and an enforcement system that provides fair and just outcomes, not one-size-fits-all detentions and deportations.
“Trump’s attacks on immigrants and refugees began in the opening moments of his campaign and have continued daily throughout the course of his administration,” said Jawetz. “In addition to conducting long overdue oversight, over the next two years, Congress can pass legislation to ameliorate some of the damage already caused by his policies and lay the groundwork for an immigration system that truly lives up to our nation’s values and ideals.”
Read “Immigration Priorities in the 116th Congress” by Tom Jawetz.
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