January 20, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
New Ellis Island Border Policy Group Letter to President Biden Administration on Border and Immigration Policy Priorities
Dear President Biden,
Fixing our broken immigration system is critical to protecting the well-being of our communities, our economy, and our nation as a whole. However, throughout the past decade, this urgent issue has consistently been neglected by our representatives in government on both sides of the aisle. That negligence, in turn, allowed the Trump administration to subject border communities to four years of relentless persecution, racism, and xenophobia that hurt millions of families. It also resulted in a total lack of accountability for the serious human rights abuses carried out by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies and local law enforcement against immigrants, Black people, and communities of color.
As members of the New Ellis Island Border Policy Group, a coalition of organizations representing some of the more marginalized communities along the southern border region, we are calling on your administration to end this destructive cycle immediately, and make substantive, comprehensive, and compassionate immigration reform that is inclusive of the needs and concerns of border communities a top priority in the legislative agenda.
Your administration will have to work hard in the first 100 days to ensure that immigrant and refugee families are given the human rights and justice they were so cruelly denied over the past four years and beyond. In order to facilitate the execution of this monumental task, below we are sharing an outline of the demands of our border communities, and providing concrete steps to be taken by those in power. As our newly elected representative, we call on you to fulfill your campaign promises by delivering on the following priorities so we can build a nation where everyone can thrive together:
1. Champion the Just and Fair Integration of Immigrant Families and Workers in our Society. Introduce a comprehensive immigration reform package in Congress devoid of cruel or draconian enforcement tradeoffs.
2. Repeal Trump’s Racist and Xenophobic Immigrant Policies. Commit to using Executive powers to repeal the destructive immigration policies targeting immigrant families and children in the border region implemented under the Trump administration, including the explicit and absolute prohibition of jailing children and their families.
3. Create a Legalization Program that Provides a Pathway to Citizenship. Pass comprehensive immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship that is broad, inclusive, and accessible to the 11+ million undocumented people who call our country home.
4. Demilitarize the U.S./Mexico Border. Demilitarize the southern border by repealing the nonsensical and false State of Emergency Declaration imposed by Trump, and immediately halting any further construction of the Border Wall of Shame.
5. Implement Accountability and Oversight of Border Institutions and Policies. Work with Congress to pass and implement the necessary accountability mechanisms to exercise greater oversight of federal law enforcement agencies at the border and in the interior, including DHS agencies such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and hold them accountable for their human rights and civil violations to the fullest extent of the law.
6. End to the Separation and Deportation of Families. Immediately enact an Arrest and Deportation Moratorium until our immigration system is fixed, and new, fair immigration laws are passed and implemented; reunite families who were separated due to cruel and unjust immigration policies; and begin the process of repatriating deported veterans.
7. Decriminalize Immigrant Families and Refugees. Close all immigration detention facilities across the country, prioritizing those dedicated to jailing immigrant families, refugees, and asylum seekers.
8. Rebuild, Improve, and Expand the Asylum and Refugee Systems. End the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), and rebuild our nation’s resettlement program to ensure all applications are addressed in a timely manner, and those seeking safe haven in our country are treated with respect, dignity and fairness.
9. Reverse Modifications to the H-2A Visa Program and Other Temporary Foreign Labor Programs. Reverse the Executive Orders issued by Trump that attack the rights of workers and the viability of existing labor programs, and provide current agricultural laborers already living and working in our country with a path to permanent lawful status.
As you take the oath of office this week and usher in a new era of justice and unity in our nation, we look forward to working with you to implement these priorities so our country lives up to its values of freedom, dignity, and opportunity for all. The time for bold, transformative change is now.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar
New Ellis Island Border Policy Group Members:
El Paso County Commissioner David C. Stout
A.Y.U.D.A. Inc.- Adults and Youth United Development Association
Border Agricultural Workers Project
Border Network for Human Rights
Border Women’s Project
Border Workers United
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (DMRS)
El Paso Equal Voice Network
Grupo Dignidad, Igualdad y Oportunidad
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
LUPE – La Unión del Pueblo Entero
Peace and Justice Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso
RITA – Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance
This post was originally published on BORDER NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.