Monday night, the Senate voted 97-1 for cloture on Motion to Proceed (that’s Hill speak for beginning the process to vote on legislation) on an immigration bill. And this morning, they voted on the Motion to Proceed, so we’re headed into debate about what will go into the final bill.
The full bill and amendments haven’t been released, but the one-page framework released by Republicans yesterday shows us that Republicans aren’t serious about finding a solution for DACA recipients or a bipartisan compromise. The Republican proposal is a racist bill written to use Dreamers as bargaining chips to advance a draconian anti-immigrant agenda.
Here’s what you should know about the Republican proposal:
• The bill limits “chain migration” (a racist term used by hate groups to describe family-based migration) and family reunification. “Chain migration” is almost exclusively used by Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate groups like Numbers USA and FAIR. This is a family ban intended to prevent immigrants, mostly people of color, from reuniting with siblings, parents, and grandparents. It forces immigrants to choose between life in the United States or seeing their family again.
• The Diversity Visa Program would be wiped out: the Diversity Visa Program, a merit-based system, has been a core of the US’ legal immigration system for decades. The program ensures the US maintains diversity in our immigration system (i.e. it makes sure we don’t privilege immigrants from white countries like Norway in our immigration system).
• More money and resources will go to enforcement: not only will Republican hardliners try to stick Donald Trump’s expensive, pointless border wall in this bill, they’ll also propose expanding Trump’s deportation machine. This will only allow for the expedited removal of immigrants and erode sanctuary policies.
This bill could move fast. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Donald Trump have said they want debate wrapped up on this bill quickly — Cornyn even said by the end of Thursday. This is nothing but an arbitrary deadline meant to end debate as quickly as possible. Trump and his congressional allies know the more we fight for Dreamers, the more the American public (a big majority of them) wants Congress to do the right thing and pass a clean Dream Act.
This bill can move any which way. So we need to remind our members of Congress why they are even debating this issue in the first place — people’s lives are at stake. We have three ways you can take action starting today, no matter what happens:
• Call your senators (and keep calling them) at 1-855-980-2355: They need to hear your voices. Over 80% of the American people want Congress to pass a law that puts American Dreamers on a clear path to full citizenship. If you have a Democratic Senator, tell them that they need to stay strong and not cave on any of the White House’s outrageous demands. We have a script that outlines key points for Democrats here.
• If you have a Republican senator: Tell them that the White House proposal and any Senate or House bill that reflects its radical framework is a nonstarter. Trump and Stephen Miller’s wish list would give some Dreamers a path to citizenship in exchange for gutting our legal immigration system, ending 5 of 7 family reunification categories, ending the diversity visa program, and selling out their families. That’s simply unacceptable. Call and tell your Republican Senators that Dreamers are not a bargaining chip to be used to advance Trump’s racist policies!
• Be an immigrant ally locally. No matter what happens in Congress, immigrant communities need our support. There are things that you can do locally to show up for immigrants who continue to be terrorized by this White House. Check out our toolkit for more information.
The key message we need to give Democrats is that it’s okay to walk away. The situation is dire for Dreamers, and we want Congress to provide relief for them. However, immigration rights advocates have been clear that they would rather Democrats walk away than take a bad deal. We agree 100%, there are clear red lines that we should not cross and we will oppose any amendment that crosses them.
White supremacists in Congress and the administration are using 800,000 Dreamers as a bargaining chip to advance their racist agenda and gut our entire legal immigration system. This debate will define whether our country will continue being welcoming for immigrants as it has been for centuries, or whether we’ll enact draconian, racist, and cruel immigration measures that nativists in power have pursued for decades.
So please, pick up the phone and keep calling your senators to demand a clean Dream Act.
Dreamers are putting their bodies and lives on the line to defend their futures, and we must fight alongside them.