For Immediate Release
October 28, 2021
Erik Villalobos, firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL TPS ALLIANCE Statement on Path forward for Immigrant Legalization in Infrastructure Reconciliation Deal
Sign Petition calling for more action from Congressional Hispanic Caucus members
(Washington DC) In the face of widespread confusion, uncertainty, and doubt about the path forward for inclusion of immigrant legalization in the upcoming infrastructure and budget reconciliation legislative packages, the National TPS Alliance issued the following statement:
“Those of us denied equal rights at minimum deserve the truth. We felt compelled to issue this statement because of a recent troubling dynamic where some lawmakers have suggested that the possibility of permanent residency for some immigrants, is in conflict with the possibility of attaining non-immigrant parole status for others. We have been clear that we want permanent residency, but we are also equally clear-eyed about political realities we are confronting, and we want our position on this topic to be equally clear.
“Because we are composed of members with TPS, we know firsthand that some protections are better than nothing, but we also know temporary protections are insufficient and risk robbing us of our future. Moreover, we have seen in the past how the prospect of Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been used to block piecemeal proposals like the DREAM ACT. And tragically, we have seen how the rights of those of us who are inside the U.S. are put in tension with the rights of our brothers and sisters outside of the U.S. seeking to come here for refuge and asylum. This is why we feel uniquely qualified to share our views about the false choice between either pursuing the ‘whole enchilada’ on one hand or pursuing a parole status for a limited number of people on the other.
“It is time for President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, and other Democrats to speak clearly, honestly, and directly about what they can and cannot deliver for immigrants through legislation this year. It is unfair and fundamentally wrong to raise expectations, to set forth a series of competing legalization proposals, and then to ask immigrant rights organizations to choose among them, only to come back in the end to say nothing at all is possible.
“Democratic leaders should tell us what they can achieve now, and they should be clear about what they will fight for later. If they do this, we believe immigrants- those who will immediately benefit from legislation and those who won’t-will unify and rally with them. On the other hand, if immigrants are left behind at this juncture following the twin epidemics of COVID 19 and Trumpism, it will cause considerable pain to millions of citizens-in-waiting, it will further divide the country, and it will call into question Democrats’ sincerity, their competence, and ultimately their ability to govern. The Biden Administration must lead, and it must do so now.
“We formed the National TPS Alliance with two very specific goals in mind: to save TPS and to attain lawful permanent resident status for all TPS holders. We achieved our first goal through a combination of litigation and advocacy that both defeated Trump’s withering attack on us and bought us time to achieve political progress. And in furtherance of our second goal, we formed and connected bottom-up, immigrant-led committees from coast to coast; we organized and worked hard together to advocate for immigration reform; we criss-crossed the country (at our own risk and expense without significant support of wealthy philanthropic foundations); we engaged in good faith collaboration with other coalitions and stakeholders; we educated lawmakers and the public about TPS; and we have stood ready, willing and able to take advantage of any window of opportunity that might open in this congress. In short, we have done everything within our power to earn the rights and the respect we deserve. It is past time for the Democratic Party, which controls Congress and the Executive Branch, to act.
“But like other immigrants fighting for political, legal, and economic equality during this dark chapter of American history, we are troubled by President Biden’s unwillingness to devote political capital to protect immigrant and his unwise exercise of administrative authority. We are particularly troubled by the lack of coherent leadership from lawmakers, like those in the Progressive and Hispanic Caucus, who often boast of their immigrant heritage and claim to be our champions, but who fail to prioritize our interests. Consequently, we have grown increasingly concerned by a lack of progress on statutory reform in the Senate.
“Despite conflicting, confusing messages from Democratic leaders and their proxies, it now appears the window for a legalization program- at least one that would result in green cards for our families- will not open within the infrastructure and reconciliation deal. Of course, the future is uncertain, and we hope to be proven wrong. There is still time for lawmakers to redeem themselves by charting a new course, and we pledge to fight alongside anyone – from any political party- seeking to get an immigrant legalization bill signed into law this year. But at the moment, we are not optimistic, we will not be dishonest with ourselves or others, and we refuse to paint a false picture of where things stand.
“We want to make our position clear: Going forward, we will never deviate from our top priority of fighting until we get green cards for our families. Equal rights are long overdue, we will accept nothing less, and we will ultimately prevail. However, we will not allow our work, our dreams, and our desperation to be used as an obstacle to block progress for other immigrants and refugees. Furthermore, we will not permit our growing and cohesive coalition to be divided, undermined, and disempowered by cynical political games and maneuvers of others.
“We do not believe this view is controversial, nor do we believe immigrants are divided about it. To the contrary, we believe there is unity from the bottom-up on the need to make incremental progress. We believe divisions are being imposed on us from the top-down by the White House, by Democratic leadership, and by lobbyists who speak in our names. And even worse, these divisions are now being used as an excuse for their failure. We have seen this before. And we will not tolerate it.
As negotiations on infrastructure come to a close, this is how we will evaluate whether a bill will get our support or opposition:
- If something is better than the status quo for us and/or for others, we will support it.
- If something is worse for us and/or others, we will oppose it.
- And if our interests are eventually put in direct conflict with other migrants (for example, through an enforcement for legalization legislative deal), we insist on evaluating it and speaking for ourselves.
“There is too much at stake for Democrats to come up empty handed. We know progress is possible in the reconciliation deal. As every immigrant knows: where there is a will, there is a way. It is time for politicians to quit playing games with our lives. They must do the right thing and get something done.”
The National TPS Alliance is a grassroots immigrant rights organization of over 50 committees nationwide, advocating for the permanent residency of more than 400,000 beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)