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Sen. Susan Collins’ anti-immigrant bill, which did not receive the votes needed to move toward passage today, tried to gain support from Republicans and moderate Democrats by claiming that it would not affect DACAmented DREAMers, even as it sought to deport older DREAMers and immigrant parents. As we noted in our press statement today, it would “roll back the most important advancement for immigrant rights in decades” — and increase the budget deficit. For this reason, it was opposed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the AFL-CIO, National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and many other groups. Here’s what some of them had to say about the bill:
United We Dream:
Sen. Collins’ bill is a non-starter. My mother will qualify for deportation protection because of the new executive action on immigration. Senator Collins suggests that my sister is worthy of staying because she has DACA, but that our mother, Chela, who has sacrificed everything for us, must continue living in fear.”
The GOP’s immigration antics have succeeded in doing only one thing: further alienating Latino and immigrant community voters. Their latest great idea is a symbolic vote on deporting parents, keeping millions living in fear and dragging our country backwards on immigration – seriously?
Maybe one more White House loss will finally teach the GOP Congress that there’s a price to pay for this foolishness.
Senator Collins calls her proposal a “sweet spot” compromise but I can assure her and the GOP leadership that it’s sure to leave a bad taste in the mouths of millions of voters.
Shamefully, Republicans have chosen an agenda built on demonizing aspiring citizens over our national security needs. They have ignored multiple opportunities to bring a clean homeland security funding bill to the floor for a vote. And now the very workers who keep our country safe every day run the risk of being furloughed or asked to work without pay. No level of political gamesmanship should jeopardize the safety of America.
Republicans have carelessly chosen to make political temper tantrums a pillar of their so-called leadership. But bad choices have consequences and the American people will remember how Republican leadership unnecessarily put our nation’s safety at risk.
The AFL-CIO steadfastly supports executive action on immigration. Despite continuing Republican attacks and misguided court orders, we will continue to help eligible workers prepare to apply for temporary relief and will fight to protect all workers from abuse and exploitation on the job.
National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence:
[Collins’ bill] would harm victims of domestic and sexual violence and ignore their best interests as well as those of their children. We recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (‘VAWA’), which has, since it was first enacted, included critical protections for immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence. The proposed bill undermines protections from removal for victims of domestic and sexual violence and undercuts the spirit of VAWA.
Women’s Refugee Coalition:
S.534 will not fix our immigration system. Advancing this bill promises only a long floor process and risks amendments that will further harm our families and degrade public safety. WRC remains steadfast in our commitment to protect the lives and rights of every family. S.534 fails to honor this commitment by hindering law enforcement officers and keeping families apart. We urge you to oppose S.534.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee of Migration:
With regard to blocking implementation of the DAPA program, it would require the continuation of a policy that places millions of hard-working immigrant families in peril and perpetuates situations of family separation. If S. 534 is enacted into law, U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident children would continue to see their parents deported away from them, leaving them the difficult choice of remaining in the country without their parents or leaving with them to a country they do not know. This is not how our country should treat these U.S. citizens, the future leaders of our nation…In our churches and in our parishes, we see firsthand the devastation of family separation and the family breakdown that results from such separation. For this reason, we strongly oppose S. 534 and ask that you vote against it.
National Immigration Law Center:
S. 534 would roll back the president’s executive actions on immigration, policies that are legally sound and grounded in the administration’s authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion. It also would weaken programs and policies that facilitate the citizenship process for lawful permanent residents and protect immediate family members of U.S. military service members and dismantle humanitarian- based relief for children and asylees. Additionally, through the scapegoating of immigrants, S. 534 would undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by perpetuating misconceptions about the employer mandate in order to spread fears of discrimination and divide American workers.
Church World Services:
As Congress considers S.534, CWS encourages all policy makers to stand with immigrant families and reject legislation that would result in the deportations of people who are contributing to and strengthening our communities. We pray that Congress considers the humanity of immigrants and the scriptural call to welcome the stranger and love our neighbors. Rather than legislation that would tear families apart and dash the hopes of young people and parents of U.S. citizen and permanent resident children, we urge Congress to support immigration policies that treat our neighbors with the dignity and respect that all people deserve.
Since the 1950s, every President, including both Republican and Democratic Presidents, has used his authority to grant temporary immigration relief to groups of individuals without status. As part of the President’s enforcement authority, he can and must set priorities, target resources, and shape how laws are to be implemented. Within that responsibility, the President has discretionary authority to execute the laws in a manner that most effectively utilizes limited resources, including through the use of prosecutorial discretion. The deferred action programs in combination with the Department of Homeland Security’s new enforcement priorities will better enable Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol to target their resources towards serious criminals and recent border crossers. This will result in an even more secure border than we have today.
Efforts in Congress to prevent the Administration from taking these modest steps should be rejected not only because the President possesses the authority for these sensible steps, but because the Administration’s efforts are humanitarian in nature and are sensible steps to address our broken immigration system.
Asian-Americans Advancing Justice:
This bill also ties the administration’s hands with modest improvements to our legal immigration system. It undermines family unity by preventing expansion of the provisional waiver that helps some close family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents achieve lawful status using existing legal channels. DHS would be unable to implement the final rule announced today that extended work authorization to the spouses of H-1b temporary workers who are already on a path to a green card. The overwhelming majority of H-1b workers and their spouses are from Asia so preventing implementation of this new rule disproportionately harms Asian American families – and our overall economy that would benefit from their skill and labor. Lastly, the administration’s efforts to promote citizenship, integration, and modernization of our visa system would be halted too by S. 534.
As we face the real possibility that DHS’s funding will run out in a few days, Advancing Justice | AAJC urges the Senate to oppose S. 534.
We Belong Together:
Immigrant women may be more likely to experience domestic violence than U.S. born women because immigration status is often used as a tool of control to force women to remain in violent relationships. Immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence are also particularly vulnerable to being arrested and convicted of domestic violence- related crimes because of language and cultural barriers which often lead to miscommunications when interfacing with law enforcement. Under the executive actions on immigration, a victim who may also have domestic violence convictions can present mitigating evidence that could establish she is not an enforcement priority.