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Immigration in the Omnibus: Triumph Over Fear

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Common Sense Emerges, For Now; Pro-Immigration Movement Stronger Than Ever 

The following is a statement from Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.  

Republicans in Congress started the immigration fight early in 2015.  When they tried to shut down the Department of Homeland Security over President Obama’s immigration executive actions, they proved how far they were willing to go on immigration—all the way to risking our nation’s national security.

The fight continued over the summer and fall as Donald Trump and other presidential candidates used tragic events in San Francisco and Paris to try to advance their wish list of anti-immigrant policies.

But in the omnibus spending package passed in the House today—as in the DHS funding battle earlier this year—cooler heads have finally prevailed and triumphed over fear.  Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Steve King, Jeff Sessions, and other Republican hardliners lost this round.  The winners were the Democrats who stood up to the Republican assault; immigrants and refugees; and the American people.

Of course, both the omnibus and the tax extenders package do include some controversial policies affecting immigrants.  Provisions were added to the omnibus that will harm H-2B workers and restrict access to the visa waiver program, while the tax package includes provisions that make it harder for some immigrants to pay taxes and receive certain tax credits.

Still, on the anti-immigrant movement’s marquee agenda items, immigrants and other Americans who support pro-immigrant policies stood up to them and won.  Our movement challenged and bolstered the backs of Democratic allies, who stood up to Republican ideologues and blocked key provisions.  We want to single out in particular the Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, who saw early on that Trump-style policies were a threat and aggressively denounced them as extreme and un-American.

But our work is not over now that the omnibus is on its way to becoming law.

Trump, Cruz, Sessions, and King want the United States to be country that puts immigration enforcement over public safety and community policing; one that turns its back on refugees running for their lives.  We do not share that vision of America, and so the struggle continues.

Next year, the playing field will be different and there will be even more at stake. Republicans will emerge from their presidential primary having articulated the most extreme positions ever on immigration.  They will be unable to Etch-a-Sketch their policies to match a general election audience that is decidedly more pro-immigrant than the Republican base.

Our movement will continue to naturalize, register, and turn out pro-immigrant voters.  The Supreme Court will potentially take up and decide the DAPA/DACA+ case, opening the way for the policy to finally be implemented.  This is a policy that Democrats roundly support and Republicans roundly oppose, with major implications for the 2016 elections.

The stakes are high for immigrants and their allies, but they are also high for a Republican Party that is on the wrong side of our movement, the APIA and Latino community, our country, and history.  We are pleased with this win at the end of 2015.  But we’re already looking ahead to the work we need to do to build on this victory in 2016 and win many, many more.