tags: Press Releases

Latino Lawmakers with Substantive and Political Expertise on Immigration Need to be at the Negotiating Table

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Washington, DC In The Hill newspaper, Rafael Bernal highlights how Latino lawmakers with deep expertise in immigration policy and politics have been left out of the negotiations around the Senate and White House immigration and border legislative package. This overlooked problem with the process helps explain the substantive problems with the likely bill text. In “Hispanic Caucus snub raises questions about border-Ukraine deal, Bernal writes:

“The glaring absence of Hispanic or immigrant representation in the bipartisan Senate border policy negotiations has gone largely overlooked, despite repeated appeals to diversify the voices at the table.

…’The old saying that ‘if you’re not in the room, you’re on the menu’ — it may very well be the case here. And so, it is alarming to me,’ said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the most senior CHC member in the Senate. ‘It would be like writing civil rights legislation and voting legislation and having none of the African American members of the Senate or the Black Caucus in the House be involved.’

…Immigration advocates are infuriated by the lack of transparency in Senate negotiations, in part because they mirror legislative processes in 1996 and 2006 that engendered enforcement-centric border and immigration policies that included few, if any, benefits for immigrants. 

…The CHC has been the lead voice and advocate on immigration policy in Congress for decades. Many of the members have personal experiences, whether they’re immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants,” said CHC Chair Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.). ‘And that’s why this is so disheartening for the caucus to be kept out of the room. It’s deeply troubling.”

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice

“Why are those who know the issues and politics around immigration best not at the negotiating table? Latino, AAPI, and African American communities would be disproportionately harmed by the policies supposedly being considered. Yes, we need a wholesale overhaul of our immigration system, yet that process should involve the full range of policy reforms and include a wider range of genuine immigration experts that reflect the diversity of the American electorate in the Senate. Unfortunately, the closed door and rushed process on display seems to be fueling why the underlying bill text is deeply problematic.”