June 20, 2018
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 120 additional undersigned civil and immigrants’ rights organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (the “Ryan bill”) and H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act (the “Goodlatte bill”).
Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a change in policy that is wreaking havoc on thousands of vulnerable, young children. Let us be clear about who is causing this cruelty: It is President Trump. He made this decision, and as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.) has said, “he could stop this policy with a phone call.”
Republican leadership in Congress is now allowing the president to use thousands of children being separated from their parents and hundreds of thousands of Dreamers as hostages to demand sweeping changes to our immigration laws.
Both of the Republican bills that will receive a vote this week are nothing short of shameful. Each of them represents a terrible trade-off that would penalize legal immigrants and asylum seekers, continue separating families, drive fear into our communities, waste resources, and erode due process.
The Ryan bill has been marketed as a “compromise,” but nothing could be further from the truth. It is based on the White House immigration framework that only garnered 39 votes in the Senate earlier this year, but in many respects, it is even more radical. For example:
- Its proposal to help Dreamers is worse than the White House framework, as it would tie the fate of Dreamers to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending on border security, and it would subject them to an untested and convoluted points system that would exclude many of them from gaining citizenship.
- It would provide $23 billion for an unnecessary, wasteful border wall and militarization of the southern border region.
- It would authorize over 50,000 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents without any meaningful oversight mechanisms.
- It would make it easier for DHS to deport children more quickly, including to some of the most dangerous countries on earth.
- It would allow the government to hold children in jail for even longer periods of time while their fate is being determined.
- It would make it harder for asylum seekers to escape persecution and violence by increasing the standard of proof, likely cutting the number of admissions in half.
- It would eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which ensures that immigrants from all countries have a fair chance to enter and to contribute to our nation.
- It would eliminate entire categories of family-based visas, preventing married adult children and siblings of American citizens from reuniting with their loved ones, even though they have been willing to wait in line for years or even decades.
- It would allow immigration officials to classify young people as gang members with little to no evidence.
- It would ramp up pressure on local governments to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, ignoring constitutional prohibitions on detaining individuals without bench warrants.
- It would expand grounds of deportation that have been used to detain and remove legal residents, in some cases decades after they have paid for minor mistakes, and with no opportunity for them to show they or their families deserve a second chance.
The Goodlatte bill is even more extreme, in part because it would leave Dreamers with no path to citizenship. It would also impose a mandatory, flawed E-Verify system that would shut many citizens out of work and burden their employers, and it would expand exploitative guestworker programs. In addition, it would make drastic cuts to legal immigration and expand interior enforcement.
Contrary to what some proponents of the Ryan and Goodlatte proposals have claimed, neither bill would end the inhumane treatment of children at the Southern border. This is because neither bill would bring an end to the administration’s recent policy decision that has intentionally caused trauma to children. The administration has ended humane, effective, and cost-efficient policies that provide alternatives to detention. Neither bill would restore them.
Separating children from their parents traumatizes families and undermines our country’s once honored commitment to ensuring fairness and protection for those fleeing persecution. Family separation disgraces America’s founding principles. And it won’t stand if you and your colleagues demand the president reverse his cruel policy.
Any member of Congress who claims to support young immigrants – Dreamers as well as children fleeing persecution – must oppose both the Ryan and the Goodlatte bills.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
9to5, National Association of Working Women
- Philip Randolph Institute
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Alliance for Justice
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of School Administrators
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Library Association
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Andrew Goodman Foundation
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Center for Community Change Action
Center for Community Self-Help
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Popular Democracy
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Crescent City Media Group
Defending Rights & Dissent
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Disability Rights International
Education Law Center – PA
Equal Justice Society
Equal Rights Advocates
Faith in Public Life
Family Equality Council
Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Watch
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Japanese American Citizens League
Joint Action Committee
Justice in Aging
Juvenile Law Center
Legal Aid at Work
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Muslim Alliance in North America
Muslim Public Affairs Council
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center for Youth Law
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Federation of Business and Professional Womens Clubs-NYC (NFBPWC-NYC)
National Health Law Program
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National LGBTQ Task Force Action fund
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Urban League
National Women’s Law Center
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Rock the Vote
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
School Social Work Association of America
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
SIKH AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND (SALDEF)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Bar Association North America
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Advocacy Institute
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
The Workmen’s Circle
UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)
Union for Reform Judaism
United States International Council on Disabilities
Voices for Progress
World Without Genocide