Immigration advocates outside the federal courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard in November calling on Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to pressure Vice President Kamala Harris to ignore the parliamentarian and include a path to citizenship in the budget bill. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)
Two months after our Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Rosa Molina, called on the Biden-Harris Administration and the Senate leadership to ignore the Parliamentarian, we are in the same position with temporary immigration provisions. It’s been more than 30 years of fighting for immigration reform and once again, as we were at the cusp of pushing the registry plan through the House, the House chose to settle and move forward with the parole in place plan. Our elected officials need to show the same courage that Nevada’s immigrants have shown as they faced the pandemic without relief. They have built a life despite the fear of deportation and fought for their rights through marches and sit-ins.
Since the Parliamentarian is concerned about the budgetary impact and the Byrd rule, why don’t we talk more about how a pathway to citizenship would not only raise revenue but improve the lives of the immigrants that would be brought to the table. Many immigrant and mixed-status families have resorted to working independently as vendors to make ends meet due to the lack of relief or the period of layoffs following the pandemic. All of them have the potential to become successful, formal businesses, if immigrant families have the security and assurance that they would not be funneling resources into a business that they may or may not have in the next five years or even less. As was reported last week, immigrants are part of our communities, the vast majority have jobs and they contribute every single day in both economic and interpersonal ways without any security. Any interaction with law enforcement and everything can come crashing down, 287g or not. We already confirmed our past suspicions about the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s(LVMPD) collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) despite no records and the supposed suspension of the 287g program.
Over the past few years we’ve been actively working to get clear and accurate data from LVMPD on their practices of deportation. Our communities know that even if Sheriff Joe Lombardo ended the 287(g) program, many immigrant families were still being torn apart. During the 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions, we moved two pieces of legislation that would have allowed us to better understand the deportation machine that Metro was housing. Ultimately, both were watered down and our communities never got the truth. As an undocumented immigrant, this is incredibily frightening knowing that one simple interaction with law enforcement could cause my deportation. This is why it’s critical to pass permanent protections, not just temporary ones that sunset. Only citizenship would offer that.
I’m tired of seeing immigration used as a wedge issue during elections and given up on at the smallest hurdles. Despite having a new administration, we are still locked in the same battles of the past five years. Our community was expecting change, not more broken promises. Immigrants still have the fear of deportation hanging over our heads despite the promise of a deportation moratorium. Haitian migrants are being abused and deported en masse at the Del Rio Border Crossing with another Trump era policy. We are once again devolving back to the remain in Mexico policies that Trump so vehemently defended. Immigrants have had to continue fighting both the battle against racist, dehumanizing immigration policies and the battle for a pathway to citizenship.
Since the beginning of the budget reconciliation process, organizations like PLAN, Make the Road, the UndocuCounci and others across the nation have been fighting to secure support from senators and representatives for a pathway to citizenship. We’ve had countless lobby meetings either virtually or in-person in both Washington, D.C. and in-state. We spent a week outside of the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse holding nightly vigils to pressure Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto to publicly support the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship. Soon after, Sen. Cortez Masto joined Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) in a joint statement calling for the inclusion of the language to pass a pathway to citizenship. Sen. Cortez Masto was also quoted a few days later asking the House to keep the language to create a pathway to citizenship after it was swapped for the temporary protections that are included as of now. In addition, we’ve driven calls to their Congressional offices, marched in DC and swamped their Twitter feeds with countless mentions.
We’ll continue to say it, this is our opportunity to deliver for immigrants. It’s our time. The Senate must ignore the Parliamentarian and pass the registry plan in the reconciliation bill. We need just as much determination from our supposed allies in Congress, as immigrants give to keep this country running.
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