3 Reforms Our Immigration System Needs Right Now

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We call on every candidate for president to commit to overhauling our immigration system by creating new paths to citizenship and dismantling the inhumane and unfair immigration and border enforcement regime, including by ending the use of detainers and reducing immigration detention by at least 75%.

Background:

1. Creating new paths to citizenship
Approximately 11 million immigrants live in the United States without legal status — 3% of all U.S. residents. Two-thirds of undocumented adults have been here for at least 10 years. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, and our family members: About 5 million U.S.-born children live with at least one parent who is undocumented, and undocumented adults make up about 4.8% of the workforce. Without bringing all of these individuals into the embrace of citizenship, we are institutionalizing a permanent underclass, primarily Latino, Asian, and Black, living and working in the U.S. but often unable or afraid to assert civil and constitutional rights. The next president must champion legislation to provide fair and achievable paths to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Dismantling the inhumane and unfair immigration and border enforcement regime

2. Ending the use of ICE detainers
An ICE detainer is a request from ICE to a state or local law enforcement agency to jail someone until the person can be taken into federal immigration custody — for up to 48 hours beyond the time that the person would otherwise be released. Detainers are the linchpin in ICE’s reliance on local police as “force multipliers” to carry out its mass deportation agenda. An end to their use would dramatically reduce deportations.

3. Reducing daily immigration detention levels by at least 75%
ICE is responsible for the largest immigration detention system in the world — a sprawling network of ICE-run facilities, private prisons, and local jails operating with little to no meaningful oversight, costing more than $8 million per day in federal taxpayer dollars. Noncitizens in detention include asylum seekers, long-time U.S. residents, and green card holders; they are jailed simply to ensure they show up for their next immigration court date. In 1997, the average daily detention population was about 12,000. Today it’s 50,000 — which is 60% higher than it was just two years ago.

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