Bolder Advocacy

Immigrant Groups React to Proposals with Cautious Hope

The Senate may have a blueprint for bipartisan agreement, but what will the fractious House do and say? Many of us who have been waiting impatiently for Congress and the President to act on immigration reform are glad to see some movement, but are holding back our enthusiasm until we know more details.

Credit: Wolsdorf Immigration Group

Credit: Wolfsdorf Immigration Group

Reactions from immigrant rights groups varied, from cautious praise to criticism over the emphasis on border security and enforcement. The Asian Law Caucus called the proposal “troubling.” Wei Lee, a member of ASPIRE, the first undocumented Asian American immigrant youth group in the country, said in a statement:

“Keeping immigrant families together should be the central pillar of immigration reform. This basic American value is missing from the debate. We can and need to do better.”

Other groups expressed a sentiment of skeptical hope, as reflected in this Nonprofit Quarterly article by Erwin de Leon:

“Today’s announcement is a giant step forward for immigrant communities, and we welcome it with an open mind and look forward to working with our Senate leaders,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states, released a statement saying they “are particularly encouraged” by the framework since “some Senate Republicans have embraced the concept of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the principle announced today.”

De Leon’s article cites advocates’ criticism of the proposal’s focus on more enforcement and disappointment that fair treatment of LGBT families wasn’t addressed. While President Obama didn’t address it in his speech, The New York Times noted that The White House “is also proposing that the United States treat same-sex couples the same as other families, meaning that people would be able to use their relationship as a basis to obtain a visa.”

Nonprofits concerned about immigration policy and immigrant rights — like those cited in this article — can and should comment on legislative proposals; some of this may count as lobbying, which is perfectly legal. This is the time when lawmakers need to hear what communities have to say about this issue.