On November 19th the U.S House of Representatives voted to pass the Build Back Better package including a temporary parole-in-place program. The Build Back Better House package excluded an urgent pathway to citizenship for millions of people who call the U.S home. More than 106,000 Coloradans stand to benefit from a pathway to citizenship through this budget reconciliation process. Their fate is now in the hands of the Senate.
“You cannot detain, deport, close borders and block people from legalizing their status and then claim to be invested in immigrant rights.” Jordan García, AFSC Colorado
While parole-in-place provides temporary relief for some, the program’s limited scope excludes many more. Without permanent solutions, immigrant communities will continue to struggle with access to jobs, healthcare, transportation, and education while continuing to be vulnerable to inhumane detention, deportation, exploitation, and family separation. The measure puts the fate and future of millions of people in the hands of a future congress, ten years from now.
“Our message is loud and clear. We won’t accept anything less than a pathway to citizenship! We are calling on members of the Senate, especially Senator Hickenlooper and Senator Bennet, to ensure they fulfill their promises. Temporary status is not the answer to this once in a generation opportunity to fulfill the promise of citizenship. The Vice President, President, and Senators must exercise their leadership and ensure our communities have permanent solutions in the form of a pathway to citizenship through registry,” stated Cristina López, member leader with Colorado Peoples Alliance.
Christina Zaldivar, member leader with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) agrees, “Parole is not what was promised. Our communities trusted our representatives in the House of Representatives to be champions and deliver permanent protections for our undocumented community members and their families. Their unwillingness to deliver is a stark reminder of decades of restrictive and exclusionary policies led by both parties.”
Current immigration law contains a provision called “registry” that allows certain immigrants who are long-term residents of the United States and who are undocumented or under a temporary immigration status to “register” for Lawful Permanent Resident status. The last time the registry date was updated was in 1986, for certain immigrants who arrived prior to January 1, 1972. The current provisions are a temporary program known as parole-in-place. While it can provide some protection for some immigrants until 2031, it remains a temporary program that excludes many. Missing from the bill is any form of permanent solutions for immigrants.
“The U.S economy has been strengthened and kept afloat by countless undocumented community members in difficult times and in prosperity. This nation relies on the 75% of undocumented immigrants in the labor force classified as essential to keep our towns and cities going. A pathway to citizenship will bring justice and stability to them and all those who are part of the fabric of this country. The Senate must follow precedent and disregard the advice of the Parliamentarian, a former prosecutor for ICE, on the issue of registry,” added Lizeth Chacon, Executive Director of Colorado People’s Alliance.
“Our elected officials have an obligation to do right by the will of the people and deliver a pathway to citizenship to provide permanent protections. The Biden-Harris’ administration, despite claiming to champion immigrant communities, continues to build a legacy of harm they must repair immediately. We see that harm in our own backyard as community members suffer unnecessarily in detention while lining the pockets of the GEO corporation right here in Aurora, Colorado. You cannot detain, deport, close borders and block people from legalizing their status and then claim to be invested in immigrant rights,” said Jordan Garcia, Program Director, of AFSC Colorado.
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