Young People Demand Forward Movement on Immigration

During the Trump Administration, young people watched in horror and sorrow as ICE and Border Patrol deepened their reign of terror over immigrants and refugees living in or trying to enter our country. Tens of thousands of young people protested children being held in cages and the end of DACA. Immigrant young people were at risk not just from the law but from rampant, dangerous anti-immigrant sentiment exacerbated by racist propaganda from the highest levels of government. 

When President Biden was elected, and Democrats gained majorities in the House and Senate, we held hope that there would be a return to common sense and compassion in immigration policy. 

But over the last week, we have seen several troubling developments. President Biden directly addressed immigrants, saying “Don’t come over.”  Four thousand young people are being held in detention centers at the border. Republican lawmakers have had the audacity to paint teen migrants as a COVID-19 risk (after themselves undermining every attempt to fight the pandemic).  And just today, there are reports that the President is pressuring Mexico to help curb immigration to the U.S. 

Justice for immigrants is crucial to the work of Advocates for Youth. All young people have the right to lead healthy lives and the right to safe and supportive environments. No young person should be held in a cage and treated as an enemy of the state. And a young person who fears deportation can’t get the health care, education,and resources they need. Young people are working toward a better and more equitable world, and securing rights and opportunities for migrants is a key part of that vision.

 Congress has passed the American Dream & Promise Act, legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 3 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) holders, other eligible immigrant youth and temporary protected status (TPS) holders. They also passed the  Farm Workforce Modernization Act which would provide a path for agricultural workers and their families to earn legal status while working in the U.S. 

We need the Senate to pass these bills and for them to become law. More than that, we need to turn away from public dialogue that treats immigrants as a threat. All people have the right to seek safety and to work towards a life in which they and their families thrive.  Migrants deserve to live in our country with dignity and respect. Young people will not stand for racist and hate-filled dialogue that shames and scapegoats immigrants working to make a life for themselves in this country.