Juntos families, leaders, and community members have fought an incredible fight these past few months for just and humane immigration reform. We could not be prouder of our leaders who have been out on the front lines demanding we have reform that includes; a pathway to citizenship for all the 11 million undocumented people living in this country, a realistic and affordable process for our working families, educational access and opportunities for our young people and one that stops the inhumane and unjust deportation of our loved ones.
Just last year Juntos also led a courageous campaign entitled “The Hate Stops Here” pushing back on over 20 anti-immigrant bills in the state of Pennsylvania. Over 500 people and 20 organizations & unions came with us to Harrisburg and chanted “Si se Puede!” in support of our human rights. So it breaks our hearts to see that what passed through the Senate yesterday bears a striking resemblance to some of the very same anti-immigrant bills we were fighting against last year (E-verify, we see you!)
The reality is that this current immigration reform bill WILL NOT be inclusive of our 11 million brother and sisters. Many of our loved ones will not qualify due to strict guidelines and those that do will need to make it through 10 years of probationary status before they can access a green card. If an individual in probationary status earns below the federal poverty line or has been unemployed for more than two months he or she will lose their status. This is of grave concern for our community as many of our families struggle to make ends meet and already endure many labor abuses in order to do so. What about our family members who are senior citizens, students, mothers who need to stay home with their children, the disabled, our domestic workers or day laborers? These types of guidelines will leave many people even more vulnerable as they try to remain in probationary status through conditions that are out of their control.
Add to all of this the $46 billion being proposed on more enforcement at the Mexico-US Border. This type of spending would allow for more agents to be at the border than troops in Afghanistan, making the Mexico-US border the one of the most militarized borders in the world. All of this at a time when we are closing public schools across this nation at record speed and slashing education budgets so deep we are leaving our children without art, music, language supports, and far less teachers. Wouldn’t that $46 billion be better spent on our schools and in our youth.
As this bill enters into the House of Representative we hope that our President can see the need to support immigration reform that puts our families first, prioritizes our human right and ends the dangerous quota system that breaks apart 1,100 families a day. Juntos leaders will continue to fight for what is right with the same courage we always have and we can only hope that those in power will find the courage to do the same.