SAN JUAN, July 15 - La Unión del Pueblo Entero, which represents 7,000 colonia and low-income families in the Rio Grande Valley, has written to President Obama with recommendations on how to fix the nation’s broken immigration laws.
Among other things, the group wants the President to use executive action to expand the deferred action he took for DREAMers to include various groups of undocumented immigrants.
The letter is signed by Juanita Valdez-Cox. In it, LUPE’s director writes: “Through record deportations, police-ICE collaboration, increased detention and more Border Patrol presence, our communities have been ravished by your administration's deportation machine. For that reason, we call on you to reverse course on deportation and criminalization, and to implement executive action that brings genuine relief to our families.”
LUPE has made its recommendations based on feedback it got from its members in various house meetings and at its biannual Cumbre de Colonias in April. The group wants the President to act using his executive action authority because it seems as though another year will go by without meaningful immigration reform by Congress. Obama said last month that he would go it alone on immigration reform if Congress does not act.
John-Michael Torres, a spokesman for LUPE, said the group has asked for the assistance of Congressman Filemon Vela in delivering its letter to President Obama, along with copies to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Johnson, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Muñoz.
“We want to make sure the letter reaches their hands and that we receive a response as their schedules permit,” Torres said.
Here is the letter in full:
July 14, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Your decision to use executive power in the wake of congressional intransigence on immigration reform is the glimmer of light, the faint glow of hope on the horizon that our community has searched for. We hope that you will take decisive action to alleviate the suffering in our communities. We are ready to work with the administration so that as many of our community members as possible can benefit from the administrative relief you authorize.
We recognize, however, that this administration, with no obligation from Congress, has caused much of the suffering experienced in our communities. Through record deportations, police-ICE collaboration, increased detention and more Border Patrol presence, our communities have been ravished by your administration's deportation machine. For that reason, we call on you to reverse course on deportation and criminalization, and to implement executive action that brings genuine relief to our families.
To that end, we have created a series of recommendations that we hope you will implement. We do not presume to represent the needs of all of the 11 million undocumented Americans. However, these recommendations, if enacted, will benefit the immigrant and mixed status families of the Rio Grande Valley and will go a long way toward lifting the blanket of despair that this administration has placed on immigrant communities throughout the nation.
1. Administrative Relief through a Deferred Action program should be expanded to undocumented immigrants who are part of but not limited to the following groups of immigrants: Parents of DACA eligible youth, parents of U.S. citizen children, agricultural workers, low-skilled workers, and those who were not able to qualify for DACA but have at least completed a bachelor's degree.
a. This will allow many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants to have a sense of security for their families by being able to provide a steady income.
b. The psychological and mental distress that mixed status families face every day because of the fear of deportation would be alleviated.
c. All those students who aged out of the DACA program and those who did not qualify because of extenuating circumstances would enjoy the benefits of DACA.
d. On a case-by-case basis, USCIS should consider the circumstances that might affect eligibility requirement for those potential applicants who live in border towns.
2. Humanitarian Parole for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens
a. Family Unification is something that will ease the struggle of those separated by deportation.
b. U.S. Citizens should not be denied access to their immediate family members, as they are the "natural and fundamental group unit of society"
3. Elimination of 287(g) and Secure Communities programs
a. Local law enforcement should not enforce immigration law.
b. This will eliminate unjustified deportations without proper due process.
c. It will also stop criminalizing undocumented immigrants for pursuing the so called "American Dream."
4. Temporary Protected Status for the current influx of immigrant children and their families who are entering our country from Central America and Mexico
a. Ensure that unaccompanied minors and families fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America receive the international protection they need.
b. Allow them to work, pay taxes and receive protection from deportation.
c. Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney, and must never be subjected to expedited removal.
Our community welcomed the DACA program with great appreciation, even though it left out millions of deserving immigrant families. We have endured interminable delays and outright denial of Congressional action, and our patience is at an end. We anxiously await your announcement and hope that it truly brings the relief our community needs. We cannot support more criminalization and deportation, and call on you to take decisive action to relieve the suffering of millions of immigrants.
On behalf of our 7,000 members in the Rio Grande Valley
La Union del Pueblo Entero
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Attorney General Eric Holder
Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Muñoz