Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now

(5 min read) - Immigration reform concerns us all. Undocumented workers make up 3.4% of the population. A 2016 study by economists Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega estimated that their removal would result in an annual loss of $434 billion to our economy. The businesses that exploit this workforce pay less in wages while pushing health care, education, and other costs to the rest of us.

The existing laws written by anti-immigrant politicians allow those that profit to get away with it. Meanwhile, these same politicians direct racist outrage at poor migrants with the help of many religious and media influencers. Some businesses are even profiting from the imprisonment of the undocumented after they lobbied congress to increase deportations. The consequences of this corruption to migrant communities is terrible, so it’s important to pause and consider the human toll.

Adriana Cerrillo, a lead organizer in the CIR Now campaign, knows one such story intimately. In 2006 she met a young mother of 2 who was gravely ill. Her farm work did not leave her with enough to afford treatment. As a young Dreamer (a person brought to the US as a child) Adriana helped organize media attention and a community fundraiser to help her obtain the treatment she needed. Over and over Adriana has come across terrible situations like this where people suffer needlessly. There is a politic that benefits from this and it’s important to get real about the problem we face.

The racist hypocrisy against reform includes anti-immigrant politics that:

  1. Favors de facto amnesty for corporations that profit, while being outraged about a pathway to citizenship for migrants;
  2. Incentivizes corporate profiteering with lax law enforcement, defunding of corporate enforcement, and light punishment for profiteers;
  3. Ignores how little all the increased funding for ICE and Border Patrol since 1995 has done to significantly decrease migration but is outraged by US foreign aid to address root causes of migration.

Thankfully, despite racist media and politicians, polling regarding the #11million finds:

  • 68% - Pathway to citizenship proposals remain supported
  • 73% - “their own United States Senator should vote for these citizenship proposals”
  • When we introduce the following proposal to voters, President Biden’s approval rating on the border moves dramatically from the negative ratings mentioned earlier (35% approve/54% disapprove) into a positive position (52% approve/42% disapprove).                        
    “President Biden says that what is happening at the border is a serious problem that is a direct result of a broken immigration system that has been ignored for too long. That's why Biden is acting decisively to put solutions in place to address the problem. Biden is working to safely and securely manage the southern border with new investments in technology and infrastructure, while also addressing the root causes of migration and building capacity to process migrants and children in a humane way that reflects American values. President Biden is focused on solutions and moving forward quickly with policies that can ensure both order and justice at our border.”

Source: Global Strategy Group, Hart Research, and BSP Research June 24

Unfortunately, public option about more undocumented migration is negative:

  • 67% - “support turning illegal immigrants back to Mexico.”
  • 64% - “Support Stricter Border Policies”
  • 52% - Approve. “Biden on Immigration”

Source: Harvard/Harris June 15-17

Although further undocumented migration polls negative, polling clearly favors those already here. So why has immigration reform failed to pass? The greatest challenge is insufficient institutional and strategic focus on winning a congressional majority for immigration reform. There are groups that do good work. For example, the Black community does a great job in this. Black organizing produces a 90%+ vote against anti-immigrant politicians. Unfortunately, other demographics need to close the gap.

We all know from working with groups that a change in direction requires we obtain support of a clear majority of decision makers. To pass immigration reform we need to organize agreement, or failing that, election of a clear majority to congress in support. It does not matter if it is a major sale, a church building renovation, or a union contract proposal; if you fail to build this majority agreement among decision makers your proposal will likely fail. Great change does not happen without a 60 Senate majority.

We need a movement of organizers dedicated to helping migrant communities win this support. We must elect congressional majorities needed to pass #CIR. After the election, we need to punish members of Congress who oppose reform until they are polling to lose the next election or many times they won't move. And we need organizers committed to doing the related essential community organizing. To mobilize a large majority of voters to support us, we need allies, so we also need to support them in their needs as we want their support for immigration reform. Our campaign is dedicated to electing a majority for what the largest non-regressive coalition of voters agreed to in 2020; the Platform for Progress.