National Immigrant Justice Center celebrates introduction of bill to ease injustice of discriminatory laws which have criminalized immigrants, separated families
Washington, D.C. - The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) applauds today’s introduction of the New Way Forward Act by Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Ayanna Pressley (MA-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Karen Bass (CA-37). Reps. Garcia and Pressley presented the bill in a press conference alongside co-sponsoring Reps.Judy Chu (CA-27), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) and Sylvia García (TX-29).
The New Way Forward Act would roll back harmful immigration laws that have led to racial profiling and disproportionately resulted in the incarceration, deportation, and destruction of families of color and immigrant communities.
At the press conference, NIJC client Alejandra Cano, a single mother of two who came to the United States with her own parents as a toddler, spoke about her road to recovery from addiction, how she has dedicated her life to helping other people along the same road, and the impact her detention would have on her family if she is taken into custody under punitive mandatory detention laws. Ms. Cano is scheduled for a check-in appointment on December 19 at the Chicago office of Customs and Border Protection where she faces possible detention.
“I am here today, with my check-in appointment a week away, to ask that Congress support the New Way Forward Act,” Ms. Cano said. “I believe families shouldn’t be separated by detention or deportation for life choices where the debt to society and ourselves has been paid.”
Ms. Cano’s story shows the need for a new approach to immigration law that advances racial justice and due process. The New Way Forward Act creates a new vision by limiting deportation for convictions that result from enforcement that disproportionately targets communities of color, allowing immigration judges to consider a person’s individual circumstances during deportation proceedings, and allowing more people to remain with their families and move forward with their lives without fear that an old conviction could lead to deportation.
“For decades, immigration lawyers at the National Immigrant Justice Center have witnessed how the U.S. immigration system’s obsession with incarceration and punishment puts lives in danger, breaks up families and communities, and violates basic norms of due process that should be the foundation of our justice system,” said NIJC Director of Policy Heidi Altman,. “We are grateful to community members across the country and all of the members of Congress who are working to correct these wrongs. Today’s introduction of the New Way Forward Act is an important step toward creating a more just immigration system.”
The New Way Forward Act would also reduce mass incarceration by ending mandatory detention and banning for-profit immigration jails and by ending federal prison sentences for people who cross the border seeking freedom, safety, opportunity, or to reunite with their families. The legislation would further strengthen fairness by allowing independent federal judges to review certain decisions of immigration judges that immigration laws passed in 1996 unfairly tried to remove from judicial oversight.
Additional key provisions include those ending the harmful practice of allowing local police to assist ICE with deportations, and allowing people previously ordered deported under unjust laws to come home.
NIJC is proud to join formerly incarcerated community members and dozens of immigrant rights organizations from across the country who have endorsed the bill.
Follow the hashtag #NewWayForward to support the New Way Forward Act and stay updated on the bill’s progress.