This year is shaping up as a pivotal year for immigration policy. Here’s what we at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project expect to work on this year:
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
President Obama and Congressional leaders are planning to enact a comprehensive reform of our immigration system this year. NWIRP attended a meeting with Senator Patty Murray (photo, right) last week to discuss the issue and to emphasize the importance of making a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as robust as possible. This is by far the most important development in immigration policy we anticipate in 2013.
- Continued Separation of Families:
Unfortunately, we expect that, even as our legislators will be debating how to fix our broken immigration system, ramped-up immigration enforcement and deportations will continue to unnecessarily tear apart families and cause other harm to our communities. ICE reported another record number of deportations for 2012. We anticipate that this pace will continue absent legislative action. NWIRP will continue to work to provide assistance to individuals and families impacted by deportation proceedings.
2012 was a critical year for undocumented youth who came to the United States at a young age. Last June, President Obama announced an initiative that temporarily defers deportation of DREAMers and provides them with work permits for two years. The question in 2013 will be whether Congress takes steps to remove the uncertainty of this program by providing DREAMers with a clear path to citizenship. NWIRP will continue to provide advice, education and access to undocumented youth and we will advocate for greater opportunities for these young people.
Right: Sisters Mari and Adriana received assistance with their applications.
- Stateside Waivers:
The Obama Administration recently announced a change of policy that affects some undocumented individuals in the process of obtaining a green card. A critical part of the process that had been required to be completed abroad may now be completed in the United States. While applicants may still need to leave the country to complete the process of obtaining the green card, this positive development will make it easier for some families in our community to remain together. It becomes effective in March and we anticipate working with many families to help them take advantage of this new process. At the same time, we recognize that this is a barrier in our immigration system that should not exist in the first place. We will advocate for changes that will achieve family unification more broadly.
- Advocating for Pro-Immigrant Policies:
Even as the debate about the future of our immigration system heats up at the federal level, we already are seeing new legislative proposals affecting immigrant communities at the state and local levels. Some proposals will attempt to counter the worst effects of the current “enforcement-only” approach to immigration by the federal government. Others will pursue misguided policies that will ultimately do nothing but divide communities and families. NWIRP will continue to monitor both positive and negative efforts and will update you on changes.
2013 will be a busy year – You can help. Here are five things you can do to support immigrant rights.
Thank you and all the best in 2013.
Jorge L. Barón
NWIRP Executive Director
If you're interested in reading about some of our work and the issues from NWIRP's earlier days, click here for an overview of ten years of NWIRP newsletters, which include abstracts and summaries of articles from 1993-2003.