December 22, 2022
Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), a national collaborative of grassroots immigrant community organizations, is disappointed by the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress failure to deliver a visionary spending bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, immigrant youth, farmworkers and other essential workers. Instead, it proposes to uphold the Trump era enforcement-centered approach to immigration and border policy by increasing funding for border enforcement, sustaining spending for detention and omitting any protections for our communities including failure to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA). As a coalition of organizations that represent TPS holders and former TPS holders, we believe this was another fumble by Democrats to finally establish permanent status and protections despite running on these promises in their campaigns. We strongly encourage you to VOTE NO on the omnibus bill and return with one that fulfills your campaign promises of building a dignified and humane immigration system that provides pathways to green cards and citizenship for our communities.
- Billions of dollars of funding for ICE and CBP: Although advocacy groups such as UndocuBlack Network and our Defund Hate partners urged lawmakers to cut funding to ICE and CBP, the current bill increased ICE and CBP’s funding from $8.3 billion in FY22 to $8.4 billion in FY23.
- Maintaining the status quo of the Anti-Black immigration detention system: The FY23 omnibus will continue the same funding amount ICE has received to cage immigrants since FY21 – which allows for the detention of about 34,000 people. Under this spending bill, Black migrants will continue to languish in immigration detention far longer than their non-Black counterparts, and have higher bond amounts for release.
- Targeting of People with Visa Overstays: Visa Overstays. The current bill requires DHS to submit an updated report outlining its strategy for overstay enforcement and deterrence no later than 180 days after the date of passage of the bill. The bill further requires DHS to detail ongoing actions to identify immigrants who have overstayed their visas/track overstays for enforcement action. If passed this provision stands to put thousands of people at risk of deportation, many who are Black immigrants.
- Funding for hiring more Border Patrol agents/surveillance: A year after the infamous Del Rio images of Border Patrol agents seemingly whipping Black migrants, the spending bill provides funding for 19,855 Border Patrol agents. The bill also increases funding for surveillance border technology such as data sharing systems, which will inevitably infringe on border communities and migrants rights to privacy.
- A Deliberate Omission of Life Saving Immigration provisions: The current text for the omnibus does not include any provision that would provide green cards and a pathway to citizenship to various immigrant populations including immigrant youth and TPS holders.
- Failure to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act: Refugees evacuated from Afghanistan a year and a half ago continue to live in legal limbo with no clear pathway to permanent residency when their humanitarian parole status expires in the coming months.
Patrice Lawrence, Executive Director of UndocuBlack Network said “Over the years and in fact in recent weeks we have seen many members of Congress reaffirming their position as champions of immigrants. Anyone who has the interest of immigrants, all immigrants regardless of skin color, creed, national origin or gender must reject this omnibus package. There is nothing that provides certainty for Undocumented people at a time when the stakes are at an all time high. There are no protections but instead countless repercussions and plans to investigate and criminalize immigrants such as visa overstays, detained asylum seekers or round up and terrorize immigrants with long lasting ties in the United States. This bill harms immigrant communities and must not pass. We demand green cards for so many of us who have no other pathway to permanent status and seek the elegant, simple option of updating the registry date so that we may autonomously adjust immigration status and access resources, certainty and a fuller life.”
Rima Meroueh, Director for the National Network for Arab American Communities said, “This omnibus package is a failure in both commission and omission. It commits funding to the administrative management of the immigration system without guidance that would eliminate the harms it causes to immigrant communities, one of which is the omission of any language providing a pathway to citizenship through integration between the administrative systems of immigration and workforce development. Policy integration at this level is feasible and beneficial. It would stabilize the immigration system, expand services to immigrants, and provide for greater social cohesion between immigrants and the communities in which they live.”
Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance said, “The Haitian Bridge Alliance is concerned with the Omnibus bill for the Fiscal Year 2023. Whereas the bill proposes that funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention remain the same, we believe ICE detention funding should decrease, as it disproportionately criminalizes and harms Black migrants. We also object to increases in ICE and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)’s funding from $8.3 billion in FY22 to $8.4 billion in FY23. More remarkably, following the abuse and mistreatment of Haitian migrants by CBP agents last September in Del Rio, Texas, some of this increased funding would create pathways for CBP, an agency with a long history of racism and no oversight nor accountability, to hire 19,855 more Border Patrol agents. We urge all members of Congress to vote ‘no’ on this bill, as it would further hurt the immigrant community, which is the backbone of this country.”
Diana Konate, Policy Director of African Communities Together said, “ACT is extremely disappointed that Congress has shown no interest in supporting immigrant families. The omnibus cruelly provides no permanent protection for our most vulnerable immigrant communities, including TPS holders and DACA recipients, while funneling billions of dollars to CBP and ICE. It also makes no allowances for the thousands of diversity visa winners whose chance of migrating to the U.S. was blocked by the Trump administration. And most alarming, is the inclusion of overstay language. Despite the low number of overstays from African countries relative to other countries, overstay enforcement is often used as a pretext for creating barriers or outright excluding Africans from obtaining visas or participating in certain programs. Congress can and must do better.”
“This was an opportunity for President Biden and Congress to fulfill their campaign promises of providing pathways to citizenship for our community members – many who live with uncertainty and have been on temporary status for decades. A life lived in 18 month increments is not justice or acceptable. As an organization that represents Domestic workers, Nail Salon workers, Home care workers, Restaurant workers, Delivery workers, Gig workers (Uber and Lyft drivers), all of whom kept our communities safe at the height of the pandemic – our communities deserve better and they cannot continue to live in fear of being separated from loved ones, and we demand to provide pathway to citizenship during your tenure,” said Megha Lama, Senior Immigration Organizer at Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice.
Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) is a collaborative of grassroots immigrant community organizations working together to win permanent status for our members and communities, and build a more inclusive immigrant rights movement that centers the needs and experiences of African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, Arab/Middle Eastern, and Asian immigrants. The organizations a part of CUSP are: African Communities Together (ACT), Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice, Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), and UndocuBlack Network (UBN).