Today Michigan United, Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., Jewish Community Relations Council, The Michigan Immigrant Rights Council & The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids joined We Are Home, a nationwide campaign that fights to transform our country’s inhumane immigration system and ensure that “we the people” truly includes everyone. In an online press conference, immigrants and their allies outlined the many ways they were harmed during the Trump administration’s War on Immigrants and called for the incoming Biden administration to take steps in its first 100 days to offer relief.
In 2021, We Are Home will focus on three primary goals, including undoing the damage done by the Trump administration’s cruel policies, building a new immigration system that is fair, humane, and functional, and creating a roadmap to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants that contribute to the United States every day. The campaign will push local and federal legislators to champion policies that create a more just and humane system for children and for families.
On MLK day of 2018, immigration agents took Jorge Garcia from his family for two years. In that time, he missed his daughter’s Quinceanera and his son’s confirmation. “Those are moments we will never be able to redo in our children’s lives,” said his wife, Cindy Garcia. Nearly two years later, thanks to the help of Rep. Debbie Dingell, Jorge was allowed to return and rejoin his family but that only begs the question, why did he have to leave in the first place? “We ask President-Elect Joe Biden and Congress to immediately reunite the families that were separated by deportation in his first 100 days,” Cindy said, calling on them to restore and expand DACA, stop deportation help unprotected asylum seekers and refugees, legislation with a pathway to citizenship. “Even though my family was reunited we need to reunite all families that were separated by deportation, brought back, and made whole the way mine was.”
While Jorge was brought by his family seeking a better life, Eloise Garley came here fleeing for her life after the civil war in Liberia had already taken the lives of her parents. “With prayers being answered in an immigration system that worked more effectively in the early 2000s, my husband was successful in going through the process to obtain political asylum,” said Garley. However, under the Trump administration, asylum and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) approvals have ground to a halt. Worse yet, asylum seekers detained by ICE in Mississippi, have been tortured to sign their own deportation orders and women held in detention by ICE in Georgia, have been subjected to non-consensual sterilization surgery. “As an asylum recipient, I am joining other families in asking President-Elect Biden to undo the harms and dehumanizations the Trump administration has brought to the asylum process,” said Garley.
It is incumbent upon President-Elect Biden to immediately address Trump’s racist policies once in office because Trump is working hard to make life harder for immigrants right up until the moment he is forced to leave office. The “Death to Asylum” rule is set to go into effect on January 11, 2021. “If implemented, it’ll mean that very few people fleeing persecution will be able to obtain refuge here in the United State. It is another step in turning the Statue of Liberty on her head,” said Grand Rapids immigration attorney, Richard Kessler. Among other things, Kessler says the new regulation will allow immigration judges to deny asylum without a hearing, barring asylum for people who have traveled through more than one country on their way to the US and restricting eligibility based on a fear under United Nations conventions against torture. “The Biden administration should immediately overturn this regulation. Implementation will lead to untold suffering for all asylum seekers,” said Kessler. “The regulation represents a death knell to the US’s long-standing commitment to providing a safe harbor to people whose lives are in danger.”
This event was part of a national effort in at least 30 cities across the country to encourage the incoming Biden-Harris administration to dismantle the egregious policies of the former administration and create an immigration system that treats immigrants as human beings and recognizes their daily contributions to our communities and the United States as a whole.