The still-broken US immigration system continues to affect cities, towns, and communities across the country.
Despite the absence of progress by federal lawmakers – and perhaps in spite of this absence –debate and discussion about the chances for successful reform have not waned. The broad coalitions working to advance practicable solutions have made great strides politically. And in several important ways, like expanding in-state tuition eligibility and local protest against dangerous federal policies, they have improved the experience of living as an undocumented person in the US.
But pursuing a goal like immigration reform can be exhausting. For inspiration to forge ahead, it’s worth reflecting on the last two years and how far the country has come on immigration reform.
In 2012, a presidential candidate described his position on immigration reform as “self-deportation,” a strategy that would use policies and identification systems to make it impossible for undocumented immigrants in the US to find work and therefore drive them to leave the country. Only a year later, a bipartisan group of eight senators announced their intention to unveil a comprehensive immigration package, one that NCJW supported: S 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.
This senate bill would provide a path to earned citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US, as well as overhaul the visa, employment verification, and border security systems. Although not perfect, it was a good start to addressing a long-overlooked problem.