1. Update
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Looking Forward to the New Congress: Immigration Priorities

By Gabriela Viera, January 8, 2019

On January 3, the 116th Congress was sworn into office. A new congress means new opportunities for advocacy. Here’s a look at what our Immigration and Refugee Policy team will focus on this year.

FCNL will call on Congress to meet our nation’s moral and legal obligations to care for and protect our neighbors in need. As legislators begin to propose policies, we hope to shape and push forward a values-based immigration system in three ways.

1. Reduced Funding for Deportation, Detention, and Border Militarization

Cruel enforcement policies are fiscally and morally irresponsible. Our government spends around $20 billion annually on the machinery of immigration enforcement, including border construction, agents, deportations, and detention centers. Congress has the power to defund programs that tear families apart and erode legal protections for vulnerable migrant populations. When it comes time to determine funding levels for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees a majority of our immigration enforcement system, we will urge Congress to pass an appropriations bill that limits and reduces enforcement spending and focuses on true reform.

2. Reform Immigrant Detention to Limit its Use and Improve Standards

The daily number of beds in immigrant detention has reached 45,000, an unprecedented level. The systemic abuse within this network of incarceration takes a proven physical and psychological toll on all migrants forced into it, including the extremely vulnerable like families, pregnant women, and traumatized asylum seekers.

Upon its introduction, we will work to garner greater support for last year’s Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act (H.R. 3923 in the 115th Congress) that would improve existing detention conditions, increase oversight, end profit incentives, and prioritize community-based alternatives.

Background The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act: Bill Analysis 

FCNL’s immigration advocacy prioritizes reforming immigrant detention in order to limit its use and improve existing conditions. Here is a look at how the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act addresses our concerns. FCNL urges its passage.

3. A Pathway to Citizenship for DACA, TPS, and DED Recipients

We are advocating for a single bill that will restore protections and offer a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. The administration placed more than 1 million people in danger of deportation when it ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and TPS programs without any alternate solutions. Most recipients have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and have become integral parts of our communities. A bill that pairs the protections outlined in past policies like the Dream Act (S. 1615/H.R. 3440) and the American Promise Act (H.R. 4253) would provide the most workable pathway to citizenship for the greatest number of Dreamers and TPS recipients.

Your advocacy - and the work of advocates across the nation - will help us build toward these goals for our immigration system. We look forward to fostering a faithful partnership with members of the 116th Congress to continue our work to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of all immigrants, refugees, and migrants.

Event Spring Lobby Weekend  

Save the Date: March 20-23, 2021

At Spring Lobby Weekend 2020, hundreds of students, recent grads, Quakers, and young adults gather to learn and virtually lobby Congress.

Update Your Stories Help Humanize the Immigration Debate 

Thank you to each advocate who wrote about how the Administration’s proposed public charge rule would affect our communities - every comment, every story, was essential.

Gabriela Viera

  • Program Assistant, Immigration & Refugee Policy

Gabriela Viera served as the Program Assistant for Immigration and Refugee Policy for 2018-2019.