1. Action Alert
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

Welcoming Immigrants: 3 Ways for Congress to Act

April 2, 2018

Congress urgently needs to act on immigration—in the short term, to keep the current system from hurting more people and, ultimately, to rebuild that system in comprehensive and compassionate ways.

Previous presidents have used executive actions to mitigate some of the current system’s failures. President Trump has not been willing to protect immigrants and those seeking refuge in the United States. In fact, this administration is making things worse. The only way forward is for members of Congress to legislate solutions.

What Congress Can Do Now

1) Refuse to spend billions of dollars for a border wall and more immigration enforcement.

Barricading our southern border, expanding detention, and hiring more people to police immigrants are expensive exercises in futility.

Collapsing economies, political and social unrest, and the need for workers in the U.S. drive immigrants to enter this country, with or without legal papers.

Members of Congress should refuse to spend taxpayer dollars on punitive proposals that ignore the wishes of communities along the border and violate immigrants’ human and civil rights. Instead, they should focus on increasing accountability and oversight of existing enforcement.

2) Provide realistic pathways to legal status and citizenship for immigrants.

The byzantine and backlogged legal immigration system keeps families apart, strands immigrants in years of legal limbo, and forces choices between extended separation from loved ones and breaking the law. Changes to the legal immigration system would reduce the need for heightened enforcement. Most urgently, Congress needs to protect Dreamers, immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 18. President Trump ended protections for many of these young adults in late 2017, putting millions of people who have never known another home at risk of deportation. Congress should provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship.

3) Support welcoming refugees.

The Trump administration is letting in fewer refugees than previous administrations; revoking or refusing to renew Temporary Protected Status for refugees from El Salvador, Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and Syria; and refusing entry to refugees from many Muslim-majority countries entirely. An October 2017 executive order imposed onerous new data collection and application processes for refugees, making it doubtful the U.S. will even reach its historically low refugee admissions goal of 45,000 for 2018. While the president has broad leeway in taking these actions, public statements by members of Congress can help keep public attention on the issue and create opportunities for legislative action.

What You Can Do

How has immigration touched your life? Why does this issue matter to you, and what are you doing about it? When you share your story and your passion with members of Congress and candidates seeking to represent you, it makes a difference – in galvanizing their action and in setting their priorities. Your letters, calls, lobby visits, and letters to the editor can ensure that members of Congress have real, human faces and lives in the forefront of their minds when they make decisions about immigration policies.

The road to comprehensive changes starts now, with what Congress does this year. You have power to help shape that action.