Op-ed: A Parallel Approach To Immigration Reform Legislation

Photo/Creative Commons/Pax Ahimsa Gethen

While we continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform for a severely broken system, it’s time to work in parallel to pass more targeted legislation to help more than a million immigrants in legal limbo as soon as possible.

More than 300 organizations — including the New York Immigration Coalition — have signed onto a letter urging the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to spearhead “clean, stand-alone legislation” to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Specifically, they collectively advocate for the passage of both the Dream Act of 2017, which provides a pathway for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, as well as the American Promise Act, which would do the same for immigrants with TPS.

“We urge you to package them together and bring them to the House floor as soon as possible after the 116th Congress convenes,” the letter says.

As record-high numbers of Americans support immigrants, now is the time to push for immigration reform once again. As indicated in a Gallup Poll earlier this year, three-quarters of Americans — including majorities from each political party — believe immigration is positive for the United States. The bills pushed in the letter are no-brainers that would easily garner the support of many Americans who understand immigrants’ vital importance to our country and empathize with their struggles.

As last year’s cycle of legislation being introduced, gaining some steam, then failing repeated itself several times, efforts to enact some kind of legislative change were consistently steamrolled or callously leveraged as a bargaining chip by lawmakers in negotiations over federal government budgeting.

Ahead of a December 7 funding deadline, President Trump is once again weaponizing the plight of immigrants to push forward his agenda by dangling the threat of a government shutdown if $5 billion for his border wall is not on the books.

Even though lower court rulings are keeping in place many of the protections afforded by DACA and TPS, the Trump White House will move swiftly to try and tear down these temporary safety nets. With the political wind in our sails since the midterms, we must not waver in our political pressure and keep up the fight.


  1. Yes!!!! Excellent Op. Ed. It is absolutely time to act.

    We also need to push the New York State legislature, now that Democrats control the Senate, to pass a law making Dreamers and undocumented students, who live in NY and graduate from NY high schools, eligible for NYS college financial aid programs— TAP and the Excelsior Scholarship. New Jersey and Connecticut now provide State financial for undocumented immigrant students. Governor Cuomo’s budget included the eligibility of undocumented NY State resident immigrant students for the Excelsior scholarship. The State State Assembly supported the inclusion of undocumented NYS resident immigrant students, but it was blocked in the Senate. It is time that NY followed the lead of its neighbors in Connecticut and New Jersey and made college financially accessible to undocumented immigrant students. Financial aid ineligibility makes it difficult for many wonderful immigrant students to afford college, although they pay in state tuition at SUNY colleges and universities.