Fair Immigration Reform Movement
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of grassroots organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal level.
We are led by a group of 44 organizations from across 32 states around the country committed to immigrant rights.
History and Mission
Since 2000, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) has been the meeting place and united voice of the dynamic grassroots movement advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and the civil rights of immigrants in America.
FIRM is a project of the Center for Community Change, a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income people and people of color. FIRM is led by its member organizations and brings leaders together across lines of race, issues and geography to multiply their power. FIRM is dedicated to organizing and building grassroots power and leadership.
The hundreds of organizations involved in FIRM come from every state in the nation and have deep roots in their local communities. In 2006, these groups were the cornerstone of the people-led movement that derailed the inhumane and unworkable immigration laws pushed by Congressional leaders.
In 2007 and beyond, FIRM organizations will lead the push towards a humane and comprehensive immigration reform package that lives up to the best American values and which honors America’s rich history as a nation of immigrants.
FIRM is deeply committed to long-term social change. Every day, FIRM organizations feel the crushing impact that America’s broken immigration system has on immigrant families. And every day, FIRM leaders personify and project the uplifting spirit of hope found in immigrant communities from New York to Kansas City to Los Angeles.
FIRM leaders understand that changing the law is only one piece of our collective mission. FIRM organizations are dedicated to:
- Help local immigrant rights organizations to become increasingly powerful voices for their communities.
- Support and organize youth leadership in our communities to give the next generation of immigrant community leaders a collective national voice.
- Facilitate cross-cultural alliance building among America’s diverse immigrant communities and native-born low-income and people of color communities.
- Contribute to our democracy through deep political education and increases in the number of immigrants who achieve legal status and who become citizens and voters.
- Provide tools, information and strategic assistance to local organizations to make positive policy changes at the local, state and national levels.
- Create opportunities for immigrant community leaders from around the nation to learn from one another, help each other overcome obstacles and aggregate their collective power.
Statement of Immigration Policy Principles
America is a nation of immigrant families. This reality is more than merely a product of our undeniable historical roots. The welcoming spirit of this nation is deeply rooted in the values of family, equality and opportunity. While Americans clearly espouse these values the levers of policy in this nation are too often controlled or influenced by a small and virulent minority who are anti-family, anti-equality and who would oppose opportunity for others based on their culture, skin color or national origin. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) believes that immigration reform that works for our families and the nation MUST:
Provide a Path to Citizenship for ALL Members of Our Communities
Immigrants bring prosperity to this country, yet many are kept in legal limbo despite their deep roots and contributions. Creating a path to citizenship for undocumented members of our communities is a crucial component of successful immigration reform and would benefit immigrants and their families and the U.S.-born by, among other effects, raising the floor for all workers and providing all with equal labor protections. In addition, citizenship for the current undocumented would result in dramatic economic benefits for the entire country.
Address The Root Causes of Migration
Our immigration policy needs to be consistent with reality. Most people leave their homes to avoid violent conflict, natural disasters, or economic distress due in part to U.S. trade policies. Such realities prompt individuals to come to the U.S. in search of safety and a better life. We believe comprehensive immigration reform should include measures that will allow the U.S. to help countries to address the economic, trade, social, and security factors driving high rates of migration. Such proposals should target funding for rural development, youth employment, and for supporting programs that make credit and financing opportunities available, especially to vulnerable populations.
Reunite ALL Families and Reduce Immigration Backlogs
The separation of families is not only morally unacceptable, immigration reform cannot be successful until we synchronize public policy with one of the main factors driving migration: family unity for all families, including LGBT families. Currently, families are divided by visa waiting periods and processing delays that can last decades. Immigration reform must strengthen the family immigration system and keep families together by increasing the number of visas available both overall and within each family category.
Provide Opportunities for Safe Future Migration and Maintaining Worker Protections
We need a “break-the-mold” program that creates a legal and safe alternative for migrants, facilitate and enforce equal rights for all workers, and minimize the opportunities for abuse by unscrupulous employers and others.
Establish Border Policy that Protects Border Communities
We need greater accountability for law enforcement officials responsible for policing our nation’s borders. Since January 2010, at least 39 people have died as the result of an encounter with immigration enforcement officials. It’s time to have a rational conversation about what border security really means. It doesn’t mean Congress should continue to line the pockets of corporations by spending taxpayer dollars on unnecessary military equipment like helicopters, drones, and surveillance devices along the southern border. Even with the recent influx of children and their parents fleeing violence in parts of Central America, border crossings remain at historic lows. Immigration reform must address the true needs of our nation’s border security by preventing further violence by immigration enforcement agents and putting an end to wasteful government spending on the militarization of border communities.
Respect the Safety and Security of All in Immigration Enforcement
Now more than ever, fair enforcement policies are key to rebuilding trust among immigrant communities and protecting the security of everyone. The increased use of immigration enforcement programs that involve local law enforcement such as the widely discredited Secure Communities program, renamed the “Priority Enforcement Program,” and 287(g), has been ineffective and harmful to immigrant communities. These programs undermine trust between local police and the communities they serve and encourage profiling by local law enforcement. Congress must reaffirm that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement officials, not local police or officials.
End The Mass Detention of Immigrants
Those in detention include families and children, asylum-seekers, and others who are merely awaiting a decision on their civil immigration case. LGBT immigrants, in particular, are often subject to rampant discrimination and abuse in the detention system. Immigrants facing deportation have no right to a government-appointed lawyer and are often held in remote detention facilities far from their loved ones under inhumane conditions. The unprecedented use of immigration detention in the U.S. is driven in large part by current laws that allow for the mandatory detention and deportation of many non-citizens, even longtime lawful permanent residents, often as a result of old or minor criminal convictions. This overreliance of detention for immigrants is part of the broader crisis stemming from the mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S. and is the result of influence by powerful corporations who reap huge profits from the detention and incarceration of people of color. Immigration reform must do its part to address these inequities by repealing mandatory detention and deportation laws and reducing unnecessary spending on the detention of immigrants.
Recognize Immigrants’ Full Humanity
Immigration reform must recognize the essential role of immigrants to the US, and the importance of providing tools and pathways for immigrants to integrate into social, economic and civil fabric of American life. Immigrants are more than just workers. Immigrants are neighbors, family members, students, members of our society, and an essential part of the future of the United States. Our immigration policies should provide immigrants with opportunities for full integration into US society, including opportunities to learn English, undertake workforce training, naturalize, lead prosperous lives, engage in cultural expression, and receive equitable access to needed services, including healthcare, higher education, and housing.
Preserve And Expand Pathways For African Immigrants
The diversity visa lottery program makes about 50,000 visas available each year to countries with low immigration rates to the United States, with about half typically going to African immigrants. We believe programs – like the diversity visa lottery – designed to ensure that immigrants from underrepresented parts of the world have an opportunity to pursue the American Dream are critical components to our nation’s immigration system and that immigration reform must include a dedicated pathway for African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants.