A project of the Center for Community Change

CIR, Triggers and Touchback – Oh My!

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard a flurry of debate around the STRIVE Act- should we support it? Shouldn’t we? What does it even say? (Read what it says HERE)

For our part FIRM views STRIVE as a needed first step towards CIR that has gotten the ball rolling on the debate in Congress. We have a series of strengths and fixes for the STRIVE act, and indeed any bill proposed similar to the STRIVE act:

Top Ten Positive Reforms in the STRIVE Act:

  • Creates an earned path to citizenship, including conditional legalized status for undocumented immigrants and the ability to adjust to permanent legal status, and eventually citizenship.
  • Includes the DREAM Act and AgJOBS Bills, which provide a pathway to citizenship for students and agricultural workers.
  • Allows commonsense waivers for past penalties that would have otherwise eliminated eligibility for millions of undocumented immigrants.
  • Eliminates family backlogs and allows for the reunification of immigrant families that have been separated for years, in some cases for decades, by exempting immediate family members from existing visa quotas.
  • Incorporates worker protections into the New Worker Program, which itself provides a regulated path for migrants seeking entry into the
    United States.
  • Includes important worker and privacy protections in the proposed employer verification system.
  • Supports immigrant integration and citizenship efforts by providing resources to state and local governments and non-profit organizations.
  • Requires stronger standards for treatment of detainees and alternatives to detention in the immigration detention system.
  • Increases international cooperation with respect to regional border security and migration.
  • Improves border security accountability to local communities by creating a commission to review border security policies.

 

How could the STRIVE Act be improved? 

  • Remove the “Trigger” and ensure that implementation of the legalization and new worker program may begin within a reasonable time frame.  Slowing implementation of these programs would place millions of undocumented immigrants in limbo, needlessly adding years to the amount of time they would endure to legalize their status and begin their path to citizenship.
  • Reduce the Fees – Added up, the cost for households may make legal residency unreachable for too many struggling immigrant families already working in very low-paying jobs.
  • Remove “Touch Back”.  This provision harms the overall workability of the bill.  While addressing a certain kind of symbolism, requiring immigrants to leave the country and then return ignites real fears that immigrants may not be allowed to return with no legal recourse.
  • Remove language that may blur the line between federal immigration enforcement and local law enforcement – The language of the STRIVE unnecessarily codifies current law and could, if interpreted incorrectly, encourage local law enforcement agencies to aggressively enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Ensure Portability for New Workers – The complexity of the New Worker Program could inadvertently undermine the important principle of portability – the ability to change jobs – in the New Worker Program.
  • Reject Criminalizing Immigrants – The STRIVE Act unnecessarily creates at least two new categories of minor criminal offenses into grounds for inadmissibility and deportation.  Any comprehensive immigration reform should reform existing aggravated felony definitions and unfair laws that put immigrants at risk of detention, raids and family separation.
  • Judicial Discretion and Review – Any comprehensive immigration reform should be an opportunity to reform existing laws by ensuring that judges are able to weigh circumstances in individual cases and restoring fair access to courts.
  • Social Security – The STRIVE Act lacks a provision included in prior comprehensive immigration reform proposals that would ensure confidentiality in the use of identification numbers in order to protect hardworking immigrants from future prosecution.
  • Worker Rights & Opportunity for All Workers – Any comprehensive immigration reform must also create new opportunities for native-born workers and immigrants alike, by supporting job training programs and strengthening worker and anti-discrimination rights for all workers.
  • Preserve the DREAM Act – As written the STRIVE Act appears to inadvertently punish DREAM students by singling them out to “go to the back of the line.”

I’m aware that other advocates may not be in agreement with this list- For example, a recent NY times article spun the Trigger and Touchback provisions as middle of the road compromises that needed to be agreed upon in order to move a bi-partisan bill (Read that story HERE)- I’d love to hear what other advocates are thinking about the STRIVE Act, and what questions folks may have around the bill….. what are you thinking about STRIVE?

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