(NASHVILLE, TN) Presidential candidate Tom Steyer has announced his plan to reform our immigration system in a humane and comprehensive way and undo the racist policies and unconscionable acts committed by the Trump administration. Steyer’s plan will create a pathway to citizenship for the 10.5-12 million undocumented Americans who are an integral part of our society today and represent our core values as a country. Steyer is committed to overhauling enforcement agencies, immediately eliminating the use of all private detention facilities, and updating asylum policies to reflect the best of our humanity.
According to The Tennessean, there are over 322,000 foreign-born residents in the state. Many of these immigrants are of Latino and African descent. Tennessee has a reported 130,000 undocumented immigrants, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has continued to perform raids in both rural and urban parts of the state.
“Our nation was built on the back of immigrants, whether they came via a slave ship or via Ellis Island,” said Tennessee State Director Tequila Johnson. “It is our responsibility as Americans to figure out what we want as a country, not how we want to keep people out. In Tennessee we pride ourselves in being welcoming and our hospitality. Tom’s immigration plan embodies the best of these values.”
Tennessee is home to 7,790 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients as well as 3,108 foreign nationals who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The majority of both of these groups are made up of people of color, and are immigrants who continue to be systematically attacked by the Trump administration.
“Our immigration system has been plagued by racism and has reflected values dramatically different from those on which our country was founded,” said Steyer. “As president, I will begin the healing process from Trump’s cruel and unjust approach. I will make it my duty to not only undo the policies that are systematically attacking immigrant communities of color, but create a system that allows immigrants of every background a chance to build a life in our country.”
Right now, Trump is using the specter of war to detain Iranians and Iranian-Americans at the U.S. border and stoke irrational fears about immigrants of color. Under his administration, Steyer would act directly to reverse these racist policies that only further divide our nation. He believes we must be vigilant about protecting our borders, but not discriminate against immigrants by treating them unfairly and inhumanely on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
Steyer understands that the only way to move forward as a country is through an efficient and lawful immigration system. He knows that we must move forward, as a nation, from the past actions of an unjust and often violent approach to immigration. Tom understands that relief and leadership are needed immediately for families across our nation.
Steyer’s plan vows to:
Protect vulnerable immigrant communities and end the abuses within the immigration system. This includes using executive action to reinstate DACA, enact DAPA, revitalize TPS, and end the Muslim travel ban. It also means, among other measures, working with Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented Americans; reforming ICE, CBP, and USCIS to reflect our values and culture; and ending family separation and cruel detention policies.
Reform our legal immigration system to reflect our best values. This includes appropriately resourcing federal agencies that provide administrative immigration services. It also involves reforming the immigration courts; increasing transparency and fairness in the visa adjudication process; working with universities, research labs and the private sector to recruit and retain talented thinkers and builders from around the world; protecting farmworkers; and refocusing border enforcement on national security.
Reinvigorate the asylum and refugee system. To accomplish this, Steyer’s plan will extend compassion to those fleeing persecution and reform our asylum policies. It will also revitalize our refugee program; extend financial aid and technical resources to Central America; and recognize the devastating impacts of climate change and the need to prepare for increased global migration.
Build partnerships to foster integration and civic engagement. This means investing in civic engagement and a stronger democracy; ensuring that immigrants have the opportunities to help themselves and their communities thrive; protecting all American workers; recognizing the importance of the borderlands to our communities and economy; and partnering with state and local governments to support immigrant communities.