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ICIRR Urges Congress to Reject Dream Act Provisions That Further Criminalize Immigrants

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Urges Congress to Reject Dream Act Provisions That Further Criminalize Immigrants


CHICAGO (June 3, 2019)—The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) calls on members of Congress to remove damaging provisions in the 2019 Dream Act (H.R. 6/H.R. 2820), which can further harm immigrant communities. These provisions--which can deny protection for individuals on the basis of juvenile adjudications or allegations of gang affiliation--dangerously reinforce racial profiling and broaden the discretionary power of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


Under the current administration, law enforcement has increasingly  targeted immigrant youth for alleged gang involvement. The Erase the Database Coalition, which includes ICIRR members and partners, has helped expose how the extremely damaging use of gang databases at the county and city levels contribute to this type of targeting. Although the Dream Act provisions claim to bar DHS from using gang database information, they ultimately fail to recognize how DHS and local police can circumvent this intent. For example, according to the Office of the Inspector General, Chicago’s database is not a “unified, standalone system, as publicly perceived,” but “a patchwork of data systems, visualization tools, and computer applications” where the primary purpose is not the tracking of gang information.


The new Dream Act provisions also exclude applicants with juvenile adjudications and those who are vaguely considered “public safety” threats. DHS’s vast architecture and data network pose real threats to both young people and families in our communities, and is part and parcel of its increasingly aggressive raids and tactics. All of these issues set a dangerous precedent for future bills, and any new language that further criminalizes our communities should not be considered.


This is a critical moment for the immigrant community. The American Dream and Promise Act would offer permanent protections for those currently in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs. This bill demonstrates that we can make progress toward a more humane immigration system. It increases to 18 the maximum age at which an applicant must have entered the US to qualify for the Dream Act, allows previously deported immigrants to apply,  and provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with TPS, among other items.


This progress demonstrates how important it is to support all of the grassroots community organizations who are on the front lines every day fighting for our families. Advocates and allies in the immigration reform movement are the reason why a Dream Act is possible today. That’s why we cannot let the current political climate compromise our commitment to our communities as a whole. It is time to stand together and stand strong against criminalization.


We stand with members of the Erase the Database Coalition, who are spearheading the fight against these harmful provisions, and invite ICIRR members and allies to participate in the ACTION ALERT developed by PASO - West Suburban Organizing Project: Demand that Your Congress Member Oppose the Addition of More Youth Criminalization Provisions to the American Promise and Dream Act!


Together, let’s make sure that any immigration bill now or in the future takes two steps forward without any steps back.


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