As immigrants, we know that Donald Trump cannot be allowed to grab the keys to the White House, and we will do our part to defeat him. He’s made it clear that he intends to rule with an iron fist, one designed to punch migrants, Muslims, and people of color in the face from day one.
This year more than ever there are clear differences between the two nominees on immigration, and while neither candidate is perfect, with Trump we face an imminent threat, and with Clinton there could be an opportunity for accountability and, perhaps, progress.
But defeating Trump won’t end the suffering in immigrant communities. And in truth, there will never be a political messiah sent down from the heavens to solve all of our problems. The solutions and the muscle to make them real must come from the people directly impacted by policy change, who are organized and committed to holding politicians of every party accountable to our communities’ interests and values.
At the party conventions, both the GOP and Democrats spent a lot of airtime pushing the same political myth: that Democrats—by their very nature—protect immigrants. For both the Democratic and Republican Party base, that narrative is a motivator, whether positive or negative.
The reality is that the last two Democratic presidents have given Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—Trump’s would-be enforcers—cash, power, and protection from accountability. The Bill Clinton Administration created immigration reforms in 1996, which led to the police state that our communities suffer under today, while the Obama Administration has deported more immigrants than any other President in the history of the United States.
All of this despite the fact that ICE and CBP—our nation’s largest law enforcement agencies—are rife with abuses and corruption and that their leaders are spokespeople for the anti-immigrant movement. People are dying in detention centers; LGBTQ immigrants are placed in indefinite solitary confinement; children and mothers who have fled violence in Central America are being tracked down on their way to school, locked up, and deported to their deaths. At a time when the country is talking about holding law enforcement officers accountable, ICE and CBP agents run rampant and without accountability.
United We Dream Action calls on Sec. Hillary Clinton to break that pattern by committing to use her executive authority as President to grant new protections for millions of immigrants from deportation and from these out of control agents within her first 100 days in office, should she win in November.
Hillary Clinton has promised to introduce immigration reform legislation in her first 100 days and to use executive authority on immigration only after the legislative process fails. However, we believe it is critical that she act swiftly and begin her presidency by granting immediate protections already authorized by law.
To be clear, we will do everything we can to win permanent, legislative change and a pathway to citizenship. But we must address the bleeding happening right now caused by the out of control agents of ICE and CBP. We simply cannot wait.
Every step forward on immigration has been driven by grassroots organizing led by those directly impacted by immigration policy—not from politicians. President Obama resisted ending the deportations of young immigrants—even denied the problem—until he was forced to acknowledge it. Now, over 700,000 young people have been protected. The same power of organized people fighting for their own liberation is what has shaped Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders' progressive platforms on immigration.
Make no mistake, we will work to defeat the fascist vision of Trump and his supporters. But we will not organize and fight only to see ICE and CBP get stronger under a new Clinton presidency because of inaction or compromise with anti-immigrant Republicans.
The movement we have been building for years was never about Trump or Clinton, Republicans or Democrats. It has always been about the fight to end suffering and setting our country on a new path where all of its people are treated with the dignity and respect we deserve.
Cristina Jimenez is the co-founder and director of United We Dream Action (UWDA), a powerful, nonpartisan network led by immigrant youth across the country. UWDA educates the public and promotes public policies and programs, which advance the cause of dignity of all immigrants. Read here for information about UWDA and its sister organization United We Dream.
Cristina Jimenez is the co-founder and director of United We Dream Action (UWDA), a powerful, nonpartisan network led by immigrant youth across the country. UWDA educates the public and promotes public policies and programs, which advance the cause of dignity of all immigrants.