Illinois has its own DREAM Act. It is now time to bring the DREAM Act to the national level. This will ensure that 1 million immigrant students, who were brought to America as minors by their undocumented parents, have a path to permanent residency and citizenship.
Until the DREAM Act is be passed, I also call for expanding deferred action status to some illegal immigrants and their children under DACA and DAPA.
I support S.744 or a similar bill which will create a path for 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill allows ALL to register for the new Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) program to become lawful permanent residents. The DREAM Act and AgJobs would both be incorporated into the RPI program (but faster processing for those programs).
Further, there should be established standards for independent oversight of relevant agencies within the DHS to hold officials accountable for practices such as family separation and detention of children in cages.
I also call for the elimination of immigration detention centers. We would phase out the use of private detention centers completely. Statistically 80% of immigrants show up to the court dates and we can monitor immigrants through alternatives to detention (such as bonds and check-ins.) Other methods do work; some European countries put asylum-seekers in reception centers with food and shelter, and are free to come and go. The premise is that life outside of these centers would be harder for migrants there than it is inside. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ran a pilot program in 2015 placing immigrant families under the supervision of social workers, who helped them find housing and navigate the immigration bureaucracy. More than 90% of participants reportedly showed up to all of their check-ins and court hearings.
There should also be better access to lawyers for immigrants seeking asylum to ease the burden on our immigration judges and speed things up with case-management; immigration courts have nearly 1.5 pending cases on their dockets according to Syracuse University.
Attracting high-skilled immigrants is important, but I also believe in expanding the diversity lottery system. Besides a merit-based system, the most successful people have achieved success in this country through hard-work and grit. As long as they meet the qualifications and meet the requirements of a criminal background check, there should be no barrier to winning a lottery green card and fulfilling your American Dream.
We cannot and should not change our history of our heritage and where we came from. Another program that should remain is green cards being granted for the purpose of re-unification of families.