For the last 15 years, Gamaliel’s Civil Rights of Immigrants Campaign has fought for a clear path to citizenship for all immigrants. Now, as the United States Senate considers the Build Back Better Act, we have a narrow window of opportunity to push President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to reinsert a path to citizenship into the Build Back Better Act through a registry update.
You have the opportunity to join us in this call to action by signing this letter that calls upon our leaders to make this change. Please sign by Wednesday, January 19 at 5 p.m. Central Time. A version of this letter can be found here for circulation.
The full text of our letter is below:
January 10, 2022
|The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
|The Honorable Kamala Harris
Vice President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
|The Honorable Chuck Schumer
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
|The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, Majority Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi:
We, as members and affiliates of the Gamaliel Network, write to you as citizens deeply committed to the rights and well-being of immigrants. For the past year, our national Civil Rights of Immigrants Campaign (CRI) has called for Complete Inclusive Immigration Reform that includes an accessible path to citizenship for all immigrants. At this crucial juncture, we urge you to use your constitutional leadership to reinsert a path to citizenship into the Build Back Better Act through a registry update.
Gamaliel Network, its affiliates, and CRI work tirelessly to train immigrants and their fellow community members to organize and meaningfully participate in the political and social decisions that affect their lives. Every day, we see the strain that the United States’ unjust immigration policies place upon members of our communities, and the ways in which the pressures of a precarious or nonexistent path to citizenship compound difficulties related to housing, work, education and more. As organizers guided by our diverse faith traditions and values, we call upon you to exercise compassion and justice toward these people who seek citizenship in our country.
As our colleagues at CHIRLA stated in a recent letter to you, “We are cognizant of the ongoing discussions between the White House and the Senate aimed at securing 50 Senate votes for any final package. Our position remains clear and steadfast: the inclusion of permanent protections for immigrants across the nation is a moral, economic and political imperative.”
We have followed closely the Senate Parliamentarian’s multiple advisory opinions on proposed immigration provisions in H.R.5376 – Build Back Better Act. We urge you to remember that the Parliamentarian’s advice is not binding under the rules of the Senate and that you have the ability to include any and all of those provisions in the legislation. For us, the bottom line is securing a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in this country who remain undocumented but are actively engaged in building better communities and ultimately a better America. We believe that the Build Back Better Act is the vehicle for making that happen now.
We call on you to use the power given to you by the American people to support all American communities. Please take this opportunity to provide a path to citizenship today.
Mr. Pablo Tapia
Chair, Gamaliel Civil Rights of Immigrants
Rev. Dr. John C. Welch
Chair, Gamaliel Board of Directors
Rev. Edward L. Thompson
Chair, Gamaliel Council of Presidents
Ms. Ana Garcia-Ashley
Executive Director, Gamaliel
We, the undersigned, add our names in support of the demands stated in this letter.
The Gamaliel Civil Rights of Immigrants Campaign calls on the Biden administration to immediately cease the unconscionable border detainment and deportation of Haitian immigrants. We demand that President Joseph Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas grant temporary protected status to the immigrants being detained at the Del Rio International Bridge, and to all Haitian immigrants coming to our border as long as their nation’s instability continues.
Earlier this year, Secretary Mayorkas clearly recognized Haiti’s dire circumstances when he said, “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Gamaliel Network urges the Department of Homeland Security to immediately expand their eighteen-month designation of Haiti for temporary protected status to Haitian immigrants. If the Department fails to act now, then they are responsible for fueling the unlivable conditions of starvation, poverty, violence, and vulnerability to climate crises that continue to oppress the people of Haiti.
Pablo Tapia, the Chair of the Gamaliel Civil Rights of Immigrants Coordinating Committee, states, “It is frankly atrocious that this administration would take such violent action against immigrants, especially after what we saw in previous administrations. The United States has directly contributed to the colonization & instability of Haiti and Latin America that for hundreds of years has deprived them of resources, all while exploiting them for cheap labor. Our country must give these people what they are owed, but instead, as recent video footage has shown, our Border Patrol denies their entry and brutalizes them by horseback. It is dehumanizing, and we will not stand for it.”
This call to action comes as sixteen Gamaliel leaders and organizers join the We Are Home Campaign, FIRM and CASA in Washington, D.C. this week to demand a path to citizenship for essential workers. Now that the Senate parliamentarian has ruled “no” on one approach—the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation process—our elected officials in Washington must move forward with an alternative approach. We will hold them accountable to use every available option to get it done this year.
We call on our network to contact our congressional representatives and demand their swift action to create a path to citizenship. We also ask that you join us in contacting the Department of Homeland Security at 202-282-8495 to demand asylum status for the Haitian immigrants at our borders.
Transformational Justice in Action is holding a social media action, #UnlockTheVote, throughout the month of September. We’re raising awareness of the issue of disenfranchisement among people with conviction histories, letting people with conviction histories know that they can vote in some states and circumstances, and promoting our #UnlockTheVote campaign.
Keep an eye out for our posts all month long, and share them when they come across your timeline. Want to get involved more directly? Contact your local Gamaliel affiliate to learn more, or reach out to [email protected].
Did you know that people in Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C. never lose the right to vote, even if they’re incarcerated?
Gamaliel’s Transformational Justice in Action Campaign believes that if elected officials’ decisions affect your life, you should be able to vote, and we’re working to make that happen.
Join us in the fight to restore voting rights to people with conviction histories! Come to the Transformational Justice in Action Virtual Town Hall October 1 at 2 p.m. CT. Register here.
Due to the continued spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the Race and Power in America Summit until December 2022.
Please know we don’t make this decision lightly. We consider the Race and Power Summit to be a central part of our fight for racial equity in the United States, and we consider gathering in person to be essential to the Race and Power Summit. However, we must prioritize the safety of our leaders, staff and communities.
We will continue working to make Race and Power 2022 a success and will keep you apprised of our plans as they are solidified. To stay up-to-date with our work around racial equity, keep an eye on our Transformational Justice in Action Campaign and our Civil Rights of Immigrants Campaign.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, as well as to his sisters and brothers in the labor movement. A coal-miner and member of the United Mine Workers—like his father before him—and the grandson of immigrants, President Trumka never forgot his roots as he rose to power in the labor movement. He was instrumental in moving and keeping the issues of working people in the center of public discourse.
Our Network will remember him for his deep commitment to racial justice, both inside and outside organized labor. We will remember his commitment to workers’ rights, regardless of race, gender, or immigration status. We will remember him for his efforts to move unions toward a green economy, calling out climate deniers. And we will remember him as a leader who understood that workers’ rights are civil rights.
May his life and courageous leadership inspire us to intensify our efforts to secure justice for working people in this country and around the world.
The Board of Directors, staff and affiliates of the Gamaliel Network join in prayer for the family of George Floyd, residents of Minneapolis and across the country, as the emotions of joy and jubilation flow in response to the historic verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
We realize that while justice is an unattainable ideal in these cases, we will continue to push for the accountability of those who recklessly enforce laws in this country and for legislative reform in states that continue to shield such misconduct through qualified immunity statutes.
The pressure of “good trouble” has only begun to build the dam that will eventually stop the turbulent flow of the waters of injustice.