Sánchez, Ruiz Announce CHC Immigration Principles for the 117th Congress

January 19, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Immigration Task Force (Task Force), and Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), today announced the CHC Immigration Principles for the 117th Congress. These principles will inform the work of the CHC Task Force as it continues to partner with President-elect Joe Biden on immigration reform initiatives that will restore our values as a nation that welcomes immigrants. Prior to releasing the principles, Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, CHC Chairman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), and other members of the CHC met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss immigration as a priority under the Biden Administration with CHC leading the effort.

“The principles we lay out today present a sensible, yet meaningful, path to immigration reform,” said Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Chair of the CHC Immigration Task Force. “The CHC will continue to work with President-elect Biden, who has demonstrated a serious commitment to reverse the immoral practices of the Trump Administration and finally pass modern, sensible, and humane immigration policy.”

For the last four years, CHC has been a leading force in pushing back on President Trump’s harmful, unsuccessful, and ill-intentioned immigration policies, specifically the crisis of family separations at the border. Today’s announcement capitalizes on years of work to develop meaningful reform proposals, in partnership with immigration advocates from across the country as well as those most impacted by the failed policies of the past. As such, these principles demonstrate the CHC’s renewed commitment to passing meaningful immigration reform that treats immigrants humanely and makes a path to citizenship easier for families, workers, and students.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is actively working with Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and President-elect Biden to ensure immigration reform is signed into law this Congress. These immigration principles will serve as the base for CHC-led efforts in Congress to protect the 11 million undocumented workers that have lived in the shadows for far too long,” said CHC Chairman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA). “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that immigrants are the backbone of our country and will be essential to our economic recovery. Throughout the pandemic, many undocumented workers have risked their lives to feed America by working in fields and meatpacking facilities, among other critical frontline jobs to keep us safe and healthy. President-elect Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer have made it clear that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority. We applaud their commitment to work with us to make immigration reform a reality, and we look forward to seeing it to fruition.”

President-elect Joe Biden and his team have already shown a willingness to take on necessary immigration reform, both by delivering a legislative proposal on the very first day of his Presidency, as well as the nomination and appointment of individuals with significant immigration policy and personal experience. Under the leadership of Rep. Sánchez, the Task Force looks forward to continued productive engagement on these issues.

The CHC’s principles provide a roadmap to immigration reform and will guide our effort to secure meaningful change.

We commit to fighting for:

  1. A pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. As evidenced through the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented immigrants contribute to our country but are often excluded from relief and other opportunities. A pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be part of our legislative efforts for a more just and equitable future. 
  2. Permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. Despite President Trump’s attacks, Dreamers, TPS recipients, and DED holders continue to contribute to our nation. They deserve and should be afforded a timely path to citizenship after meeting fair requirements, as established in the House-passed Dream and Promise Act.
  3. Reforms to agricultural guestworker programs that protect migrant and U.S.-based farmworkers. Through a deadly pandemic, and wildfires and every day, farmworkers work to provide food for American families. We must recognize farmworkers’ sacrifice and dedication by passing permanent reforms as outlined in the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
  4. An efficient legal immigration system and removing barriers that have hindered American innovation and family reunification. Legal immigration enriches our country, both culturally and economically. The 3- and 10-year bars and numerical caps have created an inefficient system with decades-long backlogs. We must expand legal pathways for families, workers and diverse immigrants to come to the U.S., as outlined in the Reuniting Families Act.
  5. An independent Article I immigration court system to separate immigration courts from the Department of Justice. These reforms will help restore due process in immigration proceedings. 
  6. Equal access to life-saving health and nutrition benefits. Immigrants, particularly legal residents, should not be excluded from resources needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  7. Protections against intimidation and retaliation for immigrant workers. Reckless employers will continue to undermine workplace rights and protections for all workers unless we take action to protect immigrant workers from abuse and retaliation, as outlined in the POWER Act.
  8. Judicial discretion for humanitarian, family unity, and public interest purposes. The immigrant community has been over criminalized and immigration judges lack discretion to provide relief to those that are contributing to their communities. We must restore fairness and due process in our immigration system.  
  9. Robust funding for community-based organizations that will help immigrants navigate legal proceedings and integrate them to their communities. Robust funding for community-based organizations will ensure that immigrants are informed of their rights and other resources available to them. These trusted community partners will also help bring critical information to ensure immigrants are not left behind in our recovery efforts.
  10. Transparency, oversight, and accountability of the Department of Homeland Security. Standards for immigrant detainees must be established that include access to health services, physical activity, and basic necessities, including water and food. 
  11. Accessible immigration relief. Immigration relief should be accessible to those who otherwise meet eligibility requirements by maintaining reasonable costs for naturalization and other immigration benefits.
  12. Smart border security. Border walls are a medieval solution to a modern-day problem and should not be erected. There are more effective ways to combat drugs, contraband, and human trafficking at ports of entry.
  13. Reforms to our detention systems: Immigration detention centers and other facilities that house these vulnerable communities should no longer be operated by for-profit corporations or nonprofits with a history of abuse, the number of detention beds must decrease, and alternatives to detention must be expanded.
  14. Inclusion of our commonwealth and territories. Immigration reform should take into account the needs of immigrants in our commonwealth and territories.
  15. Addressing the root causes of migration. We should provide robust investments to the Northern Triangle countries to combat violence and instability that forces migrants to flee.
  16. Robust asylum and refugee programs. We must provide viable pathways for those seeking refuge to legally enter our country, and we must rebuild our infrastructure to efficiently process cases.  
  17. Reunification of families separated at the border. We must reunify the families who were torn apart at the border by a deterrence policy that was inhumane and violated basic human rights. The safety and wellbeing of these families should be prioritized, and they should be protected from threats of deportation.