Last summer, the country was hopeful that a proposed immigration reform bill would pass. Unfortunately, the bill, known as S. 744, could not get through the House. Since then, there has been no significant changes to immigration law, policies, or procedures. Sure, there have been rumblings here and there about changes coming in 2014, but most of those have ended up to be nothing more than a disappointment for those who work hard everyday to see immigration change for the better in this country.
Amidst protests, demonstrations, and hunger strikes, there has also been a handful of politicians who have been working to achieve immigration reform. Recently, U.S. Homeland Security Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, met with people who come down on both sides of this debate.
One of the groups involved in this meeting with Secretary Johnson was undocumented immigrants who would like to see deportations waived for those who do not have criminal records. Meanwhile, he also took time to meet with a handful of groups that are known throughout the country as organizations that are calling for stricter immigration enforcement.
Representatives from United We Dream released a statement after the meeting, saying the talks with Secretary Johnson were “productive.” United We Dream holds itself out to be the largest immigrant youth organization in the country and, according to its website, addresses the inequities and obstacles faced by immigration youth.”
As I have written about in previous blog postings, the Obama administration has overseen 2 million deportations - more than any other president. United We Dream reminded Secretary Johnson about the impact this has on immigrant communities throughout the United States. Deportations cause husbands to be separated from wives, parents from children, and countless others who are forced to live with these circumstances every day. “While Sec. Johnson did not provide details about the timing or content of his current policy review, the stories we shared make it clear why we need significant relief and reform now,” said Lorella Praeli, the director of policy and advocacy at United We Dream. “Our community cannot wait.”
In addition, the group also encouraged the creation of a humanitarian relief program for deported immigrants who have US citizen or resident families. United We Dream would also like to see less immigrants forced into detention facilities. In a statement, Praeli said that the group looks forward to “continuing the dialogue with Secretary Johnson and asked to meet with him again to ensure that the real people affected by the Obama Administration's immigration enforcement remain front and center in his mind and heart.”
It is too early at this point to tell whether this meeting will lead to significant immigration reform changes or not. However, it is encouraging to see Secretary Johnson taking the initiative to meet with various groups in order to come to some type of conclusion. Hopefully, this could lead to Congress passing some type of immigration reform legislation in the coming months.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Secretary Johnson should be doing more?