The Advocates Welcomes Introduction of State, Federal Immigration Bills
Thursday, February 18, 2021 4:00 PM

--For Immediate Release--

February 18, 2021 (Minneapolis, MN)

The Advocates for Human Rights welcomes new immigration legislation introduced today at the state and federal level that embraces the ability of people to migrate with dignity. Sarah Brenes, director of The Advocates’ Refugee and Immigrant Program, said, “Now is the time for bold action that makes the United States a leader in migrant rights for the 21st century. Today’s bills are a step in the right direction, but much more remains to be done.”   

U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House, with introduction by Sen. Bob Menendez of a senate companion expected on Monday. The Advocates welcomes the U.S. Citizenship Act as an important first step toward righting the wrongs that decades of racist and exclusionary immigration law and policy have wrought on our country and communities.   

The bill includes important human rights considerations, including eliminating the harmful bar to asylum protections for those who apply more than one year after arrival, addressing root causes of migration and building protections en route, expanding protections for victims of crimes and building protections for migrant workers against retaliatory deportations, and guaranteeing due process in immigration court through access to counsel and increased judicial discretion. The bill also expands pathways and eliminates some bars to lawful immigration, which will keep members of our families and communities together.     

Brenes added, “While there is much to celebrate in the U.S. Citizenship Act, The Advocates calls for immigration reform that reflects practical, visionary, and humane approaches to global migration in the 21st century.”  Changes are needed to disentangle the immigration and criminal systems, which overwhelmingly harm people of color, dismantle the sprawling civil immigration detention apparatus, ensure deportation priorities reflect our national values, and build an independent immigration court system with all due process protections, including the right to government-appointed counsel.   

In Minnesota, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and State Rep. Aisha Gomez introduced legislation to restore access to driver’s licenses for all Minnesotans, regardless of immigration status. According to Brenes, “this is a crucial bill that recognizes we are all safer when we use policy driven with logic instead of fear and xenophobia.  Minnesotans must drive to participate in our communities—whether taking children to school, getting to work in an essential industry, or supporting business, community organizations or faith communities.” Standard driver’s licenses would comply with federal law while ensuring all in our state can safely participate and live with dignity.   

>> Click here to watch the Minnesota Driver's Licese Bill Introduction Press Conference