The Advocacy and Defense Project combats misconceptions so that immigrant communities and the general public have the information they need to advocate for humane, fact-based, and pragmatic immigration laws and policies.
Immigrants and refugees are undoubtedly invaluable to the State of Minnesota. Immigrants revitalize our rural and urban communities, starting new businesses, stopping rural and inner-core population decline, keeping school districts functioning, reestablishing a healthy tax base, and generating more resources for the entire community. The value of immigrants, however, has not translated into obvious social, cultural, or political support at the local, state, or federal levels.
Despite immigrant and refugees’ positive contributions, legal and policy barriers continue to threaten their welfare and vitality. Foremost among those barriers is our current outdated and ill-equipped immigration system. Under the current system there are long lines to immigrate family members (1 ½ to 22 or more years), no means for those waiting to immigrate to obtain temporary work authorization, and for millions, no path to any legal status despite years of living in the United States, working productively, and having U.S. born children. This broken system unfortunately is met with a complete absence of action on any new, fair, and humane federal immigration plan (comprehensive immigration reform, or CIR).
CIR remains the only viable, pragmatic, and ethical option for fixing the broken immigration system, which would provide a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants, prioritize the unity and integrity of families, protect workers rights, reestablish the rule of law including creating legal and effective border crossings, and encourage civic engagement. It will not only give important rights and responsibilities to those now living in the shadows of American society, but also will meet the economic and security needs of our country and enable broken communities to grow and heal. Finally, it will bring relief to the legal immigrants and refugees who pay an immense price for anti-immigrant rhetoric fueled by impracticable policies. Efforts to portray undocumented immigrants as a threat to communal safety and prosperity have a chilling effect on the formation of important community bonds between immigrant groups and members of the general public, who are unable or unwilling to differentiate between legal and undocumented immigrants. The passage of CIR will remove a principal impetus behind anti-immigrant rhetoric, thereby fostering an environment in which all immigrants can fully integrate into their communities.
ILCM’s advocacy work over the last four years has educated, advocated, and led thousands of persons to try to bring about a more just environment for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. Our work has achieved many important objectives but there is much more work we must still do.