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Feeling Hope

February 2021
As we trudge along amidst this pandemic, with more than 4,000 deaths a day in the United States from COVID-19, and the light at the end of the tunnel extending until the summer, at least, when we all have the opportunity to get vaccinated, there is reason to be hopeful for immigrants in the country and in New York State.

Within a week in the Oval Office, Joe Biden Jr signed dozens of orders and executive actions to reverse the damage left by his predecessor. In addition to pledging to rejoin the Paris agreement and cancel the permit for the Keyston XL pipeline, Biden ended the Muslim travel ban, rescinded funding and reaffirmed he halted wall construction on the southern border. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program suspended deportations for 100 days, rescinded the illegal order not to count undocumented immigrants in the 2020 Census, and requested evaluations from agencies aimed at promoting racial equity, to name a few.

The promise of immigration reform and giving status to the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants is still pending, in addition to reuniting the separated families at the border and repealing the previous government's asylum policies. For immigration reform, and for changes that last more than four years (a new president could revoke all of this again), it is obviously necessary that it be legislated, that Congress vote for an immigration law. And we have high hopes that this will happen, with both houses in Democratic control, although it will not happen overnight. And it will require more pressure.

The coalition of 200 US cities and counties with large immigrant populations, Cities for Action, published its list of priorities for the new administration of Biden and Harris and the 117th Congress: Inclusive COVID-19 recovery that considers the needs of all residents and families, regardless of their immigration status. They also signed the vision ( they have for immigration action urging the president and congress for immigration reform to include the following: a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, TPS and essential workers; establishment of an Office of New Americans in the White House; end efforts to make federal funding conditional on local cooperation with federal immigration authorities; increase access to citizenship; expand support for immigrant crime victims who assist law enforcement; support for language access at all levels of government; keeping families together and move away from detention; raise the annual refugee admission ceiling and rebuild the resettlement infrastructure.

Cities for Action is not the only one pushing for comprehensive and fair immigration reform. The New York Immigration Coalition, NYIC, promotes with other national partners the Freedom Together campaign that has a list of policies similar to those out forth by the coalition of cities, to end deportations, approve inclusive relief for COVID-19, and introduce legislation for permanent protections. NYIC asks that we join our voice and send a petition for citizenship, relief and recovery to our representatives to approve Freedom Together,
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, NDLON, has sounded the alarm and calls on the government to take steps to provide worker protection and whistleblower protections for reporting and addressing the myriad of abuses and conditions unsafe at work. Other national organizations such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) / Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers (UFW); and United We Dream, formed a coalition of local, state and national sectors for the We Are Home / We are in Our Home campaign to demand changes in immigration policies and transform millions of lives.

Changes are also required in New York State. Make the Road New York, and NYIC launched the "Respect and Dignity Platform" for the 2021 state legislative session, calling for Albany to prioritize legislation that ensures communities’ women workers and immigrants receive the protection they need amid the pandemic, such as a 2020 Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, the NY HERO Act, more help paying rents, and access to health insurance for everyone, Coverage4All.

Due to all these things, and so much more we left out due to lack of space, we have reason to feel hopeful in 2021. Now we only have to roll up our sleeves so that our wishes come true

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor

Translated from Spanish by Nohan Meza

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