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December 10, 2019

Reps. Pressley, García, Jayapal, and Bass Introduce the New Way Forward Act to Fight Criminalization of Immigrants

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Karen Bass (CA-37), and 30 Members of Congress, alongside over 145 advocacy organizations and community representatives, introduced the New Way Forward Act, a landmark piece of legislation to restore due process to the immigration system and disrupt the prison to deportation pipeline. The bill corrects racial and anti-immigrant injustices embedded in our immigration laws, many of which have enabled the Trump Administration’s inhumane assault on non-citizens in the United States and at our southern border. 

To view background on the bill, click here

To views a section-by section document of the bill, click here

“For those of us living in the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, a district that is over 30% immigrant, we know firsthand that the cruel and xenophobic policies coming out of this White House have destabilized families and stoked fear in immigrant communities far beyond the Southern border,” said Rep. Pressley. “Our immigration and criminal injustice systems are deeply and fundamentally intertwined—and have contributed to our nation’s mass incarceration crisis. I am immensely proud to cosponsor the New Way Forward Act – bold legislation that actualizes the values we espouse by keeping families together, advancing racial justice, and protecting due process for everyone, including immigrants.”

For too long, unjust, anti-immigrant laws including racialized laws dating back to the 1920s criminalizing migration and the 1996 laws that entangle our civil immigration system with our broken criminal legal system have led to overly harsh punishments and the mass criminalization of immigrants. These laws have resulted in mass incarceration and deportations, separation of families, stripping people of due process and exacerbating racial animus in both our immigration and criminal legal systems. The New Way Forward Act recognizes that all our communities deserve dignity, restoration and repair, not further criminalization.

“Too many families in Chicago and around the country have been torn apart by cruel immigration policies.” Rep. García said. “Imagine living with the constant fear of being detained anywhere and deported at any time simply because you fled violence and sought refuge in the U.S. We must end the labels of the ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ immigrant used to dehumanize and divide communities. An attack on one community is an affront to us all. I am proud to introduce the New Way Forward Act to disrupt the prison to deportation pipeline, give all immigrants the dignity of due process, and ensure America remains a nation that welcomes all.”

 “Our current system of treating immigrants as disposable, unredeemable and subject to deportation after they have completed their sentences did not begin with President Trump. Entire generations of new Americans know the criminal legal and immigration systems are plagued with biased policing, overzealous detention and surveillance policies, and high incarceration rates,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal said. “As one of 14 naturalized citizens in Congress, I am proud to co-lead the New Way Forward Act, which aims to restore due process for immigrants by ending detention without bail, separating local policing from immigration enforcement, and repealing laws that make migration a crime. New Americans deserve the same rights and dignity as native-born Americans — a chance to make their own American dream a reality and contribute meaningfully to their communities without fear.”

 “I’m proud to support this bill to push back on mass incarceration by ending mandatory immigration detention and banning for-profit immigration jails,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “The New Way Forward Act helps restore the fundamental principles of due process in our immigration system, which has been cruel and imbalanced. Thank you to my colleagues for leading this important effort.”

Congresswoman Pressley has been a staunch advocate for immigrants and an outspoken opponent of the Trump Administration’s xenophobic policies. Earlier this year, she led a bicameral effort to reinstate medical deferred action for critically ill immigrants receiving lifesaving care in the United States. This summer, she visited US Customs and Border Patrol facilities at the southern border and testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the human rights abuses she witnessed. In May, she joined colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee to demand the withdrawal of a proposal by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to terminate housing benefits for mixed-immigration status families who rely on HUD’s public and assisted housing programs.



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