CBC Chairman to Trump: Stop Pitting Black and Brown Immigrants Against Each Other
“We refuse to choose between Dreamers and African immigrants. They both have and deserve our full-throated support.”
Today, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02), sent a letter to President Trump criticizing his immigration proposal as “unreasonable” and “un-American” because it unnecessarily pits black and brown immigrants against each other.
Months ago, President Trump agreed to sign the DREAM Act into law, legislation that would primarily benefit Latino immigrants who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own, if and only if Congress funded additional border security measures. Now, the President is calling for an end to the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, a program that primarily benefits African and Asian immigrants and is mischaracterized by him as a “lottery” for low-skilled immigrants who have little to contribute to America. While immigrants are randomly selected for the DV program, they are required to have a high-school degree or equivalent work experience and endure a rigorous screening process. In fact, DV recipients are generally better educated than Americans born in the United States. In 2016, for example, half of DV recipients had a college degree, compared to just 32 percent of the overall United States population.
Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate were copied on the letter. Full text of the letter is attached and online. Excerpts from the letter are below.
Pitting Black and Brown Immigrants Against Each Other
“On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, I write today to express our complete disgust with your unreasonable immigration proposal, particularly your insistence upon the elimination of the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program. Your framework explicitly pits Dreamers, young Americans who know no other country, against the legal immigration system, one which provides an opportunity for immigrants of color to fight for a chance at the American Dream. Sadly, your strategy was predictable in light of your long, troubled history with race in this country. We vehemently oppose your blatantly callous strategy to divide and conquer communities of color and call on Members of Congress to reject your proposal, lest they be complicit in advancing your racially discriminatory policies.”
Mischaracterizing the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
“Moreover, your calls to end the [DV program] lack any reasonable basis. First, you portray the program as a giveaway to immigrants randomly selected by a lottery. While a lottery system is used to administer this extremely overly-subscribed visa program in an unbiased fashion, applicants nonetheless undergo a rigorous vetting process and extensive screening. Second, you claim the program is a threat to national security because it creates a pathway for terrorists and criminals. The very nature of the diversity visa lottery is an ineffective tool for terrorists. In 2015, 9.4 million people applied for 50,000 visas. Even if a terrorist beat the 1 in 188 odds of being selected for the program, that person would still have to complete the normal vetting process for any other green card holder. Additionally, diversity visa recipients have a far lower rate of incarceration compared to native-born Americans. For example, in 2015, immigrants from the top 20 diversity visa countries had an incarceration rate just one-fifth of the incarceration rate of native-born Americans. Lastly, you continuously characterize diversity visa recipients as low-skilled workers with little to contribute to American society. While America should continue to welcome the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, your characterization of diversity visa recipients is simply false. Applicants are already required to have a high school education or equivalent work experience. Moreover, diversity visa recipients have been generally better educated than Americans born in the United States. For example, in 2016, half of diversity visa recipients had a college degree, compared to just 32 percent of the overall United States population.”
Creating the DACA Crisis
“To be clear, the crisis we face is one of your own making. Dreamers enjoyed legal status under the Obama-era policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which you unilaterally ended last fall. Now, despite your commitment to sign the Dream Act into law if accompanied by border security measures, you continue to thwart bipartisan efforts to find a solution for Dreamers by attacking the legal immigration system. To suggest that we are any less committed to a permanent solution for Dreamers because we refuse to acquiesce to your racially discriminatory policies is preposterous. We refuse to choose between Dreamers and African immigrants. They both have and deserve our full-throated support.”
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