Civil rights groups are calling on President Biden to protect undocumented immigrants from criminal penalties and deportation.
In a letter sent Wednesday, the groups urged Biden to “immediately take all actions within your authority to protect undocumented immigrants, many of whom have resided here for years, throughout the United States.”
The National Urban League, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Legal Defense Fund, and Haitian Bridge Alliance wrote that immigration is “one of the key civil rights issues of our time.” The specifically called for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of those who cannot safely return to their original country.
While many African immigrants would be endangered by returning to their countries of origins, they face some of the harshest criminal penalties for entering the United States. The groups cite data that shows while Black immigrants account for 9 percent of the country’s immigrant population, they also make up 20 percent of “immigrants facing deportation based on criminal issues.”
"There is a moral imperative for us to reform our immigration system and overcome the mistakes of our past, particularly as the Black immigrant population represents one of the most rapidly growing immigrant communities in the U.S.," the letter continues. “We, therefore, urge the Administration to take every executive and agency action possible to help ensure that we begin to move to a more fair and equitable immigration system."
The Biden Administration deported over 25,000 Haitian migrants at the border under Title 42, which allowed fast-tracked expulsions in the name of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Biden also recently passed a policy making it harder to seek asylum, turning away migrants who arrive at the United States-Mexico border without first seeking a legal pathway.
“Black immigrants carry the burdens of discrimination on multiple fronts, suffering from a stigma of anti-immigrant sentiment that has surged in recent years, compounded by the stain of anti-Blackness that the nation is still struggling to erase,” Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, said in a statement. “These communities deserve an equal shot at the American dream, and we urge the Biden Administration to take aggressive action to rid the immigration process of the inequities that put that dream persistently out of reach.”