No–we are not all immigrants. And this year, for the first time ever, a U.S. president officially recognized today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
(MPR) “President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Friday to observe this Oct. 11 as a day to honor Native Americans, their resilience and their contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide spanning generations. The move shifts focus from Columbus Day, the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus, which shares the same date as Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year….
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day advocates say the recognition helps correct a ‘whitewashed’ American history that has glorified Europeans like Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities. Native Americans have long criticized the inaccuracies and harmful narratives of Columbus’ legacy that credited him with his ‘discovery’ of the Americas when Indigenous people were there first.”
Three policy issues: Title 42, Unused Visas, and Pathway to Citizenship
Do you wonder what this “Title 42” ban on immigration is? Here’s a cogent explanation:
(The Hill) “In March 2020, then Vice President Mike Pence directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use its emergency powers to effectively seal the southern border, overruling the agency’s scientists. The CDC invoked Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act which gives federal health officials the ability to take extraordinary measures to limit transmission of an infectious disease….
“Despite promising that his administration would respect science, the CDC’s Title 42 order has been renewed under the Biden administration. Public health leaders, human rights advocates, and former CDC officials and academics have repeatedly called on the CDC to end the use of Title 42 in favor of evidence-based approaches that can protect migrants and the American public from COVID-19 transmission. United Nations officials have also raised concerns that the expulsions may violate the United States’ obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
“Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, weighed in on Title 42 and the recent COVID-19 surge on October 3, saying that migrants are ‘not the driving force of this, let’s face reality here.’”
Hundreds of thousands of visas went unused in 2021, largely because of roadblocks held over from the Trump administration. That meant families remaining separated, refugees still locked in distant camps, and employees still waiting in years-long lines.
(The Hill) “’We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of visas that were meant for people to come here through the employment-based system or to join family members that, because of federal bureaucracy, were not processed in time, which is absolutely unjustifiable,’ said Jorge Loweree, policy director for the American Immigration Council.
“”One of the things that we consistently ignore in the immigration debate in this country is the reality that a big part of why we have 11 to 12 million undocumented people in the U.S. is because we don’t have a meaningful and functional system of legal immigration,’ he added.”
Three members of Congress explain why immigration change is essential–now, not at some uncertain future date.
(The Hill) “Throughout the pandemic, over five million undocumented immigrants put their lives on the line to keep our nation afloat — with over 400,000 farm workers, 400,000 cleaning staff, 300,000 packers, stockers and shippers of essential goods, 100,000 home health care workers, and more preserving the essential services that maintain our society.
“Nearly 30,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipientsalso stepped up throughout this global health crisis, working on the frontlines as our physicians, residents, nurses, and paramedics. Now, it is our time to look after those who looked after us and produce real immigration reform through this once in a lifetime opportunity — and that’s the budget reconciliation process.
“While the pandemic made millions of Americans recognize the fragility of our economy, and the role our nation’s undocumented immigrants play in it, it’s imperative we remember that this work didn’t just become “essential” — and those immigrants who we’ve relied on for so long deserve their shot at the American dream.”