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The US Needs an Immigration Policy “Framework” That Is Humane, Fair, and Secure

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February 1, 2018

Contact Name: Jeff Martin

The US Needs an Immigration Policy “Framework” That Is Humane, Fair, and Secure

As the clock counts down to the February 8 federal funding deadline and the March 5 deadline to create a permanent plan for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the American Anthropological Association insists that protection of the ‘DREAMers’ be reinstituted indefinitely and without exception.

Let there be no mistaking DACA for comprehensive immigration reform. The need to reinstitute DACA protections results from the Administration’s cynical judgment. After March 5th (as Senate Majority Leader McConnell had promised earlier when faced with the most recent federal shut-down), comprehensive immigration reform must be taken up to replace the tangled patchwork of unfair, inhumane, inefficient, and economically harmful laws and regulations that now stand for “immigration policy.”

Anthropological scholarship sheds light on many of the issues central to comprehensive immigration reform, and our association welcomes the chance to share our members’ expertise. However, given (1) the urgent timelines that specifically relate to DACA and (2) the core ethic of our discipline that says all people matter, what is of critical importance right now is the protection of people who, when they ”came out of the shadows,” were promised safety and the chance to contribute to society by gainfully employing their skills and interests. DACA has been a genuine success, allowing its recipients, who came to the US as children accompanying their parents, to become teachers, doctors, nurses, managers, and serving other productive roles in society.

After asking for and then rejecting the bipartisan legislative plan it was given by the Senate, the Administration has put forward a new multi-dimensional ‘framework’ that needlessly ties together unrelated issues , including proposing dramatic reductions to existing legal forms of immigration, notably family reunification.  As anthropologists, we extensively document the value of family unification.  It is not fair to DACA recipients, whom the Administration has regularly said it supports, to have their fate leveraged as part of an overarching budget plan.

As always, the AAA stands ready to help ensure that more than a century of engaged scholarship about the history of migration and the lived experiences of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers is part of a larger conversation on policy reform.


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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.

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