The ”New Way Forward Act” from Representative Jesús “Chuy” García’s team was co-sponsored by many representatives, according to a press release from García’s team. The act aimed to “correct racial and anti-immigrant injustices embedded in our immigration laws”.
What We Know:
- The package included mandatory ending immigration detention, which blocked local police from taking part in immigration enforcement, and it also decriminalized border crossings. It also sought to disrupt laws that involved the criminal justice system, which threatens immigrants’ status. This brings an automatic end to deportation proceedings for those who had prior convictions or had contact with the legal system.
- In the press release, García said that an attack on one community is an attack on the American people. “We must end the labels of the ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ immigrant used to dehumanize and divide communities.”
- The new legislation will repeal section 1325 and 1326 of the U.S. Federal Immigration Law Code, which made it criminal for someone to enter the U.S. or renter after being deported. Section 1325 of the U.S. code under President Trump’s administration was notoriously known for separating thousands of children from their parents at the border in 2018.
- The new package will undo some of the 1996 Clinton-era laws that add severe punishment to immigrants who violate U.S. immigration. Immigrants with a previous criminal history would face mandatory deportation for their convictions that occurred seven years of them being in the U.S. The new legislation will allow immigrants with a prior criminal history a fair shot in court.
- An explainer of the new proposals compared the similarities of the immigration reform to other law enforcement practices such as the stop-and-frisk. Both things are used to target people of color. “Convictions, often steeped in racial profiling, should not lead to deportation,” the explainer reads.
- The explainer recounts the Howard Bailey case. A 17-year-old Jamaican who came to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident with his mother, who was a U.S. citizen. In 1995, after serving his time in the Navy, he was convicted of a first-time drug offense, and in the advice of his lawyer, Bailey pleaded guilty to the crime. A decade after the crime Bailey, who was a father of two, applied for a U.S. citizenship but was denied in 2010. He was also detained and deported back to Jamaica, a place he hadn’t been to in 24 years. He remains there to this day.
- The proposed law would not start deportation proceedings based on criminal activity for more than five years old. This will limit ICE’s power to detain immigrants.
Under the new law, people who were previously deported, like Bailey, will be able to apply for reentry into the U.S. if they can show they would not be deported under the terms of the new laws.