Human-Centered Immigration

Human-Centered Immigration

The Current Reality

Throughout my career as an immigration attorney, systemic injustice was not merely a backdrop; it was the essence of my experience. I defended undocumented individuals and families trapped in a deeply flawed and punitive system. Almost half of the people in our district are immigrants, yet the sense of urgency from our current leaders is starkly absent. They have supported the expansion of private detention facilities that imprison migrant families and have remained passive as millions endure constant fear, unsure of their right to stay in our country, secure livelihoods, or access legal resources and job opportunities. We have the capacity to overhaul asylum processing, enhance humanitarian aid at the border, and genuinely honor the aspirations of families seeking a better life in the United States. What is missing is the political will among our representatives to initiate these necessary reforms.

The crisis at our southern border is a humanitarian one, affecting innocent families who seek refuge within our nation. The notion of human “illegality” is a manufactured concept, rooted in social and racial exclusion, and it should not dictate our policies. We must view the instability at our border as a humanitarian issue, not a political one. I advocate for a shift in our immigration approach—away from criminalization and militarization towards a system that prioritizes efficiency, structural reforms, expanded support, and a focus on humanitarian reception. This is the path forward, and it is one I am committed to promoting.

What Needs To Be Done

We must establish a human-centered and inclusionary immigration policy that respects, celebrates, and helps continue the essential role of immigrants in our nation’s past, present, and future.

It is time to repeal:

  • Funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Mass deportation and migrant incarceration, as well as the usage of private detention
  • Immigration enforcement’s ability to employ facial recognition technology 
  • Heinous policy like the three and ten year grounds of inadmissibility, preventing undocumented immigrants who leave the U.S. from returning for specific periods of time
  • Title 42 in its current form, to ensure no future executive can weaponize it against immigrants
  • Provisions enabling the mandatory detention of asylum seekers
  • Permanent deportation and exclusion for minor violations
  • Expedited removal, which allows for removal even without due process such as the ability to appear before an immigration judge, and 
  • The “Constitution-Free Zone,” which allows CBP officials to essentially “waive” Fourth Amendment protections and engage in arbitrary stops and searchers and to operate checkpoints up to 100-miles inside our borders. 

We must

  • Replace our punitive, carceral infrastructure with humanitarian reception and processing at the Southern border
  • Reduce funding for immigration enforcement and reallocate towards service-based migrant processing that can actually help in stabilizing the border 
  • Clear bureaucratic backlogs to employer-based and family-sponsored visas
  • Expand the Green Card quota limit to reduce such backlogs
  • Reassess and stipulate an expanded number of visas for each respective category, including, clearing waiting lists like those waiting to receive permanent residency relief through a 42B grant
  • Invest in USCIS resources and funding to expedite internal processing
  • Reclassify spouses, permanent partners, and children of Green Card holders as immediate relatives
  • Either expand grounds for asylum, or establish an alternative migration pathway for border arrivals fleeing extreme poverty and political instability
  • Reform our asylum system, investing federal funds in expanding the number of asylum judges, and providing incentives to private law firms for immigrant representation
  • Create statutory exceptions to the one-year filing requirement for asylum seekers 
  • Expand and expedite the asylum-seeker track by eliminating the 1-year asylum filing requirement, codifying certain particular social groups 
  • Strengthen LGBTQ+ protections by allowing citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their partner even if the partner lives in a country that does not recognize marriage equality
  • Allow children, permanent partners, and spouses of H1-B visa holders to obtain a work permit
  • Grant additional funding to state and city sanctuary jurisdictions, in order to increase their processing capacity and incentivize greater support
  • Ban inhumane forced-migrations conducted by state governments
  • Increase Temporary Protected Status’ duration and the number of countries of origin eligible
  • Provide expanded work permit authorization and protection to the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our country, including the ability to renew work permits when EOIR proceedings are on appeal
  • Protect Dreamers and make DACA permanent
  • Make prosecutorial discretion to dismiss or administratively close proceedings, permanent

Additional priorities:

Currently, anti-immigration federal officials have the power to disrupt proceedings within immigration and asylum courts, resulting in significant backlogs and the appointment of judges who align politically with them. It is critical, therefore, to secure full funding for these courts and to transfer their jurisdiction from the Department of Justice, which falls under the Executive Branch, to an independent judiciary. This move would empower immigration judges to make fair, case-by-case decisions. Additionally, we must establish universal, compassionate standards for immigration rulings to prevent the influence of judges who are hostile toward immigrants.

Moreover, our immigration reform must focus on those who are American in every sense except on paper. We need to create a fair pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country. We should extend increased protections and naturalization opportunities to all undocumented immigrants brought here as children, regardless of their current age. We should also allow all deported veterans who were honorably discharged to return to the U.S., end the practice of deporting veterans, and automatically offer the option of full citizenship to anyone who serves in our armed forces. These steps are essential to protect individuals, families, and communities who have enriched our nation immensely. By targeting them, agencies like ICE inflict harm and injustice on those who are, in every meaningful way, Americans. Our comprehensive immigration strategy should include abolishing ICE and reinvesting in effective citizenship programs.

What This Will Do For Us

By establishing a human-centered and inclusionary immigration policy, we can continue to celebrate and protect the essential role of immigrants in our nation’s past, present and future, which makes our country great – in numbers, strength, diversity, economy, and community. 

This work ensures that our country continues to be grounded in dignity, justice, and equity. I will fight to secure everyone’s equal access to live, work and pursue the American Dream. The prosperity of immigrants and that of the United States is directly related. We lead by example, welcoming more communities into the American story, securing our prosperity for generations to come. 

Click here to find immigration legal resources on assisting Afghans in the U.S.