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Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center

This morning, our path to achieving justice for immigrants has new clarity, and hope. Americans have re-elected President Obama mere months after his administration launched an historic initiative to offer protection to undocumented youth, while rejecting candidates who espoused harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. Exit polls show that high turnout by Latino and Asian American voters was critical to the president’s re-election, and there are signs that the president is heeding their call: in his victory speech, President Obama told Americans that repairing the broken immigration system was a priority for his second term.

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is prepared to hold the president to his word. His administration must move forward on long-promised solutions to repair our country’s immigration system.
In the next four years, NIJC will work to further the following priorities:
  • Create opportunities for families to remain together. We must build on the foundation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to expand protections for all immigrants and press for the administration to issue regulations that enable immigrants applying for permanent status to remain in the United States with their families during this lengthy process. 
  • End harsh enforcement and detention. NIJC’s ongoing litigation challenges the government’s Secure Communities program and use of detainers, both responsible for a dramatic increase in deportations during President Obama’s first term. We will continue our efforts to expose and end human rights violations in the detention system and advocate for Congress to decrease funding for detention space and increase funding for alternatives to detention.
  • Defend the rights of LGBT immigrants. Voters affirmed the country’s growing understanding of LGBT equality, opening significant opportunities to achieve recognition and protection of all LGBT families and to end human rights abuses against LGBT immigrants.
  • Protect the rights of immigrant women. NIJC will continue to advocate to improve laws to protect immigrant women, most urgently by doing whatever it takes to ensure Congress passes a Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill that protects all women.
NIJC is inspired by the thousands of immigrants and families we represent every year, whose stories and courage keep us focused on our mission to improve access to justice and human rights for all. We are hopeful and determined to achieve significant progress toward that goal during President Obama’s second term.