Vice President Kamala Harris’s statement in Guatemala was tone deaf and real immigration reform should be front and center of the agenda of President Joe Biden’s administration, feel civil rights activists and those caught in the system.
The “do not come” messaging from Harris was disappointing, said Sruti Suryanarayanan, research & communications associate at the civil rights organization SAALT.
“Our communities — and in turn, our country — should not be focused on barring people from safety and security, but instead on providing them with sustained support to escape violence and persecution,” Suryanarayanan told indica News.
She said: “Vice President Harris’s response, in this context, is disappointing and fails to acknowledge the fact that our communities have, time and time again, made the commitment to stand with our refugee and asylum-seeking siblings.”
Suryanarayanan pointed the words of US Representative Ilhan Omar that American intervention around the world is also a major driver of forced migration. “It is our role, as a community and as a nation, to welcome all people with compassion, care, and solidarity,” Suryanarayanan said.
Chirayu Patel, a DACA recipient, however, felt that Harris’s statement was misconstrued to an extent.
“Her statement was not saying people cannot claim asylum,” Patel, who found out about his legal status while applying for university, told indica News. “Her statement was a message to the people, do not make the journey and risk traveling through Central America to Mexico to the US.”
Patel felt Vice President Harris should focus on a more aggrieve push by the administration to have Congress act on the American Dream and Promise Act that would legalize the DREAMers. It is currently being analyzed by the US Senate.
“Congress needs to really push and administration should use their platform quickly to pass the US Citizenship Act of 2021,” Patel said.
“The issue is of 11 million undocumented immigrants that have been here for more than 30 years. I think this issue should be there front and center,” he added.
“I hope President Biden, Vice president Harris and Congress would focus on [immigration] especially — if they want to solve the problem.”
“The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001. The Congress knows that, the President knows that and the Vice President knows that. And that’s what should they be focusing on,” Patel said.
“At the end of the day, legislation is needed. We already had executive order under the Obama administration.”