Expanding our State Immigration Work

FWD.us is excited to expand our state-based immigration work
/By  Alida Garcia, Vice President (Advocacy)

For nearly six years, FWD.us has been proud to work with incredible lawmakers, business leaders, advocates, and individuals and families directly impacted by our immigration system to achieve policy changes that our nation needs and deserves. Our current system is badly broken, hurting millions of American families and hindering our competitiveness in a global economy. We have been proud of the hard-fought progress we have made to protect DACA recipients, prevent cuts to our country’s existing legal immigration channels, and build a foundation for future successes, particularly in the last two years given the Trump Administration’s harmful and fast-paced anti-immigrant agenda. Our long-term goal is and will remain finding a comprehensive solution that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals who already call our country home, along with smart border security measures.

This year, we are expanding our focus in some key locations to include immigration policy work at the state level in a number of key regions. Broadening our focus means that we can work on critical issues that affect millions of American families, and that we can help deepen our impact as we work concurrently on immigration issues at the federal level. We believe that stronger state policies and our work to fight for these policies alongside local partners is a key step to building to the comprehensive immigration reform we know our nation needs.

In New York, our goals include passing a bill to expand driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. This policy change would make it easier for 800,000 individuals to get to work and school safely, help boost family incomes and New York’s economy, and provide stability and certainty for undocumented residents in their daily lives. We also want to help finally pass the New York State Dream Act, so that hardworking young Dreamers can better access higher education and pursue careers in the only country most know as home.

In Florida, we’ll be working to protect important policies in what we fear may be an increasingly anti-immigrant climate in the state. We will fight to ensure we preserve the availability of in-state tuition for Florida Dreamers, and defeat any bad bills that arise. We’ll continue building our in-state partnerships and working with coalition partners to lay the groundwork for additional long-term policy goals, such as driver’s licenses for undocumented individuals.

In Colorado, we will be working to expand access to driver’s licenses. Currently, while the state allows undocumented residents to obtain licenses, the program is critically underfunded with only one DMV in the entire state available to process license applications – meaning that thousands of individuals are frequently excluded from access to all the benefits that a license would mean for them and their families. We also support the creation of statewide deportation defense services, helping to keep Colorado families together under the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to target undocumented Americans with longstanding ties to the United States.

In Georgia, we’ll be working with our coalition partners and allies to spot harmful anti-immigrant bills early, and working with both Republicans and Democrats to build support for tuition equity, reversing Georgia’s unique course of failing to champion thousands of its hardworking young people’s access to higher education. We want to make sure that we are helping create new spaces for allies and to build on our existing networks to strengthen the infrastructure in the state over the long haul.

And in Texas, where the legislative session is only held every two years, we will be building for a stronger pro-immigration stakeholder and legislator activation for the long-term, including protecting access to in-state tuition, which has been critical to thousands of Texas Dreamers since the state led the nation in establishing tuition equity.

There are many extraordinary advocacy organizations, faith and community leaders, educators and entrepreneurs who are already doing foundational work in these states and others, and we look forward to building on the incredible foundation they have laid. We continue to believe that passing comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, including a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in and contributing to our country, is vital, and we remain unwavering in our commitment to this north star goal. We also know that building capacity and enacting reform at the state level will not only help to improve the lives of immigrants in these states, but also foster the groundswell of support and political power needed finally to get comprehensive reform across the finish line. We look forward to expanding our work in these states as we to fight for the immigration system our nation deserves, and continue to move America forward.

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