WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement today ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:
“Tomorrow, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the next President and Vice President of the United States of America. This historic moment represents a new opportunity to move our country forward, both through action from the White House and also through the new leadership in Congress. We look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle, as well as with the new Administration, to transform our immigration and criminal justice systems.
“While immediately correcting or rolling back the worst abuses of the Trump Administration is critical, true progress requires courage and a sustained effort to erase the deeply harmful inequities that plague our communities. The deadly insurrection at the Capitol two weeks ago once again laid bare how America does and does not deploy state force, violence, expulsion and incarceration — and that the fundamental American struggle over who the United States exists for remains a fight we must enter into daily. That means our north star goal cannot be just a return to a status quo of a few years prior, or small changes, but rather policy change that upholds the best of what our country must be.
“For immigrants, whose demonization defined the Trump presidency, that progress starts with ensuring a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented community, including millions of essential workers on the front lines of the response and recovery to COVID-19. It must also extend to ensuring protections for people fleeing violence and persecution, repealing the most damaging Trump-era policies at the border that blocked asylum claims, and taking bold action to establish a new, humane system to better keep families safe and together while managing migration across the region. Not only are these policies essential to our public health and economic recovery, but they will keep families together, and help ensure all of our communities are safe, secure, and more prosperous. They must be a top priority for the new Biden Administration as they work to reform our immigration system.
“For communities of color, and specifically Black people across America, progress means aggressively and proactively addressing the devastating effects of systematic racism, particularly in our criminal justice system. What we heard from millions who took to the streets over the summer, as part of a movement that continues today, is that freedom, justice, and safety collapse when they are placed in competition with each other. That true public safety cannot be achieved in the United States until we reckon with the ways the criminal justice system has devastated Black people, Black families, and Black communities, and until we commit to advance policies and investments that defend Black lives. And that will require a collective action to dramatically downsize the scale and influence of the American criminal justice system – from police to prosecution to prisons at the federal, state and local levels. We also call on the new Administration to be extra vigilant in avoiding old traps, and to ensure that long overdue efforts to tackle the harmful and racially disparate impacts of the American criminal justice system are extended to the immigration system, where too often damaging criminal justice policies have been reinforced and reproduced.
“Tomorrow’s inauguration represents one step down a new path, but unless we deliberately and aggressively continue down this road, and affirmatively protect those most harmed and disenfranchised across our country, we will slip back. We will revert to a status quo where tens of millions of people are left behind as we recover from the coronavirus crisis. Where millions are denied basic freedom and the ability to fully contribute to their communities and provide for their families. Where millions are separated from their families. And it will make us all less and will hold back our country from recovering and achieving our full potential.
“In the days to come we must take the next step, and the step after that, until we finally achieve the freedom, liberty, and justice that our nation has failed to deliver for far too many, for far too long.”