To: DNC Platform Committee

DNC Platform Committee, Don’t Let Mass Incarceration Exclude Immigrants from Reform

As you draft the Democratic Party’s political platform, do not exclude immigrants who have been victims of mass incarceration policies from immigration reform proposals. Remove any barriers for immigrants with criminal convictions to reintegrate into their communities and make sure that reforms taking place in the criminal justice system also apply to immigration enforcement and detention policies.

Why is this important?

In recent months, the President and a bipartisan coalition have spearheaded a conversation on the need to reform a criminal justice system that acts as the new Jim Crow. The efforts say we have strayed from being a “nation of second chances.”

The Democratic candidates have promised to address the mass incarceration that discriminates against Black and Latino communities and sentences people to cruel and lengthy punishment.

But during the same time period immigration policy has actually moved in the opposite direction, widening the categories of convictions that place people in the crosshairs for detention, deportation and falsely claiming to focus on “felons not families.”

For non-citizens and undocumented people, it doesn’t just impact people’s time in courts and jail. Instead of being able to reintegrate into their communities, contact with the criminal justice system can mean the double punishment of doing time and then being transferred to a second sentence in detention and eventually deported.

With the Party expected to draft a platform that addresses both mass incarceration and promotes immigration reform, the platform committee has an opportunity and responsibility to ensure that someone’s experience with the one doesn’t result in unjust exclusion from the other.

In Georgia, Juan has a felony conviction on his record for driving without a license. In Arizona, Noemi has a felony conviction for working to be able to afford to apply for DACA, the deportation relief program for immigrant youth. Right now, Jose Juan is in sanctuary in a church on Chicago’s Southside because ICE refuses to evaluate his case beyond a felony DUI he received years ago, a felony only because he did not have a driver’s license at the time.

Instead of stigmatizing immigrants who have previous contact with the criminal justice system and putting them in further jeopardy, drop the box from immigration reform policies and make sure that everyone who calls the US home has access to the papers that make it official.

Read more:
Huffington Post: Nation of Second Chances or Double Standards

Are Criminal Justice Policies and Immigration Reform at Odds?

A Price to High: Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses