By Hassan Jaber, executive director of ACCESS, and Nadia Tonova, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities
President Obama did the right thing today by agreeing to block deportation of thousands of undocumented young people who came to this country as children. We congratulate the President and his administration on this bold decision – a move we have long supported — which should enable some 800,000 people to remain with their families instead of being sent to countries that many of them don’t know or can’t remember. We believe this choice aligns with the fundamental values of our nation to treat people with humanity and dignity, and we encourage prompt and efficient implementation of this decision so that it provides the most relief possible.
Today’s announcement moves us forward toward the imperative of fair, comprehensive immigration reform that must achieve a just solution for the 10 million undocumented immigrants whose lives and families are torn apart by a patchwork of dysfunctional policies and laws and mass deportation programs like Secure Communities and 287(g). We must ensure that the many hardworking immigrants that contribute to make this a great nation remain united as families as they are provided a pathway to citizenship. Many of these people fled their countries out of desperation, seeking human and civil rights and economic survival. They live among us as our industrious, active, engaged friends and neighbors, and yet many also live in constant fear of being caught and deported. It’s time for the President to openly recognize and act upon our nation’s desperate need to move forward with justice and humanity for the resolution of this complex problem. Today’s announcement is a commendable first step toward this goal.
Grounded in the Arab American tradition of hospitality, ACCESS has a 41-year history of providing social, health, education and employment services in greater Detroit to empower people to lead healthy, informed, productive lives. Today, ACCESS extends that mission to a national platform through advocacy, arts, culture and philanthropy.