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New Era Immigration Plan

“Perhaps no state has benefited more from the courage and contributions of immigrants than Texas. I spent a decade working alongside immigrants that lost their fingers, their limbs, and their lives building our homes, schools, and roadways. This is the cost of an immigration system that is willing to accept the labor of undocumented workers but not their full humanity. My vision is a new era on immigration that is fair, humane, protects American and immigrant workers, and most importantly keeps families together- making our communities and our country stronger.” 

– Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

New Era Immigration Plan

Over 1.5 million Texans are undocumented, and there are an estimated 192,000 Texans who are eligible DREAMers. Texan immigrants build our homes, teach in our classrooms, and strengthen our economy. Yet Trump and the GOP have pursued a ruthless agenda that dehumanizes immigrants at every turn. These politics of hate have had tragic consequences– including the recent massacre in El Paso. Our current immigration system is outdated, cruel and ineffective– but Texas can lead our country from some of our darkest days towards a future where everyone has the opportunity to prosper.

In our democracy, big corporations hold too much power and influence over our representatives. That’s why nothing has changed on immigration for years– because it benefits big industry to continue exploiting undocumented labor, and to pit immigrant and American workers against each other. The same big industries that donate millions in PAC money to politicians like John Cornyn. For too long, we’ve let the GOP control the narrative on immigration, so we must be completely clear about the current system: it doesn’t help American workers, it doesn’t make American families safer, and it doesn’t live up to our values. The only people who gain from our current immigration system are corporations and the politicians who receive their donations.

Cristina spent over a decade advocating for the interests of American-born and immigrant workers in the largest employer of undocumented labor in Texas: the construction industry. Through this work, she saw first-hand that the struggles for immigration reform and worker’s rights are one and the same. Under our current immigration system, industries profit from the exploitation of undocumented labor and from their subsequent ability to subject American-born workers to the same low wages and dangerous working conditions. In a time of extreme division within our country, the topic of immigration can be a unique point of unity. That’s because American-born and immigrant workers are in this together. 

Cristina’s vision is a new era on immigration– one that fully recognizes the humanity of immigrants and that pursues justice for all workers. We have a shared future and a better country that we can build together. Here’s how we do it: 

  • Modernize our Immigration System for the 21st Century
  • Protect the Rights of American-born and Immigrant Workers
  • Restore Human Rights to our Immigration System 
  • Address the Root Causes of Migration

Modernize our Immigration System for the 21st Century

Our country’s immigration system- which includes a backlog of over one million immigration cases– needs to be modernized for the 21st century. We must overhaul our system in a way that fills our labor needs effectively and efficiently while honoring our long tradition of family-based immigration, because our communities and country are stronger when we keep families together.

We can either continue building a mass detention and deportation system – an expensive, cruel, and inhumane system that does nothing to address the root causes of migration – or we can keep families together and provide the millions of hardworking and honest immigrants that have been part of our communities for years a path to legal status. The choice is clear.

As Senator, Cristina supports updating our immigration system by:

  • Immediately addressing the status of the millions of people currently living in limbo, extending citizenship to DREAMers and legalizing the status of the millions of hardworking and honest immigrants with no violent criminal history that have been part of our communities for years.
  • Create a pathway to citizenship for those with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients, who are fleeing armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other dangerous situations in their home countries.
  • Expanding the number of paths to legal status by using technology and projection models to increase the visa cap to a level that will meet our labor needs.
  • Fully fund the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure that staffing levels meet the need to address backlogs and speed up processing times for those wishing to immigrate to our country. 

Protect the Rights of American-born and Immigrant Workers

Cristina knows that when we strengthen and recognize the rights of immigrant workers, we improve the lives of all workers. So long as we continue to criminalize undocumented workers, industries will exploit their legal status, keeping wages low and working conditions poor for all workers while facing few consequences. 

Instead of focusing on protecting the rights of workers, Trump and Cornyn have chosen to spread fear of immigrants, spending billions on an ineffective wall, on tent camps and detention facilities that keep asylum seekers in unsafe conditions, and on immigration raids that separate families and devastate our communities. In 2018, Congress allocated $24 billion dollars to immigration enforcement, which is more than 10 times what we spend to enforce critical labor laws that protect the rights of 146 million American workers. 

As Senator, Cristina will protect the rights of all workers by:

  • Redirecting funding from our bloated Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget to power agencies that enforce labor protections, such as the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA & EEOC). Cuts should come from divisions such as the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division, which contributes to a culture of fear and criminalization of immigrants.
  • Enacting whistleblower protections for immigrant workers who report abusive employers, such as those proposed in the POWER Act
  • Centering the power of working people by providing pathways to legally fill our labor needs through a system of Transnational Labor Citizenship that enables workers to enter the country and fill our labor needs with the protections of union contracts at home and abroad.

Restore Human Rights to our Immigration System

We must restore human rights to our immigration system and stop criminalizing immigrant families. We should not be spending billions of taxpayer dollars separating families and holding as many as 55,000 people in detention every day as punishment for seeking a better life here. Instead, we should ensure that migrants have a meaningful opportunity to seek a home here. Our immigration system is at its best when we focus on family unification– on building the strongest possible communities which will strengthen our country. Cristina supports humanizing our immigration system by:

  • Ending the criminalization of migration and asylum-seeking by repealing section 1325, which has allowed Trump to separate families. We should decriminalize border crossings and allow asylum seekers and migrants to stay in the country while they await their court hearings.
  • Completely reversing Trump’s family separation policy by reuniting families and allowing those impacted to have a meaningful opportunity to seek asylum.  
  • Ensuring that our immigration policies reflect our values by centering family-based migration, which allows families to stay together, in line with previous long-standing policy before Trump.
  • Ending for-profit detention centers, so that corporations do not have a profit-incentive to keep migrants and asylum seekers locked up.
  • Ensuring that state and local law enforcement agencies do not conduct immigration enforcement operations so that immigrants that are victims of crime can safely report them to law enforcement without fear of retaliation, which will make all our communities safer.

Address the Root Causes of Migration

John Cornyn and Trump believe that declaring an emergency and diverting $3.8 billion from the military towards a border wall will solve the immigration crisis, but an expensive and ugly wall will not address the root causes of migration. People migrate when they feel they have no other choice due to political, social, or economic circumstances. Cristina knows that what we need are solutions that focus on partnering with other countries to address the root causes of migration so that people are not forced to leave their homes.

As Senator, Cristina will fight to:

  • Restore the aid the Trump Administration has cut to Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador.
  • Pursue trade policies that raise the living standards for all working people by bringing unions, farmers, and climate experts to the negotiation table. 
  • Address the climate crisis now, including re-entering the Paris Climate Accord, in order to prevent future displacement. Cristina will work with our allies worldwide to invest in climate change action and build resilient communities.
  • Change our approach towards drug addiction. By legalizing marijuana, decriminalizing addiction, and emphasizing treatment, we will not only see better outcomes for Americans impacted by addiction, but we can also undermine the power of the drug cartels that fuel violence which drives people from their homes.