Press Release

NAKASEC Opposes “Smart Fences” and Expanded Criminal Exclusions in FY22 Budget Reconciliation Legislation

By September 1, 2021 No Comments

September 1, 2021

CONTACT: Michelle Liang | michelle@nakasec.org 

 

NAKASEC Opposes “Smart Fences” and Expanded Criminal Exclusions in FY22 Budget Reconciliation Legislation

 

For the past few decades, major progressive pieces of immigration legislation have been poisoned by the inclusion of anti-immigrant policies, such as increased funding for border security, or expanded carve-outs on who is eligible to apply for newly legislated pathways to citizenship. In 2021, we are facing a historic opportunity to pass legislation for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been awaiting relief for decades- and, remarkably, with only a simple majority vote through the process of budget reconciliation. As such, we as a nation have the responsibility to ensure that this historic and major piece of legislation is free of any anti-immigrant policies. 

Some policies that we consider to be destructive compromises are:

  • Restrictions on who can apply for the expanded adjustment of status on the basis of interactions with the criminal justice system. Specifically, the standalone immigration legislation proposals of 2021 layer new and unprecedented criminal exclusions on top of already horrific bars in current immigration law. We urge that the reconciliation package omit the criminal provisions from the 2021 immigration legislation proposals.
  • So-called “smart surveillance” methods of immigration enforcement that utilize invasive digital and biometric tools to track, deter, and punish migrants.

We are deeply concerned about efforts to pair a pathway to citizenship with “public safety” policies via the $107.5 billion allocated to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, in addition to $37 billion and $500 million to the Senate and House Committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, respectively. 

The Biden administration and Democratic Party have long supported “smart and effective” border security- even a “smart wall”- as supposedly more humane than Trump’s infamous wall. Yet, biometric scanning, DNA databases, and drone surveillance are more enduring and invasive than traditional forms of enforcement, driving migrants towards much more dangerous and deadly methods of crossing the border. This “smart” technology will cause even more deaths in the desert and along the border, and severely restrain freedom of movement. Given the fact that hundreds of migrants die every year crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the bipartisan push for more border militarization is appalling. This so-called “smart technology” then trickles from the border to policing communities of color, such as Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. 

When billions of dollars are spent on border security, the only parties that end up winning are weapons contractors. So-called “smart technology,” drones, and surveillance technology derive from corporations who provide weapons to war zones and conflict areas like the Middle East, such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop, General Dynamics, and Elbit Systems. We demand the end to this endless cycle of graft in which every advancement towards a pathway to citizenship for all is counterbalanced by aggressive investment in weapons and surveillance contracts.

Democrats’ current stance in relation to “smart technology” would seem to reflect that their opposition to Trump’s border wall was only performative, and that they support even harsher and more far-right border policy. However, we know that we are facing this political moment to pass a $3.5 trillion bill with a pathway to citizenship only because of the collective efforts of our elected officials, impacted communities and movement organizers, and allies. It is because of this that we believe in and call upon your leadership in this moment.

 

The NAKASEC Network represents Asian Americans and undocumented immigrants with a variety of immigration statuses, ages, and dates of arrival. We oppose increased border enforcement, including so-called “smart technology,” and anti-immigrant policies that privilege some immigrant communities at the expense of others. This is a historic opportunity to pass immigration change with a simple majority vote, and we urge you to take public leadership in fighting against attempts to pair a pathway to citizenship with unnecessary anti-immigrant policies.