House Republican touts ‘Dignity Act’ bill claiming to make path to legalization, but don’t be fooled

A South Florida Republican has introduced an immigration bill she’s touting as “The Dignity Act.” Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar claims the legislation will “provide a dignified solution to immigrants currently living in the US.” On its surface, it would appear to make Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar a rarity of sorts, a Republican putting forward a pathway to legalization.

But don’t be fooled. Experts and immigrant rights advocates note that the path to legalization in Salazar’s bill is a “dead end,” thanks to the ridiculous standards it sets—which Republicans will make sure can never be met. Advocates note the bill is, in reality, a re-election ploy for Salazar, who voted against the insurrectionist president’s impeachment.

“We appreciate that some House Republicans support a path to citizenship (which the American public wants), but Rep. Salazar's bill as written is seriously flawed,” noted American Immigration Council policy counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “For example, the path to citizenship is a dead end thanks to a border security ‘trigger’ that will never be met.”

Roll Call reports that this “trigger” ensures border security “is emphasized first before any other bill measures are implemented,” including that path to legalization. The problem here is that Republicans will never, ever, especially under a Democratic administration, publicly say the border is secure. Remember, the Biden administration has kept some of the previous administration’s worst asylum policies in place, and the GOP is still screaming “open borders.” 

Reichlin-Melnick also notes another provision could likely scare away prospective applicants, rather than encouraging them to step forward to gain relief for themselves and their families. 

“The Salazar bill would make it a federal crime to be undocumented for more than 90 days if you're an adult. As a result, anyone who wanted to apply for the path to citizenship would be risking prison by applying. That's one example of what I meant by ‘seriously flawed.’”

It’s also a dead-end because Kevin McCarthy has said so, previously promising racist rag Breitbart that he’ll kill any immigration legislation should he become speaker. “Unless and until McCarthy and other GOPers stop kissing the nativist ring, the Rep. Salazar bill is dead on arrival and designed for optics, not as a real proposal,” America’s Voice notes

Salazar is also promoting this “Dignity” ploy as Republicans in her state are aiding Gov. Ron DeSantis’ despicable anti-child agenda. In recent weeks, both chambers of the state legislature have advanced hateful bills targeting asylum-seeking children and other migrants.

“In Arizona, Mark Brnovich, the state Attorney General and a candidate for the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, called immigration into the state an ‘invasion’ in a legal opinion he issued this week justifying Arizona’s ability to send troops to the border,” America’s Voice continued. “And national Republican candidates and official party committees continue to run hard on nativist tropes and lies.”

Salazar is pushing her ploy as the House has already passed legislation putting millions of undocumented people onto a path to legalization. The Dream and Promise Act, as well as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, passed nearly a year ago under Democratic leadership and support from some GOP votes. 

Salazar could just push her party in both chambers to line up behind those bills, but then that would mean a realistic path to legalization. You know, actual “dignity.”

“It’s not that Rep. Salazar is naive about the rest of the Republican Party and their open embrace of nativism,” America’s Voice deputy director Vanessa Cardenas said. “Instead of taking on those forces in her Party, she is in concert with those same forces and enables them by seeking to launder the Republican brand for select diverse districts ahead of the midterms, while seeking to blame Democrats for legislative inaction on immigration reform blocked by Republicans.”

RELATED: GOP-led Florida House committee advances Ron DeSantis' anti-child agenda

RELATED: House passes path to citizenship for DACA recipients, temporary status holders, and farmworkers

Cages installed outside Iowa caucus sites remind public to not look away from anti-immigrant abuses

Iowans on their way to caucus in Des Moines on Monday may encounter a reminder from a leading immigrant and refugee rights advocacy group: in the midst of the Republican Senate’s sham impeachment trial, threats of war with Iran, and other imperial presidency horrors, abuses at our southern border and in detention facilities across the U.S. continue. 

“We put up a dozen chain-link cages in the city, placing them outside caucus sites, media offices, and other prominent places in the city, like city hall,” RAICES said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “These cages have fake children inside covered with mylar blankets, symbolizing the children jailed in detention along the border and throughout the country. Each cage includes a #DontLookAway sign and plays an actual recording from a child who was kept in detention.”

RAICES, which in 2018 donated millions to assist in the reunification of families separated by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, seeks to keep a focus on anti-immigrant policies that, in just a few examples, have jailed record numbers of people in inhumane Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities (and in direct defiance of congressional limits), contributed to the in-custody deaths of a number of children and other vulnerable populations, and blocked the U.S. and international rights of asylum-seekers.

“We’re doing this as the administration has broken records in immigration detention by keeping up to 55,000 people jailed at once, and has sent back more than 60,000 people to Mexico to await their asylum hearings in conditions that are utterly depraved, as we have been documenting for months,” RAICES continued in the statement. “We’re doing this as the Trump administration has quadrupled workplace raids that target people holding a job and paying taxes in this country.”

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This isn’t the first time RAICES has used installations to call attention to the rights of immigrants and refugees. At the 2019 South by Southwest Convention, the group recreated the notorious “ice boxes” where migrants are initially held by Border Patrol, and then later that year installed cages across New York City. “We’re replicating the action in Des Moines at the height of the most anticipated caucus in modern history,” RAICES said. “We’re doing this because almost no politicians in this country are laser-focused on immigration. While some do far better than others, the horror at our border still goes ignored far too often, absent from the policy debates and statements from elected officials.”

But our nation’s immigration system doesn’t have to be this way. The group points to its Migrant Justice Platform, which pushes for major changes to our current and unjust system, including “a full moratorium on deportations, an end to immigrant detention, citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people in the country, demilitarization of the border, the dismantling of ICE and CBP, and the formation of truth and reconciliation committees examining the human rights abuses committed against immigrants by past administrations,” the group said.

“The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians,” chief advocacy officer Erika Andiola said in the statement. “We’re asking people in Iowa and across the country: Don’t look away from the terrors enacted in your name. Don’t look away from the kids in cages, the asylum-seekers turned back at our border, the deportation raids destroying communities across the country. This anti-immigrant crackdown has to end.”