President Donald Trump garnered much of the attention of corporate television networks and major newspapers after he unveiled a sweeping immigration proposal Thursday, but it was Rep. Ilhan Omar who presented what one activist described as the "only immigration plan worth hearing about" that day.
Omar told immigrant rights advocates gathered for an "America Welcomes" rally in Washington, D.C., that Trump's plan—which was reportedly crafted by advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner—would have a "devastating impact on millions of people around the world," an assessment echoed by rights groups.
"It is critical that we send a strong message that we will not tolerate an immigration system that devalues lives of immigrants or fuels the administration's hate-filled narrative."
—Rep. Ilhan Omar
"I'm here today because we live in a country that was founded on the idea of justice, of liberty, and of the pursuit of happiness," said the Minnesota congresswoman. "But those core beliefs, these ideas, are being threatened by this administration."
Offering a humane alternative to Trump's plan, Omar outlined an agenda that would slash funding to the government agencies carrying out the president's xenophobic policies and open America's doors to more people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.
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"We should be welcoming immigrants into our country and providing them a simple and accessible path to becoming documented, not treating them like criminals or dehumanizing them by calling them 'animals,'" Omar said from a podium stationed in front of a replica Statue of Liberty. "The story of immigrants is the story of America, and the fate of America's immigrants is the fate of our nation."
We unveiled a Statue of Liberty replica in DC as a reminder to everyone that our immigration policies must be rooted in dignity, human rights, and respect. Thank you @MoveOn, @UnitedWeDream, and @fams2gether for your solidarity and for hosting this event. pic.twitter.com/wfHfy9q7Vd
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 16, 2019
To create a just immigration system, Omar said:
- We need to make sure that we cut, and not put increases, on spending on detention facilities;
- We need to stop using DHS as a slush fund;
- We need to abolish ICE and end all inhumane deportation and detention programs;
- We need to fight back against the criminalization of immigrants and those crossing the border;
- We need to create a fair and accessible path to legal status and citizenship for all undocumented people in the United States;
- We need to pass a clean DREAM Act that also creates a pathway to permanent status for Dreamers and their families;
- And at a time when climate change is making droughts and famines worse, resources scarcer, and refugee crises more dire, we need to admit more and not less refugees.
"It is critical that we send a strong message that we will not tolerate an immigration system that devalues lives of immigrants or fuels the administration's hate-filled narrative," said Omar. "So I am ready to stand with you to reject Trump's mass deportation plans, and to stand with immigrants as we fight for a more just, humane immigration system."