Immigration Reform remains a priority for Democrats in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

Attorney Emily Brown J.D. Via: Longboat Key Democratic Club

Last week Democrats from Manatee and Sarasota counties joined a forum on immigration reform with the Longboat Key Democratic Club to look for solutions to addressing one of the most contentious issues in state and national politics.

Attorney Emily Brown said 11 million undocumented immigrants are facing problems ranging from deportations, labor exploitation and family separation. But the parents and grandparents of many current US citizens came to the US prior to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, when following certain procedures to obtain legal documentation became the norm.

“So it did much more used to be that you just got on a boat. Particularly I mean, if you were from Europe, in particular, you got on a boat. And if you made it here, you know, you were in, it didn’t really matter if you had a family member, or if you could show that you weren’t going to become a public charge. Or, you know, if you could, you didn’t have to say that you were afraid to stay in Italy, or Germany or wherever.”

But she said not all immigrants had it so easy

“Now, granted, there were restrictions in some parts of the world. So, you know, if you were Chinese and you tried to come here, you probably wouldn’t be allowed in pre 1965. And so it was really only after the 1965 Act, that you saw immigration become more of like a worldwide phenomenon where it wasn’t just like all Asian people are going to be kept out, we only want Europeans. So in some ways, things got easier for certain people after 1965, after Nazis divided and stuff, but for some people, you know, it got more restrictive.”

She said it would violate international law to refuse asylum to those seeking it.

“To the extent that some people want to just turn those people away. That’s not only morally wrong, but it also, you know, violates one of the fundamental principles that we have, and that is in international law that people have the right to seek asylum if they’re afraid to go back to their home country.”

She said that with a Republican majority in Congress, but a Democratic majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely we’ll see compromise any time soon, but she says Biden can still take action.

“There’s also you know, ways in which the President could just direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain fewer people to require alternatives to detention, like ankle monitoring, or phone checking systems which have shown to be highly effective. And there are ways in which the government could prioritize certain people for deportation and deprioritize others. So basically increasing the types and numbers of people who are going to be eligible for this prosecutorial discretion to dismiss their removal cases.”

The President can also stop encouraging local law enforcement to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For more information check


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