The Decriminalizing Communities Coalition has come together to fight against the shared violence of the criminal justice system and the immigration enforcement system. We have come together to work toward a vision of community that embraces the differences between us--where all people receive respect, compassion, and justice, regardless of race, religion, immigration status, or criminal record--and where every individual can be free and safe from state sanctioned violence and hate.
This is far from how our system operates now. Instead of a pathway to a better life, the criminalization of our immigration system has instead created an environment of fear and dehumanization. Instead of a pathway to responsibility and transformation, the criminalization of our justice system has eroded the ability of our “public safety” systems to keep anyone safe.
Indeed, the systems of immigration enforcement and criminal justice are interrelated--two weapons in the same dangerous arsenal of criminalization. Both subvert humanity and replace it with otherness - the immigrant becomes the illegal alien, and the incarcerated becomes the felon. Both tear families apart and make communities less safe, whether by immigration detention or by confinement in jails and prisons. Both lead people--whether immigrants or citizens--to be stereotyped, scapegoated, and violated because of something they share: the color of their skin. And both objectify and criminalize the bodies and lives of our poor, Black, Brown, and Indigenous siblings - at the end of the barrel of a gun. While the enforcers of these two systems may look different, the violence doled out as punishment is the same.
We intend to dismantle these systems as they operate now by standing for humanity and community. It is time to abolish Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the national level and for our state and county governments to stop participating in immigration enforcement. It is time for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to end the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program targeting Muslim Communities and for our local governments to reject this Islamophobic program for what it truly is. It is time for the criminal justice system nationally and locally to be completely re-imagined. It is time for the massive amount of public resources and dollars that currently go toward repressing our communities to go toward supporting them instead.
Our immigration system should be a pathway to a better life and a safe haven for those fleeing from dangerous and politically unstable situations. We envision a system that sees immigrants and refugees as integral parts of our community - not as a burden or a threat. We envision a system that welcomes the refugee; the asylum seeker; the families seeking safety, prosperity, and a new life. We envision a system that acknowledges our shared humanity and rejects xenophobia, jingoism, hate, and political violence.
Our criminal justice system should be a place where those who have committed violence and those who have suffered from violence can be healed and restored. We envision a system that is community-centered - a system that prioritizes justice as well as public health and wellness. We envision a system that emphasizes rehabilitation, drug treatment, mental health care, and community and culturally based services. We envision a system that teaches both accountability and compassion to those who have harmed others.
We are here, side by side, as citizens and non-citizens, as immigrants and those born here, as people of various faith traditions and ethnic backgrounds, to say that “No Human Being is Illegal.” “No Ser Humano es Ilegal.” Instead, we believe in the dignity and respect of all people, wherever their birthplace and whatever their circumstances, and we will work toward the creation of a community based in those values.
We are Decriminalizing Communities and we stand together