Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12120666 (posted Apr. 14, 2014)"
April 14, 2014
New Republic reports on the practice by the Department of Homeland Security of deporting immigrants without a hearing: “Deported Without Seeing A Judge: One of the Worst Parts of the Immigration System.”
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is getting creative in his quest to keep foreign entrepreneurs who attended higher education in his state. The Governor’s proposal “is aimed at making the visa process easier for entrepreneurs by getting around the H-1B cap through a loophole in the system. Institutions of higher learning are exempt from the H-1B visa cap and can apply for visas for their employees at any point throughout the year, which means foreign graduates who are employed by higher-ed institutions through Massachusetts's GER program would, in theory, have a much better chance of securing a visa then they would if they applied for one as part of the private sector.”
Howard Dean Bailey tells his heartbreaking story of deportation in Politico Magazine. A veteran of the Navy, with a U.S. citizen wife and two children, Bailey, a green card holder, was deported because of a decades old nonviolent drug conviction. After spending two years in detention he is now in Jamaica, having never visited that country since leaving as a 17 year old, 30 years prior. He comments, “It’s still so hard for me to understand how I wound up here. I served in the United States Navy with pride and honor; I am a husband and father; I was a business owner and a homeowner. I made a mistake, but that was 19 years ago and I never made another.” He continues, “I’ve met judges and immigration officials who said that they wanted to help. I believe they felt compassion for me. But all of them said their hands were tied by Congress’s mandatory detention and deportation laws and the Obama administration’s enforcement ‘priorities.’”
April 11, 2014
Yesterday, hundreds of AILA members took to Capitol Hill for the National Day of Action. AILA members and their clients met with over 350 Congressional offices and heard from Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Leahy (D-VT), and Reps. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Gutierrez (D-IL), Garcia (D-FL), and Honda (D-CA) during lunch. See AILA's Facebook page for pictures from the event.
In the least surprising news of the day, sixteen Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing concern about "when ICE releases criminal immigrants onto the streets." The Members included Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), among others.
April 10, 2014
The Hill reports today that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is questioning some advocates' decision (including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus) to turn the pressure on the administration to halt deportations. "That's a gift to the Republicans. Because the fact is, the Republicans are never going to move unless they think there's a price to play politically for not bringing the bill to the floor. I see the pain and suffering of the deportations. But the answer, the medicine for every ill in the deportations is to pass comprehensive immigration reform." This comes after Pelosi blamed race for the hold up on immigration reform earlier that day: "I think race has something to do with the fact that (the GOP House leadership) are not bringing up an immigration bill."
The New York Times today reports on the "increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify."
Sundays this April Al Jazeera America is airing a groundbreaking series focused on the southern border. "Borderlands" examines the border through the lens of the migrants that make the treacherous journey to come to the United States.
April 9, 2014
Senator Schumer (D-NY), a member of the Gang of Eight, responded to Jeb Bush's immigration comments on Morning Joe on Monday by arguing that he still has faith that the House will act on immigration reform this year. "Most people are for immigration reform. Most Republicans, they're in the vote-no, pray-yes caucus, they'd like it to pass as long as they don't have to vote for it. I still think we have a good chance of passing it this year." Senator Schumer continued, "The leadership of the [Republican] party realizes one thing, they won't do it in 2015…And [that] most certainly means they're going to lose the 2016 election."
This week, AILA member Ken Mayeaux wrote an op-ed for The Times-Picayune making the case for alternatives to detention and the end of the detention bed quota. "Just as Congress now recognizes the need for change in our criminal justice system, so too it is time for Congress to reverse the trajectory on immigration detention that began in part in Louisiana 30 years ago with the erection of an immigrant prison in the small town of Oakdale. Jailing people just to fill detention beds, especially in remote facilities without meaningful access to counsel, is not consistent with Louisianians' values of fairness."
April 8, 2014
President Obama's record on deportation continues to be under attack in the media, specifically his claims that his administration is mostly deporting criminals that fall in their priorities. Time
ran the article, "Most Immigrants Deported Under Obama Had Thin or No Criminal Record
," joining Bloomberg
who argued that "Obama Deports Thousands Senate Would Let Stay in U.S.
TRAC Immigration got in the action with their own report, "Secure Communities and ICE Deportation: A Failed Program." Some choice quotes from the report include: "If the same definitions were applied to every citizen-rather than just to noncitizens-available evidence (see TRAC's February 2012 report) suggests that the majority of U.S. citizens would be considered convicted criminals," and "More striking is that there has been an absolute decline in the number of noncitizens removed who have been convicted of any crime apart from traffic and immigration. During FY 2010 these individuals numbered 116,884. By FY 2013 they had declined to only 103,676. This means that the trumpeted increase in the number of 'convicted criminals' ICE has deported resulted entirely from jacking up the deportation of noncitizens whose most serious criminal conviction was a traffic or an immigration offense."
Yesterday, in a fact sheet titled, "Strengthening Entreprenuership at Home and Aboard," the White House made the following statement regarding the Department of Homeland Security: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon publish several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness. These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers. These measures build on continuing DHS efforts to streamline, eliminate inefficiency, and increase the transparency of the existing immigration system, such as by the launch of Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States." (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 14040841.)
April 7, 2014
The New York Times had some strong words for President Obama
on immigration in an editorial published in Sunday's paper. "If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it - soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can't, because Republicans and the law won't let me." In that same vein, Fusion
reports that a number of immigration advocates have taken up residence outside of the White House and vow to stay there until he takes action "to grant relief to families struggling with deportations."
The editorial came the same day as an article chronicling how "More Deportations Follow Minor Crimes, Records Show." "Since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent - or about 394,000 - of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show."
2016, it's starting! Potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush had some encouraging words on immigration at an event at his brother's presidential library over the weekend: "Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony; it's an act of love," he said. "It's a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid. It shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to provide for their families."
April 4, 2014
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in a follow-up to the recent calls on the President to act in the wake of Congress inaction, "approved a list of recommendations Thursday on what actions DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson could consider to carry out President Barack Obama's directive to make sure immigration enforcement policies are being applied humanely." NBCNews.com reports that the recommendations include: expanding deferred action to those who would benefit from the Senate's legalization plan and extending parole in place and humanitarian parole.
Immigration Impact explains how each of the proposed changes by the CHC would actually work.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, doesn't seem to have a lot of hope, or desire, to see the House pass any sort of immigration reform legislation that encompasses all aspects of reform. Instead he "said that Republicans would be willing to work with the White House on a plan that would tighten border enforcement, raise the number of foreign workers and help some younger immigrants legalize."
Earlier this week, in remembrance of the 6,000+ migrants who have died in search of a better life, seven bishops and Cardinal Sean O'Malley held a somber Mass in the shadow of the border fence near Nogales, Arizona. See pictures from the event at Buzzfeed.
April 3, 2014
NPR just released a new resource on the southern border, "Borderland." They explain, "We Took A 2,428-Mile Road Trip Along The Mexico Border: Here's What We Saw."
As we get closer to the April 5th day of action for the #Not1More campaign, which will call on President Obama to "turn back the deportation dragnet" as he nears the 2 million removal mark, members of the media and Congress are questioning his record on enforcement as compared to previous Presidents-and questioning the validity of the numbers being used. But, as Immigration Impact points out, "the effectiveness of immigration enforcement policies in the United States cannot simply be reduced to removal numbers. In other words, the system's functionality and fairness cannot be determined by counting how many individuals a president deports each year. An honest analysis should include an understanding of what belies the numbers, as well as a look at the human toll that is taken by the federal government's immigration enforcement strategy."
America's Voice has released an immigration scorecard for 12 key Republicans in the House who are facing tough re-election bids this year. They include Reps. Denham and Valadao from California, Gardner (who's running for the Senate) and Coffman from Colorado, and Jolly and Southerland from Florida, among others. The long and short of it? Of the five immigration related votes that the House has taken in the 113th Congress-including Rep. King's amendment to defund DACA and the ENFORCE Act-almost all of the 12 voted the wrong way every time.
Yesterday, Rep. Cardenas (D-CA) used an all-day hearing on the Republican budget proposal to force a vote on H.R. 15. Although all the Republicans on the committee voted against the amendment (with all Democrats voting in favor), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the Budget committee, seemed to acknowledge his agreement with Rep. Cardenas' point that reform is related to reducing the nation's deficit and can help to balance the budget.
A few weeks ago, Scott Corley, executive director of Compete America, a coalition of technology companies, universities and trade associations that advocates for reform of U.S. immigration policy for highly educated foreign professionals, wrote an editorial in Roll Call arguing that the "limits set by Congress on high-skilled visas are preventing jobs creation in America today." He goes on to urge Congress to "act this year to end the visa crisis and stop the loss of jobs that we are experiencing." Well earlier this week, on the H-1B filing deadline, April 1st, Sen. Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to nine of the nation's top tech firms asking them to "renew [their] commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation and to pledge that [they] will not support stand-alone legislation to increase the H-1B visa cap."
April 2, 2014
Today, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) once again took to the floor of the House to implore his Republican colleagues to take action on immigration reform. This time, however, he set an expiration date for Republicans to act-he states that if Republicans don't act by the fourth of July recess (34 legislative days), then the President will take bold action, he'll be forced to. He also urges Republicans to consider the implications of no action on immigration reform on any effort to reclaim the White House.
The Week isn't so sure that Republicans will heed Rep. Gutierrez's advice, they ask: "how bad politically must it get for Republicans before we can expect immigration reform to pass?"
Yesterday marked the filing dealing for H-1B visas, with the cap expected to be reached quickly. Lynden Melmed, chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2007 through 2009, writes about why this is so troubling for the country: "Rejecting H-1B applications impedes our economic recovery and deprives U.S. employers of the talent they need to grow their companies and compete in a global economy." The Immigration Policy Center has everything one needs to know about "H-1B Program's Impact on Wages, Jobs, and the Economy."
April 1, 2014
A new report released last week by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a restrictionist think tank, argues that "interior enforcement activity [by the Obama administration] has already declined 40 percent since the imposition of 'prosecutorial discretion' policies in 2011." Alex Nowrasteh, from the Cato Institute, pushed back against the report by arguing that "her conclusion mistakenly conflates lower numbers of unauthorized immigrant crossers with a lack of enforcement." He continued by making the case that "a decrease in interior immigration enforcement relative to increased border enforcement does not signal the end of immigration enforcement."
Immigration Impact walks through the assertions made in the CIS report and provides clarifications of the numbers used by Jessica Vaughn, the author of the report, to back up her claims.
The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Latino Donor Collaborative's have released a new report that documents "how the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America has grown exponentially over the past two decades, powering the economy during the recent recession." The report, "Better Business: How Hispanic Entrepreneurs Are Beating Expectations and Bolstering the U.S. Economy," shows Hispanic immigrants in particular are now more likely to be entrepreneurs than the average member of the U.S. population overall.
The Week magazine shares some insights into the House Republicans' political strategy going into the midterm elections they gleaned from a conversation with Washington Post Capitol Hill reporter Robert Costa. The first one being that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is trying to "sound more moderate without being too moderate," in part by suggesting "the need for at least some small steps on immigration reform."
The Boston Globe Editorial Board made a persuasive case for why "Republicans should break ranks on immigration reform." they hope that "there must be at least 19 Republicans who feel, in their hearts, that a fair and open vote on immigration reform is more important to the country than party loyalty."
March 31, 2014
Not all Democrats are lining up behind the "Discharge Petition" filed on H.R. 15 last week by Democratic leadership in the House. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) explains his reasoning for not signing the petition: "I do not believe that border security measures should be used as a condition to trigger the legalization or citizenship process. These two issues are separate and should be addressed in separate legislation. Border security measures are aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from entering this country in the future and from halting narcotics and other contraband from entering the U.S. On the other hand, a pathway to citizenship addresses the approximately 11 million undocumented people who are already in the U.S."
As of last week the petition has 171 signers, all Democrats.
The Western Growers Association (WGA) is just one example of an association that represents business interests impacted by the lack of movement on immigration reform. CEOs who are members of the WGA's Agriculture Workforce Coalition have committed to keeping pressure on the House to act on immigration reform and WGA president Tom Nassif recently came to D.C. to meet directly with Republican members of the House to urge them to pass immigration reform. Fox News Latino reported that "Nassif said his group [WGA] is withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in congressional races, an about-face from its generous support in the past."
Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington, D.C. legislative office, outlines the steps the President can take to curb deportations now. These steps include "prioritize[ing] only the deportation of individuals convicted of serious violent offenses in recent years," "instruct[ing] DHS to cease asking state or local police to detain peaceful immigrants who pose no threat to public safety," and eliminating the use of 'no-process' removals (removals when an individual is not seen by an immigration judge.
March 28, 2014
Yesterday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that "Passing comprehensive immigration reform is more important than Democrats' success at the polls in November." And that's not all, while speaking to the United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce she added, "she would be willing to make any compromise necessary except on the inclusion of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants-a key division between Democrats and Republicans."
Immigration Impact tells the story of a farmworker who "lives and works in fear" as an undocumented worker in this country. Juan is but one of "approximately 2 to 2.5 million agricultural workers on U.S. farms and ranches, over one-half [of whom] lack authorized immigration status." Last summer, the Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill that included a agricultural stakeholder agreement, which included a special path for agricultural workers currently in the country and a program to replace the H-2A visa program. "The hard-fought agricultural stakeholder agreement contains difficult concessions in the interest of reaching an agreement. It represents a win for agricultural employers, for farmworkers and for our national interest in a secure, safe food supply and should be respected."
Bloomberg reports that "Republicans favoring a broad revision of U.S. immigration policies are questioning why business groups aren't doing more to force the issue with the party's majority in the House of Representatives." They're not the only ones.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has issued a "critical alert" that "DHS Enforcement Data Reveals Administrative Amnesty Much Broader Than Previously Understood."
Want to see "Where everyone in the world is migrating-in one gorgeous chart?" Then head over to Quartz.
March 27, 2014
AILA's National Day of Action (NDA) is only two weeks away, and it's not too late to register. Check out the AILA 2014 NDA Recourse Guide to get prepared to spend the day on the Hill lobbying for immigration reform.
Today, former acting director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Sandweg, penned an op-ed for the LA Times encouraging the President and ICE "eliminate 'non-criminal re-entrants and immigration fugitives' as a priority category for deportation." He continues, "each year, tens of thousands of people are treated as enforcement priorities based on their immigration history alone. Many of these people have been in the United States for a decade or more. They often have spouses who are U.S. citizens and have never been convicted of a criminal offense. Frequently, they were deported years earlier and returned to this country to reunite with their families. As a result, focusing ICE's effort on them disproportionately separates parents and children, breadwinners from families, spouse from spouse."
Yesterday, two members of Congress, one Republican and one Democratic, introduced a piece of legislation to address the increasing number of unacceptable uses of force and violations of people's civil liberties during southern border searches by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). H.R. 4340, the "Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act" seeks to "increase transparency, accountability, and community engagement within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, provide independent oversight of border security activities, improve training for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and officers, and for other purposes."
The two co-sponsors, Rep. O'Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Pearce (R-NM), both represent border districts and hope this issue could be a point of agreement by the two parties, but as Buzzfeed
reports "Whether the bill will see much action is unclear. Speaker John Boehner has made clear comprehensive immigration reform isn't happening this year and that if the House addresses the issue at all, it will be on a piece by piece basis. That could give the Pearce-O'Rourke measure a chance, albeit a slim one."
In related news, four immigration advocacy groups, including the American Immigration Council, have come together to launch a new website to establish accountability and transparency of one of the fastest growing agencies in the United States, CBP. The website, www.holdCBPaccountable.org
, seeks to expose CBP abuses and hold them accountable. "As a first step, during the week prior to March 12, 2012, organizations worked with attorneys in states along both the northern and southern borders to file individual complaints for damages on behalf of ten victims of CBP abuse."
Fortune sat down for an interview with FWD.us president Joe Green to talk immigration reform prospects in 2014. The first question should give readers a hint of where they stand. "Fortune: It does not look like immigration reform will pass this year. What's the plan? This has been the defining issue for FWD.us. Green: We disagree with the premise of the question."
March 26, 2014
Today, House Democrats, flanked by immigration advocates, introduced a "discharge petition" on H.R. 15. Time reports that "the so-called discharge petition, if successful, would force the chamber to vote on legislation Republican leaders have said they have no intention of bringing up, preferring a piecemeal approach to the contentious issue. A majority of the House, or 218 members, would have to support the petition in order to force a vote, which is unlikely even by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's own estimation." The White House also released a statement in support of the petition. Immigration Impact has more on the specifics on how discharge petitions work and what the next steps are.
Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) main immigration policy advisor threw cold water on the prospects of the House ever voting on anything comprehensive today in a Tweet: "As I said before, if you're being told that the House has the votes to pass the Senate bill, you're being lied to -this also applies to HR15"
Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, had some words of caution for House Republicans: either act now or watch the President take action come June. He lays out the difficulty Republicans will have to move on immigration reform if they wait beyond the summer months: "It's hard to see a scenario in which Republicans act on immigration reform beyond the summer. If summer comes and nothing has moved, pressure on Obama to utilize executive action to slow deportations will be overwhelming. He'll likely do something. The right will go into overdrive, making legislative reform even harder."
On a related note, Wisconsin Republican (and former vice-presidential candidate) Paul Ryan, told the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that immigration reform is coming: "To me, it's not a question of 'if' we fix our broken immigration laws. It's really a question of 'when.'"
March 25, 2014
Today, number of immigration reform advocates-including AILA-met with Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to discuss potential enforcement and border reforms the administration can pursue while waiting for Congress to do their work. The question that many area asking, on both sides of the aisle, is what effect potential administrative action could have on the prospect for reform in the House of Representatives. Theresa Cardinal Brown, the immigration policy director at the Bipartisan Policy Center thinks it kills its chances: "If the president were to take very strong executive action ... he would be completely writing off immigration reform until 2016, I would have a hard time seeing how Republicans move forward with reform in that atmosphere." But others, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), an outspoken advocate and participant in the meeting with the President, feel that the President must act now. Buzzfeed reports that "Gutierrez has begun putting together a new strategy: defining the next group of undocumented immigrants that would be politically acceptable for executive action, in the same way DREAMers were when Obama announced deferred action in 2012."
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to the editor of the LA Times expressing her concern for unaccompanied immigrant children. She argues that "the House must act on immigration reform. No matter your view on immigration, we should all agree that protecting unaccompanied immigrant children is a humanitarian issue that can be addressed with proper counsel and some compassion."
March 24, 2014
Last week MSNBC host Rachel Maddow spoke with Jose Diaz-Balart about the recent announcement by President Obama that he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to do a review of their deportation policy and his power to do more. She highlights the story of a undocumented mother who spent over a year seeking sanctuary in a church in Chicago, before being deported to Mexico-last month she was part of a group of over 100 families that crossed the border in San Diego in an act of civil disobedience.
This Friday, the new film on the life of farm worker organizer Cesar Chavez will open across the country. Many advocates, including FWD.us founder Mark Zuckerberg in partnership with the United Farmworkers of America (UFW), are hoping to use the film as a rallying cry to bolster efforts for action on immigration reform, whether by Congress or the President.
In the wake of a number of newly introduced state laws dealing with immigration, both that focus on integrating immigrants in the community and those focused on increasing state participation in immigration enforcement, the Center for American Progress released a new report on "Understanding Immigration Federalism in the United States."
March 21, 2014
In a blog in The Wall Street Journal Laura Meckler lays out the case that "GOP Optimists Challenge [the] Common Wisdom on Immigration." She notes that "a few leading Republicans think there's a chance that Mr. Boehner may change course and bring the issue to the floor this spring or summer. Business, religious and law enforcement interests are among those pushing for the overhaul as a way to rationalize immigration policy and aid those now living here illegally."
The LA Timesfurthers the argument by these Republican strategists who are looking past November and towards 2016. "But some Republican strategists and donors fear that buoyant mood spells trouble for the party down the road-by masking the long-term problems that were so evident after the 2012 election. Chief among them: the GOP's abysmal performance among Latinos and the growing influence of minority voters in battleground states that will create a steeper climb to the presidency for Republicans with each passing year."
Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to provide in-state tuition for some undocumented residents of the state. The bill passed in a 81-33 vote. The Republican leader of the House had thrown his support behind the measure early on, and several other Republicans came out in support. But the road ahead in the State Senate might not be as smooth. "Senate President Don Gaetz remains opposed to granting the tuition break and other top Republicans in the Senate have also come out against it."
Ruben Navarrette had some sharp words for President Obama in Tuesday's SF Chronicle. "When it comes to immigration, President Obama is in the protection business. And what he is protecting is the narrative that he has done nothing wrong. It's a line that is getting harder and harder to sell." He also demonstrated a healthy dose of cynicism regarding the President's meeting with advocates at the end of last week: "For Obama, the meeting had three purposes: to re-establish the narrative that the Republicans are to blame for everything that is unpleasant in the immigration mess including the record numbers of deportations carried out by the executive branch; to push back against critics and reassert control over his supporters; and to derail a resolution condemning the deportations that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was getting ready to pass but ultimately tabled."
March 20, 2014
In a moving piece, featured on the front page above the fold, the New York Times chronicles the real world impact of the rise in federal prosecutions of unlawful entries into the United States and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prioritizing immigration status offenders for removal. Josue Sandavol-Perez, 41, an undocumented immigrant with a U.S. citizen wife and two citizen children, who has lived in the country for 16 years, and "had no criminal record, paid taxes and was the primary breadwinner for his family," was deported this January. Unfortunately, because of a previous expedited removal, he was considered a removal priority by ICE. The Times argues that "Mr. Sandoval-Perez's case-as described by him, his family and court documents-previews the difficulties President Obama will face in a review he ordered last week, asking the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to come up with a more "humane" deportation policy."
Last night, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) attended a fundraiser in Silicon Valley organized by TechNet-a technology centered political network. But some in the tech community want answers from the Chairman ona timeline for immigration reform before they'll write any more checks. According to Roll Call Ron Conway, a venture capitalist and top angel investor had this to say: "In this case, because there's been mixed messages from the Republicans, before I write my check, I wanted some assurances that Bob Goodlatte would be prepared to discuss immigration reform and what the timetable is for immigration reform, because we're coming down the wire here with the [midterm] elections [approaching] and we need accountability."
In other tech news, Compete America launched a new feature
on their website to track the number of jobs being lost every day that Congress (specifically the House) fails to act on immigration reform. As of 5:30 P.M. (ET) their tally was 485,868 jobs lost. Their rationale: "Thanks to the limits on H-1B Visas, America loses not only scientists and engineers who could fill vacant high-skilled jobs, but also the additional jobs that these scientists and engineers would create. As a result, America loses 500,000 jobs every year. Spread across 50 five-day workweeks, this translates into 2,000 U.S. jobs not created every business day because of overly-restrictive U.S. immigration policy; or, to put it another way, that roughly equals a new job that is lost in America every 63 seconds."
Elise Foley at The Huffington Post reveals a long list of "what Obama can actually do to slow deportations," including the expanded use of prosecutorial discretion, tightening border priorities, making immigration law offenders a low priority, and ensuring policy changes actually happen at the ground level.
Last night, Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge successfully ushered the Massachusetts TRUST Act, a bill to "authorize police to honor the holds only for adult immigrants with criminal convictions who have served at least five years in prison" rather than all ICE detainers, through its first committee vote in a unanimously (with eight members abstaining). Massachusetts' Governor Deval Patrick opposed the expansion of the Secure Communities program two years ago, along with four other Governors, but the program was made mandatory.
For your daily laugh, watch Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, on Fox and Friends, accuse President Obama of ordering "ICE agents to break federal law" (because of the deferred action for childhood arrivals program), and of "cooking the books" on his deportation numbers.
March 19, 2014
The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project released a troubling study of the confluence in the growth in federal convictions over the past two decades and the increased enforcement of unlawful reentry into the United States. “The increase in unlawful reentry convictions alone accounts for nearly half (48%) of the growth in the total number of offenders sentenced in federal courts” between 1992 and 2012. This coincides with the reduced use of voluntary returns by Border Patrol. “Unlawful reentry cases alone accounted for 26% of sentenced federal offenders—second only to drug offenses in 2012. This is up 13-fold since 1992, when offenders sentenced for unlawful reentry made up just 2% of sentenced offenders.”
A new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform makes the bold claim that America can either import labor or import fresh produce, but it must do one. The report, “No Longer Home Grown: How Labor Shortages are Increasing America’s Reliance on Imported Fresh Produce and Slowing U.S. Economic Growth” chronicles how “labor challenges faced by U.S. farmers and the inadequacies of the H-2A visa program are a key reason why American farmers have been unable to maintain their share of the domestic market.”
March 18, 2014
Last Friday immigration advocates spent over an hour in a White House meeting with President Obama, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior advisors. Participants included representatives from SEIU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Center for American Progress, National Council of la Raza, PICO, among others. The White House reports that: "Secretary Johnson reemphasized his shared commitment to ensure our immigration laws are enforced effectively, sensibly, and in line with our nation's traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President reiterated his commitment to maintaining consistent and sustained pressure on Congressional Republicans to take action on immigration reform as soon as possible. The President continues to believe that the only permanent solution to fixing the broken immigration system is through meaningful comprehensive legislation."
Nora Caplan-Bricker, in a piece for New Republic, makes the case that President Obama can, and should, stop deportations. "Some experts even believe Obama has the legal power to stop deportations altogether, though the chances he would do so are more or less nil. When activists and politicians discuss strong candidates for deferred action, they often mention the parents of Dreamers, family members of U.S. citizens, and, more broadly, those who have found work and are an asset to the economy."
The Fast for Families busses have been crossing the country for three weeks. See what they've been up with video and photos posted to their account.
March 17, 2014
A year ago the Republican National Committee released a 100 page report chronicling the opportunities to grow the Republican Party and win more campaigns. One of the only policy prescriptions included in that report was the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform. A year later, in an interview with Politico, the chair of the Party Reince Priebus reflects on the strides his Party has made towards the goal embodied in the report, specifically the need to shed the image of a "stuffy old men" who are "out of touch" with the country. Politico reports, however, that "Republican strategists acknowledge that the party has not shed its image as being dominated by white men, and some fret privately that just putting bodies into states won't win over many converts. On this front, the GOP autopsy's report was firm on one policy issue it said the party cannot ignore, especially if it wants to make headway with Hispanics."
In a scathing opinion piece in Al Jazeera, Belen Fernandez details "America's war on immigrants." He argues that "the U.S. has no fundamental interest in ending the war on immigration. To do so would be a dangerous, costly business. After all, as long as migrants are dehumanized as 'illegals' threatening national identity and security, we as a people can avoid any meaningful self-reflection that might force us to confront our collective responsibility and lack of humanity."
March 14, 2014
In a meeting with leaders from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) last night "the President emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system. He told the members that he has asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to do an inventory of the Department's current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law." Many see this as a response to the rising pressure from advocates-the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), and several Democratic members of Congress (including the CHS), to name a few-who have publically called out the President as the "deporter-in-chief" over the last several weeks.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the administration is considering two potential changes under this directive: "The first change would ease or stop deportations of foreigners who have no criminal convictions other than immigration violations"; and the second would be a scale back of the Secure Communities program.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used this announcement to apply pressure to House Republicans on his Facebook page: "It's crystal clear where the issue of immigration reform is headed, and Republicans have only two choices to make. They can either help pass comprehensive reform which will greatly reduce the flow of illegal immigrants, grow our economy by bringing in needed workers in high tech and agriculture areas, and provide a hard-earned path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million in the shadows, or they can sit idly by and watch the President greatly curtail deportations while 11 million continue to live in limbo here in America. The choice is clear; a reform bill has the support of liberals, moderates, and conservatives and all we need is the courage of the Republican leadership to make the right and obvious choice."
This week, appropriators (those in Congress who dole out the money) in both chambers of Congress began discussing the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget with hearings with Secretary Jeh Johnson. Most notable was a statement by Subcommittee chairman, Rep. John (Judge) Carter (R-TX), that he does not believe a detention bed quota exists. He stated that while the current law requires DHS to have 34,000 beds available, "they all don't have to have someone sleeping in them every night." Fusion makes the argument against the detention bed quota in a blog on their site.
Two new documentaries show the human side of the immigration debate, chronicling in different ways the journey from Mexico to the United States. On Sundays in April Al Jazeera America will be showing a groundbreaking documentary series that will "retrace the journeys of three migrants who perished attempting to come to the United States." The film "The Other Side of Immigration" asks the question, why make the hazardous trip at all. "Based on a National Science Foundation-funded survey of 700 Mexican households, the film challenges audiences to think about the many political, economic, and social causes and effects of mass migration in Mexico."
March 13, 2014
Last week Buzzfeed learned that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) was planning to vote on a resolution to send to President Obama asking him to "slow deportations and increase his use of prosecutorial discretion." However, after some DREAMers and other advocacy organizations got wind of the actual text of the resolution they provided significant pushback that the asks of the President were simply not enough-that it's a statement that will not "move the process forward," according to Salvador Sarmiento, of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON).
Well today, Buzzfeed reports that the CHC apparently heard the concerns of the community and significantly strengthened the language in the resolution. The resolution "will now call for President Obama to suspend deportations of those who would be covered by the bipartisan Senate immigration bill in addition to expanding deferred action."
This comes just a day after the House Republicans voted on H.R. 4138, the ENFORCE Act, a broad bill targeting Presidential executive action, but one that explicitly mentioned the President's DACA program. Rep. Luis Gutierrez took to the House floor to speak out against the bill and called out House Republicans for ensuring "that this do-nothing Congress forces President Obama to be a do-nothing President as well." Unfortunately, the bill ultimately passed (although very unlikely that it will be taken up in the Senate, and the President has said he will veto it if it makes it to his desk). The White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney expressed his own frustrations with the bill being brought up for a vote: "So it is, in my view, in our view, pretty amazing that today House Republicans went in the opposite direction by passing legislation targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that removed the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children, known as DREAMers."
The Bipartisan Policy Center attempts to address Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) reluctance to address immigration reform in an election year in a new blog. They argue that "despite election year politics, history shows that meaningful legislation often passes in election years. This is especially true of immigration reform. Some of the most impactful immigration reform legislation of the last three decades has been passed in an election year, with several pieces coming under a divided government."
March 12, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has one reason why Speaker Boehner (R-OH) hasn't brought up immigration reform on the floor of the House yet. "We don't have the votes right now. Right now, we're working hard to find where that consensus lies."
As the President quickly approaches his two millionth removal milestone, more attention is being focused on who these two million people are that have been removed and why. The Immigration Policy Center took a look at the 2013 removals in order to get a better sense of who these immigrants are and whether Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) claim that they were targeting criminals and public safety threats for removal holds water. They make the argument that it's actually a case of "Misplaced Priorities: Most Immigrants Deported by ICE in 2013 Were a Threat to No One." In fact, their research of 2013 removals show that "four-fifths of all deportation did not fall within ICE's definition of a 'Level 1' priority."
Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott surprised some people (probably some in his own party) when he came out in favor of a bill currently in the Florida state legislature that would provide college tuition equity for undocumented Florida residents that qualify.
March 11, 2014
Today, a number of national advocacy groups, including AILA, participated in a national call-in day to end the detention bed quota currently employed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). (AILA Doc. No. 14031043.) Included in the President's budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 was $1.8 billion to detain 30,539 immigrants per day, a decrease of about 10 percent than what was allocated by Congress in FY 2014. ICE as well as some members of Congress interpret the quota to require ICE not only to maintain those beds, but also to keep every bed filled every day. The National Immigrant Justice Center has a timeline of the detention bed quota since before its inception in 2007 and the National Immigration Forum has pulled together a factsheet on the DHS budget request in in the President's FY15 budget.
In a hearing today in the Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2015 budget with Secretary Jeh Johnson, Representatives Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and the Chair of the Subcommittee Rep. Carter (R-TX), seemed to agree that the 34,000 detention beds maintained by ICE need not be filled every day, simply made available.
AILA, today, posted two new Public Service Announcements to highlight the public support for immigration reform and encourages members and stakeholders to share them widely to emphasize the wealth of public support for fixing our broken immigration system. (AILA Doc. No. 14031145.)
Bible, Badges and Business announced a two new ad buys highlighting the faith and law enforcement arguments for immigration reform.
March 10, 2014
In a strong rebuke to the Republicans inaction in the House of Representatives on immigration reform, the Spanish language newspaper La Opinion published an editorial urging President Obama to take action. "It is time for the White House to take another step to decrease the pressure that now exists over the undocumented; to review in detail all the options within its reach to prevent the deportation of people with deep roots in this country; and to take action similar to that involving the Dreamers and the use of discretion when processing undocumented immigrants."
The two Tennessee bills introduced by a Republican legislator to provide tuition equity for Tennessean residents are taking different paths. The legislation to provide in-state tuition to the American citizens of undocumented parents has "picked up House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick as a sponsor last week, but the leader of the state Senate, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, says he is not ready to embrace the proposal" to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students.
March 7, 2014
Earlier this week the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), amended and voted on two bills relating to the "President's Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws." While these bills dealt with an array of issues, much of the debate focused on the duties of the former Public Advocate Position in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Elise Foley, of the Huffington Post, explains: "The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill from Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) aimed at defunding a public advocate, or any position like it, within Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Congress defunded the position once before, but a different position, deputy assistant director of "Custody Programs and Community Outreach," simply absorbed the responsibilities, outraging some GOP members who said the Obama administration was skirting the law."
Frameworks released two new research reports on messaging to the American public on immigration reform. "Getting to 'We': Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understanding of Immigration and Immigration Reform," explores the impacts the disconnect between expert's and the public's understandings of immigration, immigrants and reform have on communication effectiveness. And "Stories Matter: Field Frame Analysis on Immigration Reform," that provides recommendations to advocacy groups on constructing compelling narratives to compete with restrictionist messaging.
March 6, 2014
President Obama, seemingly in direct rebuttal to Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL), Sens. Menendez (D-NJ) and Durbin (D-IL), and Janet Murguía (president of the National Council of La Raza) calling him the "deporter-in-chief" in the past week, today called himself the "champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform." In a forum hosted by Telemundo, Univision and La Opinion-impreMedia he made the case that his hands were simply tied on the deportation issue: "What I've said in the past remains true: until Congress passes a new law I am constrained in what I can do."
Meanwhile, many in the immigration advocacy community predict that President Obama will reach the record setting two millionth removal sometime in the month of April. #Not1more, a coalition of groups organizing around halting deportations, is planning a day of action for April 5th. Find out more about the events planned around the country, and how to get involved at www.notonemoredeporation.com.
Today, in a voice vote, the full Senate confirmed Gil Kerlikowske for Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. (AILA Doc. No. 14030653.) Kerlikowske is a career law enforcement official and former White House Director of National Drug Control Policy.
This month's edition of VOICE (AILA's monthly magazine) goes behind the scenes of a local coalition's lengthy and rigorous advocacy efforts to successfully push Miami-Dade County to pass an anti-detainer policy. (AILA Doc. No. 14022640.) For more information on what other localities are doing to push back against these voluntary ICE hold requests check out AILA's Take on Local Detainer Ordinances. (AILA Doc. No. 14030444.)
By now it's not news to anyone, the American people want Congress to get their act together and pass immigration reform that offers a road to legalization and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in this country. But just in case there were any doubts, the Center for American Progress pulled together the five most recent polls of immigration.
March 5, 2014
The Center for American Progress pulled together an interactive website that examines "Our Future, Together: Immigrants and the American economy." The website chronicles how immigrants and their children will be critical to the country's workforce and therefore America's economy. Users can see how "By 2030, immigrants and their children will play a big part in reshaping our workforce and filling the roles left by the Boomers," see how immigrants interact within the entire workforce, and the importance of the children of immigrants as the "aging of America" continues.
The #Not1More campaign has pulled together an impressive timeline of the events that have led to the current administration being within one month of removing more than 2 million people from the country. Everything from the beginning of Secure Communities, to President Obama's election, to SB 1070 is covered in this expansive history of deportations and removals under this President.
Senator Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the "Gang of Eight" and outspoken advocate for immigration reform, was honored yesterday by the National Council of La Raza. During his speech the Senator called on the President to act now to halt deportations: "While we continue waiting for the House of Representatives to wake up and move on immigration reform legislation, I urge the President to take action today and halt needless deportations that are splitting apart our families and communities."
The Council for American Job Growth, a group associated with FWD.us, has released a new 60 second commercial that will run for the next two weeks in all 50 states, asking watchers to call House Republicans and urge them to pass immigration reform. A voice over says, "No one debates we need to fix our country's broken immigration system. Republican leaders know it. They've even said so time and again. So why are Republicans cooling, retreating and even privately saying they'd rather do nothing this year? No, nothing won't do. Call House Republicans today. Tell them we've waited long enough; pass immigration reform."
State legislatures continue to push for initiatives to makes their states more welcoming to immigrants, even as Congress continues their do-nothing approach to the issue. Florida is the latest to join in an attempt to pass a bill granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who are residents of the state. Although the Governor, Rick Scott, has not indicated whether or not he would support such a measure, the bill is gaining bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.
Earlier today, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) gave his fellow House members a "deporter-in-chief quiz." He awarded the current President with five gold stars to "show how aggressive the administration has been in enforcing immigration law."
Media Matters has released a new tool, Mythopedia, that seeks to use fact based research to dismantle some of the myths currently permeating the media on immigration. Watch their introductory video on the tool.
Additionally, the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas has released a new factsheet detailing the five ways that immigrants make cities more competitive in a global economy.
March 4, 2014
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer Speaker Boehner (R-OH) expressed confidence that his reelection to the House leadership spot “won’t even be close.” He continued, “I frankly think I’m in better shape with my own caucus than I have been any time in the last three years...I think they understand me better.” Members of his own party, and immigration advocates, have been speculating that the Speaker may retire at the end of this term, which might have influenced his willingness to bring immigration reform to the floor of the House.
Janet Murguia, head of the National Council of La Raza, called President Obama the “deporter-in-chief” today, the first time the organization has so explicitly signaled out the President’s record on enforcement. “For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here. We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief.”
Latino Decisions released a new report with an accompanying PowerPoint documenting the importance of the Latino vote in the state of Arizona. One piece of analysis documents that, “Careful analysis of the actual and potential vote in Arizona shows relatively small increases in Latino voter participation could have turned the 2012 U.S. Senate election in favor of Democratic candidate Richard Carmona.”
The President’s budget for FY 2015 was released today. The budget contains more than $2.5 billion for immigration enforcement and removal, including funding for 30,539 detention beds.
March 3, 2014
As the President is on pace to remove a record breaking 2 million people from the United States by the end of April, many advocates are wondering why he is pushing back so hard on the public pressure to use executive action to stop separating families. The National Journal argues that "the last thing the White House wants to do is take the focus off the GOP's divisions on immigration by pushing through a new deportation policy. Despite the protests last week, much of the grassroots anger over immigration remains directed at Republicans-and the administration would like to keep it that way."
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) makes the case that if Americans understood more about where their food came from, and how it was harvested, they would be much more invested in making immigration reform a reality, in a commentary in The Hill. If the country fails to reform the immigration system, he argues, "less and less fruit, vegetables and milk will be grown close to home. More importantly, the cost of these goods will rise, making it even more difficult for parents to feed their families or for schools to provide children with nutritious meals…Every farm worker tending specialty crops or livestock supports two to three farm-dependent jobs in our economy. As we export our agriculture industries, we export American jobs."
On the same day, Valadao's Central Valley colleague, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), made the conservative values case for immigration reform, also in a commentary in The Hill. He pleads with his fellow Republicans: "To those who think Republicans cannot support immigration reform simply because we are Republicans - there are few ideas that resonate more with our values than working to increase revenue, decrease our debt and ensure fairness for all. As a party, we all agree that our debt and spending are out of control. We know that we must add young contributors to Social Security or face its impending collapse. Immigration reform is one way to do just that."
Fellow Republican Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) isn't buying it. He argues that the "House Immigration Principles: Not Working for the American People." "President Barack Obama recently talked about 'equal opportunities' for all in his State of the Union address. To me, this plan looks like unequal opportunities for Americans, especially the legal immigrants who came to this country to pursue better opportunities. It also puts Americans at risk each and every day. We don't work for illegal immigrants. We work for the American people."
The United States Hispanic population has increased six-fold since 1970, and 50 percent since 2000, according to data released by the Pew Research Center. That puts the total Hispanic population at about 50 million people currently living in the United States.
February 28, 2014
The Pew Research Center released a couple of important polls this week on where the American public stands on two important issues: legalization-with or without a road to citizenship-and the record number of deportations under President Obama. The first question, whether Congress should pass reform that include legalization, seems to be very much decided. Every poll that comes out showcases an American public that is more and more ready for reform, and this one is no exception. Pews found that 73 percent of Americans support legalization, although the support for citizenship is less robust; this includes 64 percent of Republicans surveyed. On the other hand, Americans are more evenly divided on whether the increased number of deportations under this President is a good thing (45 percent), a bad thing (45 percent), or don’t know (nine percent).
Speaker Boehner met with the President this week and immigration was the one area the Speaker highlighted as a positive discussion item: “Immigration — we had a very good, very healthy conversation on immigration.” However, when asked at a subsequent press conference about the issue he “declined to say whether the House would act on the principles the leadership laid out in January.
February 27, 2014
While some ask if the decision by some liberal immigration reform advocates to pursue the double pronged strategy of continuing to pressure Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership to hold a vote on immigration reform in the House and ramping up pressure on President Obama to more broadly apply deferred action and halt deportations is a good one. Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, asks "Where's the center-right pressure on Republicans to act on immigration?"
The L.A. Times obtained a copy of an independent review of U.S. Border Patrol shootings by the Police Executive Research Forum, which does not paint the agency in good light. The Times reports that "The report by law enforcement experts criticized the Border Patrol for 'lack of diligence' in investigating U.S. agents who had fired their weapons. It also said it was unclear whether the agency 'consistently and thoroughly reviews' use-of-deadly-force incidents."
The Evangelical Immigration Table and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released an open letter to the House of Representatives yesterday urging them "to create bipartisan solutions that reflect these principles and our nation's values, creating just, fair and humane immigration laws."
The Center for American Progress released a new report that chronicles how "in addition to broad economic benefits, immigration reform would also improve the financial stability of the Medicare Hospital Insurance, or HI, Trust Fund, which pays for many of the critical health care services used by the millions of Americans enrolled in Medicare."
February 26, 2014
The House of Representatives had two hearings today that, although somewhat nominally, dealt with immigration. AILA provides a summary of the House Homeland Security Committee hearing with newly installed DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. (AILA Doc. No. 14022548.) A number of AILA’s key priority areas were covered including, the use of force by CBP officers, detention policies and conditions, resources at ports of entry, and enforcement priorities. In a different, less useful hearing, (watch Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) talk about how “do-nothing” of a hearing he thinks it is) the House Judiciary Committee talked about “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.” (AILA Doc. No. 14022549.) Read AILA’s press statement on the hearing, “AILA Disappointed in House Hearing on Enforcement that Ignores the Obvious.” (AILA Doc. No. 14022644.)
Latino Decisions released a new report today surveying the impact of the Hispanic vote on future Texas elections and the makeup of the eligible Hispanic voters in the state over the next 20 years. They note that currently, “the Hispanic population in Texas is just under 10 million, which is larger than the entire state population in forty-three states.” In a PowerPoint presentation they break down the implications for both parties for future elections if they ignore or engage the growing Hispanic community in Texas.
Retired immigration court judge John Gossart, Jr. made his case for immigration reform today in The Hill, mainly that it “must enhance the courts’ resources and allow immigration judges to consider the individual circumstances unique to each case, and it must include fairness and opportunity for those who seek to become a part of the American dream.”
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono (D) also wrote an op-ed for The Hill “urg[ing] the Department of Homeland Security to support recovery efforts by granting TPS to the Philippines.”
Lawrence Downes, of the New York Times, penned an editorial on the dramatic turnaround by Rep. King (R-NY) on the issue of immigration. He raised the question: “What changed? Mr. King’s heart, maybe. His district, definitely. Mr. King lives in Seaford, hamlet on the South Shore of Long Island that is 95 percent white, and has, for years, solidly represented the interests of the white, conservative middle class. But his redrawn 2nd Congressional District extends east to enfold heavily black and Hispanic enclaves like Brentwood and Central Islip. While Mr. King’s re-election this year seems a lock, 2016 may be harder, and he has been out getting to know his new friends.”
February 25, 2014
Three Republican Senators who voted in favor of S.744 last June are up for reelection this year come November, Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Lindsay Graham (SC) and Susan Collins (ME). Of the three Senator Graham, an original member of the "Gang of Eight" is most likely facing the toughest battle in his primary election; however, even so most think that he will end up coming out on top of the five other Republican candidates he's facing in the primary, and will then have no problem in the general election. Senator Alexander is handily beating his Tea Party challenger, some polls estimate by more than 40 points. And Senator Collins main challenge will come from her Democratic challenger (not a more conservative Republican primary challenger), Shenna Bellows, former executive director of the Maine ACLU. So at this point, it doesn't seem that their votes in favor of immigration reform will cost them their jobs after all.
Roll Call did an informal whip count to see where House Republicans fall on the recently released "Standards for Reform" document. The results? few have taken a position: "What our poll seemed to confirm was what reporters have heard from Republicans repeatedly: There are vocal minorities in the GOP on both sides of the immigration issue. In the middle is a large group of Republicans who could be swayed either way. But many of those same Republicans believe Obama can't be trusted to implement an immigration overhaul."
Pew Research released an interactive map to present the data on remittance flows worldwide in 2012. They conclude that the United States is the top sending country, and that India is the top receiving country. In total "$123,273,000,000 in remittances were sent from United States to other countries in 2012," with Mexico being the largest recipient.
February 24, 2014
The New York Times Editorial Board ran a scathing editorial of the lack of due process protections for immigrants who have been locked up in detention without access to a bond hearing for lengthy periods of time. Profiling the number of court cases dealing with the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of this issue the Editorial board comments, "These rulings reflect the growing understanding - in the federal courts, if not at Immigration and Customs Enforcement - that the constitutional guarantee of due process demands that a detainee have a hearing within a "reasonable" time and that more than six months is not reasonable by any definition."
Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote a thinly veiled blog to Republican leadership today extolling them to act on immigration reform. "There will never be a perfect time for reform. The political landscape isn't going to be any more conducive to reform in two years or four years. For too long, the can has been kicked down the road. And while we've failed to act, the problem has only grown worse. Today, the fact remains that it is in our national interest to get it done."
H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Democratic leadership in the House late last year, has been co-sponsored by all but twelve Democratic Representatives. The Hill profiles those who haven't signed on, some think the bill doesn't do enough to ensure immigration from underrepresented countries due to the elimination of the diversity visa, and some who think the legalization plan is too lenient.
February 21, 2014
As House leadership pushes the ball down the road on immigration reform-see: lack of immigration reform in Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) Winter 2014 Legislative Agenda--some Republican members of Congress are still taking on the issue back in their home districts.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is doubling down on the notion that the votes exist right now in the House of Representatives to pass meaningful reform legislation. In a conversation with the Washington Post's Greg Sargent he had this to say, "Can you draft legislation that has serious border and interior security, with sufficient leverage to force this or future administrations? I think we have drafted a way to actually do that. Can we deal with the undocumented in a way that is fair, that makes sense, that adheres strictly to the rule of law? I think we've also cracked that nut. We have legislative language that could potentially get the support of a majority of Republicans and a very large group of Democrats."
Some, like Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) are being confronted by activists on his stance on immigration reform as the Hispanic and agricultural community is growing in his district. "Ross supports a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children by no fault of their own - the so-called Dreamers. He also backs a guest worker program, which would benefit the agriculture industry in his district, and more visas for highly educated students. But he says he cannot support a plan that includes a path to citizenship - something many conservatives consider amnesty."
North Carolina Republican Renee Elmers, while not supporting citizenship, offered that "it is not practical, it is not common sense, to assume that 11 or 12 … million people are simply going to pick up and leave our country. It is not possible because they have built their lives here, they have built their families here."
Others, like Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), are embracing the issue, if not citizenship, by convening town hall meetings comprised mainly of Hispanic constuents, entirely in Spanish. Although he tread carefully on making any concrete statements on position on the issue, he did admit: "I am more than willing to have a discussion about allowing at least part of the 11 million people here illegally to have some type of status. I'm just disappointed that more people in my party don't want to do that."
House Republicans who might face primary challengers this year have used that as a reason, or an excuse, to want to delay or prevent a vote on immigration reform-that by voting in favor of legalization or other reforms they will be threatened by a more extreme candidate in Republican primaries this Spring. While it is true that those who vote in Republican primaries tend to be more conservative than those who vote in the general election, FWD.us pollster Jon Lerner is here to disabuse them that a vote for reform is a vote to lose their seat: "Purely from a quantitative standpoint, the percentage of GOP primary voters who are hostile to what we might call … all manner of immigration reform is pretty low. It's about 20 to 25 percent or so. The Republican primary voters are much more concerned about border security and illegal hiring of illegal immigrants than they are concerned about a path toward legalization, or citizenship, to those who are already here."
Last Wednesday, President Obama, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met for a North American Summit in Toluca, Mexico. The New York Times chronicles the tough line President Obama was forced to walk on issues like immigration, which obviously impact the relationship between the three countries.
February 20, 2014
This April come to Washington, D.C. and participate in AILA’s National Day of Action as we “Take on the House.” Registration is free. On Thursday, April 10th, hundreds of AILA members from around the country will descend on the nation’s capital and call on the House of Representatives to hold a vote on immigration reform this year! Armed with lobbying training from AILA National staff and your clients' stories and experiences you have the opportunity to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the problems plaguing our immigration system and why we can't wait.
Politico takes a look at the struggle within the immigration advocacy community as prospects for Congress passed immigration reform in the next few months begin to dim. They focus on the split between groups who are actively pressuring the President to halt deportations, and those still focusing entirely on the permanent solution that only Congress can provide. “The more dependent a group is on grassroots support, the more likely it is to pressure the White House to do something on deportations. The more a group’s influence relies on its access to power, the less likely it is to push back. Conservative and business-focused groups like Mike Bloomberg’s Partnership for a New American Economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fwd.us have kept their attention entirely on moving legislation in Congress and have not sought to pressure Obama on deportations.”
Nevada’s junior senator, Dean Heller (R), voted yes on S.744 and yesterday he finally said what those in the advocacy community have known for months, “I believe as I stand in front of you today, if you put comprehensive immigration reform on the floor of the House of Representative, it would pass today.”
February 19, 2014
Well, so long as Congress is out to recess (literally-they're on break until February 24th), states continue to move forward on integrating immigrants into their communities. Last night Washington State took a big step towards becoming the fourth state to make DREAMers eligible for state financial aid when applying to college. Washington Governor Jay Inslee indicated he would sign the bill and stated, "This bill ensures that the young men and women we've invested in at our high schools and who aspire to become productive American citizens will now have fair access to the financial support they need to turn their dreams into reality."
In California, State Senator Ricardo Lara wants to make sure that all California families have access to health care, whether they have papers or not. In legislation he introduced, the Health for All Act, "undocumented immigrants could qualify for Medicaid coverage paid fully by the state. Those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid would be able to access an insurance exchange offering state-funded subsidies."
Maryland is preparing to start debate on a bill that would mirror California's TRUST Act, empowering local law enforcement to disregard ICE detainer requests. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley recently "wrote the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to ask why those deportations are taking place under a program [Secure Communities] designed to catch dangerous criminals."
And in Tennessee, where just one year ago they were debating passing Arizona copy-cat legislation, two bills have been introduced in the state legislature that would expand access to in-state tuition for DREAMers. One of the bills was introduced by two Republicans, one of whom State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, explained his support this way: "These are the serious kids that we ought to reward and allow them to get in-state tuition."
February 18, 2014
Rachel Maddow talks to Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), chair of the Democratic conference in the House, about the rare tactic his caucus might employ to try to pass immigration reform in the House-a discharge petition. She also highlights a protest yesterday in front of the White House, in which 32 faith leaders were arrested while praying for reform as a sign that advocates are becoming either increasingly desperate or are still hopeful (or maybe both).
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released the results of survey of 500 Midwest business leaders in a new report focusing on immigration. Among other key findings they found that "Midwest business leaders strongly support the comprehensive bill on immigration reform passed by the Senate (65% favor, 34% oppose)" including that "seventy-five percent of Republicans favor the comprehensive Senate bill."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) went on CNN's State of the Union yesterday and "urged [his] House colleagues to consider whatever way they want to pursue to try to address this issues because it's going to have to be addressed. And to wait until 2015, when [they're] now involved in Republican primaries would not be a viable scenario."
The conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal chronicles "Washington's Growth Retreat" as evidenced by Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) failure to act on immigration. "But conservatives and the GOP are as responsible for the failure on immigration. The populist wing of the party has talked itself into believing the zero-sum economics that immigrants steal jobs from U.S. citizens and reduce American living standards. Neither claim is true, but Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and the Heritage Foundation might as well share research staffs with the AFL-CIO."
"Immigration reform good for Nebraska business." That's the message of prominent business owners in Nebraska: Jim Partington of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, Dick Campbell owner of Campbell's Nurseries in Lincoln, the Nebraska Cattlemen, the Nebraska State Dairy Association, and Kathleen Grant of Omaha Together One Community. "Look around Nebraska and you will see immigrants who are essential to labor-intensive industries such as roofing and landscaping. They are the backbone of Nebraska's food production, processing and distribution chain, working in livestock feedlots, meat packing plants and restaurants. If you live in a building with a roof or ate a meal today you were likely the beneficiary of immigrant labor."
February 14, 2014
Conservative journalist George F. Will debunks the Republican talking points for why the House can't take on immigration reform this year in a piece for the Washington Post. These include, the idea that immigration divides the party, that immigration reform will only create future Democratic voters, cultural and assimilation concerns, border security, trust in the administration to enforce reforms, and the potential depressing of wages for low wage workers.
ESPN puts faces and names to the struggles of those living in migrant farm worker towns in their profile of the football team of Medota, California. This 20 minute piece is well worth the watch.
Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, spoke with notable Republican strategist Rob Jesmer about the House Republicans' decision to put off tackling immigration reform. The former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee debunked the idea that waiting is the answer for Republicans to take back the Senate: "I don't see any data that suggests that this would increase Democratic chances of holding the Senate. The idea that someone who is sitting at home mad at the president about Obamacare is going to wake up in October and say, 'I'm really mad that Republicans voted to solve the immigration mess, so I'm not going to vote' - I just find that to be ridiculous."
In non-Olympic related news from our neighbors to the North, the Canadian government has decided to eliminate its Immigrant Investor Program, which allows applicants "with a net worth of over C$1.6 million (U.S. $1.5 million) agreed to give the Canadian government an interest-free, C$800,000 loan for five years in exchange for a resident visa that could lead to citizenship."
Well, immigration reform advocates shouldn't count on any support from Rep. Raul Labrador, Republican Idaho Congressman and former AILA member, to bring up immigration reform on the floor of the House. When asked by NBC News if immigration reform is dead for the year he responded: "Yes. The President and Democratic leaders interfered with a good faith bipartisan effort to reach an agreement in the House on immigration reform. Democratic leadership did not want a conservative immigration bill to come out of the House because they wanted the Senate immigration bill to be the only vehicle for immigration reform."
February 13, 2014
"No Republican is safe," is the message coming from some immigration reform advocates, frustrated by the lack of movement from the Republican controlled House of Representative. Kica Matos, director for Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Campaign for Community Change, went on to state: "We are delivering a very clear message to the Republican Party at large, and that is they better move on reform and they better move on it now. As we look at some potential districts that we are going to engage pretty deeply, there are some Republicans that we are looking at in so-called purple districts. So no, nobody is safe."
By this point Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has been all over the map on the approach his Chamber of Congress will take (if any at all) on immigration reform. After the introduction of the Republican "Standards for Immigration Reform" at the end of January, he quickly walked back any hopes that the issue would be taken up quickly on the floor of the House. The NY Times reports last week that this may be due in part to activism against reform. "The day before, the Tea Party Patriots group set in motion 900,000 automatic phone calls in 90 Republican House districts, connecting tens of thousands of voters to their members of Congress. The hashtag #NoAmnesty blazed across Twitter. About the same time, FreedomWorks, another anti-tax, limited-government group, was pulling in signatures on its "fire the speaker" petition against the House speaker, John A. Boehner."
Former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, General Colin Powell, went on Andrea Mitchell Reports and expressed his frustration on the lack of movement on immigration, specifically the DREAM Act. "If not now, when? We keep putting it off. At the beginning of President [George W.] Bush's administration, I was the secretary of state and we were moving on this, and then 9/11 threw it off track. But sufficient time has passed so that we should all understand by now that we are an immigrant nation. We are fueled with every new wave of immigrant who comes to this country." He went on to say, "The DREAM Act should be a no-brainer. I think we really have to buckle down and do something about immigration reform and do it as quickly as we can…There are certain elements within the [Republican] party which go out of their way to demonize people who don't look like the way they'd like them to look like, or who came from some other place."
February 12, 2014
The biggest news coming out of Washington D.C. today is that Congress actually can pass something important with little fuss, and quickly. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a "clean" increase to debt limit ceiling with a handful of Republicans (18 out of 232) joining almost all Democrats to get it past the majority vote threshold (a clear violation of the Hastert rule advocated for by members of the Tea Party caucus). Today, that bill went to the Senate where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) decided to file cloture, thereby preventing a simple majority vote to pass the bill. Two Republican in leadership, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (TX) eventually decided to vote for the bill and brought ten other Republicans with them thereby pushing the bill over the 60 vote threshold needed to break past cloture.
Why is this immigration news? Well, Speaker Boehner, and others in the Republican caucus, still claim that the Hastert rule is in the main barrier to bringing immigration reform bill(s) up for a vote on the floor of the House. The debt limit ceiling vote proves it's not always the case.
In non-breaking news of the day, American voters overwhelmingly support immigration reform. FWD.us released a new poll that only brings this into sharper focus and includes the political ramifications for Members of Congress who don't take this up. "There is clear political opportunity for members of Congress who back immigration reform. Americans are far more inclined to vote for incumbents who support immigration reform (39% more likely/9% less likely). This is true among Republican voters (41% more likely/11% less likely), Democrats (43% more/7% less), and Independents (34% more/11% less) alike."
The United States is not the only country grappling with their immigration laws. Buzzfeed chronicles the lengths Australia and Switzerland are going to show immigrants that they're not welcome and the awesome responses of community members in support of immigrant populations.
In annoying news of the day, the organization "Gun Owners of America" recently sent an action alert to its members urging them to write their Representatives and ask them to "reject the ridiculous 'immigration principles' being hawked by the [Republican] leadership-principles that will eventually destroy the pro-gun movement in America."
February 11, 2014
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) doesn't buy Republicans' excuse on immigration reform, that the President can't be trusted to enforce immigration law. He took to the floor of the House of Representatives today to hammer home his point. "I wish you would tell the U.S. citizen whose spouse won't be with them on Valentine's Day, or the days that follow to help raise their U.S. citizen children. Or tell the estimated 5,100 children in foster care because their parents are in detention or have already been deported how the President can't be trusted to enforce immigration law."
And he's not the only prominent Latino who seems completely fed up with the lack of Republican leadership or movement on the issue of immigration. Jorge Ramos of Univision wrote a lengthy piece in Spanish calling out House Republicans on immigration. "Let me tell you a fairytale. The Republican Party made immigrants and Latinos believe for a moment that they really wanted to pass immigration reform this year. But all indications point this way: they're not going to do anything about it. The fairytale ends with undocumented immigrants remaining without legalization for a long time to come, and Republicans remaining without the White House in 2016." (Translation by America's Voice)
And La Opinion got in on the action as well with an editorial published last week. "The journey of the House majority when it comes to immigration so far has been a farce. A ploy that seems to finish the same way that cheaters end up-blaming others to justify their own decisions."
Two heavy weight political groups that often align with Republicans aren't getting along too well lately. The cause? Immigration reform. "The head of the Heritage Foundation's political arm said Monday that the comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate last year is the result of 'corporate cronyism' and blamed another group that often aligns with Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce."
Speaker Boehner's comments last week make the prospect of immigration reform anytime soon seem like a distant dream, but that doesn't mean something can't happen to help alleviate suffering at the hands of America's broken immigration system. Fusion chronicles a few of the "small-scale immigration fixes that Obama can work on now without jeopardizing a future bill." These include: releasing a border patrol reports, giving lapel cameras to borer agents, and enforcing existing deportation relief measures.
Early this morning the House Judiciary Committee hosted another hearing (their second in three months) on alleged asylum fraud. (AILA Doc. No. 14021041.) The hearing, "Asylum fraud: Abusing America's compassion?", focused on the increase in asylum seekers in recent years and the potential for abuse in the system. Chair Goodlatte (R-VA) has indicated that he wants to introduce a bill to toughen the program for asylum seekers. During the hearing some immigration rights activists interrupted by imploring the Representatives to keep their families together, and were then escorted out of the room.
"Immigrants deserve a properly staffed court immigration system," or so says Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Students, in a letter to the editor published in the Washington Post. He comments that "nearly 215 years ago, James Madison characterized deportation as "among the severest of punishments." A sufficiently resourced and reformed immigration court system would provide greater assurance that the right decisions are being made in these consequential cases."
February 10, 2014
The Economist followed up last week's great story on President Obama's record setting deportation number with an article on "America's deportation machine, The great expulsion." The magazine highlights the growing pressure the machine is putting on courts and the problem with a detention bed quota, but singles out Secure Communities as the real culprit behind the dramatic increase in expulsions. "The turning of police officers into immigration officials has brought border enforcement into areas of the country far from the deserts of the south-west. Secure Communities, the name given to the programme that links police work to the immigration database, began life in a single jurisdiction in Texas in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush's presidency. By May 2013 it was operating everywhere."
The American Farm Bureau Federation came out strong against enforcement-only immigration measures, such as the so-called SAFE Act, in a report released today. According to their research "an approach to agricultural labor reform that focuses solely on immigration enforcement would raise food prices over five years by an additional 5 percent to 6 percent and would cut the nation's food and fiber production by as much as a staggering $60 billion."
Senator Schumer (D-NY) is not content to just sit back and let the House of Representatives let the hard work of the Senate "Gang of Eight" die a slow death. In an interview on Meet the Press he seemed to call Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and other House Republicans bluff that their main obstacle to reform is a distrust of the President to actually enforce immigration laws. His solution? Wait to enact the law until 2017, after the President has left office. "Now I think that the rap against him - that he won't enforce the law - is false. He's deported more people than any other president, but you could actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it."
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), a long outspoken advocate against immigration reform, expounded on the current Republican leadership talking point that the President can't be trusted to enforce immigration laws in an editorial for Roll Call. "Even if legislation attempted to secure the border, could we trust the president to enforce the law? Let's look at his record. The Obama administration is releasing more criminal immigrants than they are deporting. Deportations from the interior have declined 40 percent since 2009. And the president has ignored, or undermined through executive orders, a half-dozen immigration laws. The American people rightfully have little confidence that the president would implement security measures."
February 7, 2014
CNN is reporting that "a CNN/ORC International survey…indicates that a majority of the public says that the government's main focus should be legalizing the status of the undocumented rather than border security." "According to the poll, 54% say the top priority for the government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration should be developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants with jobs to eventually become legal U.S. residents. Just over four in ten questioned say the main focus should be developing a plan for stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here."
Remember the Senate Gang of Eight that drafted S.744 that passed the Senate with 68 votes last June? Well, Roll Call has how they're weighing in on whether Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) comments from yesterday mean the end of immigration reform in this Congress. Arizona Republican Senator Flake was disappointed: "I don't know how you don't read impossible out of those statements. I wish we'd do it. We can't keep putting it off." While New York Democratic Senator Schumer was more willing to give the Speaker the benefit of the doubt that passing reform would be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. The other Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, was somewhere in the middle: "I'm still guardedly optimistic. I think [Boehner is] reflecting a lot of the concern that people have because the president has stated, 'I've got a pen and I've got a phone.'" Senator Rubio (R-FL) took the opportunity to commiserate with the Speaker on the trouble with this administration: "The single greatest impediment to immigration reform is the belief among many that no matter what you write in the law it won't be enforced by this administration. I found that to be the single toughest hurdle to overcome when we tried it here in the Senate and I'm not surprised it's the same hurdle they are experiencing in the House."
Evangelical groups aren't too happy either with Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) latest comments to reporters that he doesn't see immigration reform happening this year. In an interview with the Christian Post, Jim Wallis, a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table, laid his frustration out pretty clearly: "With a strong majority of Americans, including evangelicals, wanting leaders to fix our broken immigration system, immigration reform is going to happen. The only question is how many families will be broken up and how much our communities have to suffer until Washington acts."
The Economist had some harsh words for President Obama, labeling him the "deporter-in-chief" in their most recent print issue. They ask "Why would a supposedly liberal president oversee something [the deportation machine] so illiberal, cruel and pointless?" Although they identify the potential for immigration reform and laws passed by nativist Republicans as two reason that the President has espoused when attempting to defend his record setting number of deportations (almost two million), The Economist isn't buying it. "Immigration reform is indeed a great prize. But die-hard nativists are unlikely to be swayed, no matter how tough the laws, and reform can pass without their votes. There are very few things about America that are as vindictive and self-defeating as its deportation machine. Rather than making excuses for keeping it, Mr. Obama should be exposing its awfulness and leading the campaign to de-fang it."
The Wilson Center hosted a conversation with newly installed Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson today, his first as Secretary. Most of his comments focused on the agency's role in preventing terrorism on American soil, but he did weigh in on the immigration reform debate: "the Republicans' recent statement of principles on immigration is a serious step forward on immigration reform, and contains a lot to work with. With both parties' recognition that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed, this should not be an issue used in one way or another for political advantage; rather, we must look to find common sense solutions to a problem we all know we have."
February 6, 2014
Well, that didn't take long: while speaking with reporters today Speaker Boehner (R-OH) seemed to throw a bucket of cold water on the hopes of immigration reform (hopes that he had recently buoyed with the leaking of Republican "standards" for immigration reform last week). He placed the blame squarely on the President's shoulders: "There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes." He added: "We are going to continue to discuss this issue with our members, but I think the president's going to have to demonstrate to the American people and to my colleagues that he can be trusted to enforce the law as it is written."
Restrictionist group NumbersUSA wasn't celebrating either, however. Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations for the group, stated: "Unfortunately since we know that since the Republican leadership wants to push amnesty...we can't trust these declarations."
This came just one day after the Speaker posted FAQs about the Republican "standards" and a side-by-side comparison with the Senate immigration reform bill to his website. His response to "Isn't your approach 'amnesty'?" an unequivocal no. It goes on to say: "Just the opposite is true. Right now, there are few, if any, consequences for living here illegally. What we have now is amnesty. Using tough standards, the House's approach would prohibit a special path to citizenship for those living here outside the law. Before anything else, these individuals would have to admit they broke the law.
The Atlantic reminds us that "Immigration is the only reason the U.S. doesn't have an aging crisis," unlike many other Western countries. Citing a new Pew study, they report that "America's population growth, at 28 percent, will outpace that of many of our economic rivals, including Brazil's (18 percent) and China, Japan, and Germany (all declining)."
Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) is still very concerned with alleged asylum fraud and is holding another House Judiciary Committee hearing next week to delve even further into the issue. He told the Washington Times: "Asylum fraud undermines the integrity of our immigration system and hurts U.S. taxpayers. Once individuals are granted asylum, they receive immediate access to all major federal welfare programs. Our immigration system should be generous to those persecuted around the globe, but we must also ensure our compassion isn't being abused by those seeking to game the system."
February 5, 2014
Last week, House Republicans finally released their "Standards for Immigration Reform." (AILA Doc. No. 14013053.) Watch AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen explain what this means for the prospects for real reform in this AILA Quicktake.
Two conservative opinion writers at the Washington Post are imploring House Republicans to take their opportunity to appeal to Latino voters by passing immigration reform. Michael Gerson notes that "there are valid questions about the timing of the inevitable Republican transition on immigration reform. But it is a good and healthy thing that the argument among House Republicans is increasingly about timing rather than destination. Boehner's initiative is simply an honest recognition of the difficult, inevitable Republican journey that lies ahead." And Jennifer Rubin chides those in the Republican caucus who are showing their colors as patently anti-immigration: "I'm not sure which philosophy says that immigration is bad for America, that non-white people are hopelessly Democratic or that we should round up and deport millions (unless the anti-reformers who touted their respect for law and order now support ignoring the immigration statutes on the books and promoting lawlessness). It doesn't sound like conservatism, let alone the conservatism of the man they venerate, Ronald Reagan."
February 4, 2014
Today, immigration advocacy group National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) submitted a rule making petition to DHS "seeking a temporary suspension of deportations for the millions of undocumented immigrants who would likely benefit from near-term congressional action on immigration. The petition requests that DHS issue a rule granting deferred action status to such immigrants." In a press conference yesterday AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka announced the union would be officially joining the effort to halt deportations citing that it "would actually improve its [the administration's] bargaining position with House Republicans if Obama unilaterally suspended deportations." Additionally, "millions of undocumented immigrants would be allowed to join the public debate."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released the revised N-400, Application for Naturalization form on their website. (AILA Doc. No. 14020440.) AILA and CLINIC collaborated on comments to the proposed revisions on February 15, 2013. (AILA Doc. No. 13022047.) A few weeks ago the Congressional Research Service released a new report providing background and data on the U.S. Naturalization Policy to help inform the current immigration reform debate. (AILA Doc. No. 14020442.)
February 3, 2014
Yesterday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) went on Face the Nation to discuss the prospects for Republicans to move immigration reform in the House of Representatives. He began by reiterating the oft-repeated Republican line on the problems of working with President Obama, "There's a lot of distrust of this administration of implementing the law…I think we're going to have to do something about that to see a way forward on immigration." Leader Cantor did not provide any concrete steps forward or any specifics regarding pending legislation.
On another Sunday morning show, This Week, Rep. Paul Ryan echoed the same concerns: "It [immigration reform] depends on whether they're [the administration] willing to actually secure the border, actually have interior enforcement and not - and agree to not having an amnesty. If we can do that, where it's security first, no amnesty, then we might be able to get somewhere."
The Washington Post highlights the growing pressure placed on immigration court judges to make decisions that have the potential the forever alter the trajectory of immigrants lives, all in less than seven minutes. This has only been compounded by the lack of funding for additional immigration judges and the always changing landscape of immigration law.
Those watching the Super Bowl yesterday might have seen what some are calling the most controversial ad of the day-a Coca Cola ad featuring children singing "America the Beautiful" in seven different languages. Last year the CEO and Chairman of the company wrote an op-ed in USA Today calling on Congress to create a "modern system with rational laws and regulations, strong border controls, greater opportunities for skilled foreign-born professionals and a clear way forward for undocumented workers - a potential route to U.S. citizenship that bears all the rights, responsibilities and obligations of that coveted status."
January 31, 2014
President Obama weighed in on the Republican standards for immigration reform released yesterday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. He seemed open to working with Republicans, even if that means no special path to citizenship: "... I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan, really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done. And keep in mind that the Senate bill and the legislation that I've supported already calls for a very long process of earning citizenship. You had to pay fines. You had to learn English. You had to pay back taxes. And you had to go to the back of the line. And at the end of that, you could get citizenship."
Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter to Members of the House of Representatives documenting their support for immigration reform this year. "As Mayors, we have a ground-level understanding of the pressing economic and moral imperatives that necessitate changing our national immigration system, and we urge the House to expeditiously bring legislation to the floor."
Two weeks ago the New York Times editorial board responded to the 18 billion dollars included in the appropriations bills for immigration enforcement in an on-point editorial, specifically targeting the detention bed quota as a waste of taxpayer money. Well, Rep. Bob Goodlattee, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, responded last week with a letter to the editor. In it her argues that "detention is the surest way to guarantee that those unlawful immigrants who have committed crimes and who have final orders of deportation are actually removed. Allowing criminal illegal immigrants to roam our communities needlessly endangers Americans."
January 30, 2014
In news that's been hyped for weeks, Republicans today released their "Standards for Immigration Reform." (AILA Doc. No. 14013053.) The one page document mainly follows the narrative that Republican leadership has been espousing for months: border security and interior enforcement as the top priority and a commitment to some sort of legalization program for those in the country without legal status. The document also highlights the important of implementing an entry-exit visa tracking system and employment verification, above and beyond interior enforcement.
AILA National President Doug Stump commented of the standards: "The release of these standards is a much needed sign of movement. While the principles articulated are vague, and amenable to any number of meanings, they show some promise of a willingness to look at our existing system and work across the aisle to find ways to fix it. We are encouraged that House Republicans see a need to bring those living undocumented in the U.S. out of the shadows, and that they wish to reform the legal immigration system, the dysfunction of which has been the primary factor in illegal immigration." (AILA Doc. No. 14013030.)
The National Immigration Forum released a report documenting the "Public Support for Immigration reform with Path to Citizenship Steady as House Gets Ready for Reform." The report includes the results of a number of polls done over the past few months on the public's attitudes towards reform, specifically with a path to citizenship. They note that "in general, the more a poll question describes requirements similar to those already contained in legislation, the more the public supports a proposed path to citizenship."
January 29, 2014
121 words on immigration reform in last night's State of the Union:
"Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement - and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams - to study, invent, and contribute to our culture - they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let's get immigration reform done this year."
President Obama gave Republican leadership in the House of Representatives a wide berth to move forward with immigration reform in whatever way they see best. Unlike last year he did not mention citizenship, he didn't make a call for comprehensive reform or give a timeline for getting reform done. He simply outlined reform as a priority and reinforced why it would be a boon for the American economy.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) delivered the official Republican response to the speech and dedicated 42 words to immigration (in a much shorter speech). "And yes, it's time to honor our history of legal immigration. We're working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world."
AILA President Doug Stump commented, "We've actually come a long way on immigration reform since President Obama's last State of the Union but we haven't gone far enough. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill but that's where the progress really stalled. The House needs to move on immigration reform or we won't get a system that functions for our country. Why is this so hard? I'm a Republican, I see the need for real reform, and I'm positive it can be done. However, if the House leadership continues to drag its heels, we ask that the President take immediate action to reform its deportation practices and reverse the harm done to families, businesses, and communities by aggressive and unnecessary enforcement. Keep those families intact, keep those businesses running until we see real reform happen, hopefully this year," he concluded. (AILA Doc. No. 14012904.)
This morning Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) went on MSNBC and confirmed that the Republican immigration reform proposal would include legalization, but that Congressional Republicans are concerned about the President going around the laws, especially when it comes to securing the borders. Chuck Todd pushed the Congressman on whether citizenship would be available to those who legalize under this bill. While Rep. Ryan was cagey on the answer, he seemed to indicate that immigrants would be able to adjust using existing channels if individuals are not on welfare, the borders are secured and they go to the back of the line.
Stuart Anderson released a paper through the National Foundation for American Policy, "A Path to an Agreement?: Analyzing Plans for Legalizing the Unauthorized Immigrant Population." In the paper he compares the purported House legalization plan, that does not provide a "special" path to citizenship, but instead confers legal status and then allows immigrants to use already existing green card categories to pursue permanent status if they so choose. He finds that this "potential House approach could permit an estimated 4.4 million to 6.5 million unauthorized immigrants to gain lawful permanent residence. That is compared to potentially 8 million in the Senate-passed bill, according to CBO."
The Evangelical Immigration Table continues their efforts to pray for reform. In a full page ad in USA Today they address Republicans: "Dear House GOP Members: We're Praying for You…We pray God will guide you and give you the wisdom as you develop your principles for immigration reform. We pray God will show you a path forward that honors the rule of law (Romans 13) and the call to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25). We pray for reform this year. Our churches, our communities, and our country urgently await your action."
State immigration enforcement is bad for public safety and bad for business. (AILA Doc. Nos. 14012849 and 14012850.) AILA has two new infographics that highlight how state and local immigration law enforcement laws waste resources and undermine trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and local police and how they're bad for business, harming states' economies, and costing jobs and tax revenue.
January 28, 2014
Everyone's talking about the Republican principles on immigration reform that are expected to be released sometime in the next week, but what do they really mean for the prospects for reform in the 113th Congress? US News and World Report reports that "the House is expected to move on eight bills this year that range from border security measures to new visa quotas," but advocates have yet to see any real legislative language indicating as such. Greg Sargent at The Washington Post expresses some optimism that rumors are swirling that the principles will include a legalization plan for the undocumented, but cautions that "opponents of reform will insist that Republicans demand such triggers in exchange for legalization, precisely because those opponents know it will kill reform."
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) takes a look at "IRCA in Retrospect" as a guidepost for today's immigration reform. Although many politicians on both sides of the aisle like to point to the increase in the undocumented population following the passage of the law in 1986 due to the lack of enforcement as the most important lesson to be learned (on how to do things differently this time around) MPI argues that "IRCA's fundamental flaw was it exclusive focus on illegal immigration, neglecting to provide for future U.S. social and labor market needs."
Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has been tapped to deliver the Spanish Republican response to the State of the Union tonight. She has been an active support of immigration reform, coming out in support for citizenship and visiting the Fast 4 Families fasters at their tent on the National Mall.
America's Voice released a new website today profiling "The Human Cost of Inaction" on immigration reform. The site shares the stories of families fighting to stay together in the light of President Obama's record number of deportations.
January 27, 2014
The Fast for Families campaign is taking their show on the road. After a month long fast in Washington, D.C. whose visitors include the President and First Lady, the Vice President, the Minority Leader and dozens of members of Congress, the campaign announced today they will visit more than 100 congressional districts in the next three months to "engage constituents in a dialogue about the moral crisis caused by our broken immigration system and encourage them to fast, act and pray."
In an op-ed in today's USA Today, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a longtime opponent of immigration reform or increased immigration makes the case that "Newcomers cost Americans millions of jobs." In anticipation of the President speaking on the importance of reform during the State of the Union tomorrow night he cites Harvard professor George Borjas research that "determined that high levels of immigration from 1980 through 2000 resulted in a 7.4% wage reduction for workers without a high school diploma" and that "current immigration policy resulted in a net wage loss of $402 billion for workers competing directly with immigrant labor."
The Center for American Progress released a report today using evidence from Europe and North America to make "The Economic Case for a Clear, Quick Pathway to Citizenship." "The literature on new and old immigrant-destination countries shows that the clearer the pathway to citizenship, the greater the gains, and that the optimal waiting period for citizenship is roughly five years. Placing significant restrictions and lengthy delays on immigrants' ability to become citizens diminishes the size of their ultimate economic premium for two reasons. The number of years that an immigrant can work for higher wages as a naturalized citizen declines, and immigrants have fewer incentives to invest in training and new skills as they age. Also, the best and the brightest immigrants may leave for their home countries or other, more welcoming countries."
Tonight, PBS will premiere the new documentary The State of Arizona, profiling the multiple perspectives that came to a head in the fight over SB 1070, the show me your papers law.
January 24, 2014
Over the last month, House Republicans, especially those in leadership, have been doing a lot of talking about the Republican plan for immigration reform, but as of yet have taken no action. Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered some additional insight on what might be coming: "Let's just say it's eight bills - I don't know. These will represent a smart approach. We don't want to get into a situation where we end up with some big 1,000-page bill. But we do realize there are things that have to be sequenced."
Richard S. Biehl, the police chief of Dayton, Ohio (Speaker John Boehner's (R) home district) argued in a Roll Call Editorial today against the so-called SAFE Act. "And what I know from my professional experience is that the so-called SAFE Act, a bill pending in the House that would allow all 50 states and all localities to enact their own immigration enforcement laws, would be an unmitigated disaster and should not be used as a the vehicle to jump-start immigration reform. In spite of its misleading name, it would actually make our communities less safe."
The Heritage Foundation announced this week the hiring of Stephen Moore, a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, as a chief economist. Moore acknowledged that he has taken a different stance on the importance of reform than the organization's current leader, former Republican Senator Jim DeMint. "Jim DeMint and I may not agree on everything about immigration, but what Jim wants me and others to do is develop a pro-growth immigration policy for the country. I don't want Heritage to be viewed as anti-immigration. We all know immigration is vitally important to our economy. Our goal will be to develop an immigration policy that's in the best interest of America, our economy, and allows the United States to get the best and brightest people to come here."
A recent Fox News poll asked respondents: "Which of the following comes closest to your view about what government policy should be toward illegal immigrants currently in the United States?" 1. "Send all illegal immigrants back to their home country," 2. "Have a guest worker program that allows immigrants to remain in the United States to work, but only for a limited amount of time," 3. "Allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, but only if they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check."
68 percent of respondents said they favored a pathway to citizenship, and only 15 percent supported sending immigrants back to their home country.
Did you know that illegal entry and re-entry was the most prosecuted crime at the federal level in the United States in 2013? With criminal charges filed against more than 90,000 immigrants last year, at a cost of over $1 billion, one has to wonder about the Attorney General's prosecutorial priorities. Ruthie Epstein, in a blog for the ACLU, reminds readers that "ICE is not the only player in the deportation game. In a prime example of misplaced priorities, our federal criminal justice system is playing an overzealous role in it too."
The National Council of LA Raza and Mi Familia Vota are joining forces to launch a Mobilize to Vote 2014 effort to register 250,000 Latino voters by the midterm elections in November. Both groups have played large roles in the push for immigration reform and are just two of many that understand the importance the outcome of the midterm elections will have on the hopes of successful immigration reform. As La Raza President and CEO, Janet Murguia, put it: "We must push to register as many eligible Latino voters as possible, particularly as we approach a midterm election that will no doubt have an impact on how issues important to our community-such as immigration reform-are addressed moving forward."
The Partnership for a New American Economy launched a new effort today in the fight for reform, #iamimmigration. The campaign gives people a platform to share their specific reason for supporting reform and easily share it on social media site.
January 23, 2014
The Department of Homeland Security released their annual report for Immigration Enforcement Actions in 2012. They note that: "ICE detained approximately 478,000 foreign nationals, an all-time high, 230,000 foreign nationals were returned to their home countries without a removal order," and that "DHS removed 419,000 foreign nationals from the United States."
Next Tuesday, at 9 p.m., the President will address both Houses of Congress in the annual State of the Union address. Most assume that the President will once again use the opportunity to single out immigration reform as a priority issue for his second term in the White House. Republican conference chairwoman in the House (and highest ranking Republican woman in Congress), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), will deliver the Republican response to the speech. Rep. McMorris Rodgers has been fairly tight-lipped concerning her position on immigration thus far, especially on the issues surrounding legalization and a road to citizenship. Some might remember that Senate Gang of Eight member Marco Fubio (R-FL) delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union last year. Additionally, two DACA recipients will join the Illinois delegation to hear the President's speech firsthand.
FWD.us launched a new app today, born out of the "hackathon" the group sponsored with DREAMers last year. The app, Push4Reform, connects users with their Member of Congress and provides easy to use tools to contact them through various channels.
January 22, 2014
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives and therefore a member of Republican leadership, has fully committed to "legal status" for undocumented immigrants currently in the country that allows them to work and pay taxes. His interview comes as the Republican conference is preparing to release a set of principles that they say will guide their work on immigration for the rest of the year.
Yesterday, the National Conference of State Legislatures released their annual report breaking down state immigration laws proposed and passed. They note that "state immigration legislation in 2013 seemed to shift in response to two federal actions in 2012 [the Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States and DACA], changing from a focus on immigration law enforcement measures to some expanded state benefits for immigrants." In 2013 states enacted a total of 184 laws (plus an additional 253 resolutions), up 64 percent from 2012. Some select highlights: eight states extended driver's license eligibility to undocumented immigrants, four states expanded in-state tuition to undocumented students (bringing the total to 15), and no states passed enforcement only omnibus legislation.
The New York Times reflects on the importance a decade long friendship might have in the continued fight for immigration reform on Capitol Hill. Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) newly hired immigration policy expert, Becky Tallent, and White House staffer, Esther Olavarria, have known each other since their days in the Senate, Ms. Tallent working for Sen. McCain (R-AZ) and Ms. Olavarria working for Sen. Kennedy (D-MA). During their time there "the two women spent months in marathon back-room deal-making sessions as they repeatedly tried to bring lawmakers together on overhauls that would have given legal status to immigrants, secured the border and opened the country to more legal workers. In the process, they formed a friendship that transcended party affiliation." Many are hoping that the relationship will help ease the tension that's preventing the House from moving forward on immigration reform today.
January 21, 2014
Starting tomorrow, the Republican National Committee will begin their winter meetings to discuss party strategy for the upcoming mid-term elections, among other things. While most pundits believe that the Republican controlled House of Representatives is not in any real danger of switching to Democratic control, and that in fact it is the Democratic controlled Senate that may switch it's majority party, top Republicans are urging Party leaders to look beyond 2014, to at least 2016. In an interview with the Associated Press Ari Fleischer, a top aide to President George W. Bush, had a simple question: "What is the character of the [Republican] party? Are we a more inclusive and welcoming party yet?"
A year ago the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus published a report detailing how the Republican Party could broaden its appeal. The only specific policy recommendation included in the report was the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Although Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has stated that House Republicans will be releasing a set of immigration reform principles in the coming week, he has yet to lay out a concrete plan for bringing immigration reform (with a legalization component) to the floor of the House for a vote. So, while the RNC in the last year "has launched new efforts to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities" and "renewed efforts to win over Hispanics nationally with voter outreach staffers", many (both within the party and those looking in) are wondering whether it will be enough to get to 270 electoral college votes in 2016.
The omnibus federal spending bill approved by both chambers of Congress last week and signed by the President maintained a status quo for immigration enforcement funding, including mandating that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) maintain and fill 34,000 immigration detention beds every day. Often called the bed mandate or the detention bed quota, the practice is widely derided by law enforcement groups, immigration advocates, and those concerned with the cost of detention.
In an editorial this past weekend the New York Times questions the wisdom of spending $2.8 billion on detention at the same time other programs are being squeezed. "Take the irrational obligation to fill all those detention beds, at a cost of about $122 a day. Why make the people who run a vast and expensive law-enforcement apparatus responsible for keeping prison beds warm rather than communities safe - especially when there are low-cost alternatives to detention that don't involve fattening the bottom lines of for-profit prison corporations?"
President Obama has expressed confidence to Democratic lawmakers that the House of Representatives Republican leadership will pass immigration reform in 2014. Advocates are anticipating the President's State of the Union Speech to further advance immigration as a top priority for this White House and provide some insight into the President's plan to act if Congress won't.
January 17, 2013
Employment Verification (E-Verify) is often thought of as a necessary component of any comprehensive immigration legislative solution. Mandatory E-Verify was included in the senate bill that passed with 68 votes, and a more aggressive mandatory E-Verify bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last summer with all Republicans voting in favor (and all Democrats voting in opposition). (AILA Doc. Nos. 13041760 and 13071149.) In an article for the CATO Institute, using data obtained by a Freedom of Information Request, Alex Nowrasteh argues that "the economic costs of nationally mandating E-Verify caused by TNC [tentative non-confirmations] resolution delays would be higher than many of its proponents care to admit. That and the other economic costs of E-Verify, the worrying privacy issues surrounding it, its lackluster performance, and how it makes everyone ask for permission from the government to work should temper enthusiasm for this scheme."
This week the Senate and House came together to both pass a $1.1 trillion spending package for fiscal year 2014. This marks the first budget in a decade that hasn't increased funding for border patrol, although it does increase funding for customs inspectors. Unfortunately, the spending bill maintains the detention bed quota that requires Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to maintain, and fill, 34,000 immigrant detention beds a day.
Over 80 DREAMers have published an open letter to "friends and allies in the immigrant rights movement" calling on them to move beyond the banner of citizenship or nothing. Specifically they ask advocates and Democrats to "Focus on a practical legislative solution for immediate relief for families, even if it doesn't include a special path to citizenship. Our families and communities need relief now, not ideological hard lines."
On December 16th of last year the Philippines government officially requested Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for its citizens in the United States as a result of the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. (AILA Doc. No. 13111806.) As of yet the United States government has not responded to this request. A coalition of Filipino advocates and community groups have come together to urge the U.S. State Department to grant TPS designation and are asking individuals to make calls into the State Department comment line (202-647-6575). Visit www.tps4filipinos.org for more information.
Will Justin Bieber be deported? Inquiring minds want to know. ThinkProgress tackles this important question, but also uses it to "underscore a problem that 1,200 immigrants, including lawful permanent residents, experience every day," the tragedy of deportation.
In the depressing news of the day, a restrictionist organization is capitalizing on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday by releasing an ad that asks if "high American unemployment and wage depression [was] Martin Luther King's dream?" Joe Guzzardi, Media Director for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), commented, "As we mark the great Dr. King's birthday, it's safe to say, higher minority unemployment and no wage increase in 40 years were not part of his dream for Americans. So, why do so many of our congressional leaders today want to admit millions more immigrant workers to take jobs and depress wages when hardworking African-American and Hispanic American workers can't find jobs? Have our leaders lost sight of Dr. King's dream?"
January 16, 2014
The mid-term elections are still ten months away, but they are playing an oversized role in Washington politics. While many predict that Democrats have a slim chance of taking back the House (they would need to win 17 additional seats), the Republicans' prospects for taking control of the Senate aren't quite as dim (they only need to pick up six seats). Of 33 Senate seats up for re-election, 20 are held by Democrats and only 13 by Republicans. The Week profiles the seven Senate races they think will determine the fate of the Senate for 2015.
This all matters for immigration reform. If Congress doesn't pass immigration reform by the end of the 113th Congress (end of 2014), Senate bill 744 dies and the Senate will have to begin the process anew in 2015. Who controls the Senate (and by how many votes) could dramatically impact what that debate, and potential legislation, looks like.
The Immigration Policy Center releases a new report on the "Revitalization in the Heartland of America." The report focuses on "the journeys of three places-two cities and one state-in their efforts to implement strategies for future economic success that depend on immigration. The initiatives are taking place against a backdrop of tepid progress toward comprehensive federal reform of the U.S. immigration system."
January 15, 2014
Fawn Johnson, of the National Journal, threw some cold water over advocates hope for what the so-called "Republican principles" could mean for the chances of passing immigration reform. She reports that most expect the principles to be "broad, nebulous eve, and heavily focused on Republicans' favorite issue-border security." Now, that's not to say that these principles, no matter how enforcement or border security heavy, aren't a step forward on the Republican leadership's still elusive path towards sensible reform, but they're by no means a guarantee. As Johnson puts it, "no matter what happens [ultimately], Boehner will come out a winner just for the effort. If [the principles] flops over hardliners' objections to anything that approaches amnesty for illegal immigrants, Boehner and Republican campaign leaders looking for cash can still tell the business community they tried."
Even so, the conservative outlet National Review is skeptical of the House Republican leadership's end game and commitment to a piecemeal approach. "Conservative critics of the Gang of Eight bill have long suspected the GOP's "piecemeal" strategy is just a political ruse to get to a comprehensive result. Real step-by-step reform, they argue, would involve passing border-security legislation, for example, and only taking up other elements of reform once those changes have been signed into law and implemented."
Story telling is an important part of the immigration advocacy community strategy and Salon provides us with a great one. "This shopping mall's amazing story is the perfect argument for immigration reform."
January 14, 2014
Virginia lawmakers are hoping to join New Jersey in providing in-state tuition for undocumented students who attend Virginia colleges or universities. Two bills were introduced in this year's legislative session, one by a Democrat and one by a Republican.
Senate Democratic leadership is fighting back against an amendment proffered by Sen. Ayotte (R-NH) that would eliminate the child tax credit for five million children of undocumented immigrants. The vote on the amendment is expected sometime this week before an ultimate vote on the extension of emergency unemployment benefits.
January 13, 2014
Dr. Tom K. Wong, in a blog for the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, ponders the political scenarios under which the House will pass immigration reform.
Think Progress reports on an exchange between House Majority Leader Eric cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (R-MD) on the economic possibilities of immigration reform: "Immigration reform could be an economic boon to this country. We've got to do it right … and along those lines, the Speaker has said we are going to look for the release of a list of principles of our position … of what we believe is an appropriate path forward for immigration reform...As the gentleman knows, I have been a strong proponent of the Kids Act, working with the Chairman of the Committee on it because all of us can agree that we shouldn't hold kids accountable for the misdeeds or illegal acts of their parents.
January 10, 2014
Politico reports that in an interview with Telemundo, set to air this Sunday, Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) "says he sees 'no reason' why current undocumented immigrants shouldn't gain legal status as long as Congress enacts tougher border-security and enforcement measures."
Chicago Representative Luis Gutierrez spoke with Fusion's Jorge Ramos
and called on Democrats to put their money where their mouth is: "Democrats think all they need to do is to simply blame Republicans. You know what? We control the White House and we control the deportation apparatus. We have a responsibility to act." He went on to say that's he still hopeful that something will get out of Congress to provide relief to undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The National Immigration Law Center has pulled together a table to support Rep. Gutierrez's point, arguing that "DHS has the capacity to expand it prosecutorial discretion guidelines." In this table they have compiled they outline existing forms of prosecutorial discretion, the authority for relief and who is eligible.
January 9, 2014
The LA Times reports that Speaker Boehner told fellow Republicans in the House in a closed door meeting that he is working on a set of priorities to guide the House's effort to reform the country's immigration laws: "We are working on a standards or principles document."
Not to be outdone, Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, did not shy away from the issue of immigration in his annual "State of American Business" address on Wednesday. "We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted. The Chamber will pull out all the stops - through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics and partnerships with unions, faith organizations, law enforcement and others - to get it done."
Yesterday, 16 Republican members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama rebuking his attempts to get an immigration bill through Congress and to his desk. (AILA Doc. No. 14010944.) Citing the "21 million Americans who can't find a full time job" and the "6 million younger Americans who are neither working nor in school" they state that they "reject [his] call for the House to get an immigration bill to [his] desk that would permanently displace American workers." The signers included the usuals (Reps. Steve King (IA), Lamar Smith (TX), Mo Brooks (AL), and Steve Stockman (TX)) and other recognizable names (Reps. Michelle Bachmann (MN) and Joe Wilson (SC)).
Not that we need any more convincing, but FWD.us pulled together a list of the "14 Reasons To Pass Immigration Reform in 2014" with infographics included.
As we head into 2014 advocates, the media and Representatives themselves are concerned about the political will of Republican leadership to take on immigration reform during an election year. The theory being that forcing members of the Republican caucus to take "hard" votes on immigration related bills while potentially fending off primary challengers and/or Democrats in the general elections will make it harder for them to retain their seats in Congress. The Center for American Progress has pulled together "Five Major Immigration Laws that the House Passed in an Election Year" (although not all good, IIRAIRA anyone) to disabuse us of that notion. Additionally, back in June, Buzzfeed tried to dispel the notion that immigration would significantly affect Republican primary voters' decision making.
January 8, 2014
reported that ICE confirmed that 13 pregnant women had been detained in immigration detention facilities over the last four months. Although ICE says pregnant women are not detained "absent extraordinary circumstances," Jorge Ramos delves deeper into the story to find out more about the circumstances surrounding the detention of these women. Buzzfeed
picked up the story and ICE confirmed that "the undocumented immigrant [pregnant] women were an enforcement priority because they had either recently entered the country or had been issued final orders of removal."
David Leopold, former president of AILA, was shocked by the number: "If you're going to detain a pregnant woman there ought to be a damn good reason for it…But we have to ask ourselves a couple questions - are these people really priorities? And, if not, why are these women being locked up?"
Last year advocates successfully pushed back against an attempt to repeal the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit for undocumented parents and their children. However, the fight continues. Although six Republicans joined Senate Democrats yesterday to push the extension of unemployment insurance benefits over a procedural 60 vote hurdle, they have been insistent in the need to find offsets to pay for the legislation. Sen. Ayotte (R-NH) put forward her own solution that again seeks to eliminate child tax credit eligibility for the approximately 5.5 million children with undocumented parents.
Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation granting in-state tuition benefits to undocumented students living in New Jersey. Speaking at the signing ceremony, flanked by a coalition of advocacy groups who supported the bill, he stated: "The fact is that the taxpayers of this state have made an enormous investment in these young people, and the question is: do we want to maximize our investment through giving them nothing more than an opportunity? There is no guarantee of success here, and because the DREAM Act has been signed it does not mean that every student who now has the opportunity to go to college will succeed. Some will, some won't. Some will exceed beyond anyone's expectations and some not. But our job, I believe as a government, is to give every one of these children, who we have already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in, an opportunity to maximize that investment for their own benefit, for the benefit of their families, and for the benefit of our state and our country."
January 7, 2014
Yesterday, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, joined restrictionist Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, on NPR for a discussion about “Reframing the Immigration Conversation for 2014.” Although Krikorian and Noorani faced off on the increased immigration numbers included in the Senate bill, Krikorian did acquiesce that deporting millions of immigrants may not be politically or logistically feasible. “Much of the public, including myself, is actually open to the idea of legalizing long-term illegal immigrants who aren't criminals and maybe have kids here, that kind of thing. I mean, you know, I'm not committing myself to anything, but that's a plausible thing. I don't like it. It's expensive. It's distasteful.”
Keeping up with Speaker Boehner’s (R-OH) and his internal dialogue on what to do on immigration reform in 2014 in the House of Representatives is an almost impossible task. Thankfully, the New York Times has pulled together a compilation of the varying statements he’s made on immigration over the last year or so.
January 6, 2014
John Stanton, staff writer at Buzzfeed, is here to throw cold water on immigration reform advocate’s hopes for 2014 as Congress returns to session. In his article, “Why 2014 Won’t Be the Year for New Immigration Laws,” he argues that although “ [Speaker] Boehner and his leadership team may be inclined toward handling immigration reform, they’ve made clear they won’t back a comprehensive bill. Rather, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor remain committed to their strategy of moving a series of smaller measures — a position that hasn’t changed for months.”
Talking Points Memo thinks that the Speaker’s recent actions (hiring immigration expert Becky Tallent and lashing out at more conservative members of his party) should still be considered as potentially good news for advocates in the coming election year. But they note that “the Speaker faces important obstacles even if his endgame is more about messaging than results. Firstly, conservatives don't trust him on the issue and may not go along with his plans. Secondly, there's no internal consensus among House Republicans on which immigration reforms to enact. Thirdly, primary season is coming up and members will be watching their backs for conservative challengers ready to pounce on them if they support more lenient immigration laws.”
January 3, 2014
Last month Speaker Boehner (R-OH) gave advocates an early present by announcing that he had hired Becky Tallent, an immigration expert from the Bipartisan Policy Center, to join his staff. Want to know a little more about the Speaker’s newest hire, Fusion has pulled together some of her most relevant tweets.
January 2, 2014
Last Thursday, December 26, the California Supreme Court ruled that undocumented immigrants who meet the requirements to practice law in California must be given a legal license. The ruling was the first of its kind, although two similar suits are pending in Florida and New York. The ruling followed a California law, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last Fall, stating that undocumented immigrants who were otherwise eligible should receive licenses.
The NY Times seems optimistic that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) might be open to pursuing changes to this country's immigration system on the floor of the House in the 2nd session of the 113th Congress. However, they note that "House Republicans have a retreat scheduled this month, and are unlikely to make any strategic decisions about immigration before then" and that Speaker Boehner is as committed to a piece by piece approach as ever.
At the end of 2013 AILA sent a letter to newly confirmed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson outlining suggested priorities for DHS for the coming year. (AILA Doc. No. 14010246.)
Last week, PBS NewsHour tried to answer the question: "Will 2014 yield immigration reform?" Judy Woodruff was joined by Mark Hugo Lopez director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center, Tamar Jacoby, head of ImmigrationWorks USA, Angela Maria Kelley, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, and Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.
December 23, 2013
As ICE released the official removal numbers for fiscal year 2013 last week, Buzzfeed takes a closer look at the hardships faced by Mexican nationals returning "home," often ending up in border towns like Tijuana, Nogales and Juarez. "While the impacts of deportation on America may seemingly end at the border, for the deported - in Tijuana, for instance, deportation rates range from 200 to 500 repatriated Mexican citizens every day, while in Nogales 50, 150, or more - it means a whole new set of life-threatening challenges."
The front page of the New York Times today highlighted how "In New Orleans, street sweeps by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this year also led to a protest. On Nov. 14, nearly two dozen demonstrators, including 14 immigrants without legal status, tied up midday traffic at one of the city's busiest intersections for nearly three hours until the local police arrested them."
Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, offers some pearls of wisdom for new DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. Here are the highlights of her advice: 1. "real security balances protection and benefits," 2. "the immigration responsibilities entrusted to DHS are not simply a matter of keeping 'bad' people out of the country," 3. "DHS risks alienating state partners if it insists on removal policies that destroy families and communities," 4. "pressing for immigration reform should become part of DHS culture," and 5. "the opportunity to create a national immigration policy is now."
United We DREAM has launched the DACA Renewal Network that offers customized reminders and notifications for those who sign up when the renewal window approaches.
December 20, 2013
In an interview today with NPR President Obama expressed frustration at the lack of movement on immigration reform: "The fact that it didn't hit the timeline that I'd prefer is frustrating, but it's not something I brood about."
At the same time, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told The Hill that he saw a way forward for an immigration bill to pass through the House by next summer. "Noting that Boehner has made it 'abundantly clear' that he'd like to move immigration bills, Cole said that 'we just saw a budget deal that made progress that brought people together from both sides from very different perspectives and I suspect that can be done on immigration as well.'"
Alejandro Mayorkas is officially now the number two official at the Department of Homeland Security. In a vote early this morning, the Senate confirmed him on a 54-41 vote. AILA National President Doug Stump commented on the confirmation: "Mr. Mayorkas has led U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since August, 2009 and has overseen the implementation of numerous initiatives, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the provisional waivers policy…It is heartening to have a Deputy Secretary with such a strong background in immigration issues who can serve as a resource for the DHS components who hold primary immigration law responsibility." (AILA Doc. No. 13122048.)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey legislature have reached an agreement to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students. Governor Christie had previously threatened to veto the bill, but after the Legislature made changes to the bill, signed the bill into law. "The most important thing is for these young men and women of our state, who we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education, we're now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education."
Everyone's talking about the drop in removal numbers for FY2013 by ICE, but Immigration Impact explains why the New ICE Deportation Statistics Are No Cause for Celebration."
The Center for American Progress has compiled the Best of Immigration Progress: 2013.
December 19, 2013
ICE officially released their removal numbers today--from October 2012 through September 2013 ICE removed another 368,644 individuals. (AILA Doc. No. 13121950). Although this is the first time in five years of the Obama administration that the numbers have dropped from the previous year, the Obama administration still far exceeds predecessors not only in overall removal numbers but also in detention numbers and criminal prosecutions for immigration-related offenses. Watch AILA Advocacy Direction Greg Chen explain why these removal numbers are misleading. (AILA Doc. No. 13121944.)
On a related note, newly confirmed DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, had some words about his opposition to deportation quotas in a letter he sent to Senator Durbin (D-IL). "I do not believe that deportation quotas or numeric goals are a good idea. As I stated above, in my view, immigration enforcement must be focused first on those who pose a threat to our national security, public safety and the integrity of our borders. If confirmed, I intend to continually evaluate the prosecutorial discretion guidelines of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure they are consistent with the Department's enforcement priorities."
The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project released the results of a survey today that indicate that "among Hispanics, a larger share say it is more important that unauthorized immigrants be able to live and work in the U.S. without threat of deportation than say they should have a pathway to citizenship-55% vs. 35%. This view is more pronounced among immigrant Hispanics than it is among native-born Hispanics."
This month the Congressional Budget Office released the cost estimate for the so-called SAFE Act (H.R. 2278). (AILA Doc. Nos. 13121942 and 13060654.) "CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2278 would cost $22.9 billion over the 2014-2018 period."
The Real Cost of Inaction on Immigration profiles the number of deportations that have occurred since the Senate bill passed, and the newly eligible Asian, Latino and immigrant voters, respectively 196,058 and 40,536,927 as of 5:30pm ET.
This Sunday, December 22nd, new network Fusion will air a one-hour special examining "the battle at the border between U.S. and Mexico and profile some of the people whose lives have been affected by this hot button issue." The special will be hosted by Mariana Van Zeller.
December 18, 2013
In exciting news this week in TPS, the Philippine government made an official request of the United States for Temporary Protected Status for its citizens in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Immigration attorney and AILA member Rio Guerrero explains what's happening right now in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13121642.)
Alejandro Mayorkas looks to get a full Senate vote on his confirmation sometime in the next 24-48 hours after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) formally filed cloture on his nomination. Due to the change in executive nomination Senate rules the Republicans will not be able to filibuster the nomination and it will move forward for a vote.
`Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and aspiring American Jose Antonio Vargas has just launched a new effort to unite people in the push for immigration reform. He explains his effort to encourage Americans to embrace the symbol of a hand over a heart and take the Pledge this way: "I've been pledging allegiance since middle school, to a flag and government that have yet to recognize me. This new symbol is a sign of unity-a reminder that as Americans, both documented and undocumented, we stand together in the fight for immigration reform."
Two and a half years ago the Alabama state government passed the toughest anti-immigrant law in the United States, HB 56. After a series of legal challenges, outcries from the business, faith and law enforcement community, and a change in the national conversation (and attitudes) around immigration and immigrants in the United States, the law remains in tatters. (AILA Doc. No. 12032163.) Benjy Sarlin, for MSNBC, examines How America's harshest immigration law failed. "Early reports suggested success: undocumented immigrants appeared to flee Alabama en masse. But two years later, HB 56 is in ruins. Its most far-reaching elements have proved unconstitutional, unworkable, or politically unsustainable. Elected officials, social workers, clergy, activists, and residents say an initial immigrant evacuation that roiled their communities ended long ago. Many who fled have returned to their old homes. Now Alabama is back where it started, waiting for a solution from Washington that may never come."
As localities around the country are pushing back against authoring ICE detainer holds, the Immigration Policy Center released a primer on The Faulty Legal Arguments Being Immigration Detainers. The author, Christopher Lasch, Esq., argues that "detainers are invalid in many instances for the same reason the Supreme Court struck down numerous parts of SB 1070-they permit law enforcement action inconsistent with laws enacted by Congress. Moreover, as Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion also makes clear, the use of immigration detainers raises serious problems under the Fourth Amendment, which requires state and local law enforcement officials to have 'probable cause' that a person has violated the law before placing him or her under arrest or extending the period of custody."
December 17, 2013
Yesterday, in a 78-16 vote, the full Senate confirmed Jeh Johson as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. AILA President Doug Stump commented: “Secretary Johnson takes the reins of DHS at a crucial time in the department's history -a time when no issue is more important than modernizing our immigration laws. Our nation is on the cusp of immigration reform, and we look forward to working with the Secretary to find a way to meet our national security needs while affirming the fundamental values and rights on which our country was founded.” (AILA Doc. No. 13121742.) President Obama commented as well: “In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure.” (AILA Doc. No. 13121760.)
Bloomberg Businessweek today announced that “Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law.” They report that “the government deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show. If that pace continued through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, removals would reach a six-year low.”
December 16, 2013
Late last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a budget deal agreed to by Republican leaders from the House and Democratic leaders from the Senate. Although the deal was championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) it still drew the ire of many Tea Party Representatives and a umber of outside advocacy groups; this was enough to incite Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to share some choice words about the motivations of these parties. "Frankly, I think they're misleading their followers. I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility."
This statement by the Speaker, along with the bipartisan budget deal, have pundits and Representatives on both sides of the aisle thinking immigration reform might be a possibility in 2014. Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, is certainly one of those, telling MSNBC: "The speaker also wants to clear the way for immigration reform next year. He's been very clear about it." Rep. Luis Gutierrez seems to share the same viewpoint, although with a decidedly more encouraged outlook: "I am still optimistic about the prospects for immigration reform in 2014 because immigration reform is easier than the budget. There is much more consensus among voters and among members of Congress in both parties."
Today, at 5:30pm, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security, immediately followed by a final vote of confirmation. Last week, in a response to questions raised during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Johnson sent a five page letter to Senate Republicans detailing his support for the Senate immigration reform bill, S.744. "I believe reform must be comprehensive and include provisions that allow the federal government to continue efforts to strengthen border security, target employers who hire undocumented workers, and modernize the immigration system itself."
Van Le, of America's Voice, takes a look back at the year in immigration reform. Moving month by month she chronicles the deep and diverse coalition built over the last 12 months, the rallies, protests, prayers, lobby visits, Senate vote, and other activities that have defined an amazing year in immigration reform advocacy.
And checkout Buzzfeed's collection of the 60 best immigration reform pictures of the year.
DRM Action Coalition has posted the transcript of an unaired portion of a Telemundo interview with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Most notably, Leader Pelosi calls for "action from the president" on deportations: "If your only violation is you overstayed or came in in a certain way, that's no reason to split a family." And we have seen the personal stories. And we presented them to the administration. So I think- I'm hopeful that with the documentation that we are providing to counter what others may be saying about who's being deported, that we will see action from the president."
December 13, 2013
Yesterday, over 1000 immigration reform advocates stormed Capitol Hill on the last day of the 2013 session for the House of Representatives. Advocates sat in in over 200 Republican offices and joined dozens of Representatives on the steps of the Capital in a press conference to demand a vote on immigration reform in 2014. Later, in a rally on the National Mall, advocates heard from the long term fasters and the Fast for Families campaign announced they would be moving on the next phase of the campaign and taking down the tents from the Mall.
Julia Preston, in an article in the New York Times, comments that although "an immigration overhaul has seemed close to death in the House more than once in recent months…a unified Democratic minority and an array of persistent supporters of a comprehensive bill have made it difficult for Republican leaders to sweep the issue aside." And in an editorial for CNN, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) issues a challenge to Speaker Boehner (R-OH): "I stand with the fasters calling on Boehner to lead, and help pass immigration reform. I challenge him to live up to the American people's expectations and to honor their wishes -- to stop listening to those in the Republican Party who oppose immigration reform and to do what is right. This is not a political issue, it's a human issue and delaying a vote is immoral."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network, to talk immigration amongst other things (fast forward to 4:40 to see the immigration remakrs). Here's a tidbit of what he had to say: "The leadership has been working with us very closely on that, including Speaker Boehner, who was very helpful about a month ago in making it absolutely clear that not only will we not take up the Senate G8 amnesty bill that you just described, but we will not even conference with it after we do our work in the step-by- step reforms that address enforcement of our immigration laws first, doing legal immigration reforms, and then finding an appropriate legal status but not a special pathway to citizenship for people who are illegally in the country. We're going to stick to that. I have every confidence that we can work with the leaders and their staff to continue down that track, and that's where we should stay. No bill is better than a bad bill, and the Senate bill is very bad."
Jorge Ramos, of Univision fame, interviewed New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg on his new show, America, on the Fusion network. Mayor Bloomberg had some strong words for those holding up immigration reform in Congress: "We're selling our birthright here. We're creating industries overseas we'll never get back to America, we have crops in the fields that rot because there's no people to pick those crops." He emphasized that not reforming the immigration system is "national suicide."
On a related note, last week Mr. Ramos appeared on The Daily Show and made the case for President Obama to halt deportations while Congress is debating immigration reform, calling it a "contradictory" position for the President to take.
December 12, 2013
Today, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, held a hearing in the full committee on: "Asylum Abuse: Is it Overwhelming our Borders?" (AILA Doc. No. 13121246.) This was not the first time that Rep. Goodlatte questioned the legitimacy of the asylum system, in September he sent a letter to outgoing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano raising concerns about the high levels of asylum seekers at the Southern border. The hearing went, unfortunately, as expected, with many of the Republicans Representatives present seeming to attack the asylum system for being ripe with fraud and abuse. Democrat Representatives Gutierrez (IL) and Lofgren (CA) both spoke to importance of the asylum and refugee systems as reinforcing America's role as a beacon of hope for many in the rest of the world. This Immigration Impact blog dissects how the "House Hearing Misses the Mark on Asylum Claims."
Earlier this week Democratic Representatives Garcia (FL) and Polis (CO) sent a letter to eight House Republicans inviting them to debate the issue on the floor of the House. The eight Republican members they targeted, Reps. King (IA), Brooks (AL), Stockman (TX), Fleming (LA), Barletta (PA), Smith (R-TX), Gohmert (TX) and Gosar (AZ), have all at some point advocated for some of the most extreme restriction oriented measures on immigration reform. Reps. Garcia and Polis acknowledge this in their invitation: "While we certainly do not agree with your views, we appreciate your willingness-unlike many of your Republican colleagues in the house of Representatives-to directly engage in the important debate about the future of our nation's immigration system."
Using data from Latino Decisions polling and the Immigration Policy Center research, America's Voice has compiled the top 45 Republicans in the House who are facing important elections come November 2014 and who could sway the debate on immigration reform in the House. They break down each member's voting district and their public stances on immigration reform.
December 11, 2013
Yesterday, 160+ AILA members and staff took part in a 24 hour fast to urge the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform this year. (AILA Doc. No. 13121040.) AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams and American Immigration Council Executive Director Ben Johnson both participated. See a collection of photos, tweets and Facebook posts from the members participating in the #AILAFast4Reform.
Jennifer Minear, member of the AILA Board of Governors, details her experience participating in the fast in her AILA Leadership Blog, "Hungry for Reform." She ends by recounting how she ended her fast by dining at her favorite Indian restaurant and acknowledging that "the emptiness in [her] belly will be replaced by a fire - a fire to continue raising [her] voice on behalf of the voiceless and calling on House Leadership to move us forward on immigration reform."
Alejandro Mayorkas' confirmation moved ahead yesterday as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee voted on a straight party line to move him from committee to the floor of the Senate. The nuclear option invoked by Senate Democrats a few weeks ago might make this confirmation easier, but many Republicans are opposing Mr. Mayorkas' nomination on the grounds that he is currently under investigation by the inspector general.
December 10, 2013
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Northern Virginia Daily that hopes that immigration reform will be voted on in 2014. "We don't know when that will be, but we hope it will be sometime next year."
Yesterday, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and SEIU's Eliseo Medina appeared on MSNBC to discuss why they both fasted as part of the Fast for Families campaign and why they still have hope for immigration reform in 2014.
The Center for American Progress provides a comprehensive breaking down "Making Sense of the Senate and House's Visions of Immigration Reform." The issue brief covers the five major components of reform legislation: the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, border security, interior enforcement, E-Verify, and legal immigration.
December 9, 2013
Tomorrow, AILA and AIC staff will be joined by over 100 AILA members from around the country in a 24 hour fast for immigration reform. Join us in our 24 hour fast and follow along on AILA's Twitter feed (#AILAFast4Reform) and our AILA Facebook page.
Starting on November 12th, four core leaders from labor, immigrant and faith groups began a 22 day long fast for immigration reform that ended just last week. These fasters inspired many around the country, including the President and First Lady, the Vice President, Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem, Dolores Huerta and others to D.C. to visit the Fast for Families
tent on the National Mall. Over five hundred organizations have taken on, or will be taking on, solidarity fasts like the one AILA and AIC will be participating in tomorrow, to show commitment and dedication to the cause of immigration reform, while also applying pressure on leadership in the House of Representatives to act.
Last week, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) revealed some of the details of legislation he is working on that would provide a road to citizenship for some DREAMers. "Under Heck's legislation, immigrants who can prove they entered the country as children would go into conditional resident status, effective on the first day they enroll in one of four citizenship-earning activities - pursuit of a college degree at either a two- or four-year institution; military service; pursuit of a registered apprenticeship; or pursuit of certification through a vocational tech school… Conditional resident status for immigrants pursuing the required courses of study or service would last six years with an option of renewing that status for another six years. But those who enroll in the program would not be required to wait the full six years to apply for citizenship; their permanent residency would cease being conditional as soon as they successfully complete a certification program."
A few days later, Saturday, December 7th, he penned an Op-Ed for the Las Vegas Sun
, seeking to clarify his stance on immigration and immigration reform. he speaks to the need to ramp up enforcement and implement E-Verify, while also providing a road to legalization for those already here. He ends with this: "I truly believe Republicans and Democrats must come together to address these important issues and put aside petty partisan politics. This is about people, people I have met and know, and people with whom I have shared my own family's immigration story. If we can put aside the constant desire to inflict political pain or gain advantage, we can get this done. That is my hope and will remain my focus."
December 6, 2013
Earlier this week, Tuesday to be specific, the three long term, core fasters on the National Mall passed on their fasts to other reform advocates. Today, in an Opinion piece on CNN.com, Eliseo Medina explains why he didn't eat for 22 days. "I ended my fast and passed the charge to a new generation of advocates. Congressman Joe Kennedy, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who had once sat shoulder to shoulder with my late friend Cesar Chavez almost half a century ago, stood before me with the fortitude embodied in our growing movement for immigration reform. It was a poignant reminder of both the length and the direction of the moral arc of the universe."
Last month, celebrity chef Jose Andres became a U.S. citizens after 23 years in America. In honor of the occasion he penned an Opinion piece for the Washington Post exploring his roots as an immigrant, and the immigrants he's worked with through the years. "As immigrants, we understand better than most that to be an American is a privilege that conveys not just rights but responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities are pledging allegiance to our flag, obeying our laws and learning a new language. But we also have an obligation to give something back - to enrich the American mosaic with our unique cultures, traditions and ideas. It is for this reason I plan to reopen my restaurant, America Eats in a new location in celebration of the culinary contributions that immigrants have stirred into our nation's ever-churning melting pot."
Politico reports today on the shifting pressure placed on the executive branch by reform advocates as the House of Representatives continues to stall on taking up reform legislation. Most notably highlighted with Ju Hong's cry for an end to deportations during the President's speech on immigration in San Francisco to the increased coverage of the deportation numbers being released shortly. The White House has stood firm that the "only way to advance any immigration agenda is through Congress-not by pressuring the president," but immigration reform advocates are not necessarily convinced.
December 5, 2013
Today, the Immigration Evangelical Table released a series of print and radio ads asking people to pray for Speaker Boehner to make the right decision and pursue immigration reform. The print ads, which wrapped around a free daily paper in D.C., had a simple message for the Speaker: "Praying for you, Speaker Boehner. #Pray4Reform." The radio ads feature a number of different leader evangelical leaders and will play on 30 Christian radio stations in Southern California, Texas and North Carolina.
Yesterday, several members of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives called on President Obama"to pause the deportations of undocumented immigrants and create an application process for eligible migrants and residents hoping to stay in the country." 28 members of Congress, all Democrats, signed on to a letter urging the President to "contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA."
AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen sits down to talk about "Immigration Reform Prospects as Year Ends," in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13120546.)
December 4, 2013
Yesterday, The Hill ran a special Op-Ed section on immigration reform, highlighting four different voices on the topic. Those included Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), one of only three Republicans currently signed on to HR 15, Democratic champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL), AILA's own Executive Committee member, Annaluisa Padilla, and the president of FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), Dan Stein.
Yesterday, both Rev. Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow included coverage of the Fast for Families event on the National Mall. While Rev. Sharpton spoke of his own experience being on the Mall with the fasters earlier in the day, Rachel Maddow had Erika Andiola on as a guest. Ms. Andiola, a prominent DREAMer, just announced she would be leaving her position as a staffer in a U.S. Representative's office to help her family fight her mother's deportation.
December 3, 2013
Today, in a ceremony and press conference on the National Mall, the four core fasters who have gone 22 days with only water passed on their fasts to others in the community. Joined by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Reverend Al Sharpton, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a dozen or so other elected officials, and hundreds of reform advocates, the fasters handed off their fast and were then taken to a local hospital to undergo medical evaluations. Eliseo Medina, of SEIU, handed off his fast to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), while others handed off their fasts to members of the faith community and DREAMers. Visit the Fast4Families Twitter page for pictures and video from the event.
During the last three weeks the fasters were visited by everyone from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, to feminist icon Gloria Steinem and labor leader Dolores Huerta. Advocates and immigrants from around the country are picking up the mantle and committing to joining the fast for short periods of time to demonstrate their support for immigration reform.
In staffing news, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) made a hiring choice that hopefully speaks to his seriousness to address immigration reform in the new year. Roll Call reports that "Rebecca Tallent, who currently serves as director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), will join Boehner's staff on Wednesday. Before joining the BPC, Tallent held several senior staff positions with Sen. John McCain, including chief of staff."
A bipartisan group of 12 members of Congress have signed onto a letter to President Obama urging him to implement final Department of Homeland Security PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) regulations. (AILA Doc. No. 13120349.) They outline four areas of concern, that were also highlighted in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report: 1. ICE headquarters fails to receive reports of all sexual abuse and assault allegations, 2. incomplete documentation of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and assault, 3. varying sexual abuse and assault standards and inconsistent information about the applicability of such standards, and 4. dangers faced by immigration detainees housed in segregation. (AILA Doc. No. 13112136.)
Today, King County, Washington, passed Ordinance 2013-085 mandating the County to only honor ICE detainer (hold) requests for individuals that have been convicted, not simply charged, with serious, violent, sex and gun crimes, or two or more serious traffic (primarily DUI) offenses. (AILA Doc. No. 13120345.) OneAmerica, an immigration advocacy group based in Seattle, argues that this "ordinance will increase civil liberties protections for all King County residents, improving public safety and community policing efforts that are jeopardized when local law enforcement gets entangled with federal immigration policy."
In an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch, House Majority Leader and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor listed immigration as one of his main priorities for the new year. "Cantor said one of his priorities will be incremental improvements in the country's broken immigration system, beginning with the Kids Act, which would create a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children. 'We should not be holding kids liable for the acts of their parents.'"
America's Voice and CAMBIO released a new ad today outlining their opposition to the SAFE Act. The ad highlights the similarities between policies in the SAFE Act and the failed policies of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
December 2, 2013
Republican Representative Joe Heck (NV) announced his own attempts to try to get something moving in the House of Representatives on immigration reform. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Rep. Heck is shopping "a draft bill that seeks to grant a citizenship path to young people…who were in the United States as of Dec. 31, 2011, and who were 15 or younger when they arrived." The DREAMer advocacy group United We Dream welcomed Rep. Heck into the debate, but ultimately concluded that "if he is serious about advancing a solution for DREAMers and our families, he can start by signing onto H.R. 15 and demanding that his party's leadership stop blocking a vote on immigration reform."
Another Republican Representative from the West, David Valadao of California, is circulating a letter to his Republican colleagues calling on leadership to ensure that "immigration reform be considered on the floor during the 113th Congress." No word so far on how many Republicans have joined Rep. Valadao on the letter.
Last Friday, President Obama, and First Lady, Michelle Obama, took time to visit the advocates currently fasting on the National Mall for immigration reform. The President and First Lady met with the fasters informally for about 30 minutes and press were not present. The White House did release a statement after the meeting: "The President told them that it is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon. He said that the only thing standing in the way is politics, and it is the commitment to change from advocates like these brave fasters that will help pressure the House to finally act."
As of today the four core fasters have gone 21 days without food.
November 27, 2013
Buzzfeed reports that the Irish government is taking an active role in lobbying Congress for a reform of our immigration laws. Anne Anderson, the Irish ambassador to the United States, "has the backing of the Irish parliament and head of government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny-and she's spent a considerable amount of that time talking to [House Republicans] about immigration reform."
The President's interaction with a DREAMer at his immigration reform speech in San Francisco on Monday has renewed calls for the President to exercise discretion and halt deportations. Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia who served in the Obama administration as deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, joined PBS Newshour to debate the merits of arguments that the President has the authority to halt deportations.
Mary Giovagnolli, in an Immigration Impact blog, provides tips to preserve harmony at the Thanksgiving table by making the case for immigration reform.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is on record supporting the DREAM Act, but on Monday night he said that he would not sign the state DREAM Act the New Jersey State Senate has just passed. He explains, "They're overreaching and making it unsignable and making the benefits richer than the federal program, the federal Dream Act, that's simply not acceptable for me."
November 26, 2013
Colorado Republican Congressman Scott Tipton has been hearing from a variety of interests groups on the need for immigration reform. The most recent calls for reform came from representatives from the construction, hospitality and ski industries that Rep. Tipton represents in Aspen, Colorado. Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction, and a registered Republicans commented, "We need to stop letting the far right wing of the [Republican party] hijack what is right for America."
The New York Times offers a unfiltered look into the new private detention center that just opened in California. The Adelanto Detention Facility is the "newest and largest facility in California" and can house 1200 detainees.
CNN lays out the "4 ways immigration reform still could happen-or not:" 1. Obamacare works preventing immigration from being on the backburner, 2. Finding the sweet spot in next year's calendar to work with elections, not against them, 3. Mending hurt feelings on the issue so that it really can be bipartisan, and 4. Finding enough Republican support to outweigh the opponents.
November 25, 2013
President Obama talked immigration reform today to a packed crowd at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. During his speech calling on Congress to take action quickly, one audience member interrupted the President and asked him to use an "executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 [million] undocumented immigrants in this country." The protester continued, "You have a power to stop deportations for all undocumented families." The President replied, "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition. And, so, the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws."
House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA) was on Face the Nation yesterday and had this to say about the prospects for immigration reform: "Immigration reform is going to happen. But it's going to happen in a step-by-step method. And I will tell you the president came out and supported that the other day, saying the role that the Republicans want to do, and Republicans have passed a number of bills outside of committee. So we are in movement. We have a broken process, the immigration system, it is broken, it needs to be fixed, 42 percent of everyone that is here illegally came here legally. We need to fix this system."
Rep. McCarthy wasn't the only one talking immigration this weekend. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) joined a pro-immigration reform rally and went on the record as supporting an "earned pathways to citizenship." He told supporters: "we need some help getting (immigration reform) to the front of the line. We started, but we hoped to finish with the House work this year. With two more weeks of floor time, that's doubtful this will happen this year."
Today, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a new poll to answer: "What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform." They found that "today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and roughly 1-in-5 (18%) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally. This support for a path to citizenship has remained unchanged from earlier this year, when in both March and August 2013 an identical number (63%) supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally."
Fox News Analyst Juan Williams recently met with the pro-immigration reform advocates currently fasting on the National Mall and explains the math in favor of immigration reform in an opinion column in The Hill. "If Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put the Senate's immigration bill to a vote in the House, it wins. The math is pretty simple. It will take 218 votes to pass it. All 200 Democrats are on board as well as three Republican co-sponsors. Odds heavily favor getting 15 of the remaining 229 Republicans in the House to join the bandwagon. Fourteen of 45 Republicans in the Senate supported reform."
Starting December 9th the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will be hosting refugee representatives from every state in Washington, D.C. for the Refugee Congress. The Refugee Congress advocates for improving the protection and lives of refugees here and around the world by speaking on behalf of the millions of refugees who have begun new lives in the United States and ensuring that those who are still in need of protection are not forgotten.
November 22, 2013
Yesterday, in an AILA Leadership Blog, AILA president Doug Stump laments Speaker Boehner's lack of leadership on immigration reform in the House of Representatives. To that end Mr. Stump and AILA Executive Director, Crystal Williams, sent a letter to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) expressing their "disappointment that the House of Representatives has yet to bring any immigration reform bills to the House for a vote." (AILA Doc. No. 13112053.) They continued, "we are concerned by the marked shift in tone by House Leadership since the government shut-down indicating an intention not to address immigration reform this calendar year."
On November 15, USCIS announced in a policy memorandum that it will allow undocumented immigrants in the United States who are close relatives of U.S. service members and veterans to stay in the U.S. lawfully while they pursue green cards. This AILA Quicktake features Margaret Stock, an AILA member and recent recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, speaking about the change in policy. (AILA Doc. Nos. 13112240 and 13092548.)
FWD.us's DREAMer Hackathon finished up last night, and the preliminary results seem fairly outstanding. Everything from a visualization application that allows users to create their own story line visual path to a social network for DREAMers.
The Atlantic Magazine tries to answer the question, "What Happened to Immigration Reform." They sum up advocates frustrations nicely: "The reformers' frustration is palpable, as is their confusion. They can't fathom why Boehner has so stubbornly resisted bringing up legislation he seems to favor in principle; that has enough bipartisan support to pass; and that, while strongly opposed by some on the right, seems unlikely to ignite a backlash among either conservative members of Congress or Republican primary voters. It's a situation whose perplexing dimensions parallel the October government shutdown."
One year ago, AILA participated in Detention Watch Network's campaign to "Expose and Close" ten of the worst detention centers in the country. See where the campaign is one year later in this report.
Yesterday, the President nominated John Roth, of Michigan, to be Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security. Roth is currently the director of the FDA's office of criminal investigations. The post has been lacking a permanent conferee since February 2011.
November 21, 2013
In a press conference today, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) announced that immigration reform was not dead. He went on to say "I believe the Congress needs to deal with this," he said. "Our committees are continuing to do their work. There are a lot of private conversations that are under way to try to figure out how do we best move on a common-sense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue. Because it is a very important issue."
Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report: "Immigration Detention: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse." (AILA Doc. 13112136.) PBS Frontline reports on the ongoing struggles of the agency and "Why Immigrant Detainees Still Aren't Safe from Abuse."
Today, in a historic vote, the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 to change the filibuster rules for all Presidential nominees except to the Supreme Court. Previously, all nominees had been subject to the higher 60 vote threshold in order to overcome any potential filibuster, but with the change in rules approved today Presidential nominees will only need 51 votes to be confirmed. This could have a big impact on the President's nomination of Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security-potentially paving the way for a much quicker confirmation than previously expected. However, at least three Republican Senators have placed holds on his nomination. One of those is Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-IA), who led the opposition to S.744 in the Spring. He stated yesterday: "we asked if he would cooperate with us on oversight matters and work with us to improve immigration policies going forward. We have not yet received a response from Mr. Johnson."
Republicans for Immigration Reform released a new ad highlighting the positive comments Republican state governors have made in support of immigration reform.
Yesterday, Julia Preston, of the NY Times, asserted that "Illegal Immigrants Are Divided Over Importance of Citizenship," presenting two sides of a complex and often emotional subject. Is something on reform better than nothing for aspiring Americans? And what are the effects to the country and to the individual of providing legal status with no hope of citizenship?
The FrameWorks Institute, an independent nonprofit that advances science-based communications research and practice, released a set of messaging recommendations based on a recent experiment they conducted to "design the best communication strategy for" the immigration reform contest. They sought to answer three questions about messaging around this debate: what is the best way for supporters to reform to enter the conversation, what should supporters say when challenged by the opposition, and what is the most productive overall narrative for reform.
A new poll in Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) district shows that constituents want him to take action on immigration reform. "According to the results, 82% of likely 2014 voters-including 85% of Republicans-support legislation similar to HR 15 that would increase border security, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants and make sure undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. pass a criminal background check and register for legal status."
November 20, 2013
Today, DREAMers from around the country arrived in Silicon Valley, CA to begin the DREAMer Hackathon sponsored by FWD.us. Theses DREAMers will work with experienced mentors to build out prototypes of products to aid the immigration reform movement. Follow along using the Twitter hashtag #DREAMerHack.
Former Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, Carlos Gutierrez, wrote an Editorial for Arizona Central today imploring House Republicans that “immigration reform can be a winning issue for Republicans.” Mr. Gutierrez, who is also the national chairman of Republicans for Immigration Reform, goes on to say that words are not enough. “Members of Congress have made encouraging statements recently about the need for reform. But celebrating and unlocking American possibility requires more than promising words. House Republican leaders need to find a way to move immigration reform forward and create a process that provides broad certainty for our nation’s businesses and communities.”
Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky (D) and Rev. Jesse Jackson have both pledged to abstain from food in solidarity with the fasters currently entering their 10th day of fasting on the National Mall. The Fast for Families movement has had visits from Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Gloria Steinem, among others, showing their support for immigration reform and the movement.
November 19, 2013
Big news today, President Obama is copasetic with the House passing piecemeal legislation, rather than a comprehensive bill. “If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like,” he said at a Wall Street Journal forum.
Want to know what’s happening near you in support of immigration reform? ImmigrationNow.or provides daily updates of local and national events, plus other information about the immigration reform movement.
In a story on National Public Radio today, they asked listeners to “Imagine your city council telling the police department how many people it had to keep in jail each night.” That is exactly what the detention bed mandate, passed by Congress, forces the Department of Homeland Security to do.
Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to receive Washington, D.C. drivers licenses. Immigration Impact provides a full account of this bill and the 11 other states that allow undocumented immigrants to receive drivers licenses.
November 18, 2013
Former Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney went on CBS Morning last Friday to talk about life one year after the elections. During his reflections he acknowledged a significant shortcoming of his campaign, appealing to minority voters. He went on to take a somewhat different stance on immigration than he had during the campaign when he advocated "self-deportation": "I don't think those who come here illegally should jump to the front of the line, or be given a special deal -- be rewarded for coming here illegally -- but they should have a chance, just like anybody else, to get in line and become a citizen if they'd like to do so."
The Center for American Progress shows us how small the opposition to immigration reform really is in a new infographic released last week. FWD.us got in on the game too by releasing a set of television commercials (one in English and one in Spanish) highlighting the bipartisan nature of reform by including quotes from leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Tomorrow, the We Belong Together campaign will host an online conversation with Gloria Steinem discussing the "evolution of the women's movement and why feminists must be involved in the struggle for immigration reform." Ms. Steinem will be joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the only immigrant Senator and a champion of the most women-friendly provisions of the Senate immigration bill. Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #WomenTogether.
November 15, 2013
USCIS announced today in a policy memorandum that it will allow undocumented immigrants in the United States who are close relatives of active military troops and veterans to stay and move toward becoming permanent residents. (AILA Doc. No. 13111545.) Immigration Impact explains: "the memo indicates that the noncitizen family members may be afforded 'parole in place.' 'Parole in place' is a discretionary tool that allows a noncitizen who is in the United States without authorization to remain here, at least temporarily. The memo says that 'absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors,' spouses, children and parents of active duty members, members of the reserves, and veterans should be granted parole in one-year increments. The new guidance also clarifies that some individuals granted "parole in place" may be eligible to apply for permanent residency (i.e., adjust status), if they are otherwise eligible."
President Obama's DHS Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson went in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee this morning as the next step in his confirmation process. (AILA Doc. No. 13111345.) While most on the committee, Republicans and Democrats alike, seemed to be indicating they would support his nomination, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was a notable exception. Sen. McCain's objection came after Mr. Johnson refused to give a satisfactory answer to his request for a guarantee that Mr. Johnson would "give [the] committee the exact metrics that are needed sector-by-sector so that [this committee] can attain 90 percent effectiveness on the border."
The Bloomberg Editorial Board took Speaker Boehner to task today in an editorial criticizing the Republican Party for failing to address the critical issue immigration. "While the House is trying to avoid addressing a tough problem, U.S. businesses remain subject to scattershot policies that fail to deliver the right workers to the industries that need them. Immigrant families must work -- and live -- in fear of being deported and losing all. And young people with ambition, many of them Americans in all but paperwork, live in legal limbo."
FAIR, the Federation for Immigration Reform, released a new radio ad today arguing that offering legal status to undocumented immigrants is "not reform. It's amnesty. Real reform would fix our immigration system to serve Americans' interests. Amnesty rewards illegal aliens and encourages more illegal immigration in the future."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) took to the floor of the House today to engage in a conversation with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on the issue of immigration reform. Rep. Hoyer urged Rep. Cantor "to bring [H.R. 15] to the Floor and see if the House thinks it's a bad bill. See if the House believes that it's a bill that is not worthy to be considered and passed as a fixing of a broken immigration system."
November 14, 2013
A newly elected Republican from Louisiana recently expressed his support for immigration reform with a road to citizenship. Rep. Vance McAllister had this to say on the subject: "We have to secure the borders, but (citizenship) has to be attainable for those people already here," he said. "It has to be a tough path, but it has to be attainable…Then we can bring great new citizens to the country."
On Friday, November 8th, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land, hit the Philippines. An estimated 6.9 million people have been affected by the storm, with the death toll is estimated to be in the thousands while the number of people displaced by the massive storm rises into the hundreds of thousands. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) exists to provide a safe haven for those who are reluctant to return to potentially dangerous situations, and to assist nations who are under extraordinary and temporary conditions and face difficulties in receiving their nationals safely. A grant of TPS would allow Filipinos here in the U.S. to work and support their families in the Philippines who were impacted by the Typhoon. AILA provides background on "Temporary Protected Status and Potential Philippines Designation." (AILA Doc. No. 13111447.)
November 13, 2013
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that House Republicans are "drafting a set of principles to guide their approach" on immigration. according to Speaker Boehner (R-OH). This comes on the heels of the Speaker's controversial statement on the fate on the Senate bill: "The idea that [the House is] going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I'll make clear: We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
The American Immigration Council remembers the "Contributions of Immigrant Soldiers" as the country celebrates Veterans Day. "As described by MacArthur Fellow Margaret Stock, an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police, U.S. Army Reserve, 'immigrants voluntarily serve in all branches of the U.S. military and are a vital resource in the ongoing conflict against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.'"
The Hill is busy being pessimistic, releasing a two part series on "how immigration died." The Part One focuses on the breakdown of the now defunct Group of Seven in the House, while Part Two focuses on Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) role in the demise. And don't worry, there's video.
November 12, 2013
In an Op-Ed in today's LA Times Frank Keating, the former Republican governor of Oklahoma, argued that "too many conservatives-though they aspire to walk in Reagan's footsteps-have forgotten that immigration reform is the most Republican of causes." He goes on further: "America was the world's first nation to be based on principles, not ethnicity. Citizenship is at once narrow and broad-available to those who share our principles, regardless of race or national origin. It is unconscionable to leave a class of neighbors who share our values in perpetual second-class status."
Today, faith, labor and immigrant rights leaders announced the launch of "Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship," taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. "These leaders and immigrants will fast every day and night, abstaining from all food-except water-to move the hearts and compassion of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship."
The Center for American Progress has released two new resources on reform. One, a real time counter of the cost of the House's inaction on immigration reform. As of today at noon (137 days since the Senate passed S.744), the House's inaction has cost the United States over $5 billion. And two, an infographic explaining what the Senate bill means for LGBT immigrants.
Last Friday, Rachel Maddow used her show to skewer Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a member of the House leadership, for announcing that immigration reform was dead this year. AP reports that Rep. McCarthy "said in a meeting with immigration proponents that there weren't enough days left for the House to act and he was committed to addressing overhaul of the nation's immigration system next year. The congressman's office confirmed what he said."
In honor of Veteran's Day, the White House released a factsheet on immigrants serving in the nation's military. The factsheet notes that "as of May 2013, more than 30,000 lawful permanent residents were serving in our Armed Forces. Too many of these service members feel the negative effects of our broken immigration system, experiencing delays in obtaining visas for family members, and fearing for the well-being of loved ones who may lack immigration status."
November 8, 2013
America's Voice has launched a new website that explicitly speaks to the politics of immigration reform. The new site, Immigration Power, profiles the 40 top Republican congressional races that could be determined by immigrant and Latino voters in 2014. The site provides information about each Representative's support for immigration reform and the voter makeup of their district. This comes as Roll Call highlights the "10 Most Vulnerable House Members" according to a number of factors (including increased numbers of voters of color).
Yesterday, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told the Miami Herald that he didn't see a way forward for immigration reform this year, but RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is not necessarily on the same page. Politico reports that the Chairman told Bloomberg's Al Hunt that: "something significant is going to happen because obviously mass deportation is not an option. I don't think doing nothing is an option. And I believe most people would agree that something significant needs to take place. Now what that is, I don't get to make that decision."
On Wednesday, over 300 advocates rallied (and 120 were arrested) in front of the USCIS building in downtown Chicago calling for immigration reform in a demonstration organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugees Rights. Well, in an Editorial in today's Chicago Sun-Times, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, told them he had their back. "Americans across the country are showing courage and leadership to stand up for those values by speaking up for justice and fairness in our immigration system. They are calling for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform; they are calling on Congress to let democracy work."
November 7, 2013
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a member of the now defunct group of seven working on immigration reform in the House, seemed to pour cold water all over advocates' hopes that reform can still pass in the House this year. Speaking with the Miami Herald today he said: "I don't see the math. There are only 16 days, legislative days, for the floor. Unless someone has some magic potion, I don't see how there's time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills."
Today, the labor union SEIU, announced the launch of television ads in seven swing congressional districts across the country. The ads target Speaker Boehner (OH) and Republican Representatives Coffman (CO), Davis (IL), Grimm (NY), Heck (NV), Joyce (OH), Kline (MN) and Miller (CA). They join the AFL-CIO, who also announced four hard hitting ads (in English and Spanish) targeting Republican House members.
November 6, 2013
Yesterday's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia could be foreshadowing what's to come next year in the Mid-term 2014 elections. Fusion, the new news collaboration between Univision and ABC, offers that Chris Christie's work in in reaching out to minority voters "provides a lesson to Republican candidates for national office. The racial makeup New Jersey's electorate is almost identical to the nation's." This in contrast to the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli who "took hardline stances on immigration and Obamacare. That endeared him to conservative base voters, but prevented him from expanding his coalition."
Latino Decisions has a webinar breaking down election-eve polling on the impact of voters of color on the two gubernatorial elections.
In an interview with Newsmax on Monday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) commented on the possibility that Speaker Boehner could be replaced before the next election: "John Boehner has been stronger throughout this partial shutdown and the debt ceiling than most everybody thought he would be. He did serve to unify the conference better than I thought. We'll have to see how the future issues play out. For example, if immigration comes before the House, it would be the most divisive thing that could be brought up by Republicans in the House. Then I would have a different answer to that question."
Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) has sent a letter to her colleagues in the House of Representatives asking them to join her "in fighting for responsible immigration reform that protects immigrant women and empowers them to give back even more to the country they love and call home."
We Belong Together announced the return of their "Wish for the Holidays" campaign. Between now and the end of November, the organization will collect thousands of children's letters expressing one, shared wish: "Keep families together! Fair immigration reform NOW!" In December, a youth delegation will deliver these letters to members of Congress, who will be preparing to spend time with their own families during the holidays.
November 5, 2013
The elections today in several key states highlight the growing importance of the Latino electorate in American politics. After President Obama shellacked Governor Romney in the Latino vote in 2012, Republican pundits fell all over themselves to embrace the importance of immigration reform. (AILA Doc. No. 12110946.) Seen as a way to make inroads into the Latino community, immigration reform became a sound bite for many current and prospective candidates, but that wasn’t the only change. Buzzfeed reports that after the November elections “RNC Chairman Reince Preibus began popping up in barrios and black churches across the country, pledging a renewed Republican campaign to win the hearts and minds of minority voters, as well as a hefty $10 million investment in the effort. By summer, the party had decided to use Virginia and New Jersey—the two states with gubernatorial races this year—as test labs for their new outreach strategy.”
Well, we’ll find out if worked as election results start to roll in this evening.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports today that Republican Representative David Valadao (CA) is “circulating a letter calling on the House GOP leadership to hold a vote on reform this year. He is asking fellow Republicans to sign on.” Rep. Valadao is one of only three Republicans who have signed on to HR 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Democratic leadership.
FWD.us posted a video today highlighting a few of the compelling entrepreneur stories shared during their Americans for Reform event last week.
November 4, 2013
Talking Points Memo outlines the “Three Miracles That Could Save Immigration Reform” in an article today, while the National Journal outlines how the so-called KIDS Act in the House may have hit a snag centered on partner sponsorship. “The problem comes when lawmakers start asking what happens to the children who eventually become citizens under the bill. Under current law, they would be allowed to sponsor family members, including parents, for green cards. That worries some Republicans who have long questioned the utility of family-based immigration in the United States. It also is of concern to any member who justifies support by saying that unauthorized immigrants brought here as children were not at fault, their parents were.”
We Belong Together, an advocacy organization that specifically focused on the needs of women in immigration reform legislation, announced a number of local actions that will be taking place November 6th through 8th in nine states across the country.
Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, told members of a Rotary Club that he “will be part of a bipartisan effort to fix the problem, because it has to be fixed.” He continued, saying “to me, doing nothing is not acceptable,” according to reports in the Kalamazoo Gazette.
November 1, 2013
This week, state government officials in Alabama agreed to permanently block key provisions of HB 56, the Alabama enforcement only law that passed in 2011. (AILA Doc. No. 12032163.) The agreement marked a profound victory for the civil rights organizations that sued the state to prevent major portions of the law from going into effect. On Wednesday, the New York Times Editorial Board hopes that the stunning defeat of this destructive law will propel Congress to "see the light" on provisions that empower state and local police to enforce immigration laws, specifically to turn away from the "SAFE Act" legislation that has already been introduced and voted out of committee. The Immigration Impact Blog provides more information on the settlement.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has released three video stories making the case for immigration reform from a farmer's perspective. The videos, produced as part of the organization's "The Heat is On" campaign to push Congress to act on immigration reform this year, focus on the impact on agricultural labor of a broken immigration system. Meanwhile NBC Latino showcases the story of an Oregon pear farmer struggling to fill his labor needs.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas reveals "Why Undocumented Immigrants Needs Driver's Licenses." As he puts it: "to be an undocumented immigrant-to live and work as one of New York City's half-million undocumented immigrants-is to obsess over documents."
October 31, 2013
Yesterday, the third Republican joined as a co-sponsor to H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Democrats. And the immigration advocacy community is buzzing, watch
AILA’s Advocacy Director Greg Chen talk about the implications of the big news, Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Joe Garcia (D-FL) host a Google hangout together, and Rep. Denham on CNN talking about the bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13103051.)
Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who left the agency in September for warmer weather in California as the new head of the University of California system, announced yesterday that she is pledging $5 million to counseling and financial aid for undocumented students who attend a University of California campus.
Rep. Pearce (R-NM) announced today that he and Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX) will be introducing a piece meal bipartisan immigration bill. The bill will “grant discretionary authority to review specific cases for a small number of Americans who are separated from their families due to minor earlier violations which are technical in nature or occurred when the family member was a minor. Such review was permissible until 1996, when the current regulations were put in place.”
Some bad news coming out of Texas, House Homeland and Border Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) told Politico that he “was urging his leadership to back off any formal negotiations with the Senate on immigration reform.” Rep. McCaul was an original sponsor of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act of 2013, that passed the committee with bipartisan, unanimous support, but has not gotten a vote on the floor of the House. (AILA Doc. No. 13060647.)
Immigration advocacy group America’s Voice has released a number of Congressional district level polls demonstrating that House Republicans can support a path to citizenship with little backlash from voters in their district. The districts profiled include
Reps. Farenthold and Poe of Texas and Reps. Issa, McCarthy and McKeon of California.
October 30, 2013
More good news from the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) became the third Republican to co-sponsor H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform legislation introduced by Democrats earlier this month. Rep. Valadao followed Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Denham (R-CA) in joining this bill. In a statement released today he stated: “I have been working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform. Recently, I have focused my efforts on joining with likeminded Republicans in organizing and demonstrating to Republican Leadership broad support within the Party to address immigration reform in the House by the end of the year. By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system.”
Last week Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced that he would be introducing his own piecemeal legislation that would grant six years of legal status to many undocumented immigrants. While text of the legislation has not been made public yet, the bill sounds similar to a bill that the Representative introduced in 2003 during the 108th Congress. AILA provides a summary of that bill, The Alien Accountability Act of 2003. (AILA Doc. No. 13103044.)
Jeh Johnson, President Obama’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, is making the rounds of Senate offices in anticipation of confirmation hearing that will come at some point soon. Most Senators are choosing to withhold public judgment on the former Department of Defense chief counsel until they have a chance to meet with the nominee personally. Mr. Johnson has little background in immigration related issues.
In some disheartening news, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) walked back some hopeful comments he made earlier this week on his support for a road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He clarified that he believes in legalization for the undocumented or having them to return to their home country to go through the normal existing process for immigration into the United States. He commented: “Sometimes, in any situation, you don’t hit people in the face with the worst of it,” he said. “I wanted them to know, while maybe we didn’t agree on everything, there were some things we do agree on. I do care about them.”
Yesterday, activists in Orlando, Florida and New York City were arrested while making the case for immigration reform in acts of civil disobedience.
The Center for American Progress has a new report that answers the question: “Who Would the SAFE Act Endanger?” the report provides a few examples of immigrants who would get caught up in the numerous and sweeping enforcement measures included in the bill.
October 29, 2013
Big news today, another House Republican has joined Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) as a co-sponsor of H.R. 15, the comprehensive bill introduced by House Democrats earlier this month. Early today, Rep. Garcia (D-FL) announced on Twitter that his Republican colleague from Florida, Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, would be joining as a co-sponsor and that "together [they] are moving #SouthFlorida forward." Rep. Ros-Lehtinen released an official statement, stating: "it's important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system. I favor any approach that will help us move the negotiations forward. Other Members may soon produce a bipartisan product that may also deserve support and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can pass meaningful immigration reform."
Today, over 600 conservative leaning individuals took to Capitol Hill to make their case for immigration reform to happen this year. The individuals mainly spoke with Republican House offices, specifically House leadership and others who have a hand in determining next steps on the issue. The event was sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Follow #Ready4Reform on Twitter for updates from the day's events.
Public Policy Polling has released new polls focused on eight Congressional districts currently held by Republicans. The poll finds that voters in each of these districts are unhappy with their Republican Representatives because of the government shutdown. However, the poll also find that "most notably, voters make it clear in each of these districts that they'll be more likely to vote to reelect their Congressmen next year if they vote for immigration reform."
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report and infographic today on the "Implications for Growth, Budgets and Housing" of immigration reform. The main argument is that "by increasing the overall population and particularly the number of working-age labor force participants, reform can help expand the economy, contribute to higher overall average wages, generate more consumer spending, and spur new demand for residential housing construction."
Yesterday, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to support immigration reform, specifically reform that supports women.
October 28, 2013
Big news from two House Republicans over the weekend, with Rep. Jeff Denham (CA) becoming the first House Republican to add his support for H.R. 15, the comprehensive reform bill introduced by Democratic leaders, and Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona coming out in support of a road to citizenship. In a press statement, Rep. Denham stated: "I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks. This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home."
Over the weekend Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) made a public commitment to a road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. He stated: "I'm one of those that does not believe that people having been in this country... illegally now should be barred from that path to citizenship because we have not enforced the law. At the same time, I don't want to do something that creates a special path to citizenship that creates an incentive for more people to come illegally…I'd like to see a single pathway to citizenship for everyone, that no one would be blocked from, unless they do something criminal…and I'd like to make sure that we have clear border security…And, of course, I'd like to see the whole immigration code simplified and rewritten so that somebody besides God could understand it."
The New York Times Editorial Board offered some suggestions on how President Obama can move forward on immigration reform without Congressional action in Sunday's Editorial, "Not One More." The three suggestions were: "stop needless deportation" by acknowledging the impact of programs like Secure Communities and Operation Streamline, "acknowledge the crisis" by highlighting the human costs of the broken system, and "get beyond politics" by listening to the calls of advocates urging him to act.
A new Latino advocacy organization is taking root and "is planning to spend as much as $20 million on campaigns targeting members of Congress who have sizable Latino communities in their districts but oppose comprehensive immigration reform." The new group, The Latino Victory Project, will seek to influence vulnerable Representatives' views on immigration, and then, if necessary, target certain House races during the 2014 midterm elections.
October 25, 2013
This morning, Senator Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate "Gang of Eight" went on CNN and seemed to indicate that he's still hopeful that immigration reform can happen this year. However, in the course of the conversation he also indicated regret of the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate, stating that he would have preferred approaching the issue piecemeal, as the House is doing. "And that's why I've favored the sequential individual bills. I think if people have real confidence that the law is being enforced, that we're not going to have this problem again, that there's real border security, I think you buy yourself more space and flexibility in finally dealing with those that are here illegally. But that's the toughest issue of all, as you touched on."
Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush had some harsh words of reality for Tea Party members in today's Congress. In an interview with Buzzfeed he stated: "I think there's an art to governing and part of the art of governing is recognizing the reality as it exists, not as you want it to be. Part of the reality is that some people on my side of the aisle do not understand is that even if you can identify those 10 or 12 million illegals here, you're not going to round them up, put them on 747s, and send them home."
October 24, 2013
President Obama took to the East Room of the White House today to deliver lengthy remarks on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Joined by Vice President Biden and other advocates, including AILA's own Executive Director, Crystal Williams, the President made the case that immigration reform "is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now. Leaders…have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done."
However, not everyone agrees with the President. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told reporters yesterday that "there is virtually no chance the party would take up immigration reform before the next round of budget and debt-ceiling fights are settled." Dan Stein, of FAIR (the Federation for American Immigration Reform) posted his own thoughts on the President's speech in a blog on the FAIR website. He argues that "the facts are simple. Any bill passed by the House becomes 'amnesty bait' for the Senate bill. The House cannot conference with the Senate-passed amnesty bill. The Senate bill is flawed public policy."
Yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Politico that he was planning on introducing soon his own piece meal legislation in the House that would offer six years of legal status for most undocumented immigrants, but would not include a road to citizenship, or more broadly, any guarantee after those six years had passed. His rationale: "if somebody has a nexus that would reasonably allow them to become permanent residents and American citizen, we should allow them to do that. Our view is that long before six years, people would be in those categories heading toward some other pathway, in a guest worker program, or of course, have left the country."
Think Progress doesn't necessarily agree with Rep. Issa's reasoning, making the case that "six years, however, is hardly enough time for undocumented immigrants to adjust their status" and that "Issa's plan also raises questions about what comes after the six years status is up."
Last week CBS News released a poll, dated October 18-21st, indicating widespread support for reform efforts that include a road to citizenship, from both Republicans and Democrats. The found that "there is widespread support for providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks and learning English." The same poll found that "more Americans (50%) think securing the nation's border should be a higher priority than addressing the status of illegal immigrants (43%). Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independents to place a priority on border security."
October 23, 2013
Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner (OH), gave some indication that he doesn't believe the media rumors that immigration reform is dead in the House of Representatives. When asked by a reporter this very question he responded: "I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I am hopeful."
This morning, Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to implore his friends on both sides of the aisle to put their partisan bickering aside, stop thinking about winning on the issue by forcing the other side to lose, and to work together to craft a solution on immigration reform that can pass.
The U.S. Chamber of commerce has some mixed messages for the media this week on the viability of immigration reform happening during the 113th Congress. Buzzfeed reports that Chamber president Tom Donahue "is hopeful the House and Senate will 'go to conference, [and] have the president sign' immigration reform quickly." However, the top lobbyist for the Chamber, Bruce Josten, is less convinced that this Congress can get it done, telling Reuters that "I think it would be very unlikely" for the House to pass a bill right now.
October 22, 2013
Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, had a conversation with Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) about the prospects for reform in the House. Diaz-Balart, a member of the now defunct bipartisan group of eight, revealed that "'there are a number of [Republicans] who are working on a proposal to deal with the folks who are here in a way that allows those who have not committed crimes to get right with the law,' Diaz-Balart says, adding that the goal is to figure out 'what to do with the millions of undocumented who are here in a way that completely conforms with the rule of law.'"
NDLON, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, posted this music video of singer Aloe Blacc's acoustic version of his popular song "Wake Me Up" that was "inspired by 11 million true stories." The video's main actors are immigrants, including a DREAMer, who tell the compelling life story of undocumented immigrant family living in the United States.
America's Voice has released detailed poll results from key Republican Congressional districts in Colorado and Nevada specifically bolstering those constituents' support for immigration reform.
The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable compiled the immigration stories of eight Jewish members of Congress, including two Republicans (Cantor (VA) and Ros-Lehtinen (FL). Many of the Representatives admit that their family story would not be possible now under the current mismanaged and broken set of immigration policies.
October 21, 2013
Many are wondering if there really is a way forward for immigration reform this year. With Congress moving past the budget and debt limit deal (at least until January 15th of next year) all eyes turn to a possible deal on immigration reform. Some say that a bipartisan success story is exactly what the Republican Party needs now to pick up their dragging approval ratings, but others worry that Speaker Boehner will be even less likely now to buck the more extreme elements of his caucus again (bypassing the Hastert rule for a sixth time) for immigration reform. Greg Sargent at The Washington Post argues that the debate really centers on if "House GOP leaders actually want to broaden the party's appeal, even if it means angering conservatives in the process? Immigration reform's fate will answer that question, because there is a way this could get done if GOP leaders want it to."
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) doesn't seem to share the same perspective, only last week proclaiming: "For us [Republicans] to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake." Senator Rubio (R-FL) channeled Rep. Raul Labrador in comments he made on Fox News this past Sunday, arguing that the "president has undermined this [immigration] effort. I certainly think that immigration reform is a lot harder to achieve today than it was just three weeks ago." Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the immigration subcommittee, also expressed his frustration with the President: "It's a little disingenuous to treat the House as an irrelevant branch of government and then say, 'By the way, tomorrow you'll need to go ahead and push (immigration reform).'"
First Focus and the Center for the Children of Immigrants released a report last week chronicling the "The Cost of Inaction" on immigration reform for children.
October 18, 2013
President Obama officially announced that Jeh Johnson, former general counsel for the Department of Defense, would be his nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Many pundits and lawmakers questioned Johnson's credentials on immigration and border security, and Johnson did not mention either of these issues in his brief acceptance speech earlier today.
Mark Zuckerberg's foray into the world of immigration reform advocacy brought with it questions and focus on the importance technology will play in influencing decision makers in this debate. That has now moved to the next level as a new event, a dreamer hackathon, was just announced to further the debate. The event will advise undocumented youth on tech tools and projects to advance the prospect of reform.
October 17, 2013
Late last night the House of Representatives passed the Senate budget compromise to reopen the government and avert a debt limit breach. The New York Times breaks down the vote in the House of Representatives and provides an interactive map of the 198 Democrats and 87 Republicans who joined together to pass the bill.
Latino Decisions examines polling data from the California Field Poll to examine "The Prop 187 Effect" on the Republican Party in California post since presidential candidate Ronald Reagan won 45% of the California Latino vote and 59% of the entire state in 1984. They argue that three factors have "made the Republican Party nearly irrelevant:" increase in Latino voters, the Republican anti-immigrant agenda, and the stranglehold Democratic presidential candidates have on the 55 electoral college votes.
The Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and the Partnership for a New American Economy have released a new report, "Immigration and the Revival of American Cities: From Preserving Manufacturing Jobs to Strengthening the Housing Market." They find that "for every 1,000 immigrants living in a county, 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved that would otherwise not exist or have moved elsewhere."
October 16, 2013
President Obama has signaled (in an interview with Univision) that the next fight after the shutdown and debt limit deal are dispensed with will be immigration reform. Some question whether he will have the political power necessary to get it across the finish line with the partisan rancor that is currently permeating through D.C. Specifically, form House Gang of Eight member (and AILA member) Rep. Raul Labrador, doesn't think it's a political reality or in his Party's interests, telling Huffington Post: "For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake."
Others, like Cesar Vargas, executive director of the DREAM Action Coalition, want to make sure that "if Obama wants to talk about immigration reform, he needs to get serious about working across the aisle, even if that means upsetting leaders of his own party. [Vargas] called on the president to 'make phone calls to the Speaker and Republican leadership on immigration' and 'not follow' what Vargas sees as a Democratic House 'strategy to just make immigration a partisan issue to win more seats the next election.'"
The United States had nine Nobel Prize winners this year, and four of them are immigrants. Immigration Impact chronicles the four winners in this blog.
October 15, 2013
This past Saturday, during a gala for the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, NJ Governor Chris Christie expressed support for what he called "tuition equality," seemingly supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students. His exact words: "I believe every child should be given the opportunity to reach their God-given potential...that's a moral requirement. We need to get to work in the state legislature, on things like making sure that there's tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey."
The Washington Post does a profile of how the "controversial quota drives immigration detention boom." They report: "but as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s, ICE has been meeting Congress's immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation. The agency also has greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants it takes into custody after traffic stops by local police."
CIVIC has produced a two minute video in support of ending the detention bed mandate and has sponsored a petition at change.org.
The National Council of La Raza (NLCR) has put together a handy interactive map with all of the major editorials from across the country in support of immigration reform. find one close to you.
The Bipartisan Policy Center Immigration Task force released a press statement opposing expanding the deferred action program on an administrative level because it will undermine reform efforts. They give three main reasons: "extending DACA through executive action is not a permanent solution to our immigration system's shortcomings," "for immigration reform to be successful, it must earn the trust of the American people," and "such a move would preempt the legislative process that is unfolding in Congress."
October 11, 2013
Last night The Daily Show's correspondent Aasif Mandvi sat down with anti-immigrant documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch to discuss the impacts of immigration and immigration reform to the United States. He also talked with the city manager of Dayton, Ohio who spoke of the valuable contributions that immigrants have made to the local economy and culture of that city and their "Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City" project.
The CATO Institute's Alex Nowrsteh tells us why "Immigration Is Good for Wisconsin's Economy." "In 2012, immigrants were 4.8% of the population [in Wisconsin] and the unemployment rate was 6.7%, more than half a point below the national average. Wisconsin's booming agricultural sector has helped speed the state's economic recovery. Dairy farmers exported more than $170 million of dairy exports in the first half of 2013, ranking Wisconsin as fourth in the nation in dairy exports. And that is just a fraction of the $1.6 billion in agricultural exports during the same period - $100 billion more than the first six months of 2012. Here's the kicker: Nearly a quarter of all workers in Wisconsin dairy farms are unauthorized immigrants. That's right, one of the major drivers of Wisconsin's economy relies on immigrant labor."
As the government shutdown rolls towards its third week, immigration services across the country are being affected. "With the shutdown of the government in its second week, many immigration-related agencies continue to be closed, affecting availability of services and information necessary for applications for immigration benefits and litigation of immigration cases.
October 10, 2013
The National Journal argues in a post released yesterday that "the Republican brand is still damaged goods" specifically citing its lack of progress with the Latino community. "In its latest party-building effort, the RNC hosted a Hispanic Heritage month reception Tuesday amid plans to dispatch field operatives to seven states with growing Hispanic populations. But against the backdrop of thousands of protestors on the National Mall demanding congressional Republicans take up immigration reform, it was the latest example of the national party making progress on mechanics, not messaging.
This comes as a new Congressional district level polling released today signals that "California Republicans need to lead on bipartisan immigration reform." The polling, perform by Magellan Strategies, found that in three Republican districts in California, "contrary to conventional wisdom, Republican voters are just as supportive of immigration reform as Democrats and Independents in these districts. The hardcore anti-immigration voting bloc is simply not that large and not that powerful-even inside the GOP."
One of these Republicans, Rep. Jeff Denham, signaled yesterday on Twitter that he may be considering joining H.R. 15 as a co-sponsor: "@americasvoice In discussions w/ Rep. @JoeGarcia. Very productive. As I'm reading bill, I have asked him to take a look at my #ENLIST Act."
In an Editorial published yesterday the Chicago Sun Times makes the case that as "prospects for congressional action on immigration reform have dimmed…the Obama administration should take immediate action on a related issue - throttling back the deportation machine for people who have not committed serious crimes."
The Immigration Policy Center has released a guide to H.R. 15 that outlines the major components of the bill. H.R. 15 was introduced by House Democrats last week as a compromise comprehensive immigration reform bill and currently has 178 co-sponsors (all Democrats). (AILA Doc. No. 13100402.)
Hear more about yesterday and last Saturday National Days of Action for Dignity and Respect in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13101000.)
October 9, 2013
In a letter sent today to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA), AILA joined over 100 other organizations in calling on the Speaker to not allow the SAFE Act, H.R. 2278, to be brought up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.)
Today, La Opinion, the Spanish language newspaper, released their list of "the 8 worst enemies of immigration reform." The list should look familiar as it includes old favorites Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and James Sensenbrenner (r-WI).
October 8, 2013
Tens of thousands of immigration reform advocates took to the nation's capital today to demand a vote on immigration reform with a road to legalization and citizenship. The day begin with a concert on the National Mall with a performance by the legendary musical group, Los Tigres del Norte. Other highlights included multiple Members of Congress, including: Senator Menendez (D-NJ) (a member of the "Gang Of Eight"), four Republican Representatives (Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Denham and Valadao of California), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (joined on stage by more than a dozen members of her Democratic caucus), immigrant rights champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). The event concluded with more than 200 community leaders and eight Members of Congress getting arrested while participating in an act of civil disobedience.
The message of the day was simple: "We demand a vote on immigration reform." See photos from the day from America's Voice, NBC Latino, Buzzfeed and Rep. Gutierrez's Twitter feed.
October 7, 2013
Over the weekend thousands of community members took to the streets to show their support for immigration reform with a road to citizenship. The Alliance for Citizenship has pulled together some of the best pictures from the events that happened all across the country and America's Voice has a great recap of the day's activities. The public push for reform will continue tomorrow as tens of thousands of people are expected in D.C. to participate in Camino Americano, a concert and march for immigration reform.
Republican leadership in the House continues to insist that action on immigration is a legislative priority for them. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chairwoman of the Republican conference, appeared on "Al Punto" on Univision on Saturday and confirmed that Speaker John Boehner "over the last few weeks has continued to talk about the importance of the House moving forward on immigration reform." She continued: "I believe that we have a window here between now and the end of the year and that this is a priority."
Last week California made its own headlines by passing two important immigration reform bills even as the federal government stalls. California Governor Jerry Brown drove the point home: "while Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead. I'm not waiting." One of the bills, the Trust Act, requires that immigrants in this country illegally must be charged with or convicted of a serious offense to be eligible for a 48-hour hold and transfer to U.S. immigration authorities for possible deportation."
The other bill, signed last Thursday by the Governor, allows undocumented immigrants living in California to receive driver's licenses. Governor Brown held a press conference in Los Angeles to sign the bill and was flocked by hundreds of supporters, including the Mayor and other dignitaries. "'This is only the first step. When a million people without their documents drive legally with respect to the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice,' Brown said outside Los Angeles City Hall."
Last week the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released a new report, "Our Moment for Reform: Immigration and Transgender People." The reports chronicles how "current immigration laws, together with pervasive discrimination against transgender people, force transgender immigrants to live in dual shadows." Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE, said in an interview with BuzzFeed "We have a lot of trans people who are in this country specifically because they are trans people and they are simply not safe where they were and they come here and then they're [still] not safe. I'm sorry but that is what this country is for. This country has always been a place where people can come to be safe."
October 4, 2013
AILA and the American Immigration Council have released a section-by-section summary of H.R 15, the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives this week, comparing it to the S.744 that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.. (AILA Doc. No. 13100462.) Stay up to date on what's happening in the House by visiting www.aila.org/house.
Today, Republican California Congressman Jeff Denham released an Op-Ed in The Modesto Bee, arguing for the importance of a path to citizenship in any reform legislation. "Providing an opportunity for many of the 11 million undocumented people living here to earn legal status is the only way to create a long-term solution to our broken system. The solution we design in the House must also secure our border and ensure enforcement of our laws. Without a secure border and the rule of law, we will repeat the same mistakes of the past."
According to The Las Vegas Sun, two of Nevada's Republican Congressmen are tired of waiting for immigration reform. Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck "are taking steps to put out bills addressing pathways to legal status for immigrants in the United States without authorization." Heck added: "I'd like to see [a bill] as soon as practically possible."
Today, the President signed H.R. 3233 into law. The bill extends special visa privileges for Iraqis who worked for the U.S. cause during the war in Iraq over the last decade. The bill, unlike most things these days, passed both houses of Congress with unanimous consent and is now law.
The US government shutdown that began on October 1st drags on as lawmakers remain unable to strike a deal to continue funding federal operations. Hear more about the shutdown and its ramifications for immigration from Betsy Lawrence, Associate Director of Liaison and Information at AILA. (AILA Doc. No. 13100401.)
October 3, 2013
In this AILA Quicktake AILA Advocacy Director discusses the implications of the comprehensive immigration bill Democrats introduced yesterday (H.R. 15). (AILA Doc. No. 13100303.) Although the legislative language has not been made public yet, The Washington Post breaks down some of what will be in the bill. And even though The Huffington Post thinks this Dems only bill is dead on arrival, Matthew Yglesias, at Slate, argues that the "Shutdown is Good News for Immigration Reform."
Much has been made of the so-called "Hastert Rule" that allegedly governs the agenda Speaker Boehner chooses to pursue on the House floor. The "rule," coined during a press conference by Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006, has come to mean that a Republican Speaker won't bring a bill for a vote on the floor of the House unless a majority of his party supports the bill-in Boehner's case that means 117 Republicans. Most attribute the House of Representative's inaction on immigration reform, and the government shutdown, to Speaker Boehner's insistence of following the "rule." Well this week Speaker Hastert himself, in an interview with The Daily Beast, questioned the veracity of invoking the Hastert rule in every scenario. "The Hastert Rule never really existed. It's a non-entity as far as I'm concerned…The real Hastert Rule is 218. If we had to work with Democrats, we did."
October 2, 2013
Today, more than a dozen Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Conference Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), joined together to announce the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would encompass the successful Senate bill, but replaces the controversial "border-surge" amendment with the McCaul bipartisan border security bill that passed unanimously out of the House Homeland Security Committee. (AILA Doc. Nos. 131002, 13060647, 13062165.) The bill, H.R. 15, is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia (FL), Jared Polis (CO), Judy Chu (CA), Suzan DelBene (WA) and Steven Horsford (NV).
During the press conference Rep. Garcia explained that during the last year Americans from across the country sent a message loud and clear that we want immigration reform. That message was heard in the Senate, but has not yet been heard in the House. The only way immigration reform can pass is if Democrats and Republicans work together.
Rep. Becerra added: "What we're putting forward is a bill that has received Republican votes, we could have put forward a bill that would have gotten 200 Democrat votes, but we wanted to put a bill forward that showed we were serious about moving this forward. What we're saying, is on the Democratic side, we're ready. There is no reason to have dysfunction rule the day." Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to throw his support behind the bill as well.
While Elise Foley at the The Huffington Post argues that "House Democrats [have] introduced immigration bill with little chance of a vote," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says "the moment isn't gone," to pass immigration reform. Read AILA's press statement, "As House Democrats Introduce Compromise, AILA Urges Speaker Boehner to Act Now on Immigration." (AILA Doc. No. 13100207.)
Yesterday, in a showing of bipartisanship that seems rare of Capitol Hill these days, Reps. Castro (D-TX) and Denham (R-CA) released this commercial asking the American public to call their Congress members in support of immigration reform.
Buzzfeed brings us the stories of one couple affected by DOMA, and the overturning of DOMA by the Supreme Court. "Out Of The Dark: One Gay Latino Couple's Battle Through One Of The Worst Immigration Eras" explores the complexities of one bi-national gay couple living in New York.
Grover Norquist, the famed president of Americans for Tax Reform, continues to make the case for the right to lead on immigration reform. In his Op-Ed for The American Spectator magazine he argues that "the right has lost perspective on immigration." He sums it up like this: "if we do this right, if we improve on the Senate's opening bid, create a more effective and less costly border security system, and increase the scrawny limits proposed on highly skilled and educated immigrants and guest workers in farming, dairy, and construction, we will dominate the planet for the next century. Our would-be competitors have forgotten to have children and lack our 300-year proven ability to grow through immigration. We can. China cannot. Japan cannot. Europe cannot. We will grow as they shrink. Only we can stop us."
October 1, 2013
Well, it happened. At 12:00 AM this morning the federal government officially shut down. With Senate Democrats and House Republicans unable to reach a deal on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded, 800,000 federal employees woke up to the news that they would be furloughed until a deal can be reached. However, although "federal agencies that deal with immigration will be impacted by the government shutdown…that doesn't mean the government's business with immigration--from paperwork processing to immigration arrests--will stop." AILA has what you need to know about "What Happens during a Government Shutdown" as it relates to immigration activities, including USCIS' announcement that E-Verify will be unavailable for the duration of the shutdown. (AILA Doc. No. 11040730.)
The Weekly Standard has some optimism for immigration reform advocates in a blog released yesterday. "84 House Republicans have publicly voiced support for granting some type of legal status to the 11 million immigrants here in the country illegally, and 20 others have said they would be willing to consider it-many more than what most media reports suggest." On the same day Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders penned a blog for The Hill arguing that "the current [immigration] structure cannot keep up with demand. In 2011, more than 1 million people became green-card holders, bringing the number of legal permanent residents to an estimated 13.3 million. Many of these green-card allocations, however, are not distributed in ways that help our economy or unify the immediate family members of key immigrant contributors."
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the Senate unanimously voted to reauthorize the Iraq Special Immigrant Visa Program, now it's up to the House to act before the bill can go to the President's desk to be signed into law. The two senators explained the importance of the bill: "for five years, this program has given Iraqis who worked for the U.S. military during the war a chance to apply for U.S. visas. These brave Iraqis risked their lives to protect Americans and many of them are now living under constant threat of retribution from Al-Qaeda terrorists and Iranian-backed militants as a result of their decision to help American men and women in uniform. The United States has a moral obligation to stand with those Iraqis who stood with us; we cannot, and we will not, abandon our Iraqi partners."
The Immigration Justice Network released this infographic chronicling "A Day in the Life under the (un) 'SAFE Act.'" For more information on why the SAFE Act is so damaging read AILA's section by section summary of the legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13092541.)
September 30, 2013
As the government lurches towards a government shutdown all eyes are on Speaker Boehner and Republicans in the House of Representatives. Watch AILA Advocacy Director, Greg Chen, discuss the potential impact on immigration reform in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13093009.)
This shutdown looms large as communities across the country are gearing up for "The National Day of Dignity and Respect" happening this Saturday, October 5th. With over 130 events planned in 38 states, and hundreds of thousands of community members expected to come out in support, immigration reform will be the talk of the weekend. These marches, vigils and rallies will also set the stage for the Washington D.C. concert in support of immigration reform happening on October 8th.
Today, in sad news for immigration reform advocates (and supporters of ending the detention bed mandate), Republican Representative Spencer Bachus (AL) announced that he would not seek reelection in 2014. Rep. Bachus, representing one of the most conservative areas in the country, has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform over the past few months.
September 27, 2013
The Public Religion Research Institute just released a new report detailing the results of the 2013 Hispanic Values Survey. The survey, done to coincide with Hispanic Heritage month, notes that "less than 3-in-10 (29%) Hispanics report that they feel closer to the Republican Party than they did in the past, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Hispanics say the same about the Democratic Party." Additionally, "majorities of Hispanic Democrats (72%), independents (67%), and Republicans (53%) support a path to citizenship."
September 26, 2013
The Bloomberg News Editorial board released a scathing review of the 34,000 detention bed mandate that is currently the law of the land. The Editorial, "The Madness of U.S. Immigration Policy, Continued," argues that "Americans can disagree about the nature of immigration and the best ways to reform the system (or not). But wasting money on an arbitrary prison mandate serves no one's interest. It's hard to see how the micromanagement by Congress, and the waste of taxpayer funds, will be reversed for 2014; the House appropriations process has been a shambles."
This follows an equally critical news story that ran Tuesday detailing the cost in lives and money to U.S. citizens, immigrants and tax payers of the mandate to fill 34,000 detention beds at any given time.
In case you missed it, the Immigration Policy Center released this GIF filled adventure on Buzzfeed detailing the real cost of doing nothing on immigration reform.
September 25, 2013
House Judiciary Chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) took to the right leaning National Review today to fend off attacks from that same outlet that he supports the Senate immigration reform bill that passed in June. He reasserts that: "the Gang of Eight bill is fundamentally flawed and unworkable, because it repeats the mistakes made in past immigration overhauls. Among my many concerns, the Senate bill gives legal status before enforcement is up and operating, provides a special pathway to citizenship for those who have broken our immigration laws, and allows the president to waive many, if not most, of the bill's internal enforcement requirements."
American Immigration Council Executive Director, Ben Johnson, highlights the cost of doing nothing on his Twitter account: "Without #immigration reform US will keep losing out on additional tax revenue and jobs: http://bit.ly/14At3xs #costofdoingnothing"
September 24, 2013
Reform Immigration for America has unleashed a new campaign targeting House Republican leadership asking them to "stand up and lead on reform." By filling out a few fields, including name and address, users can send a personalized postcard to both their member of Congress and Speaker Boehner calling on them to pass immigration reform.
FWD.us, the immigration reform lobbying group founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, released its "first quantified stats on its contribution to immigration reform, announcing that it drove 33,500 calls to Congress this summer and a total of 125,000 actions including social media shares." While not necessarily heavy hitters yet in the world of immigration reform advocacy, Zuckerberg has been making waves by being increasingly public in his support for comprehensive reform with a road to citizenship.
September 23, 2013
Apparently some Democratic members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), are tired of waiting for Republican leadership to bring something for a vote on the floor. Politico reported late today that the Minority Leader Pelosi "is spearheading a plan to advance comprehensive immigration reform in the chamber. The California Democrat plans to introduce legislation combining the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in May with a bipartisan border-security bill from the House Homeland Security Committee, according to sources familiar with the plans."
Today the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) and America's Voice (AV) released two new resources detailing the cost of doing nothing on immigration in Congress. IPC details the "Dollars, Lives, and opportunities Lost in the Wait for Immigration Reform" and AV countsdown "The Real Cost of Inaction on Immigration" both politically and economically.
September 20, 2013
After months of news reports, gossip, wrangling, and the loss of Rep. Labrador (R-ID), the efforts of the Gang of Seven in the House to draft a bipartisan comprehensive bill have officially collapsed. Today two more Republican members of the group, Reps. Johnson and Carter, both representing Texas, announced they were withdrawing from the group. Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, spoke with Rep. Gutierrez, a Democratic member of the group from Chicago further dashed hopes: "It doesn't appear that we're going to move forward with the group of seven. The process is stalled. I don't believe we're going to produce a bill anytime soon."
America's Voice takes some comfort that the breakup of the group of seven may actually "shake up the dynamics of the debate in a way that keeps reform very much alive." And while speaking at a GOP Conference Hispanic Heritage month event, Rep. Goodlate (R-VA) the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he still sees a path forward: "'For children brought here illegally by parents, I wouldn't give them a special pathway to citizenship, I would give them an earned pathway to citizenship.'
Everyone else could use routes that already exist in law: sponsorship by a family member, including a U.S. citizen spouse, or sponsorship by an employer."
While the Group of Seven was falling apart, two Democratic members of the House Border Caucus, announced they were introducing their own comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill, Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013, closely mirrors the 2009 version introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX).
Today, Latino Decisions released a new poll that cites opposition to immigration as the main reason behind the shrinking influence of the Republican Party in California state and national elections. They comment: "after winning the presidential election in 1980, California native Ronald Reagan raised his share of the Latino vote from 35% to 45% in 1984 while carrying 59% of the entire state. Republicans went on to win the Golden state again in 1988. Since then, three things have happened: first the Latino share of all voters in California started growing noticeably, and second: California Republicans embarked on an anti-immigrant agenda that ended up alienating Latino voters and driving them into the open arms of the Democratic Party, and third: Republicans have permanently written off 55 electoral college votes - or approximately 20% of the amount needed to reach 270.
September 19, 2013
The Partnership for a New American Economy announced today that leaders from more than 100 colleges and universities across the country sent letters to their members of Congress in ten key states.
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg was in the Washington D.C. to speak with congressional leaders about a host of issues, including immigration. After his day of meetings he sat down with the Editor of The Atlantic and spoke on why passing reform is one of his priority issues. Watch while he explains why he remains "optimistic" about reforms chances to pass this year.
September 18, 2013
Last night President Obama did an interview with Jose Diaz-Balart for the Spanish language channel Telemundo. While the interview covered a wide range of issues, from Syria to the looming threats of a government shutdown, the President made some bold statement relating to immigration. In addition to reiterating his believe that the votes exists to pass the Senate bill on the House floor right now, he also reiterated that halting deportations if Congress fails to act is “not an option.”
Advocates from around the country expressed their disappointment in the President’s statements. Today, seven undocumented leaders from around the country showed their frustration by chaining themselves to the White House fence, calling for “not one more” deportation, and eventually being arrested.
September 17, 2013
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is one of the first Democrats to indicate a willingness to compromise on the issue of citizenship with his Republican counterparts. “I support a comprehensive bill, but if we do it piecemeal and do not call it pathway but call it taking them [undocumented immigrants] out of the shadows and giving them legalization, I can support that. I have got to be flexible.” In that vein Rep. Cuellar is set to meet with House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) to talk about a potential path forward for reform this year.
While some House Democrats might be eyeing compromise, The Hill reports that some advocates feel Senate Democrats should be applying additional political pressure on House Republican leadership to get something done on reform this Fall, and that patience might be waning quickly.
Yesterday, the President proclaimed that September 17th would be Constitution and Citizenship Day. In the proclamation the President made special notice of the impact of immigration to the country: “We are a proud Nation of immigrants, home to a long line of aspiring citizens who contributed to their communities, founded businesses, or sacrificed their livelihoods so they could pass a brighter future on to their children. Each year on Citizenship Day, we welcome the newest members of the American family as they pledge allegiance to our Constitution and join us in writing the next chapter of our national story.”
September 16, 2013
Immigration reform might be stalled for the time being in the House, but it's getting a lot of play out in the States. In California 15 State Senate and Assembly Republicans sent a letter to the entire Republican Congressional delegation asking them to take action on immigration reform. This came just days before the state passed a law granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigration. In Virginia, the Republican candidate for Governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is facing increased pressure to walk back his more extreme past statements and actions on immigration by national Republican figures.
Business leaders are upping their public push to influence House leadership to hold a vote on immigration reform this fall. Human resources executives from over 100 technology and communications sent a letter to Speaker Boehner urging "the House to enact legislation to fix the broken immigration system and work with the Senate to ensure that a bill is signed by the President this year." Meanwhile 450 business groups published an open letter to Congress stating: "we are united in the belief that we can and must do better for our economy and country by modernizing our immigration system. We already have been engaged with many members of Congress-Republicans and Democrats-on numerous components of a modern immigration system and we urge that you not let this momentum slip and progress vanish."
Last week, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) wrote an impassioned editorial for The Hill making the case that the "people of the United States are ready for reform." He went on to say: "no matter the obituaries written about immigration reform in the press and no matter the other pressing issues on the agenda, we need the Congress to act and for the Speaker to call the vote."
House Republicans celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month by releasing a special video featuring House leadership, among other. Noticeably absent from the video's message is any mention of immigration reform.
Advocacy organizations today announced a rally and concert for immigrant dignity and respect scheduled for October 8th in Washington, D.C. The event, titled Camino Americano, will bring together thousands of supporters to continue to build pressure for a vote on common sense immigration reform in the House of Representatives. This event will come just three days after the National Day of Action, which will feature local events in hundreds of communities across the country.
President Obama went on This Week with George Stephanopoulus over the weekend and had this to say about the chances for immigration reform: "If Speaker Boehner put that bill on the floor of the House of Representatives right now, it would pass. It would pass. So the question then is not whether or not- the ideas that we've put forward can garner a majority of support certainly in the country...The problem we have is we have a- faction of the Republican Party- in the House of Representatives in particular, that view "compromise" as a dirty word, and anything that- is even remotely associated with me, they feel obliged to oppose. And my argument to them is real simple. That's not why the people sent you here."
America's Voice chronicles "How Immigration Advocates Owned the Summer," in this YouTube video.
September 13, 2013
The Center for American Progress released a new report detailing how "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Will Benefit American Workers." They argue that "when immigrants are unable to invoke their labor and employment rights, the overall effectiveness of employment laws also declines, as fewer employers are punished for their unlawful employment actions. This means that American workers are more susceptible to workplace violations such as wage and hour violations or unsafe working conditions. Passing common-sense immigration reform-such as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or S. 744, passed by the Senate on June 27-will fix this problem."
The Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for lower immigration levels, released a report this month arguing that "no evidence of a 'chilling effect' from local police cooperation with ICE exists in federal or local government data or independent academic research." Matthew Kolodziej, in an Immigration Impact blog, demonstrates that the data they cite actually suggests that the exact opposite is true. "Enforcement programs like 287(g) and extreme legislative proposals such as the SAFE act that impose immigration enforcement on local governments divide the communities they claim to protect and work against the law enforcement objectives they claim to pursue."
The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas released a new report that "looks at how immigration helps revitalize communities across the United States through the creation or preservation of manufacturing jobs, the increase in housing wealth, and heightened civic engagement." The report finds that
"for every 1,000 immigrants living in a county, 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved that would otherwise not exist or would have moved elsewhere."
September 12, 2013
This morning over 100 women were arrested on Capitol Hill while urging leaders in the House of Representatives to make immigration reform a priority. The leaders, organized by the We Belong Together campaign, wore shirts calling for "Women for Fair Immigration Reform" and spoke specifically to the needs of women and families when addressing reforms to the broken immigration system. Rachel Maddow covers this story and addresses the argument that the House doesn't "have time" to tackle reform, arguing that the Senate already managed to pass a comprehensive bill with 14 Republican votes.
FWD.us, the advocacy group started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, released a new ad today declaring the August recess a victory for immigration reform advocates. News reports also indicate the Zuckerberg will be meeting with key members of House leadership next week to discuss a number of issues.
As the House comes back into session the leaders of the Republican Party, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, face an ever fractured Republican caucus. Politico details how difficult legislating has become for the Speaker in the face of approximately 30 members of his own party who seem to disagree with whatever plan he puts forward (whether on Syria, the budget, or the debt ceiling). "A clearly frustrated Boehner seemed to realize that he leads a conference where no plan is quite good enough." That being said, Rep. Cantor did release a memo outlining the Republican priorities for the fall, and included a small section on immigration: "we know that the current legal immigration system is broken and should be fixed in a deliberate and responsible manner." He also threatened to cancel the September 23rd week-long recess if the House was unable to pass a bill to fund the government before the end of the fiscal year on the 30th.
September 11, 2013
George Gascon, the district attorney of San Francisco, released an editorial chronicling the misguidedness of the federal government's immigration hold policy. He argues that "few [public safety policies] have had as profound an impact on our constitutional rights as the widespread use of immigration holds issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What the federal government touts as a sound public safety practice is having a chilling effect on local law enforcement's effectiveness."
The Third Way demonstrates why "the waiting is the hardest part," in this new infographic that illustrates the outrageous wait times for people attempting to legally immigrate to the United States.
September 10, 2013
Journalists, pundits, lawmakers and advocates alike are making bold predictions about the fate of immigration reform efforts in the House this calendar year. (AILA Doc. No. 13091058.) With 26 Republicans coming out in support of reform with a road to legalization, and increased efforts being focused on Speaker Boehner, many have high hopes. Those hopes were buoyed earlier today, when Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Goodlatte, went on the Kojo Namdi radio show and announced that the House was still working on a legalization plan, and not just for DREAMers. He also said that he believed the full House would begin taking up immigration in October.
September 9, 2013
New Labor Secretary Tom Perez addressed 1600 AFL-CIO delegates at their annual convention this week and addressed the urgent need for Congress to pass immigration reform. "As we pass immigration reform, we're going to enhance opportunities in a lot of these high-demand areas because we have a treasure trove of people who simply need to address their immigration status."
September 6, 2013
Ezra Klein, at the Washington Post, muses on the fate of Rep. John Boehner's speakership after 2014, and what might keep him in office or give him the freedom to retire. Klein proffers that Speaker Boehner "wants at least one legacy-building accomplishment" and that "he'll even stay in Congress to get it." What that legacy issue will be is the real question. Klein seems to think this could work in the favor of immigration reform advocates because it is in the one issue that has some broader bipartisan support, if not a majority of the House Republican conference.
Yesterday, dozens of national immigration advocacy groups held press conferences to announce their intention to up the public pressure on Congress to act on immigration reform. On October 5th, dozens of groups around the country will be hosting local and state-wide events in a "National Day for Dignity and Respect." Find out more about events happening near you at http://octoberimmigration.org.
September 5, 2013
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) became the latest Republican House member to discuss his support for a limited road to citizenship in a recent town hall event.
The NY Times predicts that the Syria crisis, the debt ceiling negotiations and the threat of a government shutdown will push any discussions of immigration reform in the House of Representatives past Thanksgiving. "The House Judiciary Committee had hoped to begin moving piecemeal immigration legislation, but the bills' prospects for House action this fall were already slim before the Syria crisis. Now they will probably slip beyond Thanksgiving."
September 4, 2013
The August Recess is winding down, with some lawmakers even coming back to D.C. early to discuss the crisis in Syria, and immigration reform advocates are taking a long look at the legislative calendar. (AILA Doc. No. 13083060.) If the House of Representatives abides by the current schedule, they will have less than 40 legislative days before the end of the calendar year. And the month of September already seems to be filling fast: with the President asking Congress for approval for military intervention in Syria, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounding the alarm on increasing the debt ceiling, and the looming threat of a government shutdown on October 1st if Congress doesn't pass legislation to fund the government.
Another Republican House member came out in support of a road to citizenship for at least some of the aspiring Americans without papers here today. Rep. Southerland (R-FL), a member of the Tea Party, in an interview with the Miami Herald, expressed the moral dilemma: "We have to address it. It's a moral issue." Rep. Southerland attributed a part of his willingness to speak out to a DREAMer he had met two weeks prior: "He's educated and he's smart. We have to make sure that a young person like that has a way. This is his home. We have to make sure that he has a way to be legitimized as a citizen."
Advocates in Ohio today delivered more than 600,000 petition signatures to Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) district office in support of immigration reform.
United We Dream takes on "The So-Called 'SAFE' Act: the Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly." In their list of the top 11 disturbing facts about the legislation introduced by Rep. Gowdy (R-SC) they highlight that the bill would: eliminate DACA, make it a federal crime to be undocumented, and dramatically expand detention.
September 3, 2013
To date 24 House Republicans have come out in favor of a road to citizenship (America's Voice has the full list). Who are these Republicans and why are they going public, here's MSNBC's thoughts.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a retired director of the U.S. Marshals Service, in a special to The Tampa Tribune list the reasons that the SAFE Act is "anything but." "That's why I believe the SAFE Act would be a disaster, a fact also recognized by the Major City Chiefs Association, which represents the 56 largest U.S. cities, including Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville. Rather than enhance public safety, the SAFE Act will undermine it by destroying community-based policing efforts."
The Immigration Policy Center released a new report chronicling the impact the of the newest immigration, Asian and latino voters. "Amid the current debate on immigration reform, much attention is on House members and how their vote for or against reform will play in their home districts. But many congressional districts have a huge number of naturalized immigrants and young Asians and Latinos who are entering the electorate, and who deeply support immigration reform."
Read earlier posts.