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.
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 Mandvisat 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.
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.
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."
August 30, 2013
Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), sent a farewell letter to outgoing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, "regarding the recent surge in foreign nationals, largely from Mexico, claiming asylum at U.S. ports of entry." Rumors are circulating that the Chairman is planning on introducing some type of legislation targeting the asylum program in the coming months.
In case you don't have anything else to do, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) hosted a special edition of the Sean Hannity radio show with guests Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Chris Crane, ICE Union leader.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a set of policy recommendations from their Immigration Task Force co-chaired by former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell. "The report, Room for Consensus: A Statement by BPC's Immigration Task Force, focuses on four topics: controlling the flow of unauthorized immigration, legalization and citizenship, legal immigration, and the economic impacts of reform."
August 29, 2013
Politico lays out the most pressing concerns for immigration reform advocates: time. If the current Congressional schedule is abided by, the House of Representatives will have less than 40 work days before the end of the 2013 to pass reform, a tight time schedule regardless. And to add to that, a "mid-October debt ceiling deadline-an earlier-than-expected target laid out Monday by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew-is changing the House GOP leadership's plans to pass immigration bills that month."
Some might be wondering what's happening with the so called House "Gang of Seven" bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation that has been teased for months by the four Democrats and three Republicans working on it. In an interview today with The Hill Rep. Gutierrez expressed his frustration and the stalled process: "I will be very clear and succinct: I have already signed off. It is now time for my Republican colleagues to step forward and to announce a date. If they give me a date, I'll be there, and we'll present legislation and present it to the public."
The Center for American Progress released a report today detailing how "immigration reform would benefit all American workers by improving the earnings of native-born workers and generating new jobs."
The Immigration Policy Center makes a strong case for "Cracking the SAFE Act," in a new issue brief. "The SAFE Act represents an attrition-through-enforcement approach to unauthorized immigration that has not proven effective and which runs contrary to many of the objectives of immigration reform. It returns to a philosophy which holds that punitive enforcement measures alone can address the many flaws in our immigration system."
August 28, 2013
Today marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and over 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall to hear speakers, including President Obama, commemorate the event. Many of the attendees, and speakers themselves, made the link between the fight for immigration reform and the cause of those who marched 50 years ago today. Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights put it this way: "African Americans understand the inherent power in citizenship. As a community we are especially sensitive to issues involving incorporating individuals into the American system that don't provide full citizenship."
The National Immigration Forum has released an updated version of "The Math of Immigration Detention: Runaway Costs for Immigration Detention Do Not Add Up to Sensible Policies." They note that "one symptom of our broken immigration system is the exorbitant spending on detaining hundreds of thousands of immigrants annually. Billions of dollars could be saved if the government reduced its overreliance on detention and properly allocated resources towards more humane and cost effective alternative methods of monitoring."
You might not believe it, but today one of the fiercest opponents to the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate admitted that the legalization plan in S.744 is not "amnesty." In a town hall earlier this week Sen. Grassley (R-IA) said: "I would call the immigration bill of 1986 amnesty because there wasn't any conditions on it. Putting conditions prior to legalization, I would say would pre-empt the use of the word amnesty."
Organizing for Action, the offshoot of President Obama's campaign arm, has announced they will be airing Spanish-language radio ads encouraging five key members of House Republican leadership to support immigration reform. The targets are: Speaker Boehner (OH), Majority Leader Cantor (VA), Majority Whip McCarthy (CA), Rep. Miller (CA) and Rep. Lipinski (IL).
August 27, 2013
Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake hosted a forum today on immigration reform, making the case for passing a reform with a road to citizenship. "For more than an hour, McCain and Flake took questions from the audience, including border ranchers, business leaders and reporters at the event and viewers posting on social media." On the same day The Arizona Republic ran an Editorial arguing "that comprehensive immigration reform is essential for the sake of human rights, the economy and law enforcement."
Bob Creamer, a long time political activist and reform advocate, chronicles the five reasons that immigration reform is not dead in the House of Representatives in a blog in The Huffington Post. Included among these reasons are the mid-term elections and increasing pressure from the Republican establishment on leadership in the House.
August 26, 2013
Today marked the 93rd anniversary of women being granted the right to vote, also known as Women's Equality Day. Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) hosted a rally acknowledging the importance of women in the immigration reform fight. "It doesn't matter where I have visited, garlic fields or citrus fields outside of Orlando or orchards out of Oregon. When I sit down and speak with women in the immigrant community they share with me stories about the horribly oppressive conditions they work in. One of the things that will happen with comprehensive immigration reform is that they will be able to document and bring justice to the men that have exploited them for so many decades."
The Office of Science and Technology at the White House hosted a Google+ hangout today focusing on the importance of immigration to the science, technology, and innovation community." As a part of series titled, We the Geeks, the White House hosted the Google Hangout featuring immigrant entrepreuners: Anousheh Ansari, co-founder of TTI and Prodea Systems; co-creator of the Ansari X Prize and one of the first self-funded space tourists, Steve Chen, co-founder of MixBit (AVOS) and YouTube, Ping Fu, co-founder of Geomagic and chief strategy officer of 3D Systems, Mario Molina, recipient of the Nobel Prize (Chemistry, 1995) and Medal of Freedom (2013), professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California-San Diego, member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and Jan Vilcek, Professor of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine; creator of the Vilcek Prize and recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2012).
Lacy Upchurch, president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, wrote an Op-Ed for the Columbia Daily Herald arguing that "Tennessee and America needs the talented workforce, farm laborers and entrepreneurs of the world to help grow our economy and to create the businesses and jobs we need for the future."
August 23, 2013
During this immigration debate, many policymakers are calling for a solution to address those who have "overstayed their visas." However, the label of "visa overstays" is widely misused and misunderstood. The reality is that identifying visa overstays is an ambiguous, difficult task, a fact often overlooked in these debates. Use AILA's one page factsheet to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions. (AILA Doc. No. 13071843.)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has spent the last few weeks doubling down on his committment to not creating a path forward for the 11 million aspiring Americans without papers, even DREAMers. Rachel Maddow shares her thoughts on Rep. Goodlatte's seeming obstruction of immigration reform on her August 20th show.
August 22, 2013
In a town hall meeting yesterday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) became the 24th Republican House member to come out publically in support of a road to citizenship. He told community members that while he would not vote for the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, he does believe "there should be a pathway to citizenship, not a special pathway and not no pathway, but there has to be a legal lawful way to go through this process that works and right now it doesn't."
This comes after Rep. Spencer Bauchus (R-AL) came out forcefully and eloquently in support of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a road to citizenship at a town hall. Greg Sargent, at the Washington Post, remarked: "Here's another good example of it. GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama delivered a long and remarkable speech to his constituents in which he directly took on not only King, but Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, another anti-reform diehard - and made a faith-based and compassionate argument for reform."
The American Action Network, a right leaning PAC, launched a $65,000 ad campaign in House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) home district today in Bakersfield, CA. The ads support Rep. McCarthy's leadership on "working to secure the border." The ad comes just a few week after hundreds of pro immigration advocates rallied at his district office in support of comprehensive immigration reform with a road to citizenship.
August 21, 2013
Another Republican Member of Congress has come out in support of a road to legalization and eventual citizenship in immigration reform. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) recently said this at a local town hall: "For the balance of those folks, i think there will be a long, hard track to a legal status, and for some, that may result in citizenship."
On a more pessimistic note, John Marshall, Editor at Talking Points Memo, penned an Editor's Blog yesterday: "Immigration Reformers, Wake the F' Up!" arguing that immigration reformer advocactes should "stop pretending that this bill is going to pass and get about the business of explaining to voters who is stopping it from passing or in fact stopping it from even getting a vote." Frank Sharry at America's Voice isn't buying it: "Now we're told that immigration reform is dead. This, just weeks after the U.S. Senate passed a strong bill with a bipartisan vote of 68-32. This, when it's evident that today - right now - a bipartisan majority exists in the House of Representatives that would approve immigration reform with a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants. Sorry, we're not buying it."
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seems to be going out of his way to make himself an opponent to the immigration reform advocacy community. Two days ago, he went on the conservative radio show Hugh Hewitt and argued against a special path to citizenship for all, including DREAMers: "In my opinion if you, after you have the borders secure and these enforcement mechanisms in place. If you were to do something, I would start first of all with children who were brought here illegally by their parents. They've grown up here. They've been educated here. They are ready to face the world and they have no documents. I think there's a more compelling argument to be made for them. But, even for them, I would say that they get a legal status in the United States and not a pathway to citizenship that is created especially for them."
This comes just days before Republican Congressman Steve Southerland (FL) signaled he was in fact open to the idea of citizenship for DREAMers: "There are a whole bunch of complicated issues. I met, last week, I had a town hall meeting, and those of you who were there you heard this young man. A college student that's just graduated was brought to the Untied States at the age of 4 by his parents. This is the only place he's ever known, so therefore, you have to have the wisdom of Solomon to deal with issues such as this. What is fair? What is compassionate? What is right? What is just? For a young man, when they said, someone said "Send him back!!" Well, back where? This is the only place he's ever known. So you have to look at this rationally, compassionately, justly, to find a solution. It's not sometimes as easy as some people want to give us credit for."
The Evangelical Immigration Table announced yesterday a historic $400,000 ad buy in key cities across 14 states. Ads are airing locally in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. Listen to the ad that will be hitting the radio waves.
August 20, 2013
The right leaning American Action Network released a new report (with a handy web tool) that argues that the Senate immigration reform bill would add nearly 14,000 jobs on average per Congressional district over the next decade.
Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy expert at the Cato Institute, calls the piecemeal enforcement legislation passed by the House Judiciary Committee (the SAFE Act) an "expensive boondoggle." A large reason for the increased cost will be due to the fact that "SAFE also mandates detention for many unauthorized immigrants, severely limiting judges' ability to use cheaper alternatives such as bonds or tracking bracelets. Detaining non-violent unauthorized immigrants for long periods of time is already an expensive $2 billion a year practice that SAFE will only expand.
At the same time, last week four sheriffs from Ohio and one from North Carolina met with a representative from Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) office and expressed their support for the same SAFE Act. Speaker Boehner responded in a letter: "I stand with you and other law enforcement officials from our region in support of H.R. 2278 and in unequivocal opposition to the massive, Obamacare-style immigration legislation backed by President Barack Obama and passed recently by the United States Senate."
The Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) went on Meet the Press last Sunday and talked immigration reform. The conversation went as expected with Chair Goodlatte saying: "Well, first, I think you have to assure that there's not going to be another wave of illegal immigration. That was the big criticism of the 1986 law. They gave an easy pathway to citizenship to nearly 3 million people and then they said we're going to secure the border; we're going to have employment -- employer sanctions and so on. And all of that has been very lightly enforced and in some instances not at all enforced by not just this president but by a series of presidents."
The very next day, at at town hall event, Rep. Goodlatte poured some cold water on hopes for immigration reform. Elise Foley at the Huffington Post reports: "Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) didn't breed much optimism on Monday about his plans for comprehensive immigration reform, telling a town hall crowd that the House would act, but not on a "special pathway to citizenship" that Democrats support."
August 19, 2013
Fox News Host Juan Williams penned an Editorial for today's edition of The Hill calling on Republicans in the House of Representatives to have a vote on the House floor on immigration reform. Based on statements Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made to a town hall crowd "that the House has plans to vote on immigration reform in October" Williams infers that Republican House leadership has a plan to somehow get around the Hastert rule.
CAMBIO and the Immigrant Justice Network just released a new infographic in support of immigration reform that "strengthens and expands judicial discretion" of immigration judges.
The New York Times Sunday Opinion piece titled, "War on the Border," examines the increasing militarization of the U.S. Southern border, especially post 9/11. The piece argues that "the United States-Mexico border has become a war zone. It is also a transfer station for sophisticated American military technology and weapons. As our country's foreign wars have begun to wind down, defense contractors look here, on the southern border, to make money." It also comments on the impact of the Senate immigration reform bill on the southern border: "if immigration reform passes, it will mark another milestone in a transformation that has already resulted in the creation of a war-zone-like area in which agents enjoy special powers to chase down, question and detain people."
August 16, 2013
Today, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution "in support of secure borders, economic growth, prosperity and national immigration policy reform." The Resolution, while calling on Congress to pass reform by the end of the year, does not include a pathway to citizenship for any undocumented immigrants currently living in this country, but instead only offers a legal status that includes a renewable work permit.
This comes on the same day that RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, commented on Governor Romney's use of the word 'self-deportation' during the 2012 election: "using the word 'self-deportation' - it's a horrific comment to make. I don't think it has anything to do with our party. When a candidate makes those comments, obviously, it hurts us."
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican from Carson City, Nevada, "said Wednesday he believes the House should pass an immigration reform bill that allows some undocumented immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship."
August 15, 2013
Today marked the one year anniversary of the implementation of the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals program. The Immigration Policy Center presents preliminary findings on the impact that DACA has had on some of the young people who have received it. "We find that the DACA recipients we surveyed experienced a pronounced increase in economic opportunities, such as getting a new job, opening their first bank account, and obtaining their first credit card. "
Secretary Napolitano who implemented the program commented in a blog post on the Department of Homeland Security website: "Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified in DACA cases. And, by removing the threat of deportation for people brought to the country as children, we have been able to continue to focus our enforcement efforts on serious criminals, public safety threats, and those who pose a danger to national security."
Think Progress profiled seven DACA recipients and the impact the program has had on their life in the last year.
U.S. Travel has launched a new website calling on "Congress and the Administration to make America's visitor entry process simpler and more efficient." The site includes a platform for visitors to email their members of Congress and hear directly from visitors to the U.S. who have experienced problems while entering the country. The site includes a factsheet on the economic impacts of the current system: "inefficient and inconsistent Customs and entry processes discourage inbound international travel to the United States, which limits economic growth and job creation. Security and efficiency are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are equally important and mutually achievable objectives, both of which help to facilitate increased visitation and strengthen the U.S. economy."
August 14, 2013
Wondering what the opponents to immigration reform are up to? Well Jon Feere from the Center for Immigration Studies released a primer for citizens lobbying against immigration reform. His tips include questioning the impact of reform on "American" workers, the implications of more people speaking a language other than English at home, and the balance of high skilled versus low skilled workers.
Meanwhile the Heritage Foundation has pulled together the five questions that "anti-amnesty" advocates can use when attending August recess town halls with their Members of Congress. Questions include: "how can we afford an amnesty for illegal immigrants?" and "can we ensure that a House-passed immigration bill doesn't become a vehicle, in a deal with the Senate, for blanket amnesty?".
And America's Voice has coverage of "that time Steve King held an anti-immigrant rally and no one came."
After the Senate passed bipartisan immigration reform in late June all eyes turned toward the leadership in the House of Representatives to see what would happen next. Well Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is trying to pull back some of that limelight. Yesterday, in an interview with Florida radio host Preston Scott, Sen. Rubio offered an interesting reason why House Republicans should move on immigration reform: "I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order like he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen. A year from now we could find ourselves with all 11 million people here legally under an executive order from the president."
August 13, 2013
Today, the White House released a new report on "The Economic Benefits of Providing a Path to Earned Citizenship." The report makes the case for the road to citizenship, rather than just legalization as some members of Congress have been suggesting: "Compared to the benefits of citizenship, providing legal status alone to currently undocumented workers would, over 10 years, result in $568 billion less GDP, and $321 billion less total income. An estimated 820,000 fewer total jobs would be created, and federal and state governments would lose out on $75 billion in additional tax revenue according to outside estimates."
In more positive news for immigration reform advocates The Washington Post reports on the unusual coalition built in support of reform and the effectiveness of the tactics on display. "An unusual alliance of advocates - including Internet moguls and evangelicals, representatives of big business and labor unions - is working across the country during the August congressional recess in an all-out push for immigration reform. The broad effort, which also includes immigrant rights groups, is using diverse tactics, too. There are roundtables and rallies, sit-ins and voter registration drives, as well as expensive radio and television ads. In Georgia, activists plan to deliver Mexican, Korean and other international food to a congressman's office Thursday to highlight the many immigrant communities that are part of his district."
The Immigration Policy Center released new district-by-district profiles of immigrants in 16 Congressional districts.
August 12, 2013
Over the weekend Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) participated in a panel organized by Bibles, Badges and Business at the South by Southwest V2V conference in Las Vegas. Rep. Heck addressed the nature of immigration system: "there's a whole lot more underlying immigration reform that is critical to the future economy of our nation, whether it's high-tech, whether it's agricultural guest visas, whether it's E-Verify to protect against worker exploitation.… There are so many pieces to it. I wish that the discussion was always more comprehensive. Because then I think people would better understand that this truly is in our vital national and economic interests." He also addressed the issue of the 11 million currently in the country without papers: "I believe the [citizenship] pathway the Senate bill has laid out is a reasonable pathway."
In other town hall news, Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) had this to say when asked about immigration: "We need to do border security first and an e-verify program. And we've talked about that. Those need to be done before you have the discussion of what to do with the people already here."
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke more positively on a comprehensive approach: "I think immigration, as an issue itself, is one of the most important things this Congress is and will be addressing, if not the most important issue. I strongly support immigration reform."
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) drew a strong line in the sand on the road to citizenship: "The citizenship line should begin in your country. It's a basic question of fairness to me. What is fair about those people who waited 18 years to come here legally. Our office works on probably more immigration questions than any office in the country. We want legal immigration. We want legal processing."
August 9, 2013
Today, in an interview with NPR, Republican Congressman Blake Farnthold (TX) spoke on how he is pulled in two directions over immigration. When asked directly about supporting a road to citizenship he hedged his bets: "I will support a path to citizenship if it does not fall within the definition of amnesty, and we've got to define what amnesty is in this country."
Want to make sure your Member of Congress knows your feelings on immigration? Use America's Voice handy town hall locator tool and by simply punching in your zip code, you will find all the public events your Representative will be participating in.
August 8, 2013
ABC had some welcome news for immigration reform advocates this morning-two more Republicans coming out in support of a road to legalization and citizenship and a strong August recess push by advocates to get them there. "The announcements come on the cusp of an intense campaign by pro-immigration advocates targeting key House members at town-hall events; it's all part of a larger five-week plan for hundreds of rallies, petition drives and other events across the country timed for the Congressional recess."
Yesterday, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) became the 22nd Republican Congress member to express support for legalization with a road to citizenship in immigration reform. On John Carlson's KVI radio show he said: "the problem is that those people who came illegally have a responsibility and a debt to pay, but there also is a responsibility on our part to recognize that the fed government and immigration system failed…failed to secure borders and hold people accountable…that brings us to today to the 12 million folks, what do we do? What about those folks who have been here 25 years?...what do you do with those people?....I want them to pay a fine, there's some penalties they have to through, I want to hold them accountable and then they get citizenship and pay taxes."
Want to get involved this August, check out AILA's August Recess Toolkit for all the resources your need to be an effective advocate. (AILA Doc. No. 13080843.) And don't forget, call your Representative every day and express your support for a vote on immigration reform with a road to legalization and citizenship. (AILA Doc. No. 13080841.)
August 7, 2013
The Migration Policy Institute released an amazing effort to compare Senate bill 744 with the five piecemeal bills that House committees have already passed. The leaders in the House of Representatives have gone out of their way to indicate that the Senate bill is dead on arrival, so let's see how similar or different their approaches really are.
In what many are calling long overdue, founder of Facebook and the pro-immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us, Mark Zuckerburg, joined DREAMers, farm workers, Congress members and others in event to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform in San Francisco. Buzzfeed reports: "Mark Zuckerberg spoke for the first time on immigration reform, saying today's young Dreamers are 'tomorrow's entrepreneurs' and disputing the idea that immigration reform is something that can be compartmentalized and supported in pieces."
In a recent town hall meeting, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) took a question from the audience on immigration. "McCarthy said the U.S. needs to grow its population to compete with global economies but said the first step is securing its borders. He promoted a guest-worker program and legal status for many immigrants but stopped short of offering a path to citizenship. 'What you then have to address is the 11 million that are here considered illegal,' he said. 'I personally believe it's different for someone who's been here 30 years than if they've been here three months.' McCarthy said people who overstayed their visa in the U.S. should pay some penalty, those who came here illegally should be able to work toward a legal status, and those who came without a visa and committed a serious felony should be deported. 'I personally believe if you came here as a child, that's different,' McCarthy said. 'This is your country. You have no other place to go to.'"
August 6, 2013
In big news coming out of Illinois, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) became the 21st Congressional Republican to come out in support of legalization with a road to citizenship, explicitly endorsing the Senate plan.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group opposing immigration reform, released a new ad in Wisconsin targeting former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, and current Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The ad highlights unemployment figures in Wisconsin and claims that "amnesty" will only make those numbers worse.
Last week, Gil Cisneros, the interim chairman and CEO of the Chamber of the Americas, and Wayne Trujillo, the chamber's director of communications, provided a Guest Commentary in The Denver Post on the "Hope for immigration." "U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue highlighted immigration's inconvenient truth. 'Gaps and shortages in our workforce put American jobs at risk - because if companies can't find all the workers they need here, then they will be forced to move all the work where the workers are,' Donohue said. It's no secret that one reason for business support of immigration reform is the abundant and inexpensive workforce that immigrants supply. However, many of the jobs occupied by immigrants here without documentation will stand vacant or relocate offshore."
August 5, 2013
Another House Republican has joined the ranks of legalization proponents, although with a few catches. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel Rep. Dan Webster (FL) stated that "we're a nation of immigrants, there's no question about that. But we're also a nation of laws. I think we have to honor both of those." He went on to say that he could support legalization with a road to citizenship, but only when at least 90% of those trying to enter the country illegally are stopped, mandatory E-Verify, and the most controversial, empowering local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.
The New York Times published an editorial on Saturday expressing optimism as Congress heads into August recess: "Dysfunction, inaction, demeaning blather - is this any time to be optimistic about immigration reform?
It could be. Because with Congress now out on vacation for five weeks, when it can't do anything awful, it is the people's turn to push, to be heard and, if at all possible, to move Congress in the right direction. To that end, an amazing array of determined advocates from all corners of the country has plunged into a month of protests, rallies, vigils, town-hall meetings, phone-calling and canvassing, focusing on Republicans in their home districts."
The New Democrat coalition, a group of moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, set a deadline for Speaker Boehner to move forward with immigration reform. They write that "if a bipartisan immigration reform package is not introduced in the House of Representatives - one that includes a pathway to citizenship, helps grow American jobs, and fixzes out immigration system once and for all - by September 30th, we as New Democrats will consider introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter signed by over 400 business expressing their desire to see immigration reform happen in the House of Representatives. "Failure to act is not an option. We can't afford to be content and watch a generation-old immigration system work more and more against our overall national interest. Instead, we urge Congress to remain mindful of the clear benefits to our economy if we succeed, and work together and with us to achieve real, pro-growth immigration reform."
The Black American Leadership Alliance, a group with ties to the anti-reform group FAIR, announced the "We Are America Tour," a series of rallies that will be held on September 7th, "encouraging House members in their localities, to do their part in stopping the Senate's massive push for amnesty."
August 2, 2013
Want to know where your Member of Congress will be this summer? Check out this handy database from Americans United for Change that allows you to search for all the public events in your Congressional district.
Buzzfeed chronicles the long road that lead Mark Zuckerburg to join the zero-hour push for immigration reform, and how Jose Antonio Vargas helped expand the role of the tech industry in the debate. Joe Green, president and co-founder of FWD.us "credits Vargas, who was covering Facebook since a 2007 piece in the Washington Post, with giving the tech community someone it was familiar with to humanize the debate and get them to pay attention to it."
Earlier today 40+ leaders in the immigration advocacy community were arrested in front of a Congressional House building after demanding a vote on immigration reform. Frank Sharry, the executive director for America's Voice, explained that "the purpose is to elevate the pressure on House leadership to give us a vote on citizenship. There is a long tradition of civil disobedience as a way of expressing your political commitment to a cause, it's quite cathartic to put yourself on the line like this."
August 1, 2013
Last night The Daily Show took Congress to task for stalling on immigration reform. Watch host John Oliver tackle the misinformation about the people immigration reform is intended to help.
Today, the National Journal released an instructional guide created by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) for fellow members of the Republican Party on how to talk about immigration reform, and AILA got a mention! Rep. Goodlatte opens with a critique of the Senate bill: "while the Senate has passed a massive bill that contains many problematic provisions, the House is taking a step-by-step approach so that we carefully and methodically review each component of immigration reform in detail." The 24 page guide includes talking points, sample op-eds and a defense of the four pieces of legislation that the Judiciary Committee has passed.
Read Rep. Goodlatte's "Top 10 Concerns with the Senate Immigration Bill."
The White House has released state-by-state factsheets on the economic benefits of immigration and immigrants to local communities.
Ben Johnson, director of the American Immigration Council, penned a guest column for his native state in the Arizona Daily Star arguing that "politicians who favor immigration reform that includes a workable strategy for dealing with undocumented immigrants are doing more than making a political calculation. They are showing that they care about the long-term economic outlook of the United States, the well-being of thousands of baby boomers moving into retirement, and the fiscal and economic health of their states."
Ever wonder who exactly is on the other side of the efforts to pass common sense immigration reform? The Atlantic provides an interesting look into one of the main organizations organizing against reform efforts, NumbersUSA. Roy Beck, the executive director of the group, describes his mission for the month ahead: "our members have got to get these members of Congress to see that it's not about who the immigrants are. It's about who the immigrants affect. Immigration policy should serve the interests of Americans. It's not about immigrants. It's about immigration policy, and how that policy affects the people in your district -- the wage-earning people."
July 31, 2013
House leadership, including Speaker Boehner (R-OH), has gone out of their way to attempt to distance Republican members of the House from Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) comments regarding DREAMers; however, a study released today by American Bridge 21st Century revealed that the Republican caucus sided with Rep. King on 89.9% of votes on immigration in the last ten years.
This follows an announcement by the labor union SEIU of a new online ad campaign in seven districts held by Republican members calling on them to speak out in favor of commonsense immigration reform and reject the positions of the extremists in their party.
As the House of Representatives enters the last week before its Members head home to speak the month in their home district for the August recess, organizations and both political parties are gearing up. The Washington Post reports that several Democratic members of congress are planning on inviting "House Republicans to do joint, bipartisan town hall meetings on immigration reform in August."
And Buzzfeed reports that "Immigration organizations, evangelical Christian groups, the business community, and big labor are all plotting a month-long push, aimed at turning the tide in the House towards finally reforming the nation's immigration laws."
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services has released a new set of Immigration Mythbuster infographics, available for download at their website.
July 30, 2013
Earlier today, more than 100 Republican donors sent a letter to Republican members of Congress urging them to "take action to fix our broken immigration system." They went on to say: "standing in the way of reform ensures that we perpetuate a broken system that stifles out economy, leaves millions of people living in America unaccounted for, maintain a porous border, and risk a long-lasting perception that Republicans would rather see nothing done that pass needed reform."
Today, the White House issued a new report in the Fixing our Broken Immigration System series on "The Economic Benefits to Agriculture and Rural Communities."
Last Friday Paul Ryan (R-WI) hosted a bilingual listening session in Racine, Wisconsin, part of his Congressional district. During the town hall he was asked the following question: "One of the biggest frustrations we're seeing right now is hearing Speaker Boehner, that he's going to follow the Hastert Rule. That he's not going to bring any of these bills forward unless they have a majority support of the majority party. What's your position, should you maintain that?"
Rep. Ryan answered this way: "It is not, 'they don't come to the floor unless we have a majority of the majority,' because we don't know if we have a majority until we vote on it. So here's where I see things going. I've spoken to John Boehner as recently as three days ago about this, which is, we all agree it is better to legislate in stages instead of one big thousand plus page bill that no one has read. [...] I'm trying to get to a consensus so a majority of us do support those component parts. I believe that's achievable because when people really look at the details and they focus on what's right, I believe what I've just laid out is something that a consensus of Republicans and Democrats can agree to." (via Think Progress)
July 29, 2013Debunking the myths about immigration and providing short, concise answers to the often complex issues raised by the immigration debate is a challenge, thankfully the Immigration Policy Center is here to help. Today, the Center released "Tackling the Toughest Questions on Immigration Reform," a Q and A guide to help you get to the heart of the toughest questions on immigration.
CAMBIO, the Campaign for an Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration overhaul, has a new blog series following the trek of King Li's drive along the entire length of the US-Mexico border, from Friendship Park in San Diego, Calif. to Brownsville, Texas. Read the first installment.
July 26, 2013
Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook CEO and co-founder of the advocacy group FWD.us, is planning on speaking publically in support of immigration for the first time at a San Francisco showing of the film, “Documented.” The film was written and directed by Pulitzer prize winning journalist, and undocumented immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report detailing America's efforts to secure the Southern Border over the last decade. What should come as no surprise to anyone is that the report finds that "since the last round of comprehensive immigration reform proposals in the mid-2000s, the U.S. has substantially increased its investments in border security. Border agents have nearly doubled, fencing has more than quadrupled, surveillance technology is more widely deployed, and consequences for would-be crossers have increased."
The Future of Children, a Brookings-Princeton think tank that provides research and analysis to promote effective policies and program for children, released a report today on the "Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present, and Future." The report finds that "first, immigrant youth-defined as those children under age eighteen who are either foreign-born or U.S.-born to immigrant parents-now account for one-fourth of the nation's 75 million children. By 2050 they are projected to make up one-third of more than 100 million U.S. children. Second, the wave of immigration under way since the mid-1960s has made children the most racially and ethnically diverse age group in the United States."
July 25, 2013
Today, Alejandro Mayorkas, the current Director of USCIS, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee for a hearing on his confirmation to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. (AILA Doc. No. 13072547.) In order for Mr. Mayorkas to assume the role he will have to be confirmed by the full Senate. Today's hearing was sparsely attended as all eight Republican Senators on the committee chose not to attend in response to the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Inspector General into Mr. Mayorkas' role in helping a company get a foreign investor visa improperly. Mr. Mayorkas made a bold and strong defense of his actions as appropriate during his testimony.
Surprise, surprise Rep. Steve King is in the news again for controversial statements he made about DREAMers as drug mules. The controversy became so public that in his weekly press conference today Speaker Boehner was forced to repudiate Rep. King's comments: "I want to be clear: there's no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials. Earlier this week, Rep. Steve King made comments that were, I think, deeply offensive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people, or the Republican Party. We all need to do our work in a constructive, open, and respectful way. As I've said many times, we can disagree without being disagreeable."
The stark reality is that Rep. King's claims just don't jive with a number of studies done over the years on immigrants and criminality. A new factsheet by the Immigration Policy Center lays out the facts. "Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are not associated with higher rates of crime."
In other Rep. Steve King news, a new poll commissioned by the American Action Network, a conservative group advocating for immigration reform, shows that "68% of voters in King's fourth Congressional District in Iowa support an 'earned pathway to legal status,' while 65% support an 'earned pathway to citizenship.'"
July 24, 2013
Watch AILA's Advocacy Director, Greg Chen, explain what happened in the two House hearings yesterday in this AILA Quicktake video.
Tensions flared yesterday between the White House and House Republicans, with White House officials stepping publically into the immigration fray by questioning House Republican leadership commitment to immigration reform. Yesterday, Speaker Boehner, during a GOP leadership press conference, proclaimed that "nobody spent more time trying to fix a broken immigration system than I have…it's been a big goal of mine." The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded quickly in his press briefing: "Maybe it was predictive; maybe it was anticipatory. And maybe if the House does in the end do the right thing and take action on comprehensive immigration reform and support it, then the credit for that will accrue to the Speaker as well as to other people. But thus far, we have not seen any evidence from House Republican leaders, anyway, of a commitment to comprehensive immigration reform as we've seen it from Republicans in the Senate."
All of this followed a tweet from White House staffer Dan Pfeiffer on the KIDS Act: "La Opinion nails the cruel hypocrisy of the GOP immigration plan: allow some kids to stay but deport their parents...," that was rebuked by Immigration Subcommittee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) during yesterday's hearing on DREAMers: "He summarized this entire debate with that tweet. So I want to compliment you [the witnesses] and thank you for not being a demagogic, self-serving political hack who can't even be elected to a parent advisory committee, much less Congress, which is what Mr. Pfeiffer is."
July 23, 2013
Today two subcommittees in the House had hearings on immigration reform. The Border and Maritime Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee concluded that H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act, was by far the better option to address border security concerns than what was passed in S.744 (the border surge amendment). The Immigration Policy Center released their own comparison of the two bills as well. Read AILA's live summary of the hearing. (AILA Doc. No. 13071746.)
The more interesting hearing happened in the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee of the Judiciary committee. The hearing, "Addressing the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children," included testimony from four members of Congress, a leader from the Southern Baptist Convention, a policy analyst from the Migration Policy Institute, a DREAMer from Arkansas, and a U.S. Citizen whose sister is a DREAMer and whose mother was deported six years ago. (AILA Doc. No. 13071745.) Many of the Republican members of the committee (sans Rep. Steve King of course) expressed support for finding a solution for a certain category of undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Many times throughout the hearing the so called KIDS Act, a piece of legislation the media reports is being drafted by Reps. Cantor (R-VA) and Goodlatte (R-VA) was discussed, but at this point no legislative language has been released. Read AILA's live summary of the hearing. (AILA Doc. No. 13071745.)
The Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion, released an Editorial in anticipation of the hearing on DREAMers coming out strong against the KIDS Act. "Family values are a pillar of traditional Republican discourse. But as soon as it comes time to address immigration issues, all of their emphasis on family unity goes out the window, replaced by advocacy for division. This is the logical conclusion that follows from the KIDS Act, being developed by the House of Representatives. While this House bill would legalize the status of minors brought to the United States without papers by their parents, it would be the only measure the lower house would approve to regularize the status of anyone undocumented, unlike the Senate bill that initially aspired to benefit 11 million people."
Today, AILA released "AILA's Take on House Immigration," outlining AILA's major policy positions on the four major components of reform: legalization, the legal immigration system, border and interior enforcement and detention. (AILA Doc. No. 13072350.)
Americans for a Conservative Direction, an arm of Mark Zuckerburg's FWD.us group, released this slightly puzzling ad seemingly in support of immigration reform. The ad, called "Strong" brings attention to "Radar & Drones, Ground Sensors & Night Vision, finish hundreds of miles of new fencing, and 20,000 new border agents: ALL realities with a strengthened immigration plan. Universal E-Verify, a tracking system for foreign visitors, no benefits and no green cards for illegal immigrants until border security is in place. Call Congress: Tell them to SECURE OUR BORDERS!"
During today's Judiciary Committee hearing on undocumented immigrants brought here as children, Rep. Garcia (D-FL) called attention to some inflammatory comments made last week by Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Rep. King, in an interview with Newsmax said: "For everyone who's a valedictorian [referring to DREAMers], there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds - and they've got hands the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act." Those comments are now receiving swift reaction from House Republican leadership, including Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA).
"What he said is wrong. There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that." -Speaker Boehner
"I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable," -Majority Leader Eric Cantor
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will spend time on the floor of the House tomorrow repudiating Rep. King's comments.
Last week, Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) got some hometown love from a newspaper in his district. The Bakersfield Californian ran an Editorial praising Rep. Valadao for providing Kern County with "the kind of leadership in the immigration debate it has so patiently waited for." The Editorial goes out of its way to distinguish Rep. Valadao from the more senior Congress member, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Majority Whip, whose district also encompasses parts of Bakersfield County. They state: "we have yet to see our Bakersfield-based representative say anything that strays from the Republican talking points about hermetically sealing the border. He has yet to stake out a pragmatic vision because, as majority whip, his job is to corral tea party loyalists, not strategize or set policy."
The libertarian think tank, The Cato Institute, released a new video describing all the ways that the Senate bill's legalization process is not amnesty.
July 22, 2013
Rep. Steve King (R-IA), well known for his anti-immigration reform views and sometimes controversial statements, went on the Univision Sunday morning news show "Al Punto" and spoke with anchor Jorge Ramos. Speaking about the upcoming hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on the status off DREAMers he had this to say: "One of the pillars of American exceptionalism is the rule of law. If we destroy that because the sympathy in our heart for the DREAMers is greater than our love for the rule of law, then we have failed our founding fathers and we have diminished the destiny of this nation."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) went on Bloomberg TV and predicted dire consequences for Republicans if they fail to pass immigration reform. "We need to have - the broadest coalition I've ever seen is behind this bill, business, labor, the evangelicals, Catholic Church, high tech, ag business, ag workers. I mean, you name it, they're all out there. They have to be contacting their elected representatives that they are important, that they - that their representatives represent, and say, look, we want you to look at this issue. Don't we agree that 11 million people in the shadows is de facto amnesty? Don't you think we ought to act? Please, members of Congress, not in a negative fashion, but, please, members of Congress, pass a bill. Just get together and pass a bill. Then we go to conference and we come out with a - with a result that you can vote for or against."
Apparently, according to a new article from The Atlantic, "even the aide who coined the Hastert Rule says the Hastert Rule isn't working." The author, Molly Ball, compares Speaker Boehner's challenging Republican caucus to the challenging Democratic caucus Tip O'Neill was forced to lead in 1982, when President Regan had enormous public support and many Democrats were nervous about their next election. "Like O'Neill, Boehner has a partisan majority that is often divided ideologically. He has a large number of members who need to vote against Democrat-backed legislation for political reasons, but might not mind seeing such legislation pass in the end -- and thus might not hold it against Boehner when he violates the Hastert rule. That is, they wouldn't depose him as speaker. O'Neill was frequently humiliated by his divided caucus, just as Boehner is today. But he's now remembered as an effective and savvy liberal leader who embodied the art of compromise. If Boehner is looking for a model, maybe Hastert is the wrong speaker to emulate."
July 19, 2013
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group opposed to immigration reform efforts, released a new report this month, "Out of the Shadows: Shining a Light on Immigration and the Plight of the American Worker." The report argues that "the U.S. immigration system must be reformed to reflect broad national interest, not the narrow special interests that seek cheap labor and increased political influence. This means reducing overall levels of immigration and admitting immigrants who have the education and skills to succeed in 21st Century America."
Cindy Hahamovitch, a history professor at the College of William & Mary and the author of "No Man's Land: Jamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor," wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times on the proposed guest worker programs in both the Senate bill and Rep. Goodlatte's (R-VA) Agricultural Guestworker bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13042953.) She argues that "neither plan does anything to improve wages, require safer housing or protect our mostly immigrant farm labor force from pesticide poisoning. But if an expanded guest-worker program is inevitable, at least the Senate bill, by allowing guest workers some hope of becoming permanent residents, honors the long American tradition of giving the ultimate reward - citizenship - to those who do our dirtiest, most dangerous and essential work."
July 18, 2013
Next Tuesday, July 23rd, two House committees will hold hearings on immigration reform. The House Judiciary committee will hold a hearing on the so called KIDS Act (authored by Virginia Republicans Goodlatte and Cantor), although the bill text has not been made public. (AILA Doc. No. 13071745.) The hearing will officially "address the immigration status of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children." Yesterday, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) offered his endorsement for this proposal to grant some sort of legal status to these children. AILA will be providing live updates from the hearing. (AILA Doc. No. 13071745.) Additionally, the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council just released a factsheet on "DREAMers, DACA and the Senate bill."
Today, Regional Economic Models, Inc. released a new report that builds on the Congressional Budget Office's score of S.744. As the Immigration Impact blog tells it: "specifically, the report explores the creation of a pathway to legal status, and an expansion of high-skilled and lesser-skilled visas. The report finds that overall economic effects of the policy changes would be positive, increasing gross domestic product (GDP) for the country and for each state, and increasing net new jobs across industries."
Earlier today more than 90 Catholic College Presidents sent a letter to the House of Representatives calling for Immigration Reform. "Catholic colleges and universities have a proud history of providing opportunities to immigrants who enrich our nation with creativity, hard work and public service. Together we represent universities that educate more than 290,000 students. Leaders on Catholic campuses advocated for the DREAM Act, and we stand with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a road to earned citizenship."
As Sen. John McCain gives us his opinion on the efforts of the immigration advocacy community: "Here is a fact: We are not winning. So we have to wage a campaign. That doesn't mean a negative campaign. It means a positive campaign," three new pro-immigration reform ads targeting three vulnerable House Republicans debuted. The ads, run by a Democratic super PAC, House Majority, focus on Rep. Miller (R-CA), Rep. Coffman (R-CO) and Rep. Heck (R-NV). All three represent districts with sizable Hispanic populations.
The Daily Beast doesn't believe immigration reform is dead either, they list five Republican leaders who can pave the way for successful reform in the House: Reps. Paul Ryan (WI), Raul Labrador (ID), Trey Gowdy (SC), Spencer Bachus (AL) and Kevin McCarthy (CA).
July 17, 2013
Jorge Ramos, the influential Univision anchor, followed up yesterday's tweet about Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) position of power when it comes to immigration reform with an editorial in ABC News. He makes a dire prediction for the Republican party if they stand in the way of immigration reform in the House: "Here is a political no-brainer: If Republicans in the House of Representatives vote against the immigration reform legislation that was recently approved by the Senate - or if they prevent it from coming to a vote at all - they will lose the presidential election in 2016. It will not even matter who their candidate is."
As advocates, community members, and AILA lawyers are gearing up for the Representatives to return home for the August recess, Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is trying to alleviate fears that the process is taking too long and ultimately won't get done before legislators kick into election mode in 2014. "…It is far more important to get this done right than it is to say we have an artificial barrier created by the President, who says that it's got to get out by July, or other people who say that it's got to get out by the end of the year. Or that it can't be done during an election year. Why can't it be done during an election year? The thing that is bringing this about is public pressure on both sides."
On that same note, Buzzfeed tackles the "fear that well-funded primary challengers" will take on Congress members who vote in favor of immigration reform "if they compromise on the issue - a line of reasoning that has crystalized into conventional wisdom in Washington." In a piece, aptly title, "No, Congressman, You Probably Won't Lose Your Job For Voting For Immigration Reform," John Stanton argues that based on "interviews with operatives, campaign aides, and activists from groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, as well as a review of recent election data, suggests the likelihood of Republicans facing serious primary challenges is not only overstated but probably won't have much of anything to do with immigration."
For the last six months a bipartisan group of House members have been working on a secret comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the introduction date of that bill keeps getting pushed back, making some wonder if it will ever be introduced. Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, unveils two details of the plan as shared with him by an aide close to the negotiations. "The new plan would take the provisional legal status and right to work granted to the undocumented at the outset and reconfigure it as 'probation.' The plan would [also] put in place a new trigger involving E-Verify that would be required to end that period of 'probation.'"
But, as The Hill reports: "After more than four years of secretive talks, the seven remaining members of the group do not want to put out their 500-page proposal only to see it immediately swatted down by conservatives who want an opportunity to first vote on measures strengthening border security."
July 16, 2013
According to Jorge Ramos, the "Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media," the Hispanic community knows who to focus on when it comes to immigration reform. In an interview with Greg Sargent of the Washington Post he said: "like it or not, the Hispanic media perceives that approving or rejecting immigration reform is in the hands of John Boehner. When you listen to local radio stations and even national media, most of us are concentrated on John Boehner. We don't even have a problem pronouncing his name."
This comes at the same time as the Republican Party tries to shift at least some of the blame/responsibility on to President Obama. The RNC Hispanic Communications Director, Izzy Santa, release a memorandum today claiming that "Obama [is] All Talk No Action for Hispanic Community." And as the President prepares to reenter the immigration reform fray with interviews planned with Univision and Telemundo over the next week ABC News chronicles "A Timeline of Obama's Slow-Motion Play on Immigration."
NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, has released their annual report that provides a "detailed regional, state-by-state, and congressional district analysis on the economic benefits of spending by international students and their dependents to the U.S. economy."
July 15, 2013
Want to know more about the "Border Security Results Act of 2013," the bipartisan border security bill passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee on a voice vote over a month ago? (AILA Doc. No. 13060647.) Read AILA's summary of the bill and watch Su Kim from AILA's Advocacy team discuss the bill. (AILA Doc. Nos. 13071248 and 13071246.)
Famous conservative and leader of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch, took to his Twitter account last night to express support for Senate Majority Leader Reid's insistence that Speaker Boehner should allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill: "Sen Reid right! Boehner should allow House of Reps to vote on immigration. Lead, for country's sake." This comes after Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) went on ABC News This Week and "encouraged House Republicans on Sunday to pass immigration legislation that when merged with the Senate plan would ultimately 'solve this festering sore that exists in our country today.'"
Last Friday we learned that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was leaving the Department to head to California and head the University of California higher education system. (AILA Doc. No. 13071245.) President Obama was full of praise for the Secretary, who will be leaving in early September: "Since day one, Janet has led my administration's effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values." (AILA Doc. No. 13071244.)
Now the attention shifts to what replacing Secretary Napolitano will mean for the debate on immigration reform. Senator Schumer (D-NY) has suggested NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, a choice that Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress thinks could be the right one: "Bringing in someone from outside that has independent enforcement credibility could change the dynamic between the administration and the House. If Ray Kelly is up there, will Republicans really say he won't enforce the law?" Mr. Kelly is just one name on a list the Washington Post has compiled, but the White House, at least so far, is not giving any clues.
July 12, 2013
This coming Monday opponents of immigration reform are being called to Washington D.C. to participate in a rally sponsored by the Black American Leadership Alliance, a group dedicated to “protecting the futures of black Americans.” Those who attend can expect to hear from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) echoing the theme for the day: “Just Say No to Amnesty.”
Although most Americans have never heard of the “blue slip” rule, it could prove to stymie the Senate’s efforts to encourage the House to take up their bipartisan immigration reform bill. The rule refers to the “origination clause” included in the Constitution that states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” That means when a bill originates and is voted out of the Senate, such as S.744, that raises fees or funds, “the Speaker of the House can use a procedure called a “blue slip resolution” to automatically kill it on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.” Although the Speaker hasn’t done this yet, perhaps because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hasn’t officially sent the bill to the House, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House, Dave Camp (R-MI) tweeted this: “Senate immigration bill a revenue bill; unconstitutional and cannot be taken up by the House.”
The Center for American Program breaks down the top four myths regarding immigration reform being used by opponents: the Senate shut the American people out of the process of immigration reform by writing the bill behind closed doors, immigration reform will hurt working-class Americans, the Obama administration will refuse to implement the border-security and enforcement strategies written into the bill, and Republicans can simply ignore Latino voters and continue to win elections by maximizing their share of white voters.
July 11, 2013
With all the coverage of immigration and the House of Representatives, it can still sometimes be hard to keep up with what's happening. The reality is that, as of now, nothing is happening in the House. The House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees combined have passed five piecemeal bills dealing with immigration reform: H.R. 1773, the Agricultural Guestworker Act, H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act (mandatory E-Verify), and H.R. 2131, the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas (SKILLS) Act., and H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act of 2013. (AILA Doc. Nos. 13042953, 13060654, 13071149 and 13071145 and 13060647.) None of these pieces of legislation offer a road to legalization or citizenship for the undocumented population, and none increase the number of visas for legal immigration or clear the backlogs that currently exist. AILA opposes four out of the five and is neutral on the fifth (border security).
Yesterday's announcement from the House leadership that the House would only consider an incremental approach leads us to believe that the comprehensive bill the bipartisan House group is working on (still?) is really going nowhere, but then Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) might still be pushing them to release a bill, so who knows. Even Speaker Boehner told his conference that his conference "would be 'in a much weaker position' if it failed to act," but that doesn't mean that he has the political power or desire to get immigration reform over the finish line. Buzzfeed puts it best: "Congressional GOPers emerged [from their caucus meeting] feeling much the same way about immigration reform as they went in: all over the place."
Watch AILA President Crystal Williams explain what the Republican caucus meeting yesterday really means for these efforts in this AILA Quicktake and read AILA President Doug Stump expresses his disappointment in his fellow Republicans in this AILA Leadership Blog.
The Huffington Post is reporting that Republicans Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) are in discussions to introduce a piece of legislation to help undocumented children. "The bill, tentatively named the KIDS Act, would be a Republican alternative to the Dream Act that failed in the Senate in 2010, and would allow undocumented young people to become legal residents."
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy release a report chronicling "Undocumented Immigrants' State and Local Tax Contributions." They find that "undocumented immigrants currently contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $10.6 billion in 2010" and that "allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion a year."
The White House is starting to get more active in the immigration debate now that's its moved to the House. This morning the President met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and in a separate meeting with members (Republican and Democrat) of the Senate "Gang of Eight." The administration also released a new report on "The Economic Benefits of Fixing our Broken Immigration System," and a video and infographic to accompany that report.
July 10, 2013
Following today's meeting of the Republican conference, the leaders of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives issued this statement: "Today House Republicans affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system. The American people want our border secured, our laws enforced, and the problems in our immigration system fixed to strengthen our economy. But they don't trust a Democratic-controlled Washington, and they're alarmed by the president's ongoing insistence on enacting a single, massive, Obamacare-like bill rather than pursuing a step-by-step, common-sense approach to actually fix the problem. The president has also demonstrated he is willing to unilaterally delay or ignore significant portions of laws he himself has signed, raising concerns among Americans that this administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate."
In anticipation of today's Republican conference meeting on immigration, last night the Democrats in the House had their own caucus, and were joined by the four Democratic Senators from the "Gang of Eight." After the meeting Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) outlining Democrats position on reform: "House Democrats' priorities for immigration reform are the principles laid out by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, with commitments to secure our borders, protect our workers, unite our families, and provide an earned pathway to citizenship. Each of these elements has bipartisan support…Mr. Speaker: if you decide to take up various elements of comprehensive immigration reform under separate votes, it is essential to remember that those key elements are interconnected and necessary for reform."
Everyone has different ideas on what immigration reform's chances to become law actually are. Some, like Politico, predict that immigration is heading for a slow death in the House, but other data, including polling, indicates that some Republicans can't afford not to vote for reform. We'll know a bit more after today's Republican conference meeting, but here's hoping Paul Ryan (R-WI) is using his negotiation and leadership skills to lead immigration reform over the finish line.
Yesterday, William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, penned an editorial laying out the three reasons House Republicans should "Kill the Bill," in reference to S.744. "There is no case for the bill, and certainly no urgency to pass it…The bill's first fatal deficiency is that it doesn't solve the illegal-immigration problem. The enforcement provisions are riddled with exceptions, loopholes, and waivers…The bill's changes in legal immigration are just as ill considered… Finally, there is the sheer size of the bill and the hasty manner in which it was amended and passed."
The Huffington Post put together this handy map breaking down "The House Of Representatives Members Most Likely To Back Immigration Reform." They predict that immigration reform that includes a road to citizenship has 188 likely yes votes and 118 likely no votes in the House of Representatives. This leaves 129 votes up for grabs. To pass in the House the bill needs 218 yes votes, meaning that 30 votes will need to break in favor of reform for any bill to be successful. All this assumes, of course, that a vote on immigration reform, with a road to legalization and then citizenship, is allowed to come up for a vote in the House at all. No sure proposition.
July 9, 2013
Tomorrow, the House Republican conference will meet at 3:00pm ET to discuss the way forward on immigration reform. Speaker Boehner has said that he wants to give the rank-and-file members of his party the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns. The meeting, which will be accompanied by a large rally outside the building of pro-immigration advocates, will most likely not provide the definite answers as to next steps in the House, but should provide some insight into what Speaker Boehner thinks is politically feasible.
When the Senate debated the Corker-Hoeven "border surge" amendment, Sen. Corker (R-TN) called it "almost overkill" and AILA came out against it as including "wasteful and needless spending on border security and enforcement." (AILA Doc. No. 13062166.) Well it seems like others are starting to agree. Time reports: "the deal, which helped pass the Senate rewrite of U.S. immigration laws, is unlikely to sway House Republicans who insist on securing the border before some 11 million undocumented immigrants can begin the naturalization process. And it is alienating allies who are vital to immigration reform's chances in the House, including a prominent Latino advocacy group and at least one Democratic Representative.
In an unexpected wrinkle, even authorities on the border are balking, saying the influx of agents could create more problems than it would solve."
Over the weekend Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) went on NBC's Meet the Press and got into a bit of an argument with New York Times journalist David Brooks on the Republican case against the Senate immigration reform bill. After Rep. Labrador commented that the Senate bill was untenable because it put legalization before border security, Brooks had this to say: "I've seen a lot of intellectually weak cases in this town. I've rarely seen as intellectually a weak case as the case against the Senate immigration bill. The Republicans say they want to reduce illegal immigration; the Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill will reduce it by a third to half. They say they want economic growth; all the top conservative economists say it'll produce economic growth. They say they want to reduce the debt; the CBO says it will reduce the debt. All the big major objectives the Republicans stand for, the Senate immigration bill will do. The other things they're talking about are secondary and tertiary issues. Whether we get 86% border protection or 90%-compared to the big things this bill does, they're miniscule. I'm mystified."
AILA Past President and Ohio resident David Leopold calls on Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to reconsider his anti-position on the senate immigration reform bill, S.744: "Portman may have one more chance to vote on immigration reform later this year should the full Congress pass a conference bill. Hopefully then Portman will put the people of Ohio ahead of inside-the-Beltway Washington politics."
July 8, 2013
Confused about what's happening in the House of Representatives on immigration reform, and what you can do about it? AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen explains what's happening in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13070842.)
July 5, 2013
The conservative super PAC, the American Action Network, announced the launch of a $50,000 television advertising campaign in Florida today "thanking Sen. Marco Rubio for keeping his promise and supporting legislation that secures the border. The ad, "Florida Surge," details some of the key border surge components of S.744 that passed last week. "Florida Surge" will run solely on the Fox News Channel on cable stations in Florida over the next two weeks."
July 3, 2013
The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation released an updated score of S. 744 as passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013. (AILA Doc. No. 13070345.)
July 2, 2013
A new poll released today from Latino Decisions indicates that Latino voters are willing and ready to vote for Republicans who offer support for immigration reform. Half of the respondents were read a prompt about Rubio working to pass immigration reform: 'Currently the U.S. Congress is debating a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States. Republican Marco Rubio played a key role in helping to pass this bill and with Rubio's leadership undocumented immigrants receive legal status and a path to citizenship.'
Respondents were then asked how likely they would be to vote for Rubio in the 2016 presidential election. 54% of Latino voters said they were likely to vote for Rubio; however, absent any prompting about Rubio working to ensure a final bill is passed, he failed to even reach the 30% support mark among Latinos.The Department of Homeland Security released FAQs on the impact of the Supreme Court decision on DOMA. Secretary Napolitano included this statement: "After last week's decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly. To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse." (AILA Doc. No. 13070240.)
July 1, 2013
Last week Rep. Paul Ryan (former Vice Presidential candidate) went on Sean Hannity's Fox News Show and advocated for a House immigration reform bill that secures the border first. But Sean Hannity was unconvinced by Rep. Ryan's plan: "we get the amnesty, we never get the border security." Rep. Ryan responded by stating: "We want to get undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, to actually give us the real name, the real identity, to get them in a situation where they are not taking someone's identity. We think it's important to get legal immigration working in order to secure the border, to do it this way." Sean Hannity seemed to remain unconvinced.
June 28, 2013
DHS Secretary issued a statement praising the Senate for passing S.744, bipartisan immigration reform. "Most importantly, the legislation incorporates the principles the President made clear must be part of commonsense immigration reform, including strengthening border security, creating a path to earned citizenship, cracking down on employers that hire undocumented workers, and streamlining our legal immigration system so everyone is playing by the same set of rules." (AILA Doc. No. 13062844.)
June 27, 2013
Today, in a historic vote, the Senate, while presided over by Vice President (and Senate President) Joe Biden, successfully passed (on a 68-32 vote) S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. (AILA Doc. No. 13062754.) Newly installed AILA President Doug Stump hailed the vote, "Despite our continued concerns regarding the recent changes in the bill that will militarize the border and bring real harm to border communities, AILA is pleased that the Senate continues to move forward toward real immigration reform that will on balance benefit far more families and businesses than it will hurt." (AILA Doc. No. 13062753.)
Here are some highlights from the last speeches before the vote:
Sen. Graham (R-SC):
To the American people, the best days lie ahead. This is a day that I've been hoping and waiting for.
Sen. Schumer (D-NY):
The support that is generated by this Senate will be impossible to ignore. Pass this bill and let's keep the American covenant alive. Pass this bill and let the torch of Lady Liberty continue to shine brightly.
June 26, 2013
This was a big day all around for immigration. The Senate took three critical votes to advance the immigration reform bill, the Supreme Court released the DOMA decision and the House of Representatives began the debate process on two deeply flawed piecemeal immigration bills.
Starting at 11:30 am, the full Senate took 3 votes: one to waive a budget point of order (68-30 vote), one to adopt the Leahy 1183 amendment (69-29 vote), and one to end debate on S.744 as reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee (67-31 vote). (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.) These represent three critical votes to push immigration reform forward. The vote to adopt the Leahy amendment, as modified by the Corker-Hoeven border surge agreement, was expected as the cloture vote filed two days ago passed with well over 60 votes. The vote to invoke cloture on S.744 as reported out of a committee was more of a welcome surprise and means that tomorrow three votes are left to officially have the Senate pass the bill: a vote to pass the bill as reported out of committee, a cloture vote on the final bill, and the final vote on the bill as amended.
Today, in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment (U.S. v. Windsor). (AILA Doc. No. 13062640.) DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement in response stating: "Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws." (AILA Doc. No. 13061151.) AILA President Laura Lichter noted, "Same sex bi-national couples have fought long and hard for the right to keep their families together. It's only fair that if a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is legally married-regardless of sexual orientation-that their lawful marriage be recognized by the federal government when it comes to immigration issues." (AILA Doc. No. 13062641.)
The House Judiciary Committee began debating two piecemeal immigration bill today. H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act, would make mandatory the use of an electronic employment verification system that would replace the current voluntary E-Verify system. In a press statement, AILA stated: "AILA believes that effective work-site enforcement is a logical component of any practical effort to fix the ills that plague our nation's immigration system. While real immigration reform can only be accomplished with a comprehensive approach, the key interests that an employment verification system must balance are individual worker rights and legitimate employer concerns." (AILA Doc. No. 13062642.)
The second bill, H.R. 2131, the SKILLS Act might contains quite a few good ideas for ensuring that our nation and economy can access the innovation, energy and ideas of new immigrants, but it falls short in addressing where those ideas fit in the big picture of legal immigration. AILA President Laura Lichter notes, "The SKILLS Act injects many positive elements, such as providing more green cards for STEM (science, engineering and math) graduates, increasing the H-1B visa cap, improving the E-2 treaty trader visa, and eliminating per country caps for employment-based visas. However, the measure also eliminates key visa categories that have long helped to secure the diversity of our immigrant populations and adhere to the family values that drive our national identity. By eliminating the sibling family preference category and the diversity visa program without adding corresponding measures to retain the valued aspects of the immigration system that those categories represent, we wind up with a misguided "zero-sum" approach to immigration." (AILA Doc. No. 13062643.)
June 25, 2013
AILA released a new section-by-section update of S.744 that reflects the changes made by the Corker-Hoeven substitute bill introduced yesterday in the Senate. (AILA Doc. No. 13062470.)
June 24, 2013
Today, at 5:30pm ET the full Senate voted 67 to 27 to end debate on the Leahy 1183 amendment as modified by the Corker-Hoeven amendment. (AILA Doc. No. 13062165.) AILA’s President Laura Lichter commented: “These hundreds of pages contain hope and prosperity for immigrants, for businesses, and for families many of which have literally been waiting decades. After months of debate, including several weeks of review in committee and before the full Senate, the Senate bill still contains the essential elements of immigration reform that AILA has long supported: legalization with a path to citizenship for the undocumented, reforms to the family and business immigration system, and components for enforcement and border security.” (AILA Doc. No. 13062469.)
Today’s cloture vote, while technically on an amendment that includes highly problematic border reforms, will likely be the decisive vote on the Senate immigration bill. In addition, over the next four to five days there is the possibility of additional amendments being considered and voted on to be included in the final bill.
In addition, the Congressional Budget Office released a new score of the bill based on the amendment, estimating that the decrease in savings to the Federal Government will largely mirror the increase in spending on border enforcement (approximately $50 billion).
Last week the House Judiciary Committee approved two piecemeal immigration bills: H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, and H.R. 1773, the Agricultural Guestworker Act, both on straight party line votes. (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13060654, 13042953.) This week they’ll consider two more piecemeal immigration bills, H.R. 1772, the Legal Workforce Act, and H.R.2131, the Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (The SKILLS Visa Act). (AILA Doc. No. 13050809.)
June 21, 2013
For the last few days two Republicans in the Senate, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, have been wrangling with the “Gang of Eight” and other Senate leadership over a deal to vastly increase border security. Well, late last night, according to The Washington Post, an agreement was reached that calls for “doubling the number of federal border agents, the completion of 700 miles of fencing, and expanded radar and aerial drone surveillance.”
The New York Times reports that if this deal is agreed to by the full Senate it could pull as many 15 Republicans into voting for the final bill as amended—meaning that bill would have the votes necessary to sail successfully through the Senate (including defeating a potential filibuster). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to invoke cloture on the border agreement today, with a vote of the full Senate then scheduled for Monday. Even Bill O’Reilly has now expressed support for the underlying Senate immigration bill.
AILA acknowledged the tremendous step forward in the Senate on the part of negotiators who arrived at a difficult political compromise on immigration reform but noted that some of the details of that compromise can potentially damage, rather than improve, the immigration system. (AILA Doc. No. 13062166.) AILA President Laura Lichter commented: "AILA is concerned that the amended bill includes wasteful and needless spending on border security and enforcement. Frankly, I've been fascinated by the number of legislators concerned about spending overall who are now in favor of throwing billions of new dollars at the border, despite not knowing if the increased funding will really solve anything. "
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a shorter summary of their score of S.744. Also, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Immigration Policy Center have both released their own analyses of the CBO score to help people better understand what it all means.
The biggest news coming out of the Senate today is the work of two Republican Senators , Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, to reach a deal on ramped up border enforcement with the "Gang of Eight" and other Senate leadership. Some speculate that a deal like this could draw as many as 15 new Republicans onto the final bill. News reports indicate that the ramped up border provisions could include a doubling of border patrol officers along the Southern border (to about 40,000 total, or enough for one officer every 1,000 feet), additional fencing and increased use of technology and unarmed aerial vehicles to patrol the border. Sen. Graham (R-SC) of the "Gang of Eight" commented, "this is a surge--a border surge. We've practically militarized the border."
This ramp up of enforcement along the Southern border will need to be voted on by the full Senate to be included in S.744, which will most likely happen on Monday, June 24th. If the agreement is approved (which everyone expects will happen), then a final vote on the bill could happen as early as Wednesday, June 26th (after cloture has been invoked).
The "surge" of border patrol officers at the Southern border is expected to cost an additional $30 billion (not including the other enforcement measures included in the deal). This was, at least in part, made possible by the positive Congressional Budget Office score that was released for S.744 earlier this week. That score showed that in the first ten years of enactment the bill would create $175 billion surplus for the federal government. The Immigration Policy Center provides a handy fact sheet on what exactly the CBO score is, how it was calculated, and why it is important.
The Partnership for a New American Economy has created an interactive map that shows the net change in a county's immigrant population from 2000-2010 and the corresponding positive effect on median home value (collectively immigrants have added $3.7 trillion to U.S. housing wealth).
With the defeat of the Farm Bill in the House earlier today (a surprise to many, including Republican leadership), and the pending deal looming in the Senate, Speaker Boehner's role as the lynchpin for successful immigration reform cannot be understated. As speaker he has the opportunity (or the burden, depending on how you look at it) of setting the tone by which the House will debate immigration reform (not off to a good start with the SAFE Act) and the number of votes from each party that will needed to get to the magic 218 number (a majority of House members). For members of the far right of his party immigration reform may be the final rallying cry in their bid to unseat him as Speaker, but Speaker Boehner has given himself plenty of wiggle room to still pass reform without their support, regardless of the personal or political consequences.
Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) position on immigration reform and S.744 are less than clear. A few months ago, in a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he came out strongly in favor of a fix to our broken immigration system that included a path to legalization, as the only way forward for the Republican party. While he hasn't completely strayed from that theme, his position on the bipartisan reform bill in the Senate right now reveals a much murkier stance.
An amendment he offered, Paul 1200-tabled today on the Senate floor, would have required annual Congressional approval of progress on border security measures in order for the RPI process to begin (and continue)-effectively killing the RPI program. In addition, the amendment would have required doubled layered fencing and an exit data system at all land ports of entry, no easy feat. Other amendments he's filed deny RPIs eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit, Social Security, Medicare, and other federal benefits (1202), and require states to ensure citizenship status before allowing individuals to register to vote (1314).
Yesterday, Sen. Paul went on PBS Newshour and doubled down on these ideas, stating: "And this is coming from somebody who wants immigration reform. I think the system is horribly broken. If we do nothing, it's a big mistake. So, I want to see immigration reform, but I want it to obey a rule of law with a secure border, with securing that the vote only goes to citizens, and that welfare only goes to citizens. If all these things are taken care of, I think both parties could get behind a bill like this." Now that his border amendment has been defeated, it's anyone's guess if he'll end up supporting S.744 at the end of the day.
The Center for American Progress released a new report today analyzing the "fundamental demographic and employment trends that are changing our nation's workforce and seem certain to continue long beyond the ongoing recovery from the recent deep recession."
Sen. Cruz (R-TX), in response to the Supreme Court's Ruling on the Arizona voter ID case filed an amendment (1295) to permit States to require proof of citizenship for registration to vote. The Dallas Morning News didn't appreciate that much, saying in an Editorial yesterday: "Cruz's amendment is a backdoor way to kill the immigration bill. His proposal would make it impossible for many other senators who want to overhaul our immigration laws to support the Senate's bipartisan bill. Cruz has every right to oppose the legislation, but his amendment is a trap."
John C. Wester, a bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, wrote an Op-ed in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune asking Senator Hatch, Republican from Utah, to withdraw his amendments because they would place additional financial burdens on persons attempting to qualify for a path to citizenship (1246), disqualify them for a tax subsidy to purchase health care until they earn citizenship, not permanent residency, as in current law (1248), and require that immigrants pay back taxes, which might keep them from qualifying for legal status altogether (1247).
Jon Stewart is on a leave of absence from The Daily Show, and while he's gone correspondent John Oliver is taking his place. John Oliver is an immigrant (he migrated to the U.S. from England), and he had some strong words, with a help from a friend, for a WWE host who talked disparagingly about immigrants in the United States before a recent fight.
June 18, 2013
Today, at 5:00pm the Congressional Budget Office released their Score of S.744. (AILA Doc. No. 13061849.) They estimate that the bill would lead to a net savings of about $175 billion over the 2014-2023 period, taking into account increases to the labor population, increased use of services, and increased population, among other factors. Time provides more information as well.
The House Judiciary Committee began the markup of H.R. 2278 today. The markup saw impassioned statements by both sides of the aisle, including ranking members Reps. Conyers (D-MI) and Lofgren (D-CA) indicating that there were no changes that could be made to this bill to garner their support. Rep. King (R-IA) offered an amendment to nullify the Morton memos, which passed on party lines, and an amendment to end birthright citizenship, which he withdrew at the request of Chair Goodlatte (R-VA). AILA has a summary of today's markup. (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.)
What's going through Speaker John Boehner's mind right now, that's what everyone wants to know. Today he poured some cold water on those hopeful for immigration reform when he said: "I don't see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't have the majority support of Republicans." Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, seems to thinks he's bluffing, but only time will tell.
June 17, 2013 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on Meet The Press yesterday and had some dire words of warning for his fellow Republicans: "If we don't pass immigration reform , if we don't get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016. We're in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don't do that, it really doesn't matter who will run, in my view." This comes right before the Huffington Post reported that Sen. Graham is growing frustrated with his fellow "Gang of Eight" member, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). "How do we put together a bill and then the guy who put it together says that he may not vote for it? I just don't get what we're doing here."
Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will begin the markup process for H.R. 2278, the so-called SAFE Act. (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.) Read AILA's Take on H.R. 2278 and the letter to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi strongly opposing the bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13061750, AILA Doc. No. 13061751.)
Health Affairs has released a new study indicating that "Unauthorized Immigrants Spend Less Than Other Immigrants and U.S. Natives on Health Care."
John Morton, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "announced his resignation today in an internal member saying he'll leave the agency at the end of July." CNN has compiled some of the stats that have marked Director Morton's career at ICE including 409,849, the number of deportations in President Obama's first term in office.
June 14, 2013
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee hosted a hearing on H.R. 2778, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, the so-called SAFE Act. (AILA Doc. No. 13060750, 13060654.) AILA President Laura Lichter puts it best: "I am disheartened by this bill and that the Committee has taken it up. It completely misses the mark on the kind of reform our country needs in order to build a 21st century immigration system that benefits us all. This feels like déjà vu all over again. The SAFE Act doesn't bother with any new solutions but instead tries to resurrect an enforcement-only strategy that was sponsored nearly a decade ago by Representative Sensenbrenner, H.R. 4437. In the years since then, our government has spent an unprecedented amount on border security and enforcement, meeting benchmark after benchmark. But even those successes haven't fixed our broken system because border security is only one piece of the immigration equation. If anything, the failure of enforcement-only strategies just points out the need for a balanced overhaul, like what we see in the Senate bill." (AILA Doc. No. 13061343.)
The Hill is reporting the House Judiciary committee will begin markup of the SAFE Act in committee on Tuesday in order to have a final vote and send it to the floor of the House.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities dives deeper in Sen. Hatch (R-UT) amendment to require immigrants to prove they had paid all their taxes since they entered the country before allowing them to legalize. The Center argues that the IRS is not well equipped to take on this kind of challenge, and that diiverting IRS resources away from…high-return audits to try to reconstruct earnings records from modest-earning immigrants almost surely would result in a net loss of revenues to the Treasury, not the gain that Senator Hatch suggests."
Former Florida Governor and potential Republican 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush addressed the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual gathering and had some interesting things to say about why he supports the Senate immigration reform bill. "Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years," and "immigrants are more fertile, and they love families."
Former member of the House "Gang of Eight" Raul Labrador went on Fox News this week to discuss his departure from the group. He states: "we need to make sure that people who are the newly legalized immigrants don't receive public benefits."
June 13, 2013
On 06/13/13 the Senate voted to table Sen. Grassley’s amendment 1195 which would prohibit the granting of RPI status until the Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months. The amendment was successfully tabled (essentially killed) on a 57-43 vote. At the end of that vote Sen. Reid announced that because the minority party had objected to the amendment agreement there would be no more votes for the rest of the week, and that they would reconvene on Monday. He also indicated that Senators should be prepared to work through next weekend (June 22 and 23) in order to pass the bill before the end of the month.
Read Rolls Call’s explanation of Senate procedure and what’s holding up votes on the bill.
Pramila Jayapal, co-chairwoman of We Belong Together: Women for Common-Sense Immigration Reform, wrote an Op-ed for Politico on “Why women have most at stake in immigration reform.” She writes: “Immigration is rarely talked about as a women’s issue, but women and children make up three-quarters of all immigrants to the United States and 51 percent of undocumented immigrants are women. Previous reform proposals did not pay attention to the specific ways in which women were disproportionately burdened and would have continued to exclude millions of women.”
Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at a forum hosted by the conservative American Principles Project and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership conference. He indicated that he may be able to support S.744, but only if significant changes are made.
The House Republicans have set a July 10th meeting to discuss their way forward on immigration.
June 12, 2013
Although, most anticipated at least a few votes on amendments to S.744 today on the Senate floor-the majority and minority parties were unable to come to an agreement on the process to proceed (the number of votes required to pass an amendment), and so no votes actually took place. That means the most of the day consisted of Senators taking the floor to make opening statements and statements in support of various amendments. The Senate is expected to begin voting on amendments tomorrow, but exactly which ones is still unclear. As of 6:30pm today 74 amendments have been officially filed on S.744. (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.)
One of the most exciting moments came when Senator Cornyn (R-TX) took the floor to formally introduce his 134 page RESULTS border security/trigger amendment. Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Schumer (D-NY), both of the "Gang of Eight" came to the floor to forcefully push back against Sen. Cornyn's allegations that his amendment would effectively secure the border and would not indefinitely delay legalization of the 11 million.
Senator Kirk (R-IL) surprised more than a few people yesterday when he voted no both on the cloture vote and on the motion to proceed. Today he released a statement, but it did little to explain his vote. He did indicate that he might be able to vote for the bipartisan immigration reform bill, but only "if the Cornyn amendment or something very close to it is adopted by the Senate..."
Yesterday, United We Dream organized a long awaited reunion for three DREAMers currently living in the United States, and their mothers, currently living in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico respectively. United We Dream has the emotional video as the three families reunited and demonstrated the need for immigration reform now.
The Campaign for an Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration Overhaul (CAMBIO) created this infographic explaining the unprecedented amount of funding the United States spends on border security.
Immigration Policy Center highlights this report from last year on the complexities of collecting biometric data for people entering and exiting the United States.
The Center for America Progress outlines "The Top 5 Reasons Why Immigration Reform in 2013 Is Different Than in 1986."
June 11, 2013
Today, the U.S. Senate begin debating S.744 after successfully voting, 84-15, on the motion to proceed. One of the first amendments filed was Sen. Grassley's (R-IA) Amendment 1195, which delays access to the path to citizenship by not allowing Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI's) to register until the Secretary of DHS certifies to Congress that she has maintained "effective control" over the entire southern border for six months. The Senate will continue debate on S.744 tomorrow, follow along with live updates on www.aila.org/senatebill. Watch AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen explain what's happening in this Quicktake video.
SEIU has launched a seven-figure national advertising buy that will run the various commercials in rotation on national cable networks. The five different television ads feature veterans, small business owners, DREAMers, law enforcement officials and Republican voters who explain why they support commonsense immigration reform.
Sen. Rubio (R-FL) filed an amendment today (1225) requiring RPI who are 16 years of age or older to read, write and speak the English language. He said: "On the day we announced the principles that would shape the immigration bill, we made it clear that English proficiency would now be required for permanent residency for the first time in American history."
Today Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk voted no on the motion to invoke cloture and on the motion to proceed in the full Senate. He joined only 14 other Republicans in voting against allowing the Senate to begin debate on S. 744. This comes on the same day the Chicago Tribune ran an Editorial calling on the Senator to demonstrate leadership in supporting the bill. "If Kirk isn't ready to support the bill, he should be actively working to make it better, not waiting to see if he likes the finished product. He's come out in favor of citizenship for immigrants who are combat veterans. That's not going to move the ball." This is in addition to a letter business leaders sent the Senator urging his support for the bill: "We don't know when Sen. Kirk is going to take a position. We need Sen. Kirk to put his shoulder behind this here as quickly as possible," said former Exelon CEO John Rowe. "He's an old friend, I wish him well. I just hope he will put himself into it promptly."
Today, President Obama, surrounded by business leaders, labor leaders, clergy, DREAMers and other immigration reform advocates, spoke at length about the need for immigration reform. He ended with: "You need to call and email and tweet your senators and tell them, don't kick this problem down the road. Come together. Work together. Do your job not only to fix a broken immigration system once and for all, but to leave something better for all the generations to come, to make sure we continue to be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Do the right thing." (AILA Doc. No. 13061148.)
June 10, 2013
In the biggest news coming out of the weekend, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire publically announced her support of the bipartisan immigration reform bill, S. 744. On CBS' Face the Nation she told Bob Schieffer "this is a thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem, so that's why I'm going to support it." She also later announced her support on her Twitter account.
Sen. Cornyn's (R-TX) RESULTS border amendment has been garnering a lot of attention lately, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls it a "poison pill" amendment and he's not the only one. Republican "Gang of Eight" member Lindsey Graham (SC) said: "The problem you'll have if you try to enhance border security in an unachievable way and tie it to the path to citizenship, I think the deal falls apart."
Read AILA's Take on Cornyn RESULTS Amendment to S.744. (AILA Doc. No. 13061047.)
The Karl Rove backed advocacy organization, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) "announced today the launch of nearly $100,000 in advertising in Capitol Hill publications, the Wall Street Journal, and targeted online advertising to promote key changes to, and eventual passage of, immigration reform legislation in Congress." See the ad on the Crossroads website.
The Bipartisan Policy Center has released a briefer on the similarities and differences between S.744 and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Senator Sessions has been making a vocal case against the bipartisan immigration reform bill, most recently in an Op-ed in the LA Times. He doesn't hold back, stating: "The so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan now being considered by the Senate fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. This comes at the same time that Senator Lee (R-UT) is making his own case against the bill in Salt Lake City's Deseret News, "And why today, I must oppose the so-called "Gang" of Eight" immigration bill soon to be taken up by the Senate."
June 7, 2013
Details of Senator John Cornyn's (R-TX) border amendment to S. 744 are being released piece-by-piece. The Washington Post provides some details and the Senator's website includes this summary. In addition, Sen. Cornyn penned this Op-Ed for The Dallas Morning News explaining his problem with the bill as it currently stands: "Unfortunately, the bill falls short of fixing our immigration system and protecting the interests of Texas. The biggest problem with the legislation is its failure to improve public safety and guarantee results on border security and national security."
Karl Rove is jumping into the immigration debate making the case that "Republicans must consider the impressions they will create by what they say, the changes they propose and their votes on the final product." He concludes that "immigration reform is now a gateway issue: Many Hispanics won't be open to Republicans until it is resolved, which could take the rest of the year. But there is little doubt next week's Senate deliberations will shape for some time to come the Hispanic community's perceptions of the GOP."
The Immigration Policy Center released a special report today: "A Guide to S.744: Understanding the 2013 Senate Immigration Bill."
Watch as AILA Director of Advocacy Greg Chen discusses what's happening now with immigration reform in both Houses in AILA's Quicktake #24. Also, read AILA President Laura Lichter's AILA Leadership Blog, "The Senate Floor Dance is Set to Begin."
Yesterday, to the dismay of many, the House of Representatives voted 224-201 to approve an amendment that defunds the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program offered by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to the House appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. When it was announced that the amendment had passed, those in the galley reacted with a loud series of boos.
The Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) has organized a march and rally for July 15, 2013 to "call upon Congress to: recognize the devastating effects illegal immigration and amnesty have on low-skilled workers, particularly those in minority communities; enforce current immigration laws, and; fulfill their duties to the millions of Americans struggling to find work by opposing amnesty and supporting policies to reduce overall levels of legal and illegal immigration, and to protect American jobs from irresponsible immigration legislation."
Five current and formers leaders of the New Hampshire Republican Party penned an Op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader yesterday declaring their support for the "Gang of Eight" bill and making the case for why all Republicans should support it. Similarly, in a report titled, "Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation," the College Republican National Committee makes the case for the Republican Party "to be clear about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants, and to also differentiate illegal immigrants from the children of illegal immigrants and how they would be affected by policies."
June 6, 2013
In the biggest news coming out of Congress last night, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced that he was leaving the House "Gang of Eight," just as the new "Gang of Seven" announced they had reached agreement on a bill and would now begin working on legislative language.
In the second biggest news item coming out of Congress (if not entirely predictable), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), filed cloture on the motion to proceed on S.744, the immigration reform bill. This sets up Monday, June 10th as the day the Senate could vote to proceed and then begin debate on the bill. confused about what all this means for the Senate process-check out AILA's one page factsheet on "What to Expect When S.744 Hits the Senate Floor." (AILA Doc. No. 13060646.) The anti-immigration reform group, FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) posted this action alert to their site in anticipation of the vote on the motion to proceed.
Share AILA's new Call your Senator Graphic on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, website, or anywhere else you can think of, as a way to shore up support for S.744 as we head into debate next week. (AILA Doc. No. 13060550.)
Wondering what impact the changes the amendments passed in committee to Senate bill 744 really have on the bill? Check out AILA's Take on a number of issues in the bill: crimes and national security, business, border, discretion, court reforms/counsel, legalization and family immigration. (AILA Doc. Nos. 13060549, 13060553, 13060554, 13060556, 13060656, 13060657 and 13060555.)
NBC News reports on Twitter: "Sen. Lindsey Graham on immigration: 'If this thing falls apart and we get blamed because we're not practical...we're toast in 2016.'"
Sen. Rubio continues to be in the middle of the undecided storm and no one seems to know where he's going to eventually land. On Tuesday The Senator went on Fox and Friends and was sharply rebuked by fellow guest Laura Ingraham on his support for the bill. Later that day he went on conservative Hugh Hewitt's radio show and reaffirmed that the bill will need to be amended before he'll be able to vote for it on the Senate floor.
America's Voice and Latino Decisions released a new poll today of 500 Latino registered voters nationwide. The poll found that Latino voters uniformly reject the notion of a 'border-security-first' approach with 81% saying a path to citizenship and border security should happen simultaneously.
The Third Way released a new infographic today outlining the five ways the green cards included in the senate bill translate into economic growth for the United States. The Migration Policy Institute released their own briefhttp://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/CIRbrief-2013SenateBill-Side-by-Side.pdf examining "how the Senate bill would reshape the legal immigration system, through its admission policies, creation of a new merit-based visa stream and relationship with temporary visa programs. The brief also examines the balance between family- and employment-based immigration and the creation and dissolution of visa program, as well as offers some estimates of future flows."
The National Immigrant Justice Center is running an ad in support of immigration reform in Times Square in New York City.
June 5, 2013
When Senator Frank Lautenberg's (D-NJ) passed away earlier this week all eyes turned to Governor Chris Christie to learn his plans to fill the veteran Democratic senator's now empty seat. Today, Gov. Christie announced that he would appoint a temporary replacement (no news on when) until a special election in October of this year to fill the seat permanently until the 2014 elections. Some were surprised by the move as it places the special election only a month before the regularly scheduled Gubernatorial election in New Jersey. What does this mean for immigration reform? Well, in order for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to ultimately invoke cloture and end debate on S.744, he needs 60 yes votes (even if there are only 99 sitting Senators), so this just made his job one Senator harder.
In other Senate floor news, Republicans are clamoring for an open amendment process (much like the process that happened in Judiciary Committee with over 200 amendments considered), and it looks like they're going to get it. Many moderate Senators have been keeping their cards close to their vest on S.744, what they have been quite open with though is the need for additional amendments to secure their votes for the final bill.
We know that Senator Hatch attached an asterisk to his affirmative vote in getting the bill out of committee-additional amendments on the floor. Now we know are least what four of those amendments will cover: "According to his office, Hatch's four offerings would: ensure compliance with federal welfare and public benefits law, modify provisions relating to the payment of back taxes to include all income and employment taxes owed, apply a five-year waiting period for certain eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the health care law, and preclude crediting of benefits such as Social Security or disability payments for periods of unauthorized employment."
On the other side of the debate, Senators Cruz (R-TX), Sessions (R-AL), Lee (R-UT) and Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter yesterday to their fellow Senate colleagues encouraging the defeat of S.744 citing the rejection of many amendments in committee they feel would have strengthened the border security provisions of the bill among others.
Human Impact Partners released a new report today, Family Unity, Family Health: How Family-Focused Immigration Reform Will Mean Better Health for Children and Families, that focuses on the public health consequences of current immigration policy on children and families.
First Focus Campaign for Children ran this ad today in support of an amendment that would give the youngest children access to the same five-year road to citizenship as older DREAMers, rather than the 13 years currently in the bill.
June 4, 2013
In his opening remarks on the Senate floor today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made it clear that immigration reform would be coming to the Senate floor next week: "Even if we we've not completed action on the farm bill or the student loans proposals, we're going to bring immigration to the floor next week. Immigration is broken, it needs to be fixed."
America's Voice has a new blog outlining the sometimes complicated process by which the full Senate will take up, amend and potentially vote on S.744. For more detailed information on the Senate legislative process see the Congressional Research Service report.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, joined Chuck Todd on MSNBC this morning and had this to say about the House's chances of passing immigration reform this summer: "Well, we are working very hard in the House on immigration reform. We believe we have a broken system. We are taking a step-by-step approach. We have now produced four bills in the House, we're going to introduce another one this week dealing with interior enforcement which we believe is a major flaw in the senate bill. So we will continue down that path. we are being very deliberative, but we are not viewing this as going too fast or too slow. we're viewing it as getting it right, now making the mistakes the last time we did reform. I believe we can do that [pass a bill before August recess] and we're working hard to accomplish that, but again it's more important to get it right than to might any particular deadline."
June 3, 2013
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), wrote this Op-Ed as a special to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, expressing his support for immigration reform. Although the Senator from Nevada never mention the road to citizenship he seems to be staking his side in the debate: "Our nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, and the immigration reform proposal championed by the "Gang of Eight" just may be our answer. When it comes to fixing our immigration system, I believe that most Nevadans actually agree on about 80 percent of the policy. It's that other 20 percent where we disagree that tends to become the focus. I've been encouraged to see this particular piece of legislation continue to move through the regular legislative process and hope it continues."
When S. 744 reaches the end of the amendment process on the Senate floor it will almost certainly need 60 yes votes on a cloture motion to defeat a filibuster of the bill. ABC News looks at the six Senate Republicans most likely to vote for immigration reform (and in their eyes join the 54 Democrats and Independents voting for the bill).
Sen. Rubio (R-FL) seems to be backing away from his own bill as every day brings us closer to a Senate floor debate on S. 744. But his home state newspaper, the Miami Herald, ran this Editorial today emphasizing the importance of reform. "Sen. Marco Rubio, whose role so far has been crucial, believes stronger border enforcement is the key to victory. He's right; public support hinges on confidence in secure borders. But a promised floor fight over defining success in border security should not derail a promising bill, which already contains up to $6.5 billion in new money for technology and fencing."
May 31, 2013
Health Affairs, a leading journal of health policy thought and research that explores health policy issues of current concern in domestic and international spheres, released a groundbreaking report that "suggests that immigrants may be disproportionately subsidizing the Medicare Trust Fund, which supports payments to hospitals and institutions under Medicare Part A." The report explains: "In 2009 immigrants made 14.7 percent of Trust Fund contributions but accounted for only 7.9 percent of its expenditures-a net surplus of $13.8 billion. In contrast, US-born people generated a $30.9 billion deficit. Immigrants generated surpluses of $11.1-$17.2 billion per year between 2002 and 2009, resulting in a cumulative surplus of $115.2 billion. Most of the surplus from immigrants was contributed by noncitizens and was a result of the high proportion of working-age taxpayers in this group. Policies that restrict immigration may deplete Medicare's financial resources."
The Center for Immigration Studies issued a new report yesterday attempting to make the electoral case for opposing immigration reform. Steven Camarota, the Center's Director of Research and author of the report explains that "as Republicans think about how they can expand their voter base, the new data suggest that one of their biggest problems in the last presidential election was that so many less-educated whites sat home. These voters, who have been hard hit by the recession, have traditionally supported Republicans. It seems likely that by supporting the Schumer-Rubio amnesty, GOP legislators would further alienate these voters."
Mark Zuckerburg is coming under attack from the Left for controversial ads his political group FWD.us has released over the last few weeks. The most recent, a radio ad, is airing during Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity's radio programs. The ad features two voices who claims that "our immigration system is a joke, and the whole world knows it," that the "border is unsecure, our laws are unenforced. We don't know who's here, what they're doing or even why," and that "what we have now is a national security nightmare waiting to happen."
May 30, 2013
The Hill reports that the Senate "Gang of Eight" "plans to meet daily when their bill hits the floor in June and will encourage giving colleagues free rein to offer amendments, according to a person familiar with their discussions." Although the four members of the "Gang of Eight" on the Judiciary Committee mainly stuck together to defeat many amendments that would have altered core provisions of the bill, the willingness of the four members of the group not on the committee to stick together is still uncertain. Senator Rubio (R-FL) has seemingly made it a point to distance himself from the "Gang of Eight," especially those on the Judiciary Committee.
The Evangelical Immigration Table announced today a new quarter-million-dollar communication effort in support of immigration reform, including radio ads and billboards. The national ads on Christian and talk radio stations feature Dr. Russell Moore, President-elect of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church. In addition, ads featuring local pastors are airing on stations in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Pray for Reform billboards will appear in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Pray for Reform billboards will appear in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
May 29, 2013
The Immigration Policy Center released a new report today that "looks at immigration law, which on its face appears gender neutral, but actually contains gender biases that create barriers for many women trying to gain legalization within the current immigration system. These inequalities appear across immigration law, and even as new laws are put into place, stereotypes and assumptions remain unchallenged. Ironically, even laws written specifically to protect women, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), continue to play out in practice along gender-biased lines."
May 28, 2013
At the end of Asian-American Heritage month the Center for American Progress released a report today detailing "Why Immigration Is an Asian American Issue." The report highlights how "Asian Americans are the fastest-growing immigrant population in the United States today. According to 2011 Census data, almost half of all immigrants in the United States-18.2 million-came from Asia."
NumberUSA has released a new adclaiming that the immigration reform bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee "would offer a minimum of 33 million lifetime work permits in the first decade alone…[when] federal reports show that 20 million Americans want a full-time job but cannot find one because too many people are looking for too few jobs." The spot seems to be running in the Pittsburg area, Ohio and Kentucky so far.
The characteristics of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, "including income levels, workforce participation rates, English language proficiency, and health care coverage," will play an important role in any ongoing debate of a immigration reform bill that offers a road to legalization and/or citizenship. The Migration Policy Institute released a report this month profiling the population using the most recent data available.
May 24, 2013
Today, Sean Hannity spent the entire hour of his Fox News show discussing the immigration reform bill in the Senate. Sen. Rubio (R-FL) joined Hannity for the entire hour along with a panel of experts. While on the show Sen. Rubio had this to say about the current bill's border security provisions: "what people are saying is, we don't trust the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a good border plan, we don't trust the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a good fencing plan, and so maybe the alternative is to have the Congress do that. The point is that needs to happen. That is the lynchpin of whether this will work or not."
May 23, 2013
In a press conference today House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had this to say on the prospects for immigration reform on the House: "We're not going to be stampeded by the White House or stampeded by the president. The Senate is working its will, a lot of good work that's going on over there, but the House will work its will. Don't ask me how, because if I knew I'd certainly tell you, but the House is going to work its will."
This follows a joint press statement from Speaker Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA): "The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes. Rather, through regular order, the House will work its will and produce its own legislation."
During yesterday's House Judiciary Committee hearing on "S.744 and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: Lessons Learned or Mistakes Repeated," Steve King sent this tweet: #Immigration: Illegal aliens in House Judiciary Committee room during hearing today. How can we secure border if we can't secure our room? (AILA Doc. No. 13052250.)
May 22, 2013
AILA issued a press release commending the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing S.744 and calling on the full Senate to Show similar commitment to immigration reform. (AILA Doc. No. 13052260.) AILA president Laura Lichter said: "We applaud wholeheartedly the efforts of the four "Gang of Eight" members on the committee who helped ensure the core principles of the reform bill were essentially maintained." Watch AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams discuss this momentous occasion and what remains in store for the bipartisan Senate bill.
Now that S.744 is out of the Judiciary Committee it will head to the floor of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that the bill will come to the floor the week of June 10th, after the Senate debates the farm bill.
Yesterday, President Obama and Vice President Biden met with young immigrants who received deferred action and with the siblings and spouses of undocumented immigrants. From a read-out of the meeting: "the President underscored that their stories are a good reminder that immigration isn't just a policy issue, but it's about our families, our communities and it's about our common future. The President and the Vice President thanked participants for their leadership, courage and on-going efforts to move immigration reform legislation forward." (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13052154.)
May 21, 2013
Today marked the fifth and final day of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on S. 744. By the end of the evening (after pizza had been ordered for Senators on the committee), the Committee successfully voted the final bill as amended to the floor of the Senate on a 13-5 vote. The ten Democrats on the committee were joined by the two Republicans from the "Gang of Eight" (Senators Graham (SC) and Flake (AZ), and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (UT). The legislation survived the entire markup process with most of its major provisions in place as the four Senators representing the "Gang of Eight" on the committee stuck to their commitment to resist any changes to the core provisions of the bill.
Today, the committee considered 31 amendments, 16 of which passed (the majority on voice votes). Many of the most controversial amendments were debated today (none of which passed) including: denying citizenship to anyone who had ever been in the country illegally (Cruz 3), providing immigration benefits to same sex couples (Leahy 5), making siblings and adult sons/daughters over the age of 31 eligible in the family category (Hirono 10), and making RPI recipients ineligible for tax benefits such as the EITC and CTC (Sessions 30).
Now that the Senate bipartisan immigration bill is heading to the floor of the Senate, the Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will bring the bill to the floor in early June to have the debate and a vote on the final bill. Most importantly, The Hill reports that "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday said he would not try to block immigration reform from reaching the floor despite the opposition of some conservative leaders."
America's Voice has pulled together a list of their best and worst amendments that made it into the final bill as voted out of committee today.
150 conservative groups have sent a letter to members of the Senate expressing their opposition to the bipartisan immigration reform bill. "We write to express our serious concerns regarding the Gang of Eight's immigration bill, S. 744. We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor...No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch." The groups include Laura Inraham, Mark Krikorian and many others.
May 20, 2013
Today marked Day 4 of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on S. 744. (AILA Doc. No. 13052042.) The committee finished debating Title III of the bill pertaining to interior enforcement and moved to Title II, legalization and the immigration system. In total the committee passed 30 amendments, out of a total 50 amendments considered (although some of those were withdrawn with no actual votes). This was by the far the most contentious day of markup to date with five amendments offered by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), two by Sen. Sessions (R-AL) and one by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) failing on strictly party line votes (8-10). Four amendments were defeated when the two Republican members of the "Gang of Eight" joined the ten Democrats on the committee in voting no--three dealt with limiting eligibility for RPI status and one with the one year asylum filing deadline. All that being said, 25 amendments, offered by both sides of the aisle, passed on voice votes.
The committee spent part of the day debating protections for asylees and refugees, including passing an amendment requiring background checks on all seekers and an amendment providing work authorization within 180 days of filing. Sen. Grassley ultimately withdrew his amendment to strike the provision eliminating the one year filing deadline for asylum seekers after Sen Feinstein (D-CA) indicated willingness to further negotiate the issue.
S.744 already includes many tough provisions on crimes, inadmissibiity, deportability and RPI exclusion grounds (see an AILA roundup of all such provisions). And today, the committee struck down many amendments to increase these already tough provisions, albeit on very close votes. However Grassley #44, making a 3rd drunk driving conviction an aggravated felony, passed on a 17-1 vote. In addition, Graham #3, which requires additional security screening for certain immigrants who live in regions that may pose a terrorist threat to the United States, passed on a voice vote. (AILA Doc. No. 13052042.)
In other amendment news Hirono #21, making DREAMers eligible for federal financial aid and Hirono #12, allowing RPI applicants to pay in installments, both passed on voice votes.
AILA has compiled a chart listing all the amendments offered during the 4th day of mark-up. (AILA Doc. No. 13052042.)
Also, here are AILA Positions on Selected Title II Amendments. (AILA Doc. No. 13051447.)
Ben Johnson, President of the American Immigration Council, participated in an AILA Quicktake and explained what's going to happen as the final week of markup kick offs in the Judiciary Committee. (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13052057.)
AILA member Margaret Stock wrote an Op-ed for The Hill's Congress Blog, raising the red flag on the impact on military families of an amendment by Senator Sessions (R-AL) that mandates the imprisonment for 60 to 90 days of people who overstay their permission to be in the United States. "Military family members often enter the United States and overstay their permission to be here in order to adjust status, frequently because well-meaning but ill-informed government lawyers and personnel officials tell them to do so."
Senate Democrats, especially those on the "Gang of Eight," are spending time "wooing two conservative Republican senators they consider crucial to expanding support for immigration reform beyond the Gang of Eight and maximizing pressure on the House." As the Committee enters day five of markup tomorrow, what Cornyn and Hatch amendments are offered and accepted will paint a picture of the Senator floor fight to come.
The USCIS Union President released a statement urging lawmakers to oppose the bipartisan senate immigration bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13052055)
May 17, 2013
As the Senate continues to plug away, the House simply refuses to get left behind. Although reports earlier this week seemed to signal that the House bipartisan Gang of Eight was on the verge of collapse, The Hill reports today that the eight Representatives have reached an agreement. The eight members, Democrats Luis Gutierrez (IL), Zoe Lofgren (CA), John Yarmuth (KY) and Xavier Becerra (CA) and Republicans Raul Labrador (ID), John Carter (TX), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) and Sam Johnson (TX), emerged from a late meeting last night and reported that they had reached an "agreement in principle."
Although the specifics of the deal haven't been made public, the bill will certainly be more conservative that the Senate bill currently being debated, including some reports of a 15 year road to citizenship.
In advance of Monday's Judiciary Committee markup, AILA has compiled our recommendations on a number of select amendments in Title II and Title III. (AILA Doc. No. 13051447, AILA Doc. No. 13051551.) The Washington Post has compiled a summary of all 48 amendments passed so far and a description of their impact.
The Center for American Progress has issued a brief calculating the economic benefits of legalization for the 24 states where 88% of the undocumented immigrant population resides. For example, they note that in "Arizona the 10-year cumulative increase in GSP will be $23.1 billion, the increase in the earnings of state residents will be $15.3 billion, and immigration reform will create an average of an additional 3,400 jobs annually."
May 16, 2013
Today marked Day 3 of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on S. 744. (AILA Doc. No. 13051641.) Although Sen. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the committee, had made a lot of threats earlier this week of extending markup days to tomorrow and Saturday, in reality the committee finished their work on Title IV and the E-Verify section of Title III in record time. This mean that the committee won't be reconvening until Monday, May 20th, at 10:00am to continue with the other sections of Title III (and then moving on to Title II, legalization and the legal immigration system, before the end of next week). The only exception will be a return to Title IV to vote on a potential deal between Sen. Hatch (R-UT) and members of the "Gang of Eight" on several of his amendments to the H-1B program.
In today's markup the committee passed 11 of the 15 amendments debated. Over half of the amendments on the E-Verify provisions were offered by Senator Grassley (R-IA), including delaying the preemption of State and local laws until E-Verify is nationally mandated, requiring an 18 month implementation deadline for businesses to implement E-Verify nationally, and protecting children from identity theft. However, one of the most contentious Grassley amendments came on the second to last vote of the day. Amendment Grassley 34, which would make document fraud (knowingly transferring, possessing, or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification that is not their own) a crime punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment if such offense is committed to facilitate or assist in harboring or hiring unauthorized workers, turned out to be the only party line vote of the day, failing 8-10. (AILA Doc. No. 13051641.)
AILA has compiled a chart listing all the amendments offered during the 3rd day of mark-up, the statement of purpose and the result of the vote in committee. (AILA Doc. No. 13051641.) Also, check out this AILA Immigration Quicktake featuring AILA President-Elect Doug Stump discussing today's events.
Sen. Rubio (R-FL) a member of the "Gang of Eight" that crafted the Senate immigration reform bill might not get a vote as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that's currently debating the bill, but he has been making his opinions heard loud and clear in other ways. Now he's getting some pushback, never more apparent than in his outspoken support for Sessions amendment #4, debated in committee last Tuesday. The amendment would require the use of a biometric entry and exit data system at ports of entry before the Secretary of Homeland Security may adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status. (AILA Doc. No. 13051446.) The amendment was defeated on a 6-12 vote with the two Republican "Gang of Eight" members of the Committee joining all ten Democrats to defeat it as it went to a core provision of the bill. Politico reports that "two 'Gang of Eight' sources characterized Rubio's support for the Sessions amendment as a 'mistake.'"
Two House Republicans, John Carter (TX) and Raul Labrador (ID) from the beleaguered House "Gang of Eight" have officially announced that "the time for negotiations is over. 'Tomorrow night, as far as I'm concerned, is the last night I'm gonna meet,' Carter said. Labrador, a key conservative in the group, agreed. 'I think it's time for us to move ahead with a Republican plan if nothing happens tomorrow," Labrador said. He characterized such a plan as "conservative immigration reform.'"
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) penned an Op-ed for Roll Call on "The Importance of Family Immigration." He states: "I am concerned, however, that eliminating the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their brothers, sisters and married adult children for legal permanent residence will be disproportionately detrimental to AAPI families."
May 15, 2013
Last night BuzzFeed hosted an Immigration Summit featuring Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Luis G. Fortuno, former Republican governor of Puerto Rico, Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund and Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst and the Cato Insitute, among others.
The House, not wanting to be left behind, has scheduled hearing for the two individual pieces of legislation (H.R. 1772 and H.R. 1773) for tomorrow. (AILA Doc. No. 13050809, AILA Doc. No. 13042953.) This comes as Politico reports that the secret House Gang of Eight comprehensive, compromise bill, may never come into fruition. Some of the most ardent anti-immigration reform members of the House had a press conference yesterday to drive this point home. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was joined by Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL), John Fleming (R-LA), Louis Gohmert (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Steve Stockman (R-TX) in expressing their deep seated opposition to the Senate bipartisan bill.
Senator Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released his recap of the 2nd day of markup on S. 744.
May 14, 2013
The second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up focused mainly on high-skilled immigration. 15 amendments were passed with majority support, out of the 25 total votes taken. (AILA Doc. No. 13051446.) All but one of the amendments that passed did so with broad bipartisan support on voice votes. AILA has compiled a chart listing all the amendments offered during the 2nd day of mark-up, the statement of purpose and the result of the vote in committee. (AILA Doc. No. 13051446.)
The "Gang of Eight" continued to stay committed to the core provisions of the bill, with the two Republican Committee members of the "Gang of Eight" (Senators Flake (AZ) and Graham (SC)) joining all ten Democrats to vote no on two amendments offered by Senator Sessions that tie certain provisions of the bill to the successful implementation of a biometric entry/exit system (#4 and #6). (AILA Doc. No. 13051446.) Not everyone is happy about the "Gang of Eight's" decision to "band together and defeat changes that could prove fatal to the overall bill."
Negotiations are still currently ongoing between Senator Hatch and the Gang of Eight to include some of his amendments (#10-17) in the final version of the bill. In other amendment news: three of Senator Grassley's eight offered amendments were passed (all with voice votes). These will: require additional information in internet job postings for nonimmigrant employees in connection with the issuance of H-1B visas (#58), strengthen provisions regarding student and exchange visitor visa programs (#69), and require the Secretary to implement the transmission of data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to databases used by CBP (#77). Two amendments offered by Senator Schumer (#3 and #4) to allocate small numbers of visas to underrepresented countries passed as well as an amendment by Senator Klobuchar (#1) to provide protections for abused derivatives of temporary workers also passed.
Senator Lindsey Graham took to Twitter yesterday to comment on the inclusion of same-sex families in the immigration reform bill: "If the Judiciary Committee tries to redefine marriage in the immigration bill they will lose me and many others."
The Wall Street Journal has an infographic that looks at the foreign born population state-by-state and compares it to Senators' support for immigration reform. The Journal also tackles the complexity of the back tax issue for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who might be eligible to apply for legal status under this bill. "The Senate immigration bill essentially hands responsibility for the issue to the Internal Revenue Service, but it doesn't provide the agency specific instructions on how to collect taxes from people who have been working with false Social Security numbers or in the black-market economy. Nor does it say that the IRS, already struggling with its increased mandate stemming from the 2010 Affordable Care Act, will get any more resources to deal with millions of new taxpayers."
At first glance Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) don't have much in common, but as The Daily Beast points out, it's actually more than you'd think. Both are Puerto Ricans who are committed to seeing immigration reform happen this year (and are a part of the secretive House Gang of Eight) and they have nothing but compliments for each other.
Last week the Congressional Budget Office released an updated version of their June 2011 report, "A Description of the Immigrant Population: An Update," with 15 update exhibits included. These include information on the foreign born population in the U.S. from 1860 to 2010, the foreign born population broken down by state in 2012, the education attainment of people ages 25-64 by birthplace, and the unemployment rate from 1994 to 2012 by birthplace.
May 13, 2013
Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin day two of markup on S. 744, the bipartisan immigration reform bill. The committee will be focusing on Title IV of the bill, "Reforms to Nonimmigrant Visa Programs," with a heavy focus on the H-1B program and the W temporary worker program. AILA will be providing hourly live updates from the debate so stay tuned to our S.744 Senate bill page. (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.)
The Immigration Policy Center released two new factsheets making the case for high skilled immigration in the Senate reform bill. Fueling the Recovery makes the case that high-skilled immigrant workers create new jobs, supplement rather than displace native-born workers and improve the wages of native-born workers. Rebuilding Local Economies makes the case that metropolitan area demand for high-skilled workers is high and that it leads to job creation and higher wages in those areas.
The Houston Chronicle had some scathing words for the two Senators from Texas on the Judiciary Committee in an Editorial released last Friday titled: "Seek immigration reform solutions, not excuses." "Many of these amendment IEDs are being offered by such ardent opponents of the legislation as the Lone Star State's Senate duo, tea-party true-believer Ted Cruz and his senior colleague John Cornyn, a tea-party target in 2014 if he doesn't toe the line. Despite protestations to the contrary, Cruz, Cornyn and other hard-liners would be happy to hobble immigration reform. That's why they have latched on to the border-security issue as a way to kill it."
Senator Dianne Feinstein was on NBC's Meet the Press this weekend breaking down the border security votes that happened in the Judiciary Committee markup. She also spoke of the opportunity that exists now to get immigration reform done: "If we fail this time, I think we're not going to have another chance in the next decade. I am very hopeful. The people in the Gang of Eight have held together, they understand the break points, their supporting one another, if that continues on the floor…I think we have a very good chance of success."
As the Senate pushes forward with their immigration reform bill, people are starting to wonder what the House of Representatives is up to on immigration. For the last few years a bipartisan group of House members have been working on a bill, but the public has yet to see any concrete language. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security of the House Judiciary committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, May 16th, on the two individual bills introduced, "The Legal Workforce Act" (mandatory E-Verify) and "The Agriculture Guestworker Act," but have not indicated who the witnesses will be. (AILA Doc. No. 13050809, AILA Doc. No. 13042953.) The New York Times is reporting that the House bipartisan group is struggling with the same business labor employment dispute the Senate struggled with, but with no compromise in sight.
May 10, 2013
Yesterday, Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges and an Immigration Judge in San Francisco since 1987, wrote an Op-ed for The Hill: Let Immigration Judges be Judges. In her piece she argues that "enhancing the courts' resources and allowing immigration judges to consider the individual circumstances unique to each case would create a fine-tuned tool, and a more accurate way to serve the public and private interests instead of the blunt instrument that now exists. Enhanced due process and a more efficient removal process are solutions that would satisfy all sides of the immigration debate.
AILA has compiled a full list of all of the amendments considered yesterday. (AILA Doc. No. 13050961.)
Brookings released a new report today, "H-1B Visa and the STEM Shortage," making the case that "there is compelling evidence that the H-1B visa program is helping to alleviate acute shortages in various occupations."
The Heritage Foundation is in full crisis mode after it was discovered that one of the authors of their controversial study outlining how immigration reform would cost the U.S. trillions of dollars had argued in his Harvard dissertation that there was a long-standing difference between the IQ of white Americans and immigrants. Today, The Heritage Foundation announced the resignation of that author, senior policy analyst Jason Richwine.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, expressed his support for immigration reform in a blog for the Huffington Post. "As Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. African Americans have spent much of our history fighting for fair treatment and equal opportunity. We must also offer support to our immigrant brothers and sisters. If we want to escape the sins of our past, we must ensure there are no second class families today."
May 9, 2013
Today's mark-up in the Senate Judiciary Committee demonstrated that the four Senators from the "Gang of Eight" on the committee (Senators Graham (R-SC), Flake (R-AZ), Schumer (D-NY) and Durbin (D-IL)) are committed to continuing the spirit of bipartisan compromise that produced the original bill. Many of the most extreme border security amendments, including ones that would double or triple spending on border security, tie legalization to unrealistic and arbitrary border security goals, and eliminate protections for civil rights, were defeated on bipartisan votes. In total 32 amendments were offered, and 21 were accepted (20 with bipartisan support). AILA has a full summary of today's mark-up, including the amendments considered and arguments for and against from Senators on the committee. (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13050961.)
At the end of the day Senator Leahy (D-VT) announced that Title I (border security) is now closed. Many believe that next Tuesday's mark-up will focus on the large Title II section that includes the legalization program and the legal immigration system.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Majority Staff issued a "Day One Recap: Bipartisan Progress on Immigration Reform Bill," summarizing the events of the day. "Among the amendments accepted included those offered by Republican Senators to strengthen border security, including an amendment by Senator Grassley to require the government to apply its comprehensive border strategy to the entire Southern border, not just high-risk areas. The Committee accepted amendments by Senators Flake and Grassley to increase oversight of DHS enforcement strategies, and amendments by Senators Sessions and Cornyn to protect border communities. The Committee adopted amendments to improve treatment of children and families in detention, and protect families affected by violence at the border. The Committee rejected amendments to triple the number of officers on the Southern Border to 60,000, and to spend billions of additional dollars building a "double fence" on top of the billions of dollars already authorized in this bill.
ABC/Univision News provides some analysis of why the Democrat controlled Judiciary committee allowed Senator Grassley's amendment to require the federal government to develop a plan to secure the entire border, instead of focusing only on three specific "high-risk areas," as originally outlined in the bill. They give two reasons: "First, the new standard probably won't be that much more difficult to achieve than the one in the original bill. The federal government is already being tasked with securing the high-risk parts of the border. So locking down the quieter parts is doable. More importantly, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the bill's sponsors, has said that the border security provisions will need to be strengthened to get it through the House, where Republicans have a majority."
May 8, 2013
300 amendments were filed last night to S. 744 and all were posted online on the Senate Judiciary Committee website. AILA has compiled a comprehensive chart of all the amendments filed broken down by Senator and issue area. (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.)
AILA issued a press release highlighting the best and worst of the 300 amendments offered yesterday to S. 744, the bipartisan immigration reform bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13050809.) Some of the positive amendments noted: ensuring all families can reunite with their loved ones, including the siblings of U.S. citizens and LGBT/same-sex families; ensuring businesses of all sizes have access to the workers they need and that immigrant and U.S. workers are fairly paid and fully protected; and restoring due process so everyone who goes through the system is treated fairly.
And some of the bad: requiring additional ineffective and costly measures as "triggers" before anyone could apply for legalization; eliminating training for immigration agents on fundamental issues like racial profiling, the improper use of force, and privacy rights; barring people with minor convictions from access to the legalization program; preventing Registered Provisional Immigrants from being able to travel and visit their family; and eliminating vital protections such as access to legal counsel and the basic right of a detainee to have a custody hearing before detention.
Senator Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Judiciary committee, announced that he would be tweeting out real time information during the mark-up tomorrow on what amendment the committee is considering, and other useful tidbits. The Judiciary committee staff will be using the hashtag #CIRmarkup.
May 7, 2013
As of 6:30pm almost 250 amendments have been filed to the Senate Bill 744 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leading the list were Senators Sessions (R-AL) with 49 amendments, Hatch (R-UT) with 24 and Hirono (D-HI). At the imposed deadline set by Chairman Leahy, Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Cruz (R-TX) had not yet filed a single amendment.
The Immigration Policy Center just released a report: “Adding it Up: Accurately Gauging the Economic Impact of Immigration Reform,” chronicling the positive impacts immigration reform will have for the American economy.
May 6, 2013
FIRST AMENDMENT FILED. Senator Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed the first amendment to Senate bill 744. The amendment is titled: "Prohibition on land border crossing fees."
Last Thursday Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) penned an Op-ed for The Wall Street Journal: "The Immigration Reform Opportunity." In it Sen. Rubio seems to be walking back many of the core provisions contained in the "Gang of Eight's" original senate bill introduced April 16th. He states: "for those who have suggested that the border security triggers outlined in the Senate bill aren't strong enough, we now have a chance to strengthen them. For those who expressed concerns about giving the federal government too much discretionary power through waivers and exceptions in applying different aspects of the law, we have a chance to make clear exactly how the executive branch must enforce this immigration law and what the consequences are if it doesn't. For those concerned about the cost of immigration to American taxpayers, we have a chance to make sure the bill lives up to its promise that today's illegal immigrants are not eligible for federal benefits."
Time magazine updates the four (new) major hurdles immigration reform faces in the Senate: stalling tactics from the right, pushback from the left, the cost for taxpayers, and the conservative media storyline.
Earlier today The Heritage Foundation released a new report arguing that immigration reform would cost the American taxpayer $6.3 trillion. The report and subsequent Heritage Foundation press conference garnered immediate reactions: Senator Flake (R-AZ) on Twitter, Doug Holtz-Eakin in the National Review Online, and the CATO Institute and ThinkProgress, to name just a few.
Last Wednesday was May Day and thousands of immigrants, allies and supporters took to the streets to show their support for immigration reform. Reform Immigration for America put together this great collection of pictures and stories from rallies around the country. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed thousands of people gathered in downtown Las Vegas and told them: "(This country owes) ... the 11 million people a permanent solution. That's what comprehensive immigration reform is all about: a permanent solution. And we are going to do that. We are going to fix a system that is broken. We are going to continue to work on a program that is tough but fair,"
May 3, 2013
The Muskego Patch is reporting that Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) "says he is open to the idea of a pathway to citizenship, or some sort of legal status system, so the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country 'can come out of the shadows.' However, the Tea Party-backed Republican said Thursday that Congress should tackle immigration reform on a piecemeal basis - instead of passing a comprehensive plan." Sen. Johnson went on to say: "If you're asking people to pay a fine, it's not amnesty, you may disagree with the level of the fine for the illegal act. But, in the end, we are a compassionate society. We're a nation of immigrants, so we're going to treat them with humanity."
This month's cover of the National Review boasts a picture of a laughing Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), with the words underneath proclaiming: "Rubio's folly." The Senator is accompanied by Senators Schumer (D-NY) and McCain (R-AZ), in the picture, which was taken at the "Gang of Eight" press conference announcing the immigration reform bill. What the picture has left out, as CNN noted, are the people that were standing behind the three Senators, including conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (see the original picture). The cover lists Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of the anti-immigration group Center for Immigration Studies, on the byline.
May 2, 2013
In a blog on the Congressional Budget Office website, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf states that CBO will use something called "dynamic scoring" to analyze the effects of proposals to make changes in America's immigration policy. This blog follows a public letter the agency sent to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House budget committee, after he requested more information on the forthcoming process.
CBO Dir. Elmendorf explains that although CBO has a "long-standing convention of not incorporating macroeconomic effects in cost estimates, a practice that has been followed in the Congressional budget process since it was established in 1974," the agency anticipates using a similar approach as they did with the 2006 immigration reform bill. This dynamic scoring of bill will "reflect any significant changes in the size of the U.S. population and labor force in the cost estimate for the bill, and will describe any broader macroeconomic effects in supplemental material."
A new polling report conducted by Lake Research Partners found "solid support among African American voters for an immigration reform proposal that includes a roadmap to citizenship (66% favor, 16% oppose). This support holds up after hearing both anti- and pro-reform messages, including hot button issues of the potential for immigrants to take jobs away from African Americans (Final ballot: 69% favor, 14% oppose)."
President Obama left today for a three day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica. Although the President intends to focus the trip on national security and trade, the Washington Post reports that a discussion of U.S. immigration policy is inevitable with new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. "Peña Nieto is facing pressure from some quarters to take more of a public stand in the immigration debate. He has been willing to be more confrontational with the United States, pulling back on the extraordinary access Mexico gave U.S. authorities in prosecuting the drug war and organized crime."
May 1, 2013
Many are asking if LGBT families will be included either in the immigration reform bill the Senate Judiciary committee sends to the Senate floor or in the final bill that passes the Senate. Buzzfeed looks at all the factors that may go into that decision, especially for Senate Democrats on the committee.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been making waves over the past month by speaking out in favor of immigration reform, even doing an event with Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) in Chicago. However, this week, while doing a town hall during the Congressional recess in his home state of Wisconsin, he professed his concerned about so called "anchor babies." Rep. Ryan: "That's what they call it, anchor babies. It's a person who comes and has a child here, if you're born here you're a naturalized citizen. You have to change the constitution. There's a little bit of legal debate about whether you have to or not. I think it comes down fairly clearly that you have to change the constitution to change the definition of citizenship to not being born here or being born with legal parents. That will take a long, long time, years [...] But it's really treating a symptom, right. People are coming across the border illegal or overstaying their visas. Therefore illegal immigration is fairly easy, and then people are having what's called anchor babies."
Polling guru and NY Times columnist Nate Silver just released this amazing interactive map that tracks what effects legalization and eventual citizenship will have on electoral politics. The results may not be what you expect. And as Nate Silver puts it: "The high-stakes question, in other words, is whether immigration reform would really allow Republicans to improve their vote share substantially among Hispanics and Asians, without costing them too many votes among white voters. If so, that is where the electoral "bonanza" might lie."
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) went on Mike Gallagher's radio show and had this to say about the Gang of Eight's bill's potential for passing in the House of Representatives: ""The bill that's in place right now probably can't pass the House. It will have to be adjusted, because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now."
The Center for American Progress just released a chart that lays out "Current and Estimate Future Immigration Based on the Senate's Immigration Reform Bill."
Two Senate committees besides Senate Judiciary, the Commerce, Science and Technology committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, have scheduled hearings for early next week to debate S. 744, the immigration reform bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13050145, AILA Doc. No. 13043049.)
April 30, 2013
Last Thursday, Cesar Vargas, of the DREAM Act Coalition, published an Op-ed in the Houston Chronicle calling on Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to "take advantage of this last chance to prove to Texans a legacy of firmness in leadership to take on immigration reform that includes not only border security but a practical system that unites all families." The following day, April 26th, Senator Cornyn responded on his Twitter account: "@DRMAction complete bs."
Last Friday the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a half day conference, "Reforming Immigration for a Better America." Speakers includes Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) and House members Lofgren (D-CA) and Poe (R-TX). Watch the day in its entirety on the Chamber's website.
The California Endowment recently released a video, "Dreaming of Health Care," featuring undocumented youth sharing their stories about lack of access to health care.
Yesterday The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL.) and Rep. John Carter (R-TX.) in San Antonio for "Left. Right, Forward," a conversation on immigration reform. Rep. Carter said this about the road to citizenship in the House bipartisan bill: "It's not as easy as the Senate side, [but] it's not as bad as anybody might think it is. It has compassion. It allows people to be human beings, to live a normal life, to have a job, to take care of their family, to pay their taxes, to obey the law and go about their lives."
Speaking about the same secret House bipartisan bill, President Obama offered these remarks in a morning press briefing: "Now, I haven't seen what members of the House are yet proposing, and maybe they think that they can answer some of those questions differently or better, and I think we've got to be open-minded in seeing what they come up with. The bottom line, though, is that they've still got to meet those basic criteria. Does it make the border safer? Does it [deal] with employers and how they work with the governments to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of or taking advantage of the system? Are we improving our legal immigration system? And are we creating a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million or so who are undocumented in this country?"
Next Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee will hold a hearing titled "Border Security: Examining Provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act." (AILA Doc. No. 13043049.)
Buzzfeed chronicles the potential disaster looming ahead for the Republican party as Congress gears up to have the first substantial and lengthy debate on immigration reform since 2007. "As conservative criticism of the reform effort grows louder, many Republican operatives, donors, and consultants are bracing for an outcome that would be even worse, politically, than the demise of the bill: A fierce, national, right-wing backlash that drowns out the GOP's friendlier voices, dominates Telemundo and Univision, and dashes any hopes the party had of making inroads to the Hispanic electorate by 2016."
April 29, 2013
On Friday, Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced H.R. 1773-"The Agricultural Guestworker Act." (AILA Doc. No. 1304295.) Rep. Goodlatte said this about the bill: "The new guestworker program created under the AG Act remedies this problem by removing red tape, streamlining access to a reliable workforce, and protecting farmers from abusive lawsuits. It also allows more participation in the guestworker program by opening it up to dairies and food processors, both of which often need access to foreign labor. In addition, the AG Act is good for those seeking a better life for their families by providing opportunities to earn a living while temporarily working in agricultural jobs U.S. citizens are not willing to do."
In what could be seen as a major breakthrough on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) "says now is the time to reform the immigration system for the economy, for his Mormon faith and for the people here illegally. Utah's senior GOP senator sees the bipartisan Senate proposal as a solid starting point, though he isn't ready to endorse the deal just yet. He's still reading its 844 pages and promises to suggest some tweaks."
This comes less than a month after the president of the Salt Lake Chamber, Lane Beattie, leveled some harsh criticism at both Utah senators after they sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to move slower on immigration reform. Sen. Hatch was one of the original sponsors of the DREAM Act over ten years ago, but voted no on the bill in December 2010, when it was last up for a vote. Sen. Hatch has announced that he will not seek re-election.
It's the first real leak from the secret House of Representative "Gang of Eight" working on a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill-and it's about legalization. Roll Call reports: "the House immigration working group has tentatively settled on a plan that would require illegal immigrants to appear in federal court and plead guilty to breaking U.S. immigration law. Illegal immigrants would be required to complete this step before embarking on a conditional pathway to citizenship that would take at least a decade. In fact, illegal immigrants would essentially be granted legal status when a federal judge sentences them to "probation" for illegally crossing the border."
Crystal Williams, AILA's Executive Director, describes what foreign travelers must obtain a visa; immigrant and temporary non-immigrant visas; and work visas for agricultural and high- and low-skilled workers on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.
April 26, 2013
Former Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been making the rounds speaking on why he supports immigration reform. Last week, at an event in Chicago, he said this: "If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead - that is what the American idea is. No matter what the condition of your birth, you can make yourself what you want to be. That is an incredible idea." The National Review chronicled how Rep. Ryan, before he came into the national spotlight, served an adviser (and later a speechwriter) to NY Congress member, and vice presidential nominee in 1996, to Rep. Jack Kemp. Rep. Ryan remembers how he and Rep. Kemp campaign together against an anti-immigrant proposition in California, prop 187, because "they [were] both worried that the proposal would burn Republicans within the immigrant community, and 'make it so that Latino voters would not hear the other messages of empowerment.'" The National Review speculates that perhaps Rep. Ryan, a leader in the House Republican caucus, will give other Republicans the courage and cover they need to support immigration reform.
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee wrote this Op-Ed arguing that "before we hurry to overhaul our immigration laws, we must methodically look at each of the various components that need to be remedied. Immigration reform is too important and complex to not examine each piece in detail.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is asking the American public to weigh in on the Senate's "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill. Visit his website to provide feedback on the bill.
Sonal Ambegaokar, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, discusses the impact excluding immigrants from anti-poverty programs and restricting access to health care will have for those communities in an Immigration Impact blog. "The Senate proposal requires aspiring citizens to wait 15 years before they can apply for anti-poverty programs such as Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps). They are denied eligibility for the length of their time in provisional status and must wait an arbitrary five years more after receiving a green card in order to apply for these programs. During these 15 years, these lawfully present immigrants will continue to contribute to our economy and help maintain the very programs that they are denied access to through their taxes. This exclusionary policy keeps immigrants in poverty and creates barriers to integration."
April 25, 2013
This morning House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Immigration Subcommittee chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) held a press conference to discuss the way forward for immigration reform in the House. (AILA Doc. No. 13042561.) Rep. Goodlatte said that the house must pass immigration reform through regular order (meaning through his committee) and that judiciary will take the first step by beginning to introduce individual bills related to individual issues in immigration reform. He stated that the first two bills the committee will be debating are mandatory E-verify and a temporary guest worker program. Read a full summary of the press conference.
Two members of the Senate Gang of Eight, Schumer (D-NY) and McCain (R-AZ) immediately fought back against the incremental approach, according to the Washington Post: "'We can't do individual bills. The problem is, people say, 'What about me?'" Schumer said. "What we found, and it might be counter-intuitive, is that the best way to pass immigration legislation is a comprehensive bill because that can achieve more [political] balance. Everyone gets much, but not all, of what they want. The idea of doing separate bills is just not going to work." McCain added, "It's got to be a comprehensive approach.'"
While the House was announcing their way forward on immigration reform, Senator Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, previewed how the mark-up (amendment and final vote process) was going to work in his committee. (AILA Doc. No. 13042640.) He states: "I have thought about ways we can make our proceedings more open to the public and easier to follow. For this important legislation, I intend to make all amendments available to the public in a timely fashion by posting them on our website. To do this and to ensure a more organized, easier to follow process, I am asking that all amendments to the bill, S.744, be filed by Tuesday, May 7, at 5 p.m. This will allow us to post the amendments on our website and to organize our proceedings around amendments relating to similar subject matters and aspects of the bill. That will mean that our first consideration of amendments will be at our mark up on May 9 and that the public will be better able to follow the discussion and votes."
April 24, 2013
FWD.us, the Mark Zuckerberg-backed organization pressing for immigration reform, is planning on releasing the its first wave of television ads next week. One features Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) defending the bill and the other is a defense of the conservative credentials of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The ads will be run through a subsidiary group, Americans for a Conservative Direction, who Politico reports, will spend seven figures to run ads in more than half a dozen states.
The Migration Policy Institute released a side-by-side comparison of the 2013 Senate immigration bill with the 2006 and 2007 senate legislation.
On Monday, Sen. Paul (R-KY) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY) urging them to "incorporate various national security concerns into the comprehensive immigration reform debate in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings."
In the Monday Senate Judiciary hearing, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, "I don't think that there is any issue in this entire debate that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally…In my view, any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill." (AILA Doc. No. 13041702.) Sen. Cruz also issued a press release expressing his dissatisfaction with the "border triggers" in the bill.
However, an array of recent polls demonstrate citizenship's popularity, a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that nearly two-thirds of the public backs citizenship on its own. However, "when told that the pathway to citizenship would require paying fines and back taxes, as well as passing a security-background check, support grows - with 76 percent of total respondents, and 73 percent of Republicans backing the path." These findings are further highlighted by a new CNN/ORC International poll which finds 84% overall support for citizenship and 78% support amongst Republicans.
The Wall Street Journal reports on a group of African American Leaders, the African American Leadership Council, hosting a press conference today opposing the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill. Frank Morris, Council leader, offered this explanation: "The Senate Gang of Eight's immigration bill is not only impractical, but immoral. Increasing immigration levels through amnesty and new visa programs, particularly at the low-skilled level, will flood the labor market with millions more people, leading to higher unemployment, more poverty, and a lower standard of living for many in the black community.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, responded:
"Actual civil rights leaders view immigration reform as one of the defining civil and human rights issue of our time. The opinions expressed in today's press conference are not shared by most African Americans, civil rights leaders, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, or any other significant constituency in the African American community. African Americans are certainly not monolithic in their thinking on this or any other issue, but we know that the nation's immigration system is broken and that the status quo does not serve our economic or long-term interests. As a nation, we are stronger when we focus on real solutions that work and on the values that unite us. Divisive and baseless rhetoric has no place in a serious national conversation about immigration reform."
On April 18, 2013 Speaker Boehner (R-OH) held a press conference and answered a question on the Senate's immigration bill and answered this way: "Well, you know, I want to congratulate the Senate Gang of Eight for coming forward with their bill. I'm sure there's parts of it I would agree with, parts that I would disagree with. But the fact is that they've worked together in a bipartisan fashion to craft this bill. The House Gang of Eight that's been meeting for over four years continues to make significant progress. And in addition to that, Chairman Goodlatte is working diligently with his committee on -- on hearings about various parts of this problem. You have to remember, about three-fourths of the members of Congress have never dealt with the issue of immigration. So there's a big learning curve that the members are going to have to go through. It's why our whip, Kevin McCarthy, has been holding sessions, attended by members, being briefed by Chairman Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy, the Immigration Subcommittee chairman, to help familiarize members with the various issues within legal immigration and the problem of illegal immigration. So I'm overall very happy that this -- the process is continuing." (via Congressional Quarterly)
April 23, 2013
We need your case examples. Please consider submitting your case examples to AILA to potentially use with Senate Judiciary committee members and other elected officials to make the argument for the best immigration reform bill we can get. (AILA Doc. No. 13041707)
This morning DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on S. 744. This hearing was the last one on the bill before mark-up begins on Thursday. The Secretary spent over three hours with the committee answering questions on everything from her ability to implement an effective E-Verify system for agricultural companies, to the alleged moving target of successfully securing the Southern border, to the immigration status of the Boston bombers. AILA provides a live summary of today’s hearing on our Congressional Hearing Resources page. (AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13042249.)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary, was on Lou Dobbs Tonight and had this to say about the Senate Immigration Reform bill (S. 744) (starts at 4:33). “Well, it depends on what the process is. If we can meet all the characteristics you just laid out--effective--last time we had this conversation, engenders confidence in our fellow citizens in the process is every bit as important as the result. And as you noted, my colleagues in the House have been working, and they've been working hard on both sides of the aisle to produce a product in the House. I thought what the Senate came out with, frankly, was a very constructive opening bid, to use a bridge term…But I will say this. I want to be -- I want to be fair to the four Republicans. I mean, they're in the minority. Lindsey and Marco and Jeff Flake are in the minority, and they're doing as good as they can do. If the bill is going to be pushed towards law enforcement and border security and internal security, which is where I want to see it go, the House is going to have to do something, too, and we're going to start that process when we go back next week.”
In yesterday’s Senate Judiciary hearing, a few of the witnesses spoke on the impact immigration reform will have in driving down wages, especially for low skilled workers; Ezra Klein, of the Washington Post, disputes these claims and explains exactly how immigration reform will help low wage workers. (AILA Doc. No. 13041702.)
April 22, 2013
Today, the Senate held a marathon Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744" and AILA has a summary of the hearing on InfoNet. (AILA Doc. No. 13041702) AILA President Laura Lichter testified on the third panel and answered a few tough questions from Senators on both sides of the aisle. (AILA Doc. No. 13042240.) Senator Cornyn (R-TX) asked whether she believed the bill would actually secure the border and adequately deal with visa overstays, Sen. Franken (D-MN) was worried about implementing mandatory E-Verify, especially for small businesses and Senator Coons (D-CT) asked about the lack of discretion in immigration policy.
The Dream is Now is a new 30-minute documentary that's being made in real time, as this debate is unfolding, by Academy Award-winning director, Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for 'Superman', An Inconvenient Truth). Dream gives voice to and puts a human face on the undocumented children of immigrants who are desperate to earn their citizenship and give back to the only country they've ever called "home." You can watch the 30 minute film in its entirety on The Dream is Now website.
Quartz ("a digitally native news outlet, born in 2012, for business people in the new global economy") published this infographic on the three different roads to citizenship for aspiring citizens without papers.
CAMBIO, the Campaign for an Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration Overhaul, recently released their 2013 National Poll of 1,000 registered American voters on their attitudes on immigration reform, worker protections, due process, and border enforcement. "The BRS data show that Republicans, Democrats and independents alike overwhelmingly support stronger safeguards in the federal employment database and stricter enforcement of wage and safety standards, favor giving higher priority to stopping drugs and weapons from crossing the border than to stopping people, and support giving judges the opportunity to weigh the circumstances of an illegal immigrant's case before ordering deportation, even when the immigrant has a criminal record."
Last Friday night, on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report," conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter faced off against founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist on the issue of immigration reform.
Senators Menendez (D-NY) and Rubio (R-FL) both have resources pages on the immigration reform bill on their Senate websites.
The NY Times Editorial Board ran an Editorial on Saturday in responses to Sen. Grassley's, among others, efforts to link the tragic events in Boston and the immigration reform debates: "The immigration debate will test the resilience of the reform coalition in Congress. Changes so ambitious require calm, thoughtful deliberation, and a fair amount of courage. They cannot be allowed to come undone with irrelevant appeals to paranoia and fear."
Senator Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made these comments in the Friday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: "How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?" Grassley asked.
In response Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released this comment: "In the wake of this week's terrorist attack in Boston, some have already suggested that the circumstances of this terrible tragedy are justification for delaying or stopping entirely the effort for comprehensive immigration reform. In fact the opposite is true: Immigration reform will strengthen our nation's security by helping us identify exactly who has entered our country and who has left - a basic function of government that our broken immigration system is incapable of accomplishing today. The status quo is unacceptable. We have 11 million people living in the shadows, which leaves this nation vulnerable to a myriad of threats. That is all the more reason why comprehensive immigration reform is so essential. By modernizing our system of legal immigration, identifying and conducting background checks on people here illegally, and finally securing our border, we will make America more secure."
Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) had this to say: "It is a horrible situation. It is heart-wrenching. And I'm not going to speculate on anything. Linking something like that to other legislation I think is probably no appropriate at this time. In the first place, we don't have the facts. And what is indisputable, is that we have an immigration system that is broken; that we have an immigration system that is not working. We don't know who gets here. We have millions of people who we don't know who they are, who are here - whether we like it or not."
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said this to a group in Chicago: "We have a broken immigration system, and if anything, what we see in Boston is that we have to fix and modernize our immigration system for lots of reasons. National security reasons, economic security reasons. For all those reasons we need to fix our broken immigration system."
April 19, 2013
AILA and AIC just released a 74 page draft section-by-section summary of S.744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" introduced by the bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" late night Tuesday. (AILA Doc. No. 13041944.)
Earlier today the Senate Judiciary Committee held their first hearing on S. 744. Although DHS Secretary Napolitano was scheduled to testify, she was forced to reschedule due to the events unfolding in Boston. The Secretary did release a statement indicating that she was pleased by the work of the bipartisan group of Senators to reform and modernize U.S. immigration laws. (AILA Doc. No. 13041943.) Read a summary of the statements and question/answer session of the hearing on our Resources on Congressional Hearings page. (AILA Doc. No. 13041043.)
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a 2nd hearing on the "The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744" Monday morning featuring a whopping 20 witnesses, including our very own AILA President Laura Lichter. (AILA Doc. No. 13041702.)
AILA President Laura Lichter discusses the introduction of an immigration reform proposal by the "Gang of Eight" on television. Her interview is followed with B-roll that was used by the station. (AILA Doc. No. 13041940.)
You could feel the love in the room yesterday as the Senate "Gang of Eight" came together to hold an official press conference announcing the introduction of their bill. AILA followed along and shared a summary of the substance and jokes shared in the conference. (AILA Doc. No. 13041844.) AILA also released a press release commending the "Gang of Eight's" work that lead up to this point. (AILA Doc. No. 13041849.)
April 18, 2013
At 2:30pm (ET) today the "Gang of Eight" Senators will host a press conference outlining the common-sense, immigration reform proposal they introduced in the Senate. AILA will be providing live updates from the press conference as well. (AILA Doc. No. 13041844.) The senators will be joined by prominent advocates for immigration reform. The event will occur on the eve of the first of multiple Senate hearings on the bill.
Yesterday, the Gang of Eight issued a joint statement on their immigration reform legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13041703.) Not to be outdone, the bipartisan group of Representatives working in the House released a press statement applauding the Gang of Eight's efforts and stated that they "are also working on a good faith, bipartisan effort in the House." (AILA Doc. No. 13041705.)
So, how has House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) been reacting to all this attention on a potential Senate immigration reform bill? Mainly by remaining silent. Although The Huffington Post is reporting that he has indicated that he will "try to move immigration reform through the House in a few separate bills, rather than in one comprehensive piece of legislation" (as Chair of the House Judiciary committee would like); Fox News is reporting that the Speaker is being "pressed by the conservative wing of the Republican Party not to allow a vote on major pieces of legislation--from gun control to immigration--without majority Republican support."
Jon Stewart and Daily Show correspondent Al Madrigal discuss "the tough but fair conditions Latinos will impose on Republicans hoping to one day win back the White House." This is line with Latino Decisions polling that answers the questions: "Can Republicans really draw more Latino support if they back a path to citizenship? The answer is unequivocally 'Yes'."
Sen. Rubio (R-FL) has been busy. Yesterday he went on Laura Ingraham's radio show yesterday to dispel myths and rumors that have started to surround the Senate's immigration reform bill, he posted this YouTube video explaining the bill, and he recorded this video for the "Reclaim America PAC."
Immigration Equality pulled together statements from a number of organization that are expressing disappointment that same-sex families were not included in the Senate's immigration reform bill and calling for their inclusion in any final bill.
April 17, 2013
America's Voice has a round-up of the myriad of statements from national immigration advocacy groups, including the American Immigration Council and the National Immigration Law Council. Also, check out the AFL-CIO President's statement and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce President's statement on the bill's introduction.
So now that a bill has been introduced in the Senate, what are the anti-immigration voices saying? NumbersUSA, FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) have all been riling up their bases, here are some choice excerpts:
NumberUSA: "Nearly every section of the Gang Amnesty bill seems to add more foreign workers to compete with unemployed and underemployed Americans. The Gang apparently believes that the way to help the 20 million Americans who can't find a full-time job is to give out another 20-30 million lifetime work permits to foreign citizens over the next decade." -Roy Beck
FAIR: "Nevertheless, the Senate Gang of Eight has finally announced a bill, one that will rob American workers and taxpayers - all to please special interests. This legislation is all about satisfying the demands of illegal aliens and their advocates for amnesty and providing business interests access to low-wage foreign labor." - Dan Stein
Rep. King on Twitter: "#Gof8Fact: Gang of 8 bill rewards those deported & here illegally with the objective of their crime #amnesty #immigration #slaponthehand"
Today the Immigration Policy Center launched "Think Immigration," a policy wiki. The site will serve as "a hub for sharing ideas and crafting practical policies that improve American's immigration system."
The Senate Judiciary Committee has two hearings scheduled to discuss the immigration reform bill introduced, both titled: "Hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation." The first hearing will be Friday, April 19th with DHS Secretary Napolitano testifying-the second hearing will be Monday, April 22nd (the witness have not yet been announced). (AILA Doc. No. 13041043, AILA Doc. No. 13041702.) AILA will have extensive coverage of both hearings.
TAKE ACTION! Use our simple and easy tool to send a Letter to the Editor on the Senate bill.
AILA just released this "Quicktake: Senate Immigration Reform Bill Introduced," featuring AILA President Laura Lichter. (AILA Doc. No. 13041764.)
Senators Rubio (R-FL) and McCain (R-AZ) have been touting a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the potential economic benefits of immigration reform as they prepared to release their bipartisan bill.
Senator Rubio (R-FL) has also created a resource page on his Senate website on the immigration reform bill, which include a myths vs. facts explanation of the security triggers.
AILA General Counsel David Leopold walks us though the "Five Reasons Why Congress Will Pass Immigration Reform."
Partnership for a New American Economy co-chairs Mayor Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch and J.W. Bill Marriott, Jr. released a statement today on the Senate immigration reform bill: "Mayors and business leaders understand how vitally important it is to bring our broken immigration laws into the 21st Century," said Partnership for a New American Economy Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "I applaud the bipartisan Gang of Eight for tackling this issue, and we will do everything we can to help them win bipartisan majorities in both houses. One of the best things we can do for our economy is to pass sensible immigration reform that drives innovation and creates jobs - and the sooner Congress acts, the brighter our future will be."
WE HAVE A SENATE BILL. Late Tuesday/early Wednesday the Senate Gang of Eight introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. (AILA Doc. No. 13041760.) Senator Schumer (D-NY) took to the floor of the Senate to officially introduce the bill and thank his colleagues and the staff that helped negotiate and draft the legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13041765.) AILA Commended the Senate "Gang of Eight" for the Bipartisan Immigration Bill in a press statement. (AILA Doc. No. 13041761.)
Read the Washington Post and Politico articles on the bill's introduction and the gaming already happening on the bill's chances of passage and get the New York Times viewpoint in the editorial they ran today.
April 16, 2013
As much as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) would like to use the tragedy in Boston to derail the immigration conversation in Congress, the bi-partisan group of Senators working on common sense immigration reform are still planning on introducing the bill this week. In fact, today Senators Schumer (D-NY) and McCain (R-AZ) headed to the White House to brief the President on the bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13041663.) This comes as news reports indicate they are facing criticism from the left and the right on the leaked contents of the bill.
As everyone awaits the immigration bill's introduction into the Senate, CNN reports that "according to a CNN/ORC International survey, 84% of the public backs a program that would allow undocumented workers to stay in the United States and apply for citizenship if they have been in the country for several years, have a job, and pay back taxes."
AILA Secretary Annaluisa Padilla and Media-Advocacy Member Ally Bolour penned this piece for the AILA Leadership Blog on "Why the United American Families Act (UAFA) is an integral part of immigration reform."
The South Carolina Conservative Action Alliance (SCCAA) launched a statewide television, radio and internet ad campaign in support of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and bipartisan immigration reform.
Several news outlets have publicized this 17 page outline of the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration bill titled: “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.” (AILA Doc. No. 13041603.)
Although the Senate Gang of Eight was expected to introduce their bill into the Senate today-and had scheduled a press conference to announce it-Senators Schumer and McCain announced that their "bipartisan work on immigration will wait at least a day out of respect for the victims."
The Washington Post and Politico have released bare outlines of the bill, but these should be taken with a grain of salt as no official legislative language has been released by the Gang of Eight. The Washington Post reports: "Millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States could earn a chance at citizenship under a sweeping Senate proposal to be released Tuesday that would represent the most ambitious overhaul of the nation's immigration system in three decades. The highly anticipated proposal from an eight-member bipartisan group also aims to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country by creating tens of thousands of new visas for foreign workers in low-skilled jobs, according to a 17-page summary of the bill obtained by The Washington Post."
April 15, 2013
Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on seven Sunday talk news shows (including two Spanish interviews)-breaking the record for the most shows in one day. Here's a round-up of his appearances:
On April 17th and 18th the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) will "Hold Their Feet to the Fire," an event bringing radio hosts and anti-immigration reform activists to D.C. to lobby for "secure borders, existing laws enforced, worksite verification to protect American jobs and most importantly - no amnesty."
April 12, 2013
Yesterday, 375+ AILA attorneys and their clients took to Capitol Hill to fight for immigration solutions. In over 380 lobby meetings with Representatives, Senators and even the White House AILA members made impassioned pleas for a common sense immigration process for their clients. Check out the AILA Facebook page for pictures from the day and a short video on why AILA members made the journey to Washington DC for the exciting event.
Asked of U.S. adults: "Next, suppose that on Election Day you could vote on key issues as well as candidates. Would you vote for or against a law that would allow illegal immigrants living in the United States that chance to become permanent legal residents if they meet certain requirements?" Vote for 69%; Vote against 29%
"Would you vote for or against a law that would allow illegal immigrants living in the United States the chance to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain requirements?" Vote for 65%; Vote against 32%
April 11, 2013
The New York Times reports that the immigration bill "will include a major new merit-based program for foreigners to become permanent legal residents based on their work skills, including both high-skilled and blue-collar workers, according to people familiar with a draft of the legislation. Over time the program, just one piece of the bill, would open up many new opportunities for foreigners to settle in the United States based on their skills, a shift from the focus on family ties that is the main foundation of the current immigration system."
BuzzFeed reports that "same-sex couples could be left out in the cold when the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill is introduced, but LGBT advocates are confident their issues will be addressed in committee."
The American Council on International Personnel has released a primer on "Navigating the U.S. Employment-based Immigration System" that focuses on how the U.S. economy can be strengthened and American jobs created through reform of the employment-based immigration system, as a part of comprehensive immigration reform.
April 10, 2013
Fair President Dan Stein outlined the "5 reasons GOP should say no to immigration plan" in an Op-Ed for Politico: 1. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will not even allow hearings on a bill; 2. Democrats will not agree to border security and other enforcement requirements as a prerequisite to amnesty; 3. The legislation will create a new government bureaucracy that will set wages and working conditions; 4. The legislation would extend Davis-Bacon "prevailing wage" requirements to private-sector jobs; and 5. The bill would be a budget-buster.
Media Matters for America then broke down all the reasons Dan Stein's arguments are flawed.
ABC Univision breaks down the "Four Arguments Against a Long Wait for Citizenship:" 1. to avoid creating an underclass; 2. people have been here for a long time already; 3. family strife; 4. fear of shifting political winds.
The Center for American Progress issued a series of reports in a sharp rebuke against the Heritage Foundation Anti-Immigrant study finding that immigration reform would cost the United States trillions of dollars.
The Washington Post reports that "A tentative deal has been reached to resolve a dispute between agriculture workers and growers that was standing in the way of a sweeping immigration overhaul bill, a key senator said Tuesday. The agreement could smooth the way for release of the landmark legislation within a week or so."
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) visited the border recently and had this to say: "If there was a simple, easy answer I'm sure someone would have done it a long time ago…I really worry that there is no consequence of coming across the border illegally…There is no pain involved in that."
April 8, 2013
The Washington Post reports that the "bipartisan Senate group on immigration legislation is attempting to craft an agreement so secure that the eight members will oppose amendments to its core provisions, an arrangement that could delay the introduction of a bill, people familiar with the negotiations said."
On Sunday, April 7th, Senators Chuck Schumer, John McCain and Lindsey Graham went on the Sunday news shows to talk immigration reform. On "Face the Nation" Schumer and McCain said the staffs of the four Republican and four Democratic senators "are in a room working 12 hours a day, taking all the agreements that we've come to over the last three months, and turning them into legislative language, specific legislative language." Both claimed that the process was moving smoothly along and hoped to have a bill by the end of the week.
Meanwhile Sen. Graham appeared on "Meet the Press" expressing support for a temporary guest worker program and frustration with Democrat hesitation to the program.
NPR Reports on Sen. Rubio's (R-FL) role as a pivot point in the immigration reform negotiations: "As Graham and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were appearing on Sunday talk shows to all but declare an immigration deal completed - after a hard-won agreement between business and labor on a new low-skilled worker program - Rubio was putting out a different message: Not so fast."
In the House members are expressing optimism of releasing a bill as well. "I am very, very optimistic that the House of Representatives is going to have a plan that is going to be able to go to a conference with the Senate in which we're going to be able to resolve differences," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illiniois, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
April 5, 2013
The Alaskan Congressional delegation today announced their unanimous support for immigration reform: "Inspired by the words of our First Alaskans, and deeply committed to an inclusive state and nation, we join today to express our hope that the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill being drafted by our colleagues be brought to the floor of our respective bodies for consideration this session. Like our colleagues drafting the bill, we believe this legislation should secure our border, streamline our legal immigration system and provide a clear and responsible path to citizenship for those already here."
April 4, 2013
We haven't heard much about the House's plan for immigration reform, but Rep. John Carter (R-TX) recently spoke to a local Texas station and shared some of what's happening with the bi-partisan negotiations: "'We have been meeting on this issue for almost four years, it's miraculous that we kept it a secret.' Carter says the group - made up of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans - kept things under the radar to avoid the pressure of outside influences while they worked deliberately toward a bipartisan plan. While details are scarce, the Congressman did hint that a full bill would be released, as opposed to the Senate's broader proposal. 'We have legislative language that we will be ready to go forward on. Not concepts, but actual language.'"
AILA just posted this "Quicktake" Video on the Business and Labor Agreement. (AILA Doc. No. 13040352.)
The Center for American Progress recently released a comprehensive report on the latest and most essential facts about immigrants and immigration reform. This includes sections on today's immigrant population, the demographics and political power of Latinos and Asian Americans, the economy, federal policy and public opinion polling.
April 3, 2013
The NY Times reports on the three paths to citizenship the secret bi-partisan House bill being negotiated will offer to the undocumented Americans currently in the United States. The three paths would include: a special path for DREAMers, a path for immigrants who have either a family or an employment relationship that would allow them to apply for legal status while relaxing or waiving the three and ten year bans, and a provisional legal status for everyone else who would be eligible to apply through regular channels for a green card after 10 years and citizenship 5 years after that.
This comes on the heel of the Sunday NY Times Editorial, The Immigration Spring, celebrating the agreement reached between business and labor.
United We Dream released a 30 second Times Square Ad this week.
Wondering about what's happening with LGBT Families and the immigration reform movement? Check out this AILA Interview of the Month with AILA Chicago chapter member Michael Jarecki. (AILA Doc. No. 13040153.)
April 2, 2013
Six House Republicans, some of them hardline conservatives, wrote a letter last week to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) "offering [him their] support, encouragement and assistance as [they] work together to identify the principles that must guide [the] nation's thinking on immigration reform." The six members were: Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Trey Radel (R-FL), and Mark Meadows (R-NC).
AILA released their newest video yesterday, "Economic Growth Through Business Immigration Reform."
April 1, 2013
The Washington Post reports that a major hurdle towards immigration reform was cleared over the weekend as "Labor and business leaders have agreed in principle on the details of a new visa program for low-skilled foreign workers…The two sides agreed on how to overcome the final sticking points, including how much the foreign workers would be paid and which industries would be exempt from the guest-worker program."
The Center for American Progress has launched a new website focusing on the stories of undocumented LGBT Americans: Out4Citizenship. The site includes stories of LGBT immigrant families and other resources.
March 29, 2013
Results of a Pew Research poll from March 13-17 should that most adults nationwide (71%) believe that there should be a way for undocumented immigrants "who meet certain requirements to stay in the country legally."
Speaker Boehner had some strong words of rebuke to Rep. Don Young's use of an offensive slur to describe Latino workers: "Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds," Boehner said. "I don't care why he said it--there's no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology."
March 28, 2013
Today the conservative polling group Resurgent Republic released the results of focus group research they conducted with Republican primary voters in South Carolina and Iowa on the issue of immigration. Here are their top line conclusions:
1. These Republican base voters strongly support legal immigration. Regardless of their individual positions on immigration reform, Republicans should open any discussion on this issue highlighting the benefits legal immigration brings to America.
2. Immigration reform is not on the radar of the Republican base. They are following this issue from a distance, so Republicans seeking to pass broad based immigration policies need to make the case as to why this is necessary.
3. Participants agree that mass deportation of undocumented immigrants would create more problems than it solves and they cite logistical, economic, moral, and social concerns with doing so.
4. Securing the border is foundational before implementing an earned citizenship process.
5. In order to be acceptable for Republican primary voters, any potential pathway to citizenship should be defined as a lengthy, rigid, and workable process that results in an earned status. It does not absolve wrongdoing.
6. Solutions addressing undocumented immigrants should be presented in the context of alternatives. There are no easy fixes and Republican voters oppose giving President Obama carte blanche authority on this issue.
At the same that Politico is reporting that "talks on a new visa program for low-skilled workers are 'back on the right track' after a dispute over wages stalled progress on a Senate immigration reform bill, the lead union negotiator said Wednesday," the Washington Post is reporting that: "a bipartisan deal on immigration is at risk of stalling because of a worsening dispute over a new guest-worker program, exposing fault lines between crucial interest groups and threatening to delay the unveiling of a Senate bill early next month."
March 27, 2013
President Obama went on Univision and Telemundo today to speak on the importance of immigration reform. "I'm actually optimistic that when they get back they will introduce a bill," Obama said during an interview with Univision. "My sense is that they have come close and my expectation is that we'll actually see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month."
As the Supreme Court heard a case today on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (read about the immigration implications in this month's edition of Voice Magazine) Immigration Equality highlights this MSNBC clip profiling a U.S. citizen who was forced to move abroad in order to be with his same-sex partner.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle "the newest start-up to watch in Silicon Valley involves a crowd of top tech stars-led by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg-who are seriously exploring the formation of a new independent expenditure group focused on a range of issues, including education and immigration reform."
AILA National General Counsel David Leopold penned an Op-Ed for The Hill today predicting what the four Senators (Democrats Schumer (NY) and Bennet (CO) and Republicans McCain (AZ) and Flake (AZ)) heading to the Southern Border can be expected to see: "In El Paso, Texas, standing on the U.S. side of the border looking south into Mexico, senators will see the squalid neighborhoods of Ciudad Juarez, until recently considered the most dangerous city in the world outside a declared war zone. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, behind the fence, they'll see U.S. Border Patrol vehicles placed at strategic locations to ensure the apprehension of immigrants who do manage to make it past the motion detectors and other virtual barriers designed to keep them on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande."
March 26, 2013
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has launched a new ad advocating for a reform plan that includes a path to citizenship. The ad, called “America,” is part of a $300,000 buy that will run on national cable.
Today, the Sunshine Foundation released an interesting analysis (based on almost 8,000 lobbying reports) that offers a comprehensive and interactive guide to the web of interests with something at stake.
A Colorlines’ article on Nadine Roger’s (client of an AILA member) story: “Immigration Reform May Throw Siblings Under the Bus.”
The Dallas Morning News recently sat down with the new Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz (R). Here are a few choice excerpts from the Q & A.
Q. Immigration and path to citizenship – where are you on that and did Sen. Paul’s speech the other day change your views on that?
A. There is bipartisan agreement that we need to finally get serious about securing the borders…and that we need to increase the manpower and resources on the border to finally solve the problem...The reason I’m pessimistic is I do believe President Obama wants to pass an immigration bill. His behavior concerning immigration leads me to believe that what he wants is a political issue rather than actually to pass a bill. What he wants is for the bill to crater, so that he can use the issue as a political wedge in 2014 and 2016. That is why I believe the president is insisting on a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. Because by insisting on that, he ensures that any immigration reform bill will be voted down in the House.
Q. Would you vote against anything that has path to citizenship?
A. I have deep, deep concerns about a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. I think creating a path to citizenship is No. 1 inconsistent with the rule of law. But No. 2 it is profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who have waited years and sometimes decades in line to come here legally. And as a practical matter, if you want to see common sense immigration reform pass, insisting on a path to citizenship is the surest way to kill the bill. Today I think the greatest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama.
March 25, 2013
Sunday's New York Times included a strong editorial from the paper's Editorial Board in support of strengthening family based categories in immigration reform legislation. They close the editorial with this thought: "Immigration is more than a business relationship America has with selected foreigners. It's a process that renews this country; it means going all-in on America, through binding ties of love and blood. Recruited workers enrich the country. Reunited families do, too."In this month's edition of Time magazine they chronicle the "Four Hurdles That Could Block Immigration Reform." These include: the Gang of Eight, lobbyists, House Republicans and Democrats. Today, in a naturalization ceremony at the White House featuring President Barack Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, 28 immigrants became U.S. citizens. The President had this to say on the importance of immigration reform: "Immigration makes us a stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keeps us hungry. It keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country. And if we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest that the world has to offer, then we need to do a better job of welcoming them. We've known for years that our immigration system is broken, that we're not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place here in America. And after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all. The time has come for a comprehensive, sensible immigration reform." (AILA Doc. No. 13032543.)
The Washington Post singled out five Republicans who have made big shifts on their public (and perhaps private) policy stances on immigration. Those profiled include Senators Rand Paul (KY), Marco Rubio (FL) and Representatives Eric Cantor (VA), Bob Goodlatte (VA) and Jim Jordan (OH).
The LA Times profiles cinema's shifting perspective on immigration.Democratic members of the Gang of Eight, Senators Schumer (NY) and Bennet (CO), will head South this Easter recess to join their fellow Republican members of the Gang, Arizona Senators McCain (R) and Flake (R), to view conditions along the Arizona border. Tomorrow, AILA, along with the ACLU, First Focus, The Leadership Conference, National Immigration Law Center, Rights Working Group and Women Refugees Commission will host a briefing entitled, "Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Restoring Discretion and Fairness to the Immigration System." (AILA Doc. No. 13032547.) As Congress considers Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it is critical to restore much-needed discretion to immigration judges and immigration adjudicators, to ensure that the immigration system produces fair outcomes, preserves American families, and comports with our Constitution and nation's values.
For the first time in four years, late Friday night into early Saturday morning, the Senate approved a federal government budget in a 50-49 vote. Senators filed over 500 amendments in anticipation of the floor debate, but only a fraction of those were actually voted on during the all-night session. Two amendments were directly related to the anticipated upcoming immigration debate in the Senate-Senator Sessions (R-AL) introduced an amendment to "prohibit illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants granted legal status from qualifying for federally subsidized health care." That amendment failed on a 43-56 vote with Senators Collins (R-ME) and Murkowski (R-AK) joining all Senate Democrats in voting no. Senator Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a competing side-by-side amendment that passed on a voice vote that maintains current law with regards to immigrants' access to certain government benefits. The vote split the Gang of Eight down party lines.
March 22, 2013
Today, the Migration Policy Institute issued an Issue Brief on "Going to the Back of the Line: A Primer on Lines, Visa Categories and Wait times."
Although the self-imposed March 1st deadline for the Gang of Eight to release legislative language on immigration reform has come and gone, the bipartisan Senators in the group remain hopeful that a deal can be reached. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) told a group of protesters that: "The group remains on pace to complete a deal by the end of the month. In fact, we are very, very close to a final agreement."
Yesterday, the Oregon Senate voted 19-11 to approve a bill allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students, the bill now heads to the Governor's desk who has indicated he will sign it into law.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) penned an Op-Ed for the Huffington Post, here is an excerpt: "While immigration reform is clearly an economic issue, it is first and foremost about people. People like me. I want to make sure other families like mine have the same opportunity to come to America, work hard, play by the rules, and find a better life."
March 21, 2013
At yesterday's House Judiciary Hearing with ICE Director John Morton on the release of 2200+ detainees from detention in the last month in response to sequestration, a Republican congressman from Alabama, Rep. Spencer Bachus, asked some surprising questions of ICE Director John Morton on the use of detention to enforce civil immigration laws. A blog by Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service notes that the Congressman asked the following questions of the ICE Director:
Tomorrow, Small Business Majority will be hosting a call with White House officials for small business leaders on immigration and the progress being made towards passage of reform.
On Monday Latino Decision released the next in a series of polls of Latino registered voters' views on potential immigration reform proposals coming out of the bipartisan Senate process. 70% of Latino voters questioned say they support a "clear pathway to citizenship" rather than a bill that waits until the "border is secure."
March 20, 2013
Today, six Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Senators Grassley (IA), Sessions (AL), Hatch (UT), Cornyn (TX), Lee (UT) and Cruz (TX)) sent a letter to Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Leahy (D-VT) requesting adequate time to carefully consider any comprehensive immigration bill that might be proposed by the Gang of Eight. (AILA Doc. No. 13032145.)
AILA unveiled a new Resource Page on Family-Based Immigration this week that features case examples, videos and other resources to highlight the importance of family reunification in any immigration reform legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13032048.) The page was unveiled on the same day that Democratic Senators Mazie K. Hirono (HI), Barbara Boxer (CA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tom Harkin (IA), Brian Schatz (HI), Al Franken (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) sent a letter to the Gang of Eight urging them to prioritize family reunification and clear the backlogs of family visas. (AILA Doc. No. 13032052.) Also this week, Sen. Hirono held a hearing on the impacts of immigration reform on women and families. (AILA Doc. No. 13031246.)
Today, Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, spoke to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the "Economic Benefits of Commonsense Immigration Reform." (AILA Doc. No. 13032042.) The Center for American Progress also released a report detailing the "Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants."
Yesterday, the Immigration Policy Center released a new report: "Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice."
March 19, 2013
The Evangelical Immigration Table announced that they were launching a South Carolina ad campaign in favor of bipartisan immigration reform. The 30 second radio ad will run on 15 Christian radio stations for two weeks and features Rev. Jim Goodroe, Director of Missions at the Spartanburg County Baptist Network. He spoke on why he participated in this radio ad: "As I've gotten to know immigrants, their stories have been varied and shed light on two aspects of immigration. The first is that many of those who are here as undocumented immigrants came legally, but for various reasons it's been hard for them to go back to their home country. ...These are good people who have added so much to our churches, our communities, and our economy…"
Rand Paul has fully embraced the road to citizenship in excerpts from a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both … Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets not liabilities…Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base. That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does Hispanics."
ABC/Univision and USA Today ran two competing articles today demonstrating very different paths forward for the Republican Party and the Latino electorate. The Univision headline: "More Latinos Likely To Vote Republican If Immigration Reform Passes" and the USA Today headline: "Poll Shows Republican Involvement With Immigration Reform Won't Cause Latinos to Vote GOP." Yesterday's GOP Report and Rand Paul's speech today seem to suggest that the Republicans are banking on Univision's reading of the political tea leaves on their ability to court the Latino vote in future elections.
March 18, 2013
The Republican National Committee released their 97 page "Growth and Opportunity Report" today making recommendations for the future of the Republican Party. Page seven of the report includes the following: "We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to Twitter to praise the report's recommendation on immigration.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) chaired a Senate Judiciary hearing today on the importance of including women and families in comprehensive immigration reform. Read AILA's statement and updates from the hearing. (AILA Doc. No. 13031246.)
March 15, 2013
On the same day that AILA, along with other national organizations, hosted a family immigration briefing on the Hill that included AILA President Laura Lichter and an AILA member's client, Nadine Rogers, the Washington Post reports that "key senators are developing plans that would make it harder for the relatives of U.S. citizens to immigrate to this country, while easing the path for more high-skilled foreign workers, according to lawmakers and others negotiating an immigration deal." (AILA Doc. No. 13031153.)
Senator Durbin (D-IL) went on "Fox News Sunday" and had this to say about the two sides of the aisle coming together for immigration reform: "We're dealing with border enforcement, which is very important on the Republicans' side of the table. We're dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes having a path to legalization, then ultimately to citizenship - tough issues, but we're coming together and I think we can do it, I have a positive feeling."
March 14, 2013
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new website focusing on efforts to pass immigration reform. The site, called The American Opportunity, includes the Chamber's 4 point guide to immigration reform, including: securing our border, improving our global competitiveness, creating a reliable electronic employment verification system and creating a path to citizenship.
Today the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off with a panel entitled: "Respecting Families and the Rule of Law: A Lasting Immigration Policy." The panelists included Helen Krieble of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a prominent Republican voice on immigration in the House of Representative (and a former AILA member). This is in sharp contrast to last year's conference that hosted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a keynote speaker on immigration.
On Tuesday, the National Federation of Republican Women issued a press release "urging the federal government to expeditiously reform our nation's immigration system." According to the release the NFRW is one of the largest women's political organizations in the country.
The Immigration Policy Center released a fact sheet today refuting the "back of the line" terminology that has infused both the President's and the Senate's discussion on a road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
March 13, 2013
On April 10th, the day before AILA’s National Day of Action Lobby Day, thousands of immigrants, supporters, AILA members and faith and community leaders will converge in Washington D.C. to call on Congress to create a commonsense immigration reform that includes a realistic path to citizenship. All are invited to attend this historic event that will begin at 3:30pm on Wednesday, April 10th, on the West Lawn of the Capitol (the same side where the Inauguration was held).
The Homeland Security bill contained in the Congressional continuing resolution would give the Homeland Security department $39.6 billion, slightly more than in fiscal 2012. Besides the funding for Immigration and Customs Service detention beds, the bill sustains 21,370 Border Patrol agents in the department’s Customs and Border Protection wing. (via Congressional Quarterly)
Republicans for Immigration Reform just released a $60,000 TV and cable 30 second ad featuring the president of the Charleston, SC Chamber of Commerce praising Senator Graham’s (R-SC) involvement to pass immigration reform. The ad, which ran statewide in South Carolina from March 13th through the 19th, insists that “a modern economy needs modern immigration laws.” Charlie Spies, co-founder and treasurer of Republicans for Immigration Reform had this to say “Senator Lindsey Graham understands that immigration plays an integral role in the way South Carolinians work, live and do business. With Sen. Graham’s support, Republicans can lead the way on a comprehensive immigration reform package that modernizes the laws and encourages economic expansion, competition, and job creation in South Carolina and across the country.”
March 12, 2013
Roll Call has compiled a number of opinion pieces from legislators important in the fight for immigration reform to give their take on what they could happen this year. Contributors include Reps. Gutierrez, Barletta and Sanchez, among others.
Univision has put together a Spanish language infographic to explain the bipartisan Gang of Eight’s set of immigration reform principles.
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law released a new report providing information about “LGBT Adult Immigrants in the United States.”
Over the past few days, ten individuals in states along both the northern and southern borders have come forward to lodge formal complaints against U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This effort, coordinated by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, attempts to bring greater oversight to an agency that has lacked transparency for far too long. Read USA Today’s coverage of his coordinated effort.
March 11, 2013
Michael Chertoff, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, had this to say about security at the Southern border: “There’s a resistance sometimes to recognize that things have actually gotten better…To never acknowledge progress is really self-defeating…Now, I’m not going to tell you that we have a perfectly secure border or that you could have one, but if you look at a series of different metrics over a period of 10 years there has been a steady improvement in terms of operational security of the border and in terms of the net inflow and outflow. And we’ve invested an awful lot in that. But never to acknowledge progress is really self-defeating.”
President Obama has chosen Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as the new Secretary of Labor. If he is confirmed he will be the only Latino in the Cabinet at this point in Obama's second term. “Notably, Perez has filed civil rights lawsuits against law enforcement officials—including one last year against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the brash Maricopa County, Ariz., lawman. The suit accuses Arpaio's department of a ‘pattern of unconstitutional conduct’ against Latinos in the state, which has led the nation in clamping down on illegal immigrants.”
March 8, 2013
Some say the negotiations of a temporary, guest-worker program for low skilled foreign laborers is what ultimately killed the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate, so everyone’s looking at the U.S. Chamber of commerce and labor unions to see how those discussions will influence the current debate on reform. Well Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, had this to say to Univision News today: "I'll be honest with you. I can't guarantee we'll get an agreement with the Chamber. But one thing I can guarantee you is that we won't stop fighting for immigrant workers until they get citizenship."
March 7, 2013
Today President Obama, joined by Vice President Biden and many members of Congress, signed S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, into law in a signing ceremony at the Department of the Interior. (AILA Doc. No. 13030752.)
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies released the first entry for the new CIR 2013 Blog entitled: “Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Pass in the Senate? 60 Filibuster-Proof Votes Within Reach.”
Latino Decision recently released a poll that indicated that nationwide, 44% of Latino voters say they would be more likely to vote Republican if the Party takes a leadership role in passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. This includes 43% of Latinos who voted for Obama in 2012, and 49% of Latinos who identify as Independents. In addition, fully 52% of Latino voters have supported a Republican candidate at one point or another.
March 6, 2013
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) penned an Op-Ed “Amnesty is not the answer, but enforcing the laws we already have on the books.”
March 5, 2013
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) joins AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen for a free AILA podcast and a frank discussion on the status of immigration reform in the 113th Congress. Rep. Gutierrez talks about what’s happening now behind the scenes in Congress and what the prospects are for real reform this year. Rep. Gutierrez covers a range of topics from the urgent need to stop deportations, to the importance of a just and humane approach to border security and interior enforcement, and the need to keep families together here. He also urges all AILA members to get involved and come to the National Day of Action on April 11th in Washington, D.C.
Former governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) took the opportunity last night in an interview with Chuck Todd to walk back his comments opposing a pathway to citizenship made on the Today Show yesterday. He said: “I think we need comprehensive reform, and if there is a path to citizenship that has enough of a realization that we have to respect the rule of law, then so be it.”
The Cato Institute released a new report yesterday, “Poor Immigrants Use Public Benefits at a Lower Rate than Poor Native Born Citizens.”
A Fox News Poll conducted Feb. 25-27, 2013 found that 72% of registered voters “favor allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check?" This included 82% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans and 70% of Independents.
March 4, 2013
Jeb Bush was on the Today Show this morning to explain his support for immigration reform without a pathway to citizenship. “There has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally. It’s just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law,” he said. This comes on the heels of reports that a bipartisan group of House members are ready to unveil an immigration reform bill that does not include a road to citizenship, but instead will include "built in consequences for breaking the law, and an indirect path to citizenship," said Rep. John Carter (R-TX) to the Christian Post.
Sequestration and budget cuts have been the focus attention in Washington, D.C. for the past weeks, but according to the Washington Post President Obama is ready to refocus his attention on immigration reform efforts (and gun control). “‘There are plenty of issues Congress needs to be getting to,’ said David Leopold, an executive committee member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. ‘Manufactured crises like the ‘fiscal cliff’ or sequester do not advance anyone’s agenda, least of all the American people’s agenda.’”
Tomorrow morning the Border and Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a “Hearing on Enhancing American Competitiveness through Skilled Immigration.” American Immigration’s Council’s own Executive Director Ben Johnson will be a witness on the panel. Read his and the other witnesses’ testimony. (AILA Doc. No. 13030456.)
March 1, 2013
The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, passed by the house yesterday, represents only the third time that the Republican majority, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner (R-OH), has allowed a bill to come up for a vote without a majority of the Republican Congress member in support. If this unofficial rule (coined the Hastert rule after the former Republican speaker of the same name in 2004) is no longer Speaker Boehner's official precedent it could pave the way forward for how immigration reform could be passed in a deeply divided House of Representatives.
Also in the House, Roll Call is reporting that a bipartisan group of Congress members are "discussing a proposal that would allow illegal immigrants to eventually earn citizenship without creating a special process…[but instead allow them to] get visas under a modified version of the rules that exist today." House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is the past has expressed his opposition to a road to citizenship, also recently said he would be in support of such a measure.
Sequestration! If Congress fails to reach a compromise on the automatic federal budget cuts (known as the sequestration) today they will go into effect for almost every agency, including the Department of Homeland Security. Sec. Napolitano discusses the impact the cuts will have on her agency.
Both the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies have released reports in the past critiquing the heavy burden immigration reform would place on the United States economy. This week the Center for American Progress details the many ways that immigrants and immigration reform will be a boon to the U.S. economy, including:
This week Numbers USA released a radio and television ad in South Carolina attacking Senator Graham (R-SC) for his support for immigration reform.
The President worked to heal rifts caused by the leak of a White House draft immigration bill by inviting two Republican members of the Gang of Eight, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) to a private meeting with him at the White House. After the meeting Sen. McCain told reporters: "I believe that the president is very committed to comprehensive immigration reform, now does that mean he's committed to anything we do? No, he has his positions on the issue as well, but I believe he is sincerely desirous of comprehensive immigration reform."
Outside groups are starting to gear up to spend serious money on the campaign for immigration reform. One such group to recently jump into the ring is the American Action Network, a center-right think tank, that recently released an ad featuring George W. Bush's Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez urging voters to support fixing a "broken system."
February 28, 2013
VAWA victory! Earlier today the House of Representatives passed, with broad bipartisan support, Senate bill 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. (AILA Doc. No. 13012342.) First, the House had to vote down the bad House substitute bill, which they did on a vote of 257 ayes to 166 nays before moving onto the original Senate bill.
The bipartisan nature of support for the Senate version of the bill, which includes important protections for immigrants that the House bill lacked, may be a good sign for any potential upcoming votes on immigration reform. Buzzfeed reports that “in a House led by a Republican conference at odds with itself, which includes a sizable ideologically motivated bloc inclined to oppose almost any major legislation, this dynamic might be the new normal.” That still remains to be seen, but today we saw an important step forward in protecting all victims of violence.
February 27, 2013
Yesterday, during the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing, "What Does a Secure Border Look Like?", here are a few excerpts from the Questions and Answer portion. (AILA Doc. No. 13022540.)
Representative Miller: Chief Fisher, perhaps we should use other than apprehension rate to measure border security. You mentioned a 90% effectiveness rate which would be an optimal goal, which I think is an admirable goal. Would you look at a 90% goal across all of our borders?
Witness Fisher: First of all, 90% wouldn't make sense everywhere. You can pick a particular spot. If on average, if there were only 4 people coming across, and we catch 3 out of 4, it wouldn't make sense to put more and resources there to get to 90%. Differentiate between more activity or less activity. Put the resources in the high activity, optimize the capability for agents to close the last 50 feet, detection capability. When you look at the smuggling business, they are there to make money. When we impact their profit margin, when we are apprehending what they are smuggling, there is a business decision that will be made. We've been able to sustain 90% effectiveness at certain sectors in the border, so we see it as achievable. It doesn't make sense everywhere. Where it makes sense, we want to start parsing it out.
Representative O'Rourk: With so much riding on our ability to speak intelligently on this, it is important for the country to know that the border is more secure than it has ever been. One of the things that are a threat to El Paso and other cities is the slow cross-border traffic. We hear about shipping companies in 9 hour delays. We hear from constituents who wait in 3-4 hours in pedestrian or auto lines. If we can get me across in 10 minutes, why can't we get everyone across in 10 minutes.
Witness McAleenan: We have made significant improvements, delay times reduced 14% in El Paso. We are using our technologies. We are staffing our peak time more efficiently, but it is a continuing focus for us.
Representative Jackson Lee: Chief Fisher, I would like to know why operational control might not be the best terminology. Mr. Rosenblum, please match CIR and border security.
Witness Fisher: In terms of operational control, as we look at its organization and as a tactical term, I didn't think it was synonymous with security, given the way it was being used in context outside of the agency. Security should be measured in outcomes not outputs.
Witness Rosenblum: How important it is to think about border security in a systematic context. The tools we have in place are one of several tools in context of worksite enforcement, admissions, etc.
Over the last few days much has been made of the recent release of hundreds of detainees from ICE detention due to the looming sequester budget cuts, even allegations that ICE Director Gary Mead offered his resignation over the releases (something the department denies). Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) had this to say on the issue:
"The sequester is forcing ICE to do what it should have been doing already - placing people who don't pose a threat to their communities or our country into the proven Alternatives to Detention Program," said Rep. Roybal-Allard. "Whereas locking up an immigrant costs the American taxpayer more than $150 a day, these proven supervision programs cost about $10 a day. More importantly, with success rates above 90 percent, they deliver strong results. If Republicans were really serious about fiscal responsibility and about fixing our broken immigration system, they would join me in applauding ICE's decision."
As we ramp up the immigration debate in Congress (with the House scheduling and holding multiple hearings this and next week) The Hill reports that over half of Congress has never debated immigration before.
"Only 54 current senators were in the Senate in June of 2007, when the upper chamber last voted on comprehensive immigration and border-security legislation. And just five of the 23 GOP senators who voted in favor of the 2006 immigration reform bill are still serving: Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.). In the House, the turnover has been higher since the lower chamber last cast a major vote on immigration at the end of 2005. Fifty-eight percent of new House members have taken office since then, meaning less than half of the lower chamber took part in the last significant legislative battle over tightening the border and granting legal status to the nation's illegal immigrants."
February 26, 2013
Today the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary held a hearing on "Agricultural Labor: From H-2A to a Workable Agricultural Guestworker Program." (AILA Doc. No. 13022558.) Some select quotes from the question and answer section of the hearing:
Representative Goodlatte (R-VA): If we're going to do CIR, we need to have a component that will work for this industry here. Designing something for agriculture is critical for designing something that works for everyone.
Witness Giev Kashkooli A:The people who are harvesting our food everyday- it's a euphemism to call them guestworkers. They are the new Americans…
Representative Lofgren: You're not objecting to a temporary worker program provided it is truly portable, and that there aren't incentives for employers to employ over American workers.
Witness Kashkooli A:Yes, in addition, quality of treatment and path of citizenship to someone who are no longer temporary. Some are genuinely temporary. If you're here year after year, you're no longer temporary.
Representative Smith: Mr. Brown, my third concern is this. If individuals stay for any substantial length of time, one they're not temporary, they're permanent, they are not going to go home. That's why a true guestworker program will be a short guestworker program
Witness Brown A: I would respond in two ways, one there are ways to track these people currently, and to improve e-verify. When we bring guestworkers in to this country, we can set up through E-verify for a period of validation limited amount of time. [In response to Rep. Smith asking if the workers should go home] I think there should be a path to legalization.
AILA joins the White House in urging the House of Representative to reject the current House substitute to S. 47 as currently drafted and to instead pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA. (AILA Doc. No. 13022753.)The House is scheduled to debate and vote on the substitute on Thursday the 28th.
The National Employment Law Project released a report on "Workers' Rights on ICE, How Immigration Reform Can Stop Retaliation and Advance Labor Rights."
February 25, 2013
The House will host three hearings this week on immigration reform. The Immigration and Border Security subcommittee of the Judiciary will host a hearing on E-Verify and the agricultural H-2A visa system and the Border and Maritime Security subcommittee of the Homeland Security committee will host a hearing on border security. (AILA Doc. No. 13022541, AILA Doc. No. 13022540.)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released this statement on the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce's joint statement on immigration reform released last week:
"I applaud the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO for coming together to find common ground in an effort to reform our broken immigration system," said Cantor in a statement. "Their goal of protecting American workers and ensuring we have the workforce we need to grow the economy and remain globally competitive is one I share. While we may not agree on every aspect, it is encouraging that two groups often on opposite sides of the aisle are serious about putting politics aside and finding solutions. Let's hope we can follow that lead in the months ahead."
The Partnership for a New Economy just launched "the March for Innovation," a virtual march to pass immigration reform that includes provisions to boost innovation and entrepreneurship. From their site: "innovation and technology are the engines of the American economy, but we need more of the best and brightest to power it. It's simple: the more innovators, entrepreneurs, and hardworking individuals we have in America, the better our economy preforms and the more jobs we create for all Americans. We're bridging party lines to streamline, modernize, and rationalize our broken immigration system."
February 22, 2013
Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, went on NPR yesterday and voiced his strong opposition to a pathway to citizenship for those currently in the country without status. He did say he supports a strong guest worker program: "You're going to have to have a program that assures those farms and those processing plants that there will be workers. Because if you give them legal status, they can work anywhere in the United States-they're not going to necessarily work at the hardest, toughest, dirtiest jobs."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has been facing some tough crowds in his home state of Arizona, specifically on his involvement in the bipartisan group of senators working towards immigration reform. NBC reports that "McCain told the crowd that Americans would not support a move to arrest all illegal immigrants in the United States and deport them. He also said he wouldn't support an effort to make people who had been in the United States illegally for decades to become guest workers because 'we're a Judeo-Christian principled nation,' drawing an angry response from some in the crowd."
AILA Media-Advocacy Committee member Ally Bolour writes on the importance of a "Realistic Pathway to Citizenship."
February 21, 2013
Today AILA released a working draft section-by-section summary of the leaked White House draft bill sections including: Title I: Enforcement, Title II: Legalization of Undocumented Individuals and Subtitle X-XI: Employment Verification System & Protecting American Workers. (AILA Doc. No. 13022142.)
Earlier today the U.S Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue & the AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a "Joint Statement of Shared Principles." (AILA Doc. No. 13022152.) They outline the following three principles they believe "should guide legislation in the complicated and important area of addressing lesser-skilled immigration to our country:"
More information is available in the Washington Post.Recent polling data on Americans' views on immigration and reform:
February 20, 2013
Yesterday, the Alliance for Citizenship, a campaign working with labor, immigration, community, and faith-based organizations (including AILA), to pass major immigration legislation in Congress in 2013, formally announced their plans "to throw their weight into the immigration debate."
Last night the President sought to ease tensions with Senate Republicans over the leaked White House immigration reform bill. President Obama specifically reached out to three of the four Republicans who are members of the bi-partisan Gang of Eight working on the Senate immigration reform bill to reaffirm his "shared commitment to bipartisan, common-sense immigration reform."
Both the President's and the Senate's plans include a reference requiring undocumented immigrants to "go to the back of the line" when applying for legal permanent status (green cards). Mother Jones has put together this handy interactive tool to demonstrate that the reality is no single line exists, and the multiple different lines that do are incredibly backed up.
Senator Durbin (D-IL) had this to say about the plan included in the Senate's principles that would prevent undocumented immigrants from applying for legal permanent residency until certain border security triggers were met: "Let me -- let me clarify this. What we -- we haven't written the section, but what we envision is -- is to create metrics, measurements, in terms of progress on border security that could be certified or at least attested to by local officials. But the ultimate decision will be by the Department of Homeland Security. So it isn't going to be something as generic as safe and secure borders. We'd never agree on that. But metrics, in terms of resources on the border and the impact it has on illegal immigration."
February 19, 2013
Over the weekend three separate section of a draft White House immigration bill were released by the Miami Herald. The sections that were released--including legalization, border security, interior enforcement, and worksite enforcement--take a moderate approach and are consistent with the broad principles the President issued a few weeks ago. The overall approach is also in line with the package released by the bi-partisan group of eight Senators who are currently working on their own immigration reform bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13021945.)
Since the leak of the White House bill the administration and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have been in a "war of words" over how much Republicans were or were not consulted about the draft language and whether the President should be involved in the drafting of language at all.
Sen. Rubio issued a press release immediately following the release of the legislative language, including this statement: "Much like the President's self-described 'stop gap' Deferred Action measure last year, this legislation is half-baked and seriously flawed…If actually proposed, the President's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come." But as the Miami Herald pointed out yesterday, the President's bill and the bill Sen. Rubio supports are remarkably similar.
February 15, 2013
This week the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) announced the creation of a high-level bipartisan task force on immigration. The task force will be co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell and will work to develop a politically viable package of policy recommendations and work with Congress to help pass immigration reform.
February 14, 2013
The Immigration Policy Center released a primer that provides a snapshot of the current immigration system, a short summary of the key events and issues that have shaped the laws, offers context for the current debate, and discusses the key principles guiding immigration reform.
"5 reasons GOP should avoid immigration trap," an Op-Ed written by former House Immigration Subcommittee Chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). He cautions that "before deciding what to do about immigration, Republicans should first decide what not to do. They should not buy in to the Obama/liberal Democrats' plan to legalize every person who is in the country illegally."
In the Senate Judiciary Committee's first hearing on immigration reform in the 113th Congress Senator Maize Hirono (D-HI) argued passionately for prioritizing family reunification in immigration reform. In her opening remarks she stated: "Immigration reform should be rooted in a set of guiding principles to ensure that our immigration system addresses the critical needs of our economy, while maintaining the nearly 50-year tradition of bringing families together."
February 13, 2013
Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant, gave powerful testimony today at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" along with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, among others. Read AILA's live summary of the hearing, our submitted testimony, and all of the witnesses' testimony on our Hearing page. (AILA Doc. No. 13020747.)
Last night the President gave a State of the Union address that touched on a variety of issues-here's what he had to say about immigration:
"Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, faith communities -- they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done. Now is the time to get it done.
Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made -- putting more boots on the Southern border than at any time in our history and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.
Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship -- a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally. And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.
In other words, we know what needs to be done. And as we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. So let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away. And America will be better for it. Let's get it done. Let's get it done."
Today, President Obama met with the four Democratic members of the Senate's Gang of Eight (Durbin (IL), Menendez (NJ), Schumer (NY) and Bennet (CO)) to further discuss the plans to overhaul the immigration system.
Michael Mandel, a member of the AILA Media Advocacy Committee member, wrote this guest blog for the AILA Leadership Blog laying out the 306 reasons why we need immigration reform in 2013.
Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for immigration Studies, testified at both today's Senate and last week's House hearings on immigration reform, advocating against non-enforcement only proposals (including clearing the backlogs and providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented Americans). (AILA Doc. No. 13020747, AILA Doc. No. 13020147.) However, in an article in the Huffington Post she had this to say about the less than citizenship legal status being championed by Rep. Raul Labrador for the 11 million (R-ID):
"'In my view we shouldn't be accepting immigrants that we are not willing to allow to become citizens. It's the kind of policy that makes us more like Saudi Arabia and Japan. It creates classes of residency and treats people like facets of production."
Creating a second-class legal status "sails into uncharted waters," and will put millions of American-born workers with limited education at a deep disadvantage in the labor market, Vaughn said. Unemployment among undocumented immigrants already is high."
February 12, 2013
VAWA passed out of the Senate on a vote of 78-22 with a strong bipartisan show of support (and without the bad immigration amendments). All eyes are turning to the House of Representatives now, where VAWA stalled last year. More information and updates are available on the Senate VAWA proposed legislation page. (AILA Doc. No. 13012342.)
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) released this excerpt from the Tea Party response to tonight’s State of the Union on his Facebook page: "We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future. We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, 'If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you."
February 11, 2013
AILA launches the “Ask a Lawmaker” series. AILA is rolling out the five questions that Congress and the President must answer as we move forward on immigration reform. Here’s a look at our first two in the series, click through for more information:
Border Security: How will the President and Congress ensure that any enforcement goals are clear and reasonable and that people are not kept waiting an indefinite period of years in limbo status? (AILA Doc. No. 13021151.)
Family and Employment Based Visas: How will the President and Congress ensure that any legislation continues America's historic commitment to bringing families together and ensures that Americans do not have to choose between their country and taking care of their elderly parents or building a life with their children and siblings? (AILA Doc. No. 13021152.)
Want to learn more about exactly who are the 11 million undocumented immigrants that Congress is fiercely debating about now? Check out the Immigration Policy Center Legalization Resource Page for infographics, analysis and demographic information to better understand the impacts of a legalization program in the United States.
First Lady Michelle Obama will be joined by DACA recipient Alan Alamen tomorrow night to hear firsthand the President deliver the State of the Union address.
February 8, 2013
VICTORY! Senator Grassley’s bad VAWA amendments (to make a third DUI conviction an aggravated felony for immigration removal purposes, to amend the crime of violence definition for immigration purposes, and to expand aggravated felonies to include all domestic violence convictions) included in his VAWA substitute package were all defeated yesterday on a vote of 65-34. (AILA Doc. No. 13020752, AILA Doc. No. 13020753, AILA Doc. No. 13020751.) The Senate will reconvene on Monday, 02/11/13, at 2:30pm ET to continue debate and vote on the final bill. Thank you to all of our members who called their Senators in support of a clean VAWA bill!
February 7, 2013
Major roadblock in Republican controlled House? Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a Republican seen as a leader and moderating force on immigration reform in the House of Representatives, came right out on NPR and said: "The people that came here illegally knowingly --- I don't think they should have a path to citizenship." What does this mean for either the President’s or the Gang of Eight’s Immigration Reform proposals, both of which include a roadmap to citizenship? That remains to be seen.
February 6, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sat down with Buzzfeed editor-in-chief to have a candid conversation about a range of issues, from the Senator’s music playlist (plenty of Tupac) to the big issue of this session, immigration. Fast forward to minute 8:00 to hear Senator Rubio discuss the Senate’s plan, protections (or lack thereof) for bi-national same sex couples and the importance of “defining border security and who is going to certify that it’s happening.”
Even more Rubio news! He has been tapped by Republican leadership to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union speech next Tuesday, February 12th. According to sources he will deliver the rebuttal in both English and Spanish.
February 5, 2013
The House Judiciary Committee kicked off today the first (of many to come) immigration focused hearing in the 113th Congress. The hearing had some highlights (like San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and MPI Director Muzaffar Chishti) and quite a few lowlights (like ICE Union President Chris Crane). Check out AILA’s hearing page for a live summary of the 5+ hour hearing and links to AILA’s and other witnesses’ testimony. (AILA Doc. No. 13020147.)
We had some good news from the Hill today on the need to inject some rational debate into the conversation on enforcement and immigration reform today when four Senators released their "Dear Colleague Letter." The letter, signed by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Coons (D-DE), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Hirono (D-HI), calls for reforms to immigration enforcement laws that are grounded in civil and human rights, and that ensure due process, equal treatment and fairness. (AILA Doc. No. 13020557.)
February 4, 2013
AILA released their testimony for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on “America’s Immigration System” which in part reaffirms the importance of family unification as a cornerstone of the U.S. legal immigration system and points out that immigration enforcement efforts of the past decade have been aggressive, have reached a historic high-point, and that our borders and the interior have never been more secure. (AILA Doc. No. 13020446.) (AILA Doc. No. 13020147.)
Some of you might have seen the “Aspiring Americans” ad run during the Super Bowl yesterday, but here it is for those of you who missed it.
February 2, 2013
Scott Brown (R) announced he won’t run in a special election to fill John Kerry’s (D) Massachusetts senate seat. This leaves a thin field of Republican candidates who could run against the two Democrats identified as potential contenders: Reps. Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch.
Next Tuesday at 10:00am Eastern, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration.” .” (AILA Doc. No. 13020147.) Many fear this hearing may veer into an attack of the Obama administration’s record on enforcement, but hope that instead the House can begin a serious discussion on immigration reform.
January 31, 2013
Is the honeymoon over? Yesterday, on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) had some harsh words for fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL): “I love and respect Marco. I just think he’s amazingly naïve on this issue.”
January 30, 2013
On January 30, 2013 AILA released their report, Border Security: Moving Beyond Past Benchmarks, that urges lawmakers to move beyond massive expenditure on resource buildup at the border. (AILA Doc. No. 13013051.) This report examines past immigration reform proposals, specifically the 2006, 2007, and 2010 Senate bills (S. 2611, S.1639, and S.3932), and evaluates the proposals in these four areas: operational control, border personnel, border infrastructure and technology, and detention.
Read the Washington Post’s article on the report.
VAWA! VAWA! VAWA! Senate Bill 47, a bill introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID) to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, looks poised to hit the floor of the Senate within the next few days. (AILA Doc. No. 13012342.) The bill currently has 55 co-sponsors in the Senate and will bypass the Judiciary committee and head directly to the floor where it will be opened for amendments before a final vote. For more information check out the factsheet from the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence on the bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13013046.)
The bill is similar to last year’s bill, except that as of now it does not include Senator Grassley’s (R-IA) amendment to include a third drunk driving offense as an Aggravated Felony for removal purposes. AILA will be monitoring the debate closely and may call on AILA members to take action if bad amendments are offered on the floor during debate.
The spin has begun. Now that both the bi-partisan Senate “Gang of Eight” and the President have laid out their basic principles for immigration reform both sides, and Republicans and Democrats in the House are getting in on the action as well. Senator Marco Rubio appeared on Rush Limbaugh and stated that he would not support any bill with a road to citizenship that didn’t address border security first. While in the other House on the other side of the aisle, House Democrats are digging in their own heels on the importance of including equity for same sex couples in immigration legislation moving forward.
January 29, 2013
President Obama spoke in Las Vegas today on his proposal for comprehensive immigration reform and while his speech did not offer specific policy proposals different from what the Gang of Eight in the Senate offered yesterday, his factsheet on “Fixing the Broken Immigration System So Everyone Plays by the Same Rules” offers some additional insight. (Jan. 29, 2013) (AILA Doc. No. 13012946.) Most notably the President’s plan does not tie the road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented Americans to any border security triggers as the Senate plan does, although he does lay out plans to increase enforcement both at the border and at worksites.
The LA Times is reporting that a secret group of House members is racing to finish their version of a bipartisan immigration overhaul bill before the President’s State of the Union Speech in two weeks. While some say it tracks closely to the bipartisan set of principles released yesterday by the Gang of Eight in the Senate, this would be actual legislative language, rather than just a set of principles.
Buzzfeed obtained a one page set of talking points on immigration for Republican members of Congress issued by the Hispanic Leadership Network outlining the language they recommend lawmakers use in the upcoming immigration debate. The talking points include recommendations such as: don’t use the work ‘illegals’ or ‘aliens’ or the term ‘anchor baby.’
Gang of Eight press conference on the release of their bipartisan immigration principles.
Marco Rubio appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News defending the “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” Sean Hannity stated that it was the most well thought out plan he had seen.
January 28, 2013
The bi-partisan powerful "Gang of Eight" Senators today released their "Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" outlining a set of principles to guide the overhaul of the country's immigration system.
Democratic Senators Schumer (D-NY), Durbin (D-IL), Menendez(D-NJ), Bennet (D-CO) and Republican Senators Graham (R-SC), Rubio (R-FL), Flake (R-AZ) and McCain (R-AZ) have all committed to the plan and a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, but only when strict border enforcement measures have been met.
The four basic legislative proposals included in the framework:
Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
January 25, 2013
January 23, 2013 marked the one year anniversary since then Republican Presidential nominee candidate Mitt Romney injected his “self-deportation” plan into the debate. The most recent analysis from Latino Decisions shows the impact the Latino vote had on the 2012 elections and provides a strategy for both parties to make gains within the Latino community by pursuing common sense immigration policy.
Senator Marco Rubio stopped by "The Mark Levin Show" on Wednesday and had this to say about any potential immigration reform package: “President Barack Obama must confront labor unions and accept a guest worker program as part of a broad immigration reform package if he intends to sign a bill this year.”
Filibuster reform good news for immigration reform? Not so much according to most experts. Although much attention has been paid to the so called filibuster reform agreement agreed to by Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the reality is that the rule changes will have little to no effect on the need to have 60 secured Senate votes to overcome a Senate filibuster on any major piece of legislation, including any immigration reform package.
President Obama met with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and stated that immigration reform would be his top legislative priority. After the meeting the White House announced that the President would be unveiling his immigration reform proposals during his scheduled trip to Las Vegas next Tuesday.
January 24, 2013
Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Tuesday. The bill, reauthorizes the landmark Violence Against Women Act law that was enacted more than 20 years ago, strengthens and improves existing programs that assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The same bill was also introduced in the House by Rep. Moore (D-WI). (Jan. 23, 2013) (AILA Doc. No. 13012342.)
On January 14, 2013 Rep. Ross (R-FL) introduced the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act (H.R. 242) that would provide for a temporary agricultural worker program by creating a new “W” nonimmigrant Visa. Farmworker Justice released a statement opposing the bill.
January 23, 2013
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) announced the members of the Immigration Subcommittee today. The subcommittee will be Chaired by Rep. Gowdy (R-SC) and Vice-Chaired by Rep. Poe (R-TX). The other Republican members of the committee include: Lamar Smith (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Jim Jordan(R-OH), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Raul Labrador (R-ID), and George Holding (R-NC). The Ranking member of the committee is Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) with fellow Democrats: Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Joe Garcia (D-FL) and Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR).
First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to Rep. Steve King (R-IA) today declaring their opposition to a bill he recently introduced denying birthright citizenship. Rep. King's Birthright Citizenship Act (H.R. 140) would deny citizenship to children born in the United States without a parent with legal status.
January 22, 2013
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continues to make his case for his vision of immigration reform to conservative news outlets and pundits. Although the reception hasn't been all positive, he's mainly gaining traction with everyone from Sean Hannity ( who said the plan was "probably the most thoughtful bill that I have heard heretofore"), to Bill O'Reilly, to Grover Norquist, to Ralph Reed and David Brody.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today the first ten measures of the 113th Congress and immigration reform is number one on the list.
January 21, 2013
President Obama said this about immigration in his Inauguration Day Speech:
"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."
Senator Leahy (D-VT) made a surprising move when he announced that he wants President Obama to send a draft immigration bill to the U.S. Senate. While the President has been outspoken in his support for Congress to tackle immigration reform, the exact method of his involvement was still in the air as some were worried that a draft bill put forward by the President makes a bi-partisan effort that much more difficult to achieve.
January 18, 2013
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is laying down a hard line in the sand in any immigration reform fight: citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. He told a roomful of reporters that "there will be nothing done in my Senate (on immigration reform) without a pathway to citizenship."
January 17, 2013
Some might remember Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) running mate's extreme position on immigration during the 2012 Presidential campaign. Well it looks like now the Republican Party leader from Wisconsin is doing everything he can to distance himself from those stances and place himself in the center of any debate around immigration reform in the 113th Congress. Rep. Ryan strongly endorsed Sen. Rubio's immigration proposal and has been rumored to be in conversations with Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) around potential immigration bills.
January 16, 2013
On November 7th, 2012 AILA began compiling quotes in support of immigration reform from the most unlikely of sources and the surprises keep coming. During his Fox News show Bill O'Reilly gave public support for Sen. Rubio's (R-FL) immigration plan that involves deporting immigrants with criminal backgrounds and putting others on a path to legalization.
Senator Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, outlined the agenda for his committee in the 113th Congress. This is what he included on immigration:
"I expect that the Judiciary Committee will devote most of our time this Spring working to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Few topics are more fundamental to who and what we are as a nation than immigration. Immigration throughout our history has been an ongoing source of renewal of our spirit, our creativity and vitality. From the young students brought to this country by their parents seeking a better life for them, to the hardworking men and women who play vital roles supporting our farmers, innovating for our technology companies, or creating businesses of their own, our nation relies on immigrants. We must find a way through the partisan gridlock to enact meaningful change, which should include a path for citizenship. Tackling this complex issue should inspire us to uphold the fundamental values of family and of hard work and of fairness. Next month we will begin this national discussion in the full Senate Judiciary Committee with public hearings. Although I expect there will be different views on many pieces of the reform effort, I hope that in the end we can honor those who came before us from distant lands in search of freedom and opportunity."
January 14, 2013
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will remain on as Secretary into the President's second term.
January 10, 2013
The Chamber of Commerce has thrown their hat into the immigration reform ring. Tom Donohue, the Chamber's president, announced in a press conference that the "door to the American dream must always remain open" and signaled that the Chamber will begin working on bringing a coalition of groups together to work on overhauling the American immigration system. Most notably Mr. Donohue mentioned that he had been working with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
January 4, 2013
The Senate Republicans have announced their 113th Congress committee assignments. The all-important Senate Judiciary committee will include two new freshman Senators: Ted Cruz (TX) and Jeff Flake (AZ), joining veteran Republican committee members: Chuck Grassley (IA), Orrin Hatch (UT), Jeff Sessions (AL), Lindsey Graham (SC), John Cornyn (TX), and Mike Lee (UT).
December 21, 2012
CNN is reporting that President Obama will nominate Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to be the next Secretary of State. Senator Kerry currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is “noted for his experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills.”
If Sen. Kerry is confirmed Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) would appoint a temporary replacement until a special election can be held, no longer than 160 days after the vacancy. Many in Washington believe that former Sen. Scott Brown (R), who lost a close race to Elizabeth Warren (D) in November, is the most likely Republican candidate, but speculations still abound on potential Democratic candidates for the position.
December 19, 2012
Senator Leahy (D-VT) announced today that he would stay on as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee rather than moving to head to powerful Appropriations committee, a position that we left vacant with the death of Senator Inouye (D-HI). CNN is reporting that Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) will instead chair that committee, becoming the first women to do so.
Senator Leahy’s full statement: “Chairing the Judiciary Committee and maintaining my seniority on the Appropriations Committee will allow me to protect both the Constitution and Vermont.”
A group of bi-partisan community leaders, religious groups, businesses and others have come together under the leadership of Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and former Senator Hank Brown, a Republican, to craft a comprehensive approach to immigration policy entitled “The Colorado Compact.” This Compact is even more significant as Senator Bennet (D-CO) will play an important role in immigration reform negotiations as a member of the “Gang of Eight” bi-partisan group of Senators working on the issue.
The results from the most recent CBS Poll from Dec. 12-16 mirror those from other major national polling outlets signaling that most Americans want to put aspiring citizens without legal status on the road to citizenship.
The CBS polls asked adults nationwide: "Which comes closest to your view about illegal immigrants who are currently working in the U.S.? They should be allowed to stay in their jobs and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. OR, They should be allowed to stay in their jobs only as guest workers, but not to apply for U.S. citizenship. OR, They should be required to leave their jobs and leave the U.S."
47% Allowed to stay and apply for citizenship
24% Stay, but only as guest workers
27% Forced to leave the U.S.
3% Unsure/No answer
December 18, 2012
Representative Goodlatte (R-VA), the incoming Chair of the House Judiciary Committee announced today Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) as his selection to head the Sub Committee on Immigration and Border Security. Rep. Gowdy came into Congress in the “Tea Party” wave of 2010 ousting the incumbent Republican from the South Carolina 4th district in the primary before going on to handily beat his Democratic opponent. Currently Rep. Gowdy does not include immigration as a priority issue on his official Congressional website.
Judiciary Chair Rep. Goodlatte is a member of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and states on his official Congressional website: “Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom and the rule of law. However, illegal immigration mocks that law and our system of justice.”
December 18, 2012
On Monday, December 17, 2012 Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the longest serving Senator in the Senate, died at the age of 88. Senator Inouye was the Chair of the Senate Appropriations committee, a position which Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, now the most senior member of the Senate, looks poised to take over. This would mean that Sen. Leahy would give up his position as chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, potentially paving the way for California Senator Dianne Feinstein to take the gavel of that committee.
December 17, 2012
NPR kicks of a multi-day focus on immigration reform with guest Senator-elect Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a member of the bi-partisan group of Senators working on an immigration deal.
DAVID GREENE (NPR Host): The nation's Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for President Obama and pushed immigration to near the top of the legislative agenda.
SENATOR-ELECT JEFF FLAKE: Well, there's nothing like a big election loss to focus the mind.
December 16, 2012
Although many expect Senator Rubio (R-FL) to play an important and on-going role in any debate on immigration reform next year, so far he has been largely quiet on the issue except in calling for a step by step approach rather than a comprehensive bill. According to a Tampa Bay Times article this is in direct contrast to his Republican colleague in the House, also from Florida, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) who is quietly working with Democratic Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA) on a comprehensive approach.
December 12, 2012
Today Senator Reid announced the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The only new Democrat to join the committee will be Senator-elect Mazie Hirono (D-HI). Mazie Hirono, the first female Senator from Hawaii and a Japan-born immigrant, currently serves in the House of Representatives and joined AILA members last year as a luncheon speaker at the National Day of Action.
Senator Tom Carper of Delaware was Harry Reid’s choice to lead the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee replacing retiring Independent Senator Joe Lieberman (CT). Sen. Carper will be joined by two new members Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND). This committee is responsible for border security and terrorist and cyber-attacks.
The Republican Senate appointments have not yet been made public.
December 7, 2012
A bi-partisan group of Senators, four Republicans and four Democrats, have begun holding private discussions on immigration reform proposals for the 113th Congress. The Republicans include Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) John McCain (AZ), Mike Lee (UT) and Senator-elect Jeff Flake (AZ). The Democrats are represented by Senators Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Bob Menendez (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO).
December 6, 2012
On 11/28/12 the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a statement entitled: "One Nation: Principles on Immigration Reform and Our Commitment to the American Dream" outlining their priorities for any comprehensive immigration reform package. (AILA Doc. No. 12112842)
A couple of key things to note are the importance placed on attracting and retaining foreign students in the STEM fields and the inclusion of bi-national, same sex couples as critical when addressing the family backlogs.
December 6, 2012
On 11/30/12 The House of Representatives debated and voted on a modified version of H.R. 6429, the STEM Jobs Act (AILA Doc. No. 12092053). H.R. 6429 passed by a vote of 245 - 139. The measure then moved to Senate for possible consideration where it is not expected to come up for a vote.
The White House issued a "Statement of Administration Policy" opposing H.R. 6429 because: "the Administration does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President's long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform," reaffirming the President's commitment to working with Congress to create a common sense immigration process.