December 23, 2013
As ICE released the official removal numbers for fiscal year 2013 last week, Buzzfeed takes a closer look at the hardships faced by Mexican nationals returning "home," often ending up in border towns like Tijuana, Nogales and Juarez. "While the impacts of deportation on America may seemingly end at the border, for the deported - in Tijuana, for instance, deportation rates range from 200 to 500 repatriated Mexican citizens every day, while in Nogales 50, 150, or more - it means a whole new set of life-threatening challenges."
The front page of the New York Times today highlighted how "In New Orleans, street sweeps by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this year also led to a protest. On Nov. 14, nearly two dozen demonstrators, including 14 immigrants without legal status, tied up midday traffic at one of the city's busiest intersections for nearly three hours until the local police arrested them."
Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, offers some pearls of wisdom for new DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. Here are the highlights of her advice: 1. "real security balances protection and benefits," 2. "the immigration responsibilities entrusted to DHS are not simply a matter of keeping 'bad' people out of the country," 3. "DHS risks alienating state partners if it insists on removal policies that destroy families and communities," 4. "pressing for immigration reform should become part of DHS culture," and 5. "the opportunity to create a national immigration policy is now."
United We DREAM has launched the DACA Renewal Network that offers customized reminders and notifications for those who sign up when the renewal window approaches.
December 20, 2013
In an interview today with NPR President Obama expressed frustration at the lack of movement on immigration reform: "The fact that it didn't hit the timeline that I'd prefer is frustrating, but it's not something I brood about."
At the same time, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told The Hill that he saw a way forward for an immigration bill to pass through the House by next summer. "Noting that Boehner has made it 'abundantly clear' that he'd like to move immigration bills, Cole said that 'we just saw a budget deal that made progress that brought people together from both sides from very different perspectives and I suspect that can be done on immigration as well.'"
Alejandro Mayorkas is officially now the number two official at the Department of Homeland Security. In a vote early this morning, the Senate confirmed him on a 54-41 vote. AILA National President Doug Stump commented on the confirmation: "Mr. Mayorkas has led U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since August, 2009 and has overseen the implementation of numerous initiatives, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the provisional waivers policy…It is heartening to have a Deputy Secretary with such a strong background in immigration issues who can serve as a resource for the DHS components who hold primary immigration law responsibility." (AILA Doc. No. 13122048.)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey legislature have reached an agreement to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students. Governor Christie had previously threatened to veto the bill, but after the Legislature made changes to the bill, signed the bill into law. "The most important thing is for these young men and women of our state, who we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education, we're now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education."
Everyone's talking about the drop in removal numbers for FY2013 by ICE, but Immigration Impact explains why the New ICE Deportation Statistics Are No Cause for Celebration."
The Center for American Progress has compiled the Best of Immigration Progress: 2013.
December 19, 2013
ICE officially released their removal numbers today--from October 2012 through September 2013 ICE removed another 368,644 individuals. (AILA Doc. No. 13121950). Although this is the first time in five years of the Obama administration that the numbers have dropped from the previous year, the Obama administration still far exceeds predecessors not only in overall removal numbers but also in detention numbers and criminal prosecutions for immigration-related offenses. Watch AILA Advocacy Direction Greg Chen explain why these removal numbers are misleading. (AILA Doc. No. 13121944.)
On a related note, newly confirmed DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, had some words about his opposition to deportation quotas in a letter he sent to Senator Durbin (D-IL). "I do not believe that deportation quotas or numeric goals are a good idea. As I stated above, in my view, immigration enforcement must be focused first on those who pose a threat to our national security, public safety and the integrity of our borders. If confirmed, I intend to continually evaluate the prosecutorial discretion guidelines of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure they are consistent with the Department's enforcement priorities."
The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project released the results of a survey today that indicate that "among Hispanics, a larger share say it is more important that unauthorized immigrants be able to live and work in the U.S. without threat of deportation than say they should have a pathway to citizenship-55% vs. 35%. This view is more pronounced among immigrant Hispanics than it is among native-born Hispanics."
This month the Congressional Budget Office released the cost estimate for the so-called SAFE Act (H.R. 2278). (AILA Doc. Nos. 13121942 and 13060654.) "CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2278 would cost $22.9 billion over the 2014-2018 period."
The Real Cost of Inaction on Immigration profiles the number of deportations that have occurred since the Senate bill passed, and the newly eligible Asian, Latino and immigrant voters, respectively 196,058 and 40,536,927 as of 5:30pm ET.
This Sunday, December 22nd, new network Fusion will air a one-hour special examining "the battle at the border between U.S. and Mexico and profile some of the people whose lives have been affected by this hot button issue." The special will be hosted by Mariana Van Zeller.
December 18, 2013
In exciting news this week in TPS, the Philippine government made an official request of the United States for Temporary Protected Status for its citizens in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Immigration attorney and AILA member Rio Guerrero explains what's happening right now in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13121642.)
Alejandro Mayorkas looks to get a full Senate vote on his confirmation sometime in the next 24-48 hours after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) formally filed cloture on his nomination. Due to the change in executive nomination Senate rules the Republicans will not be able to filibuster the nomination and it will move forward for a vote.
`Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and aspiring American Jose Antonio Vargas has just launched a new effort to unite people in the push for immigration reform. He explains his effort to encourage Americans to embrace the symbol of a hand over a heart and take the Pledge this way: "I've been pledging allegiance since middle school, to a flag and government that have yet to recognize me. This new symbol is a sign of unity-a reminder that as Americans, both documented and undocumented, we stand together in the fight for immigration reform."
Two and a half years ago the Alabama state government passed the toughest anti-immigrant law in the United States, HB 56. After a series of legal challenges, outcries from the business, faith and law enforcement community, and a change in the national conversation (and attitudes) around immigration and immigrants in the United States, the law remains in tatters. (AILA Doc. No. 12032163.) Benjy Sarlin, for MSNBC, examines How America's harshest immigration law failed. "Early reports suggested success: undocumented immigrants appeared to flee Alabama en masse. But two years later, HB 56 is in ruins. Its most far-reaching elements have proved unconstitutional, unworkable, or politically unsustainable. Elected officials, social workers, clergy, activists, and residents say an initial immigrant evacuation that roiled their communities ended long ago. Many who fled have returned to their old homes. Now Alabama is back where it started, waiting for a solution from Washington that may never come."
As localities around the country are pushing back against authoring ICE detainer holds, the Immigration Policy Center released a primer on The Faulty Legal Arguments Being Immigration Detainers. The author, Christopher Lasch, Esq., argues that "detainers are invalid in many instances for the same reason the Supreme Court struck down numerous parts of SB 1070-they permit law enforcement action inconsistent with laws enacted by Congress. Moreover, as Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion also makes clear, the use of immigration detainers raises serious problems under the Fourth Amendment, which requires state and local law enforcement officials to have 'probable cause' that a person has violated the law before placing him or her under arrest or extending the period of custody."
December 17, 2013
Yesterday, in a 78-16 vote, the full Senate confirmed Jeh Johson as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. AILA President Doug Stump commented: “Secretary Johnson takes the reins of DHS at a crucial time in the department's history -a time when no issue is more important than modernizing our immigration laws. Our nation is on the cusp of immigration reform, and we look forward to working with the Secretary to find a way to meet our national security needs while affirming the fundamental values and rights on which our country was founded.” (AILA Doc. No. 13121742.) President Obama commented as well: “In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure.” (AILA Doc. No. 13121760.)
Bloomberg Businessweek today announced that “Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law.” They report that “the government deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show. If that pace continued through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, removals would reach a six-year low.”
December 16, 2013
Late last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a budget deal agreed to by Republican leaders from the House and Democratic leaders from the Senate. Although the deal was championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) it still drew the ire of many Tea Party Representatives and a umber of outside advocacy groups; this was enough to incite Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to share some choice words about the motivations of these parties. "Frankly, I think they're misleading their followers. I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility."
This statement by the Speaker, along with the bipartisan budget deal, have pundits and Representatives on both sides of the aisle thinking immigration reform might be a possibility in 2014. Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, is certainly one of those, telling MSNBC: "The speaker also wants to clear the way for immigration reform next year. He's been very clear about it." Rep. Luis Gutierrez seems to share the same viewpoint, although with a decidedly more encouraged outlook: "I am still optimistic about the prospects for immigration reform in 2014 because immigration reform is easier than the budget. There is much more consensus among voters and among members of Congress in both parties."
Today, at 5:30pm, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security, immediately followed by a final vote of confirmation. Last week, in a response to questions raised during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Johnson sent a five page letter to Senate Republicans detailing his support for the Senate immigration reform bill, S.744. "I believe reform must be comprehensive and include provisions that allow the federal government to continue efforts to strengthen border security, target employers who hire undocumented workers, and modernize the immigration system itself."
Van Le, of America's Voice, takes a look back at the year in immigration reform. Moving month by month she chronicles the deep and diverse coalition built over the last 12 months, the rallies, protests, prayers, lobby visits, Senate vote, and other activities that have defined an amazing year in immigration reform advocacy.
And checkout Buzzfeed's collection of the 60 best immigration reform pictures of the year.
DRM Action Coalition has posted the transcript of an unaired portion of a Telemundo interview with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Most notably, Leader Pelosi calls for "action from the president" on deportations: "If your only violation is you overstayed or came in in a certain way, that's no reason to split a family." And we have seen the personal stories. And we presented them to the administration. So I think- I'm hopeful that with the documentation that we are providing to counter what others may be saying about who's being deported, that we will see action from the president."
December 13, 2013
Yesterday, over 1000 immigration reform advocates stormed Capitol Hill on the last day of the 2013 session for the House of Representatives. Advocates sat in in over 200 Republican offices and joined dozens of Representatives on the steps of the Capital in a press conference to demand a vote on immigration reform in 2014. Later, in a rally on the National Mall, advocates heard from the long term fasters and the Fast for Families campaign announced they would be moving on the next phase of the campaign and taking down the tents from the Mall.
Julia Preston, in an article in the New York Times, comments that although "an immigration overhaul has seemed close to death in the House more than once in recent months…a unified Democratic minority and an array of persistent supporters of a comprehensive bill have made it difficult for Republican leaders to sweep the issue aside." And in an editorial for CNN, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) issues a challenge to Speaker Boehner (R-OH): "I stand with the fasters calling on Boehner to lead, and help pass immigration reform. I challenge him to live up to the American people's expectations and to honor their wishes -- to stop listening to those in the Republican Party who oppose immigration reform and to do what is right. This is not a political issue, it's a human issue and delaying a vote is immoral."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network, to talk immigration amongst other things (fast forward to 4:40 to see the immigration remakrs). Here's a tidbit of what he had to say: "The leadership has been working with us very closely on that, including Speaker Boehner, who was very helpful about a month ago in making it absolutely clear that not only will we not take up the Senate G8 amnesty bill that you just described, but we will not even conference with it after we do our work in the step-by- step reforms that address enforcement of our immigration laws first, doing legal immigration reforms, and then finding an appropriate legal status but not a special pathway to citizenship for people who are illegally in the country. We're going to stick to that. I have every confidence that we can work with the leaders and their staff to continue down that track, and that's where we should stay. No bill is better than a bad bill, and the Senate bill is very bad."
Jorge Ramos, of Univision fame, interviewed New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg on his new show, America, on the Fusion network. Mayor Bloomberg had some strong words for those holding up immigration reform in Congress: "We're selling our birthright here. We're creating industries overseas we'll never get back to America, we have crops in the fields that rot because there's no people to pick those crops." He emphasized that not reforming the immigration system is "national suicide."
On a related note, last week Mr. Ramos appeared on The Daily Show and made the case for President Obama to halt deportations while Congress is debating immigration reform, calling it a "contradictory" position for the President to take.
December 12, 2013
Today, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, held a hearing in the full committee on: "Asylum Abuse: Is it Overwhelming our Borders?" (AILA Doc. No. 13121246.) This was not the first time that Rep. Goodlatte questioned the legitimacy of the asylum system, in September he sent a letter to outgoing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano raising concerns about the high levels of asylum seekers at the Southern border. The hearing went, unfortunately, as expected, with many of the Republicans Representatives present seeming to attack the asylum system for being ripe with fraud and abuse. Democrat Representatives Gutierrez (IL) and Lofgren (CA) both spoke to importance of the asylum and refugee systems as reinforcing America's role as a beacon of hope for many in the rest of the world. This Immigration Impact blog dissects how the "House Hearing Misses the Mark on Asylum Claims."
Earlier this week Democratic Representatives Garcia (FL) and Polis (CO) sent a letter to eight House Republicans inviting them to debate the issue on the floor of the House. The eight Republican members they targeted, Reps. King (IA), Brooks (AL), Stockman (TX), Fleming (LA), Barletta (PA), Smith (R-TX), Gohmert (TX) and Gosar (AZ), have all at some point advocated for some of the most extreme restriction oriented measures on immigration reform. Reps. Garcia and Polis acknowledge this in their invitation: "While we certainly do not agree with your views, we appreciate your willingness-unlike many of your Republican colleagues in the house of Representatives-to directly engage in the important debate about the future of our nation's immigration system."
Using data from Latino Decisions polling and the Immigration Policy Center research, America's Voice has compiled the top 45 Republicans in the House who are facing important elections come November 2014 and who could sway the debate on immigration reform in the House. They break down each member's voting district and their public stances on immigration reform.
December 11, 2013
Yesterday, 160+ AILA members and staff took part in a 24 hour fast to urge the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform this year. (AILA Doc. No. 13121040.) AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams and American Immigration Council Executive Director Ben Johnson both participated. See a collection of photos, tweets and Facebook posts from the members participating in the #AILAFast4Reform.
Jennifer Minear, member of the AILA Board of Governors, details her experience participating in the fast in her AILA Leadership Blog, "Hungry for Reform." She ends by recounting how she ended her fast by dining at her favorite Indian restaurant and acknowledging that "the emptiness in [her] belly will be replaced by a fire - a fire to continue raising [her] voice on behalf of the voiceless and calling on House Leadership to move us forward on immigration reform."
Alejandro Mayorkas' confirmation moved ahead yesterday as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee voted on a straight party line to move him from committee to the floor of the Senate. The nuclear option invoked by Senate Democrats a few weeks ago might make this confirmation easier, but many Republicans are opposing Mr. Mayorkas' nomination on the grounds that he is currently under investigation by the inspector general.
December 10, 2013
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Northern Virginia Daily that hopes that immigration reform will be voted on in 2014. "We don't know when that will be, but we hope it will be sometime next year."
Yesterday, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and SEIU's Eliseo Medina appeared on MSNBC to discuss why they both fasted as part of the Fast for Families campaign and why they still have hope for immigration reform in 2014.
The Center for American Progress provides a comprehensive breaking down "Making Sense of the Senate and House's Visions of Immigration Reform." The issue brief covers the five major components of reform legislation: the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, border security, interior enforcement, E-Verify, and legal immigration.
December 9, 2013
Tomorrow, AILA and AIC staff will be joined by over 100 AILA members from around the country in a 24 hour fast for immigration reform. Join us in our 24 hour fast and follow along on AILA's Twitter feed (#AILAFast4Reform) and our AILA Facebook page.
Starting on November 12th, four core leaders from labor, immigrant and faith groups began a 22 day long fast for immigration reform that ended just last week. These fasters inspired many around the country, including the President and First Lady, the Vice President, Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem, Dolores Huerta and others to D.C. to visit the Fast for Families
tent on the National Mall. Over five hundred organizations have taken on, or will be taking on, solidarity fasts like the one AILA and AIC will be participating in tomorrow, to show commitment and dedication to the cause of immigration reform, while also applying pressure on leadership in the House of Representatives to act.
Last week, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) revealed some of the details of legislation he is working on that would provide a road to citizenship for some DREAMers. "Under Heck's legislation, immigrants who can prove they entered the country as children would go into conditional resident status, effective on the first day they enroll in one of four citizenship-earning activities - pursuit of a college degree at either a two- or four-year institution; military service; pursuit of a registered apprenticeship; or pursuit of certification through a vocational tech school… Conditional resident status for immigrants pursuing the required courses of study or service would last six years with an option of renewing that status for another six years. But those who enroll in the program would not be required to wait the full six years to apply for citizenship; their permanent residency would cease being conditional as soon as they successfully complete a certification program."
A few days later, Saturday, December 7th, he penned an Op-Ed for the Las Vegas Sun
, seeking to clarify his stance on immigration and immigration reform. he speaks to the need to ramp up enforcement and implement E-Verify, while also providing a road to legalization for those already here. He ends with this: "I truly believe Republicans and Democrats must come together to address these important issues and put aside petty partisan politics. This is about people, people I have met and know, and people with whom I have shared my own family's immigration story. If we can put aside the constant desire to inflict political pain or gain advantage, we can get this done. That is my hope and will remain my focus."
December 6, 2013
Earlier this week, Tuesday to be specific, the three long term, core fasters on the National Mall passed on their fasts to other reform advocates. Today, in an Opinion piece on CNN.com, Eliseo Medina explains why he didn't eat for 22 days. "I ended my fast and passed the charge to a new generation of advocates. Congressman Joe Kennedy, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who had once sat shoulder to shoulder with my late friend Cesar Chavez almost half a century ago, stood before me with the fortitude embodied in our growing movement for immigration reform. It was a poignant reminder of both the length and the direction of the moral arc of the universe."
Last month, celebrity chef Jose Andres became a U.S. citizens after 23 years in America. In honor of the occasion he penned an Opinion piece for the Washington Post exploring his roots as an immigrant, and the immigrants he's worked with through the years. "As immigrants, we understand better than most that to be an American is a privilege that conveys not just rights but responsibilities. Some of those responsibilities are pledging allegiance to our flag, obeying our laws and learning a new language. But we also have an obligation to give something back - to enrich the American mosaic with our unique cultures, traditions and ideas. It is for this reason I plan to reopen my restaurant, America Eats in a new location in celebration of the culinary contributions that immigrants have stirred into our nation's ever-churning melting pot."
Politico reports today on the shifting pressure placed on the executive branch by reform advocates as the House of Representatives continues to stall on taking up reform legislation. Most notably highlighted with Ju Hong's cry for an end to deportations during the President's speech on immigration in San Francisco to the increased coverage of the deportation numbers being released shortly. The White House has stood firm that the "only way to advance any immigration agenda is through Congress-not by pressuring the president," but immigration reform advocates are not necessarily convinced.
December 5, 2013
Today, the Immigration Evangelical Table released a series of print and radio ads asking people to pray for Speaker Boehner to make the right decision and pursue immigration reform. The print ads, which wrapped around a free daily paper in D.C., had a simple message for the Speaker: "Praying for you, Speaker Boehner. #Pray4Reform." The radio ads feature a number of different leader evangelical leaders and will play on 30 Christian radio stations in Southern California, Texas and North Carolina.
Yesterday, several members of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives called on President Obama"to pause the deportations of undocumented immigrants and create an application process for eligible migrants and residents hoping to stay in the country." 28 members of Congress, all Democrats, signed on to a letter urging the President to "contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA."
AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen sits down to talk about "Immigration Reform Prospects as Year Ends," in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13120546.)
December 4, 2013
Yesterday, The Hill ran a special Op-Ed section on immigration reform, highlighting four different voices on the topic. Those included Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), one of only three Republicans currently signed on to HR 15, Democratic champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL), AILA's own Executive Committee member, Annaluisa Padilla, and the president of FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), Dan Stein.
Yesterday, both Rev. Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow included coverage of the Fast for Families event on the National Mall. While Rev. Sharpton spoke of his own experience being on the Mall with the fasters earlier in the day, Rachel Maddow had Erika Andiola on as a guest. Ms. Andiola, a prominent DREAMer, just announced she would be leaving her position as a staffer in a U.S. Representative's office to help her family fight her mother's deportation.
December 3, 2013
Today, in a ceremony and press conference on the National Mall, the four core fasters who have gone 22 days with only water passed on their fasts to others in the community. Joined by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Reverend Al Sharpton, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a dozen or so other elected officials, and hundreds of reform advocates, the fasters handed off their fast and were then taken to a local hospital to undergo medical evaluations. Eliseo Medina, of SEIU, handed off his fast to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), while others handed off their fasts to members of the faith community and DREAMers. Visit the Fast4Families Twitter page for pictures and video from the event.
During the last three weeks the fasters were visited by everyone from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, to feminist icon Gloria Steinem and labor leader Dolores Huerta. Advocates and immigrants from around the country are picking up the mantle and committing to joining the fast for short periods of time to demonstrate their support for immigration reform.
In staffing news, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) made a hiring choice that hopefully speaks to his seriousness to address immigration reform in the new year. Roll Call reports that "Rebecca Tallent, who currently serves as director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), will join Boehner's staff on Wednesday. Before joining the BPC, Tallent held several senior staff positions with Sen. John McCain, including chief of staff."
A bipartisan group of 12 members of Congress have signed onto a letter to President Obama urging him to implement final Department of Homeland Security PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) regulations. (AILA Doc. No. 13120349.) They outline four areas of concern, that were also highlighted in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report: 1. ICE headquarters fails to receive reports of all sexual abuse and assault allegations, 2. incomplete documentation of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and assault, 3. varying sexual abuse and assault standards and inconsistent information about the applicability of such standards, and 4. dangers faced by immigration detainees housed in segregation. (AILA Doc. No. 13112136.)
Today, King County, Washington, passed Ordinance 2013-085 mandating the County to only honor ICE detainer (hold) requests for individuals that have been convicted, not simply charged, with serious, violent, sex and gun crimes, or two or more serious traffic (primarily DUI) offenses. (AILA Doc. No. 13120345.) OneAmerica, an immigration advocacy group based in Seattle, argues that this "ordinance will increase civil liberties protections for all King County residents, improving public safety and community policing efforts that are jeopardized when local law enforcement gets entangled with federal immigration policy."
In an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch, House Majority Leader and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor listed immigration as one of his main priorities for the new year. "Cantor said one of his priorities will be incremental improvements in the country's broken immigration system, beginning with the Kids Act, which would create a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children. 'We should not be holding kids liable for the acts of their parents.'"
America's Voice and CAMBIO released a new ad today outlining their opposition to the SAFE Act. The ad highlights the similarities between policies in the SAFE Act and the failed policies of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
December 2, 2013
Republican Representative Joe Heck (NV) announced his own attempts to try to get something moving in the House of Representatives on immigration reform. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Rep. Heck is shopping "a draft bill that seeks to grant a citizenship path to young people…who were in the United States as of Dec. 31, 2011, and who were 15 or younger when they arrived." The DREAMer advocacy group United We Dream welcomed Rep. Heck into the debate, but ultimately concluded that "if he is serious about advancing a solution for DREAMers and our families, he can start by signing onto H.R. 15 and demanding that his party's leadership stop blocking a vote on immigration reform."
Another Republican Representative from the West, David Valadao of California, is circulating a letter to his Republican colleagues calling on leadership to ensure that "immigration reform be considered on the floor during the 113th Congress." No word so far on how many Republicans have joined Rep. Valadao on the letter.
Last Friday, President Obama, and First Lady, Michelle Obama, took time to visit the advocates currently fasting on the National Mall for immigration reform. The President and First Lady met with the fasters informally for about 30 minutes and press were not present. The White House did release a statement after the meeting: "The President told them that it is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon. He said that the only thing standing in the way is politics, and it is the commitment to change from advocates like these brave fasters that will help pressure the House to finally act."
As of today the four core fasters have gone 21 days without food.
November 27, 2013
Buzzfeed reports that the Irish government is taking an active role in lobbying Congress for a reform of our immigration laws. Anne Anderson, the Irish ambassador to the United States, "has the backing of the Irish parliament and head of government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny-and she's spent a considerable amount of that time talking to [House Republicans] about immigration reform."
The President's interaction with a DREAMer at his immigration reform speech in San Francisco on Monday has renewed calls for the President to exercise discretion and halt deportations. Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia who served in the Obama administration as deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, joined PBS Newshour to debate the merits of arguments that the President has the authority to halt deportations.
Mary Giovagnolli, in an Immigration Impact blog, provides tips to preserve harmony at the Thanksgiving table by making the case for immigration reform.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is on record supporting the DREAM Act, but on Monday night he said that he would not sign the state DREAM Act the New Jersey State Senate has just passed. He explains, "They're overreaching and making it unsignable and making the benefits richer than the federal program, the federal Dream Act, that's simply not acceptable for me."
November 26, 2013
Colorado Republican Congressman Scott Tipton has been hearing from a variety of interests groups on the need for immigration reform. The most recent calls for reform came from representatives from the construction, hospitality and ski industries that Rep. Tipton represents in Aspen, Colorado. Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction, and a registered Republicans commented, "We need to stop letting the far right wing of the [Republican party] hijack what is right for America."
The New York Times offers a unfiltered look into the new private detention center that just opened in California. The Adelanto Detention Facility is the "newest and largest facility in California" and can house 1200 detainees.
CNN lays out the "4 ways immigration reform still could happen-or not:" 1. Obamacare works preventing immigration from being on the backburner, 2. Finding the sweet spot in next year's calendar to work with elections, not against them, 3. Mending hurt feelings on the issue so that it really can be bipartisan, and 4. Finding enough Republican support to outweigh the opponents.
November 25, 2013
President Obama talked immigration reform today to a packed crowd at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. During his speech calling on Congress to take action quickly, one audience member interrupted the President and asked him to use an "executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 [million] undocumented immigrants in this country." The protester continued, "You have a power to stop deportations for all undocumented families." The President replied, "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition. And, so, the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws."
House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA) was on Face the Nation yesterday and had this to say about the prospects for immigration reform: "Immigration reform is going to happen. But it's going to happen in a step-by-step method. And I will tell you the president came out and supported that the other day, saying the role that the Republicans want to do, and Republicans have passed a number of bills outside of committee. So we are in movement. We have a broken process, the immigration system, it is broken, it needs to be fixed, 42 percent of everyone that is here illegally came here legally. We need to fix this system."
Rep. McCarthy wasn't the only one talking immigration this weekend. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) joined a pro-immigration reform rally and went on the record as supporting an "earned pathways to citizenship." He told supporters: "we need some help getting (immigration reform) to the front of the line. We started, but we hoped to finish with the House work this year. With two more weeks of floor time, that's doubtful this will happen this year."
Today, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a new poll to answer: "What Americans (Still) Want From Immigration Reform." They found that "today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and roughly 1-in-5 (18%) favor a policy that would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally. This support for a path to citizenship has remained unchanged from earlier this year, when in both March and August 2013 an identical number (63%) supported a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally."
Fox News Analyst Juan Williams recently met with the pro-immigration reform advocates currently fasting on the National Mall and explains the math in favor of immigration reform in an opinion column in The Hill. "If Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put the Senate's immigration bill to a vote in the House, it wins. The math is pretty simple. It will take 218 votes to pass it. All 200 Democrats are on board as well as three Republican co-sponsors. Odds heavily favor getting 15 of the remaining 229 Republicans in the House to join the bandwagon. Fourteen of 45 Republicans in the Senate supported reform."
Starting December 9th the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will be hosting refugee representatives from every state in Washington, D.C. for the Refugee Congress. The Refugee Congress advocates for improving the protection and lives of refugees here and around the world by speaking on behalf of the millions of refugees who have begun new lives in the United States and ensuring that those who are still in need of protection are not forgotten.
November 22, 2013
Yesterday, in an AILA Leadership Blog, AILA president Doug Stump laments Speaker Boehner's lack of leadership on immigration reform in the House of Representatives. To that end Mr. Stump and AILA Executive Director, Crystal Williams, sent a letter to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) expressing their "disappointment that the House of Representatives has yet to bring any immigration reform bills to the House for a vote." (AILA Doc. No. 13112053.) They continued, "we are concerned by the marked shift in tone by House Leadership since the government shut-down indicating an intention not to address immigration reform this calendar year."
On November 15, USCIS announced in a policy memorandum that it will allow undocumented immigrants in the United States who are close relatives of U.S. service members and veterans to stay in the U.S. lawfully while they pursue green cards. This AILA Quicktake features Margaret Stock, an AILA member and recent recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, speaking about the change in policy. (AILA Doc. Nos. 13112240 and 13092548.)
FWD.us's DREAMer Hackathon finished up last night, and the preliminary results seem fairly outstanding. Everything from a visualization application that allows users to create their own story line visual path to a social network for DREAMers.
The Atlantic Magazine tries to answer the question, "What Happened to Immigration Reform." They sum up advocates frustrations nicely: "The reformers' frustration is palpable, as is their confusion. They can't fathom why Boehner has so stubbornly resisted bringing up legislation he seems to favor in principle; that has enough bipartisan support to pass; and that, while strongly opposed by some on the right, seems unlikely to ignite a backlash among either conservative members of Congress or Republican primary voters. It's a situation whose perplexing dimensions parallel the October government shutdown."
One year ago, AILA participated in Detention Watch Network's campaign to "Expose and Close" ten of the worst detention centers in the country. See where the campaign is one year later in this report.
Yesterday, the President nominated John Roth, of Michigan, to be Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security. Roth is currently the director of the FDA's office of criminal investigations. The post has been lacking a permanent conferee since February 2011.
November 21, 2013
In a press conference today, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) announced that immigration reform was not dead. He went on to say "I believe the Congress needs to deal with this," he said. "Our committees are continuing to do their work. There are a lot of private conversations that are under way to try to figure out how do we best move on a common-sense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue. Because it is a very important issue."
Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their report: "Immigration Detention: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse." (AILA Doc. 13112136.) PBS Frontline reports on the ongoing struggles of the agency and "Why Immigrant Detainees Still Aren't Safe from Abuse."
Today, in a historic vote, the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 to change the filibuster rules for all Presidential nominees except to the Supreme Court. Previously, all nominees had been subject to the higher 60 vote threshold in order to overcome any potential filibuster, but with the change in rules approved today Presidential nominees will only need 51 votes to be confirmed. This could have a big impact on the President's nomination of Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security-potentially paving the way for a much quicker confirmation than previously expected. However, at least three Republican Senators have placed holds on his nomination. One of those is Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-IA), who led the opposition to S.744 in the Spring. He stated yesterday: "we asked if he would cooperate with us on oversight matters and work with us to improve immigration policies going forward. We have not yet received a response from Mr. Johnson."
Republicans for Immigration Reform released a new ad highlighting the positive comments Republican state governors have made in support of immigration reform.
Yesterday, Julia Preston, of the NY Times, asserted that "Illegal Immigrants Are Divided Over Importance of Citizenship," presenting two sides of a complex and often emotional subject. Is something on reform better than nothing for aspiring Americans? And what are the effects to the country and to the individual of providing legal status with no hope of citizenship?
The FrameWorks Institute, an independent nonprofit that advances science-based communications research and practice, released a set of messaging recommendations based on a recent experiment they conducted to "design the best communication strategy for" the immigration reform contest. They sought to answer three questions about messaging around this debate: what is the best way for supporters to reform to enter the conversation, what should supporters say when challenged by the opposition, and what is the most productive overall narrative for reform.
A new poll in Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) district shows that constituents want him to take action on immigration reform. "According to the results, 82% of likely 2014 voters-including 85% of Republicans-support legislation similar to HR 15 that would increase border security, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants and make sure undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. pass a criminal background check and register for legal status."
November 20, 2013
Today, DREAMers from around the country arrived in Silicon Valley, CA to begin the DREAMer Hackathon sponsored by FWD.us. Theses DREAMers will work with experienced mentors to build out prototypes of products to aid the immigration reform movement. Follow along using the Twitter hashtag #DREAMerHack.
Former Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, Carlos Gutierrez, wrote an Editorial for Arizona Central today imploring House Republicans that “immigration reform can be a winning issue for Republicans.” Mr. Gutierrez, who is also the national chairman of Republicans for Immigration Reform, goes on to say that words are not enough. “Members of Congress have made encouraging statements recently about the need for reform. But celebrating and unlocking American possibility requires more than promising words. House Republican leaders need to find a way to move immigration reform forward and create a process that provides broad certainty for our nation’s businesses and communities.”
Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky (D) and Rev. Jesse Jackson have both pledged to abstain from food in solidarity with the fasters currently entering their 10th day of fasting on the National Mall. The Fast for Families movement has had visits from Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Gloria Steinem, among others, showing their support for immigration reform and the movement.
November 19, 2013
Big news today, President Obama is copasetic with the House passing piecemeal legislation, rather than a comprehensive bill. “If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like,” he said at a Wall Street Journal forum.
Want to know what’s happening near you in support of immigration reform? ImmigrationNow.or provides daily updates of local and national events, plus other information about the immigration reform movement.
In a story on National Public Radio today, they asked listeners to “Imagine your city council telling the police department how many people it had to keep in jail each night.” That is exactly what the detention bed mandate, passed by Congress, forces the Department of Homeland Security to do.
Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to receive Washington, D.C. drivers licenses. Immigration Impact provides a full account of this bill and the 11 other states that allow undocumented immigrants to receive drivers licenses.
November 18, 2013
Former Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney went on CBS Morning last Friday to talk about life one year after the elections. During his reflections he acknowledged a significant shortcoming of his campaign, appealing to minority voters. He went on to take a somewhat different stance on immigration than he had during the campaign when he advocated "self-deportation": "I don't think those who come here illegally should jump to the front of the line, or be given a special deal -- be rewarded for coming here illegally -- but they should have a chance, just like anybody else, to get in line and become a citizen if they'd like to do so."
The Center for American Progress shows us how small the opposition to immigration reform really is in a new infographic released last week. FWD.us got in on the game too by releasing a set of television commercials (one in English and one in Spanish) highlighting the bipartisan nature of reform by including quotes from leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Tomorrow, the We Belong Together campaign will host an online conversation with Gloria Steinem discussing the "evolution of the women's movement and why feminists must be involved in the struggle for immigration reform." Ms. Steinem will be joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the only immigrant Senator and a champion of the most women-friendly provisions of the Senate immigration bill. Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #WomenTogether.
November 15, 2013
USCIS announced today in a policy memorandum that it will allow undocumented immigrants in the United States who are close relatives of active military troops and veterans to stay and move toward becoming permanent residents. (AILA Doc. No. 13111545.) Immigration Impact explains: "the memo indicates that the noncitizen family members may be afforded 'parole in place.' 'Parole in place' is a discretionary tool that allows a noncitizen who is in the United States without authorization to remain here, at least temporarily. The memo says that 'absent a criminal conviction or other serious adverse factors,' spouses, children and parents of active duty members, members of the reserves, and veterans should be granted parole in one-year increments. The new guidance also clarifies that some individuals granted "parole in place" may be eligible to apply for permanent residency (i.e., adjust status), if they are otherwise eligible."
President Obama's DHS Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson went in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee this morning as the next step in his confirmation process. (AILA Doc. No. 13111345.) While most on the committee, Republicans and Democrats alike, seemed to be indicating they would support his nomination, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was a notable exception. Sen. McCain's objection came after Mr. Johnson refused to give a satisfactory answer to his request for a guarantee that Mr. Johnson would "give [the] committee the exact metrics that are needed sector-by-sector so that [this committee] can attain 90 percent effectiveness on the border."
The Bloomberg Editorial Board took Speaker Boehner to task today in an editorial criticizing the Republican Party for failing to address the critical issue immigration. "While the House is trying to avoid addressing a tough problem, U.S. businesses remain subject to scattershot policies that fail to deliver the right workers to the industries that need them. Immigrant families must work -- and live -- in fear of being deported and losing all. And young people with ambition, many of them Americans in all but paperwork, live in legal limbo."
FAIR, the Federation for Immigration Reform, released a new radio ad today arguing that offering legal status to undocumented immigrants is "not reform. It's amnesty. Real reform would fix our immigration system to serve Americans' interests. Amnesty rewards illegal aliens and encourages more illegal immigration in the future."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) took to the floor of the House today to engage in a conversation with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on the issue of immigration reform. Rep. Hoyer urged Rep. Cantor "to bring [H.R. 15] to the Floor and see if the House thinks it's a bad bill. See if the House believes that it's a bill that is not worthy to be considered and passed as a fixing of a broken immigration system."
November 14, 2013
A newly elected Republican from Louisiana recently expressed his support for immigration reform with a road to citizenship. Rep. Vance McAllister had this to say on the subject: "We have to secure the borders, but (citizenship) has to be attainable for those people already here," he said. "It has to be a tough path, but it has to be attainable…Then we can bring great new citizens to the country."
On Friday, November 8th, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land, hit the Philippines. An estimated 6.9 million people have been affected by the storm, with the death toll is estimated to be in the thousands while the number of people displaced by the massive storm rises into the hundreds of thousands. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) exists to provide a safe haven for those who are reluctant to return to potentially dangerous situations, and to assist nations who are under extraordinary and temporary conditions and face difficulties in receiving their nationals safely. A grant of TPS would allow Filipinos here in the U.S. to work and support their families in the Philippines who were impacted by the Typhoon. AILA provides background on "Temporary Protected Status and Potential Philippines Designation." (AILA Doc. No. 13111447.)
November 13, 2013
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that House Republicans are "drafting a set of principles to guide their approach" on immigration. according to Speaker Boehner (R-OH). This comes on the heels of the Speaker's controversial statement on the fate on the Senate bill: "The idea that [the House is] going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I'll make clear: We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."
The American Immigration Council remembers the "Contributions of Immigrant Soldiers" as the country celebrates Veterans Day. "As described by MacArthur Fellow Margaret Stock, an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police, U.S. Army Reserve, 'immigrants voluntarily serve in all branches of the U.S. military and are a vital resource in the ongoing conflict against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.'"
The Hill is busy being pessimistic, releasing a two part series on "how immigration died." The Part One focuses on the breakdown of the now defunct Group of Seven in the House, while Part Two focuses on Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) role in the demise. And don't worry, there's video.
November 12, 2013
In an Op-Ed in today's LA Times Frank Keating, the former Republican governor of Oklahoma, argued that "too many conservatives-though they aspire to walk in Reagan's footsteps-have forgotten that immigration reform is the most Republican of causes." He goes on further: "America was the world's first nation to be based on principles, not ethnicity. Citizenship is at once narrow and broad-available to those who share our principles, regardless of race or national origin. It is unconscionable to leave a class of neighbors who share our values in perpetual second-class status."
Today, faith, labor and immigrant rights leaders announced the launch of "Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship," taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. "These leaders and immigrants will fast every day and night, abstaining from all food-except water-to move the hearts and compassion of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship."
The Center for American Progress has released two new resources on reform. One, a real time counter of the cost of the House's inaction on immigration reform. As of today at noon (137 days since the Senate passed S.744), the House's inaction has cost the United States over $5 billion. And two, an infographic explaining what the Senate bill means for LGBT immigrants.
Last Friday, Rachel Maddow used her show to skewer Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a member of the House leadership, for announcing that immigration reform was dead this year. AP reports that Rep. McCarthy "said in a meeting with immigration proponents that there weren't enough days left for the House to act and he was committed to addressing overhaul of the nation's immigration system next year. The congressman's office confirmed what he said."
In honor of Veteran's Day, the White House released a factsheet on immigrants serving in the nation's military. The factsheet notes that "as of May 2013, more than 30,000 lawful permanent residents were serving in our Armed Forces. Too many of these service members feel the negative effects of our broken immigration system, experiencing delays in obtaining visas for family members, and fearing for the well-being of loved ones who may lack immigration status."
November 8, 2013
America's Voice has launched a new website that explicitly speaks to the politics of immigration reform. The new site, Immigration Power, profiles the 40 top Republican congressional races that could be determined by immigrant and Latino voters in 2014. The site provides information about each Representative's support for immigration reform and the voter makeup of their district. This comes as Roll Call highlights the "10 Most Vulnerable House Members" according to a number of factors (including increased numbers of voters of color).
Yesterday, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told the Miami Herald that he didn't see a way forward for immigration reform this year, but RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is not necessarily on the same page. Politico reports that the Chairman told Bloomberg's Al Hunt that: "something significant is going to happen because obviously mass deportation is not an option. I don't think doing nothing is an option. And I believe most people would agree that something significant needs to take place. Now what that is, I don't get to make that decision."
On Wednesday, over 300 advocates rallied (and 120 were arrested) in front of the USCIS building in downtown Chicago calling for immigration reform in a demonstration organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugees Rights. Well, in an Editorial in today's Chicago Sun-Times, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, told them he had their back. "Americans across the country are showing courage and leadership to stand up for those values by speaking up for justice and fairness in our immigration system. They are calling for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform; they are calling on Congress to let democracy work."
November 7, 2013
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a member of the now defunct group of seven working on immigration reform in the House, seemed to pour cold water all over advocates' hopes that reform can still pass in the House this year. Speaking with the Miami Herald today he said: "I don't see the math. There are only 16 days, legislative days, for the floor. Unless someone has some magic potion, I don't see how there's time to go through the committee process and through the floor with what could ultimately be six or nine bills."
Today, the labor union SEIU, announced the launch of television ads in seven swing congressional districts across the country. The ads target Speaker Boehner (OH) and Republican Representatives Coffman (CO), Davis (IL), Grimm (NY), Heck (NV), Joyce (OH), Kline (MN) and Miller (CA). They join the AFL-CIO, who also announced four hard hitting ads (in English and Spanish) targeting Republican House members.
November 6, 2013
Yesterday's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia could be foreshadowing what's to come next year in the Mid-term 2014 elections. Fusion, the new news collaboration between Univision and ABC, offers that Chris Christie's work in in reaching out to minority voters "provides a lesson to Republican candidates for national office. The racial makeup New Jersey's electorate is almost identical to the nation's." This in contrast to the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli who "took hardline stances on immigration and Obamacare. That endeared him to conservative base voters, but prevented him from expanding his coalition."
Latino Decisions has a webinar breaking down election-eve polling on the impact of voters of color on the two gubernatorial elections.
In an interview with Newsmax on Monday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) commented on the possibility that Speaker Boehner could be replaced before the next election: "John Boehner has been stronger throughout this partial shutdown and the debt ceiling than most everybody thought he would be. He did serve to unify the conference better than I thought. We'll have to see how the future issues play out. For example, if immigration comes before the House, it would be the most divisive thing that could be brought up by Republicans in the House. Then I would have a different answer to that question."
Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) has sent a letter to her colleagues in the House of Representatives asking them to join her "in fighting for responsible immigration reform that protects immigrant women and empowers them to give back even more to the country they love and call home."
We Belong Together announced the return of their "Wish for the Holidays" campaign. Between now and the end of November, the organization will collect thousands of children's letters expressing one, shared wish: "Keep families together! Fair immigration reform NOW!" In December, a youth delegation will deliver these letters to members of Congress, who will be preparing to spend time with their own families during the holidays.
November 5, 2013
The elections today in several key states highlight the growing importance of the Latino electorate in American politics. After President Obama shellacked Governor Romney in the Latino vote in 2012, Republican pundits fell all over themselves to embrace the importance of immigration reform. (AILA Doc. No. 12110946.) Seen as a way to make inroads into the Latino community, immigration reform became a sound bite for many current and prospective candidates, but that wasn’t the only change. Buzzfeed reports that after the November elections “RNC Chairman Reince Preibus began popping up in barrios and black churches across the country, pledging a renewed Republican campaign to win the hearts and minds of minority voters, as well as a hefty $10 million investment in the effort. By summer, the party had decided to use Virginia and New Jersey—the two states with gubernatorial races this year—as test labs for their new outreach strategy.”
Well, we’ll find out if worked as election results start to roll in this evening.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports today that Republican Representative David Valadao (CA) is “circulating a letter calling on the House GOP leadership to hold a vote on reform this year. He is asking fellow Republicans to sign on.” Rep. Valadao is one of only three Republicans who have signed on to HR 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Democratic leadership.
FWD.us posted a video today highlighting a few of the compelling entrepreneur stories shared during their Americans for Reform event last week.
November 4, 2013
Talking Points Memo outlines the “Three Miracles That Could Save Immigration Reform” in an article today, while the National Journal outlines how the so-called KIDS Act in the House may have hit a snag centered on partner sponsorship. “The problem comes when lawmakers start asking what happens to the children who eventually become citizens under the bill. Under current law, they would be allowed to sponsor family members, including parents, for green cards. That worries some Republicans who have long questioned the utility of family-based immigration in the United States. It also is of concern to any member who justifies support by saying that unauthorized immigrants brought here as children were not at fault, their parents were.”
We Belong Together, an advocacy organization that specifically focused on the needs of women in immigration reform legislation, announced a number of local actions that will be taking place November 6th through 8th in nine states across the country.
Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, told members of a Rotary Club that he “will be part of a bipartisan effort to fix the problem, because it has to be fixed.” He continued, saying “to me, doing nothing is not acceptable,” according to reports in the Kalamazoo Gazette.
November 1, 2013
This week, state government officials in Alabama agreed to permanently block key provisions of HB 56, the Alabama enforcement only law that passed in 2011. (AILA Doc. No. 12032163.) The agreement marked a profound victory for the civil rights organizations that sued the state to prevent major portions of the law from going into effect. On Wednesday, the New York Times Editorial Board hopes that the stunning defeat of this destructive law will propel Congress to "see the light" on provisions that empower state and local police to enforce immigration laws, specifically to turn away from the "SAFE Act" legislation that has already been introduced and voted out of committee. The Immigration Impact Blog provides more information on the settlement.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has released three video stories making the case for immigration reform from a farmer's perspective. The videos, produced as part of the organization's "The Heat is On" campaign to push Congress to act on immigration reform this year, focus on the impact on agricultural labor of a broken immigration system. Meanwhile NBC Latino showcases the story of an Oregon pear farmer struggling to fill his labor needs.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas reveals "Why Undocumented Immigrants Needs Driver's Licenses." As he puts it: "to be an undocumented immigrant-to live and work as one of New York City's half-million undocumented immigrants-is to obsess over documents."
October 31, 2013
Yesterday, the third Republican joined as a co-sponsor to H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Democrats. And the immigration advocacy community is buzzing, watch
AILA’s Advocacy Director Greg Chen talk about the implications of the big news, Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Joe Garcia (D-FL) host a Google hangout together, and Rep. Denham on CNN talking about the bill. (AILA Doc. No. 13103051.)
Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who left the agency in September for warmer weather in California as the new head of the University of California system, announced yesterday that she is pledging $5 million to counseling and financial aid for undocumented students who attend a University of California campus.
Rep. Pearce (R-NM) announced today that he and Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX) will be introducing a piece meal bipartisan immigration bill. The bill will “grant discretionary authority to review specific cases for a small number of Americans who are separated from their families due to minor earlier violations which are technical in nature or occurred when the family member was a minor. Such review was permissible until 1996, when the current regulations were put in place.”
Some bad news coming out of Texas, House Homeland and Border Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) told Politico that he “was urging his leadership to back off any formal negotiations with the Senate on immigration reform.” Rep. McCaul was an original sponsor of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act of 2013, that passed the committee with bipartisan, unanimous support, but has not gotten a vote on the floor of the House. (AILA Doc. No. 13060647.)
Immigration advocacy group America’s Voice has released a number of Congressional district level polls demonstrating that House Republicans can support a path to citizenship with little backlash from voters in their district. The districts profiled include
Reps. Farenthold and Poe of Texas and Reps. Issa, McCarthy and McKeon of California.
October 30, 2013
More good news from the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) became the third Republican to co-sponsor H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform legislation introduced by Democrats earlier this month. Rep. Valadao followed Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Denham (R-CA) in joining this bill. In a statement released today he stated: “I have been working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform. Recently, I have focused my efforts on joining with likeminded Republicans in organizing and demonstrating to Republican Leadership broad support within the Party to address immigration reform in the House by the end of the year. By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system.”
Last week Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced that he would be introducing his own piecemeal legislation that would grant six years of legal status to many undocumented immigrants. While text of the legislation has not been made public yet, the bill sounds similar to a bill that the Representative introduced in 2003 during the 108th Congress. AILA provides a summary of that bill, The Alien Accountability Act of 2003. (AILA Doc. No. 13103044.)
Jeh Johnson, President Obama’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, is making the rounds of Senate offices in anticipation of confirmation hearing that will come at some point soon. Most Senators are choosing to withhold public judgment on the former Department of Defense chief counsel until they have a chance to meet with the nominee personally. Mr. Johnson has little background in immigration related issues.
In some disheartening news, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) walked back some hopeful comments he made earlier this week on his support for a road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He clarified that he believes in legalization for the undocumented or having them to return to their home country to go through the normal existing process for immigration into the United States. He commented: “Sometimes, in any situation, you don’t hit people in the face with the worst of it,” he said. “I wanted them to know, while maybe we didn’t agree on everything, there were some things we do agree on. I do care about them.”
Yesterday, activists in Orlando, Florida and New York City were arrested while making the case for immigration reform in acts of civil disobedience.
The Center for American Progress has a new report that answers the question: “Who Would the SAFE Act Endanger?” the report provides a few examples of immigrants who would get caught up in the numerous and sweeping enforcement measures included in the bill.
October 29, 2013
Big news today, another House Republican has joined Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) as a co-sponsor of H.R. 15, the comprehensive bill introduced by House Democrats earlier this month. Early today, Rep. Garcia (D-FL) announced on Twitter that his Republican colleague from Florida, Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, would be joining as a co-sponsor and that "together [they] are moving #SouthFlorida forward." Rep. Ros-Lehtinen released an official statement, stating: "it's important to keep the conversation going in trying to fix the broken immigration system. I favor any approach that will help us move the negotiations forward. Other Members may soon produce a bipartisan product that may also deserve support and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can pass meaningful immigration reform."
Today, over 600 conservative leaning individuals took to Capitol Hill to make their case for immigration reform to happen this year. The individuals mainly spoke with Republican House offices, specifically House leadership and others who have a hand in determining next steps on the issue. The event was sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Follow #Ready4Reform on Twitter for updates from the day's events.
Public Policy Polling has released new polls focused on eight Congressional districts currently held by Republicans. The poll finds that voters in each of these districts are unhappy with their Republican Representatives because of the government shutdown. However, the poll also find that "most notably, voters make it clear in each of these districts that they'll be more likely to vote to reelect their Congressmen next year if they vote for immigration reform."
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report and infographic today on the "Implications for Growth, Budgets and Housing" of immigration reform. The main argument is that "by increasing the overall population and particularly the number of working-age labor force participants, reform can help expand the economy, contribute to higher overall average wages, generate more consumer spending, and spur new demand for residential housing construction."
Yesterday, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to support immigration reform, specifically reform that supports women.
October 28, 2013
Big news from two House Republicans over the weekend, with Rep. Jeff Denham (CA) becoming the first House Republican to add his support for H.R. 15, the comprehensive reform bill introduced by Democratic leaders, and Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona coming out in support of a road to citizenship. In a press statement, Rep. Denham stated: "I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks. This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home."
Over the weekend Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) made a public commitment to a road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. He stated: "I'm one of those that does not believe that people having been in this country... illegally now should be barred from that path to citizenship because we have not enforced the law. At the same time, I don't want to do something that creates a special path to citizenship that creates an incentive for more people to come illegally…I'd like to see a single pathway to citizenship for everyone, that no one would be blocked from, unless they do something criminal…and I'd like to make sure that we have clear border security…And, of course, I'd like to see the whole immigration code simplified and rewritten so that somebody besides God could understand it."
The New York Times Editorial Board offered some suggestions on how President Obama can move forward on immigration reform without Congressional action in Sunday's Editorial, "Not One More." The three suggestions were: "stop needless deportation" by acknowledging the impact of programs like Secure Communities and Operation Streamline, "acknowledge the crisis" by highlighting the human costs of the broken system, and "get beyond politics" by listening to the calls of advocates urging him to act.
A new Latino advocacy organization is taking root and "is planning to spend as much as $20 million on campaigns targeting members of Congress who have sizable Latino communities in their districts but oppose comprehensive immigration reform." The new group, The Latino Victory Project, will seek to influence vulnerable Representatives' views on immigration, and then, if necessary, target certain House races during the 2014 midterm elections.
October 25, 2013
This morning, Senator Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate "Gang of Eight" went on CNN and seemed to indicate that he's still hopeful that immigration reform can happen this year. However, in the course of the conversation he also indicated regret of the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate, stating that he would have preferred approaching the issue piecemeal, as the House is doing. "And that's why I've favored the sequential individual bills. I think if people have real confidence that the law is being enforced, that we're not going to have this problem again, that there's real border security, I think you buy yourself more space and flexibility in finally dealing with those that are here illegally. But that's the toughest issue of all, as you touched on."
Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush had some harsh words of reality for Tea Party members in today's Congress. In an interview with Buzzfeed he stated: "I think there's an art to governing and part of the art of governing is recognizing the reality as it exists, not as you want it to be. Part of the reality is that some people on my side of the aisle do not understand is that even if you can identify those 10 or 12 million illegals here, you're not going to round them up, put them on 747s, and send them home."
October 24, 2013
President Obama took to the East Room of the White House today to deliver lengthy remarks on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Joined by Vice President Biden and other advocates, including AILA's own Executive Director, Crystal Williams, the President made the case that immigration reform "is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now. Leaders…have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done."
However, not everyone agrees with the President. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told reporters yesterday that "there is virtually no chance the party would take up immigration reform before the next round of budget and debt-ceiling fights are settled." Dan Stein, of FAIR (the Federation for American Immigration Reform) posted his own thoughts on the President's speech in a blog on the FAIR website. He argues that "the facts are simple. Any bill passed by the House becomes 'amnesty bait' for the Senate bill. The House cannot conference with the Senate-passed amnesty bill. The Senate bill is flawed public policy."
Yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Politico that he was planning on introducing soon his own piece meal legislation in the House that would offer six years of legal status for most undocumented immigrants, but would not include a road to citizenship, or more broadly, any guarantee after those six years had passed. His rationale: "if somebody has a nexus that would reasonably allow them to become permanent residents and American citizen, we should allow them to do that. Our view is that long before six years, people would be in those categories heading toward some other pathway, in a guest worker program, or of course, have left the country."
Think Progress doesn't necessarily agree with Rep. Issa's reasoning, making the case that "six years, however, is hardly enough time for undocumented immigrants to adjust their status" and that "Issa's plan also raises questions about what comes after the six years status is up."
Last week CBS News released a poll, dated October 18-21st, indicating widespread support for reform efforts that include a road to citizenship, from both Republicans and Democrats. The found that "there is widespread support for providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements, including a waiting period, paying fines and back taxes, passing criminal background checks and learning English." The same poll found that "more Americans (50%) think securing the nation's border should be a higher priority than addressing the status of illegal immigrants (43%). Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independents to place a priority on border security."
October 23, 2013
Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner (OH), gave some indication that he doesn't believe the media rumors that immigration reform is dead in the House of Representatives. When asked by a reporter this very question he responded: "I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I am hopeful."
This morning, Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to implore his friends on both sides of the aisle to put their partisan bickering aside, stop thinking about winning on the issue by forcing the other side to lose, and to work together to craft a solution on immigration reform that can pass.
The U.S. Chamber of commerce has some mixed messages for the media this week on the viability of immigration reform happening during the 113th Congress. Buzzfeed reports that Chamber president Tom Donahue "is hopeful the House and Senate will 'go to conference, [and] have the president sign' immigration reform quickly." However, the top lobbyist for the Chamber, Bruce Josten, is less convinced that this Congress can get it done, telling Reuters that "I think it would be very unlikely" for the House to pass a bill right now.
October 22, 2013
Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, had a conversation with Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) about the prospects for reform in the House. Diaz-Balart, a member of the now defunct bipartisan group of eight, revealed that "'there are a number of [Republicans] who are working on a proposal to deal with the folks who are here in a way that allows those who have not committed crimes to get right with the law,' Diaz-Balart says, adding that the goal is to figure out 'what to do with the millions of undocumented who are here in a way that completely conforms with the rule of law.'"
NDLON, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, posted this music video of singer Aloe Blacc's acoustic version of his popular song "Wake Me Up" that was "inspired by 11 million true stories." The video's main actors are immigrants, including a DREAMer, who tell the compelling life story of undocumented immigrant family living in the United States.
America's Voice has released detailed poll results from key Republican Congressional districts in Colorado and Nevada specifically bolstering those constituents' support for immigration reform.
The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable compiled the immigration stories of eight Jewish members of Congress, including two Republicans (Cantor (VA) and Ros-Lehtinen (FL). Many of the Representatives admit that their family story would not be possible now under the current mismanaged and broken set of immigration policies.
October 21, 2013
Many are wondering if there really is a way forward for immigration reform this year. With Congress moving past the budget and debt limit deal (at least until January 15th of next year) all eyes turn to a possible deal on immigration reform. Some say that a bipartisan success story is exactly what the Republican Party needs now to pick up their dragging approval ratings, but others worry that Speaker Boehner will be even less likely now to buck the more extreme elements of his caucus again (bypassing the Hastert rule for a sixth time) for immigration reform. Greg Sargent at The Washington Post argues that the debate really centers on if "House GOP leaders actually want to broaden the party's appeal, even if it means angering conservatives in the process? Immigration reform's fate will answer that question, because there is a way this could get done if GOP leaders want it to."
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) doesn't seem to share the same perspective, only last week proclaiming: "For us [Republicans] to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake." Senator Rubio (R-FL) channeled Rep. Raul Labrador in comments he made on Fox News this past Sunday, arguing that the "president has undermined this [immigration] effort. I certainly think that immigration reform is a lot harder to achieve today than it was just three weeks ago." Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the immigration subcommittee, also expressed his frustration with the President: "It's a little disingenuous to treat the House as an irrelevant branch of government and then say, 'By the way, tomorrow you'll need to go ahead and push (immigration reform).'"
First Focus and the Center for the Children of Immigrants released a report last week chronicling the "The Cost of Inaction" on immigration reform for children.
October 18, 2013
President Obama officially announced that Jeh Johnson, former general counsel for the Department of Defense, would be his nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Many pundits and lawmakers questioned Johnson's credentials on immigration and border security, and Johnson did not mention either of these issues in his brief acceptance speech earlier today.
Mark Zuckerberg's foray into the world of immigration reform advocacy brought with it questions and focus on the importance technology will play in influencing decision makers in this debate. That has now moved to the next level as a new event, a dreamer hackathon, was just announced to further the debate. The event will advise undocumented youth on tech tools and projects to advance the prospect of reform.
October 17, 2013
Late last night the House of Representatives passed the Senate budget compromise to reopen the government and avert a debt limit breach. The New York Times breaks down the vote in the House of Representatives and provides an interactive map of the 198 Democrats and 87 Republicans who joined together to pass the bill.
Latino Decisions examines polling data from the California Field Poll to examine "The Prop 187 Effect" on the Republican Party in California post since presidential candidate Ronald Reagan won 45% of the California Latino vote and 59% of the entire state in 1984. They argue that three factors have "made the Republican Party nearly irrelevant:" increase in Latino voters, the Republican anti-immigrant agenda, and the stranglehold Democratic presidential candidates have on the 55 electoral college votes.
The Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and the Partnership for a New American Economy have released a new report, "Immigration and the Revival of American Cities: From Preserving Manufacturing Jobs to Strengthening the Housing Market." They find that "for every 1,000 immigrants living in a county, 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved that would otherwise not exist or have moved elsewhere."
October 16, 2013
President Obama has signaled (in an interview with Univision) that the next fight after the shutdown and debt limit deal are dispensed with will be immigration reform. Some question whether he will have the political power necessary to get it across the finish line with the partisan rancor that is currently permeating through D.C. Specifically, form House Gang of Eight member (and AILA member) Rep. Raul Labrador, doesn't think it's a political reality or in his Party's interests, telling Huffington Post: "For us to go to a negotiation, to the negotiating table with President Obama after what he has done over the last two and a half weeks, I think would be probably a very big mistake."
Others, like Cesar Vargas, executive director of the DREAM Action Coalition, want to make sure that "if Obama wants to talk about immigration reform, he needs to get serious about working across the aisle, even if that means upsetting leaders of his own party. [Vargas] called on the president to 'make phone calls to the Speaker and Republican leadership on immigration' and 'not follow' what Vargas sees as a Democratic House 'strategy to just make immigration a partisan issue to win more seats the next election.'"
The United States had nine Nobel Prize winners this year, and four of them are immigrants. Immigration Impact chronicles the four winners in this blog.
October 15, 2013
This past Saturday, during a gala for the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, NJ Governor Chris Christie expressed support for what he called "tuition equality," seemingly supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students. His exact words: "I believe every child should be given the opportunity to reach their God-given potential...that's a moral requirement. We need to get to work in the state legislature, on things like making sure that there's tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey."
The Washington Post does a profile of how the "controversial quota drives immigration detention boom." They report: "but as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s, ICE has been meeting Congress's immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation. The agency also has greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants it takes into custody after traffic stops by local police."
CIVIC has produced a two minute video in support of ending the detention bed mandate and has sponsored a petition at change.org.
The National Council of La Raza (NLCR) has put together a handy interactive map with all of the major editorials from across the country in support of immigration reform. find one close to you.
The Bipartisan Policy Center Immigration Task force released a press statement opposing expanding the deferred action program on an administrative level because it will undermine reform efforts. They give three main reasons: "extending DACA through executive action is not a permanent solution to our immigration system's shortcomings," "for immigration reform to be successful, it must earn the trust of the American people," and "such a move would preempt the legislative process that is unfolding in Congress."
October 11, 2013
Last night The Daily Show's correspondent Aasif Mandvi sat down with anti-immigrant documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch to discuss the impacts of immigration and immigration reform to the United States. He also talked with the city manager of Dayton, Ohio who spoke of the valuable contributions that immigrants have made to the local economy and culture of that city and their "Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City" project.
The CATO Institute's Alex Nowrsteh tells us why "Immigration Is Good for Wisconsin's Economy." "In 2012, immigrants were 4.8% of the population [in Wisconsin] and the unemployment rate was 6.7%, more than half a point below the national average. Wisconsin's booming agricultural sector has helped speed the state's economic recovery. Dairy farmers exported more than $170 million of dairy exports in the first half of 2013, ranking Wisconsin as fourth in the nation in dairy exports. And that is just a fraction of the $1.6 billion in agricultural exports during the same period - $100 billion more than the first six months of 2012. Here's the kicker: Nearly a quarter of all workers in Wisconsin dairy farms are unauthorized immigrants. That's right, one of the major drivers of Wisconsin's economy relies on immigrant labor."
As the government shutdown rolls towards its third week, immigration services across the country are being affected. "With the shutdown of the government in its second week, many immigration-related agencies continue to be closed, affecting availability of services and information necessary for applications for immigration benefits and litigation of immigration cases.
October 10, 2013
The National Journal argues in a post released yesterday that "the Republican brand is still damaged goods" specifically citing its lack of progress with the Latino community. "In its latest party-building effort, the RNC hosted a Hispanic Heritage month reception Tuesday amid plans to dispatch field operatives to seven states with growing Hispanic populations. But against the backdrop of thousands of protestors on the National Mall demanding congressional Republicans take up immigration reform, it was the latest example of the national party making progress on mechanics, not messaging.
This comes as a new Congressional district level polling released today signals that "California Republicans need to lead on bipartisan immigration reform." The polling, perform by Magellan Strategies, found that in three Republican districts in California, "contrary to conventional wisdom, Republican voters are just as supportive of immigration reform as Democrats and Independents in these districts. The hardcore anti-immigration voting bloc is simply not that large and not that powerful-even inside the GOP."
One of these Republicans, Rep. Jeff Denham, signaled yesterday on Twitter that he may be considering joining H.R. 15 as a co-sponsor: "@americasvoice In discussions w/ Rep. @JoeGarcia. Very productive. As I'm reading bill, I have asked him to take a look at my #ENLIST Act."
In an Editorial published yesterday the Chicago Sun Times makes the case that as "prospects for congressional action on immigration reform have dimmed…the Obama administration should take immediate action on a related issue - throttling back the deportation machine for people who have not committed serious crimes."
The Immigration Policy Center has released a guide to H.R. 15 that outlines the major components of the bill. H.R. 15 was introduced by House Democrats last week as a compromise comprehensive immigration reform bill and currently has 178 co-sponsors (all Democrats). (AILA Doc. No. 13100402.)
Hear more about yesterday and last Saturday National Days of Action for Dignity and Respect in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13101000.)
October 9, 2013
In a letter sent today to Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA), AILA joined over 100 other organizations in calling on the Speaker to not allow the SAFE Act, H.R. 2278, to be brought up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. (AILA Doc. No. 13060654.)
Today, La Opinion, the Spanish language newspaper, released their list of "the 8 worst enemies of immigration reform." The list should look familiar as it includes old favorites Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and James Sensenbrenner (r-WI).
October 8, 2013
Tens of thousands of immigration reform advocates took to the nation's capital today to demand a vote on immigration reform with a road to legalization and citizenship. The day begin with a concert on the National Mall with a performance by the legendary musical group, Los Tigres del Norte. Other highlights included multiple Members of Congress, including: Senator Menendez (D-NJ) (a member of the "Gang Of Eight"), four Republican Representatives (Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Denham and Valadao of California), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (joined on stage by more than a dozen members of her Democratic caucus), immigrant rights champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). The event concluded with more than 200 community leaders and eight Members of Congress getting arrested while participating in an act of civil disobedience.
The message of the day was simple: "We demand a vote on immigration reform." See photos from the day from America's Voice, NBC Latino, Buzzfeed and Rep. Gutierrez's Twitter feed.
October 7, 2013
Over the weekend thousands of community members took to the streets to show their support for immigration reform with a road to citizenship. The Alliance for Citizenship has pulled together some of the best pictures from the events that happened all across the country and America's Voice has a great recap of the day's activities. The public push for reform will continue tomorrow as tens of thousands of people are expected in D.C. to participate in Camino Americano, a concert and march for immigration reform.
Republican leadership in the House continues to insist that action on immigration is a legislative priority for them. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chairwoman of the Republican conference, appeared on "Al Punto" on Univision on Saturday and confirmed that Speaker John Boehner "over the last few weeks has continued to talk about the importance of the House moving forward on immigration reform." She continued: "I believe that we have a window here between now and the end of the year and that this is a priority."
Last week California made its own headlines by passing two important immigration reform bills even as the federal government stalls. California Governor Jerry Brown drove the point home: "while Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead. I'm not waiting." One of the bills, the Trust Act, requires that immigrants in this country illegally must be charged with or convicted of a serious offense to be eligible for a 48-hour hold and transfer to U.S. immigration authorities for possible deportation."
The other bill, signed last Thursday by the Governor, allows undocumented immigrants living in California to receive driver's licenses. Governor Brown held a press conference in Los Angeles to sign the bill and was flocked by hundreds of supporters, including the Mayor and other dignitaries. "'This is only the first step. When a million people without their documents drive legally with respect to the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice,' Brown said outside Los Angeles City Hall."
Last week the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released a new report, "Our Moment for Reform: Immigration and Transgender People." The reports chronicles how "current immigration laws, together with pervasive discrimination against transgender people, force transgender immigrants to live in dual shadows." Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE, said in an interview with BuzzFeed "We have a lot of trans people who are in this country specifically because they are trans people and they are simply not safe where they were and they come here and then they're [still] not safe. I'm sorry but that is what this country is for. This country has always been a place where people can come to be safe."
October 4, 2013
AILA and the American Immigration Council have released a section-by-section summary of H.R 15, the comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives this week, comparing it to the S.744 that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.. (AILA Doc. No. 13100462.) Stay up to date on what's happening in the House by visiting www.aila.org/house.
Today, Republican California Congressman Jeff Denham released an Op-Ed in The Modesto Bee, arguing for the importance of a path to citizenship in any reform legislation. "Providing an opportunity for many of the 11 million undocumented people living here to earn legal status is the only way to create a long-term solution to our broken system. The solution we design in the House must also secure our border and ensure enforcement of our laws. Without a secure border and the rule of law, we will repeat the same mistakes of the past."
According to The Las Vegas Sun, two of Nevada's Republican Congressmen are tired of waiting for immigration reform. Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck "are taking steps to put out bills addressing pathways to legal status for immigrants in the United States without authorization." Heck added: "I'd like to see [a bill] as soon as practically possible."
Today, the President signed H.R. 3233 into law. The bill extends special visa privileges for Iraqis who worked for the U.S. cause during the war in Iraq over the last decade. The bill, unlike most things these days, passed both houses of Congress with unanimous consent and is now law.
The US government shutdown that began on October 1st drags on as lawmakers remain unable to strike a deal to continue funding federal operations. Hear more about the shutdown and its ramifications for immigration from Betsy Lawrence, Associate Director of Liaison and Information at AILA. (AILA Doc. No. 13100401.)
October 3, 2013
In this AILA Quicktake AILA Advocacy Director discusses the implications of the comprehensive immigration bill Democrats introduced yesterday (H.R. 15). (AILA Doc. No. 13100303.) Although the legislative language has not been made public yet, The Washington Post breaks down some of what will be in the bill. And even though The Huffington Post thinks this Dems only bill is dead on arrival, Matthew Yglesias, at Slate, argues that the "Shutdown is Good News for Immigration Reform."
Much has been made of the so-called "Hastert Rule" that allegedly governs the agenda Speaker Boehner chooses to pursue on the House floor. The "rule," coined during a press conference by Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006, has come to mean that a Republican Speaker won't bring a bill for a vote on the floor of the House unless a majority of his party supports the bill-in Boehner's case that means 117 Republicans. Most attribute the House of Representative's inaction on immigration reform, and the government shutdown, to Speaker Boehner's insistence of following the "rule." Well this week Speaker Hastert himself, in an interview with The Daily Beast, questioned the veracity of invoking the Hastert rule in every scenario. "The Hastert Rule never really existed. It's a non-entity as far as I'm concerned…The real Hastert Rule is 218. If we had to work with Democrats, we did."
October 2, 2013
Today, more than a dozen Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Conference Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), joined together to announce the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would encompass the successful Senate bill, but replaces the controversial "border-surge" amendment with the McCaul bipartisan border security bill that passed unanimously out of the House Homeland Security Committee. (AILA Doc. Nos. 131002, 13060647, 13062165.) The bill, H.R. 15, is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia (FL), Jared Polis (CO), Judy Chu (CA), Suzan DelBene (WA) and Steven Horsford (NV).
During the press conference Rep. Garcia explained that during the last year Americans from across the country sent a message loud and clear that we want immigration reform. That message was heard in the Senate, but has not yet been heard in the House. The only way immigration reform can pass is if Democrats and Republicans work together.
Rep. Becerra added: "What we're putting forward is a bill that has received Republican votes, we could have put forward a bill that would have gotten 200 Democrat votes, but we wanted to put a bill forward that showed we were serious about moving this forward. What we're saying, is on the Democratic side, we're ready. There is no reason to have dysfunction rule the day." Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) took to the floor of the House to throw his support behind the bill as well.
While Elise Foley at the The Huffington Post argues that "House Democrats [have] introduced immigration bill with little chance of a vote," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says "the moment isn't gone," to pass immigration reform. Read AILA's press statement, "As House Democrats Introduce Compromise, AILA Urges Speaker Boehner to Act Now on Immigration." (AILA Doc. No. 13100207.)
Yesterday, in a showing of bipartisanship that seems rare of Capitol Hill these days, Reps. Castro (D-TX) and Denham (R-CA) released this commercial asking the American public to call their Congress members in support of immigration reform.
Buzzfeed brings us the stories of one couple affected by DOMA, and the overturning of DOMA by the Supreme Court. "Out Of The Dark: One Gay Latino Couple's Battle Through One Of The Worst Immigration Eras" explores the complexities of one bi-national gay couple living in New York.
Grover Norquist, the famed president of Americans for Tax Reform, continues to make the case for the right to lead on immigration reform. In his Op-Ed for The American Spectator magazine he argues that "the right has lost perspective on immigration." He sums it up like this: "if we do this right, if we improve on the Senate's opening bid, create a more effective and less costly border security system, and increase the scrawny limits proposed on highly skilled and educated immigrants and guest workers in farming, dairy, and construction, we will dominate the planet for the next century. Our would-be competitors have forgotten to have children and lack our 300-year proven ability to grow through immigration. We can. China cannot. Japan cannot. Europe cannot. We will grow as they shrink. Only we can stop us."
October 1, 2013
Well, it happened. At 12:00 AM this morning the federal government officially shut down. With Senate Democrats and House Republicans unable to reach a deal on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded, 800,000 federal employees woke up to the news that they would be furloughed until a deal can be reached. However, although "federal agencies that deal with immigration will be impacted by the government shutdown…that doesn't mean the government's business with immigration--from paperwork processing to immigration arrests--will stop." AILA has what you need to know about "What Happens during a Government Shutdown" as it relates to immigration activities, including USCIS' announcement that E-Verify will be unavailable for the duration of the shutdown. (AILA Doc. No. 11040730.)
The Weekly Standard has some optimism for immigration reform advocates in a blog released yesterday. "84 House Republicans have publicly voiced support for granting some type of legal status to the 11 million immigrants here in the country illegally, and 20 others have said they would be willing to consider it-many more than what most media reports suggest." On the same day Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders penned a blog for The Hill arguing that "the current [immigration] structure cannot keep up with demand. In 2011, more than 1 million people became green-card holders, bringing the number of legal permanent residents to an estimated 13.3 million. Many of these green-card allocations, however, are not distributed in ways that help our economy or unify the immediate family members of key immigrant contributors."
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the Senate unanimously voted to reauthorize the Iraq Special Immigrant Visa Program, now it's up to the House to act before the bill can go to the President's desk to be signed into law. The two senators explained the importance of the bill: "for five years, this program has given Iraqis who worked for the U.S. military during the war a chance to apply for U.S. visas. These brave Iraqis risked their lives to protect Americans and many of them are now living under constant threat of retribution from Al-Qaeda terrorists and Iranian-backed militants as a result of their decision to help American men and women in uniform. The United States has a moral obligation to stand with those Iraqis who stood with us; we cannot, and we will not, abandon our Iraqi partners."
The Immigration Justice Network released this infographic chronicling "A Day in the Life under the (un) 'SAFE Act.'" For more information on why the SAFE Act is so damaging read AILA's section by section summary of the legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13092541.)
September 30, 2013
As the government lurches towards a government shutdown all eyes are on Speaker Boehner and Republicans in the House of Representatives. Watch AILA Advocacy Director, Greg Chen, discuss the potential impact on immigration reform in this AILA Quicktake. (AILA Doc. No. 13093009.)
This shutdown looms large as communities across the country are gearing up for "The National Day of Dignity and Respect" happening this Saturday, October 5th. With over 130 events planned in 38 states, and hundreds of thousands of community members expected to come out in support, immigration reform will be the talk of the weekend. These marches, vigils and rallies will also set the stage for the Washington D.C. concert in support of immigration reform happening on October 8th.
Today, in sad news for immigration reform advocates (and supporters of ending the detention bed mandate), Republican Representative Spencer Bachus (AL) announced that he would not seek reelection in 2014. Rep. Bachus, representing one of the most conservative areas in the country, has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform over the past few months.
September 27, 2013
The Public Religion Research Institute just released a new report detailing the results of the 2013 Hispanic Values Survey. The survey, done to coincide with Hispanic Heritage month, notes that "less than 3-in-10 (29%) Hispanics report that they feel closer to the Republican Party than they did in the past, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Hispanics say the same about the Democratic Party." Additionally, "majorities of Hispanic Democrats (72%), independents (67%), and Republicans (53%) support a path to citizenship."
September 26, 2013
The Bloomberg News Editorial board released a scathing review of the 34,000 detention bed mandate that is currently the law of the land. The Editorial, "The Madness of U.S. Immigration Policy, Continued," argues that "Americans can disagree about the nature of immigration and the best ways to reform the system (or not). But wasting money on an arbitrary prison mandate serves no one's interest. It's hard to see how the micromanagement by Congress, and the waste of taxpayer funds, will be reversed for 2014; the House appropriations process has been a shambles."
This follows an equally critical news story that ran Tuesday detailing the cost in lives and money to U.S. citizens, immigrants and tax payers of the mandate to fill 34,000 detention beds at any given time.
In case you missed it, the Immigration Policy Center released this GIF filled adventure on Buzzfeed detailing the real cost of doing nothing on immigration reform.
September 25, 2013
House Judiciary Chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) took to the right leaning National Review today to fend off attacks from that same outlet that he supports the Senate immigration reform bill that passed in June. He reasserts that: "the Gang of Eight bill is fundamentally flawed and unworkable, because it repeats the mistakes made in past immigration overhauls. Among my many concerns, the Senate bill gives legal status before enforcement is up and operating, provides a special pathway to citizenship for those who have broken our immigration laws, and allows the president to waive many, if not most, of the bill's internal enforcement requirements."
American Immigration Council Executive Director, Ben Johnson, highlights the cost of doing nothing on his Twitter account: "Without #immigration reform US will keep losing out on additional tax revenue and jobs: http://bit.ly/14At3xs #costofdoingnothing"
September 24, 2013
Reform Immigration for America has unleashed a new campaign targeting House Republican leadership asking them to "stand up and lead on reform." By filling out a few fields, including name and address, users can send a personalized postcard to both their member of Congress and Speaker Boehner calling on them to pass immigration reform.
FWD.us, the immigration reform lobbying group founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, released its "first quantified stats on its contribution to immigration reform, announcing that it drove 33,500 calls to Congress this summer and a total of 125,000 actions including social media shares." While not necessarily heavy hitters yet in the world of immigration reform advocacy, Zuckerberg has been making waves by being increasingly public in his support for comprehensive reform with a road to citizenship.
September 23, 2013
Apparently some Democratic members, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), are tired of waiting for Republican leadership to bring something for a vote on the floor. Politico reported late today that the Minority Leader Pelosi "is spearheading a plan to advance comprehensive immigration reform in the chamber. The California Democrat plans to introduce legislation combining the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in May with a bipartisan border-security bill from the House Homeland Security Committee, according to sources familiar with the plans."
Today the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) and America's Voice (AV) released two new resources detailing the cost of doing nothing on immigration in Congress. IPC details the "Dollars, Lives, and opportunities Lost in the Wait for Immigration Reform" and AV countsdown "The Real Cost of Inaction on Immigration" both politically and economically.
September 20, 2013
After months of news reports, gossip, wrangling, and the loss of Rep. Labrador (R-ID), the efforts of the Gang of Seven in the House to draft a bipartisan comprehensive bill have officially collapsed. Today two more Republican members of the group, Reps. Johnson and Carter, both representing Texas, announced they were withdrawing from the group. Greg Sargent, of the Washington Post, spoke with Rep. Gutierrez, a Democratic member of the group from Chicago further dashed hopes: "It doesn't appear that we're going to move forward with the group of seven. The process is stalled. I don't believe we're going to produce a bill anytime soon."
America's Voice takes some comfort that the breakup of the group of seven may actually "shake up the dynamics of the debate in a way that keeps reform very much alive." And while speaking at a GOP Conference Hispanic Heritage month event, Rep. Goodlate (R-VA) the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he still sees a path forward: "'For children brought here illegally by parents, I wouldn't give them a special pathway to citizenship, I would give them an earned pathway to citizenship.'
Everyone else could use routes that already exist in law: sponsorship by a family member, including a U.S. citizen spouse, or sponsorship by an employer."
While the Group of Seven was falling apart, two Democratic members of the House Border Caucus, announced they were introducing their own comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill, Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013, closely mirrors the 2009 version introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX).
Today, Latino Decisions released a new poll that cites opposition to immigration as the main reason behind the shrinking influence of the Republican Party in California state and national elections. They comment: "after winning the presidential election in 1980, California native Ronald Reagan raised his share of the Latino vote from 35% to 45% in 1984 while carrying 59% of the entire state. Republicans went on to win the Golden state again in 1988. Since then, three things have happened: first the Latino share of all voters in California started growing noticeably, and second: California Republicans embarked on an anti-immigrant agenda that ended up alienating Latino voters and driving them into the open arms of the Democratic Party, and third: Republicans have permanently written off 55 electoral college votes - or approximately 20% of the amount needed to reach 270.
September 19, 2013
The Partnership for a New American Economy announced today that leaders from more than 100 colleges and universities across the country sent letters to their members of Congress in ten key states.
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg was in the Washington D.C. to speak with congressional leaders about a host of issues, including immigration. After his day of meetings he sat down with the Editor of The Atlantic and spoke on why passing reform is one of his priority issues. Watch while he explains why he remains "optimistic" about reforms chances to pass this year.
September 18, 2013
Last night President Obama did an interview with Jose Diaz-Balart for the Spanish language channel Telemundo. While the interview covered a wide range of issues, from Syria to the looming threats of a government shutdown, the President made some bold statement relating to immigration. In addition to reiterating his believe that the votes exists to pass the Senate bill on the House floor right now, he also reiterated that halting deportations if Congress fails to act is “not an option.”
Advocates from around the country expressed their disappointment in the President’s statements. Today, seven undocumented leaders from around the country showed their frustration by chaining themselves to the White House fence, calling for “not one more” deportation, and eventually being arrested.
September 17, 2013
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is one of the first Democrats to indicate a willingness to compromise on the issue of citizenship with his Republican counterparts. “I support a comprehensive bill, but if we do it piecemeal and do not call it pathway but call it taking them [undocumented immigrants] out of the shadows and giving them legalization, I can support that. I have got to be flexible.” In that vein Rep. Cuellar is set to meet with House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) to talk about a potential path forward for reform this year.
While some House Democrats might be eyeing compromise, The Hill reports that some advocates feel Senate Democrats should be applying additional political pressure on House Republican leadership to get something done on reform this Fall, and that patience might be waning quickly.
Yesterday, the President proclaimed that September 17th would be Constitution and Citizenship Day. In the proclamation the President made special notice of the impact of immigration to the country: “We are a proud Nation of immigrants, home to a long line of aspiring citizens who contributed to their communities, founded businesses, or sacrificed their livelihoods so they could pass a brighter future on to their children. Each year on Citizenship Day, we welcome the newest members of the American family as they pledge allegiance to our Constitution and join us in writing the next chapter of our national story.”
September 16, 2013
Immigration reform might be stalled for the time being in the House, but it's getting a lot of play out in the States. In California 15 State Senate and Assembly Republicans sent a letter to the entire Republican Congressional delegation asking them to take action on immigration reform. This came just days before the state passed a law granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigration. In Virginia, the Republican candidate for Governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is facing increased pressure to walk back his more extreme past statements and actions on immigration by national Republican figures.
Business leaders are upping their public push to influence House leadership to hold a vote on immigration reform this fall. Human resources executives from over 100 technology and communications sent a letter to Speaker Boehner urging "the House to enact legislation to fix the broken immigration system and work with the Senate to ensure that a bill is signed by the President this year." Meanwhile 450 business groups published an open letter to Congress stating: "we are united in the belief that we can and must do better for our economy and country by modernizing our immigration system. We already have been engaged with many members of Congress-Republicans and Democrats-on numerous components of a modern immigration system and we urge that you not let this momentum slip and progress vanish."
Last week, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) wrote an impassioned editorial for The Hill making the case that the "people of the United States are ready for reform." He went on to say: "no matter the obituaries written about immigration reform in the press and no matter the other pressing issues on the agenda, we need the Congress to act and for the Speaker to call the vote."
House Republicans celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month by releasing a special video featuring House leadership, among other. Noticeably absent from the video's message is any mention of immigration reform.
Advocacy organizations today announced a rally and concert for immigrant dignity and respect scheduled for October 8th in Washington, D.C. The event, titled Camino Americano, will bring together thousands of supporters to continue to build pressure for a vote on common sense immigration reform in the House of Representatives. This event will come just three days after the National Day of Action, which will feature local events in hundreds of communities across the country.
President Obama went on This Week with George Stephanopoulus over the weekend and had this to say about the chances for immigration reform: "If Speaker Boehner put that bill on the floor of the House of Representatives right now, it would pass. It would pass. So the question then is not whether or not- the ideas that we've put forward can garner a majority of support certainly in the country...The problem we have is we have a- faction of the Republican Party- in the House of Representatives in particular, that view "compromise" as a dirty word, and anything that- is even remotely associated with me, they feel obliged to oppose. And my argument to them is real simple. That's not why the people sent you here."
America's Voice chronicles "How Immigration Advocates Owned the Summer," in this YouTube video.
September 13, 2013
The Center for American Progress released a new report detailing how "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Will Benefit American Workers." They argue that "when immigrants are unable to invoke their labor and employment rights, the overall effectiveness of employment laws also declines, as fewer employers are punished for their unlawful employment actions. This means that American workers are more susceptible to workplace violations such as wage and hour violations or unsafe working conditions. Passing common-sense immigration reform-such as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, or S. 744, passed by the Senate on June 27-will fix this problem."
The Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for lower immigration levels, released a report this month arguing that "no evidence of a 'chilling effect' from local police cooperation with ICE exists in federal or local government data or independent academic research." Matthew Kolodziej, in an Immigration Impact blog, demonstrates that the data they cite actually suggests that the exact opposite is true. "Enforcement programs like 287(g) and extreme legislative proposals such as the SAFE act that impose immigration enforcement on local governments divide the communities they claim to protect and work against the law enforcement objectives they claim to pursue."
The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas released a new report that "looks at how immigration helps revitalize communities across the United States through the creation or preservation of manufacturing jobs, the increase in housing wealth, and heightened civic engagement." The report finds that
"for every 1,000 immigrants living in a county, 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved that would otherwise not exist or would have moved elsewhere."
September 12, 2013
This morning over 100 women were arrested on Capitol Hill while urging leaders in the House of Representatives to make immigration reform a priority. The leaders, organized by the We Belong Together campaign, wore shirts calling for "Women for Fair Immigration Reform" and spoke specifically to the needs of women and families when addressing reforms to the broken immigration system. Rachel Maddow covers this story and addresses the argument that the House doesn't "have time" to tackle reform, arguing that the Senate already managed to pass a comprehensive bill with 14 Republican votes.
FWD.us, the advocacy group started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, released a new ad today declaring the August recess a victory for immigration reform advocates. News reports also indicate the Zuckerberg will be meeting with key members of House leadership next week to discuss a number of issues.
As the House comes back into session the leaders of the Republican Party, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, face an ever fractured Republican caucus. Politico details how difficult legislating has become for the Speaker in the face of approximately 30 members of his own party who seem to disagree with whatever plan he puts forward (whether on Syria, the budget, or the debt ceiling). "A clearly frustrated Boehner seemed to realize that he leads a conference where no plan is quite good enough." That being said, Rep. Cantor did release a memo outlining the Republican priorities for the fall, and included a small section on immigration: "we know that the current legal immigration system is broken and should be fixed in a deliberate and responsible manner." He also threatened to cancel the September 23rd week-long recess if the House was unable to pass a bill to fund the government before the end of the fiscal year on the 30th.
September 11, 2013
George Gascon, the district attorney of San Francisco, released an editorial chronicling the misguidedness of the federal government's immigration hold policy. He argues that "few [public safety policies] have had as profound an impact on our constitutional rights as the widespread use of immigration holds issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What the federal government touts as a sound public safety practice is having a chilling effect on local law enforcement's effectiveness."
The Third Way demonstrates why "the waiting is the hardest part," in this new infographic that illustrates the outrageous wait times for people attempting to legally immigrate to the United States.
September 10, 2013
Journalists, pundits, lawmakers and advocates alike are making bold predictions about the fate of immigration reform efforts in the House this calendar year. (AILA Doc. No. 13091058.) With 26 Republicans coming out in support of reform with a road to legalization, and increased efforts being focused on Speaker Boehner, many have high hopes. Those hopes were buoyed earlier today, when Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Goodlatte, went on the Kojo Namdi radio show and announced that the House was still working on a legalization plan, and not just for DREAMers. He also said that he believed the full House would begin taking up immigration in October.
September 9, 2013
New Labor Secretary Tom Perez addressed 1600 AFL-CIO delegates at their annual convention this week and addressed the urgent need for Congress to pass immigration reform. "As we pass immigration reform, we're going to enhance opportunities in a lot of these high-demand areas because we have a treasure trove of people who simply need to address their immigration status."
September 6, 2013
Ezra Klein, at the Washington Post, muses on the fate of Rep. John Boehner's speakership after 2014, and what might keep him in office or give him the freedom to retire. Klein proffers that Speaker Boehner "wants at least one legacy-building accomplishment" and that "he'll even stay in Congress to get it." What that legacy issue will be is the real question. Klein seems to think this could work in the favor of immigration reform advocates because it is in the one issue that has some broader bipartisan support, if not a majority of the House Republican conference.
Yesterday, dozens of national immigration advocacy groups held press conferences to announce their intention to up the public pressure on Congress to act on immigration reform. On October 5th, dozens of groups around the country will be hosting local and state-wide events in a "National Day for Dignity and Respect." Find out more about events happening near you at http://octoberimmigration.org.
September 5, 2013
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) became the latest Republican House member to discuss his support for a limited road to citizenship in a recent town hall event.
The NY Times predicts that the Syria crisis, the debt ceiling negotiations and the threat of a government shutdown will push any discussions of immigration reform in the House of Representatives past Thanksgiving. "The House Judiciary Committee had hoped to begin moving piecemeal immigration legislation, but the bills' prospects for House action this fall were already slim before the Syria crisis. Now they will probably slip beyond Thanksgiving."
September 4, 2013
The August Recess is winding down, with some lawmakers even coming back to D.C. early to discuss the crisis in Syria, and immigration reform advocates are taking a long look at the legislative calendar. (AILA Doc. No. 13083060.) If the House of Representatives abides by the current schedule, they will have less than 40 legislative days before the end of the calendar year. And the month of September already seems to be filling fast: with the President asking Congress for approval for military intervention in Syria, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounding the alarm on increasing the debt ceiling, and the looming threat of a government shutdown on October 1st if Congress doesn't pass legislation to fund the government.
Another Republican House member came out in support of a road to citizenship for at least some of the aspiring Americans without papers here today. Rep. Southerland (R-FL), a member of the Tea Party, in an interview with the Miami Herald, expressed the moral dilemma: "We have to address it. It's a moral issue." Rep. Southerland attributed a part of his willingness to speak out to a DREAMer he had met two weeks prior: "He's educated and he's smart. We have to make sure that a young person like that has a way. This is his home. We have to make sure that he has a way to be legitimized as a citizen."
Advocates in Ohio today delivered more than 600,000 petition signatures to Speaker Boehner's (R-OH) district office in support of immigration reform.
United We Dream takes on "The So-Called 'SAFE' Act: the Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly." In their list of the top 11 disturbing facts about the legislation introduced by Rep. Gowdy (R-SC) they highlight that the bill would: eliminate DACA, make it a federal crime to be undocumented, and dramatically expand detention.
September 3, 2013
To date 24 House Republicans have come out in favor of a road to citizenship (America's Voice has the full list). Who are these Republicans and why are they going public, here's MSNBC's thoughts.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a retired director of the U.S. Marshals Service, in a special to The Tampa Tribune list the reasons that the SAFE Act is "anything but." "That's why I believe the SAFE Act would be a disaster, a fact also recognized by the Major City Chiefs Association, which represents the 56 largest U.S. cities, including Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville. Rather than enhance public safety, the SAFE Act will undermine it by destroying community-based policing efforts."
The Immigration Policy Center released a new report chronicling the impact the of the newest immigration, Asian and latino voters. "Amid the current debate on immigration reform, much attention is on House members and how their vote for or against reform will play in their home districts. But many congressional districts have a huge number of naturalized immigrants and young Asians and Latinos who are entering the electorate, and who deeply support immigration reform."
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 presi