March 25, 2013
Sunday's New York Times included a strong editorial from the paper's Editorial Boardin support of strengthening family based categories in immigration reform legislation. They close the editorial with this thought: "Immigration is more than a business relationship America has with selected foreigners. It's a process that renews this country; it means going all-in on America, through binding ties of love and blood. Recruited workers enrich the country. Reunited families do, too."
In this month's edition of Time magazine they chronicle the "Four Hurdles That Could Block Immigration Reform." These include: the Gang of Eight, lobbyists, House Republicans and Democrats.
Today, in a naturalization ceremony at the White House featuring President Barack Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, 28 immigrants became U.S. citizens.The President had this to say on the importance of immigration reform: "Immigration makes us a stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keeps us hungry. It keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country. And if we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest that the world has to offer, then we need to do a better job of welcoming them. We've known for years that our immigration system is broken, that we're not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place here in America. And after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all. The time has come for a comprehensive, sensible immigration reform." (AILA Doc. No. 13032543.)
The Washington Post singled out five Republicans who have made big shifts on their public (and perhaps private) policy stances on immigration. Those profiled include Senators Rand Paul (KY), Marco Rubio (FL) and Representatives Eric Cantor (VA), Bob Goodlatte (VA) and Jim Jordan (OH).
The LA Times profiles cinema's shifting perspective on immigration.
Democratic members of the Gang of Eight, Senators Schumer (NY) and Bennet (CO), will head South this Easter recess to join their fellow Republican members of the Gang, Arizona Senators McCain (R) and Flake (R), to view conditions along the Arizona border.
Tomorrow, AILA, along with the ACLU, First Focus, The Leadership Conference, National Immigration Law Center, Rights Working Group and Women Refugees Commission will host a briefing entitled, "Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Restoring Discretion and Fairness to the Immigration System." (AILA Doc. No. 13032547.) As Congress considers Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it is critical to restore much-needed discretion to immigration judges and immigration adjudicators, to ensure that the immigration system produces fair outcomes, preserves American families, and comports with our Constitution and nation's values.
For the first time in four years, late Friday night into early Saturday morning, the Senate approved a federal government budget in a 50-49 vote. Senators filed over 500 amendments in anticipation of the floor debate, but only a fraction of those were actually voted on during the all-night session. Two amendments were directly related to the anticipated upcoming immigration debate in the Senate-Senator Sessions (R-AL) introduced an amendment to "prohibit illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants granted legal status from qualifying for federally subsidized health care."That amendment failed on a 43-56 vote with Senators Collins (R-ME) and Murkowski (R-AK) joining all Senate Democrats in voting no. Senator Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a competing side-by-side amendment that passed on a voice vote that maintains current law with regards to immigrants' access to certain government benefits. The vote split the Gang of Eight down party lines.
March 22, 2013
Today, the Migration Policy Institute issued an Issue Brief on "Going to the Back of the Line: A Primer on Lines, Visa Categories and Wait times."
Although the self-imposed March 1st deadline for the Gang of Eight to release legislative language on immigration reform has come and gone, the bipartisan Senators in the group remain hopeful that a deal can be reached. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) told a group of protesters that: "The group remains on pace to complete a deal by the end of the month. In fact, we are very, very close to a final agreement."
Yesterday, the Oregon Senate voted 19-11 to approve a bill allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students, the bill now heads to the Governor's desk who has indicated he will sign it into law.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) penned an Op-Ed for the Huffington Post, here is an excerpt: "While immigration reform is clearly an economic issue, it is first and foremost about people. People like me. I want to make sure other families like mine have the same opportunity to come to America, work hard, play by the rules, and find a better life."
March 21, 2013
At yesterday's House Judiciary Hearing with ICE Director John Morton on the release of 2200+ detainees from detention in the last month in response to sequestration, a Republican congressman from Alabama, Rep. Spencer Bachus, asked some surprising questions of ICE Director John Morton on the use of detention to enforce civil immigration laws. A blog by Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service notes that the Congressman asked the following questions of the ICE Director:
· Why don't you do a risk analysis on the detained population? Some of these people are relatives of U.S. citizens, people who came here as children."
· If they're not violent, if they're not repeat offenders, why detain them at all?"
· Why do we spend $164/day to detain these individuals?"
The congressman appeared to answer his own questions with this astute observation: "I would suggest there is an overuse of detention."
On Monday Latino Decision released the next in a series of polls of Latino registered voters' views on potential immigration reform proposals coming out of the bipartisan Senate process. 70% of Latino voters questioned say they support a "clear pathway to citizenship" rather than a bill that waits until the "border is secure."
March 20, 2013
Today, six Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Senators Grassley (IA), Sessions (AL), Hatch (UT), Cornyn (TX), Lee (UT) and Cruz (TX))sent a letter to Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Leahy (D-VT)requesting adequate time to carefully consider any comprehensive immigration bill that might be proposed by the Gang of Eight. (AILA Doc. No. 13032145.)
AILA unveiled a new Resource Page on Family-Based Immigration this week that features case examples, videos and other resources to highlight the importance of family reunification in any immigration reform legislation. (AILA Doc. No. 13032048.) The page was unveiled on the same day that Democratic Senators Mazie K. Hirono (HI), Barbara Boxer (CA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tom Harkin (IA), Brian Schatz (HI), Al Franken (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) sent a letter to the Gang of Eighturging them to prioritize family reunification and clear the backlogs of family visas. (AILA Doc. No. 13032052.) Also this week, Sen. Hirono held a hearing on the impacts of immigration reform on women and families. (AILA Doc. No. 13031246.)
Today, Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, spoke to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the "Economic Benefits of Commonsense Immigration Reform." (AILA Doc. No. 13032042.) The Center for American Progress also released a report detailing the "Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants."
Yesterday, the Immigration Policy Center released a new report: "Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice."
March 19, 2013
The Evangelical Immigration Table announced that they were launching a South Carolina ad campaign in favor of bipartisan immigration reform. The 30 second radio ad will run on 15 Christian radio stations for two weeks and features Rev. Jim Goodroe, Director of Missions at the Spartanburg County Baptist Network. He spoke on why he participated in this radio ad: "As I've gotten to know immigrants, their stories have been varied and shed light on two aspects of immigration. The first is that many of those who are here as undocumented immigrants came legally, but for various reasons it's been hard for them to go back to their home country. ...These are good people who have added so much to our churches, our communities, and our economy…"
Rand Paul has fully embraced the road to citizenship in excerpts from a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "The Republican Party has insisted for years that we stand for freedom and family values. I am most proud of my party when it stands for both … Republicans need to give birth to a new attitude toward immigrants, an attitude that sees immigrants as assets not liabilities…Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base. That they have steadily drifted away from the GOP in each election says more about Republicans than it does Hispanics."
ABC/Univision and USA Today ran two competing articles today demonstrating very different paths forward for the Republican Party and the Latino electorate. The Univision headline: "More Latinos Likely To Vote Republican If Immigration Reform Passes" and the USA Today headline: "Poll Shows Republican Involvement With Immigration Reform Won't Cause Latinos to Vote GOP." Yesterday's GOP Report and Rand Paul's speech today seem to suggest that the Republicans are banking on Univision's reading of the political tea leaves on their ability to court the Latino vote in future elections.
March 18, 2013
The Republican National Committee released their 97 page "Growth and Opportunity Report" today making recommendations for the future of the Republican Party. Page seven of the report includes the following: "We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to Twitter to praise the report's recommendation on immigration.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) chaired a Senate Judiciary hearing today on the importance of including women and families in comprehensive immigration reform.Read AILA's statement and updates from the hearing. (AILA Doc. No. 13031246.)
March 15, 2013
On the same day that AILA, along with other national organizations, hosted a family immigration briefing on the Hill that included AILA President Laura Lichter and an AILA member's client, Nadine Rogers, the Washington Post reports that "key senators are developing plans that would make it harder for the relatives of U.S. citizens to immigrate to this country, while easing the path for more high-skilled foreign workers, according to lawmakers and others negotiating an immigration deal." (AILA Doc. No. 13031153.)
Senator Durbin (D-IL) went on "Fox News Sunday" and had this to say about the two sides of the aisle coming together for immigration reform: "We're dealing with border enforcement, which is very important on the Republicans' side of the table. We're dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes having a path to legalization, then ultimately to citizenship - tough issues, but we're coming together and I think we can do it, I have a positive feeling."
March 14, 2013
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a new website focusing on efforts to pass immigration reform. The site, called The American Opportunity, includes the Chamber's 4 point guide to immigration reform, including: securing our border, improving our global competitiveness, creating a reliable electronic employment verification system and creating a path to citizenship.
Today the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off with a panel entitled: "Respecting Families and the Rule of Law: A Lasting Immigration Policy." The panelists included Helen Krieble of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a prominent Republican voice on immigration in the House of Representative (and a former AILA member). This is in sharp contrast to last year's conference that hosted Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as a keynote speaker on immigration.
On Tuesday, the National Federation of Republican Women issued a press release"urging the federal government to expeditiously reform our nation's immigration system." According to the release the NFRW is one of the largest women's political organizations in the country.
The Immigration Policy Center released a fact sheet today refuting the "back of the line" terminology that has infused both the President's and the Senate's discussion on a road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
March 13, 2013
On April 10th, the day before AILA’s National Day of Action Lobby Day, thousands of immigrants, supporters, AILA members and faith and community leaders will converge in Washington D.C. to call on Congress to create a commonsense immigration reform that includes a realistic path to citizenship. All are invited to attend this historic event that will begin at 3:30pm on Wednesday, April 10th, on the West Lawn of the Capitol (the same side where the Inauguration was held).
The Homeland Security bill contained in the Congressional continuing resolution would give the Homeland Security department $39.6 billion, slightly more than in fiscal 2012. Besides the funding for Immigration and Customs Service detention beds, the bill sustains 21,370 Border Patrol agents in the department’s Customs and Border Protection wing. (via Congressional Quarterly)
Republicans for Immigration Reform just released a $60,000 TV and cable 30 second ad featuring the president of the Charleston, SC Chamber of Commerce praising Senator Graham’s (R-SC) involvement to pass immigration reform. The ad, which ran statewide in South Carolina from March 13th through the 19th, insists that “a modern economy needs modern immigration laws.” Charlie Spies, co-founder and treasurer of Republicans for Immigration Reform had this to say “Senator Lindsey Graham understands that immigration plays an integral role in the way South Carolinians work, live and do business. With Sen. Graham’s support, Republicans can lead the way on a comprehensive immigration reform package that modernizes the laws and encourages economic expansion, competition, and job creation in South Carolina and across the country.”