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Posts Tagged ‘immigration reform’

DREAMers Push For Path to Citizenship

July 12th, 2013 No comments
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Ahead of a Wednesday meeting of House Republicans to discuss various options on immigration reform, hundreds of DREAMers—young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children—held their own version of a citizenship ceremony and rally yesterday to push for legislation that will provide a roadmap to citizenship for not only themselves but for millions of other undocumented immigrants as well. “We have come today to claim our citizenship,” said United We Dream’s Lorella Praeli. “2013 is not the time for separate but equal. It is not the time for legalization for some and citizenship for others.”

However, it seems some members at the House meeting didn’t get the message. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and other members suggested there is a growing consensus on permitting DREAMers to achieve citizenship, like the DREAM Act, but not for other groups of undocumented immigrants. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also referred to citizenship for immigrants who came here as children as “a good place to start.” And in late June, Cantor said, “Certainly we ought to have the compassion to say these kids shouldn’t be kids without a country, and we ought to allow them the life that they deserve.”

But at the United We Dream rally, DREAMers made it clear that they do not want a bill that only creates a path to citizenship for those who entered the U.S. when they were young. Instead, many speakers emphasized that a path to earned citizenship should include their parents—who they called the “original DREAMers”—and siblings. Evelyn Rivera, who is originally from Colombia but grew up in Orlando, Florida, spoke about reuniting with her mother, who was deported six years ago, at the U.S.-Mexico border and only being able to hug her through a 16-foot fence. “I believe in an America where I don’t have to choose between my home or my family,” Rivera said.

A bill that creates a roadmap to earned citizenship for a small group of immigrants is not only unfair but would perpetuate the current problems. As researcher Lisa Roney explains, the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) excluded family members who did not qualify on their own merits, reducing participation in the legalization program. Later legislative and administrative efforts gave provisional legal status and work authorization to many family members, but Roney writes, “Doing so originally would have been far more efficient and humanitarian.” And IRCA created mixed status families when a few family members could earn citizenship while their relatives remained undocumented, leaving families in fear of being separated by deportation.

Setting the humanitarian issues aside, limiting legalization restricts the enormous economic boon a full-legalization program and eventual path to citizenship would be for the U.S. economy. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, “If the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were provided legal status, then the 10-year cumulative increase in the gross domestic product, or GDP, of the United States would be $832 billion.” Over that period, immigration reform would create 121,000 jobs. Opening up a path to earned legal status for all undocumented immigrants would boost the U.S. economy while also helping families, who have roots in local communities, to stay together.

As the demographics in the U.S. change, immigrants will be an integral part of the country’s future. Almost nine in 10 undocumented immigrants want to be citizens. And the U.S. public wants them here, as indicated by a Gallup poll this week that found a record 72 percent of Americans believe that immigration is a plus for the U.S. At the end of the rally Wednesday, DREAMers recited their own oath of citizenship until they can be U.S. citizens. “I hereby pledge to live out the highest values of this land,” they pledged. “I am the future of this nation. I am the American dream.”

Conservative Groups Push for Boehner to Take Up Immigration Reform

July 9th, 2013 No comments
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Three influential conservative groups on Tuesday urged Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pursue immigration reform in the House.

In a letter to Boehner, American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said their groups support many of the key elements in the immigration reform bill recently passed by the Senate, including the pathway to citizenship.

But the group leaders told Boehner the House should take up the issue to ensure that a final version of the law adheres more closely to conservative principles.

“The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that we consider progress,” the letter reads in part.

“But members of the House will correctly pursue their own legislation. This will ensure that any final product has considerable conservative input, and that certain aspects of the Senate bill are markedly improved. Whether a comprehensive bill or a piecemeal approach, we support an immigration reform package that reflects the economic contributions that immigrants make to our country.“

Boehner has said he has no intention of taking up the Senate immigration reform bill because it doesn’t have majority support from his caucus, and on Monday he announced the House would pursue an immigration overhaul of its own.

The Speaker said any bills that come out of the House would also require majority support from his caucus to see a floor vote.

Still, not all conservatives are on board with the House pursuing immigration reform.

The editors of two influential conservative magazines — William Kristol of The Weekly Standardand Rich Lowry of the National Review — on Tuesday shared a byline on an editorial called “Kill the Bill,” in which they argued there’s “no rush to act on immigration” and Republicans eager to address the issue are doing so in a “political panic.”

“If Republicans take the Senate and hold the House in 2014, they will be in a much better position to pass a sensible immigration bill,” the editorial reads in part.

Kristol and Lowry conclude by suggesting the House “not even bother” with the issue because whatever it passes will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

Holtz-Eakin, Norquist and Cardenas tried to point out areas of the debate where it believes Senate Republicans tried to move the bill in a more conservative direction but were blocked by Democrats in the Senate. They argue these were issues the House now has an opportunity to muscle through.

Their letter singled out amendments from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would cap low-skill visas, one from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would provide more high-skilled visas, and one proposed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that would require a five-year waiting period for green card holders to apply for federal healthcare benefits.

But perhaps the thorniest issue Boehner faces is the timing for when illegal immigrants would be eligible for provisional legal status on the path to full citizenship.

In the Senate bill, immigrants would become eligible as early as six months after enactment of the law. Many conservatives — including Boehner — want specific border security enhancements fully implemented and measured for their veracity before legalization occurs.

The letter from the conservative groups pressed for “a tough but humane process to earned legal status,” but didn’t break down what that might entail.

Florida Tea Party Turns Against Senator Marco Rubio for Pro-Immigration Reform Stance

July 9th, 2013 No comments
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When Sen. Marco Rubio turned 42 on May 28, his Facebook page was swamped with more than 4,000 messages from people livid with him for championing the immigration reform bill that was moving through the Senate. The notes variously called him a turncoat, a RINO, a traitor, or worse. Some birthday greetings suggested he celebrate in Mexico, Cuba, or hell, while one cheerfully said, “Happy Birthday! Now Resign!”

But the real backlash for Rubio came a month later, after he voted for the Senate immigration reform bill. Senators headed home for the weeklong July 4 recess, or in Rubio’s case, a week of conservative blowback and hometown heartache, including a Tea Party protest in front of his Miami office.

“It was like a suicide mission that has served no purpose that we can tell,” said Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the Florida-based National Liberty Federation, of Rubio’s lead role on immigration reform. “The feedback I’ve received is that people are extremely upset with Marco. Tea Party members who were active with us and helped get Marco elected—several have said they’re no longer going to support him.”

Wilkinson organized the first Tea Party event ever held in West Palm Beach, complete with a little-known Senate candidate named Marco Rubio. Rubio’s speech was a hit and his name was passed among Tea Party groups throughout the state and the country.

But at the time, Wilkinson also said some Tea Party supporters quizzed Rubio on his immigration stance and now believe he has taken the opposite position.

“He specifically said he wanted to enforce the borders and have a wall, and make immigration something that you have to earn and that that he wasn’t going to support amnesty,” Wilkinson said. “It’s left a lot of us wondering what happened.”

Although Tea Party supporters alone did not elect Rubio to the Senate, their early advocacy for him, and against Gov. Charlie Crist, gave Rubio crucial momentum, exposure, and a national fundraising network that undoubtedly fueled his rise against the better-known governor.

A split now with conservatives and Tea Party members—the base of his base—will make Rubio a different kind of Republican going forward, for better and worse.

Juan Fiol, a libertarian Republican from Miami who volunteered for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, says he won’t vote for Rubio again, nor will many Latinos he knows. “His own volunteers are turning against him. He’s in a lot of trouble,” Fiol said. “I am a Republican, but I do not identify with Rubio anymore. He could have been our savior, and he’s the nail in our coffin.”

Like Wilkinson, Fiol says Rubio “flip-flopped” on his immigration position since 2010. “He ran against this, that’s what bothers me,” Fiol said. “Quite a few times on Fox News, he would say, ‘I am for legal immigration. I am for securing the border.’ Then he turns around and supports amnesty. He might as well switch parties right now. He’s done.”

Read more: http://politics.kfyi.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=104707&article=11461580#ixzz2YaUH4a4F

House Republicans Feel No Pressure to Pass Immigration Reform

July 3rd, 2013 No comments
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House Republicans aren’t feeling pressure to tackle comprehensive immigration reform — not from the Senate, not from the business and religious communities and not from the many GOP-aligned groups backing the effort.

From Karl Rove to Jeb Bush to Grover Norquist, an array of Republican heavyweights have called on the House GOP to embrace immigration reform.

Yet the response from many House conservatives has been little more than a shrug.

“The economy is still the main issue,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He cited healthcare as another more pressing national priority than immigration.

Like many in the House GOP, Scalise wants to strengthen border security and fix the broken parts of the immigration system, but he and other Republicans see few incentives in agreeing to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants despite warnings of demographic doom for the GOP in national elections if the party doesn’t improve its standing with Hispanic voters.

Indeed, many rank-and-file Republicans see danger in voting for a bill that could hurt them in districts that in most cases are dominated by conservative white voters.

“I don’t really feel the public is up in arms right now,” said one House Republican leadership aide, echoing a sentiment expressed by several GOP lawmakers in recent weeks.

Democrats and immigration reform advocates say that will change.

“They’re going to feel a desire to get this done quickly,” an architect of the Senate bill, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), said on “Fox News Sunday.” He argued the House would be unable to pass its own bill and would eventually relent and accept the Senate proposal, a scenario Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has ruled out in no uncertain terms.

“This has the potential for being one of the greatest civil rights movements we’ve ever seen,” Schumer said. “I could see a million people on the mall in August asking for the bill. And who’s going to be on stage? Not the usual suspects but the bishops, evangelicals and business leaders.”

Republicans are doubtful. “It’s entirely possible that large public demonstrations could do more harm than good,” the House leadership aide said.

At the behest of the Speaker , the House is taking a more deliberate, methodical approach to immigration reform than the Senate and will begin in earnest with a special meeting of the Republican Conference on July 10.

Whether that listening session leads to swift floor votes in July or a much longer wait until the fall remains to be seen.

An obstacle for the immigration push has been a growing divide between senior members of the Republican establishment like Rove, Bush and Norquist, who believe a solution is necessary to make the party viable in the 2016 presidential election; and House lawmakers who have few Hispanic voters in their districts and are more vulnerable to Tea Party-backed challenges.

The conservative bent of some House districts has made the element of immigration reform that Democrats consider most essential — a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants — a difficult if not impossible lift for many lawmakers.

Boehner has said he wants to tackle the issue but has kept quiet on the question of a path to citizenship and decreed that any immigration bill that comes to the floor gain a majority of Republican votes. With a bipartisan group slow to release its bill, the House is more likely to advance individual proposals on border security, interior enforcement and a guest-worker program that the Judiciary Committee has approved along party lines.

But some House conservatives are opposed to any immigration legislation moving forward on the grounds that it could provide a vehicle to set up a conference committee — and an eventual compromise — with the Senate.

“My position is, don’t bring anything to the floor,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said. “Nothing good could come from that.”

Hispanic advocates acknowledge the House dynamic, but they counter that the coalition in favor of reform is significantly broader than it was during the last attempt at immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.

“Even though there may not be significant numbers [of Latino voters] in every congressional district, there are certainly Catholic parishes in all of these districts, there are Southern Baptists in many of these districts, there are evangelicals, there are businesses, there are unions,” said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. “This coalition is broader than just Latinos … and immigrants. It is a very broad coalition, and there is a commitment by all of the members of this broad coalition to make sure that everybody who has constituents … understand that this is a top priority.”

As for the possibility that the House could advance only narrow enforcement-focused bills, advocates said they were concerned more about the ends than the means.

“Just vote on something,” urged Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza. “We know that if there is a bill that is voted on in the House of Representatives, it will be conferenced with the Senate bill. So just vote on something and let them conference. The conference will be a place where we can negotiate the differences.”

Republican lawmakers say they have heard from religious and business groups, but they contend those communities are not as unified as advocates suggest.

“The faith community is divided on this issue as well,” Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said.

“It’s not just churches saying, ‘Gosh, these are nice people,’ ” he added.

People in the faith community are not simply pushing to pardon illegal immigrants, Lankford said, but they want a solution that allows people who committed a felony by entering the country illegally to seek “reconciliation” and make themselves “right by the law.”

Business groups, Lankford said, were also “pretty divided,” particularly over the particulars of future flow of immigrants and a guest-worker program.

Immigration Reform Could Help Reunite Families Separated By Prior Deportations

July 2nd, 2013 No comments
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An immigration bill passed last week by the Senate would create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

But there’s another group that could be affected: the deported and those who were once undocumented but chose to leave.

The Senate bill would allow previously deported spouses, children and parents of permanent residents and citizens to apply for a provisional immigration status. The same would go for some young immigrants, aka DREAMers, who lived in the U.S. but have since been removed or voluntarily left the country.

Why did people leave? In some of those cases, years without the chance to work legally, see family or even drive a car was a motivation to “self-deport.” So an immigration reform bill represents a new opportunity, but it also makes for a tough decision about whether or not to return to the U.S.

The bill that passed in the Senate doesn’t offer a way for undocumented immigrants to bring family members who have been removed back to the U.S. The only people who might have the option to return would be qualifying DREAMers or the spouses, children or parents of permanent residents or citizens.

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas Nominated as Deputy Secretary of Department of Homeland Security

July 2nd, 2013 No comments
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As Director of USCIS for the past four years, Mayorkas has led the agency that oversees the largest immigration system in the world. He is responsible for enhancing USCIS’ efforts to grant immigration and citizenship benefits to those deserving under the law, ensure the integrity of the immigration system, prevent fraud and protect national security, provide accurate and useful information to customers, and promote an awareness and understanding of the citizenship process. Director Mayorkas has also overseen USCIS’ effort to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing certain individuals who were brought to the United States as children and who meet specific criteria, in line with the Department’s enforcement priorities, the opportunity to be considered for deferred action.

Prior to serving as Director of USCIS, Mayorkas was a partner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In 1998, President Clinton nominated him to be the U.S. Attorney for the Central
District of California. In that role, he led an office of 240 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and oversaw the prosecution of cases of national as well as international significance. While serving as U.S. Attorney, he also served as the Vice-Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Civil Rights and as a member of the Subcommittee on Ethics in Government.

Director Mayorkas’ experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue the critical work of protecting this country from threats of all kinds. I congratulate him on his nomination as Deputy Secretary of this Department.

Until Director Mayorkas is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rand Beers will continue to serve as Acting Deputy Secretary. From the first day of this Administration, Acting Deputy Secretary
Beers has been one of my most trusted advisors, and continues to provide invaluable counsel and guidance on a wide spectrum of homeland security issues, from counterterrorism efforts to cybersecurity.

Jeb Bush – The Senate Immigration Reform Bill Advances Republican Economic Growth Objectives

July 2nd, 2013 No comments
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Now that the Senate has passed comprehensive immigration reform, the action shifts to the House of Representatives. Here the GOP’s informal “Hastert Rule” requires Speaker John Boehner to have majority support among Republicans before he will bring legislation to the floor for a vote. That means an immigration bill will need a far greater share of Republican House members than the Senate version received (where fewer than one-third of Republicans voted “aye”).

This is a tall order. But it is one to which House Republicans should respond.

No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economic growth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, and failed to ensure a secure border. Yet they essentially will do just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform—and leave in place a system that does all of those things.

To grow economically, the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing. Yet only 13% of the immigration visas each year are issued for work or special skills. Nearly two-thirds go to relatives of existing residents, under an expansive definition of family preferences that includes not just spouses and minor children but parents, siblings and unmarried adult children.

Family preferences crowd out the work-based immigration this country needs. In particular, America’s educational system produces only a fraction of the high-skilled workers required for technology jobs.

U.S. universities still attract the world’s best and brightest, but few foreign students are allowed to remain after graduating. Many return home or go on to other countries with more sensible immigration policies. Canada has one-tenth of our population—yet it issues far more high-skilled visas (more than 150,000) yearly than we do (65,000).

Illegal immigration results now because there are too few lawful low-skill job opportunities for immigrants. But in both high- and low-skilled industries, the actual alternative to importing workers is not hiring more Americans but exporting jobs.

Today, working-age immigrants contribute to the economy and more to social services than they consume. America needs more of them. Doubling GDP growth to 4% from the anemic 2% that has become the new normal would create more than $4 trillion in additional economic activity in the 10th year—more than the entire current GDP of Germany. It would also add $1 trillion in recurring tax revenues.

The Senate immigration reform addresses most of the flaws of the current system. It reduces family preferences, increases the number of high-skilled visas, expands guest-worker programs, and creates a merit-based immigration system for people who want to pursue the American dream. It also offers a path to citizenship for those who were brought here illegally as children, and dramatically increases resources and tools for border security.

The bill also invites people who came here illegally to come out of the shadows through a provisional resident status. It does not provide an amnesty, that is, a pardon. The Senate bill creates a 13-year probation during which those who came illegally must pay a series of fines and back taxes, undergo background checks, are ineligible for most social services, and must work continuously.

Overall, the bill satisfies a criterion that is essential to the rule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the Senate bill would reduce the budget deficit by more than $1 trillion over 20 years, boost the economy and increase productivity, without reducing the wages of U.S. workers. In short, it advances Republican economic growth objectives.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Passes Key Senate Test

June 25th, 2013 No comments
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Yesterday, the Senate signaled its support for a bipartisan measure strengthening border security in the comprehensive “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill, a sweeping blueprint that promises to overhaul America’s immigration policies for the first time since 1986.

The 67-to-27 vote was considered a key test of support for the bill as a whole, as the measure also includes language echoing most other parts of the legislation.

The Senate kept the vote open for a significant amount of time for lawmakers who experienced travel delays due to bad weather in Washington. Some senators did not make it in time.

Supporters needed at least 60 votes to move forward with the revised border security provisions, which were drafted partly to boost GOP support for the overall package.

Backers of the bill were hoping to win about 70 votes to demonstrate growing bipartisan momentum for the larger proposal as it nears final passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate and heads to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Senate leaders are currently on track to hold a final vote on the bill itself before Congress breaks for its July 4 recess at the end of the week.

If enacted, the bill would create a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“When the immigration bill passes, (GOP Speaker John Boehner) should bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives quickly,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

Congressional Budget Office Reports that Senate Bill 744 Would Save the U.S. Nearly $900 Billion

June 20th, 2013 No comments
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WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional budget analysts said Tuesday that legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws would cut hundreds of billions from the federal deficit over the next two decades.

A long-awaited analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that the benefits of an increase in legal residents from immigration legislation currently being debated in the Senate – which includes a pathway to citizenship – would far outweigh the costs. “The findings in this report give proof that implementing smart immigration reform will strengthen the U.S economy,” said Laura Lichter, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ms. Lichter continued, “Creating an immigration system that puts immigrants on a path to citizenship will not only boost wages and entrepreneurship, but will also bring more tax contributions and spending to small businesses in their local economies.”

The report estimates that in the first decade after enactment, the immigration bill’s net effect of adding millions of additional taxpayers would decrease the federal budget deficit by $197 billion, even with higher spending on border security and government benefits. Over the next decade, the report found, the deficit reduction would be even greater – an estimated $700 billion, from 2024 to 2033.

“Now that they have this new report in hand, showing that the benefits of immigration reform will make a real difference to our country, there is no excuse for Congressional inaction. We need the Senate to move forward with renewed momentum and forge a bipartisan consensus to fix America’s broken immigration system,” Ms. Lichter concluded.

House Republicans Introduce the SAFE Act – An Enforcement Only Immigration Bill

June 18th, 2013 No comments
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On 6/6/13 Rep. Gowdy (R-SC) introduced the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” (the SAFE Act) as H.R. 2278.  The Nunez Firm strongly opposes the SAFE Act because it would criminalize undocumented immigrants, give states and cities authority to enact their own immigration laws, inflate an already costly detention and enforcement apparatus, and perpetuate the failures of the existing system.

Contact your congressional representative today and tell them to oppose the house bill.

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