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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.

Are House Republicans Backtracking on Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

June 13th, 2013 No comments
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A Democratic leader on immigration reform in the House is chiding Republican colleagues for backtracking on promises to overhaul the nation’s border control laws, signaling fears that a bipartisan compromise in the chamber remains elusive.

“Over the past week, it seems Republicans are having a relapse,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) wrote in an op-ed in the Huffington Post on Thursday. “The anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are metastasizing and causing a substantial case of amnesia about the last election.”

Gutierrez is part of a bipartisan House group that has been working privately on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the group has suffered delays and setbacks for months. Most recently, one of the original eight members, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), dropped out of the coalition, citing a standoff over requirements related to health care for illegal immigrants.

Immigration advocates are hopeful that the House group can come to agreement, which would give Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders the option of moving forward with a comprehensive bill instead of smaller, piecemeal proposals favored by some conservatives.

Fearful that the progress has stalled, Gutierrez hit Republican colleagues for voting last week to defund President Obama’s executive order last summer to defer deportations of young immigrants — known as DREAMers — who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents as children. Republicans said they believe Obama should not have usurped Congress.

Immigration Reform Bill to be Debated on Senate Floor Starting Today

June 11th, 2013 No comments
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The Senate votes for the first time Today on a major immigration reform bill. The result could set the stage for weeks of discussion.

The vote will decide whether to begin debate on this major immigration reform plan that was drafted by eight senators — four Republicans, four Democrats, dubbed the “Gang of Eight.”

Their bill made it out of committee last month where it underwent a lot of changes. This is the next and crucial step — a debate on the Senate floor that will almost certainly involve weeks of discussion and a number of amendments that could make the bill stronger, or could sink the bill.

This is exactly the point in this debate where the immigration reform plan fell apart in the Senate six years ago.

The plan they are debating creates a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million or so illegal immigrants, but only after certain border security improvements are initiated. Illegal immigrants without a criminal record who get a job would be granted legal status, but they would have to go to the back of the line for citizenship, which could take 10 years or so.

DACA Approved for Immigration Client in Anaheim

June 11th, 2013 No comments
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One of our clients in Anaheim was approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He and his family have been clients for a few years as we have tried to find paths to lawful permanent residency. Until DACA went into effect, this client had no viable options for obtaining a green card.

The client, who has lived in Orange County since he was very young, attended and graduated from high school in Costa Mesa. Based on the June 15, 2012 announcement from the Department of Homeland Security, we filed the application for DACA, along with substantial evidence, with USCIS in December 2012. We included evidence to prove that our client qualified and met all the requirements of DACA deferred action including that our client entered the United States before his sixteenth birthday and was under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. We proved that our client has lived in the US for more than five years and has no criminal record of any kind.

Along with the I-765 and I-821, we provided proof that our client was in the US on June 15, 2012 by providing employment records and a gas bill in his name. We proved that our client graduated from a US high school and currently attends school in Orange County. We were happy to receive the approval notice without any request for additional evidence that could delay the processing of the case by many months.

Our client was happy with the result, but we still hope that comprehensive immigration reform will provide a more permanent solution for him. If you are considering the Deferred Action process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you and help you better understand the process and whether you are a likely candidate for approval.

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