As House members mull over the proposed immigration reform bill with red pens in hand as they make amendments, immigration advocates are calling on President Obama to halt deportations of undocumented workers.
Activists are asking for a reprieve for unauthorized workers as amendments to the immigration bill are negotiated. They are calling on the president to keep families together until a decision can be made on whether unauthorized workers who have been living in the country before Dec. 31, 2011 would be able to file for legal status and stay. With the Senate working to include provisional resident status in the proposed legislation, activists are hoping the President will start allowing people to stay in the country who may be eligible if they haven’t committed any offenses.
Nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants call the United States home and roughly 1,100 of them are deported from this country daily according to The Washington Post. Under Obama’s presidency around 2 million undocumented immigrants have been deported, averaging between 370,000 to 390,000 a year according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2012, ICE deported the highest number of immigrants in history at just under 410,000 individuals.
Back in February, Obama declined another request to curb deportations because he was focused on getting the reform bill passed. Advocates are calling on the President now as they believe that the political climate has changed since the bill has already been introduced to the Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue to meet throughout the week to amend the legislation and hopes are that a vote will be held on the bill by the end of the month.
With the legislation already being debated in the Senate, do you believe that Obama should halt deportations?
In the much anticipated move, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, out of the committee and on to the full Senate for a vote in the next few days. The bill, also known as Senate Bill 744, has spent the past three weeks in the hands of the Senate Committee being marked up for proposed amendments. More than 300 amendments were offered on every aspect of the bill, but only 48 were passed.
The bill was passed by a bipartisan vote of 13 to 5.
Benjamin Johnson, the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, released the statement below in response to the bill being passed on to the full Senate.
“We congratulate Senator Leahy and the entire Senate Judiciary Committee on the spirit of deliberation, collaboration, and transparency that marked the process. Many amendments added during the mark-up will strengthen the bill in the areas of high-skilled immigration, protections for vulnerable groups and due process. However, other amendments, like those attempting to deny citizenship, may have been driven more by rhetoric than reality. In addition, not providing some relief to siblings who face extreme hardships because of their separation and not ending the discrimination against same sex couples legally married in the United States is short-sighted and bad policy. Yet despite these high costs, the overall bill coming out of committee now gives the Senate an important and rare opportunity to complete the task we have been working on for years—passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that finally moves us to our goal of fixing our broken immigration system.”
Do you think the Senate Judiciary Committee succeeded in passing a comprehensive bill, or do you believe that it’s lacking specific details that you find important for the well-being of undocumented immigrants?
In the midst of immigration reform it appears as though President Obama is choosing his battles.
It was announced last week that the controversial immigration reform bill that Obama has championed during his presidency was causing a stir with LGBT activists who called for an inclusion of rights for gay and lesbian families. Although the President has publicly admitted to supporting the issue to include same-sex families, rumors have circulated that he is concerned that such a contentious matter could kill the bill.
It was back in January when the President first unveiled his immigration reform proposal that initially included same-sex couples. When the bill was introduced in April by the ‘Gang of Eight’ the inclusion was no longer part of the legislation.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that two sources familiar with the Senate deliberations said that the White House reached out to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee, to suggest that “it would be best to put off a controversy over gay marriage until a bill goes before the full Senate.”
With immigration reform being one of the major platforms for Obama’s presidency, it is suggested that it is unlikely that he will veto the bill that does not include a provision for same-sex couples.
Leahy has yet to publicly state whether he will seek a vote on the provision in the committee as he could potentially raise the issue again if the bill goes before the full Senate.
Do you think Obama should fight to include a provision that would include same-sex couples, or should he wait until the bill has been passed to introduce it as an amendment?
The already delicate bi-partisan agreement on immigration reform could be canned before it even becomes law due to a proposal to expand gay rights.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has sponsored an amendment that would allow United States citizens who are in long-term same-sex relationships to sponsor foreign partners for their green cards.
The combination of sensitive issues like immigration and same-sex marriage have some proponents of the new bill worried that it could be too much for some to support.
The Gang of Eight who constructed the immigration legislation and brought it to Senate last month had previously stated that they would fight against “poison pill” amendments that would disrupt the bill.
To date, members of the judiciary panel have proposed more than 300 changes to the bill, but critics are wondering whether this one could be the biggest issue. The Republican members of the Gang of Eight have already made it clear to their Democratic counterparts that this could cause the bill to fail if it’s adopted during the committee’s deliberations.
“This bill has got to get broad support to have a chance in the House, and with that provision it will not have broad support,” said Gang of Eight member Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in an interview with The Hill. “A lot of the coalitions that are behind it will go away, and so I think that’s pretty much understood.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban (D-Ill.), who is also a member of the gang declared earlier last week that he strongly supported the amendment, but wouldn’t say whether he would vote for it if it came up in the committee.
“I support it and hope we can find a way to resolve it,” Durban said to The Hill. “It’s a fair thing to do.”
A maze of red tape and financial hurdles is what many immigrants and permanent residents are faced with when they begin their journey towards securing a green card. The paperwork alone is a heavy burden for those looking to start a new life in the United States and assimilation can be daunting. But one aspect just got a little easier.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced late last month that they would be offering grant opportunities which promote civic integration, allowing immigrants to prepare for permanent residency and citizenship.
USCIS will provide nearly $10 million in funding for such integration programs in communities across the country. It is the goal of the USCIS to “expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services,” according to their website.
The organizations chosen will be expected to provide both citizenship instruction as well as naturalization application services to permanent residents seeking citizenship. The estimated 40 award recipients are expected to be announced in September 2013.
Over the past four years, USCIS has already awarded 142 grants totaling $23.2 million to immigrant-serving organizations. These organizations have gone on to provide citizen preparation services to more than 50,000 people across the country.
Grant applications are due May 22, 2013. For additional information about the program, visit www.uscis.gov/grants.
When it comes to terms used in reference to aspects of the United States government, many are used often in the media with little or no description as to what they mean or who they are referring. It’s common to read through an article and stumble upon a handful of unfamiliar words, especially when thumbing through a legal heavy editorial.
As immigration reform makes headlines with the advent of new proposals that could potentially alter the future of this country, many are left to flip through the dictionary or frantically google terms in a valiant attempt to keep up.
Since we all aren’t fluent in legal jargon, it’s important to learn some of the basics so you can impress your friends with an enlightened conversation during a weekend dinner party or mid-day picnic.
The “Gang of Eight” makes regular appearances in nearly every article written about the new immigration reform, as they should, but exactly who makes up this gang?
The “Gang of Eight” is a term commonly used to reference a set of eight leaders within the United States Congress, four Democrats and four Republican senators. These individuals are responsible for piecing together the new S.744 bi-partisan bill that outlines major changes to immigration in this country.
The group consists of Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).
Among the detailed proposals, the “Gang of Eight” calls for less waiting time for green cards for people with approved visa petitions, to provide green cards to children and young adults who qualify for the Dream Act, and a 241% increase in the number of H-1B visas, among many other things.
The bill was formally filed with the United States Senate late last month, but has yet to be approved.
Not for nothing but here’s a story of sorts that just can’t seem to go away no matter how many times it’s been proven to hold no water. Check this out from our exclusive Associated Press newsfeed:WASHINGTON (AP) – Real estate tycoon Donald Trump said Thursday he isn’t convinced that President Barack Obama was born in the United States ,but says he hopes the president can prove that he was.
Officials in Hawaii have certified Obama’s citizenship, but “birthers” have demanded additional proof. And Trump, who is weighing whether to seek the Republican presidential nomination, says not all the questions haven’t been answered.
In an interview broadcast Thursday, Trump told NBC News he plans to decide by June whether to run, and said that if he is the GOP nominee, “I’d like to beat him straight up,” not on the basis of the question of where Obama was born.
Trump insisted he didn’t introduce the citizenship issue, but he isn’t letting go of it either. Since he was asked about it during an interview several weeks ago, the real estate executive said, he’s looked into it and now believes “there is a big possibility” Obama may have violated the Constitution.
“I’d like to have him show his birth certificate,” Trump said. “And to be honest with you, I hope he can.”
Asked in the interview how genuine his presidential ambition is, Trump said, “I always take things seriously, but I’ve never taken it seriously like this. I wish I didn’t have to do it.”
“I wish this was the greatest place in the world,” Trump said. But he said the United States is losing respect in the world at a time when jobs at home are vanishing. He accused Obama of giving the country “a terrible presidency.”
Trump said that if the current fight over budget issues forces a shutdown, “I think the president will be blamed.”
He accused Obama of conducting a confusing policy on the civil war in Libya, saying “nobody knows what’s happening, and now it looks like (Libyan strongman Moammar) Gadhafi is going to beat the United States.”
“I’m only interested in Libya if we get the oil,” Trump said. He said Obama “doesn’t have a doctrine (on foreign affairs.) Foreign affairs is, we take care of ourselves first”.
Of Obama, he said, “I want him to do well. … I love this country, but this country is going to hell. … The world laughs at us. They won’t be laughing if I’m elected president.”
This whole birth certificate issue was planted throughout the Obama’s initial campaign and was disproved from the get go. Forget whether you like President Obama or not, trying to ‘prove’ to the world that he is not a naturalized citizen is just fantasy.
I thought you might appreciate this from our exclusive Spar & Bernstein AP Newsfeed this morning:
PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona legislators took a timeout from illegal immigration with the Senate easily defeating five related bills, reflecting little appetite for an issue that made the state the focus of national debate and protest last year.
Majority Republicans were split Thursday in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The other three dealt with health care, public services and everyday activities such as driving.
Supporters of the measures voiced frustration and said there could be political fallout for lawmakers who voted against them.
“The lack of political courage” is the only impediment to step up pressure on illegal immigration, said Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the 2010 law.
But business leaders have been urging lawmakers to put the issue aside to avoid damaging the still-ailing economy. The 2010 law known as SB1070 resulted in protests, boycotts and legal challenges. A federal judge has put key provisions on hold.
“It’s time for us to take a timeout,” said Republican Sen. John McComish of Phoenix. “It’s something that the people don’t want us to be focusing on.” Critics also said the bills rejected Thursday were over-reaching and flawed.
The two bills on citizenship were defeated on votes of 12-18 and 11-19 as majority Republicans split on the issue. The chamber’s nine Democrats voted against all of the bills. “I’m hopeful that now we can move on and focus on the business of the state,” Democratic Minority Leader David Schapira of Tempe said after the three-hour floor session.
One of the rejected bills would have required hospitals to contact federal immigration officials or local law enforcement if people being treated lack insurance and can’t demonstrate legal status.
Critics said that would burden hospitals, but Republican Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa said his bill didn’t require much.
“Maybe you forgot it’s illegal to be in this country illegally,” he said during the vote on his bill. “We just ask them to report the crime, not be the judge and executioner.”
Also defeated was a bill to require schools to file reports on enrollments of illegal immigrant students.
The fifth bill was a sweeping measure sponsored by Pearce. It would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona. It also had provisions on registering vehicles, workplace hiring and various public benefits.
It would ban illegal immigrants from attending Arizona’s public universities and community colleges. The state does not now have a ban but it does require illegal immigrants to pay higher, non-resident tuition rates.
Pearce’s bill also would have required eviction of public housing tenants who let illegal immigrants live with them and make applicants for vehicle titles and registration prove they are in the country legally.
Pearce and other supporters said cracking down on illegal immigration would provide relief to taxpayers by cutting costs for education, health care and other services.
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Jan Brewer said she didn’t have positions on the bills and she declined to wave off legislators from taking up the issue of illegal immigration again.
“I believe that illegal immigration is an important subject to the populace in Arizona and is something that probably needs to be further addressed,” said Brewer, a Republican who signed SB1070 into law.
Dozens of CEOs of major employers and business groups signed a letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, saying that passage of additional legislation on illegal immigration would damage the economy and tourism.
Arizona should instead push for federal action on immigration and border issues, according to the letter signed by heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways.
“Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration,” the letter said. “But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur.”