Weekly Washington Outlook — April 27, 2015

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACapitol-Senate.JPG

Image Source: Wikimedia

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1075 – To designate the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the “Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry” (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 651 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the “Sister Ann Keefe Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1690 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 700 Grant Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the “Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 172 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 373 – Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 984 – To amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1324 – Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis / Natural Resources Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider two appropriations bills:

  • R. 2029 – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Appropriations Committee)
  • R. 2028 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Appropriations Committee)

The House may also consider this week the Conference Report to S. Con. Res. 11, the House-Senate negotiated budget resolution, and H.R. 1732 – Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to confirm a nominee to be the Deputy NASA Administrator. Later in the week, the Senate will consider H.R. 1191, legislation that would require Congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran. On Wednesday, the Senate will join House colleagues to hear from his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. It is also possible by Thursday of this week that the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board rule to speed up union elections in certain circumstances.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for an official visit. The two leaders will celebrate the strong global partnership that the United States and Japan have developed during the 70 years since the end of World War II, and underscore the common values and principles that have made the bilateral relationship so enduring.The president and first lady will officially welcome Prime Minister Abe with an arrival ceremony, followed by a bilateral meeting and press conference. The two leaders will discuss a range of economic, security, and global issues, including progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Japan’s expanding role in the Alliance, and climate change. That evening, the President Obama and the first lady will host a State Dinner for Prime Minister Abe.

On Wednesday, the president will honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom.

On Thursday and Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday, “Birthright Citizenship: Is it the Right Policy for America?” The hearing comes after Senator Vitter (D-Va.) offered an amendment several times in the last month that would require parents of children born in the United States to prove their immigration status in order for their children to receive citizenship. This amendment has been widely criticized from both sides of the political aisle as being unconstitutional and contrary to American values. Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee will hear from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on DHS’ FY2016 appropriations request.

Appropriations – The House will vote this week on two appropriations bills: Energy and Water and Military Construction-VA. The amendment process for both bills will be open. Elsewhere, the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee will mark-up its spending bill on Wednesday. In the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the Appropriations Committee Homeland Subcommittee on Wednesday and the NIH Director Francis Collins will testify before the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Budget – The House may vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution. If passed by both chambers, the budget resolution would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to use reconciliation to possibly enact sweeping entitlement, health, and other reforms that could not pass otherwise with the Senate’s filibuster rules. The Senate may also consider the conference report, which is unamendable, this week or next.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee earlier in April. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups. This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point at the end of May or early June.

Health – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the King v. Burwell case before the Supreme Court. The hearing comes shortly after Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced a “contingency plan” backed by Senate Republican leadership if the Supreme Court finds against the federal government.

Border Facilities – The House will vote under suspension of the rules on Tuesday to name the Douglas Border Crossing in Arizona after former Governor Raul Castro. Governor Castro was Arizona’s only Latino Governor and also served as Ambassador to Bolivia and Argentina. He passed away earlier this month.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 24

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Week Ending April 24

This week in immigration reform: update on Texas lawsuit challenging administrative relief; NCLR continues our blog series on deferred action recipients; and USCIS joins with local governments on immigrant integration.

Update on lawsuit challenging executive action: Last Friday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case concerning President Obama’s November executive actions on immigration. An article in Politico notes that the court will likely rule 2-1 against the request for a lifting of the injunction placed on expanded DACA and DAPA by Judge Hanen. The oral arguments took the same tone as the political debate around the president’s contentious actions, and the next step might be taking the case to the Supreme Court. A large group of those supporting President Obama’s executive actions packed the courtroom and held a rally outside the courthouse. A decision from the three-judge panel could come at any time and those familiar with the process believe it will come within the next few weeks.

NCLR features DACA recipient Joel Sati: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series profiles 22-year-old college student Joel Sati, originally from Kenya. Joel learned he was undocumented in high school and slowly began taking classes at Montgomery College in Maryland. He was actively involved with United We Dream and advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act. When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, Joel’s activism paid off. Our blog notes: “For Joel, the impact of receiving DACA was life-changing. After graduating from Montgomery College as a Phi Theta Kappa honor student, he was accepted into the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies at CCNY. Today, the philosophy major juggles a full course load and an internship at an immigration law firm in Harlem.” In the fall he will be applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy and aspires to become a college professor.

Cities recognize importance of immigrant integration: This week USCIS and the city of Atlanta announced a new partnership to strengthen citizenship education and awareness efforts. Atlanta joins three other cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville – to expand access to resources and information regarding naturalization. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed notes, “The contributions of immigrants and foreign-born residents to the cultural and economic fabric of Atlanta are irrefutable. In the City of Atlanta, immigrants are over-represented among the self-employed, and across our state, new immigrant business owners generate business revenue of $2.9 billion a year.  Despite their proven value to our city, thousands of our eligible residents have not yet completed the naturalization process. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce a joint commitment with USCIS to expand access to citizenship in Atlanta, with all its privileges and responsibilities.”

Not only do legal immigrants contribute to the local, state and national economies, but undocumented immigrants do as well. A Washington Post article highlights a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan nonprofit. The report found President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will generate an extra $845 million in taxes annually from immigrants living here undocumented. That is in addition to the $11.8 billion they already contribute.

Congress Strives to Undermine the Consumer Protections It Once Forged

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy and Communications Strategist

The financial crisis united members of Congress to fight for families who lost their homes and watched their retirement savings vanish. Capitol Hill took up the cause and crossed the aisle with a bipartisan law to stall this runaway train. Today, leaders are targeting the very protections they created under the presumption that families are clear of financial danger.

This week, the House of Representatives made one of several attempts to erode consumer protections when it passed the “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act” (H.R. 1195). While the bill itself was fairly innocuous, an amendment was added at the last minute to reduce funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Impairing the CFPB budget is harmful to consumers. It is the only agency wholly devoted to stopping predatory practices by bad market players. In response to the financial crisis, Congress deliberately designed the CFPB to be funded by nontaxpayer dollars, outside of appropriations and, therefore, political influence. The modest funds the CFPB receives and how it receives them are essential to its success when regulating billion-dollar financial institutions.

Since its creation in 2011, the CFPB has made vast improvements to the financial system for consumers. It has worked hard to ensure that Latino families are finally considered in financial policy decisions and that they have recourse when targeted by bad actors. In addition to putting crucial new rules in place to prevent abuses that were at the heart of the financial crisis, it takes on predatory practices that cost vulnerable consumers billions of dollars every year, such as payday lending. CFPB actions have also resulted in firms returning more than $5.3 billion to more than 15 million consumers harmed by bad players.

The consequences will be perilous for families if Congress continues to occupy its time with undoing consumer protections. It should instead build on the successes of the CFPB and take a more constructive tack to make sure families’ needs are met and their consumer rights are protected.

Students! Make This Summer the Summer of STEM

The summer is nearly here. For millions of students across the country, that means summer vacation. But students who want a competitive advantage might consider using some of that time to hone their skills, especially if they are interested in pursuing advanced study and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

If you are interested in a STEM discipline, make sure you are doing at least some of these things:

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Summer STEM Opportunities
You can also start with some of these summer STEM opportunities that we’ve compiled for you. All of these programs offer excellent opportunities for kids interested in the STEM fields. Review the eligibility criteria and deadlines for each program, choose the one that’s best for you, and get in contact right away to begin the application process.

The Connectory
The Connectory is the go-to place for families to discover local STEM opportunities for the children in their lives. This website includes over 5,000 STEM programs for youth across the country.

American Association of University Women Tech Trek
Tech trek is a camp dedicated to coding and app development for middle school girls in 10 states.

GSK Science in the Summer
This free science education program helps elementary school children in the Greater Washington, DC area “grow into science.” Classes are held in public libraries and other community-based organizations and taught by certified teachers via hands-on lessons.

Girlstart STEM Summer Camps
Girlstart aims to increase interest in the STEM fields among young girls through innovative, nationally recognized programs such as the STEM Summer Camps.(Note: There is currently a waiting list for this program.)

STEMbridge
For students in the Austin area, STEMbridge offers a summer computer science program. The course is a rigorous one, but there are no prerequisites and you can be at any point in your high school career.

Code Academy
While Codecademy is not technically a summer program, they offer several free online courses for anyone wanting to further their own coding career. You can read about how our own Jonathan Marrero is using his Codecademy experience here at NCLR.

For more information on NCLR’s STEM education programs, or to bring a program to your community, contact NCLR’s STEM Manager, Juliana Ospina Cano, at jospina@nclr.org. Follow us on Twitter @NCLRSTEM and on Facebook for the latest news and information on our programs.

New Data Show More Latino Workers Being Killed on the Job Despite Decline in Fatal Injuries for Overall Workforce

cement-mason (1)_newThere are many unanswered questions surrounding a scaffolding collapse at a construction site in downtown Raleigh, N.C., last month that left three construction workers dead and another severely injured. But one thing we do know is that all of the workers were Hispanic. While it may take months to figure out how the collapse happened, the fact remains that this incident is part of an alarming trend—Latino workers are seeing a rise in fatal occupational injuries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Latinos experienced the largest increase in fatal work injuries in 2013, a nine percent jump from 2012. Nearly 820 Latino workers died on the job in 2013 compared to 750 Latino workers in 2012. But while the fatality rate for Latino workers increased, there was a slight decrease for the overall workforce.

Part of the issue is that many Hispanic workers are overrepresented in high-fatality industries such as construction. In fact, Latinos account for nearly one-quarter of construction workers. BLS data show that construction deaths are on the rise. In 2013, there was a three percent increase in the number of construction workers killed on the job, reaching the highest number killed since 2009.

While conventional wisdom might suggest that there are obviously going to be more fatalities in a high-risk industry, it’s also important to once again note that fatality rates within the industry are increasing for Latino workers, despite a decline in injury rates for other construction workers.

So what’s going on?

It’s difficult to pinpoint just one issue that’s contributing to this alarming trend. Rather, there are a number of barriers to safe and healthy workplaces that could be exacerbating the problem, specifically for Hispanic workers. Latino immigrants make up the majority of Latino workers who have lost their lives on the job. Language barriers could be one problem, especially if there are communication issues in training and reporting unsafe working conditions. Immigration status and job insecurity could also contribute to a culture of fear that enables unsafe conditions to persist. As noted in a recent NCLR Monthly Latino Employment Report, Latinos are more likely to work in low-wage occupations where labor laws are frequently violated.

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Logistics also play a part. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lacks the funding and staff to inspect every workplace. According to the AFL-CIO’s 2014 Death on the Job Report, it would take federal OSHA an estimated 139 years to inspect each workplace once. Not to mention, we are dealing with industries that have multiple layers of contractors, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine who is responsible for worker training and safety.

However, improvements can be made. As employment picks up again, we cannot gloss over safety issues. For example, we have seen the number of fatalities rise during previous construction booms. We must take a critical eye to what happened then and learn from those mistakes. We can also target outreach and enforcement of labor laws to the most vulnerable workers and to industries that we know are high-risk. Old ways of doing this can be modernized to hold employers accountable in a more complex labor market.

April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day. Let’s honor those who have lost lives to preventable injuries by committing to make every workplace safer so that every Latino worker gets to go home to his or her family.

Living the American DREAM: Joel Sati

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Sati discovered his passion for research after receiving DACA

By Gabriela Gomez, Communications Intern, NCLR

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Joel Sati, center

Last summer, Joel Sati landed the opportunity of a lifetime. The 22-year-old student originally from Nairobi, Kenya, had been accepted into a summer research program hosted by Stanford University and would spend the next eight weeks furthering his interests in political philosophy and immigration theory under the mentorship of some of the brightest scholars in his field.

The City College of New York (CCNY)-Stanford summer exchange program invites CCNY’s most talented students to spend a summer on the sunny Palo Alto campus conducting graduate-level research. Joel was one of ten students invited to participate in this highly selective experience. He was also one of two recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who were selected.

“[It was] an awesome experience,” Joel said. “The ability to sit with preeminent individuals in the field and have their feedback gave me a tremendous opportunity to grow in the field and develop high-quality work.”

But if there is something more impressive than Joel’s academic resume, it’s his story. Rewind the clocks a few years and we’d be meeting a different Joel.

He’d be a high school student reeling from the discovery of his undocumented status just a few weeks shy of graduation. Facing a new set of financial roadblocks, he would no longer be a college-bound senior but rather one facing a life of uncertainty, his college and career aspirations shelved because of his immigration status.

After taking some time off from school, he tried again and enrolled at Montgomery College, but only for one class. “I wasn’t planning on graduating,” said Sati. “I wanted to see if school was the right fit and just wanted to take a philosophy class.”

That class proved worthwhile. By his second semester at Montgomery, Joel was enrolled full time and was a member of the Renaissance Scholars Program. Outside the classroom, he was actively involved in the push for the Maryland DREAM Act and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform with the organization United We Dream. His activism was spurred by the “undocu-friendly” community he had discovered at Montgomery College.

In June 2012, his activism was met with a huge triumph. From the steps of the White House Rose Garden, President Obama announced the creation of DACA, ushering in new hope and a new beginning for so many caught in a broken immigration system and denied an opportunity to thrive in this great nation.

For Joel, the impact of receiving DACA was life-changing. After graduating from Montgomery College as a Phi Theta Kappa honor student, he was accepted into the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies at CCNY. Today, the philosophy major juggles a full course load and an internship at an immigration law firm in Harlem.

“[DACA] had a far-reaching effect,” said Joel. “Since moving to New York, I’ve been able to get really amazing research opportunities. Next fall, I’ll be applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy and hope to one day teach at the college level.”

Though DACA has opened a number of doors for Joel, he is mindful of the work that still needs to be done to fix our broken immigration system and ensure that everyone has a success story to share. He’d like to remind lawmakers in Congress who are working to undo administrative relief the following:

“The immigration system, as it is, is poorly constructed and leads to horrible conditions for many families. I know of a lot of undocumented people—both kids and parents—who do a lot for the better of their communities [but] get such a raw end of that deal.”

CHIPping Away at the Number of Uninsured Kids

By Steven Lopez, Senior Health Policy Analyst, NCLR

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Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R.2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among other things. Since its creation in 1997, CHIP has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children nationwide. According to a Government Accountability Office report, since CHIP began, the percentage of uninsured children has decreased by half, from 13.9 percent in 1997 to 6.6 percent in the first three months of 2014.The same report notes that when compared to uninsured children, CHIP enrollees had better access to care, including preventive care, and had comparable access to care when compared to children with private insurance.

NCLR has been a longstanding advocate of quality, affordable, and accessible health coverage for all and we recognize that by investing in programs like CHIP, we are making a critical investment in the future of the country. CHIP has been a particularly important lifeline for Hispanic children, who are more likely to be covered by the program than by private insurance. A recent evaluation of CHIP highlighted that in the 10 states examined, more than half of the children enrolled were Hispanic. But given today’s climate, just because a program is working doesn’t mean it will avoid being the centerpiece of a political showdown. Luckily, Congress decided that protecting our children’s health and well-being is something that we can all agree upon. And while we would have liked to have seen CHIP extended for four years instead of two, maintaining funding for a program that has been an essential coverage pathway for so many children, particularly Latino children, is certainly a win.

HEALTH-child-getting-ear-checked_1However, the work is not done. Now that we know the program’s funding is secure, we need to ensure those who are eligible are enrolled. Latino children continue to be disproportionately uninsured. In fact, they are 1.5 times more likely to be uninsured compared to all children. However, programs such as CHIP present an opportunity to further reduce this disparity. According to a report NCLR released last fall with Georgetown University, 66.1 percent of uninsured Hispanic children in the United States—or 1.3 million Hispanic children—were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled in 2012. Outreach to eligible families, particularly Latinos, is critical to increasing awareness of CHIP, its benefits, and the fact that unlike the ACA open enrollment period, enrollment in programs like CHIP and Medicaid occurs throughout the year.

We applaud Congress for exemplifying how to solve problems by working together and President Obama for acting swiftly to sign the bill into law. Now let’s make sure that every child not only has the opportunity for coverage, but is enrolled. To learn more about coverage opportunities in your state, go to InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-Kids-Now.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 20, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 471 – Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 535 – Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • Con. Res. 21 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (Sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • Con. Res. 25 – Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and the National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Exhibition (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

The House will also vote Tuesday on H.R. 1195 – Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger / Financial Services Committee).  The Rule calls for two amendments from Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH).

The balance of the week, the House will consider two bills related to cybersecurity:

  • R. 1560 – Protecting Cyber Networks Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes / Permanent Select Intelligence Committee)
  • R. 1731 – National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul / Homeland Security Committee)

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will consider a judicial nomination. Later in the week, consideration of the stalled human trafficking bill will resume. If work on this bill is concluded, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will schedule a vote on Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General. If negotiators are unable to break the impasse, it is likely the Senate will instead move to legislation related to congressional review of the Iran nuclear agreement before sanctions are lifted.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates for a working lunch at the White House to consult on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues.They will discuss joint efforts to counter ISIL and address violent extremism; the recent framework between the P5+1 and Iran to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; cooperation with respect to Yemen; and how best to resolve the conflicts in Libya and Syria. In the afternoon, President Obama will welcome the Ohio State University Buckeyes football team to honor the team on winning the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

On Tuesday, President Obama will welcome Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team members to the White House to honor his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

On Wednesday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, President Obama will welcome the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots to the White House to honor the team and their Super Bowl XLIX victory.

On Friday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Saturday, the president and the first lady will attend the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Also This Week:

Nominations – It is possible Loretta Lynch may be confirmed by the Senate this week.  Senate negotiators are allegedly close to a resolution over controversial abortion language in a stalled human trafficking bill. If the Senate is able to complete work on this legislation, Loretta Lynch will be next on the schedule.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee last week. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups.  This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point in May.

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National Interest will hold a hearing this week chaired by Senator Sessions (R-Ala.) “Eroding the Law and Diverting Taxpayer Resources: An Examination of the Administration’s Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program.” Elsewhere, as Chairman Johnson (R-Wis.) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans possible border security legislation in the coming weeks, he has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday “Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Northern Border.”  Witnesses include representatives from CBP, ICE, the NY U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Budget – House and Senate budget conferees are scheduled to meet Monday to begin work reconciling the two budget resolutions.  Members must reach an agreement on the scope of reconciliations instructions, changes to entitlement programs, and the level of defense spending among other differences.  House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) has asked conferees to complete work in the next two weeks.

Appropriations – The House Appropriations Committee will vote on Wednesday on the 302(b) allocations for FY2016 appropriations bills. These allocations take the overall $1.1017 trillion top-line discretionary spending level and divide these funds amongst each of the 12 appropriations bills the committee must draft and move to the floor. The Labor-HHS-Education bill, one of the more contentious, will reportedly be cut by $3.7 billion in the House allocation. The Committee will also mark-up the Energy-Water Development and Military Construction-VA spending bills. Elsewhere, the Senate Appropriations Committee has a busy week of hearings scheduled.  Notably, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will appear before the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee on Wednesday and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell will appear before the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Financial Services – The House will vote on legislation, H.R. 1195, which would establish three advisory boards within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This bill passed 53-5 out of the Financial Services Committee. The Rule for floor consideration automatically amended the measure, however, to include language limiting the amount of money the CFPB could request from the Federal Reserve (the CFPB receives the majority of its funding from the Federal Reserve). A number of Democratic House members, including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) oppose the change.

First Recommendations for Integrating New Americans Issued

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This week, the Task Force on New Americans issued its first report to President Obama, recommending ways that the federal government can more effectively support the successful integration of new Americans. As part of the president’s executive actions announced last November to address the nation’s broken immigration system, the Task Force was formed to recommend federal strategies that will strengthen communities and maximize the contributions of immigrants, who today represent nearly one-fifth of the U.S. labor force.

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States experienced a massive and unprecedented wave of immigration that, in relative terms, has yet to be equaled. According to the Migration Policy Institute, from 1860 to 1920 immigrants composed 13–15% of the U.S. population. Starting in 2013, for the first time in a century, the immigrant share of the U.S. population once again approached historic highs.

As with previous waves of immigrants, these new Americans face a number of obstacles. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly half of the legal immigrants arriving annually to the U.S. lack full proficiency in English, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that over two-thirds of the foreign-born population do not have a postsecondary degree. This is troubling, since 19 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations require some form of higher education or additional training.

Marlene-SeptThe response toward these new arrivals has been lackluster compared to previous generations. The successful incorporation of millions of newcomers into the fabric of our society a century ago is one of our country’s signature achievements. These immigrants did not do it on their own; rather, they received significant help from all levels of government and charitable institutions. Today, as success requires higher levels of educational attainment and English language proficiency, our nation has moved away from providing a coordinated government response to help immigrants integrate into American life. The work of the Task Force on New Americans implicitly acknowledges that more must be done.

Among the report’s recommendations from NCLR and other stakeholders, it calls for the creation of a Welcoming Communities Challenge. Inspired by an NCLR recommendation, this competitive funding opportunity would encourage communities to create tailored plans to meet immigrants’ needs in addressing civic, linguistic, and economic integration. While the details are still under review, this challenge would encourage recipients to design programs for local conditions that could provide innovative models for scalable, replicable projects in the future. Without being overly prescriptive, the Welcoming Communities Challenge would highlight best practices that coordinate the three pillars of integration. Immigrants and communities alike would benefit from the inclusion of civic, linguistic, and economic integration in a cohesive policy.

We know too well that questions about who, and how many, should be allowed to enter the country will always be controversial, but there should be no debate about our shared interest in rapidly and fully integrating Americans-in-waiting. Our future economic prosperity, national security, and social cohesion rest in part on how well we meet this challenge.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 17

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Week Ending April 17

This week in immigration: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments in case on administrative relief; Taskforce on New Americans releases recommendations; NCLR continues blog series featuring DACA recipients.

Update on lawsuits challenging executive action: This week, a panel of three judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the preliminary injunction halting the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) on April 17. The panel was announced earlier in the week leading some analysts to speculate that the two conservatives on the panel may vote to uphold the district court’s ruling. Advocates and families (including from NCLR Affiliates TIRRC, Latin American Coalition, and others) are gathering outside the courthouse to demonstrate support for administrative relief and to show that the president’s actions are in the best interest of the country.

White House Task Force on New Americans Releases Recommendations: On April 14, a Task Force that was created as part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in November released its plan to strengthen integration efforts. The Task Force solicited input from a wide array of stakeholders, including NCLR and its vast Affiliate Network.  Among the report’s key recommendations are enhancing the capacity of the AmeriCorps VISTA program to build more welcoming communities, promoting citizenship and naturalization through public awareness campaigns and direct outreach to eligible Lawful Permanent Residents, increasing access to housing, expanding Small Business Administration tools, and increasing access to English-as-a-second-language and early learning resources. The report also commits to launching a Welcoming Communities Challenge to encourage local governments to implement tailored integration strategies for their communities. “We are pleased with the Task Force’s initial set of recommendations to promote the successful incorporation of millions of new immigrants into the fabric of our society, and we are anxious to see them turned into action,” said NCLR Senior Legislative Analyst Victoria Benner. “While federal agencies and community-based organizations stand ready to do their part, ultimately we need Congress to pass bipartisan legislation like the New American Success Act and the private sector to step up in helping our nation meet this important challenge,” concluded Benner.

NCLR features DACA recipient Katherine Perez: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series features the story of Katherine Perez, who arrived from Colombia as a young girl and worked hard to do well in school. Her hard work paid off as she was able to continue her studies as a result of a private scholarship that allowed her to enroll at Montgomery College. She is a DACA recipient and as a result she now looks to her future with renewed hope and resolve. She has transferred to the University of Maryland College Park and is majoring in science. “I have a job and I am in the process of getting my driver’s license. I can now save money to pay for next semester and help out at home with the expenses. I feel more empowered and in charge of my life,” said Katherine.