This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending October 9


Week Ending October 9

This week in immigration reform: White House commemorates 1965 Immigration Act; Survey finds DACA recipients making positive contributions; and U.S. Senate attacks sanctuary city legislation.

White House Recognizes 50TH Anniversary of Immigration Act: Last week marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the White House joined organizations across the country in recognizing the momentous law. On Monday, fourteen new Americans from countries such as Vietnam, Chile, Venezuela, and Ethiopia were sworn in during a special naturalization ceremony on the White House grounds. The 1965 Immigration Act was significant in creating the demographic makeup seen in America today by prohibiting discrimination based on country of origin. As a result, the Pew Research Center reports that the nation’s foreign-born population is more diverse and has grown nearly fivefold in the past 50 years, from 9.6 million to 45 million. In a statement, President Obama remarked, “immigration contributes to our economic growth by allowing hard-working, entrepreneurial individuals from around the world to pursue the American dream.”

New Report Finds DACA Recipients With Improved Outlook On Future: A report released this week by United We Dream shows that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have made significant personal and professional gains since applying for DACA status. A survey in the report found that 90 percent of respondents had acquired a driver’s license, 40 percent had bought their first car, and over half (51.9%) got their first credit card. Over three in four respondents reported finding a new job since DACA, and 51.7 percent reported obtaining a higher paying job. Perhaps most uplifting is that the survey found that 80 percent of immigrants felt more likely to achieve their career goals, and over 70 percent say that they now feel more like they belong in the United States. NCLR and our Affiliates have been taking active roles in DACA outreach, with organizations like the Latin American Youth Center hosting DACA clinics.

U.S. Senators Face Debate Over Sanctuary Cities: Senate Republicans plan to bring a bill to a vote later this month that would withhold important funding sources from localities that establish community trust policies. Opposition to the legislation includes civil rights organizations, community development organizations, organizations that support survivors of domestic violence, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The bill was introduced at the end of July, but disagreement over the inclusion of a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years for an illegal reentry offense, a clause supported by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has prevented the legislation from being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This week, GOP Senators have requested Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bill straight to the Senate floor, a process which began on Wednesday.

Five Million Working Families Will Suffer if Congress Fails to Act

Why saving tax credits is so important to working families

 By Stephanie Román, Economy Policy Analyst, NCLR

How often do you think about tax credits outside of the day you prepare your taxes or get your tax refund?

It’s true that a lot of us don’t think about tax credits often, but we should be thinking about them now because they might disappear if we don’t act to save critical improvements.

During the recession, lots of families were struggling, so both parties in Congress agreed to help working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) so even very low-income working families could get a partial credit. These tax credits help families with the cost of raising children and reward families who don’t earn very much. If these credits are worth more than what someone owes in taxes, they can receive the difference as a tax refund.

I was recently in Miami at the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s event Viva Miami to talk to real people about why they might lose part or all of their CTC and EITC refund. I didn’t expect people to be interested in this topic, but they proved me wrong. These families were interested in talking about these tax credits because they make a real difference in their lives. While there, I met Karen, a single mother of three. Karen told me it would be extremely harmful to her family if the improvements to the CTC expire. She works hard to support her kids yet is still living paycheck to paycheck. Though the recession has officially ended, research shows that many working families like Karen’s are not earning enough to cover their basic expenses. Latinos are hit especially hard—more than 40 percent bring home poverty-level wages despite their huge contributions to the U.S. economy. The CTC refund averages $1,000 and helps families fill the gap and provide funds that can be used for savings, to make a needed purchase, or go toward rent and mortgage payments.

The Mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, who also participated in this event, is another person who believes in the effectiveness of the CTC and EITC. He spoke compellingly about how he’s seen the tax credits work in Miami. To him as to many others, “saving the credits is an important and human issue.” With so many working families struggling to get by in a tough economic recovery, it just doesn’t make much sense for Congress to allow these vital enhancements of the EITC and CTC expire. As I learned from talking to families in Miami, the stakes are high. If these critical tax credits expire, Latinos would be especially harmed because they make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers who qualify for the EITC and CTC. In 2013, Latinos made up 17 percent of the U.S. population but 28 percent of the working poor.

This fall, as Congress considers renewing some business tax credits that are expiring, it should not forget about the millions of families like Karen’s who depend on these pro-work tax credits. If Congress doesn’t act to save these credits, five million Latino families will lose an average of $1,000 each and 50 million Americans, including 25 million children, will lose part or all of their EITC or CTC. These tax credits make a difference in the lives of millions and we have to make sure Congress does the right thing for hardworking families struggling to get by.

And Justice For All: 21st Century Policing

by Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, NCLR

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed an executive order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, a committee composed of law enforcement, academics, and community organizers. The task force’s mission was to “examine, among other issues, how to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction.” Their final report, issued last May, consists of six pillars: Building Trust and Legitimacy, Policy and Oversight, Technology and Social Media, Community Policing and Crime Reduction, Training and Education, and Officer Wellness and Safety. Within these pillars, the report offers 59 recommendations and close to one hundred specific action items in order to achieve the task force’s goals.

Jose Lopez, who currently serves as Director of Organizing for Make the Road New York, a New York City–based immigrant justice organization, was chosen to serve on the panel that authored the report. Lopez agrees that there are larger issues at play than just poorly trained, trigger-happy police officers. He views policing in a historical context, commonly used for “racialized social control.”

“When you think of it in that way, you see it as housing, you see it in the denial of voting, and you see it as the denial of higher education, no access to financial aid,” said Lopez. “It’s interesting that today it is still completely legal to discriminate against criminals in the way that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans in the Jim Crow South.”

Lopez made it clear that when we talk about policing, however we frame it, we need to be moving away from discrimination. “When I think about 21st-century policing, I think about it from the lens of the young people whom I work with on a daily basis; what do they experience, and how does policing impact them and their communities?”

Alonzo Dario tests the patience of Phoenix Police Officer Young during the “Day of Action” march. (Cop_Youngster by Dan Shouse, licensed under CC BY-NC)

For Latino communities, Lopez highlights the need to disentangle local law enforcement with immigration enforcement. While this is not the sole cause of friction between police and Latinos, it would certainly go a long way to rebuilding the trust and confidence Latinos have in law enforcement.

“If immigrant communities only see police as the gateway to deportation, there will absolutely never be any trust there or any push from the immigrant community to want to come forward, for example, to report a crime that they may have witnessed,” said Lopez. By putting police officers on the front lines of America’s immigration battle, public confidence in law enforcement is eroded, especially for Latinos.

He also describes problems stemming from the expansion of the National Crime and Information Center (NCIC), an FBI database originally created in 1967 to track criminals across jurisdictions. However, as Lopez describes, “In 2002, an immigrant violator database was added to the NCIC and so what the database now does is it tells police officers if the individual who’s stopped has an outstanding removal order, failed to complete post–September 11 registration requirements, or was previously deported on a felony.”

According to Lopez, if any of anything comes up as a hit on the database, local law enforcement is then supposed to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A study by the Migration Policy Institute found that the NCIC database has a national average error rate of 42% when attempting to determine someone’s immigration status; Shelby County, Tennessee, is the worst offender with a 98% error rate.

Another item that Lopez talked about was getting police officers out of local schools. “Examining New York City during the 2013–2014 school year [the latest data available], there were 775 arrests and summons, almost four per day, by the NYPD’s School Safety Division. Black and Latino students account for 60% of students but made up 94.3% of all students who were arrested” said Lopez. “The impact on Latino students is real. Our students are two times likelier to be suspended than White students and one suspension doubles the likelihood of dropping out. Students who drop out are more than eight times as likely to end up in the criminal justice system. We have to move away from making schools feel and act like prisons.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Public Domain

One major improvement that could be made in our communities, says Lopez, is the creation of crisis intervention teams, groups made up of community members, mental health experts, and law enforcement officials, which can respond to emergencies and provide holistic, community-based solutions to situations that may be exacerbated by regular police protocols.

Even as he’s listing the names and circumstances of the countless victims of police violence, Lopez speaks with an energetic optimism and clarity that hints at why he was qualified to sit on the president’s panel. Despite the difficulties in implementing nationwide policing standards, Mr. Lopez is cautiously hopeful about the future.

“It’s one of those things that can quickly go south if you don’t have the right people on the team and who respond to these things in a timely fashion. We have to get it right.”

Honoring Latinos in the Military

The brave men and women of our nation’s military deserve our respect and gratitude. This Hispanic Heritage Month, join NCLR in honoring those Latinos who have offered their lives for our nation, as well as all who serve in the United States military.


Weekly Washington Outlook — October 5, 2015


What to Watch This Week:



On Monday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. in pro forma session. No votes are expected.

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m when the House will consider the following legislation under suspension of the rules:

  •  H.R. 1553 – Small Bank Exam Cycle Reform Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton / Financial Services Committee)
  • H.R. 1839 – Reforming Access for Investments in Startup Enterprises (RAISE) Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick McHenry / Financial Services Committee)
  • H.R. 2091 – Child Support Assistance Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Bruce Poliquin / Financial Services Committee)
  • H.R. 1525 – Disclosure Modernization and Simplification Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett / Financial Services Committee)
  • H.R. 3032 – Securities and Exchange Commission Reporting Modernization Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema / Financial Services Committee)
  • H.R. 3102 – Airport Access Control Security Improvement Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)
  • H.R. 3510 – Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond / Homeland Security Committee)
  • S. 1300 – Adoptive Family Relief Act (Sponsored by Sen. Diane Feinstein / Judiciary Committee)
  • S. 2078 – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • H.R. 2168 – West Coast Dungeness Crab Management Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler / Natural Resources Committee)
  • S. 986 – Albuquerque Indian School Land Transfer Act (Sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall / Natural Resources Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

  • H.R. 3192 – Homebuyers Assistance Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. French Hill / Financial Services Committee)

On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

  • H.R. 538 – Native American Energy Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Natural Resources Committee)

On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

  • H.R. 702 – To Adapt to Changing Crude Oil Market Conditions, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton / Energy and Commerce Committee / Foreign Affairs Committee)


The Senate plans to consider the conference report on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization, which has drawn a veto threat. A cloture vote is scheduled for Tuesday to limit debate on the $611.8 billion measure. After work’s done on the defense authorization, the Senate next could turn to chemical safety legislation S. 697, the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.”

White House:

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

On Wednesday, President Obama will host President Joachim Gauck of Germany for a meeting in the Oval Office. In the afternoon, the president will deliver remarks and participate in a town hall at the White House Summit on Worker Voice. The Summit will focus on how workers can make their voices heard in the workplace in ways that are good for workers and businesses.

On Thursday, President Obama will deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) 38th Anniversary Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

On Friday, the president will travel to the Seattle area to attend an event for Senator Patty Murray and the Washington State Democratic Party and a DNC event. Later in the day, the President will travel to the San Francisco area for a DNC event. President Obama will remain overnight in San Francisco.

On Saturday, the president will attend a DNC event and travel to the Los Angeles area for DNC and DSCC events. Further details about the President’s travel to Washington and California will be made available in the coming days.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a Thursday mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). This mark-up was previously postponed due to conservative concern with the underlying legislation and a substitute amendment. The bill would block certain funding streams for law enforcement in municipalities with community trust policies; some lawmakers have suggested that this approach is inappropriate. The substitute amendment would impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry, which has faced opposition from those interested in criminal justice reform. Democrats are united in opposition, although some remain interested in creating an alternative policy that would lead to some form of cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement. Elsewhere, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the security of the U.S. refugee admissions program. Also Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing titled “Secure Immigration Identity Documents.”

Appropriations – Last week Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government until December 11. The Obama Administration and congressional leadership have begun negotiations to work out a long-term spending deal. The president indicated he will not sign another short-term measure or a long-term deal that doesn’t lift current spending caps. As budget negotiations play out, Congress must also debate legislation to extend the government’s borrowing authority. The government will reach its borrowing limit on November 5 and Republicans will likely demand that debt-ceiling legislation include measures to lower debt obligations over time.

Health – On Friday, the House Budget Committee will mark-up budget reconciliation recommendations from three committees to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act and prohibit Medicaid reimbursement for abortion providers, among other things. The Budget Committee will combine the recommendations for House floor consideration. It is not clear if Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act plan to move their own versions of repeal legislation. Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass a bill with a simple majority, allowing Republican Leadership to circumvent procedural hurdles that have prevented their priorities from getting to the President’s desk.

Juvenile Justice – This Thursday the House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Reviewing the Juvenile Justice System and How it Serves At-Risk Youth.”

Nutrition – Authorization for child nutrition programs expired September 30. Lawmakers are continuing work to find a path forward on a bipartisan reauthorization effort this fall.  However, the Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a planned mark-up of legislation indefinitely, and it is not clear how the House Education and Workforce Committee plans to proceed. Community eligibility and nutrition guidelines are both controversial in the effort. Elsewhere, on Tuesday the House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on the process for developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Tax – The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on Wednesday examining the rising costs of higher education and tax policy.

Labor – The House Small Business Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations Subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday titled “The Consequences of DOL’s One-Size-Fits-All Overtime Rule for Small Businesses and their Employees.” Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights, and Federal Courts Subcommittee will hold a hearing vaguely titled “Opportunity Denied: How Overregulation Harms Minorities” on Tuesday. It is unclear what the focus of this hearing will be and witnesses have yet to be listed.

Consumer Financial Protections – The House will consider H.R. 3192 this week, which would prohibit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from enforcing a Dodd-Frank mortgage disclosure rule until Feb. 1, 2016. The rule was scheduled to take effect on Oct. 3. H.R. 3192 would also protect lenders from liability for any violations of the rule before Feb. 1 if they have made a good faith effort to comply. The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill 45-13 on July 28.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. Conferees are likely to be named at some point this month. Elsewhere, the House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Strengthening Head Start for Current and Future Generations” on Wednesday.

Republican Leadership Election – Last week Speaker John Boehner announced he would hold leadership elections on October 8 to determine his replacement. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is likely to replace the Speaker, although he is being challenged by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who announced his bid over the weekend.  Speaker Boehner has indicated he might postpone elections for House majority leader and majority whip in response to a letter circulated by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) requesting a delay. Further, there could be a change in internal party rules that would force candidates to resign their chairmanship and leadership roles to participate in the upcoming leadership elections. The House Republican Conference will meet to discuss rules changes on Wednesday afternoon. The race for majority leader is competitive with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) vying for the position. A delay in the election would give conservatives time to find a candidate to oppose Scalise and Price. If Scalise is elected as the next majority leader, there will be an election for his current post of majority whip.