From Theatre to Advocacy: Raising Funds for Causes That Matter

By Stephanie Higgins, Prospect Researcher, NCLR

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Stephanie Higgins at NCLR Headquarters in Washington

Being a fundraiser was something that never really crossed my mind. I always imagined myself being an editor at a publishing house or something similar, but halfway through graduate school I fell into a wonderful internship at New York Theatre Workshop. After four months with the marketing and development teams there, fundraising was something I knew I wanted to explore more. After finishing my graduate program, I worked in the development offices of theatre companies for a combined five years in New York and DC, mostly writing government, corporate, and foundation proposals and reports and stewarding donors when the occasion called for it.

The arts are an integral part of our society. Studies have proven that children who are exposed to the arts do better in school than their counterparts. Theatres have catalyzed the revitalization of entire neighborhoods. I very much enjoyed fundraising for the arts and I truly believe it is a worthy cause. After a while, though, I started questioning what I wanted to get out of my career: Why am I a fundraiser? When all is said and done, what difference will I have made?

That’s what led me to NCLR, where I research donors and help with our database. I’m really proud and excited to do what I do each day—not only because I have fantastic coworkers who are deeply committed to the cause, but because I feel I am making a tangible difference in people’s lives by connecting our front-line fundraisers with philanthropists who support our mission and have the financial capability to help NCLR continue its incredible work.

Though my path here was relatively unconventional and completely unplanned, I’m very grateful to be working at NCLR.

Media Coverage of Ramos Incident Exposes a Double Standard

By Lisa Navarrete, Advisor to the President, NCLR

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This week in Trump is the dust-up between the Donald and acclaimed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos at a news conference in Iowa. I’ll leave it to the press conference etiquette experts as to who violated the rules of engagement, but one thing is very clear: the media’s coverage of the kerfuffle reeks of a double standard.

Watch Trump eject Jorge Ramos below:

Ramos has been called “biased” and an “activist” for attempting to ask Trump tough questions about the candidate’s immigration plan. I have another phrase for Ramos was trying to do: being a journalist. In what universe is it biased to ask a candidate to explain his or her policy positions and how they plan to implement them, especially from a journalist who has spent decades covering the issue of immigration?

No one would call a reporter from Fortune magazine asking a corporate CEO tough questions on board governance an “activist;” they would call them a business reporter. Ramos’ experience and career make him an expert, not an activist. And unlike Donald Trump, Jorge Ramos knows what he’s talking about when it comes to immigration.

That is why, like some other reporters, he has asked Trump to explain how he would deport 11 million people or compel a sovereign nation to build a wall. But unlike other reporters, Ramos’ knowledge and experience has led to other, deeper questions that should be asked like, does Trump recognize the economic and humanitarian crisis mass deportation would create? How does he plan to address it? Why has Trump skirted responsibility for the violence committed in his name, such as the attack in Boston?

Trump eventually let Ramos back in and a spirited exchange took place when the candidate decided to answer some of Ramos’ questions.

On the issue of immigration, Ramos is doing the job the entire media should be doing on Trump—looking past the bluster and the hype to see if there is any there there. Spoiler alert: there isn’t. As such, Ramos isn’t just providing vital information to the Latino community; he is providing a critically important and constitutionally guaranteed service to all Americans

Home Care Workers Are One Step Closer to Receiving the Protections They Deserve

By Stephanie Román, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

CAG-Homecare-worker2_smallLast Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision that puts nearly two million home care workers in the United States one step closer to having critical minimum wage and overtime protections. The court’s decision upheld the Department of Labor’s (DOL) home care rule, providing home care workers with overtime and minimum wage protections, as a legal and justified change to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) after it was challenged by home care business associations. DOL appealed the lower court’s ruling in favor of the home care business associations, thus taking the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. The department is now moving forward with its current policy of encouraging states and employers to take the necessary steps toward implementing the rule.

The court’s decision means that for the first time in U.S. history, home care workers will be recognized as workers worthy of the same basic overtime and minimum wage protections extended to all other workers. Friday’s decision comes after the Department of Labor’s January rule to address poverty-level wages and a lack of overtime compensation for home care workers was challenged in court by home care business associations.

The rule in question corrects a decades-long injustice of excluding home care workers from basic employment protections. Home care workers were left out of the 1974 update to the FLSA that expanded labor protections to domestic workers and have struggled to gain recognition and protections for their work. Home care workers provide individual care to elderly adults and assist people with disabilities with daily living tasks.

These workers are low-paid, predominately immigrant women and women of color. Poverty-level wages undermine the economic security of workers and their families and do not equate with the value that home care workers provide. Home care workers make an average of $9.70 per hour. NCLR has produced fact sheets and blog posts on these critical yet vulnerable workers.

The home care rule’s overtime and minimum wage protections are critical to current and future workers as the industry grows each year. In fact, home care has experienced a huge transformation over the years into a multibillion-dollar industry that is projected to keep growing as the U.S. population ages. This field has extremely high turnover rates. Investment in workers would help stabilize the workforce and make home care industry jobs the kind that will attract and retain dedicated workers.

Given Friday’s victory for the home care rule, DOL’s enforcement timeline for the rule depends on the legal actions taken by the businesses that challenged the department. Even as another challenge from the home care business associations may come, the U.S. Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision is heartening and should serve as a clear signal for states to act quickly and work to implement these basic protections for two million hardworking home care workers.

What Trump Gets All Wrong About Immigration and Taxes

(Cross-posted from the Citizens for Tax Justice Blog)

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Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump’s recently released framework for immigration reform includes misleading statements about “illegal immigrants” claiming refundable tax credits. Trump claims that “illegal immigrants” received $4.2 billion in “free” tax credits in 2011 and proposes to pay for part of his immigration proposal by accepting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)’s “recommendation” to eliminate tax credit payments to these individuals. It’s hard to know where to start in deconstructing the inaccuracies in Trump’s statement.

First, the use of the word “free” is highly misleading, as undocumented immigrants do pay a significant amount in local, state, and federal taxes.  An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimated that in 2012, undocumented immigrants paid $11.8 billion in state and local taxes (including about $7 billion in sales and excise taxes, $3.6 billion in property taxes, and $1.1 billion in income taxes). On top of this, the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary estimated that in 2010, unauthorized workers (who may be undocumented or in the country legally but without permission to work) paid $12 billion in Social Security payroll taxes net of benefits received. Since most unauthorized workers are not eligible for Social Security benefits, this group only received approximately $1 billion in benefits for the $13 billion paid in.

Second, the $4.2 billion figure that Trump references is from a 2011 TIGTA report that actually states that families with an unauthorized worker received $4.2 billion in 2009 (not 2011) through the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (known as the Additional Child Tax Credit). While this may sound the same on the surface, there are a few things that should be noted. As the report explains, these credits were claimed by taxpayers using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which the IRS issues to individuals not eligible for a Social Security Number. ITINs are issued without regard to immigration status to people not authorized to work in the United States, so this group includes not just undocumented immigrants but also individuals who have immigrated legally but aren’t legally able to work.

Labor-Day-Banner-Photo-4Taxpayers using an ITIN are prohibited from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) but are allowed to claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child, the CTC is intended to offset the costs of raising children. Families who owe less in taxes than their eligible Child Tax Credit amount can receive the difference through the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is paid out with their tax refund. Since the CTC is intended primarily to benefit children, it makes sense that it is the children’s immigration status, not the parents’, that qualifies a family to receive the credit, and a qualifying child can be a citizen, a U.S. national, or a resident alien. And although some portion of the $4.2 billion in Additional Child Tax Credits could be going to families with undocumented parents, nearly 80 percent of the children of undocumented immigrants are U.S. citizens.

It is also worth noting that the refundable tax credits like the EITC and CTC have immense benefits for the children in the families that receive them. There is a growing body of research showing that these credits improve educational and health outcomes for children and result in them working hard and having higher earnings as adults.

Third, while Trump says that his plan would “accept the recommendation” of TIGTA to eliminate tax credit payments to illegal immigrants, the 2012 TIGTA report that he references makes no such recommendation. In actuality, the report recommends that the IRS implement procedures to reduce the number of fraudulent ITIN applications that it approves. TIGTA’s main concern here is that people are using fraudulent documents to obtain an ITIN and using it to file fraudulent tax returns (e.g. claiming tax refunds for non-existent persons), not the use of ITINs by undocumented immigrants.

GuardRailWorkers_12_2_2014Finally, if the concern is the $4.2 billion revenue loss, Trump should look to comprehensive immigration reform that allows a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which would actually increase revenues at the federal, state, and local levels. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill would have decreased the deficit by $197 billion over ten years, as newly legal immigrants would pay $459 billion in additional taxes, while the increased government expenditures for benefits would only increase by $262 billion. Additionally, ITEP estimated that granting citizenship to all undocumented immigrants would raise more than $2.2 billion annually in state and local revenues. These revenue increases would occur because more immigrants would then be paying taxes on their income and because citizenship is likely to boost wages and therefore increase income, sales and property taxes. Trump might want to consider these benefits instead of spending all his time planning for that wall.

For more on Trump’s tax proposals, click here.