What Happens Now That the Fifth Circuit Has Decided?

The fight for DAPA and DACA is not over, but we know you might have some questions about what happened and where we go from here. Our friends at iAmerica.org have prepared a handy infographic on what to expect now that the Fifth Circuit has made its decision.

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Determined to Achieve the American Dream: Yazmin Abreu

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By David Castillo, Communications Department, NCLR

This week in “Living the American DREAM,” we meet 30-year-old Yazmin Abreu of Orange County, California. Like so many young people profiled in this space, Yazmin arrived in the United States as a child. She was eight years old, and her young mind could not fully grasp why her family was leaving what she thought was a happy life in Mexico. What she didn’t realize was that her father, like many parents, was looking for a way to sustain his family, and coming to the U.S. was the chance to realize his potential. He decided to move first, and Yazmin, her siblings, and her mother would join later.

For much of her early life, Yazmin was not aware of her immigration status. She struggled some in school, though not with her academics. Rather, Yazmin had difficulty socially. Thanks to a great elementary school teacher who took an interest her, she was able to overcome these challenges. In middle school Yazmin discovered that she was an undocumented immigrant. That revelation would affect how guarded she was about many details of her private life.

Despite the problems presented by her status, Yazmin was determined to go to college, though she knew getting there would not be easy. However, thanks to the California DREAM Act, she was able to pay in-state tuition. She also confided in a guidance counselor about being undocumented, and that counselor helped her in the college application process.

Although she was able to attend college, it wasn’t always an easy road. Yazmin’s commute to and from school was an hour and a half every day. Often she made use of the computer labs until they closed, and she wouldn’t get home until midnight. She admits that it took a while for her to graduate, as she had to take some time off to raise funds for classes. Her hard work and dedication finally paid off when, in 2012, Yazmin graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in health science education.

Freshly graduated and ready to work, Yazmin didn’t find a job easily, especially due to her immigration status. Later that year, however, after receiving administrative relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Yazmin hit the ground running, reveling in the practice of even applying for a job legally.

“Right now, I can go to websites, look for jobs, and apply to them, and it is such a sense of freedom,” said Yazmin. She was even excited to go to the DMV. “I had the biggest smile on my face. I was finally able to set foot in there. That fear just goes away.”

Yazmin is still searching for the right career, and she is determined to make it happen. In the meantime, she wants to ask those who are blocking expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) why they are so intent on deporting people who will contribute greatly to the United States, especially given the numbers of people who are already benefiting from relief.

“This country needs DREAMers like us, so why give it away?” she asked. “I know I’m going to achieve the American Dream. They need to think about the future.”

We Remain Committed to Keeping Families Together

Demonstrators joined our Affiliate, Latin American Coalition, in North Carolina last week for a DAPA Day of Action, part of rallies that happened all across the country.

Demonstrators joined our Affiliate, Latin American Coalition, in North Carolina last week for a DAPA Day of Action, part of rallies that happened all across the country.

This week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Department of Justice’s request for an emergency stay to lift an injunction against the president’s administrative relief programs, expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), so they could move forward. The court’s decision leaves in limbo millions of American families as they wait to apply for the two programs.

This is not the end of legal proceedings on this matter, however, as an appeal of the preliminary injunction is scheduled for the week of July 6. While this is a setback, this is not the end of the long and arduous legal road. It is important to note that the Fifth Circuit Court has still not decided on the full appeal of the case to lift the injunction.

“Our community remains steadfast in our commitment to keeping hardworking families together,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, NCLR Deputy Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, in a statement. “Not only will these executive actions bring relief to millions of American families, they are in the best interest of this nation’s economy and national security.”

Martinez-De-Castro further highlighted how those who are blocking relief in order to settle a score with the president are alienating the large and influential voting bloc of Latinos who “will remember these very personal attacks on our families and our community come Election Day,” said Martínez-De-Castro. “It should not be lost on anyone that a key function of the president is to nominate federal judges, and for the Senate to ‘advise and consent’ to those nominations. We will continue to remind our community that by exercising their power at the ballot box, they can help determine who will be making judicial decisions that, with the stroke of a pen, can snatch potential lawful status away from millions.”

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 26, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of June 1.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Sunday, May 31, to continue consideration of legislation related to reauthorization of the Patriot Act, with some provisions set to expire Sunday at midnight.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a breakfast in honor of Memorial Day. Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations and senior military leadership will be in attendance, as well as organizations that support the families of the fallen, including the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Gold Star Mothers; Gold Star Wives, Sons and Daughters in Touch. This breakfast in the State Dining Room is closed press.

Later in the morning, President Obama will travel to Arlington National Cemetery where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and deliver remarks. The wreath-laying as well as the president’s remarks are open to pre-credentialed media.

On Tuesday, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg at the White House; the vice president will also attend. The leaders will discuss the impact of Russia’s actions on the European security environment, NATO’s evolving effort to meet challenges from the south, and the alliance’s ongoing Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces. They will also assess allied progress on the defense investment targets agreed at Wales, and share their priorities for the next NATO Summit in 2016.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to the Miami, Florida area for DNC events. The President will remain overnight in Florida.

On Thursday, the president will visit the National Hurricane Center to receive the annual hurricane season outlook and preparedness briefing. Further details about President Obama’s travel to Florida will be made available in the coming days.

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

After Recess:

Education – Attention remains on the Senate as members prepare to take up the “Every Child Achieves Act,” a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization, in early June.  There has been some discussion on the Hill that the timing for bringing this bill to the floor could slip to July or even the fall.  However, HELP Committee Chairman Alexander anticipated the bill will come to the floor shortly, with senators able to offer amendments. The business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support on both sides of the aisle for an amendment that would strengthen the accountability system in the bill.

Ex-Im – The charter for the Export-Import Bank expires June 30, and Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he would bring S. 819, a bipartisan reauthorization bill, to the floor for a vote. Senator Cantwell noted it could potentially be attached as an amendment to another piece of legislation. While the measure might pass in the Senate, its fate in the House is uncertain. House Republicans are split on whether to extend the bank’s lending authority or to let it lapse, with top Republicans opposing extension, including Financial Services Chairman Hensarling, Majority Whip Scalise and Ways & Means Chairman Ryan. House Democrats are expected to vote en bloc for extension, which President Obama also supports.

Data Collection – Majority Leader McConnell scheduled votes on Sunday evening to address expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. Before the Memorial Day recess, the Senate was unable to pass the USA Freedom Act, a House bill that would reform the NSA’s ability to collect phone records by a 57-42 vote. A proposed two-month stopgap extension also failed, 54-45. Efforts to enact even shorter extensions were thwarted by Republican Senator Paul, who objected under Senate procedural rules.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 22

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Week Ending May 22

This week in immigration reform: NCLR and others raise awareness on original DAPA implementation date; NCLR continues blog series on deferred action recipients; and an update on state-level activity.

NCLR and advocates participate in National Day of Action in support of DAPA: This Tuesday was the original date the Obama administration would have begun accepting applications for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). However, that deferred action program that would bring relief to millions of people is currently on hold, pending an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our press statement notes: “Instead of celebrating with the millions of families who would finally gain a reprieve from the needless separations that have torn apart our communities, today we continue to navigate this drawn-out, unnecessary litigation that has left so many American families in limbo,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at NCLR (National Council of La Raza). “By pursuing this lawsuit, the opponents of these programs accomplish nothing beyond damaging our economy, jeopardizing our national security and attacking Latino families.” A decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected any day now, although there is no deadline for a decision.  For more information on the possible litigation scenarios, check out this document from the National Immigration Law Center.

Studies show DAPA would benefit the American economy. A piece from the Center for American Progress outlined how: “DAPA would result in a cumulative gross domestic product, or GDP, increase of $164 billion, an $88 billion increase in incomes for all Americans, and create 20,538 jobs per year over the next 10 years. Moreover, DAPA would result in payroll tax increases of $16.7 billion over five years.”

NCLR compiled tweets from fellow advocates supporting DAPA on May 19. See them in our blog.

NCLR blog features DACA recipient Jose Alguiluz: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog profiles a DREAMer from Honduras. When he was 15-years-old he came to the U.S. to receive medical treatment at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Montgomery College and applied for DACA once it was announced in 2012. DACA enabled Jose to fulfill his dream of becoming a nurse and since January 2014 he has been employed at Washington Adventist Hospital as a registered nurse. Jose also finds time to advocate for his fellow DREAMers and he worked to pass the Maryland DREAM Act. He also is a member of NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland’s Board of Directors. Jose is continuing his studies and hopes all those in his community can realize their potential through deferred action.

State Updates: 

  • This week the Nebraska legislature voted to reverse a policy denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. A Star Tribune article notes that Arizona and Nebraska were the only states where those granted deferred action were ineligible for licenses. The Arizona law was blocked by the court last July. DACA recipients are now eligible for a driver’s license in all fifty states.
  • Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial-profiling case is costing Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars. A New York Times article notes the county has already doled out $45 million and more costs are expected to materialize. Unrelated to the racial-profiling case, the county has also paid out $74 million to cover other judgments, settlements and legal fees due to lawsuits involving Arpaio and his office.

Latinos Have a Proud Tradition of Military Service

By Jonathan Marrero, Senior Digital Manager, NCLR

This Memorial Day, the NCLR familia honors the memory of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms, including the countless Latinos who have served courageously since our country’s founding.

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Private Marcelino Serna. Photo: Wikipedia

Hispanics have a long, rich history of service in the U.S. Armed Forces that dates back to the 19th century. During World War I, Latino soldiers fought alongside their non-Hispanic brothers and sisters in Europe. One such soldier, Private Marcelino Serna, an undocumented immigrant of Mexican descent, was awarded two of the military’s highest honors after returning from the battlefields in Europe: the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. Serna was awarded these medals for singlehandedly capturing 24 German soldiers. His story is one of many that exemplify the pride and honor Latinos have taken in their service to this great country.

In World War II, many Mexican American servicemen and women were stationed in the Philippines, where they fought valiantly beside non-Hispanic soldiers against the Japanese in battles that endured for months. One such battle took place in the Bataan Peninsula. After three months of hard fighting, the soldiers were ordered to surrender, and eventually they embarked on the tortuous 85-mile Bataan Death March. Many of those who started the march did not finish—Latinos included.

This longstanding tradition of service and heroism continues today with the more than one million Latinos currently in uniform—a point of pride for us here at NCLR. So, as we head into this holiday weekend, let’s reflect on the sacrifices made by countless soldiers throughout American history.

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In remembrance of those who have fallen in the line of duty, NCLR asks that you join us on Monday, May 25 at 3:00 p.m. local time for a national moment of remembrance. Let’s reflect on the lives given so that Americans can enjoy the most fundamental of rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Country Can’t Afford a Rollback of Dodd-Frank

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy and Communications Strategist, NCLR

Last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby introduced a 218-page bill, the “Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015,” which would substantially roll back gains made in the Dodd-Frank Act. This is deeply concerning and should give all Americans pause.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law to right the economy and prevent another financial crisis. It involved some of the most expansive bipartisan legislation since the New Deal in the 1930s.

The nation has already benefited from Dodd-Frank’s improvements to the market. Families are no longer completely exposed to the risk of unnecessarily losing their homes. Credit card terms are better and clearer. Many fringe financial products have been brought to light and restrained. Consumers are more empowered and aware of their rights. This was the intended result and consumers are grateful.

Today the Senate Banking Committee held a markup on rollbacks that would swing the pendulum backward—to the state of deregulation that led to the financial crisis. This is unacceptable.

The financial industry is experiencing growing pains from Dodd-Frank. Some in Congress see this as a bad thing. Consumers and honest lenders think otherwise. The methods banks and nonbanks alike used to make a profit were hazardous to the market and acutely harmful for families, so many of whom saw a generation of wealth vaporize.

In today’s markup, we saw committee members vote along party lines, some in support of vastly loosened standards for banks and nonbanks. Other senators voted for families to maintain a foothold in the financial industry and keep consumer protections.

Let’s Not Repeat This Part of History

While most Americans have grown tired of hearing about the crisis and recovery, we are at risk of repeating history. Latino families are just now beginning to recover. Hispanics lost 66 percent of their household wealth between 2005 and 2009. These trends were exacerbated by geographic location, as a disproportionate share of Latinos live in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona, the states that experienced the steepest declines in housing values during the crisis.

In the aftermath, there was a palpable sense that the financial system was fundamentally unsound and action was needed to prevent a future crisis of the same magnitude. That is where Dodd-Frank came in to make repairs.

Responsible regulations and oversight are essential to protecting Latino consumers and ensuring that honest lenders strengthen today’s economy. Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority group, representing 16.4 percent of the U.S. population. Of the 17 million new homes that will be created between 2010 and 2025, seven million will be purchased by Hispanics.

The strong protections that were enacted by the Dodd-Frank Act are critical to ensuring that families can afford their loans and are not targeted by predatory players. Beyond maintaining commonsense regulations, Congress should have viewed this legislative season as a time to finally build the legacy of financial empowerment for families throughout the nation. Instead, they strive to return the markets to risky, unstable times.

Why Don’t Consumer Protections Apply When Buying a Car?

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Photo: Daniel Oines, Creative Commons

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created in 2010 as part of landmark financial reform to protect American consumers, auto dealers were notably excluded from the CFPB’s authority. Although a car is most Americans’ second-largest purchase, the only federal agency dedicated to consumer protection has been unable to directly regulate auto lenders to prevent discriminatory practices.

With outstanding car loans totaling $935 billion, fairness and transparency in auto lending is essential for a fair economy that works for all communities. Though Congress has yet to introduce a bill to bring auto lending under CFPB scrutiny, the time is right for a real legislative fix that would end carve-outs originally included for the auto lending industry.

Many other industry and consumer experts have recognized the need for a change and have come out in support of reform. Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a blog post urging Congress to level the auto lending playing field. The call to give the CFPB authority to weed out discrimination in the auto industry is consistent with a September 2013 report from BPC’s Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative.

Currently, auto dealers are given wide leeway in how they charge interest rates to consumers, often varying and raising rates for different consumers without reason. While this often unfair practice affects all car buyers negatively, research shows Blacks and Latinos are more likely to see an interest rate markup than White consumers. Controlling for creditworthiness, Latinos and Blacks still typically receive higher markups than White borrowers.

CFPB_LogoWhile the CFPB already has taken action to root out auto lending discrimination, it must currently do so through indirect means, by focusing on banks that auto dealers work with rather than the unscrupulous auto dealers themselves.

Through a strong legislative fix, Congress could remove the needless exclusion of auto lending from the CFPB’s authority and bring fairness to a market impacting a highly significant portion of consumers’ financial lives.

For most Americans today, having a car is a necessity, not a luxury. From transportation to and from jobs to trips to the grocery store, cars remain a major part of life for the vast majority of Americans. Communities of color deserve to shop for cars free from interest rate discrimination.

Study: Financial Stability Eludes Many College-educated Latinos

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

New findings from a TIAA-CREF Institute study show the continued fragile financial state of Latinos. This study focuses on the economic status of college-educated Hispanics, drawing on data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study and examining the personal finances of respondents.

Over half (59 percent) of college-educated Latinos reported that they had difficulty meeting monthly financial obligations, and over half were also unable to put away savings. Increased levels of educational attainment generally correspond with greater economic opportunities and, potentially, greater financial stability, making these findings concerning.

The TIAA-CREF study echoes what was found in Banking in Color, a report released by NCLR, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development in 2014. This report was based on a survey of the financial access of low- and moderate-income communities of color in various U.S. cities. When asked where they would turn for funds in the event of a financial emergency, nearly half (42 percent) of all respondents said they did not know where they would acquire the money. Moreover, nearly one in three (31 percent) individuals employed full time said that they had experienced a financial emergency within the previous year.

While the economy is recovering from the Great Recession, clearly for many Americans, especially those in communities of color, that recovery is slow in coming.

One difference in findings between Banking in Color and the TIAA-CREF data was in savings behavior. As noted above, the majority of college educated Latinos in the TIAA-CREF survey did not have savings, and in contrast, almost half of Banking in Color respondents reported that they saved on a monthly basis. This was a positive trend, though most reported that they relied on saving via a traditional savings account, which is a relatively low-interest savings vehicle. Moreover, because so many reported having experienced a financial emergency within the past year, it is unclear whether they could sustain a financial hardship with their household savings.

Shifting demographics in the U.S. make the ability of Latinos to reach financial security a critical issue for public policy to address. Population projections show that the U.S. will become “majority minority” in 2043, less than 30 years from now. The ability of Latinos and other low-income communities to secure their economic footing will greatly impact the strength of our national economy.

We Will Not Stop Fighting for DAPA Until Relief for Families is Restored

May 19 marked the day that the federal government would have started accepting DAPA applications. Unfortunately, a politically-motivated lawsuit to block implementation of DAPA and the extended DACA has succeeded, while families grapple with the threat of separation. This week, immigrant families, faith and union leaders, as well elected officials rallied in more than 30 cities in 22 states to demand that these lawsuits be dropped. Below are some highlights from the various events around the country.

Our Affiliate in North Carolina, Latin American Coalition, also held rallies.