This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending October 24

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Week Ending October 24

This week in immigration: NCLR continues the ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog series with the story of a mixed-status family; NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía visits Kansas City; NCLR facilitates two webinars on DACA and college readiness; NCLR and partners increase civic engagement efforts; NY City Council passes bill prohibiting law enforcement from honoring detainer requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

NCLR continues ‘Hanging in the Balance series with the story of a family with mixed-status and what the executive action means for them: In NCLR’s latest ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog post we tell the story of Vicky Ramirez, a member of NCLR’s Líderes Youth Advisory Council, and her family. Vicky’s parents are legal permanent residents, but some of her siblings are not. One is a DACA recipient. One is the parent of a U.S. citizen. When asked about how executive action would affect her family, Vicky said “it would be transformative.” She also described the challenges families like hers face and how they could continue contributing to the country if they were granted administrative relief and obtained work permits. For millions of families like Vicky’s across the country, NCLR urges President Obama to provide relief that allows millions of families to continue to live and work in the United States.

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía urges Latinos in Kansas to head to the polls come November: This week, NCLR’s President and CEO, Janet Murguía, travelled to her home state of Kansas to encourage Latinos to vote. “Murguía was joined at the event by Irene Caudillo, President and CEO of El Centro Inc., and Representative Louis Ruiz, both of whom echoed the call to get out the vote. Latinos currently account for 5.5 percent of the state’s electorate, or about 120,000 voters. As it stands, the margin of victory in certain races is currently less than the total percentage of Latino voters in the state.” In a news release Murguía is quoted as saying, “In order to translate our growing numbers into political clout, we must make sure that every eligible Hispanic registers to vote and that every registered Latino voter in Kansas casts a ballot on Election Day. In especially close races, Kansas’s Hispanic electorate is not an afterthought; it’s a kingmaker.”

NCLR faciliates webinars regarding DACA and college-readiness: This week, NCLR was busy sharing information with educators about DACA and college readiness for undocumented students. NCLR collaborated with College Board to present a webinar entitled “Assisting Undocumented Students in the College Application Process.” Over three hundred school counselors registered for the webinar and received information on policies that impact undocumented students. NCLR also hosted a webinar for Escalera program grantees and other partners in educational programs titled “College Dreams for Undocumented Students”. If you are interested in materials, please contact Laura Vazquez at lvazquez@nclr.org.

NCLR and partners host town hall meeting in North Carolina: NCLR, in partnership with Affiliate El Pueblo, hosted a town hall meeting on October 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina. It featured candidates for Sheriff, Clerk of Court, and District Attorney running in Wake County and allowed them to present their platforms and to address concerns from the Latino community. Find out more on what NCLR is doing on civic engagement by following @NCLREmpowers on Twitter or by visiting NCLR’s advocacy and empowerment webpage.

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Additionally, in partnership with the Latin American Coalition, NCLR hosted a town hall meeting on October 22 in Charlotte, North Carolina at Caldwell Presbyterian Church. The event featured Vanessa Faura, former Republican candidate for city council, Nelda Leon with Mecklenburg Hispanic Democrats, and Rafael Prieto, Editor of Que Pasa Mi Gente.

New York City council passes bill prohibiting NYPD and New York City Department of Corrections from honoring detainer requests: Law enforcement and correctional facilities in New York City will no longer honor detainer requests from ICE, unless they are backed by a warrant from a federal judge. The recently passed bill also removes ICE officials from the Rikers Island correctional facility, a goal long championed by immigration advocates, including NCLR Affiliate, Make the Road New York. The law separates ICE and local law enforcement in hopes to ensure just treatment of immigrants and to foster trust between communities and local police. Read more in the New York Observer.

ALMA Awards Celebrities Say “Invest in Schools, Not Prisons!”

We’re sending a huge thank you to CharoTerry Crews, NCLR Vice President, California Region, Delia De La Vara, Edy GanemSelenis Leyva, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, Andrea NavedoAna OrtizDascha PolancoFátima PtacekJudy ReyesEddie “Piolín” SoteloGuillermo del ToroJorge VegaLisa Vidal, and Wilmer Valderrama for lending their Latino voices at the recent ALMA Awards and spreading the word on why it’s important to Do The Math and invest in Schools Not Prisons!

H/t to The California Endowment for the video.

Report on LGBT Foster Youth Highlights Disparities in Foster Care System

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Photo: moodboard, Creative Commons

For too long, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have been largely invisible in the foster care system. We have long suspected that they’re overrepresented and underserved, but until now there were almost no data to work with. But thanks to a recent groundbreaking study about the sexual orientation and gender identity of foster youth in Los Angeles County—home to the nation’s largest population of foster youth—we now know a lot more.

Not only are LGBTQ youth overrepresented in that county’s foster care system (the proportion of LGBTQ youth in foster care is double that of LGBTQ youth not in foster care), but the majority of them are Latino, with many being immigrants or the children of immigrants. The study also identified barriers that LGBTQ foster youth face, shedding light on the need to better understand this demographic in order to improve their mental health and socioeconomic outcomes.

The study, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Los Angeles County Foster Care: Assessing Disproportionality and Disparities, co-authored by scholars at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School and Holarchy Consulting, with partial funding from a federal Permanency Innovations Initiative grant awarded to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, found that 19 percent of Los Angeles County foster youth identify as LGBTQ. Further, their racial and ethnic composition reflects that of Los Angeles County, with 54.6 percent being Latino. Ten percent are born outside the U.S., and about one-third has at least one parent born outside the U.S.

This study was groundbreaking in that it is the first population-based survey aimed at measuring the sexual orientation and gender identity of youth in any foster care system, as well as identifying the barriers they face. Nearly one in five reported facing discrimination for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. LGBTQ foster youth have triple the rate of hospitalization for emotional reasons and are more likely to have been homeless than non-LGBTQ youth. Univision covered the release of this study, with a poignant story of a foster youth who faced such barriers.

This isn’t just an LGBTQ issue. As the numbers illustrate, Latinos are a large part of the LGBTQ foster youth population in Los Angeles, and presumably in other parts of the nation as well. To better serve them, we need to ensure that our service providers design their programs in a way that accounts for their unique needs. This means:

  • Providing cultural competency training for caregivers and the child welfare system’s workforce
  • Integrating questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender conformity, and related discrimination into existing data collection, intake, service planning, and case review processes, and training staff to collect this information respectfully and confidentially
  • Ensuring that care actually addresses the needs of LGBTQ youth

These reforms are just a start, but they can go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of foster care systems, reducing costs, and, most importantly, bettering the lives of these particularly vulnerable youth. Let’s set them on a path toward more fulfilling, healthy, and successful lives.

College Dreams for Undocumented Students

It’s the time of year when high school juniors and seniors start thinking about their college plans. The number of Latino students enrolling and graduating from college has been steadily increasing, but we can’t forget about the special considerations needed for those undocumented students who also have dreams of higher education. For these students, navigating the admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships can be daunting. We’re here to help.

Today, we’re hosting a webinar designed for high school leaders, college counselors, teachers, community-based organizations and mentors. We’ll cover the current challenges and opportunities for undocumented students in a variety of circumstances so that all students who want it can achieve their dreams of going to college.

Click here or on the flyer below to register!

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Hanging in the Balance: The Ramirez Family

Hanging in the balance-01 Vicky Ramirez is a recent college graduate and a member of NCLR’s Líderes Youth Advisory Council. She is currently putting her skills and expertise to use at an international development agency in Washington, D.C. She recently spoke about what it would mean to her family if President Obama used executive authority to provide administrative relief on immigration.

Vicky’s part of a mixed-status family: different family members have different immigration statuses. Her parents were able to become legal permanent residents when their application was approved 10 years after her father applied. She has a younger sister who was born in the U.S. and is a citizen. Because of bureaucratic backlogs and delays, her older sisters were not able to become permanent residents and now have different statuses. Two of her sisters are twins; one has applied and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while the other has not. Her eldest sister is among the 4.5 million undocumented parents of U.S.-citizen children.

MENENDEZ-QUOTEWhen asked what it would mean if President Obama were to do everything within his authority to fix the nation’s immigration policies, Vicky said “it would be transformative.” She described the many challenges that families like hers face and the ways that they could continue contributing to the country if they were able to apply for administrative relief. Her siblings could make even bigger contributions if they were able to apply for work permits.

The more expansive the president is in his actions, the greater the economic benefit to families and to the country. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, establishing a deferred action policy allowing aspiring Americans to receive a work permit would result in a significant increase in revenue for the country. In the first year alone, aspiring Americans who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, as Vicky’s sisters have, would increase payroll tax revenue by $6.08 billion and would increase revenue by $44.96 billion over five years.

For Vicky’s family and for millions of families like hers across the country, we urge President Obama to provide relief that allows millions of families to continue to live and work in the United States.

Report Highlights Needs of Aging LGBT Latinos

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Photo: ep_jhu, Creative Commons

Working toward a peaceful retirement is a dream for many Americans. However, a diverse set of challenges often make growing older especially difficult for a number of groups who consistently face adversity and marginalization. A study released by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), In Their Own Words: a Needs Assessment of Hispanic LGBT Older Adults, examines how the elderly LGBT Hispanic population is coping with growing older in communities where they often face multiple levels of discrimination due to their dual identities.

While NCLR has documented the tremendous progress that has been made over the past decade in the Hispanic community with regard to the acceptance and support of LGBT people, there is limited research available on elderly people who identify as both Hispanic and LGBT. NHCOA and SAGE both advocate for the elderly in their respective communities and combined their efforts to more effectively highlight the community’s needs.

The report finds that while LGBT Latinos of all ages share similar struggles or challenges, aging LGBT Latinos are especially challenged by high levels of economic insecurity as a result of employment discrimination. Anti-LGBT bias can prevent them from maintaining stable employment throughout their lives. From the limited research that exists on same-sex Hispanic couples, for example, more than 70 percent of individuals report having full-time employment, which is certainly encouraging, but less than 25 percent reported having completed education beyond high school.

AgingLGBT_blogpic_4The report also shed light on an often overlooked issue that the elderly Hispanic LGBT population faces—social isolation. Participants in the focus groups highlighted a number of issues ranging from cultural intolerance to religion to ageism that can leave elderly LGBT Hispanics feeling left in the shadows. One participant noted that being LGBT within the Hispanic community was a “secret understanding” and that “if you don’t say it, people will accept you.” Another participant shared his experience of being isolated even within the LGBT community because “you have the factor of being invisible … because not only do you have ageism, you have the LGBT community, where being old is not looked upon well, especially with men.” Many participants noted the importance of family in overcoming social isolation, but added that they need more resources to educate their families and communities about sexual and gender identity.

Ultimately, in order to meet the needs of the elderly LGBT Hispanic population, more research needs to be done to better understand the unique challenges that they face and to develop more effective strategies that will prepare them for growing older in a stable environment. This report certainly lays the groundwork for developing a more accurate picture of the needs of a rather voiceless population. But building upon this work with outreach to this community will be the key to reversing alarming trends and to ensuring that they live out their later years happier and healthier.

Weekly Washington Outlook — October 20, 2014

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of November 10.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning the week of November 10.

White House:

The White House has not released a public schedule for this week. However, the president will be in Chicago, on Monday to cast his ballot early in the midterm elections and attend a DNC fundraising event.  It is possible later in the week President Obama will reschedule last week’s cancelled campaign events and continue ongoing work related to the situation with ebola.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending October 17

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Week Ending October 17

This week in immigration reform: NCLR continues the “Hanging in the Balance” blog series with a poll on Latino voter priorities; an anti-immigrant law in Alabama is dropped because of legal challenge; Senate Democrats call detention of women and children “unacceptable”; a recent Center for American Progress report outlines the economic benefit of executive action; register for Immigration Advocates Network annual e-conference.

NCLR continues ‘Hanging in the Balance series with a post emphasizing the importance of immigration reform to Latino voters: In our latest blog post, NCLR discusses recent polling data by the NCLR Action Fund and Latino Decisions. The poll, conducted in Florida, Colorado and North Carolina, shows that most respondents were planning on voting in the November election and named immigration among the top issues concerning them this election cycle. In North Carolina, immigration was chosen as the top issue by 33 percent of respondents. That number was 22 percent in Florida and 23 percent in Colorado, understandably because immigration is personal for Latino voters and their communities. Initiatives, like DACA, that keep families together have strong support. The poll shows that almost half of respondents in Colorado and North Carolina said they were much less likely to support a Republican candidate who voted to end the program.

The blog notes, “The directive from Latino voters is clear: reform the immigration system and do it quickly. The president should use his executive authority to help provide temporary relief to the millions of aspiring Americans living in the shadows. But that in no way excuses House Republicans and the rest of Congress from doing their job by passing a permanent solution. Lives are hanging in the balance and Latino voters won’t forget who has helped our community.” Find more in the press release.

Amidst legal pressure from activists, Alabama drops anti-immigrant provision: Almost all components of Alabama HB 56, an anti-immigrant law inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, have been struck down by courts or dropped by the state. The latest of these measures to fall is known as the “scarlet letter” rule, which would have required the state to publish the names and other personal information of immigrants unable to prove their legal status. An article written this week states that “HB 56 proved to be little more than a headache and an embarrassment to Alabama and even as the House of Representatives is pursuing similarly harsh anti-immigrant bills on the federal level (such as the SAFE act)… the decline of HB 56 (points) to a broader turn away from anti-immigrant legislation around the country on the state and local level.” House Republicans should listen to their constituents’ calls for fair and humane immigration enforcement and comprehensive immigration reform instead of continuing to support legislation that harms immigrants and their communities.

Senate Democrats send letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary decrying detention of womend and children at the border:The Hill published an article detailing contents of a letter sent to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. The letter speaks of the unacceptable nature of the detention of women and children seeking asylum. “Mothers and their children who have fled violence in their home countries should not be treated like criminals,” the senators wrote in the letter. “They have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries in the world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic and sexual violence and murder.” The letter was signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Harry Reid (Nev.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Mark Udall (Colo.).

The senators also questioned the Secretary’s decision to build a new detention facility in Dilley, Texas, a sentiment espoused in an editorial by San Antonio Express News this week. The editorial emphasizes the common practice of releasing immigrants on bond while they await their court date, and notes “These families, by law, must be accorded due process to pursue claims to stay. The U.S. needs to make sure this is provided — and seek alternatives to detention in the interim.”

Making the case for administrative relief — a resource: Center for American Progress highlights economic benefit of executive action: A recent report from the Center for American Progress notes the fiscal benefits of deferred action, with many benefits realized immediately. The main findings include:

  • Temporary work permits would increase the earnings of undocumented immigrants by about 8.5 percent as they are able to work legally and find jobs that match their skills.
  • A deferred action program that allows undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years to apply for a temporary work permit would increase payroll tax revenues by $6.08 billion in the first year alone and increase revenues by $44.96 billion over five years.*
  • If President Obama instead extends deferred action to a smaller number of undocumented immigrants then the payroll tax revenue gains would not be as high.

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 Affiliate opportunity — Immigration advocates network hosting annual e-conference: The Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) is excited to announce its third annual e-conference, “Cutting Edge Issues in Immigration Law,” from November 3 to November 7, 2014. Join them for a week-long series of interactive online trainings with national experts on immigration issues through the lens of current events and latest developments in the law. The cost of each two-hour training session is $25. Your support helps IAN offer free trainings and resources throughout the year. Click the link above to register. A schedule of sessions is as follows:

  • Monday, November 3: Screening for Other Relief
  • Tuesday, November 4: Unaccompanied Minors and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Wednesday, November 5: Grounds of Inadmissibility
  • Thursday, November 6: DACA and Administrative Relief: Strategies for Potential Criminal Complications
  • Friday, November 7: U Visas for Workplace Crimes

NCLR Staffers Show Support for LGBT Youth on Spirit Day

GLAAD_Spirit_Day_InstagramToday is Spirit Day, and that means we’ve gone purple in support of LGBT youth and to take a stand against bullying. We’ve joined millions of people, organizations, and corporations across America in sporting purple because here at NCLR we believe all people deserve equal treatment and the right to be safe in their surroundings. When it comes to LGBT equality, especially, we see it as one part of the larger fight for civil rights, which we are engaged in every day. We’re proud to partner with GLAAD today and to call ourselves allies of the LGBT community because we know that when our communities work together, we become stronger.

Our staff is especially passionate about equality and many of them today expressed their solidarity by also wearing purple. We’ve included a sampling below of but a few of the many supportive staff members who believe wholeheartedly in LGBT equality and in the mission to defeat bullying in all forms.

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#spiritday #minons @nclr

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Octavio Espinal, Associate Director, Office of the President, NCLR

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NCLR Media Relations Specialist, Joe Rendeiro #SpiritDay

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NCLR Senior Manager, Digital, Jonathan Marrero

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NCLR Digital Specialist, Barbara Moreno #SpiritDay

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NCLR Executive Administrative Assistant and Scheduler, Celia Gamboa #SpiritDay

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NCLR Communications Intern, Anna Suttorp #SpiritDay

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NCLR Communications Coordinator, Ricky Garza #SpiritDay

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NCLR Manager, Economic Policy Project, Catherine Singley Harvey

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NCLR Action Fund Executive Director, Matthew McClellan #SpiritDay

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Loren McArthur, NCLR Deputy Director, Civic Engagement #SpiritDay

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NCLR New Media Manager, David Castillo #SpiritDay

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NCLR Communications Director, Julian Teixeira #SpiritDay

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The NCLR Los Angeles staff supports #LGBT youth! #SpiritDay

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NCLR Vice President, California Region, Delia de la Vara shows her support this #SpiritDay.

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So tell us: What does Spirit Day mean to you?