This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Oct. 31

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Week Ending October 31

This week in immigration reform: NCLR produces a report showing Latino support for action on immigration; NCLR continues the ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog series with the story of Javier Flores; NCLR and Affiliate TODEC host a town hall in California; NCLR, GALEO and Latino Decisions highlight the impact of the Latino electorate in Georgia; Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) write an op-ed on executive action.

NCLR releases Latino electorate profile: This week NCLR published a new resource on the Latino electorate, demonstrating that Latino voters are increasing their numbers at the polls and they want to see action on immigration. The report asks, “What impact has inaction on immigration reform had on Latino voters, the fastest growing segment of the electorate? A poll found that 54 percent of Latino voters would have much less favorable opinion, and 20 percent would have a somewhat less favorable opinion, of House Republicans if Speaker John Boehner did not have a vote on immigration reform legislation.” With the 2014 midterm election four days away, candidates and pundits should take note of the increasingly influential Latino electorate, especially when looking forward to 2016. Visit NCLR’s ‘Administrative Relief’ webpage for more information.

Representatives Pelosi (D-Calif.), Gutierrez, (D-Ill.), and Lofgren (D-Calif.) urge President Obama to take broad executive action: In an op-ed published by Univision, three Members of the House of Representatives make the case for broad executive action, citing a long history of presidential action on immigration. For example, under Presidents Reagan and Bush, a “Family Fairness” program offered indefinite protection from deportation and work permits for an estimated 1.5 million spouses and children of those who received status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. The piece notes, “Similarly, the president could ‘parole’ into the country the spouses, sons, and daughters of American citizens and lawful permanent residents who face lengthy separation waiting for a visa. Doing so would not permit family members to skip the line, but it would allow them to wait in line with their family until a visa number becomes available.” Echoing the sentiments expressed by these Representatives, NCLR asks President Obama to act quickly and boldy to provide relief for millions of American families. For more information on the precedent for executive action on immigration, click here.

NCLR continues ‘Hanging in the Balance’ series with the story of Javier Flores: In NCLR’s latest ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog post, we highlight what a delay of executive action means for immigrants and their families. We share a story published in the Washington Post of Javier Flores, a 31-year-old factory worker who, prior to his deportation, lived in Ohio for 13 years. After the president’s announcement that he would take action early this summer, Javier believed he would be able to stay in the U.S. with his children, ages 10, 7, 4 and 9 months, and would be able to continue working and paying his taxes. However, delay from the White House shattered these dreams. Javier was deported a month ago because of a traffic stop years before. NCLR knows there are thousands of other stories like Javier’s, all of which could have been prevented with executive action. The president must make good on his promise to act on immigration.

NCLR and Affiliate TODEC hosted a town hall meeting on Latino issues in California: The town hall took place on October 20 in Perris, Calif. and focused on issues affecting the Latino community including immigrant integration, juvenile justice, and the common core among others. Another event took place on October 30 in Thermal, California, focusing on the same issues. An article on the events quotes NCLR’s Pedro Silva as saying “We want to hear from elected officials who vote on issues of concern to Latino voters. And it’s important for elected officials to hear from Latino voters on the issues that impact them.” 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.

Pedro1Pedro Silva from NCLR speaks in the town hall meeting in Thermal, Calif.

NCLR and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) hold media briefing: This week, NCLR, GALEO, and Latino Decisions held a briefing for the media on the impact of Latino participation in the upcoming election. The Latino electorate has grown by 438 percent since 2000 and in close political races their votes can decide the outcome. Loren McArthur, Deputy Director of Civic Engagement at NCLR, is quoted in the press release saying, “There’s a lot at stake for Latinos this election, and while some may feel frustrated by the lack of action on issues like immigration, a powerful way to break that gridlock and make progress on these issues is by growing the Hispanic electorate. In Georgia, Latino voters can absolutely make a difference in this November’s elections.” NCLR urges Latinos to make their voice heard at the polling booth next week to ensure our community is heard and our concerns respected.

Must Watch: The Daily Show Send-Up of Anti-Immigrant Attitudes in Texas

The Daily Show has been in Austin, Texas all week long as part of their Election Day coverage, dubbed “Democalpyse 2014.” In last night’s episode, correspondent Al Madrigal filed a funny, yet poignant, story on how the immigration issue has shaped the misinformed views some Texans have of the state’s vibrant Latino community. Madrigal also does a great job of pointing out just how ludicrous some of the anti-immigrant claims really are. You’ll also notice a certain ALMA Awards winner make a hysterical cameo near the end of the clip. Enjoy!

The Consequences of Delayed Executive Action

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ImmDayofAction_immigrationsharegraphic_2_14President Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action on immigration this past September affected millions of hardworking people and their families. Like many of us who were disappointed in the House Republican leadership’s failure on immigration, we were expecting President Obama to act, particularly after he said in a Rose Garden ceremony on June 30 that he would fix as much of the immigration system as he could on his own. Millions of families were also waiting to hear what the president would do to provide relief. But for many of those immigrants, the president’s decision to delay taking action on immigration meant the difference between staying with their families in the United States and being deported to their countries of origin, often after having lived in the United States for several years.

One such individual is Javier Flores, whose story was featured in The Washington Post this past weekend. For Flores, a 31-year-old factory worker who most recently resided in Akron, Ohio, the president’s decision to delay action meant deportation.

From The Washington Post:

In June, he had watched on TV as President Obama promised he would stop deporting certain kinds of illegal immigrants by the end of summer. The president and his staff said they would bypass Congress by issuing an executive action to help people with clean criminal records and American-citizen children — people like Javier. “This means you!” an immigration advocate had written to him, and even though Javier had already been ordered deported he believed his miracle had come. He would be able to stay with his children, ages 10, 7, 4 and 9 months. He would be able to keep his job at the window factory, where he managed 30 people and paid $850 in U.S. taxes each month. “A perfect case,” the advocate wrote again, and all Javier had to do was wait for Obama to say the things he had promised to say.

But then July turned into August, and August turned into September, and Obama decided it was more politically prudent to delay his executive action until after November’s midterm elections. So instead of being offered his reprieve, Javier was sent back to the poorest state in Mexico, where the advocate had sent him one final note. “Sorry,” it read. “Terrible timing.”

The April All in For Citizenship Rally drew thousands of supporters from around the country.

Up until his deportation back to La Mixtequita, Mexico, a village with fewer than 1,000 residents, no mail service, no Internet service, and no work, Flores had lived 13 years in Ohio. His family, a wife and four children, are all still in Ohio. His youngest child is unable to comprehend why she has not seen her father for almost a month. Indeed, Flores’s deportation was hard for even his relatives in Mexico to understand. It is baffling how a routine traffic stop could turn into deportation for someone who has lived in and contributed to his community for so many years.

For now, Flores spends his days sometimes harvesting limes in a small orchard, but mostly contemplating his next steps, mulling over an attempt to return to Ohio, desperate for any solution that will reunite him with his family that needs him so sorely. It’s a heartbreaking and unfortunate situation that could have been averted had Congress or the president done the hard work necessary to finally bring some sanity back to our immigration system. There are millions of others who could avoid the same fate when President Obama makes a big and bold announcement after the midterm elections.