This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Feb. 27

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Week Ending February 27

This week in immigration reform: Janet Murguía and advocates meet with President Obama on immigration; NCLR launches a new blog series; the Department of Homeland Security funding debate continues; and NCLR gears up for National Latino Advocacy Days.

NCLR kept the community informed on immigration with staff quoted in Slate and EFE Newswire and featured on Kansas City Public Radio.

President Obama meets with advocates and participates in townhall on immigration: This week Janet Murguía attended a meeting with President Obama where he encouraged advocates to continue to get out the word about DAPA and the broader eligibility for DACA. The president also told advocates at the meeting that, despite the temporary delay of the implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA because of the court injunction, the priorities enforcement memo from November 2014 is in effect and the administration will continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. Read more in a Huffington Post article. Murguía tweeted about the meeting (below) and made a statement afterwards, saying “the law is on our side and that while we need to move forward through the legal process, we believe that we will win this case and make sure that we can move forward with implementation with the executive order.” Watch a video of her complete statement.

The president continued defense of his executive action on immigration during an appearance with MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for an immigration town hall in Miami. Watch the video in our blog. Additionally, President Obama wrote an op-ed in The Hill urging comprehensive immigration reform.

NCLR launches a blog profiling deferred action success stories: A new blog series began this week with the story of Emilio Vicente, a DACA recipient and soon-to-be college graduate. Emilio has advocated for immigration reform, is an active member of his university community, and hopes to continue his work on immigration upon graduation from the University of North Carolina. On what DACA has meant for him, Emilio said:

“DACA for me means not being under the threat of deportation at any moment and being able to use my degree once I graduate. I can also sleep better at night knowing that my brothers and sisters-in-law, who qualify for DAPA, won’t be deported and separated from their families at any moment. We need a humane immigration bill that is permanent but until then, DACA and DAPA will protect many of us from the separation of our families.”

The blog, ‘Living the American DREAM,’ will also profile individuals who will come forward to apply for the expanded DACA and new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.

Congress continues to debate funding for DHS, which expires at midnight: The fight over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security has played out all week on the Hill. Just today, the Senate passed an amended version of HR 240, a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill to fully fund the agency through the fiscal year. House Republicans might try to call a conference committee to negotiate a final bill and to potentially add language into the bill to prevent implementation of executive action. Minority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to block a conference committee and is quoted in an article from The Hill saying: “If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government. We’re not going to play games.”

The Senate then proceeded to vote on a bill by Senator Collins (R-Maine) that would overturn President Barack Obama’s most recent immigration actions. That vote failed 57-42. In the House, Republicans attempted to pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund DHS through March 19. That vote failed 203-224. It is unclear how Congress will proceed and NCLR will keep you informed as this debate continues.

Latino advocates come to the Washington next week to voice concerns and support for their communities: Next week, 300 Latino leaders from 23 states and the District of Columbia will come to Washington D.C. for National Latino Advocacy Days. NCLR is excited to welcome members of the NCLR Affiliate network and will be facilitating a day-long training to prepare participants before they visit their elected officials.

A Chat About the Role of Community Health Workers in Communities of Color: Highlights

Today NCLR joined our friends at Peers for Progress and Black Women’s Health Imperative for a twitter chat on how community health workers are vital to improving minority health. We’ve put together some highlights for you. Thanks to Black Women’s Health Imperative and Peers for Progress for working to produce this spirite Twitter chat today!

The Real Problem with Sean Penn’s Green Card Joke at the Oscars

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

As I was watching the final moments of a very long Oscars telecast, all but certain that Birdman was about to be announced Best Picture, I was not offended so much as baffled when Sean Penn joked about Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s green card since Penn, while a talented actor, is not known for being a bigot or, for that matter, funny.

I realize that both Penn and Iñárritu later said that this was some good-natured ribbing between friends, an inside joke. But I also understand—and they should, too—why so many people in the Latino community took offense. Even on the most triumphant Oscar night ever for someone of Hispanic heritage, Penn’s joke reinforced what Latinos have long suspected: our perception—borne out of history and experience—that Hollywood believes our community does not belong at the Academy Awards. Not only were there no Hispanic acting nominees, but a Latino has not been nominated for Best Actor since 2011, or a Latina for Best Actress since 2006. If you are a U.S.-born Hispanic, the landscape is even grimmer: no Best Actor nomination since 1988 and no Best Actress nomination since… ever. That’s right: no U.S.-born Latina has ever been nominated for Best Actress. In nearly a century of Oscars, you can count the number of total acting awards won by Latinos on one hand… plus an extra finger.

Our virtual invisibility at all Hollywood award shows—not just the Oscars—is why NCLR created the NCLR ALMA Awards® 20 years ago. We realized that if the many contributions of Latino talent both on-screen and behind the camera were going to be recognized and honored, we would have to do it ourselves. Unfortunately, two decades later, that still seems to be the case. After 15 ALMA shows honoring hundreds of Latinos and Latinas in Hollywood, the Oscars still managed to only showcase a couple of us—Jennifer Lopez and Zoe Saldana—as presenters on Sunday night’s show.

But we also do ourselves a disservice by dwelling on Penn’s dopey, spur-of-the-moment quip because it overshadows the best moment for Latinos on television in a long time: Iñárritu’s Best Picture acceptance remarks. It is a tribute to Iñárritu that in the greatest moment of his career thus far, he chose to focus on the plight of those who are too often invisible. He said, “I just pray [Mexicans here in the United States] can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones that came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

In just one sentence, Iñárritu captured the hopes and dreams of the nation’s 55 million Latinos. And he did so in front of the estimated billion people around the world watching the event, giving voice to something never before heard on such a large scale. The best way to make sure that people forget Penn’s crassness is for us to make sure that people do not forget these timeless and eloquent words.

Consumer Protections Are Under Attack!

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

CFPB_LogoLatino families have benefitted from consumer protections that were created to prevent another economic crisis. These protections were established through the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. As you may know, Dodd-Frank created a new federal agency solely dedicated to serving the consumer—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Since the CFPB opened its doors in 2011, we have seen a more consumer-focused economy for the 21st century.

Many families have already benefitted from the CFPB:

  • It made wiring money abroad easier and more transparent.
  • It eliminated many bad credit card practices.
  • It wiped out many mortgage lending tricks and traps that got us into the housing crisis.

These successes are very important to ensuring that families, not just the banks, thrive. Unfortunately, they are under threat by policymakers striving to roll back strong regulations. Take a look at some of the changes being proposed:

  • Impairing the Bureau’s strong leadership. One problematic proposal is to replace the CFPB’s director with a less effective team of five commissioners. Historically, five-member boards have hobbled decision-making and increased gridlock.
  • Chipping away at its funding. As with every banking agency, the CFPB’s independent funding insulates it from the partisan attacks. Dodd-Frank established this funding stream of nontaxpayer dollars for the Bureau from the Federal Reserve.
  • Imposing unwarranted bureaucratic burdens and diminishing authority over nonbanks. In 2010, Congress gave the CFPB authority to oversee previously unregulated entities, such as debt collectors, remittance providers, and payday lenders—industries that have taken advantage of consumers with high fees and unscrupulous practices.

Many of you helped achieve these victories for families by supporting the CFPB. We need your help once again. Lend your name to our petition and help protect the CFPB from these harmful proposals!

President Obama’s Immigration Town Hall — Full Video

Last night, President Obama joined MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for an immigration town hall. The president answered some tough questions from Diaz-Balart and the audience and reiterated his defense of his administrative relief. Watch the full video below.