This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending July 11


Week Ending July 11, 2014

This week in immigration reform: President Obama and Congress continue working to address the refugee crisis of children fleeing violence,NCLR’s Janet Murguía condemns the hate-filled demonstration at Murietta, CA; a federal court rules that Arizona must grant driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, while sheriffs and local police across the nation refuse to detain immigrants for ICE; and new surveys find, once again, strong support among voters for immigration reform.

–Stand with Children! President Obama and Congress work to address refugee crisis of children fleeing violence; NCLR’s Janet Murguía condemns hateful display at Murietta.  This week the U.S. government continued to debate how best to handle the ongoing refugee crisis of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America and being apprehended at the southern border. For a great two minute overview of the situation, check out this video.

 On Tuesday President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion to address the refugee crisis and Congress has held hearings on the request for funds. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) discusses the nonsensical response of Republicans and the need for Congress to provide funding without eliminating current protections that unaccompanied children have under current law in this video.

ImmReformUpdate_7_11_2014Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus call for administrative action on the border, saying: “We should treat children at our doorstep in a humane fashion.  We must make sure we do not short-circuit justice for the children” (photo: Rep. Joe Garcia).

Meanwhile, NCLR’s Janet Murguía condemned the hateful display put on by the protestors who blocked buses of detained children fleeing violence from entering the town of Murrieta, California. Murguía characterized the actions of these extremists as un-American and sharply critiqued the Mayor of Murrieta, Alan Long, for deliberately riding this wave of bigotry.

–Federal court rules that Arizona must grant driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, while sheriffs and local police across the nation refuse to detain immigrants for ICE.  This Monday, July 7, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona cannot deny driver’s licenses to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.  The state had followed this counterproductive policy since August 2012, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered state agencies to deny licenses and other public resources to DACA recipients.

Meanwhile, sheriffs and local police departments across the country are refusing to hold undocumented immigrants in detention past their scheduled release dates. Previously, local police frequently detained undocumented persons for an additional 48 hours until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers could determine whether the detainee could be deported. Many law enforcement officials say that they are declining to hold non-citizen detainees for ICE after a federal judge in Oregon ruled that one sheriff who carried out this practice violated an immigrant woman’s civil rights.

–New polling finds, once again, strong support among voters for immigration reform.  The Partnership for a New American Economy, Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers released 27 surveys this week that found overwhelmingly strong support for immigration reform among American voters. Among the surveys’ findings, 80 percent of voters responded that they want Congress to act on immigration reform in 2014 and two out of three voters favored reform that includes a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. As Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) acknowledges, it is “highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue.”

Why Children Are Fleeing Violence in Central America

What’s really happening in Central America and why are so many women and children fleeing their home countries to find refuge elsewhere?’s Dara Lind explains in two minutes.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart Speaks Out on Immigration Reform


Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)

Today, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) delivered remarks on the state of immigration reform. He expressed disappointment with Congressional inaction and reiterated his committment to passing a bill. Full text of his remarks are below.

“From 2009-2010, I had been working with a group of bipartisan colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation. Unfortunately, Democratic Leadership refused to consider the bill when they had the majority.

During the last year and a half, I have been working non-stop with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft legislation that would obtain a majority of the Republicans and a number of the Democrats who are willing to put politics aside and get immigration reform done.

In particular, I want to thank Luis Gutierrez for all his help, for his willingness, when necessary, to take on Republicans, Democrats, and the President.

After lots of work and revisions, we finally drafted legislation that could garner the necessary bipartisan support. We learned our lessons from the 1986 amnesty bill and last year’s Senate bill, and did not repeat their mistakes.

Due to the extraordinary lack of trust in this President, I worked to ensure that the legislation would independently verify and hold this and future presidents accountable for finally securing the borders. The bill is a commonsense solution to illegal immigration that recognizes we are not going to spend tens of billions of dollars to roundup and deport millions of undocumented workers who have been here for many years. My solution would require those who came here illegally to earn legal status, earn their right to remain here, and demonstrate their commitment to the United States. It is an efficient and effective approach that is good for the American economy and fair to the people who came here legally.

I am grateful for the cooperation, advice, and trust I received from so many of my colleagues, specifically Speaker Boehner and his staff. I also want to thank Paul Ryan for his guidance, leadership, and friendship, and countless other House Republicans, like my legislative sister Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for their constructive input on this issue.

Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy.

This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a commonsense solution is only going to make matters worse as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border.

It is highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue. I know it is difficult, especially when you have a President that failed to build the trust of the American people or the U.S. Congress, and who has done little to enforce current law despite his assertions to the contrary. But we were sent here by the American people precisely to tackle difficult issues and not to take the easy way out.

By blocking reform, whether it was when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker or now, we are in effect abdicating our duty. Particularly when we have a President that is willing to unilaterally act through executive action, that he himself has said is legally circumspect, will not provide a long-term solution to our immigration system, and I believe could even make it worse.

I hope that in the near future leadership will reconsider and allow my legislation to come to the floor. I for one am not willing to give up and will continue to work until we can finally fix a broken immigration system that everyone recognizes is dysfunctional.

I want to make it clear that I am ready to proceed at any time.”


By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

However you feel about the immigration issue, the sight of angry protesters in Murrieta, California screaming “go back to where you come from” and shouting other invectives to a busload of children and their moms has to make you queasy. It sickened me. But what also made me angry was that the protestors, to justify taunting a group of defenseless kids, grotesquely cloaked their hatred in “patriotism” by chanting “USA!, USA! USA!” over and over again. I remember one of the first times I proudly joined with my fellow Americans in that chant when the U.S. Hockey Team pulled off its improbable win over the Soviets at the 1980 Olympics. So on this Fourth of July, I want to reclaim “USA! USA! USA!” on behalf of the vast majority of Americans and the values we hold dear back from that mob of hate in Murrieta.

There is nothing more un-American than showing not even one shred of sympathy, compassion, or even decency towards a group of desperate young children who showed up on our doorstep after having spent weeks on a treacherous journey. There is nothing more un-American than deliberately frightening an already traumatized group of kids, some still in diapers. There is nothing more un-American than a mob taking the law into their own hands and preventing authorities from doing the work of processing these refugees. What we saw was not patriotism –— it was ugly, divisive, and yet another low for a debate that I thought could not get much lower.

But I reserved my greatest scorn for the Mayor of Murrieta, Alan Long. It was he who incited his constituents to protest and let law enforcement look the other way. It was he who recklessly demagogued the issue to spare himself a political problem and is now crying crocodile tears about the “black eye” media coverage has given his town. He took an epic, immensely complicated humanitarian situation that involves broken policymaking both in Central America and in the U.S. and pointed the finger of blame at a bus full of little kids and babies.

What is so craven about Long’s “blame the victim” strategy is that he and the anti-immigrant extremists he unleashed not only blocked a couple of buses, they continue to block every single attempt at a humane and effective solution by reasonable policymakers on both sides of the aisle. Egged on by shameless demagogues like Long at the local level and lawmakers like Rep. Steve King (R-–IA) at the national level, the small but loud anti-immigrant movement like the one on display in Murrieta is the single biggest reason we do not yet have comprehensive immigration reform.

This week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that helped America finally live up to its values when it came to all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or creed. That legislation was also unconscionably delayed by another small but powerful group of people who were on the wrong side of history. The leaders of the civil rights movement had to fight hard and but also long to overcome them, but they did. And they were joined in that struggle by a dedicated and tireless group of bipartisan Senators and Congressmen and a courageous President. Fifty years later, there is no doubt in my mind that in the America I know and love we can do it again.

This Week in Immigration Reform – Week Ending July 4, 2014


Week Ending July 4, 2014

This week in immigration reform: President Obama announces that Speaker of the House John Boehner has told him that the House will not vote on immigration reform legislation this year, forcing the President to use his executive authority to fix our immigration system; NCLR’s Janet Murguía calls on President Obama to act to fix our broken immigration policies at an AFL-CIO panel; Darrell Issa and 33 other House Republicans sign a letter calling for the DACA program to be ended and for DREAMers to be deported; and thousands of new Americans across the country choose to become citizens on this 4th of July holiday.  NCLR kept the community informed in a number of media appearances this week, with staff quoted in the Associated Press, The Hill, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and MSNBC.

–President Obama says that Speaker Boehner has told him no vote on reform this year, announces intent to use executive authority to fix immigration system.  On Monday, June 30 President Obama said that Speaker of the House John Boehner has told him that he won’t be permitting any votes on immigration reform legislation in the House this year.  Therefore, the President announced, he will use his executive authority to fix our broken immigration policies and to provide some relief to the millions of aspiring Americans facing the constant threat of deportation.

With House Republican leadership continuing to obstruct progress on this issue, NCLR welcomes executive actions from the White House to ease the pain that our community is forced to endure every day. We will also encourage the administration to build on the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by offering work authorization and temporary relief from deportation to those who can demonstrate family connections to U.S. citizens and others lawfully present, as well as to those with long-term residence in and ties to their communities.

–NCLR’s Janet Murguía calls on President Obama to act on immigration at AFL-CIO panel.  NCLR’s Janet Murguía spoke at a panel discussion this Tuesday, July 1 on immigration reform policy and workers’ rights, joining the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the AFL-CIO, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). Murguía argued that President Obama must act immediately to fix our broken immigration system, since House Republicans have refused to act. Click here to watch the full program.

Murguía also joined a press call on Tuesday, July 1 to discuss a new report by the Center for American Progress that details the steps that the president can take, under his broad discretionary authority, to begin fixing our misguided immigration enforcement practices. ImmReformUpdate_7_4_2014

Janet Murguía speaking at the AFL-CIO panel on immigration reform (photo courtesy of LCLAA).

Darrell Issa, 33 other Republicans sign letter calling for DACA to end and for DREAMers to be deported.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) found 33 other House Republicans this week to join him in  sending a letter demanding that President Obama end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, thereby effectively resuming the indiscriminate deportation of DREAMers.

As we have noted, in the two years since its inception DACA has been overwhelmingly successful in allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people to pursue their career and educational ambitions, free from the constant fear of being deported. Proposing to end a program that allows young people to fully integrate into our society and economy isn’t just spiteful and cruel – it’s counterproductive and nonsensical. Rep. Issa and his co-signers ought to be ashamed to see their names on this letter.

–This 4th of July thousands of new Americans across the country choose to naturalize.  This 4th of July thousands of individuals will choose to become American citizens in naturalization ceremonies held across the country.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for one, will be naturalizing around 9,000 new citizens in more than 100 ceremonies between June 30 and July 4.  You can find a full list of these naturalization ceremonies, by date and location, here.

Un Verano En Nueva York

By Rafael Collazo, Director of Political Campaigns, NCLR

40x504_commoncore_72aThe seminal Puerto Rican salsa band El Gran Combo sang it best: there is nothing quite like “Un Verano En Nueva York.”Even a hardscrabble Philly guy like me has to admit that a unique energy permeates the Manhattan streets during the summer.

So it was with great pleasure that I visited Spanish Harlem in New York City to document the opinions of leaders who are on the frontlines of preparing our young people for higher education and the future job market.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is heavily engaged in the ongoing national debate on the benefits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). For many that are still unclear about what the Common Core are, skepticism is spreading amongst parents and some educators due to a lack of information, and even misinformation. They wonder if the CCSS are another fad that is steering national public education off course and disrupting the progress of Latino and minority students.

GraduationWhile NCLR understands these concerns and is working to advocate for improved implementation, NCLR firmly believes that Latino students can only achieve education equity when all schools and school districts are held to the same standards of achievement, instruction, and assessment that the CCSS demand. In fact, NCLR has already discovered Latino educators committed to the Common Core State Standards for the benefit of students.

Amber Charter School, an NCLR Affiliate, is a K–5 school located in the heart of “El Barrio” in New York City. Since 2011, Principal Dr. Vashti Acosta has been preparing to align her school with the new rigorous standards of achievement that are now in 43 states and the District of Columbia. With careful planning from administrators, teachers, and parents, Amber Charter School is a model of how Latino and minority children can Step Up and Step In to higher achievement.

When NCLR spoke to Dr. Acosta about our New York Campaign to make Latinos more aware of what the CCSS entail and how they will benefit Latino youth, Dr. Acosta immediately recommended that we connect with students and teachers to hear their stories of how the CCSS have impacted their school year.

So NCLR staff paid a visit to Amber Charter School to tape video interviews (watch below) with Dr. Acosta, her teachers, and her kids to hear about their year with the CCSS. From the moment we started filming, it was clear how integral these standards have been in helping the entire school “Step Up.” Seasoned educators raved about how these standards accelerated learning, thinking, and communication for all students. The students themselves said it best: “My favorite word this year was ‘whimsical,’” said Nina, a fourth grader at Amber. Another student, Anthony, stated how what he is learning will help him “mature into the adult” he wants to be.

The buzz in Spanish Harlem a few days before the National Puerto Rican Day Parade made our visit even more inspiring. NCLR staff also interviewed Latino immigrant parents at the Annual English Language Learner Parent Conference held at the nearby Museo Del Barrio. The parents, primarily Mexican, shared the importance of education for their children and all Latinos, with the backdrop of some amazing artwork by top Latino artists from all over the world.

Commitment, inspiration, creativity, hope, warmth… all words I can use to describe our time in New York. After all these years, Un Verano En Nueva York is still something special.

NCLR President: Extremists in Murrieta, Calif. Don’t Represent Majority of Americans

Yesterday, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía joined MSNBC’s “Now with Alex Wagner” to talk about the humanitarian crisis happening on the border and about immigration reform in general. Watch the ten minute segment below.

The President Must Act in the Face of GOP Inaction on Immigration


On immigration reform, the president will act on his own if he has to. The president made these comments in a Rose Garden speech yesterday in response to House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that the House would not be taking any votes on immigration reform this year. President Obama said he will use whatever executive authority he has to fix our broken immigration system and provide some relief the millions of aspring Americans facing deportation. Watch the president’s remarks below:

Janet Murguía, NCLR’s President and CEO, responded to the president’s remarks in a statment in which she welcomed this latest move.

“By refusing to act on immigration reform, House Republication leadership has given the president no other choice but to take administrative action,” said Murguía. “They have the ability to restore the rule of law by passing a permanent legislative solution on immigration reform, and have instead chosen to perpetuate a broken system that causes enormous and unnecessary human suffering for the Latino community. They willfully disregard that passing immigration reform is in the nation’s best economic interests and that the majority of Americans across a broad political spectrum overwhelmingly support immigration reform. With House Republican leadership continuing to obstruct progress on this issue, NCLR welcomes executive actions from the White House to ease the pain that our community is forced to endure every day.”

With two million deportations that have occurred and more than 277,000 deportations of parents of U.S. citizen chilren, Murguia made clear that our community can no longer wait. We will work with the Obama administration to develop and implement executive actions that will limit deportations to those responsible for serious crimes or to those who pose threats to our national security. We also call on the president to build upon the successes of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by offering work authorization and relief from deportation to those who can show family connections to U.S. citizens and others who are in the United States lawfully.

“We urge Speaker Boehner to reconsider his decision,” Murguía said. “And if he does, we stand ready to work with Congress and the administration to fashion a bipartisan solution. However, our community cannot continue to wait on legislation while our families are ripped apart.”