This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending June 26

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This week in immigration reform: California’s state budget leads the way on immigrant integration; helpful tips for DACA renewals; and this weekend marks the two year anniversary of the Senate passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

California state budget is an example for others states and the U.S. Congress to follow: California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that will make significant investments in California’s families. Included in the budget are important measures that are examples of successful integration of immigrants and lift up working families. For example, the budget which begins next month creates a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families. During our recent California Latino Advocacy Day, representatives from NCLR Affiliates met with lawmakers to show their support for AB 43, the EITC bill. The state legislature also made history when it included $40 million to expand the state’s Medi-Cal program to undocumented children. It is estimated that 170,000 young people under 19 years old could qualify for the expansion. Speaking at a news conference, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon said, “We are the first legislative body—we are the first state in the union—to invest in children without legal status. With this budget, we’re saying that immigrants matter, irrespective of who you are or where you’re from.” Another laudable measure is the wise investment in community-based education, outreach, and application assistance for both deportation relief and naturalization that will advance immigrant inclusion and prosperity across the state. 

USCIS shares helpful tips for successful DACA renewals: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently shared helpful tips to ensure that the DACA renewal process goes smoothly for everyone. More than 600,000 individuals have received an initial two year grant of deferred status and a work permit that is renewable. USCIS is mailing renewal reminder notices to DACA recipients 180 days before the expiration date of their current period of deferred action to ensure sufficient time to prepare renewal requests. Individuals who have a pending renewal request and want to check on the status of the renewal after it has been pending for more than 105 days can visit egov.uscis.gov/e-request or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833). Help spread the word about DACA renewals by sharing our blog post with more tips. 

 Two years ago this Saturday, the Senate passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation: This Saturday, June 27 marks the two year anniversary of the Senate overwhelmingly voting in favor of passing immigration reform legislation. The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives never allowed for any votes on comprehensive immigration reform bills, so the prospects of a version of the senate bill getting to the president’s desk came to an end at the close of the 113th Congress.  Our colleagues at the Center for American Progress published a report highlighting all the ways that our country would benefit if the House of Representatives had acted to pass legislation. “So what would the country look like today had S. 744 become the law of the land? Put simply, millions of people would be on their way to permanent legal status and citizenship, thousands of families across the nation would be together, and the U.S. economy would see significant gains.”

Boston joins USCIS to create “Citizenship Corners”

Every year, there are thousands of lawful permanent residents eligible to become citizens. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Massachusetts had 200,000 lawful permanent residents eligible to naturalize in 2013. Now, Boston has decided to make a change to provide assistance to permanent residents.

Earlier this month, the city of Boston and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) signed a letter of agreement to expand a partnership to strengthen citizenship education and awareness efforts in their communities.

“USCIS is proud to partner with Mayor Walsh to provide immigrants with greater access to information and resources as they pursue the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship here in ‘The Cradle of Liberty’,” said (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez. “We look forward to working with the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians and other city services in providing tools to help immigrants contribute to a thriving, welcoming and innovative Boston.”

According to USCIS, the Boston Public Library branches will establish “Citizenship Corners” to make USCIS citizenship preparation materials more accessible to people throughout the city. USCIS plans to provide training to librarians and city officials about the naturalization process and the free preparation resources available to immigrants who come to local public libraries in search of information.

“There could be no better time for this kind of effort,” said Mayor Walsh. “Like so many places in our country, Boston is becoming more diverse, and this agreement will further the work being done by USCIS and our Office of New Bostonians, which is vitally important to our future.”

Under the agreement signed at City Hall, USCIS and the city of Boston also plan to:

  • Provide citizenship information through schools, community centers and other city facilities.
  • Expand community partnerships to hold naturalization information sessions throughout Boston.
  • Broadcast citizenship education videos and public service announcements highlighting the letter of agreement on the city’s public access television station, Boston City TV, and city websites.
  • Raise awareness of how to avoid immigration scams.

In addition to Boston, there are 5 cities that have agreed to join this initiative: Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and New York City.

Congratulations to Boston and Mayor Walsh in recognizing the growing immigrant population for creating these open spaces to learn about the citizenship process within their own communities. This is a great step forward to support the successful integration of immigrants into American society.