This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending January 15

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Week Ending January 15

This week in immigration: No decision yet from the Supreme Court; Ready America conference provides immigration integration strategies; new report examines children with unauthorized immigrant parents.

No decision yet from the Supreme Court on DAPA and expanded DACA: The Supreme Court could still agree to hear the case at their next meeting on Friday, January 22.  While we wait to hear if the Supreme Court will take the case, take a moment to read the op-ed written by Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) describing the work of her late father, Rep. Roybal and others pushing for executive action that would protect spouses and children of people gaining legal status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Under the Family Fairness policy, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) ultimately made up to 1.5 million unauthorized spouses and children of those legalized under IRCA eligible for temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. Rep. Roybal-Allard writes “It is my hope that once DAPA and expanded DACA are permitted to take effect and millions of Dreamers and parents of American citizens are permitted to come forward, pass background checks and more fully participate in our communities, Congress will act consistent with the will of the American people and enact sensible immigration reform legislation. Doing so will honor the legacy and the principle of family unity that my father, as well as Reagan and Bush, championed.”

Ready America conference brings together immigration leaders: Grassroots organizers, advocacy groups, and legal experts will gather in Arlington, Virginia next month to collaborate on immigration integration strategies at the 2nd annual Ready America conference. The focus will be on preparing organizations to assist Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Additionally, participants will discuss policies and procedures to enact should the Supreme Court uphold Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded DACA. Individuals or groups looking to register for the conference can do so here, and an outreach flyer providing exact dates, times, and locations is available here.

Migration Policy Institute examines outcomes for children with unauthorized immigrant parents: The Migration Policy Institute this week released a fact sheet titled “A Profile of U.S. children with Unauthorized Immigrant Parents.” This publication finds that children growing up with unauthorized immigrant parents face lower preschool enrollment, reduced socioeconomic progress, and higher rates of linguistic isolation and poverty. By middle childhood, research shows that the estimated 5.1 million children living with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent face lower academic achievement. By adolescence, these same youth suffer from higher anxiety and depressive symptoms, and by young adulthood have completed an average of 1.25 to 1.5 fewer years of schooling than their peers. Despite the fact that 79 percent of children with unauthorized immigrant parents are U.S. citizens themselves, they still suffer the consequences of our broken immigration system.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending November 13

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Week Ending November 13

This week in immigration reform: NCLR calls for appeal to Fifth Circuit ruling on administrative relief; USCIS honors immigrant members of the military; NCLR shares information on health care enrollment for immigrant and mixed-status families; and NCLR Deputy Vice President participates in immigration discussion.

NCLR responds to Fifth Circuit decision on administrative relief: Monday evening saw the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans uphold an earlier ruling in Texas v. United States, temporarily blocking implementation of President Obama’s executive actions related to immigration. Announced in November 2014, these executive actions would provide deportation relief through expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Shortly following the decision’s announcement, NCLR issued a press release calling on the Department of Justice to appeal the case as soon as possible. NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía was quoted in the statement, saying, “The record is clear—since the end of World War II, presidents of both parties have used discretionary powers on multiple occasions and for an extensively wide range of reasons to protect various groups from deportation. This decision disregards both this precedent and the necessity and practicality of setting priorities when it comes to immigration enforcement.”

The Department of Justice has announced that it will appeal the Fifth Circuit decision and ask the Supreme Court to review the case. For more information on possible next steps in the case, check out this graphic created by NILC. 

Although implementation of these specific programs remains halted, eligible applicants may still apply for DACA. For more information on how to apply for DACA, please visit uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.

In commemoration of Veterans Day, USCIS recognizes military members among new citizens: In recognition of Veterans Day, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will welcome more than 255 veterans, service members, and military spouses as new American citizens this week. These veterans will be among the 10,000 new citizens naturalized at roughly 130 ceremonies nationwide. The military has always relied heavily on immigrants, with approximately 65,000 immigrants serving in the armed forces as of 2008. Recognizing the large role immigrants play, Congress and the Department of Defense have created multiple programs making it easier for foreign-born military members to obtain citizenship. Currently, USCIS can accelerate the application for citizenship for members of the United States armed forces and recently discharged members. Additionally, the Department of Defense created the Naturalization and Basic Training Initiative in 2009, which permits enlisted members to finish the naturalization process during basic training.

NCLR provides information for immigrant and mixed-status families on health care enrollment: As open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gets underway, we know there are people eligible for coverage who remain uninsured and are looking for information and resources to understand their options and get covered. NCLR provides immigrants and mixed status families resources and shares important facts to know about enrolling in health coverage under the ACA in this blog post

NCLR Deputy Vice President participates in conversation on immigration reform: NCLR Deputy Vice President Clarissa Martinez de Castro participated in a discussion titled, “Immigration: Open the doors or build some walls,” as part of the “Consider It” program in Reading, Pennsylvania. The discussion centered around immigration reform and its impact on the local community. “Consider It” promotes civil public discourse on divisive or controversial topics, based on the American Public Square Initiative in Kansas City. Other participants included the Heritage Foundation, a professor from Albright College, and a Reading School District employee.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 1

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Week Ending May 1

This week in immigration reform: NCLR Affiliates continue to ready for executive action implementation; NCLR continues our blog series on deferred action recipients; and House Republicans hold hearing on birthright citizenship.

NCLR kept the community informed with staff quoted in NBC News and the Tennessean.

Congressman Gutierrez and NCLR Affiliates rally to support executive action and comprehensive immigration reform: This Thursday, Congressman Gutierrez (D-Ill.) spoke to a crowd of nearly 200 at a high school in Washington, DC, touching on executive action, comprehensive immigration reform, and his own personal story. This was the Congressman’s 20th stop on his “Immigration Action National Tour,” a national undertaking to inform the immigrant community of the requirements and importance of DACA and DAPA. An article quotes Gutierrez saying, “It’s a huge task and the more people know, the earlier they know it, the better prepared they will be to take advantage. It’s my responsibility not only to demand action here in Washington, D.C., but to ensure to the best of my ability that it is implemented as broadly and as widely and as generously as possible.” Each event also includes volunteers who meet with those potentially eligible for deferred action to inform them about the process and to help get them ready to apply once the programs are no longer on a court-mandated hold. NCLR Affiliates, including Ayuda, CARECEN, Carlos Rosario, La Clinica del Pueblo, Latin American Youth Center, and Mary’s Center, co-sponsored the community town hall.


NCLR blog series features DACA recipient Carla Mena: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series profiles North Carolinian Carla Mena, who received DACA in 2012. DACA has enabled Carla to get a full-time job at Duke University’s Global Health Institute and to continue engaging her community through serving on the Wake Health Services Board of Trustees and working with NCLR Affiliate Youth Council at El Pueblo, Inc. While Carla has a temporary reprieve from deportation, her parents, and millions of others, don’t. DAPA, the program for parents of U.S. citizen children or legal permanent residents, is on hold. Our blog notes: “DAPA would provide opportunities for millions of skilled immigrants to work in fields where they can earn and contribute more. If DACA recipients have demonstrated in just three years what this program can do for communities like Raleigh, perhaps it’s time to consider something more stable. Carla’s story attests to the social and economic benefits of administrative relief, however, the overhaul of our immigration policies remain a critical task that Congress must undertake.”

House Republicans Convene hearing on birthright citizenship: This week,  a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on whether or not birthright citizenship, the policy of granting U.S. citizenship to each child born on U.S. soil supported by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, is good for America. In advance of the subcommittee hearing, civil rights leaders and members of Congress held a press conference to denounce the hearing. NCLR Deputy Vice President, Clarissa Martinez de Castro, said “It’s time to legislate responsibly; we want relief, resolution, and reform.” Democratic Members of Congress weighed in decrying the substance of the hearing, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying, “Evidently, there is no American principle too sacred not to be surrendered in Republicans’ race to pander to the most radical, anti-immigrant corners of their party.  Today’s hearing is an appalling Republican effort to reverse one of our most fundamental constitutional guarantees: people born on American soil are Americans.” A Latin Post article quoted other Members of Congress, including Senator Menendez (D-N.J.), who said the hearing is a “painful reminder that we cannot and must not tolerate second-class citizenship, inequality, intolerance, and injustice. It is a humiliating reminder of the jingoistic insensitivity of the few toward multiculturalism and the changing face of America in the 21st Century.”

ImmReformUpdate_5_1_2015_pic3Clarissa Martinez de Castro of NCLR with Reps. Al Green, Luis Gutierrez, and Ruben Gallego

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 24

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Week Ending April 24

This week in immigration reform: update on Texas lawsuit challenging administrative relief; NCLR continues our blog series on deferred action recipients; and USCIS joins with local governments on immigrant integration.

Update on lawsuit challenging executive action: Last Friday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case concerning President Obama’s November executive actions on immigration. An article in Politico notes that the court will likely rule 2-1 against the request for a lifting of the injunction placed on expanded DACA and DAPA by Judge Hanen. The oral arguments took the same tone as the political debate around the president’s contentious actions, and the next step might be taking the case to the Supreme Court. A large group of those supporting President Obama’s executive actions packed the courtroom and held a rally outside the courthouse. A decision from the three-judge panel could come at any time and those familiar with the process believe it will come within the next few weeks.

NCLR features DACA recipient Joel Sati: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series profiles 22-year-old college student Joel Sati, originally from Kenya. Joel learned he was undocumented in high school and slowly began taking classes at Montgomery College in Maryland. He was actively involved with United We Dream and advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act. When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, Joel’s activism paid off. Our blog notes: “For Joel, the impact of receiving DACA was life-changing. After graduating from Montgomery College as a Phi Theta Kappa honor student, he was accepted into the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies at CCNY. Today, the philosophy major juggles a full course load and an internship at an immigration law firm in Harlem.” In the fall he will be applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy and aspires to become a college professor.

Cities recognize importance of immigrant integration: This week USCIS and the city of Atlanta announced a new partnership to strengthen citizenship education and awareness efforts. Atlanta joins three other cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville – to expand access to resources and information regarding naturalization. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed notes, “The contributions of immigrants and foreign-born residents to the cultural and economic fabric of Atlanta are irrefutable. In the City of Atlanta, immigrants are over-represented among the self-employed, and across our state, new immigrant business owners generate business revenue of $2.9 billion a year.  Despite their proven value to our city, thousands of our eligible residents have not yet completed the naturalization process. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce a joint commitment with USCIS to expand access to citizenship in Atlanta, with all its privileges and responsibilities.”

Not only do legal immigrants contribute to the local, state and national economies, but undocumented immigrants do as well. A Washington Post article highlights a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan nonprofit. The report found President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will generate an extra $845 million in taxes annually from immigrants living here undocumented. That is in addition to the $11.8 billion they already contribute.