U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
On July 13, 2017, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly had a closed-door meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). The discussion focused on the important immigration issues that are top of mind for many in our community, including the futures of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and the designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Combined, DACA and TPS shield more than 1.1 million—predominantly Latino individuals—from deportation.
Instead of alleviating concerns, the conversation raised many more alarms and led to scathing statements from CHC members. For starters, Secretary Kelly indicated that after talking to various “experts” that he had doubts about the legality of DACA. This is puzzling, given the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the executive branch has “broad discretion” in matters relating to immigration, and “must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.” DACA is consistent with this reasoning. On DACA, Kelly also stated that decisions about the future of DACA will be left to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions’s strong anti-immigrant positions and ties to extremist groups is well documented, and is a cause for concern for the more than 800,000 DACA recipients and their supporters.
Texas’ S.B. 4 is a License to Discriminate:This past Sunday in the shadow of night, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law SB4 which would go into effect in September. The legislation, opposed by a host of police chiefs from all over Texas, calls on law enforcement to inquire about immigration status in traffic stops and other interactions, allows police officers to question children about immigration status, and mandates fines and jail time for elected officials and law enforcement who fail to comply with the discriminatory law, even though it may make them complicit in violating constitutional safeguards. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it has the spirit of previous racial profiling bills passed in Alabama, Arizona and other states where taxpayers bore the burden of litigation. NCLR joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Mi Familia Vota, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Urban League (NUL) in a press conference denouncing the legislation. Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR, said, “Gov. Abbott’s action is reckless and irresponsible. S.B.4 represents a false promise to those looking for real solutions on immigration. Rather than solving anything, this deeply troubling and unconstitutional legislation will jeopardize the civil rights of millions of Texans, nearly half of whom are Hispanic, and undermine public safety in communities across the state. As an organization that works to protect and defend America’s Latino community and uphold the core values of this nation, NCLR condemns this new law and others like it, and the bigotry and intolerance they represent.”
By Laura Vazquez, Senior Immigration Legislative Analyst, NCLR
A colleague recently came back to NCLR from maternity leave and asked me what is happening with immigration reform. “When I left there was momentum, and now the news reports say it’s dead,” she told me. I smiled warily. I’m used to explaining to people that the effort to pass immigration reform legislation is not dead. I have had to do it often, as reporters seem to love writing the obituary on immigration reform.
The accurate story is that advocates and leaders of immigration reform are building on the momentum created over the August recess and continuing to pressure leadership in the House of Representatives to have a vote on immigration reform this fall. This week there was a clear message sent by Latinos in Congress from both sides of the aisle that the time is now for a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Continue reading →