This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Nov. 7

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Week Ending November 7

This week in immigration reform: NCLR partners with immigrant advocates to hold a press conference on the midterm election; President Obama reaffirms his intent to act on immigration; NCLR and allies urge the president to act boldly; elected officials voice their support of executive action; Congressman Gutierrez (D-Ill.) writes an op-ed encouraging broad administrative relief.

NCLR and immigrant advocates react to the midterm election at a press briefing: In the months leading up to the election, NCLR partnered with numerous organizations to help promote Latino civic engagement and to shine a spotlight on Latino voter priorities. Now that the election is over, data from a poll conducted by Latino Decisions, sponsored by NCLR, the Latino Victory Project, and America’s Voice, on election eve shows that neither party is succeeding at engaging Latino voters.

In a press statement, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía highlighted three lessons from the election. “Number one, to the Republicans: There will never again be an electoral map and, more importantly, an electorate as favorable to the Republican Party as in 2014. In 2016 the demographics of the Electoral College will come home to roost for Republicans. If they continue on this trajectory, Republicans will have elected their last president for the foreseeable future. Latino voter priorities must be reflected in Republican policy priorities.

“Number two, to the Democrats: They must lean in. They should not take our community for granted. The visible failure of some Democrats to stand with the Latino community proved costly with our electorate. Democrats need to embrace, not avoid, Latinos’ policy priorities.

“Number three, to the president: He needs to act boldly to bring relief to the millions facing deportation and family separation. Every modern president has used this authority. The Hispanic community has waited far too long and expects him to fulfill his promise.”

President Obama reaffirms his commitment to executive action on immigration prompting reactionary rhetoric from Republicans: In a press conference this week, President Obama, while noting legislative action on immigration reform is his preference, said he still plans on taking executive action to provide administrative relief. He continued, saying “But what I’m not going to do is just wait. I think it’s fair to say that I have shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis as much as possible. And I’m going to keep on doing so. But in the meantime, let’s figure out what we can do lawfully though executive actions to improve the functioning of the existing system.”

In response, Republicans have threatened that any action by the president on immigration would make Congressional immigration reform impossible. An article in The Hill captured Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s reaction. He said, “I’ve made my position very clear: It’s time for the Congress of the United States to deal with a very difficult issue in our society” and any action by President Obama would “poison the well.” However, House Republicans had more than a year to pass bipartisan legislation but refused to bring S. 744 to the floor for a vote, prompting the president’s decision to act. This casts doubt on Speaker Boehner’s sincerity for addressing this issue that affects millions of Latinos.

Janet Murguía countered Republican rhetoric and is quoted in an article, saying “The best way to get that legislative outcome is for the president to put a marker down and let the Republicans respond. Now that they have a majority in both chambers of the Congress, if they don’t like what the president does … guess what? They can now act.” NCLR urges President Obama to take big and bold action, keeping families together and removing the fear of deportation.

Immigrant rights groups, faith, and labor allies press the president for action on immigration: NCLR, along with the SEIU, AFL-CIO, and Dream Action Coalition among others, held a press conference at the National Press Club to push President Obama to use his authority and offer administrative relief from deportation for millions of workers and families. Groups indicated their intent to intensify mobilization efforts to increase pressure on the White House. Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President of NCLR, said “The president has the power, precedent, and priority for action on his side. He must seize this moment to fulfill his promise and bring some sanity to the immigration system, while also providing relief to the millions of families affected by congressional obstruction.  Furthermore, his action stands to bring national security and economic benefit to the country, and should not be delayed.” Read more in the press release.

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Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President of NCLR

Elected official voice their support for executive action on immigration: Following the election this Tuesday, numerous elected officials have reiterated their support of deportation relief and expressed their hope the president will take action. During a press conference with the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, on Thursday, Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) said “The president has no choice but to take executive action where he can, wherever it’s legally allowed, to help reform the immigration system. We cannot put up with this constant obstruction. We need to fix our broken immigration system.” An article covering the event also noted Senator Schumer’s continued desire for House Republicans to pass the bipartisan Senate bill that passed last year.

Another elected official from New York, Congressman Rangel (D-N.Y.), expressed enthusiasm for executive action during an event with New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform. An article covering his speech to immigration reform activists highlighted his optimism that now the election is over, the president will be free from political restraints and will act. Congressman Polis (D-Colo.) attended a rally with immigration activists outside First Unitarian Church in Denver. An article quotes Congressman Polis tying the outcome of the midterm election to the delay on executive action saying, “Some of us believe delaying the announcement of relief for hundreds of thousands of families, relief that has overwhelming popular support and is in line with our values as Americans, may very well have had the opposite effect by dampening voter enthusiasm across the country.”

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) pens an op-ed pressing the president for swift and expansive executive action: Continuing the trend of support for executive action by elected officials, Congressman Gutierrez (D-Ill) wrote an op-ed in The Guardian this week stating that executive action is “in our national interest to get millions of immigrants to register with the government – to start living above board and working on-the-books. The first step is enrolling immigrants in a program that incorporates key requirements, including a criminal background check, full tax compliance and periodic review and renewal. This puts employers on notice that we intend to protect the legal rights of all employees, which will make it harder for them to exploit and undercut US-born workers.” He urges the president to act boldly, writing “success on immigration means a full approach to reform, which to me means expanding protections to 5-8 million undocumented people currently living in this country. Go big, President Obama.”

Monthly Latino Employment Report: Elections Expose Anxiety About Wages

U.S. employers added 214,000 jobs in October, dropping by a tenth of a point to 5.8 percent. The Latino unemployment rate also fell to 6.8 percent.

In this month’s Monthly Latino Employment Report, we look at Tuesday’s elections and what message voters sent to Washington about the economy. An election eve poll by Latino Decisions showed that the economy was the biggest concern for Latinos only after immigration. The votes in four states to raise the minimum wage certainly underscored that feeling as well as the anxiety voters have toward the low-wage recovery. Read the full report below.

Employment Report Nov 2014 – Election

The Election Is Over; it’s Time for the President to Act

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AllInRally3Election Day has come and gone. No matter who’s the majority in Congress, one thing is clear: Latino voters who went to the polls this week were motivated by immigration reform.

We saw the early signs of this through Election Day polling we conducted with Latino Decisions. Those polls showed that 45 percent of Latinos nationwide cited immigration as one of the most important issues in 2014.

The simple truth is that for many Latino voters, immigration is not just a political issue; it’s a personal one that often affects our very own family members. In fact, polling from Latino Decisions shows that 58 percent of registered Latino voters say they know someone who is undocumented. For so many of us, there was just too much at stake not to vote.

This was certainly true for Guadalupe Portillo, a 102-year-old Lincoln Heights, California, woman who became a citizen last year and voted for the first time on Tuesday. Portillo cast her vote with the aim of setting an example to Latinos who may have lost hope amid a gridlocked Washington that has been unable to pass immigration reform legislation.

From NBC Bay Area:

“It’s never too late,” she [Portillo] said. “Here I am at my age still fighting, and you won’t even vote? That’s why I’m voting. I may be old, but I’m one more voice.”

Watch the whole report below:

Consider Gloria Argentina Sarmiento Mendoza’s story. In the Lincoln Journal Star this week, Mendoza told her story of citizenship and why it was important for her to get it in time for Election Day.

From the Lincoln Journal Star:

After Gloria Argentina Sarmiento Mendoza passed her citizenship test—answering all the questions correctly—she had a question of her own.

Could she change her legal name? Make it shorter for her Social Security card?

The woman from Honduras wanted to get rid of her middle name, replace Argentina with an “A.”

Not a problem, the examiner told her. It would take two months to approve the change, then she could come back to take the oath and make her U.S. citizenship official.

Two months?

Forget it, Gloria told her.

“I said, ‘Keep it. I want to vote in the election. I want to vote.’”

And after 12 years in America, she didn’t want to wait one more day.

Mendoza travels around Nebraska educating Latinos on their rights and helping them find assistance. She understands the need for immigration reform and she hears heartbreaking stories every day from families grappling with separation and deportation.

Forward GraphicNow that the election is over, the candidates who lost are licking their wounds and the victors are preparing to take office. As they prepare, they should also remember that there is another election in two years and Latinos have made it clear that they want immigration reform. Not delivering on this could prove disastrous in the next cycle.

We also need the president to keep his word and take executive action to provide relief to the millions of immigrants facing the threat of deportation. The president should heed the words of Portillo and Mendoza, as well as the many voices we’ve shared over the past few months. The election is over; the time is up. It’s time to act, Mr. President. Millions of lives are hanging in the balance.

Join us in telling President Obama to take strong executive action today! Sign our petition and tell him to act!

Understanding the Latino Vote this Election

Earlier today, NCLR joined Latino Decisions and other partners for a press briefing on an election eve poll of registered Latino voters nationwide. Below are highlights from the event.

For a look at the full results of the election eve poll, go to latinovote2014.com.