This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Feb. 27

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Week Ending February 27

This week in immigration reform: Janet Murguía and advocates meet with President Obama on immigration; NCLR launches a new blog series; the Department of Homeland Security funding debate continues; and NCLR gears up for National Latino Advocacy Days.

NCLR kept the community informed on immigration with staff quoted in Slate and EFE Newswire and featured on Kansas City Public Radio.

President Obama meets with advocates and participates in townhall on immigration: This week Janet Murguía attended a meeting with President Obama where he encouraged advocates to continue to get out the word about DAPA and the broader eligibility for DACA. The president also told advocates at the meeting that, despite the temporary delay of the implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA because of the court injunction, the priorities enforcement memo from November 2014 is in effect and the administration will continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. Read more in a Huffington Post article. Murguía tweeted about the meeting (below) and made a statement afterwards, saying “the law is on our side and that while we need to move forward through the legal process, we believe that we will win this case and make sure that we can move forward with implementation with the executive order.” Watch a video of her complete statement.

The president continued defense of his executive action on immigration during an appearance with MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for an immigration town hall in Miami. Watch the video in our blog. Additionally, President Obama wrote an op-ed in The Hill urging comprehensive immigration reform.

NCLR launches a blog profiling deferred action success stories: A new blog series began this week with the story of Emilio Vicente, a DACA recipient and soon-to-be college graduate. Emilio has advocated for immigration reform, is an active member of his university community, and hopes to continue his work on immigration upon graduation from the University of North Carolina. On what DACA has meant for him, Emilio said:

“DACA for me means not being under the threat of deportation at any moment and being able to use my degree once I graduate. I can also sleep better at night knowing that my brothers and sisters-in-law, who qualify for DAPA, won’t be deported and separated from their families at any moment. We need a humane immigration bill that is permanent but until then, DACA and DAPA will protect many of us from the separation of our families.”

The blog, ‘Living the American DREAM,’ will also profile individuals who will come forward to apply for the expanded DACA and new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.

Congress continues to debate funding for DHS, which expires at midnight: The fight over how to fund the Department of Homeland Security has played out all week on the Hill. Just today, the Senate passed an amended version of HR 240, a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill to fully fund the agency through the fiscal year. House Republicans might try to call a conference committee to negotiate a final bill and to potentially add language into the bill to prevent implementation of executive action. Minority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to block a conference committee and is quoted in an article from The Hill saying: “If they send over a bill with all the riders in it, they’ve shut down the government. We’re not going to play games.”

The Senate then proceeded to vote on a bill by Senator Collins (R-Maine) that would overturn President Barack Obama’s most recent immigration actions. That vote failed 57-42. In the House, Republicans attempted to pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund DHS through March 19. That vote failed 203-224. It is unclear how Congress will proceed and NCLR will keep you informed as this debate continues.

Latino advocates come to the Washington next week to voice concerns and support for their communities: Next week, 300 Latino leaders from 23 states and the District of Columbia will come to Washington D.C. for National Latino Advocacy Days. NCLR is excited to welcome members of the NCLR Affiliate network and will be facilitating a day-long training to prepare participants before they visit their elected officials.

Living the American DREAM: Emilio Vicente

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Today we are starting a weekly series highlighting people who have come forward and applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as well as those who will be coming forward to apply for expanded DACA or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Since President Obama announced DACA in 2012, more than 638,000 people have received deferred action, meaning they can live without the fear of deportation and continue their contributions with a work permit. While DACA does not provide a path to citizenship, we know that it has been transformative as recipients are able to pursue their dreams and improve their economic well-being.

The expansion of DACA and DAPA has brought hope to millions of immigrants and families, including those who were initially unable to apply for DACA because they were over the age of 31. The president’s plan to expand DACA and establish DAPA would let up to 5.2 million more people live without the fear of losing a loved one due to deportation policies. When he announced that he was using his legitimate authority, we heard from our network that administrative relief would change their lives and keep their families together.

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Emilio Vicente (in blue) with Eva Longoria (left), NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, and MSNBC anchor, Jose Diaz-Balart (right) at the 2013 NCLR Annual Conference

One person who has benefited from DACA and who has created incredible opportunities to give back to his community is Emilio Vicente. Emilio grew up in North Carolina and is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We met him back in 2010 when he was regularly traveling from North Carolina to Washington, DC, to share his story with his senators and urging them to support the DREAM Act. Emilio became a regular at his senators’ events; the senators and their staff knew that he was there to deliver a message of the DREAM Act’s implications for him and for his state. He continued his advocacy efforts for immigration reform, joining NCLR during the National Latino Advocacy Days in 2011, and serving as a member of the NCLR Líderes Youth Advisory Committee. He also participated in a town hall panel at the NCLR Annual Conference in New Orleans alongside NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía and Eva Longoria.

During this time, Emilio has worked at competitive internships in Seattle and Washington, DC, and has raised money for scholarships for undocumented youth. Last year, Emilio ran for UNC student body president and drew the attention of national press in doing so. The New York Times reporter who spent time with him during the campaign described Emilio as a “one-man whirlwind of engagement.”

On what DACA has meant for him, Emilio said:

“DACA for me means not being under the threat of deportation at any moment and being able to use my degree once I graduate. I can also sleep better at night knowing that my brothers and sisters-in-law, who qualify for DAPA, won’t be deported and separated from their families at any moment. We need a humane immigration bill that is permanent but until then, DACA and DAPA will protect many of us from the separation of our families.”

Once he graduates in the spring, Emilio hopes to continue advocating for immigration reform in Washington, DC. Receiving DACA will allow him to put his incredible talent and experience to use—so Washington better look out!