This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending October 16

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Week Ending October 16

This week in immigration reform: NCLR expresses disappointment following Trump ‘SNL’ announcement; NCLR Affiliate highlights unaccompanied migrants; Calls for the court to act on immigration executive action; and Senate to begin debate on “sanctuary cities.”

NCLR kept the community informed with staff quotes in NBC News, The Hill, Latina, LA Weekly, and Univision.

NCLR Statement: Trump Hosting ‘SNL’ a “Slap in the Face”: NCLR spoke out about the announcement that Donald Trump will be hosting an upcoming episode of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL), calling the decision a “slap in the face” to Hispanic viewers. “This is not about lacking a sense of humor. Everyone knows that SNL is not just a comedy show. For the last 40 years, it has become a highly coveted platform for candidates from political parties who are looking to reach and connect with the American public. It is appalling, then, that a show with that history and that role to showcase a man whose campaign has been built on bigotry and demagoguery for the sake of buzz and ratings. NBC made the right decision last June to sever its ties with Trump over his blatantly anti-Latino campaign announcement. Since then he has only gotten worse and more divisive, so this change of heart is even more troubling,” stated Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.

“It is especially galling that this golden opportunity for Trump to mainstream his message of hate has come from a show that in its 40 year history has had just two Hispanic cast members, has never had a Latina cast member on the show yet has consistently engaged in Latina stereotyping over the years, and has brushed aside our community’s concerns when we have pointed that out. This is a slap in the face to the millions of Hispanic viewers who watch SNL, NBC, and the rest of the NBC/Universal family. We urge that SNL and NBC re-consider this ill-advised decision,” concluded Murguía.

Calls for Court Decision on Immigration Executive Action: Calling attention to the stalled court decision over President Obama’s executive action on immigration, nine activists are fasting outside an appeals court in New Orleans. The case was originally filed in December 2014, when Texas and 25 other states filed suit against Obama’s action providing deportation relief to several million undocumented immigrants, and a temporary injunction blocking the action’s implementation was issued in February. No ruling has been made since the court heard the arguments in July.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote a piece on the stalled decision this week, saying “Obama’s executive actions are withering not on their legal merits but because of the calendar.” The editorial argues that the case is still pending because of the timing associated with an expected appeal to the Supreme Court if the current injunction is upheld. “Is the 5th Circuit willfully slow-walking this decision with its eye on the calendar? The court already considered the core arguments before denying the emergency stay in May. Or is the case really that complicated? Only the judges know. Regardless, this is not how justice is reached. The 5th Circuit needs to move this case along without delay. It would be unacceptable if the president’s executive actions are stalled not because of a legitimate legal challenge but because the wheels of justice turn too slowly.”

Senate Bill Threatening Community Trust Policies To Be Debated Next Week: Following months of internal Republican discord over mandatory minimums and other measures, the Senate is expected to begin debate on S. 2146, the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act.” As mentioned last week, this bill would withhold important funding sources from localities that establish community trust policies, while simultaneously establishing mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal reentry offenses. In a letter circulated to Senate staff, NCLR strongly opposed the bill, saying it would “criminalize communities wholesale and undermine trust in local law enforcement.” In addition to NCLR, opposition to the legislation includes civil rights organizations, community development organizations, organizations that support survivors of domestic violence, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote an opinion piece opposing the legislation this week.

NCLR Affiliate Creates Photography Series About Unaccompanied Child Immigrants: CARECEN, the Central American Resource Center, partnered with the Washington Post to create “Unaccompanied,” an “audio-visual story of young immigrants in the Washington, D.C. area who were among the thousands of children seeking refuge from the violence of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.” The series profiles youth such as Gissell, who came from El Salvador at age 12 to reunite with her father. “At age 13, Gissell wants the chance to prove her worth in society. ‘I think it’s really important to tell our story,’ she says.” Per the article, “This project seeks to demonstrate the realities that youth immigrants face: the doubts, the aspirations, complexity and humanity of their experience.”

This Week in Immigration Reform – Week Ending June 19

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Week Ending June 19

This week in immigration reform: celebration of DACA’s anniversary; economic and electoral impact of deferred action; and lessons learned on how to appeal to the Latino community.

NCLR, Members of Congress, and Community Activists Celebrate three-year anniversary of live-changing DACA program: This Monday marked the third anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has helped over 650,000 aspiring Americans work toward the American dream. Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), highlighted the success of the program, saying, “Living without the constant fear of deportation empowers more people to pursue higher education, enter the workforce, contribute to our economy and create a brighter future for this nation. DACA has been one of the only successful and sensible immigration policies to come out of Washington in decades.”

NCLR has been producing a blog series titled “Living the American DREAM,” telling the stories of hard-working DREAMers. In celebration of DACA, we compiled the series into a publication to show the human element of immigration and the need for reform. This week, Congressman Cuellar (D-Texas) and Congressman Tonko (D-N.Y.) tweeted our blog sharing the story of DREAMer Katherine Perez.

Many Members of Congress shared DACA stories on the floor this week, including Senator Kaine (D-Va.), who shared the story of Hareth Andrade (included in our publication), and Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.). Congressmen Costa (D-Calif.), Polis (D-Colo.), Hoyer (D-Md.), and Cardenas (D-Calif.) spoke on the House floor and their colleagues in the Senate joined them with speeches by Senators Heinrich (D-N.M.), Murray (D-Wash.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Reid (D-Nev.), and Menendez (D-N.J.).

Follow NCLR on Twitter @NCLR and on Facebook for updates on congressional floor speeches, DACA facts, shareable graphics, and informative videos.

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New reports demonstrate economic and electoral impact of deferred action programs: This week the Center for American Progress updated a previous report on the national economic benefits of expanded DACA and DAPA that showed DACA, expanded DACA, and DAPA would grow the US economy by $230 billion over 10 years. The new interactive report posted this week shows state-level benefits for 37 states and Washington, DC. Texas, which is currently leading the charge to end the deferred action programs, would benefit the most from the programs, with an estimated $38,271,000,000 cumulative increase in state GDP. Of all 26 states who are suing the Obama Administration to eliminate expanded DACA and DAPA, CAP has state-level data for 18 of them. In total, those 18 states would see a cumulative increase in GDP of almost $92 billion.

President Obama’s deferred action programs would have a significant economic impact on states, but they also have political and electoral implications. A piece written by Latino Decisions outlines the impact of DACA, including its rise as a litmus test for candidates on immigration reform and the boost original DACA gave to President Obama en route to reelection.

Former Romney campaign staffer warns GOP of past missteps: In a piece published in Politico, Katie Packer Gage, deputy campaign manager of Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency in 2012, reflects on how rhetoric on immigration during the GOP primary harmed the party in the general election. Gage cites research from her firm that found hardline immigration positions cost more general elections votes for a candidate than they earn in the primary. Gage writes:

Voters under age 35 and college-educated white women are most turned off by the hottest anti-immigrant rhetoric. Since Hillary Clinton has the clearest path to the Democratic nomination, Republicans can’t afford to surrender a single vote in these groups, which President Barack Obama won handily, without a fight. They will be pivotal to winning the White House next year.

The numbers don’t lie. To grow our party — and win the White House in November 2016 and beyond — Republican candidates need to resist the temptation to characterize one another as soft on immigration.

Instead, they should stake out specific, realistic, pro-immigration reform plans that demonstrate to all voters the Republican Party’s commitment to making the American Dream a reality for all.

If DACA Works, Why Not Implement DAPA?

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By Yamid A. Macias and Janet Hernandez, NCLR

LAD_CarlaMenaCarla Mena, a young aspiring American living in Raleigh, North Carolina, who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, continues to be a committed and engaged member of her community. She is a sitting member of the Wake Health Services Board of Trustees and spends most of her spare time empowering youth through her work on the Youth Council at El Pueblo, Inc. This NCLR Affiliate taught Carla about the importance of helping Latinos achieve positive social change by building consciousness, capacity, and community action, a belief that has been part of their mission for over 20 years.

Most recently, thanks to her hard work and determination, Carla was promoted to Bilingual Project Coordinator, a full-time position at Duke University’s Global Health Institute. Now that she is a permanent employee, Carla enjoys an array of benefits including, among others, health insurance and a well-deserved salary increase. With these benefits, she can not only increase monetary contributions to her family but also contribute more to the local economy. These opportunities, however, wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for her new status resulting from DACA.

Carla recalls that she first learned about DACA on June 15, 2012. This date had a special significance to her and her family, as it marked the 10th anniversary of their arrival to the United States. “I had recently graduated from college, and learning about this opportunity was a relief,” she said. “The first question I had was, when can I apply? My family and I hugged and cried from the emotion and the opportunity that this represented.”

Today those memories are bittersweet, particularly because Carla fears that her parents—as well as thousands of other parents in the same situation—cannot join her in living the American Dream.

Although Carla’s story represents the reality that hundreds of thousands of young DACA recipients currently face, it also corroborates an undeniable fact: DACA works. This program’s effectiveness suggests that the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) could have an even greater impact on our country’s economy and workforce.

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. As Carla puts it, “Temporary programs are helpful, but a more permanent and more inclusive solution could be better.”  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.

First Recommendations for Integrating New Americans Issued

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This week, the Task Force on New Americans issued its first report to President Obama, recommending ways that the federal government can more effectively support the successful integration of new Americans. As part of the president’s executive actions announced last November to address the nation’s broken immigration system, the Task Force was formed to recommend federal strategies that will strengthen communities and maximize the contributions of immigrants, who today represent nearly one-fifth of the U.S. labor force.

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States experienced a massive and unprecedented wave of immigration that, in relative terms, has yet to be equaled. According to the Migration Policy Institute, from 1860 to 1920 immigrants composed 13–15% of the U.S. population. Starting in 2013, for the first time in a century, the immigrant share of the U.S. population once again approached historic highs.

As with previous waves of immigrants, these new Americans face a number of obstacles. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly half of the legal immigrants arriving annually to the U.S. lack full proficiency in English, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that over two-thirds of the foreign-born population do not have a postsecondary degree. This is troubling, since 19 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations require some form of higher education or additional training.

Marlene-SeptThe response toward these new arrivals has been lackluster compared to previous generations. The successful incorporation of millions of newcomers into the fabric of our society a century ago is one of our country’s signature achievements. These immigrants did not do it on their own; rather, they received significant help from all levels of government and charitable institutions. Today, as success requires higher levels of educational attainment and English language proficiency, our nation has moved away from providing a coordinated government response to help immigrants integrate into American life. The work of the Task Force on New Americans implicitly acknowledges that more must be done.

Among the report’s recommendations from NCLR and other stakeholders, it calls for the creation of a Welcoming Communities Challenge. Inspired by an NCLR recommendation, this competitive funding opportunity would encourage communities to create tailored plans to meet immigrants’ needs in addressing civic, linguistic, and economic integration. While the details are still under review, this challenge would encourage recipients to design programs for local conditions that could provide innovative models for scalable, replicable projects in the future. Without being overly prescriptive, the Welcoming Communities Challenge would highlight best practices that coordinate the three pillars of integration. Immigrants and communities alike would benefit from the inclusion of civic, linguistic, and economic integration in a cohesive policy.

We know too well that questions about who, and how many, should be allowed to enter the country will always be controversial, but there should be no debate about our shared interest in rapidly and fully integrating Americans-in-waiting. Our future economic prosperity, national security, and social cohesion rest in part on how well we meet this challenge.