This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 22

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Week Ending May 22

This week in immigration reform: NCLR and others raise awareness on original DAPA implementation date; NCLR continues blog series on deferred action recipients; and an update on state-level activity.

NCLR and advocates participate in National Day of Action in support of DAPA: This Tuesday was the original date the Obama administration would have begun accepting applications for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). However, that deferred action program that would bring relief to millions of people is currently on hold, pending an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our press statement notes: “Instead of celebrating with the millions of families who would finally gain a reprieve from the needless separations that have torn apart our communities, today we continue to navigate this drawn-out, unnecessary litigation that has left so many American families in limbo,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at NCLR (National Council of La Raza). “By pursuing this lawsuit, the opponents of these programs accomplish nothing beyond damaging our economy, jeopardizing our national security and attacking Latino families.” A decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected any day now, although there is no deadline for a decision.  For more information on the possible litigation scenarios, check out this document from the National Immigration Law Center.

Studies show DAPA would benefit the American economy. A piece from the Center for American Progress outlined how: “DAPA would result in a cumulative gross domestic product, or GDP, increase of $164 billion, an $88 billion increase in incomes for all Americans, and create 20,538 jobs per year over the next 10 years. Moreover, DAPA would result in payroll tax increases of $16.7 billion over five years.”

NCLR compiled tweets from fellow advocates supporting DAPA on May 19. See them in our blog.

NCLR blog features DACA recipient Jose Alguiluz: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog profiles a DREAMer from Honduras. When he was 15-years-old he came to the U.S. to receive medical treatment at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Montgomery College and applied for DACA once it was announced in 2012. DACA enabled Jose to fulfill his dream of becoming a nurse and since January 2014 he has been employed at Washington Adventist Hospital as a registered nurse. Jose also finds time to advocate for his fellow DREAMers and he worked to pass the Maryland DREAM Act. He also is a member of NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland’s Board of Directors. Jose is continuing his studies and hopes all those in his community can realize their potential through deferred action.

State Updates: 

  • This week the Nebraska legislature voted to reverse a policy denying driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. A Star Tribune article notes that Arizona and Nebraska were the only states where those granted deferred action were ineligible for licenses. The Arizona law was blocked by the court last July. DACA recipients are now eligible for a driver’s license in all fifty states.
  • Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial-profiling case is costing Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars. A New York Times article notes the county has already doled out $45 million and more costs are expected to materialize. Unrelated to the racial-profiling case, the county has also paid out $74 million to cover other judgments, settlements and legal fees due to lawsuits involving Arpaio and his office.

Has the House Judiciary Committee Majority Lost Its Mind?

On the odd chance that you’re looking for a case study in how to ignore facts and turn a heartbreaking situation for millions of American families into a juvenile BuzzFeed rip-off, you’re in luck. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee showed everybody just how out of touch with reality they are by posting this asinine “press release,” which relies on tired misrepresentations about the Obama administration’s track record on immigration, wrapped in adorable gifs from your favorite teen movies.

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A screen shot of the House Judiciary Committee website.

Sound the alarm, because according to the post, President Obama has stopped enforcing immigration laws. This is, of course, the same president who has spent more on immigration enforcement than any other president in history. The same president was prompted to act and bring sanity to the immigration system only after giving Congress ample time to deliver bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, which passed in the Senate and stalled in—wait for it—the House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee says we need “innovative solutions” to fix the country’s immigration system, and it’s prepared to tackle them one at a time. What do those solutions look like? They look like another version of the SAFE Act, a bill that would essentially make racial profiling the law of the land, allowing state and local authorities to pick up, arrest, and detain people who “look illegal.” If you think that sounds like a law that would lead to civil rights violations, you’d be right. Just ask Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the poster child for these policies, who was slapped with a court ruling determining that this approach produces widespread patterns of racial profiling and discrimination.

The House Judiciary Committee also says that we need to tackle the matter of asylum seekers from other countries, like the pressing issue of children fleeing violence from Central America. Showing unwavering empathy for these victims of violence, their solution is, naturally, to make it more difficult for children who are trying to escape violent countries to seek haven in the United States. They did, however, have time to pass a bill that would allow families being persecuted for homeschooling their children to seek asylum here. Let’s hope the countries around the world we chastise for unfair treatment of asylees and refugees weren’t watching.

These issues may be funny to the House Judiciary Committee, so much so that they wasted part of their day finding their favorite Bring It On gifs to illustrate their amusement. But to Latinos in this country, the committee’s combined inability to put forward viable solutions on immigration reform, and penchant for passing bills that deliberately target our community, is downright offensive. One in six people in this country are Latino. And one in 10 Latinos, including citizens and legal immigrants alike, report being stopped each year based on suspicion of immigration status. Are we a nation that tolerates laws that will legitimize and expand racial profiling and trample on all Americans’ civil liberties? Are we a nation that simply ships scared children straight into the throes of violence? Are we a nation that would rather continue to tear families apart needlessly, when we have a clear path forward in our hands?

To the majority leading the show in the House Judiciary Committee, we suggest that if you indeed want to “preserve the rule of law and protect the integrity of our generous immigration system,” then maybe it’s time to get to work on comprehensive immigration reform, rather than cobbling together insulting lists that mock the heartbreak that millions of American families, particularly the Latino community, feel every day thanks to the nation’s broken immigration system.