This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending July 3

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Week Ending July 3

This week in immigration reform: celebrating citizenship in light of Independence Day; the growing influence of the Latino community; and Delaware extends driving permits to undocumented immigrants.

This Fourth of July, Let’s Celebrate New Citizens: This Saturday marks America’s 239th birthday. As we head into the holiday weekend, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is preparing to welcome more than 4,000 new citizens in more than 50 naturalization ceremonies between July 1st and 4th.  A San Jose Mercury News article covered a naturalization ceremony during which 92 new Americans took their oaths of citizenship. New American Sergio Saporna Jr., 43, came to the U.S. almost 16 years ago from the Philippines: “Today, in the ceremony, I was thinking about where I came from, but also about all the benefits and wonderful things that have happened to me. I think becoming a citizen is the best way for me to give something back to the country that has already given me so much.” This weekend follow #newUScitizen for photos and tweets of people celebrating the 4th of July as new Americans. 

Also this week, Univision, along with NCLR, NALEO, LULAC, and CitizenshipWorks launched a campaign to promote the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen. “There are an estimated four million Hispanics eligible for citizenship in the U.S.,” said Roberto Llamas, executive vice president for Human Resources & Community Empowerment. “Our goal is to help them understand the benefits, rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship, particularly how to qualify and prepare themselves to vote.” Check out UnivisionContigo.com for information and resources on applying for U.S. citizenship.  

The Latino community’s growing influence is already changing the 2016 election landscape: This week, 2016 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is facing consequences after making derogatory remarks about Latino immigrants. Media companies NBC and Univision have cut ties with the business mogul and Macy’s Department Store will no longer carry his menswear line. NCLR issued a press statement applauding NBC and Univision for their decision: “NBC deserves an enormous amount of credit for reaffirming what their company stands for and, as importantly, what it does not stand for. We know that this was not an easy choice for NBC and its parent company, Comcast, nor was it easy for Univision, and they will have NCLR’s full support going forward. We applaud those in both companies who worked so diligently behind the scenes to address this issue and ultimately make this difficult decision. It was the right thing to do,” stated NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

An NPR story linked the backlash from Trump’s comments to the growing influence of the Latino population, especially as consumers. Latinos are one of fastest growing groups of consumers, with their collective purchasing power expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year, up 50% from 2010. Further, the average age of the Hispanic population is 27 and they are just entering their prime buying years. The media is also vying for the Latino audience. Candidates and companies alike can no longer risk insulting or alienating our community without paying an economic price.

Delaware passes law allowing undocumented immigrants driving permits: A Washington Post article reports this week that Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a bill to give driving privilege cards to undocumented immigrants who have ties to the state. The state will begin issuing the cards in six months.

 While Delaware is implementing helpful, welcoming policies for undocumented immigrants, other states are still holding up federal deferred action programs that would provide social and economic benefits nationwide. This week the three-judge panel in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was chosen to hear arguments on July 10th regarding the Texas lawsuit stopping expanded DACA and DAPA. Many remain confident that the judicial system will eventually side with the Obama Administration. In a New York Times op-ed, Matt Barreto writes: “Just as with same-sex marriage and Obamacare, the issue of immigration is before the federal courts, and if past decisions are any indication, it is very likely that 12 months from now the Supreme Court will continue to validate the progressive movement by affirming Obama’s immigration orders as constitutional and in line with U.S. public opinion.” The Justice Department hasn’t ruled out taking the case to the Supreme Court, but they are currently allowing the case to work its way through the Fifth Circuit.

Education + Health: Keys to Empowering the Latino Community

Highlights from the #SaludTues Tweetchat on 2/17/15, hosted by @SaludToday
(cross-posted from @SaludToday)

We the People: Why Congress Must Pass a Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Act

Guest blog post by Sharita Gruberg, Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress

Photo: JBrazito

Photo: JBrazito

As we celebrate our victories on marriage equality, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue to face discrimination in their daily lives that prevent them from being full participants in society.  LGBT people are excluded from exercising basic rights in the majority of states. In 29 states, it is still legal to fire, refuse housing, or deny service to people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  For example, in 11 states, a same-sex couple can legally marry, but they can legally be fired from their jobs for doing so.

This week, the Center for American Progress released a groundbreaking report calling on Congress to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, public accommodations, housing, credit, and federal funding. Since these basic areas of life are so closely interconnected, a comprehensive approach to addressing discrimination against LGBT people is necessary. The report examines how LGBT people are excluded from explicit protections against discrimination in these core areas of life and the impact of this exclusion, such as disproportionate rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.  A survey found discrimination in employment resulted in 1 in 4 of all transgender respondents and 30 percent of Latino transgender respondents being fired from a job. Workplace discrimination is not limited to being fired from a job, 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers reporting discrimination or harassment on the job. LGBT people face discrimination in other areas of life as well, with 1 in 4 same sex couples experiencing discrimination when trying to buy a home and 1 in 5 transgender people being denied equal treatment in hotels and restaurants.

As the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, NCLR believes all people deserve equal treatment. When it comes to LGBT equality, NCLR sees it as one part of the larger fight for civil rights and has said that “[e]nsuring fairness and equality while protecting people from discrimination is at the heart of NCLR’s mission.” No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. A report by the Human Rights Campaign and League of United Latin American Citizens found that LGBT Latino youth are twice as likely as non-LGBT Latino youth to say they don’t “fit in.” As CAP’s report found, more than half of k-12 LGBT students feel unsafe at school. While acceptance starts at home, it is imperative that we ensure our young people grow up in a society that treats them equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

In Colorado, the Fight for Marriage Equality Also Includes Fighting for Immigration Reform

Guest blog post by Dave Montez, Executive Director, One Colorado and Julien Ross, Executive Director, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition

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An October immigration reform rally also included LGBT allies.

If the past few months have shown us anything, it’s that advocates for equality have the momentum on their side in every corner of the country. And with groups like One Colorado and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition working day in and day out to ensure all of our families have the dignity and protections they need, the fight to secure the freedom to marry and comprehensive immigration reform is in full swing.

Most recently, state LGBT advocacy group One Colorado has been watching the two marriage equality cases in Utah and Oklahoma that are making their way to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Colorado. We’ve also traveled all across the state to hear from LGBT Coloradans and their allies. During every single visit of this statewide tour, the message was crystal clear: thousands of families across Colorado are counting on us to make certain we are victorious in our efforts.

We know there are multiple paths available to overturn our state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality, which could happen either through the courts or by a vote of the people. Our goal is to achieve the freedom to marry for all Coloradans as quickly as possible, but we also want to make sure that our victory endures.

Each pathway requires different strategies. However, there is one element they all share: the need for a robust public education campaign that reaches Coloradans in their own communities. Victories in other states have proven that our families’ stories of love and commitment connect with people in a powerful way. We also know that in the Latino community, we’ve been taught to treat others the way we want to be treated, and we don’t turn our backs on family.

Undocumented and Unafraid

Undocumented queer youth outside the Supreme Court last year.

In many ways, Latino families are at the center of this important discussion. According to a 2012 report co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and Center for American Progress, Latino gay and lesbian couples are more likely to be raising children than white gay and lesbian couples. For these families who are trying to take care of each other, there is no question that marriage is a Latino issue.

Importantly, recent studies and polls have shown strong Latino support for marriage equality, including a national survey in 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute, which found that a majority – 55 percent – of Hispanics favor allowing gay and lesbian Americans to marry.

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NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía calls for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court.

This growth in support for LGBT people and issues is coming not just from Latino families, but also from community leaders and national organizations like the National Council of La Raza and LULAC – both of which have come out in strong support for the freedom to marry.

There’s also no doubt that media coverage of our families and our stories has made a big difference. We know that media in English and Spanish can provide an important way to reach people, and that’s why here in Colorado, we will continue to lift up these stories and demonstrate why marriage matters to all of our families – gay and straight alike.

Immigration FamiliesThe freedom to marry is not the only issue that impacts Latino families. As part of our work, we must commit ourselves to fighting for every member of our community. Now is the time to push harder than ever to ensure that the millions of immigrants in our country, including an estimated 267,000 undocumented individuals who identify as LGBT, are fully integrated into our society – so that they can see their identities as a blessing and an opportunity for personal and community growth. Their experiences are a testament to the fact that immigration is an LGBT issue, and their stories must be told.

These efforts to educate the public and make the case for opportunity need to happen now. Because when the freedom to marry and comprehensive immigration reform are a reality, we need to have built as much support as possible for our families. Creating that climate across our state is critical to winning and sustaining our victories. A welcoming environment is also an important factor in helping our families integrate into their communities.

Our organizations are as committed as ever to ensuring that all families in Colorado are treated with dignity and respect. One way or another, we know that full equality is coming to Colorado; it’s not a question of “if,” only a matter of when and how.

NCLR Weighs In on Supreme Court Challenges to Overturn DOMA and Proposition 8

Photo: JBrazito

Photo: JBrazito

The Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of the government’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 later this month. The cases being heard are United States v. Windsor (DOMA) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8).  In advance of those oral arguments, today NCLR joined a sea of concerned citizens and organizations in filing friend-of-the-court, or amicus, briefs urging the Court to overturn both DOMA and Proposition 8.

We’re especially proud to be joining our sister organizations, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), as co-signatories to the amicus briefs.  We’ve long known that Latinos support marriage equality for all, but recent polling of our community confirms it.  The Windsor case in particular has many implications for Latinos, not the least being the issue of binational couples who are too often torn apart because of DOMA and our broken immigration system.  The time has come for the Supreme Court to put an end to this debate and compel the federal government to recognize all legal marriages, not just those it chooses to.

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