This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending September 18


Week Ending September 18

This week in immigration reform: NCLR President & CEO reflects on Donald Trump’s rhetoric; Highlighting Citizenship Day; and NCLR Vice President participates in panel on immigration reform.

NCLR kept the community informed with staff quoted in The Washington Post.

NCLR President Reflects on Donald Trump’s Effect on Republican Presidentials Hopes: This week saw the unfolding of the three-hour marathon that was the second GOP Presidential debate. Ahead of the event, NCLR President & CEO Janet Murguía wrote about the impact Donald Trump has had on the now-16 candidate field, calling his effect on the Latino vote a “gaping wound” for the Republican Party. “Trump has succeeded—aided and abetted by the rest of the Republican field—in making the immigration debate as toxic and as far from real solutions as it has ever been,” Murguía writes. Polling numbers seem to reflect Hispanic reactions to this toxicity, as a recent MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll shows only 22% of Latino voters voting for Trump in the upcoming election. “In the meantime,” Murguía concludes, “Latinos are responding against this demonization in the most American of ways: immigrants who are eligible are becoming citizens, and those who are citizens are registering to vote.”


Citizenship Day Arrives to Full Fanfare from NCLR: In case you missed it, our nation recognized Citizenship Day on Thursday, celebrating those among us who have recently become U.S. citizens. Across the country, organizations, including NCLR affiliates, held citizenship workshops, classes, and phone drives to help lawful permanent residents work to attain U.S. citizenship. At NCLR’s Annual Conference this past summer, Board Chair Renata Soto spoke on what it means to her to be an American: “It’s a disposition, an attitude, a tenet, a duty to fight for and build a community where everyone belongs and everyone can become fully all who they are, empezando con nuestra propia comunidad.” NCLR has released blog posts, graphics, and publications regarding this momentous day, a handful of which are available below.

NCLR Senior Cabinet Advisor Participates in Panel on Immigration Reform: This past Tuesday, NCLR Senior Cabinet Advisor Charles Kamasaki participated in an event titled, “Immigration Reform and Administrative Relief: 2014 and Beyond,” hosted by the Center for Migration Studies. The event, following up a report detailing the resources required to coordinate a successful large-scale legalization program, discussed the report’s key findings and next steps in order to achieve full implementation following President Obama’s executive actions in November 2014.

The report found that this increase stretches thin the resources and infrastructure established by immigrant-serving organizations. Further analysis indicates that there is a potential nonprofit sector shortfall of about $83 million for effective services, given the projected needs of expanded DACA and DAPA participants. Despite these costs, the benefits of these executive actions still make the programs worth it, to both the DACA/DAPA population as well as the American population in general.

Trumpification of the Republican Party Reaches Turning Point

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gage Skidmore

It has been a dreadful week on the issue of immigration. On Monday, Donald Trump released his long-awaited immigration “plan” which put his bigotry and hateful rhetoric into policy. His agenda of mass deportation, a massive wall, and the end of birthright citizenship hits many of the hallmarks of bad policy-making: completely impractical, prohibitively expensive, widely unpopular, doomed to fail, and deeply inconsistent with our values as a nation.

Yet once again—with a few exceptions, like Marco Rubio—the other Republican presidential candidates rushed to embrace Trump’s latest salvo: the proposed evisceration of the 14th amendment. Even Jeb Bush, who does not support ending birthright citizenship, echoed Trump’s use of the heinous and despicable term, “anchor babies.” Calling millions of U.S. citizens a term universally viewed as offensive by the Latino community does not bode well for Republican electoral prospects.

And the most disturbing incident of the week was the horrific beating of a Latino homeless man in Boston, who was innocently sleeping near a train station. The two brothers charged in the crime told police that their attack was motivated by their agreement with Donald Trump that “illegals have to go.”

Much of the responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of not only Trump, but of a Republican Party whose leadership has so far refused to publicly and unequivocally denounce Trump and his extreme rhetoric. Words have consequences, and hateful words lead to hateful actions. No one—especially not two intoxicated bullies—can tell a person’s immigration status by looking at them. This senseless attack was predicated on how this person looked. In other words, a summer of disparagement and demonization has put a target squarely on the backs of all 55 million Hispanics in this country.

When the election rolls around next November, there is no question in my mind that we will look back at this week as a turning point in the election. It will be known as the week when Trump’s dominance of both the campaign and the direction of the Republican Party on the immigration issue turned a dark and dangerous turn. It will be remembered as the week that Republicans not only started to lose the Latino vote, but also the election.

Republicans can only turn this around if the Party finds both its courage and its voice to say “enough is enough” to the demagoguery and bigotry of Trump and his ilk, and to the unconscionable demonization of an entire community that has now put millions of people in harm’s way. If not, Trump will succeed in getting his massive wall. It won’t be a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but a permanent wall between the Republican Party and Latino voters.

Mr. Boehner: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

By Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Director, Civic Engagement and Immigration, NCLR

Here we go again.  The House leadership pays lip service to the need for immigration reform and then rejects taking even one step in that direction.  This is not the first time that this has happened, but we don’t usually see it happen all on the same day!  This week, Speaker of the House John Boehner had his breakfast interrupted by reality—two young people whose lives have actually been torn asunder by a broken immigration system asked him when things will change.  Mr. Boehner reiterated that he wants to see reform pass, but that it wasn’t easy.  Fair enough.  Yet just a few hours later he proclaimed that the House of Representatives “will never go to conference on the Senate bill.”  Once again, the House leadership has given people a sliver of hope and then applied the brakes.

Watch the video of the exchange with the students below:

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