Welcome to our Blog. Please check back often for insights and commentary on breaking immigration news and policies. We encourage you to get involved and take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the conversation about what is happening and what should be happening. Please share your ideas and experiences. Hopefully we learn from each other and get closer to our goals as a result.
On Tuesday, the Associate Press announced that the term “illegal immigrants” will no longer be used by its thousands of reports. In an interview with TIME – which also discourages the use of this term – , the AP standards editor, Tom Kent, noted, “we try to be fair to people’s feelings, but we’re not responding to one political current or another.”
This announcement seems to have created a buzz as reporters search for an alternative. The term “undocumented immigrant” is most commonly used; however, Kent argues that this term is too broad and imprecise, “after all, an ‘undocumented’ immigrant could have all sorts of documents, like a driver’s license or a birth certificate from their home country.”
When presented with another alternative, “out-of-status,” Kent argues that this term is a no-go as well – “everybody has some status.” This leaves fewer alternatives. However, for immigration activists who are anti-i-word, the fact that the AP has set this new requirement to avoid the term “illegal” still remains an event to celebrate. Share your thoughts about this action by writing to us!
Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been actively on the minds and tongues of politicians for several months now. President Obama can be added to that list as of today – the President partook in the naturalization ceremony of twenty-eight individuals today, nothing that is out of the ordinary. However, in today’s ceremony, President Obama read out a list of the countries from which the newly-naturalized U.S. citizens emigrated from. This proved to be a powerful and moving segue to his short speech thereafter:Immigration makes us stronger; it keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it makes us prosperous. It’s part of what makes this dynamic country. We need to do a better job welcoming them. We’ve known for years that our immigration system is broken … After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all.
Many talks have already taken place, namely by the bipartisan Gang of Eight; however, it is important that the President has made a public demand to Congress to “finish the job”. The bill that the Gang of Eight has devised might serve as a guiding light for a compromised between Congress and the White House. The bill will potentially answer the questions of a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals, a guest-worker program, and an increase in STEM visas. What precisely is covered in the bill will only be known after the Gang of Eight makes public its bill after Spring Break. Spring Break ends on April 8th, which is right around the bend. Until then, we must play the waiting game.
When two groups join forces in the fight for justice, the outcome is expected to be one of epic proportions – to the effect of experiencing a Hans Zimmer score, even. When lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights’ advocates, then, join forces with immigrants’ rights advocates, momentum for both fights is energized.
Such has been the case recently – as immigration and same-sex marriage have been issues in the foreground of politics, it only makes sense that the two groups would overlap at some point. Though there are no official statistics, it can easily be assumed that there is a relatively large number of undocumented immigrants who are members of the LGBT community. Additionally, it must also be noted that a large portion of the LGBT community are children or grandchildren of immigrants.
Gay rights advocacy groups are adamant to maintain cohesiveness, ensuring that no member is left behind. Similarly, immigrants’ rights groups support individuals from all walks of life. This ideology is one of the reasons that gay-rights groups are actively becoming involved in immigrants-rights movements, and in many case, vice versa. In the elections in November, it was calculated that there was overwhelming and unprecedented support from the LGBT community for immigrants’ rights and vice versa – while the LGBT community showed support for undocumented immigrants being treated no differently from other students in regard to paying equal tuition, the immigrant community showed support for LGBT issues such as same-sex marriage.
To segue off of same-sex marriage, it must be noted that there are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 same-sex couples who would benefit from not only same-sex marriage, but also immigration reform – currently, if one half of the same-sex couple is an American citizen and the other is foreign-born, the former may not sponsor the latter, as would be the case for straight couples. This discrepancy is unsettling to advocates of both groups.
With these two groups joining forces, movement towards equality for both parties is expected. President Obama has proposed a plan that would overhaul our nation’s broken immigration system, and part of this proposal addresses immigration benefits for same-sex couples. While this proposal might be supported by certain left-wing individuals, what the right has to say remains uncertain. Therefore, while the success of the President’s proposal remains to be seen and can only be told by time, one must remain hopeful as the two groups continue to unite and grow in the struggle for equality.
Immigration reform has been in the spotlight since the Presidential election; a lot has been said over these few months by both supporters and opponents of reform but little has been done. The “Gang of Eight” emerged as, what seems to be, the last ray of hope for any momentum on immigration reform. The eight senators who compose this group are: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
This bipartisan group of senators have joined forces so our nation’s broken immigration system can finally be fixed – together, they have devised a plan for overhaul. This legislation focuses on improving border security and a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals. Additionally, if implemented, this plan would improve legal immigration into the country and would also make it difficult for employers to conduct unethical and illegal business in regard to foreign employees.
It has been noted by some members of the Gang of Eight that while there is a consensus amongst them about border security and pathway to citizenship, devising a plan to efficiently address the problems legal immigration and future workers has been difficult. The Gang of Eight has imposed a deadline for the end of March/ beginning of April to release their legislation, however. Once the legislation has been released, the Judiciary Committee will vote on it, followed by full Senate’s vote, and then, the House vote.
How successful each round of voting will be is uncertain and it should be noted that regardless of how well-crafted the Gang of Eight’s legislation is, this could fail at any point. One must remain hopeful, however, that each party involved will realize how essential it is to finally fix our immigration system.
Comprehensive immigration reform is multifold; President Obama has noted this concept several times and reiterated it during his State of the Union address. The President projects that immigration reform will involve some sort of path to citizenship for those 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country as well as increasing border control and immigration law enforcement.
While a recent report from the Migration Policy Institute has shown that in the last fiscal year, the administration has spent more money on immigration enforcement than on the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Secret Service combined, undocumented immigration is still in existence. This may be because while immigration enforcement has such final backing, it does not seem to be at its utmost efficiency.
Undocumented immigration harms not only the economy, but also the individuals partaking in it. They are forced to live their lives in metaphorical dark alleyways and have the constant fear of an eventual deportation. Thusly, a clear path to citizenship will not only benefit the economy but also the millions of individuals who are undocumented.
That being noted, what the President claims to be two major aspects of comprehensive immigration reform, what are the other aspects involved? Share your thoughts by writing to us.
When it comes to high-tech visas, it can be noted without a doubt that these visas are the least controversial and most widely accepted between the two parties in terms of comprehensive immigration reform. It is also a point of agreement between the two parties that more visas in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields – shortened to the STEM fields – are necessary. What the two parties do not agree on, however, is the manner in which these STEM visas are increased.
Late last year, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that would have granted 55,000 new STEM visas. However, this effort was opposed by Democrats who opposed the fact that these new visas were eliminated from the diversity green card lottery system, which grants visas to people from underrepresented countries in our nation’s immigration system. As a result, the bill did not advance in the Senate.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) recently said that one of the primary reasons to pass immigration reform is to keep high tech jobs in the country. Granting more STEM visas ensures that the talent that our higher education institutes invests time and resources in stay in the country, rather than what has been occurring as of late where graduates of higher education institutes are unable to legally stay in the country and have to resort to emigrating to competing countries where they are much more able to secure gainful employment and residency.
While Senator Rubio’s push for immigration reform has such a heavy focus on STEM visas, it does not seem as though his plans for reformation are as comprehensive as they ought to or could be. Share your thoughts about Senator Rubio’s view by writing to us!
Last week, we wrote about the GOP inching towards CIR by proposing a bill that would grant visas to foreigners who graduate from American universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM]. The Republican STEM bill however, would eliminate the diversity visa lottery which grants green cards to nationals from underrepresented countries. As a result, Senate Democrats blocked the Republicans from bringing up the STEM bill last Tuesday.
This bill would have provided approximately 55,000 visas to eligible candidates. While Democrats are not discounting the beneficial outcome of providing visas to these candidates, they are disgruntled by the fact that, under this Republican bill, new visas would not be created. Instead, the creation of the STEM visas would be a result of removing the diversity visa lottery program.
The Republican STEM bill, however, did attempt to concede to the concern posed by many Democrats in regard to spouses and minor children. The bill included a provision that would allow these family members to live in the United States while they waited for their own green card applications to be processed. While one might assume that this concession to Democrats would appease them, Democrats were disconcerted by the fact that these family members would not be allowed to legally find employment during their wait.
The GOP’s first attempt at achieving some sort of immigration reform has been unsuccessful. Hopefully this loss will not be reason to stop trying, however. Share your thoughts about this attempt and the response from Democrats with us.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a mid-month report on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Process. As of December 13, 2012, there have been a total of 367,903 applications received by USCIS. Of these submissions, 355,889 have been accepted for review. There have been 336,464 biometrics scheduled thus far and there are currently 157,151 cases under review. To date, USCIS reports that 102,965 applications have been approved.
Furthermore, the agency reports to have received the most number of applications from individuals who are of Mexican origin, with 258,708 applications received thus far. The second greatest number of applications received to-date is of individuals of Salvadorian origin, and the third, of Honduran origin.
Of the applications that have been received as of December 13, 2012, the top three states of residences of applicants are California, Texas, and New York. Of the 157,151 cases under review, and the 355,889 applications accepted for review, how many more will be approved by the end of the year remains unknown. Share your thoughts about these updated DACA process statistics with us, we would love to hear from you!
The Department of Homeland Security recently published a rule that is said to decrease the amount of time that citizens of the United States will spend separated from their relatives who are seeking lawful residency status. This rule has been published in the Federal Register and will essentially create a process that will allow individuals to apply for a “provisional unlawful presence waiver” prior to leaving the country in order to attend an immigrant visa interview in their home country. Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that this rule will allow for a smoother process to gain lawful residency by “reducing the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa.” Currently, those relatives of citizens who are ineligible to immediately adjust their status within the country must leave the states and obtain the visa in their home country. This process is tedious and takes a relatively long period of time, thus increasing the time the family members spend apart from one another. This new and final rule will be effective as of March 4 and additional information can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Share your thoughts about this new rule by writing to us!
After losing the election, many members of the Republican party have made it clear that they must now enter into a comprehensive immigration reform [CIR] overhaul in an attempt to make up for the lack of support from Latino voters. Already, the GOP has taken steps towards making immigration reform a top priority – Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met earlier this month in order to devise a bipartisan plan, House Speaker John Boehner shifted his hard-line views on immigration and announced that immigration reform is “long overdue,” and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) remains an advocate of CIR. Additionally, several Republican strategists have announced the forming of a super-PAC in order to push for CIR and gain more Latino supporters. This super-PAC was proposed by Carlos Gutierrez, who served as the Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, and Charlie Spies, a lawyer based in Washington. Going by the title Republicans for Immigration Reform, this super-PAC certainly has plenty of potential for increased support, especially with President Obama’s second term set to begin in the new year.
The most recent development on the GOP front in regard to CIR is planned to take place this week as House Republicans are planning on voting on STEM legislation this week. An acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the STEM Jobs Act proposes to offer visas to post-bachelor foreign graduates of American universities who obtain degrees in STEM fields. The House voted on a similar STEM bill in September, however, due to opposing views between the two parties, the bill was defeated. In order to make this bill slightly more appealing than the one defeated in September, Republicans have created an additional provision which would allow spouses and minor children of green card holders to enter the the United States while they await their own green cards to be granted. This is most certainly a step forward for the GOP and if the bill is passed in the House, it will be a tremendous success for the party, who has, until recently, had a relatively strict and hard-line ideology on immigration. While we wait to see the extent of President Obama’s prioritization of CIR during his second term, the Republican party’s transformed stance on immigration is certainly reason to be optimistic and hopeful. Keep tuned to receive the most recent developments on CIR, but while we wait, share your thoughts with us!