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PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Angela Sanbrano (323) 371-7305 ~ Red Mx
Armando Vázquez-Ramos (562) 430-5541~ California-México Studies Center
Nativo Lopez (714) 423-4800 – Hermandad Mexicana
LAUSD BOARD OF EDUCATION UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES RESOLUTION TO CALL ON OBAMA TO SUSPEND DEPORTATIONS
Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a board resolution to call on President Barack Obama to initiate “federal administrative action to suspend any further deportations of unauthorized individuals with no serious criminal history to ensure that families are kept together.”
Board Member Bennett Kayser who introduced the resolution declared, “We have a broken immigration system that is harming families and children in this school district. On their behalf, I authored this motion calling on President Obama to immediately cease the deportations that are separating parents from their children.”
Los Angeles City Councilmember, Gil Cedillo, appeared before the board to encourage the members to follow the example of the City of Angeles and recognize that immigration reform legislation this year was not in the cards and therefore “there is no strategic reason to continue deportations or removal of individuals who would otherwise qualify for a legalization program.” He reminded them to “put children first and to protect their interest and the integrity of their families.”
The LAUSD is the second largest school district in the U.S. with 73 percent Mexican and Latino enrollment, and “has witnessed the largest displacement of children from its classrooms as a result of the federal practices and policies of detention and removal,” according to Professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos from the Protect Our Families-Save the Children Campaign, the group that initiated resolutions in multiple jurisdictions beginning with the Los Angeles City Council on December 18, 2013.
Angela Sanbrano, representing CARECEN, the oldest community organization of Central Americans in the U.S., and the Protect Our Families Campaign, pointed out that President Obama’s administration had already deported 2 million persons, and emphasized that “that was 2 million too many.”
“We are now living in the New Repatriation Era under the Obama administration similar to what occurred under the 1930s’ Repatriation Act wherein 365,000 Mexicans and their American-born children were removed from the U.S. soil,” presented Nativo Lopez of Hermandad Mexicana. He concluded that, “More American Citizen minors of Mexican heritage have been de facto removed from their homeland under Obama then all of the deportees of the 1930s.”
Board Member Monica Garcia moved to approve the resolution and was seconded by board member Steve Zimmer. The motion was unanimously approved by the board. Garcia also requested that Superintendent John Deasy make the resolution a teaching moment in the classrooms throughout the district schools.
LAUSD Keeping Families Together Resolution by Board Member Kayser
Approved April 8, 2014 (Moved by Garcia, seconded by Zimmer)
Whereas, The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest public school district in the nation with over 650,000 students;
Whereas, According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2011, there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States;
Whereas, California is home to approximately 10.3 million immigrants of which approximately 2.6 million are unauthorized to live in the U.S.;
Whereas, Each year since 2009, record levels of deportations have occurred, averaging nearly 400,00 year;
Whereas, As immigration continues to be at the center of national debate, President Obama and Congress must implement a more humanitarian immigration policy that keeps families together;
Whereas, Separation of children from their parents, irrespective of immigration status, always results in severe consequences for young children who are left with no parental guidance or care and a highly unstable financial situation;
Whereas, it is necessary to expand the protections of our future citizens that were established by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and grant them to the family and neighbors and all those who have made their lives here but are yet fully recognized;
Whereas, the LAUSD Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution in support of DACA eligible students allowing them to timely receive their transcripts so they may obtain work status in California;
Whereas, Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, District 1, presented a resolution to the Los Angeles City Council supporting the federal administrative action to suspend any further deportations of unauthorized individuals with no serious criminal history;
Whereas, The California Legislature has affirmed the resolution presented and passed at the Los Angeles City Council; now therefore be itResolved, the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education joins Councilmember Gil Cedillo, the Los Angeles City, Council, the California Legislature, and the millions of supporters of this action to ensure that families are kept together.
By REID J. EPSTEIN | POLITICO ~ March 6, 2014
President Barack Obama called himself the “champion-in-chief” of comprehensive immigration reform Thursday but said once again that there’s nothing he can do stem the flow of deportations.
Speaking at a health care town hall program sponsored by Telemundo, Univision and La Opinion-impreMedia, Obama passed the buck on deportations to Congress, which he said is responsible for funding government positions responsible for deportations.
“I am the champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama said. “What I’ve said in the past remains true: Until Congress passes a new law I am constrained in what I can do.”
Obama said the 2012 executive action order that allowed so-called Dreamers to remain in the country with a path to legalization was the most he could do on his own.
“That already stretched my administrative capacity very far,” Obama said. “At a certain point, the reason that the deportations are taking place is Congress said you have to enforce these laws.”
Obama, whose administration has made dozens of changes to the health care rules – including on Wednesday allowing people to keep pre-existing subpart insurance plans through 2017, said he does not have sufficient authority to halt deportations.
Pressure on Obama to halt deportations has risen sharply this week. The National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization, on Tuesday labeled Obama the “deporter-in-chief.” Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) this week also called for Obama to act unilaterally on deportations.
“I cannot ignore those laws anymore than I can ignore any of the other laws on the books,” Obama said.
Hosts Jose Diaz-Balart and Enrique Acevedo pressed Obama on concerns that “mixed status” families have that U.S. citizens who provide personal information required to enroll in Obamacare would lead to the deportation of family members who are undocumented.
“None of the information that is provided in order for you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services,” Obama said.
Obama held the town hall event as part of the White House effort to enroll minorities in Obamacare before the March 31 deadline to acquire health insurance for 2014.
Throughout the event, he was faced with skepticism about how much the Latino community can trust his administration on health care when so many are being deported.
“I think the community understands that I’ve got their back and I’m fighting for them,” Obama said. “The main point that I have for everybody watching right now is you don’t punish me for not signing up for health care, you’re punishing yourself or your family.”
Obama, as he often does, blasted Republicans for opposing the health care law without offering any “serious” alternative. But then in the next breath he said all the good health care ideas are already embedded in Obamacare.
“There’s a reason why [Republicans] have never put forward a serious alternative,” Obama said. “The reason is because we have taken the best ideas, conservative ideas and liberal ideas, we’ve put them together and we’re now implementing them.”
And the president reiterated his pitch that health insurance will be subsidized for those who can’t afford it and won’t be a burden for any family.“The average cost could be much lower than people expect, in many circumstance you may end up paying $100 or less a month to have really good health insurance — for less than it costs you for your cell phone bill or your cable bill,” he added.
By: Reid J. Epstein and Seung Min Kim, March 6, 2014
The White House is finding itself increasingly on defense over deportations of undocumented immigrants, as key Democrats and a top immigration reform group have gone public this week with their desire for President Barack Obama to act.
National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía called Obama the “deporter-in-chief” in a major speech Tuesday, leading to angry phone calls from senior White House officials — including adviser Valerie Jarrett — according to three people familiar with the calls.
Jarrett told Murguía that Obama was “very disappointed” with the statement, the sources said.
Neither Murguía nor the White House would characterize the specifics of the calls or which officials called her, but Murguía said it was clear Obama officials were unhappy with her actions.
“It’s fair to say I heard from the White House and they were disappointed,” Murguía said in an interview Thursday.
The White House declined to comment on the calls.
Immigration reform advocates have raised pressure on Obama to use his executive authority to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants, as it becomes more and more unlikely the House will pass a bill creating a pathway to citizenship this year. But the White House says it’s done all it can and only comprehensive legislation will address the issue.
Asked about the “deporter-in-chief” line during a health care town hall session with Spanish-language television reporters, Obama defended himself, saying he has pushed for comprehensive immigration reform since his first presidential campaign.
“I am the champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama said. “But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do.”
The White House has been touchy about criticism over deportations, and immigration activists who work with it have complained previously about receiving angry phone calls after speaking publicly. But NCLR is no normal ally – the group is also working closely with Obama on health care enrollment, enthusiastically backs the president’s for a minimum wage increase and also supports the White House budget proposal.
“We see ourselves still as key allies to this White House,” Murguía said.
Before this week, the National Council of La Raza had not publicly pressed Obama publicly on deportations, having adopting the White House line of blaming House Republicans for not passing a bill. But Murguía’s speech has opened a floodgate of similar comments from Democrats.
Three of four Democratic members of the Gang of Eight that wrote the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill called this week on Obama to act on deportations.
“The current deportation apparatus is an outrage, and it’s a tragedy,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Tuesday.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that he has been urging Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other administration officials to reduce the number of deportations of immigrants who are in the country illegally.
And Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday told POLITICO that if there is no movement in the House on immigration by September, Obama should stop deporting people in October – just before the midterm elections.
Also on Thursday Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters during a trip to Mexico that Obama should cut the rate of deportations, according to The Associated Press.
Immigration groups that have been demanding Obama act to stop deportations for months blasted Obama for characterizing himself as the “champion-in-chief” of reform.
“His statement is simply not true,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “The president has not done nearly enough to exercise discretion using existing laws. To the contrary, his exercise of discretion has been inadequate and counterproductive.”
The White House also worries that while taking executive action on deportations would elate Democrats and immigration advocates, Obama risks infuriating congressional Republicans by making such a unilateral move. House Republicans have cited a distrust of the president as a chief reason why they are holding off on moving immigration bills on the floor, and even pro-reform GOP lawmakers have warned against such a move.
Murguía said Obama’s remarks pressing Congress to pass a reform bill are helpful, but added that he needs to act on his own to stop the deportations.“For us, we want to thank the president for reaffirming his strong commitment to comprehensive immigration reform,” she said. “We know that the president has our community’s back on comprehensive immigration reform. We just need him to have our back on unnecessary deportations too.”
By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (March 6, 2014)
President Barack Obama is being tagged with a new label - deporter in chief - that is coming from a usual Latino ally and his own party.
Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, one of the pre-eminent Latino organizations, called Obama "deporter in chief" in a speech at the organization's gala Tuesday.
The President clearly heard what was said. On Thursday, at a town hall on Latino health care enrollment, Obama said "I am the champion in chief of comprehensive immigration reform," when asked a question about enrollment information and immigration status. He added he had to enforce the laws passed by Congress.
Murguia's statement was intended to deride Obama for at or near 2 million people deported under his watch and to pressure him to use presidential powers to reduce deportations. It also served as a slam on House Republican claims that they can't go forward with immigration reform legislation because they don't trust the president to enforce U.S. law.
"Seriously? Failing to enforce our laws? For us, this president has been the deporter in chief," Murguía said in her gala speech.
The deporter-in-chief term had been used previously against Obama by immigration groups that are more left than NCLR. Pablo Alvarado, president of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, used the term in a news release after Obama spoke at NCLR's 2011 annual conference. But NCLR's criticism adds a whole new level of pressure to the president and members of Congress, some of whom have themselves begun asking Obama to reduce deportations.
"The community has spoken. These big organizations have aligned themselves with the community. It's now an opportunity for one of two actors, either the president or the House to take action," said Gabby Pacheco, an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. illegally, but whose deportation was temporarily waived through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, program.
Pacheco said NCLR's tougher stand gives the president cover to move forward on immigration. NCLR is an umbrella group for hundreds of organizations that provide health, housing, financial, immigration and other services to the Latino community.
A similar pattern occurred before the Obama administration initiated the DACA program, Pacheco said.
"As soon as the senators gave their backing and gave their okay, that's when we were able to see a chance with the DACA program," said Pacheco, executive director of the Bridge Project, an immigration reform group.
Although he didn't use the deporter-in-chief label, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also called for action on deportations at Tuesday's gala. "I urge the president to take action today and halt needless deportations that are splitting our families and communities," Menendez said. He urged the president to end deportations of relatives of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and young people who arrived illegally in the country with their parents.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also called for a reduction in deportations, Politico reported. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has asked said deportations should be limited to people who have committed felonies and other crimes and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he hoped the president would take "do what he can to take a look at deportations."
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., hung the moniker on Obama from the House floor where he compared the president's immigration enforcement record to his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He gave Obama five gold stars while deriding Republicans mistrust claims. "Five stars _ the highest rank we give out, and it goes to the Deporter in Chief President Barack Obama," Gutierrez said.
Democratic political strategist Maria Cardona said Murguía's use of deporter in chief for Obama was more of a blast on Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner.
"She was putting the onus on the president the way NCLR always has," Cardona said. "But the deporter in chief comment came from her taking Boehner to task for his lame excuse and not moving on immigration."
Luis Miranda, former White House spokesman for Latino media and a political strategist, said no one would consider Murguía's comments an attack on the president. He said the missive was "as much a call to action as anything else."
As they seek votes from Hispanics, Republicans have often spoken of broken promises by the president, pointing to health care and the economy. Some will also remind Latinos that Obama promised to get immigration reform done.
But two Republican Latinos declined to cheer Murguía in pasting the label on Obama. When asked about the label, New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez, the first Hispanic female elected governor, said "we have to respect the presidency and he is the president of the United States ... that person deserves the respect of the leader of a free country." She had not seen Murguía's speech, she said Wednesday.
Former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, who was announcing a GOP initiative to recruit more diverse candidates, said the president "deserves all our respect." But he added that the Hispanic community had high hopes that Obama would provide leadership to move immigration reform. "We all know that did not occur," Fortuño said. "There is not need to resort to name calling."
However, the label may hurt Democrats with Latinos. Carlos Martinez, chair of the College Democrats of America Hispanic Caucus, tweeted about the impact of Murguia's comment.
Carlos Martinez @CarlosA_011 Mar 5
When the #NCLR calls Pres. Obama the "deporter-in-chief' and can’t really defend him against the statement ,,,#latinodemocrats #latism
from Austin, TX
In a telephone interview, he said the deporter in chief label was demeaning to the president and to NCLR, "to stoop to something like that." It is also divisive at a time when "we need a united front" on immigration, he said.
"That kind of label is not going to help our cause in the Latino community," said Martinez, who helped organize votes for Obama in 2102 on the University of Texas campus, where he is a junior.
"People like me we try to be loyal to our party and our party's head but we are also loyal to our communities, but in our communities, we are seeing people deported," Martinez said.
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also was cautious in insisting "no family should be torn apart." Asked to comment on Murguía's choice of word, Hinojosa, D-Texas, said the caucus "agrees that only Congress can deliver a permanent solution to this problem" of a broken immigration system.
Tom Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said he welcomed NCLR's support for severely reducing deportations. Though he seemed reluctant to endorse the deporter-in-chief label, he said it is "a choice of language I think certainly is accurate. He has deported more than anyone."
Meanwhile, the League of United Latin American Citizens' most important objective remains trying to get Congress to move on immigration reform. Shifting pressure to the president would mean they have given up on that, and they LULAC believes it’s still possible to get reform this year, said Brent Wilkes, LULAC's executive director.
Suzanne Gamboa is a senior writer for NBCNews.com. She started in January 2014. Gamboa is responsible for editing, reporting and writing stories about Latinos and how the population's expansion is reshaping the U.S. Gamboa joined NBCNews.com from NBC Latino, where she was political editor, responsible for writing, editing and assigning political coverage.
Prior to her role at NBC Latino, Gamboa had worked 13 years in the Washington, D.C. bureau of The Associated Press, where she covered politics, immigration and border and U.S.-Mexico issues, veterans, the Texas congressional delegation and most recently race and ethnicity, a beat she helped build. She also worked at the AP in Texas and at the Austin American-Statesman. Gamboa lives in Washington, D.C.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Immigration reform advocates push the president to take executive action, or risk losing Latino voters’ support…
By Kathleen Hennessey email@example.com & Brian Bennett, L.A. Times ~ March 7, 2014
WASHINGTON — With their hopes for broad legislation to overhaul immigration policies all but dead for the year, advocates have turned quickly to a new target: Pushing President Obama to take executive action to ease deportations of immigrants in the country illegally.
In a coordinated, aggressive and sharp-elbowed campaign, leaders who stood behind the White House not long ago as the president called immigration reform his top second-term priority are now attacking Obama for not doing enough on his own. Dismissing Obama’s insistence that his hands are tied by the law, advocates plan to pile on until he relents -- as he did once before in the run-up to an election.
This week, the president of the National Council of La Raza, the country’s largest Latino advocacy organization and one of the White House’s most loyal allies, blasted Obama as the “deporter in chief.”
In remarks on the House floor, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Obama’s fellow Illinois Democrat, pointed to portraits of Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama and compared deportations under each. “President Obama has detained more immigrants in jails, prisons and detention facilities than any other president,” Gutierrez said.
The charge is not new; Obama has long faced criticism for presiding over a record number of deportations, roughly 2 million to date. Still, the strategy sends a mixed message to a key Democratic constituency before the midterm election. Democrats hoped to see immigration advocates assail Republicans who held up the overhaul bill.
Advocates suggest their goal is to play one off the other, arguing that Republicans in Congress may feel compelled to advance legislation if they think the president is on the verge of taking unilateral action.
“Republicans can either be participants in how this country advances more sensible immigration policies or they can simply sit on the sidelines while the president does it with his ‘phone and pen.’” Gutierrez said, picking up the president’s shorthand for his promise to wield his executive power to take action without Congress.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group, thinks it’s likely Obama will eventually act. “The administration is deporting people every day who the administration says should be given legal status and a path to citizenship, so the question is: If Republicans continue to stall, does the president have the authority to make things better?” Sharry said. “We think he will act even though he’s not talking like it now.”
For now, the White House is absorbing the criticism, careful not to return fire and potentially alienate Latinos voters, a constituency that cares about immigration reform and has been loyal to the president.
Obama on Thursday argued that he was not the “deporter in chief” but the “champion in chief” of the stalled comprehensive immigration reform effort. Speaking at a White House-sponsored town hall on Latinos and healthcare, the president argued he was constrained by statute in how he treats immigrants who are in the country illegally. “I cannot ignore those laws any more than I can ignore any of the other laws that are on the books,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to get comprehensive immigration reform done this year.”
Obama has repeated a version of the comment scores of times. But its little surprise the immigrant community isn’t taking it at face value. The president made very similar statements about the limits of his executive power in 2012 -- before he announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, which allowed young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children to apply for work permits and avoid being deported.
Advocates want Obama to expand that order to include other immigrants with strong ties to the U.S. and no criminal history.
That’s the sort of sweeping change the White House says is beyond its power. The legal basis for the president’s deferred-action order would erode if it were expanded, administration officials say privately. But they haven’t ruled out smaller changes.
Advocates want Obama to end the Secure Communities program, which checks the immigration status of people fingerprinted at state and local jails and, if need be, notifies immigration authorities. They want to cancel agreements that allow local law enforcement officials to coordinate with immigration agents. They want the administration’s policy on prosecutorial discretion revised so fewer immigrants with minor criminal offenses are deemed “high priority.” And they want to end Operation Streamline, which brings criminal charges against border-crossers.
The administration has defended these policies and has encouraged immigration agents to focus on deporting immigrants with criminal records before those with strong family ties who pose no threat to public safety. But vacancies at the top of both Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have made it difficult for the administration to change the culture at those agencies.
The renewed pressure from migrant advocacy groups and labor groups, such as the AFL-CIO, may provide the president with the cover to make changes in response to growing national support.
If the president does not act, he could put his party at risk in the election. There is some evidence that deportations have eroded Obama's standing with Latino voters in the past. In late 2011, before the president issued his deferred-action order, roughly 60% of Latinos surveyed by the Pew Hispanic Center said they disapproved of Obama’s deportation policy. Among that group just 36% approved of his job performance, compared with 46% of all Latinos at the time.
The possibility that Latinos, disappointed by the president and Congress over stalled immigration, may sit out the November elections poses a danger to Democrats.It also threatens Obama’s legacy with immigrants such as Pilar Molina, the owner of a tortilla company in Norristown, Pa., whose husband was arrested by immigration agents in January. “President Obama has the right to stop deportations; he just don’t want to do it,” Molina said. “When I first saw President Obama, tears came to my eyes because I said, ‘He’s the one who is going to bring us out of the shadows.’ Now when I see him, I see a future that is uncertain for myself and everyone else.”
President Barack Obama has lost the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization.
The National Council of La Raza is set to declare Obama “the deporter-in-chief” and demand that he take unilateral action to stop deportations.
NCLR, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization, had been the last significant progressive grass-roots immigration-reform organization publicly defending the White House immigration stance. NCLR President Janet Murguía will on Tuesday night demand Obama put a halt to his administration’s deportations.
“For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here,” Murguía said in an interview in advance of NCLR’s annual Capital Awards dinner, where she will deliver a speech lambasting Obama’s deportation policy. “We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief.”
(POLITICO's ful coverage of immigration)
By April, Obama will have overseen more than 2 million deportations, activists say, far more than any previous president. Obama has insisted — including when he was interrupted by a protester — that Congress has tied his hands and he cannot reduce the number of people being deported unilaterally. Latino groups are planning a series of mass demonstrations April 5 to protest the deportations and force lawmakers to choose between criticizing Obama or facing a populist wrath.
Murguía said NCLR has been privately urging the White House for months to do something about deportations — which will soon number 2 million since Obama took office. The group was also using its megaphone to blame Congress and not Obama for the deportations. Just three weeks ago, NCLR called for an end “to unnecessary deportations” and asked supporters to “ask Republican leadership to take a stand for family values and pass immigration reform.”
Now that focus is being directed at the White House.
“We respectfully disagree with the president on his ability to stop unnecessary deportations,” Murguía will say during a Tuesday night speech to NCLR’s annual Capital Awards dinner, according to prepared remarks. “He can stop tearing families apart. He can stop throwing communities and businesses into chaos. He can stop turning a blind eye to the harm being done. He does have the power to stop this. Failure to act will be a shameful legacy for his presidency.”
The White House has deep ties with NCLR. Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, was NCLR’s director of research and advocacy before joining the administration. But NCLR faced pressure from its members and from other grass-roots immigration organizations that have been agitating for Obama to halt deportations.
POLITICO reported last month that NCLR and the Center for American Progress were virtually alone among progressive immigration groups in defending the White House — criticism that stung Murguía.
“There have been different times when we’ve hit the president pretty hard,” she said. “But I know not everybody agrees with that.”
Tuesday’s push, Murguía said, will be part of what she described as a “three-pronged” strategy. NCLR will continue to press Congress and aims to register 250,000 new Latino voters ahead of the November midterm elections.
Murguía said people no longer believe Obama cannot act alone. “Their credibility is growing thinner and thinner by the day and people know that they did it before and I think we believe that they can do it again,” she said.
It’s not the first time NCLR has crossed Obama on deportations — though Murguía’s remarks do mark the first time NCLR’s leadership has done so in such a direct and public manner. Obama was heckled by a large portion of the crowd during a June 2011 speech to NCLR — protesters chanted “yes you can” at him to send a message that he should halt deportations.
A year later, during the midst of his reelection campaign, Obama announced deferred action for so-called Dreamers, allowing young people brought illegally to the United States as children a path to citizenship.
The White House has said it does not have authority to take a similar step again. Press secretary Jay Carney last week reiterated Obama’s position that only Congress can halt the deportations.
“The job of the executive branch is to carry out the laws that are passed by Congress,” Carney told reporters last week . “The administration has taken a series of steps to focus our resources and make immigration enforcement more strategic, including focusing on criminals and the use of deferred action for young immigrants known as Dreamers. The only permanent solution is a legislative one that would provide a broad-based path to earned citizenship, and that can only be achieved by Congress. It can’t be achieved by the president.”
Obama has gone mostly silent on immigration in recent months in an attempt to give House Republicans political space to push their own immigration reform bills. He hasn’t made a major immigration speech since November and devoted just 120 words to it during his State of the Union address in January. And the president has limited his Spanish-language media appearances to radio interviews focused on the Affordable Care Act, limiting his exposure to uncomfortable questions about deportations or the congressional immigration stalemate.
Murguía said the White House deportation policy began as an effort to win credibility among Republicans but has careened out of control. She said Obama sought to deport more people than had President George W. Bush to get Republicans to cooperate on a larger immigration reform bill — a strategy that has not worked in the House.
“I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that there may have been a strategy in place to demonstrate they were tough on deportations,” Murguía said. “Former [Homeland Security] Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t shy away from the notion that if we can show we’re tough on deportation, we’ll be able to get some of these Republicans to come around.”------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barack Obama has presided over one of the largest peacetime outflows of people in America’s history…
The Economist ~ Feb 8, 2014
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS- It is the drowsy after-lunch slot in one of San Antonio’s immigration courts, housed anonymously on the third floor of a squat brown office building, when the case of Pedro Rochas begins. Most of the men who appear before immigration courts tend to favour hardly worn suits with matching shoes, as if going to church.
Mr Rochas, a slight 33-year-old, is dressed less smartly in jeans and a red sweatshirt. He came to America at 16 and works as a part-time cook in a retirement home in Cedar Park, a town on the outskirts of Austin, where he met his wife. They have three children, all born in America. The offence that placed Mr Rochas in court on a cold day just before Thanksgiving was the purchase of a Social Security card, which allowed him to get work. He will probably be deported for it.
Last year America removed 369,000 undocumented migrants, an increase of nine times compared with 20 years ago (see chart 1). This takes the total number of the deported to almost 2m in Barack Obama’s presidency.
While this has been going on, the number of people entering America illegally via the south-western border has dropped. There are no official numbers on how many people become illegal immigrants by overstaying their visas. But the data that are collected, combined with estimates to fill the gaps, suggest that in the past couple of years, for the first time since people started to talk about illegal migration, the outflow has been greater than the inflow.
On one measure this is a great success. It is hard to find many areas where the federal government is so effective in implementing laws passed by Congress. Yet it is harmful—not just for the deported, who often have a miserable time once they are expelled (see article), but for the country they leave behind, something which even the deporters have come to recognise.
It is also a political problem for Mr Obama. The president was heckled while giving a speech on immigration in California in November by a man who shouted that he had the authority to halt the deportations and ought to use it. “Actually, I don’t,” replied Mr Obama: an unusual thing for a president to say. At the other end of the political spectrum, his administration is criticised for not deporting enough people. When the deportation numbers for 2013 were released Bob Goodlatte, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the slight decline compared with the year before was “just more evidence that the Obama administration refuses to enforce our immigration laws.”
How has a president who campaigned hard on migration reform come to preside over the expulsion of more migrants than ever? The government has long had the authority to expel undocumented migrants, but deporting them all is impractical (there are reckoned to be 11.7m). It has therefore chosen to concentrate on getting rid of criminals. This category is more elastic than it might seem. It was expanded in 1996, when a Republican-controlled Congress passed a tough immigration law and illegal border crossings were running at four times their current level.
That law reclassified several misdemeanours as “aggravated felonies” if they were committed by an illegal immigrant, lowering the legal barriers to deportation. The expanded list included stumbles that undocumented migrants are quite likely to make, such as failing to appear in court or having fake papers. It also removed time limits on these offences, so that crimes committed by teenagers could lead to deportation 20 years later.
One government lawyer in San Antonio says that some of the cases he argues stretch back decades. “You can be in your 40s or 50s and have a marijuana conviction from 20 years ago and be deported for it,” explains Doris Meissner of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute.
The effects of this change in the law were limited at first. The year after it passed 115,000 people were deported. This is because the means to enforce it were not available. That changed after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks when, by an odd jump of logic, a mass murder committed by mostly Saudi terrorists resulted in an almost limitless amount of money being made available for the deportation of Mexican house-painters.
America now spends more money on immigration enforcement than on all the other main federal law-enforcement agencies combined (see chart 2).
Much of that spending has created a border agency that can operate throughout the country. Before the September 11th 2001 attacks it was considered a threat to liberty for agencies to share too much information. After the report of the 9/11 Commission the opposite became true.
The result is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency charged with doing the deporting, can now quickly determine whether someone serving a prison sentence for a serious crime is eligible to be deported when their time is up. More controversially, it also allows ICE to see whether someone charged by the police with relatively minor offences can also be deported.
Of the 369,000 people deported last year, roughly two-thirds were people who had been stopped while trying to cross the border. The rest—134,000 of them—were picked up in the interior of the country. One of them was Adrian Revuelta, 29, who had lived in Oklahoma for ten years and worked at IHOP, a pancake house, before being deported for driving without a licence.
In jail, he says, his documents were torn up and his contact numbers, jacket and cap were thrown in the bin. Worst of all was his criminal record: “It means I can never go back.” Yet all the time, he says, his brain is full of memories of his friends and colleagues in Oklahoma. On Facebook, he winces when people he knows talk about meeting at Denny’s, or to play soccer. “It is like a knife stuck in my side,” he says. “The way you are treated is not human.”
The turning of police officers into immigration officials has brought border enforcement into areas of the country far from the deserts of the south-west. Secure Communities, the name given to the programme that links police work to the immigration database, began life in a single jurisdiction in Texas in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. By May 2013 it was operating everywhere.
This worries some policemen. “I would sooner see Secure Communities go away,” says Mark Curran, an Illinois sheriff. He thinks that the programme makes policing harder because it erodes trust between his officers and the people they are supposed to police. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are more likely to flee the scene of a car crash in places where there are lots of undocumented migrants to avoid being asked for their papers.
Some people take more drastic steps to avoid triggering a match on the database. In November ICE arrested a doctor in Boston who flew in regularly from the Dominican Republic to alter fingerprints. A full set of unrecognisable fingertips cost $4,500.
While the police have been tracking down migrants, the Department for Homeland Security has continued to raid workplaces and audit companies to see if they employ undocumented workers. In November Infosys, an Indian IT firm, agreed to pay fines of $34m for immigration offences.
Farmers who need lots of pairs of hands to pick things are favourite targets for these checks. Maureen Torrey, a farmer in New York state, says her business has been subjected to aggressive raids by immigration officials. Last year officers turned up at 6.30am and removed 44 workers to check their status. They were eventually dropped off at a 7-Eleven store two hours from the farm.
Who’ll pick America’s spinach now?
As the system for tracking people down has become more powerful, there has been a huge increase in the number of plaintiffs appearing before immigration courts. Some 1.1m people are somewhere on the docket: that is nearly 5,000 immigration cases per judge. More than half of all federal prosecutions are now for immigration-related offences.
To deal with this overload, courts have sprung up all over the place: close to the border, but also in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and New Jersey. They all have the same blue carpets, dark wood benches and American flags, identikit outposts of the Justice Department tucked away unannounced in office buildings.
The system does a good job of giving each plaintiff a decent hearing. One typical day in the San Antonio court featured a Vietnamese woman, married to an American citizen, fighting deportation, a young couple hoping to get married soon, and a man who had a conviction for abandoning a child.
The judges were patient and, working through interpreters, did their best to render legalese into plain English. This lent the process a certain dignity, but in most cases the outcome was clear from early on.
In the holding pens
The number of people deported is largely determined by the number of beds available in detention centres, which are the holding pens for the people America expels. Each year Congress mandates funding for a certain number of beds for immigration detention and stipulates that the occupancy rate must be kept high. In 2013 that number was 34,000. The president asks for less funding in his budgets but Congress gives him more, such is the political appeal of spending on border security.
Some of these places are run by private companies for ICE, like the one in Pearsall, a small Texas town decorated with churches, car-parts shops and a high-school football field. The facility can house up to 1,800 men at any one time, sleeping on iron bunk-beds in dormitories of up to 100. This is not a prison but it has few windows, is surrounded by fences topped with razor wire and is run by the GEO Group, a company that also runs prisons.
The Pearsall detention facility is quiet inside, apart from the noise of thick metal doors opening and closing. A manager explains that the colour scheme, mostly khaki, has been carefully chosen to keep the inmates calm. More people spend time in such places in any given year than serve time in federal prisons. Housing them all cost $2 billion in 2012, or nearly $5,000 per person deported.
Even with all this funding, the beds the government is mandated to provide exceed the number of places available in detention facilities, so the excess are housed in ordinary prisons. In other words, they are locked up with ordinary felons. The requirement to keep the beds filled means that as soon as one group of people are deported another arrives to replace them.
On the day your correspondent visited the Pearsall detention centre the occupancy rate had dipped to 95%, so the staff were expecting a new delivery of people. The average length of stay in these places before deportation is about a month. Multiply the number of beds by 12 and you get close to the number of people deported each year.
In the Pearsall facility the men wear colour-coded boiler-suits: blue for minor offences, orange for mid-level ones and red for the most serious offenders. The government is keen to focus its efforts on serious criminals, the red boiler-suits, and boot them back over the border.
But in the Pearsall detention centre there are a lot of people wearing blue. TRAC, a database maintained by Syracuse University of each case that comes before the courts, shows that just one in seven filings to deport is based on allegations of criminal activity.
The government has to make sure that the countries where detainees were born will have them back. In rare cases this proves impossible. Families for Freedom, an NGO, says it is working with a Kenyan man who has been in immigration detention in New York for eight years.
From the detention centres the deportees are rounded up and put on planes. ICE has its own air operations division which flew 44 charter flights a week in 2013, and runs a daily flight to deposit people in Central America. When flying to more unusual destinations, an ICE agent will babysit the deportee on a commercial flight.
This is a remarkable feat of logistics. And yet it could be more extensive. It would take many more years of deportations running at their current level to remove all 11.7m undocumented migrants. Yet most Americans think this is unrealistic, a view shared by those doing the deporting. “You cannot enforce your way out of this problem,” says an ICE official. “Nobody is more convinced of the need for immigration reform than us. Our people want to be doing law enforcement.”
The great expulsion which America is carrying out is removing some people who have committed violent crimes. But it is also expelling economic migrants, some of whom have been working in America for decades, and splitting up families. In the two years to September 2012, 205,000 parents were deported.
Judges do have the discretion to halt a deportation if it will cause extraordinary distress to the family. But in the case of Mr Rochas, the care-home worker, the distress of his wife and children, who face growing up without their father, was of the ordinary variety; and besides, the clemency quota had been filled already.
Barack Obama, deporter-in-chief
Expelling record numbers of immigrants is a costly way to make America less dynamic
The Economist ~ February 8, 2014
OCTAVIO NAVA CABRERA was pulled over by police in Illinois in April 2013 for going through a stop sign. He had arrived in the state in 1986, aged 13, and most of his family still live there. He did not have a proper driving license and had an immigration violation dating from 1997, when he was stopped at the border after a trip to Mexico.
Mr. Nava Cabrera was imprisoned for seven months and then deported, leaving a son behind. He is now sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment in Mexico City and slightly baffled by the whole experience. “I don’t know anything about Mexico,” he says.
America is expelling illegal immigrants at nine times the rate of 20 years ago (see article); nearly 2m so far under Barack Obama, easily outpacing any previous president. Border patrol agents no longer just patrol the border; they scour the country for illegals to eject. The deportation machine costs more than all other areas of federal criminal law-enforcement combined. It tears families apart and impoverishes America.
The strongest economic arguments in favor of a more liberal immigration policy are techies like Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new Indian-born boss. Half of those who earn science and technology PhDs at American universities are foreign-born, as are the authors or co-authors of four-fifths of drug patents.
America’s reluctance to allow foreign graduates to stay in the country when they finish college will reduce its chances of bagging future Mr. Nadellas. Yet the unskilled immigrants who are being shipped back to Mexico enrich America too. They work, pay taxes and fill niches that the native-born shun. Farms, hotels and restaurants depend on them; so do professional couples who need someone to hold the children while Dad writes code and Mum drills teeth.
Why would a supposedly liberal president oversee something so illiberal, cruel and pointless? The Machiavellian explanation is that it motivates Latinos, who associate such barbarism with Republicans, to keep voting for the Democrats. Mr. Obama’s defenders prefer two other excuses.
First, he is merely following laws written by nativist Republicans. This is a cop-out. As president he sets priorities for the executive branch, which cannot catch and prosecute everyone who breaks any of the gazillions of federal rules. He can find ways to slow the deportation of harmless immigrants and concentrate on those who have committed serious crimes. He has already delayed action against those who arrived as children.
The second excuse is that this is all part of Mr. Obama’s grand strategy to secure immigration reform this year, including a path to legal status for the 12m illegal immigrants now in the country. There is room for a deal (see article). The House Republicans have long believed that letting in more people like Mr. Nadella is a good thing, and they are inching towards some sort of amnesty process for undocumented workers like Mr. Cabrera.
They still dislike the idea of illegal immigrants becoming citizens (and voting for Democrats), while the Democrats are suspicious of temporary-worker schemes. These differences would be bridgeable, with a little trust. Given its absence, Mr. Obama will only win Republican votes by showing that the border is secure.
Immigration reform is indeed a great prize. But die-hard nativists are unlikely to be swayed, no matter how tough the laws, and reform can pass without their votes. There are very few things about America that are as vindictive and self-defeating as its deportation machine.
Rather than making excuses for keeping it, Mr. Obama should be exposing its awfulness and leading the campaign to de-fang it.
Deported Mexicans: Bordering on cruelty
United States expulsion policy toward migrants carries a big human cost
The Economist ~ February 8, 2014
NUEVO LAREDO- They are flown down to the Mexican border by the planeload, and then released across the bridge at night. They shuffle into Mexico wearing the look of defeat. Their shoes are untied and their trousers hang down; their laces and belts are in a plastic bag. Often these are all they carry.
Many have no papers. Some have no money. A few have lived so many years in the United States that they cannot even speak Spanish. All have wives, children or friends that they have left behind, yet they have been thrown out without so much as a change of clothes.
A government agency from the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, the Tamaulipas Migrant Institute, offers them free telephone calls when in Mexico. They are shown on a map exactly where they are and offered discounted bus tickets to their home towns—if, that is, they decide not to try to cross the border again. “I’m not going back,” one elderly man shouts out. “Better to go home. Up there, they don’t want us any more.”
Such comments may sound like vindication for the architects of the United States’ deportation policy; it is designed to deter. The vast majority of foreigners expelled last year were Mexicans—322,900, according to Mexican government statistics. That is 11% below the year before, but it fails to capture the growing number of Central Americans also shipped back to Mexico—sometimes because they pretend to be Mexicans, in order not to be sent all the way home, and have no papers to prove otherwise.
So far, the social impact of the mass deportations appears to be greater than the economic one. According to Sárah Martínez Pellegrini of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a border university, people who benefited from remittances may slip below the poverty line when the breadwinner is repatriated. The deportee may find it hard to get a job. In Michoacán, a south-western state where drug-related violence has been a focus of attention this year, some deportees have taken up arms and joined vigilante groups fighting drug gangs.
The Mexican government, meanwhile, is concerned about the rights of the deportees. Reyna Torres, a foreign-ministry official, says that some of those arrested are not given the chance to call a consul, nor sent to judges who specialise in migration cases. If they are held in detention for longer than 30 days, their documents, including IDs, are destroyed. She says there is “mistreatment and abuse” at the hands of firms subcontracted to handle detention and expulsion.
Too often Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal body, shrugs off such abuses as the subcontractors’ fault. The deportees are sent into Mexico often far from where they lived in the United States, adding to their disorientation.
Such was the case with Vasilio Martínez, a 39-year-old irrigation worker, who was caught in Arizona trying to return to his wife and five children in Washington state, where he had lived for nine years. Since he had been deported previously, he was jailed for 2½ years. Then he was shunted to deportation facilities in South Carolina and Georgia.
On the day he was repatriated to Nuevo Laredo—about 1,500km (950 miles) east of where he had originally crossed—he did not know where he was. All he knew was that the city had a reputation for drug violence. Instead of relief at being back in Mexico on his first day of freedom, he was terrified. And he had no idea when he would see his family again.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Huff Post Latinovoices ~ February 25, 2014
Three years ago, we stood up in the middle of a speech President Obama was delivering to National Council De La Raza and interrupted him with chants of "Yes you can."
After the DREAM Act had failed to pass in Congress months earlier, immigrant youth mounted a successful campaign for an executive order that eventually resulted in the president granting a segment of us temporary relief from deportations and the authorization to work in this country through the deferred action program.
During the fight for the DREAM Act we became used to hearing we were selfish, that we could derail larger reform, and that the president was our ally, not our target. But we were undeterred, and undocumented youth who had found our power weren't going to be stopped by the White House denying its abilities or the organizations who helped defend it.
Three years later, it looks like we're in a very similar moment. Only this time, the demand for executive action is even broader and certainly more urgent. Just as it made sense to give relief to immigrant youth then, it makes sense to expand that relief to our loved ones. Right now.
We may not be in the balcony at NCLR, but we still want to tell the president, "Yes you can," and we hope that call is carried by every organization that considers itself a voice for immigrants who are currently denied an equal opportunity at attaining citizenship.
A Politico article this week observed that "those who want the president to act increasingly own the narrative." That's not because of masterful messaging or high-paid consulting groups. It's because our families deserve relief and equality, and they deserve it now. Anyone connected to immigrants knows that because it's what we talk about at the dinner table and as we look in the rearview mirror on our way to work.
But the Politico article also highlighted a dangerous development that the closer groups get to the White House, the quieter they get on deportations.
One advocate described her position as being a "steward of the immigration legislation," saying that we're all on the same team just playing different roles.
To us, it's not a question of positioning within a movement, it's a question of our purpose. The difference between undocumented people and political operatives in Washington DC comes from our core belief that we deserve to exist and to thrive. Their pursuit of a personal climb to power is different than our pursuit for liberation.
We know what it's like to be a caregiver to siblings at too early an age because of a deported parent and haven't turned that experience into a talking point or converted it into a paycheck.
Immigration reform is not a game that we're playing and, frankly, our communities don't need stewards in Washington, we need allies. We need those with access not to allow themselves to be silenced but to use it to open space for our own voices to be heard, even when what we have to say targets the president.
At NCLR three years ago, we had to interrupt for a demand for administrative relief to be heard. Now the absence of the organization's voice is being noted by the press.
After the risks we took then and that undocumented immigrants (like Ju Hong who interrupted the president last year) continue to take, we send the same message we tell the president to the groups who may for whatever reason, be afraid to critique him and really defend our communities, "Yes you can."
Young Immigrants Turn Focus to President in Struggle Over Deportations
By JULIA PRESTON, NEW YORK TIMES, FEB. 23, 2014
PHOENIX — More than 500 leaders of a national network of young immigrants, frustrated that House Republicans said they would not move on immigration this year, have decided to turn their protests on President Obama in an effort to pressure him to act unilaterally to stop deportations.
After months of lobbying, rallies and sit-in demonstrations ended with no movement in the House on a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally, the youths who gathered in Phoenix this weekend for an annual congress of the network, United We Dream, said they felt disappointed by Republicans and Democrats. Pointing to Mr. Obama’s pledge early this year to use his phone and pen when Congress did not move on his agenda, they said they would demand that he take executive action to increase protections for immigrants without papers.
“The community we work with is telling us that these deportations are ripping our families apart; this has to stop,” said Cristina Jiménez, the managing director of the network, the largest organization of immigrants who grew up in this country without legal status after coming as children and who call themselves Dreamers. “And we know the president has the power to do it.”
The young immigrants’ demands will be uncomfortable for Mr. Obama in a midterm election year when his low approval ratings could allow Republicans to make important gains. Polls show wider sympathy among Americans for young immigrants than for others without legal status, and the young people have often been leaders in setting strategy among immigrant groups.
The youths said they would press the president to expand the deportation deferrals he provided to them by executive action in 2012. More than 520,000 young people have received deferrals so far, allowing them to work legally and obtain driver’s licenses in many states. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has been very popular among Latino and immigrant voters, and Mr. Obama has cited it as an example of his commitment to overhaul the immigration system.
With their shift to concentrate on Mr. Obama, the youths are sharply scaling back their expectations. Last year, after a comprehensive immigration bill passed the Senate, they hoped the House would follow through and also open a direct pathway to citizenship for most of 11.7 million illegal immigrants in the country.
This month, House Republican leaders offered principles on immigration, including legalization but not citizenship for most of those immigrants. But days later, Speaker John A. Boehner said his caucus was not ready to move forward on the divisive issue this year.
Lorella Praeli, a leader of the youth network, told the gathering here that Republicans had adopted a strategy of “death by delay” for immigration. But network leaders did not appear disheartened. An organization that only a few years ago held its meetings clandestinely to avoid detection by immigration authorities, the network held its congress this year in the Sheraton hotel in downtown Phoenix. They filled the main ballroom with strategy debates, protest singalongs and group hugs. Other guests were surprised to encounter slogan-chanting youths parading through the lobby.
They chose Phoenix, leaders said, to confront Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, who has not allowed youths with deportation deferrals to apply for driver’s licenses, as other states have.
On Saturday afternoon, the group marched through downtown Phoenix and rallied at a Department of Homeland Security detention center. Their chants were mainly directed toward the president. “Obama, Obama, don’t deport my mama!” the crowd members shouted.
In Washington, a perception gap has emerged over enforcement, with House Republicans arguing that Mr. Obama has been lax on illegal immigration and border security, so they cannot trust him to enforce any new law. Administration officials counter with figures showing Mr. Obama has deported more than 1.9 million foreigners, a record for an American president.
The youths here said they had no doubts about the impact of the Obama administration’s deportation policies, because their families felt they were under siege from immigration authorities.
“We can’t wait for Washington to continue playing around with our lives,” said Julieta Garibay, another network leader. “Our people see deportations every single day. They say, ‘Maybe this might be the last day I get to see my mom because she might get deported tomorrow.’ We’re fed up with that.”
The youths said they would ask Mr. Obama to cut back programs that have greatly expanded the local reach of federal immigration authorities and to grant deportation deferrals to undocumented parents of youths who had received them.
The president has insisted he does not have legal authority to grant more deferrals. But recently he hinted that he might revisit that position if legislation remained stalled.
In spite of the inertia in Washington, the youths, who represented 50 organizations in 25 states, said their ranks grew rapidly last year as measures to expand opportunities for them advanced in many states. At least 18 states now allow foreign-born students without legal residency to pay in-state tuition rates.
The youths said they were not giving up entirely on legislation efforts and planned drives in several districts in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas to register and mobilize Latino voters against Republicans who have resisted legalization.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), shown in 2013, on Thursday proposed to repeal the ban on bilingual education. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times / March 20, 2013)
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New MexicoFNS Feature February 9, 2014
Editor's Note: More than 768,000 people were deported from the United States during 2012 and 2013 alone. While mass media coverage of the ongoing immigration debate focuses on events in Washington and other parts of the United States, little attention has been paid to the lives of people in Mexico and other counties who have already been deported.
A large group of people who were largely invisible on this side of the border are now in the same condition on the other side of the line. In an effort to help fill the media gap, Frontera NorteSur begins an occasional series on the faces, the lives and the dreams of deportees now residing in Mexico. Today's article is the story of one young woman who was suddenly ordered out of a country she called home.
She moves between the tables with the grace of the dolphins that sometimes delight the bayside diners of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Greeting customers in Spanish and English, the server has the poise, the demeanor and the intellect to work with an international clientele. Born in Mexico and raised in the United States, Danae is a student of European history, a lover of Romeo and Juliet, and a fan of thrash metal music. "I love Shakespeare!" she declares.
She also likes poetry, blackjack, Jack Daniels and tatoos.
Though seemingly at ease on the Bay of Banderas, Danae confesses she would rather be somewhere else. “Honestly, I feel out of place here in Mexico. I feel that I don’t belong. It’s hard to start over in a place you don’t know,” says the waitress. “I actually feel more American than Mexican. Sometimes I feel out of place. I’d call myself a pocha. I’m proud of my parents and my Mexican heritage they gave me. I’m also thankful to my teachers and friends in the U.S. who gave me the culture I know.”
A pocha, or a pocho for a male, is a longtime slang term for a Mexican reared in the United States.
Sitting down for an interview, Danae makes it clear she would prefer to converse in English, which she calls her “first language.”
As the afternoon currents roll in and the bay fades from blue to gray, Danae recounts a life journey that began in the tough Mexican state of Sinaloa, extended into the U.S Midwest, touched Parris Island and Pearl Harbor, reached Afghanistan, and then took an unexpected detour back to Mexico.
Along the way, she’s encountered narcos, the Ku Klux Klan, proud U.S. Marines, Vietnam vets, dopers, strippers, tongue-gagging Guatemalan evangelicals, the Taliban, corporate offshorers, and other members of the “Pocho Nation,” who also wound up involuntarily back in their ancestral homeland.
Danae is all of 20 years old.
Because of possible litigation over her U.S. immigration status, the young woman, whose first name comes from a character in Greek mythology, agreed to share her life story on the condition that her last name not be used.
Danae’s story begins in 1993 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, the state capital of the Pacific Coast state known for its narco economy and culture. As an infant, Danae’s mother and step-father took her to Hamilton, Ohio, a small city which is located about 30 minutes from Cincinnati. Brought up in the Midwest, Danae was acculturated on a diet of McDonald's, Taco Bell and the "best mini-hamburgers in the world" dished out by Ohio's White Castle chain.
Her family was part of a new wave of Latino immigrants that settled communities off the beaten path of the more popular migratory destinations of California, the U.S. Southwest and cities like Chicago and New York.
In a paper submitted for a human rights writing contest, Miami University anthropology student Heather Hillenbrand noted the economic context of the new Latino immigration.
"Latinos are the only group of people currently coming into Hamilton at a significant rate; the city’s population peaked in 1960 at 72,345 (U.S. Census 1970) and has been steadily declining since," Hillenbrand wrote. "This is largely due to a loss of many high-paying blue-collar jobs as the city lost its industrial firms based in paper manufacturing, iron works and machine works to outsourcing. Recent economic growth has largely been in low-wage jobs..."
The U.S. Census counted around 62,000 people in Hamilton during the 2010-2012 time frame, a slight increase from the 2000 census, with Latinos steadily inching up to 6.4 percent of the population.
Enough Mexicans moved into Hamilton, Danae says, that the city acquired a Spanish nickname: “Guajajalmiton.” According to the former resident, the name derives from the large number of people living in the city who can trace their roots to the Mexican city of Leon, Guanajuato.
In the early 21st century, racial and ethnic tensions boiled over in “Guajajalmiton.” In 2005, the alleged rape of a young girl by a Latino immigrant resulted in the burning of the suspect’s home, as well as a flurry of local agitation by the Ku Klux Klan.
While she was a young girl, Danae says members of the racist group passed out literature at a local shopping mall. "It was scary," she recalls. "The KKK once tried to kick all the Mexicans out of Hamilton."
But Danae says she acquired a more positive, enduring image of the country. When she was about 6 years old, the child saw a Marine, rose in hand, standing stoically among the crowd in an airport.
"I could remember him perfectly. If I could draw him, that's him. How serene he was. I grew up with the mentality that I wanted to be that guy."
Soon enough, the star-struck girl got a chance to don the uniform that so fascinated her. In the middle of the last decade, the U.S. was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Especially in Iraq, the constant ambushes and roadside bombs did not make good recruitment hooks for the armed forces, and enlistments tanked. In return for promises of citizenship, military recruiters signed up the Danaes of the world.
The girl from Guajajalmiton was "15 about to turn 16" when she answered Washington's call.
"There were immigrants from all over the world," Danae says of her new comrades. "They were Europeans, people from China, Russia, signing up because they went to get their (citizenship) papers."
In a 2008 report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) contended that U.S. military recruiters were violating the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the U.S. Senate in 2002, which established 16 as the absolute minimum age of enlistment. Further, the ACLU charged, the U.S. had agreed to a "binding declaration" that raised the minimum recruitment age to 17.
By 2010, Danae was serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Her baby face turning somber, Danae declines to discuss combat details but says "many friends" were killed. The US, she insists, lost many of its "best" young people in a land long known for chewing up foreign invaders. "It was like a band of sheep following the cattle to slaughter," Danae reflects.
In her own Afghan chapter, survival depended on fellow Marines, the "lucky charm" of a loved one's photo and letters from back home.
Years later, Danae has a perspective on America's longest war. She's met much older vets, from the Vietnam War era, and compares Afghanistan with Vietnam. The young vet holds a certain respect for her former Afghan foes, considering them among the most "patriotic" people in the world and willing to fight "tooth and nail" against the most technologically-superior military machine the globe has ever witnessed.
Danae admits her tour of duty resulted in "a little bit of PTSD." While in public, she keeps a close eye on following cars, suddenly closing doors and even little children, who in Afghanistan might have been strapped with explosives. The nightly fireworks that boom on the beach and light up the sky over Banderas Bay are "the worst" call-backs to a nightmarish time, she adds.
Barely into her third decade of life, Danae says she grew up real fast and missed out on the abandon of youth pursued so relentlessly by many of her teen peers. "Wisdom comes with age," she observes, "but your childhood only comes once and it never comes back."
For all her sacrifices, Danae still doesn't have citizenship papers. According to the former U.S. resident, she was instead giving an ultimatum by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to board a one-way flight out of the country within 48 hours.
The startling order came one day in 2011, when ICE agents came knocking on Danae's door while she was inside watching a DVD and thinking about reenlisting in the Marine Corps.
To this day, the ex-Marine claims she doesn't know the exact reason for the deportation, but acknowledges that the ICE agents showed her a paper she supposedly signed that permitted the action. Technically, the order is not a deportation,
Danae clarifies, since she could go back to the U.S. either on a student visa or with citizenship papers. Practically speaking, however, an order to leave the country is just what it means.
Arriving in Mexico with a suitcase, a laptop and a dog, Danae suddenly found herself living with a difficult aunt in the bustling city of Guadalajara and, to her surprise, acting as a surrogate mother for three cousins. Together with other young deportees and military vets from the "Pocho Nation" diaspora, Danae found work through a temp agency in Guadalajara's call centers, specifically with Bank of America and T-Mobile.
Answering questions in flawless English, the customer service rep assisted often befuddled, older callers who had trouble with a credit card bill or operating a cell-phone. Corporate America's onetime voice to the world describes stressful days filled with calls from "idiots" like the women who couldn't work her cellphone to function because she had taken the battery out of it, or the nasty individuals who would end conversations with racist rants.
"If they heard an accent, they would call you a Filipino even if you weren't a Filipino. 'Wetbacks! You're taking all our jobs!"
For her skills in diplomacy and public relations, Danae earned about $3.50 an hour at the Bank of America job and approximately $4.00 per hour for the T-Mobile gig, she says. The regular Mexican benefits of social security, government housing and savings accounts were part of the package. While the pay was much better than the wages paid at Guadalajara's numerous, foreign-owned electronics industry plants, the money was still about half the U.S. minimum wage.
While she was living and working in Mexico's Silicon Valley, Danae met and married a U.S. citizen. The couple then moved to Puerto Vallarta, where the union soured after Danae ended up being the sole breadwinner and caught her "lazy" husband cheating with a man, she says.
Needing a well-paying job in a tourism-dependent city where such positions are few and far between, Danae then accepted a job as a hostess at a strip club. She soon was "graduated" to a drink girl, enticing customers to purchase expensive drinks while holding conversations with them. According to the bilingual woman, the management fired her after she refused to have sex with customers.
Nowadays, Danae works at a place where the table action is more mundane. Along with a few dozen other U.S. vets, the 20-year-old says is contemplating a lawsuit against the U.S. government for its alleged failure to live up to the deal of citizenship papers for military service.
"A lot of hopes and dreams were in that," Danae says of the government's bundle of promises. "A lot of families were in there, and in 2011 everything was gone."
When she is not working, Danae devotes time to online studies in history that will hopefully culiminate in a bachelor's degree from a Mexican university. Her goal is to earn a master's degree and go on to a doctorate, perhaps leading to a teaching position in academia.
Danae is fascinated by European history, especially World War Two, Hitler's Germany and the Holocaust. Her voice projects a sense of duty as she explains why it is important to know about genocides that most people prefer to forget. "There is so much there that needs to come out to the world," Danae muses. "Everything happened because we let it happen."
A young woman who came of age in the heart of the Buckeye State, Danae doesn't mince words when it comes to the immigration reform quagmire on the Potomac. Only the Native Americans, Danae says, can lay claim to a non-immigrant status in a nation of immigrants.
"(Politicians) should cut the bull..America was built with immigrants," she adds. "If they should get rid of the immigrants, they should start with the Senate and Congress, because they would all be gone..."
By Carla Rivera firstname.lastname@example.org, L.A. Times ~ February 4, 2014
Two Long Beach colleges are among 12 nationally that will offer scholarships to low-income students who are in this country illegally and not eligible for federal financial aid, officials announced Tuesday.
Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach are participating in the new national program called TheDream.US, an initiative launched by several prominent philanthropists.
The name refers to the federal Dream Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 1.7 million young people brought to the country illegally as children.
In 2011, California adopted a version that provides immigrants in the state illegally access to state financial aid at public colleges and universities. The state also allows these students to pay in-state tuition.
The new scholarship program will cover tuition, fees and book costs of as much as $25,000 for 2,000 students over the next decade.
"Assisting these students achieve their academic goals is good for our community and our economy as once they obtain a college credential, their families are more likely to contribute to the economy in positive ways," Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement.
To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must have graduated from a U.S. high school with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher, must qualify for the federal deferred action immigration program, must demonstrate financial need, must show strong motivation to succeed in a career-ready or bachelor's degree program and be enrolled in a participating institution. The deadline to apply is March 31.
"This initiative represents an excellent opportunity for our two institutions to serve these hard-working and motivated students in reaching their personal and career goals," Cal State Long Beach Interim President Donald Para said in a statement.
The scholarship program was launched by former Washington Post executive Donald E. Graham, Democratic activist Henry R. Munoz III and Carlos Gutierrez, who was Commerce secretary under President George W. Bush. The group raised $25 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Fernandez Foundation and others.
Other participating colleges are in New York, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Protect Our Families Campaign
Campaña de Protección a Nuestras Familias
By ALAN BENJAMIN
JAN. 29 -- Yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution that calls upon President Obama to (1) stop the deportations, (2) extend DACA [Deferred Action] to all undocumented immigrants, and (3) end the firings of undocumented immigrants by means of I-9 audits, E-Verify and employers' sanctions. The resolution -- which was initially adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council -- was introduced by Supervisors David Chiu, David Campos and Scott Wiener.
Earlier in the day, the San Francisco Labor Council and numerous immigrant rights and community-based organizations in the city held a rally / press conference on the steps of City Hall to convey the urgency of approving this resolution. Speaker after speaker decried the more than 2 million deportations under Obama and the tens of thousands of workers fired -- with their families torn apart -- because of lack of papers.
Rally chair Olga Miranda, president of SEIU Local 87 (Janitors Union) and secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Labor Council, quoted Los Angeles Council member Gil Cedillo, who, at a luncheon the day before hosted by Local 87, took strong issue with Obama for being the main deporter of immigrants in the nation's history, stating, "How can Obama claim to support the DREAMers, when he is deporting their mothers and fathers?"
Rally speakers included workers who had been fired from their jobs under E-Verify, two young DREAMers [see statement below by Itzel], representatives from community organizations, members of the clergy, and Supervisors Chiu and Campos [see attached photo of Supervisor David Campos addressing the mid-day rally].
All speakers underscored the importance of adopting this resolution and sending a resounding message to Washington that working people and their organizations in San Francisco and across the country will not stand by idly while Obama continues to deport and separate families, and while workers everywhere are fired from their jobs for lack of papers.
* * * * * * * * * *
Statement by Itzel (Undocumented Student) to the SF Bd of Supervisors on January 28, 2014
[Note: Itzel is a DREAMer who benefited from DACA. But as a low-income student who finished high school out of state, she does not qualify for in-state tuition at City College of San Francisco, where she has completed two semesters of study. This semester Itzel was not able to register for classes. The college's new payment policy requires that all students pay the coming semester's tuition up front -- as opposed to throughout the semester -- which for Itzel means coming up with $3,000 to register for her third semester, something that is way beyond her and her family's means. Student activists at CCSF are mobilizing to fight the payment policy and to demand that the college and the city make available scholarships for low-income students like Itzel.]
Good afternoon, my name is Itzel and I am an undocumented immigrant.
I came to the United States when I was 4 years old along with my mother and younger brother to meet up with my father in California. It was not easy growing up with two working parents, I had to take care of my brother at an age when I could barely take care of myself.Years would go by where we'd see my dad for only 30 minutes a day. He would come home to eat and leave for his second job. We were not able to spend time together like most families do. The same goes for thousands of families across the country.
My father works for a water-proofing company in the city and has to go in through the back door of the building he's working in because he doesn't have an I.D. to show at the front door.
By extending DACA to undocumented immigrants while Congress figures a out a real solution that will benefit this community would be a start to ending this harsh reality that many seem to ignore. It would grant temporary relief to those who have always been living in the shadows.
By Washington Post, Editorial Board, February 8, 2014
JUST A week ago, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a set of Republican principles that established a framework for reforming the nation’s broken immigration system. Now, in a whirlwind about-face, the speaker declares that the prospects for immigration legislation this year are slight because Republicans don’t trust President Obama to enforce laws the House might pass.
The suggestion that the president doesn’t or wouldn’t enforce immigration laws is transparently false. In the very near future, the Obama administration will deport its 2 millionth illegal immigrant, a pace much faster than that of President George W. Bush or any previous president. Under Mr. Obama, apprehensions along the Southwest frontier — a reflection of illegal border crossing activity — have fallen to a four-decade low. The number of Border Patrol agents has doubled in the past decade, to say nothing of sharply higher spending on other agencies and resources meant to stop illegal crossings.
Has all of this been lost on Mr. Boehner?
No, the speaker’s assertion is a smoke screen designed to obscure the fact that rank-and-file Republicans refuse to tackle immigration reform. Many persist in the fantasy that 11.7 million illegal immigrants, among them at least 7 million with jobs, should be forced to leave the country, and that anything short of that amounts to amnesty. Some might not buy into the self-deportation myth but fear a primary challenge if they appear lax. Others, more calculatingly, are loath to debate an issue that could prompt a venomous internecine fight, divert attention from what they see as the debacle of the Affordable Care Act and diminish GOP prospects in this fall’s midterm elections.
Mr. Boehner might have summoned the spine to quiet those doubts and coax his party toward immigration reform anyway. Or he could have acknowledged that despite his best efforts, he found the political problems within his party insurmountable. Instead, he blamed the GOP’s paralysis on Mr. Obama — concocting a weak excuse about the president’s supposed trustworthiness — in hopes that the best defense is an aggressive offense.
Mr. Boehner appears to genuinely support immigration reform and to grasp that it is a slow-motion demographic and political disaster for his party to continue to obstruct it. Perhaps his strategy is to wait and grapple with his caucus another day. But he undercuts his case when he lends credence to the canard that immigration law is not being enforced.
The reality of enforcement under the Obama administration is measured in deportations that have fractured hundreds of thousands of families and upended hundreds of thousands of lives. It is apparent in long stretches of the border, once highly permeable, that are now so highly militarized that illegal crossings are difficult to impossible. It is reflected in the fact that for the first time in years, as many or more illegal immigrants have been leaving the country as entering it.
By recycling the lie about lax enforcement, Mr. Boehner encourages those in his party who would demand unattainable levels of border impermeability as a precondition for reform. That’s a recipe for paralysis.
Note:Washington Post Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board. News reporters and editors never contribute to editorial board discussions, and editorial board members don’t have any role in news coverage
Protect Our Families Campaign
Campaña de Protección a Nuestras Familias
Contactos para medios:
Angela Sanbrano (323) 371-7305 ~ Red Mx
Armando Vázquez-Ramos (562) 430-5541 ~ Centro de Estudios California-México
Un total de siete senadores de California respaldan la resolución SR 25, que pide al presidente Barack Obama detener las deportaciones y otorgar un estatus de protección legal a inmigrantes sin documentos, mientras el poder legislativo federal no adopte una reforma migratoria integral.
El anuncio se dio a conocer el 4 de febrero en Sacramento cuando una delegación de Los Angeles integrada por miembros de la Campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias realizó una jornada de cabildeo enfocada a los senadores de California.
Los senadores Ron Calderón (quien originalmente presentó la resolución), Leland Yee y Lou Correa anunciaron en una conferencia de prensa realizada en Sacramento, que aparte de ellos, los senadores Block, Hancock, Leno, Liu y Hannah-Beth Jackson, se sumaron como co-autores de la SR 25.
Representantes de la Red Mexicanas de Líderes y Organizaciones Migrantes (Red Mx), el Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos (CARECEN) y DreaMoms, visitaron las oficinas de los senadores Ben Hueso, Alex Padilla, Norma J. Torres, Kevin De León, Ricardo Lara, Mark Leno y Lois Wolk.
Otras organizaciones que se sumaron al cabildeo fueron la Asociación Política Mexico-Americana (MAPA), el Concilio Laboral para el Avance Latinoamericano AFLCIO (LCLAA), el Concilio sobre Relaciones Islámico-Americanas (CAIR) y el Consorcio Chicano, entre otras organizaciones.
Angela Sanbrano, directora de la Red-Mx y miembro de la campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias, informó que la delegación obtuvo una respuesta positiva por parte de los senadores, sin embargo, destacó que es importante continuar la presión para que los legisladores apoyen la resolución SR 25 presentada por el senador Ron Calderón.
Agregó que es de suma importancia que organizaciones y miembros de la comunidad participen y exhorten a los legisladores a votar en favor de la resolución. La meta es lograr la firma de la mayoría de los legisladores.
De acuerdo al Pew Hispanic Center, en el 2011 había más de once millones de personas sin documentos viviendo en Estados Unidos.
En California, residen alrededor de dos millones 600 mil personas indocumentadas.
La administración del presidente Obama ha deportado a un promedio de 400 mil personas al año, desde el 2009, alcanzando un cifra récord de alrededor de dos millones de personas.
De acuerdo al Centro Legal Nacional de Inmigración, más de mil inmigrantes son separados de sus familias y comunidades todos los días.
La campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias dará seguimiento a esta importante iniciativa y mantendrá informada a la comunidad a través de los medios de comunicación y por medio de nuestra página: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Protect-Our-Families-Protección-a-Nuestras-Familias/236415353199819.Los Angeles, California a 5 de febrero del 2014.
Obama ignora clamor contra deportaciones, movimiento pro inmigrante Proteccion a Nuestras Familias intensificará acciones
El presidente Obama no debe continuar evadiendo su responsabilidad histórica de ejercer su poder ejecutivo para detener el dolor que enfrentan miles de familias migrantes debido a las deportaciones, en tanto no exista una reforma migratoria justa.
La Campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias continuará sus esfuerzos enfocados a que el presidente responda al clamor migrante de proteger a las familias. En alianza con funcionarios electos en las ciudades, juntas de supervisores y representantes de congresos estatales y federales, continuaremos una serie de acciones para proteger a las familias migrantes de las deportaciones.
El hecho de que la Cámara de Representantes anunciara que en los próximos días dará a conocer su propuesta de reforma migratoria, no garantiza que habrá una reforma migratoria integral y justa.
Sabemos que la propuesta que surja de la Cámara Baja no beneficiará en general a los más de once millones de indocumentados en el país.
La campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias pide al presidente Barack Obama que mientras el congreso no apruebe una ley de reforma migratoria justa e incluyente, ordene:
1) Al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional que dé instrucciones a la agencia de enforzamiento migratorio ICE para que cesen las deportaciones.
2) Ponga fin a programas como Comunidades Seguras y 287(g) que permite la cooperación de agencias del orden con agentes migratorios para deportar a miles de personas.
3) Termine el programa e-verify, que exige a los empleadores verificar el estatus migratorio de los trabajadores.
4) Otorgue protección legal a todas las personas no autorizadas que no tengan antecedentes delictivos serios hasta que haya una ley migratoria humanitaria, justa e incluyente.
Si el presidente Barack Obama continúa ignorando el clamor de justicia de los migrantes, permitiendo que sean rehenes de los intereses políticos de los republicanos, intensificaremos nuestra campaña para pedir apoyo las autoridades ciudad por ciudad, estado por estado para que se logre justicia para millones de personas a quienes se les niegan sus derechos fundamentales.Los Angeles, California, a 28 de enero del 2014
By David Nakamura, Washington Post ~ February 3, 2014
New momentum in Congress for a broad overhaul of border-control laws has prompted White House allies to demand that President Obama halt deportations of millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom would be allowed to remain in the country under a legislative deal.
The advocates, including the AFL-CIO and pro-immigration groups, argue that Obama should use his executive authority to expand a 2012 decision that halted deportations of young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The administration’s aggressive approach to enforcement — which has resulted in nearly 2 million deportations during Obama’s tenure — makes little sense at a time when Congress could be on the verge of providing legal relief, advocates say.
The push places the White House in a difficult political position as it attempts to negotiate with a House Republican caucus sharply divided on immigration. Leading conservatives said over the weekend that the chief impediment to a deal is their distrust that Obama would enforce new border-security provisions if a large portion of the nation’s 11.7 million illegal immigrants are granted legal status.
The White House has consistently said that Obama cannot legally expand the effort — known as the deferred action program — and some advisers fear that doing so would expose the president to more Republican criticism. Obama’s predicament was reflected in a muddled answer that he gave Friday during an online chat, when he was asked whether he would consider using his executive power to stop deportations.
“If, for some reason, we’re seeing it not getting done,” the president said of a legislative bill, “I will look at all options to make sure we have a rational, smart system of immigration. But I’m going to do everything I can in the coming months to see if we can get it over the finish line.”
Administration officials said Obama was not shifting his position and that he stands by previous statements that he must enforce the law. This spring, the Obama administration will surpass 2 million deportations — more than the George W. Bush administration removed from the country in eight years, in part because Congress boosted border control resources in the mid-2000s.But immigration advocates argued that the pending legislation in Congress lends new urgency to the matter. In a 41-page rulemaking petition to be filed Tuesday with the Department of Homeland Security, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network says that “it is sound policy and consistent with the President’s authority to make a categorical determination to prioritize resources away from the estimated 8 million” people who would qualify for legal status, and possibly citizenship, under a plan approved by the Senate last summer.
AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka said in an interview last week that the White House would actually improve its bargaining position with House Republicans if Obama unilaterally suspended deportations. Millions of undocumented immigrants would be allowed to join the public debate, Trumka said, putting more pressure on a party struggling to broaden its appeal with Latinos and Asian Americans. “If I were president, I would have said the following: ‘It’s a broken system. Except for violent criminals, no more deportations until you help me fix a broken system,’ ” Trumka said.
Legal analysts said the truth probably lies somewhere between the White House’s position and the advocates’ demands. Courts have ruled that the executive branch can employ “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding which cases to enforce in light of limited financial resources.
In 2011, John T. Morton, then the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wrote in a memo to his staff that the agency should make deporting violent criminals and those who could present national security risks a higher priority than minors, the elderly, people who are ill or pregnant, and those who have served in the U.S. military.
Critics say Morton’s guidelines have been haphazardly followed by agents who have sought to deport people arrested on unrelated matters through trumped-up charges.
Under mounting pressure during the 2012 election, Obama announced the deferred action program for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. Known as “Dreamers,” they are allowed to live and work in the country legally under a two-year waiver that can be renewed.
The administration points to a 10 percent drop in deportations, from 410,000 in 2012 to 369,000 last year, as evidence that it has successfully used discretion and focused on high-priority cases. More than 60 percent of those deported had been convicted of another crime, officials said.
Still, deferred action “is not a permanent solution,” said Peter Boogaard, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman. “Only Congress can comprehensively reform the immigration system.”
Republicans, and some ICE officers, have challenged the legality of the deferred action program, and a report by the Congressional Research Service last year found that the White House’s authority to defer deportations is limited.
Congress “would appear to have considerable latitude in establishing statutory guidelines for immigration officials to follow,” the report concluded, such as “prohibiting DHS from considering certain factors in setting enforcement priorities.”
But Hiroshi Motomura, a UCLA professor who has written extensively on prosecutorial discretion, said the Obama administration could, in effect, seek to formalize the Morton memos by creating a “sliding scale” of enforcement priorities.
“There’s not a clear answer how far they could go legally,” Motomura said. “But they’d hit the political limits before reaching their legal limits. No one thinks they can just suspend immigration laws. But we’re way, way short of that.”
David A. Martin, who served as principal deputy general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security in the first two years of the administration, said the amount of flexibility Obama has would probably not satisfy most advocates.
“One of the anti-deportation efforts is called, ‘Not one more,’ but it’s politically counterproductive; it’s not feasible,” said Martin, now a professor at the University of Virginia. “Not every deportation is unfeasible. Not every deportation breaks up a family.”
The “not one more” campaign was started by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, whose tactics have included immigrants handcuffing themselves to the White House gates and blocking deportation buses in Arizona. Jessica Karp, an attorney for the group, said the rulemaking petition to the Homeland Security agency is meant to provide legal arguments to buttress the group’s demonstrations.“The president’s stated policy since taking office is ‘enforcement on steroids’ in order to gain credibility and give him leverage on negotiations over immigration reform,” Karp said. “That strategy is a failure. It’s failed politically and caused untold suffering in the immigrant community. It’s time for a new strategy.”
By ALEJANDRO CANO, Fontana Herald News ~
Members of the immigrant community living in the United States are pleased that some representatives of the Republican Party are becoming open to the idea of legalizing a segment of the undocumented population and even offering citizenship to some.
However, immigration activists are upset that a plan disclosed to the media last week by House members differs radically from the immigration proposal which was approved by the Senate last year.
Moderate Republicans have received criticism not only from Democrats (who generally are in favor of immigration reform) but also from conservative Republicans who oppose any type of assistance to undocumented residents.
While those differences are being debated, some Democratic leaders from California are asking President Barack Obama to halt deportations of “legalization-eligible” undocumented immigrants.
On Jan. 23, Sen. Ron Calderon introduced Senate Resolution 25, which calls on Obama to halt deportations of those people who may be eligible to receive legalization.
Two days later, seven more senators joined the “Protect Our Families” campaign, including senators Leland Yee, Lou Correa, Marty Block, Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, Carol Liu, and Hanna-Beth Jackson.
“Increased deportations and a broken immigration system exacerbate the living conditions of U.S. citizen children whose parents have been deported," said Calderon. “Separating children from their parents, regardless of immigration status, results in severe consequences for children who are left with no parental guidance or care in a highly unstable financial situation."
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2011 there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country. California is home to 10.3 million immigrants, of whom about 2.6 million are undocumented, added the Center.
Under Obama, deportations have reached record levels, rising to an annual average of 400,000 since 2009 -- many of them people with no prior convictions.
California is considered the front runner when dealing with immigrant rights. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that gives undocumented drivers the opportunity to obtain a valid driver’s license. Human rights activists said that move will prevent hundreds of thousands of people from losing money when trying to recover their impounded vehicles at DUI checkpoints.
During his State of the Union speech, Obama called on Congress to act to fix the broken immigration system.
However, Robin Hvidston, a member of the Claremont-based group We the People, California's Crusader, said the system is not broken and Congress should focus more on helping citizens rather than offering amnesty to “illegal aliens."“The House GOP leaders and members of Congress should be focused on issues such as unemployment, homelessness and veterans," said Hvidston. "This is the wrong time to be focused on individuals in the United States illegally when millions of Americans are suffering, more than 20 million looking for a job and our veterans are in desperate need of programs and assistance, not to mention the burgeoning homeless Americans."
By CARL HULSE, New York Times, February 6, 2014
WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner would sorely like to help engineer an overhaul of immigration policy to bolster his legacy, help his party politically and address a difficult social and economic problem. He just cannot seem to persuade other Republicans, who see the immigration debate as a major threat to their drive to win the Senate and increase their House majority in November.
The tension between Mr. Boehner’s desire to forge ahead on immigration and a Republican sense that staying focused on the new health care law is the path to victory in the midterm elections contributed to the speaker’s sharp retreat on Thursday from his new push for an immigration consensus.
Given that Mr. Boehner’s negative comments on the prospects for immigration came on the same day Senate Republicans again blocked an extension of emergency unemployment aid, Republicans risk being portrayed as a force of obstruction if the year becomes one long impasse. After Mr. Boehner’s comments, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said that if Republicans did not intend to legislate, “why don’t we just pack up and go home?”
But Republicans knowledgeable about the issue said immigration was not yet completely off the table. Instead, they said, reaching any agreement has become appreciably harder because of a Republican reluctance to get caught up in an internal feud and stomp on their increasingly bright election prospects.
At the same time, Republicans say President Obama’s increasing reliance on executive authority to impose his agenda has stirred real resentment among the rank-and-file. It has also deepened their suspicion that Mr. Obama would not follow through on tough border enforcement and other aspects of immigration policy that Republicans favor — resulting in the lack of trust that Mr. Boehner cited in his remarks.
“He is running around the country telling everyone he’s going to keep acting on his own,” Mr. Boehner told reporters, accusing the president of “feeding more distrust about whether he is committed to the rule of law.”
Much more is at work than the question of trust between congressional Republicans and the White House in what is becoming a complicated interplay of issues and politics.
Republicans, through Mr. Boehner’s remarks and other channels, are letting the White House know that one way it can begin to win back the confidence of House Republicans is to work with them on issues such as expanded trade authority despite House and Senate Democratic resistance to new trade deals.
Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat who has been in quiet talks with top Republicans on immigration, suggested the speaker was also giving himself room to push through an increase in the federal debt limit in coming days.
“He is sending messages; there are so many things going on,” Mr. Schumer said. “I believe that there is a good portion of the Republican leadership that wants to do a bill. I believe they know it’s difficult. I believe they know it’s not a straight line process.”
At the White House, officials expressed some disappointment at the speaker’s comments but also said they did not think reaching a deal on immigration was completely out of the question this year.
Other Democrats saw the blocking of unemployment aid and the backing off on immigration as part of a familiar pattern: deep Republican refusal to embrace policies that have broad support even among some Republican allies. To them, Mr. Boehner’s remarks were a calculated effort to extricate himself from the immigration debate while turning the blame on the president.
It was Mr. Boehner of Ohio and his fellow House leaders who breathed life back into the subject last week by embracing an overhaul that opened the door to millions of illegal immigrants’ gaining legal status, if not citizenship.
But hard-line conservatives remained dug in against any change that could be seen as amnesty. And some Republicans who have been open to a new approach to immigration said the timing seemed wrong, given the political advantage the party seems to be enjoying on the health care issue.
If they have Democrats on the run, the argument went, it makes no sense to plunge into a contentious debate that would expose bitter party divisions, potentially spur resentment from Hispanics, lead to primaries for some Republican incumbents and sap voter enthusiasm in the fall, leaving Republicans short in their drive for Senate control.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the man who would like to be the leader of a new Senate Republican majority, said Tuesday that he saw little chance for legislation this year, further dampening its outlook.
But Mr. Boehner and other Republicans still see an opening — though a narrowing one — to get a deal that could pay political benefits for the party and possibly give them leverage with the White House on trade and economic issues.
Other Republicans believe it would be smarter to wait until after the midterms and pursue immigration in 2015 leading up to the presidential election, when Republicans will be more motivated to increase their appeal to Hispanic voters. If the midterm goes their way, they will be strengthened in Congress.But there are no guarantees that making major immigration law changes will get easier. If the effort dies this year, some Republicans may find themselves in 2015 agonizing that they missed a chance to get a difficult subject behind them.
The House's retreat on immigration may produce an unintended ripple in the form of increased pressure on President Barack Obama to unilaterally stem his record-setting rate of deportations.
The matter has long been a source of tension between the Obama administration and many immigrant-rights groups. These groups, who are central to the liberal side of the immigration debate, are furious at the administration for deporting people who could legally stay in the U.S. under legislation that the president supports.
"The president can show the Republicans he is not waiting to bring the country in line with our national values," said B. Loewe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, among the most active groups pushing the White House. He said that while Mr. Obama has pressed for legislation, advocates wonder: "Is he a reformer or is he the deporter-in-chief."
His group filed a petition this past week formally requesting regulatory changes to halt deportations. The National Immigration Law Center also filed a memo to the administration suggesting a menu of legal options to ratchet down deportations.
The pressure puts the White House in a bind. If Mr. Obama chose to shift his position on deportations, he would anger the same Republicans he needs to make any final deal to revamp the immigration system. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday cited a lack of faith among Republicans that the president would enforce any law they passed as one reason passing immigration legislation this year would be difficult.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.), who has surveyed most of his colleagues in trying to find consensus for an immigration bill, said unilateral action by the president on deportations "absolutely" would make a hard road even harder, regardless of the merits.
"This administration is seen as selectively enforcing the law," he said in an interview Friday. "It's a major part of the problem we have with passing immigration reform."
The White House responds by pointing to its aggressive work to secure the border. Since Mr. Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security has tallied record annual deportations almost every year, with nearly 369,000 people removed last year. The administration emphasizes that it prioritizes apprehensions at the border and people with criminal records.
The issue will gain fresh attention this spring, when the Obama administration is expected to deport its two millionth person from the U.S., based on previously reported deportation rates. To mark the milestone, advocates plan a "national day of action" for April 5 with rallies in dozens of cities around the theme of "two million too many." And on Presidents Day this month, faith leaders plan a civil disobedience event at the White House to protest deportations.
Immigration advocates are divided on this approach, and those based in Washington in particular have kept a focus on Congress. "Inevitably more and more advocates will be calling on the president to step in to roll back" deportations, said Frank Sharry, who heads America's Voice, a group pressing for an immigration overhaul. He said this pressure is "a bit premature" and that advocates should continue to press Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The White House says Mr. Obama doesn't have the power to halt deportations on his own and that legislation is the only way to provide permanent relief to some 11.5 million people living in the U.S. illegally.
In November, Mr. Obama, responding to a heckler at an event in San Francisco, said, "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so."
He gave a less definitive response a week ago when asked about deportations, saying that if it became clear an immigration bill wouldn't pass Congress this year, "I'm going to look at all options to make sure that we have a rational, smart system of immigration."Advocates note that in 2012, the Obama administration suspended deportations of many young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Before doing that, administration officials said they didn't have authority to do so.
Hermandad Mexicana Humanitarian Foundation
By: Nativo-Vigil :Lopez© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - 1/31/14
What did you expect from the Republican Party on immigration matters? This is not Ronald Reagan's party any more. Twenty-seven years ago he signed into law the Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986, which ultimately legalized 3 million undocumented persons with permanent resident status. Five years hence these same newly legalized immigrants qualified for U.S. citizenship. Not this Republican Party, not now, and probably not ever.
The long-awaited "Republican Immigration Principles 2014" regurgitate legislative proposals and rhetoric authored and heard from Republican federal legislators all year long. There is nothing new here. However, a closer look reveals that these are broad stroke proposals that actually mirror many of the current immigration policies and practices of the Obama administration.
The first principle - Border Security and Interior Enforcement. This has been Obama's mainstay. He has increased 8,000 additional border guards along the U.S. - Mexico border, used the National Guard, incorporated military technology perfected in Iraq and Afghanistan, including drones, and built 700 miles of border wall. The expansive and mandatory use of Secure Communities Program really became a reality under this administration. The creeping intermeshing of federal and local police authority and database exchange has never been so invasive and thorough. No other president in the history of the United States has deported more migrants than the first black president - 2 million and counting. At this rate, more than three million migrants, the majority of Mexican origin, will have been removed by the end of Obama's second term. The annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security for immigration purposes has never been more robust.
The second principle - Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System. On this score Obama has not been overly ambitious. It is estimated that 40 percent of the current undocumented population actually entered the U.S. lawfully with a visitor, tourist, business, or student visa, but overstayed. This has historically been the case notwithstanding the persistent border enforcement emphasis. However, the Republicans will find no argument with the president in this regard.
The third principle - Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement. President Obama has expanded workplace enforcement more than his previous three predecessors. He has aggressively expanded the use of the E-verify program - employment verification - with both private and public employers nationally. This has come to be recognized as electronic deportation through employment termination effectively undermining migrant workers' ability to thrive economically, and thus force what Mitt Romney called self-deportation.
The fourth principle - Reforms to the Legal Immigration System. This proposal portends probably the greatest shift away from family reunification emphasis in our legal immigration system since the 1965 overhaul under President Lyndon Johnson (enacted in 1968), which moved the country from the racially oriented national origin formula in effect since the 1920s. The new proposed emphasis would be employment-based immigration, and preferably high skilled, over family relationships. The second tier of this preference would be for low-skilled temporary workers to meet the ever urgent needs of the agricultural industry, but others as well. This is nothing more than a renewed call for plenty of guest-workers - the 21st Century bracero program. Again, this is consistent with proposals advocated by President Obama, and even shamefully acquiescence to by the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the UFW, among other trade unions.
The fifth principle - Youth. Everyone loves a Dreamer. The Republicans propose a path to legal resident status, and ultimately U.S. citizenship, for young eligible undocumented, who "through no fault of their own" were brought to the U.S. by their parents, and would be required to serve "honorably" in the military or attain a college degree. President Obama actually facilitated this proposed measure by his executive order of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals, popularly known as DACA, in 2012 just prior to the presidential elections.
The sixth principle - Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law. This is probably considered the most contentious proposal due to its requirement that the undocumented applicants for a probationary legal status declare an admission of guilt of having committed the civil/criminal offense of unauthorized entry into the U.S. Additional requirements are the same as those presently imposed to obtain permanent legal residency and U.S. citizenship. In other words, an extremely high standard would be required for a tenuous legal status with no guarantee of obtaining permanent status or citizenship. These would include - "pass a rigorous background check, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without any access to public benefits)." This is an extremely high bar to jump, and the unmistakable risk to applicants making such an admission of guilt is that they would waive all constitutional protections against self-incrimination, and if not qualified for the legal status they could be removed from the U.S. and precluded from ever returning or gaining lawful status in the future. President Obama has balked at this formula, which does not guarantee a "path to citizenship" to his credit. However, he may be so desperate for a deal that he ends up conceding to this Apartheidesque second-class status for migrants - a work permit with no rights or access to benefits.
However, the Republican proposition also declares, "none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced." This truly places the Republican principles in the category of Dead-On-Arrival, beyond the pale, non-negotiable, and totally unacceptable.
Obama has demonstrated his willingness to go down this slippery slope with his enforcement on steroids policies and practices supposedly to prove to Republicans that he is serious about protecting America's borders. The question that Latino families have for this president is - what did two million deportations, hundreds of thousands of employment terminations, prolonged incarcerations in private ICE detention centers, tens of thousands of minors of deported parents placed in foster-care, and unprecedented numbers of U.S.-born children deported with their undocumented parents - get you in the way of fair and humane immigration reform? Answer us that, Obama.
1/31/14 - Reprint with author's email@example.com
January 13, 2014
"The Hermandad Mexicana Humanitarian Foundation launches Radio Hermandad in effort to give voice to the voiceless, the millions of migrant workers, families, and youth who have been shut out of the traditional mainstream and even liberal alternative media outlets in the U.S.," according to Sergio Trujillo, director of Hermandad Mexicana.
Radio Hermandad will be an online radio program produced by Sergio Muñoz Jr. and hosted by Nativo Lopez. While the former has a cultural/artistic and journalistic background, the latter is recognized for his more than 40 years of political involvement in multiple social movements for change in the Mexican and Latino communities. Both share a common desire for the social uplift of their community.
Lopez intends on having program guests representative of different periods, activism, and careers known to him personally from the 1960s and 1970s (student activism of the Chicano Movement); activist attorneys of the 1970s and 1980s; the immigrant rights movement from the 1970s to the present; Latinos in the labor movement from the 1980s to the present; Latinos in academia from the 1970s to the present, the founding of Chicano/a Studies; Latinos and the cultural movement of the 1970s to the present; electoral politics and Latino elected officials from the 1990s to the present; and these will address the relevant issues of the day as well as from their era of active participation in movements for social change.
The first show will host Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo, formerly California State Senator and Assemblyman from Los Angeles, and author of the driver's license legislation and the California Dream Act, amongst 100 legislative bills authored by the guest during his 14 year tenure in the California legislature.
An important focus of the interview will cover the recent city council resolution successfully introduced by Cedillo calling on President Barack Obama to stop deportations and grant protected legal status to all eligible undocumented in the country.
Radio Hermandad will launch its first show on January 10, 2014, which will be podcast on iTunes and posted on numerous other social network sites and aired on other radio outlets to be announced.
@RadioHermandad on Twitter
Play on iTunes: http://bit.ly/JQ7diw
By Reyna Olaguez for South Kern Sol ~ January 25, 2014
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer arrest immigrants at Kern County Courthouses, announced a top ICE official on January 10. The moves comes after the American Civil Liberties Union complained that immigration officials were arresting undocumented immigrants while they were using courthouse services, like paying traffic tickets.
ICE officials will now only arrest undocumented immigrants at the courthouse in “exigent” circumstances, according to Thomas Homan,Executive Associate Director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The decision puts an end to deportations that are put into motion after an immigrant appears at the courthouse to pay fines, attend a court hearings, or get married.
“These arrests have impeded residents from complying with the law and accessing essential court services, and deterred them from doing so in the future,” wrote ACLU attorney Michael Kauffman, in a letter written to ICE on Oct. 17.
Obeying the law is important to Gema Perez, 48, a mother of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, who said it saddened her that people could be arrested for “just trying to be in good terms with the law.”
Sergio Villatoro, one of the detained immigrants cited by Kauffman in the letter to ICE, was at the courthouse waiting to pay a traffic ticket for driving without a license when ICE agents entered the building, blocked the exits told the five other Latino individuals who were there that they were being arrested for being the country illegally.
In October, South Kern Sol reported the case of a young woman who was deported after trying to pay a ticket for a ‘broken’ taillight.
Kern County resident Jesus Perez was also deported after appearing at the courthouse, leaving behind his 22-year-old daughter, Blanca Perez. Perez said she was happy about ICE’s decision to halt arrests at the courthouse.
“I think it’s great news, it allows people to come out of the shadows and it will allow people to exercise their rights. Now people can speak up,” says Perez.
One South Kern resident said he considers the ICE announcement a victory.“It is a great triumph for the immigrant community of Kern County who has been experiencing harassment and wrongful arrests of innocent people by ICE,” says Daniel Jimenez, 22.
WASHINGTON — House Republicans are preparing to unveil their own broad template for overhauling the nation’s immigration system this week, potentially offering a small opening for President Obama and congressional Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation before the end of the year.
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders are expected to release a one-page statement of immigration principles this week at their annual retreat in Cambridge, Md., according to aides with knowledge of the plan. The document is expected to call for border security and enforcement measures, as well as providing a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, the aides said.
The Republican effort comes as Mr. Obama is expected to push once again for an overhaul of the immigration system in his State of the Union address Tuesday, and as lawmakers from both parties describe immigration as one of the few potential areas for bipartisan compromise before the end of the current Congress.
“The principles they lay out I’m sure won’t satisfy everybody,” Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, said at an immigration forum on Friday. But, he added, “if we can make some compromises here for the good of the country, I think we have a very good chance for the first time in a long time of changing something that is really damaging all of us.”
The Senate, led by Democrats, passed a broad bipartisan measure in June to overhaul immigration that included a 13-year path to citizenship. But the legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled House, where some of the party’s more conservative members oppose any form of legal status as “amnesty.”
But heading into the three-day Republican retreat, even some of the most ardent conservatives say consensus is forming around an immigration package that would include several separate bills on border security; a clampdown against the hiring of undocumented workers; expanded guest-worker programs; a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the country as children; and a path to legal status for undocumented workers with family ties to citizens or employer sponsors.
The White House has said it wants a path to citizenship for both children and adults in any new immigration legislation.
“The president’s pathway to citizenship is a stumbling block,” said Representative Andy Harris, a conservative Republican who represents the Maryland district that will host the retreat. “But legalization with no path to citizenship can gain some votes.”
Representative Peter T. King, a Republican of New York and a longtime critic of proposals to change the immigration system, said it was significant that both the third-ranking Republican in the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, and the Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, had voiced support in recent days for legal status for some immigrants living in the country illegally — and have taken very little heat for their remarks on either side of the aisle.
But the divisions that have slowed progress in the House have not been entirely mended. Representative Raúl R. Labrador, a Republican of Idaho and once a leading immigration negotiator in the House, said it would be a mistake to push forward.
“The president has shown he’s not willing to work with us on immigration,” Mr. Labrador said. “It’s not worth having a party divided when we have so many issues we can come together on.”
On Thursday, aides to House conservatives who oppose the leadership’s plan gathered in the office of Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and a fierce opponent of the immigration push, to plot a strategy to torpedo it.Critics worry that House Republican leaders and Senate Democrats are essentially negotiating a final deal, bypassing formal House-Senate negotiations, where conservatives had hoped to derail the process. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, one of the Democratic architects of the Senate bill, said: “One thing is certain, just as with the budget, at some point both the House and the Senate will have to sit down and resolve all the contentious issues.”
Convocatoria a conferencia de prensa, Viernes 24 de enero a la 1:00 pm
Contactos de prensa:
Angela Sanbrano (323) 371 73 05- Red Mx
Armando Vázquez-Ramos (562) 430 55 41- Centro de Estudios California-México
Bertha Rodríguez (213) 908 98 35 Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales
A unos días de que el presidente Barack Obama rinda su informe a la nación, oficiales electos de California se suman al llamado de organizaciones pro inmigrantes para que el presidente detenga las deportaciones y extienda un estatus de protección a las familias indocumentadas.
El senador Ron Calderón es el legislador que recientemente anunció su respaldo a la causa migrante, sumándose al concejal de Los Angeles, Gil Cedillo y David Chiu, presidente de la Junta de Supervisores de San Francisco, quienes han presentado resoluciones ante sus concilios respectivos, para pedir al presidente Obama una solución a la crisis humanitaria causada por la separación de las familias a causa las deportaciones.
La resolución de San Francisco, que será sometida a votación el 28 de enero, incluye una moratoria al e-verify.
Ambos funcionarios electos harán declaraciones a los medios de comunicación este viernes 24 de enero durante una conferencia de prensa programada a las 13:00 horas en en la galería del Instituto Cultural Mexicano, localizado en la Placita Olvera (125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90013).
Se espera que el Senador Estatal de California Ron Calderón presente próximamente una resolución ante el Caucus Latino y después al pleno del congreso estatal para pedir al primer mandatario que ante la falta de acuerdo legislativo a nivel federal, él con su poder ejecutivo declare un alto a las deportaciones y extienda la acción diferida a millones de personas sin documentos.
Integrantes de la Campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias, declararon el 24 de enero como el Día Nacional de Acción para proteger a las familias frente a las deportaciones, haciendo pública una carta abierta al presidente Obama en respaldo a la iniciativa de los representantes federales Raúl Grijalva e Yvette Clark quienes el 5 de diciembre publicaron una misiva hacia el presidente pero que hasta el momento no ha recibido repuesta.
Se espera que más ciudades, se sumen al movimiento que busca un alivio a la situación migratoria que afecta a más de 12 millones de personas indocumentadas en Estados Unidos.
La carta abierta a Obama argumenta que cientos de miles de niños nacidos en Estados Unidos han sido deportados junto con sus padres indocumentados y que decenas de miles de menores han quedado bajo custodia de los departamentos locales de servicios sociales y dejados en centros de adopción, a expensas de altos costos para los contribuyentes.
“Señor presidente, el 28 de enero del 2014, otorgue estatus legal protegido a todos los inmigrantes elegibles para la legalización, comience con su proceso de legalización como lo ha hecho con los “dreamers” y con ello ponga fin a las deportaciones”, le piden los miembros de la campaña.
En las próximas semanas, la legislatura de California discutirá la aprobación de la resolución SCR 25 que pide al presidente Barack Obama suspender las deportaciones y otorgar protección legal a las familias migrantes que actualmente se encuentran en el país sin documentos, anunció el senador Ron Calderón en Los Angeles en una conferencia de prensa realizada el viernes.
Calderón fue respaldado por los concejales Gil Cedillo de Los Angeles y Mike Gipson, de Carson, así como líderes religiosos de diferentes iglesias y representantes de una coalición de organizaciones pro inmigrantes que llevan a cabo la campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias.
El 23 de enero, el senador demócrata por Montebello, presentó la resolución SCR 25 ante la cámara de senadores con lo que dicha iniciativa seguirá un proceso de audiencias y aprobación en el congreso estatal.
Calderón explicó que por tratarse de un tema que requiere una acción de emergencia podría ser considerada en las próximas semanas en ambas cámaras.
“El presidente tiene la autoridad legal, él tiene la obligación moral de prevenir que los ciudadanos del mañana sufran debido a la inacción política y tenemos que hacer algo al respecto hoy mismo”, señaló Calderón.
Dijo que bajo la administración del presidente Obama se han deportado a más de 400 mil familias cada año, es decir, más de mil personas son separadas de sus familias todos los días. “Esto tiene que terminar, ocupamos una reforma migratoria humanitaria que proteja y mantenga a las familias unidas, es vital que el estado de California tome una posición formal que proteja a los niños y familias de nuestro estado”.
Alrededor de 10.3 millones de inmigrantes radican en California, de los cuales unos 2.6 millones carecen de documentos legales.
Calderón señaló que el aumento en las deportaciones y la existencia de un sistema de migración que no funciona, exacerba las condiciones de vida de menores estadunidenses cuyos padres han sido deportados.
“Separar a los niños de sus padres sin tomar en cuenta que son ciudadanos siempre resulta en consecuencias severas para los niños quienes son dejados sin guía y protección de sus padres, y en situaciones financieras altamente inestables”, dijo.
“Mi resolución exhortará al presidente Obama a cesar las deportaciones y la legalización de migrantes que califiquen, y expande un estatus de protección a todos, (que sería como) la expansión del DACA u otro remedio administrativo”.
Expresaron su apoyo a los migrantes, el sacerdote católico Richard Estrada, el rabino Jonathan Klein, el pastor de la iglesia metodista unida de Echo Park, David Farley, la pastora Nancy Frausto de la iglesia episcopal Saint Mary y el reverendo Francisco García del ministerio de Paz y Justicia de la Iglesia de Todos los Santos de Pasadena.
Los líderes religiosos, al igual que los funcionarios electos, respondieron al llamado de la campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias, encabezada por Armando Vazquez-Ramos, Nativo Lopez, Angela Sanbrano, Gonzalo Santos, el padre Richard Estrada y otros integrantes de organizaciones por los derechos de los migrantes.
La directora ejecutiva de la Red Mexicana de Líderes y Organizaciones Migrantes (Red-Mx), Angela Sanbrano indicó que la crisis humanitaria desatada por las deportaciones afecta a “padres, madres, hermanos, hermanas, niños, niñas y abuelos que están siendo separadas del seno familiar, la estructura más sagrada de nuestra sociedad”.
Los organizadores de la campaña esperan que en estos días las ciudades de Sacramento, San Francisco y Chicago pasen resoluciones similares a la aprobada en Los Angeles el 18 de diciembre pasado, con la resolución presentada por los concejales Gil Cedillo y Curren Price.
El concejal Gil Cedillo dijo que el estado de California es uno de los estados modelo en donde se han aprobado varias leyes a favor de protección al medio ambiente, a las familias migrantes “y todas las acciones han sido emuladas en toda la nación y el mundo”.
Comentó que como lo ha demostrado el gobernador Jerry Brown, al aprobar leyes que reconocen los derechos de los migrantes, éstos deberían trabajar aquí legalmente.
Agregó: “Hemos hecho casi todo lo que podemos en California para mejorar la calidad de vida, la dignidad que los migrantes merecen y ahora ese el momento de que el presidente actúe”.
Mike Gipson, concejal de Carson dijo que el concejo de su ciudad va a aprobar próximamente una resolución en apoyo a los migrantes.
“Tenemos que hablar como una sola voz para que nuestro presidente entienda que esto nos afecta a todos, y que ya no se puede dividir a las familias. Vivimos en el país más grandioso del planeta que es Estados Unidos y si no hablamos con la verdad al poder, ¿Quién lo va a ser? Cuenten conmigo”, expresó.
El concejal, quien es parte de la organización Young Elected Officials, propondrá a los 800 legisladores de todo el país que son miembros del grupo, que aprueben resoluciones similares. La organización se caracteriza por estar formada por políticos jóvenes de hasta 18 años de edad.
Gonzalo Santos, de la Coalición de Kern por una Ciudadanía dijo que su organización y otras del área lograron presionar para que agentes del ICE dejaran de detener a las personas que acudían a la corte de Bakersfield a realizar trámites como el pago de multas por violaciones de tráfico y casamientos, entre otros.
Como madre de familia afectada por las deportaciones, Rosa María Carmolinga habló del dolor que la política migratoria ha causado a los suyos.
Su esposo es ciudadano y ella residente pero su hijo, quien fue traído a Estados Unidos desde los siete años carecía de documentos legales.
El joven (padre de cuatro menores estadounidenses) se encuentra en el centro de detención de Adelanto por haber intentado reingresar al país, después de ser deportado luego de revelar su estado migratorio al recibir una infracción de tránsito por no llevar puesto el cinturón de seguridad.
“Por favor, señor Obama, antes que ser presidente, usted es un ser humano, mi hijo ha sido afectado (… ) Por favor entienda, un gran presidente tiene que ver por su ciudadanos. A todos sus colaboradores, por favor, a todos los que tengan la oportunidad de detener esta injusticia, si fuera en otra parte del mundo, el presidente Obama hasta enviaría a su ejército a detener esto que nos está pasando, a sus estadunidenses, a sus propios ciudadanos. Si fue a Irak, por favor actúe aquí en Estados Unidos: yo quiero a mi hijo libre este día si es que me escucha y si no, mis congéneres se lo harán saber”.
(*) Coordinadora de prensa de la campaña Protección a Nuestras Familias
By ROXANA KOPETMAN / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER Jan. 21, 2014 ~ Jan. 22, 2014
Southern California Latino leader Nativo Lopez, who had removed himself from the public eye after decades of activism, is back with a new radio podcast aimed at migrant workers, families and youth.
Lopez hosts Radio Hermandad, or Radio Brotherhood, an online English-language radio program available as free podcasts on iTunes.
The weekly show launched on Jan. 10 by Hermandad Mexicana Humanitarian Foundation says it aims to “give a voice to the voiceless,” provide information on immigration reform and other current events while adding historical perspective, with guests representing different periods of the immigrant rights movement.
“As it evolves, the idea is to provide different types of programming, with alternative music, commentary, news and interviews from social movements in Mexico,” Lopez said. “We don’t want to limit it to one type of format or one type of program.”
Though Lopez is active with the new program, he said his involvement in Radio Hermandad is not a return to public life.
“I don’t project or pretend to be a political figure in any organization although I consult with many,” said Lopez, 63, who declined to say where he now resides.
“I’m a private citizen expressing my views,’’ he said, adding he hopes to facilitate others expressing their views through the podcasts.
Lopez was active in immigrant rights issues for more than four decades until he announced in 2012 that he was retiring from public life and resigning from all boards and organizations he was involved with, including his leadership posts at Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, formerly known as Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, as well as the Mexican American Political Association.
Hermandad’s mission is to defend the rights of immigrant workers and families. At the time, he expressed frustration in trying to change “the system” and said he planned “to work from the private side.”
While lauded by many for his advocacy work, Lopez also has been embroiled in several controversies, including issues that led to his recall in 2003 as trustee of the Santa Ana School Board. (A federal appeals court later ruled that the recall was improper because petitions were not translated into Spanish.)
Most recently, he pleaded guilty in 2011 to a felony county of voter-registration fraud related to charges that he lived in Santa Ana when he registered to vote in Los Angeles in 2008. Other controversies included whether Hermandad improperly registered immigrants who were not citizens as voters during a close race in 1996 between Democrat Loretta Sanchez and then incumbent Bob Dornan. No charges were filed in that case.
Last October, Lopez’s long-time work was singled out during a bill-signing press conference with Gov. Jerry Brown, when Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo publicly thanked Lopez for his work on a new law that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.
Cedillo, a former California senator and assemblyman, was the first guest on Radio Hermandad. The second show included Cecilia Muñoz, President Obama’s domestic policy advisor.
The program is produced and co-hosted by Santa Ana resident Sergio C. Muñoz.
Eventually, the show could include programming in native Indian languages of Mexico and be available 24/7 and through other mediums, like iCloud, Lopez said.
“This is my opportunity to have fun in life without all the intense political stuff going on,” he said. “I’m too young to collect Social Security and I don’t fish.”
By: Reid J. Epstein, POLITICO ~ January 21, 2014
The White House is trying to dial down the partisan rhetoric on immigration — and it’s asking its allies to do the same.
In meetings with immigration reform advocates, White House officials have said President Barack Obama won’t threaten to take unilateral executive action — at least not yet — and that he wants to give House Republicans some breathing room to try to pass legislation this year, said immigration advocates who have participated in the sessions.
While Obama is blaming Republicans for blocking the rest of his domestic agenda, and congressional Democrats see immigration as a winning 2014 issue for them if Republicans are seen as the boogeymen responsible for blocking reform efforts, activists in touch with the White House said Obama won’t use his bully pulpit to embarrass or chasten the GOP on immigration. That includes Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.
“You’re not going to see the president talking critically or negatively about Republicans on an issue like this when he wants to see this happen,” said Jim Wallis, president of the Christian social-justice organization Sojourners. “They’re not looking for conflict here, they are looking for cooperation and collaboration.”
The president has softened his language of late. He went from demanding the House pass the Senate’s comprehensive bill to saying at a pre-Christmas news conference that it was “a concept that has bipartisan support. Let’s see if we can break through the politics on this.” Before a Cabinet meeting last week, Obama issued a vanilla reminder that “we know that we need to get immigration reform done — a major piece of unfinished business from last year.” Obama also discussed immigration reform during his Wednesday night session with Senate Democrats, according to the White House.
“I’m not getting the sense that they are going to spend half the speech on this,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said of the White House. “What we’re looking for in the State of the Union is quality and not quantity.”
A White House official declined to discuss the details of the State of the Union address but said Obama will give House Republicans time and space to reach an immigration solution. “We’re focused more on the result and less about the process,” the official said. “If they have to jump through a series of hoops, we’re happy to let the House work its will.”
House Republicans have pledged to issue long-awaited principles on immigration in the coming weeks that would lay out their alternative to the comprehensive reform bill the Senate passed in June. A key sticking point between the forthcoming House GOP principles and the White House and immigration reformers will be placing undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status, rather than citizenship, according to people briefed on the discussions.
Meanwhile, unlike other issues in which Obama is threatening to use executive actions, White House officials are telling immigration activists what the president has been saying publicly for months: Sit tight and stick with us, because there will be no executive action to stop the record number of deportations that has enraged Obama’s more liberal critics.
“We’ve said the same thing privately that we’ve said publicly,” White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne said. “The administration will continue to enforce the law and pursue meaningful legislative reform. The only way to effectively address these concerns to reform the system is for Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform.”
Republicans remain skeptical of the White House approach.
“Playing nice has not been a hallmark of this administration,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “But if we’re going to solve our immigration challenges, the White House and its allies will have to understand that the House is going to take its time and get this done the right way.”
The immigration reformers that deal directly with the White House remain hopeful the president will take unilateral action if it becomes clear there will be no congressional solution.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have the next five months to get something done, and if nothing gets done, it will be an issue that needs to be addressed by the president,” said Eliseo Medina, the longtime union activist who organized the Fast for Families tents outside the Capitol late last year.
At last week’s Cabinet meeting, Obama kicked his all-by-myself theme into high gear, saying 2014 would be a year of executive actions and orders to advance his agenda wherever he can.
“We are not just going to be waiting for a legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” Obama said. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone — and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
The White House and allies maintain Obama’s unilateral action on economic matters doesn’t preclude him from seeking cooperation on immigration. The stance on slowing deportations is roughly the same as it was before Obama announced deferred action for DREAMers in 2012 — outside his legal authority. Politically, doing so would torpedo any chance to get cooperation from congressional Republicans who, after witnessing a host of administrative changes to Obamacare, fear the president would try to alter whatever immigration law passes.
“They seem interested in signaling that if Congress doesn’t act, the president will,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, said of the White House. “On immigration, that’s much more complicated, and they’ve been straining to say, ‘We’re not going to do anything, we don’t have the authority to do anything more.’ If he signals the willingness to do executive authority, it might turn them off.”
Just because immigration-minded groups are not hammering Republicans now does not mean they are disarming. The National Council of La Raza on Thursday is launching an effort to register 250,000 Latino voters in states “where there is potential to advance the national dialogue on issues important to Latinos, such as immigration reform,” the group said Monday.
Obama’s GOP allies on immigration reform are gearing up for their own campaign to back House action. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was once a Republican, is hosting an immigration forum Friday in Washington with Michigan’s GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, former Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Randy Johnson.
Obama, said Jeremy Robbins, the director of Bloomberg’s Partnership for a New American Economy, is working hard to foster cooperative working relationships on immigration, even if White House officials aren’t directly involved in the intra-GOP talks.
“There’s a lot of mistrust, and he has to be careful that he doesn’t set the process back; they’ve been really cognizant of that,” Robbins said.
Obama can offer Republicans an olive branch on immigration without offering any new agenda, Sharry said, by reiterating his willingness to endorse the piecemeal agenda House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seeks.
“It’s a sign of flexibility without giving away anything,” Sharry said.
Explicitly backing a House piecemeal approach would allow Obama to advance the cause of reform without discussing executive actions to slow deportations demanded by his progressive base.
Obama faced down an anti-deportation heckler at a San Francisco event in November, and last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — Obama’s strongest House ally — said during a Univision interview she doesn’t “see any reason for these deportations.”-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please share with all your contacts the letter to President Obama that we have sent on behalf of the Protect our Families Campaign.
Please use this information to request any elected official that you know may be interested in proposing a resolution in a city council, county or school board, based on the Cedillo Resolution and/or the S.F. Board of Supervisors Resolution.
As a cover letter template, you may use our letter to Senator Ricardo Lara requesting the California Latino Legislative Caucus to also adopt a resolution.
Saludos and best wishes to all in 2014 !
El profe Armando----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Whether or not Congress enacts immigration reform in 2014, the status quo is unacceptable. More than 1,000 immigrants are separated from their families and communities each day. The Obama administration has both the legal authority and the moral responsibility to prevent tomorrow’s citizens from suffering the consequences of political inaction.
“Administrative relief,” which is based on prosecutorial discretion, is a broad term that encompasses various forms of temporary relief from removal from the United States without the granting of a legal immigration status. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) prosecutorial discretion powers include the ability to refrain from placing a potentially deportable person in deportation proceedings, suspend or even terminate a deportation proceeding, postpone a deportation, release a person from detention, or deprioritize the enforcement of immigration laws against a person because it does not serve enforcement interests.
Some forms of prosecutorial discretion include a grant of work authorization—a critical need for many members of immigrant communities. Eligibility for work authorization should include more categories of people, such as people whose removal cases have been administratively closed.
DHS has the capability to expand its prosecutorial discretion guidelines.[*] There are several existing forms of prosecutorial discretion, including existing DHS administrative remedies, that can be expanded. This table also describes some forms of discretionary relief that are based on the immigration statute, such as temporary protected status (TPS).
To access the table, whose categories are "Form of relief," "Description," "Authority for relief," "Who is eligible?," "Is a work permit available?," and "Example," click here or on the PDF icon, above.
WHEREAS, any official position of the City of San Francisco with respect to legislation, rules regulations, or policies proposed to, or pending before a local, state or federal government or agency must have first been adopted in the form of a Resolution by the Board of Supervisors with the concurrence of the Mayor; and
WHEREAS, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2011, there were 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States; and
WHEREAS, deportations have reached record levels under President Obama, rising to an annual average of nearly 400,000 since 2009; and
WHEREAS, according to Congress members Raul M. Grijalva and Yvette Clarke, although the Obama Administration reportedly prioritized deporting only criminals, many individuals with no criminal history have been consistently deported; and
WHEREAS, increased deportations and a continuously broken immigration system exacerbate the living conditions of U.S. citizen children whose parents have been deported; and
WHEREAS, separation of children from their parents, irrespective of immigration status, always results in severe consequences for young children who are left with no parental guidance or care and a highly unstable financial situation; and
WHEREAS, as immigration continues to be at the center of national debate, President Obama and Congress must implement a more humanitarian immigration policy that keeps families together and respects the right of all workers to support their families; and
WHEREAS, California is home to approximately 10.3 million immigrants of which approximately 2.6 million are unauthorized to live in the U.S.; and
WHEREAS, many members of Congress recently signed a letter requesting President Obama to suspend any further deportations and extend Deferred Action; and
WHEREAS, over a thousand undocumented workers have been fired from their jobs in San Francisco -- including hundreds of janitors -- by means of I-9 audits and the use of the E-Verify system, both of which are methods for enforcing employer sanctions; and
WHEREAS, firing these workers has caused immense hardship on San Francisco families and children, driving them into the underground economy, increasing unemployment, poverty and homelessness, and creating an atmosphere in which workers fear to protest low wages and bad conditions; and
WHEREAS, President Obama and his administration has the power to discontinue this brutal method of enforcing immigration law by ending the practice of using I-9 audits and E-Verify to identify workers without documents in the workforce, and then sending lists of those workers to employers, ordering employers to fire them, and
WHEREAS, San Francisco is home to large number of undocumented immigrants from all parts of the world, the City should therefore make it a priority to keep families together and continue to press Congress and President Obama for a solution to our broken federal immigration system that includes a fair legalization program and an end to employer sanctions;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, with the concurrence of the Mayor, that by adoption of this Resolution, the City of San Francisco, hereby includes in its 2013-2014 Federal Legislative Program SUPPORT for administrative action to (1) suspend any further deportations of unauthorized individuals with no serious criminal history, (2) extend Deferred Action to all eligible undocumented members of immigrant families, and (3) stop the firings of undocumented workers by stopping the I-9 audits and the use of the E-Verify system.
California back on growth path, but North Dakota sets the pace
By Michael A. Memoli, L.A. Times ~ December 30, 2013
WASHINGTON -- North Dakota’s population boom, driven by the state’s thriving oil and gas industry, continued in 2013, expanding at nearly twice the rate of the next-fastest-growing state, according to new census estimates released Monday.
The West and South continued to drive population growth nationally, accounting for more than four in five new residents, while growth in the Northeast and Midwest continued to lag behind.
Population estimates are eagerly watched by state officials since they determine the flow of money into many federal programs and, ultimately, representation in Congress. The number of representatives each state has in the House gets readjusted each decade.
California (38,332,521) and Texas (26,448,193) remain the nation’s most populous states, with New York (19,651,127) narrowly maintaining its third position over Florida (19,552,860) as of July 1. The Sunshine State will soon surpass New York, if it hasn’t already, because its population grew three times faster, according to the census estimates, which are based on data measuring births, deaths and migration.
California’s population growth again outpaced the national trend, with an increase of 332,643 year to year, or 0.9%. Texas actually saw a greater raw population increase, however, expanding by 387,397.
North Dakota’s population stood at 723,393 on July 1, according to the census data, a 3.1% increase from 2012. Since the 2010 census, North Dakota’s population has grown 7.6%, far outpacing the national growth rate of 2.4% during that period.
Population in the District of Columbia also grew at a sustained clip, rising 2.1% year to year to 646,449. Utah grew next fastest, at a rate of 1.6%, followed by Colorado (1.5%), Texas (1.5%) and Nevada (1.3%).
West Virginia and Maine actually saw slight population declines in the last year. Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Vermont and Illinois posted the slowest population growth, all at or near a tenth of a percentage point year to year.
The national population stood at 316,128,839 on July 1, an increase of 2.3 million, or 0.7% from the previous year. Population growth in the South accounted for half of all population growth nationally, though the West grew at a slightly faster pace in the last year.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
December 19, 2013
Every Removal has a Personal Story The administration will attempt to paint people caught at the border as unknown, suspicious, and undesirable. But frequently they are people who were trying to return to their families after travelling across the border to attend a funeral or a birth. Perhaps they are people trying to return home to the US. The White House says it prioritizes “egregious immigration offenders” and “recent border crossers,” which begs the question: how many of these are people whose families are divided between countries and separated by broken policies? How many people reentering are simply trying to come back to children they love?
White House Deportation Policy is Politically Motivated and Morally Indefensible It’s clear that the President’s dual position of “deporter-in-chief”and champion-of-reform is untenable and mutually exclusive. It’s universally accepted--and confirmed by today’s report--that the president has discretion when it comes to immigration enforcement. The fact that he hasn’t fully exercised this discretion reflects the limitations of his political calculus not his legal authority. The White House has sought to blame and appease nativists at the same time: blame them for blocking reform while appeasing them by expanding the criminalization of immigrants and a culture of suspicion. The politics are changing though, as it is unpopular to be responsible for separating families. However, the policies just aren’t changing fast enough. To accelerate the process, the President needs to reverse the deportation apparatus he’s built in the past five years and expand relief so that people don’t have to worry about being one of the statistics reported today.
Ju Hong Was Right: President Obama Has Discretion to Reduce Deportations AND Expand Relief If the numbers can be lowered in the fifth year of his administration, they could’ve been lowered in the first. The President’s hands are not tied. Today is evidence that he has options when it comes to the suffering caused by deportation. Removal numbers can go down further, and deferred action eligibility can expand. The President still has to answer for the hundreds of thousands of families he has already separated. And looking forward, especially with a new DHS Secretary, the administration needs to clearly define its goals for enforcement and discretion, and it needs repudiate the deportation quota once and for all.
Numbers Will Go Up and Down, but Criminalization has Been Woven into Fabric of this Administration As we’ve witnessed, deportation numbers can be driven up or down based on the political whims of the administration and Congress. But what’s consistent is the path of criminalization paved by the Obama White House during its tenure. By prosecuting re-entries as criminal felonies, entangling local police in immigration enforcement through the Secure Communities deportation quota program, and perpetuating a narrative of “deserving and undeserving” immigrants, the administration has transformed the landscape of immigration policy in Sheriff Arpaio’s image.
President Obama will have to decide: Is his legacy Arizona or California? The President has the authority today to sever ICE’s ties with demagogue sheriffs and states like Arizona, where SB1070's Section 2(b) (the infamous “racial profiling” section) is still in effect. At this point, with demonstrable rights violations, continued collaboration marks the Obama Administration as an accomplice wherever it continues to empower racist law enforcement. Whatever political gains the President made by distinguishing himself from Arizona 1070 supporters are now over. In fact, his own policies now resemble Arizona's more than other places. In the weeks ahead, California will implement its TRUST ACT to put brakes on S-Comm in the state. Will the President's next move bring him closer to California (and his own rhetoric), or will he continue the Arizonification he started with Napolitano?For More information, please contact B Loewe: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Steven T. Dennis, Roll Call ~ Jan. 7, 2014
President Barack Obama is heading into the next year looking in many ways past a gridlocked Congress — eyeing regulations and other ways of acting on his stalled agenda.
A senior administration official held a deep background briefing for reporters Tuesday, under the condition that no direct quotes would be reported.
The official said that while Congress is important — and the president still hopes to pass an immigration overhaul, an unemployment benefits extension and assorted other measures in the coming year, such as a surface transportation bill — he will increasingly look to his pen to take executive actions and his phone to advocate efforts aside from legislation.
That includes pushing forward on the president’s climate change agenda, which includes a crackdown on carbon emissions from power plants.
The executive action push isn’t particularly new, of course — the administration has been talking up executive actions since the Republicans took back the House in 2010.
But the renewed emphasis comes after numerous presidential legislative initiatives crashed and burned in 2013 — yielding perhaps more realism inside the White House of its prospects for success in a divided government.
Heading into the Jan. 28 State of the Union address, the president will be focusing in the coming few weeks on trying to finish up last year’s unfinished business, including unemployment benefits. He will also be unveiling his recommendations for revising the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. He is set to meet Thursday with lawmakers to discuss the topic.
There remains hope in the White House that House Republicans will ultimately agree to pass an immigration bill this year, but the official said GOP leaders will have to decide whether they want to do it. The president will keep pushing the issue but will not be beating Speaker John A. Boehner up every day to pass the Senate bill. The goal is to give the Ohio Republican space to find a way to get it done.
The official said that the president continues to have strong support from his political base but has lost 5 to 7 points since Election Day, largely from moderates. He pointed to the government shutdown, the Affordable Care Act website’s woes and the NSA issue as distractions from what the public wants the president’s focus to be on: the economy and jobs.
And Obama’s poll ratings are still better than other leaders and institutions in Washington, despite the fact that a recent Gallup poll showed the president dropping from a high of 52 percent favorability at the beginning of 2013 to a low of 41 percent.The official also downplayed the possibility of more sweeping White House staff changes to come at the start of the year, including any purge of officials involved in the rollout of the website. The focus remains on improving implementation of the health care law and ramping up outreach efforts now that the website has dramatically improved from where it was Oct. 1.
Por: Redacción / Sinembargo - Diciembre 25 de 2013
Nueva York, 25 Dic (Notimex).- El número de mexicanos que purga sentencias en Estados Unidos por delitos relacionados con la migración se disparó en los últimos años, y en la actualidad son 17 mil 720 los que están en prisión, revelaron cifras del gobierno estadounidense.
La Oficina de Estadísticas de Justicia (BJS, por sus siglas en inglés) precisó que el número de mexicanos en prisiones federales por delitos migratorios se incrementó de dos mil 74 en 1994 a 17 mil 720 en el año fiscal 2010, último periodo del que hay cifras disponibles.
Los mexicanos representan el 78 por ciento de todas las personas sentenciadas en Estados Unidos por delitos migratorios, cada una de las cuales recibe una condena de 15 meses en promedio.
La vasta mayoría de los delitos migratorios son por ingresar o reingresar de manera ilegal al país (90 por ciento), seguido por contrabando de personas (cerca del 10 por ciento) y fraude con visas (menos de 1.0 por ciento), según el gobierno estadunidense.
El porcentaje de personas en cárceles federales por delitos migratorios también se disparó en Estados Unidos respecto al total de reos, debido a que eran 19 por ciento de todos los convictos en el año 2000, mientras que en 2010 eran el 29 por ciento.
Ese repunte hizo que el número de personas sentenciadas por delitos migratorios en 2010, un total de 28 mil 589 individuos, sea ligeramente menor que el de convictos por crímenes relacionados con drogas.
La cifra de convictos por crímenes migratorios en prisiones federales es independiente de las personas que no enfrentan cargos penales, pero que se encuentran en centros de detención por haber ingresado sin documentos a Estados Unidos.
En promedio, al día 34 mil personas permanecen en centros de detención en Estados Unidos o en las camas alquiladas por la Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés) a una red de más de 200 cárceles estatales o del condado.
La gran mayoría de las personas en centros de detención son de origen mexicano y pasan un promedio de 33.5 días confinados.
Organismos civiles como Detention Watch Network han denunciado que en los centros de detención y en las prisiones en que se mantiene a individuos acusados de crímenes migratorios, abundan los abusos.
Informes dan cuenta de falta de acceso a nutrición y a ejercicio apropiado, cuidado médico, materiales legales y educativos, teléfonos y visitas, también documentan que “son comunes los reportes de abuso sexual y físico, privación del sueño y aislamiento”.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EU gasta más en vallas contra migrantes, armas y drogas, que en la FBI y la DEA
Ciro Pérez Silva, Periódico La Jornada, Lunes 23 de diciembre de 2013
Aun cuando el cuantioso presupuesto del gobierno de Estados Unidos en materia de seguridad para la frontera con México le permite el uso de la tecnología más elaborada como el uso de aviones no tripulados (drones), cámaras y detectores de calor, entre otros, las vallas que ha levantado para intentar frenar la migración irregular, el tráfico de armas o de drogas, continúan siendo el emblema de esta política de seguridad fronteriza.
Desde hace varios años ese país gasta más en la política de migración que en el resto de las principales agencias federales de aplicación de la ley penal combinadas, con casi 18 mil millones adjudicados en el año fiscal 2012. Esto es 24 por ciento más alto que el gasto colectivo para el FBI, la DEA, el Servicio Secreto, el servicio de Marshals y la Oficina de Alcohol, Tabaco, Armas de Fuego y Explosivos,
Y si elegir un nuevo elemento electrónico para detener el flujo de migrantes en la frontera con México requiere un análisis presupuestal, de conveniencia técnica y estratégica, el análisis para elegir un elemento tan simple como una valla, no lo es menos.
Según la página de la Patrulla Fronteriza existen formalmente cuatro tipos básicos de vallas, aunque su combinación puede dar lugar a 22 estructuras, que van de una malla similar a la que se utiliza en los gallineros hasta la conocida como Normandía, réplica de las que utilizaron las fuerzas de Adolfo Hitler para intentar detener el desembarco de los aliados el día D, justo en la costa de esa ciudad del noroeste de Francia.
Para decidir qué tipo de valla hay que levantar, se ponderan elementos como montañas, ríos, bosque o desierto, así como otras características geográficas y climáticas. Para auxiliarse en la selección de materiales y diseño, los estadunidenses recurren a un apartado conocido como Toolbox Fence, que despliega la gama de posibilidades para detener el paso de los migrantes, narcotraficantes y posibles terroristas, entre otros.
Pese a que todo este esfuerzo no ha impedido que el flujo de migrantes, armas y droga continúe, el éxito de todas las medidas en su conjunto es altamente promovido en el Informe de Inmigración y Control de Estados Unidos.
Como ejemplo señala que más de 4 millones de personas, la mayoría inmigrantes sin papeles, han sido deportados de Estados Unidos desde 1990, con 30 mil 39, y 391 mil 953 repatriados en el año fiscal 2011.
Menos de la mitad de los deportados se retiran tras una audiencia formal ante un juez de inmigración, aunque la mayoría es deportada por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional a través de su autoridad administrativa.El informe de 182 páginas ofrece un análisis detallado del sistema actual de control migratorio que se puso en marcha con la aprobación de la Ley de Reforma y Control de Inmigración en 1986. Describe la evolución del sistema, sobre todo en la era posterior al ataque a Estados Unidos del 9 de septiembre de 2001, en términos de presupuestos, personal, medidas de aplicación y tecnología.
WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has signaled he may embrace a series of limited changes to the nation’s immigration laws in the coming months, giving advocates for change new hope that 2014 might be the year that a bitterly divided Congress reaches a political compromise to overhaul the sprawling system.
Mr. Boehner has in recent weeks hired Rebecca Tallent, a longtime immigration adviser to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has long backed broad immigration changes. Advocates for an overhaul say the hiring, as well as angry comments by Mr. Boehner critical of Tea Party opposition to the recent budget deal in Congress, indicates that he is serious about revamping the immigration system despite deep reservations from conservative Republicans.
Aides to Mr. Boehner said this week that he was committed to what he calls “step by step” moves to revise immigration laws, which they have declined to specify.
But other House Republicans, who see an immigration overhaul as essential to wooing the Hispanic voters crucial to the party’s fortunes in the 2016 presidential election, said they could move on separate bills that would fast-track legalization for agricultural laborers, increase the number of visas for high-tech workers and provide an opportunity for young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children to become American citizens.
Although the legislation would fall far short of the demands being made by immigration activists, it could provide the beginnings of a deal.
For Mr. Boehner, hiring Ms. Tallent suggests a new commitment to confronting an issue that has long divided the Republican Party. Ms. Tallent is a veteran of more than a decade of congressional immigration battles and fought, ultimately unsuccessfully, for comprehensive overhauls of the immigration system in 2003 and 2007.
Although Mr. Boehner’s aides say she was brought on to carry out his views and not her own, advocates of immigration change say the only reason for Mr. Boehner to have hired Ms. Tallent is his desire to make a deal this year.
In addition, immigration advocates say that Mr. Boehner’s end-of-year rant against Tea Party groups — in which he said they had “lost all credibility” — is an indicator of what he will do this year on immigration. The groups are the same ones that hope to rally the Republican base against an immigration compromise, and while Mr. Boehner cannot say so publicly, he will have more room to maneuver on the issue if he feels free to disregard the arguments from those organizations.
Aides continue to say that Mr. Boehner remains opposed to a single, comprehensive bill like the Senate-passed measure that would tighten border security, increase legal immigration and offer an eventual path to American citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Conservatives are staunchly opposed to sweeping legislation that would offer a path to citizenship.
“The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be,” Mr. Boehner told reporters recently. “The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time. I think doing so will give the American people confidence that we’re dealing with these issues in a thoughtful way and a deliberative way.”
Nonetheless, immigration activists say they are hopeful that politics may ultimately lead Mr. Boehner to ignore conservative voices who oppose a path to citizenship. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, who took a hard line on immigration, won only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote — a key reason for his loss to President Obama.
Mr. Obama has in the meantime said he is open to the piecemeal approach on immigration favored by House Republicans, but only if it does not abandon comprehensive goals in legislation that passed the Senate last summer. Reconciling the House approach with the broader ambitions of the Senate bill is the biggest hurdle, strategists in both camps say.
“We’ve got to grab the brass ring while it’s there,” said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “I’ve been in this debate long enough to know you can’t rely on anything happening at a certain time or on assurances that we’re going to do something this year.”
Advocates for an immigration overhaul will start 2014 with a race against the election-season clock and a new campaign aimed at forcing action on Capitol Hill. Civil disobedience demonstrations are planned in Washington and elsewhere. Business groups are readying lobbying blitzes on Capitol Hill. Labor leaders and evangelical ministers are considering more hunger fasts to dramatize what they say is the urgent need to prevent deportations.
The most likely legislative approach, according to lawmakers, White House officials and activists, is a push to pass legislation in the House by May or June — after most Republican lawmakers are through with their primary campaigns — with the goal of reaching a compromise that Mr. Obama could sign before the 2014 midterm election campaigns intensify next fall.
“That’s our first window,” said Jim Wallis, the president of Sojourners, a Christian social justice organization in Washington that is working to change the immigration laws. “We are organizing, mobilizing, getting ready here. I do really think that we have a real chance at this in the first half of the year.”
If a comprehensive overhaul is not completed by summer, strategists say they could make another push during a lame-duck session at the end of the year, after the November elections. If it did not happen then, lawmakers could wait until 2015, although advocates would have to start again in the Senate because the legislation would expire at the end of 2014.
Some party strategists on Capitol Hill remain skeptical about the willingness of Mr. Boehner and the House to embrace changes in the face of conservative critics who say the Senate bill represents amnesty for lawbreakers and does not do enough to seal the border against future illegal immigrants.
“They won’t try to push through something that conservatives can’t live with,” one top Republican aide said.
House Republicans have a retreat scheduled this month, and are unlikely to make any strategic decisions about immigration before then. Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chief House negotiator on the budget compromise, is expected to play a large, if behind-the-scenes, role.
Immigration change advocates continue to demand an end to deportations, many of which have wrenched illegal immigrants from their families. The deportations have energized immigrants, religious leaders and some law enforcement groups behind their current push for legislation.
“I would bet money that it will be done before the presidential election of 2016, but I think there’s a very good chance it will get done considerably sooner than that — in 2014,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and one of the architects of the immigration legislation in the Senate.
The advocates say they are in no mood to wait for something else to interfere. “I’m going to be pushing hard to try to get it done early next year,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who is a proponent of an immigration overhaul. “The earlier the better, I think.”Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Ashley Parker from Honolulu.
Immigration reform’s narrow window for survival
By: Seung Min Kim
January 7, 2014 06:03 PM EST
Immigration reform backers see a narrow window in late spring to push a sweeping overhaul through the House — a goal that eluded them in 2013.
The politics of immigration in the Republican-controlled chamber is still tough — and might be impossible — with many lawmakers opposed to any measure that could be seen as providing amnesty to millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally.
But proponents of an immigration rewrite on and off Capitol Hill hope the tension will ease once Republicans get past primary season and don’t have to worry about challenges to their conservative credentials.
(POLITICO's full coverage of immigration issues)
“For many members, they’d be more comfortable when their primaries are over,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, an influential Republican who has favored immigration reform.
Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said waiting out the primaries makes “perfect sense” — although he’s not convinced that the GOP base is as riled up over immigration as it is over other issues such as Obamacare.
“However, perception is reality, so you have members that are concerned, and the perception is out there that our base does not like this,” Aguilar said.
Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy — the pro-reform group with ties to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — said reform “certainly gets easier” after the primaries pass.
(Also on POLITICO: Obama renews call for Senate immigration bill)
“I think there are multiple viable windows … and that makes us optimistic,” Robbins said, adding that primary deadlines are a “big factor.”
“We are planning all of our organizing around these windows,” he said.
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a broad immigration overhaul last June, but the effort stalled in the House, where Republicans are pursuing a piecemeal strategy of individual bills instead of one comprehensive piece of legislation.
House Republican leaders have said publicly that they still want to take up immigration reform but have not committed to a specific time frame for bringing bills up for a vote. In a memo sent to members earlier this month, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) listed immigration among several issues that “may be brought to the floor over the next few months.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing their own comprehensive immigration overhaul bill that has three Republican co-sponsors, but it isn’t likely to make it to the House floor.
Even if they wanted to, it would be tough to push immigration to the top of the agenda. The beginning of the congressional year is clogged with deadlines for other must-do legislative items such as passing a funding bill to keep the government running and approving a new five-year farm bill.
And another major fiscal deadline looms in late February or early March: the debt ceiling.
The primary season will be in full swing by that point. Though primaries can occur as late as September, most of the filing deadlines for more than 80 percent of sitting House Republicans will have come and gone by the end of April, according to a POLITICO analysis.
Three of the five states with the largest number of House Republicans in their delegations — Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio — will have held their primaries by the end of May. Texas is the earliest, with a March 4 primary. The two others — California and Florida — are where Republican lawmakers generally have been more amenable to an immigration overhaul.
But some Republicans aren’t enthusiastic about waiting out the primary calendar, noting that unforeseen circumstances could take over Capitol Hill’s legislative agenda. That’s what happened last fall when the crisis in Syria, the government shutdown and the fallout over Obamacare demanded lawmakers’ attention.
“I think that’s too cute by half,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Gang of Eight that wrote the immigration bill in the Senate.
But other immigration backers disagree. Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who had labored in immigration negotiations for months with House Republicans, said filing deadlines for primary candidates could be a key factor on the timing for any immigration bills.
“It depends where you are. I know in my delegation, they’re not concerned about primary challengers over immigration,” Yarmuth said. “On the other hand, I think Texas matters.”
Yarmuth was part of the House bipartisan group with two Texas Republicans — Sam Johnson and John Carter – that privately negotiated for months on a comprehensive immigration bill but disbanded in the fall. The two Texans, after facing heat back home during the August recess about their work on immigration reform, announced in September that they were quitting the group.
Republicans have reason to be concerned after watching onetime tea party darling Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) lock arms with four Senate Democrats and three Republicans to craft a sweeping immigration overhaul with a pathway to citizenship — only to see his poll numbers tumble. And that message is being relayed to advocates — one House Republican told a member of the pro-reform U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that it was likely the chamber will move on immigration bills after certain primary deadlines, according to a source familiar with the conversation.
But it’s unclear whether a lawmaker’s stance on immigration will actually matter in a primary.
Several influential outside groups who have muscled their way into GOP primaries in the past few election cycles say immigration isn’t an issue they’re involved in. Officials from the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks all say they plan to stay out of the immigration fight.
Heritage Action is one major conservative advocacy group that has lobbied Capitol Hill against the type of immigration reform that passed the Senate, but the organization doesn’t get involved in electoral politics.
Still, the Madison Project, a conservative organization chaired by former Kansas GOP Rep. Jim Ryun, says it will make sure immigration remains a top issue in key congressional races. The group has already made several endorsements in Senate and House races, most notably backing Milton Wolf, a distant cousin of President Barack Obama, over sitting Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
“Immigration policy is absolutely one of the biggest concerns for conservatives in the coming years, and it will definitely be a make-or-break issue with candidates,” the group’s policy director, Daniel Horowitz, said in an email. “Whereas a few years ago, this issue was basically dormant, it is now something we feel all our candidates must get right.”
There are at least two political groups aimed at backing candidates who take a tougher stance on immigration, but they are not well-known: U.S. Immigration Reform PAC and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
The latter group called for a primary challenger for sophomore Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) after she said in a statement that she favored a legal work status for the millions who are living in the country illegally, while toughening border security.
Now, she faces an intraparty contest from conservative talk show host Frank Roche, who said in a statement that one motivating factor behind his candidacy was Ellmers’s “support for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress.” A campaign spokeswoman for Ellmers said the campaign was not concerned about the role that immigration could have in the primary race.
Though anecdotes of immigration-fueled challenges may be few, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another co-author of the Gang of Eight bill, said of a primary threat: “If it’s in the minds of people, it’s legitimate.”“If it helps to do this after some primary dates are behind us, fine,” said Graham, who expects the immigration issue to surface in his own primary race. “I just want to get the thing done.”
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, NEW YORK TIMES ~ November 26, 2013
President Obama made the case for immigration reform again on Monday, in a speech in San Francisco that seemed mostly directed to Republicans in Congress, who aren’t listening.
Noting the Republican resistance to passing a single comprehensive bill, he struck an oddly lighthearted note. “It’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “We can carve that bird into multiple pieces — a drumstick here, breast meat there.”
This drew chuckles. By suggesting that large-scale immigration overhaul can be done incrementally, he was retreating from an argument that has guided reform advocates for a decade: fixing the broken system requires three things at once — tighter enforcement, an improved flow of new immigrants and legalization for the 11 million living here outside the law.
A comprehensive bill passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan majority five months ago and could pass the House in a heartbeat. But, as long as the House speaker, John Boehner, refuses to allow a vote, it is going nowhere.
With legislation thus stalled and the Obama administration continuing deportations at an unmatched pace, immigration advocates have turned up the pressure with a grave urgency that is not shared on Capitol Hill. The tension is unsustainable. So is the suffering.
In a tent on the National Mall, Eliseo Medina, a veteran of the farmworkers’ movement, Cristian Avila and Dae Joong Yoon have been on a fast since Nov. 12, and they vow to continue to the point of collapse. They point out that their sacrifice does not match that of those living in shadows and lost from their families. Others across the country are fasting in solidarity.
Advocates have prayed at Mr. Boehner’s offices in Washington and Ohio. They have crossed the border and tried to return, offering themselves up to federal agents. They have held vigils at detention centers and tried to block deportation buses.
They have put their lives and futures at risk to push for reforms that a minority is obstructing and to beg Mr. Obama to slow his deportation surge.
One of them, a young man named Ju Hong, interrupted the president on Monday to make his plea. “I’ve not seen my family,” he said. “Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of people. ... ”
Mr. Obama then cut him off and began a misleading ad-lib about how halting deportations would be illegal. While the president cannot throw out whole sections of immigration law to bypass Congressional inaction, he does have discretion in choosing how to enforce it wisely.
Mr. Obama was firmly within the law when he selectively halted deportations for some immigrants brought here illegally as children and for spouses and children of service members and veterans. He can undoubtedly expand administrative efforts to protect other immigrants left stranded by legislative failure.
Mr. Obama said on Monday that he was up for the hard, messy work of reform. “I am going to march with you and fight with you every step of the way,” he said.
But, as he keeps making such promises to people whose family members he is deporting in record numbers while protesting that he is powerless to stop himself, it seems only fair to ask: How hard are you fighting, really?
New York Times Letter to the Editor ~ Dec. 5, 2013
In “Pressure and Passivity on Immigration” (editorial, Nov. 27), you correctly point out that President Obama seriously understates his ability to mitigate the effect of immigration law while he confronts Republican intransigence in the House. But unfortunately, where the administration has exercised discretion, it has too often been on the side of even harsher enforcement.
Data just released by a think tank at Syracuse University reveal that immigration prosecutions reached a record high in the last fiscal year: nearly 100,000 cases. Most of those prosecutions — 55 percent — were for simple illegal entry.
This is no aberration. The administration has set many records, including those for overall deportations, year after year.
No doubt, President Obama has made a political calculation that ramping up deportations and prosecutions will establish his bona fides as he challenges House Republicans on reform. By now it must be clear to everyone that this policy has yielded nothing but more broken families and interrupted lives.
The best way to challenge “know nothings” on immigration policy is to “do something.” The president should use his discretion, carry out a principled immigration policy and let the House Republicans come to him begging for compromise.
ROBERT M. MORGENTHAU
New York, Nov. 27, 2013
The writer is of counsel to Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and a former Manhattan district attorney.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nancy Pelosi pushes Obama on deportations
By Seung Min Kin - Politico - 12/16/13
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out against the Obama administration’s pace of deportations, adding pressure on a president already under fire from advocacy groups for the number of undocumented immigrants who have been removed under his tenure.
In an interview over the weekend with Telemundo’s “Enfoque,” Pelosi said the administration should exercise some discretion about who is being deported. The California Democrat said she has seen deportations that were “totally unjustified” in her hometown of San Francisco.
“Our view of the law is, if somebody is here without sufficient documentation, that is not reason for deportation,” Pelosi said during the interview. “If someone has broken the law or committed a felony or something, that is a different story.”
“When most people are apprehended, they are deported,” she continued. “I don’t see any reason for these deportations.”
Pelosi declined to answer whether President Barack Obama had executive authority to halt deportations – a subject that has triggered legal debate in the immigrant community. Some of her remarks were not aired by Telemundo, but a transcript was released Monday by the DRM Action Coalition, an advocacy group.
A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said her remarks were simply restating her “long-held belief that being an undocumented immigrant is not a basis for deportation.”
Still, the comments could raise the profile of an issue that has become an uncomfortable source of conflict between the Obama administration and immigrant-rights activists.
Immigrant advocacy groups say on average, about 1,100 undocumented immigrants have been deported from the United States every day under the Obama administration. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been more quiet on the administration’s rate of deportations, instead focusing their energy toward pressuring the Republican-led House to move immigration reform bills.
But as reform languishes on Capitol Hill, attention has been turning toward the administration. Earlier this month, 29 House Democrats wrote to Obama asking him to stop deportations for undocumented immigrants who would qualify to become legalized under immigration reform bills, such as the Gang of Eight legislation that passed the Senate in June.
Pelosi said she hoped she would see “action” from Obama as immigrant-rights groups present petitions and letters urging him to halt deportations that would split families. And she said enacting comprehensive immigration reform through Congress would put the issue to rest.
The L.A. City Council just approved unanimously the attached resolution and we’re now poised to get California local legislative bodies to approve similar resolutions.
This is a historic action by the 2nd largest city in the U.S., and we anticipate many other cities to follow the same course of action as called for by the national “Protect our Families” campaign.
In fact, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have scheduled for January 14, 2014 to consider approving a resolution based on the Cedillo resolution approved today.
If you know a local elected official at a personal level, please ask for them to consider providing the leadership role to seek approval of similar resolutions, respectively.
Please confirm if you are able to do that and when it may be possible, before our next meeting.
The “Protect our Families” campaign will meet next Monday, Dec. 23 at 7:00pm in the Gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute at Plaza Olvera (125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, Cal. 90012).
For you reference, we’ve attached other relevant documents useful to draft your own version and let me know if we can provide you any assistance.
Saludos y un abrazo,
BOLETIN DE PRENSA DE LA CAMPANA ‘PROTECCION A NUESTRAS FAMILIAS’
Contactos de prensa de la campaña “Protección a Nuestras Familias” para medios:
Armando Vázquez-Ramos, Centro de Estudios California-México: (562) 430-5541
Angela Sanbrano, Red Mexicana de Líderes y Organizaciones Migrantes: (323) 371-7305
Resolución que pide fin a las deportaciones y acción diferida para indocumentados, es aprobada por el Concilio de Los Angeles
En un hecho histórico, el Concejo de Los Angeles aprobó en el Día Internacional del Migrante, una resolución que respalda la carta de los legisladores Raúl Grijalva e Yvette Clark, firmada por 29 legisladores bipartidistas, que pide al presidente Barack Obama que detenga las deportaciones y extienda la acción diferida a millones de personas sin documentos.
La resolución 130002-S148 fue aprobada con diez votos. Inicialmente fue presentada por Gil Cedillo el 13 de diciembre y el día de la votación fue secundada por el concejal Curren D. Price Jr.
Las organizaciones pro inmigrantes que respaldaron al concejal Cedillo consideran que se trata de un hecho histórico “ya que Los Angeles es la segunda ciudad más grande de Estados Unidos y anticipamos que ciudades como San Francisco, Seattle, San Antonio, Nueva York y Oakland, entre otras ciudades del país, muy pronto adopten medidas similares”, indicó el profesor Armando Vazquez-Ramos, presidente del Centro de Estudios California-Mexico.
La resolución hace un llamado al presidente Obama para poner fin a las deportaciones, pidiéndole “que actúe ahora y expanda el programa de Acción Diferida a todas las familias migrantes que no han cometido delitos serios”, expresó Gil Cedillo.
Antes de la votación, el concejal argumentó que “respetamos el proceso legislativo pero cuando ese proceso no funciona, es un llamado para el liderazgo. El Congreso falló en actuar en este asunto que tiene un impacto sobre once millones de familias; dos millones de personas han sido deportadas y 500 mil de esas familias tienen niños nacidos en Estados Unidos y como consecuencia estos niños están siendo enviados a centros de adopción o incluso son deportados. Esto es una atrocidad y es inaceptable”.
Cedillo agregó: “hoy estamos aquí para pedir que nuestro presidente Barack Obama, detenga las deportaciones y que escuche a los 29 líderes del Congreso así como a las comunidades que le están pidiendo que detenga las deportaciones y que proporcione una extensión de la acción diferida”.
Hizo notar que el presidente Obama no es el mismo hombre que pidió el apoyo de la comunidad latina cuando era candidato. “No es el mismo hombre por el que hice campaña en Texas, Nevada y California; este no es el hombre por el que yo voté como un campeón a favor de los inmigrantes. Tristemente, él se ha convertido en el campeón de las deportaciones”, concluyó el concejal por el distrito uno, de los Angeles.
El concejal Curren Price descató el hecho de que en la administración de Obama se haya registrado un número récord de deportaciones, lo cual está dividiendo a las familias; dijo que es necesario dejar de penalizar a los inmigrantes.
Hijo de inmigrantes mexicanos, el concejal José Huízar dijo que “hasta que no tengamos una reforma migratoria integral que arregle el sistema migratorio que no funciona, que no refleja el espíritu americano y que no ha hecho más que separar a las familias, hagamos algo que arregle esta situación para expandir el Programa de Acción Diferida”.
“Le estamos diciendo al Congreso y al país, que no vamos a dejar este asunto; necesitamos arreglar esas cosas que son inaceptables”, añadió Huízar.
El padre Richard Estrada, quien ha trabajado con la comunidad migrante por 35 años dijo que las deportaciones son algo moralmente equivocado ya que “no es bueno para las familias, para las comunidades ni para la nación. Esto es una vergüenza y ustedes están haciendo lo correcto al pasar esta resolución”.
Reprobó el maltrato que se da a las personas arrestadas por agentes migratorios y que son enviadas a los centros de detención y expresó que son inaceptables las muertes de migrantes en la frontera.
“Dios no quiere que dejemos a nuestro gobierno que siga separando a los niños de sus familias”, indicó el sacerdote católico.
Angela Sanbrano, de Red Mx y parte de la campaña “Protección a Nuestras Familias”, señaló que en todo el mundo se celebra el Día Internacional del Migrante por lo que el 18 de diciembre fue el día apropiado para respaldar la resolución presentada por el concejal Gil Cedillo y Curren Price.
Sanbrano comentó que todos los días, más de mil 200 personas son deportadas causando dolor y sufrimiento a miles de familias; las deportaciones también provocan un gran daño social y económico a las comunidades.
“En los últimos 5 años, el presidente Obama deportó más de dos millones de personas, el mayor número de deportados que cualquier otro presidente en la historia de Estados Unidos”, dijo.
Resaltó el hecho de que el mayor daño que ocasionan las deportaciones afecta especialmente a los niños y jóvenes. “ En los últimos dos años, el 23 por ciento de las personas que fueron deportadas eran padres de niños ciudadanos de Estados Unidos. Muchos niños son enviados a centros de adopción y muchos padres que han sido deportados han perdido la comunicación con sus familias”, señaló.
Rita Medina, de la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes (Chirla) explicó a los concejales que las deportaciones no sólo afectan a las mil 200 personas que diariamente son expulsadas del país, sino que lastima a los niños y a familias enteras, además de afectar a los empleadores.
Intercedió a favor de la resolución y las familias migrantes, especialmente por aquellas personas que no podrán estar con sus familiares en estas fiestas navideñas debido a las deportaciones.
Luego de mencionar que sus abuelos fueron inmigrantes que llegaron de Irlanda y Alemania, el concejal Tom LaBonge comentó que la aprobación de la resolución es un esfuerzo por mantener a las familias unidas y “mejorar este triste capítulo” de las políticas migratorias en el país.
En el mismo sentido se pronunció el concejal Mitch O’Farrell quien destacó la importancia de que a nivel local las autoridades envíen un mensaje a Washington después de que los congresistas fallaron en aprobar una legalización.Los Angeles, CA a 18 de diciembre del 2013 ~ Día internacional del Migrante.
Raúl M. Grijalva, Yvette Clarke, John Delaney, Jan Schakowsky, Del. Eni Faleomavaega, Dina Titus, Mark Pocan, Marc Veasey, Alcee L. Hastings, Mike Honda, Tony Cardenas, Barbara Lee, Lloyd Doggett, Charles Rangel, Rubén Hinojosa, Filemon Vela, John Lewis, Grace Napolitano, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Sam Farr, Sheila Jackson Lee, Rush Holt, Bobby L. Rush, Madeleine Bordallo, Gwen Moore, Beto O’Rourke
We ask that you join us in signing the letter below asking President Obama to expand the successful deferred action program and suspend any further deportations of those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform.
The civil disobedience action on Tuesday, October 8th has shown our commitment to making sure immigration reform is brought to the floor and families stop being separated. Thousands of people, including labor unions and faith groups, joined our effort on Tuesday to underscore the urgent need for House Republican leadership to take concrete action to ensure that the House of Representatives has votes on immigration reform this year. Those affected by deportations spoke at the rally, including Angel Aguilar, an eleven year old boy whose father was deported. Support Angel and children just like him by urging the President to stop deportations while the House works on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The United States is now deporting people at a faster rate than at any time in our modern history, more than 1,100 people per day. Between the years 2008 and 2012, an estimated 1.5 million immigrants were deported. Although the administration has reportedly prioritized deporting only criminals, our broken immigration policy has separated far too many families. According to a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, only 11% of those detained were held for violent crimes.
As we continue our push for immigration reform, and as it is met with opposition, working people should not have to continue to live in fear of separation from their families and our communities. Deferred action would give millions of families the opportunity to contribute to our great nation in a variety of ways. We urge you to join us in building a humane immigration system that addresses our needs as a single society connected by family values, economic needs, and the desire to create a life for ourselves and those we love.
Some of our colleagues worked with representatives from 543 organizations across the nation making this request to the President and we are pleased to formalize it in this letter.
If you would like to join us or have any questions, please contact Christina Partida at email@example.com or at 5-2435.
Raúl M. Grijalva Yvette Clarke
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Dear Mr. President,
The undersigned Members of Congress respectfully request that you expand the successful deferred action program and suspend any further deportations of those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform.
We stand by the 543 faith-based, labor, neighborhood, legal, and civil rights organizations, including the AFL-CIO, MALDEF, United We Dream, and NDLON that support this proposal, and agree that this is the best way to advance the path to citizenship for undocumented individuals across the country.
We appreciate your commitment to reforming our nation’s broken immigration policies for the benefit of all. In the context of the intransigence of a small number of legislators that are willing to hold the legislation hostage unless we pass a series of incredibly extreme proposals, a cessation of the deportation of the 1,100 potential citizens expelled daily would do a great deal to set the parameters of the conversation.
Let us not take these policies lightly. Every deportation of a father, a sister, or a neighbor tears at our social consciousness; every unnecessary raid and detention seriously threatens the fabric of civil liberties we swore to uphold. We are talking about American families and American communities. Criminalizing American families or giving local law enforcement the responsibility to choose who stays and who goes, is not the right option.
Our efforts in Congress will only be helped by the sensible and moral step of stopping deportations.
As we have seen with deferred action for childhood arrivals, such relief brings with it the benefit of active participation in the debate by undocumented people themselves. When their stories are known and voices are heard, we have witnessed how the debate shifts. The fear and xenophobia that block progress only shrink in the display of their courage. But left unchecked, the threat of deportations will prevent so many from coming forward and contributing to the national conversation. Instead, the specter of deportation removes the human and grounding element in any political discussion—those individuals who are most directly impacted.
The senseless opposition that neither reflects the public’s will, nor the moral responsibility we hold, should not allow us to prolong the needless suffering of those who could so soon have their place in our society fully recognized. In fact, taking a strong step toward granting relief would move us in the direction of where the immigration debate rightfully should start, with the legalization of eleven million men and women who call the United States their home.
As the debate proceeds, it is necessary to expand the protections of our future citizens that were established by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and grant it to the family and neighbors and all of those who have made their lives here but are yet to be fully recognized.
We cannot continue to witness potential citizens in our districts go through the anguish of deportation when legalization could be just around the corner for them. We look to you to firmly contribute to advancing inclusion for immigrants by suspending deportations and expanding DACA.
Raúl M. Grijalva, Yvette Clarke, John Delaney, Jan Schakowsky, Del. Eni Faleomavaega, Dina Titus, Mark Pocan, Marc Veasey, Alcee L. Hastings, Mike Honda, Tony Cardenas, Barbara Lee, Lloyd Doggett, Charles Rangel, Rubén Hinojosa, Filemon Vela, John Lewis, Grace Napolitano, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Sam Farr, Sheila Jackson Lee, Rush Holt, Bobby L. Rush, Madeleine Bordallo, Gwen Moore, Beto O’Rourke
California Congress Members not signed-on to Grijalva/Clarke letter to Pres. Obama:
Ways and Means
Energy and Commerce
Energy and Commerce
Education and the Workforce
Energy and Commerce
Ways and Means
Energy and Commerce
Science, Space, and Technology
Energy and Commerce
Ways and Means
Science, Space, and Technology
* MEMBERS ALREADY SIGNED-ON TO GRIJALVA/CLARKE LETTER TO PRES. OBAMA:
||Budget Natural Resources Oversight and
||202-225-5256|| Natural Resources Transportation and Infrastructure
| Lee, Barbara
Third-ranking House Republican tells immigration advocates no House votes this year…
By Donna Cassata, Associated Press, Nov. 8, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The third-ranking House Republican told immigration advocates that lawmakers won't vote this year on the issue, confirming what many had long assumed.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip, said in a meeting with immigration proponents that there weren't enough days left for the House to act and he was committed to addressing overhaul of the nation's immigration system next year. The congressman's office confirmed what he said.
Angelica Salas, the board chairwoman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, described her conversation with McCarthy in a conference call with reporters on Friday and a subsequent interview with The Associated Press. "What he said was, there's 13 days left, it's very hard to do anything in 13 days," Salas said of McCarthy.
The House returns next week after a weeklong break, but only has a few legislative days remaining.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally and tighten border security, but piecemeal bills in the House have languished since the summer.
Salas and about a dozen women occupied McCarthy's Bakersfield, Calif., office on Thursday to increase the pressure on the Republican to move ahead on immigration legislation. Around 11 p.m. that night, McCarthy and his wife, Judy, met with the group protesting the delay.
"He said, 'Ladies, I hear you want to talk to me. This is just not the way to do it,'" Salas recalled. She said McCarthy and the group spoke for about an hour, and the women explained that while they appreciated his support for immigration reform, it was imperative for the House to act as soon as possible. "This is about political will to do what is right," Salas said. "This is what we're challenging."
Most House Republicans reject a comprehensive approach as well as the Senate bill, with many questioning the offer of citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country. The House Judiciary Committee has moved forward with individual, single-issue immigration bills.
Erica Elliott, a spokeswoman for McCarthy, said Friday that he "supports fixing our broken immigration system. He also believes that it is incumbent upon all participants in the debate to work together to address immigration reform on an issue-by-issue basis rather than demanding that any reform only happen in the context of a massive bill that fails to appropriately address the underlying problems plaguing the current process."
Although House Republican leaders say they want to resolve the issue, which has become a political drag for the GOP, many rank-and-file House Republicans have shown little inclination to deal with immigration. The bitter standoff with President Barack Obama on the budget and near default further angered House Republicans, who have resisted any move that might give Obama an immigration overhaul, the top item on his second-term domestic agenda.
Many House Republicans also are wary of passing any immigration legislation that would set up a conference with the Democratic-controlled Senate, fearing the House could lose out in final negotiations.
The Senate bill, strongly backed by the White House, includes billions for border security, a reworked legal immigration system to allow tens of thousands of high- and low-skilled workers into the country and a 13-year path to citizenship for those living here illegally.
The conference call was sponsored by America's Voice, an advocacy group.
Details of McCarthy's conversation comes as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stepped up pressure on the House to act on immigration legislation before the end of the year, calling the issue "a matter of great moral urgency" that cannot wait.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday that he was troubled by reports that immigration reform is delayed in the House since lawmakers have a responsibility to resolve the issue. Writing on behalf of the 450-plus U.S. cardinals and bishops, Dolan said they respectfully request that the House address the immigration issue as soon as possible."As a moral matter ... our nation cannot continue to receive the benefits of the work and contributions of undocumented immigrants without extending to them the protection of the law," Dolan wrote. "Keeping these human beings as a permanent underclass of workers who are unable to assert their rights or enjoy the fruits of their labor is a stain on the soul of the nation."
By Russell Berman, The Hill - 11/12/13
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s phone was ringing. It was President Obama’s chief of staff.
Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the middle of May that was on the cusp of a breakthrough agreement on immigration reform.
Denis McDonough told Gutiérrez that Obama opposed a key concession that Democratic negotiators had made to House Republicans.
Sen. Charles Schumer later called. The New York Democrat, the architect of more liberal legislation from the Gang of Eight that was advancing in the Senate, delivered an even blunter message.
“Stop the progress on the House bill,” Gutiérrez described Schumer as saying. “I want you to stop. You are damaging the Senate proposal moving forward.”
The White House and Senate Democrats did not want a more conservative House plan —designed to pass muster with a Republican majority — to emerge before the Gang of Eight’s proposal had passed on the Senate floor.
Lacking support from party leaders, Democrats in the House group suffered from internal divisions over how far to bend in their bid to reach a deal that could set up a compromise with the more favorable Senate bill.
Tempers flared frequently between Gutiérrez, the colorful Chicago lawmaker revered by immigration advocates, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), a Los Angeles liberal who had risen up the ranks of the Democratic leadership.
Immigration reform is widely seen as dead in this Congress, and the finger-pointing has already started.
Both parties are responsible for the effort’s demise.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), for example, refused pleas from GOP negotiators for a commitment to move the House bill. Republicans could never give Democrats a clear sense of how many GOP lawmakers might support the proposal if it ever reached the floor.
Inside the House Group of Eight, momentum toward a deal slowed as negotiations became bogged down in a dispute over healthcare. By the end of May, the group had lost its self-described conservative hardliner, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who quit despite pleas from top Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), that he stay at the table.
The remaining seven met through the summer, but their moment had passed.
“I think Raúl figured that no matter what happened, we weren’t going to make a deal,” said Gutiérrez, one of four House Democrats in the group. “When he left, everybody said we were still alive, but I didn’t think we were.”
The group’s collapse after more than four years of talks left the House without a bipartisan immigration proposal to rival the Senate bill that passed in June, and a year after Obama’s re-election, the prospects for his top second-term domestic priority are bleak.
Abandoning the legislation in September, Texas Reps. Sam Johnson and John Carter cited a growing lack of trust in the Obama administration’s commitment to implementing the law.
But in a series of interviews with The Hill over the past two months, Democratic and Republican negotiators said the group’s failure stemmed from divisions among Democrats over strategy and policy, as well as Boehner’s refusal to put his weight behind the bill and help steer it through the House.
This account is drawn from extensive interviews with six members of the group and several of their advisers. Some spoke on the condition of anonymity to reconstruct, for the first time, private negotiations that occurred over several years.
ROLLING THE DICE
Leaders in both parties, including Boehner, once had high hopes for the group, which formed before Obama took office in 2009. The Speaker had made clear in public and in private that the House needed to tackle immigration reform after the 2012 election, and he told Republicans he thought the group represented the chamber’s best chance for success.
Ryan, the popular House GOP budget chief and 2012 vice presidential nominee, worked with members of the group behind the scenes and bolstered it publicly with words of support at critical moments.
The group began under humble auspices in 2008, when Becerra approached Johnson, a deep-red conservative and a colleague on the Ways and Means Committee.
Johnson, a respected former POW in Vietnam, had served as a founding member and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee years earlier, and publicly he gave no indication that he would be a deal-maker on immigration. To this day, Johnson’s website boasts that he has “zero tolerance for those who break the rules” and supports an “enforcement-first” policy.
“If you are here illegally, you ought to be deported,” Johnson says in a quote atop the website’s immigration section.
“We vote almost the opposite of each other,” Becerra noted.
But during those early private talks they found common ground on immigration. “Do we want to roll the dice and expand?” Becerra recalled them asking each other. “So we said yes.”
Gutiérrez had been a co-sponsor of bipartisan House legislation during the last major immigration push in 2006-2007. He attended early meetings of the new group, but when he saw the discussions moving to the right, he bolted.
At its peak, the group included more than 20 members. Its hallmark was secrecy.
Meeting over take-out dinners in House conference rooms, the members kept their deliberations hidden not just from the public, but also from the Obama White House.
While Democratic negotiators occasionally updated senior officials and the president was aware of the group, Democrats refused to tell the White House which Republicans were at the table. And even after they drafted and reviewed a 500-page bill earlier this year, lawmakers never showed it to senior White House officials.
In the early months of the Obama presidency, immigration reform fell down the list of priorities, and when the political environment turned toxic over healthcare, Democrats pulled back.
When Republicans won the House majority in the wave election of 2010, the bill was shelved.
“Maybe we should just lay low for a while,” Becerra said he told Johnson.
‘ALMOST ALL OF THE MEMBERS WERE GONE’
For the next two years, members of the group had only informal conversations, but after Obama won a second term in November 2012, he signaled that immigration reform would be a top priority in 2013.
Across the Capitol, Schumer and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) reunited and formed what would be become known as the Gang of Eight.
On the House side, Becerra had become the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking leadership post. He once again approached Johnson, but they quickly recognized a more immediate challenge.
“Almost all of the members were gone,” Becerra said.
Whether by retirement or defeat, several of the negotiators had left the House, and each side went searching for replacements. On the Democratic side, Becerra and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) remained. The Republicans had Carter, Johnson and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), whose brother, Lincoln, was an original member of the group.
To replace the Democrats, Becerra recruited Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and sounded out Gutiérrez, who returned, reluctantly, with a demand that the group soften a provision requiring immigrants in the country illegally to appear in a federal courtroom before they could gain probationary legal status.
The Republicans brought in Labrador, a former immigration attorney who had, in just one term, built a reputation as a conservative firebrand.
An early order of business was changing the initial process for legalization that Carter had crafted.
Under the new process, immigrants would appear instead in an immigration court, where they would formally receive an order of probation to defer the adjudication of their deportation proceeding. Under the terms of probation, they would have to take a number of steps, including the payment of fines, learning English and obeying the law, and they would not be eligible to apply for green cards for at least a decade.
“We had agreed on a process to help transition the undocumented that was rigorous,” Becerra said. “It was tough, but I thought it was fair. It wasn’t an effort to try to treat them as criminals.”
The negotiators operated under the assumption that of the 11 million estimated illegal immigrants now in the U.S., a sizable portion would not make it through the process of legalization.
“We knew that many of them would not pass the test, but we felt that was fair,” Becerra said.
RACING THE SENATE
As winter turned to spring in 2013, the House negotiators — still working nominally in secret —were racing against their much more public counterparts in the Senate to lay down the first marker on immigration reform.
Once the members had settled on a path to legalization, the talks advanced quickly, and some in the group wanted to go public with a framework for legislation, if not a complete bill.
“That was a consideration,” Becerra said.
Ultimately, the Senate Gang of Eight finished first, unveiling its 844-page bill with fanfare on April 16.
The concessions made by Schumer and fellow Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), spilled over into the House talks, where Democrats were forced to drop demands for provisions favored by liberals, such as a diversity visa program prized by the Congressional Black Caucus and by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
“That set a bar,” Yarmuth said of the Senate bill. “We understood that we could not be, whatever provision it was, could not be to the left of the Senate.”
A HARD TRIGGER
To win conservative support, Republicans demanded a “hard trigger” to tie the path to legalization for immigrants to progress in implementing either the border security or interior enforcement parts of the bill. One idea that Democrats rejected was to give immigration enforcement power to state and local law authorities, similar to controversial Arizona legislation that the Supreme Court had partially invalidated.
Democrats instead agreed to a trigger on the employment verification system, known as E-Verify, which could have resulted in immigrants losing their probationary legal status if the new program was not implemented within five years.
In interviews, Democrats said they backed the proposal based on assurances from the White House that the E-Verify program would take a maximum of three years to complete. That would leave as many as four years of extra time, because the clock would not start until the first immigrants applied for probationary status one or two years after enactment of the bill.
Still, Becerra objected to the provision and insisted that the full Democratic leadership weigh in.
“Somebody doesn’t implement E-Verify properly and they’re told, ‘We’re deporting you now.’ I did not agree with that,” he said in an interview.
When the Democrats in the group met with the leadership, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave her approval of the concession, though she went around the room and asked each of the negotiators if they agreed. Gutiérrez, Lofgren and Yarmuth all said yes. Becerra said no.
Gutiérrez confronted Becerra, pointing out that while Becerra was balking at the E-Verify provision as unfair, he had been the one to agree, years earlier, to a legalization path that Gutiérrez had characterized as the “criminalization” of immigrants in the country illegally.
The E-Verify trigger remained in the bill.
“I lost. I lost,” Becerra said.
THE WHITE HOUSE, AND SCHUMER, COME CALLING
Neither the White House nor Senate Democrats were happy. The Senate bill contained no such hard trigger, and with that proposal advancing steadily toward a floor vote, party leaders worried that the introduction of a more conservative House proposal would scare off Senate Republicans — particularly Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) — or cause them to demand similar concessions in the Gang of Eight plan.
“If this proposal had moved forward before the Senate bill passed, there would have been no bill in the House, and no bill in the Senate, period,” a Senate Democratic aide said.
McDonough called Gutiérrez and Lofgren to voice the president’s opposition. Schumer and other Senate Democrats followed suit, urging them, at the very least, to hold off on any announcement before the Senate bill made it off the floor.
“The request wasn’t that the House never move forward, the request was that the House wait,” the Senate aide said. “Democratic senators, the White House, and Leader Pelosi believed that pushing a proposal to the right of the Senate bill before it had even been passed would have sent Republican senators running from the bipartisan process, and would have all but eliminated any hopes of having a path to citizenship at the end of the day.”
The House Democrats refused to make that commitment, but despite pressure from Republicans — including Boehner — to speed up their bill, the negotiations dragged through May and June.
Schumer declined to comment for this article.
Multiple Democrats in the House group said they understood the concerns of McDonough and Schumer, but said the White House never took seriously their warnings that the House GOP would not accept the Senate bill and that the lower chamber needed its own bill to set up a conference committee.
“It is clear to me that there was no strategy on the White House’s part post-Senate victory. Because the Senate victory was the strategy,” Gutiérrez said.
In an interview, the director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz, would not comment on the calls from McDonough, but said the White House needed to be flexible as it dealt with two very different chambers of Congress.
“Our strategy has been focused on getting the best possible vehicles out of the Senate and the House at the earliest possible date,” she said. “That’s been true for a long time and it continues to be true. That also requires some flexibility and fluidity given the dynamics in each chamber.”
While the White House worked with both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Gang, its involvement with the House group was more limited and less formal, in part because Republicans did not want to be seen as negotiating with Obama.
“As we did with the Senate group, we tried very hard to be useful without being heavy handed,” Muñoz said. “And the signals we were getting from the House group was that we needed to give them the space to do their work. That’s what we did.”
Two Texas Republicans were about to take a leap. A big one.
Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson had worked for more than four years to craft a bipartisan immigration overhaul, risking their political reputations to join with liberal Democrats on the kind of legislation that many conservatives reviled.
In the summer of 2013, the 500-page bill was written, reviewed and endorsed by their four Democratic colleagues. But Carter and Johnson needed something more — a commitment from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that the proposal would move and not be left hanging for immigration reform foes like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to use for target practice.
Boehner wouldn’t give it to them.
Time and again, the Speaker’s response was the same: Finish your work, introduce your bill and we’ll see what happens.
“Why should we risk our political capital?” Carter said. “Our leadership is not willing to move forward.”
Back home in their districts over the August recess, the two faced criticism from constituents and conservative groups.
Carter cited the “vitriol” of critics who opposed the very premise of immigration reform.
When lawmakers returned to Washington in September, heated debates over a military intervention in Syria and then a government shutdown consumed the Capitol. The bipartisan group of seven never met again in person. On Sept. 20, Carter and Johnson announced their withdrawal in a lengthy public statement that blamed the Obama administration for its selective enforcement of immigration law and its move to delay the healthcare employer mandate.
“If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed,” Carter and Johnson said. “It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system.”
The exit of Carter and Johnson, two of the group’s original members four years earlier, was the fatal blow for an effort that had already been severely weakened months earlier by the departure of another conservative, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho).
While it was internal squabbles and outside interference that undercut Democrats in the group, it was ultimately a lack of political will that sapped Republicans, according to interviews with negotiators and their key advisers.
“There was a lot of will upfront, and over time that will waned,” a Democrat involved in the talks said.
THE HARD-LINER ENTERS, AND EXITS
Labrador had joined the group in January to replace Republicans who had left Congress since the discussions first began. A sophomore firebrand who had withheld his vote from Boehner for Speaker, he was seen as key to getting support from many of the younger, Tea Party-aligned conservatives elected to the House in 2010 and 2012.
A longtime immigration attorney, Labrador both impressed and infuriated Democrats in the group with his command of, and obsession with, the practical details of the legislation.
“We always had some concerns that he was going to be difficult, but he actually was very constructive in the process,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said.
Labrador embraced the role of hardliner, and he chafed at what he saw as attempts by Democrats to reopen agreements in the bill, on issues like a requirement that immigrants pay back taxes as a condition for legal status, that he thought were settled.
Democrats involved in the talks described him as “explosive” and “volatile” at times, yet they also viewed his expertise on immigration law as invaluable. It was Labrador, for example, who worked with Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) to soften Carter’s original stipulation that immigrants in the country illegally appear before a federal judge before they could receive probationary status to remain in the country.
As the group neared an agreement in the spring, Labrador — who has eyed higher office — drew a bright line on healthcare: immigrants in a probationary status would have to be responsible for their own insurance, and they could not receive any taxpayer subsidies, particularly any offered under the new healthcare reform law.
Democrats had conceded the point, and a provision in the Senate bill explicitly barred immigrants on the path to citizenship from receiving Obama-Care subsidies. But as Labrador demanded even more explicit legislative language, Democrats feared he was using the immigration bill to re-open President Obama’s signature law, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) became concerned that Democratic negotiators were overstepping their bounds by negotiating on healthcare.
The White House also weighed in, with Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough voicing concerns to Democratic negotiators about the healthcare issue.
Pelosi brought in an author of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), and other senior Democrats to help draft language that would satisfy Labrador without creating a scenario in which immigrants could face deportation if they got into an accident or were diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t pay emergency hospital bills.
The two sides exchanged proposals for more than a week, and Democrats even enlisted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to help broker an agreement on healthcare and persuade Labrador to stay in the group. Ryan, the popular House GOP budget chief and a supporter of immigration reform, did try to keep Labrador from leaving, an aide said, but to no avail.
Labrador left in early June, unpersuaded on the healthcare issue and convinced that the White House and Democratic leaders would not allow their negotiators to sign onto a bill more conservative than the Senate’s Gang of Eight proposal.
The remaining seven announced they were moving forward with an agreement in principle, and they set about putting the finishing touches on the bill. But they knew Labrador’s exit had dealt a critical blow, jeopardizing their chances of winning significant conservative support.
MAJORITY OF THE MAJORITY
A preoccupation of the group both before and after Labrador’s departure was the question of how many Republican votes the bill could ultimately garner from the conservative House GOP conference.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) repeatedly assured Republicans that Democrats could deliver a vast majority of their conference — as many as 180 votes, Yarmuth said — if necessary. Republicans couldn’t counter with their own number, an uncertainty that frustrated the Democrats.
“We never whipped it,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said.
Labrador was hoping to achieve a bill that could win 150 Republican votes, a total that Democrats considered a pipe dream and would mean significant losses on their own side.
Diaz-Balart said the goal was always a majority of Republicans, even before Boehner publicly declared in late June that any immigration bill would have to cross that threshold to come to the floor.
“We talked about that a million times — strategy and everything,” Diaz-Balart said. “The fact remained that in order to move legislation in the House, we gotta get the majority plus one. That was just the reality.”
Yet as the weeks dragged on, it became clear to members of the group that the proposal would sink if it were introduced without a firm commitment from Boehner to push it forward.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Boehner in June, and many lawmakers emerged cautiously optimistic. Boehner had reminded them he broke with the Republican Conference in 2005 by opposing immigration legislation favored by hardliners.
But the Speaker made no promises, and members took note that he urged them not to say nice things about him to reporters.
By the summer, Diaz-Balart said, he knew the group’s bill would not win support from a majority of Republicans without more changes. Conservatives regularly raised concerns that they could not trust the Obama administration to implement the security portions of the bill once it announced its unilateral decision to delay the employer mandate in the healthcare law.
“That was what broke the camel’s back,” Diaz-Balart said.
Democrats had long since given up hope on the conservative chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who publicly professed support for immigration reform but advanced piecemeal bills through his panel solely on party-line votes. He said repeatedly he looked forward to seeing the group’s bill, but he wouldn’t commit to giving it a vote in the committee.
“Goodlatte is not working to achieve immigration reform. He is working to scuttle it,” a Democrat involved in the talks said.
Goodlatte declined to comment, but a committee aide said he was “working hard to reform our broken immigration system, starting with enforcement.”
Time and again, Boehner’s response was the same. He wouldn’t go around or pressure Goodlatte, and he wouldn’t deem the group’s bill the official House plan.
Carter and Johnson wouldn’t officially withdraw until September, but Democrats knew the bill was dead.
“Before we left for recess, it was cooked,” Gutierrez said. “It wasn’t even on life support."
Latino leaders silent in the face of immigration policy crisis
By Arturo Carmona, November 12, 2013
Marcela Espinoza and Marco Pacheco stood solemnly as Capitol Hill police arrested them last Monday. The two members of the “DREAM 30”, immigrant students seeking to re-enter the country after being deported or leaving the U.S. voluntarily, were arrested on the orders of a very powerful member of Congress.
One might expect the arrest order to come from one the legions of Republicans (still) committed to angering the more than 55 million Latinos in the country with their opposition to real immigration reform. But instead, the order to arrest Espinoza and Pacheco came from the office of Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), the Latino Democrat who is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The arrest of the immigrant rights activists by one of the most powerful Latinos in Congress is more than just ironic. Rather, it reflects how profoundly the complex politics of immigration reform have changed.
Increasingly, Democrats from President Obama on down, are the object of growing numbers of protests, marches, sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience designed to push Democrats to stop the greatest, most immediate threat to immigrant life: the detention and deportation madness that has led Democrat Obama to become what some are calling “Deporter-In-Chief” and “the worst immigration President in US history.”
And more than any other Democrats, the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and their chairman, Rubén Hinojosa, have a responsibility to lead and pressure Obama and the Democrats away from catastrophic immigration policies.
While not limited to Latinos, the destructive policies of the Obama administration - and the CHC’s obedient silence - have a disproportionate effect on Latinos. The overwhelmingmajority (more than 90 percent) of the 400,000-plus immigrants jailed yearly are Latino.
Eighty six percent of those jailed have no criminal record. President Obama, whose administration (still) labels those immigrants it’s jailing and deporting “criminals”, continues and expands immigration policies that have caused Latinos to become the single largest group jailed in federal prisons.
And then there’s the tragic truth that can’t be muted with hollow calls of “Si Se Puede!” at rallies for an “immigration reform” that has no chance of passing: the overwhelming majority of the soon-to-be 2 million people deported by the administration are Mexican and Central American.
Meanwhile, as the entire immigrant rights community escalates its activism in its call to end this tragedy, Hinojosa and many members of the CHC attack Republicans, get DREAMers arrested, but remain silent before President Obama’s unprecedented devastation of Latinos.
That silence raises important questions for a caucus that’s supposed to represent Latino interests. Why have many (not all) CHC members sat quietly during the greatest immigration crisis of our time, a crisis that disproportionately affects Latinos? Who does the CHC really represent? What can be done to help Hinojosa and the CHC be more than just uncritically loyal members of the Democratic and Republican parties?
While the CHC’s mission and name say it’s supposed to represent Latinos, its members’ refusal to stand up to disastrous immigration policies indicates they represent their parties more than theirpeople. With some exceptions like Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), among others, the Democrats who make up the majority of the Hispanic Caucus, seem unable or unwilling to even pronounce the three words that would make all the difference in immigration reform: “Obama deports millions.”
Instead of simply pointing the finger at obstinate Republicans, Hinojosa and the CHC should pressure Obama, who has caused far more devastation in the lives of immigrants than the most radical Republicans. But you wouldn’t know that from CHC press releases and speeches. Some members, like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), have even gone so far as to accept money from PACs directly linked to the prison industry that profits from the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Latinos with no criminal record.
Though not a member of the Caucus, ranking Latino Republican Senator and major immigration policy shaper, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has also taken money from the prison lobby.
Democrat or Republican, Latino elected officials must represent the interests of their constituents over the interests of the prison lobby or their political party. Failure to do so makes “Latino politics” a lap dog of party politics and the powerful interests that increasingly define them.
We must move away from such a precarious and dangerous situation and towards a Latino politics that responds to the needs of the Latino community. Hinojosa and the CHC must break with internal party protocols and do what’s right: expose Obama’s failed immigration policies and push for change.
We can longer afford to put the party before the people.
Carmona is executive director of Presente.org, the largest national Latino online advocacy organization in the country.
Obama Approval Rating Drops On Economy, Immigration
The Huffington Post | By Ariel Edwards-Levy ~ 11/08/2013
President Barack Obama's approval rating has continued to drop during his second term, according to a Pew Research survey released Friday.
The poll found Obama's approval rating to be just 41 percent, down 11 points since January.
The decline in the president's rating this year has been more gradual than abrupt. Obama's numbers have declined across a variety of issues. His rating on immigration dropped significantly in the past six months, falling from 43 percent in June to 32 percent today.
His approval rating on the economy, which had hovered in the low 40s for most of this year, is now at 31 percent -- the lowest received by Obama or any of his three presidential predecessors, according to Pew.
His approval on health care is at a record low of 37 percent, slightly below where it stood during the 2010 battle over passing the Affordable Care Act. His rating on foreign policy, a winning issue for him until this year, is now at just 34 percent, little changed from September.
A bare majority still approves of the way Obama has handled of the threat of terrorism, the poll found -- the only issue tested for which he did not earn a negative rating.
The downward trend in presidential approval ratings is not without precedent.
"Obama’s second-term job ratings have followed a similar downward trajectory as those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. A year after his reelection, 36 percent approved of Bush’s job performance, down from 48 percent in December 2004," according to the Pew Research report. "In contrast, the two prior presidents who won reelection -- Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan -- enjoyed positive ratings over the course of the next year."
The results align with other recent polling. An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released in late October put Obama's approval at an "all-time low."
Pew Research surveyed 2,003 adults between Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, using live phone interviews.
President Obama needs legacy, GOP needs votes
By ROGER SIMON | POLITICO ~ Nov. 12, 2013
What if Texas starts turning blue due to increase in the Hispanic vote, Simon asks. | Reuters
If you like your president, you’re going to be able to keep him.
In fact, even if you don’t like your president, you’re going to keep him. He’s not like health insurance.
He’s here until Jan. 20, 2017, with no cancellation notices going out in the mail.
The president not only knows this, he has started talking about it. Friday, at a fundraiser in Florida, he said: “I’ve run my last election. And along with the gray hair, what comes with being president is that you take the long view and you start thinking about 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30 years from now.”
Except not really. Barack Obama is an activist president who still has an agenda to pass in his second term, and he is thinking about 10 months, 20 months and 30 months from now.
And in his second term, he wants a big legacy issue, like health care was in his first term. He wants immigration reform and a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers in the United States.
At one time, this did not look so difficult. Politically, immigration reform helps both parties.
It is now clear, however, that there is a group of Republicans in the House, the so-called Kamikaze Caucus, that will vote against anything that Obama wants, even if it helps Republicans, too.
The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration bill, but the House wants to chop it up into separate bills and deal with it piecemeal.
Why piecemeal? Let’s say House Republicans pass a law making E-Verify mandatory instead of voluntary. E-Verify is an Internet-based system used by some employers to determine if a job applicant is in the United States legally. (It is far from flawless, producing both false positives and false negatives, but it’s the best thing we’ve got.)
Democrats say, whoa, if you make E-Verify mandatory, without giving legal status to the 11 million already here, the system will be used just to deport people. If undocumented workers come out of the shadows, they will be “self-deporting.”
Republicans are also very big on securing our 2,000-mile border with Mexico, some wanting to make an absolutely secure border a necessity before anybody already in the United States gets legalized. (Nobody much cares about our 5,500-mile border with Canada.)
The current plan is to spend an incredible $46.3 billion for security along our southern border, about $30 billion of which is to double our number of border agents to 41,000.
A force of 41,000 to secure a 2,000-mile strip is a big security force. (We currently are using 48,000 U.S. troops to secure all of Afghanistan, which is 252,000 square miles.)
Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who helped write the Senate bill providing for all that security, said recently it was mostly political hooey.
“I’ll give you a little straight talk, we don’t need 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents,” McCain told the AFL-CIO. “I voted for it so friends of mine would have comfort that we are securing the border. But the real securing of the border is with technology as opposed to individuals, although we do certainly need individuals.”
Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page is not happy with the planned border security “surge.” Its editorial stated: “Here’s the real story: For some Republicans, border security has become a ruse to kill reform. The border could be defended by the 10th Mountain Division and Claymore antipersonnel mines and it wouldn’t be secure enough. As we noted last month … the U.S.-Mexico border is more secure today than it has been in decades. According to Border Patrol statistics, illegal entries are at a 40-year low.”
But some Republicans are insisting on the piecemeal approach and the security ruse, even though there is a very good reason for Republicans to pass immigration reform.
That reason is math.
Take the four U.S. megastates: California, Texas, New York and Florida. California and New York are safely Democratic in presidential elections. Florida went Democratic in the past two presidential elections. Texas has been safely Republican.
But what if currently red Texas starts turning Democratic blue given the increase in the Hispanic vote? Not overnight. But eventually, inexorably.
If the Democrats could be assured of victory in all four megastates, it would give them 56 percent of the 270 electoral votes they need to elect a president, an enormous advantage.
“When Texas is purple, there will be no more Republican presidents,” an immigration expert told me Monday.
The expert also said that if comprehensive immigration reform is dead in this Congress — and it looks like it could very well be — it could pass in an election year or even by a lame-duck Congress. Obama has said he will sign any bill that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million.
This could be his legacy and, ironically, the only hope the Republicans have to be more than a whites-only party, rowing against a demographic tide.
“If the Republicans decided to pass it,” Obama said Friday of immigration reform, “it would be to their political advantage to do it.”
The Republicans in the House could continue to hold out and hope for a Republican White House in 2016. But every election they delay immigration reform puts the White House further from their grasp.
Roger Simon is POLITICO’s chief political columnist.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD ~ THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 27, 2013
President Obama urged Congress on Thursday to revive immigration reform, which is not dead but not moving, either. He was talking mostly to House Republicans, though he also urged business, labor and religious groups to “keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.”
It’s good that Mr. Obama said “us.” It acknowledges his own role in this continuing disaster.
Much of the responsibility to fix what Mr. Obama calls the “broken immigration system” lies within his own administration. He can’t rewrite immigration laws, but he can control how well — or disastrously — they are enforced.
He can begin by undoing the damage done by his Homeland Security Department. Mr. Obama has just nominated Jeh Johnson, a former Defense Department general counsel, to replace homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July. It’s the perfect opportunity for a fresh start.
Here is what it might look like:
STOP NEEDLESS DEPORTATIONS
The Obama administration has kept up a frantic pace of 400,000 deportations a year, and is closing in on two million. Those numbers are driven by politics, not public safety. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has wide discretion to determine whom it detains and deports. It can retool all its policies to make non-criminals and minor offenders — the people most likely to benefit from the reform now stalled in Congress — the lowest priority for deportation.
The deportation surge is fed by programs like Secure Communities, which does immigration checks on everyone arrested by local and state law enforcement, and Operation Streamline, in which border crossers in the Southwest are prosecuted en masse, with little access to legal representation.
Mr. Obama turned the dragnet on, and can turn it off. In marches and vigils across the country, protesters have made one plea on deportations to Mr. Obama: “Not one more.” He should heed it.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE CRISIS
As he makes the case for immigration reform, Mr. Obama often mentions the economic consequences of failure — jobs unfilled, crops unpicked, investments not made and taxes not collected. He would do well to highlight the human costs of enforcement without reform, in separating families, and violating the civil and labor rights of workers.
Defiant advocates in Tucson, Ariz., recently blocked buses carrying Operation Streamline detainees, drawing attention to the damage done by indiscriminate deportation. In East Haven, Conn., last week, two police officers were convicted of abusing Latino residents, part of an egregious pattern of abuse. There and elsewhere, the Justice Department has done much to investigate and stop illegal policing and civil rights abuses; Mr. Obama should redouble administration efforts to protect the rights of immigrants and noncitizens.
GET BEYOND POLITICS
The talk in Washington has focused on how, after the shutdown debacle, Republicans and Democrats might exploit immigration for political advantage. But last week, the genuine immigration crisis intruded, as if from another universe. Busloads of Arizonans — parents, children, students known as Dreamers — lined up outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office, pleading for a meeting and praying for action on reform. Mr. Boehner had no time for them.
The shutdown was a fake emergency. Immigration is a real one, harming lives every day in every state. Mr. Obama has sometimes been resentful when immigrant advocates remind him of his failures. Now, at least, he has invited their pressure.
Congratulations on your timely editorial ‘Not one more’ (Oct. 27, 2013), long overdue by a prominent newspaper and historic for its courage and content.
Reasonably, your editorial advices President Barak Obama on a much needed political and moral opportunity: bring relief to immigrant families by stopping the ongoing massive deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.Better yet, we believe that in order to protect the rights of all non-criminal, law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, President Obama should order deferred action as he did with the Dreamers, or grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as long as Congress doesn’t pass an immigration reform. This would end deportations, kick-start the legalization process and generate revenue from fees and penalties.
Protected status for all undocumented immigrants would be a win-win move by President Obama: push Congress to act on immigration now, or risk losing the House of Representatives next year due to a highly motivated Latino turn-out at the polls.
To do otherwise, President Obama will seal his legacy as the Great Deporter-in-chief president of all time.
Prof. Armando Vazquez-Ramos, California State University at Long Beach, and Primitivo Rodriguez, Research Associate at El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Robert Morgenthau, The Wall St. Journal Opinion ~ Oct. 27, 2013
President Obama has now moved to place a new team at the head of the Department of Homeland Security, nominating Jeh Johnson for secretary of Homeland Security, to join Stevan Bunnell as general counsel. Both men are eminently qualified, but they'll need to hit the ground running.
At least with respect to immigration enforcement, Homeland Security is an agency that has lost sight of its own policies. The result is that several hundred thousand of the immigrants passing through state or county jails each year are then flagged on DHS orders—often in violation of the department's own policies meant to separate ordinary people from dangerous criminals and terrorists—and end up being deported. Some of the deportees are even U.S. citizens.
Since 2003, the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has turned into a deportation machine, spending a budget of $18 billion that exceeds the budgets of all the rest of federal law enforcement combined—the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Secret Service—in order to deport record-breaking numbers of immigrants. At last count, ICE was deporting over 1,000 people a day—more than 400,000 a year. The agency may also have set a record for issuing enlightened policy statements about just which immigrants should be the focus of deportation efforts.
The problem is the legions of deportations bear no resemblance to the policies. The official policy is to focus deportation efforts on those who are a danger to America—convicted criminals, suspected terrorists and gang members. But every year, the percentage of deportees fitting any of those categories has proved to be a small (and shrinking) number. In the last fiscal year, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reports, less than 14.5% of those hauled into immigration court were either criminals or suspected terrorists.
At the end of 2012, ICE resolved to be more responsible in its use of "detainers"—immigration holds that prevent inmates in local police lockups from being released, even after they have made bail, served their sentence or had their case dismissed.
For years, ICE has been under fire for using detainers indiscriminately. How indiscriminately? Consider one case reported recently in the New York Law Journal: A teenager was arrested on a minor offense. Immigration officials were ready to deport him—luckily, the young man had a lawyer. The lawyer discovered that his client was a U.S. citizen, and thus not subject to deportation. Had the teenager gone unrepresented—as most immigrants are unrepresented—the U.S. would likely have deported one of its own citizens.
That is what happened to a 15-year-old from Dallas who was arrested in 2011 for shoplifting. The Christian Science Monitor reported in January 2012 that after her arrest she was put on a plane and deported to Colombia before Homeland Security discovered, eight months later, that she was a U.S. citizen. Only then was she brought home to be reunited with her American family.
The New York City Council became so fed up with these sorts of abuses that it passed legislation in 2012 directing City Corrections not to honor ICE detainers, except for those lodged against suspected terrorists, serious criminals, and others who pose a real threat to our safety.
That is when ICE announced that it was promulgating new standards and promised to focus enforcement on the most dangerous. The agency even revised its detainer form, requiring an issuing agent to specify the basis for every detainer.
They must be regretting that pledge now. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a think tank at Syracuse University, analyzed the data and reported that for the first six months of 2013, just over 10% of ICE detainers met the agency's promised goal of targeting those who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security.
And the news gets even worse: Nearly two-thirds of those against whom detainers were lodged had no criminal convictions whatsoever—not even for a traffic infraction. If you exclude convictions for marijuana possession and traffic violations (including DWI), barely over one-quarter of the detainers were lodged against those with any criminal conviction.
Many of those detainers were lodged pursuant to a federal program called "Secure Communities." When the program was announced in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security called it a voluntary federal-local partnership that would enable the DHS to focus on deporting the most serious criminals and others, like suspected terrorists, who posed real threats to our safety.
After New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked at how the voluntary program actually operated and decided to opt-out his state, DHS said Secure Communities was always mandatory and would keep operating in New York whether invited or not. In an unrelated case a federal judge reviewed that history of bait-and-switch and wrote, "there is ample evidence that ICE and DHS have gone out of their way to mislead the public about Secure Communities."
The New York City Council did what it could to bring some sanity to bear. Twice it passed legislation that would limit cooperation with ICE; for example, the law says detainers should not be honored except for real criminals, suspected terrorists or gang members.
Such measures are still not enough. Data released by the New York City Department of Corrections this month reveal that of 11,876 foreign-born inmates discharged from city custody in fiscal year 2013, 3,459 were discharged with an ICE detainer. In other words, nearly one in three of those who earn their liberty will lose it, even though New York has no reason to restrict their freedom.
When Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano resigned earlier this year, along with her ICE Director John Morton, many hoped that new leadership could do more to reduce the fear of arrest and deportation among law-abiding immigrants and, in so doing, strengthen local efforts to cut crime. Truer words were never said. As district attorney of New York County, I learned that the trust and cooperation of our immigrant population is essential to apprehending and prosecuting the true criminals among us.
Today, there is hope for real reform. Jeh Johnson is tough, smart and fair. The Senate should waste no time in confirming him as secretary of Homeland Security. His talents are desperately needed to steer an out-of-control agency in the right direction.Mr. Morgenthau, a former district attorney for New York County, is of counsel to Wachtell, Lipton Rosen & Katz.
By Fawn Johnson, October 10, 2013 THE NEXT AMERICA
The first black president could be the one who detains and deports the most brown people in U.S. history. Without a course correction, that's the legacy President Obama is building, and it could put him and his Democratic allies at odds with the fastest-growing demographic in the country.
Obama is on track to deport 3 million immigrants without papers by the end of his second term, more than any other president. George W. Bush deported about 2 million over two terms. Obama will likely hit that mark this month. Bill Clinton didn't even get to 1 million.
The average daily count of immigrants in detention now is about 33,000. In 2001, it was 19,000. In 1994, it was 5,000, according to the Detention Watch Network. Almost all of the detainees and deportees are Latino. True, the population of illegal immigrants has also doubled in that time to more than 11 million. But the detainee and deportee counts have escalated more than twice as fast.
"He could go down as the worst president in history toward immigrants," said Arturo Carmona, executive director of the liberal activist group Presente.org.
Carmona is willing to say publicly what many in the Hispanic community have been saying privately for years: They can't count on Obama. Yes, the president supports a major overhaul of immigration, but when Congress can't achieve it, he continues to lock up or forcibly remove their people when it's not necessary. They see the policy as a continual reminder that they aren't welcome when the president could, if he wanted to, slow the deportations to about half the current rate.
To be fair, this White House is not any different from its predecessors. Major immigration legislation didn't happen under Bush either, despite support from him and many in Congress. Administratively, Obama is simply following a course that was put into place in the Clinton administration and solidified by Bush.
Under Clinton, a harsh immigration law passed in 1996 that mandated detention for unauthorized immigrants who had any kind of brush with the law. During the Bush years, Congress starting using its annual appropriations to require that the detention centers remain full, and lawmakers even mandated an additional 8,000 detention beds. As a result, about 40 percent of the detainees don't need to be there.
The problem for Obama is that he promised Latinos he would be their champion. He guaranteed an immigration bill in the first year of his presidency. He decried deportations that separated families.
Then he failed to deliver. "He made the broadest, biggest promises. You didn't expect that much from George Bush," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who campaigned for Obama in 2008 and has since cried foul over the growing deportations.
Could Obama wind up being the worst president ever for immigrants? "In the absence of Barack Obama signing a comprehensive immigration-reform bill, God, I think the case can be made," Gutierrez said.
This administration has shown it can be lenient toward the unauthorized population. In 2012, Obama deferred deportations for young adults who were brought here illegally as children. But that was after he spent two years insisting he didn't have the legal authority. He is now using the same argument to explain why he can't stop deportations for other non-criminals.
In 2011, the president told immigration authorities to make pregnant women or family breadwinners a low priority in deportations. But last year, the Homeland Security Department deported 17,000 unauthorized immigrants who had no criminal background.
The flip-flops give fodder to Republican critiques. "Fourteen hundred a day," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., of Obama's running deportation tally. "There are not 1,400 criminals a day.... This is a president who selectively enforces the law."
DHS officials say they are focusing on deporting undocumented lawbreakers. Fifty-five percent of the 409,000 deportees in 2012 fell under the category of "convicted criminals." But not all of those crimes were rape, murder, or theft. They also included using a forged ID, a common practice by immigrants looking for work, and one that employers tacitly sanction.
None of this will be a problem for Obama if legislation passes that creates a path to citizenship for a sizable chunk of the undocumented population. If that doesn't happen, though, he will be stuck with his deportation numbers.
Politically, Obama was fortunate in 2012 that Hispanic voters didn't see another option. "The only explanation as to why so many Latino voters keep going Democratic is because the other offering is worse," said Oscar Chacon, executive director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities.
"We need to become, formally, independents. "For the next Democratic presidential candidate, the luck may not hold. "Republicans are being boneheaded on immigration," says Alfonso Aguilar, who ran DHS's Citizenship and Immigration Services under Bush. Aguilar believes 40 percent of the Hispanic electorate is up for grabs if Republicans become more friendly toward immigrants-say, along the lines of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida or Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
But many House Republicans disagree. They say at least two-thirds of Hispanics will always vote Democratic, so why bother? Those members could be enough to stop a major immigration bill-and leave Hispanics with little reason to support the GOP.
Signs of disaffection from both parties are already apparent, however. Latino turnout was 2 percentage points lower in 2012 than in 2008, according to the Census Bureau. The looming question for Democrats, then, is whether Latinos will continue to vote for them or choose not to vote at all.
The looming question for Democrats, then, is whether Latinos will continue to vote for them or choose not to vote at all.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The heavy lifting has been done. The House should stop stalling and get to work...
L.A. Times Editorial ~ October 27, 2013
With the government shutdown finally concluded, the threat of a strike on Syria on the back burner and no serious chance that the U.S. will default on its debts for at least the next 3 1/2 months, perhaps Congress can pull itself together and get back to work on stalled legislation. It should begin by tackling comprehensive immigration reform.
After all, much of the heavy lifting on this complicated and controversial issue has been done. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a sweeping bipartisan bill that calls for allowing more high-skilled and low-skilled workers into the U.S. while also establishing a new guest-worker program that includes additional protections for farm workers.
It would set out a 13-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, but only after they paid fines and passed a background check, and after additional border security measures were put in place. It's not a perfect plan, but it takes the kind of broad approach that is needed to restructure the dysfunctional system.
The Republican-led House, however, has not signed on, opting instead for a piecemeal approach. Among the separate proposals waiting to reach the floor are an enforcement bill known as the SAFE Act, which would for the first time designate as criminals all immigrants in the U.S. illegally, and would allow states such as Arizona to enforce their own immigration laws.
Another bill would create a new guest-worker program that would likely please growers but leave farm laborers unprotected from abusive employers. Two other bills would expand the use of federal databases to verify the immigration status of new employees.
The two sides are far apart, obviously. But there is some reason for hope after months of stalemate. In an effort to repair some of the political damage the GOP inflicted on itself during the shutdown, some House Republicans apparently are calling for action on immigration reform to win back moderate support.
If the House approved just one of its piecemeal bills, it could move to a conference committee, where Senate and House members could begin to reconcile their differences. If it goes that route, the House should pass its border security measure, which is the best of the bills introduced so far. But it's unclear whether Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) will allow any of the bills to move forward.
The reality is that the current immigration system isn't working for American employers, who rely on the low-wage labor that comes in over the border, or for the millions of immigrants stuck in the underground economy. That's why a broad coalition of religious, law enforcement and business leaders has repeatedly called for a compromise.
Immigration reform can still be achieved, if only GOP lawmakers stop stalling, stop grandstanding and get to work.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
House GOP plans no immigration vote in 2013 By: Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman POLITICO ~ October 25, 2013
The House has just 19 days in session before the end of 2013, and there are a number of reasons why immigration reform is stalled this year.
Following the fiscal battles last month, the internal political dynamics are tenuous within the House Republican Conference. A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers and aides are intensely skeptical that any of the party’s preferred piecemeal immigration bills can garner the support 217 Republicans — they would need that if Democrats didn’t lend their votes. Republican leadership doesn’t see anyone coalescing around a single plan, according to sources across GOP leadership. Leadership also says skepticism of President Barack Obama within the House Republican Conference is at a high, and that’s fueled a desire to stay out of a negotiating process with the Senate. Republicans fear getting jammed.
(WATCH: Barack Obama on immigration: 'Let's do it now')
Of course, the dynamics could change. Some, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are eager to pass something before the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has signaled publicly that he would like to move forward in 2013 on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. If Republicans win some Democratic support on piecemeal bills, they could move forward this year. But still, anything that makes its way to the floor needs to have significant House Republican support
And Obama is also ramping up his messaging on immigration reform. “It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our national security, it’s good for our people, and we should do it this year,” Obama said Thursday. That same afternoon his chief of staff Denis McDonough met with business CEOs to strategize on immigration reform. Attendees included representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Getting immigration through this deeply divided Congress in 2014 — an election year — would be incredibly difficult. That’s why immigration reform supporters are growing increasingly worried that the window for a bigger reform package could be slipping away since it would be even more difficult to try and forge ahead in an election year.
(Also on POLITICO: Darrell Issa to introduce immigration bill)
“I think there are a lot of folks who are concerned about this issue not getting solved, and I think legitimately so,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) told POLITICO. “Because I do think that every day that goes by, it makes it more and more difficult.”
Other prominent immigration supporters like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have also backed off any deal, saying the Obama administration has “undermined” negotiations by not defunding his signature health care law. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) went further, saying Obama is trying to “destroy the Republican Party” and that GOP leaders would be “crazy” to enter into talks with Obama.
That rhetoric combined with signals in private conversations with lawmakers and staff has led some immigration advocates to say they see the writing on the wall and they aren’t going to invest heavily until there’s more momentum.
“After Obama poisoned the well in the fiscal showdown and [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi now is actively trying to use immigration as a political weapon, the chances for substantive reforms, unfortunately, seem all but gone,” said one GOP operative involved in the conservative pro-immigration movement.
Many of the groups that ran ads after the Senate passed its immigration bill — including the American Action Network and U.S. Chamber of Commerce — have gone silent on air. Several immigration reform proponents said that until House Republicans come up with legislation, there won’t be any television advertising campaigns.
Liberals’ patience with House Republicans is also waning, as many argue that its time for the Obama administration to step in. National Day Laborer Organizing Network Executive Director Pablo Alvarado has been leading the charge, pressing the White House to use his “existing legal authority to alleviate the suffering of immigrants.”
Frank Sharry of America’s Voice said there is a “strong preference” for action before the end of the year.
“We’re either going to pass immigration reform or punish Republicans who block it,” Sharry said. “If they can’t convince their leadership then of course we want a Democratic majority that will … We’d much rather have a signing ceremony on immigration reform than a punishing electoral campaign where we’re trying to take people out.”
It’s unclear how exactly the outside groups will put pressure on members up for reelection. Sharry said he it is unlikely they would get involved in primaries, but could exert influence in the general election in Colorado, California, Nevada, Florida, Texas and Illinois where there are large Latino populations.
Whether groups on the right follow suit is unclear.
“The left is going to start ramping it up big time. The question is what are the business community and the center-right groups going to do,” said one immigration lobbyist.
For now, conservative and business groups are focused on putting pressure on Republicans to take action.
Conservative immigration reform groups will bring more than 400 local business, law enforcement and religious leaders next week to Washington to try and increase the pressure on rank-and-file GOP lawmakers to force leaders to move on reform.
And champions of the effort argue there is still a possibility for forward movement.
“There is still an appetite to get comprehensive immigration reform done this year,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue told reporters recently. “There is still strong support among the public and lawmakers. And our nation—our economy, our businesses, and our workers—need it more than ever.”
The Chamber is also releasing Friday an immigration “Myths and Facts” document trying to debunk some fallacies on immigration reform.
And even if passage of any kind of reform passage doesn’t happen by the end of December, it doesn’t mean the fight is over. Partnership for a New American Economy’s Jeremy Robbins said the question is when “the next moment” would be for reform. And
“There’s a lot of political challenges, but it’s also a very real opening,” Robbins said. “Coming out of this opening. If we get immigration reform fantastic, if not, then how are we poised to be bigger and stronger for the next opening in the spring.”Carrie Budoff Brown and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report
By REID J. EPSTEIN POLITICO ~ 10/24/13
Immigration reform may not pass, but that’s no reason to give up the fight, President Barack Obama said Thursday.
The president made his long-awaited return to the issue in a brief East Room speech urging advocates to keep the pressure on House Republicans to take action on the Senate’s immigration bill, saying that only public pressure will lead to action.
And yet Obama expressed some of the same skepticism he decried, saying that while immigration reform is “the right thing to do,” it doesn’t have a clear path to success.
“Just because something is smart and fair and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor and evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done,” Obama said with a laugh. “This is Washington, after all.”
The East Room address comes as the White House grapples with fallout from the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. The return to immigration reform comes weeks after the White House signaled in September it would soon make a renewed effort to back comprehensive immigration reform. That push was put off while Obama dealt with the government shutdown and debt limit crisis.
Obama’s call for the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill represents his effort to duplicate what his allies saw as a victory on the fiscal showdown – get legislation that can be labeled bipartisan through the Senate and then try to apply public pressure to force it through the House.
Republicans — including George W. Bush — have supported immigration reform, Obama said. As he said during the shutdown fight, Obama implied that a small faction of House Republicans are blocking progress.
“We’ve got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the speaker, have said we should act. So let’s not wait,” Obama said. “It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now, let’s not delay, let’s get this done and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.”
But while that approach worked for the fiscal cliff in January and to end the shutdown this month, those episodes featured hard deadlines that carried the threat of fiscal calamity. Immigration reform does not.
And as the Senate debated immigration reform for months earlier this year, Obama kept a public distance as White House and Senate aides maintained that the legislation had a better chance to proceed without an appearance of the president being directly involved.
Now with the House GOP leadership calling for a “step-by-step approach” instead of the comprehensive solution Obama seeks, the president is shifting from the inside approach that won votes in the Senate to an outside push to pressure House Republicans.
Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman said the House won’t be calling a vote on the Senate’s immigration bill any time soon.
“The Speaker agrees that America has a broken immigration system and we need reform that would boost our economy,” spokesman Brendan Buck said. “He’s also been clear that the House will not consider any massive, Obamacare-style legislation that no one understands. Instead, the House is committed to a common sense, step-by-step approach that gives Americans confidence that reform is done the right way. We hope that the president will work with us — not against us — as we pursue this deliberate approach.”
Obama, who would like to keep advocates from carping at the White House for its failure to pass a reform bill, praised the gathered immigration reformers for their work and urged them to keep up pressure on House Republicans.
“I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up. Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done,” Obama said. “There are going to be moments, and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform where you meet resistance and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.”
Obama added to applause: “You look fired up to make the next push.”-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Putting immigration on right path
By: Pablo Alvarado October 21, 2013 10:18 PM EDT
As immigration reform re-emerges at the center of political debate, President Barack Obama can do more than urge on a gridlocked and dysfunctional Congress: There’s much he can do — right now — to provide overdue relief to America’s immigrant families.
The first step: Admit that his previous strategy of appeasing nativists through Arizona-style policies like Secure Communities and deporting record numbers of immigrants is not working. So far, Obama’s approach has done little more than earn him the title of Deporter in Chief among immigrant communities and moved the immigration debate unrecognizably to the right, ratifying the premises of the very xenophobes holding Congress hostage.
Some political strategists will tell us that such cruelty was necessary for the administration to build its “enforcement credentials” as a down payment for reform. But a quick glance at proposals like the Corker-Hoeven Amendment in the Senate, which would militarize the U.S.-Mexico border, or the SAFE Act in the House, shows how dangerous it is to keep bargaining with obstructionists. Give an inch in that direction and get Arizona’s human rights crisis in every jurisdiction.
What we need instead is leadership that can pull the conversation back to where it should be centered: achieving the political equality of the millions whose sacrifice, risk and courage put the issue squarely on the national agenda in the first place.
Multiple local governments are rejecting the administration’s criminalization and repairing the damage it has done by passing bills aimed to keep trust in local law enforcement from being eroded by distrust in federal immigration authorities. The president now needs to do the same by reversing course: Stop deportations and expand the temporary protection program he already created for certain young people.
This isn’t a fallback plan — a “Plan B” in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. Stopping deportations should be “Plan A” to improve any bill’s chance and to alleviate the suffering of those whose lives have been left in limbo.
Obama’s decision to grant deferred action to childhood arrivals (DACA) showed that incremental progress and a reduction in deportations are possible and can even galvanize momentum for broader legislation at the same time. But its limited scope also raises the question now repeatedly asked of the president by the press: Why isn’t he doing more?
The president’s answer — that he is out of options — is unacceptable. The White House’s argument is not based on the limitations of the law but the limitations of the administration’s political calculus. As the entity that proposes the Department of Homeland Security’s budget to Congress, oversees its implementation and sets its priorities, the president has the power to ease the pain his policies currently cause.
Obama’s own former assistant secretary for legislative affairs at DHS, Nelson Peacock, described the president’s ability to stop deportations as his “trump card” on immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio agreed and recently warned his conservative base that if immigration reform fails in Congress, the president might just act on his own.
If his legal authority is not in question, then it’s only a matter of political will. In determining his way forward, the president must decide what side of history he wishes to be on: with the reformers or with the obstructionists. That’s why seven undocumented people handcuffed themselves to the White House fence calling on him to act and hundreds more shut down immigration and customs enforcement operations in Arizona earlier this month in hopes of spurring the president to follow suit.
Obama should also consider who’s on the other side of this debate: fringe lawmakers who have vowed to oppose him no matter what. The lesson from last week’s budget showdown is clear: The president must no longer capitulate to a vocal, irrational minority in Congress. With the stroke of a pen, he has the power to advance the immigration debate and do right by thousands of families who just want a chance at a better life. What is he waiting for?Pablo Alvarado is executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Valdez drew on his own childhood to write the play, a quintessentially California production that opened and closed with little fanfare. That's too bad.
By Miriam Pawel, L.A. Times Op-Ed ~ October 27, 2013
"Valley of the Heart" is a quintessentially California play, written by a master of the genre. It is a history lesson wrapped in a love story, with themes that could not be more contemporary: struggling immigrants, xenophobia and racism, cultural confusion and identity.
Luis Valdez has drawn on his own childhood to craft what he calls a "memory play": A Mexican American sharecropper family takes over a ranch whose Japanese American owners are interned in 1942, just as Valdez's parents took over a Japanese grower's farm when he was 2 years old. The play showcases Valdez's gift for making people care about experiences far outside their own ambit. Humor defuses tension; moral outrage provokes tears. Simple motions convey complex emotions.
I wish you could see the play, so you could smile at the broccoli-picking dance, cry as the Yamaguchis are taken to Heart Mountain internment camp, laugh at the cross-cultural jokes. But "Valley of the Heart" premiered in the tiny mission town of San Juan Bautista, 300 miles north of L.A., ran for four weeks to sold-out crowds, and then closed.
Drawn by word of mouth, theatergoers from Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno and San Francisco, 100 miles to the north, filled the old packing shed that is home to Valdez's theater company, El Teatro Campesino. But no major daily or weekly paper reviewed the first play in 13 years written by the father of Chicano theater.
Los Angeles would seem the logical city to embrace a Luis Valdez play that probes injustice against Japanese Americans, viewed through Chicano eyes, on a ranch in the Valley of Heart's Delight (better known today as Silicon Valley). As the lead character tells the audience at the end of the play: "California is now half Latino and Asian, and there's not a damn thing anybody can do about it."
But the odds of "Valley of the Heart" playing nearby seem slim. Valdez has had preliminary discussions with the San Diego Rep, a longtime collaborator with the Teatro Campesino, but there have been no overtures in the major theater centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
We need memory plays as powerful as this one, in venues up and down the state. Too many people have forgotten, or never knew, that tens of thousands of Americans were rounded up, interrogated and sent to camps for no crime other than their Japanese ancestry. In an era of secret terrorism courts, widespread government surveillance and Minuteman patrols, we need to be confronted with the realities of 1942 — the acts of bravery, the gestures of kindness, the humanity as well as the tragedy.
Memories seem particularly short in the theater world, especially in the shadow of Hollywood, land of the meteoric rise and fall. Valdez's early successes are ancient history: "Zoot Suit," the fictionalized account of Mexican American youths falsely imprisoned amid anti-immigrant fever in the 1940s, broke box office records at the Mark Taper Forum in 1978. "La Bamba," the Ritchie Valens biopic that Valdez wrote and directed, was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1988. Most of Valdez's contemporaries, the generation who championed his work, are retired. Yet, at 73, Valdez is trying to return to the spotlight.
The mountains and fields outside Salinas anchor Valdez to the people and land so central to his work. He sees the Teatro's upcoming 50th anniversary as a defiant validation of his choice to remain in San Juan Bautista, a celebration "not only of creativity but of survival."
He began on the picket lines with Cesar Chavez in 1965, teaching farm workers to perform plays on the back of a flatbed truck. "We are a people's theater, part of the working class," Valdez says. "We've held on. We come from the dirt, literally.… We're not in L.A., we're not in the city, yet we're still vibrant. We're still moving."
Those roots are what make his plays resonate for an audience that does not typically go see theater. The Teatro's longevity should be celebrated across California, and the 50th anniversary should remind those with short memories — and those too young to remember — why Valdez's work is so important and holds such widespread appeal.
"Zoot Suit" was an improbable hit, a story of Mexican American pachucos that struck universal chords to achieve cross-cultural success. Thirty-five years later, "Valley of the Heart" deserves a chance to make the same leap.
Miriam Pawel's latest book, "The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography," is due to be published in March.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DACA no es solución permanente dice Napolitano
Janet Napolitano habló de las deportaciones y sostuvo que DACA no es la solución definitiva sino la reforma migratoria…
Por: María Peña/EFE, La Opinion, Agosto 15, 2013
WASHINGTON DC.-La secretaria de Seguridad Nacional de EE.UU., Janet Napolitano, afirmó hoy que el programa de "acción diferida" ha suspendido la deportación de más de medio millón de jóvenes indocumentados desde 2012, pero aseguró que no es una solución permanente al "anticuado" sistema migratorio del país.
Napolitano, que pronto dejará su cargo para presidir la Universidad de California, recurrió a un blog del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional para destacar los beneficios del programa de "acción diferida", puesto en marcha exactamente hoy hace un año, y pedir una solución a largo plazo para los once millones de indocumentados en EE.UU.
El programa, conocido por su sigla en inglés "DACA", ofrece un permiso de trabajo y suspende durante dos años la deportación de estudiantes indocumentados, conocidos como "dreamers" ("soñadores").
La medida está dirigida a jóvenes de hasta 31 años de edad y que entraron a EE.UU. antes de los 16 años, pagan 465 dólares por los trámites y cumplen con una serie de requisitos, incluyendo no tener antecedentes penales.
Pero la Administración Obama y grupos progresistas han prometido seguir presionando para que el Congreso apruebe este año una reforma migratoria integral que abra una vía para la legalización y eventual ciudadanía de toda la población clandestina.
Según Napolitano, el programa ha permitido al Gobierno concentrarse en la expulsión de criminales peligrosos o que suponen una amenaza para la seguridad pública y nacional.
"DACA no es una solución a largo plazo para los desafíos más amplios que presenta nuestro anticuado sistema de inmigración", dijo Napolitano, al elogiar la reforma migratoria que aprobó el Senado el pasado 27 de junio y que afronta un muro de oposición de los republicanos en la Cámara de Representantes.
Napolitano subrayó que esa reforma ayuda a la economía, moderniza el sistema migratorio, amplía la vigilancia fronteriza, sanciona a empresas que contratan a indocumentados y exige que estos cumplan con numerosos requisitos para su legalización.
"Espero que la Cámara de Representantes seguirá el liderazgo mostrado por una fuerte mayoría bipartidista en el Senado y trabaje para corregir nuestro maltrecho sistema migratorio. Mientras, DACA seguirá siendo un medio importante para que los jóvenes que entraron cuando eran menores puedan permanecer acá y continuar contribuyendo a este gran país", puntualizó.
Sus palabras encontraron eco en Cecilia Muñoz, directora del Consejo de Política Nacional de la Casa Blanca, quien reiteró que la inacción del Congreso supondría un "alto costo" para la recuperación económica del país, porque la reforma aportaría 1,4 billones de dólares adicionales a la economía y crearía dos millones de empleos en una década.
Según la Oficina de Servicios de Inmigración y Ciudadanía (USCIS, por su sigla en inglés), entre agosto de 2012 y el mes pasado, recibió 573.404 solicitudes para la "acción diferida", de las cuales aprobó 552.918 y rechazó 20.486.
Una investigación de la Institución Brookings señaló que el 74,9 % de las solicitudes fue de inmigrantes de México, seguido por el 10 % de Centroamérica, el 6,9 % de Suramérica, el 4,2 % de Asia, el 1,7 % del Caribe, el 1 % de África, y el 0,9 % de Europa.
Cuando el programa fue anunciado por el presidente Barack Obama, en plena campaña de reelección, se calculaba que alrededor de 936.000 jóvenes indocumentados podían acogerse a la medida.
El 54 % de los solicitantes eran jóvenes menores de 21 años, y la mayoría de los beneficiados se concentró en California, Texas, Nueva York, Illinois y Florida, estados que tradicionalmente han tenido un mayor porcentaje de extranjeros, dijo por su parte, durante un acto en el Centro para el Progreso Estadounidense, Audrey Singer, investigadora de Brookings, .
En entrevista con Efe, Erika Andiola, estudiante de Arizona y una de las líderes del movimiento nacional de los "Dreamers", afirmó que los activistas continuarán la lucha hasta que el Congreso apruebe la reforma y Obama cese las deportaciones.
"La pelea no está solo en Washington, y vamos a seguir luchando durante el receso legislativo de agosto en todos los distritos con la misma advertencia: si a los republicanos les importan las elecciones (generales) de 2016, tienen que reevaluar su postura y recordar que el voto latino va en aumento", dijo Andiola.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Profesores de EE.UU. y México se unen para hacer una petición al presidente, Barack Obama, para que apruebe un Estatus de Protección Temporal mientras se concreta la reforma migratoria…
Por: La Opinion, EFE Agosto 16, 2013 7:18 pm EST Aug 16, 2013 7:18 pm EST
LOS ÁNGELES.- Profesores que promueven la colaboración entre prestigiosas universidades de México y EE.UU. propusieron al presidente, Barack Obama, que apruebe un TPS para inmigrantes indocumentados en caso de que el Congreso no dé luz verde este año a la reforma migratoria.
"El presidente, Barack Obama, tiene la oportunidad de pasar a la historia como un liberador, como un Abraham Lincoln, oponiéndose a los que no aprueban la reforma migratoria", dijo Armando Vázquez, profesor de estudios chicanos de la Universidad Estatal de California en Long Beach (CSULB).
"El presidente tiene la potestad de una acción ejecutiva para aprobar un Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS, en inglés) para todos los indocumentados de la misma manera en como aprobó esa protección a nacionales de ocho países", explicó.
Vázquez junto al sociólogo Gonzalo Santos, de la Universidad Estatal de California en Fresno, y Primitivo Rodríguez, investigador académico del Colegio de México (ColMex), de ciudad de México, publicaron recientemente una carta en internet en la que realizaban esta petición a Obama (http://www.california-mexicocenter.org/).
"Los derechistas que controlan el Congreso quieren demorar para ver si hasta el 2015 aprueban una reforma migratoria real y mientras ese tiempo pasa más gente seguirá siendo deportada", señaló Vázquez.
"Con un TPS para todos se detendrían inmediatamente las deportaciones, ayudaría a que los trabajadores no sean explotados, a que no vivan con miedo y comenzarían a pagar impuestos, mientras los legisladores se ponen de acuerdo", aseguró.
El Servicio de Inmigración y Ciudadanía (USCIS) renueva por periodos cortos permiso de trabajo y tarjeta de identificación TPS a beneficiarios de Siria, Somalia, Sudán, Sudán del Sur, Haití, Honduras, Nicaragua y El Salvador.
Rodríguez dijo a que "una acción ejecutiva para aprobar un TPS para todos los indocumentados sería una jugada de jaque mate a los que se oponen a la reforma migratoria".
"Porque sería el presidente Obama, solo, sin el Congreso el que resolvería, al menos temporalmente, el problema de los indocumentados y el presidente podría ganar muchísimo dejando un legado histórico", afirmó.
El Senado federal aprobó en junio pasado una propuesta de ley de reforma migratoria que legalizaría la situación de once millones de trabajadores indocumentados.
Sin embargo, la Cámara de Representantes todavía debate esta iniciativa, pero los republicanos, que controlan la Cámara Baja, no son partidarios de aprobar una reforma integral y rechazan que ésta incluya un camino a la ciudadanía.
"Lo que se está jugando para las próximas elecciones es a quién le van a echar la culpa del fracaso de una reforma migratoria, a los republicanos por no aceptar lo que aprobó el Senado o a los demócratas por no aceptar pedazos de reforma como proponen republicanos", analizó Rodríguez.
"Por eso un TPS para todos, aprobado por Obama, sería la solución temporal a ese problema", finalizó.
Maestros piden a Obama TPS si no pasa la reforma migratoria
LOS ÁNGELES, Estados Unidos, ago. 16, 2013.- Profesores que promueven la colaboración entre prestigiosas universidades de México y Estados Unidos propusieron al presidente, Barack Obama, que apruebe un TPS para inmigrantes indocumentados en caso de que el Congreso no dé luz verde este año a la reforma migratoria.
"El presidente, Barack Obama, tiene la oportunidad de pasar a la historia como un liberador, como un Abraham Lincoln, oponiéndose a los que no aprueban la reforma migratoria", dijo a Efe Armando Vázquez, profesor de estudios chicanos de la Universidad Estatal de California en Long Beach (CSULB).
"El presidente tiene la potestad de una acción ejecutiva para aprobar un Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) para todos los indocumentados de la misma manera en como aprobó esa protección a nacionales de ocho países", explicó.
Vázquez junto al sociólogo Gonzalo Santos, de la universidad Calstate Fresno, y Primitivo Rodríguez, investigador académico del Colegio de México (ColMex), de ciudad de México, publicaron recientemente una carta en internet en la que realizaban esta petición a Obama (http://www.california-mexicocenter.org/).
"Los derechistas que controlan el Congreso quieren demorar para ver si hasta el 2015 aprueban una reforma migratoria real y mientras ese tiempo pasa más gente seguirá siendo deportada", señaló Vázquez.
"Con un TPS para todos se detendrían inmediatamente las deportaciones, ayudaría a que los trabajadores no sean explotados, a que no vivan con miedo y comenzarían a pagar impuestos, mientras los legisladores se ponen de acuerdo", aseguró.
El Servicio de Inmigración y Ciudadanía (USCIS) renueva por periodos cortos permiso de trabajo y tarjeta de identificación TPS a beneficiarios de Siria, Somalia, Sudán, Sudán del Sur, Haití, Honduras, Nicaragua y El Salvador.
Rodríguez dijo a Efe que "una acción ejecutiva para aprobar un TPS para todos los indocumentados sería una jugada de jaque mate a los que se oponen a la reforma migratoria".
"Porque sería el presidente Obama, solo, sin el Congreso el que resolvería, al menos temporalmente, el problema de los indocumentados y el presidente podría ganar muchísimo dejando un legado histórico", afirmó.
El Senado federal aprobó en junio pasado una propuesta de ley de reforma migratoria que legalizaría la situación de once millones de trabajadores indocumentados.
Sin embargo, la Cámara de Representantes todavía debate esta iniciativa, pero los republicanos, que controlan la Cámara Baja, no son partidarios de aprobar una reforma integral y rechazan que ésta incluya un camino a la ciudadanía.
"Lo que se está jugando para las próximas elecciones es a quién le van a echar la culpa del fracaso de una reforma migratoria, a los republicanos por no aceptar lo que aprobó el Senado o a los demócratas por no aceptar pedazos de reforma como proponen republicanos", analizó Rodríguez.
"Por eso un TPS para todos, aprobado por Obama, sería la solución temporal a ese problema", finalizó.
Op-Ed by Neidi Dominguez, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance August 15, 2013
The President should mark the one year anniversary of the implementation of deferred action by expanding it to the rest of our family members. Marco Rubio might warn that Obama could act alone if Congress fails to pass immigration reform. But the truth is that the President to should act now in order to help immigration reform’s chance of passing at all.
Ironically, in a quote being spread widely, Rubio said that Obama could issue “an executive order as he did for the DREAM Act kids a year ago, where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” and doing so doesn’t require the intolerable compromises we’ve seen in Congress. Rubio goes on to say, “We won’t get any E-Verify. We won’t get any border security. But he’ll legalize them.”
As someone who’s lived with the fear that comes with being undocumented since I came to the US and continues to live with the worry that my mother could be deported at any moment, hearing the option that Rubio laid out for the President actually sounds pretty good. The question isn’t will the President expand DACA if Congress fails to pass reform. It’s why hasn’t he done it already?
Deferred action, a program that has granted relief from the threat of deportation and legal status to hundreds of thousands of Dream-eligible youth, is neither amnesty nor a new policy invented by Obama. It’s a long-standing form of executive power used as far back as 1971. The fact that Rubio warns against its expansion shows us two things. First, his statement is really a warning that Republicans in the House don’t want to move on anything that recognizes the political equality of the undocumented. And second, he actually highlights the responsibility of the President to take immediate action.
Obama leading on immigration reform and showing that our equality is not to be bargained with is not a last resort after a logjam in Congress but a step that needs to be taken now to prevent it. The militarization that Rubio warns won’t come to fruition is a $46 billion waste that meets the interests of defense contractors but not the American people and not those who want to see the inclusion of the 11 million people who already call the US home.