Immigration Action Newsletter April/May

Immigration Action Newsletter April/May

April 29, 2012

Immigration Action Newsletter

Senate CIR breakdown edition! What’s in the bill, what isn’t in the bill, and what happens next. Also, do not forget that Congress will be home this week- tell them what you think about the bill and demand their support on the issues most important to you!

 

ADVOCACY CALENDAR
April 29- May 5- The Senate is home- let them know your thoughts on the bill!

  • Organize a team to visit your representative and senators to talk about your priorities for CIR and the advocacy you have been a part of. Hosting a community action or event? Invite your decision makers! You can find the Episcopal Church toolkits for visits and actions here.
  • Senator Rubio wants your input on the bill, whether you live in FL or not!
    • Senator Marco Rubio has invited comments on the immigration bill and, according to this article  , he has only heard from anti-reform voices. You do NOT have to be from Florida to let Senator Rubio know what type of reform you want to see- please submit your comments here.
  • Want to host an action but not sure where to start? Host a movie screening to begin  community dialogue
    • Host a screening of “The Dream Is Now,” a documentary from Academy Award-winning director, Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for 'Superman'An Inconvenient Truth) that follows the dreams and struggles of 4 DREAMers and explores the human implications of our nation’s immigration policies.
    • Host a screening of “Jasmine’s Story” the story of a 17-year old who girl left alone in the U.S. after her parents are deported and how one congregation responded.
    • And don’t forget to map it! If you are advocating for humane and compassionate immigration reform, we want to know! Our voices and actions are stronger together- share your actions here.
  • Find other Episcopalian and interfaith advocates hosting events near you or invite them to your event through the IIC Event Calendar!

May 6, 3:00pm EST- Join the IIC call to see how faith groups are working to improve the immigration bill by adding positive amendments and preventing anti-immigrant amendments

  • Call 805-399-1000, access code 104402#. RSVP here for the visual portion.

May 9, 14, 16, 20-24- Mark-up and mark your calendars! We will need your voices in support of positive amendments! Call-in to the IIC call and read below for more information

Tuesday night is family night!  No immigration bill is comprehensive unless it protects all of our families!

  • With the introduction of S. 744 we now know that many improvements have been made to the family immigration system, while some categories have been cut and LGBT families have been completely excluded from the bill.  The Episcopal Church believes that every family deserves to live in unity and that no family should be excluded from immigration reform. Tuesday night, spend time with your family and share that experience with decision makers!
    • For flyers to share with your family and community, please visit the IIC website.
    • Does your family have an immigration story to share? If so, please submit your story here.
    • Post on the IIC Facebook page to share your Tuesday night event, see other posts and share the Family Night flyer with your Facebook friends.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744
Structure and Content Overview
On April 17, Senators Schumer D-NY, Durbin D-IL, Graham R-SC, Flake R-AZ, Menendez D-NJ, Bennet D-CO, McCain R-AZ and Rubio R-FL introduced their long awaited bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S. 744. The bill proposes the largest overhaul if our immigration system in decades and touches nearly every corner of our immigration system. At 844 pages the bill covers many issues that the Episcopal Church has advocated for or against in the past as well as many we have not. Below you will find the titles broadly summarized, pros and cons of this compromise bill, and a discussion of what the process will look like moving forward into amendments in the Judiciary Committee. A more detailed summary of the first three titles with an eye towards the issues most important to our Church can be found here, with links to additional information from leaders in the field on topics beyond the scope of our General Convention resolutions.

The full text of the bill can be found here and a section by section summary from the American Immigration Lawyers Association can be found here .

  • S. 744 is divided into 4 sections, called Titles
  • Title I- Border Security
    • Establishes enforcement triggers that must be met before undocumented individuals can register for legal status; increases border security measures; creates a DHS oversight taskforce; and includes additional monitoring and “use of force” accountability measures at the border
  • Title II- Immigrant Visas
    • Establishes Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status for undocumented immigrants who qualify and outlines the process for application, renewal, and conversion to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)/ green card status; makes significant changes to the current family and employment categories; an expedited pathway for DREAMers and agricultural workers;, the creation of the V visas for family members and W visas for workers; and reclassifies the spouses and minor children of LPRs as “immediate relatives”
  • Title III- Interior Enforcement
    • Establishes a mandatory electronic verification system, often called e-verify, to ensure that all workers hired are here with work authorization and cites the implementation as a legalization trigger between RPI status and LP; increases protections for workers who experience discrimination or workplace abuse; makes needed changes to the asylum and refugee programs to increase transparency, efficiency and keep families together; increases access to counsel and legal orientation programs; encourages alternatives to detention and stricter detention standards; and reclassifies certain crimes as grounds for inadmissibility
  • Title IV- Reforms to Non-Immigrant Visas
    • Reforms and/ or creates various non-immigrant visas such as H1B visa, student visas, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) visas and investor visas

Key Provisions of S. 744

  • Border and Enforcement: 90% enforcement effectiveness must happen before the undocumented can apply for citizenship; increased funding and personnel for fencing, security and ports; increase surveillance technology at the border; creates DHS Border Oversight Task Force and increased CBP training in appropriate use of force; mandatory employment verification for all employers within 5 years of enactment; electronic entry/exit; increase funding for Operation Streamline, Operation Stonegarden and SCAAP.
  • Path to Citizenship: Individuals without legal status in the U.S. before December 31, 2011 could apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status; after 10 years can green card (LPR), and 3 years after that could apply for citizenship with fines totaling over $2,000;  expedited path for DREAMers, 5 years, and Ag workers, 8 years; two new tracks of merit based visas
  • Family reunification: U.S. citizens would lose the ability to sponsor siblings and married adult kids over 31; positive fixes for spouses, fiancés, minor kids of green card holders, step kids, widows, orphans, separated kids; backlog reduction for those waiting for family reunification; no family provisions for LGBT spouses and permanent partners
  • Asylum Seekers and Refugees: 1-year filing deadline for asylum repealed; extension of and improvements to the Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa application process; a pathway to citizenship for those with TPS, DED and stateless people; important fixes for refugee families currently separated; Presidential authority to designate groups of humanitarian concern as eligible for resettlement
  • Detention, Counsel & Courts:  Increased access to legal orientation for people in detention and access to counsel for vulnerable migrants such as unaccompanied immigrant children; alternatives to detention;  and mandatory standards for detention facilities with fines for non-compliance
  • Refugees & Asylum Seekers: 1-year filing deadline removed for asylum seekers; improvements for refugee families currently separated; protections available for stateless people; extends the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs
  • Workers’ Visas & Rights: Expands high-skilled visas, agricultural visas & temporary worker visas allowing portability; follows wage standards, protections for US workers; creates a labor market commission to set numbers; backlog reduction for those waiting for employment visas 

Pros

Cons

-Bipartisan reform that has a real chance of being enacted
-Pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers
-Expedited pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and agricultural workers
-Most inclusive version of DREAM Act to date
-Reduces the visa backlog for both the employment and family systems
-Reclassifies the spouses and minor children of LPRs as “immediate relatives,” expediting reunification and exempting them from numerical caps
-Increased protections and efficiencies for refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable migrants
-Mandatory Legal Orientation Programs for detainees
-Counsel for vulnerable migrants, including children
-Alternatives to detention encouraged with NGO consultation
-Increased protections for immigrant workers

-13 year pathway to citizenship for most undocumented
-90% effectiveness rate of enforcement must be met before citizenship can be attained
-Hazy definitions for border security triggers such as “substantially deployed” and “substantially completed”
-Problems with previous e-verify systems that have led to discrimination and wrongful termination
-Family immigration categories eliminated, siblings, or truncated, adult married children will no longer qualify if they are older than 31
-No recognition of LGBT families and their unjust separation under immigration law
- Increased militarization of the border
- New criminal and civil penalties for border crossing, including prison terms
-Barring immigrants in provisional status from food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits programs
- Cost of application for low-income immigrants and income requirements could place RPI renewal and LPR conversion out of reach 

Next Steps and Amendment Advocacy- What you need to know and how to stay engaged
The Senate returns to Washington on May 6 and later that week they will begin mark-up, the point in the legislative process where the committee of jurisdiction, in this case the Judiciary Committee, examines the bill section by section and committee members can offer amendments. Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has announced that mark-up will begin May 9th, with the amendments to be discussed and voted on available on-line on May 7th. The Gang of 8 has indicated that they will unanimously opposed amendments that strike at the heart of the compromise bill but that smaller amendments may be accepted. Only 4 members of the Gang of 8, Durbin, Schumer, Flake and Graham, sit on the Judiciary Committee but their support will be crucial to any amendment passing.

As our community looks towards the amendment process we can expect amendments that increase border security, restrict access to the pathway to citizenship, and attempt to restrict access to asylum and the refugee program. Your voice will be vital to ensuring that positive amendments that protect families and the pathway to citizenship are supported and that negative amendments that seek to push people further into the shadows and keep families apart are defeated. This bill is not the bill we would write but it represents a true chance for reform and there are still multiple opportunities for our voices to shape the provisions we believe to be the most important. The national conversation has moved this far because of your tireless education, service, and advocacy, and now is the time for us to see true and just reform enacted.

As the mark-up process moves forward, the Episcopal Church will be working closely with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) and other partners to keep you up-to-date on what amendments have been introduced, what they do, what day they will be voted on, and when to call. We will need you to call often! Some weeks we will need you to call several days in a row. Calls from constituents, to Senators on the Judiciary Committee and off, will be crucial in keeping the content, support and momentum for this bill strong, as the anti-reform voices will be calling too.

Each morning of May when markup is scheduled, May 9, 14, 16, 20-24, the IIC and I will send an updated email with short descriptions of the amendments that are likely to be considered on each of those days, as well as call-in information, talking points and social media to help you share this information quickly and easily.

If mark-up stays on schedule, S.744 will be voted out of committee the week of May 20th and then head to the Senate floor for debate in June.

To ensure you are looped-in to the IIC efforts as well as the Episcopal Church efforts, please RSVP to the May call to learn more and be added to the listserve.

Additional Resources

  • How does S. 744 compare to the 2006 and 2007 bills? View issue by issue side-by-sides with this handy chart from Migration Policy Institute

 

IMMIGRATION IN THE NEWS
Child Migrants, Alone in Court
By Sonia Nazario
The New York Times, 4/10/13

An evangelical prayer for immigration reform
By Jenny Yang
The Washington Post, 4/17/13

Bipartisan House group praises Senate immigration bill
By Alan Gomez
USA Today, 4/17/13

Breakthrough on immigration
Editorial Board
The Los Angeles Times, 4/18/13

Immigration and Fear
Editorial Board
The New York Times, 4/20/13

Lawmakers stoking fear of immigrants
Editorial Board
The Washington Post, 4/22/13

Ted Cruz vs. Marco Rubio on immigration
By Manu Raju
Politcio, 4/21/13

'Welcoming community,' acts of kindness help refugees adjust to life in Utah
By Marjorie Cortez
The Desert News, 4/24/13

LGBT Couples Demand Equality In Immigration Reform
By Elise Foley
The Huffington Post, 4/24/13

Hatch: Immigration reform can’t wait
By Mat Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune, 4/28/13

Immigration overhaul grants legal status to millions but leaves out deportees, recent arrivals
By the Associated Press
The Washington Post, 4/28/13

Justices Decline to Take Case on Alabama Immigration Law
By Adam Liptak
The New York Times, 4/29/13


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