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The Week Ahead - Jan. 28 - Feb. 1

January 28, 2013 - Posted by Katherine Vargas


“What's changed, honestly, is that there is a new appreciation on both sides of the aisle, maybe more importantly on the Republican side, that we need to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.”
—Sen. John McCain on ABC’s “This Week” commenting on new political landscape on immigration. January 27, 2013

Game On for Immigration Reform
MUST READ: POLITICO: Senate group reaches immigration deal
WASHINGTON POST: Boehner: It’s ‘time to deal’ with immigration

Game On for Immigration Reform

Immigration reform will be a hot topic this week as the White House and the Senate announce principles for an immigration overhaul. Today, a bipartisan group of senators will officially release a framework for broad immigration reform that includes a conditional path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The plan also includes reforms to the legal immigration system based upon the needs of the economy, creation of an employment verification system and an improved process for admitting future workers. Many of the details have yet to be hammered out, but legislation is expected to be drafted by March and, according to the Washington Post, “potentially considered for final passage in the Senate as early as the summer.”

President Obama met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week to reiterate his commitment to make immigration “ a top legislative priority”. The President will debut his plans for an immigration overhaul during an event in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

You can read the Senate’s framework here:

Monday, January 28

• 11 a.m. The Asian American Justice Center hosts a press conference on immigration reform in 2013. Participants include Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP; Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union; Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian American Justice Center; Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK; Héctor J. Figueroa, President, SEIU 32BJ; and Verónica Saravía, CASA de Maryland Youth Leader. National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

• 12 p.m. Pacific time. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, hosts a seminar on the dysfunction of the American immigration system and how the current system breeds further inefficiencies. Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar is the featured speaker. Eleanor Roosevelt College Administration Building, Room 115, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, Calif.

• 2:30 p.m. A bipartisan group of senators that has been working on immigration reform principles is scheduled to hold a press conference to announce the principles.

Tuesday, January 29
• President Obama is scheduled to give a major speech on immigration in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, January 30

• 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration and Deloitte have scheduled a symposium on international human trafficking. Participants include State Department Ambassador to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca; Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton; Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West; Homeland Security Senior Counselor to the Secretary Alice Hill; and actress Mira Sorvino, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador on Human Trafficking. Bunn Intercultural Center (ICC) Auditorium, 37th and O streets NW, Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Bradley Saull (Deloitte), 571-814-6725, or Abbie Taylor (Georgetown), 202-687-2155.

• 11:30 a.m. National Immigration Forum telephonic press conference with representatives from the law enforcement and evangelical communities commenting on this week’s immigration developments. For more information, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
• 1 to 5 p.m. Half a dozen immigrant advocacy organizations host a briefing and discussion, “Advance Access to Health Care and Economic Supports in Immigration Reform.” The agenda will include an overview of immigration reform efforts and prospects for 2013, a review of previous immigration legislative efforts and attempts to include access to health care and economic supports, and a discussion of priorities and strategies to advance access to health care and economic supports. AFL-CIO, Gompers Room (1st floor), 815 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. For information or to RSVP, contact Jenny Rejeske or Ellen Sittenfeld Battistelli.

• 3 p.m. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society hosts a bipartisan briefing, "The Status of Religious Freedom in Iran and the U.S. Response," with Dwight Bashir of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Mark Hetfield of HIAS. The briefing will include discussion of the related "Lautenberg Amendment," which affects a U.S. refugee program for people fleeing religious persecution in Iran. Congressional Meeting Room South, Capitol Visitors Center, Washington, D.C. E-mail Travis Moore for more information.

Thursday, January 31

• 12:30 to 2 p.m. Pacific time. The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego, hosts "The Political Socialization of Youth from Immigrant Families and the Role of Community-based Organizations." Social Sciences Building 101, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, Calif.

• 6:30 p.m. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and America's Future Foundation have scheduled a discussion, "Opening the Golden Door: Real Solutions for the GOP and Immigration Reform." Participants include Reihan Salam, Policy Adviser at Economics 21 and Contributing Editor at National Review; Josh Culling, State Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform; Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute; and Peter Brown, Director of Legislative Affairs at Deloitte LLP. American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. Live stream available here. E-mail or call 202-862-5829 with media inquiries.

Friday, February 1

• Noon. Nominations are due for the French-American Foundation's Immigration Journalism Fellowship. Each selected fellow will receive "up to $10,000 for a well-defined project conducted during a four- to six-month period." Click here for more information.

• Nominations are due for the American Immigration Council's 2013 Immigrant Youth Achievement Award. Visit the Council's award website for more information on the nomination process.


• United We Dream’s “Own the Dream” campaign lists events and workshops related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Find this week’s events here. Local organizations are looking for volunteers for all events; the page includes contact information.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:

MUST READ: POLITICO: Senate group reaches immigration deal
By: Manu Raju
January 28, 2013 12:01 AM EST

A powerful group of senators from both parties has reached a deal on the outlines of a comprehensive immigration overhaul, a development that will drive an emotional debate on a hot-button issue unseen in Washington for more than half a decade.

The group is expected to unveil the basics of its proposal at a Monday news conference on Capitol Hill, essentially laying down a marker on the issue one day before President Barack Obama heads to Las Vegas to unveil more details about his own immigration proposal.

According to a five-page document provided to POLITICO, the sweeping proposal — agreed to in principle by eight senators — would seek to overhaul the legal immigration system as well as create a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s roughly 11 million illegal immigrants. But establishing that pathway would depend on whether the U.S. first implements stricter border enforcement measures and new rules ensuring immigrants have left the country in compliance with their visas. Young people brought to the country as children illegally and seasonal agriculture industry workers would be given a faster path to citizenship.

The broad agreement by the influential Gang of Eight senators amounts to the most serious bipartisan effort to act on the highly charged issue since George W. Bush’s comprehensive measure was defeated in the Senate in 2007.

It remains to be seen if Obama will embrace the Senate effort, or how closely his own proposal hews to the Senate one. But the Senate proposal is expected to take precedence on Capitol Hill, given that bipartisan backing will be crucial to getting anything through the Democratic-controlled Senate — let alone the Republican-controlled House.

The bipartisan coalition includes influential Democrats such as Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, No. 3 in the leadership. It also has the backing of Sen. Bob Menendez, the Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey poised to be chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. And it has the support of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, the new chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Republican heavy-hitters also have signed onto the deal’s framework, including two veterans of the bruising 2007 effort: Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. But it also won the support of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising GOP star and possible future presidential candidate. And the freshman Arizona Republican, Jeff Flake, who endorsed similar comprehensive plans during his House tenure, has also backed the proposal.

House Republicans are likely to be a tougher sell, but Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently endorsed Rubio’s approach and could be an important partner in selling the legislation to conservatives.

Many of the details have yet to be worked out since the plan has not yet been turned into legislation. There are bound to be fights within the group and off Capitol Hill as the legislative process begins in earnest, and it’s unclear whether the bipartisan group can stick together.

Despite the obstacles, supporters of the effort believe the post-2012 election environment offers a better chance for a comprehensive immigration deal. The plan would also seek an overhaul of the legal immigration system to attract highly skilled workers in the scientific and technological fields. It would add tougher measures aimed at forcing employers to ensure they’re hiring legal workers, while adding new provisions designed to attract lower-skilled migrant workers, including agricultural laborers who tend to work seasonally.

A number of prominent Republicans and conservatives have shifted their stance on the issue of “amnesty” — or a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants — in the aftermath of the two presidential elections in which the GOP took a pounding from Hispanic voters.

Rubio, in particular, has been selling to conservative commentators the idea of giving the nation’s illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status, and he’s won some early backing from the right. That has helped pave the way for the latest effort, according to the group’s participants, though Democrats have called for a more direct pathway to citizenship.

“Look at the last election,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.

“Second of all, this — we can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status,” McCain said. “We cannot forever have children who were born here — who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well. So I think the time is right.”

Before a pathway to citizenship can happen, the group says that new border security measures first must take effect, including an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and agents at the border, new rules for tracking people entering the country on temporary visas and the creation of a commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect.

As those security measures take effect, the proposal says, illegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis. That would allow them to live and work legally in the United States, unless they have committed serious crimes, which could subject them to deportation. Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.

After the enforcement measures take effect, those who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency. The proposal insists that those who have entered the country illegally would not get preferential treatment over legal immigrants playing by the rules.

Read more:

WASHINGTON POST: Boehner: It’s ‘time to deal’ with immigration
by ROSALIND S. HELDERMAN ON JANUARY 26, 2013 AT 4:07 PM JAN. 26, 2013

A bipartisan group of House members has been quietly meeting and is close to an agreement on changes to propose the nation’s immigration laws, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week in a speech to a Republican group.

In a speech that was closed to the press, Boehner told the Ripon Society, a Republican public policy organization, on Tuesday that it is “time to deal” with immigration changes. He said the House group, whose members he did not name, have been holding quiet conversations for three or four years and would be coming forward soon with proposals.

The Ripon Society released some excerpts on Wednesday but Boehner’s comments came in a question-and-answer period that has received less notice. They were first reported Saturday by the Hill newspaper.
The comments were significant because advocates of immigration changes have long assumed legislative action on the issue would need to begin in the Democratic-majority Senate.

A bipartisan group of Senators has been meeting in an attempt to draft a comprehensive immigration reform bill by March or April. Proponents hope a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate, potentially by the summer, could pressure the GOP-House to act as well. Their work comes as President Obama prepares a major push on the issue, beginning with a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

But Boehner’s comments suggested action in the House is possible as well. In response to a question, Boehner said it is “time to deal” with changes to immigration law. Republican leaders, long opposed to legal changes that would allow more than 11 million undocumented immigrants to obtain legal residency, are increasingly shifting on the issue. They fear alienating a growing bloc of Latino voters whose opposition could force the party into a permanent minority status.

“There’s a bipartisan group of members who have been meeting for three or four years now,” Boehner told the Ripon Society. “Frankly, I think they basically have an agreement. I’ve not seen the agreement. I don’t know all the pitfalls. But it’s, in my view, the right group of members.”

Read more:

Immigration Policy Update for January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

New Members in Key Congressional Committees

The new Congress convened on January 3rd, and House and Senate Democrats and Republicans have appointed members to their standing committees. Following is a list of new members of Committees that have jurisdiction over immigration.

Senate Judiciary Committee
Republicans joining the Senate Judiciary Committee include Ted Cruz of Texas, who during his campaign argued for a tripling of the border patrol, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has been a supporter of immigration reform in the past. The new Democrat on the committee is Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), who is expected to be an immigration reform ally.

The Judiciary Committee will continue to be led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

Senate Homeland Security Committee
There will be two new members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, both Democrats—Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).

Senator Thomas Carper (D-Del.) will Chair the Homeland Security Committee.

House Judiciary Committee
There will be 12 new members of the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans include Spenser Bachus (Ala.), who has co-sponsored many of former Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s restrictionist immigration bills; Raul Labrador (Idaho), who favors incremental changes in immigration law over comprehensive reform; and Doug Collins (Ga.), who while in the Georgia state legislature voted to support the Georgia law modeled on Arizona SB 1070. Other Republicans new to the Judiciary Committee are Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), George Holding (N.C.), Keith Rothfus (Pa.) and Mark Amodei (Nev). Four new Democrats on the committee—Joe Garcia (Fla.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Suzan Delbene (Wash.) and Karen Bass (Calif.)—are expected to support immigration reform and have made statements to that effect.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) will chair the Judiciary Committee. The Immigration Subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Va.), who told a local South Carolina television station that he expects to conduct hearings to inform legislation that Republicans will be able to support. See this article for Rep. Gowdy’s views on immigration reform. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, long a champion of immigration reform, announced that he will take a leave from the House Financial Services Committee to join the Judiciary Committee in order to participate in efforts to shape a reform bill.

House Homeland Security Committee
There will be 14 new members of the House Homeland Security Committee, including seven Democrats—Ron Barber (Ariz.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Filemon Vela (Texas), Eric Swalwell (Calif), Steven Horsford (Nev), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.)—all of whom are expected to be supporters of reform. Republicans include Richard Hudson (N.C.), who favors building a fence along the entire length of the southwest border, Chris Stewart (Utah), who favors cutting funding to “sanctuary cities,” and Steven Palazzo, who co-sponsored immigration enforcement legislation in Mississippi when he was a state legislator. Other Republicans new to the committee are Susan Brooks (Ind.), Keith Rothfus, Steve Daines (Mont.) and Scott Perry, (Pa.).

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) will Chair the Homeland Security Committee. He has said that one of his areas of focus this year will be enhancing border security. Rep. Candice Miller (R) of Michigan will continue as Chair of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) of South Carolina will be the new Chair of the (re-named) Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.

Napolitano, Holder, to Stay in Cabinet

On January 14, The Washington Post reported that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will stay on as Secretary of the Department in to the second term. Secretary Napolitano will likely play a key role in the coming debate on immigration reform.

Last week it was announced that, over at the Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder will also be staying on for the second term.

President Expected to Press for Immigration Reform Early

Press reports continue to indicate that President Obama will push for immigration reform early in his second term. The President may outline his principles for immigration reform in his State of the Union address, now scheduled for February 12.

Discussions are taking place in the House and Senate leading up to the formulation of legislation. Within the Republican party, while there will be strong resistance from restrictionist members of the party, there is also more interest in reform beyond merely more support for immigration enforcement. Senator Marco Rubio, who is expected to play an important role in the upcoming debate, summarized the importance of reform to the Republican Party in this New York Times story:

    “We are going to have a struggle speaking to a whole segment of the population [Latinos] about our principles of limited government and free enterprise if they think we don’t want them here.”

(You can read a more in-depth story about Senator Rubio’s immigration views in this Wall Street Journal article.)

Family Unity Final Rule Published

On January 3, USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register governing a new procedure by which certain immigrants may apply for a waiver of bars to reentry that will allow them to wait in the U.S. while their waiver is processed, instead of in his or her home country, as is currently the case. The standards for the waiver itself are not changed, and an individual must prove that his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship from being separated from the immigrant applicant. The new procedure merely allows family members to remain together while the waiver is processed.

The new process is available only for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, minor children, parents) who are otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa. USCIS noted that it received many comments asking that the new procedure be applied as well to other categories of immigrants (in particular, to family members of legal permanent residents). USCIS decided not to expand eligibility, but said that, “[a]fter assessing the effectiveness of the new provisional unlawful presence waiver process and its operational impact, DHS … will consider expanding the provisional unlawful presence waiver process to other categories.” Except for a few minor changes, the final rule was little changed from the proposed rule. It takes effect on March 4, 2013. A press release about the final rule publication can be read here.

Comprehensive Report on Immigration Enforcement Released

The Migration Policy Institute released a report on January 7 that takes a comprehensive look at U.S. immigration enforcement over the past 25 years. Growth in resources devoted to immigration enforcement has received strong bi-partisan support in this time period, and the report looks at how enforcement has grown and become more sophisticated in six areas: border enforcement, visa controls and travel screening, data systems and their ability to pull information from each other, workplace enforcement, detention and removal, and the intersection of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems. According to key findings in the report, the U.S. has come to a turning point in meeting immigration enforcement challenges. However, despite dramatic changes in recent years, public perception has not caught up to today’s realities. This report is an effort to catalogue the new reality.

ICE Announces FY 2012 Removals; Termination of Some 287(g) Programs

On December 21, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it had removed a record 410,000 individuals from the country in its Fiscal Year 2012. While the announcement specified that 55 percent of these individuals had been convicted of “felonies,” it cannot be judged from the announcement whether these were serious crimes. For example, certain immigration violations are felonies, and in immigration law even certain minor crimes can be counted as “aggravated felonies” due to changes enacted in 1996.

In the same announcement, ICE said that it had decided not to continue the 287(g) “Task Force” program. This program empowers state and local officers in certain circumstances to enforce immigration laws while on patrol if they are trained by ICE to do so. All of the Task Force agreements will expire and not be renewed. ICE said that it had concluded that other enforcement programs, including Secure Communities, were more effective in focusing agency resources on priority cases. The 287(g) Jail Model agreements are not being terminated, but most are being extended until June 30 of this year. (With Jail Model agreements, specially-trained state and local enforcement officers are delegated authority to enforce immigration laws once individuals are booked into a local or state detention facility.)

Undocumented Immigrants to get Driver’s Licenses in Illinois

On January 8, the Illinois House approved legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses from the state. The Senate had previously approved the bill, and the Governor issued a statement indicating he will sign it. The bill gives undocumented immigrants access to an existing document, the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License, which is visually distinct from the ordinary Illinois driver’s license and may not be used for identification in situations requiring compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Illinois becomes the fourth state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

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