National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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The Week Ahead: December 16-20

December 16, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern

“I believe [immigration] reform must be comprehensive and include provisions that allow the federal government to continue efforts to strengthen border security, target employers who hire undocumented workers, and modernize the immigration system itself…If comprehensive immigration reform is enacted, and if I am confirmed, a priority for me will be the effective implementation of that reform.”

— Department of Homeland Security nominee Jeh Johnson, in a Dec. 12th letter to six Judiciary panel Republicans, as reported by Politico


Bipartisan Budget Deal in the House Points to Promising 2014 for Immigration:
Last week, the House of Representatives struck a bipartisan two-year budget deal with a strong 332-94 vote. Speaker Boehner’s ardent support of the cross-aisle agreement and dismissal of outside groups’ persuasion tactics, all on the heels of his recent Becky Tallent hire, were taken as good signals for the path forward on immigration reform in the New Year.

With House leadership showing positive signs for action and the budget negotiations cleared from the calendar, all eyes will be on immigration reform come 2014.

Department of Homeland Security Nominations Move Ahead:
The nomination vote for Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is slated to move ahead today, with the expectation that he will be approved for the post. Monday’s votes will conclude those that began last week and lasted into two consecutive all-night sessions. Though Senate leaders have not yet set a date for a final confirmation vote, the Senate is also expected to vote this week on Alejandro Mayorkas’ nomination for Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

CALENDAR: Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:

MUST READ: WASHINGTON POST: Budget deal in Congress raises White House hopes on other priorities
By David Nakamura
December 13, 2013
A round of successful deal-making on Capitol Hill has altered the political dynamic in Washington, raising hopes within the Obama administration that stalled second-term priorities such as immigration might still have a chance at success.
The key movement has come in the House, where members of both parties overwhelmingly approved a two-year budget deal and where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) declared war on the tea party groups that have bedeviled him.
The developments heighten the possibility of progress on issues such as immigration, which has been at the top of President Obama’s agenda since he won more than 70 percent of the Latino and Asian vote on the way to reelection last year.
The budget agreement, which is expected to pass the Senate, also paves the way for a more normal appropriations process that will give the White House additional flexibility in deciding where to spend a bigger pot of money over the next two years. That could allow it to restore funding for priorities such as Head Start and the National Institutes of Health, although Republicans will have a say.
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ARIZONA DAILY STAR (Kicanas and Click Op-Ed): Community, business and faith leaders call for immigration reform
By Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Jim Click
December 12, 2013
We are proud to be Arizonans and residents of a state whose rich history includes pioneers with a strong spirit and the stamina to endure the hardships of settling a rough, untamed country to create a bountiful place to live, rich in nature’s beauty and resources. This history is intimately connected to our neighbor, Mexico, through the Pimeria Alta – the desert – and through the explorations of Fr. Eusebio Kino, S.J., a missionary who traveled through what is now southern Arizona and northern Mexico on horseback in the 1700s.
But unlike the past, the border that once served as a safe and beneficial gateway now includes a wall that separates our countries. Now this passage can result in death from unrelenting heat and treacherous terrain for migrants seeking a better life or protection from persecution. That border, if crossed illegally, can lead to a lifetime burden of fear and anguish, and of living in the shadows of our society, instead of relief from poverty.
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THE HILL: Boehner gives immigration backers hope
By Niall Stanage
December 13, 2013
Both sides in the immigration debate are watching Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) closely after Thursday evening’s emphatic House vote in favor of a bipartisan budget deal.
The calculus is clear in the minds of immigration reform advocates.
They believe Boehner wants to get some kind of deal done on immigration, and any development that replenishes his political capital helps their cause.
That Boehner’s budget victory came as he took on the outside conservative groups that have hampered his ability to lead his conference is an added plus.
“Boehner’s power in the conference is going to be improved,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of the pro-reform, business-oriented ImmigrationWorks USA, in advance of the 332-94 House vote. “Anything that gives him more juice is a good thing.”
Meanwhile, some of the conservative groups that are now at loggerheads with Boehner worry that the deal-making approach he has adopted on the budget will seep into other issues, including immigration.
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The Week Ahead: December 9-13

December 09, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern

“I am far from the only member of my party to recognize that our system needs change. To reap the economic and social benefits that will follow top-to-bottom immigration reform, we must begin by passing legislation to address every aspect of immigration reform in the House. I will remain focused on that goal this year and next.”

— Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10), in a Dec. 3 op-ed


Positive Movement in the House Heralds Promising 2014 for Reform
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (OH-08) hired Becky Tallent as his immigration policy advisor — a move widely regarded as a sign that he intends to prioritize immigration reform in 2014. Tallent will join Boehner’s office from the Bipartisan Policy Center, where she was director of immigration policy. She also served as Chief of Staff for Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and played a crucial role in the immigration reform efforts of 2006-2007.

Boehner’s staffing announcement came just before the Evangelical Immigration Table announced its latest advertising effort, featuring ads that focus on prayers for Speaker Boehner in the Express newspaper in Washington, D.C., and on news-talk radio in D.C., Christian radio in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and statewide in North Carolina, and Spanish radio in Orange County, Calif.

Republican Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) also revealed details of a draft legalization proposal last week — another sign of probable movement on immigration in the House. His proposal, if introduced, would be the first piece of legalization legislation put forward by a Republican representative.

CALENDAR: Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:

MUST READ: WASHINGTON POST (Andres Op-Ed): Immigrants, like me, want to succeed. Congress should let them.
By Jose Andres
December 6, 2013
Jose Andres is a chef and restaurant owner.
The first time I saw America was from my perch on the mast of a Spanish naval ship, where I could spot the Statue of Liberty reaching proudly into the open, endless American sky. At night, I would often wonder whether that sky was the explanation for the stars on the American flag — put there so the world would know that this is a place of limitless possibility, where anyone from anywhere can strive for a better life.
I recalled that starry sky on Nov. 13, when after 23 years in America, my wife, Patricia, and I were sworn in as United States citizens. The naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, attended by 72 other tearful immigrants from 35 countries, was a moment I had dreamed about since the day I arrived in America with little more than $50 and a set of cooking knives, determined to belong. I eventually settled in Washington, where my partners and I have been fortunate to build a restaurant business that now employs thousands of Americans across the country.
And yet, I have become a citizen at a time when legislation is stalled in Congress that would afford millions of other immigrants the chance to earn their citizenship, too. With this bill, which already has the support of many Republican and most Democratic senators, we are closer than ever to achieving immigration reform. So I’d like to address the members of Congress who still have concerns about passing the bill:
I understand that this is a difficult and complicated issue. But we are not asking for an open-door policy that allows unregulated immigration. Indeed, the bill before Congress would do more to secure our borders than any other law in history. What we’re asking is to give the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already part of America’s DNA a chance — a chance to prove they are worthy of citizenship; a chance to contribute more to this incredible country; a chance to belong.
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GRAND RAPIDS PRESS (Michigan) (Heartwell Op-Ed): As new Americans strengthen our city, we need a better immigration process
By George Heartwell
December 9, 2013
Area business and faith leaders recently met in Grand Rapids to discuss the importance of immigration reform and what it means to the communities and economy of western Michigan.
The answer: A lot.
The meeting took place at the Goei Center, the central hub of one of the Midwest’s largest privately owned floral businesses. Owner Bing Goei immigrated to the U.S. from Indonesia, settled in Grand Rapids and built a business that now does more than $5 million in sales every year.
While we wait on the House of Representatives to take up immigration reform that can’t come too soon, we have strong story to tell in Grand Rapids: Our new Americans are a crucial part of our community and its economic vitality.
These new Americans buy homes, revitalize neighborhoods, open businesses and create jobs, all benefiting the broader community. Side by side, we work together for the American dream.
These contributions are not solely economic. We pray together at our places of worship, and our children learn together in our schools.
And as our state moves forward from the loss of a million jobs and a severe dip in prosperity between 2000 and 2010, we recognize our immigrant population as a source of strength.
Leaders such as Gov. Rick Snyder have taken notice. “Immigration and economic development — they go hand in hand,” Snyder said in March. “Open the welcome mat.”
Michigan and Grand Rapids leaders are not alone in recognizing that immigrant Americans are essential to our communities and our economy. From the design talent our international furniture companies need to the taqueria stabilizing a disinvested Grand Rapids street, immigrants create jobs and economic growth that help all of us.
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The Week Ahead: December 2 - December 6

December 02, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern

“Is our immigration system really just? Does it reflect America’s values? Does it reflect God’s values? Are these laws serving the people of our country? Are they holding up our nation as a place of hope and a blessing to the world? If not, pray for and encourage your members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to lead the way in writing and passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

— Wes Helm, missions pastor at Springcreek Church in Garland, Texas, in the Dallas Morning News Dec. 1


Fast for Families Draws Attention
Now on its 21st day, the Fast for Families continues on the National Mall, led by faith, labor and immigrant advocacy leaders. Many across the country are joining the fast as well, and this week the group is ramping up its call to action. Today through Wednesday are nationwide days of fasting, and events in D.C. will include a press conference Tuesday morning (see calendar below).

Visitors to the fast have included faith leaders from across the country, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and, on Friday, the president and First Lady.

Popular Chef Jose Andres Celebrates His U.S. Citizenship
Jose Andres, who became a U.S. citizen last month after 23 years in the United States, was a guest today on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Andres spoke about becoming a citizen and both spoke and fielded questions about immigration reform during the segment.

At the end of October, the National Immigration Forum presented Jose Andres with a Keepers of the American Dream Award.

“We need to remember that, as immigrants, we have to work hard to belong to this country,” Andrés said upon receiving the award. “One of the first great minds I met when I arrived in Washington was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and he told me something that I hold dear to my heart. He said to me, “If you want to belong to this country, here it is! You only have to work for it.”

CALENDAR: Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:

MUST READ: WASHINGTON POST (Editorial): Immigration’s electoral effect shouldn’t scare the GOP
November 30, 2013
MANY REPUBLICANS in Congress oppose immigration reform for fear of it creating millions of new Democratic voters and putting the White House forever beyond the GOP’s electoral reach. “This is President Obama’s number one political agenda item because he knows we will never again have a Republican president, ever, if amnesty goes into effect,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told World Net Daily, an online publication, in June.
That conviction helps explain the party’s opposition to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But there are at least two reasons to doubt the Republican assumption. One is that any plan with a chance of enactment will contain a very long timeline for naturalizing the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Under the Senate bill passed in June, immigrants would have to wait 13 years to become citizens; under some House proposals, the wait would be even longer. It is folly to predict how the nation, let alone particular voting blocs, might tilt in the 2028 or 2032 presidential elections.
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ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Advocates redouble efforts on immigration reform
By Dan Nowicki and Daniel Gonzalez
November 28, 2013
PHOENIX -- This was supposed to be the year of immigration reform.
But with hope quickly fading that an immigration bill will pass by year's end, advocates are shifting their focus to 2014, girding for an even tougher battle as the already-contentious issue drifts into the perilous political waters of an election year.
Reform advocates are determined to keep the immigration debate alive, vowing to continue pressing lawmakers to pass immigration reform, if not this year, then next.
"We need to keep fanning the flames," said Eduardo Nevares, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and immigration-reform advocate.
Until Congress acts, some activists also are increasing calls on President Barack Obama to take action on his own by stopping deportations and expanding his deferred-action program to a larger number of undocumented immigrants, not just those brought here illegally as children.
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