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Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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In Congress This Week: New Appropriations for Immigration Courts and SCAAP

May 29, 2014 - Posted by Mario Moreno

The House approved HR 4460, The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015, earlier today.

This bill includes funding for the Department of Justice, which oversees the distribution of funds for areas of our immigration system including the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).

The Executive Office for Immigration Review

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) includes funding for our nation’s immigration courts and judges. For years funding for EOIR has failed to keep pace with increases in immigration enforcement. This has created a backlog of 366,000 cases and an average wait time of more than 570 days.

However, this year the House has taken a step in the right direction. It has appropriated $336 million for EOIR, an 8 percent increase over last year. Although it falls below the president’s request of $351 million, this new funding would allow EOIR to hire new immigration judges.

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) is also funded through the Department of Justice. This program provides federal payments to states and localities that incur costs for incarcerating undocumented immigrants. The president has attempted to end this program in his budget the past two years, but it is very popular in Congress. In this year's bill the program is funded at $180 million, and the House of Representatives is looking to increase that by 16 percent, to $210 million, for the next fiscal year.

Infographic on spending for immigration judges

Interior Enforcement Smart Enforcement Priorities

The Week Ahead May 27-30

May 27, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“It’s time for effective, commonsense and accountable [immigration] solutions that respect and enhance the rule of law. We need to solve this challenge now. No more excuses. No more waiting.”

— Mark Curran, Sheriff, Lake County, Ill., in an ad that ran at the Indianapolis 500 Friday through Sunday


Event Today to Highlight Immigrant Military Veterans and Service Members
Veterans will meet today in Chicago to shine a light on the vital importance of immigrants in the U.S. military and the need for immigration reform that honors the contributions of immigrants and immigrant veterans. Military veterans are a powerful emerging voice in favor of reform.

At today’s event, “Defending Our Freedom: Illinois’ Immigrant Soldiers,” leaders in the veteran community will highlight the vital role of immigrants in our military and to our national security, as well as the plight of immigrants who have served and later were deported.

Today’s gathering follows a similar one in Arizona on April 30th, and other veterans gatherings are in the works in South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Follow today’s event and the support for immigration reform among military veterans on Twitter using #Vets4Reform.

Homeland Security Secretary to Testify before Congress
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify as the sole witness Thursday at a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, the first time the new secretary will testify before Congress.

While the Department of Homeland Security's responsibilities includes a wide variety of issues, from cybersecurity to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the hearing is likely to focus on the department's ongoing review of its immigration enforcement priorities and a report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The review, which President Obama announced in March, comes after mounting pressure by advocates to end record levels of enforcement and deportations. The report, based on an unreferenced document, indicated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “released” thousands of criminal aliens who were awaiting decisions regarding their deportation.

Although more information is necessary, most of the people in question were not merely “released” by ICE. They are still being monitored, using alternatives to detention such as ankle bracelets or regular check-ins, and they are still in removal proceedings. According to the most recent ICE statistics, 94 percent of people in alternatives to detention appear at their removal hearings.

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: INDIANAPOLIS STAR: Immigration reform seeks big audience at Indianapolis 500
By Diana Penner
May 21, 2014
The Indianapolis 500 field features racers from many countries, the race is watched by millions of people around the globe — and this year, it also will be a forum for Americans urging thoughtful immigration policy reform.
A coalition called Bibles, Badges and Business, an initiative of the group National Immigration Forum, said it will unveil a “jumbotron” message at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday calling for immigration reform, a message that will be in place through race weekend.
The formal announcement and unveiling is scheduled for a news conference via teleconference. Among those slated to speak is Angela Smith Jones, public policy director of the Indy Chamber.
Jones said she was first approached in late 2011 or early 2012 to become involved in the coalition of law enforcement, business representatives and faith-based organizations.
The multistate group began to form after a “wave” of anti-immigration measures were passed in several states, she said.
Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff Mark Curran, who has gained national attention for his advocacy on the issue, has at least one specific demand:
“All I can say is: Speaker Boehner, you’re killin’ us. Call the bill.”
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has yet to call for a vote on a limited immigration reform bill, although discussions have been going on this week.
Read more:

WASHINGTON POST: The other side of deportation: An American struggles to prepare for life without husband
By Eli Saslow
May 25, 2014
Lawrence, Kan. — Each ordinary moment now seemed worthy of preservation, so Madina Salaty, 45, turned on her cellphone camera and hit record. “Four days left,” she said, her voice and the video both shaky as her husband leashed the dog and headed toward their front door. He walked past the framed picture of their wedding in 2011, past the University of Kansas flag on their porch, past the perennials they had planted together in the garden. He led the dog onto the wide sidewalks and manicured lawns of downtown Lawrence, where the lampposts were painted red, white and blue.
“We are going on a walk,” Salaty said, narrating the video, focusing the camera on her husband, Zunu Zunaid, 37. He turned back to her and smiled.
“Hi, baby,” he said.
“Hi, baby,” she said.
For the past five months, she had been documenting the gradual unraveling of their lives, in moments both mundane and monumental: the first visit to their home by immigration officers, the delivery of Zunaid’s deportation orders, his final trips to eat American ice cream and watch American basketball. Now only four days remained before he would be sent off to Bangladesh, a deportation that would upend not just one life but two. Zunaid would be forcibly separated from the United States after 20 years; his wife, an American citizen, would be forcibly separated from her husband.
Read more:

The Week Ahead May 19-23

May 19, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“Congress must pass legislation that will fix our broken [immigration] system. We have the strongest economy in the world, the most innovative businesses and a history replete with examples of how legal immigration has made us stronger. Conservatives need to seize on immigration reform as an opportunity for growth, to reaffirm who we are and what makes our country great.”

— Sal Russo, Co-founder of the Tea Party Express, May 14


No Letup Following a Powerful Week for Immigration Reform
Immigration was front and center among conservatives last week, and support for votes on immigration reform was unmistakable.

On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner said, “Our entire immigration process is broken … it all needs to be addressed.” Texas faith and business leaders were on hand to show support for House leaders and rank-and-file representatives as they move reform forward. The next day in Washington, D.C., law enforcement leaders urged Congress to vote on reform that will help them keep our communities safer, while in six Mountain West states, leaders signed a letter to Congress and held press events urging action.

Then on Wednesday, the Partnership for a New American Economy, Americans for Tax Reform and the Tea Party Express released a poll showing strong support — upward of 70 percent — for immigration reform among Republican primary voters who identify with the Tea Party. Respondents support reform that includes an opportunity for immigrants without documentation to earn legal status or U.S. citizenship if they meet certain conditions, and they support votes from Congress in 2014. Other conservative leaders echoed their call.

Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform leaders will keep their foot on the gas pedal this week. Leaders will join a press call Friday to announce a public service announcement featuring Lake County, Ill., Sheriff Mark Curran that will air outside Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout the weekend of the Indianapolis 500. “It’s time for effective, commonsense and accountable solutions that respect and enhance the rule of law,” Curran says in the spot. “We need to solve this challenge now. No more excuses. No more waiting.”

Evangelical Immigration Table to Premiere Documentary Film June 4
On June 4 in Chicago, the Evangelical Immigration Table will premiere “The Stranger.” This documentary film highlights the biblical call to welcome the stranger and the moral imperatives for immigration reform, including the immense human costs our current system exacts on our churches, our families and our communities.

The premiere coincides with the next congressional recess, and hundreds of local screenings around the country will follow throughout June. The trailer for the film will be available online later today.

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: ROLL CALL (Russo Op-Ed): Conservatives Need to Fix the Broken U.S. Immigration System
By Sal Russo
May 14, 2014
The U.S. immigration system is flawed and broken. Conservatives should be at the forefront of reform so the law reflects the just interests of the United States, not misty-eyed ideals of some of the liberal do-gooder reformers. What is good for America should be the sole criteria for immigration reform.
Our laws today are unenforced and citizens and companies who play by the rules are undermined by bad actors who do not. This undermines our rule of law and slows our economic growth. In today’s global economy, we cannot afford the status quo.
Congress must pass legislation that will fix our broken system. We have the strongest economy in the world, the most innovative businesses and a history replete with examples of how legal immigration has made us stronger. Conservatives need to seize on immigration reform as an opportunity for growth, to reaffirm who we are and what makes our country great.
Our economy has long outgrown the visa programs we have now. In high-skilled industries such as engineering and medicine, we do not have the talent we need to fill the jobs. These industries are the fastest growing in the country and we depend on them for job creation and economic growth. But according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, we face a shortage of more than 235,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields by 2018.
Read more:

TAMPA TRIBUNE (Cardenas Op-Ed): Congress needs to act with urgency to fix badly broken immigration system
By Al Cardenas
May 15, 2014
Everyone in Congress agrees that we have an unsustainable immigration crisis. This crisis includes porous borders, poor visa expiration controls, and a labor quota system that does not respond to the labor and production needs of our economy and is, in fact, detrimental to our country in its current state.
Thus, after the government shutdown of last fall, Congress returned to work pledging to make immigration reform a reality. Now, six months later, we are looking at a narrowing window of opportunity to fully engage on this issue as soon as Congress returns from recess.
The leadership of the House understands how imperative it is to adopt legislation to provide bipartisan solutions to our immigration and economic challenges.
America has a declining population. In 20 years, 79 million baby-boomer generation Americans will have left the workforce to be replaced by fewer than 50 million X-generation and millennials. The USA cannot sustain its economic production or the labor needs of its employers without a smart legal immigration system being put in place now.
In Florida, it is estimated that our economy and GDP will increase by $2.7 billion and a total of 35,000 new jobs will have been created within the first decade after the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. This is one reason why 70 percent of Floridians favor legislative action now.
Read more:

The Week Ahead May 12-16

May 13, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“Immigration has been good for our country; we’re a nation of immigrants. The whole process, our entire immigration process, is broken. Whether it’s all the visa programs and the hurdles we put people through, whether it’s those who are here without documents — it all needs to be addressed.”

— House Speaker John Boehner, May 12


As Leaders Continue to Speak Out for Reform, Constituents Show that Immigration is a Winning Issue
As this summer’s key legislative window approaches, leaders from across the faith, technology, business, law enforcement and agriculture communities continue to urge congressional action on reform.

This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (OH-08) held a luncheon with business, faith and other Texas leaders to discuss immigration. “I feel strongly about the need to deal with immigration reform,” Boehner said. “I do believe that the vast majority of the members of our party want to address it.” Texas faith and business leaders responded with support and a message of urgency for votes on reform.

Earlier, at an event in D.C. this morning, Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Republicans not even to “bother to run a candidate in 2016” if they don’t address reform this year.

On Tuesday, local law enforcement leaders in Washington for Police Week will speak on a 1:30 p.m. Bibles, Badges and Business press call about how immigration reform can improve community safety — while across the Mountain West, local leaders are hosting press conferences in Boise, Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City to release a joint letter to Congress, calling on their legislators to take action this year on meaningful immigration reform.

While the number of House Republicans speaking out for reform continues to grow, including both leadership and rank-and-file members, constituents are showing them that immigration is a winning issue and that they want a #VoteOnReform this year.

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: POLITICO: Chamber to GOP: Don’t bother with 2016 without immigration reform
By Kevin Robillard
May 12, 2014
Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the GOP shouldn’t even field a presidential candidate in 2016 unless Congress passes immigration reform this year.
“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” Donohue joked at an event on infrastructure investment in D.C. “Think about that. Think about who the voters are. I just did that to get everybody’s attention.”
Republicans have focused on immigration reform as a way to woo Hispanic voters, who have increasingly drifted to Democrats over the past two election cycles. Growing Hispanic populations in Nevada, Texas and elsewhere could make those states more amenable to Democrats in the future.
Donohue, whose group has spent months pushing House Republicans to support immigration reform, was speaking about what he thought a dysfunctional Congress could still get done in 2014.
“You think Congress can get immigration reform done this year, in an election year?” moderator Eamon Javers asked Donohue.
“Yes, yes,” Donohue replied.
Read more:

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: House Speaker Boehner to visit S.A.
By Eva Ruth Moravec
May 11, 2014
SAN ANTONIO — As House Speaker John Boehner prepares for a fundraising tour through Texas — including a stop here Monday — groups pushing for comprehensive immigration reform are readying to apply the pressure.
Boehner, R-Ohio, will attend fundraisers in Laredo, San Antonio, Houston and Midland.
After his San Antonio fundraiser, Boehner will speak to local business leaders during a luncheon at the Marriott Rivercenter sponsored by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Business leaders expect that immigration will be among the topics at the event.
Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president of IBC Bank, said the luncheon is meant to help key lawmakers better understand the San Antonio community, one that cares deeply about immigration issues. Both chambers have endorsed comprehensive immigration reform.
“There's a pretty strong consensus among the chambers that the current system isn't working, and it's only going to get worse if we don't fix it,” Aldrete said.
Overhauling the country's immigration laws has been a priority of President Barack Obama. Earlier this year, Boehner chastised his House GOP colleagues for blocking reform.
A week later, Boehner backpedaled, saying his party didn't trust Obama as a partner in the matter and doubted that he would enforce any new laws.
Read more:

The Week Ahead May 5-9

May 05, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“We are going to continue to try to make sure that we do immigration reform, because it’s important we do it. Both for enforcement of the laws, and for the legal status of those who are not lawfully here. And our legal immigration programs need to be reformed to address this issue… the fact of the matter is that many members of the House want to do immigration reform. So my job and the job of others is to keep making sure that we work on it to get it done the right way.”

— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in an Al Punto interview with Jorge Ramos, May 4

“Immigration reform offers the finest opportunity we in the United States have had to put politics aside and do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time."

— Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, at the April 29 Pastors for Reform press conference


On the Hill and Across the Country, Momentum for Reform Continues to Build
On Sunday, when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte spoke about the need for action on immigration this year, he added his voice to the growing chorus from inside the Republican House Caucus over the past few weeks.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle are continuing to realize that immigration reform is in the best interest of our country’s economy, security and moral integrity – and that it’s not a losing issue. Meanwhile, their constituents are continuing to let them know that will be looking for a #VoteOnReform this Congress.

Last week alone, over 250 evangelical pastors from 25 states across the country came to Washington for a press conference, worship service and Congressional meetings, while Arizona veterans came together to discuss the need for reform from a veterans and military perspective.

The message coming from across the faith, law enforcement and business communities is clear: we need action on commonsense reform.

Organizations Help Immigrants Pursue Citizenship
As Congress begins to enter an important legislative window, immigrant integrations organizations, the New Americans Campaign and CUNY Citizenship Now! are coming together on Saturday to host a free citizenship workshop to help eligible residents with their citizenship applications.

Saturday’s workshop is the latest in a series of efforts by the New Americans Campaign to provide green-card holders with free citizenship assistance. Over the last two years, the New Americans Campaign has helped over 90,000 green card holders apply for citizenship, and saved them over $67 million in the process.

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: BAPTIST PRESS: Patterson, Wright urge immigration reform
By Michelle Tyer
April 30, 2014
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Paige Patterson and Bryant Wright were among 250-plus leaders at an Evangelical Immigration Table gathering in Washington Tuesday (April 29) to urge Congress to act on immigration reform.
Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas and a former SBC president, and Wright, pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and also a former SBC president, were among the event's featured speakers.
Patterson, in a news conference, said he believes "we are at a point in this country where we are very much on the verge of acting unjustly." It is "my desire to see the fear of God inform all of our actions," he said.
The United States has always been known as a generous country that readily provides help and relief to other countries in need, Patterson said, calling for the U.S. to do likewise for those from other countries who come to America.
"I believe the fear of God informing our actions would cause us to reach out to many people in this country from many different origins who are not known lawbreakers, not workers of wickedness, but simply needing an opportunity," Patterson said. "We cannot afford on the issue of immigration reform to be anything other than kind and generous."
Read more:

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