National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Updates Archives

The Week Ahead June 30- July 3

June 30, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“The Cantor loss doesn’t make the need for immigration reform any less urgent, it doesn’t change the Bible’s thousands of years of guidance on immigration. We’re beyond the point of having to win this on principle or policy. We’re now just at the point of politics. We’re not going anywhere. The Southern Baptist Convention is going to continue to call for immigration reform until we get this done.”

— Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President of Public Policy and Research for the ERLC, during a panel discussion after the Capitol Hill premiere of The Stranger


4th of July Celebrations Underscore Importance of Integration and Citizenship
As our country celebrates its Independence Day this week, the displays of national pride and patriotism serve as an important reminder about the significance of citizenship and immigrant integration efforts.

Throughout the month of June, shared a number of touching, inspiring and impressive immigrant stories celebrating the shared and varied history of our nation of immigrants. These stories of immigration around the Immigrant Heritage Month perfectly catapult us into celebrating our shared pride in the United States.

In that vein, veterans from the Veterans for Immigration Reform campaign will be joining immigrants and their families at the White House on Friday for a special 4th of July naturalization ceremony.

Migrant Children Highlight Urgent Need for Reform
In response to the influx of unaccompanied alien minors to our southern border, the Obama administration has requested billions of dollars from Congress to expedite their processing and removal. Additionally, the White House is announcing that it will ask Congress to weaken existing laws, including the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), that were enacted to protect those most vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.

The administration and Congress clearly recognize the urgency of this situation. They also need to recognize and address how our broken immigration system exacerbates the challenge. Eligible children should be able to come here through a process, not a river, and congressional inaction is wounding our economy, to the profit of cartels south of the border.

As children and families are processed, no shortcuts should be taken. And we must look at the bigger picture: Each day that we continue with our broken immigration system is another day of economic opportunities lost, families separated and criminals preying on desperate people in desperate situations.

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: USA TODAY: Tactical shift by cartels could be fueling migrant surge
By Rick Jervis
June 27, 2014
AUSTIN – The masses of unaccompanied youth who have recently crossed Texas' southern border tell of gang violence and economic hardship as main motivators for their treacherous trip north.
But a tactical shift by Mexican drug cartels and their splinter groups could be fueling the exodus as well, analysts and law enforcement officials say.
Recent arrests of the leadership of the Zetas and Gulf cartels, which control much of the illicit human transit just south of McAllen, Texas, has dismantled the groups' hierarchy and led to splinter groups that are shifting away from drug trafficking and getting increasingly involved in human smuggling, said Tony Payan,director of the Mexico Center at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. The cartels, now roaming Mexico in smaller, independent groups, work in tangent with so-called "coyotes" – or smuggling guides – to recruit families from their Central American neighborhoods and bring them north through Mexico with promises of better lives in the USA, he said.
Read more:

Bethlehem Project Joins in Unveiling of Bipartisan Integration Bill

June 27, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

This past Monday, representatives from the Bethlehem Project in Miami joined with Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-TX) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to unveil the New American Success Act – a bipartisan bill that would provide assistance to those wishing to pursue citizenship.

The bill would provide greater access for English language training, civic education, and citizenship services for aspiring Americans.

Wendy Kallergis, CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, attended the event in representation of the Bethlehem Project, “The Bethlehem Project has allowed us to offer citizenship services onsite to our employees, including English and civics education,” Kallergis said. “The New American Success Act is exciting because it would allow more businesses and communities to reap the benefits of initiatives like ours.”

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen added in a statement: “With [Integration Success] Grants, creative programs such as the Bethlehem Project can become more expansive to include things like financial literacy and the other education opportunities that accelerate the integration process, along with non-traditional partners like the private sector.”

Over the course of a year, the Bethlehem Project has brought together more than 70 businesses nationwide to provide citizenship services to their employees at the worksite. Initiatives like the New American Success Act can help expand that work and help make sure that our nation’s immigrants are equipped with the opportunities, skills, and status to succeed.

Learn more about the Bethlehem Project here.

Policy Recommendations On Unaccompanied Children (UAC) at Southwest Border

June 25, 2014 - Posted by Mario Moreno

The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on June 25, 2014, to discuss the recent increase in unaccompanied children (UAC) at the Southwest border – a problem that has reached beyond the capacity of an overburdened immigration system.

The National Immigration Forum submitted the following recommendations to the Committee ahead of its hearing:

Fix our broken immigration system

Ensure that children are not ending up in the wrong hands and avoid trafficking

Children should be guaranteed legal counsel in removal proceedings and subsequent appeals

Incorporate the ‘best interest of the child’ standard in considering each case

Increase funding for the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR)

Seek public and private partnerships to provide alternatives to detention

Immigration Reform

Policy Update: Immigration Reform Still Alive in Congress

June 24, 2014 - Posted by Jacinta Ma

It has been a year since the Senate passed S.744, a sweeping, bipartisan immigration overhaul. However, reform has been stalled in the House, as internal divisions within the Republican Conference have prevented House Leadership from agreeing on a path forward. Many members of Congress have been waiting to see how pro-reform candidates fare in their primaries. As the primary season winds down, supporters of immigration reform have fared well, although one high-profile result has created significant uncertainty.

In a stunning upset, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was defeated in his congressional primary on June 10 by underfunded economics professor Dave Brat, 56%-44%. While many analysts initially saw Cantor’s loss as the death knell for immigration reform, subsequent analysis (including from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)) has led many to reconsider the initial reaction.

Although a few thousand Republican activists were able to topple Cantor, the Republican Party’s second-highest-ranking member in the House, the role of immigration in his defeat is dubious at best. While it is true that Cantor’s opponent attacked his support for “amnesty,” polling data demonstrated that the majority of Republican primary voters in Cantor’s district actually supported immigration reform with 72% of Republican primary voters in the district “strongly” or “somewhat” supporting an immigration reform plan mirroring the Senate bill (ensuring undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. pay a penalty, learn English, pass a criminal background check, pay taxes, and wait a minimum of 13 years before they can be eligible for citizenship). The factors that more clearly led to Cantor’s shocking defeat were the GOP primary electorate’s resentment of House Republican leadership, Cantor’s inattentiveness to his district, the campaign’s various strategic missteps, and Cantor’s relatively low likeability ratings. Moreover, many have highlighted Cantor’s straddling and dissonant positions on immigration reform including promising to unveil legislation to provide legal status to DREAMers (but never actually doing so), and campaigning on his efforts “stopping the Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty” while expressing a willingness “to reach a consensus on . . . border security, e-Verify, and what we do about children.”

On June 19, the House Republican Conference replaced the defeated Cantor as House Majority Leader. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) easily won the race to serve as Majority Leader, defeating Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). In the race to replace the elevated McCarthy as House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) defeated Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) on the first ballot. McCarthy has previously stated that immigration reform will happen and should include legalization for the undocumented. He is now in the position of shaping the House GOP’s agenda.

Republican primary elections offer clarity on support for reform: Immigration can be a winning issue
While Cantor’s ambiguous and conflicting message on immigration did him no favors in his primary, other candidates who have supported reform in strong and clear terms won their primaries decisively, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a categorical supporter of immigration reform who helped lead the fight to pass legislation in the Senate last year, very comfortably won his primary in South Carolina the same day Cantor lost. Graham received 57 percent of the vote, far ahead of the 15 percent received by the second-place finisher in a field of six challengers.

Similarly, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) easily won her primary election in North Carolina’s 2nd district in May. Ellmers, who has been a vocal supporter of reform, won handily over radio talk-show host Frank Roche. Roche used immigration as a focus of his campaign, stating that he would “protect the Republican Party from this massive mistake that is amnesty.” While he received the support of fellow conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter, Ellmers received the support of 59 percent of her district’s primary voters.

While the concern remains that Cantor’s loss could paralyze mainstream Republican House members from taking action, incapacitating fear on the part of House Republicans would be misguided. With Congress’s approval rating at record low levels, continued inaction in Washington may imperil the Republican House majority in 2014, and could have devastating effects on Republican prospects in 2016. Given all of the problems with Cantor’s campaign having nothing to do with immigration—and the political incentives favoring reform—the inevitable round of obituaries for immigration reform in the wake of Cantor’s loss should therefore be met with some skepticism.

Recent polling finds conservative Republicans support reform
In addition to polling conducted in Cantor’s district, several other recent polls demonstrate widespread support for immigration reform, including among Republican voters. In May, Politico released a poll of likely voters in places with the most competitive House and Senate districts. In that poll, voters were asked if they “support or oppose comprehensive immigration reform.” Overall, 71 percent of respondents said they support reform, but the response from Republican voters was not much different—64 percent of Republicans polled said they support comprehensive immigration reform. The Politico poll merely asked about comprehensive immigration reform without specifying what that meant. As we know from other polls, the more reform is described (by saying, for example, it includes a path to citizenship for persons who meet certain conditions such as those contained in the Senate legislation), the more likely the response is supportive.

A collaboration of ten Republican polling firms was used to conduct surveys of registered voters nationwide, with an oversample of Republican voters, in the middle of May. (The collaboration also separately surveyed Hispanic voters.) The national survey found that, among Republican voters, a strong majority supports the idea that “undocumented immigrants” should be “allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship” or should be “allowed to apply for legal status.” Of those who identified as “strong Republicans” the breakdown was 28% supporting citizenship and 37% supporting legal status but not citizenship. (Only 29% support deportation.)

Focusing on Tea Party sympathizers, a recent poll conducted by McLaughlin and Associates found that these voters are more likely to support “a candidate for Congress who supports broad immigration reform, that would increase border security and a way for undocumented immigrants who are already in this country to stay in this country…,” (69 percent) versus a candidate “who focuses only on increasing border security and enforcement” (26 percent).

Results of these polls echo analysis of data guru Nate Silver, who examined a number of public opinion surveys and concluded that Republican voters are broadly supportive of immigration reform. On average, support among Republican voters for reform with conditions attached (such as those contained in the Senate bill) is 72 percent. Furthermore, Silver found that the voting public is not particularly divided over the issue of immigration—in a list of 11 controversial issues where there is a partisan divide on the solution, immigration reform with a conditional path to citizenship is the least polarizing, with 83% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans supporting that policy.

The ENLIST Act blocked in the House
At the end of May, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) attempted to insert his ENLIST Act into the National Defense Authorization Act. Denham’s legislation would provide legal status to certain immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children if they serve in the U.S. military. The legislation was ruled out of order in the House Rules Committee, which determines which amendments will be offered on bills going before the full House. A bill authored by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), which would allow recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to enroll in U.S. military academies, was also ruled out of order.

While the legislative window is open, a decision on executive action is on hold
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is reviewing ways immigration enforcement might be made more humane, including further prioritizing family unity and modifying the Secure Communities program to solely focus on those with criminal records. A unilateral move by the administration would come as a last resort—to mitigate the harmful consequences of Congress’s failure to provide a legislative fix to our broken immigration laws. Executive action would likely be limited, provide only temporary relief, and would be vulnerable to reversal in the next presidential administration. It would also likely reduce chances for a more permanent fix through legislation in this Congress, and many observers believe that an announcement of executive action at this stage would be counterproductive.

Indeed, a group of leading immigration reform organizations (including the National Immigration Forum, the Service Employees International Union, and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops among others) issued a statement on May 27 urging the administration to allow time for the House process to take place before taking executive action. The administration subsequently asked the Department of Homeland Security to continue with its review, but to hold off on announcing any recommendations. The administration reiterated its position following Eric Cantor’s primary defeat.

There is no timeline for a decision on executive action, but many observers have speculated that the window for legislative action will remain open until sometime this summer, after which time the likelihood of passing legislation in the House is reduced.

Rise in Unaccompanied Minors Crossing the Border Now a Humanitarian Crisis

During the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of unaccompanied children (UACs) crossing the southern border. According to administration estimates, the number of minors crossing the border increased more than 800 percent between fiscal years 2011 and 2013, and the numbers continue to rise. Many of these children are fleeing violence and crime in Honduras (with the highest murder rate in the world), Guatemala and El Salvador. The number of arrivals has created a humanitarian crisis to which the federal government is trying to respond.

On June 2, President Obama issued a memorandum charging the Secretary of Homeland Security with establishing “an interagency Unified Coordination Group” to coordinate federal efforts to provide “humanitarian relief to the affected children, including housing, care, medical treatment, and transportation.” In a statement, Secretary Johnson said he is appointing the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, to lead the federal response.

Ordinarily, unaccompanied minors are placed in government-contracted shelters until a guardian—a relative in most cases—can be found. However, the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border now exceeds the government’s capacity to house them, and two military bases will be used for housing as a temporary fix. At the end of May, the administration requested more than $2.2 billion to handle the 127,000 minors projected to arrive in the next fiscal year—more than double the $868 million requested in the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget submitted just four months ago. On June 10, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies approved a bill (summary) that includes $1.94 billion for the unaccompanied alien children program.

Once they have been processed by CBP, UACs are placed in removal proceedings and, like other undocumented migrants, are not assigned legal counsel.  In response to their need for legal representation, the Department of Justice and the Corporation for National Community Service launched a grant program to recruit 100 attorneys and paralegals for the purpose of providing legal assistance in immigration proceedings to UACs. More information on the grant program, “justice AmeriCorps,” can be found here.

Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization Deal

On May 21, a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators announced a deal reconciling their differences in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Act reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which has been due for reauthorization since 2003, but has only received year-by-year extensions as Congress has failed to reach agreement on reauthorization. The Act authorizes spending for programs related to workforce development, employment services, adult education and vocational rehabilitation.

WIOA also reauthorizes the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II of WIOA). Among other purposes, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act provides resources focused on helping immigrants learn English and acquire an understanding of U.S. history and government.

For Title II activities, the Act authorizes appropriations of $577,667,000 in fiscal year 2015, rising to $678,640,000 for fiscal year 2020. Each year, 12% of these amounts (minus funds that are set aside for national activities that provide technical and other assistance to states and providers) are set aside for integrated English literacy and civics education. Included in the definition of eligible providers are community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and partnerships between providers and employers. Although these funds are set aside for “integrated English literacy and civics education,” the goal is to, “prepare adults who are English language learners for, and place such adults in, unsubsidized employment in in-demand industries and occupations that lead to economic self-sufficiency.”

A managers’ statement describes and summarizes the bill, and provides background. There is also a one-page summary of the bill (provided by the bill’s managers).

DHS Starts Accepting DACA Renewals

On June 5, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now begin to accept applications for the renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Individuals who have been granted DACA (as of March, there were more than 550,000 of these individuals) may renew for a period of two years. Individuals granted a renewal also will receive work authorization. Individuals who have not applied for an initial DACA grant may still do so; there is no deadline. USCIS encourages those who wish to renew to apply 120 days before their initial grant expires.

More information on the renewal of DACA can be found on the USCIS Web site here. (Information on how to make an initial application can be found here).

CBP Removes Internal Affairs Chief

On June 9, the head of the Office for Internal Affairs for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), James Tomsheck, was removed from his post. According to the Los Angeles Times, he is being replaced, on an interim basis, with Mark Morgan, FBI Deputy Assistant director for Inspections. The move came in response to allegations that Mr. Tomsheck’s office failed to properly investigate hundreds of complaints of abuse and mistreatment lodged against Border Patrol agents. His replacement, according to the Times is charged with taking a more aggressive approach in investigating Border Patrol abuses.

A report issued in May by the Immigration Policy Center analyzed information about more than 800 complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012 and found that, among the cases in which a decision had been issued, 97% resulted in “no action taken.”

House Passes a Series of Anti-Trafficking Bills

On May 20, the House passed a package of bills to deal with the issue of human trafficking. The bills include H.R. 3550, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, H.R. 3610, the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act; H.R. 4058, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act; H.R. 4225, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation; and H.R. 4573, the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.

Collectively, the bills would, among other things, allocate resources to assist victims of trafficking, increase penalties for traffickers, encourage states to expand protection for victims of trafficking, and increase communication between the U.S. and other countries regarding travel of sex offenders.

Status of Appropriations

On May 29, the House passed H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations (CJS) Act (summary). This bill provides funding for the Departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as for related agencies and for science programs. In this bill, the House included an increase (8 percent) in funding for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR funds the nation’s immigration judges and courts, but has long been underfunded and therefore has a backlog of more than 360,000 cases. Over the past few years, funding for enforcement programs has greatly increased while funding for immigration courts has lagged behind. The increase in funding is welcome news. Also included in this bill is $180 million in funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, a program that the White House has been trying to eliminate in its budget but is very popular with many members of Congress.

On June 19th the Senate ended debate over the CJS bill without voting on final passage. CJS, which provides $51.2 billion in proposed discretionary budget authority including funding for the countries immigration courts and judges, had been combined with two other spending bills in an attempt to pass all three bills at once. However, Senators were unable to agree on the number of amendments that would be offered to the bill.

On June 11, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill. The bill allocates $8.3 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It requires that CBP maintain a Border Patrol of 21,370 agents. $412 million is allocated for border fencing, infrastructure and technology.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is allocated $5.5 billion. Of that amount, $5.4 million is set aside for “facilitating agreements consistent with section 287(g)” of the immigration act. The bill requires that ICE maintain a minimum of 34,000 detention beds. During markup an amendment was offered and then withdrawn that would have ended the detention bed quota.

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services will receive nearly $125 million for the E-Verify Program. The House failed to include funding for the Office of Citizenship’s Integration grant program, but allows USCIS to divert up to $10 million from its Examinations Fee Account to fund the grants. Last year Congress did appropriate $2.5 million for this program which provides grants to non-profit to help legal permanent residents apply for citizenship.

The bill also includes an extra $78 million to help DHS respond to the surge in unaccompanied minors. Additionally, on June 10, the Labor, Health and Human Services Committee unveiled a bill which would include $1.94 billion in funding to cope with the surge in unaccompanied minors.

CBP Release of Use of Force Policies and Report

In February 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) completed a report that was commissioned by CBP to examine the use of deadly force by CBP officers. The report raised a number of concerns, “especially with regard to shots fired at vehicles and shots fired at subjects throwing rocks and other objects at agents.” The organization recommended that agents be prohibited from shooting at vehicles “unless vehicle occupants are attempting to use deadly force … against the agent.” It also recommended agents be prohibited from shooting at subjects “throwing objects not capable of causing serious physical injury or death.” The report was not released by CBP until recently.

Release of the PERF report was accompanied by a revised use of force policy handbook. According to a press release from CBP, the new handbook “incorporates most of the recommendations found in the reviews by third parties—PERF and Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.” The release also noted that, “CBP is undertaking a comprehensive review and redesign of its basic training curriculum [and] establishing a center of excellence to continuously evaluate use of force policy and procedures….”

The Forum’s Executive Director Ali Noorani published an op-ed in The Hill welcoming the releases by CBP while stating this first step will need to be followed up with action.

Department of Education Updates Guidance on Undocumented Students

On May 8, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice provided additional guidance to school districts concerning the acceptance of undocumented immigrants in schools. The guidance clarifies what documents school districts may require to prove residency in the district. According to the New York Times and other reports, the department was responding to a number of instances where schools were asking for visas or Social Security numbers from students and driver’s licenses from parents.

In a 1982 decision (Plyler v. Doe), the Supreme Court held that students cannot be denied public education on the basis of immigration status. Since the decision, school districts around the country have implemented various procedures to discourage the enrollment of undocumented children. In some cases, they have been sued by the government or outside organizations. The guidance is the latest in the federal government’s efforts to correct the behavior of the few districts that seek to evade the law.

Supreme Court Decisions

Keller v. Fremont, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1043
By declining to hear the appeal of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, the Supreme Court let stand an ordinance meant to prevent undocumented individuals from renting apartments. In June 2013, the 8th Circuit Court held that the Fremont, Nebraska ordinance, which effectively barred landlords from renting to individuals unlawfully in the United States, does not conflict with federal law. The ordinance requires prospective tenants to obtain an occupancy license prior to renting. To obtain a license, prospective tenants must declare their immigration status, which is then checked against federal databases by local police. Those individuals found to be undocumented are stripped of their occupancy licenses, but suffer no further legal consequences.

Earlier this year, however, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of appellate court decisions striking down similar ordinances in Texas and Pennsylvania. Those laws, unlike the Nebraska law, imposed penalties on undocumented tenants and were held to be preempted by federal law. The Supreme Court’s action potentially paves the way for other jurisdictions to enact similar legislation. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of the Nebraska ordinance and several other anti-immigrant ordnances across the United States (including Arizona’s SB 1070), has said that he intends to help other jurisdictions adopt similar measures.

Mayorkas v. Cuellar de Osorio, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-930
In a narrow 5-4 decision on June 9, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrant children who turn 21 or “age out” while their parents are awaiting visa relief will have to move to the back of the line to obtain their own visas. The majority sided with the Obama Administration in holding that the Court had to defer to the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act. Finding BIA’s interpretation of the statute plausible, the court upheld BIA in only granting exceptions for “aged-out” children applying with their parents when “those aged-out aliens who qualified or could have qualified as principal beneficiaries of a visa petition, rather than only as derivative beneficiaries piggy-backing on a parent.”

In declining to provide relief to the son of Rosalina Cuellar de Osorio, who was 13 when his mother applied for a visa, but had turned 21 by the time his mother was granted an available visa, the Court followed a line of cases granting extensive deference to interpretations by administrative agencies.

Borders Immigration Reform Integration & Citizenship

The Week Ahead June 23-27

June 23, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“One of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform… If we are serious about advancing our economic future and about creating job growth here in America, then we must realize that it is suicidal to suggest closing our doors to the world's entrepreneurs, or worse, to continue with large-scale deportations.”

— Rupert Murdoch in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, June 19


The Stranger to Screen at the Capitol
The Stranger, a documentary film that explores immigration from a distinctly Christian perspective, will screen Tuesday on Capitol Hill. The film, which premiered June 4 in Chicago and has 1,100 screenings being held in 39 states over the summer, is coming to Washington to screen in front of members of Congress, their staff and press.

Directed by Emmy Award-winning director Linda Midgett, this film profiles three immigrant families who’ve suffered under our broken immigration system. Following the D.C. screening of the film, local and national evangelical leaders will discuss the moral, social and economic imperatives for reform.

The screening comes less than two weeks after the Evangelical Immigration Table released a letter to Congress, urging votes on broad immigration reform this summer.

Integration Bill Set to Drop Tuesday
Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will be introducing a bill together on Tuesday on immigrant integration. As our country continues to deal with our broken immigration system, integration services are increasingly important for helping our legal permanent residents effectively integrate into our nation’s workforce, communities and country.

Congressman Cardenas and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host a press conference Tuesday to discuss the importance of their bill and the positive benefits integration services have on employees and employers alike.

Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO of the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, a prominent leader in the Bethlehem Project’s Miami site, will also join the members of Congress for their press conference on the impressive power of immigrant integration.

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 READS: WALL STREET JOURNAL (Murdoch Op-Ed): Immigration Reform Can't Wait
By Rupert Murdoch
June 18, 2014
When I learned that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had lost his Republican primary, my heart sank. Not simply because I think he is an intelligent and talented member of Congress, or because I worry about the future of the Republican Party.
Like others who want comprehensive immigration reform, I worried that Mr. Cantor's loss would be misconstrued and make Congress reluctant to tackle this urgent need. That would be the wrong lesson and an undesirable national consequence of this single, local election result.
People are looking for leadership—those who stand for something and offer a vision for how to take America forward and keep our nation economically competitive. One of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform.
I chose to come to America and become a citizen because America was—and remains—the most free and entrepreneurial nation in the world. Our history is defined by people whose character and culture have been shaped by ambition, imagination and hard work, bound together by a dream of a better life.
Read more:

POLITICO MAGAZINE (Adelson Op-Ed): Let’s Deal With Reality and Pass Immigration Reform
By Sheldon G. Adelson
June 19, 2014
Radio show hosts and political pundits are suggesting that the primary election defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is the final nail in the coffin for passing immigration reform in this session of Congress. They surmise that other Republicans will be especially reluctant to tackle the issue for fear of losing political support.
If we are led to believe that the results of a local election with 12 percent voter turnout in a single congressional district (one out of 435) with a mere 65,000 votes cast is all that it takes to disrupt a necessary and important national policy debate, then America is in big trouble—not just on this issue, but on a whole range of issues.
I certainly hope that is not the case.
As a Republican, it’s my view that efforts to complete immigration reform should be led by our party. Some on the outer fringes of the GOP may disagree, but the truth is we are humans first and partisans second. Frankly, the Democrats don’t have a monopoly on having hearts.
Read more:

The Week Ahead June 16-20

June 16, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“My message to Congress is that there are no more excuses. It is unacceptable to say that it’s too hard to pass immigration reform. As members of Congress, you’re put in this position of leadership to make these tough decisions. To deny immigrants the right the serve their country, the country they love, is in my opinion un-American. Our military has to reflect our country, and our country is one of immigrants.”

— Jesus Magaña, U.S. Air Force Veteran from Arizona at the Veterans for Immigration press conference on June 12


Despite Cantor Loss, Leaders Continue to Press for Reform
In spite of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat, leaders from across the country and across constituencies are continuing to urge Congress to move forward with votes on broad immigration reform this summer, confident that the legislative window still remains.

On Thursday, members of the group Veterans for Immigration Reform were in Washington, D.C. to meet with their members and call for an immigration system that honors our immigrant veterans’ service and sacrifice. The group held a panel discussion at the National Press Club and released a paper outlining reasons from a military perspective for reform, including the recruitment crisis the military faces. Also on Thursday, leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table released a letter to House leadership calling for action on commonsense reform.

Meanwhile across the country, the Evangelical Immigration Table’s documentary film The Stranger has over 1,000 screenings scheduled in more than 37 states this month, following its world premiere in Chicago last week. The film highlights the moral imperatives for reform, including the immense human costs our current system exacts on our churches, our families and our communities.

Polls Show Continued Conservative Support for Reform
Last week, released a poll conducted by 10 GOP pollsters that found that Americans overwhelmingly believe the immigration system in the country is broken and that Congress should take immediate action to fix it.

Similarly, VA-07 post-primary polling done by conservative pollster Jon Lerner proved Cantor’s loss had very little, if anything to do with immigration, while the same Republican primary voters said they overwhelming view the immigration status quo as broken and want it fixed promptly.

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 READs: EFE: Veterans join those demanding immigration reform
June 12, 2014
Veterans gathered in Washington on Thursday to call for immigration reform that acknowledges the efforts of their immigrant comrades as well as the diversity and richness they contributed to the ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces, and they also asked for equal treatment for their families.
Veterans for Immigration Reform at a press conference presented a document in which they defended the legacy of immigrants in the military before beginning a series of meetings with lawmakers to press for immigration reform.
Brett Hunt, the founder of Vets4Reform, said that immigrants have been on the front lines in all the wars the United States has fought and noted that he himself had served in Iraq with fellow soldiers from Kenya, Honduras, Mexico and Vietnam.
Nevertheless, he said that even after risking their lives, these veterans and their families "have no guarantee of being treated fairly by our immigration regulations."
"We have a debt to those veterans and to their families," Hunt said.
U.S.-born Jesus Magaña joined the Armed Forces at 19 and when he was stationed in Afghanistan he learned that his sister, who when she arrived in the United States from Mexico was 8 months old, was in detention awaiting deportation.
Lawmakers "have no more excuses" for continuing to delay the process of comprehensive immigration reform, Magaña said.
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POLITICO: Polls on left and right agree: Eric Cantor didn’t lose on immigration
By Jessica Meyers
June 12, 2014
A new conservative-sponsored poll mirrors a liberal counterpart and throws more water on notions that the battle over immigration led to the downfall of Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Only 22 percent of Virginia residents who voted for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, cited immigration as the primary reason for their vote, according to the poll. About 77 percent cited other factors, such as the Republican leader’s focus on national politics instead of local issues.
Americans for a Conservative Direction, the right-leaning branch of, commissioned the poll. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched the broader advocacy group last year in his first foray into politics.
The results resemble findings in a poll commissioned by liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change. It noted about 72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district support reforms.
Immigration reform has stalled in the House for months, and advocates see this summer as the last chance before fall elections. They’ve never considered Cantor much of an ally, but Brat made immigration a central focus of the race and slammed the Republican leader for agreeing to even piecemeal proposals.
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WASHINGTON POST (Rubin Post): Why immigration reform isn’t dead
By Jennifer Rubin
June 12, 2014
It is oh-so-tempting to blame House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat on immigration reform. Certainly, voters have multiple reasons for voting for or against a candidate, and undoubtedly some were swayed by the falsehoods put out by talk-radio show entertainers that Cantor wanted to open the borders and grant amnesty to everyone who is here illegally. You really can fool all of the people, some of the time.
But if immigration was even a partial rationale for some voters, it was based on an entirely false picture of Cantor’s position, which was decidedly to the right of the Senate Gang of Eight. Facts are stubborn things, despite the power of a microphone to distort and whip up a crowd. To begin with, as conservative columnist Salena Zito pointed out, “Though some pundits quickly jumped on [David] Brat’s accusation that Cantor dragged his feet on immigration reform as a main reason for his downfall . . . others believe Cantor simply became an unpopular leader. He has voted to increase border security and opposed immigration reform measures like the DREAM Act.” So yes, if you let your position be caricatured falsely, it probably is going to hurt you.
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The Week Ahead June 9-13

June 09, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“Immigration is a difficult and complex social and economic issue with equally difficult and complex solutions. Immigrants and immigration also are part of our national fabric. As the debate on immigration continues, it is my earnest hope that House Republican leaders, who also know the truth, will finally allow broad immigration reform to get a House vote.”

— Paul Bridges, Former Mayor of Uvalda, Ga., in a June 3 National Journal op-ed following his being honored in May with a Profile in Courage Award


Veterans for Immigration Reform Comes to Washington
On Thursday, a group of military veterans will bring their support for immigration reform to Washington, D.C., and the halls of Congress. The day will begin with a 10 a.m. panel discussion at the National Press Club (see details below).

Throughout our history, the military has reflected the fact that we are a nation of immigrants.
But even after risking their lives for our country, military veterans are not guaranteed fair treatment under our immigration laws.

Following initial events this spring in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas, Veterans for Immigration Reform will deliver the message that Congress must act to replace our broken immigration system and ensure that we fully honor immigrants who have fought under our flag.

Thursday’s event will include a panel discussion at the National Press Club, the release of a white paper on veterans in the military, and meetings on Capitol Hill.

House to Consider Homeland Security Appropriations
On Wednesday, the full House Committee on Appropriations will mark up a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the next fiscal year. A draft of the bill posted last week.

The markup will address many immigration-related areas for which DHS is responsible, from border protection and interior enforcement to naturalization and immigrant integration.

DHS appropriations partially fund the unaccompanied alien children program, which provides for the initial care of migrant children and their transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The markup is likely to address the recent increase in unaccompanied migrant children.

Unlike the president’s proposed budget, the draft bill would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to continue to maintain 34,000 detention beds. The president had proposed a decrease to 30,539 beds, which would save an estimated $183.1 million. The draft bill also includes a larger funding increase for Customs and Border Protection: $219.6 million over this year’s level, vs. $121.3 million in the president’s budget.

Last but not least, the draft bill includes no funding for the Citizenship Integration Program, a key program that helps eligible legal immigrants become citizens. The president had proposed an increase to $10 million in appropriated funds.

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: WALL STREET JOURNAL: Immigration's Primary Effect Muted
By Laura Meckler
June 8, 2014
Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared to put himself in political jeopardy when he wrote and championed an overhaul of immigration laws, but he is poised to lap the field in Tuesday's Republican primary in South Carolina. GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who also backed the bill, is in a strong position ahead of his primary this August.
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R., N.C.) easily survived a primary challenge after backing liberalized laws. And Tim Donnelly, a leader in the movement to stop illegal immigration, lost to another Republican this month in California's open primary for governor.
Opposition to an immigration-law overhaul remains high within the Republican Party, but primary season is showing that support isn't necessarily a career-ending move, nor is opposition a clear path to the nomination. That could factor into the decision by House GOP leaders on whether to move broad immigration legislation this year.
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WASHINGTON POST (Rubin Post): GOP’s immigration reform fantasy
By Jennifer Rubin
June 3, 2014
Certainly the president’s trail of foreign policy blunders and domestic policy missteps give Republicans an excuse to simply stick to a negative message. When Democrats decry the latest episode in the war on coal and coal workers and when consternation on both sides of the aisle rises about the decision to set free five hardened terrorist leaders, it is easy for Republicans to sit back, throw darts at the Democrats and watch the Democratic base sink into a funk. But temptation should be resisted in this case.
There is still a need for an Obamacare alternative. And then there is immigration reform. Republican opponents of immigration reform say they don’t want to talk about it. But here’s the thing: “If Republicans do nothing, Obama will do something on deportation in August, Republicans will scream about executive overreach and Democrats will paint Republicans as simply intolerant and anti-immigrant.” That is the take of conservative economist and immigration reform proponent Doug Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum. He concludes, “In short, they WILL talk about immigration this year, whether they like it or not. It would be way better to do it on their terms by passing something they favor.” That logic doesn’t tempt the hardline immigration reform proponents, but it should give Republicans in the mainstream of their party reason to consider their next moves.
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HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Obama calls spike in children crossing border 'urgent' situation
By Susan Carroll
June 2, 2014
President Barack Obama on Monday called the spike in children and teenagers caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone in recent months an "urgent humanitarian situation," bringing in FEMA to coordinate federal efforts to provide their housing, transportation and medical care.
In a presidential memorandum, Obama called for a coordinated, multi-agency effort to address the influx of unaccompanied children entering the country illegally from Central and South America. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate was tapped to spearhead coordination of the efforts, aimed in part at easing overcrowding in Border Patrol stations in South Texas.
"The influx of unaccompanied alien children across the southwest border of the United States has resulted in an urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated federal response," Obama said in a presidential memorandum.
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The Week Ahead June 2-6

June 02, 2014 - Posted by Communications Intern

“Pastors need an answer for undocumented congregants who otherwise obey the law and are seeking a way to get right with the law. Congress must provide that answer. Until then, there is nothing to point them toward, and the whole body continues to suffer.”

— Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a May 29 Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed


New Use of Force Policy for Customs and Border Protection
On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an updated Use of Force Policy for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The announcement follows 28 deaths related to CBP officers’ use of force since 2010.

The new policy appears to address many recommendations the nonprofit, third-party Police Executive Research Forum made in a report DHS also released Friday. For example, all incidents that involve the use of force must be reported for review. Border patrol officers are not to shoot at moving vehicles unless they face an imminent threat of serious injury or death. Likewise, they are not to shoot in response to rock throwers unless they are danger of death or serious injury.

These changes are a significant step toward accountability, transparency and oversight at our nation’s borders — and improved security for the millions of people who live along them.

House Appropriations Bill Would Help Immigration Courts
Last week, the House of Representatives approved the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015. The bill includes funding for the Department of Justice, which oversees the distribution of funds for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

One encouraging aspect of the bill is an 8 percent increase in funding for the EOIR, which includes immigration courts and judges. EOIR funding has lagged behind increased immigration enforcement, resulting in a backlog of 366,000 cases and an average wait time of more than 570 days. Increased funding likely would help alleviate this backlog.

What Do Ali Noorani and Kenny G Have in Common?
This week marks the beginning of the first annual Immigrant Heritage Month. The campaign, an initiative of, seeks to emphasize the power of immigrants to our nation’s history and future, and to call for stories that help celebrate our unique immigrant heritage as a country.

(Included among the ranks of honorary board members are Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, and musician Kenny G.)

Corporations and organizations across the country are joining the effort to highlight the importance of immigration and citizenship to our nation’s communities and economy. Partners include the Forum, its Bethlehem Project initiative and Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform campaign, and the New Americans Campaign (NAC).

In addition to local events throughout the month, supporters can connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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: RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH (Staver Op-Ed): Welcome the stranger
By Mathew Staver
May 29, 2014
In the past year the evangelical community has shown the depth of its support for Congress to address the components of our broken immigration system. The most recent example was April 29, when more than 250 pastors from all over the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for a prayer service and an afternoon of meetings with members of Congress.
These pastors, including several from Virginia, came from rural and urban areas, from large churches and small congregations, from the Southern Baptist Convention, The Wesleyan Church, the Christian Reformed Church and many other denominations and nondenominational evangelical churches, all to deliver one message to Congress: Our churches and communities are hurting and need immigration reform. Now is the time to act. “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,” Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at the event. “For all the criticism heaped on the USA, we remain the most generous and kind country in the world. With no hint at amnesty, with determination to have a republic ruled by law, let us wrap our arms around all the well-meaning people who have sought the umbrella of America’s protection and opportunity.”
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Mathew Staver is founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and chief counsel for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

THE HILL (Congress Blog; Wenski Post): Catholic clergy to House: Immigration reform now
By Archbishop Thomas Wenski
May 29, 2014
As the Archbishop of Miami, a region with more than one million immigrants who came to America seeking a better life, I was pleased and hopeful when the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
But that was almost a full year ago. Ever since then, the leadership of the House of Representatives has offered a litany of delays and excuses for inaction and obstruction. These political whimpers stand in contrast to the cries of torn-apart immigrant families that echo in parishes across the country. Parents of American children are deported. Eleven million of our neighbors live in constant fear of losing their loved ones, their jobs, their place in a country that has become home.
A nation of immigrants and a beacon of democracy can surely do better. Now is the time for the House to pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform that the American people support and the American economy needs.
This issue isn’t just about immigrant communities, it’s about our values and identity as a nation. My father immigrated from Poland at a time when America had not only freedom and opportunity that the world admired, but also a more functional immigration system for people like him who wanted to become American. Immigrants faced a welcoming statue, not a forbidding wall. Restoring that opportunity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a common-sense way to maintain our global leadership. The immigrant communities I have served as a priest and a bishop deserve the same shot my dad had, and we will all benefit if Congress builds a road to citizenship for them.
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Wenski is archbishop of Miami and a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.

CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Editorial): Speaker Boehner shouldn't delay immigration reform any longer
May 29, 2014
House Speaker John Boehner has once again blamed mistrust of President Barack Obama for the Republicans' unwillingness to move ahead on immigration reform.
But it's a nonequivalent comparison designed to confuse and delay.
Immigration reform has the support of liberals and conservatives from a wide range of faiths and economic persuasions. It is one area where a well-meaning, willing-to-compromise Congress can pass legislation amenable to both parties.
And Boehner knows it. In April, he reportedly mocked members of his own party for not having the fortitude to tackle immigration reform. Boehner later said he was only teasing them.
Clearly, he needs to start knocking some heads -- if he's a man of his word and truly wants to improve our immigration laws.
When news anchor Jorge Ramos of the Spanish-speaking Univision network pointedly asked Boehner in late May why he was blocking immigration legislation in the House, a dismissive Boehner responded, "Me? Blocking?"
Boehner then brought up Obama and argued that his administration's unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act have Republicans fearful that the president would take similar action with an immigration law not quite to his liking.
But immigration reform is not Obamacare.
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