National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

The Week Ahead: March 11-15

March 12, 2013 - Posted by Katherine Vargas

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
“Today's meeting invigorated me with hope and optimism (...) The collective commitment to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as an integral part of any legislative solution secures a complete integration process. Both the president and faith leaders understand that citizenship must be earned, yet denying it will create a two-tier society attempting to live one dream: the American dream.”
—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference commenting on his meeting with President Obama and other faith leaders on immigration, March 8, 2013

SUMMARY

South Carolina ad campaign
The Evangelical Immigration Table is announcing a radio buy campaign in South Carolina’s Christian radio stations to press for prompt action on immigration reform. The South Carolina radio campaign is part of the Evangelical Immigration Table’s intensifying push to mobilize local and national evangelical support for bipartisan immigration solutions. Efforts include the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge, where hundreds of evangelical congregations in 49 states are reading Scripture for guidance on immigration.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is not the only entity doing paid advertising on immigration in South Carolina. The Palmetto State Coalition for Immigration Reform, a new coalition of business, faith and political industry leaders, is expected to announce Wednesday a TV ad campaign showing the broadening support for immigration reform across South Carolina.

These efforts aim to support and pressure South Carolina’s lawmakers who are key in immigration reform negotiations. Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” group tasked with drafting bipartisan immigration reform legislation, and Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy is the chairman of the House immigration subcommittee.

Border security discussions
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee will examine achievements and challenges of border security on Thursday. As the senate considers immigration reform legislation that includes both legalization and immigration enforcement components, it’s important to acknowledge progress on security at our nation’s borders and not hold legalization hostage to so-called border security triggers.

Current immigration-enforcement measures already satisfy the enforcement benchmarks proposed in the 2007 immigration-reform legislation related to control of the border, border patrol staffing, border infrastructure and apprehension and detention of border crossers.

Now that government has spent record amounts in immigration law enforcement in the last five years, it’s time to move on to the hard work of ensuring that future flows of migrants will be predominantly legal and creating a workable legalization program that includes a path to citizenship for eligible immigrants already here.

To read more on how the 2007 benchmarks have been please read the Forum’s paper “Immigration Enforcement Today: 2007 Reform Goals Largely Accomplished.”

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

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration: http://www.immigrationforum.org/images/uploads/2012/LegBulletin.pdf

MUST READ: LOS ANGELES TIMES: Senators agree on path to legal status for illegal immigrants
By Brian Bennett
March 11, 2013
Eight senators who have spent weeks trying to write a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration laws have privately agreed on the most contentious part of the draft — how to offer legal status to the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.
According to aides familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the bill would require illegal immigrants to register with Homeland Security Department authorities, file federal income taxes for their time in America and pay a still-to-be-determined fine. They also must have a clean law enforcement record.
Once granted probationary legal status, immigrants would be allowed to work but would be barred from receiving federal public benefits, including food stamps, family cash assistance, Medicaid and unemployment insurance.
The group's current draft is largely in line with President Obama's call to set a pathway to earned citizenship as part of a broader immigration reform package, as well as with recent efforts by prominent Republican lawmakers to resolve an issue that hurt GOP candidates in November's election.
Though the draft is a long way from becoming law, immigration advocates expressed guarded optimism about a possible breakthrough.
"Nine months ago, people would have thought you were nuts to say that four Republicans and four Democrats were working on a way to legalize 11 million people," said Angela Kelley, an immigration expert at the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the White House. "It's a Rubik's Cube, but more sides are matching in color than ever before. That's significant."
Still undecided is how long illegal immigrants would need to wait before they could apply for permanent resident status and eventually become citizens. The delay for a green card probably would be 10 years or longer, the aides said.
Also unresolved are such politically charged topics as how many visas to issue to high-tech specialists and other guest workers; how to keep track of when visitors leave the country; and how to pay for more Border Patrol officers, fencing and other security measures in an era of shrinking budgets, the aides said.
Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-immigration-hurdles-20130311,0,4603683.story

BLOOMBERG: Amnesty For Immigrants Spurs Greater Employment in U.S.
By Lorraine Woellert
March 6, 2013
Alejandrino Honorato’s journey began with a smuggler who led him across the Rio Grande, into the Texas desert with little food or water and finally to a field where he picked tobacco to pay his passage. Living illegally in a labor camp, he didn’t know lawmakers in Washington were deciding his future.
It was 1986 and Congress was weighing an amnesty plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers. Unemployment was 7 percent. Some lawmakers warned the change would overwhelm the economy and strain hospitals and schools. “Are we going to cause havoc?” said Representative Bill McCollum, a Florida Republican, as the House prepared to vote.
The bill became law and Honorato came out of the shadows. Today, he owns two eateries and a market in central Florida and has about 60 employees. “I’ve helped a lot of people work,” Honorato, 49, said through a translator. “If people were legalized they’d have a chance to open businesses like me.”
More than a quarter century after Congress last rewrote the law, immigration is again a top Washington issue. President Barack Obama has made changing the law a priority in his second term. A group of senators including Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican John McCain of Arizona are drafting legislation that will include a path to residency -- and perhaps citizenship -- for 11 million undocumented workers.
“It’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long,” Obama said in January. “We’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century.”
Hot-Button Word
With unemployment at 7.9 percent and more than 12 million Americans out of work, politicians are avoiding the hot-button word “amnesty.” They also are armed with more than two decades of research showing that the 1986 law raised wages and boosted the economy. Economists at the free-market Cato Institute, the pro-labor Center for American Progress and the business and municipal Partnership for a New American Economy are in rare agreement that legalization makes economic sense.
Almost 3 million people were documented between 1987 and 1990 as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. By 1992, more than four years after legalization, real hourly wages for those workers had risen an average of 15.1 percent, according to a Department of Labor survey. Wages overall continued to rise, according to a 2012 study by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, even as the nation entered a recession that lasted from July 1990 to March 1991.
Barriers to upward economic mobility eased as the newly legalized found jobs that better matched their skills. They ventured deeper into society, pursuing educations and buying homes, said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, director of the North American Integration and Development Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/amnesty-for-immigrants-spurs-greater-employment-in-u-s-.html

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