The Week Ahead: July 17-21

Communications Associate

July 17, 2017


“I am now part of this American society as an immigrant contributing to this country. The majority of immigrants have the same goals — to work hard and bring prosperity to their families. Keep immigration if you want to keep America great.”

— Kazi Mannan, Pakistani immigrant in Washington, D.C., who started his own car service and restaurant, July 11


House Committee to Vote on DHS Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the fiscal year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations Act on Tuesday.

The bill contains funding for Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including border security and immigration enforcement.

The appropriations are expected to provide $1.6 billion in additional funding to build 74 miles of physical barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as funding for almost 4,700 more detention beds, about 1,600 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and support staff and 500 more Customs and Border Protection agents.

Separately, in the fiscal year 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, the committee last week approved an amendment that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients to work in the federal government.

Houston Latino Town Hall to Focus on Immigration

A Friday town hall, to be produced by Houston Public Media in partnership with Univision 45, will focus on the opportunities that immigration brings to communities in Houston. The discussion will air from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. CDT on Houston Public Media TV 8 and online.

Panelists will include Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo; David Cordua, Executive Chef of Cordua Restaurants; Cesar Espinosa, Executive Director of FIEL Houston; Alex Lopez Negrete, President and CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications; and Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

The town hall will be simulcast in Spanish (SAP) and live streamed on and in English and Spanish. It also will be streamed via Facebook Live through both Houston Public Media and Noticias45 Houston.


Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:


CNN (Kirby Op-Ed): Pentagon, don’t cancel citizenship program for immigrants with special skills
By John Kirby
July 14, 2017

Facing lawsuits and questions over adequate security vetting, the Pentagon is considering the cancellation of a program designed to fast-track citizenship for certain foreigners with special skills.

“The Department of Defense is reviewing the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) pilot program due to potential security risks associated with the program,” Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael said in an email. “Due to pending litigation, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time.”

But MAVNI has been a great success, and it should continue.

Begun in 2009, the program allows visa holders, asylum seekers and refugees to bypass the green card process if they possess unique, in-demand skills otherwise in short supply.

According to retired Lt. Colonel Margaret Stock, the program’s founder, more than 10,000 people have been recruited under the program. They serve all over the world and have contributed to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Asia-Pacific hotspots. And their number includes a US Olympic silver medalist, a Secret Service officer, a nuclear energy fellow at MIT and the US Army’s 2012 Soldier of the Year.

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NEW YORK TIMES: A Refugee Family Arrives in Arkansas, Before the Door Shuts
By Miriam Jordan
July 13, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Watata Mwenda’s family had it good.

There was no electricity in their village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but Mr. Mwenda, an itinerant salesman of cattle, gold and other commodities, could afford a battery to power a television. They lived in a brick-and-mortar house, with enough room for his nine children and then some. There was always food on the table.

“Ah, we lived well in the Congo,” Mr. Mwenda, 60, said this week in French, one of the languages he learned in his travels.

But eight years ago, six militiamen invaded the family compound, murdered his oldest son and his son’s wife and briefly kidnapped Mr. Mwenda. The family left everything behind, and after four days of travel by foot, car and dinghy made it to safety in a refugee camp more than 1,000 miles away in Malawi.

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SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: Immigration expert: Debate not about policy, it’s about culture
By Jason Buch
July 13, 2017

A well-known immigration expert speaking in San Antonio on Thursday borrowed from the president’s campaign platform and a recent release from a Broadway star to illustrate the polar opposites of the U.S. immigration debate.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said immigration is too often presented as a political issue with two sides, “America First,” a slogan with a controversial history championed by President Donald Trump, and “Immigrants get the job done,” a reference to the recent release “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” by musician and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The people who get lost in the debate are those who “want to live in an America that puts Americans First, but also want to live in America that is welcoming and inclusive,” said Noorani, who spoke at the Plaza Club on Thursday. He was invited by the World Affairs Council of San Antonio and the Mexican Consulate General in San Antonio.

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