The Week Ahead: May 31 – June 3

Communications Associate

May 31, 2016


“But the value of immigration cannot be reduced to an actuarial table or spreadsheet. Immigrants do not simply make America better off. They make America better. Immigrants provide a shot in the nation’s arm … New Americans are true Americans. We need more of them.”
–         Richard V. Reeves, Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, May 24


Wednesday Marks Start of Third Annual Immigrant Heritage Month
The National Immigration Forum will join national and local organizations to celebrate the third annual Immigrant Heritage Month. has organized the monthlong event as a way to celebrate the immigrant history of the United States, and to bring together a broad coalition of individuals and organizations to encourage everyone to tell their immigrant story.

Follow online and on Twitter and Facebook throughout June for stories, events and updates, using #IHM2016.

Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:


WASHINGTON POST: The story behind the ‘American Dream’ photo at West Point that went viral
By Dan Lamothe
May 25, 2016
As 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache stood at attention during the commencement ceremony at West Point, N.Y., on Saturday, he was overcome with emotion. Tears rolled down both cheeks, but his gloved left hand held firm on his white, gold and black “cover,” the dress headgear that Army cadets wear.
The photograph of Idrache, by Army Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant, was published Tuesday on the Facebook page of West Point’s U.S. Military Academy, and it almost immediately went viral. Part of that is Idrache’s background: He worked his way through one of the nation’s most prestigious military schools after immigrating to the United States from Haiti, earning his citizenship and serving for two years as an enlisted soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard, according to Army records.
“I woke up this morning and found my face all over Facebook and with it myriad of amazing comments about my accomplishments,” Idrache wrote Tuesday on Facebook. “I am humbled and shocked at the same time. Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth.”
Read more:

THE ATLANTIC: The Overwhelming Barriers to Successful Immigration Reform
LBJ led crucial legislation in 1965, changing the demographics of the U.S. But it offers a difficult model for future presidents to follow.
By Daniel J. Tichenor
May 25, 2016
Nearly every new American president of the modern era has viewed the nation’s immigration policies as deeply flawed. Yet few of these modern executives have been willing to make immigration reform—one of the most dangerous issues in American politics—central to their agenda. Even fewer have had a measure of success doing so. Even the most dramatic and successful of all—Lyndon Johnson’s landmark 1965 reform—came with high political costs and uneven results. Yet, Johnson’s battle for reform underscores the way immigration policy can be a potent political tool and offers a model for future presidents.
Today, as in the past, efforts to significantly revise U.S. immigration laws and policies have divided even the most unified party coalitions. Campaigns for sweeping reform in this arena have regularly followed a tortured path of false starts, prolonged negotiation, and frustrating stalemate. And when non-incremental reforms have passed, rival goals and interests have complicated enactment. The result has been legislation that is typically unpopular among ordinary citizens and stakeholder groups alike, and which often places new and sometimes competing policy demands on the government. These dynamics—intraparty conflicts, elusive problem definition, difficult compromises, and unpopular outcomes—have typically frustrated most American presidents.
Lyndon Johnson was well aware of these challenges as a first-year president, yet he forged ahead knowing the fight for sweeping immigration reform would be far more taxing and unpredictable than nearly all of the legislative proposals on his immense agenda. He ultimately expended far more political energy on this issue than anyone on his team anticipated, with bedeviling twists and turns on the path to major reform. The Johnson administration learned that major reform often hinges upon the formation of “strange bedfellow” alliances that are unstable and demand painful concessions. But they also believed immigrants and refugees served their larger visions for the nation and refused to let nativists use rhetoric against those groups to codify their ethnic, racial, and religious animus. Johnson recognized that failing to spearhead an immigration overhaul would significantly undercut his civil-rights, social-justice, and geopolitical goals. He upended xenophobic policies that had prevailed for half of a century, and his remarkable legislative achievement has had dramatic unforeseen consequences over time, including an unprecedented change in the country’s demographic landscape.
Read more: