Immigration

And Just Exactly HOW Retroactive Would That Be?

Today, the House voted on immigration. But it wasn’t on an effort to reform our broken system, or on the bipartisan bill the Senate passed more than 500 days ago.  Nope. Instead, House leaders held a vote t​hat would make our broken immigration system worse, not better. ​

Unproductive doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s all part of the Republican House’s pattern of payback politics — lawsuits,​ talks​ of impeachment​ and shutting down the government​, all because the President took common-sense action in the face of congressional gridlock ​to make our nation and families stronger.

The bill they voted on? That would be HR5759.  Roll Call Vote 550:

BILL TITLE: To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief

No provision of the Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act (of 1965), or other federal law shall be interpreted or applied to authorize the executive branch of the government to exempt, by executive order, regulation, or any other means, categories of persons unlawfully present in the United States from removal under the immigration laws.

Declares any action by the executive branch with the purpose of circumventing the objectives of this statute null and void and without legal effect.

Makes this Act EFFECTIVE RETROACTIVELY, applying to any such exemption made AT ANY TIME. (emphasis added)

The vote was 219-197 with 3 Democrats (Barrow, McIntyre and Peterson) voting FOR passage, and only 7 Republicans (Coffman, Denham, Diaz-Belart, Gohmert, Ros-Lehtinen, Stutzman and Valadio) voting against it. And yes of course, our illustrious representative from Nevada Congressional District 2, Mr. Mark Amodei was thrilled to cast his AYE vote as a “symbolic message” that, “that black guy in the oval office has no business doing what every President since ‘Ike’ has done via ‘executive action’.”

ImmigrationEOs

So, they want to retroactively nullify executive action of the President. Really? Did they bother to read the bill they just passed?  What are they nullifying? Actions just this President? Or, for curiosity’s sake, is their intent to nullify immigration-related actions taken by each and every President since 1956?  It does after all say, that it applies RETROACTIVELY, to ANY such exemption made at ANY time.

Talk about hypocrisy.  Apparently, if it’s intent is to apply ONLY to actions by President Obama, it’s okay for them to be ambiguous in bill that they themselves choose to pass, but how dare those heathenish Democrats pass a bill the Republicans claim is ambiguous as to healthcare subsidies! That just cannot be and they’ll make sure it can’t be, by wasting taxpayer money to take >50 votes to kill it, by suing the President for not implementing on a timely bases that same bill they’re trying to kill, and by goading their benefactor buddies into pursuing nullification of various provisions of that bill through all levels of the judiciary up to and including, the Supreme Corporate (oops, I mean Supreme Court).

The outright blatant hypocrisy of their ambiguous actions is immoral, unethical and UNchristian.

 

Republican Revisionist Propaganda, oops, I Mean History

According to Republican leadership, “No other president in history has used Executive powers to change immigration policy.” Really? NO other President in history?  Do they own a history book? Can they read?  Senator Barbara Boxer can, and she put out this tidy little list this morning on Twitter:

ImmigrationEOs

A President may not be able to provide a “pathway to citizenship” via Executive action, but under the authority granted by our Constitution to the President, he/she can certainly prioritize where INS should focus its efforts. Instead of breaking up working, nurturing families to deport the parents and then relegating their American-born citizen children to foster care at taxpayer expense for years, it makes much more sense to focus on rooting out criminal elements and deporting them to their countries of origin.

Speaker Boehner has had two solid years to come up with something of his own, and he’s had a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill (S744) that was passed in the senate on 6/27/2013.  Speaker Boehner alone, has been the one blocking a vote in the US House on this bill, which many claim, has more than the requisite 218 Representatives willing to stand up and vote “AYE” for passage.

The Latest Crack in Our Broken Immigration System

Undocumented immigrants who arrive as children may be well into their 40s before they get a green card.

— by  

Diana_Torres-small-color-headshotIn a bustling room at the Third Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico a group of white and Latino parishioners gathered for a workshop on immigration. They wanted to learn more about the issue.

Julio Alvarez, a Mexican immigrant, was there to answer their questions. “Why can’t immigrants just wait in line and move here legally? Isn’t there a process to do that?” one parishioner asked. “The truth is,” Alvarez replied, “standing in line is a myth for the majority of us.”

Stone Cold Immigrants, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Alvarez’s personal experience with our nation’s immigration system illustrates this harsh reality.

Mexico’s weak economy pushed Alvarez out of his country in 1996. “When I decided to immigrate to Albuquerque, New Mexico I had 5 pesos — or less than a dollar — in my pocket and a family to feed,” he recounts.

Upon his arrival, Alvarez’s U.S.-citizen brother sponsored his petition for U.S. residency. As allowed by federal law, he included his wife, Myrna, and their school-age son, Edgar, in his application. He hoped that all of them could eventually reside in the United States legally.

That was 16 years ago.

Since then, Alvarez has established a successful automotive repair shop, bought a home, and saved enough money to send his child to college. But our broken immigration system has left him standing in that immigration “line.” And a recent Supreme Court decision just made things worse.

It takes the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency an average of seven years to grant immigrants green cards. Due to the structure of the immigration system that imposes a per-country cap, the wait now lasts more than two decades for Mexican immigrants.

As long as the petitioners’ dependent children don’t come of age during that period, they remain eligible for green cards. If those children turn 21 before the family reaches the front of that proverbial line, a Supreme Court majority recently ruled, those young immigrants “age out.” They lose their place in the immigration line where they may have stood for most of their young lives.

That’s a brutal reality for the Alvarez family.

Julio Alvarez has waited 16 years for his green card. He probably needs to wait two more years — or even longer. Meanwhile, Edgar will turn 21 and lose his place in the line he has waited on for more than half his life.

If Edgar, an engineering student at the University of New Mexico, applies for his own green card, he’ll be in his 40s before he gets to the front of the line. Tens of thousands of people face this Orwellian predicament.

The new ruling makes congressional action even more urgent. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat to David Brat in his recent primary means that the already stagnated immigration reform debate may hit a dead end on Capitol Hill. According to conventional wisdom that ignores the prevailing views in that Virginia House district, anti-immigrant fervor helped Cantor’s tea party challenger pull off a surprise win against a candidate who outspent him 40:1.

This is bad news for Edgar Alvarez, who will turn 21 later this year.

After he reaches that milestone and graduates college, he may be forced to move to Mexico, a country he barely knows.

If Edgar wants to stay here he has limited options: He can marry a U.S. citizen or resident. Or he can find an employer to sponsor his green card. Few employers make this commitment because it’s a costly and time-consuming process.

If Edgar can’t find a path to shedding his undocumented status, his New Mexican community will feel the loss. The young man engages in local politics and campus life. He pays taxes, mentors younger boys who are aspiring engineers, and works as a public health advocate.

How can the United States turn its back on the more than 560,000 talented, young adults that are in a situation similar to his?

Our nation can certainly do better than that.


Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. The author changed the name of the church and the names of the members of the “Alvarez family” in this commentary at their request. IPS-dc.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

The Economic Costs of Inaction on Immigration Reform

Last June, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would grow our economy and shrink the deficit. But without action from the House to move forward in the last year, our country is losing out on these economic gains.

What’s Next for Congress

The end of the government shutdown means a return to a somewhat normal schedule as party leaders work toward a fiscal agreement in the next two months.  There’s lots to do. Members have agreed to try again to find a deal on 2014 spending levels. Democrats are hinting that they may seek new revenues, something Republicans will reject. Republicans will likely try again to reform federal entitlement programs, efforts Democrats have resisted before.

But those huge problems are now weeks away, giving Congress a few weeks to take a breather. This will be one of those weeks — the Senate is out, and the House has set up an agenda of bipartisan bills for the week:

The President’s Priorities 

Last week, President Obama outlined his priorities for the rest of the year:

“There are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out. We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system. We still need to pass a farm bill. And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country.”

We’d like to spotlight these issues, and some of the bills that have already been introduced by Congress:

Immigration

In January 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed a comprehensive set of immigration reform principles, which include giving immigrants a path to citizenship, strengthening border security, and reforming our legal immigration system to reunite families and strengthen our economy while protecting American workers. This turned into a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S 744), which was passed by the Senate in June — and had the support of the President. The House has yet to take up immigration reform, but two comprehensive bills have been introduced:

  • Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (HR 15): a comprehensive immigration reform bill. This legislation is based on the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill (S 744). It eliminates the border security language of the Senate-passed bill and replaces it with the bipartisan border security bill, Border Security Results Act (HR 1417).
  • CIR ASAP Act (HR 3163): To provide for comprehensive immigration reform. Increases the number of Customs and Border Protection Officers by not fewer than 5,000 and does not require additional fencing; immigrants who can establish presence in the US on the day of introduction will be eligible for conditional immigrant visa; Those who qualify would receive a conditional non-immigrant visa which is valid for six years and will be able to naturalize under current law (up to 5 years), making the total path to citizenship about an 11-year wait.

The Farm Bill

The House and Senate haven’t been able to agree on a farm bill — and agriculture programs expired on Oct. 1. The House had passed a bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act (HR 2642), which included $39 billion in cuts to food stamps. The Senate’s version (S 954) had $4 billion in cuts to food stamps. On Oct. 12, the House named Members to negotiate with the Senate on the farm bill — and plans to meet soon reconcile differences.

A Federal Budget

As part of the agreement that re-opened the government and raised the debt ceiling, the House and Senate will establish a budget conference committee to come up with a long-term budget plan for tax and spending policies over the next decade. Specifically, the legislation instructs House and Senate leaders to select Members for the committee who “have open minds willing to consider every option, no matter how painful to their own political party,” according to Sen. Harry Reid. Their deadline is Dec. 13, 2013.

Here are some bills related to the federal budget:

  • Consensus Balanced Budget Amendment (SJRes 7): A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to balancing the budget; requires the President to submit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of GDP; establishes a new super-majority requirement for net tax and rate increases and for an increase in the debt limit.
  • Business Cycle Balanced Budget Amendment (HJRes 24): Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.
  • HJRes 4: Under this Constitutional amendment, the President must submit, and Congress must pass, an annual budget that is balanced.
  • Business Cycle Balanced Budget Amendment (HR 233): to provide for an orderly process by which the debt ceiling is increased. Would allow Treasury to pay debts unless a super-majority in Congress acts to stop them.
  • Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act (S 554): to provide for a biennial budget process and a biennial appropriations process and to enhance oversight and the performance of the Federal Government.
  • End Government Shutdowns Act (S 29): to provide for automatic continuing resolutions.

What Makes Our Economy Grow?

Well, it’s certainly NOT what deadbeats Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei have to offer. Both voted yesterday to let the U.S. default on it’s debts, wreak havoc on the world economy and put the world reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar at risk.  But, despite their NAY votes, the bill passed and the government is once again open to conduct the people’s business, albeit temporarily yet again.  And while yet another committee works on trying to get the GOP to compromise on a workable budget, it’s time that we focus on Immigration Reform and begin to grow our economy.

My Thoughts on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo

— by Rich Dunn, NVRDC 2nd Vice Chair

In 1836 Texas declared independence from Mexico, primarily over the issue of slavery, which Mexico had abolished in 1829. Mexico never relinquished sovereignty over Texas, and since slavery was an issue in the United States as well, it wasn’t until 1845 that a Southern president, John Tyler, formally annexed Texas as a slave state, precipitating the Mexican-American War of 1846-1847.

American forces quickly occupied 525,000 square miles of Mexican territories that are now California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and the western parts of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico as an assertion of its “manifest destiny” to become a continental nation. What was left of Mexico was then invaded from several directions, and after a year and a half of war, Mexican forces were forced to surrender.

Under terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico relinquished sovereignty over Texas and ceded the occupied 525,000 square miles in exchange for $15 million (4.5¢ an acre / $1.20 an acre in today’s money) and some important political concessions.

Article 8 of the treaty states that “Mexicans now established in territories previously belonging to Mexico … shall be free to continue where they now reside” and automatically become full American citizens one year from the exchange of ratifications, so in the context of Article 8, “now” meant May 30, 1949.

Article 9, which was rewritten by the US Senate during the ratification process, redefines “now” as an indefinite “proper time” in the future. It also states that “in the mean time” they “shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.” As congress has yet to decide that the “proper time” for full citizenship has arrived, “in the mean time” means now [2013] and Mexican-born residents of Nevada and other western states still have treaty rights to live and work here, with or without a green card.

Isn’t it time our country followed the law and showed some respect for the people we agreed to share the west with all those years ago? The treaty has no document requirements, so can we please stop calling our Mexican friends and neighbors “undocumented”? And since the treaty clearly recognizes the right of Mexicans to be here, isn’t it time we stopped calling them “aliens”?

It’s also worth looking at what has happened in US-Mexican relations in the decades since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo took effect 165 years ago.

Believing that the treaty meant what it said, the Census Bureau counted Mexican-born residents of the west as US nationals in every census from 1850 to 1920. Only since 1930 have they been treated as foreigners.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was in effect over 40 years before a joint survey team determined exactly where the border actually was, and then only to insure that the US Navy had access to San Diego harbor.

After immigration from Europe and Asia was almost completely shut down in the 1920’s, Mexican workers were actively recruited to relieve the resultant labor shortage.

When the Border Patrol was established in 1924, only ten agents were assigned to watch the entire southern border out of a single office in El Paso, Texas. And they were looking for illegal Chinese immigrants, not Mexicans.

There weren’t even any fences along the southern border until 1949, and then they were only put up to protect US ranchers from cattle infected with hoof and mouth disease.

Though there were mass deportations of questionable legality during the economic depression of the 1930’s, the Bracero program once again recruited Mexican workers to fill labor shortages in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Until 1965, there were no immigration quotas for Mexicans, yet only in the past 50 years have “illegal” workers from Mexico been considered fair game for exploitation that would otherwise be considered illegal, and targeted for detention and summary deportation that make a mockery of due process and basic human rights.

Awareness of the needless deaths, dislocations and disruptions of family life resulting from these draconian measures have become an increasingly heavy burden on America’s collective conscience, so the time has come for all of us to give serious thought to our moral and legal obligations stemming from Articles 8 and 9 of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which is both an unfulfilled promise and the law of the land.

Amodei’s One And Only Public Meeting — an Immigration ‘Listening Session’ in just Reno

The month of August is a time when Congress is in recess and members are supposed to be back in their home districts meeting with constituents.  While other Representatives have been holding townhall meetings throughout their district, Amodei’s main priority has been meeting with his Corporate business partners to ferret out their needs, not with listening to the concerns of the District’s voting public.

I’ve called his offices, both in Reno and in Washington DC five different times, giving them my email address and phone number as well as my home address, and asking for a copy of his townhall schedule.   The absolute silence has been deafening.  Not a call, not an email, not a letter via the USPS — then today, in a check of his web site, I noticed a press release announcing ONE “listening session” he plans to hold in CD2, in RENO, just ONE and just in RENO and for just an hour and a half.  I don’t know about you, but I find that insulting and disingenuous representation.  CD2 is way larger than just RENO.  It’s clear that if we, as voting citizens, want some representation from RURAL CD2, we need to organize, support and elect someone willing to do just that.  Rep. Amodei clearly disdains representing “people” and thinks his voting constituency is the corporate business community.

During the 5-week recess, Rep. Amodei schedules just one 1-1/2 hour “listening session” with actual voters? You have to be kidding me!!!  We, the voters, are worth more than an hour and a half of Rep. Amodei’s time and there are more issues we, his constituents, are concerned about other than just Immigration Reform.   It’s time we show him that we’ve had enough of his voting record and lack of effective representation by actively working to replace him next November.


Friday August 16, 2013: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

RENO, Nev. – Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) today announced that he will hold an immigration listening session in Reno on Friday, August 23, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, in the Washoe County Commission Chamber, Building A, 1001 E. 9th Street, Reno, NV 89512.

“Immigration reform and border security are complex, emotional debates, with passionate beliefs on all sides,” said Amodei. “Some view the issue as one of humaneness. Many see it from a perspective of fairness. And still others approach immigration on the basis of practicality. We are a nation of immigrants. My Irish and Italian forebears made their way to Nevada in search of a better life. We are also a nation of laws with the right to control our borders. While I don’t think any of those perspectives are mutually exclusive, it seems the one thing all sides can consistently agree on is that our immigration system, as presently constituted, is not working.”

Amodei will take questions and comments from constituents during the listening session and his staff will be on hand to help ensure that those in attendance who are unable to ask a question during the listening session can get follow up responses from Amodei.

For more information, please contact Amodei’s Reno office at (775) 686-5760.

# # #

PARA PUBLICACION INMEDIATA                                              Contacto:        Brian Baluta, 202-225-6155

16 de agosto 2013

Amodei atenderá ‘sesión de escucha’ sobre inmigración en Reno

RENO, Nev. – El Congresista Mark Amodei (NV-2) anunció hoy que llevará a cabo una “sesión de escucha” sobre inmigración en Reno el viernes 23 de agosto, desde las 10:30 am hasta el mediodía, en la Sala de la Comisión del Condado de Washoe, Edificio A, 1001 E. 9th Street, Reno, NV 89512.

“La reforma de inmigración y la seguridad fronteriza son debates complejos y emocionales, con las creencias apasionadas por todos lados,” dijo Amodei. “Algunos ven el problema como uno de humanidad. Muchos lo ven desde una perspectiva de igualdad. Y otros de la perspectiva de la practicidad. Somos una nación de inmigrantes. Mis antepasados irlandeses e italianos se dirigieron a Nevada en busca de una vida mejor. También somos una nación de leyes con el derecho de controlar nuestras fronteras. Aunque no creo que ninguna de esas perspectivas son mutuamente excluyentes, parece que la única cosa que todos los lados se ponen de acuerdo es en que constantemente nuestro sistema de inmigración, como está constituido actualmente, no está funcionando.”

Amodei tomará las preguntas y comentarios de los constituyentes durante la sesión de escucha y su personal estará a a su disposición para ayudar a asegurar que los asistentes que no pueden hacer una pregunta durante la “sesión de escucha” puedan obtener un seguimiento de Amodei.

Para obtener más información, por favor comuníquese con la oficina de Reno Amodei al (775) 686 5760

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Make a call in support of real immigration reform

Please make a call to Representative Mark Amodei and ask him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.

Click below for a sample script and the number to call:

Take action now ►

Take action for real immigration reform.

When Congress returns, they’ll have 3 weeks before the current continuing resolution expires and either a NEW budget or a NEW continuing resolution will need to be negotiated and passed, else we’ll be facing a government shutdown.  Three weeks!  That means any meaningful efforts to pass a House-generated Immigration Reform bill will take a back seat to nowhere.  But, that doesn’t have to happen, the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill  with an overwhelming majority of 68 Senators.  The House doesn’t need to create a whole new immigration bill.  The Senate’s approved bill is waiting at the desk in the House for action and the Speaker Boehner is refusing to put the bill up for a vote in the House. The Senate’s bill is far from perfect, but it does advance family reunification, protect the rights of workers, and, most important, provides a viable path to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.

But this immigration bill, which holds millions of lives in its balance, is far from a done deal. We have heard from our friends in Washington that there are more than enough votes in the House to pass the Senate bill on immigration reform. But, not surprisingly, the House Republican leadership has been resorting to its usual grandstanding and political obstruction in an effort to kill immigration reform.1

We need your help to turn up the pressure on Representative Rep. Amodei. A parliamentary tactic called a "discharge petition" could bring an immigration bill to the floor of the House for a vote, even if Speaker Boehner continues to block action on immigration reform. If enough representatives say they would sign a discharge petition, then one of our allies in the House could even potentially introduce the original Senate Judiciary Committee bill on the floor, bringing back a better bill draft that doesn’t include the unnecessary, harmful and expensive provisions for excessive border-enforcement measures.

Will you call Rep. Amodei and urge him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans? Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

We cannot let obstructionist politicians stall the momentum for real immigration reform by letting it die a slow death in Congress.

The time is now for real immigration reform that keeps families together, protects immigrants from violence and discrimination, and provides immigrants who are living in America and contributing to our society a roadmap to citizenship. Instead of focusing on an inhumane, costly and dysfunctional "enforcement" strategy, it’s time to switch to an approach that is both more humane and that makes more economic sense.2

The media has already been taking note of the momentum for a discharge petition to force a vote on a bill with pathway to citizenship on the House floor.3

Call Rep. Amodei: Tell him to say he would support a discharge petition that would allow an up-or-down vote on a meaningful immigration reform bill with a viable pathway to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans. Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

Thank you for fighting for the rights of immigrants.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Click below for a sample script and the number to call:

Take action now ►

1. Markos Moulitsas, "What the hell are House Republicans doing with immigration?," DailyKos.com, August 5, 2013.
2. Mahwish Khan, "When Immigration Enforcement Equals Inhumane Enforcement," America’s Voice, July 20, 2012, and Marshall Fitz, Gebe Martinez, and Madura Wijewardena, "The Costs of Mass Deportation," Center for American Progress, March 19, 2010.
3. Steve Benen, "Immigration reform’s odds improve — a little," The Maddow Blog, August 9, 2013.