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.

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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.

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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 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.

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.