Fri, Aug 28 10:55 AM by Romona Paden
Donald Trump's hardline stance on immigration, which would include deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and ending birthright citizenship if he were to become president, has shown America that the Republican strategy on immigration reform has some serious issues.
According to The Associated Press, GOP leadership had hoped more moderate views on immigration would be part of 2016 campaigning. This is in part because Romney's 2012 run failed to reach most Hispanic voters, and the next nominee must capture some of this demographic if he or she hopes to make it to the presidency. However, Trump continues to insist his views represent the average American, and many people are listening. Not only do members of the public feel this way, but some politicians within the GOP do as well.
However, it is impossible now to reach the White House without appealing to voters of all ethnicities. Some Republican hopefuls, like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, are hoping to do just that – but Trump's rhetoric has highlighted precisely how difficult that may be for the party to do.
Tue, Aug 25 10:03 AM by Romona Paden
The Pew Research Center investigated the attitudes of Americans regarding undocumented immigration. This move came particularly as the existence and fate of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in U.S. is again a major political focus in the run-up to the 2016 presidential race.
The survey, conducted in May, found 72 percent of Americans believe undocumented immigrants currently in the country should be able to stay here if they meet particular requirements.
Other major proposals regarding immigration, particularly from Republican candidates, have also been examined by Pew in years prior. This includes the notion that the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which grants all people born in the U.S. citizenship, should be altered. As of February 2011, 57 percent of Americans said the Constitution ought to stay just as it is.
As of October 11, 46 percent of Americans believed there should be a fence along the Mexican border, with Republicans far more likely to support this notion than people aligned with other parties.
The organization will continue to monitor public sentiment on these issues as the presidential race rages on.
Wed, Aug 19 1:51 PM by Romona Paden
Donald Trump recently released his plan for immigration reform in a move that The New Yorker believes could prompt other candidates to do the same. Policy discussions in terms of specifics are rarely the domain of presidential primaries, but Trump's move may have changed that. Other Republican candidates are now being asked to address Trump's immigration reform plan, which has clarified many of their positions. For this reason, it may have been a boon to those interested in immigration reform to have Trump release his own plan, regardless of how it is ultimately received. Its outline and details have invited comments from all quarters, and have caused other candidates to commit to their own positions, whether they are in accord with or in opposition to Trump's.
The New Yorker notes this takes the debate out of the realm of general platitudes and right down to specific policies, which could allow voters to make their choices based on immigration reform policies as early as the first presidential primaries. Such an important issue deserves attention – and it seems Trump has forced the Republican party's hand in addressing it.
Mon, Aug 17 10:24 AM by Romona Paden
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump released his immigration plan yesterday. The document continues themes that Trump has developed in the media and in debates that have propelled his candidacy into the national eye.
For example, Trump insists in the document that "A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border." His plan also includes making Mexico pay for the wall, using coercive methods such as increasing visa fees from Mexico to the U.S. and raising the fees that come with importing goods into the U.S.
"The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle class wage," Trump continued. For this reason, he introduced a number of measures to ensure immigrants are rarely hired over U.S. citizens.
Aside from those who already agree with his positions, Trump has not won over Americans with this plan. Instead, many believe it is too extreme and would hurt the country, not to mention the undocumented immigrants it is meant to deport en masse.
Fri, Aug 14 1:12 PM by Romona Paden
On Thursday, a group of immigrant rights lawyers made a filing to California U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, in which they said the detention of women and children who have been caught attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is lengthy, unsafe and illegal. The government has previously claimed the women and their children are only held for a few weeks to give asylum claims time to be processed, but the lawyers contest these assertions, saying families are routinely kept for more than a month.
Additionally the lawyers cited incidents of "hopelessly inadequate" medical and psychiatric care in the detention facilities, including children being given the wrong vaccinations, not receiving treatment for illnesses and becoming so sick they needed to be hospitalized.
"Children are being placed at risk every day," the lawyers concluded, according to The Associated Press.
Late last month, Gee had ruled that children should be released from these centers as soon as possible, along with their mothers when practical, according to The New York Times. However, Homeland Security wants the judge to make a different ruling, citing shortened detention times and fears of a surge of immigration if the detention centers are no longer in use.
The lawyers who recently wrote to Gee believe her original ruling must stand.
Wed, Aug 12 10:36 AM by Romona Paden
Immigration reform may be stalled at the federal level, but on a state-by-state basis, many things are changing. This is perhaps most true in California, where the number of protections and rights afforded to undocumented immigrants is so great that it is almost a sort of citizenship. In the state, undocumented immigrants have access to driver's licenses, professional licenses and certification, in-state college tuition, some state-funded medical care and more. While immigration reform debate rages on nationally, California lawmakers are contending with the reality of their state's situation.
"There is a growing recognition now that we're a state of rich diversity," Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) told The LA Times. "We're a state of immigrants and that's a positive."
According to the Times, another reason California is making immigration moves of its own is the fact that Latinos have surpassed whites as the largest ethnic group in the state, and there are many immigrants in that demographic. California also has a large Asian population, some of whom are immigrants as well. In such an environment, there is more acceptance of certain reform measures.
Thu, Aug 6 10:26 AM by Romona Paden
The first Republican presidential candidate debate, scheduled for 9 p.m. on Fox News this Thursday, will feature 10 candidates. Most people expect this debate will touch on immigration, as it is a topic that galvanizes the Republican base consistently.
The opinions of many candidates on immigration are already clear, with Trump's remarks on Mexican immigrants standing as a prime example. Recently, Trump said he would deport all undocumented immigrants before allowing some to come back – a plan that has been suggested and discarded before, according to AZCentral.
Other candidates' opinions are across the board, as many who are pro-business support immigration reform. Others who are reaching toward a very conservative base have made proposals that go so far as to suggest limiting legal immigration further, as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has done.
Most candidates do believe border security is a priority, whether or not they support mass deportations or are open to some sort of immigration reform.
After this first debate, the landscape of possible Republican presidential views on immigration will be more clear, and will allow voters and immigration advocates to understand which stance seems most popular.
Tue, Aug 4 10:56 AM by Romona Paden
Immigration and immigration reform were hot topics at the New Hampshire debate preview for the 2016 GOP presidential primary. The Voters First Forum did not include Donald Trump, whose recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico have made serious waves throughout the world, but it did feature plenty of discussion along lines he had previously drawn.
For this first debate preview, the candidates avoided some of the harder questions about immigration, instead focusing on such initiatives as securing the border and limiting or otherwise changing the amount of legal immigration to the U.S. They also agreed the ultimate fate of 11 million undocumented immigrants has to wait until enforcement reverts back to what it was before the Obama administration's immigration reform actions. Most candidates saw securing the border as a priority, while none spoke of mass deportations. The Associated Press noted Republicans need to appeal to Hispanic voters, who overwhelmingly prefer Democrats, and may have tempered their immigration messages for this reason.
As the presidential primaries progress, immigration and immigration reform will continue to be a topic of serious contention within the GOP and between all political parties in the U.S.
Mon, Aug 3 11:37 AM by Romona Paden
If you are marrying a U.S. citizen, you will be eligible to apply for a green card after the marriage is official. What you must do to obtain a green card will depend on where you currently reside. Let's have a look at what this process entails.
If you're in the U.S.
If you already live in the U.S., you can apply for permanent residence after your marriage is official. You will apply on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Simultaneously, your spouse will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If you do this concurrently, you will be able to undergo the entire process in one step.
If you would rather apply in two steps, you can have your spouse file Form I-130 and wait until it is received or approved, at which time you will receive Form I-797 from USCIS. This will show your spouse's form has been received or approved. Then, you can file your own I-485 application with a copy of the I-130 receipt or the I-797 notice.
"Outside the U.S., you'll get a green card through consular processing."
If you're outside the U.S.
If you currently reside outside of the U.S., you'll need to get a green card through consular processing. This means USCIS and the Department of State will issue a visa on your I-130 petition when one becomes available. Then, you'll travel to the U.S. on that visa, at which time you'll become a permanent resident. After the Department of State receives your I-130, you will be notified that you are eligible to apply for a visa, which you must do within one year of that notification. Otherwise, you won't be eligible anymore.
In all cases
Filing to receive a green card through marriage will require you and your spouse to fill out the biographic information form G-325A. You'll also have to prove your marriage is in good faith (you may hear this referred to as "proving the bona fides of the marriage"). To prove this, you will need to submit copies of birth and marriage certificates, anything from the wedding you can use to prove it is genuine such as announcements and invitations, proof of jointly held assets and bank accounts and so on. Take the time to gather these documents together before you try to make your application so you are not delayed.
Thu, Jul 30 1:42 PM by Romona Paden
Lawyers who provide pro bono services to undocumented immigrants in family detention in Texas recently wrote a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to describe alleged mistreatment. This comes just after a federal judge has ruled it is against a prior settlement to keep children and their mothers in family detention centers. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association were all signatories to the letter.
The document says there is a "cascade of due process violations and detrimental practices at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas," according to a press release. These include coercing women to accept ankle monitors, intimidating women at the facilities, refusing to translate important documents and giving conflicting information to families.
As immigration reform is increasingly in the public eye as we move toward the 2016 presidential race, family detention is making the news already – and this letter only pushes the issue. The Obama administration is still drafting a response to the ruling that found this type of detention illegal, and may appeal.
Wed, Jul 22 10:36 AM by Romona Paden
Under the EB-5 immigrant investor program, someone who wants to become a U.S. permanent resident can do so if he or she invests $500,000 in a project in an area with high unemployment and creates at least 10 jobs in doing so. This benefit also extends to the investor's family. This is a popular avenue to a green card for those who can afford it – largely Chinese investors in the past, though interest from other countries is growing.
"We have seen markets growing that had not been EB-5 players in the past," Peter Joseph, executive director of industry trade group Invest in the USA, told The Wall Street Journal. People from Brazil, Russia and Vietnam are beginning to access the chance to get a green card through this avenue.
The program drew almost $2 billion to construction, film, mining and other industries in 2013, with construction by far the most popular investment. The program, which had only 486 applicants in 2006, saw 10,928 people apply to invest in the U.S. last year.
According to the Journal, Chinese investors continue to look for opportunities for U.S. permanent residency by investing in projects others run, while those from Brazil tend to want to control their own investments.
Wed, Jul 15 12:29 PM by Romona Paden
News of immigration reform efforts has been accompanied recently by speculation about immigration and crime. A tragic shooting in California gave rise to many pundits making comments about whether there are connections between crime and immigration, and whether undocumented immigrants are high-risk for committing crimes.
The Washington Post pointed out that Mexican-born immigrant males between the ages of 18 and 39 who do not have a high school diploma had a lower rate of incarceration in 2010 than all native-born males of the same age regardless of education level – and a much lower incarceration rate than native-born American males without high school diplomas. In general, the Post reported, immigrants are one fifth as likely to be incarcerated for crimes, and analysts have found this difference is due to a lower propensity for crime overall.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a report by the Immigration Policy Center from 2007, which found "for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population."
As the debates around immigration reform continue, it's important to have the facts on immigration and crime rather than speculation.
Mon, Jul 13 2:39 PM by Romona Paden
As immigration reform on the national level continues, California lawmakers are beginning to take certain matters into their own hands, according to The Los Angeles Times. The state is considering a law that would allow undocumented farmworkers to obtain work permits. This is the second time such a measure has been under consideration in California. The first pass at such legislation three years ago was opposed by labor unions and immigrant rights groups that preferred national action.
However, as national action on immigration reform lags, California lawmakers believe they must do something. Assemblyman Luis Alejo introduced the bill, and said it is agricultural workers and their families who continue to suffer as the immigration debate wears on. The program would grant work permits to people already working in the country for a small administrative fee, and would exclude those who have felony or three misdemeanor convictions. It would also only apply to those who are over 18 and who have done a minimum amount of agricultural work. This would keep the workers, their spouses and their children who are under 18 or who attend an accredited college from being deported.
Sat, Jul 11 4:49 PM by Romona Paden
Es un hecho innegable que los latinos han sido clave en el crecimiento económico y social de los Estados Unidos. Durante varios años, este sector de la población se mantuvo en constante crecimiento hasta ahora. La Oficina de Censo de los Estados Unidos acaba de revelar que no solo la población de latinos en Estados Unidos no está creciendo, sino que está disminuyendo.
De acuerdo con el último conteo que llevó a cabo la Oficina del Censo de los EUA, en 2014 había 44.5 millones de latinos en el país. Esto era equivalente al 17.4 por ciento de la población total del país. Esto representó un crecimiento de 1.2 millones de latinos en comparación con 2013. El Centro de Investigación Pew calculó que de 2013 a 2014 hubo un incremento de 2.1 por ciento de latinos.
Aunque en teoría ha existido un crecimiento, la realidad es que desde 2010 al día de hoy ha disminuido la población latina. Se calcula que de 1995 al año 2000 se mantuvo un crecimiento constante del 4.8 por ciento pero a partir de 2010, el crecimiento apenas ha alcanzado el 2.2 por ciento.
¿Dónde hay más latinos en Estados Unidos?
Todos los censos coinciden en que el Condado de Los Ángeles es el que tiene mayor número de población latina con 4.9 millones entre latinos que están de forma legal e indocumentada en el país.
El Condado Harris en Texas es el segundo con mayor población de latinos al alojar a 1.9 millones y el Condado de Miami-Dade le sigue con 1.8 millones de latinos.
Las razones de la disminución de latinos en Estados Unidos
Una de las principales razones de esta disminución de latinos en Estados Unidos es el aumento de dificultades a las que se enfrentan los inmigrantes. Hay que recordar que antes de llegar a los Estados Unidos, los latinos deben pasar por México, país que actualmente vive un estado de gran violencia en zonas clave para los migrantes.
La segunda razón más importante es el aumento de seguridad en la franja fronteriza con México. Esto ha tenido como resultado que cada día sean menos los inmigrantes que logran entrar a los Estados Unidos. De los que lo logran, un gran porcentaje es detenido y deportado a su país de origen.
En lo que se refiere a los migrantes legales, también se ha dado una disminución considerable principalmente porque otros países comienzan a generar interés. Aunque Estados Unidos sigue siendo la principal alternativa por su cercanía con Latinoamérica, Europa poco a poco comienza a atraer por sus becas y facilidades para mejorar su vida. Entre los países que comienzan a ganar adeptos están Alemania, Italia y Finlandia. Además, dentro del continente, Canadá también está tomando gran fuerza por sus políticas migratorias para latinos.
Latinos y Estados Unidos sigue siendo un matrimonio
Pese a la disminución de latinos que se está dando, no podemos negar que este sector de la población sigue siendo muy importante para la economía del país. Por ahora es impensable un Estados Unidos sin latinos, quizá en el futuro esta sea una dupla que se rompa. Mientras esto pasa, recuerda que podemos ayudarte a llevar un proceso migratorio con menos complicaciones.
Thu, Jul 9 1:58 PM by Romona Paden
The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage was a landmark. It changed the lives of millions of Americans and has been heralded by many as a step in the right direction in the fight for equality. However, not as many news outlets have pointed out that it is a serious advance in immigration reform as well! Because of the ruling, same-sex couples of which one member is not a U.S. citizen will have the ability to obtain a spousal visa for this person.
"You can sponsor your same-sex spouse for a visa."
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal and ensured it is recognized on the federal level, possibilities have opened up for same-sex couples in the world of immigration. A same-sex couple with one spouse who needs a U.S. visa now has recourse to the same processes available to opposite-sex married couples. Here's a quick review of how to file for a spousal visa for your same-sex partner:
Remember that the process is no different
Though the country and perhaps certain officials are still getting used to fully recognized same-sex marriage, the process you'll use to apply for a spousal visa as part of a same-sex marriage is the same as a man and a woman who are married would use. There are resources available to you if you encounter officials who are hostile to you as a couple because of your sexual orientation, but hope for the best – after all, this is simply a spousal visa application.
Are you married yet?
If you are not married to your partner yet, you may apply for a nonimmigrant visa for a fiance(e), known as a K-1. You will need to fill out an I-129F fiance(e) petition to acquire this visa. Once your partner has arrived in the U.S., you can then marry and pursue citizenship through applying for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen, known as IR1 or CR1. You will need to fill out a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130.
If you are already married
If your spouse currently lives in the U.S. and you are married, that is the point from which you will start the process of obtaining a visa. You will need to fill out an approved I-130 petition for your spouse to obtain the IR1 or CR1 visa.
Note also that these steps apply to any of your immigrant spouse's minor children as well.
Sat, Jun 27 8:24 PM by Romona Paden
No podemos negar que la situación de los indocumentados de Estados Unidos es preocupante para todo el país. Debido a que los dos partidos políticos del país están fuertemente opuestos en lo que se refiere al tema de la inmigración y el papel de los indocumentados, no es raro que la mayoría de los ciudadanos hagan oír su voz. Los resultados son los siguientes.
El sentimiento de la mayoría
Casi el 72 por ciento de los estadounidenses están de acuerdo en que los inmigrantes indocumentados obtengan la legalización para vivir en Estados Unidos. La gran mayoría considera que se deben establecer reglas muy específicas.
Otro 42 por ciento cree que los inmigrantes que han vivido varios años en el país merecen el derecho a buscar la ciudadanía y otro 26 por ciento cree que deberían tener derecho a obtener la residencia permanente.
Otro 27 por ciento de la población cree que los inmigrantes indocumentados no tienen derecho a pedir la ciudadanía ni la residencia por haber incumplido con las leyes. Esta parte de la población suele coincidir en que quienes llegaron como indocumentados rompieron la ley, por lo que no pueden recibir beneficios por ello.
La imagen de los indocumentados ha cambiado
Los ciudadanos estadounidenses han cambiado mucho en la forma en que ven al inmigrante. A pesar de esto, las opiniones siguen estando muy divididas. El 51 por ciento considera que los inmigrantes son buenos para el país porque son personas trabajadoras y dispuestas a aprovechar sus talentos.
Otra parte de la población, el 41 por ciento, sigue creyendo que los inmigrantes son un problema para el país porque toman trabajos con menores salarios, se les debe invertir en hogares y salud.
Qué piensan los latinos de los inmigrantes indocumentados
La gran mayoría de latinos que viven en Estados Unidos creen que los inmigrantes indocumentados que viven en el país deberían permanecer y poder legalizar su situación. Sin embargo, casi un 14 por ciento cree que los indocumentados no merecen ese derecho. Este grupo suele pensar que si ellos siguieron el proceso legal para establecerse conforme a la ley, los indocumentados podrían hacer lo mismo.
En el caso de los latinos de segunda generación, es decir, aquello que nacieron en los Estados Unidos, el 93 por ciento cree que los migrantes indocumentados merecen permanecer en el país.
Los millennials y su visión de los migrantes indocumentados
La generación de los millennials es la de mayor número en todo el país. Esto hace que sea importante conocer su opinión sobre todos los temas políticos y sociales. El 53 por ciento de esta población cree que es mejor crear las vías que permitan obtener la ciudadanía a los indocumentados. Otro 27 por ciento prefiere que se les de la posibilidad de obtener la residencia permanente a través de un proceso sencillo pero bien regulado.
Las diferencias basadas en ideas políticas
La mayoría de los demócratas, casi un 80 por ciento, considera que los inmigrantes indocumentados tienen derecho a permanecer en los Estados Unidos siempre que busquen la manera de legalizar su estadía. Los electores independientes apoyan en un 76 por ciento la idea de los demócratas.
A su vez, los republicanos también muestran interés en que los inmigrantes indocumentados permanezcan en el país. Se calcula que casi un 56 por ciento de los demócratas apoya esta idea y el 63 por ciento en verdad cree que los inmigrantes son de gran ayuda para el país.
Un tema que no pierde importancia
Aunque Estados Unidos tiene una gran cantidad de temas que le son importantes, la migración y la situación de los migrantes indocumentados es clave para el país. No se puede olvidar que el país nació de la inmigración y que hoy en día esta sigue siendo muy importante para su crecimiento. Sin duda, las próximas elecciones estarán fuertemente influenciadas por este tema ya que una gran parte de la población con capacidad de votar está relacionada de alguna manera con la inmigración.
Recuerda que si eres un inmigrante indocumentado que busca solucionar su situación legal, quieres asesorías para ingresar legalmente al país o quieres resolver alguna otra duda, puedes contactarnos y con gusto te ayudaremos.
Sat, Jun 27 4:59 PM by Romona Paden
Existen diversos caminos para conseguir la residencia permanente en Estados Unidos y no es raro que muchos busquen la más fácil: a través de familiares que ya viven en el país. Sin embargo, quienes no cuentan con esta facilidad pueden optar por otras alternativas: servir en la milicia de los Estados Unidos y obtener el estatus de refugiado. Hoy te hablaré de la opción de obtener la residencia a través de un empleador estadounidense. Contrario a lo que se podría pensar, no es imposible de lograr.
Aspectos generales sobre la residencia permanente por empleo
- Cualquier extranjero puede solicitar la residencia permanente por empleo cuando tiene una oferta de empleo permanente en Estados Unidos. Esto significa que puedes acceder a este beneficio sin importar tu profesión, oficio o carrera. La condición es que tengas una invitación de trabajo.
- El empleador puede iniciar el trámite para patrocinar la residencia permanente por empleo para la persona que desea contratar. Esto se hace con la finalidad de garantizar que quienes obtienen esta residencia permanente realmente tengan una forma de ganarse la vida.
- La residencia permanente por empleo te permite trabajar y vivir de forma libre en los Estados Unidos. Solo recuerda que siempre deberás respetar las leyes del país.
Los distintos tipos de residencia permanente por empleo
Existen varios tipos de empleo y al momento de solicitar tu residencia permanente por empleo, las autoridades de Estados Unidos toman esto en cuenta. Los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos clasificarán tu solicitud y caso de acuerdo al tipo de empleo, la importancia de tu profesión y el beneficio que puedes representar para el país. Las categorías existentes y clasificadas de mayor a menor importancia son:
Este tipo de residencia se le da a los extranjeros con amplios conocimientos y habilidades en artes, ciencias, educación, deportes y negocios. Los perfiles elegidos para este trámite suelen ser profesores o investigadores con gran prestigio, empresarios, gerentes y altos ejecutivos.
Se suele otorgar a personas con excelentes habilidades en los negocios, artes y ciencias que buscan obtener brindar grandes beneficios a la economía del lugar donde radicarán, al sistema educativo, a la cultura o a cualquier otro aspecto de relevancia nacional.
Las personas que entran en esta categoría suelen tener grados de estudios avanzados y trabajan en su área de estudios.
Los extranjeros que tienen dos o más años de experiencia y han demostrado ser empleados con buenas aptitudes son clasificados en esta categoría. El grado mínimo de estudios suele ser el equivalente a licenciatura.
En esta clasificación también entran algunos trabajadores con menos de dos años de experiencia. En este caso solo se aceptarán aquellos con las habilidades necesarias para cubrir puestos que no tienen gran demanda entre trabajadores locales.
Este tipo de residencia se le otorga a perfiles muy especiales: trabajadores religiosos, presentadores, traductores de Irak y Afganistán, iraquíes que hayan ayudado a los Estados Unidos, empleados de organizaciones internacionales, doctores, miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas, empleados de la Zona del Canal de Panamá, empleados retirados del NATO-6, hijos y esposos o esposas de empleados fallecidos del NATO-6.
Proceso de aplicación para la residencia permanente por empleo
Existen dos procesos para obtener este tipo de residencia. La diferencia es que uno está pensado para quienes viven en el extranjero y el otro proceso es para los extranjeros que ya viven en los Estados Unidos.
El proceso para quienes viven en el extranjero se debe realizar el trámite consular a través de la oficina de los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos. El empleador debe completar el formato I-140 de Petición de Trabajador Inmigrante Extranjero y pagar la tarifa correspondiente.
En caso de que ya vivas en los Estados Unidos de forma legal, deberás solicitar un ajuste de estatus. Para esto, se deberá completar el formulario I-140 y una vez que seas notificado de que hay un número de visa disponible, te debes presentar con el formulario I-485 de Solicitud de Registro de Residencia Permanente o Ajuste de Estatus.
El formulario I-485 debe ser acompañado por la siguiente documentación:
- La evidencia de inspección, admisión y permiso para entrar a los Estados Unidos. Es el formulario I-94 que recibiste al registrar tu entrada al país.
- La copia de notificación de aprobación enviada por la USCIS en caso de haberla recibido.
- La carta con la oferta de empleo emitida por el empleador.
- Dos fotos a color recientes.
- El formulario G-325A de Información biográfica.
- El formulario I-693 de Informe médico y de vacunación.
- Cualquier evidencia complementaria que demuestre que eres elegible.
Sin dudas, parece que realizar el trámite estando en el extranjero resulta más sencillo pero no te desanimes si ya radicas en los Estados Unidos. Recuerda que siempre puedes contar con nuestra asesoría para hacer más fácil tu trámite.
Sat, May 23 7:02 PM by Romona Paden
Durante varias décadas las relaciones diplomáticas entre Estados Unidos y Cuba fueron frías y lejanas. En los últimos meses el Presidente Obama ha buscado un acercamiento y restauración de relaciones, consiguiendo mejorar el diálogo entre ambos países. Los primeros resultados fueron la reunión del Presidente Obama con Raúl Castro y el aumento de migrantes cubanos a Estados Unidos.
La Guardia Costera de Estados Unidos reportó un incrementó a partir de la fecha en que Obama comenzó el diálogo en los últimos meses de 2014. Como siempre, Florida es el destino elegido de la mayoría de quienes toman los botes que salen de las costas cubanas.
¿Por qué aumentó la migración?
La principal preocupación de los migrantes cubanos es que si las relaciones cubano-americanas mejoran, los privilegios que hoy tienen los cubanos se vean disminuidos. Debemos recordar que estos ciudadanos tienen grandes ventajas en comparación con los ciudadanos de otros países, por ejemplo:
- No son deportados.
- Tienen mayor facilidad para obtener la tarjeta verde y reciben la residencia permanente por parte de los Estados Unidos..
- Se les da el tratamiento de refugiados políticos desde el momento en que pisan suelo estadounidense.
Los oficiales de inmigración y diversas autoridades estadounidenses han mencionado que no habrá cambios drásticos en los próximos meses pero esto solo ha empeorado la situación.
¿Qué opinan los ciudadanos americanos?
Varios diarios locales han realizado encuestas sobre los derechos especiales de los migrantes cubanos desde los primeros meses del año, principalmente en Florida. Los resultados son interesantes:
- El 37% considera que se deben terminar los beneficios que otorga el "Adjustment Cuban Act":
- El 27% cree que deberían seguir estos beneficios.
- El 33% no están seguros.
Sobre la política "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" que se implementó en 1995, los resultados fueron:
- El 46% opina que se deberían terminar estos derechos.
- El 27% opina que se debe seguir aplicando esta política.
Entre los encuestados hay ciudadanos americanos y extranjeros. Se ha visto que muchos inmigrantes opinan que los cubanos deberían tener las mismas reglas que el resto para entrar al país. Entre los grupos que más apelan a esta igualdad están los haitianos, quienes también han buscado tener el trato de asilo y refugio político.
El turismo a Cuba aumentó
Es innegable que los ciudadanos estadounidenses disfrutan de viajar y conocer otras culturas y esta vez quieren conocer a la Cuba auténtica. Por ello, miles han comenzado a viajar o planificar una nueva salida. Esto también llevará algunos beneficios a los ciudadanos cubanos, como el aumento de riqueza derivada por servicios relacionados al turismo: hospedaje y restaurantes, entre otros.
Parece que los estadounidenses se sienten interesados en conocer la cultura cubana y ahora que tienen la posibilidad de hacerlo por primera vez en más de cuarenta años, no dudan en hacerlo.
Un hecho histórico
La reunión entre Obama y Raúl Castro se dio en 2015 durante la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá. El acercamiento inició con un apretón de manos pero ha causado un gran revuelo entre los cubanos que aspiran a tener una mejor vida en Estados Unidos. Los cubanos que ya viven en Estados Unidos también han dado a conocer sus temores por los cambios que el acercamiento pueda traer.
Por su parte, el Presidente Obama se ha mostrado optimista al decir que cree que "se ha entrado en un camino nuevo hacia el futuro que dejará atrás algunas de las circunstancias que dificultaron la comunicación entre ambos países".
Las autoridades estadounidenses confían en que los inmigrantes cubanos respondan positivamente a estos cambios y que mantengan la seguridad de que su estatus y procedimientos no van a cambiar drásticamente en poco tiempo.
En caso de que tengas alguna duda sobre tus trámites o necesites asesoría en cualquier proceso migratorio, no dudes en contactarnos.
Thu, May 14 12:12 AM by Romona Paden
Anteriormente te he hablado sobre los mitos que existen alrededor de la inmigración y los inmigrantes. En esta ocasión termino de analizarlos y como podrás ver, la realidad resulta bastante interesante de entender. Espero que la próxima vez que pienses en los inmigrantes, lo hagas con esta información en mente.
Los inmigrantes envían todo su dinero a su países de origen
Entre los argumentos que usan quienes critican a los inmigrantes está el mito de que ellos le hacen un daño a la economía estadounidense al enviar todo el dinero que ganan a su país de origen. Esto es totalmente falso. La realidad es que los inmigrantes gastan gran parte de su dinero dentro de los Estados Unidos. Hay que recordar que ellos tienen gastos que cubrir como impuestos, alimentos, renta, etc.
Es cierto que cada año se envían millones de dólares al extranjero pero esta también es una ayuda a los Estados Unidos porque se logra un mayor movimiento de dinero que mejora la economía nacional y del mundo entero.
Los inmigrantes toman los trabajos y las oportunidades de los ciudadanos americanos
Esta ha sido una de las acusaciones que más han marcado a los inmigrantes desde hace más de cien años. Lo primero que no debemos olvidar en este sentido es que el propio Estados Unidos está conformado por inmigrantes que llegaron buscando lo mismo que hoy en día: una mejor vida. Otra cosa que debemos tener presente es que hoy en día, al igual que antes, existen empleos que no pueden ser tomados por los propios ciudadanos.
Las razones son muchas, pero la situación es que los inmigrantes toman solo aquellos trabajos que los ciudadanos no pueden hacer por falta de preparación o por exceso de la misma. Esto ha propiciado que hoy tengamos inmigrantes de todos los países que hacen crecer y mejoran nuestra cultura, sociedad y economía.
Los inmigrantes actuales son muy distintos a los de hace 100 años
Este mito tiene una parte de cierto y otra de falso. No podemos negar que nuestra sociedad y cultura ha evolucionado, y con ellos, nosotros. La primera gran diferencia entre los inmigrantes actuales y los de hace cien años es que en aquella época apenas el 11.5% habían nacido en Estados Unidos y eran hijos de inmigrantes. Hoy esto se da en el 20% de los inmigrantes.
También es cierto que hace cien años, los inmigrantes se agrupaban por país de origen mientras que ahora existe una mezcla más real. En aquella época, los inmigrantes solo hablaban su idioma y se involucraban poco en la cultura americana. Hoy han creado una mezcla de culturas rica, diversa e interesante.
Una similitud es la discriminación que existe pero ahora hemos evolucionado y poco a poco va desapareciendo este problema. Otra similitud es que cada nueva ola de inmigrantes que llega siente el mismo temor que los inmigrantes de hace cien años.
Queda claro que los inmigrantes no son de ninguna manera los enemigos de los ciudadanos americanos, solo son personas que han debido dejar todo lo que conocen y aman para buscar mejores oportunidades. Recuerda que puedes llamarnos siempre que necesites asesoría en temas migratorios.
Wed, Apr 29 10:05 PM by Romona Paden
La Ley conocida como Obamacare se llama realmente Ley de Asistencia Asequible. Es aplicable a todos los ciudadanos americanos y a la mayoría de los inmigrantes que se encuentren de forma legal dentro de Estados Unidos. Esta es una excelente noticia para todos porque ahora es obligatorio tener cobertura de salud. Para obtener los beneficios del Obamacare puedes acogerte a cualquiera de los planes disponibles o a través de tu trabajo.
Quiénes no pueden beneficiarse del Obamacare
Si estás en la categoría de los inmigrantes DACA (Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia) y estás esperando que se resuelva la Ley Dream, tendrás que esperar también por tu seguro de salud. La Ley Obamacare no autoriza aún a estos inmigrantes a ser elegibles para aplicar para el programa de atención de la salud.
Podrás beneficiarte del Obamacare si estás en alguno de los siguientes grupos:
· Residente permanente legal
· Cubano / Haitiano Participante.
· Libertad Condicional en los EEUU.
· Participantes condicionales concedidos antes de 1980.
· Maltrato cónyuge, padres e hijos.
· Residente legal temporal.
· Solicitantes de protección temporal con autorización de empleo, inmigrante especial joven, ajuste a estatus LPR , víctimas de tráfico de visa, otros.
Para poder aplicar debes haber vivido en el país durante cinco años. Los inmigrantes que tengan la condición de refugiado pueden calificar para Medicaid si han pasado ya el período de espera de los cinco años. Pero es la única excepción.
Tal vez tu familia tenga lo que se llama "estatus mixto" porque sus integrantes tienen todos diferentes situaciones inmigratorias y de ciudadanía. Puede ser que algunos familiares no puedan obtener los beneficios completos de Medicaid mientras otros son elegibles para Medicaid y CHIP.
En este caso puedes solicitar un crédito impositivo o las reducciones de gastos de bolsillo del seguro privado para los dependientes elegibles para la cobertura del Mercado, Medicaid y CHIP. A los familiares que no estén solicitando la cobertura a través del Mercado para ellos, no se les preguntará si tienen una situación inmigratoria elegible.
También puedes acudir, si hay en el estado donde vives, a los centros de salud financiados federalmente y con cobertura del estado. Estos centros atienden a las poblaciones con acceso limitado a los servicios de salud. Ellos deben proporcionar atención en salud básica a todos los residentes, incluidas familias inmigrantes mientras estén viviendo en el área de servicio de esa clínica. Igualmente casi un tercio de los estados están ofreciendo cobertura médica subvencionada exclusivamente por fondos estatales a individuos que no sean ciudadanos, aunque no satisfagan las definiciones federales.
Solicitar los beneficios de Medicaid, CHIP o recibir ahorros para un seguro a través del Mercado no significa ser una "carga pública". No afectará tus posibilidades de conseguir la residencia permanente o la ciudadanía estadounidense.
Sin embargo, la única excepción son las personas que viven en una dependencia de cuidado a largo plazo por el gobierno. En este caso, tal vez tengan inconvenientes para conseguir la tarjeta verde.
Los inmigrantes que aún están indocumentados no son elegibles para los beneficios públicos federales de la Ley del Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio. Si estás en este grupo, no puedes comprar la cobertura médica a través del Mercado de seguros, ni obtener créditos tributarios. Si puedes seguir comprando un seguro privado fuera del Mercado y puedes recibir servicios de emergencia limitados a través de Medicaid. Si estás en este grupo por favor intenta regularizarte.
Lo mejor es mantenerse dentro de la ley
Recuerda que existen sanciones para aquellos inmigrantes legales que no participen en el nuevo sistema y que no tengan seguro de salud. Las sanciones pueden ser multas del Servicio de Impuestos Internos. A partir de esta nueva Ley es obligatorio tener cobertura de salud. Si no lo cubre tu trabajo, debes hacerte cargo tú.
No dudes en comunicarte con nosotros si requieres asesoría.
Tue, Apr 28 12:46 AM by Romona Paden
The upcoming presidential election is all but sure to feature immigration reform as a hot button issue. The state of immigration in the U.S. is extremely volatile right now, as President Barack Obama has introduced executive actions to offer amnesty towards many undocumented immigrants currently residing in the country. While the president has been backed by many individuals on the left side of the aisle and made considerable progress in furthering his initiative, he has also seen a great deal of resistance from opponents of reform. A lawsuit has been filed against his orders by a federal judge in Texas, and many Republicans are looking to press heavily on the immigration issue during Obama's last year in office. While the issue of immigration has to be looked at from many different angles, a recent study has shown a correlation between immigration and the struggling American middle class.
According to The Blaze, the Senate Judiciary Committee was approached this week by the Congressional Research Service regarding new findings on the impact of immigration. In short, the CRS brought research that argued that a correlation exists between the increase in immigration to America and the decrease in the average household income of the middle class annually. In order to determine this, the CRS analyzed the reported wages of the lowest 90 percent of taxpayers from 1970 onward. According to the study, this is because 1970 marks a turning point in U.S. history where the nation began to experience dramatically higher immigration rates than it had before. The reported wages for these individuals were then adjusted for inflation over time, revealing that the average income of the middle class had indeed decreased as immigration rates had risen.
The Latin Post has indicated that the CRS did not present the report with a given analysis or conclusion regarding the data. Nonetheless, multiple sources have indicated that Republicans may use this data to further assert the position that immigration may be detrimental to the American economy. That claim seems to be unfounded, though, as multiple news outlets have also indicated that the study shows only correlation and not causation between the two variables. Indeed, there were certainly other prominent factors that transpired between 1970 and the present day that have had an effect on the shrinking income of the middle class, such as the gradual disappearance of manual labor jobs.
What this means moving forward
While this study may very well be brought up during the electoral debates as election campaigning continues, it may very well have no effect on the continuing battle for comprehensive immigration reform. More than likely, the largest issue that will transpire over the next few months will be the eventual resolution of the federal lawsuit brought against Obama's executive action. If the lawsuit is found to be valid, then some of those executive orders could potentially be reversed. Assuming that the president's orders are maintained, though, it could mean a clearer route to American citizenship for undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S.
Tue, Apr 7 4:12 PM by Romona Paden
Interesting news continues to pour out of the Southwestern U.S., as individuals seeking a better life, and potentially American citizenship, continue to cross the border into the country. While the phenomenon of undocumented immigrant children entering the U.S. seemed to come to a peak last year in 2014, it is occurring again in smaller numbers now, according to multiple sources. The Washington Times has reported that more than 3,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have entered the Southwestern U.S. in the last month alone, and that number shows no signs of slowing down.
"More than 3,000 immigrant children entered the U.S. last month."
While the rapid entrance of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. is not exclusively comprised of unaccompanied children, they are certainly the single largest demographic. Breitbart has reported that in the six-month period between October 2014 and the end of March 2015, more than 15,640 such children crossed the Mexican border into the country. While this number is not nearly as drastic as last year's immigration surge – in which nearly 70,000 unaccompanied minors entered the country in one year – it's still large enough to overwhelm temporary detainment centers.
This influx of unaccompanied immigrant minors couldn't come at a time when the country was more divided over immigration practices. While president Barack Obama is using his executive power to attempt comprehensive reform of our immigration system, high-ranking officials from many states are desperately trying to block him. As of yet, it remains impossible to know how the situation will be handled, or whether it will be fully resolved before Obama's final term ends. With that said, the Southwestern U.S. appears ready to brace itself for an immigration spurt not unlike that of 2014.
Tue, Mar 31 4:33 PM by Romona Paden
There's good news out of the Lone Star State for those seeking American citizenship, as multiple news sources indicated Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice has handed down an appeal urging a federal judge in Texas to reverse his hold on President Barack Obama's executive immigration actions. According to NBC News, the appeal came in the form of a nearly 70-page document that detailed how the federal government intends to use its authority to enforce Obama's proposed action. If followed through with, Obama's executive order could defer deportation for more than 5 million undocumented immigrants who are currently living stateside.
According to Breitbart News, the initial executive order by Obama to defer deportation for these immigrants was met by a coalition of 26 separate states that disagreed with it. This group was led by high-ranking individuals from each state, many of them governors. Ultimately, the hold was put in place by a federal judge located in the town of Brownsville, Texas. In short, the coalition opposing Obama's move finds his actions to be unconstitutional in that they would allow benefits similar to citizenship for unnaturalized individuals.
"The coalition opposing Obama's move find his actions unconstitutional."
While only time will tell whether or not the appeal will ultimately be successful, the wheels are certainly in motion to block the Texas-based hold on the executive order. In a brief from the Obama Administration concerning the appeal, it is argued that the basis for objection seems to be strictly fiscal, and that very little harm would come from allowing the order to be carried out. That statement goes on to indicate that even fiscal damage would likely be confined to Texas, and that Texas should, accordingly, act alone in its injunction.
"Absent a finding that any other state than Texas would suffer any identifiable financial injury, the scope of the injunction should be confined to Texas. Failing that, the injunction should not extend beyond the plaintiff states," Breitbart reported the brief read.
Sat, Mar 14 11:08 PM by Romona Paden
¿Deseas reunirte finalmente con tu familia luego de varios años de vivir separados? Voy a darte algunos consejos que te ayudarán a facilitar el proceso de migración patrocinada por un familiar. Este es un proceso que lleva varios pasos que deben seguir tanto el familiar que hace la reclamación como el ciudadano extranjero con familia en Estados Unidos. Los siguientes pasos te ayudarán en este proceso de migración patrocinada por un familiar:
¿Esta opción es viable para ti?
Las personas que desean inmigrar son clasificadas en base a un sistema preferencial. Tu categoría se determina por el tipo de relación que tengas con el patrocinador que vive en los Estados Unidos.
Los familiares inmediatos no tienen que esperar por un número de visa de inmigrante para ser elegibles una vez que su solicitud de visa sea procesada por las autoridades migratorias de los Estados Unidos. Otros familiares pueden obtener un número de visa de inmigrante de acuerdo con el sistema de preferencias determinado por las autoridades migratorias de Estados Unidos. Estas preferencias se clasifican en:
Primera preferencia familiar (F1): hijos soltero de ciudadanos estadounidenses y sus hijos si los tienen.
Segunda preferencia familiar (F2): cónyuges, hijos menores de edad e hijos(as) soltero(as) mayores de 20 años de residentes permanentes legales. Al menos el 70% de las visas de esta categoría se otorgan a los cónyuges e hijos menores de edad y el resto se entrega a los hijos e hijas soltero(as) mayores de 20 años.
Tercera preferencia familiar (F3): Hijos e hijas casado(as) de ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos y sus cónyuges e hijos.
Cuarta preferencia familiar (F4): Hermanos y hermanas de ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, y sus cónyuges e hijos, siempre que los ciudadanos estadounidenses sean mayores de 21 años.
Los requisitos que debe cumplir el ciudadano americano
Ser ciudadano o residente permanente legal.
Tener capacidad de proporcionar la información requerida.
Probar que es capaz de apoyarte en un 125% por encima de la línea de pobreza al llenar los datos de la Declaración Jurada de Apoyo.
Tanto los ciudadanos americanos como los residentes permanentes pueden patrocinar la migración de un familiar que vive en el extranjero pero existen diferencias en el tipo de familiar que podrán patrocinar.
¿Cómo ocurre el proceso de migración patrocinada por un familiar?
Es un proceso de varios pasos que involucra tanto al ciudadano americano como a su familiar que vive en el extranjero. Comienza cuando el ciudadano americano hace una Petición para un Familiar Extranjero al Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos. Luego éste aprueba la petición y la envía al Centro Nacional de Visas quien a su vez notifica al familiar extranjero cuando el número de visa de inmigrante esté disponible. El familiar extranjero asegura su número de visa al ajustar su estatus si reside en los Estados Unidos o al completar el proceso en el consulado de Estados Unidos si vive fuera del país.
Preparando la petición
El familiar que reside en los Estados Unidos (solicitante) comenzará el proceso al enviar la solicitud al USCIS. El solicitante envía la Petición para un Familiar Extranjero a la oficina del USCIS designada para la ubicación geográfica del familiar extranjero. La petición incluirá varios formularios, documentos y materiales de apoyo, que incluyen:
-Formulario I-130, Petición para un Familiar Extranjero
-Formulario G-325A Información Biográfica (esposo y esposa)
-Evidencia de que el solicitante es un ciudadano americano o residente permanente legal.
-Evidencia de la relación familiar existente entre el solicitante estadounidense y el beneficiario.
Número de visa de inmigrante
Después que el USCIS haya aprobado la petición inicial ésta se enviará al Centro Nacional de Visas hasta que el número de la visa de inmigrante esté listo. Esto aplica para beneficiarios tanto en los Estados Unidos como fuera del país. Para saber cuándo está disponible tu número de visa de inmigrante sólo tienes que chequear tu estatus en el Boletín de Visas del Departamento de Estado.
Si ya estás en Estados Unidos cuando tu número de visa esté disponible, solo tendrás que solicitar el ajuste de tu estatus a Residente Permanente Legal mediante el formulario de Solicitud para el Registro de Residencia Permanente o Ajuste de Estatus.
Si estás fuera de Estados unidos cuando tu número de visa de inmigrante esté disponible debes completar el proceso y obtener un número de visa en el consulado de Estados Unidos en tu país. El Centro Nacional de Visas te dará la información que requieras para completar el proceso. Se te pedirá que completes un paquete de información que incluye el formulario I-864 Declaración Jurada de Apoyo así como documentos de apoyo y pagos adicionales. Debes realizar un examen médico y una entrevista.
Consejos finales para agilizar los trámites:
-Incluye una carta adjunta con la Petición I-130 detallando lo que has incluido en el paquete.
-Haz dos copias de cada documento que tengas que presentar.
-Cuando se aprueba una visa de inmigrante ésta es válida por 6 meses, así que debes entrar al territorio de Estados Unidos antes de que venza este período de tiempo, de lo contrario todo el proceso caducará.
Siguiendo estos consejos podrás asegurarte de que tu proceso sea más fácil. No dudes en consultarnos si tienes cualquier duda al respecto.
Fri, Feb 13 2:59 PM by Romona Paden
As of Feb. 18, 2015, individuals filing for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will need to file the new and updated form I-821D. Any individual who is currently living in the U.S. and either needs to apply for initial DACA status or renew an existing DACA status will need to familiarize themselves with this form and its filing process. Form I-821D will include several filing changes from the old DACA request process, but these shouldn't present an issue if you familiarize yourself with several basic eligibility principles and requirements. Take a look at these key points to begin your filing of I-821D on the right foot.
Use of Form I-821D
According to the form itself, I-821D should be used by any non-citizens who are looking to gain amnesty from deportation through with initial DACA status or renewed DACA status. In order to be considered for approval, these individuals must meet the requirements for 'childhood arrival' designation. For first time applicants, this includes that the individual arrived in the U.S. before turning 16, has resided in the country continuously since the beginning of 2010 and was living in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, with no lawful immigration status.
Guiding use of form I-821DFurthermore, first-time applicants must also have met certain education or work requirements and have a clean criminal record. Applicants for renewal of DACA status must have been living in the U.S. since initially receiving said status. These requirements are outlined further on the form.
Though this may seem like a great deal of information to take in at once, there are a number of resources at your disposal to aid you in applying for DACA status. For example, if you're confused about whether or not you are eligible to apply or which childhood arrival status you should be applying for, this quiz can help you determine where you stand and how to get started.
How long is amnesty granted for with DACA?
Gaining amnesty from deportation through recognition of your childhood arrival status means that you are granted two years of residency. Since the program began in 2012, more than half a million individuals have been approved to reside in the U.S. legally.
"Over 500,000 individuals have been approved for DACA"
Once those two years are up, individuals who have met all of their DACA requirements will have the option to apply for renewal of their childhood arrival status.
Fri, Jan 2 5:00 PM by Romona Paden
At the start of 2015, the state of California made a major step forward in the realm of immigration reform – it began allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for state driver's licenses. The state even went as far as to ensure that these immigrants were able to afford car insurance by authorizing them to purchase coverage through the government-established California Low Cost Auto Insurance program.
The California DMV expected a record number of applicants due to this new legislation, and the massive turnout did not disappoint. When California's Department of Motor Vehicles locations reopened on Jan. 2 after the holiday break, applicants were already lined up outside the buildings and eagerly awaiting the chance to obtain a valid driver's license. Those interested in applying were directed to do so at one of four specific locations, one of which was the Granada Hills DMV.
One applicant's story
As the Los Angeles Times reported, South Los Angeles resident Sonia Soriano was the first person in line at the Granada Hills facility, arriving more than 12 hours before it opened, accompanied by her husband and daughter. She emigrated to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, and has been living in California for several years, driving in fear of being pulled over or being part of an accident. Her 12-year-old daughter Kelya stood by her.
Soriano would have to submit fingerprints and pass the written driving test and vision exam before she could schedule a driving test to complete the process and earn her license. Unfortunately, despite studying thoroughly, she did not pass the written portion of the test. As she told the Los Angeles Times, she struggled with the traffic signal questions but plans to study hard over the weekend and return to try again on Monday.
A win for everyone
This new legislation is clearly a major victory for immigration reform activists and supporters, but it will also serve to benefit the entirety of California's population. Not only will it mean that more drivers will be properly insured, but it will also make the roads safer for all, as assemblyman Eduardo Garcia of California's Coachella Valley told the Desert Sun.
"It's exciting, certainly historic and a great thing for California," Garcia said. "Having properly trained, tested, licensed and insured drivers on our roads is not only important, it's a priority."
The California DMV expects that about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants will apply for driver's licenses within the next three years.
Tue, Dec 30 8:02 PM by Romona Paden
There's been much discussion lately on both sides of immigration reform about how well foreign-born individuals can fare in and contribute to the U.S. economy. A story published by the Tri-City Herald tells the case of Richland, Washington, resident Joe Gonzalez, which proves immigrants can do good in America's economic climate.
After Gonzalez's family immigrated to the U.S. from the village of Allende, located in Coahuila, Mexico. His father had a green card; however, he, his mother and his siblings did not. With little money and unable to speak English, the family worked as crop pickers, moving from Arizona to Idaho to Washington, for work.
But things started looking up for him once his family settled in the small Washington town of Mabton. Gonzalez graduated from high school and went to join the Air Force Academy, an unsuccessful endeavor that ended with him dropping out and returning to his hometown, where he married Delia, his wife of our decades.
Despite the disappointment that came with dropping out, Gonzalez went on to start his own business – American Electric. It started nearly two decades ago as a tiny operation with only three workers, and it has since grown to employ nearly 100 people. But the road to owning his own business was not an easy one. He trained to become an electrician, working as an apprentice and then a journeyman for more than a decade before becoming part owner of JRT Electric in 1995.
From that point on, Gonzalez knew what he wanted to do for a living and wanted to become a valuable part of his community. As Gonzalez explained to the Tri-City Herald, he was inspired by his love for the U.S. and the opportunities it opened up to him, and he wanted to name his company Patriot Electric for this reason (though it was already taken).
"Only in America would somebody get a chance to do what I've done," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez certainly does not take the opportunities he has been afforded for granted, and he gives back to the Lower Valley and Tri-City community by, among other ways, providing needy families with warm meals during the holidays.
Tue, Dec 30 7:34 PM by Romona Paden
When someone is at risk of deportation, it can cause huge anxiety and worry, which is why Obama's immigration reform action has allowed undocumented immigrants across the country to let out a big sigh of relief. However, those who have committed crimes are not eligible to apply for temporary protection from deportation. Such is the case with 103.7 The Fox radio personality James Shaman.
Shaman, who is an emcee at the Mason City, Iowa, radio station, has been an active voice when it comes to immigration reform. This may be due in part to the fact that he is facing deportation himself. The Canadian-born Iowan earned a criminal record when he was a young man. He has been protected from deportation by his permanent resident visa; however, when that expired three years ago, his green card was rescinded due to his criminal history. He has been on parole status ever since, continuously in fear of breaking even a minor law and being deported under the new laws.
"There's a whole lot more to immigration, and I'm not the only one that's dealing with this," Shaman said during his radio show on Dec. 29. "I don't even think I'm the only person in north Iowa dealing with this, there may be others. I consider myself rather fortunate that I have the means to speak aloud with my microphone and my radio station and let people hear about this."
While Shaman went on to express that he felt relieved to be able to have his story heard by others, the radio personality has a lot ahead of him. He's expected to appear at a hearing in Bloomington, Iowa, with federal immigration officials to find out if he will be sent back to his native country. If so, Shaman will leave his Mason City community, where he lives to be close to his daughter.
Despite the fact that he's facing possible deportation, Shaman knows he's lucky to be on parole, compared to the many who have been imprisoned while awaiting their hearings and trials.
"I consider myself rather fortunate because there are people who have been incarcerated for extended periods of time awaiting their trials," he said. "All this just because the immigration courts are so backlogged and that's why it's taking so long to get this issue resolved. I mean 3.5 years."
Tue, Dec 30 2:21 PM by Romona Paden
With immigration reform in the spotlight lately, there has been much debate across the nation about how immigrants affect the economy. Some may claim that such foreign-born residents drain funds; however, a study conducted in Minnesota shows that immigrants are actually making significant contributions to the state's economy.
The Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, in collaboration with the Americas Society Council of the Americas, and the Partnership for a New American Economy, published a report revealing that immigrants have had a positive effect on the state economy. It found that immigrant purchasing power reached around $7.7 billion, and this population group contributed more than $22 billion to Minnesota's gross domestic product. Another $1 billion went to local and state taxes – money that is distributed for the benefit of all citizens.
Some people may argue that immigration reform initiatives allow more foreign-born individuals to take jobs away from non-immigrants. However, as Sarah Radosevich, policy research analyst with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and member of the coalition, told ABC-affiliated KSTP, that isn't a real issue.
"You know, on a case by case basis, that might be happening at the very micro level, but what the evidence shows, and this has been widely studied across the U.S., is that over time having immigrants here leads to more job opportunities for everyone," Radosevich said.
As she goes on to explain, many of the new jobs created by immigrant business owners are available right in the Twin Cities area. For example, entrepreneur and immigrant Abdirahman Kahin, who owns Minneapolis restaurant Afro Deli & Coffee, sees up to 600 customers each day, and the business has shown such success that he plans to open a second location, which will provide even more open jobs for locals.
Fri, Dec 26 1:40 PM by Romona Paden
Many people confuse permanent residency with U.S. citizenship, but these are two very different statuses that come with separate benefits. One may become a citizen by being born in America or having parents who were citizens at the time of birth, whereas a permanent resident holds a visa that allows him or her to live in the country indefinitely despite not being a citizen.
Permanent residents do not have all of the same benefits as those with U.S. citizenship. For example, they can work and live in the country, but people with this visa status may not vote in national elections. Permanent residents may also take advantage of the following benefits:
After obtaining a permanent resident care, you can use it to prove eligibility for a state-issued drivers license. You must bring the original copy of the permanent residency card in addition to any other documentation required by your state's department of motor vehicles, such as proof of address and birth certificate. You may also be required to pass a written test and prove your ability to drive through a behind-the-wheel assessment. Contact your local DMV for exact details about the drivers license application process.
Social security card
Immigrants can apply for social security cards when they apply for permanent residency through the U.S. Department of State. This involves filling out form "DS 230, "Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration" or the electronic version, "Immigrant Visa Electronic Application." Those who complete this process will receive a card with a valid social security number upon arrival in the U.S.
If you did not apply for a social security card as part of your visa application or failed to receive one upon arrival in the country, you must visit your local social security office to obtain one. You will need to bring the following documentation with you:
- Passport or permanent residency card
- Birth certificate
During your visit, a representative from the social security office will help you fill out the application. You will then receive your social security card within two weeks of processing.
Some forms of public aid
Even though you do not have U.S. citizenship, this type of visa status will allow you to take part in certain public aid programs as long as you meet each one's specific eligibility requirements. These may include:
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Medicaid and Medicare
- Children's Health Insurance Program
Fri, Dec 19 11:32 AM by Romona Paden
On Dec. 1, just days after President Obama made his historic immigration reform announcement that protects about 5 million from deportation, thousands of undocumented immigrants in the state of Connecticut made appointments with the Department of Motor Vehicles. That's because the New England state began the first phase of its "Drive Only" license program at the beginning of December 2014.
Last year, a law was passed by the Connecticut legislature and signed by the governor that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. The first phase went into effect Dec. 1, allowing those interested to begin scheduling their appointments online to sit for the written driving test. Applicant will be able to take these tests at the start of 2015.
The aim of this change is to ensure that more of the drivers on the road – whether they have American citizenship or not – are properly registered and insured, as DMV spokesman Bill Seymour told CTNewsJunkie.
"It's going to bring more vehicles into compliance that are being driven out there," Seymour. "It has an effect on folks who have an accident or a crash and find that the vehicle involved wasn't insured. It helps keeps everybody safe on the roads."
While the DMV can't accurately predict the number of people who will be eligible to apply for the "Drive Only" program, the interest has proven to be immense. Nearly 5,400 people scheduled appointments, and a total of 33,000 visitors made their way to the program's webpage on the DMV site.
"That's huge," Seymour said. "We never get anything near that on any given day for anything. That tells us there's a lot of people looking at this information."
To accommodate the massive number of applicants, the DMV has hired additional staff and limited the number of driving tests to 700 each week – efforts to reduce wait times once an applicant begins the testing process. The DMV has also provided extra training to employees and reinforced its computer system to handle the onslaught of applications.
Connecticut is not the only state to implement this type of program. In January 2015, along with California, the Constitution State will join eight others that have programs similar to "Drive Only."
Those who pass the written test and receive a learners permit can take the driving test three months after gaining supervised practice behind the wheel in addition to completing eight hours of driving classes.
Tue, Nov 18 4:41 PM by Romona Paden
The Artesia, New Mexico, immigrant detainee facility has been the subject of great controversy since it opened in summer 2014. Here, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained hundreds of children and women prior to deportation, bringing to light the flawed U.S. immigration system and spurring protests from immigration reform activists across the country. Now, ICE has announced its plans to close the temporary shelter.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the agency confirmed on Nov. 18 that the family detention center in Artesia will close by the end of December. This center housed 231 children and 188 adults in addition to the U.S. Border Patrol trainees living in the dormitories of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Campus. Most of the detainees came from the Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in an attempt to escape gang violence and poverty. As acting ICE director Thomas Winkowski explained in a statement, the closing comes after a drop in the number of immigrants crossing the southwest border.
"ICE opened the temporary facility in Artesia in June as a critical piece of the government's response to the unprecedented influx of adults with children at the southwest border," Winkowski said. "Since then, the numbers of illegal migrants crossing into south Texas has gone down considerably."
What will happen to the detainees?
Any detainees still remaining in the facility – those who have not been deported yet – will be moved to two other family immigration detention centers located in Texas. One of these facilities will be a new detention center planned for the small city of Dilley, just outside of San Antonio. As Winkowski said during his statement, this center will be less isolated than the Artesia location, allowing detainees easier access to immigration attorneys who can help them obtain U.S. citizenship.
"With the opening of the Dilley facility, ICE will have the initial capacity to house up to 480 residents, but the ultimate capacity to house up to 2,400 individuals," Winkowski stated. "These facilities help ensure timely and effective removals that comply with our legal and international obligations, while deterring others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States."
With this new detention center, ICE hopes to be better prepared for seasonal escalations in the number of immigrants who cross the border.
Mon, Oct 6 2:28 PM by Romona Paden
With recent court rulings come initiatives on the part of cities and counties across the nation to limit detention requests for those without American citizenship from the federal government.
In spring 2014, court rulings determined that immigration holds called by the federal government were not mandatory, spurring many localities to stop following such detention requests. With these holds, inmates who were booked on criminal charges and thought to be living in the country illegally can be held for an additional 48 hours under entreaty by the federal government.
According to The New York Times, the City Council of New York City made a proposal in the aftermath of this ruling. It stated that the Correction Department would not honor requests by immigration authorities unless there was also a warrant issues by a federal judge. The proposal also added that an immigrant without American citizenship could only be held if the criminal was convicted of a "violent or serious crime," whether or not a warrant was issued. Correction Department officers are barred from helping in the holding of immigrants unless the detention requests are valid and approved.
Other localities hopping on board
With New York City taking a stand and laying a precedent for the rights of immigrants, other communities are joining in. As the Los Angeles Times reported, jails across the country are now also refusing to keep inmates the extra days that allow the federal government the time they need to deport them.
In actual fact, some localities began putting limitations on immigration holds years ago, but the new ruling has spurred a nationwide trend of completely ignoring the federal detention requests that have led to thousands of people being deported from the U.S. in the past several years. According to the LA Times, about 250 law enforcement agencies now adopt policies that regulate – and largely ignore – federal detention requests.
Fri, Oct 3 1:30 PM by Romona Paden
A proposal in New York City would no longer honor detention requests issued by immigration authorities without a warrant from a federal judge. According to the New York Times, the proposal was announced by the City Council.
The proposal also adds that an immigrant may only be held if the individual has been convicted of a "violence or serious crime," even if a warrant has been issued. Officers from the Correction Department will not be allowed to aid in the enforcement of civil immigration laws unless it is to honor a valid detainer request, the source reported.
In addition, there would no longer be immigration officials stationed at Rikers Island, a jail complex that has long been an office location for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"By further limiting ICE's role in the detention and deportation of immigrant New Yorkers, we set the national standard for the treatment of our immigrant population," Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement. "Families will no longer be needlessly torn apart by ICE's dragnet enforcement efforts."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he supports the legislation. He added that it will affirm New York's status as "a city of immigrants, where dignity and an individual's right to due process will be protected," the source reported.
Before introduction of the new legislation, New York City was already distancing its cooperation from federal immigration laws. According to the source, the city only honors detention requests without a warrant from a judge if an individual is accused of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
For several years, federal officials have requested local and state law enforcement agencies to hold immigrant detainees for as many as 48 hours after they are due to be released from jail. The source reported that many of those who continue to be held at the request of immigration officials are then transported to federal custody and end up going in front of a judge of deportation proceedings.
Mark-Viverito's office said that federal detainer requests are voluntary and municipalities are not required to honor them. Other states including Rhode Island and Pennsylvania changed their laws to state that immigrant detainers should not be kept in jail without a legitimate reason.
Thu, Oct 2 11:44 PM by Romona Paden
President Barack Obama promised action on immigration reform during a speech on Oct. 2. According to Reuters, the president vowed he will take executive action at the end of 2014 that will reduce the number of deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Many Hispanic voters were upset with President Obama when he said that he will delay taking executive action on immigration reform until after November midterm elections. Some of those in the Hispanic community said they felt as though they weren't as important as getting votes.
Hispanic voters played a major role in helping President Obama win the White House in 2008 and 2012, and in order to maintain his legacy as a president of action, he said that he will do what he can to gain support from the U.S. public on immigration reform. The source stated that keeping Latinos on the side of Democrats is also essential for helping the party retain control of the White House in 2016.
The president spoke at an annual gala that is hosted by Hispanic lawmakers. According to the source, that is where he talked about frustration regarding immigration reform in the U.S. and said that Hispanic support is necessary in order to help reform last after his presidency ends.
"I know there's deep frustration in many communities around the country right now, and I understand that frustration because I share it," President Obama said in his speech at the gala. "But if anybody wants to know where my heart is or whether I want to have this fight, let me put those questions to rest right now: I am not going to give up this fight until it gets done."
In 2013, the Senate introduced a bipartisan immigration reform bill that was blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives. Following the shoot down of the legislation, the president promised to ease the deportations of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living in the U.S.
Initially, the president said that he would take action by the end of the summer. However, when summer ended he instead announced that he was going to delay executive action because he didn't want to hurt Democrats in upcoming elections.
The source reported that much of the crowd at the gala embraced the president's stance on the issue and Representative Luis Guiterrez, D-IL, said that he hoped the president's remarks would be a positive sign of things to come.
Thu, Oct 2 12:57 AM by Romona Paden
Immigration advocates across the country are in search of lawyers who can provide assistance to children going in front of immigration judges. With more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors currently living in the U.S., many of whom ran away from their home countries to get away from violence, the federal government is stepping in to help pay for their legal representation.
According to USA Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Sept. 30 that it will spend $9 million in the next two years to help pay legal fees for 2,600 unaccompanied minors. The money from the government agency will be given to support programs that provide legal services to children who are apprehended at the U.S. border and want to apply for asylum so they aren't deported back to their home countries.
There were nine cities chosen for the program that will receive money from the Department of Health and Human Services. They include:
- Los Angeles
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Houston, Texas
- Arlington, Virginia
- Memphis, Tennessee
- New Orleans
Immigration advocates said the money was welcomed and will help support children who ran away to the U.S. in order to get away from gang violence in their home countries, the source stated. Most of the unaccompanied minors who have come to the U.S. are from Central American countries including El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
"What they tell us is, 'I can't go to school any more because of the gang violence. They threatened me because I didn't want to join the gang,'" Gladis Molina, manager of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, told USA Today.
Immigrants are not typically given public funds for legal representation. However, children are not able to represent themselves in immigration court, so the government agency is making an exception. Many of the children who go in front of immigration judges say they are fearful for their lives, and news reports that some children are being killed after being sent back home are giving the children's fears credibility.
Thu, Oct 2 12:28 AM by Romona Paden
A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that Democrats and Republicans are upset over how the issue of immigration is being handled by politicians. According to the Pew Research Center, 37 percent of Republicans think the party is doing a good job when it comes to representing their views on undocumented immigrants. The poll found that 56 percent of Republicans do not think the party is doing well with representing the party's views.
Furthermore, 33 percent of the Republicans who responded to the survey said they think the lawmakers that represent their party are too willing to allow undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship and continue living in the U.S. It was older Republicans who were the most critical of how the party is handling immigration.
When it came to Democrats, 47 percent said they thought the party was doing a good job of representing their views on immigration and undocumented immigrants, while 44 percent said the Democratic party was not doing a good job.
According to the poll, 21 percent of Democrats said the party is too willing to give legal status to undocumented immigrants while 20 percent said lawmakers from their party are not willing enough.
More than half of Hispanic Democrats said they did not think the political party was doing a good job of representing its views on undocumented immigrants and how to handle the situation.
There were 2,002 adults survey for the Pew Research Center's poll between Sept. 2 and 9. When the poll was taken, the Democrats and Republicans who participated already knew that there would be no action taken by Congress regarding immigration. They were also aware of the surge in the number of unaccompanied minors who fled to the U.S.-Mexico border from countries in Central America including El Salvador and Guatemala.
Tue, Sep 30 11:55 AM by Romona Paden
After thousands of immigrant families were caught trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security said many of them failed to report to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement like they were told to do. According to the Associated Press, these undocumented immigrants were told to report to federal immigration agents within 15 days of being apprehended. Instead, officials said about 70 percent of those families have failed to do so.
The information was revealed during a confidential meeting at the Department of Homeland Security's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The source said immigration advocates attended the meeting as they were there to work on detention and enforcement policies.
The source said the total number of families who have been permitted to enter the U.S. after being apprehended at the U.S. border since October 2013 was not released. However, it is estimated that as many as 41,000 undocumented immigrants are living in the U.S. and have failed to appear at federal immigration offices.
A few hundred families have been deported and returned to their home countries, and approximately 1,200 family members have been sent to U.S. detention facilities. The source also reported that at least 860 people have been given a final deportation order, but only 14 of them have reported thus far.
Data from the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review found that approximately 25 percent of immigrants who are at risk of being deported don't show up for their court hearings. A spokeswoman from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said these numbers are an "approximate snapshot," and there is a large number of deportation cases that are still pending and others individuals who may still show up to their court hearings.
According to the source, immigration advocates argue that detention centers are punishing undocumented immigrants who may eventually win their asylum claims and be granted permission to remain in the U.S. Officials from ICE said it is important to encourage undocumented immigrants to report to federal agents so the government can possibly help them remain in the U.S.
Mon, Sep 29 12:06 PM by Romona Paden
House Speaker John Boehner said he believes he can convince the Republican Party to pass an immigration overhaul bill in 2015. However, according to Roll Call, he did not make clear exactly when he plans to schedule a vote because he first wants the country to establish stricter border security.
Boehner said one of the reasons an immigration bill was unlikely to pass earlier in 2014 was due to the influx of unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in the last 12 months.
"We had a flood of children coming across the border once again proving that no good immigration bill can pass until we have real border security," Boehner said on ABC News' "This Week." "Big things in Washington take bipartisan majorities. The issue of immigration, only way to do it, and frankly the right way to do it, is to do it in a broad bipartisan way."
As many as 60,000 children from countries in Central America have fled to the U.S. in hopes of being granted asylum. After being apprehended at the border, many of the children are sent to relatives who live in cities across the country. From there the unaccompanied minors are given court hearings in front of immigration judges who determine if the children will be deported or granted permission to stay in the U.S.
Despite his previous confidence in Congress' ability to pass immigration legislation to repair the broken system in the U.S. in the last two years, Boehner has only brought a couple of votes to the floor of the House of Representatives. Roll Call said Congress voted to roll back executive actions taken by President Barack Obama to provide some undocumented immigrants relief from deportations.
During his interview on "This Week," Boehner added that he doesn't think President Obama should use executive action on immigration reform. Currently, the president plans to issue an executive action that could grant citizenship to thousands of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. It is expected to go into effect by the end of 2014 if Congress has not addressed the topic.
Mon, Sep 29 1:49 AM by Romona Paden
After approximately 60,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border after fleeing their home countries in Central America, many of them are due to appear in front of immigration judges to determine whether they can remain in the U.S. Although the children are granted the right to an attorney before going to court, there is such a high demand for attorneys that many cities are in a rush to train volunteer lawyers to help the children.
According to the Associated Press, there has been a significant surge in the need for attorneys, especially since several immigration courts have decided to fast-track many hearings. While it normally takes months for a child to go in front of a judge for an initial hearing, it now only takes a few weeks.
Children are not guaranteed a lawyer at the expense of the U.S. government, but having an attorney with them can help them remain in the country. The source stated that only 10 percent of children who didn't have representation with them in court were granted permission to stay in the U.S.
"We're doing pretty well on finding willing lawyers," Reid Trautz, director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's practice and professionalism center told the AP. "We've got to get them trained, we've got to get them matched to that child. It just takes time."
San Francisco and New York City are each providing $2 million in funds to find more lawyers to help children going in front of immigration judges, while the state of California is allocating $3 million to find attorneys for unaccompanied minors, the source reported. Thus far, approximately 800 immigration lawyers have volunteered.
Many of the children left their home countries to get away from violence, and one of the challenges that many volunteer lawyers are running into is getting the children to open up about their lives at home, according to the source.
Fri, Sep 26 4:53 PM by Romona Paden
Undocumented immigrant Francisco Aguirre is gaining the support of the Portland community after spending nearly a week in church. According to CBS News, the immigrant activist, who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, has been staying at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, and has promised to stay there until his immigration case is solved. He's currently at risk of being deported back to El Salvador because of an old drug conviction and a previous deportation.
Aguirre, the coordinator of a nonprofit in Portland that runs a day labor center, is also a father to two children who are U.S. citizens. He's disputing the drug charges against him and said that he was innocent, the source reported.
Aguirre is staying at Augustana Lutheran Church because federal officials don't typically venture into sensitive locations such as churches to arrest people. As a result, CBS said that churches across the country have opened their doors to undocumented immigrants who are at risk of being deported. It's becoming more common for undocumented immigrants to use churches as a place to go as Congress continually fails to address immigration reform.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales supports Aguirre, as do many churches and other local leaders in the area. According to the source, churches and local leaders cite his 10 years as an organizer for immigrant and labor rights and status as a family man as reasons that he should be permitted to stay in the U.S.
"Francisco Aguirre has been a community leader in Portland and an important voice on issues of equity and immigrant rights … I believe Francisco should remain in the United States, and in Portland, until his case can reach a humane conclusion," Hales said in a statement.
Aguirre was arrested for small-time drug dealing in Portland in December 1998, when he was just 19 years old. According to CBS, Aguirre argues the evidence used against him was fabricated and untrue. He claimed that what really happened during the incident was that he gave two homeless men a place to sleep. Those men also happened to have drugs. He also said that his lawyer gave him bad advice and he was unable to defend himself due to the language barrier because he wasn't able to speak English.
Aguirre's lawyer is currently attempting to get him a U-visa, a special document for violent-crime victims who help police investigate and prosecute cases.
Thu, Sep 18 4:40 PM by Romona Paden
Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City are banding together in an attempt to get legal immigrants U.S. citizenship. According to the Chicago Tribune, the initiative is called Cities for Citizenship and will allow the cities to expand their naturalization programs and give U.S. citizenship through a $1.1 million contribution from Citigroup.
The Center for Popular Democracy and the National Partnership for New Americans will coordinate the joint effort. The source stated that the goal of the initiative is to encourage cities across the U.S. to invest more in helping immigrants become U.S. citizens.
Cities for Citizenship was announced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. The trio said that through naturalization, new citizens will have access to better jobs and academic scholarships. In addition to the benefits seen by the immigrants themselves, the cities will also see an economic boost.
According to The Wall Street Journal, giving U.S. citizenship to immigrants could add between $1.8 billion and $4.1 billion to New York City's economy, between $1 billion and $1.6 billion to Chicago's, and between $1.6 billion and $2.8 billion to Los Angeles'.
"Citizenship is a powerful poverty-fighting tool because it brings huge economic benefits to families and to communities," de Blasio said in a joint press release issued by the three mayors. "More than that, it helps keep families together."
Emanuel said his goal is to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the U.S. In the Windy City, nearly half of all new businesses are started by immigrants, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Garcetti added that immigrants play a major role in the nation's economy and said it was time to encourage their integration into U.S. culture without letting political issues get in the way.
Wed, Sep 17 5:08 PM by Romona Paden
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal announced that the city will offer support to unaccompanied minors who are currently undergoing deportation proceedings. According to a statement released by the City of New York, there are representatives available at the federal immigration court to address the needs of children who require assistance, especially those who have recently arrived in the city. New York is one of the busiest cities in the country when it comes to immigration hearings. It's where many unaccompanied children who are apprehended by border patrol officers are sent because they have family living there.
There are representatives from the Department of Education available to help the children and their guardians enroll the minors in school and provide information about programs available for English Language Learners, the statement said. The city is also placing representatives from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene outside of the federal immigration court so the minors can enroll in Child Health Plus, a state-funded public health insurance program. The health representatives will also help the children find other programs that they may be eligible for. The Health and Hospital Corporation will also be there to treat children who have been referred for medical and mental health needs.
"Connecting these vulnerable children to educational, health and social services is vital to helping our families and communities gain stability," Mayor de Blasio said. "These children have come here because they have families or sponsors in New York City, and it is our responsibility to assist them. States and municipalities must do all they can to help their immigrant communities – and we hope New York City's response helps model a more humanitarian approach at these dockets to provide these children with stability and safety."
All children in New York City have access to the following government services regardless of their immigration status:
- School enrollment
- After-school programs
- Public health insurance through Children's Medicaid or Child Health Plus, unless household income exceeds certain limits
- Free or low-cost primary and specialist health care services through the City's HHC Options program, unless household income exceeds certain limits
- Child and family welfare services through NYC Administration for Children's Services
- Homelessness prevention services through NYC Department of Homeless Services
- Literacy programs through NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
Fri, Sep 12 12:46 PM by Romona Paden
Days after President Barack Obama announced that he will wait until after November's congressional elections to act on immigration reform, chief of staff Denis McDonough spoke with Latino lawmakers in a private meeting. According to Politico, McDonough promised that the president will issue an order of executive action on immigration reform before the end of the year.
The meeting was likely scheduled when Latino lawmakers expressed their disappointment over the president neglecting to take action before midterm elections. President Obama was originally expected to make an announcement on his plans for executive action at the end of the summer, but instead announced that he will wait.
The president reportedly decided against taking executive action before the elections to help Democrats who are running win so the party can retain control of the U.S. Senate.
According to Politico, Latino lawmakers felt the timeline they were given by McDonough wasn't too different from the pledge that President Obama made when he announced his decision to delay executive action. However, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they felt better about the future of immigration reform after the meeting with McDonough.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said that lawmakers were able to express their frustrations with the issue during the meeting.
"As I told the chief, I said I for one need constant reassurance," Grijalva told Politico. "I don't want to go down this path come November and then, for some other reason, find that the immigrant community and the Latino community get thrown in the heap again."
Politico reported that the specifics of President Obama's plan were not discussed in the meeting, although McDonough did promise that the president will go as far as his authority will allow him to repair the nation's broken immigration system. The president will also reportedly take action regardless of the results of the upcoming election.
"The president understands the depth of the broken immigration system that we have and he's bound and determined to make sure that we fix it because it's impacting our economy, it's impacting our job growth, and it's a humanitarian issue that's impacting families across the country," McDonough said in a statement to reporters.
Wed, Sep 3 2:38 PM by Romona Paden
As members of Congress returned to Washington, D.C., after a month-long break to visit to their districts, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said immigration reform may be at the top of the chamber's agenda in early 2015. According to The Hill, Speaker Boehner said discussing immigration in Congress will depend on whether President Barack Obama uses executive action to address the issue.
Speaker Boehner said if the president wants to start the process of making the U.S. border more secure, then Congress will be more inclined to take up immigration reform in a responsible manner. The speaker previously stated that he would not tackle immigration reform in 2014 due to the surge of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border since October 2013, The Hill reported.
In addition to the number of children crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, Republicans also said President Obama's threats to use executive action on immigration reform are another reason why Congress won't take up the issue. According to the source, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pointed out several instances in recent years when Speaker Boehner broke promises regarding immigration.
In the meantime, President Obama and his administration are determining the next steps for addressing immigration and the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. According to the source, a resolution regarding executive action was due to be released at the end of summer, but the White House issued a statement on Sept. 2 indicating that the president's resolution would likely not come by then.
Some Republicans who are against immigration reform warned that they would prevent any upcoming budget discussions if President Obama chooses to act on his own, The Hill reported. However, Speaker Boehner said the government needs to be funded from the end of September through the beginning of December and he expects a continuing resolution to be passed.
Thu, Aug 28 4:05 PM by Romona Paden
Some Republicans in Congress have warned the White House that they will work to shut down the government if President Barack Obama chooses to use executive action to address the country's immigration crisis. According to The Hill, the White House issued a statement that threats of a shutdown won't stop the president and his administration from coming up with a solution for immigration reform.
"The president is determined to act where House Republicans won't, and there is strong support for that all across the country," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told the Des Moines Register that Republicans would not hold back against the president if he chooses to given millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. amnesty and a pathway to citizenship.
"If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear," King told the source. "I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."
Sen. Marco Rubio,R-Fla., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,R-Ky., reportedly said that Republicans in Congress would consider stopping upcoming budget discussions if President Obama uses executive action on immigration.
Earnest also addressed last year's incident when Republicans voted to shut down the government over the economy, according to The Hill.
The statements by Republicans came after news broke that the White House was considering increasing the number of green cards available for high- and low-skilled immigrants who come to the U.S. to work. The Hill reported that a proposal currently being considered by President Obama would double the number of available green cards to nearly 800,000.
The President is scheduled to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to discuss available options, including executive action.
Wed, Aug 27 1:05 PM by Romona Paden
Following a vacation in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, President Barack Obama returned to Washington, D.C. Now that he's back in the nation's capital, immigration advocates from around the country are calling for him to issue executive action to address the country's immigration crisis.
President Obama announced in June that he planned to take action on the matter before the end of summer, and now that the season is almost over, supporters of immigration reform want him to make a move.
According to The Hill, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement on Aug. 22 that he did not know if the president had discussed the issue with his cabinet members.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., told the source that he believes there will likely be additional discussion [of what?] among members of Congress, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He added that nothing of the sort was scheduled before Congress left for its August break.
"I think the president's going to take action on all those levels," Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., told The Hill. "He's going to take broad, expansive action that the law allows him to take."
Depending on the decision of President Obama, as many as 4 or 5 million immigrants could be affected, the source reported. Gutiérrez said he thinks President Obama may expand the 2012 deferred deportation program and also let up on immigration restrictions that are hurting those who work for farmers and other businesses.
Technology companies are encouraging President Obama to increase the number of visas available so they can continue to recruit highly skilled immigrants from overseas. Members of the Obama administration recently met with business leaders to discuss this topic, although a final resolution has not been announced.
President Obama will be back in Washington, D.C., for one week. According to The Hill, he will visit Estonia and Wales in early September to meet with allies to discuss the conflict with Russia. The White House did not say if the president would make an announcement about immigration reform before he left.
Mon, Aug 25 12:18 AM by Romona Paden
Thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented minors are starting the school year across the U.S. after the Department of Education recently released a fact sheet stating that the children are entitled to an education regardless of their citizenship status. According to the Associated Press, children who are detained at the U.S. border with Mexico are almost never immediately returned to their home countries, allowing them to remain in the U.S., where they can receive an education.
As many as 90,000 children who arrive at the U.S. border from Central American countries will be caught by Border Patrol agents and then sent to detention centers where they will either be released to their families who live in the U.S. or receive an immigration hearing. The AP reported that in 2013, fewer than 2,000 children were sent back to their home countries. So far in 2014, more than 58,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"They almost never go home," Gary Mead, former director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office that was responsible for finding undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. "It's not a process that ultimately ends in easy resolutions or clear-cut resolutions."
There are as many as 30,000 pending child immigrant cases in court systems across the U.S., according to the AP. However, the children who are in this country need an education, as these cases can take years before a final decision is made.
As the children wait, they're often enrolled in nearby schools so they can learn English and basic education skills such as math, geography and history. Fox News Latino reported that hundreds of children who arrived in North Carolina after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Central American countries recently started school. The children go into the classrooms with the feeling of starting a new life and are often happy to have the opportunity to do so.
Thu, Aug 21 11:51 AM by Romona Paden
Officials on the Boston City Council have approved the Trust Act, which will limit police from being able to hold suspected undocumented immigrants without a criminal warrant. According to the Boston Herald, the Trust Act is just one of many ordinances that are being implemented nationwide in order to increase protection for immigrants.
"Mayor Walsh supports the Trust Act to uphold the rights of immigrants and to maintain public safety, family unity and due process in our city," Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Walsh told the Herald. "With the signage of a local Trust Act, we send a clear message to the immigrant community that they have a friend and an ally in Mayor Walsh, (Police) Commissioner (William B.) Evans and the city of Boston."
Norton added that the improved relationship between police and immigrants will hopefully lead to an increase in the reporting of crimes. Previously, it was believed that immigrants were too afraid to report crimes out of fear that they too would be deported.
The reason for the increase in such ordinances may be due to recent lawsuits in many places across the U.S. showing that cities, counties and states may be liable for violating immigrants' constitutional rights when they are arrested without probable cause, the Herald reported.
According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Trust Act highlights a shift in the 2006 Secure Communities program. The goal of Secure Communities is to find undocumented immigrants who are guilty of crimes and deport them back to their home countries.
A total of 170 cities have adopted measures to prevent police from holding immigrants suspected of being in the U.S. without undergoing the proper process of being recognized by the federal government.
Jails in Iowa recently began denying federal requests to hold suspected undocumented immigrants without a warrant.
Wed, Aug 20 11:16 AM by Romona Paden
As many as 22 jails in Iowa are refusing to hold immigrants in jail without a court order. According to the Associated Press, county jails are not accepting requests from federal immigration authorities who want to bring in detainees for traffic violations or other state and local infractions because they are suspected of being undocumented immigrants.
It's common practice for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to bring detainees to county jails, and in the past, local authorities have mostly complied without being given a court order signed by a judge.
"They have resulted in the illegal imprisonment of countless individuals – including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Latinos in particular – often without any charges pending, sometimes for days or weeks after they should have been released from custody," Erica Johnson, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa's immigrants' rights and racial justice advocate told the AP.
There were nearly 3,000 people held in Iowa jails during 2012 and 2013, researchers at Syracuse University found, and 63 percent of those being held on ICE detention requests had no criminal record.
The AP reported that the ACLU of Iowa recently sent letters to sheriffs in 99 counties to inform them that they are not required to accept suspected undocumented immigrants unless there is a court order from a judge to do so.
After receiving the letters, 22 sheriffs told the organization that they will no longer accept detainees. Among the counties refusing ICE retainers are Linn, Sioux, Story, Pottawattamie and Johnson.
Polk County is also refusing to hold suspected immigrants in jail without warrants. In 2012 and 2013, Polk County held 488 immigration detainees, more than any other in the state.
The Associated Press also reported that Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy told jail officials to no longer honor federal requests as of early June.
Mon, Aug 18 1:07 PM by Romona Paden
Officials from the White House recently began talks with business leaders to discuss the immigration crisis and President Barack Obama's possible use of executive action to address the issue. According to Politico, President Obama was going to use his authority to take executive action on delaying deportations for the country's undocumented immigrants and to make changes to federal enforcement of immigration policies.
Leaders from businesses including Intel, Cisco and Accenture have played a major role in the immigration debate. The technology giants, including those in California's Silicon Valley, have offered the government a range of options for fixing the broken immigration system. Politico reported that this has included recapturing unused green cards and making changes to current work authorization programs.
"The president has not made a decision regarding next steps, but he believes it's important to understand and consider the full range of perspectives on potential solutions," White House Spokesman Shawn Turner told Politico. "The meetings were in keeping with the president's commitment to do whatever he can, within the constraints of the law, to address the immigration issue."
Representatives from other businesses including Oracle, Microsoft as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also attended a meeting on Aug. 1. It was during that meeting that technology leaders raised issues about providing the spouses of immigrants who are in the U.S. on work visas with the ability to work and also on making changes for dual-purpose visa applications, according to the source.
President Obama hasn't verified whether he will use executive action on immigration, mostly because the House of Representatives recently voted to bring a lawsuit against the president for overstepping his authority and using executive action in the past.
There has been no word on if and when President Obama and the White House will take action on immigration as the source suggested that timing for upcoming key Senate races in states such as Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska and Louisiana.
Mon, Aug 18 12:06 PM by Romona Paden
The debate over immigration doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon, and as the gridlock between the two major political parties continues, it's America's agricultural industry that will suffer significantly. There are more than 20,000 farms in the U.S. that employ more than 435,000 immigrants each year.
Thousands of seasonal immigrant laborers are employed in states like California and Florida every year. Places that is dealing with a great deal of fallout from the inaction in Congress are states like South Carolina and Ohio.
"Because we're not a border state, it's definitely harder to get people over this far from the border to work," Chalmers Carr, the owner of the East Coast's largest peach grower, South Carolina's Titan Farms, told McClatchy DC News. "2006, 2007, even 2008, we had a very robust economy and there were not enough farmworkers then."
He added that there simply aren't enough immigrant laborers to help with the orchards, despite South Carolina being a state that saw its Hispanic population rise by almost 150 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Many of the immigrants who have spent the last several decades working in fields across the U.S. are getting older. However, their younger relatives are unable to pick up where they left off because of the political tensions in Washington, D.C., that are making the descendants of these immigrants hesitant of picking up where they left off out of fear of being deported.
Farmers are often attacked by anti-immigration supporters for not hiring Americans, but the farmers argue that Americans aren't willing to do the work that needs to be done in the fields, leaving it up to the nation's immigrants.
"About 5 percent of the agriculture jobs needed, you'll get American workers for … You've got a choice to import your food or you can import your labor to harvest your food," Carr told McClatchy DC News.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Partnership for a New American Economy plans to run an ad encouraging Congress to act on immigration, according to The Des Moines Register.
The ad will run in farm trade publications, at state fairs and be seen at other venues in America's heartland. It depicts a Texas farmer who was forced to destroy some of his crops because he couldn't find the workers he needed to harvest them, the Des Moines Register reported.
Thu, Aug 14 3:03 PM by Romona Paden
As President Barack Obama mulls over the possibility of taking executive action to address the country's immigration crisis, the Economic Policy Institute released information on the myths that have been associated with undocumented immigrants and the U.S. economy. Here are a look at five effects immigrants have on the economy:
- The report by the Economic Policy Institute found that less than half of the country's immigrants are Hispanic or Latino. According to the research, 18 million of the more than 40 million immigrants living in the U.S. are Hispanic. The majority of undocumented immigrants in the country are Hispanic, most of whom came to the U.S. in 2008. The report noted that there are just as many undocumented immigrants from South and East Asia as from Central America, and there were more undocumented immigrants from Canada and Europe who fled to the U.S. than from the Caribbean.
- Immigrants in the U.S. contribute 14.7 percent to the U.S. economy but only make up 13 percent of the population. The Economic Policy Institute reported that immigrants account for 16 percent of the country's labor force, including 18 percent of small business owners.
- There is a stigma that immigrants only have low-wage jobs, however, the Economic Policy Institute found that that statement is false. There are almost as many immigrants working higher paying jobs as any other occupation. What many people don't realize is that 46 percent of immigrants have some sort of college education, again refuting the idea that they are uneducated and are only employed in lower paying jobs. Also, immigrants are part of the lower-, middle- and upper-classes. Undocumented immigrants do not take jobs away from Americans, contrary to the argument presented by those against providing these individuals with a pathway to citizenship. The organization found that although some evidence suggests immigrants may take jobs from Americans in the short run, once the economy adjusts to new immigrants this is no longer the case.
- The Economic Policy Institute's report stated that there are several costly consequences to deporting undocumented immigrants. First, transporting these individuals back to their home countries costs money. Second, while undocumented immigrants sometimes benefit from government programs, they also give back to the economy by spending the money they earn from work and the programs from which they receive assistance.
Thu, Aug 14 2:21 PM by Romona Paden
Undocumented minors in New York City went in front of the most lenient judges in the country on Aug. 13. According to the New York Post, the children stood in front of Judge Frank Loprest, who grants asylum to 88 percent of the cases he hears.
On average, 50 percent of undocumented immigrants are granted asylum during their deportation hearings, and the only other judges in the country allow undocumented immigrants to stay more than Loprest are his colleagues five who also reside in New York City.
The source reported that 80 percent of asylum seekers have been granted their request in New York City since 2009. Meanwhile, only 30 percent of those who requested asylum in Houston. About 40 percent of those seeking asylum in Los Angeles are granted it, the New York Post reported.
"They are very empathic," Noemi Masliah, a New York immigration attorney, told the New York Post when discussing the judges. "They listen carefully to the evidence. It's as if they feel like they are saving a life when they grant cases."
More than 63,000 children have arrived at the U.S. border since October 2013. After Border Patrol agents detain unaccompanied minors at the border they are then released to family members who live in the U.S. Once they're with family, the U.S. gives them a court date near the location they're then living.
New York is often a destination for many of the undocumented minors, who are also more likely to be granted asylum by the city's judges.
The Immigration Task Force was created to stop the expedited hearings and give the children arriving from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador assistance. This task force was created just as the expedited hearings were beginning in New York City.
Through the task force, children and their families will be given free resources designed to increase their chance of being granted asylum, the Latin Post reported.
The goal of the task force is "to ensure that all children are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation regardless of their status," Letitia James, a New York public advocate, told the Latin Post.
Mon, Aug 11 11:14 PM by Romona Paden
President Barack Obama is inching closer to using executive action to deal with the nation's immigration crisis. According to a recent article by NPR, the president has two viable options: deferred action and granting parole to undocumented immigrants.
President Obama took executive action in 2012 when he signed the DREAM Act into law. It deferred deportations for young people who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented children and never became citizens. NPR stated that the reason President Obama deferred deportations for undocumented children two years ago was because of Congress' inability to pass immigration reform or funds to deal with the children who were arriving at the border.
According to NPR, President Obama told the media he is ready to take his own measures to address the immigration crisis.
"I promise you the American people don't want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done," he said at a press conference.
One of President Obama's possible options includes deferring deportations for the millions of undocumented immigrants who have arrived at the U.S. border. There have already been 600,000 people who were able to take advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was enacted in 2013. In order to reach additional undocumented immigrants, President Obama could expand the program, which would help keep families together, according to NPR.
President Obama's second option for acting on the immigration crisis is granting parole to the undocumented immigrants. This is referred to as "parole in place," and doesn't require immigrants to be sent back to their home countries to undergo processing at a U.S. consulate.
This option would be more beneficial to spouses of American citizens who are currently required to leave the U.S. for as long as 10 years before being allowed to re-enter.
There are limits to President Obama's executive authority. NPR stated that he cannot issue green cards and citizenship, but he can provide temporary relief from deportations for those who currently live in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.
Many immigrant activist organizations across the country have started a campaign called #GoBigObama encouraging him to use executive action to address immigration.
Mon, Aug 11 4:09 PM by Romona Paden
Immigrant advocacy groups are encouraging Congress to reject the portion of the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviation National Emergency Act that would fail to given unaccompanied minors immigration hearings. According to the Los Angeles Times, an immigration reform law has yet to be approved by Congress, and both parties have expressed the country's need to address the issue in a humane way.
Those who do not want a change made to the legislation argued that removing the immigration hearings would mean children lose their right to due process. The LA Times said that the children who would be sent back would possibly be returning to dangerous conditions in their home countries.
Former President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2008 in order to fight back against human trafficking. The source said that the law requires unaccompanied minors who are taken into custody at the Mexican and Canadian borders to be given a screening within 48 hours and sent home immediately.
The law is different for children who come from countries that don't border the U.S., which is the case with approximately 57,000 minors who have been apprehended since October 2013 coming from Central American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador.
A bill that was agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans was proposed before Congress left for its fall recess in early August. It would remove the protections given to children who come from countries that don't border the U.S. As a result, the LA Times reported that Border Patrol agents would be given the authority to investigate a child's case and determine if he or she should be given an immigration hearing or ordered to return home.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that she cannot support the legislation because it is more about speeding up the process of addressing the issue rather than taking a stand for those who have fled their home countries, according to the source.
It was recently reported that President Barack Obama may take executive action on the immigration crisis if Congress fails to do so after returning from August recess.
Fri, Aug 8 5:43 PM by Romona Paden
In the midst of the immigration crisis, President Barack Obama has acknowledged his consideration of using executive action that could lead to a delay in deportations for undocumented immigrants. According to MSNBC, there is a political firestorm that could result from such action and dramatically change the landscape of Congress following the midterm elections that will be held in November.
President Obama took executive action on immigration in 2012 when he helped thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, also known as DREAMers, remain in the country without the fear of being deported.
The source reported that if the same measure were to be taken this time around, then upwards of 8 million undocumented immigrants may be granted permission to stay in the country.
President Obama reportedly said that he has no choice in regards to immigration other than to do something himself because of Congress' inability to draft and pass any legislation.
"While they're out on vacation I'm going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress," President Obama said in a statement.
Taking executive action may also lead to consequences for the White House. Republicans in the House of Representatives have already taken the necessary steps to sue President Obama for overstepping his authority and also took away his power in expanding or renewing Deferred Action for Children Arrivals.
Despite saying that the President has gone beyond his limitations as ruler of the free world, House Republicans then said that President Obama should act on his own if he wants something done about immigration.
There have already been 2 million deportations under the Obama Administration, MSNBC reported. While the U.S. only has the resources to deport 400,000 undocumented immigrants each year, the administration has also said that it doesn't want to tear families apart anymore than what's already been done.
Thu, Aug 7 4:56 PM by Romona Paden
A new poll by Reuters found that Americans are concerned that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are posing a threat to the country's beliefs and customs. According to Reuters, 70 percent of Americans have this attitude toward those individuals who arrived in the country without proper documentation.
Reuters reported that 45 percent of those who participate in the poll said that the number of immigrants who are permitted to enter the U.S. should be lowered, while 38 percent said the number should stay the same. Only 17 percent of respondents to the poll said that more legal immigrants should be allowed to enter the U.S.
After Congress failed to come to an agreement about what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, President Barack Obama is considering taking executive action and issuing work permits to 5 million of those individuals while also delaying certain deportations.
Despite Congress not passing any immigration legislation before its August recess, 45 percent of those polled said that they did not believe President Obama should act on his own.
According to Reuters, if President Obama chooses to act on his own regarding immigration then those who lean toward the Republican side of the political spectrum may be more likely to vote in November. Republican lawmakers have accused President Obama of Using excessive executive action, and voted to file a lawsuit against him. The suit stated that he stepped over the line and abused his authority with certain pieces of the Affordable Care Act.
Billy Roy from Manchester, New Hampshire, told Reuters that neither Congress nor President Obama needed to act on immigration.
"It doesn't matter," he told the source. "Enforce the laws that we have here now."
Wed, Aug 6 2:01 AM by Romona Paden
Erika Andiola, an undocumented immigrant and activist, spoke to Republican Rep. Steve King at a fundraiser in Iowa on Aug. 4. According to CNN, Andiola is a part of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and wanted to confront King about his vote against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The DACA program permits delays in deportations for young people who are brought to the U.S. without the proper documentation. President Barack Obama enacted DACA, but Republicans in the House of Representatives argued that because of the legislation, more than 60,000 children this year alone have fled to the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of entering the U.S.
Andiola reportedly offered King her papers for him to tear apart, however, he countered her statement by saying that it's not something he does. CNN reported that King then said he was talking about drug smugglers when he made the comment stating immigrants have "calves the size of cantaloupes."
The woman explained her situation to the congressman by stating she was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by her mother when she was 11 years old. Her mother was attempting to leave an abusive relationship, CNN reported. Andiola has already been in the U.S. for 27 years.
"And so it's OK then to violate the law?" King responded to her statement. "I'm really sorry that you come from a lawless country. I hope that you can have a happy life. But please, do not erode the rule of law in America."
Andiola is raising awareness about undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and has been doing so since she worked for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and received her deportation deferral in 2013.
"We're trying the best way possible to be accepted by this community … to be able to work here, to become Americans," Andiola told CNN. "A lot of us grew up as Americans but we're not accepted as one."
According to The Washington Post, Republican Rep. Rand Paul was also in attendance at the restaurant but got up from his seat and left when Andiola approached him.
Tue, Aug 5 2:08 PM by Romona Paden
President Barack Obama is considering taking executive action in order to deal with the immigration crisis. According to CNN, the possibility of using his authority to bypass Congress and use his own solution on how to deal with the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. is becoming a more likely scenario.
Congress left for its August break without finding a solution to address the hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children who are flocking to the U.S. border from Central American countries as El Salvador.
More than 2 million people have been deported or sent back to their home countries since President Obama took office, but some Republican legislators don't think he's taken enough action to increase border security.
According to CNN, President Obama doesn't want to continue with deportations and hopes to appeal to the Hispanic-American population.
Although the Senate passed legislation in 2013 that included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the bill was rejected by the Republican-led House of Representatives. Had it passed through Congress and been enacted into law, undocumented immigrants would have been required to register with the federal government, apply for legal status, learn English and pay a fee before officially becoming American citizens.
Since Congress has been unable to pass a comprehensive bill that pleases both sides of the political spectrum, President Obama asked the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to help him with the matter, according to CNN.
Republicans remain divided on how to approach the immigration issue in the U.S. as they want to be more appealing to Hispanic voters, but most feel that allowing undocumented immigrants, even those who were brought here as children, should not be permitted to become citizens.
President Obama said that unless something is done by Congress in the next few months then he will have no choice but to do something about immigration on his own, the source reported.
Mon, Aug 4 4:10 PM by Romona Paden
The House of Representatives spent time before leaving for its month-long break to pass a bill that would provide financial assistance to those patrolling the U.S. border. According to Voice of America, the bill also addresses the increasing number of children who are fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.
Despite the Republican-led chamber approving the legislation, the Senate, which is led by Democrats, will likely not consider holding a vote on the bill.
The White House criticized the House for spending the time to create a bill that would not be considered by Senators and that does not address the issue of unaccompanied minors who are detained at the U.S. border in a humanitarian way.
President Barack Obama said that he would veto the legislation had it been sent to his desk from Congress as it would have led to the possible deportation of hundreds of thousands of young children who arrive at the U.S. border each year, the source reported.
The blame game continued when Republicans suggested President Obama was at fault for the 57,000 children from countries including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who arrived unaccompanied at the border and expected to receive a pathway to becoming American citizens.
Voice of America reported that the border issue won't go away once Congress comes back in the fall, and President Obama will need to reorganize funds so food and shelter can be given to the children at the border.
According to the source, President Obama already requested $3.7 billion from Congress in July to provide temporary housing for the children, hire more immigration judges and increase border security.
The Associated Press reported that $35 million of the funds House Republicans approved would go to the National Guard and efforts to return the unaccompanied minors back to their Central American home countries.
"The American people expect us to do our jobs," Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told the AP. "We have both a border and humanitarian crisis to deal with, and they expect us to take action now."
Fri, Aug 1 3:01 PM by Romona Paden
Congressional leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate left for their August break without reaching an agreement on immigration. According to CNN, House Republicans didn't vote on a $659 million emergency response bill that would provide funds to address concerns about the number of immigrants coming to the border from Central America.
A $2.7 billion plan developed by Senate Democrats responding to the surge in immigrants coming to the U.S. failed by 60 votes.
President Barack Obama recently asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding. The source reported that the money would have been used to increase border security while also speeding up processing time for the thousands of individuals, including children arriving on their own, who come to the border from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
A vote was expected on the bill drafted by the House of Representatives, however, it was canceled after a meeting between Republicans was held. Those leaders then reported to CNN that a vote would not be held on the border bill until it had the support needed to be passed to the Senate.
Despite bringing a lawsuit against the president for his use of executive action regarding health care at the end of July, House Speaker John Boehner suggested the president use that same action to get emergency money to address the border issue.
"There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries," a statement by House Republicans said.
Boehner said that Senate Democrats were pushing for an immigration solution so a pathway to citizenship could be granted to the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., the Associated Press reported.
Mon, Jul 28 10:45 AM by Romona Paden
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, made a bold statement on Saturday regarding President Barack Obama's potential use of executive action in relation to the immigration crisis. Effectively, King stated that if Obama chooses to use his executive authority to force comprehensive immigration reform into law, that House Republicans would bring impeachment trials before him.
King's objection seems to actually have little to do with potential reform of the immigration process and more to do with the undocumented immigrants already residing in America. While there have been varied and widespread discussions on both sides of the aisle regarding what is the best course of action, House Republicans seem staunchly against any sort of reform-oriented process. Indeed, it's been nearly a year since Obama's comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed quickly through the Senate, stalled in the GOP-led House of Representatives.
Many individuals in the Democratic Party have proposed that American lawmakers grant some of the benefits of citizenship to these undocumented individuals. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, for example, has suggested strongly that Obama grant work permits and amnesty to any immigrant who isn't a felon. King indicated in an interview with Breitbart News, however, that this sort of executive action would surely lead to impeachment trials.
"From my standpoint, if the president [enacts more executive actions], then we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives," King said in the interview. "That's my position and that's my prediction."
King is not the only Republican currently speaking about the potential to impeach the president. Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin recently published an article in Breitbart News calling for the president's removal. Palin also recently spoke out about the potential of bringing impeachment trials in front of Obama while speaking at the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado. Perhaps most alarming for supporters of the president's immigration efforts is that one of his own advisers, Dan Pfeiffer, has indicated that the threat may be real.
"I saw a poll today that had a huge portion of the Republican Party base saying that they supported impeaching the president," Pfeiffer said at a breakfast put on by The Christian Science Monitor. "A lot of people in this town laugh that off. I would not discount that possibility."
Fri, Jul 25 11:27 AM by Romona Paden
A Portland, Oregon-based facility, Morrison Child and Family Services, has received nearly $3.7 million in federal funding intended for use in providing unaccompanied immigrant children with housing and care. Morrison, a nonprofit that provides support for victims of traumatic events, has received this funding in installments across the 2014 fiscal year, with the most recent payout coming on July 11 and totaling $923,681, according to financial records from the Department of Health and Human Services. In total, Morrison will receive exactly $3,694,729 to aid unaccompanied immigrants in 2014.
This funding, though significant, is only the most recent in a series of grants made to Morrison by the federal government in past years. Since 2009, the family services center has received almost $16.5 million to house and provide care for these unaccompanied minors.
The funding, recently revealed through records taken from an online government database, has sparked questions from many people outside of Portland regarding the federal government's official stance on the relocation of these children. While Morrison has refused comment, deferring questions to the Department of Health and Human Services, department spokesman Kenneth Wolfe insisted in a written statement that no strain will be put on the community as a result of this housing.
"The impact of these shelters on the local community is minimal," wrote Wolfe. "HHS pays for and provides all services for the children through its network of grantees. This includes providing food, clothing, education and medical screening to the children. Children spend less than 30 days on average at the shelter and do not integrate into the local community."
While the nation at large has seen staunch disagreement regarding how to best handle the immigration crisis, Portland has emerged as a leader in support for the rights of immigrant children. Last Tuesday, July 22, residents of the city even held a welcome rally to show support for immigrant children who were rumored to be arriving.
Fri, Jul 25 10:43 AM by Romona Paden
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress are scheduled to meet with several leaders from Central American countries this Friday, July 25, to discuss the immigration crisis. Chief among the conversational matters to be discussed during the meeting in Washington, D.C., is how to handle the massive influx of unaccompanied immigrant children. Since October 2013, over 52,000 children traveling without parents or guardians have been detained while attempting to cross the Southwest border between the U.S. and Mexico.
One of the Central American leaders who will be in attendance, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, has spoken during several interviews about how he believes the United States should handle these children. As Hernandez indicated to Time magazine, he feels that America has a great deal of responsibility to navigate the situation, asserting that the demand for illicit substances stateside is one of the primary factors fueling the crisis.
"In the United States, many officials see the drug problem as basically one of health, as how much it costs to treat an addict and stop them getting involved. But for us it is life and death. That is the difference," Hernandez told the source. "This is a problem they generate, I repeat, because of the connection between the drugs they consume in enormous quantities in the United States that are produced in the south and pass through Central America, generating violence, generating this migratory flow."
In addition to discussing the impact that the drug trade has had on immigration out of Central America, Obama and the Central American leaders are expected to speak on the conditions migrant children are facing while being processed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The unprecedented influx of children has left officials scrambling to house them all, resulting in a call from the federal government to state Governors to take groups of children and provide them with shelter, food and clothing until more permanent arrangements can be made.
Thu, Jul 24 11:15 AM by Romona Paden
Advocates and opponents of immigration reform alike have found themselves centering recent debates on a law that was passed in 2008, during the administration of President George W. Bush. The law in question, known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, was designed to provide safety and protection to immigrants (predominantly children) who had experienced the horrors of sex trafficking.
The reason for the current debate over the act, though, has little to do with sex trafficking. Current controversy focuses more on how the act categorizes and separates immigrants into two distinct groups: contiguous immigrants (those who come from Canada or Mexico) and non-contiguous immigrants (those from countries with whom America does not share a border). The law states that unaccompanied children who arrive here from Canada or Mexico must undergo a screening by border patrol agents. These agents, in turn, are allowed to send them back to their home countries immediately if no fear or persecution is indicated.
Unaccompanied children arriving from non-contiguous countries, however, are to be automatically entered into deportation proceedings. This entails handing them over to the Department of Health and Human Services for processing with 72 hours of their arrival and scheduling a deportation trial. Arrangements are then made for these children to stay with family or friends in America (if possible) while they wait for their trial. With a backlog of over 350,000 cases, deportation trials can take years to schedule. Many of these minors never appear for their trials, having found an entrance into the country.
Proponents of immigration reform argue that the screenings undergone by contiguous immigrants are inadequate, and that border patrol agents immediately assume that Mexican children have no protection needs. Those in support of closing U.S. borders argue that the law is outdated, having been passed at a time when roughly 8,000 unaccompanied children entered the country each year. Since October 2013, over 52,000 unaccompanied migrant children have crossed into America.
The disagreement comes at an inopportune time for reform advocates, as it seems to be holding up Congress' decision regarding President Barack Obama's request for $3.7 billion to navigate the immigration crisis. Congress is set to take their summer recess in two weeks, and many fear that they may not make a decision regarding the funding or reform by then.
Wed, Jul 23 11:58 AM by Romona Paden
In a development that has mirrored national division regarding how to handle the recent influx of immigrant children, Massachusetts voters are split on Gov. Deval Patrick's proposition regarding housing the youths. Patrick announced last week that he would attempt to find housing for up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at military bases throughout the commonwealth. His announcement came on the heels of a plea made from the federal government to state officials to provide a response to the immigration crisis in the form of housing for these undocumented individuals. Patrick indicated that the most likely facilities for housing the minors were either Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts or Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne, Massachusetts.
Response to Patrick's announcement from his constituents has been varied. According to a recent poll conducted by The Boston Globe, 50 percent of Massachusetts voters support the proposal, while 43 percent do not. The poll also showed that 39 percent of voters surveyed believe undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border should be offered asylum, while 43 percent are against allowing these individuals to stay in the country.
Patrick's decision, as he indicated in a statement released by his office, is motivated more by a desire to act morally than traditional political policy.
"There are practical, policy and political arguments not to shelter these children, and I have heard many of them," Patrick said in a statement. "We have consulted with the federal government to assure that they will meet all the children's needs and bear all the costs. We have consulted with refugee agencies to understand what the children's needs will be. And I have talked with faith leaders and searched my own conscience. I have come down where I have for two main reasons, love of country and lessons of faith. We are a great nation. Unlike any other superpower, America's power, to paraphrase a great man, comes from giving, not from taking."
The federal government is expected to carry the entirety of the cost for housing the children in Massachusetts.
Mon, Jul 21 5:37 PM by Romona Paden
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has joined Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in chastising President Barack Obama for his handling of the immigration crisis. In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Graham indicated that he feels the current stalemate over immigration is the fault of the president, but also that he believes the GOP-led House of Representatives must act soon if Republicans want to contend for the presidency in 2016.
"I blame Obama for this moment," Graham said on the show. "[If Congress doesn't pass immigration reform] our chances in 2016 are very low. The House should lead."
Graham is not the only member of Congress speaking out against the handling, or lack thereof, of the current immigration crisis. His comments were preceded earlier in the same day by statements from Cruz during an interview on "Fox News Sunday." Cruz, in responding to claims by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that Republicans were holding immigrant children "ransom" by refusing to act, tossed the same allegation at Reid and Obama.
"I'll tell you who is holding these kids ransom – Harry Reid and the president because their view is, 'Don't do anything to fix the problem,'" Cruz told interviewer Chris Wallace.
Democrats have maintained that Republicans are to blame for the unresolved issue after failing to act on the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced into Congress last year. The bill was passed through the Senate and has remained untouched in the House of Representatives. As was indicated in Graham's comments, Republicans are aware that they need to act on immigration reform if they are to stand a chance in the 2016 presidential election. Immigration reform has become an increasingly hot-button issue as numbers of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. have risen dramatically. By the end of 2014, 90,000 undocumented and unaccompanied children are expected to cross the border, and early projections estimate nearly 145,000 will do the same in 2015.
Fri, Jul 18 11:31 AM by Romona Paden
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has traditionally been a strong ally of President Barack Obama and his administration. During Obama's bid for re-election in 2012, O'Malley raised over $1 million for the president's campaign and, numerous times, supported him publicly in the media. However, the two seem to have reached an impasse where immigration reform is concerned.
Last Friday, O'Malley, while speaking at a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association being held in Nashville, Tennessee, made it clear that he feels deportation of unaccompanied immigrant children is not in their best interests and that he does not support it.
"We are Americans, and we do not return refugee kids who find themselves on our doorstep back into war-torn or famine-racked places where they will face certain death," O'Malley told reporters. "I think we have to act like Americans."
Unfortunately for all parties involved, O'Malley's statements come in stark opposition to his actions. After having been called upon by the Obama administration to potentially house unaccompanied immigrant children in his home state, O'Malley raised objections to the opening of a federal shelter in Carroll County, Maryland. The shelter was to be built inside an old military building in Westminster. The building was spray painted with a misspelled and racist sentiment last week, perhaps validating O'Malley's claims that it is an unfit venue for hosting immigrant children. The Baltimore Police Department is investigating the graffiti as a hate crime.
O'Malley is considering putting in a bid for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016, and immigration reform is sure to be at the forefront of his campaign platform. Many political analysts believe that his outspokenness on the immigration issue is an effort to distinguish himself from other potential candidates.
O'Malley has been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform in Maryland, approving a state "Dream Act" that provided undocumented immigrants with in-state tuition at local colleges and allowed those individuals to obtain driver's licenses.
Fri, Jul 18 10:50 AM by Romona Paden
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spoke out recently at a "Politics on Tap" event co-hosted by CNN and The National Journal regarding his views on the 2016 presidential election. McCain urged the Republican Party to take action on immigration reform, stating that he believes it is integral to their defeat of Hillary Clinton, whom he feels to be the favorite in the 2016 race for the White House. McCain indicated how pivotal a topic he believes immigration reform will be in what should be a hotly contested election.
"We've got some very successful governors that have done very well in their states that I think once exposed to the American people could be very competitive," McCain said at the event. "I expect it to be very competitive, except if we don't enact some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, I do not see a way for us to really win a general election."
Indeed, immigration reform should be a defining facet of the next presidential election. A recent Gallup poll showed that currently one out of six Americans believe that immigration reform is the most pressing issue facing the nation. That demographic (17 percent) is up dramatically from 5 percent in June and is the highest that the issue has ranked in Gallup polls in nearly a decade. Immigration reform has become a divisive issue in the last year as the GOP-led House of Representatives has refused to act on a comprehensive reform bill approved by the Senate. Simultaneously, tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants are crossing into America after leaving their home countries.
McCain reiterated his sentiments near the close of the event, indicating that the Republican Party will only harm their odds of winning the presidency by waiting on immigration reform.
"I think as the 2016 presidential campaign gets closer that my colleagues will recognize … that we are marginalizing the Republican Party," said McCain.
Wed, Jul 16 5:39 PM by Romona Paden
While the nation waits for a response from Congress regarding President Barack Obama's request of $3.7 billion to stem the recent tide of undocumented immigrants, groups protesting the surge of undocumented individuals have begun to appear across the country. While this is somewhat unsurprising, an interesting dynamic has begun to unfold as anti-immigration protestors all over have found themselves met by equally vocal groups supporting comprehensive immigration reform and immigrant rights.
In Murrieta, California, last week, buses carrying undocumented immigrants and unaccompanied immigrant children to a federal holding area were forced to reroute after protesters blocked their way for hours. In Fontana, California, however, 40 individuals brought in on a Department of Homeland Security bus have been welcomed by the community with donations containing clothing, food and even toys for the children.
The same sort of parallel appears to be occurring in Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad has discouraged the federal government from sending any undocumented immigrants seeking a home while they wait for their immigration hearings. At the same time, Kathleen McQuillen, Iowa program director of the American Friends Service Committee, is leading a group that's outraged at the state's unwillingness to help immigrant children.
"It's a simple thing to begin to say, what's important in this world?" McQuillen told CNN.
These scenes of demonstrated disagreement are occurring all over the country as the federal government scrambles to find a solution to what has been labeled by many, including Obama, as a humanitarian crisis. In an eight-month period leading up to June 15, 2014, over 52,000 unaccompanied children were detained at the U.S./Mexico border attempting to enter the country, the vast majority of them being from Central America. It is estimated that by the end of the year that number will be nearly 90,000, leaving federal authorities at a loss for a solution.
Wed, Jul 16 11:57 AM by Romona Paden
The amount of Americans who cite immigration as the most important issue currently facing our nation more than tripled from June to July, according to a recent Gallup poll. The poll, conducted between July 7 and July 10, indicated that 17 percent of Americans currently find immigration to be the most pressing issue in the U.S., a number that has risen dramatically from 5 percent in June of this year.
Moving to the top of the list of issues facing the country, the immigration crisis has now eclipsed several frequently listed issues. Immigration is followed on the list of American concerns by dissatisfaction with the government (16 percent), the economy (15 percent), and unemployment and jobs (14 percent).
The rising concern over immigration is undoubtedly fueled by the increase in media coverage of the surge of Central American immigrants, many of them children, crossing into the United States in the Southwest. Authorities estimate that unaccompanied children alone will account for between 60,000 and 80,000 individuals entering America by the end of the calendar year. The result of the poll is also certainly influenced by President Barack Obama's recent request of $3.7 billion from Congress to be used to stem the tide of immigration.
The results of this poll could be a strong indication of how candidates from both sides of the aisle will attempt to appeal to voters in the upcoming election season. For example, where national health care reform has typically been an immensely controversial issue for voters, Gallup's poll shows that it seems to be leaving the front of most Americans' minds. Health care was cited by 16 percent of Americans as the most important national issue in January. It then fell to 15 percent in April, 11 percent in May, 10 percent in June and 8 percent this month.
The Gallup poll only listed issues cited as the most important by at least 2 percent of the Americans surveyed.
Wed, Jul 16 11:17 AM by Romona Paden
One of the most high-profile undocumented immigrants in American history, Jose Antonio Vargas, was detained by Border Patrol agents Tuesday. Vargas, a celebrated filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, had spent several days prior to the detainment in McAllen, Texas, covering the recent surge of undocumented Central American children into the Southwest. He was attempting to board a flight to Houston at McAllen-Miller International Airport when Border Patrol pulled him aside after noticing his passport was from the Philippines. He was held in custody for the majority of the day before being released with instructions to appear at an immigration hearing in the near future.
Vargas, an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines, has made a career out of writing about and advocating for immigrants in America. He has been living in the U.S. without citizenship since 1993, though this detainment represents the first time he has ever been held by immigration authorities.
The move to detain Vargas puts federal immigration officials in a bit of an awkward position. Vargas has been very thorough in outing himself as an undocumented individual over the last few years, first doing so in a New York Times article and then later in an essay in Time magazine. His detainment and eventual release, if nothing else, offers reform advocates a compelling argument regarding the validity of deportation rationale as a whole.
"I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat," Vargas told the New York Times. "I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country are not a threat either."
Border Patrol officials indicated that Vargas was released once he failed to turn up a criminal record or anything that would indicate he is a threat to others. Vargas, whose upcoming documentary is appropriately titled, "Undocumented," has traveled to 43 states as a journalist in the last three years. He has been in America since he was 12 years old. When Obama offered Deferred Action for Child Arrivals in 2012, Vargas was too old for the cutoff age by a matter of months.
Tue, Jul 15 10:55 AM by Romona Paden
In the first large-scale deportation since the federal government's promise to begin acting in response to the immigration crisis, 40 Honduran individuals were returned to their home country. The group, which included both adults and unaccompanied children, had been being held in a U.S. detention facility in New Mexico. Though the flight to San Pedro is only roughly six hours, it undoes an incredible amount of effort on the part of these individuals, many of whom spent weeks or months making the journey from Central America to the U.S.
Though the move has received praise from those opposed to immigration reform, the reality of the matter remains that it has hardly made a dent in the population of undocumented immigrants currently being held. It is estimated that roughly 82,000 undocumented immigrants remain in America, with nearly 57,000 members of that group being unaccompanied immigrant children.
The Honduran government has been cooperative with the United States, desiring the return of their citizens. Last week, the Honduran president declared the situation a humanitarian emergency and laid plans for the arrangement of a fund dedicated to returning their residents. According to Honduran first lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez, the group on the plane consisted of 18 mothers and 22 children, ranging from just several months old to 15 years of age. Hernandez expressed her concern at the high levels of children leaving Honduras.
"Clearly it worries us," Garcia de Hernandez told CNN, "because we have always spoken about ensuring the best interests of the children."
Regrettably, the best interests of the children seem to be one of the main motivators behind their decision to flee the Central American country. San Pedro Sula, the city where the plane landed, has developed such a culture of violence that it now has the reputation of being the murder capital of the world. This, paired with widespread gang recruitment from a young age, has influenced many of these individuals to leave in search of a better life in the United States.
Mon, Jul 14 10:57 AM by Romona Paden
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell held meetings in Nashville with dozens of U.S. governors this Sunday, July 13. The meetings, which were private, were an attempt to gain support from the leaders of states that will be hosting thousands of unaccompanied children who've come across the border. Since October 1, 2013, more than 57,000 child immigrants have crossed into America. That number is anticipated to reach 90,000 prior to the end of the calendar year.
Unsurprisingly, Burwell experienced mixed reactions from the various governors with whom she met. Many of the Republican governors that she spoke with remained staunchly against any sort of amnesty for undocumented immigrants in America, particularly in their home states. Three of the most outspoken critics in this group were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad.
Brandstad, Christie and Walker, who have frequently dissented from the President's views on immigration, all believe that the Obama administration's plan to send unaccompanied child immigrants to stay with friends or family in America is misguided. Current law requires that children who cross into America alone from countries that don't share our border be turned over to HHS within 72 hours for processing.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper indicated his desire to aid the immigrant children, but to do so in an economical fashion.
"Our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges. They don't want to see another burden come into their state," Hickenlooper told the Associated Press. "However we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we've got to do it in the most cost-effective way possible."
While Burwell received a great deal more support from the governors of blue states, there was still concern regarding the bottom line of the situation. Many of these officials expressed worry regarding the cost to their state, particularly within the realm of providing public education and social services to these undocumented children.
Fri, Jul 11 12:06 PM by Romona Paden
Three of the richest men in America have co-authored an open letter to Congress in which they push for comprehensive immigration reform. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson, Nos 1, 2 and 8 on the Forbes Magazine ranking of the richest Americans, published a piece collaboratively in the Opinions & Editorials section of the New York Times on Thursday addressing the divisive issue.
Their decision to speak out on the issue comes at the same time that Congress is considering a proposal from President Barack Obama asking for roughly $3.7 billion in funding to attempt to resolve the unprecedented number of unaccompanied immigrants crossing into the Southwestern US. Republicans have shown hesitation at the president's proposal, citing fiscal concerns, while Democrats have largely supported the initiative. Since September 2013, over 57,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been detained crossing the border. That number is expected to exceed 90,000 by the end of 2014.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the three moguls' decision to unite and speak out is that they differ politically. Gates and Buffet, the two richest men in America, are decidedly Democrats, having donated to President Obama's campaign and numerous initiatives on the left side of the aisle. Adelson, who made his fortune owning a series of casinos, is a self-proclaimed Republican. The subtext of their letter is that those with political differences can still reach compromised agreements if willing to sacrifice some personal interest for the good of a larger group or entity. The three men wrote that no good can come from holding off on passing reform, which has stalled in the GOP-led House of Representatives.
"A Congress that does nothing about these problems is extending an irrational policy by default; that is, if lawmakers don't act to change it, it stays the way it is, irrational. The current stalemate – in which greater pride is attached to thwarting the opposition than to advancing the nation's interests – is depressing to most Americans and to virtually all of its business managers. The impasse certainly depresses the three of us," the men wrote, indicating the damage that apathy and inaction will cause in the face of this pressing issue.
Fri, Jul 11 11:30 AM by Romona Paden
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that immigration officials and U.S. Border Patrol agents will soon exceed their budget if the rapid influx of young Central American immigrants into the U.S. continues. According to Johnson, the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border have driven up detention, transportation and overtime costs to a point well beyond sustainability, leaving officials and legislators scrambling to react. He was not ambiguous in his timeline, predicting that the Customs and Border Protection agency would be out of money by early fall, with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency running dry even earlier.
"At the current burn rate, ICE is going to run out of money at mid-August and we project CBP will run out of money in mid-September," Johnson told the committee.
This announcement comes at the same moment in which President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help aid in dealing with the continued influx of unaccompanied child immigrants. More than 57,000 children have been detained crossing the border since September alone. By the end of the year that number is estimated to be north of 90,000.
Johnson urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the budget, suggesting that not doing so would lead to repercussions outweighing the potential fiscal ones associated with approving Obama's plan.
"[If the budget is not passed] We will have to go to a harsh form of reprogramming that will take money away from vital homeland security programs I'm sure members of this committee care a lot about," Johnson warned.
On top of urging the committee to approve Obama's request for funding, Johnson also urged lawmakers to revise a 2008 law that requires proper deportation proceedings for children whose home countries don't border the U.S. This move comes just shortly after a lawsuit filed on behalf of several immigration reform advocacy groups earlier this week, citing lack of attorneys for children in deportation hearings as unjust.
Thu, Jul 10 1:08 PM by Romona Paden
Over 100 people gathered outside city hall in Murrieta, California, on Wednesday evening to support and show solidarity for the unaccompanied migrant children who have been arriving in Texas. In a statement, members of the vigil referred to the unaccompanied immigrant children as refugees and expressed their desire for the people of Murrieta, Southern California and America as a whole to welcome them with compassion and understanding.
The peaceful vigil-holders were also met by a small contingent of anti-immigration protestors. A group of roughly five individuals arrived at the vigil, highly outnumbered, carrying American flags and occasionally yelling things such as "We speak English here." One of them wore a T-shirt emblazoned with "Border Patrol."
Nonetheless, the vigil was thought of as a success. A collection was taken up near the center of the group gathering food, clothing, money and other donations for the families of the migrant children. A couple from Guatemala, Elva and Angel Rosales, addressed the crowd in Spanish, telling parts of their story of coming to America. Their infant son was with them at the vigil, though Elva told the group of her other two children, 7 and 10 years old, who are currently being held at a detention center in Texas. Through tears, Elva thanked the group for their support and stated that she only wanted to be reunited with her children.
Fernando Romero, a member of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, was present at the vigil and told the Press Enterprise that he hoped the demonstration could draw attention to the root causes of immigration.
"A lot of these children and family members are going to be turned around and sent back," Romero told the source. "There was no addressing of the reasons why these folks are coming here in the first place."
The vigil came only a few days after President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve a $3.7 billion emergency spending budget to aid in dealing with the rapid influx of unaccompanied Central American children into Texas.
Thu, Jul 10 12:29 PM by Romona Paden
Several immigration reform advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the federal government Wednesday after the United States government continued to fail to provide legal representation to unaccompanied child immigrants facing deportation proceedings. Though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has provided representation for some individuals undergoing these proceedings, the lawsuit cites eight child immigrant plaintiffs who have not received representation during their trials.
The case presents an interesting dilemma considering the nature of the trials themselves. Deportation hearings are civil, not criminal, so the defendants are not actually guaranteed the right to legal representation. Many of the children never hire an attorney, due to a combination of socioeconomic factors, and end up showing up for their trials alone. The suit alleges that this occurrence, though technically legal, is unfair to the child immigrants, as they lack the emotional and intellectual capacities of adults and are typically unfamiliar with the nuances of the American legal system.
Ahilan Arulanantham works as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which was one of the groups that filed the suit on behalf of the child immigrants. Arulanantham, in speaking with the Los Angeles Times, furthered the sentiment that the children require representation for their hearings to be just and fair.
"Their ability to grasp what is at stake and even just perform the act of talking to a judge is virtually nonexistent," he told the source. "A 10-year-old cannot make legal arguments and cannot even make reliably accurate factual statements that a court can rely on in deciding that child's case."
The lawsuit has named three offices as defendants in the case: The Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the Department of Justice.
Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE, would only state that her agency refuses to comment on any litigation while it is still pending a verdict.
Wed, Jul 9 11:32 AM by Romona Paden
In a move that's drawn stark criticism from immigration reform activists, a planned expansion of the Adelanto Detention Center, the largest immigration detention center in Southern California, was announced July 9. The Adelanto Detention Center is located in the desert, surrounded by barbed wire fences, and currently has the capacity to hold nearly 1,300 male detainees. The planned expansion calls for the addition of 650 beds and a wing for female detainees, bringing the capacity of the center to nearly 2,100.
Immigration reform advocates have begun to protest the planned expansion, claiming that the company that operates the Adelanto Detention Center has a record of neglect and a poor history of dealing with immigrants. Criticisms from these individuals also center on the fact that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required by a federal quota to detain 34,000 undocumented immigrants a day nationally. Victoria Mena, a coordinator with the Defund Detention Campaign, expressed her frustration to Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC.
"To see that we're still building centers like Adelanto, to just comply with this quota, is really sad," Mena told the source. "We don't need more immigrant detention to fulfill the quota, what we need is to make smart, common sense immigration reform happen."
Perhaps most troubling, as Mena pointed out, is the 2012 death of a detainee who was being held at Adelanto. An internal investigation run by ICE's Office of Detention Oversight determined that adequate health care had not been provided to the individual in question.
Nonetheless, a spokeswoman for ICE, Virginia Kice, insisted that the expansion is simply in response to the current influx of undocumented immigrants into the Southwest.
"There's a huge number of people coming into our custody in Los Angeles," Kice told KNBC.
Mena, along with the Defund Detention Campaign and other reform advocacy groups, has launched a campaign asking the federal government to refocus its attention on reform instead of detention.
Wed, Jul 9 11:02 AM by Romona Paden
In a move that's drawn mixed reactions from the American populace, the Los Angeles Police Department will no longer follow immigration detainer requests issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency without fair judicial review. The announcement of the new policy came on July 7 from Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose office also posted multiple times on Twitter regarding the new protocol to be upheld by the LAPD.
ICE hold requests occur after federal authorities cross check the fingerprints of locally arrested individuals with federal immigration databases. If they find a potential match and believe that the individual in custody may be an undocumented immigrant or have a warrant against them, agents can ask to have the person held for up to 48 hours. Historically, this time has given the federal agents a window in which they can pick up that individual and expedite them into deportation proceedings. Objections have been raised to this process across the country from immigration reform advocates who find the process unconstitutional. Garcetti indicated to the Los Angeles Times that he feels this process will be made far more fair through requiring a judicial review.
"The way it exists right now, you don't even have to go to a judge,"Garcetti told the source. "It's just an ICE office who says, 'Hold that person' – period. That no longer will be honored. Like most things, it will have to go through a judge."
According to data kept internally, the LAPD makes roughly 105,000 arrests each year and receive ICE detainer requests for nearly 3,400 of them. Los Angeles joins multiple other cities in California and across the country in ruling not to honor ICE detainer requests any further, much to the satisfaction of immigration reform advocates. Steve Soboroff, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, indicated that the move is one based in reluctance to offer differential treatment to any arrested persons simply at the request of the federal government.
"The idea of the government calling and saying, 'Hold him another 48 hours for this specific purpose,'" Soboroff told KNX 1070 News Radio. "To me, I would like not to do that."
Tue, Jul 8 1:45 PM by Romona Paden
White House officials reported on Tuesday that President Barack Obama will be asking Congress for approximately $3.7 billion to better respond to the rapid influx of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. The majority of this money would reportedly be used the processing of the thousands of individuals who are currently awaiting notice for deportation hearings in detainment centers across the Southwestern United States. According to CNN, this would include processing immigrants who have already arrived, aiding Central American countries in responding to the outpouring of their residents, prosecuting smugglers and providing a better standard of care for the child immigrants currently in federal custody. Since October 2013, over 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border into America.
Republicans have already widely voiced their disapproval of President Obama's request. Following a speech last week in the Rose Garden in which Obama brought the issue to light, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he thought Obama was looking for a "blank check" to resolve an issue that was the result of his leniency regarding immigration policy.
To further complicate things, Obama is headed to Texas this Wednesday. Texas has quickly become fixed as the center of the immigration debate given its proximity to the border. In a move that has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, Obama is not planning to visit the border areas of the state during the one day that he is there. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been at the forefront of that criticism.
Following a failed run at the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2012, Perry may look to use the immigration debate as a springboard for his candidacy. His home state of Texas has spent over $500 million this decade in attempting to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing its borders.
President Obama has invited Perry to a private meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, though Perry did not immediately respond.
Tue, Jul 8 11:33 AM by Romona Paden
Proponents of immigration reform won a considerable victory in Arizona July 7 when an appeals court in Arizona overruled an executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer had ordered that driver's licenses be denied to undocumented immigrants who have received work permits through President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Child Immigrants program. These individuals, known as "Dreamers," often need driver's licenses to use their work permits as many employers require them as a condition of employment.
DACA was announced in June of 2012, and took effect that August. DACA was aimed at immigrants who entered the United States as minors and were younger than 30 years of age in August 2012. It provided the individuals meeting these requirements with protection from deportation for two years as well as employee authorization documents (EADs).
The ruling, which came from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, explained that the immigrants in question were being harmed by unequal treatment by the state of Arizona. This decision also represents the end of a litigation battle that spanned more than a year. Last year, Arizona expanded its law to also ban licenses for any immigrants who had been granted deferred action from deportation. Most who benefited from that decision were allowed immunity from deportation because of negative humanitarian situations in their home countries, such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse and human trafficking.
Many supporters of reform, including Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, have suggested that the ban Brewer proposed, which came on August 15, 2012 (the exact same day DACA went into effect) was a result of her distaste for President Obama.
"This policy was motivated by a political relationship (between) Gov. Brewer and Obama, and she had no good reason and no basis in the law to do this," Pochoda told the Associated Press.
Brewer's proposal is no longer in effect, though she has indicated that she intends to appeal the ruling.
Thu, Jul 3 3:21 PM by Romona Paden
Hispanics in Politics sponsored an event July 2 that featured a brief series of comments and a question and answer session with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The event took place in downtown Las Vegas. Reid spoke on a number of issues pertaining to immigration, perhaps most notably his beliefs on any capacity for immigration reform to be passed through Congress before the year's end. Despite his support for comprehensive immigration reform, Reid seemed very aware of the low potential for any sort of reform to pass through the Senate this year.
"It's gone until next year," Reid told NewsMax. "Maybe we'll get something in the lame-duck session."
Nonetheless, Reid did discuss the various ways in which the fight for immigration reform can continue to be pushed forward, indicating that President Barack Obama had been in touch with him last week before officially announcing that he would use his executive authority to attempt to institute reform measures. This announcement came from Obama after the comprehensive immigration reform bill that was approved by the Senate nearly a year ago had been continually stalled in the House of Representatives. Speaking of the stalled bill, Reid indicated his disapproval for House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to hold a vote on the issue. Reid also said that Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican who supports reform, did not put enough pressure on Boehner to influence having a vote. He did make clear that some good might come from the Republican's stubbornness in the form of missed votes come election season. Democrats will undoubtedly await seeing if his prediction manifests itself.
In closing his speech, Reid was sure to reinforce the value of immigrants to America, speaking specifically of the fiscal benefits of passing reform. He claimed that giving paths to citizenship to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in America could push roughly $1 trillion into the struggling U.S. economy.
Thu, Jul 3 11:12 AM by Romona Paden
In response to a dramatic surge of undocumented immigrants entering the Southwestern United States, the federal government has launched a new ad campaign targeted at highlighting the potential dangers of immigration. The campaign, which is budgeted at over $1 million, is aimed primarily at Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ideally, the initiative will be able to dissuade people from soliciting potentially dangerous services from "coyotes" or smugglers.
What's being referred to as the "Dangers Awareness Campaign" is expected to spread its message via the use of hundreds of billboards and roughly 6,500 pre-recorded public service announcements on local television channels and radio stations in the target nations. The campaign was announced by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. He made his intentions regarding the recent uptick in immigration concise and clear during a press conference on Wednesday in Mission, Texas, near the Rio Grande River.
"We have to stem the flow," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press.
Customs and Border Protection insist that the campaign is being launched with the intent of reducing risk on all sides. Since October 2013, over 52,000 unaccompanied child immigrants have been detained crossing into America. Perhaps even more upsetting is the fact that during that same period 226 immigrants have died making the passage. For many, the gravity of this situation was driven home when the body of a Guatemalan boy was found just a mile from the Rio Grande earlier this week. He had allegedly been traveling from his home nation to Chicago to attempt to find his brother.
Each of the advertisements in the campaign will feature a sort of mini-storyline regarding immigration and then end with the words, "They are our future. Protect them." Though the messages will vary in form, they are all expected to highlight the dangers of the smugglers, or "coyotes," who offer to take undocumented immigrants into America, albeit for a lofty price tag. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz elaborated on this at Wednesday's press conference.
"We want a relative that is about to send $5,000, $6,000 to a relative in El Salvador to see this message and say 'Oh my god, they're saying that the journey is more dangerous,'" Ruiz told the AP. "We try to counter the version of the smuggler."
Wed, Jul 2 11:57 AM by Romona Paden
Buses carrying undocumented immigrants were forced to reroute to San Diego, California, after protesters blocked their path, making it impossible for them to enter the Border Patrol processing center for which they were headed.
The protests took place in the town of Murrieta, California, where the immigrants were scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning. The initial intention had been to process the immigrants at the Border Patrol center, assigning them case numbers and running background checks on them before releasing them to await their deportation hearings. The buses, however, were greeted by protesters led by Murrieta's mayor, Alan Long. Waving American flags and holding signs, the anti-immigration protesters blocked the road until each of the three buses was forced to head an additional 60 miles south to San Diego.
Long had encouraged residents of Murrieta to take issue with elected officials in response to plans to transport immigrants from Texas to California. Holding centers have been overwhelmed across the Southwest as immigration numbers continue to rise. Already this year, over 50,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been apprehended crossing into America, and the number is expected to rise considerably. This 50,000 represent more than double the total number from three years ago.
While the protesters in Murrieta didn't seem to be met with any strong contingent of reform advocates, Juan Silva, a resident of nearby Chula Vista, seemed to disagree with them. He indicated that there may have been some confusion regarding the three buses, which were carrying predominantly families and unaccompanied children. Silva said he heard initially that the bus was carrying drug traffickers, and was surprised to find out it was actually full of children.
"I don't think people in that town should be against little kids," Silva told Fox News. "We're not talking about rapists. We're talking about human beings. How would they feel if it was their kids?"
Tue, Jul 1 2:54 PM by Romona Paden
The dangers that so many immigrants face when they cross from Central America into the United States were sadly reinforced this week, as a Guatemalan boy was found dead roughly a mile from the border between Mexico and South Texas.
Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez was 11 years old at the time of his death. Officials believe that he was left behind by a "coyote" he had paid to take him across the border and then succumbed to exposure. Though his body was discovered several weeks ago (on June 15), he was not identified until the end of the month. He had left his home in Huehuetenango, Chiantla, Guatemala to come to America. Huehuetenango is known as one of the poorest regions in the entire Western Hemisphere, having roughly one-third the wealth per capita of Mexico.
As an unaccompanied child, Gilberto was part of a rapidly growing subset of Central American immigrants. Already this year over 52,000 unaccompanied children have been taken into custody after being apprehended crossing the U.S. border. Many of them flee their home countries due to immense poverty and gang violence, and are coming to America in search of a better life. Earlier reports have also indicated that rumors are currently circulating in Central America that changes in immigration policy will now allow children arriving in the U.S. to stay indefinitely.
The surge in unaccompanied immigrant children has become so pronounced so quickly that President Barack Obama has labeled it an "urgent humanitarian situation." On Monday afternoon, Obama announced that he would no longer wait for the GOP-led House of Representatives to vote on the long-stalled comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill was put through the Senate last year and has been a point of political contention leading up to the declaration that Obama would be using his executive authority to expedite it.
Authorities are attempting to work with the Guatemalan consulate to have Gilberto's remains returned to his family.
Wed, Jun 25 11:19 AM by Romona Paden
Mark Zuckerberg, the technology mogul best known for his creation of Facebook, is becoming more and more active in politics these days. Recently he's been using the immigration reform advocacy group that he started, FWD.us, to make clear to Republicans that the time to act on immigration reform is now.
While the comprehensive immigration reform bill before Congress has largely stalled in front of the GOP-led House of Representatives, reform is an increasingly personal subject for Republicans as election season once again approaches. Zuckerberg and FWD.us used this reality to their advantage this past week when they released the results of a poll conducted through an affiliate of theirs, the Council for American Job Growth.
The poll focused on 10 swing districts with incumbent Republican representatives. In those districts, FWD.us and the Council for American Job Growth attempted to measure the ways in which voter loyalty to those incumbents would be affected when voters were shown pro-immigration advertising. This advertising centered on the negative results of not passing immigration reform and linked those results to the incumbent Republicans.
The results of the poll were significant. After voters read a sample piece of the advertising, the study showed vote shares for the Republican incumbent dropping 6 percent overall and 7 percent among Independents, whose votes hold considerable value in swing districts. Kate Hansen, a spokeswoman for FWD.us, explained that these results could very well be indicative of electoral repercussions this autumn.
"The data makes clear that there are real electoral consequences for Republicans in these districts, because voters tie them to their own party's failure to take action on passing reform legislation," Hansen said in a statement.
While representatives from FWD.us and The Council for American Job Growth refused to answer questions regarding whether they intended to run these sort of advertisements closer to election time, they certainly have the capacity to do so. FWD.us alone has spent millions on advertising in 2014.
Wed, Jun 25 10:38 AM by Romona Paden
A bill was proposed by a group of Democratic U.S. representatives on Monday that, if passed, would offer legal representation to unaccompanied migrant children in America. The group is led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and three Democratic women from Southern California: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Karen Bass. As Jeffries explained, the four Democrats believe that undocumented immigrant children arriving alone in America should be entitled to legal representation to guarantee that they can navigate the deportation proceedings properly and fairly.
"It is a fantasy to believe that they [undocumented immigrant children] have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel," Jeffries said at a news conference.
The bill, known as the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act of 2014, or VIVA, comes at an interesting moment in the immigration debate. Many proponents of immigration reform believe the defeat of Eric Cantor, House Majority leader, in his primary eliminated the best chance to pass the current comprehensive reform bill. The bill has been stalled for nearly a year in the House of Representatives. Cantor, a Republican, was thought by many to be the most likely route to building support for reform on the right. Ultimately, he was unable to take a firm stand on either side of the immigration debate and lost his primary election to David Brat, an economics professor strongly against any form of amnesty. Meanwhile, unaccompanied minors continue to cross into the U.S. from Central America, with officials predicting the total number to top 90,000 by the end of the year.
VIVA has drawn early criticism from those against reform, as it mimics a clause in the original reform bill that also aimed to provide legal support for some immigrants, particularly children. Jeffries and his group, however, maintain that their bill is in the best interests of the nation, not just those of immigrant children. According to Jeffries' group, the timely immigration proceedings that would result from passing VIVA could save over $2 billion annually by eliminating the need to house and feed these children for extended periods prior to their hearings.
Tue, Jun 24 11:03 AM by Romona Paden
A judge in Montana ruled this week that a law approved by voters in 2012 was, in fact, unconstitutional. The law, Legislative Referendum 121, attempted to limit the amount of money spent on undocumented immigrants by denying them any sort of federal income, such as a government job or access to a federally subsidized assistance program.
Ultimately, Legislative Referendum 121 called for the creation and enactment of a very large database. The database in question was to hold information regarding the citizenship status of Montanans, and would be checked whenever an individual applied for either a government job or a federally subsidized program, such as welfare, unemployment or assistance for victims of crime. Were the person in question a citizen, nothing would happen. Were they an undocumented immigrant, however, their information would be handed over to local and federal immigration authorities.
The referendum had initially experienced a great deal of support, being voted in by a landslide in 2012 as nearly 80 percent of Montana voters were in favor of it. However, It was never enforced after being passed into law because it was met with an almost instant challenge from an immigration advocacy group. That December, the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, led by Shahid Haque-Hausrath, who serves as an immigration attorney in Montana, sued to block the law.
Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena, Montana, presided over the case. He ultimately ruled that the law violated the constitution based on the fact that it provides its own definition of what an undocumented immigrant was, which is not based in federal law.
After the ruling, John Barnes, a spokesman for Attorney General Tim Fox, did not offer much concrete information in regard to whether or not their office would bring an appeal.
"We have a period of time in which to make a decision on appealing," Barnes said, speaking to USA Today. "It is premature at this point as to whether or not we're going to appeal."
Mon, Jun 23 11:16 AM by Romona Paden
President Barack Obama's approval ratings have taken a considerable hit over the past few weeks, largely because of the ongoing stagnation surrounding the immigration crisis in the Southwestern U.S. Gallup, an agency that provides data-driven news and polling, reported on Friday that approval of Obama's handling of the immigration crisis had fallen to 31 percent. In contrast to this, the same poll reported that 65 percent of people surveyed indicated that they disapproved of Obama's immigration policies at this point in time.
This poll was also conducted nearly a year ago by Gallup, in August 2013. The percentage of people surveyed who indicated that they disapprove of Obama's immigration policies has climbed 10 percent in that timeframe, rising from 55 percent to 65 percent. This disapproval rate represents the single largest percentage of respondents unhappy with Obama's immigration policies since the poll's inception. The 31 percent approval rate is the lowest the Gallup poll has measured since 2010, during Obama's first term.
Approval of Obama's immigration policies has fallen relatively steadily over the last year across all party lines. The president has become a target for both sides of the aisle, receiving criticism from Republicans for appearing soft on amnesty while also being critiqued from the left for not yet using his executive authority to push the comprehensive reform bill through. That bill, which passed through the Senate nearly a year ago, has stagnated in the GOP-led House of Representatives.
Currently, 60 percent of Democrats approve of Obama's stance on immigration, compared with 25 percent of independents. Further, only 8 percent of Republicans currently approve of the president's immigration policies, with an astounding 90 percent of Republican respondents indicating disapproval. While there is almost certainly no course of action that will appease all sides, advocates of immigration reform continue to hope that Obama will use his executive authority to push the reform bill into law.
Fri, Jun 20 5:04 PM by Romona Paden
Ana Rosalinda de Hernandez, the first lady of Honduras, announced on Wednesday June 18 that she would be traveling to America to collect undocumented child immigrants native to her country. The children in question have entered the U.S. as part of a recent surge in immigration that has seen over 50,000 unaccompanied youth cross the Southwestern border since October of 2013. Of those 50,000, it is estimated that approximately 13,000 hail from Honduras. In order to support the logistics of the recovery of these children, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has delegated a commission of transportation, immigration and foreign affairs officials to travel with the first lady.
The current influx of immigrants, particularly unaccompanied children, has been dubbed an "urgent humanitarian crisis" by President Barack Obama, who has enlisted the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in navigating the situation. The children who have been apprehended by border patrol authorities are being held in detainment centers across the Southwest. These centers are typically repurposed warehouses or military bases where the children are made to wait until they can be advanced through the deportation processes. One such center, which is located in in Nogales, Arizona, currently holds over 900 migrant children, predominantly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Children arriving in the U.S. who have family here in the country have often been released to the care of those individuals. In these situations, the children are given instructions to appear in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of their discharge. Though Hernandez's plan is well intentioned, many immigration experts, such as Lenni Benson, a professor of law at New York Law School, believe the odds of her returning to Honduras with these children to be low.
"I know of no international law, immigration law or family law that would let a national government take a child away from their parent," Benson said to Newsweek. "I think it's political, I think it's compassionate political. What country wants to say it's losing its youth.
Thu, Jun 19 3:56 PM by Romona Paden
In a move that officials have been referring to as a "surge," authorities in Texas have increased their security presence at the shared Mexican border in an effort to decrease the flow of undocumented immigrants pouring into the Southwestern state. The decision, which was announced by Gov. Rick Perry, Lit. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus late on Wednesday night, represents sovereign action on the part of Texas in a matter that many would classify as federal.
The initial plan for the surge specifies that it will continue through at least the end of the year, and longer if necessary. In the bills current form, it authorizes the state to spend up to $1.3 million every week to fund the anti-immigration efforts. Gov. Perry explained that he feels it improper for the state to stand by and wait for federal resolution that could take an undefined period of time.
The move has drawn criticism from others in Texan politics; a recently launched online petition has already collected signatures from over 4,500 individuals who feel as though this legislation should be called back to drafting and reworked prior to being enacted. There certainly exists a silver lining here for proponents of immigration reform; if states begin to push their own legislation in response to immigration, then the federal government may be forced to act more quickly on the matter.
Perry explained that he felt he was doing the residents of Texas no favors by waiting for a federal solution that he believes is long overdue. In a statement from his office, he emphasized that he felt the need to act sooner than later.
The move comes in response to one of the most pronounced periods of undocumented immigration in the nation's history. More unaccompanied immigrant children are crossing into America from Central American countries than ever before, and the Border Patrol has reported making over 160,000 arrests since Oct. 1, 2013 on the Southwest Texas border alone.
Thu, Jun 19 3:12 PM by Romona Paden
Protestors blocked the garage doors for over two hours on Thursday at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office located in downtown Milwaukee. The protesters, members of a group known as Voces de la Frontera (Voices of the Frontier), were acting in response to recent immigration raids that took place in Wisconsin's largest city, in which 49 individuals were arrested and now face legal action including deportation.
Though city officials and members of ICE have insisted that the individuals who were arrested all were criminals of a dangerous nature, the protesters maintain that many of those now facing deportation were guilty only of entering the country illegally. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, who serves as the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, stated that the protest had much more to do with prohibiting ICE from carrying out more raids than reacting to the ones that had already transpired.
"This is a pragmatic action, not a symbolic one," Neumann-Ortiz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."We're literally shutting down ICE."
This protest comes not only in response to the immigration raids in Milwaukee, but also as part of a larger campaign known as "Not One More." The Not One More campaign has been organized by the National Day Labor Organizing Network to protest deportation as the comprehensive immigration reform bill in front of the House of Representatives continues to be stalled. This organization, among many others, has been putting pressure on President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to force that comprehensive reform bill into law.
Representatives from ICE maintained that the earlier raids were targeted at improving safety in Milwaukee and nothing more. Ricardo Wong, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, reiterated this sentiment when speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"[the removal of criminal immigrants from Milwaukee] has an immediate and tangible impact on our communities," Wong told the source. "By focusing our resources on the most egregious offenders, we ensure the very best use of our resources while immediately improving public safety in our neighborhoods."
Wed, Jun 18 4:09 PM by Romona Paden
As the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed last year by the Senate has stalled in the House of Representatives, criticism centering on border security has arisen from opponents of reform. Due to a combination of factors including increased gang violence and poor economies in their home countries, unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children have crossed into America. Many of these children have also cited hearing rumors in Central America that changes in U.S. policy would now allow for children to stay in America indefinitely. To offer perspective, 13,625 unaccompanied children came across the border in the 2012 fiscal year. At this point in 2014, over 42,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have already entered the U.S. This represents a tripling in figures since 2012, and there appears to be no sign of the numbers thinning anytime soon.
While the majority of this effect is being felt in the Southwest, the children are entering the country in such vast numbers that the effect is now being felt as far north as New York City. Process for dealing with most of these children, so far, has been to detain them briefly until relatives in America can be located. Once the geography of their relatives has been determined and the child has been processed by the Department of Homeland Security, they're put on a bus to their relatives' location and instructed to appear at a deportation hearing several weeks later. Naturally, many of these unaccompanied children's relatives live in areas with dense immigrant populations, so a great deal of them are sent to major metropolitan areas such as New York.
There is not yet data available regarding exactly how many of the undocumented children have been sent to New York City. According to Anne Pilsbury, the director of Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, though, the influx has been very noticeable.
"All of a sudden it went from a trickle to more like a river," Pilsbury told The New York Times.
Wed, Jun 18 2:11 PM by Romona Paden
Michelle Obama, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for newly naturalized citizens on Wednesday, spoke to the value of immigration in shaping America as a nation. Her words, no doubt, we're not only intended for the new citizens in attendance, but for a far larger audience.
"In many ways it is because of – not in spite of – our immigrant population that we grow stronger every single day," she said.
President Barack Obama has fallen under fire as of late from both ends of the political spectrum. As more and more unaccompanied children and undocumented immigrants pour across the southern border of the United States than ever before, Republicans have criticized the president's lack of action in securing the borders. Meanwhile, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed through the Senate last year has stalled in the GOP-led House, bringing pressure from the left for Barack Obama to use his executive authority to expedite its passing.
The ceremony being presided over by the First Lady involved the formal granting of citizenship to 50 individuals from over a dozen countries, and took place in the National Archives Rotunda. Standing near copies of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, Michelle Obama reiterated her and her husband's support for immigration reform and attempted to explain the stagnation.
"Today, here in Washington, folks are still debating whether or not to fix our immigration system, even though just about everyone agrees that it is broken," she said as the ceremony drew to a close. "I want you all to know that my husband has made this his top legislative priority because, at the end of the day, this fight isn't just about principles, it's about real people."
Indeed, immigration reform seems to be near (if not at) the top of the presidential agenda. With hundreds of unaccompanied children crossing our borders each day, Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with high-ranking officials in Central America this Friday to discuss possible courses of action.
Tue, Jun 17 11:05 AM by Romona Paden
While the House of Representatives shows no signs of voting on the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed through the Senate last year, a senator from New York is taking matters into his own hands. The "New York is Home" Act, introduced recently by Democratic State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, would grant many of the privileges of citizenship to noncitizen residents, including the right to vote or run in elections at the state, but not federal, level.
In order to qualify for the legal status the act would grant, a noncitizen resident would have to prove that they had lived and paid taxes in New York for at least three years. If an applicant was successful, the legal status they received would also entitle them to Medicaid, professional licensing, eligibility for a driver's license and tuition assistance.
"Nearly 3 million people in the state of New York currently reside here and make New York their home, but can't fully participate in civic, political and economic life," Rivera said.
The bill is ambitious, to say the least. Though several other states have made it possible for noncitizen residents to receive in-state tuition or other tuition assistance, no state has ever attempted to introduce a non federal immigration bill, let alone one this comprehensive. Michael Olivas, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, echoed this sentiment in a statement to Businessweek.
"It's mind boggling," Olivas said. "I don't think there's ever been a serious attempt to codify so many benefits and opportunities."
The bill faces a tough path if it's going to pass. Critics of the proposition have been quick to point out that it violates federal authority over citizenship statutes. However, Peter Markowitz, a professor of law residing in New York who helped draft the bill, insists that the bill is entirely legitimate.
"The very nature of our dual-sovereign federal structure," he told Bloomberg Businessweek, "is that New York gets to decide who are New Yorkers."
Mon, Jun 16 12:06 PM by Romona Paden
Vice President Joe Biden is extending a planned trip to Central America by adding a stop in Guatemala later this week. The move comes in response to the current immigration crisis unfolding across the Southwestern United States, in which the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border has surged exponentially. The additional stop, which will occur Friday, will involve Biden meeting with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as high-ranking officials from Honduras, to discuss what course of action to take regarding the unaccompanied migrant children. These three countries have had some of the highest rates of children crossing into America during the recent rise in immigration.
According to a senior official, " Our [the Obama administration's] top priority is to manage this urgent humanitarian situation. The entire U.S. administration is engaged in addressing the situation, in making sure these children are housed and fed and receive medical treatment, but at the same time also realize the crucial importance of stemming the tide of migration."
Critics of the Obama administration's immigration policy say that it has encouraged the rise in migrants crossing the border by offering a false hope. Programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows amnesty from deportation for immigrant children who pursue education or a military career in the U.S., are frequently cited by critics as overly permissive.
The Obama administration, Biden included, has maintained that this is a misperception, and that the recent spike in immigration can be attributed to the poor economies and violent conditions of many Central American nations. Regardless of the cause, there appears to be no end in sight regarding unaccompanied immigrant children crossing into the U.S. Almost 50,000 children have already been detained by border patrol agents this fiscal year. That number is already more than twice the amount from the past year and it will, in all likelihood, continue to grow.
Mon, Jun 16 11:18 AM by Romona Paden
On June 5 Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne called on the Department of Homeland Security to discontinue its transportation of illegal immigrants from Texas to Arizona, as well as explain the motivation behind its actions. In a letter to the DHS, Horne stated that he would offer federal officials a "reasonable amount of time" to end this practice (or, at least, its involvement with the state of Arizona), but threatened legal action if they refused his request.
For the past two weeks, the DHS has been transporting immigrants apprehended near the Texas-Mexico border to a holding facility in Nogales, Arizona. These actions come in response to a considerable rise in the amount of undocumented individuals crossing into the U.S. from Central America. It has been indicated that the arrangement in Arizona is to be a temporary one until less impermanent living facilities can be opened in the Southwest, but very little regarding the rationale of detaining these individuals has been revealed by DHS.
As federal authorities have continued to transport hundred of families, many of them with children, into Arizona space is running low in holding facilities. Many families have simply been brought to bus stations and told to report to an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days. As these instances have become more frequent, criticism has surfaced regarding a lack of preparation or foresight. In his letter, Horne expressed his concern and demanded something be done as soon as possible.
Horne's letter went on to object to the process of apprehending immigrants and moving them 1200 miles into an entirely different state. He referred to the actions of the DHS as both 'inadvisable and irresponsible', being sure to reemphasize that no explanation had yet been handed down to state authorities.
Though state statute prevents Horne from suing the federal government directly, his office is looking into which course of action would be most effective should the DHS refuse to cease these immigrant transports.
Next Page »
Fri, Jun 13 4:46 PM by Romona Paden
A group of veterans gathered in Washington, D.C., this Thursday to hold a press conference in which they voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform. The group, known as Veterans for Immigration Reform or Vets4Reform, used the conference to present a paper they had collaboratively authored entitled "On the Front Line: Impacts of Immigrants on Military Force Readiness". The paper outlines the powerful and positive effect that immigrant soldiers have had on the United States military, a motive for supporting reform that these individuals have experienced firsthand.
Veterans have come to be one of the most vocal demographics in advocating for an expedited solution to the immigration crisis. This is not entirely surprising once the numbers are brought into consideration. Approximately 12 percent of all living veterans are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and in 2013 65,000 active military personnel were immigrants. Those 65,000 individuals comprised 5 percent of American active enlisted military that year. The founder of Veterans for Immigration Reform, Brett Hunt, blogged on the group's website regarding his take on the matter.
"Those men and women [immigrant soldiers] came from places like Mexico, Honduras and Vietnam and chose to defend our country," wrote Hunt. "They were part of a great tradition that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War of immigrants taking up the charge of defending their adopted homeland. I have a duty to get their back and ensure that our country does right by them."
While Hunt and these veterans are certainly not alone in their support of immigration reform, many suggest that the issue may have hit a wall for the remainder of the year. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who may have been the best chance reform advocates had at pushing the stalled immigration bill through the GOP-led House, lost his primary election this week to Dave Brat, an economics professor from Virginia who has campaigned as staunchly anti-amnesty.