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Peaceful protests pop up to fight anti-immigration sentiment

Wed, Oct 28 3:00 PM by Romona Paden

Plenty of peaceful protests are being carried out by immigration reform supporters across the country.

As the issue of immigration reform continues to be thrust into the national spotlight, supporters of immigration are using peaceful protests to demonstrate their beliefs on matters surrounding the controversial topic.

In North Carolina, proponents of immigration reform gathered outside Gov. Pat McCrory's mansion to show their dissatisfaction with a bill he is expected to sign into law soon. The piece of legislature would essentially make the concept of a sanctuary city illegal in the state of North Carolina. According to the Washington Times, those attending the protest want the bill vetoed by the governor.

In New Orleans, pro-immigration activists participated in a nine-day fast directly across the street from the Federal Appeals Court building. The 13 participants wanted to end the delay in a decision involving President Obama's executive order that would provide deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants, according to New Orleans Public Radio. 

Donald Trump, the leading presidential candidate for the Republican party, has been very outspoken against immigration along his campaign trail. Immigration advocates assembled outside the hotel, where Trump was staying, in preparation for his political rally in Miami. Multiple groups have come together to express their dissatisfaction with Trump's policies, according to Fox News Latino.

Actress Olivia Wilde speaks out against Trump’s immigration views

Tue, Oct 27 1:48 PM by Romona Paden

Actress Olivia Wilde spoke out about immigration following the screening of a new short film about the same issue.

Recently, actor Robert De Niro screened his new short film "Ellis" at a secluded venue in Manhattan. Celebrities like Susan Surandon, Jane Rosenthal and Olivia Wilde made up part of the small group of individuals that were in attendance for the private screening.

The film sheds an unpleasant light around the struggles that immigrants of this country faced while going through the immigration process at Ellis Island. The screening got some, like Olivia Wilde, thinking about the current direction of immigration reform in the U.S. and the politicians on either side of the topic.

"It made me think of the current refugee crisis," Wilde said in an interview with the New York Post's Page Six about the film. "[America] was a beacon of hope for so many…yet some in this country have developed this xenophobia that totally conflicts with what we're based on."

She went on to express her displeasure with the fact that Donald Trump is a legitimate presidential candidate. In fact, she and dozens of other artists and celebrities attempted to convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, to run for president instead by writing her a collective letter, according to Vanity Fair.

Paul Ryan may be good news for immigration reform

Fri, Oct 23 11:51 AM by Romona Paden

Paul Ryan is the front runner to replace Boehner as Speaker of the House.

John Boehner set Oct. 28 as the date that Republicans will pick a candidate to be his successor as Speaker of the House. Earlier this month, Boehner tendered his resignation from the position in a move that surprised many. Now that the position will be vacant, the GOP is attempting to unify its support behind one potential candidate so that when the vote hits the open floor in the House of Representatives, Republicans can dictate who the next Speaker will be.  

Is Paul Ryan up next?
Boehner and other members of the Republican party are confident the Wisconsin Representative and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan will run for the Speaker position. But that doesn't mean that he has the support of everyone in the party. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has his reservations about putting Ryan in such a position.

"I like him very much as a person," Trump said in an interview, according to Bloomberg. "Certainly he has been weak on immigration and I'm very strong on immigration."

In addition, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have endorsed fellow Republican Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida for Speaker of the House. But the door hasn't been shut to other possibilities. Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, for instance, said he'd like to simply talk to Ryan himself before he determines who he will give his support to for the Speaker bid, according to CNN.

Past work with President Obama
The White House feels optimistic about the possibility of Ryan becoming Speaker of the House. They cite his continued work with the current administration on major political issues, including immigration reform. After the last presidential election, Ryan worked on immigration reform and a path to legal citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He also fought to speed up the process for children of undocumented immigrants who attend universities across the country.

"The president believes that Congressman Ryan is someone who has given considerable thought to the significant issues that must be worked through in Congress," announced White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz in a statement, according to Breitbart News Network.

Still deciding
While Paul Ryan appears to be the front runner to replace Boehner, he only wants the position if certain stipulations are met. Ryan's spokesman, Brendan Buck, announced Ryan would only run if he had the support of the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the Tuesday Group, CNN reported.

Ryan wants more unity among representatives in changing rules within the House and more job security as the Speaker. He has maintained that he wants more freedom to have a personal life than Boehner had as well.

Removing the term ‘alien’ from federal laws

Thu, Oct 22 5:04 PM by Romona Paden

A bill has been introduced to remove the term 'alien' from all federal documents.

The term "alien" has taken on a negative connotation over the last few years. With the issue of immigration reform so prevalent in the U.S., immigration-reform advocates are fighting to remove the term from federal documents so as not to offend immigrants.

Castro leads the way
Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, introduced a bill that would effectively remove the term "alien" in any and all federal documents and replace it with the more politically correct term "foreign national." The name of the bill is the Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression Act, also known as the CHANGE act. His argument is that the term is disrespectful to hardworking immigrants who live in and positively contribute to America. The bill has at least 43 cosponsors already, according to The New York Times.

Castro is quick to point out that the use of the term "alien" has been around since 1790 in the form of the Nationalization Act. The main difference is that when the term was introduced in the 1790 bill, an "alien" was the equivalent of a free white person. Now, according to Castro and others, the term has devolved into a negative expression. It's particularly inappropriate given the nature of the beginnings of this country.

"America is a nation of immigrants, yet our federal government continues to use terms that dehumanize and ostracize those in our society who happen to have been born elsewhere," Castro said in a statement.

Trump ignores criticism 
Despite the fact that immigration reform has made its way to center stage in the political arena, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not backing down from what many consider to be offensive views on the issue. His immigration policy proposal features the use of the word "alien," and he has no plans to revise it. Instead, Trump has asserted that he does not have the time to be politically correct.

Not the first time
Castro's bill is not the first of its kind. There have been multiple bills introduced in an effort to remove certain terminology or phrasing from federal law, according to the Latin Post. But this law is the first to focus on words deemed offensive to minority groups, specifically immigrants.

The 21st Century Language Act of 2012 effectively took the word "lunatic" out of the language found in federal documents and records. Rosa's Law, signed into law in 2010, swapped the term "mentally retarded" with "intellectual disabilities."

Bernie Sanders campaign hires immigration reform activist

Thu, Oct 22 2:05 PM by Romona Paden

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders hired immigration reform activist Cesar Vargas.

Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders hired another immigration reform activist, Cesar Vargas, to join his campaign team as he prepares for a run at the oval office. This political move makes sense, given the fact that Sanders has voiced concerns over reaching the Latino population effectively, according to the Huffington Post.

Vargas is an immigration lawyer for undocumented immigrants and a co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition. He has had a successful career in spite of all of the obstacles he's faced as an undocumented immigrant himself. In fact, he's the first undocumented immigrant to pass the bar exam and become authorized to practice law in the state of New York, according to the Latin Post. 

The Dream Action Coalition has since voiced its support for Sanders as the potential next president of the U.S. Members of the group believe that Sanders is very much in tune with the beliefs and future goals of their organization.

"For Dreamers and our community, Sanders is a strong choice," Vargas said in a statement. "He is great on immigration in general, stood with us on the border children and he wants to get the Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and other corporations out of politics."

Immigrants protest lack of movement on Obama’s executive order by fasting

Mon, Oct 19 3:47 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrants are protesting peacefully by fasting to sway judges into making a long-awaited decision.

Immigration activists decided to protest the stalling of President Obama's executive order, which would have given deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. It's a peaceful protest that involves publicly fasting for nine days across the street from 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans. Protesters are intent on convincing the judges to make a decision as soon as possible, because as more time goes by without a ruling, the less likely it becomes that the case will ever make it to the Supreme Court. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., and President Obama's plan would give deportation relief to almost 5 million of them, according to the International Business Times.

Alan Gomez, a Nicaraguan immigrant, is one of the protestors participating in the nine-day long fast.

"I have cousins and uncles and friends who are illegal," Gomez told The Washington Post, "And I am doing this for them and everyone else in that situation."

More delays
When the announcement was first made about a year ago, undocumented immigrants felt a sense of safety they never could under a constant threat of deportation. But over the course of the months following President Obama's proclamation, 26 states filed legal action on the grounds that the President had no legal authority to issue such a declaration to begin with, amounting to no movement in the immigration reform efforts. His initial executive action came on the heels of more inaction by Congress surrounding any kind of immigration reform. The states that brought the suit against Obama's actions also insist the financial burden that would be placed on states after the immigrants gained legal status would be unconstitutional.

The three-judge panel presiding over the case at this stage listened to arguments on July 10, 2015, and were expected to deliver a decision sometime in the following 60 days. It's already been over 100 days with no decision. 

Not a first
This isn't the first time immigrants have used fasting as a form of peaceful protest. In November 2013, advocates of immigration reform staged a 22-day long fast on the National Mall of Washington, D.C., but saw no results from their actions. But despite the failed attempt, immigrant protestors remain optimistic about effort.

"Seeing that anxiousness has been difficult, so I'm fighting for them to have an easier life and to be a role model that they can be proud of," Mayra Jannet Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant, told ThinkProgress.

First Democratic presidential debate puts immigration reform in the spotlight

Wed, Oct 14 3:26 PM by Romona Paden

The first Democratic presidential debate featured the issue of immigration reform.

The first Democratic presidential debate was held in Las Vegas and featured five candidates who are all hoping to get the party's endorsement. Right now, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are ranking highest in preliminary polls to get the nod as the Democratic party's next presidential candidate.

According to the Los Angeles Times, their stances on immigration will have a greater impact in the primary voting than the general election. The Democratic Party seems to be focused on finding a candidate who will poll well among immigrants and minorities, which will translate to a sizeable number of votes in the presidential election. Here's what each of them said on the issue of immigration reform, more specifically as it relates to health-care policies:

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Clinton supports undocumented immigrants being eligible for health care under the Affordable Care Act, but thinks they should not be made eligible for any government subsidies. 

"First of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care … and I want to support states that are expanding healthcare and including undocumented children and others," Clinton said during the debate, as reported by the LA Times. "I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy into the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act."

Bernie Sanders
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders echoed the same sentiments as Clinton. He supports the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to receive health care under the Affordable Care Act so long as they don't receive any subsidies in the process. But unlike Clinton, he was also responsible for fielding questions about his apparent opposition to immigration reform back in 2007, The New York Times reported. He cited economic reasons for his opposition to the immigration efforts on behalf of guest workers.

Immigrants protest peacefully after green card mistake

Tue, Oct 6 1:37 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrants are protesting the unfavorable reversal in policy by sending flowers.

Immigrants are protesting the Department of Homeland Security peacefully to express their dissatisfaction with a recent reversal in government policy that will leave many immigrants, who came to the U.S. for jobs, in legal disarray. To show their frustration, they are delivering flowers with notes venting their opinions. 

In early September, the State Department issued a Visa Bulletin that encouraged visa-holders from China, India, the Philippines and Mexico to proceed with green card filings. But by the end of the month, there was an unexpected reversal in the Visa Bulletin that have left many scratching their heads.

According to CNN, the change in policy will delay almost 50,000 immigrants from filing the paperwork necessary for permanent residency and has already cost families an average of $2,000 to $5,000 each to prepare applications that have now been deemed worthless. Most of the immigrants who are affected are in the U.S. with H-1B visas, the visas awarded to high-skilled workers. 

In addition to the overload of flowers, a class-action lawsuit has been filed by three lawyers against the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry. Many large technology companies (Microsoft, Intel, Google, Hewlett-Packard) wrote a collective letter expressing their dismay with the change in policy and offer their support to immigrants.

Chapel Hill mayor signs letter to encourage immigration reform

Tue, Oct 6 1:11 PM by Romona Paden

The mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, encourages immigration reform that allows refugees into the country.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and 17 other mayors across the country signed a letter to President Obama to request the admittance of more Syrian refugees to the U.S. Mayor Kleinschmidt is a proud member of Cities United for Immigration Action, an organization whose goal is to encourage positive immigration reform in the U.S. 

"I've been active in this organization of mayors who are working closely together to encourage the president to move forward with immigration policy," Kleinschmidt told the University of North Carolina's student publication, The Daily Tar Heel. "It just seems like a good fit for us to respond as well to the refugee crisis."

His warm reception of the Syrian refugees was not echoed by many in the state of North Carolina, however. He received countless letters and emails accusing him of putting both the state and country at risk by encouraging refugee immigration, according to The News & Observer. But Kleinschmidt is confident that the people in his district of Chapel Hill will welcome the refugees with open arms.

President Obama has announced a plan to admit at least 10,000 displaced Syrian refugees next year, according to the source. In their letter, Kleinschmidt and the other mayors who are a part of CUIA praised the President for his actions up to this point and encouraged him to do even more.

Fiorina separates herself from other GOP candidates with Latino voters

Mon, Oct 5 3:34 PM by Romona Paden

Carly Fiorina may have the best chance of the GOP candidates to win over the Latino vote.

Following the initial two GOP presidential debates, ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who didn't even qualify to participate in the first main debate, is showing rising popularity in the early polls. As she fights to catch up with Republican front-runner Donald Trump, her more moderate stance on immigration reform could help her win over the much sought-after Latino vote and give her a leg up on her fellow GOP candidates. 

"Carly Fiorina had a great opportunity tonight,"  David Axelrod, CNN's senior political analyst, said in a statement. "I think she took full advantage of it – she is going to move up in the polls as a result."

And she has. A recent CNN poll shows that Fiorina has leapfrogged Ben Carson into second place behind Donald Trump in the party race for presidential nominee. She currently leads Carson by 1 percent, but trails Trump by 9 percent. 

Her views on immigration are more moderate than her Republican counterparts. She has maintained that the border needs to be better secured and that employer verification is necessary, but also that undocumented immigrants could potentially see a pathway to legal status in this country one day. 

Bernie Sanders supports health care for undocumented immigrants

Mon, Oct 5 2:04 PM by Romona Paden

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has voiced his support for undocumented immigrants receiving ACA health care..

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently announced that he is in support of undocumented immigrants receiving health care via the Affordable Care Act. The Vermont senator made this announcement during a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that is comprised entirely by Democrats. News of this announcement came on the heels of the introduction of a bill that would extend health care to undocumented immigrants.

He was careful to specify that these individuals would be responsible for the payment of their own health care. In other words, he ruled out the possibility of federal subsidizing. 

Political analysts at The Washington Post were quick to point out the implications that an announcement like this one will have in the Democratic primary race. Until recently, fellow Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has enjoyed a large lead over Sanders and other candidates, especially with prospective Latino voters. But Sanders vocal support of this newest bill could help him gain favor with the Hispanic voting population. 

In addition to support of this bill, Sanders also announced that he has hired two Latino activists, Chuck Rocha and Arturo Carmona, to help him better reach the Hispanic population, according to The Washington Post.

Pope defends immigrants in US visit

Mon, Sep 28 5:01 PM by Romona Paden

The Pope supported immigration reform during his trip to the U.S.

When Pope Francis visited the U.S. for the first time near the end of September, he made stops in Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church made history by becoming the first Pope to speak at a joint meeting of Congress. His message was loud and clear: immigrants are people too and should be treated as such.

"We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners," said Francis in his heartfelt speech to Congress. "I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants." 

Timing is everything
Pope Francis is just the latest and biggest name to weigh in on the matter of immigration reform. With so much controversy surrounding immigration reform in the world of politics, the Pope's comments have successfully grabbed the attention of American politicians. Plus, the number of foreign-born U.S. residents is at an all-time high. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 42.4 million Americans were born in another country. Politically speaking, Hispanics will have a large impact on the next presidential election. Forbes reported that almost 12 percent of the eligible voters will be Hispanic, which could realistically have a relevant influence in some states, especially ones that are considered "swing states."  

Trumped again
Although Pope Francis never explicitly mentioned Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump, their two views on the subject of immigration could not be on more opposite ends of the spectrum. Pope Francis's visit clearly had an effect on Trump though. Showing a change in political strategy, Trump backed off from his consistent, incendiary commentary about immigrants. But that doesn't mean the Pope was spared judgment from the GOP lightning rod that is Trump.

"If he is in favor of illegal immigration, he doesn't understand it," Trump said of Pope Francis in an interview with The New York Times. "Nobody has properly explained it to him. And I'm Christian." 

There are almost 70 million Catholics in the U.S., according to Forbes. Whether or not their views align with those of their religious leader will be evident in the results of the next election. 

Boehner’s resignation may prove positive for immigration reform

Mon, Sep 28 3:48 PM by Romona Paden

Boehner's resignation may be positive for immigration reform.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner recently announced his resignation from his position effective at the end of October.

For some time, Boehner had said he would take on the controversial issue of immigration reform. In fact, a little over two years ago, he made a public statement on the issue of immigration reform that would, in the end, result in few policy changes.

He once said in a public vow, "It is time for Congress to act … I believe the House has its job to do, and we will do our job." 

But no meaningful policy changes went into effect during his time in office. Political analysts are quick to point to his party affiliation as the reason he never took any action. In fact, critics attribute the lack of action to a fear of party repercussions toward his political career. There was even a point in time when it seemed as though members of his own party were vying to strip him of his title as Speaker of the House. It's because of this reason that most people in the political arena can't see anything changing anytime soon, especially as a result of any action taken by Boehner, according to MSNBC.

But some people remain optimistic that Boehner will make good on his promises before he leaves his office at the end of October.

"He can allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform to go forward and leave the House knowing he had reopened a vital national dialog with one of his final acts as speaker," Hector Sanchez, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, told NBC News.

However, as MSNBC reported, Boehner doesn't have a bill or a plan set for immigration reform.

Next man (or woman) up
Pro-immigration advocates now have optimism the next speaker could tackle the reform change. A politician who better recognizes the far-reaching implications that the issue of immigration reform has on all facets of the country will be more apt to tackle the issue, according to Fox News Latino. Many political analysts think that Californian Republican Kevin McCarthy (who had been serving as Boehner's chief deputy) will be the man to fill the vacant seat.

The scope of immigration reform continues to extend past civil rights issues. There are enough undocumented immigrants in the American work force that immigration has evolved into an issue involving the economy as well.

Republican debate plays host to more immigration reform

Thu, Sep 17 10:49 AM by Romona Paden

As the race for the White House heats up, so does  the topic of immigration.

The latest GOP presidential debate featured a spirited argument between several front runners for the Republican presidential candidacy. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio took center stage in the national spotlight and fought to win the hearts of conservatives across the country. It was not long before immigration, one of the more polarizing topics in politics, put every other political subject in the background. Each candidate had a different take on the controversial issue.

Donald Trump
Trump has made no effort to hide his strong feelings about immigration. He's made national news headlines by declaring that if he was voted into office, he would do away with birthright citizenship. Taking it a step further, he has said on the record that he intends to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the U.S. already. In the spirit of controversy, Trump called Jeb Bush soft on immigration because his wife, Columba Bush, is a Mexican-American.

Jeb Bush
Bush took a stance that put plenty of distance between him and Trump when he talked about granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants that are here already. It bore a striking resemblance to an old Ronald Reagan speech, and the debate was held at the Reagan Library in California. This more moderate view may very well alienate him from hardcore conservative voters in the primaries, according to commentators.

Ben Carson
Carson took a more moderate approach to the topic of immigration. He said he would support a workers' program that would grant undocumented immigrants permission to work in the U.S. Some analysts think that this may distance him from the more conservative members of his party. Regardless, Carson has seen an increase in support lately, edging closer and closer to the party front runner, Donald Trump.

Carly Fiorina
Fiorina was critical of Democrats, claiming that they had no interest in attempting to solve the issue of immigration. But she didn't stop there. In fact, she was quick to point out the flaws she saw in party-rival Trump's plans to do away with birthright citizenship. "You can't just wave your hands and say the 14th Amendment is going to go away," she said. 

Marco Rubio 
Rubio took a much different approach than the rest of the candidates. It appeared as though he was attempting to connect with the Latino population who might feel alienated from the Republican party, especially as of late. "My grandfather instilled in me the belief that I was blessed to live in the one society in all of human history where even I, the son of a bartender and a maid, could aspire to have anything, and be anything that I was willing to work hard to achieve," he said.

New pro-immigration ad features old Reagan speech

Mon, Sep 14 10:58 AM by Romona Paden

An ad criticizing the Republican stance on immigration reform was released ahead of the upcoming debate.

The National Immigration Forum Action Fund has released a TV commercial criticizing three Republican presidential candidates a few days ahead of the second presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The ad features an old speech from former President Ronald Reagan that called for America to welcome all people into the country. It juxtaposes that speech with the comments of three current GOP presidential candidates who are anti-immigration. Donald Trump, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have all been on record saying they favor an end to birthright citizenship. They and other Republican candidates have been vocal about changing the immigration reform policies of this country.

The ad does an excellent job contrasting the Republican candidates' views on immigration with those of one of the party's most revered former presidents. The commercial specifically compares Donald Trump's remarks to Reagan's ideologies. For example, Trump has proposed that a wall be built along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out the immigrants who are "rapists" and "bringing crime."  Reuters makes the observation that this goes against the views of Reagan, who said, "If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here." These observations were from his farewell speech from the White House in 1989.

This ad will be airing nationally all week leading up to the debate on CNN. In addition, the ad can be seen on MSNBC and Fox News. The debate will include Republican presidential candidates Trump, Walker and Cruz in addition to Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson and will be held in Simi Valley, California. Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post maintains that the ad has a clear message: "Some of today's Republicans strongly disagree with the former president they all say they revere."

Birthright citizenship looks like it’s here to stay

Wed, Sep 9 4:24 PM by Romona Paden

It would take a Constitutional Amendment to lose birthright citizenship.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's bold call to end birthright citizenship has certainly brought the issue of immigration reform to the forefront of the political agenda in the upcoming election. Many of his Republican counterparts agree that immigration policies should at least be more strict. But defenders of birthright citizenship are quick to point to the language of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which awards citizenship to any person born on American territory.

"Conservatives should reject Trump's nativist siren song and reaffirm the legal and policy vitality of one of the Republican Party's greatest achievements: the 14th Amendment," David Rivkin and John Yoo wrote for the Los Angeles Times. 

Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr thinks that the law will be on the books (as it reads now) for the foreseeable future.

"Some people believe that they could simply pass a statue to end birthright citizenship without having to amend the Constitution, but I think that most legal scholars believe that a constitutional amendment is required," he told Rebecca Kaplan of CBS News.

He and other scholars argue that by removing the opportunity for children of undocumented immigrants to become citizens, it becomes far less likely that they will assimilate to America at all because they will have few, if any, ties to the country. Without an amendment to the Constitution, birthright citizenship is here to stay.

Clinton supports a positive immigration reform

Tue, Sep 8 4:42 PM by Romona Paden

Hillary Clinton wants to see a positive kind of immigration reform.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in support of positive immigration reform. She feels so strongly on the subject because it would help workers in that they would no longer have to compete with people who can be taken advantage of due to their undocumented status in this country. The more legitimate the work force becomes, the less there is to worry about for workers and employers alike.

"If you're an undocumented worker, you can be paid less, you can be exploited, and jobs can be taken away from others," Clinton said in an interview with the Des Moines Registrar recently. These comments come on the heels of Clinton losing ground in the primary race to fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders, a more liberal senator from Vermont.

She repeatedly spoke out against the Republican field, whose stance on the matter of immigration is essentially the exact opposite. In fact, she mentioned the policy of the Republican front-runner Donald Trump specifically, who claims he will rid the U.S. of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants but has yet to offer any details to his plan.

"I'm going to be pressing for specifics, because there aren't specifics," Clinton said. "This is just the kind of political rhetoric that doesn't belong in our election." She is insistent that she will continue to press Trump and others for answers on behalf of immigrants and voters everywhere while she remains steadfast in her position that aligns very much with President Obama's. According to the Washington Post, Clinton claims to want to "fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship."

Majority of U.S. citizens favor citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Thu, Sep 3 10:49 AM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform is gaining support.

According to a recent poll conducted by research company Gallup, about two in three American citizens support a plan to grant undocumented immigrants the opportunity to become U.S. citizens provided they adhere to certain stipulations over time. According to the same survey, considerably fewer Americans are agree with allowing immigrants to stay for a limited time to work (14 percent) or deporting them back to their home countries (19 percent). 

A major divide in opinion can be observed when differentiating the political party affiliations of the poll subjects. In fact, 80 percent of Democrats favor the undocumented immigrants becoming citizens, while only 50 percent of Republicans support a path to citizenship. Some Republicans take this stance even further.

"Thirty-one percent of Republicans want to see all illegal immigrants deported, while 18 percent favor allowing them to stay for a limited time to work," reports Jeffrey M. Jones of Gallup. 

Neither party has altered its view drastically in the last decade, but recent Republican presidential candidates seem to be taking their views on the controversial issue to the extreme. Donald Trump has proposed a mass deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants that wold cost almost $500 billion. In addition, Chris Christie suggested tracking non-citizens of the U.S. with bar code chips to monitor their movements.

Regardless of the stances of political leaders, the majority of average American citizens are in support of helping undocumented immigrants make the transition to becoming U.S. citizens. 

Immigration reform key to agricultural economy

Wed, Sep 2 12:40 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform is essential for a strong agriculture economy.

Immigration reform is quickly turning into a polarizing issue in the political realm. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently made brash comments about undocumented immigrants that have gotten much attention in the news. His comments have also been met with staunch opposition from many, especially farmers, who realize that there are so many far-reaching economic consequences to the outcome of immigration reform in this country. 

As Mike Wilson of Farm Futures writes, "Without immigration reform, the loss [of] farm workers could ripple through the entire ag-based economy with potentially long-term negative effects."

California, one of the most agriculturally reliant state economies in the United States, serves as an excellent example of what could happen without immigrant workers. Many growers who are unable to find a steady influx of workers are being forced to switch to less labor-intensive row crops. As a result, farmers grow far less fresh produce and the larger productions are instead shifting to other countries.

Kristi Boswell, director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau, believes that there are two approaches that immigration reform must take. The first is to protect current workers because so many farms rely on experienced workers to operate efficiently. The second is for the government to change the agricultural guest worker program. So many workers are forced to cross the border illegally to fill open jobs because there is no legal way to do it. "At the end of the day, farmers want a legal, affordable, reliable workforce," Ryan Findlay, industry relations lead for Syngenta, asserted. "The quicker the better. Agriculture needs this now," he said in an interview with Farm Futures.

Trump on immigration exposes GOP gap

Fri, Aug 28 10:55 AM by Romona Paden

Campaigning will require appealing to all demographics in 2016, which the GOP may have a hard time doing if Trump's immigration rhetoric reigns.

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.

Pew Research Center polls Americans on undocumented immigration

Tue, Aug 25 10:03 AM by Romona Paden

Polls from the Pew Research Center shed light on what Americans believe about immigration.

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.

Pope Francis expected to address immigration during DC visit

Fri, Aug 21 1:54 PM by Romona Paden

The Pope will soon address Congress.

Immigration reform advocates have addressed Congress before, and continue to do so in large numbers. Soon, Congress will be addressed by Pope Francis, and the hope is that his message will spread far beyond Capitol Hill. On September 24, the Pope will speak to Congress. Two days later, he will hold a meeting with immigrant and Hispanic families in Philadelphia.

Many expect Pope Francis to address immigration reform because the catechism of the Catholic church reads, "more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood, which he cannot find in his country of origin."

There are many Catholic people in Congress, and some immigration reform advocates hope they will respond best to a message about the topic from the Pope himself.

The Pope has previously made his stance on immigration and the treatment of the poor and indigent very clear, and many hope that an address directly to Congress will reinforce those teachings to lawmakers who have the power to take action on them.

Trump’s immigration plan may bring further policy from other candidates

Wed, Aug 19 1:51 PM by Romona Paden

Candidates are being prompted by Trump's immigration plan to disclose their own.

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.

CA to drop word “alien” from labor code

Tue, Aug 11 9:56 AM by Romona Paden

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill to remove the word "alien" from California's labor codes, according to The LA Times.

"Alien is now commonly considered a derogatory term for a foreign-born person and has very negative connotations," Sen. Tony Mendoza told the Times. "The United States is a country of immigrants who not only form an integral part of our culture and society, but are also critical contributors to our economic success."

This bill is one of three that will take effect in the new calendar year. The other two will allow noncitizen high school students to work election polls and will protect immigrants who are minors in civil lawsuits. The first will allow students 16 and older who are legal permanent residents to work the polls, largely to improve access to translation services for voters. The second will bar courts from considering a child's immigrant status in any civil case involving liability.

Gov. Brown's approval of these bills marks further immigration reform in California, a state that has recently been making headlines for its immigration policies and that contends with this issue on a continuous basis.

First GOP debate expected to feature immigration

Thu, Aug 6 10:26 AM by Romona Paden

The first GOP presidential candidate debate is expected to touch on immigration.

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.

Republican debate preview focuses on immigration

Tue, Aug 4 10:56 AM by Romona Paden

GOP presidential hopefuls debated immigration in New Hampshire.

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.

Family detention centers sites of mistreatment, lawyers say

Thu, Jul 30 1:42 PM by Romona Paden

A group of lawyers has written a letter outlining abuses at ICE family detention facilities.

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.

New CA law allows broader access to professional licenses

Wed, Jul 29 1:31 PM by Romona Paden

Many professional boards, including the one governing cosmetology, have already begun to comply with the new law.

A new law, introduced in California as SB 1159, will require the 39 licensing boards of the California Department of Consumer Affairs to accept federal taxpayer ID numbers instead of Social Security numbers as proof of identification by 2016. This means undocumented immigrants, who do not have access to Social Security numbers, will be able to apply for professional licenses in the state. This includes professions like accounting, therapy, speech and language pathology and more.

Some of the licensing boards have already made the move to use federal taxpayer identification numbers, including the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. This has had a huge impact on the lives of immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers and who would like to work as stylists or barbers. Other boards that have taken the new guidance and acted on it immediately include those that license boxers, financial advisers, geologists, osteopaths and appliance repair technicians.

Critics are concerned these measures exist only as another way for state lawmakers to get around legislation preventing undocumented immigrants from working, but many people's lives are already changing as a result of SB 1159. It represents another step in state-level immigration reform.

ICE to limit use of family detention centers

Tue, Jul 28 11:28 AM by Romona Paden

A federal judge ruled it is in violation of an earlier settlement to hold children in detention centers.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California ruled the U.S. Department of Justice is violating a court settlement from 18 years ago prohibiting the detention of children. This ruling upholds one U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee made in April, and follows Gee asking the two sides for a settlement, which they failed to give, according to The Associated Press.

There was a settlement in 1997 that prohibited anyone from holding immigrant children in unlicensed and secure facilities, which Gee found covers all children in federal immigration custody, even if they have been placed with their parents. Immigration advocates hail this as an important step forward in immigration reform.

"They are holding children in unsafe facilities, it's that simple," Peter Schey, one of the attorneys who brought the suit and an executive director of the Center for Human Rights, told the AP. "It's intolerable, it's inhumane, and it needs to end, and end sooner rather than later."

What this ruling will mean for children currently held in family detention centers remains to be seen, according to the source, but moving forward, immigrant children will not be held in this way unless in extraordinary circumstances.

Most undocumented immigrants not the target of enforcement

Mon, Jul 27 1:46 PM by Romona Paden

New immigration enforcement directives mean most undocumented immigrants are relatively safe from deportation.

A report from the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group, found up to 87 percent of undocumented immigrants would likely be able to stay in the U.S. under new immigration enforcement programs. Immigration reform has been a hot topic, and many aspects of the Obama administration's plans in this area have been contested. However, the new Priority Enforcement Program is underway and focuses on people who are a danger to national security or who have recently crossed the border illegally. People who have been in the U.S. for some time and are established here are likely to be able to remain, according to The New York Times.

"The new priorities focus more precisely and narrowly on people convicted of crimes and public safety threats," Marc Rosenblum, the report's author and the deputy director of the U.S. immigration policy program at the Migration Policy Institute, told the source. If everything goes according to plan, "immigrants who have long been living in the U.S. and are not committing crimes will receive a degree of protection and likely will not be facing deportation," Rosenblum added.

Texas allegedly denies birth certificates to U.S.-born children

Mon, Jul 20 1:44 PM by Romona Paden

Some children are said to have been denied birth certificates in Texas because of their parents' immigration status.

Children born in the United States are by law entitled to U.S. citizenship, regardless of whether their parents are citizens. However, Texas is allegedly erecting very high barriers to undocumented immigrants looking to get birth certificates for their children. There is a lawsuit in Texas, filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin, addressing this issue.

"As a result of this situation, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of parents from Mexico and Central America have recently been denied birth certificates for their Texas-born children," the suit reads.

The issue at the heart of the matter is a state policy that says state registrars can't accept identification cards given to foreign nationals by consulates as a form of identification when processing birth certificates. This policy means many undocumented immigrants do not have any identification that registrars will accept as valid when they seek to get U.S. birth certificates for their U.S.-born children.

Advocates say this policy has been enforced much more harshly since 2013, when more efforts toward immigration reform began to come from the White House. Some immigration reform plans would have the parents of U.S.-born children protected from deportation.

Recommendations to update immigration process revealed

Thu, Jul 16 11:35 AM by Romona Paden

A task force has suggested ways to make immigration processes digital.

As part of his efforts toward immigration reform, President Barack Obama called for federal agencies to begin to make the process of applying for a visa more modern and digitized. Currently, applying for a green card, visa or other necessary immigration document involves many steps and a lot of paper. A task force convened on this issue recently released its report, "Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century," and has quite a few recommendations for how the process could change.

The group followed applicants looking to get their visas for several months, according to WIRED. An official who spoke with the source said the legwork involved was daunting. "As a group of technologists, that stuff just killed us. It's insane we would do that in 2015. We invented these things called computers," the official said.

In place of the paperwork-heavy system now operating, the group recommended a few key changes. First among them was allowing applicants to pay all fees at once rather than having them pay out small amounts over time. Another key change would involve tailoring the application experience to the user – the needs of a permanent resident seeking citizenship are different than those of a student from abroad looking to come to the U.S. to complete his or her studies, and any digital system should reflect that.

Crime and immigration

Wed, Jul 15 12:29 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrants are actually less likely to be incarcerated than U.S. natives, despite recent news coverage.

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.

California considering work permits for undocumented farmworkers

Mon, Jul 13 2:39 PM by Romona Paden

A new California bill would let agricultural laborers already in the country obtain work permits.

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.

Immigration activists rally at 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals

Fri, Jul 10 9:36 AM by Romona Paden

Demonstrators for immigration reform are outside the court as a hearing proceeds on Obama's executive actions.

As a hearing takes place inside the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding President Barack Obama's executive action on administration, many protestors and demonstrators are standing outside. Twenty-six states are trying to sue to stop the president's executive actions, and activists are there to ensure their voices are heard, and to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans programs that could keep many immigrants from being deported and give them a chance to work.

"We can't wait to secure DAPA in the courts while ICE is on our doorsteps every day," Fernando Lopez, an organizer who works with the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice Congress of Day Laborers, said, according to NBC. "The president took action because undocumented workers and families took brave action in the streets."

The states challenging the president's executive actions on immigration believe he has overstepped his authority. The administration, however, has clarified that the programs are meant to ensure the limited resources it has for immigration enforcement focus on people who are threats to safety and security.

The decision in this case could take months, according to NBC, and it will likely lead to an appeal no matter what is decided. Furthermore, the topic of immigration reform will almost certainly be with us throughout the 2016 presidential election.

Immigration deadlines can be extended

Tue, Jun 16 1:13 AM by Romona Paden

The supreme court has ruled for appellate courts to be able to extend immigration deadlines.

Proponents of immigration reform experienced a victory on Monday, June 15, as the Supreme Court ruled to allow the extension of various deadlines pertaining to residency statuses for undocumented individuals living in the United States. Specifically, the ruling bolsters the ability of the various United States appellate courts to intervene in such matters by extending deadlines for individuals who have received subpar representation from their legal counsel. While the repercussions of the ruling remain to be seen, it's fair to assume that this new precedent could work in tandem with president Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration reform.

According to the Latin Post, the case stemmed from the trial of Noel Reyes Mata. Mata was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, and was subsequently sentenced to deportation from the U.S. Following his sentencing, Mata had intended to appeal the ruling through the Board of Immigration Appeals, or B.I.A. Regrettably, Mata's attorneys failed to take the proper action. As they did not file the appropriate appellate paperwork in a timely manner, Mata was faced with deportation without recourse. His case eventually went to the Supreme Court, which handed down the ruling on Monday.

"The motion was passed by a final vote of 8-1"

According to Jurist, the opinion from the Supreme Court was arrived at nearly unanimously, with a final tally of an 8-1 vote. The only dissenting opinion came from justice Clarence Thomas, who did not support the extension of immigration-related court proceedings for undocumented immigrants currently residing stateside. The ruling follows in the footsteps of countless other U.S. Supreme Court rulings, making ineffective counsel an appropriate reason to open a court case related to immigration matters.

Scrutiny forming over migrant detention centers

Tue, Jun 9 5:02 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration detention centers have come under scrutiny as of late.

Regardless of where you sit on the topic of comprehensive immigration reform, you've more than likely heard about the detention centers that have been popping up across the Southwestern U.S. over the past few years. These centers are intended to serve the purpose of housing undocumented immigrants who enter the country and have nowhere to go while their paperwork is being processed. According to the Los Angeles Times, though, the centers have filled up far more quickly than was expected, predominantly with mothers and their children or unaccompanied youth immigrants. As several news outlets have reported, pressure is beginning to mount within a number of social groups to demand the release of these individuals and the closing of the centers.

Reaching capacity
One of the primary problems with the detention centers, according to the various groups lobbying for their closure, is that they are unsuited to fit the growing demands of shelter and food for these immigrants. For example, the LA Times has indicated that most undocumented immigrants who are detained are brought to one of three centers, which are spread throughout the southwestern states near the U.S.-Mexico border. The same source has reported that there were at least 600 individual families being held as of this week. Many of the centers were designed to hold fewer families, and for less lengthy periods of time. According to multiple outlets, the unexpected volume of residents and length of stay has led to sub par care.

"Most detained immigrants are brought to one of three centers."

According to the San Angelo Standard Times, the overcrowding and expense at these centers has caught the attention of not only several humans rights groups, but also of the federal government. Apparently, over 160 U.S. Representatives and Senators have issued a public statement calling for the immediate shutdown of the facilities in question. This federal action mirrors moves being made to do the same in California. In that state, the same source has reported, a federal judge has explained that housing immigrant children in secure facilities is actually in place of a law decided upon nearly two decades ago. Though the centers are still up and running as of June 9, 2015, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has responded to the press by stating that they are working on improving the living conditions for all immigrants housed there.

Moving forward
While it cannot be said with any certainty exactly what will come of these detention centers, it seems fair to assume that a change may be brewing. Immigration reform remains an extremely hot button topic as we move closer and closer to the 2016 presidential election, and candidates seem extremely split on their stances. In the meantime, President Barack Obama and his administration are continuing to attempt to uphold his executive action on reform from earlier in the year.

Immigrant bail law denied by SCOTUS

Mon, Jun 1 4:49 PM by Romona Paden

An Arizona immigration law has been struck down by SCOTUS.

Advocates of comprehensive immigration reform received some good news this week in the form of the Supreme Court of the United States striking down an Arizona amendment that it labeled as unjust. According to USA Today, the amendment in question served to deny bail to undocumented immigrants arrested in Arizona on serious felony charges. Considering the implication of bail, had the amendment maintained in law it would mean that undocumented immigrants could spend unspecified lengths of time in jail awaiting trial. While reactions to the ruling have been divided, advocates of reform seem to believe that it is a strong step to giving undocumented immigrants in Arizona a fairer shake in the legal system.

"The law denied bail to undocumented immigrants with felony charges."

The amendment
The amendment in question first passed into law in 2006. It was met with challenges almost immediately from a range of conscientious objectors. Ultimately, the law was labeled as unconstitutional by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October of 2014, according to Yahoo. Following disagreements over that ruling, the amendment eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where its fate was decided on Monday, June 1, 2015.

While the banning of the amendment has been well received among advocates of immigration reform, it may not meet as much welcome in its state of origin. When the amendment to Arizona's state constitution was first approved, it was voted on by nearly 80 percent of voters. In a statement to Yahoo, the American Civil Liberties Union was quick to point out that the law was the only one of its kind and that it allowed for "a categorical prohibition on bail that applies to hundreds of charged felony offenses, including nonviolent offenses that often result in noncustodial sentences."

Nebraska final state to pass driver’s license law

Sun, May 31 3:27 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrants can now receive driver's licenses in Nebraska.

With immigration reform heating up as a primary topic for the upcoming presidential election, it might be fair to say that states are beginning to feel more pressure to develop new policies. That seemed evident this past week, as Nebraska became the final state in the country to pass legislation allowing "Dreamers" to receive driver's licenses. "Dreamers," a term developed after President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration came to the forefront of the news a year ago, refers to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and have spent most of their lives here. This legislation should serve as a boon to these individuals residing in Nebraska, as it will enable them to integrate more readily and meaningfully into the workforce, providing a better life.

The bill
According to The Latin Post, the bill in question is known as LB 63, and outlines a number of measures for undocumented immigrants in Nebraska. Most predominantly, it grants these individuals the right to receive a driver's license. Expectedly, the bill requires that any immigrant applying for a driver's license qualify for one through the normal channels, such as passing a driving test after a requisite period with a learner's permit. Interestingly enough, the bill had actually passed once before in Nebraska. Multiple sources have reported that the bill first went through the state legislature successfully last week. Before it was able to be put into practice, though, it was canceled by an executive veto from Nebraska Governor Pete Rickett.

The veto
The veto that Governor Rickett passed down last week on to the bill did not come as a surprise to many individuals. Rickett is a steadfast Republican and has not been known for flexibility on matters pertaining to immigration reform. Expectedly, though, the state legislature did not take the veto quietly. Following protests from undocumented immigrants and supporters of comprehensive immigration reform alike, Nebraska lawmakers voted to override Rickett's decision. According to Thinkprogress, support for the bill passing was overwhelming, with the veto ultimately being overridden by a margin of 34-10. Largely, the decision was driven by the notion that undocumented immigrants cannot contribute to the workforce nearly as effectively without a driver's license. This is an issue of particular importance in Nebraska, where the rural geography means that many people must travel a considerable distance each day from their homes to their places of employment.

Impact and response
Largely, response to the decision has been positive in Nebraska. As the final vote to override Rickett's veto implies, support for immigration reform is strong and getting stronger in the state, and this move will serve as a benefit to that campaign. While it remains to be seen exactly how the bill will manifest in practice, Nebraska follows behind every other state in America in this decision. As of yet, there haven't been major consequences in any states that have passed it.

California passes anti immigration-fraud bill

Fri, May 29 5:13 PM by Romona Paden

Bill to protect immigrants passed in California.

Following in the footsteps of New York State, California has made headlines in immigration reform this week by passing an anti immigration fraud bill. According to San Diego State University affiliate KPBS, the bill passed through the California General Assembly and received approval on Thursday, May 28 and should take effect immediately. Immigration fraud has become a pronounced problem as of late, appearing predominantly in areas close to the border shared by America and Mexico as well as metropolitan centers. Take a look at some of the details about the bill, immigration fraud, and what Californians can expect moving forward:

The bill
The Sacramento Business Journal has reported that the legislation is known as Assembly Bill 60 and was penned and authored by Loretta Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a Democrat who resides in San Diego, received little opposition to the bill, as it passed the General Assembly by a unanimous vote. Effectively, the bill is set to target lawyers who have offered shady or uncertain services to undocumented immigrants currently living in America. These individuals have fallen prey to attorneys offering false services, which claim to expedite the naturalization process. In speaking with KPBS, Gonzalez offered a brief but poignant summary of the main goals of the bill.

"Despite the disappointing lack of progress in Congress towards finally addressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform, California is now ready to crack down on those who would try to deceitfully profit from uncertainty amid the ongoing immigration process," said Gonzalez.

Relation to Obama's actions
Immigration services fraud may have been a problem in America already, but it has risen to new heights with president Barack Obama's announcement of comprehensive immigration reform. The president's executive action on immigration reform, which is currently being blocked by a federal judge in Texas, would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived here as Children, to apply for citizenship and work permits. This has caused an issue in that predatory lawyers have begun to offer services where they promise these immigrants an expedited review process when the blocking in Texas is lifted. In many cases, the services require that the undocumented immigrants in question pay the firm upfront and then come back later. More often than not, these immigrants are left with less money and the lawyers simply disappear. This bill is, in short, an effort to protect these individuals from fraud and fiscal damages while president Obama's executive orders are sorted out.

Earlier actions
While this bill is certainly a step forward when it comes to protecting undocumented immigrants residing in California, it's far from the first action that has been taken on the matter. The Sacramento Business Journal has also reported that the State Bar of California issued formal warnings about these manipulative practices last year. Though those warnings came shortly after Obama's executive actions, immigration fraud services have persisted as a problem.

Conservatives threaten defense bill over immigration proposal

Thu, May 7 4:48 PM by Romona Paden

Controversy is brewing over whether or not immigrants should be allowed in the armed forces.

The landscape of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. continues to grow more and more volatile as we inch nearer to the 2016 presidential election. Though we have not yet hit the primaries, tensions are flaring over the issue and it is expected to be one of the most divisive topics as candidates hit the campaign trail. The explosive nature of the topic is currently being evidenced by national lawmakers, as language over a defense bill has drawn threats and dissent from a number of high-profile conservatives. According to U.S. News & World Report, more than 20 conservative lawmakers are threatening to oppose a defense policy bill if its language about immigration isn't changed.

The bill
Multiple sources have reported that the issue the conservatives are taking with the bill has little to do with the defense policy that it outlines. Rather, their protests are stemming from a single non-binding clause buried within the bill itself. According to The Hill, the House Rules Committee recently approved the annual defense policy bill, a document that provides a high-level overview of upcoming changes and practices within the American military for the upcoming year. Within that bill this year was a clause which, simply put, would allow for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as young children to serve in the military once they reached the age of 18 and assuming they met the usual requirements.

The objections
The dissenting party is comprised of 25 conservative lawmakers, none more high-profile than Mo Brooks, a Republican congressman from Alabama, who is leading the group. In short, the group of conservative representatives feels that the amendment, which was initially proposed to the bill by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., contradicts prior votes which have labeled President Barack Obama's executive actions unconstitutional. Largely, these individuals are at odds with the president's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan, or DACA, which allows work permits to be granted to childhood arrival immigrants. Led by Brooks, these individuals have authored a letter to Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee Chairman, insinuating that they will block passage of the bill if this clause is not removed.

It's worth noting that in the bill at hand, all that is proposed is that the Secretary of the Defense Department consider allowing immigrants to join the armed forces. An explicit policy change is never mandated.

"An explicit policy change is never mandated in the bill."

Nonetheless, Brooks and his group of conservatives are showing no signs of slowing down, labeling the proposed legislation unconstitutional. In their letter, which was reported on by The Hill, that group summated this viewpoint clearly:

"[The clause is not aligned with the Chamber's] previous position and is a severe threat to passage. Especially in this time of increased terrorism, our national security should not be threatened by allowing such controversial language on a program we have rejected three times as unconstitutional," the letter read.

Decrease shown in border apprehensions

Wed, Apr 29 1:25 PM by Romona Paden

A decrease in apprehensions has been shown at the Southern border.

Immigration remains one of the most volatile political topics in the U.S. as we draw nearer and nearer to the primaries for the 2016 presidential election. Advocates of reform maintain that the only way to resolve the issue is to offer an expedited path to American citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing stateside. Meanwhile, those who oppose reform believe that president Barack Obama's administration is not doing enough to secure the border and promote heightened domestic security. These individuals are spearheaded by a group of governors from 26 states who have filed a federal lawsuit in Texas challenging Obama's executive actions on immigration. While it is yet to be revealed how that will turn out, a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security has indicated a drastic decrease in the number of undocumented immigrants being apprehended at the border in contrast to last year.

The report
According to The Latin Post, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, provided the report last week as part of an ongoing update on the immigration situation in America. The report itself focused largely on changes that have been made to security at the border, including the adoption and use of new technologies as well as an increase in border patrol personnel. Speaking in front of the House Appropriations Committee, Johnson explained a drastic drop in apprehensions taking place at the border.

"During the first six months of the fiscal year 2015, the number of total apprehensions along the Southwest border, which is a strong indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally, was 28 percent lower than total apprehensions during the same period in fiscal year 2014. Longer term, border apprehensions in the first six months of fiscal year 2015 are a fraction of what they were 15 years ago, when, in fiscal year 2000, a total of 1.6 million people were apprehended attempting to cross the Southern border," said Johnson.

While adversaries of immigration reform may state that this drop in apprehensions has to do with a lack of effort on the part of border patrol members, this seems not to the case. According to The Blaze, the decrease likely has to do with efforts on the part of the Obama administration to reduce immigration surges from Central American countries, like those seen in fiscal year 2014, as a whole.

Study finds correlation between middle class income and immigration

Tue, Apr 28 12:46 AM by Romona Paden

A new study has shown a correlation between middle class income rates and immigration.

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.

The findings
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.

Jeb Bush makes bold claims on immigration

Wed, Apr 22 2:42 PM by Romona Paden

What is Jeb Bush's stance on immigration?

Undocumented immigrants currently living within the U.S. and hoping to gain American citizenship are likely paying close attention to the upcoming presidential race. Whoever takes the Oval Office in 2016 will have a great deal of influence over which direction the nation ultimately turns on the hot button issue of comprehensive immigration reform. As it stands now, President Barack Obama has made considerable efforts to use his executive power to pave a clearer, more navigable path for undocumented immigrants to gain protection from deportation and an eventual path to citizenship. While he has received overwhelming support from the Democratic party regarding this stance, many Republicans are strongly opposed to his efforts. It seems that this mentality is also held by many of the current Republican presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush. According to The Hill, Bush recently released campaign statements indicating that he would do everything in his power to overturn Obama's executive actions if elected to the presidency.

Bush's comments
Bush, the former governor of Florida, recently appeared on the Michael Medved Show to build support for his presidential bid. While many topics were discussed during his brief television appearance, none seemed to resonate as loudly with Bush as the potential to become more involved with stopping immigration reform. In speaking with Medved, Bush stated that he felt he would be forced to act to overrule Obama's actions if he was elected. According to The Hill, Bush also made clear that there is a distinct possibility that federal courts will override the actions prior to the next president taking the White House in 2016.

"Yes I would [overturn the presidential executive actions on immigration], it's possible that by the time the next president arrives the court will overturn those," Bush said to Medved in his interview.

"This concept of prosecutorial discretion, which is what he's [Obama] used as the basis for these executive orders, is to look at cases on a case by case basis. He's had millions of people basically by the stroke of a pen being given temporary status."

Other action against Obama's executive order
Obviously, advocates of comprehensive immigration reform are staunchly against any overhaul of Obama's proposed actions. While these individuals are providing ample support to the president and his administration regarding this volatile issue, they are not without organized opposition. After ordering comprehensive immigration reform through initiatives such as DAPA and DACA, Obama was quickly met with pushback from a group of republican state leaders. Led by a federal judge in Texas, these individuals have assembled a suit against the presidents actions which is currently being backed by more than 25 states. While it's impossible to know how this action against the president will end, it certainly sets up the next presidential candidate to be walking into an extremely volatile situation when it comes to the nations stance on immigration.

Bush and economic immigration
While Bush seems to have made a strong stance against Obama's proposed overhaul of domestic immigration policies clear, he may not be averse to all aspects of immigration reform. Breitbart has reported that later in the show Bush alluded to a restructuring of immigration that would place a greater focus on immigration policies with a direct and positive economic impact on the nation, or 'economic immigration.'

"If we did that [bipartisan immigration reform aimed at economic stability], we would have high, sustained economic growth, if we did it right. We could control the border, which we need to do, we could narrow family petitioning, expand economic immigrants, I would be a catalyst for high, sustained economic growth, which this country desperately needs," said Bush.

Concerns rising over medical care for youth immigrants

Tue, Apr 21 12:53 AM by Romona Paden

Many immigrants struggle to find proper healthcare and treatment.

Undocumented immigrants currently seeking American citizenship face a number of challenges throughout the naturalization process. In addition to navigating the lengthy process involved with receiving their citizenship, they often find themselves having to do without many basic benefits of citizenship for long periods of time. While some level of this is to be expected, some of these concerns seem to be more pressing than others. According to several recent studies and reports, an absence of access to quality medical care is one of the most frequently experienced difficulties for undocumented immigrant youth in the U.S. Take a look at some of the more prevalent aspects of this problem:

Ohio ranking dead last
While undocumented immigrants all over the U.S. face a struggle when it comes to finding affordable and accessible health insurance or medical care for themselves and their families, not all areas are as bad as others. In fact, it appears that Ohio may be the single worst state when it comes to providing proper medical care and resources for its undocumented immigrant population. According to 91.3 WYSO, a radio station based at Antioch College in Ohio the state was found to be the least well-providing for undocumented immigrants in the entire nation when it comes to health care. This is due largely to the absence of health care, workplace protective policies and higher education regarding personal health and well-being for undocumented immigrants living in that region.

Delays in health care
Though it may be obvious, it's worth considering that many medical concerns require immediate attention from qualified personnel. Further, many ailments that can be suffered unexpectedly or without warning will gradually become worse and more damaging if left untreated over time. Regrettably, that scenario seems to be one that undocumented immigrant youth find themselves in more and more. According to The Kitsap Sun, roughly half of undocumented youth in America have put off or are currently delaying care for a medical condition due to cost or accessibility of treatment.

Moving forward
While it's likely improbable that any one blanket solution can completely rectify the health care system for undocumented immigrant youth, there are currently measures in place to aid these individuals. For example, The Sacramento Bee recently reported that there is currently legislation in front of lawmakers in the state to extend its statewide health insurance marketplace, Covered California, to immigrants. Though this is only one measure taking place in one state, it could be indicative of a growing change in America as immigration continues to be a pressing issue.

New York creates task force to aid immigrants

Thu, Apr 2 4:35 PM by Romona Paden

A new task force has been formed by Bill de Blasio and other New York politicians.

There is a flash of good news today for advocates of comprehensive immigration reform. According to multiple news outlets, several high powered individuals in New York state have begun to put together a program aimed at protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants currently residing there. The Washington Times reported that the state has launched a new task force aimed at keeping predatory parties from taking advantage of immigrants in the area. Formed jointly by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the task force is set to take effect nearly immediately and should have an immensely positive impact on undocumented immigrants in New York.

Effectively, the task force has been established with the purpose of combating private parties and entities that routinely prey on individuals within the immigrant community. According to the New York Daily News, there are an increasing number of fraudulent organizations in the area that target these individuals for financial gain.

"There are an increasing number of fraudulent immigration services organizations."

Essentially, these organizations contact undocumented immigrants who are attempting to gain citizenship through the proper, established channels. The fraudulent organizations then offer false promises of expedited timeframes for citizenship applications, which come at a cost and never materialize. Though rates vary, multiple outlets have indicated that undocumented immigrants are regularly scammed out of amounts varying between several hundred and several thousand dollars.

The task force
The group being put together will harness several individuals, state agencies and parties among the most powerful in New York State. According to Breitbart, the groups leading the task force will be the mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. While the task force will undoubtedly recruit other individuals and private contractors to aid in their efforts, these three parties are slated to undertake the vast majority of the work as the effort begins. In speaking with Breitbart, Schneiderman offered commentary on how this group's efforts will correlate well with President Barack Obama's recent efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.

"As the president's executive action goes into effect, New York is taking the lead to root out fraud against those looking for a better life. Through this strategic partnership, we will hold accountable those who take advantage of vulnerable immigrants and help make the goals of the president's actions a reality for thousands of New Yorkers," said Schneiderman.

Impact and strategy
While the true impact of the task force remains to be seen, it's an extremely promising sign in an area where immigration services fraud runs rampant. Multiple news outlets have indicated that one of the greatest difficulties in prosecuting these fraudulent parties is that they move around frequently to avoid detection, often taking the money of undocumented immigrants with them. This new group intends to make faster, more expedient prosecution and action against these agencies a priority.

Immigration hunger strike taking place

Wed, Apr 1 2:00 PM by Romona Paden

A hunger strike is taking place at a Texas detainment center.

An incredible display of solidarity and bravery is currently taking place at an immigration detainment center near San Antonio, Texas. According to Express News, a group of over 20 undocumented immigrants being held in a detention center in Karnes County, Texas, are refusing to eat until they are granted justice. The women were detained at different points during the incredible immigration surge that took place in 2014, and many of them are said to have been in custody for periods of almost a year at this point. While it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a change in their situation based on this action, this group of women has already attracted the attention of numerous news outlets and advocacy groups.

The strike
It seems that the strike extends beyond hunger, as the women are also refusing to do their assigned workloads each day until they are offered fair treatment. In a letter written in Spanish and released to news outlet ColorLines, the signatures of 78 different women appear beneath the strike pledge. Nonetheless, it has been reported by several other news agencies that it can only be confirmed that 25 are currently taking part in the action. In an interview with The Houston Chronicle, a woman named Kenia who is currently being held at the center (and opted to have her last name omitted) spoke on the matter.

"We will keep refusing food until our demands for release are recognized. We will fight until we are granted our liberty. We're tired of the treatment we're receiving here," said Kenia. "Our children are all losing weight because they've lost their appetites. It's like we're living in a jail."

Reaction by Karnes
The detainment center in Karnes County is run by a private entity known as Geo Group, Inc, according to The Houston Chronicle. While emailed questions to that company from multiple media outlets were not immediately answered, a statement was issued by the Geo Group indicating that it provides the best treatment possible to all undocumented immigrants being held there. The Chronicle printed that statement in a recent article.

"The Karnes County Residential Center provides high quality care in a safe, clean and family friendly environment, and on site U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel provide direct oversight to ensure compliance with ICE's family residential standards. Our company has consistently, strongly denied allegations to the contrary," the statement read.

While the full impact of the hunger and work strike remains to be realized, it could be something of a wake up call for many keeping a close eye on the detainment centers holding undocumented immigrants across the U.S. Over the past months, allegations of mistreatment and improper living conditions have rained down from many advocacy groups as well as the individuals being detained. Meanwhile, how candidates choose to stand on these issues will certainly be a point of leverage in the upcoming presidential election.

Scott Walker changing immigration stance?

Wed, Apr 1 12:41 PM by Romona Paden

Could Scott Walker's immigration policy be changing again?

Wisconsin voters concerned with immigration reform would undoubtedly appreciate a little bit more clarity when it comes to Scott Walker's stance on the issue. The Wisconsin governor has moved back and forth regarding his views on comprehensive immigration reform over the past few years, but never quite as much as since he recently announced his presidential campaign. According to MSNBC, Walker, who has traditionally been staunchly against immigration reform and aligned with the general views of the conservative side of the aisle, recently made some comments to the effect that his stance may be changing.

New Hampshire
The Washington Post has reported that Walker was recently the guest of honor at a dinner party in the state of New Hampshire. The event, which was intended to raise funds for and draw attention to his campaign, took place in New Hampshire because that state will host the first 2016 presidential primary, making it extremely volatile from a political standpoint. Walker spoke to business leaders and other high powered individuals that evening, and he seems to have left many confused regarding his immigration stance. According to multiple sources, Walker stated that he would support a process and path to citizenship for "some" undocumented immigrants, provided they meet certain requirements. While these statements are relatively in line with President Barack Obama's recent executive orders on immigration reform, they are a far cry from the Walker many voters have grown familiar with.

Prior stance
While Walker's comments are far from radical, they are also very much not in line with the image he has projected for years. While it may seem that the primary difference is simply that the presidential candidate is now showing some semblance of support for immigration reform, the difference goes far deeper than that. More clearly, it seems that Walker offering any sort of clear, concise statement on immigration contradicts a career of misleading and confusing immigration moves. For example, MSNBC has reported that Walker has shown support for immigration through voting positively on several measures throughout his tenure as a public servant. In fact, he was documented as recently as 2013 in stating that immigration reform could be beneficial to our country. When he announced his presidential campaign though, he told Fox News that he was against amnesty and that our first priority should be "securing the border."

Reaction from Walker's camp
Needless to say, the governor's comments have caused quite the media flurry as of late. Walker has been somewhat shielded from the public eye since his comments in New Hampshire, but several aides from his campaign have issued statements indicating that he is still anti-immigration reform. In speaking with Vox, a spokesperson for his campaign made this vehemently clear.

"[Walker] does not support citizenship for illegal immigrants," said the spokesperson.

While only time will tell what will come of the presidential race, Scott Walker's comments on immigration may lead to a rocky campaign road for him.

Drivers license ban defeated in Georgia

Tue, Mar 31 11:05 PM by Romona Paden

When all was said and done, the ban on issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants never even came very close to passing into law.

A small victory was recently reached for proponents of immigration reform in Georgia, as the state defeated a ban on the issuing of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The ban first arose in response to the executive order of President Obama to attempt to defer deportation for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. While that order is being appealed after a federal judge in Texas led an injunction to block it, the drivers license victory is not to be overlooked. The increased mobility that will be afforded to these individuals will expand their options in terms of employment, which should help undocumented immigrants lead a more sustainable life in America.

The proposed ban
Initially, the ban was introduced by Sen. Josh McKoon, a republican, according to The International Business Times. McKoon argued that undocumented immigrants were costing the state of Georgia at least $2.4 billion each year. McKoon argued that imposing a ban prohibiting these undocumented individuals from receiving drivers licenses would dissuade more immigrants from coming to America. While his proposed amendment received some traction from other republicans in Georgia's government with similar views, it was ultimately defeated on Monday, March 30. In speaking on the matter, Sen. Nan Orrock, a democrat from Atlanta, said that McKoon's ban was received as foolish by numerous major corporations based in the state, suggesting that these companies do not want their options limited by mobility when it comes to potential employees.

"International corporations who have their North American headquarters here feel this is very ill-advised legislation," Orrock told the Atlanta Business Journal.

The vote
When all was said and done, the ban on issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants never even came close to passing into law. According to multiple sources, the proposed ban was defeated by a vote of 27-16.

"The proposed ban was defeated by a vote of 27-16"

The final vote tally illustrates the fact that many lawmakers in Georgia don't support this kind of discrimination against undocumented immigrants, and feel that those who have deferred amnesty from deportation should receive many of the same benefits as citizens. While there were undoubtedly an entire host of objections to the reasons behind the ban, many lawmakers argued that it was unfair to impose such a stipulation against individuals who were brought here as children and had no say in the matter. Speaking with the Atlanta Business Journal, Sen. Curt Thompson, a democrat from Norcross, summated this viewpoint well.

"This is going after college students and members of the military who are not here because of any action of their own," said Thompson.

While there is still a great deal of legislation up in the air concerning national and state-specific immigration policy, it cannot be denied that this is a considerable step forward. Undocumented immigrants in Georgia will now have the ability to transport themselves and their families legally to work, school and anywhere else they choose to go.

GOP may use tax law in anti-immigration efforts

Mon, Mar 23 4:06 PM by Romona Paden

Republicans may try to use tax law to undermine reform efforts.

Much turmoil has arisen in light of President Barack Obama's recent efforts to bolster the rights of undocumented immigrants seeking American citizenship. While the president's actions have been widely documented in the news over the past few months, it seems that Republicans and dissenting voices in the immigration reform conversation have developed a new strategy against his plan. According to multiple news outlets, the GOP is now hoping to use a piece of tax policy to change the status of undocumented immigrants currently protected from deportation under Obama's immigration actions.

Earned Income Credit
Effectively, the new Republic strategy centers on something called the earned income tax credit (EIC), according to USA Today. The earned income tax credit is designed to account for work that an individual or a family completed in prior tax years, allowing them to gain tax credits for income that does not affect the fiscal year for which they are filing. Republican actions, which are still being formulated by the party, center on passing legislation that would inhibit undocumented immigrants from being able to file for this. Republicans claim that this is centered in a desire to save both state and local governments money. While estimates are not yet entirely clear, the Latin Post reports that the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group, has said that disallowing the 4 million undocumented immigrants protected by Obama's order to file for the EIC would save the government more than $2 billion.

The EIC, of course, only comes into play when one considers the fiscal implications of the president's executive orders on immigration. As multiple news sources have reported, president Obama's immigration actions would allow for many undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive Social Security cards in order to file tax returns. Proponents of immigration reform say that this is a positive step, as it allows for previously undocumented work to benefit the nations tax structure and public works systems. Dissenting voices, though, have argued that in addition to the savings that denying EIC eligibility to these individuals would cause, it may be impossible or extremely difficult for undocumented immigrants to file tax returns for prior years at all. This is due to the fact that undocumented workers are paid off the record. Essentially, in order to prepare their tax returns from prior years, undocumented immigrants would need to be able to put together files and documents proving their total earnings from years when they had no legal status.

Reactions to the news of Republican plans to invoke the EIC in future legislation has been mixed. Obviously, those who support immigration reform feel as though it's a last ditch effort to block Obama's executive actions, but Republicans maintain that the move is strictly motivated by fiscal concern. In speaking with USA Today, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, furthered these thoughts.

"It's just part of correcting what the president has put in place when he legalized people through his November action," said Grassley.

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks out in favor of Obama’s actions

Sun, Mar 15 10:43 PM by Romona Paden

Jerry Brown spoke on the state of reform recently.

Following a meeting with officials from President Barack Obama's administration last Friday, March 13, 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown gave comments in favor of the president's recent actions on the immigration issue. Largely, he spoke in strong favor of Obama's actions, claiming that they were for the betterment of the nation as a whole, and not just that of undocumented immigrants. According to The Sacramento Bee, Gov. Brown had come to Washington to discuss the recent actions of immigration with other state leaders in favor of the reform movement. In speaking with reporters, he made clear that California will continue to advocate for the implementation of Obama's executive orders and the halting of deportation of undocumented immigrants.

The meeting
According to multiple news sources, neither president Obama nor vice president Joe Biden were in town during the meeting. Rather, the event was held in Washington in order to allow a platform for speech on concerns stemming from a recent lawsuit brought forth by leaders from more than 25 states. According to The Washington Times, Texas and 25 other states from the union have filed a lawsuit in federal court attempting to disband Obama's actions to halt deportation. While the lawsuit has gained the backing of a federal judge from The Lone Star State and 26 governors, it is not without it's opposition. The Times has also reported that officials from the Obama Administration have assembled a group of high-ranking political immigration advocates, Brown among them, to ask a federal appeals court to push the orders through.

Brown on the lawsuit
In speaking with reporters, Brown was extremely frank when it came to expressing his opinions on the republican lawsuit. In speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Brown said that the republican opposition to Obama's plan is not only unjust to the undocumented immigrants whom it would primarily affect, but also to advocates of immigration reform everywhere.

"[Republicans are] declaring war with millions of people, not just those who are undocumented, but those who sympathize with them," said Brown.

If the lawsuit isn't successful and the Obama Administration is able to carry out the president's executive orders, the effects would be enormous. Among other provisions, Obama's plan would allow qualifying undocumented immigrants amnesty from deportation for up to three years. Multiple news outlets have reported that nearly 5 million immigrants could benefit from the program as it stands.

Brown on California's role
Brown was sure to focus many of his comments on his home state, California. He indicated that the advanced initiatives that have been put forth by the California government towards immigration reform have been successful, and that this is indicative of how Obama's plan could work on a larger, national scale. The Washington Post reports that over 100,000 drivers licenses have already been issued to undocumented Californians and that no noticeable harm has come to the states economy as a result.

House passes security funding without immigration provisions

Tue, Mar 3 4:43 PM by Romona Paden

The House of Representatives has voted on a 'clean' funding bill for DHS.

In a landmark victory for advocates of immigration reform everywhere, the House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to approve funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the entire fiscal year, according to Reuters. This news comes at an incredibly pivotal moment for immigration reform, as the current amount of funding available for the agency to continue processing applications for deferred deportation was set to expire by midnight on Friday, March 6, 2015. While the bill has not yet been signed into law, President Barack Obama has backed it throughout its legislative journey and indicated that he will sign it as soon as the draft is officially through the House.

The bill
Fox News has reported that the bill passed by a considerable majority, ultimately drawing a tally of 257 votes for to 167 against. The bill itself allocates an incredible sum of money, nearly $40 billion, to the agency, much of which will be used for the processing of applications from undocumented immigrants seeking deferral from deportation processes on their path to American citizenship. In his quest to completely overhaul reform processes, Obama has been working toward making this privilege available to individuals who arrived here from other countries and have since met certain qualifications. Multiple news outlets have indicated that, were the bill not to have passed, DHS would have had to release nearly 15 percent of its workforce, much of which is centralized in the D.C. area.

In order to battle president Obama on the issue, Republicans who opposed the allocation of these DHS funds to immigration reform had been approving one week's worth of funding at a time. This strategy is believed by many to have been intended to allow more time for them to barter with Obama regarding the exact wording and provisions outlined in his new immigration policies. In speaking with Reuters on the matter after the vote's results came through, Indiana Representative Luke Messer, expressed dissatisfaction at this resolution.

"The speaker made the case that he had hoped to continue to fight for three more weeks. Obviously, we didn't win that vote last week, so we are where we are," said Messer. "It's disappointing. I had hoped we'd be able to continue to fight."

Speaker Boehner
The speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-Ohio), has been one of the foremost dissenting voices in the restructuring of funding for DHS and immigration reform. It was believed by many individuals close to the situation that he would continue to fight the funding proposed by the Democrats as long as possible, but he seems to have made something of an about face on Tuesday. Upon realizing that the Democrats would not waver in their efforts to pass the desired funding, USA Today reports that Boehner addressed House Republicans and stated that other threats to the country outweighed the immigration debate in this moment.

"I believe this decision – considering where we are – is the right one for this team and the right one for this country," said Boehner.

Immigration rally underscores reform support

Mon, Mar 2 1:32 PM by Romona Paden

An immigration rally outside of Orlando underscores the current crisis.

As the conversation regarding comprehensive immigration reform continues to heat up, rallies supporting the initiative are becoming more common. This was the case on Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Apopka, Florida, where Bright House News reports that nearly 300 individuals came out to show their support for President Barack Obama's recent executive order on immigration. Among the crowd were undocumented immigrants, residents of the Florida town, politicians and advocates of comprehensive immigration reform. The group met at the Hope Community Center in downtown Apopka and held a peaceful rally including speeches and demonstrations of solidarity.

The rally
Located just north of Orlando, Apopka is no stranger to the face of immigration. The small Florida town is said to be more than 25 percent Latino, Bright House News reported, with many of those individuals being undocumented immigrants. The rally, which featured speeches from two U.S. Representatives, was primarily a sounding board for the Latino community to discuss the opinions and concerns on Obama's executive order. In speaking with a reporter from Fox News, Hugo Chavle indicated that one of the primary benefits of Obama's executive order is that it would ensure children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents wouldn't be separated from them.

"It's not just for the parents or the students," said Chavle. "It's for the kids, they need their parents and their father here."

Chavle was not alone in his sentiments, as Rep. Alan Grayson, D-District 9, explained to the crowd the importance of undocumented immigrants being recognized with the full rights of naturalized citizens.

"They do the work that other people will not do. They should be paying taxes, they should have car insurance when they're on the road," said Grayson. "They should be able to call the police when there's been a crime committed against them."

Potential DHS Shutdown
The rally comes at a pivotal moment in the immigration reform movement, as the Department of Homeland Security faces potential closure due to Republican efforts to halt Obama's executive order. DHS, which processes the applications of undocumented immigrants applying for amnesty, is a vital piece of the immigration reform process and cannot afford to operate without its necessary budget.

As the Washington Post has reported, there is a 'shutdown alert' in effect at DHS, where there is not yet a clear picture of how long the funding will last. Congress recently approved one more week worth of funding, which should carry DHS through roughly March 9th, 2015, but it remains to be seen what will happen after that. There exists a possibility that Republicans will move to cut off partial funding to homeland security, which would halt the immigration reform movement temporarily but would also jeopardize other security efforts. The Washington Post has also noted that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the branch of DHS that processes immigration paperwork, receives more than 90 percent of its budget from application fees of those filing for naturalization. This cash flow might enable the branch to run even in the event of Republican efforts cutting off funding to DHS.

In Miami, Obama makes comments on progress of immigration reform

Thu, Feb 26 3:01 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama recently spoke on the state of reform efforts.

President Barack Obama recently visited Miami, Florida, where he addressed nearly 300 individuals on the current state of his comprehensive immigration reform initiatives. The discussion, which The New York Times reports took place at Florida International University, provided a sounding board for the president to answer questions from members of the nation concerned about the process for gaining American citizenship. While the discussion focused primarily on frustrations surrounding Republican efforts to block the reform movement, Obama's comments covered a wide array of issues.

Efforts made at blocking finances
One of the most detrimental hurdles that the immigration reform initiative has faced up to this point has been the concern of proper financing. In order to process the applications of vast numbers of undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship, the Department of Homeland Security requires a great deal of money to allocate the appropriate staff and resources. According to the New York Times, the current financing available for immigration initiatives within DHS will expire at the end of February unless a bill is passed allowing for it to remain. Throughout his discussion, President Obama maintained a strong resolve that he would veto any attempts to block the necessary funds, which could be great news for supporters of comprehensive immigration reform.

Dissenting voices
The Miami Herald reported that a federal judge in Texas has made efforts to stall Obama's immigration initiatives for as long as possible. In speaking on this matter, Obama was not dissuaded from his reform goal, and he insisted that stalling his plan to allow undocumented immigrants work permits would be an unwise move.

"We have appealed very aggressively, we're going to be as aggressive as we can," Obama said. "In the meantime, what we can say to Republicans is 'Instead of trying to hold hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is so important for our national security, fund that and let's get on with actually passing comprehensive immigration reform.'"

A call to action for immigrants
Obama emphasized the importance of undocumented immigrants seeking work permits to stay the course. Fox News has reported that he encouraged these individuals to ensure that they have all of their necessary paperwork ready to submit when these legal issues are lifted. The idea behind this line of reasoning is believed to be an attempt to hit the ground running when and if the existing blocks on his reform plan are lifted. Particularly, Obama said that it was critical for these individuals to be ready to demonstrate a lengthy residency in the country when the time came to apply for permits. This way, if all of his initiatives end up taking hold, the process of staving off deportation for undocumented workers can begin immediately. 

"People should be gathering up their papers, make sure you can show you are a longstanding resident of the United States," said the president.

Understanding form I-821D for DACA

Fri, Feb 13 2:59 PM by Romona Paden

Learning about form I-821D is easier with these resources.

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.

Large application numbers expected for deportation amnesty program

Wed, Feb 11 3:11 PM by Romona Paden

An incredible amount of applications are expected for Obama's DAPA initiative.

The recently announced immigration initiatives designed by the Obama Administration have several government agencies scrambling to determine how they will cope with what is expected to be an incredibly high volume of deportation amnesty applications. The program in question, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), is aimed at offering alternatives to American citizenship for immigrants who are already in the U.S. and are currently working. It is applicable to individuals who have children here, in that offering these people protection from deportation will allow them to avoid risk of separation from their children.

Concerns over processing
DAPA presents an interesting and unique challenge to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as the agency is going to be accountable for processing all of the applications received from immigrants currently residing within the U.S., according to the Washington Times. While USCIS has always been the main thoroughfare for individuals seeking naturalization or work status within the U.S., the amount of applications expected to be generated by this new act is somewhat unprecedented. In fact, the Los Angeles Times has reported that the agency has claimed that they anticipate roughly 800,000 applications relating to DAPA to come through in the first 90 days of eligibility. Applications to DAPA will begin being accepted on Feb. 18, 2015, and are expected to start processing in May of this year.

Dissenting viewpoints and actions
DAPA has not come without its fair share of naysaying individuals. While supporters and proponents of large-scale immigration reform have voiced their opinions strongly, there have been a number of high-profile moves made to deter DAPA. For example, a federal court in Texas is currently presiding over a case that has been brought against President Obama's DAPA program by more than 25 states in the union. That movement has been led predominantly by high ranking republican officials from each respective state, many of them governors. In speaking with the Los Angeles Times on the matter, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) indicated the opposing viewpoints centered on allocation of resources.

"To carry out his plan [President Obama] will need to move money from lawful enforcement programs of DHS to unlawful policies that undermine enforcement," said Sessions.

Taking action to make DAPA work
While the dissenting voices are certainly being heard, the federal government is wasting no time in attempting to ready themselves for the vast amount of DAPA applications expected. Multiple news sources have indicated that USCIS has begun looking for contractors to work two shifts each day, totaling more than 16 hours, whose sole job would be opening and processing mailed applications. In addition to this, the Obama Administration has leased a nearly 250,000-square-foot complex outside of D.C. in which it intends to build a staff to supplement USCIS's efforts in this matter. The estimated payroll for that group is nearly $40 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Attorney General nominee supports Obama’s immigration reform action

Wed, Jan 28 12:34 PM by Romona Paden

Many have voiced their approval of Obama's immigration decision to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

In November 2014, President Barack Obama announced his plan to provide protection from deportation to some 5 million Americans. His immigration reform decision garnered support from millions of activists and supporters across the nation, and more people continue to voice their approval of the action. The newest name to take the headlines in support of the immigration reform initiative is Loretta Lynch, a nominee for the position of U.S. attorney general.

According to The Associated Press, Lynch expressed her approval of the president's decision during an official hearing on Jan. 29 that confirmed her nomination and candidacy for the attorney general position. She stated that she backs the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to remove "the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us."

"It seems to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem," she said during the confirmation hearing.

Lynch went on to state that, in her position, she would strive to improve the relationship between police and minority groups.

"Few things have pained me more than the recent reports of tension and division between law enforcement and the communities we serve," she said during the hearing. "If confirmed as attorney general, one of my key priorities would be to work to strengthen the vital relationships between our courageous law-enforcement personnel and all the communities we serve."

If Lynch wins the position, she will become the first black woman to serve as attorney general. She will likely be responsible for deciding whether to charge civil-rights violations on the officers who shot and killed two black men: Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Lynch is a shoe in for the position. However, her declaration of support for Obama's immigration reform may present some issues for the nominee. With the Senate comprised largely of republicans, many of which disapprove of the executive decision, she is facing pressure to disavow certain administration priorities, including immigration policy.

But it seems unlikely that Lynch will turn her back to her principles, which may lead to a hold-up in the Senate when time comes to make the decision. With such concerns in mind, Lynch expressed her devotion to working for the betterment of Americans.

"I pledge to all of you and to the American people that I will fulfill my responsibilities with integrity and independence," she said.

Green card arrival allows couple to breathe sigh of relief

Mon, Jan 26 2:39 PM by Romona Paden

A gay couple in Massachusetts have been reunited thanks to the arrival of a green card.

Immigrants living without documentation are generally elated to receive their green cards, as it allows them permanent residency and relief from the constant fear of deportation. But few recognize just how the struggle for a green card affects the lesbian and gay population.

The Boston Globe featured a story on Jan. 5, 2015, telling the story of Tim Coco and Genesio Oliveira, who were married in 2005. The gay couple has not been activists for immigration reform in the past, but they began fighting for change to the U.S. immigration system when it began directly affecting their lives.

After being married, Coco, a resident of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was not allowed to sponsor partner Oliveira, a native of Brazil, for a green card, because the state did not recognize gay marriage. As such, Oliveira was denied asylum and was sent back to Brazil, where he lived for three years.

For years, the two would meet up in other parts of the world. For example, they would spend Christmas in the U.K. But Oliveira was barred from entering the U.S., and he wasn't even allowed to attend the funeral of his husband's mother.

Massachusetts Secretary of State John Kerry made it a personal concern – the former presidential nominee tried for years to help the couple, making phone calls and sending letters on their behalf. He made it possible for Oliveira to temporarily return to the country in 2010. Finally, in 2013, their petition was approved. On Jan. 2, after years battling for permanent residency, Oliveira finally received his green card.

"Sometimes all these big policy debates remind you, it's all just about people," Kerry told the Boston Globe. "If you do what's right for people, the policy has a way of coming around years later. And thank God policy has finally started to catch up with what was so obviously right."

Now, Coco and Oliveira share a home in Haverhill with five dogs. They celebrated the win with a special dinner featuring, for dessert, a cake decorated as a green card. While happy that he finally received permanent residency, Oliveira is still upset about the state of the U.S. immigration system.

"It's a relief now, because now it is the end. Now I'm free," Oliveira told the Boston Globe. "But it's a mixed feeling. I get angry sometimes. It took forever. It was a huge battle to change the history of the United States."

California immigrants to benefit from new laws in 2015

Tue, Dec 30 2:28 AM by Romona Paden

Undocumented immigrants in California will benefit from new laws going into effect in 2015 and beyond.

Support for immigration reform is arguably strongest in California. This only makes sense, as the state is home to the largest number of immigrants in the country – more than 10 million, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. More than 25 percent of its total population was born outside of the U.S. as of 2011, and about 50 percent of all children had at least one immigrant parent.

President Obama's immigration reform executive decision is certainly something to celebrate for this heavily foreign-born state, as undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for temporary protection from deportation as early as spring 2015. But the upcoming year holds plenty of other historic changes to praise, including several new state laws that mean greater freedom and opportunities for unauthorized immigrants. These include:

  • Eligibility to apply for a state driver's license starting Jan. 1, which is expected to draw some 1.4 million eligible new drivers to the department of motor vehicles.
  • Access to affordable car insurance through the California Low Cost Auto Insurance program. Car insurance is necessary to apply for a California driver's license.
  • Development of a new DREAM student loan program through the University of California and California State University systems, which provides financial aid for college to undocumented immigrants who entered the country without authorization or stayed beyond their visa expiration. It's expected to help about 2,500 students attend college.
  • $3 million for legal representation for minors who came to the U.S. without their parents and are facing deportation. This legal aid will be provided by non-profits using state funding.

End of a rocky year for immigration
With the end of 2014 comes the closure of what Senator Kevin de Leon termed "dark chapter in our state's history," according to the Los Angeles Times. With the passage of SB 396 (introduced by Leon) came the repeal of Proposition 187, which denied many public services related to education, health care and legal rights to undocumented immigrants since 1994. As said Joseph Villela, policy and advocacy director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the Orange Country Register, the decades-old erasure of this proposition signified a warm welcome to immigrants and a shift toward unity among all Californians.

"California has done a tremendous job in terms of fully integrating immigrants into our state," Villela said. "And we also closed the ugly chapter that was Prop. 187."

Looking forward to 2016
Not all laws passed in California in 2014 will go into effect in 2015. One such law will allow all residents of the state, regardless of their status, to apply for professional licensure by requiring state licensing boards to accept federal taxpayer identification as an alternative for a Social Security number. That means immigrants who are highly skilled but were once ineligible may fill positions as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, accountants, real estate agents and beauticians. According to the Orange County Register, Senator Ricardo Lara, who sponsored the bill, commends it as a progressive change to benefit all Californians.

"This is about doing right by those individuals who have studied, sacrificed and mastered their professions, but are unable to practice because of their immigration status," Lara said in a statement, according to the Orange County Register. "Our state is stronger when we have qualified, highly skilled workers contributing their talents and tax dollars to advancing our economy."

Will the green card lottery disappear?

Mon, Dec 29 3:21 PM by Romona Paden

The green card lottery accounts for about 5 percent of U.S. immigration.

For years now, there has been speculation concerning the future of the green card lottery, the small program that awards visas (mostly) at random to 55,000 applicants each year. In May 2013, when the debate over immigration policy was particularly heated, The Washington Post speculated that the program might see its demise. That prediction was wrong, as the green card lottery took place again in 2014. But now, with Obama's immigration action about to take effect, concerns about the program are on the rise again.

As Businessweek surmised in December, just weeks after Obama announced his executive decision, the green card lottery may become a casualty to changes in immigration policy. This theory is not just a guess unfounded by proof. As The Wall Street Journal reported in early November, the Senate's immigration bill proposes to end the visa lottery program. While that Senate bill is in "legislative limbo" at the moment, an analyst told the source that, no matter which bill is passed in the end, the green card lottery is likely to die off.

What do critics say?
The argument against the green card lottery lies in the notion that it relies too heavily on luck. Some say that the randomness of the program means that some people are awarded visas who do not deserve them, and that these green cards should go instead to skilled workers in high demand in the U.S.

"A lottery is not a way to run an immigration system," Cornell University immigration professor Dr. Stephen Yale-Loehr told The Wall Street Journal. "It doesn't strengthen family ties, promote our economic interests, or rescue refugees. Congress should abolish the program."

In defense of the green card lottery
On the other side of this dispute, those for the program note that, among the millions of people waiting to obtain a green card, it's almost impossible to predict which people will provide the most value to the country.

"Sometimes you don't know which immigrants will add economic value," the Businessweek article stated. "Case in point: The lottery was largely responsible for America's recent – and successful – African immigration boom."

To highlight this fact, Businessweek showcased the story of Kader Karamon, who won the lottery in 2000 when he was 23. At the time, he was living in Togo in West Africa and felt that he was wasting his life – he had few opportunities, had only a high school diploma and was surrounded by corruption. With no money, skills or family in the U.S., the lottery was his only chance to start a new life.

After arriving, Karamon worked menial jobs to get by until being accepted by the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his bachelor's degree. He left for Paris to earn his master's, but returned to the U.S. to give back to the nation that welcomed him as a citizen.

While Karamon's story may be a rare story, it's proof that the lottery does a great duty with the potential to benefit both the immigrant and the company: giving people who otherwise would not qualify the chance to become valuable American citizens.

USCIS to staff up in light of Obama’s immigration reform decision

Mon, Dec 29 12:42 PM by Romona Paden

USCIS is seeking employees to work in a new center in Arlington, Virginia.

After President Barack Obama announced his executive decision regarding immigration reform – to temporarily protect some 5 million from deportation – undocumented immigrants across the country celebrated the historic success. Now that the news has settled in, it's time to start preparing for the increase in applications from those looking to defer deportation.

According to The New York Times, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is seeking 1,000 new employees to handle cases filed as a result of Obama's executive action regarding immigration reform. These employees will work in an office setting, processing cases for thousands of undocumented immigrants who qualify for deportation protection. The positions being filled include special assistants, management program analysts and immigration services officers. These jobs are full-time, with some being permanent federal positions and others contracted. Depending on the grade level of the position, salaries will range from as low as $34,415 per year for immigration services officers up to $157,000 a year for top-level supervisors.

USCIS will open a new operational center in Crystal City, a community in Arlington, Virginia, to house these workers. The cost to lease the building is expected to cost almost $8 million a year, while the wave of hiring will cost more than $40 million per year for annual salaries. As agency officials told The New York Times, the fees are not yet being collected to cover these costs. The initial salary and lease payments will come from other sources and be replenished once the new program is running smoothly.

USCIS director León Rodríguez stated during a speech in Los Angeles on Dec. 15 that some 5,000 applications for these jobs have already been received. The employees will begin to move into the offices in January and will start accepting applications for immigration deferment as early as spring 2015.

Will USCIS be prepared?
Many immigration reform advocates are praising this call for employees to support the executive action, and the town of Arlington, Virginia, is celebrating the addition of 1,000 jobs to its economy. However, some are concerned about the speed with which the USCIS agency has begun hiring to accommodate the expected rush of applications. As Ken Palinkas, head of the USCIS employees' labor union, told The Washington Times, the process is time-consuming and requires not only background checks but also security checks, in some cases.

"I can't see how they could," Palinkas said. "I think what they're leaning toward is just getting the paperwork done regardless of who does it. You have to vet these people."

Another expert on the subject, Louis D. Crocetti Jr., former head of the USCIS fraud unit before he retired in 2011, claimed that the process to hire and train staff would take around one year.

"I don't see how they could possibly recruit, hire, screen, go through all the national security background checks and train everyone within six months," Crocetti, said. "That would be a very, very steep challenge, one that could only result in consequences of poorly trained staff."

Despite such criticism, it remains undeniable that more employees will be required to ensure each application is fairly reviewed. In a USCIS statement, the agency explained that this large wave of hiring is an effort to get operations in order for when it starts accepting applications related to Obama's immigration action in spring 2015.

"Increasing staffing will ensure that every case received by USCIS receives a thorough review under our guidelines," the agency stated.

Immigrant families celebrate Obama’s Executive Action

Wed, Dec 24 12:38 PM by Romona Paden

Obama's immigration reform action will allow families to stay together and live without fear in the U.S.

After President Obama announced his executive decision to protect 5 million from deportation, immigration reform organizations across the nation celebrated this historic win, many sending letters of commendation to the president. But those most affected by the executive action – immigrant families – celebrated quietly at home, thankful to be able to stay together.

NBC News featured a story about one such family: the Arriazolas of Edinburgh, Texas. Families like this have been living without documentation, constantly in fear of deportation and hiding in the shadows of the Rio Grande Valley. However, with Obama's immigration reform action, Estefania Arriazola, 21, will be able to stay with her parents, who qualify for Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals because her youngest sister has American citizenship.

Arriazola's parents will soon be able to apply for better-paying jobs, obtain drivers licenses and travel to visit other family members without the the fear of being pulled over and subsequently deported.

"There is no greater feeling than knowing your family will be free and that you will no longer have to be scared of being separated from your loved ones," Arriazola told NBC News.

The long journey to DACA
Arriazola and her parents came to the U.S. in 2001, when she was only 8 years old. They arrived legally through laser visas but continued to live without documentation after the visas expired.

"My mother felt that we, my sisters and I, would have better opportunities and education here in the United States," Arriazola said, going on to explain their hardships as undocumented immigrants. "We were always in fear of deportation. We would sell clothes at the flea-market, and I would help my mother."

The struggle has paid off, as Arriazola and her family have found many successes in the U.S. and have played positive roles in their communities. Arriazola is currently a senior at University of Texas-Pan American, earning her degree in music education. She obtained DACA in 2013, and it benefited her education greatly.

"DACA changed my life in a big way," Arriazola said. "I am able to work. I also had the chance to do the National Student Exchange Program and go study in California for a year."

As she told NBC News, she knows the immigration reform action will help her parents lead better lives in much the same way.

New immigration detention center opens in Texas

Mon, Dec 22 1:49 PM by Romona Paden

A detention center in Dilley, Texas, will hold mostly undocumented mothers and children before they are deported.

In November 2014, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it would be closing its controversial immigrant detainee facility in Artesia, New Mexico. That center, which held hundreds of women and children prior to deportation, will be out of service by the end of this year. But those detainees will not be freed in light of Obama's immigration reform decision. Rather, many will be relocated to a new detention center in Dilley​, Texas, which has just opened.

On Monday, Dec. 22, the South Texas Family Residential Center, officially opened its doors on the grounds of an old oil workers' camp in Dilley. It is being called the biggest detention center in the country, intended for families who are caught entering the country illegally and able to house as many as 2,400 immigrants at a time. The facility hosts dozens of cabins built to hold mostly women and children. There is also a school, medical facility and playground.

The center, which is managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, costs roughly $296 per detainee per day to run, which amounts to a whopping $260 million per year to taxpayers.

What are immigration reform supporters saying?
The aim of the center is to provide housing for the surge of families that come to America to flee extreme violence in Central American countries. However, immigration reform activists are voicing their opinions against such measures. For example, Advocates for Human Rights, made up of more than 120 organizations across the country, submitted an open letter to President Obama stating their opposition to the opening of this facility.

"The regional refugee crisis in Central America demands a humanitarian response by the United States, not a show of force," the letter stated. "These mothers have faced unimaginable suffering and danger and have come to the U.S. seeking protection, often with close relatives in the U.S. who are willing and able to provide for them. They are not evading law enforcement; they are seeking out Border Patrol officers."

These immigration reform supporters go on to commend the president for his executive decision to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. However, the letter notes that the use of detention on immigrant families prior to deporting them from the country contradicts the notion of protecting families and instead places them directly back in harm's way.

Tucson police to cut down on immigration status checks

Thu, Dec 18 12:06 PM by Romona Paden

Tucson police will stop checking the status of every person they think may be living in the U.S. without documentation.

Since President Obama announced his immigration reform action to protect 5 million from deportation, many states have been making changes to the way they deal with undocumented immigrants. Now Arizona, which has some of the strictest laws against immigrants, will stop making some immigration checks.

According to The Associated Press, the Tucson Police Department announced that it will no longer fully enforce law SB 1070, which requires officers to question the status of people suspected of living in the U.S. without documentation when investigating unrelated crimes. This Arizona law was considered a landmark measure due to its severity.

As Chief Roberto Villaseñor said during the announcement, the police will only check the immigration status of individuals and call the U.S. Border Patrol when someone has had a serious felony in the past, has gang affiliations or poses a threat to national security. He claimed that it is not a change of the law, but rather that the department was taking advantage of a provision that states that police should only enforce the law when it's practical.

Since, as Villaseñor stated, immigration authorities do not respond to many of the officers' calls, it is no longer practical to make such status checks. As the AP reported, Tucson police have placed some 11,000 calls to the Border Patrol since July 2014, to which less than 100 have been responded. The growing leniency on the part of the federal government, especially since Obama's immigration reform decision, plays a big part in this.

"The vast majority of people that we do charge and arrest on a daily basis are not gonna fit the criteria that would require a Border Patrol check," Villaseñor said. "It's a change, but I think that every agency across the state is approaching 1070 differently."

Applications for immigration action may be available winter 2015

Fri, Dec 12 1:02 PM by Romona Paden

USCIS said immigrants should be able to apply for naturalization in February and May.

President Barack Obama announced less than a month ago his immigration reform action to temporarily protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Some have called into question the reality of the decision as some members of the House threaten to derail the action. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently offered hope to those interested in obtaining safeguard against deportation, suggesting that immigrants may begin applying as early as February 2015.

According to NBC News, Leon Rodriguez, director of USCIS, held a conference call with Spanish-speaking reporters. He stated that immigrants will likely be able to begin the application process for work permits and deportation relief within the next few months. Those applying for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals should be able to submit their paperwork in the middle of February, while parents of people with U.S. citizenship should be able to apply in May.

During the conference call, Rodriguez also noted that no start date has been officially determined yet. Right now, the Obama Administration is still compiling a list of the documentation that will be required and acceptable to prove eligibility. He also warned that immigrants should be wary of purchasing services from those offering legal advice and help applying, as paperwork is not yet being accepted and these may not be authorized legal advisors – con artists preying on undocumented immigrants. 

When the time comes, the application rules and procedures will be published on the USCIS website, and at that time undocumented immigrants can apply online and pay securely using a credit card. For more updates on immigration reform and Obama's executive action, sign up for the Immigration Direct newsletter.

Jimmy Fallon, Brian Williams, The Roots slow jam about immigration reform

Thu, Dec 4 12:45 PM by Romona Paden

Jimmy Fallon invited Brian Williams and Questlove to perform a song about immigration reform.

In light of Obama's executive action on immigration reform, many have come forward to express their support for the decision to temporarily protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. From international organizations to Hollywood superstars, countless people around the globe have voiced their opinions concerning the broken state of the U.S. immigration system. On Dec. 2, a group of famous names in late-night television joined forces to rally support for the Obama's decision.

During Tuesday night's episode of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," the host welcomed a special guest: NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams. The journalist, who celebrated his 10-year anniversary at the Nightly News on that day, took to the mic to perform a slow jam presenting the news about Obama's immigration reform action.

Backed up by the musical stylings of Questlove and his band The Roots, Williams and Fallon gave a comical but informative report. They summed up the executive order and the protections that will be provided to 5 million people, including undocumented immigrants with children who have American citizenship as well as those who have been in the U.S. for five years or longer. The performers also touched on the need for bipartisan support of immigration reform.

"My prez Obama don't want none until you pass bills, hon​'!," Williams sang with a humorous tone. "We're going to need more compromise on Capitol Hill."

"Time has come," Fallon chimed in. "Together we'll pass this bill."

"The system is broken," Questlove sang with passion. "The president's spoken. The American dream ain't just for the few."

This is just one of the many times Fallon and guests have delivered the news in musical form, a segment called "Slow Jam The News."

‘Divided Families’ documentary explores immigration reform

Wed, Dec 3 3:04 AM by Romona Paden

“Divided Families” delves into the subject of immigration reform.

Immigration reform has been taking the political spotlight as of late, but it has also hit the silver screen as filmmakers tackle the topic from new and intriguing perspectives. One new movie that delves into the subject is "Divided Families: Responding with Faith."

"Divided Families" is a one-hour documentary that looks into the way the U.S.'s immigration policies affect familial relationships. It looks specifically at a young family – Amy and Carlos – from the city of West Chicago, Illinois, located just outside of the Windy City. Carlos does not have American citizenship, as he was brought to the country from Mexico without documentation as a child. For more than a decade, he has been trying to obtain citizenship only to be faced with obstacle upon obstacles.

The film highlights the efforts of Chicago's faith-based organizations to keep this and other families together. With Obama's recent executive action on immigration reform, which marks an effort to keep families together, this documentary may be of particular interest to immigrant families. It premiered on WTTW on Oct. 16, and "Divided Families" is available to view online.

Immigration officials warn of scam artist risk

Tue, Dec 2 4:09 PM by Romona Paden

With immigration reform taking new strides, con artists are targeting undocumented immigrants.

In late November, President Barack Obama announced an executive action on immigration reform that deferred the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. It means that some undocumented immigrants can legally work and live in the country if they pass a background check and pay taxes in addition to filling out an application and paying a fee. While the action has eased the fear of deportation for so many people, it has brought up a new potential concern: Scam artists are targeting immigrants without legal status.

According to the Los Angeles Times, immigration reform advocacy groups, government officials and bar associations among others have been warning undocumented immigrants to consult with only licensed attorneys and other authorized legal advisors about immigration status. Con artists have been preying on these individuals, offering assistance filing immigration paperwork and providing advice in exchange for payment.

However, since these scammers are not authorized, the paperwork is being filed illegally, and the advice given may not be based on expert knowledge. Since the Nov. 20 announcement by President Obama, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has updated its website to warn the public of this scam and remind applicants that applications and requests are not yet being accepted.

"Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available," the USCIS warned. "You could become a victim of an immigration scam."

As USCIS went on to note, only a licensed attorney or an accredited representative employed by an organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals can give out legal advice concerning immigration. Avoid seeking help through public advertisements and local businesses that claim to guarantee American citizenship, a green card or other such results. 

"The Internet, newspapers, radio, community bulletin boards and storefronts are filled with advertisements offering immigration help," the USCIS said. "Not all of this information is from attorneys and accredited representatives. There is a lot of information that comes from organizations and individuals who are not authorized to give you legal advice, such as 'notarios' and other unauthorized representatives. The wrong help can hurt."

As the Los Angeles Times noted, notario fraud is not a new issue. When the 1986 amnesty bill was passed, millions became eligible for American citizenship. Scammers began to target those living unauthorized in the U.S., offering assistance in obtaining work permits, green cards and other relief from deportation. Victims of these con artists lost tens of thousands of dollars in some cases. To avoid such losses and legal issues, ensure anyone you consult with regarding your immigration status is a authorized by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Mayors form coalition in support of Obama’s immigration reform

Mon, Dec 1 11:13 AM by Romona Paden

Mayors from across the nation have formed a coalition in support of Obama's executive decision on immigration reform.

On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama laid out his plan for immigration reform. Afterward, he headed to Las Vegas to rally support for his intention to protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation – a temporary solution as more permanent measures are expected to be put into effect in the near future. It appears the president's attempts at gaining support have reached far beyond Las Vegas, as the Washington Post reported that nearly two dozen mayors from across the country have formed a coalition in support of Obama's immigration reform decision.

The coalition, Cities United for Immigration Action, is made up of 23 mayors across America, including Bill de Blasio of New York City, Annise Parker of Houston, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Vincent C. Gray of Washington, D.C. The group's aim is to put Obama's executive decision into effect at a city level by rallying support from grassroots organizations and pushing for congressional action. As the Washington Post reported, the coalition released a statement declaring the great benefits that Obama's immigration action will have at the local level.

"The president's action on immigration will strengthen our cities," Cities United for Immigration Action said in a statement. "It will keep families together, grow our economies and foster additional community trust in law enforcement. We are ready – and together we're rolling up our sleeves to turn this policy into a better reality for millions of hardworking people in the communities we serve."

What will the Cities United for Immigration Action do?
The coalition hopes to reach an important goal: to make it known to immigrants that they are not only welcome in America, but also essential components of the nation's economy and culture. The group will also try to make clearer the differences between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement, particularly concerning the roles that these two bodies should play in carrying out laws related to undocumented immigrants.

Cities United for Immigration Action will make its voice on these issues heard on Dec. 8 during its first official meeting in New York. The mayors will also lay out steps for implementing Obama's immigration reform plan. In the statement, New York mayor Bill de Blasio discussed the importance of the upcoming meeting:

"This summit will offer a unique opportunity for mayors of many of our nation's progressive cities to restate our leadership and responsibility on this decisive issue and to come out with an unbeatable master plan that truly prepares our localities for swift implementation of changes and also advocates for further reforms from the municipal level all the way up to Washington."

By following this organization's suggestions for creating an implementation plan, localities may be better prepared to incorporate new rules and regulations concerning immigration reform, as will governments up to the federal level.

For more updates on immigration reform and Obama's executive action, sign up for the Immigration Direct newsletter.

Obama rallies for immigration reform support in Las Vegas

Tue, Nov 25 2:10 PM by Romona Paden

Obama addressed students at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas about his plan for immigration reform.

President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Nov. 20 about his plans for overhauling the country's immigration system, one that he said was broken and in need of historic change. He announced that he would provide protection from deportation for some 5 million undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers and parents of children with American citizenship, in an effort to keep families together. With this monumental announcement behind him, the president traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, Nov. 21, to rally support for his immigration executive action.

Obama went to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to address the students of this largely Latino educational institution. During the visit, the president was accompanied by an array of congressional members also in support of immigration reform, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Sen. Robert Menendez.

In front of a crowd of avid immigration reform supporters, Obama carefully laid out his plans for immigration reform and addressed his intentions to break through barriers that may stand in the way. One such initiative will be to work more closely with Congress.

"This is the first step, it's not the only step," Obama said. "We're going to keep working with members of Congress … until that day comes, there are actions I have the legal authority to take to make our immigration system more fair and more just."

Obama signs memoranda
There was more to the visit than giving a speech. While aboard Air Force One after landing in Nevada, the president signed two immigration memoranda: one to streamline and modernize the visa application process, and one to establish the White House Task Force on New Americans, which will create a federal strategy for integrating immigrants into the U.S.

Many in Las Vegas were ecstatic that the president chose to visit this location first and sign the memoranda here. After all, Nevada has the highest population of undocumented immigrants in the country – about 8 percent of the state, according to the Pew Research Center. Additionally, approximitely two-thirds of Del Sol High School is Hispanic, and many of its students will be directly affected by Obama's executive action. This educational institution – in the very same gymnasium where Obama spoke – is where the president first called for an overhaul of the immigration system during a speech two years prior.

For more updates on immigration reform and Obama's executive action, sign up for the Immigration Direct newsletter.

Obama promueve el plan de reforma migratoria en Las Vegas

Mon, Nov 24 1:11 PM by Romona Paden

El viernes el Presidente Barack Obama promovió la reforma inmigratoria en Las Vegas.

Casi un año después de haber visitado la Escuela Secundaria Del Sol en Las Vegas para pedir una reforma migratoria integral, el Presidente Barack Obama regresó para discutir y promover sus planes para lograrlo.

Debido a que el Congreso aún debe pasar el proyecto de reforma de inmigración, Obama anunció el jueves que llevaría a cabo una acción ejecutiva para evitar la deportación de millones de inmigrantes que llegaron a los Estados Unidos como niños (sin documentos) en 2010 o antes, así como para los padres indocumentados de ciudadanos estadounidenses.

El viernes, Obama viajó a Las Vegas para presentar su plan, dando un discurso que una vez más llamó la atención a su iniciativa para traer justicia y reforma al sistema de inmigración del país.

"He regresado a Del Sol para decirles que no me he rendido. Nunca me rendiré… Estaremos trabajando con los miembros del Congreso para hacer de la reforma permanente una realidad", dijo Obama en su discurso. "Pero mientras ese día llega, hay acciones que mi autoridad legal me permiten tomar y que ayudarán a hacer nuestro sistema inmigratorio más rápido y justo".

Sin embargo, el discurso de Obama no fue totalmente diplomático. Fue interrumpido por un soñador de 25 años de Arizona que estaba molesto porque su madre no era elegible para evitar la deportación en base al plan del presidente. El presidente le explicó que aún necesitan tomarse ciertas acciones.

"Es cierto que no todos pueden adoptar esta previsión", dijo Obama. "Esa es la verdad. Esa es la razón por la que aún debemos pasar la reforma".

En general, los promoventes de la reforma inmigratoria parecen satisfechos con los pasos que el presidente ha tomado para diferir la deportación de millones de personas indocumentadas en los Estados Unidos, quienes viven en paz y contribuyen a la sociedad.

"Esta es una gran victoria para nuestra comunidad", dijo la activista Astrid Silva, quien fue mencionada en el discurso de Obama, a la multitud de la Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, de acuerdo con el Washington Post.

Obama promotes immigration reform plan in Las Vegas

Mon, Nov 24 10:28 AM by Romona Paden

President Barack Obama promoted his plans for immigration reform Friday.

Nearly a year after he visited Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to call for comprehensive immigration reform, President Barack Obama returned to discuss and promote his plans to do just that.

Because Congress has yet to pass an immigration reform bill, Obama announced Thursday that he would take executive action to prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants who were either brought to the U.S. as children (without documentation) prior to 2010 or are the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens.

Friday, Obama traveled to Las Vegas to tout his plan, giving a speech that again called attention to his mission to bring fairness and reform to the country's immigration system.

"I've come back to Del Sol to tell you I'm not giving up. I will never give up. … We're going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality," Obama said in his speech. "But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take and that will help make our immigration system more fair and just."

Obama's speech did not go completely smoothly, however. He was interrupted by a 25-year-old DREAMer from Arizona who was upset that his mother was ineligible for deferred deportation under the president's plan. The president responded by explaining that further action still needed to be taken.

"That's right, not everybody will qualify under this provision," Obama said. "That's the truth. That's why we're still going to have to pass a bill."

Overall, proponents of immigration reform seem to be pleased with the steps the president is taking to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented individuals in the U.S. who are living peacefully and contributing to society.

"This is a huge victory for our community," activist Astrid Silva, who was mentioned in Obama's speech, told a crowd at Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, according to The Washington Post.

Obama reveals immigration reform to protect 5 million from deportation

Fri, Nov 21 12:21 PM by Romona Paden

Obama's executive action involves temporarily protecting 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama gave an impassioned speech concerning his plans for overhauling the U.S. immigration system, and it proved to be a historic victory for immigration reform supporters and activists across the nation. Obama gave the 15-minute address from the East Room of the White House, revealing that he will provide deportation protection for millions of undocumented immigrants.

What's in store for immigration reform?
During the prime-time speech, the president announced his plan to temporarily guard 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported. Those who will receive deportation deferment include children who were brought to the country without documentation by their parents (also known as "DREAMers") as well as the parents of kids who have U.S. citizenship. After passing a background check and paying a fee, these people will be able to work legally in the U.S. In summary, Obama's executive action:

  • Protects any child who was brought to the U.S. without documentation before Jan. 1, 2010.
  • Delays deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are legal residents or citizens.
  • Instructs immigration officials to focus on deporting criminals and threats to national security.

This executive action is not the equivalent of amnesty, according to Obama, as it does not provide undocumented immigrants with a path to legalization.

During the announcement, the president emphasized the fact that America is a nation of immigrants, founded and developed by those who came to find a better way of life. However, he also recognized the need to deal responsibly with those who pose a threat to national security and have committed felonies.

"Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we're also a nation of laws," Obama said. "Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous. That's why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that's why we're going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids. We'll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day."

Onward to Las Vegas
Toward the end of his speech, Obama discussed his trip to Las Vegas, scheduled for Nov. 21, and noted that he will be meeting with some of the DREAMers that this executive action will protect, keeping their families together. One young woman he will meet with is Astrid Silva, who was brought to the country at the age of 4 and lived much of her life hiding her heritage in fear that she would be deported. Despite a difficult life as an undocumented immigrant, she succeeded in school – Astrid is now earning her third college degree – and went on to become an active voice in support of immigration reform.

"Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?" Obama asked during his speech. "Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too."

During his trip to Las Vegas, Obama will visit Del Sol High School and rally support for his executive action. Immigration Direct will report on the president's visit, and you can sign up for the Immigration Direct newsletter to stay informed of updates concerning immigration reform.

President Obama to announce executive action on immigration reform tonight

Thu, Nov 20 2:24 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama will make an announcement Thursday night concerning an executive decision on immigration reform.

The country has been eagerly awaiting a decision concerning immigration reform for months, and today that decision will be made public when President Barack Obama makes an announcement laying out his proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long," Obama said in a video announcement on Nov. 19. "So what I'm going to be laying out is the things I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem."

While the exact details of Obama's immigration reform action are still unknown to the public, The Washington Post received information from a senior Democrat regarding the plan. The source said that Obama will announce that he will provide temporary protection for as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants – 4 million will become eligible for temporary protective status, while another 1 million will receive relief through other various means. To the chagrin of activists, it is expected that Obama will not provide guaranteed protections for parents of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors.

The day following the speech, Friday, Nov. 22, Obama will travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, to rally support for the initiative and discuss his immigration reform action.

Return to Immigration Direct for reporting on tonight's announcement as well as Obama's visit to Vegas, and sign up for the Immigration Direct newsletter to stay informed of updates concerning immigration reform.

Immigration rights activists call for a change to restaurant name ‘Illegal Pete’s’

Mon, Nov 17 4:24 PM by Romona Paden

The Mexican restaurant Illegal Pete's has been under fire by immigration rights activists.

With immigration reform taking the headlines as of late, there has been great debate over the rights and respect owed to the U.S. immigrant population. But long before, it was widely agreed that the term "illegal immigrant" is hugely offensive and politically incorrect. So it's not surprising that one restaurant has caused public outrage by referencing the term in its name: "Illegal Pete's."

Illegal Pete's is a Mexican restaurant chain that was established by 43-year-old Pete Turner almost two decades ago. When the first eatery was opened, the phrase did not have the political charge that it does today, as Turner told The New York Times.

"I never intended it to be about undocumented immigrants," Turner said. "Never. Not once."

As Turner explained to the source, the restaurant name was inspired by the name of a bar that he came across in a book. He was also motivated by the fact that his father is named Pete and has a bit of a rebellious nature.

While the chain has been around for almost 20 years, it has only recently come under public scrutiny with the opening of the seventh establishment in Fort Collins, Colorado. It has spurred upset from the locals as well as national immigration rights groups, who have called for Turner to change the name of his chain. About 10 percent of the population in Fort Collins is Hispanic. Another Illegal Pete's is scheduled to open in Tucson, Arizona, in summer 2015.

In support of the name
Many people are coming to Turner's defense on the issue. As a liberal-minded, pro-immigrant businessperson, he has been an active voice in support of immigration reform. One Illegal Pete's employee, Milton Guevara, has come forward to defend Turner. The Salvadoran immigrant started working at the Boulder location when he was 14 and, under Turner's guidance, moved up from dishwasher to general manager. Additionally, Turner helped Guevara obtain a green card and is now assisting him in applying for American citizenship.

Though Turner said he seriously considered the other side's argument, he does not intend to change the name of his chain, as the term "illegal" has no immigrant-related roots in this context. Many customers seem to feel the same way, as the Fort Collins establishment was packed on its first day open.

"There was no debate for us," customer Brett Warr told The New York Times. "It's not called 'the illegal immigrant.'"

What do the midterm elections mean for immigration reform?

Wed, Nov 5 5:07 PM by Romona Paden

With the 2014 elections over, will the president be able to move forward with immigration reform?

Now that the midterm elections have passed and Republicans have taken control of the Senate, there's growing concern over how President Barack Obama will move forward with immigration reform. Obama delayed any decisions concerning the issue until after election day, stating that he didn't want a subject as important as this to become a victim of political battles between parties. With election day in the rearview mirror, the country is on the edge of its seat as it awaits a plan to repair the broken state of the immigration system.

Obama reassures the public
On Nov. 5, 2014, the day following the midterm elections that gave the Republican Party control of Congress, plans to make changes by the end of the year are still in order. According to The Associated Press, Obama has stated that he will take action on reform in 2014 with the aim of improving the immigration system in the U.S. as well as border security measures. This addresses a pressing concern, as Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream, explained to PBS.

"What I think is urgent for the immigration communities is that the president has made a promise to address immigration, because what we saw in 2013 and even this year is that Republicans were unwilling to work on an immigration reform bill that was passed by the Senate," Jimenez stated. "And, very clearly, Speaker Boehner said that they won't move forward on immigration. And what we have rather seen is Republicans time after time voting to defund programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for example."

What's next for immigration reform?
Despite this attempt at reassuring the public that immigration reform is on the way, some are skeptical about how Obama will be able to move forward now that Republicans have taken control of Congress. As Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., wrote in The Guardian, the results of this election could mean the death of legislation already agreed upon by the Senate that would fix many issues with the immigration system. However, as he noted, there's still hope for the 5 to 8 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

"Nearly 500 days ago, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would have addressed a broad range of fixes for the nation's immigration system, but that legislation will die once the new Congress is sworn in," Gutierrez wrote. "President Obama cannot do with executive actions all of the things that the comprehensive Senate bill would have done. But he can act – on a comparable scale – to improve our security and reduce the destruction that mass deportations have unleashed in America's families."

For now, supporters of immigration reform are left largely in the dark to speculate on their own about how Obama will move forward with immigration reform – or if he even can. But with the promise to make a decision by the end of this year, it's only a short matter of time before the American people find out.

Poll finds most Americans want immigration reform

Tue, Nov 4 5:27 PM by Romona Paden

A YouGov poll revealed that most Americans support immigration reform.

Some may believe that the only people in support of immigration reform are those pursuing U.S. citizenship, but the massive backing behind the movement suggests that a large portion of this country wants real change when it comes to the state of immigration policy. Now, a poll conducted by YouGov provides proof that most Americans want reform.

According to the YouGov poll, which surveyed almost 800 likely voters, 81 percent of U.S. citizens want Congress to push forward with improvements to legislation around immigration that will lead to greater diversity and the reunification of families separated by borders. The poll also found that 44 percent of respondents believe immigration reform is a very pressing issue. People who were 65 or older were significantly more likely to say that passing reform is important, and 40 percent of Democrats also agreed with this statement. Perhaps more surprising is that an even greater amount – 53 percent – of Republicans responded that immigration reform is a priority.

While both parties seem to agree that immigration reform is important, there were differing opinions on what changes should be made. For instance, 63 percent of Democrats were in support of a path to American citizenship for those without documentation, while just 19 percent of Republicans supported that notion.

Nuns on the Bus hit the road for immigration reform

Mon, Nov 3 2:00 PM by Romona Paden

Nuns on the Bus toured the country to spread word of immigration reform.

With midterm elections taking place on Nov. 4, 2014, it's especially important for people seeking U.S. citizenship to get out and vote. Many believe that this year's midterms will play a big role in President Barack Obama's decisions regarding immigration reform, and if the Republican Party takes hold of the Senate, it could mean a retreat by the Democrats concerning changes to the country's immigration policy. The religion-based social justice group Nuns on the Bus also knows how important it is for immigrants and reform supporters to hit the polling place during this time, which is why they took to the road in late October to spread the word.

What is Nuns on the Bus?
Nuns on the Bus is a group of Catholic sisters who tour the country in an effort to promote social justice. The organization is a part of the NETWORK project, which is a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. Nuns on the Bus is strongly in support of immigration reform and, in a call for change, explained that it believes the state of the immigration system in the U.S. is in terribly disarray.

"Increased enforcement is tearing families apart and causing suffering for those who are otherwise willing and eager to contribute to our society," Nuns on the Bus explained in a statement. "Our nation needs an immigration system that reflects our faith values and the needs of the 21st century. Such a system reunites families and allows workers the opportunity to come forward without fear to pay taxes and earn legalization. A functioning system will serve the needs of our entire nation."

The organization calls for "commonsense immigration reform" that helps bring families together, protects the rights of immigrant workers, and speeds up the process of granting green cards and American citizenship to those already approved. Other goals the group hopes to reach with reform include enhancement of the diversity visa program as well as a clearer, more direct path to U.S. citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Additionally, the tour group hopes to convince the public and politicians to acknowledge that the nation's borders are already secure and that they only require minor changes.

About the midterm election tour
In advance of the midterms, Nuns on the Bus hit the road to reach out to the family members, friends and other supporters of undocumented immigrants seeking American citizenship. These Catholic Sisters trekked across 10 states to visit three dozen cities, in which they held a total of 75 events. Along with encouraging people to vote so their voices can be heard, the group urged voters to hold candidates responsible – that legislators fulfill the promises they make during election periods and make decisions that reflect their voters and benefit the entire population. With these objectives in mind, Nuns on the Bus named the expedition the "We the People, We the Voters" tour, reminding all people that it is their responsibility as Americans and humans to pursue justice and fairness for all.

Activists worry president will break immigration reform promise

Fri, Oct 31 1:35 PM by Romona Paden

Activists are worried that President Obama will not come through on his immigration reform promises.

From those waiting for U.S. citizenship to reform supporters, many were upset with President Barack Obama when he delayed his decision on immigration reform until after the midterm elections in November 2014. However, Obama minimized the public upset by promising to make a decision before the end of the year and implying that big changes were ahead. Now, with October coming to a close, supporters and activists are concerned that the president will further delay taking action or scale back the reform efforts.

According to Reuters, advocates have put the pressure on the Obama administration to give relief to those at threat of deportation. This comes after a late-October briefing by the president that gave many the impression that he was planning on reducing the number of people who will receive work authorization and protection from deportation to fewer than 3 million. This is a sizeable decrease compared to the figure of 8 million that was proposed in June 2013 with the passage of the Senate bill.

"There's growing nervousness that instead of going big and bold that the administration might play it cautiously," Frank Sharry, executive director of advocacy group America's Voice, told Reuters.

Reasons behind the concerns
The fears of immigration reform advocates are largely based on the political climate as well as a history of broken promises when it comes to reform. A major concern is that President Obama may be less aggressive in his plan if the Republican Party takes hold of the Senate with the upcoming midterm elections; the GOP has made promises to pass legislation that would stop the president from implementing the planned immigration reform initiative.

Despite concerns that the president would further delay actions on immigration reform, the White House is assuring the public that a statement will be made in 2014.

"We expect to make an announcement about these decisions before the end of the year," White House spokeswoman Katherine Vargas said in a statement.

If he fails to do so, the president and the Democratic Party may be under great scrutiny from the Hispanic population, as Cristina Jimenez of the immigration-reform group United We Dream told Time magazine.

"We won't take any more excuses," Jimenez said. "What we expect from the President is for him to use his legal authority to enact a program that will protect as many people from our community as possible."

Federal government calls for millions of blank green cards

Tue, Oct 21 12:39 PM by Romona Paden

The government has made an announcement for bids for millions of blank green cards.

With immigration reform on hold for the time being, many are worried about whether they'll be eligible to apply for a green card in the near future. The world is waiting for President Barack Obama to make a decision regarding reform after the midterm elections come to a close. And while he has yet to make any official decisions, a recent executive action hints at what his next move might be – the federal government is accepting bids for a vendor to print up to 34 million blank green cards.

On Oct. 3, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted a draft solicitation announcing that it will be seeking a vendor that is capable of printing about 4 million cards per year delivered over the course of five years. The government could purchase as many as 34 million cards in total, as the draft solicitation noted. These include both Permanent Resident Cards and Employment Authorization Documentation cards.

The point of this solicitation is to make potential vendors aware that the government will be accepting bids so these companies can prepare proposals. The announcement also warns that the vendor that chosen may be required to deliver a large quantity upfront to meet a surge in green card approvals.

"In addition, the Contractor shall demonstrate the capability to support potential 'surge' in PRC and EAD card demand for up to 9 million cards during the initial period of performance to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements," the draft solicitation stated.

According to RT News, this call for bids could be indicative of a significant reform initiative to come. President Obama is expected to announce big changes to U.S. immigration policy in November, after the midterm elections are over. As the source pointed out, it may mean that the president is contemplating a massive overhaul of the immigration system that will mean easier access to green cards for immigrants.

International entrepreneurs urge U.S. to push immigration reform

Tue, Oct 14 6:20 PM by Romona Paden

A Spanish entrepreneur warns that, without immigration reform, international business owners may look elsewhere to start their companies.

All throughout the U.S., people have been vocal in their support of immigration reform and the rights of those seeking American citizenship. The broken immigration system affects much more than just family relationships among those separated by the border – it also has great implications for the U.S. economy and the workforce. Even in the international arena, businesspeople have been warning the federal government of the great negative consequences that could come from not taking immigration reform seriously.

According to The Guardian, one Spanish-born entrepreneur, Iñaki Berenguer, is raising his voice about the struggles of getting a visa to work in the U.S. Berenguer is currently working on his second tech startup in the U.S., having sold his previous one for $26.5 million. He has experienced the difficulty of obtaining American citizenship first-hand and through his employees.

The tech executive believes that the many obstacles of getting a visa – not to mention a green card – may send tech employees and their employers elsewhere. According to the source, many other entrepreneurs and industry experts agree, including Seattle-based immigration lawyer Tahmina Watson, who represents a large number of foreign-born tech employees.

"If the US continues to do what it's doing, five, 10 years from now, it's not going to be the leader any more," Watson told The Guardian. "Is that what the US wants? The prosperity is not going to remain here, jobs are going to go somewhere else."

In countries like Canada, Chile and Singapore, startup hubs are being erected to attract foreign entrepreneurs. This fact along with admonition from successful business owners may prompt the federal government to make haste on the issue of immigration reform and move to ease the process of applying for a visa, including the complexity of the paperwork and the lengthy waiting times.

Why is the White House delaying immigration reform?

Wed, Oct 8 5:22 PM by Romona Paden

A White House press secretary announced that President Obama will wait until after the election to take action on immigration reform.

As immigrants continue to have trouble obtaining American citizenship, the issue of immigration reform sizzles as a hot-button issue. So it came as a surprise to many that President Barack Obama has made it clear that he will stall an executive decision on immigration reform until after the midterm elections.

On Sept. 8, White House press secretary Josh Earnest made a statement during a press conference revealing that President Obama will not take executive action on immigration reform until the end of the year. He was scheduled to make a decision in August, and the delay has caused a stir among both political parties and the public in general.

Obama has chosen to put off taking executive action in order to save the important issue from becoming a casualty of the midterm elections, which have proven to be highly partisan. Earnest referred to the election's climate as a "sharply political polarized environment" that has been turning immigration reform into an issue of individual races rather than a larger social concern.

With this announcement, the White House expects that the president will be faced with criticism, but Obama maintains that making a smart and thought-out decision without the influence of the election is essential to the success of the reform plan. As such, the president is ready to be faced with upset from the public.

"The president is willing to take a little political heat from the pundits, from advocates in the Hispanic community in particular, in order to ensure that the policy that he puts forward is one that can be sustained," Earnest said during the press conference. "There should be no disputing the fact that injecting this issue into the current political environment would be really bad for the issue."

Why is the White House delaying immigration reform?

Wed, Oct 8 5:22 PM by Romona Paden

A White House press secretary announced that President Obama will wait until after the election to take action on immigration reform.

As immigrants continue to have trouble obtaining American citizenship, the issue of immigration reform sizzles as a hot-button issue. So it came as a surprise to many that President Barack Obama has made it clear that he will stall an executive decision on immigration reform until after the midterm elections.

On Sept. 8, White House press secretary Josh Earnest made a statement during a press conference revealing that President Obama will not take executive action on immigration reform until the end of the year. He was scheduled to make a decision in August, and the delay has caused a stir among both political parties and the public in general.

Obama has chosen to put off taking executive action in order to save the important issue from becoming a casualty of the midterm elections, which have proven to be highly partisan. Earnest referred to the election's climate as a "sharply political polarized environment" that has been turning immigration reform into an issue of individual races rather than a larger social concern.

With this announcement, the White House expects that the president will be faced with criticism, but Obama maintains that making a smart and thought-out decision without the influence of the election is essential to the success of the reform plan. As such, the president is ready to be faced with upset from the public.

"The president is willing to take a little political heat from the pundits, from advocates in the Hispanic community in particular, in order to ensure that the policy that he puts forward is one that can be sustained," Earnest said during the press conference. "There should be no disputing the fact that injecting this issue into the current political environment would be really bad for the issue."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says immigration reform will help fix job crisis

Tue, Oct 7 2:14 PM by Romona Paden

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar explained that immigration reform would help solve the jobs crisis in America.

Many senators have been calling for Congress to make big changes to U.S. immigration policy, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has been an active advocate for reform. As a member of the Democratic Party and vice chair of the Congressional joint economic committee, Klobuchar believes that green cards should be given more liberally to foreigners who can drive the science and medicine fields.

In an October 2014 op-ed for The Guardian, the Minnesota senator noted six ways that the federal government can move toward a solution for the current jobs crisis. According to Klobuchar, some 7 million Americans can find only part-time work or are entirely unemployed and, though there has been improvement in the past few years, much more needs to be done. A large part of her six-step solution involves immigration reform.

"Ninety of our Fortune 500 companies were built by immigrants; 200 were built by immigrants or kids of immigrants," Klobuchar wrote. "Yet while we allow unlimited visas for pro hockey players, we severely limit visas for engineers, doctors and their spouses. The House of Representatives needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

Many Americans may believe that granting green cards to immigrants would mean fewer jobs for U.S. citizens. However, as Klobuchar explained, immigration reform would contribute to significant growth of the national economy, which will actually lead to the creation of more jobs. In fact, a nonpartisan analysis organization has already done the math and calculated that immigration reform would lead to great benefits and profits for the American people.

"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bipartisan Senate bill would increase our GDP by 3.3 percent by 2023 and decrease our deficit by $158​ billion over 10 years," Klobuchar wrote.

With the support of senators like Klobuchar, the immigration reform movement is continuing to gain traction and push for real change at the federal and state levels.

Obama promises Hispanics action on immigration

Thu, Oct 2 11:44 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama promised Hispanics he will take action on immigration by the end of the year.

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.

Hispanics rally for immigration reform in Ohio

Thu, Sep 25 4:47 PM by Romona Paden

Hispanics rallied outside of the ICE building in downtown Cleveland on Sept. 23.

A crowd of Hispanics gathered outside of the Federal Building in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 23 and held a rally for immigration reform. According to the Plain Dealer, chants could be heard as more than 100 Hispanics shouted "Si, se puede" (Yes, it can be done). 

The group was made up of mostly working class Hispanics who rallied in downtown Cleveland to protest the government's lack of action on addressing the nation's broken immigration system. The source said they were also there to protest deportations that are "tearing apart their families."

Veronica Dahlberg organized the rally, and there were no elected officials, business leaders or public figures from the Hispanic Cleveland community there to support them. Dahlberg told the Plain Dealer that there has been an increasing desperation in the cause for immigration reform. 

Cleveland resident Pedro Hernandez was at the rally to tell his family's story. Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS reported that Hernandez was granted a stay deportation in 2013 and was denied his request for an extension in August 2014. He and his wife, Seleste, are raising their family, including a son that has cerebral palsy, in Cleveland. 

"I pray they overturn the decision and make the right decision. No good will come from removing Pedro from the U.S.," Seleste Hernandez told the source.

A small number of immigrants from the group as well as attorneys went inside the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement building. When they emerged they announced that Hernandez was granted a stay of deportation for an additional year, allowing him to stay in the U.S. until 2015.

Another rally attendee, Elizabeth Perez, is a veteran. She served 10 years in the military, including some time in Afghanistan, and while she was pregnant with her second child her husband was deported. Perez told the source that she worked with lawyers for a year to get her husband's immigrant status changed. But unlike Hernandez's story, this one doesn't have quite the same happy ending, causing Hispanics to argue even more for putting a stop to deportations. 

Biden promises action on immigration reform

Tue, Sep 23 5:25 PM by Romona Paden

Joe Biden promised Hispanic leaders action on immigration reform during a speech at his Naval Observatory residence.

Vice President Joe Biden assured Hispanic leaders that President Barack Obama will take action on immigration. According to the Associated Press, Biden added that the president is committed to establishing a solution for immigration reform.

Biden made the statement at a Hispanic Heritage Month reception that he hosted with his wife, Jill. During the event, the vice president called Hispanic education administrators and counselors "heroes in the classroom and community," the AP reported. Biden noted that one in four students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade are Hispanic and that it's this community that will play a major role in the future of the U.S.

According to The Washington Times, the vice president said he understood the frustrations regarding the Obama administration's delay on taking executive action on immigration reform. The president is expected to provide relief from deportations and create a pathway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

"I know you're all waiting and you're frustrated," Biden said in his speech. "The president's going to do it, and he's going to do an awful lot."

President Obama was expected to announce executive action on immigration at the end of the summer. However, he said he will delay doing so until after Congressional elections are held in November.

"Watch when this election is over, watch what happens when all of a sudden our friends in the other team realize their prospects for future electoral success hinge upon acting rationally," he said in his speech. "They will either act rationally, or we will act for them. And if we have to act for them, they will not be around a whole lot longer to act in large numbers."

Biden emphasized the importance of acting on immigration to repair the nation's broken system. 

Boehner says immigration reform will help US economy

Fri, Sep 19 2:59 PM by Romona Paden

John Boehner said that immigration reform will boost the nation's economy.

Following a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, House Speaker John Boehner said that reforming the nation's immigration system will boost the economy. According to The Hill, Boehner made the statement after a question was asked from an audience member, and wasn't something that he planned to discuss during his speech. 

"Immigration reform will help our economy, but you've got to secure the border first," Boehner said in his speech. "We've got a mess and everyone knows we've got a mess. It needs to be fixed. We're a nation of immigrants, the sooner we do it, the better off the country would be."

At the top of Boehner's list for repairing the country's broken immigration system is increasing security at the border, something that President Barack Obama also suggested when he announced that he will wait until after midterm elections in November to address immigration reform.

Boehner said Republicans in the House of Representatives did not move forward on immigration reform in 2013 because they did not trust the president to apply the law appropriately, Breitbart reported. He added that he thinks it will be difficult to act on immigration reform until his party can trust the president. 

However, Boehner did say in early September that the House of Representatives could make a move on immigration reform at the beginning of 2015, the Breitbart stated.

President Obama was expected to take executive action on immigration reform at the end of summer because Congress failed to act before it left for its August break. At the time he was expected to announce his decision on how to handle immigration. President Obama said he would wait until after midterm elections to make a move because he didn't want to put Democrats who are in a tight race at risk of losing their seats in Congress.  

California voters support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants

Tue, Sep 16 2:40 PM by Romona Paden

Many California voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

A new poll from the Los Angeles Times found that voters in California broadly support a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. According to the Los Angeles Times, Californian voters are also concerned about the effects that undocumented immigrants have on the state. 

The results of the poll showed that nearly 75 percent of those surveyed are in support of an overhaul of federal immigration laws. However, there was a major division between voters in regard to the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have fled to the U.S. from Central American countries and ended up in California, the source stated. Of those who participated in the survey, nearly 50 percent believe the children should be immediately sent back to their home countries. The other half of state voters polled think the children should be granted permission to stay in California until they can face an immigration judge.

"I don't want to hold it against these kids, because these kids are wonderful children," Beverly Bloom, a democrat, told the Los Angeles Times. "Many of them have been here since they were infants, or their parents are undocumented, and I would hate to see these people sent back."

Overall, the Los Angeles Times said voters are compassionate toward undocumented immigrants and recognize that immigrants not following the proper legal proceedings to become citizens is an issue that should be addressed by lawmakers. Voters who responded to the survey don't want the undocumented immigration issue to continue to grow without a solution. 

According to the source, California voters realize that immigrants who have not followed the proper legal avenues to live in the U.S. have an impact on the economy. It's also causing housing issues and problems with overcrowded schools. When voters considered these factors, some began to support the deportation of unaccompanied minors. 

The source stated that 60 percent of Latinos in California support a proposal that would provide $3 million in legal aid for minors. Only 41 percent of white voters supported this idea. 

There were several components of immigration reform that respondents supported, including more border security, employer verification of workers' legality, fines that should be paid by undocumented immigrants, and a requirement that those who wish to become U.S. citizens learn English.

White House officials talk with Latino lawmakers

Fri, Sep 12 12:46 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama's chief of staff met with Latino lawmakers to discuss immigration reform.

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.

President Obama delays executive action on immigration reform

Tue, Sep 9 2:08 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama said that he is delaying executive action on immigration reform.

At the end of June, President Barack Obama announced that he would take executive action on immigration reform if Congress failed to do so by the end of summer. Then, on Sept. 6 at the NATO Summit in Wales, he said that he would wait until after congressional elections in November to say what his next steps will be for repairing the nation's broken immigration system.

According to Reuters, the president cited a shift in politics over the summer as his reason for delaying executive action. President Obama said he had to weigh his options for using executive action before the elections in order to help Democrats keep control of the Senate. By acting before elections, President Obama risked a higher voter turnout for those who are against immigration reform policies that would grant citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Also, in the last few weeks, Republicans have threatened to stop budget talks if the president took his own actions on immigration reform. This could potentially lead to a similar situation to the one that occurred in 2013, when Republicans in Congress worked together to shut down the U.S. government for three weeks.

Many immigration advocates were disappointed by President Obama's announcement to delay actions regarding immigration reform and accused him of putting politics first, Reuters reported. 

"Today the president and the Senate Democrats have made it very clear that undocumented immigrants and Latinos are simply viewed as political pawns," Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for the PICO immigration reform group, told Reuters.

Despite his decision to delay executive action on immigration reform, President Obama did vow to address the issue by the end of 2014, the Latino Daily News reported. When he does act, the president is expected to relieve deportations for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, increase enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, and encourage immigrants coming to the U.S. to follow the proper procedure.

President Obama expected to announce executive action on immigration reform

Fri, Sep 5 4:46 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama will soon announce his next steps for immigration reform.

President Barack Obama issued a statement on Sept. 5 in which he said he will discuss his next steps for immigration reform in the near future. According to Reuters, the president did not say if he will wait until after the upcoming midterm elections in November to use executive action on the issue.

What he did say was that he plans to develop a way to encourage immigrants to follow the correct pathway to citizenship, Reuters reported. He also mentioned that he wants to answer the question of how to humanely deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S., and how much he plans to increase enforcement at U.S. borders.

Since Congress was unable to come up with a fair resolution to the nation's immigration crisis, President Obama said he will do what he can to develop solution. He has consulted with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder on his options regarding executive action, according to the source.

"I suspect that on my flight back, this will be part of my reading, taking a look at some of the specifics that we've looked at, and I'll be making an announcement soon," Obama said at a press conference at the NATO summit in Wales. "In the absence of congressional action, I intend to take action, to make sure that we're putting more resources on the border, that we're upgrading how we process these cases and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration."

Former Democratic Congressman Bruce Morrison told Reuters that he feels it's more important that President Obama focus on policy than come up with a solution as soon as possible.

Immigrants want Obama to reverse deportations

Thu, Sep 4 2:24 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration advocates are encouraging President Obama to reverse deportations.

Advocates gathered at Baruch College where they encouraged President Barack Obama to use executive action on immigration reform. According to the New York Daily News, the event was called "New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform," and was attended by people who shared stories of how deportations of family members resulted in ripping families apart.

"Every day, people live in fear that their families will be destroyed because they or someone else will be deported," Ravi Ragbir, executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition and an undocumented New Yorker, told the New York Daily News. "It is inhumane to live not knowing if your father, mother, brother or sister will be captured by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The President has to act now and give us administrative relief to stop this inhumanity."

The New York Immigration Coalition said that it hopes President Obama will use his authority to reverse deportations so that families can stay together, the source reported. Currently, there are thousands of children who were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and are now waiting to hear their fate at immigration hearings. Until they can go in front of a judge, however, they must wait with family that already lives in the U.S.

While it's important to keep families together, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth told the Courier-News that immigration reform is also about being humane, practical and fair. She added that passing immigration reform will reduce the national debt by approximately $1 trillion because immigrants will be able to contribute to the economy.

According to the Courier-News, a bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill passed in the Senate in 2013, but House Speaker John Boehner has yet to bring it to a vote. In June, Boehner said that he wouldn't touch immigration reform, causing President Obama to consider executive action. 

Until something can be done, immigration advocates will continue to encourage lawmakers and the president to pass legislation that will keep families together.

Boehner says immigration reform may happen next year

Wed, Sep 3 2:38 PM by Romona Paden

Speaker Boehner said that immigration reform may happen next year.

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. 

Obama mentions immigration rights in Labor Day address

Tue, Sep 2 5:17 PM by Romona Paden

During his annual Labor Day address, President Barack Obama mentioned immigration rights. According to Time magazine, President Obama's mention of the issue was the first time that he announced his support for the rights of immigrants living in the country.

"Hope is what gives us courage; hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach," Obama said in his speech. "Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women's rights and workers' rights and civil rights and voting rights and gay rights and immigration rights."

The source stated that the use of the term "immigration rights" appeared to be made spontaneously and was not pre-written into the speech. Currently, President Obama is considering taking executive action on immigration reform after Congress failed to do anything before its August recess. 

According to the source, President Obama's executive action may include extending deferred action to millions of undocumented immigrants who are already living in the U.S. 

Some Democrats argue that President Obama can create his legacy as the leader of the free world by addressing the nation's immigration crisis and coming up with a humane resolution, the Los Angeles Times reported. Experts have asked whether taking executive action on immigration would be President Obama's legacy or if it would simply decide the next election and potentially hand the White House over to the Republicans. 

Presidents who are in their second term typically make bolder decisions since they won't be up for reelection. The Los Angeles Times stated that several Democrats oppose the idea of President Obama granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants due to the possibility that it may encourage more conservative voters to hit the polls in upcoming midterm elections.

President Obama's former speech writer Jon Favreau said that the commander in chief "sees immigration as an issue that speaks to a larger theme of his presidency – that our diversity as a nation is strength, not a weakness, and is part of America's genius," the source reported.

There is hope for immigrants across the U.S. and President Obama said that he has no doubt the issue will be given the resolution it deserves.

Sen. Marco Rubio changes stance on immigration reform

Thu, Aug 28 5:19 PM by Romona Paden

Sen. Marco Rubio changed his stance on immigration reform.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., recently addressed constituents at Rep. Jeff Duncan's annual barbecue fundraiser on Aug. 25. According to U.S. News & World Report, four minutes into Rubio's speech, protestors who object to the conservative's views on immigration chimed in.

Although Rubio said in the past that he supports the concept of the DREAM Act, he no longer believes it is a justifiable way to address the nation's immigration crisis. Rubio stated the law is good in that is allows certain undocumented immigrants to obtain U.S. citizenship, but because his views are the opposite of what his fellow Republicans believe, some suggest he has chosen to shift his views.

Protestors at the fundraiser held up signs that read "Rubio Me Quiere Deportar," which means "Rubio wants to deport me," according to the source. Rubio tried to talk over the protestors who jeered in the background of his speech and said that the demonstrators were enjoying freedom of speech, a right that all Americans have. 

In 2013, Rubio was one of the congressmen who formed what would become known as the "Gang of Eight," a group that constructed a comprehensive immigration bill, according to Breitbart. The legislation would have granted citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants, but since his shift regarding immigration reform, it's likely the senator would no longer be a supporter of the legislation he helped create.

"If the president goes through with this executive action that he's threatening, not only does it raise very serious constitutional issues, but in my opinion it sets back the cause of reform for a long time.," Rubio said. "It would just further exacerbate people's lack of confidence in the government's willingness to enforce the law, and I also think it would continue to add to the ambiguity of the laws that have created the humanitarian crisis that now exists on the border with unaccompanied minors."

Regardless of what some Republicans believe should be done about immigration, President Barack Obama is proposing executive action to give citizenship to millions of immigrants who are already living in the U.S.

Republicans threaten government shutdown over executive action

Thu, Aug 28 4:05 PM by Romona Paden

Republican members of Congress threatened a government shutdown if President Obama issues executive action on immigration.

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.

White House prepares for executive action on immigration reform

Wed, Aug 27 3:03 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama is expected to take executive action on immigration.

Following requests by advocates for President Barack Obama to issue executive action regarding the immigration crisis in the U.S., the White House is considering proposals from business and immigrant rights groups. 

According to the Washington Post, President Obama is allegedly preparing to announce executive action that may stop deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants, including nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors who have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border since October 2013. 

Immigration advocates and business leaders provided White House officials with a number of potential options for executive action, should the president choose to act on his own. The Washington Post reported that these possible solutions include increasing the number of employment- and family-based green cards available to approximately 800,000 per year, up from the current global cap of 366,000. 

"We believe that the theme for the package of changes you undertake administratively should be focused on opening the legal immigration system for more to benefit," a coalition of businesses and immigrant rights groups led by Bruce Morrison, a former congressman from Connecticut, wrote in a letter to the White House.

President Obama is expected to take action by the end of summer and attended 20 meetings in the last two months, the source reported. White House spokesman Shawn Turner said the president wants to consider all perspectives before he makes a final decision.

Many Republicans are against the idea of increasing the number of immigrants who are allowed to enter the country each year as well as suggested solutions on what to do with the undocumented immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. According to the Washington Post, opponents of reform include many Republicans who believe that immigrants harm the U.S. economy.

 "The increases in foreign workers demanded by corporate lobbyists would be in addition to the administration's plan to implement amnesty by executive fiat, providing work permits to 5 to 6 million illegal immigrants and visa overstays who will be able to take any job in any industry, public or private," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Washington Post.[we're not supposed to use the term illegal immigrant in this feed, so please choose a different quote or summarize this quote instead. in addition, i would recommend not puting something negative so near the bottom of the article – we want to end on a positive note]

Compete America's Executive Director Scott Corley told the Washington Post that the president has options for short-term immigration reform that stay within his authoritative limits.

Mexican president wants immigration reform

Wed, Aug 27 12:47 PM by Romona Paden

The Mexican president met with California Governor Jerry Brown on Aug. 25.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto recently went on a two-day visit to California, where he discussed the need for immigration reform in the U.S. According to the Associated Press, the president met with California Gov. Jerry Brown and the two talked about the historical and cultural ties that are shared between the U.S. and Mexico.

The president reportedly said that people who object to diversity and inclusion will be proven wrong. 

"We want to be a factor of cohesion, not division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States," President Pena Nieto said in his speech Aug. 25. "This, at the end, is about – and only about – a matter of justice for those who contribute so much to the development of the American society."

Gov. Brown signed a bill in 2013 permitting immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. He did so after visiting an artichoke field in Monterey, California, where the immigrant workers shouted "licencia, licencia" as he walked by.

"It wasn't very long ago that the governor of California was outlawing driver's licenses for people who were undocumented from Mexico," Brown said in the joint speech. "That's not the law anymore."

In 1994, immigrants were discriminated against when voters in California passed Proposition 187, which banned undocumented immigrants from having access to health care and education. According to the AP, the law was eventually reversed.

Brown has been an advocate for immigrant rights. He hosted a luncheon in the Mexican president's honor on Aug. 26 after which President Pena Nieto spoke in front of the California State Legislature.

During his speech, President Pena Nieto criticized a number of unnamed governors he considered to be unethical by passing laws that are tough on immigrants, the AP reported. 

"There are still states that have not evolved so much as California, that still skimp on recognition and, even worse, the rights of immigrants," he told the legislature. "Those who still believe and bet for the exclusion and discrimination or the rejection of diversity … I only have one thing to say: the future, and a very near future, will demonstrate your ethical mistake. Time will show we're right."

President Obama considers increasing green cards and H-1B visas

Fri, Aug 22 1:10 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama may increase the number of visas available each year.

While in the midst of considering executive action to address the U.S. immigration crisis, President Barack Obama is also weighing the possibility of increasing the number of green cards and H-1B visas issued to immigrants by as much as 800,000 annually. According to Fox News Latino, technology businesses' request to expand the number of H-1B visas, which are given to immigrants who come to work in the U.S., may become a reality following a meeting with White House officials in early August.

The approach to immigration reform has not been finalized yet, as President Obama did not make a decision on the next steps. However White House spokesman Shawn Turner said in a statement that the president has a number of potential solutions he's considering. The Obama administration and immigration advocates would likely be surprised by an increase in available green cards and visas. The source reported that there would also be a relief in the number of deportations for some undocumented immigrants following failure by Congress to address the issue.

One of the requests from technology business leaders was to make changes to the way green cards are counted. By doing this, there would be a reported 800,000 additional H-1B visas available in one year. If green cards are used a different way, then there would be more H-1B visas available for international workers.

If this were to be the solution President Obama pursued, it would encourage immigrants to use legal avenues for coming to the U.S., make it less difficult for companies who want to bring in talent from overseas to do so, and lessen the wait time for sponsored relatives seeking a green card, Fox News Latino reported.

More than 20 meetings have been held with business groups in recent months to try and find a solution for the immigration crisis. The leaders from these companies are making suggestions on how to address the issue and working with the Obama administration on making the pathway to citizenship for immigrants more streamlined.

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