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Mon, Oct 5 10:10 PM by Romona Paden

La USCIS realiza un examen de historia y uno de inglés a quienes solicitan la naturalización. Esto es lo que debes saber de esos exámenes.

Si estás por iniciar el trámite para obtener la naturalización estadounidense seguramente ya sabes que te harán dos exámenes. El primero es sobre la historia y la política de Estados Unidos y la otra es para evaluar tu nivel de inglés.

El exámen de historia

A través de esta evaluación, la autoridad evalúa tus conocimientos sobre Estados Unidos y su gobierno. La autoridad hace la prueba con la finalidad de comprobar que las personas que obtienen la ciudadanía realmente están involucradas y entienden la cultura estadounidense. Esto es muy importante porque no quieres que luego de recibir la naturalización elijas abandonar el país o renunciar a este procedimiento cuando va muy avanzada.
Este examen se lleva a cabo de forma oral con una sesión simple de preguntas y respuestas. El encargado de realizar la entrevista tendrá un total de 100 preguntas, de estas elegirá 10 al azar. Tú necesitas responder al menos 6 de las 10 preguntas para poder pasar al examen de inglés.

El examen de inglés

Debido a que el idioma predominante en los Estados Unidos es el inglés, es muy importante que quienes adquieran la naturalización se sientan cómodos con ese idioma. Para comprobar que tienes el nivel necesario se te realizará un examen oral, escrito y de lectura.
Si ahora mismo no te sientes muy confiado de superar esta prueba porque tu nivel de inglés es bajo, te recomendamos que antes de iniciar el proceso de naturalización te tomes un tiempo para aprender este idioma y dominarlo tanto como te sea posible.

La importancia de estar a tanto de lo que pasa en Estados Unidos

El examen de historia abarca temas muy diversos, incluyendo la creación de la nación, fechas históricas importantes y acontecimientos recientes de gran relevancia. Es importante que estudies a profundidad porque los oficiales migratorios esperan respuestas específicas y exactas.
Si la persona que te evalúa tiene la impresión de que estás divagando y no le das una respuesta exacta puedes perder tu oportunidad.
Para ayudarte con este examen debes estudiar la guía que el USCIS  tiene disponible y ya si tienes tiempo y disposición puedes complementar con otros materiales.

Las sesiones informativas del USCIS

Las autoridades migratorias saben que los solicitantes pueden encontrar muchos retos al momento de prepararse para los exámenes de naturalización. Por ello, se han creado algunas sesiones que brindan ayuda y resuelven las dudas que los solicitantes pueden tener.
Entre los temas que se tratan en estas sesiones informativas están:

  • Los requisitos de elegibilidad de naturalización
  • Las responsabilidades que se adquieren con la ciudadanía
  • Los derechos que adquieren los ciudadanos naturalizados.
  • Los temas que se evalúan en las pruebas.

Te recomendamos que acudas a tus oficinas locales para averiguar si estas sesiones están disponibles en español. Toma en cuenta que algunas veces solo se programan sesiones en inglés y en otros lugares se tiene una agenda muy específica.

Repetir la prueba

Si el resultado de estas dos evaluaciones no ha sido el esperado probablemente recibas una respuesta negativa para tu solicitud de naturalización. Sin embargo, no debes perder la esperanza ya que siempre puedes reiniciar el procedimiento.
Te recomendamos que antes de iniciar un nuevo proceso te tomes un tiempo para estudiar y prepararte para las evaluaciones. Ahora que ya tienes la experiencia de cómo son, te será más fácil prepararte correctamente.
Si tienes más dudas o necesitas ayuda con el trámite de naturalización nos puedes contactar. Siempre estamos disponibles para ofrecer asesoría a quien la necesite.

Precauciones al prepararte para los exámenes de naturalización

Es muy común ver personas que no han pasado las pruebas de inglés e historia que buscan cualquier método que les ayude. Por desgracia no existen opciones mágicas pero sí te puedes encontrar con cursos o materiales que te ofrecen información poco confiable.
Antes de buscar la asesoría de una empresa te recomendamos que te informes sobre la misma. Nos hemos percatado que cada vez hay más personas pagando a supuestos expertos que en realidad les dan información incompleta o errónea sobre la historia del país.
Si estás buscando un curso de inglés o de historia, procura que los profesores que contrates realmente estén calificados para enseñar.

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.

Obtener un certificado de naturalizaci

Mon, Sep 7 7:12 PM by Romona Paden

Obtener un certificado de naturalización estadounidense

Las personas que obtienen la naturalización reciben de forma automática el certificado que demuestra su nuevo estatus con el formato N-550 o N-570.
Los formatos N-550 y N-570 son el nombre técnico que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos da a su Certificado de Naturalización. Estos formatos son muy importantes porque son la prueba de que esa persona ha obtenido la ciudadanía a través del proceso de naturalización.
Siempre es importante cuidar bien y mantener en un lugar seguro el certificado recibido.

¿Qué es la naturalización?

La naturalización es el procedimiento a través del cual los residentes permanentes pueden convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses. Es un proceso muy complejo que inicia al presentar el formato N-400 ante el organismo encargado de los procesos migratorios en Estados Unidos. Después se debe acudir a la entrevista correspondiente, demostrar que se domina el idioma inglés hablado y escrito y pasar un examen sobre la historia y el gobierno de los Estados Unidos.

¿Necesito solicitar de forma independiente el Certificado de Naturalización?

No. Las personas que se convierten en ciudadanos naturalizados obtienen de forma automática este documento en la ceremonia de naturalización. Serás avisado con bastante tiempo sobre la fecha y requisitos para llevar a cabo la ceremonia una vez que seas aprobado para recibir la ciudadanía.
Los que sí tendrás que hacer es solicitar el pasaporte estadounidense por separado. Este es un documento muy importante para quienes desean viajar fuera de los Estados Unidos. Por regla general se te dará la posibilidad de llenar la solicitud durante la ceremonia de naturalización. En caso de que no completes este trámite, puedes hacerlo después en el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos.

Los cuidados a tener con el Certificado de Naturalización

Muchas personas optan por enmarcar su Certificado de Naturalización. Si es tu caso, es recomendable que antes de hacerlo le saques algunas copias. Se trata de un documento que ocuparás para muchos trámites, sobre todo si piensas ayudar a algún miembro de tu familia a ingresar a los Estados Unidos.
Además, se te requerirá el Certificado de Naturalización para toda clase de trámites, desde educativos hasta obtener la licencia de manejo.
Al ser un documento tan importante te recomendamos:

  • Tenerlo en un lugar seguro.
  • No dejarlo en manos de personas desconocidas.
  • Evitar dejarlo en lugares donde puede mojarse, mancharse o romperse.
  • Optar por usar copias siempre que sea posible, en vez del certificado original.

¿Son lo mismo el Certificado de Naturalización que la Ciudadanía?

No. El Certificado se da solamente a quienes se han convertido en ciudadanos estadounidenses a través de sus padres, abuelos o por la vía legal.

En caso de que tengas más dudas sobre el Certificado de Naturalización o el procedimiento para obtenerlo, recuerda que tenemos asesores expertos que pueden acompañarte en cada paso del proceso.

Guidelines to the U.S. Citizenship test

Fri, Sep 4 11:58 AM by Romona Paden

Taking a test is a necessary part of your application for citizenship.

Making the decision to become a citizen of the United States is an exciting step for someone to take. A major part of that process involves passing a test. The U.S. Citizenship test consists of four parts:  speaking, reading, writing, and civics.

Speaking
Individuals applying for citizenship are required to demonstrate their verbal skills. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers ask questions aloud for the applicants to answer. According to USCIS,  as long as the applicant appears to have an understanding of the question and responds appropriately, he or she has effectively demonstrated his or her ability to speak English.

Reading
To prove they can read English, applicants must read one out of three sentences aloud to the USCIS officer administering the test. To pass this part of the examination, applicants must read one sentence with no extended pauses and with all of the words that contribute to the meaning of the sentence. Pronunciation errors are acceptable so long as they do not interfere with the meaning of the sentence. 

Writing
In order to adequately show the ability to write in English, applicants must correctly write one of three sentences that are dictated to them by a USCIS officer. A passing sentence will have the same general meaning as the dictated one. A few errors or even omissions are acceptable as long as they do not interfere with the overall meaning of the sentence. Numbers may be either spelled out or simply written as digits.

Civics
To sufficiently prove their understanding of the U.S. government and history, applicants must correctly answer six of 10 questions that their USCIS officer asks them in the form of oral examination. A passing grade to this portion of the exam involves simply providing the correct answer. The phrasing can be a little different as long as the meaning of the answer is preserved.

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. 

Trabajar fuera de Estados Unidos con la tarjeta verde

Fri, Aug 7 5:39 PM by Romona Paden

Trabajar fuera de Estados Unidos con la tarjeta verde

Quienes tienen la tarjeta verde y planean trabajar fuera de los Estados Unidos deben conocer las reglas para evitar perder la residencia permanente o para dejar de ser elegible para obtener la ciudadanía estadounidense.

Los residentes permanentes pueden perder su estatus incluso si visitan constantemente los Estados Unidos. Una vez que un inmigrante ha recibido este documento es común que desee viajar al extranjero. Esto no está mal siempre que sigas las siguientes reglas:

1.Demuestra que tienes la intención real de regresar a los Estados Unidos

Las autoridades entienden que abandonas la residencia cuando te estableces en otro país. Para comprobar que realmente tienes la intención de regresar a los Estados Unidos debes mantener o conservar los documentos que lo demuestren:

  • Hipotecas.
  • Registro de automóviles
  • Membresía de clubs deportivos o religiosos
  • Pago de impuestos
  • Estados de cuenta bancarios
  • Depósito o comprobante de pagos de rentas
  • etc.

2.No te ausentes por más de un año

La ley estadounidense señala que cuando pasas más de un año fuera de los Estados Unidos, la tarjeta verde queda sin vigencia. Existen algunas excepciones para este lapso de tiempo que puedes encontrar en el INA 316. Un ejemplo es cuando eres empleado del gobierno de los Estados Unidos y por tu trabajo debes viajar a otro país por más de un año.

¿Cómo evitar la interrupción de la residencia para obtener la ciudadanía?

Quienes ya obtuvieron la residencia tienen la posibilidad de adquirir la residencia. Un punto importante para lograrlo es evitar que la residencia se vea interrumpida por largos lapsos de tiempo. Para esto necesitarás:

1.Vivir al menos tres meses en el estado donde presentes la solicitud de ciudadanía.
2.Vivir en suelo o territorio estadounidense al menos 2 años y medio de los cinco años anteriores al momento en que se presenta la solicitud de ciudadanía.
3.Ser residente continuo de los Estados Unidos al momento del juramento. Toma en cuenta que se te dará una cita para la toma de huellas digitales y fotografía con pocos días de anticipación. Muchas veces, la Oficina de Servicios de Migración y Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos agenda estas citas con un par de días de anticipación y no ven con buenos ojos que no estés disponible.
4.Evita los viajes largos (de seis meses a un año) mientras dura el trámite de obtención de ciudadanía. Si haces viajes así de largos, podrías perder incluso la residencia cuando no tienes empleo o familia en los Estados Unidos. Tampoco es buena idea rentar tu casa mientras estás fuera ni conseguir un empleo en el extranjero por más de seis meses.
5. Evita los viajes en el extranjero que duren más de un año ya que estos automáticamente cancelan la residencia para naturalización. Existen algunas situaciones en las que si puedes viajar sin problemas. Un ejemplo es que trabajes para el gobierno estadounidense y que esto te obligue a estar fuera del país.

Casos en los que podrás viajar al extranjero sin afectar el proceso para obtener la ciudadanía

Una de las excepciones a la interrupción de la residencia para el proceso de naturalización es cuando eres un empleado del gobierno o empresa estadounidense que debe salir del país para cumplir con sus obligaciones laborales.
En caso de que ya tengas más de un año viviendo en los Estados Unidos pero aún no recibas tu residencia, puedes completar el formato N-470 para evitar cualquier problema o mal entendido con el gobierno estadounidense.
Si trabajas para una empresa estadounidense, deberás demostrar que:

  • La empresa para la que trabajas es una empresa estadounidense o que ejerce el 50% de sus funciones comerciales dentro de los Estados Unidos.
  • Tu empleador es una corporación incorporada a algún organismo comercial en los Estados Unidos.
  • Si la empresa no es estadounidense, se debe comprobar que al menos el 51% de sus actividades se llevan a cabo en los Estados Unidos.

Trabajar fuera de los Estados Unidos puede ser un requerimiento obligatorio dentro de tu trabajo. Para hacerlo sin perder los derechos que ya has adquirido y sin perder la posibilidad de obtener la ciudadanía solo sigue las reglas que te mencionamos. En caso de que tengas alguna duda, recuerda que nos puedes contactar.

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.

Sat, Jul 11 4:43 PM by Romona Paden

¿Puedo cambiar mi nombre al aplicar a la ciudadanía estadounidense?

Si has estado esperando el momento perfecto para cambiar tu nombre, tu apellido o ambos, al aplicar para la naturalización estadounidense puede ser tu oportunidad perfecta. Esto implicará algunos ajustes administrativos pero es sencillo de lograr. Puedes cambiar tu nombre sin procedimientos extra ya que basta con llenar el formato N-400 en la parte I, pregunta D.

El requisito de contar con un juez

Aunque se trata de un procedimiento sencillo, tiene como principal requisito la presencia de un juez. Esto puede ser un problema en la oficinas de USCIS en las que no se cuenta con suficientes fechas para la ceremonia. Hay que tomar en cuenta que no todas las oficinas tienen un juez por lo que te recomendaría preguntar primero si este es el caso en la oficina que te corresponde.
En algunas regiones de los Estados Unidos, se lleva a cabo la ceremonia solo un par de veces al año. Te recomiendo analizar si te conviene pasar por este trámite ya que puede retrasar bastante la entrega de tu ciudadanía.
En otras regiones, este trámite es sumamente sencillo y puede ser que durante tu entrevista de naturalización puedas realizar la ceremonia de cambio de nombre en pocos minutos. Eso sí, el resto de tus trámites deberás llevarlos de forma normal.
Si por algún motivo, olvidaste solicitar el cambio de nombre al llevar el formato N-400 y te dan la ciudadanía puedes realizar el cambio de nombre y solicitar un nuevo certificado de naturalización. Para este segundo procedimiento debes completar el formato N-565.
Nuestra recomendación es que contactes directamente a la oficina de USCIS o de forma más directa a alguno de nuestros representantes para recibir una asesoría más completa. Usualmente la USCIS otorga una fecha para la entrevista correspondiente. Si tienes mucha prisa por lograr el cambio de nombre, puedes acudir a la oficina que te corresponda y si tienes suerte, es probable que puedas ocupar el turno de alguien que haya faltado a su cita.

Límites en los nombres que puedes elegir

En general, puedes cambiar tu nombre a cualquiera que desees. Sin embargo, el juez no aprobará el cambio cuando estés en alguna de las siguientes circunstancias:

  • Deseas cambiar tu nombre por razones fraudulentas. Algunos ejemplos es cuando buscas evitar la detención por un delito o evitas pagar una deuda.
  • Tu nuevo nombre puede confundir e interferir con el nombre de otra persona. Esto se suele dar con nombres de actores, deportistas, empresarios o cualquier otro que sea famoso. Algunos ejemplos son Barack Obama y Brad Pitt.
  • El nombre que buscas adoptar puede crear confusiones o relacionarte con empresas de gran importancia. Algunos ejemplos son Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Tu nuevo nombre puede generar confusiones. Este criterio depende demasiado del criterio del juez.
  • El nombre que quieres es obsceno, incita a la violencia, al racismo o es inapropiado.

Para más información sobre la naturalización

Si tienes dudas con este u otro tema relacionado a la naturalización, no dudes en ponerte en contacto con nosotros. Tenemos especialistas que te acompañarán paso a paso durante todo el proceso.

Requisitos basicos para obtener la naturalizacion Americana

Sun, Apr 19 11:13 PM by Romona Paden

Requisitos básicos para obtener la naturalización americana

Si planeas aplicar para obtener la naturalización americana debes prepararte para un proceso largo y riguroso. Muchas personas se quejan de que es un proceso muy demandante pero debes tomar en cuenta que cada año miles de personas aplican para lo mismo. Para garantizar que lograrás tu objetivo debes tener claros los requisitos y seguir el procedimiento al pie de la letra. Para facilitarte el trabajo hemos preparado la siguiente guía.

Requisitos básicos

Antes de iniciar el proceso, asegúrate de contar con todos los requisitos listos. Estos son:

  • Debes contar con la tarjeta verde.
  • Tener al menos 1 año.
  • Has vivido en los Estados Unidos de manera legal como residente permanente durante los cinco años o tu esposo o esposa es un ciudadano americano, refugiado o recibiste tu tarjeta verde por asilo político.
  • Durante los últimos cinco años en que has sido residente permanente, has vivido dentro del país al menos la mitad del tiempo.
  • No has pasado más de un año seguido fuera de los Estados Unidos.
  • No has establecido tu hogar formal en ningún otro país.
  • Has vivido en el estado o distrito en el que completas tu solicitud por los últimos tres meses, mínimo.
  • Tienes una buena reputación moral.
  • Puedes escribir, leer y hablar inglés de forma fluida.
  • Tienes los conocimientos apropiados para pasar un examen sobre la historia y gobierno de los Estados Unidos.
  • Estás dispuesto a jurar que crees y cumplirás los principios sociales y políticos que marca la Constitución de los Estados Unidos.

Sobre la aplicación y tu historial migratorio

Si estás seguro de cumplir con todos los requisitos que te mencioné antes, entonces ve organizando tu aplicación. Sigue estos pasos:
Completa la solicitud de naturalización americana que puedes encontrar en la página web de Asuntos Migratorios.
A la solicitud debes adjuntar una copia de tu tarjeta verde vigente, las fotos requeridas y el comprobante de pago.
Debes recordar que esta agencia tiene una gran carga de trabajo por lo que su respuesta puede tardar varios meses, después de los cuales se te citará.
El día de la cita se tomarán las impresiones de tus huellas digitales y se te dará una nueva cita.
Mientras esperas, prepárate para cualquier pregunta que te puedan realizar. Toma en cuenta que cada viaje que has realizado fuera de los Estados Unidos será cuestionado. Debes asegurarte de llevar toda la documentación que demuestre que has dejado completamente a tu país.
En tu siguiente visita, asegúrate de responder a todas las preguntas solamente con la verdad. En caso de que el agente determine que estás mintiendo podrán negarte la naturalización. Si la mentira es muy grave, puede darse el caso de que te decomisen la tarjeta verde y procedan a tu deportación.

La entrevista

Más que una entrevista, se trata de un examen. El oficial de la Oficina de Asuntos Migratorios evaluará tu nivel de inglés y tus conocimientos de la historia de los Estados Unidos y su gobierno. El examen no se hace con la finalidad de que te equivoques pero toma en cuenta que la evaluación será muy estricta. Sería bueno que te tomes algunos días para estudiar específicamente para tu examen. Si te es posible, no dudes en contratar a un asesor para que te ayude en la preparación.
En caso de que tengas alguna discapacidad física, puedes solicitar lo necesario para facilitar tu comodidad.

La ceremonia de naturalización

Si todo sale bien en tu entrevista se te agendará una cita para la ceremonia de naturalización. Esta ceremonia es muy importante porque es la que finalmente te dará el carácter de ciudadano. Obtendrás y firmarás el certificado de naturalización que prueba tu ciudadanía. Una vez que tengas este documento podrás solicitar el ingreso legal a los Estados Unidos de tus familiares más cercanos.
Como sabemos que el proceso puede generar muchas dudas, te ofrecemos la ayuda necesaria. Solo debes contactarnos aquí.

Conoce los beneficios de la ciudadania Americana

Sat, Mar 21 10:43 PM by Romona Paden

Conoce los beneficios de la ciudadanía americana

La ciudadanía americana es muy deseada por miles de inmigrantes que arriban al país desde diferentes puntos del mundo, pero, veamos ahora con detenimiento cuáles son los principales beneficios que puedes disfrutar si la adquieres.
Si eres extranjero y resides en los Estados Unidos puedes convertirte en ciudadano mediante el proceso conocido como nacionalización o naturalización. Claro, si eres un inmigrante legal, tienes todo tu derecho a elegir si quieres vivir en los Estados Unidos como extranjero o si quieres convertirte en ciudadano americano.

¿Por qué es importante la nacionalización para un inmigrante?

Existen algunos detalles sobre este tema que debes conocer. Por ejemplo, no todos los inmigrantes pueden nacionalizarse pues se deben cumplir ciertos requisitos y uno de ellos es que la persona resida en los Estados Unidos de forma legal, de otra forma no es posible avanzar en este sentido, al menos por ahora.

El proceso de nacionalización:

Estados Unidos permite la doble nacionalidad, esto quiere decir que si eres extranjero y adquieres la nacionalidad estadounidense no estás obligado a renunciar a tu nacionalidad de origen. Esto no implica que tengas que pagar más impuestos, sólo tendrás que seguir pagando lo que normalmente paga todo residente legal en el país.
También es importante que sepas que los extranjeros que hacen el proceso de nacionalización de los Estados Unidos no están obligados a servir en las Fuerzas Armadas, pero, sí deben juramentar su disposición a la defensa de los Estados Unidos.
En general este es un proceso que ayuda a que los inmigrantes legales tengan los mismos derechos que el resto de los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos. Ahora veremos concretamente cuáles son estas ventajas de las que hemos estado hablando:

  • Derecho al voto.
  • Beneficios migratorios para los miembros de tu familia.
  • Los hijos tuyos que nazcan fuera del territorio de Estados Unidos también adquieren la nacionalidad americana.
  • Tienes derecho al pasaporte estadounidense con el cual es mucho más fácil ingresar en cualquier otro país.
  • Puedes solicitar y ocupar puestos federales.
  • No tienes que preocuparte por residir en el extranjero durante largos períodos de tiempo.
  • A diferencia de la residencia permanente la ciudadanía no expira.
  • Desaparece el peligro de que te deporten.
  • No tienes que presentar ningún documento especial para probar tu ciudadanía.

Requisitos para convertirse en ciudadano estadounidense

  • Tener más de 18 años.
  • Ser inmigrante legal.
  • Residir en territorio estadounidense durante al menos cinco años, como residente permanente legal; o tres años si estás casado(a) con un(a) ciudadano(a) estadounidense.
  • Residir físicamente en territorio estadounidense al menos durante la mitad del tiempo de residencia.
  • Tener la aprobación del Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Dominar el inglés.
  • Pasar y aprobar el examen de historia y gobierno de los Estados Unidos.
  • Hacer un juramento por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos durante la Ceremonia de Ciudadanía.
  • Presentar el formato de solicitud (N-400)

Desventajas:

  • El solicitante se somete a una investigación para determinar si cometió algún tipo de irregularidad durante su proceso de residencia.
  • El FBI investigará tus antecedentes penales.

Como puedes ver son muchas las ventajas (y pocas las desventajas) de obtener la ciudadanía americana. Si tienes cualquier otra duda al respecto y quieres comenzar tus trámites sólo tienes que contactarnos. Estamos en la mejor disposición de ayudarte en todo lo que necesites.

Ventajas de obtener la ciudadania estadounidense

Mon, Jan 12 4:18 PM by Romona Paden

Ventajas de obtener la ciudadanía estadounidense

Obtener la ciudadanía estadounidense es una de las metas de muchos inmigrantes. Si aún no sabes las razones, aquí las enumeramos.

1. Derecho a voto
Los residentes permanentes legales no están exentos de las leyes de Estados Unidos, impuestos y otras medidas políticas. Al convertirte en ciudadano estadounidense podrás votar por representantes políticos y apoyar de forma más directa nuevas leyes locales, estatales y federales.

2. Tienes la posibilidad de ocupar cargos públicos
Puedes estar muy interesado en ocupar un cargo público y ser parte de los cambios sociales y políticos de Estados Unidos, pero solo podrás hacerlo con una ciudadanía estadounidense.

3. Eres elegible para empleos o beneficios federales
Si quieres una carrera en el gobierno, es posible siempre que tengas la ciudadanía americana. Eso sí, debes ser rápido porque algunas agencias gubernamentales ponen ciertas limitaciones para quienes no iniciaron el proceso para obtener la ciudadanía en los primeros seis meses después de su llegada. Estas limitaciones pueden aplicarse a carreras o beneficios.

4. Poder viajar al extranjero por largos períodos de tiempo
Probablemente desees viajar al extranjero a visitar a la familia que dejaste en tu país de origen o tu trabajo te exige varios viajes. Los ciudadanos americanos pueden viajar tanto como deseen sin restricción alguna, mientras que los residentes deben viajar menos de seis meses para no perder su estatus.

5. La deportación no es un problema
La deportación no es un riesgo solo para los inmigrantes indocumentados, los residentes permanentes también pueden ser deportados si cometen un delito. Como ciudadano estadounidense tienes garantizada la permanencia dentro del país.

6. Puedes ayudar a tus familiares a obtener la tarjeta verde
Desde tus padres a tus hermanos o tu esposo, tendrás la capacidad de ayudarles a obtener la tarjeta verde. Si tienes hijos menores de 18 años y tú eres el tutor legal, automáticamente obtiene la ciudadanía contigo.

7. Te puedes beneficiar de las leyes fiscales estadounidenses
Si tu esposo también es un ciudadano americano, puedes heredarle bienes raíces exentos de impuestos a la propiedad.

8. Eres elegible para diversos beneficios económicos
Si necesitas una beca para seguir estudiando o una ayuda económica para tener una vida más estable, el gobierno cuenta con alternativas que solo benefician a los ciudadanos americanos.

9. Obtienes el pasaporte estadounidense
Si viajas a otro país, contarás con toda la protección del gobierno estadounidense a través de sus embajadas y consulados.

10. Puedes conservar tu ciudadanía actual
Aunque la ceremonia de ciudadanía conserva la renuncia de la ciudadanía que tengas actualmente, puedes omitir dicha parte.

Si tenías dudas o estabas confundido sobre las ventajas de la ciudadanía americana, ahora ya sabes que es una alternativa para obtener beneficios más completos.

97-year-old Chinese immigrant finally obtains US citizenship

Mon, Nov 10 12:30 PM by Romona Paden

An elderly immigrant voted for the first time after becoming a U.S. citizen in fall 2014.

The process of gaining American citizenship can be a complex and lengthy one, taking several years to fulfill the requirements and wait for a visa to become available. Few people know this fact better than Chengyi Pan, a Chinese immigrant woman who has obtained citizenship at the ripe age of 97.

According to NBC Minneapolis affiliate KARE, Pan came to the country in 2009, emigrating from China after her husband died. She moved to be closer to her kids, settling in Winona, Minnesota, where her daughter, Ting Ni, worked as a St. Mary's University history professor before retirement. Pan herself is a retired principal and physicist, though she now resides at the Sauer Health Care nursing home.

While many elderly immigrants choose not to go through the hassle of applying for a green card and remain undocumented through the end of their lives, Pan made it her goal to obtain U.S. citizenship. As her daughter expressed to KARE, it's not a surprise that she was so dedicated to becoming a legal resident of the U.S.

"She believes Americans are best people in the world," said Ni.

The right to vote
After taking her oath of citizenship in fall, Pan obtained her green card just in time to vote during the 2014 midterm elections. This was Pan's first time voting in her lifetime, Ni told the source.

"Probably you know in China the citizens don't have the right to vote and so the most significant thing is that she votes at the age of 97 first time," Ni explained.

In the retirement home, Pan took a trip down the hall to the in-house polling place. There, she registered to vote with the help of an election judge. When she filled out her ballot, she used a magnifying glass to examine it, as her eyesight is deteriorating. After casting her ballot, Pan was met with cheers and hugs and proudly wore her "I voted" sticker on her shirt.

As her daughter explained, it was truly an American dream come true.

"She said she's excited and now that she's American she will be informed about American affairs and also about world affairs," Ni said. "And she can look at things from now on from an American perspective."

USCIS changes definition of ‘mother’

Wed, Oct 29 12:11 PM by Romona Paden

One of the main concerns of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reuniting families separated by borders. When green cards or visas become available, those who are family members or people with U.S. citizenship are considered priority candidates, and some may even have their applications expedited depending on the age of the applicant and the circumstances. That's why USCIS heads programs such as Haitian Family Reunification Parole and deferred action for childhood arrivals. In another effort to bring families together, the agency has expanded the definition of "mother."

Defining 'mother'
On Oct. 28, USCIS announced that it issued a new policy, PA-2014-009, concerning the definition of the terms "mother" and "parent." The policy clarifies the terms under the Immigration and Nationality Act, collaborating with the Department of State to come up with an agreeable and appropriate interpretation of these words. According to these new definitions under the INA, the terms "mother" and "parent" include any mother who:

  • Gave birth to the child
  • Was the legal mother of the child at the time of birth according to the regulations of the relevant jurisdiction

The role of reproductive technology
"Mother" will now include gestational maternal parents who used assisted reproductive therapy, making it easier for them to obtain U.S. citizenship to stay with the child. As such, the parent does not have to be genetically linked to the child to be considered his or her legal parent. With the increasing availability of reproductive technologies around the globe, it is becoming more common for mothers to meet this definition without actually having a genetic relationship with the child, such as of the parent became pregnant through an egg donor.

This new policy expands the definition and allows gestational mothers utilizing assisted reproductive technology to stay with their children. Under the new regulation, the parent can also take advantage of the following rights:

  • To be able to petition for her child based on their familial relationship
  • To have the child petitioned for by someone else according to their relationship
  • To transmit American citizenship to the child if all other citizen requirements are in order and she is a resident of the U.S.

Controversies
Some people are upset about this new definition, saying that it will allow fertility clinics to essentially sell U.S. citizenship to immigrants.

"[The policy will] let the surrogate birth industry sell U.S. citizenship – and access to the U.S. welfare system – to foreign parents who never even set foot in the United States," the Daily Caller claims.

Putting aside far-fetched notions such as this, the expansion of the definitions of "parent" and "mother" is an excellent step forward for the USCIS initiative to reunify families, and children and parents around the globe will benefit greatly from the change.

California DMVs prepare to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants

Tue, Oct 28 3:43 PM by Romona Paden

The state of California will start granting licenses to undocumented immigrants at the beginning of 2015.

Within the past few years, several states have begun to grant driver's licenses and identification cards to immigrants who came to the country as children and do not hold American citizenship. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has been working to make this a reality in The Golden State with the passage of law AB 60, which awards licenses to those here illegally {see note above} who learn the rules of the road and pass a driving test. The legislation has come across many hurdles; however, in September 2014, the federal government finally signed off on California's design for the new immigrant licenses, and DMVs across the state are preparing to start granting licenses in January 2015.

Overcoming hurdles
This comes as wonderful news for those awaiting permanent U.S. citizenship – a driver's license will allow many to live more fulfilling and successful lives during this time of waiting. However, it came with some very disheartening delays and issues. As The Hill reported, the initial design for the California licenses for undocumented immigrants were dangerously similar in appearance to those for people who hold American citizenship.

The REAL ID Act allowed each state a certain amount of freedom concerning how they design their licenses, but the federal government found that California's immigrant IDs were not distinct enough. On the front, the design was identical to regular licenses except for one small detail: Where the ID says "DL" ("driver's license") in small text to the right of the picture, it would instead read "DP" ("driving privilege"). The aim of the similar design was to ensure that undocumented immigrants are not treated unfairly if an official notices that they is living in the country without citizenship.

As the Los Angeles Times noted in a September 2014 editorial, some people believe that allowing immigrants to hold licenses, particularly ones that so closely resemble IDs for people with American citizenship, is a way of rewarding people for engaging in illegal activity.

"Already, critics of AB 60 are arguing that providing driver's licenses to people who are in the United States illegally rewards them for breaking the law," the LA Times editorial stated. "But that's putting politics before common sense. AB 60 doesn't condone illegal immigration. Rather, it recognizes the argument made by some law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, that we are all safer if those immigrants who are currently driving without a license are taught to operate a car safely and are tested to ensure that they meet the same standards as other drivers. Licenses will also deter hit-and-run accidents by taking away one of the chief incentives to flee the scene."

The new license design
After the initial design was rejected, California went to work changing the design to meet federal guidelines. The new licenses will have the phrase "federal limits apply" across the front so it is very clear at first glance that the holder is an undocumented immigrant. Additionally, the back would read "This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes." This puts specific limitations on the use of the license. For example, it cannot be used to enter a federal building or board a plane.

With the new design approved by the U.S. government, those without American citizenship wishing to obtain a license may want to start preparing for a visit to the DMV at the start of 2015. California officials are still determining what documents one will need to obtain a license, but it's expected the list will include utility bills or receipts, residential leases and other forms of proof of address.

New documentary ‘The Vigil’ calls for immigration reform

Mon, Oct 27 2:24 PM by Romona Paden

You don't have to be awaiting U.S. citizenship to know that immigration reform is a hot topic as of late. The subject has been in the spotlight recently as the world awaits announcements from President Barack Obama regarding the state of the reform initiative, and it has also begun taking over the big screen. In fact, at Seattle's Social Justice Film Festival on Oct. 24, a new film was screened for the first time calling for quick action on reform: "The Vigil."

About 'The Vigil'
This documentary was created by director Jenny Alexander, who serves as an independent filmmaker and a producer at Northern Light Productions. "The Vigil" tells the story of two women, Gina and Rosa, who were mothers in the U.S. living without documentation in Arizona at a time when the state was going through some of the most controversial anti-immigration changes in history.

In 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, which requires police to ensure that a person has American citizenship when he or she is arrested or detained. Police were given the right to conduct such investigations if there was "reasonable suspicion" that the suspect was living illegally in the country. SB 1070 created a wave of similar regulations across the U.S., and activists and social reform organizations in every corner of the country have been challenging the law. The American Civil Liberties Union, for instance, has been one of the strongest voices against such strict anti-immigration regulations.

"Laws inspired by Arizona's SB 1070 invite rampant racial profiling against Latinos, Asian-Americans and others presumed to be 'foreign' based on how they look or sound," the ACLU said in a statement. "They also authorize police to demand papers proving citizenship or immigration status from anyone they stop and suspect of being in the country unlawfully."

Thousands of children were separated from their families with this new law, and many have lived in fear of deportation every day. Gina and Rosa are no exception. As the documentary explained, Gina crossed the Mexican-U.S. border in 2012 along with 6.7 million other Mexicans who came to live in the country without the permission of the American government. But she was not greeted with welcome arms and is still waiting to be granted U.S. citizenship. Gina, as well as and Rosa, were at constant risk of being deported, separated from their children and removed from life as they knew it.

At the screening
After participants viewed the movie at the Social Justice Film Festival, they were treated to a panel discussion with Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Vargas shared his own personal story as an undocumented American, according to The Daily. Vargas lived in the U.S. for more than two decades without American citizenship, after his mother sent him to the country from the Philippines when he was a small boy.

"America is my home, it's where I spent the bulk of my life," Vargas said during the discussion. He went on to express that personal connections among U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants play a huge role in the issue of immigration reform. "Once you started thinking that they're someone's kids, and someone's mom, all the sudden it changes."

In addition to Vargas' panel, there were presentations by Pramila Jayapal, an immigration activist and Senate candidate for Washington, and immigration attorney Jorge Barón. The documentary's main characters, Gina and Rosa, also attended the screening, which served to shed light on the struggle to obtain American citizenship and reinforced the importance of immigration reform.

"They've worked hard, just like us," said community member Nancy Eastham. "There should be a way of getting documented."

Almost 1,000 sworn in as citizens in Texas

Tue, Sep 30 12:23 PM by Romona Paden

Nearly 1,000 immigrants were sworn in as U.S. citizens in a ceremony in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 29.

A naturalization ceremony in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 29 saw nearly 1,000 people from 87 different countries sworn in as U.S. citizens. According to Austin CBS affiliate KEYE, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel presided over the hour-long ceremony

One of those to gain U.S. citizenship was Aracely Garcia-Granados, executive director of the nonprofit Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together. The source reported that she was born in Guatemala and has been living in the U.S. for eight years. 

Felipe Cruz was also another individual who became a U.S. citizen during the ceremony in Austin. According to Time Warner Cable News, Cruz moved to the U.S. from Brazil in 2000. Cruz said it took him 14 years to become a citizen.

Others who were naturalized in Austin on Sept. 29 told Time Warner Cable News how happy they were to be American citizens. Many of them have spent years in the U.S. and have wanted to become citizens since their arrival. 

"I'm happy to be American citizen and to see all the people and it's a good day for my life," Martha Ngon, who moved from South Sudan to Austin four years ago, told the source. 

Austin is a diverse city where many immigrants who come to the U.S. choose to live. According to KEYE, 24 percent of startup companies in the city are founded by people who were born outside of the U.S. In addition, there are more than 70 languages spoken in Travis County, where Austin is located. 

Those who participated in the ceremony were given certificates honoring their U.S. citizenship, and local residents were given an application to become voters. According to KEYE​, many of the people who were naturalized during the ceremony became citizens in September so they could vote in the upcoming November elections.

Woman granted citizenship 86 years late

Tue, Sep 30 11:42 AM by Romona Paden

An 90-year-old woman in Syracuse, New York, was granted citizenship 86 years late due to a clerical error.

Anne Zajac of Liverpool, New York, has lived in the U.S. since she came to the country with her parents from Poland in 1928. That was 86 years ago, when she was 3 years old. According to the Associated Press, Zajac, now age 90, thought she was a U.S. citizen for decades. However, what Zajac didn't know is that a clerical error in 1935 meant that she had been living as an undocumented immigrant despite paying taxes, voting and receiving her Social Security card.

When her husband Henry Zajac died in October 2013, she went to file paperwork in order to receive her husband's Social Security benefits. According to Syracuse.com, it was in November 2013, after attempting to file the paperwork, that she realized she was not a U.S. citizen. In order to be eligible to receive her husband's Social Security benefits, Zajac had to prove she was a citizen, but she quickly learned there was no record of her citizenship. 

Zajac's son, Richard Zajac, called U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei's office for help. Maffei's office was able to help find Zajac's parents' citizenship application from 1935. According to the source, it was filed in Oswego County, New York. 

After filing her application and supporting documents, Zajac was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Immigration services officer Richard Bessette was the one who made Zajac's citizenship official by swearing her in. However, instead of making her drive to the nearby office in Syracuse, he stopped by her home so she could take the oath of citizenship, the source reported.

To celebrate Zajac's citizenship, a representative from Maffei's office was there to give ​her an American flag that was flown over the U.S. capitol. She also received a certificate of citizenship. Zajac's family was also  there, including her sister, children, grand children and great-grandchildren.

New policy allows undocumented immigrants to serve in US military

Mon, Sep 29 1:37 AM by Romona Paden

Undocumented immigrants can now sign up for the U.S. military due to the expansion of an existing program.

A new policy that was announced by the Department of Defense on Sept. 29 stated that undocumented immigrants will be permitted to join the U.S. military. According to USA Today, this will be the first time in decades that undocumented immigrants will have the chance to join the ranks of the military due to an expansion of rules in an existing program. The program will permit recruiters to encourage foreign nationals with high-demand skills to join in the armed forces.

Some of these high-demand skills include foreign language expertise and specialized health care training, the source reported. The program is known as the Military Accessions in the National Interest (MAVNI), and it is open to undocumented immigrants who do not have a proper visa but entered the U.S. with their parents before turning 16. Those who want to participate in MAVNI will also be permitted to stay in the U.S. through the Obama administration's policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA). 

The source stated that the expansion of the program by officials at the Pentagon may be the first step of the government's attempt to take the pressure off of immigrants and create a new pathway to citizenship for those who entered the country without following the proper legal channels. 

Although there are as many as 2.1 million children, teenagers and young adults living in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants and who qualify for DACA, the MAVNI program has an annual cap of 1,500 recruits. According to the source, individuals who are the most likely to be targeted by MAVNI are those with language skills that are critical to national security such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto or Persian.

Those who enter the U.S. military are eligible to become U.S. citizens under an expedited process. The source stated that more than 92,000 service members born outside the U.S. have become citizens while serving in uniform since 2001.

Cities join together to push for citizenship

Thu, Sep 18 4:40 PM by Romona Paden

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants the city to be the nation's most immigrant-friendly.

Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City are banding together in an attempt to get legal immigrants U.S. citizenship. According to the Chicago Tribune, the initiative is called Cities for Citizenship and will allow the cities to expand their naturalization programs and give U.S. citizenship through a $1.1 million contribution from Citigroup. 

The Center for Popular Democracy and the National Partnership for New Americans will coordinate the joint effort. The source stated that the goal of the initiative is to encourage cities across the U.S. to invest more in helping immigrants become U.S. citizens.

Cities for Citizenship was announced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. The trio said that through naturalization, new citizens will have access to better jobs and academic scholarships. In addition to the benefits seen by the immigrants themselves, the cities will also see an economic boost. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, giving U.S. citizenship to immigrants could add between $1.8 billion and $4.1 billion to New York City's economy, between $1 billion and $1.6 billion to Chicago's, and between $1.6 billion and $2.8 billion to Los Angeles'.

"Citizenship is a powerful poverty-fighting tool because it brings huge economic benefits to families and to communities," de Blasio said in a joint press release issued by the three mayors. "More than that, it helps keep families together."

Emanuel said his goal is to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the U.S. In the Windy City, nearly half of all new businesses are started by immigrants, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Garcetti added that immigrants play a major role in the nation's economy and said it was time to encourage their integration into U.S. culture without letting political issues get in the way. 

O’Malley, Obama administration disagree on immigration

Fri, Jul 18 11:31 AM by Romona Paden

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and President Barack Obama have reached a disagreement.

Maryland Gov​. Martin O'Malley has traditionally been a strong ally of President Barack Obama and his administration. During Obama's bid for re-election in 2012, O'Malley raised over $1 million for the president's campaign and, numerous times, supported him publicly in the media. However, the two seem to have reached an impasse where immigration reform is concerned.

Last Friday, O'Malley, while speaking at a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association being held in Nashville, Tennessee, made it clear that he feels deportation of unaccompanied immigrant children is not in their best interests and that he does not support it.

"We are Americans, and we do not return refugee kids who find themselves on our doorstep back into war-torn or famine-racked places where they will face certain death," O'Malley told reporters. "I think we have to act like Americans."

Unfortunately for all parties involved, O'Malley's statements come in stark opposition to his actions. After having been called upon by the Obama administration to potentially house unaccompanied immigrant children in his home state, O'Malley raised objections to the opening of a federal shelter in Carroll County, Maryland. The shelter was to be built inside an old military building in Westminster. The building was spray painted with a misspelled and racist sentiment last week, perhaps validating O'Malley's claims that it is an unfit venue for hosting immigrant children. The Baltimore Police Department is investigating the graffiti as a hate crime.

O'Malley is considering putting in a bid for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016, and immigration reform is sure to be at the forefront of his campaign platform. Many political analysts believe that his outspokenness on the immigration issue is an effort to distinguish himself from other potential candidates. 

O'Malley has been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform in Maryland, approving a state "Dream Act" that provided undocumented immigrants with in-state tuition at local colleges and allowed those individuals to obtain driver's licenses.

Anti-Immigration protests met with pro-reform sympathies

Wed, Jul 16 5:39 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration protesters on both sides of the issue are making their voices heard.

While the nation waits for a response from Congress regarding President Barack Obama's request of $3.7 billion to stem the recent tide of undocumented immigrants, groups protesting the surge of undocumented individuals have begun to appear across the country. While this is somewhat unsurprising, an interesting dynamic has begun to unfold as anti-immigration protestors all over have found themselves met by equally vocal groups supporting comprehensive immigration reform and immigrant rights.

In Murrieta, California, last week, buses carrying undocumented immigrants and unaccompanied immigrant children to a federal holding area were forced to reroute after protesters blocked their way for hours. In Fontana, California, however, 40 individuals brought in on a Department of Homeland Security bus have been welcomed by the community with donations containing clothing, food and even toys for the children.

The same sort of parallel appears to be occurring in Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad has discouraged the federal government from sending any undocumented immigrants seeking a home while they wait for their immigration hearings. At the same time, Kathleen McQuillen, Iowa program director of the American Friends Service Committee, is leading a group that's outraged at the state's unwillingness to help immigrant children.

"It's a simple thing to begin to say, what's important in this world?" McQuillen told CNN.

These scenes of demonstrated disagreement are occurring all over the country as the federal government scrambles to find a solution to what has been labeled by many, including Obama, as a humanitarian crisis. In an eight-month period leading up to June 15, 2014, over 52,000 unaccompanied children were detained at the U.S./Mexico border attempting to enter the country, the vast majority of them being from Central America. It is estimated that by the end of the year that number will be nearly 90,000, leaving federal authorities at a loss for a solution.

Los Angeles will no longer comply with ICE hold requests

Wed, Jul 9 11:02 AM by Romona Paden

The LAPD will no longer comply with ICE detainer requests.

In a move that's drawn mixed reactions from the American populace, the Los Angeles Police Department will no longer follow immigration detainer requests issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency without fair judicial review. The announcement of the new policy came on July 7 from Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose office also posted multiple times on Twitter regarding the new protocol to be upheld by the LAPD.

ICE hold requests occur after federal authorities cross check the fingerprints of locally arrested individuals with federal immigration databases. If they find a potential match and believe that the individual in custody may be an undocumented immigrant or have a warrant against them, agents can ask to have the person held for up to 48 hours. Historically, this time has given the federal agents a window in which they can pick up that individual and expedite them into deportation proceedings. Objections have been raised to this process across the country from immigration reform advocates who find the process unconstitutional. Garcetti indicated to the Los Angeles Times that he feels this process will be made far more fair through requiring a judicial review.

"The way it exists right now, you don't even have to go to a judge,"Garcetti told the source. "It's just an ICE office who says, 'Hold that person' – period. That no longer will be honored. Like most things, it will have to go through a judge."

According to data kept internally, the LAPD makes roughly 105,000 arrests each year and receive ICE detainer requests for nearly 3,400 of them. Los Angeles joins multiple other cities in California and across the country in ruling not to honor ICE detainer requests any further, much to the satisfaction of immigration reform advocates. Steve Soboroff, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, indicated that the move is one based in reluctance to offer differential treatment to any arrested persons simply at the request of the federal government.

"The idea of the government calling and saying, 'Hold him another 48 hours for this specific purpose,'" Soboroff told KNX 1070 News Radio. "To me, I would like not to do that."

Obama requests $3.7 billion for immigration crisis

Tue, Jul 8 1:45 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to address the immigration crisis.

White House officials reported on Tuesday that President Barack Obama will be asking Congress for approximately $3.7 billion to better respond to the rapid influx of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. The majority of this money would reportedly be used the processing of the thousands of individuals who are currently awaiting notice for deportation hearings in detainment centers across the Southwestern United States. According to CNN, this would include processing immigrants who have already arrived, aiding Central American countries in responding to the outpouring of their residents, prosecuting smugglers and providing a better standard of care for the child immigrants currently in federal custody. Since October 2013, over 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border into America.

Republicans have already widely voiced their disapproval of President Obama's request. Following a speech last week in the Rose Garden in which Obama brought the issue to light, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he thought Obama was looking for a "blank check" to resolve an issue that was the result of his leniency regarding immigration policy.

To further complicate things, Obama is headed to Texas this Wednesday. Texas has quickly become fixed as the center of the immigration debate given its proximity to the border. In a move that has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, Obama is not planning to visit the border areas of the state during the one day that he is there. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been at the forefront of that criticism.

Following a failed run at the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2012, Perry may look to use the immigration debate as a springboard for his candidacy. His home state of Texas has spent over $500 million this decade in attempting to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing its borders.

President Obama has invited Perry to a private meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, though Perry did not immediately respond.

Victory for immigration advocates in Arizona

Tue, Jul 8 11:33 AM by Romona Paden

An executive order from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has been overturned.

Proponents of immigration reform won a considerable victory in Arizona  July 7 when an appeals court in Arizona overruled an executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer had ordered that driver's licenses be denied to undocumented immigrants who have received work permits through President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Child Immigrants program. These individuals, known as "Dreamers," often need driver's licenses to use their work permits as many employers require them as a condition of employment.

DACA was announced in June of 2012, and took effect that August. DACA was aimed at immigrants who entered the United States as minors and were younger than 30 years of age in August 2012. It provided the individuals meeting these requirements with protection from deportation for two years as well as employee authorization documents (EADs).

The ruling, which came from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, explained that the immigrants in question were being harmed by unequal treatment by the state of Arizona. This decision also represents the end of a litigation battle that spanned more than a year. Last year, Arizona expanded its law to also ban licenses for any immigrants who had been granted deferred action from deportation. Most who benefited from that decision were allowed immunity from deportation because of negative humanitarian situations in their home countries, such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse and human trafficking.

Many supporters of reform, including Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, have suggested that the ban Brewer proposed, which came on August 15, 2012 (the exact same day DACA went into effect) was a result of her distaste for President Obama.

"This policy was motivated by a political relationship (between) Gov. Brewer and Obama, and she had no good reason and no basis in the law to do this," Pochoda told the Associated Press.

Brewer's proposal is no longer in effect, though she has indicated that she intends to appeal the ruling. 

Members of Congress to tour children’s detention center

Mon, Jul 7 11:26 AM by Romona Paden

Congress will be touring a holding facility for unaccompanied child immigrants this Tuesday.

A tour of an immigration detention center has been scheduled for members of Congress on July 8. The tour has been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and will be in response to a continually growing concern regarding the recent surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border from Central America into the U.S.

The tour itself will be of a temporary facility that has been erected at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, one of several holding facilities across the Southwestern states in which children and other immigrants are being kept until they can be given proper deportation proceedings. The sheer number of people within these facilities has caused a great deal of speculation as to whether authorities are doing enough to provide proper living conditions. Since October 2013, more than 50,000 unaccompanied child immigrants have been detained after crossing into America.

Indeed, the worry regarding the conditions being provided in the detainment centers was furthered recently when Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., was refused access to a facility at Fort Sill, one of three such facilities in which children are being held. After being told that the earliest he would be granted entrance would be nearly three weeks later on July 21, he expressed his concern as to what might be happening to motivate such a long waiting period.

"Any member of Congress should have the legal authority to visit a federal youth detention facility without waiting three weeks," Bridenstine told Fox News. "What are they trying to hide? As a Navy pilot, I have been involved in operations countering illicit human trafficking. I would like to know to whom these children are being released."

The tour scheduled for Tuesday comes just slightly before President Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress for roughly $2 billion to move forward with his plans to resolve the border-crossing crisis.

Federal government launches new immigration ad campaign

Thu, Jul 3 11:12 AM by Romona Paden

A new ad campaign seeks to highlight the dangers of immigration

In response to a dramatic surge of undocumented immigrants entering the Southwestern United States, the federal government has launched a new ad campaign targeted at highlighting the potential dangers of immigration. The campaign, which is budgeted at over $1 million, is aimed primarily at Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ideally, the initiative will be able to dissuade people from soliciting potentially dangerous services from "coyotes" or smugglers. 

What's being referred to as the "Dangers Awareness Campaign" is expected to spread its message via the use of hundreds of billboards and roughly 6,500 pre-recorded public service announcements on local television channels and radio stations in the target nations. The campaign was announced by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. He made his intentions regarding the recent uptick in immigration concise and clear during a press conference on Wednesday in Mission, Texas, near the Rio Grande River.

"We have to stem the flow," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press.

Customs and Border Protection insist that the campaign is being launched with the intent of reducing risk on all sides. Since October 2013, over 52,000 unaccompanied child immigrants have been detained crossing into America. Perhaps even more upsetting is the fact that during that same period 226 immigrants have died making the passage. For many, the gravity of this situation was driven home when the body of a Guatemalan boy was found just a mile from the Rio Grande earlier this week. He had allegedly been traveling from his home nation to Chicago to attempt to find his brother.

Each of the advertisements in the campaign will feature a sort of mini-storyline regarding immigration and then end with the words, "They are our future. Protect them." Though the messages will vary in form, they are all expected to highlight the dangers of the smugglers, or "coyotes," who offer to take undocumented immigrants into America, albeit for a lofty price tag. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz elaborated on this at Wednesday's press conference.

"We want a relative that is about to send $5,000, $6,000 to a relative in El Salvador to see this message and say 'Oh my god, they're saying that the journey is more dangerous,'" Ruiz told the AP. "We try to counter the version of the smuggler."

Montana immigration law ruled unconstitutional

Tue, Jun 24 11:03 AM by Romona Paden

A federal judge in Montana has found Legislative Referendum 121 unconstitutional.

A judge in Montana ruled this week that a law approved by voters in 2012 was, in fact, unconstitutional. The law, Legislative Referendum 121, attempted to limit the amount of money spent on undocumented immigrants by denying them any sort of federal income, such as a government job or access to a federally subsidized assistance program.

Ultimately, Legislative Referendum 121 called for the creation and enactment of a very large database. The database in question was to hold information regarding the citizenship status of Montanans, and would be checked whenever an individual applied for either a government job or a federally subsidized program, such as welfare, unemployment or assistance for victims of crime. Were the person in question a citizen, nothing would happen. Were they an undocumented immigrant, however, their information would be handed over to local and federal immigration authorities.

The referendum had initially experienced a great deal of support, being voted in by a landslide in 2012 as nearly 80 percent of Montana voters were in favor of it. However, It was never enforced after being passed into law because it was met with an almost instant challenge from an immigration advocacy group. That December, the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, led by Shahid Haque-Hausrath, who serves as an immigration attorney in Montana, sued to block the law. 

Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena, Montana, presided over the case. He ultimately ruled that the law violated the constitution based on the fact that it provides its own definition of what an undocumented immigrant was, which is not based in federal law.

After the ruling, John Barnes, a spokesman for Attorney General Tim Fox, did not offer much concrete information in regard to whether or not their office would bring an appeal. 

"We have a period of time in which to make a decision on appealing," Barnes said, speaking to USA Today. "It is premature at this point as to whether or not we're going to appeal."

Obama’s approval ratings drop in midst of immigration debate

Mon, Jun 23 11:16 AM by Romona Paden

Obama's approval ratings drop in wake of immigration crisis.

President Barack Obama's approval ratings have taken a considerable hit over the past few weeks, largely because of the ongoing stagnation surrounding the immigration crisis in the Southwestern U.S. Gallup, an agency that provides data-driven news and polling, reported on Friday that approval of Obama's handling of the immigration crisis had fallen to 31 percent. In contrast to this, the same poll reported that 65 percent of people surveyed indicated that they disapproved of Obama's immigration policies at this point in time.

This poll was also conducted nearly a year ago by Gallup, in August 2013. The percentage of people surveyed who indicated that they disapprove of Obama's immigration policies has climbed 10 percent in that timeframe, rising from 55 percent to 65 percent. This disapproval rate represents the single largest percentage of respondents unhappy with Obama's immigration policies since the poll's inception. The 31 percent approval rate is the lowest the Gallup poll has measured since 2010, during Obama's first term.

Approval of Obama's immigration policies has fallen relatively steadily over the last year across all party lines. The president has become a target for both sides of the aisle, receiving criticism from Republicans for appearing soft on amnesty while also being critiqued from the left for not yet using his executive authority to push the comprehensive reform bill through. That bill, which passed through the Senate nearly a year ago, has stagnated in the GOP-led House of Representatives.

Currently, 60 percent of Democrats approve of Obama's stance on immigration, compared with 25 percent of independents. Further, only 8 percent of Republicans currently approve of the president's immigration policies, with an astounding 90 percent of Republican respondents indicating disapproval. While there is almost certainly no course of action that will appease all sides, advocates of immigration reform continue to hope that Obama will use his executive authority to push the reform bill into law.

Honduran first lady vows to retrieve child immigrants

Fri, Jun 20 5:04 PM by Romona Paden

The Honduran first lady will travel to America to collect migrant children.

Ana Rosalinda de Hernandez, the first lady of Honduras, announced on Wednesday June 18 that she would be traveling to America to collect undocumented child immigrants native to her country. The children in question have entered the U.S. as part of a recent surge in immigration that has seen over 50,000 unaccompanied youth cross the Southwestern border since October of 2013. Of those 50,000, it is estimated that approximately 13,000 hail from Honduras. In order to support the logistics of the recovery of these children, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has delegated a commission of transportation, immigration and foreign affairs officials to travel with the first lady.

The current influx of immigrants, particularly unaccompanied children, has been dubbed an "urgent humanitarian crisis" by President Barack Obama, who has enlisted the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in navigating the situation. The children who have been apprehended by border patrol authorities are being held in detainment centers across the Southwest. These centers are typically repurposed warehouses or military bases where the children are made to wait until they can be advanced through the deportation processes. One such center, which is located in in Nogales, Arizona, currently holds over 900 migrant children, predominantly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

Children arriving in the U.S. who have family here in the country have often been released to the care of those individuals. In these situations, the children are given instructions to appear in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of their discharge. Though Hernandez's plan is well intentioned, many immigration experts, such as Lenni Benson, a professor of law at New York Law School, believe the odds of her returning to Honduras with these children to be low.

"I know of no international law, immigration law or family law that would let a national government take a child away from their parent," Benson said to Newsweek. "I think it's political, I think it's compassionate political. What country wants to say it's losing its youth. 

Texas increases border patrol presence

Thu, Jun 19 3:56 PM by Romona Paden

A 'surge' in Texas to increase border patrol presence.

In a move that officials have been referring to as a "surge," authorities in Texas have increased their security presence at the shared Mexican border in an effort to decrease the flow of undocumented immigrants pouring into the Southwestern state. The decision, which was announced by Gov. Rick Perry, Lit. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus late on Wednesday night, represents sovereign action on the part of Texas in a matter that many would classify as federal.

The initial plan for the surge specifies that it will continue through at least the end of the year, and longer if necessary. In the bills current form, it authorizes the state to spend up to $1.3 million every week to fund the anti-immigration efforts. Gov. Perry explained that he feels it improper for the state to stand by and wait for federal resolution that could take an undefined period of time.

The move has drawn criticism from others in Texan politics; a recently launched online petition has already collected signatures from over 4,500 individuals who feel as though this legislation should be called back to drafting and reworked prior to being enacted. There certainly exists a silver lining here for proponents of immigration reform; if states begin to push their own legislation in response to immigration, then the federal government may be forced to act more quickly on the matter. 

Perry explained that he felt he was doing the residents of Texas no favors by waiting for a federal solution that he believes is long overdue. In a statement from his office, he emphasized that he felt the need to act sooner than later.

The move comes in response to one of the most pronounced periods of undocumented immigration in the nation's history. More unaccompanied immigrant children are crossing into America from Central American countries than ever before, and the Border Patrol has reported making over 160,000 arrests since Oct. 1, 2013 on the Southwest Texas border alone.

Immigration reform advocates protest in Milwaukee

Thu, Jun 19 3:12 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration protests occurred in Milwaukee on Thursday

Protestors blocked the garage doors for over two hours on Thursday at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office located in downtown Milwaukee. The protesters, members of a group known as Voces de la Frontera (Voices of the Frontier), were acting in response to recent immigration raids that took place in Wisconsin's largest city, in which 49 individuals were arrested and now face legal action including deportation.

Though city officials and members of ICE have insisted that the individuals who were arrested all were criminals of a dangerous nature, the protesters maintain that many of those now facing deportation were guilty only of entering the country illegally. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, who serves as the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, stated that the protest had much more to do with prohibiting ICE from carrying out more raids than reacting to the ones that had already transpired.

"This is a pragmatic action, not a symbolic one," Neumann-Ortiz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."We're literally shutting down ICE."

This protest comes not only in response to the immigration raids in Milwaukee, but also as part of a larger campaign known as "Not One More." The Not One More campaign has been organized by the National Day Labor Organizing Network to protest deportation as the comprehensive immigration reform bill in front of the House of Representatives continues to be stalled. This organization, among many others, has been putting pressure on President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to force that comprehensive reform bill into law.

Representatives from ICE maintained that the earlier raids were targeted at improving safety in Milwaukee and nothing more. Ricardo Wong, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, reiterated this sentiment when speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"[the removal of criminal immigrants from Milwaukee] has an immediate and tangible impact on our communities," Wong told the source. "By focusing our resources on the most egregious offenders, we ensure the very best use of our resources while immediately improving public safety in our neighborhoods."

Unaccompanied immigrant children begin to reach to New York City

Wed, Jun 18 4:09 PM by Romona Paden

The surge of unaccompanied immigrant children into America is now being felt in New York.

As the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed last year by the Senate has stalled in the House of Representatives, criticism centering on border security has arisen from opponents of reform. Due to a combination of factors including increased gang violence and poor economies in their home countries, unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children have crossed into America. Many of these children have also cited hearing rumors in Central America that changes in U.S. policy would now allow for children to stay in America indefinitely. To offer perspective, 13,625 unaccompanied children came across the border in the 2012 fiscal year. At this point in 2014, over 42,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have already entered the U.S. This represents a tripling in figures since 2012, and there appears to be no sign of the numbers thinning anytime soon.

While the majority of this effect is being felt in the Southwest, the children are entering the country in such vast numbers that the effect is now being felt as far north as New York City. Process for dealing with most of these children, so far, has been to detain them briefly until relatives in America can be located. Once the geography of their relatives has been determined and the child has been processed by the Department of Homeland Security, they're put on a bus to their relatives' location and instructed to appear at a deportation hearing several weeks later. Naturally, many of these unaccompanied children's relatives live in areas with dense immigrant populations, so a great deal of them are sent to major metropolitan areas such as New York.

There is not yet data available regarding exactly how many of the undocumented children have been sent to New York City. According to Anne Pilsbury, the director of Central American Legal Assistance in Brooklyn, though, the influx has been very noticeable

"All of a sudden it went from a trickle to more like a river," Pilsbury told The New York Times.

Michelle Obama comments on immigration crisis

Wed, Jun 18 2:11 PM by Romona Paden

Michelle Obama reiterated her support for immigration reform recently.

Michelle Obama, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for newly naturalized citizens on Wednesday, spoke to the value of immigration in shaping America as a nation. Her words, no doubt, we're not only intended for the new citizens in attendance, but for a far larger audience. 

"In many ways it is because of – not in spite of – our immigrant population that we grow stronger every single day," she said.

President Barack Obama has fallen under fire as of late from both ends of the political spectrum. As more and more unaccompanied children and undocumented immigrants pour across the southern border of the United States than ever before, Republicans have criticized the president's lack of action in securing the borders. Meanwhile, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed through the Senate last year has stalled in the GOP-led House, bringing pressure from the left for Barack Obama to use his executive authority to expedite its passing.

The ceremony being presided over by the First Lady involved the formal granting of citizenship to 50 individuals from over a dozen countries, and took place in the National Archives Rotunda. Standing near copies of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, Michelle Obama reiterated her and her husband's support for immigration reform and attempted to explain the stagnation. 

"Today, here in Washington, folks are still debating whether or not to fix our immigration system, even though just about everyone agrees that it is broken," she said as the ceremony drew to a close. "I want you all to know that my husband has made this his top legislative priority because, at the end of the day, this fight isn't just about principles, it's about real people."

Indeed, immigration reform seems to be near (if not at) the top of the presidential agenda. With hundreds of unaccompanied children crossing our borders each day, Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with high-ranking officials in Central America this Friday to discuss possible courses of action.

New York Senator looks to bring immigration reform to state level

Tue, Jun 17 11:05 AM by Romona Paden

While the House of Representatives shows no signs of voting on the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed through the Senate last year, a senator from New York is taking matters into his own hands. The "New York is Home" Act, introduced recently by Democratic State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, would grant many of the privileges of citizenship to noncitizen residents, including the right to vote or run in elections at the state, but not federal, level.

In order to qualify for the legal status the act would grant, a noncitizen resident would have to prove that they had lived and paid taxes in New York for at least three years. If an applicant was successful, the legal status they received would also entitle them to Medicaid, professional licensing, eligibility for a driver's license and tuition assistance.

"Nearly 3 million people in the state of New York currently reside here and make New York their home, but can't fully participate in civic, political and economic life," Rivera said.

The bill is ambitious, to say the least. Though several other states have made it possible for noncitizen residents to receive in-state tuition or other tuition assistance, no state has ever attempted to introduce a non federal immigration bill, let alone one this comprehensive. Michael Olivas, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, echoed this sentiment in a statement to Businessweek.

"It's mind boggling," Olivas said. "I don't think there's ever been a serious attempt to codify so many benefits and opportunities."

The bill faces a tough path if it's going to pass. Critics of the proposition have been quick to point out that it violates federal authority over citizenship statutes. However, Peter Markowitz, a professor of law residing in New York who helped draft the bill, insists that the bill is entirely legitimate.

"The very nature of our dual-sovereign federal structure," he told Bloomberg Businessweek, "is that New York gets to decide who are New Yorkers." 

Biden to discuss migrant children during trip to Central America

Mon, Jun 16 12:06 PM by Romona Paden

Joe Biden will speak with Central American leaders regarding the immigration crisis.

Vice President Joe Biden is extending a planned trip to Central America by adding a stop in Guatemala later this week. The move comes in response to the current immigration crisis unfolding across the Southwestern United States, in which the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border has surged exponentially. The additional stop, which will occur Friday, will involve Biden meeting with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as high-ranking officials from Honduras, to discuss what course of action to take regarding the unaccompanied migrant children. These three countries have had some of the highest rates of children crossing into America during the recent rise in immigration.

According to a senior official, " Our [the Obama administration's] top priority is to manage this urgent humanitarian situation. The entire U.S. administration is engaged in addressing the situation, in making sure these children are housed and fed and receive medical treatment, but at the same time also realize the crucial importance of stemming the tide of migration."

Critics of the Obama administration's immigration policy say that it has encouraged the rise in migrants crossing the border by offering a false hope. Programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows amnesty from deportation for immigrant children who pursue education or a military career in the U.S., are frequently cited by critics as overly permissive.

The Obama administration, Biden included, has maintained that this is a misperception, and that the recent spike in immigration can be attributed to the poor economies and violent conditions of many Central American nations. Regardless of the cause, there appears to be no end in sight regarding unaccompanied immigrant children crossing into the U.S. Almost 50,000 children have already been detained by border patrol agents this fiscal year. That number is already more than twice the amount from the past year and it will, in all likelihood, continue to grow.

Arizona Attorney General demands federal government end immigrant transfers

Mon, Jun 16 11:18 AM by Romona Paden

Arizona AG Tom Horne is threatening legal action against DHS and the federal government.

On June 5 Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne called on the Department of Homeland Security to discontinue its transportation of illegal immigrants from Texas to Arizona, as well as explain the motivation behind its actions. In a letter to the DHS, Horne stated that he would offer federal officials a "reasonable amount of time" to end this practice (or, at least, its involvement with the state of Arizona), but threatened legal action if they refused his request.

For the past two weeks, the DHS has been transporting immigrants apprehended near the Texas-Mexico border to a holding facility in Nogales, Arizona. These actions come in response to a considerable rise in the amount of undocumented individuals crossing into the U.S. from Central America. It has been indicated that the arrangement in Arizona is to be a temporary one until less impermanent living facilities can be opened in the Southwest, but very little regarding the rationale of detaining these individuals has been revealed by DHS.

As federal authorities have continued to transport hundred of families, many of them with children, into Arizona space is running low in holding facilities. Many families have simply been brought to bus stations and told to report to an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days. As these instances have become more frequent, criticism has surfaced regarding a lack of preparation or foresight. In his letter, Horne expressed his concern and demanded something be done as soon as possible.

Horne's letter went on to object to the process of apprehending immigrants and moving them 1200 miles into an entirely different state. He referred to the actions of the DHS as both 'inadvisable and irresponsible', being sure to reemphasize that no explanation had yet been handed down to state authorities. 

Though state statute prevents Horne from suing the federal government directly, his office is looking into which course of action would be most effective should the DHS refuse to cease these immigrant transports.

Growing push from veterans for immigration reform

Fri, Jun 13 4:46 PM by Romona Paden

Veterans are making their opinion on immigration reform heard.

A group of veterans gathered in Washington, D.C., this Thursday to hold a press conference in which they voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform. The group, known as Veterans for Immigration Reform or Vets4Reform, used the conference to present a paper they had collaboratively authored entitled "On the Front Line: Impacts of Immigrants on Military Force Readiness". The paper outlines the powerful and positive effect that immigrant soldiers have had on the United States military, a motive for supporting reform that these individuals have experienced firsthand.

Veterans have come to be one of the most vocal demographics in advocating for an expedited solution to the immigration crisis. This is not entirely surprising once the numbers are brought into consideration. Approximately 12 percent of all living veterans are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and in 2013 65,000 active military personnel were immigrants. Those 65,000 individuals comprised 5 percent of American active enlisted military that year. The founder of Veterans for Immigration Reform, Brett Hunt, blogged on the group's website regarding his take on the matter.

"Those men and women [immigrant soldiers] came from places like Mexico, Honduras and Vietnam and chose to defend our country," wrote Hunt. "They were part of a great tradition that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War of immigrants taking up the charge of defending their adopted homeland. I have a duty to get their back and ensure that our country does right by them."

While Hunt and these veterans are certainly not alone in their support of immigration reform, many suggest that the issue may have hit a wall for the remainder of the year. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who may have been the best chance reform advocates had at pushing the stalled immigration bill through the GOP-led House, lost his primary election this week to Dave Brat, an economics professor from Virginia who has campaigned as staunchly anti-amnesty.

Victories for reform advocates coming at the county level

Fri, Jun 13 2:08 PM by Romona Paden

A growing number of counties will no longer ICE holds.

Advocates of immigration reform were dealt a small victory Friday as two counties in different parts of the country ruled that they would no longer honor immigration hold requests. Up until this point, these requests were issued by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and had a very direct impact upon any undocumented immigrant being held in local custody.

Effectively, if ICE determined that a person being held in local custody was unauthorized to be in the U.S., they would issue a request to local authorities asking them to detain the individual until ICE could come and retrieve them. The issue that arose from this was that there existed a very real chance that the individual being held by local authorities was arrested unconstitutionally. If the authorities held them in detainment until ICE could pick them up, there would be no legal proceedings and thus no review of the validity of the initial arrest.

Napa County in California and Hennepin County, the most populated county in Minnesota, announced this week that they will no longer honor such requests. Though complying with the requests was never mandatory on the part of the local authorities, many precincts had fallen under scrutiny for the practice following the 2012 federal trial of Maria Miranda-Olivares in Oregon.

Miranda-Olivares had been arrested for violating a restraining order and was refused bail by officials due to an ICE hold. Miranda-Olivares entered a guilty plea to one of her charges and was sentenced to 48 hours in prison, but she was handed over to ICE prior to finishing her sentence. A federal judge ultimately ruled that the state had violated her rights. That ruling, though only directly involving Miranda-Olivares, proved to be a watershed victory for reform advocates by pushing for intervention of ICE detainments at the county level.

Napa joins at least seven other California counties to announce their refusal of all future ICE holding requests, and Hennepin joins its neighboring county, Ramsey, in ruling against the process.

Disagreement over living conditions of unaccompanied immigrant children

Thu, Jun 12 11:59 AM by Romona Paden

Nogales, AZ mayor Arturo Garino approves of the facility in which unaccompanied immigrant children are currently housed.

Following a tour of the converted warehouse in which nearly 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are being held in Nogales, Arizona, Mayor Arturo Garino indicated his approval of the facility. His comments come on the heels of relatively widespread criticism from immigration reform advocates who believe that the unaccompanied minors are being treated unfairly and are entitled to better accommodations. Speaking to the Associated Press, Garino offered his thoughts on the space.

"The warehouse is very nice comparing to a lot of what I've heard, I'm very comfortable with it," he said.

The majority of the criticisms regarding the housing for these children have been centered on the impermanence and overcrowding of the situation. The warehouse was a rushed solution as immigrant children pour into the Southwestern United States at rates higher than ever before. In 2009, unaccompanied children apprehended by border patrol agents while crossing into the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras numbered 3,304. This year, the same demographic numbers over 48,000 and is expected to keep growing.

It is projected for the warehouse to be a temporary processing center where immigrant children will be held for several days, vaccinated and inspected for health issues prior to being sent to more permanent centers across the Southwest. The longer term facilities are designed to hold the individuals for up to four months while they complete the immigration process or, far more likely, prepare to be sent back to their home countries.

While Garino made it clear that he felt the conditions were appropriate considering the nature of the emergency, he did also indicate his understanding that most other scenarios would warrant more reasonable accommodations.

"This process of having close to 1,000 [children] in there, for anyone else it would be a nightmare. But for border patrol, they're doing a pretty good job," Garino said in an interview with radio station KTAR.

The AP reported that, as long as the problem persists, immigration officials intend to continue transporting undocumented children to Arizona.

Pressure begins to mount on Obama following Cantor loss

Thu, Jun 12 11:10 AM by Romona Paden

Pressure is building on President Obama to use his executive authority on the immigration bill.

The majority leader of the Republican-led House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, lost his primary on Tuesday, falling in a very unexpected upset to economics professor Dave Brat. Cantor had failed to take a strong position on one side of the immigration debate, leaving him labeled indecisive by voters from both camps regarding the issue. Though Cantor had made statements appealing to both proponents and opponents of reform, he was thought to be one of the best chances reform advocates had of getting the pending immigration bill pushed through the House.

Following Cantor's defeat, many immigration reform supporters quickly voiced the opinion that immigration reform stood no chance at passing, at least for the year. This, however, may not be the case. Pressure is beginning to mount from advocates, aimed toward asking President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to pass the bill into law. 

Of course, Obama has to show some degree of caution in considering the use of his presidential influence to expedite the bill. As of last month, the president had indicated that he would wait to use his power until the House had been given full opportunity to act on the bill prior to their legislative recess in August. As pressures mount from the left, however, it seems that many Democrats not only want Obama to act, but fully expect him to. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D, Ill., made this notion clear.

"Immigration reform is not dead. It might just be moving to the White House for action if none comes from this House," Gutierrez said on the House floor while commenting on the Brat victory.

The weeks remaining prior to the legislative break the House of Representatives will take in August are considered the last plausible window for the bill to pass. If the House doesn't reach a decision by that point, the pressure on Obama to take executive action will be considerably greater than it is now.

Hillary Clinton speaks out against opponents of immigration reform

Wed, Jun 11 12:45 PM by Romona Paden

Hillary Clinton took time on her book tour to advocate immigration reform.

Hillary Clinton took some time away from her book tour this Tuesday to speak out against opponents of immigration reform. Clinton was in Chicago giving a speech to The United Fresh Produce Association and The Food Marketing Institute as part of promotion for her new book, "Hard Choices", which was released in stores this Tuesday.

She offered strong words on the matter, stating that those who oppose reform are "scared because there is a small minority of people in public life and those they represent who don't seem to understand one of our strongest and most important attributes is that we are still a nation of immigrants."

Clinton, whom many believe will run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, was speaking at the request of Stuart Resnick, the founder of Wonderful Brands (which owns the two aforementioned food companies). Resnick made clear during his discussion that the food production and agriculture industries are typically supportive of reforming immigration policy in America. Clinton took the opportunity to express her desire for an expedited solution.

"I hope that the Congress can get around to doing it this year," Clinton said, stating that America would be stronger if reform passed

These remarks came just before House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary election loss to Dave Brat for the nomination to the House of Representatives in Virginia's seventh district. Cantor, who struggled to take a firm stance on either side of the immigration issue but had expressed an openness to some compromised, partial solution. This was thought of by many as the best chance Democrats had at successfully negotiating reform in the GOP-led House. His likely successor, Brat, is more staunchly opposed to immigration reform, and the odds seem quite low that he will show flexibility on the issue once in office, considering the importance that his anti-immigration reform stance he has had during his campaign so far.

Measuring public opinion on immigration over the last year

Tue, Jun 10 11:28 AM by Romona Paden

A study shows unchanging views on immigration from Americans.

It's been an ongoing heated debate regarding immigration since the Senate passed a comprehensive reform bill almost a year ago. Though the bill has been immensely divisive in Washington and has yet to be voted on by the GOP-led House of Representatives, opinion among American citizens in relation to the issue seems to be largely unchanging.

A recent survey put out in tandem by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution attempted to measure change in opinion regarding the matter since last year. What was revealed is that 62 percent of those who responded support having a means for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship. That number represents an almost negligible decrease in respondents indicating this opinion, down from 63 percent last year. 

The absence in change of opinion, interestingly enough, is not particularly tied in to the rate at which Americans approve of the leadership of President Barack Obama as a whole. As of June 2014, 64 percent of respondents have indicated dissatisfaction with the direction that the country is headed. This number is up 6 percent from the 58 percent who indicated dissatisfaction in March 2013. Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, asserted that there isn't a correlation between the two numbers, as people tend to view immigration reform as a national failing instead of a presidential one.

"Even though more people disapprove of the job President Obama is doing and with the country's direction, that didn't seem to affect their attitudes on immigration reform. If the issue was more closely tied with President Obama, you'd think support would go down," Jones told The Washington Post. "There is no correlation."

The study also indicated that 37 percent of respondents feel that allowing new immigrants to gain citizenship harms our society and threatens "traditional values," while 58 percent felt that the process strengthens America. While immigration reform becomes a more pressing issue with each day, all that is clear is that a majority of the American people remain consistent in their desire for some resolution.

Supreme Court decision could further divide families

Tue, Jun 10 10:48 AM by Romona Paden

Children who 'aged out' of the immigration system may now wait in even longer lines.

The Supreme Court, in a closely divided vote, ruled on Monday that there would be no exception given to children of immigrants who turned 21 prior to receiving their immigrant visa. Those not in favor of the decision argue that these children, who effectively "age out" of eligibility for citizenship, are being cheated by the slow-moving nature of the U.S. immigration system. The final vote from the justices came in at 5-4.

The issue is that these children are only aging out of the immigration system because they lose their place in line, so to speak. These children are allowed to wait in the proverbial line for citizenship in the same spot as their parents, but often find that they reach their 21st birthday prior to being processed properly. A 2002 ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Sciaballa v. Cuellar de Osorio et al had allowed immigrant children to maintain the priority status given to them even after they turned 21, assuming that they had already been in line for naturalization prior.

While critics of the decision have argued that it violates the 2002 ruling, Justice Elena Kagan maintains that the former law had contradictory clauses and was ambiguous in its presentation. Kagan cited this absence of clarity as a key factor influencing her decision in her written ruling on the matter.

"Whatever Congress might have meant, it failed to speak clearly. The two faces of the statute do not easily cohere with each other," wrote Kagan.

This most recent ruling sets aged out children back greatly, putting them in lines that, realistically, they may not ever see the end of, and heightening their risk for deportation and separation from their families. The co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University, Alina Das, reaffirmed this sentiment.

"[Aged out children] continue to be in limbo, waiting for leadership from the administration and Congress to make sure they're back on a path to citizenship," Das told The New York Times.

Over 1000 immigrant children held in Arizona

Mon, Jun 9 10:40 AM by Romona Paden

A rapid influx of unaccompanied immigrant children has officials scrambling.

An old warehouse in Nogales, Arizona has been temporarily converted into a holding area for a group of immigrant children, many of them unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, that's said to number over 1000. According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security began flying children there from Texas after the Border Patrol was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of immigrants attempting to cross into the United States. Over 48,000 unaccompanied immigrant children (UICs) have crossed into America this year alone.

Poor living conditions
The shelter is said to be lacking in the essentials as it was thrown together hastily following the decision to move the UICs there from Texas. The state has responded by ordering 2000 mattresses, along with other basic staples such as nutritious meals, portable toilets and showers. It's expected that the number of children housed there will soon be over 1400, nearly reaching the official capacity of the building, which is rated for 1500 people. One official from the DHS, who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, indicated that the camp was put together as a last resort, and that many of the logistics are still being worked out, leaving these children in a compromising setting.

"[The Department of Health and Human Services] became so overwhelmed and haven't kept up with planning," the official said.

Moving forward
Orders have been placed to have medical supplies delivered to the warehouse so officials can perform medical checks and provide vaccinations for the children already there. Following this, other interim facilities are being established in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Ventura, California, and San Antonio. Upon being delivered to Arizona, according to the Los Angeles Times, it's expected that UICs will stay in Nogales for up to 72 hours prior to being transported once more to the other, aforementioned facilities. These centers will be designed to host the children in a more permanent fashion for up to 120 days. While no endgame solution has yet been brought to the table, Brewer remains adamant that this crisis begins and ends in the hands of the federal government.

"This is a crisis of the federal government's creation, and the fact that the border remains unsecure – now apparently intentionally – while this operation continues full-steam ahead is deplorable," Brewer was quoted as saying.

Businesses in Silicon Valley to assist with legal path to citizenship

Wed, Mar 19 1:46 PM by Romona Paden

Silicon Valley companies support immigration reform

Several prominent technology companies in California's Silicon Valley have banded together to voice their support for an overhaul of the immigration system. Many technological and engineering companies in the U.S. hire workers from other countries because those workers have different skill sets than American employees and are generally more experienced with the technology that is being used. Nokia, Technology Credit Union, ABM and DTZ are taking action to help their employees who hold green cards become United States citizens. Many larger companies are not as accustomed to working with nonprofits, which is why these four organizations were chosen to launch the project. The National Immigration Forum is coordinating this effort and estimates there are about 385,000 green card holders that are eligible for naturalization in the U.S.

The Bethlehem Project was created in 2013 to provide funds for services that are available to working immigrants. The four technology giants that have joined the Project want to connect companies that have a large immigrant workforce with local legal assistance. Those legal firms can then help prepare workers to take the citizenship test and complete immigration forms.The Bethlehem Project plans to offer lawful permanent residents who are employed by businesses participating in the project entry into a citizenship information session. They will also receive free legal assistance, and help with citizenship test preparation and submitting applications.

The process for immigrants to find help learning about citizenship requirements can be expensive, and the Bethlehem Project wants to make assistance more accessible for immigrants. Currently, this program to is in use in five cities in the U.S.: Miami, San Diego, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. To date, the Bethlehem Project has connected with 50 businesses to help roughly 1,500 immigrants obtain citizenship, and more than a dozen more in Silicon Valley are expected to join the ranks.

4 lesser-known benefits of U.S. citizenship

Wed, Mar 12 5:08 PM by Romona Paden

There are many lesser-known benefits to U.S. citizenship

Immigrants seeking a pathway to citizenship may have different reasons for wanting to become a United States citizen. Some desire the opportunity to legally work in the U.S. Others want to be able to start their own company in this country and contribute to the economy. Many immigrants want the ability to vote to appoint representatives that reflect their values and beliefs. However, there are a few lesser-known benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Petitioning for family members
Citizens of the U.S. are allowed to petition for their parents, children, siblings and adult-married children to be allowed to live in the U.S. Lawful immigrants with Permanent Resident status can only petition for their spouses, underage children and unmarried-adult offspring. Currently, the wait time for petitions for family members is so long many people forgo applying.

Minors can receive Lawful Permanent Resident status
Immigrant children under the age of 18  are protected under who are protected under Lawful Permanent Resident status can automatically become citizens if their parents become naturalized.

Opportunity for dual citizenship
Many countries offer dual citizenship. Immigrants who are resistant to becoming naturalized in the U.S. for fear they may lose their residency in their home country should be aware that swearing allegiance to the United States with the Oath of Citizenship does not automatically mean a person cannot be a dual citizen. Immigrants who have questions about whether their country offers modified versions of dual citizenship, or if there are restrictions on that status, can contact their consulate or embassy for information.

Public benefits access
Naturalization in the U.S. ensures that citizens can gain to access to Medicare and other certain public health care benefits and programs. Individuals that only carry Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holders) status are not eligible for programs that are important for seniors and those with disabilities. To access Medicare, people with green cards have to pay an expensive premium that is dependent on their work history and how long they have lived in the U.S. Green card holders also have to pay a premium to access the Supplemental Security Income program that pays for health care benefits for adults and low-income minors with disabilities. Therefore, naturalization provides the most complete protection for the most vulnerable populations in the U.S.

Tests required for citizenship

Mon, Feb 24 5:45 PM by Romona Paden

Information on citizenship test requirements

Applicants for the citizenship exam are required to have an understanding of the English language – spoken, written and read, as well as knowledge of American history and the principles of the U.S. government.

U.S. civics exam
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided applicants with 100 possible questions for the history and government exam portion of the citizenship test. The questions, with their answers, are published in advance and are available for all applicants to access beforehand. Applicants will be required to memorize the answers to these questions, but only six out of ten questions – chosen by the USCIS official conducting the interview – need to be answered correctly in order to pass the test.

English exam
During the interview, immigrants are required to show that they can speak and read in English. The USCIS official will conduct the interview in English and the official monitors how well each question is answered. Interviewees will be asked to write down a sentence or short passage that the official reads aloud.

Exceptions for seniors or disabled applicants
Exceptions can be made for applicants that have difficulty learning the answers for the civics exam or comprehending English. If an applicant is at least 65 years old and has lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 20 years, they are allowed to take an easier version of the history and government exam. Similarly, if the interviewee is at least 50 years old and has lived in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least 20 years, they are permitted to have the entire citizenship interview conducted in their native language. If applicants have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from learning the concepts of U.S. history and government and English, they may qualify for a waiver. A doctor must fill out a form explaining exactly what the disability is and why it prevents the applicant from learning English or U.S. civics and government.

Immigrants receive help with citizenship loans from a credit union

Wed, Feb 19 2:41 PM by Romona Paden

Credit unions are offering help to immigrants

Advocate groups across the nation are finding new ways to help undocumented immigrants on their path to citizenship. One unique option for immigrants living in California's growing Hispanic community is being offered by a local credit union. A credit union with branches in different cities in California is launching a loan program that would cover the U.S. citizen application fee for undocumented immigrants.

A California division of North Carolina-based Self-Help Federal Credit Union called Community Trust has proposed to offer $1,000 loans for the citizenship application to individuals and up to $4,000 for a family of applicants. Borrowers will be charged 12 percent interest on this fee, but if the amount is paid off before receiving the disbursement, the interest amount will be less. This is an attempt by the credit union to expand its client base among the Hispanic community in California. The organization hopes that once immigrants become credit union customers, they will open a checking or savings account, or take out a home loan.

Because many undocumented immigrants do not speak fluent English or lack a relationship with a financial advisor, they can be vulnerable to predatory lending or fees levied by paycheck cashing services. The credit union wants to engage this population that they see as underserved by financial institutions. They also offer a loan that helps immigrants pay for the application for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) that was signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA was designed to protect children of immigrants against deportation if they came to the U.S. with their parents without proper authorization. The credit union has called this product the Dreamer Loan. Other credit unions across the country are beginning to adopt these programs to help their local communities of immigrants on their path to citizenship.

Longer naturalization form being released by USCIS

Thu, Feb 13 2:03 PM by Romona Paden

The USCIS is releasing a longer naturalization form

In May 2014 a new, longer N-400 form will be released by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the form that immigrants who have legal permanent resident status must use to apply for naturalization. The changes to the N-400 form include clearer instructions for applicants and the incorporation of technology to make the process of applying for citizenship more accurate and efficient. The new version of the form will allow the USCIS to make important eligibility determinations, but the requirements for eligibility will not change.

The South Asian Network (SAN) discussed the new form which is double in length and may make the application process more difficult for the millions of individuals holding green cards who are eligible for citizenship. According to the SAN, there are priceless benefits of naturalizing for Indian American and other South Asian green card holders. People in these communities can expect wage increases, as well as increased rates of homeownership.

However, barriers to achieving naturalization like limited levels of English language proficiency, limited access to transportation and financial woes still exist for South Asians. According to the South Asian Network, one in five South Asians has a limited knowledge of English, which in turn creates problems for older South Asian green card holders who need assistance to pass the naturalization exam. The SAN plans to provide free ESL services to support those individuals who need help with their English to pass the naturalization exam, with speakers proficient in six different South Asian languages to help them. South Asian green card holders nationwide are encouraged to contact the SAN with any questions they might have about the elongated form.

Currently there is a 90 day window for green card holders to apply for citizenship before the new form is implemented.

The path to citizenship for DREAMers

Mon, Feb 10 12:03 PM by Romona Paden

DREAMers can obtain citizenship through military service

The DREAM Act proposes to grant permanent residency to immigrants that arrived in the U.S. as a minor, are of good moral character, have graduated from a high school in the United States, and have lived in the country for at least five years. These young people, known as DREAMers, can also be eligible for six years of residency if they completed two years at a four-year higher learning institution or completed two years in the military.

As of November 2013, select states have enacted their own versions of the DREAM Act that focus on tuition prices for immigrants and financial aid for state universities. These 14 states are California, Illinois, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, New York, Washington, New Mexico, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Republicans in the House recently released new principles for immigration reform, as they are attempting to pave a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers. DREAMers would be offered the opportunity to stay in the U.S. if they earn a college degree or enlist in the military for longer than two years. Parents of young people eligible for the DREAM Act would have to pass the linguistic, cultural and financial requirements to obtain citizenship along with their children.

Currently, more than 30,000 immigrant nationals serve in the U.S. military, and more than 8,000 permanent-resident immigrants enlist annually. A new program called the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act being proposed by House Republicans seeks to allow those with temporary visas to join the military and earn their citizenship too. Under this plan, the GOP would require undocumented immigrants to pass strict background checks, pay fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and have the ability to support themselves and their families. Those who have been convicted of crimes, or who are gang members or sex offenders would not be eligible for this program. These restrictions may make finding a path to citizenship for those who are not eligible for the DREAM Act more difficult.

President expresses optimism about passing immigration reform in 2014

Fri, Jan 17 11:57 AM by Romona Paden

President Barack Obama recently met with Democratic Senators, telling them that he believes Congress will pass a bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in 2014.

While many political analysts believe it is unlikely that Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2014, President Barack Obama seems to think it is not only possible, but probable.

In a meeting with Democratic senators in mid-January, the president said that he believes House Speaker John Boehner understands the importance of passing reform legislation, and will push other members of his party to support a bill, or series of bills, to tackle the issue in 2014.

Democrats meet with president
After the meeting with the president, several senators spoke about the optimism expressed by the Commander-in-Chief. His promising take on the possibility of reform seemed to have invigorated party members, as many left the meeting expressing their reaffirmed belief that immigration reform could in fact be passed in 2014.

"[President Obama] predicted the House would pass something this year," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who attended the meeting, told The Hill. "He said we're then all going to have a challenging conversation. He said it was more likely than not the House would do something."

Political necessity cited as main reason for optimism
In the nation's capital, the mood on the likelihood of passing immigration reform is still mixed, with people on both sides of the debate unsure how it will play out in the coming months. But several people, including many lawmakers, believe House Republicans will be forced to move on something due to the growing political influence of Latinos.

"I think our Republican colleagues realize that to be blocking immigration reform is not good for them," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who also attended the meeting with the president, told the source.

According to sources in both parties, it appears the most likely way forward on providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants will be expanding access through already existing channels, such as H-1B visas and various other permit laws that are already on the books.

Graham defends Ailes’ immigration stance

Thu, Jan 16 1:35 PM by Romona Paden

A new biography on Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has further inflamed the immigration reform debate.

The Fox News channel has often taken a harsh approach to immigration reform, calling a path to citizenship amnesty and advocating for stricter enforcement. But according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a new biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes unfairly portrays his stance on reform by painting him as being aggressively anti-immigration.

In a recent interview, Graham, who was a member of the "Gang of Eight" senators who helped put together the chamber's comprehensive immigration reform bill last year, defended Ailes. He says that Ailes is, in fact, in favor of immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Graham defends Ailes on immigration
Graham based his defense of Ailes on meetings the men had together throughout the reform debate. The controversy arose after excerpts from an upcoming biography on Ailes, "The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News and Divided a Country," by Gabriel Sherman, quoted Ailes as taking a particularly aggressive stance on immigration enforcement.

According to the book, Ailes told an associate that border security should be the utmost priority, even to the extent that he thinks the president should deploy Navy SEALs on the dividing line between Mexico and the United States to stop drug dealers who might try to enter the country. At the same time he talked about how many conservatives' views on immigration were "reactionary."

The quote itself reveals that Ailes has a somewhat nuanced view on immigration. However, his overall message is one many immigrants' rights supporters have understandably been upset about.

Graham, who has previously been critical of Fox News at times, especially when it comes to immigration reform, came to Ailes' defense because he thought the book was unfair and could have a negative impact on immigration reform going forward.

Think tank evaluates Republican principles on immigration reform

Wed, Jan 15 3:21 PM by Romona Paden

Virginia Republican Robert Goodlatte recently laid out principles for a Republican immigration reform plan.

A recent report provided insight into how many undocumented immigrants could be able to earn citizenship under the Republicans' plan for immigration reform. The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C., estimates that between 4.4 and 6.5 million undocumented immigrants could be eligible for citizenship as Congress ends up taking the step-by-step approach to reform favored by Republicans.

Estimates based on Rep. Robert Goodlatte's ideas
Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., has been a vocal opponent of the path to citizenship that was contained in the immigration reform bill that passed through the Senate in June 2013. However, he has been one of the most active House Republicans in developing an alternative to that legislation.

House Speaker John Boehner charged Goodlatte with leading the Republicans' efforts to draw up a policy on immigration reform that would be palatable to a broad coalition of legislators in their party. Under Goodlatte's current proposal, undocumented immigrants would be granted provisional legal status. Then, those immigrants who demonstrated they are eligible to apply for a green card through the system that is currently in place would be allowed to do so with the sponsorship of a family member or employer.

"We're trying to find a way to give the members of the House a way to see how all these things would work in our step-by-step approach," Goodlatte said in a recent interview on Telemundo. "And we think one way to do that may be to put forward a set of principles."

Based on those principles, the NFAP came up with its estimate of the number of immigrants who could be granted a path to citizenship. Part of the total number includes younger immigrants who would be allowed to apply for citizenship under some form of a DREAM Act.

Undocumented immigrants will affect the presidential election of 2020

Mon, Jan 13 5:15 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform will affect the 2020 presidential election

Immigration reform in the U.S. will have a profound effects on the presidential election in 2020.Millions of undocumented immigrants living in this country and working toward a path to citizenship will earn voting rights by then. Both parties are looking to the past few elections as guidance, but it is difficult to predict the voting tendencies of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Immigrants who are working on a path to citizenship will not be legally allowed to vote for another 14 years, leading them into the 2028 election year. However, children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. under the age of 16 are eligible to receive Deferred Action status and are automatically on a faster track to citizenship. These young people will be eligible to participate in the 2020 elections and are commonly known as DREAMers. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act provides conditional citizenship for young immigrants who have graduated from high school, are in good moral standing, and were brought to this country before the age of 16.

Many lawmakers and legislators are focusing on this young demographic because they will hold the future of the election in their hands as they vote. The majority of these young people are from Latino and Asian backgrounds. Asian and Latino citizens and naturalized immigrants will count for 37 percent of eligible voters by the 2020 election, and group of Latinos and Asians is often said to be the group that will steer the vote because immigration reform directly affects their families and communities.

Both parties are taking notice of the influx of newly naturalized immigrants, and both parties' districts will be affected in the future.

Local authorities take new approach to immigration, fighting crime

Mon, Jan 13 12:57 PM by Romona Paden

In many places, local police are trying to work with undocumented immigrants to keep their communities from being victimized.

The relationship between law enforcement and undocumented immigrants can be a difficult one, and it differs depending on the city or region of the country. One of the most vexing issues is the balance between enforcing immigration laws and making undocumented immigrants feel comfortable with talking to the police in their community.

Many immigrants don't report crimes they have either witnessed or been the victims of because they are afraid their citizenship status will be exposed. But in some places around the U.S., local authorities are reaching out to immigrant communities to ask for their assistance in reporting crimes, assuring them that they will be safe from deportation.

New Jersey police meet with immigrants
In Lindenwold, N.J., Police Chief Thomas Brennan recently spoke at a church that primarily serves the local Hispanic community. His message was that local authorities do not care about immigration status, their only concern is preventing crime and punishing offenders. To that end, he encouraged undocumented immigrants in the community to step forward and report crimes, even if they are not citizens of the United States.

Brennan's speech came in the wake of the recent murder of an undocumented immigrant. While investigating the case, police found that many crimes in the area were going unreported because people were afraid of deportation, and Brennan desperately wants to change that.

"Anyone's status with regard to immigration is not important," Brennan told the parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe, according to Philly.com. "Whether you are here legally or illegally, you're a member of this community and therefore deserve a right to be safe. … The important thing is we need your help. What we're hoping to accomplish today is to build some trust."

Similar approaches are being tried by police forces all over the country, including in the Pacific Northwest, where many local authorities have been taking this more conciliatory approach.

Teach for America provides opportunities for graduates with Deferred Action status

Fri, Jan 10 12:52 PM by Romona Paden

Graduates with Deferred Action status are recruited by Teach for America

Teach for America will begin recruiting eligible individuals who are living in the U.S. under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status to join their corps of educators. This is in an effort to expand educational and career opportunities for immigrant college graduates.

Teach for America is a non profit organization founded  in 1990 that is based out of New York and works with recent college graduates to train them to become teachers. The program places young educators in rural and low-income neighborhoods and encourages a commitment to combating educational inequity in these areas. Teach for America's focus in this new initiative is to match immigrant graduates with communities that share their racial and ethnic backgrounds. The organization's studies have found that creating this connection between teachers and the children they are educating has a profoundly positive impact on learning and comprehension.

Many members of Teach for America believe these young graduates bring with them valuable life experience that will benefit them when connecting with the children they are assigned to teach. Their insight into the immigrant experience and their bilingual backgrounds are expected to add diversity to the ranks of the organization's members.

To be eligible for this opportunity, children brought to the U.S. by their parents before they were 16 years old must have been granted Deferred Action status, which means they received temporary relief from deportation and authorization to work in the U.S. from federal immigration officials. These individuals must also have earned a minimum GPA of 2.5 and must expect to receive their diploma by June 2014.

The act that provided protection from deportation for children of immigrants, called Deferred Action, was put into place almost one year ago, and in that time over 400,000 individuals have applied for and received that status. The largest group of young applicants have come from Mexico, followed by Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Many of the applicants have strong English-speaking skills, and over half are considered to be bilingual.

Commerce Secretary backs immigration reform

Fri, Jan 10 11:58 AM by Romona Paden

Secretary Pritzker recently spoke about the positive impact immigration reform would have on the American economy.

On Jan. 9, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker once again spoke of the need for immigration reform in the United States. While attending an event for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Pritzker told attendees and reporters that immigration reform was both a moral and economic issue, and passing common sense legislation could be a boon for the American economy.

Immigration reform's impact on the economy
One issue that Pritzker focused on was the potentially enormous positive impact immigration reform could have on the economy. Referencing the comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate in June, Pritzker said she thought similar legislation could provide a $1.4 trillion boost to the American economy over the next 20 years.

In California alone, Pritzker says immigration reform could boost the economy by $7 billion "in the near-term," while creating 77,000 new jobs.

Foreign graduate students key to economy
One group Pritzker talked about extensively was foreign-born graduate students who are studying in American universities. She believes they can be key to American economic expansion, but under current U.S. laws many of them are forced to leave the country once they complete their degrees.

One aspect of the Senate reform bill included a way to encourage those students to stay in the U.S. after they finish school, and Pritzker believes that provision is a necessary component of any eventual legislation.

"It allows us to staple a green card to the degrees of graduate students, instead of forcing potential innovators and job creators to leave after being trained at our universities – a mind-boggling concept to me," Pritzker said during her speech at the Jan. 9 event.

Making an argument for immigration reform that is based on economics is one of many tactics that have been used by people on both the left and right side of the political spectrum. That could help make any potential reforms more palatable to both the general public and hardcore conservatives who have thus far been unwilling to budge on their opposition to reform.

Republicans to release paper outlining immigration reform principles

Thu, Jan 9 10:44 AM by Romona Paden

Republicans and Democrats are preparing to work out an overhaul of the nation's immigration system in the coming months.

Immigration reform legislation has been stuck in the House of Representatives since the Senate passed its own bill in June 2013. The holdup has mainly been due to House Republicans, who refused to take up the Senate bill and have yet to put forward their own plan to overhaul the nation's broken immigration system.

All of that may soon change, however, as House Speaker John Boehner announced that he and other Republican leaders are drafting, and will soon release, a statement of principles on immigration reform known as a white paper. The upcoming white paper has lent hope to immigration reform supporters that a compromise can be reached sometime soon.

Coalition of Republican lawmakers working on proposal
Rebecca Tallent, a long-time Republican strategist who has worked on the immigration issue for years, and who Boehner recently hired to work in his office, has been reaching out to several Republican lawmakers in recent weeks in an effort to put together a plan that the entire party can get behind. Among them are House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R.-Fla., and Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

While there are still plenty of issues to be worked out, it appears the central idea of citizenship for undocumented immigrants, especially those who would qualify under a proposed DREAM Act, will be central to the debate. However, many Republicans in the House oppose any sort of path to citizenship.

Democrats await Republican proposal
Democrats in Congress appear to be both excited and wary of the impending Republican proposal. But the fact that the Republican white paper will at least outline a clear starting point for negotiations is a good first step in the push for immigration reform in 2014.

"Things continue to look better and better for immigration reform, and we hope to work with Republicans to get something real done," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

Undocumented immigrants now the majority in several US cities

Tue, Jan 7 12:45 PM by Romona Paden

Small towns across the U.S. are being revitalized by immigrant populations.

Immigration is such an enormous issue in America today that it can be easy to lose track of the effect that the nation's patchwork of laws have on small communities. From coast to coast, smaller cities and towns are dealing with an influx of undocumented immigrants, and because the rules can be so varied from state to state and even city to city, many places are simply unable to come up with a coherent strategy to work with these new, growing populations.

Small towns with large immigrant populations
In places like Mattawa, Wash., Mendota, Calif., and Sweetwater, Fla., undocumented immigrants now make up the majority of the population, or close to it, according to the Boston Globe. And that's a trend that can be seen throughout the country, where the U.S. census shows that immigrants without citizenship make up 20 percent or more of the population in more than 100 cities and towns, including New York City and Los Angeles.

The consequences of those shifting population numbers have had wide-ranging effects, both good and bad. Many immigrants have moved into communities that were suffering from dwindling numbers of residents and closed businesses. They have helped to reverse those trends, revitalizing many of the places to which they have moved.

On the other hand, the legal gray area these immigrants find themselves in inhibits them from being full members of their communities. Many of them are afraid to report crimes or take part in civic groups because they might be outed and brought to the attention of immigration authorities.

Other cities, like El Paso, Texas, find themselves inundated by immigration cases, which divert much needed city funds and cause a bureaucratic backlog. Congressional inaction on immigration reform has left many of these cities unable to come up with a viable strategy for handling their undocumented immigrant populations.

Immigration rules are changing for families of military servicemembers

Tue, Dec 10 12:05 PM by Romona Paden

The rules are changing for undocumented immigrants who are related to members of the military or who want to enlist themselves.

While there are many problems with the nation's immigration system that are difficult for people to understand, the statute barring people from joining the military if they have spouses or children who are undocumented immigrants has received especially heavy criticism.

However, that requirement may soon be lifted, and it is just one of multiple steps that have been taken, or are in the process of being taken, that would loosen immigration laws for people related to military servicemembers.

Opening up enrollment
According to The Wall Street Journal, Beatriz Madiz wasn't allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps because her husband was an undocumented immigrant. It's the kind of story that has been seen again and again over the years. But two congressmen – Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. – are trying to stop that practice.

In response to a letter written by Coffman and Gutierrez, the Defense Department has begun a review of the policy, which should take approximately 60 days.

"We should not be excluding U.S. citizens from serving their country, and we should be protecting their families from deportation while their sons and daughters and spouses are off to war," Gutierrez told the Journal.

New Obama administration directive
With immigration reform advocates continuing to apply pressure to President Barack Obama and Congress, the president recently announced a directive that would allow undocumented immigrants who are closely related to military personnel to stay in the U.S.

The directive, known as "parole in place," should clear up the confusing circumstances immigration enforcement authorities have been operating under for years when it comes to handling undocumented immigrants who are related to military personnel. Those relatives will no longer have to leave the country to apply for U.S. citizenship, a process that often leaves them exiled for years.

Deferred action seen as temporary alternative to immigration reform

Tue, Dec 10 11:08 AM by Romona Paden

In New York City, immigrants' rights advocates have been scouring neighborhoods trying to sign people up for deferred action.

With comprehensive immigration reform legislation stalled in Congress, many advocates are turning to a little-known option for keeping undocumented workers in the United States legally.

The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program instituted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in 2012, allows some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country for up to two years, while also granting them work eligibility. For many immigrants who are caught in a legal gray area, DACA is one way to continue living the American Dream.

What is DACA?
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced a change in the way the cases of some undocumented immigrants would be handled. Namely, the secretary made it possible for undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the country as children to apply for deferred action, which would grant them two more years in the U.S. as long as they met certain requirements. That deferred action is then subject to renewal after the two years is up.

Advocates promote DACA
In New York City, a group called Atlas: DIY, which works on social and economic causes related to undocumented immigrants, has been sending people out into the city to try to spread the word about deferred action.

So far, that effort has been running up against some roadblocks, as many undocumented immigrants are reluctant to register with federal authorities in the first place. Susan Pan, a legal fellow at Atlas, described the process of trying to get people to sign up as "chipping away at the ice," in an interview with The New York Times.

Nonetheless, as Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, also explained to the Times, "It's [DACA] the only game in town right now for undocumented immigrants, and we need to do everything to maximize participation in the program."

Arizonans fight for immigration reform to save their parents

Mon, Dec 9 11:21 AM by Romona Paden

Arizona has long been an important part of the immigration reform debate.

Arizona has long been a key player in the immigration debate. As Congress gets set to adjourn for the year without having passed immigration reform legislation, its actions on the issue in 2014 will be heavily affected by some of the stories coming out of the Grand Canyon State.

Fighting to save her mother
Maria "Guadalupe" Arreola has been in extreme danger of being deported for almost a year now.

Arreola's daughter, Erika Andiola, who was brought to the U.S. without authorization at age 11, had been serving as a district outreach director for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema after receiving a work permit under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She spent her time there working on immigration reform, and became increasingly frustrated with the inaction she saw in Congress. But with her mother in peril, Andiola recently left that position to fight full-time to keep her in the U.S.

"Unfortunately for me, a year has passed and we haven't passed immigration reform and I became very frustrated," Andiola told the Arizona Republic. "I wasn't just a staffer there trying to make a career out of it."

Rep. Sinema has been one of the most active members of the House on immigration reform, fighting for a path to citizenship and a national DREAM Act.

Fighting for his father
Gabriel Zermeno, a member of the Arizona Army National Guard, has a similar story to Andiola's. He also serves his country under the threat of seeing a parent deported. In his case, it's his father, who has been living in the country without documentation for 30 years.

Zermeno's told the Arizona Republic that his fear of being overseas fighting for his country and finding out his father has been deported hangs over him on a daily basis, and it shows how current immigration laws can potentially tear families apart.

Evangelicals air radio commercials supporting immigration reform

Fri, Dec 6 12:15 PM by Romona Paden

A group of Evangelical leaders is urging people to pray for immigration reform.

Immigration reform advocates have been trying many different techniques as they attempt to get Congress to act on legislation addressing the issue. But now, one group that favors fixing the country's immigration system is taking a novel approach: prayer.

A group of Evangelical churches will soon be airing radio commercial urging people to pray that House Speaker John Boehner will lead the charge to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress. News and Christian radio stations in many of the nation's largest markets, including Washington, D.C., will soon be broadcasting the commercials, which will emphasize the moral necessity of fixing the nation's broken immigration system.

Praying for reform
The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of nearly a dozen Christian organizations and churches, has already spent more than $1 million this year on ads promoting its message, according to the Washington Post. And this latest effort is another step in its attempt to push Congress to pass broad immigration legislation, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"Our immigration system is broken and it is hurting everyone," Dub Karriker, senior pastor at the Christian Assembly Church in Durham, N.C., says in the ads that are running in that state. "Families are separated, employers can't find the workers they need, and the undocumented who want to get right with the law are told to get in a line that doesn't exist."

As with Pastor Karriker's commercial in North Carolina, the nationwide spots all feature pastors from the markets where they will be airing.

Boehner takes the brunt of the criticism
House Speaker Boehner, who is specifically mentioned in all of the ads as being the focus of the prayer efforts, has been the target of most immigrants' rights advocates throughout the reform debate. Evangelicals are one of the Republican Party's biggest bases of support, so the hope is that this kind of effort from within the GOP establishment will be more persuasive than if it had come from other organizations.

Evangelicals air radio commercials supporting immigration reform

Fri, Dec 6 12:15 PM by Romona Paden

A group of Evangelical leaders is urging people to pray for immigration reform.

Immigration reform advocates have been trying many different techniques as they attempt to get Congress to act on legislation addressing the issue. But now, one group that favors fixing the country's immigration system is taking a novel approach: prayer.

A group of Evangelical churches will soon be airing radio commercial urging people to pray that House Speaker John Boehner will lead the charge to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress. News and Christian radio stations in many of the nation's largest markets, including Washington, D.C., will soon be broadcasting the commercials, which will emphasize the moral necessity of fixing the nation's broken immigration system.

Praying for reform
The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of nearly a dozen Christian organizations and churches, has already spent more than $1 million this year on ads promoting its message, according to the Washington Post. And this latest effort is another step in its attempt to push Congress to pass broad immigration legislation, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"Our immigration system is broken and it is hurting everyone," Dub Karriker, senior pastor at the Christian Assembly Church in Durham, N.C., says in the ads that are running in that state. "Families are separated, employers can't find the workers they need, and the undocumented who want to get right with the law are told to get in a line that doesn't exist."

As with Pastor Karriker's commercial in North Carolina, the nationwide spots all feature pastors from the markets where they will be airing.

Boehner takes the brunt of the criticism
House Speaker Boehner, who is specifically mentioned in all of the ads as being the focus of the prayer efforts, has been the target of most immigrants' rights advocates throughout the reform debate. Evangelicals are one of the Republican Party's biggest bases of support, so the hope is that this kind of effort from within the GOP establishment will be more persuasive than if it had come from other organizations.

Speaker Boehner’s new hire provides hope for immigration reform

Fri, Dec 6 11:16 AM by Romona Paden

A new hiring by House Speaker Boehner signals a renewed effort on immigration reform by Republicans.

Advocates of immigration reform in the United States were heartened recently when House Speaker John Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent to advise the Republican Party on immigration issues in 2014.

Tallent has a long history of work on immigration, having been on the staffs of two Republican congressmen – John McCain and Jim Kolbe – who have been particularly vocal about the need to reform the country's immigration system.

Change in position coming?
Over her many years in Republican politics, Tallent has worked on legislation that would include things like a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. And now that Speaker Boehner has hired her as his special adviser on immigration issues there is hope that the party will move forward on reform with a more moderate approach.

One of the biggest obstacles to passing reform legislation has been the Republicans' uncompromising views on issues like the DREAM Act and allowing undocumented workers the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship. But those are both issues that Tallent has worked on in her time as an aide to McCain and Kolbe and in her previous position as the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Republican backlash
Immigration reform advocates are hoping that Tallent's track record means there will be a change in tactics among House Republicans, who have long derided citizenship for undocumented immigrants as "amnesty." But many of the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus reacted with anger to Tallent's hiring, describing it as a "slap in the face."

That kind of backlash from members within Boehner's own party likely signals that the movement toward reform will still face opposition. However, the simple fact that Tallent was brought on, and that her hiring was highly publicized, seems to indicate that there will be some heavy lifting done on the reform effort in the coming weeks and months.

Speaker Boehner’s new hire provides hope for immigration reform

Fri, Dec 6 11:16 AM by Romona Paden

A new hiring by House Speaker Boehner signals a renewed effort on immigration reform by Republicans.

Advocates of immigration reform in the United States were heartened recently when House Speaker John Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent to advise the Republican Party on immigration issues in 2014.

Tallent has a long history of work on immigration, having been on the staffs of two Republican congressmen – John McCain and Jim Kolbe – who have been particularly vocal about the need to reform the country's immigration system.

Change in position coming?
Over her many years in Republican politics, Tallent has worked on legislation that would include things like a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. And now that Speaker Boehner has hired her as his special adviser on immigration issues there is hope that the party will move forward on reform with a more moderate approach.

One of the biggest obstacles to passing reform legislation has been the Republicans' uncompromising views on issues like the DREAM Act and allowing undocumented workers the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship. But those are both issues that Tallent has worked on in her time as an aide to McCain and Kolbe and in her previous position as the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Republican backlash
Immigration reform advocates are hoping that Tallent's track record means there will be a change in tactics among House Republicans, who have long derided citizenship for undocumented immigrants as "amnesty." But many of the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus reacted with anger to Tallent's hiring, describing it as a "slap in the face."

That kind of backlash from members within Boehner's own party likely signals that the movement toward reform will still face opposition. However, the simple fact that Tallent was brought on, and that her hiring was highly publicized, seems to indicate that there will be some heavy lifting done on the reform effort in the coming weeks and months.

Female activists take on immigration reform

Thu, Dec 5 11:19 AM by Romona Paden

Women's rights activists have become some of the most active advocates of immigration reform.

The push for immigration reform has been picking up allies from nearly all corners of American society. And now another group that has a long history of advocacy is joining the fight.

Framing immigration reform as a women's rights issue, feminist organizations have become some of the more vocal supporters of an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in recent months. Famous activists like Gloria Steinem have come out in favor of reform, and that kind of support is lending even more weight to the movement.

Women, children and families
While the immigration debate is often talked about in terms of legalities, enforcement, border security and economic impact, many women's rights advocates are trying to reposition the debate in terms of its real-world effects on families, especially mothers and their children.

"When you ask people what images they think of when they think of immigration reform, (it's) often men, scary looking, scaling the border walls," Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together, a national immigration campaign that focuses on women, told reporters, according to the Kansas City Star. "The idea that it's really women and children that are the majority of immigrants to the United States is completely lost."

By emphasizing the more human aspects of the immigration debate, and discussing how a lack of citizenship can lead to broken homes, these female activists are hoping to put a more sympathetic spin on an issue that is often dealt with in broad generalizations.

Domestic workers
As immigration reform legislation has worked its way through Congress, and found itself stalled in the House, making it easier for immigrants who work in the science, technology and agricultural sectors to get work visas has been a major topic of discussion.

However, one major group of immigrant workers that has largely been ignored are those who work in domestic settings, many of whom are women. According to Steinem and other female activists, that outlook needs to change if the issue of equality for immigrants is to be addressed honestly.

Federal judge rules that the president’s uncle can stay in the US

Wed, Dec 4 11:58 AM by Romona Paden

A federal court judge recently issued a ruling allowing the president's uncle to stay in the country.

Recently, the issue of immigration reform hit particularly close to home for President Barack Obama. His uncle, Kenyan-born Onyango Okech Obama, was on the cusp of being deported from the Unites States after living in the country without documentation since 1970. But on Tuesday, Dec. 3, a Boston federal court judge ruled that he should be allowed to stay in the country.

Why Onyango was allowed to stay
Onyango, who is the half brother of the president's father, first came to the U.S. in 1963 on a student visa. That visa expired in 1970, and since it wasn't renewed, Onyango has been living in the country ever since. Most recently, he has been working as a grocery store manager in Framingham, Mass.

However, there is a specific provision in U.S. immigration law that allows immigrants who have been living in the country since before 1972, and who have exhibited "good moral character," to apply for a green card. Judge Leonard Shapiro, who presided over the case, cited that provision in his ruling, adding that Onyango had paid his taxes and been a good neighbor in his time in the U.S.

David Leopold, an immigration lawyer based in Cleveland, told the Los Angeles Times that the judge had ruled properly under the law, pointing out that Onyango's relationship to the president had nothing to do with the decision, saying, "The law is so clear-cut that it wouldn't matter who he is related to. All you have to do is behave yourself and have been here since 1972."

While this case ended with a positive result, it further serves to highlight the difficulties many undocumented immigrants face every day. Fortunately for Onyango, his case fell under a statute that virtually guaranteed he'd be able to stay in the country. 

Candlelight vigil marks the end of a month-long hunger strike

Mon, Dec 2 11:14 AM by Romona Paden

California farm country has one of the largest undocumented immigrant populations in the country.

The push for comprehensive immigration reform is taking place all over the country, from Washington, D.C., to the West Coast. The Central Valley of California, which is home to one of the largest populations of undocumented immigrants in the country, has been an important front in the reform battle.

On Sunday, Dec. 1, Fresno State University, one of that region's most important cultural hubs, was the site of the latest gathering of immigration reform advocates. Local faith leaders and a group affiliated with the Fast for Families organization, which led a series of hunger strikes across the country in November, came together in Fresno to hold a candlelight vigil promoting the need for immigration reform legislation.

Nationwide hunger strike
The event at Fresno State also marked the culmination of a month-long hunger strike that had been taking place in the Central Valley and in cities throughout the country. Participants were hoping to put pressure on Congress to pass a bill that includes a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Faith leaders from across the U.S. have also joined the cause, with many of them engaging in at least partial fasts to show their solidarity with the reform movement. They have combined that effort with a letter-writing campaign where they tell stories of congregation members who live in fear of deportation.

"A lot of congregation members are undocumented citizens or documented citizens who have friends that are undocumented, you just break bread with people every day, work with people and you see the overwhelming need," Christopher Dreedlove told Fresno ABC affiliate KFSN.

Candlelight vigil
Sunday's candlelight vigil took place at Fresno State's Peace Garden, and it included about 100 people who took part in prayers, songs and chants. Organizers and participants all stressed that immigration reform should not be thought of as a political or economic issue, but a moral one.

Strict immigration laws in Alabama ruled unconstitutional

Tue, Nov 26 1:04 PM by Romona Paden

Seven provisions of Alabama's strict immigration law were recently struck down.

When the state of Alabama passed one of the harshest immigration laws in the country in 2011, known as House Bill 56, immigrants' rights activists, local businesses and even the federal government were up in arms. But on Tuesday, Nov. 26, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama weighed in on a settlement between the state and the federal Justice Department, accepting a pact that eliminates the law's most controversial provisions.

History of the law
When it was signed in 2011, Alabama's immigration law was considered the toughest in the country. It made it a crime for businesses to hire undocumented immigrants, required legal immigrants to carry documentation with them at all times and even had a "show me your papers" provision, which allowed police to detain people during traffic stops for the purpose of checking their citizenship status.

Not surprisingly, those measures, along with several others in the law, were met with anger by people not only in Alabama, but throughout the country. Legal challenges immediately followed, with the most powerful one coming from the Justice Department. Now, after two years of negotiations, a federal district judge has upheld a settlement that was reached by federal authorities and the state that strikes down most of the law.

Settlement details
The settlement bars the enforcement of those three controversial provisions, along with four others, putting Alabama more in line with the rest of the country when it comes to dealing with undocumented immigrants.

The seven provisions were deemed unconstitutional because they conflicted with federal immigration law and undermined federal immigration enforcement efforts. One of the most prominently cited examples of those conflicts was the undue burden that would be put on federal and state agencies charged with enforcing the nation's immigration laws, diverting resources away from policing more dangerous criminal activities.

New poll indicates continued public support for immigration reform

Mon, Nov 25 11:41 AM by Romona Paden

A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans are in favor of immigration reform.

According to a recent poll conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, 63 percent of Americans are in favor of creating a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

That public support stretches across a broad swath of the American public, with solid majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents all voicing their belief that such a change should be made to existing law.

Poll results
There were several interesting findings presented in the PRRI report. Overall, support for immigration reform could be found in all parts of the country across almost every group that was surveyed.

Residents of key electoral states like Florida, Ohio and Arizona all showed support for the measures, with about 60 percent of the people in each of those states saying they were pro-reform. That sentiment was echoed by people who identified themselves as Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical.

One of the most interesting findings was that the public is fairly evenly split, and slightly leaning against, an emphasis on heightened border security, especially considering that pending legislation would require a $46 billion investment in more border security guards and fencing over the next decade.

Popular approval should pressure Congressional action
As polls continue to show that a growing majority of the country is in favor of immigration reform, it will be harder for Congress to ignore the issue. The PRRI poll comes on the heels of a renewed effort by both Obama Administration officials, including the president himself, and private lobbying groups to force some sort of legislative action as soon as possible.

The president is spending the early part of the week of Nov. 24 on the West Coast, where he will be holding fundraisers and speaking about immigration reform. Among the topics on his agenda will be a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Facebook CEO continues his push for immigration reform

Mon, Nov 25 11:23 AM by Romona Paden

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the immigration debate as a way of providing more people with a chance at the American Dream.

By framing the debate as a civil rights issue, immigration reform advocates have been able to change the context of the discussion over legislation to fix the country's broken system. On Nov. 24, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took up that baton in an interview he gave to ABC's Sunday morning news program "This Week."

Zuckerberg's quest
The 29-year-old billionaire recently founded the group FWD.us, which is dedicated to reforming the U.S. immigration system, and he has been especially focused on the issue of providing a path to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. By framing immigration reform as a civil rights issue, Zuckerberg is hoping he can rally the support of people who might otherwise be on the fence about many of the issues surrounding comprehensive immigration reform.

When he was challenged on his civil rights assertion, Zuckerberg told the ABC interviewer, "There are a lot of misconceptions about that. A lot of them [immigrants] came here because they just want to work. They want to help out their families and they want to contribute."

That sort of humanitarian approach is the kind of argument that helped deliver equal rights to other previously marginalized groups like African-Americans and LGBT individuals, who now enjoy more equal protection under the law.

Zuckerberg talks "dreamers"
The Facebook CEO also spent time discussing his belief that immigration reform could help fill the void of talented and qualified science and math professionals in the country. One group he pointed to was so-called "dreamers" – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

By passing the DREAM Act, he argued, those children could come out of the shadows and use their intelligence, education and talent to become part of the workforce. Thus, those children, many of whom come from humble beginnings, could become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, helping to fuel the American economy.

Speaker Boehner indicates openness to immigration reform

Fri, Nov 22 10:46 AM by Romona Paden

There is still a lot of uncertainty about the path forward on immigration reform.

After recently stating that immigration reform legislation had no chance of passing through Congress by the end of the year, and signaling his overall skepticism on the issue, House Speaker John Boehner changed his tune slightly on Thursday.

On Nov. 21, Rep. Boehner held a news conference to address immigration reform where he not only spoke of the need to get some sort of legislation passed, but praised President Barack Obama for indicating that he was open to compromising with Congress.

Boehner's press conference
At the press conference, Boehner made several comments that should be encouraging to advocates for immigration reform. He reiterated a sentiment he expressed during the 2012 election season that reforming the immigration system is a necessary step forward for the country, while also offering praise for the president's recently stated position that he was open to a step-by-step process.

"Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not," Boehner said at the news conference Thursday. "I have made clear, going back to the day after the last election in 2012, that it was time for Congress to deal with this issue. I was encouraged that the president said that he wouldn't stand in the way of step-by-step immigration reform."

Path forward still unclear
While Boehner's comments certainly seem to make Congressional action on immigration reform more likely, how exactly that is going to happen is still far from clear. The president has said multiple times that he is willing to address the issue in the gradual manner that House Republicans prefer. But he has also said he won't do that if the process doesn't address the major problems with the system, a path to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants among them.

House Republicans, on the other hand, have also stated their desire to deal with immigration reform. Although, they have offered very few specifics on how to go about that process.

Disagreement in the immigrant community about a path to citizenship

Thu, Nov 21 11:08 AM by Romona Paden

For many immigrants, it's the ability to freely travel back and forth to their home country that is more important than full legal citizenship.

The current debate over immigration reform has taken many twists and turns, with politicians, advocacy groups and protesters on all sides of the issue constantly arguing over the best path forward. But recent developments coming out of the immigrant community itself may be some of the most transformative when it comes to determining how the U.S. government will reform the immigration system.

Not all undocumented workers set on citizenship
While a path to citizenship may be the most important issue in the reform debate for many in the immigrant rights movement, there are some within that community who could see a compromise that doesn't necessarily grant them full legal rights.

According to The New York Times, many undocumented workers are more concerned with having freedom of movement than they are with gaining full citizenship. Understanding that Congress might not be willing to include that provision in immigration reform legislation, those workers envision a compromise that would allow them to get a driver's license and have the ability to freely leave and re-enter the U.S. as the kinds of steps that could be taken to reach an agreement.

Glendy Martinez, a 30-year-old undocumented immigrant who is originally from Nicaragua, and currently lives and works in Houston, hopes to be able to visit the three children she left behind in her home country.

"So many people back there depend on those of us who are here," Martinez told the Times. "It would be such a help if we could work in peace and go back sometimes to see our children."

Other immigrants split over citizenship
Not all immigrants agree with that view. At the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., a group of 13 men who have legal permanent resident status recently wrote a letter to Congress saying that a path to citizenship for undocumented workers puts a stain on those who have lived in the U.S. legally and followed the required path to citizenship.

President willing to take gradual approach to immigration reform

Wed, Nov 20 12:45 PM by Romona Paden

The president says he is now willing to take a step-by-step approach to immigration reform.

With immigration reform legislation stalled in the House, and Republican leaders stating their unwillingness to move forward on a comprehensive solution, President Barack Obama recently said that he would be open to taking a step-by-step approach to the issue.

President changes his tune
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the president talked about immigration reform in an interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council. In response to House Republicans' insistence that the comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate over the summer was not acceptable, the president said that he would be willing to take the more gradual approach favored by the opposition, as long as it ended up accomplishing the same goals.

"If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like," Obama told the gathering of business executives. "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it … but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done. … We're not going to have a situation in which 11 million people are still living in the shadows and potentially getting deported on an ongoing basis."

House Republicans reaffirm their stance
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took the stage at the conference soon after the president left. In his own remarks, Ryan reasserted Republicans' belief that there wasn't enough time left in 2013 to get immigration reform done.

Conservative lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have described the 13-year path to citizenship measure contained in the Senate bill as "amnesty," a stance that is making the passage of any comprehensive reform extremely difficult. And that has raised the anger of reform advocates.

"Despite months of backroom discussions and promises, we have yet to see House Republicans' proposal on a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans," Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America's Voice, an immigration advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., told the International Business Times. "The ball is in House Republicans' court."

Protesters hunger strike for immigration reform

Wed, Nov 20 12:15 PM by Romona Paden

Philadelphia was one of the early sites of a series of hunger strikes that are intended to spur congressional action on immigration reform.

Hunger strikes and fasts have been used to further political and social causes for centuries. From the early Christians to Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., swearing off eating has proven to be an effective form of nonviolent civil disobedience, and now immigration reform advocates are using the idea to bring greater attention to their cause.

Californians engaging in a different kind of diet
California has long been known for its health and fitness fads. But when a group of protesters in the state began a hunger strike recently, their motivation had nothing to do with losing weight. Instead, they were attempting to pressure California lawmakers into passing immigration reform measures through Congress.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the third-most powerful member of the House Republican caucus and he has been one of the staunchest opponents of immigration reform. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., has joined in that opposition, and now both of them are the targets of the hunger strikes.

Hunger strikes spread across the country
The strikes, which began in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., before coming to California, were initiated by the immigration reform organizations CASA in Action and America's Voice, along with several religious groups and unions. And, according to the MintPress News, the plan is to spread the hunger strikes to other areas of the country, including Omaha, Neb., and Phoenix.

Known as "Fast for Families," the hunger strike operation is intended to be a 40-day action that will pressure Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S. and the federal DREAM Act, before the end of 2013.

"We will not stand for politics as usual when families are being torn apart. We are prepared to risk and put our bodies on the line until Congress puts all 11 million aspiring Americans on the path to citizenship," organizers said in a statement.

New documentary further humanizes immigration reform debate

Tue, Nov 19 12:04 PM by Romona Paden

A new documentary sheds further light on the nation's broken immigration system.

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, immigration rights activist and self-declared undocumented immigrant, has made a documentary about his experiences, and he recently announced that he has sold the rights to CNN Films.

Vargas' story
In the movie "Documented," Vargas tells the story of how he was brought to the U.S. illegally as child from his home in the Philippines. Growing up in California, he was ushered through the system with the help of friends, family, teachers and school administrators, eventually getting a driver's license and gaining entrance to college before becoming a reporter for The Washington Post.

Vargas began filming just before he announced his status in an editorial for The New York Times, spending the next two years documenting everything he went through as he worked toward gaining U.S. citizenship. He also incorporated stories of other undocumented immigrants, many of whom would benefit from the federal DREAM Act, which is currently stalled in Congress, along with other immigration reform legislation.

"It is imperative that we remind people what is actually at stake and that we humanize as much as possible a highly political, highly partisan issue," Vargas said in a statement. "A film to me has the potential to not only change policy but to change people's minds and hearts."

Vargas has turned his attention from journalism to the immigration reform debate full-time. Along with the working on the documentary, he also heads up Define America, an advocacy group that is planning a campaign around the film's release, which is set for the spring of 2014. Vargas also hopes to screen the film in theaters in states like Texas that are grappling with the nation's broken immigration system.

One of the most affecting scenes from the movie is an interview with Vargas' mother, who he hasn't seen in 20 years, in the Philippines. He had to send the camera crew there without him since he wouldn't have been allowed back into the U.S. due to his undocumented status.

Congressional “detention bed mandate” draws criticism

Tue, Nov 19 11:11 AM by Romona Paden

Many undocumented immigrants find themselves in legal limbo after being sent to detention facilities.

Arrests of undocumented immigrants have been on the rise over the past several years, and part of the reason for that is a little-known congressional directive called the "detention bed mandate."

With the mandate, Congress has dictated that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has to fill the nation's approximately 34,000 beds, which are spread out over 250 immigrant detention facilities. That has led to thousands of immigrants who don't have criminal records being locked up for weeks, months or even years, often without the opportunity to appeal or contest their confinement.

Questions about detention policy
At the Department of Homeland Security's detention center in Henderson, Nev., the story is all too familiar. In one case, Michael Martinez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, went to his local police department to begin the citizenship application process. Instead, according to the Las Vegas Sun, he was arrested and taken to the detention facility.

"I work and I pay taxes. I care for my family," Martinez told the Sun. "Then, when I start to try to legalize my status, I'm detained. So I'm not working, and meanwhile the government is paying to lock me up. Now, if they deport me, who will take care of my wife and son, who are U.S. citizens? They'll be public charges. It makes no sense."

This sort of detention policy, which is widely criticized by immigrants' rights advocates and legal professionals, has served to highlight the need for immigration reform. Along with possibly violating the rights of undocumented immigrants, the practice costs U.S. taxpayers more than $2 billion a year, according to NPR.

Even Janet Napolitano, former secretary of the Homeland Security Department, describes the mandate as "artificial," telling NPR that, "We [the U.S.] ought to be managing the actual detention population to risk, not to an arbitrary number."

FWD.us works toward immigration reform

Mon, Nov 18 11:05 AM by Romona Paden

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's organization, FWD.us, has taken a new approach to immigration reform advocacy.

The push for immigration reform has been coming from all corners of the political and business worlds, but one particular group is probably operating with a bit more funding than the others.

FWD.us, founded and paid for by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and several other technology industry heavyweights, has been actively pursuing a revamp of the country's immigration system, and it has been doing so by using some of the deepest pockets in the entire lobbying and advocacy industry.

Backing politicians
Instead of spending a lot of time, money and effort on specific issues in the immigration debate, like a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S., FWD.us has focused much of its energy on backing political candidates who are sympathetic to the cause. That approach, while different from the work of most immigration reform groups, has served an important purpose, giving political shelter to legislators who might otherwise have been afraid to take on a controversial issue like immigration reform.

However, with immigration reform legislation now stalled in the House of Representatives, FWD.us is starting to change its strategy, recently announcing a round of television and Internet ads that will be covering the air and digital waves throughout the last several weeks of 2013.

Change in tactics
The delay in passing legislation to fix the immigration system has led FWD.us to branch out into several new areas of advocacy. The new ads, which are non-partisan, feature quotes from President Barack Obama and other political leaders criticizing the delay in passing meaningful reform.

FWD.us also recently announced the hiring of Bebo executive Darius Contractor to be the organization's new chief technology officer. He will work with groups of programmers to push for public support of immigration reform, including the expansion of the H-1B visa program.

FWD.us works toward immigration reform

Mon, Nov 18 11:05 AM by Romona Paden

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's organization, FWD.us, has taken a new approach to immigration reform advocacy.

The push for immigration reform has been coming from all corners of the political and business worlds, but one particular group is probably operating with a bit more funding than the others.

FWD.us, founded and paid for by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and several other technology industry heavyweights, has been actively pursuing a revamp of the country's immigration system, and it has been doing so by using some of the deepest pockets in the entire lobbying and advocacy industry.

Backing politicians
Instead of spending a lot of time, money and effort on specific issues in the immigration debate, like a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S., FWD.us has focused much of its energy on backing political candidates who are sympathetic to the cause. That approach, while different from the work of most immigration reform groups, has served an important purpose, giving political shelter to legislators who might otherwise have been afraid to take on a controversial issue like immigration reform.

However, with immigration reform legislation now stalled in the House of Representatives, FWD.us is starting to change its strategy, recently announcing a round of television and Internet ads that will be covering the air and digital waves throughout the last several weeks of 2013.

Change in tactics
The delay in passing legislation to fix the immigration system has led FWD.us to branch out into several new areas of advocacy. The new ads, which are non-partisan, feature quotes from President Barack Obama and other political leaders criticizing the delay in passing meaningful reform.

FWD.us also recently announced the hiring of Bebo executive Darius Contractor to be the organization's new chief technology officer. He will work with groups of programmers to push for public support of immigration reform, including the expansion of the H-1B visa program.

Vice president speaks at naturalization ceremony

Fri, Nov 15 12:49 PM by Romona Paden

Vice President Biden delivered a speech at a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta where he continued to push for immigration reform.

Vice President Joseph Biden delivered the keynote address at a naturalization ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 14. There, he expressed his disappointment in House Speaker John Boehner's declaration earlier in the week that comprehensive immigration reform legislation has no chance of passing through Congress by the end of the year.

Biden makes pitch for immigration reform
Biden made his remarks in front of 104 newly naturalized citizens and their families at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Along with expressing his frustration with Boehner, Biden urged the immigrants who had just received citizenship to help advocate for immigration reform.

"Don't pull up the ladder behind you when you come on board," Biden told the crowd, according to CNN. "There are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans that deserve a chance, that deserve a path, to earn their way … so reach back, help as you move on, and don't be afraid."

Biden highlights economic positives of immigrants
In his speech at the ceremony, Biden not only focused on immigration reform as a moral issue – relating an anecdote about how his mother told him not to treat the Queen of England any differently than he would anyone else, because everyone is equal – he also spoke to the economic and social benefits immigrants bring to the country.

"Studies show that, for example, if those 11 million people are let out of the shadows, the GDP of the United States will grow by an additional 5.4 percent over the next five years," Biden said. "Another $1.7 trillion will be added to the economy. Social Security will be more solvent, not less solvent."

Biden took advantage of the opportunity to speak in front of a friendly audience to continue making the pitch for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. It was part of a campaign by the Obama administration to refocus national attention on the issue.

Democratic Senator expresses confidence on immigration reform

Fri, Nov 15 11:14 AM by Romona Paden

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., still believes an immigration reform bill can pass through Congress before the end of the year.

Despite assurances from House Republicans that comprehensive immigration reform has no chance of happening in 2013, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Nov. 14 that he still thinks legislation is possible this year.

Gang of Eight
Schumer was part of the "Gang of Eight" senators who came to a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform over the summer, passing a bill that has been stalled in the House for months. A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants was one of the keystones of that compromise, and that has been the biggest obstacle to reform in the House.

Nonetheless, Schumer believes that if Congress doesn't pass a reform bill by the end of 2013, it will definitely happen early in 2014. As evidence for his optimism, Schumer cited the practical concerns of the election cycle, noting that Republicans would have to realize it's in their best interest to get something done on the issue.

"They have to do something, and the Republican leadership in the House knows that – Speaker Boehner knows that," Schumer told reporters. "At the same time, they can't do it without Democrats."

Other issues getting in the way
At the same time, other legislative battles have overtaken immigration reform on the political agenda. The major problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, congressional wrangling over budgetary issues and hearings related to the leaking of National Security Agency documents have all become pressing issues, drawing attention away from fixing the immigration system.

Schumer acknowledged as much, telling the Washington Times, "It would be nice if we could get something done this year – I wouldn't rule it out – but I think all the fuss about Obamacare, all the problems that have occurred, have made it less likely to do something now, [because] my guess – [Republicans] may not want to go off that message."

Speaker Boehner won’t allow House to take up immigration bill in 2013

Thu, Nov 14 12:44 PM by Romona Paden

Speaker Boehner cited problems with the Affordable Care Act as one reason why the House would not be able to get to immigration reform in 2013.

House Speaker John Boehner is taking a stand on comprehensive immigration reform, and it appears that he will be eliminating any chance of the legislation coming to a vote by the end of the year.

Boehner's objections
Speaking to the idea of combining a House bill with the immigration overhaul measure passed by the Senate over the summer, Boehner told reporters, "The idea that we're going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I'll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill."

Instead, Boehner wants to take a step-by-step approach to immigration reform, which he describes as a more common-sense strategy. One of the major holdups is the idea of paving a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States.

He also cited the limited time left in the current legislative session and other priorities, including the Affordable Care Act and ongoing budget negotiations, as other reasons why immigration reform would be put off until 2014.

Immigrants confront Boehner
The tension over Boehner's statements was heightened even further when he was confronted by two young undocumented immigrants. One of them, 17-year-old Carmen Linda, asked Boehner how he would feel if his family was torn apart.

According to The New York Times, in response, Boehner told her, "I'm trying to find some way to get this thing done. It's, uh, as you know, not easy, not going to be an easy path forward. But I've made it clear since the day after the election it's time to get this done."

As of now, it appears that the most likely timing for the House to take up immigration reform legislation will be in early 2014, before the midterm elections get into full swing.

Colorado leading the way in granting rights to LGBT immigrants

Tue, Nov 12 1:56 PM by Romona Paden

Colorado is among the leading states in the nation when it comes to granting rights to undocumented LGBT immigrants.

While a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration system has been front page news lately, one thing that has been lost in the discussion is the status of LGBT undocumented immigrants and their legal rights.

According to an analysis by the Williams Institute, 30 percent of the nearly 1 million LGBT immigrants living in the United States are undocumented. That means they are caught in a no man's land of double minority status, hindering their ability to live and work in the country.

Colorado attempts to remedy situation
Colorado is one state that is working to bring many of those undocumented LGBT immigrants out of the legal shadows. Despite being a state that doesn't allow gay marriage, it responded to the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act by almost immediately enabling same-sex couples to sponsor their undocumented partners for citizenship or a green card, as long as they have a marriage certificate from another state that allows the practice.

"What that means is that if you live in a state that does not recognize marriage equality like Colorado, the federal government will still recognize immigration benefits in Colorado," Bryon Large, an immigration attorney in Aurora, Colo., told the Public News Service.

After the Supreme Court ruling, U.S. immigration officials began recognizing marriage licenses from states where the practice is allowed, instead of focusing solely on the couple's place of residence. That has opened up opportunities for couples in places like Colorado, which only performs civil unions, to grant the full rights of marriage to LGBT immigrants.

"Being able to sponsor a partner for citizenship has been a longstanding part of who we are as Americans," Mindy Barton, legal director of the LGBT Community Center of Colorado, told the Service. "So being able to have equal treatment of gay and lesbian spouses is vitally important to being able to achieve full equality."

Veterans Day celebrations include push for immigration reform

Mon, Nov 11 11:51 AM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform was a hot topic on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day 2013 provided yet another opportunity for activists to highlight the important role of immigrants in the nation's past, present and future.

Veteran and immigrant becomes advocate for reform
In New York City, Francisco Lema, an Ecuadorian-born veteran of the Iraq war, has turned his attention to the immigration reform movement. In part due to his desire to serve his country, and in part because he has family members who are undocumented immigrants, Lema has been advocating for reform by holding prayer vigils outside the Staten Island office of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm.

"When I went to the military I was just a permanent resident. I always loved this country, so I wanted to serve. To me it was like giving back something to this country," Lema told the New York Daily News.

Lately, Lema has been one of a group of activists, led by the umbrella group Faith in New York, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, who have been holding the vigils three days a week in front of Grimm's office in the hope that it will pressure the congressman to vote in favor of the comprehensive immigration reform bill now stalled in the House. They will mark Veterans Day by gathering in the same spot.

Minnesota veterans and immigrants show their support
A group of veterans and immigrants between the ages of 15 and 99 gathered in St. Paul, Minn., on the eve of Veterans Day to show their support for the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military. They were joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who also supports passage of the bill.

Veronica Zhinin, of Minneapolis, now 17, was 5 years old when her parents brought her from Ecuador to the United States. She plans to graduate next spring from South High School. "My dream is to serve in the U.S. Navy," she told the Star Tribune. "I want to be a hero."

Veterans Day celebrations include push for immigration reform

Mon, Nov 11 11:51 AM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform was a hot topic on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day 2013 provided yet another opportunity for activists to highlight the important role of immigrants in the nation's past, present and future.

Veteran and immigrant becomes advocate for reform
In New York City, Francisco Lema, an Ecuadorian-born veteran of the Iraq war, has turned his attention to the immigration reform movement. In part due to his desire to serve his country, and in part because he has family members who are undocumented immigrants, Lema has been advocating for reform by holding prayer vigils outside the Staten Island office of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm.

"When I went to the military I was just a permanent resident. I always loved this country, so I wanted to serve. To me it was like giving back something to this country," Lema told the New York Daily News.

Lately, Lema has been one of a group of activists, led by the umbrella group Faith in New York, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, who have been holding the vigils three days a week in front of Grimm's office in the hope that it will pressure the congressman to vote in favor of the comprehensive immigration reform bill now stalled in the House. They will mark Veterans Day by gathering in the same spot.

Minnesota veterans and immigrants show their support
A group of veterans and immigrants between the ages of 15 and 99 gathered in St. Paul, Minn., on the eve of Veterans Day to show their support for the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military. They were joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who also supports passage of the bill.

Veronica Zhinin, of Minneapolis, now 17, was 5 years old when her parents brought her from Ecuador to the United States. She plans to graduate next spring from South High School. "My dream is to serve in the U.S. Navy," she told the Star Tribune. "I want to be a hero."

Major religious groups show support for immigration reform

Fri, Nov 8 12:19 PM by Romona Paden

Major religious institutions are getting behind the push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Federal lawmakers are being lobbied by a broad swath of constituents who want to see the nation's immigration system fixed. And you can add religious groups to that collection, as leaders from both the Catholic and Evangelical Christian movements have started to weigh in with their support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Archbishop of New York joins the fray
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has added his voice to the chorus of advocates who want to see the House of Representatives pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the end of the year. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Dolan called the issue "a matter of great moral urgency," further underlining the human costs of congressional inaction.

"As a moral matter … our nation cannot continue to receive the benefits of the work and contributions of undocumented immigrants without extending to them the protection of the law," Dolan wrote. "Keeping these human beings as a permanent underclass of workers who are unable to assert their rights or enjoy the fruits of their labor is a stain on the soul of the nation."

Evangelical organizations also pushing for reform
Catholic bishops aren't the only religious group in the country who are throwing their support behind immigration reform.

Evangelical Christian organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, have been strongly advocating for comprehensive changes to the nation's immigration system, one of which would be a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers living in the U.S.

Even white evangelicals, the most skeptical religious group on the issue of reform, according to the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project, have shown support for immigration reform. More than 60 percent of them now believe that undocumented workers should be allowed to stay in the country as long as there are certain conditions attached.

Activists stage sit-in to pressure lawmaker on immigration reform

Fri, Nov 8 11:43 AM by Romona Paden

Bakersfield, Calif., was the site of the latest protest in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The heat is being turned up on lawmakers who have refused to back comprehensive immigration reform, including Rep. Kevin McClatchy, R-Calif., the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. Around dusk on Wednesday night, Nov. 7, about 100 female activists began occupying McClatchy's Bakersfield, Calif., office in an effort to get him to sign a pledge to allow a vote on the immigration reform bill currently pending in the House.

Putting the pressure on
McClatchy has been one of the leaders of a block of conservative House Republicans that has refused to take up the bill, which would clear a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living in the United States.

The protesters want McClatchy and the rest of the House to approve H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. And in order to get him to do so, they occupied his office for nearly 12 hours, prompting the local police to show up and, eventually, the legislator himself, who made an appearance around midnight.

One of the women at the sit-in, Lupe Larios, released a statement through the United Farm Workers contending that the protesters did not get the response from McClatchy that they had been hoping to hear.

"We appreciate Congressman McClatchy taking time to come meet with us, but he said that with only 13 days remaining in the 2013 congressional session, it is not realistic to address immigration reform," Larios said in her statement. "As one of his constituents and a voter, we don't want to hear more excuses as to why it can't be done this year."

McClatchy's response
Mike Long, a spokesman for McClatchy, released his own statement criticizing the protesters for disrupting the activities and services of the congressman's office. Instead of a comprehensive reform package, McClatchy is in favor of reforming the nation's immigration system through a series of smaller measures.

Activists stage sit-in to pressure lawmaker on immigration reform

Fri, Nov 8 11:43 AM by Romona Paden

Bakersfield, Calif., was the site of the latest protest in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

The heat is being turned up on lawmakers who have refused to back comprehensive immigration reform, including Rep. Kevin McClatchy, R-Calif., the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. Around dusk on Wednesday night, Nov. 7, about 100 female activists began occupying McClatchy's Bakersfield, Calif., office in an effort to get him to sign a pledge to allow a vote on the immigration reform bill currently pending in the House.

Putting the pressure on
McClatchy has been one of the leaders of a block of conservative House Republicans that has refused to take up the bill, which would clear a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living in the United States.

The protesters want McClatchy and the rest of the House to approve H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. And in order to get him to do so, they occupied his office for nearly 12 hours, prompting the local police to show up and, eventually, the legislator himself, who made an appearance around midnight.

One of the women at the sit-in, Lupe Larios, released a statement through the United Farm Workers contending that the protesters did not get the response from McClatchy that they had been hoping to hear.

"We appreciate Congressman McClatchy taking time to come meet with us, but he said that with only 13 days remaining in the 2013 congressional session, it is not realistic to address immigration reform," Larios said in her statement. "As one of his constituents and a voter, we don't want to hear more excuses as to why it can't be done this year."

McClatchy's response
Mike Long, a spokesman for McClatchy, released his own statement criticizing the protesters for disrupting the activities and services of the congressman's office. Instead of a comprehensive reform package, McClatchy is in favor of reforming the nation's immigration system through a series of smaller measures.

Labor unions join campaign for immigration reform

Wed, Nov 6 12:54 PM by Romona Paden

Labor unions will be airing more than $1 million worth of TV ads in support of immigration reform over the next several weeks.

These days, it seems that almost everyone is getting in on the push for overhauling the U.S. immigration system. The AFL-CIO, which is the largest labor federation in the country, is set to air more than $1 million worth of television ads targeting Republican congressmen who blocked a rewrite of the nation's immigration laws.

Union taking sides
The ads will focus on Republican-represented districts with large Latino populations, according to Businessweek. And, in an effort to reach Latino voters directly, the ads will be broadcast in Spanish. House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, whose Bakersfield, Calif., district is 36 percent Hispanic, and who worked to impede comprehensive immigration reform, will be among the legislators who will feel the brunt of the union's offensive.

"The time for acting on immigration reform is now, and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. "Every day, over 1,000 people are deported, while House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform with a road map to citizenship and workers' rights."

Other House Republicans who will see the ads aired in their districts include Buck McKeon and Gary Miller of California, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton of Colorado, Joe Heck of Nevada, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Daniel Webster of Florida. English language versions of the ads will appear in the Washington, D.C., metro area as well.

Support for immigration reform continues to grow
The AFL-CIO is just the latest major group to get behind an immigration overhaul, increasing pressure on those in Congress who are reluctant to make changes to citizenship requirements and privileges, with one of those being the institution of a national DREAM Act.

But as this support continues to build, and Latino voters are made increasingly aware of their elected representatives unwillingness to work toward comprehensive changes to the system it will be extremely difficult to keep delaying immigration reform.

White House continues to push for immigration reform

Tue, Nov 5 1:12 PM by Romona Paden

President Barack Obama will continue advocating for immigration reform when he stops in New Orleans on Nov. 8.

With the debate over government spending on the back burner for the time being, President Barack Obama has made immigration reform his top policy objective. To further that effort he is spending much of early November courting business leaders, legislators and constituents in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of measures that would revamp the nation's immigration system, including a path to citizenship.

Nov. 5 meeting
The president began his latest immigration push by meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and CEOs from some of the largest corporations in America on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The hope is that by getting the heads of those companies – which included Motorola, Lockheed Martin, State Farm and McDonalds – to help advocate for immigration reform, they would be able to convince conservative legislators and voters that a solution to the issue would benefit everyone.

The president also emphasized how important immigration reform is to continuing U.S. economic growth, especially considering the nation's reliance on immigrant labor.

New Orleans visit
The president will continue his campaign on Friday, Nov. 8, with a stop at the Port of New Orleans, which is also a major hub for the Department of Homeland Security. There, according to the Times-Picayune, he will speak about the importance of exports to the country's economic engine, while also further highlighting the role of immigrants in producing goods that the U.S. can sell overseas. And he will continue to push Republican leaders to join him in passing an immigration reform bill.

"The President is willing to work with people on both sides of the aisle to get this done," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a press conference. "It's good for business, it's good for our economy as a whole and it is the right thing to do. We believe it is time for the House to follow the Senate and take action."

With these latest efforts, the path to fixing the country's immigration system appears to be getting a little bit smoother.

The uncertain future of the green card lottery

Mon, Nov 4 1:24 PM by Romona Paden

The green card lottery, which might soon become nonexistent, won't award you millions of dollars, but it will take you one giant step closer to gaining citizenship.

Among the many issues under discussion in the debate over immigration reform is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the green card lottery. Some legislators who are working to overhaul the nation's immigration system want to see the lottery abolished, but there are others who view it as an integral part of that system.

What is the green card lottery?
Every year since 1995, 50,000 immigrants have been randomly selected to receive citizenship through a green card, or permanent resident visa. It's a free online application process, which makes it as easy as possible to apply.

Unfortunately, the registration period for the 2015 green card lottery recently came to a close. But that just means you can start preparing now to apply next year, assuming it remains in place in the event of comprehensive immigration reform.

In order to be eligible, you must have either the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma or have spent two of the past five years working in a qualifying occupation. If you want to find out if you fit the criteria, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online Database.

Ensuring diversity
By only allowing immigrants from countries that don't have large populations within the U.S. to apply – there are 19 nations from which immigrants are not eligible, all of them with large communities already in the country – the lottery is an effective way of making sure there is a highly diverse cultural environment in the U.S.

As was pointed out in a recent article in Businessweek that cited several academic studies, greater diversity tends to lead to more innovation and higher profits at companies that hire people with a wider range of cultural backgrounds. That ability to drive the nation's economic engine is yet another reason it's crucial to ensure people from a multitude of countries can earn U.S. citizenship. 

Supreme Court rulings bring couples out of the shadows

Mon, Nov 4 12:27 PM by Romona Paden

California is leading the way in affording greater rights and freedoms to gay couples where at least one partner doesn't have a green card.

Changes to both the nation's immigration laws and the statutes governing gay marriage are opening up a world of possibilities for couples across the United States. And California, which is leading the way in affording greater legal rights to gays and immigrants, offers many examples of how these new developments are making life for gay immigrants in America a happier, more fulfilling and more equal experience.

Marriage brings business out of the shadows
For years now, Alfred Cheung, of San Francisco, has been operating his tech company, which designs and sells software intended to help government and nonprofit organizations, in the regulatory shadows. That's because he's in the country without a green card.

But with the Supreme Court's 2013 rulings that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California's ban on gay marriage, Cheung was free to marry his boyfriend of six years – which, according to SFGate.com, he did in October – and that will also help pave his way to full citizenship.

A native of Hong Kong, Cheung has long been afraid to promote his business and find new investors because of the legal gray area within which he had been living. Now, though, he is excited about being able to grow his operation without having a legal cloud hanging over his head.

Marriage frees couple from fear
According to a study from UCLA, there are an estimated 36,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. with one of the partners in the relationship being foreign-born and with that person waiting to get a green card as the spouse of a citizen. One such couple is Tom Knutson and Phan Datthuyawat of Sacramento, Calif.

The recent Court rulings also cleared the way for them to marry, which was of immediate concern because Knutson is suffering from pancreatic cancer, and Datthuyawat hasn't visited his mother in Thailand in 10 years. Now they can make better arrangements for Knutson's care, and Datthuyawat will finally be able to see his family without worrying about not being let back into the country upon his return.

Immigration proving to be tricky issue for Sen. Marco Rubio

Fri, Nov 1 3:23 PM by Romona Paden

Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents are Cuban immigrants, recently changed his mind about immigration reform.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been among the most active legislators in the immigration reform debate, helping to shepherd the Senate's sweeping immigration overhaul measure to passage over the summer. But recently he has made an about-face, and is now backing away from the comprehensive reform strategy he helped craft.

A change in tactics
Rubio helped craft a compromise between Senate Republicans and Democrats that would have initiated an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws if it had been approved in the House as well. But that chamber has stalled the bill, instead arguing that immigration should be addressed one issue at a time.

When Rubio was part of the Senate compromise, he saw a steep drop in support from members of the so-called Tea Party – a loose coalition of very conservative voters. Now that Republicans in the House have effectively killed the Senate bill, Rubio has changed his earlier stance, recently saying that he agreed with the approach of his colleagues in the House.

That 90-degree turn has led many people to question his motives, while at the same time his former conservative backers seem to be distancing themselves from him because of his earlier support for a comprehensive approach.

Controversial issue keeps Rubio on the ropes
Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, appears to be trying to position himself for a run for national office in 2016, according to the National Journal. In order to do so, he is trying to appease both the far right and more centrist factions of the Republican Party.

However, that approach appears to be backfiring to some degree. More extreme conservatives refuse to forgive him for supporting a bill that included amnesty and a path to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally, and moderates are souring on him because of his change in positions on immigration reform.

Immigration reform is dividing the Republican Party

Thu, Oct 31 2:00 PM by Romona Paden

Immigration reform is pitting Republican lawmakers against each other.

Now that the government shutdown has ended, and budgetary issues have been moved down the road, immigration reform is once again front and center in the political debate. And for Republicans in Washington, D.C., that debate has recently evolved into one that could split the party

Conservative groups advocating for reform
A broad coalition of politically conservative groups, including business executives, prominent pundits and evangelical leaders, are pressuring federal lawmakers to pass immigration reform legislation. But with many Republicans in Congress resisting such efforts, there is a struggle going on within the party's ranks that could lead to a major schism, according to The New York Times.

Many of those conservative groups are threatening to withhold donations to any Republican legislator who hinders the immigration reform process, and that could be just the kind of threat that inspires action.

"I respect people's views and concerns about the fact that we have a situation in the United States where we have millions of undocumented immigrants," Justin Sayfie, a lawyer from Florida who helped raise money for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign last year, told the Times. "But we have what we have. This is October 2013. And the country will be better off if we fix it."

Three House Republicans join the effort
According to USA Today, Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Fla., Jeff Denham, Calif., and David Valadao, Calif., have all joined House Democrats to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration law similar to the one passed by the Senate over the summer. However, with 218 votes needed for passage in the House, and 186 Democratic co-sponsors, the three Republicans who have joined with them still aren't enough to ensure the bill's success.

The debate over whether to handle reform in one sweeping bill or in a step-by-step fashion is still raging in the capital, but with these latest developments, momentum appears to be rapidly shifting in favor of some sort of major reform, including a path to U.S. citizenship for people who are in the country illegally.

Ellis Island reopened

Tue, Oct 29 9:51 AM by Romona Paden

Ellis island reopened

In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast, causing many historical sites, including Ellis Island, to be temporarily shuttered. But on Oct. 28, 2013, the former immigration hub was reopened to the public for the first time since the storm. As visitors arrived, they were able to witness history firsthand.

Ellis Island
Located just off the southern tip of Manhattan, Ellis Island was the primary point of entry into the U.S. for many immigrants between 1892 to 1924. During that time, the island acted as a processing center for immigrants coming into the country, in an era when the U.S. allowed a higher quota of immigrants.

Immigration slowed during World War I, and Ellis Island was used as a military base and hospital. However, in 1921 the island welcomed 560,971 immigrants. The Immigration Act of 1924 restricted the United States' total immigration quota to 164,000, ending the mass immigration period in America. 

The foundation
When visitors go to Ellis Island, they can look for the names of those who passed through its gates. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., works to maintain the island and the Statue of Liberty. They offer genealogy services and develop exhibits on the island. 

Reopening
Though the island has not fully recovered from Sandy, and the more than 1 million historical photos are still in storage, the island was still reopened Oct. 28. David Luchsinger, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, which includes Ellis Island, wanted to open the site on that specific date because it was 127 birthday of the Statue of Liberty.

"It feels wonderful to be able to welcome visitors again," he told The New York Times. "It's overwhelming."

The majority of the building's structure was stable during the storm in 2012. However, the flood surge sent water streaming into the basement, where most of the historical artifacts were kept. Workers moved more than two-thirds of the the site's inventory before the storm. 

Republican backs immigration reform bill

Mon, Oct 28 11:26 AM by Romona Paden

Republican backs immigration bill

In an attempt to push immigration reform forward in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., has joined House Democrats to craft a new bill that addresses the issue. Denham is the first and only Republican to join a group of 185 Democrats working on the bill, which will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

"We can't afford any more delays," Denham said in a statement. "I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks."

The bill
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act more or less mirrors the bill passed by the Senate in June. It offers a path to citizenship, and includes Denham's ENLIST Act, which would allow certain qualified immigrants to join the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Denham went on to say that the bill "makes securing the border a requirement, not a goal, and puts measurable benchmarks in place to be verified by independent sources to ensure that our border is secure." 

The countdown 
There are only 19 legislative days left in the 2013 congressional year, and advocates for reform are worried that a bill won't be passed in that time. Democrats who are working on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act hope to bring more Republicans in on the effort. 

"Immigration reform is an issue that transcends party, region, and industry – it affects the totality of the American family. I am glad Rep. Denham is supporting a solution the majority of Americans agree is necessary," Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, told CNN. "The question now is whether more Republicans will join the 185 Democrats who have signed this bill."

Republicans, including Rep. John Fleming, R-La., have not hidden their dissatisfaction with the bill. Fleming believes the President will only enforce the parts he favors. 

President is willing to compromise on immigration reform

Fri, Oct 25 11:42 AM by Romona Paden

President Obama willing to compromise

President Barack Obama gave a speech on Thursday, Oct. 24, calling on Congress to pass immigration reform. The president had been a supporter of one major overhaul, like the bill that passed the Senate earlier this summer, but in his speech on Thursday he expressed a willingness to consider Republican proposals to work on reform in separate pieces. 

Reform approaches
Back in June, Senate legislators passed a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill included other changes, like increased border protection, as well, wrapping immigration reform into one package. However, it was held up in the House of Representatives. Some Republican leaders in the House worked on a piecemeal approach to reform as an alternative to the Senate proposal. But until his recent speech, the president had only shown support for a single major overhaul of the system.

In his address, he said he was willing to work on smaller pieces of legislation, as long as they created a path to citizenship.

"If House Republicans have new and different additional ideas on how we should move forward, then we want to hear them. I'll be listening," Obama said. 

Effects of the shutdown
When the government shut down in early October because lawmakers could not agree on budget issues, immigration reform was put on the back burner. Since the Congress has made some progress, the president has been pushing Congress to refocus on reform. 

"I just believe this is the right thing to do," Obama said. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the shutdown battle has put some Republicans on edge. Many do not feel comfortable working with the president, and would rather he remain out of the picture during negotiations.

"He has zero credibility," Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) told the Times. "If he wants to be helpful on immigration reform, he has to do what he has been doing for the past five years, which is nothing."

Diaz-Balart as been working on a bill that would increase border security and allow some immigrants without legal status to pay a penalty before eventually applying for a visa. 

Tips on passing the US naturalization test

Thu, Oct 24 5:15 PM by Romona Paden

Taking the naturalization test

Children who go to elementary, middle and high school in the U.S. are required to study American history and government. When permanent residents apply for U.S. citizenship, they have to take a civics test to determine their knowledge of those subjects. One might assume that students who grew up taking American history and government classes would easily be able to answer the questions on the immigration civics test. However, according to USA Today, when asked in a telephone poll, only 65 percent of natural-born Americans answered the required six out of 10 questions on the test correctly. The Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University in Cincinnati commissioned the telephone survey in 2012.

Results 
Passing a civics test that only 35 percent of Americans who were polled failed might seem daunting. But there are a few encouraging things to remember. If you are applying for U.S. citizenship, you have time to study. USA Today also noted that the telephone poll did not give participants time to brush up on their knowledge. 

Another reason not to be scared by the poll results is that American's don't feel they need to know the information on the test. 

"The citizenship candidates who have decided to file their application for naturalization and begin their life in the United States, they want it really bad," Christopher Bentley, a USCIS spokesman told USA Today. "That said, it is stuff that people would have learned in Civics 101 class."

Studying
There are plenty of resources to help you prepare for the naturalization test. Hop online and take pretests to get a feel for the questions. Then begin studying. Quiz yourself every day and you'll start to see an improvement on your test score.

Also, note that the naturalization test requires you to answer six out of 10 questions correctly. These questions are taken from a list of 100 possible choices. There are three categories of questions, including American government, American history and integrated civics. 

FWD.us to host hackathon for DREAMers

Thu, Oct 24 10:49 AM by Romona Paden

Hackathon pairs DREAMers with mentor

This past spring, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg helped form the FWD.us group. FWD.us is an advocacy group comprised of men and woman in leading positions in the technology fields. They support causes in immigration reform and education. In November, FWD.us will be holding a hackathon, which will give people involved in the DREAM program a chance to be mentored by leaders from the tech industry. 

The hackathon
A hackathon is a large event where participants spend multiple days focused on computer programming. The FWD.us hackathon aims to show lawmakers the kind of talent within the immigrant community. 

FWD.us stated on its website that, "Members of the tech community are keenly aware of the critical contributions immigrants—and particularly DREAMers—are already making to our economy and our country. This Hackathon is a way to make those contributions more tangible by connecting DREAMers… with some of the most innovative product design and engineering talent in Silicon Valley." 

The event will be held on Nov. 20 and 21. 

DREAMers
Children brought into the U.S. illegally by a parent have a path to U.S. citizenship through the DREAM act. To participate, those eligible must fill out an application, If it is accepted DREAMers must graduate from a college in the U.S., or join the military. Children involved in the program are generally referred to as DREAMers. 

FWD.us
FWD.us was formed by leaders in the tech community who want to ensure the country remains competitive in the global economy. To do this, they support efforts in immigration and education reform that can help intelligent, talented people become a part of the country's workforce.

According to the Washington Times, Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields have been lacking the skilled workers they need to keep growing. Not enough college students are graduating in STEM subjects to fill the available positions. Allowing skilled immigrants access to visas will fill empty positions, strengthening the economy. 

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