Government Threatens Families, Communities with Looming Temporary Protected Status Decisions

Tory Johnson of Immigration Impact reports that the US is home to an estimated 325,000 individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a temporary immigration status granted to nationals of specifically designated countries that are facing an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. Combined, more than 90 percent of these beneficiaries, or TPS holders, are from El Salvador (approximately 195,000), Honduras (approximately 57,000), and Haiti (approximately 50,000).

As the deadlines approach for the government to decide whether to extend or terminate several countries’ TPS designations, critical information about this sizable population has come to the forefront. This includes research on TPS holders’ social and financial contributions to American life, as well as the fiscal and social risks countries would face should the Trump administration choose to end El Salvador, Honduras, or Haiti’s designations for TPS.

Many TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have lived in the United States for decades. During this time, they have been regularly vetted by the government, submitting themselves to background checks every time their TPS has been renewed. Hondurans, for example, have passed these security checks 13 times.

In passing initial and continuous security checks, TPS holders receive temporary protection from deportation and access to a work permit. Though these benefits present barriers by being temporary in nature, TPS beneficiaries become active and contributing members of their communities and the nation.

The majority of both Salvadoran and Honduran TPS holders have lived in the United States for at least 20 years (51 and 63 percent, respectively), and 16 percent of Haitian TPS holders have resided in the country for at least two decades. In that time, many TPS holders settled and established families. For example, TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have an estimated 273,000 native-born U.S.-citizen children, and about 30 percent of TPS beneficiaries’ households have mortgages.

As a result of their work authorization, TPS beneficiaries also participate in the U.S. workforce at high rates. More than 80 percent of all TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti are active members of the U.S. labor force. These TPS holders support a range of industries, with the greatest shares in the construction, restaurant and food services, landscaping, childcare, hospitality, and grocery industries.

Through income and property taxes, Social Security and Medicare contributions, job creation, and spending TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti have added value to the U.S. economy. Their contributions to the country’s GDP over the next decade total an estimated $164 billion. In the six states in which TPS holders from these countries are concentrated (California, Florida, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Maryland), they add between $1.2 and $2.7 billion dollars annually to each state’s GDP. Nationally and locally, most of these billions would be lost if TPS designations for their countries are terminated.

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Chicago’s lawsuit against DOJ over sanctuary city status

 

Chicago Mayor Emanuel: We won’t be coerced on our values

The City of Chicago escalated its months-long battle with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement Monday, asking a federal court to block Attorney General Jeff Sessions from imposing several new conditions over certain federal grant money.

The suit revolves around specific conditions Sessions announced in July for a federal program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, or Bryne JAG, which provides federal funding to support local law enforcement efforts. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended his city’s lawsuit Monday, telling CNN the DOJ’s new stipulations against so-called sanctuary cities “undermines our actual safety agenda.”
“We want you to come to Chicago if you believe in the American dream,” Emanuel, a Democrat, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Newsroom.” “By forcing us, or the police department, to choose between the values of the city and the philosophy of the police department, in community policing, I think it’s a false choice and it undermines our actual safety agenda.”
Emanuel’s office said in a statement over the weekend that the Trump administration’s “latest unlawful misguided action undermines public safety and violates” the Constitution. He said the city is challenging the administration “to ensure that their misguided policies do not threaten the safety of our residents.”
For more on this story, click here.

Supreme Court Announces October Oral Argument Calendar

The Supreme Court announced its October oral argument calendar.  Immigration will dominate the first two weeks of the 2017 Term.  The Court will hear oral arguments in three immigration cases! Arguments in Session v. Dimaya will be on October 2 and arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez will be on October 3.   Arguments in the “travel ban” cases will be one week later on October 10.  The two cases – Trump v. Hawaii and Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project – have been consolidated for one hour of oral argument.

How The Browning Of America Is Upending Both Political Parties

America is undergoing a demographic change — posing unique challenges for both Republicans and Democrats. Malte Mueller/Getty Images/fStop
America is undergoing a demographic change — posing unique challenges for both Republicans and Democrats. Malte Mueller/Getty Images/fStop

Domenico Montanaro of NPR writes that America is at a demographic inflection point. The country is changing — it’s getting browner, as population growth slows among whites. Non-whites now make up a majority of kindergartners; by the next presidential election, the Census Bureau predicts they will be a majority of all children; and by 2044, no one racial group will be a majority of the country.

This shift among white voters is happening at a time when non-white voters are growing at rate never seen before in U.S. history. 2016 could be the first election in which the white vote is at or below 70 percent as a share of the electorate. In 1976, whites made up 89 percent of the electorate, and that held fairly steady until 1992. After that, as Latino and Asian immigration increased, and the black population held steady, the white vote has been set on a steady decline. More on this story, click here.

 

H1B Fireworks at GOP Debates

trump_rubio

At the Republican debate last week, both Rubio and Trump weighed in on the Disney H1B issue. IDisney let go tech of some workers, replaced the unit with an outsourcing company, and that company brought in H1B workers who the original (USC) workers were asked to train.

Marco Rubio called it illegal.

“If there’s an American working at Disney, and they bring in someone with an H-1B visa to replace their direct job, that is a violation of the law”, Rubio said.

Donald Trump said that he shouldn’t have been allowed to use the H-1B program the way he has.

“I’m a businessman and I have to do what I have to do, but it’s sitting there for you to use”, said Trump. “But it’s very bad”

Republicans and Democrats in Florida will have a chance to vote for their preferred presidential candidate on Tuesday.

Immigration Debate Goes to Senate Floor

Pres. Obama speaks in support of the immigration bill. (Olivier Douliery, McClatchy-Tribune)

WASHINGTON — With an overwhelming vote, the Senate on Tuesday launched debate on an ambitious overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, as Republicans, most of whom have not yet embraced the effort, declined to stand in the way of bringing it to the floor.

But continuing doubts within the GOP about some of the bill’s central elements, particularly on border security, could doom the effort. Republicans in the Senate and House want tighter control of the border with Mexico before the estimated 11 million people who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas would be allowed to gain permanent legal status.

Democrats, who control the narrowly divided Senate, appear to be willing to accept some measures to toughen border security, but not changes that a future president or Congress could use to block the bill’s 13-year route to citizenship. They worry that pursuit of nearly complete control of the southern border, which some Republicans say is the price of their vote, is an impossible goal that would leave immigrants in legal limbo for the next decade and beyond.

Republicans remain deeply divided about whether to compromise on that point. In Tuesday’s lopsided 82-15 vote, only Republicans opposed bringing up the bill.

Trying to bridge the divide in the Republican Party is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, perhaps the most crucial member of the bipartisan group that wrote the bill. He has been working on his own border security measure to offer as an amendment.

“I understand many in the Democratic Party and the advocate community for immigrants are asking for certainty in the green card process, but I also think we need to have certainty on the border process,” Rubio said Tuesday in the Senate halls. “And so we need to find both.”

To become law, the bill would also have to get through the Republican-controlled House. SpeakerJohn A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that passing an immigration bill into law would be “at the top” of his chamber’s accomplishments this year. He also hinted that he might be willing to let a bill come to the floor even if most of his GOP caucus does not support it. “My job is — as speaker — is to ensure that all members on both sides have a fair shot at their ideas,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

President Obama has touted the overhaul as his top second-term priority. Surrounded by law enforcement, labor and business advocates of immigration reform at the White House on Tuesday, he called on Congress to pass the “common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system.”

As the bill is written, immigrants would be allowed to transition to provisional legal status within six months after it becomes law if the Department of Homeland Security has come up with a plan for border security. After 10 years, if the plan is “operational,” most immigrants in good standing would be able to get green cards. After 13 years they could become citizens.

The legislation provides up to $6.5 billion for more drones, border agents and double-layer fencing across the border with Mexico to try to stop 90% of illegal crossings. Some sectors are well on their way to that goal, while others are less secure. But as the bill is currently written, even if this goal is not achieved, immigrants in the U.S. might still be allowed to become citizens.

“You got to give people a sense of certainty that they go through all these sacrifices, do all this, that there’s at the end of the horizon, the opportunity — not the guarantee, but the opportunity — to be part of this American family,” Obama said.

Many Republicans say that they want to support an immigration measure, but need a guarantee that there will not be a new wave of illegal immigration if they offer a path to citizenship to those who are already in the U.S.

Along with increased border security and the path to citizenship, the bill attempts to prevent illegal crossings by creating guest-worker programs for low- and high-skilled labor and by requiring all businesses to verify the legal status of new employees.

Overcoming the differences among Republicans will be key if the legislation clears the Senate and moves to the House, where the conservative majority prefers an approach that focuses more on law enforcement.

“If we don’t guarantee results on border security, if we don’t guarantee to the American people that we actually are going to get serious about stopping the flow of people illegally crossing our northwestern or southwestern border, that is the real poison pill,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, who has proposed tougher border provisions.

As the Senate began voting Tuesday, the anticipation of an unusually strong bipartisan tally appeared to be gratifying to senators who helped craft the bill. Rubio emerged from the Republican cloakroom with a smile. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) flashed a thumbs-up sign with his vote. When newly appointed Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.) voted yes, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a key member of the group, crossed the floor to shake his hand.

Still, GOP opposition is likely to swell in the weeks ahead, as those who voted to begin the debate want other changes that Democrats are not eager to make. Among those are one to require immigrants to pay back taxes on under-the-table jobs and another to bar holders of green cards from receiving certain tax credits, including those available to low-income Americans under the new healthcare law.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, offered a gloomy prediction for consensus: “We may not succeed.”

Other Republican ideas, though, are more likely to gain traction. These include requiring businesses to more quickly begin verifying the legal status of all new hires and bolstering the exit system at land ports of entry to improve tracking of those who overstay their visas. Studies show that 40% of the immigrants who are here without legal status did not cross illegally but remained after their visas expired.

Rubio has an amendment that would require English “proficiency,” rather than just “knowledge,” before immigrants can gain green cards.

Outside pressure on legislators, meanwhile, continues to build. The powerful Service Employees International Union launched new television ads in support of the bill Tuesday, while the conservative Heritage Foundation urged senators to defeat it, arguing that immigrants who gain legal status would be a drain on the government.

The Senate halls are increasingly filled with immigrants making the case to senators. Among them are many young adults without legal status who were brought to the U.S. as children. They call themselves Dreamers, after the Dream Act, a once-defeated measure now included as a provision in the bill that would give an expedited path to citizenship to those who join the military or attend college.

Source: LA Times

-Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your comments and questions at kristine@tungollaw.com.

Senate Judiciary Committee Passed Immigration Reform Bill

(Getty Images/AFP/File, John Moore)

Washington, DC– The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill on Tuesday, sending the measure to the Senate floor for consideration and giving the bill’s backers their first major legislative victory.

Members of the Democratic-controlled panel voted 13-5 in favor of the measure. If enacted, the plan would constitute the first overhaul of the nation’s immigration policy since 1986.

“The dysfunction in our current immigration system affects all of us and it is long past time for reform. I hope that our history, our values, and our decency can inspire us finally to take action,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), said.

Spectators cramming the committee room applauded and cheered loudly following the vote.

The panel’s 10 Democrats were joined in supporting the bill by three Republicans: Arizona’s Jeff Flake, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Utah’s Orrin Hatch. Flake and Graham are two of its four Republican authors.

Both party leaders in the Senate appeared supportive of the effort, a positive sign for backers hoping to win a solid majority in the full chamber.

“I think the ‘Gang of Eight’ has made a substantial contribution to moving the issue forward,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) praised the “masterful” job of Leahy in navigating roughly 300 proposed amendments and advancing the 844-page bill to the floor.

Immigration reform is a priority for both parties in Washington and so far is one example of bipartisanship this year on major legislation in a sharply divided Congress.

A key political aim involves Republicans hoping to attract more Hispanics to their side, while Democrats wishing to keep that growing voter bloc squarely in their camp.

Latinos voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama’s re-election. He congratulated the committee on its work and urged the Senate to bring the bill to the floor at its earliest possible opportunity.

“The legislation that passed the Judiciary Committee with a strong bipartisan vote is largely consistent with the principles of commonsense reform I have proposed and meets the challenge of fixing our broken immigration system,” he said in a statement. “None of the Committee members got everything they wanted, and neither did I, but in the end, we all owe it to the American people to get the best possible result over the finish line.”

The measure approved by the Judiciary panel would create a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

It aims to strengthen border security while raising the cap on visas for high skilled workers and establishing a new visa program for low skilled workers on America’s farms and elsewhere.

Proponents say the change is necessary to permanently and fairly resolve the status of undocumented residents. Critics insist the proposed change amounts to amnesty, rewarding those who chose to break the country’s immigration laws.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is leading the charge against the “Gang of Eight” proposal and is a tough critic. He has tried to derail the bill at nearly every turn, arguing that adding millions of newly legalized workers to the mix over the next few years will only hurt the most vulnerable segments of the American work force. He also has raised security and other concerns.

“This will be a hammer blow to the wages and employment opportunities of American workers—both immigrant and native born,” Sessions said in a statement after the vote.

“This bill is bad for workers, bad for taxpayers and—as immigration officers have pleaded for us to hear—a threat to public safety and the rule of law,” he said.

In a defeat for backers of expanded gay rights, the committee did not approve a pair of Leahy-sponsored amendments bolstering federal support for bi-national same-sex relationships.

Specifically, Leahy had proposed recognizing same-sex marriages in which one spouse is an American, and allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor foreign-born same-sex partners for green cards given proof of a committed relationship.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the most prominent Republican in the “Gang of Eight,” was among those who called Leahy’s amendments a poison pill virtually certain to destroy GOP support for the measure.

Leahy’s amendments could be considered again when the bill is taken up by the full Senate. Doing so, however, would be little more than a symbolic gesture, as the proposals have virtually no chance of winning the 60 votes almost certainly needed to clear the 100-member chamber.

Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) noted the possibility that an upcoming ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act could render the whole issue moot.

“The DOMA ruling could change this whole debate,” Durbin said. “They could eliminate DOMA and impose obligations on our federal government (relating to) same gender marriage, and that would dramatically change what we’re trying to achieve.”

The House is working on its own version of immigration reform.

Source: CNN.com

–Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your questions and comments at kristine@tungollaw.com.

Bipartisan Senators Introduce Immigration Reform Bill

Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON, DC — The senators known as the “gang of eight” released the full text early Wednesday, April 17, 2013, of their immigration reform legislation, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” an 844-page document that addresses border security, undocumented immigrants and the legal immigration system.

The “gang of eight” includes four Democrats and four Republicans — Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

The bill is likely to be contentious. The debate will begin in earnest on Friday, when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing. Senators will get a few days to go over the bill ahead of that hearing and another to be held on Monday. Members of the gang of eight have said they are open to amendments, so long as they are not meant to kill the legislation.

Shift to Merit-Based Visas

The wide-ranging bill would allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens after a lengthy process and after border security improvements, along with strengthened enforcement and changes to the way visas are doled out. It would require employers to check job applicants through the government’s online E-Verify system to ensure they are authorized to work in the U.S. And it would shift the country toward merit-based visas based on work, away from family-based visas.

The system basically creates a way for workers who are here on certain temporary visas — both lower- and higher-skilled — to become permanent residents and, eventually, citizens. The visa will use a point system to determine who should be awarded permanent residence. You would get points for things like work history, education, family ties and English-language ability.

For the first five years after the immigration bill is passed, the merit-based visas will be used to clear existing immigration backlogs. After that, the program will offer tentatively 120,000 visas per year to new immigrants. Half of those visas will be geared toward higher-skilled workers and half toward lower-skilled workers.

Border Security

The gang of eight bill sets a goal for 90 percent effectiveness along the U.S.-Mexico border, meaning a majority of would-be illegal border-crossers are stopped. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be required to propose a plan for border security within three months, when undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for registered provisional immigrant status.

Unlawful Immigrants and Path to Citizenship

Immigrants would be unable to receive lawful permanent residence for 10 years after obtaining provisional status. During that time, further benchmarks would need to be met, such as implementing the border security plan and mandating employment verification. A Southern Border Security Commission — made of governors and experts — would be formed to improve border security if those plans were not completed within five years. Meanwhile, undocumented young people and agricultural workers would be given a quicker pathway to legal status.

Although the pathway to citizenship would be arduous, supporters of reform said its inclusion is a positive step. President Barack Obama, who has said such a pathway is necessary to reform, issued a statement on Tuesday that generally supported the bill without getting into specifics.

“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” President Obama said. “But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. … I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.”

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a coalition of pro-immigrant groups, called the bill a “starting point” and said it will work with Congress to improve it. Their main concerns are that a path to citizenship could be too long and exclusive, leaving out many undocumented immigrants, while holding the process “hostage to” border security triggers.

“Our families’ well-being should not be conditioned on arbitrary border measures or any political or bureaucratic process which holds their loved ones hostage to regulations over which they have no control,” Kica Matos, a spokesperson for the group, said in the statement.

Republican senators were cautious earlier Tuesday about commenting on the bill, but Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters it seemed to be a good start.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who had worked with the gang of eight, but dropped out over disagreements on the path to citizenship, sounded a note of caution.

“It is unfortunate that we have so little time to digest and evaluate such an expansive piece of legislation before we hold our initial committee hearing,” Lee said in a statement. “As senators, it is our duty to read the bill and fully understand the impact it will have on our immigration system before casting votes.”

Sources: Senate Immigration Bill to Heighten Border Security, Grant Legal Status, Huffington Post

Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013

How Immigration Reform Revamps Employment Visas, ABC News

–Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your questions and comments at kristine@tungollaw.com.

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