A Detailed Account of the Dismantling of DACA

The recent deposition of Gene Hamilton offers a rare glimpse of an Administration official candidly discussing the development of a major policy area.
Photograph by Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty

Jonathan Blitzer recently reported in The New Yorker  insights into the operations within the Trump administration that culminated with the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

A handful of officials in the White House, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have spent the past year attempting to realize President Trump’s vision of an America that is less welcoming of foreigners. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff; Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General; and Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, have led this effort. A crucial role has also been played by a lesser-known figure: Gene Hamilton, a lawyer in his mid-thirties who works as a top aide to Sessions at the Justice Department. Federal officials, congressional staffers, advocacy groups, and think-tank researchers know that Hamilton has helped shape Trump’s various travel bans, changes to refugee policies, and the implementation of an aggressive new approach to immigration enforcement. And yet, as one immigration lawyer told me of Hamilton, “he’s had such a light footprint.” Hamilton has rarely spoken to the press, and his relatively short career means that few can claim to know the exact nature of his beliefs or goals.

Last week, I obtained a two-hundred-and-thirty-five-page transcript of a deposition that Hamilton was compelled to give, in late October, as part of a federal lawsuit over the Administration’s handling of DACA, the Obama-era program that protected from deportation some eight hundred thousand undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children. The lawsuit was brought by Make the Road New York, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. The groups’ argument is that, while the government may have been within its power to cancel DACA, the manner in which it did so—suddenly, and without warning—violated the rights of the people who relied on DACA for work permits, student loans, and other benefits. During the proceeding, Hamilton was pushed to describe the part he’d played in various Administration decisions. Over four hours, he detailed his interactions with senior officials such as Kelly and Miller, shared his personal views on immigration policy, and acknowledged, notably, that he’d been the author of the September 5th D.H.S. memo that formally terminated DACA. And, while Hamilton was careful not to answer more than he had to, the transcript offers a rare glimpse of an Administration official candidly discussing the development of a major area of policy.

More details on this story, click here.

Black and undocumented: ‘I didn’t know anybody else like me’

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Photo courtesy of Dorian Merina/KPCC Rhea Lambey, 39, is now a community college student who hopes to pursue counseling. She secured her legal status in 2014 after spending nearly three decades undocumented. She was brought to the US as a child in the 1980s from her native Belize.

As the debate on immigration heats up, some are hoping to inject a new perspective into the conversation: that of those who are both black and undocumented. The Southern California Public Radio reports on undocumented Black immigrants.  Latinos make up the majority of the undocumented population.  However, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 600,000 people are also from Caribbean and African countries. And the overall black immigrant community is growing rapidly. As the debate on immigration heats up, some are hoping to inject a new perspective into the conversation: that of those who are both black and undocumented.

Most estimates do not make a distinction of who is a Latino of African descent, also known as Afro-Latinos. Many of those who are undocumented and Black say their experience adds an important dimension to the discussion – especially at a time when the country is grappling with a renewed discussion about race.

Fatal Neglect: Report on Deaths in Immigration Detention

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The American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigrant Justice Center, and Detention Watch Network have issued a report, “Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention.

The report emphasizes that “there have been 56 deaths in ICE custody during the Obama administration, including six suicides and at least one death after an attempted suicide.”  This particular report “focuses on the eight deaths where ODO [ICE’s Office of Detention Oversight] identified noncompliance with ICE medical standards as contributing causes; the ODO identified four of these deaths as preventable.”  The report goes on to explain that “this focus should not excuse several other cases in which ODO identified similar violations of ICE medical standards without drawing causal links between these violations and the deaths,” and asserts that the “process is broken; even in the eight cases where ODO death reviews concluded that violations of ICE medical standards contributed to people’s deaths, ICE’s deficient inspections system essentially swept those findings under the rug.”

The key recommendations are as follows:

  • Immediately reduce immigration detention,
  • Improve the delivery of medical care in detention,
  • Ensure inspections provide meaningful oversight, and
  • Increase transparency of inspections, deaths, and serious medical incidents in detention.

‘Immigrants Are Not Criminals’: Respectability, Immigration Reform, and Hyperincarceration by Rebecca A. Sharpless

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‘Immigrants Are Not Criminals’: Respectability, Immigration Reform, and Hyperincarceration by Rebecca A. Sharpless University of Miami – School of Law April 3, 2015 53 Houston Law Review 691 (2016)

Abstract: Mainstream pro-immigrant law reformers advocate for better treatment of immigrants by invoking a contrast with people convicted of a crime. This Article details the harms and limitations of a conceptual framework for immigration reform that draws its narrative force from a contrast with people — citizens and noncitizens — who have been convicted of a criminal offense and proposes an alternate approach that better aligns with racial and class critiques of the U.S. criminal justice system. Noncitizens with a criminal record are overwhelmingly low-income people of color. While some have been in the United States for a short period of time, many have resided in the United States for much longer. Many are lawful permanent residents with strong family ties, including U.S. citizen children. Convicted noncitizens who have served significant time in our penal system have experienced the well-documented harms associated with both criminal and civil incarceration. Despite the significant size of this population and its location at the convergence of two heavily criticized law enforcement regimes, these individuals rarely serve as an example for what is wrong with our immigration system. To the contrary, convicted noncitizens are typically regarded as foils for more deserving immigrants. Immigration reformers are not the first to employ a deserving/undeserving narrative as a means of obtaining political gains for some at the expense of others. Across all areas of law reform, policy makers and advocates have sought to generate empathy for groups of people by invoking a contrast with others. In drawing a contrast between a favored group and others who are degenerate, deviant, or less deserving, the “politics of respectability” depends on a contrast with an “out” or deviant group. Racial justice proponents, much more than immigration reformers, have made significant headway in moving beyond respectability politics, especially when critiquing hyperincarceration. This Article describes a different conceptualization of immigrants and crime as well as examples of how certain immigration reform groups have sought to implement aspects of this alternate frame.

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.

CAP’s Top 10 Ways the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill Will Fix Our Broken System

www.motherjones.com

Washington, DC–For the past several months, four Senate Democrats—Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Bob Menendez (NJ), and Michael Bennet (CO)—have worked with four Senate Republicans—John McCain (AZ), Lindsay Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL), and Jeff Flake (AZ)—to develop a proposal to repair our nation’s failing immigration system. The product of the bipartisan “Gang of 8” negotiations is a bill titled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” filed in the Senate early Wednesday morning.

While it is far from perfect, this historic bipartisan compromise will go far in establishing an immigration policy worthy of our heritage and fit for the 21st century. Washington-based think-tank, Center for American Progress, has compiled the top 10 ways that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill fixes our nation’s badly broken immigration system.

1. It restores core American values. The bill would create an immigration system that honors our history as a nation of immigrants and that renews the promise that immigrants who work hard and play by the rules can achieve their dreams in America. It would halt the more than 400,000 annual deportations that tear apart families and devastate communities. It also protects undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011, have been continuously present since then, and have not committed any serious crimes, and it puts them on the path to achieving full citizenship.

2. It raises the wage floor for all workers. The bill allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011, to apply for status as a registered provisional immigrant, or RPI. This allows undocumented new Americans to work lawfully in the United States while they wait to be able to apply for lawful permanent residence and eventually U.S. citizenship, and it prevents unscrupulous employers from underpaying them, which drives down the wages and working conditions of all workers. The bill also contains important wage and employee protections for future immigrant workers, keeping them safe from exploitation.

3. It preserves family unity. The bill removes the limitations on the number of visas that legal permanent residents can request for their spouses and minor children, ensuring that families are not separated for years while awaiting legal status. It creates a process to aggressively clear the estimated 4.4 million-person backlogs in the family- and employment-based visa systems within the next 10 years. And it creates a new nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals to enter and work in the United States while waiting for a family visa to become available. The bill recognizes that united families have a better shot at achieving the American Dream and works to ensure families can set down roots together.

4. It promotes full American incorporation. The bill allows individuals who have been in the United States with legal status and work authorization for more than 10 years, including legalized immigrants with RPI status, to apply for a green card. This provision includes immigrants who have held temporary protected status or deferred enforcement departure—two designations for immigrants who were already living in the United States when extraordinary conditions in their country of origin prohibited them from returning home—for 10 years or longer, allowing them for the first time to achieve permanent residence and to become full and equal members of society. Further, the bill allows these long-term residents to apply for citizenship three years after securing their green cards.

5. It protects DREAMers and farmworkers. The senators’ proposal acknowledges the unique circumstances confronting individuals who were brought to the United States as children and provides them with an accelerated five-year path to earn permanent residence and citizenship, unlike the 10-year path for most unauthorized immigrants. Likewise, it recognizes the high percentage of farmworkers who are undocumented and their importance to the industry. To stabilize the agricultural industry, the bill authorizes farmworkers who continue working in agriculture to apply for permanent residence five years after the bill’s enactment.

6. It levels the playing field for all employers. The Senate’s immigration proposal mandates the use of E-Verify, the government’s electronic employment-verification system, for all employers to ensure that the workers they hire are authorized to work in the United States. This mandatory program will protect the integrity of the employment system by ensuring that employers and workers are held accountable and, paired with the legalization provisions, will make sure that no undue burdens are placed on those currently without legal status. The mandate includes a five-year phase-in period to allow small businesses more time to comply with the requirements.

7. It boosts economic growth. The bipartisan legislation enables eligible undocumented immigrants to realize their full earnings potential by providing them with a pathway to legal status and the ability to work legally, including the ability to pursue higher-paying legal jobs that match their skills. Legal status also provides an incentive for workers to further their education and training. On average, undocumented immigrants will increase their earnings by 15 percent over five years under this bill, leading to a cumulative $832 billion in economic growth and $109 billion in increased tax revenues over the next 10 years. It will also create an estimated 121,000 jobs each year, benefits that accrue to all Americans.

8. It modernizes our immigration system. The Senate’s immigration bill creates a new category of merit-based green cards for individuals who meet certain criteria—for example, education level, language skills, employment, and family connections—that are determined to be in the national interest. It expands the number of green cards for highly skilled, advanced-degree professionals, creates a new lesser-skilled visa category, and establishes a bureau tasked with analyzing economic, labor, and demographic data to help set annual limits on each type of visa.

9. It enhances national security. Differentiating between who is in our country to do us harm and who is here simply to make a better life for themselves and their families makes our nation more secure in the long run. The bill requires undocumented immigrants who arrived before December 31, 2011, to register with the Department of Homeland Security and undergo criminal and national security background checks. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or of three or more separate misdemeanors would be ineligible to remain in the United States. Likewise, individuals who are inadmissible because of other criminal, national security, public health, or morality grounds would have to leave the country.

10. It strengthens border security. The bill sets a goal of apprehending or deterring 90 percent of attempted unlawful entries in each of the “high risk” southwestern border sectors; where more than 30,000 people were apprehended in the past fiscal year. If this effectiveness goal is not met within five years, additional funding will be authorized and a commission will be formed to issue recommendations on additional targeted measures. This smart investment in border security will go a long way in ensuring that the constantly evolving border is protected.

Notably, the bill leaves out certain groups such as LGBT partners of immigrants and eliminates programs such as the diversity visa lottery, which granted 50,000 visas per year, drawn randomly from applicants from countries with historically low numbers of immigrants. Even so, the Senate immigration bill is a thoughtful and pragmatic solution that will give approximately11.1 million people a chance to become full and equal members of society, will boost our economy, and will create a 21st century legal-immigration system that reflects our values and our economic needs. Congress should continue the Gang of 8’s bipartisan spirit and pass this bill as quickly as possible.

Source: Top 10 Ways the Senate’s Immigration Reform Bill Will Fix Our Broken System, Center for American Progress, by Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress; Ann Garcia, Policy Analyst at the Center; and Philip E. Wolgin, Senior Policy Analyst for the Immigration Policy Team at the Center.

–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.

Congress to Pass DREAM Act Before Nov. Elections?

As November elections neared in 2010, the Democratic supporters of the immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act kicked into high gear, pushing it toward an eventual vote in the House and Senate that December. The bill proposed conditional legal status for qualifying young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16, provided they go to college or join the military.

DREAM Act didn’t go anywhere in 2010, but as November nears and both major parties fight for Latino votes, expect the Democratic-backed bill to figure prominently again, along with a few stripped-down mutations as Republican lawmakers formulate alternative proposals.

Read Leslie Berestein Rojas’ analysis of the tantalizing possibilities. Is there a chance (finally) for the DREAMERs? It has been a long trek.

 

Credit: Video Production by Kristian Tungol at Tungol Designs.

What’s it like to Live in a Family with Mixed Immigration Status?

Are you in a family that has mixed immigration status? It’s a common situation in Southern California, but seldom mentioned outside the family. What’s it like to be part of a family where some are U.S. citizens or have legal status and others could be arrested or deported? What insecurities arise at work and school? Are there things your family can’t do that others take for granted? How does mixed immigration status change the lines of authority within a family? How do you protect one another?

Help KPCC (Southern California Public Radio, click here) understand how a mix of immigration statuses works within the same family. Responses are confidential, and seen only by journalists. Nothing published without your permission.

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