This Week in Immigration Reform – Week Ending June 21


Week Ending June 21

This week in immigration reform: the Senate is ready to move to a final vote on S. 744 after it agrees on a significant border security amendment, the product of a hard-fought compromise that comes at the cost of excessive border security but maintains a road to citizenship; meanwhile, a select group of House members choose to take a markedly different approach by advancing ill-advised legislation that would give states the authority to create a chaotic patchwork of Arizona-copycat immigration laws; stay tuned to NCLR’s blog and follow NLCR on Twitter for the latest updates on the Senate and House processes; also this week, the Congressional Budget Office publishes its cost estimate for the Senate bill and announces that S. 744 will reduce the deficit; and NCLR staff and Affiliates organize community leaders to call Senate offices urging senators to stand by S. 744 and maintain a real and accessible path to citizenship, while also helping new citizens register to vote, meeting with members of Congress, and rallying in support of reform.  NCLR kept the community informed in a busy week for immigration, with staff quoted in stories by The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, as well as pieces by the Associated Press and MSNBC.

CBO study confirms: immigration reform is good for the economy.  The Congressional Budget Office – the nonpartisan Congressional office charged with predicting how legislation will affect the economy – released its long-awaited report on the Senate’s immigration bill S. 744 on June 19, finding that the potential economic benefits of passing the bill vastly outweigh the bill’s estimated costs.  The CBO determined that passing S. 744 would reduce the federal deficit by almost $900 billion within 20 years and would grow the overall economy by 5.4 percent during the same period, and also confirmed that comprehensive immigration reform that includes a real road to citizenship will reduce deficits, boost real GDP, increase employment and productivity, and increase revenues to Social Security, among other benefits immigration reform will bring to the country.Despite this promising news, some senators continue pushing amendments that would prevent millions of tax-paying individuals from accessing the tax benefits they’ve earned and the health services they need to survive and prosper.  As NCLR detailed in a recently-released infographic, S. 744 already includes steep financial penalties for those on the road to citizenship, and piling on more punitive amendments will derail the entire immigration reform effort since millions will be blocked from stably moving forward on the road to citizenship.

  • Senate agrees to excessive border security amendment to S. 744, is now set to vote on final passage.  The Senate reached a hard-fought compromise on Friday June 21 by agreeing to a border security amendment to S. 744. The amendment, while containing unnecessarily excessive provisions for border security that will increase costs and threaten civil rights in border communities, leaves the road to legalization and citizenship intact, and clears the way to a final vote on the bill’s passage as early as the 27th of June.

    Call your senators today and urge them to vote yes on votes that will be critical to passing immigration reform that includes a real and accessible road to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

    The Senate began voting on amendments to S. 744 on Tuesday June 20, accepting, rejecting, and tabling (i.e. postponing) a number of amendments (see list below) but so far keeping the core of the bill – the road to legalization and citizenship – intact and accessible.

    So far, the Senate has considered the following amendments:

  • Grassley #1195 (prohibit the granting of registered provisional immigrant status until the Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months) Tabled: 57-43
  • Thune #1197 (permanent resident status after border completion) (60-vote threshold); Not Agreed to: 39-54
  • Landrieu #1222 (citizenship for internationally adopted children); Agreed to by voice vote
  • Vitter #1228 (US-VISIT system)(60-vote threshold); Not Agreed to: 36-58
  • Tester #1198 (modify Border Oversight Task Force to include tribal government officials) (60-vote threshold); Agreed to: 94-0
  • Paul #1200, as modified (border security enhancements); Tabled: 61-37
  • Manchin #1268 (border security contractor salaries)(60-vote threshold) Agreed to: 72-26
  • Lee #1208 (fast track approval for border security)(60-vote threshold) Not Agreed to: 39-59
  • Pryor #1298 (recruitment of former Armed Forces members for Customs and Border Protection) Agreed to by voice vote
  • Heller #1227 (NV rep on Southern Border Security Commissions)(60-vote threshold) Agreed to: 89-9
  • Merkley #1237, as modified (H2-B nonimmigrants) Agreed to by voice vote
  • Cornyn #1251 (statement of Congressional findings) Tabled: 53-43
  • Vitter 2nd degree amendment #1507 (domestic violence) to the Leahy amendment #1183; fell – drafting errorSignificant votes are expected in the very near future, so stay tuned to NCLR’s blog and Twitter feed for the latest updates.  We will also be sending out action alerts by email and text message to ensure that senators hear from their constituents on potentially critical changes to the bill. Text REFORM to 62571 to join our mobile action network and receive these alerts.
  • As Senate moves forward, House takes two steps backward.  While the Senate considers its bipartisan comprehensive immigration legislation, the House has taken a starkly different path recently.  On June 18th the House Judiciary Committee passed HR 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act.” The SAFE Act would repeat the mistakes of the past by expanding  many of the wasteful and counterproductive interior enforcement policies, such as the disastrous and mostly unconstitutional SB 1070 of Arizona, that have caused fear and insecurity in communities across the country. The Committee also passed the flawed “Agricultural Guestworker Act” which also fails to provide any commonsense solutions to fix our broken immigration system.

NCLR and Affiliates in action.

  • California:  NCLR Affiliate TODEC Legal Center celebrated the Inland Empire’s first citizenship ceremony by assisting many of the more than 1,000 new citizens with their voter registrations.Next week, TODEC will meet with Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA 08) to discuss immigration reform in the House and encourage the Senator to oppose the efforts of some of his colleagues.

    NCLR’s California office directed nine grasstops calls to Senator Feinstein’s (D-CA) office this week, with callers encouraging the senator to protect the road to legalization and citizenship by voting against amendments that would impede or unnecessarily punish those individuals on the road.

TodecPic_ImmReformUpdate_6_25_13TODEC volunteers helping new citizens register to vote at a June 18 naturalization ceremony in the Inland Empire region of California (Luz Gallegos, TODEC)

  • Colorado: NCLR’s Colorado office and NCLR Affiliates participated in a call with staff of Senator Udall (D-CO) this Monday June 18.  NCLR and its Affiliates thanked the senator for his support of immigration reform, and asked Sen. Udall to protect the road to legalization and citizenship.
  •  Florida:  NCLR staff directed grasstops calls into Senator Rubio’s (R-FL) office this week, while the NCLR Action Fund generated 254 calls into Rubio’s DC office on June 19.
  • Illinois:  NCLR delivered nearly 200 letters to Senator Kirk (R-IL) expressing disappointment in the Senator’s vote against moving forward to debate the Senate immigration bill and urging the Senator to support S. 744 moving forward.NCLR Affiliate the Latino Policy Forum participated in the Immigration Acuerdo call- and write-in days on June 18 and 19, providing scripts and talking points to Acuerdo organizations making calls and sending emails to Senator Kirk (R-IL), urging the Senator to work to pass S. 744.
  •  Nebraska:  NCLR Emerging Latino Communities (ELC) grantee Centro Hispano generated phone calls in support of S. 744 to Senators Fischer (R-NE) and Johanns (R-NE) this week.
  • Nevada: NCLR’s Nevada office joined with the Latino Leadership Council to ask Nevada voters to call Senator Heller (R-NV) and urge him to come out in support of the Senate immigration bill S. 744.  Together, the nine organizations generated 1,117 calls to Sen. Heller’s office.The NCLR Action Fund supported the LLC’s efforts by generating 256 calls on June 20 to Sen. Heller’s office.
  • North Carolina: NCLR Affiliate Latin American Coalition (LAC) participated in a march and rally for immigration reform in Charlotte, NC.ELC grantee El Pueblo initiated a phone bank this week, asking North Carolina voters to call Senators Hagan (D-NC) and Burr (R-NC) and urge the Senators to support the Senate’s immigration bill and protect the road to legalization and citizenship.

Latin American Coalition rallies for immigration reform in Charlotte, NC (photo: Latin American Coalition)

  • Ohio: Former ELC grantee Hispanas Organizadas de Lake and Ashtabula (HOLA) along with NCLR Affiliate Nueva Luz met with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) on Friday June 21.At the meeting, HOLA delivered a letter to Sen. Portman calling for the senator to work with his colleagues and pass S. 744.  The letter was signed by 59 Ohio businesses.

HOLA Executive Director Veronica Dahlberg delivers the business sign-on letter in support of S. 744 to Senator Portman (photo: HOLA).

  • Tennessee:  NCLR Affiliate Latino Memphis began running a phonebank this week, calling voters in key states and generating calls into Senate offices.Latino Memphis also met with Rep. Cohen (D-TN 09) this week on immigration reform, and is pleased to report that the Congressman continues to support a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to reform and rejects the enforcement-only path initiated by a group of his House colleagues.
  • Texas: NCLR’s Texas office and Affiliates continued to direct grasstops calls to Senator Cornyn’s (R-TX) office this week, with 52 grasstops callers voicing their disappointment with the Senator’s efforts to impede the road to citizenship.Also in Texas, NCLR ELC grantee the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC) continued participating in a two-week caravan to support immigration reform.
  • Virginia: ELC grantee Tenants and Workers United directed 10 grasstops calls in support of S. 744 to Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Warner (D-VA) this week.
  • Washington, DC:  NCLR staff met with the offices of Senators Rubio (R-FL), Johanns (R-NE), Chiesa (R-NJ), Landrieu (D-LA), Hagan (D-NC), Blunt (R-MO), Heitkamp (D-ND), Pryor (D-AR), Schumer (D-NY), Menendez (D-NJ), Durbin (D-IL), Bennet (D-CO) and Reid (D-NV) this week.

NCLR also delivered nearly 1,500 letters to the House of Representatives this week in strong opposition to the House’s “SAFE Act,” a misguided piece of legislation that would repeat the disastrous mistakes of racial profiling laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56.