This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Nov. 14


This week in immigration reform: news reports speculate that President Obama could take action on immigration as soon as next week; NCLR’s latest ‘Hanging in the Balance’ installment; House Democrats call on the President to act; Catholic Bishops voice support for President Obama’s promise to provide relief; NCLR publishes a new administrative relief resource. NCLR kept the community informed in a number of news pieces this week, with staff quoted in USA Today, New York Times, La Opinión,,CNN, Hearst newspapers, and NBC Nightly News.

Reports say President Obama will take executive action in the coming weeks and could provide relief to 5 million: The administration continues to say that the president’s plans have not been finalized and that an announcement will come before the end of the year.  An article published Thursday in the New York Times said the president plans to provide deportation relief to 5 million undocumented immigrants. This could include providing relief for parents of U.S. citizens, which would affect over 3 million individuals who have been living in the U.S. for at least five years. “Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history,” according to the article.

At a press briefing, the White House said the president was “nearing a final decision” and would act before the end of the year. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted, “…in some ways, the timing of the President’s decision is not nearly as significant as the decision that is facing House Republican leaders about whether they want to continue to block bipartisan legislation that has already passed the Senate and that would do so much more even to address the challenges of our broken immigration system in a way that would be good for the economy, that would strengthen our border security, and that would reduce the deficit.” NCLR urges the president to take bold action to provide immediate relief to millions of workers and families who are contributing to our country.

‘Hanging In the Balance’ shows how the absence of immigration reform harms veterans and their families: This week’s installment of the ‘Hanging in the Balance’ series highlights the story of a veteran directly affected by the failure of House Republicans to pass immigration reform. The blog post describes a recent gathering of veterans, DREAMers and elected officials to press President Obama to utilize his authority and provide relief to thousands of aspiring Americans. Representatives Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and José Serrano (D-N.Y.) spoke of the urgency of executive action to keep families together, especially those of service members. An NBC article quoted Congressman Grijalva as saying, “Veterans are part of the tragedy we see because we have no immigration reform … The solution is for the president, whom I support, to go big.” Elected officials also rejected Speaker Boehner’s threat that executive action will eliminate the possibility of Congressional action on the issue, saying that if House Republicans put a comprehensive immigration reform bill up for a vote it would pass.

At the same event, Elizabeth Perez, a Marine Corps veteran, shared her experience with our country’s broken immigration system. Perez’s husband was deported to Mexico after being stopped for a traffic violation, tearing her family apart. She said her story is not unique and executive action is needed to keep families like hers together. She said, “We fought for the freedom of our country, but our families can’t enjoy that freedom.”

House Democrats call on the president to act: House Democratic Leader Pelosi, along with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Reps. Gutierrez, Lofgren, and other House Democrats held a press conference regarding a letter signed by 116 Representatives urging President Obama to act boldly on immigration reform.  “We hope that your actions will prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and DACA beneficiaries and offer protection to others who have long worked in the United States and have established strong ties with our communities. We further hope that they will make our immigration enforcement efforts more sensible and humane,” they write in hopes that the president’s action is inclusive.

Additionally, this week the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) issued a memo outlining their desire for broad executive action. An article in Politico covers the highlights of the memo, including a call to provide relief to 7 million people, including parents or spouses of those already authorized to be in the country. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chairs of the CPC, stated, “the program should take into consideration those aspiring citizens who have contributed to their communities and have established a strong work history, regardless of familial ties.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) speak out in support of comprehensive immigration reform and executive action: Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the migration committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, voiced support for executive action, saying “it would be derelict not to support administrative actions … which would provide immigrants and their families legal protection.” He noted, “We are not guided by the latest headlines but by the human tragedies that we see every day in our parishes and programs, where families are torn apart by enforcement actions especially.” An article in the Washington Post mentioned the USCCB’s desire to increase advocacy efforts on comprehensive immigration reform. Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the bishops conference, said he intends on meeting with the president and leaders of both parties to drive immigration reform to the top of the Congressional and Administrative agendas.

Rersources — NCLR publishes brief on administrative relief: This week NCLR published a fact sheet titled “President Obama has the Authority to Act Boldly.” It addresses the legal and political precedent for executive action. It outlines what legal and constitutional experts have said regarding the authority of the president to use his power for executive action on immigration. It also notes that House Republicans had the opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but refused to do so, thus the president should take action. Finally, the publication shows how President Obama’s heightened enforcement efforts, in response to Republican claims that current immigration laws aren’t being enforced enough, have harmed families and communities. President Obama has enforced the laws, but they are broken and House Republicans refuse to fix them.