Week Ending February 13
This week in immigration: Ready America conference takes place in Virginia; House Judiciary Committee brings back harmful proposals; House Democrats introduce a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill; and Republicans should be wary of the impact of their current DHS funding strategy.
Ready America conference helps prepare groups for administrative relief: This week approximately 400 people from across the country gathered for the Ready America conference in Northern Virginia. The conference was an opportunity for organizations from different sectors to be inspired, learn, and coordinate on the implementation of administrative relief with workshops covering policy, community outreach, collaborations, and service delivery models. NCLR Senior Cabinet Advisor, Charles Kamasaki, organized a workshop highlighting research efforts related to administrative relief which allowed researchers to connect with practitioners and for practitioners to share what research would be helpful. 35 NCLR Affiliates were represented by 51 participants at the conference and Lindsay Daniels, Manager of NCLR’s Wealth Building Initiative, organized a workshop on the small dollar lending programs that could help individuals cover application fees. The panel featured NCLR Affiliates doing this work, such as Mission Asset Fund from San Francisco and The Resurrection Project from Chicago. Check out the conference hashtags on Twitter to find out more: #RA15 and #immigrationaction. Read more in our blog.
Also this week, a newly released poll shows a majority of Americans support the president’s executive action on immigration, with 52 percent saying he should have taken action. Additionally, 76 percent of respondents said they supported the provisions of the executive action to allow those undocumented immigrants with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident child to stay in the U.S. for three years.
RESOURCE: To help people prepare for administrative relief, USCIS published frequently asked questions on expanded DACA and revised instructions for Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The forms for expanded DACA will begin to be accepted on February 18.
House Judiciary Committee convenes hearing on harmful bills that failed last Congress: This week the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on three bills that provide a piecemeal response to the complex broken immigration system. One bill, the “SAFE Act,” is particularly harmful to communities and a NCLR blog notes:
In contrast to its name, the “SAFE Act” will make living in America more dangerous for millions of families. This legislation gives state and local authorities the power to create and implement their own immigration laws, throwing an already chaotic immigration system into further disorder. It emphasizes an enforcement-only approach that focuses on locating, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants. It encourages racial profiling, which will inevitably lead to wrongful detention because anyone who “looks illegal” can be stopped, arrested, and detained. And it goes so far as to criminalize undocumented status, as well as the mere act of providing assistance to undocumented immigrants. Under this law, a church providing shelter to undocumented immigrants could actually face criminal prosecution.
NCLR continues to oppose the “SAFE Act” and similar bills that focus on enforcement and criminalization rather than a comprehensive solution.
Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Lowey (D-N.Y.) introduce a clean DHS funding bill: This week the Ranking Members of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and of the full Appropriations Committee introduced a DHS funding bill without the harmful amendments ending President Obama’s administrative relief for millions of families. In a press release, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard notes this “clean Homeland Security funding bill will keep our nation safe. Every Democrat has co-sponsored this bill, so we have the votes to pass it with only 30 Republican votes. The Republican leadership should correct their dangerous strategy and stop threatening our national security. I call on my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in living up to our responsibility as Members of Congress, and put the safety of the American people first by immediately passing our bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for 2015.” NCLR applauds the introduction of a clean bill to fund DHS.
The GOP should be wary of the impact their DHS funding strategy could have on Latino voters: As Senate Republicans attempted to move forward with the House-passed DHS funding bill, some are questioning how such an approach is perceived by the Latino community. A Hill article notes that the majority of Latino voters support President Obama’s executive action to temporarily allow qualified undocumented parents to stay in the U.S. While the GOP pushes an agenda to repeal this administrative relief, they have failed to introduce a solution to the problem administrative relief seeks to alleviate. The article cites Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) as saying, “To attempt to use a spending bill in order to try to poke a finger in the president’s eye is not a good move, in my view. I believe that rather than poke the president in the eye we ought to put legislation on his desk, and we ought to use this time — we’ve already used up two weeks trying to attach measures to a funding bill when we could have used this time to actually move actual immigration legislation.”
Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) stated he wants to see a DHS spending bill without the anti-immigrant provisions, “This battle should be ended. When we were given the honor of the majority, we have to govern wisely. Shutdowns are not wise policy for key national security-related departments.”
Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has stated that the Senate will have a fourth vote to attempt to pass the House-passed version of the DHS spending bill which has failed in the three previous votes and which President Obama has stated he will veto.