Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Debunking the "Permanent Subclass" Argument

The New York Times reported yesterday that a potential House GOP immigration reform solution may result in 6.5 million undocumented people obtaining lawful status. The article references a study issued by the National Foundation for American Policy, which is based on information articulated by Representative Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The GOP's solution looks surprisingly familiar to something readers of this blog have already seen.

From public information, the GOP appears willing to offer a compromise that brings people out of the shadows, and once out provide them employment and travel authorization. The solution stops short of creating a special path to a Green Card and citizenship. This doesn't mean the GOP intends to prohibit people from ever applying for a Green Card and ultimately citizenship. It simply means that those receiving status will have to apply just like everyone else. Only under the GOP plan the undocumented can apply from inside the United States without the threat of deportation hanging over their head. 

For example, if you are married to a United States citizen or have a child that is over 21 the moment you receive the new hypothetical documented status you will become eligible for a Green Card. You could also be sponsored by an employer if they want to hire you for a job where there is a shortage of willing United States citizens so long as a visa number is available. These are just a couple examples of many, and according to the estimate there will be many. Mind you, not everyone will qualify for the new documented status. You can rest assured that individuals with serious criminal convictions will be excluded for example, but these people weren't going to qualify under the Senate version of reform either so take that out of the equation. 

Detractors are already issuing talking points calling this a "half loaf" solution that will create a permanent underclass. This is a non sequitur being advanced to cast blame on the GOP merely because their solution does not create a new special path to citizenship to the undocumented. Do not be fooled by it. If the GOP compromise becomes law everyone eligible for legalization would also be eligible to apply for a Green Card if they have a sponsor available. And remember, Green Card holders can't vote, and there is nothing in the law that requires a Green Card holder to ever apply for citizenship at some point after they receive their status so that they can vote. In fact, many chose not to. Is there anyone out there that thinks that a Green Card holder who declines the opportunity to apply for citizenship is part of a permanent subclass of society? I think not.

As for the issue of citizenship itself, this is all about a fight for new voters, which is also a non-issue. I say this because as of January 2012 there were 13.3 million Green Card holders in the United States, 5.4 million of which from MexicoTwo-thirds of all Green Card holders from Mexico never apply for citizenship. Why is this important? Because it is believed that more than half of the 11.1 million undocumented people in the U.S. are from Mexico, who apply for citizenship at rates significantly lower than nationals from other countries. The point being, if you just give a Green Card to every single undocumented person in this country statistically only a relatively small percentage will ever apply for citizenship, and vote in an election. 

So here is the bottom line: a legalization program that stops deportation, provides employment authorization and the ability to travel, while not preventing an individual from applying for a Green Card and ultimately citizenship is a deal worth taking. Those most impacted by this debate, the ones getting deported in record numbers, are asking for an opportunity to lead normal lives and to be able to apply for a Green Card just like everyone else.

Maybe it is time that we listen to them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rep. Gutierrez: Obama Has 'Responsibility' to Reduce Deportations

In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D - Ill.) has stated that President Obama has a “responsibility” to reduce the number of deportations.

He stated that “Democrats think all they need to do is to simply blame Republicans. You know what? We control the White House and we control the deportation apparatus, we have a responsibility to act.” Congressman Gutierrez also stated that the President can do more to put an end to the destruction of thousand of families in this country.

Thank you Congressman Gutierrez for your continued fight on behalf of United States citizens that are in danger of losing their relatives to a draconian and outdated immigration law.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Immigration Reform Solution that Makes Sense

It has just been reported that House Speaker John Boehner is drafting GOP principles on immigration reform legislation, and that he will soon release them in an effort to push his members to vote for it. Nearly everyone sees this as a positive sign that reform may actually happen in 2014.

So the question becomes, what will immigration reform look like in the hands of the GOP? The major sticking point has been whether reform should include a separate and distinct pathway to citizenship for individuals that are undocumented. The people most effected by this issue see through the politics. Some now acknowledge that the GOP isn't solely to blame realizing many Democrats are using a "pathway to citizenship" as a wedge issue to win elections. In sum, politicians playing politics rather than solving problems.

A recent poll reveals that Hispanics and Asian Americans see deportation relief as more important than a pathway to citizenship. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., agrees stating that: "...citizenship is important, but I don't think it is a big deal breaker either," "Right now we have to stop the deportations that are breaking up families. And if we do not get citizenship this year, we will be back next year and the year after that." Given these revelations, it is clear that there is room for compromise. 

Moreover, from what I have seen a reboot on immigration reform isn't necessarily a bad thing as the pathway to citizenship in the Senate Bill is illusory at best. It has been estimated that under the Senate Bill many/most of the undocumented population will never achieve "Green Card" status let alone full citizenship. Most importantly, a large percentage would face deportation again should they fail to meet the strict requirements of registered provisional immigrant status.

As I have previously written, there is a much more practical way to achieve both an end to deportations for the deserving, as well as provide a pathway to citizenship for immediate relatives of United States citizens and other immigrants that have visas available to them through family members and offers of employment. A way that won't require undocumented immigrants to endure the Bataan Death March of immigration reform as set forth in S.744.

The solution would immediately provide legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. A solution that creates a temporary renewable status that brings people out of the shadows, protects them from deportation, and also provides employment and travel authorization so that people can lead normal lives. The new status could be renewed indefinitely in the absence of disqualifying criminal grounds of removal, and would require a one-time payment of a penalty fee, and a substantially lower filing fee for renewals, which would be required every ten years. 

Although there would be no independent pathway to citizenship baked in, you would not be precluded from obtaining a Green Card and ultimately citizenship through the normal channels. This solution would allow undocumented immediate relatives of United States citizens to immediately apply for a Green Card the moment they receive their status. Spouses of United States citizens would be eligible to apply for citizenship three years after they get their Green Card. 

It is a real path to citizenship. 

For this solution to work properly we need more immigrant visa numbers as well as a robust skilled and guest worker program to afford future immigrants an opportunity to come to this country legally. I have already articulated this solution to several GOP members of Congress.

Let's just hope they were listening.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When a "Publicity Stunt" Becomes "Astounding"

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance's infiltration of the El Paso detention center has resulted in both the discovery, and the Obama administration's confession that ICE locked up 13 pregnant women in immigration detention in Texas between August and November of 2013.  

Because of a lack of transparency there is no way of knowing how many pregnant women are currently being held in ICE custody nationwide despite the administration's policy against it.

There is another interesting and ironic twist to this story.  Remember David Leopold?  He is the guy that spent the better part of last summer calling the DREAM 9 protest a misguided publicity stunt.  This is the movement that is ultimately responsible for uncovering the very abuses now being reported.  Well, he has been quoted in another article about this most recent incident calling it "astounding" that so many pregnant women have been detained.

What is actually "astounding" is that Leopold is quoted in the article at all given his previous statements of record.  Recall last summer when Leopold notoriously, and incorrectly, questioned whether DREAMers were held in solitary confinement. Go to the 12:18 mark:

Apparently, when an immigration reform protest results in uncovering the detention of 13 pregnant women during a four month period in 2013 it loses its "publicity stunt" status.  

And I'm not the only one that sees the irony in it:

Others haven't been as amused by Leopold's antics:

I guess some people will say anything to secure their invitation to the White House Holiday Reception.