Immigration Advocacy Newsletter Mar/Apr 2013

April 8, 2013

Immigration Action Newsletter 

Thousands of people will converge on Washington for a Rally for Citizenship on April 10; Congress passes a Continuing Resolution with robust funding for refugees thanks to YOUR advocacy; Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona joins Richard Trumka President in a call for family unity in immigration reform; and the Gang of 8 is expected to release an immigration bill in the next two weeks!

  1. Advocacy Calendar
  2. Legislative Updates
  3. Episcopal Church Actions
  4. Immigration in the News

 

ADVOCACY CALENDAR
Tuesday night is family night! Act NOW to shape an immigration bill that protects and reunites families!

  • While the Gang of 8 continues to work on their comprehensive immigration reform bill, we must continue to advocate on behalf of the family immigration system. Recent interviews with key Gang of 8 members have indicated that they believe cuts to the family system must be made- we need to let them know that as people of faith and members of our Church family we will not support cuts to family categories.  Now is the time to let our senators know we oppose making it harder for people to reunite with their families! Immigration reform must strengthen - not weaken - the family immigration system by protecting existing categories and expanding to include LGBT families. Make Tuesday night Family Night- spend time with your family and share that experience with decision makers!
  • For flyers to share with your family and community, please visit the IIC website
  • Does your family have an immigration story to share? If so, please submit your story here
  • Post on the IIC Facebook page to share your Tuesday night event, see other posts and share the Family Night flyer with your Facebook friends

Join the April 10 nationwide mobilization in support of citizenship!
On April 10th, 2013 thousands of people will gather on the West Lawn of our nation’s Capital in support of comprehensive and humane immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and protects the unity of families.  Join thousands by supporting the mobilization effort in whatever way you can- rallying, calling your representatives, tweeting or all 3! Information available below in English and Spanish:

  • Information for the rally in DC
  • Not in the greater DC area? Join one of many echo events across the country! Find the event closest to you here

April 12 at 3 pm ET- Join the Detention Watch Network to discuss enforcement, detention and removal policies in the upcoming immigration legislation

  • Call-in information: 1-712-432-3066, code: 886500
    The call is sponsored by the Advocates for Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union, California Immigrant Policy Center, Border Network for Human Rights, Detention Watch Network, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigrant Law Center, National Immigration Project of the NLG, Rights Working Group, Rights Working Group, Southern Border Community Coalition and the new CAMBIO campaign.
     

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduce the Refugee Protection Act in both chambers
On March 21, 2013 Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Representative Lofgren, Ranking member of the House Judiciary Immigration Policy and Border Security Subcommittee, introduced the Refugee Protection Act, a piece of legislation that would improve protections for refugees and asylum seekers.

“The Senate will soon turn to comprehensive immigration reform and the changes to the refugee system contained in this bill are a critical component of fixing our broken immigration system,” said Leahy.  “As we address the many complex issues that face our immigration system, we must ensure that America upholds its longstanding commitment to refugee protection.” (Full statement here

If enacted, either as a standalone bill or as part of CIR, the Refugee Protection Act would:

  • Ensure that asylum seekers with bona fide claims are offered the protection they deserve by eliminating the one-year filing deadline
  • Protecting family unity by allowing children who have been permanently separated from their parents to reunify with other family members who have been acting as their caretakers
  • Directing the federal government to conduct a study of the effectiveness of the domestic refugee resettlement program and identify improvements
  • Require the federal government to improve and expand data collection related to refugee mental health and housing needs
  • Expand federal assistance to elderly or disabled refugees and humanitarian migrants with limited financial means to one year
  • Strengthen the law so that actual terrorists are identified and denied entry into our country and refugees who have been victimized by terrorism are not inadvertently labeled as terrorists themselves
  • Require immigration detention facilities to allows asylum seekers and other detainees access to access to counsel, religious practice, and visits from family

Please ask your Senator or Representative to support these important improvements to our refugee resettlement program:

 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO reach an agreement on guest workers for certain sectors in advance of the Gang of 8 Senate bill
In attempts to avoid the pitfalls that ended our nation’s last attempt at CIR, the 8 Senators working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill asked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO to reach an agreement related to a national guest worker program. Rather than update current guest worker programs, however, the deal is reported to create a new visa program for immigrants in non-seasonal non-agricultural occupations such as hospitality workers, janitorial staff, individuals who work in retail and construction workers, called the W-visa program. Under the W-visa program:

  • Employers would petition for foreign workers after proving that no American workers were available to fill the position
  • Foreign labor recruiters will be pre-certified by the secretary of Labor
  • Visas would be phased in through 4 years of increases: 20K, 35K, 55K, 75K
    • After the first 4 years W visas would be capped at 200,000 per year
      • Once the cap has been reached there would be a “safety valve” for employers who would then pay a premium to hire more foreign workers if needed
  • In its 5th year a statistical formula would be used to determine the correct number of visas based on 4 factors
  • The national unemployment rate, a Job Openings and Labor  Turnover Survey, employer demand, and recommendation of new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research (created as part of the bill)
  • The Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research would be independent from  US Citizenship and Immigration Services with a Senate-confirmable director
  • State and federal employment laws would equally cover visa workers as US workers
  • Workers would not be tied to a single employer
  • For more information the AFL-CIO has produced this one pager
  • W-visa workers would be paid equivalent to citizen workers  or the prevailing wage, whichever is higher
  • A path to permanent residency and then citizenship for W-visa holders would be available after one year in the program

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) extended to Liberians currently residing in the United States
Since the 1989 civil war forced over half of Liberia’s population to either flee the country or become internally displaced, there has been a large population of Liberian nationals living in the United States. In 1991, Attorney General Barr granted these individuals Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and since then many have remained either with TPS or Differed Enforced Departure (DED). As the names imply, these statuses are temporary and need to be renewed until conditions in the country of origin change to permit a humane and safe return of displaced persons. DED for Liberians was set to expire on March 31 of this year but, on March 20, the Obama administration extended DED for Liberians. 

  • For USCIS program and qualification information, click here

 

EPISCOPAL CHURCH ACTIONS
Congress passes a Continuing Resolution with increased funding for refugee resettlement! Your vital advocacy and support made this possible!

 Before heading home for the Easter/ Passover recess, both houses of Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the U.S. government for the remainder of this fiscal year with additional funding to keep the refugee resettlement program providing services to refugees and vulnerable migrant children. Thank you to all of you for the phone calls made, emails sent, and support offered! This vital increase in funding to welcome and provide vulnerable migrants with the services they need to obtain self-sufficiency would not have been possible without your advocacy.

  • Learn more about the Episcopal Migration Ministries incredible work to welcome refugees in communities across the country at their new website
  • In February, the Presiding Bishop joined over 200 national faith, refugee, and humanitarian leaders and organizations asking President Obama and Congress to support this life saving program. Read the letter here

 

Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona joins other national clergy and Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, in a press conference attended by 34 news agencies, urging the Gang of 8 to protect family unity in CIR
Speaking with Bishop Carcaño of the United Methodist Church, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Ambassador Miguel Diaz, former Ambassador to the Vatican, Bishop Smith kicked off a telephonic press conference on April 3 calling for the protection of families in any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

“This is one thing that we do all agree on, and that is support of the family, because we consider that to be an imperative that’s given to us by our religion and by our God,” said Bishop Smith, highlighting that, while the groups on the call may disagree on many issues, they stand united behind the protection of families. Each speaker shared their own, unique perspective on the importance of protecting families and demanded that the Gang of 8 protect families and family categories in their bill. This press conference and other events across the country in support of family based immigration stem, in large part, from a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in which he defined the goal of immigration reform as a goal to “turn our chain migration, family-based immigration system into a merit- based immigration system with a family component.” 

 

IMMIGRATION IN THE NEWS
Note: reports on the Senate and House immigration bills and what the provisions might look like are popping up in the news every day. I have done my best to reflect all relevant articles in this section

Mormon leader: Obama’s immigration plan matches LDS values
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake Tribune, 3/8/13

Mr. President, Tear Down This Wall
By Michael Dean
The New York Times, 3/10/13

Faith, politics and comprehensive immigration reform
By Rep. Kurt Schrader
The Hill, 3/12/13

“Protecting Immigrant Farmworkers”
By Cindy Hahamovitch
The Miami Herald, 3/14/13

Detained immigrants deserve humane treatment
By Edwidge Danticat
The Washington Post, 3/15/13

Arizona Border Quiets After Gains in Security
By Julia Preston
The New York Times, 3/17/13

A Senate Plan Alters Waiting Periods for Immigration
By Michael D. Shear and Ashley Parker
The New York Times, 3/17/13

Gender Bias Seen in Visas for Skilled Workers
By Ashley Parker
The New York Times, 3/18/13

Officials to Review Immigrants’ Solitary Confinement
By Ina Urbina
The New York Times, 3/26/13 

New Attitude on Immigration Skips an Old Coal Town
By Trip Gabriel
The New York Times, 3/31/13

Immigration reform -- a conservative approach
By Representative Raul Labrador
The Los Angeles Times, 3/31/13

House Immigration Bill Is Said to Offer 3 Paths
By Ashley Parker
The New York Times, 4/2/13

U.S. Agrees to New Rules for Immigration Raids
By Kirk Semple
The New York Times, 4/4/13

Senate immigration bill would set up a new permanent agriculture worker program
By the Associated Press
The Washington Post, 4/3/13

Immigration proposal could be delayed
By David Nakamura
The Washington Post, 4/7/13

Immigration & Refugee Policy Analyst: Katie Conway