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Senators Unveil Bipartisan Amendment to Protect Dreamers, Strengthen Border Security

8 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and 1 Independent Introduce Legislation

Click HERE to read the text of the amendment

Washington, D.C. — A bipartisan group of 16 Senators unveiled legislation this evening to protect “Dreamers” and to strengthen border security.  The Senators are part of the Common Sense Coalition, a group of 25 Republican, Democratic, and Independent Senators convened by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have been meeting nearly every day in Senator Collins’ office to develop a framework to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other immigration issues.

The lead sponsors of the legislation are Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME), and the original cosponsors include Senators: Collins, Manchin, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

“This bipartisan agreement finally allows DREAMers a pathway to citizenship so that they no longer have to live in fear of deportation,” said Senator Shaheen. “Time is of the essence and I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support this proposal so that DREAMers can finally move on with their lives. This agreement further demonstrates the necessity of good faith bipartisan discussions and the need for compromise to get things done. I look forward to continued participation with the Common Sense Caucus to make further progress on the many challenges facing our country.”

“Our bipartisan proposal takes meaningful steps to enhance border security, adds limits to chain migration and permanently deals with DACA recipients,” said Senator Rounds.  “The $25 billion allotted for border security is a historic investment in our nation’s borders that will strengthen our ability to keep bad actors out of the country and keep Americans safe. It is a significant improvement from the status quo and will allow us to continue the dialogue as we seek to keep our borders safe and reform our immigration system to one that is merit-based.”

“Nearly everybody involved in this process has expressed a desire to help these young people, and that’s exactly what our bipartisan group, under the leadership of Senator Collins, has been working towards. Let’s help them, rather than getting bogged down in complicated, comprehensive and unrelated changes to our immigration policy,” said Senator King.  “I hope our amendment will get the votes we need to take these young men and women out of limbo and ensure their legal status in the country they call home.”

“Following the reopening of the government last month, members of our Common Sense Coalition saw that immigration was beginning to fracture along partisan lines.  We met continuously so that Senators could discuss this important issue and reach consensus,” said Senator Collins.  “Our legislation underscores the broad, bipartisan commitment to creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who were brought to this country illegally through no decision of their own, while strengthening border security to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants as well as drugs like heroin that are ruining lives.”

“This compromise shows the American people what Congress can get done when we work in a bipartisan way and put politics aside. I’m glad we could work through these complicated issues in a constructive way in order to secure our border and solve some difficult immigration issues that I think both sides can support,” Senator Manchin said.  

“Our proposal would represent the most significant change to immigration law in the past thirty-five years,” said Senator Graham.  “Providing President Trump with $25 billion for the Wall system he campaigned on is a giant step forward for border security.  As to the DACA population, we mirror President Trump’s proposal allowing DACA eligible individuals to obtain legal status and over a ten to twelve-year period, they can become green card holders. This will allow them to pursue their lives with certainty and stability in the United States – the only country they know. This is a substantial down payment on fixing a broken immigration system and truly is a win-win.”

“We’ve reached a deal that gives us the best chance to protect Dreamers against deportation from the only country they know as home,” said Senator Kaine. “This is a true compromise, which includes the significant boost in border security funding our Republican colleagues and President Trump have been asking for. I’ve worked across the aisle for weeks with this large group of Republicans and Democrats to reach this deal, and I hope my colleagues will join us in showing that the Senate can solve tough problems.”

“I’m pleased to be part of this group of Republicans and Democrats who are working together to make a law, rather than a point,” said Senator Flake.  “A broadly-supported, bipartisan bill that protects DACA recipients and strengthens border security ought to be able to get 60 votes in the Senate. Let’s put it on the floor and work together to get it passed.”

“This bipartisan legislation represents our best opportunity to make long overdue changes to our immigration laws that will allow 1.8 million Dreamers to live without fear of deportation, make robust investments in border security, and ensure that family reunification remains one of the core values of our immigration system,” said Senator Coons. “This process has not been easy, and this bill is not perfect, but Delawareans sent me to the Senate to not only fight for our values, but to also work across the aisle to get things done.  While this isn’t the bill I would have drafted, I believe this is a good, honest compromise, and I will support it on the Senate floor tomorrow.”

“Our immigration system is broken and we need to fix it,” said Senator Gardner. “There are many children who came to this country without documentation and we need to allow them the opportunity to remain here lawfully. This legislation addresses some of the largest challenges our broken immigration system faces, including a major boost to border security, and I urge members on both sides of the aisle that want a solution to support our bipartisan approach.”

“This agreement is full of tough compromises, but it shows that when senators really want to find bipartisan solutions, it’s possible,” said Senator Heitkamp. “That’s the whole purpose of the Common Sense Coalition – to work together, Republicans and Democrats, to reach results for the American people – and I hope Congress passes our deal. I’m proud to have been part of this group that worked together to reopen the government in 2013 and last month. And now we’re doing it again by forging a deal that both provides a permanent solution to those who came to our country as children through no fault of their own while boosting border security at all of our borders.”

“I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort,” said Senator Murkowski. “The amendment seeks to protect the Dreamers while strengthening our border security and I am encouraged by the time and effort we have spent as a group trying to achieve a consensus on this difficult issue. I hope we can get to a final bill that protects the Dreamers and look forward to the debate.”

“My goal is to get a result on both border security and DACA so I will cosponsor and vote for Senator Grassley’s legislation implementing the president’s proposal. I will also cosponsor and vote for this narrower bipartisan proposal offered by Senators Rounds and King because it too solves the DACA problem and provides the $25 billion the president requested to improve border security,” said Senator Alexander.

“We can’t wait any longer to find a solution for the DREAMers and this bipartisan agreement – which was a product of working across the aisle with my colleagues for the past several weeks – includes a path to citizenship. I am hopeful it can get strong bipartisan support in the Senate,”said Senator Klobuchar.

“We have a real opportunity to secure our borders and address some of the issues in our immigration system,” said Senator Isakson. “I’m committed to continuing to work toward real solutions, and this legislation will help meet many of these goals.”

“This is a bipartisan solution that will provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers whose status in this country was left in limbo when the administration announced it was ending the DACA program,” said Senator Warner.  “This amendment certainly isn’t perfect, but I believe it is a suitable compromise and the best path forward for the Senate to advance legislation on this critical issue.”


Highlights of the bipartisan proposal include:

Legal Status and Path to Citizenship for Young People Brought to the US as Children.

The amendment provides legal status and a path to citizenship to individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. Individuals who are registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program automatically qualify, if they arrived in this country by June 15, 2007, unless they have engaged in conduct that would make them ineligible. To obtain legal status, individuals not enrolled in the DACA program must:

  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, the date of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order;
  • Have been under age 18 when they entered the U.S., and under age 38 on June 15, 2012;
  • Meet educational requirements or be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (or have been honorably discharged from military service); and
  • Pass background checks, medical exams, and register for the Selective Service, if applicable.

Individuals do not qualify if they are convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors. Individuals are required to pay any federal tax liability incurred while working legally in the U.S.

Beneficiaries can apply for citizenship after 12 years, and up to 2 years of credit will be given for time with DACA.

PROHIBITION ON DACA BENEFICIARIES SPONSORING THEIR PARENTS FOR CITIZENSHIP

The amendment includes language prohibiting parents from using their Dreamer children’s newly granted citizenship to apply for citizenship themselves.

BORDER SECURITY

The amendment authorizes and appropriates $25 billion in funding for Northern and Southern border security over the next 10 years.  The bill requires DHS to provide detailed reports to Congress on its security plan, including physical barriers, fencing, tactical infrastructure, technology, personnel, and the milestones for implementing this plan.

Funding after the first year is released each year once the DHS Secretary certifies that at least 75 percent of the goals for the prior year have been reached.  Sixty votes would be required in order to prevent funding for each fiscal year.

The bill also directs the Secretary to prioritize enforcement resources against aliens who:

  • Have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors;
  • Are a threat to national security or public safety; or
  • Are unlawfully present and arrived in the U.S. after June 30, 2018.

UPDATE 2-16-2018

The measure failed to get the required 60 votes (54-45) to pass the Senate.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan released the following:

“The agreement we voted on was the product of good faith bipartisan discussions and would have allowed Dreamers a pathway to citizenship so that they no longer have to live in fear of deportation,” said Shaheen. “I’m disappointed that, because of President Trump’s erratic and inconsistent positions on this issue, this agreement did not receive enough support to move forward in the Senate. It’s critically important that the Senate provide a pathway forward to protect Dreamers which is why I’ll continue my efforts across the aisle to find common ground.”

“I am deeply concerned that President Trump and his Administration did everything they could to defeat this bipartisan agreement that would have protected Dreamers and strengthened our border security,” Senator Hassan said. “The Common Sense Coalition has demonstrated that there is strong bipartisan consensus for protecting Dreamers whose energy, hard-work, and innovation is critical to our economic future. While this setback is extremely disappointing, I will continue working with the Common Sense Coalition and anyone else who is willing to join us to find a path forward for Dreamers and to ensure that our country is safe, secure, and free.”

Senators Send Letter To HHS To Extend DACA Renewals In Wake Of Storms

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Join Colleagues Calling for Extension of DACA Renewal Deadline in Wake of Storms

WASHINGTONIn the wake of three massive storms that have disrupted the day-to-day lives of millions of people in the U.S., Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of their colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to extend the crucial Oct. 5 deadline for Dreamers to renew their DACA status. The group made the request in a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers wrote. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program which allows some immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to work and go to school without the fear of being deported.

In ending the program, the administration is allowing some Dreamers currently enrolled to apply for a renewal. Those renewal applications and a $495 fee are due by Oct. 5 and the lawmakers fear the recent disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could make it nearly impossible for some eligible Dreamers to meet the deadline.

“Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time,” the lawmakers wrote. “An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application.”

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms.

 

Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy is available here:  

September 25, 2017

The Honorable Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

 

Dear Acting Secretary Duke:

We are writing to request that you extend the current October 5, 2017 deadline for individuals to submit appropriate applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

On September 5, 2017, the Administration announced the end of the current DACA program. According to that announcement, the government will continue to accept DACA renewal applications until October 5, 2017, for individuals whose current DACA status expires by March 5, 2018.

As you know, in the last month, several major hurricanes made landfall in the Unites States. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida. Hurricane Maria recently crippled Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without electricity. The hurricanes took lives, flooded communities, ruined homes and businesses, and displaced thousands. These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories. Volunteers from across the country have poured in to help with relief efforts, and millions of Americans have family and friends living in the affected areas. According to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms, and DACA recipients served as first responders in the rescue and recovery efforts. Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time.

In particular in light of these events, it would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request. An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application. We appreciate that the government has extended other filing deadlines due to the storms.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this request, as we continue to work on enshrining permanent protections for Dreamers into law.

Sincerely,

Labor Speaks Out Against Ending DACA

“President Donald Trump’s move to terminate DACA and strip work authorization away from 800,000 productive members of our society is cruel and wrong,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Ending DACA will increase the pool of vulnerable workers in our country and embolden employers to retaliate against working men and women who dare to organize on the job or speak out against abusive working conditions. This indefensible act will make our workplaces less fair and less safe and will undermine our freedom to join together and fight to raise wages and standards.”

“This direct attack on union members and union values only strengthens our resolve to overcome racial divisions and demand changes to a system rigged to benefit the wealthiest and corporations. The eyes of history are upon us. The labor movement will stand with these brave young workers and fight for legislation so that the contributions they make are celebrated, rather than assaulted. We will push for a pathway to citizenship and continue to oppose enforcement policies that discriminate and generate fear in our workplaces and communities. We will not give up the struggle until all working people have rights on the job, regardless of where they were born,” Trumka added.

“President Trump has left 800,000 lives in limbo by rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We condemn this appalling and counterproductive action,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “Donald Trump is scapegoating immigrants who were already vetted by the federal government and who are not a threat to our country. Trump taking DACA away from Dreamers so that he can try to deport them is heartless and immoral.”

“Many Dreamers are farm workers who feed this nation or their sons and daughters. They are also doctors, lawyers, researchers, students—all of them supporting America. This is the only home most of them have known,” Rodriguez added.

“Donald Trump’s announcement today that Deferred Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) will be terminated in six months barring congressional intervention is an astounding act of political cowardice, and a missed opportunity to make a significant step towards comprehensive immigration reform,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor and General Vice President Maria Elena Durazo in a joint statement. “Donald Trump has passed the buck to Congress on what even he has acknowledged is a humanitarian crisis, because of his lack of political courage. Donald Trump, by failing to perform as a leader, has placed the fates of the 800,000 law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers with DACA status in the hands of a dysfunctional Congress.”

“Because of Trump’s refusal to show political courage, it is now incumbent upon the American Congress to take immediate action to save DACA. The American hospitality industry relies heavily on DACA and Temporary Protective Status (TPS) workers to run, and the termination of DACA will have serious negative consequences for the tourism industry because of this. Under DACA, 800,000 immigrants have received work authorizations, including many hospitality workers and their families. Through this program, young people have been able to fulfill their dreams to live, work, study, and contribute legally to America without fear of deportation. Elimination of legal worker status will not result in immigrants self-deporting.  It will result in preventing hospitality industry workers from working lawfully and force them into the underground economy of undocumented workers exploited by bad businesses.

“Because of Donald Trump, 800,000 legal workers are now facing loss of their ability to work legally, and face deportation and loss of their families. It is imperative that the Congress act immediately to protect the 800,000 DACA workers whose fate is now in their hands. It is now up to Congress whether these nearly one million immigrants, who contribute to the American economy, live productive and meaningful lives, and attain education and employment at higher levels than natural born Americans, lose their most basic rights to live in a country they were brought to as children. UNITE HERE resoundingly condemns termination of DACA, as well as Trump’s lack of political courage, and will work tirelessly to advocate to the Republican-controlled Congress for justice for DACA workers,” UNITE HERE concluded.

“The young people covered by DACA are woven into our communities—learning in, working in, defending and contributing to the country that is their home,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Offering protection to DACAmented immigrants was done based on the understanding that America is stronger when we value people and create opportunity to achieve the American dream, regardless of demography or geography.”

“President Trump made a promise that he would treat Dreamers with ‘great heart.’ Now, for seemingly political reasons, he is breaking his promise to students, teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers who took him at his word. This is not the America I know—an America that says one thing to its citizens and then does another. Betraying DACA Dreamers is betraying the values of our diverse and welcoming nation. America will not be stronger or more secure when these young people are torn away from the country they love and call their own. America will be diminished—and the toll will be measured by families ripped apart, people cast into the shadows and into poverty, businesses upended, economies weakened and dreams shattered.”

“As children return to school, many carry with them constant, crippling terror and uncertainty because of their immigration status. Children should be free to learn and live without fear. Inhumane immigration policies deprive them of that freedom.”

“The AFT will continue to fight to protect undocumented students, refugees, individuals with temporary protective status, and their families from the threat of deportation. A nation built by immigrants should welcome those in pursuit of the American dream, not pull up the ladder behind us,” Weingarten concluded.

Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America called the move “cruel and mean-spirited.”

“These young people were brought here by their parents at a very young age. They know no other home than the United States, and have made productive, successful lives here, contributing to their communities and looking to be full participants in our nation.  The United States is their home country.

Democrats and Republicans, including the Republican leadership, have urged the President not to eliminate DACA. It’s now up to Congress to focus on passing legislation to protect these innocent young people. DACA should not be eliminated until Congress passes a replacement,” Shelton concluded.

“The Teamsters are disappointed by this decision, as the union has long supported immigration reform and a path to citizenship for our nation’s ‘dreamers’. These young people are already citizens in every way that matters and deserve to have all of the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by U.S.-born children,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The Teamsters Union supports comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.  Today’s action by the Administration makes the need for congressional action all the more urgent. It is time to pass legislation that will ensure the futures of these children and young adults so that they may pursue the American dream as millions of immigrants have done before them.”

“Many of the young people covered by DACA are young professionals, working as teachers, doctors, nurses, and lawyers, who contribute greatly to the American economy,” said Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) President Paul E. Almeida. “By eliminating the DACA program, President Trump is ripping over 800,000 hard-working young people from their communities, jobs, and families. DPE stands with the young professionals and union members affected by the termination of DACA and will work to help these young people stay in the place that they call home.”

“President Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) today is a disgrace. This is not what the United States of America represents, nor is it who we are. This policy is another clear example of White Supremacy strategies and tactics and we denounce it,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union Local 226 (Las Vegas). “This action is shameful and completely stains the Republican party. We call on Republican legislators in the Senate and Congress to support young immigrants and work with Democrats to pass a clean, stand-alone DREAM Act. We call on our Las Vegas employers on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas to stand with your workforce and to not let this immoral decision pass quietly. ”

“Instead of putting young people on a pathway to citizenship, the administration’s heartless act today forces immigrant children into the shadows of our society based solely on their immigrant status,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Reversing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program renders undocumented people targets for unscrupulous employers, wage theft, and other abuses in the workplace, limits educational opportunities, and weakens the economic well-being of their families, including their citizen spouses, siblings and offspring.  It is also a cruel example of how the current Administration’s advancement of policies that promote racial and ethnic profiling and xenophobia have further emboldened white nationalists, who have a history of contributing to a climate of fear and hate.”

“Even after the departure of Steve Bannon, the Trump Administration continues to signal that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is brimming with white nationalist-fueled policies,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “Rather than going after greedy CEOs and corporations that depress wages, offshore jobs, fuel economic insecurity, and make workplaces worse, President Trump has decided to scapegoat young immigrants who are working hard, contributing to the U.S. economy, and making a better life for themselves and their families.”

United We Dream is organizing support rallies for Dreamers all across the country.  Click here to find an event near you. 

Below is an infographic from United We Dream of the 5 thinks to know about the end of DACA.

(Featured image from  Not 1 More rally in 2014. Image by the LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

NH’s Congressional Representatives Decry Trump’s Decision To End DACA

Today, it was announced that President Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that protects 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children.

“President Trump’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane and completely unnecessary,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This decision drives hundreds of innocent Dreamers in the Granite State, and hundreds of thousands across the country, into the shadows of our society. I’m encouraged that several Republicans, including Speaker Ryan, have voiced their support for legislative action to continue DACA. Congress should immediately get to work on a bipartisan plan that protects Dreamers.”

“This decision is morally wrong and cruel. It also would hurt our economy, which is why a wide range of American businesses are speaking out,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “I agree with Speaker Paul Ryan: decisions about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be made by Congress. These are young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own. They are showing their dedication and commitment to our country by pursuing higher education, working in our communities, or serving our nation. Penalizing the 966 New Hampshire young people who take part in this program is harmful to our local economies and denies these students, workers, and veterans the opportunity to strengthen the communities they grew up in.”

“Immigration enforcement should focus on people who are criminals and threats to public safety, not young people who often have no significant connections to the countries of their births, and whose energy, hard work and innovation are vital components of our economic future,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “President Trump’s decision to go back on his word to protect these young people is harmful and wrong. I strongly support the bipartisan DREAM Act and previously joined my colleagues in urging President Trump to protect these young people who have great potential to continue contributing to our society and economy. Members of both parties have expressed support for continuing this program, and I urge my colleagues to come together across party lines immediately to support these young people.”

“I’m deeply disappointed by President Trump’s decision to end DACA, which allows people brought to the United States as children the opportunity to work legally and live without fear of deportation,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “The young people protected by DACA are contributing to our nation in countless ways: they are serving in our military, paying taxes, and helping to create jobs and grow our economy. Diversity strengthens our fabric as a nation and this ill-advised decision is nothing more than political pandering that will hurt real people and families. Congress must act as soon as possible to reform our broken immigration system and extend protections to Dreamers across the country, including the hundreds in New Hampshire.”

Last week, a group of business leaders sent an open letter to President Trump expressing their opposition to ending DACA. In the letter the groups writes, “All DACA recipients grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks, and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes. More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.

The letter continued, “Unless we act now to preserve the DACA program, all 780,000 hardworking young people will lose their ability to work legally in this country, and every one of them will be at immediate risk of deportation. Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.”

“DREAMers, many of whom are still children, are a part of our American family,” said NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.  “Today, the Trump administration kicked this hardworking, inspiring group out of our shared home. So many DREAMers know no other country, flag or allegiance and came here through no fault of their own. DACA is simply a chance for DREAMers to work hard and stay in the country they deservedly call their own. Today’s decision by the Trump administration and the way in which they handled it are vindictive, cowardly, counterproductive and wrong-headed. It’s not how we’ve ever behaved in America and it is hypocritical for a country founded by, built by, and prosperous because of immigrants.”

The people at United We Dream put out a guide about what this new news means for Dreamers.

326 Immigration Advocacy Groups Send Brief To Supreme Court On U.S. v. Texas

In Landmark Case, U.S. v. Texas, 326 Civil Rights, Immigration, and Community Groups Urge Supreme Court to Let Immigration Relief Programs Go Forward

SEIU immigration rally _1Brief features profiles of families whose lives would improve if immigration directives were allowed to take effect

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas, urging the court to lift the injunction that blocked the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014.

The Obama administration’s expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) initiative were stopped by a federal district court in Texas, and that court’s order subsequently was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The lawsuit against the president’s executive actions was brought by 26 states. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” the brief filed by the civil rights groups argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying.”

The brief was filed by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and 320 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and service-provider organizations.

In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives. The brief provides examples of parents and individuals who would be able to contribute more fully to their communities if the immigration initiatives were allowed to take effect.

Among those impacted by the injunction are people who immigrated to the U.S. as children, did not meet the age and arrival date rules under the original DACA program (announced in 2012), but would qualify under the expanded program. These individuals continue contributing to their communities as they await relief from the courts. Also profiled are parents such as Dr. Alina Kipchumba, who came to the U.S. from Kenya 21 years ago, earned her Ph.D., and gave birth to a son in the U.S. She had work authorization but fell out of status when her son, who was born with a serious heart condition, had to undergo multiple heart surgeries that would not have been available in Kenya. Her son’s cardiologist warned that returning to Kenya would be a “death sentence” for her son.

“The stories in the brief illustrate the myriad ways that prospective beneficiaries of DAPA and expanded DACA could contribute to our country if given the chance. These initiatives constitute a lawful exercise of executive discretion, and we hope that the Supreme Court will affirm that in no uncertain terms,” said Melissa Crow, Legal Director, American Immigration Council.

“Groups from more than 40 states and all walks of life agree: we as a country are better off if we allow these initiatives to move forward,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “U.S. citizen children whose parents would qualify for this temporary relief from deportation will gain much-needed economic and emotional stability if the court allows these common sense measures to take effect.”

Advocates note that the Supreme Court should not be used to settle a political debate, with anti-immigrant activists trying to push through the courts what they haven’t been able to accomplish through the political process.

“This is a suspect legal challenge brought by Texas and followed up with support from the governors of Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina to tear apart families,” said Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel. “The president has clear legal authority on this matter. The purpose of the president’s action is to help immigrant families, many of which have mixed status, come from out of the shadows. These governors need to get out of the way and let the president do his job.”

The harmful effects of the injunction on families must be seriously considered, other advocates emphasized.

“We trust that the Supreme Court will recognize the historic tragedy of the detention and deportation machinery that rips families apart and erodes our justice system,” said María Rodríguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a partner of the Advancement Project. “The partisan battles waged by corporate interests and immigration demagogues, including Florida’s Pam Bondi, have done great harm to American tradition and families alike. Unfortunately, their extremism does not exist in a vacuum. It concretely affects thousands upon thousands of children and parents who either fear being torn apart or are condemned to live without one another because of deportation. Communities across the nation stand with immigrant families who need relief immediately and for policymakers to end detentions and deportations. We hope that the court will see the motivations behind the effort against DACA and DAPA, and the nefarious effects it has on vulnerable families.”

“President Obama’s deferred action policies would provide administrative relief to hardworking immigrant families who live in our communities and contribute to our economy every day,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “But because of this politically motivated, anti-immigrant lawsuit, the president’s initiatives have been frozen, forcing millions of parents and children to continue to live in the shadows, in constant fear of deportation and being separated from their families. We are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the president’s actions.”

“The lives of real people and their American-born children — not some political targets used in talking points on a campaign trail — are at stake in this case,” stated Rocio Saenz, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We hope the stories of immigrants who reflect our American past and success speak to the justices of the court. But above all, we hope justice prevails against the politics of hate. Far too many families have waited to cross this threshold. It’s time our country set the path forward as we ultimately continue to fight for our north star, lasting immigration reform.”

The full legal brief is available here

For an interactive timeline outlining the process for review by the Supreme Court click here

For more background on the legal challenges to executive action click here

To follow the case in the coming months, visit FightforFamilies.org.

Labor And Civil Rights Groups Urge Supreme Court To Take Immigration Case From Texas

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Coalition of Immigration, Civil Rights, Labor, and Social Service Groups Urges
Supreme Court to Protect President’s Executive Actions on Immigration

Legal Brief Filed by 224 Groups Pushes High Court to Hear Landmark Immigration Case, Texas v. U.S.

Washington, D.C. — A coalition of 224 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief, urging the Supreme Court to review the case, Texas v. U.S., that has blocked some of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The filing comes less than a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction put in place by a Texas federal district court that blocked implementation of protections for millions of immigrants across the country.

The filing from the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others, comes only ten days after the formal request, known as a petition for writ of certiorari, from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to review the case. Amicus briefs in support of a cert petition are usually due 30 days after the petition is filed. The amici coalition acted swiftly given that the Department of Justice has requested a briefing schedule that would allow the Supreme Court ample time to hear the case during the current term and issue a decision by June 2016.

“The breadth and depth of support for the President’s executive actions is clear,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center. “It’s now up to the Supreme Court to take the case up this term and put the legal questions to rest so that the over 5 million U.S. citizen children whose parents are eligible for DAPA, can finally have stability and be free from the fear that they will one day be separated from their parents.

“With more than 200 organizations joining this amicus, including labor groups that represent millions of immigrant workers, there’s no question that the president’s immigration initiatives are necessary and backed by the majority of the American public,” said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International. “The Supreme Court has a responsibility to take this case, just as we have a duty to mobilize our communities to continue to defend the immigration action and push lasting immigration reform to the forefront of the agenda with our vote.”

The brief provides personal stories and testimonials about potential beneficiaries of expanded DACA and DAPA and explains how these deferred action initiatives would positively impact millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children, family members, employers, employees and other community members. The groups explain that the sweeping injunction upheld in the lower court directly harms individuals who have either been in the U.S. since they were children or are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

“The individuals profiled in the brief illustrate the havoc this case has wreaked on the lives of millions of immigrants who remain in legal limbo,” added Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case and give hard working immigrant families the chance to live and work without fear of deportation.”

The immigration programs, which were announced by the President last November, would expand eligibility for the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and expand protections for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through a program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Together, the programs would allow millions of undocumented individuals to remain in the United States without fear of deportation and apply for work authorization permits for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal. 

“The DAPA and expanded DACA policies will help ensure that families are not needlessly separated and that immigrant workers can speak up for basic safety and fairness on the job without facing retaliation,” said Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.  “We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case right away.” 

  • Click here to see the full legal brief.
  • Click here for more background on the legal challenges to executive action on immigration: 
  • Click here to see an interactive timeline outlining the process for review of the case by the Supreme Court:

At One-Year Anniversary of Immigration Actions, Administration Must Vigorously Defend Authority

Washington D.C. – Friday, marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement of his executive actions on immigration, which at their heart, are first steps towards common-sense reforms to an outdated immigration system.

The series of reforms range from temporary protections for an expanded group of unauthorized young people (expanded DACA) and parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA), to modernizing and streamlining the visa application process, to new guidance to better prioritize the immigration agencies’ use of their limited enforcement resources.

While the centerpiece of the executive actions—expanded DACA and DAPA—remains tied up in litigation, the Administration can and should use its uncontested authority to continue refining enforcement priorities and improving the operations and functions of the visa system.  As the deferred action initiatives have become highly-politicized and are yet to achieve their intended goal—keeping families together while ensuring that the government’s enforcement resources are targeted toward real security threats—there is one aspect of these measures that remains unassailable: the President’s authority to take such actions.

Expanded DACA and DAPA are lawful exercises of prosecutorial discretion, the authority to determine enforcement priorities, and the Supreme Court has held that it is well within the executive’s power to decide how and when to enforce the law. States cannot and should not be able to use the courts to raise a policy dispute. The Administration must continue to defend its authority—one that has been used by every Administration since 1965—to shape immigration policy.

Unfortunately, the suspension of the expanded DACA and DAPA initiatives has real-life consequences for the five million immigrants who might qualify for temporary relief from deportation under them. Those who criticize these actions have yet to devise an alternative plan for moving forward on immigration reform. Yet, one year in, the need for meaningful reform—reform that is good for workers, business and families—remains.

To view additional resources from the American Immigration Center, see:

Deferred Action Initiatives Headed To Supreme Court

American Immigration Council Urges Prompt Appeal
to the Supreme Court of Flawed Fifth Circuit Decision

Washington D.C. – In a disappointing but unsurprising decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s latest deferred action initiatives from being implemented. This decision clears the way for the Obama Administration to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Immigration Council urges the Administration to act promptly and seek immediate Supreme Court review. 

The deferred action initiatives, announced almost one year ago, in November 2014, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Together, these initiatives could provide as many as 5 million immigrants with temporary relief from deportation. The decision today means that the initiatives remain suspended. 

Last November, after decades of congressional neglect, President Obama took a crucial, courageous and practical step toward reforming our immigration system. Using the executive’s well-established authority to regulate immigration and determine enforcement priorities, he adopted policies that would allow millions of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children to remain with their parents, while at the same time ensuring that the government’s limited enforcement resources could be targeted toward real security threats. The Obama Administration should aggressively challenge the opinion in this case that states have standing—or legal authority—to file suit when they disagree with federal immigration policies. This sets a dangerous precedent.

As Judge Carolyn Dineen King, stated succinctly in her dissent, “a mistake has been made.” It now is up to the U.S. Supreme Court to correct this grave mistake—a mistake that sets not only a dangerous precedent, but one that is bad for families, bad for our communities, and bad for the future prosperity of our country. 

Governor Walker Would Destroy Immigrant Families To “Follow The Law”

Scott Walker just gave immigrant families a giant middle finger as he told one immigrant family that they need to “follow the law.”

“In November, Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to shield 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and allow them to legally work in this country. This become known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. Twenty-six states, including Wisconsin, sued, calling the executive action unconstitutional. Such legal action has halted the program.” (Washington Post)

First Governor Walker attempted to avoid answering the question about DAPA and DACA by saying that he is a Governor and don’t deal with it right now, and then tucking his tail between his legs and running for his campaign bus.

 

Jose Flores (an undocumented immigrant) and his family (US Citizens) finally got the chance to talk to Gov. Walker and he responded.

(VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/hGRUjXlQ8QE)

“My point is that you have to follow the law, follow the process,” Walker told Flores. “No man or woman is above the law in this country — that’s the beauty of America.”

Walker also promoted his idea or building a giant wall, tossing 11 million aspiring Americans out of the country, and letting the next President and Congress fix the immigration laws.

Walker claims that the President was not able to get immigration reform through Congress but didn’t. We all know that immigration reforms have been held up in the US House and have failed to even get a vote from the Republican leadership.

President Obama took Executive Action because Republicans refused to pass an immigration reform bill. His actions only delayed deportation for some immigrant families but has not solved the problem that immigrants are still being forced to wait years and years to gain citizenship. Many of these 11 million aspiring Americans have been waiting for a decade or more trying to become citizens. The process is broken and millions of aspiring Americans are hiding in the shadows while they wait for their chance to become US citizens.

Throughout our great history, welcoming immigrants has been a large part of who we are as Americans.

We are a nation of immigrants, so why is Governor Walker saying that these brown skinned immigrants are not welcome here anymore?

 

Divided Fifth Circuit Denies Emergency Stay as Underlying Case on Immigration Action Proceeds

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR) 

Washington D.C. – In a disappointing decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s deferred action initiatives from being implemented.

The court’s order keeps in place the hold on implementation of these initiatives while the Fifth Circuit considers the appeal of the preliminary injunction itself. The Fifth Circuit will hear argument on the appeal in early July. The deferred action initiatives, announced last November, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could provide as many as 4 to 5 million immigrants with a temporary relief from deportation.

In the meantime, the underlying case is pending in the district court in Brownsville, TX before Judge Andrew Hanen. The case is still in the early stages of discovery.

A similar suit challenging the President’s actions filed by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was dismissed by a Washington, D.C., federal court at the end of last year. It is currently on appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Immigration Policy Center logoThe following is a statement by Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“Today’s 2-1 decision is indefensible, and we remain confident that the majority’s legal reasoning will not stand. The federal courts have long recognized that the Executive Branch has authority to set enforcement priorities, that is, to exercise prosecutorial discretion, just like all other law enforcement agencies. In fact, since at least 1956, every U.S. President has granted temporary immigration relief from deportation.

“Judge Stephen A. Higginson, in his dissent, got it right when he called out the ‘political nature of this dispute’ and argued that the courts have no role to play here. The courts simply cannot be a venue for anyone who disagrees with a President’s policy choice. The district court in Washington, D.C., understood this when it promptly dismissed Sheriff Arpaio’s similar suit challenging DACA and DAPA. To create a precedent that would allow state politicians to challenge a federal immigration decision they disagreed with, based on the fact that they might have to issue a driver’s license to the beneficiary of that policy, is absurd and unworkable.

“Every day that DAPA and expanded DACA implementation is delayed is a day in which families are forced to live in uncertainty and under the constant threat of possible deportation. Delaying implementation also means delaying substantial economic benefits to our country. The overwhelming weight of the evidence clearly indicates that DAPA and expanded DACA will increase Gross Domestic Product, reduce the federal deficit, and raise both tax revenue and average wages.

“Finally, today’s decision serves as reminder that broader, permanent reform is needed. Congress must do its job to enact immigration legislation that provides undocumented immigrants a full and meaningful shot at citizenship, helps the United States grow its economic prosperity, and reflects our proud history as a nation of immigrants.”

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