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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.”

Senator Shaheen Presses Trump Appointee, Governor Brownbeck, On New Hampshire Deportations

Shaheen Presses Religious Freedom Ambassador Nominee on Trump Administration’s Efforts to Deport Indonesians Who Fled Religious Persecution

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pressed Governor Sam Brownback on the Trump administration’s deportation of individuals who came to the United States fleeing religious persecution during his confirmation hearing to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. During her questioning, Shaheen addressed the Trump administration’s planned deportation of members of New Hampshire’s Indonesian community, asking Brownback how the United States could be a model for treating people of all faiths fairly, yet send members of the New Hampshire Indonesian community back to the country they fled to face certain persecution. Brownback responded by saying that he believes that “we should accept people fleeing religious persecution.”

In 2012, Senator Shaheen’s office helped negotiate an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow Indonesian immigrants to remain in New Hampshire and obtain work permits in exchange for a commitment to regularly check-in with ICE. This agreement was recently reversed by ICE under the Trump administration, and these individuals were ordered to begin making preparations for deportation. Senator Shaheen has called senior officials in the Trump administration on behalf of the Indonesian community, including the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell.

Vigil at ICE Office Calls for End to Deportations

30 members of faith communities pray #LetThemStay at ICE office in Manchester, NH on Sept 5th. Image from Arnie Alpert Twitter.

Interfaith advocates celebrate victory for Indonesian immigrants, but say more is needed.

Vigil Planned for October 3, at 8:30 am

Buoyed by a federal court decision putting a halt to the imminent deportation of about 60 Indonesian immigrants, members of area religious congregations will return to the Norris Cotton Federal Building on Tuesday October 3 to pray for a halt to all deportations. The vigil comes on the heels of a victory for the interfaith coalition, after an order issued on September 26 by Judge Patti Saris of the United States District Court in Boston halted plans to deport 11 Indonesians. The decision applies not only to the named plaintiffs, but to approximately 50 other Indonesian immigrants.

“We are called to continue our prayers for a halt to the deportation machine, which is tearing apart families, congregations, and communities,” said the Rev. Tim Roser, Associate to the Bishop, New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The interfaith prayer vigils began on June 6, coinciding with scheduled appointments that dozens of immigrants had with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation. Such appointments are typically held on the second Tuesday of each month.

The October 3 vigil will be led by Rev. Sarah Rockwell of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church  and Father Joseph Gurdak, ofm, Cap. of St. Anne- St. Augustin Parish.

Prior to the Trump administration, these appointments took place on a more or less annual basis for immigrants who had “orders of supervision” from ICE.  Since then, immigrants have been ordered to return to ICE with greater frequency. Starting on August 1, many of the immigrants were told to return with plane tickets to their countries of origin or risk getting jailed and forcibly deported. Since then, prayer vigils have also been held outside the federal building on each day the faith-based activists knew of anyone needing to report to ICE.

The October 3 vigil will be the 11th to take place since June. The vigils have attracted anywhere from a couple dozen to a few hundred prayerful protesters. Participants have included local and regional leaders from a variety of faith traditions. The vigils are coordinated by the Granite State Organizing Project, American Friends Service Committee, and Untied Valley Interfaith Project.

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with prayers, songs, and a “Jericho Walk” around the building.  “According to the Hebrew Bible, it was prayer that brought down the walls of Jericho,” said Father Joseph Gurdak, pastor at Saint Anne-Saint Augustin Parish in Manchester. “Today, we are praying for the walls of injustice, intolerance, xenophobia, and racism to come crumbling down.”

The Indonesians fled from religious persecution about twenty years ago, explained the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of Indonesian Community Support in Dover. Since then, they have been living, working, and raising families in the Dover-Rochester area. “We are hopeful that the courts will put a total halt to the deportations, which are tearing our community apart,” she said.

Others swept up in the deportation surge include people from Brazil, South Sudan, El Salvador, and other countries where violence and extreme poverty have forced people to leave their homes and come to the United States to try to make a better life for themselves and their families.

“Rescinding DACA Is Inhumane,” Quakers Vow To Keep Fighting For Immigrant Rights

30 members of faith communities pray #LetThemStay at ICE office in Manchester, NH on Sept 5th. Image from Arnie Alpert Twitter.

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE —The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – condemned today’s decision by the Trump administration to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has provided temporary deportation relief to almost 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children, including nearly 1,000 in New Hampshire.

“The decision to rescind DACA is an inhumane attack on young people, their families, and our communities,” said Maggie Fogarty, co-director of the organization’s New Hampshire Program. “This decision puts thousands of young people at risk of deportation, and a six-month delay does nothing to mitigate that. We support DACA because we strongly believe that no one should be deported.”

Fogarty received the news while standing outside the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office in Manchester, where dozens of immigrants were given deportation orders today.  “We will continue to support individuals and families threatened with deportation,” she said.

Since the DACA program was announced by executive order in 2012, AFSC has been involved in helping people sign up for the program, providing know-your-rights information,  advocating for DACA expansion (which was effectively blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016), and mobilizing constituents to contact their congress people in support of the program.

“DACA has created opportunities for young immigrants to work, pursue educational opportunities, and support themselves and their families,” said Arnie Alpert, the NH Program’s other co-director. “In the absence of just and humane immigration policies, the program has provided some necessary relief for thousands of people. These protections should be expanded, not rescinded.”

Many DACA recipients have also spoken out about how DACA has impacted them and why future programs or legislation need to be expanded. “As an undocumented student, I was able to benefit from DACA. This enabled me to continue my education, get a job with AFSC, and pursue a master’s degree,” said Jesús Palafox, Regional Administrative Associate in AFSC’s Chicago office. “DACA has been very helpful to me, but I am just part of a tiny minority of millions of people living in this country who need to be able to adjust their status. We need solutions that include everyone.”

Despite the setback, AFSC and immigrant rights groups across the country say this movement for immigrant rights, family reunification and social justice is not over. “We will continue our work – in the courts, in our communities, and in the streets – until everyone has access to legal status,” said Fogarty.

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)

Prayer Vigil Outside Of ICE Office Planned For Sept. 5th

Manchester, NH – Members of area religious congregations will hold a vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester on Tuesday morning to pray for an end to immigrant deportations.

“Deportations are tearing apart families, tearing apart congregations, tearing apart our communities,” said the Rev. Joseph Gurdak of Saint Anne/Saint Augustin Church in Manchester, whose congregation includes many immigrants.  “We are offering prayers for this cruel practice to end.”

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with a “Jericho Walk” around the building, led by the Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor at Brookside Congregational Church and President of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

The prayer vigil coincides with required appointments that dozens of immigrants have with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation, which has offices on the building’s second floor.

“Our traditions call on us to love our neighbors and welcome the stranger,” observed the Rev. Rev. Becca Girrell of the Lebanon United Methodist Church.  “My faith compels me to stand with those who face the danger of detention and deportation, so that if nothing else, they know they are not alone. My hope is that our presence conveys that people of faith denounce these cruel practices, support keeping families together, bear witness to the humanity and dignity of all persons, and believe in a Divine who holds all people’s lives as sacred.”

Following the Jericho Walk, prayers and readings will be led by Father John Bucchino of Blessed Sacrament Church, the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, and other faith leaders.

Among those who are required to report to ICE on Tuesday are more than twenty members of the state’s Indonesian immigrant community, whose members fled from religious persecution but who have been denied asylum in the United States.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka To Demand An End To Deportations At Pasadena’s Worker Center

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

(Photo by Bill Burke, Page One Photography)

During the event, day laborers, elected officials and immigrant and community leaders will highlight how failed enforcement policies undermine workers’ rights  

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will be at a worker center in Pasadena, Calif., today where he will oppose the ongoing deportations that undermine family unity and weaken rights for all workers. He will be joined by Los Angeles Labor Federation of Labor President Rusty Hicks; Pasadena City Mayor, Terry Tornek; Pasadena Councilmember, District 5, Victor Gordo; California State Labor Commissioner, Julie Su; and dozens of day laborers and workers who will share their experiences as immigrant workers.

During the event President Trumka plans to deliver the following remarks [Excerpts]:

“America’s deportation crisis is a bipartisan failure. 

“And I could not come here today without saying how disappointed I am with the Obama Administration’s recent decision to send women and children back to dangerous Central American nations.

“I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for President Obama, yet the plague of immigration raids in America is nothing less than a travesty.  A human travesty.

“All over our country, those who fled violence and poverty to come here for a better life are being forced to live in fear.  This is wrong and today we say once again: stop the era of deportations!

“It’s time for us to ramp up the pressure on our elected leaders.  Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s labor movement and our allies, we are going to protect all working people.

“We demand an end to deportations and safe haven for workers who speak up on the job.

“We call on the Supreme Court to give DAPA and DACA the green light.  But no matter what the justices decide, we will keep mobilizing and keep organizing.

“We shouldn’t be building walls.  We should be building bridges—to security and prosperity and a better life.

“The future of immigrant workers is not in detention centers.  It’s in worker centers like this one.

“So brothers and sisters, continue to stand up when your communities are under attack.  Your bravery is inspiring.  Your courage lifts us all.”

Pro-Bono Law Groups Stops Unlawful Deportation

33 Mothers and Children Protected from Immediate Deportation By The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project

Emergency rulings reveal indefensible deportation strategy for vulnerable Central American families

Washington D.C. – In the last week, 121 mothers and children were brought to the South Texas Residential Family Center in Dilley, Texas, after being rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project reviewed the cases of 13 families, filed appeals for 12, and won stays of removal from the Board of Immigration Appeals for all 12 families – 33 mothers and children. While this is a major victory for these families, the troubling fact remains that many, who very likely also had claims for relief, were swiftly deported without the chance to consult with CARA staff or volunteers. The 12 families for whom CARA obtained stays were fleeing extreme domestic violence or targeted for recruitment, kidnapping, assault, or extortion by transnational criminal organizations.

We now call on the Obama Administration to release the families confined at Dilley pending their appeals. The continued detention of these children and mothers violates well-established law regarding the treatment of immigrant children, as reflected in the Flores Settlement Agreement. CARA Managing Attorney, Katie Shepherd explains, “Under Flores, the government may not hold children in unlicensed, secure detention centers like Dilley. The children should be released immediately, with their mothers, as the law requires. The plight of these families, victims of ICE’s recent raids, highlights more pervasive problems with our immigration system. The Obama Administration’s troubling approach toward refugee families needs to be rethought, beginning with the immediate closure of its current family detention centers.”

The CARA Project team served as the last hope for these families. Their successful stays of deportation raise serious concerns about the glaring due process violations that deprive bona fide asylum seekers of a meaningful opportunity to present their claims. Every single mother for whom the CARA Project filed an appeal had been denied due process in one or more ways, including:

  • Cases thrown on a “rocket docket,” leaving no time for their attorneys, if they were able to secure legal representation, to compile the evidence required;
  • Lack of information on what the process was and what their obligations were;
  • Officials pressuring them to sign legal documents without access to counsel;
  • Arrest and detention after they had cooperated with every single requirement ICE had mandated.  

The government’s decision to round up Central American families over New Year’s weekend and its refusal to disavow such aggressive enforcement tactics against vulnerable mothers and children continues to reverberate across the United States and beyond. President Obama must fully acknowledge that these families deserve humanitarian protection rather than punishment. The Obama Administration has consistently refused to recognize and treat these families as refugees and has erected enormous obstacles again and again in an effort to deter future asylum seekers. This is a shameful choice that contradicts our own laws and our history as a nation of immigrants.

CARA looks forward to receiving details from the government regarding plans to partner with the United Nations to assist refugees fleeing Central American violence. But, in order to live up to our country’s values and principles, real solutions need to be sought and implemented for those fleeing violence who reach our borders, including meaningful access to counsel and full due process, as well as an immediate end to family detention. Additionally, the administration should immediately protect this vulnerable population from deportation by granting humanitarian parole, Temporary Protected Status, or another form of relief.


*The CARA Pro Bono Project is a partnership of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council (Council), Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), that provides legal representation and undertakes advocacy on behalf of mothers and children held in federal family detention centers.

President Obama To Address The Nation On Immigration, Republicans Threaten Shutdown

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Today is the day that millions of aspiring Americans have been waiting for. The day when President Obama stands up to Congress and states clearly that if they will not do something to pass meaningful immigration reform then he will do what he can through executive orders.

It was announced last night that the President would make a prime-time address announcing his plans to stop the deportations of millions of aspiring Americans seeking citizenship. He will also stop the ripping apart of families, by stopping the deportation of the parents of children who are legal US Citizens.

A group of immigration lawyers from across the country sent a letter to President Obama citing his legal authority to defer deportations through executive actions.

“Our letter confirms that the administration has specific legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for protecting an individual or group from deportation,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. “This legal authority served as foundation for prosecutorial discretion policy across several administrations. Historically, this policy has been premised on the twin policy goals of managing limited resources and shielding people with compelling situations from removal.”

“This letter reflects a clear, broad, and informed consensus on two key points,” said Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law. “First, the president has the legal authority, exercising his discretion as the nation’s top immigration prosecutor, to establish enforcement priorities. Second, the president’s lawful discretion includes the authority to set up an orderly system, modeled on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), for granting temporary relief from deportation.”

“It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.”

President Obama’s Executive Order would protect nearly 5 million people currently residing in the United States.

Of course the Republicans were quick to respond to the announcement with more threats to harm real Americans if the President takes action without Congress.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue — and many others,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Senator Marco Rubio who once championed immigration reform in the Senate now is hints of a government shutdown if the President takes executive action on Immigration.

The Des Moines Register reported that Rep Steven King wants to tie executive action on immigration to funding the government.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear …,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that.”

King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, “becomes a requirement” for a continuing resolution.

Over the last six months conservative pundits has indicated that President Obama’s threat to defer action on deportations is unlawful and would warrant everything from a government shutdown to all out impeachment.

The irony of this is that Republicans have already forgotten that their hero, President Ronald Regan, took similar action to provide amnesty to over 3 million undocumented residents.

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gave up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants a path to legalization if they had been “continuously” present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 (The Hill).

The IRCA was not without issues, forcing the government to deport the immediate family members of those who were covered under the new order.

President George H.W. Bush followed up the IRCA with a “family fairness” policy that would close the loophole in the IRCA in turn protecting another 1.5 million aspiring Americans. The combination of the “family fairness” policy and President Reagan’s executive action provided amnesty to over 40% of the undocumented population living in the United States.

President Obama’s proposal to some seems extreme, however it would cover approximately 40% of the undocumented population currently residing in the United States.

The battle is set to begin tonight as President Obama lays out his plan to help millions of aspiring Americans.

The current government funding extension will expire on December 11th and we will have to wait to see if the Republicans will harm millions of Americans in their opposition to the President by completely shutting down the government.

 

Related Articles:

When Reagan and GHW Bush took bold executive action on immigration.

The American Immigration Council And The AFL-CIO Push For An Executive Order On Immigration

Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million

Groups Sue Federal Government Over Failure To Provide Legal Representation For Children Placed Into Deportation Proceedings

Gavel

Editor’s Note: This post comes from the American Immigration Council 

Washington D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today Immigration Policy Center logofiled a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a “humanitarian situation.” And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

“If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone.”

The plaintiffs in this case include:

  • A 10-year-old boy, his 13-year-old brother, and 15-year-old sister from El Salvador, whose father was murdered in front of their eyes. The father was targeted because he and the mother ran a rehabilitation center for people trying to leave gangs.
  • A 14-year-old girl who had been living with her grandparents, but was forced to flee El Salvador after being threatened and then attacked by gang members.
  • A 15-year-old boy who was abandoned and abused in Guatemala, and came to the United States without any family or friends.
  • A 16-year-old boy born in Mexico who has lived here since he was 1 year old and has had lawful status since June 2010.
  • A 16-year-old boy with limited communication skills and special education issues who escaped brutal violence exacted on his family in Honduras, and who has lived in Southern California since he was 8 years old.
  • A 17-year-old boy who fled gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala and now lives with his lawful permanent resident father in Los Angeles.

All are scheduled to appear at deportation hearings without any legal representation and face a very real risk of being sent back into the perilous circumstances they left.

While the Obama Administration recently announced a limited program to provide legal assistance to some youth facing deportation hearings, this proposal does not come close to meeting the urgent need for legal representation for all children whom the government wants to deport. And there is no guarantee that additional funding proposed by the administration yesterday will materialize or meet the overwhelming need. In the meantime, children continue to appear alone in court every day.

“While our law firm, and others around the country, provide free legal services to children facing the injustice of appearing alone in court, we can help only a small fraction of the children in need,” said Theo Angelis, a partner at K&L Gates LLP.

Kristen Jackson, senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, a not-for-profit law firm that works with immigrant children, added, “Each day, we are contacted by children in desperate need of lawyers to advocate for them in their deportation proceedings. Pro bono efforts have been valiant, but they will never fully meet the increasing and complex needs these children present. The time has come for our government to recognize our Constitution’s promise of fairness and its duty to give these children a real voice in court.”

The complaint charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide children with legal representation in their deportation hearings.

“Deportation carries serious consequences for children, whether it is return to a country they fled because of violence and persecution or being separated from their homes and families. Yet children are forced into immigration court without representation – a basic protection most would assume is required whenever someone’s liberty is at stake. Requiring children to fight against deportation without a lawyer is incompatible with American values of due process and justice for all,” said Beth Werlin, deputy legal director for the American Immigration Council.

“It is simply unacceptable that children are forced to stand alone before an immigration judge, pitted against trained attorneys from the federal government,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Any notion of justice or fair play requires that these children be provided legal representation.”

The case, J.E.F.M. v. Holder, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash.

  • The Complaint is available at: http://legalactioncenter.org/sites/default/files/Counsel%20Complaint.pdf

More information about this case is available here.

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