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What does “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” Mean?

Posted in Immigration on November 16th, 2012 by prernalal
Tags: CIR, It Gets Better

There is a lot of talk for bringing back the dead “comprehensive immigration reform” now that President Obama has won re-election and slain the immigrant-hating tea-party dragon. Of course, the enthusiasm is amusing given the President’s own dismal immigration rights record — record-high deportations, presiding over the war on immigrants through massive expansion of Secure Communities, and a booming migrant-private prison industrial complex. Except for some administrative memos on “deferred action for childhood arrivals” – a stay on deportation for certain young undocumented immigrants, the President did nothing for immigration in his first term.

And yet, one can hardly ignore the enthusiasm for change, especially since the Republicans are hungry to win back Latino voters (and somehow they think supporting immigration reform is all they need to do in a country undergoing extraordinary demographic change).

Most people throw out the words “comprehensive immigration reform” without really knowing or explaining what that means. We know from past Congressional proposals that it looks terrible, with a 90% enforcement agenda. We also know from current talks that the politicos are not interested in putting forward a human-rights first agenda.

If you are looking for a place to start, you start on the offensive, you start on the Left. I suggest people think about these principles, which were drafted by the team at The Sanctuary several years ago, and which I have tweaked for slight updates.

1. Secure the borders by first ensuring that the vast majority of intending migrants have the ability and opportunity to legally enter the country through legal ports of entry by increasing the availability and equitable distribution of green cards. This would curtail the flow of migration through illegal channels. Only after that, should enforcement begin to ensure compliance, or any work to physically secure the border take place.
2. Address the root causes of migration, and change US policy so that it doesn’t foster and produce conditions that force hundreds of thousands of people each year to leave their countries of origin in order to simply survive. This includes changing current trade policies, military policies, and foreign aid agreements to not only bolster workers rights here and abroad, but also to their ability to foster economic progress and social justice for the working class and poor in sender nations.
3. Formulate a reasonable, humane, fair and practical method for determining the levels of immigration going forward. Establish an independent commission free from the pressures of political expediency and business interests to review all the pertinent data and set admission numbers based on labor, economic, social, and humanitarian needs.
4. Provide a pathway to legalization for all current undocumented migrants living and working in the US, free of restrictions based on country of origin, economic status, education, length of residency, or any other enforcement criteria through “suspension of deportation.”
5. Approach the hiring of workers illegally from the standpoint of labor rights by increasing the focus on enforcement of all labor and employment laws. This includes increasing penalties on employers who engage in unfair or illegal labor practices by undercutting labor and minimum wage laws. Increase funding for government oversight and inspection of workplaces.
6. Foster an immigration policy that strengthens the middle and working class through encouraging unionization, increased naturalization, and immigrant participation in the electoral process.
7. Include the language of the DREAM Act that would allow children and young adults brought here as children, and raised in the US, a conditional path to citizenship in exchange for a mandatory two years in higher education or community service.
8. Include the language of the Uniting American Families Act that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow not just spouses but permanent partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, including same-sex partners, to obtain permanent residency.
9. Include the language of the AgJobs bill that seeks to relieve chronic farm labor shortages by supplying undocumented migrant agricultural workers a legal opportunity to enter the county and a path to legal status and eventual citizenship. It also bolsters labor rights and protects workers from exploitation.
10. Include the language of the STEM bill to retain highly, educated professionals in the United States.
11. Repeal the sections of the 1996 law that redefined vast numbers of crimes as deportable offense when committed by immigrants. Make punishments of immigration crimes commensurate with comparable crimes in other areas of the law. Eliminate the ominous “crimes involving moral turpitude.” A misdemeanor or civil violation of immigration law should not carry with it a punishment that would be comparable to a felony in a criminal case.
12. Repeal the sections of the 1996 law that imposed the three and ten years bars for unlawful presence.
13. Raise government oversight of detention centers, create alternatives to detention for vulnerable populations, and end mandatory detention of all migrants for immigration violations not related to violent crimes.
14. Make family reunification simpler by expanding the “immediate family” classification to reflect the cultural realities of many non-western or traditional societies.
15. Recognize that deportation is not just a collateral consequence of a crime and reform removal proceedings to create a right to counsel provided at government expense, and restore discretion to Immigration Judges to dismiss cases.
16. End policies and programs that rely upon state and local law enforcement agencies to usurp the role of the federal government and engage in the enforcement of federal immigrations codes.
17. Bring U.S. immigration law in line with international human rights law by reforming asylum and refugee law to eliminate the one-year bar, add gender and sexual orientation as qualifying persecuted groups, strengthen protections for children, crime victims, and victims of human trafficking
18. Modernize and streamline the immigration process and eliminate the backlogs for those already in the queue. Simplify the paperwork process and utilize technology to cut wait times and bureaucratic delays.
19. End, or raise, the per-country cap that favors smaller nations with fewer immigrant applicants over larger developing nations and those countries that have long traditional ties to the US.
20. Update the Registry Date in Sec 249 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to 2002, and impose a statue of limitations on being undocumented in the United States such that any person who has continuously lived in the U.S. for ten years, pays taxes and has “good moral character” should be allowed to apply for permanent residency.

Promueve la diversidad dentro de nuestra propia comunidad hispana en cualquier lugar de EE.UU. / Promote diversity even among our own Hispanic Community anywhere in the USA.

Posts: 662
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'Gang of 8' Senate Blueprint Provides No Real Pathway to Citizenship


Rubén Castilla Herrera - Latin@ Intersection Circle - 614-571-1750

Promueve la diversidad dentro de nuestra propia comunidad hispana en cualquier lugar de EE.UU. / Promote diversity even among our own Hispanic Community anywhere in the USA.

Posts: 662
Reply with quote  #3 


Los Angeles Times


Senators agree on immigration overhaul plan

The bipartisan group's proposal would grant legal status to most of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.


By Brian Bennett and Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau

January 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

— A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a plan to grant legal status to most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., which could form the basis for a far-reaching overhaul of immigration laws this year.

The Senate blueprint, drafted during weeks of closed-door meetings by leading senators from each party, will probably set parameters for a contentious legislative battle over the next several months. The eight senators involved intend to release their proposal publicly Monday. A copy was provided to The Times' Washington bureau on Sunday by Senate aides.

The Senate plan is more conservative than President Obama's proposal, which he plans to unveil Tuesday in a speech in Las Vegas. But its provisions for legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants go further than measures that failed to advance in Congress in previous years — a reminder of how swiftly the politics of immigration have shifted since Latino voters' strong influence in the November election.

In terms of the number of people who would potentially receive legal status, it would be more than three times larger than the amnesty plan passed under President Reagan in 1986, which legalized about 3 million immigrants.

The senators involved hope to begin committee votes on a bill as soon as March. The timing of their proposal and Obama's, coupled with that schedule — quick by Senate standards — could set up a dynamic in which an eventual bill falls somewhere between the bipartisan plan and the president's.

Latino activists and other advocates for comprehensive immigration reform have pushed for quick action in the Senate, hoping that a large bipartisan vote for a bill that includes a path to citizenship would put pressure on the House.

Many members of the House Republican majority represent districts where proposals for legalization remain highly unpopular, but many Republicans also worry about the political price if the party takes the blame for killing immigration reform.

The Senate proposal would allow most of those in the country illegally to obtain probationary legal status immediately by paying a fine and back taxes and passing a background check. That would make them eligible to work and live in the U.S. They could earn a green card — permanent residency — after the government certifies that the U.S.-Mexican border has become secure, but might face a lengthy process before becoming citizens.

Obama is expected to push for a faster citizenship process that would not be conditional on border security standards being met first. The structure of the citizenship process will probably be among the most hotly debated parts of any immigration plan.

Less-controversial provisions would tighten requirements on employers to check the immigration status of new workers; increase the number of visas for high-skilled jobs; provide green cards automatically to people who earn master's degrees or PhDs in science, technology or math at U.S. universities; and create an agricultural guest-worker program.

On Sunday, a White House spokesman said the president was "pleased that progress is being made with bipartisan support."

"At the same time, he will not be satisfied until there is meaningful reform, and he will continue to urge Congress to act," Obama spokesman Clark Stevens said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer(D-N.Y.), who heads the Senate subcommittee that handles immigration legislation, briefed the White House on Sunday, according to a Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The eight senators scrambled over the weekend to come to an agreement before Obama unveiled his plan, hoping to head off any potential Republican backlash against a White House proposal and show common ground.

At a news conference Sunday in New York, Schumer noted that "the devil is in the details," but said that he and the other senators in the group had made good progress.

"I'm impressed with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle over their desire to meet in the middle. We can't pass it without both Democrats and Republicans," said Schumer, adding that he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had "developed a little bit of a friendship" during the negotiations.

The group has met in person five times in Washington since the November election, alternating between the Capitol Hill offices of Schumer and McCain. Participants include Democrats Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Rubio, a conservative favorite widely seen as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, was asked to join the Senate group in early December. In their discussions, Rubio focused on strengthening employee-verification provisions and improving border security before the new class of immigrants could be eligible for citizenship, a Senate aide said.

So far, the group has negotiated legislative language on implementing the legalization program and on increasing border security, said a Senate aide familiar with the discussions. The senators will turn their attention next to details on how to increase the flow of legal immigration to reduce the incentive for illegal border crossings, the aide said.

One sticking point could be how the government decides the border is secure — the determination that would trigger the provisions allowing citizenship.

The senators have proposed a commission of border-state governors, attorneys general and community leaders to monitor border security. But if the government fails to meet the panel's standard, those granted the new probationary legal status could be living indefinitely as a second class of Americans, allowed to remain in the U.S. but unable to vote, enroll in Medicare or receive federal student loans.

Another issue involves establishing an exit-visa system to track when people leave the country. The proposal calls for exit visas at seaports and airports, but does not specify whether they also would be required at land border crossings, which could be considerably more expensive. A system for tracking when people leave is a priority for the senators, because about 40% of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants entered with a legal visa and overstayed.

Even before the bipartisan plan's release, immigration experts have said the chances for reform are better than in previous years.

"When both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are talking about the issue in calm tones but with a sense of urgency, that is the makings for legislative action," said Angela Kelley, an expert on immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

Both the White House and lawmakers seem to be moving fast to get a bill introduced, Kelley said, adding: "The players are about as caffeinated as I've seen them."



Christi Parsons in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times



Promueve la diversidad dentro de nuestra propia comunidad hispana en cualquier lugar de EE.UU. / Promote diversity even among our own Hispanic Community anywhere in the USA.
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