Fw: Immigration Policy Update
--- On Tue, 6/30/09, Maurice Belanger, National Immigration Forum <mbelanger@...> wrote:
From: Maurice Belanger, National Immigration Forum <mbelanger@...>
Subject: Immigration Policy Update
Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 7:02 AM
Congress is in recess this week for the 4th of July holiday.
Update on the comprehensive immigration reform debate
President Obama meets with Members of Congress: On June 25th, President Obama met with Members of Congress to discuss immigration reform. According to reports from the meeting, the President was clear about his desire to get comprehensive reform done. The meeting did not get in to details about what would be included in a comprehensive reform package; it was more about the politics, and the need for both parties to work on this together.
In terms of a timeline, debate on legislation should begin later this year or early next year, with both the House and the Senate working on the bill at the same time.
The meeting included Members of Congress with a broad range of views. There were members who have been very outspoken in support of comprehensive reform, such as Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, as well as vocal opponents, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Lamar Smith (who nevertheless are their party's ranking members in the Judiciary Committees of the Senate and House). Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Zoe Lofgren were also in the room. These two are the Chairs of the immigration subcommittees in the House and Senate, and the legislative debate will start, when it does, in those subcommittees.
A complete list of meeting attendees can be found here:
The President, in his remarks after the meeting, said his administration "is fully behind an effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform," which includes an "effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here." DHS Secretary Napolitano has been assigned to lead a working group, to meet with leaders in the House and the Senate to start "systematically working through" the various issues making up the elements of reform.
The full remarks by the President can be found here:http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-after-meeting-with-members-of-Congress-to-discuss-immigration/
A blog post about the meeting by Ali Noorani of the Forum can be found here:
Senator Schumer delivers address on comprehensive immigration reform: The day before the White House meeting, Senator Charles Schumer, who chairs the Senate's immigration subcommittee, gave a speech at a conference organized by the Migration Policy Institute. Mr. Schumer said that if he did not believe immigration reform could be accomplished this year, he would never have chosen to lead the immigration subcommittee.
In his remarks, Sen. Schumer laid out his "seven key principles that the American people overwhelmingly support" for immigration reform. These include the curtailing of future illegal immigration; gaining operational control of our border; the adoption of a biometric-based employer verification system; requiring undocumented immigrants to register and submit to a process of converting to legal status; creating more room for family-based and employment-based immigration by reducing illegal immigration; encouraging the world's best and brightest to come here, while discouraging businesses from using foreigners to replace capable American workers; the creation of a manageable, controlled legal flow of unskilled immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy.
Schumer stressed that "the American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe that their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration." He also acknowledged that "our border is far more secure today than it was when we began debating comprehensive immigration reform in 2005" and so it was time "for those who reflexively parrot the 'border first' mantra to re-engage" in the reform debate. While the American people want immigration control, they are also "strongly against turning their country into a 'roundup republic'." Expelling millions of people is something the public understands to be impractical and undesirable.
Sen. Schumer noted that his subcommittee has already held two hearings on topics included in comprehensive reform, and he will hold two more hearings in July. One will vet different proposals for a biometric-based employment verification system, something Mr. Schumer has long advocated.
His entire remarks can be read here:
Senator Reid reiterates his commitment: While some White House spokespersons have expressed skepticism about the ability of Congress to pass immigration reform this year, Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader in the Senate, has insisted that the Senate does indeed have the votes to proceed with comprehensive reform. He has said that the main problem will be finding the Senate floor time to debate the bill before the end of the year.
In the Senate, bills can face dozens of amendments, each with Senators speaking for and against, and this can take up a lot of the Senate's time. For example, the DHS Appropriations bill, which allocates funds to the Department of Homeland Security and has been passed by the House, may take up a week of Senate floor time when Congress returns in July.
Next steps in the Congressional arena will be to hold further hearings, such as those that will be held by Sen. Schumer's subcommittee, and to draft a bill.
Center for American Progress releases principles for immigration reform: Another event that made last week notable for immigration was the release by the Center for American Progress (CAP) of their Principles for Immigration Reform. Over the past several months, comprehensive immigration reform has been gaining support among progressive think tanks and in the progressive blogosphere. CAP will be an important player in the months ahead as we make the case for comprehensive immigration reform.
DHS Appropriations: On June 24th, the House passed the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Highlights relating to immigration were reported in a previous update. The House report accompanying the bill can be found on-line here:
In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee has passed its own version of the DHS appropriations bill. This bill allocates $11.6 billion to Customs and Border Protection, including funding for 20,063 Border Patrol agents and $800 million for fencing, infrastructure, sensors, surveillance, and other technology on the border. $5.7 billion is allocated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including $139 million for worksite enforcement; $36.2 million for 33,400 detention beds; $230 million for Fugitive Operations teams; and $195 million for the Secure Communities program. For USCIS, $118.5 million is allocated for E-Verify. The administration requested $206 million for the processing of refugee and asylum applications and military naturalization applications, to reduce the surcharge burden on other immigration applications. The Senate allocated just $5 million for the processing of military naturalization applications. The remainder of the $206 million the administration requested was not included. (The House allocated $100 million.) The $10 million initiative for immigrant integration the administration requested was also not included. The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor the week of June 6.
You can find the Committee's report explaining its allocations here:
DREAM Act: On June 23rd, approximately 500 DREAM Act student activists were in Washington for a mock "graduation ceremony" and lobby visits on the hill. These students had a lot of compelling stories to tell, and they had some success in bumping up the number of co-sponsors of the DREAM Act in the House. Six new members signed on to the bill on that day. As of this writing, there are now 23 co-sponsors in the Senate and 80 co-sponsors in the House.
For more on the DREAM Act ceremony, see our blog post here:
Links to more information on the DREAM Act can be found on our DREAM Act legislation page:
A Miami Herald Editorial on the DREAM Act was published on June 26th:
Job Opening: The American Immigration Lawyers Association is currently looking for an Executive Director. For more information on the position, including a link to the full job description, go to AILA's Web site here:
Jeanne Butterfield, who has been Director of AILA since 1996, will be coming to the Forum to serve as senior advisor for the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America.
Use your cell phone to win immigration reform: The Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America can send alerts to your cell phone. To receive alerts, text "justice" (or "justicia" for Spanish-language alerts) to 69866. See this flyer for more information:
To get e-mail updates on the Campaign, sign up on the Campaign's Web site:
New on our Web site
In addition to the blog posts mentioned above, new additions on our Web site include:
- a blog post by Ali Noorani, who encountered a sign of support for immigration reform while walking his dog in his neighborhood:
- a post by Katherine Vargas, about the issues, especially the economic issues, that were raised recently when Ali Noorani appeared on the Fox network's O'Reilly Factor:
- A recording of our recent telephonic press conference, "'Opening Bell' On Moving Comprehensive Immigration Reform Forward." The day before the President's meeting with Members of Congress, the Forum gathered a diverse group of experts to set the context for this meeting. You can get the recording of the Press Conference, on this page:
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