Washington D.C. - After decades of congressional neglect, tonight President Obama took a crucial and courageous step toward reforming our immigration system. He announced that he will provide immediate relief for many of those impacted by of our broken system, and he is offering Congress an architecture for the permanent reforms that our country desperately needs.
Under the new policies announced, the Obama Administration will build on the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by providing temporary relief for the parents of U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents. The new program, to be called Deferred Action for Parents (DAP), will ensure that millions of U.S. Citizen and lawful permanent resident children will remain unified with their parents. The President also announced new enforcement policies and steps to improve the adjudication of business and family visas.
Mindful that the full impact of the President’s announcement will reveal itself in the months ahead, the American Immigration Council will keep a close watch over how the agencies administer these new policies. We will work to ensure that they are implemented in a way that respects fundamental principles of fairness and due process.
Washington D.C. – From the perspective of immigration reformers, Tuesday’s election is unlikely to change the gridlock that has stymied immigration reform for more than 15 years. Since at least 1998, there has been bipartisan agreement that our current immigration system is broken and that Congress must act to fix it. Since then, regardless of who has controlled Congress or the White House, the country has been waiting for the political stars to align in such a way as to make immigration reform a reality. In the meantime, families have been torn apart and our economy has been denied a powerful tool for innovation and entrepreneurship. The reason is clear. Too few of America’s lawmakers have the courage to lead on immigration and too many are content to play politics with this critical issue.
Despite the threat (and likelihood) of political tantrums from those who have consistently blocked reform, the most likely catalyst for change on immigration at this point is bold, decisive leadership by the President of the United States, who re-affirmed yesterday that he would “take whatever lawful actions I can take” by the end of the year.
President Obama can and must show the way forward by using the tools at his disposal to fix as much of our broken immigration system as he can, and to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants who have built their lives here and contribute to our society and economy, but have no means of attaining legal status under our outdated immigration system.
Washington D.C. - Understanding the complexities of immigration law and its intersection with criminal law is not easy. Over the past month, a flood of reports about enforcement policies and deportation data have compounded the confusion. Some of these reports were clearly designed to derail genuine and productive conversations around immigration policy reform. Case in point, this week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a paper that claims over 36,000 “criminal aliens” were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse, by Daniel E. Martinez, Ph.D., Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D., and Walter A. Ewing, Ph.D., areport that analyzes complaints filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection between 2009 and 2012. The analysis is based on information received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. The report examines one of the few avenues available for people to report mistreatment by Border Patrol agents - namely, the complaint system. For a long time, advocates and legal providers on the border have highlighted the flaws in the complaint system. This report is the first systematic attempt to document the problem in a rigorous way. In addition, a coalition of immigrants' rights groups has developed and released recommendations to DHS to address the CBP Complaint Process.
Washington D.C. – Today the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a new report that makes a range of false claims about deportation data. Following is a statement from Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, in response to “Catch and Release: Interior Immigration Enforcement in 2013”
Washington D.C. -Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said:
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner reassured the far-right wing of the Republican Party and anti-immigrant activists that he would never agree to a conference to hammer out an agreement on a House immigration bill and S. 744, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that passed in June. While that statement may have been reassuring to a few die-hard anti-immigration reform activists, it had the opposite effect for the vast majority of Americans. The Speaker’s statement does not stop the clock on the economic, social, and societal costs of doing nothing on immigration. It also does not honor the hard work of Democrats and Republicans who have worked in good faith to pass the Senate bill and negotiate on various fronts in the House.
However, what Speaker Boehner's statement does do is open the door to more protests and public outrage, encourage states to continue to take the lead on immigration policy and leave the administration in the difficult situation of deciding how long they will let Congressional inaction continue before they will intervene. When Congress refuses to act they make themselves less relevant and reinforce the idea that they cannot work constructively to fix our nation's most pressing problems.
Thus, rather than tamp down the flames of reform, the Speaker’s statements will embolden those who will work to fix immigration policy on their own - for better or worse. It’s inevitable that immigration reform will happen it’s just a matter of how much our economy, communities, and the Republican Party will lose in the meantime
Washington D.C. - Today, in an important effort to keep the conversation and momentum on immigration reform moving forward in the House, a group of centrist Democrats introduced their version of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Although the full text has not yet been made available, it is said to be a modification of the bipartisan Senate bill of the same name adopted earlier this year. Among other reported changes, the House bill takes a different path on border security, incorporating a bill introduced by Republican Congressman Mike McCaul which passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Homeland Security in May of 2013. The House sponsors—including Representatives Garcia, Chu, Polis, DelBene, and Horsford—adopted provisions of the McCaul-Thompson bill as a replacement for the costly, controversial “border surge” strategy adopted by the Senate under the Corker-Hoeven amendment.
Substantively, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced today reflects a series of bipartisan policy and political compromises made during deliberations in the Senate. The original co-sponsors represent diverse interests from within the Democratic Party, including the New Democrats Coalition, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
The following is a statement from the American Immigration Council’s Executive Director, Benjamin Johnson:
Washington D.C. - Today, on the one-year anniversary of USCIS’ implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Immigration Policy Center, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, releases early findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP)—a longitudinal mixed-methods study of the impact of DACA on the educational, labor market, health, and civic engagement outcomes of young adult immigrants.
While the DACA program does not provide permanent legal status or a path to citizenship, it does provide a two-year renewable grant of deferral from deportation for certain young immigrants and allows them to apply for work permits and social security cards. The research finds that DACA is increasing their opportunities for economic and social incorporation. According to the survey, many recipients also seek further social integration beyond DACA. In fact, almost all DACA recipients indicate that they would apply for U.S. citizenship if given the opportunity. The study also shows that DACA recipients are often fearful that family members and friends could be deported at any time.
Overall, the research indicates that although DACA opens up some economic opportunities for young aspiring Americans, it does not address the constant threat of deportation still facing those closest to them, including mothers, fathers, and siblings.
Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council applauds the U.S. Senate for passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 744) by a vote of 68-32 (including 14 Republicans). This vote reflects how far the country has come in understanding the significance of immigration reform to the health and well-being of the nation as a whole. Regardless of what may come next, today’s vote reflects the irrefutable fact that the social and economic benefits of immigration reform are tangible and achievable. There will be much work ahead to continue to perfect the policies reflected in this bill. But for the moment, we should thank the Senate, led by the Gang of Eight, for the courage and vision to finally move the country forward on immigration.
“Today’s vote is a game-changer. The debate around immigration reform is forever changed, the notion that the Senate cannot act on immigration is a thing of the past, and now we know that it is possible to find bi-partisan agreement on an issue once deemed toxic,” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
“There is little doubt that today’s vote offers the country a chance to start again on immigration. While the compromises necessary to achieve a significant bipartisan vote were many, this is a lesson for us all in democracy—we can respect deep disagreements on policy grounds, yet still find a way forward. The Senate should be commended for giving us all a chance to change the conversation on immigration,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.