April 30, 2006
A Message about May 1 Events, Boycotts, Walkouts, and Strikes from AILA President Deborah Notkin
A focus of the grassroots immigration movement has started to turn towards certain events planned around the country for May 1 -- one of which is the "Great American Boycott 2006." The organizers of this event are urging, among other things, walkouts at work and schools, boycotts of products, etc. Because we have started to receive questions from the membership and coalition partners about where AILA stands on these issues, we wanted to briefly lay out the Association's position on the subject.
Obviously, we are all invigorated by the historic marches, rallies, and peaceful demonstrations throughout the country that push for comprehensive reform and the preservation/improvement/creation of due process. However, AILA, as a professional bar association, has never sponsored boycotts and believes that our goals can best be achieved through continued work, in close concert with our coalition partners, on grassroots and legislative strategies designed to bring meaningful positive immigration reform. While AILA as an organization does not use such tools as boycotts, we strongly support numerous other activities and events scheduled for May 1st and the surrounding days such as: interfaith vigils, voter registration drives, college teach-ins, town hall meetings, congressional and media contacts, and academic fora on the subject of positive immigration reform. Some of our members may be planning to participate in or support the "Great American Boycott 2006," which is of course, their right, privilege, and choice. However, those members who choose to do so should be careful not to do so in the name of AILA or any AILA chapter.
We believe that the overwhelming positive energy we have seen throughout the country in the past several weeks has created amazing opportunities to further educate the public about immigrants' rights and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We are in the midst of an historic social movement and we want to do everything possible to maintain the positive energy generated to date to ensure tangible legislative relief for immigrants.
April 29, 2006
Know Your Rights - Can an Employer Fire an Employee Because the Employee Participated in an Immigration Rally?
The law firm of Dorsey and Whitney, LLP has produced an informative pamphlet that outlines both the legal rights of employees who are terminated for attending immigration rallies and the legal rights of employers who seek to terminate employees for leaving work to participate in advocacy events. While this information is not meant to provide legal advice, it may help you educate your clients about their rights in this situation.
Recently, people from across the country missed work to participate in immigration rallies. Unfortunately, a number of these individuals lost their jobs. These recent events have many wondering whether an employer can lawfully terminate an employee for missing work to attend an immigration rally. This pamphlet provides a general overview of the law. It is not intended to provide legal advice.
Employees have the right to join together in an attempt to improve their wages, hours and other employment conditions. This right, however, does not permit employees to be late for work or to miss work. In most situations, an employer can fire an employee when the employee is absent without permission, even when the employee misses work to exercise her legal rights.
Students Need Your Help!
Tens of thousands of high school students have participated in school walk-outs to draw attention to comprehensive immigration reform. Their successes are well documented in national and local media. Sadly, many students are facing disciplinary and criminal action as a result of walking out of school. These students are in need of legal counsel and all participants need to know their rights. You can help! Please visit the National Lawyers Guild's new website and learn how you can volunteer your time to help the student movement.
The National Lawyers Guild and other local legal organizations have established the http://schoolwalkouts.info website in order to assist students, teachers and parents who have been affected by the recent student walk-outs in Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
April 28, 2006
Recruit 3 People to Help Keep the Pressure on Senators to Continue Immigration Debate on Senate Floor!
More pro-immigration voices need to be heard in Senate offices! Recruit at least 3 of your clients, colleagues, and friends to contact your Senators about the need for fair and workable comprehensive immigration reform! Your US Senators as well as Senate Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Reid need to hear from your 3 recruits this week! Tell your recruits to remind these elected officials that immigration reform is a national priority that needs to be dealt with immediately after they deal with the scheduled votes on appropriations bills.
We are deeply disappointed with Senate Leadership for fumbling the Hagel/Martinez compromise when it was so close to reaching the Senate floor for consideration. AILA calls on Senators Frist and Reid to come back to the negotiating table, to work out acceptable procedural assurances that will allow the Hagel/Martinez compromise bill to move forward and be protected through any subsequent conference with the House Sensenbrenner bill. Please encourage your 3 recruits to share this message with Senators Frist and Reid as well as their own Senators. We need to hold all members of the Senate accountable for their failure to reach agreement on immigration reform. (Click here to view AILA's statement urging Senate Leadership to move forward with bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform)
Ask your recruits to spread the message that immigration reform must be comprehensive and that it must: deal adequately with the 11 million or more undocumented people living in the US; maintain the Judiciary Committee-passed amendments that provide for the DREAM Act and AgJobs; and minimize the harsh threats to due process included in Title II. More pro-immigration voices are needed to urge all Senators to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist can be reached in his Washington office at: (202) 224-3344
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid can be reached in his Washington office at: (202) 224-3542
Senate Votes to Increase Border Security Funding
From AILA on April 26, 2006;
The Senate adopted an amendment to the FY 2006 supplemental appropriations bill (HR 4939) that would increase border security funding by $1.9 billion. The amendment, offered by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), was adopted by a vote of 59-39. It would cut $1.9 billion from emergency defense funding in the measure and shift it to border security instead. An alternative proposal by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), which would have increased border security funding without decreasing defense spending, was defeated by a vote of 44-54. The Senate is expected to vote on passage of the supplemental appropriations package early next week.
April 27, 2006
In Senate Hearing 4 Leading Economists Unanimously Agreed, High Skill Immigration has Positive Impact on US Economy
Four of the nation's leading economists were invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the Economic Impact of Immigration. Professors Harry J. Holzer, Barry J. Chiswick, Richard B. Freeman, and AILF Fellow Dan Siciliano, read from prepared statements and also took questions from members of the Committee. Their commentary was overwhelmingly positive as evidenced by their unanimous agreement that high skilled immigration is beneficial to the US as we strive to maintain our competitive edge over other developed countries. In addition, three of the four panelists agreed that low skilled immigration has a net positive impact on the US economy.
Panelists also agreed that border enforcement alone will not solve the problems of our broken immigration system. A workable solution will provide both legal channels for immigrants who want to come and work in the United States and ways for current undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status.
Read the testimony on InfoNet at: http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?bc=19197
Further reading on the economic impact of immigration:
Immigrants, Skills, and Wages: Reassessing the Economic Gains from Immigration
The Economics of Necessity: Economic Report of the President Underscores the Importance of Immigration
Economic Growth & Immigration: Bridging the Demographic Divide
ICE Increases Sweep and Arrest Activity
Just in from AILA on April 26, 2006;
Following on the heels of the employer raids last week that made national headlines and resulted in the arrests of over 1,000 alleged undocumented workers, and the arrest and criminal indictment of several corporate managers, further reports are reaching AILA that ICE is conducting additional sweeps in communities in various parts of the country. This is consistent with DHS's announced intent to beef up enforcement of immigration laws within the U.S. as part of the Secure Border Initiative. It appears that there are two prongs to the interior actions: investigations of employers and sweeps looking for individual alien "absconders."
Reports from New York and New Jersey indicate that sweeps and arrests have taken place in Brentwood, Bay Shore, and Farmingville on Long Island, and in Newark, Elizabeth, and Willowbrook, and at the Garden State Plaza. The AP reported yesterday 183 arrests in Florida last week related to enforcement of deportation orders involving aliens convicted of crimes.
AILA is also hearing that ICE is conducting employer actions, including multi-state raids on specific companies, with reports from AILA members of employer clients being raided in New York, Ohio and Illinois.
At a press conference Thursday, April 20, 2006, announcing that week's raids and arrests, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff announced a crackdown on employers, saying: "We are looking at those people who adopt as a business model the systematic violation of U.S. laws," Chertoff said. "We are continuing to investigate other companies."
AILA will continue to monitor these events and update members as events unfold. AILF has just compiled and posted on InfoNet an Employer Sanctions and "Know Your Rights" resource list that provides links to important materials and information. In addition, AILA and AILF are working on an updated advisory for employers faced with workplace raids.
April 26, 2006
Bush, senators make immigration headway
Leading senators from both parties met with President Bush and said he delivered a breakthrough in negotiations for a comprehensive immigration bill this year.
In the Miami Herald there is an article by Dave Montgomery, email@example.com
WASHINGTON - President Bush delivered a breakthrough Tuesday in on-again, off-again efforts to push comprehensive immigration legislation through Congress this year, Senate leaders said after a White House meeting with the president.
Bush met with a bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators for an hour and went further than ever before in embracing the core ingredients of a sweeping bill that would grant citizenship to millions of undocumented workers, participants said.
With Bush's stance, the senators expressed confidence the compromise will pass the Senate by the end of next month. Hard work lies ahead after that, however, in reconciling the Senate version with a tough border-enforcement-only bill passed in December by the House.
In a statement issued after he had met the senators, Bush said: ``I strongly believe that we have a chance to get an immigration bill that is comprehensive in nature to my desk before the end of this year.''
April 25, 2006
Send a Letter Urging Your Senators to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Ask your Senators to move forward with S. 2611
The clock is ticking for immigration reform legislation. If the Senate doesn’t return to immigration reform by the end of May, it is unlikely to act on any of the bipartisan proposals during this Congress.
Although some have argued that the current stalemate is the best result we can hope for this year, we believe it is far too early and too dangerous to throw in the towel at this juncture. CIR opponents have vowed to start tacking enforcement provisions from the various bills onto "must-pass" legislation. If the Senate fails to pass a bi-partisan bill that signals its strong support for a comprehensive solution, it will weaken our ability to defeat piecemeal anti-due process amendments to appropriations bills during this election season. A polarized impasse over real reform is precisely what the restrictionists seek in order to pave the way for their "death by a thousand cuts" legislative strategy. By continuing to move the Senate debate down a comprehensive track, we can help neutralize the prospects of an enforcement-only frenzy later this year.
We are at a critical crossroads in this debate over immigration. Please send a letter to your Senators urging them to schedule Senate action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Contact your Senators now, before time runs out!
Go to Contact Congress at; http://capwiz.com/aila2/home/
April 24, 2006
Agencies struggle to get a handle on illegal immigrants
By Brian Friel, National Journal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year, the government had a banner year in kicking out illegal immigrants. By spending billions of dollars on apprehension, detention, and legal processing, by devoting millions of staff hours to the effort, and by pushing through get-tough policy changes, the feds managed to deport a record 200,000 foreigners.
That's the equivalent of deporting the entire population of Montgomery, Ala. Of course, immigrants residing illegally in the United States now number 12 million, equivalent to the combined populations of New York City and Chicago. Every year, another 500,000 come in and stay illegally.
This document is located at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0406/041406nj2.htm
April 23, 2006
Immigrants Divided on Boycott
This article is from the Los Angeles Times;
One advocacy group calls for a May 1 walkout while another urges protesters to go to work and classes first. By Teresa Watanabe and Anna Gorman, Times Staff Writers, April 20, 2006
"Sharp divisions are emerging among organizers of the pro-immigrant rallies that brought hundreds of thousands of marchers into the streets across the nation, with two leading coalitions calling for starkly different approaches to the next major action scheduled for May 1.
In separate Los Angeles news conferences Wednesday, the March 25 Coalition of 100 political and immigrant rights organizations reiterated its call for a boycott of work, school and consumer activity to demonstrate immigrants' economic power.
But the We Are America coalition — which includes the Roman Catholic Church and 125 labor, business and immigrant advocacy groups — urged people to attend a rally after work and school".
April 22, 2006
Farmers Say They've Got Fruit but No Labor
There is an article about the shortage of agricultural workers in the Los Angeles Times;
In Washington state, migrants increasingly pass up apple orchards for better-paying jobs. By Miguel Bustillo, Times Staff Writer, April 17, 2006.
YAKIMA, Wash. — While much of the country frets about too many illegal immigrants, farmers in this famed apple-growing region east of the Cascade Range complain they can no longer find enough.
During the last two years, Yakima-area apple growers were so short of the migrant field hands they rely on to prune and pick their prized crop that a few brought in workers from Thailand.
Others said they never did find enough workers and watched in anguish as precious fruit was left dangling on trees.
This summer, with farmers expecting a bountiful apple crop, they also predict that the worker shortage will worsen, threatening a hand-harvesting industry valued at more than $1.5 billion in Washington state. In the last big-crop year, growers employed an estimated 42,300 seasonal apple workers, according to state officials.
April 21, 2006
Raids in 26 states snare 9 managers, 1,100 employees
There is an article by SHEILA BURKE and AILENE TORRES, Tennessean Staff Writers describing the nation wide raids yesterday.
"Dozens of Nashville area employees were among more than 1,100 undocumented workers arrested this week in what was described as the opening salvo of a U.S. crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
The raids at more than 40 locations of IFCO Systems North American Inc., in 26 states also netted nine current and former managers of the company, which manufactures wooden crates and pallets....
The crackdown is a signal that the "status quo has changed, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday".
April 20, 2006
Keep the Pressure on Senators to Continue Immigration Debate on Senate Floor!
Your US Senators as well as Senate Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Reid need to hear from you this week. They are all home in their district offices until Monday. Take advantage of their down time and contact your Senators and members of the Senate Leadership before Congress reconvenes. When you call or visit, remind these elected officials that immigration reform is a national priority that needs to be dealt with immediately after they deal with the scheduled votes on appropriations bills.
We are deeply disappointed with Senate Leadership for fumbling the Hagel/Martinez compromise when it was so close to reaching the Senate floor for consideration. AILA calls on Senators Frist and Reid to come back to the negotiating table, to work out acceptable procedural assurances that will allow the Hagel/Martinez compromise bill to move forward and be protected through any subsequent conference with the House Sensenbrenner bill. Please share this message with Senators Frist and Reid as well as your own Senators. We need to hold all members of the Senate accountable for their failure to reach agreement on immigration reform.
Reiterate the message that immigration reform must be comprehensive and that it must: deal adequately with the 11 million or more undocumented people living in the US; maintain the Judiciary Committee-passed amendments that provide for the DREAM Act and AgJobs; and minimize the harsh threats to due process included in Title II. Make plans to call or meet with your Senators in their district offices over the next several days and urge them to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist can be reached in his Nashville office at: 615-352-9411
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid can be reached in his Carson City office at: 775-882-7343
MALDEF QUESTIONS CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW SIGNED BY GEORGIA GOVERNOR PERDUE
NEWS RELEASE CONTACT:
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION Tisha Tallman: (678) 559-1071
APRIL 17, 2006 Laura Rodriguez: (213) 629-2512 ext. 124
The absence of leadership from the Bush Administration has emboldened state and local legislators to enact immigration policies of their own.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Today the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the nation’s leading Latino legal organization, expressed strong disapproval in Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s decision to sign Senate Bill (SB) 529, "The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act", into law.
Tisha Tallman, Southeast Regional Counsel of MALDEF, announced her serious concern over Perdue’s decision. "This type of legislation does nothing to move us forward economically, culturally or socially, nor does it address Georgia’s labor demands that our immigrant brothers and sisters are currently filling," remarked Tallman. "Most importantly, we believe that the verification provisions included in SB 529 are unconstitutional and we will continue to prepare for potential litigation."
Among its provisions, SB 529 would require state and local government agencies to deny state and local benefits to people who are unable to verify their residence. The legislation also authorizes local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration and customs laws. "Local law enforcement of immigration laws by untrained officials can easily lead to racial profiling by police demanding documentation from individuals they perceive as "looking foreign" regardless of their citizenship or immigration status," added Tallman.
April 19, 2006
Top Federal Immigration Judge Leaves Attorney From L.A. Will Become His Successor
From the Daily Journal Newswire Articles at www.dailyjournal.com
© 2006 The Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.
IMMIGRATION • Apr. 07, 2006
By Sandra Hernandez, Daily Journal Staff Writer
"LOS ANGELES - The nation's top immigration judge is stepping down days after an official acknowledged that U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' investigation of immigration courts is winding down.
Michael Creppy will be replaced by David L. Neal, a former Los Angeles immigration attorney. Justice Department officials confirmed Thursday that Creppy is leaving after 12 years as the chief immigration judge. He will move in May to the office that oversees employer sanctions and document fraud".
Here Illegally, but Choosing to Pay Taxes
There is an article about taxes in the Los Angeles Times;
Some undocumented workers hope that by establishing a record of their time in the United States, it will be easier to gain citizenship later. By Anna Gorman, Times Staff Writer, April 17, 2006.
"They may be here illegally, but tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are expected to abide by Uncle Sam's rules by filing tax returns — with the hope of someday becoming U.S. citizens.
Though there is no way of knowing how many people are filing taxes in response to the national debate on immigration, Southern California tax preparers are seeing a steady stream of clients eager to be on record as taxpayers".
April 18, 2006
Boycott Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Depend, Pull Ups; Sensenbrenner is heir to Family Fortune
This is an action that we need to take starting today;
One person that will not be getting Hispanic votes in Wisconsin is Rep. James Sensenbrenner. The entire planet knows Sensenbrenner is the author/sponsor of HR 4437 which would turn 11 million undocumented immigrants into felons, punish anyone guilty of providing them assistance, and construct an iron wall between the US and Mexico.
What most Hispanics do not know is Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is heir to the family fortune of Kimberly Clark.
All Hispanics who purchase some of world's most recognized brands - Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend are putting money in Sensenbrenner’s bank account.
The brands are best sellers in more than 80 countries. In addition to USA Hispanics, Latinos buying brands bought all over Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia and the rest of Latin America should know who Sensenbrenner is. We need to tell every user of these brands it was Sensenbrenner who would turn 11 million undocumented immigrants into felons, punish anyone guilty of providing them assistance, and construct an iron wall between the US and Mexico.
Today is the first day of the Ax KC boycott. Please stop buying the products below. Tell everyone telephone, in your neighborhood and email everyone in your address book the products belong to the family of James Sensenbrenner.
Sensenbrenner wants to build a wall between the USA and Mexico. Now it our turn to build a wall around the Sensenbrenner products and for us not to enter. We need to tell everyone here and everywhere in Latin America to boycott Kimberly Clark products.
www.AxKC.net is where you will find the Kimberly Clark boycott.
April 17, 2006
USCIS Updates H-1B Cap Figures for Fiscal Year 2007
USCIS has updated its website with the figures for H-1B usage for fiscal year 2007 as of April 3, 2006. Since it began accepting applications on April 1, 2006, USCIS has approved 76 H-1B beneficiaries and 9 H-1B Advanced Degree beneficiaries. The respective caps are 58,200 for H-1B visas (with an additional 6,800 set aside for the H-1B1 program until October 1, 2006) and 20,000 for H-1B Advanced Degree visas. USCIS estimates the number of beneficiary applications needed to reach the cap, with an allowance for denials and revocations, at 61,000 for H-1Bs and 21,000 for H-1B Advanced Degrees. Periodic updates on new usage counts are available through AILA InfoNet at document #06041360: http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/tempbenefits/cap.htm.
April 16, 2006
Partisan Politics Breaks Down CIR Compromise; Thank Those Senators Who Worked to Reach Agreement
The Senate debate on immigration appears to have ended -- at least for now -- with Senators unable to reach agreement on how to proceed on the compromise agreement authored by Senators Martinez (R-FL) and Hagel (R-NE), which would have made changes to the provisions of the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill that provided a path to citizenship for the undocumented population and a temporary guestworker program for future flows. Those changes apparently had rendered the bill acceptable to certain Republicans who had opposed the initial Committee-passed version. While there seemed to be a consensus on substance, the deal apparently broke down over partisan politics and process.
AILA appreciates and applauds the determination of the many Senators who worked hard to negotiate a workable bipartisan compromise on immigration reform. Please contact these Senators and thank them for their efforts to overcome the partisan impasse:
Senator Brownback (202) 224-6521; Senator Graham (202) 224-5972; Senator Leahy (202) 224-4242; Senator McCain (202) 224-2235; Senator DeWine (202) 224-2315; Senator Hagel (202) 224-4224; Senator Lieberman (202) 224-4041; Senator Obama (202) 224-2854; Senator Durbin (202) 224-2152; Senator Kennedy (202) 224-4543; Senator Martinez (202) 224-3041; Senator Salazar (202) 224-5852.
The Senate debate will continue when Congress returns to Washington after the Spring Recess. Your Senators need to know that we want a realistic solution to the immigration problem. We need a bipartisan bill that puts policy before politics.
April 15, 2006
April 10 Events were over 1 MILLION strong!!
Initial estimates of Pro-Immigrant and Pro-Immigration Voices from the National Day of Action are: 500,000 in Dallas, 20,000 in San Diego, 7,000 in Miami, 4,000 in Birmingham, 300 in Berkeley, 5,000 in St. Louis, 4,000 in Boise, 20,000 in Salt Lake City, 2,000 in Santa Fe, 30,000 in St. Paul, 10,000 in Salem, 125,000 in New York, 50,000 in Atlanta, 10,000 in Houston, 25,000 in Madison, 500,000 in Washington D.C., 10,000 in Boston, 4,000 in Lincoln, 2,000 in Tyler, 200 in Champaign, 3,000 in Garden City, 300 in Jonesborough, 200 in Bloomington, 5,000 in Lexington, 1,000 in Dodge City, 1,000 in Norfolk, 1,000 in Pensacola, 10,000 in Philadelphia, 200 in Harlingen, 2,000 in Portland, 200 in Schaumburg, 3,500 in Columbia, 200 in Little Rock, 7,000 in Santa Ana, 100,000 in Phoenix, 12,000 in Tucson, 10,000 in Indianapolis.
The National Day of Action was sponsored by the National Capitol Immigration Coalition (NCIC) in partnership with organizations across the country.
April 14, 2006
DREAM Act is Included in Senate Judiciary Bill; Stand Alone House Bill Also Introduced
From the AILA PULSE, Advocacy Department;
Each year, children in the U.S. are prevented from pursuing their dreams of going to college because they have no legal immigration status. Despite the fact that many have grown up in the U.S., attended local schools, and demonstrated a sustained commitment to learn English and succeed in our educational system, our immigration laws provide no avenue for these students to legalize their status. Many of these children were brought to the U.S. by their parents at an age when they were too young to understand the legality of their arrival, let alone take action to rectify it.
As we previously reported, bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate in November 2005 (the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 2075)) would offer students who meet the legislation's rigorous requirements an opportunity to apply for legal status. In an important development, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the bill's primary sponsor, was successful in getting the DREAM Act attached to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 27. And while the Senate was ultimately unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation before recessing for 2 weeks, the DREAM Act remained in the various compromise versions of the bill that were negotiated throughout last week..
Equally important, companion legislation has now been introduced in the House. The bipartisan American Dream Act (H.R. 5131) was introduced on April 6 by Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), together with 12 original cosponsors. The House bill is nearly identical to the Senate version, with several minor technical changes. The House bill is supported by the United We DREAM Coalition.
April 13, 2006
Most Back Tighter Border and a Guest-Worker Plan
There is an article by Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer,
April 13, 2006 where he details support to fix the broken immigration system;
"WASHINGTON — Most Americans say the United States should confront the challenge of illegal immigration by both toughening border enforcement and creating a new guest-worker program rather than stiffening enforcement alone, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.
By a solid 2-1 margin, those surveyed said they would prefer such a comprehensive approach, which a bipartisan group of senators has proposed, to an enforcement-only strategy, which the House of Representatives approved in December. Support for a comprehensive approach was about the same among Democrats, independents and Republicans, the poll found".
April 12, 2006
Sample letter to send to your Senators and Representative in support of reasonable immigration reform
This letter is from Peter Schey at the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles;
Regarding Immigration Reform
This is to respectfully request that you:
• Oppose any compromise that cuts back on the already limited human and civil rights that immigrants possess in this country;
• Oppose any compromise that cut-backs on the critical role the federal courts have played for over 100 years protecting the fundamental human and civil rights of immigrants from unlawful and unconstitutional policies adopted by Government agencies;
• Oppose any compromise that will result in the mass and indefinite detention of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have committed no serious crimes;
• Oppose any compromise that cuts off traditional avenues for immigrants to legalize their status through family relationships, asylum, or approved job offers for positions U.S. workers are unavailable to fill;
• Oppose any compromise that includes a guest worker program without a mechanism for these workers to eventually apply for permanent resident status and full labor rights to prevent under-cutting U.S. workers;
• Oppose any compromise that increases the difficulties legitimate asylum seekers face in winning protection from return to countries where they face persecution;
• Oppose any compromise that further increases in the criminalization and militarization of the US-Mexico border, policies that have caused the deaths of thousands of immigrants crossing the border, substantially increased the dangers faced by border patrol officers, encouraged armed vigilantism, destroyed the infra-structure of border communities on both sides of the border, and done little to stop the flow of migrants.
• Oppose any compromise that criminalizes immigrants based upon their undocumented status.
• Support serious study by the Congress of immigration reform as took place prior to the enactment of the last major reform law in 1986 (the Immigration Reform and Control Act), when a Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy was constituted to come up with real solutions, not election year "bumper-sticker" solutions;
• Support a realistic long-term legalization program for undocumented immigrants, including a reasonable statute of limitations on illegal entry for productive otherwise law-abiding immigrants;
• Support dramatic and immediate reductions in the millions of backlogged visa petitions that keep immigrants in undocumented status for upwards of ten years;
• Support labor rights for all immigrant workers in order to reduce the preference employers have for undocumented workers precisely because they have fewer protections under U.S. labor laws than U.S. workers;
• Support greater protections for legitimate asylum seekers to avoid their being returned to countries where they face imprisonment, torture, and death;
• Support humane border enforcement using available technologies and enhanced border surveillance techniques without further criminalizing and militarizing the U.S.-Mexico border;
• Support prompt adjustment of status for the hundreds of thousands of Central American refugees, many of whom came here as a result of U.S. policies in Central America, who are languishing in a legal twilight zone after long-ago applying for ABC, TPS, or NACARA relief;
• Support legislation to curb and more consistently punish the activities of those who engage in violence against immigrants, including border vigilantes, traffickers, and perpetrators of domestic violence;
• Support legislation to rationally adjust per country visa quotas to take into account visa demand;
• Support legislation to repeal the three and ten-year bars that make immigrants who have been in the U.S. for six months in undocumented status ineligible for visas without returning to their home countries for three years, and those who have been here for one year or more in undocumented status ineligible to receive visas without returning to their home countries for ten years.
"An immigration system that forces people into the shadows of our society, or leaves them prey to criminals is a system that needs to be changed," President Bush said at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast recently. "I'm confident that we can change our immigration system in ways that secures our border, respects the rule of law, and, as importantly, upholds the decency of our country."
The President may be right. However, the last major legalization program was achieved in 1986 after careful study, hearings throughout the country, consideration of demographic and economic data on migration, consideration of a range of views held by migration experts, and public consultations with representatives of business, unions, religious groups, immigrant communities, law enforcement, and others. No such deliberative process has taken place with regards to the present Congressional proposals. Please do all that you can to see that it takes place now.
Phone number: _____________________________
April 11, 2006
Thousands Demonstrate Over Immigration
There is by Deepti Hajela, Associated Press Writer;
"NEW YORK - Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities from New York to San Diego on Monday in some of the most widespread demonstrations since the mass protests began around the country last month.
Rallies took place in communities of all sizes, from a gathering of at least 50,000 people in Atlanta to one involving 3,000 people in the farming town of Garden City, Kan., which has fewer than 30,000 residents".
April 10, 2006
Senate's Failure to Agree on Immigration Plan Angers Workers and Employers Alike
There is an interesting article in the New York Times by Abby Goodnough and Jennifer Steinhauer, published: April 9, 2006
“In interviews, employers and illegal workers said the bill would have offered significant improvement, and several said the failure of the compromise was a lost opportunity.
"This is disappointing," said Edward Overdevest, president of Overdevest Nurseries in Bridgeton, N.J. "I think it is a setback for reason, it is a setback for common sense”.
April 09, 2006
Hotter heads prevailed
In the LA Times there is an opinion piece published April, 9 2006
“FRIDAY AFTERNOON ON CAPITOL HILL, the world's greatest deliberative body got back to doing what it does best. One senator took to the floor to wax eloquent about a new biomedical building at his state's public university. Another successfully moved the Soda Ash Royalty Reduction Act from committee. And the most senior senator, Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), delivered a peroration about Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The Senate had time to weigh in on such weightless subjects because on Friday morning it had failed to deliver what Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) had promised: passage of an immigration reform bill before the chamber's two-week Easter recess”.
Senate Immigration Debate Stalls
Just in from AILA;
The Senate debate on immigration appears to have ended-at least for now-with Senators unable to reach agreement on how to proceed on the so-called "Hagel/Martinez compromise." That compromise agreement, reached just 24 hours ago, would have made changes to the provisions of the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill that provided a path to citizenship for the undocumented population and a temporary guestworker program for future flows. Those changes had apparently rendered the bill acceptable to certain Republicans who had opposed the initial Committee-passed version.
While there seemed to be a consensus on substance, the deal apparently broke down over process. Senate Majority Leader Frist and Minority Leader Reid tried to agree on a plan that would have limited the consideration of amendments to 3 from each party, but Senator Frist was unable to deliver that deal, reportedly due to opposition from Senator Sessions and others who opposed the compromise. Those Senators insisted on being able to offer 20 or 30 or more of the 400 amendments they had filed to date.
Senator Reid also had requested that Senator Frist provide assurances that all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee be appointed as Senate conferees on the bill in the hope that they would be able to prevent House conferees from gutting the legislation's legalization provisions.
Republicans defeated the attempt to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on the Hagel/Martinez compromise proposal by a vote of 38-60. Even those Republicans who supported the underlying substance of the compromise voted against the cloture motion because they felt their colleagues should have been allowed to bring amendments to the floor for a vote. Democrats then blocked Republican efforts to end debate and proceed to a vote on the underlying Frist border security bill (S. 2454) on a 36-62 vote (36 Senators voted in favor of proceeding with the enforcement-only bill).
The Senate now leaves for a two-week recess, and it remains to be seen whether immigration reform will be placed back on the Senate's agenda when lawmakers return on April 24th. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) reportedly stated that his committee would take the issue back up shortly after the Senate's return. We encourage you to meet with your Senators in their district offices during the next two weeks and urge them to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides a path to permanent status for the current undocumented population.
There will be much "finger pointing" about who is to blame for the impasse. At the end of the day, it is clear that neither party alone has the votes necessary to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and the bipartisan agreements that were needed to get the work done were not possible given the combination of opposition and complicated Senate procedural rules that require "Unanimous Consent" for certain things to happen.
We will provide additional updates as more information becomes available. Thank you for all your good work thus far.
April 08, 2006
Two Recent Surveys Of Newcomers: Undocumented Immigrants And Legal Immigrants On Record In Support Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
The National Immigration Forum published the results of two new surveys from Sergio Bendixen of Bendixen and Associates in Miami, Florida. Bendixen is considered the nation's preeminent pollster of ethnic and immigrant communities. In the first survey, which was sponsored by the Manhattan Institute and the National Immigration Forum, in-depth interviews were conducted in three U.S. cities with undocumented immigrants from Latin America regarding their willingness to come forward to legalize their status.
In the second survey, sponsored by New America Media, an ethnic media consortium based in San Francisco, California, legal immigrants from Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe were interviewed about their views regarding the recent policy debate. Visit the National Immigration Forum's website for a complete summary of the data collected for each survey.
These surveys put numbers on the sentiments expressed in the wave of rallies across the country. Legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants alike are watching. Their fate depends in part on the fate of legislation before the Congress and the Administration. Our policy makers would be wise to hear their voices and respond to their aspirations to be fully embraced accepted by the nation they now call home.
Bendixen & Associates interviewed 800 legal immigrants by telephone between February 24 and March 21, 2006. The sample was designed to be representative of the 26 million legal immigrants that reside in the United States according to the U.S. Census. Approximately three-fifths of the legal immigrants interviewed for the poll are citizens of the United States and about three-fourths of them (citizens) are registered voters.
April 07, 2006
Senate Vote Shelves Immigration Bill
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer;
"The Senate sidetracked sweeping immigration legislation Friday amid partisan recriminations, leaving in doubt prospects for passage of a measure that offered the hope of citizenship to millions of men, women and children living in the United States illegally.
The bill gained only 38 votes on a key procedural test, far short of the 60 needed to advance.
The vote marked a turnabout from Thursday, when the Senate's two leaders had both hailed a last-minute compromise as a breakthrough in the campaign to enact the most far-reaching changes in immigration law in two decades.
But Republicans soon accused Democrats of trying to squelch their amendments, while Democrats accused the GOP of trying to kill their own bill by filibuster".
AILA presss release on bi-partisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform reached by a coalition of Senators
Bi-Partisan Coalition of Senators Reaches Tentative Compromise to Break the Impasse on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
WASHINGTON, DC--April 6-- Jeanne Butterfield, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), issued the following statement in response to the reported bi-partisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform reached by a coalition of Senators:
We are pleased to learn that a group of leaders in the Senate is striving to overcome partisan divisions and reach a compromise agreement on historic immigration reform legislation. AILA has been a strong supporter of the earned legalization provision that passed by a 12-6 vote out of the Judiciary Committee and that has been the subject of Senate Floor debate over the last week. We recognize, however, that some compromise on these provisions was required to move the Senate beyond the current partisan impasse and we commend this bipartisan group of Senators for pushing the process forward.
While details of the compromise have yet to be finalized, we understand that it divides the current undocumented population into the following three categories, based on their period of residence in the United States:
Those individuals who have been here and working for more than 5 years would be eligible to embark immediately on a path to earned permanent residence and ultimately citizenship. That path would involve a 6-8 year prospective work requirement, a clean record, English language study, and the payment of significant fines and back taxes.
The second category of undocumented individuals would be those who arrived less than 5 years ago but before January 7, 2004. This group would be required to pay significant fines and, within three years, would be required to leave the country and reenter in a temporary status. Upon reentry, these individuals would have full job portability and could apply for permanent resident status after the first category of undocumented workers completed their processing.
The final group of undocumented workers, those who arrived after January 7, 2004, would be required to leave the country, but they would be permitted to apply for the new temporary worker program subject to the numerical limitations.
Although we believe this compromise has the potential to bridge the divide in how to deal with the current undocumented population, we believe that no deal can be finalized unless and until there is agreement that the compromise will be protected from damaging amendments on the Senate Floor. There must also be agreement that the compromise will be protected through any House/Senate conference committee. We believe the best way to ensure that is for the Senate Leadership to agree that the entire Senate Judiciary Committee will compose the Senate side of any conference committee.
Notwithstanding our strong support for this compromise, we note that other provisions in the legislation directed at the rights and liberties of both documented and undocumented immigrants remain of significant concern. We will continue to work with Members in both chambers to remove or ameliorate those harmful measures as the process continues to advance.
Contact George Tzamaras (202) 216-2410 April 6, 2006
April 06, 2006
Senators Hold News Conference on Immigration
CQ Transcriptions on Thursday, April 6, 2006; 12:48 PM
SPEAKERS: U.S. SENATOR BILL FRIST (R-TN), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER
U.S. SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MINORITY LEADER
U.S. SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) U.S. SENATOR CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE)
U.S. SENATOR PAT LEAHY (D-VT)
U.S. SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA)
U.S. SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL)
U.S. SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC)
U.S. SENATOR PETE DOMENICI (R-NM)
U.S. SENATOR MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL)
U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT)
U.S. SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS)
"FRIST: Good afternoon. We have several senators with me now. Other senators will be coming in. We're just completing our vote. But wanted to go ahead and get started to really make a very important announcements. And that is the American people are well aware of the challenge that we have today in terms of having an immigration system that is flat out broken, broken at the borders, broken interiorly, at the level -- at the place of the work site and also in terms of a temporary worker program.
In October of last year, I set out a two-week plan that is being fulfilled this week, where we would start with a strong border security bill, build that out based on the tremendous work under Arlen Specter's -- Senator Specter's tremendous leadership -- build that out with a more comprehensive bill looking at work site enforcement, interior enforcement and a temporary worker program that does address the 12 million people who in this country are undocumented.
The good news is that because of the hard work of the people who are with me, we've had a huge breakthrough which will allow us to pivot in the next several hours that will lead us to the conclusion of passing a very important bill.
I'm going to turn it to my colleagues, I guess initially Senator Specter and then -- I'll turn to Senator Specter and then Senator Kennedy to reflect what this alternative that has come forward is all about and the implications for the country, but also for the 250 million, 300 million people who will be affected both now and people in the future".
More at; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/06/AR2006040600959.html
Senate Takes New Tack on Immigration
There is an article in the Los Angeles Times;
"A GOP-proposed `path to citizenship' has some illegal workers return home, pay taxes and study civics. Discord with House is likely. By Nicole Gaouette and Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writers
April 6, 2006
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist late Wednesday offered a new plan to overhaul U.S. immigration laws that would require as many as 3 million illegal immigrants to leave the country in order to apply for legal status and eventual citizenship.
Aides to the Tennessee Republican said a majority of GOP senators would support the plan, ending a stalemate that threatened to prevent action on the issue. But any bill that comes out of the Senate would have to be reconciled with a harsher measure passed by the House. It was not immediately clear how any legislation that passed would be enforced".
April 05, 2006
Immigration Battle Could Decide GOP's Future
In The Philadelphia Inquirer there is an article by Dick Polman about the GOP;
The furor over immigration that is raging in Congress, on radio talk shows, on cable TV shoutfests, and in the conservative blogosphere is actually a high-stakes duel over the image and direction of the Republican Party.
Two powerful factions of the GOP coalition are warring openly - a clash that threatens to further imperil the party's shaky prospects for success in the November congressional elections, while exacerbating internal tensions that could reignite during the 2008 presidential primaries.
The business lobby, which pumps big bucks into the GOP, wants a new law that would enable 11 million illegal immigrants to stay here and work. But if Congress goes that route, it risks prompting millions of grass-roots conservatives (already angry at President Bush's lavish federal spending, his Dubai ports deal, and other perceived missteps) to boycott Election Day. The party can ill afford a revolt by its base, especially since most independent voters, soured by the war in Iraq, don't seem enthused about voting GOP.
Senate May Vote Thursday on Immigration Reform Bills
The Senate continues to debate immigration reform this week. The base bill for consideration is Senator Frist's enforcement-heavy bill, the Securing America's Borders Act (S. 2454). However, Senator Specter introduced the Judiciary Committee's comprehensive bill as a substitute amendment last Thursday. Cloture votes on both bills could come as early as Thursday. The Judiciary Committee bill will need 60 votes to pass, so we urgently need to reach the Senators who are still on the fence! Your calls this week will be extremely important. If you've been putting off taking action, now is the time to start!
There are 16 Swing Votes on the Judiciary Committee's Comprehensive Bill! Your Help is Urgently Needed!
The Senate Judiciary Committee's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 will need 60 Yes Votes in order to pass and these 16 Senators have yet to clearly state whether they will pledge support for the most comprehensive package of all of the Senate proposals. These 16 Senators are still in play and we need your help to bring them on board! Take a few minutes and call 3 offices today. Share this important message;
"I urge you to support the comprehensive bill reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented."
Distribute this action alert widely to your colleagues, clients, friends, and professional networks! These 16 Senators, especially, need to hear pro-immigrant messages. They need to hear from you!
Alexander (TN) (202) 224-4944
Burns (MT) (202) 224-2644
Collins (ME) (202) 224-2523
Coleman (MN) (202) 224-5641
Crapo (ID) (202) 224-6142
Dole (NC) (202) 224-6342
Domenici (NM) (202) 224-6621
Ensign (NV) (202) 224-6244
Enzi (WY) (202) 224-3424
Lott (MS) (202) 224-6253
Murkowski (AK) (202) 224-6665
Roberts (KS) (202) 224-4774
Snowe (ME) (202) 224-5344
Stabenow (MI) (202) 224-4822
Stevens (AK) (202) 224-3004
Warner (VA) (202) 224-2023
An Immigration Debate Framed by Family Tie
In the New York Times there is a moving article by Rachel L. Swarns, published: April 4, 2006;
“WASHINGTON During the heated immigration debate on Capitol Hill, some Republicans have portrayed immigrants as invaders, criminals and burdens to society. But for Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, the image that comes to mind is that of his mother and the day the authorities took her away.
It was 1943, World War II was raging, and federal agents were sweeping through Albuquerque hunting for Italian sympathizers. They found Mr. Domenici's mother, Alda V. Domenici, a curly-haired mother of four and a local PTA president who also happened to be an illegal immigrant from Italy. Mr. Domenici, who said he was 9 or 10 years old then, wept when his mother vanished with the agents in their big black car.
Now 73, Mr. Domenici surprised many of his colleagues when he stood up on the Senate floor last week and shared the story, which he has kept mostly to himself for much of his life”.
April 04, 2006
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Government Update
This came in on Friday from the Chamber. I have been working with AILA and the Chamber on immigration reform.
Immigration reform continued to be hotly debated all over the country this week, as the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that landed for debate on the Senate floor. The outcome of this debate will have great implications on the workforce of our country, and specifically on the economy of Middle Tennessee. The Chamber has long supported the passage of a comprehensive reform package. It is important to the business community, as our delegation told our legislators earlier this month in D.C., that the reform package, while protecting our boder security, also allow for a guest worker program.
The bill came to the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon. Sen. Frist has blocked out the rest of this week and all of next week for the debate.
In protest to the measures being debated that would increase the penalties for immigrants in the country illegally, thousands marched on Tennessee's Capitol Hill Wednesday evening.
The Chamber spoke directly to Senator Frist earlier this month, urging him to consider Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and the negative impacts on the Middle Tennessee business community should this not happen. We continue to urge Sen. Frist and other lawmakers to support immigration reform that will meet our workforce needs both at the entry level and the highly skilled ends of the spectrum and to find a way to legitimize the status of millions of hard-working immigrants already in the United States.
GOP Senators Trying to Shape a Compromise on Immigration
In the LA Times there is an article by Maura Reynolds and Nicole Gaouette, Times Staff Writers on April 4, 2006;
WASHINGTON — Facing a self-imposed Friday deadline for reaching agreement on the thorny issue of immigration, GOP senators worked Monday toward a possible compromise that would permit some illegal immigrants to remain in the country and apply for citizenship but would deny that opportunity to others.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) launched what participants said would be a series of closed-door negotiations to bridge a divide between Republicans who favored providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and those who opposed it.
April 03, 2006
Border Accord Faces 'Chasm'
The Senate may vote this week on a bill creating a residency path for illegal immigrants. The House has taken a harder line, and the GOP is split.
By Jonathan Peterson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, April 3, 2006
"WASHINGTON — Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday that he wanted the Senate to vote on a far-reaching immigration bill later this week, even as the fate of the legislation remained clouded by stark differences among lawmakers over how to treat up to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Whether such immigrants may qualify for guest-worker status and, ultimately, permanent residency and citizenship "will be the fundamental question over the next six days on the floor of the Senate," Frist (R-Tenn.) said on CNN".
April 02, 2006
Bush Reassures Mexico Leader of His Backing for Immigrants
In the New York Times is an article by Ginger Thompson and David E. Sanger published March 31, 2006;
"CANCÚN, Mexico, March 30 — President Bush, in an effort to reassure Mexicans and to defuse an intense debate in the United States, told President Vicente Fox of Mexico on Thursday that he supported proposals to legalize undocumented workers as long as they were not given any advantages over immigrants who entered the United States legally.
"I explained to the president my vision of the citizenship issue," Mr. Bush said, as Mr. Fox sat next to him during their summit meeting here. "If they want to become a citizen, they can get in line, but not the head of the line."
April 01, 2006
USCIS WARNS OF SPOOF H-1B RELEASE
Employers should continue to file FY 2007 petitions;
Washington, D.C.- USCIS became aware today of the circulation of a bogus release indicating that USCIS has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY 2007. The release further relays that the H-1B exemption limit for the first 20,000 foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master's or higher degree was also met. This release is not accurate and was not issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
To date, USCIS has not received enough petitions to close either the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY 2007 or the 20,000 worker exemption limit. USCIS is committed to ensuring that employers have accurate and timely H-1B information and will provide an update about the latest cap numbers later this week.
Official USCIS news release are always listed on the USCIS website (uscis.gov) at the following location Chronological List of Public Information.
- USCIS -
G.O.P. Risking Hispanic Votes on Immigration
In the New York Times there was an article by David D. Kirkpatrick published: March 30, 2006;
"WASHINGTON, March 29 — The battle among Republicans over immigration policy and border security is threatening to undercut a decade-long effort by President Bush and his party to court Hispanic voters, just as both parties are gearing up for the 2006 elections".
Go to; http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/30/politics/30hispanics.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th