Tag Archives: immigration reform

Ken Schmitt debates comprehensive immigration reform with Congressman Davis.

Congress working on immigration reform?Recently this author went head to head with Congressman Davis (Illinois-R) on the issue of Immigration Reform in the Illinois Business Journal.  Drawing on a number of respected economic studies, this author attempted to demonstrate the enormous economic opportunity costs we continue to suffer at the local, state and federal level as a result of Congress’ failure to fix our broken immigration system.  Ultimately, the argument concludes that any “fix” implemented will fail if it does not provide a pathway to legalization for a significant majority of the 11+ million undocumented individuals living and working in our communities.  Enforcement only or enforcement first approaches cannot and will not work.  You can read the argument and see if it convinces you by clicking here:     Ken Schmitt’s Point Article.

Congressman Davis’ Counterpoint argument provided a rendition of the tried and tired talking points we have heard over the last several years from the Republican party: “Enforce the law and strengthen the boarder.”  Not a surprise, the Congressman did not address the undocumented immigrant population and offered no solution to fix our broken system.  Just more resources to be thrown at an immigration system that fails our families, communities, businesses and our collective future.  You can read Congressman Davis’ Counterpoint argument by clicking here:  Rep. Rodney Davis (Illinois R) Counterpoint.

Deferred Action Is Coming! — UPDATED: November 19, 2014.

immigration-reform-rally

President Obama set to Address the Nation Tomorrow Night – Main Points of Executive Action already Leaked.

November 19, 2014.

Today, the President confirmed, as we suggested in our earlier posts, that he does not foresee any likelihood of meaningful cooperation by the Republicans on immigration reform in the next two years — certainly not reform that seriously addresses a legalization process for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants presently in the United States.  On the White House website President Obama posted a recorded message announcing that tomorrow, Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (7:00 p.m. St. Louis time) he will address the nation to explain why executive action is necessary.  He further announced that he will then travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to provide further details of his expected Executive Order.  This order is expected to be directed to the Department of Homeland Security to carry out his directive for a massive exercise of prosecutorial discretion, likely dwarfing the scope of his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive. You can watch the President’s message here.

What do we expect the President’s Executive Order to direct?

Confirming much of what has already been suggested late last week by various news outlets, the Washington Post published today their “Complete Guide to Obama’s Immigration Executive Action“.

You can download the complete Washington Post Guide here:

Your complete guide to Obama’s immigration executive action

In general, as we have reported earlier, it is expected the President will order the Department of Homeland Security to expand on its previous Memorandum pertaining to DACA in at least two, maybe three, respects:

  • To expand DACA to include individuals who last entered the United States in January 2010, as opposed to June 15, 2007 as previously required to qualify for deferred action; and
  • To expand the criteria necessary to receive deferred action consideration to include undocumented parents of United States citizen children.
  • Possibly, the order may also include deferred action relief for undocumented parents of children who are lawful permanent residents (i.e. have green cards) and undocumented spouses of US citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Currently, most sources believe that the order will not include relief for undocumented parents of children who have been granted DACA but who have no US citizen children.

Of course, until the exact terms of the Executive Order are released, there is no certainty as to who will be covered.  Even once the order is released, the specific criteria and finer details will not be precisely known until Department of Homeland Security and its immigration related agencies (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Boarder Protection) each issue their respective policy guidance.  Much of this guidance may well come in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) similar to the DACA FAQ’s published and updated over the past two years on USCIS website.

What to watch for tomorrow night and Friday?

Watch for the President to lay out in general terms the broad groupings of people who he expects to be eligible to request deferred action.

Watch for the President to announce that those who qualify for relief under his executive order will also be granted work authorization.

Watch for an announcement of how many years at a time the expanded deferred action will be granted if approved. Currently, recipients of DACA are granted deferred action in two year increments requiring DACA recipients to renew their DACA application every two years.

Watch to see if the President will announce or if he will leave it to DHS to decide if recipients of the expanded deferred action will be granted permission to travel abroad and return to the United States while in deferred action.

Watch for any announcement about how this will be funded and, if addressed, expect a filing fee to be associated with the order.  The exact amount of any filing fee will likely not be specified by the President but will be left to Department of Homeland Security and USCIS to determine.  Likely a filing fee close to the existing DACA filing fee can be expected — somewhere between $350 and $550. Currently, the fee to file for DACA is $465.

Expect the President to justify his action by explaining that the enforcement mandate in the Immigration and Nationality Act is way to big for the resources appropriated each year by Congress and by pointing the finger back to Congress for failing to address the issue of undocumented immigrants in any meaningful or serious fashion. Expect the President to argue that this action is about conserving limited enforcement resources to focus on removing convicted felons and other bad people.  The President will argue that this really about smart use of limited resources and making our communities safer.

Expect the Republican leadership to continue crying foul but not much else.  There may well be various lawsuits filed by elected leaders here and there. However, any such suit will face significant legal hurdles and is not likely to go far.  Keep in mind that various lawsuits have been filed over the last two years against the Federal government challenging DACA but these have gone nowhere.

Expect more talk about “defunding” any executive action.  However, given the fact that any expanded deferred action is likely to be fee based and, therefore, self funding, and also given the fact that soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already ruled out a government shut down over the appropriations process, efforts to defund the President’s order will likely also go nowhere.

What happens after Friday?

If things follow in the same manner as it did after the announcement of DACA in June 2012, the President will direct Homeland Security and its underlying agencies to issue their guidance and publish all required forms for applying for expanded deferred action within a certain time frame.  In June 2012, DHS ordered USCIS to finalize its guidance and publish necessary forms within 60 days.  In compliance with that directive, USCIS in fact did publish the required forms by early August 2012 in time to begin filing for DACA in mid-August 2012. Expect a similar time frame for this process.

What will US Legal Solutions be doing after Friday to help you in this process?

Stay tuned here and register in the upper right of this page to receive updates about the President’s order and informational clinics we will be providing.  We will be scheduling informational clinics at our office to take place at regular times throughout the weeks following the President’s announcements. There will be no charge to attend the informational clinics.

After the informational presentation at the clinics, you will have an opportunity to meet for a consultation with a qualified and highly experienced attorney of our firm to find out exactly how the President’s announcement may benefit you and your family.  Keep in mind that US Legal Solutions has been a preeminent leader throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois in successfully assisting individuals to obtain relief under DACA.  We stand ready to apply our very successful experience to your potential case under the President’s new Executive Order.

US Legal Solutions is committed to making the President’s Executive Order a successful opportunity for as many members of our immigrant community as possible.

################# END OF UPDATE#################

Republicans Spin their Response on Weekend News Shows

November 17, 2014

Alberto Gonzalez, former Attorney General appointed by President George W. Bush.

Alberto Gonzalez, former Attorney General appointed by President George W. Bush.

Republican legislators over the weekend continued to insist on various news programs that the President’s plan to issue an Executive Order expanding deferred action for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants is overly provocative and possibly illegal.  Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez did concede however that, generally speaking, the President has a great deal of discretion delegated to him to decide how to enforce immigration law. He noted that those who would challenge the President’s executive action would face very significant legal hurdles to overturn it.

Interestingly, Gonzalez, a Republican darling, urged that what was needed was a “comprehensive plan” to reform the immigration system, not the president acting alone.  Perhaps someone could mail him a copy of S. 744?

Other Republican House members insisted that NOW they are ready to work with the president on a number of things (mostly Republican priorities) and the President should wait some time to “relationship build” for a few months (mostly to pass Republican priorities) and THEN they would be ready to work on immigration reform.  (Yea, right after peace breaks out in the Middle East!).

images1

Representative Boehner (Ohio-R) the current Speaker of the House and likely will remain Speaker in January 2915.

Others have been making the argument that the Republican House has passed x-number (pick your number) of bills addressing pieces of immigration reform but it has been the Democrat controlled Senate that refused to take up their bills.  Of course, in the light of S. 744 which cleared the Senate over 16 months ago, not a single one of the piecemeal bills out of the House addressed the status of undocumented immigrants.

President Obama.

President Obama.

And then, reported in various newspapers, there are those rattling the “impeachment” and “defund” sabers.  Given how poorly the impeachment of Bill Clinton worked out for Newt Gingrich’s popularity and what the attempts to defund “Obamacare” last Christmas season did to goose Obama’s poll numbers, these seem like particularly hollow threats.  In fact, soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky-R) has already ruled out a government shutdown which seems to stop the defund effort in its tracts. Besides, DACA, (as well as likely any expansion of deferred action) is entirely fee based and so requires no appropriation by Congress to implement.  Congress can’t “defund” what does not require funding in the first place!

All in all, as the anticipation of Obama’s action on immigration mounts, so does the rhetorical push-back. However, Obama appears set in his analysis that there is no relationship left to lose between himself and the Congress and the Republican leadership wouldn’t seriously consider a path to legalization even if there was. And he’s probably right.

Consequently, the President appears as resolved as ever to take executive action shortly since  time is passing. Stay tuned.

As the Washington political establishment squabbles, people are waiting.

As the Washington political establishment squabbles, people are waiting.

################# END OF UPDATE#################

 

President Obama Vows Executive Action while Millions Hold Their Breath!  

Friday, November 14, 2014.

With the November 2014 Mid-Year Elections barely a week past, the Washington DC antics are in full swing.  Center stage in this capital city drama is the fate of the 12 million undocumented immigrants who live in our communities.  President Obama has vowed to act by Executive Order to further prioritize how the very limited enforcement resources appropriated by the Congress should best be directed to keep our nation safe and to not waste resources on law abiding immigrants who benefit our economy and our communities.

President Obama announces Executive Action.

President Obama announces he is committed to sign an Executive Order to provide temporary relief to as many as 5 million or more undocumented immigrants by the end of December 2014.

Of course the Republicans (who take control of the US Senate when the new Congress convenes in January 2015) are livid.  However, as pointed out in previous postings by this author, President Obama is well within his constitutional prerogative to act in this manner.  The President’s right to exercise prosecutorial discretion is protected by the US Constitution’s Separation of Powers Doctrine.  Given the complete failure by Congress (and in particular, the Republican-controlled House) to act in any meaningful way in the last six years to address our broken immigration system, the President’s proposed exercise of prosecutorial discretion is particularly appropriate at this time and in this fashion. To read more about why the President has the authority to act in this manner, click here and click here.

boehner immigration executive order

Representative Boehner (Ohio-R) is (and will likely continue to be) the Speaker of the House of Representatives and opposes the President’s Proposed Executive Order.

The details of President Obama’s anticipated Executive Action have been slowing emerging on various news outlets since Thursday afternoon. According to a number of different news sources, the anticipated Executive Order is expected to provide relief from removal for up to 4.5 to 5 million individuals.

Key among the proposals are reported to be  Deferred Action for a new class of individuals–undocumented parents of US citizen sons and daughters — as well as an expansion of the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Providing deferred action for parents of US citizen children alone would benefit several million people.  Perhaps more important, however, are the many more millions of US born children of these parents whose birthright as US citizens would also be protected.  Significantly (and unknown to most Americans) tens and hundreds of thousands of US born citizen children are forced to relocate each year from their homes in the United States to some of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in the most violent countries on the planet when their mothers and fathers are removed by our Immigration Courts.  For many of these children, promising futures are ended overnight as infants and children face a reality of virtually no education, little if any access to healthcare and the constant threat of extreme violence.  It will not just be the millions of undocumented fathers and mothers who would benefit, but their tens of millions of US citizen children as well.

It is also suspected that the President stands ready to order the expansion of the existing DACA program by moving up the date since which a person must have resided in the United States to be eligible for DACA – from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.  Currently, a person who last entered the United States after June 15, 2007 is ineligible to request deferred action under DACA.  However, if the contemplated change is enacted, all those who last entered the United States between June 15, 2007 and January 1, 2010 (and who meet all the other DACA criteria) would become eligible for DACA.  Some reports estimate the number of new individuals who would become eligible for relief under DACA resulting from this change may be as many as of 300,000.

None of these changes are a satisfactory substitute for actually fixing our broken immigration system. While Congress bickers, our food growers go without workers, our research institutions and leaders in technology scream for high tech visas and families remain broken in the land where “family values” are supposedly cherished.  But at least if and when the stomping crybabies on the Hill ever decide to legislate like adults on this issue, they will then be forced to do so in a way that seriously addresses the 12 million or more decent, hardworking people who live and work in the shadows but deserve better.  They will have to address these folks because the President’s action will move them out of the shadows and shine the light of day on their value to our communities.

And there will be a price paid for the President’s Executive Order — paid in the currency of increased acrimony and a further eroding of trust between the President and the Republicans on the Hill. Though of course, many might observe, what loss?

 

 

 

GO VOTE: Election Day is Tomorrow, November 4, 2014!

GO VOTE: Election Day is Tomorrow, November 4, 2014!

vote button uncle-sam-vote-2751

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the talk of the Republicans being poised to take control of the Senate, you may think you have a million other things to do more compelling than standing in line to vote. And you could not be more WRONG!

Even if Republicans do win the Senate and control both houses of Congress after tomorrow, they will not gain enough seats to effectively pass legislation without Democratic support in the Senate since it requires 60 votes to invoke cloture and vote on legislation. It also takes 66 votes to override any veto by President Obama. As a result, a minority Democrat party will still be in a position to defend the precious few but important gains achieved in the immigrant community, such as DACA. While many vocal Republicans in the House and Senate have squawked about repealing or ending DACA, this will be impossible with the slim control they may have after tomorrow–provided the new Democrat minority stands up against them.

But consider, what incentive will this new Democrat minority have to stand up and defend these important gains if our voices are not heard on Tuesday? If in the minority on Wednesday, the Democrats will be on the defensive on many many different fronts: Budget, Taxes, Appropriations, Keystone, etc. etc. etc. The Democrat party, which has benefited greatly from the immigrant advocacy over the last decade, MUST know that we demand they stand up for our community and push back to preserve what immigration gains we have made.

AND President Obama MUST now be willing to go big on administrative prosecutorial discretion relief. With the Senate Democrats forming the firewall against any Republican push back, now is the time for Obama to bring the majority of undocumented immigrants, who are law abiding, productive, tax paying members of our communities, out of the shadows!

Doing so will set the table and the standard against which any Republican effort at immigration reform will be judged (if indeed they even have the backbone to address the issue in the run up to 2016). Failure to do so will leave a huge indelible stain on any legacy Obama hopes to have!

I’ll see you tomorrow morning, bright and early!

 

Vote-tomorrow-graphicshort Tomorrow-we-vote-300 I-voted-today

Update: Napolitano Provides DACA Insider Story at University of Georgia.

statue_of_liberty_with_extract_of_poem_by_emma_lazarus_fixed

As foreshadowed in her interview with the Washington Post this past weekend, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, addressed a University of Georgia School of Law symposium on Monday, October 27, 2014.  Her remarks constituted the 112th Sibley Lecture at the campus and was titled “Anatomy of a Legal Decision”.

The address is a fascinating read and provides a detailed insight into the complicated and heated debate within the administration that took place in the summer of 2012 and ultimately culminated in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The complete address can be downloaded by clicking here: President Napolitano Sibley Lecture UGA School of Law 10.27.14.

Nepollitano observes very early in her remarks:

The story of immigration policy in this land, including the development of DACA, is a story of shadows and shades of gray – it’s no area for absolutists.

She continues to observe that in the effort to address our broken immigration system:

.     .     .      all too often immigration policy, and the debate that envelops it, resemble a washing machine at work – load, inject soap and water, churn, (also known, interestingly, as agitate,) , rinse, drain, spin, repeat. The main difference is that in the immigration realm, we never seem to graduate to the dryer—we just do it all over again.

Napolitano goes on to provide a thoughtful account of the nuanced and intertwined issues of policy and law that affect not just the debate that ultimately coalesced into the DACA program but the broader immigration debate in this country.  The remarks are a great read and go a long way to explain why we have the disastrous immigration system we have.

 

Immigration Reform Update: Napolitano Pushes for Broader Executive Action!

statue_of_liberty_with_extract_of_poem_by_emma_lazarus_fixed

The Washington Post.  October 27, 2014.  1201 a.m.

The Washington Post this weekend reported that former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated in an interview:

“If Congress refuses to act and perform its duties, then I think it’s appropriate for the executive to step in and use his authorities based on law . . . to take action in the immigration arena,’’ Napolitano, a lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Arizona, said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post.

She made her remarks to the Washington Post ahead of what the Post has reported will be a significant speech by her scheduled for Monday, October 27, 2014 to be delivered in Georgia.  The Post has further reported that she is expected to detail the heated debate that took place inside the Administration in 2012 when the Administration and Napolitano announced and implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  DACA  is now considered to be largely successful, benefiting over 580,000 young immigrants to date.  It is expected that Napolitano will detail how she urged much broader action in 2012.  It is expected that she will likely push for broader action now.

You can read the complete Washington Post Article by clicking here.

Hopefully, Secretary Nepolitano’s interview this weekend and her speech on Monday is part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for a concerted push for expanded executive action once the November elections are over!  Stay tuned.