New Family Detention Facility Moves Enforcement in Wrong Direction
September 23, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) announced today that it plans to open a 2,400-bed facility in Dilley, Texas, to house families who have fled across the southwest border in recent months.
The facility would be run by a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America.
The following is a response from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“If the administration has worked since 2009 to phase out family detention, it makes little sense to reverse course now. Financially and morally, family detention is a failed approach, and this is a step backward.
“Detaining mothers, teenagers and younger children together hurts families, tramples due process and is excessively costly. According to reports, this facility will cost $298 per person per day. That means the new facility could cost upwards of $261 million every year.
“ICE should rely on less costly, humane alternatives to detention. Such alternatives have proved effective and respect the dignity of mothers and children, many of whom have valid immigration claims. Their cases should be heard by immigration judges in a timely and fair fashion.”
Customs and Border Protection Addresses Use-of-Force Concerns
September 18, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced measures that address concerns about incidents involving officers’ use of force.
According to CQ Roll Call, CBP will begin testing body cameras at a training facility in New Mexico Oct. 1. In addition, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced today that he is delegating to CBP the authority to investigate employees regarding alleged criminal misconduct, to increase transparency and accountability.
“These are small but significant steps forward as CBP looks to expand transparency, accountability and trust among border communities,” responded Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “We look forward to additional measures in the months ahead. We expect cameras to move forward to field testing. And on those occasions when investigations reveal wrongdoing, there should be real consequences.”
Today’s announcement follows one in May of an updated CBP use-of-force policy and the release of an earlier review of its policy by the nonprofit, third-party Police Executive Research Forum.
Pew Report: New Americans are Putting Down Roots
September 03, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project released a report showing that the U.S. population of immigrants lacking authorization has decreased in the past few years, and undocumented immigrants are more likely to be long-term residents with U.S.-born children.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, responded:
“More and more, America is home to immigrants who have put down roots and want to contribute as fully as they can. Right now our broken immigration system is holding them back.
“The Pew Report shows the potential of America. America will succeed if new Americans have the opportunities, skills and status to reach their fullest potential. All of us will benefit when we have an immigration process that welcomes and integrates new Americans.
“Furthermore, the decrease in the undocumented population is further evidence that our border is as secure as it has ever been. To keep this trend going in a way that benefits our families and our economy, Congress and the administration need to work together on immigration reform.”
House Supplemental Bills: An Affront to our Nation’s Values
August 01, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a package of bills to respond to the situation on the border.
The bills would weaken protections for children fleeing violence, provide next-to-no funding for immigration judges and legal representation, waste valuable National Guard resources, and coldly end DACA for future and current DREAMers.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement on the bills under consideration by the House of Representatives:
"What the House has proposed is an affront to our values as a nation. It’s a tragic answer to a crisis that needs to be solved in a compassionate manner today.
"Congress must preserve legal protections for these young kids. It should not weaken the protections of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. And it should meet the kids with open hearts, not National Guard troops.
"Ending DACA is a political ploy unrelated to the crisis at hand. It uses 500,000 intrepid young women and men as collateral. And in turn, we accomplish nothing in mitigating the crisis on our border.
"First, let’s fund the respective agencies to meet the crisis head-on and with compassion.
"Then, when Congress returns from recess, it can restart its debate on immigration reform and ensure this never happens again."
House Fails to Find Votes for Immigration Bill
July 31, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House leaders indicated earlier this afternoon that they would not hold planned votes on two bills: one to address the humanitarian situation on the Southwest border by focusing funding on enforcement, and a second to restrict Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, responded:
“Once again, partisanship is dominating the day.
“I’m not surprised it seems the votes aren’t there. These bills are flawed. And children fleeing violence remain political pawns.
“Whether these bills move forward today or not, the House is missing an opportunity to drive a smart, practical and bipartisan solution to an urgent situation.
“Americans recognize that we need a responsible answer to deal humanely with migrant children and families. A broad majority also wants immigration reform. Congress is failing us on both counts.
“The chaos we are all witnessing proves that only a bipartisan solution regarding immigration will move us forward.”
House Votes Steer Debate in Wrong Direction
July 31, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 5230, a bill that fails to offer a meaningful solution to the humanitarian situation on the Southwest border by focusing funding on enforcement rather than a fair process.
In an effort to muster support for the emergency supplemental, the House of Representatives also is expected to vote today on H.R. 5272, a bill that would restrict Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the two bills the House expects to vote on today:
“By itself, the emergency supplemental bill is woefully inadequate. Rather than meeting children with compassion, it would have us meet them with National Guard troops.
“But when coupled with a vote to restrict DACA, an initiative that enjoys broad, bipartisan support, the whole package is more than inadequate – it’s outrageous.
“This is not the time for petty politics. This is a time for Congress to do its job, take courageous votes and treat vulnerable children fairly while they are here. Then they should return to the conversation on broad immigration reform that would provide long-term solutions and prevent future crises.
“Sadly, nothing currently under consideration in the House comes close to providing the solutions Americans so desperately want and need.”
Border Mayors in Texas Speak about Migrant Children
July 30, 2014
Brownsville, McAllen, Edinburg Mayors React to Proposals in Congress
For a recording of today’s call, click here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With both houses of Congress considering supplemental funding bills that address the border and children who have been fleeing to the U.S., mayors from Texas border communities spoke out during a press call today.
On the press call, the mayors of Brownsville, Edinburg and McAllen, who have helped their cities welcome tens of thousands of unaccompanied children over the past several months, spoke to their communities’ real needs and called for a fair and compassionate response:
Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen, Texas:
“From our city’s standpoint, we’re dealing with the family members who have young children in pretty rough shape after their journeys, and who are being processed by Border Patrol and then being released all over the country. We’ve had a lot of generous contributions from all over the country. But it’s clear from my conversations with congressmen and senators that Congress is still very polarized. I wish that they’d get together and reach a middle ground so we can have a successful conclusion on immigration.”
Mayor Ricardo Garcia, Edinburg, Texas:
“I don’t see this as a crisis, I see it as a humanitarian issue. Here in this country, we’ve always embraced vulnerable immigrants. We don’t want to be demonized by a military presence; what we need is funding for the law enforcement agents we have down here to enforce our laws, and for legal protections for the children. For a 10-year-old child to be arguing his case before an immigration judge — this is where we need some money. We need to deal with this situation responsibly.”
Mayor Tony Martinez, Brownsville, Texas:
“What we need to do as a nation is to understand the human rights of all human families. I think it’s imperative that due process is implemented for all children, but some of the legislation we are looking at doesn’t have those provisions. Children shouldn’t be expedited to the point where we don’t have justice. Also, I just don’t see how, if we don’t deal with a long-term immigration reform fix, we won’t see this come up again and again in the future.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“These mayors are ensuring that their communities stay welcoming in the midst of an urgent situation. Their focus on the humanity of the children is inspiring. I am thankful for their courage, compassion and commitment.”
House Bill on Unaccompanied Minors Introduced
July 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republicans have introduced a supplemental funding bill today to address children and families who have fled to the United States.
The bill would provide $659 million, covering only the next two months — through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30. The bill also would amend the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 and deploy the National Guard to the southern border.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the bill:
“This bill falls short in most all respects. In this case, a half a loaf may actually be worse than no loaf at all.
“What this crisis needs is policy that aligns with our better nature and responds to children and families compassionately. This bill would reduce protections for vulnerable people fleeing desperate circumstances. Rather than meet them with open hearts and a clear, fair process, this bill meets them with National Guard troops.
“Congress must address this challenge over the long term, not just over the next two months. The more Congress plays on America’s fears, the more divided we will become.”
Reaction to Senator Mikulski’s Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill
July 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released a draft of a bill that would address the humanitarian crisis on the border.
The Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill would set aside $2.7 billion to fund more immigration judges, legal representation for children, efforts to address the root causes of migration from Central America, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to care for the unaccompanied children.
After the release of the draft, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“Senator Mikulski’s draft bill is a strong first step in the right direction. It’s a clean supplemental bill that must inspire action from Congress immediately.
“The bill tackles the crisis from all directions, as it should. It would address the root causes, provide more money to the Department of Justice to better respond to the crisis, and help the Department of Health and Human Services provide adequate care for unaccompanied children.
“It is worrisome that hundreds of millions of dollars would be set aside for additional detention of families. But overall, this is an actionable bill that would provide immediate solutions.”
House Working Group Releases Recommendations on Unaccompanied Minors
July 23, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier today, the House Working Group Speaker John Boehner formed to craft a response to the ongoing border crisis released its recommendations.
The group’s 12 policy recommendations include amending the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008, deploying the National Guard to the southern border and establishing a commission to gauge progress on border security. None of the recommendations addresses additional funding to help agencies care for and process migrants. The full list of recommendations is available here.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the recommendations:
“Our priority at this time should be to make sure the government has the additional resources it needs to address this situation humanely and with compassion. Congress should pass a clean supplemental funding bill with no policy or legislative changes attached.
“We appreciate the Working Group’s thoughtfulness in trying to identify solutions. However, these recommendations are nowhere near enough. The lack of specificity will make it difficult for Congress agree and take action. While they debate each of these policies, the crisis will continue, and children will continue to face deplorable conditions.
"The recommendation to weaken protections that guard against trafficking and the failure to provide legal assistance to the children leads to more questions than answers. In addition, the recommendations regarding family detention and asylum raise serious concerns that vulnerable people whom our laws now protect will not be treated fairly.
“We can and must do better. There is a humanitarian crisis along our southwest border that requires much more than bullet points.”
President Obama Signs Workforce Development Bill into Law
July 22, 2014
Bill Encourages Workforce Training and Immigrant Integration
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier today, President Barack Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The law will help prepare adults and youth for available jobs and careers by equipping them with the language, education and training skills and opportunities they need to fully integrate into the American workforce.
“This law is good for both business and workers. It supports giving adults and youth, including immigrants, the basic skills they need for 21st century jobs that are responsive to the needs of businesses,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “It will help them succeed and contribute to our nation’s communities and economy to the fullest.
“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will help prepare Americans to compete in today’s economy,” Noorani continued. “For America to succeed, new Americans must have the opportunities, skills and status to reach their fullest potential.”
Noorani Joins Experts at Migration Colloquium
July 14, 2014
MEXICO CITY — Today, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Holy See are hosting a Colloquium on International Migration and Development in Mexico City.
High-level officials in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University; cardinals and bishops; Central American officials; and academics and immigration thought leaders to discuss international migration, social inclusion, human rights, respect for the dignity of migrants and the contribution of migration to the development of the countries of origin and destination.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, was one of the panelists at the event. Below is an excerpt from his prepared remarks:
“For a number of years now, there has been a heated national debate in the United States about our country’s future and the role of newcomers in that future. In light of the current crisis of unaccompanied minor children, we Americans are realizing that we are not only grappling with an immigration issue but with a migration issue as people, many vulnerable people, cross multiple borders in search of this better, safer life.
“As a nation, we have always responded to humanitarian crises with compassion and commonsense solutions. But the situation of the unaccompanied minors is causing deep divisions about how we should respond.
“There are those who argue passionately that these children don’t belong here, that they have no right to be here and that they should be forced back to their home countries. With equal conviction, others say we should allow them to stay and be reunited with family members already in the United States, many of whom also have no legal status.
“There are no easy solutions but there is one guiding principle: We must not lose sight of our fundamental values. Fair treatment and a humane response are essential.”
Baptist World Alliance Passes Resolution on Unaccompanied Migrant Children
July 11, 2014
IZMIR, TURKEY — Today, the Baptist World Alliance Resolutions Committee unanimously passed a resolution that addresses the humanitarian crisis of undocumented children and some mothers fleeing their home countries. The resolution calls for a compassionate response, referencing the biblical call to welcome the stranger in our midst.
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Senior Pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and Chair of the National Immigration Forum Board, is attending the meeting at which the resolution passed. The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship that represents 100 million Baptists worldwide.
Dr. Stewart responded to the resolution with the following statement:
“It was my privileged responsibility to bring the unprecedented humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of undocumented Central American children entering the United States through our southwestern borders to the attention of the Resolutions Committee of the Baptist World Alliance.
“The BWA has a history of advocating for the human rights of the downtrodden, disadvantaged and despairing. Therefore, the delegates welcomed my recommendation to pass a resolution on this crisis that is challenging our nation, especially our states on the southwestern border, our Congress and the President Obama, as well as Mexican communities.
“Jesus Christ said in Mark 10:14 (NRSV), ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’ The resolution also calls on churches and other organizations to show compassion in meeting the needs of these young people.”
Statement on President Obama’s Remarks in Dallas
July 10, 2014
WASHINGTON – Earlier this evening, President Obama met with Texas Governor Rick Perry and faith and business leaders in Dallas to discuss the crisis on the border. Following the meeting, the President called on Congress to approve his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the border crisis.
In response to the meeting, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum made the following statement:
“Humanitarian crises require bold solutions.
"While the request for supplemental funding will provide some immediate relief, real solutions for real challenges are urgently needed.
"The House of Representatives has a vision for immigration reform – secure the border, treat the undocumented humanely. Now they need to seize the opportunity and pass immigration reform.”
President’s Budget Request Addresses Migrant Children and Families
July 08, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the president sent Congress a $3.7 billion supplemental budget request to respond to children and families who have entered the United States.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, responded to the request with the following statement:
“This request comes not a moment too soon. Clearly the administration understands that we must create a process to respond to children and families crossing the border. That said, the devil will be in the details.
“We appreciate that the president’s request acknowledges the need for due process and a humane response. Adequate funding is necessary for immigration judges, legal representation for children and legal orientation programs, as well as for the Department of Health and Human Services to care for and process children more effectively.
“We are concerned that a large portion of the request could be used to expand detention. We urge the administration and Congress to choose alternatives to detention whenever possible. They are effective. Additional, costly detention beds for nonviolent children and families is not the answer.
“Now it is up to Congress to partner with the administration, address this urgent situation and continue the conversation. We need real, bipartisan, long-term solutions to our broken immigration system that extend well beyond the next 15 months.”
Congress, President Must Partner to Address Unaccompanied Migrant Children
July 07, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the conversation around unaccompanied migrant children continues, one focal point continues to be the protestors in Murrieta, Calif., who last week blocked Homeland Security buses from entering the town and delivering migrant children and adults to a processing facility.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement on the protests and responding to migrant children who are here:
“The No. 1 priority right now is to make sure these children are processed in a compassionate and just manner.
“Beyond providing immediate solutions, whether these children remain or are returned, the administration needs a willing partner in Congress to stem the flow of children and set up clear processes.
“Until the president and Congress take positive action, protests like the ones in Murrieta will continue, and our broken immigration system will keep families tragically separated.”
House Needs Serious Solutions, Not Political Posturing
July 03, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-49) released a letter, signed by 35 House Republicans, that addresses the president regarding the arrival of unaccompanied migrant children.
Among other requests, they ask the president to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, responded to the letter:
“The migration of unaccompanied children is a humanitarian crisis that needs serious policy solutions, not political gamesmanship.
“Deferred Action has allowed more than half a million young aspiring Americans to flourish rather than live in fear. Quite simply, they are contributing to our country in ways they otherwise could not. And the irony is that many House Republicans, including some who signed the letter, recognize that. Just yesterday, Congressman Farenthold called the children whom DACA helps ‘very sympathetic’ — but also signed this letter.
“The House has had more than a year to move forward with its own immigration legislation since the Senate passed a bipartisan bill. The ball is going to be in the House’s court next week when they consider the president’s request to respond to the unaccompanied children who have migrated here.
“At some point the House needs to move the immigration conversation in a way that’s productive.”
Obama Plans Executive Action on Immigration
June 30, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today President Obama announced that he will move forward with executive action on immigration reform, following a call last week in which House Speaker John Boehner said Congress would not vote on reform this year.
The president said he will immediately refocus enforcement resources at the border. By the end of the summer, he will consider recommendations on additional administrative action from the Justice and Homeland Security departments.
In response to the president’s remarks, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“America stands at a crossroads on immigration reform. Will we move forward or backward?
“The Forum and our allies in faith, business and law enforcement have worked long and hard to strengthen support for legislative change. For the first time, press and policy makers can look clear across the political spectrum and find support for commonsense solutions.
“We are disappointed Speaker Boehner feels he is unable to move forward with reform this year. It is a lost opportunity for Republicans, Democrats and all Americans.
“Our founding fathers established a legislative process in order to realize lasting change as times changed. But because the House was unable to move forward, the president has said he will act.
“However, every day we go without policy change, families are separated, our economy falters and the social fabric of America is further weakened.
“Our efforts to bring constructive change to our immigration system will continue. What the administration puts forward will be held up to close to close scrutiny. And what Congress does in the weeks ahead to pour additional resources into the border will be reviewed.
“Now, more than ever, we need immigration policies that move us forward.”
U.S. Conference of Mayors Urges Citizenship
June 27, 2014
Resolution Encourages Permanent Residents to Take Next Step
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution urging policy changes in order to allow more eligible permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.
At its 82nd Annual Meeting in Dallas, the conference appealed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ease the process.
“It is in the interest of the federal government and specifically USCIS to reduce fees for citizenship applicants and to minimize barriers to naturalization by offering alternatives like a sliding-scale income based approach or family unit fee,” the resolution states in part.
“The contributions of immigrants have long strengthened our communities and our economy,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who introduced the resolution. “America’s Mayors call on USCIS to open the floodgates of opportunity by paving the way for more lawful permanent residents to become U.S. citizens.”
The resolution was also co-sponsored by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay.
“U.S. citizenship should not become a privilege limited to wealthy immigrants,” said Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “An investment in immigrant integration pays dividends not just for immigrants and their families, but for our nation as a whole.”
“For America to succeed, immigrants must have the opportunities, skills and status to succeed,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “By stepping up and promoting citizenship, these mayors are blazing a new trail in the integration of immigrants and moving their cities forward.”
Foro anuncia tres nuevos miembros de su junta directiva
June 25, 2014
Washington, D.C. — El Foro Nacional de Inmigración (National Immigration Forum) anunció la semana pasada el nombramiento de tres nuevos miembros de su junta directiva: Manuel Cunha, Jr., Suzii Paynter y Arturo Sarukhan.
“Nos complace dar la bienvenida a estos nuevos directores en este momento crítico para los inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos”, dijo Ali Noorani, Director Ejecutivo del Foro Nacional de Inmigración. “Llegan con inspiración y profunda experiencia en los ámbitos de la agricultura, la religión y la diplomacia. Su visión y su liderazgo se suman a los de un grupo ya destacado de miembros de la junta directiva, provenientes de todos los rincones del país”.
La lista completa de los integrantes de la Junta Directiva del Foro se encuentra disponible aquí.
Manuel Cunha, Jr., se ha desempeñado como presidente de la Liga de Agricultores Nisei desde 1996. La Liga de Agricultores Nisei representa a productores y empresas agrícolas afines y se especializa en problemas laborales, de inmigración, vivienda, transporte y ambientales. Antes de su incorporación a la Liga, Cunha trabajó en la docencia durante trece años.
Suzii Paynter es la tercera coordinadora ejecutiva de la Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, cargo que ocupa desde marzo de 2013. Previamente, Paynter fue directora de la Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission y del Advocacy Care Center de la Baptist General Convention de Texas (BGCT).
Arturo Sarukhan fue embajador de México en los Estados Unidos desde 2007 a 2013. Actualmente es consultor y asesor estratégico internacional. Diplomático de carrera, también se desempeñó como Cónsul General de México en la ciudad de Nueva York y como coordinador de política exterior de la campaña presidencial de Felipe Calderón y el equipo de transición, en 2006.
Bipartisan House Bill Would Encourage Citizenship
June 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) and Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) announced that they are introducing the New American Success Act.
The bill would help new Americans integrate quickly by working to smooth access to English-language, civics and other programs through the naturalization process.
In remarks about the bill, Ros-Lehtinen highlighted the Bethlehem Project and the participation of many hotels in her district. Wendy Kallergis, CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, attended the press conference announcing the bill.
“The Bethlehem Project has allowed us to offer citizenship services onsite to our employees, including English and civics education,” Kallergis said. “The New American Success Act is exciting because it would allow more businesses and communities to reap the benefits of initiatives like the Bethlehem Project.”
The bill would establish an office and task force to streamline integration initiatives and make policy recommendations, create a grant program to assist eligible organizations that assist immigrants with the naturalizations process, and establish “Integration Success Grants” to encourage integration partnerships among states, municipalities and nonprofits.
“With [Integration Success] Grants, creative programs such as the Bethlehem Project can become more expansive to include things like financial literacy and the other education opportunities that accelerate the integration process, along with non-traditional partners like the private sector,” Ros-Lehtinen said in her statement.
“It’s good to see bipartisan support for new Americans,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Like the Bethlehem Project’s dozens of local business partners, Congress is recognizing the benefits our communities and economy reap when we help immigrants become fully contributing American citizens.”
Senate Confirms Leon Rodriguez as Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services
June 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the United States Senate confirmed Leon Rodriguez as Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Rodriguez moves from his position as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he has been since September 2011.
After the confirmation, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“Leon Rodriguez brings strong executive-branch experience to this post, and we congratulate him on his confirmation as USCIS director.
“We look forward to continuing to work with USCIS to make sure immigration policy is being implemented effectively and is helping new Americans contribute fully. And as Congress decides whether to move forward with immigration reform, we hope to be able to work with Leon on implementing a new immigration process.”
New Leadership Has Mandate to Lead on Immigration
June 19, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the House Republican conference voted Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) in as the new Majority Leader.
After the vote, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“We congratulate Congressman McCarthy on his election as House Majority Leader and Congressman Scalise as Majority Whip. Like conservatives nationwide, the new Majority Leader and Majority Whip recognize that our immigration system is broken and that we need a new process.
“As Rupert Murdoch wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal, ‘One of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform.’ And as Sheldon Adelson wrote in Politico, also today, ‘As a Republican, it’s my view that efforts to complete immigration reform should be led by our party.’
“The clear majorities McCarthy and Scalise secured highlight the opening for reform to move forward this summer. Today, House Leadership received a mandate to lead.
“From pastors to police chiefs to business owners, Americans of all stripes look to new House leadership to move forward with immigration reform.”
Forum Announces Three New Board Members
June 18, 2014
Washington, D.C. — Today the National Immigration Forum announced the appointment of three new board members: Manuel Cunha, Jr., Suzii Paynter and Arturo Sarukhan.
“We’re pleased to welcome these new leaders to the board at this critical moment for immigrants in America,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “They bring breadth and depth of experience in the agriculture, faith and diplomatic communities. Their vision and leadership add to an already impressive group of board members from all corners of America.”
The full membership of the Forum’s Board of Directors is available here.
Manuel Cunha, Jr., has served as president of the Nisei Farmers League since 1996. The Nisei Farmers League represents growers and related agricultural businesses and specializes in labor, immigration, housing, transportation and environmental issues. Before joining the league in 1987, Cunha was an educator for 13 years.
Suzii Paynter is the third executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a position she has held since March 2013. Previously, Paynter served as the director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and director of the Advocacy Care Center of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).
Arturo Sarukhan served as Mexican ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2013. He is an international strategic consultant and advisor. A career diplomat, Sarukhan also served as Mexico's Consul-General to New York City and foreign policy coordinator for Felipe Calderón's presidential campaign and transition team in 2006.
Looking for Leaders on Immigration Reform
June 10, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In light of Eric Cantor’s primary defeat this evening, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“In states and districts where Republicans led on immigration and did not try to play both sides, they won handily. Look at Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Renee Ellmers in North Carolina and a host of others.
“Eric Cantor’s loss is about local politics more than immigration. At the same time, he tried to play both sides of the immigration debate, and he got burned.
“Constituents are looking for leaders. It’s time for Speaker Boehner to lead immigration reform forward.”
Advocates Support Move to Assist Migrant Children
June 06, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Responding to the humanitarian challenge of unaccompanied migrant children crossing into the U.S., today the Department of Justice and the Corporation for National and Community Service announced that they will partner to provide legal assistance to vulnerable children.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Latino Evangelical Coalition and National Immigration Forum have been paying close attention to this urgent situation, and leaders from these groups responded to today’s announcement:
“It is vital that these vulnerable children receive help navigating our complex legal system,” said Kevin Appleby, Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs. “They have real protection claims which should be heard. Without legal assistance, the likelihood of them receiving relief goes down dramatically.”
“As an evangelical, the commitment to defend the most vulnerable is at the core of the Gospel, which transcends partisanship. Helping children transcends political points,” said the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
“Our first priority has to be the safety and well-being of this most vulnerable group of children,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “This is a humanitarian crisis, not a political issue. We’re glad to see this response.”
‘Only a Stopgap Measure’: Renewal of Deferred Action Underscores Need for Permanent Reform
June 05, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Department of Homeland Security announced the process by which young people who have received deferred action can renew their enrollment for another two years.
With the announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published a revised application form for both renewals and initial applications. In addition to the initial guidelines, renewal applicants must have resided in the U.S. continuously since their last request for deferred action and must not have left the country since Aug. 15, 2012, without advance permission. In addition, they must pass a new background check.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding DACA renewal:
“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has allowed more than half a million young aspiring Americans to contribute to our society. Young people are working or continuing their educations, building a more promising future for themselves and for our country.
“For the United States to truly embrace and solidify these benefits, we need Congress to vote for a permanent immigration process that includes the opportunity for hardworking immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship.
“DACA remains a wise prioritization of government resources, but it is only a stopgap measure. Real reform will allow law enforcement to focus on real threats to public safety rather than on law-abiding immigrants for whom America is home. And, most important, commonsense reforms will stabilize families and communities so we can all work together toward a stronger America, no matter where you were born.”
The National Immigration Forum Welcomes Cathleen Farrell and Jacinta Ma
June 04, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Immigration Forum announced the hiring of a new Director of Communications and a new Director of Policy and Advocacy today.
Cathleen Farrell, formerly with the Inter-American Development Bank, will lead the communications team. With 30 years of experience as a bilingual communications expert and reporter, Ms. Farrell brings a wealth of knowledge to the table on leveraging communications and digital media on behalf of immigrants.
Jacinta Ma, previously with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, will head up the Forum’s policy team. Thanks to her decades of experience in the federal government and immigrant rights organizations, Ms. Ma brings a broad range of expertise on immigration and its impact on our nation.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, welcomed the two new hires with the following statement:
“Cathleen and Jacinta are joining the National Immigration Forum at a critical time. With legislation likely on the move this summer, their expertise and leadership will be invaluable in the coming weeks and beyond.
“Their dedication and talent will help as we continue to press for commonsense immigration reform — and set about implementing an immigration agenda that ensures America prospers by making sure new Americans have the skills, opportunities and status to succeed.”
Forum, Bethlehem Project Support First Annual Immigrant Heritage Month
June 03, 2014
Nationwide Effort to Highlight Immigrant Impact
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Immigration Forum and the Bethlehem Project are pleased to participate in the first Immigrant Heritage Month this month.
The initiative, organized by Welcome.us, includes individual, organizational and business partners across the country who will share inspirational immigrant stories and reflect on the critical role of immigrants and immigration in our nation’s history and future.
The Forum’s Bethlehem Project already has helped thousands of eligible immigrant employees at more than 70 businesses in six cities become citizens and integrate more into the workplace, community and economy.
“Immigrants are the foundation of our nation, and our future is brighter for having hardworking new immigrants contributing to our communities,” said Mark Falzone, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum. “The Bethlehem Project provides a win-win situation for both businesses and employees. Companies build loyalty when they open the door to citizenship, and employees have a better chance to pursue the same American dream as so many before them.”
“In the United States, with a good idea and enough hard work, anything is possible,” said Tolu Olubunmi, Executive Director of Welcome.us. “American success is a result of our many distinct experiences, not in spite of it. Our goal is to encourage as many Americans as possible to tell the story of how they first felt welcomed to the American experience. Our history and stories will help determine our future.”
Join the conversation on Twitter using #welcomeus.
DHS Updates Customs and Border Protection’s Use of Force Policy
May 30, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an updated Use of Force Policy for its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. In addition, the department released an earlier review of its policy by the nonprofit, third-party Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the release of these two documents:
“Today’s release continues a positive trend toward transparency at the Department of Homeland Security. We look forward to reviewing the updated policy. We anticipate seeing new policies implemented in a way that promotes measured use of force at the border and that improves border patrol agents’ safety and security.”
National Groups Weigh In on Immigration Reform Timetable
May 27, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following statement was issued by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), National Immigration Forum, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sojourners, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration:
“In the last few months, the national debate on immigration reform has been fraught with questions on the timing of when the U.S. House of Representatives or President Barack Obama would act on addressing our country’s heightening moral crisis.
“While we stand united in our belief that both Congress and the president share the responsibility to tackle our broken immigration system, Speaker John Boehner and the House have a real window of opportunity to pass lasting immigration reform legislation by August.
“For the good of the country, we urge Speaker Boehner and his colleagues to seize this moment. After so many promises, inaction now would be more than a lost opportunity; it would be a moral and economic loss.
“During this interim, we strongly urge President Obama and his Administration to allow for this process to take place before issuing administrative action. We believe the President should move cautiously and give the House Leadership all of the space they may need to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.
“Should the House fail to move forward during this window, the Administration will have an obligation to use whatever tools are at its disposal under the law to prevent the tragic family break-ups and economic disruption that has become the daily norm.
“We sincerely hope it will not come to that, because any such administrative reforms must necessarily be partial and temporary compared with what legislation can accomplish.
“Make no mistake, we will not stop pressuring members of the House during this timetable. Our communities, representing workers, civil rights advocates, faith, business and law enforcement from across both sides of the aisle, are determined to urge Congress to deliver immigration reform.
“We know that House leaders can act. We know that nothing stands in their way. The time is now.”
Amid ENLIST Act Debate, Congress Must Keep Eye on Broader Immigration Reform
May 20, 2014
Momentum Builds for Broad Immigration Solutions
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, as part of its deliberations over the National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee will consider an amendment that would enable young undocumented immigrants to serve in the Armed Forces.
If, as expected, the amendment is not included in the final bill, this is not a signal of what's to come for reform. Two momentum-boosting polls released in the past week breathe new life into prospects for broad immigration reform this summer.
In a poll released Wednesday, the Partnership for a New American Economy, Americans for Tax Reform and the Tea Party Express found strong support for immigration reform from an unlikely cadre of Republican primary voters who identify with the Tea Party. In a separate poll released Monday, Politico found 64 percent of Republican respondents want a solution to our broken immigration system.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement about the momentum for passing broad immigration reform:
"Real immigration reform is too broad to tackle in an amendment to a defense reauthorization bill. Immigration reform that provides stability to our families, communities and economy requires a broader conversation in Congress.
"The two polls released in the last week speak to an unprecedented impetus and urgency for that conversation. Republicans clearly have support to pass commonsense immigration solutions this summer.
"This Congress hasn't seen American voters support any issue as widely as they support immigration reform. Congress must keep its eye on the ball and focus its efforts on getting votes on reform this summer."
Rank-and-File Republicans Open Door for Immigration Reform
April 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As House Speaker John Boehner tries to strike a delicate balance within his party on immigration reform, members of his party in the House are acknowledging and encouraging movement toward reform this year.
“[Undocumented immigrants] are Americans, and we need to acknowledge that and find a way, to those that wish to be a part of the American dream for opportunity, to make them legal,” Congressman Joe Barton (TX-06) said Friday.
“I believe there is a path that we get a bill on the floor by August,” Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said Sunday.
Additional support has come from Reps. Aaron Schock (IL-18), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) and others.
And today, more than 250 local evangelical pastors are on Capitol Hill for meetings with more than 100 congressional offices, further bolstering support for members of Congress who recognize the urgency for reform.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the conversation around reform:
“Republicans and Democrats alike now recognize that reform is not a matter of if, but of when. It’s good to see members of Congress follow the lead of their constituents, who support reform that produces security, stability and growth.
“The chorus calling for a vote this year is growing louder. Congress is starting to listen.”
Solution to Deportations Requires a Vote on Immigration Reform
April 07, 2014
Broken Policies, Politics Put America Between a Rock and a Hard Place
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sunday, Jeb Bush spoke about the importance of family unity and the effect our outdated immigration policies have on families. And this morning, the New York Times published an in-depth analysis on deportations in the past few years.
Bush’s comments and the deportation data both underscore the destabilizing effects our broken immigration system has on families, communities and our nation as a whole — effects that are leading moderate and conservative leaders across the country to call for a vote on immigration reform this Congress.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the path forward on reform:
“With a broken immigration system, America is between a rock and a hard place. We have an unprecedented, unfocused enforcement system on one end and a recalcitrant, reactionary Congress on the other. As a result, families are separated, the economy is undermined and communities across America are destabilized. Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to put policy above politics and vote on reform.
“There’s no question that law enforcement is part of the conversation on reform, but we cannot enforce our way to a solution. The only way we enforce our borders and address the alarming effects of deportations at the same time is through congressional action. It’s absolutely imperative that Congress find the middle ground.”
Bipartisan House Bill Would Improve Transparency at Our Borders
March 26, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the nation awaits a vote on broad immigration reform that will bring long-term stability and security to our families and our economy, bipartisan members of the House are taking a step to improve border policy.
Today Congressmen Steve Pearce (NM-02) and Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) are introducing a border accountability bill that deals with training and oversight of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It would increase training and would require greater transparency and reports on the use of force and migrant deaths.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the bipartisan effort:
“A bipartisan bill from the border and for the border is a significant step toward a commonsense enforcement policy. This legislation would help ensure that transparency within Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a requirement, not just an option.
“The administration also is prioritizing greater transparency and should continue to do so. For example, CBP should release the Police Executive Research Forum’s report on its use-of-force policy. The bottom line is that we need humane border policy that boosts safety and security.
“Republicans and Democrats can work together. The nation is ready for immigration reform, and bipartisan proposals such as this bill can point the way forward toward real solutions.”
Noorani, Immigration Leaders Meet with President Obama
March 14, 2014
Amid Deportation Review, Long-term Answers Are in Congress’s Hands
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, President Obama met with immigration leaders concerned about our nation’s broken immigration system. The gathering comes on the heels of Catholic and evangelical leaders’ meetings with key Republican House offices on Wednesday and amid local faith, law enforcement and business leaders’ continuing appeals for Congress to move forward.
This week’s events underscore that national leaders and local constituents will not let up on their members of Congress, but instead will keep up the push for commonsense reform this year.
“At today's meeting with the President I reaffirmed the Hispanic evangelical commitment to call for an immigration reform vote in the House this year,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, who participated in both the evangelical-Catholic meetings and today’s meeting with the president. “While we affirm an administrative review of deportation policies the reality is that we need a vote to fix a broken system that is hurting families. Evangelicals, business, and law enforcement want a vote this year.”
“Our current immigration system destabilizes our nation’s families, communities and economy,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, who was also in today’s White House meeting. “The president’s request for a review recognizes that. But the long-term answer must come from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Only Congress can pass broad immigration reform that emphasizes our security and ensures economic, family and community stability.
“The ultimate responsibility for the laws and resources that lead to deportation lies with Congress. They must act. This year.”
Ali Noorani Joins Immigration Meeting with President Obama
March 14, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Obama meets with immigration leaders today, conservative support for congressional action on immigration reform continues to build around the country, fueled by the unprecedented mobilization of those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business. Since January 2013, these unlikely allies have organized 370 events, generated more than 1,000 news stories and held hundreds of meetings with members and their offices.
“As we approach the unprecedented number of 2 million deportations, too many of them unnecessary, conservative pastors, local law enforcement and business owners want an end to outdated policies that separate families, decrease public safety, and destabilize our economy. These leaders see immigrants not just as workers or customers, but as valued members of their families, congregations and communities,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, in advance of his meeting with the President.
“We support the president's review of the administration's deportation process, but it is clearly a stopgap measure; to permanently fix the broken system, Congress must once and for all enact commonsense reforms to our immigration system. For real solutions, the House must vote on immigration reform this year.”
Department of Homeland Security Releases Use-of-Force Policies
March 07, 2014
Release Represents Important Step toward Departmental Transparency
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its existing use-of-force policies for the department as a whole as well as its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. Chief of the Border Patrol Michael Fisher also released a directive on safe tactics in the use of force at the border.
The release follows Los Angeles Times coverage of a report, conducted by the nonprofit, third-party Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which reviewed the use-of-force policies in place at DHS.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the release of the use-of-force policies:
“We are encouraged by the Department on Homeland Security’s transparency in releasing their use-of-force policies, and we applaud Secretary Jeh Johnson’s first step toward fulfilling his commitment to run a transparent department.
“This release is an important step in the right direction: toward measured use of force on the border and increased safety and security for our border patrol agents.
“We look forward to continued transparency around our border security, and we encourage the department to release the full PERF report on the department’s use-of-force policies and procedures.”
Gil Kerlikowske Confirmed as Head of Customs and Border Protection
March 06, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gil Kerlikowske as the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
After the confirmation, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“We congratulate Gil Kerlikowse on his confirmation as the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. His years of experience as a law enforcement officer and our nation’s drug czar will help him tackle the daily challenges of this post.
“We hope he will bring additional transparency to Customs and Border Protection, especially when it comes to the agency’s use of force policy. The security of our nation’s borders is also a critical component of the immigration reform discussion, and Kerlikowske will provide the leadership Customs and Border Protection needs to continue to prioritize an effective border security strategy.
“As bipartisan immigration reform moves forward this year, we look forward to working closely with the new commissioner on prioritizing a secure border within the context of immigration reform.”
The Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act: A Step in the Wrong Direction
March 04, 2014
House Judiciary to Mark Up Congresswoman Black’s Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) has scheduled a markup Wednesday morning of the Immigration Compliance Enforcement Act, sponsored by GOP Congresswoman Diane Black (TN-06).
The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for critical immigration positions within the office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including Public Advocate and Deputy Assistant Director of Custody Programs.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding Wednesday’s committee markup:
“Immigration reform is a top priority nationwide. Members of both parties, including Chairman Goodlatte, have gone on the record in favor of fixing our broken immigration system.
“Tomorrow’s markup is a step in the wrong direction. Rather than signaling a desire to move forward, it entertains an effort to make our immigrant detention system more dysfunctional by cutting critical positions.
“It’s time that our representatives stop playing politics by putting forward unnecessary proposals and get back to the business of passing the bipartisan reform that millions of Americans want.”
Additional Child Tax Credit Vote Could Harm One Million Undocumented Youth
February 11, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment proposed by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) on the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).
The amendment would deny the refundable Child Tax Credit to 1 million undocumented youth.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding today’s vote:
“This amendment targets the most vulnerable among us — young, undocumented children from low-income families.
“If we are to realize any immigration changes this year, they must be compassionate and broad efforts to better the lives of all who call our nation home, strengthen our economy and live up to our history as a nation of immigrants.
“Today’s amendment does none of those things. Rather, it’s a punitive measure that could endanger close to 1 million immigrant children.
“At its most basic level, our movement is about the future, and the children this amendment would harm are an important part of that future.”
N-400 Form Change Highlights Significance of Citizenship Process
February 04, 2014
New Paper Underscores Critical Importance of Citizenship
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the nation’s 8.8 million green card holders eligible for citizenship, taking the critical step to becoming a citizen is about to require much more information.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this morning that in 90 days, the N-400 — the citizenship application form all aspiring Americans must fill out — will double in length.
With today’s announcement and in the midst of an ongoing national debate on immigration reform, the National Immigration Forum released a new policy paper today on the merits of citizenship. The paper outlines the socioeconomic benefits for new Americans and their communities, as well as the huge swath of support citizenship has across the political spectrum.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement about the importance of citizenship and the N-400 form change:
“We’ve had a very active couple of weeks on immigration reform, but today’s USCIS announcement about the N-400 form allows us to re-examine the very important issue of citizen integration.
“As we continue to debate the merits of immigration, let’s not forget about the 8.8 million green card holders eligible for citizenship right now.
“They are a source of untapped economic and social potential. Instead of making their citizenship application process longer, we should be promoting citizenship and all the socioeconomic benefits associated with it.”
House Republicans Release Standards on Immigration Reform
January 30, 2014
Move Represents Important Step Toward Reform this Year
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today during the annual House Republican retreat, Republicans released standards on immigration reform. The standards discuss ways to reform our broken immigration system in a way that secures our nation’s borders, meets the needs of employers and addresses legalization, including citizenship for DREAMers.
In response, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“With today’s release of these standards, House leaders are showing their sincere intentions to take action on commonsense immigration reform this Congress. Republicans and Democrats now must commit to a respectful debate that moves us forward as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.
“It won’t be easy. But both parties have unparalleled support from their constituents. From farms to corner offices and from police stations to church pews, Americans continue to urge reform.
“We applaud the release of these principles as a concrete, positive step toward commonsense reform. The next step is legislative action.
“House leadership recognizes that this long overdue debate will move our country forward. They must stay focused on commonsense reform that will boost our economy, help us treat our neighbors compassionately and keep our communities safe.”
State of the Union Highlights Bipartisan Support for Immigration Reform
January 28, 2014
President’s Speech and Republican Response Both Address Need for Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This evening, President Obama gave his State of the Union Address from the U.S. House of Representatives, followed by a rebuttal from Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05).
After the speeches, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“Tonight’s remarks were an encouraging sign of the road ahead on immigration reform in 2014.
“Immigration holds a unique space in today’s Congress as one of the few issues with such unparalleled bipartisan support. President Obama’s comments coupled with Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers’ highlight this exceptional opportunity for bipartisan work moving forward.
“The upcoming release of the Republican standards combined with the choice of Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for the State of the Union response underscores House Leadership’s full intentions to address commonsense immigration reform this Congress.
“As fourth-ranking House Republican, the congresswoman has a history of strongly supporting immigration reform, saying that Congress ‘must pass immigration reform’ and noting that ‘it’s a priority for Republicans, [and] for Democrats.’
“On the heels of tonight’s encouraging remarks from both sides of the aisle, we look forward to a productive 2014 for immigration reform.”
A New Year’s Resolution for Congress: Immigration Reform in 2014
January 02, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to today’s New York Times, House Speaker John Boehner is “committed to what he calls ‘step by step’ moves to revise immigration laws.” Following a year in which support for broad, bipartisan reform gained momentum across the political spectrum, 2014 offers renewed prospects for Congress and the nation to reap the benefits of a new immigration process.
“Speaker Boehner and other House Republican leaders want to get immigration reform done,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “They have broadening support among their constituents to make it happen.
“In 2013, a strong majority of Americans realized we need a new immigration process. In 2014, that majority expects not just talk but action. Democratic and Republican leaders alike need to rise above political gamesmanship and pass reform that honors our values and benefits all Americans.
“All signs point to immigration reform in 2014.”
Senate Confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
December 20, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, the United States Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as the new Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
After the confirmation, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“We congratulate Alejandro Mayorkas on his appointment as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
“With his extensive immigration experience as director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Mayorkas is well prepared for this challenging post.
“Now that DHS has its secretary and deputy secretary in place, it has the leadership it needs as it continues to prioritize a secure border and uphold the laws of this nation of immigrants. As broad, bipartisan immigration reform moves forward in Congress next year, we also look forward to working with this new leadership on implementing a new immigration process.”
ICE Announces Annual Deportation Numbers
December 19, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced deportation numbers for fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30. Total deportations numbered 368,644.
However, tens of thousands of individuals who had no criminal conviction were deported from the United States. As noted in a newly updated National Immigration Forum policy paper released today, “An increasing number of states, counties, and localities are starting to reconsider how they respond to ICE detainers.”
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“It’s clear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is working to focus its resources on deporting criminals. We are encouraged that a higher proportion of deportees had criminal convictions.
“But ICE is still removing people with no criminal record who are just trying to build a life in America — including tens of thousands this past year. These numbers highlight the urgency for broad immigration reform from Congress that stresses accountability and moves our country forward. In 2014, leaders simply must follow through on a new immigration process that emphasizes security, freedom, opportunity and human dignity.”
Top Conservative Leaders Laud Successes of 2013, Urge Action on Immigration Reform in 2014
December 18, 2013
**For recording of today’s call click here.**
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform (BBB) leaders hosted a media call to highlight the progress made on immigration reform in 2013 and the opportunities 2014 holds. Speakers discussed the unique momentum for reform in the final year of the 113th Congress.
The following quotes can be attributed to participants in today’s media call:
Al Cardenas, Chairman, American Conservative Union:
“I am encouraged by the positive activity in the House Chamber toward passage of conservative and principled immigration reform. There remains a lot of work ahead but I am hopeful about its prospects next year.”
Randel K. Johnson, Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
“The time is now for immigration reform. We’ve got work ahead of us, but no one in this coalition is into tilting at windmills; we believe we can get this done. We’re going to continue working hard over the next several months. It’s our job to keep moving forward and lay the groundwork for reform, and that’s what we’ll continue to do at the U.S. Chamber.”
Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“There are several ways that our country is deeply divided, but immigration reform is not one of those areas. There is a remarkable consensus in the country that our immigration system isn’t working as is. As an evangelical Christian I believe that our immigrant neighbors are not issues, they’re persons created in the image of God, and we need to find a solution to a system that is hurting people. We have a remarkable consensus that this system is broken, and I really am optimistic about the prospects of good, sensible, and law-respecting as well as compassionate immigration reform next year.”
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform:
“I am optimistic that the issue of immigration reform has been advanced this year and is well positioned for 2014. We have seen both individual congressmen and senators as well as the broader movements all moving toward support for broader reforms, and the ‘anti’ voices receding both in terms of numbers and of loudness. I think we’re on track for action this coming year, and the center-right coalition is in a better place on immigration than any time in recent history.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“Across the country and across the political spectrum, Americans are urging members of Congress to support commonsense immigration reform. As Congress embarks on their holiday recess, we see momentum building in the House of Representatives. The fact is, the prospects for immigration reform have never been better.”
Join the conversation on Twitter using #Ready4Reform.
Senate Confirms Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security
December 17, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This evening, the United States Senate voted to confirm Jeh Johnson as the new Secretary of Homeland Security.
After the confirmation, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“We congratulate Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on his appointment to one of the most challenging jobs in Washington.
“He comes into the position at a crucial time for immigration: tasked with enforcing a broken system while we wait for Congress to move forward on immigration reform.
“We look forward to working with him on enforcing a secure border, extending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, streamlining our immigration system and eventually implementing broad, bipartisan immigration reform.
“The coming year stands to be a blockbuster year for immigration. We congratulate Secretary Johnson, and we look forward to working together.”
ICYMI: Bipartisan Budget Vote Sets Stage for Immigration Reform
December 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a strong example of bipartisan agreement, the House of Representatives passed a two-year budget deal on Thursday in a 332-94 vote. Speaker John Boehner showed emphatic support for the agreement, perhaps foreshadowing the path forward for bipartisan immigration reform efforts in 2014.
“Our lawmakers’ abilities to work across the aisle will continue to be crucial for us to overhaul our broken immigration system,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “The budget deal is a powerful example of Republicans and Democrats leading the country forward.
“The budget vote displayed Speaker Boehner’s great willingness to work across the aisle and move forward on issues that have bipartisan support. We look forward to similar leadership in 2014 on the most bipartisan issue in front of Congress: immigration reform.”
As President Speaks, Americans are Ready for Immigration Reform
November 25, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon, President Obama gave a speech on immigration reform in San Francisco. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, regarding President Obama’s speech:
“President Obama is right when he says ‘it is long past time to reform an immigration system that doesn’t serve America as well as it should.’ And America agrees.
“According to a report today from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, 60 percent of Republicans favor an opportunity to earn citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally. Majorities of white evangelical Protestants (55 percent), white mainline Protestants (60 percent), Catholics (62 percent), minority Protestants (69 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated (64 percent) also favor such an opportunity for earned citizenship.
“Meanwhile, in today’s Washington Times, Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, wrote of his support for immigration reform as an evangelical Christian and a political conservative.
“So, while the focus is squarely on Speaker Boehner and his leadership team, he can rest assured that Americans of all stripes are ready for reform and have his back.
“Over the course of year, we have seen the Senate pass bipartisan immigration reform, and House committees have voted on five immigration bills. But every day, the case for immigration reform becomes more clear. The time is now to bring legislation to the House floor.”
Cantor: ‘We Remain Committed’ to Immigration Reform
November 15, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a conversation with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05) this afternoon on the floor of the House of Representatives, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA-07) spoke of Republicans’ commitment to immigration reform, although he would not commit to a timeline.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, issued the following statement regarding Majority Leader Cantor’s comments:
“Both parties recognize that our immigration system is broken, and both parties want to create a new immigration process that works for all Americans. Majority Leader Cantor’s comments make that clear.
“As the majority leader noted, Republican members of Congress are looking for meaningful votes on reform. So are their constituents. As we have seen time and time again in recent weeks and months, conservative leaders support action on immigration reform.
“Action is the key word here. Congress knows we need a better immigration process. House Republicans have the support they need to move reform forward — from conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders, and from a significant majority of likely voters in Republican districts.
“Immigration reform will create a stronger America. It is time for Congress to transcend politics and make it so.”
It’s Time to Turn Assurances into Action
November 13, 2013
Speaker Boehner’s Comments Emphasize Need to Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a press conference this morning, Speaker John Boehner spoke of the path forward for immigration reform in the House and reaffirmed his commitment to getting immigration reform done.
Tomorrow, faith, law enforcement and business leaders are coming together for a press conference to further double down on the urgency of reform.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, issued the following statement regarding Speaker Boehner’s comments:
“Across the political spectrum, Americans are ready for reform. The 600 conservative leaders who pushed for reform in the House two weeks ago understand the time is now. So do our nation’s millions of businesses, faith communities, law enforcement officers and immigrants.
“But the need for legislative principles is long past. Americans are ready for legislation to move, votes to be taken and bills to be signed that create a 21st century immigration process.
“Speaker Boehner and his leadership team have the support of conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders in districts across America.
“When 70 percent of likely general election voters in Republican districts rate fixing the immigration system as ‘very important,’ it is time to act.
“Over the years, the policy solutions haven’t changed, but the politics of immigration certainly have. The time is now to pass immigration reform.”
President Obama: “Let’s Get Immigration Reform Done in a Bipartisan Fashion”
October 24, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier today, President Obama delivered prepared remarks where he once again called for a bipartisan solution to our broken immigration system.
Speaking at the White House, Obama cited the unprecedented support that immigration reform has from the faith, business and law enforcement communities.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding President Obama’s remarks.
“In the past two days, leaders from both sides of the aisle have urged bipartisan immigration reform. Yesterday, it was Speaker Boehner citing his hopefulness at passing a bill this year. Today, it was President Obama urging a solution in the same time frame.
“Congress is facing no other issue that has the bipartisan support immigration reform has in Washington — and throughout the country.
“Next Tuesday, nearly 600 local conservative leaders will come to Washington to meet with their Republican members of Congress. These Bibles, Badges and Business leaders will echo the message they’ve been hearing on Main Street over the last 18 months: Americans are ready for reform this year.
“Pastors will bring a message informed by Scripture and their congregations’ moral urgency for reform. Law enforcement leaders will speak of how reform will help keep their communities safer. And business leaders will emphasize the many economic benefits of immigration reform — from GDP growth to deficit reduction and access to skilled and unskilled labor.
“Momentum for bipartisan reform is at a fever pitch on both sides of the aisle. The time is now. The House of Representatives must find a solution this year.”
Speaker Boehner is “Hopeful” On Immigration Reform This Year
October 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, while addressing reporters during a question and answer session, House Speaker John Boehner (OH-08) held open the possibility of bringing up immigration reform for a vote on the House floor this year.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding Speaker Boehner’s remarks.
“We welcome Speaker Boehner’s remarks on the possibility that immigration reform will come up for a vote this year. Clearly, House Republican leaders are prioritizing reform. Congressmen Mario Díaz-Balart, Darrell Issa and Bob Goodlatte also have given positive signals recently.
“These comments and reports from Republican leadership are certainly positive, and that’s why the momentum of support from our nation’s local conservative leaders only continues to build.
“On Tuesday, Speaker Boehner will be among the dozens of House Republicans who will hear from more than 400 local leaders who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business. These leaders will share their powerful stories and urge their members of Congress to vote ‘yes’ on reform this fall.
“The time for bipartisan reform that protects family values, upholds the rule of law and grows the economy has come. The nation’s pastors, police chiefs and business owners are ready for reform.”
Republicans Continue Immigration Work Behind the Scenes
October 22, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported today that House Republicans are working to address some of the thorniest issues on immigration reform.
According to the Journal, Republican Congressmen Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25) and Darrell Issa (CA-49) are working separately on measures that would address the legal status of 11 million undocumented immigrants, give them a chance to get right with the law and, in Issa’s case, offer certain undocumented immigrants temporary legal status.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding today’s news on Republican movement:
“The work that Congressmen Díaz-Balart and Issa are putting in on immigration reform is emblematic of the groundswell of conservative support for reform that’s been growing over the last year.
“Across the nation, Republican members of Congress are hearing the call from local conservative leaders for an immigration reform solution based on free market principles, family values and a smart border enforcement strategy. That call will be echoed on October 29, when 300 faith, law enforcement and business leaders visit with their elected members of Congress on Capitol Hill for an unprecedented gathering of pro-reform conservatives.
“Although we await details of their respective proposals, today’s news signals what Bibles, Badges and Business leaders across the country knew long ago to be true: Americans are ready for reform and immigration reform is not a partisan issue.
“The time is now for Democrats and Republicans in the House to work together to pass commonsense immigration reform.”
Statement on Jeh Johnson’s Nomination As Secretary of Homeland Security
October 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this afternoon, President Obama formally announced Jeh Johnson’s nomination as the next Secretary of Homeland Security.
After the announcement, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“Jeh Johnson is primed to take over one of the most challenging jobs in Washington.
“Should he be confirmed, he’ll immediately be thrust into a position of enforcing a broken immigration system until immigration reform passes.
“We look forward to working closely with him on streamlining our immigration laws and border security enforcement efforts – and eventually collaborating with him on the future implementation of immigration reform legislation.”
President Obama Not Alone In Making Immigration Top Priority
October 16, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tuesday night, during an interview with Univisión, President Obama said that immigration reform legislation would be the top priority as soon as the fiscal crisis draws to a close.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding President Obama’s commitment and the urgency for reform:
“President Obama is not alone in making immigration reform a top priority. Across the country, local and regional conservative leaders continue to showcase their considerable support for members of Congress who back commonsense and bipartisan reform.
“This week, in fact, there are over 400 'Pray4Reform' gatherings in 40 states where evangelical leaders and their congregations are gathering by the hundreds to express the moral urgency for immigration reform. They add to the several dozen Roundtables for Reform that Bibles, Badges and Business leaders have been holding throughout the August recess and beyond to support members of Congress.
“On October 29, Republicans in the House of Representatives will feel that support in person when Illinois sheriffs, Texas preachers, South Carolina farmers and Indiana business owners come to Washington for the Americans for Reform Day of Action.
“These leaders will echo what’s been heard on Main Street over the last 18 months — those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business are ready for reform.
“Immigration reform is the only truly bipartisan issue that the House of Representatives has on its docket — it’s a priority for an overwhelming majority of conservative faith leaders, law enforcement officers and business owners. It must become the top priority for the House of Representatives as soon as possible.”
California’s Trust Act Highlights Urgency for Federal Action
October 08, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act, a law that will ensure that only those unauthorized immigrants with serious criminal histories are turned over by California law enforcement for detention and not those who pose no threat to their communities.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the new California law.
“In the absence of broad immigration reform, states like California are searching for – and passing – smaller-scale fixes for our broken immigration system.
“While efforts like those in California are admirable, we can’t rely on a patchwork of state laws as a solution. Laws like the Trust Act show Congress that the urgency is there for federal action on commonsense immigration reform.
“Lawmakers are coming together at statehouses nationwide to address immigration reform. It’s time for the House of Representatives to take the lead and bring reform to a vote this fall.”
Democrats Unveil Immigration Reform Proposal
October 02, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Earlier this afternoon, Representatives Joe Garcia (FL-26), Judy Chu (CA-27), Steven Horsford (NV-4), Jared Polis (CO-2) and Suzan DelBene (WA-1) unveiled an immigration reform bill.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement on what the Democratic proposal means for immigration reform moving forward:
“Clearly, both Democrats and Republicans are hearing the call for broad immigration reform. This call is coming from constituents across the political spectrum. Today’s announcement continues the conversation in Congress.
“The incredible work of Bibles, Badges and Business leaders and other pro-reform groups is forcing members of both parties to seek commonsense solutions for our broken immigration system.
“The coming weeks will be critical. Immigration reform is up next once Congress addresses the budget and debt ceiling. Democrats and Republicans must prove that they’re able to continue working constructively on behalf of our nation’s businesses, law enforcement officers, faith communities and immigrants.
“Whether it’s in home districts or Capitol Hill offices, we will continue working toward a truly bipartisan bill that respects the rule of law and fulfills our heritage as a nation of immigrants.”
Momentum Grows As October Rolls Around
September 26, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Over the last few weeks, prominent House Republicans and Democrats such as Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) have begun to lay the foundations for an immigration reform debate this fall.
With Congress taking these first steps, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement.
“Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives are laying the groundwork for immigration reform in the coming months.
“Chairman Goodlatte’s commitment to move ahead in October, along with Democrats working through their options, are positive developments. The more eggs in the legislative basket, the better.
“Clearly, representatives from both parties have heard their constituents’ call. We need bipartisan action to replace our broken immigration system.
“But there are still hurdles left to clear. That’s why Bibles, Badges and Business leaders continue to ramp up their support for a rational, bipartisan debate leading to passage of legislation this fall. Whether it is in their home districts or in the nation’s capital, faith, law enforcement and business leaders will emphasize how important commonsense reform is to our economy, our security and our values.
“Congress has the opportunity to lead the country forward. They should grasp it.”
Goodlatte Pledges Action on Immigration Reform as Gang of 7 Fades
September 20, 2013
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) said his party is committed to immigration reform. This positive statement from a House Republican leader stands in contrast to the news that the bipartisan House Gang of 7 — which never introduced legislation and had long been dormant — lost two Republican members earlier today.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the news:
“The important news today is that Chairman Goodlatte has pledged to take action in October on immigration reform that addresses visa shortages and gives DREAMers an earned path to citizenship.
“Goodlatte’s commitment is a significant development. It mirrors similar statements that more than two dozen Republican representatives have made in the past few months. We remain optimistic that the work put in by members of the faith, business and law enforcement communities these past 18 months — and particularly in August — has changed the debate in Washington.
“While pledges are good, dates for floor votes are even better. From their perch, House leadership can see a consensus emerging from their conference: Passing commonsense reform will boost our economy, help us treat our neighbors compassionately and keep our communities safe.”
ICYMI: Businesses Leading the Charge
September 20, 2013
ICYMI: As Businesses Help Employees Become Citizens, Leaders Nationwide Insist House Act on Immigration Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Continuing the refrain from a successful August recess, business leaders nationwide are sending resounding messages on the importance of citizenship and support for urgent action on immigration reform.
As a part of the New Americans Campaign’s celebration of Citizenship Day on Tuesday, businesses, aspiring Americans and immigration advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., and Miami to highlight the work of the Bethlehem Project — a groundbreaking program that partners local service providers with businesses to provide their citizenship-eligible employees with free or discounted citizenship assistance at the worksite.
At the D.C. event, experts discussed citizenship’s benefits to immigrants and to the economy. Marizza Contreras, a legal permanent resident, shared her personal story of how the Bethlehem Project helped her overcome many of the barriers aspiring Americans face. Meanwhile in Miami, citizenship sessions at Baptist Health South Florida allowed aspiring citizens such as Dinorah Soriano to take the first step toward the “opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream” that otherwise would be out of reach.
Business leaders nationwide also have continued their push for immigration reform, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday and more than 100 businesses signing on to a letter to House leadership urging them to pass legislation to overhaul the current, broken immigration system this year. In an ad posted on the Politico website, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reissued a similar letter signed by more than 450 businesses.
Their argument was convincing: immigration reform stands to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, reduce the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion in the next ten years, revitalize cities nationwide and create a stable legal framework for businesses to flourish
The business push was joined by law enforcement officials calling for reform. In North Carolina last week, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff gathered with local faith and business leaders to discuss the importance of immigration reform. The event, hosted by Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the North Carolina Farm Bureau, drew more than 100 attendees and another 100 viewers on the livestream. Secretary Chertoff addressed the unsustainable current immigration system and highlighted the benefits of moral, commonsense reform for the faith, law enforcement and business communities.
The urgency expressed by businesses, faith leaders and law enforcement officials has made an impact on key House leadership. Earlier this week,House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) laid out the most optimistic recent timeline for immigration reform yet, calling for a vote in October.
“The House of Representatives has other issues on its plate right now, but faith, law enforcement and business leaders expect action on immigration soon,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “House members have been taking notice. They know they need to act on commonsense immigration reform that’s good for our nation’s economy, security and moral integrity.”
Businesses, Immigrants and Advocates Shine Light on Economic Benefits of Citizenship
September 17, 2013
The New Americans Campaign Highlights Links between Citizenship and Prosperity
40 Events Nationwide Are Helping Aspiring Americans Take the Final Step Toward Citizenship
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of their nationwide celebration of Citizenship Day, business executives, aspiring Americans and immigration advocates – all partners of the New Americans Campaign – gathered this morning at the Hyatt Regency Washington to highlight the link between citizenship and prosperity.
Using data from a recent University of Southern California study on the economic impact of citizenship at the micro and macro levels, speakers at the event focused on the urgency of helping the country’s 8.8 million legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship take the final step toward their American Dream.
“Our recent estimates suggest that citizenship alone is associated with an 8 to 11 percent increase in earnings annually, with much of this gain seen within the first few years of naturalizing,” noted Justin Scoggins, co-author of the USC study, Citizen Gain: The Economic Benefits of Naturalization for Immigrants and the Economy.
With the economic benefits of citizenship on full display, businesses took the stage and explained their reasons for participating in the Bethlehem Project, a groundbreaking program that partners local service providers with businesses — 26 and counting — to provide their citizenship-eligible employees with free or discounted citizenship assistance at the worksite. The Hyatt Regency Washington also announced that it was inaugurating its first citizenship session later this afternoon.
“We are excited to be launching our inaugural citizenship sessions through the Bethlehem Project today for dozens of our legal permanent resident employees,” said Steve Smith, General Manager at the Hyatt Regency Washington. “Our immigrant workers eligible for citizenship will take an important step towards their American dream in this very room in the coming hours.”
“Offering this excellent benefit to our employees does not affect our bottom line, which allows us to continue to compete as ‘choice-employers,’” added Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association. “We at the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association are excited to partner with the Bethlehem Project for this unique opportunity to offer hospitality to our own community and support to our employees.”
“Innovative, effective strategies are being deployed across the country to facilitate the journey to citizenship for these millions of new Americans,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “It is an honor to work with businesses, service providers and the community to help immigrants take that final step to U.S. citizenship — and along the way help families and our economy prosper.”
Immigration advocates also emphasized the work of the New Americans Campaign — an unprecedented coalition of business, funders, and national and local service providers that’s employing innovative strategies to make citizenship a reality for 8.8 million legal permanent residents.
“We are proud to be celebrating Citizenship Month by working diligently to help eligible legal permanent residents take the next step to become U.S. citizens,” said Max Sevillia, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the NALEO Educational Fund. “These individuals are already making a difference in communities and cities across the country, and this step will enable them to access the rights that will allow them to become full participants in our American democracy.”
“As part of the work of the New Americans Campaign, some of the onus has been placed on providing these services in innovative ways that reflect our target communities’ habits,” added Mark O’Brien, the Executive Director at Pro Bono Net. “Immigrants are often early adopters of technology, which is why CitizenshipWorks provides easy-to-use online tools to help low- and moderate-income individuals to answer important questions about their eligibility, better understand the process and prepare for their citizenship tests.”
Nationwide this month, New Americans Campaign partners are holding more than 40 events that are providing thousands of immigrants eligible for naturalization with free or discounted citizenship services such as legal assistance and seminars.
“We know that almost 9 million people are eligible to become U.S. citizens today, but fewer than 10 percent take that step each year,” said Melissa Rodgers, Project Director at the New Americans Campaign. “As the Project Director for the New Americans Campaign — a national network that includes frontline service providers, advocacy organizations and foundations — I celebrate the men and women who have become citizens in the last year and the thousands more who are attending dozens of citizenship events across the country that our New Americans Campaign partners are organizing this very week. This is also the time to celebrate the value of citizenship to individuals, their families, our economy and our democracy.”
One of the hundreds of new Americans whom the Bethlehem Project has helped summed up the day by citing the need for such services for millions of legal permanent residents like her.
“I came to the United States in 2000. During all this time, I didn’t [apply for] citizenship due to procrastination. I kept putting it off because it was too much money and I couldn’t find the time,” concluded Marizza Contreras, a Bethlehem Project employee participant at The Betsy-South Beach. “I was in the process of hiring a lawyer when the Betsy Hotel presented this wonderful opportunity to work with the Bethlehem Project. Thank you to the Betsy Hotel for making this opportunity available to me and for the Human Resources Department, HR Director Nilmarie Almodovar and the Bethlehem Project staff for providing this incredible service and making it available.”
This work is made possible by the collaboration of the national New Americans Campaign funders: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Grove Foundation, The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, The JPB Foundation and The Open Society Foundations.
Immigration Detention’s Unnecessary Cost
August 22, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — With billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives in the balance, fixing our nation's broken immigrant detention system is a necessary and urgent — though often overlooked — component of commonsense immigration reform.
To further highlight the immigration detention’s high cost to taxpayers, the National Immigration Forum has updated its policy paper "The Math of Immigration Detention" and will hold a #MathOfDetention Twitter Town Hall today to answer questions on the challenges the immigration detention system poses and how reform can help solve them. Follow @ImmPolitic for hourly immigration detention facts and tweet your questions between 2 and 3 p.m. EDT.
The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum regarding the need to provide solutions for the broken detention system:
“The numbers are clear and the message is simple. Once commonsense reform is passed, fewer immigration detainees will mean less of a financial burden on law enforcement’s resources. For example, if ICE were able to take advantage of alternatives to detention and detain only those who pose a real threat, taxpayers could save $1.44 billion per year. As legislators home in their districts listen to their constituents’ support for immigration reform, they should note the strong economic reasons for reform.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program turns one
August 15, 2013
Washington, D.C. -- One year ago today, on Aug. 15, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Two months earlier, the Obama administration had announced the new program. In the year since DACA has been in place, more than 400,000 young undocumented immigrants who meet the program’s requirements have been granted a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation — and the opportunity to work and attend school.
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“DACA has provided a taste of the difference immigration reform can make. There’s no doubt it helped pave the way for the bipartisan debate about reform we are now having. Since its implementation, support for broad, commonsense solutions has only grown, especially within conservative circles.
"Still, DACA is a Band-Aid and not a cure. It is limited and only temporary, and that’s why Congress must move forward with long-term, bipartisan solutions. As shown by the hundred of local events across the country during the August recess, conservative faith, business and law enforcement leaders stand ready to support members who are working to implement commonsense, permanent solutions for Dreamers and aspiring Americans.”
ICYMI: New Study Finds Immigration Reform Will Create Jobs and Boost GDP
July 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immigration reform will create millions of new jobs and boost the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) by billions, according to a study released this morning by Regional Economic Models, Inc. The findings increase the pressure on bipartisan leaders in the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform with a roadmap to earned citizenship.
The study looks at the macroeconomic effects of three key components in the immigration reform debate: the path to legal status, increases in high-skill visas and changes to low-skill visa programs.
Among the key findings are:
• The path to legal status would net 594,000 new U.S. jobs by 2018 and increase GDP by $49.93 billion in that same timeframe.
• Expansion of the H1-B visa program would result in net increase of 1.3 million jobs by 2045 and a GDP increase of more than $158 billion in that same timeframe.
• As a result of the new W-1 visa program, close to 365,000 jobs will be gained by 2045.
“REMI’s exhaustive study spells out what business leaders have been saying all along: Immigration reform will create jobs, boost GDP and drive innovation in all 50 states,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Our nation needs immigration reform because of moral, security and political reasons to be sure. But we need it more than ever in these tough economic times because it’s the right thing to do for our national and state economies.”
Statement on Secretary Napolitano’s Resignation
July 12, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, news broke that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to resign to assume the presidency of the University of California system. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“Secretary Napolitano has one of the most challenging jobs in Washington. She enforces an immigration system that even she recognizes is ‘broken.’ Importantly, Napolitano has welcomed debate. Whether engaging advocates or dealing with enforcement-only hawks, she has been a powerful advocate for immigration reform.
“Her new perch as president of the University of California system will be a powerful place for her to advocate on behalf of immigrant students throughout the state of California. We will look forward to continuing a productive relationship with her successor.”
Statement on House GOP Conference Meeting
July 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the wake of today’s House Republican Conference meeting on immigration reform, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, released the following statement:
“Immigration reform is good policy and good politics regardless of which party one belongs to. American voters — including GOP primary voters — want their leaders to lead on issues like immigration reform.
“Many in today's GOP Conference meeting made it clear that ‘doing nothing isn’t an option.’ That is encouraging. But words are not the immigration legislation Americans are calling for.
“Voters want action on commonsense immigration reform from Congress, and they need it this summer. The clock is ticking.
“Momentum for reform has been growing ever stronger in the past year, and not just among the usual suspects. As the Wall Street Journal put it this morning, ‘The dumbest strategy is to follow the Steve King anti-immigration caucus and simply let the Senate bill die while further militarizing the border. This may please the loudest voices on talk radio, but it ignores the millions of evangelical Christians, Catholic conservatives, business owners and free-marketers who support reform.’
“Those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business want members of Congress to get to work and legislate. The time for talking is over."
A Historic Day for Immigration Reform
June 27, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – By a strongly bipartisan 68-32 margin, S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, became the first commonsense immigration reform bill to clear the U.S. Senate in decades.
Since the Gang of Eight introduced its compromise plan April 17, the Senate has engaged in a transparent, thorough debate on the bill. Republican and Democratic senators have recognized the urgent need to reach agreement on a new and broad immigration process that benefits all Americans, and they have worked together to keep reform moving forward.
After the final vote tally, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement:
“Today's passage reminds us that immigration is about people not just fences. We’ve made real progress because our political leaders are finally realizing that this isn’t about politics; it’s about who we are as a country and how we fulfill our nation’s promise.
“The bill the Senate passed is a compromise. It calls for spending tens of billions to secure a border that already is as secure as it has ever been. Even so, it will be a net positive for our economy. It protects the road to citizenship and it reforms our legal immigration system for the long term. Not least, the momentum it creates gives us our best chance at immigration reform in more than 30 years.
“Attention now turns to the House of Representatives. House leaders must come together in the same bipartisan spirit that defined the Senate debate. We simply cannot replace broad, commonsense reform with a patchwork of piecemeal laws. House leaders will hear what Senate leaders took to heart: Americans want a new immigration process that respects the rule of law and fulfills our heritage as a nation of immigrants.”
A Historic Week
June 24, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – With the Senate on the verge of a historic immigration vote, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, released the following statement regarding the Corker-Hoeven amendment and the continued need for bipartisanship:
“The U.S. Senate is on the cusp of historic change and we urge Senators to vote for reform. After years of work and months of intense negotiation, Senate Bill 744 will create a 21st century immigration system that meets the needs of our nation.
“Over the last week we have witnessed a political whipsaw.
“The Congressional Budget Office report reported S.744—as negotiated by the Senate Judiciary Committee—would lead to $897 billion in savings over the next 20 years. Rather than putting those dollars away, senators are on the verge of deciding to spend an additional $38 billion on border security, increasing the bill's total allocation to security to a whopping $46 billion.
“To put a finer point on it: We are about to spend tens of billions of dollars securing a region with the safest cities, sharing a border with our third largest trading partner and second most common destination for American exports. All without proper attention to oversight or accountability of this massive deployment of resources.
“The overall goal of a tough but fair road to citizenship for the undocumented has been preserved. As has the establishment of a functioning legal immigration system that meets the needs of our economy, workforce and families.
“We support the process moving forward and welcome the influx of Republican and Democratic votes that come with this amendment.
“We are hopeful that the House will glean the lessons of bipartisanship and apply them to their own proceedings. There is no doubt that we are committed to improving the legislation in the conference committee and through its eventual implementation.”
Rumored Border Deal: Final Brick in the Road?
June 20, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, news broke regarding a possible border security deal being worked on in the Senate. In light of the rumors, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, issued the following statement:
“Immigration reform is barreling down a bipartisan road to passage. This potential border deal, which deepens support across the board, could very well be the final brick in the road. This deal appears tough but fair and the momentum it propels is instrumental in pressuring the House to move quickly. .
“Though we haven’t seen amendment language, we understand the main tenets of the Gang of Eight bill have been protected and preserved throughout this process. The time is upon Congress to pass just, humane immigration reform.”
The SAFE Act: Shortsighted and Costly
June 19, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Judiciary Committee approved its first immigration bill late last night. Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, made the following statement regarding the SAFE Act and what it means for law enforcement and immigration reform:
"We are this close to passing broad immigration reform because we have had the support of the law enforcement community. It's a shame that the SAFE Act, which kicks the can to cash-strapped local law authorities to do the work of federal agencies, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee late last night.
"Leaders in the law enforcement community from all political stripes have said that an enforcement-only bill is futile. Requiring state and local law enforcement to do both their job and the job of the federal government is a strain on important local resources. Plus, it breaks down trust between communities and law enforcement. Let’s support legislation that focuses resources on dangerous threats.
“The SAFE Act is a shortsighted, costly approach that is unworkable and would make us less safe. A bipartisan, commonsense bill, like the Gang of 8's, is truly the best way forward for our country."
“CBO —the push Congress needs to move immigration reform past the finish line.”
June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – Following the release of scoring data regarding the S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, by the Congressional Budget Office, Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, released the following statement:
“The Congressional Budget Office’s report confirms what business leaders have been saying all along: Commonsense immigration reform is good for the economy. Both the 10- and 20-year numbers show that reforming our broken immigration system does not add a cent to the national deficit. Rather, the Gang of 8 bill will result in net savings of about $197 billion in the first ten years, and up to $700 billion in 20 years.
“This is the push Congress needs to move broad reform past the finish line.”
Gowdy Immigration Bill Would Be a Burden
June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing this morning on H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act,” Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, released the following statement.
“We need broad immigration reform that makes our communities safer. Extreme bills that reinforce our broken immigration system are simply a waste of valuable time and resources.
“Immigration reform can and must bring honor to the rule of law. Far-reaching reform will require the federal government to accept its responsibility for immigration enforcement, not abdicate it. And it will bring hardworking aspiring Americans out of the shadows so law enforcement can root out true criminals and keep all of us safe.”
On DACA Anniversary, Momentum for Reform Continues to Build
June 14, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which temporarily removes the threat of deportation from young DREAMers — people under the age of 30 who were brought to the United States before age 16 and who meet certain residence, education and public safety requirements. A year in, this policy has become a reality for over 365,000 young immigrants — and momentum for broad, commonsense and permanent immigration solutions has only continued to build.
"As over 365,000 young hard working people have bravely come forward this past year, the country has stood behind them in support. And now a vast majority of Americans are urging Congress to finish the job by making commonsense immigration reform a reality. Deferred Action has proved to be a successful and commonsense program that protects hardworking undocumented young people from deportation," said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. "And, even more, it has given us a hint of what’s to come from immigration reform.
“DACA helped to show what conversations on smart immigration policy can and should look like. Americans have said in study after study that it’s time for common sense solutions that fix our broken immigration system. DACA demonstrated that there must be a permanent, legislative that gives aspiring Americans a chance to contribute fully to the only country they call home. ”
As the immigration reform debate gets under way on the Senate floor, two polls released Thursday, June 13, show the dynamic support for broad immigration reform that has developed. In a Fox News poll, 76 percent of respondents said that passage of immigration reform legislation is important this year, and 74 percent said reform should include a roadmap to earned citizenship for aspiring Americans who meet certain requirements. Separately, a poll sponsored by the Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a New American Economy and Republicans for Immigration Reform found very strong support for reform in 29 states.
In the past year, support for reform also has broadened among faith, law enforcement and business leaders across the country. On Wednesday, more than 100 leaders in the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform (BBB) network came to Washington and met with more than 80 congressional offices to show their support for immigration reform. One of the most inspiring stories of the day was that of Jesus Loya, a Utah angel investor and former DREAMer.
“My American story is one of hard work and perseverance, but it is not unique — I feel compelled to share it on behalf of the millions of aspiring young Americans, like me, who want to give back to the only country they know and love,” Loya said. “That’s why I’m here: to make sure that stories like mine are told, and to help ensure Congress knows that Americans are calling on them to fix our broken immigration system once and for all.”
As the debate in Congress continues to unfold, voters across the political spectrum are watching.
“We have come a long way on the road to immigration reform, but the fight is far from over,” Noorani said. “Deferred Action is a Band-Aid where we need a cure. We look forward to the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that puts into law a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other aspiring Americans.”
Senate to Continue Voting on Amendments Next Week
June 13, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC -- The following is a quote from Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, regarding the close of Senate floor debate for the week:
"This week's floor debate brought us closer to the goal line. The overwhelming bipartisan support on the motion to proceed proved that both Democrats and Republicans are serious about making immigration reform a reality this year.
"So far, senators have filed over 100 amendments, signaling that the Senate proceedings are an open process and fertile ground for compromise. This is the way America wants Congress to work. We are confident Senators on both sides of the aisle will keep their eye focused on the ultimate goal: practical, affordable, commonsense immigration reform."
Progress on S. 744 Bill
June 11, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC -- The following is a quote from Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, regarding President Obama's remarks on immigration reform earlier today and the motion to proceed that passed in the Senate by an 84-15 margin:
"President Obama was right. The Senate's immigration bill is the best chance we've had at reforming our broken system in decades. With the Senate's procedural votes today, the debate has officially begun and momentum continues to grow. Though some senators are still on the fence, it is encouraging that they agree this bill is worthy of floor debate.
"As the Senate debate moves forward to passage before July 4, we encourage leaders in the House to move quickly toward mending our immigration policies and to find workable solutions for all Americans."
Speaker Boehner To Prioritize Immigration Reform
June 10, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC—The following is a quote from Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum, regarding Speaker Boehner's timeline for immigration reform:
“It is encouraging that Speaker Boehner plans to prioritize immigration reform in the House of Representatives this summer by urging a House vote before the August break. As the speaker recognizes, we urgently need a new immigration process to replace our broken system. American voters of all political stripes clearly agree that reform is urgent.
“We agree with leaders in both parties who recognize that comprehensive reform is the only way to prevent a patchwork of laws that would be prone to mismanagement. And we support the bipartisan efforts in both the House and the Senate for broad reform. The debate over commonsense reform must be one of statesmanship, not political gamesmanship. Congress must seize this moment.”
Senate to Debate Broad Immigration Reform on Floor Next Week
June 05, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Next week, the full Senate will begin floor debate on S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 in favor of the bill in May and, during markup, senators approved more than 140 of the nearly 300 amendments submitted. Most represent good-faith efforts to improve the bill and to make government more accountable for its effective implementation. The vast majority of amendments that passed did so with bipartisan support.
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“There’s no doubt we’ve come a long way to get where we are with immigration reform. Getting the Gang of 8 bill over the hurdle of passing the Senate Judiciary Committee was a great victory, but in many ways we are still at the starting line.
“As the Senate takes up floor action on the bill, it is vital that key players in the Senate continue to work in the spirit of compromise and cooperation and that we continue to build upon the momentum that got us this far.
“The American people have said time and time again that they want commonsense immigration reform. And that means reuniting families, recognizing the importance of immigration to our economy and our communities, and including a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. The bill headed for the Senate floor next week does exactly that.
“As we move full speed ahead, let’s keep our eyes on the end-goal and ensure that this broad and balanced bill gets the full support it needs in the Senate.”
Judiciary Committee Sends Broad Immigration Reform to Full Senate
May 21, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a bipartisan vote today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to send S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, on to the full Senate.
Senators on the Judiciary Committee submitted about 300 amendments, of which more than 100 were approved. Most represent good-faith efforts to improve the bill and to make government more accountable for its effective implementation. The vast majority of amendments that passed did so with bipartisan support.
Debate on the Senate floor is likely to begin in early to mid June. Just as the bill heads to the floor, leaders from the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network are coming to Washington June 12 to hold meetings with congressional leaders and show their renewed support for broad, bipartisan reform.
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“Today’s vote represents a major step toward a new immigration process. The bill soon headed for the Senate floor is exactly what America needs. It honors the aspiring Americans who will strengthen our communities and our economy for generations to come. It also honors our history as a nation of laws.
“Americans across the political spectrum recognize that we need commonsense reform. And they support political leaders who show the courage to transcend partisanship, reach across the aisle and develop long-term, broad solutions. That’s what we need to replace our broken immigration system.
“The full Senate must carry this momentum forward and pass a bill that keeps the best interests of our nation in mind. The House also must follow the lead of American voters, Republican and Democrat alike, and pursue wide-ranging reform that respects human dignity and provides for secure borders, safer communities, a stronger economy and a roadmap to citizenship for hardworking American immigrants.
“Much work lies ahead. But today’s bipartisan vote shows the great strides we are making toward an immigration process that works for all Americans.”
Bipartisan House Group Agress in Principle on Immigration Reform
May 17, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers announced that they have reached an agreement in principle on immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship. The announcement came a day after members of the group had suggested Thursday was a make-or-break moment for agreement.
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“The announcement by the House represents major progress and gives immigration reform remarkable momentum. Much work lies ahead in both houses of Congress, but the diverse House group’s willingness to come together is a strong sign of just how far we have come.
“Americans are ready for Congress to show its resolve and continue debating immigration reform in the bipartisan spirit that has prevailed so far. As the debate over the bill in the Senate continues to progress, the House group’s announcement marks an exciting step forward.
“We await the details of the House agreement and bill. The legislation needs a clear and fair road to citizenship, and it must recognize the importance of immigration to our economy, our families and our communities.
“The tide has turned. Political leaders in both houses and both parties are recognizing that we need broad immigration reform this year. They must continue to work together until reform is reality.”
Innovative Citizenship Initiative Launches in Los Angeles
May 14, 2013
Innovative Citizenship Initiative Launches in Los Angeles.
Employees Attend Free Citizenship Workshop at American Apparel
LOS ANGELES — Today, the National Immigration Forum joined American Apparel employees to launch The Bethlehem Project in Los Angeles. Through this innovative citizenship initiative, businesses partner with local immigrant-service organizations such as NALEO, APALC, CARECEN and Catholic Charities to offer their immigrant employees onsite services such as English classes, civics instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications.
Across the country, it’s business that is increasingly leading the charge to help new Americans integrate. Following the launch of the Bethlehem Project in Miami in April, American Apparel becomes the first Los Angeles–area business taking a leadership role by investing in its immigrant workforce — in a city where nearly 1.6 million people are eligible for citizenship.
“In the end, the most important parties involved — our employees — left well-informed and seemingly energized to make the step toward a better life for them and their families,” said Marty Bailey, President of Manufacturing at American Apparel.
The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for. Hardworking immigrants gain essential skills on the worksite that will increase their earning potential and allow them to fully engage as citizens in their new homeland, and businesses will benefit from increased loyalty and better-trained workers.
“The L.A. Area Chamber applauds the efforts American Apparel is putting forth, in conjunction with the National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project, to help eligible immigrant workers pursue citizenship,” said Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is a model that should be replicated nationwide. Encouraging citizenship will improve economic prosperity for all stakeholders involved.”
“The Bethlehem Project is a unique opportunity for employers to support their workers in their journey to becoming American citizens,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “From Miami to Los Angeles and beyond, we’re hearing from business leaders and employees who view this service as good for the bottom line and great for employee morale.”
Senate Moves Toward Substance in Immigration Reform Debate
May 09, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a markup this morning of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, Congress takes another important step forward as it considers broad, commonsense immigration reform. With about 300 amendments introduced this week, senators are clearly prioritizing a new immigration process as they navigate the debate and move forward in bipartisan fashion.
The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“As senators take up the debate, they must remain focused on the end goal: broad, bipartisan reform. We need a new immigration process that reunites families, recognizes the importance of immigration to our economy and our communities, and includes a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. Our country will realize its full potential only when Congress has passed a bill that creates this process.
“It’s great to see the legislation moving. This is concrete progress. As the Judiciary Committee considers the wide range of amendments, the spirit of compromise and cooperation that has brought us this far must be senators’ guiding light. Congress must continue a rational debate in the same bipartisan fashion that has given reform so much momentum.”
Paul Singer Makes Significant Contribution to the National Immigration Forum Action Fund
April 29, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the Senate introduction of bipartisan immigration reform legislation, the National Immigration Forum Action Fund received a strong show of support from hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer to continue the bipartisan effort for common sense immigration solutions.
Mr. Singer is the founder and CEO of Elliott Management, and is providing a six-figure contribution to the National Immigration Forum Action Fund’s “Bibles, Badges and Business” project to encourage Republicans and Democrats to support immigration reform that strengthens our nation’s competitiveness and helps us attract the world’s best talent and hard workers.
The passionate level of involvement and cooperation from both Republicans and Democrats on immigration reform sends a resounding message that this immigration battle is different than that of decades past. Rather than fall back into the stagnation and polarization that plagues so many of today’s political disagreements, immigration reform has produced robust coalitions and unlikely collaborations. This donation by Paul Singer is one of many signs from business leaders that American businesses are not sitting on the sidelines for this immigration reform battle.
The bipartisan Senate bill is a strong start. It includes the core elements necessary for reform like commonsense fixes to our legal immigration system that ensures our competitiveness and creates a tough but fair road to citizenship for contributing immigrants already in the country.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund expresses the importance of Mr. Singer’s contribution: “We are grateful for the leadership and support of Paul Singer at this critical juncture. Across the country, those who read a Bible, wear a badge or own a business demand Congress build a common sense immigration system. Introduction of bipartisan legislation is only the first step. In the months of debate ahead, we know the opposition is prepared to spend millions of dollars to try and defeat immigration reform yet again. But, this time it is different. Not only are faith, law enforcement and business leaders working together. But, civic leaders like Mr. Singer are investing their hard earned resources in the path to victory.”
Representatives Gutierrez and Carter Talk to San Antonio Residents about Immigration Reform
April 29, 2013
On Monday, April 29, lawmakers gave San Antonio a front row seat to the latest developments on immigration reform
As the Senate moves forward on immigration reform, two members of the House of Representatives group that has been negotiating behind the scenes to develop a compromise immigration reform bill will sat down with San Antonio residents to share some of the latest developments on immigration reform and discussed the path forward for the bill.
The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) in San Antonio for “Left. Right, Forward,” an in-depth conversation on immigration reform.
Congressmen Gutierrez and Carter will engaged with San Antonians in a unique and open discussion on the path forward for immigration reform and the national immigration debate.
The event was livestreamed. Watch a video recording below:
“Left. Right. Forward.” Event Sets Tone for National Conversation on Immigration
April 29, 2013
Leaders of the bipartisan effort in the House of Representatives on immigration reform make the case for comprehensive and sensible changes to immigration law.
SAN ANTONIO, TX – In a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) argued for a bipartisan, comprehensive solution to immigration and border issues. A growing consensus among members of the faith, law enforcement and business communities makes that solution attainable even in a highly polarized political environment.
“Today in San Antonio, Representatives Carter and Gutierrez showed us exactly why the time is now for immigration reform. They came together to talk with San Antonians about the urgency and need for both parties to continue working together on comprehensive and bipartisan reform,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans getting everything they want on immigration – it’s about the left working with the right, and the right working with the left to move us forward on immigration reform.”
“Part of the conversation that Congressman Carter and I are having here today with you is an educational experience, not only for us, but for the rest of the American people,” said Congressman Gutierrez. “If they can hear a Republican and a Democrat speak in sensible terms, then I think that goes all the way down to the local police officer or constable who are also going to change their minds.”
“If the far left and the far right, which is quite honestly what our group is made up of, can come to a compromise, then it ought to be easy for the rest of the Congress to come to a compromise,” noted Congressman Carter. “We’re as far apart politically as you can get, but we’re very close right now because of this project we’re working on. We’re very proud of the product we’re moving forward.”
Both congressmen observed that national security is enhanced and the U.S. economy is invigorated by enacting rational immigration policies that allow law enforcement and border security agencies to focus on legitimate threats while allowing needed laborers and entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. workforce.
“For residents of San Antonio and South Texas who know border issues better than anyone else, the bipartisan effort led by Congressmen Gutierrez and Carter is a breath of fresh air,” said Eddie Aldrete, Senior Vice President, IBC Bank and board member of the National Immigration Forum. “Their work is vitally important for our economic and national security. More Americans need to hear them and support their effort to create sane and humane immigration laws.”
Legislative Process Kicks Off in the Senate
April 26, 2013
The Senate's Comprehensive Approach Presents the only Viable Path for Success
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday’s start of the mark-up session in the Senate Judiciary Committee represents an important step forward toward a commonsense and fully comprehensive immigration reform bill. Congress has been discussing this issue for the last 10 years, and all other piecemeal attempts at immigration reform have failed. But changing public opinion on immigration reform reinforces the notion that the time is now for reform – and the Senate’s balanced approach is the way forward.
S744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is the most extensive and wide-reaching plan for truly reforming the nation’s antiquated and unrealistic immigration system since the Reagan administration’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. It comes as a result of years of debate and an unprecedented momentum and energy from the public and affected industries like labor, technology, agriculture, faith communities, and law enforcement.
“We’re excited to see the Senate’s Gang of Eight Bill moving full speed ahead. We’ve already had three marathon hearings – and we expect much more deliberation as mark-up picks up,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “As we begin to move forward with the process, we can’t lose sight of the goal. The Senate’s approach to one, delicately balanced bill is the only plausible way to get across the finish line on this much needed reform. Efforts to break down the bill into separate legislative pieces will fall well short of what Republican voters seek: a complete overhaul.”
Over 100 Current and Former Attorneys General Send Letters to Congressional Leadership Urging Action
April 24, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, 36 current state attorneys general and 76 former state attorneys general signed and delivered letters to House and Senate Leadership outlining their positions on immigration reform and pushing both Chambers to move quickly to solve this issue. The signatories represent the consensus among this group of national and bipartisan law enforcement leaders for immigration reform that secures our border, keeps families together, sensibly deals with those already in our country and improves public safety at the local level.
“With these two letters, the nation’s attorneys general signal the need for broad immigration reform that corrects the many harms caused by the current immigration system,” said former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R-Utah). “From improving border security to rebuilding trust between undocumented immigrants and their local law enforcement officers, the time is now to address these problems."
“The message sent by these leaders who have dedicated their lives to keep our communities safe represents the far reaching momentum that exists for commonsense immigration reform,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “With the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, Congress has an opportunity to apply their recommendations and make America safer.”
Miami’s Business Community Launches Innovative Citizenship Initiative
April 23, 2013
The InterContinental Miami, the Betsy Hotel and Miami-Dade College Participate in National Immigration Forum's Bethlehem Project
MIAMI, FL. —Today, the National Immigration Forum inaugurated Miami as the official launch city for “The Bethlehem Project”. Through this innovative citizenship promotion initiative, businesses partner with immigrant-service organizations like the International Rescue Committee to offer their immigrant employees on-site services such as English classes, civic instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications.
The business community is increasingly leading the effort to integrate our nation’s aspiring citizens. Miami companies like InterContinental Hotel--Miami, The Betsy Hotel--South Beach and Miami-Dade College are taking their leadership to a new level by recognizing the value of investing in their immigrant workforce and promoting citizenship and integration in the workplace. While many opportunities exist for English learning, civics instruction and naturalization assistance at different sites like churches, community colleges and immigrant service organizations, virtually nobody integrates all three needs in one site like the workplace.
Immigrant employees praised the project because it adds the invaluable convenience of accessing citizenship assistance at their place of work.
“Becoming a U.S. citizen is a very important step to me because I feel that this country is my home,” said Ráquel Araujo-Escobar, an employee at InterContinental Miami. “Having my employer support me in this important step by providing citizenship assistance at my place of work is a true blessing."
Similarly, business leaders stressed the Bethlehem Project’s practicality and benefits to employees and companies alike.
“This program is easy to handle and coordinate. The Bethlehem Project supported us through the different stages of the program and provided flyers and easy-to-understand information that we could share with our staff in multiple languages,” said Nilmarie Almovodar, Human Resources Director at The Betsy - South Beach.
“With this partnership we are demonstrating to our employees that we care and support their best interests, and that we care for our community,” added Leonie Timothee of the Human Resources Department at The InterContinental Miami.
The city of Miami is a symbol of the convergence between business and immigration. Noted worldwide as an entrepreneurial city, Miami also boasts a significant immigrant population – with over 60% of its residents hailing from other parts of the world.
“In Miami-County we have over 520,000 individuals who are legal permanent residents who have not yet become citizens,” said Eduardo Padrón, President at Miami-Dade College. “Becoming a citizen not only provides you with greater responsibility for civic engagement and voting, but it also helps you and the companies involved to get a better return on your investment.”
The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for – on the one hand, hard-working immigrants achieve essential skills such as English language training that will increase their earning potential and allow them to fully engage as citizens in their new homeland. On the other hand, businesses will benefit from increased productivity from better trained workers.
“The Miami business community, many of whom are immigrants themselves, has long understood the importance of nurturing the innovation, energy and spirit of the immigrant community to build a more prosperous Miami,” noted Manny Díaz, Mayor of the City of Miami. “Today, we make another plea to our business community. Work with us as we try to bring these half-a-million citizen eligible residents in our community to become an even greater part of the American mainstream.”
“For hard-working immigrants in Miami, this assistance will mean the ability to realize the American Dream; for our partner businesses, this program will pay off in increased effectiveness and opportunities for advancement of their employees,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum.
For more information and to join this groundbreaking initiative, please visit: www.joinbethlehemproject.org
Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform Urge Swift Action
April 22, 2013
Current and Former Attorneys General release broad sign-on letters
WASHINGTON, D.C – Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing for Senate bill S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The hearing featured pivotal testimony from witnesses representing the many groups affected by our immigration system.
Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform were represented at the hearing by Mark Shurtleff, Republican Former Attorney General of Utah, David Fleming senior pastor of Houston’s Champion Forest Baptist Church, and frequent collaborator, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.
“Today’s hearing was a testament to the broad support commonsense immigration reform enjoys in America, from the National Association of Attorneys General to 76 former state attorneys general to the Evangelical Immigration Table,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “The thoughtful presentations by the full range of faith, law enforcement and business witnesses inform the negotiations that lie ahead. We are optimistic that a road to citizenship and a stable immigration system for all of America’s families and businesses will be the ultimate outcome.”
Bipartisan Senate Leaders Plan to Announce Broad Immigration Reform Legislation
April 16, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following months of discussion and negotiation, multiple press reports suggest that the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” in the Senate plans to announce a broad bill today to address and improve our nation’s broken immigration process. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“It is with a heavy heart for the victims and families of Boston that we embark on a new journey for immigration reform. Our thoughts and prayers go to Bostonians.
“When you read the news about immigration reform and Republicans and Democrats working together to create real solutions, it becomes very clear: This is what America wants. Voters across the political spectrum are championing a broad, commonsense immigration process to replace our broken system. For the benefit of our economy and our communities, reform must happen.
“The bipartisan legislation is a strong start for the immigration debate this year. People on both sides of the political spectrum have concerns about certain parts of the package. But that’s the nature of compromise: yielding on something each of us cares about to move forward on what all of us care about.
“We applaud the bipartisan Senate working group for making progress on much-needed reform of our immigration laws. We urge Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and in the House to support fair and practical immigration solutions that include an earned path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently living here, contributing to the progress and well-being of our communities.
“Congress must continue the rational debate and move us forward by passing real reform into law. Make no mistake: This is immigration reform’s time.”
Across the Country, Energy for Broad Immigration Reform Builds As Congress Returns to Washington
April 05, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As members of Congress wrap up a two-week recess and gear up for the introduction of immigration reform legislation in both the Senate and House, momentum for broad, commonsense immigration reform has continued to build in their home districts. In an article today, POLITICO points to the broad support for reform from all parts of the political spectrum, including an “entirely new front from the right on immigration reform”. Lawmakers will return to D.C. bolstered by constituents, including conservative voters, who made clear that they support bipartisan reform and that the time is now.
Evangelical communities, law enforcement officials and business leaders across the country are taking the consensus they have been building for more than two years and putting it into action. They also are putting money behind the effort to pass commonsense immigration reform in 2013. For example, a Christian radio ad campaign by the Evangelical Immigration Table has expanded from South Carolina to Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.
“We see the immigrant as a person created in the image of God. They’re husbands and wives, they’re parents, they’re children,” Rev. Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, said upon the announcement of the new ads. “White evangelicals have been listening to the voice of the extreme, but give education to our people, they are changing their minds on this issue…I believe and my experience has been here in Texas that conservative Christians and evangelicals are rising to support a biblical approach to this very complex issue.”
In addition, at more than a dozen pro-reform events in Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. “Bibles, Badges and Business” leaders are showing that their constituencies will support courageous lawmakers who act on broad immigration reform in coming weeks and months. In Modesto, California, 1,500 people joined a forum on immigration at the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church featuring Rep. Jeff Tenham (R-CA) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration. Participants called on lawmakers to make broad immigration reform with an earned path to citizenship a priority in Congress.
In Indianapolis, a business-oriented forum featured the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the senior vice president of Indiana’s largest integrated communications company speaking on the urgency for reform. “The recent federal court decision striking down Indiana’s immigration law as unconstitutional reinforces that fact that we must convince Congress to act swiftly to update and reform our country’s outdated immigration laws,” said Mike Murphy, Senior Vice President of Hirons and Company and a Republican who served for 16 years in the Indiana General Assembly. “Immigrants must once again be considered our nation’s strength, not a liability.”
And at an in-person press conference this week at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reiterated the need for reform from the law enforcement perspective. “It is past time for the president and Congress to do their job and pass comprehensive immigration reform that enhances our national and law enforcement security, bolsters our economy, and is consistent with the rule of law and our notions of fairness and compassion,” Gonzales said.
Other events featuring faith, law enforcement and business leaders include:
• a Kansas roundtable discussion featuring the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the former Republican Attorney General.
• a Good Friday discussion in northern Colorado about the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge.
• a press conference in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Baptist clergy urging Sens. Hagan and Burr to support immigration reform.
• an evangelical event in Jacksonville, Fla., to discuss a biblical way forward on immigration.
“Today’s immigration debate is different than the immigration debate of 2006 and 2007,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Once you get outside of the Beltway you find energy and momentum from the ‘Bibles, Badges and Business’ communities for prompt action on broad immigration reform. There is no other policy issue under consideration by Congress right now that has the depth and breadth of bipartisan support that immigration reform enjoys.”
Added Noorani, “The collective energy these events are generating around broad immigration reform translates to a clear call to members of Congress: We need accountable and practical immigration reform that strengthens our economy and reflects our tradition as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.”
For more information about the Evangelical Immigration Table’s immigration radio ad campaign, please click here.
For more information about events with the law enforcement, faith and business community, please click here.
Business, Law Enforcement, Faith Leaders Urge Congress to Act on Immigration Reform
April 04, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With both the Senate and House gearing up to introduce immigration reform legislation as soon as next week, faith, law enforcement and business leaders spoke today about the strength and support for reform that their constituencies are building locally across the country. Events during the two-week congressional recess should give lawmakers confidence as they return to Washington that their constituents support broad, commonsense reform.
In a press call, leaders emphasized that their rising network is making sure members of Congress hear Americans’ call for accountable and practical reform that strengthens our economy and reflects our tradition as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Efforts include more than a dozen events in the South, Midwest and West, as well as a new phase of Evangelical Immigration Table radio ads that launched this week on Christian radio in four key states.
The following quotes are from speakers on today’s press call:
Alberto Gonzales, Former U.S. Attorney General and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law, Belmont University:
“I approach this issue from the perspective of being a grandson of immigrants, someone who grew up in a border state, and of course as a former chief law enforcement officer of the United States. … When [state and local law enforcement officials] are diverted to enforce federal immigration law, that means that they cannot go after local bank robbers, car thieves and drug dealers. The truth of the matter is, this is very much a federal problem.”
Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:
“The time has come. Americans are ready … Immigration is an issue where people of different political parties and different philosophies can come together and do the right thing. It is time for us as citizens to demand that our politicians quit acting like politicians who are looking at the next election and start acting like statesmen who are looking at the next generation. We will continue to work across the country to educate and to mobilize our fellow evangelical Christians to support just and fair immigration reform, and we’re taking our message to Washington.”
Ralph Schulz, President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce:
“We’re pleased as a [business] community to be a part of this effort and [we’re] encouraging our legislators, and our business people are encouraging our legislators directly and personally, to engage in resolving this issue as soon as possible so that we can maintain our prosperous trajectory as a community.”
Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:
“Once you get outside the Beltway, you find that a new consensus on immigrants and America has emerged. This week alone, we at the Forum have found that whether you are in Nashville, Tennessee; Costa Mesa, California; Columbia, South Carolina; or Kansas City, Kansas, those who hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business want a commonsense solution to the immigration system. The fact is that there is no other public policy issue under consideration by Congress at this moment that has the depth and breadth of bipartisan support that immigration reform enjoys.”
For more information about the Evangelical Immigration Table’s immigration radio ad campaign, please click here.
For more information about events with the law enforcement, faith and business community, please click here.
Senators Visit A More Secure Border
March 27, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) will be visiting the Arizona border with Mexico to view security conditions as they continue to work on a broad immigration reform bill. The U.S. has met or surpassed most border security benchmarks the Senate developed during immigration reform debates in 2007, and the senators will find a border with increased Border Patrol staffing, better infrastructure and fewer people trying to cross. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“Maintaining a secure border is an important part of immigration reform. The senators’ visit to the border serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come.
“We have made tremendous progress on border security, and it’s time to stop moving the goalposts. Our border will be stronger and even more secure once our immigration system is reformed.
"Commonsense immigration reform will improve every aspect of the immigration process, easing pressure on the border and streamlining border security. These bipartisan Senate leaders and their colleagues in Congress should come back from their recess ready to push reform across the finish line.”
ICYMI: Majority of Republicans, Evangelicals Support Earned Citizenship
March 21, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a new, large survey released today by the Brookings Institute and the Public Religion Research Institute, 63 percent of Americans — including 56 percent of white evangelicals and 53 percent of Republicans — support a roadmap to earned citizenship as part of immigration reform. The findings increase the pressure on bipartisan leaders in Congress to include steps to earned citizenship as part of reform.
The survey suggests that support for earned citizenship among evangelicals is growing as evangelical leaders intensify their push for immigration reform rooted in biblical principles. As both the Washington Post and Politico have reported this week, evangelical leaders are stepping up pressure on Congress to pass broad, commonsense reform that emphasizes human dignity and family unity.
As the articles point out, earlier this week the Evangelical Immigration Table released a statement supporting earned citizenship as part of a revamped immigration process. And last week, a radio ad campaign launched on Christian radio in South Carolina. It too includes citizenship as a key immigration reform principle.
Earlier findings indicate that support for reform increases when evangelicals hear messages from their pastors about welcoming immigrants.
“The tide for broad, commonsense immigration reform continues to grow. And across the spectrum, more and more Americans recognize that reform must include earned citizenship,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “The message from evangelical leaders is loud and clear, and members of Congress are hearing the same message from their constituents: It is time to follow through and create a better immigration process.”
Evangelical, Other Faith Leaders Press for Immigration Reform in Meeting with President
March 08, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table and other faith luminaries met with President Obama today to discuss the need for commonsense immigration reform and the building momentum for it in Congress. The meeting took place as evangelical leaders and pastors encourage their flocks to reflect on the Bible’s words regarding how we treat our immigrant neighbors and mobilize in support of a better immigration process.
Evangelical leaders continue to support broad, bipartisan action as leaders in the Senate — four Democrats and four Republicans — develop legislation that will modernize and strengthen our out-of-date immigration process. The 40-day “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge encourages evangelicals to read a passage of scripture daily that relates to immigrants and pray for immigrants in their communities — and encourage their members of Congress to do the same. In addition, pastors are planning media campaigns in key states such as South Carolina to emphasize the urgent need for reform in 2013, including an eventual road to citizenship.
The following quotes can be attributed to faith leaders who met with the president today.
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“In our meeting, we reiterated the importance of the faith community in not just advocating for immigration reform but in being a bridge to provide services to immigrants if immigration reform passes. We specifically encouraged the President to consider the implications of passage of reform and to partner with faith-based organizations in helping immigrants in the integration process, specifically by providing immigrant legal service, and English and civics classes.”
Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“I was very encouraged by the immigration reform meeting with the President today. He spoke clearly about his desire to see us achieve passage of legislation this year. While many details remain to be worked out, the big pieces are in place. Secure borders, workplace enforcement, legal status for undocumented immigrants who qualify, and a citizenship process for those who desire to be U.S. citizens are all within reach.”
Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration:
“Our collective faith groups are prepared to support just and humane reform of a broken immigration system. With the president's leadership and cooperation between both parties in Congress, we can achieve this goal within the year. We agree with the president and bipartisan Senate leaders who are stressing the importance of a path to citizenship for the undocumented. We should not sanction a permanent underclass in our society.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Today's meeting invigorated me with hope and optimism. The president's resolve in conjunction with evangelical support facilitate the prescription for a comprehensive resolution addressing America's immigration crisis. I am convinced that with prayer and prophetic activism we will live out Matthew 25 and welcome the stranger in the name of Jesus. The collective commitment to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as an integral part of any legislative solution secures a complete integration process. Both the president and faith leaders understand that citizenship must be earned, yet denying it will create a two-tier society attempting to live one dream: the American dream.”
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Today's meeting with President Obama is a clarion sign for Latino Evangelicals that immigration reform is possible. We need strong bipartisan leadership from Republicans and Democrats that finally creates a just and humane solution. Latino Evangelicals stand committed to see this through in ways that provide an earned path to citizenship while addressing any security concerns. Immigration reform now!”
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“The building momentum for immigration reform is proof that it’s still possible to lift up the common good, and not just political ideology, in Washington, D.C. The faith community has called for political action on immigration for years and is encouraged to see the leadership the president is taking. President Obama made clear how high a priority immigration reform is for him and the White House and that the involvement of the faith community will be an integral part of ensuring it passes. If the bully pulpit of the White House and the pulpits of the faith community speak to the moral issues at stake in this debate, we can accomplish a genuine, bipartisan solution to fixing our broken immigration system. I’m leaving the White House today encouraged that it can and will happen.
Immigration Reform Must Include Roadmap to Citizenship
March 05, 2013
Washington, D.C — In a newly published book, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and co-author Clint Bolick suggest that immigration reform need not include a pathway to citizenship. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“A path to citizenship will be a key part of immigration reform that Congress is working on this year. The bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ in the Senate have included citizenship in their principles, and their colleagues in both houses are following their lead and recognizing that the American dream dims for all of us if we create a class of people for whom citizenship is out of reach.
“Republicans and Democrats alike are following the lead of the American people, who recognize that hardworking immigrants should have a roadmap to citizenship so they can become fully participating Americans. Poll after poll shows strong support for a road to citizenship, among Americans of all political stripes.”
“Now is the time for reform that truly unites us and brings all aspiring Americans out of the shadows. As Congress takes up serious legislation, we expect that a workable roadmap to earned citizenship will be a central piece.”
President Obama Meets with Sens. McCain and Graham on Immigration Reform Legislation
February 26, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican senators John McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) will meet with President Obama today to discuss immigration reform legislation. Both senators are part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” group that in January released a framework for immigration reform. This is President Obama’s most direct involvement in the Senate negotiations to date.
Business, faith and law enforcement voices across the country continue to express support for congressional action to fix our immigration laws once and for all. Today in Arizona, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and more than 125 members of Arizona's business community unveiled a letter commending the efforts of Republican senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. The letter states, “In order to ensure the competitive standing and economic strength of Arizona and the United States, we must have a robust and fair immigration process that promotes legal immigration while securing our nation’s borders."
Bryan Derreberry, President and CEO of the Charleston (S.C.) Metro Chamber of Commerce, reinforced the economic urgency: “South Carolina's modern economy, with a growing high-tech sector and a booming tourism industry, demand immigration laws that fit the realities of today's economy. For our state to continue to grow and prosper, it is critical that Congress finally fix our broken immigration system. We are glad to see Senator Graham addressing this difficult issue head-on and look forward to a solution that works for South Carolina businesses of all sizes and in all sectors.”
And in Texas, leaders from the law enforcement, business and faith communities have come together to urge Congress to move forward on immigration solutions at the Texas Immigration Summit in Austin and in the launch of the Texas Compact.
Sheriff Guadalupe “Lupe” Treviño of Hidalgo County, Texas, praised today’s meeting, stating, “I’m encouraged by the continuing bipartisan spirit in Washington for prompt action on immigration reform legislation. As the sheriff of Hidalgo County, I know firsthand the importance of long-term improvements to our immigration system to strengthen the partnerships between local police and the immigrant community and to promote public safety for everyone.”
“Today’s talks offer a bipartisan light unheard of in a divided Washington,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Congress is moving full steam ahead on immigration reform as both Democrats and Republicans realize that an improved immigration process is smart politics and smart policy for the nation.”
ICYMI: Texas Immigration Summit, Compact Highlight Breadth of Support for Immigration Reform
February 22, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As bipartisan momentum for immigration reform builds in Congress, leaders across the country and the political spectrum are appealing for broad, commonsense reform this year. A shining example is Texas, whose representatives in Congress are no longer witnessing only silence on immigration reform from their constituents.
Since last week, bipartisan voices in Texas have emerged in force, seeking broad, commonsense immigration reform on the federal level. Moderate and conservative voices were prominent at both the Texas Immigration Summit in Austin and in the launch of the Texas Compact.
At the Feb. 13 summit a new network, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, joined the Texas Immigration Solution to emphasize the need for reform. (Watch newly posted video from the summit.) Faith, law enforcement and business leaders urged action now.
“For us, this is a sacred issue,” said Dr. David Fleming, Senior Pastor at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. “God has an opinion on what we ought to do. We look into His word and we discover what His word says, and we just have a moral imperative to see this problem solved for the sake of the people who are caught in the system.”
“This has become a political debate instead of a good policy debate,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We need to focus on good policy, and if both parties do that, you can't really argue against comprehensive reform. [Then] we can get back to the business of fighting crime. There is no value in taking our very precious resources in law enforcement and try to get us to start chasing the nanny. That does absolutely nothing for public safety.”
“Texas should be the leader, and I would venture we are the leader in this debate,” said George Antuna, Co-founder of Hispanic Republicans of Texas. “We are No. 1 in terms of business growth in the country — one of the strongest reasons is the Hispanic community. We need a multifaceted immigration plan that includes border security and a guest worker program, and we are communicating these needs with our leaders.”
On Tuesday, a second group of faith, law enforcement and business leaders gathered to launch the Texas Compact, a declaration of principles to guide the immigration debate in Texas and urge immigration reform at the federal level. The principles include emphases on law enforcement, families, the economy and a free society. Initial signatories include Henry Cisneros, Chairman of CityView and Former Mayor of San Antonio.
“We are hoping that this Texas Compact, led by faith leaders, social service leaders, education leaders and business leaders, will give [Congress] the courage to take the correct action and move forward comprehensive immigration reform,” said Mike Nichols, Co-chair of the Texas Compact and Retired Senior Vice President of Administration and General Counsel, Sysco Corp.
“If we say we follow Christ, then we are commanded to love and welcome the stranger — immigrants. We must seek justice for them,” added Deborah Fikes, Executive Advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance and Board Member of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Texas leaders’ strong support for immigration reform now should serve as a wake-up call to legislators in Washington. As Mark Shurtleff, Member of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Forum and Republican Former Attorney General of Utah, said upon the launch of the Texas Compact, “We’re building a tidal wave heading towards Washington, D.C., giving strength and support and guidance and direction, hopefully, to our members of Congress. … The timing is now for comprehensive, just, compassionate, commonsense immigration reform.”