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Representatives return from a two-week recess this week and will jump back into the politics of the SAVE Act discharge petition. I’ve pasted in an article from the National Journal at the bottom of this e-mail reflecting some of the activities in Congress. While Democratic leaders try to figure out how to head off the threat of a discharge petition, negotiations on a potential package of immigration proposals, including some relief for undocumented immigrants, appear to have stalled. At the moment, it is unclear what, if anything, the Democrats may bring to the floor in order to create an alternative to the SAVE Act (also known as the Shuler-Tancredo bill, HR 4088). For a list of those Representatives that have signed on to the discharge petition, please go to http://clerk.house.gov/110/lrc/pd/petitions/Dis5.htm. 181 Representatives have signed on to the petition, and 218 signatures are required to force the SAVE Act to the House floor for a vote. Here is an Editorial that ran in the Chicago Sun Times on the SAVE Act: http://www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/856291,CST-EDT-edit23aa.article.
On April 2, Secretary Chertoff will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing. In that hearing, Senators anticipate raising concerns with respect to naturalization backlogs, implementation of the REAL ID Act, the Social Security No Match Rule, other recently announced regulations regarding passports and other issues. For more information, go to http://judiciary.senate.gov/schedule.cfm.
State & Local News
News stories related to the involvement of local law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement efforts have been on the rise as more states and localities adopt policies to cooperate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Please find an article that ran in the AP last week that highlights the trend and the consequences: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5heF80SqPHj0LbcvNXib8jm4eQFIAD8VN0MD80
A growing number of reports are focused on the negative economic impacts of anti-immigrant laws at the state and local level. Here is a study by economists of the impact of Oklahoma‘s new anti-immigrant legislation http://immcomp.blogspot.com/2008/03/economists-project-potentially-massive.html that estimates under some scenarios that the law could cost the state between $1.8 and $3 billion annually. Coverage of the report: http://newsok.com/article/3220599/.
And in Arizona, businesses have successfully gotten the state’s House of Representatives to modify various aspects of the law that Arizona passed last year. To review an article on the revisions, go to http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0328sanctions0328.html.
Immigration Agencies and Federal Regulations
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a supplemental rule providing further guidance with respect to implementation of Social Security No Match letters. For detailed information about the supplemental rule and next steps, please go to www.nilc.org. When draft comments are prepared, please be prepared to get the word out. We’ll need to generate as many comments as possible in order to make the case publicly that the Department of Homeland Security should not be using No Match letters as a basis for immigration status enforcement. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Tyler Moran at the National Immigration Law Center at email@example.com.
Last week the New York Times also weighed in against the proposal: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/opinion/27thu2.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin. Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a new program to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal histories that are currently in prisons across the nation. A fact sheet on the new initiative is attached to this bulletin. Coverage on the new policy can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/washington/28immig.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.
Farmworker organizations and allies are circulating comments to proposed changes in the H2A Visa program that they are asking organizations to sign-on to. The proposed comments are a direct attack on worker rights, and an effort by the Administration to streamline the H2A visa program at the expense of farmworkers. To sign on to the comments (see attached) please contact Adrieene DerVartanian at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 8 at 3 pm Eastern Time. Her telephone number is 202-293-5420 in case you have any questions.
FIRM Member Activities
In Los Angeles, CHIRLA and a coalition of allies succeeded in getting the Los Angeles City Council to pass a resolution, by a vote of 11 to 1, that denounces the SAVE Act. For coverage: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_8709777. A copy of the resolution is attached to this e-mail. For more information, contact Cynthia Buiza at email@example.com. In Chicago, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights launched a campaign to ensure that immigrants in federal detention have access to clergy. For an article on the campaign, go to http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-immigrantdetentio,0,2077908.story. For more information about the campaign, contact Ana Guajardo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immigrant organizations and criminal justice reform advocates are working together to stop the expansion of an immigrant detention center in Aurora, Colorado. For more information about the campaign go to the new Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition web site at http://www.coloradoimmigrant.org/article.php?id=63.
On Monday, March 24th CASA of Maryland joined with the Latino Student Union at the flagship College Park Campus of the University of Maryland for a rally and student speak-out, bringing together student activists from accross the state of Maryland to advocate for access to higher education for immigrant students. Over 14 high schools, colleges and universities were represented at the event, as well as local youth and immigrat advocates. Legislation which would enable qualified immigrant students to attend MD colleges and universities at the instate tuition rate, regardless of immigration status, is currently pending in the Maryland General Assembly, and the action was timed as a last push during the legislative session, which ends the first week in April. Many of the students present were graduating seniors from area high schools who chose to spend their spring break advocating for themselves and their classmates who will be unable to afford college next year if the instate tuition benefit is not authorized in the remaining months before the fall semester. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
If you have news that you’d like to share with other groups in FIRM, please send a note about your work to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do our best to include it in our weekly bulletins.
Allies and Partner Activities
A coalition of organizations recently launched a new campaign in support of the DREAM Act that demands that the Presidential candidates enact the DREAM Act in their first 100 days as President. The centerpiece of the campaign is a video by Brave New Films that can be viewed at http://adreamdeferred.org/?utm_source=rgemail.
News to Use
In Iowa, a coalition of religious leaders called on state legislators and the general public to treat immigrants with dignity. The DesMoines Register: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080327/NEWS10/803270393.
Undocumented immigrants could be a boon for the nation’s social security system. Coverage from CBS news: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/25/politics/animal/main3968207.shtml.
Last week the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights issued a new report on the raids: Over Raided, Under Siege. To view a summary of the report, go to http://www.nnirr.org/resources/docs/executivesummary3_.pdf.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the primary anti-immigrant organization in the United States, admitted to fudging numbers estimating the impact of undocumented immigration in South Carolina. For the article go to http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/story/392640.html.
In the meantime FAIR has been fighting its label as a hate group by attacking the Southern Poverty Law Center, which designated FAIR as a hate group last fall. For information on FAIR‘s designation, please go to www.splcenter.org.
Announcements If you’re in the mood to be alarmed, and if you happen to be in Washington, DC on April 19th (Hitler’s Birthday), check out this video on the National Socialist Movement’s anti-immigrant march on DC:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0DRtzrKb08&eurl=http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/
From the National Journal: IMMIGRATION
At the request of the House Judiciary Committee, CBO is expected to provide informal cost estimates this week for an immigration enforcement bill sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. House Republicans are collecting signatures on a discharge petition to force a floor vote. The cost estimate could make it more difficult to bring the bill to the floor under pay/go rules.
House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., sent a letter to House Democrats last week urging them to “get the facts” before signing onto the discharge petition. Among other things, Shuler’s bill would require all employers to use the Homeland Security Department’s “E-Verify” electronic verification system to check the authorization of all their workers.
The Rangel/McNulty letter said DHS is not ready for a national roll-out of the program, which handled about 3.6 million inquiries last year. To meet the requirements in Shuler’s bill, that number would jump to 60 million annually and
DHS would have to enroll 4,000 employers per day for four years.
Last year, when the Senate was debating a broader immigration bill, CBO declined to offer an estimate of how much a similar employment verification requirement would cost, saying much of the cost would depend on how regulations were drafted.
GAO said last year that Homeland Security would need as much as $500 million annually to run the program while the Social Security Administration would need up to $6 million a year.
Earlier, private estimates of a mandatory employment verification system put the total cost — much of it borne by the private sector — at more than $11 billion per year.
On Tuesday, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller and Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., are hosting a staff briefing of the low-skill H-2B guestworker visa program. The panel will feature H-2B workers who were victims of employer abuses, such as being told falsely that they would be given green cards upon arrival in the United States.
Lawmakers are hoping for a temporary increase in available H-2B visas as part of a limited immigration measure that might include provisions for high-skilled H-1B visas and new enforcement mechanisms.