Senate Floor Debate Must Maintain Spirit of Compromise, Adhere to Certain Principles to Ensure A Workable System

Posted on by Ruby Powers in citizenship, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

For Immediate Release

Senate Floor Debate Must Maintain Spirit of Compromise,
Adhere to Certain Principles to Ensure A Workable System

June 11, 2013

Washington D.C. – Today, the long-awaited opportunity to reform the country’s dysfunctional immigration system moves one step closer to reality as the full Senate begins consideration of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee set a high standard for civility and transparency during its markup of the bill last month, and we urge the full Senate to continue in this vein. The bill that emerged from committee offers a workable plan that takes a balanced approach to immigration reform. Evidence, rather than grandstanding and rhetoric, should drive the debate on the Senate floor. Common sense and good policy can trump political one-upmanship, as long as Senators keep the following principles in mind.

– A closed border does not facilitate a robust immigration system. Piling on additional border-enforcement measures that are grounded more in politics than effective law enforcement is a waste of resources, and ignores the fact that ending illegal immigration requires a balance of enforcement measures, new immigration programs for future labor needs, and a working E-Verify system. Also, while there is a need for secure borders, there is also a need for further streamlining and efficiently facilitating the daily cross-border flows of people, goods, and services important to the critical economic relationships between the United States and Mexico and Canada.

– Triggers must be reasonable, not designed to derail legalization. The legalization provisions of the bill should not be held hostage to border triggers that set unrealistic goals or impose overly burdensome procedures. Such triggers unnecessarily hold up the important process of bringing millions of undocumented individuals out of the shadows. Border security and legalization go hand in hand. We should not delay identifying and documenting those who reside in our country.

– Legalizing more than 11 million undocumented immigrants is an economic, social, and moral imperative. Making the process simple, straightforward, and fair means no unnecessary requirements, reasonable application procedures, realistic time frames, and strong family protections. Efforts to undermine or weaken the current proposal or to prevent these individuals from becoming lawful permanent residents, thus creating a permanent underclass with no opportunity for citizenship, would be a mistake of historic proportions.

– Immigrants must have the opportunity to fairly present their cases. A fair and just immigration system includes ensuring access to counsel for immigrants unable to represent themselves, limits on detention, and proportionate penalties for immigration violations. The temptation to continue to make immigration laws “tougher” without any moderation or respect for case-by-case decision-making must be avoided. For more than 20 years, Congress’s solution to immigration problems has been to layer on more punitive measures, ultimately creating a system that is often unbalanced and unfair. S. 744 attempts to restore some of the fundamental principles of fairness, due process, and proportional punishment that are the hallmark of the American judicial system.

– The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should have discretion to use its resources wisely. We need smart security measures that actually work, not high-priced, politically driven strategies that don’t. DHS must be given the discretion to deploy resources and implement border-security policies that are based on sound, effective law-enforcement strategies and not political theater. In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, DHS must have discretion to develop strategies that are tailored to the current border challenges and employ cutting-edge technology.

– The United States needs a workable, efficient, and flexible immigration system that responds to the rapidly changing demands of a 21st century economy, technologies, and migration patterns. People live and work and innovate in ways that are different than they were 20 years ago, and yet our immigration system continues to operate on a series of static quotas and rigid requirements that ignore advances in every sector of our economy and the way we live today. We can protect the wages and working conditions of all workers without sacrificing business opportunities.

For many years we have said that we must fix our immigration system. Today marks the next step in the process of creating an immigration system that can change and grow with the needs of our nation.

###

For more information contact Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524

 


Rubio, House GOP again warn immigration bill lacks support without border fixes

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Border Enforcement, citizenship, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment
By Kasie Hunt, Frank Thorp and Carrie Dann, NBC News

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that there will not be enough votes in the House to pass the Senate’s immigration bill as it is currently written even if the legislation can find the 60 votes it will need in the upper chamber.

“I can tell you that the bill as currently structured is not going to pass in the House. And I think it’s going to struggle to pass in the Senate,” Rubio said after a meeting between Senate and House conservatives.

Rubio’s comments came shortly before Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho conservative who has been working on immigration in the House, said he will no longer be a part of an eight-person bipartisan working group that had recently hit snags in negotiations.

Labrador left the talks after a standoff over whether newly legalized immigrants who were previously undocumented should be eligible to receive government-based health care, the issue he called the breaking point that caused him to part from the group.

“I think my exit just means that I couldn’t agree with them on language,” Labrador told reporters, “I don’t think it means anything for immigration reform.”

Earlier Wednesday, Rubio said border security provisions must be strengthened before conservatives will support the bill in sufficient numbers to make it law. He has pledged to push amendments to the bill that would stiffen those requirements and potentially shift the power to craft security plans from the Department of Homeland Security to Congress.

“If the changes don’t happen, the bill can’t pass,” Rubio said. “We’ll keep working. We won’t abandon the effort. We’ll keep working to ensure the bill can pass.”

The Senate bill is expected to be taken up on the floor of the upper chamber next week. Rubio, along with Democrat and fellow “Gang of Eight” member Sen. Bob Menendez, has said that it does not currently have the 60 votes required for passage, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated last week that it would be “pretty easy” to pull together sufficient support.

But Rubio pointed to the Republican-controlled House as a major factor, even if the bill passes the Senate with broad bipartisan backing.

“Let’s remember – the goal here is not to pass a bill out of the Senate,” he said. “The goal here is to reform our immigration laws. And that requires something that can pass the House, the Senate, and be signed by the president.”

Rubio and a handful of other GOP senators — including Jeff Flake, Rand Paul, Jeff Sessions, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz — met with conservative House Republicans for over an hour in the basement of the Capitol to discuss the immigration reform efforts. Attendees described the meeting as an “open discussion” where participants voiced concern about passing legislation that could mirror what happened in 1986, when President Reagan signed a bill offering ‘amnesty’ to millions of undocumented immigrants.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the House will not take up the Senate bill wholesale.

“It’s very clear that the House will not take the Senate bill,” Goodlatte said, noting that the panel that he chairs is working through smaller pieces of legislation to beef up border and interior enforcement.

Some House Republicans are pessimistic that a larger package could be signed into law by the end of the summer at all.  Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told reporters Wednesday “It may pass in the Senate, but I don’t see it passing into law.”

“The border security piece of this is a big, big stumbling block,” Fleming said, “I don’t think Republicans are going to support anything that is milquetoast in the way of border security.”

http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/05/18780685-rubio-house-gop-again-warn-immigration-bill-lacks-support-without-border-fixes?lite


John Boehner begins to sketch immigration plan

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment
By SEUNG MIN KIM and JAKE SHERMAN | 6/9/13 11:12 PM EDT

Speaker John Boehner has been stunningly silent about his plans to move immigration reform through the House.

But privately, the Ohio Republican is beginning to sketch out a road map to try to pass some version of an overhaul in his chamber — a welcome sign for proponents of immigration reform.

If his goal is met, it’ll be a busy few weeks.

The speaker wants House committees — Judiciary has primary jurisdiction — to wrap up their work on a version of immigration legislation before the July 4 recess. And he would like immigration reform to see a House vote before Congress breaks in August.

His goal is to begin moving either bite-size immigration bills or the bipartisan House immigration group’s legislation through committees before the Senate passes its bill, which could happen by the end of this month. The Senate Gang of Eight plan is on the Senate floor this week and is expected to get a vote before the July 4 recess.

It’s an ambitious plan, considering House leadership has not yet settled on what bill it will advance.

Boehner’s thinking, and the fact that Republican leadership is willing to discuss the process for immigration reform, represents a significant shift and suggests a new urgency for Republican leadership. It is a moderately good sign for the prospects of immigration reform in the House. After months of coy talk from Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), any sign of planning for legislation is a positive development for reform proponents.

The leadership’s plan is to allow the bipartisan group to release its legislation and closely monitor how it is received by House Republicans. If it’s decried as too lenient, leadership could fall back on Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) small-bore proposals, which he has been slowly considering in committee. They so far include measures governing E-Verify, and changing the high-skilled and agricultural worker visa programs.

Republican leadership prefers to move immigration reform in pieces, rather than a large bill. But that’s pure procedural calculation, since a House-passed bill would have to be meshed with any Senate bill before it is sent to the White House.

Passing an immigration overhaul will be difficult in the House. The wide gap between the two parties has been on display recently, as the bipartisan immigration working group has experienced fits and starts in releasing its legislation. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), whose presence in the group was comforting for conservatives, recently dropped out. There is a pocket of conservatives that are opposed to a new process that would legalize the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country.

Another question will be how the House handles the Senate’s bill, should it pass the upper chamber. A senior GOP leadership aide said they would consider putting that measure into the committee process if it passed the Senate.

Of course, there are elements in leadership who think immigration reform will never pass the House. There is too much resistance to sweeping legislation, not to mention the charged issue of immigration reform splits the party in many directions.

Immigration reform is one piece of an increasingly busy summer on Capitol Hill. This week, the House will consider the National Defense Authorization Act. In the coming weeks, there will be a lengthy debate on the House floor on government spending. And there is sure to be healthy debate around intelligence reauthorization, after it was revealed that the National Security Agency is culling massive amounts of Internet data. Congress is also facing a stare down over student loan rates — the House and Senate have to come to an agreement with the president or rates will double.

Boehner’s timeline for immigration reform, and the fact that he is discussing it, also has skeptics.

Multiple Democratic aides familiar with the emerging legislation said Sunday that Boehner’s timetable is ambitious, but is feasible. A standoff over health care for undocumented immigrants was the final roadblock for House negotiators, but that was settled when Labrador dropped out of the negotiations over the dispute.

“Without any outstanding issues to resolve, our bill is nearly ready,” one Democratic aide familiar with the House discussions said Sunday.

That aide said the group — now down to seven members after Labrador’s exit — was still planning on releasing a single bill. Democrats and some Republicans have strongly advocated for a comprehensive approach because they say the components of immigration reform are too interconnected.

Meanwhile, the immigration bill moving through the Senate got a significant boost from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who announced on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and with a lengthy statement on her website that she was supporting the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

Ayotte was long considered one of the likeliest Republican votes for the Gang of Eight, and the former state attorney general is a frequent ally of Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona — two members of the Senate group.

In her statement Sunday, Ayotte said she wants amendments that would tighten border-security measures, which will be crucial in luring more Republican votes. She also defended the 13-year pathway to citizenship that has become a flash point for some conservatives, calling its requirements “strict” and “tough but fair.”

“We need to stop the flow of illegal immigrants,” Ayotte said in her statement. “And we need to bring undocumented people out of the shadows to separate those seeking economic opportunity from those seeking to harm us [who must be deported].”

Ayotte joins the four Republican senators in the Gang of Eight — McCain, Graham, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona — in supporting the bill. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) backed the bill in committee but is insisting on more changes to provisions involving taxes and benefits before the legislation earns his support on the floor.

Other leaders are eager to move comprehensive immigration reform along. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in May that she wanted Congress to pass an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws by August.

And in his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama said there is “no reason” preventing lawmakers from sending him a bill by the end of this summer.

“We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that,” Obama said in his address. “And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/john-boehner-immigration-plan-92471.html


How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Fare in the New Immigration Bill

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Fare in the New Immigration Bill

shutterstock_64313536With the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote last week to pass S.744 on to the Senate floor, a new proposal for spurring immigrant entrepreneurship and innovation will be before Congress. Title IV, Subtitle H of the bill creates the INVEST visa (Investing in New Venture, Entrepreneurial Startups, and Technologies) for immigrant entrepreneurs. This new visa program would allow immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States, start businesses, and create jobs in America. There would be two types of INVEST visas. A nonimmigrant INVEST visa would be renewable provided certain initial investment, annual revenue, and job creation criteria are met within an initial three-year period. The immigrant version of the INVEST visa would have basically the same criteria just at higher thresholds. The committee also adopted an amendment that permanently authorizes the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which has created tens of thousands of American jobs and attracted over $1 billion in investments since 2006.

 

While there is always room for improvement of proposed immigrant pathways, the INVEST visa represents progress for immigration and entrepreneurship.

While we’ve heard little about the proposed entrepreneur visa programs amid the broader comprehensive immigration reform conversation, they are important to include due to the substantial contributions immigrant entrepreneurs make to the United States. Immigrant entrepreneurs have founded some of the most successful large businesses in the United States. And immigrant small business owners operate establishments in local communities from coast to coast and throughout America’s heartland. 

The contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners are clear. For example, the Fiscal Policy Institute reports that immigrant-owned small businesses employed 4.7 million people in 2007 and generated an estimated $776 billion in receipts. Immigrants make up 37 percent of restaurant owners and 43 percent of hotel and motel owners in communities across America. Furthermore, a report for the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses in 2011 but only accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population, and the rate at which immigrants started new businesses grew by more than 50 percent from 1996 to 2011.

Amid the wealth of evidence on the positive benefits immigrant entrepreneurs bring to the United States, local places are beginning to take note and highlight these contributions. Cities across the Rust Belt and Midwest, for instance, are implementing various “welcoming” initiatives aimed at integrating immigrants and immigrant businesses into their communities. As these communities experience demographic change and native-born population decline, they’re seeking ways in which to attract immigrants to settle, start businesses, create jobs, and spur economic growth. Examples of such initiatives include Global DetroitWelcome DaytonGlobal ClevelandWelcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and the Chicago Office of New Americans, among others. As these programs recognize, immigrant business owners often play a critical role in helping revitalize local communities that may otherwise have succumbed to blight and decay. Ultimately, places of welcome are places that thrive. Welcoming initiatives throughout the country – from small towns to large metropolitan areas – are poised to encourage an environment where immigrants and immigrant entrepreneurs can help reinvigorate aging populations, renew communities, and revitalize local economies.

While there is always room for improvement of proposed immigrant pathways, the INVEST visa represents progress for immigration and entrepreneurship. And while immigrant business owners may come through all immigrant channels, a visa program that effectively encourages and facilitates more entrepreneurship and job creation is economically beneficial.

http://immigrationimpact.com/2013/05/28/how-immigrant-entrepreneurs-fare-in-the-new-immigration-bill/


What Would the Proposed Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 Mean for Business-Related Immigration?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Border Enforcement, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

What Would the Proposed Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 Mean for Business-Related Immigration?
By stacey On May 20, 2013 · Add Comment

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The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 sets the framework for Congress to address many immigration issues that have been suspended in a gridlock for several years in Washington. The proposed bill, crafted jointly by a group of four Democrats and four Republicans, together known as the Gang of Eight, was crafted to address four major immigration issues. If approved, this Act would: (i) tighten border controls, (ii) allow greater numbers of workers to immigrate legally, (iii) require employers to verify that all workers have legal status, and (iv) create an opportunity for those who are in the U.S. illegally to gain citizenship by following a detailed legal process.

Background

The U.S. is currently in its fourth and largest immigration wave. This wave began in 1965 reflecting the end of immigration limits based on nationality. According to Nancy Benac of the Associated Press in her April 8, 2013, article on the proposed act, the foreign-born population now accounts for approximately 1 in 8 U.S. residents, or approximately 13% of the population. Ms. Benac also states that out of the record 40.4 million immigrants who live in the United States, more than 18 million are naturalized citizens, 11 million are legal permanent or temporary residents, and more than 11 million are in the country without legal permission. (AP article published at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/gang-of-eight)

Under present laws, the U.S. permits the granting of a significantly larger proportion of permanent green cards to family members of citizens and current permanent residents than to foreigners with job or other prospects here. About two-thirds of permanent legal immigration to the U.S. is family-based, compared to about the 15% that is employment based. Many members of Congress are interested in boosting employment-based immigration to help the U.S. economy, and to help the U.S. to compete more effectively with other countries around the world by attracting talent to the domestic workplace.

Business owners, entrepreneurs and business lobbying organizations are keenly interested in Congress changing the immigration system to allow the U.S. to attract foreign-born workers with various skill sets. Advocates also wish for workers who have legally worked in the U.S. for an extended period of time to qualify for permanent resident status with fewer obstacles. Despite guarded opposition by labor unions, language in the 2013 bill addresses these issues.

How Will the Bill Affect Business-Related Immigration?

The bill proposes a migration to a more merit-based immigration system by eliminating certain categories of family preferences that promote chain migration, while wholly eliminating the diversity visa lottery. The bill would prevent citizens from bringing in siblings while allowing citizens to sponsor married sons and daughters only if those children are under the age of 31. These changes set the stage for more business-based visas.

The bill would raise the cap on visas for highly-skilled workers seeking H1-B visa status from 65,000 to 110,000, which would be a huge coup and certainly appreciated by the immigration bar – few of us were immune to the frenetic rush to file before the April 1 deadline, and even then far too many legitimate prospective beneficiaries simply missed the boat due to the unreasonable limitations in this critical area.

The bill also proposes to increase the current cap for H-1B STEM graduates with advanced degrees from 20,000 to 25,000. STEM graduates possess degrees based around the natural sciences.

All of these proposed changes to the H-1B visa will allow students who have gone to universities in the U.S. to study and receive advanced degrees to stay in this country to work, and the U.S. will lose less of this pool of talent to foreign competitors. All of these proposed changes are expected to produce positive economic results.

Additionally, the bill creates a start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs. Under the INVEST program, two new types of visas, one for non-immigrant visas and the other for immigrant visas, have been proposed for entrepreneurs as detailed below:

(1) The non-immigrant INVEST visa is a renewable 3-year visa for investors who can show at least $100,000 in investment in his or her business from angel investors and/or other qualified investors over the past 3 years, and whose business has created no fewer than 3 jobs while generating at least $250,000 in annual revenues in the U.S. for the two years immediately prior to filing.

(2) The INVEST immigrant visa would be an entrepreneurial green card, the number of which would be capped at 10,000 per year. The INVEST immigrant visa would require that the applicant must:

Have significant ownership in a U.S. business (need not be majority interest);
Be employed as a senior executive in the U.S. business;
Have had a significant role in the founding/initial stages of the business;
Have resided for at least 2 years in the U.S. in lawful status;
and

Have in the 3 years prior to filing a significant ownership in a U.S. business that has created at least 5 jobs and which business must have received at least $500,000 in venture capital or other qualified investments; or
Have in the 3 years prior to filing a significant ownership in a U.S. business that has created at least 5 jobs, and the business has generated at least $750,000 in annual revenue for the 2 years immediately prior to filing.
Finally, the bill also proposes a guest worker visa program. This is among the more controversial aspects of the Gang of Eight bill and is known as “W visas.” This program would issue guest worker visas for low-skilled workers, defined in the bill as those whose jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Guest workers would serve three-year stints, renewable indefinitely, and would be allowed to bring their families with them. The program sets a first-year cap of 20,000 for the program, but the agency running it would be allowed to increase that to as high as 200,000 visas per year. This program could create a potentially huge source of future migration to the U.S., and raises the question of whether or not these foreign workers will be eligible for permanent residence or citizenship in later years.

Conclusion

Much of the proposed legislation in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is just an outline and framework that which the full Congress can refine and eventually act. Amendments and additional provisions will no doubt be included in any final version of the bill that is enacted by both houses. Congress has vowed to give this bill a long period of consideration and multiple hearings for comments and testimony. It will undoubtedly be many months before the final version of the bill is drafted and passed in any form. It is hoped that this detailed level of scrutiny will allow for a comprehensive and effective new immigration law that will have a positive effect on business and on the economy.

http://ecouncilinc.com/?p=2117&utm_source=eCouncil+Inc&utm_campaign=a3287d7f6e-May_Newsletter6_3_2013%283%29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_896120c70f-a3287d7f6e-26001245


Houston Attorneys Speak Out On Immigration Reform

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment

THELAW.TV Houston
Houston Attorneys Speak Out On Immigration Reform
Friday, May 24, 2013

By THELAW.TV

Immigration reform has dominated the political landscape in Washington for much of the year.
There’s widespread agreement that the immigration system needs a comprehensive overhaul. Yet, there’s little agreement on what the change should look like. Democrats want a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But many Republicans oppose anything that looks like “amnesty.”
We asked prominent Houston-area immigration attorneys to speak out on this hot button issue.
Here’s what they had to say:

Q: As an experienced immigration attorney, do you believe that we will see comprehensive immigration reform become law during this President Obama’s administration?

“It’s like trying to swallow an elephant. I hope Congress has the stomach for it.”
– Adan G. Vega, Esq., Law Offices of Adan G. Vega & Associates

“I think the House and Senate are too far apart to reach a compromise.”
– Emily Neumann, Esq., Reddy & Neumann, P.C.

“Yes, I believe that the groundswell of support is growing within Congress to enact this needed legislation this year. Both parties have been applauded for their bipartisan efforts and the chance to show that Washington can work together. The majority of Congress do not want to appear to be obstructionists.”
– Pamelia Barnett, Esq., Barnett Law Group

“Change is on the horizon during this administration because minorities made a huge impact on the 2012 presidential election and showed us all that they are a force to be reckoned with. I support an immigration reform bill that affords the same rights to all qualifying individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Immigration reform should include LGBT individuals and their families. Times are changing and as Americans we must lead the way.”
– Gia Samavati, Esq., Samavati & Samavati

“Immigration attorneys are reluctant to be hopeful for comprehensive immigration reform due to many failed prior attempts. However, I believe we are closer than we have been in many years to a resolution. It is in both parties’ interest to pass comprehensive legislation that will ultimately impact millions of lives, improve security, and boost our economy.”
– Ruby L. Powers, Esq., The Law Office of Ruby L. Powers

What do you think about immigration reform? Will it happen? What will it look like? Let us know.

http://blog.chron.com/legalnews/2013/05/houston-attorneys-speak-out-on-immigration-reform/


Experts from Left and Right Agree on Economic Power of Immigration Reform

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

shutterstock_115685188

In recent years, study after study has demonstrated a simple yet economically powerful truth about broad-based immigration reform: workers with legal status earn more than workers who are unauthorized—and these extra earnings generate more tax revenue, as well as more consumer spending, which creates more jobs. As a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) points out, this fact implies that states with appreciable unauthorized populations stand to gain economically from immigration reform that includes a legalization program for the unauthorized. Moreover, a new open letter to Congressional leaders released by the conservative American Action Forum illustrates that it is not only liberal advocacy groups like CAP which recognize the economic potential of immigration reform.

The CAP study begins by quantifying the immense economic gains to the nation as a whole that would flow from a new legalization program:

“If the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were provided legal status, then the 10-year cumulative increase in the gross domestic product, or GDP, of the United States would be $832 billion. Similarly, the cumulative increase in the personal income of all Americans over 10 years would be $470 billion. On average over 10 years, immigration reform would create 121,000 new jobs each year. Undocumented immigrants would also benefit and contribute more to the U.S. economy. Over the 10-year period they would earn $392 billion more and pay an additional $109 billion in taxes—$69 billion to the federal government and $40 billion to state and local governments. After 10 years, when the undocumented immigrants start earning citizenship, they will experience additional increases in their income on the order of 10 percent, which will in turn further boost our economy.”

The study then calculates the economic gains from legalization over the course of 10 years for 24 states where 88 percent of all unauthorized immigrants live. Among these are:

Arizona: Legalization would yield a cumulative increase in Gross State Product (GSP) of $23.1 billion; $1.5 billion in additional taxes paid by formerly unauthorized immigrants; and an average of 3,400 new jobs created annually.

Florida: Legalization would yield a cumulative increase in GSP of $55.3 billion; $3.1 billion in additional taxes paid by formerly unauthorized immigrants; and an average of 8,000 new jobs created annually.

Pennsylvania: Legalization would yield a cumulative increase in GSP of $14.8 billion; $810 million in additional taxes paid by formerly unauthorized immigrants, and an average of 2,100 new jobs created annually.

Virginia: Legalization would yield a cumulative increase in GSP of $16.3 billion; $670 million in additional taxes paid by formerly unauthorized immigrants, and an average of 2,400 new jobs created annually.

The study rightly points out that “the sooner we grant legal status and provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, the sooner all Americans will be able to reap these benefits.”

Lest pro-reform views be portrayed as the exclusive domain of political liberals, the May 23 American Action Forum letter to Congressional leaders was signed by 111 conservative economists, including  American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Director of the Congressional Budget Office; Arthur B. Laffer, former Chief Economist at the Office of Management and Budget; and R. Glenn Hubbard and Edward Lazear, former Chairmen of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The letter acknowledges that “immigration reform’s positive impact on population growth, labor force growth, housing and other markets will lead to more rapid economic growth. This, in turn, translates into a positive impact on the federal budget.” Therefore, the signatories urge Congressional leaders “to pass a broad-based immigration reform bill that includes a U.S. visa system more attuned to economic policy objectives. We believe a reformed and efficient immigration system can promote economic growth and ease the challenge of reforming unsustainable federal health and retirement programs.”

Both the CAP report and the American Action Forum letter are signs that numerous experts from across the political spectrum recognize the economic power and potential of immigration reform. Done right, immigration reform legislation could serve as a significant stimulus for the U.S. economy. The dysfunctional status quo, on the other hand, serves no one’s best interests.

http://immigrationimpact.com/2013/05/24/experts-from-left-and-right-agree-on-economic-power-of-immigration-reform/


First Hurdle Cleared in Immigration, but Bigger Ones Remain

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, pathway to citizenship Leave a comment

By 

Updated: May 21, 2013 | 8:50 p.m.
May 21, 2013 | 8:00 p.m.

An American flag, about 150 years old, is flown during an immigration-reform rally at the Capitol last month. (AP Photo)

The first step in passing major immigration legislation went pretty smoothly, all things considered. The Senate Judiciary Committee late Tuesday approved a bill that would give 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and require employers to electronically verify all new hires.

The bill offers the biggest changes to immigration law in almost 30 years.

The committee’s action clears the way for a full-fledged Senate to take up the bill after Memorial Day. But making progress toward passage will only get more difficult. The “Gang of Eight” Republican and Democratic sponsors are fighting for every additional Republican vote in the full Senate, hoping that the measure will pass with “yes” votes from almost all of the 55 members in the Democratic caucus and at least 15 of the Senate’s 45 Republicans.

The latest supporter of the bill is Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who voted for the bill out of committee after reaching a deal to ease access to H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers. He is asking for a few more changes to the bill before a Senate vote, but his support in committee is significant.

Reform advocates are happy with the committee vote, even though they know there are many ways the bill could still die. After five arduous days of debate, with committee members slogging through hundreds of amendments, the immigration proposal emerged largely unchanged from the basic framework initially offered in April by the Gang of Eight.

The bill’s path to citizenship is still intact, despite attempts from some committee Republicans to remove the ability of newly legalized immigrants to become naturalized citizens. The electronic verification requirement is still being phased in over several years to accommodate small businesses, despite an attempt to speed up the mandate that would have threatened businesses’ support of the bill.

Advocates consider the legislation the answer to problems raised in 1986, when Congress passed legislation giving amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants and put in place a paper authorization system for employers.

America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry, an avid supporter of legalization for undocumented immigrants, noted that the 1986 bill didn’t allow for future immigrants to enter the country for low-skill jobs such as restaurant workers, roofers, or nannies. So those workers simply entered illegally. Now there are 11 million of them. The immigration legislation on the table would create several ways for employers who need those foreign workers to get them here and not be forced to pay them under the table.

“You have options where those immigration categories didn’t exist before,” Sharry said. “We now have a lever to turn. If the demand goes up, you can increase the visas because you have a visa category that didn’t exist before. You couldn’t do that.”

The final hours of the committee’s deliberation illustrated the deep emotional struggles that the bill’s sponsors grappled with in order to reach agreement with members of the opposing party and those with opposing viewpoints. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., waited until the bitter end of the hours-long session to discuss his controversial amendment that would give same-sex couples the same immigration benefits as heterosexual couples. The proposal was dubbed a deal-killer by Republicans, so Leahy did reluctantly withdrew it.

“I don’t want be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country,” Leahy said.

“There will be another day, Mr. Chairman,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a bill sponsor who said he would have voted against Leahy’s proposal because it upset the agreement from the Gang of Eight.

Another amendment offered by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, to allow U.S. citizens to sponsor siblings or married adult children for green cards in cases of extreme hardship, was rejected with regrets from otherwise supportive Democrats. The ability to sponsor siblings and adult children for green cards, a right that exists under current law, was traded away in favor of merit-based visas to end so-called chain migration, at the request of Republicans.

If those amendments were difficult for Democrats to deal with, the Republicans on the Gang of Eight had their own problems. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., noted that he and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., had been voting for days against amendments that they themselves wanted because they knew it would upset Gang Democrats. For example, Flake and Graham voted against proposals to increase the number of guest workers allowed in the bill, because Democrats did not want to upset unions that are vigorously attempting to keep the visa numbers low to protect American jobs.

As the bill moves to the full Senate, its sponsors got a huge boost on the Republican side from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Tuesday that he would not stand in the way of the legislation on the Senate floor. “The Judiciary Committee has not in any fundamental way undone the agreements that were reached by the eight senators. And so I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get a bill that we can pass here in the Senate,” he said.

Even with a pass from McConnell, other Republicans are expected to make a fuss, and it will be an exercise in patience and political savvy to navigate their protests. Gang member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is not on the Judiciary Committee, says the bill won’t pass if all 100 senators don’t have their say. That’s going to mean a lot of floor time for senators to talk about everything from drones to chicken-processing plants to dairy workers.

For more information:http://www.nationaljournal.com/first-hurdle-cleared-in-immigration-but-bigger-ones-remain-20130521?utm_source=AILA+Mailing&utm_campaign=6e48f3428c-AILA8_5_23_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3c0e619096-6e48f3428c-287739493


Mark Zuckerberg group launches TV blitz

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

By ALEXANDER BURNS

4/23/13 3:15 PM EDT

POLITICO

The Mark Zuckerberg-backed organization pressing for immigration reform will launch its first wave of television ads Tuesday, in a move aimed at shoring up support for a large-scale immigration deal on the right, strategists for the group told POLITICO.

FWD.us, the organization formed to push Silicon Valley’s priorities in Washington, will advocate for a new immigration law through a subsidiary group created specifically to court conservatives. Americans for a Conservative Direction will spend seven figures to run ads in more than half a dozen states, according to strategists who sketched out the organization’s plans.

The sales pitch leans heavily on clips of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to make its case to skeptical Republican-leaning voters. The ad campaign is the first wave of advocacy advertising from FWD.us, and an early test of the group’s ability to move the political debate.

The conservative-oriented FWD.us affiliate running the ads has assembled its own blue-chip board of advisers, including former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; Sally Bradshaw, the former chief of staff to Jeb Bush; Dan Senor and Joel Kaplan, the former George W. Bush advisers; and Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who serves as the campaign manager for FWD.us.

Brian Walsh, the former NRSC communications director, is working closely with the group on communications and strategy.

In a statement, Jesmer said the TV offensive was aimed at giving air support to Republicans in Washington who have gone out on a limb to forge an immigration deal.

“Conservative leaders in Congress have put forward a bold plan with the toughest enforcement measures to secure our broken borders and hold those who have broken our laws accountable. Americans for a Conservative Direction is committed to supporting this effort as Congress gets to work on the real solutions that will fix our broken immigration system, secure our borders and help grow our economy,” the GOP strategist said.

FWD.us, a registered not-for-profit, will also have an arm focused on reaching out to progressive and independent voters, dubbed the Council for American Job Growth. Both affiliate groups are incorporated as LLCs.

And while both entities will be funded through the FWD.us umbrella organization, strategists said they will have independent boards to shape their political activity.

In six states – Texas, Florida, Utah, North Carolina, Iowa and Kentucky – the Americans for a Conservative Direction commercials will feature clips of Rubio extolling the virtues of a tough-but-fair immigration compromise. Voters in a seventh state, South Carolina, will see 60-second ads praising the conservative credentials of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top Republican advocate for immigration reform.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/mark-zuckerberg-immigration-group-launches-tv-blitz-90511.html#ixzz2Rs5ToiWP


The Charismatic Leaders Behind Immigration Reform

Posted on by Ruby Powers in immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

The Charismatic Leaders Behind Immigration Reform

hASAED9KRUoUm0E_5iMM8Gk4g61nZhrIXp2Ua65vG20The tens of thousands of people who gathered Wednesday in front of the Capitol to rally for comprehensive immigration reform had two clear messages for Congress: reform must include a direct path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, and “The Time Is Now.”

 

While there are many issues at stake, the genius of the movement is that it has not been designed to be about “one person, or group or ethnicity,” but rather about the greater whole.

As the rally filled the Capitol’s west lawn, a bipartisan group of senators worked furiously on final negotiations on the comprehensive immigration reform bill that should be introduced early next week, according to news reports. “We are writing the bill as we speak,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is a member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight. The Los Angeles Timesreports that the bill’s first draft is about 1,000 pages, but not all senators have signed off on every section, with provisions related to agricultural workers and border security still being worked out. Yet they are close, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said after a briefing yesterday. “We are closer now than we have been in 25 years for serious immigration reform,” he said. “This president is behind it. And there is a strong, growing bipartisan effort in the Senate to support it. We hope that the House will do the same.” 

While those at the rally had a clear message, they did not speak with a single voice. Attendees came from across the country and represented a range of groups, both old and new members of a growing coalition in support of immigration reform. Busloads of supporters came from states as far away as Michigan, Florida, and Alabama. Participants wore colorful t-shirts and carried the banners of labor unions, women’s and business groups, Latino, Asian and African coalitions, as well as LGBT organizations.

As an NPR report analyzing the immigration reform movement put it, the movement’s success may very well lie in how “decentralized” it is. While there are many issues at stake, the genius of the movement is that it has not been designed to be about “one person, or group or ethnicity,” but rather about the greater whole. And as one rally participant interviewed for the NPR piece put it when asked who the leader of the movement was, she replied, without hesitation, “the people.”

The wide range of issues at stake in immigration reform also explains why it has been so hard to get a comprehensive bill and why these bills end up being 1,000 pages long. The interlocking puzzle pieces of immigration reform are tricky, and it is critical to put them together right. One issue cannot be addressed without impacting others and all of them must ultimately work together seamlessly. That is why this bill has taken so long to produce and why negotiations can be tricky. So as the Senate hammered out the final details, the rally participants showed their support and appreciation for the bipartisan work being done, while continuing to apply pressure on lawmakers to get it done as quickly as possible and not to forget any of them in the process.


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