Highlights: February Newsletter
Immigration Battle Heats Up
Last week our executive director Deepak Bhargava and Board member Ali Noorani met with President Obama as part of a small delegation of immigrant and civil rights leaders who are pushing for meaningful immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. At the meeting, the president restated the administration’s commitment to pushing reform over the finish line. But even with the Obama administration’s support, there is a long way to go to ensure reform.
Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a hearing where conservatives spoke out against providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, characterizing it as “extreme”. The hearing included no testimony from immigrants who are affected by our current laws. The Senate is further ahead on the issue, with a blueprint released last month by a bi-partisan group of Senators that includes a path to citizenship. However, the blueprint includes “triggers” that would only allow a path to citizenship after the border is “100 percent secure”. Not only is our border more secure than it has ever been, we are spending more on immigration enforcement than we are on the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Tying citizenship to border security triggers will most likely result in a visa program that could last for decades, creating a near-permanent set of second-class citizens in our country. C4CC and our immigrant allies will fight hard over the coming months to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Thousands of Families Torn Apart
Thousands of families are being torn apart by our broken immigration system every day. Take the story of Melissa and Onesimo. Melissa is a U.S. citizen with a daughter from her first marriage. She and Onesimo, an immigrant from Mexico, have been married and living happily together since May 2011.
That changed last June when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocked on their door on a Friday afternoon and arrested Onesimo for being undocumented. Since then, life has been a nightmare. After two months of court dates, legal fees, and sleepless nights, Onesimo was deported back to Mexico and cannot re-enter the United States for ten years. Melissa and her daughter have moved to Mexico so they can be together as a family. However, Melissa, an engineer, has been unable to find work, and their daughter is struggling in school due to her limitations communicating in Spanish. Read this and other stories here.
Melissa and Onesimo are just one of thousands of families facing this heartbreaking situation. Our immigration system is tearing families apart, and comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship is the only solution.
Building Pressure, State by State
In order to win comprehensive immigration reform, we must make sure that members of Congress don’t forget the lesson of the 2012 election: the Latino and immigrant vote matters.
Right now, C4CC and our sister organization, the Center for Community Change, are part of a broad coalition of national allies and grassroots partners that are organizing in states across the country to keep pressure on members of Congress to vote for a path for citizenship.
On February 21st, we are launching a national bus tour that will traverse nearly 20 states across the country, telling the stories of real families that have been affected by our broken immigration system. The tour will culminate in Washington D.C. on March 12th. Stay tuned for more details and ways you can get involved in your home state!
Last week, Deepak was featured on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to discuss immigration reform. Watch the video now to hear Deepak describe the work of the Campaign and the Center for Community Change (our sister organization), the need for a path to citizenship, and why the "devil is in the details" for any legislation that is put forward.