Spotlight on: Immigration
Interested in actively advocating for and assisting the immigrant population in our area? The GRBWI Immigration Committee meets on the third Monday of the month from 7 - 9 PM at the Shrewsbury Historical Society, 419 Sycamore Ave, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702. Come, find out what they’ve been doing and how to get involved.
Add your name to the petition calling on the NJ legislature to expand access to drivers licenses now. This will increase licensed and insured drivers, make our roads safer, lower insurance premiums and keep our families together and safe.
Dream and Promise Act of 2019
At the GRBWI Immigration Committee’s March meeting, Itzel presented the highlights of this bill. Download the document
Background: Currently Temporary Protected Status (TPS) persons are being asked to self deport. The fear is if it happens to TPS could it also happen to DACA individuals. The Act asks for a “clean resolution “ to the problem of immigration. A group of local Dreamers went to Washington the weekend of March 21. Read about them.
The Dream and Promise Act merges TPS, DACA and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) individuals under the one act. The focus is on the solution to the path to citizenship. There are no provisions for bargaining with ICE funding in this version of the act.
For those who qualify (working 75% of the year, in trade school, in college) receive Conditional Permanent Status for 10 years and then the can apply for citizenship
Individuals under 18 years can’t be deported Those already deported can petition to re-enter the country.
A group of 25 local Dreamers go to Washington DC . . .
There's nothing more satisfying than seeing something that took so much effort be realized.
It all started last year when, after taking 8 students to Washington D.C to lobby on immigration, I saw the transformation, empowerment and leadership those student brought home with them and immediately began to use within our immigrant community.
Concluding that it would be just as impactful an experience for others as it was for them, we put ourselves to work and set a goal of recruiting 15 students to take back to lobby in D.C. this year. Well, 15 turned into 25, and although this brought new challenges with funding, transportation, accommodation etc., it was too late to turn back. If there's a perfect example of the community that has been built between immigrant youth and allies of our area, it's this one.
To the folks who helped us make this trip a reality, THANK YOU. Hopefully I've had the chance to say it to you personally but if not I want you to understand what your help did over the weekend. With your help we were able to forever transform the lives of 25 immigrant youth.
Here's what I saw: I saw some fearlessly tell their stories for the first time in front of 500 people. I saw youth making meaningful friendships that will last for years to come. I saw individuals who had always felt alone and insignificant because of their immigration status be told that they were powerful, important and worthy of admiration. Over the weekend I saw them proudly declare their dreams and for once not afraid to be ridiculed, but instead be encouraged and praised for how close they are to making them a reality. I saw them share hugs, laughs, tears, stories and kind words among them. I saw them humanize the immigration debate the way we so desperately need to. I saw them transform into leaders right in front of my eyes.
It is my greatest privilege to get the chance to work with them, to see them have an "aha!" moment and see their eyes light up when you tell them they had it in them all along. Regardless of what the future may hold for me I know that these are the days I will always remember. Thank you for believing in them, in me and in what our future may look like if we continue to invest in our immigrant youth regardless of status, of age, of nationality and of dreams.
~ Itzel He
DACA - it's always something; but not the one thing
Deal or No Deal: What happens if Congress fails to make a deal on DACA by March 5th?
The likeliest outcome is a return to the status quo before 2012
From The Economist 2/22/18 https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21737287-likeliest-outcome-return-status-quo-2012-what-happens-if-congress
In September 2017 President Donald Trump announced he would phase out the DACA programme, claiming that Mr Obama had not possessed a mandate to implement it with no input from Congress. But Mr Trump did not end the policy outright. He gave DACA recipients whose status would expire before March 5th one month to renew it for another two years. Those whose protected status lapsed after that date would not enjoy the same privilege. When their status lapsed, they would be eligible for removal. Politicians took note. Congress would need to reach a legislative solution by March 5th or risk exposing Dreamers to deportation.
Or so they thought. In January a district-court judge in San Francisco ordered the Trump administration to continue renewing DACA applications while the underlying legality of ending the programme is worked out. To the surprise of many, instead of asking for a legal “stay” that would have reversed the injunction, the federal government complied. Yet the administration wanted to bypass the federal appeals court. It asked the Supreme Court to review the case directly instead of letting it wind its way through the court system first, as would normally be the case. The Supreme Court declined. (see "Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request to Weigh inQquickly on Dreamers" - Politico )
In the meantime, even though March 5th is no longer a hard deadline, some in Congress are trying to find a legislative fix which would render the court case immaterial. Versions of bills shielding Dreamers from deportation have been introduced more than 20 times since 2001 when the first such proposal was floated, according to LawLogix, a legal software group. Despite enjoying support from Republicans, Democrats and the general public, the bills have floundered. If the court’s final ruling (now as much as a year or more away) is unfavourable to DACA and no legislative agreement is reached, the law will return to where it was before 2012, and people who arrived in America as minors will again be subject to deportation.
Congress has failed on DACA. Here’s what must happen now.
February 19th "Washington Post Opinions" piece by Senator Jeff Flake
Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is a member of the U.S. Senate.
Having spent the better part of two decades trying to tackle the challenges we face as a country, I sometimes feel a little defensive when I hear someone say Congress is incapable of solving big problems.
But that’s a hard point to argue after watching the Senate squander its best opportunity to pass legislation both to protect young immigrants affected by the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to strengthen security along the border.
Somehow, despite sweeping public support for both these items, we could not find a compromise that 60 senators could agree with. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement.
I do appreciate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to facilitate an open debate to deliver an effective piece of bipartisan legislation. Senators on both sides of the aisle made a concerted effort to forge consensus. Unfortunately, the siren call of politics brought too many of us back into partisan trenches and blocked any hope of real results.
But there are teachers, students and members of the military who are DACA recipients. They are friends and colleagues who represent the very best of America — hard workers and productive members of their families and communities — and they do not have the luxury of accepting defeat and moving on to the next agenda item.
Likewise, those of us from border states know that law enforcement officers tasked with patrolling the border and protecting our neighborhoods cannot just give up and go home.
But if I’m being candid, after what we’ve experienced over these past weeks, I can’t see this Congress agreeing with this president on a package that includes a path to citizenship for DACA participants coupled with significant changes to our legal immigration structure. That comprehensive immigration reform has proved to be beyond our grasp.
That is why, when the Senate reconvenes next week, the first action I will take will be to introduce a bill extending DACA protections for three years and providing $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration’s border-security proposal. I’ll be the first to admit this “three for three” approach is far from a perfect solution, but it would provide a temporary fix by beginning the process of improving border security and ensuring DACA recipients will not face potential deportation.
Congress has become entirely too comfortable ignoring problems when they seem too difficult to solve. This issue is not something we can ignore.
In the days following the introduction of this DACA extension, I’ll be on the floor to offer a unanimous-consent request for an up-or-down vote. I can’t promise that one of my colleagues won’t object — effectively blocking such a vote — but I promise that I’ll be back on the floor, again and again, motioning for a vote until the Senate passes a bill providing relief to those struggling.
We may not have been able to deliver a permanent solution to these problems, but we cannot abdicate the responsibility of Congress to solve them. There are too many people with too much at stake.