Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The American people are speaking and they’re saying “yes” to immigration reform. From both sides of the aisle, and all parts of the political spectrum, the left, the right, and the center are all coming out and registering their voices in support of immigration reform.  

Congressmen are actually listening as immigration advocates count 23 Republican members of Congress who have publicly come out in support of not just immigration reform for legal immigrants but a path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants.

The Atlantic published a great article last week boldly exclaiming that Immigration reformers are winning in August. But despite the show of numbers for immigration reform, Roy Beck, executive director of the anti-immigration group NumbersUSA remains unconvinced that immigration reform will happen. He asserts that protests, rallies and shows of numbers do not necessarily correspond to votes in Congress. I have to say Beck is right – but only to a point. He is right when he says that our work is not done. Until a comprehensive immigration reform bill is signed into law, we can only be "winning" but we have not won. Even still, it is encouraging to see less and less people show up to anti-immigration rallies – like the sort Beck organizes, Turnout is so low that major anti-immigrant rallies have to be cut back and events have to be cancelled due to low participation. To this setback, Beck argues that his side does not need to come out in numbers in the same way as reform advocates since anti-reform advocates have the House in their pocket. Beck and his like minded supporters count on the House rejecting the Senate bill, which is the most immediate way comprehensive reform could be signed into law. 

The great thing about this fight for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) is that even if the House rejects the Senate bill forthright – the call for CIR  is becoming so loud - the House cannot possibly disregard this call to action. In fact, the House is under increasing pressure to pass something immigration related as their first order of business, And like Beck, I have trust in the political process because at the end of the day, it is in their best interest as politicians to take note of the changing tide of public opinion - which is shown by show of numbers. After all, the same people most likely to be involved in the political process now are most likely going to stay involved during re-election time. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The need for a more distinct line between the role of local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) agents is becoming more and more apparent. Pressure from advocacy groups to more strictly define the role of local law enforcement as their duties relate to undocumented immigrants is garnering some hopeful results with Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Cook County, Il, and Newark, NJ passing legislation to significantly limit the reach of ICE.

A recent civil rights lawsuit in New Orleans has brought attention to the unconstitutional practice of “excessive and unlawful custody” local police forces have taken to assist ICE beyond their duty to prevent crime and punish criminals. The New York Times reports that New Orleans Sherriff Marlin Gusman complied with an ICE request to detain two undocumented immigrants until ICE could come and take them  into custody. These two men were jailed at the time for minor offenses but were jailed for an additional 90+ days without a federal charge because of this ICE hold. The explicit limit for detaining someone for ICE is 48 hours – after which, the men should have been released. These men’s constitutional rights were clearly violated and in response to their case’s victory, New Orleans has opted to limit the role local law enforcement will play in future ICE detention cases.

California, recognizing this trend, is now considering a bill that would limit the role of local law enforcement in feeding inmates to ICE. Criminals charged for serious offenses such as felonies, would still be turned over for deportation, but others in jail for minor offenses would not be held on ICE’s behalf beyond the 48 hour maximum. I hope this legislation passes in California and I hope more legislation like this will surface soon in other states. Even an undocumented immigrant should not be detained for prolonged periods of time just because they are in the country without status if they are not criminals or if they only have minor offenses such as traffic offenses, which is most often the case. It’s a cruel and unusual punishment. Think about someone detained for90 days in jail for jaywalking. The punishment does not fit the crime.

We want local police officers to prioritize their efforts in a way that will make our communities safer and not to become an extension of ICE. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


There is some good news to report this week on the immigration front:

The Huffington Post reported yesterday that 400,562 young people or 72% of the estimated total eligible for DACA, have applied and been approved for deferred action since it was approved last August.

In response to overwhelming public support for aiding the Dreamers, 2 House Republicans who voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 are working on a Dream Act-like bill, called the Kids Act that would legalize, not just defer the deportation of Dreamers.

Due to wide public support and the President’s action the case to legalize Dreamers is a done deal as it seems like Congress will be able to come together for their cause. The issue now is to make the case to legalize their parents which is a much tougher case to make. There is still a long road ahead for comprehensive immigration reform but as the case for Dreamers show, civic action and public support can play a substantial role in influencing policy makers.

As a recent Washington Post article notes, there is a danger in the Houses’ piecemeal approach to immigration reform as it could be possible that the GOP concession to legalizing Dreamers will come at a cost of killing attempts at comprehensive immigration reform for the remaining 11 million undocumented immigrants. This is why this strategy is problematic. We need comprehensive immigration reform and to strike while the iron is hot as there is great public support for it now.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The New York Times reports that immigration advocates see Congress’s 5-week summer recess as a crucial window to lobby the House to hold a vote for the comprehensive immigration bill that is currently tabled there. Should the House pursue its piecemeal approach to immigration reform, advocates fear issues like increasing border security will take precedence and leave the issue of a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. unresolved for a much longer time or leave the issue completely unresolved. This is unacceptable as deportations are increasing at a record pace every day.

Since a path to citizenship is included in the Senate’s comprehensive bill, immigration reform advocates are moving forward to launch several campaigns to get the House to vote on the Senate’s bill. One campaign that was both poignant and topical involved sending cantaloupes to more than 200 House members, with a note that said “This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California. You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship.” In a speech last week, Steve King (R-IA), stereotyped immigrants as drug runners who taped marijuana to their calves making them the “size of cantaloupes.” This is not the first time that he made bigoted remarks.

Advocates also mentioned that if the Senate’s comprehensive bill were to be voted on in the House today, there would be enough bipartisan support to pass the bill. Therefore, advocates believe efforts to rally enough outcry from key constituent groups and the accompanying media coverage over the next 5 weeks can help pressure House GOP members and its leadership to act on this bill.

I want to encourage everyone to contact their Congress members in the month of August to support immigration reform, whether by calling their Washington D.C. office, local offices, writing letters or visiting with them if possible. Please do this as we need a final push to get the immigration reform bill passed!