HEADLINES: Immigration

In another unanticipated negative outcome to Georgia’s restrictive HB-87 anti-immigration law, hundreds of doctors and nurses in the state have been unable to renew their required licenses to practice medicine and have therefore been left in limbo.  Because the law requires anyone applying for or renewing a professional license to include proof of citizenship, the bureaucratic backlog has been nightmarish.  So far, about 600 nurses and 1,300 doctors have been unable to renew their licenses.  Don Palmisano Jr., the executive director of the Medical Association of Georgia, said, “the law fixes a problem that never existed – at least not among doctors.  We’re not aware of any undocumented immigrants that are physicians.”  The Georgia state office “has not uncovered any undocumented immigrants who applied for professional licenses.” [Thinkprogress]

The Nation’s largest business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has thrown its considerable weight behind the newest talks on immigration reform, as political pundits are predicting that the Senate will propose comprehensive immigration reform early in the next congressional session.  The Chamber, which was instrumental in the efforts to push for immigration reform during the Bush administration, is “certainly hopeful that we can get it done within the year,” said Vice President Randy Johnson, “It’s always been important for the Chamber and it will be a priority for us.”  The Chamber noted, however, that the path to immigration reform is likely to be strenuous and complicated, though. [TheHill]

In many ways, the 2012 election is already being viewed as a tipping point in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.  While the debate is far from over, several outspoken opponents of reform have recently reversed course.  Perhaps the most important of these is John Boehner of Ohio, the current Speaker of the House.  This past Thursday, Boehner said that he was confident that the house and the President could come up with a solution for immigration reform, a long divisive topic in Washington.  Boehner announced that “the issue has been around far too long and while I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders, I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident the President, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”  Boehner has not yet articulated a plan for reform. [Nytimes]

This week a widely influential group of Evangelical leaders who represent tens of millions of congregants have joined together to show their support for immigration reform and call on the government to enact swift and decisive action on the subject.  They released an open letter to the President and the heads of both the Congress and the Senate supporting a pathway to legal status for the undocumented population in the United States.  While some evangelicals have been involved in this issue before, and there is a large group of Hispanic Evangelicals, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, for whom this has always been a priority, the scale and the organization of the current group is unprecedented. [Abcnews]

The full Los Angeles City Council backed a proposal to create a city ID system, primarily for undocumented residents, in an enthusiastic 12-1 vote.  The ID system is designed to remedy difficulties that people with undocumented status have to grapple with every day, such as opening a bank account, paying bills, or borrowing from the library.  The ID would lift a huge financial burden, as undocumented workers are often exploited without access to bank accounts, and even help some parents who would otherwise be unable to pick up their children from school. [Latimes]

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