HEADLINES: Immigration

Last week, “dozens of children gathered in Washington to hand over some 10,000 letters asking members of Congress not to deport their family members as a Christmas gift.”  The Wish for the Holidays campaign formed after Colorlines reported that more than 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported over the past 27 months.  One 12 year old wrote in his letter, “It’s not fair that you Congress members get to see your children every day and I only get to see him every 15 days in jail, if we are lucky to get a ride because it’s very far away, in another country.” Family separation is a major concern for immigration advocates and would be a central issue in any comprehensive immigration reform package.  [Huffington Post]

The Center for American Progress released a report last week entitled, “Legal Violence in the lives of Immigrants.” The report enumerates the ways in which the “physical, economical, emotional, and psychological well-being of immigrants and their native-born family members are harmed by the cumulative effects of enforcement—detentions, deportations, raids, and traffic stops – along with the crippling fear and stigma that result from the enactment of stringent anti-immigrant policies.”  The report goes on to show examples of the crippling fear that immigrants face every day, and how that fear disallows them from accessing basic needs such as police protection, education, and workers’ rights.  Even those with temporary protective status live in fear of deportation.  The report then calls for specific legislative and executive action to allay this legal violence against immigrants, including calling for the passage of the Help Separated Families Act and the DREAM Act. [Huffiington Post]

With the 112th Congress quickly coming to a close, Senate Democrats warn that if House Republicans bring their version of VAWA to the floor, they will not pass it.  A reauthorization of the act was passed by the Senate earlier this year, including new protections for gays, Native Americans, immigrants and students, but has been stuck in the House.  The House’s bill would not include any of these further protections.  The twelve Democratic women Senators “sent a letter Tuesday to Republican women in the House requesting their help in getting the House to pass the Senate’s expanded version of the domestic violence law, which passed in April with the support of fifteen Republicans.”  The women wrote that “saving the lives of women is and should be above politics, and every one of us without regard to party should cast a vote for the safety of all women.” [NYTimes]

The majority leaders of the House have chosen a vocal opponent of comprehensive immigration reform to head the chamber’s immigration subcommittee.  The incoming House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia announced that Freshman South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy will head the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in the upcoming Congressional session.  Immigration activists worry that this appointment is indicative of an unwillingness of the GOP to back comprehensive immigration reform.  Frank Sharry, director of America’s Voice, said “Gowdy’s appointment will make it harder for Republicans who want to restore the party’s standing with Hispanic voters.”  Many, however, are still hopeful that bipartisan support will be able to push immigration reform through Congress soon. [USAtoday]

Though the Colorado Compact is not binding, signees of the document hope that it will provide an example to the federal government for the possibility of bipartisan immigration reform.  The document has been signed by more than 100 officials and community leaders, including Senator Michael Bennet, one of the Gang of 8 Senators informally working towards proposing immigration reform legislation.  The compact calls for a “more rational and collaborative approach to immigration policy,” through six broad principles including family unity, taxation, navigability for businesses, and border security.  Regarding the compact, Sen. Bennet said, “while we may not all agree on the policy nuances of reform – in fact, I know we don’t – we know that the status quo is unacceptable and that civil discussion is that will lead to real and lasting reform.”  [ColoradoStatesman]

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