Here it is, your immigration news from Monday, December 7 to Monday, December 14!
Very exciting news! Tomorrow, Representative Luis Gutierrez (IL) will introduce his progressive comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). In a press statement released today, Representative Gutierrez said: "We have waited patiently for a workable solution to our immigration crisis to be taken up by this Congress and our President. The time for waiting is over. This bill will be presented before Congress recesses for the holidays so that there is no excuse for inaction in the New Year. It is the product of months of collaboration with civil rights advocates, labor organizations, and members of Congress. It is an answer to too many years of pain —mothers separated from their children, workers exploited and undermined security at the border— all caused at the hands of a broken immigration system. This bill says 'enough,' and presents a solution to our broken system that we as a nation of immigrants can be proud of." FCNL congratulates Representative Gutierrez on his bill and looks forward to working with him and other members of Congress toward humane and fair comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. Read this op-ed to learn why immigration reform is the "right stuff."
The introduction of Representative Gutierrez's bill comes at an important time, on the heels of a major raid in California that serves as a reminder of the urgent need for immigration reform. Nearly 300 immigrants were detained in this three-day raid and at least 100 have already been removed from the country. Meanwhile, advocates in New Jersey have been working tirelessly to keep Indonesian Christians in their community out of detention and state employees in Arizona are struggling to provide public services under new state requirements to report undocumented immigrants to ICE.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding an important hearing on December 16, "The Law of the Land: U.S. Implementation of Human Rights Treaties." This hearing, the first of its kind, will examine how the United States can fulfill its international obligations under human rights law. FCNL has submitted a statement for the record about our concerns regarding arbitrary and indefinite detention as well as the need for due process protections for detained immigrants.
An op-ed in the New York Times calls for "Coverage Without Borders," addressing the issue of access to health care for immigrants in the United States. A key quote: "It certainly does not help Americans as a whole to remain healthy when millions of people, including schoolchildren, cannot get basic preventive care like immunizations and medications." The Senate is expected to finish debating the health care bill by the end of the month and - hopefully - the final version of the bill will remove the 5-year bar on Medicaid for green card holders.
Undocumented students are speaking out in unison about the need for immigration reform. In this remarkable story, students who may risk deportation by identifying themselves are coming out en masse in support of the DREAM Act, a bill that would put eligible undocumented students on a fast track to legal status and eventual citizenship. Carlos Roa, from Venezuela, says: “The undocumented youth are losing our fear of being undocumented. I’m public with this. I’m not hiding anymore.”
Why do we need comprehensive immigration reform in a recession? Well, the Boston Globe says, more immigrants are leaping into business ownership now than ever. Immigrant-owned businesses create millions of jobs in the United States each year. Check out FCNL's new document, "Immigration Reform is Key to Economic Recovery," for more information.
I'll leave you with an incredible story by the Washington Post on how second-generation immigrants struggle to find their footing in communities in which they are only partially integrated. Another Washington Post article points out that the children of undocumented immigrants are twice as likely as others to live in poverty. Comprehensive immigration reform would permit families, such as those featured in this article, to fully integrate into the community and contribute more robustly to the U.S. economy.