Catholic Leaders Among Supporters of Immigration Reform

By: Morgan Davis  

Blog Category: Race & Religion

Immigration law reform is at the forefront of many political, legal, racial, and social debates. Supporters and opponents of various immigration reform issues use major platforms to express which side of the debate they are on. A group of Catholic leaders from across the United States received national media attention after they visited Arizona’s border with Mexico on March 31 and April 1, 2014. They are among the supporters of immigrants in the fight for immigration reform. The Catholic leaders are members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration, which supports undocumented immigrants gaining citizenship.  Their visit sparks the discussion, and bridges the gap between race and religion issues, as many of these immigration debates center on different racial and ethnic groups. In their visit to the border they stated their goal was to “highlight the human consequences of a broken immigration system and call upon the U.S. Congress to fix it.” Their concerns are prompted by the number of immigrants that die each year in an attempt to cross the borders into the United States. While their actions are “illegal,” many of the Catholic leaders note the majority of immigrants make this dangerous journey in hopes of finding a better live for their families and more job opportunities. The rising support for immigration reform has especially become more prominent with the increase of Hispanic Catholics over the last twenty years. As the political, social, racial, and religious debate heats up it will interesting to see if supporters of immigration reform will push Congress to take some action.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Sources:

Robert Ortega, Catholic Leaders Push Immigration Overhaul at Border, The Arizona Republic, USAToday.com (April 1, 2014, 4:31 PM), available at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/01/catholic-leaders-push-immigration-reform/7164359/.

Michael Lipka, Catholics, other Christians support immigration reform, but say faith plays small role, Pew Research Center (April 1, 2014), available at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/01/catholics-other-christians-support-immigration-reform-but-say-faith-plays-small-role/.

Immigration Reform: The Corker-Hoeven Amendment

By: Carla Arias

Blog Category: International Law & Race

“The plight of undocumented immigrants in the United States, notably the substantial number of migrants who crossed the border from Mexico, is a major political issue south of the Rio Grande.”[1]

In an attempt to decrease illegal immigration and border disputes, which have plagued the United States for decades, the Obama administration dedicated time and resources to comprehensive immigration reform.[2] In June 2013, the U.S. Senate approved the Corker-Hoeven amendment, which involves a doubling of U.S. border patrol agents to approximately 40,000 agents. Of the 40,000 agents, 38,405 agents are to be stationed in the U.S-Mexico borderlands.[3] Additionally, the amendment entails the use of military-like surveillance in the borderlands, including the use of drones for aerial surveillance.[4] Along with an increase in border patrol agents and military-like surveillance, the amendment calls for fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. [5] Although the amendment will increase safety along the border, it fails to address the root cause of why immigrants leave home and migrate to the United States. As a result, “[t]he passage of the Corker-Hoeven amendment is a stark reminder of the need to put an end to an insatiable boundary and immigration policing, one whose feeding is strongly tied to the state’s ability to provide for true human needs.” [6]

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  


[1] Nick Parker and Jim Acosta, U.S. , Canada, Mexico agree to streamline border controls, CNN (Feb 19, 2014), available at http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/09/politics/us-mexico-canada.

[2] Joseph Nevins, The Impossible, Costly Dream: Border Security, Northern American Congress on Latin America (June 26, 2013), available at http://nacla.org/blog/2013/6/26/impossible-costly-dream-border-security

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

Immigration Reform Now Promising

By: Alicia Emili
Blog Category: Immigration Reform

With more than 11 million individuals living illegally within US borders, it is clear our immigration system is in need of reform.  The US is currently faced with this enormous task and the only way to ensure a proper execution of such expansive reform is for Congress to carefully address each part of the plan before unleashing it.

The highly complex comprehensive set of reforms supported by President Obama focus on strengthening border security, strengthening enforcement, streamlining legal immigration, and creating an earned path to citizenship. Core pieces of the comprehensive bill include things such as: improving infrastructure at ports of entry, improving partnerships with border communities and law enforcement, stepping up surveillance, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, phasing in electronic employment verification, deporting convicted criminals, creating a “startup visa” for entrepreneurs, and launching a Citizenship Resource Center to centralize the information and tools needed for the entire process.  The reform also requires illegal immigrants to pass national security and criminal background checks, learn the English language, and pay taxes with penalties before they can earn their citizenship.

While President Obama originally pushed his set of reform acts through the Senate as a single, comprehensive bill, it does not appear that the bill will survive the House in the same comprehensive form.  President Obama has said that he will now accept a piecemeal version of the plan with the stipulation that the main values remain. The possibility of carving out the simple issues and leaving the complex issues on the back burner is one, he stated, that he will not support.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that immigration reform is “absolutely not” a dead issue, but has not offered a time table for a scheduled vote.  Advocates remain concerned as the passing of an immigration bill in 2014 with midterm elections on the horizon is complicated at best.  However, Boehner insists on addressing the intricacies of the reform one step at a time to ensure that the issues are being dealt with in a calculated manner.  Boehner is encouraged by President Obama’s recent decision to support a piecemeal approach to the reform, especially since the American people have become skeptical of large, comprehensive bills.

Overall, this gives confidence to the American people that the House is making a valiant effort to produce the most efficient reform possible, especially with the financial implications the reform could have on the blight economy.  Executives of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council believe immigration reform will provide “an instant jolt to the U.S. economy,” and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that a reform would increase the revenue of the Unites States by roughly $700 billion within 10 years. With the American people’s best interest in mind, and a strict step-by-step approach to reforming the system, the US appears to be on a bright path to an effective and efficient immigration reform system.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

David Nakamura, Boehner:  Immigration reform ‘absolutely not’ dead in House, Washington Post (Nov. 21, 2013), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/11/21/boehner-immigration-reform-absolutely-not-dead-in-house/.

Obama would accept piecemeal immigration reform, UPI (Nov. 22, 2013), available at http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/11/20/Obama-would-accept-piecemeal-immigration-reform/UPI-43991384929000/.

Immigration, The White House (Nov. 23, 2013), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration.

Different Approaches to Immigration Reform

By: Chantal Jones

Blog Category: Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is one of the most controversial issues between the political parties in the United States. However, I believe both parties can agree that immigration reform is a major issue that needs the cooperation of everyone to be successful. Most people who are serious about fixing the immigration system through legislative reform agree on the basic principles that the United States needs to secure its borders, future immigrants must have legal avenues to enter the country, and that the nation must deal with the status of undocumented individuals who are already here. The methodology of achieving these goals is where the division lies.

There are three different approaches that can be taken when dealing with immigration reform. Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), believes the government should eliminate incentives for illegal immigration. According to Mr. Stein, immigrants come to our country and remain here in large numbers because they believe they will benefit and that there is little chance that our laws will be enforced. Stein believes the first step is to eliminate the biggest draw to illegal immigration – employment. E-Verify, an electronic employment verification system, was created for employers to quickly verify the eligibility of employees to work in the United States. But, this system is voluntary and employers must opt to use it.

Another possible solution is expanding legal immigration. Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, believes that the government should give legal status with condition to illegal immigrants. Giovagnoli argues that increasing our current legal immigration limits and expanding opportunities for those living and working in the United States lawfully would dramatically reduce future illegal immigration.

The third approach offered by Richard Lamm, co-director of University of Denver’s Institute for Public Policy Studies, believes that there must a compromise between the two approaches discussed above. Under Lamm’s approach, illegal immigration would be ended by a bipartisan commission that would certify that the U.S. borders are secure and that an effective employment verification system is in place. Additionally, illegal immigrants who meet predetermined criteria may be granted amnesty (after paying a substantial fine). Lamm also argues that we should be more selective about future immigrants by only admitting immigrants who can contribute skills or productivity to our country.

I think that there is something to be said for all three approaches. Hopefully, all sides can reach a compromise and the result is a more secure and prosperous country.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

Sources:

Rebecca Talent, Immigration Reform: The Politics of the Possible, The Christian Science Monitor (November 1, 2013, 10:25 AM), available at http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Common-Ground/2013/1106/Immigration-reform-the-politics-of-the-possible.

Dan Stein, Mary Giovagnoli, & Richard Lamm, 3 Views on How US Should Combat Illegal Immigration, The Christian Science Monitor (November 1, 2013, 10:33 AM), available at http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/One-Minute-Debate-3-Views/2012/0924/3-views-on-how-US-should-combat-illegal-immigration/Tighten-up-Eliminate-incentives-for-illegal-immigration.-Improve-detection-and-removal.

Immigration Reform: Grassroots Campaigns and 2014

By: Jay Patel

Blog Category: Immigration Reform

When House Speaker, John Boehner, confirmed that the House would not conference with the Senate, the chances of immigration reform in 2013 was meager.[1] As the debate continues into the new year, it remains unclear if grassroots protestors will have an impact on the process. As immigration reform has returned to the national stage, the number of protests and acts of civil disobedience have begun to increase. Indeed a survey of recent newspaper articles on the subject matter reveal a geographically, ethnically and politically diverse group of citizens have engaged in classic tactics that provided the impetus for past reform and became firmly enshrined as a method of achieving that goal.[2]

Protestors favoring immigration reform have engaged in sitdowns, chained themselves outside of a federal building, and blocked roads to spread their message.[3] Some protestors fasted for over a week outside the National Mall. [4] What remains to be seen is whether these grassroots efforts can maintain steam throughout the 2014 mid-term elections. If they can fan the embers through the harsh political chill, immigration reform may become too large to ignore.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  


[1] Seung Min Kim, Boehner dashes hopes of immigration talks, Politico (Nov. 11, 2013), http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/john-boehner-immigration-99797.html

[2] Alex Leary, As momentum for immigration reform dies in Washington, human costs build, (Nov. 16, 2013), http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/as-momentum-for-immigration-reform-dies-in-washington-human-costs-build/2152832;  Jasmine Aguilera, Historically effective civil disobedience is now a tool in the fight for immigration reform, (Nov. 14, 2013), http://borderzine.com/2013/11/historically-effective-civil-disobedience-is-now-a-tool-in-the-fight-for-immigration-reform/.

[3] See Eric Horng, Immigration reform rally blocks South Loop Streets, ABCNews (Nov. 6, 2013), http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?id=9316182; Kip Hill, Immigration Reform Advocates Protest Outside McMorris Rodgers’ Office, The Spokesman-Review (Nov. 13, 2013), http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/nov/13/immigration-reform-advocates-protest-outside-mcmor/; Kate Brumback, Activists lock themselves to gates behind building housing immigration offices in Atlanta, The Republic (Nov. 19,2013), http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/6fffb7212acf4ae69cd2fc76f1658d6d/GA–Immigration-Protest.

[4] Seung Min Kim, House Democrat to join immigration fast, Politico (Nov. 19, 2013), http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/house-democrats-immigration-fast-jan-schakowsky-100094.html.

 

Government Shutdown Standing in the Way of Immigration Reform

By: Joesph Squadroni
Blog Category: Immigration Reform

Advocates of getting a comprehensive immigration reform billed passed in the House of Representatives in 2013 saw their hopes dashed because of the government shutdown.  Prior to the shutdown, reform of the nation’s immigration laws seemed promising with more and more House Republicans advancing pro-reform positions and turning mere rhetoric into action.  That momentum has since died down however, as attention turned toward raising the debt ceiling and ending the shutdown.

Aside from the government shutdown, another issue preventing a reform bill from passing the House is the inclusion of an amnesty provision. Under this provision, current illegal immigrants would be provided a pathway to becoming a citizen—something to which many challengers to immigration reform are diametrically opposed.[1]  Whatever the reasons may be for the delay in getting immigration reform passed, the consequences of not doing so remain the same.  This year is an election year for many members of Congress, and the longer it takes to reform immigration laws, the worse those running for reelection will fare in the eyes of the Latino community—the “fastest growing slice of the electorate.”[2]  On a more human level, an estimated 1,120 undocumented persons are deported from the country each day.[3]  Many of these people have spent the bulk of their lives in this country, raising families here, and would benefit greatly from immigration reform.  Each day this issue goes unresolved is another day they risk deportation.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


[1] Laura Matthews, 2013 Immigration Reform: Another Casualty of Government Shutdown?, International Business Times , (Oct. 9, 2013), http://www.ibtimes.com/2013-immigration-reform-another-casualty-government-shutdown-1421442.

[2] Pili Tobar, By the Numbers: Key Immigration-Related Promises & Consequences, America’s Voice, (Oct. 10, 2013), http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/by-the-numbers-key-immigration-related-promises-consequences/.

[3] Id.

National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect

By: Konstantinos Patsiopoulos
Blog Category: Immigration Reform

On October 5, 2013, over 50,000 people nationwide congregated to advocate for immigration reform.  However, their intended audience, Congress, was likely side-tracked by the higher priority of ending the federal government shutdown.  Nevertheless, that did not stop these advocates from rallying “at more than 150 sites in 40 states” on a day that they designated as “National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect.”  Immigrant groups rallied from Los Angeles to Boston and all the way to Rogers, Arkansas, all carrying the same message, “[w]e don’t want any more deportations.”

In an effort to construct a pathway for immigrants to obtain citizenship, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced a bill that included “a path to citizenship for most of an estimated 11.7 million immigrants in the country illegally.”  However, the bipartisan House failed to attract any Republican support, thus leaving immigration advocates with another hurdle to surmount while continuing on their pathway to citizenship.  Yet, as evidenced by the “Si, se puede” (“Yes, we can”) chants of the Californian advocates, immigrants remain optimistic that a resolution is on the horizon.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Source: 

Julia Preston, Thousand Rally Nationwide in Support of an Immigration Overhaul, New York Times (October 5, 2013), www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/rallies-nationwide-in-support-of-immigration-overhaul.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

Is Immigration Reform Dead?

By: Christopher King
Blog Category: Immigration Reform

The prospect that immigration reform will pass Congress anytime in the near future seems to have dimmed significantly as the House gang of seven immigration plan almost certainly will not be introduced this fall as promised.  Although politically the gang of seven immigration plan is significantly to the right of the Senate immigration bill, it has been largely been viewed as a potential compromise that could conceivably garner votes from a number of congressional Republicans.  The demise of this bipartisan plan appears to be due to the lack of support that the Republicans in the gang of seven have received from House Republican leaders.

While there is a small possibility that immigration reform could find its way onto the House agenda for the fall, House Republican leaders appear unwilling to hold a vote on any legislation that is not supported by a majority of House Republicans, further limiting the possibility of real bipartisan reform.  The more likely outcome is that House Republican leaders will simply let immigration reform die and, once again, fail to address a serious national problem that both sides of the aisle agree needs to be resolved.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

Source:

Greg Sargent, In Blow to Immigration Reform, House ‘Gang of Seven’ Bill Looks Dead, Washington Post (Sept. 11, 2013), http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/09/20/in-blow-to-immigration-reform-house-gang-of-seven-bill-looks-dead.

Obama May Use Executive Power to Expand the DREAM Act: Congress Urges Against It

By: Andrew Schneidman
Blog Category: Immigration Reform

In 2012, President Obama used his executive power to enact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  The DACA program defers the deportation of any undocumented immigrant aged 16 to 31 who was brought the United States as a child, has either graduated from high school or is enrolled in school, and does not have a criminal record.  The controversial program has since been opposed by Arizona, Texas, and Nebraska and challenged in courts as an unconstitutional executive act.

This year, there is a possibility that President Obama will expand the DACA program to include undocumented immigrants of any age, though he has denied he will take such action.  Nevertheless, some members of Congress are concerned about the possibility of executive action and are pressing their Congressional colleagues to swiftly pass a bipartisan immigration reform law to thwart the President’s control of the immigration process.  The members express that any executive action pursuant to immigration reform jeopardizes Congress’s ability to act in good faith to pass a bipartisan immigration reform law.

If the 113th Congress wants to prevent President Obama from taking this immigration matter into his own hands, then it must quickly agree on immigration reform and pass a law.  Given this Congress’s track record, and I say this in the midst of our government’s shutdown, I think it is unlikely that a bipartisan immigration reform law is passed any time soon.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Brad Plumer, Can Obama Legalize 11 Million Immigrants on his Own?, Washington Post, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/22/marco-rubio-says-obama-could-legalize-11-million-immigrants-on-his-own-is-that-right.

Stephen Dinan, Obama Urged Not to Expand Nondeportation Policy for Immigrants, Washington Times, available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/10/obama-urged-not-to-expand-nondeportation-policy-fo.

Fall 2013 Blog Topics

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 The Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race would like to announce our Fall 2013 Blogs

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Our blogs will feature the following four topics:

      1)  Racial Implications of Recent Supreme Court Decisions

2)  Immigration Reform

3)  Race and Healthcare

4)  Minimum Wage and the Economy

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New blog entries will be added every Monday. Thank you for supporting the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race!