Immigration policy affects all aspects of society. Regardless of status, immigrants have always played a central role in the life and growth of our nation. Immigrants contribute $10 billion a year to this country's economic growth. Unfortunately, in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks, immigrants in the United States have increasingly been targets of discrimination and suspicion. Our country must be defended, but one must not forget this nation's commitment to the ideals of equality and freedom for all peoples.
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November 20, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Each year, tens of thousands of people enter the United States seeking refuge from poverty, war, political or religious persecution, or human rights abuses. Among the most vulnerable of these immigrants are children who enter the country without a parent.
In 2007, more than 8,000 unaccompanied children were held in U.S. custody, according to the Women's Refuge Commission.
The United States has long made it a priority of immigration policy to reunite families. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ended earlier policies that prioritized immigrants from Europe and replaced them with a system that prioritized family immigration.
However, current immigration enforcement has had devastating effects on families. Once detained, children are held in border patrol stations for weeks, often without blankets, showers or adequate nutrition. Furthermore, children are often forced to navigate through the immigration system alone, with about 50 percent appearing in court without an attorney.
September 29, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
A broad coalition of civil rights organizations is opposing the PASS ID Act, which was introduced in Congress in June in an effort to soften the REAL ID Act, a law that has drawn fierce criticism since it was enacted in 2005.
Under the REAL ID Act, all state-issued driver's licenses must include a set of standardized information, including digitized photographs and signatures. It also mandates the verification of an applicant's immigration status, background checks on documents used to prove identity, and the creation of a large interstate database of license records.
The PASS ID Act was introduced in response to widespread criticism of REAL ID, but its requirements for driver's licenses are largely the same. Civil rights groups argue that PASS ID would continue to violate basic laws of privacy, security, and to discriminate against religious minorities and immigrants.
In addition, nearly half of the states have already refused to comply with REAL ID because of the high cost of implementing its requirements. PASS ID doesn't address this concern, and could ultimately be rejected by states as well.
"This bill should repeal, not fix, the Real ID Act of 2005. The only fix in the Pass ID Act is the name. Congress might hope that the states who voted against implementing the Real ID Act will give them a pass on Pass ID, but that would be ill-advised," Chris Calabrese, counsel to the ACLU Technology and Liberty program, said in a July statement.
September 21, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
According to a recent report in the Des Moines Register, the federal Secure Communities program may not be achieving the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) original objective – to detain violent felons and fugitives.
Sixty-seven percent of those detained under the program in Iowa had no previous criminal offenses, while the number of non-fugitives arrested by the agency nearly doubled over the last three years. ICE announced the Secure Communities program in March of 2008. The plan was designed to help pursue the deportation of immigrants convicted of high-level felonies. The program allows local law enforcement to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and verify the immigration status of arrestees.
Civil rights and immigrants' rights groups are concerned that the program gives local and state authorities license to unfairly target innocent people along ethnic lines without adequately address local communities concerns about violent felons and fugitives. The National Immigration Law Center expressed apprehension (PDF) due to the absence of any requirements for audits and oversight, the inaccuracy of DHS databases, and the lack of redress for those who have been wrongly identified.
Since the program's creation, ICE has not enacted regulations to curb racial profiling or the potential for law enforcement to make arrests solely as a pretext for checking an individual's immigration status.
August 3, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Over the past two decades, the U.S. immigrant detention system has fractured, exposing people to unjustified detainment and frequent violations of their civil and human rights.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently holds more than 30,000 immigrant detainees—nearly five times the number held in 1992. According to "A Broken System," a new report by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the ACLU of Southern California, immigration detention facilities routinely violate detainees' basic rights, including the right to adequate access to mail and telephone, sanitary living conditions, and legal and personal visitation.
July 27, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
In a recent column on BusinessWeek.com, Rob Randhava, LCCR counsel, debates the merits of eliminating birthright citizenship in the U.S. with immigration restrictionist Roy Beck. The 14th Amendment grants U.S. citizenship to all children born in the U.S., which, in most cases, includes American territories like the Virgin Islands, except children of foreign diplomats.
But opponents claim that the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to illegal immigrants, and want to pass a law that would make kids of illegal immigrants not eligible for automatic citizenship. Randhava explains why eliminating birthright citizenship would not help the U.S. deal with illegal immigration:
"The best way to reduce illegal immigration is by addressing both its supply and demand, through realistic enforcement and better legal channels that meet business needs without causing unfair wage competition. Ending birthright citizenship would just change the subject."
June 8, 2009 - Posted by Cathy Montoya
Participants of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign Summit end their three-day conference with a motivational song. June 5, 2009.
Last week, more than 800 activists representing 200 labor, religious, and civil and human rights organizations gathered at Galludet University in Washington, D.C., for three days to launch a national campaign to push Congress to pass immigration reform this year, and commit themselves to building support in their home states. If Congress doesn't pass immigration reform legislation, states and local governments will continue to struggle with immigration.
Activists at the summit focused on creating a cohesive message and grassroots strategy for the campaign. They also met with more than 140 members of Congress and staff and sent 100,000 faxes to Capitol Hill showing support for immigration reform.
Keynote speakers included Cecilia Muñoz, White House director for intergovernmental affairs, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D. Ill., who spoke to attendees about "workable solutions that uphold out nation's values and move us forward together."
June 5, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Department of Labor recently announced that it is suspending harmful Bush administration regulations to the H-2A guestworker program for nine months beginning June 29.
The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to hire foreign workers on temporary work permits to fill agricultural jobs that last 10 months or less. Prior to the Bush regulations, employers had to prove that they tried to hire U.S. workers but were unable to find qualified employees.
The department's decision comes after organizations representing farmworkers filed a lawsuit arguing that Bush's changes to the program, which went into effect on January 17, lowered immigrants' wages and violated federal laws protecting workers' rights. LCCR and other civil rights organizations also urged the department to overturn the Bush regulations.
The department has temporarily reinstated the previous regulations while it develops new ones for the guestworker program. Many labor, immigrant and civil rights organizations are pushing for Congress to pass the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act (AGJobs), which would strengthen the guestworker program by providing more worker protections to foreign-born and domestic workers.
June 4, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Julian Bond, NAACP chairman, testified yesterday in support of the Uniting American Families Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would give gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their foreign-born permanent partners for legal residency in the U.S. The act does not provide any other benefits and all other immigration requirements must be met.
"It is because the NAACP supports the civil rights protections of all people, and is opposed to discrimination based on any criteria, that we support inclusion of the principles inherent in Uniting American Families Act in any comprehensive immigration reform," said Bond.
May 25, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today, LCCR honors the service of soldiers serving in the U.S. military – citizens and immigrants alike.
Legal permanent residents have long served in the U.S. military – and gotten citizenship in return. But loopholes in U.S. immigration policy often hinder legal permanent residents' ability to achieve citizenship even in this case. Approximately 8,000 legal, permanent immigrants join the military each year, and nearly 29,000 foreign-born people currently serve but are not American citizens.
In this video, Rene of Atlanta shares his struggle of obtaining U.S. citizenship despite his years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. While Rene fortunately became a permanent citizen after filming the video, his story represents the great struggle of so many immigrant servicemen and women who continue to experience difficulties with achieving citizenship within our broken immigration system.
May 14, 2009 - Posted by Corrine Yu
A new poll surveying the views of immigrant women who were born in Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries highlights the barriers they face and the challenges they must overcome once settling in the United States.
The women who were surveyed said that the main reason they came to the U.S. was to join family members who were already here. When asked to name the biggest challenge they faced as immigrant women in the U.S., "helping my children achieve success" and "being able to hold my family together" were the top answers – underscoring the importance of family to these women.
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