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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Pledge to Support Immigration Reform!
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.
May 12, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Hundreds of immigration reform advocates are meeting in Postville, Iowa, today to call attention to the one-year anniversary of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on a Agriprocessors meat packing plant that resulted in the arrest of 389 undocumented workers, mostly from Guatemala and Mexico. Immigrant rights advocates say the raid's anniversary serves as a grim reminder of the need to reform the nation's immigration system.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and other civil rights advocates in the region organized bus trips to Postville for marches, prayer vigils, and other events. Similar events are being held nationwide.
Prior to the raid, Agriprocessors paid their employees well below the minimum wage, illegally garnished their wages for required uniforms, and had a history of workers suffering broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss. After the raid, state authorities ultimately levied millions in fines against the plant for various labor violations.
As a result of the raid, the local economy worsened as Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy, and families were torn apart after many of the workers pled guilty to identity theft charges, facing prison sentences and deportation.
In a recent press statement, National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani said, "Postville will one day be remembered as a dark chapter in U.S. history that served as a catalyst for reforming our nation's immigration system into something we can take pride in again, something that honors our history as a nation of immigrants, and something that helps to renew and strengthen America."
May 6, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Civil rights and labor organizations told Congress last week that immigration reform could happen this year if it takes into account the concerns of all low-wage workers in the legislation.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of LCCR, said that Congress must fix our nation's immigration system now because "it fails to keep up with economic realities, it fails to provide an orderly way to keep track of who is here, it inhumanely splits and keeps families apart, it penalizes children for the actions of their parents, and it is so unfair and so burdensome that it fails to give people enough incentives to play by the rules."
He added that Congress' immigration reform legislation must take into account the needs of low-wage workers, those that are citizens and those that are immigrants, by:
In April, the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win federation, the two largest labor federations in the nation, annouced their own standards for immigration reform, which has a similar focus on low-wage workers "The key to designing a sustainable workplace immigration system is that the flow of future workers must be rationally based on the always-evolving labor market needs of the United States," said Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
April 17, 2009 - Posted by Corrine Yu
Tomorrow is national Citizenship Day, and workshops are being held across the country to help immigrants learn how to become citizens. NALEO Educational Fund will hold 13 workshops in various cities as part of the ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! (It's Time, Citizenship!) campaign, a nonpartisan Latino civic participation effort launched as a response to the pro-immigrant mobilizations of 2006.
The workshops are designed to help legal immigrants learn about naturalization - the process of becoming an American citizen. Immigrants are eligible to apply for citizenship if they are at least 18 years old, have been lawful permanent residents for five years (three if married to a citizen), and meet certain other basic requirements. A naturalized citizen receives the same rights and privileges as a native-born citizen, such as the right to vote.
The campaign is the largest and most comprehensive effort to incorporate Latinos as full participants in the American political process. Latinos comprised nearly half (44 percent) of the 1,046,539 citizens naturalized last year.
April 3, 2009 - Posted by Cathy Montoya
March 23, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Under current law, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses or fiancés for legal residency to the U.S. However, gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot.
There are nearly 40,000 binational, same-sex couples living in the U.S., according to census data. However, the current policy often tears these couples apart once the visa of one expires or forces many couples who do not want to be separated to leave the country.
In addition, many same-sex couples live apart because one partner is not permitted to live in or even travel to the United States.
Since 1965, the priority of U.S. immigration policy has been to make it possible for families to be reunited here in the U.S. 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.
Since 1965, between 50 and 70 percent of the visas that have been given out have gone to family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents.
The Uniting American Families Act, introduced last month in Congress, 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.
Nineteen other countries have passed similar laws already.
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