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Home | Tag Archives: daca

Tag Archives: daca

Bishop Seitz Visits Washington Monday to Advocate for Immigration Reform

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the deadline originally set by the Trump administration for Congress to extend protections for Dreamers into law, the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, will advocate for immigration reform in Washington DC.

In visits to federal lawmakers and during a congressional policy briefing together with immigration advocates from El Paso, the Bishop will make the case for the need for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Via a news release from the Diocese of El Paso, officials add, “Bishop Seitz will also lift up the human and moral impacts of increased border enforcement, including the detention of asylum seekers and family separation.”

Although federal courts have ordered the government to continue processing DACA renewal applications, hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible youth who did not or could not apply before the Trump administration terminated the program will soon be in jeopardy.

Speaking on the need for a permanent legislative solution, Bishop Seitz said, “God’s dream is for every child and every family to enjoy safety and security. In my ministry as a bishop on the border, I have seen how the aspirations and hard work of Dreamers have renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream and the hope of a reform that keeps families together and protects the vulnerable who seek refuge at the border.”

The policy briefing, Sealing the Border: The Border Wall, the Militarization of Border Communities and the Criminalization of Asylum Seekers in the Trump Era, is sponsored by the Hope Border Institute (HOPE) and the Center for Migration Studies.  The briefing builds on HOPE’s latest report on the treatment of asylum seekers at the border, Sealing the Border.

Commenting on the upcoming briefing, Dylan Corbett, executive director of HOPE, said, “Bishop Seitz takes the Gospel mandate to be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable seriously.  We continue to be inspired by his vision that border communities can lead the way in building a more just society and in getting the job done on immigration reform.”

Video: Senator Cornyn Votes For ‘Secure and Succeed Act’

WASHINGTON –  On Thursday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) voted for the Secure and Succeed Act, a proposed solution for DACA recipients that provides a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young adults and strengthens border security.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks from the Senate floor just before the vote are below, and video of his remarks can be found above.

“It is a good starting point because it could actually be signed into law and solve the challenge we promised to address.”

“It would provide them a predictable and productive future. I’m glad to be a cosponsor of this legislation which is called the Secure and Succeed Act. It does… provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million people who are DACA eligible.”

“Just as importantly, this bill provides a real plan to strengthen border security, utilizing more boots on the ground, better technology, and additional infrastructure, and enhance and modernize our ports of entry.”

“On Tuesday the Majority Leader tried twice to open the debate and start voting, but both times there were objections heard by our Democratic colleagues. This despite their repeated promises over the years to address the DACA issue once and for all.”

“I believe sincerely that Republicans and Democrats alike both want to provide certainty to these DACA recipients, but we’ve got to address the underlying problems with our border security and our flawed immigration system as well.”

“We know the clock is ticking.”

“We don’t hold children responsible for their parents’ mistakes, and that’s why we should embrace this proposal.”

“There are about 124,000 DACA recipients in my state of Texas, and I will proudly cast a vote soon to ensure that they stay here and contribute to our schools, our churches, and our communities. We are a nation of immigrants.”

**

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

 

Op-Ed: Jose Rodriguez – Fix DREAMER Issue, Then Get On With The Rest

A recent Golden Girls rerun featured a 10-year-old Mario Lopez playing Mario, a star pupil of Dorothy (Bea Arthur), who writes an award-winning essay about being an American, only to be deported by INS (now known as ICE).

The 1987 episode ends with Dorothy vowing to bring him back. Thirty years later, we’re still fighting for Mario and all the other DREAMers raised in the United States, taught in American schools, and in every way American except in their immigration documentation. It has been more than 15 years since U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to give DREAMers permanent residency. It’s 2018, and Congress still hasn’t passed the DREAM Act or anything resembling comprehensive immigration reform.

Instead, we have seen increasingly punitive measures, more “boots on the ground,” curtailing Constitutional rights, ending the longstanding immigration pillar of keeping families united, and walls along the southern border, in many cases requiring private property seizures. In 1996, Congress passed anti-immigrant measures that removed benefits, enhanced penalties, and mandated local data-sharing with federal enforcement agencies. Since 2001, the Border Patrol has doubled in size, and federal “border security” spending is more than all other principal federal law enforcement. Border fences in major urban areas force immigrants onto treacherous desert lands, resulting in thousands of deaths and damage to private property. Not even record-high deportations by President Obama appeased border security-only zealots.

Finally, absent meaningful, positive Congressional action, President Obama implemented DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It provides relief to recipients and their families, and benefits to their communities. They are, after all, friends and neighbors, workers, small business owners, students – in short, contributors to our country.

The Perryman Group recently studied this. Total benefits nationwide of DREAMers, considering multiplier effects, are estimated at $188.6 billion in output and $117.3 billion in income annually, with nearly 2.1 million jobs. The direct economic gains from Texas DREAMers are estimated at $11.5 billion in output and $7.2 billion in income each year; in total, they help generate $25.8 billion in annual output and 324,000 jobs. A CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans believe DREAMers should remain in the U.S. if, for example,  they are working or going to school.

Despite their economic contributions and overwhelming public support, the Trump administration – under pressure from anti-immigrant zealots and extremist politicians – stripped DREAMers of their protections under DACA. In fact, Texas’ Attorney General has threatened a lawsuit to remove DREAMERs from the country. Trump flip-flopped and created the crisis for DREAMers, who now face a return to the days where achievements, like winning a writing contest, places them at risk.

Ultimately, we need comprehensive immigration reform — sensible public policy that acknowledges the realities of undocumented immigration, the injustices of punitive laws, and the benefits of immigration. Thoughtful reform makes our country safer and more competitive.

Those larger fixes can come later, with due deliberation. Immediately, before Feb. 8, when Congress must pass a bill to maintain government operations, we must fix the crisis created by Trump’s erratic actions, and allow DREAMers to stay in the only home they know.

***

Sen. Jose Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes both urban and rural constituencies and more than 350 miles of U.S.-Mexico border

Cornyn Discusses Tax Reform, 2018 Agenda Ahead of Camp David Retreat on Fox

WASHINGTON – On Friday U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) appeared on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom to discuss the Senate’s legislative accomplishments in 2017, a path forward on the solution for DACA recipients, and the 2018 legislative agenda.

Excerpts from his appearance are below, and video can be found here.

On a Solution for DACA Recipients:

“I agree with Kevin McCarthy that there is a deal to be had here. What we need is to restore a legal immigration system and enforcement. Our country has been really made great by the two great pillars of our immigration system. One is legal immigration, and the second is the rule of law. We’ve unfortunately simply sacrificed the rule of law and order in recent years and President Trump, to his credit, is trying to restore it.”

“The President said yesterday at our meeting that we needed to have a bipartisan meeting… to begin to compare proposals and to try to meet in the middle somewhere.”

“But the President has also made clear he wants to deal with chain migration and he wants to deal with the diversity lottery visa. Those are things that he has insisted upon. He’s got the right to insist upon them, and if Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin want a deal, they’ll have to address that along with the border security component which I’ve been a primary advocate for.”

On the Senate’s Legislative Accomplishments in 2017:

“Coming on the heels of a historic tax bill, which leaves more money in people’s take-home pay, I think people will begin to see that in February, along with the incredible confidence that people now have in our economy as evidenced by not only the stock market but consumer confidence generally. I think the regulatory rollback of the Trump administration after the overreach of the previous eight years, together with things like tax relief and getting good judges confirmed like Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court of the United States all up and down the judiciary, I think we’ve got a good record to run on in 2018.”

On the Senate’s Legislative Agenda for 2018:

“Obviously the biggest challenge we have is now in the Senate, we have 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. There is no way of getting things done this year without bipartisan support. But I think there are clearly some areas where we can work together.”

Video – Cornyn: GOP Offers DACA Solution, Democrats Threaten Shutdown

On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) urged his Democrat colleagues to return to working with Republicans toward a solution for DACA recipients ahead of the President’s March 2018 deadline.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found above.

“Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee offered an initial proposal which our Democratic colleagues rejected out of hand.”

“By threatening to shut down the government, they are jeopardizing the future fate of those DACA recipients.” 

“It’s not just my way or the highway. We’re going to have to come up with a negotiated outcome that demonstrates our compassion for these young adults who came here as children, through no fault of their own, and now find themselves trapped.”

“We all want a legislative solution, and we can find one as long as we quit the game-playing and the stunts and we sit down and negotiate seriously to try to come up with an avenue of relief- one borne by typical American compassion for these young people who find themselves at a dead end, and those who believe that we need to get to the underlying causes that caused them to be in this situation in the first place.”

“That’s a lack of appropriate border security and enforcement of our immigration laws. We can do this if we quit grandstanding and quit engaging in these sorts of stunts, and I hope we will.” 

 

Texas DACA Recipients Face Narrowing Window After Talks with Trump Fall Apart

The decision by two of the country’s top Democrats to pull out of a Tuesday meeting at the White House doesn’t signal the death knell for legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, lawmakers and policy analysts say.

But each day without a legislative fix means there are hundreds more undocumented immigrants who could be at risk of removal from the United States, they add – even if lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eventually able to send a compromise bill to the president.

“It’s sending a very worrisome message to our communities about how serious are people in Washington to really provide a remedy,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights. “We were expecting a remedy or a solution by December and it doesn’t look promising that that will happen.”

On Tuesday U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — their respective chambers’ minority leaders — declined to attend a scheduled meeting at the White House after Trump took to Twitter to decry the duo as soft on illegal immigration, weak on crime and in favor of more taxes. “I don’t see a deal!” he tweeted.

Meeting topics were to include tax reform, federal spending and a possible legislative solution to protect young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, from deportation. Democrats had hoped to tie the immigration legislation to spending bills Congress is currently considering instead of voting on a stand-alone measure likely to get bogged down in partisan gridlock.

The lawmakers’ inability to even discuss the issue with the president has some advocates fearful of the path forward for nearly 800,000 recipients of 2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That program granted qualified applicants, including about 124,000 Texans, a work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings. Trump announced in October that the program would end in March.

“We’re frustrated by both parties — by Republicans for not taking this issue seriously and by Democrats for not being forceful enough and supporting an issue that should be easy for them,” Garcia said.

But Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a Washington-based immigrant advocacy group the promotes immigration reform, said it’s wise to avoid over-analyzing what he called political chest-thumping.

“I think what happened [Tuesday] was a lot of your usual D.C. political posturing, with a subtle touch of a presidential tweet,” he said. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “know they can’t pass a budget without the votes of Democrats, much less a number of moderate Republicans. And both [groups] have called for the inclusion of a Dreamer fix in the budget.”

Even though Trump was propelled into office partly on his hardline stance on immigration, Noorani said the president could be the first leader in decades to move the needle on the issue.

“Trump has an opportunity to do something that neither Obama or [George W.] Bush could do, and that’s pass legislation that addresses some part of the immigration system in a constructive way” he said. “That opportunity is still there.”

Noorani agreed the clock is ticking, though. The National Immigration Forum said earlier this month that any legislation passed through Congress would take about seven months to implement; the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and other federal agencies would need time to craft rules, conduct background checks and vet potential applicants. That means that after March 5 — the date Trump has said the deferred action program will end — nearly 1,000 Dreamers will lose their protection from deportation every day until a new program is in place.

“There’s an assumption on the part of policymakers that they pass a law and all of a sudden, by magic, the program is implemented,” Noorani said.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Tuesday that whatever the timeline is, any proposal set forth should include border security measures. He also praised Trump for tasking lawmakers with coming up with a fix instead of doing it on his own, and said he had personally told U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., he was ready to negotiate. Durbin is the author of the DREAM Act, a measure he’s championed since 2001 that would provide legal residency and an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented youth.

“We could do it before the end of the year, we could do it after the first of the year. We know that March is an important timeframe when the benefits of the DACA begin to go away, and so I think there’s a great opportunity for us,” Cornyn said. “I think it deserves its own consideration together with some enforcement and border security measures and I think that’s a good solution to the problem.”

But Garcia fears waiting until next year means more undocumented immigrants will wear a target on their backs.

“When a Dreamer is with no status they are not only in limbo but they are going to be subject to deportation,” he said. “The worst thing is that the federal government has their names and contact information. So we don’t trust the administration.”

Claire Allbright contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Non-starter. Dead on arrival. That’s how Democrats and Dreamers are describing a list of immigration policies the White House released. [Full story]
  • U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, has asked the Trump administration to clarify whether beneficiaries of an Obama-era immigration program should expect to be detained by Border Patrol officials even if they have current permits. [Full story]

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

EPCC Student Government Association Hosting ‘Know Your Rights’ Forum

The Student Government Association (SGA) of El Paso Community College (EPCC) will host a “Know Your Rights” educational forum for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Senate Bill 4 (SB4).

“SGA believes everyone deserves access to education regardless of their immigration status,” Andrea Porras Portillo, EPCC SGA President said.

Everyone, regardless of their background, are invited to learn about key issues regarding immigration. The event is free, open to the public and set for November 3, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the EPCC Valle Verde Campus Cafeteria Annex at 919 Hunter Drive.

EPCC SGA partnered with Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, the Border Network for Human Rights and Soñando Juntos to facilitate the forum and educate the college community.

EPCC Government Professor, Dr. Amber Archuleta-Lucero will speak at the event individuals can learn about the details of SB4 and what the repeal of DACA would look like. Individuals without an immigrant background are encouraged to attend to learn how to become an ally.

SB4 was a law passed in the 85th session of the Texas legislature. The law was signed by Governor Greg Abbott, but did not come into effect on September 1st as expected due to a temporary block by a federal judge.

The Trump Administration has threatened to repeal the DACA program, which can affect the livelihood of DACA recipients within the college.

Trump Ending Immigration Program that has Impacted more than 120,000 in Texas

The Trump Administration made it official Tuesday: It will end an Obama-era program that has granted relief from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that the administration will phase out the initiative — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program — over six months.

Started in 2012, the program has awarded more than 800,000 recipients — including more than 120,000 Texans — a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings. It applies to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger as of June 2012.

During a conference call Tuesday morning with reporters, James McCament , the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that any initial requests or requests for DACA renewals and accompanying work permits that had already been received before Tuesday would be “adjudicated on a case-by-case” basis.”

He added that any DACA recipient whose benefits will expire before March 5 will be allowed to apply for a renewal by Oct. 5.

In a statement released before Sessions’ announcement, Acting Department of Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke said the agency would no longer accept new applications and added the administration’s action was intended to prompt Congress to pass an immigration solution.

“With the measures the Department is putting in place today, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018, nearly six months from now, so Congress can have time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions,” she said. “However, I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott reiterated that he’s always believed the issue should be handled by Congress, not the president. Speaking with reporters in Austin, Abbott declined to offer any specific guidance for Congress now that lawmakers have six months to act.

“I expect Congress to address it,” Abbott said, calling it a “multifaceted challenge and issue” for legislators. “They want to tackle the issue. I think latitude needs to be given to Congress to tackle the issue.”

Asked how DACA recipients in Texas should prepare for the program’s end, Abbott said that’s up to the federal government.

Rumors had swirled since last month that President Donald Trump was leaning toward eliminating the program after he promised to do so while campaigning for president. His decision sparked immediate outrage from immigrants rights groups and their supporters.

“This spiteful executive action runs counter to what has made America and Texas great,” said Ann Beeson, the executive director of the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities. “While the Trump Administration will use the six month delay to point the finger at Congress, make no mistake that it is the President who is dashing the hopes and dreams of young people protected by the DACA program. Ending the DACA program is contrary to Texas values and bad for the Texas economy.”

This summer, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the U.S. Department of Justice to end the program, claiming it was an unlawful overreach by former President Barack Obama. Paxton and nine other state attorneys general wrote in a June 29 letter to Sessions that should the program stay intact, they would amend a 2014 lawsuit filed in Brownsville to include a challenge to DACA.

The 2014 lawsuit was filed in response to a separate Obama administration initiative, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, that would have expanded the eligible population of the DACA program and lengthened work permits to three years. That program was never implemented after the state of Texas sued the Obama Administration and successfully convinced a district judge and an appellate court that Obama overstepped his executive authority. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court split on the matter, upholding the appellate court’s decision.

In a statement Tuesday, Paxton applauded Trump’s announcement.

“As the Texas-led coalition explained in our June letter, the Obama-era program went far beyond the executive branch’s legitimate authority,” Paxton said. “Had former President Obama’s unilateral order on DACA been left intact, it would have set a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to bypass Congress and change immigration laws.”

The issue has prompted lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to file legislation to maintain the program in some form, including the bipartisan BRIDGE Act in the U.S. Senate that would extend protections for certain undocumented immigrants for three years. Economists have also cited DACA’s benefits to the economy as a reason it should remain intact. Even Trump has stated before that deciding to end the program would be “very, very hard.”

But immigration hardliners argue that despite the “deferred action” title, the program is nothing more than amnesty for people who have violated the country’s laws – no matter how old they were when they first entered the U.S.

Jackie Watson, an Austin-based immigration attorney who represented some of DACA’s earliest Texas-based applicants, said last month that attorneys are already discussing what, if any, legal action they could take should the program be axed — and whether rescinding it might “light a fire under Congress to make DACA a permanent statute.”

But she also said all of those options would be uphill battles. “It will be a total Hail Mary,” she said.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Protesters were arrested near the state Capitol on Wednesday in a demonstration designed to challenge the state’s position on an Obama-era immigration program and test Travis County’s immigration policy. [Full story]
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and officials from nine other states on Thursday urged the Trump administration to end a program that’s allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to work in the country without fear of being deported. [Full story]

Author: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Local, State, National Leaders Speak Out on President Trump’s Decision to End DACA

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) first implemented by President Obama in 2012.

Below is the President’s statement, as provided by the White House.

President Donald J. Trump Restores Responsibility and the Rule of Law to Immigration

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws.” – President Donald J. Trump

RESPONSIBLY ENDING UNLAWFUL IMMIGRATION POLICY: Today, the Trump Administration is rescinding the previous Administration’s memorandum creating the unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and has begun to end the program responsibly.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security explaining that DACA was not statutorily authorized and was therefore an unconstitutional exercise of discretion by the executive branch.
    • Attorney General Sessions found that DACA, given pending litigation, would likely face the same outcome as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which was enjoined by the courts.
  • The Trump Administration is taking responsible action to wind down DACA in an orderly and minimally disruptive manner.
    • If President Trump allowed DACA to go to court, it is likely that the court would abruptly enjoin the program.
      • If President Trump had refused to act, many States were prepared to pursue litigation to end DACA by court order.
    • Under the change announced today, current DACA recipients generally will not be impacted until after March 5, 2018, six months from now. That period of time gives Congress the opportunity to consider appropriate legislative solutions.
  • DHS’s enforcement priorities remain in place. However, absent a law enforcement interest—which is largely the standard that has been in place since the inception of the program—the Department will generally not take actions to remove active DACA recipients.
    • DACA recipients range from ages 15 to 36, with the overwhelming majority being of adult age.
  • Initial requests for Employment Authorization Documents under DACA properly filed and accepted through today will be processed.
    • Additional DACA initial applications filed after today will not be accepted.
  • Renewal applications for DACA Employment Authorization Documents properly filed and accepted by October 5, 2017, for people whose current Employment Authorization Documents expire between today and March 5, 2018, will be processed.
    • Any such requests filed after October 5, 2017 will not be accepted.
  • Currently approved applications for advance parole for DACA recipients will generally be honored, but new applications will not be approved.
    • All pending applications for advance parole by DACA recipients will be closed and associated fees will be refunded.

RESTORING LAW AND ORDER TO OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: The DACA program was never intended to be permanent—even President Obama admitted it was a temporary, extraordinary measure. And President Obama repeatedly recognized that such unilateral actions were in excess of the Executive’s appropriate role.

  • President Obama admitted publicly on at least a 22 occasions that creating a DACA-like program was beyond his authority. President Obama said:
    • In 2011, that “there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through Executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.”
    • In 2010, that providing people in America illegally with legal status and ignoring the laws on the books “would be both unwise and unfair.”
  • President Obama admitted in 2012 that DACA, implemented in an election year, was “a temporary stopgap measure.”
  • Partly because of DACA, the United States saw a surge in illegal immigration by minors in 2013-2014, because they hoped to take advantage of the program.
    • President Obama knew this would be a problem, admitting in 2010 that a DACA-like policy “could lead to a surge in illegal immigration.”
  • President Trump refuses to allow criminal activity to dominate our immigration system, taking action to restore the law and protect all Americans.
    • One of President Trump’s first Executive orders informed sanctuary jurisdictions that failure to fully abide by Federal immigration laws would jeopardize access to certain Federal grant money.
      • As a result, Miami-Dade County reversed its years-long sanctuary policy.
    • The DOJ issued new charging guidelines in April to bring to an end the previous Administration’s catch-and-release policies by prioritizing criminal immigration enforcement.
    • Since President Trump’s inauguration, illegal immigration on the southwest border is down by 47 percent compared to the same period last year.
    • Illegal alien removals resulting from to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have increased by over 32 percent.
    • So far in Fiscal Year 2017, ICE has arrested at least 3,641 criminal gang members compared to 2,057 criminal gang members in all of Fiscal Year 2016.

REFORMING IMMIGRATION TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN: DACA made it impossible for President Trump to pursue the reforms needed to restore fairness to our immigration system and protect American workers.

  • President Trump’s highest obligation is to uphold the laws of the United States. So long as the unlawful policies of the previous Administration remain—especially those that incentivize further illegal immigration—there is no realistic chance of achieving principled pro-worker immigration reform. His priorities include:
    • Controlling the Border: President Trump intends to secure the southwest border with a border wall and a robust law enforcement presence on the border.
    • Improving Vetting and Immigration Security: Our immigration system, including our asylum and refugee system, make the United States potentially exposed to terrorist and public safety threats. We need to improve vetting and set limits that allow for proper vetting.
    • Enforcing Our Laws: President Trump supports the swift removal of those who illegally enter the United States or violate the conditions of their visas.
    • Protecting Our Workers: President Trump is working to encourage companies to raise wages and recruit American workers. This means stopping the practice of hiring illegal workers who unlawfully deprive American workers of jobs and higher wages.
    • Establishing a Merit-Based System for Entry: President Trump supports efforts to prioritize immigrants based on skills and thereby prevent the displacement of American workers.

***

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) Tuesday released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced their intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program put in place by the Obama Administration:

“This policy, while well-intentioned, was implemented without the approval of Congress by a President who exceeded his authority under the Constitution. This President now has the chance to work with Congress towards finding a solution to this issue where his predecessor failed. These children who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own continue to make positive contributions to Texas and the nation, and it’s important for us to achieve a long-term resolution.”

***

A Betrayal of Leadership: HOPE & Border Bishops Respond to Trump’s Rollback of Protections for Dreamers

HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE, BISHOP OSCAR CANTU, DIOCESE OF LAS CRUCES, BISHOP MARK J. SEITZ, DIOCESE OF EL PASO

Jesus taught that law should be at the service of human beings and communities (Mk. 2:27). Jesus showed that leadership is about transcending petty divides, defending the vulnerable, and guaranteeing human dignity.

The devastating news that the Trump administration has rolled back basic protections from deportation for young immigrants is a betrayal of the law’s greater purpose, a betrayal of leadership’s duty to protect the innocent, and a betrayal of the compassion the President Trump promised Dreamers. 

Our border communities know the contributions, hopes and character of our Dreamers, forged in a climate of endless anxiety, uncertainty and political turmoil. Nearly one million strong across the country, Dreamers are leaders in our parishes, graduates from our schools, veterans of our armed services, and first responders who have provided brave service in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Even in the absence of political leadership, we know their dreams will not be extinguished. Dreams can soar higher than the pharisaical abuse of the law and political brinksmanship. In the dedication of our Dreamers to our highest American ideals and in the coming together of our country behind them, we see the seeds of renewal in our country and the renewed possibility of immigration reform. The fate of Dreamers once again falls to Congress, who rather than pitting us against each other, must work to promote the good of all.

In the meantime, with the strength of Jesus’ “no” to those who would use the law to lay unfair burdens on the innocent, we will continue to say “no” to deportation, family separation and the militarization of our communities. While we wait on reform, we call for an immediate moratorium on the deportation and detention of those who would pose no danger to our communities. 

And let us all continue to say “yes” to a country that nurtures the hopes and aspirations of its young people. “Yes” to laws that correspond to our human and family values. “Yes” to those who soar high on the strength of their dreams.

***

Sen. Rodríguez: Trump fails on promise to treat DREAMers “with a heart”

Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement following the president’s decision, announced this morning, to discontinue President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months:

DREAMers are part of the American future. These young people are Americans in every meaningful way, and this un-American action by the president works to deprive them of their dreams.

This is no surprise, unfortunately. This president is a bully who kicked-off his campaign by calling immigrants rapists and pledged to build a border wall. He undermined the rule of law and the judiciary by criticizing the integrity of Judge Curiel, simply because of his Mexican heritage. He began his presidency by imposing an unconstitutional, discriminatory travel ban. Most recently, he pardoned the racist actions of Sheriff Arpaio. He has no respect for the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. He is failing as president, and as he did during the campaign, when he is in trouble, he looks for a scapegoat. While he has many, his main target, over and over, has been immigrants.

Typical of bullies, he is passing the buck. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that Congress do its job and pass comprehensive legislation that will protect these young Americans from deportation and provide them with a legal pathway to citizenship. DREAMers, more than 124,000 in Texas who by one estimate produce $6 billion in annual economic output, are students, teachers, doctors, workers, and small business professionals, who are integral to our communities and provide tremendous benefits to our economy. They are not bargaining chips for a border wall.

***

Senate Democratic Caucus statement on shameful DACA decision

Austin – Tuesday, President Trump went back on his word and discontinued President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Senate Democratic Caucus’ statement is as follows:

Since its inception five years ago, DACA has helped nearly 800,000 young people, many in Texas, come out of the shadows. These DREAMers are successful students and professionals who are contributing members of society. They have proven their allegiance to this country, which is the only home they know.

To take that away is not only cruel and morally repugnant, it is shortsighted and works against America’s future success.

We stand with these DREAMers and their families, and against the anti-immigrant hardliners, many of whom are driven by fear of change. 

Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for those already here, and we must stop scapegoating immigrants, whether because of national origin, religion, or any other reason.

Congress can start by finally passing the DREAM Act, which has bipartisan support. The vast majority of Americans support allowing DREAMERs to stay, but the president is playing to his political base rather than ensuring the best possible future for our country.

It is up to responsible leaders in both parties to reject this divisive, politically-driven action and seek common ground. Passing the DREAM Act would be a great first step. 

***

U.S. Representative Will Hurd Statement on DACA

U.S. Representative Will Hurd released the following statement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

“There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. Congress must provide a permanent, legislative solution for children brought here through no fault of their own.  We should create immigration policies that strengthen our economy and keep Americans safe, which is why I look forward to working with my colleagues to make a permanent, legislative solution that allows people who have only known America as their home, to stay and continue contributing to our Nation’s culture, economy and history.”

***

Former President Barack Obama via Facebook

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

***

EPISD Board of Trustees and Administration in February adopted a resolution declaring its schools as safe environments to help students learn and succeed.  Superintendent Juan Cabrera on Tuesday reaffirmed the District’s commitment to all of it students.

“It is not the responsibility or within the authority of school districts to enforce immigration law. It is our duty and obligation to educate all children who come through our doors. Today’s announcement will not detract us from our mission to protect the rights of our students to receive a quality education in a safe environment. We want to encourage students to continue coming to school. While we will always comply with the law, our priority will always be to help every child thrive and reach his or her greatest potential. Every child that is in our classrooms is part of the EPISD family and we will care for each and every child as our own.”

***

A message from UTEP President Diana Natalicio to our DACA students (from Facebook)

“I join your UTEP family in expressing support for you and the achievement of your educational aspirations. We understand and very much regret that, with every breaking news story or rumor, the visa uncertainties that surround you gain new intensity and cause enormous stress and apprehension for you and your loved ones.

“What we want to be sure you know is that UTEP stands fully behind you and your dreams of a successful future through the attainment of your UTEP degree. Please know, too, that we will do all within our power to ensure that you have the opportunity to achieve your educational goals on our campus.

“I trust that you know about the support services that are available to you at UTEP, and that you won’t hesitate to reach out to them. Dean of Students, Dr. Catie McCorry-Andalis (cmandalis@utep.edu or 747-5648), is prepared to provide you with additional information about these services and any other support that you may need.

“Your abundant talents, high aspirations and diligence have enabled you to become successful UTEP students and esteemed members of our UTEP family. We look very much forward to our opportunity to celebrate with each and every one of you when you cross the Don Haskins Center stage to receive the UTEP degree that you will earn through your hard work and determination to succeed.

“With our most heartfelt good wishes……Go Miners!”

***

Statement from President Bill Clinton (via Facebook)

DACA has brought hundreds of thousands of young people out of the shadows – allowing them to live without fear, go to school, work, and contribute to America in countless other ways. These young people’s dreams are part of the American Dream. And they make it more real for all of us. Today’s decision by the White House to terminate DACA – and that is effectively what it attempts to do – will crush their dreams and weaken the American Dream for the rest of us.

It’s wrong because it’s bad policy that solves no pressing problem and raises new ones. It’s wrong because it’s irresponsible, passing the buck instead of offering sensible solutions for immigration reform. Most of all, it’s wrong because it’s cruel to send these young people to places many of them have never lived and do not know. For them this is home. The United States is their home.

Instead of punishing them, we should find ways to openly embrace them and to empower them to make their own contributions, as previous generations of immigrants have done.

Congress should act immediately to protect their status and pave the way for their future and America’s future.

Immigrants Left in Limbo After Obama-Era Program Rescinded

DALLAS – A decision by the Trump Administration last week is keeping hope alive for immigrants brought to Texas and the rest of the U.S. as children. But the news isn’t as good for their parents.

The Department of Homeland Security said it has rescinded the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, but is keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – at least for now. This means about 750,000 young people, often known as Dreamers, will not be targeted for deportation – but many of their parents are now at risk.

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, said he predicts these decisions will divide families.

“I would have expected an administration that believes in family to accompany this announcement with some acknowledgement of the need to protect the parents, family members of United States citizen kids,” Saenz said. “We did not get that.”

President Barack Obama created the DACA and DAPA programs in 2014. A group of states, led by Texas, challenged them in court. After a 4-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, DAPA never went into effect.

President Donald Trump promised during his campaign to rescind all the Obama immigration orders, but since his election, he has said he might not roll back DACA.

Saenz said immigrants registered under the programs have been in legal limbo since the split court ruling. Now parents are left with no protections while their children are still covered by DACA, but no one seems to know for how long.

“But I think the demonstrated unpredictability means that while this is, as of today, an indication that they won’t be changing the DACA initiative,” he said, “that could change tomorrow, next month, six months from now,”

Nationwide, there are about 750,000 children of immigrants registered in the DACA program. DAPA would have applied to as many as 4 million immigrants, but because of the stalemate in the courts, the program was never fully implemented.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

After Deadlock, Undocumented Texans Aim to Fight for Change

In November 2014 when President Barack Obama unveiled his executive action on immigration amid congressional gridlock, Bryan Martinez says he was relieved that the federal government planned to protect him from deportation.

“The feeling was amazing because for so long people have said we have to do something about immigration, but they never did anything,” said Martinez. “For me, it was a ‘Thank you Obama’ moment because it was an [opportunity] for me.”

But Martinez’s fate, and that of millions like him, was put on hold — at least for now. At a news conference in Austin Thursday afternoon, he joined dozens of other immigration reform advocates to denounce that morning’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately thwarted Obama’s executive order, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.

The plan sought to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants — including some 1.46 million in Texas — from deportation and allow immigrants to obtain working permits if they have lived in the country for more than five years, passed background checks and paid fines.

The high court’s 4-4 vote ultimately leaves a lower court’s injunction against the executive order in place and ends any chance for it to be implemented before Obama leaves office, according to legal experts. It also blocked Obama’s effort to expand a 2012 program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

For Martinez, who traveled across the U.S.-Mexico border to Texas in 2009 with his brother, the ruling meant he and other undocumented Texans need to remain resolute.

“The fight is not over,” said Martinez. “We have to push and make them hear what we want to make them hear. We will keep fighting for a better future.”

Yet DAPA applicants such as Maria Lopez, who moved from Mexico to Texas 10 years ago with her now 13-year-old son, feel deflated.

“I was excited to feel that I would finally be able to come out of the shadows,” Lopez said through a translator. “But I am feeling very sad. I’m heartbroken because today we were failed. My [three] children are in fear because they are afraid that we can get separated anyway.”

Advocates Thursday spoke of the need to engage voters on the issue so they understand what’s at stake in the upcoming elections.

“Although I know this is a disappointing ruling, it’s not the end,” said state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin. “But what this ruling means is that the election in November is crucial when it comes to immigration issues. It’s one of the most critical election years. So register to vote if you can, and people you know — get them out. I know we’re down, but the fight continues.”

Carlos González Gutiérrez, the Mexican consul in Austin, told reporters that the Mexican government “regrets” the Supreme Court’s decision. He said an approval by the court of Obama’s executive orders “would have been a recognition of the positive impact the millions of Mexican immigrants have on the social fabric of this society and the economic growth of this country.”

Author: Khorri Atkinson – The Texas Tribune

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