The air is noticeably crisper, the baseball playoffs have begun, I have started to see decorative gourds, but the traffic got a whole lot lighter today. It is October 1, 2013, the first day of the fiscal year 2014 (FY2014), and the federal government has shut down over the inability of Congress to pass a budget that does not seek to undo the Affordable Care Act.
On Tuesday, August 20, approximately fifty people gathered at Benach Collopy’s offices in Washington, DC to meet and support a 27 year old candidate for Congress from the 4th District of Iowa. Jim Mowrer, born on a farm in Boone Iowa, and a veteran of our war in Iraq, is challenging the incumbent Steve King for his seat in Congress. Readers of this blog need no introduction to Steve King as he is a leader of the extreme anti-immigrant faction of American politics.
The day before the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the most significant piece of immigration legislation since 1996, the “President of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, the union representing 12,000 United States Citizenship & Immigration Services adjudications officers and staff” sent a letter to Members of the United States Senate in opposition to the immigration reform bill under review in the Senate. Despite claiming to be the “backbone of our nation’s immigration system,” the Union leadership complains that they were not consulted over the proposed immigration reform.
Yesterday, by a vote of 13-5, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 744, the immigration reform bill. Three Republicans (Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Orrin Hatch (UT)) joined all ten Democrats to vote the legislation out of committee. The five opponents were the five Republicans who had spent the several mark-ups attempting to torpedo the legislation with odious and unworkable amendments, most of which were defeated.
It has now been a couple of weeks since the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill was introduced. We provided a brief rundown of its main points and we give it, overall, good grades. It certainly is much better than the status quo, but less generous than we might have designed ourselves. But they are in Congress and we are in court. Now that it is out, what happens?
“¡Obama escucha, seguimos en la lucha!” This shouting was heard from downtown on 14th street as Sandra, Mariela, and I made posters to join thousands of people at the immigration rally held in front of the Capitol on Wednesday, April 10th. Since my arrival to the United States in 1999, I have attended every immigration rally in Washington, D.C. I find every experience of a rally to be very rewarding including being able to shout nonstop on the streets of DC without getting arrested.
As Washington, DC has seemed to jump from winter to summer, the politics of immigration reform are heating up. For the rest of this week, the Capital will be inundated with activists, lawyers, politicians and celebrities all advocating for immigration reform. Among all this activity, the Senate “Gang of Eight” is prepared to release their proposed bill. Rumored to be nearly 1500 pages, the Gang of Eight will provide the meat on the bone that all of us have been waiting to chew on.
Dear Congressman Bachus, Thank you very much for speaking out about the overuse of detention by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in civil proceedings to determine the removability of individuals in the U.S. By stating and asking “it looks to me like there is an overuse of detention by this administration. If these people are not safety risks . . . why are we detaining them?,” you have joined the growing chorus of Americans who wonder why the government, during a time of fiscal crisis, spends so much money locking people up during immigration proceedings when they present no danger to society.
It took only three years longer than promised—and a leak that may or may not have been intentional—but the White House has finally produced a legislative proposal to fix the immigration system. Dubbed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2013, the bill would create a pathway to citizenship for most of the 11 million removable noncitizens in the country, mandate the eventual use of E-Verify for most employers, and dull many of the draconian provisions enacted in the 1996 immigration bill.
The past few days have revealed tremendous silliness in the immigration reform debate. It is a true pity given the serious stakes involved for everyone persecuted by the U.S.’ brutal immigration laws. Just today, we saw prominent immigrant rights groups’ applauding the honesty of ICE bureaucrat representative, Chris Crane because he stated in some forum or another: For this pearl, Mr. Crane has been lauded by all sorts of ostensibly pro-immigrant types as a whistleblower.