Deadline to Introduce Immigration Bill

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) gave the Senate’s “Gang of 8”until March 21st to introduce an immigration reform bill that lays out a clear path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

“We will only support legislation that contains a reasonable time to attain citizenship, and, keeps our families together as they work toward becoming full-fledged Americans,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos. FIRM is a coalition of immigrant rights groups in 30 states. “The Gang of 8 and all other members of Congress should be aware that our families will be telling their stories of how the broken immigration system has torn their families apart.”

The families will be telling their stories during FIRM’s “Keeping Families Together” national bus tour that kicks off on Monday, Feb.25, inChicago. The tour will take place in 19 states and in over 90 cities, with families at every stop telling why achieving comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship must be the number one priority of Congress.

Some bus tour facts:

*Traveling in 19 states, logging more than20,000 miles

*Visiting over 90 cities

*Over 500 families participating

*Visiting over 100 congressional districts and 38 U.S. Senate offices

Jennifer Martinez, an American citizen, will tell how her four children still are fearful that she too will someday be taken by police, as their dad was last year and deported back to Mexico.

“My children cry every day for their daddy and I cry whenever I have to leave them,” Jennifer said. “I never get to see them because I need to work two jobs to support us. My family has been torn apart.”

Jose-Antonio Machado, 17, and his twin brother, Juan-Manuel, may never see their mother again, since she was deported back toNicaraguatwo years ago.

“My brother and I are lucky because we have been granted Deferred Action status because we are DREAMers,” Jose-Antonio said. “But I want my mother to be able to live here in theU.S.with us so we can be a family again.”

FIRM is asking the Gang of 8 to adhere to several principles, outlined here (link to shortened letter) as they craft an immigration bill:

**Completion of enforcement “triggers” must NOT be tied to a path to citizenship

**Reform must include a meaningful, unencumbered path to citizenship

**Family reunification must be the bedrock of a reform package that includes LGBT people

**Reform must provide opportunities for safe future migration and ensure worker protections

“FIRM will stand firm on these principles and we are prepared to press the Gang of 8 to adhere to them,” Matos said. “We WILL hold firm to the March 21st deadline and when the bus tour kicks off on Feb. 25th, will be start our ’25 Stories, 25 Days’ countdown to the deadline.”

“I hope on March 21st, the story we tell that day will be of a Senate bill that includes a path to citizenship,” Matos added.

Powering Up for a Path to Citizenship

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), in collaboration with fifty California Table for Immigration Reform member organizations from throughout the state, wasted no time on the first Congressional recess this week conducting legislative visits to twenty Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

As part of a national effort labeled “Keeping Families Together,” which CHIRLA spearheads inCalifornia, the legislative visits are the first salvo in what will become an escalating campaign to remind the state’s congressional delegation that millions in theGoldenStateexpect them to vote for immigration reform in 2013.

In addition to visiting the state’s two senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, CHIRLA and members of the immigrant community conducted legislative drop-bys with Reps. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Tony Cardenas (D-San Fernando Valley), Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), George Miller (D-Richmond), David Valadao (R-Hanford), David Nunez (R-Clovis), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Jeff Denham (R-Modesto), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), and Eric Swalwell (D-Pleasanton).  A series of visits inWashington,DCwas also taking place concurrently.

“The message to our Congressional Delegation is very simple,” stated Angelica Salas, CHIRLA Executive Director.  “The clock is ticking for them to get the people’s work done.  Californiaexpects the Senate to move on an immigration bill by March 21.  But we do not want just a bill that will satisfy politicians.  We want a quality bill that benefits families and honorsAmerica.”

“This is our first round of legislative visits.  Every week we will be back with growing numbers until we have talked to every single one of our elected leaders and obtained a commitment from them that they will fight to keep our families together,” added Ms. Salas.

“We will be counting down the days before Congress’ own set deadline of March 21.  With every delay enacting a fair, direct roadmap to citizenship, we will remind them more than 1,000 immigrants a day will have had their lives shattered and reform will no longer be useful to them,” added Ms. Salas.

In response to the leak this weekend of the White House’s draft immigration bill, and the ensuing back-and-forth between politicians about who leaked what or spoke to whom, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, United We Dream, is continuing to push for a swift, clear path to citizenship for DREAMers and all 11 million Americans without papers.

Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy & Policy for United We Dream:

“WhileWashington,D.C.politicians continue to play political football with immigration by focusing on who called whom and said what, we have a clear message: stop playing games with our lives.  We’re demanding an end to the status quo.  Our families are being torn apart by deportations. We have been separated from our mothers and fathers for years, some of us for decades.  We have grown up here, our families have built lives here. We already see ourselves as American. We want the opportunity to become citizens of this country.   Our country has already dumped millions and millions of dollars into border militarization and excessive enforcement programs, tearing families and communities apart.  It’s time for a new direction, one that prioritizes a clear and timely path to citizenship for all 11 million and ends out-of-control enforcement practices.  We will accept nothing less. ”

A Permanent Underclass?

This week was a good day for immigration reform prospects, as the AFL/CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a set of shared principles that generated praise and optimism from observers ranging from White House press secretary Jay Carney to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).

However, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seems intent to step all over the progress his Party is making on immigration by advancing an un-American and unacceptable concept.  Rep. Goodlatte, along with other House Republicans such as Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), has been vocal this week that his view of “reform” would stop short of citizenship for the undocumented.  In effect, Rep. Goodlatte is endorsing the creation of a permanent underclass of Americans.

In response to Goodlatte’s scheme,  Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director ofAmerica’s Voice Education Fund said:

Rep. Goodlatte is advocating the establishment a permanent second-class status for immigrants inAmerica.  With all due respect to the Congressman, that’s not how we do things inAmerica.  We don’t strive to create a tiered society, we strive for inclusion.  If you’re here to stay, work hard and pay taxes, you should be given the chance to earn citizenship.  Period.

Not only is a path to citizenship the right policy for the country, but it’s the right politics for the GOP.  There’s no constituency behind this idea of a ‘permanent temporary’ status—at least none outside of the House Republican conference.  Americans are solidly in favor of a path to citizenship.  And if Republicans want to succeed in rebranding themselves with Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters, they have to do far better than this.  Telling folks they can work here, clean our homes, care for our children and parents, pay taxes, create jobs that employ Americans—but never become one—is not going to cut it.”

Note: Citizenship is supported by the majority of Americans, in poll after poll, including in polls released yesterday from Bloomberg and the Pew Research Center and in a January poll from Republican pollsters Public Opinion Strategies and Democratic pollsters Hart Research.  In fact, when the Goodlatte/Labrador option is pitted against a path that includes full citizenship, only 7% chose the legal status without citizenship option.  Fully 87% preferred citizenship in the Hart/POS poll.

NDN and the New Policy Institute released the following statement on a letter from the Congressional Border Caucus to President Obama:

“NDN/NPI’s “21st Century Border Initiative” applauds the new letter from the House Border Caucus Chairmen Reps. Grijalva and Vela to the President. It outlines three critical priorities for the US-Mexico border region: more customs agents to increase legal trade and tourism while aiding in critical enforcement needs, more investment in border infrastructure to modernize our aging port system in particular, and better Federal management of the complex economic and security opportunities and challenges of the region.

This smart, modern approach to improving the border will bring more jobs to the US; increase legal flows of good and people with Mexico, our third largest trading partner; make the implementation of immigration reform easier; and improve the security along the 2,000 mile long border itself.

The recommendations from the House Border Caucus build on the progress made in the border region in recent years.  Crime is down along theUS side of the border, net migration of undocumented immigrants has dropped to zero, and trade and tourism withMexico has increased, dramatically. While there are very real challenges in the US-Mexico border region today, things are improving, and with this smart plan even further progress can be made in the years ahead.”

Secretary Carlos Gutierrez Resigns from Citigroup to Chair Republicans for Immigration Reform

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez today announced his resignation from Citigroup to focus his full attention on serving as Chairman of the Republicans for Immigration Reform super PAC.

“America’s immigration system is badly broken, which undeniably impacts our economy, our healthcare system, our nation’s ability to attract the globe’s most talented individuals, our schools, our families and our country’s promise of the great American Dream,” said Secretary Gutierrez.  “The upcoming immigration reform debate will be one of the most important public policy discussions America engages in this century.  Our country must get it right.  In this spirit and with this understanding, I’ve decided to dedicate my full time and energy to Republicans for Immigration Reform and this critical legislative effort.”

Born in Havana, Cuba, Gutierrez’s family immigrated to the United States in 1960.  In 1975, he joined the Kellogg Company as a sales representative in Mexico City, Mexico.  By 2000, Gutierrez rose to become Kellogg’s Chairman and CEO.  Gutierrez, who also serves on the Hispanic Leadership Network’s National Advisory Committee, went on to become the 35th U.S. Secretary of Commerce, serving under the George W. Bush Administration from 2005 to 2009.  In 2010, Gutierrez joined Citi as Vice Chairman of Institutional Clients Group and a member of the Senior Strategic Advisory Group.

Republicans for Immigration Reform will provide political support for Republicans who advance common-sense solutions to address the nation’s broken immigration system.  These common-sense solutions must be implemented through comprehensive legislation that recognizes U.S. borders, Rule of Law, dignity of individuals, and policies that address the needs of our economy in the 21st century.  For more information, please visit

“America was born as a nation of immigrants and Republicans for Immigration Reform understands that immigration is not just a critical part of our history, but a necessary tool for the future,” said Charlie Spies, Co-Founder of Republicans for Immigration Reform.  “This is an understanding also espoused by Secretary Gutierrez, who has long fought for policies that protect and preserve the great American Dream.  We are honored to have his full support in this effort.”


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