Today Congressional Republicans pushed through a “historically bad piece of legislation” that cements the GOP leadership and Trump administration’s war on children. That is because the party-line GOP tax bill vote sends a massively unpopular “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” to President Trump that clearly puts the future of our children and our country at stake.
Educators visit legislators in Washington to call for a “Dream Act Now”
By John Marth, Senior Content Specialist, UnidosUS
We all have our favorite symbols that remind us of what America’s all about. The Declaration of Independence, the flag, or even Monday Night Football. But when the end of DACA was announced three months ago, Marisol Rerucha looked at Lady Liberty.
She thought of “The New Colossus,” the Emma Lazarus poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty’s base, and how ending DACA violated it. “The great promise of our country, to be a refuge for those in need, was being spitefully revoked and would have a tremendous impact on hundreds of thousands of children,” Rerucha recalls thinking.
Rerucha copied down the poem and had it in mind as she visited Capitol Hill earlier this month to urge representatives to pass a DREAM Act by the end of the year. She visited offices with Alex Hernandez, Principal of The Multicultural High School in Brooklyn, New York, and José Enriquez, Executive Director of Latinos in Action in Utah. Rerucha is Career Technical Education Specialist at the San Diego County Office of Education.
All three are alumni of UnidosUS’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders, or NILSL, a fellowship that gives educators the skills and support they need to become advocates for Latino students in local and state politics.
With the news on immigration focused on administrative relief and a new Congress seemingly bent on undoing that relief, we know there may be some confusion about what is happening. We want to allay your fears and bring you up to speed on applying for the new DAPA program and expanded DACA.
First and foremost, it must be noted that the votes in the House of Representatives on administrative relief are not a new law. Efforts to take away administrative relief will not stand. There have already been attempts to undo the president’s action (more on that below) and we are actively working to defend it, but nothing that Congress has passed so far will have any bearing on administrative relief. Therefore, you should continue to prepare everything you need for applying for DAPA and expanded DACA.
We have prepared a handy checklist on what you need to gather before starting the application process. Take a look below for information on eligibility and applying.
(Click the images to enlarge)
One thing you’ll definitely need is a birth certificate. If you’re a Mexican citizen living in the United States, starting today you’re eligible to get your birth certificate from the Mexican Consulate. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity soon.
So What’s Happening in Congress?
If you haven’t been following the issue closely, let us fill you in with a quick overview:
The 114th Congress has just begun its session, and this week the House passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As part of the Republican leadership’s plan to stop the president’s administrative relief, a number of amendments designed to achieve this goal were added to the DHS budget bill, and they all passed.
As you might remember from your civics class, in order for a bill to become law it must pass in both the House and the Senate and then be signed by the president. So, the next stop for the DHS funding measure (including the approved anti-immigrant amendments) is the U.S. Senate, where it has a slim chance of passing in its current form.
While the DHS budget must be approved, there is widespread belief that enough senators will object to the House amendments being included in any final bill. In addition, the president has made several indications that he would veto any measure that would undo his administrative action.
Our message to Congress is this: We cannot think of a more substantively offensive and politically disastrous step for Republicans to take at this moment in time. And our message to our community is “No se asusten.” Stay informed and keep preparing for administrative relief.
If you haven’t done so already, sign up for our Action Network to stay on top of the latest news and take action.
What to Watch This Week:
The House has not yet released its weekly schedule. On Tuesday, members will be sworn-in and formerly elect a Speaker; despite several Republican members challenging Speaker Boehner, he is widely expected to be chosen. The House will also vote on its rules for this Congress, which reportedly includes dynamic scoring of major legislation. Later in the week, the House may vote on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and amend the Affordable Care Act.
On Tuesday, newly-elected Senators will be sworn-in to office and a vote is scheduled to elect Senator Orrin Hatch to be the president pro tempore. At this time, there is no legislative business scheduled for the floor for this week. The Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The White House has not released a public schedule for this week. However, on Tuesday, the president will host President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House. The two leaders are expected to discuss economic, security, and social issues. On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Detroit to talk about auto manufacturing. On Thursday, the president will speak about homeownership in Phoenix. On Friday, President Obama and the vice president will discuss college access and affordability at an event in Tennessee.
Also this Week:
Appropriations – As part of the agreement to fund the government at the end of last year, the Department of Homeland Security only received appropriations until February 28 of this year. It is possible a Homeland Security spending bill could be on the floor next week after Republicans meet this week to discuss their strategy for continued opposition to the president’s executive actions on immigration. There has been some speculation that a border security measure could be attached, but this is not yet clear.
Health – The House could vote as soon as this week on legislation that would change the definition of full-time employment under the ACA from thirty to forty hours a week. Members may also vote on a bill that would allow employers to exclude employees with healthcare coverage through the Defense Department or Veterans Affairs Department from the employer mandate.
Budget – The House will vote this week on a package of rules for this Congress that includes a provision requiring dynamic scoring for major pieces of legislation. Dynamic scoring takes into account the macroeconomic impact of a given bill. This policy change is motivated in part by a long-standing Republican wish to show that tax cuts are beneficial to the economy as a whole and this picture is not fully captured under current scoring assumptions. Elsewhere, new House and Senate Budget Chairs Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are considering replacing Congressional Budget Office Direct Doug Elmendorf. His term has expired, but no decision has yet been made.
Education – While not yet officially scheduled, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, has said he plans to hold a hearing in early January on testing as a lead-up to re-authorization the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
What to Watch This Week:
The House is in recess, returning Monday, December 1.
The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, December 1.
On Monday, the president will present nineteen recipients the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The First Lady will also attend.
On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to the Chicago area to meet with community leaders and discuss the executive actions he is taking to fix our broken immigration system.
On Wednesday, the president will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House.
On Thursday, President Obama will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House. There are no public events scheduled.
On Friday, the president has no public events scheduled.
By Ricky Garza, Communications Coordinator, NCLR
Latino workers are overrepresented in low-wage jobs, which can often create more problems beyond a smaller paycheck.
Training the spotlight on this issue, a recent New York Times Magazine piece profiles Jannette Navarro, a young Latina mom working as a Starbucks barista. Juggling her responsibilities as a mother, a college student, and a highly competent employee become nearly impossible due to her unpredictable work schedule; automated scheduling software creates her schedule only days in advance.
In the profile, Ms. Navarro’s situation slowly deteriorates as she struggles to make a living commuting three hours, arranging sporadic child care for her son, and working exhausting “clopening” shifts, which couple back-to-back late-night closing and predawn opening shifts.
From the New York Times Magazine piece:
Months after starting the job she moved out of her aunt’s home, in part because of mounting friction over the erratic schedule, which the aunt felt was also holding her family captive. Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all.
Navarro often ended her shifts at 11 p.m. and was assigned to open the store hours later at 4 a.m. the next morning. Though she requested it, management never allowed her to work a full 40-hour workweek.
By knowing someone personally who held this job, I realized this is part of the irony of being an involuntary “part-time” barista: taking a second job is impossible without knowing your free hours, and a full workweek is also out of the question because the store hires too many workers in the same situation competing for hours and shifts.
The company swiftly responded to the magazine’s profile, vowing on Thursday to reform their scheduling policies for all 130,000 Starbucks baristas. Starbucks says they will ban clopening shifts, require baristas to receive their schedules at least one week in advance, and work to relocate workers with long commutes to closer stores. If properly implemented, these reforms could go a long way in making workloads more manageable for Starbucks workers.
While this is welcome news for low-wage Starbucks employees, there are millions of struggling workers who will not be affected by the change. Currently, 43 percent of all Latino workers earn poverty wages, and many are stuck with the same types of jobs offering irregular schedules that wreak havoc on workers’ lives. The instability harms not only their livelihoods, but those of the people around them, preventing them from securing doctor’s appointments, child care, time with family, or even arranging a short, well-earned vacation.
Though steps taken to improve working conditions by individual companies like Starbucks will improve the lives of low-wage workers, employees cannot afford to rely on the benevolence of corporate actors alone. That’s why members of the House of Representatives have introduced the “Schedules That Work Act,” which would encourage employers to grant hourly workers stable schedules when they request them. The bill would require employers to approve schedule changes to accommodate care-giving, health care, educational, and other employment responsibilities, and contains measures that would discourage employers from abruptly sending wage workers home in the middle of a shift without full pay.
Today, “just-in-time” scheduling is a systematic challenge for workers in the retail and food service industries. It deserves a legislative and permanent solution. It’s time to ensure a fair workweek for all so all workers are able to hold good jobs with dignity.
By Laura Vazquez, Senior Immigration Legislative Analyst, NCLR
When we talk about the need for President Obama to grant administrative relief to qualifying immigrants, we often focus on the families who lose cherished loved ones. But there is more to the story. The approximately 11 million aspiring Americans in our country are woven into the fabric of communities. Nearly 10 million have lived in the United States for five years or more. They are volunteers, breadwinners, and skilled workers.
Take, for example, the story of Benjamin Nuñez-Marquez, a 38-year-old man living and working in Orcas Island, Washington. His story was recently reported in the Seattle Times.
For 15 years, Benjamin was solely responsible for operating the antique circular saw at West Sound Lumber. His skills and knowledge were indispensable to running the mill—no one else knew how to operate the saw that he used to craft furniture and other goods. The company’s owner, Jack Helsell, considered Benjamin essential to his business’s success, as Benjamin did the same work that two men used to do, and he did it twice as fast. Benjamin was not only a reliable worker, he was also virtually irreplaceable. Before he came on, no sawyer had stayed on the job for longer than a year, given the tough, physical nature of the work.
In 2008, however, Benjamin ran afoul of immigration authorities while driving his sick and elderly neighbor to the hospital. Benjamin met his 80-year old neighbor Natalie White in 1998. In exchange for English lessons, he helped Natalie with odd jobs around the house and took care of her cats, dogs, goats, and guinea pigs. When Natalie suffered a stroke, she thought to call Benjamin first rather than dial 911. Benjamin drove her to the closest hospital and they encountered a Border Patrol checkpoint on the way, where he was apprehended. He was detained, granted a hearing, and then ordered to be removed from the country.
Meanwhile, the Helsells worried if their business would survive. West Sound Lumber is a small, family-owned company that couldn’t afford to upgrade its saw, and even after recruiting for two years, the business could not find a replacement for Benjamin. The company wouldn’t have been the only business affected by Benjamin’s deportation. Local builders who depend on the mill’s lumber urged immigration authorities to release the skilled craftsman, writing that his loss would be disastrous for their businesses. Local artists also went to West Sound Lumber with special projects for Benjamin and the saw.
The Orcas Island community, like other communities across the country, rallied to make the case that deporting someone who is integrally linked to their community would be devastating and was not in the country’s best interest. The Helsell family, other local businesses and residents, elected officials, and local papers wrote hundreds of letters and made countless calls to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, urging the agency to release Benjamin.
The advocacy paid off.
This past May, Benjamin was granted a one-year stay of removal. Senator Patty Murray (D–Wash.) remarked: “As I told Homeland Security Secretary [Jeh] Johnson, Ben Nunez is exactly the type of person we should not be kicking out of this country. He’s a cherished friend and member of his community, he’s a hard worker who keeps the doors open at a small business, and he’s someone Americans should be proud to call their own.”
The United States is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession and it is incredibly poor policy to spend taxpayer dollars apprehending, detaining, and removing people like Benjamin, people who are integral to both our businesses and our communities. Misguided immigration policies don’t just tear families apart; these policies also impact the communities where aspiring Americans live and contribute. Their neighbors, pastors, teachers, and co-workers feel the effects of the broken immigration system and have advocated for Congress to act.
Since GOP leadership in the House of Representatives has failed to do so, President Obama must now do what is in the best interest of communities across the country.
Last Friday, 11 Republicans stood with DREAMers and rejected a bill that would effectively end DACA, which has provided relief to more than 500,000 people so far.
Click the photos below to help us send a thank-you tweet to these members of Congress:
Given the recent shameful House debate on the DACA program recently, we want to make sure you all know that the DACA program is currently intact. It is not under immediate threat of being shut down, despite the efforts of some in Congress.
New and renewing DACA recipients should continue with the process they have started. We have prepared a fact sheet for you to refer to, should you have any questions. You should also check out the DACA Toolkit below for more information.
Last Friday night, while most Americans were busy beginning their weekend, the House of Representatives was busy at work debating a supplemental appropriations bill to address the humanitarian border crisis at our border, and a bill to end the hugely successful DACA program that has helped more than 500,000 DREAMers. While the vote had no hope of becoming law (the Senate had already adjourned the day before and the president indicated he’d veto it), the debate on the vote displayed some of the most vehement anti-immigrant rhetoric we’ve seen to date.
In a statement, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía condemned the House for it’s actions.
From the statement:
“It was an embarrassing and shameful display by people who are refusing to do their job and help the country. The House Republican Caucus today voted to send a message to the president and their constituents, but they also sent a message to America that we hear loud and clear: House Republicans are not interested in solving the immigration crisis and boosting the economy, they do not care about the plight of children and they do not want the Latino vote. That is the only conclusion we can make after Speaker John Boehner once again ceded control of this issue to the most extreme of the extremists in his party and passed legislation that cements the House’s obvious goal of making things much worse for everyone. It is appalling that this legislation only passed when the extremists decided it inflicted enough damage on immigrants and others in our community,”
“As I said last week at the 2014 NCLR Annual Conference, what Speaker Boehner has done, or more accurately has not done, on immigration is a clear dereliction of duty. He had numerous options, and he opted for the worst one: cowering and kowtowing once again to Steve King, Michele Bachmann and their allies in the hate-fueled anti-immigrant movement. John Boehner’s continued lack of courage will not only be his legacy as an ineffectual Speaker of the House but also harm the country he purports to love,” Murguía continued.
“And what the extremists have done with their power is unconscionable. Taking advantage of this situation to both block comprehensive immigration reform and undo programs that have nothing to do with what is happening at the border is just one more reason why the political future of the Republican Party in today’s America is decidedly bleak. I want to reiterate that fear-mongering and scapegoating isn’t going to get the Latino vote. Putting National Guard troops to confront children seeking refuge and enabling armed militiamen at the border isn’t going to get our vote. Repealing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and refusing to act on comprehensive immigration reform isn’t going to get our vote.”
“Given the extremists in charge in the House, the willful neglect of the House leadership and the failure to even consider constructive solutions, President Obama is right to act and fix as much of our broken immigration system as he can through executive action.”
House members in favor of immigration reform did try to insert an amendment that would have brought HR 15, the House bill on immigration reform, up for a debate, but their efforts ultimately proved unfruitful.
Join our Immigration Action Network to stay updated on the latest immigration reform news by texting REFORM or REFORMA to 62571 or join online.