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Posts tagged "Citizenship"


Much of the immigration reform debate over the coming weeks will center on a few key components — phrases you’ve likely heard countless times, such as a “pathway to citizenship.” But those phrases can often be hollow and mean little for the people to whom the bill will actually apply. It’s in the details that real immigration reform will either live or die. And so far, those details remain relatively unknown.

Take English language proficiency as an example. Most proposals would require some level of English proficiency in order to qualify for naturalization. But as the Migration Policy Institute found in a 2011 report, even seemingly small differences in the level of English proficiency required for naturalization could determine whether millions of people qualify or are left out.

A test requiring Level 3 English proficiency on the National Reporting System for Adult Education, for example, would screen out 35 percent of undocumented immigrants. A test requiring Level 4 proficiency would screen out 56 percent of undocumented immigrants.

So even though you’re likely to hear the phrase “pathway to citizenship” often, it’s really the details that matter most. Those details will determine whether millions of undocumented immigrants have the chance to become citizens, or will continue to live in the shadows.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced after a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday that he will lay out some of his plans for immigration reform on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Members of the caucus who were present at the meeting said Obama assured them that he shares the group’s basic beliefs about immigration reform, most notably that making a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which some Republicans oppose — is an absolute must as they push for legislation.

"The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship," the administration in a statement. "The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay."

Seven members of Congress were present at the meeting, including Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Immigration Task Force Chairman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).

Obama told the group that his plans for immigration reform align with their own, especially with regards to the need for a pathway to citizenship, Becerra said after the meeting.

The Associated Press reported that the White House will launch an effort on immigration next week, as will a bipartisan group of senators, likely the so-called"gang of eight" — four Republicans, four Democrats — who have already begun to work toward a deal.

A pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States is considered a non-negotiable for many Democrats and immigrant advocates, who argue anything else would result in a huge group of second-class residents. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that advocates for a pathway to citizenship will have to cave and accept temporary status instead, with no special road to citizenship.

Meanwhile, senators plan to move ahead on other piecemeal immigration bills. The Hill reported Friday that Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida are teaming up with Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware to introduce a bill next week that focuses on visas for high-skilled workers.

Obama administration officials have said they believe piece-by-piece reform would be less productive, but Hatch told The Hill he thinks his bill could aid in the broader legislative effort.

H/T: Huffington Post

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution expressly provides that nearly anyone born in the United States is a citizen, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Yet, despite the Constitution’s clear command, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants to ignore our founding document and prevent the children of undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens:

It’s the first week of the 113th Congress, and one House member is already trying to stop children born in the United States to undocumented parents — whom he calls “anchor babies” — from gaining citizenship.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken hardliner on immigration, introduced a bill on Thursday that would “clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.” The Supreme Court has consistently held that anyone born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ immigration status, should receive citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

King disagrees, as do 13 co-sponsors on the bill, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

The Constitution is clear that King’s bill is unconstitutional. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The word “jurisdiction” refers to people that are subject to American law. Thus foreign diplomats and their families, who are granted broad immunity from U.S. law, are not entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Likewise, at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was drafted many Native Americans were subject only to tribal law and thus were not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. Undocumented immigrants and their children, by contrast, are not immune to U.S. law. And thus fit squarely within the Fourteenth Amendment’s command.

h/t: Think Progress Justice

The nation needs a comprehensive immigration plan, and it is clear from a recent poll that most Americans support reforming the U.S.’s immigration system. In a new poll, nearly two-thirds of people surveyed are in favor of a measure that allows undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship over several years, while only 35 percent oppose such a plan. And President Obama is expected to “begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship” in January.

Here are the top 10 reasons why the U.S. needs comprehensive immigration reform:

1. Legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost the nation’s economy. It would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product—the largest measure of economic growth—over 10 years. That’s because immigration reform that puts all workers on a level playing field would create a virtuous cycle in which legal status and labor rights exert upward pressure on the wages of both American and immigrant workers. Higher wages and even better jobs would translate into increased consumer purchasing power, which would benefit the U.S. economy as a whole.

2. Tax revenues would increase. The federal government would accrue $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue over just three years if the 11 million undocumented immigrants were legalized. And states would benefit. Texas, for example, would see a $4.1 billion gain in tax revenue and the creation of 193,000 new jobs if its approximately 1.6 million undocumented immigrants were legalized.

3. Harmful state immigration laws are damaging state economies. States that have passed stringent immigration measures in an effort to curb the number of undocumented immigrants living in the state have hurt some of their key industries, which are held back due to inadequate access to qualified workers. A farmer in Alabama, where the state legislature passed the anti-immigration law HB 56 in 2011, for example, estimated that he lost up to $300,000 in produce in 2011 because the undocumented farmworkers who had skillfully picked tomatoes from his vines in years prior had been forced to flee the state.

4. A path to citizenship would help families access health care. About a quarter of families where at least one parent is an undocumented immigrant are uninsured, but undocumented immigrants do not qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, leaving them dependent on so-called safety net hospitals that will see their funding reduced as health care reforms are implemented. Without being able to apply for legal status and gain health care coverage, the health care options for undocumented immigrants and their families will shrink.

5. U.S. employers need a legalized workforceNearly half of agricultural workers, 17 percent of construction workers, and 12 percent of food preparation workers nationwide lacking legal immigration status. But business owners—from farmers to hotel chain owners—benefit from reliable and skilled laborers, and a legalization program would ensure that they have them.

6. In 2011, immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for more than one in four new U.S. businesses. Additionally, immigrant businesses employ one in every 10 people working for private companies. Immigrants and their children founded 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which collectively generated $4.2 trillion in revenue in 2010—more than the GDP of every country in the world except the United States, China, and Japan. Reforms that enhance legal immigration channels for high-skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs while protecting American workers and placing all high-skilled workers on a level playing field will promote economic growth, innovation, and workforce stability in the United States.

7. Letting undocumented immigrants gain legal status would keep families together. More than 5,100 children whose parents are undocumented immigrants are in the U.S. foster care system, according to a 2011 report, because their parents have either been detained by immigration officials or deported and unable to reunite with their children. If undocumented immigrants continue to be deported without a path to citizenship enabling them to remain in the U.S. with their families, up to 15,000 children could be in the foster care system by 2016 because their parents were deported, and most child welfare departments do not have the resources to handle this increase.

8. Young undocumented immigrants would add billions to the economy if they gained legal status. Passing the DREAM Act—legislation that proposes to create a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants who came to the United States as children—would put 2.1 million young people on a pathway to legal status, adding $329 billion to the American economy over the next two decades.

9. And DREAMers would boost employment and wages. Legal status and the pursuit of higher education would create an aggregate 19 percent increase in earnings for young undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the DREAM Act by 2030. The ripple effects of these increased wages would create $181 billion in induced economic impact, 1.4 million new jobs, and $10 billion in increased federal revenue.

10. Significant reform of the high-skilled immigration system would benefit certain industries that require high-skilled workers. Immigrants make up 23 percent of the labor force in high-tech manufacturing and information technology industries, and immigrants more highly educated, on average, than the native-born Americans working in these industries. For every immigrant who earns an advanced degree in one of these fields at a U.S. university, 2.62 American jobs are created.

h/t: Amanda Peterson Beadle at Think Progress Justice