Engagement Crucial to Immigration Reform
July 1, 2013
The Immigration Reform Bill has passed the Senate by a 68-32 vote. NLCI knows that although significant hurdles had to be surpassed to accomplish this bipartisan reform; this is only the beginning. Now the House will be working on their bill.
Seven in ten Americans approve of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, according to an April 2013 Gallup Poll. But, without their voice present throughout the legislative process, passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House will be nearly impossible.
“It is going to be more critical now, so continue to remain engaged via social media, email and phone,” urged NLCI Executive Director, Josephine F. Garza, “encourage your legislators to support the spirit of the Senate Bill.”
NLCI advocates for a comprehensive, humane and sensible immigration reform policy that does not separate children from their parent(s). Additionally we strongly support the DREAMers, immigrant children that entered unlawfully through no act of their own.
Furthermore NLCI would like to thank Senators Feinstein, Blumenthal, Hirono, Coons, and Franken, including the Gang of eight; Bennet, Durbin, Flake, Graham, McCain, Menendez, Rubio, and Schumer, and the Senate Judiciary Committee for helping pass amendments aimed to protect immigrant children and families. See some of the amendments included below:
- Feinstein 6: Requires Customs and Border Patrol to adopt standards for treatment of children in custody
- Hirono 23: Provides protections for families, including those with children, apprehended at the border
- Blumenthal 8: Requires ICE and Customs and Boarder Protection receive prior approval before enacting enforcement procedures at sensitive locations such as schools, churches, and hospitals except in the case of exigent circumstances. Furthermore it requires that ICE and CBP receive annual training and report annually enforcement actions in these locations.
- Blumenthal 12: Allows RPIs who have honorably served in the Armed Forces and meet certain other conditions to become naturalized United States citizens, which can expedite the naturalization process for eligible Dreamers who have completed military service
- Coons 10: Ensures that individuals authorized to be employed in the United States may not be denied professional, commercial, or business licenses on the basis of immigration status, which is beneficial for Dreamers as well as others seeking licensure.
- Hirono 21: Allows students who came to the U.S. as children to access tuition assistance while in RPI status, making college more affordable for Dreamers
- Blumenthal 2: Prohibits children and other vulnerable populations in immigration detention from being held in solitary confinement
- Feinstein 5: Creates a pilot program under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA) to deter, detect, and prevent child trafficking by utilizing the services of independent child welfare professionals to assist CBP in the screening of children
- Franken 7: “HELP Separated Children Act” improves immigration enforcement policies to protect child well-being and promote family unity by ensuring that parents’ are able to make decisions regarding their child’s care at the time of apprehension, while in detention, and prior and following removal.
- Hirono 22: “Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act” provides additional services and protections for unaccompanied minors in CBP custody, including providing adequate medical care and conducting screening upon apprehension
- Klobuchar 1: Grants a child status who seeks derivative RPI status through their parent if the child is a victim of abuse by the principal alien parent
- Hirono 15: Provides Medicaid coverage for Compact Free Association (COFA) migrants, including children
Unfortunately there were some amendments that did not pass or could not be presented due to the sensitive balance in the Senate between the Republicans and Democrats.
- Blumenthal 1: “Little Dreamers” permits children to adjust to lawfully permanent resident (LPR) status after completing 5 years of registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status under the DREAM title if they are under the age of 18 at time of adjustment to LPR status
- Hirono 10: Allows citizens to petition for their son or daughter if their child’s absence from the U.S. is causing the citizen hardship, promoting family unity through the family based immigration system
- Hirono 13: Promotes family unity by allowing naturalized Dreamers and other naturalized immigrants to petition for parents while in RPI status
- Hirono 14: Allows RPIs to petition for their dependent spouse and children who are not physically present in the U.S. to become RPI dependents if they meet the other eligibility requirements
- Hirono 16: Removes the five-year waiting period for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for children, pregnant women, and lawfully present individuals, reducing the wait for children to be eligible for critical nutrition and health assistance
- Hirono 17: Allows time in RPI status to count towards five-year waiting period for federal means-tested benefits, so income-eligible children will not have to wait an additional 5 years for critical nutrition and health assistance following time in RPI and LPR status; also provides a state option to eliminate the five-year bar for Medicaid for LPRs, Dreamers, and blue-card holders
- Coons 13: Puts additional protections in place for immigration enforcement activities at sensitive locations, including schools, hospitals, churches, community centers to help mitigate the adverse impact of immigration enforcement on children and families