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Chasing The Political And Legal Illusions Of Immigration Reform

– Posted in: Immigration Reform

If you’re looking for information about immigration reform, it’s not hard to find.

On the surface, immigration news is everywhere. But look a little deeper, listen a little closer, and immigration reform vanishes into thin air.

The more the goal posts of reform are moved, the less the proposed legislation looks immigrant-oriented.

And if the bill is not geared to immigrant families, can it honestly be called immigration reform?

When I hear the words “immigration reform,” I imagine changes which help immigrants and their family members become full-fledged members of American society.

Back in November 2012, so did most immigrants, immigrant advocates, and immigration activists.

The current immigration proposal falls far short of such expectations.

It seems clear that many of those elected to Congress last year have never intended to pass meaningful and compassionate immigration reform. Helping immigrants was not their priority. Rather, their primary goal is to secure their reelections next fall.

Nonetheless, many immigrants and their supporters continue to march, call their representatives, and hold rallies on behalf of passing the current legislation.

What propaganda have they been exposed to?

Why such a disconnect between truth and fiction?

Introducing Immigration Curation

This post introduces a new source of information for our readers, Immigration Curation. We plan to post links to online stories, articles, and blog posts to help keep immigrants and their families informed about immigration law, policy, and politics.

Every so often, we’ll even add short clips of personalized commentary and insights, bringing light to the less obvious aspects of immigration news.

In this edition, for instance, you’ll learn why:

  • Some Immigrants Are Already Citizens
  • Harvard Law School Opened A Crimmigration Course
  • Immigration Polls Cannnot Be Trusted
  • Black Immigrants Feel Marginalized
  • Paul Ryan’s Reform Vision Is Not Based On Immigrant Needs

Citizenship News Curation

Many Children Of Immigrants Don’t Know They’re Already U.S. Citizens
(Latin America Herald Tribune)

Most non-immigration insiders think proving U.S. citizenship is an easy matter.

It’s not.

A large number of Latinos do not know that they are already U.S. citizens and, after living for years as undocumented, discover this fact when they begin the process of regularizing their immigration situation.

“In some cases,” explains Lisa Pray, a Colorado immigration attorney, “the parents returned with their children to their countries of origin and never told them they were born here. In other cases, they know they were born here, but the parents obtained a false birth certificate in Mexico, and so now they have lots of problems proving they were really born in the United States.”

Strangely, many of these cases turn into all-out wars. Government officials are distrusting of such claims and the evidence they require often goes beyond what is reasonable.

This is especially true in those cases involving acquisition of citizenship, a term used to describe the situation where a child is born outside the U.S. and one of the parents was a U.S. citizen.

Of course, creating paths to citizenship is one of the ultimate evils to immigration reform opponents.

Deportation Defense News Curation

Clinical Opportunities And A New Class At The Intersection Of Immigration And Criminal Law
(Harvard Law School News, August 12, 2013)

For several years, I’ve been telling immigrants who are facing criminal charges to look for lawyers who understand criminal defense for U.S. citizens is not the same as criminal defense for immigrants.

I’m glad to note my alma mater has taken the lead in creating law school curriculum to reflect this distinction.

“These cases are challenging because the law around who is eligible for immigration relief when there is criminal activity in the past is really difficult to navigate, and the avenues for relief are really limited even for people who have very strong claims for immigration relief,” says Phil Torrey, who worked on a number of crimmigration cases as a legal fellow at Greater Boston Legal Services before joining the Harvard Law School staff.

“It’s an area that’s continuing to grow and will continue to be an issue for a while, so educating our students—as lawyers of tomorrow—is really important.”

With scant, if any, attention being paid to our immigration detention and deportation policies in current reform discussions, Professor Torrey’s prognosis for the future is on target.

Immigration Politics News Curation

Why We Can’t Trust Polls On Immigration, In One Horribly Xenophobic Chart
(Tech Crunch, August 15, 2013)

Leave it to the tech guys to admit what immigration activists have been ignoring for several months.

Immigration polls lie and political liars use immigration polls.

In the Tech Crunch poll, a majority of all Americans (53%) and a whopping 74% of Republicans want to kick out every undocumented immigrant.

More importantly, the results from our on-going CrunchGov Poll find that roughly the same percentage (64%) want to grant a pathway to citizenship as kick them all out. Confused?

You should be, because both of those views are diametrically opposed.

Will Reform Help Black Immigrants?
(The Root, July 17, 2013)

Having been subjected to several years of misleading media and political sound bites on immigration, it’s easy to understand the public confusion on most immigration issues.

For instance, as a Riverside immigration lawyer, I’m often asked questions about immigration from individuals I meet at social functions. Several perceive immigration as a Latino issue. They’re normally shocked to learn immigration problems are not exclusive to one nationality.

This blindness not only harms the development of comprehensive solutions, but also various ethnic communities living in different areas throughout the United States.

“I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that the immigrant of African descent has been invisible, and certainly wouldn’t say they’ve been excluded,” says Rep. Yvette Clark, a Democrat representing New York’s 9th District in Congress, an area that includes Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to hundreds of thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants. Yet, she adds, “I would say that our interests have been somewhat marginalized.”

I respectfully disagree in part with the Congresswoman. I believe African and Caribbean immigrants have been excluded and are nearly invisible from the larger immigration reform debate. I agree, however, that their concerns have been marginalized, not somewhat, but quite a bit.

Paul Ryan Lays Out Immigration Proposals In Racine Town Hall Meeting
(Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2013)

The worst part of such confusion is that the legislation being billed as immigration reform is not truly immigrant friendly, as Paul Ryan made clear in a recent Town Hall gathering, and yet pro-immigrant advocates continue to push for to get passed.

“A lot of people are saying, just pass the Senate bill,” Ryan said. “That’s not what the House is going to do.

“I think we can make it better.”

“I’m not doing this for politics,” Ryan later said. “I think it’s the right thing to do for the country.”

Ryan said in the House, where the Republicans are in the majority, the intent “is to bring about five or six bills…to fix these problems in our immigration laws one step at a time in a comprehensive way.”Ryan said negotiations are underway to bring “these various bills to the floor of Congress.”

“Tentatively, October, we’re going to vote on these bills,” Ryan said. “We’re going to vote on a border security bill, we’re going to vote on an interior enforcement bill, like the workplace verification and the visa tracking. We’re going to vote on a legal immigration bill for visas, for agricultural workers, for skilled workers.”

Ryan, an ardent supporter of self-deportation policies as a Vice-President candidate just last year, wants us to believe he is pushing immigration reform for non-political reasons?

If you listen to him carefully, however, you’ll hear that the pending legislation is not really about immigrants.

So why call it immigration reform?

By, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics