A group of California legislatures presented a 10-bill package Tuesday to reinforce the protection of undocumented immigrants and fight the “paralyzing politics” of Congress that has stalled the approval of immigration reform.
“In California we are around 40 million residents, the majority who have origins in Mexico, Central America and Asia. That is why today we are presenting a packet of 10 bills to protect undocumented immigrants,” Sen. Pro Tem Kevin de León told EFE Tuesday.
“With these proposed bills we want to make it clear throughout the country that in California we are inclusive and that with arms wide open we accept all immigrants who come to work to provide a better life for their families,” he said during a phone interview from Sacramento.
The press conference announcing the “Immigrants Shape California” legislative package was streamed live on YouTube and jointly chaired by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. Authors from both the senate and assembly outlined key details of their bills.
The senate leader is the author of Senate Bill 674, the Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act. “With this bill, the police or sheriff will have to provide a copy of the criminal complaints to undocumented [immigrant] applying for a U-Visa” to stay in the country, the senator explained. In “some cities the police refuse to provide the copy to undocumented individuals [who are he victims of crime] and there is no law to require them.”
A copy of the police report documenting domestic violence, aggravated assaults, and other crimes is required to apply for the federal Victims of Crime Visa (U-Visa).
The package of bills includes “Health Care for All,” a bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), that would give low-income undocumented immigrants access to Medi-Cal and higher income immigrants the ability to purchase unsubsidized health insurance from the state health care exchange, Covered California. It also contains various civil rights protections including for migrant children, and protections against “unscrupulous” employers. It also establishes the California Office of New Americans, which will focus on integrating immigrants into society.
“These laws that we are proposing in California could pass in The House, but they need the desire” to get it done, said De León, referring to immigration reform being stalled in Washington D.C.
The senator explained that is the reason “the bills were introduced in California with the hope that other states follow the lead.”
Joseph Villela, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) told EFE that “the paralyzed politics of legislators in Washington D.C. has made legislators move forward with these bills in California.”
He explained that since November a dozen organizations have united with senators and assemblymembers in California to present this bill package.
Villela divided the packaged of 10 bills into two categories: liberty and justice. “The package of liberty is for those undocumented immigrants to feel welcomed in California and to not fear going out into the streets,” he said.
EGP staff writers contributed to this report.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a task force to plan for implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration orders, despite a court order halting the programs.
If the two executive orders clear legal hurdles, they could defer deportation for nearly 500,000 Los Angeles-area residents
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl recommended the task force, which will include employees from departments that manage voting, consumer fraud, property taxes, hospitals, community and senior services, parks and libraries. Supervisor Michael Antonovich dissented in the 4-1 vote, saying the effort was premature.
“People have asked me, `Why now?”’ Solis said. “My response is, ‘Why not now?’ We need to prepare our community.”
While talking about the economic benefits of the immigration changes, Solis also raised concerns about fraud perpetrated by those looking to take advantage of immigrants when the programs roll out.
Research by UCLA’s North American Integration and Development Center estimate that offering work permits to roughly 466,000 immigrants in Los Angeles County could generate another $1.1 billion in tax revenues and 38,500 jobs.
“We would essentially legalize $25 billion … it would come out of the shadows and become part of the formal economy,” UCLA Associate Professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda told the board.
Hinojosa-Ojeda said immigration is “by no means solely a Mexican issue,” noting that “one out of every seven Asians in this country is undocumented.”
The two programs — Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — would allow an estimated 3.7 million parents of U.S.-born and resident children and another roughly 300,000 immigrants who arrived illegally as children to apply for work permits and temporary protection from deportation. Those totals are based on estimates from the Migration Policy Institute.
More than 600,000 people have already qualified under the 2012 DACA program, which offers protections to young people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children. That total represents about half of those eligible for the program.
The age cap under that program would be eliminated under the latest executive action.
The new programs were set to start accepting applications Feb. 18, but a federal district court judge in Texas issued an injunction halting the program, ruling in favor of 20-plus states, led by Texas, that challenged the executive actions.
Antonovich said he believes “immigration is vital to this country,” but the county should wait for the legal battle to play out.
Solis reminded her colleagues about the “fierce fight” around the original DACA order, while Kuehl said she was “confident” that the courts would ultimately approve the President’s action.
“We will not wait to prepare,” Kuehl said.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who joined Solis and Kuehl at a morning news conference to highlight his commitment to immigration, said the task force was “our opportunity to telegraph to the nation that we get it … Let’s accord everyone who we can a sense of dignity and respect.”
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor leader Rusty Hicks offered his union’s support.
“There is much about life that we don’t control. we don’t control the color of our skin, where we are born or who our parents are,” Hicks said, urging the supervisors to “keep (the) promise” of immigration.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s chief of immigrant affairs called Los Angeles “the epicenter for the implementation.” Garcetti, who has joined the mayors of several other cities in support of DACA and DAPA, had already reached out to county departments to coordinate, Solis said.
“Enrollment will result in economic gains and safer communities,” Garcetti chief Linda Lopez told the board.
In addition to objections raised in legal challenges to Obama’s action, those opposed to the task force raised concerns about immigrants competing for jobs and other resources.
“The county of Los Angeles has the highest poverty rate of any county in the state,” resident Kevin Lynn said. “If the optimistic projections that were voiced earlier … were anything but delusion, wouldn’t this county be experiencing less poverty and more prosperity?”
Those protected under the program would not be eligible for federal public benefits such as financial aid, food stamps or housing subsidies. Whether they would be eligible for state aid would be decided on a state-by-state basis.
Antonovich said he expected that the immigration changes would ultimately end up costing the county money.
“Counties, cities and states have to pick up the tab,” Antonovich said.
House Republicans on Wednesday narrowly approved five amendments aimed at overturning President Obama’s executive orders on immigration that would temporarily protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The amendments were attached to a $40 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, approved by a vote of 236-191.
Lawmakers voted 218-209 in favor of an amendment to eliminate funding for the president’s 2012 deferred action (DACA) program to allow hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children through no choice of their own, often referred to as DREAMers, to avoid deportation and receive work permits.
Another of the amendments would derail the Obama’s executive action last Novemeber extending DACA protections to the parents of U.S. born children.
It’s estimated that nearly 5 million immigrants in the country illegally would benefit from the two programs.
Saying Pres. Obama had gone too far when he used his executive powers to take action on immigration, House Speaker, John Boehner, said Republicans “had no choice” but to take action and overturn his orders.
However, about two-dozen Republicans voted against the proposal because their districts have a large number of Latinos.
The measures are expected to face a tough fight in the Senate, according to many observers.
The bill could also face a presidential veto, as Obama has warned.
Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat, said the vote by House Republicans’ comes following their refusal “to vote on the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote.”
He said the “changes to the Department of Homeland Security funding bill will separate families, end DACA, deport DREAMers and parents, instead of criminals, send American children to foster care, and harm our economy.”
El presidente, Barack Obama, invitó el último mes del 2014 a la oposición republicana a trabajar juntos y les recordó que, para sacar adelante leyes en migración o salario mínimo el Congreso tiene que contar con su firma.
En su última conferencia de prensa del año, Obama recogió las críticas de los republicanos y afirmó que “no existen evidencias” de que, si no hubiera sido por sus acciones ejecutivas, el Congreso menos productivo de la historia del país hubiera aprobado más leyes.
“Pretendo continuar con lo que he estado haciendo hasta ahora, que es ver cuáles son los grandes problemas y oportunidades para ayudar al pueblo estadounidense y seguiré aportando ayuda dentro de la autoridad que me confiere la ley”, defendió el mandatario.
Obama cree que “hay grandes oportunidades” dentro del Congreso para lograr acuerdos entre demócratas y republicanos, y destacó que los estadounidenses quieren ver a los dos partidos trabajando juntos.
“Prefiero hacerlo con ustedes”, dijo directamente a los republicanos, y prometió que seguirá conversando con ellos y con el resto de miembros del Congreso para invitarles a alcanzar acuerdos.
El presidente puso como ejemplo la ley sobre migración, que recibió el apoyo de los dos partidos en el Senado, pero que luego bloquearon los republicanos en la Cámara de Representantes.
“Estaba muy contento cuando el Senado aprobó una ley completa y con el apoyo de los dos partidos sobre inmigración. Hice todo lo posible durante un año y medio para dar a los republicanos el espacio para actuar”, afirmó el mandatario.
“Les mostré una gran paciencia y flexibilidad diciéndoles: vean si quieren hacer cambios específicos, estamos dispuestos a comprometernos, estamos dispuestos a ser pacientes y trabajar con ustedes”.
Pero nada se aprobó finalmente y, ante los dos últimos años de su mandato que restan con un Congreso republicano, Obama recordó a la oposición que existe una “solución simple” si sus acciones ejecutivas “les están molestando”.
“Aprueben leyes y trabajen conmigo para asegurarse de que firmo esas leyes. Porque ambas partes van a tener que comprometerse en muchos de esos temas. Para que sus iniciativas se conviertan en ley, voy a tener que firmarlas”, subrayó Obama.
Con todo, el mandatario dijo ser consciente de que habrá desacuerdos y prometió a los republicanos que encontrarán su oposición si tratan de “arrebatar el seguro médico a las personas que acaban de obtenerlo” o si intentan rebajar la protección de los consumidores.
“Diré que no -zanjó-, y estoy seguro de que voy a ser capaz de mantener los vetos de ese tipo de disposiciones”.
Rosa Martinez is not sure what she will be doing today for Thanksgiving.
Her family works long hours and money is short this year, so a big Thanksgiving dinner with the family may not be an option.
But no matter what she is doing, the sixty-seven-year-old undocumented immigrant says she will take time to give thanks that she is in this country, despite being among the 6 million undocumented who will not benefit from President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
On Monday, Martinez was busy gluing small pieces of brightly colored tiles to a mosaic mural, but happily broke from the task to listen to co-workers who gushed about how “very lucky” she was to not only see, but to touch Pres. Obama last Friday.
“Obama held both of my hands with his hands,” said Martinez excitedly, adding that “His hands were very cold.”
She told EGP it’s hard to explain the mixture of joy and sadness she felt watching Obama greet the nearly 2000 people gathered at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to hear details of his newly announced immigration reform orders.
It’s estimated five million people in the country illegally for at least five years will be able to avoid deportation for three years, if they are the parent of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident, or were brought to the country illegally as a child.
“The bottom line is, mass amnesty would be unfair, but mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our country’s character,” said the president during his speech at Del Sol High School. “This is not just a Latino issue, this is an American issue,” Obama said.
Lea este artículo en Español: Presidente Obama Comienza a Detallar Su Plan de Acción Ejecutiva
Martinez told EGP she won’t qualify for the president’s executive action because none of her six (adult) children living in the U.S. were born here nor are they permanent residents. But she’s ecstatic that three of her children will qualify because they have U.S. born children.
“Hopefully they can also travel and visit my mother,” said Martinez who hasn’t seen her mother in 14 years.
Martinez was one of two people from the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) to travel with 30 members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) to Las Vegas to hear the president speak.
“I want to make sure that [the president] doesn’t forget about us, the ones who didn’t qualify,” said Martinez, echoing statements welcoming the president’s actions but saying it does not go far enough.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), one of eight senators who pushed for a bi-partisan immigration reform measure in 2013, was also in Las Vegas to hear Obama’s speech. He told EGP there is still time for the Congress to act, but added that of House Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring the Senate’s immigration reform bill up for a vote. Democrats will work very hard to ensure “everybody eligible” under the president’s executive action who qualifies for deferred action applies, Menendez said.
“Republicans cannot repeal” the president’s order if millions of people have signed on, “there’s a greater security in numbers,” he said.
The president’s action has received push back from Republicans and others who claim his actions are unconstitutional. About 20 people protested across the street from the high school where the president was speaking. They carried banners calling him the “emperor,” referring to his acting unilaterally. “Americans only welcome ‘legal’ residents to the country,” protesters said.
Wendy Willis told EGP she was very upset with the president’s order. “It felt like a slap in the face,” she said angrily. “[Illegals] should stand in line. My friend waited in line for years, they should do the same thing,” Willis said.
“Send them back,” anti-immigrant protesters yelled repeatedly.
Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting social and economic justice through civic engagement, called the president’s actions “historical.”
“I hope I can see the same commitment from the Republicans, that instead of blocking what the president has done, they find a solution because we need a bill,” he said.
During a conference call with the media Tuesday, Marielena Incapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said although the order is temporary, it’s “a huge victory.”
She also cautioned against scam artists who will try to take advantage of people.
“There’s nothing to apply for at the moment, there’s no reason to pay for anything,” she explained, adding the plan will not go into effect until 2015.
“It is estimated that DACA expansion applications will start on Feb. 20 and the rest on May 20,” said Incapie.
“People tell the immigrant community that if they pay a fee now they can get in front of the line. That’s a lie,” echoed Sally Kinoshita, deputy director with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.
As for Martinez, she still has hope that action will eventually be taken to help people like her, searching for a better life and willing to work hard.
“We couldn’t get the whole group today, but one day we will.”
Who will benefit:
- Parents with U.S. born children or permanent residents—who came to the U.S. before 2010—will obtain a relief from deportation and receive a work permit for three years.
- Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) will expand to people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 (prior to January 1st, 2010) Allowing them to apply for a work permit and social security number, no matter their current age.
- Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents can apply for a waiver to stay in the U.S. while waiting for their green card, without the need to wait outside the country.
- Those who qualify for executive action may be able to travel outside the country with an authorization called Advanced Parole.
Steps to take:
- Applicants must pass a background check
- Show proof of residency and relationship of U.S. born/permanent resident children where applicable
- Pay an application fee (estimated $465 + attorney’s fees)
- Start paying taxes
Who does not qualify for the Executive Action:
- Individuals who do not have children born in U.S. or children who are permanent residents
- Individuals who only have DACA qualified –‘Dreamer’- children
- Dreamers who arrived to the country after the age of 16
- Farmworkers with no children
The application process has not yet been announced. People can stay up to date by checking the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website at www.uscis.gov/es/accionmigratoria. They should also confirm the lawyer the hire specializes in immigration. This can be done http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx.
Una organización de Los Ángeles lanzó el sábado una campaña con miras a otorgar una “protección permanente” a los “dreamers” que cuentan con un permiso de residencia temporal, ante al peligro de que los jóvenes indocumentados pierdan este beneficio cuando el próximo mandatario del país empiece a ejercer funciones.
“Pedimos una resolución del presidente Obama que garantice la estabilidad y un permiso permanente de residencia para estos jóvenes que se han beneficiado del Programa de Acción Diferida [DACA]”, dijo a Efe Osvaldo Cabrera, director de la Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional (CLI), entidad que promueve la iniciativa.
La campaña se hizo pública el sábado en un acto celebrado en la Placita Olvera del centro de Los Ángeles, con motivo de la celebración del Día de la Madre, y quiere recoger firmas de votantes registrados en los próximos tres meses que serán presentadas luego en la Casa Blanca y el Congreso.
“Estaremos buscando las firmas de los ciudadanos que estén de acuerdo con apoyar estos jóvenes en una docena de estados, con mayoría de población latina, para mostrarle al presidente y al Congreso que la gente estadounidense respalda esta iniciativa”, explicó Cabrera.
Entre el mes de agosto de 2012, cuando comenzaron a recibirse las solicitudes para el programa DACA, y el término del primer trimestre de 2014 se aceptaron más de 610.000 aplicaciones para este beneficio migratorio, puesto en marcha tras una orden administrativa emitida por el presidente Obama.
De acuerdo al último reporte de los servicios de Inmigración y Ciudadanía, del total de solicitudes presentadas se han aprobado alrededor de 521.000 expedientes.
Con cerca de 154.000 aplicaciones, California es el estado con más solicitudes aprobadas, un dato que impulsó a los organizadores a lanzar su campaña desde Los Ángeles, una de las ciudades del país con mayor población indocumentada.