A whole summer of advocacy
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Hello Andrea,

In July and August, we ramped up federal advocacy to ensure budget reconciliation did not leave immigrants behind, even as an adverse ruling on DACA seemed to set us back. But we are gaining: immigrant legalization funding stayed in the budget and we are preparing for mass legalization. We also update the Jaddou confirmation and other budget talks, and we invite you to sign our petition!

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom supported/signed key CHIRLA initiatives. Below, we list some we are still watching and show our GOTV work in the state's recall election. Locally, we update the Immigrants are LA campaign, the removal of barriers to immigrant employment with the county/city, and a local measure to protect freelance workers. Please read on!

DACA Ruling
On July 16, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was both unlawfully created and unlawful as a program. He issued an injunction that:

  • Denied first-time applications after July 16. USCIS can receive and maybe process them without approving. The ruling excluded thousands of pending applications stuck in a USCIS backlog.
  • Allowed continued processing and approval of renewals including work permits. Advance parole remains an option for these and all other current DACA holders.
  • Did not specify any enforcement action to take against DACA holders or those now unable to receive DACA.

American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) D.C. delegation
CHIRLA joined the ABIC Week of Action on July 21-25 to push legalization through bipartisanship/reconciliation. CHIRLA met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-34) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-40). Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director, participated in ABIC’s press conference wiht Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Catholic Cardinal Wilton Gregory.

Meeting with Vice President Harris
CHIRLA's Ms. Salas attended a July 22 White House meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and the We Are Home campaign to discuss the Hanen ruling. Diana Bautista, an 18-year-old CHIRLA member, attended virtually and shared her view on the ruling and her story.

At that meeting, Harris clearly sided with immigrants and will use her power to advance a path to citizenship for them.

President Biden supported legalization when he met days later with 11 members of Congress, including Sen. Alex
Padilla, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-31), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-19), Rep. Roybal-Allard, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-36), and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-38).

Ur Mendoza Jaddou Confirmed as USCIS Director
We are thrilled to note that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a Senate-confirmed director again, the first since mid-2019. On July 30, Ur Mendoza Jaddou got the nod. CHIRLA submitted a letter supporting Ms. Jaddou’s confirmation.

Ready to Stay Coalition: Preparing for Legalization
In July, the Ready to Stay Coalition, co-chaired by Ms. Salas, launched its multi-language website with a directory of nonprofit immigration legal service providers, legalization updates, and ways to help.

The national coalition comprises 18 organizations coordinating current legal services, including DACA/TPS renewal and processing of Liberian refugees. They are also building capacity to enact large-scale legalization in the future.

On August 19, the coalition hosted its first congressional briefing for district and D.C. offices on available resources and ways that practitioners can put in place large-scale immigration policy changes. CHIRLA Attorney Navil Canal joined the panel to discuss  DACA processing and backlogs.

Budget Reconciliation and a Path to Citizenship

In July and August, we ensured immigrant legalization stayed in the Build Back Better package. As Congress works on passing a physical infrastructure bill (the American Jobs Plan), CHIRLA and its partners say immigrants must be part of a human infrastructure bill (the American Families Plan).

On August 24, the House voted 220-212 along party lines to pass the budget resolution as part of the larger H. Res. 601. This advances the reconciliation process to pass the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. The framework resolution includes $107 billion to create a path to citizenship for millions of young undocumented immigrants, TPS holders, immigrant essential workers, and farm workers.

The Senate passed the resolution on August 11 by a 50-49 vote along party lines. During an all-night vote, Republicans filed dozens of anti-immigrant amendments. Some got a vote, including one that tried to exclude people who have been in the criminal justice system. It was defeated. We expect more of these attacks once there is a bill.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees now will draft the reconciliation bill, and it will have language that outlines conditions and eligibility for citizenship. CHIRLA supports including as many undocumented immigrants as possible, by any means available. One way is to provide a path for young undocumented immigrants, TPS holders, essential workers and farmworkers, as envisioned in existing legislation. Another is a change in the registry date.

The Registry Date

Updating the registry could make green cards available to a broader group of undocumented immigrants. The registry, which allows immigrants who were here before a specified date to apply for a green card, is part of existing law. Congress last updated the registry date in 1986, as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The date moved up from 1948 to January 1, 1972.

Because there has been no revamp of the registry, it's useless for most immigrants unless they arrived before 1972. An update to 2010 or 2015 helps long-term residents who have worked and contributed to the U.S. for decades. Please see CHIRLA’s one-pager.

Appropriations and the Federal Budget
CHIRLA remains active in the appropriations process, ensuring Congress uses our tax dollars to help--not harm-- immigrants. In addition to working with Defund Hate to shrink the deportation/detention budget, CHIRLA supports two priority programs:

  • USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grants: Funds organizations helping immigrants become U.S. citizens. The House Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Roybal-Allard, agreed to raise funding by 50 percent, to $15 million. We welcome this increase, but join our allies at the National Partnership for New Americans, NALEO and Unidos US in reiterating that this item should be $100 million, to cure the previous administration's damage.
  • Department of Justice Legal Representation: This pilot helps certain deportable immigrants get lawyers to represent them. Aside from some unaccompanied children, the government does not pay for legal counsel for immigrants. In July, a House appropriations subcommittee passed a $50 million bill to create a pilot to do that. This effort, led by Rep. Norma Torres (D-35), more than triples what President Biden asked for in his budget.

The government must dedicate much more to complement allocations in states. With allies at the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigrant Justice Center, we seek an increase to $200 million, as requested by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Padilla, and others.

You can help us tell legislators to create a long-overdue path to citizenship for everyone by signing CHIRLA’s YES TO IMMIGRANTS FORWARD petition. Thank you!

On July 27, Gov. Newsom signed SB 133, which expands Medicaid access to seniors 50 and older, regardless of immigration status -- about 235,000 people. This is a major victory for CHIRLA and a milestone in the healthcare fight for all Californians.

On August 23, Newsom wrote a letter to congressional leaders calling for immigration reform and a path to citizenship, highlighting the positive impact this would have on California. And on Aug. 24, he met with CHIRLA and other community groups to celebrate SB 133, as well as investments in naturalization and DACA.

Here are are bills CHIRLA is watching and supporting for the rest of this year:

SB 334 (Durazo) Detention facilities contracts
Requires private detention centers to get insurance coverage from providers licensed by the state. It also requires the facilities to send an annual compliance report to the insurance commissioner. This creates transparent operations and conditions in these centers, which are notorious for human rights violations.  

AB 600 (Arámbula) Hate crimes, immigration status
Would expand the definition of nationality to include immigration status, thereby making it a hate crime to commit a crime against someone because of their actual or perceived immigration status.

AB 256 (Kalra) Racial Justice Act 2.0
Building off of the original Racial Justice Act, which addressed racial bias in criminal courts, this bill makes that law retroactive and phases in gradually to allow manageable court workloads. It affects those harmed before January 1, 2021.  

AB 937 (Carrillo) VISION Act
Keeps state/local agencies from arresting or helping arrest, detain, or otherwise hold a person to enforce immigration. This is especially critical if charges are dropped or the person qualifies for release or parole.

Don’t forget to vote!
CHIRLA is working in communities throughout California to inform voters of the September 14 special election, making sure they know how and when to return ballots or vote in person in their community. See our page!

Los Angeles County

Immigrants Are LA: In July, the Board of Supervisors approved $975 million in first-round spending for American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief/recovery. Immigrants Are LA ensured $12.5 million went to legal services, nutrition, childcare, and other immigrant programs. It is working for their fair share of another $166 million. Watch a news clip of the July 21 rally outside supervisors' chambers.

Waiving the citizenship rule for LA County employment:
In May, supervisors told counsel to explore waiving citizenship/voter registration rules for LA County employment. Counsel said supervisors can waive these rules in most cases.
On August 10, Sups. Solis and Kuehl moved to ask the county to waive citizenship/voter registration rules for positions where possible. Future postings will not carry these requirements except where mandated by state/federal law. CHIRLA submitted a supporting letter.

City of Los Angeles
City council actions we are watching: At their August 17-18 meeting, city council members introduced motions to expand career apprenticeship programs and explore city-sponsored protection for freelancers:

  • Expanding Career Apprenticeship Program: Council voted unanimously to invest $166,000 in apprenticeships coordinated by the Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD). The city can target specific groups to advance equity in job opportunities.

  • Freelance Isn’t Free: Councilmembers Blumberg and De Leon moved to ask the EWDD, the Bureau of Contract Administration and the city attorney to draft recommendations for a local Freelance Isn't Free Act similar to one adopted in New York in 2016. The measure establishes timelines for payment and protects freelancers from wage theft. This motion will likely include domestic workers, day laborers and caregivers in its definitions, categories that protect immigrant workers. The motion passed unanimously.

The policy team at CHIRLA is:

Joseph Villela   
Luz Castro
Carl Bergquist
Rita Medina
Esperanza Guevara
Maria José Vides

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