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House Dems urge Brown to sign TRUST Act

Gov. Jerry Brown got a letter from 28 California House Democrats this week urging him to sign the TRUST Act, which would limit how the state’s law enforcement officers cooperate with federal immigration efforts.

The lawmakers – including all but two of the Bay Area’s House members – wrote that the bill “sets clear, uniform standards to limit burdensome detentions of aspiring citizens by local law enforcement solely on the basis of federal immigration detainer requests. The measure is designed to enhance public safety and protect civil liberties, while also promoting fiscal responsibility at the state and local levels.”

More than 100,000 people have been deported from California under federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, the lawmakers noted. “Civic and faith leaders from California and across the nation have forcefully argued that we should not deport today those who could be on the road to citizenship tomorrow.”

Furthermore, there’s evidence that S-Comm has reduced crime victims’ willingness to cooperate with police lest they themselves end up being deported, and that’s not good for public safety, the House members wrote.

Brown vetoed a version of the TRUST Act last year. But the lawmakers noted the current version – AB 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco – “gives law enforcement much broader discretion to honor detainer requests.”

“It will ensure that those who have not been convicted of any crime, have only been convicted of minor crimes, or those who are only identified by the S-Comm program because of their immigration history are not held on costly and unfair federal immigration detainers,” they wrote.

The only Bay Area House members who didn’t sign the letter were Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. A Speier staffer said she hasn’t talked to Ammiano about the bill yet, and “she wants to do that before she takes a position.” McNerney’s office didn’t immediately answer an e-mail seeking comment.

The Assembly passed AB 4 with a 44-22 vote on May 16. It now awaits a state Senate floor vote; if it passes, it’ll go to Brown’s desk.

UPDATE @ 12:25 P.M.: “I support the sentiment of the TRUST Act,” McNerney said by email. “We need change in our country in the form of comprehensive immigration reform. Our country is founded on a long and proud immigrant history, and we need to find a clear path to citizenship for the law-abiding and hard-working people who want to join the United States of America. These people deserve a defined and manageable path to citizenship.”

Posted on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Assembly, Barbara Lee, California State Senate, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Immigration, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sacramento, Sam Farr, Tom Ammiano, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 3 Comments »

GOP donors urge action on immigration reform

More than a dozen prominent Republican campaign donors and donor groups from California wrote to the state’s GOP House members Tuesday, urging them to pass substantive immigration reform this year.

“We believe that it is the responsibility of our elected leaders to ensure that our laws keep us safe and help our economy grow. Our current immigration system does neither,” the GOP donors wrote. “It rewards law-breakers at the expense of those who follow the rules. It turns away talented workers who can help our economy. And, by not controlling our borders, it makes all Americans less safe.

“Doing nothing is de facto amnesty. We need to take control of whom we let in our country and we need to make sure everybody plays by the same rules.”

The letter was signed by:

  • Former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Frank Baxter of Los Angeles
  • San Diego-area developer James S. Brown and his wife, Marilyn, of Jamul
  • David Hanna, chairman and CEO of FHP Wireless Inc. & Hanna Ventures LLC, of Laguna Beach
  • conservative writer David Horowitz of Laguna Niguel
  • Diving Unlimited founder Dick Long of San Diego
  • former San Francisco Giants managing partner Peter Magowan of San Francisco
  • CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder of Santa Barbara
  • Orange County Business Journal publisher and CEO Richard Reisman of Laguna Beach
  • former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Tuttle of Los Angeles
  • Hispanic 100
  • Lincoln Club of Orange County
  • New Majority Orange County
  • New Majority San Diego
  • Many of them also were among 102 from across the nation who co-signed a letter going to all Republican House members.

    “Immigrants coming to this country for a better life have helped build and sustain America. They are a vital part of our future prosperity. They remind us of our potential as a free people,” Puzder said in a news release. “If our great nation is to continue to grow and prosper, we need to reform and modernize the U.S. immigration system. I strongly encourage the California Republican Congressional Delegation to strengthen our nation by working with their House colleagues to advance substantial immigration reform legislation this year.”

    Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
    Under: campaign finance, Immigration, Republican politics | No Comments »

    Barbara Lee, Jeff Denham do immigration forums

    House members near and far, and from both sides of the aisle, are holding forums to hear their constituents’ thoughts on immigration reform.

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will join with community leaders and activists for a forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26, at St. Elizabeth’s High School, 1530 34th Ave. in Oakland, with testimony from East Bay residents.

    Lee’s office says she “been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform to address our broken immigration system” and “is committed to developing a comprehensive immigration policy that is fair, preserves family unity, promotes long-term economic growth, and includes a clear roadmap to citizenship.”

    Next week and far away, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, will hold two similar forums – one on April 2 in Modesto, and another on April 3 in Manteca. He’ll be joined by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, at both listening sessions.

    “As your Congressman, I’d like to hear from you about the critical issues facing our country and our community,” Denham said in a news release. “From creating fair and respectful immigration policies, to helping to create good paying jobs, and improving our children’s schools, we have a lot of work to do, and the answers are going to come from people like you – not the bureaucrats in Washington.”

    Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Lee, Immigration, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    Zoe Lofgren introduces Refugee Protection Act

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren and U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced bills in the House and Senate Thursday that they said would improve protection of refugees and asylum-seekers coming to the United States to flee persecution in their home nations.

    Their Refugee Protection Act would reform the expedited removal process for asylum seekers pursuing their claims before the Asylum Office of the Department of Homeland Security. The bill requires the immigration detention system to adhere to basic humane treatment for asylum seekers and others with access to counsel, religious practice, and visits from family.

    It also strengthens the law so those with actual ties to terrorist activities will continue to be denied entry to the United States. But the authors say it will protect innocent asylum seekers and refugees from being unfairly denied as a result of overly broad terrorism bars that over time have inadvertently swept in those who were actually victimized by terrorists.

    “Americans have long been a compassionate people, offering a safe harbor to victims of devastating calamities and survivors of tortuous, brutal regimes,” Lofgren, D-San Jose, said in her news release. “The legislation we’re introducing today not only continues that proud tradition, it makes several needed improvements to ensure we can help those seeking freedom from persecution and oppression abroad.”

    Lofgren is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Her bill is cosponsored by Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton; John Conyers, D-Mich.; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; and Peter Welch, D-Vt. The Senate version is cosponsored by Senators Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; and and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

    “The Senate will soon turn to comprehensive immigration reform and the changes to the refugee system contained in this bill are a critical component of fixing our broken immigration system,” said Leahy, D-Vt. “As we address the many complex issues that face our immigration system, we must ensure that America upholds its longstanding commitment to refugee protection.”

    Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2013
    Under: Immigration, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 3 Comments »

    Lawmakers react to Obama immigration speech

    Here’s how some of the Bay Area’s members of Congress responded to President Obama’s call for immigration reform today.

    From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security:

    “Today I heard the President call for our country to take up the great work of comprehensive immigration reform. He voiced his full support for many of the principles I have worked to advance my entire life both as a Member of Congress and before that as a young immigration lawyer. Like the President, I believe we have an historic opportunity to fix the nation’s broken immigration system from top to bottom in a bipartisan fashion so it works for families and our economy.

    “I’ve never forgotten my immigrant roots. My grandfather immigrated to America from Sweden, walking off the boat early in the 20th century with little more than a strong desire to make a better life in America. He didn’t finish school and always spoke with a heavy accent. But he was so proud of his U.S. citizenship that he hung his framed certificate on the wall. With a lifetime of hard work, his family built better lives for themselves and their children to pursue the American Dream, and today his granddaughter is a Member of Congress. Immigration forged our country into the great nation that we are today, and now more than ever it will be key to driving the United States forward in this new century.”

    From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

    “I am encouraged by the momentum to address immigration reform. As a nation of immigrants we need a comprehensive plan that promotes equity, long term growth and economic well-being. I will continue to fight for a plan that strengthens families, builds the American workforce and provides a roadmap for every American that aspires to citizenship.”

    From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

    “I applaud President Obama for his extraordinary leadership in this momentous effort to forge long overdue comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday, a Senate bipartisan working group released an unprecedented set of core legislative principles to resolve our broken immigration system. Today, President Obama advanced this promising and historic moment, outlining a vision that embraces our nation’s long-standing traditions for protecting all families, including same-sex partners, and accepting the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

    “Under the President’s leadership, we are on the verge of reform that will bring millions of people out of the shadows and honor the dreams of brilliant and hard-working students, youth who are essentially Americans without social security numbers. Our country nears the possibility of greater technological innovation and economic prosperity, where persons with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be allowed to join our workforce and advance our nation’s global economic competitiveness.

    “There is no question that our broken immigration system has torn countless families apart and brought great fear and pain to our communities. There are currently over 4.55 million people, including 1.96 million Asian and Pacific Islanders, in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with their loved ones. Asian American and Pacific Islanders are disproportionately impacted by bureaucratic immigration delays. Families in my district, particularly those from China, India, and the Philippines, suffer from the most extreme backlog, often waiting decades before receiving a green card.

    “There are tens of thousands of LGBT families in immigration limbo throughout the country, prohibited from sponsoring their partners for residency. Judy Rickard, a constituent from my district in California, and her same-sex, bi-national partner are being torn apart by unjust immigration laws. Judy and others face an unequal reality compared with heterosexual couples.

    “Next month, to address an outdated, inefficient, and discriminatory immigration system, I will reintroduce the Reuniting Families Act, a bill that reunites families by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses, children, and same-sex, bi-national partners as ‘immediate relatives,’ and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration. This legislation will reduce visa backlog and relieve families from prolonged and unnecessary separation and heartache.

    “As Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian and Pacific Caucus (CAPAC) and LGBT Caucus vice-chair, I offer my utmost gratitude to President Obama for calling for the reunification of all families, regardless of sexual orientation, and the elimination of discrimination in immigration law against same-sex partners. We must never forget the teachings and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ We must never cease to protect the rights, visibility, and equal treatment of the most vulnerable among us. Our nation will be made stronger through reform that is comprehensive and inclusive, humane and just.”

    More after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
    Under: Barbara Lee, George Miller, Immigration, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

    Honda claims victory on LGBT immigration issue

    Rep. Mike Honda is declaring victory after a decision that LGBT relationships will be considered just like any other family relationships in exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration and deportation matters.

    In a letter sent in late July, Honda – along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and 82 other House members – had asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to explicitly recognize in writing that the ties of a same-sex partner or spouse can be a positive factor for discretionary relief in immigration enforcement deportation cases. A June 2011 memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, dealing with prioritizing ICE’s resources and reducing excessive deportations, had said a key positive factor in exercising prosecutorial discretion is a “person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships.”

    Napolitano responded yesterday.

    honda.jpg“After many conversations with President Obama’s administration, a strong push by the LGBT community, and with the help of my colleagues, Secretary Napolitano has announced that she will disseminate written guidance to immigration authorities that confirms the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ to include LGBT relationships — specifically the relationships of immigrants in same-sex marriages and partnerships with U.S. citizens,” Honda said today.

    Honda said this small win underscores the need for more comprehensive immigration reform. “Current immigration laws are tearing families apart and separating American citizens from their loves ones. No one should have to choose between their spouse and their country, and no family should be left out of the immigration system.”

    Honda, D-Campbell, is the author of the Reuniting Families Act, H.R. 1796, which would recapture family and work visas that have gone unused and unclaimed due to bureaucratic delay; reduce the long backlog for families trying to reunite with their loved ones by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses and children as “immediate relatives” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration; provide equal treatment for all stepchildren and biological children under immigration laws; and more.

    Honda said that bill “reunites same-sex couples and protects the civil rights of LGBT individuals and ensures that they are treated equitably through an immigration reform that is both comprehensive and inclusive.”

    “The United States is a nation built upon the toil of immigrants hoping to build better lives for themselves and their families,” he said. “Our country deserves an immigration system that honors that legacy and keeps all families intact.”

    Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
    Under: Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

    Romney names Pete Wilson honorary CA chair

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today announced the endorsement of former California Gov. Pete Wilson, and named him the Romney campaign’s honorary California chairman.

    “I’m honored to have Governor Pete Wilson’s support, because he’s one of California’s most accomplished leaders. As governor of California from 1991 to 1999, he led California from the depths of recession to prosperous economic recovery,” Romney said in a news release. “Taking office with an inherited revenue gap of over $14 million, he left his successor a surplus of over $12.5 million. Insisting on strict budget discipline and rehabilitation of the state’s then-hostile environment toward investment and job creation, Pete persuaded Democratic Legislative majorities to enact dramatic tax and regulatory relief especially helpful to small businesses.”

    Wilson, in the same release, called Romney “an enthusiastic believer in American exceptionalism and has been a spectacular example of it: Mitt has been a success in creating American private sector jobs, a success as the rescuer of the Salt Lake City Olympic games, and as a public chief executive as the Republican governor in the challenging environment of heavily Democratic Massachusetts.”

    “It is clear that he will be a success in the White House, as the strong leader America so desperately needs to reverse the unprecedented and utterly irresponsible borrowing, taxing and spending of the Obama administration,” Wilson said. “And as the most electable top of our ticket, his candidacy will attract the support of Republican, Independent and wise Democratic voters, and is rightly seen by down-ticket Republican candidates as the nominee most beneficial to them in their own races. He is the leader we need to rescue this great nation from the tragedy of a second Obama term that threatens grave and perhaps irreparable harm to both our economy and our national security. Mitt Romney will provide the leadership to create the confidence and certainty of judgment needed to stimulate investment that creates jobs rather than green taxpayer-funded bankruptcies. He will restore America’s strength and credibility, and win back respect for America from both our friends and our enemies.”

    It should be interesting to see if this affects Romney’s chances with California’s significant Latino voter bloc, which certainly had no love for Wilson – his support of Proposition 187 of 1994 might’ve burned that bridge forever, as evidenced by Latino leaders’ reaction to Wilson’s support of Meg Whitman in 2010.

    UPDATE @ 2:01 P.M.: “I think it will add to what has been a pretty consistently negative message from the Romney campaign to Latino voters in California and across the nation,” said UC-Irvine political science and Chicano/Latino studies professor Louis DeSipio, an expert in Latino politics and voting.

    Most Latino voters old enough to remember Prop. 187 won’t feel good about Wilson, he said, and “in the interim he hasn’t endeared himself to Latinos with his work for Meg Whitman, for example.”

    “To the extent that the Romney campaign reaches out to Latino organizations, I think this will be an added barrier for them,” DeSipio said.

    UPDATE @ 3:11 P.M.: Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said he thinks this means “that he’s getting really bad campaign advice.”

    “Anybody on the ground in California who was hoping to peel away Latino voters in a general election wouldn’t put Pete Wilson front and center,” Vargas said. “To me it’s baffling. Meg Whitman learned what a mistake that was for her to do the same in 2010 when she ran for governor – it certainly didn’t work for her.”

    Exit polls showed Whitman won only about a third of California’s Latino vote.

    Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012
    Under: 2012 presidential election, Immigration, Mitt Romney | 3 Comments »

    SF tech exec will be First Lady’s guest at SOTU

    Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger of San Francisco will be among the First Lady’s guests at the State of the Union tomorrow night, a White House official said – a sign that President Obama probably will speak about the need for immigration policy reform that welcomes and retains high-tech talent from abroad.

    Instagram is a free iPhone application that lets a user snap a photo; choose a filter to transform the image’s colors, mood, border, and tonality; and then share it via Facebook, Twitter or Flickr.

    Mike Krieger, in an Instagrammed photo Krieger was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to California in 2004 to study computer science and cognitive science at Stanford University. After graduation, he worked for a year on his F-1 student visa and then later received an H-1B visa as a high-skilled worker; he’s now seeking a green card.

    He and Kevin Systrom co-founded Instagram in 2010. TechCrunch reported in October that Systrom said Instagram had passed the 12 million user mark and continued to grow white-hot, carried in part by intense interest in Asia.

    According to Instagram’s website, the company raised a $500,000 seed round from Andreessen-Horowitz and Baseline Ventures, and a $7 million Series A from Benchmark Capital and a small group of angel investors. Although they intend to keep the core product free, they’ll sell extra add-ons like special filters and they “plan to experiment with different models as we grow and learn what special value we can provide to the community to make their collective experience more engaging, exciting and useful.”

    Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012
    Under: Immigration, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

    U.S. border chief to step down Dec. 30

    The Obama Administration’s commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection – a former California Secretary of Education – is stepping down.

    Alan BersinAlan Bersin, 65, has been the Homeland Security Department’s point man on illegal immigration and drug smuggling over the southwest border. He announced today he’s resigning effective Dec. 30, the day before his recess appointment expires.

    He already was Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs – the “border czar” – when Obama nominated him for CBP commissioner in September 2009, and then later appointed him in March 2010 after the Senate failed to hold a confirmation vote.

    Bersin from 1995 to 1998 was a federal prosecutor serving as the U.S. Attorney General’s Southwest Border Representative, coordinating law enforcement on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. From there he detoured into education, appointed in 1998 as San Diego’s superintendent of public education. He was still in that post when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tapped him to serve as the state’s Education Secretary in 2005-06.

    In his statement today, Bersin called his time as CBP’s chief “one of the most rewarding experiences of my public life.”

    “I am immensely proud of the significant and meaningful achievements we have made on our borders and at our nation’s ports of entry over nearly two years,” he said. “These extraordinary accomplishments are the result of the unstinting dedication, professionalism and sacrifice of the men and women of CBP. It has been my honor to serve with them and I depart with full confidence that they will continue to secure our borders and foster the lawful exchange of people and goods with vigilance, service and integrity.”

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano thanked Bersin for his service.

    “During his tenure, CBP has taken historic steps to secure our borders while facilitating legal travel and trade,” she said in a news release. “Commissioner Bersin has also been instrumental in facilitating new international agreements and public-private partnerships as well as developing new paradigms throughout the world in combating terrorism and international crime. Commissioner Bersin has helped set CBP on a path to continuously adapt and seek new and innovative ways of keeping our country – and our communities – safe.”

    Posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
    Under: Immigration, Obama presidency | No Comments »

    Lawmakers sign brief vs. Alabama immigration law

    The South Bay’s House members are among 39 Democrats who signed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration law, HB 56.

    Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, joined in the brief filed Monday, which argued six sections of Alabama’s law are unconstitutional.

    “All of these sections are impliedly preempted by federal law and Congressional power and, if allowed to stand, will create an unworkable conflict between federal and state enforcement schemes and priorities,” the brief said. “Such a conflict will frustrate the orderly enforcement of federal immigration law and could jeopardize this Nation’s relationships with its closest allies.”

    The brief also argues the law will harm the rights of all Alabamans, including citizens, under the First, Fourth, Sixth and 14th Amendments.

    Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., spearheaded the effort to get lawmakers on board with the brief, including a Nov. 21 delegation trip to Birmingham, Ala., which Lofgren accompanied. Other signers of the brief included Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles.

    “The Constitution is quite clear about the federal government’s preeminent role in immigration matters and having 50 inconsistent state policies towards immigrants is a level of chaos the Founders sought to avoid,” Gutierrez, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Immigration Task Force, said in a news release. “HB 56 adds layers of punitive measures targeting Alabama residents that are inconsistent with federal policy. Congress has the responsibility to balance many concerns in legislating federal immigration policy, such as law enforcement, the economy, family unity, education, civil rights, and so on. HB 56 has and will cause irreparable harm to communities and families throughout Alabama, but will also cause irreparable damage to Constitutional principles if allowed to stand. We join the U.S. Department of Justice, civil rights organizations, immigrant advocates, educators and people of faith in calling for HB 56 to be stripped from Alabama’s law books.”

    Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
    Under: Anna Eshoo, Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 3 Comments »