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Denham is 1st GOPer to back immigration bill

A Central Valley congressman is the nation’s first Republican House member to say he’ll support House Democrats’ comprehensive immigration reform bill, earning him praise from advocacy groups and depriving his Democratic challenger of a key talking point.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, announced he’ll cosponsor H.R. 15 on Sunday on Univision’s political talk show “Al Punto,” and later issued a statement.

Jeff Denham“We can’t afford any more delays,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants, but today, our broken system has failed to secure the border, enforce our current laws and help us to attract the best and brightest who want to come and contribute to the greatness of America.

“I support an earned path to citizenship to allow those who want to become citizens to demonstrate a commitment to our country, learn English, pay fines and back taxes and pass background checks,” Denham continued. “This is a common-sense solution to our broken system. I also support a faster pathway for the children who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, who have been raised in America and educated in our schools and have no other country to call home.”

Denham also noted the bill “includes language that makes securing the border a requirement, not a goal, and puts measurable benchmarks in place to be verified by independent sources to ensure that our border is secure.” And he said his ENLIST Act, H.R. 2377, which allows a path to citizenship through military service, will be incorporated into H.R. 15.

The move has earned Denham plaudits from groups including the National Council of La Raza (“a bold message that immigration reform is not a partisan issue”); the National Immigration Law Center (“doing what’s best for his district, California, and our country”); and America’s Voice (“a major crack in the dam that has been blocking reform”).

Activists from immigration advocacy groups in his district rallied outside Denham’s Modesto district office this morning to show their appreciation, and Denham and the bill’s author, Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., joined immigration advocates on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.

The 10th Congressional District’s voter registration as of February – the most recent figures available – was 39.7 percent Democrat, 38.5 percent Republican and 17 percent nonpartisan. The Cook Political Report lists the seat as “likely” Republican, a designation for races that “are not considered competitive at this point, but have the potential to become engaged.”

And the district is 41.2 percent Latino, according to the U.S. Census’ 2011 American Community Survey.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month had worked up a web video blasting Denham for a “history of immigration extremism, support for hard-line stances that divide families and hurt businesses and workers, and his refusal to push for the bipartisan Senate solution.”

And Denham’s presumptive Democratic challenger, Michael Eggman – an almond farmer, beekeeper and younger brother of Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton – had expressed support for H.R. 15 earlier this month and challenged Denham to do the same.

But Eggman still has at least one potentially potent arrow in his quiver. Read more about that, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, Immigration, Jeff Denham, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Report: GOP’s future hangs on immigration reform

The Republican Party could lose a lot of House seats in 2014 and 2016 – including a few in California – as well as the next presidential election if it stands in the way of comprehensive immigration reform, according to a political research firm’s new report.

The researchers at Seattle-based Latino Decisions call it the “Prop. 187 Effect,” after California’s 1994 ballot measure to bar illegal immigrants from using health care, public education, and other social services – a measure their report says drove the ever-expanding Latino electorate into the Democratic Party’s arms.

“Even in a gerrymandered Congress, the Latino vote is going to remake the landscape if we experience a national phenomenon around immigration similar to the Prop. 187 effect,” said Latino Decisions principal Gary Segura. “Not only does our research show Latinos still hold the GOP responsible for Prop. 187, we see that they’re poised to significantly shift the vote toward Democratic Congressional representation in districts nationwide.”

On a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, Segura noted 93 percent of all Latinos under the age of 18 are U.S. citizens, so the nation’s Latino electorate will double over the next 18 years even if not one new Latino immigrant enters the country.

The report identifies 24 House districts now held by Republcians where the Latino vote alone has a strong chance of swinging the outcome of 2014 elections, and 20 more GOP districts where the size of the Latino electorate exceeds the incumbent’s 2012 victory margin.

Among districts the report deems most susceptible to a Latino swing vote are California’s 10th, represented by Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; 25th, represented by Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita; and 31st, represented by Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga.

A poll conducted by Latino Decisions in July found 58 percent of Latino voters will be personally angry if the House blocks an immigration reform bill with a pathway to citizenship, and 69 percent of Latino voters would place blame for a lack of comprehensive immigration reform upon Republicans, while only 13 percent would blame Democrats and 11 percent would blame both parties equally.

Hector Barajas, a longtime Republican strategist who earlier this year co-founded the GOP polling and messaging firm Latino Edge Research, acknowledged later Thursday that it’s “important to recognize that some races would be more affected than others if they do not correctly engage their Latino electorate.”

“That being said, not changing the same narrative that Republicans as a whole are opposed to immigration reform will allow Democrats to continue with their successful strategy of attack candidates with an R behind them,” he said. “In the end, it will be up to the individual campaigns to demonstrate to the Latino electorate that they are not the ‘Bad Guy’ in the movie.”

President Obama said Thursday that with the government shutdown over and the debt-limit crisis averted, “we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.” A bipartisan bill already passed by the Senate would beef up border security and modernize the system while ensuring “everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities,” he said, adding economists estimate the bill would bring $1.4 trillion in new economic growth over the next 20 years.

“The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do. And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it,” he said, inviting the House to offer any improvements. “But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year.”

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Under: Immigration, Jeff Denham, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

New laws bar threats against illegal immigrants

The TRUST Act wasn’t the only immigration-related bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this weekend: Others could cost businesses their business licenses and hefty fines if they threaten workers based on their immigration status.

SB 666 by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg makes it illegal to report or threaten to report workers’ immigration or citizenship status, or that of their family, in retaliation of an employee filing a complaint of unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment, or otherwise attempting to exercise his or her rights in the workplace.

Employers and businesses found violating this new law could be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 per incident, and with business license suspension or revocation under certain conditions. Steinberg, D-Sacramento, issued a statement calling the new law “another tremendous victory for civil rights.”

“Workers deserve fairness and safe conditions when they go to their jobs every day without the fear of retaliation when they stand up for their rights. Our labor laws are supposed to protect all California workers, regardless of their immigration status,” he said. “When employers use threats and intimidation like this, the voice of workers is silenced and law-abiding businesses face unfair competition. This law will ensure justice.”

Steinberg said there’ve been many cases in which employers ignore immigration status when hiring, but then use threats of deportation when workers stand up for themselves. This new law prohibits that and clarifies that an employer can’t retaliate against an employee who makes a written or oral complaint regarding unpaid wages, adding a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violations of California Labor Code Section 98.6.

“There are people every day who come into our office with valid claims (and) with valid complaints,” Michael Marsh, an attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, said in Steinberg’s news release. “Their rights have been violated and yet they’re afraid … Even when they’re told that they have these protections they don’t want to pursue these claims because they fear deportation. This is a persistent problem and I think it really needs to be addressed.”

In a similar vein, Brown also signed into law AB 524 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, which includes threats to report a person’s immigration status in the definition of extortion.

A recent National Employment Law Project report found labor violations and retaliation have become widespread in California’s low-wage labor market. Jose Mejia, director of the California State Council of Laborers, called the bill “a major step toward improving job quality in the low-wage jobs that fuel our state’s economy and to remove the ability of employers to use immigrant status for retaliation or other unlawful purposes.”

Mullin, D-San Mateo, noted “California is home to over one quarter of the immigrants who live in the United States. We have a civic obligation to ensure our laws adequately protect all people from exploitation and workplace retaliation based on immigration status.”

Brown also on Saturday signed:

    AB 35 by Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina – Provides that immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals are the only individuals authorized to charge a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deferred action program.
    AB 1024 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego – Allows applicants, who are not lawfully present in the United States, to be admitted as an attorney at law.
    AB 1159 by Gonzalez – Imposes various restrictions and obligations on persons who offer services related to comprehensive immigration reform.
    SB 141 by Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana – Requires that the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and requests that the University of California, exempt a United States citizen who resides in a foreign country, and is in their first year as a matriculated student, from nonresident tuition if the student demonstrates financial need, has a parent or guardian who was deported or voluntarily departed from the U. S., lived in California immediately before moving abroad, and attended a secondary school in California for at least three years.
    SB 150 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens – Authorizes a community college district to exempt pupils attending community colleges as a special part-time student from paying nonresident tuition.

Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2013
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Immigration, Jerry Brown, Kevin Mullin | 19 Comments »

Kiss your bipartisan immigration reform goodbye

Two House Republicans have quit the “Group of Seven” that was working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson, both of Texas, issued this joint statement this morning:

“For nearly four years, we have been committed to finding a real solution to the serious immigration problem that plagues America. We have been working diligently and in good faith with our Democratic colleagues in a serious effort to fix our broken immigration system and secure our borders once and for all.

John Carter“From the beginning, we knew that solving the immigration problem wouldn’t be easy, but we owe it to the American people to come up with a real, long-term solution that instills accountability into the system and rewards personal responsibility. So we rolled up our sleeves and set aside partisan politics to do what is right for our country.

“After years of hard work and countless meetings, we have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration. We want to be clear. The problem is politics. Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress – the body most representative of the people – in order to advance his political agenda. We will not tolerate it. Laws passed by Congress are not merely suggestions, regardless of the current atmosphere in Washington. Laws are to be respected and followed by all – particularly by the Commander-in-Chief.

“Starting off with the President’s hallmark legislation – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – ObamaCare. The Obama administration has changed, waived or delayed key provisions with a single stroke of a pen. Congress opposed new laws that would infringe on Americans’ Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but the President resorted to executive fiat to curtail those rights. Congress rejected the President’s cap and trade bill, yet he issued rules to reduce Americans’ access to our own energy resources that would help make us energy independent. The administration’s practice of hand-picking what parts of laws they wish to enforce has irrevocably damaged our efforts of fixing our broken immigration system.

“If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed. It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system. The bottom line is – the American people do not trust the President to enforce laws, and we don’t either.

Sam Johnson“We have not given up and are committed to getting this right. That’s why we will continue to support efforts from our Republican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. That means immigration reform that starts with a genuinely secure border, full implementation of E-verify, affective enforcement of current and future laws, and a commitment that any proposal contributes to a healthy economy. There is a way to fix this problem that will instill the authentic accountability that has been missing in immigration for the past 25 years. The American people deserve no less.

“We are proud of the bipartisan team that worked with us on the immigration reform effort. We are honored to have worked closely with Democrat Representative Zoe Lofgren, Luis Gutierrez, John Yarmuth, and Xavier Becerra. We are also proud of our Republican colleagues Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and Raul Labrador.”

Here’s a response from Lofgren, D-San Jose, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, said this morning:

“The dance of legislation is intricate and unpredictable. For the last four-and-a-half years a bipartisan group of representatives met, at first in anonymity, and later openly, to attempt to craft a bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“We did succeed in crafting a bill, but at this point my Republican colleagues, Congressmen Sam Johnson and John Carter, have decided to withdraw from this process. While these two very conservative Congressmen do not agree with me on many issues, I am sure that they would agree that our efforts during these last several years were characterized by mutual respect and serious legislative work. Solid work was put into crafting immigration measures and these efforts, or portions of them, may yet help the process as efforts continue to achieve top to bottom reform of our country’s broken immigration system.

“The question isn’t whether we can pass immigration reform. The economic, security and moral arguments have been made for reform. In poll after poll a growing majority of Americans want to see immigration reform, and the votes exist in the House for reform.

“In the end, it’s the Republican leadership that must make a decision on whether they intend to allow the current broken immigration system to continue as it is, or whether they will allow the House to vote on reform. I continue to be hopeful that Republican leaders will schedule votes on serious reform measures that aren’t host to known poison pills. It can be done. Let’s hope Congress can perform this basic task.”

Posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013
Under: Immigration, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

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 »