Debating whether immigrants will have a positive or negative effect on the United States’ economy, various political groups are arguing their viewpoints and analyzing a number of fiscal pros and cons that would stem from the passage of the immigration bill. The New York Times reports:
An overhaul of immigration law would reduce the federal deficit. That’s the conclusion of a broad range of studies, from the libertarian Cato Institute to the conservative American Action Forum to the liberal Center for American Progress. Wait, it would really increase the deficit. That’s the analysis of the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies. But hang on a second. Immigrants have little impact on the federal deficit. That’s what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development thinks.
Read more here.
It’s not the message you might expect to hear from Rick Santorum, the Christian-conservative former presidential candidate: Faith-based films tend to be lousy, and Christians should quit trying to lock modern popular culture out of their lives.
Instead, Santorum says, Christian conservatives should acknowledge that modern popular culture is here to stay, and use that platform to produce Christian-themed films that will also have quality and popular appeal. It’s a strategy he says he intends to pursue in his new role as CEO of a ground-breaking faith-based film studio.
In an interview here, Santorum also stood by his strong views against same-sex marriage, citing the necessity to adhere to religious teachings — but then disputed his own religion’s leaders on the issue of immigration.
A woman who has lived legally in this country for more than 30 years was granted her request to become a naturalized United States citizen Thursday after initially being refused conscientious objector status because she is not religious.
Margaret Doughty, who came to the U.S. in 1980 from England, was informed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that unless she provided a letter from a church or a religious official by June 21 backing up her assertion that her “lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs” would prevent her from taking up arms for the U.S., her application would be denied.
Immigrants seeking citizenship must pledge to defend the U.S., unless they can prove they are conscientious objectors — people whose religious beliefs prevent them from engaging in war. Conscientious objector status has been awarded to Quakers, Buddhists, and others.
In an attempt to attract conservative voters, undecided senators, and Republicans, talks of doubling border patrol security is in the works. Increasing border patrol security from 21,000 agents, to 42,000 agents, members of the Gang of Eight and Republicans, Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota have come together and created a package plan to entice conservative’s support for the passing of the immigration bill. Politico reports:
Strengthening border security had long been the major impediment to attracting conservative votes, and a compromise that resolves the issue would significantly improve chances for passage of the overall bill.
Read more here.
People of faith and immigration activists around the country have their eyes fixed on Congress this month as both houses take up immigration reform. The bipartisan proposal being considered in the Senate would bring hope and opportunity to 11 million new Americans who aspire to be citizens, doing much to fix our broken immigration system.
While the path forward will be difficult, there is some good news this week that will influence the way policymakers think about this issue.
Conservative lawmakers have long been worried about the future costs of immigration reform, which they predicted would come from federal programs designed to help the poor such as Medicaid. They asked the Congressional Budget Office – a non-partisan government agency tasked with evaluating the cost of all legislative proposals – to give them a report far into the future to make sure that these costs were not hidden in their analysis.
In reality, the CBO found that bipartisan immigration reform in the Senate would trim nearly $1 trillion off the federal deficit, while spurring the economy and creating jobs.
They have many labels. Undocumented immigrants. Illegal Immigrants. Illegal Aliens. Wetbacks. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, recently suggested that most of them are “drug mules.” Some have even called them “terrorists.” But few are known by their real names or treated as people with real lives.
Most of them live at the edges of the society, under inhumane and dangerous conditions, often separated from their loved ones. For some it may be a choice. However, a vast majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are driven to such extremes by factors beyond their control — political crisis, drug-related violence, famine, or eviction from their own homes at gunpoint. Theirs is a story of displacement, of being forced to flee their homes and take risks few would under normal circumstances. They are victims, not the offenders they are often made out to be. Still, for many, it is a story of being treated by the border security as violent criminals, being stripped of their clothes and dignity and separated from their families and traumatized in detention centers. It is also a story of ostracizing and exploitation by parts of the society. The labels and stereotypes about them “otherize” them in ways that prevent their full participation in the society. Injustices like these are the reason why NETWORK’s Nuns On The Bus have been touring across the country speaking out for immigration reform.
Could drone surveillance be the answer to conservative’s immigration uncertainties? Republican senators got together Monday to discuss their ideas on how to ensure tight security between the U.S.-Mexico border if in fact the immigration bill were to pass. Putting into action their notions to strengthen homeland security, Republican senators shared their ideas with a plan to get conservative’s on board with their proposals. Reuters reports:
The proposal is aimed at a satisfying calls by Republicans for further steps to secure the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Senate that would grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
It could include provisions for deploying high-tech surveillance equipment and other specifics, according to congressional sources and people close to the talks.
Read more here.
In order to stand a chance of the Presidency in the 2016 election, the Republican Party should not obstruct the ideas of an immigration overhaul, says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Potential presidential candidate Marco Rubio is in favor of immigration reform as long as minor changes are made to the measure. The Guardian reports:
"The vast majority of Americans, the vast majority of conservative Republicans are prepared to support immigration reform, but only if we can ensure that we're not going to have another wave of illegal immigration in the future," said Rubio, a Florida senator and potential 2016 presidential Republican contender. "I think 95, 96% of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go. But there are elements that need to be improved."
Read more here.
We had taught, run, and dreamed together. Our ministries were growing, I was once again flourishing spiritually, but Richard seemed to be stalled. His peers were finishing college, finding jobs and mates, and Richard was hustling to find odd jobs and was being left behind. As we tended the land, I took a risk. I asked him why he had said he did not want a family. He confessed that he had reached that conclusion out of despair. He truly wanted to find a wife and previously hoped to have kids, but he did not have citizenship (his family moved to the U.S. when he was 7 years old) and was not able to find legal, reliable employment. He could not afford to go to college without access to financial aid. He insisted he simply would not start a family that he could not reliably provide for. He had lost hope. But he still had integrity. I was deeply saddened. I was saddened for Richard and his loss of hope. I was also saddened that our community and nation would potentially be deprived of his vision and courage.
I remember the first time I met someone without papers. They were 12 or 13, like me, and pretty unremarkable and brown. I can still feel the tension between my intense curiosity about this boy and my disappointment about him. Going from “I wonder if they have feelings like us” and “he doesn’t have a green card but does he have a mother who loves him” to “he’s kind of normal” and “this is not what I expected a real-life outlaw to look like” in a few quick minutes.
As life moved on and I made more friends, I met more people who were undocumented. I met grandmothers and little children and some college kids. My relationship with this issue kept transforming, from “I can say I have a friend who’s undocumented SO I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT, OK?” to “I have friends, some of whom don’t have papers, and I’d like to government to be nice to everybody.” The more undocumented immigrants I met, the less they seemed different at all.
It happened that way with abortion, too. And gay marriage. Start out with a simplistic interpretation of the Bible and a black-and-white opinion, befriend somebody at odds with that opinion, the opinion changes. Time after time. I was against women pastors —thanks to Paul and bad exegesis — until I realized that my mother had been spiritually leading people for 20 years and most of them had turned out OK.
I’m sure that if I run for president in 20 years, somebody is going to find a paper I wrote for my Biblical Interpretation class decrying the moral state of our socialized medical system, contrast that with my current view, and label me a flip-flopper. And they would be right, which would have worried me three years ago. But I’ve met some flip-floppers since then, and they’re pretty decent people. So I’m okay with that now.
To be honest, I don’t really trust people who have had the same opinions their entire lives. Which is probably why I don’t trust much Evangelical theology, these days. I think it’s natural to have your views about the world change as you experience more of the world, and I wish it were easier to be honest about that when it happened. I wish it were encouraged.
Despite the progress on immigration reform being made in the Senate, this week offered an unfortunate reminder of the uphill battle any legislation faces in the House of Representatives.
During it’s consideration of legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security, the House passed an amendment, authored by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, to defund the administration’s efforts of prosecutorial discretion. Specifically, it would require DHS to deport young, undocumented immigrants known as “DREAMers.” The amendment also puts at risk anyone who qualifies for prosecutorial discretion under the June 2011 John Morton Memos while in deportation proceedings.
Essentially, this amendment would categorize all undocumented immigrants aside violent criminals who must be deported if encountered by law enforcement, regardless of their circumstances or contributions.
Colorado became the eighth U.S. state to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants on Wednesday. Applicants must show they live in Colorado, have filed a state income tax return, and provide proof of their identity from their home country. The Colorado law will go into effect on August 1, 2014, and licenses must be renewed every three years. Reuters reports:
"Our roads will be safer when we can properly identify everyone who drives on them," Democratic state Senator Jessie Ulibarri said. "We estimate that thousands more Colorado drivers will get insured because of this law."
Read more here.
John Boehner's future political aspirations could be a big deciding factor in his stance on immigration and the debt ceiling. If Boehner plans continues as speaker of the House in 2015, he may not be willing to compromise with the White House and Senate on immigration and the debt ceiling. If he plans on retiring, he may want to preserve his legacy by participating in a grand bargain to pass immigration reform and solve America's debt and spending issues. The Washington Post reports:
“Debt ceiling/tax reform/entitlement reform deals are all major legacies for him,” said one longtime Republican House insider. “Retirement may look more appealing if they come together, in some form of victory.”
Read more here.
The Nuns on the Bus stopped by Washington, D.C., this week, and Sojourners staffers were on hand to return high fives and listen to speeches from the sisters and leaders in the labor movement. This was just one stop on the national bus tour in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The traveling sisters are encouraging people across the country to raise hands and voices in support of faith, family, and citizenship.
Check out the photos of the Nuns on the Bus’ visit. We’ll be praying for the sisters as they continue their journey!
FAIR’s recent ad campaigns have attempted to whip up fear and hatred for immigrants by claiming that they will steal jobs from working Americans. This kind of thinking has been debunked numerous times – immigrants contribute to the economy and help start small businesses.
Pandora radio has 70 million users listening 1.31 billion hours each month. That’s a lot of people who were hearing ads based on fear rather than facts.
Along with other groups, Sojourners contacted Pandora and asked them to stop playing these ads. We understand that everyone has the right to say what they want – free speech – but we’re glad that civil society and consumers can put pressure on companies to limit the amount of harmful speech we hear every day.
Pandora has ended the relationship* after reviewing FAIR’s record. Thousands of Sojourners readers signed a petition asking them not to accept hateful ads in the future, and donated to help Sojourners run ads with positive messages highlighting the contributions immigrants make to our communities and their inherent dignity as human beings created in God’s image.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found immigrants contributed $115 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund over a seven-year period. In 2009 alone, immigrants contributed $13.9 billion more to Medicare than they used. The report encouraged allowing legal status for undocumented immigrants to help offset health care costs in America. USA Today reports:
"The assumption that immigrants are just a drain has been a part of the argument that people should be denied services," said Leah Zallman, lead researcher and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. "Immigration policy has been closely linked to Medicare's finances."
Read more here.
With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, the “Nuns on the Bus” on Wednesday kicked off a national tour for immigration reform aimed at giving a faith-based push to legislation that’s now hanging in the balance in Congress.
“We have got to make this an urgent message of now,” Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, which organized the tour, told a rally on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
“The next six to eight weeks is going to determine what we can accomplish,” Campbell said as she pointed to nearby Ellis Island, the American gateway for generations of immigrants. “The time is now for immigration reform.”
Champions of immigration reform believe they have their best opportunity to pass a comprehensive overhaul since 2007, when an effort backed by President George W. Bush was thwarted by members of his own party. After Republicans lost the Latino vote in last fall’s elections, GOP leaders said they would be open to an immigration bill that they think could help change that political dynamic.
What I have heard after visiting 18 cities in six weeks is that people around the country believe that nothing can happen in Washington, D.C. They are basically right. So I am very grateful today to report the one exception.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new comprehensive immigration reform bill with a bipartisan vote. Did you hear that: “bipartisan.” Amid heartbreaking news of the destruction, grief, and heroism we have seen in Moore, Okla., from one of the worst tornados in American history, millions of Americans found a reason to be hopeful.
This historic immigration bill now goes to the full Senate, where it has a real chance of passing and changing the lives of 11 million aspiring Americans. These are the “strangers” talked about throughout the Bible, and about whom Jesus said, in Matthew 25: how we treat them is how we treat him. That realization has caused a literal biblical conversion in the evangelical Christian community, which with the help of law enforcement officials and business leaders has done the impossible — changed Washington, D.C.
Self-interests, special interests, and even conflicting principles all put this life-changing proposal in grave danger. But in a town defined by gridlock, a group of eight senators crafted a bipartisan proposal that passed with only minor change. The bill reflects agreements reached by the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce; imagine that. It isn’t perfect and no single legislator got everything she or he wanted, but the key elements that many of us have been fighting for are intact. That really is a triumph of the common good.
On May 2, the Evangelical Immigration Table launched its 92 day Pray4Reform Challenge. They sent a letter to Congress challenging decision makers to pass compassionate and fair immigration reform within 92 days. Throughout the 92 days, evangelical Christians across the country will be showing their support by engaging in thoughtful prayer to support their legislators.
As part of the challenge, the EIT is joining in the #iMarch and will be a part of an hour-long #Pray4Reform Twitter town hall. Evangelical leaders, including Sojourners' Jim Wallis (@JimWallis), will be tweeting and conversing with others in support of immigration reform from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time.
Christians countrywide also are being asked to join by signing up to be “prayer partners.” Each week during the challenge, they will receive an email or text with guidance on what prayer the Table is lifting up that week. Prayer partners are also encouraged to join the National Day of Prayer on May 30 by holding a dedicated time of prayer event in their communities.
In March of this year, U.S. and Mexican citizens gathered together on both sides of the border fence to honor the memory of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. Five months earlier, Rodriguez, of Nogales, Mexico, was shot seven times from behind by U.S. Border Patrol agents for allegedly throwing rocks over the 14-foot fence. He was only 16 years old — a young life caught in the crossfire of increased cross-border shootings.
Tucson, Ariz., residents Maryann and Barry Gosling were among those who participated in the bi-national vigil.