Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform Overview

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We believe in comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Our vision of reform includes immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder to achieve better wages, working conditions and labor protections. We want to ensure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules and make it harder for unscrupulous employers to cheat any worker, including immigrants. Virginia Organizing is proud to be the state coordinator for Alliance for Citizenship (A4C), a national campaign to win citizenship for 11 million Americans-in-waiting who are living in the United States today.  Virginia Organizing is working with dozens of groups across the Commonwealth to get our Members of Congress to support immigration reform.  To be part of this campaign, contact Joe Szakos at szakos@virginia-organizing.org. As a part of this national effort, Virginia Organizing has adopted the A4C core principles for reform: ·      Secure the broadest possible legalization with a path to citizenship ·      Preserve and work to advance family reunification ·      Protect rights and working conditions for all workers ·      Block enforcement measures that violate due process ·      Accord the responsibilities and rights required for full integration into American society In addition, we have a statewide Immigration Strategy Committee for grassroots people to be involved in the policy change process. 

Take A Stand for Civil Rights!

Icon October 15, 2014 - 15:37 In Virginia, some local sheriffs are keeping individuals in custody for 48 hours after they would normally be released due to a hold issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is wrong and must be stopped!   According to the ACLU of Virginia, recent federal court decisions have ruled these ICE holds or immigration holds are an unconstitutional violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. These decisions also make clear that ICE detainers are voluntary and that sheriffs and jail officials who honor ICE detainers can be held liable for violating the constitutional rights of the unlawfully detained individual.  As a result, many sheriffs throughout the U.S. have stopped honoring the ICE detainer requests.   Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has been asked to issue an opinion about these holds so that local sheriffs’ offices will stop practicing this unconstitutional detainment. To date, the Attorney General has not issued an opinion and individuals’ rights are still being violated.   Will you take a minute to call Attorney General Herring at 804-786-2071 on Wednesday, October 15 and say, “This is [your name] calling from [your city/county], Virginia. I’d like to leave a message for Attorney General Mark Herring: We know that you have been asked to issue an opinion about local law enforcement officials detaining people in their custody because the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has asked them to hold people who are otherwise lawfully free to be released. I am with Virginia Organizing and we urge you to issue the opinion quickly that directs local police to stop violating the civil rights of individuals so no more people are detained!”   There is no legal requirement that local law enforcement officials honor these requests and continuing to do so will impose unreimbursed costs on the localities or jail authority and possibly expose local law enforcement officials to litigation regarding the constitutionality of their actions.   Thank you for standing up for the civil rights of all Virginians!

Contributing to the New Economy: New data show immigrants continue to be an asset to Virginia’s economy

Icon October 3, 2014 - 13:20 Originally posted by The Half Sheet on September 30, 2014. by Laura Goren Immigrant households are significant contributors to Virginia’s economy and help the state outperform the country as a whole in education, labor force participation, and household income. Almost 40 percent of foreign-born Virginians age 25 or over have a bachelor’s degree, according to recently released 2013 American Community Survey data. That’s a much higher share than among adults in the U.S. as a whole, whether native-born or foreign-born. The high educational levels of foreign-born Virginians, combined with that of native-born residents, helps attract more of the well-paying, knowledge-economy jobs that Virginia needs to make up for a decline in well-paying jobs in federal contracting and other government services during this era of federal belt tightening. And Virginia immigrants put their talents to work in our economy at high rates. Over 70 percent of foreign-born adult Virginians either were working or looking for work in 2013. Many immigrants have created jobs in Virginia through starting or operating small businesses. In fact, foreign-born residents drove 40 percent of the growth in entrepreneurship in Virginia between 2000 and 2010. The high levels of education, labor force participation, and entrepreneurship among immigrant Virginians pays off. While immigrants in the U.S. as a whole tend to have lower incomes than native-born households, those in the commonwealth have higher median incomes than non-immigrant Virginia households: $68,585 compared to $62,028. These key trends are illustrated in this updated infographic that uses data from the 2013 American Community Survey on the state of immigrants in Virginia’s economy. Of course, as with other Virginians, not all immigrants in the commonwealth are able to find secure work that pays them enough to support their families and invest in their children’s future. But it’s worth remembering in this era of conflicting views about immigration policy that Virginia’s immigrant workers and families bring high levels of skill, education, and entrepreneurial energy to the state’s economy, and that benefits all of us, no matter where we were born.

Facts About Immigration and U.S. Policy

Icon August 19, 2014 - 13:52 Published by the Economic Policy Institute By Daniel Costa, David Cooper, and Heidi Shierholz | August 12, 2014 While immigration is among the most important issues the country faces, misperceptions persist about fundamental aspects of this crucial topic—such as the size and composition of the immigrant population, how immigration affects the economy and the workforce, the budgetary impact of unauthorized immigration, why increasing numbers of unaccompanied migrant children are arriving at the United States’ Southwest border, and the various facets of U.S. labor migration policy. This FAQ provides essential background on these topics. Read more...

New York Times Editorial: Mr. Obama, Your Move

Icon August 12, 2014 - 19:50 Posted on August 9 by the New York Times Editorial Board Sometime in late summer, if predictions are right, President Obama will use his executive authority to protect many unauthorized immigrants from deportation. We don’t know the details. Mr. Obama and the Department of Homeland Security have not yet supplied the who, what, when or even, officially, whether. But Mr. Obama has promised to respond to Congress’s refusal to act on immigration reform. And the most obvious thing is to lift the threat of deportation from immigrants who should be the lowest priority for removal: those with citizen children, jobs, clean records and strong community ties. Some reports put the size of that group at four million to five million. The mere possibility of Mr. Obama’s protecting any of the 11 million immigrants living here outside the law is already making Republicans clutch at their chests and cry out: Oh, the legality! He has done nothing yet, but right-wingers have pre-emptively declared him Caesar, crossing a Rubicon into lawlessness. In truth, Mr. Obama is well within his authority to madden the right. His power to conduct immigration policy is vast. Congress has given the president broad flexibility and discretion to enforce immigration law. It has also given him the resources to deport about 350,000 to 400,000 people a year, as Mr. Obama has done, relentlessly. It could have given him billions more to deport everyone, but it has not. For Mr. Obama to use the tools at hand to focus on high-priority targets — felons, violent criminals, public-safety and national-security threats — and to let many others alone would be a rational and entirely lawful exercise of discretion. It is the kind of thing prosecutors, police and other law-enforcement and regulatory agencies do every day. And with the authority to defer deportations of certain immigrants comes the authority, clearly spelled out in federal statute, to give them permission to work. Despite the shrill alarms, deferring deportation is not the dreaded “amnesty” that Republicans made a dirty word. It is temporary and revocable. It is not legalization; it is not a path to citizenship; and it permanently fixes nothing. But there is clearly a value to a program, however limited, that tells the enshadowed population: Come out, give us your names; keep working and paying taxes, supporting your families and staying off the dole. And the national interest goes well beyond such practical benefits. Consider the cost, in lawlessness and squandered resources, of indiscriminate immigration enforcement. The wastefulness of chasing millions who pose no threat but keep the economy afloat. The crime and exploitation that flourish wherever the undocumented remain hidden and vulnerable. The rampant wage-and-hour violations that off-the-books workers endure in silence. The civil-rights abuses when cops commit racial profiling, when racist sheriffs stage “crime suppression” patrols to sweep up those with brown skin. The cost to all workers when unscrupulous employers push pay and working conditions to rock-bottom levels. The ripe conditions for crime in communities where vulnerable immigrants fear and avoid the police. The country understands this, and was once moving toward an overhaul of the immigration system. But Congress has failed at every turn. Even a small-scale idea — legalizing “Dreamers” who were brought here as children and are Americans in all but name — has been repeatedly stymied by the nativist right. Pressured by those young strivers, Mr. Obama used his authority in 2012 to allow them a two-year reprieve to stay legally and work. Now the president is poised to expand this shield — possibly to the Dreamers’ parents, siblings, grandparents and perhaps millions of others. If Mr. Obama acts, as he should, and the right wing explodes, it will be worth taking time to consider what Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Steve King and their hard-core colleagues and allies would have Mr. Obama do. For them, the right number of unauthorized immigrants to welcome is zero; the right time is never. They would let the system rot in place, to maintain the fiction that the country can deport its way to lawfulness. Their dishonesty is repellent, as is their blindness to the lawless status quo, and to the cruelty of denying the hopes of millions whose labor is welcomed but whose humanity is not. Mr. Obama’s critics in Congress belong to a branch of government that has chosen to do nothing constructive about immigration — not even to resolve this summer’s crisis of migrant children at the border, which they looked at and punted on, before going on vacation. This is, after all, an election year. They have abandoned a difficult job to the care of Mr. Obama. They are in no position to complain when he does it.

Harrisonburg Chapter Action Update!

Icon July 31, 2014 - 19:34 Our Harrisonburg Chapter stood up for immigration reform yesterday by presenting a backbone to U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte's staff to encourage him to have courage and support immigration reform. The Chapter requested a meeting with Rep. Goodlatte and waited for a response in his office. Unfortunately, the police escorted the leaders out of the office after hours of waiting to hear about a meeting. Check out the video below for more!
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Harrisonburg Chapter Leaders Need Your Help!

Icon July 30, 2014 - 20:08 Virginia Organizing leaders in Harrisonburg are turning up the heat on U.S. Representative and House Judiciary Chairperson Bob Goodlatte! Constituents marched to Representative Goodlatte's office today to deliver a backbone and encourage him to stand up for immigration reform. We asked for a meeting with Representative Goodlatte and were told that a request would be submitted for review.  This is unacceptable. We are staying in his office until we get a meeting. Representative Goodlatte is in an important position to stand up for the people in his district and has the power to make positive changes to the current immigration system—a system he admits is broken. We want a meeting and we want your help. Will you please call Representative Goodlatte’s Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-5431 or his Roanoke office at (540) 857-2672 and ask that he schedule a meeting with Virginia Organizing and constituents regarding immigration reform? Here’s what one of our leaders had to say to the media: “As a DACA recipient, it is important to me that we stay involved and focused on immigration reform, as this issue affects so many people in our community,” said Virginia Organizing Harrisonburg Chapter leader Dulce Elias. “Representative Goodlatte told me personally at a town hall meeting that people like me deserve an opportunity to stay here. I’m just asking that he stand by his word and do something. He has the power—I hope he has the courage.” Thank you for your swift action on this! In solidarity, Kenia Lopez Harrisonburg (from inside Representative Goodlatte’s office)

Let's Encourage President Obama to Take Action

Icon July 29, 2014 - 17:33 Congress will soon leave for a five-week vacation. But that does not mean that we can’t make some progress on immigration reform while they are away!   President Barack Obama is reportedly considering some major changes.   According to a recent LA Times news article:   “Even as President Obama grapples with the crisis of immigrant children arriving at the Southwest border, White House officials are laying the groundwork for a large-scale expansion of immigrant rights that would come by executive action within weeks." Click here to be taken to our website where the full article is posted.   As you know, Virginia Organizing and many other groups have been working very hard to encourage Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, but Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner and House leadership have ignored the voices of millions of Americans calling for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.   It’s time to go over their heads.   Would you please call President Obama at 866-473-5915 and encourage him to take executive action to stop the deportations that are tearing families apart? Tell him what you believe: we need comprehensive immigration reform and he should take whatever action gets us closer to that goal.   Congress’ delays have cost far too much for far too many people already. Not one more family should be torn apart by our nation’s failing immigration policies.   Call President Obama at 866-473-5915 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to encourage action to stop deportations.   Sincerely,   Maria Fornella South Hampton Roads Chapter    P.S. We will have a major action in Harrisonburg on Wednesday, July 30. Our Harrisonburg Chapter leaders will be presenting Congressman Bob Goodlatte with a backbone – a symbol of what he has been missing. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he has not taken action that is needed to fix what even he says is a “broken immigration system.” Call his Roanoke office at (540) 857-2672 and encourage him to do something! Contact Isabel Castillo for more information. We will also have other immigration reform actions across the state in the next month:   “Light The Way” vigil in Virginia Beach on August 1 (Contact Laura Castro for more information)   “Light the Way” vigil on the Eastern Shore on August 23 (Contact Laura Castro for more information)   Vigil in Fredericksburg on August 25 (Contact Addie Alexander for more information)