Immigration Reform News Today: Latino Legislators Tell Immigrants, GOP to Get Ready For Executive Action Programs
Despite a GOP-controlled Congress seeking to undo President Obama's new immigration executive programs, Latino legislators this week assured immigrants that may qualify for those programs that they would indeed come to fruition, and they should get ready.
Latino lawmakers gathered in Washington to discuss the current status of the battle on immigration reform taking place on Capitol Hill. Since President Obama announced in November plans to enact new executive action programs that would offer a three-year stay of deportation for qualifying undocumented immigrants who are parents of children living in the U.S., GOP legislators have been open about criticizing the measures and have recently begun proposing "poison pill" legislation that would fund Homeland Security at the expense of cutting funding for the president's new immigration programs.
At a press conference the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called, several legislators and members took the GOP to task for moving against the immigration executive action initiatives while telling immigrants who could qualify for the executive action programs to ignore the movement against those initiatives and apply for the programs.
"Prepárense, prepárense (Get ready, get ready) because the opportunity that the president of the U.S. made possible is coming," Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-California, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, told immigrants regarding the executive action initiatives.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, took Republicans to task, saying that his party was aware that Republicans have as one of their agenda items this year the goal of deporting DREAMers, the term for young immigrant children who were brought into the U.S. at an early age.
"We are very hopeful and working hard towards resolving the issue of immigration, working with the administration on its new executive action to make sure that it's implemented properly. But what we're facing is a strong headwind from the new Republican Congress, who are doing every single thing that they can to make it harder for Hispanics and Latinos and other Americans to succeed," Rep. Castro said.
Senate Democrats are currently blocking via filibuster Republican-backed legislation that would finance Homeland Security but take out funding for President Obama's executive actions on immigration. That action has prompted House Republicans to call for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to change the Senate's rules on filibusters and make them illegal for Democrats, though Senate Republicans have chaffed at the idea of changing the Senate's rules.
Without funding mechanisms in place for Homeland Security, the department will run out of money by Feb. 27.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, said it was "ridiculous" that Congress found itself in this situation regarding how to finance Homeland Security, blaming Republicans for creating this scenario where the department faces having no money by the end of the month.
"We're at a point where we're going to find ourselves with less border security, less TSA screeners, and something that was manufactured by a Republican Party that does not know how to govern," Gallego added, according to CNS News. "And worse above that, the reason they do not know how to govern is because they want to separate families. Let us be clear. The DHS funding amendments that they attach would separate families."
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, took issue with the idea that there were grave concerns that President Obama's executive actions would create new loopholes for undocumented immigrants to vote. That, she responded, was far from the case.
"People just want to be able to stay with their families. People want to be able to go to work to pay taxes. People want to be able to educate their kids. The last thing on their mind is fraud and vote," she said. "They understand that they are not being made citizens of this country through this process, so I think these are just red flags that people who are against immigrant communities are using to scare America."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, who has been on a nationwide tour explaining to immigrants how the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DACA) program that would provide a three-year protection against deportation for qualifying immigrant parents, also criticized the GOP in light of several Republican legislators and pundits blaming the measles outbreak in California on immigrants.
"These are all lies perpetrated by a community of people who do not believe in immigration reform. They never saw an immigrant they liked," he said.
As to whether he was worried about the effects that the threats and actions of Congressional Republicans towards the executive action programs would have on immigrants considering whether to apply, Rep. Gutierrez dismissed that notion.
"Our community is used to a Congress of the United States that's always stonewalled progress toward their inclusion in the American Dream," he said.