Update on our fight for real immigration reform

CREDO action
Update on our fight to pass real immigration reform

Dear 5849376,

Civil rights for immigrants; click here to take action.

Thanks to the relentless and inspiring activism of the immigrants' rights movement, the DREAMers and allies like CREDO, the Senate took a significant step toward meaningful immigration reform by passing a bill out of the Judiciary Committee that provides a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

CREDO members were an important part of this effort -- we have presented over 100,000 petitions to Congress and have already made thousands of phone calls to leaders on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was able to stave off intense attacks from right-wing extremists in part because members were bolstered by the activism of CREDO and our allies in the immigration movement. In a historic step, the committee passed out legislation that not only preserves the heart of the bill - the roadmap to citizenship - but adds provisions to make that pathway more viable.1 Here are some key highlights from the immigration bill that passed out of the committee:

  • The Judiciary Committee made the roadmap to citizenship more viable: Specifically the committee approved progressive amendments submitted by Senator Al Franken to protect children whose parents have been caught up in immigration actions or who lack a parent or guardian.2 The committee also approved measures that would place child welfare professionals at border control stations and made the roadmap to citizenship more affordable by passing an amendment that will allow immigrants who get on the path to citizenship to pay their fines in installments, rather than a lump sum.3
  • The Judiciary Committee largely ignored the right-wing attacks on the immigration bill: It was encouraging to see the majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee stand up to hateful attacks from the extreme right wing. A key example was the ferocious pushback (thousands of CREDO members were part of this) against former Senator Jim DeMint's botched attempt to derail reform through the release of a shady "economic study" that perpetuated ugly and false stereotypes about immigrants and their families.4 As a result, DeMint and his right-wing allies were largely discredited even among some members of the Republican Party, which was evident in the defeat of anti-immigrant amendments offered by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT).5
  • The bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is not perfect: We remain concerned that the bill still allocates an excessive amount of taxpayers' money to dysfunctional enforcement strategies that break up families. We are also deeply disappointed that binational same-sex couples are not included in the committee's bill. We hope that by the end of June the Supreme Court will strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which would mean those couples will be protected under the current bill.6 And we will also support the effort to amend the bill to include the Uniting American Families Act.7

While the passage of the immigration reform bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee was a significant step, our work is far from done. We need to keep up the pressure as there are worrisome signs that, despite already having enough support from Senate Republicans to avoid a filibuster, members of the Senate Democratic Leadership may try to water down the pathway to citizenship in pursuit of 70 votes in the Senate. Senator Chuck Schumer has suggested that this would put further pressure on the House Republican leadership.8 But the further compromises needed to secure these votes would be unacceptable. And making compromises in advance of negotiations has certainly not proven a winning strategy for Democrats in recent fights.

The current immigration bill already represents significant compromise -- and to get additional Republicans on board in the Senate and achieve 70 votes will only make the bill worse. We believe it is preferable for the Senate to pass a good immigration bill with a viable pathway to citizenship with 60-65 votes -- enough to avoid a filibuster. The Democrats have already made enough concessions in the Judiciary Committee.

Our continued pressure is needed to ensure our elected leaders in Washington know that they must reject any proposal that weakens the immigration reform bill.

If you haven't done so yet, please sign our petition in support of real immigration reform, including a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. If you've already taken action, please forward this email to your friends and ask them to join you in signing the petition.

Thank you for standing up for the rights of immigrants.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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Learn more about this campaign

1. America's Voice, "Senate immigration bill - path to citizenship remains intact as markup reaches home stretch", AmericasVoiceOnline.org, May 21, 2013.
2. Press Release of Senator Franken, "Sen. Franken's Bipartisan Measures to Protect Children Added to Senate Immigration Reform Bill," franken.senate.gov, May 20, 2013.
3. Press Release of Senator Hirono, "Senate Judiciary Committee Adopts Hirono Measures Supporting DREAMers, Victims of Child Trafficking," hirono.senate.gov, May 20, 2013.
4. America's Voice, Losing steam: Vaunted anti-immigrant movement marginalized by a serious bipartisan legislative debate", AmericasVoiceOnline.org, May 23, 2013.
5. America's Voice, "Key Amendments Filed in Senate Judiciary Committee to S. 744," AmericasVoiceOnline.org, May 28, 2013.
6. The DOMA Project, "Workshop: Answering Questions from Binational Couples Preparing for the Post-DOMA Universe," domaproject.org, June 2, 2013.
7. The Uniting American Families Act eliminates discrimination in immigration by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and of lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and of lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships. [S.296]
8. Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, "Reid confident in 60 immigration votes, so why give in even more?," DailyKos.com, May 29, 2013.

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