Monday, January 28, 2013

Update on Immigration Issues

An immigration conference here in November attracted hundreds of Catholic activists from across the country looking to share information.

One of the key issues for the conference was spurring political leaders to resolve the status of  11 million immigrants who are in the country without proper documents.

There is the beginning of movement on that issue.
Millions of illegal immigrants would be given a path to citizenship under provisions of an immigration overhaul fashioned by a bipartisan group of senators, an opening shot in what promises to be a fight in Congress this year.
The legislative framework, released Monday, also would add federal agents and equipment to strengthen the borders and tighten work rules to ensure employers hire legally.
The unveiling comes before President Barack Obama plans to set out his own, similar principles in a speech Tuesday in Las Vegas. Mr. Obama repeatedly has said revamping the immigration system is one of his top priorities, while Republicans—smarting from the overwhelming Hispanic support of Mr. Obama in November's election—also have identified the issue as of major importance.

Another hot issue was states issuing driver’s licenses to young undocumented workers who receive two-years of deferred action by the federal government.

It appears Iowa is reversing its former stance. And more of the five states that banned licenses to the group are reconsidering the policy, reports "The Huffington Post."
"The new information announced late last Friday from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services changes the definition of persons granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival status," Iowa Department of Transportations officials said in a statement on Wednesday. 
Deferred action recipients are not in "lawful status" while they're staying in the U.S. -- they're still undocumented, and they could still be deported based on Department of Homeland Security discretion. Arizona, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska announced last year that those immigrants therefore could not legally be granted driver's licenses because the law requires them to be legally present. North Carolina canceled already-issued driver's licenses for deferred action recipients earlier this month, citing the same reason. Civil rights groups have sued Arizona and Michigan for blocking driver's licenses.

And the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is watching the issue and engaging with lawmakers.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, welcomed principles set forth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform of our nation's immigration system.
"I welcome the introduction of a bipartisan framework to help guide Congress on immigration reform," Archbishop Gomez said January 28."It is an important first step in the process and sets a bipartisan tone."
The framework released by the "Group of Eight" working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in the immigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite with their loved ones.
"It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans," Archbishop Gomez said. "It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings."
Read more at the USCCB.



  1. However, IL just signed a licenses for undocumented immigrants law yesterday:

  2. Dri,
    Thank you.

    Was Illinois a state that prohibited DACA folks from licenses? It reversed its position?

  3. I believe IL already went on record (through the Sec'y of State's office, if my memory serves me correctly) as allowing DACA folks to get licenses when the program was introduced.

    The law passed yesterday goes beyond DACA folks, however, & applies to almost all undocumented immigrants who have lived in the state for a year & get insurance.