A personal postscript to an amazing week of #immigrationAction

2014-11-22 West WingFriends, I was honored to be among a handful of civil rights and immigration leaders and advocates invited to meet with President Obama in the West Wing of the White House on Thursday afternoon shortly before he announced his Immigration Executive Actions.

As I sat in the Roosevelt room with the President I was taken with thoughts of my grandparents and my dad, Holocaust survivors from Germany, who were given refuge in this great country. We owe so much to those who brought us to this day. And we owe a lot to future generations. I was truly humbled to be a part of this historic moment.

Last night families across America who’d grown accustomed to living in fear went to sleep knowing that in the morning they would wake up safe and together.

That’s not hyperbole, that’s a reality for families throughout the country.

There is a Talmudic saying that “if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world.” This week the President used his authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress finally fixes it. And, in so doing, the President has “saved the world” for millions and millions of hard working honest people.

At the same time we must remember that what the President has done is only a first step; millions more families continue to live in the shadows, fearful of being separated from their loved ones every time they leave their homes to buy milk at the corner store, medicine for their children, or simply fill the car with gas. This is not who we are as a nation, as people, as a culture.

The step Mr. Obama has taken to make the immigration system work better is a bold and courageous (and yes–solidly legal) use of his lawful authority as President of the United States. But only Congress has the power to fix the antiquated, rigid and outdated immigration policy that plagues this country, devastates families, stymies American business and inhibits job creation.

We can only hope that amid the calls for lawsuits and legislation to block the President’s executive actions Republican congressional leaders will find the guts to do the right thing by the American People.

Obama Stays the Course on Immigration as Pressure Mounts

David Leopold:

The Democrats pressuring Obama not to move on immigration are making a grave error if they think the Republicans who are about to take charge of Congress are serious about passing an immigration reform bill he can sign. What they will pass will likely be an enforcement heavy scheme designed to perpetuate the inhumane policy of “self-deportation” championed by the likes of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

The notion that Republicans could credibly peddle the claim that they have been planning on passing immigration reform all along and, therefore, President Obama should once again refrain from using his lawful authority to make the system work better for American families and business until they do is, in a word, ridiculous. Yet some Democrats–who should know better–seem to be falling for the latest ruse. This quote from former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is troubling:

Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and erstwhile head of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters last week that one way to avoid inflaming Obama’s antagonists was for the President to publicly outline the terms of the immigration order in the coming weeks, but wait until “April or June” to issue it, giving the GOP time to cobble together a bill.

Originally posted on TIME:

President Barack Obama has remained resolute in his plan to unilaterally reshape U.S. immigration law in the wake of his party’s heavy losses in last week’s midterm elections, but pressure is mounting from both sides as he approaches a decision later this year.

The White House has been tight-lipped about when Obama will use his executive authority on immigration, as well as what exactly the package of reforms will contain. But immigration activists say they still expect the President to issue orders that would protect up to several million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The move could come in mid-December, after lawmakers reach a spending agreement that would keep the federal government running, activists say.

The Democratic drubbing on Nov. 4 unleashed a fresh wave of threats from Republicans, who warned Obama that taking unilateral action on immigration would “poison the well,” as House Speaker John Boehner put it. “When you…

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Three immigration fixes that Obama doesn’t need Republicans for

Originally posted on Quartz:

On Nov. 5, the president assured the public that he will take executive action to fix the country’s immigration system by the end of the year. House Speaker Boehner has already warned Obama that executive action will obstruct the future passage of a comprehensive reform bill, so why is Obama, after a midterm drubbing of his party, raising the stakes with Republicans, when it seems as if he should be trying to find common ground? Simple: the president is on the line to act because he’s made this immigration promise to the American people before, and then backed down. And the American people have not forgotten: Exit polling after the midterm elections had nearly six in 10 voters saying they were “dissatisfied” with the president—with one in seven citing either foreign policy or immigration as the reason. Obama has to act, to fulfill his promise, and to preserve his legacy as a president…

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This morning’s must read: @seungminkim’s Proxy fight–several GOP senators positioning themselves around an immigration fight

If the Senate GOP leadership permits Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to turn the Lynch Attorney General confirmation hearing into a proxy fight over the President’s authority to make the immigration system work better until Congress passes an overhaul of the dysfunctional law, it’ll be proof positive that the GOP has been gaming the country on immigration reform the whole time, that they never intended to do anything other than implement the nativists’ mean spirited call for “self deportation.”

Posted on Politico

By Seung Min Kim

11/10/14 11:24 PM EST

Updated 11/11/14 5:58 AM EST

Senate Republicans plan to turn the battle over attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch into a larger debate over immigration, using the confirmation hearings as a proxy war over presidential power rather than a debate over Lynch’s qualifications.

Lynch, who would be the first black female attorney general, is considered a strong nominee, with a long record as a federal prosecutor. That makes the political fight over Barack Obama and his executive powers a much better bet for Republicans who took control of the Senate riding the president’s unpopularity.
Story Continued Below

The Republicans’ early strategy, according to comments from senators and several Republican aides close to the Judiciary Committee, centers on whether the president has the authority to bypass Congress on immigration — allowing Republicans to write their own narrative on the nomination.

“The president is increasingly on a smaller and smaller island if he goes forward with this action and the next item of business is the nomination of the attorney general,” one Senate Republican aide said Monday. “Don’t underestimate the capacity for that to become a major battle front.”

Several GOP senators are publicly positioning themselves around an immigration fight.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have signaled that immigration will be a large part of their line of questioning against Lynch when her confirmation process begins, which they said should happen after the new Republican majority is seated in January.

“The nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law,” Cruz and Lee said in a joint statement. “Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the president’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strategy.
But Hill Democrats say the Republican plan could backfire.
“I don’t think that issue should be central to Loretta Lynch’s confirmation,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Monday, adding that he said he wanted to see Lynch considered and confirmed “promptly.”

Since Attorney General Eric Holder said in September he planned to step down, a handful of other Senate Republicans have signaled the issue of executive action on immigration would be a central issue in confirming his successor. For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has, for weeks, been encouraging fellow senators to oppose any replacement for Holder who does not “firmly reject” Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration.

The chatter is preliminary — Congress is officially back in session Wednesday, and senators will have more time then to hash out a more formal strategy on Lynch’s nomination process. But key aides on Monday sketched out an initial strategy that centers on grilling Lynch — the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York — over Obama’s pending immigration action and whether she backs it.

A slew of other hot-button issues are sure to surface during Lynch’s confirmation hearings, such as the Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, the contentious debate over voter ID laws and executive overreach, Republican aides added.

“Decisions and actions by President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made the proper bounds of executive power a critically important issue for this confirmation process,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Monday, signaling that will be a priority in deciding whether to confirm Lynch.

But the dominant issue will be immigration — and President Barack Obama’s looming executive action that could potentially halt deportations for millions of immigrants here without legal status. Obama has promised to keep his pledge to Latino and immigration advocates to act on deportations by the end of the year.

Senate Democrats don’t think the strategy will work.

“With Republicans on these issues, they always run the risk of overreach,” added a Senate Democratic leadership aide. “She’s not tied to the administration, she hasn’t had a tie to any of these past executive actions. … Efforts to tie her down to that stuff would come across as overly political.”

No decisions have been made on when the Senate will take up Lynch’s nomination to be the nation’s chief law enforcement official, officials said Monday. But one Democratic leadership aide said senators were leaning toward installing Lynch in the new Congress, when the GOP will be in control of the chamber.

Senate Democrats are banking on the view that the twice-confirmed Lynch, who would be the nation’s first black female attorney general with the Senate’s blessing, would be qualified enough to be confirmed under a Democratic- or GOP-led chamber.

“She should have no difficulty whatsoever on the merits,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Monday. “There is not a scintilla of factual basis to challenge her.”
The lame-duck session leaves an already truncated timeline to handle a high-profile nomination such as attorney general, and Congress is already buried under other must-do legislative priorities. The process to confirm Lynch has barely started on Capitol Hill — the Judiciary Committee has yet to receive Lynch’s paperwork, an aide said — and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has made National Security Agency reform his top priority in the lame-duck session.

Republicans prefer to leave the task of confirming Lynch to the new Congress. Presumptive incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that Lynch should be “considered in the new Congress through regular order.”

Incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has pledged a “very fair, but thorough” vetting, noting that U.S. attorneys are “rarely” promoted straight to the attorney general spot.
“So I look forward to learning more about her, how she will interact with Congress and how she proposes to lead the department,” he said.

In theory, the Senate could begin the nomination process in the lame-duck session under Leahy and continue in the new Congress under Grassley, Democratic aides said. When the Senate considered the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general in 2001, a handful of the hearings were held under Leahy and later under Hatch, who assumed the Judiciary chairmanship in late January 2001.

But that option doesn’t appear to be under serious consideration for now, and Republicans are sure to gain seats on the Judiciary Committee in the new Congress. If the process begin during the current Congress and continues into the next, new Republican members may not get the opportunity to question Lynch.

Still, other Senate Democrats want to clear her nomination quickly. In an interview Monday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said confirming Holder’s successor should be done as soon as possible, pointing to the continuing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as one area that awaits the incoming attorney general.

“I believe we have an obligation to confirm the attorney general as quickly as we can,” McCaskill said. “I think we need to do our work, unless there’s a problem with this woman’s background.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

WATCH: The politics of immigration reform–American needs it, so why don’t we have it?

WATCH VIDEO: SELESTE ASKS PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT TO DEPORT HER HUSBAND PEDRO

From America’s Voice

Watch Seleste’s message begging President Obama not to deport her husband below, then sign the petition to keep Pedro at home!

There’s so much at stake for this family — will you take a moment and help?

Send a message telling immigration officials in the Obama Administration to stop Pedro’s deportation now!

What Obama’s delay on executive action means for immigrant families

David Leopold:

My client, Mr. Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, is the primary caretaker for Juan, his 25 year old step-son who suffers from severe cerebral palsy. Pedro cares for Juan’s physical and emotional needs. Pedro is also a father to 3 more U.S. citizen children. But ICE Detroit views him as an “immigration enforcement priority”. A year ago, after we fought tooth and nail for a reprieve, ICE agreed that Pedro should be permitted to stay with his family. But last week, in cold bureaucratic fashion, ICE refused to extend Pedro’s stay. He again faces immediate deportation.

How will tearing apart this loving American family make our borders safer and our communities more secure?

Originally posted on Voxxi:

Obama is determined to take action

Immigration advocates are pointing to the human cost of President Barack Obama’s decision to postpone taking executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections in November. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

For Seleste Wisniewski and her four children, President Barack Obama’s decision to postpone executive action on immigration until after the November elections could have real consequences. It could mean her husband will be deported to Mexico in the next few days.

Wisniewski’s husband, Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, was notified last week that his one-year reprieve from deportation won’t be extended for another year. His attorney has asked immigration officials to reconsider their decision but has little hope that Hernandez will be allowed to stay.

“The only thing I’m asking for help is to stay with my family,” Hernandez said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “I don’t want to be separated from them. They need me and I need them.”

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