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Topic: immigration reform
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November 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
In New Jersey last week, Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election provided a shining example of how Republicans nationwide might woo more women and Latino voters. (Here’s a link to a New York Times report on that race.)
Two days later, I was reminded why those two voter blocs tend to lean toward Democratic candidates when former Washington GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur posted this message to his Twitter account:
iI missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly…#wagop
— Kirby Wilbur (@KirbyWilbur) November 8, 2013
Wilbur’s low-blow comment followed the arrest last Thursday of 33 women after they staged a non-violent sit-in at the Washington State Republican Party’s Bellevue headquarters. As The Seattle Times’ Lornet Turnbull reported, Mayor Mike McGinn’s wife, Peggy Lynch, was among those arrested after calling on the state’s GOP congressional delegates to urge a vote on comprehensive immigration reform before year’s end.
When asked by Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner whether his tweet was appropriate, Wilbur responded, “Yup.” Someone give this man a clue. This is not how you bring new voters into the party.
Women have played a critical role in keeping the immigration reform debate alive in recent months. For good reason, too. Women and children make up three-quarters of the country’s immigrant population, according to We Belong Together co-chair and OneAmerica founder Pramila Jayapal. (Read this Colorlines report on how women have more to lose if reform efforts go nowhere.) Jayapal warns women immigrants are more susceptible to abuse from partners and employers. Without legal status, crimes against them often go unreported and victims lack access to critical services.
Thursday’s act of civil disobedience in Bellevue would not have occurred in the first place if lawmakers just did their job to discuss ways to fix the country’s broken immigration system. With 16 days left in the session, the House is on the verge of squandering a bipartisan opportunity to pass landmark reforms. Washington’s Republican delegates must join the three other members of their party who’ve already spoken up to urge a vote.
Here’s an excerpt from our board’s Saturday editorial in The Seattle Times, which supports a House Democratic effort to pass the Senate’s version of a comprehensive immigration package that includes a path to citizenship:
While U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, is a leader in the House Democrats’ effort as a bill sponsor, disappointingly none of Washington’s House Republicans are agitating for immigration reform.
Religious leaders, business owners and farmers are on board. A statewide survey released in September by KCTS 9 and Latino Votes shows 73 percent of 800 respondents support allowing law-abiding workers a process to come out of the shadows.
Yet Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Dave Reichert of Auburn, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas and Doc Hastings of Pasco remain strangely ambivalent on an issue that has major implications for each of their districts.
They should urge the House Republican leadership to schedule a vote.
September 19, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Watch the one-minute video below released by House Republicans this week and tell me what’s missing:
Notice there’s zero mention of immigration reform? Offering lip service to Latinos for their contributions to America, then refusing to address one of this fast-growing voting bloc’s chief issues makes House Republicans look out of touch.
In the Times editorial board’s Thursday editorial, we argue for three of four Washington Republican congressional members — U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Doc Hastings of Pasco and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas — to rally behind a comprehensive immigration reform package that includes a path to citizenship. (more…)
June 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Comprehensive immigration reform is easy to bash when you look at a bunch of policy reforms on paper.
Many Americans get it. Some don’t. This is really about people. Living, breathing human beings. There’s no better way to understand the need for changes to the way we treat the issue of citizenship in the United States than to hear the personal stories of individuals who are living in the shadows.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray delivered a strong opening speech before Congress Wednesday as the chamber opened the floodgates to a national debate on reforming immigration laws. She outlined a pragmatic approach to the problem while standing beside a a giant poster-sized photo of two Washington state sisters, Mari and Adriana Barrera. The two were raised by a single mother and began working from a young age. When one sibling fell terribly ill, the other pledged to become a doctor. Unfortunately, she recently had to drop out of the University of Washington because she could not afford tuition and did not qualify for financial aid. That’s the price young people have to pay when they are raised in and thrive in the U.S., but lack a valid nine-digit code known as a social security number. It’s inhumane for us to limit their talent and brain power, which are often cultivated in American schools.
Watch Murray’s 15-minute speech below. As the debate continues, I hope other lawmakers bring forth similar stories of determination and survival. They should remember these stories before they vote.
Whatever happens in Washington, D. C. in the coming months will affect our state in profound ways, whether we’re talking about laying the groundwork for the high-tech sector to maintain jobs here or keeping up with the labor demands of our agricultural economy. As this February Slate map shows, there are approximately 230,000 undocumented immigrants within Washington. They make up about 3 percent of our statewide population and 5 percent of our total labor force (and very likely a much higher percentage of our farm workers).
May 22, 2013 at 12:44 PM
The U.S. Senate is on the verge of debating comprehensive immigration reform, and there are signs Republicans and Democrats are cooperating to finally pass a substantial bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s 13-5 decision Monday to send the measure to the floor is a big deal, and though I support equal rights for same-sex couples (and this board advocates enthusiastically for same-sex marriage), now is not the time for any special interest groups to exploit an emotional issue that risks killing the entire legislation.
Here’s an Associated Press story outlining the sweeping changes in the proposal. In general, the bill provides a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and a legal means for foreign workers of all skills levels to cross the border. The measure was in limbo for days over a proposed amendment that would have granted gay Americans the right to obtain a green card for their foreign-born partners. Some Republicans call the idea a “non-starter.”
I think that view is antiquated and totally unfair, but we have to deal with the issue before us. Comprehensive immigration reform needs the support of both parties to get anywhere. As the editorial board noted in April 10 and April 20 editorials, it’s taken nearly three decades to reach this point.
Focusing on making immigration laws more effective doesn’t mean we have to sweep the struggles of same-sex couples under the rug. It means we should simultaneously look at changing the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act. Repealing DOMA would make this controversy over granting visas to foreign-born partners a non-issue. The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in any day now.
Not an ideal solution, but a pragmatic one that will — eventually — satisfy everyone.
May 7, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Recent Seattle Times stories about the H-1B visa program offered a lot of food for thought on immigration reform. The first story explored whether technology companies and other leading industries use this area of the immigration law to favor skilled foreign workers over equally skilled American workers. Some labor economists argue that American companies take the easy way out by hiring from abroad rather than choosing unemployed American workers with similar skills. Other labor economists, joined by Microsoft, Facebook and other technology companies, argue that thousands of jobs would go unfilled if not for the visa program.
The second story shined a spotlight on the lives of spouses of H-1B visa holders. They hold the immigration status of H-4 visa spouse. They are often educated and experienced in their field but they are not legally authorized to work. They do not have a Social Security number. Some are able to seek H-1B visas on their own – a time-consuming and expensive process for employers – or the spouses may take classes and hold out hope for one day returning to the workforce either here or in their native country.
These spouses, largely women, are not sitting idly at home. (more…)
April 30, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Calls for comprehensive immigration reform center around the people who left other countries and made it here. But what of those who set out to come here but never made it?
Since 1998, more than 2,000 dead bodies have been found in Arizona’s Sonora Desert. They are the remains of migrants braving the desert’s hellish temperatures to cross into the U.S. Last night, PBS aired The Undocumented, a powerful documentary film that follows Marcos Hernandez as he searches for his father,Francisco, who vanished while walking through the Sonora.
The documentary’s power lies in gritty interviews, haunting music and spare narration. The dead lie unidentified in morgues but filmmaker Marco Williams makes sure they do not go unremarked upon.
In the U.S. the immigration debate takes on academic tones thick with numbers and legal statuses. (more…)