Message from the President & General Counsel
As a result of the exemplary participation and impact of Latino voters in November 2012, this year presents the first real opportunity to enact immigration reform in some time. Several weeks ago, a bipartisan group of eight United States senators introduced S.744, their agreed bill to accomplish comprehensive immigration reform. The bill includes a roadmap to citizenship for most of the millions of undocumented immigrants who have contributed over many years to our economy and our society without full legal rights and protections. A bill of compromise, S.744 also includes some troubling elements, and leaves out some important policies. There is still a chance to improve the reform under consideration. S.744 was amended in some positive ways, and subsequently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a couple of weeks ago. The bill will be taken up for debate by the full Senate this week.
While this is a significant milestone, there is still a ways to go -- and much work to do -- before we obtain immigration reform that will best serve the entire nation. There are still amendments needed to improve the bill, amendments adopted in committee that need to be defended, and dangerous amendments to guard against. At this point, it is important that the Latino community be heard on the elements of immigration reform that must be included and those that must be excluded. And, there is still time to have these important impacts.
I am proud that MALDEF is leading the Latino community in making its views known in Congress. As co-chair of the immigration committee for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of the 36 leading national Latino rights organizations, MALDEF has taken the lead in proposing over a dozen amendments, analyzing hundreds of introduced amendments, and ensuring that the Senate committee clearly understood NHLA's strongly-held positions on well over a hundred amendments. MALDEF will continue to lead in striving to improve the immigration reform being considered in Congress, and in getting the best reform enacted.
Of course, the hundreds of meetings with congressional leaders, analyzing of the bill and hundreds of amendments, and proposing and advocating for critical improvements requires staffing and other resources. MALDEF has added attorney staffing in our DC office because of the importance of this opportunity. Will you help us to continue this important work for immigration reform?
Please consider a donation in support of our efforts. Every amount helps to ensure that MALDEF has the greatest possible impact.
Even if you cannot provide financial support, please support the effort by making your views known to leaders and representatives in Congress about the critical elements for immigration reform. To aid in doing so, three items are linked to this message below: a brief summary of the bill as it goes to the Senate floor, a highlight of some of the critical amendments, and a recent blog post on one still-needed amendment. In making your views known, please consider using the Latinos United for Immigration Reform website, which provides a means to directly contact members of Congress. Latinos United is a project of NHLA, and can be found at latinosunited.org.
And, remember, if you can, please support MALDEF's ongoing efforts to secure progressive immigration reform with a donation!
Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - OVERVIEW OF S.744 - THE SENATE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL
When the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering S.744, the bipartisan immigration reform bill, it consisted of over 850 pages. The version now before the entire Senate is even longer, after the adoption of a number of amendments. Of course, such a lengthy bill is difficult to encapsulate, but it is critical that interested individuals weigh in with the House and Senate on the specific policies reflected in the bill. That is the only way we can hope to secure a better bill and prevent it from getting worse. MALDEF has created a two-page brief summary of the key elements of the bill as it goes to the full Senate. MALDEF hopes that this piece is helpful in forming your views and making your views known on the critical elements of immigration reform.
You can access the summary here: http://www.maldef.org/assets/pdf/S744_ExS.pdf.
MALDEF'S BRIEF OVERVIEW OF S.744 - THE SENATE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL
As noted above, we are still early in the legislative process on congressional consideration of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. What the final product may look like is still a distant development. Nonetheless, approving amendments that improve the bill -- and defeating amendments that would worsen the bill -- are critical tasks. As explained above, MALDEF and the NHLA are promoting amendments that improve, and working to defeat those that would make the bill worse. MALDEF has created a brief summary of some of these critical amendments. Paralleling the bill's number (S.744), we have identified what we believe are the top 7 good amendments (plus one bonus) still needed to improve the bill, the top 4 best amendments (plus one bonus) already adopted in the Judiciary Committee, and the top 4 worst amendments (plus one bonus) defeated in the Judiciary Committee. MALDEF will be urging the full Senate to adopt the first group of amendments, to preserve the second group, and to continue to reject the third group.
The 7-4-4 amendments summary is available here: http://www.maldef.org/assets/pdf/744onS744.pdf
Huffington Post - Opinion Editorial by Thomas A. Saenz, President & General Counsel, MALDEF "Federal Reform Must Bar State and Local Regulation of Immigration"
As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates S.744, the bipartisan immigration reform bill, few would question that last November's election vote -- particularly the disproportionate support of Latinos for the president -- motivated congressional consideration of immigration reform after many years with no progress. The key question is whether lawmakers will properly interpret the November vote and pass a bill whose provisions reflect the interests and concerns of the Latino community, or will make another foolishly reductionist mistake and conclude that Latinos will accept any bill labeled "immigration reform." As S.744 moves through the legislative process, we will learn the answer to this question -- and a sense of how serious the two parties are in courting the growing Latino vote.
click here to read the full story...
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
For all media inquiries, please contact Larry Gonzalez.