Microsoft word - immigration rule change talking points 140216
GROWING PRESSURE ON WHITE HOUSE DEPORTATION POLICY WILL IMPROVE CHANCES FOR REFORM BACKGROUND and TALKING POINTS MEMO from The National Day Laborer Organizing Network 1) Stopping Deportations is part of ‘Plan A’ for Immigration Reform
If the President’s approach to immigration evolves quickly and he takes action like he did with DACA(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), he can provide immediate relief for millions of people, solidify a national mandate for immigration reform, and improve chances for legislative victory in the House.
The conventional wisdom that we have to wait until CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform) fails before “pivoting” to focus pressure on the White House is based on false and defeatist assumptions. NDLON’s (National Day Laborer Organizing Network) view is that an immediate, formal reduction of deportations and expansion of relief is (a) legally permissible, (b) morally compelled; and (c) politically wise given the current dynamics in Congress. 2) The Sí Se Puede Rulemaking Petition: Building Unity around the principle that the President CAN Act.
While we are continuing to dialogue and build consensus about when and how the President should act, there is a need to separate the legal and political discussions to increase leverage in Congress and maximize room for maneuver. For too long, we have allowed the questions of legal constraints and political calculus to be conflated as the Administration erroneously relied upon a false deportation quota as the driver of its policy and legislative strategy.
The 41 page rulemaking documented submitted to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) closes the conversation on whether the President can significantly reduce deportations. (Organizations can read it and co- sign here).
Can the President reduce deportations, end S-Comm, and expand DACA? Yes, of course he can, as a legal matter. The conversation on administrative action is now purely political: Should the President do all of the above? Whether or not one thinks the President should exercise better discretion in immigration policy at this moment, it can only help create political space for reformers if we project unity on the most expansive answer to the can questions.
3) Countering Nativists in the GOP
In the absence of unity regarding the administrative authority option, Tea Party Republicans in the House will continue to control the whip hand on the comprehensive immigration reform debate. They will divide us on citizenship bottom lines, they will extract more unreasonable enforcement concessions, they will do this without any assurance of progress toward legalization, and the debate will continue to move inexorably to the right as we shadow box with a phantom GOP bill.
It is possible and even likely that the GOP will eventually unify around “a DREAM plus significant enforcement” proposal in order to put tepid Democrats further on their heels. The President must help reformers negotiate from a position of strength commensurate with the power immigrants have earned through risk and sacrifice. He can do this by getting on the right side of a nascent but growing social movement (and the right side of history).
TALKING POINTS The following are some suggested talking points to be considered and used as appropriate:We agree with the President that 2014 is a year of ACTION. Courageous action by a growing cadre of immigrant civil rights leaders has been the single most powerful factor in driving immigration reform onto the national agenda. Bravery of undocumented immigrants and workers has galvanized national consensus that the status quo is unjust and in need of reform. It’s time for a new tactic: Instead of the failing “Enforcement-First” capitulation to Republicans, the President should embrace a “legalization-first” down payment approach to create a win-win dynamic in the House. The House Republicans have long said that they would not take up the Senate bill, do their own thing, and demand enforcement-first before any legalization. The recent GOP standards document reiterated that position, showing real distance between the House GOP “reformer” position and the Senate bipartisan bill. Instead of reinforcing that narrative, advocates can pressure Democrats to enter pending negotiations from a position of strength. Doing otherwise threatens to give room to Republicans to use lack of trust as an excuse for in action. Senator Marco Rubio (the Rubio that wasn’t yet lobbying against his own bill) was right on administrative relief. The prospect of the President acting will bring Republicans to the table. Even if extreme Republicans object to the idea, it will only strengthen pro-reform lawmakers’ hand to project the possibility of unilateral action by the President. DACA! DACA! DACA! It is the answer to the doubters. It is empirical proof that exercised discretion helps legislation. Despite the fact that the President, Republicans, and even some ally organizations opposed it, it is now clear that DACA demonstrated the power of undocumented immigrant-led action, it helped the President win re-election, and it propelled CIR back into Congress. Even though the House GOP has voted to defund DACA, their own standards document now favors citizenship- not just legalization, but citizenship! for DACA recipients. This is empirical proof that administrative action helped legislation. Does the President want immigration reform as an “issue” or “accomplishment?” While the White House view is not monolithic, there is a lingering perception among advocates and lawmakers on the Hill that the President is playing politics with immigration. And whereas the House Republicans have a strong and unified “hell no” caucus, Democrats have strikingly few champions who have laid it all on the line for reform. That can change if the President leads by example. The President can close a widening credibility gap through executive action. You don’t deport people in order to legalize them: The President’s immigration policy is at odds with his “Pen and Phone” approach to all other domestic issues. Can you imagine the President trying to build support for gun control legislation by promoting the use of automatic weapons on federal property? Or encouraging environmental legislation by calling on federal agencies to reduce their energy efficiency? It makes no sense. And it doesn’t make sense with immigration either. Deportation is the biggest roadblock to citizenship, a legalization agenda isn’t served by policies that criminalize immigrants. The President’s legal authority to exert discretion is self-evident. Robert Morgenthau is right. The President’s current deportation policy (quota, Secure Communities, Streamline, etc.) by definition proves that he has discretion and that he is exercising that discretion poorly. Despite a turning tide in state capitols throughout the country, DHS and the House GOP are still promoting Arizonification of the country. The extent to which DHS innovates brutal policies to criminalize immigrants is breathtaking, and yet the Republican standards document continues to make the remarkable claim that President Obama is soft on enforcement.
Linda Greenhouse was right! The President never challenged Arizona’s SB 1070 on civil rights grounds precisely because his DHS is an accomplice to rights violations. Section 2b of Arizona’s SB 1070 (the racial profiling provision) remains in effect, and the President’s discretionary SCOMM policy today more closely approximates Arizona’s odious law than it does the California TRUST ACT.
Even Joe Arpaio himself now acknowledges that DHS’s 287g program promotes racial profiling. Take a moment to let that sink in.
The President Can Reverse Course and the Time is Now. The President is scheduled to deport his 2 millionth person in April. He does not need to hit this historic record and we will be in the streets on April 5th to urge him to turn around.
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