Posts Tagged ‘Immigration Reform’

Deportations, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and Social Security

Monday, July 1st, 2013

By Robby Stern 

Imagine a young child or a teen ager living in constant fear that their parents will be deported and sent to another country, permanently separated from their family. The Obama administration has deported over a million undocumented immigrants creating many fractured families.

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate as I write this column would help to alleviate some of the suffering now experienced by immigrant families. The deportations are a tragedy. Many of the people being deported would be able to remain in the country legally under the provisions of the legislation now before the Senate.

There is a “rolling fast” happening across the country which began on May 1 in Mountainview, CA. The message is “Not One More”. Day laborers, domestic workers and their allies have participated in the fast in Florida, New Jersey and Oregon. Participants are bearing moral witness to the impact of the deportations and the necessity of humane comprehensive immigration reform.

The fast arrives in Seattle on July 2nd. Coordinated by Casa Latina, different organizations are taking responsibility for providing members who will fast and programming for each of the days from July 2nd – July 6th. The theme of the fast and the activities associated with the fast are to send the message that deportations should be suspended while Congress debates the immigration reform proposals.

On July 5th and 6th, PSARA will participate with the other steering committee organizations of the Caring Across Generations campaign: PSARA, Casa Latina, SEIU Healthcare 775NW and Washington CAN. Each organization will provide volunteers who will fast from 9 a.m. on July 5th to 9 a.m. on July 6th.

Kristen Beifus and I have volunteered to fast on behalf of PSARA.

As a first generation American, my family experienced the struggles of immigrant families. My parents and older brother fled Germany in 1938 after my Dad was incarcerated in a slave labor camp for the crime of being a Jew. The lives of immigrant families can be very difficult and it is wrong to add to that burden the threat of family separation.

Any PSARA member who wishes can join us in this fast and day of activity. We will gather at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 5th, at the South Side Commons and have our last meal for the next 24 hours. Following the meal there will be a workshop on the need for immigration reform led by members of SEIU 775. At 4 p.m. at Casa Latina we will gather for a film about immigration and a discussion after the film. We will then adjourn to Temple Beth Am where Hilary Stern will deliver the sermon for the Friday night Sabbath service.

At 9 a.m., on Saturday, July 6th, the Caring Across Generations members will break their fast and all the members of the organizations that had participated during the entire week will gather for a final breakfast together and a sharing of stories.

Call the PSARA office if you would like to participate.

I realize that the newsletter may get to your homes after these activities. We are trying to get the newsletter to you early. An email will be sent to all members for whom we have email addresses inviting them to participate.

The fight for comprehensive immigration reform promises to continue for several months. We will continue to provide opportunities to help.

Social Security & Immigration Reform

A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that if undocumented immigrants acquire legal status and citizenship, they will end up contributing much more to the Social Security system than they will receive in benefits over the next three decades when the Social Security system is paying benefits to the baby boomer generation. The average age of undocumented immigrants is 36. Most will not be eligible for benefits until the baby boomer generation has, for the most part, passed through the system. The Social Security system will be financially stronger as a result of comprehensive immigration reform.

This study is consistent with the very recent Congressional Budget Office Report that found that the immigration reform bill now before the Senate would significantly reduce the federal deficit as a result of the tax revenue that would be generated by the newly legalized immigrants.

Letter from Congressman Reichart on Chained CPI

I wrote to Rep. Reichart on behalf of PSARA asking him to oppose the proposal for adopting the Chained CPI. Here are some excerpts from his response:

“…Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently stated at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing the ‘the Chained CPI is a more accurate measure of inflation in that it does a better job of reflecting the substitution of goods in response to relative price changes.’ Additionally, Lew noted that the provision was included in the President’s recently released Fiscal Year 2014 budget.”

The President has given Rep. Reichart and others in the House Republican Caucus cover for voting in favor of the cut to Social Security benefits. The substitution theory that is the foundation of the Chained CPI, (i.e. if the price of oranges goes up, people buy more apples) does not apply to the cost of health care which is one of the biggest cost items for Social Security beneficiaries.

Pres. Obama has done a idsservice to the American people by including cuts to Social Security in his 2014 budget proposal.

Care Workers and Immigration Reform

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

By Hilary Stern, Executive Director of Casa Latina & a PSARA member 

Every day, hundreds of thousands of undocumented women go to work in homes across the country, caring for children, parents and grandparents; they clean, wash, teach, support and cook. Some live in their employers’ homes. Others commute long distances to work. They do the work that makes all other work possible.

And they are part of a global pattern of migration across borders in search of work and a better life for their families.

Domestic workers have faced generations of exclusion from basic labor protections. Isolated in the workplace, they are among the most invisible and vulnerable workers in the workforce today. As a result of our current immigration laws, many are trapped in undocumented status without a roadmap to citizenship.

Now for the first time in twenty years, we have the opportunity to change that with a comprehensive immigration bill that brings people out of the shadows and meets our future labor needs.

The Caring Across Generations campaign, of which PSARA is a member, is a broad coalition of consumer and employer groups, unions, women’s and worker groups that has a shared interest in a stronger care workforce. We support a comprehensive approach to win citizenship for people that are here. We also support revising the visa program to meet our future labor needs, including our increasing need for caregivers for our aging population.

Presently, a mostly immigrant workforce provides care for 12 million aging and disabled Americans. By 2050 the number of Americans who need care will grow to 27 million. Any immigration legislation should include protections and access to citizenship for domestic and care workers who are helping to fill an urgent and important labor shortage—including a road to citizenship for workers who are currently present in the country and all those who may come in the future.

Legislative proposals are being debated. We need to be vigilant and pay attention to the details. For example, eligibility for legalization should not depend on proving continuous employment. Having to prove continuous employment will exclude many if not most domestic and care workers from a legalization program. Care workers often have gaps in their employment history when their clients die or when they need to piece together informal arrangements with a variety of families. Basing eligibility solely on employment history would also exclude elderly and disabled relatives who are living with immigrant families.

Other priorities include making sure that the fees are affordable, that there is a variety of documentation that can be used to prove presence, that English language requirements are not impossible obstacles and that the Affordable Care Act includes aging and disabled immigrants.

Legislation is moved forward by compelling stories of real people. If you know someone who is an undocumented caregiver that cares for a loved one, tell us your story. Help us put a human face on this issue and pass an immigration reform that strengthens our ability to care for each other.

Contact Robby Stern, president@psara.org or Susie Levy susie@washingtoncan.org with your story.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

By Rich Stolz, Executive Director, One America & a PSARA member

Momentum is developing in Congress behind immigration reform in the new year. Coming out of the November elections, President Obama is now speaking with conviction and Republicans in the House and Senate seem willing to work toward an agreement. We’ve been though several rounds on this issue, but the opening in 2013 feels different.

The Obama administration anticipates heading into the new year with immigration reform as its first major initiative. They have projected an ambitious timetable: a bill through the Senate and, they hope, the House before the August recess. The timing of an immigration bill may depend on resolution of the troublesome deficit issue.

Administration officials say we can expect the White House to set forth its principles on comprehensive immigration reform early next year. The administration is already gathering feedback from stakeholders to shape what advocates hope will be a progressive-leaning proposal.

In addition, a bipartisan group of senators has begun to work on a bill. Democratic Senators Schumer of New York, Menendez of New Jersey, Durbin of Illinois and Bennett of Colorado are working with Republican Senators Graham of South Carolina and McCain of Arizona. This group has laid out a timetable for its own negotiations. They have already been meeting and expect to have a bill ready to introduce in February.

In the House, no official actions are being taken, but Speaker Boehner has recognized the need for reform both publicly and privately, and a bipartisan House group is beginning to discuss the outlines of a bill. House passage is expected to be a rough road, with many thorny issues to be worked out.

Our task in Washington State will be to work with the Democratic members of our delegation to develop the strongest possible bill. We’ll also need to put energy into winning Republican votes for the final legislation.

One America appreciates PSARA’s commitment to the Congressional campaign. Millions of undocumented immigrants in our country are forced to live in fear of separation from their families and enforced departure from the country they have made their home. Together, we’ll fight for just and humane immigration reform for these millions.