Friday, June 29, 2007

Time to Start Over with Humane Reform

AFSC Responds to the Senate Vote Blocking Immigration Bill

Read the full press release>.

A failed vote on potential immigration reform legislation closed, for now, the possibility of critical improvements to the nation's obsolete and broken immigration system.

AFSC calls on Congress to return to the bipartisan table and to pursue legislation that includes a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants and keeps immigrant families together.

"The proposed legislation would have torn families apart, separating workers from loved ones," says Esther Nieves, AFSC's director of immigrant and refugee rights. "It increased the money the country wastes on border fences and agents, where we've squandered $440 billion in the past 12 years to create a humanitarian crisis on the border. It's time for sensible, humane policies, not more punitive posturing."

This week, an independent national survey conducted for AFSC found that a strong majority of the U.S. public believes that the broken, outdated immigration system needs fixing and that scapegoating immigrants and building more border fences are not the answer. The study also found that the vast majority of the U.S. public does not view immigrants as a threat to their jobs or safety.

AFSC stands with the majority of the public in hoping for effective and humane immigration reform. AFSC and its partners in immigrant communities nationwide continue to call upon Congress and the Bush administration to include immigrants as equal members and contributors in any future policy debate and to develop a sound immigration policy as soon as possible.

AFSC will continue to advocate with immigrant communities on behalf of immigrant rights and will work with local partners in 20 sites nationwide to end anti-immigrant raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, racial profiling and anti-immigrant discrimination.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

National Survey Results May Surprise You

For the past few weeks, AFSC has been conducting the a large, independent study on the U.S. public's views on immigration issues, and now the results are in.

Here are a few key findings:

  • The U.S. public strongly supports the idea that "keeping families together should be a priority in our immigration policies"

  • The public believes that the broken, outdated immigration system needs fixing, but that more border fences and scapegoating are not the answers.

  • Two-thirds of the public supports a legal path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for all undocumented immigrants who have built a life in this country.

AFSC's National Immigration Opinion Survey shows that the majority of the public supports more humane and less punitive measures than currently appear in the Senate bill.

Please help us show that we're not a silent majority. Below is a way you can support humane and effective policies.

Write a letter to the editor
Our web site lets you easily email a model letter or one of your own, to your local newspapers. As the Senate debates, their offices read letter to the editor pages to guage public opinion. Write a letter today>.

Also, if you're interested in the results of the National Immigration Opinion Survey, please visit Immigration Survey.

You can also take a shorter, 5-10 minute version of the survey online. If you'd like to share your opinions on immigration issues (confidentially), take the survey online.

Friday, June 22, 2007

ICE Raids Tear Communities Apart

Read the summer 2007 issue of Quaker Action for an article on how federal immigration raids in the U.S. are tearing communities and families apart. >Click here to read the full article.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Immigration Bill to Return to Senate Floor

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the immigration bill would return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill.

When the bill returns to the Senate floor, Senator Reid plans to add $4.4 bllion in guaranteed funding for border enforcement and other measures to be funded by the fees and penalties in the bill's new programs, he said in an official statement.

Under an agreement, each party is likely to be limited to about ten amendments, and votes could be completed in one or two days once the bill returns to the floor. According to Senator Reid, if the President and Republican Senators stall efforts, Democrats are prepared to work through weekends and the July 4 district work period.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Taxi Drivers Rally in Chicago

AFSC and Partners Support Taxi Drivers in Work Rights Actions

About the Taxi Worker Organizing Project

AFSC and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the premiere federated body representing the cross-section of over 400,000 Muslim Americans in the Greater Chicago area have created the Chicago Taxi Worker Organizing Project to support fair working conditions to Chicago's taxi drivers. Other sponsors include the Chicago Professional Taxicab Drivers Association; the United African Organization, Inc.; and the Council of American-Islamic Relations - Chicago Chapter.

The Taxi Worker Organizing Project is dedicated to humane working conditions for taxi drivers, fair wages and safety for drivers, customers and the public.

Video: Chicago Taxi Drivers Mobilize

Last week AFSC's Chicago office and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago held a rally and press conference to demand a temporary gas surcharge, no raising of the maximum lease rate permitted by the city, and a permanent 25% fare increase. Click on the image above to see a compilation of coverage from Fox 32, the Chicago Tribune, CBS 2 Chicago, and ABC 7 Chicago.

Other sponsors included the Chicago Professional Taxicab Drivers Association; the United African Organization, Inc.; and the Council of American-Islamic Relations - Chicago Chapter.

Taxi Driving Ranks as Nation's Most Dangerous Occupation

With present fares, gas prices, and lease rates, taxi drivers regularly work 12-16 hours per day just for minimum wages. Taxi driving, already the nation's most dangerous occupation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), further becomes one of the least healthful due to long hours, stressful working conditions, and a heightened risk of accidents and emergency health situations due to fatigue.

Drivers Testify About 12-16 Hour Days to Earn Minimum Wages

Taxi drivers rallied before the meeting of the Chicago City Council's Transportation Committee, which is considering both a temporary gas surcharge and fare increases. Drivers testified to the 12-16 hour work days, minimum wages, gas prices as the highest in the nation and the need to keep present caps on cab leases. Taxi driver Kenneth Cooper said, "We rank 18th in cab fares but we have the highest gas prices in the United States."

Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes said city officials are open to the proposal, but need to gather more data, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Public Ways Alderman Tom Allen (38th) requested comparisons on driver expenses, but said he is open to a temporary measure. "We're going to keep the pressure on," said taxi driver Wolfgang Weiss following the hearing.

For more information visit or contact AFSC Project Voice Network member Prateek Sampat at or (312) 427 - 2533.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Raids Send Wrong Message As Senate Stalls

"People shouldn't live in fear. We should be able to figure out what we're doing about immigration on a national level without people worrying about their safety." - Reverend Jim Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, Connecticut

Government Should Focus on Legislation, Officials Say

As the Senate stalls on a federal immigration reform bill, local and national officials point to recent federal raids in Portland, Oregon and New Haven, Connecticut as an indication of the need for national legislation.

Following last week's raids in New Haven, Connecticut, Senator Lieberman's Office stated that, "...the senator believes this raid represents another very good reason the Senate should pass comprehensive immigration reform" that would provide persons who are undocumented with a path to citizenship, according to spokesperson Leslie Phillips, the New Haven Register reports.

In an official statement following yesterday's federal raids in Portland, Oregon Mayor Joseph Potter said, "Our nation would be better served if this kind of energy was focused on creating a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship; addresses the immigration backlog that keeps families apart; and provides a safe and legal way for workers to enter our country and be productive workers and taxpayers."

"Immigrants provide more than mere labor in our community. They have long enriched our history, our culture and our city," said Mayor Potter.

Mayors of Portland and New Haven Criticize ICE Conduct

Both Mayor Potter of Portland and New Haven Mayor John DeStafano, Jr. criticized the conduct and policy by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcements (ICE).

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. called last week's federal immigration raids on residents of Fair Haven a "symbolic act of intimidation" following passage of a city plan to provide municipal identification cards to residents regardless of immigrant status.

The federal raid occurred only 36 hours after the New Haven Board of Aldermans approved the plan by a vote of 25 -1. The plan intends to give immigrants better access to city services and to help the police confirm their identities should they become targets of crime.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Kanoke called the suggestion that the raid was linked to the city's policies "bogus," the Yale Daily News reports.

New Haven plans to continue with the program for the identification cards, according to Kim Matos, community services administrator for the city.

Connecticut Representatives Request Response from DHS

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff dated June 11, 2007, Senators Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), and Chris Dodd (D-CT), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) requested detailed information about the conduct and timing of the raid in New Haven.

"Several aspects of the enforcement operation have raised concerns for us, the mayor of New Haven, and many residents in Connecticut," the legislators wrote in the letter. >To read the full text of the letter click here.

City Officials, Clergy, & Residents Show Community Solidarity

Community members in both New Haven and Portland continue to organize rallies, meetings, and legislative advocacy in response.

"People shouldn't live in fear. We should be able to figure out what we're doing about immigration on a national level without people worrying about their safety," said Reverend Jim Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven, Connecticut, the New Haven Independent reports.

According to David Amdur, an AFSC Project Voice network member based in Danbury, "There has been so much work here over the past years that immediately the city, grassroots groups, churches, elected leaders were all able to come together and take action to help the families that were hurt, provide assistance for those who were taken, and show broad, multi-racial community solidarity."

"We must denounce these gross and on going violations of human rights, while we continue to organize for the long run," said AFSC Project Voice New England regional organizer, Gabriel Camacho.


(1) Support the the March in Fair Haven on June 16th
3:00 pm on the Corner of Grande Avenue and Front Street
For More Information Contact: Pastor Emelio Hernandez (410-9407), Victor Gomez (675-1009) Junta (787-0191), ULA Fatima (479-2959) or ULA John Jairo (606-3484).

(2) Sign on to AFSC's Statement Calling to End the Raids

>To sign on to the statement click here.

AFSC believes that fixing the nation's broken immigration system, not the continuation of federal immigration raids, should be the primary policy goal of Congressional leaders and the Administration. We further call on ICE and other immigration authorities to adhere to policies that ensure the fair treatment and respect for the civil and constitutional rights of all detainees, access to legal counsel, and the ability to stay in close proximity to their loved ones.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Family Amendments Blocked in Senate

Two amendments to the Senate immigration bill supporting family unification failed yesterday after opponents of the amendments raised a point of order. The Menendez Amendment (#1194) would have moved the cutoff date for those currently in the backlog awaiting green cards from May 2005 to January 2007.

Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) raised a budget point of order, which requires 60 votes to waive and the amendment fell by a vote of 53 in favor and 44 opposed. A alternative amendment introduced by Senator John Kyl (#1460) passed by a vote of 51 in favor and 45 opposed.

"Make no mistake, this new amendment is merely smoke and mirrors," Senator Menendez (D-NJ) said. "With a vague definition of who is eligible and without an increase in visas to accommodate the additional applicants, hundreds of thousands of family members of American citizens and legal residents who were going through a legal process will be kicked out of line and put behind those who broke the law," he said. >For full press release click here.

A budget point of order was also raised against the Clinton Amendment (#1183), which would have reclassified the spouses and minor children of LPRs as "immediate relatives" thus exempting them from visa caps. The motion to waive the budget point of order failed by a vote of 44 in favor and 53 opposed. >To check how your member voted click here. A vote of "yea" indicates that your Senator wanted to move forward with a vote on the amendment.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Votes on Family Amendments TODAY

Updated at 1:00 PM EST

The Senate plans to vote on as many as 15 amendments TODAY on the immigration bill (S. 1348).

Amendments from yesterday's alert including the Menendez-Hagel amendment (#1194), which we support will be among them, since votes were postponed due to the memorial of Senator Thomas (R-WY). Thanks to your efforts, the Cornyn amendment (#1184) failed today by a vote of 46 in favor and 51 opposed.

Please take five minutes to call your Senators NOW so they know your views before they vote.

Call using this the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and follow the instructions to connect to the offices of your Senators.

Urge your Senators to

SUPPORT Amendment #1191 (Lieberman Amendment) to provide safeguards for the fair treatment of asylum seekers, protect them from unjust detention, and improve conditions of detention centers.

SUPPORT Amendment #1199 (Dodd Amendment) to increase the number of green cards for parents of U.S. citizens to 90,000 from 40,000.

SUPPORT Amendment #1183 (Clinton Amendment) to allow lawful permanent residents to sponsor their spouses and minor children to join them in the United States. Currently in the Senate bill, the "immediate relative" preference category applies only to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.

Call as soon as you can since voting will begin this morning. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It Only Takes a Minute - Call Your Senators

This week Senators will be voting on amendments to the immigration bill (S. 1348) this, workign toward final action as early as the end of this week or early next week.

The Senate plans to vote on the following amendments TODAY.

Call your Senators to urge them to

1. SUPPORT Amendment #1194 (the Menendez-Hagel amendment) to save families from unnecessary separation. Keep already-filed family reunification applications from being tossed out!

What is the Menendez-Hagel Amendment? Currently, the Senate immigration bill would throw out all family reunification applications filed after May 1, 2005 in order to clear up the backlog. While we all want to decrease the backlog, throwing out applications that have already been filed and paid for is not the solution.

Amendment #1194 would change the May 1, 2005, cut off date to January 1, 2007, thus saving thousands of families from unnecessary separation.

2. OPPOSE Amendment #1184 (the Cornyn amendment), which effectively eliminates any chance for earned legalization for millions of immigrants; allow secret, unchecked evidence to be used to deny citizenship, and subject millions to mandatory detention and mass deportation.

>For more information from the Rights Working Group on the Cornyn amendment click here.


Please continue to make those calls and send e-mails! >To send an e-mail click here.

So that you are well-prepared, please review Step 2 before your place your call!

Step 1: Please take five minutes to call your Senators NOW so they know your views before they vote.

Call using the Capitol Switchboard (202)-224-3121 and follow the instructions to connect to the offices of your Senators.

Step 2: Talking Points

(1) State your name and where you are from to establish that you are a constituent. If you have an established relationship with the office (district or DC) you should mention it briefly.

(2) Clearly state your position and refer to the amendment number.

I am calling to ask the Senator to

SUPPORT the Menendez Amendment SA 1194 to the immigration bill

OPPOSE the Cornyn Amendment SA 1184 to the immigration bill

(3) Briefly Share Your Story: Would you or your family member be affected by the May 2005 backlog cut off date? Briefly (a minute or less) present how this amendment affects you.

(4) Request a response. For example, "Could someone call or e-mail me to let me know how the Senator voted on these amendments?"

Is this your first time calling Congress? Here are some tips

Speak from your own voice. Do not read directly from the talking points.

Do not try to get the legislator on the phone. If the legislative assistant is not available graciously allow the receptionist to take your comment.

Keep your phone call brief and always be courteous.

Why should you call today?

Phone calls are critical today because amendments are in the process of being debated and voted on.

You play an important role in this process because you have opportunity to influence your Senator's vote with your local perspectives.

When a Senator receives large amount of phone calls before a vote that person knows that the people in their home state are paying close attention and that he or she should carefully consider the vote.

Thank you!

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Week Ahead: Action on Immigration

Upcoming Amendments
The Senate will resume consideration of the immigration bill (S. 1348) in the afternoon on Monday, June 4th. The next votes on amendments are expected on Tuesday, June 5th.

Positive Amendments

Menedez-Hagel (#1194) Family Backlog Deadlines
Would move the cut-off date for family backlog reduction from May 2005 to January 1, 2007. >For the action alert click here.

Clinton-Hagel (#1183) Spouses & Children of LPRs
Would move immediate relatives (spouses, minor children) of legal permanent residents (LPRs) from a capped category to the uncapped immediate relative category, thereby eliminating backlogs in this category. >For a sign on letter in support of this amendment click here.

Kerry Amendment to require Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide access to state social service agencies and legal orientation sessions for immigrants involved in enforcement raids.

Dodd-Menendez (#1199) Parents of US Citizens
Would increase the number of green cards for parents of U.S. citizens to 90,000 from 40,000.

Lieberman (#1191) Asylum and Detention Standards
Would establish detention standards for asylum-seekers and allow for release on bond for asylum-seekers.

Obama-Menendez (#1202) Sunset of the Merit System
Would sunset merit-based "point" system after five years.

Feingold (#1176) Study on treatment of WW II refugees

Negative Amendments

Cornyn (#1184) to limit eligibility for the "Z" legalization program by disqualifying those who committed document fraud, among other minor offenses.

Cornyn (#1250) Mandatory Disclosure of Information
Would restrict confidentiality protections (to protect against deportation) in the legalization program.

Grassley (#1166) to limit judicial review of visa revocations

Sessions (#1234 and #1235) Limitations on EITC
Would deny earned-income tax credit (EITC) to Z and Y visa holders and #1235 would deny EITC to legal immigrants in the country five years or less.

McConnell (#1170) Voter ID

The Week Ahead
Saturday, June 2nd
Rally for Humane Immigration Reform at the US Capitol

Join the AFSC DC Peace and Economic Justice Program and the National Capital Immigration Coalition (NCIC) for a rally for just and humane immigration reform.

1:00 pm
US Capitol, West Steps [Union Station (Red Line) or Capitol South (Blue/Orange Line)Metro Stations stop]
Contact: Jean-Louis Peta Ikambana at (202) 544-0324.

Sunday, June 3rd

Congressman Grijalva Hosts Immigration Forum in Tuscon, AZ
Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) will host an Immigration Community Forum, which will also be attended by STRIVE Act sponsor Representative Luis Guitierrez (D-IL). Members of Tucson's Voces Inmigrantes of Arizona (VIA) committee will be attending to share their concerns and perspectives.

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
El Pueblo Neighborhood Center
101 W. Irvington Road., Tucson, AZ
Contact: Sebastian Quinac or Carolina Issacs at (520) 623-9141.

Monday, June 4th

Senate and House members return from Memorial Week recess and Senate resumes debate on the immigration bill (S. 1348).

48-Hour Solidarity Vigil Begins in Des Moines, Iowa
On Monday, June 4, the AFSC Iowa program and other immigrants rights organizations are starting a 48-hour solidarity vigil for fair immigration reform on Nollen Plaza in Des Moines. The vigil will being with a press conference on Monday and end with a religious service on Wednesday afternoon. Contact: Ann Naffier or Sandra Sanchez at (515) 274-4851.

Tuesday, June 5th
Votes on amendments to the Senate immigration bill (S. 1348) expected.

Wednesday, June 6th

House Continues Hearings on Immigration Reform
The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law continues hearings on immigration reform including:

Business Community Perspectives
9:00 AM
2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Government Perspectives on Immigration Statistics
2:00 PM
2141 Rayburn House Office Building

TAKE ACTION: Please continue to call, write and reach out to your Congressional leaders!

Invite friends, family members, colleagues and partner organizations to e-mail their Senators by going to the AFSC website:

For more information about activities in your region contact your nearest AFSC immigrants rights program. >For contact information click here.

Advisory: Beware of Immigration Fraud

At this time, U.S. Senate is debating immigration legislation and the bill has NOT passed into law.

Any organization or individual who claims that a new legalization plan has been enacted is committing fraud.

Protect yourself and your community. Do not pay anyone or any organization to assist with the "preparation of legalization paperwork."

Community Advisory from AFSC in English and Spanish
> Alert: Beware of Legalization Fraud
> Alerta de Fraude

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Notice
> Read the USCIS notice on immigration fraud