Hispanic / Latino

Cost of citizenship to rise

The LA Times has a great article about the proposed hike in costs for citizenship and permanent residency applications. The application fees would go from $330 to $595, and other hikes include those for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking investor green cards, who would face an increase from $475 to $2,850. Work permits would rise from $180 to $340, and those for family visas would increase from $190 to $355.

Why the increase? The article points out that Emilio T. Gonzalez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency faced a $1-billion shortfall for the next two fiscal years and was legally required to raise its own revenue to balance its books. In 2002, Congress gave it a five-year special appropriation of $460 million to eliminate a backlog that peaked at 3.8 million cases and to meet a presidential mandate to process applications within six months.

Immigrants send a record $23 billion home

The Dallas Morning News points out that Mexican immigrants sent a record $23 billion home in 2006. The article cites reduced sending costs and increased migration for the rise, which is the fifth straight of its kind. Roberto Suro from the Pew Hispanic Center disagrees. He "noted that Central Bank figures show a doubling of money transfers from $10 billion five years ago, and illegal immigration hasn't doubled in that time."

NDN's good friend Sergio Bendixen, who will be speaking at NDN's forum next week, was also quoted, saying that part of the increase is because the prosperity of Mexican workers has swelled:

"These immigrants are making some good money in the United States, and, therefore, they are able to send more," Mr. Bendixen said.

Immigration reform has potential

The Los Angeles Times has a great article on the potential of passing comprehensive immigration reform with a Democrat-controlled Congress. The article highlights the influence of Rep. Zoe Lofgren, saying:

In the House, where these conservatives could derail a bill, the job of finding that elusive middle ground falls to Rep. Zoe Lofgren. The San Jose Democrat, who heads the immigration subcommittee, has been buttonholing lawmakers, quizzing them between votes and hosting formal meetings.

"There's a way to deal with this," she said. "The Republicans I've listened to make it clear they're open to dialogue, to practical solutions."

NDN continues to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and you can view our work on our website.

Congressman Becerra Gives Democratic Spanish-Language Pre-SOTU Address

Congressman Becerra spoke clearly and persuasively on a range of issues last night, coming out particularly strong for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Click the picture to watch the speech.

Bill Richardson Anuncia para la Presidencia de EEUU

Bill Richardson isn't the first candidate to announce he's running for President by posting an online video announcement, but he is the first to do it in English and Spanish.  It's worth thinking about how his appeal to Spanish-speaking voters might impact the Democratic primary campaign.  As we've written about many time before, Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the country and are increasingly disaffected with conservatives in the wake of the ongoing battle over immigration reform.

Bi-partisan signs of progress on immigration reform

For those of eager to reform the nation's broken immigration system there have been some encouraging signs of progress in recent days:

- The GOP made a Cuban immigrant, and great champion of comprehensive immigration reform, the Chairman of their Party.  It is an important sign of the President's commitment to passing a bill this year, and for Republicans it helps provide some distance from their shameful demonization of immigrants in last year's election.   

- A new coalition of powerful grassroots groups has formed to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.  It is aptly named Alliance for Immigration Reform 2007. 

- The Democrats pick Denver as their convention site in 2008.  To fully capitalize on their choice of Denver in the 2008 elections, Democrats will want to show the Hispanics of the southwest and the nation that they helped fix the broken immigration system, and brought an end to a debate that has become seen in this community as anti-Hispanic.

- Finally, in his State of the Union Preview yesterday, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar made it clear that passing comprehensive immigration reform was an important Democratic priority this year. 

Given how contentious this issue was in 2006, there is no doubt that it will take a lot of work to get it done in 2007.  But I remain optimistic, and we will be using all means available to NDN to get this important legislation passed this year. 

For more on NDN's work promoting immigration reform, visit the immigration section of our website at www.ndn.org/immigration.

REP. BECERRA A CARGO DE RESPUESTA DEMÓCRATA EN ESPAÑOL AL DISCURSO SOBRE EL ESTADO DE LA UNIÓN DEL PRESIDENTE

Por favor de prestar atención al anuncio que se ha dado: se informa que la Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, Nancy Pelosi, ha escogido al Congresista Xavier Becerra para emitar la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión.

REP. BECERRA A CARGO DE RESPUESTA DEMÓCRATA EN ESPAÑOL AL DISCURSO SOBRE EL ESTADO DE LA UNIÓN DEL PRESIDENTE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – La Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes Nancy Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Harry Reid anunciaron hoy que el Congresista Xavier Becerra de California, Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, y el único miembro del Congreso de California del Sur que forma parte del poderoso Comité de Medios y Arbitrios emitirá la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión el próximo martes, 23 de enero, 2007.

“Estamos orgullosos de que el Congresista Xavier Becerra emita la respuesta en español este año,” dijeron la Presidenta de la Cámara Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Reid. “Su intelecto profundo y su experiencia substantiva de la política pública le han hecho un líder nacional en cuanto a varios temas de importancia para los latinos y todos los estadounidenses. Como ex Presidente del Caucus Hispano Congresional y como integrante nuevo del Liderazgo Demócrata, como Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, el Congresista Becerra fortalece las voces de los latinos y del Partido Demócrata por todo el país.”

“Es un día nuevo y una dirección nueva,” dijo el Rep. Becerra. “Me siento honrado que la Presidenta Pelosi y el Líder del Senado Reid me han dado la oportunidad de compartir con el pueblo estadounidense los pensamientos de los demócratas sobre el estado de la unión y las varias ideas y propuestas de política pública para fortalecer a nuestro país.”

Se hará pública una trascripción, traducción a inglés, y una versión podcast MP3 en el sitio Web http://Becerra.House.Gov siguiendo la respuesta del Rep. Becerra la noche de martes.

# # #   BECERRA.HOUSE.GOV   # # #

Piolin branches out

Tune in your radios, New York. According to an article in The New York Times, Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, one of the LA deejays who helped bring hundreds of thousands of protestors to pro-immigrant rallies in LA and across the nation, is coming to a radio near you.

Below: a picture of Simon and Joe with Piolín (and his "Democratas Unidos" jersey) in LA.

One Step Closer to Our Goal: Minimum Wage Hike Passes the House

NDN is a national leader in the effort to raise the minimum wage, and improve the standard of living for millions of working Americans.  Our Spanish language media campaign to build support in the Hispanic community was a major factor in passing state ballot initiatives in Arizona and Colorado, and in keeping the pressure on Congress.  And the outcome was bipartisan support in the House for this important measure:

The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved the first increase in the federal minimum wage in nearly a decade, boosting the wages of the lowest-paid American workers from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the next two years.

The 315 to 116 vote could begin the process of ending Congress's longest stretch without a minimum-wage increase since the mandatory minimum was created in 1938. In the past decade, inflation has depleted the value of the minimum wage to the lowest level in more than 50 years.

...Republicans who held in lock step during their 12 years as the majority party went over in droves to the Democratic side.

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The immigration battle continues

One of the most consequential battles NDN and its family took on in 2006 was the intense battle over immigration. I am very proud of the role we played, fighting hard and hanging tough for a bi-partisan bill that would go a long way to solving this vexing national problem. For more on our advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform, visit www.ndn.org/immigration.

The battle, of course, isn't over. The perception that the Republican effort to use immigration as a blunt instrument to beat up on Democrats in tough races backfired has created additional momentum for what was called the McCain-Kennedy approach. We are working with their offices, and the organized coalition, and plan to make this a major priority in 2007. I am optimistic that significant reform will pass both chambers and be signed by the President this year, but it is not assured. Thus we must continue to push, and push hard.

A few articles in recent days capture some of the early thinking on the icoming mmigration battle. The Hill has a piece today about Latino mobilization for 2007 passage of a bill. The Boston Phoenix had a very interesting piece about the 2006 elections, that included this quote from me:

Which is why this year’s immigration debate was about much more than race and nationality, suggests Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network in Washington. It was, he thinks, part of an even more fundamental decision to accept or reject the modern world — a world filled with people of different nationalities, languages, tastes, and sexual preferences.

By calling for the mass deportation of Latinos and the building of a wall to keep them out, “The Republicans may have made a decision not to be a political party of the 21st century,” Rosenberg says.

And from this piece from Cox News:

Rosenberg said his party can build on the momentum it gained among Hispanic voters in the past election. "If Democrats want to take advantage of the opportunity that we now have with Hispanics, we have to pass immigration reform this year," he said.

There are many good reasons why immigration reform should pass.  The most important, and the reason we will be fighting again, so hard, this year, is that it is simply the right thing to do. 

More soon.

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