Why an Immigration Committee?
The LWV has long held the beliefs that our democracy is rooted in the diversity of voices and that immigrants have contributed greatly to this country. The Immigration Committee’s main goal is to nurture the integration of immigrants by promoting civic engagement while combating fearmongering within our communities.
Barbara Eriv, email@example.com
Renata Bozzetto firstname.lastname@example.org
The Immigration Committee meetings are open to all. Contact Renata or Barbara or go to the LWVPBC calendar for the meeting schedule.
What current immigration-related issues require our attention?
- Family separation: Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents after being detained by the U.S. Border and Customs Patrol. Currently, the federal government estimates that it will take at least two years to reunite families. The League maintains that the current practice of separating families at our borders violates human rights and our moral responsibility.
- Deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants and families: The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency continues to target non-criminal immigrants. In Florida,most undocumented immigrants have been in the U.S. for over 10 years and comprise a large part of the workforce in key industries (tourism/hospitality, agriculture and construction). The League of Women Voters CEO, Virginia Kase, made the following comments about the administration’s raids to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants: “The League of Women Voters stands in solidarity with the entire immigrant community during this terrifying time. The inhumane detention and deportation policies of this administration are un-American and an insult to our democracy.”
- Florida Federal Immigration Enforcement Law (SB 168): Florida’s Governor signed an anti-immigrant bill demanding that our local law-enforcement agencies collaborate with ICE by detaining undocumented immigrants in our local jails. There are many concerns and a lawsuit has already been filed. Some of the concerns include the violation of the U.S. Constitution that potentially leads to racial profiling and compels localities to take on federal responsibilities, the compromise to public safety, and the negative image created of Florida, an immigrant state and tourist location. Responding to SB168, the LWV FL renewed its commitment to defending Sanctuary and Welcoming Cities during our 2019 Convention.
What are some current positive immigration-related actions?
- Welcoming Cities: A number of actions have been taken by our local governments to properly integrate immigrants and value their contributions to our communities. In Palm Beach County, the cities of West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Lake Worth Beach, in addition to the PBC Board of Education have all passed Welcoming Resolutions.
- Attempts to pass DREAM and Promise Act: Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Dream and Promise Act” – H.R.6, a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 2.5 million eligible immigrants. This bill, which passed with bipartisan support, focuses on protecting immigrant youth – commonly called Dreamers – and potential/current holders of temporary protected status – TPS..
The Immigration Committee closed 2019 with a wonderful “Cool Topic” event at the Vista Center. The panel featured Cheryl Little from Americans for Immigrant Justice and Maria Rodriguez from Florida Immigrant Coalition, two of the most prominent organizations fighting for immigration justice in Florida, and Dr. Miriam Potocky from Florida International University’s School of Social Work, who specializes on refugee resettlement. The panelists highlighted the many benefits that immigration brought to our state, while also calling attention to the administrative changes that have enhanced the vulnerability of immigrants and our communities. The event was live streamed. To watch the full video, please visit: Our Facebook Video
Know the Facts
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created in 2012 and provides certain undocumented immigrants with a two-year renewable work permit and protection from deportation. Most Americans support giving protections to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, but those who oppose DACA often argue that the program awards undeserving individuals by prioritizing their cases over those who have been “waiting in line” to enter the U.S.
Who are the DREAMERs?
Undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children are often called DREAMERs. This name is derived from the acronym of the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act,” a bill that was intended to provide a path to legal residency in the U.S. for individuals whose undocumented status was not a fault of their own.
It is estimated that 3.6 million immigrants currently living in the United States were brought to the country as children, and approximately 700,000 of them are enrolled in the DACA program. Most of these young people have not experienced life outside of American culture. As individuals who grew up in the U.S., DREAMERs are a part of our social fabric – a reason why most Americans support granting them some sort of relief.
What is DACA and what are its limitations?
Recognizing the need to protect DREAMERs, and in face of Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act, President Barak Obama signed DACA as an executive order. While DACA does not grant DREAMERs a pathway to citizenship, it allows those who meet stringent criteria to live in the U.S. for a renewable period of two years without fearing deportation. As such, DACA offers temporary relief that enables DREAMERs to pursue a college education, serve in the military, and legally work for a period of two years.
To be eligible to participate in DACA, DREAMERs must pass an extensive background check. They cannot have committed any serious offense prior to their application and must continue to be in good standing if they wish to renew DACA every two years. In addition, immigrants can apply for DACA only if they:
- Entered the United States before their 16th birthday
- Have lived in the country continuously since at least June 15, 2007
- Have met a variety of stringent educational and background requirements
- Have come forward voluntarily to apply
What are the main BENEFITS of DACA?
In addition to protecting individuals who are Americans in basically all aspects of their lives and contribute to our society’s wellbeing, DACA benefits our economy. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), first-generation immigrants who enter the United States as children pay, on average, more in taxes over their lifetimes than they receive in benefits, regardless of their level of education. DACA recipients end up contributing more than the average American to our economy because they are not eligible for any federal means-tested welfare.
The LWV supports fair and comprehensive immigration reform. We believe that all persons should receive fair treatment under the law, and that it is critical for the U.S. to encourage immigrant participation in our democracy.