HEADLINES: Immigration

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In the midst of a raucous debate over the future of immigration in America, the STEM Jobs Act, the first post-election immigration bill, will be introduced in the House of Representatives this week.  The GOP-backed Bill is similar to one introduced earlier this year that would allow for an increase in the number of STEM visas awarded but would then eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which has given many migrants from Africa the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.  The Bill does, unlike last time it was introduced, however, include new provisions allowing family members to immigrate to the United States one year after applying for green cards. While the Bill is limited in scope and not very popular among many democratic caucuses, immigration activists were hopeful that this can be seen as a sign that Republicans are willing to come to the table to discuss immigration reform.  [Associated Press]

This Tuesday, as pressure to enact immigration reform measures is mounting, Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Kay Bailey Hutchinson introduced the ACHIEVE Act, a DREAM Act alternative. Under the new measure, those who arrived before the age of 14 and are under the age of 29 (32 for college graduates), would be able to apply for work permits. The ACHIEVE Act, unlike the DREAM Act, does not, however, provide a pathway to citizenship. Immigration activists have greeted the proposed measure with lukewarm feelings, though many are heartened that this is a signal for increased bipartisan support for the issue. [LATimes]

While the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy has been incredibly hard for all of those left in its wake, undocumented immigrants have been hit especially hard.  In fact, “some of those who need help to get temporary housing and food are afraid to come forward because they risk deportation.  And many have returned to damaged, powerless, moldy homes because they have no other place to stay.”  In addition, since many undocumented workers do not have access to bank accounts and credit, many lost money for the days they were unable to work during Sandy, and others lost considerable amounts of savings they had in cash in their homes.  [Associated Press]

As Enrique Pena Nieto prepares to ascend the Mexican presidency this Sunday, he made the traditional visit to the White House to visit with Obama and discuss relations between the two countries.  One of the top issues discussed was, naturally, immigration reform, as Obama once again signaled his commitment to the issue, proclaiming that he would welcome Pena Nieto’s feedback on the proposal.  Pena Nieto then asserted his support for reform saying, “We fully support your proposal. We want to contribute. We want to be part of this.”  President Obama “pledged to work with Mexico on border issues along with regional and global issues, calling Mexico an important multilateral, multinational partner.”  [The Hill]

Latino organizations in Arizona are frustrated over the ballot counting in their state, as claims of misinformation and voter intimidation scarred this year’s election process.  Latino activists had been concerned that the Latino vote was under-counted as they made up a disproportionate amount of the state’s provisional ballots. Others pointed to the October mishaps where flyers promulgating the wrong election date in Spanish were sent out to Latino communities multiple times.  Democrats are “calling for a bipartisan investigation into the election process in Arizona.” [NBC Latino]

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