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Jeff Merkley on Immigration

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)

 


State of the Union: protest child separation at border

The most important political issues of the past year will be on display, not only in what President Trump says in his State of the Union address, but in who will be in the audience. Lawmakers, along with the president and first lady, pick guests every year to highlight or protest the policies of an administration.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said he will "highlight the human suffering" caused by the president's immigration policy by bringing Albertina Contreras Teletor and Yakelin Garcia Contreras, a mother and daughter who were separated at the Southern border last year.

Yakelin, who turns 12 on Tuesday, was separated from her mother for nearly two months before they were reunited. "This child separation policy came from a dark and evil place within the heart of this administration," Merkley said in a statement.

Source: KUOW 94.9 FM (NPR) on 2019 State of the Union , Feb 5, 2019

Rated 90% by Oregonians for Immigration Reform

Representative Merkley supported the interests of the Oregonians for Immigration Reform 90% in 2001-2002.

OFIR, Oregonians For Immigration Reform, is a non-profit organization whose members believe that our immigration laws & practices must be reformed We are very critical of the national laws relating to legal immigration and of the enforcement policies of both the Clinton and Bush administrations relative to illegal immigration.

Source: Oregon State Legislative Voting Records , Jan 1, 2003

Provide lawyers and evidence for children being deported.

Merkley co-sponsored S.2540/H.R.4646

This bill authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint or provide counsel at government expense to aliens in removal proceedings.

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall provide an alien in removal proceedings with all relevant documents in its possession, unless the alien has knowingly waived the right to such documents.
  • DOJ may appoint or provide counsel to aliens in any INA proceeding.
  • DHS shall ensure that aliens have access to counsel inside all immigration detention and border facilities.
  • DOJ shall appoint counsel, at government expense if necessary, for an unaccompanied alien child or a particularly vulnerable individual.
  • DHS shall establish a pilot program to increase the court appearance rates of unaccompanied alien children and particularly vulnerable individuals by contracting with nongovernmental, community-based organizations to provide such aliens with case management services.
    Source: Fair Day in Court for Kids Act 16-S2540 on Feb 11, 2016

    Terminate national emergency at the Southern border.

    Merkley voted YEA Joint Resolution on Proclamation 9844

    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.

    Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

    Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

    Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26

    Source: Supreme Court case 19-HJR46 argued on Feb 26, 2019

    Increase both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

    Merkley co-sponsored the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

    Legislative SummaryThis bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

    Explanation from the Countable.US: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

    For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

    The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can't get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps.

    Legislative outcome Roll call 437 in House on 7/10/2019 passed 365-65-2; referred to Committee in Senate 7/9/2019; no action as of 1/1/2020.

    Source: S.386/H.R.1044 19-HR1044 on Feb 7, 2019

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