Prospects for Immigration Reform Next Year Slightly Improve, Maybe

That’s about as encouraging a headline you are going to get from me on this subject these days.

The reason for this (cautious) optimism? First, Roll Call reports that Rebecca Tallent, most recently the Director of Immigration Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), has just joined House Speaker John Boehner’s staff. Roll Call notes that Tallent previously served in several senior staff positions with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)—one of the strongest Republican advocates for immigration reform in the Senate. Working for McCain, she helped draft a handful of immigration overhaul measures, including an earlier comprehensive  immigration reform effort back in 2007.

According to Roll Call, the BPC said the move “signals new momentum for immigration reform.” Of course, you’d expect them to say something like that. We shall see.

The other minor cause for optimism comes from an interview published in the Richmond Times Dispatch over the weekend with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Cantor cited immigration reform as on elf his 2014 priorities, although he is a strong proponent of the incremental approach championed by his fellow Republicans in the House. He suggested he wanted to start with the Kids Act, which would create a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

At the very least, I think cautious optimism is reasonable as long as Republican leaders in the House are still talking about this issue. Eventually—one would think—all the talk will  have to be backed up by some kind of action.

Republican Talking Points on Immigration Reform

House Republican Immigration Resource KitBefore leaving for August recess, Republican members of the House received this document from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). According to Rep. Goodlatte, the document was was put together to help members communicate to their constituents “the importance of immigration reform and the House Republican plan to produce solutions that actually fix the problems that plague our immigration system.” The document summarizes the individual immigration bills the House Judiciary has passed this session, as well as a list of concerns about the Senate comprehensive bill. (For those of you involved in adult education or English/Civics instruction, while not mentioned specifically, I think it is safe to say you are probably considered part of the “slush fund” mentioned in “Concern #10.”)

According to some sources, there hasn’t been a lot of activity on either side of the immigration debate during the break, so how I don’t how important these talking points have turned out to be, but I thought the document was interesting to read.

CIRbrief-2013House-SenateBills-Side-by-SideIf you are looking for a less partisan comparison between the Senate comprehensive bill and what the House has produced so far, the Migration Policy Institute has published a helpful side-by-side comparison.

I’m long past my own self-imposed deadline for posting an update on immigration reform  from an adult education perspective—which I’ll try to do this week—but in the meantime I thought I’d pass these documents along.

White House State-by-State Fact Sheets on the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Last Friday, the White House published a set of fact sheets for every state (but not, frustratingly, the District of Columbia) on the economic benefits of comprehensive immigration reform, based more-or-less on the types of reforms that were included in the Senate bill that passed in July. Economic benefits cited by the administration include “increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies.”

Quick Followup from Yesterday’s NSC Webinar

Just a couple of quick followup notes from yesterday’s National Skills Coalition webinar on immigration reform.

  • During my presentation, I mentioned that we expect new estimates of adult literacy rates in the U.S. in October of this year, based on findings from a new survey, called the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, or PIAAC. More information on PIAAC here.)In addition, the National Coalition for Literacy will be conducting a webinar about PIAAC tomorrow (July 31st) at 3pm.
  • A questioner asked about how to locate adult ESOL programs. I believe she was looking for more than a directory of programs, but more specifically, how to find best practices related to ESOL instruction in her local community. That’s a bit tougher for me to answer at a distance. At any rate, I did mention that there have been efforts to create and maintain a national database of adult literacy programs. Here are the two that I know about that might be helpful:

America’s Literacy Directory
National Literacy Directory

  • Finally, I thought participants may  be interested in this new World Education immigrant integration project, funded by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education, which will “develop and implement a theoretical framework for immigrant integration and provide technical assistance to five immigrant integration networks with a dual focus on accelerating key services and on network development.” More information here.