Immigration reform advocates on the Central Coast were cautiously optimistic Thursday at the news of the U.S. Senate approving the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws in a generation with broad bipartisan support. The next move will be sending the bill to the Republican-controlled House, where there is significant opposition from more conservative members and where the fight could extend into 2014.
“I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Sarait Martinez, a union organizer and member of the San Benito County Alliance for Immigration Reform. “It’s not the best deal, because it increases spending on the build up of unnecessary border agents, but it is a window of opportunity to improve conditions for our immigrant population.”
During the peak season, Martinez’s union represents nearly 500 workers at San Benito Foods in Hollister, many of whom come from immigrant families.
The 68-to-32 Senate vote, with 14 Republicans voting in favor, left the Democratic leadership and the bipartisan group of eight senators who drafted the original bill celebrating a rare victory in a largely ineffective Congressional session. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presided over the vote as senators announced their positions from their desks, in a ceremonial procedure normally reserved for special occasions. The Senate bill provides a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, as well as tough border security provisions that must be in place before the immigrants can gain legal status.The bill’s largest change came in the form of a border security package that promised to substantially bolster security along the nation’s southern border. The proposal, by Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, both Republicans, would devote roughly $40 billion over the next decade to border enforcement measures, including adding 20,000 new Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the southern border.
Reforming the nation’s immigration system became a priority for many Republicans after the 2012 presidential election when Hispanic voters rejected their anti-immigration platform. Immigration opponents have mounted last-ditch efforts to derail the bill, which they say would offer amnesty without any real enforcement measures.
Local immigration reform groups have been working to inform San Benito County residents of their opportunity to apply for citizenship and hosted a workshop June 22 . About 40 people attended to learn more about who is eligible for legal documentation status under the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Process. On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status.Martinez said her group will host another workshop in Hollister, most likely in July.
Who is eligible?
• came to US under the age of 16 and were under 31 as of June 15, 2012
• lived in the US continuously from June 15, 2007 to the present
• are in school or GED program, or high school or GED graduate
• have no serious criminal record and no gang affiliation …then you may be eligible to get your work permit, SSN and driver’s license.
What do I need to apply?
• Proof of identity (birth certificate, passport, Matrícula Consular, or other official photo ID)
• Proof you arrived in US before age 16, and proof of residence from June 15, 2007 to present (school records, medical records, I-94 or visa, bank account, bills, paystubs, church records)
• Proof you were in the US on June 15, 2012 (school records, receipts or paystub, letter from employer)
• Proof of education (current transcript, diploma, GED certificate).
Acción Diferida (DACA):
• Significa un permiso para trabajar, licencia de manejar y un seguro social.
• No tiene que estar en la escuela para calificar. Solo necesita su diploma de secundaria o GED, o corrientemente estar estudiando.
• No significa residencia o ciudadanía, es oportunidad para que trabaje legalmente y viaje dentro de los Estados Unidos. ¿Quién califica? Si usted…
• Llegó a los E.U. antes de 16 años y tenía menos de 31 años el 15 de junio 2012
• Ha vivido continuamente en los E.U. desde el 15 de junio 2007 al presente
• Está en la escuela o programa de GED, o se graduó de la secundaria o tiene su GED
• No tiene record criminal serio o afiliación de ganga… ¡Usted pude ser elegible para un permiso de trabajo, seguro social y licencia de manejar! ¿Que necesito para aplicar?
• Identificación (certificado de nacimiento, Matrícula Consular, otra identificación oficial)
• Prueba que llegó a los E.U. antes de los 16, y prueba de residencia desde 15 de junio 2007 (records de escuela, médicos, cuenta de banco, talones de cheque, archivos de la iglesia)
• Prueba que estuvo en los E.U. el 15 de junio 2012 (archivos de escuela, recibos/talones de cheque, carta de su empleador), y prueba de educación (transcripto, diploma, certificado GED)
For more information, contact:
Sarait Martinez Organizer
207 N. Sanborn Rd.
Salinas, CA 93905