Pages tagged "Children of Immigrants"
On March 16, 2015 the First Focus Campaign for Children submitted this Statement to the House Committee on Oversight & Reform in response to a hearing on “The Fiscal Costs of the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration.” The expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) Programs is important for the healthy development and overall well being of children in the United States as this action has the potential to enhance educational opportunities, provide economic security, reduce fear of deportations and provide certain tax and social security benefits for eligible workers. Tax contributions by DACA and DAPA recipients will grow the U.S. Economy and more than pay for any potential benefits they might receive from the federal government.
Washington – United States Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) today offered an amendment that would deny U.S. citizenship to babies born in the United States, if the baby’s parents are both undocumented immigrants or lawfully-admitted nonimmigrants. The proposal would leave many such children stateless, because denying babies U.S. citizenship in no way confers upon them citizenship in the country of their parents’ origin. Senator Vitter’s proposal would also dramatically increase paperwork burdens for all U.S. citizens and agencies at every level of government. For example, The United States State Department currently accepts certified birth certificates as evidence of U.S. citizenship, but under the Vitter proposal, every passport applicant would also be required to document the citizenship status of his or her parents.
Responding to the proposal, the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children released the following statement from its president, Bruce Lesley:
“This amendment targets children. It’s as wrongheaded as it is cold-hearted. The irony here is that the underlying bill aims to protect children from exploitation, but the Vitter amendment would drive children into the shadows, where they’re easier targets.”
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit campaignforchildren.org.
“Never budge! That's my rule. Never budge in the least! Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east! I'll stay here, not budging! I can and I will! If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!" – The Zax by Dr. Seuss
Over 8 million children will be born during this Congressional term. And there are a sweeping range of issues before Congress that will fundamentally impact the lives of these kids.
Unfortunately, our country's leaders seem more interested in playing politics than governing. And much like Dr. Seuss’ stubborn Zax who found each other face to face refusing to budge, neither party is stepping aside to pass important legislation for kids.
The bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 is being debated today on the floor of the U.S. Senate. This critical bill, introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), fights human trafficking and child sex trafficking with more support for victims, an increase in enforcement resources and prevention, and stiffer penalties.
The Victims of Trafficking Act is a good bill. It will protect children who are victims of sex trafficking, or at risk of sex trafficking. This bill, simply, should pass.
Should pass. But Republicans and Democrats are in a knock-down, drag-out fight over partisan additions and amendments that are preventing this important, bipartisan legislation from coming to a vote. And some of the amendments are really, really bad. Like Senator David Vitter’s (R-Louisiana) amendment to deny U.S. citizenship to some babies born in the United States. This unconstitutional proposal would leave many kids stateless, because denying babies U.S. citizenship in no way confers upon them citizenship in the country of their parents’ origin.
— First Focus (@First_Focus) March 11, 2015
Of course, not all amendments are bad and partisan. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has introduced an amendment to fix the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's definition of homelessness that excludes most of our country’s 1.3 million homeless students. Homeless children and youth are at high risk of being sexually trafficked, and the amendment would get them the help them need. This policy has broad bipartisan support.
Standing in the way of strong bipartisan policies that invest in children is becoming old hat for Congress. As we wrote in Huffington Post this week, Congress’ inability to compromise is threatening the future of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program that provides coverage for over 8 million kids. And even though there is strong bipartisan support for the Maternal, Infant and Earl Childhood Visiting Program for home visiting, it is just days away from losing its funding due to Congressional inaction.
The Zax never learn their lesson, and indeed never budged. But the “world grew. In a couple of years, the new highway came through.” The Zax were forgotten, and life went on without them.
Unfortunately, our children’s future can’t bypass Congress. But someone has to pay the price. So when the world goes on despite Congressional inaction, it’s our children who will lose out.
“…If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!” Sound familiar? Congress, don’t gamble with our children’s future. Quit playing politics and #InvestInKids: http://bit.ly/1DqdLLu
— CampaignForChildren (@Campaign4Kids) March 11, 2015
More than eight million children will be born in the United States during the 114th Congress. The decisions Congress makes about issues ranging from education to tax and immigration policy will shape their lives. Whether the next two years accelerate or impede the healthy development of those children is up to them.
First Focus Campaign for Children recommends this policy agenda to address the most pressing problems facing America’s children. The agenda is made up of six broad categories: ensuring a healthy future, ensuring every child a safe and permanent home, reducing child poverty, expanding opportunity through education and early childhood, valuing children and families, and investing in children and reforming government. Within each category is a list of goals and actions Congress can take to improve the lives of our children.
Washington – Today, the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group, recognized journalist Sonia Nazario for her leadership on issues important to children.
“Journalists often cover political debates without ever exploring the critical impact on children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children. “Sonia Nazario connected the dots, and her work has made children a priority for voters and policymakers.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children routinely recognizes members of Congress who advance policy to improve the health and well-being of children. The organization occasionally recognizes journalists whose work documents the impact of federal policy on the lives of children. In recognizing Ms. Nazario as a Champion for Children, the advocacy group cited her career-long track record of excellence in journalism exploring policy debates that matter for children. For more than 20 years Nazario has explored critical children’s policy issues, including childhood hunger and the consequences for children of a parent’s drug addiction. More recently, Nazario turned a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of Los Angeles Times articles into Enrique’s Journey. The national bestseller chronicles a 16-year-old boy’s odyssey from Honduras to the United States, driven by a need to reunite with a mother he had not seen in eleven years. During the recent debate regarding the increase of child migrants fleeing Central America, Nazario became an advocate for these children by sharing Enrique’s story before Congress, with major media outlets, and through numerous public speaking engagements.
“America’s broken immigration policy tears thousands of children from their parents every year and puts children in harm’s way, but most Americans never see the human consequences,” said Lesley. “Sonia Nazario challenges voters and policymakers to look into the faces of children who suffer every day because of Washington’s failure.”
“Most children coming to the U.S. alone and unlawfully today are fleeing devastating violence in Central America,” said Nazario. They are running for their lives. It is critical that policymakers treat them for what they are – refugees – vulnerable children who should be protected.”
The advocacy organization recognized as “Champions for Children” 50 Members of Congress for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation. An additional 50 Members were recognized as “Defenders of Children” for their support of policies that advance the well-being of children. Nazario was the only journalist recognized as a Champion for Children.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is proud to announce Sonia Nazario as a 2015 Champion for Children. In the past the Campaign has recognized members of Congress, journalists, and other stakeholders who stand out as strong voices for children in Washington and across the country. Nazario is well deserving of this honor due to her steadfast dedication to reporting the stories of migrant children.
While Nazario is known primarily for her award winning work on the newspaper series “Orphans of Addiction” and her series on “Enrique’s Journey”, which was eventually expanded into a bestselling book, the First Focus Campaign for Children was particularly impressed by her efforts to defend the thousands of migrant children who arrived at the border this past summer. Nazario knows firsthand the perilous journeys many of these children face to escape violence, poverty, and abuse. In the case of Enrique, he was 16 years old when he made the dangerous journey from Honduras to the U.S. to reunite with his mother, who he had not seen in over a decade. When the number of child migrants soared last year, Nazario returned to Honduras to bear witness to the increase in violence forcing children to flee. She documented her findings in a New York Times piece entitled “Children of the Drug Wars,” where she also makes the case for why the newly arriving youth should be recognized as refugees.
As policymakers in D.C. considered various proposals to address the surge in migration from Central America, Nazario played a critical role in raising awareness among the public and policymakers alike regarding the plight of these children, including the flaws in the U.S. immigration system that undermine their safety and due process rights, such as the lack of legal representation for children before immigration court. In response to what she viewed as a great injustice, Nazario gave speeches across the country to reveal the realities of the push factors forcing children to seek refuge and stressing the need to give children a safe haven rather than a cold shoulder. She also spoke about the issue on The Daily Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and several other television and print news outlets. In July, Nazario testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving migrant children the voice they so desperately needed. In addition to her direct advocacy, Nazario also serves on the board of Kids In Need of Defense, an organization dedicated to providing legal counsel for migrant children in the U.S.
Just this past week, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing to consider various proposals on immigration enforcement, including some that would strip basic protections for child migrants, limit their due process rights, and put them at risk of being deported back to dangerous conditions. Thus, there is still much more work to be done to ensure that U.S. immigration policies address the needs of children and families, and champions like Sonia Nazario play an important role in helping expose the consequences for children if we continue to wait.
On February 11, 2015, the First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) submitted this statement for the record to the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee for the hearing entitled “Interior Immigration Enforcement Legislation.” The statement expresses FFCC’s opposition to H.R. 5143, H.R. 5137, and H.R. 2278, all of which are proposed legislation that threaten to harm immigrant communities. FFCC is particularly concerned with H.R. 5143 and H.R. 5137, two bills which would weaken protections for vulnerable child migrants by undermining their safety, due process rights, and exposing them to longer periods of time in detention. FFCC urges Congress to work on solutions to fix the immigration system that promote the best interest of children and keep families together.
As the new Congressmembers were sworn in and the new session began, former House majority leader Eric Cantor made the plea, “I hope the president and members from both parties will keep one number in mind: 8,053,000. That is an estimate of the number of new Americans expected to be born between now and the end of this Congress and President Obama's second term two years from now.”
Cantor recognizes there’s a lot at stake for those 8,053,000 children in the policies and the priorities of the new Congress. That’s the right idea, but his priority for these kids is a growing economy, trade promotion authority, patent law reform, and expanding charter schools. As we wrote in our response on CNBC, what Cantor misses is that there are a sweeping range of issues before Congress that will more fundamentally impact the lives of these kids.
Data from the nonpartisan Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Center paints a clear picture of the future for these 8,053,000 children if Congress does not make children’s policies a real priority:
- More than 1.7 million will live in poverty (tweet this)
- More than 73,000 of those children will be abused or neglected (tweet this)
- More than 560,000 will not have health coverage (tweet this)
- More than 3.3 million will be the children of immigrants, many living in fear that the government will take their parents away (tweet this)
- 4 million will not be enrolled in pre-kindergarten (tweet this)
Washington – The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children today sent a letter to members of the United States House of Representatives, urging opposition to floor amendments that would add anti-child provisions to legislation (H.R. 240) funding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Last week, House Speaker John Boehner spoke of building a ladder for children to reach the stars. This week, the House is voting to pull the ladder out from under millions of children,” said First Focus Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley.
The letter details concerns with two of the five amendments anticipated to be made in order by the House Rules Committee. One, by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would roll back protections for an estimated 4.5 million U.S. citizen children whose families are protected by last year’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) initiative. DAPA provides relief from deportation for the parents of citizen and lawful permanent resident children. Past enforcement actions against parents have resulted in thousands of avoidable placements in states’ already-overburdened foster care systems.
“What does it say about a lawmaker’s family values when he or she votes to have federal agents snatch a mother away from her child?,” asked Lesley.
The other amendment cited in the letter, by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), would defund the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative and prevent its expansion. DACA includes elements of the broadly bipartisan DREAM Act, permitting qualifying immigrants who entered the U.S. without documentation as children to get an education, work, and contribute to America’s society and economy. The amendment would put 600,000 youth who have benefitted from the program at risk for deportation. DACA applications have come from children and young adults in every state in the Union.
“Rather than pushing for a status quo that tears families apart and directly harms children, we urge the House to work together on passing immigration reform legislation that honors our American values of keeping families together and putting children first,” said Lesley.
On January 13, 2015 the First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to the House of Representatives in opposition to the “The Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations Act” (H.R. 240). The letter expresses concern over amendments that harm children and families by putting them at risk for deportation and urges the House to work towards immigration reform that will help keep families together.