Pages tagged "Press Release"
200+ Advocates Offer Principles for Immigration Reform that Works for Children
Washington — More than 200 organizations representing children, immigrants, academia, faith traditions, and civil rights today released a set of principles for immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of children. The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus and the Women’s Refugee Commission led the effort to develop these principles, which have also been endorsed by the National Latino Children’s Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, MomsRising, the National Immigration Law Center, and a total of 205 organizations. The First Focus Campaign for Children urged U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee members to take these concerns into consideration during today’s immigration policy hearing.
“Children of immigrants are one-fourth of the kids in America, so getting reform done means getting it right for kids,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.
“The priorities of children need to be included in immigration reform—we cannot, yet again, compromise their basic rights to due process and protection,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.
The groups’ immigration reform principles include:
1. a roadmap to citizenship that is direct, clear, affordable, and reasonable;
2. protections for children’s basic rights, including access to public services for children and families;
3. enforcement reforms that protect children’s safety and well-being; and,
4. a commitment to keeping families together, through reform of family-sponsored immigration policy and enforcement.
Current immigration law largely ignores and often explicitly disregards the interests of children. For example, immigrants seeking hardship waivers of admissibility restrictions can seek relief based on harm to a close U.S. citizen son or daughter, but not if that son or daughter is under age 21. And whereas state governments acknowledge the fundamental differences between children and adults in matters of law enforcement, unaccompanied children taken into custody by federal Customs and Border Protection officers are treated the same as adults. Decades of such policy choices have produced an immigration system that routinely subjects children to harm and hardship. For example:
- 5.5 million children in mixed-status families are at risk of being separated from a parent at any time;
- 1 million undocumented children have no practical way to pursue education and contribute to their communities
- more than 200,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported between July 2010 and September 2012;
- an estimated 5,100 children are in state child welfare systems because federal immigration authorities have deported their parents; and
- unaccompanied alien children and children apprehended internally still are not afforded basic due process protections that we provide to others at risk of losing a fundamental right.
“Our national values recognize the unique needs of children, and many of our laws give children special protections,” said Lesley, “It’s time for our immigration policy to catch up and work in the best interest of children.”
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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 a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
The Women's Refugee Commission works to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. It is affiliated with and is legally part of the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit www.womensrefugeecommission.org.
King Bill Bad for Babies, Warn Children’s Advocates
Washington — The bipartisan First Focus Campaign for Children today sent a letter to Congressman Steve King (R-IA), urging him to withdraw proposed legislation (H.R. 140) denying U.S. citizenship to babies born in the United States unless they can prove one or both of their parents is a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident immigrant, or an immigrant serving in the armed forces. The organization also sent letters to the co-sponsors of the legislation, urging them to withdraw their support.
“This harmful proposal targets the health and well-being of just one group of people: children,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
King’s legislation would require parents, including U.S. citizens, to obtain documentation of their immigration status and register their newborns. While immigrants serving in the armed forces or holding permanent resident status are issued documentation of their immigration status, most American citizens do not hold citizenship documentation. Fees and waiting periods for such documentation are not insignificant. For example, the cost of obtaining a U.S. passport – the most widely-accepted form of citizenship documentation – range from $55 to $165 for adult first-time applicants, with a processing time of four to six weeks.
“King’s bill makes parents focus on government paperwork, when they should be focused on raising and protecting the life and well-being of their new child,” said Lesley.
The Campaign for Children letter also cites the potential consequences for children’s health and economic stability. Administrative obstacles created by King’s legislation could delay babies’ access to necessary medical care and other important services that children need for healthy development. The advocacy organization also observes that denying certain children citizenship does not guarantee that the child will be granted citizenship by another country, meaning the proposal would increase the number of stateless and undocumented children in America.
President Barack Obama has committed to advance a national immigration reform proposal this year. The Campaign for Children cited King’s legislation as a step backward for that effort, and it serves as a timely reminder that a comprehensive plan must consider and protect the interests of children.
“We need immigration reform that reflects America’s values, advances America’s interests, and accounts for children’s unique needs. This legislation fails on all counts,” said Lesley.
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Landrieu-Bass Bill Gives Foster Children Better Chances to Succeed in School
Washington -- The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation to minimize the academic disruptions facing children who are moved from one school to another. The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA, S. 3472), sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), grants child welfare caseworkers access to the school records of children placed in foster care under the state’s legal custody.
“Kids in foster care already face extra hurdles in school, so we should be doing everything we can to advance reforms like the Uninterrupted Scholars Act and eliminate obstacles to their success,” said Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
The Campaign for Children sent a letter endorsing the House legislation in June 2012, and worked with the Senate sponsor to secure legislative support for floor passage. Children in foster care are moved from home to home and school to school more often than other children. When child welfare agencies cannot access school records, children are often left without the means to bring those documents to new schools, because foster parents may not be legal guardians entitled to records access. This results in repeated classes and slower academic progress. Research shows that children and youth in foster care have lower academic achievement, graduation rates and college completion rates than their counterparts. The bill amends the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to ensure students’ privacy while giving their legal guardians access to information essential to minimizing educational disruptions associated with changing schools.
The Uninterrupted Scholars Act earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. It had been passed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate in mid-December, so yesterday’s House passage (also by voice vote) clears the measure for President Obama, who is expected to enact it.
“Senator Landrieu, Congresswoman Bass, and the other Republican and Democratic lawmakers who supported this important legislation have delivered an important reminder that politicians can rise above partisan divides to solve problems that matter to real people,” said Lesley.
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Fiscal Cliff Deal Protects Children’s Initiatives
Washington -- The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today commended the White House and Congress for delivering a federal “fiscal cliff” agreement that protects key investments in America’s children.
“With sky-high stakes for children, failure wasn’t an option – and President Obama, Vice President Biden, Minority Leader McConnell, Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Leader Pelosi delivered for kids,” said Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
Failure to meet the year-end deadline would have resulted in automatic repeal of improvements to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as well as billions in budget cuts to education, nutrition, and other children’s initiatives. The deal negotiated by the White House and congressional leadership did not include proposals passed earlier by the House of Representatives to remedy the fiscal cliff by imposing other, even more expansive, cuts to children’s health, family tax credits, and nutrition. But the package passed Tuesday simply postpones the automatic “sequestration” budget cuts until March 1, 2013, requiring another round of negotiations with children’s initiatives on the chopping block.
“Republicans and Democrats have two months to reach a long-term budget solution that protects our future by maintaining investments that lift children out of poverty, protect them from hunger, disease, and abuse, and create opportunities for success in school and life,” said Lesley.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act (H.R. 8), which is expected to be enacted by President Obama today, included several major wins for children:
- Protects for five years improvements to the CTC and the EITC – which together lift more than five million children out of poverty – as well as other family tax policies;
- Maintains the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), which provides food for more than 20 million children; and
- Extends “Express Lane Eligibility” policy, reducing paperwork burdens for parents seeking coverage for their uninsured children through Medicaid or CHIP.
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Protect Our Children Act an Opportunity for Progress
Washington — The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children today commended the U.S. House of Representatives on passage of the Protect Our Children Act (H.R. 6655), legislation spearheaded by U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and full committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to improve the federal government’s efforts to reduce child fatalities due to abuse or neglect.
“We thank Congressman Doggett and Chairman Camp for coming together in a bipartisan way to address the tragedy of child abuse deaths in this nation,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.
The legislation would charge an expert commission with reviewing the effectiveness of federal foster care and adoption assistance programs and the federal Social Services Block Grant, and recommending specific improvements to reduce child fatalities. It would also require agencies cited by the commission’s report to respond to Congress on their plans to address the recommendations.
The bill was passed by a recorded vote of 330-77, clearing it for consideration in the U.S. Senate.
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New Analysis Finds GOP DREAM Alternative Falls Short
Washington — The First Focus Campaign for Children commented today on a new analysis by First Focus, comparing the Assisting Children and Helping them Improve their Educational Value for Employment (ACHIEVE) Act (S. 3639) with the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 952, H.R. 1842). The analysis finds that, compared to the DREAM Act, the ACHIEVE Act imposes several bureaucratic obstacles to educational success and immigration relief, indicating that the DREAM Act serves as a more child-friendly model for inclusion in future comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
“The ACHIEVE Act doesn’t deliver what kids need, and the DREAM Act provides a much better model for comprehensive immigration reform that improves children’s lives,” said First Focus Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley.
Both proposals would address the severe limitations imposed by current law on children and young adults who were brought to the United States by their parents outside official immigration channels and, because of their immigration status, are practically unable to obtain higher education or contribute to America’s economy. The First Focus Campaign for Children has endorsed the DREAM Act, which enjoys bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The ACHIEVE Act, introduced Tuesday by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), John Kyl (R-AZ), and John McCain (R-AZ), has been publicized as a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act. The First Focus analysis finds that, compared to the DREAM Act, the ACHIEVE Act:
- Denies eligibility to some students, based on age, arbitrary educational timelines, and a more restrictive conduct provision;
- Makes education less affordable, by denying students guaranteed loans and work-study, and by failing to eliminate a federal penalty on states that offer in-state tuition to qualifying students;
- Raises a significant barrier to immigration relief, by requiring more than $3,000 in out-of-pocket fees;
- Creates a complex system for immigration relief , establishing new bureaucratic requirements for each of several new immigration statuses, resulting in longer and more convoluted paths to citizenship for qualifying students;
- Imposes a new periodic immigration status reporting requirement, resulting in additional administrative burdens for students and federal agencies; and
- Denies qualifying students assistance with needs that directly impact educational success, like health care and nutrition
“America needs a comprehensive immigration solution that works for kids, not more restrictions, paperwork, and bureaucracy,” said Lesley.
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2012 Latino Voters to Lawmakers: Invest in Kids
Washington — An analysis of nationwide election eve poll released today by the First Focus Campaign for Children shows overwhelming support from Latino voters for a wide range of federal investments in America’s children at levels higher than voters of all demographics and political affiliations. More than 9-in-10 Latino voters support increasing investments in child health, and more than 8-in-10 Latino voters support increasing investments in family tax credits, children of immigrants, child poverty reduction, and the federal government’s focus on children.
“Latino voters are saying with one loud, clear voice that they want Congress and the White House to invest in our kids,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
The phone survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners using professional interviewers November 4th through November 6th, 2012. Lake Research Partners reached a total of 1,200 likely, registered voters nationwide, 10 percent of whom were Latino. The sample consisted of 1,000 interviews among all voters who were reached on landline phones and 200 interviews among all voters reached on cell phones. Telephone numbers for the base sample was drawn from a random digit dialing sample and the cell phone sample was drawn from a listed sample. The sample was stratified geographically based on the proportion of likely voters in each region. Data were weighted to reflect the aggregated Presidential vote as reported in the 2012 exit polls, as well as by gender, party identification, marital status, race, and census region. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence interval is +/- 2.8 percentage points. This margin of error is higher among Latino voters.
Latino voters backed a wide range of federal initiatives to improve the well-being of children at higher levels of support than all voters including:
- A 92 percent to 5 percent margin of Latino voters say protecting children’s health through the extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program is important to them, compared to 83 percent of all voters.
- An 89 percent to 6 percent margin of Latino voters favor protecting elements of family tax credits, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that will expire this year unless Congress acts, compared to 81 percent of all voters.
- An 84 percent to 12 percent margin of Latino voters favor enacting the DREAM Act to offer qualifying students who entered the United States as undocumented immigrant children an opportunity to earn lawful permanent residency and a path to U.S. citizenship, compared to 68 percent of all voters.
- An 84 percent to 14 percent margin of Latino voters want Congress and the White House to deliver concrete plans to reduce child poverty in half within 10 years, compared to 82 percent of all voters.
- A 85 to 9 percent margin of Latino voters support creating a bipartisan “Children’s Commission” to recommend solutions to the problems facing children, compared to 78 percent of all voters.
- A 78 percent to 12 percent margin of Latino voters want the president to create a Children’s Budget to provide an official accounting of federal investments in children, compared to 66 percent of all voters.
“Latinos are sending a signal to politicians – you’re out of touch if you’re not leading the charge on children’s issues,” said Lesley.
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2012 Los votantes latinos a los legisladores: Inviertan en los niños
Washington — Un análisis de la encuesta nacional realizada en la víspera de las elecciones, dada a conocer el día de hoy por First Focus Campaign for Children, muestra un apoyo abrumador de los votantes latinos a una amplia gama de inversiones federales para los niños de Estados Unidos, en niveles superiores a los votantes de los demás grupos demográficos y afiliaciones políticas. Más de 9 de cada 10 votantes latinos apoyan un aumento de las inversiones en salud infantil, y más de 8 de cada 10 apoyan aumentar las inversiones en créditos fiscales a la familia, en los hijos de los inmigrantes, la reducción de la pobreza infantil y la atención del gobierno federal a los niños.
“Los votantes latinos están diciendo con voz alta y clara que quieren que el Congreso y la Casa Blanca inviertan en nuestros niños”, dijo el presidente de First Focus Campaign for Children Bruce Lesley.
La encuesta telefónica fue realizada por Lake Research Partners usando entrevistadores profesionales, del 4 de noviembre al 6 de noviembre de 2012. Lake Research Partners llegó a un total de 1,200 posibles votantes registrados en todo el país, 10 por ciento de los cuales eran latinos. La muestra consistió en 1,000 entrevistas entre todos los votantes que se contactaron por medio de teléfonos fijos y 200 entrevistas entre todos los votantes localizados por teléfonos celulares. Los números telefónicos para la base de la muestra se obtuvieron mediante una muestra de marcación digital al azar, y los de teléfonos celulares se obtuvieron de una lista de muestra. La encuesta fue estratificada geográficamente con base en la proporción de votantes probables en cada región. Los datos fueron ponderados para reflejar la votación presidencial agregada, como se informó en las encuestas de salida de 2012, así como por género, identificación partidista, estado civil, raza y región del censo. El margen de error, en el intervalo de confianza del 95 por ciento, es de +/- 2.8 puntos porcentuales. Este margen de error es mayor entre los votantes latinos.
Los votantes latinos apoyaron una amplia gama de iniciativas federales para mejorar el bienestar de los niños en niveles superiores a todos los demás votantes, incluyendo:
- Un margen del 92 al 5 por ciento de los votantes latinos dice que proteger la salud de los niños a través de la extensión del Programa del Seguro Médico para Niños es importante para ellos, comparado con el 83 por ciento de todos los votantes.
- Un margen del 84 al 12 por ciento de los votantes latinos está a favor de la promulgación de la Ley DREAM, la cual ofrece a los estudiantes que entraron a los Estados Unidos como niños inmigrantes indocumentados la oportunidad de obtener la residencia legal permanente y un camino hacia la ciudadanía estadounidense, en comparación con el 68 por ciento de todos los votantes.
- Un margen del 89 al 6 por ciento de los votantes latinos favorece los elementos protectores de los créditos fiscales a la familia, el crédito fiscal por hijos y el crédito fiscal sobre los ingresos obtenidos, el cual expira este año, a menos que el Congreso actúe, en comparación con el 81 por ciento de todos los votantes.
- Un margen del 84 al 14 por ciento de los votantes latinos quiere que el Congreso y la Casa Blanca ofrezcan planes concretos para reducir la pobreza infantil a la mitad en 10 años, en comparación con el 82 por ciento de todos los votantes.
- Un margen del 85 al 9 por ciento de los votantes latinos apoya la creación de una “Comisión para los Niños” bipartidista, que recomiende soluciones a los problemas que enfrentan los niños, en comparación con el 78 por ciento de todos los votantes.
- Un margen del 78 al 12 por ciento de los votantes latinos quiere que el presidente establezca un Presupuesto para la Infancia, que proporcione una rendición de cuentas oficial de las inversiones federales en los niños, en comparación con el 66 por ciento de todos los votantes.
“Los latinos están enviando una señal a los políticos: están fuera de contacto si no dirigen la carga hacia los problemas de la infancia”, dijo Lesley.
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First Focus Campaign for Children es una organización 501(c)(4), sin fines de lucro afiliada con First Focus, una organización bipartidista que promueve la defensa de los niños. Campaign for Children aboga directamente por el cambio legislativo en el Congreso para asegurar que los niños y las familias sean una prioridad en la política federal y las decisiones presupuestarias. Para obtener más información, visite www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
2012 Voters Support Investments in Children
Washington — A nationwide election eve poll released today by the First Focus Campaign for Children shows broad, bipartisan support for a wide range of federal investments in America’s children. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, found that strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents favored key federal initiatives for kids.
“The American people might have voted for divided government, but they’re unified on one thing – they want Congress and the White House to invest in kids,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
Voters backed a wide range of federal initiatives to improve the well-being of children, including:
- Concrete plans to reduce child poverty — 82 percent of voters (89 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents, and 76 percent of Republicans) want Congress and the White House to deliver a plan to cut child poverty in half within 10 years, while just 13 percent disagreed.
- Protecting family tax credits — 81 percent (90 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of independents, and 74 percent of Republicans) favor protecting elements of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that will expire this year unless Congress acts, while 12 percent oppose.
- Protecting Children’s Health — 83 percent (93 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents, and 75 percent of Republicans) say extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program is important to them, while 13 percent said this has little or no importance.
- Creating a Children’s Budget — 66 percent (76 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents, and 56 percent of Republicans) want the president to provide an official accounting of federal investments in children, while 22 percent oppose.
- Enacting the DREAM Act — 68 percent (88 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents, and 50 percent of Republicans) favor legislation offering qualifying students who entered the United States as undocumented immigrant children an opportunity to earn lawful permanent residency and a path to U.S. citizenship, while 26 percent opposed.
- Creating a Bipartisan Children’s Commission — 78 percent (89 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 68 percent of Republicans) support creating a bipartisan “Children’s Commission” to recommend solutions to the problems facing children, while 15 percent oppose.
“If you’re a Republican or a Democrat in Congress, you’re getting a clear signal here – you’re out of touch with voters if you’re not leading the charge on children’s issues,” said Lesley.
The survey was conducted by phone using professional interviewers November 4th through November 6th, 2012. Lake Research Partners reached a total of 1,200 likely, registered voters nationwide. The sample consisted of 1,000 interviews among voters who were reached on landline phones and 200 interviews among voters reached on cell phones. Telephone numbers for the base sample was drawn from a random digit dialing sample and the cell phone sample was drawn from a listed sample. The sample was stratified geographically based on the proportion of likely voters in each region. Data were weighted to reflect the aggregated Presidential vote as reported in the 2012 exit polls, as well as by gender, party identification, marital status, race, and census region. The margin of error at the 95% confidence interval is +/- 2.8 percentage points.
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Children’s Advocates Urge Family Friendly Fiscal Response
Washington — The First Focus Campaign for Children reacted today to comments by congressional leadership and President Barack Obama concerning the upcoming federal budget debate.
“Children have a lot at stake in the coming fiscal debate, so we’re encouraged that the White House and congressional leadership are beginning to explore opportunities for progress,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.
An analysis released by First Focus in September showed that investments in children stand to lose $6.4 billion in federal funding in 2013 alone, unless Congress acts. Another First Focus analysis shows that failure to address the tax side of the fiscal equation would also put at risk family tax credits that help meet basic needs like child care, clothes, and school supplies for nearly 30 million children. However, plans passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would replace billions in near-term cuts to children’s initiatives with tens-of-billions in cuts to other children’s initiatives.
“Parents should expect a whole lot more from their leaders in Congress than a fiscal cure that hurts kids more than the disease,” said Lesley.
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