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The Voices Missing From the Convention

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  Julián Castro, the only Latino to run for president in 2020 and who delivered a keynote speech at the 2012 convention, wasn’t given any speaking time. And don’t tell me that giving Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising superstar and arguably the most effective political communicator, just over 60 seconds of airtime was enough. She,

 

Julián Castro, the only Latino to run for president in 2020 and who delivered a keynote speech at the 2012 convention, wasn’t given any speaking time. And don’t tell me that giving Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising superstar and arguably the most effective political communicator, just over 60 seconds of airtime was enough. She had less time to speak than a former Republican governor. The two other Latino politicians who had major speaking slots — Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada — were moderates with lower profiles.

Rather than growing the electorate, which is how Democrats will win in November and beyond, it seems as though they are reaching out to Republican voters. This sends a terrible message to the Latino voters they need to win in November.

There are a record-breaking 23 million naturalized citizens eligible to vote this November, 34 percent of whom are Latino. I became a citizen last year, and I will be voting for the first time in a presidential election this November after many years of being undocumented. Yet, Joe Biden continues to have an enthusiasm problem with Latinos. A PBS NewsHour-NPR-Marist poll showed Mr. Biden underperforming: Only 59 percent of Latinos said they’d vote for him over Donald Trump, compared with the 66 percent who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

According to EquisLabs, a group that studies the Latino electorate, for Mr. Biden to beat Donald Trump, he needs sky high turnout for Latinx voters. The group predicts that 57 percent of Latino eligible voters in battleground states could sit out of the 2020 elections.

The Biden campaign has tried to close its Latino enthusiasm gap by releasing a policy plan to address economic inequality and empower Latinos. The plan includes a commitment to ensuring that immigrants have access to free Covid-19 testing, treatment and an eventual vaccine. It also includes a reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and limiting the use of programs that force local law enforcement to take on the role of immigration enforcement.

But, there’s much that is lacking. One glaring omission is Medicare for All. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fact that millions of immigrants live without health insurance and have suffered disproportionately in recent months. Access to affordable health care was a top issue for Latinx voters who sided with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Mr. Biden has refused to endorse Medicare for All — a popular solution to our nation’s health care catastrophe that would serve all people, including undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Biden isn’t doing enough to move the people he needs to persuade to vote for him. Just a few weeks ago, 90 field organizers for the Florida Democratic Party signed an internal letter saying the Biden campaign has no “fully actionable field plan,” and is “suppressing the Hispanic vote” in Central Florida. These are significant missteps that the Biden campaign should fix quickly.

An advertisement from the Florida Democratic Party reading “Never Forget” (in Spanish) shows President Donald Trump throwing a roll of paper towels to a crowd awaiting aid in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.Credit…Gregg Newton/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Biden should be giving frequent speeches, releasing weekly ads on TV and radio and sharing regular social media content aimed at immigrants and Latinx communities. He must address our pain and suffering. We’ve had to endure Donald Trump throwing children in cages, trying to dismantle DACA, separating our families, terrorizing our communities with immigration enforcement agents and treating immigrant workers as disposable during the pandemic.

But we don’t want watered down deportation policies. We want him to stop deportations in his first 100 days and eliminate for-profit detention facilities. We want the Biden administration to push Congress to defund ICE and C.B.P. We want him to reunite families that have been separated by wrongful deportations and asylum denials. Protecting DACA is the floor, not the ceiling.

After all, the immigrant justice movement has turned public opinion against Donald Trump’s deportation force. More Americans today than ever before dislike ICE. A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found ICE was the only agency asked about in the survey viewed more negatively (54 percent) than positively (42 percent). Only 19 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners view the agency favorably.

Electoral coalitions are about addition, not subtraction. The math is straightforward. Mr. Biden can persuade a larger number of voters by making it clear that, if elected, immigrants will have reason to be optimistic about the future, despite the horrors of the present.

This pro-immigrant version of Mr. Biden has yet to emerge. The best time for that version to arrive is right now. It would make Mr. Biden a much more compelling presidential candidate, one who could drive an enormous number of voters to the polls and defeat Donald Trump in a landslide — and enable us to rebuild the country from the ground up.

Cristina Jiménez Moreta (@CrisAlexJimenez) is the co-founder of United We Dream Action.

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Source: The Voices Missing From the Convention

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The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere,

As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere sequence of form filings likens the process to a visit to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

In my practice area of business immigration law, green card processes are mostly employment-based and involve the successive filing of a labor certification application, immigrant petition, and adjustment of status application (with the first not always required and the latter two sometimes eligible for concurrent filing). So I’ll refer to these types of filings in describing the analogy here.  But variations of the analogy may be equally applicable to other types of green card processes, such as those in which the aspiring permanent resident will apply for an immigrant visa overseas rather than adjustment of status within the United States, as well as those based on family relationships and those available to asylees and refugees.

The trappings of a visit to the DMV, no matter the state, may be familiar to you: the issuance of a waiting number determining your place in a queue, followed by a long wait for your number to be called at one of several counters to file required paperwork, followed yet again by a lengthy wait for your paperwork to be processed, and eventually – hopefully – approved without issue.  The counter at which you’ll be called, and the length of the corresponding queue (or maybe in some fortunate instances, the absence of one altogether), often depends on specific factors, such as the type of service you’re seeking.

Just as you’re issued a waiting number upon entry into a DMV office, aspiring permanent residents are issued a priority date when the first major filing in their green card process (either the labor certification application or immigrant petition) is submitted.  The priority date is the date this first filing is submitted and determines, once the immigrant petition is approved, the aspiring permanent resident’s place in any existing queue to apply for adjustment of status.

Similar to how you wait at the DMV for your number to be called to file your paperwork at the appropriate counter, aspiring permanent residents face varying wait times for their priority date to be “called” at a designated “counter” to apply for adjustment of status.  The “counter” in the green card process at which aspiring permanent residents must apply for adjustment of status is based on a combination of two main factors: their immigrant classification (which, when speaking with clients, I refer to as their “green card category”) and their country of chargeability (which I refer to as their country of birth).  Aside from some significant exceptions outside of the employment-based green card process,[1] the law limits the supply of green cards available each fiscal year.  Because the law allocates this limited supply based on a combination of both immigrant classification and country of chargeability, queues form at “counters” where the demand for green cards exceeds the available supply.  And the more severely demand exceeds supply, the longer the queue will be. This analogy helps to show why EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China are often confronted with waits lasting many years for their priority date to be “called” at their designated counters,[2] while EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in most other countries often face no such queue.  In technical terms, the existence of a queue at a given “counter” means the availability of green cards associated with that counter’s classification and chargeability combination is “retrogressed.”  If there’s no queue, green card availability at that counter is “current.”

A visit to the DMV often entails a wait of several hours sitting and keeping watch of your designated counter at it serves the visitors who arrived before you until your own number is finally called.  Likewise, many aspiring permanent residents monitor the often plodding, month-to-month movement of “cut-off dates” in the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ monthly Visa Bulletins for the designated “counter” at which they must apply for adjustment of status.[3]  The Visa Bulletin for a given month contains various charts showing whether a queue for filing an adjustment of status application exists for any classification and chargeability combination, and if so, how long the queue is.  Combinations for which there is no queue are assigned a “C” notation, indicating that green card availability is current and that the adjustment of status application can thus be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming any prerequisite labor certification has been granted. Combinations for which there is a queue, and for which green card availability is thus retrogressed, are denoted by a “cut-off date,” with older dates reflecting longer queues.  Aspiring permanent residents seeking to adjust status at a “counter” at which green card availability is retrogressed can track their place in the queue by comparing their priority date with the applicable cut-off date each month.  Priority dates that fall before the applicable cut-off date in a given month are those that have been “called,” indicating that much like counters at which green card availability is current, an adjustment of status application can be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming again that any prerequisite labor certification has been granted.

Like processing of paperwork filed at a counter at the DMV, processing of an adjustment of status application may take a long time.  But eventually – hopefully – the application is approved without issue.  And unlike a visit to the DMV, having qualified counsel during the green card process can make all the difference in one’s chance of success.

[1] For example, “immediate relatives” (spouses and children of US citizens, and parents of US citizens if the citizen is at least 21 years old) are exempt from annual numerical limits on green card availability. INA 201(b)(2)(A)(i).
[2] Aspiring permanent residents for whom the queue for applying for adjustment of status involves a wait of several years, such as EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China, commonly change jobs or employers in the course of their wait. Such a change can require a restart of the green card process since employment-based green card processes are generally job and employer specific.  But to allow aspiring permanents residents who change jobs or employers to keep their place in queue, the law permits them to retain their priority date under certain conditions if they are the beneficiary of a previously approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition, and likewise become the beneficiary of an approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition based on their new job or employer. 8 CFR 204.5(e). 
[3] US Citizenship and Immigration Service also publishes monthly updates indicating whether to use the Visa Bulletin’s Dates for Filing charts or its Final Action Dates charts, to determine whether an adjustment of status application may be filed.

Source: The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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