Author: T. Douglas Stump

Face-to-Face Meetings Make a Difference with the Media

Talking on the phone is great.  E-mail can be incredibly convenient. But nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. That’s the motto Leslie Holman and I were living by as we went from one meeting to another at a pretty rapid fire pace this past Monday and Tuesday during the press tour that AILA National Communications staff organized. What difference does meeting face-to-face make? The best way to get to know someone is to spend time with them. When you meet someone, get a chance to sit down and dig into the issues, it turns you from a voice on the phone or letters in an email to a real live person. You see the smiles, you see the gestures that emphasize a particular point, you can “read” them and get a gut feeling about their honesty, their attitude, and what they know. Reporters live and die by accuracy. Their ability to relay the story with the facts in line is what makes or breaks their reputation. Their jobs depend on knowing who to approach for the answer to a question and getting that information right. Leslie and I tag-teamed a lot of the reporters, sharing information and the on-the-ground knowledge that only AILA members have about how immigration law and policy really work (or not). Some of the issues we brought up were focused on business immigration, like adjudications for...

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The Long-Awaited and Vitally Important PREA Rule is Imminent

We heard today that the long-awaited and vitally important Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) final regulations will likely be issued next week by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The importance of these regulations cannot be overstated. The PREA Commission found that immigrant detainees are particularly vulnerable to abuse which is why implementation of these regulations is so important.  No one should be subjected to sexual assault or any form of abuse while in government custody. I’m encouraged, and I know that my fellow AILA members are as well, that the rule’s release is imminent.  It has been nearly two full years since we submitted testimony to the House of Representatives calling for DHS to apply PREA regulations to immigration detention facilities. The immigrants held in these detention centers have waited far too long for this protection.  It is incredibly important that DHS now moves as quickly as possible to ensure that the new rule covers all facilities – including local jails that contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Those local jails hold about half of all ICE detainees on any given day so it is imperative that they also be covered by these regulations. I know that when it is released, AILA staff will be reviewing the final rule.  It is my sincere hope that the changes to detention policy will lessen the fear of abuse that too...

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No, It’s Not Over

Last week I came to Washington and met with House leaders about immigration reform.  I heard a lot of pessimism and I certainly understand where it’s coming from.  After the high of the Senate bill passage, during AILA’s Annual Conference of course, we’ve descended into the lows of inaction. There was a glimmer when the House Republican leadership released their standards for immigration reform but then the appearance of backtracking immediately thereafter resulted in a fizzle, rather than an explosion of forward momentum. But let’s be honest, it was never going to be easy.  But we’ve kept up the fight. And what’s impressive to me, and keeps me optimistic about our chances, is the fact that immigration reform is turning into an issue that is uniting more and more Americans rather than pulling them apart. What do I mean?  Well, we’ve got poll after poll that points to an acceptance of the need for reform that helps the undocumented get on the road to citizenship.  We’ve got poll after poll that emphasizes the acceptance of DREAMers as the incredibly deserving group of kids that they are.  We’ve seen a shift in public perception from an emphasis on security and enforcement at all costs towards welcoming and understanding and wanting to DO something about our broken immigration system. So while Washington, DC may be at a standstill, while Capitol Hill...

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Representative Goodlatte and Immigration Reform

In an interview with Telemundo’s Jose Diaz Balart that will air this weekend, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) discussed prospects for immigration reform.  What he reportedly said made me cautiously hopeful. But it also showed me that we all have some work to do to get to smart reform. According to a transcript of the interview, he talked about the progress that the committee had made last year by passing four bills out of committee.  Now, none of those four bills was anything that I’d want to see become law in their current forms, and at least one of the bills is quite troubling.  A couple of the others have some elements worth using, but need more work. He didn’t share much about the principles that Speaker Boehner says are forthcoming from House, but he did say that they hoped those principles might galvanize support for immigration reform.  He emphasized the need for interior enforcement and the fact that a large proportion of immigrants who are here unlawfully are actually overstays.  That all seemed reasonable. I am heartened that he was talking about achieving a legal status “for people who are not lawfully here.”  It is important for any immigration reform to recognize that legality, not mass deportations, is the answer for most of the people here without status.  And he is right that they should be...

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This Time Next Year

It’s holiday season again.  For me, no matter what mood I’m in, I find it hard not to smile a bit more this time of year—at Santa collecting donations, or a child’s face lighting up at the taste of a candy cane, or even at the often sappy holiday music that I’m unable to resist singing along to. We’re so blessed. I know I’ll have a roof over my head, food on the table, and my family around me this Christmas.  I’ll get to start off duck hunting with my lab Otis, see the kids opening their presents, hug my wife, and enjoy the day. But, I don’t just dwell on all the good.  I also think of a lot of other people who aren’t having quite the same holiday experience. Is that some sort of human quirk that we don’t just enjoy the moment but instead think of things that aren’t as good? Well, whatever the reason, this holiday season I’m going to keep thinking about the American families who have lost one or more members this past year to removal.  I’m going to be thinking of the folks in detention, many of whom did nothing more harmful than a minor traffic violation but who have been separated from their families nonetheless.  I’m going to be thinking of the delays that so many petitioners face as they go...

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