As the Senate finance committee began mark up of their health care bill, immigration advocates went to work ensuring that legal immigrants are included in reform without unfair waiting periods and debated the inclusion of onerous verification systems in the health care system—which makes the eligibility process more complicated and even puts U.S. citizens, who are not able to provide the proper documentation, at risk.
USCIS unveiled a new website which allows users to check their case status either on the website or through e-mail and text alerts, which makes citizenship and other immigration services far more accessible. The AP also reported that the head of the agency, Alejandro Mayorkas, is weighing some budgeting ideas to make up for revenue shortfalls—including “cutting costs, raising fees or reorienting revenue in the next two years to alleviate the problem.” Advocates bemoan the potential fee increase and called on the government to help fund internal processing costs much as it does costly border enforcement initiatives.
Yet another GAO report highlights the failure of the border fence expansion boondoggle, which will now cost an additional “$6.5 billion in upkeep across two decades.” Meanwhile, Census numbers show the foreign born population declined for the first time in many years, and a poll released this week by Pew says that Mexicans still dream of coming to America.
On the reform front, religious groups united this week from around the country to advocate for immigration reform and the Center for American Progress released a report on the religious community and immigration reform, as well as a video of faith leaders in North Carolina working for change. Also this week, students rallied around the nation in support of the Dream Act. The AP reported “Advocates estimate more than 1 million undocumented immigrant young people can’t obtain a driver’s license or work despite their educational achievements.”