Ordained Evangelical Minister
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“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV
Paul exemplifies the kind of life that a true disciple of Christ should be. He does not boast of anything, his accomplishments nor his ministry work; but rather admits that it is the strength of Christ in him that enables him to face and handle all the difficulties and persecutions that come his way. Everything he did was for the Lord, and he gave back all the credit to his Master. As you are called to serve, expect problems for they are inevitable. You may experience rejection and ridicule specially if you no longer conform to the patterns of this world but have fully committed your life to Christ. It is humanly impossible to be an effective witness for Christ from our own strength, abilities or talents. We need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to stay on track, to walk the talk and to persevere to the finish. Remain plugged in at all times to the power Source to effect genuine transformation, bearing fruits of the Spirit and growing not just ourselves but also influencing our friends, families and communities to be more Christlike in all of our ways. Do not be a lone ranger; surround yourself with people who love the Lord, with worshippers who trust and obey Him and are committed to follow Jesus by living out a life that truly matters.
🙏Dear Lord, without You I can do nothing. I can not boast of anything, for You are the Owner and Giver of All. Who I am today and what I can still become, I owe all to You. Thank You that You first loved me, pursued me and promised never to let me go. You are my strength, when I am weak; my comfort, my shield, my strong tower. Help me live my life for You.
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WHAT'S GOING ON WITH IMMIGRATION REFORM?
By: Jennie Ilustre
American lawyers of Asian ancestry and advocates, noting that most people find the latest immigration reform news confusing, recently underscored the need for accurate, up-to-date information efforts to prevent public misconceptions.
“If you have any questions about immigration or immigration reform, make sure to get reliable information – whether from a community group like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, or from proven leaders like Congress Members Mike Honda or Judy Chu,” said Gautam Dutta, executive director of the Asian American Action Fund, a Democratic political action committee with headquarters in the nation’s capital.
Recently, Texas Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a temporary injunction against the implementation of President Obama’s Executive Action initiatives to benefit an estimated 4 million of the total 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Attorney Arnedo Valera, who is also executive director of the Migrant Heritage Commission in the Washington, D.C. capital region, expressed confidence the ruling would be reversed and the Federal Government would win this case.
He explained in a Feb. 26 email: “Judge Hanen’s ruling is not even based on Constitutional grounds but is focused on technical aspects of procedure, in the so-called flaws under the Administrative Procedure Act. For me, this ruling is more of a desperate move. It has no solid legal basis. Clearly, if tested on Constitutional grounds, the President did not go beyond his Executive Powers under the Constitution.”
He called the ruling “a temporary setback” for DAPA and the expanded DACA programs. That means lawyers cannot file anything under DAPA and DACA when the various effective dates of implementation begin this year.
DAPA is Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program. Parents of citizens and Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) qualify for this program if they pass background checks.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applies to children and minors who came to this country without official entry document before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010. President Obama’s Executive Actions, issued last November, extended DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.
Attorney Valera also commented: “Knowing the political position and sentiments of Judge Andrew S. Hanen, I am not surprised at all. In the past, Judge Hanen had been very vocal against the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion in granting immigration benefits to undocumented immigrants.”
Meanwhile, he advised the undocumented and their families to start gathering the required documents. He said basic documents include copies of passports, I-94 (proof of entry in the U.S.); marriage certificates, divorce decrees (if applicable); National Statistics Office-issued Birth Certificates; tax returns, if applicable (2009 to present); school records and/or proof of high school completion or enrollment in the U.S.
The undocumented are adults and minors who came to this country without official entry papers, or have otherwise overstayed their visas.
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of Executive Actions, according to the government website, “to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.”
Most of the nation’s undocumented are Hispanic Americans. Latino advocates lead the country’s reform efforts, saying, “It’s personal,” because they have undocumented family members, other relatives and friends who have been exploited by unscrupulous employers.
AAA-Fund Executive Director Dutta said in an email interview on March 2: “Contrary to ‘conventional wisdom,’ immigration reform is not just a ‘Latino’ issue. In fact, Asian Americans make up over 12% of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.” Dutta is also a managing partner of a law firm in San Jose, California.
In January 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) January 2011 estimated that 1.2 million of the country’s undocumented – or 10 per cent – are of Asian ancestry, and they were born in China, the Philippines, India, Korea, and Vietnam.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now number some 18 million. The 2010 Census reported their population has increased over 43 per cent since the 2000 count, making them the fastest-growing minority.
Attorney Valera, whose office is located in Fairfax, Virginia (www.valeralaw.com) stressed that fixing the country’s broken immigration system would benefit the country.
He pointed out: “What is important to remember as advocates for Comprehensive Immigration Reform is that we need an immigration system that will unite families; one that will provide economic opportunities to the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants so they can rebuild their lives and become even more positive contributors to our economy and the cultural enrichment of our nation.”
Looking ahead, one thing is clear. Political experts agree a solution to the complex, politically-dangerous issue of legal and illegal (undocumented) immigration reform through the U.S. Congress is not possible this year and in 2016, a presidential election year.
Eric Lachica, volunteer executive director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV) in the nation’s capital, opts for optimism.
He said in a March 1 email interview: “Chances for the re-filing and the passage of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill are 50-50. That is, if Sen. Marc Rubio (R-FL), Maj. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez work out a compromise bill…It may be too early to make good bets on CIR. May be at the start of the next session in January.”
Mainstream media point to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s proposal for the undocumented to “self-deport” – that is, willingly return to their home countries – as a major factor in his defeat.
Republicans favor border security and employment verification as top priority solution. Democrats consider addressing the people aspect and border security.
President Obama won his second term as a result of Romney’s stand on the issue. Hispanic Americans, many of whom have undocumented family members and relatives, and representing ten per cent of the total electorate, overwhelmingly voted for him (71 per cent) over Romney. Asian Americans voted for Obama over Romney, 73 percent to 26 percent.
The Latino community, actively engaging in voter registration, is already warning both parties the issue will be the main factor in their vote in the November 2016 presidential elections.
Warning vs. Scams
Attorney Valera, who is of Philippine heritage, said in an email interview on Feb. 26: “It is very important that the undocumented seek the advice of licensed U.S. immigration attorneys who are authorized to practice immigration law in the United States.”
“They should not seek ‘Notarios’ (Notary Public) or so-called Immigration Consultants when asking for legal advice about DACA or DAPA or immigration laws in general,” he added. “These Notarios or Notary Public and Immigration Consultants are not authorized to practice law in the U.S. The undocumented should guard against these people to avoid becoming victims of immigration fraud.”
Attorney Miriam Riedmiller has also urged the community to warn the undocumented to beware of scams. She sent an email-blast to Filipino American leaders regarding President Obama’s Executive Action immigration initiatives, saying, “Please help protect immigrants and their families.”
She ran excerpts of essential data from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and quoted its warning: “Share this page with your friends and family members. Remind them that the only way to be sure to get the facts is to get them directly from USCIS. Unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may try to take advantage of you by charging a fee to submit forms to USCIS on your behalf or by claiming to provide other special access or expedited services which do not exist.”
The government website www.uscis.gov is among the best sources of accurate and up-to-date data. Updates are also posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Getting Things Done
Lack of solution from the legislative branch of government was the reason cited by President Obama when he issued Executive Actions last November.
Facing opposition from Republican lawmakers, he said he was willing to withdraw the Executive Actions if the U.S. Congress would pass an existing Senate comprehensive immigration bill, crafted by senators from both parties in June that year. He said, “Just pass the bill” during the post-election lame duck session.
The move “poisoned the well,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, Kentucky). McConnell expressed willingness to work with the administration in a press conference after Republicans re-captured majority of both of the House and the Senate in decisive, historic victories nationwide. McConnell, a respected and veteran deal-maker in the U.S. Congress, also assured the American public there would be no government shutdown under his leadership.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader McConnell averted a shutdown of the DHS by crafting a spending bill that did not include provisions contrary to the Executive Action initiatives, which was the House version.
He worked with Democratic ranking member Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada to pass the legislation in the 114th Congress. On Feb. 27, when the DHS shutdown was to begin, the Republican-dominated House passed a sister bill, but showing cracks between Speaker John Boehner and hardliners, extended it only for a week. Come deadline time, McConnell is expected to try again to keep his word and get things done, a rare thing in Washington.
America, which has always tried to be on the right side of history, needs this dedication to getting things done, whether through executive actions or legislation. As well, America needs to be reminded of its cherished ideals.
Last summer saw the flood of young people fleeing Central America to the safety of the U.S., crossing the border without official documentation. On July 15, 2014, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen and former consultant for both Republican and Democratic U.S. presidents, with Daniel Katz reminded Americans of the nation’s ideals and its unique role in history.
They stressed, “Surely, we as Americans are capable of coming up with creative solutions that are compassionate as well as sensible…” Among their proposals included providing homes for children and minors who qualify as refugees and creating “safe zones” under the United Nations with U.S. support.
Gergen and Katz noted that “Understandably, many Americans are fatigued from trying to help other nations when our own communities are desperate for more help.” But they added: “Even so, moments inevitably come that define who we are as a people…”
Lawyer and advocate Valera echoed their sentiment. He said, “’Immigration Reform Now’ remains our battle cry at the Migrant Heritage Commission. This is good for our country, whose cherished fundamental ideals are deeply rooted in its well-deserved reputation as a ‘nation of immigrants.’”
valeralaw.com Immigration Law Firm specializing in removal proceedings, asylum, adjustment of status application, immigrant petition
Rev. Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire's cover photo
Rev. Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire
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