FWD.us Statement on DHS’ Proposed Rescission of the International Entrepreneur Rule

Posted by FWD.us Press on 05/25/2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a draft of its proposal to officially rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), a regulation intended to allow the world’s most talented entrepreneurs to start business and create jobs in the United States. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed by the Department of Homeland Security’s continued failure to drive economic growth through the International Entrepreneur Rule, a clear value-add policy that will bring vital skills, innovative ideas and entrepreneurship to our nation. Allowing highly qualified entrepreneurs to stay in this country to start and grow their companies will add hundreds of thousands of new American jobs and bring critical new capital to our economy. Eliminating this vital policy is a clear step in the wrong direction that will hurt job creation and middle class wage growth in the U.S. Letting the private sector invest in foreign-born entrepreneurs who are going to create American jobs is a win-win-win, and rescinding the IER will mean fewer immigrants and a lot fewer American jobs.”

Rescinding the IER is unquestionably a setback for the United States and incentivizes skilled entrepreneurs with exceptional promise to put their talents to work for our competitors abroad. DHS’ decision also stands at odds with the Administration’s previously-stated commitment to working with technology leaders to expand the American economy. A public comment period on the proposed rescission will begin next week.

ICYMI: John Legend and Rashad Robinson call for bail reform in joint CNN op-ed

Posted by FWD.us Press on 05/22/2018

Wanted to make sure you saw that Grammy winning artist John Legend and the Executive Director of Color of Change Rashad Robinson issued a joint op-ed today, calling on lawmakers to end money bail. Across the country, the current bail system is broken and forces hundreds of thousands of people to remain in jail simply because they lack the financial means to buy their freedom.

In New York, lawmakers have a chance to act now on critical bail reform legislation pending in Albany, and lead the way on bail reform. The Senate and Assembly are considering bills that would end cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies and limit pretrial detention to the most serious cases. These proposals would dramatically reduce pretrial incarceration across the state and enable New York City to close Rikers Island once and for all.

New Yorkers show deep and broad support for bail reform. A diverse coalition of people and groups have come together to push for ambitious bail reform during the 2018 legislative session. And, in a recent poll, over 70% of New York voters were in favor of bold bail reform proposals that would dramatically reduce jail populations across the state.

State lawmakers have the chance to enact laws this year that would make New York a leader in bail practices, but the clock is winding down. With just 15 legislative days left in this session, it’s time for lawmakers to act.

CNN // John Legend and Rashad Robinson // End money bail now

John Legend and Rashad Robinson: End money bail now
John Legend is a singer, songwriter, actor and activist. Rashad Robinson is executive director of Color Of Change, America’s largest online racial justice organization. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors

(CNN) No one should have to stay in jail because they lack the money to buy their freedom. Yet every night, according to the Justice Department’s statistics, nearly 450,000 people who have not been convicted of a crime sit in jail, a large number trapped there simply because they don’t have enough money to post bail.

For many, even a relatively modest bail amount is out of reach. Moreover, research shows that on average, black people are assigned higher bail amounts than other defendants arrested for the same offenses. Simply put, it is wrong to be forced by poverty to face an extensive stay in jail while awaiting a court date — separated from children, family and home, and running the risk of losing employment.

If you believe TV crime shows, you might think that commercial money bail emerged as a solution to a problem of justice: a service that reasonably aided people in paying bail — the deposit that defendants leave with the court as collateral for their promise to appear at trial. The actual history: the first commercial bail bond business started in 1898 in San Francisco and functioned as a corrupt payoff racket among crime bosses, judges, lawyers and police.

This history is consistent with the reality of money bail today. If you are wealthy, you can post the bail amount and walk free, whether or not you pose a threat to society. But if you don’t have the money, regardless of how small the alleged crime, giving in to the commercial money bail industry may be your only option to avoid a months-long wait behind bars.

Recently, momentum to reform the unjust bail system has gained steam. In January 2018, a California appellate court declared that no one can be jailed because they’re too poor to pay their way to freedom. It also places stringent requirements on judges to demonstrate why someone should be held in jail rather than remain home with their family as they defend their case.

Even district attorneys, who have historically been some of the biggest advocates for money bail, have been stepping up. Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Chicago’s State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Philadelphia’s newly-elected DA Larry Krasner have all eliminated money bail for certain low-level offenses to end the system’s reliance on unnecessary and harmful pretrial detention.
However, these successes don’t fully mitigate the destruction caused by the commercial bail bond industry — how it preys upon low-income communities and people of color, among many others — or address the urgent need to dismantle it entirely.

The for-profit commercial bail bonds industry is built on predatory business practices. With bail bond agents working as proxies for large insurance corporations, they exploit poor communities, particularly black communities.

In exchange for a nonrefundable fee from defendants, a bail bond agent will secure a person’s release from jail, often without having to deposit any money with the court themselves. When families cannot pay bond agents in cash, they may be forced to put up their car or home as collateral, which they can easily lose entirely if they do not make each and every payment installment.

With the potential threat of physical harm in jail looming, as well as the consequences of not returning to their lives, people often sign contracts filled with egregious terms that put their entire family at risk. These can include unannounced, armed home searches, vehicle tracking, body monitoring and phone surveillance — all conducted by private, poorly regulated bail bond agents. Unbelievably, even when the charges are dropped, the case is dismissed or a defendant is found innocent by the court, families remain on the hook to pay the full amount of exorbitant fees demanded by these agents.

The commercial bail industry generates nearly $2 billion each year. Last year, in New York City alone, there were 12,000 bonds secured through commercial bail bond companies for an aggregate amount of $280 million. Premiums, fees and illegally retained collateral from these products may have exceeded $25 million — nearly all of it coming from low-income communities of color who are hit hardest by mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and other public policies that disproportionately target them. Many, including the New York City Comptroller, have called for an eradication of the industry.

Dismantling the commercial bail industry is a steep hill to climb. In recent negotiations over bail reform in New York State, for example, the aggressive influence of the bail bond industry won the lobbying contest, while justice for our communities lost out.

But the fight is not over and there is hope. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo can make good on his own professed vision for reform by supporting new and improved bail reform legislation during the regular session this year. With so much happening in the shadows, Cuomo and other elected officials should push for follow-up investigation to an initial report from Color Of Change exposing the true ills of the commercial bail industry.

Cuomo recently sent a tweet announcing an investigation in response to a campaign by Color Of Change and our partners. But he needs to move quickly to implement it, as New Yorkers are still subject to the abuses of the bail industry.

Prosecutors, mayors, legislators and governors across the country are responding to the community-led movement for bail reform and reconsidering the role of money bail in our justice system. We must all add our voices to the call to #EndMoneyBail if we are going to finally put an end to the corrupt, destructive, and unnecessary industry that is commercial bail.

ICYMI - The Washington Post: Republicans on Dreamer discharge petition facing more competitive midterm races

Posted by FWD.us Press on 05/22/2018

More than half of the Republican lawmakers who signed onto the congressional discharge petition to force a vote on Dreamer legislation hail from districts facing more competitive midterm elections than those that did not sign, according to new race ratings on the Cook Political Report.

The new data shows that a growing number of vulnerable Republicans are recognizing that support for DACA is key to victory in midterm races. An Axios poll from April 2018 found that “DACA is the biggest warning sign” for Republicans looking to hold their Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, with 64% of registered voters across all states in support of protections for Dreamers.

Of the Republican lawmakers who support the discharge petition, three represent districts Trump won by double digits. The Washington Post also reports that:

“They represent districts that stretch from the heart of Miami to the sprawling suburbs of Denver to the rural Adirondack Mountains. Some, such as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, are veteran combatants in the immigration debate. Others, such as Michigan’s Dave Trott and New Jersey’s Leonard Lance, represent suburban districts that are home to relatively few dreamers.”

For months, lawmakers in the House have pledged to take action to permanently shield Dreamers from deportation, but have failed to vote a single bill to protect them. The congressional discharge petition would free up Congress to debate a permanent fix for nearly 800,000 young people desperately awaiting a legislative solution.

ICYMI: 130 Bipartisan Legislators Urge DHS to Protect H-4 Work Authorization

Posted by FWD.us Press on 05/21/2018

Last week, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mia Love (R-UT) led 130 bipartisan Members of Congress in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging the Administration to protect work authorization for almost 100,000 immigrants who are in the process of becoming legal permanent residents.

The bipartisan letter comes shortly after the Trump Administration announced intent to rescind work authorization for H-4 visa holders, most of whom are women with advanced educational degrees, and who are already contributing to our economy and workforce.

In the letter to DHS, lawmakers write:

“The opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work has made our economy stronger, while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses—mostly women—who have resided in the United States for years. Many are on the path to permanent residency, and would already be permanent residents if not for the decades-long employment backlogs. Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families. We strongly urge you to reconsider this action.”

H-4 visa holders are the spouses of highly-skilled specialty workers. Many are stuck in a decades-long wait for permanent residency due to an annual per-country cap on green cards for individuals from places like India and China. Since earning the ability to work in 2014, H-4 visa holders have been able to participate in the workforce, better integrate into the community and make major life decisions to provide for their families while navigating the process to become legal permanent residents. Revoking work authorization for 100,000 people, 93% of whom are women, would be unnecessarily cruel and damaging, and would undermine the U.S.’ position as the top destination for the world’s greatest talent.

The bipartisan letter shows that there is broad bipartisan support in Congress for protecting work authorization for H-4 visa holders, and for immediately addressing other long-standing challenges of a broken immigration system, like the green card backlogs. FWD.us issued a statement in support of the rule in March and we join these Congressional leaders in calling on the Administration to protect the rule.

To read more about H-4 recipients and the importance of this rule, see these articles:

Seattle Times // Lynn Thompson // Identity crisis: Wives of immigrant tech workers struggle to find purpose
CNN Money // Parija Kavilanz // Doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs on H-4 visas fear losing their businesses and jobs
San Francisco Chronicle // Trisha Thadani // Work permits for H-1B spouses could disappear, leaving lives in flux
Chicago Tribune // Brian Murphy // Spouses of Indian and Chinese tech workers could be stripped of right to work in U.S.

Below please find a press release announcing the letter and names of signers:

Jayapal, Love Lead 130 in Bipartisan Support of Work Authorization of H-4 Dependent Spouses

May 16, 2018

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mia Love (R-UT) led 130 bipartisan members of Congress in urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to maintain the current regulation granting work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The Trump Administration is expected to rescind the rule granting these spouses work authorization in June.

“The opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work has made our economy stronger, while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses—mostly women—who have resided in the United States for years,” wrote the members. “Many are on the path to permanent residency, and would already be permanent residents if not for the decades-long employment backlogs. Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families. We strongly urge you to reconsider this action.”

One hundred and thirty bipartisan members of Congress have signed on to the letter including Christopher H. Smith, John Lewis, Frank Pallone, Jr., Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David Price, Rosa L. DeLauro, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jerrold Nadler, Jim Cooper, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Anna G. Eshoo, Gene Green, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Peter T. King, Lucille Roybal Allard, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Nydia M. Velázquez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Elijah E. Cummings, Diana DeGette, James P. McGovern, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Adam Smith, Gregory W. Meeks, Barbara Lee, Michael E. Capuano, Joe Crowley, John B. Larson, Grace F. Napolitano, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Susan A. Davis, James R. Langevin, Rick Larsen, Betty McCollum, Raúl M. Grijalva, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Linda T. Sánchez, David Scott, G.K. Butterfield, Gwen S. Moore, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Doris Matsui, Albio Sires, Kathy Castor, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Joe Courtney, Keith Ellison, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Jerry McNerney, John Sarbanes, Timothy J. Walz, Peter Welch, John Yarmuth, Niki Tsongas, André Carson, Marcia L. Fudge, Richard M. Nolan, Mike Coffman, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Himes, Jared Polis, Kurt Schrader, Paul Tonko, Mike Quigley, Judy Chu, Ted Deutch, Bill Foster, David N. Cicilline, William R. Keating, Steve Stivers, Frederica Wilson, Rob Woodall, Kevin Yoder, Suzanne Bonamici, Suzan DelBene, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Dina Titus, Colleen Hanabusa, Carol Shea-Porter, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, Joaquin Castro, Rodney Davis, John K. Delaney, Elizabeth H. Esty, Tulsi Gabbard, Denny Heck, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Derek Kilmer, Ann McLane Kuster, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Grace Meng, Beto O’Rourke, Scott H. Peters, Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Takano, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Katherine Clark, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Donald S. Beyer, Jr., Ryan A. Costello, Carlos Curbelo, Ruben Gallego, Brenda L. Lawrence, Ted W. Lieu, Seth Moulton, Kathleen M. Rice, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Don Bacon, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Anthony G. Brown, J. Luis Correa, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Al Lawson, A. Donald McEachin, Stephanie Murphy, Jimmy Panetta, Jamie Raskin, John H. Rutherford, Thomas R. Suozzi and Karen Handel.