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August 22, 2014

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Immigration in Brief: :

Biden to participate in online immigration discussion, Hispanic organizations issue midterm congressional report card

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Leila Navidi

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at the Culinary Academy in Las Vegas on Thursday, October 18, 2012.

With the debate over broad immigration reform inevitably moving into 2014 and advocates regrouping for the next congressional session, Vice President Joe Biden will participate in a live Internet discussion on immigration this afternoon.

Biden and Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will take questions from the public on immigration in an online forum hosted by internet communication service Skype and search engine Bing from 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

CNBC correspondent Natali Morris will moderate the discussion, which will include panelists Anil Dash, CEO of social networking firm ThinkUp, Crystal Wright, author and head of the blog Conservative Black Chick, Steve Dublanica, author and publisher of the blog Waiter Rant, and Scarleth Herrera, a reform advocate from Florida who has received deferred action.

Those who want to watch the discussion can go to www.bing.com/whitehouse

Questions can be submitted on Twitter in advance and during the discussion using the hashtag #AskTheWhiteHouse.

The live discussion comes in the same week that a coalition of Hispanic organizations, including the National Council of La Raza, Hispanic Federation, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, NALEO Educational Fund, and Voto Latino, issued a “midterm report card” to Congress for their progress, or lack thereof, on immigration reform.

The Senate earned a “green check mark” for passing a sweeping bill that addressed everything from increased border security to agricultural workers, high-skilled visas and legalization for the estimated 11 million immigrants without authorization to live in the country. The House, on the other hand, received an “incomplete,” for not voting on any immigration legislation except for an approved measure to defund the Obama administration’s deferred action for childhood arrivals program.

“Today’s progress report essentially means we are calling in the House leadership for a parent-teacher conference. The ‘caution mark’ means the House still has time to redeem itself on immigration, but needs to turn around their performance and show immediate progress in order for individual House members to make the grade with Latino voters and with the nation,” Bertha Alisia Guerrero, director of national advocacy for the Hispanic Federation said in a release. “In the short run, individual members can improve their standing by co-sponsoring H.R. 15 or signing a pledge stating their support for reform and publicly committing to move it forward, but the final grade will be based on whether reform is achieved.”

H.R. 15 is a Democratic-sponsored bill in the House that closely mirrored the Senate legislation. Several GOP House members signed on to the bill but it has not come up for a vote.

The coalition, in releasing the report, said it would be grading legislators prior to the 2014 elections, and Hispanic voters will be paying close attention.

“Latino voters accounted for 8.4 percent of all voters in the 2012 election, making a decisive impact in the race for the White House and other state and municipal contests,” Max Sevillia, director of policy and legislative affairs for NALEO Educational Fund said in a release. “In the lead-up to Election Day, the Latino community’s political influence will continue to grow, with the eligible Latino electorate set to reach 25.2 million. Immigration is a deeply personal issue for Latino voters, and our growing electorate will be closely monitoring legislative movement on this issue in Congress in the coming months.”

A main topic on Capitol Hill in 2013, immigration reform debate is sure to continue during the next session. House Speaker John Boehner recently hired an immigration policy adviser.

In the absence of congressional action, President Barack Obama has issued several policy directives that have spared some immigrants in the country illegally from deportation. Most recently, the president directed the Department of Homeland Security to allow close relatives of military personnel to stay in the country.

GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., have criticized the executive actions as circumventing the legislative process.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., recently introduced the “DHS Immigration Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013,” a bill that would require Homeland Security to provide annual reports on the impacts of the Obama administration policy memos and require a formal process for policy changes.

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