WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been selected to take over the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security of the 111th Congress. He succeeds Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), a vanguard steward of immigration issues.
The Immigration Subcommittee has a wide portfolio, including oversight of Department of Homeland Security’s immigration-related entities (ICE, CBP, USCIS), and Department of Justice immigration functions, and the U.S. refugee program.Reacting on his appointment, Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy group here, welcomed the news. In a press statement, he said that Sen. Schumer’s selection shows that immigrants and immigration reform will be taken seriously in this Congress.
While acknowledging Sen. Ted Kennedy’s work across decades of shifting political winds and economic ebbs and flows as “no human could possibly fill his shoe,” he expressed high expectations for Sen. Schumer.
“He takes over the subcommittee at a key moment for immigrants and the future of immigration to the U.S. For several years, the immigration issue has festered on Capitol Hill, seemingly stuck in the old politics of division and partisan gridlock. If anyone can get immigration reform unstuck, it may just be a person with a commitment as strong as Senator Schumer’s,” he added.
Meanwhile, Filipino American lawyer Felix Vinluan hoped that Sen. Schumer uses his new position to the hilt to pass and enact a comprehensive immigration reform law.
“There’s no question he was previously instrumental in having the unused visas go to Schedule A professionals (nurses and physical therapists), which benefited a lot of our kababayans,” he said.
Vinluan also took the opportunity to comment on Sentosa, the firm that filed a lawsuit against him and several nurses which it recruited from the Philippines. He said “Sentosa made it appear that it was because of their lobbying that such happened. “What was not reported though was that a lot of other stakeholders (not just Sentosa) likewise lobbied for that legislation; immigration lawyers association, for one.”
As for the senator’s role in the Sentosa controversies, Vinluan wished he did not write those letters to the Philippine public officials. “He probably forgot that Sentosa and its political contributor-executives were not the only constituents he had. The nurses involved in the controversies and the nurse-associations supporting the nurses are his constituents as well,” Vinluan said.
Rio Guerrero, another Filipino American New York-based lawyer, said that Sen. Schumer has been a long-standing and valuable proponent of meaningful U.S. immigration law reform.
“For decades, he has advocated for the advancement of qualified health care worker immigration into the U.S. we welcome his appointment with great optimism,” Guerrero said.
Others in the Sub Committee include six Democrats and four Republicans, namely: Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI), Ron Wyden, (D-OR), John Cornyn (R-TX), ranking member, Charles Grassley, (R-IA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Jeff Sessions, (R-AL).