by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—An immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship now appears unlikely, but there is a possibility of getting a path to some other form of legal status, speakers at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s “Justice Summit” said Tuesday.
Republican leaders are now working on legislation that would provide legalization, but not a path to citizenship, for current unauthorized immigrants, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, explained. And, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a leading spokesperson for those opposed to the Senate’s immigration reform bill, told Rodriguez he could support such a plan.
Several members of Congress met with the NHCLC during the two-day summit. Rodriguez was on a panel hosted by The Christian Post and moderated by Dr. Richard Land, executive editor for CP and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary.
The NHCLC has been a strong supporter of immigration reform and has called for a path to citizenship as part of a broad reform package. Rodriguez, who is also a senior editorial advisor for CP, told the NHCLC members in attendance that they would have “a lot more conversation” in the next few weeks about whether or not they would support the proposed compromise.
Robert Gittelson, vice president of governmental affairs for the NHCLC, seemed supportive of the proposal. While he wants citizenship, he explained, he is also pragmatic and realistic.
“I would like to have a path to citizenship. I would love even more for everybody to be safe. For all of our families to be able to live in dignity, for all of our families to live above board and live a normal productive life and pursue the American dream. They can do that without a path to citizenship, as long as they have a significant legal status,” he said. Two of the main obstacles for passage of immigration reform has been that House leaders will not bring any legislation to the floor that does not have the support of a majority of Republicans, and will not join a conference committee with the Senate’s bill.
Gittelson believes, though, that a bill that provides a path to legal status, but not a path to citizenship, has the support of a majority of House Republicans.
“Let’s take what we can get now and fight about citizenship another day,” he advised. “Let’s get families into a state of safety.”
One factor that Rodriguez believes will cause Republicans to take notice of immigration reform is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s reelection. Christie received 50 percent of the Latino vote, he explained, and that was, in part, due to his support for comprehensive immigration reform, according to exit polls.
“The Chris Christie factor is ginormous,” Rodriguez argued, because it showed that Republicans can “make inroads” with Latino communities by supporting immigration reform.
“Immigration reform will determine whether a Republican” can win the White House in 2016, he concluded.
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by Paul Stanley
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Leading Hispanic evangelical the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has offered his support to an immigration bill put forth in Washington on Tuesday. Republican Sens. John Kyl (Ariz.) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas) have filed legislation to address immigration reform and appeal to an ever-increasing Latino population that has steered clear of GOP candidates in recent elections.
Named the Achieve Act, the legislation appears to be a watered-down version of the Dream Act that would have helped young immigrants find a quicker path to U.S. citizenship. Many Republicans opposed earlier forms of the Dream Act because it gave too many illegal immigrants a direct path to citizenship without first taking steps to secure the borders.
The new version establishes three new visas for undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. prior to the age of 14 and have been here for a minimum of five years. These individuals could apply for student visas if they are younger than 29 years of age and currently enrolled in a college degree program. And undocumented immigrants younger than 32 years of age who hold a degree from an American university or college can also qualify for a visa.
But the first major issue with the legislation is neither senators will be around next year to push passage of the bill because both chose not to seek re-election. Another obstacle that will eventually surface is the fact that Democrats may want to take credit for any immigration bill that reaches the president’s desk so Republicans cannot use the issue to their advantage in the 2014 elections.
Rodriguez, who has been an outspoken proponent of comprehensive immigration reform for many years, sees the political reality of the situation and believes both Democrats and Republicans must come together if any such legislation is expected to pass in the near future.
“In order for immigration reform to be passed, both parties need to set aside corresponding political agendas for the purpose of doing the right thing and fulfilling the moral obligation of delivering millions of undocumented individuals from the shadows that they currently find themselves entangled in,” Rodriguez told The Christian Post.
“It doesn’t matter – it shouldn’t matter – who gets the credit. In reality, it’s going to have to look similar to the 1996 Welfare to Work bill where both President Clinton and a Republican House led by Speaker [Newt] Gingrich each took credit for getting millions of the public on payroll and back to work. But 2013 is the perfect time to pass a bill. We all know that by this time next year all the House members and a third of the Senate will go into re-elect mode and start towing their respective party’s line.”
Rodriguez, as well as other leading conservatives, say that if a reform bill isn’t passed then Latino voters will hold it against the GOP for years to come. Post-election analysis of the presidential race showed that Republican Mitt Romney received about 30 percent of the Hispanic support – far short of what he needed from the country’s fastest growing minority population to win the White House. Exit polling taken on Election Day also showed that Latino voters do not trust the Republican Party to put forth or pass immigration laws that would benefit the 12 million or so immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
In a Tuesday press conference, Hutchinson admitted that the strategy behind the legislation is to merely “get the ball rolling” and start the process of finding a solution for young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.
“We think the best thing that we can do to utilize their talents and the education they have received is to give them a legal status,” said Hutchison during a news conference in the Capitol.
The bill is similar to another one brought forward by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) earlier this year that was trumped by an Obama administration order that deferred deportation action on some young illegal immigrants.
Rodriguez thinks that Rubio and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will be key players in any proposal that passes Congress. “I believe Rubio has evolved in his stance on the issue and has pivoted to a more compassionate approach to comprehensive reform,” he said.
The California pastor also believes that conservative groups and elected leaders that have taken hard-line stances on the issue will need to rethink their opposition if they want to capture the White House or key Senate seats in the future.
“Any segment of the conservative cause that opposes immigration reform will do so at their own peril,” exclaimed Rodriguez. “Comprehensive reform is the prescription to revive the conservative movement in America.” http://newscastmedia.com/homeland-security.htm
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media NEW YORK—In the presidential race, both candidates, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, believe the immigration system is broken and in need of reform. Both candidates also share some goals on how to reform the system. There are many differences as well. The immigration debate contains two main centers of emphasis. One is border security – whether and how to prevent unauthorized immigrants from entering the country. The other is what to do about the unauthorized immigrants who are already in the country – this could include creating a path to citizenship or increasing deportations.
Using his authority as president, Obama decided this year that the Justice Department would no longer deport unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as minors, have no criminal record, and have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or served in the military. This executive decision is based upon the DREAM Act – a law passed in some states that failed to pass in Congress. Obama says he will continue to push for passage of the DREAM Act if elected to a second term.
Obama further emphasizes that he is focusing enforcement of immigration laws on immigrants who endanger communities and de-emphasizing enforcement on “low-priority cases,” such as “students, veterans, seniors, and military families.” He also proposes allowing unauthorized immigrants who are married to, or children of, a citizen or permanent resident to stay in the country while they apply for permanent residency status.
As president, Obama has increased deportations of unauthorized immigrants. According to PolitiFact, looking at the average number of deportations per month, Obama has deported more immigrants than any other U.S. president. This fact, however, is not touted on the Obama campaign website.
Obama also says that he will make “comprehensive immigration reform” a priority if elected to a second term. “Comprehensive immigration reform” means that both sides of the immigration debate – border security and a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants – will be included in a single piece of legislation.
Romney tends to emphasize border security and an immigration system that will benefit the economy. To secure the borders, Romney wants to complete the construction of a high-tech fence along the Southern border with Mexico. He says he wants enough officers for border security, but does not specify if more, or how many, officers might be needed. Additionally, he wants to improve the “exit verification” system to make sure that immigrants do not overstay their temporary visas.
To retain skilled workers, Romney proposes offering permanent residency status to foreign students who obtain an advanced degree in math, science or engineering at a U.S. university. For industries that need and use temporary workers from outside the United States, Romney wants to reform the temporary worker visa system by removing requirements that slow the process of obtaining the visa.
To discourage immigrants from entering the country, or staying in the country, without proper documentation, Romney would like to develop an improved employment verification system for employers to ensure that they are not hiring unauthorized immigrants. During the race for the Republican nomination, Romney argued that there would be no need to increase deportations of unauthorized immigrants because implementing a functional employment verification system would make it difficult for them to find a job and they would “self deport.”
Romney also opposes “magnets,” or benefits, for unauthorized immigrants that he believes encourages immigrants to enter the country without authorization. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed a bill that would allow in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants and opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
Romney does not support the DREAM Act, arguing that it too would be a “magnet” for unauthorized immigrants. He does, however, support one small part of the DREAM Act – he believes that unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as minors and have served in the military should be given permanent residency status. Romney has also said he would not, if elected, revoke the visas of those who obtained residency through Obama’s “Dream” decision.
Categories: News Tags: department of homeland security, Dream Act, immigration and customs enforcement, Immigration and Naturalization Service, immigration lawyers, immigration reform, US citizenship test
by Paul Stanley
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Mitt Romney’s position on immigration, in particular on young illegal immigrants, may divide the GOP base because many of the party’s evangelical voters are moving left of the Republican Party on the issue.
If Romney takes a hardline approach, he risks alienating evangelical and Hispanic voters in key battleground states such as Florida. On the other hand, if he shows compassion to the children of illegal immigrants, he risks angering a large portion of the GOP base and several new members of Congress who are trying to win re-election in districts heavy with Tea Partiers.
The immigration issue as a whole, particularly President Obama’s recent order to stop deportation of young illegal immigrants, has put Romney in a challenging position. On Friday, President Obama announced his new policy to stop deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they turned 16 and now are no older than 30 years old. The young illegal immigrants can now obtain work permits and live without fear of being deported.
Also last week, a group of influential evangelicals that included the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Richard Land, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly and Sojourners’ Jim Wallis encouraged Congress and President Obama to take a more compassionate approach to dealing with some of the nation’s illegal immigrants.
“These young people – 99.9 percent of them have done nothing wrong. They didn’t bring themselves here,” Land told The Christian Post. “They were brought here as young children by their parents. Many of them have no memory – no recollection of their home country.”
Land also argues that the 800,000 to 1 million young illegal immigrants living in this country should be addressed in a sympathetic, Christian manner. “This is the right thing to do.”
As expected on such a divisive issue, Romney took a middle-of-the-road position by suggesting that Obama’s statement was motivated by politics and not policy.
“If he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democratic House and Senate, but he didn’t,” Romney told CBS’s Bob Schieffer during a “Face The Nation” segment on Sunday. “He saves these sorts of things until four and a half months before the general election.”
But last January when Romney was campaigning in Iowa against several challengers running to the right of him, he made a stronger statement on immigration, promising to veto any legislation by Democrats that would have given undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Now – in a fashion that is Romney-esque in nature – he is refusing to say if he would repeal Obama’s new policy if elected.
“With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is,” said Romney. “This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Sen. Marco Rubio and by Democratic senators, but the president jumped in and said I’m going to take this action – he called it a stop-gap measure.”
Obama senior adviser David Plouffe commented on Romney’s response to the president’s new immigration policy by saying on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that, “It’s ironic coming from Governor Romney, who said he would veto the Dream Act, whose immigration policy during the primary seemed to consist of just sending 11 million people home, asking them to self-deport.”
Whether or not Romney will soften his stance on immigration is not yet known. However, both he and Obama are scheduled to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials later this week and the issue will certainly be front and center. Land says he is unsure what direction Romney will take, but he does believe that the former governor is “evolving” on this immigration platform.
“A lot will be determined by who Romney picks as his running mate,” said Land. “Rubio would certainly change the dynamics if he’s on the ticket.”
Categories: News Tags: amnesty for illegals, green card, ICE, immigration and customs enforcement, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Immigration law, immigration lawyers, permanent resident, work permit, work visa
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that seeks to end the practice of illegal immigrants getting child tax credit refunds. Attention was brought to the issue after an investigative report by a local television news station went viral on the Internet.
Illegal immigrants are fraudulently taking advantage of the federal income tax’s child tax credit to the tune of $4.2 billion per year, reported Bob Segall of WTHR, an NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, Ind., on April 26. Since even those who do not pay takes can receive the credit, illegal immigrants have found that they are able to receive $1,000 per child from the federal government by filing taxes.
In some cases, though, the fraud goes even further. Segall found cases in which undocumented immigrants were taking the tax credit for nieces and nephews for whom they are not legal guardians and do not live in the United States. Some received more than $10,000 from the federal government.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) sponsored the measure that would no longer allow undocumented immigrants to take the credit. It was added to a bill passed Thursday that seeks to offset planned cuts to defense spending with cuts to other parts of the federal budget. Johnson’s measure would contribute $7.6 billion to the over $300 billion bill.
Johnson credited Segall’s reporting for bringing attention to the issue in his public remarks on the House floor.
“Right now those who are here illegally can get cash from Uncle Sam by providing an IRS-provided tax payer ID number to claim this refundable credit. Illegal immigrants have gone so far as to file tax returns claiming children who do not live in America, according to a recent report by NBC Indianapolis’ WTHR,” Johnson said.
The Internal Revenue Service sent a letter to WTHR explaining that it had no authority to deny the credit to undocumented workers because they are allowed to receive the credit under current law. Johnson’s measure would require a Social Security number in order to receive the credit.
Categories: News Tags: department of homeland security, ICE, immigration and customs enforcement, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Immigration law, immigration lawyers, INS, internal revenue service, irs, us citizenship, US green card, US temporary work visa, US work visa
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C—A coalition of groups from the religious left held a prayer vigil and “Jericho march” at the Supreme Court this week. The court was hearing arguments in a case on the constitutionality of an Arizona immigration law.
The 48-hour prayer vigil began Monday and ended Wednesday morning, the day of the court hearings, with a “Jericho march” around the Supreme Court building. Over 1,000 people were reportedly participating in the march, which was named after the Battle of Jericho from the book of Joshua in which God brought victory to the Israelites after they marched around Jericho and the city walls fell down.
It will be a “sad day in the life of America” if the Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s immigration law, Lisa Sharon Harper told The Christian Post in a Wednesday interview. In particular, Harper was concerned about “the most heinous pieces” of the law “that legalize racial profiling.”
Harper is the director of mobilizing for Sojourners, one of the groups that participated in the vigil.
The law in question, Arizona’s S.B. 1070, would, among other things, require law enforcement to verify the citizenship status of anyone detained or arrested if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally, require non-citizens to carry documentation showing they are in the country legally, and make it a state crime to be in the country illegally.
The court is being asked to decide if Arizona has the authority to pass such laws, or if immigration laws are the sole authority of the federal government. http://www.newscastmedia.com/arizona.htm
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Over 70 illegal immigrants were arrested in Houston by U.S. federal agents as part of a six-day nationwide sting that netted more than 3,100 arrests, according to immigration officials.
With more than 1,800 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, along with officials from federal, state and local law enforcement organizations, participating, the six-day “Cross Check” operation, was the largest of its kind, according to ICE.
Approximately 90 percent of those arrested were with criminal records for offenses including murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking, authorities said.
In addition to the illegals arrested in the Houston area, authorities also arrested 11 in Beaumont and nine in College Station, according to the daily Houston Chronicle.
Meanwhile, CBS-Miaimi reported that of the arrests that were made in all 50 states during the anti-illegal immigrant sweep, 270 people were arrested in Florida.
“This is not somebody that we want to leave on the streets of our communities and our neighborhoods. We target those individuals and arrest those individuals and now we’ll remove them,” said ICE Field Office Director Marc Moore.
New Jersey saw 123 arrests, with 107 of those arrested being convicted felons. In California of the 206 individuals taken into custody in the Los Angeles area, 106 had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes including manslaughter, drug possession and arson.
“Our focus for this operation was public safety, that’s why we’re going after the criminals,” said John Tsoukaris, an ICE official. http://www.newscastmedia.com/houston-immigration.htm
Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas — As the Texas House passed HB 12, the Sanctuary Cities bill that allows cities and law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, Barack Obama said he wanted to provide illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship – which he said would benefit the US economy.
“One way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system, so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else,” Obama said.
“That’s why immigration reform is an economic imperative.”
Enforcing immigration laws – and opposing the idea of giving “amnesty” to those who broke the law sneaking into the country – has become a rallying cry for concerned Americans who want a clampdown to keep drug crime from crossing the border.
Representative Joaquin Castro’s (San Antonio) statement on sanctuary cities:
Today, a choice was made when HB 12 was passed, legislation which will allow law enforcement to stop people and ask them about their immigration status, under the hospice of “sanctuary” cities.
“Debate ended prematurely last night rather than fully addressing one of the most significant pieces of legislation in Texas in the last 50 years,” said Representative Castro. He continued, “This bill is consistent with other legislation passed this session which targets and disenfranchises minorities.”
Legislation such as “sanctuary” cities is a black mark on our state. On top of that, Texans have been left out to dry by a budget that is simply inadequate to meet our state’s needs. Right now, schools and nursing homes are anticipating closure, teachers are being fired, and students across Texas are unsure if they will be able to afford college.
“The latest emergency item brought to the House floor is another attempt to distract Texans from the most pressing issue facing our state, the budget,” said Castro.
Obama offered no concrete policy initiatives or timelines for introducing broad legislation, underscoring the fact that he is unlikely to advance any major overhaul before the 2012 presidential election.