September 14, 2017

Miami Republican demands straight answer from Trump on Dreamers

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@alextdaugherty 

Donald Trump was striking a deal over dinner with Democrats on Wednesday night to save Dreamers from deportation. By Thursday morning, his aides were playing catch up and insisting nothing changed in his position on immigration or border security.

Now, as confusion reigns over Trump’s true intentions for dealing with 800,000 people affected by a now-canceled Obama-era order that allowed them to live and work in the United States, one senior Republican lawmaker wants the White House to come clean.

“It is unfortunate that the President continues to play coy with young people who benefit our American society instead of being serious and straightforward about an important policy that will impact the lives of nearly 800,000 DREAMers,” said Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a statement provided to Miami Herald.

Ros-Lehtinen, the most senior Republican from Florida and a co-sponsor of a bill called the Dream Act that gives these young people a path to citizenship, was unable to be in Washington for congressional business this week, as her district continues to recover from Hurricane Irma.

“We hear reports that he is working on a deal that would help DREAMers, but he flatly denies such a deal,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Instead of changing with the prevailing wind, the President must be clear about his intentions. If he is interested in protecting DREAMers, he must cut out the rhetoric of trying to please all sides and, instead, put forth clear guidance on what legislative language he is willing to accept or reject on protecting Dreamers.”
 
As Trump looks increasingly willing to buck his far-right base to score some legislative victories — first on the nation’s borrowing limit and now on border security and the immigration policy known as DACA — three Miami-based Republicans find themselves in a new and potentially influential role as center-right lawmakers able to form a coalition with Democrats. Including Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo have something to gain from Trump’s dealmaking with Democrats.
 
Read more here.

September 11, 2017

Congress shoves Dreamer fix down the docket

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@alextdaugherty 

When President Donald Trump urged lawmakers to draft a new law that would stop him from deporting young people brought illegally into the country as children, Republicans and Democrats alike eagerly scrambled to make it happen.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., held a press conference to tout their “Dream Act” while Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., began pushing a bill they view as a compromise for conservatives who want to take a harder line against illegal immigrants.

But now – just one week later – much of that momentum is already gone.

The dynamics have completely changed on Capitol Hill. Two devastating storms landed Congress a multi-billion-dollar aid fight. Trump and Congressional leadership want a big tax deal passed into law, and Republicans are still fuming about a separate agreement the president struck with Democratic leaders on the debt ceiling and government spending that hands the opposition party the advantage in negotiations on all of those issues.

Plus, Trump promised that if Congress fails to save the people known as Dreamers, he would readdress their predicament in six months, giving lawmakers even less incentive to get DACA on the docket in 2017.
 
And in Congress, six months is an eternity.

“I just never shook my eyes away from the shiny objects,” Tillis said when asked about his biggest priorities over the next few months. “We’ve got to work on health care, we’ve got to work on tax reform, we’ve got to work on infrastructure, we’ve got to be prepared to deal with disasters when they come up.”

Absent from Tillis’ list: immigration.

“We’ve got to come up with a solution...but we can’t all the sudden shift all of our focus and resources to this thing that needs to be accomplished because tax reform is that important. Immigration is up there but we can’t shift our focus away from the thing that may get the most headlines over the next week.”

Overhauling the nation’s tax system will require a 2018 budget resolution, as Republicans are pushing to lower personal and corporate taxes through a process called reconciliation, which requires a simple majority in the Senate instead of 60 votes. But they can’t use reconciliation until they pass a budget, since the 2017 budget expires at the end of September.

That gives Congress three months to pass a tax overhaul if lawmakers are going to meet a soft goal set by senior Republicans to get some big legislative priority accomplished by the end of 2017.

“The enemy is time,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

It’s also substance. Conservative Republicans are demanding that significant border security measures are included in any proposal that deals with Dreamers, and House Speaker Paul Ryan is well aware that angry conservatives conspired to oust his predecessor, John Boehner, over immigration.

“Our focus in Congress should be on the border wall, sanctuary cities,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, who represents a conservative district in the Florida Panhandle. I’m not a supporter of DACA because when you permanently invite child illegal aliens across the border you create other undesirable conditions.”

Read more here.

September 07, 2017

Billionaire political donor Mike Fernandez rips ‘bully’ Speaker Richard Corcoran’s DACA stance

Florida Legislature

via @learyreports

Billionaire Miami businessman Mike Fernandez this morning criticized House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s hardline on DACA.

“We currently have a Speaker of the House in Florida in which the consensus among his peers can be best defined as a bully,” Fernandez said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. “This may be the case, but in my humble opinion he truly is an intellectual midget ( or short person to be politically correct). His position on the 32,000 Floridian attending our universities is discriminatory at the very least. It may be legal, but so was slavery and that did not make it right.”

Corcoran praised President Donald Trump’s move to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, saying “anything less would have been a tacit acceptance of President Obama’s backdoor amnesty plan for illegal immigrants.”

It was a break from the stances of two potential GOP rivals for governor, Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala, who said the children of immigrants brought to the country illegally should be protected.

“While Congress has shown little ability to get anything done (think repeal and replace of Obamacare), I just hope they don’t turn the opportunity the president has given them to deal with this illegal immigration problem into their own backdoor amnesty plan.”

Fernandez, who left the GOP over Trump, called Corcoran’s position “horrendous to our economy. President Trump’s action sidestep the issue by passing it off to Congress, but there are real consequences for our nation and the state of Florida if the this giant in his own mind gets his way, as this is not a platform on which Republicans can stand.”

The Times has asked Corcoran for a response.

His full email is below:

A former Head of the Israeli Army, Prime Minister, President and World’s Statesman Shimon Peres once told former Florida Speaker Will Weatherford and I in a private meeting... “Great Leaders Serve, they don’t rule”. On another occasion, part of my annual trip to the Israeli capital he also spoke with the wisdom of a warrior/visionary. I quote...” with as many Palestinians as we have living as our neighbors, the future for our continued prosperity and safety is dependent on a single act, A Respectful handshake”.

As a non politician I have the good fortune to speak my mind without a filter.

We currently have a Speaker of the House in Florida in which the consensus among his peers can be best defined as a bully. This may be the case, but in my humble opinion he truly is an intellectual midget ( or short person to be politically correct). His position on the 32,000 Floridian attending our universities is discriminatory at the very least. It may be legal, but so was slavery and that did not make it right.

Corcoran’s position is horrendous to our economy. ​President Trump’s action sidestep the issue by passing it off to Congress, but there are real consequences for our nation and the state of Florida if the this giant in his own mind gets his way, as this is not a platform on which Republicans can stand.

We can’t remain silent on an anti-economic position, which will increase the price of products and services, eliminates jobs while not creating new ones and position 32,000 Floridian (students in higher education) on the path to deportation. These young people are our future high wage earners and tax payers.

We all know key economic facts:

Every single Dreamer registered with DACA will be subject to deportation, 32,800 of the more than 800,000 Dreamers live in Florida.

In losing so many talented young people from the workforce and academia, Florida’s GDP will experience a loss of $1.5 billion annually.

The United States will lose $460.3 billion in GDP over the next decade as a result of repealing DACA without a legislative solution.

We can find headlines like these in just about most major newspapers,

Wall Street Journal today’s headline:

End of DACA Moves Labor Force in Wrong Direction, Big Employers Say.

Wall Street Journal today’s headline:

Paul Ryan Urges Trump to Keep ‘Dreamers’ Program.

This is the opinion of a former undocumented person who arrived in the great Nation (not in the smoke filled halls of the Capitol but with an M16 in his arms). An immigrant that created over 50,000 jobs in our State and has contributed over $30 million to the Republican causes over the last 15 years. Fir the sake of transparency, I also contributed $3million in the last election in an attempt to stop Trump. I never met Mrs. Clinton and I thought she could wound our Nation but I feared that Trump could mortally wound it.

Republicans, look back and re-evaluate our path. It is not a Republican thesis which we are following, it’s a Trumpist mistake.

Mike

 

September 06, 2017

Miami-Dade to unauthorized immigrants: Don’t fear Hurricane Irma shelters

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@PatriciaMazzei

Immigrants in South Florida illegally should not fear deportation if they seek shelter during Hurricane Irma, according to political leaders who urged the undocumented to heed local evacuation orders.

“We don’t ask anybody for their identification,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a briefing late Wednesday from the county’s emergency operations center in Doral. “Everybody who needs shelter in Miami-Dade County is welcome, and you should do so without any fear of any repercussions.”

When Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas late last month, some unauthorized immigrants told aid workers and news reporters they stayed away from public shelters because they were scared federal authorities would inquire about their legal status and detain them. Their concerns were exacerbated when uniformed U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents assisted in the recovery — even though the federal government said repeatedly the agents weren’t acting in any deportation capacity.

To avoid a similar situation in South Florida, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio urged the Department of Homeland Security to explain in advance its role during Hurricane Irma. The agency said Wednesday it “will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area,” though Homeland Security personnel will be deployed to help federal, state and local authorities in the storm’s aftermath.

More here.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

September 05, 2017

Miami laments end of DACA

105Daca06 NEW PPP

@PatriciaMazzei @harrisalexc @BrendaMedinar

South Florida’s robust community of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children decried President Donald Trump on Tuesday for calling for an end to an Obama-era program that for five years has protected them from deportation, saying the White House has clouded their futures with uncertainty.

They were joined by local politicians — including Republicans vocally opposed to Trump’s decision — who clamored for quick congressional action before a six-month grace period expires for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

“It’s the only real protection I have right now,” lamented 20-year-old Javiera Garate, who came to the U.S. from Chile when she was 4. “There’s literally nothing you can do without that.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the expected announcement Tuesday morning that the government would stop expanding DACA, which then-President Barack Obama created under executive action in 2012. A group of 10 conservative states challenged the program in court, and Sessions’ Justice Department refused to defend it.

Obama took the rare step Tuesday of commenting on the decision, which he called "cruel."

“Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” Obama said in a statement. “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people — and who we want to be.”

More here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, el Nuevo Herald

Rubio on DACA: 'The president will have to lead'

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@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio urged President Donald Trump on Tuesday to tell lawmakers what legislation he’d be willing to sign to allow to immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to stay, now that his administration has decided to wind down the executive program that protected them from deportation.

“Congress has to act,” Rubio said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “But on this matter, the White House and the president will have to lead.”

In his first public remarks about the end of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, the Republican senator said he’s been reassured in private conversations with the White House that Trump wants Congress to help the so-called “Dreamers” — and not just let their work permits and deportation protection expire.

“This is not something he really wants to do,” Rubio said of Trump. “He kind of finds himself in a situation, from a constitutional and legal perspective, where he has to address it.”

Rubio argued DACA, challenged in court by attorneys general from 10 states, would likely have been ruled unconstitutional in a few months and left the nearly 800,000 people who have benefited from the program immediately unprotected. When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that DACA would be rescinded, he included a six-month wind-down period gives Congress room to legislate. 

“The idea that we could have somehow continued it in perpetuity isn’t true. It’s on very shaky constitutional ground,” Rubio said. “There were some advocating for its immediate cancellation. The only reason to put the six-month period in place is to give Congress to opportunity to address this.”

More here.

Photo credit: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Trump administration 'rescinds' DACA, and Miami Republicans are not happy about it

@PatriciaMazzei

South Florida reaction is started to roll in about President Donald Trump's decision to wind down a program that protects immigrants brought into the country illegally as children -- and his fellow Republicans are unhappy about it.

September 04, 2017

On Twitter and TV, Ros-Lehtinen takes Trump to task on DACA

@PatriciaMazzei

Scrolling through Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's Twitter feed over the last two days was a study in the retiring congresswoman's longtime frustration toward President Donald Trump over his aggressive deportation policy. The White House appears likely to move to end a program Tuesday that protects from deportation immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

A sampling, from oldest to newest:

Latvala, Putnam: 'Dreamers' should not be punished

via @learyreports

Republican candidates for governor Jack Latvala and Adam Putnam on Monday offered support for young immigrants and say Congress needs to act. Their comments come as President Trump is deciding the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, DACA.

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children,” Latvala said in a statement. “Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in 6 months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate.

“Congress has dropped the ball on this issue like so many others. It’s time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers. I call on other leaders of the Republican Party in Florida to join me in supporting these children so they can come out of the shadows and legally secure jobs.”

We reached out to Putnam and his campaign provided this statement from him:

“Our national immigration system is broken, and the federal government must fix it. We must secure our borders, end illegal immigration and rid our nation of sanctuary cities,” Putnam said. “But the children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for their parents’ wrongdoings. I am glad to see the President will allow Congress to develop a solution to replace Obama’s unconstitutional program.”

The Times has sought comment from potential GOP candidates Richard Corcoran and Ron DeSantis.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 01, 2017

Scott breaks with Trump on DACA, gently

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged President Donald Trump on Friday not to summarily end an Obama-era program that that protects from deportation immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

Amid rampant speculation that Trump on Tuesday will stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Scott said in a statement that DACA recipients should be given a reprieve.

“I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents,” Scott said. “These kids must be allowed to pursue the American Dream, and Congress must act on this immediately.”

He endorsed legislation filed by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo and North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis that would offer an eventual path to citizenship to immigrants who arrived illegally before Jan. 1, 2012, and were 16 years old or younger when they entered.

Those people have been dubbed “Dreamers,” after the failed legislation that first attempted to give them legal status, the DREAM Act.

“We love the Dreamers,” Trump told reporters Friday. “We love everybody.”

The governor’s statement marked a rare break with the president, Scott’s Republican ally and longtime friend. Scott chaired a Trump political action committee during the 2016 presidential campaign and has been a frequent visitor to the White House and, most recently, Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J., for lunch with the president.

More here.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald