July 07, 2016

Immigration advocates urge Versailles to reconsider hosting Trump

@PatriciaMazzei

United Families, a Miami immigration advocacy group, publicized an open letter Thursday evening urging Versailles Cuban restaurant to reconsider hosting Donald Trump's roundtable with Hispanic leaders Friday.

The same organization, whose members are immigrants in the country illegally, said it organized protesters at Trump's previous Miami event, a rally at Trump National Doral golf resort in October.

"Versailles restaurant has been for years a refuge where immigrants have come together to express our disagreement and opposition against events that have affected our community and your doors have always been open to immigrants who look for a place to share their experiences," the group wrote Versailles owner Felipe Valls. "It is for that reason that we are very disappointed that your restaurant is welcoming a person who does not sympathize with our community and effectively has used us as scapegoats in his path for power."

Trump's lunch is private, but political events at Versailles regularly draw curious onlookers, supporters and protesters. The restaurant has long opened its doors to both Republicans and Democrats, though Versailles is perhaps best known as a gathering place for hardline Cuban exiles.

Read the group's full letter below:

Continue reading "Immigration advocates urge Versailles to reconsider hosting Trump" »

July 06, 2016

Tea party backs Rubio despite 'huge mistake' over immigration

via @learyreports

He made a "huge mistake" by getting involved in immigration, but Sen. Marco Rubio has the backing of the nation's largest tea party group.

Tea Party Patriots said its super PAC will back Rubio in his re-election bid.

“When he first ran for the Senate in 2010, Marco Rubio had the courage to challenge a popular sitting governor, and Tea Party Patriots all over the state responded by flocking to his candidacy and forming the backbone of his support. Since winning that election, he has served ably and well, and – despite his huge mistake on ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ (read: amnesty for illegal immigrants), from which he says he has learned his lessons – he is, clearly, the strongest conservative candidate for the Senate in Florida," Jenny Beth Martin said in a release.

“Let’s be frank: That mistake hurt him with Tea Party activists in Florida, and across the nation. But he now says he recognizes the difficulty of dealing with such an issue in a comprehensive fashion, and instead supports a one-at-a-time approach – first, implement real border security, and don’t make any further moves until the public agrees that our borders are secure. Then, and only then, will we be able successfully to move on to other aspects of the immigration reform agenda. Tea Party Patriots believes that will be a successful strategy, and we support Sen. Rubio’s decision to follow that course.

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June 23, 2016

Curbelo rivals take aim over Supreme Court immigration ruling

@PatriciaMazzei

The two Democrats vying to challenge U.S. Carlos Curbelo leaped at the chance Thursday to pound the Miami Republican over the Supreme Court's ruling to block one of President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

Annette Taddeo and former Rep. Joe Garcia noted Curbelo had characterized the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, overreach by the White House. The court deadlocked 4-4 over the program, allowing a lower appeals court decision against its constitutionality to stand. The late Justice Antonin Scalia has not been replaced.

"It's a sad day for immigrant families and the many activists who have fought for real change," Garcia said in a statement. "When Republicans refused to put my comprehensive immigration reform bill to a vote, I supported President Obama's actions. Now, two years later, Republican still won't take up immigration reform, or even fill the Supreme Court's vacancy, all while they continue to push immigrants into the shadows."

DAPA would have allowed the parents of lawful permanent residents -- in effect, the parents who brought their children into the country illegally -- to apply for a program protecting them from deportation.

"I'm heartbroken by today's Supreme Court decision," Taddeo said in a statement. "It's a big blow to Hispanic families in South Florida. Families continue to be torn apart because of our broken immigration system, and instead of solving the problem, Carlos Curbelo and his Republican buddies in Congress continue to shift the blame elsewhere."

Taddeo also blasted Curbelo on Twitter, saying if he "really cared about South Florida's immigrant families, he wouldn't be applauding" the decision -- even though Curbelo didn't actually praise the court.

He and other Republicans said in a joint statement Thursday that the court ruling did not solve the immigration problem and Congress should "work together" to fix the system. Last week, he and Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led the effort to defeat a House amendment against Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Garcia and Taddeo, however, argue Curbelo has moderated his position in office, given that his newly redrawn district is more Democratic, as is the presidential-election year electorate. Garcia noted Curbelo said in 2014 that he did "not support amnesty" for undocumented immigrants and thought the U.S. should return children crossing the border back to their home countries.

This post has been updated.

Pro-Clinton super PACs release web ad about Supreme Court immigration decision

@PatriciaMazzei

Hillary Clinton's allies were ready for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Thursday to block the program known as DAPA, one of President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

Just a few hours after the court's decision came down, the Latino Victory Fund and Priorities USA, both super PACs, said they kicked off a five-figure online ad campaign reminding voters that DACA, Obama's first-deportation protection program, is still valid -- and that Donald Trump would like to get rid of them both.

The web ads will target Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

 

2 pro-immigration reform groups praise Curbelo's new DREAM Act

@PatriciaMazzei

New legislation offering legal status to people brought into the country illegally as children has won the praise of a pair of national groups promoting immigration reform.

The Recognizing American Children Act, filed by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, has the support of FWD.us, a Silicon Valley organization co-founded by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and of the National Immigration Forum, a conservative immigration advocacy group.

"In a period where the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is calling for the forced mass deportation of every single undocumented immigrant in the United States, we are encouraged that these Congressmen are working in a different and constructive way," FWD.us said Wednesday in a statement.

The National Immigration Forum also applauded the bill's "tone" -- but also noted "shortcomings," such as a shorter eligibility period than the comprehensive reform bill the Senate passed in 2013.

"It is fantastic to see some leadership on immigration among House Republicans," the group's executive director, Ali Noorani, said in a statement. "Despite some room for improvement, this proposal stands favorably next to the messages about mass deportation and walls that have ruled the Republican presidential campaign."

Curbelo's proposal, co-sponsored with Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, is the latest version of the so-called DREAM Act, a law that failed in the Senate and prompted President Barack Obama to take executive action to protect some young immigrants from deportation. Both Curbelo and Coffman are running for re-election in swing districts this fall.

Rubio and fellow Miami Republicans react to SCOTUS immigration decision

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lauded the Supreme Court on Thursday on its decision to keep blocking a plan by President Barack Obama to let scores of people in the country illegally remain in the U.S.

The court, still missing a ninth member after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, deadlocked 4-4 on the issue. That left standing an earlier appeals court decision prohibiting the Obama administration from implementing its Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.

"This is the right decision," Rubio said in a statement. "No matter what solutions one may prefer to fix our broken immigration system, those policies must be pursued and passed into law by Congress."

But he and the other South Florida politicians -- all of whom have supported immigration reform -- also said Congress must also act.

"While the Supreme Court's decision makes clear that President Obama has acted lawlessly, it does not leave Congress off the hook either," Rubio said.

Miami's three Republican House members -- Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo -- were even more critical of lawmakers (many of them in the GOP) who have failed to address immigration issues.

"The Supreme Court has spoken, but today's decision does not resolve the issue," they said in a joint statement. "The American people expect Congress to work together to secure our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a humane solution to those living in the shadows, modernize our visa system, and bolster the economy. We are committed to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all."

Joining the Miamians in their position were Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Dan Newhouse of Washington, David Valadao of California, Jeff Denham of California, and Bob Dold of Illinois.

June 21, 2016

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo files new DREAM Act

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday filed legislation that would allow people brought into the U.S. illegally as children before 2010 to remain in the country -- a new version of the so-called DREAM Act.

Under the proposed law, immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally before Jan. 1, 2010, and were 16 years old or younger, could follow a path to U.S. citizenship.

The "Recognizing American Children Act" would offer high school graduates without a serious criminal record or dependence on public assistance conditional immigration status for five years. During that time, they could follow one of three ways to remain in the country permanently. If they receive a higher-education degree, serve in the military or remain employed, they could apply for permanent residency -- and, later, citizenship. Those enlisted in the military would get an immediate chance at naturalization.

"There are many young immigrants in our country who came involuntarily with their families as minors. They have grown up with our own kids and attended American schools -- many speaking only English," Curbelo said in a statement. "Today they are trying to make a contribution to our great nation through the economy or the military. These are undoubtedly America's children."

Curbelo filed the legislation with a fellow Republican, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado. Both represent two of the most competitive swing districts in the country, in states with a significant proportion of Hispanic voters. Coffman has received money from Curbelo's political committee, What a Country PAC, intended to support Republican members of Congress who like Curbelo back immigration reform. Curbelo's Westchester-to-Key West district leans in Democrats' favor.

Continue reading "Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo files new DREAM Act" »

May 25, 2016

CBO report says ending automatic Cuban refugee payments would save money

@PatriciaMazzei

It seems obvious, but now a nonpartisan report confirms it: Ending automatic welfare payments to Cuban immigrants would save the federal government money.

That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed proposed legislation by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Sen. Marco Rubio, two Cuban-American Republicans.

The CBO estimated the feds would save $2.45 billion over 10 years if recently arrived Cubans were no longer treated automatically as refugees deserving of food stamps and other aid. About $1.05 billion would be saved from 2017-21, and another $1.4 billion from 2022-27.

The savings give Curbelo and Rubio a new selling point for their bill, which they filed to curtail abuse by some Cuban immigrants who send the money back to the island. GOP leaders in Congress — particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — have said they’re not interested in taking up immigration legislation. With the CBO report in hand, Rubio and Curbelo might have better luck pitching their proposal as a way to save money.

More here.

May 20, 2016

Andrew Korge attacks Anitere Flores on immigration but omits key facts

@PatriciaMazzei

Democrat Andrew Korge is a third-generation Miamian with Greek roots. But he’s running for a Florida state Senate district where the majority of voters are Hispanic.

So Korge seized on a Spanish-language radio interview this week to show off his Latino cred. He introduced himself in Spanish, saying he speaks only “a little” of the language, “but I love Hispanics and Latinos.” He Hispanicized his last name, pronouncing it “CORE-hay.” He claimed his friends call him “El Gordo.”

And then he dropped the name of his Republican opponent, Sen. Anitere Flores, in the same sentence as “Arizona-style immigration bill” and “Donald Trump.”

“She proposed an Arizona-style immigration bill in 2011. Donald Trump supports that bill,” Korge told Zeta 92.3 FM’s Ahora con Oscar Haza on Monday, noting his mother immigrated to the U.S from Greece. “Whether you are a Latino or griego, that is a crazy bill that no one should ever propose.”

But Korge is distorting Flores’ record. While it’s true she sponsored a 2011 Senate immigration bill, it was well-known at the time that she did so to make sure the legislation would not be like the Arizona crackdown that allowed cops to ask for papers.

Flores’ position so upset then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos that he ended up yanking the bill from her hands. She ultimately voted against it.

“I have no problem defending my record. I do have a problem with people distorting my record and in this case saying something that is a blatant lie,” Flores said. “Had it not been me the one that was involved in this issue in the beginning, we would have maybe ended up with an Arizona law. The reason we didn’t is we said no, we’re going to deal with this issue delicately.”

Continue reading "Andrew Korge attacks Anitere Flores on immigration but omits key facts" »

May 13, 2016

Miami GOP congressman plans to file new DREAM Act

@PatriciaMazzei

A newsy nugget from our story about U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo's political survival in the age of Donald Trump: The Miami Republican plans to soon file a new version of the DREAM Act.

Within a few weeks, Curbelo plans to file the sort of big legislation he can campaign on in a general election, even if the bill has virtually no chance of getting a vote: a new version of the DREAM Act — renamed Recognizing America’s Children Act — that would allow immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to stay.

Curbelo offered few details about his bill, but he told the Herald it's important to change the proposal's name to give it a fresh start. The new name -- acronym RACA -- might "put pressure" on legislators to do the "recognizing" of the young immigrants, he said.