November 13, 2017

A new bill would allow all TPS recipients to apply for permanent residency

For TPS

@alextdaugherty

As the Trump administration weighs whether or not to end the Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Haitians and Salvadorans, three members of Congress are preparing legislation that would allow every TPS recipient to apply for permanent residency.

The bill, dubbed the ASPIRE Act, would let every person covered by TPS before Jan. 1, 2017, apply for permanent residency by proving before a judge that they would face extreme hardship if forced to return home.

“The Temporary Protected Status program was created with bipartisan support to protect human life,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., who plans to introduce the legislation with Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “It advances American interests and values and we must work in a bipartisan manner to do the right thing and protect hardworking immigrants from being sent back to countries where their physical well being could be cast into doubt.”

The bill also creates a new form of “protected status” for TPS recipients who have been in the the U.S. for at least five years. Instead of waiting for renewal or revocation of their status every 18 months, current TPS recipients would be able to stay in the U.S. for a renewable six-year period, though they would not be eligible for permanent residency if they cannot prove extreme hardship.

Clarke’s proposal is more expansive than a bill sponsored by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo that would provide a path to permanent residency for TPS recipients from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras who arrived in the U.S. before Jan. 13, 2011. Ros-Lehtinen and Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have signed on to Curbelo’s bill.

The ASPIRE Act would also correct what Clarke’s office calls an “error” in existing law that requires TPS recipients who arrived in the U.S. illegally to leave the U.S. and reenter to adjust their status. Instead, a TPS designation would be enough of a reason to apply for permanent residency without having to leave the country.

Read more here.

November 09, 2017

More than a dozen Republicans demand a legislative solution for Dreamers

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@alextdaugherty

In a show of force to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican leadership, more than a dozen Republicans from around the country are demanding a legislative solution by the end of 2017 for 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

There is less than four months left for Congress to find a solution for the young immigrants known as Dreamers before President Donald Trump will cancel an Obama-era executive order known as DACA that allowed Dreamers to be protected from deportation.

The 13 Republicans who gathered on Thursday want to vote on a bill now.

“The reality is that these young people with DACA status are already being harmed today,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., noting that over 22,000 DACA recipients missed an October deadline to renew their status and could be fired from their jobs immediately. “Everyday that Congress fails to act, every time that Congress kicks this can down the road, people, real people, are hurt.”

The group, which included conservative Texas Rep. Joe Barton along with moderate Miami Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, wasn’t the typical cast of characters at an immigration news conference on Capitol Hill.

While Ros-Lehtinen and Curbelo are well-versed on immigration issues and delivered their talking points in English and Spanish, other members at the news conference on Capitol Hill tripped up when reciting details about DACA recipients. Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello referred to DACA recipients as “those who were born here” before being corrected by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

The pro-Dreamer Republicans also included those who are trying to hold on to their seats in the face of well-funded Democratic challengers ahead of the 2018 elections. Issa ranks as the most vulnerable House incumbent in a recent analysis by Roll Call, while New York Rep. John Faso, who also spoke at the press conference, ranks third on Roll Call’s list.

But the Miami Republicans will need every possible Republican on board, even if their support is driven by political calculations, to convince Ryan to put a bill on the floor. Certain conservative Republican members are poised to vote against any proposal that expands immigration protections, but multiple Republicans at the press conference said that a legislative solution for Dreamers would easily garner over 300 votes in the 435 member House of Representatives.


Read more here.

November 08, 2017

Ros-Lehtinen: Fellow Republicans don’t care about finding a permanent TPS solution

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@alextdaugherty

Over 200,000 Haitians and Salvadorans could be forced to leave the United States if the Trump administration ends Temporary Protected Status for the two countries, and Democrats along with Miami Republicans in Congress are pushing for a permanent solution.

But Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen isn’t convinced that most of her fellow Republicans care.

The outgoing Miami congresswoman said Tuesday that the majority of Congress “would not know what TPS is” if asked about it and that there isn’t an appetite from Republicans to give TPS recipients a path to permanent residency.

“I spoke yesterday about TPS, had hardly anyone ask me about it. I spoke again today about TPS, radio silence from my colleagues,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “There’s just no interest for immigration reform generally, and I don’t think there’s much appetite to help these two particular groups of people. It hurts to say it but it’s the political reality.”

Ros-Lehtinen and the entire Miami delegation in Congress — Democrats and Republicans — are united behind a bill by Rep. Carlos Curbelo that would allow Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans who receive TPS to obtain a path to permanent residency.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that TPS will expire in 2019 for Nicaraguans, while Hondurans will get a six-month extension until July 2018. The Trump administration has not yet announced a determination for Haitians and Salvadorans.

“While I’m disappointed in the administration’s announcement, these continued short-term extensions have created anxiety and uncertainty not only for these immigrants and their families, but also for their employers and neighbors whose prosperity also depends on them,” Curbelo said in a statement. “Congress has an opportunity to change that, and I’m grateful the Administration has called for a permanent solution from Congress.”

But finding a permanent solution will be a political challenge for House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Miami Republicans. Conservative Republicans have railed against any attempt to expand immigration, and the March 2018 deadline for Congress to find a legislative solution for young people known as Dreamers, who came to the country with their parents illegally as children, looms ahead of Nicaragua’s January 2019 TPS elimination or Honduras’ possible elimination in July 2018.

Read more here.

October 04, 2017

Annette Taddeo has a message for national Democrats: work together

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@alextdaugherty 

Incoming Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo didn't get the same national attention as other special election candidates in recent months. 

But the 50-year-old Colombian-American businesswoman and former congressional candidate differed from better-known figures like Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana in one notable way: she won.

Taddeo defeated former state Rep. José Félix Díaz last week in a Miami-area special election even though Diaz was better-funded. 

And as national Democrats begin to campaign for Doug Jones in an Alabama Senate special election against Republican Roy Moore, Taddeo is urging the likely flood of liberal interest groups interested in flipping Attorney General Jeff Sessions' old senate seat and other upcoming races in Virginia to put aside intra-party differences and communicate. 

"One clear thing that happened here is that there were a lot of different organizations and groups wanting to help," Taddeo said. "We got to make sure that the egos are left at the table and that everyone one has one goal." 

Taddeo noted that during Ossoff's campaign, which received record amounts of money, different groups didn't necessary work together as well as they could have. 

"There would be people knocking on that door and finding out that five other people had been to the door that day," Taddeo said. "We need to silo the responsibilities and make sure everyone is working toward that one goal." 

Taddeo was part of a press call with Latino Decisions, a Democratic-leaning polling firm, to announce the results of a new poll that shows Donald Trump is losing support among Florida Hispanics. Nearly two-thirds of Florida Hispanics disapprove of Trump's job performance while 76 percent of Hispanics nationwide disapprove of Trump's performance. 

"The poll is significant because it's proof that President Trump and the Republican Party are alienating Latinos of all backgrounds and all political stripes," said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee.

Immigration reform and the Dream Act is the most important issue facing the Hispanic community that Congress and President Trump should address, according to the poll. 

The poll, which included 369 Florida Latinos, was conducted on Sept. 20 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. 

 

October 02, 2017

Bloomberg-backed immigration group rallies Florida support for GOP version of Dream Act

@PatriciaMazzei

A pro-immigration reform created by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch is rallying Florida support for Republican legislation to grant citizenship to young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

New American Economy won endorsements for the "Succeed Act" from state Sen. René García of Hialeah and several business groups, including the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The legislation, billed as a conservative Dream Act, was introduced in Congress last week by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. It is a companion to a House bill dubbed the "Recognize America's Children Act" filed earlier this year Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. They are intended to help beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, that protected them from deportation and is being phased out by the Trump administration.

"Dreamers represent the best and brightest of the American dream," García said in a statement. "I'm encouraged to see Congress recognize the need to address the future of DACA recipients this year, and I hope to work together with Congressman Curbelo and the Florida Congressional delegation to produce a meaningful economic solution."

Also supporting the Succeed and RAC acts were Julio Fuentes, president and chief executive of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Carlos Carrillo, executive director of Associated General Contractors of South Florida; Ed Moore, president of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida; and Peter A. Wish, commissioner of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority.

Coral Gables healthcare magnate Mike Fernandez, whose own fund offers legal aid to immigrants facing deportation, also signed on later Monday.

"Congress has a dynamic opportunity in front of them to reverse the uncertainty following the decision to end DACA, and create a movement that truly celebrates the spirit of immigrants to move our economic potential forward," he said in a statement.

New American Economy estimates more than 46,000 Floridians are eligible for DACA.

This post has been updated.

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

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@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