December 12, 2017

Curbelo calls on Congress to find a Dreamer solution this week

Curbelo (1)

@alextdaugherty 

Congress has less than three days to find a solution for Dreamers in order for it to become law by the end of the year, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said on Tuesday. 

But Curbelo is hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can find a compromise for the 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who face uncertainly after President Donald Trump said he will cancel an Obama-era executive order known as DACA that allowed Dreamers to be protected from deportation.

"We had very good meetings last night, three meetings," Curbelo said. "For the first time a lot of the like-minded Republicans and Democrats who want to get to yes got together. We're getting closer to filing a compromise, which has been my frustration. There's an obvious compromise out there, DACA fix and border security, but no one has proffered that compromise." 

If both parties can find a compromise, then a spending bill that funds the government known as a continuing resolution is the likely legislative vehicle that can include a solution for Dreamers. It is expected that a continuing resolution will get a vote sometime next week before a December 22nd deadline. 

"If they (leadership) want to give us a standalone vote, that's fine, it'll pass. I know it will," Curbelo said. "The most obvious vehicle is whatever continuing resolution is with a budget cap with new bipartisan numbers. We're getting closer and a lot of people have put aside partisan differences we've had in recent weeks to focus on trying to have something next week to take a run at this before the end of the year."

If congressional leaders fail to find a compromise in an end of the year spending bill, Curbelo said he will vote against the legislation that keeps the government running. Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said she will do the same. 

"I'm not going to back down from that commitment," Curbelo said. "If I get maybe a time-certain commitment from leadership that there will be a vote, maybe I would think about saying 'Okay, that's good enough.' But I doubt I would get that clarity." 

Curbelo said that if the year-end spending bill doesn't include a Dreamer solution, the next opportunity will likely be in January when Congress takes up another spending bill. 

Congress has just under three months to find a solution for Dreamers before the DACA order officially ends on March 5. 

December 05, 2017

As Dreamers protested outside Marco Rubio’s office, a U.S. Border Patrol truck showed up

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via @moniqueomadan

As immigrant advocacy groups rallied outside Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s offices in Doral Monday, protesters say a U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck circled around the group.

“@ICEgov just sent a truck to intimidate the dreamers fasting outside of the offices of Senator @marcorubio and Congressman @MarioDB. #CleanDreamAct #DreamActNow,” posted Florida Immigrant Coalition’s Tomas Kennedy.

The protest was organized to demand the protection for Dreamers, those who were brought by their families to the United States as children even though they were undocumented immigrants.

Many of those participating— some elderly — launched a week-long hunger strike Friday, urging local politicians to fight the Trump administration’s repeal of the country’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

TPS is a program that protects foreign nationals — Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Haitians — from being deported to their homelands amid instability and perilous conditions caused by armed conflict or natural disasters. The Obama-era DACA programs has allowed those who entered the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation.

Read more here.

November 28, 2017

This Miami Republican won’t vote for spending bill unless Dreamers are protected

0445 IMPAC Immigration Summ

@newsbysmiley @alextdaugherty

Congress faces a Dec. 8 deadline to fund the federal government, and Republican leaders are usually reliant on Democratic support to pass federal spending proposals that rankle deficit-conscious conservatives.

As the deadline approaches, Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican who usually supports House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Tuesday he won’t support any funding legislation unless there’s a deal to help undocumented young adults who came to the U.S. as young children. If enough Republicans follow Curbelo’s path, Ryan could be forced to find a solution in order to keep the government running.

“House leadership knows it is a major priority for me to get this done before the end of the year,” Curbelo said in an interview. “I know that we have until March [before an Obama-era executive order expires], but there’s no sense in waiting that long.”

Curbelo has faced criticism from Democrats for not signing onto the Dream Act, a legislative solution to the Obama order that protects Dreamers from deportation. Instead, Curbelo is pushing his own bill called the Recognizing America’s Children Act, which he touts as a more conservative version of the Dream Act. Curbelo has said he will support any legislation that helps Dreamers if it comes to the floor for a vote even if it isn’t his bill.

President Donald Trump said he will not renew the Obama-era executive order, known as DACA, which will end in March 2018.

It is possible that congressional leaders will propose a short-term spending bill to keep the government running through Christmas, which gives Democrats and Republicans more time to hash out a final plan. Curbelo said his position on first helping some 800,000 young immigrants applies specifically to “any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond Dec. 31.”

Read more here. 

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

Florida_Candidates 01 EKM (2)

@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.