September 04, 2017

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

 

Miami billionaire wants to meet with Paul Ryan on DACA

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@PatriciaMazzei

A billionaire Miami political donor wants to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan to press his case for Congress to protect from deportation immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

Healthcare magnate Mike Fernandez, a vocal opponent of the Trump administration's aggressive deportation policy, has asked Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to arrange a meeting with Ryan, according to an email exchange Fernandez forwarded Friday to the Miami Herald and a group of local and state business, political and civic leaders.

President Donald Trump has threatened to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday an announcement would come Tuesday.

"We love the DREAMers," Trump told reporters. "We love everybody."

In the email, Fernandez praised Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon who was born in Mexico and crossed the border into the U.S. as a teenager. Fernandez called him a "dear friend."

"This is the type of talent we will be deporting" he wrote. "What are we doing to our Nation?"

Fernandez included a Friday morning email to Curbelo calling the sophomore congressman "bold" because he has filed legislative amendments trying to keep the Trump administration from spending money to deport DACA recipients.

Curbelo has also filed a bill that would effectively enact DACA into law -- an effort supported by other Republicans, including Ryan, who said Friday he opposes having Trump end DACA before letting Congress take it up.

From his BlackBerry, Curbelo responded to Fernandez on Friday: "No stone can be left unturned."

He acknowledged the White House would probably "weaken" the program.

"I feel good about a legislative fix before the end of the year," Curbelo added. "Had a good conversation with Paul. Will work on a meeting for you this month."

Curbelo previously arranged a 2016 Ryan meeting with Fernandez over Cuba policy. Fernandez was then a registered Republican who backed former President Barack Obama's renewed diplomatic relations with Havana.

Fernandez has since left the GOP and registered without party affiliation. Earlier this year, he created a fund to help defend unauthorized immigrants in court.

Earlier this week, Fernandez took part in a Miami Dade College forum supporting DACA.

Fernandez was a major financier of Jeb Bush's presidential campaign. Friday on Facebook, Bush also urged legislative action to protect Dreamers:

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

August 31, 2017

Miami Republican wants to keep White House from spending money to end DACA, if DACA survives that long

106 Curbelo Ryan DS (1)
@PatriciaMazzei

As early as Friday, President Donald Trump could end a program that protected from deportation young immigrants brought into the country illegally.

But if the White House doesn't immediately eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, at least one Miami Republican member of Congress wants to try to make it more difficult for the Trump administration to act on its own.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo recently filed three amendments to a House spending bill intended to block the use of budget funds to alter DACA. It appears to be a long-shot approach, given that the GOP-held House seems unlikely to oppose Trump on cracking down on immigration, an issue important to the president's base.

One amendment would prohibit the White House from using any funds appropriated in the bill to change DACA. Another would ban the funds from being used to deport DACA recipients or cancel or suspend their work permits.

A third amendment would allow DACA recipients, often called "Dreamers," to be eligible for government employment.

The mega appropriations bill is scheduled to be considered in the House next week, after Congress returns from its summer recess.

Some 50,000 people benefit from DACA in Florida. Curbelo filed a new version of the "Dream Act" -- legislation that would allow people brought into the country illegally as children to remain -- in March.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

Trump to end DACA program as early as Friday

GOP+2016+Trump
via @anitakumar01 @FrancoOrdonez

President Donald Trump is expected to end an Obama-era program that shielded young people from deportation, but he will likely let the immigrants known as Dreamers stay in the United States until their work permits run out, according to multiple people familiar with the policy negotiation.

That plan would allow Trump to fulfill a campaign promise to end one of Barack Obama’s signature initiatives while also giving the president a way to keep the pledge he made after Inauguration Day to treat the Dreamers with “great heart,” said sources on both sides of the issue who are involved in the discussions.

An announcement could come as soon as Friday, just days before a deadline imposed by 10 states that threatened to sue the U.S. government if it did not stop protecting people brought into the country illegally as children.

Advocacy groups that want to preserve the program are urging the White House to ask those states — led by hurricane-ravaged Texas — to postpone their Tuesday deadline. A delay would give those groups more time to negotiate, and it could give Trump the space to avoid making a major policy announcement while his administration is eager to remain focused on hurricane recovery efforts.

But the president is under intense pressure to move quickly to end the program — called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or, more commonly, DACA — from groups that supported his candidacy because of his pro-deportation immigration position and his promise to end this particular program on his first day in office.

More here.

Photo credit: Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

August 30, 2017

South Florida DREAMers fear possible end of DACA protection

Daca

via @glenngarvin @BrendaMedinar @harrisalexc

Undocumented South Florida immigrants whose parents brought them as children and who’ve been protected from deportation by a federal program known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — are nervously awaiting word on whether President Donald Trump will extend it or do away with it, a decision that will come within the next few days.

“Everyone is scared. Everyone is talking about hiring attorneys, talking about what they could do if they lose DACA,” said Ximena Bouroncle, a 26-year-old FIU psychology major who came to the United States with her parents when she was 14. “The fear is always there, the fear to lose everything I have worked so hard for ever since I came to this country.”

That could happen as soon as next week, when President Trump must decide whether to cancel DACA or face a lawsuit from 10 states that say the program — which was established by an executive decree by former President Barack Obama — is an unconstitutional abuse of presidential power. The group of Republican state attorneys generals have said they will take the matter to federal court unless the program begins shutting down by Sept. 5.

If DACA is canceled, it could mean that somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million beneficiaries of the program — about 50,000 of them in Florida — could be deported, many of them to countries they don’t even remember.

The politics of DACA are complicated and many experts on both sides of the controversy say it could still survive. And even if it doesn’t, they nearly all agree, its end will be phased in over many months, perhaps even a couple of years, so nobody is likely to face deportation next week. 

But if the program is eliminated, most of the “DACAmented,” as the beneficiaries refer to themselves, will face severe obstacles to staying in the United States, immigration attorneys say.

“Every case is different, so I can’t give blanket advice,” said Randy Sidlosca, a Miami attorney who has been handling DACA clients since the program began in 2012. “But, generally speaking, DACA people are going to face some very tough times if the program is ended.”

More here.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

August 29, 2017

Marco Rubio calls for temporary protected status for Venezuelans

Rubio 01 EKM

@alextdaugherty

Marco Rubio has spent months pushing the White House to expand a temporary program that would allow Venezuelans who have fled Nicolás Maduro’s regime to stay in the United States, according to a previously unpublished letter from Rubio to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The letter, dated March 20, asks Tillerson and Kelly to “review the existing conditions in Venezuela and consider granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to eligible Venezuelan nationals residing in the United States.”

“In light of the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, it is not in the best interests of the United States to deport non-violent Venezuelan nationals back to the country at this time,” the letter reads.

President Donald Trump, who continues to talk tough on immigration, hasn’t indicated that he is open to extending the program to another country.

Rubio’s position puts him in line with an increasing number of Venezuelan activists and Florida politicians from both parties who want to expand the temporary program, which currently applies to foreign nationals from 10 countries already in the United States.

Last week, Democrats Bill Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, voiced their support for the program, which would not be a permanent solution for Venezuelans seeking to stay in the United States.

In recent days, José Javier Rodríguez, a Democratic state senator and congressional candidate, along with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, have also called for expanding the TPS program.

“Temporary Protected Status will allow Venzeuelans fleeing violence to live and work here legally and contribute to our state’s diverse communities until it is safe for them to return home,” Graham said in a statement.

Rubio has positioned himself as an important voice on Venezuela under Trump as the State Department deals with a downsized staff. He set up a meeting between Trump and Lilian Tintori, a human-rights activist married to jailed Venezuelan dissident Leopoldo Lopez, and Rubio’s vocal criticism of Maduro and his associates led to the Florida senator getting protection from a security detail.

Rubio and Nelson hinted as far back as 2014 that they would consider the possibility of TPS for Venezuelans, but the issue has drawn increased attention after Maduro held a constituent assembly vote with the power to redraw the nation’s constitution.

Read more here.

August 09, 2017

PolitiFact: A look at Miami study about immigrants and wages

Marielboatlift1

via @miriamvalverde

As part of the "America first" platform, the Donald Trump administration is backing a Senate bill to reduce the number of immigrants allowed to come into the United States legally, arguing that high levels of immigration hurt American workers.

White House policy adviser Stephen Miller at an Aug. 2 press briefing said that research has found a correlation between low-skilled immigration and declining wages for people in the United States.

When challenged by reporters, Miller said Harvard economist George J. Borjas had analyzed the effect of the Mariel boatlift and found that it did "actually did reduce wages for workers who were living there at the time."

The impact low-skilled immigrants have on wages has been widely debated for decades. Some studies have found minimal or no negative impact.

Trump recently backed a bill from two Republican senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, to cut current legal immigration levels by half over 10 years. Cotton has said most of the 1 million who get green cards every year come to the United States to reunify with family members, not because they’re highly skilled workers. The senators claim this population surge negatively impacts the American workforce and that the immigration system needs to be changed to benefit Americans.

In light of the new bill introduced and renewed talks of immigration reform, we decided to examine the research on immigration and wages.

We found that Miller accurately reflected Borjas’ findings, which found a decrease in wages for people in Miami after a mass arrival of Cubans in 1980. But an expert cautioned against making a generalization on the impact of immigration across the United States in 2017 based on the Mariel boatlift in 1980, since immigration levels are not the same.

While academics view Borjas as a renowned expert in the field, they also question his study’s methodology and conclusions. Because of the controversy, we won’t issue a Truth-O-Meter ruling, but we will review the evidence we learned from our reporting.

Keep reading Miriam Valverde's story from PolitiFact.

August 07, 2017

Marco Rubio says Trump-sponsored immigration bill is "not going to pass"

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@alextdaugherty 

Sen. Marco Rubio threw cold water over a plan backed by President Donald Trump that would curtail legal immigration and prioritize highly skilled English-speaking immigrants over immigrants with family ties to the United States during an interview with CBS 4 interview on Sunday. 

"That bill's not going to pass," Rubio said to CBS 4's Rick Folbaum. "I think the White House knows that you don't have 60 votes for that in the Senate."

Rubio expressed support for prioritizing immigrants with skills after the White House backed the plan last week. But he stopped short of explicitly endorsing the bill, authored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, dubbed the Raise Act. 

"It actually has elements of it that were part of the 2013 proposal," Rubio said, referring to his bipartisan immigration overhaul effort which failed after the House decided not to vote on it. "In 2013 the very controversial Gang of Eight, four Democrats and four Republicans, proposed moving legal immigration to a merit-based system." 

Rubio said he supports a point-based system that rewards immigrants for skills like knowing English. 

"It wouldn't be entirely merit-based but it would be more merit-based and it has to be in the 21st century," Rubio said.

Folbaum pressed Rubio over what a merit-based system would mean for immigrants like Rubio's parents, who worked in a variety of low-skilled jobs after they immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s. 

"When my parents came here in 1956 we had a very different economy," Rubio said. "We had an economy that had a plethora of low-wage, low-skilled jobs. That's not the case anymore and our immigration system needs to reflect it. Our laws always are adjusted for the era in which we lived in." 

Though Rubio supports giving more points on merit and less points for family connections, he did differ from Trump, Cotton and Perdue on one part of the proposal: cutting the number of legal immigrants in half.

"I don't want to limit legal immigration, I certainly want to change the way we conduct it," Rubio said. "Where I probably have a big difference of opinion with this bill is that it sets an arbitrary cap on the number of people that are able to come through with a green card. I don't think that should be an arbitrary cap, that number should be driven by demand."

Rubio was also asked about the possibility of running against Trump in 2020 if the president continues to struggle in the polls. 

Not surprisingly, Rubio said he wasn't interested.

"I am enjoying my service in the Senate," Rubio said. "I think that’s a hypothetical that isn’t even worth exploring because it isn't going to happen that way. I expect the performance in the White House will improve significantly now with Gen. (John) Kelly there."

 

 

August 03, 2017

Rubio still considering Trump-sponsored immigration plan introduced in February

Editorialpic (1)

@alextdaugherty 

n 2013, Marco Rubio and three other Republican senators worked with Democrats to draft a bipartisan immigration bill.

Rubio’s 2013 bill, which proposed an expanded visa program for low-skilled workers, failed after the House decided not to vote on it.

On Wednesday, Rubio said he was still considering a different immigration proposal, backed by the White House, that cuts the number of green cards for low-skilled and non-English speaking immigrants. The 15-page plan was first introduced in the Senate in February, and the White House announced its support Wednesday.

Of the four Republican senators who drafted the 2013 bill, Rubio is the only one who hasn’t voiced disagreement.

“I’m glad to see the president is open to a step-by-step approach to improving our immigration laws, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress on common sense proposals to achieve real progress for Americans on this issue,” Rubio said in a statement. “I continue to support reform that prioritizes welcoming people to our country based on their skills, not just on whether they have a family member already living here.”
 
Rubio’s comments were in contrast to his three GOP colleagues who worked on the immigration bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Trump’s proposal “incentivizes more illegal immigration” by limiting the number of visas for low-skilled jobs in tourism and agriculture that would otherwise go unfilled.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said: “We need to make sure we are responsive to the needs of our economy and I’m concerned that drastic cuts to the number of immigrants fails to meet that goal.”

The other GOP senator who worked on the 2013 bill, John McCain of Arizona, is receiving treatment for cancer. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in February, McCain told reporters he was “not interested” in the bill.

Rubio, whose parents came to the United States from Cuba and worked in low-skill jobs for a period of time, declined to comment on the immigration policy beyond his statement.

His office said Rubio has always prioritized English-speaking immigrants, citing his work on the 2013 bill that would require green card holders to achieve English proficiency.

“On the day we announced the principles that would shape the immigration bill, we made it clear that English proficiency would now be required for permanent residency for the first time in American history,” Rubio said in 2013.

Rubio did not play a role in drafting the new proposal, his office said.

The White House said the plan, dubbed the Raise Act, will prioritize immigrants who speak English, have special skills and can support themselves financially. The Raise Act will prioritize high-wage immigrants because the White House argues that low-skilled legal immigrants currently drive down wages for all Americans.

Two of Rubio’s South Florida colleagues, Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, said they do not support the new legal immigration proposal.

“I’m against the RAISE Act because it dramatically cuts the number of folks who can enter our great nation by legal means,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “There are many individuals living in other lands who dream of becoming patriotic, law-abiding Americans but will be prevented from realizing that dream because they do not yet speak English or they lack special skills.”

Read more here.