February 04, 2016

Jeb Bush says Miami isn't the same kind of 'sanctuary city' as San Francisco


TILTON, N.H. -- Miami's two Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both get applause when they campaign against federal funding for so-called "sanctuary cities," where local law-enforcement agencies limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

But advocates consider their home county of Miami-Dade to be such a sanctuary. And legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday that would ban the practice would, by the House staff's own analysis, affect Miami-Dade.

Asked about the state legislation while campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday, Bush, a former Florida governor, cautioned against painting all cities and counties with too wide a brush.

"Miami-Dade County's version of a sanctuary city may be different than the one that exists in San Francisco, where they released convicted felons into the community rather than apply federal law," Bush said. "I don't think Miami-Dade was doing that. So you've got to be careful about the conversation."

He reiterated, however, that it shouldn't be OK for a local police department to defy immigration law. (The way Miami-Dade's policy works is that the police department cooperates with the feds on some immigration cases, but does not detain people flagged as being in the country illegally indefinitely.)

"I don't think there should be a violation of federal law by local communities knowingly doing it," Bush said. "There should be some restrictions. The idea of restricting federal law-enforcement dollars for communities that violate federal law and endanger their communities is appropriate.

"I don't think Miami-Dade County does that, though."

January 15, 2016

Marco Rubio names 'desperate' Jeb Bush in 1 of 2 new TV ads on immigration


How damaging could his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform be for Marco Rubio?

The Florida senator released not one but two TV ads Friday defending his position -- and pushing back on Jeb Bush, whose allied super PAC has portrayed Rubio as an immigration flip-flopper.

"We all see what's happening: Jeb Bush is desperate and spending millions on false attacks," Rubio says in one of the ads. "Don't fall for it. When I'm president there will be no amnesty."

Both Rubio and his allied super PAC have appeared eager to counter the Bush camp's jabs, even though Bush is trailing Rubio in polls. Bush said in Thursday's debate that his rivals should be less concerned with what "wild and woolly" attack ads say.

"Everybody's record's going to be scrutinized, and at the end of the day, we need to be united behind the winner so we can defeat Hillary Clinton, because she is a disaster," he said.

Ted Cruz took Rubio to task on immigration Thursday, a few days after Rubio began talking on the campaign trail about how immigration is now a bigger national-security issue.

Rubio's campaign says both ads will air in Iowa.



The fiery Marco Rubio-Ted Cruz exchange buried at the end of Thursday's debate


One of Marco Rubio's strongest moments -- in terms of rhetoric, anyway -- in Thursday night's Republican presidential debate came in overtime.

Around 11 p.m., the usual end time for debates, Rubio got asked about immigration, one of his weak spots among GOP primary voters. He gave what has become his latest argument on the issue, that legal immigration must be reviewed in light of the ISIS terrorist group's latest attacks.

"The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago," contended Rubio, one of the sponsors of 2013 immigration-reform legislation in the U.S. Senate. "Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally."

Rubio rival Ted Cruz spied an opening and took it.

"Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida," he said. "We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah. We had Iran putting operatives in South America and Central America."

Cruz had put Rubio on the defensive on an issue Rubio has struggled with for years -- and will apparently continue to wrangle with. But Rubio nevertheless came right back at him.

Continue reading "The fiery Marco Rubio-Ted Cruz exchange buried at the end of Thursday's debate" »

January 13, 2016

Pro-Ted Cruz super PAC knocks Marco Rubio on immigration


A new web video by a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz's presidential bid uses Marco Rubio's own words -- and those of fellow senators who worked with him on immigration reform -- to criticize Rubio's support of a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

The super PAC behind the video, Keep the Promise I, is different from the super PAC that in November accused Rubio of backing "amnesty" in another web video.


January 12, 2016

In GOP State of the Union responses, different messages in English and Spanish on immigration


The Republican Party's immigration split was reflected Tuesday in the two responses hand-picked party members gave -- one in English, one in Spanish -- to President Obama's final State of the Union address. The Spanish version, offered by a Cuban-American congressman from Miami, was decidedly softer.

Here's what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in English:

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.

Here's what Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in Spanish (translation is ours):

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It's not who we are.

At the same time, it's obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.

It's essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.

I have no doubt that if we work together, we can achieve this and continue to be faithful to the noblest legacies of the United States.

There were other differences in the speeches as well. Haley and Diaz-Balart each briefly mentioned their personal backgrounds, which are obviously not the same. Haley spoke about the Charleston shooting and removal of the Confederate flag (which she referred to only as a "symbol that was being used to divide us") while Diaz-Balart spoke more generally about "tragedies" in South Carolina and California. Diaz-Balart didn't make veiled references to presidential front-runner Donald Trump, while Haley warned against the "noise" in politics.

And Diaz-Balart mentioned Cuba and Venezuela:

Unfortunately, there are still countries where basic liberties are not respected and were governments don't represent their people. Mullahs in Iran, devoted to radical Islam and with nuclear ambitions, prohibit dissidence and jail independent journalists as 'spies.' In North Korea, the people remain isolated from the rest of the world without Internet access or mass media. And here, in our own hemisphere, the Cuban people have not had a free election in more than 57 years, and political detentions and oppression keep increasing. And the Venezuelan people suffers the existence of political prisoners and corruption in the most important democratic institutions.

Miami activists stage protest to kick off Florida legislative session



A group of progressive Miami activists marked the start of Florida's annual lawmaking session Monday by protesting outside the district office of a Republican state representative.

More than a dozen activists brought together by the SEIU Florida labor union convened reporters to blast the GOP on a variety of issues, including for trying to crack down on illegal immigration and not raising the minimum wage. They stood in the rain outside the Doral office of Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who is sponsoring legislation that would make it a first-degree felony for someone with a deportation order to continue living in Florida.

"They may think that we don't vote, that we don't have a voice," said Maria Bilbao, who has been in the country illegally for 15 years. But she pledged to knock on voters' doors to oppose politicians like Trujillo and pointed to her son, a legal resident eager to apply for citizenship and, eventually, vote. "He will remember how they treated his parents all these years."

Laura Pierre, a fast-food worker, backed a $15-an-hour minimum wage: "We work hard, and we deserve to be able to raise our families out of these terrible circumstances," she said.

The activists have organized buses of supporters to ride to Tallahassee during the session make their case.

January 11, 2016

Jeb Bush allies hit Marco Rubio on immigration


Marco Rubio is cast as an immigration flip-flopper in the latest TV ad by Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Jeb Bush for president.

The 30-second spot, titled "Vane," features a figure of Rubio, smiling and wearing a suit and tie, as an animated weather vane atop a barn, pointing his arm sometimes "East" and sometimes "West."

"He ran for saying he opposed amnesty, then he flipped, and worked with liberal Chuck Schumer to co-author the path to citizenship bill," a narrator says. "He threatened to vote against it, and then voted for it. He supported his own Dream Act, and then he abandoned it. Marco Rubio, just another Washington poltiician you can't trust."

Fall leaves swirl in front of a bucolic, rural setting (Iowa!), and then a train roars by: "Jeb Bush: He's a leader, so you always know where he stands." It makes no mention of where Bush actually stands: He supports the eventual legalization for immigrants in the country illegally, and at one point also backed citizenship (but doesn't now).

Rubio made a point to talk about his immigration stance in a Miami rally Sunday.

The ad will air beginning Monday night in Iowa, South Carolina and on Fox News nationally, according to Right to Rise.


Obama's broken promise on path to citizenship

President Barack Obama's promise to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants has faced a major roadblock due to resistance in Congress.

He took steps on his own to give temporary status to certain illegal immigrants, but he has not gone as far as providing a path to citizenship.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to support support "a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens."

In 2012, Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gives temporary status for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. Almost 700,000 have been approved for DACA and about 443,000 have renewed their two-year deferral. But this program does not provide permanent lawful status to applicants.

Keep reading about Obama's promise from PolitiFact's Obameter.

Marco Rubio on his immigration stance: 'None of this is anti-immigrant'


Maybe it was because Marco Rubio was back home in diverse Miami. Maybe it was because pro-immigrant activists had interrupted him half a dozen times a day earlier in South Carolina. Maybe it was because the stark divide among Republican primary voters over immigration hasn't gone away.

Whatever the reason, Rubio lingered on immigration policy -- the issue that threw him into the GOP political spotlight as a U.S. Senator from Florida -- at some length at a campaign rally Sunday night.

He tried to take a position appealing to the GOP electoral base, justifying his sharper immigration rhetoric as an urgent matter of national security. But he was also appeared keen to sound like a potential general-election candidate who is not "anti-immigrant," he said -- in part because he feels like one of them.

Here's a transcript of the relevant portion of his remarks:

I tell people, there's no one running for president that understands this issue better than me. My father was an immigrant. My mother was an immigrant. My grandparents are immigrants. More than half the people in this room are either immigrants or in their first generation. All of my neighbors are immigrants. I was raised around it. My wife's entire family are immigrants. I know this issue: I know the good, the bad, the ugly. I know the story of people who are here illegally and it would break your heart. And I know the people that are here legally, and their story would boil your blood, because they take advantage of us. We see that happening now. This has to be dealt with. 

Continue reading "Marco Rubio on his immigration stance: 'None of this is anti-immigrant'" »

January 07, 2016

Obama's mixed record on cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants

Years before efforts to overhaul immigration laws stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama made promises of his own to address illegal immigration.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to "remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

We rated Obama's promise a Compromise in July 2009 after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said companies seeking government contracts would have to use a government database called E-Verify to ensure that their employees are legal. At the same time, she announced that the administration was getting rid of a Bush administration effort to force all types of companies to fire undocumented workers.

Now that Obama is nearing the end of his term, we're taking another look at the progress of Obama's promise. We found that Obama's progress on this promise has been mixed at best.

See how PolitiFact rated Obama's progress on our Obameter.