August 31, 2017

Trump to end DACA program as early as Friday

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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

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@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.

July 25, 2017

Was Adam Putnam, candidate for Florida governor, in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants?

PutnamannouncesPolkCoTBT

@amysherman1

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has largely had the Republican field for governor to himself, but the camp of one potential primary challenger has portrayed Putnam as soft on immigration and undocumented immigrants.

Tony Fabrizio, a pollster hired by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran who may challenge Putnam in the 2018 primary, cast Putnam as not being conservative enough.

"He was for amnesty," Fabrizio told Politico July 10, while criticizing Putnam’s positions on a long list of issues.

That a-word can be a powerful weapon in a Republican primary. But we found that Putnam’s record on immigration can’t be boiled down to a soundbite.

As a member of Congress from 2001 to 2010, Putnam represented a Central Florida district that included agribusiness interests that wanted immigrant labor. Putnam supported legislation that would have benefitted undocumented farm workers, and he supported changing immigration laws which included a path to citizenship.

But he also took some stances that didn’t benefit undocumented immigrants, such as opposing the DREAM Act and increasing enforcement.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

June 29, 2017

Miami Republicans vote against bill to expand penalties on sanctuary cities

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@alextdaugherty 

Donald Trump campaigned as a tough-on-immigration Republican who would roll back Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants.

But he can’t count on Miami’s Republican delegation in the House to back him on every facet of his immigration agenda.

The three Republicans, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against a bill on Thursday that would deny federal law-enforcement funds to cities that choose not to comply with the federal government’s effort to enforce tougher immigration laws.

“I think this one is frankly too broad,” Diaz-Balart said.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 228-195. The Miami trio were among just seven Republicans who voted against the bill, which passed largely on party lines.

But the three Republicans did vote for another bill on Thursday trumpeted by Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would expand criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes. The bill, dubbed Kate’s Law, is named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman murdered by an illegal immigrant who was in the U.S. despite multiple deportations.

“I think most people would agree, you’re here in this country illegally, you’re doing terrible things, you’re just a bad apple. Let’s get rid of you,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We have so many good people who want to come. That’s totally different than the sanctuary cities issue where so many of those folks are good people. That makes no distinction between whether they are good people or criminals. But in Kate’s Law we’re talking about criminals who have done horrible things. I don’t care if they’re American or from Central America. You’re bad, you’ve got to be in jail and you should be deported.”

Read more here. 

June 27, 2017

Fact-checking a falsehood about noncitizens voting

CoralGablesMarch2016MHvoting

@amysherman1

President Donald Trump’s unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt talked about it on the morning show recently.

“5.7 million — that’s how many illegal immigrants might have voted” in 2008, she said. Her comments referenced an article in the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper.

Trump has made repeated claims about massive voter fraud and election rigging, which we’ve debunked again and again and again and again and again and again and again (and we’ve debunked a claim by his spokesman Sean Spicer).

The claim made on “Fox and Friends” is based on an extrapolation of a controversial study that relied on a very small number of responses. Researchers involved in the underlying survey of voters have cautioned against using their data to reach conclusions about noncitizen voters.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Miami Herald photo of voters at the Coral Gables library in March 2016.

May 23, 2017

Trump plan to boost border patrol is in trouble

Border Patrol Recruitment
via @glenngarvin

When a U.S. Senate committee voted recently for a bill that would end lie-detector tests for some job applicants at the U.S. Border Patrol, it was a stark recognition that one of the major components of President Donald Trump’s plan to stop illegal immigration — a hiring surge of 5,000 new agents in the Border Patrol — is in serious trouble.

Snarled by a combination of bureaucratic torpor and the economic reality that not many qualified applicants find the job attractive, not only has the Border Patrol failed to make any of the new hires, it hasn’t even been able to fill the 1,700 positions it had open at the time of Trump’s January order to expand.

“Five thousand new agents, we all knew that was pie in the sky,” said Zack Taylor, head of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. “They’ll be lucky if they can find 500.”

And an unusual coalition of immigration hawks and doves predicts that attempts at a speedy mass hiring will touch off a tidal wave of misconduct, corruption and even narcotrafficker spying within the Border Patrol as applicants with dubious skills and sinister intention take advantage of softer requirements.

“Given all the problems the Border Patrol has had finding new agents, we’ve been sort of unclear on how the Trump administration thought it was going to be able not to just quickly get the organization up to strength, but to hire 5,000 more,” said Joshua Breisblatt, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, an immigrant-rights group.

“The answer is that they’re going to have to find ways to make it easier to hire agents, and that could easily end in disaster.”

More here.

Photo credit: Astrid Galvan, Associated Press