July 23, 2015

Miami Republican votes with 4 others in GOP against crackdown on 'sanctuary' cities


Only five Republicans in the U.S. House voted Thursday against a law cracking down on so-called "sanctuary" cities that restrict cooperation with federal authorities over immigration enforcement.

One of them, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, is from Miami-Dade County, which is not a self-styled "sanctuary" but does limit local police assistance to the feds. The law passed by the House was drafted in reaction to the murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by a man who had been deported five times to Mexico.

"Sanctuary cities are one of the many symptoms of our deeply flawed immigration system," Curbelo said in a statement. "However, had this bill been the law of the land prior to the death of Ms. Steinle, it would not have prevented this heinous crime. Sanctuary cities are dangerous because they inadvertently promote lawlessness, but H.R. 3009 will not stop this unfortunate practice.

"This bill does nothing to secure our border, reform our visa system, or account for unauthorized immigrants living in our country, and is unlikely to ever become law. Instead it wrongly punishes law enforcement officials in many states. It's time to stop playing politics with immigration and advance serious solutions that will prevent future victims, finally giving America an immigration system worthy of the world's greatest nation."

Another Miami Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, told Politico after the vote that he favored the bill because he believes in "zero tolerance to serious criminals."

President Obama has said he would veto the bill, which would strip "sanctuary" cities from federal funds.

Hoping for a green card, unaccompanied immigrant children cite child abuse

via @Marbinius

Fredy claimed his parents were unfit to raise him. Violent, organized youth gangs were terrorizing the boy’s neighborhood, he said, and his parents “ignored his pleas for help and protection.”

Fredy sought shelter and security in a Miami courtroom, where he asked a judge to declare him a ward of the state.

His parents consented — from their home in a Honduran village.

A label mostly scorned and feared by mothers and fathers in the United States, the designation “offending parent,” is being embraced and sought by parents thousands of miles away.

Fredy is among a rapidly growing number of children who entered the country without their parents — and without immigration documents — who have used a little-known provision of the state’s child welfare statute that allows them to file private petitions to be placed in state care. Once declared a “dependent” of the state, the children qualify to remain in the U.S. permanently.

Critics of the program, as well as a growing chorus of state judges, call it a “back door” to citizenship when the front door is bolted.

In an opinion Wednesday, a West Palm Beach appeals court said “judicial resources too often are being misused to obtain dependency orders for minors who are neither abused, neglected or abandoned, and who seek a dependency adjudication... not because they are endangered and need protection but because they want preferential immigration treatment.”

More here.

July 13, 2015

Miami-Dade County, home to Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, is no 'sanctuary' but does defy immigration authorities


The murder of a young woman taking a stroll on a San Francisco pier two weeks ago might have been received by a jaded public as just another big-city homicide, had the man who says he shot her to death not been previously deported five times to Mexico — and had the case not been adopted as a cause célèbre by insurgent Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump seized on the fatal and apparently random shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who confessed to pulling the trigger in a jailhouse interview aired on local television, as proof that the candidate’s controversial characterization last month of Mexican border-crossers as criminals and rapists was true, even if studies that go beyond tragic incidents have shown that notion to be false.

“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately,” Trump said in a statement after Steinle’s death. “This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President.”

As the real-estate mogul has taken off in the polls, Trump’s comments have forced other Republicans, who are still grappling with how best to handle his entry into the race, to weigh in on the San Francisco case. Their position: to oppose local governments that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, a practice that means different things in different places but is derided by critics as the creation of “sanctuary” cities.

That includes the two candidates from Miami, whose own home county doesn’t fully cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement.

More here.

July 09, 2015

Another Pants on Fire for Donald Trump -- this time for a claim about the Mexican government and immigrants

In a July 8 interview with NBC, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump didn’t ease up his rhetoric about Mexican immigration -- at all.

"The Mexican government forces many bad people into our country because they're smart," he told interviewer Katy Tur. "They're smarter than our leaders, and their negotiators are far better than what we have, to a degree that you wouldn’t believe. They're forcing people into our country. … And they are drug dealers and they are criminals of all kinds. We are taking Mexico’s problems."

In the interview, Trump left no doubt that he believes the Mexican government is taking an active role in pushing migrants into the United States: He used the word "forcing" four times to describe what the government was doing.

But is it really the government forcing Mexicans across the border, rather than individual decisions to leave, either to seek employment or to join family members in the United States?

Turn to Louis Jacobson's fact-check from PolitiFact.

Carlos Curbelo PAC says it's raised $75K for pro-immigration House Republicans


A political action committee created by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has collected more than $75,000 since January to back GOP members of the U.S. House who support immigration reform, Curbelo said Thursday.

The so-called leadership PAC, a type of organization that can fund a candidate's non-campaign expenses and contribute to other candidates, is named What a Country!, or "WACPAC."

"I am working hard every day in Congress to make immigration reform a reality, and WACPAC is an important part of these efforts," Curbelo said in a statement.

"There is growing momentum among House Republicans for overhauling and modernizing our country's immigration laws, and WACPAC will continue backing candidates who have the courage to lead on this important issue. Now is the time to secure our borders, reform our visa system, and find a fair solution for the many undocumented residents who are contributing to our economy."

Curbelo said the PAC has already contributed to the campaigns of 30 sitting House Republicans, though he didn't immediately name them or say how much each had received. 

Many are likely to have opposed an amendment to a national defense bill in May that erased language that would have pushed for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Twenty House Republicans voted against the amendment, including Curbelo and fellow Miami Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

While the three local Cuban Americans face no backlash for their pro-immigration stance in a majority Hispanic community, many of their GOP colleagues do not have similar support from their constituents.

July 08, 2015

Does Jeb Bush no longer support a path to citizenship as Hillary Clinton says?

In a rare national interview with CNN, Hillary Clinton took aim at Donald Trump’s comments bashing illegal Mexican immigrants and former Gov. Jeb Bush’s stance on pathway to citizenship.

"I feel very bad and very disappointed with (Trump) and with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying, 'Enough. Stop it,' " Clinton said July 7. "But they are all in the same general area on immigration: They don't want to provide a path to citizenship. They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants."

CNN’s Brianna Keilar then asked: "But what about Jeb Bush's approach to that?"

Clinton replied: "He doesn't believe in a path to citizenship. If he did at one time, he no longer does. As I said, they're on a spectrum of hostility, which I think is really regrettable in a nation of immigrants like ours."

Does Bush no longer believe in a path to citizenship?

See what PolitiFact found.

Should immigrants in the country illegally be eligible for citizenship? 'My belief is no,' Jeb Bush says


Jeb Bush gave perhaps his clearest answer Wednesday on whether immigrants in the country illegally should be offered a path to U.S. citizenship -- a question that has gotten him tangled up over the years.

"My belief is no," he told the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper.

In an interview live-streamed online by the paper, the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful stuck to the position he laid out in his 2013 book, Immigration Wars, which advocated "earned legal status" for the undocumented.

"What do we do with the 11 million people here? I think the answer is earned legal status" over a period of perhaps eight to 10 years, Bush told the editorial board. "That deal is, I think, the right balance to deal with this. People came here illegally -- there should be a consequence."

On occasions before and after the book's publication, Bush had endorsed making immigrants in the country illegal eligible for citizenship, including a 2013 Senate bill that would have done so. He has backed offering citizenship to so-called "Dreamers," immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. Bush reiterated Wednesday that those young people should be treated differently, but not by executive order as President Obama has done.

Democrat Hillary Clinton criticized Republican presidential candidates in general, and Bush in particular, in a CNN interview Tuesday for not campaigning on citizenship, a position advocates often consider a sort of litmus test on a candidate's immigration policy. Bush's campaign fought back by calling Clinton a flip-flopper who didn't help pass immigration reform while in the Senate.

Two other Republicans in the field, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have supported a citizenship pathway, despite Clinton's saying the contrary. (In Iowa, Rubio referred to Clinton's comments as "silly talk.") Many conservative primary voters oppose anything they perceive as immigration "amnesty."

Bush told the Union Leader he intends to work hard for the Hispanic vote, citing his wins in the Florida governor's races in 1998 and 2002.

"I think I got 60 percent of the Latino vote," he said. "I got a majority of the Democratic Hispanic vote. How did I do that? I campaigned like this," he said, widening his arms. "I didn't campaign like this," he said, showing an angry face and pointing a finger downward.

"I campaigned sensitive to the aspirations of people. I didn't assume people wanted to get in line and get a government handout. People don't want that."

This post has been updated.

July 07, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Jeb Bush 'doesn't believe in a path to citizenship'


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declared herself "very disappointed" at Donald Trump -- a past supporter of her U.S. Senate campaign -- over his now-infamous remarks in which he claimed Mexican immigrants who cross the U.S. border are often criminals and rapists.

"I feel very bad and very disappointed with him and with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying, 'Enough. Stop it,'" Clinton told CNN in an interview Tuesday. "But they are all in the same general area on immigration: They don't want to provide a path to citizenship. They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants."

Pressed about Republican Jeb Bush, who has called parents bringing children illegally into the U.S. an "act of love," Clinton maintained that the former Florida governor doesn't want to give people already in the country full-fledged legal status.

"He doesn't believe in a path to citizenship -- if he did at one time, he no longer does," she said. "As I said, they're on a spectrum of hostility which I think is really regrettable in a nation of immigrants like ours."

Bush has favored citizenship in the past. But in his book Immigration Wars, and recently on the campaign trail, he has instead backed legal status without citizenship, suggesting that might be a more achievable goal given contentious immigration politics.

Bush's camp countered by pointing to "flip-flops" by Clinton on immigration.

"Hillary Clinton has once again changed her position on an issue for politically expedient purposes. After voting for the poison pill amendment that stopped immigration reform in its tracks as a Senator and saying she believed the unaccompanied minors 'should be sent back' to their home countries last year, she is now running further to the left on immigration policy than even President Obama's White House believes is legally feasible," Bush spokeswoman Emily Benavides said in a statement. "Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected and her numerous flip-flops on immigration prove it."

As for Bush's position, Benavides pointed to Bush's book, saying he "believes in a conservative legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system that includes earned legal status for those currently in the country after they pay fines and taxes, learn English, and commit no substantial crimes while securing our border."

Though Clinton didn't mention him, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the GOP contenders who says he's open to granting citizenship to many of the people in the country illegally. Bush, Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who shares a similar view, have all been criticized by some conservatives over their immigration support.

This post has been updated with Benavides' statement.

July 02, 2015

Miami-Dade GOP legislators make a push for presidential candidates to campaign in favor of immigration reform

While presidential candidates who oppose immigration reform may gain support from a slice of GOP voters in early voting states, that stance will cost the GOP in battleground states in the general election, according to a new poll.

A group of Miami-Dade Republican officials hosted a teleconference with reporters Thursday to discuss the results of a poll of likely voters about their stances on immigration and make the case that presidential candidates should campaign in favor of immigration reform.

The poll was conducted in the early primary and caucus states with 400 GOP voters a piece in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. A similar poll was conducted of 800 voters in 10 battleground states including Florida which represented 23 percent of the respondents. The polls took place in April and May.

The poll was done by Burning Glass Consulting and The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group that brings together mayors and business leaders to make an economic case for changing immigration laws.

Rudy Fernandez, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush in the White House, speaking on behalf of the Partnership, said that the poll shows while an anti-immigration candidate may “gain a little bit and win favor with extremists” in early states, “you lost a lot in the general election.”

Continue reading "Miami-Dade GOP legislators make a push for presidential candidates to campaign in favor of immigration reform" »

June 18, 2015

Immigration activists interrupt Marco Rubio speech

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Immigration activists interrupted Marco Rubio’s speech today before Christian conservatives and his reaction contrasted with how Jeb Bush handled a similar outburst at his announcement speech Monday in Miami.

Rubio paused his speech as the activists talked about deferred action, the Obama program that has protected some young immigrants from deportation. He then made a reference to how in Cuba such free speech would not be allowed, though staff at the Faith & Freedom Coalition ushered the activists out (as the crowd booed the demonstrators). A man blocked reporters from leaving the room, then relented but said reporters wouldn’t be able to get back in.

"If you did that in another country, you would be in jail tonight," Rubio said. "In America, people have a right to interrupt speeches, they have a right to be rude, they have a right to be wrong. We live in a free society." But he did not address immigration.

Bush’s speech Monday was stopped by a string of youth in green T-shirts that spelled out “legal status is not enough.” Bush, who oddly did not plan to address immigration in his speech, went off script.

"Just so our friends know, the next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that will be solved. Not by executive order,” he said to explosive cheers from the audience, filled with Hispanics. "USA, USA, USA!" the crowd chanted.

Yesterday, Bush told ABC News that he does support a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country as children by their parents. While he once called for citizenship for the larger population he now advocates earned legal status.

The scenes Monday and today show how immigration will continue to be an issue for Bush and Rubio, both whom have taken heat from conservatives but both whom see Hispanic support as key to their chances at the White House.

Rubio opposes Obama's deferred action but has advocated for reforms and supports a path to citizenship.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times