CONDOLEEZZA RICE: IF WE STOP ATTRACTING IMMIGRANTS WE LOSE ONE OF THE STRONGEST ELEMENTS OF NOT JUST OUR NATIONAL WEALTH BUT OUR NATIONAL SOUL

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                                                                        photo source: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, spoke to a full house in Page Auditorium Tuesday. Melissa Yeo
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke on a variety of topics in front of a crowd at Duke University Tuesday night, offering a particular criticism of the nation’s stance on immigration.

photo source: AP

“That immigrant culture that has renewed us … has been at the core of our strength,” she said, according to the The Raleigh News & Observer. “I don’t know when immigrants became the enemy.”
Rice has long lamented the Bush administration’s failure to address comprehensive immigration reform during two terms in office, a disappointment that she reportedly reiterated on Tuesday. In 2009, she called the lack of action one of her “biggest regrets.”
In this file photo, then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shake hands with Polish President Lech Kaczynski next to Polish Prime Minister Donal Tusk after signing a deal on basing an American missile shield in Poland, August 20, 2008 in Warsaw.
America has always been able to attract the most ambitious people who are determined to have a better life,” Rice said during an appearance at Stanford University, where she currently teaches. “If we ever lose that and start to believe that somehow that it is instead a threat to us to have those people come here, we are going to lose one of the strongest elements of not just our national wealth, but of our national soul.”
She has also spoken out on the need to get undocumented immigrants out of the “shadows,” and last year issued a warning about Alabama’s controversial immigration enforcement law.
“I think we need to be really careful about what kind of laws we pass and that, in the effort to get a handle on this problem, we don’t end up making the problem worse,” she told Alabama’s Press-Register, after claiming that inaction at the federal level was catalyzing such measures. “The fact is that, generally speaking, this patchwork approach is not serving us well and we need to find a better solution. State laws are just not going to do it.”
Rice has also recently been included on GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney‘s vice presidential short list, according to some reports, though she has denied that she’d accept the position.
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WILL OBAMA REFORM IMMIGRATION: A LOOK INTO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN’S STANCE ON REFORM AND DREAM ACT

Vice President Biden Attends Florida Democratic Event With Kendrick Meek

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Vice President Joe Biden wants comprehensive reform and the DREAM Act.

As vice president, Joe Biden often has taken the lead in arguing the Obama administration’s positions on immigration issues.

This is particularly true when it comes to the DREAM Act, comprehensive reform and criticism of states that have written their own immigration laws such as Arizona and Alabama.

In January 2012, Biden spoke to a group of college students in Reno, Nev., and told them that the administration is committed to pushing passage of DREAM Act legislation that will allow the children of undocumented immigrants to pay reduced, in-state tuition rates.

“The president and I are absolutely, positively, foursquare, for the DREAM Act,” Biden said. “It makes no sense not to educate everyone in this country who is here with a college degree.”

Biden’s wife, Jill, the United States’ “second lady,” is a longtime educator who has taught at several colleges, most recently at Northern Virginia Community College. The Bidens have been outspoken in their belief that a college education should be within reach of all U.S. residents.

Photo: Frank Polich/Getty Images

Biden often has made the argument that it makes no sense to deny children of undocumented immigrants an education because of the violations of their parents. He also has made the economic argument that, with an education, these youths could become productive members of U.S. society who pay taxes and contribute to the economy.

Echoing the sentiments of President Obama, Biden believes passing the DREAM Act should be part of comprehensive reform that makes broad changes to U.S. immigration policy.

“Our immigration system is broken,” he has said often. “This is a federal responsibility we have not lived up to.”

While acknowledging that Congress and the federal government have failed at reforming the system, Biden does not believe states have the right to go forward and write their own immigration laws. The vice president has been a vocal critic of the hardline immigration laws passed by Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and a half-dozen other states.

In a May 2010 speech in Phoenix, Ariz., Biden criticized Arizona’s State Bill 1070 as divisive, ill-advised and an unconstitutional over-reach by the state legislature.

He said the law will “only increase fear, suspicion and intolerance.” He warned that it is sure to promote profiling and lead to the arrests of people “just because of the way they look.”

The Obama administration has challenged the Arizona law and Alabama’s in the courts. Among the most controversial provisions of the laws are those giving local police broad powers to stop and arrest people merely on the suspicion they are in the country illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Arizona’s law by the summer of 2012.

Biden says the federal government has to do a better job securing the border with Mexico. But he says it’s unrealistic to think that a 2,000-mile border can be totally secured with fencing and technology.

He believes border security also has to be part of comprehensive reform that includes a guest worker program to allow migrants to come into the United States legally, work and then return home.

“There doesn’t need to be a 700-mile fence,” Biden said during a 2007 Democratic presidential debate when he was a candidate for the highest office. “Fourteen million illegals? Now you tell me how many buses, car loads, planes that are going to go out, round up all these people, spend hundreds of millions of billions of dollar.”

Instead of unrealistic mass deportations, Biden says reform should include a path to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants living in the country. The administration supports a plan that would allow these immigrants to remain here legally if they clear background checks, pay back taxes and learn English.

Immigration is part of Biden’s ancestry. His maternal grandparents were born in western Ireland and migrated to the United States in the mid-19th century.

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DID MISSISSIPPI VOTE FOR A CRACKDOWN ON UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS?

Mississippi Statehouse

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Joining a nationwide trend, Mississippi House members voted for a bill Thursday that seeks to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

The bill, which passed with a 70-47 vote, calls for police to check the immigration status of people they arrest.

Leaders stripped more controversial provisions before the vote on House Bill 488. Next, the Republican-controlled state Senate is expected to pass it, and the governor has expressed support for the measure.

After initially failing, opponents of the bill were able on a second attempt to strip a provision requiring schools to count undocumented immigrants, saying it would violate federal law.

House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Braxton Republican, denied opponents’ claims that the measure was racist or immoral, saying it was about enforcing the law. Gipson said he tried to craft a bill that would survive court challenges and allow charity toward migrants.

“It’s about the rule of law,” he told House members. “We want to say you’re welcome here, we just want you to follow the proper procedures, the proper protocols.”

Opponents warned families would be shattered by deportations and that the bill would reinforce outsiders’ stereotypes of Mississippi.

“If we pass this bill, it will set Mississippi back 60 years,” said Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport. “Let us show America we are not the narrow-minded people they say we are.”

No Republicans opposed the bill, while 10 mostly white and rural Democrats voted for it. They crossed party lines despite an appeal from House Agriculture Chairman Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona, a rural white Democrat who warned the bill would hurt farmers.

A provision that allowed law enforcement officers to ask about a person’s immigration status in a traffic stop was removed. That means someone would have to be arrested for another offense before inquiries could be made.

“If they’re stopped, that in itself will not trigger this bill,” Gipson said. “It would require an arrest to be made. If they are found to be unlawful, then they would be deported.”

Among earlier changes was the removal of a clause that said people could be arrested for not carrying identification, a clause that had led opponents to nickname the measure the “papers, please” bill. That portion, like several others removed in committee last month, have been blocked by courts in Arizona, Alabama and elsewhere.

During the debate that ran from late Wednesday into Thursday, Gipson also removed a provision that could have allowed municipal utilities to refuse power, water, sewer and other services to undocumented immigrants. Such a provision was also recently blocked by a federal court in Alabama.

Gipson said he was balancing the need to write a law that will survive court scrutiny versus the desire to remove undocumented immigrants.

“I have tried to bring the best possible product to the body for a vote,” he said.

The changes did little to mollify critics, who continued to question whether the bill was needed. Opponents emphasize that Mississippi doesn’t need to summon any ghosts of its racist past.

Opponents in the House debate zeroed in on the possibility that parents could be arrested, leaving behind children who are U.S. citizens. Those who have fought the Alabama and Arizona measures have highlighted such problems.

“Your bill has nothing in it to show any kind of compassion or any kind of consideration for the children who are left behind,” said Rep. Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs.

Gipson admitted that “some separations” were a possibility.

Mississippi has a relatively small undocumented population, although it appears to have grown in recent years. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that in 2010, the state had about 45,000 undocumented immigrants out of nearly 3 million total residents.

The bill is supported by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican who has been campaigning against illegal immigration since his days as state auditor.

Proponents say the state spends more money providing services to immigrants than it reaps in taxes, and claim that undocumented immigrants, if they leave, will vacate jobs that unemployed citizens can take. They say the bill is about legal compliance and that they welcome legal immigrants.

Gipson denied any racist intent, saying he had helped start a Hispanic ministry at a church nearly 20 years ago.

“I have been accused of being a racist,” he said. “I reject that.”

Gipson earlier added an amendment that allows any church or religious organization to minister to “immediate basic and human needs.”

He told a questioner Wednesday that a soup kitchen could feed an undocumented immigrant every day and not run afoul of the proposed bill. But Gipson said that, “if the question is `Can they harbor these people?’ the answer is `No.”‘

The bill now goes to the Senate, which has not advanced its own immigration bill.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

Photo: jimmywayne @ Flickr

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CAN SANTORUM WIN THE GOP NOMINATION

(Foto AP/Jae C. Hong)

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(Foto AP/Jae C. Hong)

Santorum Wins Kansas, Romney Shows Strong in Wyoming

With primaries in the southern states only a week away, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum handily won the Kansas caucuses, while GOP frontrunner Mitt Romneyhad a strong showing in Wyoming.

“Things have an amazing way of working out,” Santorum told supporters in Missouri, where he traced his campaign through a series of highs and lows. He called his showing in Kansas a “comfortable win” that would give him the vast majority of the 40 delegates at stake.

A Fox News Latino poll of likely Latino voters, released earlier this week and conducted by Latin Insights, stills showed both candidates struggling far behind U.S. President Barack Obama.

In head-to-head match-ups none of the GOP candidates would garner more than 14 percent of the Latino vote come November, the poll said.

Returns from 89 percent of the state’s precincts showed Santorum with 51 percent support, far outpacing Romney, who had 21 percent. Newt Gingrich had 14 percent and Ron Paul trailed with 13 percent.

Santorum picked up at least 32 of the state’s 40 delegates at stake, cutting slightly into Romney’s overwhelming’s advantage.

Santorum’s triumph, coupled with Romney’s early advantage in Wyoming, came as the candidates pointed toward Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi that loom as unexpectedly important in the race to pick an opponent to President Barack Obama in the fall. Polls show a close race in both states, particularly Alabama, and Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all added to their television advertising overnight for the race’s final days.

Romney, the front-runner by far in the delegate competition, padded his lead overnight when he won all nine delegates on the island of Guam and then again in the Northern Mariana Islands.

Romney had 440 delegates in the AP’s count, more than all his rivals combined. Santorum had 213, while Gingrich had 107 and Paul had 46.

A candidate must win 1,144 to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Tampa next August.

In Wyoming, where some counties caucused earlier in the week, Romney had five of the 12 delegates at stake, Santorum had two, Paul had one, and one was uncommitted. Three more remained to be determined in party meetings on the day’s calendar.

Romney did not campaign in Kansas, leaving the field to Santorum and Paul.

Gingrich cancelled a scheduled trip to the state late in the week to concentrate on the two Southern primaries on Tuesday.

In sparsely populated Wyoming, there were 15 county conventions during the day to pick six convention delegates.

Kansas drew more attention from the White House hopefuls, but not much more, given its position midway between Super Tuesday and potentially pivotal primaries next Tuesday in Mississippi and Alabama.

Paul and Santorum both campaigned in the state on Friday, and Gov. Sam Brownback appeared with each, without making an endorsement.

In Topeka, Paul told an audience of about 500 that Kansas should be a “fertile field” for his libertarian-leaning views but declined to say how many delegates he hoped to gain.

Santorum, who hopes to drive Gingrich from the race in the coming week, lashed out at Obama and Romney simultaneously in remarks in the Kansas capital city.

“We already have one president who doesn’t tell the truth to the American people. We don’t need another,” he said.

The former Pennsylvania senator told reporters he was confident “that we can win Kansas on Saturday and come into Alabama and Mississippi, and this race should come down to two people.”

An aide to Gingrich said earlier in the week that the former House speaker must win both Southern primaries to justify continuing in the campaign.

But Gingrich strongly suggested otherwise on Friday as polls showed a tight three-way contest in Alabama.

“I think there’s a fair chance we’ll win,” he told The Associated Press about the contests in Alabama and Mississippi. “But I just want to set this to rest once and for all. We’re going to Tampa.”

Romney had no campaign appearances Saturday. The former Massachusetts governor won six of 10 Super Tuesday states earlier in the week, and hopes for a Southern breakthrough in Alabama on Tuesday after earlier losing South Carolina and Georgia to Gingrich.

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IS ALABAMA “LIGHTENING UP” ON HISPANICS?

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THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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On March 1, the ACLU will be in court challenging the constitutionality of both Alabama and Georgia’s discriminatory anti-immigrant laws. Of the five Arizona-inspired laws to pass, only Alabama’s has had significant provisions go into effect. The result: divided communities and devastation to the State’s economy and reputation.

Five months have now passed since those parts of Alabama’s law, H.B. 56, went into effect, and Alabama’s immigrant and Latino communities remain in a state of terror. Although tens of thousands fled Alabama in those first few days and weeks, others have committed to staying in their communities, hoping the legal challenges and basic human decency would prevail. People have held out hoping they would not have to uproot their families and leave their homes, notwithstanding the clear message that they were no longer welcome, at least by those in charge of the State government.Creator of The Hispanic Blog

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Several realities are missed or ignored by those in favor of coercive policies like H.B. 56, that are meant to force immigrants to “self-deport.” One is the incredible resourcefulness of the community they have targeted. People don’t leave their home countries and travel thousands of miles to escape violence, repression, and grinding poverty without a willingness to endure hardship and to overcome obstacles that would persuade those of less resolute spirit to turn back. Having put down roots in Alabama and made contributions to their local communities, many immigrants are therefore willing to take a wait-and-see approach, and tolerate — at least for a while — outrages that are far out of place in 21st-century America.

Alabama is fertile ground for outrage for anyone with a conscience. Although arrests and detentions of foreign auto executives make headlines, the everyday lived experience of H.B. 56 involves far more commonplace affronts to human dignity. Indignities like being denied water service for six weeks, even while your 9-year-old U.S.-citizen child falls ill for lack of running water in the home; or being told that without a valid Social Security number, you can’t have electricity at your home, receive emergency dental care, take classes at the local community college, or renew your lease — even though you are willing and able to pay just like the next person. Other frequent affronts to human dignity include being told that even though your family qualifies for federal food stamps or emergency medical care, you can’t have those services because the state has decided otherwise; or being warned that if you offer a neighbor a hand by providing a meal or a ride, you could be prosecuted for the new state crime of harboring; or being arrested by local police, not for any crime, but because the officer wants to check your immigration status — and besides, you were standing on the sidewalk for too long anyway.

Not all of these consequences are actually mandated by H.B. 56, but such things happen when you enact a broadly worded law that, in the words of Rep. Micky Hammon, one of its sponsors, “attacks every aspect” of the lives of an entire community, in the hopes that “they will deport themselves.” It signals and gives license to those who think they either can or are now required to discriminate (and it doesn’t help when Rep. Hammon openly uses “Hispanic” and “illegal immigrant” interchangeably).
And so those who look or sound “foreign,” even though they are U.S. citizens, are collateral casualties, looked upon with suspicion and harassed — asked if they have “papers” — when they buy groceries, go to school or a restaurant, or attempt to return a blouse to the local department store.br />
20120228-171127.jpg photo of beyond anti-immigrant Gov Brewer of AZ & Gov Bentley of AL

Some recent reports have noted that amongst the thousands who fled Alabama last fall, some have returned. And it’s true: there has been a slight rebound in some places. Some have decided that even though life is far more difficult in Alabama than other places, it’s still their home. And so they will have faith that the State will come to its collective senses and remedy what has become a colossal self-inflicted injury; we’ve seen some state lawmakers calling for repeal, while others are considering measures that would try and mitigate the law’s widespread harms. Many families are counting on the courts and the compassion of their neighbors (immigrant, Latino, or otherwise) so that they can carry on with the lives they have built in Alabama. In short, despite all evidence to the contrary, some immigrants in Alabama continue to have faith in the American values they have come to respect and love as their own. I just hope their faith is not misplaced.

Read More: ACLU BLOG BY JUSTIN COX

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