IMMIGRATION REFORM: A PATH TO RESIDENCY

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THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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A draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA TODAY would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years. The plan also would provide for more security funding and require business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years. In addition, the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa, under the draft bill being written by the White House. If approved, they could then apply for the same provisional legal status for their spouse or children living outside the country, according to the draft.

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The bill is being developed as members in both chambers of Congress are drafting their own immigration bills. In the House, a bipartisan group of representatives has been negotiating an immigration proposal for years and are writing their own bill. Last month, four Republican senators joined with four Democratic senators to announce their agreement on the general outlines of an immigration plan.

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One of those senators, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Obama‘s bill repeats the failures of past legislation and would be “dead on arrival” in Congress. “It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders,  (and) creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally,” Rubio said. “It would actually make our immigration problems worse.”

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The draft was obtained from an Obama administration official who said it was being distributed to various agencies.  The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the proposal publicly. The bill mirrors many provisions of the bipartisan 2007 bill that was spearheaded by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and ultimately failed.

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In his first term, Obama often deferred to Congress on drafting and advancing major legislation, including the Affordable Care Act. He has openly supported the efforts in Congress to take the lead on immigration legislation, and just this week met with Democratic senators to discuss their proposals. But two weeks ago in Las Vegas, while outlining his immigration plans, Obama made clear that he would not wait too long for Congress to get moving. “If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away,” he said.
White House spokesman Clark Stevens said Saturday that the administration continues to support the bipartisan efforts ongoing in Congress.
“The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based,” Stevens said. “We continue to work in support of a bipartisan effort, and while the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit.”

READ MORE: USA TODAY

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OBAMA SAYS “NO” IS NOT AN OPTION FOR THE DREAM ACT: THE DREAM OF OPPORTUNITY IS STILL ALIVE IN OUR TIME

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THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

(AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama greets guests during a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 3, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla between Mexico and France in 1862.
(May 2, 2012 – Source: Pool/Getty Images North America)

THE DREAM OF OPPORTUNITY IS STILL ALIVE IN OUR TIME – LOOKING BACK AT MAY 4, 2009

“While geography has made us neighbors, tradition has made us friends, economics has made us partners and necessity has made us allies, two great and independent nations united by hope instead of fear. Visiting Mexico, I was greeted by children on both our nations waving flags. A powerful reminder that everything we do is to secure a better future for our children and for our grandchildren. And while I was there, I found it impossible not to be touched by the warmth and vigor and the forceful vitality of the Mexican people. The love of life I’ve seen in Mexican American communities throughout this nation, and that’s what we’ll celebrate tomorrow, that’s what we’ll celebrate tonight, and that’s what we’ll celebrate in the future. Feliz Cinco de Mayo.” -President Obama

President Obama told a largely Hispanic audience today that he is ready to sign the DREAM Act and blamed Republicans for the failure of the legislation that would grant illegal immigrant students a path to citizenship.

photo source: AP

“We’re going to keep fighting for this common-sense reform — not just because hundreds of thousands of talented young students depend on it, but because ultimately America depends on it,” the president said at the annual Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House. “‘No’ is not an option. I want to sign the DREAM Act into law. I’ve got the pens all ready. I’m willing to work with anybody who is serious to get this done, and to achieve bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that solves this challenge once and for all.”

Dancers from Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Georgetown perform at a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Read more: IB Times

Today’s election-year celebration comes as the president courts Latino voters in the run-up to November.

(AFP OUT) Guests take pictures during a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2012.. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com
(May 2, 2012 – Source: Pool/Getty Images North America)

“We know that securing our future depends on making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their potential. And that’s why we’ve worked hard over the last three and a half years to create jobs; to make sure you get the care you need when you get sick; to make college affordable for everybody; to ensure that no matter where you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is — even if it’s Obama– you can make it if you try,” the president said to applause.

(AFP OUT) The Ballet Folklorico Mexicano performs during a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden at the White House on May 3, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla between Mexico and France in 1862.
(May 2, 2012 – Source: Pool/Getty Images North America)

In his brief remarks, Obama welcomed everyone to celebrate the “tres de Mayo” at this year’s party. The president will spend the real Cinco de Mayo this Saturday campaigning in Ohio and Virginia. “We just like to get the fiesta started early around here,” he joked. This year’s “fiesta” included dance performances by Georgetown University’s Ballet Folklórico and traditional Mexican music. Guests mingled in the Rose Garden, sipping champagne and, of course, margaritas.

Read More: ABC News

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WHO IS MICKEY IBARRA: MEET THE FORMER PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE

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THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Mickey Ibarra served as assistant to former President Bill Clinton and was the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He was born in Salt Lake City to a Mexican father and American mother, but grew up in foster care. Before beginning his career in politics, he taught at-risk high school students in Spanish Fork. In March, he donated his collection of photographs, correspondence and other memorabilia documenting his career at the White House to the University of Utah Marriott Library. He also recently gave a speech at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on his journey from schoolteacher to public servant, the importance of being involved politics, and the issue of immigration.

How does a high school teacher end up working at the White House?

My road to the White House was paved by the National Education Association, the teachers union I had the privilege of working for for 16 years of my professional career. But actually it started sooner than that: The person who sparked my interest in government, public service, campaigning, elections and our great democracy and the need for engagement was my high school government teacher, Mr. Steinberg.

I had the privilege of attending high school in Sacramento, the capital of California, so government and politics were certainly available to students who wanted to engage. Mr. Steinberg would provide extra credit for attending a city-council meeting, a school-board meeting. It was Mr. Steinberg who gave me extra credit for attending my first presidential campaign rally and major speech; it was delivered by Hubert Humphrey in 1968 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. And as I heard him speak, I can tell you it sent tingles from my toes to the top of my head. And it was that interest established in high school that propelled me to decide that I was going to figure out a way to engage in public service. And it also provided the seed for wanting to first do that as a teacher. So I was a political-science major at BYU with no intention ever of attending law school. I wanted to be a teacher. And I had an opportunity to do that for five years starting as a teacher at a public alternative high school.

photo source: Brigham Young High School
Class of 1969

That teaching experience led to my political experience with the Utah Education Association. I was a first-year teacher and attended my first national convention of the NEA as a delegate with the UEA. When I walked in that auditorium in Minneapolis and saw 15,000 of my colleagues in convention, many of them of color, it got my attention. This is the organization that I want to be a part of.

photo source: Brigham Young High School
Class of 1969 

I went from a volunteer to a staff member becoming their political manager, which put me responsible for leading the charge of the NEA to endorse Bill Clinton in 1992 for president. then served in the staff of the Clinton/Gore re-election campaign in 1996, posted up at the headquarters in Washington, D.C., and with our re-election, again the first Democrat to be re-elected president since Franklin Roosevelt, I was invited then to serve at the White House as the assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs.

“I prepared myself for that opportunity. Did I ever believe that an opportunity to serve the president would come my way? No. And is anybody ever fully prepared to be at the White House? I don’t think so. But I was prepared to be asked, and I got that chance, and here we went.” 

Why does the United States need immigration reform?
The issue of immigration is personal to me. It is more than a debate around public policy; it is personal, given my history. My father came to this country as a bracero in 1945, and his first labor camp was in Spanish Fork. My father was undocumented for 30-plus years, even though he served in the U.S. Army, had his own business. You don’t need to be documented to make a contribution. And everyone should be documented. But what we’ve got is a system that’s absolutely broken. It actually encourages people to come here without documents, because they’re not going to wait in line for five years to get a visa to come work here if their families are in need of help now. Who would do that? So, yes, that’s an issue that remains a priority for me, and I’m very troubled and concerned about what I see happening—states, including Utah, taking off on their own to decide what immigration law is going to look like. The most extreme case in Alabama, where they’ve turned teachers into immigration agents who can turn children in and their families in if they suspect that they may be undocumented. They have given license to racists in this country who now are emboldened to do the unthinkable. A nation trying to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow days of the ’60s and ’50s and earlier that I thought we had addressed. That’s very unfortunate and not up to the standards that America ought to be all about.

What misconceptions do people have about immigration reform and immigrants?

(1) They’re taking away our jobs.” That’s just nonsense. They’re not taking away anybody’s jobs. Ninety percent of them are doing jobs that none of us would do. Talk to the farmers about how important these workers are to them helping them harvest their crops—to make a profit, to stay in business. So that’s one of the misconceptions. The United States needs that labor; they need that workforce. And without it, they’d be in very difficult circumstances.
(2) They’re just here to freeload; they’re taking down benefits from us”—again, silly. I would say, as a class, there are no harder-working people in the world than the Latino community in this country. They’re not here to freeload, they’re not here to get something for nothing; they’re here to make a living. And are there exceptions to that? Of course there are. But I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of those residents in this country, who are without documentation, would love to figure out how to become documented. And the vast majority of them are also being taxed, and paying their taxes. If we’d come to our senses and document these folks, we’d even realize more taxes from them, and that would be a good thing.

What concerns me is we have so many people giving license and cover to racists. I’m not suggesting everybody who opposes immigration reform is racist.

USHLI Announces Mickey Ibarra Medallion for Excellence in Government Relations

(3) We have a right to protect our border. That’s a responsibility that we have. And that’s what argues for comprehensive immigration reform so we can secure our borders. We’re not going to secure our borders simply by building a taller fence. That’s not going to work. It’s got to be a combination of things, and my hope is that I’ll live long enough to see our country embrace a comprehensive approach in order to deal with this issue. It was Ronald Reagan who was the last president to try and deal with this in a responsible manner, which included providing more than 3 million undocumented residents with amnesty. So if Ronald Reagan can get it done, I’ve got to believe that we ought to keep hope alive for that, too.

What would successful immigration reform look like?


In its broadest context, one, we’ve got to provide for security, to be sure. Two, we’ve got to figure out a sensible visa program that allows for demand to match the supply. Something that’s reasonable. Asking somebody to wait in line for five years so they can come here and work as a dishwasher is nuts. So we’ve got to figure that out, that whole ebb and flow of the workforce—that’s a big piece of it. [Also] how do we deal with at least 11 million undocumented residents now? Do we really think we’re going to ship that 11 million back to the country they came from? I don’t think so; it’s just ridiculous. We’re not going to do that, it’s not possible to do that, and it’s stupid to do that. Should there be a penalty [for being undocumented]? Absolutely. Should there be requirement for them to learn English? That’s fine. Should they be responsible for paying their taxes and all that sort of thing? Absolutely. Should they have to show proof of employment for five, six years, whatever it is, yes. But those criteria can be set, and where they’re met, there ought to be a path to being made legal residents of this country.

It may not be possible to adopt comprehensive immigration reform; I do think it’s possible for us to make incremental progress. For me, step one is addressing the Dream Act: the idea of providing a pathway, an opportunity, for youngsters who were brought to this country by their parents and no responsibility whatsoever for being here without legal status, and have done the right thing and graduated from high school, ought to be provided the opportunity to continue their education here. And if they graduate and stay out of trouble, be provided a pathway for citizenship—that ought to be an easy one. So I’m all for taking a look at taking a bite of the apple rather than trying to swallow the whole thing. It seems to be the Dream Act is where we ought to start.

With Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Why is it important to be involved in politics?

When people disengage from their civic responsibilities, when they check out, others check in. And unfortunately that seems to be too often the extremes of both ends of the political spectrum. And that’s not good. What we need to do is have every citizen of this country embrace the responsibility that they have to engage. This is a democracy. Democracy requires participation. It’s very important to ensure that we engage, that we register, that we vote, that we support candidates who reflect our views and that we hold them accountable for doing the right thing for us, rather than simply reflecting the views of, in many cases, an extreme minority. Some suggest that we get the government that we deserve; I think we deserve better. And to get better, we’re going to have to do more engagement.

What’s your favorite part of being involved in politics?

photo source: Mickey Ibarra, founder and chairman of the Latino Leaders Network (LLN) presented Julie Stav with the Eagle Leadership Award at the 30th LLN Luncheon. Photo by Steve Canning.

Helping people; putting people first. That was the theme in 1992 of Bill Clinton: putting people first again. And that’s really what makes politics and public service one of the most noble endeavors of all. When it’s understood that your core responsibility is helping people accomplish all they can with their God-given talents, helping them overcome the obstacles to success, helping someone has a great reward that I enjoyed at the White House. I was in a position, and I realized that—that very few people get an opportunity to do—to help someone.   
Read More: CITY WEEKLY

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CESAR CHAVEZ DAY: REMEMBERING A HISPANIC LEGEND AND ICONIC SAYING “SI SE PUEDE…YES WE CAN”

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THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

When Barack Obama campaigned to be the nation’s 44th president, he used the simple mantra, “Yes We Can” – a translation of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez‘s chant, “Si se puede.”Nearly four years after the presidential election, Obama’s paying homage to the man whose words helped him win office, decreeing Saturday, March 31st of 2012, the 85th anniversary of the civil rights icon’s birthday, Cesar Chavez Day.

This LA Times photo captures a moment of
friendship between Bobby Kennedy and Chavez
during Chavez's 25-day fast in 1960.

The civil rights leader, who fought for fair wages and humane treatment for California’s farm workers in California, championed principles of nonviolence through boycotts, fasts, and marches. In conjunction with Dolores Huerta, Chavez founded the United Farm Workers of America, an organization devoted to defending the rights of farmhands and field workers across the country.
Earlier this week, the White House honored ten local leaders who “exemplify Cesar Chavez’s core values,” inviting the activists, farmworkers, and professors to speak at a panel called, “Champions of Change,” hosted by HuffPost LatinoVoices blogger, Viviana Hurtado.

On March 10th, 1968, Cesar Chavez breaks his 25-day fast by accepting bread from Senator Robert Kennedy, Delano, California.
Left to right: Helen Chavez, Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez Photographer: Richard Darby

One of those “champions” was Rogelio Lona, a a farm worker, activist, and community organizer who worked in the fields of California for more than 47 years.
Unbearable working conditions lead Lona to join UFW in 1972.  “We were treated as slaves, we did not have any representation in society, we were discriminated against and there were neither benefits nor labor protections,” Lona wrote in a blog on the White House website. Lona said that he accepted the award on behalf of all of those working in America’s fields, and was adamant that he will never be done fighting. “Rogelio, the struggle will never end, we must always be prepared,” Lona recalls Chavez telling him.

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy and Cesar Chavez address the audience at an unknown meeting, possibly on the floor of the United States Senate.

Many of the panelists that spoke on Thursday focused on the importance of placing Cesar Chavez’s legacy in a modern context. A few of the activists said Cesar Chavez’s words should be remembered in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, and the on-going struggle to end harsh state immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama.

Activists in Tucson, Arizona say that Chavez’s fight against discrimination is especially alive in their city. After the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) banned the city’s Mexican-American studies program, organizers say that the annual Cesar Chavez march would no longer be held at a local high school because of further censorship from the school district.

According to Laura Dent, an organizer of the Arizona Cesar Chavez Holiday Coalition, the TUSD stipulated that there could be no mention to the elimination of Tucson’s Mexican-American studies program in order for it to be held at Pueblo High Magnet School, where it has been held for more than a decade.
“So the Chavez Coalition decided that with that kind of level of censorship, we would just move the staging area of the event,” Dent told NPR.

Viviana Hurtado, the moderator of the White House’s commemorative panel, told The Huffington Post that she was able to chat briefly with Cesar Chavez’s son about what advice his father would give us in a modern context.

Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union,
with McGovern for President supporters ("Grassroot McGoverners" in the language of the time) marching from the Civic Center to Union Square in San Francisco against Proposition 22 which forbade secondary boycotts.
Fall, 1972.

According to Hurtado, Chavez’s son believes his father would say, “Don’t just be frustrated with the situation ahead of you. Get up and do something. Take action.”

Read More: HUFFINGTON POST

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WHY YOUNG HISPANICS MAY NOT BE GETTING OUT THE VOTE IN 2012?

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THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

WHY YOUNG HISPANICS MAY NOT BE GETTING OUT THE VOTE IN 2012?

In some ways, the upswing in youth political engagement that corresponded with the 2008 election resembled something of a movement more than it was electoral politics as usual. The enthusiasm and interest that the campaign generated among young people recalled the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s that were oriented around civil rights and the antiwar movement and were led primarily by young people in the days when 18-year-olds were unable to participate in electoral politics.

SOURCE: Flickr / OFA : Latino voters represented 8 percent of voters in the 2010 midterm elections, a number that remained the same as the 2008 presidential elections. Above, Latinos for Obama volunteers campaign in Nevada during the 2008 general election.

Already, many in the Latino community are predicting a downturn in Latino youth participation in the 2012 campaign. Considering that a good number of Latino youth who worked tirelessly for Obama’s election were undocumented, and they were the ones who walked neighborhoods, handed out campaign flyers, urged their neighbors to vote and made phone calls on his behalf, it doesn’t seem likely that these same youth will turn out like they did before given the Obama administration’s record on deportations.

Obama’s first three years have been marked by a record number of deportations of illegal immigrants — nearly 1.2 million, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Deportations totaled 1.6 million during the entire eight years of George W. Bush‘s presidency. Obama received 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008 when he defeated Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Latino voters also helped provide the winning margin in the swing states of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, which could again be important in another close election. Although Texas has voted solidly Republican in recent presidential contests, Obama has enjoyed financial and political support from San Antonio, the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Houston, where the Latino population is increasing.

SOURCE: AP/David Zalubowski: Twin sisters Judith, left, and Maira Garcia make telephone calls to voters from the headquarters of Mi Familia Vota in southwest Denver on Friday, November 3, 2006, encouraging voters to head to the polls to vote in Colorado’s general election that year.

To advance Obama’s standing with Latinos, the White House has organized policy “summits” for administration officials and Hispanic leaders in key states and communities to discuss initiatives on education, job training and health care. The meetings will be held in Texas, Arizona, Florida and Ohio, the White House said. One is scheduled March 9 at Café College in San Antonio, an inner-city resource center designed to help minority students pursue higher education. Mayor Julián Castro, who will participate in the summit, praised the president for addressing concerns that Republican hopefuls have not.

“It’s clear that the Hispanic community has grown tremendously both in population and voters,” Castro said during an interview arranged by the White House before the president’s State of the Union speech. “It benefits the entire nation, particularly the Hispanic community, for issues important to Hispanics to be addressed,” Castro said.

In fairness, the Obama administration has implemented several changes to immigration enforcement policies and procedures with mixed results of success, as seen through the eyes of the Latino community. To say there continues to be disillusionment among Latino youth would be an understatement. Yet, it doesn’t mean that they want to see any of the current GOP candidates win either. What it does mean is that these same youth who were so enthusiastic about the “hope for change” in 2008 don’t see that happening in 2012. Unless something significant comes out of the White House that benefits Latino undocumented youth before November, that delivers on that hope that was promised four years ago, it looks like the Obama campaign will be on its own.

 

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