IMMIGRATION REFORM: A PATH TO RESIDENCY

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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THIS WEEK: ARE LATINOS CON ROMNEY OR OBAMA?

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

While President Obama enjoys a wide lead among Latino voters across the country, Mitt Romney has made some headway with Latinos in swing states, according to this week’s tracking poll by Latino Decisions for impreMedia. The poll showed that 33 percent of Hispanic voters in ten battleground states were “certain” or “thinking about” voting for Romney, a slight gain from prior weeks for the Republican candidate.
Still, the same poll found that President Obama had his strongest week to date with those surveyed. Fifty one percent of Latino voters in ten battleground states said they trust Obama more than his opponent to handle the economy, compared to 27 percent who said they trusted Romney and Republicans more.

Nationally, 72 percent of voters favor Obama on the economy, and more than 20 percent favor Romney — a significant increase from just four weeks ago when 59 percent favored Obama and 30 percent favored Romney. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have campaigned on a promise of economic recovery in the Hispanic community, where the unemployment rate sits at 11 percent, three full points higher than the national average. Despite the GOP‘s focus on their economic message, Latino voters are siding with Obama nationally when it comes to the issue.
Furthermore, Romney lacks strong “core support” from respondents in the Latino community,” according to Latino Decisions. Just 10 percent of those surveyed said they had a “very favorable” opinion of Romney, while 55 percent of those surveyed had a “very favorable” opinion of Obama.
The Latino Decisions pollsters in part attribute Obama’s gain this week to Romney’s recent ’47 percent’ comments. “Romney’s infamous comments about the ’47 percent’ are clearly hurting him among Latinos,” Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions said. “He appears out of touch with the average working class family.” Latinos will play a key role in the election, as a growing population in key swing states, many pollsters argue. However, questions remain about just how many of these voters will turn up to the polls on election day.

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IS PRESIDENT OBAMA DESIGNATING LATINO ICON’S CESAR CHAVEZ’ HOME A NATIONAL MONUMENT?

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

President Barack Obama is designating the California home of labor leader Cesar Chavez as a national monument, a move likely to shore up support from Hispanic and progressive voters just five weeks before the election.

Labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez is buried at La Paz in Keene, Calif., where President Obama will announce a national monument next week. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / October 1, 2012)

The White House said Monday that Obama will establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif., during a campaign swing through California next week. The property is known as La Paz, short for Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, or Our Lady Queen of Peace. The site served as national headquarters of the United Farm Workers union, as well as Chavez’s home, from the early 1970s until his death in 1993. Chavez is buried there and his gravesite will be part of the monument.

uestra Seňora Reina de La Paz (commonly known as La Paz) is a property encompassing 187 acres in the Tehachapi Mountains of eastern Kern County, California, and is associated with Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), one of the most important historic Latino leaders in the United States.

Obama said in a statement that Chavez “gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” adding that La Paz was at the center of significant civil rights events. By designating his home as a national monument, “Chavez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come,” Obama said.

Obama said in a statement that Chavez “gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere.” (Photo: AP)

As head of the UFW, Chavez staged a massive grape boycott that raised awareness of the plight of predominantly Latino farm workers. His efforts were credited with inspiring millions of other Latinos in their fight for more educational opportunities, better housing and more political power.

Cesar Chavez Phoenix Rallies 05/1972 Photographer: El Malcriado

Creation of a national monument at La Paz follows designation of the site in the San Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield as a national historic site. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the site’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places last year. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chavez’s founding of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the UFW. The Chavez monument will be the fourth national monument designated by Obama using the Antiquities Act.

Read More: Seattle Times

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IMMIGRATION DEBATE TAKES CENTER STAGE

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

(Credit: AP Photo/Getty Images)

No longer a backburner issue, immigration is roiling the presidential contest as President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney seek to court the nation’s swelling Hispanic population. The outcome could influence political battle lines and shape American politics for generations.

 The Supreme Court is about to render judgment on a get-tough Arizona law, and just last week the Democratic president announced plans to ease deportation rules for some children of illegal immigrants. With Election Day less than five months away, Hispanic voters are energized and paying close attention.

photo source: flickr

“There’s a lot at stake. We’re talking about a significant share of the American electorate that could well decide this election,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “It’s only now that both candidates are turning their attention to the Latino vote.”

LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Indeed, both sides are crafting aggressive strategies to appeal to a demographic that is by no means monolithic but has supported Democrats in recent elections. Some Republicans fear — and Democrats hope — that Obama could capitalize on this moment to help solidify Hispanic voters as predominantly Democratic this fall and for years to come, much as President Lyndon Johnson hardened the black vote for Democrats as he pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The stakes are high not only for states with larger Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, but for a growing number of other battlegrounds — Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, among them — where even a modest shift among Latino voters could be significant. The United States‘ Latino population surged from about 35 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.

Obama is riding a wave of Latino enthusiasm over his decision to allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work. Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants can avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. The new policy could help anywhere from 800,000 young immigrants — the administration’s estimate — to the Pew Hispanic Center‘s estimate of 1.4 million.

The move was politically timely, in the heat of the campaign and with Obama needing to energize a key part of his base of supporters — many of whom had grown disenchanted over the past three years. While the direct beneficiaries of the directive can’t vote for Obama, his action has widespread support among American Latinos. In fact, Obama has long enjoyed support among Hispanics — he won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008.

But he risked losing their enthusiasm, partly because Hispanics have been among the hardest hit by the economic slowdown. Obama also lost some support because he hasn’t fulfilled promises of a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system and because his administration has been aggressively deporting illegal immigrants. A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president’s handling of deportations.

Obama supporters 2008 photo source: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod predicts that the president could exceed his 2008 performance with Hispanics this year, noting that his opponent then was Sen. John McCain, who had initially pushed for an overhaul of the immigration system. Axelrod contends that Romney is “hopelessly twisted up on this issue.” Obama had troubles of his own before the administration announced the recent initiative. Supporters of many illegal immigrants — students as well as workers— had been mounting protests at Obama campaign headquarters this month in places such as Denver and Los Angeles.

Marco Saavedra, a Dream Act protester, participates in a sit-in Friday at President Barack Obama’s Walnut Hills campaign headquarters. The office has been closed since Saavedra and other protesters arrived Wednesday. / The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

 The Romney campaign has struggled to offer a consistent response to the president’s move. Romney has assailed Obama’s “broken promises” on immigration in recent days but has focused on the new policy’s temporary status as his prime criticism.

photo: photo: AP / Stephan Savoia

“These people deserve to understand what their status will be long term, not just four and a half months,” Romney said on Fox News Radio this week. “And that’s why I think it’s important for me and for Congress to come together to put together a plan that secures the border, that insists that we have an employment verification system and that deals with the children of those who have come here illegally on a long-term basis, not a stopgap measure.”

photo: photo: AP / Gerald Herbert

As is typical, Romney intends to focus on the economy when he faces the Latino convention on Thursday. The former Massachusetts governor argues that his economic credentials would benefit all people who have struggled under Obama’s leadership in recent years — women, younger voters and Hispanics among them. Still, Romney’s own immigration policy is unclear as he works to distance himself from harsh conservative rhetoric that was common during the extended GOP primary season earlier in the year.

photo source: AP / Paul Sancya

Facing a Rhode Island audience in April, for example, Romney drew large cheers when he said, “We want people to come here legally. And we like it when they come here speaking English.” He did not support the Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging Arizona’s hardline immigration law. And he said that he would veto the DREAM Act that would have given legal status to some children of illegal immigrants. Romney has refused so far to say whether he would reverse Obama’s new policy that does much the same thing, albeit on a temporary basis.

A Spanish language ad from the Obama campaign targeting Latino voters.

Even before he announced the new rules, Obama was looking to build his support among Latinos, vastly outspending Romney on Spanish-language television and radio. But Romney has released targeted TV and radio ads in Spanish, including some that feature one of Romney’s sons who is a fluent Spanish speaker. Simon Rosenberg, who follows immigration matters as head of the liberal-leaning group NDN, said the president’s move on immigration not only helps him energize Latino voters, it also helps cast him as a president willing to take bold steps. For a Latino community that worried that neither party was doing enough, “they now have a champion,” he said. But, he added, “There will be a resonance beyond the Latino community.”

Besides the new immigration initiative, the Obama camp has been using the new health care law to appeal to Hispanic voters, a rare use of the signature Obama measure in the campaign. An ad campaign this week in Nevada, Colorado and Florida focuses on the benefits of the health care law for Hispanics and features Cristina Saralegui, a popular Spanish-language television personality who endorsed Obama this week. She says in the ad that Obama’s health care law guarantees that “the great majority of Hispanics” will have access to doctors and hospitals.

Read More: Christian Science Monitor

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MITT ROMNEY’S SUPPORTERS BLAST OBAMA’S SPEECH TO HISPANICS

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

photo source: Gerardo Mora, Getty Images

 Mitt Romney‘s supporters today blasted President Obama’s speech to Hispanic leaders, charging the Democrat with failing Latinos with his policies. “We won’t be fooled by the shell games and the last minute political gimmickry President Obama is playing to distract from his record,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

Obama vowed he would continue fighting for a “comprehensive” immigration bill to come out of Congress and talked about ways to improve the economy in his remarks this afternoon at the NALEO conference. Romney spoke to the Hispanic elected and appointed officials, sounding a less-strident tone on immigration than he did during the GOP primaries. Rep. Quico Canseco, R-Texas, said Hispanics have been set back by Obama’s policies. He cited a double-digit unemployment rate and what he called a “staggering” child poverty rate for Latinos as examples.

photo source: flickr

 “The Hispanic community cannot stand for four more years under the current administration in Washington. By electing Mitt Romney in November, we can instead choose a different path and begin the work of turning the economy around for all Americans, especially Hispanics.”

Read More: USA Today

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