IMMIGRATION REFORM AND BORDER SECURITY

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

The effort in Washington to pass immigration reform is headed for a potential showdown over border security – with the Senate and White House plans putting different emphasis on the issue, and Democrats and Republicans appearing to disagree over the extent of the problem.

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The likely conflict was highlighted earlier this week when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared U.S. borders secure and said Republicans have a flawed argument about border security needing to precede comprehensive immigration reform.

“I believe the border is secure,” Napolitano said Monday in San Diego, during a three-day swing of the Southwest border. “I believe the border’s a safe border (but) that’s not to say everything is 100 percent.”

She said the Republicans have failed to recognize yearly improvements in contraband seizures and the number of people caught trying to cross the border illegal. They also think border security is unrelated to interior immigration enforcement such as visa tracking and employment verification and the pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States, Napolitano also said.

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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

While the plan by President Obama, who has made immigration reform a second-term priority, includes tighter border security, the plan by a bipartisan Senate panel is contingent on securing the borders. Still, both sides agree that border security has improved since the Bush administration.

Roughly 365,000 people attempted to cross U.S. borders illegally in fiscal 2012 — a nearly 50 percent drop since fiscal 2008 and 78 percent drop from its peak in fiscal 2000, according to a Feb. 1 report by the U.S. Border Patrol, which based the findings on apprehensions. Borders agents also seized more than 4.2 million pounds of narcotics and $100 million in unreported currency over that period, the report states.

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AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite

However, Republicans on the eight-member Senate panel, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, says more needs to be done. “There remain several areas, particularly in Arizona, where people’s homes are being invaded, where drug smugglers are crossing property every night,” he said last month in a statement. “But there is no question there has been a significant reduction in illegal crossings over the past five years.” Still, the situation is far from perfect.

Chris Crane, president for the union for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, told a House committee Tuesday that agency morale is sagging in part because the country is allowing illegal immigrants to stay.

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“Agents cannot make arrests because of overstayed visa,” Crane said. “It’s not illegal anymore. … The agency is falling apart, morale is at an all-time low.”

The Senate plan calls for improving border security through more agents, improved technology such as unmanned drones and the better use of existing resources. The National Guard in December purportedly agreed to a one-year extension with the Department of Homeland Security to patrol the Southwest border. Roughly 1,200 Guardsmen began patrolling the region with Board Patrol and U.S. Customs agents in 2010, but their ranks have been trimmed to about 300 and their role is now largely to support the roughly 18,000 U.S. Border agents in the region – including more aerial observations.

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Despite Napolitano arguing that Republicans have missed the point about border security being tied to visa tracking and employment verification, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another Republican on the Senate panel, publicly made the connection weeks earlier. Rubio told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that his goal is to ensure border security is part of the reform plan because “if not the workplace enforcement, the visa tracking … don’t happen.”

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“Then we are going to be right back here again in five to 10 years with another three, four, five million people who are undocumented,” he said.

The Senate plan includes a component to evaluate the Southwest border – a commission composed of governors, attorneys general and community leaders from that region to monitor security progress and make recommendations. However, the weight of their findings and to what extent border security is included in the potential-but-likely legislation remains unclear.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to have to discuss,” Rubio told Hewitt. “That’s part of turning a principle into a bill, into a law. … It’s important that we have input from the people that are affected by the border, because it’s one thing to say that the border is certified from, you know, an air conditioned office in Washington. Another thing is to have to deal with it on the ground as a law enforcement person.

Read more: FOX NEWS

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LEGALIZING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IS A BAD IDEA: THE OP-ED THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE PUBLISHED

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

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The Chicago Tribune published an op-ed rehashing claims about undocumented immigrants that have been widely debunked, without noting that the author is a fellow at nativist organization the Center for Immigration StudiesCIS is an anti-immigrant organization whose affiliation with hate groups has been thoroughly documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In the February 8 op-ed titled, “Legalizing Illegal Immigrants A Bad Idea,” CIS fellow David Seminara repeated the false claims that undocumented immigrants steal jobs from hard-working Americans and that they put a strain on social services. The Tribune identified Seminara simply as a former diplomat who has “issued thousands of visas during his career at the State Department.”

According to his bio on the CIS website, Seminara has been a fellow at the organization since 2009. He has written extensively for the group’s blog, including writing posts that have criticized an undocumented immigrant fearful of applying for deferred action and attacked scholarships for undocumented immigrants.

Knowing Seminara’s affiliation with CIS would have alerted readers that the op-ed was presenting a biased view of the immigration debate as it repeated many of CIS’ and other nativist groups’ talking points. Indeed, his claim that undocumented immigrants steal Americans’ jobs is not new; it has been discredited by economists and immigration experts using mountains of research: Undocumented immigrants do not generally compete with Americans for labor, and in fact have been found to boost Americans’ wages.

Immigrants given legal status under the immigration reform framework announced by the Senate are also unlikely to be a strain on the welfare system. Under the current framework, newly legalized immigrants would not be eligible for Medicaid or any government social benefit. In addition, immigrants are more likely to have jobs and over half have a high school degree or more.

In Illinois, consumer spending by undocumented immigrants already generates $5.45 billion in gross regional spending which accounts for 31,000 jobs in the Chicago area,according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In fact, the Immigration Policy Center reported that in 2010, undocumented immigrants in the state paid nearly half a billion dollars in taxes.

Read More: Media Matters

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HISPANICS HAVE A BRIGHT FUTURE

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

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To the contrary: A staggering 78 percent of second-generation Hispanic adults say that they believe hard work pays off in success. That’s a higher percentage than the 72 percent of their Asian American counterparts who profess such faith in hard work or indeed the 58 percent of all American adults.

To be sure, second-generation Hispanic immigrants have a way to go to catch up to their non-Hispanic white and Asian American counterparts. Both those groups have higher median household incomes and lower poverty rates than adult Americans as a whole.

But the gap is not as large as some might assume. The median household income for second-generation Hispanic immigrants ($48,400), is only slightly lower than the overall national figure (about $50,000). And the poverty rate for that group of Hispanics (16 percent) is virtually the same as the nation’s (15 percent).

Read More: Washington Post

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WHAT IS HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH AND WHEN EXACTLY IS IT?

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

Caesar Chavez, Migrant Workers Union Leader, 07/1972 Photo by: flickr

About National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Entertainment: Vocalist Joan Baez. A sign hanging near the microphones reads "We Shall Overcome." ], 08/28/1963 photo by flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/6053190883/in/set-72157627456510830/Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Entertainment: Vocalist Joan Baez. A sign hanging near the microphones reads “We Shall Overcome.” ], 08/28/1963 photo by flickr

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

Photograph of the portrait of Jose de San Martin hanging on the wall in the Oval Office of the White House, directly over a small equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson., 11/05/1946 photo by flickr

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

To find out more about Hispanic Heritage Month visit the government website at http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

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LESS THAN 5% OF POLITICAL TV AD MONEY GOES TO SPANISH-LANGUAGE MEDIA

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

With the negative ads flying in this year’s political campaigns, many voters may be struggling to separate fact from fiction. But some Hispanic Americans would rather hear a few tall tales than, some critics say, be taken for granted. Both Democrats and Republicans say they’ve made the Hispanic vote a priority. But less than 5 percent of all political TV ad money goes to Spanish-language media, according to a study released Monday by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It’s a matter of respect for some Hispanic leaders, who see the lack of funding as a dismissal of the fastest-growing voting bloc, and one that is expected to play a critical role in November. The campaigns are excluding millions of voters from the political conversation, said Javier Palomarez, president of the Hispanic chamber.

“Like all Americans, Hispanics are perfectly capable of judging negative advertising for what it is,” Palomarez said. “What matters is that campaigns prioritize Hispanic voters in a manner that is equivalent to their ever increasing electoral significance.”

Many Latinos are watching English-language broadcasts and the campaigns should take that into account, but they also should not ignore Spanish-language media, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Voters who watch Spanish-language channels are more likely to be naturalized citizens. And naturalized citizens tend to vote in higher percentages than native-born Latinos, who are more likely to take the right to vote for granted, Vargas said.

Some 12 million Hispanics are expected to vote in this year’s election. Their vote is seen as critical in swing states with large Hispanic populations, such as Nevada, Florida and Colorado. Voter turnout is at the forefront of both President Obama’s and GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s efforts to mobilize the Hispanic community.

Just $16 million of the approximately $360 million spent on all campaign television advertising since April has been used in Spanish-language markets through Sept. 25, according to the chamber study, which has been tracking TV ad spending. The study tracked advertising spending in 10 states: Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

In Florida, Hispanics make up about 16 percent of registered voters, yet Spanish-language ads accounted for just 7 percent of the $107 million spent on all political advertising in the state. Miami, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic markets, does better. Candidates and supporters spend about 31 percent of their ad dollars on Spanish-language media trying to woo the largely Cuban, Puerto Rican and Colombian electorate.

Democrats spent nearly twice as much, or more, than Republicans on Spanish-language ads in Florida, Colorado and Texas. Of the 10 states studied, Republicans outspent Democrats only in New York and spent the same amount, which was nothing, in Illinois and Virginia. The advertising markets studied in Virginia did not include the Washington metro area.

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The gap in political spending is particularly stark in California, where less than 3 percent of spending is on Spanish-language ads despite Latinos making up nearly 20 percent of registered voters, and in Texas, where less than 6 percent of spending is on Spanish-language ads despite Latinos making up 23 percent of registered voters. Neither state is considered competitive in the presidential contest.

“Television advertising is reality,” said Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which conducted the study. “Campaigns can say they have a bunch of money, but if they’re not advertising then they don’t have a bunch of money. Campaigns can say a state is competitive, but if they’re not advertising there, the state is not competitive. Campaigns can say they want to talk about a particular message, but if they’re not doing it in their paid advertising, they’re not serious.”

In the presidential race, $10 million was spent on Spanish-language TV ads and $158 million spent on English-language ads. Democrats spent more than twice as much as Republicans on Spanish-language ads. The numbers include spending both by parties and so-called “Super” PACs.
Romney released his latest Spanish-language ad, titled “Nuestra Comunidad,” last week featuring the former Massachusetts governor clasping hands with Hispanic supporters and posing for photos with Hispanic children. Republican Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, who narrates the video, pledges that Romney can “revive the American dream” for Latino families. The Romney campaign plans to “spend more on Spanish-language advertising” than either John McCain or George W. Bush did in their 2008 and 2000 and 2004 presidential races, according to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

The Obama campaign said its Hispanic outreach efforts are more about substance than spending and boasted the campaign has been running Spanish-language radio and TV ads since April. The campaign uses many forms of digital communication.

President Obama heps organize a group of kids for a photo outside the Lechonera El Barrio cafe in the Azalea Park neighborhood of Orlando, Fla. The president had stopped to pick up lunch and paused for photos with the children. (David Nakamura/The Washington Post)

“Throughout the campaign, we have used all the tools at our disposal, from innovative advertising to grassroots organizing in the Latino community to promote the president’s record,” said Obama spokeswoman Gabriela Domenzain. Some observers question whether the lack of advertising in Spanish-language markets is because of trends that show more Hispanics tuning in to English-language TV.

Univision and ABC announced this spring that they would partner to build the nation’s first English-language news and information channel for U.S. Hispanics. Based in Miami, the 24-hour channel is expected to begin airing next year.

But Palomarez called it a “gross miscalculation” by any campaign to spend 96 percent of its advertising on English-language markets. He noted that top shows on Univision often rivals the viewership on major English-language networks.“The numbers speak for themselves,” he said.

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