Mohammad Abdollahi has not followed every twist and turn of the national immigration debate. He has been too busy trying to save a friend from deportation.
Last month, 20-year-old Izlia Luna of Medford, Ore., was stopped by police for a traffic altercation. The judge threw out the charges. But under the mandate of the Obama administration’s Secure Communities program, Luna’s fingerprints had been taken. She was found to be undocumented. Luna was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was 2 years old. Instead of being released she was sent to an ICE detention facility in Tacoma, Wash., 340 miles from her home.
“This is what immigration reform under Obama has gotten us,” says Abdollahi, who traveled to Tacoma to rally public attention to Luna’s case. “The right to spend up to $5,000 to get a loved one out of jail. When Obama says he isn’t deporting dreamers, he’s lying.”
“Marco Rubio is being a lot more authentic with us,” Abdollahi added.
The positive response of young immigrants to Rubio’s still-vague alternative to the Democrats’ DREAM Act is central to the changing politics of immigration in the 2012 presidential campaign. In a series of meetings in Washington, Rubio is shopping for support, hoping to put forward a legislative proposal in the next few weeks. The Washington Post endorsed the idea on Monday.
By flirting with Rubio, the DREAM activists — representing an estimated 1 million young Americans. or “dreamers,” who are now barred from a path to U.S. citizenship — have wrongfooted the Obama White House and given pause to reelection campaign officials who had been counting on Latinos to fall in line with the president’s reelection. They have also caught the interest of Republican strategists worried about Romney’s narrowing path for victory in November.
Rubio is expected to propose the creation of a non-immigrant visa that would insure undocumented young people who don’t have criminal records would not be deported and could eventually become citizens. The original DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate in 2010.
“We are going to support whoever will come out and talk about the issue,” said Gabby Pacheco, a 26-year-old special education teacher from Miami and DREAM Act activist. “Rubio realizes this is key for us. Even if he is only doing it for political reasons, we’re willing to listen.”
The dreamers are backed by Latino Democrats on Capitol Hill, who feel betrayed by Obama administration’s boasts of deporting a record annual average of 400,000 people over the last four years. Rep. Luis Guitierrez of Illinois told Politico he is so confident in Rubio’s concept that liberal allies are accusing him of being the Florida senator’s new “best friend.”
The Obama White House hates the idea. Last week, presidential advisers Celia Munoz and Valerie Jarrett tried to discourage the dreamers from embracing Rubio’s proposal, saying it put at risk the original DREAM Act which laid out a specific path to citizenship. According to the Washington Post, they had a meeting with DREAM Act-eligible students in Washington, arguing that “Rubio had not demonstrated he could win support from fellow Republicans and that the president would use his clout to push an immigration plan next year. ”
Pacheco, who attended the meeting, was not impressed with the White House appeal.
“You can’t wait until next year if you’re getting deported this year,” she said. She described the White House officials as “very strategic” in their opposition to Rubio. She said the dreamers asked Munoz and Jarrett if the president could stop the deportations by taking administrative action that would not need to be approved by Congress, as Florida immigration activist Cheryl Little recently wrote in the Miami Herald.
“The thing that surprised us was they said no,” Pacheco told me. “They said, practically, ‘We don’t have the power to do this.’We’re trying to find out if that is true.” It isn’t true, says Laura Linnick, an attorney in Denver and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association.
“The Obama administration could certainly be doing more and better to improve the situation for DREAM Act students and to make immigration law and policy predictable and fair for everybody,” Linnick said in a telephone interview. “Whether they’re willing to do that in any way that might look like reasonable treatment for the undocumented remains to be seen.”
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who has advocated “self-deportation” for the likes of Abdolliah and Luna and the estimated 1 million DREAM Act-eligible students, is non-committal about Rubio’s idea. Romney’s hard-line immigration adviser, Kansas secrtary of state Kris Kobach, initially rejected the suggestion as “amnesty,” but has more recently said he can “work with” the Florida senator, a nod to the growing realization that running on a platform of “self-deportation” is Romney’s ticket to self-destruction among Latino voters in November.
Whether Rubio’s gambit can sway Republican votes on Capitol Hill is doubtful. House Speaker John Boehner described passage of such a bill this year as “difficult at best.” Helping the undocumented is not a priority for most non-Latino voters, according to Republican pollster Scott Rasmussen.
While elite Republicans like Haley Barbour have said positive things about Rubio’s idea, the conservative blogosphere is notably unenthusiastic. The Weekly Standard touted Rubio’s recent foreign policy speech while ignoring his much-publicized idea of helping young undocumented Americans closer to home. The National Review hyped Rubio as a Romney running mate without taking a stand on his proposal “to give the children of illegal immigrants a visa to continue their studies.” Talk radio stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt have yet to mention Rubio’s plan, while Mickey Kaus, the Daily Caller’s anti-immigrant blogger, notes conservative intellectuals can only agree to disagree on the issue.
If the Republicans’ intellectual base seems stumped by Rubio’s gambit, the Democratic incumbent comes off as arrogant. In a recent interview with Telemundo, President Obama said:
This notion that somehow Republicans want to have it both ways — they want to vote against these laws [like Arizona and Alabama] and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment … and then they come and say, ‘But we really care about these kids and we want to do something about it’ — that looks like hypocrisy to me.
To the dreamers, Obama is just as hypocritical. “A lot of folks want us to be against it,” Abdollahi said. “At the same time we hear from Obama administration that they’re not deporting dreamers. They’re tricking us. That’s what make us supportive of Rubio.”
Dreamers spurn Obama - Election 2012 - Salon.com
(CNN) -- A Brazilian actor died after accidentally hanging himself during the play "The Passion of the Christ," a local hospital said.
Tiago Klimeck, 27, was one of the actors from a local theater company taking part in an independent production of the play April 6 in the city of Itarare.
Klimeck died Sunday after spending more than two weeks in a medically induced coma due to extensive brain injuries from a prolonged lack of oxygen after accidentally hanging himself, according to the Hospital Santa Casa de Misericordia, in the neighboring city of Itapeva.
The cause of death was not immediately available. Photos taken by a local photographer show the final moments of the play as Klimeck, in the role of Judas Iscariot, hangs himself as described in the Bible in the book of Matthew.
Klimeck wore a harness under his robe during the play, according to CNN affiliate TV Record.
Police investigator Jose Victor Bassetti told the news station this was the third year the local fire department let the theater company borrow the harness for the play and that Klimeck was not supervised because he knew how to use the equipment. The harness, along with the rope used in the play, are now being analyzed at the Criminal Institute of Sorocaba.
Luiz Carlos Rosner owns a sandwich cart next to the city square where the play was taking place. He described the anxiety after cast members realized Klimeck was unconscious.
"One of the actors came over to me, desperate, explaining there was someone unconscious hanging from the rope and that he wanted to cut it," Rosner told TV Record. "I was a little worried about giving him a knife in the middle of the crowd."
Senate to Consider Increasing U Visas this Week
The U.S. Senate is widely anticipated to take up the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) this week. Although VAWA was initially passed in 1994 to increase protections for women suffering domestic violence and abuse.
The version currently before the Senate, introduced by Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy contains provisions that could increase the number of U-visas by 34,000. It does this by increasing the number of U visas granted annually from 10,000 (the current ceiling) to 15,000, until all unused U visas since 2006 are recaptured.
Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa in 2000 to allow aliens who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a victim of domestic violence, rape, or certain other crimes to obtain temporary legal status if they help law enforcement prosecute those crimes.
An alien can obtain a U visa regardless of legal status, remain in the country for four-years at a time, receive work authorization, and become eligible for a green card after three years.
If the Senate passes S. 1925, it goes to the Republican-controlled House where it is expected to face an uphill battle.
Last Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives voted 64-34 to make major revisions to the State's immigration enforcement law, HB 56. The changes were adopted through the passage of HB 658, introduced by Rep. Micky Hammon, also the House author of HB 56.
HB 658 weakens HB 56 in several ways. It limits the circumstances under which law enforcement officers check immigration status, weakens the penalties for knowingly hiring illegal aliens, eliminates the prohibition on renting apartments to an individual a landlord knows is an illegal alien, and eliminates the requirement that schools collect immigration data on their students for inclusion in state reports.
Debate on the Alabama House floor was long and contentious. Opponents said the bill did not go far enough, calling for an outright repeal. Early on, the House Legislative Black Caucus led a filibuster, saying the law had led to discrimination and other unintended consequences. Rep. Hammon, however, promoted the changes as merely clarifying HB 56, particularly for law enforcement. "We've had a year to examine our law and talk to people who work with the law every day," said Hammon. "We have put together some clarifications and simplifications and few language changes in the law."
This Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Arizona's immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. The Arizona legislature passed SB 1070 in April of 2010 and within months, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the State in an attempt to strike down the law.
At issue before the Supreme Court are four sections of SB 1070:
All four of these sections were enjoined by the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals then upheld that injunction.
The House Ways and Means Committee passed by a 22-12 vote key legislation Wednesday that would close a loophole under current tax law that allows illegal aliens to collect the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The ACTC is a refundable credit that allows individuals with three or more children to reduce their federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each child who meets certain criteria.
Currently, illegal aliens are eligible for this credit because the IRS only requires applicants for the ACTC to provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Last year, the Inspector General for the U.S. Treasury Department released a report revealing that illegal aliens annually receive $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits, primarily through the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).
But during last week's committee hearing, the Ways and Means Committee voted to close this tax credit loophole by requiring that individuals who claim the ACTC provide a valid Social Security Number (SSN).
The ACTC amendment is now part of a budget reconciliation proposal that will go to the House Budget Committee for inclusion in a larger package aimed at saving tax-payer dollars. While passage in the House seems likely, the bill's prospects in the Senate are uncertain.
WASHINGTON – For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.
Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.
The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, www.dcwg.org, that will inform them whether they're infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won't be able to connect to the Internet.
Most victims don't even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.
Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to take down a hacker ring that had been running an Internet ad scam on a massive network of infected computers.
"We started to realize that we might have a little bit of a problem on our hands because ... if we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service," said Tom Grasso, an FBI supervisory special agent. "The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get `page not found' and think the Internet is broken."
On the night of the arrests, the agency brought in Paul Vixie, chairman and founder of Internet Systems Consortium, to install two Internet servers to take the place of the truckload of impounded rogue servers that infected computers were using. Federal officials planned to keep their servers online until March, giving everyone opportunity to clean their computers. But it wasn't enough time. A federal judge in New York extended the deadline until July.
Now, said Grasso, "the full court press is on to get people to address this problem." And it's up to computer users to check their PCs.
This is what happened:
Hackers infected a network of probably more than 570,000 computers worldwide. They took advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system to install malicious software on the victim computers. This turned off antivirus updates and changed the way the computers reconcile website addresses behind the scenes on the Internet's domain name system.
The DNS system is a network of servers that translates a web address - such as www.ap.org - into the numerical addresses that computers use. Victim computers were reprogrammed to use rogue DNS servers owned by the attackers. This allowed the attackers to redirect computers to fraudulent versions of any website.
The hackers earned profits from advertisements that appeared on websites that victims were tricked into visiting. The scam netted the hackers at least $14 million, according to the FBI. It also made thousands of computers reliant on the rogue servers for their Internet browsing.
When the FBI and others arrested six Estonians last November, the agency replaced the rogue servers with Vixie's clean ones. Installing and running the two substitute servers for eight months is costing the federal government about $87,000.
The number of victims is hard to pinpoint, but the FBI believes that on the day of the arrests, at least 568,000 unique Internet addresses were using the rogue servers. Five months later, FBI estimates that the number is down to at least 360,000. The U.S. has the most, about 85,000, federal authorities said. Other countries with more than 20,000 each include Italy, India, England and Germany. Smaller numbers are online in Spain, France, Canada, China and Mexico.
Vixie said most of the victims are probably individual home users, rather than corporations that have technology staffs who routinely check the computers.
FBI officials said they organized an unusual system to avoid any appearance of government intrusion into the Internet or private computers. And while this is the first time the FBI used it, it won't be the last.
"This is the future of what we will be doing," said Eric Strom, a unit chief in the FBI's Cyber Division. "Until there is a change in legal system, both inside and outside the United States, to get up to speed with the cyber problem, we will have to go down these paths, trail-blazing if you will, on these types of investigations."
Now, he said, every time the agency gets near the end of a cyber case, "we get to the point where we say, how are we going to do this, how are we going to clean the system" without creating a bigger mess than before.
Rubio, in two separate events in Washington D.C., said his plan is still being hammered out, and important details – such as the minimum and maximum age of those who would qualify – were yet to be determined.
“We’re involving the DREAMers” in the drafting of the measure, he said, using the term that refers to undocumented youth brought to the country by their parents. “We’re involving the kids themselves.”
Asked by a reporter when it will be introduced in the Senate, Rubio said: “When it’s ready. It won’t be next week.”He said he hopes it gets introduced by summer and passed by fall.
“There are a bunch of kids. . .who want to go to school this fall,” Rubio said at an appearance at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.. “I’m also cognizant that this is an election year,” he added, saying it wouldn’t be easy to get bi-partisan support as the parties vie for elective offices.
Indeed, several Democrats in Congress say they will not back a plan that does not offer a path to citizenship.
Charles A. González, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a press statement: "If the Rubio Plan bars citizenship it would be the first time in modern history that someone has proposed a law that would permanently prohibit citizenship to one segment of American society."
"Earning citizenship is essential because mere legal residency will serve only as a life sentence to being relegated to an underclass status. It is against the values of our country to ask DREAMers to work hard, pay taxes and sacrifice their lives for our country, but deny them citizenship."
The number of undocumented youth who would benefit from the DREAM Act has been estimated at between 1 million and 2 million. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States.
Rubio said at different events throughout Thursday in the nation's capital that criticism about his plan creating "a permanent underclass" was "not true."
The senator said that critics who dismiss his plan before it is even finalized are just interested in keeping the inability of undocumented youth to attend college "a political wedge issue," and are not really serious about finding a bipartisan solution.
"The general concept is that [students] would receive the equivalent of a non-immigrant visa, it legitimizes you," he said of his alternate DREAM Act proposal. "It doesn't allow you to to become a resident or citizen, however it doesn't prohibit you from applying."
"There's no limbo" that the students will be stuck in under his plan, he said. "The limbo is what they're in now."
Rubio often invoked the name of Daniela Peláez, a Florida high school student who is graduating as valedictorian and has been accepted to some of the nation’s top schools, but who was facing deportation (she won a two-year reprieve recently).
He said youth like Daniela should be allowed to obtain a non-immigrant visa, which would allow them to study, work, and get a driver’s license, but not grant them permanent residency. Perhaps, Rubio said, they could obtain visas that last five, or ten years, and maybe they’d be able to renew them.
"Daniela has been raised here her whole life," Rubio said. "She grew up in our public schools, did everything her parents asked of her, everything her teachers asked of her."
If they want to stay in the United States, they would have to apply like everyone else around the world, he said, and wait their turn, possibly back in their homeland. Rubio's plan also would not call on states to charge in-state tuition rates to undocumented students -- now many of them are charged out-of-state tuition, which can be twice as high -- nor would it give them access to financial aid.
“We want to make sure we don’t do anything that rewards illegal immigration,” he said.
A Fox News Latino poll this year showed that nearly 90 percent of the more than 1,000 Latino likely voters surveyed nationwide support the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the country as minors to legalize their status if they attend college or serve in the military, among other things.
The Hispanic Leadership Network, which describes itself as a "centrist-right" organization, commissioned a survey on voters' attitudes about Rubio's alternative to a DREAM Act and reports that 83-12 percent of respondents support "allowing children of undocumented immigrants who have been here for years to obtain legal residency status after their honorable discharge from service in the U.S. military."
HLN says its survey also showed that by 67 to 29 percent, American voters support "allowing children of undocumented immigrants who have been here for years to obtain legal residency status if they graduate from college."
The general concept is that [students] would receive the equivalent of a non-immigrant visa, it legitimizes you. . .It doesn't allow you to to become a resident or citizen, however it doesn't prohibit you from applying.
Marcus Robinson's death sentence was vacated after a judge ruled race was a factor in prosecutors' exclusion of potential black jurors during the trial.
• Marcus Robinson was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in 1994
• A judge calls race "a significant factor" in his death sentence and vacates it
• The Racial Justice Act bars executions "sought or obtained on the basis of race"
• District attorneys blast actions against the death penalty "masked as claims racism"
CNN) -- A North Carolina judge set aside the death sentence of a convicted killer after concluding Friday that race played a role in the case, a landmark ruling that may call into question a number of death row cases in the state.
The ruling by Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks, the first under the state's controversial Racial Justice Act, means that 38-year-old Marcus Robinson now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Robinson, who is black, was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994.
At the center of the judge's ruling is a finding that prosecutors across the state participated in the practice of excluding potential black jurors.
"Robinson introduced a wealth of evidence showing the persistent, pervasive and distorting role of race in jury selection throughout North Carolina," Weeks wrote in his ruling.
"The evidence, largely unrebutted by the State, requires relief in his case and should serve as a clear signal of the need for reform in capital jury selection proceedings in the future."
Weeks did not question whether the crime was committed by Robinson, who was convicted of killing a white, 17-year-old teen -- Erik Tornblom.
Passed by the state Legislature and signed into law in 2009, the Racial Justice Act states "no person shall be subject to or given a sentence of death, or shall be executed pursuant to any judgment that was sought or obtained on the basis of race."
Under the law, those with death sentences can appeal by using statistical analysis to prove race played a role in how their case was handled.
The cornerstone of Robinson's appeal is a Michigan State University study of jury selection in North Carolina in 1994, the time during which Robinson was sentenced, that found prosecutors struck blacks from juries at a rate of more than 2-to-1 compared with whites.
In the ruling, Weeks found that not only did prosecutors across the state intentionally use the race of a potential juror as a significant factor in decisions to exercise preemptory challenges -- the practice of striking somebody from a jury without explanation, but that the practice occurred in Robinson's case.
The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys strongly disputed that race had anything to do with death sentences in effect across the state.
"While we respectfully disagree with Judge Weeks, we are not surprised by his ruling," the group said in a written statement.
The group has been opposed to the Racial Justice Act, saying that cases should not be decided by generalized statistics presented years after a conviction.
"Capital cases reflect the most brutal and heinous offenders in our society. Whether the death penalty is an appropriate sentence for murderers should be addressed by our lawmakers in the General Assembly, not masked as claims (of) racism in our courts," the statement said.
Robinson is among 157 death row inmates -- 83 blacks, 63 whites and 12 other ethnicities -- who filed appeals under the Racial Justice Act, according to records from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
The NAACP in North Carolina, meanwhile, expressed their sympathies to the family of Robinson's victim, while lauding the ruling.
"We take this moment to remind prosecutors and their staffs that the Racial Justice Act mentions the idea of training program, to help weed out racial bias as they exercise their broad discretion in capital cases," said the Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the NAACP in North Carolina.
"We encourage the Association of District Attorneys to take advantage of such training to drain some of the unconscious and conscious racial bias out of our courthouses."
After Friday's ruling, Robinson's mother Shirley Burnes told CNN affiliate WTVD that her son expected Friday's decision "because it was true facts, and that's it."
She said she understood that the ruling could make way for other such successful appeals in North Carolina.
"This has been a hard long journey," Burnes said. "And there are others out there who will be affected by this."
Facebook has issued a statement explained why it is supporting the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) HR 3523, which is currently being considered by Congress.
CISPA would set up a mechanism for the government's security services to share information on new threats with private companies and utilities. In return, those companies can share data on their users with the government if requested, and the bill ensures they are bulletproof from legal fallout if people complain. Data sharing is voluntary and some data can be stripped of identifying features.
But internet rights campaigners are concerned that the loose language of the legislation will leave it open to be used in a much wider context than national online security. Dan Auerbach, staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told The Register that the provisions of the bill could be stretched to include sharing data for crimes like piracy.
"The biggest problem with the bill is that it's too vague," he explained. "The language in it now is broad enough that it could be used to allow, or compel companies, to do copyright enforcement."
He explained that while the information exchange was voluntary, the government is adept at encouraging companies to play ball. Access to lucrative federal contracts could be offered to those who are willing to cooperate and compliance might be written into such contracts. It's a pattern of behavior that's been noted before, he said.
The bill will be debated in the US House of Representatives this month, and has attracted over 100 co-sponsors. There's also an impressive list of technology companies lining up to support CISPA, including Microsoft, Intel, EMC, Oracle and Facebook. Facebook is the only company to respond to El Reg's requests for comment, and then it stuck to a general statement.
"HR 3523 would impose no new obligations on us to share data with anyone – and ensures that if we do share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today,' said Facebook's Joel Kaplan, vice president of US public policy in a statement on the site.
"We recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place."
Facebook's support was seen as important in persuading legislators to drop the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws, along with the market and lobbying muscle of Google. The Chocolate Factory isn't listed as a supporter of the legislation and it has not replied to requests for comment.
A committee staffer working on the bill told The Register that the provisions of the bill were open to amendment and that talks are ongoing between civil liberties groups and the bill's sponsors that would clear up many of the issues. A series of amendments will be introduced next week, which should allay concerns over the scope of CISPA.
In particular, the staffer said that there is a provision within CISPA that explicitly bans the government from insisting on getting information on customers in exchange for security information, and any exchange would be absolutely voluntary. There is also no provision for the data to be used just for intellectual property theft, and the IP clauses in the bill had been included were intended to go after overseas players going after military or commercial data via network hacking, not file sharers.
"They're not looking for some kid in the Dallas suburbs hacking into his school to change his grade," the staffer said. "This is about foreign intelligence services and organized crime figures from overseas."
When I said recently that President Obama has a habit of not being truthful about his immigration record, an angry Obama supporter demanded that I give specifics.
We can add a few more to the list thanks to an interview that Obama recently gave to talk show host Fernando Espuelas of Univision Radio. When Espuelas noted the criticism that the president has received from Latinos for failing to deliver immigration reform, Obama bristled.
"Well look," he said. "I think it is important for everybody to remember that I have been four square behind comprehensive immigration reform from the time I was a U.S. senator to my election as president and today. So, the issue has never been my full-throated support for comprehensive immigration reform."
False. Obama tends to forget that, while in the Senate, he supported — at the behest of organized labor — a "poison pill" amendment intended to kill bipartisan attempts at comprehensive immigration reform. And, as president, he failed to make reform a top priority, as he promised Latinos he would.
Obama went on: "The challenge is to get it passed through Congress, which is ultimately who has to pass this law. We have strong support from the majority of Democrats. We have no support from Republicans."
False. Obama may have support from a majority of Democrats in Congress, but it doesn’t appear to be "strong" support. For the four years that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, from January 2007 to January 2011, comprehensive immigration reform was never a priority. Back then, Republicans were driving the agenda.
The president also said: "You’ve got some of the leading Republican candidates for president saying they would veto the DREAM Act, and members of Congress telling the same line. We couldn’t get any Republican votes for the DREAM Act when it came up a couple of years ago."
False. In December 2010, when Congress last took up the legislation that would give undocumented youth legal status if they joined the military or went to college, three Republican senators — Richard Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Bennett of Utah — voted in favor of cloture to move the bill to a full vote. Lugar, in fact, was a co-sponsor of the bill.
Obama said: "My hope is that after this election, partly because of a strong Latino vote, a message will be sent that we need to, once again, be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, that we’ve got to be respectful of folks who are here, who are doing the right thing, trying to raise their families, often times have kids who were born here in the United States, and they need to be given a chance, a pathway, so that they can have a strong legal status in this country."
. Obama has nerve talking about being "respectful" to immigrant families given that his administration has divided tens of thousands of them. According to a recent report by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, more than 46,000 parents with U.S.-born children were deported in the first half of 2011.
Finally, the president ended with: "And DREAM Act kids to me should be a no brainer. ... I think for us to give them a path to earn citizenship is the right thing to do. And so, my hope is that after the election, we will have a different assessment on the part of Republicans, and they will understand that not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also in their political interest to get on the right side of this issue."
False. Let’s get real. Republicans are never going to conclude it’s "in their political interest" to give undocumented students citizenship because it means also giving them the right to vote. And those students would likely exercise this right by voting Republicans out of office for the next 50 years.
Besides, the president never mentions the five Democratic senators who, during the debate over the DREAM Act, voted against cloture and thus helped kill the bill: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana.
In trying to be both hawkish and humane on immigration, Obama has a problem telling the truth on the subject. And that’s no lie.
By ruben navarrette: Salt lake Tribune
Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school are furious after educators first removed the word ‘God’ from the popular Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” and then pulled the song all together from an upcoming concert.
Fox 25 in Boston is reporting that children at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham were told to sing, “We love the U.S.A.” instead of “God Bless the U.S.A.”
After parents started complaining, school officials removed the song from the school assembly concert. The school’s principal released a statement to Fox 25 stating they hope to ”maintain the focus on the original objective of sharing students’ knowledge of the U.S. States, and because of logistics, will not include any songs.”
Greenwood released a statement to Fox News condemning the school’s actions.
“The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title ‘God Bless The USA,” Greenwood said. “Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course, would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song.”
Greenwood said the phrase “God Bless the USA” has a “very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming into our country.” He said it’s also played at every naturalization ceremony behind the national anthem.
“If the song is good enough to be played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children,” Greenwood said.
An online poll taken by the television station indicated more than 80 percent of viewers were outraged by removing God from the song.
“I don’t have a problem with the song if somebody else does I guess it’s there business,” resident Patrick Grudier said. “I mean It’s on our currency (God).”
But not everyone agreed – including parent Matthew Cote.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing the song,” he told the television. “It’s a public school. If you want to have the word God in the song, go to a private school.”
Reaction on Facebook has been overwhelmingly in favor of the traditional patriotic song.
“Here we go again, more war on Christianity,” wrote one Facebook user. “You can remove God all you want, but the good news — there is still a loving God and He lives.”
Another Facebook user called it sad and disgusting. “I’d like to say unbelievable — but it is so totally believable.”
LEE GREENWOOD’S STATEMENT
“Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song. The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title God Bless The USA. We can’t take God out of the song, we can’t take God out of The Pledge of Allegiance, we can’t take God off of the American currency. Let us also remember, the phrase God Bless the USA has a very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming to our Country. The song is played at every naturalization ceremony behind The National Anthem. If the song is good enough to played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children.” – Lee Greenwood
Miami, Fla.- Congressman David Rivera announced today that he will file the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act.
The bill will allow undocumented immigrants who are 18 years and 6 months of age or younger, arrived in the United States before the age of 16, and have maintained residence in the United States for at least the previous five consecutive years, the opportunity to adjust their residency status if they achieve a degree from an accredited four year institution of higher education and meet certain other criteria.
Congressman Rivera was inspired to develop the STARS Act by Daniela Pelaez, an 18 year old constituent who is the valedictorian of her high school class while also facing deportation proceedings. Daniela was brought to the United States by her parents at age four without documentation.
“Daniela Pelaez is a star student. Her dedication to her school work has taken her to the top of her class at North Miami Senior High School. She has already been accepted to the University of Florida and is awaiting acceptance letters from schools like Yale. However, while Daniela should be preparing for graduation and her future academic pursuits, she is instead concerned about possibly being deported,” Congressman Rivera said.
“Under current law when a long-term U.S. resident who entered the country as a child, and does not have legal status, turns 18 years and 6 months of age, they begin to accumulate penalty time, which leads to prohibitions from reentering the country for years. Even if they are accepted into a four year college or university, they may still face deportation or be prohibited from coming back to the United States.
“The Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status, or STARS Act, would give these students who seek to further their education an opportunity to get a degree at an American university and earn legal status.
“However, the STARS Act does not ensure automatic suspension of removal or automatic residency. This legislation very specifically focuses on students who have been accepted to four year colleges and universities and have not yet accrued penalty time. STARS Act applicants must show good moral character and graduate with a degree from an accredited four year institution of higher learning to then be eligible for legal status. Likewise, if the applicant fails to meet the necessary criteria, their conditional non-immigrant status will be revoked.
“This bill provides an opportunity for young people, like Daniela, who have established long-standing ties in the United States, and who have excelled academically, an opportunity to fulfill their goals of getting an education and achieving the American dream.”