Atlanta, Ga. – Agricultural and restaurant business leaders say Arizona-style laws aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration threaten their industry.
They're appealing to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform to avert what they describe as a crisis.
Our immigration system is broken; it can only be fixed at the federal level. We urge Congress to immediately address this issue that is so important for jobs and for our business community.
- Larry Wooten, President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau
The leaders took part Monday in what was billed as the first immigration summit in the Southeast, where agricultural businesses are prevalent and where an increasing number of immigrants -- many undocumented -- have settled in the last decade.
The summit, titled "Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America," drew nearly 200 business owners, farmers, clergy, political leaders and police from such states as Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee as well as Georgia, the site of the gathering.
“Agriculture is a very labor-intensive industry," said Larry Wooten, president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. "Farmers across the nation want — and need — an adequate, legal work force. Our immigration system is broken; it can only be fixed at the federal level. We urge Congress to immediately address this issue that is so important for jobs and for our business community.”
Wooten told the audience that states must not have their own immigration laws because it is a complex matter as necessary for the federal government to take control over as are things such as "managing our military or our money supply."
He said agriculture is a $70 billion industry, with more than one million workers, of whom nearly 75 percent are undocumented.
He balked at the assertion by proponents of strict immigration enforcement that businesses that heavily employ undocumented workers are simply choosing to exploit cheap labor.
Many proponents of strict immigration laws say that Americans will do jobs they are accused of refusing to do if employers pay better wages and make more of an effort to make those jobs appealing. Such proponents are firmly opposed to immigration measures that would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to legalization; they condemn that as "amnesty."
Wooten, as well as others in the farming business who attended the summit, argued that there are jobs Americans do not want to do, and that agricultural jobs are chief among them.He said that agricultural employers who advertise jobs -- as is required for those who are part of the federal guest worker program -- for nearly two months get little to no response.
"We have no choice," Wooten said. "We must use immigrants."
Tim Rabon, human resources manager for a family farming business in South Carolina that, like others in the industry, heavily relies on immigrant workers, said in an interview with Fox News Latino that his company advertised work in Mississippi for six weeks and got 15 responses.
"Some people just didn't qualify, even though harvesting is not 'highly skilled' labor. It is very specialized and you need to be really skilled," Rabon said. "It's very hard work. Those who did qualify didn't last long -- they just quit. The person who lasted the longest stayed on the job five days before quitting. Why did they quit? They said the work is just too hard."
He said tougher immigration laws -- or the prospect of a state adopting a tough immigration law -- have scared away many immigrants, including some workers and prospective employees.
As recently as three years ago, he said, his farm company -- which harvests greens, such as collard and kale -- had no trouble attracting about 20 people a week looking for work.
Now, they barely get one or two people, he said, because so many immigrants have fled the state or are afraid to seek employment.
Rabon says his company has been in farming 85 years, and makes sure to check employment eligibility documents when considering hiring someone. They have about 120 employees, he said.
"If someone presents documents that appear valid, we have to accept them," he said.
Summit organizers hope to hold such gatherings around the country to build up momentum for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which would include tighter, more focused enforcement as well as a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants who meet a strict set of criteria.
The summit was held as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue a decision on Arizona's law, SB 1070, which is aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration by criminalizing it. The U.S. Department of Justice, which brought a lawsuit challenging the law, argues that it usurps federal authority on immigration. The Supreme Court ruling, expected by the end of June, is expected to influence whether other states attempt to pass their own immigration laws.
More than 30 states considered new laws targeting illegal immigration last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of them were modeled after Arizona's Senate Bill 1070.
Census figures show that Hispanics -- who now are the nation's largest minority group, at 48 million -- contributed more to population gains than blacks in 13 of the 16 Southern states over the last decade, compared with seven states for Hispanics from 1990-2000.
Tensions -- over immigration, measures proposing English as the official language -- have arisen along with the growth of Latino presence in these Southern states.
"The Department of Justice is challenging Arizona’s law, arguing that it is intruding on the federal government’s exclusive authority to make and enforce immigration laws," said former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served under President George W. Bush and was the summit's keynote speaker. "But with authority comes also responsibility, and our national leaders have failed us. It's time for our federal officials to step up, show leadership and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
There are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Roughly half are people who enter legally, but overstay their visas.
According to the New York Times, New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.
The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.
The Bloomberg administration has championed a series of aggressive regulations, including bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food and a requirement for health inspection grades to be posted in restaurant windows, along with calorie count for menu items.
Mayor Bloomberg's heavy-handed efforts to promote healthy living are nothing new. He's already taken on many of life's most enjoyable vices, including smoking, salt, alcohol, and trans-fats. The Bloomberg administration had made previous, unsuccessful efforts to make soda consumption less appealing. The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in Albany, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas, but the idea was rejected by federal regulators.
When the mayor imposed his ban on smoking I made this comment in an article in Jornal:
These crusaders take small bites, eating away, bit by little bit, our right to decide these questions for ourselves. If the Mayor can tell a restaurant not to put trans fat in the meal it serves, what is to prevent him from prescribing the size of the portions they serve? Rather than putting a label on food spelling out the calories, the dietitian-in-Chief can ram through a law setting a legal limit on the size of portion the restaurant is allowed to serve.
When the mayor pushed through a ban on the use of Trans fat in restaurant food he said the ban is “not going to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food they want. . . . We are just trying to make food safer.” It’s for our own good. But who appointed the Mayor director of menu development and dietitian-in-chief? This is utterly tyrannical. First it was Trans fat, then cigarette smoke and now sodas.
Even so called good foods can put our health at risk. And the only way to control our intake is to limit the portions we consume. Does this mean that nanny Bloomberg will soon be after the food on our kitchen table?
Going to college seemed inconceivable when Adriana Sanchez, the 12-year-old daughter of farm workers, was brought from Mexico to Central California and the family overstayed their visas. Even though Sanchez excelled in high school, she was in the country illegally, lacked a Social Security number and work permit, and didn't qualify for financial aid. But she volunteered hundreds of hours and paid her way through college and graduate school with a dozen internships. Now 24, Sanchez graduated last week from California State University, Fresno with a master's degree in International Relations, a full-time job and no loans to repay. Using a gray area in federal law, she works as an independent contractor.
"For most undocumented students, you have to put yourself out there. You volunteer, you go beyond what regular students do," Sanchez said. "That's what connects us to opportunities. Now employers call me." With thousands of young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children now holding college degrees, Sanchez and others are finding creative ways to get around the legal roadblocks and find a career. They are getting work experience, opening businesses and seeking professional licenses in their fields.
The Associated Press interviewed about two dozen such graduates across the country. Some, like many legal graduates, are struggling in a grim economy. But others do highly-skilled work, though not always in their professions. Many are "out" about their status despite the risk of deportation; a few asked not to be identified for fear it could cost them their jobs or alert immigration authorities.
"There's a pool of talented young people who in their hearts believe they're American, because they're raised and educated here, speak fluent English and have a level of education that equals or surpasses that of average Americans," said Roberto Gonzales, a University of Chicago sociology professor who has collected data on hundreds of such young adults. "Our colleges don't teach them to be undocumented immigrants."
The growth in young illegal immigrants with college degrees is spurred by demographics children who crossed the border with their parents are coming of age and by laws granting illegal immigrants in-state tuition, Gonzales said. Eleven years ago, California and Texas passed such laws, followed by a dozen other states. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are enrolled in colleges or have graduated; schools don't collect such data. But in 2010, an estimated 96,000 young adults without legal status held at least an associate's degree or higher, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.
What motivated them, Sanchez said, was hope for the passage of federal legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and attended college. But 11 years later, the DREAM Act the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors measure is in political gridlock. Some graduates who are here illegally defer going into the workplace by getting another advanced degree, including the Ph.D., according to interviews. Others leave the country. Others work under the table in low wage jobs, still hoping for immigration reform.
But many, like Sanchez who once dreamed of a career with the U.S. Department of State are driven to find meaningful work without papers.
Although federal law prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, it does not require those who hire independent contractors to ask for proof of immigration status. As a result, the client who pays for services is not necessarily breaking the law even if the contractor isn't authorized to work in the United States, said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a law professor at Cornell Law School. And while self-employed illegal immigrants still violate immigration law, they may avoid additional grounds for deportation if they don't present counterfeit documents, Yale-Loehr said.
Sanchez consults full-time for a Fresno-area education nonprofit, and teaches literacy and English at an adult school and a domestic violence shelter. But she lives with major frustration. Her parents, who have been crossing the border to work in the fields since the 1970's, are legal residents and her oldest brother is a U.S. citizen through marriage, but it would take years for Sanchez to get a green card through them and pursue her dream of becoming a diplomat."I'm here, I have this education and all these aspirations," she said. "I could do so much more, but I can't."Other illegal immigrant graduates are pursuing professional licenses in fields such as law and nursing.
Courts in California and Florida are considering cases involving two law school graduates who passed their state bars to determine whether they should be allowed to get licenses to practice law in those states. Both graduates are illegally in this country after being brought here as children. While such legal issues play out, Cesar Vargas a CUNY School of Law graduate who entered the country illegally when he was 5 years old passed the New York bar exam and opened a legislative lobbying firm, DRM Capitol Group LLC.
"I found out that I can do this and in a legal way," Vargas, 28, said. He recruited several other so-called Dreamers and a U.S. citizen to work with him.Though he once planned to be a prosecutor, he's now contributing to congressional blogs and planning to open a Dreamers' Chamber of Commerce.
"We're creating businesses in media, web design and political campaigning," he said. "It wasn'by choice, but we're challenging the anti-immigration rhetoric that all illegal immigrants steal Americans' jobs. We're creating jobs and we're hiring U.S. citizens."Organizations and industry leaders have stepped up to help graduates without legal status start careers. The Dream Resource Center at UCLA places such graduates at job sites throughout the country via its national internship program called Dream Summer.
San Francisco-based Educators for Fair Consideration, or E4FC, connects graduates with lawyers and Silicon Valley leaders. Mentors such as Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, and Palm Pilot inventor Jeff Hawkins provide financial support, life and legal advice and networking clout. One option they're exploring is getting companies to sponsor graduates for H-1B visas, temporary employment visas for specialty occupations. It has been done in a few cases. But it's risky; the young person has to leave the country and could be barred from returning for ten years.
"We're really looking hard for solutions," Hawkins said. "What else can these kids do? They are desperate. They want to work, they want to practice what they learned in college. What do you tell them? Become an undocumented housekeeper? They have advanced degrees."But critics say those degrees should not mean preferential treatment to legalization.
"They're illegal immigrants, so being a college graduate doesn't make any difference," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that advocates tighter immigration policies. Despite such sentiments, many graduates have come out publicly about their status and formed a nationwide network through social media, marches and conferences.
Experts say a growing number, like Isabel Castillo of Harrisonburg, Va., who was 6 when she was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, have ecome politically active. Castillo, who couldn't use her social work degree from Eastern Mennonite University, waited tables and volunteered with education and immigrant rights groups.
Now, she works full-time advocating for passage of the DREAM Act, leading local rallies, squaring off with Virginia politicians and running local political campaigns."I never thought I'd be doing this, it's very political," she said. "It wasn't part of my interests in college. Now, people are calling me a future congresswoman."
Apparently, Alabama lawmakers felt they hadn't gone far enough last year when they enacted the most draconian immigration law in the nation, which, among other things, required schools to determine the immigration status of their students. Now, the Legislature has revised the law to ensure that it does further damage to the state's reputation and stirs even more fear among Latinos.
Under the revised law, known as HB 658, all undocumented immigrants who appear in court for any violation of state law will find their names published on the official state website, along with the names of the judges assigned to their cases and the dispositions. It's hard to imagine what useful purpose such information might provide other than to shame immigrants and to allow anti-immigrant groups to exert pressure on judges.
Another new provision requires the state's Department of Homeland Security to compile an annual progress report updating the Legislature on how efforts to rid Alabama of illegal immigrants are coming along. That will make little difference in the life of most Alabamians, since less than 2% of the state's residents are believed to be in the country illegally.
The changes came during a special session in which Gov. Robert J. Bentleyhad sought to soften the law by removing some of its worst provisions, several of which have led to federal lawsuits. The Justice Department has already sued the state, as it has Arizona, arguing that the law interferes with the federal government's sole authority to regulate immigration. But state Sen. Scott Beason and state Rep. Micky Hammon chose to ignore the more moderate voices, including law enforcement groups and farmers, who rightfully worry that the law is harming, not helping, the state. Those fears are well-founded. Since the law was passed, growers have reported labor shortages that have led to rotting crops and financial losses.
Sadly, the Alabama Legislature once again proved itself incapable of embarrassment. How else can it say the revisions were needed to protect residents and save jobs? The only thing lawmakers and the governor achieved with HB 658 was to add another dark chapter to Alabama's troubled history.
PHOENIX -- As defiant as ever, get-tough Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces a federal court showdown over charges that deputies on his trademark immigration patrols racially profiled Latinos in violation of civil rights law.
After months of negotiations failed to reach a settlement over the allegations, the U.S. Justice Department took the rare step Thursday of suing."We have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities," assistant U.S. attorney general Thomas Perez said.
Arpaio and his department "have been a glaring exception," said Perez, who heads the civil rights division. The main issue that caused talks to break down last month was federal officials' insistence that Arpaio agree to a court-appointed monitor for the department. Arpaio objected, saying it would undermine his authority."I am not going to surrender my office to the federal government," a visibly angry Arpaio said at an afternoon news conference. "I will fight this to the bitter end."
The lawsuit means that a federal judge will decide the escalating, long-standing dispute.The Justice Department, which had been investigating Arpaio on civil rights allegations for more than three years and faced a similar impasse earlier in the investigation, said it was left with no choice but to sue the sheriff to seek the court-appointed monitor it wants to oversee the law enforcement agency.
The DOJ had filed another lawsuit against Arpaio that alleged his office refused to fully cooperate with a request for records and access to jails and employees. It was settled last summer after the office complied.The latest lawsuit comes as part of the DOJ's effort to enforce a law passed after the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality case and the Los Angeles riots. It bans police from systematically violating constitutional rights.
Normally, settlements are filed in court as part of lawsuits that aren't contested by the police agencies. Since the law's passage, federal officials said that only once before has the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a police department with which they were unable to reach an agreement. In 1999, they filed a lawsuit against Columbus, Ohio, police, but the two sides eventually settled, Perez said.
The DOJ first leveled the allegations against Arpaio in December, saying a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights prevailed at his office, which covers the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Arpaio's office is accused of punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish and launching some patrols based on complaints that never reported a crime but conveyed concerns about dark-skinned people congregating or speaking Spanish.
The DOJ has been trying to require Arpaio's office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and assure Latinos that the department is there to protect them. One of the examples cited in the lawsuit was a Latino woman who is a U.S. citizen and was five months pregnant when she was stopped as she pulled into her driveway.
When the woman refused to sit on the hood of a car as the officer insisted, the deputy pulled her arms behind her back, slammed her stomach-first into the vehicle three times and dragged her to his patrol car, the lawsuit said. He shoved her into the back seat and made her wait about 30 minutes without air conditioning. Eventually, the woman was cited for failure to provide proof of insurance, but the matter was resolved when she gave such proof to a court, the lawsuit said.
Among the other allegations was that sheriff's supervisors used county accounts to send emails that demeaned Latinos, such as one that had a photo of a mock driver's license for a fictional state called "Mexifornia." The lawsuit also said Arpaio and his office filed criminal cases and lawsuits against critics. "Nobody is above the law, and nobody can misuse the legal process to silence those with different opinions," Perez said.
The lawsuit mentioned hundreds of sex-crime cases that Arpaio's office either failed to adequately investigate or didn't investigate at all over a three-year period ending in 2007. The sheriff's office said the backlog was cleared up after the problem was brought to Arpaio's attention.
"Faced with such an increase in crime and the risk of harm presented by unaddressed sexual assaults, a law enforcement agency ordinarily would be expected to prioritize more serious offenses, such as crimes of sexual violence, over less serious offenses, such as low-level immigration offenses," the lawsuit said.
Arpaio said the Obama administration brought the lawsuit as a way to court Latino voters in a presidential election year. "They want to send a message that they are taking on the sheriff," Arpaio said. Justice Department officials said its investigation of Arpaio's office took longer than they wanted because Arpaio refused to provide records and access to his jails for 18 months.
The sheriff has demanded that the Justice Department provide facts to prove its allegations. Federal officials have said a 22-page letter sent to Arpaio in December provided those details. Arpaio is a national political fixture who built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents and dressing them in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime.
Along the way, he aggressively pushed for a stronger role for local police to enforce immigration law, launching 20 patrols looking for illegal immigrants since January 2008. During the patrols, deputies flood an area of a city -- in some cases, heavily Latino areas -- over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other suspected offenders. Over the last three years, he raided 58 businesses suspected of breaking a state law by knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
Lydia Guzman, leader of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto, said the federal lawsuit will go a long way toward convincing the public that Arpaio is abusing his power. "The reason he has been digging in his heels is because he doesn't want this to come out," she said. "Once we're in trial and it all comes out, it will be an opportunity for all of this to be exposed. The voters will see it."
Two of the three suspects arrested for murdering, dismembering and eating their victims in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco made a home movie of their crimes, including cannibalism scenes, media reports said.
Jorge Beltrao Negromonte da Silveira, a 51-year-old actor, writer, musician and martial arts instructor, and his wife, Isabel Cristina Pires da Silveira, 50, made a 53-minute home movie titled "Espirito."
The couple is under arrest in Garanhuns, a city about 234 kilometers (145 miles) from Recife, the capital of Pernambuco.
The movie, which may have been made several years ago, tells the story of "Hellen," a woman tormented by the ghost of her husband, played by an actor named Emanuel Silveira, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on its Web site.
Investigators have not yet figured out whether the scenes are real or fictional in the movie, whose production date has not been determined, Folha de Sao Paulo said.
The couple and 25-year-old Bruna Cristina Oliveira da Silva, who was identified as Negromonte da Silveira's mistress and lived with them, told police they consumed victims' remains and made turnovers from human flesh that they sold in the city.
The three suspects told investigators they belonged to a cult that received orders from a "voice" to eliminate "bad" women.
The suspects confessed to murder, cannibalism and taking part in grisly rituals during questioning by police, and some details were released at a press conference Friday by the officer leading the investigation, Democrito de Oliveira.
Police found the remains of two women buried in the yard of the couple's house, which was torched by angry neighbors last Thursday.
Investigators suspect that a 5-year-old girl found at the house may be the daughter of Jessica Camila da Silva Pereira, a 17-year-old who disappeared in 2008 and may be a third victim in the case.
Negromonte da Silveira became a person of interest for investigators after he identified himself as the author of a 2009 book, "Revelations of a Schizophrenic," in which he reveals details of the supposed sect's activities.
The three suspects may have been involved in at least five other murders in Pernambuco, police said.
A federal appeals court says illegal immigrants don't have a right to own firearms under the U.S. Constitution.
Emmanuel Huitron-Guizar of Wyoming pleaded guilty to being an illegal immigrant in possession of firearms after his arrest last year. He was ordered held by immigration authorities at the Natrona County Detention Center in Wyoming.
An attorney for Huitron-Guizar appealed the case, saying illegal immigrants are not excluded from possessing firearms like felons and people who are mentally ill, and should have the same rights as U.S. citizens to buy a gun for hunting and protection.
The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Monday that illegal immigrants have only limited protection under the Constitution. The court said:
Congress may have concluded that illegal aliens, already in probable present violation of the law, simply do not receive the full panoply of constitutional rights enjoyed by law-abiding citizens. Or that such individuals, largely outside the formal system of registration, employment, and identification,are harder to trace and more likely to assume a false identity.
Or Congress may have concluded that those who show a willingness to defy our law are candidates for further misfeasance or at least a group that ought not be armed when authorities seek them.
The law applies with equal force to those who entered yesterday and those who, like Mr. Huitron-Guizar, were carried across the border as a toddler.
The bottom line is that crime control and public safety are indisputably “important” interests.
Nothing is this opinion purports to express an opinion on the Second Amendment rights of lawfully present aliens, yet we note that, since 1998, under this same statute, even those admitted on non-immigrant visas (usually issued to visitors for business or pleasure) are prohibited from having firearms and ammunition unless they secure a special waiver or happen to be hunters or diplomatic or law-enforcement officials here on business.
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.