White House Formally Answers The Deport Bieber Petition… And It’s Lame

Talk about one really lame response. Today the White House officially answered a viral We The People petition to deport Canada’s Justin Bieber. We won’t share the whole response (you can read it here), but we will share this:

deportbieber

The We the People terms of participation state that, “to avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.”

So we’ll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case, but we’re glad you care about immigration issues. Because our current system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and 11 million people are living in the shadows.

That status quo isn’t good for our economy or our country. We need common-sense immigration reform to make sure everyone plays by the same set of rules.

Not only is it the right thing to do morally, it’s the right thing for our country: Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next 20 years. For those of you counting at home, that’s 12.5 billion concert tickets — or 100 billion copies of Mr. Bieber’s debut album.

You better believe it.

Meanwhile, the White House has no problem addressing Mr. Bieber’s case, but doesn’t want to address very specific questions about hunger strikers right in front of the White House protesting an end to the separation of families.

So in summary:

A Canadian pop star at least gets a response, albeit a lame one, while real people facing immigration realities every day get nothing.

Got it.

President Obama Addresses Immigration Reform Debate (VIDEO)

Today in a press conference, President Obama took two questions from Maria Peña of La Opinión about the immigration reform debate:

Did Peña’s second question even get answered?

White House Avoids Record Deportation Issue and Just Blames Congress

If anyone can figure out the spin that White House’s Cecilia Muñoz is trying to weave in her interview with Fusion’s Leon Krauze, please let us know. Here is the full video of what Muñoz had to say about the latest in the whole immigration debate:

Read more here at Fusion.

Our take, the White House doesn’t get it: Don’t lead. Just blame others. As for Muñoz’s comments? They lack compassion or humanity. Just be political and spin a tale that makes no sense in the Latino court of public opinion. Meanwhile, a hunger strike by immigration activists continues right outside the area where Krauze interviewed Muñoz:

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And, as suspected, most of our community understands that the White House is just playing y’all right now:

 

“Total cop out. If states like AZ can do whatever they want with undocumented immigrants, then the President surely can. Ask George W. Bush for some advice Obama.”

Then there is this:

We know that the GOP is to blame, but Muñoz’s spin comments are out of touch as well. The White House is making a huge miscalculation if it thinks Latino voters will come out during the midterm elections just because the Obama Administration is blaming the GOP. Muñoz’s comments were purely political in nature. It’s time for a little bit more humanity. A promise was made. Act on it, Mr. President.

WATCH: Why President Obama Needs to Change Direction of His Immigration Legacy

Just watch.

You can learn more at obamalegacy.com

Democrats Continue to Get Played by Republicans in Immigration Debate

Let’s be real for a second: the Republican Party does not care about comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). With all the promises and principles made this year, in the end, every indication from the GOP leadership confirms that it shows no desire to progress on CIR and all the tweets, Facebook posts, newspaper articles, columns and calls to pressure the GOP have gone (and will go) nowhere.

When you deal with a party that is so out of touch with the American people on immigration, the only solution is to vote them out. We get that, as much as certain critics (specifically, a trolling national radio host from DC who continues to misrepresent our views on Twitter) think we do not.

Nonetheless, the constant blaming on just one party has done very little. The GOP is setting itself up for failure because they don’t believe that the growing demographic (read: read U.S. Latino vote) in the electorate will have any impact on them. As a short-term strategy, the GOP is right. It might do very well in 2014 mid-term elections (Latino turnout is still not strong), but Republicans’ long-term goals are already in jeopardy. All because of its failure to see how much of a heart-string issue immigration is to U.S. Latino voters.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

Take the case of yesterday’s House vote on the ENFORCE Act, another symbolic attempt to ignore the immigration issue. According to the fabulous Elise Foley of the HuffPost, “The ENFORCE Act, which passed 233 to 181, isn’t about immigration exclusively. Instead, it goes after Obama for alleged overreach on a variety of issues, including Obamacare, education and drug laws. The bill would allow Congress to sue the executive branch for allegedly failing to enforce the law, and it could lead to the dismantling of a key policy protecting some undocumented immigrants.”

Then there is this from Foley’s piece:

“We have seen a pattern: President Obama circumvents Congress when he doesn’t get his way,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on the House floor in support of the bill. “But the Constitution does not confer upon the president the executive authority to disregard the separation of powers and rewrite acts of Congress based on his policy preferences.”

Before everyone begins to say, “I told you so,” let’s pause for a second and remind people a few things:

  1. The current Republican-controlled House doesn’t care about immigration. All the screaming and pressure in the world won’t change that fact. People who really think they know about immigration believe that if Latino activists focused solely on the GOP, all would change. FYI, that was the strategy in 2013, and so far it hasn’t. Like we always tell those who come after us for daring to raise the issue that Democrats are at fault as well: The Republicans don’t care about immigration. They won’t act on it. They aren’t listening. What will you do now? Wait until November, or speak out against 1,100 deportations a day while you wait until November? There’s a reason why you see hunger strikes in Washington state and #BringThemHome actions on the Tijuana-San Diego border.
  2. The ENFORCE Act is going nowhere. Last night, this is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Instead of voting to fix our broken immigration system as the Senate did in June, House Republicans today voted to prevent the President from fixing the problems that are within his constitutional authority to solve. These irresponsible Republican bills are dead on arrival in the Senate. I strongly support the President’s decision to protect DREAMers from deportation. Republicans should try solving problems for a change instead of blocking progress for our nation and making life more difficult for the immigrant community.”
  3. The White House knows the ENFORCE Act is a sham as well. From Jay Carney: ”It is, in my view, in our view, pretty amazing that today House Republicans went in the opposite direction by passing legislation targeting the deferred action for childhood arrivals policy that removed the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children, known as Dreamers.” Carney also questioned whether Republicans even care. They don’t.

So yes, Reid and the White House understand that any push to dismantle DACA would be dumb on the GOP end, and every rational U.S. Latino voter who favors CIR understands that as well. But here is where the Democratic leadership is still vulnerable: They continue to allow the GOP to control the immigration narrative. They would rather react to Republican silliness and blame the GOP, than truly lead and express the views of their constituents.

And to be honest, that needs to stop, and if there is one thing that represents our view, it is this tweet (a quote from Jorge Ramos, which by the way, got some RT love late last night):

Here’s to all the “radicals” who think like us.

So where do we go next? Signs of a passive Democratic approach look like they are changing, and it’s about time they do. Last night, Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo wrote an article about how the Hispanic Congressional Caucus (HCC) is finally taking a stand against the Administration’s pathetic deportation record and also calling Republicans out:

The new language presented at the immigration task force meeting Wednesday asks the president not to deport anyone who would qualify for Senate Bill 744 — the immigration bill — and explicitly mentions expanding deferred action where the first one only hinted at using prosecutorial discretion to slow deportations, a source with knowledge of the updated resolution said.

The idea is that Republicans like Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham voted to make these undocumented immigrants eventual citizens. “People who they’re saying should be citizens tomorrow, should not be deported today,” the source said.

 “People who they’re saying should be citizens tomorrow, should not be deported today.” 

It is an “all-in” moment that would at least show that in the end, the GOP’s interest in CIR was minimal. Such a move by the HCC also aligns with other Democratic senators who are calling for the President to take bolder action on deportations. A little backbone goes a long way.

With this push by Democrats happening, it gives the White House a huge opportunity to make up for its past immigration transgressions. The political cynics in us already sense that all this new messaging by Democrats is the pretext of a move by the President to expand the DACA program to include family members of DREAMers and even very low-priority individuals. The statistics prove that this country oversees a “deportation machine,” and a move towards more deportation relief would be favored by U.S. Latino voters. Such a move would “rally the base,” and with the President’s approval ratings at a record low, a repeat of a DACA-like announcement (remember the boost he got before the 2012 election?) makes sense if the White House is serious about having Democrats so well in the mid-terms. Right now, the truth is, U.S. Latinos are just not that “into you,” Mr. President, when it comes to immigration. It’s really hard to for many U.S. Latino voters to step in line when real stories of families being separated are happening every day.

Because in the end, this isn’t about Beltway politics or election strategies, this is about real human voices and real human stories. Those voices and stories can’t wait until November elections, and they won’t. Our critics will call us “emotional” when we bring that up. We say to them, “This is what our community tells us every day. And we’re listening.” By actually listening and seeing what our world is telling us, change will occur, and if that is not the type of thinking that is conducive to DC, maybe that’s a good thing.

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#Not1More.

BTW, that national radio host whose online behavior two nights ago was quote unbecoming? He has apologized.

Also interesting that all this talk has sent a signal to the President, who appears to finally be listening.

Obama and the GOP Debate Immigration Without Solving It

Tonight during the State of the Union, expect President Obama to make due on his threat to bypass Congress and use Executive fiat to provide more Band-Aids and policy placebos to our immigration problem. Later this week, expect the House Republicans’ outline of immigration “principles” to be an unoriginal and shallow reiteration of the quid pro quo between amnesty/legalization/whatever and border security.

This ongoing immigration debate continues to center on these two conflicting forces. Among the participants are the uncompromising extremes: some on the Left who promote zero deportations and enforcement regardless of an immigrant’s level of criminal activity, and some on the Right who want nothing but enforcement and deportations, again regardless of an immigrant’s level of criminal activity and the practicality of such an endeavor. Between these two extremes lie the victims of a failed immigration system that continues to fester.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

Missing from the debate are members of the third voice—those wanting to address the primary causes of the “broken” immigration system. Those who bring up the issues of bureaucracy, lack of judicial discretion in immigration courts, allocations of non-immigrant visas and our visa system in general. This third voice argues that reforming the actual day-to-day process of obtaining legal access into this country is what will cure the future problems of illegal immigration. However, members of this group are rarely heard in articles, television and politician’s press releases.

The problem is simple: debating visa allocations, guest worker programs and judicial rules are simply not politically “sexy.” They do not ignite the heated passions that “amnesty” and “border security” do. What ignites one’s passion more than the idea of someone receiving unfair favorable treatment simply due to political circumstance? Conversely, what ignites one’s passion more than the idea of a parent being separated from his children by 1,200 miles for several years for committing the (arguably) equivalent of driving without a license? Hence the reason why Senator Ted Cruz talked more about his Gang of 8 amendments regarding border security and citizenship than his amendments addressing immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Talking about those amendments are what get the headlines and appearances on TV, not the reformation of bureaucratic procedure. Nevertheless, the policies of both extremes, if enacted, will fail to solve the issues at hand.

Conservative hardliners, in making their arguments against “amnesty” and/or legalization, continually cite the struggles they themselves or their relatives went through to obtain a work, immigrant, and/or travel visa for the United States. Some cite waiting five, 10, or even 15 years before they obtained a green card, much less citizenship. Others cite how US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) denied a sibling’s travel visa for no apparent reason, or that it took USCIS more than a year to confirm the legitimacy of an immigrant spouse, despite the sponsor being a born US citizen.

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These examples only serve to bolster the argument that our current immigration is in fact broken, to use that tired cliché. The hardliners cannot operate under the illusion that the only cause of our immigration problem is merely a lack of enforcement of current law. Even if all of the estimated “11 million” were removed tomorrow, the myriad of problems described above will continue unabated.

On the opposite end, just as some conservatives are eliminating any pretense of favoring even legal immigration, some progressives are eliminating any pretense of actually wanting to address the flaws in our immigration system. Rather, many are becoming more vocally hostile to any level of enforcement and deportation of individuals, regardless of whether the only crime committed was unauthorized entry, or they have a pages long rap sheet of violent crime. Similar to the hardliner’s “solution,” stopping all deportations at once will not solve the problems facing new immigrants or workers applying for a visa for the first time, or reapplying for their second or third.

It would be the height of naiveté to believe that reform of substantive US immigration law can occur without the inclusion of the quid pro quo. Those issues are key to pushing any legislation forward (or backward, depending on what side you are on). It is the hope that the plights of current and future immigrants are not ignored between the salvos.

***

Samuel A. Rosado, Esq. is an attorney from New Jersey. He served as Executive Director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of New Jersey in 2010, and has been a freelance contributor and writer on Hispanic issues and engagement for Politic365, The Daily Grito, and Misfit Politics. Follow him on twitter at @FakeSamRosado.

VIDEO: President Obama Has Been Talking Immigration at #SOTU for Years Now

Before you catch tonight’s State of the Union…

SOTU

…a reminder.

How to Defend Obama on Deportations

The road to historic immigration reform in the United States is paved daily with the gruesome deportation of about 1,100 immigrants. The vast majority of the deported are Latino. The vast majority of the deported pose no threat to public safety.

Who is to blame? Initially, everybody.

Obama promised immigration reform in his first year of his first term in office. Republicans struck back with poisonous warnings of “anchor babies” and worse to come. Border security was funded and deportations continued at a rate of roughly 1,100 immigrants —mostly Latino, mostly upstanding— per day for the last 5 years. That’s almost 2 million deportations during Obama’s presidency.

Candidate Obama in Springfield, MO, 2008. (CREDIT: Pablo Manriquez)

Candidate Obama in Springfield, MO, 2008. (CREDIT: Pablo Manriquez)

The White House blames Congress (and especially House Republicans) for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. Congress finances deportations is the talking point, and the White House must deliver.

This is mostly true. The machinery of deportations was expensive and unsentimental in Washington long before Obama. To make matters worse, Obama’s presidency began with a national immigrant advocacy community fractured and demoralized from decades of near-misses on comprehensive reform.

Under Obama, the immigrant rights movement has surged in size and influence. Thousands of pro-immigrant marchers on the National Mall were ignored by virtually every politics show on television in 2010. Now the President and First Lady visit a couple of pro-immigrant hunger strikers in a tent on the same National Mall. Every major news network in the country is on hand to cover the story. The immigrant advocacy community is winning under Obama.  He is paying attention.  So is the rest of the country.

Unfortunately up until now, nothing about immigration reform has gone according to plan during Obama’s presidency. Nothing, that is, except deportations and DACA.

In 2012, facing reelection before a Latino voting block losing faith in the White House’s ability to deliver something, anything to immigrants, the White House issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum. The memo offered temporary relief to some undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation. DACA does not offer citizenship to anyone.  It was, however, the country’s first political step on a path to citizenship.

Last Wednesday, Congressman Luis Gutierrez gave the keynote remarks at a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) reception in Washington, D.C.  ”How many of us were delirious when President Obama announced DACA back in June?” he asked a capacity crowd in the Chinese Ballroom at the Mayflower Hotel.

“Now think about how sorrily deficient we were in helping the Dreamers sign up. We didn’t have the structure, and we still reached half-a-million of them. Does anybody really think any president of the United States is going to ever deport any of those five-hundred thousand?”

Gutierrez is mostly right. In June, the structure was hardly present, but now the DACA enrollees are nearly untouchable. They must not leave the country, but they must not be deported either. The same is not the case for the rest of the roughly eleven million undocumented immigrants in the country. They continue deported at a rate of 1,100 per day.

Now many immigrant advocates seek another memo from the White House to expand DACA for more undocumented immigrants. The White House refuses, saying it cannot unilaterally mandate what Congress must decide.

This is still mostly true. The White House can create policy safe havens for undocumented immigrants, but it cannot offer them citizenship without Congress. Citizenship is the prize the White House seeks. It is the only real solution to the crisis of undocumented immigration.

The political calculus is cold. If two million undocumented immigrants are deported, the White House cannot be called weak on enforcement. If citizenship is to remain even nominally on the table, the White House can only defang, not dismantle, the deportation machine. In Washington, this is important. The enforcement lobby has always been better organized than Washington’s immigrant advocacy network, until now.

Latinos for Obama (CREDIT: Pablo Manriqez)

Latinos for Obama (CREDIT: Pablo Manriquez)

“The moment we stop organizing is the moment we lose,” White House Director of Immigration Policy Felicia Escobar told the audience during a panel discussion at the MPI reception. “We’re looking to continue to develop the advocacy world, which really doesn’t take much at this point.”

This is absolutely true. The advocacy community’s opportunity is now. In the past year, the Obama White House’s approval rating among Hispanics has dropped by 23 percentage points, the largest drop in any demographic and about twice Obama’s rate of decline among all voters. Latino voters are unconvinced. Obama needs to do something concrete to show he is still committed to stopping deportations and providing citizenship to the undocumented. And he needs to do it soon.

If deportations have bought immigrant advocates anything, the White House’s next move must be meaningful for undocumented immigrants. The time is now. Two points the immigrant advocacy community can organize and lobby for are

  1. Lead with a Citizenship-only Bill:  We all know that the piecemeal approach to immigration reform proposed by Speaker Boenher will result in an enforcement only bill that passes the House. Citizenship proposals will then be abandoned. This happened in 2010. It will happen again unless the advocacy community convinces the White House to lead a piecemeal approach with a citizenship-only bill. This means refusing to sign any enforcement legislation until a path to citizenship is codified into law. This would give teeth to the White House’s blame Congress talking point.
  2. Expand DACA:  To put some meat on the bones of the “expand DACA” argument advanced by many immigrant advocates requires delineating who else would be eligible for relief in addition to the half-million who now have a reprieve from deportation. As a policy measure, a bold approach would another memorandum to extend DACA to everyone who would be eligible for relief under the Senate immigration bill, which the White House has supported. Some argue this is unrealistic. The truth is that it’s up to the advocacy community to make DACA as broad as it can be for the White House.

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headshot Agree?  Disagree?  Leave a comment or tweet at @vato.

Obama Said What About Immigrants? (VIDEO)

So the following video clip of President Obama speaking at Dreamworks earlier this week has gone viral:

This is the snippet of what he said:

obamadream

As I was getting a tour of DreamWorks, I didn’t ask, but just looking at faces I could tell there were some folks who are here not because they were born here, but because they want to be here. And they bring extraordinary talents to the United States and that’s part of what makes America special.

Excuse us?

He then said this, as the full video shows:

And that’s part of what makes America special. And that’s part of what, by the way, makes California special, because it’s always been this magnet of dreamers and strivers. And people coming from every direction saying to themselves, you know, if I work hard there I can have my piece of the American Dream.

Of course the President recovered, but we just wonder. What if this were Sen. Ted Cruz saying this or even worse, Rep. Steve King? How would people react?

After Obama’s Immigration Pep Rally, Deportations and Arrests Continue