Friday, June 22, 2012

Romney's latest

Mitt Romney on Thursday offered what he called a strategy for “bipartisan and long-term immigration reform” in an address to a convention of Latino elected officials in Florida.

In the speech, which also touched on the economy, Mr. Romney dropped the confrontational tone he took on immigration during the Republican primary. Instead, he promised to work in a series of areas to help immigrants and their families while discouraging people from coming to the country illegally.

An interactive video feature examines how Mitt Romney has had to finesse his position on illegal immigration as he pivots towards the general election.

“Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity as well,” Mr. Romney said. “We can find common ground here, and we must. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity – both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws, and want to come to our shores.”

But Mr. Romney, who has refused to say whether he would overturn a policy announced last week by President Obama that would stop the deportation of some illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children, again sidestepped that question.

“Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive action,”  he said. “The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure.”

Even as he started speaking, Mr. Romney’s campaign released an outline of his plan, which would include giving green cards to immigrants who earn advanced degrees at American universities; providing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants who serve in the military; and cutting red tape.

“As president, I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service,” Mr. Romney said.

The nearly twenty-minute speech was met with tepid applause and moments of pointed silence. He seemed to hit his stride near the middle of his remarks, when he talked about balancing the budget, giving parents a choice of where to send their children to school, and providing a path to legal status for immigrants who have served in the military. At the end, about half the room stood up to applaud.

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, said that the fact that Mr. Romney addressed the conference was a meaningful gesture.   “It was a great speech, I was real impressed with it and I’m glad he came,” Mr. Bush said. “I think he was received respectfully and warmly.”

Democrats criticized Mr. Romney on immigration issues even before the speech was delivered.  In a memo to reporters, Bill Burton, a founder of Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” backing Mr. Obama, wrote that Mr. Romney was attempting to hide his real views on the issue from voters.

“Mitt Romney’s speech in Florida today will be an attempt to cover up the divisive rhetoric and draconian policies he has espoused for years on immigration,” Mr. Burton wrote. “Today’s slick speech will not change the fact that Romney has repeatedly used divisive language to propose an extreme immigration policy.”

The issue of immigration is shaping up as a critical one in the presidential election. Mr. Romney trails President Obama by wide margins among Hispanic voters, a gap which could provide the difference in important swing states like Colorado, Nevada, Florida and Virginia, where Latino populations are growing.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak to the same group on Friday. But for now, the pressure is on Mr. Romney to increase his appeal among Hispanic voters.

Advisers inside and outside Mr. Romney’s campaign have urged him to shape a positive message to Hispanics on immigration and dispel the harsh image he created during the primaries.

“Ultimately what we’re talking about here is the tone is what has hurt Republicans in the past, not the policies,’’ said Alberto Martinez, an adviser and spokesman for the campaign on Hispanic issues.

But that effort is likely to run headfirst into some of Mr. Romney’s conservative supporters. Many in the Republican base believe that any solution that lets illegal immigrants remain in the country is unacceptable. During the primary race Mr. Romney courted these voters with talk of “self-deportation” and his approval of Arizona’s harsh immigration law.

In two previous addresses to Hispanic groups, Mr. Romney ignored immigration. On Wednesday the Romney campaign abruptly cut short a telephone press conference when all the questions were about immigration – and the campaign wanted to talk about the economy.

“The reason that immigration is important is not because it’s the priority issue but because it’s the issue that can turn Hispanics off,’’ said Ana Navarro, a Florida-based adviser to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. “If a candidate has the wrong tone and the wrong rhetoric on immigration, Hispanics won’t listen to any of his proposals on anything else.

Ahead of the Florida speech on Thursday, Mr. Romney’s campaign promised to forge “lasting solutions” to what he called the “nation’s broken immigration system.” He said he would work with both parties to pass immigration reform.

But the brief outline did not say how he would overcome the gridlock that has blocked comprehensive immigration reform in the Congress for more than a decade.


Fueled by immigration, Asians are fastest-growing U.S. group

Most arrive legally as highly skilled orofessionalsM.i>

Asian Americans are now the nation's fastest-growing racial group, overtaking Latinos in recent years as the largest stream of new immigrants arriving annually in the United States.

In an economy that increasingly depends on highly skilled workers, Asian Americans are also the country's best educated and highest-income racial or ethnic group, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

In fact, U.S. Asians, who trace their roots to dozens of countries in the Far East, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, are arguably the most highly educated immigrant group in U.S. history, the study shows. And although there are significant differences among them by country of origin, on the whole they have found remarkable success in their new land.

"These aren't the poor, tired, huddled masses that Emma Lazarus described in that inscription on the Statue of Liberty," said Paul Taylor, the research center's executive vice president.

In fact, the Asian newcomers' achievements are likely to change the way many Americans think about immigrants, typically as strivers who work hard in the hope that their children and grandchildren will have easier lives and find greater success in this country, Taylor said.

For U.S. Asians, especially those who arrived in recent years, the first generation itself is doing well, outpacing Americans as a whole when it comes to education, household income and family wealth, according to the report released Tuesday.

Asian Americans also tend to be more satisfied than most Americans with their own lives, the survey found, and they hold more traditional views than the general public on the value of marriage, parenthood and hard work.

As a whole, Asian Americans are more likely than the general public to prefer a big government that provides more services. They also lean Democratic and a majority approves of President Barack Obama's job performance. Obama's approval rating among the general public is hovering around 44 percent.

Although the first large wave of Asian immigrants came to the U.S. in the early 19th century, the population grew slowly for more than a century, held down by severe restrictions and official prohibitions, some explicitly racist. Most Asian Americans now living in the U.S. arrived after 1965 legislation that allowed immigration from a wider range of countries.

Asian Americans now make up nearly 6 percent, or 18.2 million, of the U.S. population, the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show. Nearly three-quarters were born abroad, and about 8 million came to this country in the last 30 years.

Geographically, nearly half of all U.S. Asians live in the Western states. California, the traditional gateway for Asian immigrants, has by far the largest number, almost 6 million. Of the major Asian subgroups, in fact, only those from India are relatively evenly distributed throughout the country, with the largest share, 31 percent, living in the Northeast.

Asian immigration has grown rapidly in recent years, with nearly 3 million arriving since 2000. At the same time, Latino immigration, especially from Mexico, has slowed sharply, mainly because of the weakened U.S. economy and tougher border enforcement.

As a result, the number of newly arrived Asian immigrants has outpaced Latinos each year since 2009, according to Pew's analysis of census data. In 2010, for instance, 36 percent of new U.S. immigrants were Asian, compared with 31 percent who were Latino.

The most recent immigrants have arrived even as the economy has boomed in many Asian countries and the standard of living has risen. Taylor said the reason many Asians move to the U.S. include shifts in U.S. immigration policies, changes in their home countries and U.S. labor needs for science, engineering and math graduates.

The Pew study combines recent census and economic data with an extensive, nationally representative survey of 3,500 Asian Americans. The interviews, conducted from January to March, were done in English and seven Asian languages.

Chinese Americans are the largest Asian immigrant group, with more than 4 million who identified as Chinese, followed by Filipinos, Indians, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese.

U.S. Asians as a whole are more satisfied than most Americans with their lives overall (82 percent compared to 75 percent), with their personal finances (51 percent compared to 35 percent) and with the general direction of the country (43 percent compared to 21 percent).

More than half of adult Asian Americans say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in life; 34 percent of all American adults agree. Asian Americans are more likely than American adults in general to be married (59 percent compared to 51 percent) and their newborns are less likely than U.S. infants as a whole to have an unmarried mother (16 percent compared to 41 percent).


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