Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney will keep Obama's immigration policy

Mitt Romney softened his stance on one of President Obama's immigration directives allowing certain undocumented immigrant youth to stay in the U.S. legally.

In an interview with The Denver Post Monday, Romney said he would not reverse an executive order issued by President Obama that would allow children of illegal immigrants to obtain a visa, permitting them to live and work in the U.S. legally for two years, if they meet certain criteria.

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney said. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

Months after the president issued the directive, Romney's admission that he would not reverse the executive order as president clarifies his position on the issue.

When asked by "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer in June if he would repeal the order, Romney said, "Well, let's step back and look at the issue," declining to give a straight answer. At the time, Romney also called the president's decision partly political.

"It's not really showing a huge amount of courage to give a confusing answer on an issue that's been around for more than 100 days," Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

The president's directive, which he ordered in June, is a way to circumvent Congress' stalemate over the DREAM Act, legislation that would give legal status to children of illegal immigrants who obtain higher education or join the military. Romney has supported the military component of the legislation but not the part involving education.

This is not the only issue involving immigration where Romney has softened. During the Republican primary he said he supported self-deportation, making laws so stringent that immigrants are driven out. He has not used the term since he clinched the Republican nomination. He now says he supports bolstering legal immigration, especially for highly-skilled workers, and securing the border.

Immigration in depth

According to numerous polls, the president is winning among Latino voters by more than 30 points.

Romney spoke to the Denver Post before a campaign rally in Colorado, where he is spending time preparing for Wednesday night's presidential debate.

In response to the news of Romney's new policy position, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday said Romney's interview with the Denver Post "raised more questions about what exactly is the policy would support."

"It's not really showing a huge amount of courage to give a confusing answer on an issue that's been around for more than 100 days," she said, noting that the president signed the executive order in question more than 100 days ago.


Immigration-rights advocates criticize Gov. Brown's veto of Trust Act

Immigration-rights advocates are criticizing Gov. Jerry Brown for signing what they called a hollow, symbolic bill while vetoing one of the most closely watched pieces of immigration legislation in the country.

The bill that Brown signed, which lets some young immigrants have driver's licenses, allows nothing beyond what is permitted under a new federal program granting a two-year reprieve from deportation.

But the bill that the governor vetoed -- the so-called Trust Act -- would have barred local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal authorities in detaining suspected illegal immigrants, except in the cases of serious or violent crime.

"Gov. Brown waited until the eleventh hour to veto the most ... impactful bill that would bring tremendous relief for the immigrant community," said Carlos Amador of Dream Team Los Angeles. "But he decided to sign a symbolic and hollow bill that doesn't bring anything more than what we already had ... to apply for a driver's license."

Brown's actions amounted to a setback for illegal immigrants, said Yale law professor Michael Wishnie.

"I'm signing this bill that's unnecessary ... and that somehow balances out" the Trust Act? "It doesn't add up," Wishnie said.
Under the federal Secure Communities program, everyone arrested in California on criminal charges is evaluated for immigration status. At the request of federal authorities, sheriff's deputies can detain suspects for 48 hours before handing them over to federal custody.

In his veto message, the governor said the Trust Act legislation was "fatally flawed" because some crimes, such as child abuse, drug trafficking and the selling of weapons, would not trigger the deportation process.

"I believe it's unwise to interfere with a sheriff's discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records," Brown wrote. "The significant flaws in this bill can be fixed, and I will work with the Legislature to see that the bill is corrected forthwith."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca had vowed to defy the legislation if it was signed. But the California State Sheriffs' Assn. was open to discussing a modified version of the measure, said Marin County Sheriff Bob Doyle. Many sheriffs, including Baca, objected to the bill because they said it would have forced them to choose between state and federal law.

"Our interests are always in public safety. I don't think states should be getting in the immigration business. I think that's the federal government's responsibility," Doyle said. "I personally believe that if someone's here illegally, they should be returned to their country of origin."

Despite Brown's veto, California remains one of the nation's most immigrant-friendly states, allowing undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition and, soon, to receive state financial aid.

"It's arguably the most welcoming environment for illegal immigrants," said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal-immigration group. "It's hard to imagine any rational reason for expanding the welcome wagon. Once again, illegal aliens are in the driver's seat in California."


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