Immigration

Rick Santorum Compares Undocumented Parents To Bank Robbers

ASSOCIATED PRESS

THE HUFFINGTON POST

It’s “tragic” when people are split from their families because they do something wrong, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Thursday. But he fully supports deporting parents of U.S. citizens because it’s “consistent” with what the country does to people who commit crimes.

“It’s like someone who robs a bank because they want to feed their family,” the former Pennsylvania senator said in a speech at the National Press Club. “Do I feel bad that they don’t have enough money and they felt the need to rob a bank and provide for their family? Of course I feel bad, we all feel bad. … But that doesn’t obviate the fact that they’ve broken the law and that there are consequences to breaking the law.”

Santorum seemed frustrated about being asked whether he is all right with the fact that his hardline positions on immigration — the focus of Thursday’s speech — would split up families. After all, he said, the U.S. separates families all the time by sending people to jail.

“It’s a tragic thing — I don’t like it, I wish they weren’t separated,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that we are a nation of laws.”

Santorum’s speech was an attempt to put himself back into the spotlight on immigration, or perhaps in the spotlight at all, given his lagging poll numbers. Business mogul Donald Trump has received considerable attention for his deport-them-all policies and arguments for limiting legal immigration. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received press earlier this year for saying legal immigration should be restricted. 

Santorum noted multiple times that he’s said the same for years.

“Until this summer, I was the only candidate who had a message focused on helping American workers by putting common-sense limits on this surge of immigrants,” he said, adding later that he wanted to “encourage all the candidates and all Americans to listen to my vision for how we make America stronger.”

Santorum said during his speech that he, like Trump, believes children of unauthorized immigrants should not gain automatic citizenship, as they are guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, although he added that it’s not his “highest priority” to make such a policy change. He said the courts needed to determine whether birthright citizenship was truly required by the 14th Amendment. 

One of his higher priorities is driving out undocumented immigrants, in part by finding and deporting those who came to the U.S. legally and then overstayed their visas. Undocumented immigrants who commit crimes would be found and deported when they were picked up by police, who would be required to either cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or lose federal grants, Santorum said.

Only one group of unauthorized immigrants would be spared: those who are doing agricultural jobs Americans don’t want, according to Santorum. He said some people in that category could stay if their employer paid a fee each year. 

Further unauthorized immigration should be prevented by sending more patrol agents and resources to the border and building more fencing, he said. Unlike Trump, who said a border wall should be built by the Mexican government, Santorum said he would have American workers build a fence.

If Mexico didn’t cooperate with preventing unauthorized immigration into the U.S., it could be punished by suspending border crossing cards — a proposal that would likely do considerable damage to the economies of towns along the border that get business from Mexicans who cross for the day.

Although most of the GOP candidates have argued for ramping up border security and upping deportations, Santorum is on the extreme end in his calls to restrict legal immigration, which he said should be reduced by 25 percent. He said this should be done by eliminating the visa lottery and so-called chain migration, when immigrants bring over family members, but not increasing other visa categories.

He said he’s not anti-immigrant, and anyone who defines him that way is a hypocrite unless they’re for open borders.

“If you’re not for that, then you can’t call anybody who wants to have a discussion as to what the limits are anti-immigrant,” he said. 

With Tough Immigration Talk, G.O.P. Again Risks Losing Latinos

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, in Des Moines on Monday, echoed Donald Trump's call to end automatic citizenship for the American-born children of undocumented immigrants.

© Eric Thayer for The New York Times Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, in Des Moines on Monday, echoed Donald Trump’s call to end automatic citizenship for the American-born children of undocumented immigrants.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Republicans thought they had learned a lesson after 2012: Turning off Latino voters ensures defeat in the general election.

But as the disruptive presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump continues to gain support, his hard line on immigration has driven rivals to match his biting anti-immigrant language and positions long considered extreme. It risks another general election cycle in which Hispanics view the party as unfriendly no matter who the nominee is, Republican strategists warned.

This week, several of Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals, including Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, echoed his call to end automatic citizenship for the American-born children of undocumented immigrants, which would repeal a constitutional right dating from the Civil War era.

And Mr. Trump’s plan for mass deportations — “They have to go,” he said — which is supported by a sizable minority of Republican voters nationwide, has encouraged rivals to similarly push the edges on immigration.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a bill last month named for a woman who was shot to death in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant, a case first highlighted by Mr. Trump. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana went further, saying mayors of sanctuary cities — where local law enforcement officials decline to cooperate in federal deportations — should be arrested as accomplices when illegal immigrants commit felonies.

National Republican strategists warn that catering to the most hard-line voters on immigration in the nominating contest will hurt the party in the general election, as it did for the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, who endorsed “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants and attracted historically low Latino support.

“If Republicans want to be competitive in the general election, they have to distance themselves from Trump on both illegal and legal immigration,” said Alfonso Aguilar, a former official in George W. Bush’s administration and executive director of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, a conservative group. “His proposal on birthright citizenship is very insulting to Latinos, and every day, this is the top story on Spanish language media. Right now, if the other candidates don’t respond to Trump, Latinos will buy the argument that Republicans agree with him. They cannot remain quiet.”

Demographics suggest Republicans have an even bigger challenge with Latinos in 2016 than in previous elections. The number of Latino voters has been growing rapidly. Between the presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, the population of Latinos eligible to vote grew by 19 percent.

By 2016, that electorate is expected to increase by 18 percent over 2012 to about 28 million people, more than 11 percent of voters nationwide, according to projections by theNational Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (Naleo), a nonpartisan organization.

While Latino registration and turnout rates have lagged behind other groups in recent cycles, Latino organizations have focused their registration drives in states like Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where Latino votes can swing elections and which proved critical to President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.

Mr. Walker, who led in Iowa polls for months before being eclipsed recently by Mr. Trump, took a harder anti-immigration position on Monday by seeming to support an end to birthright citizenship during a visit to the Iowa State Fair.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s hard-line positions, including seizing remittances sent by undocumented workers to Mexico and severely restricting legal immigration, are allowing some rivals to define themselves more clearly in opposition to him.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Mr. Trump’s plan “gibberish” at the Iowa fair on Monday, saying, “You’re not going to get 11 million people and drive them back out of this country,” he said. “That’s just not practical. That’s going to kill the Republican Party.”

But for now, the major candidates in the Republican field who are relative moderates on immigration — Mr. Graham, Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. John R. Kasichof Ohio and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — do not have the momentum or the news media attention enjoyed by Mr. Trump, who is not only denouncing illegal immigrants but attacking legal immigration in full-throated nativist language. And his calls to deport illegal immigrants are resonating with many voters.

Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair last weekend. He has drawn a hard line on immigration.

© Eric Thayer for The New York Times | Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair last weekend. He has drawn a hard line on immigration.

Continue reading here…

GOP’S BAFFLING TRUMP COWARDICE

GOP's baffling Trump cowardice: A party too timid to denounce a bigoted gasbag

Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz (Credit: AP/Scott Bauer/Richard Drew/J. Scott Applewhite/Photo montage by Salon)

SALON

Condemning Donald Trump’s obvious racism would be the easiest thing a Republican could do, but no one’s doing it

Just about every second of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, such as it is, has been a disaster. He kicked off his campaign two weeks ago with a speech calling Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists,” and he’s been dealing with the blowback ever since. Those comments prompted NBC – which had tolerated his bigoted nonsense for years while airing his reality show – to finally cut ties with Trump, who responded by calling NBC “weak” and “foolish.” Univision announced that it would not carry Trump’s Miss USA pageant, prompting Trump to threaten to sue the network. Mexico announced that it would not send a representative to Trump’s Miss Universe pageant because of his “racist” remarks. If there’s a positive to be found in any of this, it’s that Trump’s vanity run for president is backfiring and has helped tear down some of the other garish and pathetically self-congratulatory monuments he’s erected to himself.

But what I find curious about the reaction to Trump’s blatant racism and anti-immigrant posturing is that not one Republican has stood up and done literally the easiest, least controversial, most politically buzzy thing one could do in this situation: denounce Donald Trump.

Seriously, it’s utterly baffling. Let’s think about this for a moment. The Republican Party is painfully aware that it has a major problem appealing to voter demographics outside its core coalition of old white people and religious white people. This problem is especially acute in presidential election cycles — like the one we’re in now. Recognizing how toxic this alienation of minority groups was in the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee put out a big report explicitly recommending that the party’s candidates and committees do more to reach out to and engage with Latino voters and make them feel less like the GOP actively despises them. “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation),” the report counseled, “they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”

In this light, Trump’s comments should have been a big, fat, hanging curve for an enterprising Republican 2016 candidate to swing hard at. What he said was bigoted; there’s no disagreement on that. As far as adversaries go, you could do worse than Trump – he is a semi-sentient pile of hair and sadness, he has no feelings to hurt, and by being on the opposite side of him you win the argument by default. And what he said has nothing to do with immigration policy. By weighing in on it you wouldn’t be taking any dangerous positions you’d later have to defend. And the media would eat that mess up.

All you’d have to do is just stand up and say Trump is wrong and a racist, and that undocumented immigrants are not all rapists. It would be a small step toward demonstrating that Republicans recognize the basic humanity of the people at the center of a controversial policy fight and don’t view them merely as criminals or some sort of invasive species.

But no one did that.

The most outrage the RNC could muster came from its communications director, who said on CNN that “painting Mexican Americans with that kind of a brush, I think that’s probably something that is not helpful to the cause.” And as far as I can tell, the only candidate who has responded with any sort of criticism to Trump is Jeb Bush, who offered a mild Spanish-language rebuke of The Donald:

But on Saturday, Mr. Bush did address comments Mr. Trump made in his campaign launch speech about the Mexican border, in which he said people coming to the U.S. from Mexico are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

At a Saturday event in Nevada, Mr. Bush said in Spanish, “I do not agree with his words. They do not represent the values of the Republican Party and they do not represent my values,” according to a campaign aide.

As for the rest, they’ve either kept their mouths shut or, remarkably, agreed with Trump’s assessment of the immigrant community. “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth,” Ted Cruz said on Fox Newsyesterday. I’m sure Republicans would much rather that Cruz and Trump be viewed as pariahs and extremists on this issue. By clamming up, though, they’re letting those two speak for the party. And this whole business with Trump being a flaming bigot won’t just go away. He’s Donald Trump – he doesn’t stop talking. The longer he’s out there saying racist garbage while running for the Republican nomination, the more awkward it becomes that no one is challenging him on it.

Again, I’m not saying that denouncing Trump would accomplish much of anything or solve any problems. The GOP has issues with Latino voters that go well beyond the bigotry of one rich white guy. But that’s why the silence on Trump is so strange to me. The party clearly has little intention of implementing policy changes to help broaden its appeal (border security now, border security forever!) so it would at least make some sense to go for the superficial outreach efforts. “Sure, we’re still going to deport you and your families and otherwise treat you like criminals, but hey – we don’t assume you’re rapists!” But apparently even that is too much to ask.

Fox Host Hits Santorum On Pope And Climate Change: You’re Not A Scientist (VIDEO)

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TPM LIVEWIRE

“If he’s not a scientist — and, in fact, he does have a degree in chemistry — neither are you,” Wallace said, adding that 80-90 percent of scientists agree that humans contribute to climate change.

The Pope is expected to release a strong statement on climate change in an encyclical by June 18.

“If he shouldn’t talk about it, should you?” Wallace asked.

“We have to make public policy with regard to the environmental policy,” Santorum, a devout Catholic, said. “Whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decisions with respect to our public policy that affect American workers.”

“The Pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about — I’m saying, what should the Pope use his moral authority for?” he asked.

“He would say he’s protecting the Earth,” Wallace interjected.

“There are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change,” Santorum said.

Watch the clip around the 7:20 mark: HERE

BRENDAN JAMES

5 immigration myths debunked

CNN Money

President Obama is taking executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

His plan has been a tough sell to the American people, especially with the new Republican-controlled Congress. But many experts agree that some of the arguments against immigration are based on misguided information.

Here are 5 myths about undocumented immigrants, and why they’re wrong.

Myth # 1: They don’t pay taxes

Undocumented immigrants are already U.S. taxpayers.

Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues. Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said.

A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited IRS figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants file and pay income taxes each year.

A 2013 CBO analysis of the failed bipartisan bill introduced by the so-called “gang of 8” that would have created a path to legal status for many undocumented immigrants found that increasing legal immigration would increase government spending on refundable tax credits, Medicaid and health insurance subsidies, among other federal benefits. But it would also create even more tax revenue by way of income and payroll taxes. That could reduce deficits by $175 billion over the first 10 years and by at least $700 billion in the second decade.

ITEP estimates that allowing certain immigrants to stay in the country and work legally would boost state and local tax contributions by $2 billion a year.

Related: America’s most dangerous jobs.

Myth # 2: They don’t pay into Social Security

The truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute more in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits.

Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants — who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits — have paid an eye-popping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.

“They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits,” Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney. “Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009,” he said.

As the baby boom generation ages and retires, immigrant workers are key to shoring up Social Security and counteracting the effects of the decline in U.S.-born workers paying into the system, Goss said.

Without immigrants, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the system will no longer be able to pay the full promised benefits by 2037.

Myth #3: They drain the system

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.

Related: Part-time jobs put millions in poverty or close to it.

Non-citizen immigrant adults and children are about 25% less likely to be signed up for Medicaid than their poor native-born equivalents and are also 37% less likely to receive food stamps, according to a 2013 study by the Cato Institute.

Citizen children of illegal immigrants — often derogatorily referred to as “anchor babies” — do qualify for social benefits. Also, undocumented immigrants are eligible for schooling and emergency medical care. Currently, the average unlawful immigrant household costs taxpayers $14,387 per household, according to a recent report by The Heritage Foundation. But in its 2013 “Immigration Myths and Facts” report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these children become workers and taxpayers.

A CBO report on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 concluded that a path to legalization for immigrants would increase federal revenues by $48 billion. Such a plan would see $23 billion in increased costs from the use of public services, but ultimately, it would produce a surplus of $25 billion for government coffers, CBO said.

Myth # 4: They take American jobs

The American economy needs immigrant workers.

The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be filled by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.

Related: Four immigration fixes that could turbo-charge tech.

Removing the approximately 8 million unauthorized workers in the United States would not automatically create 8 million job openings for unemployed Americans, said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, in his 2011 testimony before the House Judiciary Sub-committee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The reason, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is two-fold. For one, removing millions of undocumented workers from the economy would also remove millions of entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers. The economy would actually lose jobs. Second, native-born workers and immigrant workers tend to possess different skills that often complement one another.

According to Griswold, immigrants, regardless of status, fill the growing gap between expanding low-skilled jobs and the shrinking pool of native-born Americans who are willing to take such jobs. By facilitating the growth of such sectors as retail, agriculture, landscaping, restaurants, and hotels, low-skilled immigrants have enabled those sectors to expand, attract investment, and create middle-class jobs in management, design and engineering, bookkeeping, marketing and other areas that employ U.S. citizens.

America’s unions support the president’s executive action. “For far too long, our broken immigration system has allowed employers to drive down wages and working conditions in our country,” the AFL-CIO says on its website. “The brunt of the impact has been born by immigrant workers, who face the highest rates of wage theft, sexual harassment, and death and injury on the job.”

Myth # 5: It’s just a matter of following the law

Many Americans want immigrants to enter the country legally.

But under current immigration laws, there are very few options for legal immigration, the costs are increasingly prohibitive and the wait for any kind of status can be long and frustrating.

Related: I created 7 jobs and the US tried to deport me.

According to the State Department, that imaginary “immigration line” is already 4.4 million people long and depending on the type of visa sought and the country of origin, the wait can be years to decades long. In some countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico people have been waiting over 20 years for approval of a family-sponsored visa.

Immigrants can legally get to the U.S by being sponsored by an employer or a family member, they can enter the country as refugees, or they could receive one of the selectively distributed professional or diversity visas. The Diversity Visa Program makes 55,000 green cards available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

According to the State Department, the fees to obtain permanent U.S. visas can range from $200 to over $700, excluding legal fees. Plus, there are visa quotas which limits immigration from any given country.

In many poor, violence-ridden countries, or in cases where parents are separated from their children, immigrants say the wait is unbearable, leaving many to resort to illegal border crossing.

That journey can be expensive and deadly.

Smugglers charge anywhere from $3000 to upwards of $70,000 depending on country of origin, mode of transport and distance travelled according to the Mexican Migration Project, a multidisciplinary research effort between investigators in Mexico and the U.S.

Many don’t make it. According to federal records, more than 6,000 immigrants have died crossing the southern border since 1998

Read Ronald Reagan’s executive order on immigration the GOP won’t talk about

President Ronald Reagan | AFP Photo/Mike Sargent

Raw Story

The following statement was made by then-President Ronald Reagan on July 30, 1981:

Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands. No free and prosperous nation can by itself accommodate all those who seek a better life or flee persecution. We must share this responsibility with other countries.

The bipartisan select commission which reported this spring concluded that the Cuban influx to Florida made the United States sharply aware of the need for more effective immigration policies and the need for legislation to support those policies.

For these reasons, I asked the Attorney General last March to chair a Task Force on Immigration and Refugee Policy. We discussed the matter when President Lopez Portillo visited me last month, and we have carefully considered the views of our Mexican friends. In addition, the Attorney General has consulted with those concerned in Congress and in affected States and localities and with interested members of the public.

The Attorney General is undertaking administrative actions and submitting to Congress, on behalf of the administration, a legislative package, based on eight principles. These principles are designed to preserve our tradition of accepting foreigners to our shores, but to accept them in a controlled and orderly fashion:

  • We shall continue America’s tradition as a land that welcomes peoples from other countries. We shall also, with other countries, continue to share in the responsibility of welcoming and resettling those who flee oppression.
  • At the same time, we must ensure adequate legal authority to establish control over immigration: to enable us, when sudden influxes of foreigners occur, to decide to whom we grant the status of refugee or asylee; to improve our border control; to expedite (consistent with fair procedures and our Constitution) return of those coming here illegally; to strengthen enforcement of our fair labor standards and laws; and to penalize those who would knowingly encourage violation of our laws. The steps we take to further these objectives, however, must also be consistent with our values of individual privacy and freedom.
  • We have a special relationship with our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Our immigration policy should reflect this relationship.
  • We must also recognize that both the United States and Mexico have historically benefited from Mexicans obtaining employment in the United States. A number of our States have special labor needs, and we should take these into account.
  • Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.
  • We shall strive to distribute fairly, among the various localities of this country, the impacts of our national immigration and refugee policy, and we shall improve the capability of those agencies of the Federal Government which deal with these matters.
  • We shall seek new ways to integrate refugees into our society without nurturing their dependence on welfare.
  • Finally, we recognize that immigration and refugee problems require international solutions. We will seek greater international cooperation in the resettlement of refugees and, in the Caribbean Basin, international cooperation to assist accelerated economic development to reduce motivations for illegal immigration.

Immigration and refugee policy is an important part of our past and fundamental to our national interest. With the help of the Congress and the American people, we will work towards a new and realistic immigration policy, a policy that will be fair to our own citizens while it opens the door of opportunity for those who seek a new life in America.

H/t: D.B.

 

Tea Party star defends absurdly racist campaign flyer

Tea Party star defends absurdly racist campaign flyer

Joe Miller (Credit: AP/Chris Miller)

This guy is back

Salon

Joe Miller’s second attempt to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate is going even worse than the first

If you spent all of last weekend blissfully living your life without even once coming face-to-face with a campaign flyer depicting Latino people as menacing gangsters covered in tattoos, you probably don’t live in Anchorage, Alaska.

Because if you did live in Anchorage, Alaska, here, via ThinkProgress, is what you might’ve gotten in your mail over the weekend, from former and current GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller:

Attempting to defend himself against charges that showing a bunch of Latino gangsters alongside a warning of “20 million illegals” voting to abolish the Second Amendment is pretty racist, Miller said during a weekend television debate that he was simply confronting a “clear correlation.”

“If you end up granting amnesty to those who don’t value gun rights, who have not been raised in an environment where the Second Amendment is cherished — is considered to be a God-given right — the reality is over a generation or two, the likelihood is very strong that the Second Amendment will not be here,” Miller explained. “We have violent thugs coming across our border and doing violent things,” he went on to say.

In any event, those who believed (and hoped) his embarrassing 2010 campaign was the last American politics would see of Joe Miller were clearly and unfortunately very wrong. The good news? He’s running third in the GOP primary so — fingers crossed — this may finally be his swan song.

How Obama’s immigration push could hand the House to Democrats

A return to this?

A return to this? (CC BY: The White House/Pete Souza)

The Week

Even if Republicans seize the Senate

Everyone assumes that Republicans will easily hold the House in November. The dominant storyline among the chattering classes centers instead on the possibility that Republicans could seize control of the Senate from Democrats. But the rapidly escalating immigration face-off between President Barack Obama and House Republicans raises the possibility that Democrats could win back the House — even if Republicans do take the Senate

How is that possible? It’s simple: There are more competitive House races than Senate races in areas with significant Latino populations.

Last year, David Damore, a polling analyst for the firm Latino Decisions, found that there are 44 congressional districts with Republican incumbents that could be ousted if their Latino constituents flex their electoral muscle. “This includes districts where the Latino voting-age population exceeds the 2012 margin of victory or swing districts won in 2012 by President Obama and the House Republican candidate that also have notable Latino populations,” he wrote.

Now of course, not all of the 44 districts where Latinos can theoretically play a decisive role are considered competitive today. Damore recently lamented that Democrats failed to recruit strong challengers across the board. Professional congressional handicappers Stu RothenbergCharlie Cook, and Larry Sabato suggest that around 19 of these districts remain in play, including 16 Republicans running for re-election and three other seats where the Republican incumbent won’t be on the ballot.

That may not seem like a lot for a body with 435 representatives. But Democrats only need to flip 17 seats to take over the House. While most observers see that as a bridge too far for Democrats this year, the political terrain in these Latino-strong districts may look different in the fall. Just as we head into the midterms’ final two-month sprint, Obama will likely have followed through on this week’s pledge to use executive orders to help keep immigrant families together in America.

Obama can’t fix the entire immigration system by fiat. He can’t unilaterally bestow citizenship on the undocumented. He can’t even ensure his executive orders will stay on the books once he vacates the Oval Office in 2017. There will still be a need for Congress to act. And immigration advocates may well turn all their fire on obstructionist House Republicans once Obama has shown he has done all he can without them.

Suddenly, the midterms might be all about immigration. Obama would be viewed by Latinos as the one guy trying to stick up for them, intransigent Republicans be damned. And that’s big trouble for the GOP.

Obviously, a Democratic takeover of the House would remain a long shot. This sort of thing almost never happens in a two-term president’s sixth year. And Democrats would effectively have to run the table, winning nearly all of the Latino-strong districts, and maybe picking off a few other Republicans facing tough races, while avoiding losses in the several competitive races involving Democratic incumbents. That would be neither easy nor likely. But it is possible.

Complicating matters for Democrats: Republicans representing increasingly influential Latino constituencies have been trying to keep the immigration monkey off their backs. Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao, Californians with particularly robust Latino constituencies, have gone as far as supporting Democratic legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Others, like Nevada’s Rep. Joe Heck, support narrower legislation that would allow citizenship for undocumented children. And some, like freshman Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski, who barely won her seat in 2012, simply avoid taking firm positions. Democrats could have difficulty landing blows on such slippery targets.

But all of these Republicans share one big vulnerability: refusal to join Democrats in signing a “discharge petition” that would have forced a House floor vote on the Senate-approved comprehensive immigration bill. That gives Democratic challengers a hammer to bludgeon Republicans who attempt to obfuscate their role in obstructing reform. Democrats can make a clear and legitimate case to voters that reform can only happen if the GOP incumbent is tossed.

Furthermore, as The New Republic’s Sasha Issenberg reported earlier in the year, Democratic campaign operatives have been busy adapting their modern get-out-the-vote technologies and field operations to replicate their 2012 success and boost turnout among unlikely voters in 2014. Issenberg sums up the challenge: “While Latinos’ total presidential votes tripled from 1988 to 2012, their midterm participation has declined by about seven points.” That may be changing, and Democrats toiling in the House campaign trenches may now have the infrastructure necessary to really turn out the midterm vote.

Immigration will probably have less of an impact in Senate races. Every competitive 2014 Senate race, with the exception of Colorado, is in a state where the Latino eligible voter population is less than five percent. Of course, in any nail-biter race, even a constituency of three percent can play an outsized role. But with so many of these races occurring in red states, embattled Senate Democrats will likely want to avoid the potential for right-wing anti-immigrant backlash. That explains why the Senate Democrats’ “Fair Shot” 2014 agenda touts raising the minimum wage, promoting equal pay, investing in manufacturing jobs, and protecting Medicare — but nothing about immigration.

In other words, the House Democratic campaign strategy and the Senate Democratic campaign strategy may run along separate tracks, one driving immigration, the other pushing the economy. One strategy could work while the other flops. That creates the possibility, however unlikely, for something completely unprecedented: a midterm election where Democrats and Republicans trade control of each congressional branch.

Obama, Blaming Congress, Says He’ll Go It Alone on Immigration

 NBC News

President Barack Obama said Monday that he is moving ahead with executive actions to address immigration after a sweeping comprehensive reform bill languished in the House for more than a year.

“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing,” he said. “And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future.”

Obama said that he is sending additional resources to the border to stem a growing tide of undocumented immigrants into the county and that he has directed his team to recommend further executive actions to slow deportations by the end of the summer.

The move was prompted after House Speaker John Boehner formally told the president last week that the House will not move on immigration legislation, a White House official said.

The president has been under intense pressure from immigration advocates to bypass Congress and address the high rate of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for many who are in the country illegally, but the GOP-led House refused to vote on the measure, saying that Obama could not be trusted to enforce the legislation’s border security rules.

Rubio connects immigration, Benghazi

Marco Rubio Discusses US Anti-Poverty Programs

MSNBC

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) played a prominent role in shaping the Senate’s bipartisan immigration-reform bill, and after hedging more than once, the Floridian ended up voting for the popular legislation. His follow-through, however, has been a little spotty.
In October, for example, Rubio predicted congressional Republicans would kill immigration reform because President Obama hurt GOP lawmakers’ feelings when they shut down the government. Three months later, it’s still not clear how or why that was supposed to make sense.
This week, Rubio presented a new reason why Republicans may decide to kill the reform effort.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a major player on immigration policy, said Wednesday that there was no chance now of passing a broad overhaul because Republicans have lost trust in President Barack Obama. […]
Rubio said the Obama administration has lost credibility as a result of how it handled the 2012 attack against a U.S. outpost in Libya and accusations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.
The senator specifically said he’s talked to Republican lawmakers who “pointed to the IRS scandal and the Benghazi stuff” as reasons to oppose immigration reform. As the argument goes, these controversies provide “evidence” that “undermines” GOP confidence.
There are two main problems with this.
 
The first is that the argument itself is predicated on a bogus premise: that President Obama routinely ignores laws he doesn’t like, so Republicans are disinclined to pass anything at all.
The argument first made the rounds last July, when it was thoroughly discredited.
The second angle has to do with the “scandals” Republicans claim to be outraged by. There is, of course, no IRS scandal and the allegations raised by conservatives have been proven to be wrong. Likewise, “the Benghazi stuff” refers to conspiracy theories unsupported by reality.
Indeed, I’m especially interested in the timeline. The deadly attack on the Benghazi outpost was in September 2012. A few months later, despite the far-right conspiracy theories, congressional Republicans began working with Democrats on immigration reform. Eventually, they reached a compromise agreement, and last summer, it passed the Senate. This week, House Republicans sketched out some reform ideas of their own.
Rubio, however, believes the effort will fail because of conspiracy theories from a year and a half ago? Because of an attack that occurred before he started working with Democrats on a reform package?