Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Today, political scientists from Latino Decisions released a new Latino electoral influence model for 2012 in a conference call with reporters and other interested parties. Supported by America’s Voice Education Fund, the new model will allow political observers to fully understand how the Latino vote could impact key Presidential, Senate and gubernatorial races in 2012 and beyond. The model uses historical turnout information for different demographic groups and real time polling data to develop those different scenarios.

Former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce – the man behind the nation’s first, “show me your papers” anti-immigrant law – admitted an important truth in a new interview with The Washington Post. Pearce said in reference to Mitt Romney, “His immigration policy is identical to mine…Attrition by enforcement. It’s identical to mine – enforce the laws. We have good laws, just enforce them.”

When Mitt Romney tried to open up a line of attack on President Obama over immigration this week, he brought the issue into the forefront of the 2012 presidential contest once again. Apparently, the Romney campaign is finally paying attention to Latino opinion polls, and has concluded that if the candidate can’t compete for the Latino vote, the best he can do is suppress it. Romney’s strategy will no doubt be echoed by Republican-aligned super PACs and special interest groups heading into the fall.

While campaigning in Wisconsin yesterday, Mitt Romney debuted a new line of attack against President Obama—focusing on immigration. Said Romney, referring to immigration, “This has always been a priority for the President he chooses to do nothing about…Let the immigrant community not forget that, while he uses this as a political weapon, he has not taken responsibility for fixing the problems we have.”

A range of stories today focus on Republican problems with Latino voters. It appears that across the Party GOP leaders are finally recognizing that courting Latino voters in the fall is threatened by an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino brand that has been cemented by the Republican primary.

As the House Immigration Subcommittee hearing, “Holiday on ICE,” gets underway, a press call today highlighted egregious and systemic problems inside our nation’s civil immigration detention facilities and questioned why House Republicans are making light of such serious issues and the need for reform. On today’s call, Immigration detention experts, women’s rights leaders, and victims of sexual abuse discussed the hundreds of preventable deaths and sexual assaults in detention centers across the nation and expressed outrage that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) is playing politics with people’s lives.

Today at 1:30, the U.S. House Immigration Subcommittee will renew its attack on immigrants with a hearing to “examine” the Obama Administration’s updated Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS).

A range of Southern states continue to advance legislation putting Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” theory into devastating practice. A concept originally envisioned by Romney advisor Kris Kobach and facilitated by the hyper-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the “self-deportation” theory holds, improbably, that if you make life so intolerable and terrorizing for undocumented immigrants in the United States they will pack up their lives and their families and leave on their own. And their ideas are on the march in the South.

Last June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton outlined criteria for prosecutorial discretion in a memo, which called on ICE officials to balance a range of factors, both positive and negative, in determining whether an individual would be entered into deportation proceedings or not. However, implementation of the memo’s directives have been slow and ungenerous. An important editorial this weekend from La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish language newspaper, decried the fact that “illegal reentry” has led to denials of prosecutorial discretion in several recent cases, despite sympathetic and compelling factors the government should take into account.

This morning, despite pleas from his wife, children and dozens of community members from Manitowoc, WI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deported Jaime Martinez Espinal, leaving his US citizen wife, Jennifer, and their four children, in a state of financial and emotional ruin. Mr. Martinez’s case is a painful example of the disconnect between a man who DHS defines as “ a law enforcement priority” and a father who is viewed by his community as valuable member and cherished husband and father.

Instead of working to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans in Congress are pushing for the expulsion of all 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Their plan, called “attrition through enforcement,” is to ramp up deportations and make life in the U.S. so degrading and unbearable that the remaining immigrant families simply pick up and leave on their own. To set the climate for this ugly agenda, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and the Immigration Subcommittee have held numerous hearings portraying immigrants as “criminals” who “steal jobs from Americans” and should be forced to leave the country.

When Mitt Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom’s made his “Etch-a-Sketch” comments to CNN yesterday he revealed that the campaign planned “to hit a reset button for the fall campaign.” Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post helpfully weighed in with the suggestion Romney start his move back to the center by changing positions on immigration: “Romney said that, as president, he would veto the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants who attend college. He promoted the notion of ‘self-deportation’ as a means of dealing with illegal immigration. And he praised Arizona’s intrusive immigration law as a ‘model for the nation. Hello? Latino vote?”