Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Whether on the campaign trail or in the state house, the heated rhetoric used by opponents of common sense immigration reform is setting a troubling tone that some Americans are deciding to follow. At a GOP debate in January, Mitt Romney suggested that best way to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country was to force them to “self-deport.” And while campaigning in Tennessee last year, then GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain took a page from Rep. Steve King and offered a different proposal to keep immigrants out -- an “electrified” border fence.

The Republican Party’s embrace of anti-immigrant extremism was on full display this past weekend in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Among the loudest voices was none other than that of Kris Kobach, who is an endorser and advisor to Romney on immigration issues. Kobach is also the champion of the series of state-based anti-immigration laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama that show the real world consequences, costs, and impracticality of Romney’s stated “self-deportation” immigration policy goal.

In Case You Missed It, please see the Huffington Post blog post below by Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice on Rep. Lamar Smith’s incessant anti-immigrant tirades and the continuing calls from Smith’s party for “self-deportation."

Last week, Mitt Romney fully embraced a campaign endorsement from Kris Kobach, the controversial author of the anti-immigrant laws enacted in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and elsewhere, a move that will destroy any last hopes he may have had of courting Latino voters in the general election. On a press call today, U.S. Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL), SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, and America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry discussed this puzzling move in the Romney campaign strategy and its impact on a potential general election match-up between Romney and President Obama.

Today, Mitt Romney issued a press release highlighting his endorsement by anti-immigrant ringleader Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R). Kobach is the leading architect of the “papers, please” anti-immigration laws in states like Alabama and Arizona and has a long track record of opposing positive immigration reforms—including those that would benefit U.S. citizens.

Washington, DC – Last week, Mitt Romney offered a fresh reminder that his pandering to the far right on immigration during the primary season will hurt his potential general election chances. In response to a question in Le Mars, IA, Romney pledged that he would veto a federal DREAM Act if the legislation passed Congress while he was President. His comments were widely reported in Spanish media and put the nail in the coffin of any hope Romney may have had of competing for Latino voters in the general election.

A series of media outlets reported yesterday that a key phrase embedded in Mitt Romney’s stump speech and campaign advertisements, “Keep America American,” turns out to be a slogan the Ku Klux Klan used in the 1920s to protest the arrival of Irish immigrants. Separate from the specific origins of the phrase, it’s shocking that Romney would choose a slogan like this to sum up his worldview. But certainly it provides important insight into the way the candidate would govern on a number of issues, including immigration.

At Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate, most of the candidates continued to demonstrate how out of step they are with the public’s wishes on immigration. As new Fox News polling makes clear, Mitt Romney and other candidates espousing mass deportation positions appeal to a very narrow sliver of anti-immigrant voters in the primary. Their immigration views are not representative of the majority of the Republican primary voting audience, let alone the overall American public.

The news that a visiting Japanese employee of Honda’s plant in Lincoln, Alabama was stopped and received a citation under a provision of the state’s “papers, please” immigration law is further indication that the worst-in-the-nation immigration law is devastating Alabama’s reputation. On the heels of a similar story, the arrest of a German Mercedes-Benz executive earlier in November, the unintended consequences of the state’s self-inflicted wound are piling up, with potentially devastating results for Alabama’s economic productivity and bottom-line.

The controversy continues over the Alabama anti-immigration law, as leaders report on additional damage to the state's reputation, economy, and efforts to move on from its Civil Rights era legacy.

Yesterday, former Republican congressman and current Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam criticized the harsh anti-immigration laws passed in neighboring states Alabama and Georgia, pointing out that the laws are already having real economic consequences and arguing that Florida show not follow this path.

The implementation of Alabama’s HB 56, the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation, has touched off a humanitarian crisis felt throughout the state and across the nation. Families, paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, are fleeing the state in droves and children are afraid to go school or even leave their homes.