Posts tagged with Immigration
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday urged Congress to approve a proposed farm bill, saying he hoped a bipartisan deal on agriculture would create momentum to also pass immigration reform and a long-term deficit reduction plan.
"It's like turning a wheel," Vilsack said in a telephone interview with the Lawrence Journal-World. "Once you give it a push, it can roll around for a while. We have to get momentum in this Congress for getting something done," he said.
Passage of a farm bill provides the best opportunity "to get that wheel rolling," he said.
The House and Senate are set to consider separate five-year farm bills. The Senate bill would cut $2.4 billion annually, while the House plan would reduce spending by $4 billion out of about $100 billion annually.
Both versions would cut food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The Senate bill would cut $400 million per year, while the House would reduce it by $2 billion annually.
The administration supports the Senate version, Vilsack said, because the House bill cuts SNAP too deeply.
And Vilsack said it's important to approve immigration legislation, too.The Senate Judiciary Committee is aiming to pass before the Memorial Day recess an immigration bill to secure the border and offer citizenship to millions.
Vilsack said getting those two pieces of legislation passed may pave the way for cooperation on a budget deal.
Congress and the White House's failure to agree on long-term deficit reduction has led to automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration. Vilsack said sequestration "does create a challenge to fund programs."
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in Washington, D.C., yesterday testifying against an immigration bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kobach cited the recent Boston Marathon bombing as one of several reasons he opposed the proposed legislation, saying that the bill provided insufficient background checks to prevent terrorists from gaining amnesty.
According to his written testimony, Kobach said that under the bill "any illegal alien can invent a new name with a totally clean record and present that name when applying for the amnesty.
"In other words, an alien who has a terrorist background can call himself `Rumpelstiltskin' without having to prove that that is his real name."
He said marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shoot-out with police, was able to travel internationally and gain terrorist training before returning to the United States.
Supporters of the immigration bill, however, say it will strengthen security by increasing border security and enforcement. The measure would also require employers to check their workers' legal status, and it would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants now here illegally.
Kobach has worked with several cities and states, such as Arizona, in passing measures aimed at reducing illegal immigration.
His use of the term "self-deportation," to describe the departure of undocumented workers because of tough immigration enforcement laws became an issue during the November presidential campaign. Kobach was an adviser on immigration issues to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who also used the term "self-deportation." Some have said that hurt Romney among Hispanic voters.
During Tuesday's committee meeting, Kobach got into a discussion about "self-deportation" with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Kobach said, "Self-deportation is not some radical idea. It is simply the idea that people may comply with the law by their own choice.
"Self-deportation is something that Arizona has proven that if you ratchet up the penalties for violating the law, people chose to leave and it has been proven that they do that."
But Durbin said, "The voters had the last word on self-deportation on Nov. 6, so we're beyond that now. You can stick with that theory as long as you'd like, but I think what we are talking about now is whether America is a better country if we have an immigration system that brings 11 million people out of the shadows, to register with this government, so we know who they are, where they are, do a criminal background check, or whether we leave them in the shadows."
Several Kansas officials on Tuesday called on Congress to approve immigration reform.
"We need a national solution and we need it soon," said Allie Devine, a former Kansas agriculture secretary.
In Washington, D.C., several Republican and Democratic senators are trying to craft a bill to secure the nation's borders, improve legal immigration and offer eventual citizenship to millions of people now in the country illegally.
Mike O'Neal, former Kansas House speaker and now chief executive officer of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said, "A well-crafted and targeted worker program, coupled with an effective border protection policy, offers the best hope of a ‘win-win’ strategy.”
Others speaking in favor of a bi-partisan immigration measure were the Rev. Mark Mertes of Blessed Sacrament Church; the Rev. Jason Schoff of Mission Adelante; both of Kansas City, Kan.; and Bob Stephan, former Kansas attorney general.
"Hispanics and other undocumented workers contribute to our society and they deserve a solution to solve the dilemma that faces them and our nation. We must design a road to lawful status and citizenship that respects those who have been in line and awaiting naturalization," Stephan said.
The roundtable discussion featuring Kansas officials was held at the Savior Pastoral Center Retreat and Conference Center in Kansas City, Kan. The event was sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum.
Advocates for undocumented immigrants on Wednesday urged the Legislature to reject a bill that would establish an Arizona-like "proof of citizenship" law.
About 50 people with Wichita-based Sunflower Community Action assembled in the Statehouse to protest Senate Bill 140 and House Bill 2192.
SB 140 would authorize law enforcement to determine an individual's immigration status if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is here illegally. The measure has been referred to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, but no hearing has been held.
HB 2192 would repeal in-state tuition for some undocumented, college-eligible immigrant students. No hearing has been set on this bill either, but supporters of the current law note that the repeal could easily be amended into any bill dealing with the budget or education.
Several young people spoke at the rally about how they were brought to Kansas as infants by their parents who were seeking a better life for their families. They said they consider Kansas their home and that the proposed bills would provide a hardship for many hard-working families.
Children of undocumented immigrants rallied on Tuesday, calling on Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to resign and drop a lawsuit that seeks to end a program established by President Barack Obama that allows them to stay in the country. In an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World, Kobach said he has no intention of doing either.
He described the group's demands as "insane."
"The audacity of some people who are illegally in the country is amazing," Kobach said. "First they demand we don't enforce our laws and then they demand that a public official who wants to enforce the laws should resign."
Several in the group tried to meet with Kobach, a Republican who has been active in passing stringent anti-illegal immigration laws in several states, but Kobach's spokeswoman met them downstairs from his office and told them that Kobach wouldn't meet with them because his schedule was full and he doesn't conduct immigration-related business while in his state office.
"We don't do any immigration issues here in this office, the secretary of state's office," said V. Kay Curtis, who took a letter from the group and said she would give it to Kobach.
Erika Andiola, a 25-year-old from Mesa, Ariz., said she wanted to urge Kobach to stick to his state job and stop interfering with policies in other states. "We are asking him to stop using his time on immigration," Andiola said.
She said her mother was arrested by police two months ago because of Arizona's SB 1070, which was co-authored by Kobach, and requires local law enforcement to attempt to determine a person's immigration status during a stop or arrest.
"My mother was taken away handcuffed right in front of me," said Andiola. She was later released after law enforcement determined that she was in the process of getting residency status, Andiola said. She said her mother was initially stopped in her car because she was apparently "too brown" to be driving.
About 50 young adults, many of whom were brought here from Mexico and other countries as children, and their supporters rallied outside Kobach's office in the Memorial Building.
They urged Kobach to drop a lawsuit he has filed on behalf of 10 federal employees that seeks to undo a directive by Obama that allows young illegal immigrants who met certain criteria be allowed to stay in the country.
To qualify, an individual must have come to the United States before they were 16 and be a student, high school graduate or military veteran. They must have also been in the country for five years, and not be considered a risk to national security or public safety.
In a statement Kobach, who was an informal immigration advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said of Obama's action, "The Directive is an extension of the DREAM Act, which was rejected by Congress, and aims to grant an amnesty to 1.7 million illegal aliens. It violates federal immigration laws that require certain aliens to be placed in removal proceedings.”
But Ernesto De La Rosa of Dodge City said Obama's directive will enable students to work and study in the United States, which they consider their home. "We love this country and we want to contribute," he said.
The letter that De La Rosa and others gave to Kobach's office said Kobach has been an impediment "to our living out the American Dream. You have sought to rip our families apart and make our lives so miserable that we `self-deport.'"
Supporters of the DREAM Act on Tuesday plan to protest outside Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office and call on him to resign.
Kobach, a Republican, is known as the author of several state anti-illegal immigration laws. Many have said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney failed to get much support among Hispanics because he adhered to Kobach's position on illegal immigration.
The protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Memorial Hall.
The message from the protestors is "You cost your party our support. It's time to resign as Kansas Secretary of State, and to stop taking your anti-immigration messages to other states."
The DREAM Act is a proposal that would provide permanent residency status to certain undocumented residents.
Organizers of the protest said people from Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona and Georgia are expected to participate.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is vying for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to get more Republicans elected to the Senate.
Roll Call reported Thursday: "Moran’s boosters said his tea party appeal will help block primary challenges for potentially vulnerable Members such as Sens. Pat Roberts (Kan.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.)."
Some interesting dissection of the presidential race has focused on Mitt Romney's failure to attract Hispanic voters, and that string leads to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
According to this article in The New Republic, after Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into Republican Party presidential contest, Romney attacked him on the right as being soft on illegal immigration.
In January, during the Republican Party primaries, Kobach, known nationally for pushing tough anti-illegal immigration legislation, endorsed Romney and Romney praised Kobach.
"I'm so proud to earn Kris's support. Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country. We need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law," Romney said.
Romney even started using the same term Kobach used to describe how the Kobach-written laws were making people "self-deport."
But after winning the GOP nomination, Romney said in an interview with Univision America Radio that he had never met Kobach and his campaign described Kobach as an "informal adviser." Later, the Romney campaign said Romney and Kobach had met but not in formal policy meetings.