About Me

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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, June 29, 2012

Immigration Debate Should Be About Recognizing the Dignity in Every Human

By Rev. Roger Mahony

June 28, 2012


The author is a contributor to The Washington Post's local faith leader network.

Two recent events highlighted the complexity of the immigration debate in our country: the decision by the President to defer the deportation of young people brought to this country as minors, and to allow them to get work permits; and the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Arizona immigration law.

As politicians ratchet up the rhetoric from every possible perspective, and as groups either applaud or bewail recent immigration decisions, there is one group in the country that really "gets it"—our young adults. They are the ones who will eventually take the leadership and make the changes needed in our broken immigration system.

And why? Because they were in high school and college with classmates and friends who were undocumented. They came to know them as brothers and sisters, not as a threat to our nation and our future. Our young adults don’t see an "illegal," but rather, someone with a name, a face, and a story like theirs.

This positive reality was experienced recently at Georgetown University as The American Project (TAP) gathered dozens of young adults from across the country to take a leadership role in bestowing dignity and respect on our immigrant brothers and sisters. The focus was on our individual creation by God, and how God’s commands to care for one another, including the foreigner in our midst, cascade down the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures. The voice of God could not be clearer nor more consistent, and our young adults really understood that.

TAP’s goals that weekend were to have young adults from various backgrounds meet each other, to discuss from their perspective the plight of today’s immigrants, and to form networks to spread across the country on behalf of immigrants.

This gathering was not about politics, policies, nor programs—the unfortunate quick sand into which most people so readily jump. It was about the faith-based values of the participants, their own deeply held principles, and their determination to promote more civil discourse around immigration—appreciating our immigrants as a real value to our country, not as a threat.

The young people explored many social networking resources in order to link others who are like-minded across the country. They challenged each other to return to their campuses, their work, and their activities as new instruments of understanding for our nation’s immigrant history and the current reality of how so many people view today’s immigrants as a threat.

It is hoped that TAP will help launch many other regional gatherings of young adults, especially those on our college and university campuses, expanding the networks everywhere.

No successful legislative initiatives will result until the emphasis shifts away from political advantage to this or that group, and refocuses on the inherent human dignity of our immigrants as brothers and sisters. It is obvious that the ones to shift hearts and minds down the road will be today’s young adults. Their emerging leadership sets aside pettiness and self-advantage, and approaches this national debate where the focus should be: on the individual human dignity of each person, and the resulting worth of each person.

Our young adults get it.

Cardinal Roger Mahony is the Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles.

Feds Look to Streamline Backlogged Immigration Courts

By Meghan McCarthy

June 28, 2012


Government officials have adopted a series of recommendations to streamline federal immigration courts, where a record-high number of backlogged cases has brought the "fairness and effectiveness" of the courts into question.

Changes proposed by the Administrative Conference of the United States are aimed at easing the more than 300,000 pending cases in the courts, where it can take an average of 519 days from introduction to a judge’s decision.

"That’s almost a year and a half when you’re just waiting for your case to be heard," said Funmi Olorunnipa, an attorney adviser at the conference, an independent federal agency that provides nonpartisan legal advice and expertise to government agencies.

The conference worked with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security for more than a year, looking for ways to make immigration courts more "timely, efficient and fair."

The recommendations ranged from finding more efficient ways for short-handed judges to use their time to doing a better job of informing detainees of their rights in court and letting judges sanction poorly performing attorneys - a power they do not now have.

"Judges sometimes feel like a school master without the ability to suspend or grade a student," said Lenni Benson, a New York Law School professor and one of two outside consultants who worked on the report. "They see bad behavior and are powerless to do anything."

The 37 recommendations were vetted by a selection of federal officials, administrative law experts and private-sector individuals at an ACUS meeting this month. After they are published in the Federal Register, Olorunnipa said, the conference will work with the affected agencies to implement them.

Most of the proposals were aimed at Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, which was created in 1983 to decide whether foreign-born individuals charged with violating immigration law, should be removed from the U.S. or permitted to stay here.

More than 59 immigration courts nationwide conduct "removal proceedings." Suspected illegal immigrants who are ordered to appear are not provided with an attorney by the government, although they can seek one on their own.

Olorunnipa said that 85 percent of the people who appear before immigration judges do not have an attorney. Many cannot afford to pay for a lawyer or have trouble understanding the procedures because of a language barrier, she said.

"There are some pro bono groups and organizations who will work for free, but those resources are limited," Olorunnipa said.

One major issue is a shortage of judges - one of six positions was vacant in March 2011, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

"What these courts do is really important and Congress has given them a tough mission," Benson said. "We were looking for ways to achieve a lot with the resources they have."

Benson said she and Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who helped with the report, spent more than a year surveying judges, advocates and government officials looking for ways to improve the process.

Besides recommending that judges be allowed to sanction lawyers, Benson and Wheeler recommended that judges no longer have to be there in person when someone files for asylum. Benson said that could save judges "days and days."

The committee also said that EOIR should "enhance the number and value of know-your-rights presentations" for detained immigrants, saving judges time they would have to spend explaining rights during proceedings, Benson said.

The report said judges should be allowed to address attorneys’ "lack of preparation, lack of substantive or procedural knowledge or other conduct that impedes the courts operation" and require some to attend legal education classes.

Benson said some of the changes can take effect immediately while other could take years.

Olorunnipa expects the recommendations to have a "profound impact" on improving the process in immigration courts.

"All the officials involved are very interested in improving the process," she said. "These are things they have been thinking about for a while."

Anti-Legal Immigration Groups Increase Advertising Ahead of Election

By Elise Foley

June 28, 2012


Of the many conflicts on immigration, there is at least one broad agreement: Both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have said the legal visa process, particularly for high-skilled workers and foreign-born graduates with advanced degrees, should be made easier.

But to a few groups that message is concerning, and they are increasing their advertising in an attempt to combat it.

Three groups that advocate for lowering even legal immigration -- Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Progressives for Immigration Reform -- are advertising ahead of the election, with some ramping up their efforts as debate over the issue heats up.

Most ads focus on jobs and unemployment, arguing that immigration hurts American workers. And although the groups disagree with Obama's immigration policy -- Roy Beck of Numbers USA said the organization is increasing its advertising in part because of the president's recent deportation decision -- they aren't 100 percent happy with GOP candidate Mitt Romney either.

"I think his positions on illegal immigration are fantastic," said Beck. "But I don't see any signs yet that he understands any better than President Obama that legal immigration is a labor issue and it affects the ability of Americans to get jobs. ... Both of them are, at this point, kind of clueless about that issue."

The organization, which does not endorse candidates, already was running ads, including during the GOP presidential debates in late 2011 and earlier this year. But in light of recent events and the election creeping closer, Numbers USA launched an even bigger advertising campaign against legal immigration earlier this week. The ads will run until at least the end of July on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Right now, they are running heavily in the District of Columbia, but Numbers USA plans to increase advertising in the future in Nevada and Florida, two states that suffer especially high unemployment.

The newest Numbers USA ad, shows a clip of a woman whose husband is unemployed asking Obama why he allows more legal immigrants to come when jobs are scarce.

"Let's reduce mass immigration and save jobs for Americans," a voiceover says.

Ads from Progressives for Immigration Reform are running this week on MSNBC, and spots from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, typically called FAIR, push the same message: that the government is giving away too many visas.

"Could your job be next?" a voiceover asks in the FAIR ad.

The idea that legal immigration is bad for the country goes against one of the few bipartisan agreements on the issue. Many Republicans, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), support legislation that would reform the process of obtaining employment-based visas. The congressman introduced a bill that would end country limits, which make it more difficult to immigrate from India and China, among other counties, for those green cards.

Business groups, including many in Silicon Valley, have lobbied for those changes, because they say there are not enough workers in the United States to take the high-skilled jobs they need to fill. Others argue that immigrants create jobs by creating new products or forming companies.

Obama and Romney each mentioned reform of visas for high-skilled workers in speeches last week at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials last week. They argued that those immigrants are able to create jobs for others.

"We want the best and brightest to enrich the nation through the jobs and technologies they're going to create," Romney said then.

The three groups advertising against legal immigration want to convince the American people, and then the candidates, to change their message.

"We want to inform candidates, and we want to inform voters so they can inform candidates," Beck said. "Our big thing is that immigration is constantly being brought up by the left and the right in all kinds of wedge ways, but almost never about the jobs issue, and that's our focus."

Some Alabama Boards Not Following Immigration Law

By Phillip Rawls

June 28, 2012


Some state regulatory boards aren’t abiding by a requirement in Alabama’s immigration law that they check the legal residency of people getting licenses to do business in the state.

The state Examiners of Public Accounts issued reports saying the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board and the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission have "not taken action to comply with state law that requires its licensees to be either United States citizens or lawfully present in the United States."

John Norris, director of the examiners’ operational division, said Thursday that most state boards his office checked are trying to implement the law that took effect in September 2011.

He said the two noted in new audit reports are the first cited by the examiners, but other audit reports are in the works that will mention a few others.

The examiners review state boards and agencies every two years to check their finances and their compliance with state laws. The examiners’ audits were first reported by WSFA-TV.

Jim Sloan, executive director of the Manufactured Housing Commission, said its attorney advised it to hold off because of legal challenges to the law and because the Legislature was considering changes, which were passed last month.

He said the commission was asking the 900 manufacturers, retailers and installers that it licenses for copies of their driver’s licenses.

"It’s a requirement you be legal if you get a driver’s license," he said.

He said the commission is now working to get into compliance with the law.

Chip Carden Jr., executive director of the Home Builders Licensure Board, said it held off for the same reasons and because of the cost of reprogramming its computer database and reprinting forms.

He said most of its 8,000 licenses are issued on Oct. 1, which was only a few days after the law took effect.

"We fully intend to comply," he said.

Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, one of the authors of Alabama’s immigration law, said, "There is a problem with bureaucracies not wanting to enforce the law."

With the examiners now checking for compliance, "hopefully people will get up to speed," he said.

Alabama’s immigration law is called the nation’s toughest by proponents and opponents. It requires a person seeking a professional license from a state board to provide an affidavit declaring citizenship before a license is issued. It also provides that applicants who are not citizens must be verified as lawfully present through the federal government’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. That portion of the law was not put on hold by any of the federal courts that have considered legal challenges to the law.

Those legal challenges are pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The court is moving ahead with the challenges after putting everything on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday on Arizona’s law, which was a model for Alabama.

SB 1070 Ruling Not Stirring Same Exodus Fear for Immigrants

By Daniel Gonzalez

June 27, 2012


Thousands of undocumented immigrants picked up stakes and left Arizona after Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 two years ago, but with the most sweeping part of the law about to be enforced, another mass exodus is not shaping up. At least for now.

Instead, many undocumented immigrants are preparing to wait to see how the law will be enforced after the Supreme Court on Monday struck down three provisions of the law but let stand the part that requires local police to check the status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.

"I'm going to take a risk and see what happens," said Israel Fernandez, 37, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City who has lived in the United States for eight years, the past five in Phoenix.

His comments, echoed by many other undocumented immigrants interviewed over the past two days, show a dramatic change from two years ago, when immigrants without papers began packing up, some within hours, after Brewer signed SB 1070.

That is partly because Department of Homeland Security officials said Monday that they were directing immigration-enforcement officials in Arizona not to deport illegal immigrants identified through enforcement of SB 1070 unless they meet the agency's priorities. Since 2011, the agency has focused on deporting illegal immigrants who are dangerous criminals, recent border crossers and repeat immigration violators.

"I think my chances of being arrested might increase," Fernandez said. "But I don't have a criminal record so I don't think I will be deported."

Two years ago, the Mexican consulate in Phoenix was inundated with immigrants requesting documents to return to Mexico with their U.S. citizen children.

But so far the consulate in Phoenix has not seen a rise in immigrants requesting services, Victor Trevino, the consul general of Mexico in Phoenix,said in a written statement.

"The Consulate General of Mexico continues to operate normally and has not registered an increased demand in the services we provide to our nationals," Trevino said. "Nevertheless, we have reinforced our outreach efforts in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. The Consulate General will continue to provide appropriate information to our community regarding SB 1070 as well as on the forthcoming effects and implementation of the Supreme Court ruling."

The consulate is holding a community forum to answer questions about the law at 6 tonight at the St. Matthew's Catholic Church, 320 N. 20th Dr.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, one of the main sponsors of SB 1070, said one of the goals of the law was to spur illegal immigrants to leave the state on their own out of fear they could be questioned by the police and deported following even routine traffic stops.

"Unfortunately," Kavanagh said, he doesn't think that will happen now.

"Had the Obama administration continued enforcement of immigration laws, then I think you would have seen a major exodus of illegals who were here out of the state and far fewer would come to Arizona," he said.

Instead, Kavanagh said, President Barack Obama has sent "a clear message that, for the time being, anyway, Arizona is a safe place to be."

Beginning of the exodus

In the weeks after Brewer signed SB 1070 on April 23, 2010, immigrant neighborhoods were flooded with yard sales as immigrants sold belongings to lighten their loads for the return trip to Mexico or to raise money to start over again in other states.

A March report by the Department of Homeland Security estimated that the state's undocumented population, which is mostly concentrated in the Phoenix area, may have shrunk by as much as 200,000 from the peak in 2008 to January 2011.

The exodus further dented the economy during the height of the state's housing crisis and turned thriving immigrant neighborhoods into areas filled with vacant houses, apartments and storefronts.

Senate Bill 1070 was the broadest and toughest of a string of laws passed by voters and lawmakers in recent years aimed at driving illegal immigrants out of the state through a strategy known as attrition through enforcement.

The collapse of the state's construction industry, and the implementation of mandatory electronic employee-verification checks under the state's employer-sanctions law in 2008 had driven large numbers of illegal immigrants out because they no longer could get jobs.

But the exodus accelerated after Brewer signed SB 1070, as fear spread that the chances of being deported would rise as police began questioning people about their immigration status as a matter of course.

In July 2010, however, a federal judge put most of the law on hold, including the most-feared "papers, please" portion that required police to check the status of people they suspected of being in the country illegally.

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected as unconstitutional parts of the law that would have made it a state misdemeanor crime for illegal immigrants to work in Arizona or fail to carry federally-issued immigration papers, and would have allowed police to arrest immigrants without warrants if they suspected they had committed a crime that rendered them deportable from the United States.

But the court upheld the "papers, please" provision. It is unclear when a lower court will lift an injunction, allowing it to be enforced.

Immigrants dealing with aftermath

Inside an office building on Seventh Street in Phoenix on Tuesday, volunteers began taking calls on a hotline set up to answer questions about the Supreme Court's ruling.

"I don't see a lot of calls from people saying, 'We are thinking of getting up and going,' " said Lydia Guzman, an immigrant advocate who oversees the hotline. "I am not seeing that now, but who knows."

Volunteers staffing the phones said the majority of calls were from undocumented immigrants seeking information about giving power of attorney to family members or friends to care for their children in case they are deported, indicating they are planning to stay.

"To me, that is a sign that people want to live here in the situation we are in," said Doris Marie Provine, an Arizona State University justice-studies professor who spent the afternoon as a volunteer answering calls to the hotline at an office building in Phoenix.

"I haven't had anybody (call and) say, 'We need to leave because of SB 1070' or 'I've gotten more scared because of SB 1070,' " Provine said.

Arpaio Won't Contest Judge in Racial-Profiling Case

By JJ Hensley
June 28, 2012


A hearing that threatened to delay a long-running racial profiling lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office became less ominous after Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided not to challenge a federal judge's impartiality.

The hearing in U.S. District Court Friday was set to determine whether U.S. District Judge Murray Snow had a conflict of interest in hearing the case because his brother-in-law is among 250 partners in a law firm that represents a class of Latino residents claiming the Sheriff's Office engages in racial profiling.

Snow's brother-in-law, Keith Teel, is an insurance, patent and product-liability litigator in the Washington, D.C., office of Covington & Burling LLP, according to court documents. Attorneys from that firm's San Francisco office represent the named defendants in a 41/2-year-old racial profiling lawsuit against Arpaio's office. The firm also represents any additional residents who joined the matter after a December ruling by Snow made the case a class-action suit open to any Latino residents stopped by sheriff's deputies since 2007.

The case will be decided by Snow in a bench trial, as opposed to a trial before a jury. It is scheduled to begin in late July. The suit does not request monetary awards but seeks to change the way Arpaio's deputies enforce immigration laws.

The potential conflict emerged in court documents earlier this month, when attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a letter with Snow assuring the judge that his brother-in-law would not have any involvement with the case and that Teel would not benefit financially from any costs or fees Snow might award to the firm if the plaintiffs prevail.

Snow wrote in court documents that he considered withdrawing from the case in 2010 after attorneys from the Phoenix firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which also represents The Arizona Republic, withdrew from the case and were replaced by lawyers from Covington & Burling. Snow concluded that Teel's distance from the case nullified any potential conflict.

Arpaio on Wednesday said he thought Snow would give the case an impartial hearing. He said he will not ask Snow to recuse himself unless something significant emerges at Friday's hearing.

"I'm confident in this judge and the judicial system, and I'm not asking for the judge to be removed from this case," Arpaio said. "In my opinion, this is just a ploy by the plaintiffs to delay the trial."

The case was originally filed in December 2007 and has been subject to several delays.

Last year, Snow awarded more than $90,000 in court costs and attorney's fees to offset the costs of depositions that had to be taken again after the Sheriff's Office produced thousands of records that it initially said were not available.

In 2009, Mary H. Murguia, the judge initially assigned to the case, recused herself after the Sheriff's Office pointed out that Murguia's twin sister, Janet, had made disparaging remarks about Arpaio and his office in her role as the leader of National Council of La Raza, a Latino and immigrant advocacy group.

Arizona Immigration Opponents Keep Fighting Against 'Show Me Your Papers' Provision

June 28, 2012


In the coming days, the fight over Arizona's immigration law will be reignited by opponents who will seek a court order in a bid to thwart a U.S. Supreme Court decision that says police can enforce the statute's most contentious section.

Groups that have already filed a challenge to the 2010 law are expected to ask a lower court for a preliminary injunction that bars officers from enforcing a requirement that police check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons.

Since the Obama administration failed in getting the requirement struck down on the argument that federal law trumps the state law, the groups will take a new tack: Attack the mandate on other grounds, such as the potential for racial profiling or unreasonably extended detentions for people whose immigration status is being verified.

But opponents face an uphill battle in pressing this strategy because the lower courts might want to wait until the requirement -- which won't take effect until at least July 20 -- is enforced to consider actual injuries from the law, rather than confront the potential for harm.

"My prognosis is that it will be difficult to prevail on a preliminary injunction at this time," said Kevin Johnson, law school dean at the University of California-Davis and an immigration law expert. "The Supreme Court suggested that it was going to allow this law to go into effect and then decide if any legal challenges held weight as applied to a particular case at hand."

The Supreme Court struck down three sections of Arizona's law Monday but upheld the immigration-status questioning requirement.

Without complaints of abuses in the enforcement of the requirement, opponents at this point would have to show that lawmakers intended to discriminate against Latinos when they passed the law.

But opponents could use a U.S. Department Justice report that alleged racial profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's trademark immigration patrols to make the argument that a police agency that already inquires about people's immigration status allegedly uses discriminatory methods to enforce the law, Johnson said.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit last month accusing Arpaio's office of racially profiling Latinos in immigration patrols and launching some patrols based on citizen letters that complained about people with dark skin congregating in a given area or speaking Spanish but never reported an actual crime.

The sheriff has long denied the racial profiling allegations, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they have committed crimes and that deputies later find many of them are undocumented immigrants.

The groups opposing the law haven't yet filed their new offensive in court, but believe the racial profiling allegations against Arpaio may prove useful.

"If you want to know whether (the questioning requirement) will cause racial profiling and illegal detentions, all you have to do is look at Sheriff Arpaio's record," said Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's immigrants' rights project.

The ACLU is one of many groups seeking to overturn the law and is pushing a separate lawsuit by a small group of Latinos who allege that Arpaio's officers had racially profiled them. That lawsuit is scheduled for trial on July 19 in federal court.

Matt Benson, a spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law and brought the case to the Supreme Court, said opponents had two years to win an injunction on racial profiling grounds but didn't do so.

Benson said the critics don't have confidence that officers will enforce the law without stepping on people's rights. "We believe that the law is in harmony with the Constitution and can be enforced in harmony with the Constitution," Benson said.

Arpaio's office said the Justice Department's allegation against his office of systematic discrimination against Latinos hasn't been proven. As for the sheriff, he wasn't pleased by the possibility that opponents could use the Department of Justice's case against his office as fodder for trying to sink the Arizona law.

"Just let the courts decide whether there is racial profiling, not the experts or those that have their own agenda," Arpaio said.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bieber, Gomez on the House Floor

By MJ Lee
June 27, 2012


Teen celebrity couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez made a surprise appearance on the House floor Wednesday morning.

Granted, they were there in the form of a prop used by Rep. Luis Gutierrez to help demonstrate the congressman’s opposition to a controversial provision of the Arizona immigration law that was upheld by the Supreme Court this week.

“This is for our young C-SPAN [viewers]: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez,” the Illinois Democrat said as he pointed to a poster of the stars’ faces. “These young people have overcome their very different national origins and become apparently a happy couple. I’m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country.”

“Oh, wait a minute. I'm sorry. Because I'm not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards,” the congressman continued. “Actually, Ms. Gomez of Texas has helped Mr. Bieber of Canada learn about his adopted country. Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers.”

Gutierrez, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, used other familiar faces from the media and pop culture to make his case that it’s difficult even for trained law-enforcement officials to determine — simply through a person’s looks or speech — his or her immigration status.

His remarks came days after the high court announced its decision to uphold what is widely known as the “show me your papers” measure of Arizona’s SB 1070, which mandates that police officers check the immigration status of an individual who has been stopped for questioning if there is reason to believe that they are in the country illegally. Critics of the law argue that it promotes racial profiling.

Other celebrity pairings Gutierrez presented on the floor Wednesday included journalists Geraldo Rivera and Ted Koppel (“At a traffic stop, to the untrained eye, we might guess that Geraldo Rivera, for some reason that clearly has nothing to do with the way he looks, might not be from America. ... They would know that Geraldo was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and that Ted Koppel was born in Europe”) and NBA stars Jeremy Lin and Tony Parker (“Clearly Lin sounds kind of foreign, while Tony Parker sounds American to me. But I'm not an Arizona police officer who would know that Jeremy Lin was born in Los Angeles and Tony Parker, oops, you're up. Belgium.”)

The congressman argued that the idea that a government official could determine who belongs in America simply by looking at them is “completely ridiculous, unfair and un-American.”

“And yet this absurdity is the law of Arizona,” he said. “The court signaled that it would be watching this law closely, and it should. Because we count on the court to protect our liberties, not restrict them, and because in America, people should always be judged by their actions. No person, not one, should be judged by the way they look, the sound of their voice or their pronunciation of their last name. Not in Arizona, not anywhere, not ever.”

After Arizona Immigration Ruling, Panic and Protests

By Ted Robbins
June 27, 2012


When the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona's immigration law this week, it left standing a provision requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. The ruling has already created a chilling effect in the state, and it has sparked protests.

Protesters against Senate Bill 1070 stand in front of the Arizona state building in Tucson holding signs saying "Reject Racism" and "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote." Patricia Carpio's sign says "Resistencia."

"[It] means ... we're not going to put up with this. It's just not going to happen. Just like the civil rights movement, we're just taking it a whole different way," Carpio says.

They're handing out fliers announcing meetings for the Coalition to Resist and Repeal SB 1070. The protesters are emboldened by the Supreme Court ruling, but they say others are afraid to go public.

"We are getting a lot of people who are desperate, who are panicking right now so I have to calm them down," says Maria Carrasco, who runs a telephone hotline for the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition).

Carrasco says she's gotten about 30 calls in the past few days from people who are undocumented or from their family members who are afraid police will stop them and turn them over to immigration officers. They are worried even though the Obama administration says it won't respond to many local law enforcement calls.

Protesters opposed to Arizona's immigration law march through downtown Phoenix on April 25, the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the law.
"I give them phone numbers of lawyers, the consulate. Know you have the right to remain silent. Just give your name and that's it. Remain silent," Carrasco says.

Everyone I spoke with here is a U.S. citizen, legal resident or visa holder. But some members of Francisco Miranda's family are undocumented. What will he and his son, also Francisco, do when the law takes effect?

"If it ... gets ugly ... maybe we'll leave," Miranda says. Asked if he would go to Mexico, he says, no — he would go to California.

That's exactly what the sponsors of SB 1070 want. It says right in the law: attrition though enforcement — get the undocumented to leave Arizona.

"I think it's a very good thing because I don't believe that people who came here illegally should be allowed to stay," says Arizona state Rep. John Kavanaugh, a sponsor of SB 1070.

No one knows how many people left the state two years ago after the bill was passed. Kavanaugh is hopeful the exodus will resume now that the threat of police action is real.

"Which doesn't solve the national illegal immigrant problem but sure helps Arizona," Kavanaugh says.

Back on the Tucson street corner, protesters aren't buying it. Many say even if older immigrants are afraid, young people — especially those who've grown up in the U.S. — are not.

"I came out all the way from Florida and it's because there is resistance and I think people really do want things to change," says Genesis Lara, a college student in Arizona for the summer. .

So as much as there's a chilling effect from SB 1070, there's also mobilization to keep families here, to report suspected racial profiling and to keep challenging the law in court.

Alabama is Lab for Arizona-Style Immigration Provision

June 27, 2012


Moments after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the "show me your papers" provision of Arizona's immigration law, the switchboard lit up at one of Alabama's largest Spanish-language radio stations as worried listeners called in.

"They're wanting to know if they're going to get stopped or arrested," said Orlando Rosa, the operations manager for La Jefa.

Alabama offers a glimpse of what may lay ahead for immigrants in several states that passed their own strict immigration laws modeled at least in part on Arizona's. Of those five states, only Alabama had been allowed by federal courts to enforce the "lawful stop" or "show me your papers" provision until this week.

That could change now that the Supreme Court upheld the section of Arizona's law that requires police to check the status of people who might appear to be in the U.S. illegally. The court overturned three other parts of the Arizona law.

Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah also approved laws based on Arizona's. All or parts of the laws were blocked in each state, and legal challenges can move forward now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the Arizona law.

Already in Alabama, even a chance encounter with police scares many immigrants. But they fear the Supreme Court decision could make things worse.

"Alabama is the lab for this part of the law," said Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery-based advocacy group that is opposing the Alabama law.

Javier Hernandez, who has been living in Alabama without documents for 12 years, spends time before he drives checking things like headlights and blinkers to make sure police don't have a reason to pull him over.

"You have to always be alert, make sure the cops don't stop you," he said through a translator, adding that he entered the country illegally to support his wife and two sons back in Mexico.

In northeast Alabama, where a large number of Hispanic immigrants work in poultry plants, Pastor Fernando Rodriguez moaned when he learned of the Supreme Court's ruling. With a congregation of about 300 people, he fears the decision will mean Alabama police become more aggressive.

"It's terrible," Rodriguez, of Lus a las Naciones in Albertville, said Tuesday. "Right now there is a lot of concern about the cops."

So far, the worry isn't translating into a new exodus from Alabama — at least yet. Management at two Birmingham-area mobile home communities with large Hispanic populations said they don't know of anyone moving out because of the ruling.

Still, some immigrants — both legal and illegal residents — say they are terrified of the requirement. They fear detentions will split families apart.

Many Illegal immigrants in Alabama say they are afraid to leave home, so they often travel at night. Some use cellphones and text messages to avoid police roadblocks. After parts of the law took effect last year, many parents signed legal documents allowing others to care for their children in case they are deported.

Rosa, the radio station worker, said listeners panicked reflexively when they heard something on the news about "Supreme Court," ''police," and "immigration," prompting the flood of calls.

"They're worried, frustrated, wanting to know how it's affecting Alabama," said Rosa.

Critics say the Alabama law already has led to racial profiling, even though the act specifically prohibits it and supporters deny it happens. Opponents say people are being held improperly and charged with random offenses. They say, for example, that a Hispanic car passenger was recently cited and detained for two days for driving without a license when he couldn't present state troopers with identification after the vehicle was stopped for having an improper tag.

"Folks have been stopped for no other reason than they are Latino," said Justin Cox, an American Civil Liberties Union who is fighting state immigration laws in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

A Republican sponsor of Alabama's law was heartened by the court's refusal to knock down Arizona's "show me you papers" provision, also referred to as the "lawful stop" portion of the laws. State Sen. Scott Beason said he hopes the Arizona decision will lead to more frequent checks of identification documents in Alabama.

"I do not believe there has been abuse of the system here," said Beason. "If someone is stopped with no identification, I think it's reasonable to say, 'Let's stop and figure out who this person is."

That's exactly what happened last November in one of the most high-profile cases yet to result from the Alabama law, authorities said.

Police arrested a German employee of Mercedes-Benz who was stopped while driving a rental car without proper identification near the automaker's car assembly plant. He was released after proving he was in the United States legally.

Critics said the arrest was an example of immigration policy run amok, while Beason says the law worked the way it was supposed to.

GOP sponsors said they wanted to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants they would leave the state, and that's what happened. Parents kept children home from schools, farm workers left the fields and mobile home communities with large populations of Hispanic immigrants in north Alabama suddenly had vacancies.

The initial fear died down after courts began blocking sections of the law. School absences returned to near-normal levels and at least some families moved back.

Still, state agriculture officials blame the law for a persistent shortage in migrant farm labor.

Mexican citizen Diana Garcia was among those who fled because law, but she returned in March because of a lack of jobs in Texas, where she moved. She said she has steady work with a Birmingham-area company because of a valid Social Security number obtained when her family briefly immigrated when she was a child, but she is otherwise living in the United States illegally.

She keeps an out for police, particularly now that the court has upheld that part of Arizona's law.

"I am here earning money to support my daughter back in Mexico. I haven't even seen her in five years," said Garcia, 28.

After a flurry of lawsuits was filed last year challenging Alabama's original law, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and lower courts blocked parts of it, and legislators approved an amended version this year authored by Beason. The new law eliminates the need for people to prove their legal residency when renewing business licenses, driver's licenses, and vehicle tags, but police are still required to ask for identification during traffic stops.

The president of the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, Terry Davis, said it may take a while for police departments to sort through the laws and court rulings and begin enforcing it all more uniformly.

"We're just figuring out which way to go to stay in compliance with federal law and state law and waiting on the 11th Circuit to take it up," said Davis, police chief in Boaz.

States Hope to Implement Immigration Laws After Arizona Ruling

By Mary Slosson
June 27, 2012


U.S. states with immigration laws modeled after Arizona say they hope to implement their own legislation soon after a mixed Supreme Court ruling let stand the most controversial element of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Five states followed Arizona's example in crafting laws requiring police to notify federal authorities when they have reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country illegally, and sometimes imposed other strictures as well.

Those states - Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Indiana and South Carolina - have found themselves in federal court just like Arizona, facing lawsuits, either from immigrant rights groups, the Department of Justice, or both.

Now that the Supreme Court has weighed in on Arizona's law, upholding police checks on immigration status while throwing out three other provisions, lawsuits that hinged on that ruling are moving forward, with no sign from the states that they will soften parts of their laws.

In South Carolina, state officials are moving full steam ahead with preparations to implement their law, which provides for a special Immigration Enforcement Unit of the state police, complete with special uniforms and marked cars.

The state police began hiring and training officers for the unit in January, and will be ready to start enforcing the "legal stop" provision in mid-July if an injunction is lifted, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sherri Iocabelli said.

Portions of South Carolina's immigration law, signed into law in 2011, have been blocked by a federal judge.

As in Arizona, South Carolina's law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if there is a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

One part of South Carolina's law not addressed directly by the Supreme Court's Arizona ruling makes it a felony for anyone to knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would ask the Court of Appeals to let that provision take effect. State Senator Larry Martin, who sponsored the immigration legislation, told Reuters the state would continue to uphold the state's law all the way to the Supreme Court.

In Alabama, where the law requires police to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally if the person cannot produce documentation when stopped, Solicitor General John Neiman said the high court decision did not jeopardize any provisions already in force.

The Alabama law, viewed as the toughest state immigration law in the country, also requires public schools to determine students' immigration status, a provision that was temporarily blocked in October by a U.S. appeals court.

That state's law came under fire last year when police briefly detained two foreign employees in the state's important auto industry for failing to produce proof of legal residency.

Some of the key provisions in the Alabama law are threatened by the Supreme Court ruling, Paul Horwitz, a constitutional law professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, said.

The federal judge overseeing the legal challenges against Alabama's immigration law has already asked for a supplemental briefing by July 6, Neiman said.


Utah's bill requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone detained for a felony or serious misdemeanor and the architect of that state's law, Stephen Sandstrom, believes its measures are in line with the Supreme Court ruling. Unlike in Arizona, checks are discretionary for those suspected of lesser offenses.

"The Utah law that I passed was exactly, 100 percent in line with the Supreme Court ruling," Sandstrom told Reuters.

Utah, which passed a suite of immigration laws in 2011, also passed provisions outlining a guest-worker program and allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. But those aspects did not take effect, and experts say implementation is unlikely.

The enforcement bill was the only one slated to go into effect before lawsuits by immigrant activists and the Department of Justice prompted a federal judge to put it on hold.

The judge could choose to lift the stay he imposed on the law, or issue a formal ruling on the matter. He could also call in both parties for another hearing on the legal challenge.

Georgia and Indiana are also awaiting rulings on their immigration laws, portions of which were blocked by the courts.

Additionally, the Supreme Court ruling could also clear the way for more states to enter the fray, according to Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State in Kansas who, as a private lawyer, helped draft parts of the Arizona law.

"When the state legislatures start up again next year, you will probably see those bills introduced," Kobach said, citing Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Mississippi as examples.

Already, Texas Governor Rick Perry has said he would again tackle legislation banning "sanctuary cities" that provide safe haven to illegal immigrants. He had backed similar proposals that ultimately failed in the regular and special sessions of the Texas legislature last year.

Did Justice Antonin Scalia Go Too Far This Time?

By David Savage
June 27, 2012


Justice Antonin Scalia has never been shy about saying what he thinks and never reluctant to criticize those he disagrees with.

For more than a quarter-century, the high court's term has nearly always ended with a rush of opinions in late June and a fiery dissent from Scalia.

His colleagues sit with tight expressions or distant gazes as Scalia sounds off, his tone one of anger and disgust.

His targets Monday included illegal immigrants and President Obama. Dispensing with what he called the "dry legalities" of the Arizona immigration case, he spoke of its citizens being "under siege" and states feeling "helpless before those evil effects of illegal immigration."

"Are the sovereign states at the mercy of the federal executive's refusal to enforce the nation's immigration laws?" Scalia asked.

Some said it was highly unusual, and perhaps out of line, for Scalia to cite Obama's announcement in mid-June that he was granting a two-year reprieve to young people who entered the country illegally as children. Obama may have called it "the right thing to do," Scalia said, but "Arizona may not think so."

Usually, the justices rely only on what is in the legal record of the case.

Liberal commentators and some law professors said Scalia's tone was strident and partisan.

He is "sounding more like a conservative blogger or Fox News pundit than a justice," said George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen.

Paul F. Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote on Salon about Scalia: "In his old age, he has become increasingly intolerant … and a pompous celebrant of his own virtue and rectitude."

Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former Scalia law clerk, said Scalia "was responding directly to the government's own argument. Scalia's basic point was to illustrate that the Arizona law didn't conflict with federal immigration law but instead was at odds with the current administration's refusal to enforce federal laws."

Scalia, now 76 and the court's senior justice, spoke only for himself. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented as well, but did so in separate opinions. It was hard to miss the fact that Scalia's reproach was directed at an opinion that spoke for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the two who are likely to hold the deciding votes in the court's healthcare ruling, set for Thursday.

Scalia has long been a dominant figure in the court's oral arguments. His quick wit and sarcastic jibes can ruffle lawyers, particularly those who are arguing for liberal rulings.

It has been much debated, however, whether Scalia's dissents have helped or hurt his cause. His take-no-prisoners style has won him legions of admirers among conservatives. But he has also alienated some of the court's moderates, who split with him and went their own way.

In 1989, he criticized Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she refused to go along with an opinion by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist that would have overturned the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion. O'Connor said such a decision was premature, since the case before the court involved only minor regulation of abortion. In a full-bore dissent, Scalia said her view was "not to be taken seriously."

Three years later, Justices Kennedy and David H. Souter joined with O'Connor and broke with Scalia to uphold the abortion right. More recently, Kennedy, O'Connor and Souter voted to uphold gay rights claims, despite fierce dissents from Scalia.

Scalia had a good relationship with Rehnquist. Both conservatives, they almost always agreed on major cases. So far, the same has been true with Scalia and Roberts. The big test will come Thursday, however, when the chief justice begins the announcement of the court's decision on the constitutionality of the Obama administration's healthcare law.

A Dissent by Scalia is Criticized as Political

By Ethan Bronner
June 27, 2012


When Justice Antonin Scalia read aloud from his dissent in the Arizona immigration case on Monday, including an attack on President Obama’s recent decision not to deport many illegal immigrants who arrived here as children, it raised some eyebrows. Mr. Obama’s policy was announced two months after the case had been heard.

But Monday was a busy day at the Supreme Court, and Justice Scalia’s contention that the administration was refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws was only briefly noted as analysts pored over the meaning of his colleagues’ striking down of key elements of the Arizona law and their ruling on juvenile sentencing.

In the days since, however, the discussion has mushroomed. Commentators from across the political spectrum have been saying that Justice Scalia, who is the most senior as well as, hands down, the funniest, most acerbic and most politically incorrect of the justices, went too far.

“Illegal immigration is a campaign issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if Justice Scalia’s opinion were quoted in campaign ads,” Judge Richard A. Posner, a prominent federal appeals court judge, wrote Wednesday in the online journal Slate. Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, is a famously conservative but also contrarian jurist who has criticized Justice Scalia’s focus on pure constitutional originalism as na├»ve and unrealistic.

Still, his critique this time was noteworthy for its political specificity, and it was only part of a much larger discussion of Justice Scalia’s in-your-face style as the term comes to a dramatic conclusion on Thursday with a decision on Mr. Obama’s health care law, a ruling with at least as many political implications as the immigration decision.

The Washington Post assailed Justice Scalia in an editorial that appeared online on Wednesday, saying he was endangering his legacy and the court’s legitimacy. E. J. Dionne, a Post columnist, called for his resignation.

Others weighed in.

“With all due respect, the man has a tin ear,” said Paul Horwitz, a professor of law at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. “When he loses on a hot-button issue, he sometimes blows his opportunity to be as persuasive as he could be.”

Justice Scalia in his dissent asked, “Must Arizona’s ability to protect its borders yield to the reality that Congress has provided inadequate funding for federal enforcement — or, even worse, to the Executive’s unwise targeting of that funding?”

He then complained about the Obama administration’s plan to exempt about 1.4 million illegal immigrants not over 30 and asserted that the court’s statement that Arizona contradicted federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act “that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”

In addition, he cited immigration laws from the days of slavery, something else that shocked commentators.

“He jumped the shark here,” said Gabriel J. Chin, a law professor at the University of California, Davis. “Harkening back to the ‘good old days’ of the law of slavery impeaches his position. He practically cited Dred Scott. The whole thing was intemperate, a screed.”

Jeffrey Toobin, who writes about the Supreme Court for The New Yorker, noted in a blog post on Tuesday that the last days of the court’s session “rarely show off the justices to great advantage. Like other mortals, they have put off doing their hardest work, so only the most controversial cases remain.”

He said the Arizona decision was sufficiently split that both sides were able to claim victory, meaning perhaps that a reasonable compromise had been reached. He then added: “That was not how Scalia saw it. After 25 years on the court, Scalia has earned a reputation for engaging in splenetic hyperbole — but he outdid himself this time.”

What Issues Really Matter to Latinos?

June 27, 2012

A recent Gallup poll shows immigration lags behind other issues among Latino voters. But immigration has dominated recent headlines and both President Obama and Mitt Romney are fighting to garner Latino support. Guest host Viviana Hurtado speaks with Kristian Ramos of a Democratic-leaning think tank, and the National Review's Mario Loyola.


This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Viviana Hurtado. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, a recent survey shows finances are the most common source of conflict for U.S. couples. We talked to one of our regular money coaches to help you and your significant other maybe avoid an argument before it starts.

But first, Monday's Supreme Court decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law is the latest in a string of news affecting Latinos in America. Both President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney have been making their pitches to Hispanics. This was from last week's meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.


MITT ROMNEY: Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative; it's also an economic necessity. Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs and they drive innovation at a very high rate.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On Friday we announced that we're lifting the shadow of deportation from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children. We should have passed the DREAM Act a long time ago.


OBAMA: It was written by members of both parties. When it came up for a vote a year and a half ago, Republicans in Congress blocked it.

HURTADO: Latinos voted at a lower rate than both African-Americans and whites in 2008, and we want to know if either side is doing enough to mobilize Latino voters this November. So I'm joined now by Kristian Ramos. He's the policy director for the 21st Century Border Initiative at the NDN. That's a Democratic-leaning think tank here in Washington, D.C. And he joins us in our Washington studio.

Also joining us is Mario Loyola, contributor to the National Review and director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He joins us from Austin, Texas. Kristian, Mario, thanks for joining me.

KRISTIAN RAMOS: Great to be with you.

MARIO LOYOLA: Glad to be here today.

And so, you know, in the last two weeks immigration has become headline news. Now, with President Obama's decision for dreamers on Monday and dreamers - when we talk about dreamers, we're referring to those undocumented or illegal immigrant students, who are college or those who are military-bound.

HURTADO: And now we're talking about Monday's Supreme Court decision over Arizona's aggressive immigration laws. It's become now a major talking point, it wasn't a couple of weeks ago. So, Kristian, let's talk about some polls. A new Gallup poll says that this is at best a top three issue for Hispanics in America, you know, with economic issues, jobs. Those are still out-polling immigration.

So is immigration, as far as it relates to Latino voters, is it being overblown?

RAMOS: I don't know that it's being overblown. The real thing that the immigration stance here shows is a willingness to lead, number one, by the president and number two, it sort of kind of underscores and highlights some of the character issues that you see with Mitt Romney, in the sense that, look, the president went out there.

He had bold leadership with this deferred action for deportations of the DREAM Act. And it's critically important to the Hispanic community. It's an emotional issue for Hispanics. It's an emotional issue for a lot of voters. Health care and the economy are also critically important to this community. I think both candidates have to speak more to all the broad range of issues.

HURTADO: And Mario, I want to give you an opportunity to respond to the immigration question because, as Kristian brings up, it is an emotional issue but, again, the economy seems to be an area where Hispanics are incredibly concerned, which is reflective with the general population.

And the recent Gallup poll, 19 percent of registered Hispanic voters said they were worried about unemployment and economic growth came in at 17 percent. That is above immigration policies that polled at 12 percent. Is there an opening here, Mario, for Mitt Romney to get his message across and connect, resonate, with Latino voters?

LOYOLA: Yeah. And the federal budget deficit, actually, for the group of Hispanic registered voters came in as important as the issue of immigration. Look, I think that there is an opportunity for Romney as long as he can keep the focus on the economy. The president can't run on his economic performance.

Maybe he can convince Americans that our economic woes are somebody else's fault, but he certainly can't claim a lot of credit for economic performance over the last several years. Conversely, immigration is an issue that hurts the Republicans. Right now, the Republican Party has a very serious image problem among Hispanics, which is, you know, the image that they're culturally anti-immigrant.

But if you can get over that barrier the way that, for example, President George W. Bush started to do and did demonstrably well in the 2004 election, in which Hispanic support for Republicans increased by 25 percent over previous numbers. Then you've got a real opportunity.

HURTADO: Mario, let's actually develop this a little bit. You were talking about how it is that the president can't show leadership on the economy and we were just saying that this new Gallup poll confirms latest polling about the economy being important for Hispanic voters and yet Mitt Romney continues to lag behind President Obama at 41 percent of registered Hispanic voters.

So what's this disconnect between Romney campaigning as the economic fixer and people's perception?

LOYOLA: Well, I think the general election has just been engaged and is just starting to be framed as a race between Obama and Romney. So we've got to let that coalesce a little bit. I think the important number to look at right now traditionally at this point in the campaign, six months before the election, a year before the election, the important number is the president's overall approval rating which has consistently been under 50 percent. And that's what gives the president and his advisors a lot to worry about.

HURTADO: Kristian, I just saw you saying absolutely no, you know, gesturing with your head no.

RAMOS: Well, I think the real issue here is - I'll tell you exactly why Hispanics are wary of Mitt Romney. On the issues that are important to them - on the economy, on jobs, Mitt Romney has come out very clearly and said, you know, where he wants to make his cuts, how he wants to balance the budget. He's tied himself to the Paul Ryan plan which is, hey, let's cut funding to public schools. Let's cut funding for teachers. Let's cut funding for police officers and firefighters and the middle class. Mitt Romney's sole campaign thing that resonates within his base is going after the Affordable Care Act, the health care act. He wants to do away with it completely. The Affordable Care Act is incredibly popular to the Hispanic community. People don't realize Hispanics are the most uninsured population in the country.

HURTADO: If you're just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Viviana Hurtado. I'm joined today by Mario Loyola, contributor to the National Review and director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Also joining me is Kristian Ramos. He's a policy director for the center-left think tank NDN. They're talking to me about what it's going to take to mobilize Latinos to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Mario, we know that the Gallup poll says that immigration isn't the top issue for Hispanic voters but with the recent news - and we're talking about the White House deportation of dreamers pause button that was hit a couple of weeks ago as well as SB 1070, the Supreme Court ruling this week. Is this going to be enough, Mario, to mobilize Latinos to register to vote? And then - this is as important - show up in November?

LOYOLA: Well, from the Democrats' point of view, they certainly hope so. The president recognizes that they have to keep the issue on immigration rather than the economy, for example, because the immigration issue is very divisive for Republicans. It's the major image problem that the Republicans have among the Hispanic community, is because of immigration policies and the very divisive immigration debate of 2006.

And so, that's why the president waited until now to do something that he could've done three years ago, which was to announce this policy refusing to unconstitutionally, by the way, according to many - refusing to deport the dreamers population. But the Democrats still have something to worry about, even if they keep the focus on immigration, however, because the depth of feeling among the Hispanic community is more in line with previous elections. It's not as strong as it was in 2008. And so, the question is even if Romney trails the president by 40 percent among Hispanics, are they going to come out and vote?

HURTADO: And I think that is the question, actually. Kristian...

RAMOS: Look, the reality is that there is enthusiasm for the president, I think, after his move to defer deportation for dreamers, but the other thing you really have to look at is- in 2008, we keep making this comparison - the other thing that you guys have failed to mention is in terms of a ground game.

To get out the Hispanic vote, you have to have people on the ground. You have to have a field team. You have to have people knocking on the doors talking to your abuela. In 2008, I was out there in Colorado and the thing that I saw was John McCain did not have a ground game for the Hispanic community and Mitt Romney has even less of a ground game out there.

So - yeah. I don't know that you can really say that the Hispanic vote is not going to be out in force because people are working towards making sure that happens.

HURTADO: Very quickly, Mario, what is the Romney's campaign's strategy?

LOYOLA: The Romney campaign has a challenge to get the issue away from laws like SB 1070, which offend the Latino community as a whole, and onto laws like Arizona's E-Verify program, which focused on employment verification. It doesn't scare anybody. It makes it hard for illegal immigrants to take jobs away from legal immigrants. Right? And it addresses the real economic incentive to illegal immigration.

If the Romney campaign is successful in making that focus and making that argument on economics, economic opportunity for legal immigrants and then tradition family values and all that, he may find a more natural constituency than some people think.

HURTADO: And, as far as voter enthusiasm is concerned, health care, we know is incredibly important to the Latino community. Certainly, we talked about it here. We have a very big Supreme Court decision that we're expecting tomorrow. How does tomorrow's Supreme Court decision on the president's Affordable Care Act - how does this affect voter enthusiasm that we've been talking about, if it does?

LOYOLA: I don't think that it will necessarily affect voter enthusiasm because the consequences of the decision won't start to happen in the marketplace or be felt by working families across the country until next year and the year after.

RAMOS: I actually think, in this case, it really hurts Mitt Romney either way. Again, he has an enthusiasm gap with his base of just general voters and the real problem for him is he wrote the original version of it. It's the only thing that he can talk about on the stump with Republican voters. If it's repealed, he has nothing to talk about, really, and even if this thing gets knocked out, you know, the Obama administration can do some fixes to it and it'll come back in a different version. And it hurts Romney in the Hispanic community, as well, in terms of voter enthusiasm because he so clearly wants to repeal it.

HURTADO: That was Kristian Ramos. He's a director of public policy at the 21st Century Border Initiative at NDN, a democratic-leaning think tank, and Mario Loyola. He's a contributor for the National Review and a director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Thank you both for joining me.

LOYOLA: Great to be with you.

RAMOS: Glad to be here.


HURTADO: Coming up, after Beth Howard's husband died, she turned to pies to make her life and everyone else's a little sweeter.

BETH HOWARD: Bring this really hearty, yummy looking thing to a dinner party and you'll see for yourself how the world can be a better place. People light up when you bring them a homemade pie.

HURTADO: Beth Howard talks about her book, "Making Peace: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie." That's in a few minutes on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Viviana Hurtado.


Obama Leads in Three Key States Amid Immigration Support: Poll

By Susan Heavey
June 27, 2012


President Barack Obama has staked out a clear lead in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida - three battleground states in the November 6 U.S. election - over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, a poll released on Wednesday showed.

The Quinnipiac University survey, taken just days after Obama's immigration policy announcement on June 15, also found strong support in all three states for the order allowing some illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to avoid deportation.

Overall, the poll found Obama ahead of Romney by 9 percentage points in Ohio (47 percent to 38 percent), 6 percentage points in Pennsylvania (45 percent to 39 percent) and 4 percentage points in Florida (45 percent to 41 percent).

The poll showed Obama holding a big lead among women, younger voters and blacks in the three states.

The results are outside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. Last month, Ohio and Florida had been too close to call, and Obama had led Pennsylvania by an even larger margin of 8 percentage points, according to the poll of nearly 3,700 voters.

The three states may be critical to winning the presidential election, and "no one has won the White House since 1960 without taking at least two of them," Quinnipiac said.

Obama is seeking a second four-year term in office and won all three in 2008. Nationwide polls have shown Obama and Romney in a tight race.

"If he can keep those leads in all three of these key swing states through Election Day he would be virtually assured of re-election," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.


The Quinnipiac poll surveyed voters from June 19 to 25, days after Obama announced that hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children could be able to avoid deportation and get work permits. Most illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanics.

Obama's action came amid Republican opposition in Congress to "Dream Act" immigration legislation supported by the president. Romney accused Obama of political motivation in making the policy change, but declined to say he would repeal it if elected.

"Voters in all three states voice strong support for the president's mini 'Dream Act' immigration order, and they say the president would be better than Romney handling immigration," Brown said.

In Florida, Hispanic voters said they would back Obama over Romney 56 percent to 32 percent - up 7 percentage points from another Quinnipiac poll earlier in June before the policy change.

More than half of the voters polled in Ohio and Pennsylvania also said they supported Obama's immigration policy.

The picture is less clear when it comes to the economy, a central theme ahead of the election as the nation struggles to recover from the worst recession in more than 80 years.

Voters in all three states were mixed on whether Obama or Romney would do a better job on the economy or improve their personal economic future.

Ohio voters gave an edge to Obama on the overall economy but backed Romney when it came to the impact on their personal situation. Florida voters said the opposite. In Pennsylvania, voters were equally split.

"For much of the last year, more voters in these swing states have said Romney would do a better job on the economy. That advantage has largely disappeared, at least for now," Quinnipiac's Brown said.