Archive for September 11th, 2012

Romney: I Will Do My Best to Overturn Roe v. Wade


Romney: I Will Do My Best to Overturn Roe v. Wade.

Mitt Romney, on Meet the Press this morning, voiced his full support for the War on Women, stating that it is his preference that the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

I am pro-life and will intend, if I’m president of the United States, to encourage pro-life policies.”

How would he encourage pro-life policies?

I hope to appoint justices for the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution. And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe V. Wade and therefore they return to the people and their elected representatives the decisions with regards to this important issue.

Isn’t that curious? Why just a few days ago, we had Karl Rove reassuring us that “no one is seriously considering ending abortion,”

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The DNC Through the Eyes of an Illegal Immigrant | PBS NewsHour


The DNC Through the Eyes of an Illegal Immigrant | PBS NewsHour.

Gerardo Torres used to be afraid every day for his life.

“I was very careful when I was driving around not to make any mistakes or bring any attention from the police,” he said.

For the past 20 years, he has been living in Arizona after entering the country illegally from Mexico. And like the millions of undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in the country, he faces the risk of arrest and deportation.

Instead of waiting for an uncertain fate, Torres joined a group of immigrants who have decided to publicly proclaim their undocumented status. They’ve called their project “No Papers, No Fear,” and they are calling for a change to immigration policies that they say have unfairly targeted and criminalized immigrant communities. For the past six weeks, the forty riders have traveled from Arizona to North Carolina in their so-called “Undocu-bus”. Along the way, they stopped to meet with community leaders and other undocumented families — discussing rights and explaining legal strategies to families facing deportation hearings.

Ultimately, the riders’ message has been focused on their final destination: the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. where thousands of delegates, media members, and police have converged for the nomination of President Obama for a second term.

With over 50 million Latinos in America, the group represents a strong base in the Democratic constituency. As in 2008, President Obama has made immigration reform a key part of his platform, and Hispanic voters make up a critical portion of the population in three swing states: Florida, Nevada and Colorado. But members and supporters of the “No Papers, No Fear” project feel that the president hasn’t done enough to fulfill his promise to reform the immigration system.

“That was one of the promise that he made to us,” Torres said. “and we’re hoping this time he’ll listen to us and help us.”

In marches around downtown Charlotte this past week, the group has repeatedly cited the Obama administration’s record for detaining and deporting more immigrants than any other administration in U.S. history and for the implementation of the Secure Communities program, which allows federal immigration records to be shared with local law enforcement agencies to target criminal immigrants.

Several of the Undocu bus riders, including Torres, blocked the street in front of the convention site shouting the words, “undocumented and unafraid,” as an act of civil disobedience this past Wednesday. All ten were arrested for blocking traffic but were released by the next morning.

Torres says he will return to Arizona to fight against the state’s immigration laws, particularly the controversial SB-1070 law that permits police officers to ask anyone for their immigration papers if police suspect them of being undocumented.

“We have come out of the shadows,” said Torres, “and we are no longer willing to stay quiet.”

Program Offering Immigrants Reprieve Is Off to Quick Start – NYTimes.com


Program Offering Immigrants Reprieve Is Off to Quick Start – NYTimes.com.

One month after the Obama administration started a program to suspend deportations of young illegal immigrants, more than 72,000 of them have applied for the temporary reprieve, senior immigration officials said on Tuesday, and this week the first approvals have been granted.
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The figures for applications received so far — the first results the administration has released since a federal agency began receiving the documents on Aug. 15 — show that large numbers of young immigrants are ready to take the risk of coming forward, administration officials and immigrant advocates said, and that the agency in charge has been able to manage the rush of paperwork.

The immigrants requesting two-year deportation deferrals do not reach the high estimates of 250,000 that officials had said they were prepared to handle in the first month of the program, which is President Obama’s most significant immigration initiative.

But at the current rate, at least 200,000 young immigrants could have applications in the pipeline by the time of the presidential election on Nov. 6, and many thousands will probably have received deferrals and the work permits that go along with them. Officials originally predicted that it could take several months for the immigration agency, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, to issue the first deferrals.

The intense activity around the program in immigrant communities, especially among Latinos, has already yielded some political benefits to Mr. Obama, with Democrats repeatedly highlighting the initiative during their convention last week, to cheers from the floor. Initiated by an executive action, the program grants deportation deferrals that must be renewed after two years, and it does not provide any legal immigration status.

Pressure is increasing on Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, to clarify his position on the program. He has not said whether he would continue it if he is elected, although he has said he would prefer “a more permanent solution” for young illegal immigrants.

The surge of applicants has not been greater, lawyers and advocates said, because of difficulties many young immigrants have encountered in gathering the documents they need to meet the program’s requirements and in mustering the $465 application fee, a hefty sum for many. Since the program has no filing deadline, eligible young people are taking time to consult with their families, weighing the benefits for them against possible risks for parents and siblings here illegally who are not eligible.

“There has been huge interest in community programs where people can get information,” said Laura Lichter, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who practices in Denver. “But these applications are not something you would be ready to go with in one day. They take a fair amount of work. And we have to be sure people understand the risks they are taking.”

To qualify, illegal immigrants must be under 31 years old and have come to the United States before they were 16. They must show that they have lived here continuously since June 15, 2007, and be currently in school or have earned a high school diploma or have been honorably discharged from the military. They must pass a background check to show they do not have any significant criminal record or pose a threat to national security.

The program posed a test for the immigration agency, known as U.S.C.I.S., which has not been known for brisk efficiency. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group, as many as 1.2 million illegal immigrants could be immediately eligible for the program.

Given only two months to prepare, Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of the agency, worked to rally its 18,000 employees, including some 11,000 federal workers, to rise to the task. The applications — sheaves of school transcripts, utility and other bills, rental contracts or other documents immigrants can find to track their daily lives over the past five years — have to be submitted by mail.

Operating in the bureaucratic equivalent of a blitz, the agency has been issuing receipts for applications within 48 hours after they were logged in, Mr. Mayorkas said. Fingerprints and photographs are taken for background checks, generally within three weeks after an application is received.

The first applicants gave their fingerprints last Thursday, Mr. Mayorkas said, and the checks were completed by Monday. The agency is equipped to perform the criminal checks, Department of Homeland Security officials said, because those are required for most visas the agency routinely issues.

Completed applications first reached the decision-making officers on Monday. By that afternoon the first few approvals were issued, Mr. Mayorkas said, with several dozen more on Tuesday. Some immigrants were notified immediately by text message.

“If somebody submits documents that show by the preponderance of the evidence that they meet the guidelines, we are poised to move the cases as quickly as possible,” Mr. Mayorkas said.

Mr. Mayorkas said he expected the first work permits, which are approved in a separate but parallel process, to be issued in coming weeks.

Administration officials have said the program will be paid for by fees, with no taxpayer money invested. California is leading in applications, not surprisingly, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and New Jersey. By far the largest number of applicants was born in Mexico. But officials said a surprisingly large number of applications came from South Koreans, a much smaller population of immigrants.

As the deferral program expands, resistance to it has grown among Republicans in Congress, who say it is undermining the administration’s broader enforcement against illegal immigration and making it difficult for immigration agents to do their jobs.

In a letter on Tuesday to John Morton, the director of the agency in charge of enforcement, Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, wrote, “There is no question that the administration’s unilaterally decreed policy is contrary to codified federal law and places our law enforcement officers in an untenable position.”
A version of this article appeared in print on September 12, 2012, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Quick Start to Program Offering Immigrants a Reprieve.

TV Host Jim Cramer Says Father Will Not Be Allowed To Vote Because Of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law


TV Host Jim Cramer Says Father Will Not Be Allowed To Vote Because Of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law.

Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s finance program Mad Money, is seeing the effects of voter suppression laws firsthand.

This morning, Cramer tweeted about his father, a Pennsylvania resident who stands to lose his right to vote because of the state’s new restrictive voter ID law. Like thousands of Pennsylvania who could be disenfranchised in November, Cramer’s father lacks a voter ID because he’s a senior citizen and does not drive. Cramer also noted that he doesn’t have access to his citizenship documents.

House Republicans seek to block welfare waivers requested by GOP governors | The Raw Story


House Republicans seek to block welfare waivers requested by GOP governors | The Raw Story.

House Republicans have introduced legislation to prevent the Obama administration from allowing some states to waive certain provisions of the welfare reform law enacted in 1996.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in July that it was seeking to provide states with more flexibility to administer the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) program. George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said the law contained “mind-numbing details about how to run a welfare-to-work program” and offered to waive some of those federal regulations.

The TANF program — which helps poor families with children pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities and personal care items — requires those receiving payments to be employed or looking for work. Nearly four million Americans currently receive TANF payments.

Republicans have falsely claimed that the Obama administration was seeking to roll back the work requirements in the law.

“The president’s waiver scheme will roll back bipartisan welfare reforms that helped end dependency, reduce poverty, and strengthen income security for countless families,” Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said in a statement. “We did not ask for this fight, but we will not stand by while the president runs roughshod over the law and promotes policies that will hurt families and taxpayers.”

The waivers, which have been requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada, would only allow states to test pilot programs designed to improve employment outcomes in the welfare program. Pilot programs that do not increase employment will be terminated.

“This resolution is nothing more than a political stunt,” Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said in a statement. “It is based on a widely circulated lie. Nearly every conceivable independent fact-checker has debunked the Republicans’ claims. This resolution wastes precious legislative time when we should be working together to provide solutions for the real problems confronting American families, not fabricated ones.”

Death is Near (Ca