Polling data of likely voters show President Obama's US immigration directive last month is keeping him ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the race for the White House...read more
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has defended President Obama's US immigration directive to spare illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation...read more.
US Senators Chuck Grassley and Charles Schumer have struck a deal which will allow more green card applications from individual countries to be granted...read more.
Obama's US immigration directive paying off with voters
Barack Obama is enjoying a
comfortable lead among Hispanic
voters over his rival Mitt Romney.
Polling data of likely voters show President Obama's US immigration directive last month is keeping him ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.
Last month President Obama issued an executive order which put a stop to the deportations of all illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to America as children, have no criminal record and have either graduated high school or served in the military.
Both candidates are attempting to strengthen their appeal to Hispanic voters but it would appear Mr Romney's Spanish language ads aren't a match for the incumbent's directive as polls show the president leading his challenger 59% to 30% among Hispanic voters.
While the economic recovery is likely to remain the most important issue to all voters including Hispanics in November's election, Latino voters' obvious ties to South and Central America make US immigration policy an important issue.
A Miami Herald poll of likely Hispanic voters in the state of Florida, a critical battleground state with 29 electoral votes at stake, showed 53% of voters in support of the president's executive order and 66% in favour of whole scale immigration reform which would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country.
For his part, Mr Romney has said if he is elected president he will introduce bipartisan immigration reform which will address the issue. What measures he would take though are yet to be seen as the Republican nominee has remained particularly vague in his comments on the issue although during the primary he promised to veto the DREAM Act, which achieves similar things to the president's directive, and labelled Arizona's strict immigration law SB 1070 a 'model for the nation'.
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Homeland Security Secretary defends Obama over US immigration changes
Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano refused to rescind President
Obama's executive order.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has defended President Obama's US immigration directive to spare illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation.
President Obama's patience in his efforts to get the DREAM Act, which allows illegal immigrants the chance to earn US citizenship, through the Houses of Congress finally wore out in June when he issued an executive order to bypass Congress and enact similar policies.
The president's directive allows illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the US before they were 16, have graduated high school, earned a General Educational Development (GED) diploma or served in the military, and have no criminal record to apply for a two year work permit.
The president's move has attracted significant criticism, not least from Republicans but Secretary Napolitano has defended the directive.
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner," the homeland security secretary told the House Judiciary Committee.
"But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case."
The secretary referenced the ongoing US immigration debate in Arizona, a state she was previously governor of, for its emphasis on law enforcement agents' use of discretion in deportation cases.
"Indeed as the Supreme Court noted in its recent decision on the Arizona immigration law, 'a special feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials'."
Critics of the president's action have labelled the move as amnesty for illegal immigrants, Republic Representative Lamar Smith, who heads the committee Secretary Napolitano was addressing, said "the [Obama] administration's amnesty agenda is a win for undocumented immigrants but a loss for Americans".
Meanwhile, Mr Smith's fellow Republican Representative Steve King, who is planning a lawsuit against the president accusing him of exceeding his authority in even issuing the directive, called on Secretary Napolitano to rescind the policy.
"I will not rescind it; it's right under the law," the secretary responded.
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US senators move forward on green card relaxations
New York Senator Charles Schumer
US Senators Chuck Grassley and Charles Schumer have struck a deal which will allow more green card applications from individual countries to be granted.
Under current legislation, no one country is allowed to receive more than 7%, or 9,800, of the 140,000 green card allocations granted each year.
However, as many feel that current legislation limits the country's ability to give preference to highly skilled migrants in occupations which the US is currently lacking, Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer proposed a bill known as the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
The bill aims to eliminate the national quota and reduce the often decades long waiting period for highly skilled applicants from countries with high rates of application such as India and China.
Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley had placed a 'hold' on the bill which prevented its progress thruogh the Senate. However, after Senator Schumer agreed to add an amendment which gives 'greater authority to program overseers to to investigate visa fraud and abuse', Senator Grassley removed his objection and the bill will now move forward in the Senate.
The amendment allows the American Department of Labor (DOL) audit US visa applications before they have been granted, unlike under current legislation which permits audits of applications only after they have been processed and a complaint has been raised.
While many saw Senator Schumer's proposal as a positive step in permitting more people the opportunity to move to America, critics say Senator Grassley's amendment will create an unnecessary burden for the companies, particularly small companies without legal departments, that submit the applications.
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau.
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