Immigration Newsletter

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another "Dream Act" Nightmare

Daniela Pelaez is practically a poster child for the Dream Act: a high school valedictorian, dreams of becoming a doctor -- and an undocumented immigrant. She’s also dredging up the depth of division over immigration issues within the Republican Party. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs who stepped in to rally crucial support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Pelaez’s home state of Florida, is publicly breaking with him over whether the children of unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United States. After an immigration judge denied Pelaez’s residency bid and issued an order of voluntary deportation last week, Ros-Lehtinen jumped in. She sent a letter directly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director of congressional relations, asking him to block the deportation. “I respectfully request your intervention with the appropriate agencies to ensure deferred action and a stay of deportation for 18 year old Daniela Pelaez and her sister Dayana Pelaez,” the letter said. The division within the GOP goes beyond the Pelaez case. The conservative Latino group Somos Republicanos has lashed out at Romney for his immigration stances, and is locking horns with Colorado Hispanic Republicans over a fight in that state on whether to allow in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Similarly, the national group Café Con Leche Republicans has battled with GOP politicians over strict Arizona-style illegal immigrant crackdown laws. “There’s a small minority of Republican politicians who are extreme on the issue and they’re very vocal," Bob Quasius, the founder and head of Café Con Leche Republicans, told The Huffington Post. "And their voice is the one that most Latinos are likely to hear." He may be right. Polls repeatedly show overwhelming support for the Dream Act from Latinos, and even from non-Hispanics. A Pew Hispanic Center poll released at the end of December put the number in favor of the Act at nine out of 10 Hispanics. A Fox News Latino/Latino Insights poll just this week found almost identical results. The poll also found nearly as strong support among Latino voters for a path to citizenship, with 85.9 percent in favor. That may be more reflective of voters in general, including Republican Party members, than the candidates appear to be acknowledging. A Fox News poll released in December found that 66 percent of registered voters support a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, if they learn English, pay back taxes and successfully pass a background check. So did 57 percent of Republican voters -- under these same conditions. See the Huffington Post for the rest of the article