Two Republican visions of America

“[I]n my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And (if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here). That’s how I saw it, and see it still”

President Ronald Reagan 1989

“We’re building a wall. It’s going to be a wall that is not — nobody’s going through my wall.”

Donald Trump 2015

PRESS CALL: Citizens, Immigrants and Legal Experts Respond to GOP’s Support for Ending Birthright Citizenship

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                     Contact: Katy Green

August 20, 2015                                                                                                                                     650-464-1545

**** PRESS CALL ****

Friday, August 21st at 12:15pm ET
DIAL: 800 329 0864; Passcode: CITIZENSHIP


Citizens, Immigrants and Legal Experts Respond to GOP’s Support for Ending Birthright Citizenship

Bad Politics, Terrible Policy, and Disastrous for the Country 

Washington, DC – Following the Republican Party’s swift rightward lurch on the concept of birthright citizenship (enshrined in the Constitution they claim to revere), U.S. citizens, immigrants and legal experts are speaking out about the dangerous of pursuing this policy.

On a press call Friday at 12:15pm ET, children of undocumented immigrants will join Ricardo Aca, DACA recipient who works at the Trump Hotel, and legal expert David Leopold to respond to the latest stream of anti-immigrant demagoguery; unpack what repealing the 14th amendment really means; and explain the broader political implications for the Republican Party as they continue to question the citizenship of voting age Latinos.


WHAT:           Citizens, Immigrants and Legal Experts Respond to GOP’s Support for Ending Birthright Citizenship

WHEN:            Friday, August 21st at 12:15pm ET

WHO:                Girsea Martinez, Member of United We Dream and U.S. Citizen Child of Undocumented Parents

Ricardo Aca, DACA recipient who works at the Trump Hotel in Soho

Hina Naveed, DREAMer and Organizer for the Staten Island Dream Coalition (Hina’s little sister is a U.S. Citizen)

David Leopold, Immigration Attorney and Past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director for America’s Voice

DIAL-IN INFO: 800 329 0864; Passcode: CITIZENSHIP

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice. 

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform 

United We Dream Action (UWDA) is a powerful nonpartisan network led by immigrant youth across the country. UWDA educates the public and promotes public policies and programs which advance the cause of dignity of all immigrants.  More information about UWDA and our sister organization, United We Dream at


For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact: Monica Reyes

Thursday, August 20, 2015                                                                                641-229-1419


DREAM Iowa Responds to Racist Iowa Radio Host: “Offensive, Dehumanizing and Plain Immoral”  

Mickelson’s Support for “Enslaving” the Undocumented Offers Fresh Reminder for Why #UniteIowa Forum on Immigration is So Important

STORM LAKE, IOWA – Yesterday, Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson reinforced his strong support for “enslaving” undocumented immigrants if they don’t leave the United States within a certain amount of time.

Per Joe Strupp of Media Matters:

“Influential Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson — whose show is a frequent destination for Republican presidential candidates — is standing by his plan to make undocumented immigrants ‘property of the state’ if they refuse to leave the country after an allotted period of time. In comments to Media Matters, Mickelson described his plan as ‘constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible.’…

“’All you have to do is put up a sign on the border,’ Mickelson said. ‘Just put up a sign that says ‘After 60 days from this date certain if you’re in the state of Iowa and you are here without legal status and you are criminally in the state of Iowa, you will become the property of the state and we will compel labor from you because you are a criminal and the 13th Amendment allows us.’’”

Following is a response from Monica Reyes, Co-founder of DREAM Iowa, a DACA recipient who grew up in rural Iowa:

“To say Mickelson’s comments are beyond the pale would be the understatement of the century.  His comments are offensive, dehumanizing and plain immoral.  To suggest enslaving me and my family is not just a personal attack; it’s a fresh reminder of one of the darkest times in our nation’s history.  This is degradation in its purest form.

“At the same time, it’s this sort of hateful, racist rhetoric that’s driving me to participate in the #UniteIowa Presidential immigration forum next week.  We’re sick and tired of the divisive rhetoric and hateful demagoguery of immigrants on the campaign trail.  Let’s start a civil, thoughtful conversation on immigration reform that’s driven by finding solutions, not scapegoating communities.”

The #UniteIowa presidential candidate forum on immigration will take place in Storm Lake, IA on August 29th.  Hosted by Kyle Munson of the Des Moines Register, the event will feature leaders from across Iowa on all sides of the immigration issue, including Democratic presidential candidates, Governor Martin O’Malley and Governor Lincoln Chafee. All presidential candidates have been invited to attend.  More info, including how to register for press credentials, is available at

Why aren’t the other GOP candidates standing up to Trump and his #hatespeech?

Donald Trump’s cynical appeal to Americans’ worst instincts is shameful. But what’s more shameful is that the other GOP contenders don’t have the guts to stand up to his hateful rhetoric, whether its hate speech aimed at Latinos (Mexicans in particular), Women, War Heroes or others. Jeb Bush hasn’t even defended his own wife’s Mexican-American heritage and is now using the despicable term “anchor babies” to describe American children born in the U.S.  Bobby Jindal, who is an American citizen only because of Birthright Citizenship opposes Birthright Citizenship. And now, Ben Carson, the “smart guy” in the class, is talking about using drones at the border to stop illegal immigration–forget the fact that the border is secure and illegal immigration is at it’s lowest point in 40 years.

Most experts say that there’s little chance Trump will be the GOP nominee. But most experts also thought he was finished when he went after John McCain’s war record. Or when he claimed Megyn Kelly was mean to him because she was menstruating. Yet Trump’s dominance in the GOP race has not changed. He’s remains the clear Republican front runner and the face of the party.  And now others in the GOP pack–Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal–are veering sharply to the right to compete with him.

This is no joke.

In #Immigration Executive Action Case, Arpaio Loses, Obama and Immigrants Win

Posted by America’s Voice

US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Dismisses Arpaio’s Arguments as “Unduly Speculative”

Today the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.  Arpaio had sued President Obama claiming that the DACA expansion and DAPA programs were beyond his authority and would cause harm to Maricopa County.  The Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Obama Administration, concluding that Arpaio lacked “standing” – meaning his claims of harm were “unduly speculative.”

This is one of four cases before the appeals courts.  The case that has received most of the attention is the Texas lawsuit in which Judge Hanen of Brownsville, TX enjoined the programs from going forward. It is now on appeal and awaiting a decision by the 5th Circuit.  The other two cases of note: the Crane case regarding the original DACA that was brought in Mississippi by immigration enforcement agents, which has been dismissed by the 5th Circuit; and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition case, in which the 9th Circuit has ruled against Arizona’s attempts to deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, a case now being appealed by the state of Arizona to the 9th Circuit Court.

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 29:  Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio attends the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC, which is scheduled to conclude August 30.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The following is a statement by David Leopold, former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a leading expert on immigration law and policy:

Today’s decision by the District of Columbia Appeals Court dismissing Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s challenge to DAPA and DACA expansion, the President’s executive actions on deportations, is a victory for the rule of law and a solid rebuke to Arpaio’s challenge to DAPA and DACA expansion. The Court’s opinion underscores that the Administration’s use of deferred action to temporarily shield undocumented parents and DREAMers is unquestionably legal—and has been used by Administrations of both parties since the 1960s. The opinion shows what happens when judges leave their politics outside the courtroom and make decisions based on the law.  We can only hope that the judges of the 5th circuit Appeals Court in New Orleans will also do the right thing and dismiss the equally meritless political lawsuit filed by the GOP before Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas.  But if the 5th circuit fails to do so—and creates a conflict with the D.C. circuit decision in the Arpaio case—chances are now much higher that U.S. Supreme Court will make the final decision on DAPA and DACA expansion.

READ: the DC Circuit’s opinion in Arpaio vs. Obama, dismissing Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s suit against #immigration executive actions

View the court’s opinion here –>Arpaio v Obama PACER doc 1567834 opinion

Anti-immigrant debate shows GOP still hasn’t learned from 2012 defeat

Republican presidential candidates from left, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republican presidential candidates from left, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Posted on by David Leopold

On November 7, 2012, the idea of Republicans embracing comprehensive immigration reform was a no-brainer. That was the day after Mitt Romney got hammered by Hispanic voters who rejected his candidacy for president by a 44 point margin.

GOP leaders stunned by the major electoral smackdown couldn’t get to fixing the immigration system fast enough. “While I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws,” Speaker John Boehner said the next day, “I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

Fast forward to last night in Cleveland.

“We need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly,” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump declared to resounding applause. Sadly, and dangerously for the GOP, that’s what has become of the party’s official platform on immigration.

There were 10 Republican hopefuls on stage last night. Not one took issue with Trump’s ludicrous contention that the immigration problems in the United States can be solved by building a wall. Not one pointed out that illegal immigration has fallen to its lowest levels in 20 years and that the nation’s undocumented population has dropped by 1 million since 2007. And, sadly, not one offered a detailed, thoughtful policy proposal in response to Trump’s doubling down on his hateful message about Mexican immigrants.

To the contrary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is by many considered a thoughtful, moderate presidential contender, pandered to Trump on immigration, declaring that he “is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration. They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you’re going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.”

To be fair, some Republican candidates alluded to fixing the immigration system, but only after “securing the border” – which has become more nuanced politician-speak for “we’ll never do immigration reform because we can always claim the border is not secure enough.” Jeb Bush, who’s gone further than any of his GOP rivals in suggesting he’d support comprehensive immigration reform, reiterated his support for some sort of “earned legal status” for undocumented immigrants, but was disappointingly short on specifics.

Unfortunately, despite Kasich’s promise earlier in the evening, none of the GOP candidates outlined serious proposals to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

Nor is the GOP’s failure on immigration confined to the presidential candidates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared yesterday that there would be no immigration reform this year, claiming that “the atmosphere for dealing with that issue in the wake of” President Obama’s executive actions on deportations “is not appropriate” – a position that makes little sense given that Obama’s executive immigration actions have been enjoined by a federal judge at the request of GOP governors and attorneys general.

The refusal to embrace or even talk about comprehensive immigration reform demonstrates a major disconnect with Republican constituents across the country. Despite the hard-line presidential campaign rhetoric, recent polling shows the GOP candidates are at odds with the majority of their voters. Recent polling has found 53% to 55% of Republican voters favor some sort of path to earned legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. That means that most Republicans are ultimately pragmatic; they want immigration policy solutions, not pandering to the extremists in the party.

The takeaway is clear: When it comes to immigration, the GOP candidates didn’t do the party’s eventual nominee any favors last night. It’s one thing to veer to the right during a Republican presidential primary to capture the base of the party. But the GOP presidential hopefuls – including real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump – would be wise to heed the words of Katie Packer Gage, Romney’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, who recently cautioned the GOP not to repeat her former boss’s mistake on immigration. Romney’s championing of the mean-spirited, inhumane and unworkable policy of “self-deportation” may have helped earn him the support of party extremists, but it drove him over the cliff in the general election.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Where do Republican voters stand on #immigration? Polls show a majority support earned legal status for the undocumented

From America’s Voice

Where Do Republican Voters Stand on Immigration?

Array of Polls Show Republican Candidates Pandering to Noisy Minority of GOP Voters

Washington, DC – Donald Trump calls Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he leads the GOP race.  Republicans in Congress trash talk comprehensive immigration reform and take up measures embraced by hardliners Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA).  Candidates on the campaign trail, with few exceptions, talk about border security, “sanctuary city” crackdowns and rescinding protections for Dreamers and the parents of American citizen children.  This must mean the vast majority of GOP voters are strongly opposed to anything that puts undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status, right?

Wrong.  It seems the anti-immigrant tail is wagging the GOP dog.

Based on recent polling (see below), it’s clear that a solid majority of Republican voters support a path to legal status or a path to citizenship.  A minority support a deportation-focused approach.  No question that the GOP is more hostile to immigrants and more skeptical about immigration reform than independents and Democrats.  But when it comes to the question of what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America, a majority of Republican voters are pragmatic.

Which raises a question: why is the GOP field so intent on pandering to the minority?  Because the base decides elections?  Because of the Trump Effect?  Because it worked so well for Mitt Romney?

Perhaps presidential candidates just can’t help themselves when confronted with a town hall that includes loud and angry white voters.  Perhaps the 2016 field is intent on repeating what Ron Brownstein called Romney’s original sin defined as lurching to the right during the primary and destroying your general election viability in the process.  Perhaps the GOP’s mining of white resistance to demographic and cultural change over a period of decades (AKA the Southern Strategy) is coming back to haunt a party in desperate need of broadening its appeal.

Whatever the causes, the reality is more complex than the caricature.  Below are some recent and relevant snapshots of Republican public opinion on immigration.

Republican Voters and Immigration: GOP Voter Support for Path to Citizenship or Legal Status vs Deportation/Removal of Undocumented Immigrants 

  • NBC News/Wall Street Journal, 53-43%: August 3, 2015 polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal finds asked respondents about three options for policies for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. – a pathway to citizenship, legal status short of citizenship, or finding and deporting undocumented immigrants.  Among Republicans surveyed, a combined 53% supported either citizenship (36%) or legalization (17%), while 43% supported the deportation-focused option (among all adults, 64% supported either a path to citizenship (47%) or a path to legal status (17%), while 32% favored deportation).
  • CBS News, 55-41%: Released on August 4, 2015, a CBS poll finds that Republican voters favor legalization of undocumented immigrants by a 55-41% margin (46% for a path to citizenship; 9% for a path to legal status; 41% they should be required to leave).  Democrats support legal status over removal by 86-13% (78% citizenship; 8% legal status) as do Independents by 68-25% (59% citizenship; 9% legal status).  In addition, 59% of all voters think most immigrants to the U.S. contribute to society rather than cause problems; most Democrats (71-19%) and independents (59-26%) hold this view, but Republicans are split, 43-42%.  Reflecting the more complex nature of Republican public opinion on immigration reform, CBS points out: “Trump leads among Republican primary voters on both sides of the illegal immigration debate – those who support legal status for illegal immigrants in the U.S and those who think those immigrants should be required to leave the country.”  In addition, the poll finds that 69% of primary voters are confident in Trump’s ability to make decisions on illegal immigration (40% very confident), while 62% have confidence in Jeb Bush on illegal immigration (only 13% very confident.  CBS also notes, “Most Americans think illegal immigrants are just as likely to commit crimes as U.S. citizens.  Republicans, however, are somewhat more inclined to say illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes (33 percent) than U.S. citizens (11 percent).
  • PRRI Polling, 72-25%: Detailed immigration polling from the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) captures the dynamic that Republicans hold more negative views of immigrants and more pragmatic views about solutions.  PRRI notes, According to the June 2015 PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, fully six in ten (60 percent) Republicans overall say that immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements; 12 percent say they should be allowed to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, and only one-quarter (25 percent) say they should be identified and deported.” But, as PRRI writes, “The June American Values Atlas survey finds that nearly half (48 percent) of Republicans say that newcomers from other countries threaten traditional American customs and values, compared to 36 percent who say they strengthen American society.”  Nonetheless, Republican voters still support path to legal status/citizenship in PRRI polling: “While Trump’s negative sentiments about recent immigrants are much more likely to be shared by older Republicans and Republicans with lower levels of education, the data also suggests that his appeal may lose some of its strength as he moves from rhetoric to policy solutions. Among Republicans, for example, negative sentiments about immigrants do not translate directly into opposition to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.”
  • Burning Glass/GOP Operative Katie Packer Gage, Iowa 63-29%; New Hampshire 59-34%; South Carolina 57-37%: Based on polling and focus groups conducted by her firm, Burning Glass, Katie Packer Gage, Mitt Romney’s 2012 Deputy Campaign Director, wrote a widely-noticed piece published in mid-June by Politico entitled, “Don’t Repeat Mitt Romney’s Mistake on Immigration.” The column noted that “GOP nominees chasing the relatively small group of anti-immigration primary voters – and giving opponents ammunition to portray them as anti-immigration – risk alienating 24 percent more voters in a general election than they attract.”  Ron Brownstein of National Journal dug into research and wrote, “The Burning Glass surveys found that when asked to choose among the three major options for dealing with the undocumented population, most Republicans across all three of the critical early states supported some form of legal status.  In Iowa, the poll found, 38 percent of Republicans said the undocumented ‘should be allowed to stay in the U.S., and, after meeting requirements like a background check, and paying fines, they should eventually be allowed to apply for citizenship.’ Similarly, 37 percent of New Hampshire Republicans, and 41 percent of those in South Carolina backed citizenship under those conditions.  Another 25 percent of Republicans in Iowa, 22 percent in New Hampshire and 16 percent in South Carolina said that undocumented immigrants, after meeting those conditions, ‘should eventually be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, but not be eligible for citizenship.’  Only a minority of Republicans in each state–29 percent in Iowa, 34 percent in New Hampshire, and 37 percent in South Carolina–said the undocumented ‘should be required to leave the U.S.’  “The poll also suggests that support for legal status may not be as much of a ‘deal-breaker’ as widely assumed, even among voters who oppose it.  The pollsters reported that only 17 percent of GOP voters in Iowa, 18 percent in South Carolina and 20 percent in New Hampshire indicated that they both opposed any legal status and could not support a candidate who did.”
  • Pew Research, 56-43%: A June 2015 Pew Research Center poll found that by a 56%-43% margin Republican voters agree with the notion that “undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements should be allowed to stay legally” vs. 43% who say they should not be allowed to stay legally.  Additionally, the Pew polling recap notes, “Just 34% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the GOP is doing a good job in representing their views on illegal immigration, while 59% say it is not doing a good job.”
  • CNN/ORC, 33-64%:  A July 27th poll released by CNN asked respondents the following question: “What should be the main focus of the U.S. government in dealing with the issue of illegal immigration – developing a plan that would allow illegal immigrants who have jobs to become legal U.S. residents, or developing a plan for stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. and for deporting those already here?” By a 2-1 margin, Republicans favored the enforcement/deportation option (Democrats favored residency by 69-29%, Independents by 56-42%).  Given that these results for all groups of voters are so different from other recent polls, it suggests the wording of the question skewed the responses.  In particular, the conflating of “stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.” and “deporting those already here” is the likely culprit.  For example, the first is a goal of comprehensive immigration reform while the second is the precise opposite of comprehensive reform.

Notes of Interest on Republican Voters and Immigration

  • Details matter: explaining the requirements of earned legalization and citizenship drives up support among Republican voters. As the pollsters at the Public Religion Research Institute recently assessed, “survey questions that make no mention of requirements immigrants living in the country illegally must meet produce lower support for a path to citizenship than questions that do mention requirements,” particularly among Republican respondents.  Similarly, GOP pollster Whit Ayres has noted, “Our research has shown that roughly one third of Republican primary voters will never support a path to citizenship no matter what the conditions…But two thirds will support a path to citizenship as long as the conditions are strict and rigorous.”
  • Focus groups of GOP voters in early primary and caucus states indicates openness to earned process of citizenship: Four focus groups conducted by GOP firm Resurgent Republic in 2013 of Republican voters in the early 2016 caucus/primary states of Iowa and South Carolina found that “[a] pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is acceptable to Republican primary voters if it is an earned process and fair to those who are already legally in the system.”
  • Likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers from the 2012 cycle more pro-reform than Mitt Romney believed: Evidence of a more pragmatic view by GOP primary voters was evident in the 2012 cycle, as seen in a series of polls of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa in late 2011 (see link for range of polling from November and December 2011 ahead of 2012 Iowa caucuses). For example, a December 2011 Washington Post/ABC News poll asked about “Newt Gingrich’s position on illegal immigration,” which included a path to legal status for some longtime undocumented immigrants, 34% of potential caucus-goers and 38% of likely caucus-goers said it was a major reason to support Gingrich, while only 16% of potential caucus-goers and 15% of likely caucus-goers said it was a major reason to oppose him.

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice. 

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform


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