Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Romney says he will ‘replace and supersede’ Obama’s immigration plan

    Romney in Michigan. (Evan Vucci/AP)

    Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama's immigration plan on Thursday, saying that as president, he would "put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure." While that plan is still vague, it does not involve a path to legalization for any of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants except for people who enlist in the military, according to a release from the campaign.

    "As president, I won't settle for a stopgap measure," he said during his speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla. "I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner."

    In his speech, Romney said that he would make it easier for legal immigrants to bring their spouses and children to

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  • Obama immigration plan—enough to energize disaffected Latino voters?

    Young immigrants rally outside the White House on Friday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

    President Barack Obama's decision to grant temporary legal status to as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants was met with praise from Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organizations on Friday. The new rule "gives Latinos an added reason not only to support the president but to actually turn out and vote," said Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Obama's campaign must be hoping that this move will encourage Latinos—who have the lowest voter registration numbers of any major ethnic group in the United States, despite their growing demographic—to register and show up at the voting booth.

    [Related: Six things to know about U.S. immigration]

    The president enjoys a big lead over Mitt Romney among Latinos, but he faces two hurdles in translating that sentiment into electoral turnout. One, registered voters must be enthusiastic enough to actually show up on Election Day, especially in swing states, and two, new Latino voters—people who just became citizens or citizens who recently turned 18—must be registered to vote.

    The challenges of the latter are particularly apparent in the battleground state of Florida, where a whopping 638,000 Latinos are eligible to vote but are unregistered, according to a recent report by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. That's several times the number of votes by which Obama beat John McCain in the state four years ago. It could be enough to sway the presidential election—but only if you can convince Latinos to register.

    Nelly Medina, a 62-year-old Miami resident who canvasses new voters as a volunteer for the National Council of La Raza, says that hasn't been easy.

    "The people don't want to vote," she says in Spanish. "There's a lot of apathy. The two candidates that there are, they don't like either of them … [politicians] don't come through on their promises."

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  • Obama explains new immigration plan, while heckled by reporter in Rose Garden

    President Barack Obama talks during his meeting with Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Friday, June 8, 2012, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    In a speech this afternoon in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama explained his administration's decision to allow as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.

    Neil Munro, a reporter from the Daily Caller, interrupted the president twice, asking him to defend his statement that the move is the "right thing" for the country. Obama talked over the reporter but later in the speech addressed him, again asserting that the immigration decision is the right one. Munroe again interrupted Obama. "I didn't ask for an argument," the president said sharply, ending the unusual exchange.

    Obama went on with his speech. "They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one--on paper," he said of the young illegal immigrants who will be affected by his plan. The sweeping proposal allows immigrants without criminal records who are under 30 years old, entered the country as children, have graduated from a U.S. high school and can prove they've lived in the country for five consecutive years to apply for temporary legal status and then two-year, renewable work permits. It does not provide them a path to citizenship. In his speech, Obama stressed that the move is "not amnesty," and he thinks Congress should still pass a broader legalization bill.

    The change could have big political implications. President Obama has faced criticism from the crucial Hispanic electorate for ramping up deportations under his tenure and for failing to deliver on his campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates and advisers worried that even though Obama enjoyed a big lead over Romney among Latino voters, a lack of enthusiasm could keep many of them home in key swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida on Election Day. But his announcement is likely to generate interest among many Latinos: 87 percent of registered Latino voters said in a Latino Decisions poll that they support legalizing young immigrants.

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  • White House to halt deportation of young illegal immigrants

    Students protesting outside an Obama campaign office. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

    The White House will halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants and in some cases give them work permits, in a sweeping new initiative announced by the Department of Homeland Security. The process will begin sometime in the next 60 days.

    People under 30 who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas when they were under the age of 16 will be immune from deportation if they have not committed a significant misdemeanor or felony and have graduated from a U.S. high school or joined the military. They can apply for a renewable two-year work permit that won't provide a path to citizenship. Applicants will have to prove they've lived in the country for five consecutive years.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters on Friday that she believed the move "is the right thing to do" and will help the agency focus on deporting criminals. "It is not immunity, it is not amnesty," she said. "It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system."

    Young people will have to proactively apply and pay for the temporary legal status at a local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. If the deferred status is granted, they can apply for a work permit.

    "I wouldn't say we are encouraging people to step forward," an Obama administration official told reporters. "We are making a process available and people can make their own decision."

    President Barack Obama was to address the change in a speech Friday afternoon.

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  • Student loan borrowers flood government website with complaints

    Graduates of Emory's School of Theology in May 2011. (David Goldman/AP)

    Thousands of student loan borrowers wrote occasionally heartbreaking complaints about dealing with their debt burden to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is soliciting comments from people who have taken out private student loans to finance their education.

    "My own children will not be able to get the help they need to go to college because I will STILL be shackled to my debt," one woman wrote.

    [Related: Wiping out $90K in college debt in 7 months]

    "I want to work hard, marry my girlfriend, buy a house, and start a family. I am barely treading water right now," a young lawyer said of his $130,000 loan burden.

    The consumer protection group asked the public for responses to help the Department of Education conduct a study on the private student loan market, and it published nearly 2,000 comments and complaints on its website. The group also released a student loan complaint system, where borrowers can report their grievances.

    [Related: How cities can keep young

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  • Justice Department drops remaining charges against John Edwards

    Edwards after a deadlocked jury declined to convict him on five of six charges. (Chuck Burton/AP)

    The Justice Department announced Wednesday it will give up its criminal case against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

    In May, a deadlocked North Carolina federal jury found Edwards not guilty of one charge of accepting illegal campaign donations. The group couldn't reach a decision on five other felony charges, including one alleging that Edwards knowingly used $1 million in secret campaign donations from wealthy donors to support his mistress. Edwards could have faced 30 years in prison if convicted.

    Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement that the Justice Department put forward its best case. "The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment. In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."

    The prosecution was short on proof that Edwards knew about the payments or that he knew that accepting them was illegal. "As noted

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  • Evangelical radio ad urges Christians to support immigration reform

    Richard Land testifying in front of Congress in 2010. (Alex Brandon/AP)As Yahoo News first reported on Monday, a coalition of evangelical leaders is funding ads on Christian radio in the battleground states of Florida and Colorado that urge listeners to support comprehensive immigration reform.

    "Christians should be known by their love," Southern Baptist leader Richard Land says in the ad, which you can listen to below. "As evangelical leaders, we are called by Christ to be people of compassion toward everyone. This is why we must speak out on behalf of all those affected by our broken immigration laws."

    Though Land, Liberty University Law School Dean Matthew Staver and other conservative evangelical leaders have been pushing for immigration reform for several years, a new voice in the movement is that of Jim Daly, leader of the Colorado-based radio ministry Focus on the Family. Daly's radio broadcast reaches millions of listeners, and he signaled when he took over the organization from founder James Dobson two years ago that he wanted to broaden the

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  • Is Romney’s surrogate right that US has too many teachers?

    Teachers wave at students as they drive away in a school bus on the last day of classes Wednesday June 6, 2012, in Mission, Texas. (Gabe Hernandez/AP/The Monitor)

    On Friday, Mitt Romney said he opposed sending federal money to local governments to hire more public workers, including teachers.

    Obama "wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?" Romney asked, referring to the failed effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Republican who ended collective bargaining for public workers. "The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

    On Monday, Romney surrogate and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu defended Romney's comment, arguing that there are too many teachers in some parts of the country where the student population has decreased. "If there's fewer kids in the classroom, the taxpayers really do want to hear that there will be fewer teachers, absolutely. You've got a lot of places where that is happening," he said on MSNBC.

    [Related: Towns offering to pay young residents' student debt]

    Is Sununu right that some districts have too many teachers? And if there are too many teachers, is smaller class size—a policy that Romney firmly opposes—responsible for the bloat?

    It is true that the growth of the number of teachers in American public and private schools overall has far outpaced the growth of the number of students over the past 20 years. According to recent research by University of Pennsylvania education professor Richard Ingersoll, the ranks of school teachers have grown 48 percent over the last two decades while the student population has grown only 19 percent. That's not counting teachers' aides, librarians, counselors or other administrative staff—just people who primarily teach in schools. (Private school teachers make up about 12 percent of the teaching force overall, and both private and public teacher numbers have grown faster than student enrollment from 1988 to 2008.)

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  • Focus on the Family president comes out in favor of immigration reform

    Rev. Dr. Marcos Rivera, left, leading a Spanish Easter service at the Primitive Christian Church in New York. The number of Latino evangelicals is small but growing. (Tina Fineberg/AP)Focus on the Family President Jim Daly has signed onto a document embracing immigration reform, joining more than 100 evangelical leaders in saying that illegal immigrants should be given an opportunity to become citizens. The coalition will run ads on Christian radio stations in the battleground states of Florida and Colorado encouraging people to welcome immigrants.

    A core group of conservative evangelicals--including Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, and Liberty University Law School Dean Matthew Staver--has been advocating for immigration reform for several years, but the Colorado-based radio ministry Focus on the Family has never before formally joined in. The coalition is releasing an "Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform" Tuesday at a press conference in Washington. The statement--signed by more than 100 evangelical leaders--will then be delivered to the House and Senate.

    "I think it's really going to give some new energy to the movement," NAE spokesman Galen Carey says. "Our focus is not just addressing ourselves to politicians but to our own communities and encouraging all evangelicals to take a serious look at the issue from a biblical and pastoral and human perspective."

    White evangelicals made up half of Republican primary voters in the first 14 primary states this cycle. But it remains to be seen if the high-profile evangelical leaders' support for immigration reform will rub off on the flock. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute in 2010 found that half of white evangelicals favor deporting illegal immigrants. Although most Latinos in America identify as Catholic, 10 million of them are evangelicals, and that number is growing.

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  • Jeb Bush says GOP primaries boxed in Romney on immigration

    Jeb Bush speaking in Miami in January. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

    Jeb Bush said on Monday that Mitt Romney's rhetoric on immigration during the GOP presidential primaries has put him "in somewhat of a box" for the general election. The former Florida governor criticized the tone of the Republican debate over illegal immigration. "I do feel a little out of step with my party on this," said Bush, who supports immigration reform. He made his remarks at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg, according to Ben Smith at BuzzFeed.

    Bush told reporters at the breakfast that even Ronald Reagan would have a tough time winning the Republican presidential nomination in today's partisan climate, in which working with members of the other party is seen as a weakness. He called the current partisanship "disturbing" and blamed President Barack Obama for increasing the divide between Democrats and Republicans. Bush is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Romney but has said that he would decline if asked.

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