Entries in Citizenship (7)


Jeb Bush: No Path to Citizenship in Immigration Reform

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Monday that he does not support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., a central provision of immigration reform plans being considered by Congress.

Bush has long chided the Republican Party to adopt immigration reform and improve its outreach to minority and immigrant voters.  But he said that a path to citizenship would violate the rule of law, and instead is proposing giving a path to legal permanent residency to many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

"Our proposal is a proposal that looks forward.  And if we want to create an immigration policy that's going to work, we can't continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration," Bush said during an interview on NBC's Today show.  "I think it is important that there is a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law.  This is the right place, I think, to be in that sense.  Not to take away people's rights."

Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is promoting his new book titled Immigration Wars that he co-authored with conservative attorney Clint Bolick.  It hits store shelves this week, and it will include concrete details on how they believe immigration reform should be handled.

The ex-governor's stance is notable because of his reputation as an immigration moderate within the GOP, especially during the 2012 campaign season.  Yet, Bush's position on a path to citizenship is to the right of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" Senate proposal, which has been endorsed by his former political mentee Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several other Republican lawmakers.

The Senate's plan would offer temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who apply, pass a criminal background check, pay fees, and back taxes, and learn English.  Those eligible immigrants would then be able to pursue a green card, and then full citizenship once certain border-security metrics are met along the U.S.-Mexico border.  

President Obama's plan contains a more direct path to citizenship that is not specifically tied to a border security "trigger."

A path to citizenship has long been the number-one policy priority for immigrant-rights groups, who say that citizenship is necessary for immigrants to compete in society.  The alternative, according to these groups, is a population of second-class citizens.

But Bush aligned himself with other Republicans who say that a path to full citizenship is not necessary.

"Half the people in '86 that could have gotten amnesty didn't apply.  Many people don't want to be citizens of our country," he said.  "They want to come here, they want to work hard, they want to provide for their families. Some of them want to come home, not necessarily all of them want to stay as citizens."

He said that offering a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. could incentivize future waves of illegal immigration.

"I think there has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally," Bush said.  "It is just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law.  If we're not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, we're going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Poll: Majority Supports Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most Americans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, an issue that may be high on the agenda of newly re-elected President Obama and the 113th Congress, given the increased importance of nonwhites -- including Hispanic voters -- in the nation’s political equation.

On two other prominent social issues in last week’s voting, a bare majority continues to support legalizing gay marriage, and this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds a new high -- 48 percent -- in support for legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.


A PATH: Fifty-seven percent of Americans in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 39 percent opposed.  That’s virtually identical to results of a similar question last asked in mid-2010, with support up from its earlier levels, as low as 49 percent in late 2007.

Debate on the issue was heightened by restrictive immigration policies enacted in Arizona in 2010 and Alabama in 2011, and in June, when Obama moved in another direction, granting immunity from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.

Hispanics accounted for 10 percent of voters in last Tuesday’s presidential election, reaching double-digits for the first time, and Obama won them by 71-27 percent, improving on his 2008 margin in this group.  In the exit poll, voters overall -- by more than 2-1 -- said illegal immigrants working here should be offered a chance to apply for legal status rather than being deported.

In this survey, support for a path to citizenship peaks at 82 percent among Hispanics, 71 percent among Democrats and liberals alike, and 69 percent among young adults -- all key Obama groups.  Support’s at 68 percent among nonwhites overall, compared with 51 percent among non-Hispanic whites. 

Obama lost white voters by 20 points last week, but won nonwhites -- who accounted for a record 28 percent of the electorate -- by 61 points.  It was a record racial gap.

GAY MARRIAGE: Fifty-one percent of Americans support gay marriage, slightly more than half for the fifth time straight in ABC/Post polls since March 2011, and up sharply from its levels in similar questions earlier this decade, as low as 32 percent (of registered voters) in mid-2004.

More in this survey are “opposed” to gay marriage -- 47 percent -- than said in recent polls that it should be “illegal” (39 percent last May), likely because making something illegal is more punitive than opposing it personally.

While 30 states have constitutionally banned gay marriage, voters approved pro-gay marriage ballot initiatives in Maryland, Maine and Washington last week, and those in Minnesota rejected a constitutional ban on it.  Obama announced his personal support for gay marriage in May, saying individual states should decide on its legality.

Last week’s exit poll found voters similarly divided -- 49-46 percent -- on gay marriage.  Supporters favored Obama over Mitt Romney by 73-25 percent.  And Obama won gay and lesbian voters -- 5 percent of the electorate -- by 76-22 percent, vs. 70-27 percent in 2008.

Support for gay marriage in this poll tops out at more than three in four liberals and more than six in 10 young adults and Democrats.  It’s opposed by a broad 81 percent of those who describe themselves as “very conservative,” and by two-thirds of senior citizens.

Relaxing restrictions on marijuana met with mixed results on Election Day.  It was approved by voters in Colorado, Washington and Massachusetts, but rejected in Arkansas and Oregon.

Americans split by 48-50 percent in this survey on “legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”  Nonetheless, that marks a new high in support in polls back to 1985, and the first time opposition has slipped to less than a majority.  Support for legalizing marijuana has grown sharply from just 22 percent in 1997.

Despite increased acceptance of the idea, intensity of sentiment is tilted against relaxing marijuana restrictions: Thirty-seven percent are strongly opposed to legalization, vs. 26 percent who strongly support it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


$465 for Legal Status Under Obama’s ‘Dream Act’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration will formally begin granting some young undocumented immigrants legal status and work permits later this month under a controversial new policy first announced by President Obama in June.

The Department of Homeland Security Friday announced details of the application and approval process for the DREAM Act-like program, outlining specific eligibility requirements and a $465 fee. It will begin Aug. 15.

Illegal immigrants younger than 30 who came to the United States before age 16, have lived here for at least five years continuously, attend or have graduated from high school or college, and have no criminal convictions are eligible to submit requests for so-called deferred action. In other words, they would be exempt from deportation.

The administration said documentation provided by each applicant will be reviewed individually on a case-by-case basis at one of four service centers run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.  It’s unclear how long each review will take, but some immigrants are expected to receive temporary legal status before Election Day.

While the “dreamers” will not obtain a path to citizenship or the right to vote, Obama’s policy shift -- circumventing Congress with executive action – has been widely seen as a politically motivated nod to Hispanics who have long sought the change.

Obama’s Republican critics Friday sharply assailed the new policy as unconstitutional and out of touch with the jobs crisis U.S. citizens face.

“Today’s deferred action guidance is another example of how the president’s policies put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said.

“On the same day the unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent, the Obama administration announced a requirement for illegal immigrants to apply to be able to work in the U.S.,” the GOP congressman from Texas said. “The administration’s guidelines don’t just encourage illegal immigrants to work in the U.S., they actually require them to apply to do so.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the process is a compassionate and common-sense approach to a group of individuals who were brought to the United States illegally by no fault of their own and have grown up as Americans.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Napolitano said in a statement. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.

“Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bachmann Withdraws Swiss Dual Citizenship

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite in Congress, now says she is withdrawing her dual citizenship from Switzerland.

“Today I sent a letter to the Swiss Consulate requesting withdrawal of my dual Swiss citizenship, which was conferred upon me by operation of Swiss law when I married my husband in 1978,” Bachmann, R-Minn., wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon. “I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen.”

Bachmann, a former candidate in the Republican primaries for president, stated that she has always been “100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America” and noted that as the relative of various military personnel, she is “proud of my allegiance to the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Bachmann had issued a separate statement Wednesday insisting that she had only updated family documents and automatically received dual Swiss citizenship when she married her husband, Marcus, in 1978.

“This is a non-story,” she stated Wednesday when she confirmed she was a dual citizen. “Marcus is a dual American and Swiss citizen because he is the son of Swiss immigrants. As a family, we just recently updated our documents.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Like Trump, Many Iowa Republicans Doubt Obama's US Citizenship

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- The "birther" issue possible presidential hopeful Donald Trump keeps harping on is resonating more with Republican voters in Iowa than the candidate himself, at least according to a new poll.

Nearly half of Iowa Republicans go along with Trump's theory, made popular during the 2008 national election, that President Obama was born outside the U.S. and is therefore not eligible to hold the highest public office in the land.

Along with the 48 percent who are convinced that the president is lying when he says he was born in Hawaii in 1961, the survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds another 26 percent of Iowa Republicans aren't entirely sure if his birth certificate is the real deal.

Meanwhile, Trump, who has been ascending in most polls of likely GOP voters, places third in Iowa at 14 percent, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee leading with 27 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney second, with 16 percent.

What might really hurt Romney's chances in Iowa is that almost two-thirds of Republicans say mandated state healthcare, similar to what Romney promoted as Massachusetts governor, is a deal breaker with them.  Romney has since worked to distance himself as far from that issue as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Senators Target Birthright Citizenship for Immigrant Children

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A posse of Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week opened a new front in the crusade against birthright citizenship with draft legislation that would bar children of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens.

Senators David Vitter of Louisiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas say their bill requires the federal government to limit automatic citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, legal resident, or member of the military.

The senators say a misinterpretation of the Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment, has led to tens of thousands of "anchor babies" -- children of illegal immigrants or foreign tourists, born in the U.S., who can in turn sponsor legal residency for their parents and extended families.

"It's astounding that the U.S. government allows individuals to exploit the loopholes of our immigration system in this manner," said Vitter during debate on the Senate floor.  "It's obvious that Congress has the authority and the obligation to put an end to it."

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 340,000, or eight percent, of the 4.3 million newborns in U.S. hospitals in 2008 belonged to illegal immigrant parents.  In total, four million U.S.-born, citizen children of illegal immigrants currently live in the country, according to the study released last year.

Republicans say a change to the law would also effectively end "birth tourism," or the practice of foreign women traveling to the U.S. with the express purpose of giving birth here so that their children would automatically have American citizenship.  A nascent industry of travel agencies and hotel chains has emerged, seeking to profit from the business.

But immigration advocates say the assault on birthright citizenship discriminates against children, who have no say in the matter, and is nothing more than a political ploy to rally the conservative base.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Takes Aim at Birthright Citizenship

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A pair of Republican senators have launched a push to take away automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.

GOP senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a bill Thursday seeking to amend the Constitution so a child born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants would only be granted citizenship if at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces or a naturalized legal citizen.

The senators contend there is a "loophole" to the 14th Amendment they now want to close with their new resolution.  The 14th Amendment, they say, does not in its language or intent give birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.

“For too long, our nation has seen an influx of illegal aliens entering our country at an escalating rate, and chain migration is a major contributor to this rapid increase -- which is only compounded when the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S. are granted automatic citizenship,” Vitter, chairman of the Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus, said in a statement Thursday.  “Closing this loophole will not prevent them from becoming citizens, but will ensure that they have to go through the same process as anyone else who wants to become an American citizen."

Paul, one of three members of the Senate's new Tea Party Caucus, emphasized that citizenship is a privilege, rather than a birthright.

"Citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be allowed to enjoy its benefits," Paul said.  "This legislation makes it necessary that everyone follow the rules, and goes through the same process to become a US citizen."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio