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June 18, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

New Immigration Enforcement Policy - The Policy

  |   Video
  • The Obama Administration has announced a new immigration enforcement policy that protects young, law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation proceedings for two years, and makes them eligible to apply for work authorization. We’ll take a look at various aspects of this new policy with: Dulce Matuz, President of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition; Regina Jefferies, Immigration Attorney; Rudy Espino, ASU Political Science Professor; and opposition to the policy change
  • Dulce Matuz - President, Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
  • Regina Jefferies - Immigration Attorney
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: SB, 1070, fight, us, supreme, court, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: The Obama administration surprised a lot of people Friday with an announced policy to stop deporting certain young illegal immigrants and allow them to apply for work authorization. Here to talk about the policy is Dulce Matos, an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was a child. She's an ASU engineering graduate, president of the Arizona dream act coalition, and one of "Time" magazine's 100 most influential people. Also joining us is Regina Jefferies, an immigration attorney and a partner in the law firm Thomas and Jefferies. She's vice chair of the Arizona chapter of the American immigration lawyers association. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. Let's talk about exactly what this policy says. Who qualifies?

Dulce Matuz: Well, it was qualified for people that have been living here in America for at least five consecutive years, entered the country before the age of 16, are younger than 30 years old, have good moral character, and ultimately will qualify pretty much for the dream act. Those people brought here by their parents with no fault of their own, pretty much.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about this good moral character stuff. What does that mean?

Regina Jefferies: Essentially the immigration services, department of homeland security, has set forth certain guidelines such as a person can't have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor. A misdemeanor typically is a crime that would be punishable by less than one year in prison, but a serious one would be more serious than something like driving without a license. They also could not have been convicted of three separate misdemeanors that are less than a serious miss demeanor or one felony. Basically one needs a pretty clean record to qualify.

Ted Simons: And I also noticed you can't pose a threat to national security or public safety. What does that mean?

Regina Jefferies: Correct. It's not completely defined within the memo, but essentially what it does mean is that you can't be a gang member, you can't pose a threat to the safety of the U.S. You have to undergo actually certain background checks and security checks as well. So you would have to go through all of that.

Ted Simons: What changed Friday? What's different now than Friday? What were the previous parameters, what's different now?

Dulce Matuz: It's giving you -- it's giving us temporary relief. Which means that we're going to be able to go to school with no fear of being stopped by the police officer, because having a broken taillight, and then you end in deportation proceedings. It gives us security for at least the next two years that we'll be able to continue focusing on school and using our highly educated skills we have acquired in this time. So it's giving us that opportunity of being on the same playing field and being able to compete if we're qualified we'll be able to be the best at what we like.

Ted Simons: You mentioned a broken tail late. If DOLCE is stopped, is there a card you show? What is work authorization, what does it allow or not allow?

Regina Jefferies: Great question. Work authorization essentially is just that, it allows someone to work within the United States for a limited period of time. This instance, if someone is granted deferred action under this program, they'll be allowed to apply for work authorization for a period of two years. Which can be renewed, but the work authorization essentially allows someone to obtain a social security number and under the Arizona state rules, to also obtain a driver's license. So it will allow all of those things.

Ted Simons: And when you go ahead and apply for this particular authorization, do you know where to go? Do you know how the process will proceed, what kind of time frame you have? Are you aware of those things yet or is it still a work in progress?

Dulce Matuz: The administration has 60 days to work out all the details. What we do know is that we have to prove that we have been in the United States for the past 10 years -- Five years, excuse me, and that we were here at the time of the announcement. So June 15th if I'm not mistaken. So we have to collect our records of -- school records, like if we went to the grocery store to get all those tickets back, everything that would prove we were in this nation.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So again, DOLCE has to pile up documentation here. Is in a checklist of, make sure you've got this, or go find that?

Regina Jefferies: I think that as she mentioned, one of the things that's going to be critically important is school records. School records, diplomas, things like that. It's also really important to let people know there is no process yet for people to affirmatively apply for this relief at this point. And it's very important to know that since you cannot apply for it, if you do send an application in at this point it will be rejected by the immigration service. So it's very critical to not also be taken advantage by unscrupulous people who might want to send in applications.

Ted Simons: What happens to those who are qualified but still don't register?

Regina Jefferies: At this point if someone chose not to apply and register as you mentioned, they would essentially be continuing in the same situation as they are currently. And I -- I imagine there are probably individuals who will choose that path. But, yes, so there is no current other way for them to get status.

Ted Simons: If you're not qualified, and you try to register, does it mean you fail to proceed? Or is there some sort of criminal action?

Regina Jefferies: There's no criminal action involved, because this is an administrative process. However, if you apply -- this is based on the FAQs that were released by the department of homeland security. If you apply and you don't qualify, what they will be doing is applying the same program or same guidelines that they apply for putting people into immigration removal proceedings, as they currently do. So if you've got a criminal conviction and that's why you didn't apply, or that you didn't qualify, it's a serious conviction, it's probably something that would be referred over to ICE. So it is really critical to know if you qualify or not.

Ted Simons: Dulce, what have you heard -- are folks anxious to qualify? Are they a little concerned that once they qualify they're in the system, they're not anonymous anymore? Everyone -- there's a two-year deferment so what kind of reaction are you hearing?

Dulce Matuz: For us, it's a moment of celebration. We're certainly very happy and anxious to learn about the process and give -- to get that opportunity. I've been here 12 years, and we -- I've been denied various opportunities, and I still keep going. And it will be an opportunity for to us come out of the shadows and, yes, we don't know what's going to happen after two years, if we get another administration, and then they decide they don't want to follow this memorandum, they can pretty much get rid of it. What we do know is that we're going to continue fighting it for long lasting permanent solution, since we passed legislation at the federal level, so we can assure our children and our youth that they're going to be protected and they're going to be able to have a quality of life.

Ted Simons: So it sounds like you're not hearing much in the way of hesitation from those who qualify to go ahead and register, get in the system and whatever happens two years from now, so be it.

Dulce Matuz: Pretty much, yeah. And in fact, I've been receiving a lot of calls from people getting ready, just waiting so you can give them a checklist and get it ready so they can come forward. That's what we want. We're American in every other way but paperwork, and this is our opportunity to become a step closer to be like fully legal resident.

Ted Simons: What are you hearing as far as reaction, concern -- is there some hesitation to get your name into the system after living in the shadows for so long?

Regina Jefferies: I think it's definitely people need to consider. When you're deciding whether to go forward with the process, this is something that needs to be taken into account. But as Dulce mentioned, the reaction I've had, particularly from people who have come to me, has been overwhelmingly positive and people want to, you know, move on with their lives. But I do also just want to point out that this also did not confer any kind of status on anyone. So although it's a temporary form of relief, you definitely aren't getting legal status.

Ted Simons: It is not the dream act.

Regina Jefferies: No, it is not.

Ted Simons: All right. Great conversation. Good information. Thank you both for joining us.

Both: Thank you.

New Immigration Enforcement Policy - The Politics

  |   Video
  • The Obama Administration has announced a new immigration enforcement policy that protects young, law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation proceedings for two years, and makes them eligible to apply for work authorization.
  • Rudy Espino - ASU Political Science Professor
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: SB, 1070, fight, us, supreme, court, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Joining us now to talk about the politics of the president's new immigration policy is Rudy Espino, an assistant professor of political science for ASU's school of politics and global studies. Good to see you again.

Rudy Espino: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: This kind of came out of nowhere, didn't it? A bit of a surprise?

Rudy Espino: Yeah, for a lot of us that follow Latino politics and immigration politics particularly, surprise to many people, given the administration's stance on this the last couple years.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the political fallout. We'll start with democrats, go to Republicans, and all points in between. What are you seeing?

Rudy Espino: Well, for democrats particularly Obama's reelection chances, this improves his standing within the Latino electorate. It certainly puts Republicans' efforts to woo Latino voters back to them, it puts them a couple steps back. So this is certainly advantageous for President Obama and his reelection chances in states like Nevada and New Mexico.

Ted Simons: What does it do in Arizona?

Rudy Espino: Probably not a whole lot. We hear every once in a while, going back to 2008, that Arizona is increasingly a Battle Ground state. I just don't see the numbers there. Also too, Romney has deep roots here, deep connections to the Mormon community, I think he has it pretty much locked up. In the other states it's pretty critical.

Ted Simons: The idea this would mob lies Latino -- mobilize Latino vote nationally, could it mobilize those who may not be that hot on Mitt Romney and say we've got to get out there, we don't like this?

Rudy Espino: It certainly is a potential for backlash, but if you look at recent national polling, a lot of your average white American voters are not concerned about immigration as much as they used to be. It's not the number one priority. Number one priority is employment, the economy, and if you ask them, do you think the immigration helps the economy, majority of Americans say yes.

Ted Simons: Much of the criticism from Republicans, was this was an opportunistic move by the president. Does that resonate with voters?

Rudy Espino: It could certainly resonate, if those charges are made, I think we're starting to hear some of that. But we're only in June. Voters will probably have forgotten this come November. And we'll be talking about something else.

Ted Simons: Did the president have to do something some you mentioned ticket sales start his immigration policy deported more folks in his one term than I believe George W. Bush did in his entire administration. Lots of deportations, and I know lots of grumbling in the Latino community regarding the -- did he have to do this?

Rudy Espino: He didn't have to, but there was a lot of pressure on him for backing out on some promises he made as candidate Obama in 2008. One of his campaign pledges was comprehensive immigration reform, health care reform dragged out, he had to put it on the back burner heading into the 2010 mid term elections. He chose climate change legislation to push that over immigration reform and a lot of Latino voters felt betrayed. And a lot of Latino voters here in Arizona felt betrayed in the wake of the passage of SB 1070 in April 2010. That resonated nationally. A lot of people, a lot of Latino voters are asking where is the White House on this?

Ted Simons: As far as Republicans are concerned, the criticism has been interesting, much of it is on what the president -- how the president did it as opposed to what the president did. And the timing on this I think is being questioned by Republicans as well. It comes right before we're expecting something out of the Supreme Court and most folks are expecting a split decision at best. And also I believe Marco Rubio was just about ready to have his own plan, which might have been very similar. Correct?

Rudy Espino: Correct. It looked like Republicans were going to be launching their own dream act proposal with mark Rubio from Florida, a Cuban-American, sort of as the spokesperson on Romney's immigration issues. So it takes the fire away from Republicans on this. And -- so charges that this is political, absolutely. Any politician, any action they make could be defined as political.

Ted Simons: Indeed. So as far as where this goes in terms of the national law, I think we both agree Arizona right now would be difficult for the democrats, but nationally, does it make that much of a difference?

Rudy Espino: Nationally, if you're just looking at national numbers, maybe not. But you've got to keep in mind how we elect a president. It just requires a few states. 2000, one county in Florida determined the outcome Hoff was going to be the president of the United States. It just takes a few states. Those critical stakes we're talking about, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, have nontrivial Latino voters that, this could pull them into Obama's camp.

Ted Simons: Did we see something last Tuesday, I believe in California, did it seem like there were a lot of votes there, and there was some discussion that Latino voters did not turn out in the numbers that were expected, or those that did turn out voted Republican perhaps more than expected. Did you see that?

Rudy Espino: Yeah. And you -- we even saw that in the 2010 mid-term elections. There was a lot of what we might call lack of enthusiasm within the Latino electorate. Not so much perhaps voting for Republicans, but just staying home. Feeling betrayed by the Democratic party, taken advantage of, and not turning out to vote. And this probably helps mend some of those fences that Latinos felt were broken with the 2010 decisions SB 1070 and a lot of the stances the administration has had on immigration.

Ted Simons: Last question -- how do Republicans regain footing on this issue?

Rudy Espino: Well, they probably want to start moving away from it. It would be really in my opinion bad move to start railing against the dream act. A lot of people are supportive of it. Probably start talking about other issues. Return the focus of -- back to the economy, back to unemployment and jobs.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, do you think by the time November hits we even remember what happened?

Rudy Espino: Not as much as other things, but what I think is going to be critical is the Supreme Court decision on SB 1070. That's going to resonate a lot through July and August.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Rudy Espino: Thank you for having me.

New Immigration Enforcement Policy - The Questions

  |   Video
  • The Obama Administration has announced a new immigration enforcement policy that protects young, law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation proceedings for two years, and makes them eligible to apply for work authorization.
  • Rep. John Kavanagh - (R) Fountain Hills
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: SB, 1070, fight, us, supreme, court, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: We continue our look at President Obama's plan to allow certain dream act eligible immigrants to stay and work in this country. State representative John Kavanagh is among those questioning the policy. Representative Kavanagh is a strong supporter of Arizona's tough immigration laws. Good to have you here. Are you questioning the policy or are you questioning the way the policy was enacted?

John Kavanagh: I'm questioning both. But let me first preface my remarks by saying the majority of Americans believe some accommodation has to be made for people brought here at a very young age, not by their own illegal voluntary act, but by something their parents did. Who have become Americanized who might not even speak the language of their home country. I'm among those people. I think an accommodation needs to be made. But this is the wrong accommodation, and the process I believe is dangerously flawed. It's unconstitutional. This is a bill which died in Congress, and presidents can't just take bills that died in Congress and create them by memo. What's going to happen next year with the same people who were staying mute and not criticizing President Obama, would they stay mute if a new president Romney said I don't like Obamacare so I'm not going to enact or administer it? You don't do it. We're a nation of laws.

Ted Simons: This also deals with laws, but in terms of prosecutorial discretion. You can't simply stop every person who Jay walks. Have you some discretion in terms of enforcement. Isn't that what we're dealing with here?

John Kavanagh: The Obama administration has shown it can stop a lot of people. The Obama administration has deported more people than any prior president, over a million. Beyond that, discretion is meant to be on a case-by-case basis, due to extenuating circumstances. This is a policy, this sets out four or five criteria that ought to be applied. It's the dream act minus the requirement for college. So he's enacting a law, and that's bad precedent.

Ted Simons: It's not exactly the dream act, it's a two-year deferrment. In two years the whole world could change.

John Kavanagh: One of the things I learned from my time in government, nothing ever ends in government. It will be two, four, six. Once you enact something it's extremely difficult to undo it.

Ted Simons: You said this was the wrong accommodation, and the wrong method. Why do you disagree?

John Kavanagh: Number one this, is not comprehensive. This contains no border security provisions, and that's a problem. This will induce even more people to come here illegally, because now there's an even wider open door to legal status. So we've done nothing about beefing up border security. In addition, we have no idea how many people will qualify. They're talking 800,000. In 1986, when we did the full amnesty, they said it would be a million. We ended up with 3.5 million people. The Pugh research institute estimates 11 million immigrants in this country. They also concede they're younger than the average population. I can't believe there's only 800,000 people who were qualify. You may be talking 2-3 million people. What's that going to do to our unemployment rate, and there's no money in this memo, because it's a memo, not a law, for any kind of administration. Your first -- one of your first guests spoke about in-depth background checks to make sure these are decent people. How are you going to do that kind of check if you have 2 million people making applications in the next six months?

Ted Simons: I think the other side would argue you've already got those people, if they're not check applications, they are checking records and deportation figures and documents as well.

John Kavanagh: We are not deporting 3 million people a year. This is a far greater task.

Ted Simons: I think what they would argue, you'd have to have a balance in terms of the bureaucracy.

John Kavanagh: The Obama administration was arguing they had to stop this process because they didn't have enough people to do that. So they can't have their cake and eat it. We can't have people sitting around waiting to legalize people, and when it suits them –

Ted Simons: There was concern at homeland security and with the border patrol regarding the initial -- this is an extension of what happened last year. The initial idea of prioritizing the bureaucratic -- leaving it the way it was was considered by some of those workers as a complete monumental load. This at least gives you guidelines to streamline the process, so they say.

John Kavanagh: I say that if not guidelines -- these are five specific criteria. If a person meets it, they get to stay. But beyond, that there's other problems. This is greatly increasing political polarization within the parties. You mentioned mark Rubio. He had his own program. He's been kicked out the door. If we believe the ultimate solution has to be bipartisan, this Frankly rather cheap political pre-election ploy by President Obama may give him short-term political capital in the Hispanic community, but in the long term it's going to hurt reasoned -- a reasonable conclusion of the immigration problem.

Ted Simons: If senator Rubio had a similar idea, does it matter who gets the credit?

John Kavanagh: It doesn't. But this is an idea that is supposed to be done in Congress with budgetary factions, with inputs. Supposed to be done legally by our constitution. Next year, well, we get a Republican president, what policies of the left don't we like that we won't enforce? It's a bad precedent.

Ted Simons: You mentioned how many people, and other not quite sure about the numbers. We know right now these folks could be deported, and you started by saying this doesn't make much sense. These are some of the best and brightest, they're succeeding, law abiding, they've tried to live an honest life, other than the fact they've been in the country illegally. Where do you draw the line? Where dot numbers stop and start? If it's 800,000 or 3.5 million, they're the same kids.

John Kavanagh: That's true. But the problem is, this is a memo with nothing to back it up in terms of logistical manpower, personnel, procedures, or anything. This is a political ploy here. And that's not the way you deal with a big issue like immigration.

Ted Simons: So what should Republicans do from here on in?

John Kavanagh: We have to oppose this. We have to get a new president in, and sit down and craft some reasonable accommodations for these young people.

Ted Simons: Do you think it's smart politically to oppose this?

John Kavanagh: Depends what party you're in.

Ted Simons: All right. We know what party you're in. It's always go good to see you.

Ted Simons: Tuesday, the Goldwater instance substitute back in court trying to stop the city of Glendale's lease agreement with the Phoenix coyotes. We'll talk with the goldwater's lead attorney in the case. Tuesday at 5:30 and 10:00 right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.