Morning News, 10/18/11

By Bryan Griffith, October 18, 2011

1. Perry moves to stem backlash
2. Fence returns to debate
3. Most deported were criminals
4. AL Gov. reacts to ruling
5. Hispanics to protest

Rick Perry moves to stem immigration backlash
By Richard S. Dunham
Houston Chronicle, October 18, 2011

Las Vegas -- As Texas Gov. Rick Perry prepares for the final debate of the fall season Tuesday night, he is trying to neutralize the immigration issue that has bedeviled his campaign for the past month.

Perry's support for Texas legislation granting in-state college tuition to students who came to the United States illegally as children has proven to be very unpopular with his party's conservative core, and Republican rival Mitt Romney has hammered Perry for his "liberal" position on the issue.

At a Las Vegas debate today co-sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference (5 p.m. PDT), Perry is prepared to assert his strong support for border security as part of a tough-on-immigration counteroffensive.

Perry's decision "to go against what is popular" in his party has become a serious political liability in a primary campaign where the conservative core wields tremendous clout, said Nestor Rodriguez, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

"Among Republicans, immigration can be a very salient issue," Rodriguez said. "He is making himself vulnerable in his political party."

There are signs of Perry's vulnerability in every new poll for the past three weeks. A new CNN survey released Monday found Romney leading the GOP field with 26 percent, followed by former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain at 25 percent. Perry, at 13 percent, led the second tier, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 9 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 8 percent.

Perry led the pack with 32 percent in a Sept. 12 CNN poll released the day of the second debate, a fumbling performance that contributed to a cascading fall in the polls for the Texas governor.

Romney, accused of being a serial waffler by the Texas governor, has used immigration to move to Perry's right on a hot-button issue among GOP activists.
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Border fence returns to political fray
By Dave Montgomery
Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 17, 2011

PENITAS -- For more than a half-century, Leonardo and Anita Ramirez could look out the back of their small frame home at the sloping landscape leading down to the Rio Grande.

That changed about two years ago, when the federal government stretched a massive $6.2 million-a-mile barrier through the rural land where they have made their home since 1950. Their backyard view now consists of aesthetically challenged square metal poles that reach at least 18 feet high and impair their once-easy access to the river.

The towering barrier that divides the Ramirezes' land near the small community of Peñitas, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, is part of nearly 650 miles of fencing that Congress authorized in 2006 in response to a public outcry over illegal immigration and potential violence from Mexico. Of that total, 112 miles are in Texas, stretching from Brownsville through the populous metropolitan region that includes Edinburg, McAllen and Mission.

Construction of the fencing followed contentious public debate that included lawsuits, environmental challenges and homeowner protests. Now, presidential politics is kindling a new showdown over the worthiness of border barriers.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has pledged to push for construction of a fence along the entire length of the border. By contrast, Gov. Rick Perry has described a full-length fence as "idiocy," though he embraces limited fencing in strategic locations.

The issue is part of a larger dispute over illegal immigration that could resurface in tonight's Republican debate in Las Vegas. Perry has been put on the defensive by opponents who charge that he is soft on illegal immigration because of his support of a 2007 Texas law that permitted in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants.

He has responded to the criticism by pointing to the state's five-year, $400 million-plus law enforcement effort on the border, portraying himself as the toughest candidate in the race when it comes to border security.

GOP rivals

Bachmann is the first candidate to sign a pledge circulated by a newly formed group calling for completion of a double fence along the full length of the border before the end of 2013. The group, Americans for Securing the Border, is led by Van D. Hipp Jr., a former Republican Party chairman in South Carolina who served as deputy assistant Army secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

Hipp said his group has been up and running for only about three weeks but is generating strong support from voters demanding tough measures to support the border.

"It's one of the most important national security issues of our time," Hipp said. His organization is calling on all candidates for president as well as the House and Senate to sign the pledge.

Ryan Williams, press secretary for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said Monday that the campaign has not seen the pledge but "would certainly be open to reviewing it." He said Romney, who is the front-runner for the Republican nomination, "supports a border fence" to crack down on illegal immigration.

Allison Castle, communications director in the Texas governor's office, said Perry "supports fencing in strategic areas such as those with high population density, but for the hundreds of miles of remote land in between, the most effective border security strategy is to increase the patrol presence on the ground, in the air, and in the water with personnel and advanced technology."

Perry has repeatedly opposed the concept of a full-length barrier. During a trade visit to Mexico City in 2007, according to The Associated Press, he said a border-length wall is "idiocy" and "absolutely would not work."
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Most illegal immigrants deported last year were criminals
By Alan Gomez and Kevin Johnson
USA Today, October 18, 2011

Washington – The U.S. deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants last year, and an increasing number of them were convicted criminals, according to figures set for release Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security.

An undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, chained for being charged as a criminal, prepares to board a deportation flight to Guatemala City on June 24 in Mesa, Ariz.

Deportations have been on the rise for the past decade, and the 396,906 illegal immigrants deported in fiscal year 2011 is the highest number yet, according to the figures.

Under the Obama administration, Homeland Security issued new priorities to focus deportations on convicted criminals, people who pose threats to national security and repeated border-crossers. Last year, 55% of those deported were convicted criminals, the highest percentage in nearly a decade.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said the numbers reflect the administration's "focus on sensible immigration."

"In the face of limited resources, we have to prioritize, and that starts with criminal offenders," Morton said. "We are making sure that people who game the system face the consequences."

Critics say the numbers illustrate that the administration is intent on finding ways for illegal immigrants to stay in the country.

Obama last year endorsed the DREAM Act, which would have granted legal status to some children of illegal immigrants, but it failed to pass Congress.

And Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has questioned the reprioritizing of deportations, arguing that it amounts to a free pass for illegal immigrants who have not committed major crimes.
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Gov. Bentley, Sewell react to recent immigration law rulings
WSFA (AL), October 18, 2011

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - "We will continue to appeal the parts that are enjoined temporarily," says Governor Robert Bentley.

"It's really hurting our image," adds Alabama District 7 Congresswoman Terri Sewell.

Two conflicting opinions...from two top lawmakers. Governor Bentley stands by the state's immigration legislation.

"We'll work through this, we're going to get through it," he says.

Congresswoman Sewell thinks there's another way to go about it.

"I really hope Alabama's legislators will rethink our immigration policy."

Sewell believes the law sends the wrong message.

"We've spent a long time trying to improve our public image when it comes to racism and when it comes to inclusion."

But Bentley says the parts of the law he believes will be permanently upheld are not about racial profiling--rather protecting jobs.

"The ones that allow the states to determine how we regulate businesses," he adds.

Many state lawmakers say Alabama's legislation will enforce what the federal government isn't.
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Latinos to protest Obama's immigration policies
CNN, October 17, 2011

Latino activists said Monday they are planning a national "day of action" to protest President Barack Obama and demand an end to a controversial program involving local officials in immigration enforcement.

Actions are scheduled for Tuesday in 10 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, New York, Houston and San Francisco.

"Since signaling a new course in our immigration policy a few weeks ago, President Obama has continued his aggressive persecution, jailing, and deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who he has labeled 'criminals' and whose lives are being destroyed through traffic violations and similar minor infractions," said Roberto Lovato of, a Latino rights organization.

Protesters want an immediate end to Secure Communities, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that seeks to find unauthorized immigrants who have criminal records and deport them.

Federal officials have praised the program, arguing it allows authorities to catch criminals who would otherwise fall through the cracks. But critics say it results in the deportations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally but have no criminal arrest records.

Tuesday's protests are timed to coincide with the airing of "Lost in Detention," a PBS Frontline documentary about immigration detention and enforcement strategies.
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