Politics

              FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2012, file photo, Spanish language election campaign signs promoting President Barack Obama hang on the windows at Lechonera El Barrio Restaurant in Orlando, Fla. Hispanics supported President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by almost 3-to-1 and put Republicans on notice they must take real steps to win over the nation’s largest minority group if they want to win the presidency again. Exit polls say that Romney, who has backed hardline immigration measures, won only 27 percent of Hispanics. (AP Photo/Julie Fletcher)

Hispanic group demands national amnesty for 11 million illegals

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Hispanic amnesty activists are expanding their goals beyond the so-called “DREAM Act” youth amnesty, towards a national amnesty for roughly 11 million Hispanic illegals.

President Barack Obama and Congress “need to come together to deliver change on immigration policy, and by that we mean … a roadmap to citizenship for our parents and communities,” said Cristina Jimenez, director of an advocacy group, United We Dream.

Jimenez was born in Ecuador and arrived in this country as an illegal immigrant.

“Deporting members of our community is irresponsible and unacceptable,” added Lorella Praeli, the group’s policy director.

Their demand is an opening salvo in a post-election campaign to persuade the House GOP to provide “a path to citizenship” for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are low-skill laborers who compete for jobs against low-skill Americans.

The amnesty goal is supported by many progressive groups, in part, because most Hispanics prefer generous welfare policies, and so usually vote for Democratic candidates.

In contrast, many Republican advocates and legislators favor high-skill immigration, partly because high-skilled workers spur the economy and lower unemployment.

Republican Rep. John Boehner, the leader of the House of Representatives, has agreed to consider an immigration revamp next year, but has not described the law he’d like to see. (RELATED: Republican Rep. John Fleming rebukes Boehner for making promises about next year’s legislative agenda)

“It is important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws. … [And] I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all,” Boehner told ABC on Thursday.

But the issue has been gridlocked because most GOP leaders prefer high-skill immigration, while most progressives believe that continued arrival of low-skill immigrants boosts their political power.

For example, the board of Jimenez’s group includes Josh Bernstein, the “immigration director” for the Service Employees International Union. That union’s membership has been boosted by the recruitment of many foreigners working without legal permission in the United States.

Polls show some support for amnesty, but other polls of working-class Americans in swing states show opposition.

Gov Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, in part, because of low turnout by blue-collar workers in Ohio and other states.

The renewed advocacy for an national amnesty comes as the formal unemployment rate among Americans ticked up to 7.9 percent.

Roughly 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Many additional low-skill workers Americans are paid low wages because employers have many potential job-applicants.

In June, Obama announced a temporary amnesty for roughly 800,000 younger illegal-immigrants.

That move greatly boosted Obama’s political support among Latinos prior to the Nov. 6 election.

Under this so-called “Deferred Action” measure, up to 1.76 million illegal immigrants could get work permits, according to an estimate by the Migration Policy Institute.

Only 6 percent of the eligible illegals have college educations, the MPI estimated.

However, Obama’s June decision isn’t enough, said Sonia Martinez, another young illegal immigrant working with the United We Dream group.

“I’m undocumented [and Deferred Action] is really important for me and my daughter. … [But] we believe that Deferred Action is not enough for us,” she said.

“We’ll be fighting to keep families together,” instead of winning amnesty for younger illegal immigrants, she said.

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