Rubio v Santorum: Who answered it better?

Round 4 in the Special Report '2016 Sweet 16' bracket goes to Senator Marco Rubio versus Senator Rick Santorum on the topic of immigration. Vote in the poll and tell us who you think answered it better and should advance to the next round!


Bush v Graham: Who answered it better?

Next up in our 2016 Sweet 16 bracket we have Governor Jeb Bush versus Senator Lindsey Graham on the topic of immigration. Cast your vote and tell us --who answered the question better? 

Court Shakes Up Amnesty Fight on Hill

By Bret Baier /Fox News First 

As is so often the case, states lead the way. A lawsuit filed by 26 states against President Obama's executive actions on immigration, took a big step forward. On Monday, a federal judge blocked the president’s actions granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision puts a freeze on the president’s plan, the first phase of which was supposed to begin Wednesday.

While the administration will no doubt appeal the ruling, this decision could provide a legislative opening for the Homeland Security funding bill that is stalled in the Senate. The bill is being blocked by Democrats and would also be certainly vetoed by the President should it pass.

So what is the way out of the standoff?  The Republican argument may be to ask how they could fund anything that has been blocked by the courts and go full steam ahead on offense. Or, Republicans may be so encouraged about the chance for legal remedy that the looming showdown is drained of some of its urgency and move toward compromise.

We’ll see what they choose.

Loophole Provides Tax Refunds for Illegal Immigrants

By Katy Ricalde

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen confirmed Tuesday that illegal immigrants granted deportation amnesty are entitled to collect additional tax refunds under President Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration.

President Obama announced the plan on November 20, 2014 where he addressed the fact that illegals passing background checks and paying taxes could remain in the United States:

“If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes -- you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.”

The refunds will come from an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)  and will be retroactive, based on money earned while working illegally from as far back as 2011. This only applies to individuals who previously  registered for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and hold a valid Social Security number, but could still add up to billions of dollars in payments they were ineligible for prior to amnesty.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a government grant intended to help working families earning a low to moderate income. It reduces the amount of tax owed and may also provide a refund. There is a long list of qualifications, but all individuals must file a tax return with the IRS, regardless of whether or not they owe taxes or are not required to file.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) demanded a solution to the loophole: “The IRS’s interpretation of the EITC eligibility requirements undermines congressional policy for not rewarding those working illegally in the United States.”

Because the IRS wants to be paid taxes based on earnings of illegal immigrants who do work in the United States they have issued millions of ITIN numbers—those that qualify through the loophole have paid taxes, but there is a long standing debate over whether illegal immigrants should be eligible for benefits at all.

According to the Obama administration, as many as 4 million illegal immigrants could earn “deferred action.” It is unclear how many of those could be eligible for the EITC.

Illegal immigrants are also entitled to additional refunds under the Child Tax Credit—according to the IRS, the law is vague over who is eligible, so for now illegal immigrants also qualify.

What do you think? Is this fair?

2016 Contenders: Governor Rick Perry

Republicans clear first hurdle in stopping President Obama's executive move on immigration

Republicans cleared the first and easiest hurdle in stopping President Obama's executive move on immigration.
Lawmakers are heavily divided on whether or not President Obama should veto the bill if it reaches his desk, but everyone seems to think their opponent's position would jeopardize American safety.
This as brand new Fox polls show how voters see it all playing out.
Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel with the story from Capitol Hill.

House R’s three-part plan to block Obama on executive orders and keep government open facing opposition

By Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

The House Republican leadership is running into resistance from conservatives to its three-part plan to fund the government but also blast the Obama Administration for the immigration executive orders. Conservatives don’t like the new path, saying it doesn’t do enough to rebuke the president. It’s not known yet if the problems are deep enough to blow up the entire strategy. But here’s how it works:

Congress must approve a new spending bill by the end of the day on December 11th or the entire government shutters. Again. Many conservatives are hounding Republican leaders to use the spending package to harness money the Department of Homeland Security would use to carry out President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Such a maneuver by the Republican-controlled House would die in the Democratic Senate. It would also face a likely veto threat by the president. So the GOP leadership is offering a bill written by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) which would hamper the president from unilaterally exempting many illegal immigrants from deportation. Some may view that legislation as a fig leaf since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) already said he had no intention to consider the measure if it got through the House. But the Republican braintrust believes the bill would placate conservatives by allowing them to vent their grievances over immigration on a piece of legislation other than the spending bill. The Yoho bill goes before the House Rules Committee at 3 pm et today and would prospectively be on the floor tomorrow.

Come next week, the House would tentatively vote on a measure to fund nearly the entire government through next fall, but only pay for the Department of Homeland Security through late winter. That would allow the new Republican majorities in both bodies of Congress to tackle immigration head-on next year. Plus, it avoids an immediate government shutdown fight before Republicans can even start next year with a clean slate.

Most Democrats abhorred the idea. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, warned Republicans of deviating from a comprehensive spending bill which appropriators have toiled on for months.

“It is dangerous and irresponsible to engage in stunts and gimmicks affecting funding for the agencies under the Department of Homeland Security,” said Lowey. “This is no way to run a government. We should proceed with negotiations and develop a full omnibus.”

As much as Democrats don’t like the plan, it’s certainly not perfect for Republicans. Boehner conceded as much when asked about GOP efforts to counter the president yesterday.

Regardless, resistance is simmering in the Republican ranks. Since seizing the House majority in 2011, GOP leaders have had little margin for error when it comes to passing major pieces of legislation. They’ve had to turn to Democrats to lug significant pieces of legislation to passage. The most-notable case came this past February. The Republican leadership put a bill on the floor to suspend the debt ceiling. The measure passed, but with a scant 27 yeas from Republicans. 199 Democrats hauled the rest of the freight to passage, averting yet another debt limit crisis.

As it stands now, Republicans can only lose 18 of their own before having to turn to Democrats to keep the government open. Reid called the Republican effort to only fund DHS through March “a shame.” But the Nevada Democrat didn’t completely torch the House Republican maneuver. He hinted he might accept something less than a so-called “omnibus” bill which would fund all quarters of government through September 30, 2015.

“That would be a big accomplishment if we could get a bill over here that would fund all of the appropriations subcommittees except one,” said Reid.

But it could be a different tale for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pelosi has long-backed the “year-long” omnibus plan. And last week, perhaps anticipating the fix in which House GOPers might find themselves, Pelosi tipped her hand.

“We will not be enablers to a Republican shutdown, partial or otherwise,” said Pelosi, well-aware of previous scenarios where the GOP implored Democrats for assistance on the floor.

Republican sources indicated there may be some “softness” in GOP ranks for the trifecta plan. But GOP aides noted that over the past four years, the Republican Conference has traditionally lost 30-50 members on its side when it comes to voting on big legislative initiatives.

“This is just what we always go through,” lamented one senior aide familiar with previous vote-counting efforts.

The main goal for House Republicans is to extinguish all fires for this Congress and live to fight again – and actually do so with authority – next year. But Republicans may have to just fund all of government for a few weeks and again dive into another spending scuffle early next year.

This is a BIG test of the new GOP leadership team..and particularly the whipping skills of new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). The stakes are also high for Boehner. He could face an uprising from conservative members during the vote for Speaker next year if they don’t feel he has fought hard enough to counter the president. This is why the right-wing of the party is insisting on a limited funding plan for DHS for the time being.

It will be interesting if Boehner has to just cut his losses and pass a bill to keep the government open next week..with LOTS of help from Democrats. And that will ignite an internal firestorm in GOP ranks. 

President Obama to Bypass Congress and Grant Legal Status to 5 million

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

President Obama tonight will announce his plans to bypass Congress and issue an executive action to shield over 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. And while the President’s legal path appears to be clearing, the door is closing on the GOP’s first funding plan to block Obama’s action.

Though White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to divulge into specifics, White House officials and briefed Democratic lawmakers have disclosed significant details of the plan.

The bulk of the effected illegal immigrants, about 3.7 million, would be permitted to stay in the U.S. through a provision granting temporary legal status to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents.  

An additional 1.5 million illegal immigrants would be granted legal status through the removal of the age limit found in the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The 2012 memorandum previously permitted those under 30 years of age, illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents, employment authorization and temporary legal status. The parents of these 1.5 million, however, are not expected to be eligible for legal status.

The plan will also reportedly contain added visas for those pursuing STEM fields

White House officials claim that the plan won’t include a path to citizenship or eligibility for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D- NM) also indicated that those affected must undergo a background check and pay any taxes they may owe.

Unspecified border buffers will be part of the plan, as Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson told reporters last week.

The executive action comes as President Obama repeatedly indicated that bypassing Congress would be illegal, previously stating “that’s not how our constitution is written,” later adding, “I’m the President of the United States, not the Emperor of the United States.”

After saying Sunday that his position “hasn’t changed,” the Washington Post Fact Checker awarded the President an “Upside-Down Pinocchio”--   the most grave of The Post Fact Checker’s ratings.  

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority,” Speaker John Boehner stated through his spokesman, “he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue—and many others.”

As the GOP furiously cautions the powerful precedent that the executive action may set, strategies to counteract the plan vary.

Perhaps the most discussed mechanism was to defund the executive action in the spending bill to be voted on December 11th. But that path appears to be crumbling.

The House Appropriations Committee today put out a statement saying, “The primary agency for implementing the President’s new immigration executive order [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)] . . . is entirely self-funded through fees it collects on various immigration applications. Congress does not appropriate funds for any of its appropriations . . . Therefore, the appropriations process cannot be used to ‘defund’ the agency.”

“We’re considering a variety of options,” Senator Mitch McConnell said today on the Senate floor, “but make no mistake—make no mistake—when the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called for blocking President Obama’s nominees (except those relating to national security) until the President reverses his action.

Others, like current Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbot, say they will almost immediately file a lawsuit protesting the constitutionality of the President’s actions.  

President Obama himself told Telemundo in 2013 that executive actions on immigration would be “very difficult to defend, legally.”

But because tonight’s executive action would not grant a path to citizenship, just “deferred action”, 136 law professors sent a letter to the White House justifying the President’s actions under “prosecutorial discretion.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler also points out that there is some level of presidential precedent, though not to this extent. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush granted up to 1.5 million work permits to spouses and children of illegal immigrants who gained legal status through a law passed 4 years earlier. The 1986 law placed numerical limits on permits, which President George H.W. Bush later expanded through executive authority.

GOP aides say there would be no public, official response to the President’s remarks slotted for 8 pm tonight.

Banking on the plurality of Americans who disapprove of the President acting alone on immigration, one GOP lawmaker told Fox News, “Let him self-immolate, we don’t want our reaction to become the news” 

Immigration Reform: Action by Years End

Immigration Sparks Potential Public Health Crisis

By: Bridget Creel, Special Report Summer Associate                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The flooding of Central American immigrants brings many concerns to Americans and has been the forerunner for debate over the past several weeks. However, a matter that has been put on the backburner is the risk of a public health crisis that could quickly unfold after immigrants pass through to the United States. 

60,000 illegal immigrants have come into the United States over the past nine months. Each immigrant undergoes a similar procedure once they reach Border Patrol, which typically consists of a health and safety screening before they reach a detention center. Due to the excess amount of immigrants coming into the country at such a fast pace, it is evident that proper screenings cannot be successfully carried out in an efficient amount of time.

Border Patrol agents rely heavily on the results from verbal and visual inspections. These inspections warrant the risk of missing the diseases that do not turn up from physical appearance.

According to the health care policy of the United States, any communicable diseases must be assessed and treated before immigrants reach the ground within the United States. The Department of Homeland Security prohibits any immigrants carrying “a communicable disease of public health significance” from entering the country. That may seem simple enough but what is not obvious is that immigrants who do not show proof of vaccination from diseases are prohibited from entering the United States by law.

The CDC regulations require a very specific medical exam when immigrants enter the country. “During the exam, applicants are required to show proof that they have received certain vaccines. If an applicant does not have proof of having received the required vaccines, the law states that the vaccines must be given at the time of the medical exam.”

The immigrants who travel great lengths and experience life-threatening events before reaching the border are not expected to carry documents for proof of vaccination. It is up to the judgment of Border Patrol agents to decide whether or not an immigrant receives vaccination.

The problem continues to expand, literally, because immigrants are sent to areas beyond the border towns. Immigrant officials no longer have space in the detention centers located in the states along the border. The detention centers create more health concerns, as the immigrants are forced to eat, sleep and wash in the same areas. The crowded facilities leave officials no other choice but to send the immigrants elsewhere.

If immigrants are not properly vaccinated, scattering immigrants in different areas of the country will only increase the rapid spread of disease. Once diseases are dispersed throughout the country, confining and treating the diseases becomes almost impossible.



Coming Up

In an interview on 60 Minutes President Obama said he wasn’t totally sure the Syrian rebel program with a $500 million price tag was ever going to work in the first place, even though he backed and implemented it. We'll take a look at President Obama’s foreign policy strategy on Syria, ISIS and Putin

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