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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Immigration Issues in US Going Both Ways at the Same Time

President Obama today enlisted Latino entertainers to try to "elevate" the immigration debate in the US.

On Thursday, the president invited a dozen influential Spanish-language television anchors and radio personalities as well as comely Latino actresses who have been active in Hispanic causes. Among the high-profile Latinos was Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, who in 2006 helped mobilize hundreds of thousands of protesters in Los Angeles and across the nation against enforcement-only immigration proposals. Others at the White House were actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera and television figures Don Francisco of Univision and Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo.
In a summary describing the meeting, the White House said Obama stressed his commitment to a comprehensive overhaul and pledged to intensify his efforts "to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months."
But, in the meantime, state legislatures continue to step in as the federal government has chosen to essentially keep its hands off any change in current immigration practices.
The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would create criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants who work in Oklahoma and those who smuggle them into the state.
Oklahoma is one of several states -- including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah -- where Republicans are pushing immigration measures reminiscent of the one that became law in Arizona a year ago. The Arizona law required police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they detained and suspected of being in the country illegally.
It is still not clear whether these laws will be upheld in the courts. In all events, the two extremes in the debate (deport all undocumented immigrants on the one hand; or provide a path to legal status to current undocumented immigrants on the other hand) are irreconcilable and while the middle road seems easy enough to find, there does not seem to be a will to go there at the moment.

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