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January 21st, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Sen. Barrasso: 'Immigration is the backbone of the country'

Between 800,000 and 900,000 people are expected to crowd onto the National Mall today to watch President Obama recite the oath of office, a day after formally beginning his second term.

According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, 54% of Americans have above average expectations for the president's second term, whereas 41% describe their outlook as poor or below average.

One of the key issues Obama has said that he hopes to address in his second term is immigration, and Sen. John Barrasso talks with John King on Starting Point this morning about the GOP's willingness to tackle the important issue.

October 17th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Obama Campaign's Gibbs: Romney 'nothing short of wrong' on Libya, a 'political chameleon' on immigration'

This morning on "Starting Point," Soledad interviews Obama Campaign senior advisor Robert Gibbs about the presidential town hall debate.

On the discussion of the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Gibbs argues that Romney is 'nothing short on wrong' in his assumptions

"I've watched the Republicans try like Olympic gymnasts to do whatever they needed to do to try to politicize this issue," Gibbs says. "[Romney] has handled this as poorly as any prospective commander in chief has ever handled a series of national security questions. It demonstrated the real strength of the President last night in answering that question, and in watching 70 million people likely watching Mitt Romney's facts corrected on air because he was nothing short of wrong. I think it was far and away the President's strongest answer."

Gibbs also addresses the discussion of immigration discussion.

"Mitt Romney's chief immigration advisor is the Secretary of State of Kansas, who wrote the Arizona law. It's an Arizona law that again, Mitt Romney was enormously proud of during a primary in which he was trying to beat everybody as the strongest, most anti-immigrant candidate out there," Gibbs says. "This is classic Mitt Romney. He is doing whatever in an election he needs to do to say what he needs to do to whatever audience is in front of him. He's a deal closer."

"He's become a political chameleon," Gibbs adds. "But make no mistake about it – what he said during the primary, that he's a severe conservative, that he wants self deportation, that he has no desire to do comprehensive immigration reforms...that's the true position of Mitt Romney."

Filed under: 2012 Race • Immigration • Politics
September 21st, 2012
10:11 AM ET

Univision's Salinas: Obama admission on immigration failure 'important'

(CNN) - The immigration debate took center stage Thursday as U.S. President Barack Obama fielded questions in a forum broadcast live online by the Spanish-language Univision network.

"I want you to acknowledge that you did not keep your promise," co-host Jorge Ramos said in Spanish, noting that the president didn't deliver on his 2008 campaign pledge to push immigration reform during the first year of his term.

Obama said the first year of his term was consumed by efforts to help the economy and stop the country from going into another Great Depression.

And Republican political opponents, he said, kept many significant immigration measures from getting off the ground.

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas responds to President Obama's statement on immigration, saying it was 'important' for the President to make the admission.

“It’s important that in this particular forum, he admitted that it was a failure. And he explained why he wasn’t able to make approve and have that immigration reform in the first year,” Salinas says.

READ MORE: Obama defends record on immigration at Univision forum

Filed under: 2012 Race • Immigration • Politics • President Barack Obama
August 17th, 2012
10:29 AM ET

Sheriff Arpaio on Gov. Brewer’s blocking of Deferred Action says Obama 'wants amnesty' for immigrants, whole situation is 'politics'

Protesters are marching on the state capital in Arizona after Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order blocking illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses under President Obama’s new deferred action program. The program which took effect on Wednesday has brought young illegal immigrants out in droves in order to receive their documents to apply for the new program. The program is limited to immigrants under 30 who satisfy certain criteria, and it lets them avoid deportation for two years.

Recipients of the program can obtain temporary documents like driver's licenses and work permits which are benefits that Governor Brewer says should not be available to those living in the country illegally.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been outspoken against illegal immigration, tells Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning that he's "going to enforce the state laws. I took an oath of office.” Sheriff Arpaio is also a major supporter of Governor Jan Brewer's policies and weighs in her executive order to not provide any undocumented work, work amnesty, a drivers license and any kind of government assistance to young illegal immigrants in Arizona.

"It's sad bringing politics into this, but it is politics," Sheriff Arpaio says. "I know some Latinos don't like what I'm doing. But you have to do what you took an oath of office to do and I'm going to do it."

"The bottom line is they want amnesty...this administration wants amnesty," he adds.

Filed under: Immigration
August 16th, 2012
11:59 AM ET

Arizona Gov. Brewer signs executive order to deny deportation relief to illegal immigrants in her state – Rafael Romo reports

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed an executive order, directing state agencies to deny benefits—including driver’s licenses—to deferred action recipients in her state.  Brewer says the deferred action program does not give young immigrants legal status, so they should not have access to Arizona driver's licenses.

Brewer's order is a response to the deferred deportation program created in June by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and directly counters President Obama’s executive order.  

CNN’s Rafael Romo explains the backlash since Governor Brewer made the announcement and whether the Justice Department will get involved.

Filed under: Immigration
August 15th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Rep. Gutierrez and FAIR's president weigh in on the two sides of the 'deferred action' debate

Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants are lining up across the country today for the historic opportunity to apply for what's known as "deferred action."

The program goes into effect today and gives nearly two million illegal immigrants, who were brought into the U.S. as children, a chance to avoid deportation for two years. They'll be able to obtain work permits and social security numbers, and even apply for financial aid for college.

The program was announced by President Obama in June after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act.

The president used his authority to change the Department of Homeland Security's policy and he's received heavy criticism from Republicans who say that the policy gives amnesty to illegal immigrants without the approval of Congress.

One of these critics is Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which is against the new policy.

"Here it is about six months before the election and all of a sudden [the president's] claiming this brand-new unconstitutional authority to create a whole new immigration category and then run ads on Spanish language TV trying to take credit for it," Stein says on Starting Point this morning.

When asked what he'd do with undocumented children currently in the country, Stein responds, "I would do what most countries do, which is if you give people an amnesty, you have six months to get your affairs in order and please understand that you will get your education back in your home country where you're a citizen and you can bloom where you're planted."

Countering Stein's perspective, Rep. Luis Gutierrez also joins Starting Point today to explain why he supports the president's policy.

"They came as children. They are not responsible for being here in this country," Rep. Gutierrez says. "They are American in everything but a piece of paper."

Filed under: Immigration
July 27th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

Baltimore Mayor relaxes city's illegal immigration policies to attract families

After decades of seeing the city's population slide with every census count, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is acting to try and turn the trend around.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake has told Latinos in particular that she is counting on them to help Baltimore gain 10,000 families within a decade.

As a first step, the Mayor signed an order in March barring police from asking anyone about their immigration status and requiring federal immigration authorities to tell anyone they arrest that they are not agents of the city.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake appears on Starting Point this morning to discuss her initiative and to respond to people critical of her new approach.


Filed under: Immigration
July 11th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

New doc 'Shenandoah' tells story of undocumented immigrant killed by teens

It's been four years since the small community of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania was rocked by a horrible act of violence that caught the nation's attention.

A group of white high school football players beat an undocumented Mexican immigrant to death and the police helped cover up the crime.

Eventually the truth came out, and two of the teenagers involved were convicted of hate crimes, although they were acquitted of murder.

A new documentary, "Shenandoah," revisits the case.

On Starting Point this morning, director David Turnley and executive producers Billy Peterson and Danny Glover discuss the film and the difficult questions that the story raises about the immigration debate taking place in America.

Filed under: Documentary • Immigration
June 27th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Sen. Johnson (R-Wis.): Immigration comes down to better securing borders, says hopes SCOTUS overturns health care so we can 'start over'

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court is going to rule on President Obama's health care law. The House is planning on holding a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. And there is also ongoing debate on the President's executive order to allow some young immigrants to stay in the U.S. without the threat of deportation.

All these issues are simmering around the country as a new poll shows the presidential race is as tight as ever. In a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 50% of people living in those 11 battle ground states prefer President Obama, while 42% back Mitt Romney.

How will voters view these issues?

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a Romney campaign surrogate, weighs in on the anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, saying that he hopes the high court throws the law out.

"The cleanest decision would be to totally...rule the entire law unconstitutional," Sen. Johnson says. "Then we can start over with an open debate and a step-by-step approach. Republicans are not going to be putting forward a 2,700 page bill, another 12,000 pages of rules and regulations. We're going to take a look at the individual issues. And debate openly."

Johnson also responds to Soledad's challenge as to why Mitt Romney hasn't taken a firm position on immigration. He says it's all about border control.

"First of all, Soledad, this is a very difficult issue," Sen. Johnson says. "What Arizona is trying to do is it's basically trying to address a problem that President Obama and the federal government has basically abdicated their responsibility on. These are very serious issues. They are difficult issues."

He adds, "President Obama said during his campaign that this was such an important issue that he was going to handle the immigration problem in his first year. He has done nothing on it. He certainly has done nothing to secure our borders, which is the first step. And that's a real problem. Because we're not going to solve our immigration issue until we secure our borders."

See his clip with his comments on immigration below. Transcript after the jump.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Health care • Immigration • Politics
June 26th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Russell Pearce: '9/11 would have been averted if immigration laws were enforced'

Former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce was a driving force behind SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration law.

Pearce tells Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point today that the law is necessary because “the sovereign state of Arizona has a right to protect its citizens and jobs for Americans and secure its border.”

What does Arizona's immigration law do?

“Apparently to the cheap labor, the cheap vote crowd it’s okay,” says Pearce. “The cost in billions of dollars is okay for them. It’s outrageous. Do you know how the immigration law has been enforced? Reasonably enforced? 9/11 would have been averted. Four out of the five main hijackers were stopped by law enforcement and let go and were in the country illegally.”

Watch more from Soledad's interview with Russell Pearce on CNN’s “Starting Point” in the clip below.

Filed under: Immigration
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