House Divided Over Immigration Program

Republicans and Democrats in a House subcommittee butted heads over the effectiveness of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities (S-Comm) program Wednesday amidst claims that the program promotes racial profiling.

ICE Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Gary Mead testified in front of the House Immigration Subcommittee, part of the House Judiciary Committee, assuring lawmakers that S-Comm is taking dangerous criminals off the streets.

“Secure Communities is smart, effective immigration enforcement,” Mead said. “It provides real time leads to the ICE criminal alien program, greatly reducing the likelihood that criminal aliens will be released from state and local custody back into the community.”

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Super Committee Member Moving Forward With Corporate Tax Reform

By Andrea Salazar

Fresh off the Congressional super committee’s failure to strike a deal to reduce government spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is offering a plan to lower the corporate tax rate.

During an appearance Monday at the American Enterprise Institute, Portman said his plan would lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from its current 35 percent and create a territorial tax system that would only tax income made in the United States.

Though disappointed with the super committee’s inability to strike a deal to reduce the deficit, Portman, a member of the bipartisan panel, said the bright side was the influx of ideas that came out of the negotiations.

“This super committee process was frustrating … but we did achieve some results,” Portman said. “One was coming together as Republicans and Democrats alike and putting together at least a framework for dealing with this issue of corporate taxes. So I’m hopeful that one of the products of the committee is that Congress will now have the ability to move forward on this.”

The senator said he hopes to get bipartisan support for his proposal and said he had seen interest from both sides of the aisle during super committee negotiations, including from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). He will introduce the bill early next year.

Originally for the Talk Radio News Service.

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Poll: Gingrich Leads Romney By 9 Percent

By Andrea Salazar

Newt Gingrich is leading the cluttered field GOP presidential candidates with 32 percent approval, a 9 percent margin over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the latest opinion poll by Majority Opinion Research/Poll Position.

Romney, the long-time front runner, stands at 23 percent, while pizza mogul Herman Cain rounds off the top three with 14 percent.

The poll, conducted over the phone on Nov. 27, surveyed 449 registered voters who said they would vote in the Republican primaries and has a 4 percent margin of error. It is the first poll conducted following the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement of the former House Speaker.

Unlike Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose numbers dipped after saying Americans who don’t support helping undocumented students go to college “don’t have a heart,” Gingrich’s popularity increased after calling for a “humane” immigration policy during the Nov. 22 GOP debate in Washington, D.C.

The latest poll also shows Gingrich with a lead of 32 percent among Independents. Ron Paul follows with 16 percent.

Originally for Talk Radio News Service.

Defense Bill At Standstill Over Detainee Language

By Andrea Salazar

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are at odds over a provision in the 2012 Defense Authorization bill that would place suspected terrorists under military instead of civilian custody.

The bill has divided Democrats in the Senate with most Armed Services Committee Democrats in support, but with opposition from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

In fact, in a joint statement earlier this month, Leahy and Feintein said the bill “will only harm the efforts of intelligence and law enforcement officials to bring to justice those who would harm Americans here and abroad.”

But, according to Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who wrote an editorial in the Washington Post Sunday, there are exceptions to the provision.

“The bill does allow the administration, through a waiver, to hold these al-Qaeda detainees in civilian custody if it determines that would best serve national security,” the pair wrote. “Moreover, the administration has broad authority to decide who is covered by this provision and how and when such a decision is made.”

The Senate will continue debate on the bill Monday and is expected to vote on S.1867 some time this week.

Originally for Talk Radio News Service.

Hispanic Lawmakers Protesting Alabama Immigration Law

By Andrea Salazar

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) reacted today to the arrest of a German national in Tuscaloosa, Ala., last week who failed to possess proper identification.

“This highlights the disastrous consequences of profiling as well as the potential threat to foreign investment in a state that enacts and enforces laws that lead to arrests of anyone who doesn’t speak, act or look in a ‘non-suspicious’ manner,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

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House Dems Heading To Alabama To Shed Light On Immigration Law

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) announces a congressional Alabama visit to protest the state's immigration law. Nov. 17, 2011.

By Andrea Salazar

House Democrats will be visiting Alabama Nov. 21 to bring attention to the effects the state’s immigration law has had on the Latino community.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a stark opponent of the Alabama law, considered the strictest immigration law in the country, is leading the effort. Acknowledging that he does not expect any immigration measure to make it to the House or Senate floors before the next election, the congressman said the Alabama visit is to raise awareness.

“The more light you shed on the abusive anti-immigrant law of Alabama, the more likelihood there is that you’re going to defeat it,” Gutierrez said at a news conference Thursday. “We’re going there to say that we came to listen and in listening also to ask you what it is you would like us to do as we return to the Congress of the United States.”

HB56, the Alabama immigration law, requires schools to find out students’ immigration status and calls on police to check a person’s status during stops or arrests if there’s “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country unlawfully.

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) is welcoming her colleagues to Alabama and calling on her state to play the role it did during the civil rights movement.

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House Takes On Online Piracy

By Andrea Salazar

Silicon Valley tech giants butted heads with Congress Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill designed to curb online copyright infringement.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would give the government tools to protect the works of American authors, artists and filmmakers from so called “rogue” websites that steal intellectual property. Under SOPA, the federal government would be able to seek injunction against foreign websites that use pirated or counterfeit products from the U.S.

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