immigration

Gerald Herbert/AP

After signaling that his position on immigration is "to be determined" and that it could "soften," Donald Trump did an amazing thing — what amounts to almost a full about-face on the principal issue that has driven his campaign.

Trump indicated in a town hall with Fox News' Sean Hannity, which aired Wednesday night, that he would be in favor of a path to legalization for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

"No citizenship," he said. But he added, "Let me go a step further — they'll pay back-taxes; they have to pay taxes; there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them."

He continued: "Now, everybody agrees we get the bad ones out. But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they've said, 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,' I have it all the time! It's a very, very hard thing."

Gerald Herbert/AP

Is Donald Trump considering wavering on a key campaign promise?

That's what several news reports published over the weekend suggest. And while the Trump campaign issued a statement denying any shift on immigration policy, top surrogates and campaign operatives hinted that a change just might be on its way.

The issue: what to do with the estimated 11 million immigrants already living in the United States illegally.

Since he entered the presidential race last year, Trump insisted they would have to be expelled from the country, despite the logistical and humanitarian questions a mass deportation would present.

"You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely," he told MSNBC in November 2015.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman says his party needs to tone down some of its rhetoric about illegal immigration, and better explain how its economic policies could help those coming to the country legally.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie told WKU Public Radio Monday that the GOP is missing opportunities to appeal to immigrants who arrived in America legally in search of jobs and a better life.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., and has called for a wall to be built between the U.S. and Mexico. Guthrie says Republicans can’t afford to be painted as a party unwelcoming to immigrants.

“We as a party can’t look like we’re against people coming here legally,” Guthrie said. Instead, the Warren County lawmaker said Republicans need to reach out to immigrants wanting to “invest in the American Dream and the American future. Guthrie said he thought “some of the rhetoric gets hot,” leaving some voters with a negative impression of the party.

WKU PBS

In the wake of the deadly attacks last week in Paris, Sen. Rand Paul plans to introduce legislation that “would suspend visa issuance for countries with a high risk of terrorism.”

Paul’s intentions, announced Monday, join a chorus of Republicans seeking to take steps following the Paris attacks. About a dozen Republican governors — including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — have also announced they intend to block the intake of refugees from countries dealing with ISIS and other terrorist groups.

In September, Secretary of State John Kerry promised that the U.S. would take in 100,000 refugees from the war-ravaged Syria by 2017.

Paul’s proposed legislation would also “impose a waiting period for background checks on visa issuance from other countries until the American people can be assured terrorists cannot enter the country through our immigration and visa system,” according to a statement from his office released Monday.

The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door,” Paul said in a statement. “The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks.

Obama To Speak in Nashville on Immigration

Dec 5, 2014
White House

President Barack Obama is traveling to Nashville to speak about his executive actions on immigration.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced the visit during a Thursday press briefing, saying that Nashville is a city that has "actively worked to welcome new Americans." Earnest said the city's actions are paying off and noted that Nashville has been a leader in job growth in the South.

The president last month announced sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system could shield 4 million people here illegally from deportation. Opponents of the move have vowed to try to stop the executive action, which they consider unconstitutional.

Obama will speak on Tuesday at Casa Azafran, a community center and office space housing nonprofit groups that serve the city's immigrants.

After six years of often bitter back-and-forth with congressional Republicans over the issue of immigration, President Obama announced he has decided to go it alone by temporarily shielding up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

Abbey Oldham

The leader of the Bowling Green International Center says he hopes President Obama will announce that undocumented immigrants in the U.S. will not face deportation.

Albert Mbanfu says he’ll be watching the President’s speech Thursday evening with the hopes that Mr. Obama will take executive actions that clarify the status of undocumented immigrants.

“When you’re not sure if you’ll be with your kids tomorrow, you plan for contingencies, rather than thinking about how to comfortably raise your family,” the native of Cameroon said.  

Mbanfu believes the fear of deportation psychologically cripples many immigrants who would otherwise contribute greatly at the workplace and community.

“If you have that comfort in you, that a police officer is not looking over your shoulder to arrest you and send you back to your country, or wherever you came from, then you can think rationally, you can do things in a more composed manner, and that will translate into whatever job that they may be doing,” Mbanfu told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell warned from the Senate floor Thursday that “Congress will act” if lawmakers believe the President oversteps his legal authority and unilaterally changes U.S. immigration law Thursday night.

Republicans in Congress are warning President Obama against acting alone on immigration, hours ahead of a planned announcement by the president that could provide temporary relief to some of the nearly 12 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Republicans say any unilateral action on immigration by the president would mean there is no chance of passing a comprehensive immigration overhaul in Congress.

Following on a pledge to use his office's discretionary powers to adjust the U.S. approach to immigration, President Obama reportedly plans to remove the threat of deportation for up to 5 million people who entered the U.S. illegally.

The administration's shift in approach was reported by The New York Times, which cited "administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan."

Offices of Sen. McConnell and Sec. Grimes

An outside group supporting Senator Mitch McConnell is spending nearly $1 million over the next week to run ads attacking his opponent on the immigration issue.

While immigration hasn’t been a major topic of focus in the Senate race between McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, the ads accuse Grimes of backing legislation that would lead to “citizenship for millions who broke the law.”

Abbey Oldham

Senator Mitch McConnell wants new restrictions placed on the federal government’s ability to transport the growing number of young migrants coming to the U.S. from Central America.

The Kentucky Republican’s amendment to Senate border legislation would prohibit the movement of what he calls “unaccompanied alien minors” across state lines unless certain criteria are met. Under the plan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have to certify the minors wouldn’t have a burdensome economic or public health impact on the affected state and communities.

McConnell’s amendment would also prohibit the movement of the young migrants unless the Health and Human Services and Homeland Security Departments certify that transporting them will not delay their immediate repatriation.

In a news release, McConnell said the unaccompanied minors should be treated humanely and returned to their home country as soon as possible, and not “shipped across the nation and housed at taxpayer expense.”

Sen. Paul: Some Child Immigrants May Go To Fort Knox

Jul 21, 2014
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says Fort Knox is being considered as a possible place to temporarily house some of the immigrant children pouring across the country's southern border.

Paul spokesman Dan Bayens says the senator's office was notified that the Army post in central Kentucky has been under review as a place to take in an undetermined number of unaccompanied Central America minors.

Paul commented on the situation during a speech Monday to a Kentucky Chamber business summit in Louisville.

The Kentucky Republican spoke out against transporting the children to Fort Knox. He says they should be treated humanely until being returned to their home countries.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Crosson says Fort Knox was on a short list of potential military sites to house the children.

Crosson says it was determined that Fort Knox won't be available until at least September due to ROTC training at the post.

The Border Patrol says more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Republican efforts to win control of the Kentucky House got a boost from a national figure Saturday.

The incoming U.S. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, was in Bowling Green to raise money for the Republican Party of Kentucky House Trust. McCarthy visited the commonwealth at the request of the state’s 2nd District Congressman, Brett Guthrie of Warren County.

Speaking to reporters before the fundraiser, Rep. McCarthy said what happens in state legislatures can often trickle up to the nation's capital.

“I feel states are able to show and be a generator of ideas greater than Washington--that you can do the pilot programs,” the California Republican said. “The whole concept of welfare reform came from states. States don’t get to print more money. States have to balance a budget. States have to move forward. They carry out agencies they didn’t create.”

Democrats have controlled the Kentucky House for over 90 years, and the party’s state leaders say they will continue to hold the chamber despite the amount of GOP money being raised ahead of the November election. Republicans would have to win a net gain of five seats this fall to take control of the House.

Multiple super PACs have been created by Republicans this year to boost their party’s efforts to win the chamber, including a group founded by GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner, and a PAC run by a Kentuckian who served as a top aide to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Broadening the Republican Party’s Appeal?

During his visit to The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, McCarthy said he agreed with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s recent statements about Republicans needing to expand the party’s appeal to groups that haven’t recently voted for the GOP in large numbers, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people.

A Kentucky Congressman who leads the House Appropriations Committee says President Obama needs to lower the amount of funding he’s seeking to address the crisis along the country’s southern border.

Politico reports that Somerset Republican Hal Rogers told reporters Friday that the nearly $4 billion the President wants is “too much money.” The President made the request in response to the growing number of unaccompanied children who are trying to enter the country from central America.

Congressman Rogers said while members of the appropriations committee continue to look through the President’s plan, the $3.7 billion dollar price tag will have to come down in order to gain House support.

While he didn’t suggest a different number, Rogers said he hopes to make a counter-proposal  next week.

Abbey Oldham

A coalition of business, political, and refugee-rights groups in south-central Kentucky is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.  

As part of a so-called national “Day of Action”, representatives from various backgrounds spoke Wednesday in Bowling Green about the need for Congressional  leaders and the Obama Administration to get reform passed this year.

Barren County dairy farmer H.H. Barlow, a presidential appointee to the U.S. Board for International Food and Agriculture Development, said many Americans don’t understand the impact immigrant labor has on sectors such as the agriculture industry.

“I hate the word ‘criminals’, or ‘illegal aliens’—I don’t like that term. They’re workers. They’re performing an essential service to our country,” Barlow said.

The Barren County farmer said he speaks to his elected representatives about the need for immigration reform each time he sees them. Barlow believes that reform will not only benefit immigrants, but also the U.S. economy.

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