2006.03.30: March 30, 2006: Headlines: Politics: Immigration: Hispanic Issues: Palm Beach Post: Sen. Mel Martinez warns that GOP could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing "draconian" immigration reforms

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 11 November 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: November 28, 2001 - US Peace Corps Press Release: HUD Secretary visits PC Headquarters: 2006.03.30: March 30, 2006: Headlines: Politics: Immigration: Hispanic Issues: Palm Beach Post: Sen. Mel Martinez warns that GOP could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing "draconian" immigration reforms

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Sen. Mel Martinez warns that GOP could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing "draconian" immigration reforms

Sen. Mel Martinez warns that GOP could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing draconian immigration reforms

While non-Cuban Hispanic voters are largely affiliated with the Democratic Party, Martinez said the GOP "has been making important gains" in the Hispanic community that could be threatened by anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions. "Building a wall sends a message about our country that is inconsistent with who we are," Martinez said in his speech. Later, he told reporters that a wall would be a "contradiction of the Statue of Liberty" and its inscription welcoming the world's "huddled masses."

Sen. Mel Martinez warns that GOP could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing "draconian" immigration reforms

Immigration law will erode GOP gains, Martinez warns

By Larry Lipman

Palm Beach Post Washington Bureau

Thursday, March 30, 2006

WASHINGTON Sen. Mel Martinez warned fellow Republicans Wednesday that the party could jeopardize recent efforts to attract Hispanic voters by embracing "draconian" immigration reforms.

"We, as Republicans, need to be careful about how we address this issue," Martinez, R-Fla., said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "This issue has galvanized the Hispanic community and the Latin community in America like no other issue."

While non-Cuban Hispanic voters are largely affiliated with the Democratic Party, Martinez said the GOP "has been making important gains" in the Hispanic community that could be threatened by anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions.

Martinez, the first Cuban-born U.S. senator, was harshly critical of the House immigration bill, which passed by a 239-182 vote in December.

He called some of its provisions "problematic" and "distasteful." Among the provisions Martinez said were most offensive are those calling for a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and those that would make it a felony to be an illegal immigrant or to assist an illegal immigrant.

"Building a wall sends a message about our country that is inconsistent with who we are," Martinez said in his speech. Later, he told reporters that a wall would be a "contradiction of the Statue of Liberty" and its inscription welcoming the world's "huddled masses."

Martinez's speech came as a divided Senate began considering its version of immigration reform.

Republicans are split over whether the legislation should be limited to enhancing border security or be a more comprehensive bill that would include a guest worker provision and address the status of the nation's roughly 11 million illegal immigrants.

President Bush has called for a guest worker provision, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has sought to limit the bill to border security.

Martinez has been outspoken in his support for a comprehensive approach, including a guest worker provision. He argues that U.S. businesses need to be able to hire immigrant labor and that the country must provide a mechanism for allowing those already in the country illegally to become legal residents and eventually citizens.

He said there were several ways to provide legal status that would not give amnesty to those who entered the country illegally. Among them could be fines, payment of back taxes, a requirement to learn English and possibly a requirement that those here illegally would have to return briefly to their country of origin.

Noting that he arrived in the United States legally in 1962 as part of Operation Pedro Pan, which brought Cuban children to this country, Martinez said he felt a personal responsibility to play a part in the immigration debate.

While there is "no doubt" that those who entered the country illegally "have broken the law," Martinez warned that punitive legislation would drive them "deeper into the shadows."

Addressing the business concerns of the immigration debate, Martinez said he had talked to numerous business owners in Florida who said it was essential that they continue to have access to immigrant workers.

He recalled that one Florida employer had openings for 250 workers. Of the roughly 900 people who applied for jobs paying $9 to $14 an hour, he said, "not a single one was an American."





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Story Source: Palm Beach Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Politics; Immigration; Hispanic Issues

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