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Anti-DREAM Act Candidate Reveals He Entered U.S. Illegally As Child

Pedro Rios, Republican candidate for 32nd Assembly District.

Pedro Rios, Republican candidate for 32nd Assembly District. (Pedro Rios for State Assembly)

Thirty years ago, Pedro Rios was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico by his uncle. Today he is a citizen and a Republican candidate for the 32nd Assembly District, which includes part of Bakersfield and an area to the north of the Central Valley city.

In between, Rios benefitted from President Reagan’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 1986 law which provided a path to citizenship for people who had entered the country illegally. Rios became a citizen in 1996.

But these details were not public until late October. While his Democratic opponent, Bakersfield City Councilman Rudy Salas says he won’t make an issue of Rios’ prior undocumented status, people are taking issue with Rios’ refusal to back President Obama’s DREAM Act, a policy to allow young people who have come to the U.S. illegally to apply for legal residency.

Jose Gaspar, a columnist with the Bakersfield Californian talked to Candi Easter, chair of the Democratic Party of Kern County:

“I think it’s honorable that Rios came here undocumented and became a citizen,” Easter added. “But what I find dishonorable is his opposition to the DREAM Act,” she said. The DREAM Act is proposed federal legislation that would grant a path to citizenship for qualified undocumented youth in this country. And in fact, Rios admits he is against the legislation, saying he wants comprehensive immigration reform instead. Continue reading

Romney Courts Hispanic Business Leaders in Los Angeles

By Frank Stoltze, KPCC

(Anibal Ortiz: KPCC)

(Anibal Ortiz: KPCC)

Seeking to gain traction with Latino voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney traveled to Los Angeles Monday to deliver his pitch to the annual meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m convinced the Republican Party is the rightful home for Hispanic Americans,” Romney told more than 1,000 people during a noontime lunch at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown L.A.

The GOP may be Latinos’ “rightful home,” but an NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll last month found them still preferring Democrats. The survey found President Obama leads Romney 63 to 28 percent among Latinos.

Romney sought to close that gap by touting his commitment to lower taxes and fewer regulations. He told the group of business leaders that Latinos have more reason than most to dump Obama: “While national unemployment is at 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is at over ten percent.” Continue reading

Interview: Condi Rice Condones Voter-ID Laws, Disputes GOP ‘War on Women’

KQED’s Belva Davis sat down with Condoleezza Rice last week after the former secretary of state’s speech to the Republican National Convention. Rice shared her thoughts on a range of hot-button issues, including the spate of state voter-identification laws enacted by Republicans. Rice said she’s sympathetic to attempts to ensure there’s no voter fraud, and disputed the contention that minorities would be especially burdened.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. (Image: KQED "This Week in Northern California")

“I don’t like very much the argument that minorities can’t get an ID,” she said. “That seems to infantilize [them]. We can do this, but people have to be given time. We have to find a way to make it easy. The states are reacting because the federal government has not and we do need to solve this problem. But let’s give people time and doesn’t make it difficult for people to exercise their franchise.”

Davis also asked Rice about the so-called “war on women” that Democrats are claiming the GOP is waging. Rice promptly shot that down…

“There’s no war against women. This is hyperbole of the worst sort. We shouldn’t caricature each other this way. There are people who have strong beliefs about issues of abortion, about life, about choice, strong issues. Let’s respect each other. This is a party that has a lot of powerful and strong women within it, many of them who have views that may be different from my own, but let’s respect each other. I feel welcome in this party and I think it’s time to stop this caricature and hyperbole.” Continue reading

Central Valley Voters Speak Their Minds at Focus Groups

Editor’s note: This story is part of an intermittent series. The Public Policy Institute of California is conducting small focus groups across the state to discuss the role of government, and KQED was invited to listen in. First names only were used to encourage candid conversation.

By Alice Daniel

I’m sitting behind a two-way mirror in an air conditioned office in Fresno as ten voters enter a meeting room and sit around an oblong table.

Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, introduces himself. He’ll lead this focus group and one directly following it. Initially, people look uncertain — as if they’re not sure what to expect. Yet once these people — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — begin talking, the pain and anger they are feeling over the economic and political landscape soon spills out.

Luz, a single mother of a teenager and a one-year-old, said she just got laid off after 11 years as a supervisor for a produce refrigeration company. She’s scared she won’t have the money to raise her children.

“Probably go homeless,” she says. “Too sad. And I can’t relocate right now because of my family. And it just makes me mad also.”

Daniel, a Democrat, is voting for Mitt Romney because he thinks the country needs a change. He works at Lowes but is about to lose his house to foreclosure and he’s wondering whether he’ll have to move out of state. Continue reading

Immigration a Trouble Spot for Romney, GOP

MItt Romney and Mark Rubio speak to the media.

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to the media before a campaign stop with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in Aston, Pennsylvania. Photos: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Don Gonyea reported on Monday’s Morning Edition on the difficult position Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney finds himself in regarding immigration. That position is only exacerbated by the fact that the Republican party has an admittedly spotty record when it comes to courting — and keeping — Latino voters.

At a Republican candidates’ forum in Wisconsin before the state’s primary earlier this month, a speaker who wasn’t on the ballot had strong words for the GOP regarding its low standing among Hispanic voters.

“The way the party … talks about immigration is going to impact the future course of this party and the future course of this nation,” said former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the first Hispanic to hold the nation’s highest law enforcement post.

Gonzales didn’t mention any candidate by name, but during the Republican primaries, none staked out a tougher position on immigration than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“Of course we build a fence, and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who come here illegally,” Romney said at a debate in Tampa last year. “That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America’s great beneficence.”
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