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Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Iowa Candidate Supports Executing Immigrants

In a local newspaper interview, an Iowa Republican candidate for Congress said yesterday that he would favor the execution of some deported immigrants who try to come back to the United States illegally.

According to the Journal Express from Knoxville, Iowa, state senator Mark Chelgren spoke with the newspaper about his congressional candidacy. On the topic of immigration, the November 30 story reported:

For border security, Chelgren believes a fence would define the border and control who enters and leaves. If one is found to have crossed into the country illegally, committed a felony while here, then been deported, he supports executing that individual if they break America’s immigration laws a second time.

“There is no reason to have felons here who threaten our way of life,” Chelgren said. He has complete respect for immigrants who follow the law and come to America to assimilate and build a better life.

Chelgren’s comments were quickly condemned by both Iowa Democrats and Republicans, according to reports from Iowa today.

A Iowa Republican Party statement said: “These remarks do not represent the values and beliefs of Iowa Republicans. Period.”

Chelgren told The Des Moines Register today that his comments to Journal Express were “only suggesting that capital punishment be considered narrowly in situations where persons repeatedly enter the United States with the intent of committing terrorism or other felony crimes. He contended that Democratic Party officials were overreacting to his remarks and engaging in ‘race-baiting.'”

According to the Register, Chelgren said that he does not want to separate families: “I am looking at people who are deported and who re-enter the country illegally. Obviously, I don’t want to tear apart families. We need to be sure we are protecting the people of  the United States.”


A new study shows the economic impact of Arkansas’ booming immigrant population. Maria Hinojosa talks with Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, about the study’s findings.

Click here to download this week’s show.

Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury is president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private, independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of all Arkansans in three interrelated areas: economic development; education; and economic, racial and social justice.

Involved in philanthropy for close to 20 years, Dr. West-Scantlebury served as CEO at the Foundation for Louisiana and as a program associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Her professional career includes nearly 25 years of experience in community development, public policy and advocacy, and public service.

If You Have the Opportunity and Means to Become a U.S. Citizen, Take It

On July 4, President Obama delivered remarks at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members, immigrants from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The President was right in saying that these ceremonies – held from Monticello in Virginia to the Seattle Center in Washington – are “a perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday.”

“With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth:  Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe,” Mr. Obama said. “We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.”

The Office of Immigration Statistics reports that last year 694,193 individuals became citizens. While that might seem like an impressive number, 8.1 million legal permanent residents were eligible to naturalize in 2010. Why didn’t more immigrants naturalize? Why do so many choose not to become U.S. citizens?

For one thing, the $680.00 total cost for fees is prohibitive and the entire process intimidating. Some experts also cite limited English skills, lower education levels and lower income levels as barriers to naturalization.

But there are others who face no such barriers and have opted not to naturalize, dodging any responsibilities to a country they are reaping from. I personally know of a few who simply could not be bothered. These are folks who have been here for many years, with no intent of returning to their homelands any time soon.

On the flip side of the coin, there are millions of immigrants who want nothing more than to become full-fledged members of our society, particularly the undocumented youth and other unauthorized immigrants who consider America their home but are not eligible thanks to our broken immigration system.

The act of naturalization not only confers the rights and benefits of citizenship, it is also a ceremony in which immigrants commit to the responsibilities that come with the privilege of being an American. Choosing to become a U.S. citizen brings obligations such as voting, paying taxes, and when necessary, fighting for our country. The President saluted the new Americans for being “willing to work hard, play by the rules, and meet their responsibilities,” just like generations of immigrants before them.

If you have the opportunity and means to become a U.S. citizen, take it. It’s your responsibility as an individual to join generations of other immigrants who have committed to their adopted homeland and made it great.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. Photo courtesy of Flickr

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.


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