Hispanic leader: Trump team talk on immigration ‘encouraging’

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The head of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said this week his conversations so far with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team about immigration reform have been “encouraging.”

Javier Palomarez, president of the chamber, told CNN’s Carol Costello Monday that he has talked to Michael Cohen, an attorney in Trump’s inner circle.

{mosads}”First, the team has been willing to engage with us. They have been willing to listen to our input and our counsel,” Palomarez said. 

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and repeal President Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, which protected about 740,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation and gave them temporary work permits.

In a “60 Minutes” interview last week, Trump said he would focus his immigration enforcement actions on criminal aliens and securing the southern border before deciding how to deal with the rest of the undocumented population.

“After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about who are terrific people,” said Trump.

For many undocumented immigrants, keeping their families together is a big driver to remain in the country, but many activists and researchers say immigrants’ economic contributions are an important factor to consider.

Palomarez said Trump’s transition team is taking that factor into account.

“Second, they understand the important economic and commercial implications involved in immigration reform,” he told CNN. 

The economic consequences are especially relevant for DACA recipients, as they were able to take formal jobs thanks to their work permits.

The Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank, released a report last week that claimed ending DACA would cost the U.S. GDP at least $433.4 billion over the next decade, based on lost productivity and capital reductions due to the decreasing labor force. 

And many DACA recipients took on long-term debt, putting their creditors at risk if recipients were to lose their work permits or face deportation. 

“We know from our new survey that 54% of DACA recipients bought cars, and 12% bought houses—certainly for the houses, if not the cars as well, those purchases are going to be financed by loans and mortgages. If recipients find themselves unable to work, or deported, that could be a significant loss to the institutions that lent to them,” said Philip Wolgin, managing director of Immigration Policy at CAP.

Palomarez also downplayed the idea that voters would demand that Trump follow through on his early campaign promises of sweeping immigration enforcement.

“Third, I think the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump are, in fact, not the neo-Nazis we see on television. While that is a fringe that has supported him, the majority of people who voted for him, I believe, are compassionate conservatives,” Palomarez said. 

“They are Americans who have been underrepresented and were underestimated, turned out in record numbers. But I don’t believe they will resort to tearing apart families,” he added. 

Surveys are divided about post-election attitudes toward immigration enforcement. 

A poll released this month by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors stricter immigration controls, showed that 56 percent of respondents wanted to decrease the immigrant population by penalizing employers for hiring undocumented immigrants, getting local law enforcement to collaborate with federal authorities on immigration, and denying welfare benefits to undocumented immigrants. 

A CAP poll showed over 80 percent of voters, regardless of the candidate they chose, favored an approach that could eventually grant citizenship to law-abiding undocumented immigrants. 

The Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, found that attitudes toward immigrant workers have become much more positive over the past 10 years, but 45 percent of people still said the growing number of immigrant workers hurts American workers, while 42 percent said it helps. 

But the polls all found a general distaste for mass deportations.

“The above results avoid the false option of mass deportation, which is often offered as an option in such polls. No major pro-enforcement organization or public official, such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) or Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), or even Donald Trump’s finalized position supports a policy of mass deportation,” read the CIS poll report.

Tags Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Mo Brooks
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