Republican Primary Candidates Sound Off on Immigration | NBC 6 South Florida
  • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) says children without legal representation are five times more likely to be deported. 

    “There should be a public defender system for children,” said Kristie-Ann Padrón, an attorney with Catholic Charities, a nonprofit that took Arlin and her brother’s case for free. “They are not legally competent to sign a contract. How could they be expected to represent themselves in court?”

    Padrón says, if deported, some of the children have nothing to go back to.

    “Some were suffering from gang violence’” she said.

    With the help of Catholic Charities, Arlin and her brother won their asylum case.

    Three years have passed, he’s an honors student in high school. Arlin has learned English and works as a supervisor at a movie theatre while she gets her degree.

    “I’m doing mechanical engineering and I want to work with the NASA,” Arlin said.

    The NBC6 Investigators spent time in immigration court. We spoke with several kids who were facing a Miami judge alone without representation. They told us in Spanish that they fear being deported back.

    Most immigration judges we saw in Miami tried to get unaccompanied minors help with non-profit attorneys but those organizations say there just isn’t enough free legal aid to meet the demand.

    They say they are always looking for attorneys willing to donate their services.

    " name="&lpos=navigation hover&lid=thousands of immigrant children face a judge without an attorney">Thousands of Immigrant Children Face a Judge Without an Attorney
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Republican Primary Candidates Sound Off on Immigration
Rubio criticizes Gingrich over ad
BY Willard Shepard

The Republican presidential candidates know that immigration is one of the hot-button issues across the country, but especially in Florida with its large number of illegal immigrants. Ahead of next week’s Florida primary, they let their views be known to Sunshine State voters.

Newt Gingrich reached out to Latino voters Wednesday at Florida International University, knowing that a fair portino of them probably have relatives whose future in the U.S. is undecided.

Gingrich now says he would allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship if they volunteer to serve America in uniform.

The former speaker of the House also said he would veto a version of the Dream Act that would allow a path to citizenship for kids who come to the U.S. with undocumented parents if they finish college.




“We want people to come here legally.  We certainly want them to come to Miami. We want them to come here to do business – to get on a cruise line,” Gingrich said.

Rival Mitt Romney said he is against any version of the Dream Act and suggested "self-deportation," where illegal immigrants would voluntarily leave the country because of a lack of opportunity.

“The answer is self-deportation. (Illegal immigrants) are willing to go home because they can’t find work here (if) they don’t have legal documentation that allows them to work,” Romney said.

Iowa winner Rick Santorum opposes benefits for illegal immigrants, any comprehensive reform and a border fence.

“If you work you’ve probably stolen someone’s Social Security number. We ought to enforce the law,” Santorum says.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, is against amnesty and tougher enforcement of border security.

While the question of what to do about immigration is particularly important in Florida, some are not sure that any proposed change in current policies will resonate all that much with voters in next week’s elections.

“More likely than not, everybody knows someone who doesn’t have papers,” immigration expert Mayra Joli says.

“None of these things (candidates) have said make a difference on the ground. They are speaking in a vacuum,” she added. “It’s not a matter of sending every one out of the country and standing in line.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently stepped into the fray to make his voice heard.

Rubio was critical of Gingrich for a Spanish-language radio ad that accuses Romney of being anti-immigrant. He called the language inaccurate and inflammatory and said it should not be in the campaign. As a result of the criticism, Gingrich removed the ad, The Miami Herald reported.