The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 16, 2012

Rodrigo Morales, 17, discusses his application for deferred action with Austin-based immigration attorney Jacqueline Watson.
Rodrigo Morales, 17, discusses his application for deferred action with Austin-based immigration attorney Jacqueline Watson.

The Big Conversation:

Long lines and cautious optimism marked the first day of the application process for young illegal immigrants seeking a deportation reprieve.

The federal government on Wednesday opened the application process for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which will offer two-year deportation deferrals and work permits to some young illegal immigrants. President Barack Obama announced the program in June.

To qualify for the program, individuals must have arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 and have been younger than 31 as of the June 15 announcement. They must have lived in the U.S. without leaving since 2007, and must attend or have graduated from school, received a GED or served in the military. Unlike the federal DREAM Act, the program does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

According to the Immigration Policy Center, more than 150,000 Texans could qualify for the program, second only to California's nearly 300,000 eligible individuals.

While the federal government has said applicants will not face repercussions for revealing their immigration status, many immigrants have sought legal advice before beginning the application process because of its discretionary nature, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports.

And Texas cities like Dallas, Austin and Houston — where lines at the Mexican Consulate on Tuesday interrupted traffic — weren't the only areas where interest appeared high. Long lines were reported in cities across the country, and large information sessions and workshops were held to disseminate information about the program. In Chicago, thousands packed Navy Pier to meet with volunteers and lawyers.  

Republicans, meanwhile, used the occasion to slam Obama, whom they've accused of using the program to pander to Hispanics in an election year.

“American taxpayers should not be forced to bail out illegal immigrants and President Obama’s fiscally irresponsible policies," U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, said in a statement on Tuesday. "How can the Administration justify implementing a fraud-ridden program that will deprive Americans of jobs and cost taxpayers?"

Culled:

  • As the Houston Chronicle reports, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in Texas on Wednesday delivered a possible preview of his Republican National Convention speech. Rubio, speaking at the Texas Hispanic Leadership Forum in Houston, told an audience of Hispanic Republicans that Barack Obama "doesn't believe in the American free enterprise system, because he doesn't understand the principles that truly make us great." Rubio, who was recently selected to introduce Mitt Romney at the GOP convention later this month, called Obama "a painful disaster for millions of Americans." Rubio later visited San Antonio to attend two Romney fundraisers.
  • Mitt Romney will visit Midland on Tuesday to attend three fundraising events, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Two of the events will be held at the Petroleum Club of Midland, and the other will be a dinner at a private residence, with tickets now going for $50,000 per couple.
  • The Central Health board on Wednesday voted in favor of asking Travis County voters to approve a 5-cent property tax hike to fund health care initiatives, the Austin American Statesman reports. The money would go toward new projects related to a proposed medical school in Austin, including educating doctors and paying med students who provide care for low-income patients. 

"I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big." — Political strategist Mark McKinnon to Politico on Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate

Must-Read:

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