Opinion: Economy and immigration linked to American dream
February 13th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

Opinion: Economy and immigration linked to American dream

Editor's Note: Sayu Bhojwani is the former commissioner of immigrant affairs for New York City and the founding director of The New American Leaders Project. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in politics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Born in India and raised in Belize, she is a naturalized citizen of the United States.

By Sayu Bhojwani, Special to CNN

(CNN) -  President Obama’s State of the Union speech spoke to a changing America: one that is 37% minority, one with the most diverse Congress in history and one that Sen. Marco Rubio’s parents immigrated to.

Tuesday night, the president focused on the No. 1 issue for all voters in 2012: the economy.

By addressing the middle class, he put the “American dream” at center stage, a goal that has become increasingly harder to achieve for many families.

It is a dream that Rubio, R-Florida, described in his rebuttal. As a child of immigrant parents who “made it to the middle class,” he inherited “the real opportunity to accomplish (his) dreams."

Although Rubio argued against much of what the president proposed, both agree on three goals: strengthening the middle class, uplifting immigrant contributions and keeping the American dream accessible.

They also agree that to fix our economy, our immigration system needs to be fixed. FULL POST

February 13th, 2013
01:43 PM ET

Opinion: A kinder, gentler, wiser Marco Rubio

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarette, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio was ready for his close-up, and he got it. Now you know what all the fuss is about.

Rubio, a rising star and possible 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, was picked to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union Address.

The selection tells you a lot about what the Republican Party has in store for Rubio, and what this 41-year-old son of Cuban immigrants can do for a party that needs to become more user-friendly for Latinos. His remarks were also delivered in Spanish.

Rubio's delivery was solid, his voice strong, and his passion unmistakable. The senator from Florida is an excellent communicator whose life experience - as the son of a bartender and hotel maid who worked hard so their children could get ahead - is easy for many Americans to connect with. In the Republican Party, there are the multimillionaires - and then there is Marco.

And the message that Rubio sought to communicate Tuesday night - about how making America prosperous comes from growing the middle class, expanding opportunity and protecting economic freedom, and not from increasing the footprint of government - came through loud and clear.

Read Ruben Navarette's full column
February 13th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

CNN Fact Check: Illegal border crossings at lowest levels in 40 years

By Ann Colwell and Tom Watkins, CNN

(CNN) - During Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted his administration's efforts on reducing illegal immigration.

The claim:

"Real reform means stronger border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made - putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years."

That's a big claim, so CNN decided to take a closer look.

The facts:

In fiscal year 2011, there were 18,506 U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Southwest Border Sectors - up steadily from 3,555 agents in 1992, according to Customs and Border Protection figures.

A Pew Research Hispanic Center study finds that Border Patrol apprehensions of all unauthorized immigrants are at their lowest level since 1971. "In spite of (and perhaps because of) increases in the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents, apprehensions of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally have plummeted in recent years—from more than 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011—a likely indication that fewer unauthorized migrants are trying to cross," it concluded.