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If things had gone as planned, USF Department of Anthropology Associate Professor Heide Castañeda would have spent the last two months in Texas and Mexico on a pair of research projects. She was going to talk to "mixed status" families on both sides of the border - families who have both legal and undocumented immigrants living in the United States - as well as meet with immigrants returning to Mexico.

Instead, she arrived just as the world's attention turned to the increasing number of Central American migrants fleeing their homes for what they thought was the promised land of the U.S.

Castañeda talked to University Beat on WUSF 89.7 about her visits to Sinaloa, Mexico, and McAllen, Texas, and what she saw there.

Here are some highlights from that interview:

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When 83-year-old Peter A. Torino was a young child, he had an accident in his father’s workshop. The son of two immigrants was standing near the old Chevy his father was repairing when some gasoline spilled on to his legs and he went up in flames. The severity of the burns made it seem like he would never walk again. He talked with his son, Peter W. Torino of Seminole, about how Olympic runner Glenn Cunningham inspired his recovery.

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The Florida Senate

Florida’s move toward Common Core standards in schools is sure to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

Who, Exactly, Is A Gringo?

Aug 7, 2013

A college classmate asked me, "Where are you from?"

I gave him the long answer: I was born in Guatemala, but my mother is from Nicaragua, and I have lived in the U.S. my whole life.

"So, you're Guatemalan," he said. No, I'm not.

I may have been born in Guatemala, but I was raised in Florida. Regardless of the fact that I have lived in the U.S. since I was 2 years old, most Americans would find it strange to hear my grandma occasionally call me media gringa -- a half-gringa.

The Republican Party seems like two parties these days. In the Senate, Republicans joined a two-thirds majority to pass an immigration bill. But in the House, Republicans are balking.

Strategist Alex Lundry says it's hard to figure out the way forward when your party's base of power is the House of Representatives.

"One problem we have in the wilderness is that there are a thousand chiefs," he says. "And it is hard to get a party moving when you don't have somebody at the top who is a core leader who can be directive."

The national debate over immigration may be churning on in Washington, D.C., but there's one policy a growing number of states can agree on: driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Vermont, Connecticut and Colorado passed new laws this month allowing drivers without Social Security numbers to receive licenses or authorization cards. They join Nevada, Maryland and Oregon, whose governors signed similar laws in May. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn started the trend this year when he signed Senate Bill 957 in January.

Senator Marco Rubio continues to try to balance keeping Florida voters happy while trying to win over GOP backers on a national level, and a new poll is showing mixed results because of that. While a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows voters disapprove of how he's handling the immigration issue by a 41 to 33 percent margin, his job approval rating is up slightly to 51 percent.

Jeb Bush has created a stir with remarks he made during a speech on immigration, in which he said that women who immigrate to America are more fertile than women who are born in the country.

"Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans, over the last 20 years," Bush said. "Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity."

Forget, for a moment, about the bipartisan Gang of Eight, whose members crafted the original version of the immigration bill being taken up by the Senate this week.

There was a time when Jim DeMint was committed to helping Sen. Marco Rubio achieve his goals.

Not anymore.

At least not when it comes to remaking the nation's immigration laws.

DeMint is president of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, which on Monday released a report contending that an immigration overhaul would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion over 13 years in direct and indirect spending like welfare and public schools.

In the current debate over revamping the nation's immigration laws, there may be no elected official with more on the line than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Screen grab / Courtesy of the Washington Post

My husband is a political show junkie, but not even he had time to catch all seven of Marco Rubio's Sunday morning TV news appearances. 

Yes, seven. That's a record, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The Republican Senator went on a media blitz to tout the bipartisan immigration reform bill he's been crafting as part of a Congressional posse known as the Gang of Eight. The bill is expected to be revealed any day now.

ao.org

The Associated Press Stylebook has decided to recommend against the use of the phrase "illegal immigrant" by journalists because of concerns about accuracy, according to Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense Making Project."

Since 1953, the AP has been publishing a stylebook that has become a go-to resource for journalists, writers and advertisers when it comes to style and usage.

But, the AP kicked up some controversy recently when its new stylebook recommended against using the phrase "illegal immigrant."

Dalia Colón / WUSF Public Media

Any day now, the bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of Eight are set to release their plan for immigration reform. As the estimated 11 million immigrants living in this country illegally wait to learn their fate, opinions are swirling. So we figured it was time for some, you know, facts.

Here are some stats on the 7,502 citizens naturalized in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area in 2011, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Immigration Group Visits Senator Rubio's Office

Mar 6, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

Various immigration activists have come together into what they're calling The Florida Caravan for Immigration Reform. They visited Senator Marco Rubio's office in Tampa today.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) seems to be refining his stance on immigration. The Huffington Post is reporting that he walked back one of the principles on immigration reform in his new book on the same day it was released, telling MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday that he would support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if it could be done without creating a magnet for more unauthorized immigration.

John W. Poole/NPR

Florida has replaced New York as the primary destination for Puerto Ricans coming to the U.S. reports Greg Allen.

According to the most recent census, the 4.6 million Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland now surpass those on the island of Puerto Rico.

For years, they've been migrating out of the U.S. Caribbean territory — many to escape the escalating crime rate and economic crisis.

Latino voters were a key to President Obama's victory in November, turning out in big numbers and supporting Obama by more than 2 to 1 over Republican Mitt Romney.

Now, many of those voters say it's time for Obama to do something he did not do in his first term: push hard for and sign a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Let's start with a group of Latinos — young and old, some U.S. citizens, some not — heading from Florida to Washington, D.C., for Obama's inauguration and for meetings with members of Congress. As caravans go, it's a small one: 13 people in two vans.

A Look Forward: Immigration Reform In 2013

Dec 31, 2012

This year we saw a great divide in the nation on the issue of immigration reform.

Much of the concern surrounds the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country — the majority of whom are from Mexico and Latin American countries, and about 10 percent from Asia.

President Obama won office again with 71 percent of the Latino vote. He has called pledge to reform current immigration law.

Now that Republicans are widely embracing an overhaul of immigration laws, even a path to legal status for illegal residents, will their members in Congress follow through?

Senator Marco Rubio is attending Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's this week...could it be that Iowa holds the nation's first caucus? Apparently, he's also huddling with advisers to devise immigration reform plans.

President Obama and Mitt Romney have very different opinions about immigration.    But both of them agree on one thing: giving green cards to international students with advanced degrees. 

What that would mean for Florida?

"I would staple a green card to a diploma for someone who gets an advanced degree in America."

Thats Mitt Romney. He says President Obama hasn't done enough to retain talented foreign students. But Obama seems to agree with Romney:

Rubio Working On New Version of DREAM Act

Apr 9, 2012
Mandel Ngan / AFP

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is working on an alternative version of the DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented youths and young adults a pathway to citizenship.

Rubio's version would require undocumented immigrants wait to become citizens, he told the Tampa Bay Times, but would allow those who qualify to remain in the U.S. legally while waiting.

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