Today, President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into law, allowing access to health care for millions of children across the country. Included in the bill are provisions to help legal immigrant children and pregnant women get the medical attention they need without facing a five year ban. America’s Voice hailed the passage of common sense provisions to assist legal immigrant children and pregnant women as a sign that the political climate is changing in Washington.

So, according to Steele, the problem isn’t the GOP’s position on immigration reform, it’s their “message”? Republicans in Congress worked to pass the infamous “Sensenbrenner bill” in 2005 that would have made 12 million undocumented immigrants into felons, blocked bipartisan attempts at passing comprehensive reform in 2006 and 2007, and drove millions of Latinos and other Americans to the street (and ultimately the voting booth), and Steele still thinks that a slight change in tone will bring Latinos back to the GOP?

America’s Voice praises Democratic Senators and Members, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker Nancy Pelsoi (D-CA), as well as Republicans like Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who fought to keep the immigrant children’s provisions intact. Unfortunately, Republican Senators and Representatives filed amendment after amendment to gut these provisions and deny hundreds of thousands of Latino and immigrant children access to health care. According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “SCHIP was the first test on immigration for the new Congress, and there are some clear winners and losers here.

The newest Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report, “Latino Vote in 2008: Part of a Broader Electoral Movement,” asserts that the immigration debate was not a factor in the mass exodus of Latino voters from the Republican Party in 2008, and that these voters are not as influential as everyone else believes. As usual with CIS products, the report relies on a mish-mash of conjecture and fuzzy math to support a pre-determined outcome � that immigration is bad and the Latino vote is unimportant. The new report is part of a larger effort among anti-immigrant groups to rewrite history to fit their extremist worldview, and prevent the Republican Party from learning the lessons of the November 2008 elections.

Simon Rosenberg, President and founder of the progressive think tank NDN said that “The right is using the same old playbook it has been using for decades, but the game has changed. If they continue applying their anachronistic �Southern Strategy’ brand of racial politics in the new much more tolerant age of Obama, they run the risk of being a minority party for decades to come.” “Scapegoating immigrants and pandering to the conservative fringe has been political suicide for those who embrace it,” added Clarissa Martinez, Director of Immigration and National Campaigns at NCLR.

Please click on “Read More” for resources for America’s Voice Telephonic Press Conference, Wednesday, January 28th, 1:30 PM Eastern.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “It is hard to reach out to Latino voters on the one hand while opposing health care for hundreds of thousands of legally-resident Latino children on the other. This is one Latino outreach strategy that’s doomed to fail. At a time of national need, Republicans are playing politics and blocking progress on a solution to an important problem: health care for children.

“Senator-designate Gillibrand of New York has a troubling record on immigration. As a member of the House of Representatives, she supported policy proposals aimed at driving immigrant workers and families further underground without offering a practical solution to the presence of some 12 million hard working immigrants without immigration papers in the United States. “We understand that as a U.S. representative she represented a conservative district, but now she will be representing an entire state, which contains one of the most vibrant and dynamic immigrant populations in the nation.”