Tag Archives: immigration reform

Immigration Reform: What’s Next?

It is safe to say any perceived progress toward comprehensive immigration reform came to a dead-stop the minute the Democrat-heavy U.S. Senate gave away some high-dollar, high-collateral items to the Republicans to gain their support for Senate Bill 744. The House Republicans not only sensed blood, they sucked it right up and made themselves political dead wood on the issue–with no reason to move, no reason to care. It’s hard to believe that soon after President Obama’s re-election, immigration reform was the top issue for him and “Latino outreach” became the task of Republicans. So much for that.

President Obama has been using the last five years to “prove himself” as an immigration enforcer to gain Republican votes in Congress. He’s funded and bolstered programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities to the point of throwing out almost 2,000,000 immigrants from the United States–a large portion being low-level offenders who didn’t even fit these programs’ description of “criminal immigrant.” And he and Congress have also bolstered detention policies and the private prisons who warehouse these folks. How’d that work out? Certainly not  well for the broken families affected by these policies.

Some of my lib-lab friends utilize the talking points well:  It’s the Republicans! I don’t argue that fact, but when it comes to deportation, it is President Obama who holds the keys to the deportation bus.

Certainly, Republicans knew exactly what President Obama was doing since they didn’t budge at all on the House side. If anything, the issue may still figure prominently in 2014 elections as Republican primary candidates try to out-hate each other on the issue. What will the Democratic campaign response be in 2014?

And while the national pro-migrant organizations (LULAC, NCLR and others) kept their talking points intact, all the while while turning their collective cheek to the mass deportations, mass human warehousing, and general indifference of both sides of the aisle, it was the immigrant-activist community whose message seemed to be strengthening:  Stop the deportations. The question that goes unanswered is if there is agreement on taking anything less than a path to citizenship.

According to the latest Pew Hispanic Center polling, 55% of Hispanics now favor deportation relief over a shot at citizenship. Given that Hispanics make up 3/4 of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, this is a significant trend. And according to the experts at Pew, it is this trend that could cause a major shift in the immigration debate–one that could allow piecemeal legislation and other compromises. That’s if the Republicans don’t feel the need to try to milk the issue for what it is worth to them in the GOP primaries.

According to Cesar Vargas of the DREAM Action Coalition, a piecemeal approach is what is going to happen.

Walking away with nothing is not an option for us; “citizenship-or-nothing” is not an option. We can’t ask our communities to wait for “citizenship” while we see our mothers, our fathers being separated from their children. Citizenship is our ultimate goal but we cannot let it become a hardline that poisons bipartisanship.

This year we have a real opportunity to secure our first victory; a victory that will allow us to live and work freely, to travel and see our family members we left behind. Rest assure the next day, we will be ready to work and fight for the next victory, including a path to citizenship. Let’s, however, get our first win 2014.

Ultimately, a piecemeal package may not spell political victory for either political party.

If the immigration bill dies, a plurality of Hispanics (43%) and Asian Americans (48%) say they would mostly blame Republicans in Congress. But sizable minorities of each group—34% of Hispanics and 29% of Asian Americans—say they would hold Democrats in Congress and/or President Obama mainly responsible.

I would think that simple deportation stops wouldn’t give an edge to either Party at this point. Political promises and niceties from both political parties have failed as campaign tactics, given Hispanic numbers tanking for President Obama and achieving new lows for Republicans. For those Hispanics who continue to have faith in their vote, or perhaps aren’t single issue voters (folks like me), I’m sure they will continue to be engaged at some level. But breaking down immigration reform (and the Hispanic community) to the point of accepting only deportation relief is concerning–at least for folks like me.

To me, there is nothing more important than citizenship–the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Although it is understandable that those who live in the shadows and fear detention and deportation want some sort of relief, I fear the formation of, for lack of a better term, a legalized sub-class of people will only be detrimental to our democracy. Sure, it may be a boon to our tax system at all levels, and to our economy, but eleven million people in a tax-paying, non-voting class all to themselves does not help further public policy that benefits our country, our states, and our local governments. If anything, it allows those who make the rules (on both sides of the aisle) to run roughshod over these folks–and any other group with a similar demographic make-up, yet, are citizens and voters.

Unfortunately, President Obama has now given a tentative “OK” to a piecemeal approach that the Republicans have been pushing, and the pro-migrant, national Latino groups will soon follow or get out of the way. Given the image of victory will be those groups led by immigrants who are asking for deportation relief, while Republican politicians will say, “Well, we’re just doing what they asked for.” In other words, Republicans will support anything but citizenship if they were to go along with this. That’s the even bigger question:  Will Republicans go along with it? Or will Tea Party bigotry be the victor, again?

I’ve been writing about immigration reform since I started this blog. My entire intent was not to become an “immigration blogger,” but what made me driven as a supporter of immigration reform was that citizenship was the end-game. At this point, deportation relief may bring a sigh of relief to a certain extent–depending on what the parties agree to–but a lack of a path to citizenship and whatever else the Republicans tack on which will limit the rights of this new legalized sub-class is not a workable solution, in my opinion. Some will call it a step toward citizenship (to be achieved in another 10? 20 years?), but what is the reality? How will the private prison and jail industry be appeased? And how will local law enforcement agencies who defend 287(g) and SCOMM move forward? There are a lot of unanswered questions as to how “deportation relief” will be defined in the end.

So, a new question is being asked:  Will we have something in 2014?

It’s hard to tell when even Professor Larry Sabato stated on CNN that this issue was a big loser in 2013 and that he didn’t expect much movement on it in 2014. And neither does my favorite policy guy, Robert Reich. Pro-reform Republicans, too. 

Obviously, we need to keep an eye on things. And, ultimately, the “pro-migrant” side needs to get its message straight so the rest of us know what we’re supposed to support.

Aura Bogado has a cool Prezi at Alternet about what happened in 2013.

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3rd Centavo ~ Guerra: S.744 Will Worsen Immigrant Situation, Part III

by Dr. Rey Guerra

This is Part III in a multi-part series discussing the United States Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill (Officially: S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act).

Part I, introducing the series and discussing the Border Trigger, can be found here.

Part II, discussing the E-Verify Trigger, can be found here.

Part I highlighted the onerous Border Security and Border Fencing triggers.  The triggers, and the bill, are structured such that it is possible that they may never be met and “the entire legalization program may be rendered moot.”

Part II highlighted the fact that S.744 would supercharge E-Verify, at the expense of Latinos, African-Americans, anybody drawing social security, and/or anybody with name issues.

Here in Part III, S744’s insurmountable income and employment requirements are presented.

Income and Employment Requirements

During the initial 6-year provisional status period, if immigrants can’t show regular employment, the bill requires that they then “demonstrate average income or resources that are not less than 100 percent of the Federal poverty level throughout the period of admission as a registered provisional immigrant or their status will be revoked.

Let’s talk about the regular employment part first.  The bill allows for periods of unemployment “lasting no more than 60 days.”  Let me re-state that.  Immigrants cannot be unemployed for more than 60 days during the years (as long as 13 years or longer) that their status is being considered.

To put this in perspective, I have an advanced engineering degree from the 2nd ranked university in the world.  In a city (Houston) that handled the recession better than almost any other city in the world, I was unemployed for significantly longer than 60 days during a very tough stretch in 2011.  I am now doing very well working for a prominent international green/renewable engineering firm.  I pay my share of taxes and give to the community whenever I can.  I like to think that I am a fairly productive citizen.  Were I an immigrant subject to S744, however, I would have been deported.

Wage-theft and work-place discrimination are pervasive and prominent issues here in Houston and across the country.   For those that are able to stay continuously employed, the regular employment stipulation in S744 will perpetuate (and by perpetuate I mean worsen) these issues here in Houston and across the country.

Undocumented immigrants tend to work low-income jobs.  Researchers at the Migration Policy Institute estimate that the number of unauthorized adults over 19 with family incomes below the federal poverty level is 3 million [1].  Peter Schey’s (Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law) analysis suggests that 40% or more of all undocumented immigrants may be disqualified from legalization provisions by S744’s harsh employment and income requirements. [1]

Under the 1986 IRCA, as long as immigrants could show that they were “not likely to become a public charge,” they were eligible for status change, public charge  in this case meaning an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence [1].

By now I hope it’s becoming obvious that although S744 purportedly creates a path to citizenship, it places so many impassable obstacles in the way of that path that the whole of undocumented immigrants will be significantly worse off than if such a bill were never passed.

[1] http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/CIRbrief-Profile-Unauthorized.pdf

[2] http://www.centerforhumanrights.org/6-18-13 CHRCL-Peter Schey Analysis Senate Bill Legalization Program.pdf

Dr. Rey Guerra is an engineer in the renewable energy field and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Civic Coalition, a group dedicated to resolving social, economic, and civic issues through education, training, and advocacy.

3rd Centavo is an opportunity for guest bloggers to sound-off (with a progressive bent) on various issues.

3rd Centavo: Guerra ~ S.744 Will Worsen Immigrant Situation, Part II

by Dr. Rey Guerra

This is Part II in a several part series discussing the United States Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill (Officially: S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). Part I, introducing the series and discussing the Border Trigger, can be found here.

Part I highlighted the onerous Border Security and Border Fencing triggers. The triggers, and the bill, are structured such that it is possible that they may never be met and “the entire legalization program may be rendered moot.” Here in Part II, another onerous trigger is discussed.

THE E-VERIFY TRIGGER

The bill states that the DHS Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens until “the Secretary has implemented the mandatory employment verification system…for use by all employers to prevent unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States.”

The point of E-Verify is to prevent unauthorized workers from gaining employment by requiring that permission be sought from the federal government when starting a job. It is currently being used in 16 states across the country. S.744 basically turbocharges e-verify, making it federal law, requiring every state and every business, anybody hiring anybody anywhere, to implement it.

The negatives of E-Verify have been outlined and discussed for a while now. One of the major issues that I see is that the government is woefully not ready for the program.

When government program errors prevent anybody from making a living, that’s kind of a big deal. When government program errors prevent hundreds of thousands of people from making a living, well, that program needs to be done away with. Rampant false positives already exist. Here are some stats:

  • The US Government Accountability Office estimates that if E-Verify is made mandatory nationwide, 164,000 people would be held up from being hired just because of issues with name changes [1].
  • Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that in 2012, ~1 out of every 400 cases submitted to E-Verify resulted in false positives [2]. In a nation where there are 154 million workers, that would be 400,000 deprived of the right to work.

Oh, and resolving errors isn’t easy. A report by the National Immigration Law Center highlights examples that are typical of people experiencing false positives. Here’s a good one [3]:

  • A US citizen and former captain in the US Navy with 34 years of service and a history of having maintained high security clearance was flagged by E-Verify as not eligible for employment. It took him and his wife, an attorney, two months to resolve the discrepancy.

In addition to the false positives, the AARP is extremely concerned about the strain a nationwide E-Verify would put on the Social Security Administration’s ability to delivery services to its beneficiaries.

There’s more. History and recent data suggest that E-Verify will lead to widespread discrimination and racial profiling. A 1990 study by the GAO found that when the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 required employers to verify identities, 20% of employers engaged in widespread discrimination against foreign-looking AMERICAN workers [4]. You almost can’t blame them. Businesses may avoid interviewing workers just to avoid dealing with the potential hassle (this is racial profiling).

The Huffington Post has a nice short article highlighting the discriminatory issues with E-Verify. For a more in depth study on the negatives with E-Verify, check out the ACLU’s 10 Big Problems with E-Verify.

[1] www.gao.gov/new.items/d11146.pdf
[2] USCIS
[3] www.nilc.org/document.html?id=337
[4] archive.gao.gov/d24t8/140974.pdf
 

Dr. Rey Guerra is an engineer in the renewable energy field and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Civic Coalition, a group dedicated to resolving social, economic, and civic issues through education, training, and advocacy.

3rd Centavo is an opportunity for guest bloggers to sound-off (with a progressive bent) on various issues.

3rd Centavo: Guerra ~ S.744 Will Worsen Immigrant Situation

by Dr. Rey Guerra

The national mainstream media has been bringing a lot of attention to the United States Senate’s version of a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill (Officially: S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act). Here locally, a delegation of 5 congresspersons held a townhall meeting that I’m not sure adequately characterized the content of the bill or Houstonians’ attitude toward the bill. Although it’s refreshing to see CIR being covered in the mainstream media and by our local leaders, there’s a whole lot that’s not being discussed…like what’s actually in the bill.

What’s missing from the mainstream coverage is an analytical breakdown of the bill’s content. I say ‘mainstream’ because the analytical breakdown very much exists, it’s just not being discussed and/or being used as a basis for supporting or not supporting the bill.

From a moral, humane, or civil rights perspective, it’s an easy case to make that the bill will put everybody, including current US citizens, in a worse position.

From a political perspective, I’m not sure that there is reason for Republicans or Democrats to support the bill, or, I don’t see there being a sound analytical reason for either party to support it; not if each is basing their support on true party principles.

The following is my take on why the bill is so damaging. I downloaded a .pdf version of the bill that is 1198 pages long. Reading the entire bill is kind of daunting, and the painful badness of the bill is replete, so I’m breaking the piece up into several part in hope that light can be brought onto its darkness.

Part I: The Border Trigger

Although many estimates are higher, it seems the general consensus is that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. When all is said and done, “triggers” associated with the bill could result in as little as 2 million undocumented immigrants and as many as 6 million qualifying to become legal US residents (2 million under DREAM and AgJobs provisions). According to analysis from Peter Schey of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, of the remaining 9 million, as many as half would be left in limbo–either deported, pushed back into hiding, and most certainly in a worst socioeconomic state than they are in now. Schey later describes a grim scenario, that the triggers are set up in such a way that 20 years from now, it is very plausible that nobody will have benefited from the bill.

Of all of the onerous triggers, the one that is the most ambiguous, and the easiest to deny all that apply, is the border security trigger. The bill states that the DHS Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens until

  • a comprehensive border security strategy has been submitted to Congress and is substantially deployed and substantially operational. Substantially in this case is 90% effective. Note that the bill does not allow the border security strategy to even be defined by a commission any SOONER than 5 years after the enactment of the bill.
  • a southern border fencing strategy has been submitted to Congress, implemented, and is substantially completed. Substantially in this case is at least 700 miles of fencing, but may be more, at the discretion of Secretary.

Again, an issue here is that a commission to recommend a border security strategy can’t even issue recommendations on how to secure the border until 5 years after the bill is enacted.

Also, even after the report is issued, it is quite possible that a 90% effectiveness may not be achieved for 10 or 20 years or EVER…and remember, under this bill, no immigrant can achieve legal status until 90% effectiveness is achieved.

The ‘‘effectiveness rate’’ is the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn backs during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries during such fiscal year. Analysis done by professors at UC San Diego suggest that the DHS does not currently collect the data to measure effectiveness, nor does it know how in the way that the bill requires. They also suggest that the difficulties involved in meeting the 90% border enforcement may be so formidable that the entire legalization program may be rendered moot.

With respect to the fence, no empirical evidence exists, anywhere, that suggests that building a fence slows, let alone stops, immigration rates. Immigrants are leaving a country and family that they love just as much as you and I love our family. If your wife and your children’s survival depends on your getting on the other side of a fence, I imagine that you will find a way to get over that fence.

The Border Trigger is bad, very bad, but it’s only one of many mechanisms in S.744 that will, by design, keep the vast majority of undocumented immigrants from achieving legal status and create a large sub-class; a sub-class of families and workers that can’t vote, are exploited for their labor, are discriminated against because of their being in a ‘legal’ pergatory, and can’t leave for fear of becoming ineligible to one-day, perhaps in several decades, become ‘legal.’

In Part II, I’ll get into the remaining triggers.

Dr. Rey Guerra is an engineer in the renewable energy field and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Civic Coalition, a group dedicated to resolving social, economic, and civic issues through education, training, and advocacy.

3rd Centavo is an opportunity for guest bloggers to sound-off (with a progressive bent) on various issues.

Texas Dem Delegation to Hold Congressional Immigration Hearing

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D) Houston will be bringing together the Texas Democratic delegation for a Congressional immigration hearing next week.

The Texas Democratic Delegation will be hosting this hearing on July 29, 2013 at 2:00PM in the City Hall Chambers located at 901 Bagby Street in Houston, Texas.  Many events are taking place around the country and the State of Texas must be a leader and a strong voice on this vital issue.  Your attendance is welcomed at this special meeting.

Please RSVP to confirm your attendance to Ivan Sanchez at Ivan.Sanchez@mail.house.gov or call 713-655-0050.

Jackson Lee admits that progress on a comprehensive bill has stalled in the House and that the hearing will help Congress complete its obligation to pass immigration reform.

This issue impacts our children, our businesses, our healthcare system, and our everyday lives.  The time is now for Congress to come up with a plan that allows undocumented immigrants an opportunity to become taxpaying citizens.

A press conference and pro-migrant rally will take place immediately following the hearing outside of City Hall.

Obviously, these are friendly faces who support immigration reform. I’m not sure if I will be able to attend, but one question I would ask is about Border Militarization. I have yet to hear a good response from a Democrat as to why it is necessary, or why I should support militarization of my native South Texas.

My friend Roberto Lovato at Presente.org gives us all a path to not supporting a border surge.

Of all our senses, the one that can most alter U.S. immigration history–and U.S. history itself–is our sense of smell. If we could, for example, magically bring the smell in the freezers of the Pima County Medical Examiner’s office to politicians, advocates and voters on either side of the immigration debate, the current bi-partisan push for a “border surge” would die faster than a cricket stung by a scorpion in the extremely arid stretch of desert known as the “Devil’s Highway.”

Letter to Congress Shows Growing Opposition to Border Militarization

The Rio Grande Guardian reported on the growing opposition to the US Senate immigration bill which includes billions of dollars in “border security” money for the purpose of militarizing the border. These groups know the reality that, if the bill is already seriously flawed, that it can only get worse once the U.S. House gets hold of it.

Sign the Petition Against Border Militarization

Included on the list are well-respected organizations, such as the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SVREP) and the William C. Velasquez Institute. According to the letter signed by these groups:

This flawed legislation begins with the mistaken and dangerous premise that puts punishment over people and enforcement over citizenship. S.744 is neither inclusive nor fair. We cannot in good conscience support S.744 without major substantive changes. Our rejection does not condone the defeat of immigration reform. Rather, it represents the decency and dignity of a community drawing the line against more punishment of immigrants. These same values will continue to guide our struggle for humane and just immigration reform in 2013 and beyond.

In practice, S.744 will:

• Block Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) from seeking lawful permanent resident status or citizenship for decades or forever;

• Exclude or disqualify, over time, more than 5 million undocumented persons from the Registered Provisional Immigrant program; Subject Registered Provisional Immigrants to reprehensible and unacceptable conditions for ten or more years in order to maintain status;

• Increase discrimination and racial profiling of people of color through nationwide mandatory E-verify of every worker- citizen and non-citizen- in the country; and

• Create a virtual police-state and create environmental disasters in the 27 border counties by militarizing the U.S.-Mexico border including weapons-capable drones, 40,000 guards, and 700 miles of border walls;

Such a proposal does not, in any way, reflect the kind of humane, inclusive, and common sense values that we envisioned before and since the 2012 elections. We write to ask you to join us in rejecting this legislation in the name of continuing the fight for real immigration reform.

You can join the effort by signing on to a petition in support of these groups and in support of real, sensible immigration reform.

Sign on now to oppose S.744! S.744 militarizes the border, turbo-charges E-verify, excludes half of the undocumented from legalization, and creates defacto indentured servitude for those attaining “RPI” status. This letter is being sent to progressive and minority Democrats:

 

Border Surge: The Ugly Realities

In case you missed it this week, the U.S. Senate voted to add the Corker-Hoeven “Border Surge” amendment to the Gang of Ocho (or is it Diez now?) bill, bringing the bill to a whole new level of crappy. One can blame the Republicans, but it seems Democrats have thrown immigrants and Latinos under  the bus, yet, again, in the name of some fake bipartisanship. (And to prove the bipartisanship, it is now known as the Leahy amendment.)

Not only does the “surge” include 20,000 brand new Mexican-hunting cops and 700 miles of private contract boondoggle double fencing, it also changes anything that could have been thought of as a “path to citizenship” to a decade-plus long second-class status.

Notably, it would also require all enhanced border security elements to be in place and operational before the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States could obtain legal status and begin trekking the path to citizenship.

In other words, you can be “provisional,” but it’ll take a decade before you can even gain a green card. And actual citizenship? Is that even being discussed, anymore? But at least American citizens can be harrassed by 40,000 border cops on the border for being brown, right? I say this because there is no talk of reforming the border cops agency.

Peter Schey from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has some honest, hit-you-in-the-face analysis of S. 744.

About 4 to 5 million immigrants will most likely be left facing an extremely harsh and unforgiving set of laws almost certain to eventually force their detention and deportation (if detected) or more likely leave them in undocumented status for the rest of their lives (if undetected).

Again, I ask, where are the Democrats in this? Where is Obama for America, or whatever they call themselves now? I mean, other than showing movies. And where are the national Latino organizations, like LULAC and NCLR, other than waiting at the trough for tickets to the next White House dinner or fighting over who gets to be President and Past President and Immediate Past, But Wanna Be President Now…President? They all seem to be in agreement with the “surge,” apparently, as a means to “move forward.” Forward to what?

I have spoken about this during my recent presentations to Democratic groups, and my predictions seem to have come true. In my presentation, I’ve also spoken about the 1.4 million Obamites who signed a petition to support a weakened background check for guns legislation, but there being a lack of effort nationally regarding immigration reform, other than President Obama’s secret room at the Capitol. Of course nothing is happening–they’re too busy giving away the store and calling it bipartisanship.

So, now, they will have a couple more votes to pass it and send it to the House, where it will only get worse and likely amended to death. We are getting to a point where Republicans will be against it because they’ll always be bigots and against immigration reform, and where Latinos will be against it because we will still be a hunted and second-class people in America (if they are informed about it). Oh, but right-wingers and blue dog-o-crats can continue to boast about getting tough on Mexicans, while regular Dems can wipe the sweat off their brows and say, “we did it, you may continue to worship us.” Even if S. 744 goes down in flames, each side gets cover for “trying.”

Fawn Johnson reminds us that the House really is just trying to run out the clock by doing piecemeal stuff and enjoying their recesses.

After senators get the bill done – probably in time to make their weekend barbeques — they have a weeklong July 4 break. And then they get to wait for colleagues on the other side of the Capitol who will have four weeks – four weeks – to deliberate before Congress takes off for an even lengthier recess in August. Once Washington meets autumn, immigration falls off the priority track thanks to the reemergence of fiscal crisis.

If that’s not good enough for Dems to come to their senses, then perhaps gaining the support of the bigoted Governor of Arizona can produce a bumper sticker that says:  Hey Democrats, Immigration Reform:  You’re Doing It Wrong!

The big vote on S. 744 is on Thursday. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to watching the floor debate and speeches.

Roberto Lovato has his take on how the private prison boondoggle will explode with this bill.

The Deal to End All Deals

It’ll be announced sometime today, but the Gang of Ocho is set to announce a deal that worsens an already bad immigration reform bill in order to appease John Cornyn and, maybe, Ted “30,000,000 are coming to get us!” Cruz.

Senate aides from both parties tell NBC News that the agreement would double the size of the border patrol and require 700 miles of border fencing.

We all know the fence is a huge boondoggle, but Republicans who despise big government now want to double the size of it–at least the Border Patrol. To put things in perspective, according to DHS, there are about 22,000 Border Patrol agents currently on duty. Almost 19,000 are on the southern border. Given this doubling, there will be almost 40,000 armed agents on the border. In other words, we’re talking full-throttle militarization here. Or in another way to see it, an army whose job is to hunt Mexicans (and other brown people).

I would expect Chuck Schumer to support it, since he profits from all the captures in one way or another, but Menendez?

The Democrats are hoping that such an effort will somehow leave the “path to citizenship” alone. But after yesterday’s Tea Party IRS-Bash-turned-Immigrant-Hate-Fest, there’s no doubt that the hate-mongers are organized against any type of reform. What did Bachmann say?

“Amnesty costs a fortune,” Bachmann cried.  “Amnesty could also cost more than just money.  It could cost a nation.”

If we take this CNN poll seriously, it seems Ted Cruz’s fear-mongering might even be working on Democrats.

A CNN/ORC International poll released this week showed that a solid majority of respondents — 62% — think border security should be the main focus of immigration legislation, with 36% saying the legislation should emphasize a path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the country.

The poll showed Democrats divided evenly on the question, while independents and Republicans strongly called for a focus on border security.

I’ll stop now until the announcement is official. Maybe Los Cuatro of the Ocho Dems will come to their senses and play hardball. (You may laugh hysterically…now!)

 

 

Little Doubt Remains That GOP Is Killing Immigration Reform

Whether it is Cornyn’s “poison pill,” or what might be Marco Rubio’s half-a-poison pill which will enact virtually unreachable triggers before green cards are even given, little doubt is left that Republicans are doing everything they can to kill immigration reform.

There is grumbling among some Democrats that they’re in this bind because Rubio — a key Gang member — made border security an issue by saying it needed to be tightened in order to get 60 Senate votes. Then, the Florida Republican embraced the Cornyn plan when it was announced last week. And on Sean Hannity’s radio show Wednesday, Rubio described it as “an excellent place to start in terms of having that conversation.”

Frankly, I think Reid should call for the vote and put the entire Senate on notice. But then this happened.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wanted to put the Cornyn plan up for a vote Wednesday hoping to kill it quickly and show undecided Republicans that it’s going nowhere. But Reid held back at the GOP’s request, according to two Senate Democratic leadership aides. A Cornyn spokesman said that wasn’t the case.

So much dissonance, and little action.

Meanwhile, more GOPers are signing up with Cornyn’s amendment, including some “moderates” who seem to be thinking more about re-election than getting the job done (Kirk, R-Illinois). The more time wasted, the more chances this bill will be worsened, or ultimately, killed.

The Senate and the rest of Congress, still, are not paying attention to the people.

But at this point, in states represented by key advocates of immigration reform, both the Gang of Eight proposal and a pathway to citizenship earn robust support, as described.

In Florida, where GOP Sen. Marco Rubio has been one of the staunchest supporters of reform legislation, 72 percent of voters said they support the legislation (including 45 percent who strongly support it) and 71 percent backed the pathway to citizenship.

In South Carolina, home to reform-boosting Republican Lindsey Graham, those numbers were only a bit lower: 62 percent who support the Gang of Eight bill and 60 percent who backed the pathway to citizenship.

And in Texas, the rapidly changing but still-conservative state with two senators who have resisted reform – Ted Cruz and John Cornyn – 67 percent said they could support the reform bill as described, with 72 percent backing a pathway to citizenship.

The average support for the “Gang of Eight” legislation was just under 68 percent, according to the pollsters.

Let’s just call the damn question, or else, this blogger will start campaigning against any bill that includes, or that looks like, Cornyn’s poison pill.

As Schumer told Cornyn while he berated his amendment, “go back to the drawing boards.”

UPDATE:  And now Ted Poe and his buddies are copycatting Cornyn.

Indeed, the SMART Act is nearly identical to Cornyn’s RESULTS amendment, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to achieve full operational control of the country’s Southwest border with a 90 percent apprehension rate of undocumented migrants and enforce a biometric entry/exit system that prevents visa overstays.

And, get this, Congress gets a say, in what 90% actually means.

Poll: Latinos Reject Border-First Approach to CIR

Latino Decisions and Presente.org just released the results of a poll that measures how Latinos are feeling about this latest attempt at immigration reform. Needless to say, they aren’t feeling the enforcement/border-first approach being pushed by the Republicans with little defense from the Democrats. Of course, in all of this, no one seems to be asking how Latinos, much less immigrants, feel about all of this, right? I’m glad Presente.org is doing it.

The survey of 500 Latino registered voters asked opinions on a wide range of specific policy measures that have been debated in Congress and finds overall that 81% of Latino voters reject the notion of “border-security-first” approach. Instead, Latinos prefer to see a path to citizenship unfold simultaneously with any border security measures.  Further, Latinos are firmly opposed to increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdowns against immigrants.  When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the number of immigrants detained 73% of Latino voters said no. When asked if ICE should be asked to increase the frequency of workplace raids 66% of Latino voters said no. Full topline results are posted here

So, one has to think that Chuck Schumer is complicit in this whole border-first strategy, and an article in Politico speaks to the division among Senate Democrats that hasn’t really boiled over, yet.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s pitch to find 70-plus votes for a sweeping immigration overhaul is running into skeptics from his own party – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

The top two Senate Democrats believe that the push to win more GOP senators could significantly water down the measure, arguing their party should instead focus on the more achievable goal of securing the 60 votes needed to break an expected Republican filibuster. The Democratic leaders don’t believe they should make major concessions to conservatives — mainly on issues such as border security — in order to inflate the vote tally.

Schumer seems to think that inflated numbers will force the House Republicans to go along with a worsened bill. Meanwhile, Leader Reid and Dick Durbin fall more on the side of showing a little backbone and not allowing the Republicans to run over the Democrats, or in this case, immigrants.

Back to the poll, it would seem that Latinos are a-ok with LGBT immigrants being included in the bill.

In addition, 61% of Latino voters want to see LGBT family unification included in the immigration reform bill.  As the Williams Institute has noted, nearly 270,000 undocumented immigrant adults identify as LGBT and could be penalized and not allowed to sponsor their spouses for residency or citizenship under the current bill.

Family is family, obviously, and Senator Leahy filed his amendment today. Hopefully the evangelicals will get on board and not freak out. Still, it will be tough for the amendment to pass. But, let it  be heard that if it doesn’t pass, it will be because of homophobic members of Congress, and not Latinos.

And what about “Latino” Ted Cruz’s strategy of providing for legal status, but not citizenship?

 More than three-quarters oppose the option of providing legal status only without a path to citizenship, and a majority oppose excessive fines on undocumented immigrants.  A resounding 86% say the appropriate waiting period to apply for citizenship if 5 years.

So, Republicans, especially their whiny Latino in the room, continue to be disconnected from Latinos on immigration reform. If anything, both Republicans and Democrats have been effective at keeping the worst of the bill out of the ears of Latinos, since a majority didn’t know about the $6.5 billion border boon for contractors. And if Democrats don’t shape up and fight against enforcement-heavy initiatives, it seems no political party will gain much, especially trust, from Latinos (and I don’t mean the future citizens).

Want to find out where Latinos stand? Click on the link and read the results carefully.