Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
The hopeful interpretation by immigrant advocacy organizations is that Napolitano along with the immigration task force are signs that immigration reform will be a priority for the Obama administration. Anti-immigration groups have a more sober, realistic assessment of Napolitano as a pro-enforcement advocate who has also called for comprehensive immigration reform.
Certainly, there is reason for relief that Michael Chertoff, a right-wing ideologue and Republican loyalist, will soon be gone. But he will leave a legacy in the two Department of Homeland Security agencies that implement immigration enforcement and border control – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Over the past three years, under his assertive leadership the two agencies have found purpose and direction, and its members have been given a sense of purpose that was previously lacking when its predecessor agencies were under the Justice Department and under the fumbling direction of the first DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.
Following the lead of the anti-immigration institutes (FAIR, NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies) and right-wing think tanks (Heritage Foundation), Chertoff came to Homeland Security with a new framing of the department’s immigration law enforcement and border control operations: Commitment to a strict enforcement regime to protect the country against foreign terrorists, and to reassert the “rule of law.”
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the restrictionist camp found that their message about the “illegality” and “criminality” of illegal immigrants had new resonance. And they proceeded to upscale the “what don’t you understand about illegal” message that echoed through the anti-immigration grassroots forces to a more conceptual framing of illegal immigration as a threat to the “rule of law” inside a nation that had just come under foreign attack by foreign outlaws.
An October 2005 Heritage Foundation essay, "Rule of Law at Stake in the Immigration Debate," helped propel the rule-of-law framework into the mainstream media. Written by former attorney general Edwin Meese, a Heritage Foundation fellow, the essay was broadcast by Fox News.
Meese and foundation colleague James Jay Carafano wrote: "We need to encourage federal, state, and local governments to enforce our laws and work together to improve the security infrastructure at points of entry. Enforcement should include prosecuting benefits fraud, identity theft, and tax evasion, in addition to immigration violations."
The “rule of law” framing for immigration works well for anti-immigration groups since it allows them to chart a course that is ostensibly separate from the nativists, economic populists, and white supremacists who spirit the grassroots ranks. It’s a message that is based historically and fundamentally on liberal principles of a government by laws not by royalty, aristocrats, and other elites.
Another part of Chertoff’s legacy is his straight-out acknowledgement that immigration policy is flawed, but until there is a new more comprehensive law in place, DHS has a mandate to enforce existing law. Napolitano is by no means an anti-immigration hardliner.
However, as a lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and a governor who has insisted on more border control and stood behind a tough employer-sanctions law, she will fit easily into the “rule of law” framework for directing ICE and CBP operations.
It’s a framework that has already been adopted by the Democratic Party and to a certain extent by Obama.
When asked by CBS’ Katie Couric about his illegal immigrant aunt, Obama appealed to this framework as one that should prevail in immigration policy. Couric: “You have an aunt who’s been living in this country apparently illegally, and your campaign says any and all appropriate laws should be followed. So would you support her being deported to Kenya?” Sen. Obama: “If she is violating laws those laws have to be obeyed. We're a nation of laws. Obviously that doesn't lessen my concern for her. I haven't been able to be in touch with her. But I'm a strong believer you have to obey the law.”
During the campaign, Obama repeatedly said, as did Hillary Clinton, that, with regard to the immigration issue, America can be "both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws." Acknowledging that the immigration restrictionists were dominating the immigration debate, the Democratic Party and its allies have over the past year desperately sought to reframe the immigration crisis while at the same time attracting the allegiance of Latinos and “New Americans.”
Their new language about immigration policy—"nation of laws," "rule of law," and "required legal status"— started popping up everywhere, from the pronouncements of immigrant-rights groups to the Democratic Party platform. Instead of promising an "earned path to citizenship," as it has in the past, the party stated that illegal immigrants will be required to “get right with the law.”
"For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must require them to come out of the shadows and get right with the law," states the party's platform. "We support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens."
As governor, Napolitano has attempted to navigate between the vocal and highly-organized anti-immigrant forces and those Arizonans who resist succumbing to those forces of hate and reaction (from the business community to Latino and humanitarian groups).
While realistic about the impossibility of completely sealing the border, she has called for more border patrol agents, deployed the state’s National Guard, and supported for increased federal-state cooperation in immigration law enforcement, albeit at the same time opposing the immigrant crackdown launched by the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
All the while, Napolitano has complained that the responsibility for addressing immigration-related issues lies with the federal government. She says she supported a tough legalization law, and, like Chertoff, has expressed strong support for temporary and guest-worker programs.
As Homeland Security secretary, Napolitano can be expected to follow the lead of Chertoff and the Democratic Party in insisting that current immigration laws be strictly enforced in order, as ICE and CBP routinely, “reassert the rule of law” in immigration and border control. In the absence of a reform law that provides a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants that route forward will be a victory for those calling for calling for restrictive policies on legal and illegal immigration.
Like Chertoff, she will have no power to shepherd through Congress a new immigration policy. What she can do, however, is reject the practice of her predecessor of using the law as part of a deterrence strategy.
Through highly publicized raids on worksites and through the shackling and imprisonment of immigrants, the DHS has sought to use the law to terrorize existing immigrant communities as part of a strategy to deter future illegal immigration. Napolitano can also use her position as a bully pulpit to explain that the rule of law is not an end goal.
It’s a path to justice. America is both a nation of laws and one where justice prevails, or it should be.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
“On behalf of the nearly 20,000 members of the HAP Institute, we write to reject calls for the resignation of Attorney General Al Gonzales, and offer our full support for his long-term service to our President, our country, and the Hispanic community.” “Attorney General Gonzales has achieved what few other Hispanics have been able to accomplish. He is a role model for the entire Hispanic community and his success proves to our children that they too can realize their dreams. General Gonzales should not be used as a scapegoat by those who are against the policies of the current Administration. The Hispanic community will not tolerate partisan politics, with the end result being to sacrifice one of its most respected, and productive members.”
Friday, November 14, 2008
"If Obama follows his own instincts and past words of support for turning off the jobs magnet for illegal immigration, he potentially will open up millions of jobs for millions of unemployed Americans.
“This would be the cheapest, fastest job-creation program he has any chance of achieving.
“Or he can choose to favor illegal foreign workers and turn his back on unemployed Americans.”
Thursday, November 13, 2008
NDN, through its Hispanic Strategy Center, supports comprehensive immigration reform as a kind of quid pro quo for the party loyalty of the Latino/immigrant voting bloc.
Typical of well-heeled advocacy groups in Washington, DC, NDN commissions polls to support its political convictions. NDN, headed by Simon Rosenberg, commissioned a pre-election poll to support its contention that there is widespread public support for comprehensive immigration reform, particularly among Latinos and especially in swing states. But what is comprehensive immigration reform?
For immigration restrictionists, it is a code liberals and the “open-borders lobby” use for “amnesty.” They’re right, minus their own labeling. Pro-immigration groups regard legalization as the central policy in comprehensive reform. When they call for comprehensive reform, they are calling for a “pathway to citizenship” for unauthorized immigrants.
Clearly, the issue of the fate of 11 million illegal immigrants who’ve made their homes in the United States is what makes comprehensive immigration reform so contentious. Rather than simply dealing with the issue straight-on, legalization supporters have included this explosive issue within a larger package in hope of winning necessary political support for legalization.
By including border security and immigration law enforcement measures with the package, legalization advocates hope to pull in moderate and conservative Democrats as well as a sprinkling of Republicans (enough so they can call it a bipartisan effort). By including proposals for expanded temporary and guestworker programs, they hope to win support from business.
And by including provisions for family reunification visas, they seek to guarantee and deepen support among immigrant communities (not just Latinos, but Asian Americans as well as others). Instead of a simple Immigration Reform Act, the latest comprehensive bill under consideration was the proposed Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
The inclusive nature of the bill – bringing in border control infrastructure and a complicated new guestworker program – represented the evolution of several comprehensive reform proposals (Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (2005), Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act (2005), and Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006).
The strategy to advance legalization by including it in a comprehensive reform of immigration policy and border control has led to bills that include an array of contradictory measures. On the one hand, the bills aim to close the borders and decrease immigration inflows. But on the other hand, they propose to increase immigration, both temporary and permanent, through new guestworker initiatives, high-tech immigrant worker programs, speeding-up visa processing, and new family-reunification allowances.
In this mix of “security” and “economic opportunity,” the proposed solutions for bringing immigrants out of the shadows through legalization have become increasingly more complicated and restrictive. The comprehensiveness of the bills may bring in some additional congressional support because of certain proposals in the mix.
But as immigration reform becomes more comprehensive, it also sparks new opposition, even from those who strongly support legalization. In other words, as the reform adds new elements, it sparks new opposition, as the vote against closure in 2007 showed, bringing together a bipartisan majority against the Senate bill. On Sept. 10 NDN released a poll that it said found “overwhelming public support for comprehensive immigration reform in key battleground states.”
NDN, America’s Voice, and other pro-immigration groups now cite the polling by the Democratic Party’s in-house Latino pollster Sergio Bendixen to support claims that there is intense and widespread support for comprehensive immigration reform. But the question asked 500 people in four states (Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado) was not if they supported legislation to legalize illegal immigrants.
Rather it was if they supported comprehensive immigration reform. As the report on the polling results noted, “Different groups and individuals use the term “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” to mean very different things.”
In this case, NDN commissioned the Bendixen firm to defined comprehensive reform in the harsh yet expansive terms that it encouraged the Democratic Party to adopt in its 2008 party platform. Here’s the question as framed by NDN: “Would you support or oppose a comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens border security, sets up an employment verification plan, establishes serious criminal penalties for employers that hire illegal workers, creates a new visa program for 200,000 workers annually, substantially increases the number of family visas available for the immediate relatives of legal immigrants, and grants illegal immigrants conditional legal status for six years and then a path to permanent residency and citizenship if they meet certain requirements?”
The poll showed that 66-69% of those surveyed in the four states (rising to 75-79% for Hispanics) supported such a comprehensive reform package. Legalization, rather than being a centerpiece of this package, is surrounded by other measures variously designed to appeal to different groups – border security and criminalizing hiring of illegal workers for those favoring enforcement solutions, and new worker visa program and substantially increased family visas for those favoring more legal immigration.
Rather than legalization, the package as defined by NDN provides only a highly conditioned pathway to citizenship – hardly a strong expression of support for legalizing the country’s undocumented population of 11 million.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
“It is our philosophy, it is my personal philosophy that the answer to dealing with the problem of jobs that Americans do not seem to want to fill, is not to allow people to come in illegally, to break the law to fill them, but to create a regulated legal, visible and secure path, to invite people in when we want to invite them in, under the terms and conditions that satisfies us as Americans, that we are comfortable with the security and the economic impact of that migration in that temporary work, and also using a path that is transparent and protects the workers themselves from the kind of exploitation some of them experience when they come in an illegal status.”
Saturday, November 1, 2008
“While American Hispanics grew increasingly concerned about the widespread portrayal of amnesty for illegal aliens as a ‘Hispanic issue,’ American blacks were also growing alarmed at the impact that mass immigration and unchecked illegal immigration were having on their own communities and the failure of the recognized black leadership in American to advocate on behalf of their interests. Increasingly, black citizens were seeking representation in the national immigration debate and they, too, turned to FAIR for assistance."