Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama attacked John McCain over his changed position on immigration in an address today to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus today. Specifically, Obama criticized his opponent for failing to include comprehensive immigration reform in his party's platform.
ABC News reports:
“And when it came time to write his party’s platform, comprehensive reform never made it in,” Obama said before the Institution’s annual gala in Washington DC, “So you’ve got to ask yourself: if Senator McCain won’t stand up to opponents of reform at his own convention, how can you trust him to stand up for change in Washington?”
Senator Obama said that he’d admired when McCain had bucked his party on immigration reform in the past, but said that was a stance McCain walked away from when running for the president,
“When he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his stance, and said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote,” Obama said to the audience, “Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a President who won’t walk away from comprehensive immigration reform when it becomes politically unpopular.”
Wooing the key demographic, Obama told the crowd that he’s not taking one single Hispanic vote for granted this election, referencing Kerry’s close loss in New Mexico in 2004.
“I need you. I need you to win,” Obama said in closing.
From America's Voice:
A diverse group of national faith leaders, including Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Jim Ryan, Council Executive, Colorado Council of Churches, and The Most Reverend Bishop John C. Wester, Archdiocese of Salt Lake City and Chair of Committee on Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the "Tour of the Faithful" yesterday.
The tour will consist of a national month of action, and will feature 17 events organized by religious groups of various faiths from coast to coast who will be calling for reform to our broken immigration system.
On a telephonic press call earlier yesterday, the leaders discussed the growing movement and mobilization of people of faith in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez said, "The Elephant in the room as it pertains to the 2008 Elections is Immigration Reform. Both parties have succeeded in hiding this crucial issue under the canopy of a Don't ask Don't Tell Policy . Faith communities today stand as the last firewall against the Trojan Horse carrying xenophobia, nativism and apathy. We cannot stay silent while families are separated, children suffer and raids motivated by political expediency proliferate in American society. We stand committed with America's Voice to facilitate platforms across America where this issue will be front and center as we serve to reconcile our communities, justice, the rule of law and our faith values."
Bishop John C. Wester called on candidates and elected officials to demonstrate the moral courage to support reform that respects the God-given dignity of all people, saying, "Immigration is a pressing domestic concern and deserves special attention from the presidential candidates and our elected officials. Enforcement-only initiatives, like workplace raids, and anti-immigrant rhetoric create fear in immigrant communities and do little to solve the problem of illegal immigration. They also lessen us as a nation."
Rev. Dr. Jim Ryan added, "The faith community has said for years that the federal (state) budget is a moral document. It reflects the values and priorities of our society. I would add that our country's immigration laws and policies are moral/theological statements. They reflect our attitude toward and treatment of a select group of God's children. Our present policies do not reflect an understanding of the sacred humanity of every immigrant."
Adding a historical context, Rabbi David Saperstein commented, "In addition to our historic experience, our tradition also demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. The Torah contains over 36 references to this principle, including Leviticus' command, 'When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt' [19:33-34]."
As Election Day nears, hateful rhetoric towards immigrants remains commonplace and large-scale immigration raids are tearing immigrant families apart and terrorizing their communities. People of faith across the theological spectrum are increasingly standing up against these dehumanizing tactics and in favor of an America consistent with our best values.
Many politicians have had to face scrutiny over the years when it was learned they hired illegally present immigrants. But it's unusual for two of these controversies to arise on the same day.
GOP Senator Gorton Smith of Oregon (who is running for reelection in a tough race in November), has been accused by a Willamette, Oregon newspaper of employing illegally present immigrants in his family-owned frozen food company.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, admitted that he has not checked the immigration status of people who have worked at his home. Schwarzenegger's own immigration history is mysterious and there is a strong possibility he was himself illegally present in the US during his early years in this country.
[Update] My report below is not correct. The initial report I received on the markup was not correct and the markup process was not competed today. I believe work is going to continue tomorrow or Friday and hopefully this will be done by the weekend. Apologies.]
The House Judiciary Committee today marked up and sent to the House floor four important immigration bills. They are
- H.R. 6020 - provides immigration benefits for immigrant soldiers and their families
- H.R. 5882 - recaptures employment-based and family-sponsored immigrant visas lost when USCIS failed to adjudicate enough petitions in a given year
- H.R. 5924 - allocates 20,000 employment-based visas per year for three years for nurses
- HR 5950 - provides for basic medical care for immigrant detainees
Earlier today, I said these bills were being marked up in the Immigration Subcommittee. That happened earlier this summer. Apologies if I caused any confusion.
Pro-Immigration advocacy group America's Voice has a new video reminding people that FAIR - the Federation for American Immigration Reform - has been deemed a hate group.
- There were 269,943 name checks pending on May 6, 2008. There are 95,449 pending as of August 12, 2008.
- There were 185,162 name checks pending for more than six months on May 6, 2008. There are 61,817 pending more than six months as of August 12, 2008.
- USCIS met its April 2, 2008 goal to process all name checks pending more than two years by July 2008.
OK, here are the changes. Please don't ask me to predict the movement of numbers. When I become clairvoyant, I intend to retire from immigration law and bet the horses :-).
Family 1st - Rest of world, China and India each advance two weeks to 15 April 2002. No movement for Mexico or the Philippines.
Family 2A - One month jumps to 1 January 2004 for rest of world, China, the Philippines and India. Mexico moves from unavailable to 1 May 2001.
Family 2B - No movement for any country except the Philippines advances one month to 8 May 1997
Family 3rd - One week advancement for all countries except no movement for Mexico.
Family 4th - Three week advancement for rest of world and China. India jumps six weeks. No movement for Mexico or the Philippines.
Employment 1st - Remains current for all countries.
Employment 2nd - Current for all but India and China. And bad news for those countries. Numbers retrogress from 1 August 2006 to 1 April 2004 for China and from 1 August 2006 to 1 April 2003 for India.
Employment 3rd (skilled/professional) - Some good news. The category is available again. Rest of world is at 1 January 2005. China is at 1 October 2001. India is at 1 July 2001. Mexico is at 1 July 2002. And the Philippines is at 1 January 2005.
Employment 3rd (unskilled). Also moves from unavailable. All countries at 1 January 2003.
British-born Thomas P. Campbell (he's the one on the left in the picture) made the news yesterday when he was named as the new director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world's premiere art museums. Campbell has worked his way up at the ladder at the Met for the last 13 years starting as an Assistant Curator, then Associate Curator, then Curator and now the top executive staff member position.
James R. Houghton, Chairman of the Met's Board of Trustees had this to say about Campbell:
As we move forward in this new millennium, and into a new era for this great institution, it is with the highest level of enthusiasm that I announce the election today by the Board of Trustees of Tom Campbell as the ninth Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is a distinguished art historian and outstanding curator, who is an ardent advocate for scholarship, connoisseurship, and the highest museum standards, as well as a solid manager and diplomat accustomed to preparing all facets of major exhibitions, from securing loans internationally to writing major catalogues and participating in all of the related administrative aspects of these projects. Tom's leadership qualities will be apparent to all, as will his many other great attributes, perhaps the most evident of which is his great passion for art, the very raison d'être of the Museum. Respected universally in his field and by his colleagues at the Met, he is equally respectful and at ease with the global constituencies of this encyclopedic museum, its friends and supporters in New York, and its large, diverse, and talented staff. We are delighted that he will take over the reins of the directorship from Philippe de Montebello, who has led the institution brilliantly for the past 31 years and who leaves it as, quite simply, the greatest art museum in the world.
I was waiting in line at Starbucks yesterday and noticed that the book they are featuring for sale at stores across the country is by Liberian-born Helene Cooper. The book is called the House at Sugar Beach and is about her growing up in Liberia and her immigrant experience in the US. Ms. Cooper is a name you may be familiar with if you read the New York Times, the newspaper for which she reports. I bought a copy and will write about it after I get to read it. If others have read it, tell us what you think.
“We are stunned. A Spanish-language ad approved by Senator John McCain accuses Senator Obama and the Democrats of derailing immigration reform? He knows better. The whole political world knows better. Comprehensive immigration reform was blocked not by Democrats but by Republicans. A White House strategy designed to secure 25-30 Republican votes (of the 60 needed) ended up getting only 12 Republican votes. The reason? A number of Republican Senators were intimidated by the intense opposition to the bill fueled by anti-immigrant groups, hard line Republicans and right-wing talk radio and television. Why such a bald-faced misrepresentation of history? Probably because Senator McCain knows that Latino voters – especially Latino immigrant voters – could prove to be decisive in this year’s election. He knows – perhaps more than most in his party – that comprehensive immigration reform is a defining issue and a driving factor for many of these new voters. He knows that they are rejecting his candidacy, despite his heroic efforts in the past on behalf of immigration reform, because he has an “R” next to his name. So what better way to reverse this trend than to strike early by running an ad so audacious in its distortions that it just might negatively define Senator Obama with enough Latino voters to win the coveted states of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. We get the politics, but in our view this is dirty politics. Yes, George Bush won some 49% of Spanish-dominant Latino voters in 2004 (which accounts for his increase in overall Latino support from 35% in 2000 to 40% in 2004). Yes, the nativists’ drumbeat coming from Republicans in recent years is driving these voters into the Democratic column in droves. Yes, Senator McCain is now drawing support from Latino voters in the low 20s, a level comparable to Bob Dole in 1996. Yes, if you are in the McCain campaign, something must be done to increase your level of support to the low 40s. But no, you don’t get to re-write history and blame Democrats, who voted for the bill. No, The McCain campaign cannot hide the fact that he pandered to the Republican base following the demise of the Senate immigration bill by adopting a so-called “border security first” position – a position incompatible with comprehensive immigration reform – in order to remain viable in the primaries. The McCain campaign cannot paint Senator Obama as an opponent of comprehensive immigration reform when both he and Senator Obama fought for it and voted for it in both 2006 and 2007. Finally, it is not lost on Latinos and immigrants that most of the anti-immigrant measures being implemented at the federal, state, and local level are championed by Republicans. Even the Bush Administration has now moved from supporting comprehensive immigration reform to a strategy of crack downs directed at Latino immigrants in their homes, workplaces, and communities. And as if there was any doubt, at the convention just last week in Minnesota, the Republican Party embraced a mass deportation approach that opposes citizenship for illegal immigrants – a key component of comprehensive immigration reform. This stands in stark contrast to this year’s official party platform of the Democratic Party’s embrace of comprehensive reform.
Immigrants and Latinos are intelligent. They know the difference between fact and fiction. This ad is more fiction than fact, and the McCain campaign should take this ad off the air.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is reviewing the performance of Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has a 287(g) agreement with the agency to assist in immigration enforcement. ICE insists the audit is routine, but there have been numerous complaints about Arpaio's implementation of the program. I hope it's as fun as an IRS audit.
The notoriously poor business acumen of the typical physician is probably just a stereotype and surely the budding physician entrepreneur can look to Dr. Prem Reddy for inspiration of what is possible.
The Indian-born Dr. Reddy is one of the most successful cardiologists in the country, but he is equally famous for being the major owner of Prime Healthcare Services, which owns a number of hospitals in California. As a cardiologist, he's performed nearly 5,000 procedures. And as a businessman, he's one of the leading health care executives in the United States
The Dallas Morning News reports on the Hispanic vote in this year's election. Republicans are hoping Latinos will remember McCain's past support for immigration reform (before he flipped his position and opposed his own bill). But here's why McCain should be worried:
Many of the children of immigrants have watched their parents struggle to improve the economic health of their families and believe the anti-immigrant movement has demonized their families unfairly.
That's the main reason state Rep. Rafael Anchía of Dallas says Latinos will end up voting for Democratic candidates.
"Latinos under 30 are going to break big for Sen. [Barack] Obama this year, and naturalized citizens are going to respond to Obama's personal story as the son of immigrants," Mr. Anchía said.
"Most Latinos know how John McCain abandoned us when it came to voting on his own comprehensive immigration bill. I do believe the country, in general, is ready to move in a new direction."
Those of you who read the blog regularly will recall my coverage of the rather outrageous Department of Labor decision to audit all of the PERM labor certification cases filed by the Fragomen law firm, the nation's largest immigration practice. The decision was based on the very shaky theory that Fragomen's lawyers did not have a legitimate role to play in the recruitment stage of the PERM process. Basically, the DOL opined that a law firm should not be permitted to communicate with the client about resumes of potential US workers who appeared to be qualified for the position.
Fragomen and the rest of the immigration bar have pushed back hard challenging the notion that clients can't have access to their attorneys during an extremely complex legal process with serious consequences for clients. In August, the DOL appeared to back down from this position. But they have still not backed off their extremely unjust plan to single out Fragomen and its clients for a 100% audit of their cases. And Fragomen is pressing forward to force DOL to back off.
I wish them success. They not only have the law on their side, but their position is morally right as well.
Here are the documents from the latest chapter.
Fragomen reply materials part 1 - Get more Business Documents
I've received a request for assistance from the Mississippi advocacy group working with the 400+ detained immigrants who were arrested during the recent raid at Howard Industries in Laurel, MS. They are being held in Jena, Louisiana. If you're interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll forward your email on to the folks needing the help.
I found a great web site for those of us who love political history.The site has a rich collection of television commercials from every presidential election since 1952.
Here's one that I stumbled on that reminds us that Latino voters have mattered for a long time in this country. But I can't remember an election where this important voting bloc was more influential. And it makes me nostalgic remembering Jackie O.
The Washington Post reports on a trend that has grown over the last few years as the shortage of teachers around the US has grown more pronounced. A lot of school systems are now depending on international educators to help ensure that teacher-student ratios don't continue to worsen. There are plenty of reasons we should be talking about teachers making more money and how we can make the profession more attractive. But like nursing, people who need teachers TODAY don't have the luxury to think about policies that will take years to bear fruit.
One nice side effect of all of the foreign teachers, particularly those in rural areas, is the international perspective they bring to children who otherwise have little exposure to life beyond the borders of the US.
Buried in the State Department Visa Bulletin I linked to a couple of days ago was an announcement that the bar on Russians using the program would be ended and Kosovo will be listed as an independent country. The entry period will be from October 2, 2008 to December 1, 2008.
This is really something. Nursing unions are trying to block a bill to allow more visas for nurses despite a massive shortage that exists TODAY and which is endangering patients NOW and is instead pressuring Congress to reject the bill in favor of measures that MIGHT produce more nurses SEVERAL YEARS IN THE FUTURE.
It's fine to say that steps need to be taken to get more Americans to go in to nursing or return to nursing. I suspect that this is less about patients and more about money. The worse the nursing shortage, the more money unions can command at the bargaining table. If this were really about trying to help American nurses, there would be no object to nurses coming in on at least non-immigrant visas during the multi-year period it would take to increase the domestic supply of nurses. But guess what? These same unions are opposing work visa bills as well as green cards.
These unions need to explain why their proposal is not endangering patients during the period when their plan is being implemented (which will likely last ten years or more in my opinion).
Some readers have emailed me expressing their disappointment that ILW.com effectively endorsed John McCain in its editorial in today's Immigration Daily:
If we get President Obama, Democrats are going to be euphoric on Jan 20, 2009, and rightly so - being back in the White House, at last, after 8 long and bitter years. Democrats have not been able to pursue their priorities for 8 years and we can expect them to act aggressively on their big priorities immediately after a President Obama takes office. There are at least four Democratic priorities ahead of immigration: the Iraq war, universal health care, budget/taxes and energy policy. These are all large, complex issues and Congress will take most of a President Obama's first term to work on these. In such a scenario, we will not see any significant immigration benefits in the foreseeable future.
If we get President McCain, we will still have a powerful Democratic majority in Congress on Jan 20, 2009. This Congress will be at loggerheads with him on all the major Democratic priorities. Democrats will want to bring the troops home whereas Mr. McCain wants them in Iraq for 100 years; Democrats see a health care crisis whereas Mr. McCain sees none; Democrats will want increased taxes whereas Mr. McCain would like to cut them; Democrats want to conserve oil and work on alternative sources of power whereas Mr. McCain would like to drill for oil all over the map. Democrats and a President McCain will be 180 degrees apart on all major Democratic priorities. In this bitter fighting hardly anything will get done legislatively, and both Democrats and Mr. McCain will be looking for opportunities to show the country that they can work on something together.
While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party's anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency.
The Bush era has been the worst in memory for immigration advocates. However the combination of a powerful Democratic majority in Congress with Mr. McCain as President offers the best hope for speedily obtaining desperately needed immigration benefits.
I strongly disagree with this conclusion. While I think that in their hearts, both McCain and Obama are pro-immigration, I do not agree with the editorial's conclusion that McCain will reach across the aisle and push through a reform bill in order to show he can get something done.
First, it's not clear that he would even try. During this presidential campaign, he had the opportunity to reach out to Democrats and choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Instead, he chose a candidate designed to appeal to his base. When governing, the same pressures will exist.
Second, Democrats are not likely to cut McCain very much slack in general and McCain will need to maintain strong allies in his party in order to have any hope of moving his agenda along. I very much doubt he'll alienate them when he'll be governing from a weak position from day one.
Third, McCain will not want to be seen as flip-flopping yet again and reversing his position that he wants to pass enforcement legislation first. He has already lost a great deal of credibilty by abandoning his earlier support of immigration reform and to reverse again will be impossible to defend as anything other than an admission that he lied to get elected.
As for Obama, as I noted the other day, if he wins it will probably be because of the Hispanic vote. And he'll have only one way he'll be able to pay back that community - with a push for immigration reform. He stated in the party platform that he would pass immigration reform in the first year. The McCain platform didn't even endorse immigration reform, much less commit to a timetable. Obama also knows that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has blocked popular immigration bills in the current session of Congress as a protest against not moving comprehensive reform legislation and they could very well expand that effort to block the new President Obama's broader legislative agenda if he turns his back on his promise. My guess is that Obama will turn to immigration reform almost immediately and get this issue out of the way.
The editorial's statement that immigration is not a major issue for the Democrats is simply incorrect. It is likely to be THE issue that gets Obama elected. And it is likely to be the toughest issue he'll have to address. That's why he's likely to deal with it during his honeymoon period rather than wait on it to come up in the middle of his term when he'll be thinking about re-election. Hispanic voters are going to be absolutely critical to Obama getting a second term - probably even more so than this year.
If immigration is your number one issue, I think Obama is the better candidate.
While the world's attention was focused on the scary news yesterday on Wall Street, there was some hopeful news on another front. Researchers made an exciting announcement about breast cancer research. According to the BBC:
A new vaccine has completely eliminated a type of breast cancer tumour in tests on mice, say researchers.
The vaccine targets breast cancer caused by an excess of a protein called HER2 - and even destroyed tumours resistant to current drugs.
The US team said it might also be used to prevent initial development of the tumours in cancer-free women.
The lead US researcher was Taiwanese-born Professor Wei Zen-Wei of Wayne State University in Michigan. This is exciting news, though there is much research to be done before the benefits are fully realized. Congratulations, Professor Zen-Wei!
When the cable news shows are talking about it, you know something's up. In July, USCIS began requiring female immigrants between 11 and 26 to get a vaccine to prevent the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is usually sexually transmitted. The agency discussed this new requirement in a recent public forum:
Question: There is some concern among both CBOs and civil surgeons regarding the new requirement on the I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to receive the HPV vaccine. Is the HPV vaccine recommended or required? If required, who is required to take the vaccine? Also, are applicants required to just take the initial dose for the purposes of the I-693, or must they complete the series?
Response: The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is one of several new age-specific required vaccinations that have been added to the Technical Instructions for Vaccination for civil surgeons conducting medical examinations of aliens. These newly added vaccination requirements, effective July 1, 2008, were a result of recommendations from the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and are required for persons to be medically cleared for adjustment of status. As a reminder, Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control have the regulatory authority to set the
www.uscis.gov requirements for our medical exams and we are bound to these requirements. As such, any vaccination recommendation made by the ACIP for persons living within the U.S. becomes a requirement for immigrants.
The HPV vaccine is required for females ages 11 through 26 years of age. As with all the vaccinations, because completion of a vaccine series often takes several months, applicants are currently not required to complete a series before being medically cleared to proceed with adjustment of status. They must, however, complete as many doses as was medically appropriate at the time the medical exam was conducted and are encouraged to follow-up with their primary physicians at a later date to finish any series. Further information and updates on the required medical exam and vaccines can be accessed at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/health.htm.
What's the big deal? Well, I won't get in to the issues of whether the vaccine has had complications. Though there have been complaints, let's just assume that the drug is, on the whole, a good one that will deliver important public health benefits.
The more serious argument is probably the one involving costs. The one HPV vaccine available, Merck's Gardasil, costs $162 per dose and three shots are required. It's the most expensive vaccine on the market today and if you don't have insurance, you're talking about almost $500. That's a new cost that can be a serious impediment to many thinking about filing for permanent residency.
While I generally support the notion that immigrants should not be subsidized in terms of covering the costs of processing their immigration applications, this seems to be excessive. Perhaps the compromise would be for the US government to buy up the drug and use its buying power to command a substantial discount and then offer the vaccine at a discount.
Second, the drug has apparently caused numerous complications, though I don't think there is serious disagreement that on the whole
Press releases notwithstanding, HR 5924, the bill to allocate 20,000 green cards for nurses, is set to be completed tomorrow (it was supposed to be done last week). I'll let you know when it has happened.
Remember former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez issuing 22 reforms to clean up a number of well-documented problems with immigration judges around the country. They included a new disciplinary system, improvements to the appeals process and additional oversight. According to a study released this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The report concluded that the Department of Justice
"failed to complete key improvement measures that go to the heart of ensuring that the immigration courts are staffed by capable, skilled judges that have sufficient time and resources to accurately do their job"
The Executive Office for Immigration Review has failed to conduct any performance evaluations of immigration judges or appeals board members and has not implemented a code of judicial conduct, according to the report.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at email@example.com