Now that the Center for Immigration Studies has jumped the shark with its silly study linking immigration to global warming, they're trying to top themselves. They are now claiming there is a growing movement around the country to allow non-citizens to vote and that we really need to put a stop to this. Really? I read EVERYTHING that is being reported around the country on immigration - probably a hundred pages or more a day of news articles, cases, proposed bills and laws, etc. And NO ONE in the pro-immigration community is talking about this. You're just going to have to trust me that this is a completely invented problem on CIS' part. Obviously, the goal is to get average Americans thinking that the pro-immigration community is out to dilute what it means to be an American citizen. I challenge the CIS to back up their completely fallacious claim that there is a "movement" pushing for this.
Czech-born Madeleine Albright has one of the most interesting biographies of any government official in many years. Aside from having been the first female Secretary of State during President Clinton's Administration, Albright's journey to the US was certainly unusual.
Albright's parents were Czech Jews who converted to Roman Catholicism during the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in the 1930s. The family fled to London in 1939 and then later returned to the Czech Republic where Albright's father Josef Korbel served as a diplomat in the years immediately following World War II. When the communists took power, the family moved permanently to the US. Albright did not learn about her Jewish heritage until she was serving as Secretary of State, something that was a complete shock to her. Korbel was a professor at the University of Denver and that is where Albright grew up in the US. Current Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was actually one of her father's students.
Albright's is certainly one of the elder statesmen in American foreign policy. The speaker of six languages began her career working in various foreign policy thinktanks as well as serving on the faculty of Georgetown University. President Clinton initially appointed her as America's ambassador to the United Nations and later Secretary of State where she served until the end of his White House term.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has this to say about the effort to deal with abuses in immigration raids:
Senate Act Would Restore Rule of Law to Immigration Enforcement
American Immigration Law Foundation Lauds Menendez-Kennedy Raids Bill
September 26, 2008
On Friday, September 26th, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) proposed the ďProtect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention ActĒ (S.3594) to establish minimum standards of treatment for U.S.citizens, lawful permanent residents and immigrants who are impacted by immigration enforcement operations. The following is a statement by Ben Johnson, Director of the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF)óan immigration policy, litigation, and education organization in Washington DC.
ďThe American Immigration Law Foundation applauds Senators Menendez and Kennedyís efforts to reintroduce the rule of law and the basic principles of fairness and humanity to the enforcement of our countryís immigration laws with the Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act. Due process and equal treatment under the law are fundamental rights that our country has stood for and are at the heart of the Menendez-Kennedy bill.
In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has dramatically stepped up interior enforcement efforts and itís no secret that hundreds of ICE detainees have been grossly denied not only due process protections, but also the fair treatment that every person, regardless of their immigration status, deserves. This failure to abide by the rule of law has resulted in utter chaos:U.S.citizens and lawful residents have been mistakenly detained; workers have been retaliated against for exercising their rights to organize in the workplace; and DHS officials have raided private homes without a warrant.
Immigration raids, detentions, and mass deportations terrorize workers and wreak havoc on families and entire communities with no real payoff. We canít expect to deport our way out of our immigration problem and we canít expect to improve wages and working conditions by simply removing a class of exploited workers. What we need is fair and practical comprehensive immigration reform that restores the rule of law through realistic regulation.
Yet in the meantime, we canít lose sight of who we are and what America stands for. As a country, we have always valued the need for fairness, due process, and the ability and freedom to have a voice in our judicial system. However, when it comes to immigration, our nationís noble legacy has been bluntly disregarded by federal officials. Itís encouraging that members in Congress are prepared to challenge the current administration and reaffirm our uncompromising commitment to these principles.Ē
This is great news especially since the House already passed extension bills for both those programs. The Senate is only extending the programs until March
30 6th just as E-Verify and the EB-5 program are extended in the House Continuing resolution. The House bills extended those programs for longer periods so they're still going to need to vote again, but given the previous approvals, this will hopefully not be seen as controversial and pass without much discussion. The votes could happen as early as this evening in the House.
[UPDATE: Thanks Young for the catch on the date in March when the extension expires]
The US House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution last night that extends the E-Verify program until next March, but allows the following programs to die:
The Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program which sends physicians to medically underserved inner city and rural communities around the country
The H-2B returning worker provision which stops double and triple counting of seasonal workers coming to fill positions where employers have proven no US workers are available
The religious worker immigrant visa program that has been around for nearly two decades and which is critical for churches and synagogues around the US
Green cards for nurses
And, of course, the recapture bill I've been discussing is nowhere to be found in the CR.
Please call your Senators and let them know that it is fundamentally unfair to tend to E-Verify in the continuing resolution and ignore these other vital programs and bills. Then urge them to include them in the version that they pass.
[Update: A helpful reader has corrected me and pointed out that the EB-5 regional center extension is in the CR. That's great news. Unfortunately, in getting through 357 pages of obscure references to US code sections, I missed that. But my point is still the same. After an entire two years of this Congress, this bill is basically all that our legislators will have to point to as their legislative accomplishment. That's just embarrasing.]
As I noted yesterday, there is a possibility that Senator Menendez's recapture bill could be passed as part of a deal to extend E-Verify. Anti-immigrant members of Congress are pushing to get a six month extension of E-Verify on a continuing resolution to keep the government operating until the new Congress can pass new budget bills next year. It looks like they may have had some success in getting the House to go along with this.
We need to urge Senator Menendez to stand tough in his efforts to get his recapture bill approved as a condition to extending E-Verify. And we need to get the message to the presidential candidates and the leaders of both parties in Congress to know that the Menendez bill is extremely important to Hispanic voters.
Why am I calling out to readers in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado? Because you are in three of the most important swing states in this year's elections. And the Hispanic vote in these states is going to likely determine the winning candidate, not just in their respective states, but for the whole election.
If you are interested in helping, email me at email@example.com and I'll provide you with specifics.
I haven't run this feature in a while, but this story forwarded to me by my friend Sam seems warranted. It seems a candidate for Congress, Ohio state senator Steve Austria is attacking his opponent for "harboring an illegal immigrant with a criminal record". Wow, that sounds really pretty awful. Until you learn that his opponent, Sharen Neuhardt, was actually assisting a Rwandan refugee and the criminal record was for driving without a license and walking home while intoxicated. Pretty low.
Algerian-born Dr. Elias Zerhouni announced today that he is stepping down after six years from his position as the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Before accepting the NIH position, Dr. Zerhouni was the vice-dean at the renowned Johns Hopkins University and had a prior position in the Reagan Administration where he served as a consultant to the World Health Organization. He also has won numerpus awards for his research in imaging in computed tomography.
Dr. Zerhouni's biography at the NIH site outlines a number of accomplishments over the last several years. Congratulations, Dr. Zerhouni, on your years of service to your country.
Yesterday, I wrote about a great bill that was introduced by Senator Menendez that would recapture hundreds of thousands of unused green card numbers, ease the strict per country limits that cause long lines for nationals of some countries and also make it easier to get a waiver when someone is subject to an unlawful presence bar.It also changes the definition of an "immediate relative" to include spouses and children of permanent residents, a provision which would be wildly popular in the Hispanic community since it would cut out the multiyear waits typical in the Family 2A category.
And, oh yeah, there's another bill that people are talking about. The E-Verify program (DHS' much discussed electronic employment verification system) expires in November.
E-Verify is the heart of the entire enforcement agenda for the antis and with Congress set to adjourn in the next week or so and with the distinct possibility that this will put off all legislation until next February or so when the new Congress comes in, getting E-Verify extended in the next few days is a huge deal. A five year extension has passed the House already. The Senate has done nothing yet.
So it was with great interest that I read in yesterday's CQ Today print edition that Senator Menendez is blocking the E-Verify reauthorization bill in order to force consideration of the recapture bill. The article describes Republicans as being infuriated and saying that the recapture bill is a nonstarter and demanding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bring up a clean E-Verify extension bill.
On the House side, interestingly, the recapture bill was set for a markup in the Judiciary Committee yesterday and Congressman Conyers abruptly adjourned the hearing after a bill barring horse slaughtering was finished yesterday. According to my sources, several members of the Committee were shocked that the markup on the recapture bill didn't happen even though Conyers is a strong backer of the measure. Strange.
So that has me speculating. Is something cooking with the Democratic leadership and the Obama campaign? I think the Democrats smell blood. They know John McCain is in trouble with Hispanic voters based on recent polling data. He's polling anywhere from 10 to 20 points worse than Bush did in 2004 and the Hispanic vote partially explains why Obama finds himself ahead in places like New Mexico and Colorado, states Bush won in 2004. Erosion of support in the Hispanic community could also cost McCain Florida, a state McCain cannot lose if he has any chance of winning the election.
As I reported earlier this week, the McCain campaign and congressional leaders have been clamping down on the anti-immigrant wing of the party. You didn't really think these folks suddenly decided they no longer care about this issue, did you?
What I don't think is a coincidence is the sudden reemergence of immigration in the presidential debate. Suddenly, Obama is blasting McCain on immigration and looking for more and more forums to make his claim that he's pro-immigration and his party's solidly behind him. And he's quick to remind Latinos that John McCain turned his back on them and denounced his own comprehensive immigration reform bill, something that Latino voters are now saying is one their top priorities.
McCain is asking Latino voters for a do-over and claiming that he was only pandering to his base. He was always pro-immigration. It's just politics, you understand.
As you might expect, this message is not selling particularly well. And Democrats know it. They also know that with the economy in free fall, most Americans are not thinking that much about immigration anymore and the issue has dropped back to its historically low rank on issues of concern to the typical voter. So Democrats can be more visibly pro-immigration without having to fear negative consequences.
You probably see where this is going. Provoking a confrontation over immigration with Republicans in the month of October can only have good results. Democrats might actually pass a bill they really want. And they score politically as well.
There's no time to bring up a massive comprehensive immigration reform bill between now and the election. Something smaller and simpler, but what? Oh wait, there's that recapture bill! And there's that must pass E-Verify bill. Now there's a great way to put immigration back on the front pages. Link the two and force Republicans to vote no on a pro-immigration bill likely to have a hugely positive impact in the Hispanic community if they want the E-Verify program to survive. If the Democrats can keep the two bills linked, Republicans who can't stomach more immigration will have to vote no on E-Verify, something they'll have trouble explaining to their constituents. And Republicans who think E-Verify is too important to die, will help deliver a win on the recapture bill.
And in the mean time, McCain will have to openly confront the angry antis in his party. Some of the hardliners in his party will call the provisions easing the unlawful presence waivers to be a "back door amnesty." If McCain goes against them, he'll be seen as a liar by the people in his party who he promised that he would not support an "amnesty" without enforcement first. And if he votes with the antis, it will be all the Hispanic community needs to hear to confirm they're right to support Obama.
October could be interesting.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org