Roger Algase's blog yesterday asked the question: "What does President Obama's position on health care reform have to do with immigration?"
An excellent question Roger, because if you recall immigration reform played a key part in the health care debate. Specifically, the Hispanic Caucus, lead by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill), threatened to withhold their vote for Health Care Reform because it contained xenophobic anti-immigrant provisions.
His exact words: "I would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to vote for any measure that denies undocumented workers health care purchased with their own dollars."
The good Congressman ultimately pledged his support for the President's signature legislation in return for an empty (and now broken) promise from President Obama that he would meaningfully address immigration reform... and no, the President's meeting with a pop star and a desperate housewife should not in any way be interpreted as satisfaction of his debt to the Caucus.
As such, immigration reform minded Democrats were deceived into relinquishing their one legitimate bargaining chip to force the President's hand to effectuate an end to the rampant deportations that have hallmarked the Obama Presidency.
In this regard, in the Senate during the lame duck session, five Democrats fillibustered the DREAM Act: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Montana Democrats, Jon Tester and Max Baucus.
To add insult to injury, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) skipped the DREAM Act cloture vote to attend a Christmas party.
Merry Christmas DREAMers.
Parenthetically, three Republicans crossed party lines in favor of the DREAM Act, enough to get it through if the Democrats where whipped in line.
So you may ask, what fallout resulted from Freshman Senator Manchin's act of indifference to DREAM? Well, appointments to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Special Committee on Aging of course.
Can you name one Senator that even lost a committee appointment over their failure to vote for DREAM?
I know I can't.
This was the last chance that the Democrats had to get immigration reform through Congress, and they couldn't force unanimity from their members over something as obvious as the DREAM Act. They certainly got their votes for health care though, by beg, borrowing, and most importantly, stealing from the immigration reform caucus.
Amnesty International Report: Obama Administration Committing Human Rights Violations through Immigration Enforcement
Amnesty International has released an 86-page report entitled: In Hostile Terrain: Human rights violations in immigration enforcement in the US Southwest that examines the human rights violations perpetrated by the Obama administration through immigration enforcement at the southern border and in the interior of the United States.
They research conditions in Texas and Arizona throughout 2010 and 2011, interviewing individual immigrants and their families, survivors of abuse, advocates, activists, service providers, academics, public officials, and medical examiner personnel.
They also interviewed federal and local law enforcement officials at the US Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department, and Tucson Police Department.
Finally, they reviewed media reports of incidents involving human rights violations of immigrants, documenting current and pending federal and state legislation relating to immigration enforcement and immigrants’ rights.
The following is a sampling of the examples of human rights violations perpetrated by the Obama administration as set forth in the report:
- Racial profiling and discrimination based solely on ethnic or racial characteristics, such as skin color, accent, ethnicity, or a residential area known to be populated by a particular ethnic group;
- Latinos and members of other communities of color along the border are disproportionately targeted for stops, identity checks, and searches for the purpose of immigration enforcement;
- ICE agents are doing linguistic profiling by asking people waiting for the buses basic questions in English. If the person can’t answer in English, the agents ask for papers;
- Officers are making inquiries about immigration status without 287(g) authority or training to assess someone’s immigration status. Or they will assume that a person is undocumented merely because they don’t speak English.
- U.S. citizens of color are being adversely impacted by discriminatory practices of racial profiling;
- Immigrants are being abused during detention and deportation;
- Allegations of excessive use of force during apprehension, detention and deportation;
- Deprivation of the right to counsel and due process protections are being denied through verbal intimidation;
- Thousands of children will never be reunited with parents detained or deported by ICE because there are no protocols to keep families united;
- Survivors of crime are being denied access to justice;
- Trafficking survivors are never told of the immigration remedies available to them; and
- DHS enforcement interrogations often take place without defense counsel being present.
I have just started researching Third Party candidates for President in 2012. I suggest that you all do the same.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law – including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).