Tag Archives: DREAM Act

We Are Who We Want To Be: Dreamers

Amodei 3Here’s a sample of what Nevada Representatives Joe Heck (R-3) and Mark Amodei (R-4) voted against on June 6, 2013 in the Congress of the United States of America —

“For most of her life Anna Ledesma has been afraid. She was a model student at Centennial High School in Las Vegas – an artist and a member of Key Club. As one of the top academics at her large high school, she received the Millennium Scholarship to study nursing at the College of Southern Nevada. Now she’s studying hard for her nursing exams. But 23-year-old Anna has lived for a long time with the constant fear that she will be deported.

Anna is an undocumented immigrant. She was born in the Philippines and brought here by her parents when she was 7 years old. She was in the second grade.”  [Reid Senate]

Individuals like Anna Ledesma are the reason for the Morton Memo directives.   And, as noted yesterday, on June 6th Representatives Heck and Amodei voted in favor of the King Amendment to H.R. 2217 which would prohibit implementation of those directives.

Yeah but: She’s still an “illegal immigrant.”  Coming here illegally is a crime.  Not so fast.  Note that Anna came here at age 7.  Nevada law is specific on the subject of who can be punished for a criminal act — and who can’t.

“NRS 194.010  Persons capable of committing crimes.  All persons are liable to punishment except those belonging to the following classes: 1.  Children under the age of 8 years. 2.  Children between the ages of 8 years and 14 years, in the absence of clear proof that at the time of committing the act charged against them they knew its wrongfulness.  3.  Persons who committed the act charged or made the omission charged in a state of insanity.”

You don’t have to get any further than item one to determine that she was not old enough to be legally capable of committing a criminal act in the state of Nevada.

The Infancy Defense is slightly different in the federal courts.  In terms of Common Law,  persons under the age of seven are presumed incapable of forming the requisite intent to commit a criminal act; a person between the ages of 7 and 13  “a child is rebuttably presumed incapable of forming a culpable mental state. ” [C&D]   U.S. law presumes the applicability of the infancy defense for children under the age of 11.

Yeah but:  “Dreamers” will crowd into our institutions of higher education and place an unconscionable burden on our already cash strapped institutions. [CIS] We could fix that by adequately financing our public colleges and universities — but that would require someone to pay some … taxes.  Most radical right arguments assume a high number of enrollees, and further  presume that no one — under any circumstances — should ever pay more … taxes.   Conveniently omitted from the conservative assertions is the fact that immigrant families DO pay taxes, and they also tend not to take into consideration the fact that individuals, like the Dreamers,  who complete college degrees add to the U.S. economy.

As of May 2013 the unemployment rate for persons with less than a high school diploma was 11. 1%.  The unemployment rate for high school graduates was 7.4%.  Those with some college experience or an associates degree are looking at an unemployment rate of 6.5%, while those with a college degree (or more) are experiencing an unemployment rate of 3.8%.  [BLS Table A4]

The logic is relatively simple — since those with more education are less likely to be unemployed they must be in the work force.  If they are in the work force they are earning money, with which they will make consumer purchases and pay taxes.   Why wouldn’t a government at any level want more individuals enrolled in post secondary education?  It pays off in the long run.

Meanwhile back at Senator Reid’s exemplar — I thought we needed nurses?  The median age of a nurse in this country is 46 and some 50% of our nurses are nearing retirement. [ANA]  Those who argue that there is no current nursing shortage (WSJ) seem to be assuming the recession is going to last forever.  Those nurses who put off retirement during the downturn are going to be looking at the prospect again as the overall economy improves.  And it does look to be improving for those in the “education and health care” sector, which saw a 5.3% unemployment rate in May 2012 and a 4.8% rate as of May 2013.  [BLS Table A 14]  The Occupational Outlook for registered nurses is a “faster than average” rate of +26% during the 2010-2012 decade.

Median pay for a registered nurse is about $65,000 annually.  [OOH]  So, if we perhaps had a few more individuals who would like to complete the training necessary to enter a field with optimistic prospects for employment, and to earn $65,000 per year which in turn flows into the economy with some of that amount paid in taxes — What’s the problem?

Yeah but: This is sending a “horrible message.”  [Atl] All those “illegal” people will clamor to send their children to American schools…. Kids the world over will leave their friends, their families, and their homes to come …. Whoa.  Some few might leave their families, but anyone who’s ever been accompanied by an adolescent offspring on vacation knows full well that removing the said adolescent from the peer group — even temporarily —  is the social equivalent of multiple root canal surgeries. So, if the extrapolation of Immigration Nightmares is patently irrational, what explains the opposition?

If the message that we want ambitious, education oriented, civic minded, enterprising, and industrious  individuals to come to this country is “horrible,” what would be the reverse position?  Not to put too fine a point to it, but for some opponents of immigration reform the answer is “Nobody.”  No one would be welcome, and they’d be even less welcome should the persons in question be non-WASPs.

This has been an all too common refrain, a chorus repeated as The Nation Was Being Changed From What We Were by — Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, Russians  — OK we’d have missed out on John Jacob Astor (born Heidelberg), the ancestors of Bill O’Reilly and Danica Patrick, Domingo Ghirardelli (Who doesn’t love chocolate? Born in Rapallo, Italy),  Max Factor, Sr. (born in Lodz), the fourth son of Slovakian immigrant Andrej Varhola, known to us as Andy Warhol,  and Yuliy Borisovich Briner (born Vladivostok, AKA Yul Brynner).     With no apologies to any of the Nativists — if they can indeed figure out who besides the Native Americans actually ARE natives — the Astors, the Patricks, the Ghirardellis, the Factors, the Warhols, the Brynners, the Longorias, the Musials, the Goldwyns, the Warners, the Sikorskys, the Sanchezes, the Trevinos, the Hinojosas — ARE who we ARE.

Maybe we were sending the right message all along?

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Filed under anti-immigration, Economy, Immigration, Politics

DREAM on: Myths and Legends of the Failed Vote

One of the oft’ repeated GOP comments on the DREAM Act is that it could have passed on December 18, 2010 because “the Democrats had a super-majority in the Senate and could have broken the Republican filibuster of the bill.”

What was the situation at 11:09 AM, December 18, 2010 in the 111th Congress as the Senate met for a cloture vote?

The bill, H.R. 5281, failed to get enough votes to close debate — 55-41, with 4 members of the Senate not voting.  The 111th Congress had 57 Democrats, 2 independents caucusing with Democrats, and 41 Republicans.

The four not voting were  Bunning (R-KY), Gregg (R-NH), Hatch (R-UT), and Manchin (D-WV).    There were some cross-over votes.  Republicans voting in favor of the bill were  Bennett (R-UT), Lugar (R-IN), and  Murkowski (R-AK).   Democrats who voted against the bill were  Baucus (D-MT), Hagan (D-NC), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Tester (D-MT).

If ALL the Democrats had voted in favor of the bill, and both Independents who caucused with the Democrats had joined them, that would have given the Democrats 59 votes on a straight party line roll call.  In other words, Democratic solidarity alone would have been one vote short of the super-majority needed to pass H.R. 5281 (111th).

There were three Republican votes in favor of the bill.  Assuming Democratic solidarity and the three GOP votes, the bill would have achieved a total of 62 votes (two more than necessary to break the filibuster).

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is wrong to state that the Democrats controlled a super-majority of the 111th Congress, they actually controlled a maximum 59 votes.  [CongResService pdf]

Another argument has been offered that if President Obama wanted to get the 60 votes necessary he could have “strong armed” those Democrats who ended up voting against the bill.   “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride?”   The bill attracted 55 votes (including the votes of 3 Republicans), had the five Democrats joined their colleagues the measure could have presumptively broken the filibuster on a 60 vote count.

However, we’d have to ask at this point if President Obama — or any other moderate to progressive Democratic president — could have moved Senator Ben Nelson (NE) onto the “yes” side of the tally.  We’d need to remember that while Senator Nelson often voted with his Democratic colleagues, during this time period he’d also voted against allowing states to limit credit card interest rates, against the confirmation of Justice Elena Kagan, and voted in favor of a balanced budget amendment. [PVS]

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) also has a more conservative voting record than many of his other Democratic cohorts, as does Senator Hagan (D-NC), who was elected in 2008 and was serving in her first term.  Both represent southern states with more conservative views on social issues like immigration policy.  Forcing a pro-vote from either of these may have been detrimental to their re-election prospects.

That leaves the Montana contingent, Senators Baucus and Tester.  As in the case of Pryor and Hagan, Baucus and Tester represent fundamentally more conservative regions than many of the proponents of the DREAM Act.

However, all this leaves the numbers unresolved. Even if all 59 Democratic and Democratic leaning Senators in the 111th Congress had voted in favor of the bill, without Republican support it would have failed to break the filibuster.   The next hypothetical question might be: What of the four non-voting senators?  We’ve already included Senator Machin (D-WV) in the total Democratic count.

It’s probably reasonable to assume that Senators Bunning and Gregg, both with very conservative reputations would not have voted in favor of breaking the filibuster of H.R. 5281.  Senator Hatch (R-UT) had been in favor of a DREAM Act in the past, but his one vote would only have yielded a total of 56 to achieve cloture.

Thus we’re back to the numbers from the CRS directory: The 111th Congress had 57 Democrats, 2 independents caucusing with Democrats, and 41 Republicans.   No matter how we play with the numbers, if the matter had been one of a straight party line vote the filibuster could not have been broken.  What would have been necessary is not Democratic solidarity, although that would have been nice — but more Republican support for the bill.

Perhaps more to the point: What if there had been no filibuster in the first place?

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Filed under Filibusters, Immigration

The Best and the Brightest

Best line of the morning: “Heller wooing Hispanics is a little like President Barack Obama showing up at retreat of the Koch family, the now-famous billionaire brothers who loathe the president’s policies.”  [LV Sun]

Best statement on the Dream Act: Senator Harry Reid –  “Mitt Romney’s out-of-touch statements about the DREAM Act are a slap in the face to Nevada’s Hispanic community. To those who would earn legal status by risking their lives to serve our country in uniform or attending college so that they can better contribute to the United States, this commonsense legislation is anything but a ‘handout’. It shocks me that more Republicans are not demanding an apology for this extreme position about a proposal that was originally co-authored by a Republican.” [NRDC] Note: appointed Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) opposes the DREAM Act.

Best Chart of the DayTalking Points Memo – “How the Debt Limit Fight Hurt the Economy.”  A modified version of the chart from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (January 2012):

Between the two versions of essentially the same general category of economic information it isn’t too difficult to discern that all the hyperbole about the Debt Ceiling tended to depress consumer confidence and business enthusiasm for positive economic gains.

Best Quick Link of the Day:  Library of Congress, alphabetical listing of bills introduced in the 112th Congress.   Abortion (49), Birth Control (1), Family Planning and Birth Control (28), Firearms and Explosives (81), Marriage and Family Status (44), Oil and Gas (261), Separation, Divorce, Custody, Support (15), Terrorism (233).  So far…

Best Report Not Enough People Are Going To Read:  American Society of Civil Engineers, (pdf) “Water Report: Executive Summary – Failure To Act.”   By 2020 we will have a $84.4 billion gap between what we’re spending and what we need to spend on water resource infrastructure.

Best Place To Keep Track of Judicial Nominations:  American Constitution Society, “JudicialNominations.Org.”   Click here for the (pdf) update on judicial nominations as of January 2012.

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Filed under 2012 election, Heller, Immigration, Infrastructure, Judicial, Nevada politics, Reid