Tag Archives: Immigration Reform

News of Note

newspapers 1

  Stay tuned, today’s agenda in the Assembled Wisdom includes a vote on the foundation of Governor Sandoval’s tax and revenue plan.

“The state senate is expected to take a vote on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Business License Fee bill, the main business tax component of his overall $1.1 billion plan in new and extended taxes.

If the senate fails to pass Gov. Sandoval’s bill, it will be a sign that any tax plan to fund the governor’s proposed $7.3 billion general fund budget will not be completed by the end of the Legislature’s regular session, which is scheduled to end after the first week in June.”  [RGJ]

And, BTW, Attorney General Tea Party (Laxalt) is quick to inform us that his dive into the anti-immigration lawsuit, isn’t anti-immigrant.   Right. It’s just about the “Rule of Law,” and Congress should be acting on immigration reform, not the President.   And, if you believe this I have some lovely (but rather arid) cliff side real estate I’d love to sell you.  We might also note that the comprehensive immigration policy reforms were hammered out in 2013 and the GOP hasn’t seen fit to allow the package to see the floor since.  Or, as AZ Central points out:

Though some Republicans last year argued that a GOP-run U.S. House and U.S. Senate might be inclined to tackle immigration reform early this year — and national Republicans have stressed the need to get the issue off the table before the 2016 presidential election — most observers now say there appears to be little chance for far-reaching legislation along the lines of the 2013 Senate-passed bill negotiated by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

So, it’s 2017 – if then – before the Congressional leadership has any interest in tackling the issue?

Meanwhile, prominent passenger in the GOP Presidential Race Clown Car, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is hauling out the old canard – the very old canard – that even legal immigration is a threat to American workers.

“In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying — the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there — but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today — is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward,”  [HuffPo]

This one’s been debunked so many times it’s hard to keep track of the volume. but that won’t prevent the GOP from hauling it out once again.  No, they “aren’t taking our jobs,” and calls for full deportation would Negatively Impact our economy, and if you want the best information on the subject – which is not coming from right wing Republicans and their pet media outlets – that’s still the 2013 CBO report (FactCheck) and related reports from the CBO the links for which are HERE.

However, immigration policy reform isn’t the only casualty in this 18 months before the election hysteria from the right.  The propaganda mill is working overtime.  Additionally, some of the same donors who’ve brought us extreme right wing politics are funding the highly questionable “research” by Peter Schweiser’s Government Accountability Institute.   This doesn’t mean the internecine warfare among the occupants of the Clown Car will diminish any time soon.  The Cruz of the Mouth Club is claiming that Rubio and Walker are “wimping out” on Gun Rights.   The 20 week abortion ban seems to be one of the major points for Republicans in the primary season, even though Planned Parenthood notes that nearly 99% of all abortions take place before 21 weeks.

Biggest Losers:  The jerks who vandalized a memorial, including killing a newly planted tree, to Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

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Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Immigration, Nevada legislature, nevada taxation, Republicans, Womens' Rights

President Rides the Fourth Rail

obama The President of the United States will give a major speech tonight about immigration policy which may make some conservative Republican heads explode – which they were probably going to do anyway.  The House of Representatives has been sitting on a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 744) since June 27, 2013; a bill passage which provided a photo-op for Senators McCain and Schumer cheering the bipartisan effort. [Politico] The widely touted bill went to the Republican controlled House in which politics took precedence over policy.  The GOP objected, and the leadership said it wanted to take up the measures in a piece-meal fashion, but none of the 19 related bills emerged from House committees. [Congress] Finally, it became relatively obvious to all, except those who would not see, that the Congress had no intention of voting on any immigration policy reform bill during this session of Congress.  So, what’s so dodgy about the issue?

One problem for the Republican majority leadership in the House came from an ideological split in their own membership – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out forcefully in favor of S. 744.  The radio broadcasts from the right wing screamed “amnesty!”  House Speaker John Boehner was caught between two wings of the GOP, in its internecine conflict between commercial and financial interests and the Tea Party ultra-nationalists. He never brought the bill to the floor – or any of the others.

The failure to act on S. 744 offered cover for Representatives such as Joe Heck (R-NV3) who was free to say almost anything on immigration policy without having to adopt the provisions of a Republican bill, drafting a bill of his own, or taking a specific stance against the Senate version.  The failure also allowed the ultra-right wing Tea Party members to ‘valiantly’ oppose ‘amnesty,’ in its current meaning – any reform of the immigration policy which allows a pathway to U.S. citizenship.  Why does this create such a clamor from the right wing?

The Toxic Mix

It’s easy to spot the cornerstone of opposition from Tea Party types to any form of immigration policy reform, and the rock-like intransigence is made of up that usual conglomeration of bigotry, racism, and fear.  At a purely political level it’s simply a chant “They (Democrats) want amnesty just to get votes.”   This is an interesting charge because there isn’t a political party which ever existed for more than three minutes anywhere that wasn’t interested in increasing its base. Using this frame of reference how might we logically characterize vote suppression tactics and strategies from the Republicans which diminish the voting of ethnic minorities?  “They just want to have just their own people voting?”

Reverting to the right wing scare machine for a moment, the commentators and pundits of Hate Radio have been pounding their message since Reagan offered amnesty to family members in 1986. [BusInsider]  (Pre-emptive arguments, such as those offered by pundit David Frum,  appear to know exactly what the President wants before he says it, and to assume that because the Simpson-Mazzoli Act didn’t solve the all problems in perpetuity, therefore any other attempt at reform won’t either.)  The right wing has been lambasted with talking points ALL of which have long been debunked. “Immigrants don’t pay taxes.”  No, they are paying taxes for services they will never receive. “Immigrants come here to get on welfare!” No, the ratio between taxes paid and services used in this country never favors the immigrant population.  “They send all their money home!”  No, not when they’re contributing about $162 billion in tax revenues to federal, state, and local governments, and not when they are paying for housing, food, clothing and other essentials.

They take American jobs!”  No, again.  That myth has been long debunked. (See also: Boston Globe)   “They don’t speak English, and don’t want to!”  Now we’re gravitating into Nativist Territory.  Within ten years of immigration most speak English well enough to sustain employment and other activities in their communities.  [IPOrg] At the anecdotal level some who claim not to have a racist bone in their entire skeleton lament the advent of Spanish language broadcast programming, and Spanish language options on the telephone – retailers and other commercial interests figured out long ago that Spanish speaking immigrants aren’t “sending all their money home,” and want to make it as easy as possible for the immigrant families to part with some into the coffers of the marketers.  None of this anti-immigrant rhetoric explains why we have more demand for English Language classes than the supply will fulfill.

When all else fails, the descendants of immigrants from the great wave of the early 20th century will passionately announce that these immigrants are “different.”  Really, perhaps in that no immigrant from Honduras is going to see a “NINA” sign (No Irish Need Apply) but the discrimination remains the same.   How conveniently we forget the anti-German rhetoric of World War I, the anti-Polish “jokes” that still have a place in the lexicon of some not-very-funny people?  Just as the Irish, the Poles, the Russians, the Jews, the Chinese, and other previous immigrants experienced discrimination and derision – the Spanish speaking immigrants from Central and South America are now getting a taste of it.   They are – different, and therefore suspect.

Are they so suspect that we must pile up the ramparts, and protect ourselves from the ‘scourge’ of un-American immigrants?  We can look at our own state.

Nevada by the numbers: According to the last Census estimate (2013) there are 2,790,136 people living in the state of Nevada, or about 24.6 people per square mile of our acres and acres of acres and acres.  9% of the population is African American, 1.6% are Native American, 8.1% are of Asian descent , 27.5% are of Hispanic or Latino descent, and 52.2% report being white “alone” (not of Hispanic or Latino descent).  19.2% of Nevada residents are foreign born.  Of those who are foreign born, as of 2010, 57.2% were from Latin America, 29.8% from Asia, 8.5% from Europe, 1.7% from Canada, 2.3% from Africa, and 0.5% from Oceania.  [UNLV pdf]   When the Census Bureau ran the numbers and published information about naturalized citizens and non-citizens in 2003, there were 2,207,575 residents of Nevada, of whom 379,885 were foreign born, or about 17%.  129,330 were naturalized citizens, and 250,555 were non-citizens, or about 11%.  [Census download]

The following chart shows the percentage of residents of Hispanic or Latino descent by county, and the percentage of county residents (who might be of any ethnic classification) who are foreign born.  [Census]

County Hispanic Foreign Born
Carson City 22.7% 11.9%
Churchill 13.2% 5.7%
Douglas 11.8% 6.0%
Elko 23.7% 9.8%
Esmeralda 18% 16%
Humboldt 25.2% 13.6%
Lander 23.5% 13.6%
Lincoln 7.2% 2.1%
Lyon 15.7% 7.4%
Mineral 10.6% 3.3%
Nye 14.1% 8.3%
Pershing 22.5% 12.6%
Storey 7.5% 4.1%
White Pine 14.8% 2.3%
Washoe 23.3% 15.1%
Clark 30.0% 21.9%

 

One of the more interesting features of this chart is the obvious fact that in NO county are all the residents of Hispanic or Latino descent foreign born; for example in Carson City, it’s impossible to have an Hispanic/Latino population of 22.7% who are all non-citizens – a subgroup constituting only 11.9% of the total population.  In Humboldt County, 25.2% of the total population is of Hispanic/Latino descent, but only 13.6% of the total county population is foreign born.  Maybe “THEY” aren’t so different after all, their children are in school – probably participating in the athletic programs; they are shopping at the supermarket; and, the odds are that they were born here.

So, if they are paying taxes, using few public services, spending money in local businesses, taking jobs few others want to perform, and learning to speak English as fast as they can … what’s the problem?  Just once I’d like to hear a right wing radio personality be absolutely completely honest — “they” are different because they aren’t white.   So, whatever the President says this evening, it will be as the wits say “A black man advocating for brown people” and this will cause the White-Wing politicians to launch their diatribes and epithets, and excuses for continuing to do nothing.

We know what people say about those who are good at making excuses? They usually aren’t very good at doing anything else.

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Filed under Immigration, Nativism, Nevada, Nevada politics

News and Notes

Jig Saw Puzzle It’s been some time since there’s been a good old fashioned aggregation post and today seems as good a time as any.  So, here goes —

In the MUST Read Department, there’s “Nevada’s Bundy Caucus” over at Crooks and Liars.  Nothing so brightens a Wednesday morning like being reminded that a soul-mate of the nefarious Cliven Bundy has been elected to the Congress of the United States.  Whack-a-doodle Doo!  To make life even more interesting – Bundy-Lovin’ Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, the Gun Totin’ Moll of the Tea Party, wants to be the Majority Leader, according to the very credible Jon Ralston.

Also in the MUST Department, The Center for American Progress has an excellent statistical piece about Veterans in America.  Did you know that there are 22 million veterans in America, and that 2.6 million are from the post 9/11 Era?  Or, that 49,933 of them are homeless?  Read On! There’s more from the Ramirez Group on homeless veterans.  One out of every three homeless men is a Vet. Unconscionable.

Take a look at Steve Sebelius’s Fun with Numbers, concerning the 2014 election in Nevada.   Notice: Nevada Progressive is shutting shop and moving to Let’s Talk Nevada. There’s a very informative post about the campaigns and elections therein.  NRDC posts an article from Common Dreams concerning the interesting voting pattern in which progressive initiatives tended to pass while progressive/Democratic candidates tended to fail.

If you’re following the debate on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, then “GOP already in lame excuse mode,” is highly recommended reading.  Wondering what happened to the bill from the Senate?  AZCentral provides a timeline, including the fact that the Senate passed the bill on June 27, 2013 – and Speaker John Boehner has not brought the bill, or any House version thereof, to the floor since.

Even if the Republicans won’t admit it, gun violence in this country is a public health issue.   However, that doesn’t mean that the GOP will stop blocking the nomination for Surgeon General, a man who believes that bullets do serious damage to human bodies – after all the Ebola ‘crisis’ was over as soon as the election returns came in from Hawaii on November 4th. If we could see the violence issue in public health terms we’d remember that on average 32 people are killed by guns every day, and another 140 are treated in the ER for gunshot wounds.  So, if the averages hold,  approximately 1,376 people have died from gunshots since October 1, 2014. From Ebola infections? 1.

Yes, the Supreme Court will take up a conservative challenge to the Affordable Care Act.  Think Progress provides a succinct summation of the challenge.   There’s obviously some more work to be done to convince the public that (1) Obamacare isn’t a Thing, it’s a collection of reforms to the way health insurance corporations do business, and (2) repealing it means serious hardships to middle income Americans, the elderly, and continued struggles of 215,000 veterans who would be greatly assisted by the expansion of Medicaid.  Someone really should pose the question to the newly elected Congressional Representatives: Do you support the troops or the health insurance corporations?  The second question ought to be: Do you want to cost those corporations all the new customers they got under the ACA provisions?

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Republican Disintegration

GOP Elephant BrokenFor years now those of us on the left hand side of the political spectrum have endured the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative.  Every spat, from the serious to the silly, was described by the platitudinous pundits as yet another example of the Democratic Party being unable to organize all the critters inside the tent.  “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line,” we’ve been told.  However, at least we didn’t tear up the tent.

Nothing illustrates the disarray and mixed messaging quite so thoroughly, if inelegantly, as the current news in regard to the unaccompanied children showing up from Central America who may be seeking asylum or refugee status.

Where is the Pro-Family Party?  Good luck locating it at the moment.  On one hand, we have Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) telling us that ‘Children are the Future,’ and the little fetus in the womb is entitled to life, liberty, and property [C&L] but, if the zygote grows and gets born then evidently all bets are off.  On the other, a  sheriff in Arizona was only too happy to tip off angry protestors to the possibility that some of the “actuated zygotes” were on their way to a boys’ ranch. [C&L] There’s nothing that says “Pro-Family” quite like facilitating the activities of screaming xenophobes who want to block  buses loaded with children, and shake misspelled signs in their faces.

Why do children come here?  Maria’s story is compelling and chilling.  It’s very easy to sling generalities such as “illegal immigration is illegal,” but takes more intellectual effort to comprehend why an environment in which a youngster is forced to sell contraband drugs, is raped for the amusement of drug gang members, who has been threatened with death, [C&L] or has seen a sibling shot and killed, [NYT] is analogous to a war zone in which the police can’t be expected to help. [DoS]  Exactly how is it “Pro-Family” or “Pro-Life” to demand that (1) children be separated from their parents or (2) children be immediately shipped back into the violent chaos without a hearing?

Republicans have pulled every excuse from every page of the book to absolve themselves from the responsibility for delaying comprehensive immigration reform.  Remember when they wanted to “secure the border first?”  That would be the border with Mexico, Canada not so much.  Then the statistics came in:

“U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions totaled 420,789 nationwide in FY 2013, 16 percent above FY2012, but 42 percent below FY 2008 levels. While Border Patrol apprehensions of Mexicans in FY 2013 remained largely unchanged from FY2012, apprehensions of individuals from countries other than Mexico, predominately individuals from Central America, increased by 55 percent. ” [DHS]

That’s APPREHENSIONS, stopping migration at the border.  While immigration from Mexico declined, migration from Central America increased.

Then there’s the matter of Border Patrol staffing, which at the present numbers some 21,000 BP agents, who are engaged in “line watch and sign cutting,” “traffic checkpoints,” “marine patrols,” horse and bicycle patrols,” and anti-drug trafficking operations.  [DHS] This is enhanced by funding from Operation Stonegarden

“In FY 2013, $55 million in Operation Stonegarden funding was provided to states to enhance border security cooperation and coordination among local, tribal, territorial, state and federal law enforcement agencies. States that received funding in FY 2013 included Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas on the southern border; Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington on the northern border, and Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico on the coastal borders.” [DHS]

Increasing apprehensions, increasing the number of Border Patrol Agents, declining numbers from Mexico. Increased assistance to state, local, and tribal governments — and “IT” still is insufficient for the xenophobic bigot brigade.

We could build a fence? A bigger fence. A taller fence? A stronger fence.  Just about a week ago one Pastor told us that Jesus of Nazareth would have wanted a fence.

“What we are doing by having these unsecured borders is we are enticing children and mothers to make this dangerous journey,” the Christian leader added. “Yes, we want to show compassion to the children who are here, but the most compassionate thing we can do is secure the borders.”

Because in the analogical world of this mega-church reverend not having a Really Really Strong Fence is like not having one at all around your backyard swimming pool, in other words the Pastor is telling us that the United States is reduced to being one giant Attractive Nuisance?

It seems not to have occurred to some people that for every 40 foot fence there can be manufactured a 41 foot ladder.   So, what exactly IS an “unsecured border?”

The Administration increased border patrol operations — that wasn’t enough to secure the border, the Administration increased surveillance operations to secure the border, and that wasn’t enough.  Perhaps the Photo-Op from the right wing, compliments of a tweet from Fox News personality Sean Hannity is the image of a secure border?

Hannity Border Patrol

Of course the image hints at a pertinent question, the one raised by the Kansas City Star:  “Is this really the image we want to portray to the rest of the country — and the rest of the world — about how we handle humanitarian crises in other parts of the world?

No, the Pro-Life, Pro-Family Party will not be satisfied until the southern border is militarized — the bigger the guns the better, and mobilized — the more agents, Guardsmen, and members of the Armed Forces the better; except, that is, for the urging of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to get the ball rolling.  Until then — more excuses.

The “security” topic is getting to be dangerous territory for the absolutists and exclusionists so it’s time to change the excuse. The latest rationalization is “we can’t trust the President.”

Speaker John Boehner trotted out this line back in February to excuse Republican intransigence on Comprehensive Immigration Policy reform. [TP]  So, illegal entry is at a 40 year low, and we have more Border Patrol Agents than ever, but now…. There comes a point where the old saw become a truism: Those people who are good at making excuses usually aren’t good at anything else.

The Nevada Representatives from the GOP side are exemplars of the disarray in the Republican Party when it comes to immigration reform.

From Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2): “Amodei, R-Carson City., said he still believes that the House should take up reform that includes a way for many undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship by learning English and American civics, paying back taxes and fines and waiting more than a decade.” [RGJ]  That said, you will not find Rep. Amodei’s name on the discharge petition for H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill.  In short, the Congressman appears to be all for immigration policy reform — except when he isn’t.

Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) pitched his version of an immigration reform bill back in December 2013.  Back home with the zealots he faced the crowd, one member of which said we don’t have a broken immigration system, “We just need to enforce the law.” [WaPo]   Heck’s bill went nowhere, and we don’t see his signature on the discharge petition for H.R. 15 either.  Representatives Titus (D-NV1) and Horsford (D-NV4) have both signed the discharge petition for H.R. 15.

Nothing says disarray like politicians declaring their support for immigration policy reform, in line with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, [TP] [WaPo] while steadfastly refusing to bring the bill to do so to the floor of the House; and, offering one excuse after another to avoid the prospect of a real live vote on the legislation. It’s ironic that the two Democratic Party Representatives in Congress from Nevada are the two supporting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce call for immigration policy reform, while the two Republicans are still in stall mode.

Meanwhile, back in the not-so-family-friendly environment in Honduras, 500 who attempted to reach the U.S. came back as deportees, the reaction from Honduras:

“This is the first time in Honduras we serve such deportation” told the media the first lady, Ana García Hernández; who was present during the arrival of the deportados. For his part, the Executive Director of Private Institutions Coordinator for Girls, Boys, Teens, Youth and Their Rights (COIPRODEN) Wilmer Velasquez explained that the newcomers “show feelings among including impotence, frustration and despair and who traveled to fulfill a dream and returned with nothing.” [Lainfo.Es]

What is Pro-Family? Pro-Life? Or, even Pro-American, about leaving people feeling impotent, frustrated, and full of despair?

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Filed under House of Representatives, Human Rights, Immigration, Politics

DIY: Background and Context for the Crisis of Unaccompanied Children

Central America Map 2The cable “news” coverage of the refugee crisis on our southern border is such that I’ve surfed the channels to find other fare.  I am bored with the Theater Critics — Should the President go to the border? Yes, only if one believes that all the resources required for a presidential visit should be tied up providing security and facilities — while The Problem remains unresolved and staff time and effort is at a premium.   Of course we’re all aware that television broadcasts require pictures.  Therefore, it’s no surprise at all that the cable entertainment industry is clamoring for those Photo-Ops.  Their priority is to provide ‘content’ with pictures, preferably the moving variety, and covering the process by which we attempt to cope with refugees from terrorized areas isn’t full of those Sound and Fury moments beloved by broadcasters.

I am equally bored with the ‘political ramification’ speculation.  “What will this mean for the mid-term elections? Who is to blame? How will this affect the President’s poll numbers?  At this point — Who cares?  We have thousands of families and children from Central America waiting for processing, waiting in rather dismal conditions in emergency housing.  While children are sleeping on cots covered with survival blankets, the DC press pundits are offering endless, breathless, speculation, and the interminable erection of assertions presented as fact, contentions transformed into truth, and context reduced to arguments from authority.

A person could easily come to the horrific conclusion that since politics is about all they know, the pundits and chatterati are simply speaking to the only context they comprehend — everything is political.  To say this is shallow might be comparable to offering that DC Pundit X’s knowledge of the situation in Central America, the vagaries of U.S. foreign policy toward the region in the last 30 years, and the economic complications created by NAFTA and CAFTA, is about an inch up the trunk of a ceiba tree in Guatemala.

So, they chatter. They broadcast dueling talking points. They interview each other.  They offer little more depth than the Sea of Azov.

Little wonder ‘the kids’ aren’t getting their news from television.  Little wonder more people are using Internet searches to find relevant information and contextual analysis.   There are some good resources out there, but it will take some time and effort to find them.  Tired of the shrill sycophants? The shilling talking point distributors? The Made For TV Breathless Broadcasts?  Here are some antidotes to the toxicity, vacuity, or good old fashioned banality of the media:

Recommended Reading

 A good general article from the left perspective comes from Justin Akers-Chacon writing for the San Diego Free Press, in “Central American Children Forced on a Dangerous Journey.”  The author emphasizes the U.S. support for dictatorships and the instability that has created, and takes some shots at the effects of CAFTA on the economies of Central American countries.   An article by James North, writing for the Nation, provides some background information which centers on U.S. foreign policy in Central America.

A more specific essay, focused more intensely on the current situation, is from the Guardian, in an article by Jo Tuckman, “Flee or Die.”  One of the better statistical presentations on the immediate situation comes from Tom K. Wong’s “Statistical Analysis Shows That Violence, Not Deferred Action, Is Behind the Surge of Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border,” for the Center for American Progress.  Brianna Lee’s piece for the International Business Times, “Are Central American Children Refugees or Economic Migrants?” inquires if we are asking the proper questions, and looks at how the questions shape the narratives.  Scarlett Aldebot-Green argues in her article for Foreign Policy that the children are refugees and should be treated as such.  Alan Greenblatt provides a short summary of “What’s Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis,” for NPR.   If you have the patience for the download, HUNC has an executive summary of “Children on the Run,” (pdf) which puts the problem in a more regional perspective.

One of the often cited, and least often thoroughly explained elements,  is the  child trafficking law which requires the processing of children from Central American countries. The New York Times offers a summary explanation, and a bit of the current political sniping about it.  Want to get into the text of the law?  Signed as one of the last acts of the Bush Administration on December 23, 2008, it can be found at the State Department website, and going to Congress.gov will yield information on the original bill, H.R. 7311, in the 110th Congress.  If you want just the text of the law, and no Congressional bells and whistles, search for PL 110-457, and a readable text is available from the Government Printing Office.

There is nothing simple about this issue — no single piece of legislation, nor one bullet point presentation is going to provide a quick and easy answer.  For example, the current situation with unaccompanied children isn’t an enforcement issue — the people who show up at the border stations are turning themselves in.  Nor did the issue begin this month — for all the alarmist tendencies in the press; it’s been going on since last October.   Allegations that the “cause” can be distilled down to rumors offering Central Americans hope for their children have to be tempered with information about the conditions in Central American countries which might in some cases have been part of a family’s decision to send children away from home.

Further complicating the situation is that as the children are being processed individual cases present very individual sets of circumstances — as many as 58% may be eligible for refugee status.   This figure must also be tempered.  As of 2012 only 536 immigrants from Guatemala were granted asylum, 222 were categorized as “defensive asylees,” along with 191 in the same category from El Salvador. [DHS pdf] Further, the refugee ceiling for 2012 was set at 5,500 for Central American and the Caribbean. [DHS pdf]

And, Americans should use every crisis to improve the level of their geographical information, it’s usually wars that teach us where things are.   The Department of State has summary profiles of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  We have a bureau for that too, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.  The State Department also compiles an annual “Trafficking in Persons” report, and editions from 2001 to 2014 are available online.

Getting beyond the basic data, the situation becomes more complicated when we add the State Department’s Travel Warning issued last April 25th concerning El Salvador, which while not dire, isn’t exactly tuned to boost El Salvador on the Bucket List of places to see:

“A majority of serious crimes are never solved; only 6 of the 31 murders committed against U.S. citizens since January 2010 have resulted in convictions.  The Government of El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.  El Salvador’s current criminal conviction rate is five percent.  While several of the PNC’s investigative units have shown great promise, routine street-level patrol techniques, anti-gang, and crime suppression efforts are limited.  Equipment shortages (particularly radios, vehicles, and fuel) further limit their ability to deter or respond to crimes effectively.”

El Salvador isn’t alone, on June 24, 2014 the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Honduras too.

“Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. The Honduran Ministry of Security recorded a homicide rate of 75.6 per 100,000 people in 2013, while the National Violence Observatory, an academic research institution based out of Honduras’ National Public University, reports that the 2013 murder rate was 79 murders per 100,000 people.”

and this:

“Members of the Honduran National Police have been known to engage in criminal activity, including murder and car theft. The government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. In practice, this means police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime, or may not respond at all. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is still in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.”

And, this is putting it diplomatically?

This is by absolutely no means an exhaustive list of what can be found in online sources. However, here’s hoping that the recommended reading and links can help mitigate the wasteland of information that is on offer from the networks.  This is a start. It is only a start.

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Filed under Immigration, media

Immigration Policy and Nevada Poll Numbers

Immigration 2Xenophobia is alive and well in Nevada, and was on display in a brief segment of Representative Mark Amodei’s (R-NV2) “Telephone Town Hall” last month — a caller asked about immigration using the standard talking points (“they’re taking our jobs & they soak up public services”).  Representative Amodei was no more clear at the time than his usual serving of word salad, but he did indicate he’d be supportive of Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) version of the Dream Act.  The problem is that the GOP can no more articulate an immigration policy than Rep. Amodei can explain his positions on any given day.

The GOP appears split between the Security First, Dreamers Second, Maybe Comprehensive Reform Later crowd and the Nothing for Anyone Anytime Xenophobes.  [WaPo] As of October 18th the strategizing looked something like this:

“The overriding idea here is that House GOP leaders such as Cantor and Paul Ryan seem to want to pass something that demonstrates a compassionate interest in fixing immigration. Otherwise, Republicans probably wouldn’t be working on the KIDS Act in the first place. Given the state of the House GOP caucus, Republicans can’t pass anything other than security measures on their own. So if they want to pass something, they’d need Dems. The only thing that could get Dems and a majority of House Republicans (to avoid breaking the Hastert Rule) is the KIDS Act. The rest unfolds from there.”  [WaPo]

And then there was the Shut Down Debacle.

“I know the president has said, well, gee, now this is the time to talk about immigration reform,” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) told TPM. “He ain’t gonna get a willing partner in the House until he actually gets serious about … his plan to deal with the debt.”  [TPM]

Representative Schock must have missed the memo from the Department of the Treasury last April, when it reported the first reduction since 2007:

The U.S. Treasury Department (USGG10YR) projected it will reduce government debt this quarter for the first time in six years as tax receipts exceed forecasts and spending diminishes.

“The pay-down in net marketable debt was estimated at $35 billion in the April-June period, compared with a projection three months ago for net borrowing of $103 billion, the department said in a statement today in Washington. Treasury officials also see net borrowing of $223 billion in the quarter starting July 1. The estimates set the stage for the department’s quarterly refunding announcement on May 1, when debt issuance plans will be released.” [BloombergNews]

However, any excuse will do to avoid a topic which brings with it the possibility of adamant cries of “amnesty,” and other renditions of Tea Party xenophobia from the right wing.   And then, there’s the purely political perspective which was highlighted by Idaho Republican Raul Labrador:

“I think it’d be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with him on immigration,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told reporters on the eve of the GOP’s shutdown surrender. “And I’m a proponent of immigration reform. So I think what he’s done over the last two and a half weeks — he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party. And I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind: which is to try to destroy the Republican Party and not to get good policies.” [TPM]

Meanwhile, H.R. 15, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill sits in the House of Representatives awaiting an assignment to one of a myriad of committees.  The Senate version, S. 744, passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013 with a 68-32 margin is also stalled in the House.

The House Republicans have several options. (1) Enact H.R. 15 and go to conference with the Senate over differences between H.R. 15 and S. 744; (2) Enact their own version of S. 744 and go to conference with the Senate; (3) Continue to play the piece-meal game emphasizing border security, as in H.R. 1417, which has been reported out of committee but has since gone nowhere;  (4) Continue to play the law and order card, as in H.R. 2278 on immigration, also reported from committee but languishing for want of a floor date.  Or, indeed, any combination thereof.

In the midst of this political  morass into which the Republicans have wandered without a road map, there is polling to suggest that support for immigration policy reform is moving well ahead of Nevada’s Republican contingent in the 113th Congress.

If we drill down into the tabs from polling done in Representative Amodei’s district, the xenophobic caller appears to be in a distinct minority:

T4: Thinking now about immigration reform…As you may know, the House of Representatives is beginning to consider different immigration reform proposals. One option is legislation that would significantly increase border security, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants, and make sure that undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. with no criminal record register for legal status. If immigrants were to meet a list of requirements, they could eventually apply for citizenship. Knowing this information, would you support or oppose this legislation?

71.7% supported the legislation, 23% opposed it. Moreover, approximately 70% of Republican respondents supported the measure, 80% of Democrats supported it, and 69% of the self identified independent voters supported the description of comprehensive immigration policy reform. [PDF]

The numbers are similar in the cross tabs of the survey taken in Representative Heck’s district.  74.3% were supportive, 21.2% were opposed. In Heck’s district, 70.5% of Republicans supported the statement, 86% of Democrats were supportive, and 84% of those indicating they were independents supported this description of immigration policy reform. [PDF]

The position taken by hard-liners such as Representative Schock (R-IL) and Representative Labrador (R-ID) obviously presents a problem for incumbents Heck and Amodei.  They represent districts in which there is significant support for comprehensive immigration policy reform, but must be wary of offending the sensibilities of the hard-line xenophobes who are vocal in local party leadership.  And thus the GOP remains stuck between the rock of public opinion and the hard place to which they’ve scrambled for safety.

If they continue to adopt the Do Nothing policy, they will eventually have to answer the question why, when there were at least four bills representing general categories of thought on immigration policy they chose to act on none of them?  If they act on the Dream/Kids Acts without addressing the families from which these youngsters come then they face more bad press.  If they act on H.R. 15 or a House version of S. 744 (comprehensive bills) they may face a backlash from the 20%+ in their party which opposes any immigration policy changes at all.

While the polling numbers indicate the last option may be their best in Nevada’s 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts, the pull of the xenophobic and intransigent Tea Party elements may prove too strong.  The Do Nothing Congress of 1948 managed a 0.228 ratio of bills introduced to bills passed, the 112th Congress could only manage a ratio of 0.082. [BrookingsAEIpdf] The ratio for the 113th could look even worse.

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Immigration, Politics, Republicans

Roundup

Cattle RoundupNevada’s mental health care “system” which seems to garner more really bad press than actually provide services to alleviate suffering, has now earned us a law suit from San Francisco for “patient dumping.” Nevada Progressive has a summary piece that updates the issue, and reviews the background.

Remember when Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) was all a-flutter about Democratic members of Congress using franking privileges to send mail to their constituents?  (2010) Who has spent the most sending mail? Now we discover, in the Nevada Viewwho is the King of Mail? Surprise, surprise… it’s Representative Joe Heck! Who’da thunk it.

Well, here’s a victory for the NRA — Blind and want to carry a firearm in public in Iowa — there’s a permit for that. “I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.” at Crooks and Liars.  What could possibly go wrong?   Interesting posts and pieces on the Colorado recall elections at the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.   Perhaps a lesson to be drawn is: Numbers are nice, but passionate ‘numbers’ are better in off year elections.   Before drawing conclusions, please take a look at “What the Colorado Recall Doesn’t Prove,” MMFA.

The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus notes that there is now less than 40 days  left in this pathetic Congressional session.  Guess what isn’t on the agenda?  Hint: Immigration policy reform.

Speaking of things not directly addressed, The Gavel reports a poll with the following results:

81 percent of men and 93 percent of women said public policy should address workplace challenges such as equal pay, paid sick leave, and paid maternity leave; 87 percent of women and 80 percent of men – including 83 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats – believe paid maternity leave should be required; 31 percent of women think they would be paid more if they were female;  and 20 percent of men agree they would be paid less if they were female.

However, we all know that the real business of the 113th Congress is obstructing the Affordable Care Act.  Now the GOP obstruction is taking the form of “If we can’t defund it…let’s delay it.” Talking Points Memo.   Right! … because the American people might just want things like coverage for mental health care services (see above), coverage for children under their parents’ plans, insurance coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, insurance coverage for women’s health issues, insurance coverage for elderly people for preventative screenings, and the happy notion that at least 80% of insurance premiums collected from policy holders  should be spent on … wait for it… covered medical services.  Oh, and then there’s the marketplace things wherein people who don’t have insurance can select from a variety of private company plans on offer…

And, oops … it turns out that more companies are planning to hire more full time employees as Obamacare rolls out. Think Progress

There is some good news for families on the economic front — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is showing how a little external pressure can spur banks toward more self regulation.   More at the Demos Blog.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada politics, Women's Issues