Immigration Politics & Elections in 2008
Last Saturday, Democrat Bill Foster defeated Republican Jim Oberweis in a special election to replace former and retiring Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Oberweis, an anti-immigrant nativist, by all accounts should have won given the fact that this particular district in suburban and rural Illinois trends Republican. The defeat marked an embarrasing loss for Republicans. For commentary on the race go to http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/10/oberweis-immigration/. A summary of recent positions taken by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates can be viewed on DailyKos at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/3/4/103149/5143/334/468521.
Last week, Republicans in the House and Senate announced a full court press on several anti-immigrant enforcement measures in both chambers of Congress. In the House of Representatives, Republican sponsors of the SAVE Act have begun to circulate a discharge petition in an effort to gather enough signatures to force a vote on the SAVE Act on the House Floor. Only a simple majority is required to trigger the discharge petition. At least a handful of Democrats are likely to sign the petition. In the Senate, a coalition of Republican Senators is planning to introduce a series of anti-immigrant bills to try to raise the temperature on immigration in the Senate. The list of bills follows, but it’s not complete. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
· S. 2710, sponsored by Senator Sessions, authorizes Homeland Security to use an employer’s failure to resolve a “no match” notice as evidence that the employer knowingly hired an illegal alien in violation of federal law (INA §274A(a));
· S. 2711, sponsored by Senator Sessions, requires employers to use E-Verify and raises the penalties on employers who hire illegal aliens;
· S. 2712, sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), mandates that Homeland Security complete the 700 miles of fence required by the Secure Fence Act by 2010;
· S. 2713, sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), prohibits federal community policing funds from being distributed to states and municipalities with sanctuary policies;
· S. 2716, sponsored by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), authorizes the National Guard to continue guarding the border;
· S. 2717, sponsored by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), expands the participation of state and local officials in the enforcement of immigration laws through the 287(g) program;
· S. 2720, sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), denies financial aid to countries and prohibits the issuance of visas to nationals of countries that unreasonably delay or deny repatriation of those ordered removed by the U.S.;
· S. 2721, sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), modifies the U.S. citizenship examination; and
· S. 2722, sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), prohibits aliens who are repeat drunk drivers from receiving legal status or immigration benefits.
State & Local News
This week, NPR ran the following story on Sheriff Joseph Arpaio of Maricopa County whose reign of terror against immigrants has gotten him a lot of press and has only added to his controversial image in Arizona politics: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88002493. In New Haven, CT public officials have reinforced their decision to not disclose the list of individuals who hold municipal ID cards. This is in response to a tactic by anti-immigrant activists to access the list through a Freedom of Information Act request. http://www.nhregister.com/WebApp/appmanager/JRC/BigDaily;jsessionid=JRSdHTfKb3rGXQlXml1XfXMLTNGRdCTZ27yVBQWPXJFLvfRMCpnB!-1410432021?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FNHR%2FHome&r21.content=%2FNHR%2FHome%2FTopStoryList_Story_1683982.
A judge ruled last week that the federal government violated federal laws in their rush to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. To review the actual ruling please go to http://www.nnirr.org/resources/docs/EloisaTamezCase3-7-08-Order.pdf. This is the most recent in a series of setbacks and mistakes by the Department of Homeland Security in their misguided efforts along the US border with Mexico. In another court case represented by the Center for Constitutional Law and Human Rights, a border patrol agent on trial for murder was given a reprieve when the jury deadlocked and was unable to come up with a verdict. Eye witness accounts and testimony from the defendant were completely contradictory. Decision on a retrial is pending. For coverage: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/110827
FIRM Member Activities
Hate Free Zone, a FIRM-member from Washington State recently developed some materials for presentations for non-immigrant and/or potential allied organizations, including an attached Myths and Facts document and a powerpoint presentation. In the powerpoint presentation, participants in the sessions were asked to write down and submit questions they had about immigration, which accounts for the first few pages of the presentation. For more information, please contact Shankar Narayan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) in Florida is organizing to defend one of their own who last week faced a court date and potential deportation. Gaby Pacheco, who has been a leader in student government in Florida and a leader in FIRM at numerous events, is arguing in her defense that ICE acted selectively when they chose to single her out for speaking out on behalf of herself and students and other immigrants in similar positions. For more information, please contact Jose Luis Marantes at email@example.com.
On March 1st, the Graham Memorial Community Church in Denver (led by Rev. Patrick Demmer who spoke at the FIRM Summit Press Conference) and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) convened an ethnic diversity prayer breakfast, “Black, Brown and Beyond: Tearing Down Walls and Building Bridges.” Over 75 people attended from the African American and Latino community and the diverse program speakers challenged participants to unite across lines of race for the common cause of justice and not to allow anti-immigrant groups to wedge communities against one another. For more information on event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allies and Partner Activities
Farmworker Justice, which has been at the forefront for the push for worker rights for farmworkers, recently launched a new interactive web site and blog called Harvesting Justice: http://www.harvestingjustice.org/. The Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday issued a report “The Year in Hate” that details the growing number of hate organizations across the United States, many emerging out of the anti-immigrant movement. To view the report go to http://www.splcenter.org/index.jsp. For coverage of the report on ABC News go to http://www.abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=4421921&page=1.
On April 12-14, National People’s Action will hold a nationa conference and training in Washington, DC bringing together a diverse group of more than 600 grassroots leaders from across the country working together on a wide range of issues, from housing foreclosure to immigration. www.npa2008.org
News to Use
The National Immigration Law Center recently released new fact sheets on the REAL ID Act and drivers licenses policies in the states. To view these materials please go to http://www.nilc.org/immspbs/DLs/resrc_guide/index.htm. The Immigration Policy Center recently launched a new web site that brings together fact sheets and other useful data for immigrant advocates to use at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/index.php?content=onpoint. The three top articles include: Why Don’t They Just Get in Line?, Immigration as a Wedge Issue, and Basic Pilot/E-Verify: Not a Magic Bullet.