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Weekly Immigration Update: Hate Crimes, Sotomayor, 9500 Liberty Trailer, and the Current State of the GOP
1. This week: Congratulations to the Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Bill.
2. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings and all the discussion surrounding this “wise Latina” led to a great deal of political theatre on the part of Republican Senators. We have more on that, and on what’s coming up next.
Judge Sotomayor was asked about immigration briefly during the hearings as Senator Durbin asked her to comment on how changes in the immigration courts have affected federal courts.
Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent…
…Southern senators who relate every question to race, ethnicity and gender just assumed that their unreconstructed obsessions are America’s and that the country would find them riveting. Instead the country yawned. The Sotomayor questioners also assumed a Hispanic woman, simply for being a Hispanic woman, could be portrayed as The Other and patronized like a greenhorn unfamiliar with How We Do Things Around Here. The senators seemed to have no idea they were describing themselves when they tried to caricature Sotomayor as an overemotional, biased ideologue…
…When Tom Coburn of Oklahoma merrily joked to Sotomayor that “You’ll have lots of ’splainin’ to do,” it clearly didn’t occur to him that such mindless condescension helps explain why the fastest-growing demographic group in the nation is bolting his party.
Click here for NDN's analysis of the State of the Modern GOP.
3. Local enforcement of Federal Immigration Law
9500 Liberty Trailer released - Just a few miles from Washington, D.C (and many miles from the Mexican border), Prince William County, VA became ground zero of local law enforcement of immigration laws, and an example of how these policies divided a community. On the one hand, we saw a xenophobic County Council Chairman and a group of residents attacking anyone who "looked" foreign, and on the other hand we had a County Police Chief and county residents who warned us of the impact such divisive and ineffective policies could have. To take us through the journey of local politics, racial profiling, and two communities up in arms, filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler have completed a documentary entitled 9500 Liberty. Check out the trailer of the film here. As writer John Grisham stated, "9500 Liberty makes it clear that when we, as a nation of immigrants, debate the immigration issue, we are defining our very identity as Americans."
Enforcement does not equal Rule of Law – As long as the federal government does not fix the very broken federal immigration and nationality act, localities will continue to take matters into their own hands, as demonstrated by this lawyer, who seems to be making a bundle from state and local governments under the auspicies of fighting “illegals.” Is this the best use of your taxpayer dollars?
Mr. Kobach is on a dogged campaign to fight illegal immigration at the local level, riding an insurgency by cities and states fed up with what they see as federal failures on immigration. As these local governments have taken on enforcement roles once reserved for the federal government, he is emerging as their leading legal advocate…
And with the Obama administration indicating that it will put off an overhaul of immigration until late this year or beyond, the courtroom campaign for tougher rules is likely to expand as cities and states remain the main battleground for shaping immigration policy.
…Lawyers who have confronted Mr. Kobach in court say the cases he pursues would cover the country in a patchwork of local immigration rules that are contrary to federal law and costly to defend.
“These laws divide communities, stereotype Latinos, burden businesses and trigger needless and expensive litigation,“ said Lucas Guttentag, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.
…Mr. Kobach lost a suit against Kansas to block a statute allowing illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates in public colleges. But he won a similar case in California; it is now before that state’s highest court. And he helped Arizona defend a statute that cancels the business licenses of employers who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants; it was upheld by the federal courts.
Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, praised Mr. Kobach for empowering local governments by helping his city craft “a masterful ordinance that at the end of the day will have a great effect on this country of eliminating illegal immigrants.”
The recently elected mayor of Valley Park, Grant Young, was more guarded, noting that the town of 6,500 had paid some $270,000 in legal fees.
4. Speaking of Enforcement – Check out this Sunday’s Op-ed by Lee Hockstader in the Washington Post, “Immigration’s Sideshow.”
5. Anti-immigrant Campaigns Don’t Pay – Famously anti-immigrant Sen. Ensign falls eight more points in the polls. No silver bullet there.