NDN Blog

Poll Shows Support For ATF Measure To Improve Regulations Which Would Help Stop American Guns From Going To Mexican Drug Cartel

A new poll released yesterday by the bi-partisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows that there is widespread support for giving the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives  (ATF) emergency powers to require gun dealers in border states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California to flag anyone who purchases more then three long guns.

The full poll can be seen here, and the proposed new regulations can be seen here, below is the polling data on tracking guns used by Mexican Drug Dealers:

Question: Do you favor or oppose tracking bulk purchases of assault rifles, which have become the weapon of choice of Mexican drug cartels?

What is significant about this particular poll is that the total population, and the gun owner population both give 80 percent support to tracking the bulk purchases of assault rifles. This is about as close to consensus on an issue as you are going to get.

According to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Obama administration is set to give the ATF the necessary powers to better regulate the flow of American guns into the United States.

More on this as it develops.

Republicans Divided Over How To Handle Undocumented Immigration

The Republican Party currently faces a crucible over how to deal with immigration in the coming Congress and for the foreseeable future. They are pulled in two, by a Tea Party that at best, has shown an almost militaristic disdain of undocumented immigrants and Moderates and the old guard of the Republican party who see no reason to further antagonize an important voting bloc in 2012.

While NDN, has often reported on some of the more outrageous GOP legislative proposals, no one here is under any delusion that the Hispanic community is only strengthened by having both political parties vie for their vote. Which is why the current internal debate within the GOP is so important. No party should ever feel like they have ownership of any constituencies vote.

Having said that, the GOP have a ways to go in healing their caustic stance on some of the most important issues facing Hispanic's.

The dichotomy of the GOP's current stance has never been more on display then over the events of last week.  While former Governor Jeb Bush held  a conference in Florida, to plan a way for the GOP to move forward with outreach to the Hispanic community,  Congressional Republicans planned to wage war with the White House over their opposition to Arizona's anti immigration law SB1070.

Albert R. Blunt of Bloomberg has the full story here:

Thus the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, plans to assail Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. over his opposition to Arizona’s anti-immigration measure and push to enact more punitive laws....  Over the weekend, former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and former Senator Norm Coleman  of Minnesota held a conference to plan more effective Republican outreach to Latino voters. This coincides with plans by new Republican majorities in more than a dozen state capitals for Arizona-type legislation to crack down on undocumented workers.

It certainly seems like one step forward and two steps back for the GOP and Hispanics. The Democratic party is only too happy to point out that while the GOP is taking some perfunctory steps towards healing their relationship with Hispanic's they have a long way to go. Congressman Xavier Becerra for one was not buying it, putting out a press release which listed all of the ways in which Republican's have gone out of their way to alienated the Hispanic community, the full release is here:

  • They destroyed the dreams of educated young Latinos ready to serve in the military or attend college when they blocked the DREAM Act in the Senate.
  • Their political operatives told Latinos “Don’t Vote” in the last election, claiming that was in their best interest.
  • They authored and pushed SB 1070 in Arizona that required racial profiling of Latinos.
  •  They are proposing a law to eliminate birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment for the children of Latino immigrants, chaining them to permanent second-class status.
  • Despite President Obama’s and Democrats’ overtures for a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, they blocked and rejected these efforts to fix our broken immigration system.
  • In the first month of Barack Obama’s presidency, they firmly opposed the extension of health care for millions of legal immigrant children through the SCHIP program.


Obama Administration Ends High-Tech Border Fence

Last week the Obama Administration put an end to a high tech border fence covering only 53 miles of a projected 2,000 miles between the United States and Mexico that was costing American tax payers nearly a billion dollars.

Suzanne Gamboa of The Associated Press has the full story here:

The Obama administration on Friday ended a high-tech border fence project that cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion but did little to improve security. Congress ordered the high-tech fence along the border with Mexico in 2006 amid a clamor over the porous border, but it yielded only 53 miles of protection.

Putting an end to the funding of such a high tech border fence highlights the difficulty of finding a cost effective and successful way of limiting the entrance of undocumented immigrants into the country:

Although it has been well known that the virtual fence project would be dumped, Napolitano officially informed key members of Congress Friday that an "independent, quantitative, science-based review made clear" the fence, known as SBInet, "cannot meet its original objective of providing a single, integrated border security technology solution."

While the high tech nature of the fence was initially a selling point, after tests revealed that at 15 million dollars a mile, the fence was too expensive to implement fully:

The fence, initiated in 2005, was to be a network of cameras, ground sensors and radars that would be used to spot incursions or problems and decide where to deploy Border Patrol agents. It was supposed to be keeping watch over most of this nation's southern border with Mexico by this year.  Instead, taxpayers ended up with about 53 miles of operational "virtual fence" in Arizona for a cost of at least $15 million a mile, according to testimony in previous congressional hearings.

All of this speaks to the problem that legislators run into when working towards the nebulous concept of securing the border, without moving forward on dealing with businesses that hire undocumented immigrants and the current number of immigrants who live in the United States, or working together on a federally passed overhaul of our immigration system then the result will continue to be the continued flow of undocumented labor into the country. 

It is somewhat ironic that the state that has the stretch of operational virtual border fence is Arizona. Arizona, more so then any other state in America has gone out of its way to pass more punitive anti immigration enforcement laws than any other state, and now has a stretch of the most highly advanced border technology in the world, and to hear the Republican controlled state legislator tell it Arizona is still considered a "porous" border.

At what point, at what amount of money do legislators need to spend on enforcement only before they realize that all the technology, all of the draconian enforcement laws passed in the world will not stop people from coming over, without moving on a federal overhaul of immigration laws.

Congressman Elton Gallegly To Take Over As Chairman Of House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement

In a surprise move GOP House Leadership announced this week that immigration hard liner Representative Steve King of Iowa would not be the new Chairman of the subcommittee on immigration policy and enforcement but had appointed Representative Elton Gallegly of California to the committee post.

While Gallegly is not as well known on immigration issues, he is of a similar disposition as King, just not as outspoken. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has released a helpful face sheet on him here:

Some highlights are below:

Legislative History

In 1995 he chaired the Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform which set the groundwork for IIRIRA in 1996. Additionally, he sponsored an amendment to IIRIRA that would have allowed states to bar illegal immigrants from attending public schools Gallegly recommended the Basic Pilot Program, which has evolved into E-Verify.

  • In 2006, Gallegly was recognized as one of the Top Ten Illegal Immigration Hawks in Congress by Human Events Magazine and inducted into the U.S. Border Control Hall of Fame.
  • During the opening weeks of the 112th Congress, Gallegly has cosponsored legislation to: Require the creation and use of electronically readable Social Security cards and an employment eligibility database within the next two years (H.R. 98).

Legislative Interests:

  • Repeal Birthright Citizenship
  • Mandate the use of E-Verify
  • Limit legal immigration by eliminating visas for unskilled workers, two family preferences categories, and the Diversity Visa program.
  • Require proof of citizenship to receive public benefits such as SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan 
  • Make English the official language of the United States

It is safe to say that while he is not as vocal as King, they share similar views on undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Stay tuned, for what is sure to be an interesting upcoming Congressional session.

Tampering With Citizenship The Process And The Perils Of Changing The 14th Amendment

The Los Angeles Times has a great Editorial up on the process and perils of tampering with the 14th Amendment, up here:

What the article does exceptionally well is outline the process of  actually changing the 14th Amendment, and why it is so difficult for states to actually change who is and is not a citizen. In particular it does an excellent job of outlining the specific contours of the 14th Amendment in regard to citizenship:

The [14] amendment, ratified after the Civil War, says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." The natural reading of that language is that it covers any person born in the United States, who by definition is subject to American law. But the legislators opposed to so-called birthright citizenship offer a different interpretation of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." They argue that a child is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States unless he or she has "at least one parent who owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty, or [is] a child without citizenship or nationality in any foreign country.

The Editorial also does an excellent job of outlining the State Legislators plan:

The legislators lack the authority to change the definition of citizenship, something they hope Congress will do. But they hope to lay the groundwork for a two-tiered system with two proposals based on the idea that birthright citizenship is invalid.  One would confer what's known as "state citizenship" on people with at least one parent who is a citizen or permanent legal resident, while denying it to children with two parents who are illegal immigrants. The other would create a compact in which participating states would issue two kinds of birth certificates, one for children who meet those criteria and another for children "not born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States," in effect creating a caste system.

And finally why the concept of State Citizenship is impossible to reconcile with already existing federal laws:

The legislators' definition of citizenship is impossible to reconcile with Supreme Court precedent. In 1898, the court, interpreting the 14th Amendment in light of common law, ruled that the American-born child of noncitizen Chinese immigrants was entitled to citizenship. It rested its decision on the "fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory." The only exceptions, the court said, were "children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or [those] born on foreign public ships, or [children] of enemies within and during a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and … children of members of the Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes."

Arizona: Ban On Ethnic Studies Heats Up

Arizona, no stranger to controversy is currently enmeshed in yet another battle related to race, this time however it is an education related issue.

Arizona's Attorney General, Tom Horne has signed legislation, which effectively outlaws the teaching of ethnic studies classes state wide. The way that the law works is any school that teaches ethnic studies can expect to be denied 10% funding for the coming year.

According to a New York Times report by Marc Lacey the state has yet to deny funding to schools who are teaching, Black, Asian and American Indian, but is threatening the Tucson Unified School District if it does not stop its Mexican American Studies program. The  full story can be read here:

The class began with a Mayan-inspired chant and a vigorous round of coordinated hand clapping. The classroom walls featured protest signs, including one that said “United Together in La Lucha!” — the struggle.  Although open to any student at Tucson High Magnet School, nearly all of those attending Curtis Acosta’s Latino literature class on a recent morning were Mexican-American.

For all of that and more, Mr. Acosta’s class and others in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American program have been declared illegal by the State of Arizona —  even while similar programs for black, Asian and American Indian students have been left untouched.

In a bizarre turn, the State Attorney General Tom Horne is accusing teachers of Mexican American studies as racist:

Asked whether he felt he was being likened to Bull Connor, the Alabama police commissioner who became a symbol of bigotry in the 1960s, Mr. Horne described how he had participated in the March on Washington in 1963 as a young high school graduate. He said of his critics: “They are the ‘Bull Connors.’ They are the ones resegregating.”

According to the article, the Tucson Unified School District stands to lose quite a bit of money if it is found not to be in compliance with the law:

The battle means that Tucson, a struggling urban district, stands to lose nearly $15 million in an already difficult budget environment.  So far, the school board has stood by the program, declaring that it considers it to be in compliance with the law.

In a time when Arizona is in headlines for all manner of horrible things, the state budget a mess, going after children in schools seems a bit... of a waste of time, Augustine F. Romero Director of student equity in Tucson puts it best.

The debate over the program’s future, Mr. Romero said, proves more than ever the need for the program. “There’s a fierce anti-Latino sentiment in this state,” he said. “These courses are about justice and equity, and what is happening is that the Legislature is trying to narrow the reality of those things.“Who are the true Americans here — those embracing our inalienable rights or those trying to diminish them?”

Florida and The Paradox of State Passed Immigration Laws

Florida is one of the states that is thinking of passing an Arizona like anti-immigration bill, it is also a state that is revealing extreme anxiety about utilizing E-Verify a Department of Homeland Security program that is used to audit employers who may be using undocumented immigrants.

During Florida Governor Rick Scott's run for office last year he pledged to pass more state based immigration laws. Sure enough upon taking office he signed an executive order requiring  that the state verify all new hires eligibility to work in the United States using E-Verify. Today, even those who supported the Governor's executive order are finding mandatory use of E-Verify untenable.  Travis Pillow of the Florida Independent has more here:

"On Monday, during the first of three informational meetings on immigration, state senators — including some who support the use of the program, which is offered to employers by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — expressed frustration with some of the system’s limitations. State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, wanted to know why it couldn’t detect some forms of identity theft — one of E-Verify’s key weaknesses.

If five people are using the same false name and Social Security number, he pointed out, the federal government could collect revenue on all of them, but would only wind up making Social Security payments to one of them."

E-Verify tends to identify people incorrectly, which is to say it identifies people who are citizens as not being citizens and sometimes fails to identify identity theft among those in the country illegally. However it is still a tool which states can use to identify who is eligible for employment in their states legally.

This is not an endorsement of E-Verify per se, but certainly working with DHS to reform this process makes more sense than say, trying to amend the 14th amendment...

The real paradox about States clamoring to pass their own immigrations laws is that when states are required to utilize existing federal immigration programs to crack down on employers there is almost always a push back from the business community.  Florida is no different, to wit:

“I think it’s a bogus deal,” responded Alan Hays, R-Umatilla. “Tell me what good is the thing, anyhow?” he added. “If I’ve got to hire the man before I can use your system, then your system does no good to tell me whether I should hire him or not. Your system just tells me whether I should fire him or not.”

This is a valid argument against the program, but instead of trying to find a way to change the 14th Amendment, shouldn’t state legislators be trying to find a better way to figure out who is working in their local businesses?

Arizona Sherriff Clarence Dupnik On Tolerance At News Conference On Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

While traditionally this is a blog about immigration, in the wake of the terrible acts of violence over the weekend we at NDN present a portion of Arizona Sherriff Clarence Dupniks press conference on the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In it he makes a passionate plea for tolerance in these troubled times.

We present this without comment:


LA TIMES: More Can Be Done To Curb American Guns Going Across Border

NDN has written about how the increase in violence on the Mexican side of the border has correlated directly to the increase in the flow of American guns across said border.

The Los Angeles Times recently wrote an editorial that contextualizes just how impactful the flow of guns into Mexico is in the Drug war that is enveloping that country. The editorial correctly points out that Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the western hemisphere and their is no reason that the United States not require stricter restrictions on border state gun dealers who sell more then three high powered assault rifles:

“Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the hemisphere. Citizens are permitted to buy low-caliber firearms for self-protection or hunting, but only after a background check and approval by the defense ministry; they must also purchase the guns directly from the ministry. The goal of this parsimonious approach to allotting firearms is a society free from gun violence. Unfortunately for Mexico, however, its weapons management strategy is sabotaged by an accident of location — its residence next door to the gun capital of the world.”

The conceptualization of the United States as the gun capitol of the world is an important one when contextualizing just how relatively easy it is to get guns here as opposed to the difficulty Latin American countries face in their states:

“The United States is awash in guns. Americans own an estimated 283 million guns, and 4.5 million new ones, including 2 million handguns, are sold each year, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nor are these weapons confined to U.S. borders and households. Officials say that they are pouring south into Mexico, into the hands of violent drug cartels.”

According to the editorial the ATF has asked President Obama for permission to require states along the border to require gun dealerships to report purchases of multiple high powered rifles.

This is a pretty common sense approach to limiting the flow of guns across the border or at the very least tracking the movement of guns from the United States to DRUG DEALERS…. This is the sort of practical application of federal and state laws that people concerned about border security should advocate for, or as the editorial puts in starker terms.

“The regulation would not prohibit sales, purchases or ownership. Also, tracing is conducted only after a crime has been committed, not before. One objection that cannot be dismissed is that the new rule would create more paperwork for some border-adjacent gun retailers. No business likes new red tape from Washington, but with the national security of two countries involved, the trade-off is worth the inconvenience.”

GOP Assault on 14th Amendment Little More Than Political Gamesmanship

It would seem that Republican lawmakers where just getting started on their assault of the 14th Amendment and the children of immigrants.

While GOP state legislators were introducing plans to target the children of immigrants, the incoming chairman of the House subcommittee on immigration Peter King (also a Republican) introduced H.R. 140,  The Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011.

King in a press release commented:

“The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of ‘Anchor Babies’ every year arises from the misapplication of the Constitution’s citizenship clause and creates an incentive for illegal aliens to cross our border. The ‘Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011’ ends this practice by making it clear that a child born in the United States to illegal alien parents does not meet the standard for birthright citizenship already established by the Constitution. Passage of this bill will ensure that immigration law breakers are not rewarded, will close the door to future waves of extended family chain migration, and will help to bring an end to the global ‘birth tourism’ industry.”

There is much wrong with the above statement…  However, in the name of time and space let's look at this from a macro level.

In a time when states are going bankrupt, Republican members at both state and Congressional levels have decided that the best use of their time is, not to tackle economic problems facing the country but rather to introduce legislation which will set up a debate about the interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Not actually engage in any real discussion's or plans for reform of our broken immigration system or the economy.

Mind you, this debate will most likely result in lengthy legal battles which, best case scenario (for those who want to change the 14th Amendment) would result in some 2-3 years from now the Supreme Court re-interpreting the Constitution.

The problem with all of this is that at a basic practical level, even if states and Congressional GOP members are able to change the 14th Amendment, they have no actual plan on how to enforce this law.

Yesterday at a press conference unveiling the state version of the law, members of the group where visibly confused when asked how if passed a law revoking birthright citizenship would actually be enforced.

Their confusion was based on the idea that the laws would ever actually be enforced. Some members actually came out and said that they were skeptical, that even if states passed the law it could ever be enforced as it would result in immediate legal action. This begs the question, if GOP legislators are so skeptical about actually having to enforce this law on the state level, what do they actually intend to do with this legislation?

To these eyes, this is another case of base baiting, of political gamesmanship that has very little to do with actually reforming the immigration system. From a policy stand point it is hard to discuss the merits of this plan as it seems that the very virtue of its existence is political.

The problem with the GOP assault on the 14th Amendment, is that despite its political nature it has very real dangers of passing in individual states. Given the presentation by GOP members yesterday one has to wonder if they even know what will happen if they succeed. Even the state legislators who are pushing for a fight on the 14th Amendment where not altogether comfortable with passing laws in which they would be prosecuting small children.

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