Much of the initial coverage on the Arizona's Legal Workers Act, Supereme Court Case focused on the strange bedfellows created to defend the legislation. Now as the Supreme Court approaches its verdict many are saying that they will uphold the immigration law which requires local prosecutors to investigate complaints about undocumented immigrant workers, then to file suit in state court to suspend employers business licenses
Ashby Jones of The Wall Street Journal has the full story HERE:
....heading out of the argument, the story has shifted to the case’s probable outcome: that the law would survive the constitutional challenge. According to Bravin, several justices on Wednesday rejected claims that the state exceeded the limited powers Congress left it to enforce immigration policies. Click here for Bravin’s story; here for commentary from Scotusblog’s Lyle Denniston.
Those challenging the Arizona law cite previous federal immigration laws as establishing domain over this particular area of legislation:
Those challenging the law say the Arizona measure violates the 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, whereby federal regulations supersede any “state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws).” But that argument got little traction. “You read the definition of ‘license’ in the Administrative Procedure Act and this is awfully close,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. Chief Justice John Roberts said Congress provided states additional “wiggle room” by writing “not just ‘licensing laws,’ but ‘licensing and similar laws.”‘
There are two wild cards in all this, the first being Justice Scalia who has suddenly become an immigration expert (read seething sarcasm here):
Furthermore, Justice Antonin Scalia said that whatever Congress had in mind when adopting the 1986 law, current conditions along the border could justify the harsh sanctions Arizona adopted in 2007. Border states are in “serious trouble financially and for other reasons because of unrestrained immigration,” he said, and wouldn’t “have to resort to such massive measures” if federal immigration law “had been vigorously enforced.”
The other issue is Elena Kagen who has removed herself from the process, because she was actively involved in the earlier stages of the Obama administrations case against the law. Absent her vote, the justices could split 4-4 on this legislation which would leave the law intact but would not create a precedent one way or the other over federal domain on immigration issues.
The DREAM Act failed on a motion to proceed on a mostly partisan vote 55 to 41 in the Senate on Saturday. Nearly all of the Senate GOP voted against the DREAM Act. Only 3 crossed over to vote for this bipartisan legislation.
With the White Hosue and Immigration advocates in feverish negotiations right until the hour of the vote, there was some question as too whether or not Senate GOP would vote at all on the legislation.
Senators Bennett of Utah, Lugar of Indiana, and Murkowski of Alaska all crossed party lines and voted on this legislation. These three brave Republicans should receive some measure of thanks for doing so. A full break out of the Senate vote can be seen over at the Washington PostHERE
Julia Preston of the New York Times has a great analysis of what went on Saturday HERE:
The vote by the Senate on Saturday to block a bill to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students was a painful setback to an emerging movement of immigrants...
Preston does a great job of also contextualizing how this vote plays out politically:
The result, although not unexpected, was still a rebuff to President Obama by newly empowered Republicans in Congress on an issue he has called one of his priorities. Supporters believed that the bill — tailored to benefit only immigrants who were brought here illegally when they were children and hoped to attend college or enlist in the military — was the easiest piece to pass out of a larger overhaul of immigration laws that Mr. Obama supports.
The DREAM Act was considered the easiest piece of comprehensive immigration reform because it is legislation that Republicans have long supported. Some long term Republican supporters turned their backs on the legislation this past weekend. Below are some of the biggest offenders:
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “"With regard to the DREAM Act, a lot of these kids are brought in as infants. They don't even know that they're not citizens until they graduate from high school," Hatch said. "If they've lived good lives, if they've done good things, why would we penalize them and not let them at least go to school?" [KSL Radio, 7/7/10]
Senator Hutchison (R-TX): “This is such an important piece of legislation and I do think this is isolated from the entire immigration issue because there ... are young people who have been brought to this country as minors, not of their own doing, who have gone to American high schools, graduated, and who want to go to American colleges.” [San Antonio Express News, 12/2/10]
Even some GOP talking heads were left shaking their heads on how Senate Republicans could block such common sense legislation. Think Progress did a great round up here:
NEWARK, NJ MAYOR CORY BOOKER: To tell people who’ve been through high school, high school presidents going on to college some of the best brains who have no relation to their home country. This is crazy. It’s hurting America.
GOP STRATEGIST MARK MCKINNON: The Republican Party has got to recognize Hispanics are the huge growing demographic in this country. … We gotta send the right signal to Hispanics in this country in addition to the fact that it’s the right policy.
FOX NEWS’ JUAN WILLIAMS: The one thing that I regret…is the defeat of the DREAM Act for the immigrants and the immigrant kids. I just think, again, Republicans play politics with real lives, real people, real aspirations and they leave the immigration issue on the table when that’s the real business of the American people.
Last night Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that there would be a vote on the DREAM Act this Saturday. This is not a vote on final passage of the legislation, this is a vote on the motion to proceed to a final vote on the legislation. The full press release can be seen here:
Senator Reid proceeded to file cloture on the DREAM Act and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The first vote on cloture on the DREAM act will occur Saturday morning.
“In addition, I filed cloture on two important bills tonight. We will soon vote on a bill that provides young people brought here by their parents with a path to citizenship through academic achievement or military service. After that, we will vote to determine whether we follow the advice of our military leadership and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
So, just to break down what all of this means for a vote, below is a step by step guide to what the process going forward will look like:
1. Last night Senator Reid filed a cloture motion on the DREAM Act, which starts a 30 hour timer before an actual vote can occur.
2. The 30 hours behind the cloture motion ends Saturday, which means that the Senate can vote on the motion to proceed to the DREAM Act.
3. On Cloture votes, the Senate needs 3/5ths of the vote to proceed forward. That means in order to move on to a vote on the actual 60 Senators need to vote to move forward. An absent Senator, or a Senator who does not vote one way or the other, counts as NO vote.
4. If the DREAM Act fails to gain 60 votes then the motion to proceed to an actual vote on DREAM will fail. That will be it.
If there are 60 votes, the Senate will then have to burn 30 hours will before they can have a final vote on DREAM.
5. On the vote for final passage only 51 votes are needed. If DREAM gets 51 Votes, then it is passed in both chambers of Congress and will move to the President for his signature and will then be law.
The committee was created By Presidents Barack Obama and Felipe Calderon in May. Mexico has expressed concern about the deaths of migrants during recent incidents involving U.S. Border Patrol officers, and the two countries agreed on the need to "minimize the need for United States and Mexican federal law enforcement officers to resort to lethal force."
A commission between America and Mexico, indicates that despite the rhetorical hyperventilation of Republican Lamar Smith, the border is not an out of control war zone. This is a straw man argument, in which the GOP is able to continually move the goal post on progress on the border and legislative movement in Congress. As it turns out the increase in enforcement has begun to affect the number of migrants coming from Mexico
The issue of migrants and how they are treated remains a sensitive subject in Mexico, even as their overall number of migrants moving across the border drops. The number of Mexicans deported or repatriated by the United States dropped 23.2 percent in the first 10 months of 2010 as compared to the same period of the previous year, Mexico's Interior department reported Wednesday. A total of 410,442 people were returned to Mexico.Of those, 23,359 agreed to be flown to Mexico City and transported to their hometowns, rather than simply being expelled over the border. That annual program was in effect from June 1 to Sept. 28.
Much of what was discussed over the course of the meeting was a way to increase co-operation on both sides of the border to mitigate sporadic cases of violence:
They also agreed on "patrolling on either side of the border ... to prevent and adequately respond to crime and violence, including incidents of rock-throwing, incursions, port runners, (and) assaults on law enforcement personnel." U.S. authorities say they sometimes are assaulted by migrant and drug traffickers and must defend themselves.
As it turns out the Mexican government is concerned with the United States increased security measures and lack of due process when dealing with Migrants from Latin America:
Mexico was angered in June, when a Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 15-year-old Mexican youth as officers came under a barrage of big stones while trying to detain illegal immigrants on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande.In May, Mexican migrant Anastasio Hernandez, 32, died after a Customs and Border Protection officer shocked him with a stun gun at the San Ysidro border crossing that separates San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. The San Diego medical examiner's office ruled that death a homicide.
The United States also aired grievances relating to the recent death of Border Patrol agent in Arizona. However all of this has led to a renewed sense of commitment between the two countries. While the border was discussed there was movement on other issues. In fact, during the meeting the U.S. and Mexico actually talked about things other than border violence, focusing on trade, and labor movement between the two countries.
The statement also pledged support for various projects aimed at improving ports-of-entry and border crossings in several states, and "expand trusted traveler and shipment programs by facilitating enrollment and making them more advantageous and easy to use." It also supported the establishment of pilot projects for cargo pre-clearance in both countries.
These meetings are incredibly important, as Congress makes no forward movement on actual reform, country to country negotiations on trade will become increasingly necessary to deal with issues of migration, trade issues, and labor. If anyone is interested, a read out of exactly what was discussed in the meeting can be seen here, and a joint statment on the meetings can be read here as well.
Let's start this post by acknowledging the life and service of recently deceased Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, his recent death in the line of duty is a tragedy.
However having read some of the early reporting done on this has proven to be frustrating as some commentators have tried to conflate agent Terry's death with the current debate on the DREAM Act in congress.
It is necessary to highlight this particular disconnect because opponents of immigration reform have become so skilled at putting border security and pretty much any other legislation that tries to address immigration reform at odds.
It can not be said enough, border security is a component, an important one for reform, there are others, including figuring out what to do with the current 11 million people currently here. It is not impossible to do more then one at a time.
A Border Patrol agent was shot and killed Tuesday night near Rio Rico after encountering several suspects, federal authorities said Wednesday. Agent Brian Terry was killed just 10 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, north of Nogales. Four suspects are in custody and one is being pursued, according to a press release from Customs and Border Protection. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.
The above quote accurately presents all of the current information provided by Department of Homeland Security regarding the circumstances of Agent Terry's death. It is her next sentence that is egregious:
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats continue to push the pro-amnesty DREAM Act and security-undermining environmental land grabs. Priorities…
As someone who follows Immigration issues, and the DREAM Act in particular on a daily basis, the connection between the current legislation before the Senate and the death of a border patrol agent is baffling. These two issues have nothing to do with each other. For one thing the citizenship of the four suspects is not currently known. A fact corroborated by Fox News article on the shooting:
Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was killed late Tuesday near Rio Rico, Ariz., according to a statement released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. At least four suspects are in custody and another is still being pursued.
The leader of a union representing Border Patrol agents said Terry was trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants for robbery.
In the Fox News reporting of the events that led to Agent Terry's death, it would seem that what most likely happened was that he was killed trying to protect immigrants from "bandits" who target undocumented immigrants crossing the desert.
In case Malkin neglected to read anything written about the DREAM Act, it only affects children born to undocumented immigrants in the United States who want to serve in the military or go to college. In no place within this legislation is there a provision to award "bandits" citizenship....
It is unfortunate what happened in Arizona, but it is irresponsible for anyone to conflate this act of violence with the current debate over the DREAM Act. It is entirely possible to secure the border and pass the DREAM Act. As they are both components of broad reform of our immigration system. Border security is a part of that and so is dealing with the current 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in America.
Linda Chavez, a long time conservative commentator has released a great editorial on the DREAM Act today. Her piece The DREAM and The Nightmare is critical of Democrats for bringing up what she calls a purely political vote but she saves her most withering tongue lashing for the GOP:
Republicans may, nonetheless, be walking right into their trap. For all the loose talk of "amnesty" in the immigration debate, proposals to grant a path to legalization for adult immigrants who entered or remained in the United State illegally were never true amnesty. The Bush plan included hefty fines for all transgressors -- which, by definition, is not amnesty -- as well as requiring them to pay back taxes, undergo criminal checks, learn English, and go to the back of the citizenship line. As conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin notes, the definition of amnesty is to "exempt from punishment."
Chavez is especially critical of GOP Senators who would deny undocumented students the ability to contribute to society, tying the success of these young DREAMers to the future of Republican party:
Do Republicans really want to tell young people who've lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English, and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield for the protection of all Americans: "We don't want you"? What are the alternatives -- let them continue to live in the shadows or deport them? Not even the most aggressively anti-immigration groups are calling for the latter. A number of Republicans who previously supported the legislation -- including one of its chief authors, Sen. Orrin Hatch -- have decided it is too risky to vote for it now. But the real risk is to the future of the Republican Party.
She also ties the rise of hard line anti-immigration stances of the GOP to their electoral losses in Senate races in 2010, as well as how it may affect them in 2012:
The refusal of all but a tiny handful of Republicans to vote for the Dream Act will become a future nightmare. Hard-line anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric has already cost Republicans at least two U.S. Senate seats, Nevada and Colorado, even in a GOP landslide election. It could well cost Republicans the White House in 2012 -- the Democrats are betting on it.
With a DREAM Act vote expected at the end of the week in the Senate, negotiations continue to rage with hope that after some procedural maneuvering there could be a vote this Friday on final passage.
In the mean time John Creighton of the Washington Times has written an article on the DREAM Act for his column "Dispatches From The Homeland", this article is worth reading because it highlights who is eligible for the DREAM Act and what the process is for recieving benefits from this legislation. The article also clears up a large misconception about the DREAM Act: the actual level of eligibility for social services for current undocumented immigrants, and those who actually become legal permanent residents:
“We can’t get Medicaid,” asserted a young man. “That’s impossible without a Social Security number. We pay taxes but we’re not eligible for benefits.” Even if the DREAM Act passes, these students would not be eligible for many, perhaps most, government services. “We’ve contributed all our lives,” added another student. “We volunteer. We collect food for the food drive and clothes for the clothes drive [at school]. We always try to help.
This is an important distinction as much of the current complaints from conservatives as to why they cannot support the DREAM Act is because it gives undocumented immigrants access to too many social services. This is flat out not true. The Senate Leadership released a list of changes made to House Legislation which actually makes it much harder for recipients of the DREAM Act to receive any social services.
House Addition: Does not grant lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to anyone for at least 10 years; instead, an individual who meets the bill’s requirements becomes a “conditional nonimmigrant.”
What This Means: First things, this portion of the bill requires TEN Years of background checks and good behavior as a conditional non-immigrant, before the status of LPR is applied. Only after 10 years as a conditional nonimmigrant may a DREAM Act beneficiary apply for LPR status. Earlier versions of the DREAM Act provided “conditional permanent resident status” for 6 years, at which time those eligible could apply for LPR status.
Conditional non-immigrant status provides a Social Security number, however as beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, they are required to pay taxes but receive no other federal benefits except the ability to get students loans and work study.
Getting back to the conservative argument that DREAM allows immigrants to receive social services, this is tangentially true, only it is after 10 years of good service and after paying into the system. Not a sinister grafting of the system as many conservative pundits have tried to characterize the DREAM Act.
Lets also be clear here, under the current legislation before the Senate, people can apply and be rejected. This is not an easy process, especially since if someone applies for the DREAM Act and is rejected their undocumentted status is now public knowledge and they can deported.
Anyone who is willing to take that chance, and pay into the system for essentially 10 years, without receiving any benefits, should after meeting all of the background checks and requirements be allowed to fully recieve benifits.
Perhaps an even more nuanced view of what is happening on the border is that violence is down on the American side while also being up on the Mexican side, but that violence committed on the Mexican side has been done with American guns.
No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston. And in the Texas oil town, no single independent dealer stands out more for selling guns traced from south of the border than Bill Carter.
The report goes even further by compiling the 12 largest retailers of weapons to Mexico, not surprisingly all of them are from border states, additionally 8 of these 12 come from Texas:
A year-long investigation by The Washington Post has cracked that secrecy and uncovered the names of the top 12 U.S. dealers of guns traced to Mexico in the past two years. Eight of the top 12 dealers are in Texas, three are in Arizona, and one is in California. In Texas, two of the four Houston area Carter's Country stores are on the list, along with four gun retailers in the Rio Grande Valley at the southern tip of the state. There are 3,800 gun retailers in Texas, 300 in Houston alone.
Perry said drug-related crime and violence all along that country-sized border have "gotten considerably worse, despite all of our efforts." The governor told the Tribune-Review that he is concerned not only by the increasing violence and its spiraling brutality, but by the growing sophistication of the drug cartels' operations and the willingness of gang members to confront U.S. law enforcement officers.
If Governor Perry was serious about doing something about violence on the southern part of the border, given the evidence presented in the Washington Post report, perhaps he should make it harder to buy weapons in his state. The report notes that what makes Texas so popular is not only the sheer numbers of gun shops but also the types of guns you can buy with relative ease in Texas:
Drug cartels have aggressively turned to the United States because Mexico severely restricts gun ownership. Following gunrunning paths that have been in place for 50 years, firearms cross the border and end up in the hands of criminals as well as ordinary citizens seeking protection. "This is not a new phenomenon," Webb said. What is different now, authorities say, is the number of high-powered rifles heading south - AR-15s, AK-47s, armor-piercing .50-caliber weapons - and the savagery of the violence.
This has led to a huge number of guns moving from the United States to Mexico:
Federal authorities say more than 60,000 U.S. guns of all types have been recovered in Mexico in the past four years, helping fuel the violence that has contributed to 30,000 deaths. Mexican President Felipe Calderon came to Washington in May and urged Congress and President Obama to stop the flow of guns south.
The Washington Post article is comprehensive, it is well worth wading into as it gives an excellent snapshot of exactly what is occurring on the southern border.
With the Senate set to vote on The DREAM Act next week, those on the fence just got a nice bit of polling data to help push them over the top. According to a Gallup Poll released today, a slim majority of American's at 54% of the electorate support moving forward with legislation like the DREAM Act. The full poll can be seen here.
The interesting thing about this particular piece of polling data, is that the description of the DREAM act above is actually much laxer then what the Senate will be voting on next week. The description above does not mention any of the various background checks, or time necessary to be eligible for the DREAM Act. While this is positive, it would be interesting to see if these numbers would go up if they polled what was actually going to be voted on.
When they broke the numbers out by party, the majorities actually went up for Democrats, and dropped for republicans but what is most interesting is that independents also overwhelmingly support the DREAM Act.
Support among independents is important as this voting block will be crucial for both Democrats and Republicans running in 2012. Hopefully those still on the fence take the time to look at all of the polling data here as overall it shows broad national support for the DREAM Act.
As noted earlier, the House has passed a substantially different version of the DREAM Act then the Senate version that was unveiled last week.
This has created some procedural hiccups, but by tabling the vote to wait for the House version, Democrats in the Senate have bought time to work on breaking the proposed Republican filibuster on DREAM.
The Senate Majority Leader and The Assistant Majority Leader just released a statement confirming that they intend to hold a vote on the House passed version of DREAM. That release can be seen HERE.
In that release, they also outlined key differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation, below is a synopsis:
Does not grant lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to anyone for at least 10 years; instead, an individual who meets the bill’s requirements becomes a “conditional nonimmigrant.”
Under the new House bill, conditional non immigrants must meet the bill’s college or military service requirement after 5 years, at which point they must file a new application to extend their status for 5 additional years.
Only after 10 years as a conditional nonimmigrant may a DREAM Act beneficiary apply for LPR status. Earlier versions of the DREAM Act provided “conditional permanent resident status” for 6 years, at which time those eligible could apply for LPR status.
Below is a PDF outlining all eleven key differences: