immigration reform

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NDN Event, Thur Feb 19th: Making the Case for Passing Immigration Reform This Year

On Thursday, February 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., please join NDN and a strong group of thoughtful presenters as we make the case for why Congress can, and should, pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year.

The panel will feature Simon Rosenberg of NDN, Rick Johnson of Lake Research, Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Strategy Group, Janet Murguia of National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and Frank Sharry of America's Voice. Andres Ramirez, NDN Vice President for Hispanic Programs, will moderate the discussion. Lunch will be served at the NDN offices at 729 15th St, NW, between H Street and New York Avenue.  Please click here to RSVP. More information on the panelists is below: 

Simon Rosenberg is President of NDN, a leading progressive think tank and advocacy organization. Rosenberg has worked in national politics and the media world for more than 20 years. He started his career in network television, as a writer and producer at ABC News for five years, before working on the Dukakis and Clinton presidential campaigns. He has been a leader in creating a 21st century progressive movement, an influential champion of a new and more modern agenda for the nation, and an innovator in helping progressives use new tools and media to communicate with rapidly growing demographic groups such as Hispanics and Millennials.

Rick Johnson is a Vice President at Lake Research Partners, where he has designed, conducted and analyzed public opinion research for a number of clients. In addition, he has worked with candidates at all levels of the political process. Johnson joined LRP in 2004 after working for General Mills in Minneapolis and also has worked as an independent consultant providing distribution and competitive intelligence research to European confections companies, for Market Facts (now Synovate) creating new market research tools, managing their diary business and managing their joint ventures, and for the Gallup Organization.

Pete Brodnitz is a Principal at Benenson Strategy Group. Brodnitz brings almost two decades of research experience to his clients, ranging from heads of state on three continents to domestic political work at all levels (from nationwide to municipal and state legislative), to Fortune 500 corporate research and work with non-profits.  Brodnitz has also conducted polling for Democratic-leaning issue advocacy groups such as the New Democratic Network (NDN), the Third Way Foundation, the Brookings Institution and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as well corporate clients such as Google.org, Microsoft, Novartis, ESPN, and TIAA-CREF. 

Janet Murguía has become a key figure among the next generation of leaders in the Latino community. Since January 1, 2005, she has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.  Murguía's public service, which began as legislative counsel to former Kansas Congressman Jim Slattery, then in the White House from 1994 to 2000, ultimately serving as deputy assistant to President Clinton, is complemented by her extensive political experience having served as deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign.

Frank Sharry is Founder and Executive Director of America's Voice, an organization he created to focus on communications and media as part of a renewed effort to win comprehensive immigration reform. Prior to heading America's Voice, Frank served as Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum for 17 years. The Forum, based in Washington D.C., is one of the nation's premier immigration policy organizations, and has been at the center of every major legislative and policy debate related to immigration for the past quarter of a century.

Weekly Update on Immigration: Immigration Remains Top Issue for Hispanics, Bipartisan Support for Reform, Economic Recovery

Below you'll find a summary of our articles related to immigration this week.   

Immigration Remains Top Priority For Hispanics, Evidence of Bipartisan Support for Reform on Al Punto yesterday.

Why DHS Fees are So Unjust - GAO Study Finds DHS Did Not Adhere to Federal Accounting Standards and Principles.

Simon Discusses How the Meaning of Race in America is Changing

NDN and Twelve-hundred other groups delivered a letter to the Obama Administration outlining priorities in order to fix the broken immigration system - The letter stresses the urgency with which the new Administration should approach immigration reform legislatively and administratively, noting that efforts to address the many ills facing our immigration system have become the victim of gridlock in Washington for too long.

Hispanics and Immigration Reform Must be a Part of the Economic Agenda - A recent study on minorities and the economic crisis shows: 1) Hispanics are currently suffering a percent of unemployment much higher than that of their white counterparts, 9.2% in January, up from 8.9% unemployment in December 2008.  2) Even during a period of employment gains enjoyed by Hispanics from 2001-2007, poverty increased among Hispanics over the same period, which only highlights the low wages at which Hispanics tend to work. 3) Personal and family income has steadily declined for Hispanics.  4) Large disparities in health insurance coverage also persist.  In 2007, 32.1% of Hispanics lacked health insurance coverage, compared to 10.4% of whites.  5) Additionally, Hispanic home ownership rate was only 49.7% for Hispanics in 2007, compared to 75.2% for whites. 

NDN Participates in Pre-inaugural Day Events - Simon and Andres addressed approximately 100 Latino organizers, community leaders, and individuals interested in increasing the civic participation of Latinos from approximately 20 different states.  Subsequently, Simon spoke at the "Latino State of the Union" conference, where he highlighted the importance of immigration reform as an essential part of any plan for economic recovery, "As long as the trap door of undocumented immigration remains, with 5% of the American workforce outside of the protection of U.S. law and U.S. minimum wage, we will not be able to achieve economic recovery." 

NDN Praises U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller for offering amendment to help legal immigrant children. 

A Race to the Bottom, A Broken Immigration System Has a Social and Economic Cost, too - According to a report just released by the Migration Policy institute, although the U.S. economy's nosedive has probably contributed to a drop in the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the United States, those already here will be less inclined to return home due to the manifestation of the economic crisis in the U.S. and abroad.

Victory for Nashville - It's always good to hear good news on the immigration front - Props to all those Nashville, TN voters and organizers who voted down an "English-only" amendment. 

Immigration Remains Top Priority for Hispanics, Evidence of Bipartisan Support for Reform on Al Punto

Yesterday, Al Punto, the Sunday morning political show on Univision - the network with the largest Hispanic viewership in the U.S. - featured the issue of immigration once again, as it does each week in one way or another.  Immigration features prominently on the Spanish-language newscast each evening, and during Al Punto's interviews every Sunday because it is an issue that remains a top concern for Latinos, and to Americans in general.  

Yesterday's show highlighted the bipartisan support that can be drawn on the issue of immigration.  The first segment consisted of an interview with U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to discuss their opinion of President Barack Obama's agenda coming into office.  Rep. Sanchez quickly named immigration reform as one of the top three issues she believes President Obama should move on first (along with the economy and the war in Iraq).  She mentioned that she has already spoken with White House staff to discuss how to move on immigration this year, and reiterated her belief that immigration reform is imperative in order to help the economy and secure our borders.  For her part, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen was more skeptical about reform passing this year, although she recognized that President Obama is in a great position to launch reform because "the American people are on his side" - polling data has consistently shown that the American people want a solution to the broken immigration system - and that the popularity enjoyed by President Obama would certainly help efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  It's noteworthy that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen stated that while she might not agree on many issues with President Obama, she is on his side when it comes to immigration reform and would work with Rep. Sanchez and others in order to pass comprehensive immigration reform. 

The show's third segment consisted of an interview with U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid.  Jorge Ramos began the interview by asking, "Barack Obama promised the Latino community that he would move comprehensive immigration reform within his first year, is there the political will to do this in the first year?"  The questions denote the sense of urgency for reform felt among Latinos.  Reid pointed out that in addition to addressing interior and exterior enforcement, future flow, path to citizenship, etc., any bill for comprehensive (CIR) would also include the Dream Act.  This is great news, but Jorge Ramos pressed on, "As you know, this is very important for the Hispanic community; when will CIR pass?"  Sen. Reid answered, "I hope that we can get it done in September, and I feel confident that we can get this done.  I've spoken with John McCain," and "Sen. McCain has reiterated his commitment to providing Republican support," for the legislation.  It's interesting that Sen. Reid noted, "Now we're 59 Democrats, and we need 60 votes," alluding to the new political landscape in the Senate, a landscape that requires less Republican votes for the bill than was required when legislation for immigration reform was presented in 2007.  Now if we can only make sure all Democrats share the President's view and the Democratic platform for immigration reform.....Ramos ended the interview by thanking Sen. Reid and reiterating, "And we'll be checking in with you on the progress of immigration reform." 

Weekly Update on Immigration: It's the Economy Stupid! Will Dems Seize Opportunities? Is White Uncool? WSJ Promotes the Hate

In Politics:
One reason why the economic recovery plan matters to  immigration reform - 
There's been much written debate in major publications about whether the economic recovery plan is causing tension between Congress and the incoming Obama administration.  With Obama not even in office yet, a major concern of mine: if the alleged tension is true, I hope this doesn't cause major rifts that could damage discussions for an overhaul of the current - broken - immigration system.

Another Example of the Broken Immigration System - Even Tim Geithner's cleaning lady couldn't keep her status in check.  Again, we need to fix the current broken system that is so impossible to manage, which is why people fall out of status.  And as for Mr. Geithner's appointment - this guy is going to have to help solve the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression...this whole cleaning lady controversy - let's keep our eye on the ball, people.

Debate in Congress this week - The House is set to vote on legislation to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) this week, and the Senate Finance Committee will also take up companion legislation.  This bill includes provisions that would eliminate the existing five year waiting period LEGAL immigrant children must endure before qualifying for coverage.  We agree this requirement only threatens the well-being of already eligible children, but this debate has equally important political implications.  I know many thought SCHIP could serve as a "mini victory" before going for the "big enchilada," comprehensive immigration reform, but I disagree.  Time and time again, this Congress will try to take action on major domestic policy issues, and time and time again the issue of how these programs deal with the undocumented will come up (even though this bill deals only with legal immigrants), so the best way for Democrats to tackle this challenge is to clear the table - fix the root of the debate, a broken immigration system, and then we can actually make progress on the rest.  Most of the constituency that both Dems and Reps now admit they need to win elections - Latinos and immigrant communities - are unfortunately not monitoring the SCHIP debate, they want to be able to stop having to walk around with their passports in hand for fear of being stopped for no reason other than their appearance.  That is the reality we live in.  This tone will change to a great extent if Democrats seize the opportunity CIR affords them.

Everyone expects Republicans to try to bring up the old anti-immigrant mongering, but right now the Hill is actually buzzing due to Democrats that oppose eliminating this waiting period.  By going for SCHIP first, if it fails, Democrats have put themselves in a position that makes them seem divided (see Sen. Baucus), opened the door for more immigrant hate-mongering, they have taken up their time "preempting" potential Republican attacks on the bill instead of leading the debate and dictating a new agenda, and lost political capital and energy that is going to be needed if CIR legislation is introduced.  And if the bill passes, they have still invested political capital that will be needed for CIR, and if Republicans actually "get it" and shift their tone to an immigrant-friendly one, then that opens the door for Republicans to start making their way back among Latinos and immigrants - while certain Dems oppose this bill.  Until CIR passes, there will continue to be bickering over immigrants and "illegals" on every single policy issue that hits the floor.  And even if SCHIP passes, state and local governments are still left with the unfunded mandate of having to act as immigration agents, which will not stop until we have fixed our broken immigration system.  

It's the economy stupid - The San Antonio Express had a piece by Hernan Rozemberg this week on why immigration reform is on the "back burner."  The article accurately posits that anti-immigrant forces will argue that, "hard economic times" will impede making reform politically feasible.  We argue that the broken immigration system exacerbates economic problems because - as stated by Rep. Hilda Solis - it affects all workers, not just immigrants.

The economic crisis will not be solved in two months, or in one year.  And in one year, when legislators have to go back to their districts to campaign - what are they going to campaign on exactly? What major achievement? It's not likely that a tangible result like peace in the middle east, or a complete economic turnaround, or a major overhaul of the education system will be achieved in a year, but fixing the broken immigration system can happen in one year.  It is a major issue, recognized by the general public as a "problem" that needs fixing.  SHCIP, Equal Pay...these are all necessary and worthy achievements, but they are not recognized by voters as one of the top five major issues on their mind.

The piece also states, "Other leading national immigrant advocates said in the past week they'll wait patiently while Obama takes care of the economic mess, but they're not willing to let the crisis push the issue aside," which worries me.  Again, those of us for CIR should be advocating that immigration reform is one tool to begin to solve the major economic mess! This issue cannot wait until the economy turns around in two or five years.

Rozemberg adequately points out that the anti-immigrant voices will echo Roy Beck - a prominent member of the white supremacist hate network as reported by SPLC - shifting their focus away from the "illegal" argument (because they now see that Americans don't blame the immigrants), to "protecting American workers from competing for jobs with unauthorized immigrants."  And we have to preempt this strategy.  Our mistake in 2007 was responding to these PR stunts as opposed to anticipating them.  The truth is: 

- 12 million people are currently working outside the system - these people contribute to all our lives and the lives of all Americans will benefit from bringing them out of the shadows.
- The undocumented who are already here do not compete for American jobs, those who are employed work because they take jobs Americans will not fill, for wages Americans would not accept, outside of U.S. labor laws.  The economic crisis has also created many illegal immigrants - many have come into the country legally, and in hard economic times have lost their job or work less hours and thus cannot afford the ridiculous fees charged by USCIS to renew or change their status.  

- Whoever argues, "temporary worker programs or visa programs would only have more immigrants in the U.S. competing for U.S. jobs," completely misses the problem.  The reality is that: 1) visa programs are limited, but the current limits are unrealistic and do not meet business demands (hence 12 million undocumented).  Whether we take action to accept legal immigrants or not, they will come, let's accept that.  The question is: do we want them coming in legally, or illegally?  2) In hard economic times businesses might be particularly predisposed to hire workers who will work for less, and have no rights.  Let's work out a system that is amenable to American workers and helps meet labor demands in specific areas - the reason we have a broken system to begin with is that we are never forward looking, we've always tried to fashion a law that meets our "ideal" as opposed to meeting reality, which is why the 1986 and 1996 laws have not worked. 

Roy Beck said Obama would, "commit political suicide" if he tried to legalize millions of unauthorized workers with so many Americans out of work - that's also what everyone (including Democrats) said after he came out in favor of drivers licenses for the undocumented in the 2008 Primaries, remember? The bottom line is: the American people want Congress to solve problems.  And the broken immigration system is a problem. 

President-elect Obama met with President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. Click here to see NDN's statement on yesterday's visit.  The statement released by Obama spokesman, Robert Gibbs:

"President-elect Obama underscored his commitment to working with Congress to fix the broken U.S. immigration system and fostering safe, legal and orderly migration.  He expressed his strongly held view that immigrants should be treated with dignity and that the immigration debate should not be a vehicle for vilifying any group, and that our two countries need to work more effectively to stop the flow of illegal immigration into the United States." 

Mexico Human Rights Comission Speaks Out Again - This time, the CNDH (initials in Spanish) spoke out against the border fence during a tour of the border, explaining that a fence does not deter immigration, and criticized Mukasey's recent decision to strip immigrants of any semblance of due process during immigration proceedings (see below). 

Still No Commerce Secretary - There are many rumors regarding potential appointees - I think the thought of Federico Pena as Secretary of Commerce sounds excellent.  Not only does Secretary Pena - member of NDN's Hispanic Advisory Board - enjoy a wealth of executive experience, he is a community and business leader, he's pragmatic, respected, and most importantly, he is an ally in the fight for immigration reform.  Secretary Pena has acted as advisor to Barack Obama on this issue, and has submitted four key points for immigration reform.

Immigration reform legislation affords opportunities - In 2008, Republicans lost 3 of the 5 seats in the Senate opened by retiring members. In 2010, Republicans must defend 16 incumbents and 3 open seats, while Democrats have to defend 15 incumbents and two open seats.  Passing comprehensive immigration reform in order to solve the very broken immigration system affords Democrats an enormous opportunity to demonstrate a solid achievement as they battle for these Senate seats in states that do not clearly favor either party.  The seats up for grabs:
Jeb does not go to Washington
- Jeb Bush had been mentioned as a contender for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, but this week he announced he is in fact not going to run for U.S. Senate in 2010.  One can only speculate as to Mr. Bush's reasons for not running, but I have the feeling a major factor is discontent with what the Republican brand currently stands for - or lack thereof.  In part it is a shame because he might have followed Sen. Martinez's moderate Republican voice in the Senate, and like Martinez, supported immigration reform.  Bush governed one of the states with the largest Latino populations in the country, and as husband to Columba Bush - an immigrant from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico - is inclined to be more sympathetic to immigrants than most of his colleagues.  On the other hand, given the Democratic win in Florida during the 2008 Presidential, maybe this paves the way for Democrats to make new inroads into what used to be the Republican solid south.

Someone else who won't be seeking reelection - U.S. Sen. Kit Bond announced this week that he will not seek re-election in 2010.  The Republican party is also losing U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez (Florida) and Sam Brownback (Kansas).  These retirements provide Democrats - and those in favor of CIR - major openings (both Bond and Brownback acted as voices against immigrants and immigration reform). Missouri voters have been unpredictable in statewide elections lately. They handed Democrat Jay Nixon an easy victory last year in the governor's race, then backed Republican John McCain in the presidential election. Two years prior, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, managed to win her seat by a slim margin.

Friends in high places - President-elect Obama officially introduced the new DNC Chair, Gov. Tim Kaine, last week - good news for pro CIR advocates.  A little known fact about Gov. Kaine, of Virginia, is that he began his career in public service outside of the U.S., as a missionary in Honduras.  He is still fluent in Spanish.  Virginia has suffered among the highest number of anti-immigrant policies and legislation at the state and local level, but Gov. Kaine has remained committed to respecting the rights and humanity of immigrants in Virginia, arguing for comprehensive immigration reform, and ending divisive and ineffective tactics in Virginia.

George is schizophrenic on immigration - Since early December, NDN reported on President Bush's recognition that not passing immigration reform was among his biggest disappointments.  He repeated the same idea yesterday during his final interview as President, adding that the GOP must be "compassionate and broad-minded," in order to return from its 2008 electoral defeat, and the President highlighted that the immigration debate was particularly harmful because those opposed to reform made it appear that, "Republicans don't like immigrants."  At the same time, he turns around and strips immigrants of their rights through the Attorney General's last major act in office:

GTMO for Immigrants - On Wednesday, Michael Mukasey ruled that aliens have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings based on their lawyers' mistakes.  This effectively scraps a 15-year old precedent set in a case referred to as the Matter of Lozada, which stated that while "aliens" have no 6th Amendment right to counsel, Lozada recognized their right to effective assistance under due process.  This is absolutely abominable, and we hope Eric Holder's first act in office is to reverse this ruling.  NDN and other major organizations will be interested in seeing whether Mr. Holder is asked about his position on this issue during confirmation hearings.

Immigration and Race:
Demography is Destiny (continued) - This week The Atlantic and Ron Brownstein talk about race.  Brownstein goes into detail on how Democrats' efforts to pursue the vote of minorities paid off in 2008:

"The biggest source of Hispanic population growth is not immigration, but from the children of recent immigrants. And, by definition, they are voting citizens once they turn 18."

The Atlantic has a very interesting piece, "The End of White America?" While I agree with the article's general premise that the future will belong to those who can navigate what we at NDN consider a new racial construct of America, I disagree that we live in a "post" racial America.  The Atlantic piece also weaves in the role of race in pop culture, is it "cool" to be white? Will other ethnic groups grow to be considered more "American" now?  The article explores how the role of race has changed as our demographics have changed - you no longer need to be "white" to be included, incorporated into society, to be able to run for office or to be a Hollywood star. An excerpt:

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America,  we're approaching a profound demographic tipping point....those groups currently categorized as racial minorities-blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians-will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023.......it's now very cool and in to have multicultural friends. Like you're not really considered hip or 'you've made it' if you're rolling with all the same people."

People should be recognized as individuals, not for their color or creed (and as Obama said, we're all muts anyway).  At the same time, we're not there yet. Just because we're in a new, very exciting, stage of the racial construct of America, does not mean that we are "post" racial. 

Hence the current case before the Supreme court trying to do away with the landmark Voting Rights Act is absolutely preposterous.  The act ended literacy tests and other state measures that had kept blacks from the polls, and now helps ensure that all minorities are ensured the right to vote.  Obama's election reflects an enormous advancement in race relations, but voting, particularly in the South, remains significantly polarized.  Exit polls from the Nov. 4 presidential election show whites in many Southern states heavily favored John McCain to Obama. In Texas, 73% of whites favored McCain, in Georgia, 76%, and in Alabama, 88%. Nationally, the percentage of whites for McCain was 55%.

The Wall Street Journal joins the White Supremacist groups who have changed their strategy from openly demonizing Hispanics to arguing that "population control" is needed and that overcrowding - largely caused by "immigrants" - is the reason we have a climate change problem.  Now the WSJ joins the chorus by blaming us (Hispanics) for the economic crisis, namely the Latino members of Congress, Joe Baca and the CHC. Deplorable.  

Muslims and Hispanics - Victims of racial profiling.  Thanks to the Bush fear mongering machine, we are "suspect" just by virtue of being in a room.  After an American family who happens to be of Muslim faith was detained last week due to overzealous passengers who thought they "posed a threat" because of "suspicious" remarks (yeah, I'm sure it was the remarks), DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton calls for a hearing to look into the way these people were treated when detained.

U.S. to collect immigrants' DNA - Beginning on Friday, the U.S. government will collect DNA samples from people arrested and detained for suspected immigration violations (which are not criminal, immigration violations are civil).  Key word: SUSPECTED, previously the government only obtained DNA from persons convicted of certain crimes.

Setting the Record Straight - Great, updated version of IPC's fact sheet on the myths of immigrants and criminality released this week. Keep it handy.

In case you missed it - The GAO released a report on USCIS’s processes for screening individuals applying for permanent residence, and found vulnerabilities that need to be addressed, like backlogs and improved collaboration with FBI in the case of FBI checks. 

The GOP and Magic Negros

In a new Huffington Post story by Sam Stein on the GOP's now infamous Magic Negro song, I offer this observation: 

"The core play in the GOP playbook for 44 years has been the magic negro
playbook," said Simon Rosenberg, head of Democratic organization NDN
and one of the most well-versed party figures on racial politics. "They
don't have another play or another playbook. Whether it is Willie
Horton, or welfare queens and tax and spend, or the way they have dealt
with immigration... they don't have a play in their playbook that
doesn't start with the exploitation of racial divisions... They are
going to have to reject 44 years of GOP politics in order to have any
chance in the 21st century America."

That a major candidate for RNC Chair could produce this song, at this time, in this year, is yet another example of why for the GOP theirs is A Long Road Back, a topic I covered in a recent essay on our blog.  Their recent success as a national Party was built on an approach towards race that spoke to a different racial reality in America, an American one where could get away with magic negro songs, and much much worse of course.  But that America - a white/black, majority/minority America - is now an historic relic, and is in the process of being replaced by an America that has 3 times as many minorities as it did just 44 years ago, and is on track to be majority minority by 2042 (for more on this historic demographic transformation see here).  But for many in the GOP, including ones who might become their Chairman, they know no other politics than this Southern Strategy era politics, a politics that has been rejected once and for all by the American people of today's America.  

It is important that the leaders of the GOP have begun to confront its shameful racial past.  But their problem has no simple or easy fix.  It will require a complete refashioning of their politics around a very different set of 21st century demographics and a much more tolerant understanding of race in America - and a complete and utter repudiation of much of their domestic agenda for the past half century.  Which is major reason why I think their road back is such a long one - many of their leaders came to power by becoming expert in this kind of politics; it is the core play in their playbook; it is the foundation of their domestic agenda; and they know little else.  Their old Southern Strategy dogs aren't going to learn new tricks - for the GOP they will have to slowly, over time, replace their anarchronistic leaders with ones schooled in the modern governing challenges, modern media and technology and modern demography of our day.  The process of watching this generational replacement take place will be one of the most interesting political stories of the next 10-20 years, and of course has become all the more necessary in the age of Obama.  

How many reading this blog are aware that of the hundreds of Republicans in the Senate and House, just 5 are technically minorities - 4 Cuban-Americans from South Florida and a new Vietnamese-American from Louisiana? No African-Americans, no non-Cuban Hispanics.  In a nation now one-third minority the Washington Republicans remain 98 percent white and deeply out of touch with the emerging and much more complicated racial construct of our day.  

My advice to them? As you remake your Grand Old Party look to Lincoln - not Nixon - for your inspiration. And good luck.  The nation will be better off with a 21st century Republican Party rather than the failed, disgraced and intolerant one we have today.

Update: For fun check out how our A Long Road Back argument was addressed and discussed at the conservative website Townhall the other day.  

Wed am Update: The debate rages on.  The WaPo weighs in with an editorial today, and the Politico reports that "'Magic Negro' Flap Might Help Saltsman."

Fri am Update: Paul Krugman chimes in today with a very good column that echoes some of these themes.

Weekly Update on Immigration: DHS Has a Really Rough Week, Oops! Bush Did it Again, New Tools in Immigration

The Minnesota race continues, but don't hold your breath - Democratic candidate Al Franken got a boost on Friday in his bid to unseat Sen. Norm Coleman.  On Friday, the state's election oversight board recommended that each of the state's 87 counties review absentee ballots initially rejected as invalid, and submit amended vote tallies that include any ballots found to be wrongly rejected.  The thing is, the board does not have the authority to require counties to conduct such a review, so it would be up to the candidates to issue legal challenges to force the issue should any county decline to re-examine the legitimacy of the disputed ballots.  The Secretary of State projects that more than 1,500 absentee ballots could be found to have been improperly turned away, and if this turns out to be the case,  Al Franken would have to win a relatively small plurality of those ballots to overcome the razor-thin lead held by Coleman following a hand recount of votes cast in the Senate race.

Judiciary Loses Its Lion - In case you missed it, Sen. Ted Kennedy stepped down from his post on the Committee on the Judiciary.  It will be interesting to see who will start to throw their hat in the ring to succeed Sen. Kennedy, and whether that person can - and will - follow Sen. Kennedy's example in the area of immigration reform. 

Tough Week for DHS:   1) DHS Programs caught midstream in the transition - Among them, the controversial SBInet border security system, construction of it is scheduled to begin in March 2009 in Arizona.  After being known in Congress for cost overruns, malfunctions, gaps in management, and miscommunication with Congress, Alice Lipowicz reports on the challenges ahead for SBInet advocates. 
2) A perfect example of the broken immigration system:
  the cleaning service used by DHS Secretary Chertoff to clean his house had undocumented immigrants working there.  What better example of how broken our immigration system really is, and the urgent need to fix it.  At least the Secretary didn't "knowingly" hire "illegals," as did  Lorraine Henderson, an employee of Customs and Border Protection (emphasis added) - Ms. Henderson reportedly was recorded warning her cleaning lady to be "careful" to not get caught.  Who said DHS didn't care?  A former FEMA employee who was sentenced earlier this year for Lorrainehockqu-g-davis-gowaryg>&qw whitryg&quf by neffectn, Gnduct bid to unseat Seissue l.

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