There are two Obamas
By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta, Jan. 6, 2010. This week Republicans wrested control of the house from the clutches of a cadre of democrats who, just years ago, looked like our collective Moses. Yes, they would deliver us to the Promised Land. In the new America there would be redistribution of wealth, no tax cuts for the wealthy, the notorious Gitmo prison would be shuttered, Barak Obama would veto any bill that contained earmarks and there would be path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
But campaign promises are so much easier to keep because they are hypothetical and divorced from political reality. As the President confronts host of nettlesome issues, from the national debt to recess appointments, we have witnessed a political metamorphosis unmatched in the annals of American politics. Faced with a debt fast rising toward the ceiling, the President must confront a new species of recalcitrant Republican neophytes, who insist that we live within our means as a nation. This presents a genuine problem for the President. And last week he dispatched his surrogate and fiscal point man, Austan Goolsbee, to clear a path for his match toward even higher deficits in the coming years. The President, needing spending money, has begun to frame the debate in advance of the expected battle over the national debt, by warning of the dire consequences should congress not raise the debt ceiling, come March of 2011. “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said on March 16, 2006. “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. ((I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.))” Those were the words uttered by then Senator Obama as he voted against raising the debt ceiling.” Truer words are seldom uttered. In 2007 and in 2008, when the Senate voted to increase the limit by $850 billion and $800 billion respectively, Obama did not bother to vote. That was then. The very next year, as President Obama, he dispatched Timothy Geitner to warn congress that it was “critically important” that they act in the next two months to increase the debt ceiling. That was September, 2009.
And now, in anticipation of guerrilla war with Tea party Republicans, he has dispatched Goolsbee, who told ABC News’ THIS WEEK “I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling, If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity”. What happened to shifting the burden onto the backs of our children? No problem. Like any sophomore with his parents credit card, when times get rough and money is short, you simply swipe the plastic and to pay for emergencies and to pay the bills. But at the end of the month the bill arrives and mom and dad cut off the credit card. That is what Tea Party Republicans aim to do to this President in this congress. And he has launched a preemptive strike.
I have always believed, although I am no economist, that when one hits tough times one cuts spending to the bone, cut off cable, cancel the playboy subscription and do whatever is necessary by spending as little as possible. But why worry! The Chinese are willing to lend us a few trillion dollars so we can maintain our military presence in Europe and, fund our burgeoning entitlement programs. "I think we should resist that. We need to have a showdown, at this point, that we're not going to increase our debt ceiling anymore. We are going to cut things necessary to stay within the current levels, which is over $14 trillion," Sounds like Senator Obama in 2006. But it’s what Senator DeMint told the conservative magazine Human Events in an interview released Monday. "So this needs to be a big showdown." Those words uttered by the Senator that gave rise to a firestorm of negative response in the mainstream media. Yet they are not different from the words spoken by Barak Obama in excoriating George Bush for having the audacity to ask for an increase in the debt ceiling back in 2005.
Obama on Immigration then and now
As a candidate, Senator Obama told packed auditoriums, "I think it's time for a President who won't walk away from something as important comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular." Then, he said, "((I will make it a top priority in my first year as President - not just because we need to secure our borders and get control of who comes into our country)). And not just because we have to crack down on employers abusing undocumented immigrants. But because we have to finally bring those 12 million people out of the shadows."
That was then. This is now. Back then the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep Gutierrez embraced candidate Obama, hopefully, and galvanized Hispanic support behind his campaign. Now Gutierrez says ruefully, “it was hard for me to imagine a time I would have to say no to Barack Obama when he asked me for support. But last week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sat down with the President, and he asked us to vote for the health care reform bill -- a bill that denies immigrants the opportunity to purchase health care with their own money. It was one more in a string of disappointments for the Hispanic community, and today, I no longer find myself able to confidently say "yes" when President Obama asks me for his support.” During the 2008 campaign, Obama attacked his rival saying, “Senator McCain used to offer change on immigration. He was a champion of comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment and he’s said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.” “If we are going to solve the challenges we face,” said he “you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you.” That’s why comprehensive reform is so important”….. “Something that we can do immediately that is very important is to pass the Dream Act, which allows children who through no fault of their own are here but have essentially grown up as Americans, allow them the opportunity for higher education.” (Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin, Feb 21, 2008) But when push came to shove, the President abandoned his political allies and took cover in the political thicket, declaiming that congress did not have the stomach to pass comprehensive immigration at this time. He abandoned DREAM to the ignominy of a “show” vote in the lame duck session, when his once robust majority was in its dying throes. It failed as he knew it would. But now he could assign the blame to republicans because they opposed it.
Recess Appointments, more of the same
When President Bush faced a recalcitrant democratic congress in 2005, he made recess appointments to circumvent congress’ blockade of his nominees. One of these appointments was John Bolton as Unites States Ambassador to the UN. At the time Sen. Obama protested Bolton’s appointment to the UN. “To some degree, he’s damaged goods,” said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I think that means we’ll have less credibility and, ironically, be less equipped to reform the United Nations in the way that it needs to be reformed.” Yet this month President Obama said that he intended to install six appointees, including James Cole, his controversial pick for the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department while Congress is in recess. The move will allow them to serve without confirmation by the Senate. The White House Press office issued a release which said:
After facing months of Republican obstruction to administration nominees, President Obama announced his intent to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts that have been left vacant, including key positions on the economic team and on boards that have been left with vacancies for months. “Obstinacy” of Republicans, and the “need to govern”, was justification for a forthcoming decision by the President to proceed unilaterally with his recess appointments. But he certainly had no problem deploying it to advance his argument that bypassing Senate confirmation reduced the credibility of the appointment
What about Gitmo
For years, the President has said Guantanamo has undermined national security, serving as a highly effective recruiting poster for Al Qaeda and making it difficult for the United States to get international cooperation on terrorism. Not to mention that it runs directly counter to the nation's moral and legal traditions. If there ever was a change we could believe in, it was candidate Barack Obama's promise to close Guantanamo. Once he took office, President Obama set a deadline for doing it: Jan. 22, 2010. Almost a year ago. But even though President Obama insists he still wants to close Guantanamo, it is open today and, he reportedly will soon sign an executive order that will allow some detainees to continue to be imprisoned indefinitely.
Now the wealthy have their tax cuts, Obama has his recess appointments, we still have Gitmo and 12 million people, to whom he represented hope and change, have awakened to a nightmare. The messiah is not the messiah. He has morphed into a conservative in liberal democratic garb, a new sheriff is guarding the golden gates and the DREAM is dead.
by Reynold Mson
In 2010 a host of important issues vied for public attention. Several captivated the public and riveted their attention. Here’s our list of the top 10 issues of 2010.
1. The Arizona immigration law. Known as SB 1070, this dastardly piece of anti-immigration legislation gave police the authority to demand papers from people they suspected of being illegal immigrants. The law made Arizona the target of boycotts and demonstrations. It was challenged in court by several groups including the ACLU. The Obama administration sued, and the most odious parts of the law were blocked. It is now on appeal
2. The DREAM Act. This bill, designed to help children who were brought into the country undocumented when they were underage, was defeated in the senate this month, dashing the hopes of thousands of young people who had hoped to legalize their status and perhaps go onto college. Its defeat portends tough times ahead for undocumented immigrants who had hoped for good things under the Obama administration.
3. The election of Marco Rubio, Martinez and Sandoval. The election of Marco Rubio in Florida whom many see as a potential national figure portends well for Hispanics. The election of Susanna Martinez and Brian Sandoval, as governors of New Mexico and Arizona gives Hispanics a voice in the immigration debate.
4. The Haiti Earthquake. In January a cataclysmic earthquake wreaked havoc on the poorest country in the West. Port-a Prince was left in ruins and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. The quake decimated the country’s already feeble infrastructure leaving many homeless. The devastation eventually led to a cholera outbreak blamed on the contaminated water supply.
5. The Chilean Miners. The story of 33 men trapped in a mine after an earthquake rattled parts of the country, grabbed the attention of the entire world. They seemed doomed at first, but then a drill broke through the space where they were trapped and a note came up with the good news, “we are alive”. They were greeted as heroes when they were finally rescued months later.
6. Ground Zero Mosque. The proposed Mosque near the site of the World Trade Center riled relatives of those killed and in the 9/11 disaster. Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and even President Obama got into the controversy. Some say Muslims wanted to build a triumphal Mosque on the site of their biggest victory. Others saw it as an issue of religious freedom.
7. Bp Oil Spill. In April a rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven men lost their lives, and for the next three months oil gushed into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly $400 million worth of black gold was washed away leaving a dark stain over 4000 square miles of ocean.
8. Election of Scott Brown. Elected to the Massachusetts senate as the first republican since 1972, he denied the democrats their filibuster proof senate. The faith of DREAM may have hinged on his election. It was, as they say, a game changer.
9. The Tea Party. This grassroots movement has made its mark on the political scene. Politicians are racing to follow their lead on a whole host of issues including immigration. Their ascendency does not bode well for immigration reform.
10 DADT. The repeal of this law that prevented gays from openly serving in the military was a victory for the President. He did not keep his promise on immigration but he made good on this one.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Dec. 29, 2010 When the DREAM act died in the senate earlier this month, the hopes of thousands of young people were dashed. Emotions among immigration activists ran the whole gamut, from disappointment to anger. The law held the promise of a path to citizenship for young people brought to the country illegally, when they were too young to know better. No one blames these young people for the plight in which they now find themselves. It was not of their making. And most Americans agree that they should have relief. Opinion Research Corp. in a poll conducted in June of last year found strong support for the bill among members of the general public. 70 % of those polled expressed support for the bill. In 2004, the last time some of the senators who voted down the bill were up for reelection, the DREAM act had the support of just 12% of Americans. Today, only 6% of Americans strongly oppose the DREAM act. And 60% of republicans support the bill as well.
Don’t blame republicans
After the Senate vote on the Dream Act, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza issued a warning to the republicans who voted against the measure. "The most immediate repercussions are that – particularly those members in states where the Latino population has political influence – they'd better watch out," said Clarissa Martinez, NCLR's director of immigration and national campaigns. "I am talking about persons like Hutchison and Cornyn of Texas, Lemieux in Florida, Kirk in Illinois”. The bill was defeated 55-41, just 5 votes shy of the 60 needed for cloture. But five Democrats voted against DREAM on cloture; Max Baucus, Kay Hagan, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, and Jon Tester. (West Virginia's Joe Manchin did not vote.) Their vote would have put the bill over the top.
The president ran on a platform, one plank of which was comprehensive immigration reform. But after the bruising battle over healthcare, neither he nor congressional democrats had the will to push DREAM. They let slip the best chance they ever had to pass the bill because the feared the political repercussions. They deserted their supporters even as they wielded control of the house and senate for two years. But with nothing to fear after they had been soundly beaten at the polls, the democratic lame ducks rushed the bill to placate their base. Harry Reid, in particular, had a promise to keep. He had vowed to bring the bill to a vote in the lame duck session. The expressions of anger and rage are misdirected. Democrats bear the responsibility for the defeat of the DREAM act, not republicans. In fact, the bill would have passed the senate if Harry Reid had been able to hold together his own members who voted against the bill.
Astute observers of the political process are flummoxed. The DREAM act had the support of the American people, the business and labor sector, religious groups and the world’s most powerful man, president Obama. Add to that, the backing of media heavyweights Rupert Murdoch, George Soros and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and anyone would have believed that passage of the bill was assured. Major philanthropic organizations, Ford Foundation, Carnegie and the MacArthur foundations threw their considerable influence behind the bill. So what happened?
Backlash caused by immigration activists
Americans are not anti-immigrant. They are well aware that theirs is a country of immigrants. But let’s face it. In 1986 Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, but the border remained porous, and today we are faced once again with the very problem we thought we solved in 1986. As supportive as they are of legal immigration, Americans wants to staunch the unrestricted flow of illegal immigrants into the country. The overwhelming majority of Americans support enforcement and oppose amnesty. 78 % oppose legalizing illegal’s already in the country, estimated to be 12 million. (Pulse Opinion Research. 9/2009). 77% want those who hire illegal’s arrested, while 64 % support surprise raids on businesses suspected of hiring illegals. (Rasmussen Reports. 6/2009). Even more telling, 78 % of Americans want a reduction in the numbers of illegal immigrants (CNN/Opinion Research 10/2009). 74 % of those polled said they felt the government is not doing enough to keep illegal’s from entering the country. (ABC News Poll, 4/2009); and a majority felt it was very important for the government to impose border security and reduce illegal immigration.
Yet, in the face of the expressed sentiments of the vast majority of the public, immigration activists are engaged in a scorched earth blitz against any effort to retake control of our borders and enforce laws already passed by congress. They have sued to block the Arizona immigration law that requires people to carry proof of legal status; they have brought suit to stop that state from penalizing businesses that hire illegal workers; they have sued to prevent states from using e-verify, a federal program that can determine whether a person is authorized to work; they have voiced opposition to the president’s stepped up enforcement and accuse him of pandering to appease republicans by setting new records for deportations last year. Their game plan is to tie up in court, every legitimate effort to clamp down on illegal immigration.
Americans are sick of the double standard whereby immigration activists challenge laws aimed at clamping down on illegal immigration, but applaud sanctuary cities where police are prohibited from assisting federal immigration authorities in making arrests. They blast cities that cooperate with the federal authorities in checking people’s status when stopped for a traffic infraction, but applaud renegade cities that undercut and hinder federal policies. Every American and legal resident is issued a social security number that is unique. Yet immigrantion activists are opposed to the Social Security Administration issuing “no match letters” when a worker’s social security number does match up with its records. There is no legitimate policy reason for opposing these commonsense measures.
In 1989, San Francisco passed the "City of Refuge" Ordinance, which prohibits city employees from assisting federal agents in making immigration arrests, unless required by federal or state law or a warrant. It has been known as a sanctuary city ever since. But even in this so-called sanctuary city, immigrants say they are living in fear. A year ago, in what immigrant rights groups saw as a step backward, Mayor Gavin Newsom changed the city’s policy toward undocumented youth. In July 2008, he began allowing undocumented minors with criminal records to be turned over to immigration authorities. A week after suing Arizona and arguing that its immigration law creates a patchwork of rules, the Obama administration said it would not go after so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government, because they are not as bad as a state that “actively interferes” "For the Justice Department to suggest that they won't take action against those who passively violate the law, who fail to comply with the law is absurd," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and chief author of the 1996 immigration law.
The mood of the country has changed. And while Americans would like to see relief granted to Dreamers, they will no longer acquiesce in the de facto amnesty. The defeat of the Dream Act in the lame-duck session slams the lid for this Congress on any meaningful repair of the immigration system. And the next Congress will be harsher on immigration than this one. President Barack Obama and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met at the White House last week to discuss the bleak future of immigration reform in Congress. Both sides agreed that amnesty is likely dead for the next two years, but the president said that he would veto any immigration enforcement legislation. The prospects for immigration relief looks bleak indeed, and continued mindless opposition to common sense enforcement initiatives will turn Americans, now sympatric to DREAM, against the bill altogether. It is high time immigration activists change strategy and adopt a position on the issue of immigration that is in harmony with the wishes of the American public.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Dec.16, 2010. Today in Pensacola, Florida, the Obama Health Care Law faces yet another challenge. On Monday the law suffered a TKO in federal court in Virginia at the hands of Judge Henry Hudson, who ruled that the provision of the law that requires every American to purchase health care insurance or face a fine is unconstitutional. There have been two other challenges to the law thus far, both of which found no constitutional problem with it. That is the nature of the law. Judges bring to the bench their biases, their perspectives and their own judicial philosophy. So different outcomes on the same question are not uncommon. Fortunately for us, the U.S. Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what is or is not in harmony with the constitution. The nine justices will ultimately decide the question. It is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome of this legal battle. But scholars of the judiciary whose focus is the U.S. Supreme Court may not be entirely clueless. Take Judge Hudson, who on Monday found the law unconstitutional in part, he was appointed to the court by George W. Bush. The two earlier rulings both upholding the law, were handed down by judges who were democratic appointees. There are presently four solidly conservative justices on the high court, Roberts, Alito. Scalia and Thomas all appointed by republican presidents. Four of the justices are democratic appointees. But Justice Kennedy, though appointed by President Reagan has been a double edged sword. He is considered a swing vote, often casting the deciding vote on important issues such as the right to own hand guns. He is the wild card who seems to defy labels as either liberal or conservative. He could well be the deciding vote when Health Care Law reaches the high court.
What is legally wrong with the Health Care Law?
The problem with the law is the penalty that it imposes on every American who does not purchase health insurance. The Obama administration, dreading the use of the “T” (Tax) word, initially sold this imposition as a penalty. But when faced with legal challenges tried to pass it off as a tax. Virginia argued that forcing a person to purchase a product from a private vendor is beyond the limit of congressional power. Congress cannot pass laws willy nilly. The authority to pass laws must be premised on constitutional authority. Congress has for years regulated unchallenged, all sorts of economic activity using its powers under the commerce clause. Congress’ power under the commerce clause was employed to break the back of Jim Crow in the old South. Even a mom and pop motel that refused to admit blacks could be compelled to do so, never mind the fact that it was a lone motel with a dozen rooms off the interstate . Congress has used its commerce clause power to clamp down on all sorts of activity of which it disapproved. The commerce power has been the fall back position over the years; so broadly interpreted by the court that its reach and scope are enormous. It is akin to using the IRS to bring down Al Capone. It is the constitutional provision of last resort.
Social Security and Medicaid are not voluntary either.
Americans cannot opt out of social security or Medicaid either but these programs have been upheld by the court. The problem is this. In every other instance, the power under the commerce clause has been used to regulate economic activity. The government’s position is that without forced participation in the program, people will not purchase insurance until they become ill. And the decision not to purchases insurance would have an impact on commerce. The problem for the government is that what it is attempting to regulate is not commercial activity, but rather passivity. A person’s decision not to purchase a product, for example, is not commercial activity that may be regulated. Were it otherwise, the government could compel us to buy GM cars if it viewed the viability of GM as beneficial to the economy. It could compel us to make the choice it chooses. It is true that without full participation, the financial foundation of the plan will collapse because the revenue base will insufficient to pay for coverage for the entire pool of insured people. Usually, this argument caries the day. All the government need is a showing that its scheme is a rational way of achieving its purpose. But that argument, sufficient for the judges who earlier upheld the law, was not enough for judge Hudson. He struck down the minimum required coverage provision of the law, without which the whole scheme is not viable. The penalty for failure to buy insurance is clearly necessary to the viability of the Health Care Law. And though the provision penalizes persons who do not purchase insurance, it is necessary to the scheme and is a beneficial use of the commerce power. The problem, judge Hudson found, is that in this instance, the law violates an independent constitutional provision. It compels unwilling individuals to submit to the scheme. The decision not to buy insurance is not commercial activity, not a self-directed, affirmative act of free choice. Virginia’s argument that one’s refusal to purchase insurance is not commercial activity and does not arise out of commerce clause won the day. The imposition is a penalty, plain and simple, disguised as a tax designed to force compliance with the law’s mandate. The purpose of the regulation is purely regulation and any revenue generated is purely incidental.
Why the argument is the first place?
Most Americans would agree that America has the world’s best medical system. The problem is that it is not accessible to the vast majority of citizens who need medical help. Democrats have been trying for decades to enact universal health care law somewhat like Canada’s to make health care affordable and accessible to every citizen, rich or poor. This is the root of the problem. Republicans, who generally want limited government, look upon this program as an unwarranted expansion of governmental power, that would lead to unbridled interference with private enterprise. Social legislation, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid promote the common good. Those programs level the playing field by promoting the interests of the poor, the disadvantaged, the aged, the infirm and disabled. Republicans would rather rely on the market place to smooth over these rough edges. Under this model, people are expected to take responsibility for themselves and members of their family dependent upon them.
President Obama promised in his campaign, to fundamentally transform America. If to do that he must increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs, then so be it, because it is for the greater good. And if he cannot get the cooperation he needs, then compulsory cooperation is necessary. He sees no problem with compelling unwilling Americans to purchase insurance, because everyone will someday need health care. As far as the president is concerned, private rights must yield to the test of social expediency; they must be judged by their fruits. He meant it when he told Joe the Plumber that we must redistribute the wealth.
Getting paid to do nothing
Republicans who preach self help, individual responsibility and limited government would oppose social legislation not because they are heartless, but because they believe that is a hindrance to self help. Conferring unearned benefits on people saps their ambition and stifles initiative. The republicans have a point. I personally know a New York woman who collected welfare for nearly ten years while living in a home in Brooklyn owned by her children’s father. He was the owner of a successful hardware business in Brooklyn. She got off the dole only when Mayor Giuliani instituted “workfare” and she was required to report for work. Not long ago, an individual could be born into a family receiving welfare and never escape the grip of dependency. While in practice in New York, I had occasion to encounter tenants in city-owned buildings who, despite paying reduced rent and receiving rent money from welfare nonetheless, fell deep into arrears. One young woman told me that when she turned twenty-one she would move out and get her own budget and her own apartment; paid for, of course, with taxpayers money. She was a pitiable addict trapped on the public dole in a lifetime of dependency, every bit as powerless to kick the habit as cocaine addled drug abuser. Whoever said that the greater social loss is not squandered money, but squandered ability and character was wise indeed. Why should an able-bodied person go idle when there is work to be done?
The liberal left is so vociferous in its opposition to any encroachment on entitlements that the opposition is cowed into silence, lest they be labeled racist. Every able-bodied person subsisting on public money is an argument against free benefits. It would be far more productive and in the interest of society if the unemployed, for example, were put to work or in retraining programs , rather than simply pay them for doing nothing. We need to give people an incentive to achieve by their own labor, not have the wheels greased for them. I share this sentiment and, I cannot be accused of racism on this score.
I have had occasion to examine this issue because I am finishing a book about my upbringing. I learned lessons from growing up in a poor family in a little village with unpaved, unnamed dirt roads, attending a one room school house the size of a basketball court, and from being taught by teachers who themselves had no schooling beyond grade school. In the 60’s, where I grew up, one attended high school if one’s parents had the ability to pay the tuition. With few exceptions, if any, my contemporaries were the first in their family to be educated beyond elementary school. Yet, I believe these conditions were the driving force that stiffened our resolve and gave us the motivation needed to succeed in the wider world. Family and kinship sustained us. They were our strongest bonds, our life line. We had no welfare, no healthcare and social security or SSI. We were our parent’s social security. We were steeled by difficult circumstances. Not surprisingly, at a reunion some years back, I found a generous sprinkling of elites among my high school classmates. In graduating class of about 100 there were some who had earned PhD’s, several medical doctors, dentists and one or two lawyers. The vast majority of my classmates have advanced degrees and about 90 % have at least a bachelor’s degree. The only explanation I can see for this phenomenon is our work ethic, our motivation for self fulfillment. The circumstances of birth was not a hindrance.
Rather than villify those who call for less spending on entitlement programs, Americans will do well to heed the simple lesson that hard work makes a wealthy man. In the words of Andrew Carnegie it would be a good thing if every boy had to start in poverty and make his own way. If nothing else, that would stiffen his spine and teach the lesson that by the sweat of one’s brow one shall eat bread.
By: Reynold N, Mason JD
Atlanta, Dec. 12, 2010 - Last week, as I was stringing up the Christmas lights, my son was at the foot of the ladder handing up the decorations to me. Apparently, displeased that he was required to put up with the slight chill in the southern air, he blurted out, “why are we bothering anyway, Christ is just like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. He is not real” “Who told you that?” I demanded. “The teacher,” he replied demurely, sensing my irritation. I was furious that someone had the audacity to cast doubt on my faith. I had celebrated Christmas before I can remember.
For me it is a time to put aside old gripes and quarrels, to celebrate the season of Christ’s birth with family and friends. An ineffable spirit of joyfulness seems to grip Christians at Christmas that is not evident the previous eleven months. And they are more helpful. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations well know this and their bell ringers and collection boxes are ubiquitous this time of year. People open up their hearts and purses giving and exchanging gifts and donating to charitable causes the world over. We Christians call this the Christmas spirit. I was not about to brook an affront to my faith and, not from a teacher. She had no business raising questions about my basic assumptions. I resolved to have a tete a tete with her. The problem for me was that I had never been challenged to defend my faith because I grew up in a family that was devoutly christian, in a country that was 95 percent catholic. What to say to this teacher and turn back her blasphemy I had no clue. I have never thought about the matter, it had never been put in doubt or questioned in my entire life until this moment. The birth of Christ is central to my faith but I had no idea how to confront this doubting Thomasina. The gospels tell of Christ’s miracles, death and resurrection. But I could not quote the gospel to a non believer. That would just beg the question. I needed something more, if I was to convince her that I had not lived my entire life animated by an irrational and absurd superstition. Christ is no Santa Claus he is real and I was going to show her.
I dug into a book on apologetics by a renowned professor of religion from Boston college and scoured the internet for something I could use as proof that Christ lived and rose from the dead. One world-renowned professor, after studying the matter for over 700 hours, says he was not able to explain away the resurrection of Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ, was arrested adjudged a political criminal and sentenced to death by crucifixion. Three days after he was buried some women went to his tomb and found the body gone. In the weeks following, the disciples claimed that Christ appeared to them many times before ascending into heaven. This seems fantastic but there were people alive at the time this claim was being and they could simply have come forward and denounced it as a fraud. If a story ran on the news that there was a fire on your street and you saw no evidence of a fire when you got home, you would know that the story was false. You and your neighbors could put the lie to the story and force the paper to issue a correction. Why did no one come forward to challenge the claims of the disciples?
Then there was Matthew, Mark, Luke and john who themselves were witnesses or related eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. The Romans did not want the resurrection story circulating about the empire. They were persecuting followers of Christ who were preaching the resurrection. Why did they not simply produce the body and expose the whole thing as a fraud, the way the FBI puts a stash of seized cocaine on the news when they make a bust? People who opposed Christianity would have gone to great lengths to expose the lie like a couple in bitter divorce battle. The body of Christ was wrapped in linen according to Jewish custom, and placed in the tomb with a large stone blocking the entrance. The Roman seal was placed on the tomb and guards stationed at the entrance to keep thieves from stealing the valuables from the tomb. (Mat: 27; 59-66) Anyone bent on larceny would have to overpower the guards, break the seal and move the rock. That would be like breaking into Fort Knox. Yet three days later the tomb was empty.
Saul of Tarsus made a career of persecuting Christians until Christ appeared to him. He recounts in his writings that Christ appeared to over 500 people, many of whom were still alive when Paul wrote. Yet none of these people called Paul a liar. One professor points out that the Romans called up the equivalent of the FBI and CIA to investigate and find the culprits, who had broken the seal, but no one was ever apprehended and the crime remains unsolved. Had the culprit been caught it would have meant automatic execution. Even the apostles were afraid of this possibility. Some of them went into hiding and Peter denied knowing Christ at the trial. (Mark: 14:16)
On that first Easter morning people who went to the tomb were awe struck when they saw the position of the stone that had been lodged at the entrance of the tomb. The massive stone had been moved. Those who observed it reported that it appeared it had been picked up and carried away. The disciples were very reluctant to believe that Jesus was alive again when the women reported what they had seen. "Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them" (Luke 24:10, 11). Thomas response was, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). These men knew that when someone died, they were dead. Thomas was no fool. And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst. But they were startled and frightened and thought they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet that it is I myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 23:36-39)
How could the disciples or anyone else have eluded the guards, move the massive rock and make off with the body? Skeptics have suggested that the guards were bribed or maybe left their posts. But one professor points out that in those days, the penalty for such an offense by a Roman soldier was death. And one method of death was stripping the condemned man of his clothes and setting him on fire. It wouldn't be wowth the risk for a soldier to go AWOL.
The events surrounding the life and death of Christ didn't occur at a place where we can gain no knowledge of them. Rather, they occurred in history, on earth, and were recorded by men who witnessed the events. Prof. Josh McDowell notes that in the first century AD most people could not read much less write. Paper (parchment) was expensive. The National Enquirer could not have been published in those times; Writing was an expensive and highly regarded art. It is unlikely that all of the writers would have engaged in the expense of writing to disseminate a myth. This is no less remarkable for us today than it was for them. And we can understand their reluctance to accept Him. But they came to believe that they had witnessed something unique as Jesus appeared to them many times over a period of forty days. These experiences had a profound impact on their lives, and continue to impact the lives of people the world over. That is the source of my belief and the font of what we know as the Christmas Spirit. Thanks to Professors McDowell and Kreeft. I now know my faith is well-founded. No need to confront the doubting Thomas-ina. Christ is not like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny He is real.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Nov.22, 2010. Last week across the country DREAM act supporters mobilized, holding rallies from California to New York to get legislators to vote the bill into law in this session of congress. Students at UCLA and Cal State held rallies joined by faculty and staff to keep the pressure on lawmakers and nudge those still on the fence to push the bill over the final hurdle. In New York, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus joined several pro- immigration groups at a rally in Brooklyn.
But Dream Act opponents are pushing back. Senator Jeff Sessions last Thursday released a “Dream Alert” drawing attention to what he feels are controversial parts of the proposed law. The alert lists ten issues the senator has with the bill as it now stands. The alert points out that the bill does not require the alien to finish any type of college program as a condition of amnesty. Those who oppose amnesty are quick to point out that aliens who benefit from DREAM can then sponsor their parents and extended family, thereby rewarding with legal status those who broke the law by bringing them into the country. “Some of these immigrants are compelling cases, no doubt about it," said one spokesman, "but you've got to draw some lines a lot narrower than the DREAM Act draws them. This is about giving millions of illegal aliens permanent work permits, and I don't think in this economy that this is a very happy time to be doing that."
The national organization, ALIPAC, which has helped defeat Dream Act Amnesty legislation on prior occasions, is activating national network to direct American citizens into political action against this current version of Dream Act. ALIPAC is asking supporters to get on the phones to members of Congress and the Senate to demand "No Dream Act Amnesty! Focus on Jobs for Americans! Enforce our existing immigration and border laws like most of you promised during the elections!" The problem for most opponents is that the bill will extend amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, encouraging further illegality and making it more difficult to develop a fair and workable immigration policy. Arizona Senator John McCain, a previous supporter of the DREAM act, now says that immigration reform must take place first. He is no longer supports the act. McCain has said he “understands and sympathizes” with the situation of those who would benefit from the act, but feels that the act should not be separate from immigration reform legislation. Democrats, who still hold the majority in the house, if they are to succeed this time in making DREAM law, must put aside their squabbles over leadership, and turn their attention to the business at hand while the levers of power are yet in their grasp.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta Nov. 19, 2010. Immigration advocates are abuzz this week because of the news coming from the DREAM battleground in the senate. Senator Harry Reid, keeping his campaign promise made on the eve of his reelection, has reintroduced the DREAM Act in the senate. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are doing their part. Their representatives met with president Obama this week to nudge him forward and perhaps persuade him to back DREAM now. After the meeting the White House released a statement reasserting the president's support for the bill and calling on lawmakers to move it to a vote before this session concludes.
A tight schedule
The rush of activity is due to the tight schedule and the very narrow window of opportunity with which DREAM proponents must contend. Only 15 legislative days remain in this session. And come January when republicans take the reins of power in the house, they are likely to focus on the “Bush tax cuts” and other issues of more import to their base. The new congressional cast will, without a doubt, set different priorities, and DREAM does not figure to be at the top of their legislative agenda.
The majority of republicans elected in the midterms will likely join their colleagues turning their attention to border security and other enforcement measures. In the senate there are new faces untried and untested on the immigration battlefield. Their support is uncertain. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware and Mike Kirk of Illinois will be seated in this session. Kirk, in the debates leading up to the election, made clear his opposition to easing immigration restrictions. Some of the republican players in the senate who supported the bill in 2007 are still on the stage. But their commitment to the bill, after the last election, is now far from certain. Eleven republicans voted for DREAM in 2007. But some have retired or been replaced by new comers who may be unsympathetic to the bill. Comprehensive immigration was defeated 52-44 in 2007. It takes 60 votes to get cloture and move DREAM to a vote on the senate floor. Mr. Reid will need “a few good republicans” to join forces with him, assuming the democratic forces hold firm. All that changes come January. There are 58 democrats and 40 republicans now in the U.S. senate; senators Lieberman and Sanders are independents.
Objections to DREAM
The version of the bill proposed by President George W. Bush in 2007 was opposed by some who felt it would reward those who broke the law entering the country illegally. Labor unions opposed it because of its guest worker program; and Hispanics spoke out in opposition because they felt it would create an underclass of migrant laborers. Employers were opposed because the bill scrapped H- visas for highly skilled workers. The lessons learned from this failure must be put to good use if there is to be hope for DREAM this time around. Proponents must move in the direction of stricter enforcement of present immigration laws. Without that. polls tell us, Americans will be unwilling to confer any benefit on illegal immigrants, not even the innocent children the DREAM act is designed to help.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Nov. 17, 2010. The critically important years of adolescence have become a time of peril for uncounted numbers of families in the US today. Take the case of Jessica Colotol, who was sentenced to jail last week in Atlanta, Georgia. She was arrested on a traffic violation that led authorities to discover her illegal status. Jessica will be allowed to finish her degree at Kennesaw State University but she faces deportation. Or take the case of Marcela Velazquez, a top high school at a Tucson Arizona high school, who hopes to study medicine. When Marcela was about to graduate she did what most college- bound high school graduates do. She began her search for a college that suits her career aspirations. For Marcella and Jessica, the past and the future collided when a road block was thrown in their path. They are undocumented students brought here as children by their parents. Now that they are adolescents the actions of their parents have come back to haunt them as ghosts from the immigration netherworld. They are unable to get a driver’s license, a summer job or a scholarship to college. According to a study by Pew Hispanic Center, 65,000 high school graduates each year, find themselves in the same quandary as Jessica and Marcela. The resourceful ones who get by this detour, face the daunting prospect of facing down document checkers at employment agencies and corporate human resources departments. It is an unenviable situation in which young people can find themselves because they were brought to the US illegally by parents when they were children. The DREAM Act is the best hope for undocumented youth trapped in this conundrum. They have no lobby and cannot vote, so this bill is perhaps their only hope of redemption.
Lemonade from Lemon
But given the mood of the country prospects for the DREAM Act are grim indeed. An article in this publication, titled: The Dream Act; supporters had better wake up just last week, laid out why comprehensive immigration reform (CIR ) may not be possible in the current toxic political environment. But DREAM can be guided through congress if its supporters use political wisdom. They must make lemonade from lemons; they must play the hand that they were dealt in the last election; they must cease to be immigration deniers. The writing has been on the wall but, it has been misread by those who would rather engage in wishful denial of the reality of the immigration climate. Over the past twelve months, dozens of states have passed or proposed laws that make life more difficult for illegal immigrants. Arizona is the most notorious, but is by no means the only state fed up with sorry state of our immigration system. The do-nothing attitude of the federal government has led states and localities to take matters into their own hands. The mood of the country and, the political climate must be factored into strategies to get Dream passed.
A study by Zogby, commissioned by the Center for Immigration Studies, found that the view of minority voters on the issue of immigration is more complex than advocates believe. 61% of Hispanics think that immigration enforcement is inadequate. 70% of blacks and 69% of Asians harbor the same sentiment. These voters disagree with the leadership of immigration advocacy groups who oppose enforcement measures. There is a gap in perception between what minority voters want and reality. They want enforcement and less immigration. Immigration advocates who beat down every proposed enforcement measure are offering their own personal opinion, not those of the voters and their communities. The majority of Americans support enforcement and oppose amnesty. Voters sent to congress, lawmakers who have expressed anti-immigration views. And this includes such high profile Hispanics as Suzanna Martinez and, Brian Sandoval, governors–elect of New Mexico and Nevada, respectively, and senator-elect Marco Rubio of Florida, all of whom are Hispanic and, all of whom are strong supporters of immigration enforcement. In fact, governors-elect Martinez and Sandoval both support the Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, and other measures to tamp down on illegal immigration.
Surveys and polls on this issue are unequivocal. Pulse Opinion Research LLC in 2009 found that 78% of Americans oppose amnesty and 88% of blacks do. Rasmussen Reports in a survey in June of 2009, found that 71% of Americans want those who hire illegals arrested and, 64% support surprise raids to arrest illegal workers. The American Council for Immigration Reform in its 2009 survey found, that 78% of Americans believe immigration has a negative impact on the cost and quality of health care and other social services. It found that 78% opposed amnesty. And CNN/Opinion Research Corp. in its poll reports, that 73% of Americans called for a drop in the number of illegal immigrants. Even more telling is a Washington Post/ABC News poll which found that 74% of the electorate thinks the government is not doing enough to keep illegals from coming into the country. Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio, notorious for his round up of illegal immigrants in Arizona polls show, is viewed favorably by the majority of Americans who believe that his policies have a positive impact on Arizona’s image. Across the board, according the Rasmussen Poll (May 2009) Americans are not in favor of making life any easier for illegal immigrants. Immigration advocates must deal with this reality.
Time to change strategy
Americans have made their feelings manifest. They are not about to ease up on illegal immigrants whom, rightly or wrongly, they blame for some of the nation’s ills. But as a people, Americans are mindful of the fact that ours is a country of immigrants. They would support an orderly system of immigration which grants relief to those already here; provided they are assured they will not be asked to grant amnesty again in 10 years to more illegals who slipped through our porous borders. They want the problem solved once and for all.
While the election results are not encouraging, they do not necessarily spell doom for Dream and comprehensive immigration reform. But immigration advocates must align their advocacy with the expressed desire of the electorate. To advocate against the grain is not just elitist it is myopic. The strategy needed is expressed in an old platitude: when the law is on your side, argue the law; when the facts are on your side argue the facts. It is time immigration advocates to change the tone of the immigration debate and adopt a conciliatory stance that conveys the impression that they are ready to compromise; that they are now ready to accede to the will of the majority of Americans, Hispanics included, who demand that our laws be enforced.
The argument cannot reasonably be made that lack of enforcement would solve our immigration problem. Sanctuary cities where illegals are insulated from the consequences of their illegal conduct encourages illegal immigration, not curtail it. These humanitarian policies, laudable though they are, exacerbate the problem. People will go where they feel safe from the long arm of the law. The liberal message of open borders and no enforcement does not resonate with Americans. And pushing it is a prescription for failure. In fact election results indicate that this approach repels voters and drives them in droves into the embrace of the anti immigration side of the issue. This is a misguided strategy and it hurts the cause of countless young people who see DREAM as their last best hope.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta. Nov, 14, 2010 - There are just a few weeks left before the 111th congress adjourns. And someone needs to inform Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the current leaders of the house and senate of that little fact. Pelosi's reign as legislator-in-chief lording over her minions of house democrats ends come January when the 112th congress is gaveled into session by the new power broker John Boehner. Yet she and Mr. Reid are rushing helter skelter to bring the DREAM Act up for a vote in the little time remaining. Like students in the last five minutes of a final examination, they are attempting to erase and correct answers on the answer sheet even after the proctor has announced the end of the examination and is about to collect the answer sheets.
They have had time to consider and act on DREAM and Comprehensive Immigration reform, and like the unprepared student, they have failed. Mr. Reid, last September, in the heat of a re-election fight that many thought he would not survive, attached the DREAM Act to the defense authorization bill. It was a political ploy designed to earn him credits with Hispanics in his district. It worked. He won re-election with two-thirds of the Hispanics giving him their backing. His introducing DREAM again in the lame duck session of a congress that has been reconfigured by voters is but a cynical “thank you” nod in the direction of Hispanics to whom he promised on an election eve broadcast of Univision, that he would bring the act up for a vote before congress adjourns.
An exercise in futility
Dream supporters should be concerned. Had Mr. Reid had the political courage, he might have done a year ago, when he had control of the senate and had a democratic congress and president who had promised support for immigration reform, what he proposes to do now, when it is but an exercise in futility. Pushing the bill now, is like serving a cold dish at the supper table. Those who are hungry may eat it, but it is much less palatable. Ill-conceived political grandstanding such as this will doom the DREAM act.
The DREAM act is a commonsense piece of legislation that ought to become the law of the land. And this could happen, but those pushing the bill must change their approach to the entire immigration issue. It’ time to face facts. Democrats who, by and large, support the bill squandered their best opportunity to enact DREAM in this congress. Their political will was debilitated by the healthcare fight and a golden opportunity was lost, perhaps for good.
Republicans will rule the house in the 112th congress and for all intents and purposes, they will literally rule the senate a well. Those democrats who managed to beat back the republican assault on the senate will lack any incentive to push DREAM. Twenty-three of their number face re-election in just two years. Having witnessed the “shellacking” their colleagues suffered at the hands of republicans in November, these democrats are not likely to touch any hot button issues.
The political calculus will be a major factor for any democrat who must face voters in 2012. DREAM backers must bear this in mind. Political survival is the raison d' etre of the lawmaker, so democrats in moderate states such as Missouri, Nebraska and Montana who are facing re-election will likely take a pass on DREAM. And, let’s not forget Joe Manchin of West Virginia, He won election in a squeaker by putting as much distance as he could between himself and president Obama, even suing the Obama administration over coal removal in West Va. He too faces voters in two years.
The cold hard facts
The 112th congress will have newly elected lawmakers who are outspoken opponents of immigration reform that includes amnesty, or as democrats call it, “a path to citizenship”. Pro-immigration lawmakers would have to contend with the likes of Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, who as mayor of Hazleton, Pa. became a national cult figure to anti- immigration lobby by proposing a bill that would have made it unlawful to rent to illegal aliens.
Barletta, in all likelihood would be joined by a fair number of tea party congressmen and women who are hawkish on immigration. What makes the outlook for comprehensive immigration even more grim is the prospect that the immigration subcommittee will likely be headed by Rep. Steven King of Ohio. He favors changing the birthright citizenship law to deny U.S. citizenship to children of illegal aliens, and he supports the notorious Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, that will allow authorities to demand papers of persons stopped for any infraction of law.
The notorious words of Harry Reid “I don’t see how anyone of Hispanic heritage can be a republican” rings hollow. On November 2, 2010 republican Marco Rubio, of Florida was elected to the senate. He is Hispanic. And so were governors elect of New Mexico, Suzanna Martinez and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, both Hispanics and both republicans. They both support the Arizona immigration law and other measures considered anti-immigrant. Ms. Martinez proposes to deny driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Certainly, the label “anti-immigrant” or “racist” will no longer stick. In congressional races too, the tide swept into office lawmakers who are hawkish on immigration. In, Texas 23rd, for example, which shares a long border with Mexico, Quico Canseco unseated pro- immigration congressman Ciro Rodriguez. Mr. Canseco is republican and opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and supports deportation of criminal aliens. (Wikipedia.org/Canseco) This pattern of pro-immigration democrats going down in defeat to republicans hawkish on immigration, played out in congressional races across the country. Those supporting DREAM and Comprehensive immigration reform must take heed. Hispanic voters are not single issue robots. In fact, Pew Hispanic center, in ((a recent survey found that immigration ranked 5th in importance out of 7 issues among registered Hispanic voters)). A post-election survey by the Center for Immigration Studies, found that Hispanic support for republicans with expressed anti immigration stances was surprisingly strong. In 2006 and 2008 republicans garnered 29% and 30% of the Hispanic vote respectively. This election followed the same trend. Meg Whitman in California won 29 %, Carly Fiorina 28% and Sharon Angle 30% of the Hispanic vote. Even Arizona governor Jan Brewer, the force behind the tough, notorious anti-immigrant law, won 28% of the Hispanic vote. And despite all of his pro-immigration pronouncements, Senator Harry Reid won 68% of the Hispanic vote this year; in 2004 he won 67 %. It is time those who support immigration reform face the new reality and plot a new course towards immigration reform. All is lost if they should fail to do so.
Next in the series; new strategies to win passage of Dream.
By Reynold N. Mason
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, DREAM, was first introduced in 2001. If it becomes law, alien students who graduate from high school, have no criminal record and entered the U.S. before age 16 can become legal residents, if they have lived here for 5 years. They will be given the opportunity to earn conditional legal status by serving 2 years in the military or completing 2 years of college. The bill, known as the Dream Act, died last September, just before the midterm elections, but it can and should pass in the new congress despite the naysayers. But in order to shepherd this piece of humanitarian legislation through congress its proponents must display some political savvy. It was foolhardy to push Harry Reid to attach Dream to the defense authorization bill last September, when it was evident that it had no chance of passage. It may have made supporters of the bill feel good but it squandered political capital. Predictably not a single republican supported the bill. But Mr. Reid scored political points on the eve of his tough re-election fight. Hispanics, who make up more than 25 % of the population of Nevada, Mr. Reid’s home state, rewarded him with two thirds of their vote according to exit polls. This was a big factor in his re-election. Reid now owes a political debt to all those who supported his successful re-election bid. Proponents of DREAM must be sure to collect on that debt.
Will Republicans support DREAM?
Just a few days before his bruising re-election battle against Sharon Angle, Mr. Reid sat down with Jorge Ramos of Univision for an interview. When pressed on the issue, he promised to introduce DREAM in the lame duck session of congress. “We support DREAM”, he said “I just need a few republicans to help me” (The Hill 11/01/10). Republicans will control the house come January and the democrats do not have a filibuster- proof majority in the senate so political tight rope walking will be necessary. The bill has the support of most democrats, among them leaders like Dick Durbin, and Senator Schumer of New York. But now that the democratic majority in the house has been decimated, the question is, will enough republicans defect to the democratic side and back the bill?
Republicans will control the committees in the house and, come January immigration policy will in large part be in the hands of the new house speaker John Boehner, with Rep. Steven King of Ohio heading the immigration sub-committee. The republican focus has been on enforcement and border security not on a path to citizenship or legalization of those here illegally. Representative King is on record as favoring a change in birthright citizenship to keep children of illegal aliens from becoming U.S. Citizens by birth and, has voiced support for the Arizona law, SB 1070, that created a storm of controversy when it was enacted last year. But democrats who, by and large support DREAM are not entirely powerless. Senate democrats like Schumer and Durbin must lead. They along with Senator Reid must persuade their republican colleagues to back the bill. And President Obama must throw the weight of his office behind the bill. His campaign promise to push immigration reform is as yet unfulfilled.
In addition, among the newly minted batch of lawmakers who will have a say come January are, Marco Rubio, of Florida, Susanna Martinez, the first Hispanic governor of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval, governor-elect of Nevada, also Hispanic. Their states are major players in the immigration debate and they could help nudge the debate in the right direction. In key states, Hispanics constitute an increasing share of the vote, 13% in Colorado, and 38% in New Mexico, with significant voting strength in California, Nevada and Texas. The new dynamics of electoral politics in not lost on republicans. They will have to address issues of concern to Hispanics if they hope to gain control of the senate in 2012. Despite their anti-immigrant rhetoric, republicans know that there is no chance of cultivating Hispanic support unless the moderate their position on issues of concern to Hispanics. They know that the wedge issue driving the Hispanic tide in the democrats’ direction is immigration. Hispanics must use this to their advantage. They should avoid the mistake of black who vote blindly democratic. Both political parties must be made to understand that the Hispanic vote is winnable, but there must be courtship. And in order to win Hispanic support whispering sweet political nothings won’t do. They must whisper sweet DREAM.
There is hope for DREAM
The outlook for the bill is not as grim as it might appear on the surface. There are power brokers on both sides of the issue. Rep. Michael Honda of California, chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, recently told the SF Chronicle that work on Comprehensive immigration must continue. He plans to introduce an immigration bill in the next congress that will include family reunification. If they are smart, democrats like Honda can shepherd the Dream Act through congress. They must bear in mind that republicans covet the Hispanic vote and use that as leverage. They must bear in mind too that those who want enforcement and border security are not anti- immigrant nativists. It is time to stop labeling republicans as racist or anti-immigrant simply because they insist on enforcement. The Immigration and control Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to undocumented aliens, failed because in had no enforcement mechanisms, and here we are facing the issue once more as result of that defect in the law. Common sense is what will get dream passed, not grandstanding and political platitudes aimed at shoring up the Hispanic voter base.
DREAM is a social, not a political issue
Americans are fed up with our current system on piecemeal immigration laws and want something done about it. Their overwhelming support of the Arizona immigration law is an expression of frustration with the laissez- faire immigration posture of the Federal government. At least Arizona did something. Wrong or right, it was action. And that is what Americans want on the immigration question, action, not empty words aimed at the political bases of the right or the left. The problem of forgotten illegal children is not lost on Americans. But they are not likely to support the Dream Act as a stand-alone bill. They want to know that the problem is solved once and for all, and that we will not be facing a new wave of illegal immigrants who simply walk across our open borders. A recent poll by FAIR found that 69% of Americans think that immigration is an important issue and that president Obama has not been aggressive enough in enforcing our laws. Governor-elect Sandoval of Nevada, a Hispanic, supports the Arizona immigration law which allows police to ask about immigration status after they stop someone for some other infraction. He was elected in spite of his position, protests and lawsuits challenging the law notwithstanding. . And in New Mexico, governor-elect Suzanna Martinez wants to repeal the law allowing illegal aliens to obtain drivers’ licenses. She also opposes in state tuition for undocumented students. Supporters of DREAM must accept the application of our immigration laws and let the chips fall where they may. Opposing law enforcement is foolhardy and hypocritical. We cannot give cover to illegals by thwarting enforcement of our immigration laws. Bringing DREAM to the congress is crucial to the lives of young undocumented children trapped here without papers. Their dream should not be held hostage to political calculations. Some 65,000 of them graduate from high school each year. And when they do, they encounter a roadblock-- their undocumented status. These young people will become a permanent underclass consigned to the shadows of American society without the relief the bill promises. They were brought here as minors by their parents, they cannot legally work or get a driver’s license. DREAM is their only hope. “I think that it is not only the right thing to do for these students, but also the right thing to do for our country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, “In this economy, we should all be trained and prepared. These children were brought here by their parents, often as children without any choice…... America is the only country they know. They did exactly what was proposed it in their schools. Our country needs the benefit of their skills, their talent and passion”. President was correct when he said in a debate during the campaign of 2008, that these are American children for all intents and purposes. The DREAM Act is a narrow commonsense piece of legislation that would help thousands of talented children achieves their full potential by earning a college degree of serving in our military. It should become the law of the land. And it will. But its supporters will have to accept that Americans will have none of it, unless we join in supporting enforcement of our immigration laws.