By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Mar. 01 2011. Last year Wisconsinites swept Governor Scott Walker into the governor’s mansion. They did so because he promised to bring the state budget into balance. Wisconsin is running a deficit of $130 million projected for this year alone.
As part of his fiscal discipline Wisconsin’s new governor is pushing a bill aimed at corralling the runaway public employee unions. The bill which last week, passed the Wisconsin house, would eliminate most collective bargaining rights, require workers to contribute to their pensions and health insurance more than they now pay under their collective bargaining agreement with the state; eliminate automatic deduction of union dues, and future collective bargaining agreements would be limited to one year. In addition, the law requires union members to vote each year to "recertify" bargaining units. Should the bill get Senate approved, $30 million in savings would be achieved by July 1st and $300 million over the next two years. Wisconsin is staring at a budget shortfall of $3.6 billion.
Democratic Senators lacked the numbers to block the bill, so they packed their bags and fled the state. They sought political asylum in the home state of President Obama, Illinois. Their absence from the floor of the Senate denies the republicans the quorum needed to move forward with the vote. Public Sentiment toward unions has undergone a transformation over the last decade. Unions have seen declining membership. It is becoming more and more evident that unions are at odds with the general taxpaying citizens of the State, who foot the bill for their pensions and other benefits. They are at war with the common good, not with some greedy, money grabbing, capitalist conglomerate.
When the going got tough the democrats got going. They are still gone. How long they intend to persist in this crass dereliction of the duty they were elected to carry out is anyone’s guess. Sad to say, the virus is spreading. Ohio and Indiana legislators hit the road as well, their object; hinder the passage of common sense fiscal measures. If they can’t have their way, they’ll take their bat and leave. They will not play ball unless they dictate the rules of the game. What these “flee baggers” fail to note, is that the people have spoken. “We the people” are their bosses, and they are our public servants, there to do our bidding until we say otherwise at the next election. These “flee baggers” need to get back to work and do the job we pay them to do. I don’t know of any employee who survived long enough to have any seniority by defying his boss. That is precisely what these democrats are doing.
When we put democrats in charge, they run the place into the ditch. Now, the State house is under new management, and they have only just begun to clean up the profligate spending mess bequeathed to them. Why would democrats go to such extreme on behalf of public employee unions? The facts are crystal clear. Wisconsin is bankrupt. It must cut costs just like any other growing concern. That means the over-compensated government employees must be brought to account. A course correction is long overdue. But the democrats lacked the political will to make the tough choices. Why put their $millions from the union lobby at risk?
Governor Walker is not alone. Tennessee, Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, Idaho, and Iowa are considering like measures to reign in public employee unions. Every dime spent on a teacher’s union means ten cents less for students. To really understand the undercurrent driving these protests, keep in mind that many millions of dollars of union members’ dues have been spent to fuel the Democratic Party in past elections.
The AFL-CIO, whose president Richard Trumka is orchestrating much of the protests in Madison this week, donated $1.2 million to Democrats in 2008 and $900,000 in 2010.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees donated $2.6 million to the Democrats in 2008 and another $2.6 million in 2010.
The National Education Association donated $2.3 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.2 million in 2010.
The Teamsters union donated $2.4 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.3 million in 2010.
The SEIU donated $2.6 million to Democrats in 2008 and $1.7 million in 2010, and on and on the list goes. (See: http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/19/unions-fuel-democratic-party-financially/) Dues deducted from employees paychecks are essentially laundered through public employee unions and then channeled to democratic candidates. The taxpaying public has finally awakened to alarm bells sounding everywhere. The democrats have emptied the treasury vault and now they have fled to escape their reckoning.
The first face-to-face meeting between Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, one of the first governors to stand up to unions, and the president of the state’s powerful teachers’ union ended in acrimony. There was even a memo with a wish for the governor’s death. Iowa governor, Terry Barnstead, says a contract that grants government employees 15 percent raises and free health care is squeezing taxpayers. These contracts have limited states’ ability to respond to the fallout from the economic downturn. “The death grip that the public-employee unions have had on the process in many states and sometimes nationally is a very big part of the deficit and debt problem that we’re facing at both levels,” says Indiana governor, Mitch Daniels. Raises and free health care is squeezing taxpayers.
The concept of unions as a protector of abused employees is a thing of the past. They may have a place in some industries, but government work isn’t one of them. Paying campaign expenses and then sitting down at the negotiating table with your candidate to negotiate a union contract is a farce. The practice should be a crime. The bigger felony is that unions do not have the interest of taxpayers at heart. When Governor Christie met with the teachers’ union and suggested it waive dues for a year, the reply was a resounding “NO.” And in the next breath came the suggestion “raise taxes”. Tax and spend.
The demise of Michelle Rhee is a classic case of union vengeance. While praises were heaped upon this stellar administrator for making the failing D.C schools better, the unions were organizing to get her and the Mayor who appointed her, because she fired bad teachers. Unions defeated Mayor Fenny, and Michelle Rhee moved on. A giant step backwards for the D.C’s failing schools public schools.
This is D day for the unions. They have mobilized the troops in all 50 states to protest The audacity of taxpayers who want their fiscal house in order. Labor unions long ago lost sight of their mission. They have been rendered redundant. The proliferation of labor laws enacted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have had the effect of the polio vaccine. So effective have they been, and so solicitous of worker rights, that the plague of worker exploitation, low pay and poor working conditions have gone the way of polio. The vaccine developed to fight those conditions, unions, has now been rendered redundant by very the plethora of legislation to which it gave birth. There is bereavement leave, the Family Medical Leave (FMLA) which allows leave for an adoption, maternity, and paternity; there is a leave of absence, paid holidays, and vacation benefits. If a member is laid off there is unemployment insurance and, worker’s compensation if a worker is injured on the job. The rules are all encompassing; not a nook of the employer- employee relationship escapes the broad sweep of the union’s protective compass. Even breaks, paid overtime, rest time, smoke time, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks are regulated and circumscribed. And shop stewards are ever present to school the uninitiated in the proper application of the rules for maximum effect. The job of the public employee union is done. It is time they pack up their bullhorns and leave. The gravy train has come to the final stop; Bankruptcy Station. All unions off please.
By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta, Feb. 25th 2011. There was a time when public employees had poor pay, long hours, working conditions that were exploitive, and were generally paid less than their private sector workers. But that was a long time ago. Unions once served a useful purpose. They fought for and won a forty hour work week, overtime pay for work beyond forty hours, vacation time, sick time, and comp time. They had a hand in getting worker’s compensation law enacted, so that a worker injured on the job did not lose everything when he was hurt. Today there are federal laws that protect workers from discrimination based on sex, age, and religion. OSHA is an ever-present eye on the lookout for safety hazards in the workplace.
The Wisconsin law is a good start
In Wisconsin, Governor Walker has proposed a law, which passed the house of representatives passed on Friday, February 25th 2011, that would severely limit the power of public employee unions in Wisconsin. The law would require workers to contribute to their pensions and health insurance more than they now pay under their collective bargaining agreement with the state. Automatic deduction of union dues would end, and future collective bargaining agreements would be limited to one year. In addition, the law requires union members to vote each year to "recertify" bargaining units. The unions have pulled out all the stops. Teachers have stayed away from their classrooms and union activists have staged demonstrations aimed at turning back the legislation. It passed the house but democratic members of the state senate fled the state and are in hiding in the sister state of Illinois.
Today public employees have their bread buttered, thanks to union activism over the last half century. The plight of municipal employees fifty years ago, bears no resemblance to that of today’s. workers. Today a police officer in Nassau County, New York earns an annual compensation package of about $190,000. And they get days off with pay for rolling up their sleeves and donating a pint of blood to the American Red Cross. Over the years the public employee union has sucked the life out of the taxpaying citizens, almost to the brink of bankruptcy. New York and several sister states are deep in the red and unable to meet their employee benefit obligations. It might surprise readers to learn that public employee unions are a relatively recent phenomenon. Roger Lowenstein has written the best account of the phenomenon that I have been able to find. Public employees were not allowed unions because no one viewed their government as an abusive, thieving capitalist out for money. But a seismic shift occurred when, in 1958, New York mayor Robert Wagner, realized that city workers made up a large block of voters, large enough to get him re-elected. He signed an executive order that authorized city workers to unionize. Other politicians of his ilk followed suit. By now the number of people working for the government had grown quite large. Being good vote counters, these politicians saw union workers as a pool of votes. Cities around the country began allowing City workers to join unions, and the government-union complex was born.
Today’s unions have become so powerful that they can paralyze a business with a strike. The UAW could, and has shut down GM and Ford to extract booty for their dues paying hoards. JFK in the 60’s allowed Federal workers to unionize. By the time Reagan came into office The Professional Air traffic Controllers Association, (PATCO) was so powerful that it could shut down the entire air transportation system of the US with a strike. PATCO struck, but President Reagan brought the hammer down. All strikers were fired and the union decertified. Way to go Ronnie. The problem with public employee unions is that once they get large enough, there is no limit to the obligations with which they saddle the City and State. The money and benefit these unions bleed from the State is hidden in plain sight. It is long term health care and fat pensions, paid for with taxpayers’ money. It is harder for Joe Taxpayer to figure out that a bus driver making $70,000 a year is really earning $130,000 because he or she can retire at the age of 41, as in the case in Boston. The unions have developed the savvy of an experienced pickpocket. The tax- paying public never knows when it is being fleeced. The pensions and health benefits are pushed back far enough into the future to be completely out of today’s economic equation.
Public employee pension is a disaster not waiting to happen. The disaster has happened and, in its wake lays the corpses of bankrupt cities and states. All but a pathetic handful of states are now insolvent. They are forced to borrow to make up the large deficits caused, in large part, by unions and their ‘over the top’ demands. It is time for cities and states to examine the things that have gotten us in this mess, and that is just what governor Walker has done. But the unions view this as a threat to their well-feathered nest and, joined by like-minded fellow unionists from everywhere, are battling to keep the gravy train from coming to a stop. But stop it must or Wisconsin is doomed. The state faces a deficit this year in the $billions. Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey and California are in the same predicament. It is disingenuous of these unions, to pretend that they have been blindsided. Walker campaigned on this very issue and voting taxpayers elected him to bring fiscal sanity back to the process. He is doing just that. The election is over. He won.
Unions in their heyday in the 1950’s extracted so much from Chrysler Ford and GM that these giants, “The Big Three,” once on top of the Fortune 500, are now bankrupt. GM is now owned by the UAW and the government. Reasonably people need to look at public sector unions in the context of these economic problems. The absurdity of union demands was brought home to me some years ago, when I happened upon a young woman on the Brooklyn Bridge waving a flag to divert traffic around the construction. She was a flag woman and all she did was waive the caution flag to alert motorists. She was paid $28.00 per hour, union scale as compensation for her exertion, plus benefits of course.
It is time we stop these unions from pushing the rest of us around, while at the same time raiding our nearly empty treasuries. At every contract negotiation, unions push for more pay and more benefits, all the while holding essential public services hostage. Teachers in Wisconsin are staying away from classes, using phony sick notes from sympathetic doctors. It is next to impossible to fire a lousy teacher, because the union will throw tenure at you. They want job security regardless of effectiveness, competency or efficiency.
The public sector unions need to be stopped. They are antithetical to our democratic ideals. What we have in this country is representative government, a process of accommodating the interest of different groups, through institutional arrangements such as the legislature. In setting the public policy, Governor Walker must consider the numerous opinions and interests of all the people of Wisconsin. He must accommodate the wishes of the majority of the citizens of his state. The very fact of quadrennial elections, carry with it, acceptance of the idea of representation of the needs and interests of the people as expressed in the polls. Unions hamper this process by demanding more than their fair share and with their collective bargaining agreements, ties the hands of those elected to see to it that the interests of their constituents are protected. This arrangement does not respect the role of the collective preference of the taxpayers of Wisconsin. We should all wish Governor Walker the best of luck.
by Reynold N. Mason, JD
Atlanta Feb. 20, 2011- According to a report in Politico on February 7th long-time amnesty supporters, Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer are reuniting to push “comprehensive” immigration reform in the Senate. They have reached out to several organizations in the open-borders lobby including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and numerous evangelical groups. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was one of three Republicans voting in favor of the DREAM Act last session, also confirmed that aides in Sen. Schumer’s office contacted her staff to discuss the issue. Both Senators Graham and Schumer have indicated that the talks are merely in its opening round and that reigniting their coalition may take some effort in the new Congress. “It’s in the infant stage,” Sen. Graham told Politico “I don’t know what the political appetite is to do something.” Schumer shares Graham’s sentiment, “What we’re doing is beginning these preliminary talks, particularly with outside groups, to try and regain the consensus that was pretty nicely formed last year.” “And who knows, we might surprise everyone and get something done. We realize it is a tough thing to do, but it is very important, and it’s worth a shot.” he said.
Graham and Schumer may be hoping to capitalize on the fact that five Senators have already announced they will not seek re-election in 2012—the same number of votes by which the DREAM Act failed in December. For example, at a news conference announcing that he would not seek re-election next cycle, Sen. Jon Kyl told the Arizona Republic on February 11, that immigration reform is “one of the top items on the agenda” and said there may be an opportunity in the next two years “to tackle that in a productive way.” Yet, in a subsequent interview Sen. Kyl backtracked, saying that he was not referring to “comprehensive” immigration reform and that going down such a road again would be a “dead-end.” Other Senators not seeking re-election in 2012 include Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jim Webb of Virginia and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Senator Graham and Schumer’s efforts come on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union Address where he urged members of Congress to “address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.” But, even with the support of the White House and the Senate, it is doubtful that an amnesty bill by Graham and Schumer would survive in the House this legislative session. Such a bill would likely have to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith an ardent supporter of immigration enforcement. At a House Immigration Subcommittee hearing last fall, Smith stated: “Some people say that we need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S., but citizenship is the greatest honor our country can bestow. It shouldn’t be sold to lawbreakers for the price of a fine.” “Amnesty will enable illegal workers to depress wages and take jobs away from American citizens and legal immigrants,” he said. We could see an amnesty bill if democrats move on enforcement. Stay tuned.
By: Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Feb. 19, 2011 It has been nearly nine years since New York City placed a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. Just last week the New York City Council voted to ban smoking in parks and beaches. Many feel the government is beginning to control more and more of our daily lives. Smoking will be banned in 1,700 parks and on 14 miles of beaches. “I truly believe government is being too restrictive in his particular matter,” said Robert Jackson, Democrat of Harlem.
“It’s a totalitarian society that’s going to have this type of restrictions … As someone who wants to breathe clean air, I think we are going too far and being intrusive.” Said 25-year-old New Yorker, George, the city is taking it too far. I think it’s ridiculous”. No one doubts that indulging in the habit of smoking tobacco is bad for one’s health, and even the health of non-smokers in the smoker’s immediate environment. That fact has been established for years. Every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S bears the ominous warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health. Only the blind would miss the reams of anti-smoking literature cluttering our printed media.
The Mayor has turned his anti-smoking zeal into a crusade
When it comes to smoking, some, like Mayor Bloomberg of New York, have turned their zeal into a take no prisoners crusade, designed to banish smoking from civil society, trampling peoples freedoms in the process. Mayor Bloomberg, a reformed smoker, having learned his lesson, aims to teach it to all New Yorkers, willing or not. In 2003, he implemented a ban on smoking indoors. Many people had serious concerns that the indoor smoking ban infringed the rights of property owners, to whom the law leaves decisions as to what use an owner makes their property, so long as that use does fly in the face of the law. But the indoor smoking ban has something going for it. It has some connection, tenuous though it is, with the health of the people who are employed in establishments that allow smoking. But now, the Mayor, is on a tear.
He, along with fellow billionaire, Bill Gates has tossed $500,000 of his own money into the burning issue of tobacco smoking. He has launched the Bloomberg Initiative which aims to banish the habit like the plague. As they say, charity begins at home. So where better to snuff out the cancer sticks than the Mayor’s own fiefdom, New York City. With utmost fervor, the Mayor has extended his smoking ban outdoors, to City parks and all 14 miles of New York City’s beaches, and other public spaces. He wants not a whiff of smoke in the open air. If you can smell it, it could be killing you.
Soot and smoke from exhaust pipes can kill you as well
I grant Mr. Mayor, that my decision to smoke should not put the health of my neighbor at risk. But the ban on smoking in parks at beaches and other outdoor areas goes too far. Let’s face it, were we that concerned about the risk of smoke as a carcinogen in the environment, Manhattan would be as deserted as the Sahara during rush hour. Soot and smoke coming from exhaust pipes are among the most deadly forms of airborne pollution. U.S. cars and light trucks alone account for more energy-related CO2 than the nationwide emissions of all but four other countries in the world (China, Russia, Japan, and India). It smacks of hypocrisy to single out trace amounts of cigarette smoke as the single pollutant in the air deserving of the full force of the Mayor’s bile. Even more quixotic, the crusader- in- chief is bleeding smokers while, at the same time banishing them from public view. The Mayor hates the player but loves the game.
But where there’s smoke, there’s taxes. New York has the highest cigarette taxes in the country. Starting July 1, every pack sold in the state will cost an extra $1.60, raising the total state tax to $4.35 and pushing the average cost of a pack up to $9.20. For New York City residents, the cost of a pack will now come out to close to $11.00. This sin tax is a bonanza for the city, which has now rendered smokers scofflaws. It is now easier to find a parking space than a smoking space in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-smoking fervor has earned him awards and, he is not alone in his antipathy toward smoking. Like-minded zealots in other localities have already managed to enact bans on smoking similar to New York City’s.
At last count, at least 13 states had gone smoke-free. These “Nanny State” zealots have even focused their angry gaze on the very food on our plates. When the mayor pushed through a ban on the use of Trans fat in restaurant food he said the ban is “not going to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food they want. . . . We are just trying to make food safer.” It’s for our own good. But who appointed the Mayor director of menu development and dietitian-in-chief? This is utterly tyrannical. Trans fat, like cigarette smoke, is just one of the substances that can put our health at risk. According to the American Council on Science, it makes up about 2% of the calories we take in. It can raise the “bad cholesterol” but so can saturated fats which, according to the American Council on Science make up 10-15% of our caloric intake.
These crusaders take small bites, eating away, bit by little bit, our right to decide these questions for ourselves. If the Mayor can tell a restaurant not to put trans fat in the meal it serves, what is to prevent him from prescribing the size of the portions they serve? Rather than putting a label on food spelling out the calories, the dietitian-in-Chief can ram through a law setting a legal limit on the size of portion the restaurant is allowed to serve.
The Mayor should impose a fat tax on people who eat junk food
Just such proposals have been floated by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. These PhD’s have a list of foods they do not want us to consume. They, like the Mayor, are just trying to make our food safer. They aim to find their way into our kitchens, “because that’s where the food is.” And like Willie Sutton, they will dictate to us what we ought not to eat at the point of the legislative pen. The Center for Science in the Public interest has published what it labels “Proposed Food Policy options” that it touts as a model for lawmakers. These proposals call for a ban on the sale of “low nutrition food” on school grounds; (That means no soft drink
s, sports drinks, sweet tea, fruit punch or anything with caffeine ) a ban commercial of these foods and beverages as well as brands associated with unhealthy products; a limit on the number of fast food outlets near schools, and a ban the sale of these foods near schools during the school day. These policy changes, they say, can be accomplished through legislation, regulation zoning and litigation. Ban them and, if they put up a fight then litigate the money right out of their coffers. These proposals, farfetched and intrusive as they appear to be, eventually make their way into our public policy. The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s proposal nearly became law in New York just last year. Strapped for cash, governor Patterson tried but failed to implement one of the Centers proposals….“Levy taxes on sugar- sweetened beverages and use the money to pay for obesity prevention. . .” New Yorkers, with an outcry heard all the way to the State House in Albany, turned back governor’s Patterson’s soda tax.
And they did so despite being told that “sugar-sweetened beverages play a significant role in New York’s obesity epidemic” and that “by adding a small tax on soda we can reduce consumption of these empty calories and make real progress toward making New Yorkers healthier.” But why should one new Yorker pay more because his neighbor chooses to live a destructive lifestyle and live on junk food? Americans consume huge quantities of soft drinks, which promote obesity and other health problems. Obesity alone according to Center for Science in the Public Interest, costs $147 billion a year in medical expenditures, half of which are paid through Medicare and Medicaid. How about a FAT tax! Obesity costs the health care system far more than smokers do. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has model legislation that will “ban candy near check counters” and “limit portion sizes” of the food we purchase at restaurants. Hungry New Yorkers had better watch out. These hapless, self-centered bureaucrats don’t trust us to make decisions about what to eat. They mean well, but they are misguided. To propose a regulation that bans candy near the checkout counter is way out there in La La Land. Wherever that may be, it is a place where things float about untethered from common sense.
My diet is none of the Mayor’s business
Mayor Bloomberg has accolades heaped on him for “incentivizing healthy eating” because of his ban on trans fat in New York restaurants. But what New Yorkers chose to eat in none of the Mayor’s business. It is their health that is put at risk and no one else’s. They have the right to eat whatever they please. I suggest Mr. Mayor, that you and your food police focus on cleaning up the snow on City Street before it keeps an ambulance from reaching someone having a heart attack brought on by clogged arteries.
This is America Mr. Mayor. You have no business deciding for me what I should and cannot eat. My parents made me eat my spinach because they believed it to be good for me. But they were my parents. Were I to consume sodas, burger and fries and become a fat blob, then I am the one that's fat not anyone else. My decision to drink soda like a sponge hurts no one but me. We elected you Mr. Mayor to protect, life liberty and our pursuit of happiness. If our happiness means burgers and fries washed down with a 20 ounce soda then so be it. It is not your business as Mayor to dictate what I eat. Neither my parents nor my nanny, had I one, could fine me or have me locked up for eating candy.
But you Mr. Mayor, can deprive me of my liberty and, with the power of the police that my taxes pay for, you can coerce and compel me and keep me from taking a puff of my cigarette under the open skies, though I violate no one’s liberty. These bans, restrictions and regulations foisted on the citizenry for their own good, strip people of the autonomy that individuals, capable of making decisions for themselves, possess. We must oppose and defeat them.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Anchor Babies Have No Constitutional Right to U.S Citizenship
Atlanta, Feb. 7, 2011. This case is before the court on the petition of Jane Doe a citizen of the country of Mexicali. When she was 8 months pregnant, Mrs. Doe, along with her husband, packed their bags and made their way to the border state of Arizia. The strain of the crossing, evidently caused Mrs. Doe to go into premature labor. The county of Maricupio, a locality in the state of Arizia dispatched its emergency services, which conveyed Mrs. to Maricupia Central, where she gave birth to a son. Arizia recently enacted a law, SB 1303, which states, in part, “A child born in the state of Arizia shall not be entitled to citizenship by virtue thereof, unless at least one of such child’s parents is a US citizen or legal resident thereof. Mrs. Doe now sues the state of Arizia and requests that the court direct its authorities to issue a birth certificate to her son, Innocentio Doe, with the appropriate indicia of US citizenship.
The Petitioner is joined in this request by Mrs. Delta Chin-Asiania, a Chinese national. Mrs. Chin-Asiania arrived in Califon as a visitor on a B-2 Visa. She, like her co-petitioner was also an expectant mother at the time. Her stated purpose in entering the US was to afford her child the benefits of United States citizenship. She, likeuncounted numbers of expectant mothers, have availed themselves of the services of a Mr. Robert Zhou, an entrepreneur, who has built a thriving business facilitating trips to the US on behalf of expectant Chinese mothers, traveling to Califia and other states on the West Coast to give birth to their children. For a fee of $15,000, Mr. Zhou’s company arranges with the hospital, the doctor, the house, the car rental and other extras. Beaming with pride, Mr. Zhou told NPR last month “What I’m trying to do is help Chinese mothers to realize their American dream, at a fair and reasonable price. We’re not encouraging pregnant women to go and get a U.S visa. We say that if you already have a U.S visa, and you’re pregnant, you can take the opportunity to give birth in the U.S. So yes, it is a gray area in U.S law” The petitioners are joined in this action by the Asiania Civil Liberties Union (The ACLU), who have filed a brief in support of their request.
The petitioners, assert that their children are American citizens by virtue of their birth on US soil without further qualifications. They cite the 14th Amendment to the constitution which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” They allege the suggestion that the states revise the 14th Amendment is a ploy by conservatives to further anger the American public.
Whether the drafters of the 14th Amendment intended to include the children of illegal aliens has been a matter of dispute. Petitioners claim that repeal of birthright citizenship would mean that children born in the Unites States would be deported to a country to which they feel no allegiance. Petitions have branded the effort to repeal birthright citizenship ‘racist”. They assert that fears of chain immigration, as a consequence of birthright citizenship are unfounded. The only benefits of giving birth here, they assert, are that legal children can help parents avoid deportation, can enroll in Medicaid and, some programs aid pregnant and nursing mothers regardless of immigration status. Counsel for petitioner States in his brief that “The citizenship clause is a bedrock principle of civil rights and part of what makes us all Americans. Never in our nation’s history have we amended the Constitution to take away someone’s rights, and we should not do so now.”
The Court’s Decision:
The question this court is called upon to resolve has been debated for years in the public arena. Those who oppose birthright citizenship have, in the past, introduced bills in Congress to end the practice. Such bills have been introduced once again, this term, by Senators David Vitter and Rand Paul. The counterpart to this bill has been introduced in the house by representative Steven King. It has several Co-sponsors. The sponsors of the amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants claim such children are “anchor babies” used to provide their parents with a foothold in the country. They do not contend there is any immediate benefit to the parents but, they assert that these babies can provide a basis for parents to avoid deportation under Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, (INA) by alleging that their deportation would bring hardship on their citizen children. They argue that the law, as it now stands, invites abuse by granting citizenship to children of persons with no nexus to the country, and no allegiance thereto. The respondents note that few countries in the west allow this anachronistic right of citizenship by birth, or Jus Soli, as this concept is referred to in Latin. England, Germany, Australia, South Africa, and scores of other developed countries have changed their laws to bring the practice in line with the realities of the global village. But this court is not constrained by the state of affairs in foreign jurisdictions. We must look to our Constitution for guidance in resolving the question now before the bench. The people of this country have expressed their sentiments on the question, and they did so resoundingly by removing from political power, their elected representatives opposed to their position. That, in fact, is the way our democracy works. The sentiments of the people, however, must be in accord with our constitution if they are to receive judicial recognition. Were it otherwise, the court would be powerless to strike down as unconstitutional enactments such as the Jim Crow laws enacted in the Southern States after the country’s bloody Civil War.
The 14th amendment to the constitution says this: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Reading, the 14th Amendment in historical context leaves little doubt concerning its true meaning. It must be borne in mind that the civil war was fought in large part, because of the institution of slavery. When the institution breathed its last breath at the end of the American Civil War, the first laws of the former Confederate States, imposed sundry disabilities on blacks. They were disqualified from jury service and in all the states former slaves were denied the right of suffrage. Countless burdens were heaped upon them so that their newly acquired freedom was rendered worthless. The Amendment in question was adopted with the purpose of lifting the burdens and disabilities imposed on freed slaves by pervasive and invidious legal restraints. In fact, the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court held that former slaves were not citizens of the United States. The 14th Amendment therefore, was not intended as a means of conferring citizenship upon the children of illegal immigrants. They are not of the same general category as former African slaves who were brought to these shores kicking and screaming in protest. These petitioners are here of their own accord. Having willfully evaded legal authority and broken the law of the land to get here, they are not with the class of persons the law was intended to protect. The question can be asked whether the 14th Amendment should be applied to the children of an occupying army? The drafters of the 14th Amendment could not have intended anything as self-defeating and irrational as that. To do otherwise would compel us to face the conundrum of making illegal entry in the country a crime and at the same time granting a desired benefit to the offender. While it is true Innocentio Doe is blameless, he is in his present predicament nonetheless, as a consequence of their parents’ choice. Were these parents to choose bank robbery to purchase necessaries, Innocentio would not be entitled to the fruits of their illegal endeavor. The Asian petitions owe no allegiance to this country and are not subject to its jurisdiction. Their U.S born children are therefore not entitled to birthright citizenship. Their case is no different from that of a member of the Diplomatic Corps. Their children, born in the U.S, do not acquire U.S citizenship, and that is because although present here, diplomats are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. It is the decision of this court that the children of illegal immigrants born in the any state or territory of the United States of America are not entitled to the benefit of birthright citizenship.
Note: The foregoing is a set of facts created for the purpose of raising the issue of birthright citizenship as a court is likely to hear it. Any similarities to real people are completely coincidental.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta, Feb.4, 2011 The 112th Congress has been in office just one month. In that brief time the new Congress has stamped its distinct imprimatur on the federal immigration agenda. The about face on all matters bearing on immigration is impossible to miss. The tone of the immigration debate on issues of concern to immigrants has turned harsh and jarring. The single solitary word sympathetic to the plight of undocumented immigrants was uttered by President Obama in the state of the union message. We have heard his platitudes, meant to appease his Hispanic base before. The President lacks the courage of his convictions. He had in his power all the ammunition needed to overrun the fortifications erected by immigration hard-liners but, like a deer caught in the headlights, he froze. The immigration hard-liners, like sharks sensing blood in the water, attacked Mr. Obama after he had been wounded politically in the health care battle. Rendered timid, the President opined that Congress “did not have the stomach” for a fight over immigration. Supporters, disheartened by his retreat, stayed away from the polls while the republican base, buoyed by the President’s inability to shepherd his immigration agenda through a friendly Congress, turned out in droves, dealing the President’s party a defeat not seen in more than a half- century.
Hard-liners in the 112th Congress got off to a fast start. In the first 30 days the cherished right of birthright citizenship came under attack. Tea party Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, introduced a bill designed to alter the status quo, long taken for granted by immigrants. Immigration status, notwithstanding, every child born on U.S soil automatically became a citizen of the U.S. If Senator Paul has his way, children born in the U.S will not have automatic citizenship by birth. They will acquire U.S citizenship only if at least one of the parents, is lawfully present in the country. Senator Paul has supporters eager to join the fight. One group going under the moniker State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) has joined the senator in this battle. Led by Robert Metcalfe of Pennsylvania, SLLI consists of like-minded state legislators who view birthright citizenship as a menace to the republic. Their mission is to end it. They feel that it has become commonplace for people to cross the border into Los Angeles, and other border cities just to give birth in the U.S, thereby giving their offspring the gift of American citizenship.
The Immigration subcommittee is holding hearings and taking Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to task for lax enforcement. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization not sympathetic to immigrants, has released its immigration reform agenda to the 112th Congress. The document lays out a roadmap for moving forward, (some would argue backwards) with immigration reform measures. Among the suggestions:
FAIR points out those items on its agenda are by no means exhaustive; they simply highlight what it considers the most urgent priorities. Hard-liners are on the attack, instilling fear and fermenting insecurity in the minds of people already with much on their plates. Even more ominous, is the forecast in individual states, where pitched battles now rage over immigration. The indifference of the federal government to the plight of border States, as well as states mired in budgetary morass, has led to frenzied action to get tough on immigration. A virtual blizzard of tough new laws have been enacted or proposed in more than a dozen states; Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, and others have toughened their immigration laws.
In Kentucky, the legislature opened its session January 14th. Wasting little time, the Kentucky Senate passed an Arizona style law that empowers police to check immigration states of people they stop. The bill is on its way to the House of Representatives. In Texas, which shares a long border with Mexico, governor Perry has said that abolishing sanctuary cities is an “emergency item” that the legislature should deal with in the first 30 days of this session. Three of Texas’ largest cities, Austin, Dallas, and Houston have sanctuary policies. Although he concedes that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government, Governor Perry insists that his state “cannot compound their failure by preventing Texas peace officers from doing their jobs.”
The trend is having repercussions in immigrant communities. The Migration Policy Institute, in a report last month, found that these new measures are exacting a toll on Hispanic communities. There are presently 1200 State and local officers trained by the federal government under the 287(g) program. These officers can arrest and detain illegal immigrants and hand them over to immigration authorities. The program resulted in the arrest of 100,000 illegal immigrants in the last two years. This is causing a decline in the Hispanic population of localities that participate in the 287(g) program. In Cobb and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia, the Hispanic population has declined. In Frederick County, Virginia, officials have reported that their Hispanic population has decreased by 61% after 287(g) took effect. Other counties Virginia, participating in the program had less precipitous decline in their Hispanic population. Prince Edward County lost 28% of its Hispanic population after 287(g) took effect. This is high tide for immigration hawks who gained 690 seats in State legislatures in the last election. In states where both legislative bodies are in republican hands, illegal immigrants are sitting ducks. Even in immigrant- friendly states on the east coast, the tide is turning against immigrants. In Maine, newly elected governor Paul La Page, last month signed an executive order ending Maine’s Sanctuary policy.
Pro immigration groups have their hands full. A spokesperson for the Maine Civil Liberties Union described the governor’s new order as “the first stop in an anti-freedom agenda”. The governor’s office made it clear through its spokesman that Maine intends to send a message to those who have heard that it is easy to get a driver’s license in Maine. Said the governor, “we have got many fiscal issues and I am intending to take care of Mainers first”. This is the message being sent, not just in Maine, but in dozens of other states and cities throughout the land. Essentially, the sign at the border that reads “Help Wanted: Inquire Within” has been taken down. In its place, a new sign has been posted; it reads: “Illegal Immigrants Not Welcome”.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
There is nothing but bad news coming from the immigration front so far this year. The pitched battle over immigration reform ended in December with the defeat of the Dream Act in the Senate. President Obama, who had campaigned on a platform, one part of which was immigration reform, met with Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHP) after the Dream was defeated. He told the CHP he would continue to push his immigration agenda and, would use his veto to derail anti- immigration legislation reaching his desk.
But the forces arrayed against immigration reform are formidable. A new group, State Legislators for Legal Immigration, (SLLI) led by Rep. Darryl Metcalfe, of Pennsylvania, has launched a movement aimed at “anchor babies.” SLLI wants to end automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants. The new Congress, with its large republican majority is unsympathetic. Many newly minted congressional republicans were explicit in their campaign about their stance on immigration. It is hard to find among new republicans, a solitary soul sympathetic to the cause of illegal immigrants. The republican approach is enforcement first. That means heavy security on the southern border, the use of electronic verification (e-verify) to weed out unauthorized workers, and punishing companies that hire unauthorized workers. The record set for deportation by the Obama administration last year is in jeopardy. By all indications, the new congress and the states are poised to make things difficult for anyone attempting to enter or remain illegally in the country.
More states are about to enact Arizona style immigration laws, giving authorities the power to demand that people stopped by police prove their immigration status. Copycat laws have been introduced in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee. Some of these laws make it a crime to simply be in the state without papers or to solicit employment at places like Home Depot, or on the public street.
States are enacting Arizona style immigration laws
In Georgia, legislators began targeting illegal immigrant’s weeks before the new session opened. They began pre-filing bills to stop illegal immigrants from attending state schools, and to punish government contractors who hire illegal workers. Already, many localities in Georgia participate in the 287(g) program, which allows cities and towns to arrest and hand illegal immigrants over to immigration authorities. And new programs are being implemented to ensure the identity of people applying for public benefits. Rep. Ramsey, the co-chairman of the Georgia Joint House-Senate Committee of Immigration Reform, is considering introducing an Arizona style immigration law. Georgia is not alone.
Legislators in several other states say they would propose an Arizona style law to fight illegal immigration. In Pennsylvania, bills to penalize contractors and revoke their licenses have passed the house but failed in the Senate. Governor Corbett, when he was Attorney General, filed a brief supporting the Arizona law. In South Carolina, an Arizona style bill has been introduced and awaits consideration in this session. Newly elected Governor, Nikki Haley, supported the Arizona law.
In Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, Arizona style laws have been introduced, or proposed. Governor Rick Scott of Florida, supported Arizona’s harsh immigration law, and campaigned on the issue. The governor of Idaho, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Heinemann of Nebraska, and Mary Fallen of Oklahoma, all favor Arizona style immigration laws, and are expected to sign the law if it reaches their desk.
Opponents are not sitting on their hands. They have launched a counter attack. They say that repealing birthright citizenship would be unconstitutional, because U.S citizenship is the exclusive province of the Federal government, not the states. In spite of this legal claim, the chances are good, that one or more bills will be enacted, denying birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Social and economic issues are driving the anti-immigrant agenda. Rightly or wrongly, many blame illegal immigrants for crime and sundry social malaise. The indifference of the Federal government and, its failures to restrict the flow of illegal immigrants into the country, has left states frustrated. Because of this, the political battle on illegal immigration has shifted to the states. It is not going to be a fair fight. Republicans gained control of many statehouses and legislatures last November. Across the country they gained 690 seats in the state legislatures. With republicans in control of so many governors’ mansions, these measures have a good chance of success. Said Thomas Saenz of the Mexican Legal Defensive Fund, “This is going on everywhere. We have sued to stop legislation like this across the country and we will continue to do that.” It seems he will need an army of lawyers.
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.