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Immigration: No More Delay

The need for comprehensive immigration reform is greater than ever, as our current system is broken.

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GOOD NEWS

On Sunday, Major League Baseball players used symbolic pink bats for Mother’s Day. The bats will be auctioned off, and the funds will be earmarked for breast cancer research as well as treatment and public-awareness initiatives.


STATE WATCH

IRAQ: Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) launch an effort showing how local communities and everyday Americans are impacted by the war.

FLORIDA: A new poll reveals that 71 percent of Floridians “support immediate legislative action to cut green house gas emissions.”

MICHIGAN: A state investigation finds “evidence of racism and a culture of oppression and fear” in Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.

TEXAS: A Dallas suburb becomes the first in the nation to prohibit landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants.


BLOG WATCH

THINK PROGRESS: House conservatives: “There is no liberal-conservative divide over Iraq.”

EZRA KLEIN: “As measured by coalition deaths per day, we are now in the most violent twelve-month stretch of the four year occupation of Iraq.”

THE NEWSHOGGERS: “Death squad tolls in Baghdad rising again.”

RISING HEGEMON: Reality proves pro-war pundit Kimberly Kagan wrong on Iraq.


DAILY GRILL

“I never said…Iraq was responsible for Sept. 11.”
— Richard Perle, 5/11/07

VERSUS

We do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden.”
— Perle, 9/16/01


ARCHIVES

Progress Report


STUDENTS

Politics with an Attitude: Everyone from Barack Obama to Stephen Colbert talks to Campus Progress. Right-wingers seem scared of us. Find out why here.

 May 14, 2007
No More Delay
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No More Delay

“I am optimistic we can pass a comprehensive immigration bill and get this problem solved for the American people this year,” President Bush said last week, putting “pressure on senators as they prepare to hold a vote on the issue this week.” The need for comprehensive immigration reform is greater than ever, as our current system is broken. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of undocumented immigrants doubled to 12 million while the size of the U.S. Border Patrol tripled in the same period. To address the growing number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., comprehensive immigration reform gained momentum in Congress last year but ultimately was stonewalled by the right wing. “To save what could be his last hope for a major second-term domestic achievement,” Bush is continuing to call for comprehensive reform this year, but his shift to more restrictive measures on immigration is stalling prospects of a fair reform package passing in Congress. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) said Bush has compromised his “basic principles” in his new plan, which would “restrict workers’ ability to bring family members to the U.S. and [impose] a large fee to seek citizenship.”

BREAKING APART IMMIGRANT FAMILIES: “The Bush administration has proposed managing the future flow of legal immigration by stressing job skills and education over family ties,” a departure from the current system where “more than 60 percent of all legal immigrants enter under family preferences.” “Our immigration policy has long respected the stability that family ties bring. Relatives help set up family businesses; they pitch in to pay for children’s education. … Good immigration policy doesn’t simply fill jobs; it reunites families as well.” But under the White House’s plan, “legal immigrants would lose the right to petition to bring adult children and siblings to the U.S. …  The proposal would limit or end preferences for people who had family members living legally in the U.S., and award many more visas based on employability criteria, such as education and skills.” Bush’s plan would also require undocumented immigrants to pay thousands in fines for a three-year work visa, and these visa holders “also wouldn’t be able to bring family members to the U.S.” This hard-line approach is being brought to the negotiating table by Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) and other Senate conservatives. “Kyl wants a temporary program — workers would have to return to their home country after three years and could not bring family members unless their incomes exceed 150 percent of the poverty level and they have health insurance.” “Temporary means temporary,” Kyl stated.

HARD-LINERS STALLING COMPREHENSIVE REFORM:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed last week to wait until Wednesday to vote on whether to proceed with debate on immigration legislation. Reid will “bring last year’s broad overhaul of immigration laws back to the floor of the Senate,” using it as “the instrument to build new [legislation].” But Senate conservatives “have threatened to block that motionrequesting even more time to reach an agreement. Despite it passing with overwhelming support last year, conservatives claim last year’s comprehensive reform legislation “is not strict enough,” reflecting their desire to take a “tougher stand” on immigration. Such obstructionism is partly due to the appointment of immigration hard-liners to the negotiating table and an exodus of former comprehensive reform allies. “Republicans such as John McCain and Sam Brownback have backed away from last year’s bill as they pursued presidential campaigns. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, a foe of comprehensive reform in the past, is now the leading negotiator for Senate Republicans, and is driving a hard bargain.” Subsequently, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said this year’s conservative proposal was “a huge step backwards,” citing concerns with the “workability and fairness” of the plan. “If the Republicans hang together in opposing cloture on the motion to proceed, Reid will not get the 60 votes he needs to move forward with the bill. Many lawmakers have said failure at this point would likely mean the bill would be dead for the year.”

AMERICANS WANT IMMIGRATION REFORM: “The American people have waited long enough for immigration reform. The time is right, and the result is up to us,” said Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).  The attempts of the White House to focus on more restrictive measures, such as beefing up border security and breaking apart families, are untenable. Instead, “[w]e need a comprehensive approach to immigration that will more intelligently provide the skilled and unskilled labor that our country needs through legal means, enable those living and working within the United States to be better integrated into society, and allow the Department of Homeland Security to focus its resources on actual security threats at America’s borders and other ports of entry,” states Center for American Progress fellow Dan Restrepo. Such a reform package is supported by the vast majority of Americans. Seventy-six percent of Americans want a comprehensive reform package and 59 percent believe undocumented immigrants who have been in America for several years should gain legal working status and the possibility of citizenship in the future. 

Under the Radar

ENVIRONMENT — U.S. ATTEMPTS TO WEAKEN G8 CLIMATE CHANGE STATEMENTS: Negotiators from the United States are trying to weaken the language of a climate change declaration set to be unveiled at next month’s G-8 summit. Germany has made global warming a top priority for the summit. The Washington Post reports, “A draft proposal dated April 2007 that is being debated in Bonn, Germany…by senior officials of the Group of Eight includes a pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The United States is seeking to strike that section, the documents show.” The BBC adds that a clause saying “climate change is speeding up and will seriously damage our common natural environment and severely weaken (the) global economy… resolute action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions” has been struck out. So have a statement that “we are deeply concerned about the latest findings confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)”, and a commitment to send a “clear message” on international efforts to combat global warming at the next round of UN climate talks in December. U.S. negotiators also want to remove from the draft firm targets for improving energy efficiency in buildings and transport, and a call for the establishment of a global carbon market. The White House has a long record of doctoring the findings of scientific experts on climate change. A report presented to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Government Accountability Project earlier this year revealed that half of government scientists have felt pressured to downplay global warming.

IRAQ — ACTIVE DUTY GENERALS WILL “REVOLT” AGAINST BUSH IF HE MAINTAINS ESCALATION INTO 2008: Appearing on NBC’s Chris Matthews Show yesterday, Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker reveals that sources within the military are warning of “a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into ’08.'” Noting that retired generals such as Gen. John Baptiste have already begun voicing their discontent with the President’s strategy in Iraq, Tucker added that the generals “don’t want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost.” When President Bush vetoed the Iraq timeline legislation earlier this month, he claimed that “the measure would ‘impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat’ by forcing them to ‘take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, DC.” But despite past claims that “the right force level” will be determined by “the sober judgment of our military leaders,” the Bush administration has a proven track record of disregarding the advice of military leaders. As recently as last December, when the White House was first pushing its escalation plan, the administration explicitly ignored “the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” If Tucker’s sources are correct, it appears the commanders on the ground in Iraq are getting tired of “taking fighting directions” from the politician “6,000 miles away” in the White House. And they might not stay quiet for long.

ADMINISTRATION — JUSTICE OFFICIALS DETAIL MONICA GOODLING’S PARTISAN WITCH HUNT: Monica Goodling, former counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Justice Department liaison to the White House, is viewed as an increasingly pivotal figure in the U.S. Attorney scandal. In his recent testimony to Congress, former Deputy Attorney General Philip Comey said he had heard rumors” that Goodling was using political criteria in making personnel decisions among non-political, career staff. According to the New York Times, Goodling has let partisanship pervade much of her job as White House liaison. “You have a Monica problem,” said a career Justice Department official. “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.” With this partisanship, Goodling has questioned applicants for civil service jobs in the Justice Department with questions ranging from who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice to “Have you ever cheated on your wife?” “The people who spoke about Ms. Goodling’s role at the department, including eight current Justice Department lawyers and staff, did so only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Several added that they found her activities objectionable and damaging to the integrity of the department.” Goodling’s testimony to Congress is considered key in uncovering more details about the U.S. attorney scandal, as she was given “extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department” by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. “There’s one big wild card that’s yet to be thrown into play, and that’s Monica Goodling.” She is currently under investigation by the DoJ for whether she “improperly assessed the political loyalties of applicants for career assistant U.S. attorney posts.”


Think Fast

“More than 50 Iraqis died Sunday in bombings, mortar blasts and gunfire. Two U.S. soldiers also were killed, while 4,000 troops scoured an area southwest of Baghdad in search of three soldiers apparently captured after an ambush Saturday that left four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter dead.”

Popular conservative blog RedState.org “will step up its efforts this week to force Republican leaders to pull Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) from the powerful Appropriations Committee.”

“The Senate launches a major debate on immigration this week, with shaky prospects for a comprehensive overhaul” that can overcome a conservative filibuster. “Republicans are insisting on rules tougher than those in last year’s Senate bill. They want longer waits, bigger fines and a trip home to the country of origin.”

1: The number of Iraqi refugees resettled in the United States in April. “The total since the fiscal year started Oct. 1 is 69. At this rate, far from resettling 7,000, the State Department will be lucky to match last year’s total of 202.”

“The White House confirmed yesterday that the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad is likely to meet in the next several weeks with Iranian officials about stabilizing Iraq, as the administration embraces a tactic outsiders have long recommended as essential to reducing sectarian violence in Iraq.” 

New documents” suggest that World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz “understood that his role in ordering a pay increase and promotion for his companion in 2005 might be seen as a conflict of interest but insisted on proceeding anyway.”

“Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election-law violations.”

“A Depression-era program to bring electricity to rural areas is using taxpayer money to provide billions of dollars in low-interest loans to build coal plants even as Congress seeks ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions. That government support is a major force behind the rush to coal plants, which spew carbon dioxide that scientists blame for global warming.”

And finally: “Expanding on his reason for saying at a debate that an employer should be allowed to fire someone for being gay, Tommy Thompson on Saturday blamed a dead hearing aid and his need to use the bathroom.” “I was very sick the day of the debate. … I could not wait until the debate got off so I could go to the bathroom,” he said.