Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Immigration: A New Hope

The groundwork is being laid for comprehensive immigration reform.
Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico(.)

For those of us who believe in public policy driven by the desire to lift people up and not driven by nativism, xenophobia, and racism, this is great news. Of course, we know that what finally comes out won't look quite like us, but setting the bar high now makes it possible for something reasonable to come out in the end. To his credit, President Bush supports comprehensive reform.

The lack of reform is supposedly what drove cities like Hazleton and Escondido, CA, to impose their own regressive immigration ordinances. If Congress can get this done, it takes that excuse away. (As an aside, it is worth noting that Escondido- which was like the West Coast version of Hazleton- decided not to enforce its ordinance.)

I gave a talk to a small group of young people a few months ago, and someone asked me what one issue we're working on really drives me. I said immigration because I'm troubled by the shape of the debate. Afterwards, one of the adult volunteers asked how I could reconcile our position on immigration with the fact that undocumented immigrants have broken the law. I told her that the Constitution does not exclusively protect citizens but also protects "persons."

I can't remember what else we said, but there was one thing I left out. This is not a debate on letting people get away with breaking the law but is instead a debate on just how severe a violation of law this is. I could have said to this woman, "Millions of people break the law every day in their cars when they speed. How can we reconcile allowing them to continue to drive when they are putting millions of other drivers at risk?"

Good people who come here for a better life, who have strong family values and a good work ethic and whose only crime is the way they entered the country, deserve the opportunity to enjoy the full benefits of our country. It's what has made this country great.

On a side note, I found this to be hilarious:
After the dismal showing (at the polls), House Republicans denied F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the departing chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the House immigration approach, a senior position on any major committee in the new Congress.

It's a little shameful to take pleasure in another person's misery, but if there is anyone who deserves it, it's Sensenbrenner. He has been a thorn in the side of civil rights and freedom on immigration, Real ID, and the PATRIOT Act. The only positive thing that can be said about the guy is that he was a strong supporter of the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, but otherwise, he deserves a demotion.



Andy in H-burg

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Keanus said...

I know it's not truly cricket to lampoon someone, but is Sensenbrenner really 5'3" and 270 lbs.? I'm not sure someone with those dimensions could even move. And does he really have "glassy" eyes :-)?

4:19 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

keanus, I can't imagine he's actually 5'3", based on seeing him in photos. And his eyes are probably blue, not "glassy."

Sensenbrenner's personal Real ID is from the website unrealid.com, which is not an ACLU site.

Andy

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

I know that this is a contrived ID for saterical purposes, but how much of it is based on actual plans for the Real ID? Is it really in the works to print everyone's religion on the face of an ID card? That would be a show-stopper.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Keanus said...

I didn't know the source of the ID image, but I suspected it to be satirical. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if Sensenbrenner has envisioned a national ID card which does give the bearer's religious affiliation. I'm sure in his eyes, claiming to be Episcopal would indicate he's one of the "elite" and not to be trifled with. Sensenbrenner has offered enough similarly wacky ideas over the years to merit plausibility for this coming from him (if it did).

1:16 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

alan, religion is not one of the required pieces of info on Sensenbrenner's national ID card. Ironically, it is what you won't see that will be the most dangerous. The Act requires a "machine readable zone." It will contain your personal information and can be read by anyone with a machine. Thus, it is conceivable that the private sector could start collecting (and adding) information by scanning the cards.

Also, the databases of the DMVs of all 50 states will be linked, creating one stop for identity thefts. The government management of sensitive information has been breached several times, and DMV employees have been busted for selling information.

This creates a whole new world for those kinds of problems. And all the while, your state driver's license will look like it's controlled by your state, not the federal government.

Andy

2:38 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

And I should add that a good website for more info is www.realnightmare.org.

Andy

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Seevos said...

I have worked on IT projects with the Federal and State DOTs. When THEY say they are not ready to do this BELIEVE them. I have a great deal of respect for what they are able to accomplish, but it is a very difficult IT environment inside of one state, let alone coordinating between states.

One instance of how difficulties will arise: some states ding your driver’s license for over-due library books. So, you don’t return a book, it goes on your driving record, and overnight you go from being a RealPerson to being a NonEntity. Yikes!

6:45 PM  
Blogger breakdown said...

We have a huge immigration issue in the UK, but it is different over here. Many don't come to contribute to society, they come because of our free health care, free education and social service system. Then they move out of the UK, often to the States to a better life. I have no dount that if health care was chargable, like the States, there would not be anything like the immigration problem we have. Because of how easy it is to get across european borders, we now have many illegals, in fact no-one actually knows the quantity. In ceratin areas, most of the crime is commited bt these, although some of it is probably just to survive.
I want stricter laws in the UK, because it is affecting, our economy, crime rate, heath care and preventing genuine refugees comming into the country.
ICS | RAC

3:27 PM  

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