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Update, December 4, 10:40 pm:
And here is a more cynical possibility. Could Boehner's hiring a key staffer with such a pro-immigrant reputation be meant purely as window dressing, or as a bone to pro-reform advocates, while he continues his do-nothing policies toward reform? In this interpretation, FAIR's angry tirade against Tallent might have been staged managed in order to help insulate Boehner against criticism from the pro-immigrant forces.
But probably I may be reading too much into all of this.
Update, December 4, 5:25 pm:
Judging by the vitriolic email from FAIR which Greg Siskind quotes in his December 4 Immigration Daily blogging, my comment that the anti-immigrant lobby would be apoplectic over John Boehner's hiring of Rebecca Tallent, John McCain's former immigration reform point person, appears to have been accurate.
I hope that my expectation that Boehner will stand his ground and keep her in this new position will also turn out to be accurate. I very much doubt that FAIR's email will be the last time that America's right wing bigots will be attacking Tallent.
To the contrary, it may the opening salvo in a protracted war aimed at intimidating the Speaker, whose anxiety to protect whatever is left of his right wing is well known, into firing her.
My original post follows:
Could House Speaker John Boehner be preparing a Christmas surprise for immigration reform advocates? Politico's Seung Min Kim reports that the Speaker has hired a new immigration policy staffer, Rebecca Tallent, currently the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Kim also reports that Tallent is a former chief of staff to Senator John McCain and was his point person on immigration policy during the last major immigration reform effort in 2007.
Meanwhile Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass), grandson of Robert Kennedy and great nephew of Ted Kennedy, is joining the immigration reform fast on the National Mall.
For both of her stories, see Politico: Rep. Joe Kennedy joins immigration fast (December 3).
I suspect that the kill reform, deport 'em all Tea Party/Heritage Action crowd will be apoplectic over the announcement that Boehner is hiring McCain's former top immigration aide. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some explanations by Boehner in the next few days that Tallent will just "one of many" staff members involved in immigration, and that no one should "read too much" into the fact that she has been hired.
Nor would it be out of character if there were behind the scenes right wing efforts to get Boehner to dump Tallent, or at least demote her after she begins work on December 4.
One hopes not, but if there are any such efforts, it could be a good sign for reform, perhaps the most positive sign since last June, if Boehner holds fast to his decision to give Tallent this critically important responsibilty.
Hiring Tallent might also mean that the dedication and determination of the brave pro-reform fast participants are having some effect.
Updated 12-04-2013 at 10:46 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
The Huffington Post reports that on December 1, the Republican National Committee issued the following tweet in what was apparently meant as a tribute to Rosa Parks.
"Today we remember Rosa Parks and her bold stand in ending racism."
See: Huffington Post, GOP Claims Racism Is Over In Misguided Rosa Parks Tribute. (December 1).
See also, National Journal, GOP: Racism Is Over. Most Americans: Nope. (December 1)
It is certainly nice to know that racism is over in America. But in that case, when is the House going to pass comprehensive immigration reform?
Updated 12-01-2013 at 03:52 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Human sacrifice was well known in the ancient world as a method, it was believed, to appease an angry god or to obtain favors from a god. The Jewish Encyclopedia shows an image of an ancient Babylonian cylinder of a child being sacrificed, and also gives an extensive explanation of the ancient Near Eastern custom of sacrificing to the god Moloch (or Molech), which is strongly condemned in Leviticus 7:21 and 20: 2-5 (providing death by stoning as the punishment).
In classical literature, one of the most famous stories of human sacrifice to win the god's favor is that of Iphigenia, daughter of King Agamemnon, who sacrificed her in order to gain a favorable wind for his fleet. The great Roman poet Lucretius (ca. 99 - ca 55 BC) graphically describes this in De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things - Book 1: 95-101):
nam sublata virum manibus tremibundaque ad aras/
deductast. non ut solemni more sacrorum/
perfecto posset claro comitari Hymenaeo/
sed casta inceste nubendi tempore in ipso/
hostia concideret mactatu maesta parentis/
exitus ut classi felix faustusque daretur./
tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
("for uplifted by the hands of men, all trembling she was brought to the altar, not that amidst solemn and sacred ritual she might be escorted by a loud hymeneal song, but a clean maiden to fall by unclean hands at the very age of wedlock, a victim of her father's hand: all in order that a fair and fortunate release might be given to the fleet. So potent was Superstition in persuading to evil deeds." (Loeb Classical Library translation, Harvard University Press, 1992)
As seen above, the point of human sacrifice was always to propitiate a god or win a god's favor. But this is all ancient history, and a barbaric practice from two or three thousand or more years ago in the ancient Middle East or Mediterranean has nothing at all to do with the battle for immigration reform in 2013 AD.
Or does it? Has not President Barack Obama sacrificed the lives, hopes, dreams and family connections, if not the physical bodies, of well over a million people during the past five years on the altar of deportation in order to appease the god of "enforcing the law" and to try to gain fair winds for comprehensive immigration reform?
And is Obama not continuing to sacrifice over 1,000 immigrants each day on this deportation altar, even as he meets with people who are sacrificing their own physical well being, or possibly even their lives, by fasting at the National Mall in order to stop his deportations?
See Laura Matthews in International Business Times: Immigration Reform 2013: Obamas Meet Fasting Activists, November 29
And what have been the results of Obama's massive deportation sacrifice? Only more obstruction, more calls to deport 11 million unauthorized immigrants (with few, if any, exceptions) from the angry forces of racism and hatred which hold sway in the House of Representatives and are determined to kill reform at all costs.
At least, according to legend, the sacrifice of Iphigenia brought about the intended result. What has President Obama accomplished by deporting over a million people so far?
Updated 11-30-2013 at 10:40 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Just in case anyone still believes that the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by former immigration lawyer turned reform opponent Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is serious about working on "piecemeal" immigration reform bills, that committee is now showing its true anti-reform, "deport-em all" colors. Laura Matthews writes in the November 27 International Business Times that the very same House Judiciary Committee which some immigration advocates once expected to produce a gorgeous "necklace" of piecemeal immigration reform bills is now launching an investigation witch hunt (my term, not hers) against DACA, President Obama's Deferred Action program to give relief from deportation to DREAMERS.
See Immigration Reform 2013: House Judiciary To Challenge Obama on Deferred Action, And Obamacare.
"A day after a pro-immigration reform activist confronted President Barack Obama and challenged him to use executive power to stop all deportations, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans to investigate whether the president is a faithful steward of the law. A hearing is expected for 10:00 am next Tuesday, and the full committee is expected to attend."
DACA, according to Matthews, is high on the list of actions which the Committee is planning to investigate for possible presidential "overreach".
Instead of reform, which would allow more people to receive at least some form of legal status or protection against deportation (forget about citizenship - that has not been the real issue, as I wrote in my post a few days ago), the House Republicans are now aiming their guns at the 450,000 young people who have already received provisional relief from deportation through executive action in order to kick them out of the US.
President Obama has justly been called a hypocrite for pretending that he has no power to extend DACA to other groups of immigrants through executive action, when he has in fact very recently done exactly that, as Matt Kolken pointed out in his November 26 post, and when numerous court decisions support executive action regarding deportation, as I pointed out on November 27.
But the House Republicans are trying one-upmanship on Obama to show that they can be even greater hypocrites by pretending to be working on reform (but just not this year, thank you), when their only real goal is to deport 11 million brown people.
The main purpose of the witch hunt can only be to try to intimidate the president from taking any further executive action to grant relief from deportation. There is little if any legal basis for this move.
This is obvious, not only from the Congressional Research Service report which I discussed in my November 27 post, but the comments of legal scholars referred to in the Matthews article, including David A. Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia, and Kevin R. Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis law school (who, incidentally, has written extensively about the influence of race and class in US immigration law and whose articles are well worth reading).
The only possible limitation that these and other scholars mentioned in the article see is that executive power might not extend to granting relief from deportation to all 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Instead, additional groups of immigrants would have to be given relief incrementally, or, to use another word, piecemeal.
And why should the Republicans have any problem with that? Weren't they the ones who came up with the idea of doing reform "piecemeal' in the first place?
Updated 11-29-2013 at 09:18 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
President Obama is not only on track to deport two million people, but he is also prosecuting record numbers of people for harmless immigration violations. The chilling details are reported in a November 27 RT USA article: Obama administration hits all-time high on prosecutions for nonviolent immigration offenses.
(This article also appears as a news item in the November 27 edition of Immigration Daily.)
The article states that prosecutions for nonviolent immigration offenses hit an all time high in Fiscal Year 2013, up 22.6 percent over five years. About 93 percent of the prosecutions are for illegal entry, and these types of prosecutions have increased by 76 percent, according to the US Department of Justice.
The article also states:
"New cases were filed against 97, 384 defendants in FY2013, which ended on September 30, amounting to 50 percent of all federal criminal prosecutions.
The total of immigration prosecutions is up 5.9 percent from last year."
The article continues:
"The Obama administration is on track to deport 2 million people by 2014. About 97 percent of people being deported are Latino and Caribbean, according to Tanya Golash-Boza, a sociologist at the University of California, Merced."
The same article also quotes Grace Meng, a Human Rights Watch Researcher, as follows:
"One US district judge, Robert Brack, in New Mexico, who has sentenced over 11,000 people for illegal entry, told me, 'for 10 years now, I've been presiding over a process that destroys families every day and several times each day'".
Meanwhile, Obama continues to insist that he has no power to stop the deportations even though, according to the above article, the president has signed hundreds of executive orders (or "executive actions") on issues ranging from gun control to the ACA.
The article concludes by quoting Norman J. Orenstein of the American Enterprise Institute, not exactly a liberal or left wing organization, as saying that Obama "does not hesitate to use executive authority, but he is well within the mainstream of his modern predecessors."
This gives rise to two questions:
First, is the president not digging a grave for the Democrats in the 2014 and 2016 elections? How long does he expect Latino and Caribbean US voters to keep carrying the torch for his party when their communities are subject to such widespread and draconian enforcement policies, which in any other country would be called ethnic persecution?
And when the Democrats are already reeling from the political fallout of the ACA enrollment and policy cancellation fiascos, how does the president expect them to hold onto the Senate or the White House without the same kind of massive minority support which he received in 2012?
Don't the Obama administration's deportation and immigration prosecution fiascos dwarf the problems with the ACA by comparison?
Second, beyond the immediate politics, what kind of America are we celebrating during this Thanksgiving holiday? Is this the kind of country which our original settlers were hoping to build on that very first Thanksgiving day? Or are we becoming the kind of country that they had decided to leave?
Updated 11-28-2013 at 07:06 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs