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  1. "Bibles, Badges and Business" Converge for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    by , 12-10-2012 at 02:15 PM (Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government)
    The "phantasmagoric politics" of Washington DC often produce hallucinatory effects:

    [A]lmost every time I travel there . . . something comes over me. Inside the Beltway, talk can give off the illusion of action. The mouthing of words, however powerful on the printed page or eloquent when spoken, is seen . . . as equivalent to progress.

    During my latest trip, however, a hopeful, reality-based euphoria replaced the usual "illusion of action," as I attended a National Strategy Session on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) held Dec. 4 and 5 and sponsored by ForgingConsensus.org. For the first time in ages, conservatives and progressives joined together in candid and helpful conversation.
    Representatives from national religious organizations, law enforcement and commerce ("Bibles, Badges and Business") spoke eloquently about the urgency to enact CIR and offered common-sense wisdom that acknowledged just how surreal our immigration policies have become. As Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners -- "a national Christian organization committed to faith in action for social justice" -- remarked, our system causes people to be "stuck between 'No Trespass' and 'Help Wanted' signs."
    The National Strategy Session, organized by the National Immigration Forum, is available for online viewing. The press conference offers the key points:
    ForgingConsensus.org also arranged a full day of visits to Republican and Democratic lawmakers and their staffs. I joined a group that included Mark Shurtleff, Utah's Republican Attorney General, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Robert Gittelson, a business executive and founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
    The meetings offered many new insights beyond merely the post-election recognition by the GOP that now is the time for Congress to reform our immigration laws. One staffer, counsel for a senior Republican, offered a play-by-play, inside-baseball forecast of alternative scenarios but concluded glumly (as I paraphrase):
    No matter what the Republicans do, they will not win. If CIR passes, the Democrats will get most of the credit. If it fails, the Republicans will be blamed.
    A female Member of Congress -- a Democrat -- posed the challenge this way (I'm still paraphrasing):
    I try to start every negotiation by trying to think like the other side. The only way CIR will pass is if Democrats figure out what the Republicans want. They need to show their constituents that the bill that passes promotes conservative values.
    A newish GOP lawmaker suggested several core values he believes his fellow conservative legislators and constituents could embrace (again I paraphrase):
    We would support small-government immigration solutions, family values, entrepreneurship, innovation, and power sharing on immigration between the federal and state governments (perhaps a pilot program in which the feds continue to do the security screening, border protection and administering of the immigration system but states get to experiment with block grants of authority to issue temporary-worker and green-card visas based on local conditions and needs).
    The two days of strategizing with out-of-towners and engaging with Beltway insiders convinced me that CIR -- whether in a grand bargain or in a series of coordinated, interlocking votes on pieces of connected legislation -- enjoys its best prospects for near-term passage in several years.
    The undocumented population, though shrinking from 12 million to 11.1 million between 2007 and 2011 according to recent census data, consists mostly of "mixed-status" families that include U.S. citizens and permanent residents, many of whom are children. This population will not go away by self-deportation; they will remain together with or without new laws. Other than hate-spewing nativists like Ann Coulter and Tom Tancredo, Republicans recognize that the undocumented are human beings, not a "plague of locust[s]." The consensus of economists (other than Karl Marx) is that widening the entryway to our borders will foster prosperity. An "Immigration Hawk," Jim DeMint, is leaving the Senate. A new "Gang of Eight" on immigration has formed in the Senate (Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Sen.-elect Jeff Flake of Arizona). The House is meeting in small groups behind closed doors -- both leading lights and new faces.
    As Utah AG Mark Shurtleff told the audience at the National Strategy Session, now is a "kairos moment" for immigration reform, or as Wikipedia would say, "a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens." Kairos, he noted, also carries a religious significance in that kairos time should be treated as a providential call to action.
    This trip to Washington -- probably because Americans from out of town and from diverse walks of life joined in -- was different. Boots on the town seem to have displaced partisan positioning and lofty rhetoric divorced from action.
    For immigration reform, this kairos call to action, at this auspicious moment, must involve people of good will and sincere motivation, acting inclusively, with country before party, to promote our shared core values -- economic strength, family unity, worker protection, freedom of expression, and religion (or of no religion), border integrity, the rule of law, and human dignity.
    I feel better about the city, and more hopeful for the country.

    Updated 07-16-2013 at 04:01 PM by APaparelli

  2. BIA to Hear Appeal of former Nazi Concentration Camp Guard

    by , 12-10-2012 at 12:18 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    The AP/Washington Post reports that the Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing an appeal of a 2010 deportation order issued to 88-year-old Anton Geiser of Sharon, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Geiser was charged with removal as a result of his service in the Nazi SS where he was a guard in the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps.
    Geiser does not dispute that he was a member of the Nazi's Schutzstaffel (SS), nor that he served as a guard in both the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps:  "I was not proud where I served and I didn't like it then and I didn't like it now." 
    Geiser is represented by Adrien Roe who argues that a then 17-year-old Geiser did not voluntarily serve, and was therefore not really a Nazi.  The Department, represented by Susan Siegal, counters that Geiser's service was not involuntary because he could have refused to serve in the camps, and moreover, the "just following orders" defense already failed at Nuremberg. 
    When I read this story I couldn't help but think of the following quotation attributed to Martin NiemŲller regarding the failure of the people of Germany to take a stand against the Nazis.

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Fortunately for Mr. Geiser he lives in one of the only countries in the entire world where even individuals guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity are guaranteed the right to have someone speak for you. 
    Enjoy your right to due process Mr. Geiser, and be glad that this isn't Nazi Germany.
  3. Letters of the Week: Dec 10 - Dec 14

    Please email your letters to editor@ilw.com or post them directly as "Comment" below.
  4. Another Poll Shows Solid Public Support for Path to Citizenship

    by , 12-10-2012 at 09:20 AM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    One would think that if enough polls show solid public support for a path to citizenship, then FAIR and other groups would be backed in to a corner in their attempts to claim such a move would be unpopular. But, alas, people believe polls that support what they believe and reject those that are contradictory. One test is to look at who is doing the polling. Discount polls funded by groups with a stake in the game and focus on those that are done by organizations that are neutral.
    One such poll is the just released POLITICO/George Washington University poll that shows 62% of the public support an immigration reform plan offering a path to citizenship. This is about the same level of support we saw last month in the exit polls conducted on Election Day which is really THE poll to look at since the same was so big.
    This kind of poll is important because it shows those sigtting on the fence that supporting one of the broader, more generous immigration plans will be viewed favorably both by Latinos and voters generally. The extremists on the right are the only group that cares about this. The fear of being primaried is a real one, but there is no evidence yet that taking a moderate immigration position has been enough to trigger a primary contest. We shall see.
  5. Don't Forget the Doctors

    by , 12-08-2012 at 08:52 PM (Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy)
    We're hearing a lot about STEM professionals and why we need to smooth the path to their getting green cards. But for some reason, the STEM bills introduced to date leave out physicians despite compelling evidence that we face a critical shortage of doctors in this country that will take years - perhaps decades - to solve.  International medical graduates trained in the US are helping to ease this problem. But our immigration laws are not working and a lot of frustrated physicians are finding they end up having to leave the country after their US taxpayer-subsidized training is over.
    Stuart Anderson writes in Forbes about the problem and why Congress needs to act soon.
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