Obama Stops Deportations of Undocumented Youth

The Obama Administration announced today it will cease deporting youth who were brought here without papers when they were young.  The new policy essentially makes DREAM Act eligible youth secure in their homes.  DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano released this statement this morning:


WASHINGTON- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children,  do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. Today’s action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals.

Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:

1.)    Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;

2.)    Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

3.)    Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4.)    Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

5.)    Are not above the age of thirty.

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action.  Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date.  Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis.  DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days.  In the meantime, individuals seeking more information on the new policy should visit USCIS’s website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE’s website (at www.ice.gov), or DHS’s website (at www.dhs.gov).  Beginning Monday, individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.

For individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria and have been offered an exercise of discretion as part of ICE’s ongoing case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer them deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.


Barletta Linked to Nativists/Neo-Nazis

Congressman Lou Barletta who rode immigrant bashing to Washington has linked himself to Jim Gilchrest of Minuteman infamy and through that relationship, to Neo-Nazi groups surrounding Gilchrest.  The heated rhetoric created by Barletta resulted in the beating murder of an undocumented Mexican in Shenandoah, not far from Lou’s home in Hazleton.  Words do have consequences and besides using his inflamed rhetoric to get to DC the Congressman got there by attaching his coattails to some very unsavory souls.

Jim Gilchrest formed the Nativist, racist group Minutemen and eventually was forced out when he was accused of stealing donations.  He then formed a webiste largely devoted to promoting himself and has appeared at rallies and events supporting Congressional candidates.  Everywhere he goes he is surrounded by Neo-Nazis.  He also was a strong supporter of murderer Shawna Forde who conducted a brutal home invasion in Arizona and killed a 9 year old Hispanic girl and her father.

Congressman Barletta received an award from Gilchrest while attending the CPAC conference.  Why would a Pennsylvania Congressman associate himself with someone who defends racist murderers, is surrounded by Neo-Nazis in full regalia, and who constantly demeans minorities?  Attending the presentation were several virulent white nationalists:

William Johnson

Jared Taylor

The Council of Conservative Citizens

Timothy P. Dionisopoulos

Lou Barletta is openly associating with white supremacists and accepting an award from nativist Jim Gilchrest.  Is this what we as Pennsylvanians want associated with our Commonwealth?  What this says about Congressman Barletta is obvious.

Arizona’s Overreach

This is a guest column by Lorenzo Canizares:

By Lorenzo Canizares

Last Month the Texas town of Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, had a city ordinance which is very similar in scope to Arizona’s SB 1070; receive a permanent injunction from Judge Jane Boyle in Dallas, with Judge Boyle declaring “the authority to regulate immigration is exclusively a federal matter.”

As we all should know, immigration is not a new problem for our nation. Former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan said this about immigration conflicts after writing a 5-4 decision in 1982 against Texas attempt to establish its own immigration laws, Brennan said “Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial “shadow population” of illegal migrants – numbering in the millions – within our borders. This situation raises the specter of a permanent caste of undocumented resident aliens, encouraged by some to remain here as a source of cheap labor, but nevertheless denied the benefits that our society makes available to citizens and lawful residents. The existence of such an underclass presents most difficult problems for a Nation that prides itself on adherence to principles of equality under law.”

The Washington Spectator newsletter states that it cost the city of Farmers Branch $ 3.5 million in taxpayer dollars to defend the ordinance drafted by Kris Kobach, who is running for secretary of state in Kansas, but who also helped draft the Arizona law, and who has also been instructing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to refine arrest procedures to conform with the new Arizona law. Let’s not forget that Sheriff Arpaio needs plenty of instruction, after all, he is facing a Justice Department investigation for civil rights abuse. Kobach is working together with Republican State Senator Russell Pearce, the lead sponsor of the law. Pearce sent out a mass e-mail that included an attachment from a neo-nazi group (which he claimed was inadvertently mailed, but provides an insight into his reading material). Pearce keeps ties with neo-nazi J.T. Ready who in an anti-immigration rally in June 2006 publicly praised Pearce as a “Statesman.”

There is no doubt that this new “attempt” to usurp federal power is a direct result of “Congress and the White House shoving immigration to the back burner” as stated by columnist Clarence Page. Page also points out that this impasse began to occur after the failure of President George W. Bush and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain failed mightily to pass a reasonable “Pathway to Citizenship” approach that its right-wing opponents falsely but effectively labeled “amnesty.” But, we can’t also fail to point out that this law is an attempt to give some in the Republican Party an issue to rally around come November. The fact that this issue is repugnant is of no concern to many of these Republican leaders. They have mastered the art of spinning repugnant issues. I will be remiss if I give the impression that the entire Republican Party is behind this repugnant law. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush amongst others quickly expressed its opposition to SB1070. But, the Bush family is in the outs with certain components of the new Republican Party. And when “independent” Republican thinkers like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham do not toe the line, hard-liners as those from “Americans for Legal Immigration” neutralize them by threatening to spread rumors about his private life. As Frank Rich confides “Graham has been backing away from supporting the immigration bill ever since.”

To the honest observer it should be clear that the struggle in Arizona is not about a legitimate concern to straighten out our immigration laws, but rather an attempt to set the base to legitimize abuse against brown-skinned people, and propagate a white supremacy agenda that will serve as a rallying point to coalesce disaffected whites. Do not forget that Arizona has also tried to pass a law requiring presidential candidates to make available their birth certificate. SB1070 legalizes racial profiling by justifying questioning under the guise of reasonable suspicion. This will make any brown-skinned American citizen be a victim of probable cause. New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American, has called for a boycott of the 2011 Major League All-Star baseball game to protest the legitimization of racial profiling. After all, a sizable number of major-league players are of Hispanic/Latino extraction. God knows what could happen to them if they want to get a pizza late at night in a lawfully bigoted Arizona.


Moving Forward: What Comes Next?

Now that the past year was dominated with talk of health insurance reform the focus in Washington will shift.  To what?  What will be the next major piece of legislation dominating the airwaves of public discourse:  immigration, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, regulation of Wall Street or something else?  The wars have pretty much disappeared from the radar so these are likely the main areas for debate.  A large public demonstration last weekend got lost in the news about the health care vote.  This is another divisive issue in which a very vocal, extremist minority wishes to force its opinion on everyone else, much like health care.  Is America ready to dive into another major issue immediately?  I suspect the country needs a breather for a few weeks.

Financial reform has been moving slowly through Congress for about a year, swallowed up by the manufactured hysteria over hcr.  Another major issue yet to be addressed is climate change and that must be addressed soon.  The big banks are quietly funding Republicans and K Street lobbyists to battle new regulations on the horrors which collapsed the global economy and made $7 trillion in wealth disappear, cost us 8 million jobs and force 7 million American homeowners into foreclosure.  This was a disaster of epic proportions and one the American people want fixed.  Congress must have the fortitude to pass meaningful legislation.  So far the proposals put forward are lukewarm.  They don’t go anywhere nearly far enough and as they get watered down I’m getting deja vu.

Democrats made a fatal mistake in health care reform by beginning in the middle and having to move so far right it became health insurance reform instead.  I see the same mistake happening in financial regulation.  Sen. Dodd and even Congressman Kanjorski must present stronger bills in the House and Senate.  The intense lobbying effort combined with a huge warchest amassed by the Chamber of Commerce to brainwash Americans in the media are poised to defeat this legislation.  They must start with a strong bill so it doesn’t end up not being worth the paper on which it is printed.

The Obama Administration seems to have guts for the fight over DADT.  They have pushed it to the back burner and allowed the Pentagon to ignore any progressive movement toward equality.  Key core Democratic constituencies want our issues addressed next and President Obama must motivate the Party base for November’s elections.  Taking  a few months off will then present us with summer, a time when no one wants to be in DC much less do anything.  This spring is a chance to move forward on new sweeping legislation.  Strong financial reform will tell the voters this President is looking out for them and not just the Wall Street fat cats who destroyed so many loves.  Voters want to see accountability for the crimes which have gone unpunished and they want curbs enacted to prevent these abuses from ruining their retirements again.  This is the single biggest issue available for which Democrats can vilify Republicans and remind voters, going into November, who is responsible for their destroyed financial condition.  Let them spend tens of millions on television brainwashing on Fox News, the people know who deregulated Wall Street and now they want them to pay.  They want retribution but revenge isn’t the answer, new, strong regulation with teeth and enforcement is what is desired and Obama and Congress can gain much by doing this properly.  If they are weak again and battle amongst themselves again it will be a bloodbath at the polls.

Thank You Lou Barletta, Dobbs

Lou Barletta may have won these elections for Democrats this year with a major assist from Lou Dobbs.  Their constant pounding of Hispanics for all the nation’s ills drove them, by the millions, to vote Democratic this year.  Thank you Lou.  Both of you.

Bigotry does, indeed, live on as Kirk noted in his article about Proposition 8.  Hopefully we can now put much of that behind us as the nation has definitively rejected the politics of fear and desperation.  The idea that a Lou Barletta can ride a wave of intolerance, lies and fear to Washington is wrong and misguided.  The voters thought so too and voted against the fear mongers.

The challenge for Democrats will be keeping the Hispanic voters by passing comprehensive immigration reform.  It may not be the first year with the many priorities but it must be before the 2010 election.