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By all appearances the first meeting held last Thursday to discuss comprehensive immigration reform has been a success, with many more lawmakers in attendance than was originally published by media outlets like La Opinión.

According to a summary by the White House, these were the government officials that were expected to attend the event to discuss ways to move forward with reform, a plan that would eventually provide citizenship to the 11 million people who are already living in the U.S..

ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS:

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
Deputy Attorney General David Ogden
Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:

Senator Richard Durbin
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Jon Kyl
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Mel Martinez
Senator John McCain
Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Chuck Schumer
Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Arlen Specter
Representative Xavier Becerra
Representative Howard Berman
Representative Anh Cao
Representative James Clyburn
Representative John Conyers
Representative Joe Crowley
Representative Lincoln Diaz Balart
Representative Gabrielle Giffords
Representative Luis Gutierrez
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Representative Zoe Lofgren
Representative Adam Putnam
Representative Silvestre Reyes
Representative Loretta Sanchez
Representative Heath Shuler
Representative Lamar Smith
Representative Nydia Velazquez
Representative Anthony Weiner

While I'm personally disheartened to see that no Colorado lawmakers took part in the meeting (Jared Polis where were you?),  there's no denying that outcome of this recent meeting would give immigration rights advocates the first hint of how the White House and Congress were going to approach the issue.

Here are a few points that immediately stood out to me:

A national identification system and a guest worker program

Two of the most contentious issues in the debate for reform—which, by the way, has not yet been drafted and released—have come from the Senate, and more specifically New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Republican Sen. John McCain from Arizona. This shouldn't be surprising, considering the Senate will be the ultimate hurdle in passing reform.

Fear monger and Washington Post scribe Spencer S. Hsu, who just weeks ago claimed that there was "little new" in Obama's immigration policy and that "the changes he has promised to make are couched in nuance" (Obama and his representatives have made it very clear that he supports a path to citizenship for the undocumented. And with the newest meeting to start drafting new policy, how much more louder can you get?) is again trying to stir up feigned outrage by reporting on the mere possibility that "U.S. workers verify their identity through fingerprints or an eye scan."

In a "get tough" narrative that is not new, Hsu reported that Schumer is considering the idea of a national system that would in someway verify work documents as a trade off for a path to citizenship for the undocumented. While there are certainly reasonable concerns about this, especially when considering the disastrous E-Verify program and the collection of biometric data, it's important to remember that this is just a proposal. And I imagine, judging from the American Civil Liberties Union's quick response last Thursday denouncing the biometric verification system, such data collection will be an uphill battle against all groups concerned with civil liberties. It's definitely an issue that needs to be monitored as more details come out about the immigration legislation.

Another contentious proposal, as with the last immigration debate, revolves around the Republican push for a guest worker program of some sort, that would allow foreign workers to come to work in the United States. This is one of the proposals that draws less of a concern from me than it does for others. I think if a guest worker plan is what is needed to get the Senate to approve comprehensive reform, then that is part of the compromise that it takes to pass truly progressive legislation, so long as there are provisions to protect the rights of foreign employees.

While this will no doubt stick in the craw of labor unions that claim to support reform, I'd sooner take, oh say, 100,000 foreigners in the guest worker program if that meant legalizing the millions of undocumented people who are already working, living, and paying taxes in the United States. To me, that is simply a trade-off to passing reform in a Congress that is less progressive than the executive branch. Either way, it's better than working under the radar in dangerous and abusive environments that are rarely subject to federal inspection. Again, this will be another thing to monitor closely.

The pathway to citizenship -

While details are still being hammered out, it's looking like the administration will support a plan similar to the McCain-Kennedy legislation that was in last debate, and that means giving undocumented people in the United States a visa and a social security number that will allow them to stay in the country legally and eventually become citizens, after perhaps, paying additional fees of some sort. What this would do is bring 11 million undocumented people into the sunlight, and away from putative policies like ICE roundups, immigration detention, and Secure Communities database initiatives that break families apart and often have the potential to abuse human and civil rights. If true, this is a step in the right direction.

They must learn English -

This has been another popular claim by both the right and the left, and something I find pretty much a non-issue meant more to curry political favor from constituents. While some immigrant rights supporters are always correct to be suspicious when anyone starts spouting about the necessity of English (which, from a true linguistic perspective, is no better a language than any other language in the world) I don't in anyway see an effort by those in power to try and eradicate the other languages that immigrants speak in their culture. (As if they could ever do that to Spanish speakers to begin with, with an estimated 34 million people in the United States who speak the language anyway.) Yeah, it's very useful to know English in the United States, but that doesn't mean that immigrants can't speak Spanish, or Chinese, or any other native tongue. In fact, Obama has even said that "everyone should be bilingual."

In summary, there are a lot of important issues to look at when it comes to reform, and it will be that vigilance that pays off when Congress starts debating the issue late this year or the next.

Originally posted to Gabacha on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 04:11 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Immigration diaries... (3+ / 0-)

    Rarely make the rec list. If can, please do recommend coverage of this very important issue.

  •   Non-issue? If you don't have a... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark27

    This has been another popular claim by both the right and the left, and something I find pretty much a non-issue meant more to curry political favor from constituents.

    unifying language you don't have a country. Look north to Canada and Quebec.

    •  Quebec is still part of Canada. (0+ / 0-)

      Last I checked, anyway.

      Belgium seems to get by with more than one language.  So does Switzerland.  Granted, they're smaller than either Canada or the United States.....

      ... Where is Baldwin?
      ... Où est Lafontaine?

      by Wisewood on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 07:14:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You need to check again. The majority of... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wisewood

        French speakers in Quebec want to leave Canada. The only reason that Quebec doesn't leave is because the English speakers in Quebec vote to stay part of Canada.

        Belgium will probably split into 2 countries in the next 5 to 10 years. You would know that if you knew anything about Belgium.

        Lastly Switzerland isn't really a country in the the modern sense of the term. It is a confederation with a very decentralized government and each canton can leave if it so pleases.

        •  Still a part of Canada. (0+ / 0-)

          French speakers in Quebec want to leave Canada. The only reason that Quebec doesn't leave is because the English speakers in Quebec vote to stay part of Canada.

          That still counts as a win.

          But I don't believe that you're correct on one thing; Quebec is over 85% francophone, so if the referendum vote was split solely along language lines - with the French voting yes and the English voting no - Quebec's independence would be a done deal, by now.  

          Support for out-and-out independence for Quebec isn't that strong, either, and never really has been even among French Quebecois.  That 'mushiness' is one reason why the 1995 referendum had such an ambiguous question;  one which in turn required the Federal government to pass the Clarity Act in response.  

          Support for full-on Quebec independence is often somewhere in the mid-30 percentile.  Not saying it's dead, but - with respect - it does not seem as large a threat to Canada's integrity as you seem to believe.

          Belgium will probably split into 2 countries in the next 5 to 10 years. You would know that if you knew anything about Belgium.

          I never said that I know much about Belgium - I just look at the numbers.  And I only said they seem to get by, alright.

          And, like you said, they "probably" will split.  But that's not for certain;  Nothing like that is a sure bet.  After all, they've managed, what, 170-some years together?

          ... Where is Baldwin?
          ... Où est Lafontaine?

          by Wisewood on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 12:24:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually it doesn't. The majority of... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wisewood

            That still counts as a win.

            French speakers want to have a separate country. If Quebec was 100% French it would be independent by now.

            But I don't believe that you're correct on one thing; Quebec is over 85% francophone, so if the referendum vote was split solely along language lines - with the French voting yes and the English voting no - Quebec's independence would be a done deal, by now.

            The vote was very, very, close. The English speakers were overwhelmingly against independence and therefore pushed the no vote over the top.

            And I only said they seem to get by, alright.

            The Flemish and French have completely separate institutions and cultures. Most Flemish people don't socialize with French and vis versa. The national government is very weak and the regional governments, based on language, are very strong. Political parties are also based on language. They have a French liberal party and a Flemish liberal party. The reason the break up hasn't happened is because the Flemish north gives transfer payments to the French south and they don't know what to do with Brussels. Is this the type of situation that you want the US to be in?

            •  Would it? Really? (0+ / 0-)

              French speakers want to have a separate country. If Quebec was 100% French it would be independent by now.

              As I said, Quebec is over 85% francophone;  If independence was what the French-speaking Quebecois were after, it would have been a done deal long ago because they form the vast majority in the province.

              But I'm not quite convinced that independence is what many French-speaking "Oui" voters in 1995 were after - as the Parti Quebecois' sagging political fortunes in subsequent years and that recent poll that I posted, above, seem to show.  Those voters definately seem to be more towards getting a "better deal" for Quebec within Canada, at least in financial terms (as that is what both referendum questions specifically talked about) -- but not leaving the country outright.  

              As you mentioned transfer payments in Belgium's example, it's probably important to note that Quebec is, by a fair margin, the largest recipient of equalization dollars in Canada.  Leaving the country would likely not be in their best interest -- at least in the short term.

              The vote was very, very, close. The English speakers were overwhelmingly against independence and therefore pushed the no vote over the top.

              It was close in 1995 - despite voting irregularities in a few "No" areas - but the referendum was not intended to be the last word, had the result been a "Yes" victory.

              Put bluntly, the '95 referendum was meant to "corral" people who were not sold on secession - the majority - onto the road to Quebec independence, with people like Jacques Parizeau in the driver's seat.  Parizeau admitted as much in interviews for the documentary Breaking Point.  He said a "Yes" vote on the referendum question in '95 would have only given him the permission to negotiate a "new deal" for Quebec within Canada (as the referendum question alluded to) but not for Quebec's independence from Canada (which the question did not).

              Parizeau's perspective, of course, was that such efforts at negotiating a "new deal for Quebec" would be widely rebuffed by Canada - which would cause severe backlash in Quebec.  He was confident that he could then utilize that backlash to win a second referendum on actual independence for Quebec.

              Parizeau also stated his initial preference for a simplified question in 1995 - his example was, "Would you like Quebec to become an independent country?  Yes or No?" - but he compromised on the final referendum question for the sake of political expediency and the fact that most Quebecois weren't on-board, as polls showed.  It was also the preference of some higher-profile and more charismatic figures in the Quebec sovereigntist movement - namely, Lucien Bouchard - for a 'softer' question.

              ... Where is Baldwin?
              ... Où est Lafontaine?

              by Wisewood on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 10:37:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are missing the whole point. Everything... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wisewood

                you are saying basically proves my argument that a common language is needed to have a common people. The fact that a huge chunk (maybe a majority, maybe not)of Francophone people in Quebec want to negotiate with and/or leave Canada proves that Canada isn't really a stable country (not that violence is going to break out or anything).

                •  I see your point, but... (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't think the Quebecois would leave even if they were shown an open door.  To be quite honest, the Quebecois appear to get more out of the threat of secession than they probably would out of actual secession - and collectively seem quite aware of that.  I can't see that changing.

                  And out here, in Canada's West, people seem prone to grumbling - with a minority whining about secession - when they don't feel they're getting their way in federal politics.  They never actually get anywhere, though.

                  It all tends to balance out;  in a weird way, it seems to make the country stable.  But maybe that won't always be so.

                  ... Where is Baldwin?
                  ... Où est Lafontaine?

                  by Wisewood on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 01:00:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  This Was Supposed To Happen With IRCA (0+ / 0-)

    In a "get tough" narrative that is not new, Hsu reported that Schumer is considering the idea of a national system that would in someway verify work documents as a trade off for a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

    A 'tamper-proof' ID was supposed to be implemented in 1986, and is a primary reasons why the 'comprehensive immigration reform' of 1986 did not work.

    ISR/Westat Legislative History

    <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

    by superscalar on Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 05:01:34 PM PDT

    •  Nobody Expected the Immigration Reform of 1986... (0+ / 0-)

      ....to work...just as most don't expect the reform of 2009 to work either.  They know that amnesty/path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants in 2009 will simply lead to amnesty/path to citizenship for 25 million new illegal immigrants in 2029.  It's an endless cycle that the nation's power brokers do not expect to resolve and have no intention of ever resolving.

  •  One reform that they must have (0+ / 0-)

    is to create a database that police officers will be able to access when arresting a suspect for a crime to determine if the person is here legally. As for pushing for putting those who are illegally into a path to legal residency I would demand that they do not extend that privilege to those who have committed violent crimes.

  •  Only E-Verify can save the American Worker (0+ / 0-)

    There has been limited mention that if an error appears when a new hires is run through E-Verify. They can then challenge the discrepancy by taking their identification documents to the Social Security Administration to be cleared.  Very seldom this happens because  E-Verification has a 99.5 success rate and this computer based national identification program is being upgraded continuously for the workplace. This type of information remains undisclosed by the special interest lobby that caters especially to the businesses and remains silent about where to get problems resolved.

    These organization that have an un-American worker attitude, have been extreme in the renouncement's. These organizations have spread their rhetoric, half-truths using negative information that does not promote the system. It would no sense at all for bona-fide citizens and permanent residents, having no avenue to rectify an error when an employer uses E-Verify.

    It's mainly companies and contractors that have something to hide, who ignore the E-Verify system. But with all innovations to national security and immigration enforcement you can almost guarantee that politicians in the deep pocket of the special interest groups unfunded its operation or kill it completely. Another method to undermine its use is for Washington legislators to author another enforcement system that in truth has not been nationally tested. E-Verify works and should not be voluntary for any employer, but a mandatory regulation with severe penalties.

    On the Internet the bloggers, numerous newspapers and other media have clearly shown from letters that businesses that have hired illegal workers, have been able to outbid honest employers for jobs.  Many small companies have lost their livelihood as they have been unable to compete with rogue employers, specifically in the construction industry.

    •  E-Verify Cannot Tell The Employer (0+ / 0-)

      Whether the person presenting the Social Security card actually owns that Social Security card. E-Verify can only tell the employer whether the number is a valid number or not.

      Five hundred people could be using the same valid Social Security card, all five hundred people could present the same Social Security card to the same employer, and E-Verify would tell that employer that all of these people can legally work in the U.S.

      While E-Verify is better than nothing, it is not the panacea that some people seem to think it is.

      <div style="font-size:10px;text-align:center;background-color:#ffd;color:#f33">If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow - G. Bush

      by superscalar on Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 09:47:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  More spam (0+ / 0-)

      You post the same screeds everywhere I post. What are you doing, stalking me? E-verify is not only a confusing nightmare for business owners, it's very difficult to implement on a governmental level. But then again, it's not like you've ever used well-established facts in your ranting.

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