Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The Coming Storm

As we approach this year's election cycle, progressives are optimistic for success. With the Abramoff, and Plame investigations, Katrina, Delay, Frist, Iraq, domestic spying, torture, rendition and a myriad of other failures, crimes and lies tainting Republicans, many believe victory is assured for Democrats. Yet while all the stars seem to be in alignment for a tectonic shift, we must remember how effective the Republicans were at framing the debate in the 2004 election cycle. Although the reasons for Bush's re-election could be argued ad infinitum, it's safe to say that the opposition was blindsided by a successful campaign on the part of the Republicans to continually re-frame the debate and shift focus away from Administration failures to oversimplified wedge issues and character attacks. This is evidenced by the ineffective response to "values" issues such as "gay marriage" and the swift boating campaign waged against Kerry. For over a year, many on the left have been warning that the issue of illegal immigration could become the next Republican distractive wedge to shift the debate. It appears now that they will be proven right.

In response to the current revelations of failure and corruption the Republicans have been busy formulating their next electoral diversion …. or should I say … 11 million electoral diversions. Even a cursory examination of recent Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislative proposals on both the national and local levels reveals a growing campaign to shift the focus of the upcoming elections away from the real issues at hand to a xenophobic/racist referendum on the 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in this country today.

(more below the fold)

HR 698 "Citizenship Reform Act of 2005" Sponsored by Deal (R-GA)

This Act may be cited as the `Citizenship Reform Act of 2005'.
It is the purpose of this Act to deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.
(a) In General- Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101) is amended by inserting after subsection (c) the following new subsection:
`(d) For purposes of section 301(a), a person born in the United States shall be considered as `subject to the jurisdiction of the United States' if--
`(1) the child was born in wedlock in the United States to a parent either of whom is (A) a citizen or national of the United States, or (B) an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence and maintains his or her residence (as defined in subsection (a)(33)) in the United States; or
`(2) the child was born out of wedlock in the United States to a mother who is (A) a citizen or national of the United States, or (B) an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence and maintains her residence in the United States.
For purposes of this subsection, a child is considered to be `born in wedlock' only if both parents are married to each other and parents are not considered to be married if such marriage is only a common law marriage.'.
(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 301 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1401) is amended by inserting `(as defined in section 101(d))' after `subject to the jurisdiction thereof'.
(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to aliens born on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

1. The bill is obviously unconstitutional under the 14th amendment and would not hold up to review by the courts but that appears to be of little consequence as it's real purpose is to allow Republicans to claim they are taking a tough stand on illegal immigration.
2. Also of note is Sec 3, (2) that states that a child would be considered a citizen when born "out of wedlock" only in the case when the mother is a citizen or legal resident. If a male citizen was to father a child "out of wedlock" with a non-citizen woman that child would not be considered a citizen under this bill. (Is this provision to protect unsuspecting males from being "entrapped" by wilely illegal immigrants into fathering unwanted "anchor babies"?)

In Wahington Republicans Propose Constitutional Changes
Republican wants to change Census count
A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday proposed changing the U.S. Constitution to exclude non-citizens from the Census for the purpose of drawing congressional districts, a move that effectively would deny them a voice in U.S. politics.
Under the present system, as determined by the 14th amendment to the Constitution, the Census Bureau counts all individuals living in the country once every 10 years. This data is used when drawing up the 435 congressional districts and when determining each state's vote in the Electoral College that decides presidential elections.
Michigan Rep. Candice Miller wants to change that so that both legal and illegal aliens would be excluded.

Miller's proposal comes amid a growing tide of anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly among Republicans in the House of Representatives. Several proposals are under consideration to toughen border controls and make it more difficult for employers to give jobs to illegal aliens.
According to Clark Bensen of Polidata, a Virginia firm which analyses demographic information, excluding non-citizens would have boosted President George W. Bush's margin of victory in the Electoral College from 4 to 12 votes in the disputed 2000 election and from 34 to 42 in 2004.
Miller's proposal ran into fierce resistance from Democrats and Hispanic leaders as well as from a former head of the Census Bureau who said it would politicize the count, diminish public confidence in the census and make it more inaccurate.
"The Census Bureau cannot become a quasi-investigatory agency and still perform its basic responsibilities as a statistical agency," said Kenneth Prewitt who headed the agency from 1998 to 2000 and oversaw the last national census.
"Lawful members of our society who pay income, property and sales taxes as well as for your and my Social Security, will ask why they are being denied the earliest and most basic right of our democracy -- political representation," Prewitt said.

The chances of the Republicans re-writing the Constitution are slim to say the least, but the mere fact that they are raising the issue of how representation is calculated is very telling. Their willingness to suggest denying representation to those legally living in this country illustrates either a complete lack of understanding of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, or more likely, a belief on their part that the vast majority of Americans could be whipped into such a frenzy of fear and hate that they would be willing entertain the notion of suspending one of their most basic rights.

HR 4437/4312 "Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" Sponsored by Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
The Sensenbrenner bill has now moved over to the Senate for review. This bill has been covered extensively in the liberal press and blogs.
The bill would:

  • Increase security forces and surveillance along the border.
  • Give the power to immigration officials within 100 miles of the border to expel without a hearing anyone believed to be a recently arrived illegal immigrant.
  • Expand mandatory detention to apply to all non-citizens arriving at a port of entry or “along” the border.
  • Limit the basic rights of immigrants to judicial review, even by the constitutionally guaranteed writ of habeas corpus.
  • Criminalize all violations of immigration law, even if the violation was unintentional or the result of processing delays
  • Give additional powers to detain non-citizens indefinitely without judicial review, potentially placing many non-citizens in a legal black hole that subjects them to a life sentence after having served a criminal sentence, or, in some cases, without ever having been convicted of a crime.

Additionally the bill would "broaden the immigrant-smuggling law so that people who assist or shield illegal immigrants would be subject to prosecution. Offenders, who might include priests, nurses or social workers, could face up to five years in prison. The proposal would also allow the authorities to seize some assets of those convicted of such a crime."
Here is another bill that could not pass the constitutionality test. It raises serious questions in regards to the 5th (due process), 6th (speedy trial) 8th (cruel and unusual punishment) amendments along with the habeas corpus provisions of Article 1sec.9.

South Carolina
State Representative John Graham Altman sponsored a bill that would subject illegal immigrants to a mandatory five year prison sentence and the loss of their cash and cars for immigration violations.

Altman of Charleston says the message is South Carolina is not going to be a haven for illegal aliens.
Altman's legislation is the latest from legislators around the nation who want tougher laws to curb illegal immigration.
Legislators in 21 states this year introduced more than 80 bills targeting illegal immigrants and their access to public services, including education and health care; let local police make immigration arrests or force government service agencies to report illegal immigrants.
In South Carolina alone, legislator's proposals have included barring illegal immigrants from receiving workers' compensation benefits and requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote or seeking help from public assistance programs.

Here we have another bill that obviously would not stand up to court review. The property rights guarantees of the 4th and 5th amendment would prohibit any attempt to confiscate "cash and cars" from illegal immigrants. As with HR 698 this bills purpose is more political than practical and is intended to stir up anti-immigrant sentiments and provided talking points on the campaign trail rather than to actually test Constitutional boundaries or effect immigration restrictions.

RICHMOND -- A new Virginia law that bars illegal aliens from receiving state-funded benefits goes into effect tomorrow.
The law restricts anybody without a Social Security number from receiving Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families, and help from several other state and local programs.
Supporters say the measure could save the state millions.
"A lot of us were saying, instead of raising taxes, why don't we start prioritizing where we're spending our existing money," said Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax Republican, who sponsored the bill. "One of the things we found was the state was not checking for legal presence for Medicaid."
Activists who oppose the new law say it duplicates other state and federal statutes that already block illegal aliens from receiving government benefits. For example, federal law prohibits immigrants without green cards or work visas from receiving food stamps and assistance from similar programs.
They also say the new law might confuse legal immigrants and keep them from applying for benefits to which they are entitled.

Here we have a bill that duplicates existing laws. Its sole purpose is to allow those who support it to enhance their anti-immigrant bona fides.

Manassas's War on Immigrants
WRITING FOR the Supreme Court, Justice Powell sensibly struck down a singularly ludicrous municipal attempt to define family living arrangements so strictly that it would criminalize a grandmother's choice to live with her grandson. Now comes the city of Manassas with an equally outrageous zoning ordinance. Under the guise of upholding standards in its pristine neighborhoods, it would outlaw households consisting of a family's cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. Quite aside from the law's probable unconstitutionality, it is patently bigoted.
Like other suburban localities in this region, Manassas is undergoing a demographic shift as Hispanic immigrants, legal and undocumented, move into what were once relatively homogenous neighborhoods. Some of the immigrants share housing with their relatives to help out with the rent or mortgage -- the sort of arrangement that the late Justice Powell, a proud Virginian, would recognize as part of the striving that constitutes the American dream. Some communities are welcoming, others less so; in Manassas, city officials decided that the best way to deal with the immigrants was to harass them.
In an act of Big Brotherish government intrusion, they changed a zoning law to redefine family units suitable for cohabitation -- and to exclude uncles, aunts and others they deem as undesirables. To enforce their decree, Manassas authorities are sending inspectors into selected city households to interrogate hard-working people about the numbers and relationships of the inhabitants.
Ostensibly, the city's purpose is to address problems of crowding, parking and garbage arising from overlarge households. But don't be fooled. Large Anglo families whose grown, live-at-home children might all park on the street or overstuff the garbage bins have nothing to fear. Rather, city inspectors charged with enforcing the new law are responding to complaints, and the complaints are almost invariably about Hispanics households -- not necessarily ones that are overcrowded. In the law's conception and enforcement, there is blatant racial skewing. The idea in changing the law's definition of a family was "to make sure these peripheral people start to be winnowed out," Brian Smith, the city's chief building official, told The Post.

All of these proposals seem to have a common thread running through them. They will most likely never pass judicial review yet they provided ammunition for Republicans to use against opponents. Just as the anti-gay campaign of 2004 or the quixotic Teri Schiavo fiasco provided talking points and red herrings to shield the Republicans from critical analysis of their policies, the anti-immigrant rhetoric starting to come out of the right-wing is intended to frame a debate that would not, and should not, exist in American political discourse if it was not for their efforts.

One look at the rhetoric coming from the most rabid anti-immigrant Republicans not only shows how ready they are to demonize immigrants, but how far they are willing to go to instill fear in general electorate. A quick survey of some of the "news headlines" featured on Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan's Team America website gives a good idea as to the level the hate speech can reach in the demonization campaign:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have arrest 582 illegal gang members in July Better immigration law enforcement will help stop terrorism
After numerous instances of ICE not doing their job, they finally show some progress to protect us from illegal immigration.
Illegal aliens decapitate children
Mimi Quezada's children and their 10-year-old male cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada were found butchered in their Northwest Baltimore apartment May 27, 2004,
Illegal aliens gaining access to weapons-of-mass-destruction facility
It has now been almost four years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But because the Bush administration has not made a priority of securing our border and enforcing the immigration laws within the United States itself, it has also failed in at least one instance to secure a weapons-of-mass-destruction facility on our own soil
More than 50 killed in London terrorist bombing with the numbers rising!
We must make a stand to secure our nation's borders. Terrorist like those in London can illegally cross our borders by the THOUSANDS every day. We must do something before we have more terrorist attacks on our soil!
Illegal immigrants bringing tuberculosis, our children at risk
There are over one million illegal alien children attend K-12 schools across the United States. They are the sons and daughters of parents who escaped disease testing at our nation’s borders. Anyone of them could be among the 16,000 new cases of TB within our borders. What do all illegal aliens have in common? They do not want to be deported so they avoid checking into health clinics
Drug resistant tuberculosis on the rise due to "foreign born" population
A multidrug-resistant tuberculosis known as MDR-TB is persistent in California, primarily among its "foreign-born" population, and has serious financial implications for the state's public-health system...
Weak borders vulnerable to nuclear smuggling
The federal government's efforts to prevent terrorists from smuggling a nuclear weapon into the United States are so poorly managed and reliant on ineffective equipment that the nation remains extremely vulnerable to a catastrophic attack, scientists and a government auditor warned a House committee on Tuesday...

When the American public is faced with the prospect of a horde of aliens ready to decapitate their children and spread tuberculosis while armed with weapons of mass destruction it will become the Republicans solemn duty to once again protect us from those who hate us for our freedom.

The time has come for Progressives to wake up and see the gathering storm before it is too late. Once the campaign to "Blame the Wetbacks" for all of America's ills begins it will be nearly impossible to stop the racist juggernaut. Just as they did in 2004, the right wing will deflect all criticism of their failed policies and blame an easily demonized scapegoat. Last time it was the "gays" and their elitist (effeminate, "Frenchy") allies who were destroying America, this time around it will be the immigrants who will be in the crosshairs if we don't stop them before it begins.

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