Saturday, August 30, 2008

Republican Platform Committee takes sharp turn to the right, and a dump on the Constitution

With all eyes turned to Denver and the historic events unfolding there, Republicans met to hammer out the details of John McCain's platform to be unveiled this coming week. One crucial question regarding just how much McCain would waver on some of his previously held positions in order to mollify the right-wing was answered with the release of the first draft of the immigration plank.

In sharp contrast to the 2004 platform, whose immigration plank clearly reflected the highly flawed Bush/McCain doctrine on immigration reform, relying heavily on a pro-business guest-worker program, a modified and somewhat limited path to citizenship for the 12 mill undocumented workers, and stricter enforcement with limited judicial review, this year's platform is based entirely upon increased enforcement, raids and deportation.

The current platform full-throatily endorses the "deportation through attrition" model so favored by hate groups like FAIR and their allies in the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus led by ex-FAIR lobbyist Brian Bilbray.

While the 2004 platform at least tried to leave a modicum of human dignity for migrant workers intact by paying lip service to " the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants" and the essential role they play in the nation's economic vitality, this years platform, after four years of a campaign of misinformation from anti-immigrant activists, reflects more the rants of Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs than a practical governing tool.

The Democratic platform released earlier left much to be desired in it's immigration language, but the striking differences between what came out of Denver, and what will come out this week in the Twin Cities speaks volumes to the effectiveness of the anti-immigrant forces over the last few years to shape national discourse.

In addition to a strict adherence to enforcing "the rule of law" as the chief mechanism for repairing a fatally flawed immigration system, the new platform calls for the full support of the error-filled E-Verify system that would leave millions of legitimate workers unable to prove their employment eligibility.

Additionally it calls for even less judicial oversight and adherence to basic constitutional protections- even in the wake of the revelations of the civil right abuses that took place in Postville. It calls for closer co-operation between state, local, and federal agencies on immigration matters, and penalties for "sanctuary cities" that "refuse to participate in what is an essential national security campaign." and unequivocally states that drivers licenses for undocumented workers and in-state tuition for children of undocumented parents are off the table….and of course warns Senator McCain not to even think about any "amnesty" program

Supporting Humane and Legal Immigration (2004 Platform)

The Republican Party supports reforming the immigration system to ensure that it is legal, safe, orderly and humane. It also supports measures to ensure that the immigration system is structured to address the needs of national security. America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of
immigrants, and the Republican Party honors them. A growing economy requires a growing number of workers, and President Bush has proposed a new temporary worker program that applies when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This new program would allow workers who currently hold jobs to come out of the shadows and to participate legally in America’s economy. It would allow men and women who enter the program to apply for citizenship in the same manner as those who apply from outside the United States. There must be strong workplace enforcement with tough penalties against employees and employers who violate immigration laws. We oppose amnesty because it would have the effect of encouraging illegal immigration and would give an unfair advantage to those who have broken our laws.

To better ensure that immigrants enter the United States only through legal means that allow for verification of their identity, reconnaissance cameras, border patrol agents, and unmanned aerial flights have all been increased at the border. In addition, Border Patrol agents now have sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens without having first to go through the cumbersome process of allowing the illegal alien to have a hearing before an immigration judge. We support these efforts to enforce the law while welcoming immigrants who enter America through legal avenues.

2004 Republican platform (PDF)

Enforcing the Rule of Law at the Border and Throughout the Nation (2008 Platform)

Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country.

Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration.

Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist.

But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that E-Verify must be renewed and receive the federal government’s full support. It does not mean a national ID card.

The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay – and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult.

It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry.

It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation.

It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences for self-described sanctuary cities, which refuse to participate in what is an essential national security campaign.

It does not mean driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens.

We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people’s rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law.

Draft 2008 Republican Platform (PDF)

2008 Republican Platform Final (PDF)

While the platform itself demonstrates just how far to the right the Republican party has moved in the past four years, from the party of Bush/McCain to that of HR4437 and worse, it was during the amendment process of the Platform Committee that the true nature of the wingnuttery was most evident.

On the second day of deliberations nearly 45minutes were spent debating an amendment from Colorado representative Kandal Unruh that attempted to overturn the 14th amendment and deny citizenship to native –born children of undocumented parents. Despite repeated attempts by cooler heads to explain that the constitutional protections of the14th amendment are vital to our nation and that no platform plank could overturn the constitution, Unruh and her allies continuously riled against "anchor babies" and the need to protect the nation from the growing brown menace.

At another point, a heated discussion took place when an amendment was proposed to change the way the census is calculated for apportioning congressional seats and the receiving of government services.

Proponents of the amendment wanted to prevent non-citizens from being counted in any further censuses as they claimed it "skews" certain regions with large immigrant populations giving the "legal" residents undue government influence. Again, the anti-immigrant forces had to be reminded that the constitution clearly states that representation is based upon residence not citizenship. To their reasoning the undocumented don't even warrant the 3/5 count the Framers allotted to slaves ….. but then again with their opposition to the 14th amendment that might have been a moot point in their minds anyway

This followed on opening day of deliberations that was just as contentious and mired down in radical anti-immigrant arguments.

Two delegates wanted to harden the language surrounding the issue of amnesty. The draft read, “We oppose amnesty.” But, delegates from North Carolina and Colorado wanted to include opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform” because they believe it is a code word for amnesty. This sparked a heated discussion between members with a delegate from Washington DC who said that the Republican Party is a “not a xenophobic party, not an intolerant party. We are a compassionate party that insists on the rule of law and endorses federal law,” said Bud McFarlane. Kendal Unruh from Colorado, who wanted to include “opposition to comprehensive immigration reform” to the draft, seemed to take offense to that statement citing her missionary work and saying that she would “never have the label” of xenophobic “slapped on me.” She continued to press that the committee add the tougher language to stop “behind the door tactics” to prevent “amnesty” of illegal aliens.


The immigration debate continued when the topic of English being the “accepted” language of the country opposed to the “official” language of the United States. The draft stated that English is the “common” and “accepted” language. The delegates from North Carolina and Colorado again wanted stronger language to make English the “official” language of the country.

Sam Winder from New Mexico wanted to add language that welcomed other languages, but did state that English was the official language of the country. Disagreement between the two sides continued, but a compromise was agreed on and put into the draft.

Faux Noize

Clearly, the anti-immigrant forces have full control of the Republican Party at this point and even the most basic constitutional questions are up for re-interpretation…. Or total disregard as the case may be.

After eight years of using the Constitution as toilet paper and systematically destroying almost all of it most basic principles and protections, the Republican party apparently still believes it has some more foul work left to do before that document can be relegated to the trash-heap of history.

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