Thursday, January 31, 2008

Do movie stars find it easier to get their green cards?

Do you know of any movie stars that have been deported for not having a green card? Maybe a better question is, has ICE ever raided a TV or movie studio?

From the Los Angeles Times
Star power helps with green card
Hollywood loves its foreign-born actors, but they still have immigration hurdles.
By John Rogers
Associated Press

February 1, 2008

He died thousands of miles from home, but like hundreds of other entertainers who came before him, Heath Ledger had left his native land to carve out a career in Hollywood.

In doing so, the Australian-born actor, who died last week in New York City of still-undetermined causes, joined a long list of expatriate entertainers that includes Spain's Antonio Banderas, Canada's Mike Myers and even the man who paid tribute to Ledger at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, Englishman Daniel Day-Lewis.

With immigration as a hot-button issue in an election year, the internationalization of Hollywood -- nine of the 20 acting or supporting Oscar nominations this year went to foreign-born movie stars -- raises the question: Is it easier for an actor to get a U.S. work visa than it is, say, for a dishwasher?

"It is and it isn't," said immigration lawyer Mark Ivener, who has handled work permit and residency applications for numerous entertainers, including Ledger.

While English skills and hailing from a favored nation can certainly help, it turns out that star power helps grease the skids with government officials too.

"It is easier if you are well known," Ivener said. "Then you don't have to go through the labor certification process where you have to demonstrate to the Department of Labor that you won't be taking away a job from an American."

But for a struggling actor who's been waiting tables in London or Mexico City and would rather sling hash in Hollywood, the process is just as hard as it is for anyone else, say Ivener and others.

There are other criteria: Immigration lawyers say whether you're a scientist or a wannabe entertainer, it's definitely a drawback to be from a country on a terrorist watch list, or one that's predominantly Muslim, for that matter.

"That's still considered -- unfortunately," said Kathleen Walker, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. Just being born in a country like Iran, Sudan, Cuba or North Korea, she said, leaves any person open to extra scrutiny.

"Which I don't believe in," she added. "If I were born in Iran but have never been in Iran since my birth, I'm still subject to additional screening."

And it can't hurt to be from an English-speaking country such as Australia, England or Canada -- most roles still go to fluent English speakers, the immigration lawyers say.

All the same, Hollywood seems to be making way for an ever-widening variety of foreign-born entertainers, from Jackie Chan of Hong Kong and Salma Hayek of Mexico to relative newcomers (and current Oscar nominees) Marion Cotillard of France and Saoirse Ronan of Ireland.

And it's one thing to come to America to shoot and promote a movie. Turning that success into a full-time residence in Beverly Hills? That's a little more complicated.

"There are really only two major ways people can come here permanently. They have to be sponsored by family or by a job," said Marie Sebrechts, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In the case of actors, musicians or athletes, they are usually sponsored by the studio, record label or sports team that employs them.

"I got my green card through Motown," said Canadian-born comedian Tommy Chong, adding that the record label sponsored him after signing his band the Vancouvers to its label in the 1960s and producing its hit record, "Does Your Mama Know About Me." After the label dropped the group, Chong went on to fame as part of Cheech and Chong and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

Ledger became a star in Australian TV and films before he came to the United States. When a studio wanted him for a U.S. film, it enlisted Ivener's help in getting him a nonresident work visa.

Ivener also helped British actor Anthony Hopkins obtain a visa and eventually U.S. citizenship after the actor came to the United States following stardom in Britain.

The key to success in these and other cases, say immigration lawyers, is in gaining enough attention somewhere else to attract a major studio or record label in the U.S. as a sponsor.

"It's kind of a corny analogy. But you know how banks only lend money to rich people?" said immigration lawyer Bernie Wolfsdorf. "It's the same framework with immigration. The top people can get the visas, and the wannabes and the up-and-comings not so much."

Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sets aside separate categories for actors, athletes and other entertainers who want to work in the United States, to have the best chance of receiving a visa one must also demonstrate "extraordinary ability."

"I had to amass all my gold albums and have photographs taken of them and get records of all the recorded events I'd played at and the amount of tours I'd done and the amount of money I'd made," said Keith Emerson of the British rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Soon after arriving in the United States nearly 13 years ago, Emerson said, he began to bump into other British musicians around Los Angeles who had gone through the same experience.

"We've formed a band called the Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, just to get together and jam," he said.

Meanwhile, the pull of the United States on foreign entertainers is simple, Chong says: It's the big time.

"That's the dream, if you're from another country, to come to the States," he said. "It was my dream since childhood."

Please don't sing to us in Spanish

This presidential campaign is reminding me of the girl all the boys want to date but no one wants to marry. As I check the sitemeter on this blog I see that numerous searches are about the Latino vote. Now people are interested. The Wall Street Journal even published an article that details commentaries by Latino blogs. Just curious, how much interest would there be in a non-election year?

All the politicking and ads in Spanish don't mean anything unless the candidates follow through with what they are promising. Remember, this is not always possible... as many have noted, the position of U.S. president is fairly weak (that is unless you have a Darth Vader-like VP like Cheney). Since we have no way of predicting the future, our vote is a gamble.

On the other hand, isn't it wonderful to have someone court you (even if you know it's a ploy). I always dreamed of a time where I would be standing at my balcony after dark while a handsome young man with his mariachis sings a love song to me. That is kind of what is happening with Obama. He is singing to us, but the real question is does he want to make a commitment? He says he does, but we won't know for sure until it's too late and we've punched the numbers on those scary Diebold machines.

Obama reminds me of what my mother would tell me about choosing a husband. It's not that guy who sings to me, it's the guy who is most practical - of course I have to like him- but as my grandmother would say (she married a musician), be careful not to be swept off your feet by someone that sings a good song.


As Obama Plans 24-State Blitz, GOP Hopefuls Rein In Spending

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008; A08

Sen. Barack Obama has launched a eight-figure, 24-state barrage of television advertising, heading into the Super Tuesday contests and beyond, that will carry his message to twice as many states as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's ads will reach with her current ad buy.

While Obama (Ill.) plans to spend more than $10 million on a blitz that will run through Tuesday, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are spending far less on the air wars. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who delayed airing any Super Tuesday commercials, plans to spend $2 million to $3 million in the remaining five days and has released only one ad in California. His chief rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), plans a modest buy on national cable networks.

Obama is on the air in all but three of the Feb. 5 states -- he is bypassing his home state of Illinois -- and is to begin advertising today in Maryland, Virginia and the District, which vote Feb. 12. His latest ad begins with black-and-white images of John F. Kennedy and features the endorsement of the late president's daughter, Caroline Kennedy.

Clinton (N.Y.) countered with new commercials yesterday, one playing on anxiety about the economy -- symbolized by a plunging skydiver -- and the other, set to patriotic music, carrying an uplifting appeal of the type usually associated with Obama.

Clinton plans to advertise in a dozen of the 22 states that will hold Democratic primaries and caucuses Tuesday, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona and California. Clinton, whose aides believe she does not have to prove her readiness for the Oval Office, has yet to make any commitments in subsequent states.

But Clinton is also using some unconventional tactics. Her campaign bought an hour block on the Hallmark Channel to air a portion of the national town hall forum her campaign is mounting, on the eve of the Feb. 5 primaries. Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, are set to appear.

"We come in at a massive disadvantage for name ID," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said yesterday. "The more people get to know Obama, the better we do. Our supporters want us to be as aggressive as we can in as many places as we can."

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer brushed off the disparity, noting that Obama is running state-specific testimonials from such politicians as Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.). "The campaigns are at different stages. . . . While Senator Clinton is highlighting the solutions for the economy she'll deliver as president, Senator Obama is using third-party validators like Governor Napolitano to assuage voter concerns about his readiness to lead," Singer said.

Ken Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin professor who studies political advertising, said Obama faces the greater challenge. "People know Hillary," he said. "You either like her or don't like her; maybe advertising helps at the margins. Obama really needs to introduce himself."

Romney's California ad, which previously aired elsewhere, stresses his business experience while saying that McCain has never run anything. The Associated Press reported that Romney plans to air ads in other unspecified states but that no decision has been made.

McCain's aides had been preparing for a heavier assault. They note that their candidate won Tuesday's Florida primary after Romney had spent $5 million on television ads there and McCain less than $2 million.

"We've proven we can win races with limited resources," said Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director. "We will be visible, regardless of whether we're on television."

With McCain making only a token television buy, said Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, Romney may be reluctant to risk more of his personal fortune on commercials. "How much do your odds improve with a big ad buy at this point?" Tracey asked. "He's not competing against a Clinton or Obama, where money's not an issue."

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has made a small national cable buy for an ad that calls for the Internal Revenue Service to be abolished.

While the campaign has been in full swing for nearly a year, analysts say, the latest round of advertising could be pivotal because many voters in the Super Tuesday states are tuning in for the first time.

The Clinton ad featuring the skydiver says that "our economy could be heading into free fall," citing foreclosures, interest rates and health-care costs. As the skydiver's parachute unfurls, the spot touts Clinton as "the person you can depend on to fix the economy and protect our future."

In the other ad, Clinton praises America's "can-do spirit" and, in a veiled swipe at Obama, says: "We know you can't solve economic problems with political promises." A third ad quotes from a New York Times editorial endorsing her.

One Obama ad features excerpts of his speech after winning Saturday's South Carolina primary, in which he declares: "This election is about the past versus the future. . . . Don't tell me we can't change. Yes, we can." In another, he promises a middle-class tax cut and an end to the Iraq war. A third spot is more biographical, with Obama beginning: "My parents weren't rich. My father left me when I was very young."

Both Democrats are targeting Hispanic voters. Clinton is running a Spanish-language ad in such states as Arizona and California that says: "Millions of Hispanic families live with the fear of not having health insurance. . . . Hillary is our friend and will help us."

Obama's Spanish-language ad, also airing in Arizona and California, features Luis V. Gutierrez, a congressman from Chicago who touts him as a leader on immigration reform. "We know what it feels like being used as a scapegoat just because of our background and last name," Gutierrez says.

for link to article click the title of this post

Not everyone is obsessed with stopping immigration

Maureen Wood, who ran unsuccessfuly for city council in Manassas, VA:
"I think some of the attention to illegal immigration has hurt us in the larger marketplace,"

Mark Wolfe, one of the winners, forgot to mention immigration in his speech at the Manassas GOP Assembly. He said he was embarrassed about the omission.


Immigration Upstaged at Manassas GOP Assembly
Record 376 Delegates Elect Moderate Candidates Amid Concerns Over City's Reputation, Economy

By Nick Miroff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2008; PW01

Republicans in Manassas say the results of Saturday's nominating convention indicate that city residents are concerned with more than illegal immigration, which has defined local politics the past several years, and that they're looking for more moderate leaders to address the city's problems.

A record 376 delegates voted at the convention at Metz Middle School. Although Republican leaders did not disclose the final totals, the winners were part of a three-candidate slate formed by City Council members Steven S. Smith and Jonathan L. Way and newcomer Mark Wolfe. The two candidates who lost, Maureen Wood and Dave Core, are members of the anti-illegal immigrant group Help Save Manassas, an affiliation that made some delegates uneasy.

Wood and Core "are members of that group, and that turned me off to them," said Christine Finnie, a business owner and member of the city's Planning Commission, who voted for the Smith-Way-Wolfe bloc. "I think a lot of the people who turned out were looking for a more positive message."

The candidates were competing for three seats on the six-member council. Because no Democrats or independents have announced plans to run, the convention's outcome probably will determine the city's next government. Election Day is May 6.

Vice Mayor Harry J. "Hal" Parrish II, who ran unopposed, was nominated as the party's candidate for mayor.

"I thought they were well-balanced and that they would focus on all the issues facing the city with equal energy," said Richard Seraydarian, a retiree who voted for the three-candidate slate.

Like many, Seraydarian said he is worried about Manassas's reputation.

"A number of politicians, both in the county and in the city, have really been spreading a lot of fear lately and detracting from the image of the area as a good place to live," he said. In contrast, Smith, Way and Wolfe "had a positive approach to things."

In parsing the convention results, Help Save Manassas President Greg Letiecq blamed Parrish and "machine" politics for the defeat of Core and Wood, saying the city "has always been run by insiders."

"I'm certain that Hal's motivation is about personalities and personal relationships," Letiecq said. "I think Hal and some of the other members on the council want to deal with friends who share a more moderate political philosophy."

Parrish noted that he did not publicly endorse any candidate for City Council and that the convention's large turnout indicated a great deal of interest in the party's open nominating process. Although illegal immigration and crowding remain key issues for Manassas residents, Parrish said, "there are many other things this city needs to be cognizant about."

"We need to be thoughtful about taking action," he said. "But it's important that we not miss the ball because we're concentrating on one or two issues by themselves."

Delegates who backed Core and Wood disagreed with the characterization that they were single-issue candidates. "Illegal immigration affects so many things and crosses over many aspects of our lives," said Chris Pannell, a Help Save Manassas member who campaigned for Wood.

In recent years, Manassas has been a focal point in the illegal immigration debate. But the convention results suggested that concerns about quality-of-life issues and the city's economic health were also on residents' minds, matters Wolfe appealed to.

"I think some of the attention to illegal immigration has hurt us in the larger marketplace," Wolfe said, emphasizing his interest in prioritizing economic development and projecting a pro-business image.

To point, he didn't mention illegal immigration in his speech at the convention. He said it was an oversight. "I was embarrassed that I had forgotten to talk about it," said Wolfe, a businessman and local arts promoter.

Manassas Republican Chairman Tony Kostelecky said the high turnout at the convention was a sign that city residents will continue to look to his party for leadership.

"It suggests that citizens are very interested in the direction the city government is going to take," he said. Usually, "local politics is not the first thing on lots of folks' minds."

for link to article click the title of this post

New immigration fees in UK making legal immigration more difficult

For those who complain that all immigration should be legal - both the U.S. and the U.K. have significantly increased their fees - making it much more difficult to process visas. The increase in fees is said to be so that there would be more administrative funds. However it is a convenient way to keep immigrants with fewer resources out of the country. A paradox is also created in that societies who constantly complain that immigrants are costing their countries too much money have now found a way to take advantage of the immigrants.

Financial Times:

a company with 50 or more staff hiring one migrant would face a rise from £200 ($397) to £1,170 (with the British pound at twice the value of the U.S. Dollar)

CBI says new immigration fees may hit economy
Financial Times (London)
By Jimmy Burns
Published: January 31 2008 02:40 | Last updated: January 31 2008 02:40

A huge rise in immigration fees risks deterring employers from hiring skilled workers capable of contributing positively to the economy, the CBI employers’ body warned on Wednesday night.

Plans published by the Home Office on Wednesday propose a considerable increase in the fees businesses pay for workers’ visas under the new PBS points based migration system, with smaller businesses seeing fees rise by as much as 500 per cent.

Liam Byrne, immigration minister, justified the rises, saying the government’s aim was to help to ensure only workers with the skills to benefit the economy came to the UK.

Under the blueprint, a company with 50 or more staff hiring one migrant would face a rise from £200 ($397) to £1,170 with the increase being reduced as more skilled migrants were hired.

“We welcome the contribution that legal migrants make to the economy and cultural life in the UK and we have ensured that these fees ... are at levels that will not damage our international competitiveness,” said Mr Byrne. “We are confident that we are not out of line with other countries’ prices and that the people we want to come here will not be deterred from doing so.”

However, John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, warned that ministers had structured the new levels of fees in a way that would make hiring cost effective the more people were employed, so that smaller companies would take more of a hit.

“By seeking to recover far more from the cost of processing the application, the government risks putting up a barrier to firms hiring people with the skills they need to grow and create jobs for the whole economy,” Mr Cridland said. “The CBI has supported the PBS as a flexible way of managing migration. But it will need to be fair and seen to work in practice. Cost is one concern, as is ensuring the new register of sponsors is user friendly and that companies can more easily transfer existing staff from abroad on a short-term basis.”

The fees are part of what the government describes as a “challenging” programme of reform to the immigration system over the next year. It includes on-the-spot fines for businesses that do not make the right checks on migrant workers, the introduction of a single border force with police-like powers, and compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals who want to stay in the UK.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

for link to article click the title of this post

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Immigration in the Super Tuesday States

January 30, 2008

Immigration Policy Center


The impact of Latinos and immigrants in the voting booths and on state coffers will get increased attention as "Super Tuesday" approaches. Poll after poll shows that a candidate's stand on immigration and the tone of the immigration debate are important to Latinos. Florida's Republican primary is a perfect example. The winner, Sen. John McCain, supports immigration reform; his major opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney, supports deportation-only policies. McCain easily won in Florida, and election analysts credit Latinos with the win. The Arizona senator got 54% of the Republican Latino vote; Romney got only 14%. All year, many candidates have tried to win elections by taking anti-immigration positions. And all year, they have lost.

Beyond the voting booth, there are vigorous arguments over whether immigrants cost or contribute. Restrictionists argue that immigrants are bad for the state economy, but the facts prove otherwise. Study after study documents the economic contributions of immigrants in "Super Tuesday" states. A recent report from the Americas Majority Foundation shows that states with large immigrant populations have stronger economic health.

Latinos Can Have a Big Impact in States with Small Margins: According to NALEO, Latinos constitute 14.2 % of the electorate in Arizona, 17.3 % in California, 5.3 % in Illinois, 8.1 % in New Jersey, 33.8 % in New Mexico, and 8.7 % in New York.

Bigger and Bigger Buying Power: "Super Tuesday" states, California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Georgia are eight of the top ten states in terms of Hispanic buying power. Arkansas ranks number one in growth in Hispanic buying power, followed closely by Tennessee, Georgia, and Minnesota. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 734,227 Asian-owned businesses and 851,250 Hispanic-owned businesses in the 24 "Super Tuesday" states.

Healthy States and Immigration Rates: A 2008 study by the conservative Americas Majority Foundation found that the 10 states with the highest percentage of immigrants, including "Super Tuesday" states, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, experienced the highest Growth State Product. The study found that a large immigrant population and recent increases in immigrant population are associated with elevated levels and growth rates in gross state product, personal income, per capita personal income, disposable income, per capita disposable income, median household income, and median per capita income.

Economic Impact Assessed: Below is a snapshot of some of the recent research on the impact of immigrants in a handful of "Super Tuesday" states.

Arizona: A 2007 study by the University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy concluded that "the total state tax revenue attributable to immigrant workers was an estimated $2.4 billion-even balanced against estimated fiscal costs the net 2004 fiscal impact of immigrants in Arizona was positive by about $940 million."

Arkansas: A 2007 study by the Urban Institute found that "...without immigrant labor, the output of the state's manufacturing industry would likely be lowered by about $1.4 billion-or about 8 percent of the industry's $16.2 billion total contribution to the gross state product in 2004."

New York: A 2007 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute concludes that New York's immigrants are responsible for $229 billion in economic output in New York State or 22.4 percent of the total New York State GDP.

Georgia: A 2006 study by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimated that an average undocumented family in Georgia contributes between $2,340 and $2,470 in state and local sales, income, and property taxes combined.

Contact: Tim Vettel
202-742-5608 (ofc), 202-281-0780 (cell)

Immigration Policy Center | 918 F Street, NW | Washington | DC | 20004

Indiana passes law that targets employers of undocumented immigrants

Press Release

(INDIANA STATEHOUSE) Indiana Senators voted 37-11 today to pass legislation to crackdown on businesses that profit from the hiring of illegal immigrants. Senate Bill 335, authored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel), focuses on those who harbor, transport or employ illegal immigrants.

Today the Senate voted to uphold and enforce the rule of law in our state,� Delph said. This is the next step in the legislative process and I am encouraged by the growing support for this bill. I committed to working with members of the House of Representatives to pass this legislation that upholds one of the basic and fundamental pillars of democracy, the respect for the rule of law.�

SB 335 targets employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants in Indiana by allowing the attorney general�s office and local prosecutors to investigate written complaints of such practices. An employer is who is found to have violated the law would be punished based on a three-tier system:

1. the employers first offense would be a warning;

2. if they have a second offense in a ten-year span, the court could suspend their license to do business in Indiana for ten days; and

3. if they then have a third offense in a ten-year span, the court could revoke their license to do business in Indiana.

Delph's bill includes language that provides immunity for businesses in Indiana who verify the status of their employees through the federal employment verification pilot program, E-Verify.

The Department of Homeland Security stands foursquare behind the E-Verify program and supports state efforts to expand its use,� said Stewart Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security. �The program represents a major step forward in enabling compliance with the immigration employment laws of the United States. We have substantially improved its accuracy and effectiveness in recent years and are committed to future improvements as well.�

SB 335 also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone who is found guilty of transporting, shielding from detection, concealing or harboring an illegal alien for commercial or financial gain. The bill provides exemptions for medical services, religious organizations, attorneys and the parent, spouse or children of the illegal immigrants.

SB 335 now moves to the Indiana House of Representatives for further consideration.

Source: Indiana Senate Republican Caucus

for link to article click the title of this post

Iowa's right turn

An immigration bill presented in Iowa is including the exclusion of DREAMERS from college. The bill is comprehensive and shows extensive effort on the part of the lawmakers. With so many other issues to be concerned about - the economy, K-12 education, the environment, etc. why is the Iowa Senate so focused on a bill that will deplete the resources of the state - only to bring further economic burden once it is implemented?

It is kind of like popular opinion about undocumented immigrants having driver's licenses... according to polls most Americans don't want driver's licenses granted to someone who is not documented - The safety issue of having so many people out there not having a license has been ignored. There seems to be a fantasy that if people don't have licenses they won't drive. As mentioned before in this blog - in many places people have to drive to survive.

One question about Iowa, why does the U.S. take the Iowa Caucus so seriously? Some say Iowa represents the white middleground of America. If this is true what does it mean that our middle America is becoming so xenophobic?

Iowa State Senator Jeff Angelo:

"barring illegal immigrants from state colleges and universities could be as simple as asking more questions of prospective enrollees"

Some costs remain uncounted for GOP immigration plan

Des Moines
January 29, 2008

Senate Republicans said today that the cost of an immigration reform package would be greater than the $2.4 million they estimated, acknowledging they had not accounted for costs that state government would bear to help businesses avoid hiring illegal immigrants.

They also said they were unsure how state colleges and universities would sift illegal immigrants from their enrollment, another requirement of the legislation unveiled today.

The plan’s key feature is adding 14 state troopers to the force to ease the burden of arresting and transporting illegal immigrants.

The list of related proposals, aimed at tackling the hot-button issue lawmakers agree Congress has neglected, also includes requiring Iowa Workforce Development to check the immigration status of workers.

Sen. Jeff Angelo, a Creston Republican, said lawmakers had not consulted Iowa Workforce Development officials about what the process would cost.

“We’re going to have to work with them and make that a budget priority as to what implementation of such a system would cost, but that’s going to take a little further research,” Angelo said.

GOP senators said the extra troopers would cost $2.4 million for the first two years, and roughly $1 million annually in subsequent years.

Democrats, who control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office, have introduced immigration legislation in the House. Their bill would impose criminal penalties on corporate executives found guilty of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Republicans say the Democrats’ measure is inadequate. The GOP proposal also includes requiring troopers to undergo the same training as federal immigration officers and making the harboring of an illegal immigrant a felony under state law.

Angelo, part of a three-member GOP Senate immigration panel, said barring illegal immigrants from state colleges and universities could be as simple as asking more questions of prospective enrollees. However, neither lawmakers nor university officials were ready to suggest how that could be accomplished.

“If you’re a major university, you don’t have to ask too many questions. We don’t force you to do that as a lawmaking body. And you just sort of wink and nod and illegals get through the system,” Angelo said.

“You have to come up with a strictly defined system of how you identify how people provide proof that they’re legal and we have knowingly not done that over the years,” he said.

University officials at the Capitol today declined to comment on the proposal.

“I don’t know what our responsibilities would be,” said David Miles, president of the Iowa Board of Regents. “It’s a little bit too early for me to know what burden it might create.”

for link to article click title of this post

Would you want to work in a meat packing plant?

It is well known that a majority of the workers at meat packing plants are recent immigrants. While the anti-immigrationists scream that these jobs should go to U.S. citizens- there is a different reality.

Would you take this job if you had another option? After reading the article about how the animals are handled- it seems like a job like this would only be chosen out of desperation. The fact that immigrant workers are considered efficient and reliable actually tells us that they are above many others. It takes a strong character to tolerate these conditions (not to mention the multiple injuries).

p.s. the mistreatment of the animals and the horror of tainted meat making it to the general public are two other serious concerns. more later.

Video Reveals Violations of Laws, Abuse of Cows at Slaughterhouse

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; A04

Video footage being released today shows workers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the "downer" cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals' noses -- all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation's school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.

The footage was taken by an undercover investigator for an animal welfare group, who wore a customized video camera under his clothes while working at the facility last year. [ View the video on the Humane Society Web site ] It is evidence that anti-cruelty and food safety rules are inadequate, and that Agriculture Department inspection and enforcement need to be enhanced, said officials with the Humane Society of the United States, which coordinated the project.

"These were not rogue employees secretly doing these things," the investigator said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to infiltrate other slaughterhouses. "This is the pen manager and his assistant doing this right in the open."

The investigator and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said the footage was taken at Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, Calif. Hallmark sells meat for processing to Westland Meat Co. in Chino, according to Westland President Steve Mendell, who is also Hallmark's operations manager.

Over the past five years, Westland has sold about 100 million pounds of frozen beef, valued at $146 million, to the Agriculture Department's commodities program, which supplies food for school lunches and programs for the needy, according to federal documents.

In the 2004-05 school year, the Agriculture Department honored Westland with its Supplier of the Year award for the National School Lunch Program.

In an interview, Mendell expressed disbelief that employees used stun guns to get sick or injured animals on their feet for inspection.

"That's impossible," he said, adding that "electrical prods are not allowed on the property."

Asked whether his employees use fork lifts to get moribund animals off the ground, he said: "I can't imagine that."

Asked whether water was sprayed up animals' noses to get them to stand up, he said: "That's absolutely not true."

"We have a massive humane treatment program here that we follow to the n{+t}{+h} degree, so this doesn't even sound possible," Mendell said. "I don't stand out there all day, but to me it would be next to impossible."

California law and USDA regulations do not allow disabled animals to be dragged by chains, lifted with forklifts, or, with few exceptions, to enter the food supply, all of which happened at Hallmark during the investigator's time there last fall, he said.

Video images show those activities, as well as a trailer with Hallmark's name on it.

One reason that regulations call for keeping downers -- cows that cannot stand up -- out of the food supply is that they may harbor bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. It is caused by a virus-like infectious particle that can cause a fatal brain disease in people.

Another is because such animals have, in many cases, been wallowing in feces, posing added risks of E. coli and salmonella contamination.

The Humane Society and other groups have for years urged Congress to pass legislation that would tighten oversight at slaughterhouses.

Kenneth Petersen, assistant administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Office of Field Operations, whose 7,600 inspectors monitor the nation's 6,200 slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants for the Agriculture Department, said he had not seen the video. He added that he would have preferred that the Humane Society contacted the agency directly.

But he said use of a Hot Shot -- a brand-name electric device used to get dawdling cows to move along -- is "not allowed" as a means of getting a downer on its feet.

In the video, handlers repeatedly apply powerful shocks to the heads, necks, spines and rectums of immobile cows.

"That's certainly not a way to have them stand up or a correct way to move them," Petersen said.

Raising a cow on the prongs of a forklift is also not allowed, he said.

"We've made it clear that mechanical means to try to elevate an animal is not considered humane," Petersen said.

If he had evidence that the practices in the video were going on at a slaughterhouse, "I would immediately suspend them as an establishment," he said. "You're done. You're suspended. Everything stops. That's what we call an egregiously inhumane handling violation."

Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and an expert in slaughter practices, called the Humane Society footage "one of the worst animal-abuse videos I have ever viewed."

The investigator said a USDA inspector appeared twice a day, at 6:30 a.m. and about 12:30 p.m., to look at each cow to be slaughtered that day. The practices occurred before the inspector's appearance, he said, with the goal of getting the animals on their feet for the short time the inspector was there.

"Every day, I would see downed cattle too sick or injured to stand or walk arriving at the slaughterhouse," he said. "Workers would do anything to get the cows to stand on their feet."

USDA regulations say that if an animal goes down after it is inspected but before it is slaughtered, then it must be reinspected. But that rarely, if ever, happened, according to the Humane Society.

"They wanted to do whatever they could to get them into the kill box, including jabbing them in the eye, slamming into them with a forklift and simulating drowning or waterboarding the animals," Pacelle said -- all practices that can be seen in the video.

Mad cow disease is extremely rare in the United States, but of the 15 cases documented in North America -- most of them in Canada -- the vast majority have been traced to downer cattle. When the United States had its first case a few years ago, 44 nations closed their borders to U.S. beef, Pacelle said, costing the nation billions of dollars.

To sneak downers past inspectors, Pacelle said, is "penny-wise and pound-foolish."

for link to article click the title of this post

photo: by David Silverman/Newsmakers

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The future king has been anointed

The Guardian called it a coronation. It's true, Obama does seems like a prince, especially these days. His speeches are majestic- his demeanor confident - like that of an international leader.

The Kennedy legacy has had a great impact on most Americans who were around in the 1960s. I remember seeing all those 8x10 photos of JFK in so many places. It seems like almost every family had one, it didn't matter what race/ethnic group. (except the rich, they probably thought it was tacky) Even for those that didn't have Kennedy's picture in their home, they have to admit that the story of JFK (and Camelot) were imprinted in our 20th century history.

As for Obama the Prince:

If we only look at the positive, Obama represents a little bit of almost everybody:

1. His maternal side of the family from Kansas - makes you think of the American family and the Wizard of Oz.

2. His father's heritage from Africa. Perhaps it's the bit of African that gives him so much majesty.

3. His Harvard education; for those who who think an Ivy League education is worth everything. It lightens his skin a bit too (for those who have racial issues).

4. His vote against the Iraq War. He probably had no idea at the time, that five years down the road it would be such a big deal. You can truly say he has courage, think of how few Senators voted against the war, wasn't it just 2 or 3?

5. His work as a community organizer in Chicago - helps with those who doubt he would have empathy or any type of understanding for the urban poor and shows his Harvard education didn't ruin him. Darkens his skin a little for those who need more ethnic identification.

6. The courage to maintain his pro-immigration stance in the face of thousands of xenophobic hysterics. He makes the other senators look like wimps. Think of all the backtracking Romney, McCain, Edwards, Guiliani, and Clinton have done on this issue.

The coronation: Ted Kennedy passes JFK mantle on to Obama

Veteran senator's backing is huge boost to Democratic hopeful

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday January 29, 2008
The Guardian - London

It was as close as it gets to a coronation. In front of a rapturous, chanting crowd, Senator Ted Kennedy yesterday enfolded Barack Obama into a hug, and in that instant drew a clear line of succession from the Democratic hero of the past to a younger generation.

Now it was official: Obama was the rightful political heir to John F Kennedy as designated by his brother Ted, his daughter Caroline, and his nephew Patrick. "I feel change in the air," Ted Kennedy roared, and the crowd roared with him.

For Obama, there could be no stronger imprint of approval. With his tragic family history and his 45 years in the US Senate, Kennedy ranks second only to Bill Clinton among the Democratic party's living leaders. His support for Obama badly undermines Hillary Clinton's claim to be the candidate of choice of the Democratic establishment.

But it was change that Kennedy was talking about yesterday, and his belief that Obama would be as transformative a figure as his late brother.

"There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier. He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic president," Kennedy began.

"That president, Harry Truman, urged patience. And John Kennedy replied: 'The world is changing. The old ways will not do. It is time for a new generation of leadership.' So it is with Barack Obama.

"He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past," said Kennedy. "He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonising those who hold a different view."

The broadside against cynicism and rough-edged politics was a veiled jibe at the Clintons - one of several signs of Kennedy's anger at their no-holds-barred negative campaigning style against Obama in South Carolina.

The Clinton campaign responded to their rejection by Kennedy by producing their supporters from within the clan: Kathleen Kerry Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the daughter of Bobby Kennedy, as well as her sister, Kerry. "I respect Caroline and Teddy's decision, but I have made a different choice," Townsend said.

But there was no way to match the huge boost to Obama's prestige of an endorsement from Kennedy. And there was a further rebuff to the Clintons yesterday from a former friend. Toni Morrison, the Nobel prize winning author who once famously called Bill Clinton America's first black president, wrote a letter to Obama extending her support. "This is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril," she wrote, praising Obama's "creative imagination".

For Obama's supporters, the blessing from Kennedy, one of the few stalwart opponents in the Senate of the war in Iraq, reaffirms their conviction that they are part of a historic change.

Yesterday's event, at Washington's American University, drew crowds of more than 6,000. The queue to get into the rally began before dawn and stretched well outside the campus.

Most of the audience were not even born during Kennedy's brief presidency, but there was a smattering of people for whom the connection with Kennedy was deeply personal.

"We've been waiting for someone we can care about," said Barbara Franklin, 69, a retired labour lawyer who moved to Washington in 1961 in an earlier burst of idealism. "We have been feeling since the beginning of his campaign that he is someone like John F Kennedy who can inspire a young generation to come to Washington, like we were inspired."

Kennedy's endorsement will be widely seen as a personal rebuff to the Clintons, who have a longer relationship with Kennedy than Obama. Hillary Clinton had worked in the Senate with Kennedy on health care and education and the two families have gone sailing together.

Kennedy had stayed on the sidelines, despite appeals from both camps, until after the Iowa caucuses, when he was impressed by Obama's ability to carry one of the whitest US states.

He was also increasingly angered by the campaign in South Carolina, where the Clintons formed a tag team to attack Obama. Kennedy phoned Bill Clinton to complain of the bid to marginalise Obama as an African American candidate.

That anger at the Clintons came through clearly in the arena yesterday as Kennedy railed against the cynicism and hard-elbowed style of traditional politics.

"We will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion," he yelled. "With Barack Obama we will close the books on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender."

Kennedy now plans to campaign on Obama's behalf in the south-west, where his record on immigration reform could give the young senator a welcome boost among Latino voters.

for link to article click the title of this post


ICE moves to criminalize immigrant detainees at Hutto Detention Center

Drawn by a child inmate at the Hutto Detention Center

ICE has made an agreement with local government officials to add an additional 250 inmates at the infamous T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. The problem is that the current detainees are families with children who are there for immigration violations. The group to be moved into the facility are prisoners, felons who have committed actual crimes.

The facility's administration notes that the two groups will be separated. Perhaps this is possible. But the symbolic move to join the immigrants with the prisoners blurs the line even further between being an undocumented immigrant (which is a civil offense) and being a felon. The families of Hutto will truly be able to say they are living in a prison.


Immigrant detention center might house more prisoners
Up to 250 female prisoners could move to T. Don Hutto Residential Center.

Melissa Mixon
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The population of a controversial immigrant detention center in Taylor could double, after a new agreement Tuesday between Williamson County commissioners and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Since opening in May 2006, the 512-bed T. Don Hutto Residential Center has held immigrant children and their families while they await decisions in their immigration cases. There are 250 people living there, and Tuesday's change would add up to 250 "noncriminal" females in a separate, existing wing of the facility. County officials said the women would also be awaiting decisions on their immigration cases.

The facility has faced heavy criticism by protesters for what they call the wrongful imprisonment of children. It's also caused liability concerns for the county, after a guard was fired after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female detainee in May.

According to an incident report from the immigration agency, the guard entered the detainee's room and left 10 minutes later, adjusting his pants around the belt area. Signs of physical trauma were found on the woman, according to the documents. Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the incident but said they found no criminal activity and closed the investigation in June.

A few months after the incident, county commissioners debated whether to keep their contract with the federal government and Corrections Corp. of America, the private company that owns and operates the facility. The county serves as an intermediary between the company and the federal government.

Commissioners voted to keep the contract after it was amended in November to give the county more legal protection, should it face litigation for its involvement with the facility. The contract expires Jan. 31, 2009.

Despite last year's incident, Commissioner Cynthia Long said Tuesday that she was comfortable with adding more female prisoners, saying new measures have been put in place to prevent future incidents.

Some of those include more staff training and education on how to operate video and security equipment, Assistant County Attorney Hal Hawes said. Hawes said additional security guards probably would be hired to watch the women.

Calls to Corrections Corp. on Tuesday were not returned.

The additional detainees will not cost the county anything, said County Judge Dan A. Gattis, nor will they change the amount of money the county gets from Corrections Corp. — about $15,800 monthly.

Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman with the immigration agency,Enforcement, said the women will come from immigrant detainment facilities around the country and probably will not all be moved into the facility at once. Pruneda said she didn't know whether the number of women moved to the facility would reach 250.

Tuesday's contract change came as a surprise to some residents opposed to the facility.

"I'm so adamant that this is wrong, but I don't know how we can go about changing this mind-set," said Jose Orta, president of the Taylor chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens. "This is just adding more fuel to the fire for us."; 246-0043

for link to article click the title of this post


Texas landowners lose match against the border fence

New York Times
January 29, 2008

National Briefing | SOUTHWEST

Texas: Opponents of Border Fence Lose Round in Court

A federal judge ordered 10 Cameron County property owners to open their land to the government for border fence surveying, but not before he denied the government the right to take the land without a hearing. The judge, Andrew Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, ordered 10 of the 12 landowners to comply with the government’s request for access to their land for 180 days. Brownsville residents, including Mayor Pat Ahumada, have been among the most vocal critics of the border fence, which President Bush and Congress have ordered built to stop illegal immigration and smuggling.

for link to article click the title of this post

Great News on the Minnesota Flat Rate Tuition Bill

A Dreamer sent me this today. It is amazing how Minnesota can move forward while so many other states (including Texas) are going the other direction.


Youth Leadership

Victory with the Flat Rate Tuition Bill

For the past few years we-immigrants and allies-have been fighting for equal access to higher education for all students regardless of their immigration status. And during the last legislative session we made history! Although we still have to keep fighting for the MN Dream Act, we won a huge victory with the passage of the Flat-Rate Tuition Bill.

Undocumented students have won the right to attend 18 Minnesota colleges for in-state tuition.

for link to list of Minnesota colleges where in-state tuition is available click the title to this post

Previously posted on the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network

Presidential candidate's positions on immigration - today

The San Francisco Chronicle presents a succinct report on where the 2008 presidential candidates stand on immigration. There is no doubt that this information is accurate for the day the article was published (January 27, 2008). But considering how most of them have jumped around the immigration issue - there is no way of knowing where they will stand next week.

Where the candidates stand on immigration

Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, January 27, 2008

(01-27) 04:00 PST Washington -- Immigration could turn into the wedge issue of the 2008 presidential campaign if Republicans nominate a hard-liner, and a recession magnifies fears of job losses.

But it won't be easy.

Republicans in the past two years have made themselves the restrictionist party on immigration, bucking President Bush. Yet the leading GOP presidential candidates were not immigration hawks before they sought their party's nomination.

One of them, Sen. John McCain, is squarely in the pro-legalization camp for the estimated 12 million people in the country illegally but now emphasizes border enforcement. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has toughened his stance but still supports a path to citizenship. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee became a born-again hard-liner and promptly lost the South Carolina primary, ostensibly fertile ground for railing against illegal immigrants.

Democrats, with notable exceptions in rural areas and some old-line union pockets, tend to be the party of legalization. They are now well positioned to recapture pivotal Latino voters who had swung to Bush in 2000 and 2004. But they also fear strong public antipathy toward increasing overall immigration levels, which legalization may provoke.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards have tried to inoculate themselves by pushing tougher border controls, including a fence and a new employer verification system, in tandem with a path to legalization. The Latino vote is a big prize in the 2008 election. Latinos are the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority. Looking at population trends, political experts in both parties believe that if Latinos migrate firmly into the Democrats' corner, they could capture the West for Democrats and keep Republicans out of the White House for decades.


Would make it easier for legal immigrants to bring in extended family. Favors a guest worker program only for agriculture. Opposes worksite raids and wants a new employer verification system, saying the current one is prone to errors. Voted for a border fence. Opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.


Supports some fencing. Opposes guest worker programs if they have no route to citizenship. Supports tougher worksite enforcement but says "database-driven" employer verification systems could make the problem worse. Opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.


Promises to push for immigration reform during his first year in office. Supports guest worker programs if workers can change jobs. Voted for a border fence. Wants a new employer verification system. Supports tougher worksite enforcement but says workers are bearing the brunt of a broken system. Supports more visas for highly skilled workers, but thinks family ties should remain the basis of legal immigration. Supports driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.


Supports a path to earned legalization. Would increase visas for foreign workers and students. Favors national database and biometric identification cards for all noncitizens to improve workplace and border controls. Would deport 300,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, but wants to avoid "scapegoating" employers.


After attacks from rivals claiming he is soft on illegal immigration, adopted an ultra-tough nine-point plan borrowed largely from the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies that would give illegal immigrants 120 days to register with the federal government and leave the country or be barred from re-entry for a decade.


Co-sponsored the legalization plan that died in the Senate in June, almost killing his shot at the nomination. Has since de-emphasized legalization and insists border security comes first.


Calls legalization amnesty. Opposes increases in legal immigration. Sponsored a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. Supports tougher worksite enforcement, but opposes a mandatory employer verification system, saying the government's failure to control the border is not an excuse to impose new restrictions on the private sector.


Does not want a path to legalization, but favors more visas for highly skilled and seasonal workers. Says current system "puts up a concrete wall to the best and brightest, yet those without skill or education are able to walk across the border." Would create biometric card for noncitizens and a new employment verification system, with tougher sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Opposes birthright citizenship.

E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at

for link to article click title of this post

Obama and Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants


Obama takes big risk on driver's license issue

Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, January 28, 2008

It's a huge issue for Latinos, who want them. It's also a huge issue for the general electorate, which most vehemently does not. Obama's stand could come back to haunt him not only in a general election, but with other voters in California, where driver's licenses for illegal immigrants helped undo former Gov. Gray Davis.

Clinton stumbled into that minefield in a debate last fall and quickly backed off. First she suggested a New York proposal for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants might be reasonable. Then she denied endorsing the idea, and later came out against them.

Asked directly about the issue now, her California campaign spokesman said Clinton "believes the solution is to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

"Barack Obama has not backed down" on driver's licenses for undocumented people, said Federico Peña, a former Clinton administration Cabinet member and Denver mayor now supporting Obama. "I think when the Latino community hears Barack's position on such an important and controversial issue, they'll understand that his heart and his intellect is with Latino community."

Obama's intention is to draw distinctions between himself and Clinton on what are otherwise indistinguishable positions on immigration. Both have adopted the standard Democratic approach of favoring tougher enforcement along with earned legalization.

The Illinois senator is differentiating himself in three key areas: driver's licenses, a promise to take up immigration reform his first year in office, and his background as the son of an immigrant (his father was Kenyan) and a community organizer in Chicago.

Obama made the promise to Latino leaders to take up immigration reform in his first year after Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the Democratic caucus, said his party might not raise the divisive issue again until the next president's second term, assuming a Democrat wins.

Latino leaders felt betrayed. For them, an immigration overhaul is a top priority in light of state and local crackdowns on illegal immigrants and federal raids in workplaces across the country.

Clinton has not made such a promise, saying only that she would make her best efforts.

"Those issues are huge," said Obama supporter and state Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, vice chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Democratic pollsters Stan Greenberg and James Carville issued a direct warning on the driver's license issue in an analysis last month designed to guide Democrats through the treacherous immigration quagmire.

"The findings about driver's licenses are particularly notable," they said. Two-thirds of surveyed voters oppose them, the pollsters found, and the safety argument fails to dent the widespread conviction that granting a driver's license rewards illegal behavior.

But it will definitely work with Latinos, said John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "Clinton and (Sen. John) Edwards have said no driver's licenses for unauthorized immigrants," Trasviña said. "Sen. Obama has said you get a driver's license if you know how to drive. And that message I think will resonate in the Latino community as we get closer to California."

The latest California Field Poll shows Clinton leads among Latinos 59 percent to 19 percent. That's bigger than the margin that handed her Nevada just over a week ago and about how well former President Bill Clinton did with Latinos in California when he won the state in 1992 and 1996, said poll director Mark DiCamillo.

One in 3 Californians is Latino, and although they make up just 14 percent of the electorate, they are 1 in 5 Democratic primary voters, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

"That's a very sizable group and a leading indicator in terms of younger and new voters," president Mark Baldassare said. "That's just the demographics of our state. They're a really crucial group."

Clinton's biggest asset is "El Presidente."

Thanks to Bill Clinton's presidency, during which he lavished attention on California, and her own eight years as first lady, Hillary Clinton enjoys enormous name recognition among Latinos.

She has also done her spadework. Clinton picked up early endorsements from leading Latinos such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and fabled farmworker organizer Dolores Huerta.

Clinton opened her new East Lost Angeles campaign office Saturday with three Latina members of Congress: Hilda Solis, Grace Napolitano and Lucille Roybal-Allard.

Obama has lined up several lesser-known officials, including Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose, chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, as well as Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Cerritos, who split from her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Clinton backer from Garden Grove.

While Clinton has the backing of the United Farm Workers, Obama has picked up the endorsement of Unite Here, a heavily immigrant service workers union.

Both camps discount speculation of simmering racial hostility that might make some Latinos reluctant to vote for a black man.

"The familiarity with President Clinton has given her a very, very big lead from the beginning," said Maria Elena Durazo, secretary-treasurer for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor who is campaigning for Obama.

If there were racial animosity, "obviously we would have to address that very directly," Durazo said. But mostly the response Durazo gets when she asks Latinos about Obama is, "Who is he? I don't know who he is," whereas with Clinton, the answer comes back, "We know Presidente Bill Clinton."

Maria Echaveste, a UC Berkeley law lecturer advising the Clinton campaign, agreed. "Everyone is so quick to jump on" the racial angle, she said. "But, frankly, I think the explanation is a much greater number of people know her and love Bill Clinton."

Huerta, a longtime Latina activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, scoffed at Obama's credentials with Latinos. Clinton worked in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas as a young woman, she said, while Obama was missing in action during two major activist events in Chicago, once when Elvira Arellano sought church sanctuary to avoid deportation, and another time when two Latino men were falsely accused of murder.

"He's now trying to build a relationship, but it's just not there," Huerta said. In Nevada, casino workers dubbed themselves "Hilarios," she said, meaning Hillary supporters. "This came from the people."

With Obama, she said, "A lot of them would say, 'Señor como se llama?' They didn't know Obama's name."

Latinos also trust Clinton, Huerta said. "Support for her is not just support; it's enthusiastic support. In fact, I haven't seen anything like this since the Bobby Kennedy campaign back in '68."

Obama has begun airing campaign ads on Spanish-language TV and his supporters are working hard to promote Obama's activist Chicago roots, which Peña declared forged "a personal connection with Latinos that no other candidate has had."

Added Durazo, "He's the son of an immigrant, he's the son of a single mother who sacrificed a lot to make sure he got his education. All of those issues resonate with a hotel housekeeper, a construction worker, a day laborer. ... I have great hope that we're going to break through that gap in a big way."

E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at

for link to article click title of this post

Evangelicals courting Latino vote


Latinos courted as wild card among shifting evangelical voters

For Democratic, GOP candidates, California pastor is vital link to nearly 18,000 congregations

By Margaret Ramirez
Tribune reporter
2:42 AM CST, January 29, 2008

When Republican presidential candidates John McCain or Mike Huckabee need advice on the nation's surging Latino evangelical vote, there is one man to call: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.

The young California pastor serves as president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, making him the link to nearly 18,000 Latino evangelical churches and some of the most prominent pastors in the country. In recent weeks, his constantly ringing cell phone and packed schedule have testified to his popularity among Republican and Democratic presidential contenders alike.

In 2004, President Bush drew strong support from Latino Protestants, including those from mainline denominations and the fast-growing evangelical population. But since then, two developments have undermined that success: GOP opposition to immigration reform and the willingness of Democratic presidential contenders to speak openly about faith.

Fearing the loss of a constituency that helped push Bush to re-election, Republican candidates are turning to Rodriguez for help. A dynamic, fast-talking preacher of Puerto Rican descent, Rodriguez, 38, has been dubbed by some Christian leaders the Karl Rove of Hispanic evangelical strategy. He represents a new generation of evangelical kingmakers on the political scene.

Last month, Huckabee asked Rodriguez to arrange a conference call with top Latino pastors and theologians to field their questions and concerns. McCain also has spoken to Rodriguez to discuss Latino concerns.

Religious leaders and political analysts say that increased outreach symbolizes the importance of the Latino evangelical vote in key states such as Florida, where primary voters go to the polls Tuesday. Latino evangelicals in that state amount to about 40 percent of the Hispanic population, though Florida is unique due to its sizable, conservative Cuban population and the influence of Baptist and Pentecostal churches.

Democrats have been less eager in their embrace of Latino evangelical leaders than Republicans. Rodriguez took the initiative to call Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The campaign of Obama, who drew good reviews after an appearance in December 2006 before an evangelical megachurch in California, was open to the idea of a conference call with Latino pastors, Rodriguez said. He said Clinton has not yet responded.

Seeking broader agenda

Evangelicals, at the core of any winning GOP candidacy, gave Huckabee his surprising win in the Iowa caucuses. But because they remain a wild card in upcoming primaries, attention to young leaders such as Rodriguez is growing.

Though some presidential candidates might be hoping for an endorsement from him, he said the bigger goal is communicating the priorities of the Hispanic people. His intention is to broaden the focus of the white evangelical church beyond abortion and same-sex marriage.

"The agenda of the evangelical church in America has been two-fold since 1973: It has been sanctity of life and traditional marriage. ... It's almost blasphemous to go beyond those two items," he said. "Now, the Hispanic evangelical comes along and says there are other items that we need to look at. What about alleviating poverty, from a biblical view? What about health care and education? What about speaking against torture? What about human rights?"

John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, agrees that capturing the Hispanic evangelical vote could prove to be a decisive factor in the general election, especially in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

"If the Republicans are able to recover support among Hispanic evangelicals," Green said, "that could make them much more competitive. On the other hand, if they can't recover that support, it might make it difficult to win."

Some see swing vote

At least 8 million Americans identify themselves as Latino evangelicals. While there are no precise estimates of how many are registered voters, exit polls from previous elections give a sense of how important they can be, especially for Republicans. According to a report by the Pew Forum, Bush's biggest gain in the 2004 election came from Latino Protestants. The report said 64 percent of them voted for Bush, an increase from the 33 percent who voted for him in 2000.

More than two-thirds of the nation's Latinos are Roman Catholics who tend to vote for Democrats. But the second-largest religious group is made up of those who identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Protestants, amounting to 15 percent of the Latino population. Pollsters say Latino evangelicals are likely to be Republican, though some Latino evangelical leaders describe themselves as a swing vote.

The goal of Rodriguez's group is to connect with the larger evangelical church. But he said he was disappointed with their lack of support for immigration reform. With the exception of Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention's top public policy official, white evangelical leaders distanced themselves from the issue. Rodriguez said that stance is likely to cause a schism between white and Latino evangelicals in the general election.

"We feel a bit exploited," Rodriguez said. "We were engaged for the purpose of delivering a constituency in 2004, but when push came to shove on the issue of immigration reform, we were completely abandoned."

For that reason, Republicans can't assume the allegiance of a voting bloc that has begun to redefine what it means to be an evangelical in the U.S.

"If you ask the typical American citizen what an evangelical looks like, they will say white, middle class, probably from a Southern state, male. But the reality of what we have is a Mexican-born woman at a megachurch in the Bronx," Rodriguez said. "It's an evangelical that will not submit to being the extension of one political party."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Present, Past or Future for Clinton on Immigration?

As easily as it is to remember Ronald Reagan and the far reaching amnesty law of 1986 when hundreds of thousands of immigrants regularized their status in the U.S. -- it is also easy to forget the "very ugly" immigration law passed in 1996. It was during the Clinton Administration that one of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the 20th century was approved.

The National Immigration Law Center states in a report:

The draconian restrictions on immigrants' rights imposed by the 1996 welfare and immigration laws have created an unprecedented demand for NILC's services. In response, NILC has doubled its staff and number of offices and forged new alliances. The 1996 laws targeted low income immigrants for the laws' harshest treatment, making it more difficult for immigrants to reunite with family members, obtain work, and receive the health care and other services they need to support their families.

Immigration Policy: Will the Real Senator Clinton Please Stand Up?

Posted January 28, 2008 | 12:32 PM (EST)

Huffington Post

Al Giordano

One of the major media narratives since the Nevada caucuses, when entrance polls showed Clinton winning widely among Hispanic-Americans (64 percent to 25 for Obama), has been the presumption that the New York senator had the Latino vote similarly locked up on Tsunami Tuesday in California and other states.

The news that Ted Kennedy (and most of his organization) is now backing Obama has spurred a second look. The presumption that Clinton has been a leader on immigrant rights - spun heavily by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other surrogates - is not withstanding scrutiny of her actual record.

Add to that spin the way in which the race card has been deployed in recent weeks to divide Latino from black - I wrote about that in detail after witnessing those divide-and-conquer politics at work in Nevada - and previous assumptions about Clinton as an immigrant rights defender have begun to unravel in a way that could have consequences in the February 5 primaries and caucuses.

It's one thing to mouth slogans like "no woman is illegal" as Clinton did in Nevada earlier this month. But according to today's New York Sun, Clinton's true position is that some women and men are so "illegal" that she favors deporting them without any of the due process that the US Constitution guarantees:

"Anybody who committed a crime in this country or in the country they came from has to be deported immediately, with no legal process. They are immediately gone," Mrs. Clinton told a town hall meeting in Anderson, S.C., Thursday. On Wednesday, she told a crowd in North Bergen, N.J., that such criminals "absolutely" need to be deported. A day earlier, she told a rally in Salinas, Calif., that aliens with criminal records "should be deported, no questions asked."...

"No legal process," the New York senator said at a forum in Tipton, Iowa, according to a political news outlet, the Politico. "You put them on a plane to wherever they came from."

This has provoked important immigrant rights organizations and advocates - including perhaps the most important, Cecilia Muñoz, to correct the record:

"It's disturbing that she would make a statement like that, that we should deport everybody without due process of law," a vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, David Leopold, said. "That's a very disturbing statement. This country is all about due process of law."

"It is worrisome," an official with the National Council of La Raza, Cecilia Muñoz, said. "The semantics and nuances make or break families. As you can imagine, the sensitivity on these issues in the Latino community is very high."

...One subtext to the concern is that immigrant-rights advocates are still angry with President Clinton over legislation he signed in 1996 that effectively stripped judges of the power to block the deportation of foreigners convicted of an "aggravated felony." The term was broadly defined and has led to automatic deportations even for what some might consider minor offenses.

"How about two public urinations? How about driving a car recklessly and your sister dies in the passenger seat and you get deported for that?" a law professor at the University of California at Davis, Bill Hing, said...

While Mrs. Clinton's campaign stressed that she was referring to illegal aliens who commit crimes, it did not reply to a query about whether she favors automatic deportation of legal immigrants who run afoul of the law. In 2001, Mr. Kennedy introduced a bill to overturn part of the 1996 legislation, signed by Mr. Clinton, which made deportation automatic in many cases. The measure never got out of committee, but it had ten Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate. Mrs. Clinton was not among them.

"Mrs. Clinton keeps reminding us about going back to the 90s and talking about how great the 90s were," Mr. Leopold said. "If she's planning to bring back that approach to immigration, that's disturbing as well."

Ms. Munoz called the 1996 law "very ugly..."

The reopening of discussion on Clinton's record vs. rhetoric on immigration has refocused attention on her confused stance(s) during an October 30 candidate debate, when she took, in a matter of minutes, both sides of the dispute over whether undocumented immigrants should have drivers licenses:

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a leading Clinton supporter whose proposals came under fire in that discussion, quickly withdrew his proposal after that debate, temporarily removing the subject from wider national media scrutiny.

But the Obama campaign is now launching an offensive to distinguish its candidate's unequivocal position in favor of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, as well as differences between him and Clinton over whether each will tackle immigration reform in their first year in the White House:

The Illinois senator is differentiating himself in three key areas: driver's licenses, a promise to take up immigration reform his first year in office, and his background as the son of an immigrant (his father was Kenyan) and a community organizer in Chicago.

Obama made the promise to Latino leaders to take up immigration reform in his first year after Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the Democratic caucus, said his party might not raise the divisive issue again until the next president's second term, assuming a Democrat wins.

Latino leaders felt betrayed. For them, an immigration overhaul is a top priority in light of state and local crackdowns on illegal immigrants and federal raids in workplaces across the country.

Clinton has not made such a promise, saying only that she would make her best efforts.

"Those issues are huge," said Obama supporter and state Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, vice chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus....

John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said:

"Clinton and (Sen. John) Edwards have said no driver's licenses for unauthorized immigrants... Sen. Obama has said you get a driver's license if you know how to drive. And that message I think will resonate in the Latino community as we get closer to California."

Political consultant James Carville, a Clinton supporter, has sent various memos to Democratic politicians urging them to avoid the issue of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, or oppose the concept altogether, citing polls that a majority of Americans do not favor them. Obama has bucked that counsel (and I think this is an example of what Obama meant when he spoke about the leadership qualities of former Republican President Ronald Reagan, who similarly took unpopular positions without backing down, and was popular in part for his lack of fear of what polls say).

The Latino electorate is diverse. In the Mid-Atlantic states, much of the population is of Caribbean descent, particularly Puerto Rican and Dominican. In South Florida, Cuban-Americans are the largest and most politically influential ethnic group (and those voters may surprise the conventional wisdom tomorrow in the non-binding Democratic beauty contest on the ballot there). In the West (and increasingly nationwide) Mexican-Americans are on the rise as a blockbusting political force. For that largest group, immigration reform is the dominant issue (of the thousands of questions that viewers sent to Univision for the Spanish-language station's Democratic presidential debate, 70 percent were about that topic).

Kennedy is widely (and accurately) viewed among Latino voters as the champion of immigrants in Washington, and his endorsement is already provoking a second look at both Obama and Clinton. It has certainly unleashed the Hispanic-American advocacy organizations in Washington to now speak out about Clinton's true record after many months of silence.

What was thought, just two days ago, to be a demographic vote locked up for Clinton may now be in play. And with important national Hispanic-American leaders like Cecilia Muñoz now questioning Clinton's record, and the Kennedy organization highlighting Obama's leadership in the immigration reform battle as, in the words of one Kennedy associate "a politically touchy subject the other presidential candidates avoided," the competition for Latino votes is now very much on again.

This report originally appeared at The Field, where Al Giordano covers the 2008 presidential campaign.

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Empathy is a Great Motivator for Voters

Robert Novak is one of my least favorite journalists. I never liked his opinions that much, but when he decided to be the one to out Valerie Plame to the world, I was so disgusted, I never again wanted to read any thing he wrote. Yet, this time he has it right. It might take someone like Robert Novak to convince the Clintons that they need to be more careful about their campaign strategies.

As for the comment by a Clinton staffer about Latinos not getting to the polls. It may have been true in the past (for a number of reasons), but this time they will come out in droves. It kind of works like this, every time there is an ICE raid, or every time someone in a campaign is not fair in their comments about Latinos, consider there will be a few thousand more Latino votes - As I have stated numerous times, most Latinos are related to, or know a person who is undocumented. Empathy is a great way to motivate voters.
Clinton's Risky Gamble

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, January 28, 2008; A21
Washington Post

LOS ANGELES -- Sen. Hillary Clinton is relying on the big Latino vote as her firewall to prevent her losing the Feb. 5 primary in California, the most important of 22 states contested on the Democratic side on Mega Tuesday. But that reliance, both pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton Democrats say, is fraught with peril for the Democratic Party coalition because it threatens to alienate its essential African American component.

Clinton's double-digit lead in California polls over Sen. Barack Obama is misleading. Subtract a Latino voting bloc whose dependability to show up on Election Day always has been shaky, and Clinton is no better than even here, with Obama gaining. To encourage this firewall, the Clinton campaign may be drifting into encouragement of Hispanic vs. black racial conflict by condoning Latino hostility toward the first African American with a chance to become president.

The implications transcend California. The pugnacious campaign strategy of Bill and Hillary Clinton in forcefully identifying Obama as the black candidate spreads concern that they could be putting at risk continued massive, unconditional support for Democrats by African Americans. The long-range situation is so disturbing that some Clinton supporters talk about an outcome they rejected not long ago: a Clinton-Obama ticket.

Exit polls of Obama's unexpected landslide victory over Hillary Clinton in Saturday's South Carolina primary reflected disgust among both white and black voters with the Clintons playing the race card. It should signal caution for them in California, where the Latino vote adds another component to the lethal racial equation.

Experienced California Democratic politicians doubt the validity of Clinton's lead. At the heart of Obama's support are upper-income Democrats (in exceptional supply here) and young voters whose actions are difficult to predict. Will the state's huge, passive college campuses erupt in an outpouring of Obama voters?

Another problem for pollsters is a California peculiarity. A registered independent who shows up at a polling place Feb. 5 and asks for a Republican ballot will be told, sorry, but the Republican primary is for registered Republicans only. But the voter then may take a ballot in the more permissive Democratic election. How many will do this and then vote for Obama? The polls cannot foretell that.

Clinton's 39 percent support against Obama's 27 percent in California's Field Poll last week provides much less certainty than a 12-point margin normally would. With Clinton falling and Obama rising, it contrasts with her 30-point lead of six months ago.

The poll's demographics are more important. Clinton has dramatically lost support among blacks, now trailing Obama 58 percent to 24 percent. It is a virtual dead heat among white non-Hispanics, 32 percent to 30 percent. The 12-point overall lead derives from a 59 percent to 19 percent Clinton edge among Latinos.

In California, the Latino vote is notoriously undependable in actual voting, especially when compared with African American turnout. How the Clinton campaign deals with Hispanic voters is a sensitive matter, and sensitivity has never been a hallmark of the Clinton style.

Insensitivity was reflected in a recent issue of the New Yorker, when Clinton's veteran Latino political operative Sergio Bendixen was quoted as saying, "The Hispanic voter -- and I want to say this very carefully -- has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates."

That brief quote from an obscure politician has generated shock and awe in Democratic circles. It comes close to validating the concern that the Clinton campaign is not only relying on a brown firewall built on an anti-black base but is reinforcing it. A prominent Democrat who has not picked a candidate this year told me, "In any campaign I have been involved in, Bendixen would have been gone."

But not in Clinton's campaign. At the Jan. 15 debate, before the Nevada caucuses, where the Latino vote was important, NBC's Tim Russert read the Bendixen quote and asked Clinton, "Does that represent the view of your campaign?" Her response was chilling: "No, he was making a historical statement."

Asked whether Latinos will refuse to vote for him, Obama got a laugh when he replied: "Not in Illinois. They all voted for me."

But this is no laughing matter for Democrats. The Clintons are making a risky gamble that black voters will not be offended by Clinton attacking Obama for legally representing a Chicago slumlord or for clearly identifying him as the black candidate for president. They are betting that African Americans will forget the slurs of January and loyally troop to the polls in November.

¿ 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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9-11, Immigration, and the Rule of Law

For those businesses that may be fined for employing illegal workers, is it reasonable to call them illegal businesses?

January 28, 2008

Hispanics discuss illegal-worker bill
by Francesca Jarosz

The debate over how to deal with the state's illegal immigrant population heated up Sunday as the Hispanic community addressed legislation aimed at cracking down on businesses that employ illegal workers.

A bill authored by Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, calls for punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants. It is scheduled to go before the Indiana Senate by Wednesday.

The issue has been aired at Senate hearings, but Sunday was the first time a group of Hispanics discussed it with the senator. They met with Delph at the Statehouse.
Some warned that because the bill would force businesses to police immigration status, anyone who speaks Spanish or has a Hispanic surname could face discrimination.

"I don't feel safe just because so much discussion is going into what we have to hide and fear," said Carmen DeRusha, 45, Carmel, who is a U.S. citizen. "I would propose that we could make people legal."

Delph said an anti-discrimination amendment will be discussed Tuesday.
"Nations cannot survive in a post-9/11 world without responding to the rule of law," he said.

Some of his constituents agreed.
Wayne Township resident Diane Osborn, who was not at Sunday's meeting, said she has been fighting for more than a year for legislation to reduce the number of illegal immigrants.

"Employment is the draw," Osborn said. "If they shut that down, they won't come."

Call Star reporter Francesca Jarosz at (317) 444-5527.

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