Saturday, December 6, 2008

Napolitano, Immigration, and DREAMers: The DREAM is NOW

No longer just HOPE.  The DREAM is now. While Governor of Arizona, Napolitano, who has been named head of the Department of Homeland Security VETOED a bill that would have ended in-state tuition for DREAMers. Obama said he would pass the DREAM Act in the first hundred days. This is the time to mobilize.


Democrats Should Face the Challenge
Immigration Can't be Neglected

Washington Post
December 3, 2008

...As U.S. attorney for Arizona in the 1990s, she [Janet Napolitano] prosecuted illegal immigrants. As governor of a state that has become the main entry point for illegal aliens, she has backed tough measures to tighten control of the border, including deploying the National Guard.

Faced with an inundation of unauthorized workers and the federal government's inability to act, she also signed a bill cracking down on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.

At the same time, she vetoed a bill that would have cut off in-state tuition aid for undocumented college students, even if they were brought to the country as children by their parents. She quashed another bill that would have forced local police to act as stand-in federal immigration agents, arresting illegal residents and, she noted, saddling the state with tens of millions of dollars in expenses.

To Republicans in the party's nativist wing, her attempts to steer a middle course smacked of coddling illegal border-crossers. But voters in conservative-leaning Arizona reelected her by a huge margin in 2006, and she remains enormously popular.

Ms. Napolitano has argued that the federal government must establish a viable system for absorbing migrant workers even as it gets serious about enforcement at the border and in the workplace. She has rolled her eyes at provisions that seem less pragmatic than punitive, such as requiring migrant workers to return home for a year after every two years of work or forcing undocumented heads of household to "touch back" in their country of origin to apply for permanent resident status in the United States.

Resistance to comprehensive reform will be intense, particularly in a lifeless economy with high unemployment. There are 40 million foreign-born people in the country today, the highest proportion in almost a century. That has caused political discomfort not just in cities but in suburban, exurban and rural areas -- the new melting pots where many immigrants, including illegal ones, have settled.

As Ms. Napolitano herself has suggested, the status quo is untenable. Local governments bear the brunt of providing for illegal immigrants and rightly resent it.

Meanwhile, millions of illegal immigrants continue to languish in the shadows of a nation that, even in a stricken economy, offers them better employment prospects than they would have at home.

Working in factories and fields, kitchens and construction sites, they form a huge pool of workers easily exploited by unscrupulous employers, who occasionally rob them of wages. They face apparently random federal raids, which have exposed chilling accounts of workplace abuses. A Republican president tried and failed to right the system. It now poses a critical test for the Democrats...

for complete editorial

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