Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

A Wishful Wish List for 2013

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The war in Afghanistan has taken its toll in American lives.

By Bob Gaydos

Having offered a gratitude list for 2012, I thought it only right that I compile a wish list for 2013. One major difference: whereas the gratitude list was a personal statement for developments in my own life, my wish list is less personal and more political, I guess, for want of a better word.

Here it is, in no particular order save for number one:

1. End the Afghanistan War. Now. Do not wait for next year’s announced timetable for troop withdrawal, President Obama. American troops’ presence in Afghanistan no longer makes sense and, indeed, they are more routinely becoming targets for people we thought were on our side. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead, as are many of his chief lieutenants. The continuing cost in lives and bodies cannot be justified, especially with a nation still struggling to restore its economy’s health. Let Afghans figure out how to govern themselves. Give them assistance with this. But end the war.

2. Revive the Occupy movement nationwide. Perhaps the only encouraging sign that Americans still cherished their First Amendment rights and were willing to challenge dubious authority was the movement that started on Wall Street and spread to Oakland. Mostly young, but not exclusively, the Occupy protestors brought attention to the overwhelming power of money in political campaigns and the alarming inequities in wealth and opportunity in America. They were rewarded with tasers, billy clubs, tear gas, and Mace by police forces whose members were among the primary beneficiaries of Occupy proposals. Yet the members persisted, despite FBI targeting as a terrorist group. In my humble opinion, it is the young people of this movement who have the will, intelligence and willingness to bring about some of the changes on this list. Their adult predecessors have failed miserably and show little inclination to change. They’d rather complain or argue. In its old form, or something new, Occupy is this nation’s hope for the future.

3. Pass a comprehensive immigration law, including a pathway to citizenship and severe penalties for businesses that exploit undocumented aliens. If the Republican Party learned anything from the last election it is that Hispanics are willing to vote against their conservative tendencies when the conservative party is not only ignorant of the lives of undocumented immigrants but exceedingly hostile to helping them. Let them finally become full partners in the American Experience, with rights and responsibilities. Congress must do this.

4. Firmly establish global warming as a serious threat to the planet. The White House should launch of a full scale educational, media and political campaign to end the science-is-hokum arguments of the far right. Enough is enough. Establish and honor worldwide practices to reduce the emission of fluorocarbons into the atmosphere. Punish corporations that break the rules. Save the polar bears. Save us all. Remember those super storms the past two years? There are more on the horizon; all we need do is nothing.

5. End secret genetic modification of our foods. It’s everywhere, folks. Require corporations to label foods that have been genetically modified and instruct the Food and Drug Administration to conduct vigilant inspection and testing on any foods that have been genetically modified (such as wheat and corn) for economic reasons and in ways that are supposedly not harmful to consumers (you and me). If there is no harm in the GMOs, why do the big corporations, such as Monsanto, resist labeling their products as such? (Attention Occupy Movement: This one seems to be right up your alley.)

6. Pass meaningful, comprehensive federal gun control laws. Let the NRA debate over the dead bodies of the children in Newtown, Conn., the rest of the country is appalled and sees no need for average citizens to have automatic weapons with large magazines of bullets. Tighten laws on sales of guns. The president should not weaken on this issue. The NRA expected him to come after them this term. He should not disappoint.

7. Resurrect the spirit of bipartisan governing in Congress. This one is a pipe dream, I suspect, but it is crucial to the survival of this nation as a world power. It may take the virtual (or actual) implosion of the Republican Party out of sheer stupidity and stubbornness to accomplish, but so be it. Form a new party of reasonable, reasonably intelligent people and dunk the tea party. To make this happen, citizens will have to let current and would-be office holders know that they are truly fed up with the partisan bickering and lack of production. The past Congress has been called the worst ever. That sounds like a bottom to me.

Well, that’s it. I’ll keep track of these issues as the year progresses. Here’s hoping I’ll have some positive news to report.

Good Policy Can Also be Good Politics

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Barack Obama: A humane move on immigration.

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe Barack Obama is finally figuring it out. You can only negotiate, compromise and reason with people who are willing to negotiate, compromise and reason. In other words, apparently no one with the authority to speak for the Republican Party.

Having committed itself on Day One of his presidency to a priority goal of denying Obama a second term as president, the GOP, led by the no’s of Tea Party conservatives, has opposed every idea, proposal, act of the Obama administration, including those with Republican origins. Even when the act is obviously a good thing — a moral thing — to do.

For example, Obama’s executive order immediately removing the fear of deportation from some 800,000 young people who were brought into this country as children by their immigrant parents. Make no mistake, these young people are Americans in every way but documentation. They have grown up in the United States, gone to our schools, our colleges, served in the military. They work in our businesses. And yet, with the fervor of the GOP anti-immigration campaign growing every day, these young people who call America home lived in fear of being sent back to a “home” they never knew.

Not any longer, thanks to Obama. In a quintessentially American act, the president gave these young people legal status. If they were brought here before age 16, have been here at least five years, are under 30 years old, are in school, have a high school or GED diploma or served in the armed forces, and have no criminal record, they can stay and even apply for work permits.

What was the Republican response to this humanitarian act?

They accused Obama of playing politics.

Really? That’s all of you’ve got? Politics? From a politician? Gosh, guys, you make it sound like a bad word. Just because you’ve been bashing Latinos for two years now during your presidential balloon fight of a primary race, anything positive a Democrat does on immigration is “politics”?

Face it, the GOP has surrendered any right it might have had to a Latino vote with its harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. So Obama, or any Democrat, would be a fool not to appeal to Latinos. If that be politics, so be it — but this also happens to be good policy and good politicians can marry policy and politics for success.

The pitiful GOP response included a failure by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to answer a simple question — although asked three times on “Face the Nation.” If he disagrees with Obama’s order welcoming these immigrants, would Romney, if elected president, issue an order nullifying it? Yes or no? He never replied. Best he offered is that “events” might supersede the president’s well-motivated move as the Romney administration sought a comprehensive answer to the immigration situation.

Yeah, like Republicans have sought for the past ten years. They have blown up the Dream Act, which was a bipartisan immigration effort, in favor of urging deportation and pretty much nothing else. The thing is, Obama has been deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace. But he has just made nearly a million young people — who did nothing illegal — immune from that threat.

Look, Republicans for the most part are simply ticked off that they have been trumped, politically. They have shown no real interest in a humane immigration policy for this nation of immigrants. They may rail about drug trafficking from Mexico, but for years they had no plan for the thousands of immigrants who streamed in from Mexico just to seek work — often work most Americans didn’t want to do.

Worse, Republicans have become unable or unwilling to simply respond to acts or events for what they are. For example, to say in this case: The president did a good thing here. We applaud him.

Even Marco Rubio, the Florida senator with vice presidential aspirations and an obvious stake in the Latino vote, could not simply praise Obama for his humane gesture without suggesting it would have been better to get Congress involved.

Really, Mario? You know full well that Republicans in Congress scared George W. Bush away from humane immigration reform, which his instincts told him was the right thing to do and which could have been a major accomplishment in his otherwise disastrous presidency. Some Republican wing nuts in Congress are threatening to sue over Obama’s order, behaving as if the president does not have considerable powers of his own, including the power to grant amnesty and immunity from laws, including those on deportation.

Nothing drives a rigid, intolerant, uncompassionate, fearful, selfish person crazier than someone exhibiting a flexible, tolerant, compassionate, hopeful, generous attitude toward the object of their fear. Call it politics if you wish. Others call it basic human decency.

* * *

PS: I like that ending, but I have to add something for any Republicans who might have read this and feel upset or insulted or angry or whatever because they don’t necessarily agree with their party’s response to the president’s decision in this matter. It’s not my problem. If you are a Republican today, for better or worse, you are identified with these views. As I see it, you have three choices: (1) Accept the statements and views of your avowed leaders as they are, in silence; (2) work to bring your party back to a more traditional conservatism, one that still has a heart; or (3) get the heck out. The choice is yours, and that, too, is politics.





Mitt Romney, Human Question Mark

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Ever get the feeling that Mitt Romney qualifies everything he says to death?

He’s careful never to: a) utter a simple declarative sentence; b) directly answer a direct question; c) take a definitive stand on any controversial subject; d) reveal that he lacks any sincere or strongly held beliefs; or, e) reveal that, au contraire (as Missionary Mitt might have said, waiting out the Vietnam War in Gay Paree), he actually has any sincere or strongly held beliefs. If Multiple Choice Mitt, as one wag called him, continues to hide behind temporizing, query-dodging, and verbal gymnastics, pretty soon, nothing he says will make sense to anyone who still cares to listen.

The candidate’s question circumvention, it appears, may already have reached critical mass. Mitt is currently “trying to walk a line” (translation from Republican: ducking the question) by camouflaging his reaction to President Obama’s new deportation policy for undocumented immigrants.

A Bloomberg poll released three days after Obama’s announcement revealed that Americans enthusiastically support the plan by a margin of more than 2 to 1. Mitt, however, blindsided by the president’s stroke of sheer political genius, has been caught dumbstruck with his pants bunched around his ankles – a posture that could make walking and evading pundits at the same time a harrowing experience.

Bewildered by this unexpected challenge, Mitt found himself faced with another of those risky sit-down interviews with a non-Fox journalist. His interrogator, CBS veteran Bob Schieffer, asked Romney five times whether he would rescind Obama’s grant of deferred action – which is not an executive order, a form of “back-door amnesty,” or a path to permanent legal status, as some news outlets have mistakenly reported. Instead, this presidential directive (lauded by the reform advocacy group America’s Voice as “the biggest news on immigration in 25 years”) offers a reprieve from the threat of deportation to some 800,000 “DREAMers” – those undocumented immigrants age 30 or under who were brought here as children.

Mitt Romney’s ‘great allergy to specifics and details’
Facing Bob Schieffer’s simple question, Mitt meandered, stuttered, and blundered through a series of obfuscations that clearly didn’t meet Schieffer’s standards for an answer. Mitt suggested they “step back and look at the issue,” then segued into a nonsequitur about Obama’s alleged failure to do anything about immigration reform earlier in his term. (This charge, one of Mitt’s stock campaign lies, ignores the fact that Senate Republicans shot down the DREAM Act during the 2010 lame duck session of Congress by once again abusing the filibuster during a procedural vote.)

Still stalling Schieffer, Romney digressed about the military and then nonsensically claimed that any perceived need for him to reply to Schieffer’s question “would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with – with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals, such that they know what their – their status … is going to be.”

After Romney’s disastrous “Face the Nation” interview, Rich Lowry of the National Review observed that the candidate exhibits a “great allergy to specifics and details.” The reason he’s so vague, Lowry speculated, is that Romney believed he lost his 1994 Senate race against Teddy Kennedy because he was “too specific” when speaking to the press. Hence, his manic swing to the opposite pole: extreme equivocation.

Mitt thought he had plenty of time to wait for Sen. Marco Rubio to come up with a bright idea that would exculpate him from his “severely conservative” position on immigration during the primaries: that undocumented immigrants should simply “self-deport.” Mitt figured the current Congress wouldn’t pass any version of the DREAM Act, whether it bore Rubio’s imprimatur or not. If they did, he reasoned, he could simply veto it; he boasted about that frequently on the campaign trail.

Mittens hides out between a rock and a hard place
As things stand now, Mitt can choose to court Latino voters by admitting that he’ll probably leave Obama’s policy in place while searching for a “long-term solution” (a phrase he repeated five times in a press statement intended to convey that – as with every other policy position about which he’s been interviewed – he didn’t plan to reveal any details until after the election). If he concedes that he won’t rescind Obama’s directive “on Day One,” he’ll antagonize the GOP’s most xenophobic supporters.

Since Rubio confessed that his “DREAM Act Lite” proposal was dead in the water once Obama enacted virtually the same plan, Mitt’s only alternative is to keep stonewalling reporters and insisting, as he did when the GOP “war against women” became an issue, that his message for Latino voters would be focused “intently” on economic issues. If he takes that route, he may alienate Latino voters even further than he already did by pandering to anti-immigrant bigotry during the primaries.

To make matters worse, Mitt’s own caucus has leapt into the fray, with Mitch McConnell and three other senators exhorting him to man up and explain in detail, at an upcoming conference of Latino officials, what he’s planning to do about immigration. In the House, John Boehner and company have joined their radical base to denounce Obama’s plan as “executive overreach.”

Boehner shed crocodile tears for Obama’s “victims” while speculating about the constitutionality of the president’s proposal. Adding insult to stupefying hypocrisy, Boehner (who practically invented gridlock) huffed, “The president’s actions make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get to a permanent solution.” (You want bipartisan, Mr. “Compromise – I reject the word” Boehner? Step outside, and I’ll show you bipartisan!)

Young Latinos who lobbied for DREAM Act elated, worried
Whether Obama’s immigration plan is challenged in court or emerges as a viable policy, many young DREAMers who hope to be spared from deportation are jubilant. Others, however, remain apprehensive about declaring their identity to the government. Although the Obama administration has tried previously to deter Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from deporting so many young, productive immigrants and asked the agency to focus instead on apprehending undocumented criminals, ICE isn’t bound by law to halt deportations simply because the administration asks them to. Instead of being handled by ICE, however, this new, more affirmative process will be implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles benefits, not enforcement.

If Mitt ever gets around to formulating a response to the plaintive queries of DREAMers, they may find his dissembling approach offers far too little, way too late. No one will be paying attention any longer, whether he runs his malicious ads in Spanish, Klingon, or Farsi.

The lesson Mitt may glean from this humiliating episode is written in plain English: When you stop taking questions in public life, you learn the hard way that people soon stop waiting for your answers.