Friday, August 29, 2008

Focusing on Immigration at the DNC

A notable line from this article: And because the government cannot deport millions of people, what they do is to make people’s lives miserable so they will leave on their own,” Sharry said. “The New York Times calls it a ‘strategic misery.’ We call it non-violent cleansing.


New America Media, News Report, Anthony D. Advincula
Aug 26, 2008

Editor’s Note: Immigration is a hot button issue at the DNC in Denver and many participants are clamoring for comprehensive reform, reports NAM New York-based editor, Anthony D. Advincula.

DENVER, Co—Before the opening gavel hit the sounding block at the convention’s opening ceremony, Democratic leaders and supporters here did not waste time and took the immigration issues to stage yesterday afternoon.

The Democrats described the current immigration system as dysfunctional, affecting the economy and moral fiber of American society, and reiterated that the Democratic Party strongly recommends a comprehensive immigration reform law to fix the problem.

“Everything with our current immigration enforcement is a failure, starting with ICE,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said in an almost three-hour immigration panel discussion at downton Hilton Inn. “Roughly 30,000 ICE workers lack qualifications.”

Lofgren lashed out at the government for appointing ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, who had no previous experience relating to immigration. “At 46, after working for the Department of Commerce and at the Office of Independent Counsel under Kenneth Starr, the government asked her to do this job. We need to have qualified individuals to handle immigration issues.”

With a rising number of skilled immigrants, U.S. military service personnel being denied legal status, as well as immigrant families who have been entangled in complicated legal bouts and continue to be separated, Lofgren added that the administrative and legal aspects of immigration are clearly discombobulated.

“What kind of system is this when we want a sailor who served for our country to just remain in Iraq because he has a conditional immigration status and is facing a 3- or 10-year ban?” she said. “Detainees have been denied proper healthcare and we declined due process.”

She illustrated the massive ICE arrest of Latino workers in Postville, Iowa, where they were not only denied legal representation, but also charged with robbery. Lofgren alleged that even the judge there scripted the workers’ pleas. She also claimed that about 70 percent of undocumented immigrants in the country are highly skilled and could certainly bolster the U.S. economy.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, admitted that immigration is the biggest challenge for Democrats.

“Republicans always say that we have good laws with bad people violating these good laws. And because the government cannot deport millions of people, what they do is to make people’s lives miserable so they will leave on their own,” Sharry said. “The New York Times calls it a ‘strategic misery.’ We call it non-violent cleansing. This is what they (Republicans) do to try to take control of the system.”

Immigration is indicative to this year’s presidential election, he added. “It’s the defining issue. This is the reason that Senator John McCain had to change his position on comprehensive immigration reform to get the people around him and put him as the party’s candidate.”

For people who say that undocumented immigrants should wait in line, Sharry’s response is: “Where’s the line that they can get into?” He pointed out that there is no effective system that allows immigrants to wait, because they are waiting for nothing. “Believe me, anyone would want to take the airplane to come to this country, rather than crossing the river.”

Democratic leaders also assured that their party would continue to endorse elements of comprehensive immigration reform – and that it will be the position of the national party no matter what the Congress does.

“I’m confident that during the first term of Barack Obama, we will have comprehensive immigration reform,” Lofgren said. “What we need to do is to make it public.”

Marco Lopez, Jr., director of the Arizona State Department of Commerce, concurred. “Immigration reform is the only way to end the violence at the border. It will solve crimes relating to human smuggling.”

Lopez, who was the former mayor of Nogales, Arizona, said that 50 percent of immigration-related arrests in his state happen in a 20-mile stretch between Nogales and Tucson, where organized smuggling rings operate.

“We should stand up to bullies. We should stand up to people hijacking the immigration debates. We should stand up to those who exclude people based on their race and where they come from,” Sharry said. “It’s ridiculous to hear people rejoicing when there are few people who speak Spanish in their schools. I hope this all ends soon.”

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