Saturday, July 7, 2007

Private contractors to patrol the US-Mexico border? Some members of Congress are interested in that proposal.
While many reports have focused on the electoral challenges facing various senators as a result of the "grand bargain" immigration bill, Novak says that some reports suggest that Dole (R-NC) may sit more secure in her hopes of re-election as a result of debate over the bill (e.a.):
Dole's private polls put her favorability level at 59 percent, compared with President Bush's 42 percent. Republican insiders attribute that mostly to her opposing the immigration bill backed by Bush. Thanks to effective second quarter fund-raising (at a level not yet announced), Dole is sitting on an estimated $2 million. She previously had been criticized as an ineffective first-term senator, mainly because of her national chairmanship of the failed 2006 Senate campaign.
The NYT has an update on the conflict between Suffolk County (NY) Executive Steve Levy and the members of the NY state Assembly "minority caucus." The caucus has been behind a drive to deny Suffolk access to some tax revenue (about $320 million) as a result of Levy's opposition to "illegal immigration" and a "day laborer" center. So far, Levy's approval rating seems to have drifted upward, and the "minority caucus" also claims that it has gained from the stand-off, which still continues.

Friday, July 6, 2007

While some have speculated about some of the challenges Sen. Graham (R-SC) may face in his 2008 re-election bid, Graham's fellow SC senator, Jim DeMint (R), has written a letter praising his colleague:
It's not unusual after a sporting event to see the opposing players
congratulating each other for a hard-fought game. While the stakes of the
emotional immigration debate were far greater than any game, good friendships
survived the battle. The first person to shake my hand after the vote last week
was my good friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham.Some may be surprised to learn that
throughout the immigration debate, Sen. Graham and I continued to talk about how
to achieve tax reform, how to get every American insured with private health
care, and how to expand South Carolina's leadership in nuclear energy. And just
last Friday, we both cosponsored a bill to keep the federal government from
reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, a policy that would gag talk radio and
everyone's First Amendment right to free speech.Lindsey and I have worked
closely together in Congress for over eight years and we make a good team for
South Carolina. Both of us have been willing to take unpopular stands when we
thought we were right, and both of us have gone against the president when we
thought he was wrong.We may have different views on how to improve our
immigration system, but I have a deep respect for the hard work, conviction and
passion Sen. Graham brings to policy debates. I'm proud to work alongside
Lindsey; he's a trusted friend and a true asset to South Carolina and the
In Virginia, the supervisors of Prince William County are considering a policy that "would require police to check the residency status of anyone suspected of breaking the law. And it would require schools, libraries and even swimming pools to verify the immigration status for anyone using county services." As this AP story suggests, this resolution might lead to a court challenge, since the courts have declared that "undocumented immigrants" have a right to public education. Still, it seems as though many of the supervisors seem inclined to support this measure.
The Washington Post draws attention to a significant element in the statute being considered in PWC--the "writ of mandamus":
But there is one exceptional item in the resolution, Kobach said -- a provision that would give legal residents "writ of mandamus" powers, which would allow them to sue Prince William if they suspect that a county agency has failed to comply with the resolution's aim of denying services and reporting violators. Muzaffar Chishti, director of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute's office at the New York University law school, said that particular measure is "as close to encouraging vigilante action as I have ever seen on paper."
It seems that many current lawsuits about "illegal immigration" have had "undocumented immigrants" or their advocates suing a county/city/state for access; this measure would, it seems, reverse that tendency and allow citizens to sue the county.
The supervisors will vote on the measure on Tuesday.
In the wake of an immigration raid, some activist groups are trying to pressure the California city of Santa Ana (pop. 351,322) to declare itself a "sanctuary city." But some members of the Santa Ana government are skeptical:

Councilwoman Michele Martinez said she inquired about the designation several months ago, but city staff has yet to respond.

“Most of the council thinks sanctuary is not going to do anything, so why even do it,” Martinez said.

Still, Martinez said she was considering bring the measure before the City Council.

Police Chief Paul Walters said he did not support it. Illegal immigrants are referred to federal authorities only if they commit a crime, he said.

Sanctuary “is a political statement,” he said. “It's not anything we want to support in this city. We want to go after criminals and work with federal authorities.”

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A reader has sent along a helpful tip on a site (run by NumbersUSA, which opposes the "grand bargain"), SmartBusinessPractices, which has an outline of the way the current "Basic Pilot Program" works. This program is currently voluntary under federal standards, but all businesses, it seems, are welcome to use it. And participation in this program is now mandated by law in Arizona.
According to this outline, there are three basic "steps" in the Program's process.
Step 1: After registering with the Program, an employer has a new hire fill out an I-9 form (e.a.):
The I-9 simply states the employee's name, date of birth, social security number, and an attestation that the employee is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien authorized to work in the U.S. The employee presents to the employer either one document establishing both identity and work authorization (e.g., a U.S. passport or green card) or two documents that together establish identity and work authorization (e.g., a driver's license and a social security card). The employer examines them to make sure they reasonably appear to be valid (i.e., the photo is not taped on the driver's license) and records the document number, issuing agency and expiration date, if any, on the I-9. Then, the employer signs an attestation on the I-9 saying that he has examined the documents and they appear valid.
For steps 2 and 3:
Step 2 - Once the I-9 is done, the employer logs onto a secure DHS website, enters the employee's full name, date of birth and social security number. He chooses from a drop-down box which document/combination of documents the employee presented, and then clicks the submit button. The information about the employee is transmitted immediately to the SSA (Social Security Administration).

Step 3 - If the SSN (social security number) and the name match SSA records, the employer receives a message within two or three seconds that the employee is authorized to work and the process is finished.

If the SSN and name match, but the SSA cannot verify that the employee is work authorized (i.e., the SSN may have been issued "not for employment purposes") the employer gets a message that DHS is attempting to verify work authorization. DHS usually responds within 24 hours, but the law gives it three days, since it has to check its records by hand if the automated check does not match the name and immigration document. If DHS finds a match, it tells the employer and the process is finished. Otherwise, the employer is told to have the employee check with DHS directly to clear up the problem.

To Hire or Not to Hire - If the SSN and name do not match, the employer receives a message to refer the employee to SSA to clear up the problem.

In either case where the employee is referred to SSA/DHS, the employer will be notified within 10 days that either work authorization is confirmed or not confirmed, in which case the employer must terminate the employee.

A few months back, an immigration raid on Michael Bianco Inc. in New Bedford raised some controversy. Today, Michael Bianco Inc. has had fines totaling around $45,000 (for "hazardous work conditions") levied against it. The company, according to the Boston Herald, "has 15 business days to respond to the proposed fines."
An interesting CS Monitor story on the ins-and-outs of employer-based immigration enforcement efforts. It also offers some commentary on the newly passed Arizona law that penalizes the employers of "illegal aliens."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

In honor of July 4, 2007: Blogging Federalist No. 1
(Yes, I know that July 4 honors the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but the Constitution has helped shape what this new independent entity of the USA ultimately became. And 2007 is the 220th anniversary of both the Constitutional Convention and the start of The Federalist. Besides, blogging Federalist No. 1 seemed like a good idea at the time...(how many bad ideas have started with that thought...)

Madison and Hamilton, the foremost writers of the The Federalist, were also participants of the convention that drafted the Constitution in 1787. Their arguments can help reveal some of the stakes and issues of our present form of government. Whether or not you agree with all their points, these points have been influential in the shaping of American public discourse.

Just a quick review of the The Federalist. As many of you no doubt know, these papers were mostly published between October 1787 and August 1788. The Constitutional convention released a draft of the new Constitution in 1787, and this Constitution went to the states for ratification. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (though he wrote significantly fewer--only about 5 or so--than either Hamilton or Madison) collaborated in composing these essays under the name "Publius." With all these essays (85 in all) mainly coming out over a year's time, the two main collaborators on The Federalist, Madison and Hamilton, published at a blog-like pace, and these documents have been deeply influential in thinking about the role of the federal government and (republican) politics.

Well, is anyone interested in this sort of blogging? Or at least find this analysis mildly entertaining? If I find enough reader interest, I could try to blog some more of The Federalist...and if (if?) this is too much a muddle or seems too foolish, I can let this be a stand-alone embarrassment...)

(ahem ahem) Blogging Federalist 1

Hamilton has a lot he wants to accomplish in this kick-off essay for the Federalist. He wants to assert the importance of the current debate about ratifying the proposed Constitution and convince his readers that the political union of the 13 states is, in fact, an expedient and wise course of action.

He starts by reminding his readers of some of the difficulties of the Articles of Confederation, mentioning "unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government," and sets up the stakes for the new nation's choice:
It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
At the very outset of the Federalist, Hamilton counters idealistic aims with practical suspicion (e.a.): "Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected." Hamilton asserts that, due to the fact that the proposed Constitution would indeed touch upon many private and public interests, debate over it will necessarily be shaped by these interests.
And the two competing interests he mentions in the rest of this essay will be the interests of those who support wider union and the interests of those who wish to keep these states divided.

Even as Hamilton wants to advance his arguments for the Constitution, he doesn't want to burn too many bridges, either, so he's careful to admit a skepticism about the purity of motivations on both sides of the Constitution question (e.a.):
I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable--the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.
Especially about controversial issues, a lot of us probably have a tendency to draw strict lines of separation between ourselves and fellow citizens with whom we disagree. Hamilton, however, here suggests that "wise and good men" may fall on both sides of a national question.
While inflaming public passions was and is a very popular thing to do amongst writers on politics and other issues, Hamilton now warns against that "intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties" and says that it is "absurd to aim at making [political] proselytes by fire and sword." Attending to the variety of biases, Hamilton also attends to the varieties of motivations, and much of The Federalist will consider the way in which a political government can cope with/incorporate the motivations of its citizens.

In this revealing paragraph, Hamilton takes on the stakes of public discourse and the possibility of an alliance between state power and civic liberty:
To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
That bit about those who "hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives" sounds like it could almost have been written about some portions of the blogosphere--maybe?

While Hamilton does talk skeptically about certain public postures on behalf of individual civil rights, he seems to do so because, he says, he aims for a more ultimate continuation of liberty. Though a claim such as "dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people" sounds rather harsh, he ultimately condemns this "specious mask of zeal" (and specious seems an operative word here--Hamilton seems to be particularly going after those who wear a false concern for public liberty) because it may ultimately be a "much more certain road to the introduction of despotism" and to the overturning of republican liberties. In advocating for the Constitution, Hamilton also advocates for a "vigorous" government, which he thinks is "essential to the security of liberty."

In the later part of this essay, Hamilton lays out the course of the argument to follow in the Federalist:
Hamilton admits that he is a believer in the proposed Constitution and says to his readers, "I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness." In many parts of the Federalist to follow, liberty, dignity, and happiness will be intertwined aims. By having a federal government capable of defending its national dignity, the United States can, in Publius's view, have a federal government capable of defending the liberties of its citizens, and a concern for personal motivations (which include the pursuit of happiness) can help inform the debates about public policy and, therefore, the national capacity for dignity and liberty. Publius is here straying away from explicit guarantees: the course he advises is only "the safest course." This course is not (as perhaps history has shown) without its own weaknesses and it may ultimately fall short.

The Federalist begins, then, on a note of safety and preservation, particularly the preservation of the union in the face of those (even in 1787) who spoke of the 13 states as being too various to work underneath a single government. Against those who argue for the dissolution of the federal government, Hamilton asserts the value of the union and the way in which the government of the union can lead--perhaps--to a preservation of republican liberty and moderation.
'Nuff said:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sen. Specter (R-PA) introduces legislation to limit the use of Presidential signing statements "by, first, preventing the President from issuing a signing statement that alters the meaning of a statute by instructing the courts not to rely on signing statements in interpreting an act; and second, granting Congress the power to participate in any case where the construction or constitutionality of an act of Congress is in question and a signing statement was issued when the act was signed."
Newsweek has an interesting interview with a "coyote," someone who smuggles individuals over the border into the US. A few telling questions and answers:
What's the going smuggling rate today?
We charge $1,800 per person. That's standard now. It was $1,600 not too long ago, in 2004 and 2005. That money is split up between about seven or eight of us who work together. I earn $300 from each trip and make a trip every three days. We usually take across a group of eight or nine people. They used to be much bigger. When I started this three years ago, there'd be 15 or 20 people crossing in one group. I made $700 for each trip back then. It's changed now that the United States is adding more security. Fewer people are coming up to us now.

Who's crossing?
People from all over Mexico and then Latin America. Lots of Central Americans, Brazilians, people from Asia.

What about the Mexican drug cartels and reports that they're now muscling in on human smuggling?
It's getting bad. There's a lot of pressure on us here to work with these other groups. We can't really go at it alone anymore.

Is "middle-class anxiety" the reason why Sen. Bayh (D-IN) voted to oppose cloture last week? E. J. Dionne interviews Bayh (h/t Polipundit):

But there was a larger reason why this bill crashed. About two weeks before it died, I sat down with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who up to that point had voted to let the bill go forward. Bayh was blue about the legislation's prospects, and his explanation had more to do with the political climate than with the bill's particulars -- although he cited some of those in explaining why he voted, in the end, to block a measure he called "a theoretical hodgepodge."

"The timing of this is all wrong," Bayh said. "There's a tremendous amount of middle-class anxiety in the country right now," and anger over immigration reflected "the complete lack of a domestic agenda to address the needs of the middle class" in areas such as health care, pensions and education. When voters saw Congress directing its attention to 12 million illegal immigrants, he said, "They asked: 'When are you going to get around to me? Are you going to get around to me?' " Bayh himself strongly favors legalizing the status of the 12 million. He opposed some of the bill's more punitive sections and sided with Latino groups in trying to strengthen the rules on family reunification.

But he said he understood why many voters weren't buying immigration reform this year. "When people are feeling more secure about their own situations, they're more willing to welcome others," he said in a follow-up interview yesterday. "If we had moved first to address the middle class's anxieties, we would have had a much better chance of success."

Dionne also draws attention to fears about government incompetence in enforcing the laws as another possible reason for the setbacks the "grand bargain" has faced so far...
How does Sen. Graham stand in South Carolina?
Will the House act? The Hill shows some of the mixed and murky signals being sent:
House Democratic leaders have suggested that they will not act on a broad immigration reform bill unless the Senate acts, a remote possibility following last week’s failed cloture vote
House Republican leaders are calling out their Democratic counterparts for failing to tackle immigration matters, but have made it clear they do not want the lower chamber to act on President Bush’s proposed guest-worker program.

Kurt Bardella, a spokesman for Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Immigration Reform Caucus, said the demise of the Senate bill was a positive development for border security and the debate forced Congress to “come to grips with the reality that the illegal immigration issue is an issue of national importance.”
While "Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he expected many of his members to line up behind a bill crafted by King and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking member on the Judiciary Committee,"
Some House Democrats, meanwhile, want to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.
Following the Senate vote last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, said in a release that Democratic leaders need to “improve the current unsatisfactory system.”
An interesting Hill story: Even as Senate Judiciary Chair Leahy (D-VT) has said that he is considering attempting to muster a contempt citation for the White House over the controversy over the US attorney firings, some Senate Republicans are being rather careful about their public statements over these contempt charges. Sen. Cornyn offers a hint of some Republican strategy (e.a.):
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), vice chairman of the GOP conference, told The Hill on Friday that he thinks Republican cooperation with a criminal contempt finding will be required.

“It’s just a formal process that sets up a legal challenge,” Cornyn said. “We’ve got to cut out some of the politics and get this to the courts.”

One Senate GOP aide, requesting anonymity, agreed that Republicans might approve a contempt finding as a procedural step. Should the White House continue to resist the subpoenas, only one of the two chambers has to approve a criminal citation before the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia can empanel a grand jury.
Who are some of the other senators who may want the judiciary to resolve these executive privilege controversies?
Complicating the dilemma, several Senate Republicans have suggested letting the judiciary resolve the executive privilege dispute, setting themselves up for a Democratic campaign to support a criminal contempt finding.

“At the end of the day, this will be settled by the courts,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said.

“I think this is an issue that’s going to be handled by the courts,” agreed Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

“In the end, the courts will decide this anyway,” said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who has called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s resignation in response to the firings.

“We can’t have a Congress that’s constantly bringing administration officials in to harass them,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). “But it’s a matter for the courts.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called a contempt vote “the last thing the country needs,” but advised lawmakers to “let the courts fight this out.”

In fact, two equally difficult options exist for Democrats to enforce the subpoenas without a chamber-wide contempt vote, according to former House general counsel Stan Brand. Senators can either pass a jurisdictional bill to send the dispute to court or ask the sergeant at arms to arrest White House officials named in the subpoenas and use a habeas corpus motion to bring the case before a judge.
This story also raises the possibility of some senatorial quid pro quo:
Meanwhile, a second subpoena standoff may be in store for the Senate as Leahy awaits a July 18 deadline for documents relating to the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. But Kmiec, the former Reagan administration counsel, sees a possible Republican endgame: support contempt in the U.S. attorneys inquiry, but defend White House prerogatives on the eavesdropping summonses.

“While it’s true that the [attorneys] subpoenas relate to a core executive power … the executive has not done a good and sufficient job of explain[ing] why the dismissals were undertaken,” Kmiec said.

By contrast, said Kmiec, the wiretapping inquiry may run into a stronger case for executive privilege due to the wartime and national-security context. By showing some “reasonableness” on the attorneys issue, Republicans could convince a few Democrats to join them in shunning a contempt finding for the second round of subpoenas, he added.

This trade-off may also play into a wider Republican strategy for 2008 and beyond: by going along with the US attorneys investigation, Senate Republicans can seem wary of broad claims of executive privilege (especially when many associate the present White House with over-reaching executive powers) while also supporting some executive powers for the "War on Terror." So they can try to present themselves as "tough on Terror" but also skeptical of the "Imperial Presidency."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Arizona Update: Today, Gov. Napolitano (D) signed HB 2779, which would penalize the employers of "illegal aliens." She also signed SB 1265, which would change the burden of proof needed to hold an "illegal immigrant" accused of certain felonies without bail. She is also increasing pressure on a federal level. Regarding HB 2779, she wrote a letter to ICE asking the agency to notify Arizona officials if the agency comes across businesses hiring illegally. She has also written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), asking for an expansion of the current Basic Pilot Program (for checking the legal status of new hires), which presently covers 15,000 businesses nationwide; the new Arizona law, which mandates participation in this program, will add another 130,000-150,000 businesses to this program. She also calls upon Reid and Pelosi to try to push some version of "comprehensive immigration reform."
While Gov. Napolitano says she's unhappy with some parts of HB 2779 (she lists some reservations here), she signed this measure because she felt that "states like Arizona have no choice but to take strong action to discourage the further flow of illegal immigration through our borders." She said that she is willing to call a special session of the state legislature in order to fix some of (what she takes to be) the flaws of this bill.
UPDATE: KVOA has a roundup of some of the provisions included in HB 2779:
_ It prohibits employers from knowingly or intentionally hiring illegal immigrants and requires businesses to use a federal database to check the employment eligibility of workers.
_ Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants could face a business license suspension lasting up to 10 days. They also would face a three-year probationary period during which they would be required to report new hires to prosecutors. Businesses that take steps to get around the ban would face a mandatory 10-day license suspension and five years of probation. Second-time violators would have their business licenses revoked permanently.
_ It requires the state's attorney general or county attorneys to investigate complaints of alleged illegal hirings. If complaints are determined not to be frivolous, county attorneys would be required to take action against offenders. Prosecutors also would have to report the illegal immigrant workers to federal and local law enforcement agencies.
_ It provides a measure of legal protection for employers who can prove they verified the eligibility of their workers through the database of government records.
_ It provides $2.5 million for enforcing the new rules and takes effect on Jan. 1.
_ People who steal the identities of others for the purpose of getting a job would be subject to the state's aggravated identity theft law.
Craig Crawford at CQ makes an interesting claim about "Fairness Doctrine"-type legislation:
Behind the scenes, prominent Democratic lawmakers are exploring the idea of more regulation. While some of this is aimed at showing the party’s grass-roots activists that their leaders are fighting back, it also provokes a serious debate about the role of government in regulating public airwaves.

Unless broadcasters take steps to voluntarily balance their programming, they can expect a return of fairness rules if Democrats keep control of Congress and win the White House next year.

What else could be cooking behind closed doors?

Would all Democrats back such rule changes? Would any Republicans join them? The House Democrats were split last week on the Pence amendment (115-113); how do Senate Democrats stand? The various Democratic contenders for the presidency?

The "Lost Canadians": An interesting situation:

After the Second World War, many countries - including Canada and Australia - tightened their citizenship laws without telling the hundreds of thousands of people who might be affected. Canadians and Australians who had taken citizenship in another country or war brides from the Second World War, for example, suddenly found themselves stripped of citizenship.

These so-called "lost Canadians" may number in the hundreds of thousands. While there is a law pending in Australia to return citizenship to "lost Australians," "lost Canadians" (and some Canadian legislators) hope that Canada will adopt similar measures. One such "lost Canadian" is Kathleen Fremont:

Fremont, 84, is one of hundreds of thousands of so-called "lost Canadians" who was unknowingly stripped their citizenship through obscure sections of the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act. Like many of them, she's stuck living in the U.S. because, even though she lived in Canada until she was 27, the government doesn't consider her Canadian.


Fremont, who was invited to swim for Canada at the 1936 Olympics, lost her citizenship when she moved to Reno, Nev., and got U.S. status so she could work at a casino there. She got married, settled in California and never thought twice about whether or not she was still Canadian - until she was planning to move back to Vancouver in 1989.

That's when the government told her she couldn't live in her home province because she was no longer Canadian.

This is old, but it is, I think, still an interesting National Interest interview with French President Nicholas Sarkozy prior to taking office. Regarding the admission of Turkey into the European Union, Sarkozy says (e.a.):

Whether Turkey meets the conditions for entry or not does not solve the problem. On this matter, I have always been clear: I do not think Turkey has a right to join the European Union because it is not European. But just because Turkey should not become a member of Europe does not mean that it should be shunned by Europe. Who could seriously argue that the closeness of links between Turkey and Europe, that are the fruit of a long common history and a sincere friendship, should be destroyed if Turkey did not enter the EU? Turkey is a great country that shares a number of our interests and our values. Therefore we must strengthen our ties with the country through a "privileged partnership".

But we should go further and offer to the countries in the Mediterranean the establishment of a "Mediterranean Union", in which Turkey would be a natural pivot. This Union would work closely with the EU. It could organize periodic meetings between its chiefs of states similar to the model of the G8. There could be a Mediterranean Council, like the European Council. The foundations of this area of solidarity and cooperation would be a common immigration policy, commercial and economic development, the promotion of the rule of law, the protection of the environment and the promotion of co-development, with, for example, the creation of a Mediterranean investment bank based on the model of the European version.

Also, Sarkozy suggests the possibility of cooperation between the policies of the European Union and the aims of a trans-Atlantic alliance, but he does also wish to keep some of the scope of NATO limited (e.a.):

TNI: You have been criticized for being too close to the administration of George W. Bush. What is your response to your detractors?

NS: I think this is unconstructive criticism. The friendship between Europe and the United States is a cornerstone of world stability, period. It is deep, sincere and unshakeable. But friendship means being with your friends when they need you and also being able to tell them the truth when they are wrong. Friendship means respect, understanding and affection . . . but not submission. Friendship is only real when it is honest and independent. I want an independent France and an independent Europe, and I call for our American friends to let us be free; free to be their friends.

TNI: One might see the Atlantic alliance in opposition to the idea of a European defense policy. Do you think this a just criticism?

NS: This "either/or" approach is outdated. Europeans, like Americans, need both NATO and the EU. Because they complement each other. Let me remind you that of the 26 members of NATO, 21 are in the European Union; and of the 27 countries in the EU, 21 are members of NATO. But Europe needs to make sure than NATO does not become, as seems to be the wish of the United States, an international institution undertaking too broad a range of military, humanitarian and policing missions. NATO should not become a concurrent organization to the UN.

Hard Feelings: Via Novak, "one of the few conservative Republican senators who stuck with President Bush on immigration" says of Minority Leader Sen. McConnell's switch to vote against cloture last week: "If this were a war, Sen. McConnell should be relieved of command for dereliction of duty." Ouch! And one wonders who this "conservative Republican senator" is...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Republican gains from the failure of cloture? While many news stories have focused on the electoral risk posed to Republicans by the failure of to accomplish the "grand bargain," Rasmussen has come out with an interesting result showing the possibility of some electoral benefit to Republicans:

During the month of June, the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans increased and the number of Democrats was little changed. That’s the first time in 2007 that the number of Republicans has increased. (see history). The gap between the parties the smallest it has been since last July.


The Democrats' net advantage over Republicans is now 4.1 percentage points, down a point-and-a-half from a month ago. However, it’s a long way from Election 2004 when the Democrats’ net advantage was just 0.6 percentage points.

A separate survey found that Democrats continue to enjoy a large lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

The immigration debate appears to have helped the Republican Party while hurting the President and other supporters of the “comprehensive” reform legislation. Prior to the debate, 47% of voters trusted Democrats more on the immigration issue. Following the failure of the Senate bill, just 39% trust the Democrats more on the issue. In fact, among unaffiliated voters, Republicans are now trusted more than the Democrats on immigration. The only other issue where the GOP can make that claim is national security.

32% of those surveyed called themselves Republicans; 36.1% called themselves Democrats.
Interesting LAT story by Janet Hook about the seeming "collapse" of the grand bargain. Hook presents an interesting statistic:
The crucial Senate roll call last week reflected a bipartisan consensus that the bill was fraught with risk for anyone facing voters soon. Of the 33 senators who may run for reelection in 2008, 23 voted to kill the immigration bill.
However, a few quibbles with this report:
That suggests that one legacy of the immigration imbroglio is a transformation of the issue from a shining opportunity for bipartisan cooperation into the new "third rail" of American politics — an issue that, like Social Security reform, politicians will flee as if their political lives are at stake.
Except both the opposition to cloture last week and the support of cloture were bipartisan; cloture fell through partially because all the partisans of a single side didn't cooperate with each other (e.g. DeMint opposed Graham, and Dorgan opposed Kennedy). Also, there does seem to be significant support for piecemeal changes to immigration policy--mainly focusing on enforcement. Indeed, it seems from polls that, on the whole, Americans did not believe that this "grand bargain" would actually reduce "illegal immigration" (which many Americans do want a reduction of). The non-partisan CBO agreed with this public suspicion that this bill would not stop "illegal immigration." To some extent, then, the failure of this "grand bargain" may have, in part, been the result of a breakdown of public faith in immigration enforcement.
And that brings me to a second point:
Since President Reagan signed the landmark legislation, which legalized some 3 million undocumented immigrants, the media environment has been transformed by talk radio and a 24/7 cable news cycle that fuels emotions on the political extremes. An influx of illegal immigrants has altered the population across the nation, not just in a handful of border states. And the political system has become so polarized that lawmakers' compromise-building skills seem to have atrophied.

In the wake of those changes, the Senate battle over immigration showed how hard it now is for Congress and the president to confront emotional issues when an incensed minority tries to derail the efforts.
I think another reason--beyond talk radio and the "24/7 cable news cycle"--why the "grand bargain" has had such a hard time so far is Reagan's 1986 "amnesty" itself. A number of lawmakers (e.g. Grassley) who were in favor of 1986's "immigration reform" have opposed the "grand bargain" because of the example of 1986: they say that the US got "legalization" and the promise of enforcement, but, over the next 20 years, the numbers of "illegal immigrants" at least quadrupled (from 3 mil. to at least 12 mil.). Congress and the public felt that, in 1986, the approach of enforcement + legalization had been untried; in 2007, neither Congress nor the public feel the same way.