Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some more reflections on the potential influence of the Hazleton ruling.
In Arizona, debate over what the Hazleton ruling may imply for the state's new employer-sanctions law. The state's AG says that he will "vigorously" defend Arizona's new law.
According to this AHN story, it looks like Sen. Specter (R-PA) is moving on his new immigration proposal:

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) issued a letter Friday to every senator, unveiling a new legislative package designed to win over critics, who stymied White House efforts earlier this year.

Rather than creating a co-called Z-visa, which is seen by many conservatives as giving the nation's approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, Specter is proposing simply removing their fugitive status.

It sounds as though this proposal would offer legalization without a "pathway to citizenship." This measure also, it seems, includes more green cards for "high tech workers."
Specter sounds confident:
Specter said that he is meeting with groups from both sides of the immigration debate and thus far his proposal has garnered a "generally favorable response and, in many cases, an enthusiastic response." "I believe it is possible to enact comprehensive immigration reform in this Congress, perhaps even in this calendar year," he said.
How "comprehensive"--what else could be included in this proposal? We'll also have to see how much support this proposal will muster...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fred Thompson speaks against the Hazleton, PA ruling; Barack Obama speaks in favor of it.
A House official discusses some of the complexities of spending for increased border security.
Part of yesterday's legal decision on Hazleton's enforcement measures focused on the question of how various state powers relate to various federal powers. Krikorian draws attention to a 2002 memo prepared by Jay Bybee (now a US Appeals Court Judge for the 9th Circuit) for then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. This memo has a number of typical Ashcroft themes about the inherent authorities of states vis-a-vis the federal government and attends to how much state governments may enforce immigration laws. There's some legal analysis in this memo that is interesting, but here's the conclusion:
(1) States have inherent power, subject to federal preemption, to make arrests for violations of federal law. (2) Because it is ordinarily unreasonable to assume that Congress intended to deprive the federal government of whatever assistance States may provide in identifying and detaining those who have violated federal law, federal statutes should be presumed not to preempt this arrest authority.
However, this memo has not been, Krikorian says, "formally published," and it's unclear how much influence it may have on upcoming legislative/judicial decisions. And many, including the ACLU, dispute this memo's reasoning and conclusions.
On the campaign trail for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney comments on "illegal immigration" and family reunification:
Romney also called for major immigration reform and suggested that policies that allow the families of children of illegal immigrants born in America to come into the country should be changed.

``I ... don't think it makes sense to have an immigration policy that says that if an illegal couple — a couple that comes across the border illegally — has a child here, that child becomes a U.S. citizen, that then the whole family gets to come in, if you will, through 'chain migration,''' he said.
A Stateline story outlines some of the stakes of yesterday's Hazleton ruling:
Michael M. Hethman, a lawyer who helped write several aggressive anti-immigration laws, said the decision in the Hazleton, Pa. case, if it stands on appeal, would leave little room for states and cities to address immigration.
Hethman, who is general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, said Thursday the “sweeping” ruling also would discourage local and state governments from adopting new immigration-related laws until the legal questions are settled.
But the quarrel over the city's public policy and this ruling isn't over yet. One law professor--who seems an opponent of policies encouraging singular loyalty to the US above other nations and interested in exploring "beyond citizenship" [UPDATE: and he seems an opponent of the Hazleton ordinances, too]-would not be surprised if this ruling were reversed:
Peter J. Spiro, a professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, called the ruling a ''big win'' for the plaintiffs. ''They really couldn't have asked for much more from the district court,'' he said.

Still, Spiro said he would ''not be at all surprised'' if the decision were modified or reversed on appeal.

''This is a very unsettled area,'' he said. ''In the wake of failure of [immigration reform in Congress], I think the courts would be more likely to give jurisdictions a little more leeway to regulate matters related to immigration.''

Hazleton's legal team is optimistic that it will be able to overturn District Judge Munley's ruling on appeal and even felt that the city would lose this first court case:
The ruling did not catch the city by surprise, the mayor and his attorney said.
“It was clear we were not only battling (the plaintiffs in the case), but a hostile court as well,” Kobach said.
Kobach pointed to Munley’s decision to allow 10 plaintiffs in the country illegally to file anonymous depositions rather than testify as an example. He said the decision allowed them to “do things a legal U.S. citizen cannot do.”
“A legal U.S. citizen cannot sue a city and remain anonymous,” Kobach said. “But that is what this judge has allowed in this case.”
Several other decisions in aspects of the case served as notice the city would be an uphill battle, Kobach said.
More on the Hazleton's team's disagreements with the judge's ruling and its hopes for a successful appeal. Kobach, the lawyer for Hazleton, argues that, in certain points, Munley's decision is contradicted by the earlier rulings of other--higher--courts.
Pennsylvania's Patriot News has a roundup of some citizen reactions to the current blocking of the Hazleton immigration regulations.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Meanwhile, some businesses are afraid the Department of Homeland Security will start pursuing some cases of the fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers for employment.
Could Sen. Specter (R-PA) be considering offering another legalization plan--one not allowing the legalized to get citizenship? The Politico reports (H/T Kathryn Jean Lopez):
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he's floating a plan that would grant legal status to the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants, but offer no path to citizenship.

"It might be the equivalent of a green card," Specter said Thursday. "The main thrust is to bring the 12 million out of the shadows," and eliminate the fear of arrest or deportation.

Specter said he's met with Pres. Bush and other Senators. "Grand bargainer" Lindsey Graham's skeptical, but Sen. Kennedy's looking over the proposal.

UPDATE: The Hill has more. Specter says he's ready to go:
Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who accompanied President Bush Thursday on his visit to Pennsylvania, said he has spoken to Bush and the two Cabinet members who have led immigration talks about his new bill. Specter also told reporters that he has spoken to most senators involved in this spring’s failed “grand bargain,” outlining his plan and appealing for a restart to the arduous immigration debate.

“I’m ready to unveil it now,” Specter said. “I’ve got letters to the 100 senators on my desk.”
UPDATE: Specter sounds almost confident about his new proposal:
"I think we can act this year. I think this bill is very close to doable."
How close?
Hazleton, PA measure on "illegal immigrants" has been blocked by a federal judge:
A federal judge on Thursday struck down the city of Hazleton's tough anti-immigration law, which has been emulated by cities around the country.

The Illegal Immigration Relief Act sought to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. Another measure would have required tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.

U.S. District Judge James Munley declared it unconstitutional Thursday and voided it based on evidence and testimony from a nine-day trial held in March.

According to his biography, Judge Munley seems to be a Clinton appointee. The text of the decision is here. Some key parts of the judge's decision (IIRA is Hazleton's "Illegal Immigration Relief Act" and the "RO" is the “Tenant Registration Ordinance”; the "Plaintiffs" are opponents of the measure):
Count I, the Supremacy Clause, we find FOR PLAINTIFFS. Federal
law pre-empts IIRA and RO.
Count II, Due Process, we find FOR PLAINTIFFS. IIRA and RO
violate the procedural due process protections of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Counts III and IV, Equal Protection and the Fair Housing Act, 42
U.S.C. § § 3601, et seq., respectively, are DISMISSED. Neither IIRA nor
RO facially discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.
Count V, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, we find FOR PLAINTIFFS. Illegal aliens
are “persons” under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. IIRA and RO impermissibly burden
their right to contract.
Count VI, Home Rule Charter Law, we find partially FOR
PLAINTIFFS, and we DISMISS partially. We find FOR PLAINTIFFS with
regard to the portion of IIRA which creates a private cause of action for a
dismissed employee. With regard to the other portions of IIRA and RO,
defendant did not act beyond its municipal powers, and we DISMISS that
portion of the count.
Count VII, Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act, 68 PENN. STAT. §§
250.101 et seq is DISMISSED. Neither IIRA nor RO violate the procedural
protections required under the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Count VIII, privacy rights, is DISMISSED. We lack sufficient
evidence to make a determination with regard to plaintiffs’ privacy rights.
Count IX, police powers, we find FOR PLAINTIFFS. Enacting
unconstitutional laws is beyond the defendant’s police powers
So, among other components of this decision, Munley finds that the IIRA and RO violate due process, pre-empt federal law, and unduly interfere with certain rights to contract, and, thus, the police lack the power to enforce these laws. However, Munley does not find that the IIRA or RO discriminate on the basis of race (violate equal protection) or violate privacy rights.

The city of Hazleton says that it will appeal this decision.

[Corrected my summary of what violations Munley found.]
K-Lo has an update from a Senate aide on the $3 billion for border security: it seems like it's back due to some developments on the Senate floor today:

REID: Mr. President, let me just say I'll just take a minute and the Senator from Texas can speak. I told the Senator from South Carolina that I was going to be making a unanimous consent request. I say to my friend from Texas what a difference a night makes.

As you know — as some know, not very many, Senator Cornyn and I, Senator Graham and a few others, we were trying to work something out on this border security and Senator Cornyn and I were the last two to speak on this issue.

And like a lot of things around here, if you don't get your way, you kind of throw a tantrum a lot of times, and I didn't get my way, so I thought I would throw just a little tantrum. And the evening has brought to my attention that I was wrong, and Senator Cornyn was right.

I hate to acknowledge that but that's basically valid.

And so having said that, Mr. President, and swallowing a little bit of pride that I shouldn't have had, I now ask unanimous consent that when the senate resumes consideration of H.R. 2638 today, which will be just in a few minutes, that the time until 11:35 a.m. be for debate with respect to the Graham-Pryor border security amendment, and that has the senator from Texas' language in there.
The aide offers the following language for the measure:
There is hereby appropriated $3,000,000,000 to satisfy the requirements set out in section 1002(a) and, if any amount remains after satisfying such requirements, to achieve and maintain operational control over the international land and maritime borders of the United States, for employment eligibility verification improvements, for increased removal and detention of visa overstays, criminal aliens, aliens who have illegally reentered the United States, and for reimbursement of State and local section 287(g) expenses. These amounts are designated as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 204 of S. Con. Res. 21 (110th Congress).

More details. Reid and Cornyn reached an agreement last night:
As adopted Thursday, the funding would go toward seizing "operational control" over the U.S.-Mexico border with additional Border Patrol agents, vehicle barriers, border fencing and observation towers, plus Cornyn's crackdown on people who overstay their visas.
Senators are confident that they will be able to override a potential White House veto:
The measure is opposed by the White House, top Republicans said, and it clearly puts the president in a box. Bush had already promised a veto of the underlying homeland security bill for spending $2.3 billion more than he requested.

Now, Bush's GOP stalwarts in Congress such as Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., are poised to override the president's veto.

Cornyn predicted the bill would "pass by a veto-proof margin" and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters the bill might get 90 votes in the 100-member Senate.

Graham amendment for funding passes 89-1. Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) was the only dissenting vote.
When the Senate takes up consideration of the farm bill (which the House is now considering), it may also consider adding AgJobs, which could include some legalization program as well as authorizing an increase in immigrant farm workers (though most of the details are being kept pretty close). The Hill reports that Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Craig (R-ID) are attempting to coordinate support for AgJobs and describes some legislative manuevers going on. It could get complicated:
“This is the problem, that they sock it with a bunch of amendments or we have a brouhaha,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who plans to talk this week with immigration bill opponents to see whether they would push back against her evolving strategy.

Idaho Republican Larry Craig, another supporter of the agriculture-jobs measure, expects a vote in September and said the senators could also attempt to attach it to appropriations legislation by including funding for increased border security.
Sen. Harkin is also concerned about what could happen if AgJobs gets to the floor:
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the Agriculture Committee chairman, is cool to the idea for fear that it could jeopardize the farm bill. “With the Senate floor, you never know what kind of amendments will be added,” he said.

The senators have not finalized the exact contents of the agriculture-workers proposal they plan to push, but said it would be a five-year pilot program. In the immigration bill, the plan would have allowed many immigrant workers to become temporary residents based on their past work experience, which in turn would open the door to gain permanent resident status by applying for green cards.
Harkin also voted against cloture on the "grand bargain" last month, so will he want to risk passage of the farm bill for AgJobs?
The current FCC chair says that he doesn't want to re-institute the "Fairness Doctrine." But FCC chairs and FCC commissioners can change with elections; they are appointed by the president.
More on Ramos, Compean: Yesterday, the House agreed (by a voice vote) to adopt an amendment to an appropriations bill that would withhold federal funds for the imprisonment of border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. This measure has not yet been approved by the Senate. FOX News has more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It looks like the Graham amendment for increased border security has been stopped for now. Forbes has some of the details:

It started with an end-run by Republicans to pass some of the most popular elements of President Bush's failed immigration bill, including a plan to increase security along the southern border.

Democrats liked the money but objected to such GOP proposals as allowing law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status and cracking down on those who overstay their visas.

The move put political pressure on Senate Democrats. They killed Sen. Lindsey Graham's plan on a 52-44 procedural vote, but Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., immediately countered with a pared-down proposal containing only the border security funds. Then Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a Bush ally, killed that effort.

Dying with the proposals could be hopes for seizing "operational control" over the U.S.-Mexico border with additional Border Patrol agents, vehicle barriers, border fencing and observation towers.

Looking at the roll call vote to block the Graham amendment, three Republicans voted to block: Cochran (MS), Stevens (AK), and Voinovich (OH). No Democrat voted to continue with the Graham amendment.

Update: More details at the OC Register. Reid's objection to block the amendment:
But in the end, Reid used a procedural maneuver to sideline the Republican amendment as well as his addition to it. He objected to the amendment because its provisions, he said, would be making legislative policy on a spending bill, something the Senate does not do.
The LAT describes the debate as "tart"! It seems as though AgJobs might have come up, but this move was scuttled:
In the midst of the debate, it appeared that AgJobs, a five-year work program for farm workers championed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), might come up. When it was clear that would not happen, the two senators appealed to their colleagues to consider the measure.
Although it also sounds as though Reid is willing to try to bring AgJobs back.

How did Cornyn block Reid's attempt to bring just a $3 bill. bill to the floor? He objected to Reid's offer of a unanimous consent agreement to bring only the funding portion back. The LAT has more on how Sen. Chambliss (R-GA) objects to AgJobs as long as it allows for some pathway to permanent residency. Or so he presently says...

So do some Republicans still hope they can pressure Democrats into accepting a border-security (only) bill? It would seem as though Cornyn's blocking of border security-only funding would be one attempt to put some pressure on some Democrats or at least Reid...

UPDATE 7/26: It looks like the $3 billion funding is back.
More on the Kyl proposal: Kyl, it looks like, is teaming up with Lindsey Graham, a fellow "grand bargainer," and offering this new Border Security First Act:

The Border Security First Act of 2007 requires and provides funding for the following, among other things:

  • Operational control over 100 percent of the U.S.-Mexico land border
  • 23,000 Border Patrol agents hired, trained, and reporting for duty
  • 4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & 105 ground-based radar and camera towers
  • 300 miles of vehicle barriers & 700 miles of border fencing
  • A permanent end to the “catch-and-release” policy with 45,000 detention beds.

The act contains additional border and interior enforcement provisions necessary for stemming the tide of illegal immigration, restricting immigration benefits to lawbreakers, and further protecting the homeland from terrorists and criminals. Examples of these provisions include:

  • Increased Personnel: Requires a total of 14,500 new Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) agents through Fiscal Year 2012 – to approximately 30,000 CBP agents overall – as well as increased hires of new Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for interior and workplace enforcement.
  • Sanctuary Cities: Prohibits cities from banning the obtaining of information on immigration status by their own law enforcement agencies.
  • Operation Jump Start/National Guard: Provides additional funding for Operation Jump Start to maintain a National Guard presence along the Southern border.
  • Criminal Aliens: Strengthens laws to deny immigration benefits to aggravated felons, gang members, terrorists, sex offenders, and child abusers. The bill also expands the Institutional Removal Program and gives DHS the ability to detain criminal aliens for an extended period of time before they can be removed.
  • State and Local Law Enforcement: Gives state and local law enforcement new authorities to detain illegal aliens and transfer them into DHS custody. Moreover, it allows state and local law enforcement authorities to use homeland security grants for 287(g) training and provides funding to cover the costs of detaining and transporting criminal aliens.
  • Visa Overstayers: Requires DHS to detain aliens who willfully overstay their period of authorized admission for more than 60 days.
  • Illegal Reentry: Increases criminal penalties and sets mandatory minimum prison sentences for aliens who have been removed and illegally re-enter our country.
  • Expedited Removal: Restricts the impact of outdated court injunctions that currently prevent DHS from certain illegal immigrants into expedited removal and returning them to their country of origin as soon as circumstances allow.
  • US-VISIT and Entry Inspection: Clarifies DHS’s authority to collect biometric entry and exit data at U.S. ports of entry, as well as requires the Department to provide Congress a timeline for implementing US-VISIT at all land border points of entry.
  • Employment Eligibility Verification: Requires DHS to enhance the Basic Pilot Program to help facilitate broader use by employers as well as improved accuracy and efficiency.
  • Liability Protection for Reporting Suspicious Threats: Grants civil liability protection to those who report possible threats to our nation’s transportation system.

Other Republican Senators are backing this measure as well.

According to Graham's press release, this measure is also being offered as an amendment to a Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Graham lists the following senators as cosponsors of the measure: Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and John Sununu (R-NH).

Could this measure be one way to attempt to reconcile the "grand bargainers" (e.g. Graham, Kyl, McCain, and Martinez) and opponents of the "bargain" (e.g. Sessions and Sununu)? This measure also gives McConnell an opening to reconcile himself with both sides of the Republican caucus over immigration. It also may help Graham with Republicans back in South Carolina who were alienated over his support of the "bargain."

Will it get any Democratic backing? Will it get to a vote? If it does come to the floor as a bill, could we see any amendments on it?

UPDATE: But will Bush veto a Homeland Security bill that has this measure attached to it? According to CQ, the administration has already threatened to veto the Senate HS bill because it's $2.3 billion over the president's requested budget. Furthermore, Sen. Gregg says that the administration opposes this "border security first" measure.
Senate Democratic leadership seems skeptical, too, according to FOX (e.a.):

Democrats had supported that move — an infusion of $4.4 billion in mandatory funding — as a way of drawing broader backing for the compromise bill.

But it also includes several provisions that Democrats said went too far, such as allowing law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status, cracking down harshly on people who overstay their visas, and imposing mandatory prison sentences on illegal border crossers.

For their part, Senate Democrats mulled their options on the GOP plan, which requires 60 votes to pass the 100-member Senate since it would be financed through additional debt. Democrats didn't immediately signal a willingness to kill the plan outright.

"On first glance, there's some stuff in this proposal we can support, but much of it also appears to be pretty objectionable," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

One option under consideration is a Democratic countermeasure that would blend border security funding with bipartisan provisions to allow more foreign agricultural workers into the United States and to permit some immigrants who have grown up in the U.S. to become citizens if they go to college or serve in the military.

A DREAM Act/AgJOBS/border security-funding compromise? A "grand bargain" in miniature?

UPDATE: It looks like the Graham amendment has been blocked for now.

UPDATE 7/26: It looks like the $3 billion funding is back.
Sen. Kyl (R-AZ), one of the architects of the "grand bargain," may have another immigration bill in the works--one that focuses (or seems to focus) on enforcement:
The new legislation will offer a selection of immigration enforcement options that were identified during and after debate surrounding the failed immigration reform bill, Kyl said.

“It will be kind of a menu of all the kinds of things you can pick from if you wanted to do enforcement first. I think we need to change some laws in that regard,” Kyl said Monday during an interview on radio station KTAR-FM 92.3.

Kyl did not elaborate on his p lans during the interview. Later, through a spokesman, he declined an interview with the Tribune because the language of the new bill has yet to be finalized.
We'll have to see how the language of this measure turns out...and if the proposal will make it to the floor...Kyl plans to introduce it before August 4.
The Economic Mobility Project has released a new report on the wages of first- and second-generation immigrants. According to this report, wages of first-gen immigrants have fallen significantly compared to non-immigrants: in 1940, the average 1st-gen immigrant made 6% more than the average non-immigrant (and 1.4% more in 1970), but, by 2000, the average 1st-gen immigrant made 20% less than the average non-immigrant. While 2nd-gen immigrants still tend to make more (6.3%) than non-immigrants, they used to make significantly more (14.6% more in 1970). The full report is here. The WSJ offers some more analysis.
An organization of police chiefs considers the possibility of a "consistent" approach for law enforcement to immigration.
In Virginia, a statewide task force urges the state to "adopt a uniform, statewide policy on dealing with illegal aliens" but also says that it wants a "better understanding of federal law, costs and immigration statistics before making a final decision."
Even as Sen. Obama (D-IL) pledges to "get [comprehensive immigration reform] done" in his first term as president, Rep. Emanuel (IL), chair of the House Democratic Caucus and one of the leaders of 2006's successful Democratic effort to regain control of Congress, says that Democrats will not support "comprehensive immigration reform" until the second term of a Democratic presidency. This has disappointed some, but proponents of "comprehensive immigration reform" may take heart from this: a president might be able to persuade a chair of the House Democratic Caucus to go along and back immigration reform. And certainly pressure is (and would be) on Emanuel...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Based on this Washington Post story, it looks like the "John Doe" amendment may have made it into the Homeland Security conference report:
The last obstacle was cleared when negotiators crafted language to satisfy a Republican demand giving immunity from lawsuits to people who report suspicious behavior.
One wonders how this language reads...and how this matter was ultimately resolved...who ultimately backed what...

UPDATE: Based on this NY Sun story, Rep. Pete King (R-NY) and Minority Leader Boehner are preparing an announcement for Wednesday:

The House Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, and Rep. Peter King, a Republican of Long Island, said last night that they had reached agreement to include what has become known as the "John Doe" amendment in the final version of a major homeland security bill to implement the recommendations of the commission established to investigate the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The bill is currently in a House-Senate conference committee, and a deal will be announced today.

But are there any trade-offs for this "deal"? We'll see tomorrow, I guess.

UPDATE 7/25: FOX News has more (H/T Hot Air). King and Boehner sound happy:

"This is a huge win — a hard-fought victory for House Republicans and, more importantly, for the American people," King said.

"In a post-9/11 reality, vigilance is essential to security. Despite the Democratic opposition to this important homeland security measure, I’m thrilled to announce that common sense has prevailed and heroic Americans who report suspicious activity will be protected from frivolous lawsuits. The American people were heard and our country is safer because of it."

Added Boehner: "I’m pleased that Democratic leaders finally decided to do the right thing and agreed with Republicans that we should be encouraging Americans to report potential terrorist activity to the proper authorities."

Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) also seemed instrumental in keeping this provision. While there still seems to be some level of uncertainty about the language of this measure, the FOX story does say that
House Democrats, led by Mississippi's Bennie Thompson, sought changes in the immunity language but ultimately were overwhelmed by the Lieberman-GOP coalition on the conference committee.
So does that mean that no changes were made to language of the amendment?

UPDATE 7/25: CQ has more of the details of the measure:
A Republican aide to the House Homeland Security Committee said compromise language on the measure would give civil immunity to “good-faith” informants of terrorist activity, using the definition of such activity contained in a House bill (HR 2291) introduced May 14.

King had said that Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., House Homeland Security Committee chairman, wanted to apply the provision only to federal claims, excluding claims in state and local courts. Republican aides said that the compromise language would apply to local, state and federal courts.

The liability shield would be retroactive to November 2006, which is when the incident in Minneapolis occurred.

UPDATE 7/25: Some specifics on the language of the amendment via the Washington Times:
"Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, makes or causes to be made, a voluntary report of covered activity to an authorized official shall be immune from civil liability under federal, state and local law for such report," the conference language says.
While many news stories have emphasized possible Republican defections from the president's policy in Iraq, a Hill story brings out a potential dissenter from the Democratic caucus (and its seeming support of a forced-deadline withdrawal)--Sen. Pryor (D-AR).
Pryor’s matchmaking set up an alliance between Salazar, an ally of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Alexander, a confidant of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), that upended both parties’ Iraq messages. Both leaders are eager to define opponents by their support for withdrawal schedules, but Pryor believes they are missing the mark.

“What I think is better about this approach than what’s going on the floor is the [Iraq Study Group] bill was never designed to just be a timetable,” Pryor said. “A timetable, in my view — and I hate to say this, and I don’t mean to say this in a negative way against my colleagues — is an over-simplistic approach to a very complicated problem.” [e.a.]
In March, according to The Hill, Pryor was the only Democrat to vote against a measure setting a binding timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. For his part, Reid still sounds skeptical about the Pryor-Salazar-Alexander amendment urging the implementation of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations, and it's unknown whether the measure will get a vote.
An interesting CQ story about the use of the Basic Pilot program (the Employment Eligibility Verification System) to check the immigration status of employees. Currently, for the federal government, in addition to House and Senate offices and committees, only the "Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services headquarters and field offices, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Federal Protective Services in Philadelphia, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Police in Montrose, N.Y." use the Pilot program.
But that could maybe change (e.a.):

James Jay Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview that DHS is likely to require federal employees and contractors to use EEVS. “That’s probably going to happen. . . . I’ve been told that’s in the works and could well be coming down the pike,” he said.

Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, said in an interview that the president could issue an executive order that federal contractors use EEVS, and federal employers could be required to as well, although contractors are far more likely than the federal government to have hired an illegal worker.

It seems as though the Department of Homeland Security has been instructed to see if it could issue such an order...There seem to be some rumors going around about the possibility of this policy being put in place--or at least maybe some investigation into it. Any readers have any more info.? Is this some policy being seriously considered, and/or is the administration trying to win some support by looking like it might support more immigration "enforcement"?
Al Sharpton and Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott call for a revival of the "grand bargain."
The WSJ interviews Speaker Pelosi. Her opinion on immigration legislation? She'd still like something "comprehensive":
Ms. Pelosi said she was not prepared to say yet if she would move AgJOBS bill for farm workers in the wake of the collapse of immigration legislation in the Senate.

“I would still like to see comprehensive, bipartisan legislation and some of these are engines to help bring other pieces of the bill forward…I am still hopeful we can have comprehensive.”

John Hawkins has posted an interview with Sen. DeMint (R-SC), one of the leading critics of the "grand bargain" immigration bill. DeMint names 5 R's as early opponents of the "bargain": himself, Coburn, Cornyn, Sessions, and Vitter. He also praises Dole and Bunning as opponents of the bill. DeMint's skeptical about some of the piecemeal immigration measures (e.g. the DREAM Act). He offers some analysis of the reasons for the seeming collapse of the "grand bargain":

John Hawkins: Now let me ask you: they went through this whole rigmarole with the clay pigeon strategy. I was shocked that so many Republicans were willing to go along with that because it set such an incredibly negative precedent, where you've got the Republican leadership and Democratic leadership getting together to roll Republicans....

Jim DeMint: I think there's no question about it, that was a bad precedent. I was surprised that some of our folks were willing to go along with that, but the fact is that the clay pigeon is what actually killed the thing before it was over. ...Trying to use a procedure like the clay pigeon backed them in a corner that they couldn't get out of and it allowed us to stop them from passing amendments that people wanted for cover. That's really what it came down to. They wanted to pass some amendments that made it look like they were tough. But, when we didn't let them pass those amendments, they were exposed and they ended up having to vote against the bill.

John Hawkins: Now let me ask you -- I think I know the answer to this but, I'd love to hear it from you and I think my readers would, too -- why do you think so many Republicans supported a bill that seemed so obviously to be wildly unpopular?

Jim DeMint: Well, ...I think a lot of Republicans...tried to solve a problem and they were thinking in the beginning that we could get good enforcement and workplace verification in return for giving Kennedy his amnesty...and they were going to have fines and penalties so it didn't look like amnesty. So, I think they thought Americans might buy that and I don't think anyone had guessed that Americans would respond so strongly because last year, the Senate passed a bill that was worse with not nearly the public response.

But, I think what's happened is that it's more than immigration. This was a lack of trust of government and it has grown. It has grown because of Katrina, it has grown because of the war in Iraq, it has grown because we said we were going to build a fence and protect our border and we didn't do it. So, people just were not going to be taken again and they made their opinions known and I just think a lot of (senators) who got on this ship had no idea it had such a big hole in the bottom, because the ship was going down fast (laughs).

The AP reports that the "John Doe" provision is the only remaining significant point of contention for the conference committee on the latest Homeland Security measure (H/T Hot Air).
An organizer of previous immigration marches calls for a "boycott" in Arizona due to the state's passage of the new employee-verification law.
It seems that, starting August 1st, individuals who receive MaineCare benefits will have to prove their legal residency.
Starting today, New Haven, CT is offering ID cards to all residents--regardless of immigration status. For example, a library card or a rental agreement is enough to show "proof of residency" according to the city's sheet of ID requirements. According to this report, 50 people signed up yesterday in advance of the official start of the program today. The city's website has more information on this proposal. Meanwhile, New York City may be considering a similar ID card program.
A federal analyst says that the current Basic Pilot Program for employee verification can handle the increase in immigration status checks due to Arizona's new law that would require businesses to check the legality of their hires through the Basic Pilot Program. And the "grand bargain" may be one reason why the federal system can handle this increase:
Michael Mayhew, who works for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, acknowledged the system, which verifies whether someone can legally work in this country, handled nearly 2 million inquiries last fiscal year from more than 19,000 companies. By contrast, there are an estimated 130,000 firms in Arizona that will be required to use the federal database beginning next year.

But Mayhew, who demonstrated the program Monday to business lobbyists — part of an effort by House Speaker Jim Weiers to defuse opposition to the new employer sanctions law — said that should not be a problem.

“We have been planning for the past six months for the federal legislation to pass,” he said, referring to the now-failed Senate immigration proposal.

That included a provision for all 7 million companies nationwide to use the system. And he figured they would make up to 75 million queries a year.

“So the idea of 130,000 employers in Arizona signing up is something the system can handle,” Mayhew said.
Mayhew says the error rate for this system is very low.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Washington Post-ABC News poll was released today. The WaPo summary is here. However, an interesting detail in the full polling report:

14. Do you support or oppose legislation that would set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next spring?

            Support     Oppose     No opinion
7/21/07 55 43 2

15. (IF SUPPORT, Q14) What if setting a deadline for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq (ITEM)? In that case would you support or oppose setting a deadline?

7/21/07 - Summary Table

                                     Support     Oppose     No opinion
a. increased the chance of Iraq going
into a full-scale civil war 65 32 2
b. increased the chance that Al Qaeda
could establish terrorist bases in Iraq 60 38 3
So, based on the Q15 summary table, which certain browsers might have some trouble seeing, 32% of those who support withdrawal would oppose it if it led to an "increased..chance of Iraq going into a full-scale civil war" and 38% of those who support withdrawal would oppose it if it lead to an "increased...chance that Al Qaeda could establish terrorist bases in Iraq."

Thus, while 55% of Americans support a forced timetable in the abstract (according to this poll), only 36% (55 x .65) would back a deadline-withdrawal if it heightened the risk of a civil war, and only 33% (55 x .60) would back a deadline-withdrawal if such a withdrawal increased the likelihood of Al Qaeda forming terrorist bases in Iraq. (This poll doesn't say how many would support a deadline-withdrawal if they believed it could increase the chance of both a civil war and increased terrorist bases.) So this poll might suggest that, in addition to reporting concrete advances in Iraq, the president might improve his chances of gaining public support for staying in Iraq by convincing Americans that a deadline-based withdrawal would lead to an increased chance of civil war and terrorist bases in Iraq. Of course, some argue that we are exacerbating both risks by being in Iraq (and some seem to back leaving Iraq even if this withdrawal does lead to civil war or genocide), so maybe withdrawal might not, in fact, increase those risks (and, even if Bush could establish the risks as likely, some would still not be convinced to stay). Just a point of political analysis...
In Georgia, a road-building company will not bid on contracts in a county that now conducts immigration checks on the employees of county contractors.
Sen. Chambliss (R-GA) still supports some "immigration reform"--including "guest workers" and more "border security"--but he doesn't think the White House is currently moving on the latter (e.a.):
"The fact is we have still got the problem, and we've got to figure out a way to deal with it," Chambliss said, adding that he had been speaking with the White House on the issue as recently as this morning.

Chambliss believes the first step should be for the White House to include in its supplemental budget request a plan for a modern border security system. So far, he hasn't seen positive movement from the administration on the border security funding issue, but he said he hopes that will soon change.

The "John Doe" amendment protecting citizens who report suspicious activity from civil lawsuits may not yet be dead--due, in part, to bloggy criticism of the attempt to block it. Or so the Washington Times reports (H/T Malkin):
"Democrats have been backed into a corner by public outrage over their efforts, so we are seeing these Democrats publicly say they support it in principle, but behind the scenes they are working to kill it," said one Republican leadership aide close to the conference process.

There are powerful Democrats in the House and Senate trying to kill this provision, the aide said.

Keeping the pressure on to include the provision are Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the committee's ranking member, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine whose efforts last week fell three votes short of passing the provision to an education bill, and Rep. Pete King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee and an author of the provision.

Some Republican aides are attributing the mounting pressure to support the provision to press reports and the blogosphere, where bloggers turned bloggyists are posting phone numbers of Democrat congressional leaders and urging readers to call in with their support.

One wonders who some of these "powerful Democrats" are...It seems as though Rep. Bernie Thompson opposes the measure because he fears it will lead to "racial profiling," but who else could be opposing it behind the scenes?
An interesting poll (e.a.):
a new poll released today shows that a candidate's position on education will have a greater impact on Latino voters than their position on any other issue -- including immigration and health care -- and that Latinos are nearly unanimous that improving public education should be a "very important priority" for the next president.
The mayor of Las Vegas ponders putting forward a $5 permit for those who want to hire "day laborers."
Novak speculates on some interesting earmark maneuvering behind the scenes:
Reid is plotting to strip anti-earmark transparency from the final version of ethics legislation passed by the Senate and House, with tacit support from Republican senators and the GOP leadership.
From all Republican senators? Only some? Will Democratic senators back this? Novak also suggests that Speaker Pelosi may be collaborating with Reid in blocking some "transparency" measures...
At the annual La Raza convention, some interesting remarks from Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Obama (D-IL). The WaPo reports that (e.a.)

Both candidates promised to push for comprehensive immigration reform during their first year in office. Both stressed their support for legislation to help qualified high school graduates here illegally to attend college and eventually earn U.S. residency.

Clinton said she believed both that bill and one to create a path to citizenship for farmworkers still had a chance to pass the current Congress.

So the DREAM Act and AgJOBS still seem in play.

The Washington Times has more details about the particulars of their remarks. It seems Sen. Obama didn't care for much of the debate over the "grand bargain" (e.a.):
"Find out how many senators appeared before an immigration rally last year. Who was talking the talk, and who walked the walk — because I walked," Mr. Obama said at the National Council of La Raza's annual convention in Miami Beach. "I didn't run away from the issue, and I didn't just talk about it in front of Latino audiences."

The Illinois Democrat said the recent Senate immigration debate "was both ugly and racist in a way we haven't see since the struggle for civil rights."

Sen. Clinton also wasn't very happy with the "tone" of the debate (or at lest the opposition) and blames this tone on--what else!--the "poor economy":

"I am very disappointed, and I was really quite offended by the tone of the debate and some of what was said by outside parties who were trying to influence the debate," she said.

She blamed the tone on what she called a poor economy under President Bush.

"Until recently, I did not hear the kind of insecurity and opposition to bringing immigrants into American society as I hear today," she said, adding that when her husband was in office, "people were too busy getting a better future for themselves."

"They didn't talk to me about what was or wasn't on their minds about immigration," she said.

Both said they would back "grand bargain"-like legislation if they become president, though Sen. Obama sounded a little more supportive:
Mr. Obama was the most forceful, promising "in my first term we will make this a priority and get this done." Mrs. Clinton said she couldn't predict an outcome, but would "promise my best efforts."
Sen. Clinton also did not promise that she would end large-scale immigration raids if she became president.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The NYT reports: In the wake of New Haven, CT passing a measure that would allow "illegal immigrants" to get ID cards for the city, an immigration raid operation complicates things.
In an interesting Capitol Briefing column offering some winners (Reid, McConnell, and Kerry) and losers (McCain, Vitter, and Petraeus) of last week's congressional debate, Paul Cane makes a provocative claim:
Capitol Briefing has long believed the Iraq war is not as popular among conservatives as the polls show. With the war support number almost always mirroring Bush's own approval rating, Capitol Briefing believes that conservatives tell pollsters they support the war only out of deference to Bush.
"Conservatives" certainly showed a lot of deference to the president over the "grand bargain"! Couldn't one also flip the cause-and-effect chain? By that theory, when individuals feel more optimistic/approving of the war, might they not also feel more likely to approve of the job Bush is doing? Certainly, when looking around the "right" sections of the blogosphere during the middle of the debate over the "grand bargain," it seemed as though a lot of individuals who were otherwise alienated from Bush tried to defend the president by saying that, from their perspective, at least he was "right" on judges and the War on Terror/Iraq--so some at least seem to believe in his Iraq policy (or at least believe in it more than some of the alternatives). Of course, a lot of "conservatives" may still be unhappy with present Iraq policy....and there is perhaps a possibility that, if Bush alienates too much of his "base" on other issues, they will have less trust in him about Iraq.

Cane's summary of how McConnell may have won in last week's debate--how his various tactical moves may have united the Republican caucus behind him and helped bind up his relations with fellow Republicans after a troublesome "grand bargain" debate--is also interesting. Certainly, McConnell's performance last week has won him some plaudits in certain portions of the blogosphere.
In Massachusetts, some state legislators propose a new name for the ballot: None of the Above:

The measure, pending before the Legislature, would add the line "None of the Above; For a New Election" to every state and local race on the ballot. If that option won the most votes, another election would be held in 60 to 80 days, and other candidates would be allowed to run.

Supporters of the legislation say that the idea has gotten "little traction" so far....
(H/T Political Wire)
Via WaPo, the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, has asked Pres. Bush to grant US visas to all Iraqis employed by the US government. The story also has some other comments on Iraq-refugee policy.
Sen. Corker (R-TN) cosponsors the "Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007," a measure that would prevent the FCC from re-instituting the "Fairness Doctrine." There are currently 33 cosponsors of the bill.