Saturday, August 11, 2007

In a story speculating about some of the economic effects of these new rules, the LAT offers a history of their creation:
Administration officials began meeting to discuss these steps in June, immediately after the Senate failed to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. The White House presided over sessions that included the Departments of State, Labor, Commerce, Homeland Security and Education. Officials from Treasury and the Social Security Administration also took part.

Chertoff said the administration held off on implementing these measures in the hope that a legislative overhaul would provide a tougher arsenal. "We looked at these programs late last year, early this year, and we thought, 'You know, this is kind of a half-measure. Wouldn't it be better to get the full measure and the sharpest, newest tools if Congress passes them and gives it to us?' " he said.
So can we attribute these new rules to the seeming failure of the "grand bargain"? Could these new rules be a way of gaining support for a revival of "comprehensive immigration reform"? Chertoff thinks so:
Chertoff suggested that once the provisions had been in force for a while, Congress would see immigration reform in a different light.

"Everybody who criticized comprehensive immigration reform for being too complex, maybe now they're going to realize it's complex because there are a lot of interconnected pieces to this and when you try to deal with only one corner of it, you wind up with a huge impact on something else," he said.

"I would still like to believe Congress is capable of doing big things and not just producing bumper-sticker solutions to problems. I haven't given up yet."
So could this be the first step of a wider effort? According to some reports, Specter and Bush have spoken about Specter's new immigration proposal. Could they be coordinating strategy? (Probably a random question--but maybe still worth asking.) Is there some other plan afoot?
An interesting possible division between Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA):
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein predicted a "catastrophe" in the state's $32 billion agriculture industry as the new rules become effective with the fall harvest. But the proposal met no opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who issued a statement saying, "Securing our border remains a top priority for the New Direction Congress."
Georgia senators Chambliss and Isakson also support the president's new "rule" changes for employer verification, but they also want an emergency supplemental measure to fund increased border security measures. An interesting point in their remarks (e.a.):
“This news is certainly encouraging, and I am pleased the many, many months of dialogue and concerns expressed by countless Georgians are resonating with the administration,” said Chambliss. “The Southern border of this country has been an open sieve for far too long and while today’s announcement is a good step, we believe an emergency supplemental spending bill is the best solution to ensuring border security. Johnny Isakson came up with the idea for the trigger, and I am pleased the administration has recognized the importance of this border security first concept in their announcement. Only when the border is secure will credibility be restored with the American people, and we’re going to continue to press this issue.["]
Which issue? Increased enforcement? "Comprehensive immigration reform"? Chambliss also likes the notion of "reforming" the H-2A visa program--but what are the details of this "reform"?
The WSJ has an interesting story on occasional tensions between native Quebeckers and French immigrants:

However the Quebec dream can sometimes turn into a nightmare. Every year hundreds of these immigrants return home to France with the bitter aftertaste of failure.

The exact number of returning immigrants is the object of fierce debate. The Delegation of Quebec in France, the organization in charge of recruiting immigrants, claims that 18% to 20% will be back within five years. The demographer Marc Termotte, however, argues that these figures are wide of the mark. "One out of every two French people who decide to settle in Quebec will go back to France within eight years of their immigration," says this professor from the University of Montreal, who based his study on census statistics.

This story speculates that these immigrants may return to their native France in part because of economic and social differences. On employment and (especially) health care issues, some sound very dissatisfied:

A Frenchman who has been living in Quebec for 11 years but now plans to leave, Yann complains among other things that he was not made aware of the appalling quality of health care. "Sometimes you have to wait a whole day to see a doctor. Patients even have to wait on stretchers in the corridors, resources are so limited," he explains.

Other bones of contention are the education system that he claims is run by incompetent teachers and a labor market that is hostile to immigrants. His main complaint, however, is the difficulty of achieving recognized professional status. The province has a large number of protected or regulated professions: doctors, engineers, dentists, accountants, architects etc. "In order to join their ranks, a number of professionals who were already practicing in France find themselves having to retake exams, attend classes or sometimes even retrain completely," Yann says.

This story also has more on some of the cultural differences between France and Quebec.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Hill doesn't sound very optimistic about the future of "comprehensive immigration reform":
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday the administration has to be “realistic about what this Congress is going to be willing to do” with regard to comprehensive immigration reform, all but pronouncing chances for a bill dead.
“I think that the leaders in Congress have decided that this is not something that they’re going to take up,” Perino told reporters. “And so I think the president, while he would like to have seen comprehensive immigration reform, does not believe that the Congress will be able to get that done.”
But some are skeptical about this declaration (e.a.):
“Perhaps it’s my previous experience with this administration that is making me hesitant to jump for joy, but it seems to me that many of these tough-on-illegal-alien programs have existed for some time, and this may simply be cover for the White House to bring back their amnesty push next year,” Tancredo said.
So is "comprehensive reform" still napping? Due to be revived under another name? After all, when the first cloture vote on the "grand bargain" failed early in June, a lot of folks called that legislation dead--and, as we all know, it came back later that month.

UPDATE: Some agree with Tancredo's suspicions. The Chicago Tribune writes (e.a.):
As conservatives gave cautious praise to the plans while unions, business groups and immigrant advocates predicted massive layoffs and other heartaches, both sides wondered whether the vise on the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants is intentionally being tightened to make more friendly measures easier to pass when Congress returns from its summer recess.

"If they're trying to make another effort at amnesty in the fall, then this is a pretty smart thing they're doing," said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a Virginia-based organization that helped engineer a fierce grass-roots campaign in June to defeat a bipartisan Senate bill that would have offered legalization to undocumented immigrants.
The Politico has more reactions.
House Minority Leader Boehner praises the administration's new immigration rules, but Sen. Grassley (R-IA) wants to see some results:

“The American people want our borders secure and our laws enforced and the Administration should be commended for taking additional steps to achieve those goals,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). “First and foremost, Republicans believe our efforts must start with strong border security and interior enforcement and today’s news are positive steps in the right direction.”

However, some Republicans were cautious with regard to the new initiatives on immigration, an issue in which the GOP base has split with its president.

While I appreciate today’s announcement, the Administration can talk until they’re blue in the face about proposed reforms to improve our immigration system,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.). “I won’t be happy until I see action that’s more than just a press conference and words on a piece of paper.”
A press release on the new rules proposed by the administration.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rep. Pence (R-IN) continues to press against the "fairness doctrine." And he cites some past history:
As a candidate back in 1988, Bush's father threatened a similar veto after President Reagan had had to veto one fairness doctrine reimposition bill and threatened a second to keep the doctrine off the books.
Will any present presidential candidates promise a similar veto if he or she becomes president?

In terms of Pence's "Broadcaster Freedom Act," he says that "every Republican member of Congress and one Democrat--he did not identify the Dem--have co-sponsored the bill." Now, a number of Democrats voted to keep the FCC from re-instituting the "fairness doctrine" for the next financial year; is there any reason why only one has become a co-sponsor of this legislation? Do that many representatives only want the FCC not to re-institute the "fairness doctrine" next year--but don't mind if it re-institutes it some other year? Has Democratic leadership discouraged people from supporting this legislation? Or is there some other tactical reason for this? Will more be co-sponsoring soon?

Pence hopes to keep this issue alive:
Pence said that when Congress returns, he will try to bring the bill to the floor using "every tool in the box." Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) twice tried to introduce the act as an amendment to bills in the Senate, but was unsuccessful.
UPDATE 8/10: Pence identifies his sole Democratic co-sponsor: John Yarmuth from Kentucky
The AP has more on the new worker verification rules due to be announced tomorrow:

An outline of the announcement, obtained by The Associated Press from a congressional aide, said the administration plans to expand the list of international gangs whose members are automatically denied admission to the U.S., reduce processing times for immigrant background checks and install by the end of the year an exit system so the departure of foreigners from the country can be recorded at airports and seaports.

In addition, employers will face possible criminal sanctions if they don't fire employees unable to clear up problems with their Social Security numbers.

Also, the Homeland Security Department will ask states to voluntarily share their driver's license photos and records with the agency for use in an employment verification system. The sharing is meant to help employers detect fraudulent licenses, according to the summary.

A press conference on these rules is expected on Friday.

UPDATE: And the Politico has more. It lists some other qualities of the changes:
As part of the new measures, the secretary of Homeland Security will deliver regular “State of the Border” reports beginning this fall.

In one of the most interesting revelations, the plans call for the administration to “train growing numbers of state and local law enforcement officers to identify and detain immigration offenders whom they encounter in the course of daily law enforcement,” according to a summary provided to The Politico by a congressional source.

“By this fall, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will have quintupled the number of enforcement teams devoted to removing fugitive aliens (from 15 to 75 in less than three years),” the summary says.
More on worker verification:
Employers will face tough new scrutiny and requirements. “There are now 29 categories of documents that employers must accept to establish identity and work eligibility among their workers,” the summary says. “The Department of Homeland Security will reduce that number and weed out the most insecure.”

“The Department of Homeland Security will raise the civil fines imposed on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants by approximately 25 percent,” the summary continues. “The administration will continue its aggressive expansion of criminal investigations against employers who knowingly hire large numbers of illegal aliens.”
There are some other interesting elements dealing with "guest workers":
—The Department of Labor will reform the H-2A agriculture worker program so farmers can readily hire legal temporary workers, while protecting their rights.

—The Department of Labor will issue regulations streamlining the H-2B program for non-agricultural seasonal workers.

—The Department of Homeland Security will extend, from one year to three, the length of the NAFTA-created TN visa for professional workers from Canada and Mexico, removing the administrative hassle of annual renewals for these talented workers.
We'll have to see what these changes might mean. The press conference announcing this package is scheduled for 10:30 am EST tomorrow.
Even as Mitt Romney attacks Rudy Giuliani for supporting "sanctuary city" policies when Giuliani was mayor of New York City (Giuliani disagrees with this characterization--though ABC News posts some statements from his time as mayor that may trouble this disagreement), Tom Tancredo attacks Romney as supporting "amnesty."
Some reports suggest a drop in foreign remittances--particularly in states with less established Latin American (and Mexican) immigrant communities:
A significantly lower percentage of Mexican migrants are sending money to their homeland from the United States than last year, according to the results of a survey released today by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).

The percentage of Mexicans who regularly make remittances fell to 64% in the first half of 2007, down from 71% last year. The drop was the steepest in states where Latin American immigration is most recent, like Georgia, North Carolina or Pennsylvania. In “new destination” states the percentage plunged to 56% this year from an average 80% in 2006.

States that have long had large Hispanic communities, such as California, Texas, Florida and New York, have not seen similar falls. In “traditional destination” states the percentage of Mexicans who regularly send money home slipped to 66% from 68% over the same period.

And some think that fears of increased immigration enforcement may be part of the reason for this decline:
Bendixen says this group of Mexicans faces difficulties that have made them less optimistic, such as the lack of well-paying jobs, education and proficiency in English, as well as difficulty getting immigration documents.

He also suggested that immigrants might be saving more money instead of sending it abroad because they feel uncertainty about their future.

About half of the 900 immigrants, Mexican and Central American, interviewed for the survey were illegal immigrants, he added.

"They just don't feel welcome in the United States any longer," Bendixen said.
The US Chamber of Commerce has now joined the lawsuit attempting to stop Arizona's new employer sanctions law. In addition to Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform and the Arizona Contractors Association, other groups supporting this lawsuit include:
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Wake Up Arizona! Inc., which includes former Phoenix Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo; Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association; Associated Minority Contractors of America, based in state; Arizona Roofing Contractors Association; National Roofing Contractors Association, based in Illinois; and the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association.
Gov. Napolitano (D) says that this new law is constitutional and the press secretary for the AZ attorney general says that they will defend this law "aggressively."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The AP reports on the responsibilities of Border Patrol agents to fix the holes cut into border fencing:
Every day, Eddie Lujan and fellow members of his Border Patrol welding team go out and fix holes cut in a 12-mile border fence the night before by illegal immigrants sneaking across from Mexico.

Then he and the others get up the next day and do it all over again.

The Weekly Standard (while offering some interesting analysis on its implications) posts a video of a CNN interview with Sen. Durbin and Sen. Casey in which both say that the "surge" in Iraq demonstrates military progress (but express doubts about the political progress on the ground). In this video, Sen. Durbin says that the "surge" has troops going into areas where they haven't operated for years--and rounding up al Qaeda. Could this be a signal of a shift in Democratic policy for Iraq?
As proponents of forced withdrawal from Iraq quarrel in the House, activists supporting forced withdrawal also seem to be suffering some divisions.
As the Politico outlines the conflict:

The two approaches clashed vividly last week in a behind-the-scenes battle among House Democrats over a measure sponsored by Abercrombie, backed by some liberals and many moderates, requiring Bush to report on the status of an Iraq plan. The measure was poised to win the support of many Republicans -- until Woolsey and her allies stopped it cold.

The weeklong legislative tussle underscored the difficulty anti-war forces face in agreeing on political strategy -- a problem that threatens to hamstring Democrats when they return in September and face a series of confrontations with Bush over Iraq.

Woolsey feared that any measure which allowed Republicans to argue that they were holding the administration's feet to the fire -- without actually imposing policy changes -- could be worse than nothing.

"I don't want legislation that takes us backward," Woolsey said, noting that the House had passed a bill several weeks ago calling for a complete redeployment of combat troops by April 1, 2008. "While we're standing here, our troops are dying, and we're not moving the ball forward to bring them home."

Abercrombie argued that his approach would have demonstrated that the anti-war movement is not just a partisan cause.

"We attracted the overwhelming majority of Republicans to go with us, which is the most powerful element working in this right now," Abercrombie said. "If you keep passing bills on issues that have a bare majority, then it becomes Democrats versus Republicans and people make up their own minds as to who is really participating and who isn't."

The game of chicken (no half-way measures) vs. the game of consensus.
The Washington Times reports that some Republicans--including Newt Gingrich and declared presidential candidates Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee--are skeptical of Sen. Specter's new immigration proposal. It doesn't include any words from any current senators, however. And some sound more supportive of Sen. Specter's proposal--including the chair of the Michigan Republican Party:

Allowing illegals to remain in the country is different than granting them citizenship, said Saulius "Saul" Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

"My principal objection is giving amnesty and citizenship to someone whose first act in the United States is to break the law," he said. "I would not oppose a system to legalize them and give them a different status to work and pay taxes here ... but no citizenship."

Sec. Chertoff says that he will increase immigration enforcement:
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a national gathering of state lawmakers today that he would ratchet up enforcement of immigration laws, including at the workplace, in lieu of comprehensive immigration reform.


We shouldn’t have a patchwork of laws. We should be doing a comprehensive federal solution, but we haven’t got that thing done,” he said. “What I can tell you is we will certainly use every enforcement tool that we have, and every resource that we have available, to tackle the problem.”

Chertoff, both in his speech and in a brief interview with The Associated Press, did not offer specifics of what he called “tool sharpening.”

“We are currently looking at all of the tools that we have, without congressional action,” he told The AP. “We’re going to see where we can sharpen some of those tools up. We’re going to throw everything that we have on the federal side into this issue of trying to address our immigration problem.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The NYT reports that some "new rules" may be coming down:

In a new effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, federal authorities are expected to announce tough rules this week that would require employers to fire workers who use false Social Security numbers.

Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants.

How these rules would work:

The expected regulations would give employers a fixed period, perhaps up to 90 days, to resolve any discrepancies between identity information provided by their workers and the records of the Social Security Administration. If workers’ documents cannot be verified, employers would be required to fire them or risk up to $10,000 in fines for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Immigrant rights groups and labor unions, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O., predicted the rules would unleash discrimination against Hispanic workers. They said they were preparing legal challenges to try to stop them from taking effect.

Would these lawsuits succeed? What else could be in store?

One of the critics of the "grand bargain," Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) says that he is skeptical about a border wall and supports the DREAM Act--according to this report:
The senator also said he supported the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow the legalization of undocumented immigrant teenagers headed for college.
NJ Gov. Corzine (D) forms a panel that will investigate how to "integrate immigrants" into the state.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Hill reports that Sen. McCain comes out strongly against Kelo-type rulings about private property rights:
The senator, who is trying to revive his struggling White House campaign, told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that he plans to appoint constructionist judges to the Supreme Court who “respect the Constitution and understand the security of private property it provides.”

"If need be, I would seek to amend the Constitution to protect private property rights in America," he added.
McCain was referring to the 2005 Supreme Court “eminent domain” decision, which he blasted as “disastrous.” The ruling gave local governments the right to take the house of a homeowner and use it for economic development.

“Property is the fruit of one’s labor,” the senator told the crowd. “Property-rights protection means that the individual reaps the rewards from the sweat of his brow, not the government or those who control the government.”
Will this move prompt other GOP and Democratic candidates to offer their own opinions on eminent domain law and property rights?
UPDATE: I see that Fred Thompson has a commentary on eminent domain up at his site.
In Colorado, there's some confusion about the tuition rates of "undocumented immigrants":
Based on an attorney general’s opinion from five years ago, Metropolitan State College of Denver charges nonresident tuition to children of illegal immigrants. However, such students pay in-state tuition at the University of Colorado based on the advice of its lawyers, spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.
Some officials want to clarify and standardize Colorado's policy about this matter...
The NYT has a roundup of some various new state laws about immigration.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

In Carpentersville, IL:
The Village Board passed a non-binding resolution in June declaring English the town's official language, and is considering an ordinance to ban employers from hiring or landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.
ABC News talks about some of the various ways Republican presidential candidates are responding to proposed federal immigration legislation.
The NYT has an interesting story on foreign worker rights and conditions in the United Arab Emirates. Foreigners comprise, according to this story, 85% of the population of the UAE and 99% of its private work force. This number of foreign "guest workers" has led to some tension:
Change here is constrained by rival concerns of the sort that shape the prospects of workers worldwide. Like many countries, only more so, the United Arab Emirates needs the foreign laborers but fears their numbers. The recent focus on the workers’ conditions still leaves them under close watch, segregated from the general population, with no right to unionize and no chance at citizenship.
This story has more details on the conditions these workers labor in and on how some consider trying to change these conditions.
In a Washington Post column, Sen. Specter (R-PA) continues to press his immigration proposal.
The disputed House vote on Thursday could lead to some far-ranging consequences. The House has agreed to establish a six-member select committee to investigate what happened on Thursday. CQ has a helpful summary:
The panel would be directed to make an interim report to the House by Sept. 30 and to deliver a final report by Sept. 15, 2008. The resolution also instructs officers of the House to preserve documents and recordings related to the vote in question. The panel, made up of three appointees of the Speaker and three of the minority leader, would have the power to subpoena documents and testimony.
It is this power of subpoena that could make this panel rather distinct, Paul Cane suggests (differentiating it from, say, a special committee on global warming that has no subpoena power), and WaPo calls this decision "extraordinary." Select committees have been called in the past to investigate executive power (e.g. Watergate), and those have had far-reaching consequences; could this committee also have such effects?
Who will be appointed to this committee? The Politico has a report on tensions within the Republican caucus of the House and how some Republicans are disappointed with Boehner's response to the disputed Thursday vote. How might these tensions shape Boehner's choices in appointing individuals to this committee? It seems to me that he may be under some pressure to appoint some "tough" Representatives to make sure that they pursue this investigation aggressively....
And whom might Speaker Pelosi pick to be on this committee?