Saturday, August 25, 2007

An interesting Washington Post story on immigrants--both legal and "undocumented"--organizing for better wages and working conditions. Speaking of one group of workers at a restaurant in New York, the Post describes their wage conditions:
They demanded an end to what they say were salaries less than half the minimum wage, and to penalties that included $20 fines for late deliveries and $50 for shutting the restaurant's glass doors with a bang.
And what were these reported wages? $1.60 an hour. In order to stop these workers from unionizing, the owner of this restaurant reportedly offered them a raise to $4.00/hour.
This story also discusses the increasing use of unions in immigrants' struggles for better pay and says that the number of "day laborer" "worker centers" has "jumped from a few dozen to more than 200 nationwide."
Update: DNC votes to strip Florida of 2008 convention delegates unless it submits an acceptable new plan for nominating delegates within 30 days. The Hill reports:

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Saturday gave the Florida Democratic Party 30 days to submit a new plan for a primary or caucus or lose all of its delegates to the nominating convention.

Adopting a resolution offered by committeeman Ralph Dawson of New York, the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee all but ignored the pleas of the Florida party and voted almost unanimously to strip the state of all its delegates unless it offers a new plan that meets DNC rules.

The state ran afoul of the committee’s new primary rules when it decided to adhere to a new state law that moved the primary to Jan. 29, in violation of the DNC rule preventing unapproved states from holding a nominating contest before Feb. 5. The rules committee officially found the delegate selection plan Florida submitted to be in noncompliance Saturday when it adopted Dawson’s resolution.


In adopting the harsh penalties, the rules committee appeared to be sending a message to other state parties and legislatures such as Michigan, that any moves ahead of the Feb. 5 window would be met with stiff penalties and little to no leniency.

The Michigan legislature and state parties have in recent days appeared poised to move its primary to Jan. 15.
The Politico has more. Mike Allen interviews DNC Rules and Bylaws co-chairs James Roosevelt and Alexis Herman:
Roosevelt: “The event on Jan. 29 would be purely a beauty contest — equivalent, as somebody said, to the Iowa straw poll.”

Herman: “But voters WOULD get to register their preference. I think that’s important to point out.”

Roosevelt: “There would be a state-run poll or beauty contest, as has happened before. But there would NOT be a selection of delegates for the national convention in that process.”

What will happen at the national convention? Will Florida have a section with a "Sunshine State" sign and the funny hats?

Herman: “This would then come under the purview of the credentials committee of the convention. And the convention credentials committee would then have to make a determination as to how they would interpret whatever activities would have occurred in Florida — be it the 29th process, or any subsequent activities, if it were not party approved.”
Many hope some deal can be worked out.
An interesting Washington Post story on the current Florida Democrat v. Democratic National Committee struggle over the consequences for an earlier Florida presidential primary. The DNC will vote today on whether to strip Florida of its delegates for the 2008 Democratic convention.
UPDATE: DNC votes to strip Florida of its delegates unless it presents an acceptable new plan within 30 days.
In this AP story, some argue that the American West is seeing a tightening labor market--and increased wages for its workers.
An AP story claims that illegal crossings over the US-Mexico border are down. (H/T Kaus, who's still skeptical about the administration's new "enforcement" push)
Hazleton, PA officially appeals the court ruling against its immigration-related policies.
A member of the Virginia state legislature will propose a bill that would deny state funding to those municipalities that do not check the immigration status of those who receive public assistance. The Washington Times has more.
Though the New Jersey AG has just announced rules for local police officers to check the immigrations status of those charged with drunk driving and serious crimes, she does not want immigration checks for those accused of other crimes:

Top federal and state law enforcement officials told the Morristown mayor yesterday that local police cannot check the immigration status of those charged with traffic violations or other low-level crimes.


Mayor Donald Cresitello's plan for police to make immigration checks on routine traffic stops "is something our office thinks should not happen," said David Wald, a spokesman for [NJ AG] Milgram.

What would this plan entail, and how did one federal agency respond to it?

The mayor suggested the wide-ranging immigration checks in an Aug. 16 letter to U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, written before Milgram announced the new policy.

In the letter, Cresitello proposed a crackdown including immigration checks on traffic stops -- questioning all drivers, to avoid racial profiling -- as well as investigations of contractors suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, and he asked for Christie's help in prosecuting such cases.

Christie's cooperation, the mayor wrote, "is critical to the success of this endeavor because you will have to decide whether and to what extent the violators arrested will be prosecuted."

Christie responded in a letter yesterday, telling the mayor his office does not accept cases for prosecution from municipal authorities, and does not formally enter into task forces with other agencies.

"If you want to propose a task force ... it would be most appropriate for you to propose that directly to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and any other federal and/or state law enforcement agency of your choosing," Christie wrote.

Morristown's mayor doesn't sound too happy with Milgram's decision:

Cresitello said he knows Milgram's new policy prevents Morristown officers from making immigration checks on routine traffic stops and low-level crimes.

But he doesn't like it.

"She's handcuffed law enforcement in the state of New Jersey," Cresitello said.

Cresitello has "applied for a federal program that trains and deputizes local officers as federal immigration agents, empowering them to inquire about immigration status and start deportation proceedings." He hopes that will increase the authority of Morristown's officers to engage in these checks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sen. Dole (R-NC) wants to help local sheriffs enforce immigration laws:

After a Thursday meeting with sheriffs from Wake, Johnston and several other central North Carolina counties, she said she would seek more federal funding to help counties eager to participate in a program that allows them to enforce federal immigration laws.

The program, established under a 1996 law that for years went unnoticed, is gaining popularity as sheriffs grow frustrated with understaffed Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices. Where the federal agency had once exclusively enforced immigration laws, sheriffs can now get involved if they go through a training program.

Once trained, they can check the immigration status of criminal suspects and begin deportation proceedings.
This story also says that Dole, who is running for re-election in 2008, is emphasizing her policies on immigration policy and her history in opposing the "grand bargain."
A story on role of immigration in the presidential campaigns in New Hampshire.
A New Jersey community votes to rescind an ordinance punishing those who rent to or employ "illegal immigrants." Its governing committee cited the high cost of lawsuits to defend the ordinance as one of the reasons for ending it.
Some police chiefs are uncertain about New Jersey's new directive, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of those arrested for an indictable crime and drunken driving.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Politico has more on the effects of Warner's recommendation. Will this give some Republicans a "middle ground"? The Politico suggests that that's a possibility:
Warner’s idea of a partial withdrawal may give moderate Republican senators up for reelection — such as Susan Collins of Maine and Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico — a chance to embrace a less radical change of course than what Democrats have advocated.
Despite some reports tending to portray this news conference as a radical break with the administration, some Democrats are more doubtful:
Congressional Democratic leaders were skeptical about Warner’s rhetoric.

“President Bush has to make a decision whether he is going to join a majority of Americans and Democrats and a growing number of Republicans who are calling for redeployment of our troops or he will continue the stay-the-course strategy in Iraq,” said Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A Senate aide said Warner’s real test will come during votes on the Senate floor. “It’s still an open question about whether he will vote for anything. Making a recommendation to the president is far different than voting for a hard deadline in legislation.”
And Warner still says he is opposed to any forced timetables.
The Mexican Senate is unhappy with a recent deportation of a Mexican national from the US.
Sen. Warner (R-VA)'s remarks on Iraq--in which he recommends that the president consider withdrawing some number (maybe 5,000 or so, maybe less) troops from Iraq--have been getting a lot of press. You can see Warner's full press conference on C-SPAN's website (see around 17:00 for Warner talking about his policy recommendation). Warner still sounds firmly against a Congressionally-mandated timetable and says that he does not want to see a "repeat" of what Congress did during the Vietnam era. Moreover, he also doesn't think the president should explicitly set a long-term timetable; instead, he thinks the administration should withdraw those few thousand troops and then wait and see what happens--how Iraqi security forces react, how Iraq's neighbors react, how the loss of these soldiers affects US policy in Iraq. Warner says that the president could then decide, having seen these results, decide to withdraw another "contingent." Warner says he recommends these measures because he wants to reassert the ability of the US to shape events on the ground on Iraq and he hopes that this threat of a partial draw-down will force the Iraqi government to move towards political reconciliation.
So is this declaration a break with the administration? Could this be a hardening of Warner's position against a Congressionally-mandated timetable for withdrawal? Could this be a crack in Republican support for continued operations in Iraq, or a new tactic for warding off Congressionally-forced withdrawal in order to continue more extensive US operations in Iraq (not to say that this is only a political tactic--it is also a policy proposal, one that I'm sure there will be some debate over)?
Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) says the push for AgJobs is coming back:
Today, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein will be assuring a San Joaquin Valley audience that Congress will once more take up a big agricultural guest-worker bill. A top priority for Valley farmers, the bill soon could resurface on Capitol Hill.
What would AgJobs entail (e.a.)?

The agricultural guest-worker package is getting its second wind two months after comprehensive immigration reform collapsed in the Senate. It still faces very steep odds. However, political optimists can sketch out a scenario for snatching success from seeming defeat.

Dubbed AgJobs, the legislation first introduced in September 2003 culminated years of negotiations among farmers and the United Farm Workers. It would offer legal residency, and eventually U.S. citizenship, to 1.5 million illegal immigrants now working in agriculture. It also would streamline an existing guest-worker program.

The first tactic to push this bill--emphasize the need for its passage:

Step one in the plan for passage calls for farmers and their allies to emphasize anew the dangers of losing an agricultural work force.

It seems as though Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has promised to do "everything" he can to pass this proposal (or at least make sure that "something" is "done" about it)(e.a.):

Step two relies on the latest promise by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that he will help pass an agricultural guest-worker bill this year. With Senate floor time limited, and the legislative calendar running out, a commitment like this becomes essential.

"I am committed to doing something about AgJobs," Reid declared in late July, in response to Feinstein's questions. "I hope we can do something soon."

Revealing one potential but controversial new tactic, Reid specified he "will do everything" he can to include the agricultural guest-worker package as part of a larger farm bill. The House already has passed its version of a farm bill, without immigration provisions.


If the farm bill doesn't work out as a vehicle, Reid added, he will try to bring up the 109-page agricultural guest-worker bill as a "freestanding" bill or perhaps attach it to something else.

The push for AgJobs will also attempt to use the administration's new rules for worker verification as a way of pressuring for passage of this measure (e.a.):

Step three in the AgJobs game plan relies on employer anxiety over a new Bush administration plan for cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants. Two weeks ago, the White House announced plans to send out tens of thousands of so-called "no-match" letters.

These letters will notify employers that an employee's name and Social Security number don't match government records. Potentially, employers could be fined for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. More than one agricultural lobbyist believes the White House hopes that angry business leaders will now lean on Congress to change the immigration laws.

This story says that 30 senators currently co-sponsor AgJobs. Will they be enough to ensure its passage?

So will this measure be attached to the farm bill? Will Sen. Harkin (D-IA), chair of the agricultural committee, want that? Some reports suggest he might be a little skeptical. Will Reid have convinced him to be open to this measure? Could we be seeing the start of another immigration battle in the Senate?

How many individuals holding "non-work" Social Security Numbers are employed by government agencies? According to the Washington Times (H/T Hot Air), one report suggests a significant number:
f President Bush is serious about getting tough on U.S. employers who hire illegal aliens, he can start with his own administration, which employs thousands of unauthorized workers, says the top Republican on the House immigration subcommittee.

A 2006 audit showed federal, state and local governments are among the biggest employers of the half-million persons in the U.S. illegally using "non-work" Social Security numbers — numbers issued legally, but with specific instructions that the holders are not authorized to work in the U.S.


According to the 2006 audit by the Social Security inspector general, 17 of the 100 worst employers using employees with non-work numbers were government agencies: seven federal agencies, seven state agencies and three local governments. That means the government knows who those employees are, but usually does not go after them.
Another report claims that these holders of "non-work" SSNs who work illegally could collect up to $966 billion in benefits by 2040.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A poll released last week about the approval ratings of AZ GOP senators Kyl and McCain; both their approval ratings fell from March to August (some think as a result of their vocal support of the "grand bargain"):
McCain’s favorable rating among voters fell from 49 percent in March to 42 percent in July. At the same time, his negative rating increased from 18 percent to 30 percent.


Meanwhile, Kyl’s favorable rating fell from 46 percent in March to 40 percent in July. His negative ratings increased from 12 percent to 18 percent.
It's also interesting to note that, before the battle over immigration "reform" heated up the public airwaves in May of 2006, Sen. McCain's approval rating was at 62%; since then, it's lingered at 50% or less (according to this poll). Kyl's approval rating was at 42% in January of 2006, and, after he led opposition to the "comprehensive reform" of 2006 and ran for re-election opposing such measures, his approval rating increased to 49%. However, since his support of the "grand bargain," it seems as though his approval rating has drifted down. At least according to this poll...
In New Jersey, a new directive has been issued by the state attorney general (e.a.):
Police officers in New Jersey must now notify immigration officials about any undocumented person who is arrested in connection with an indictable crime, under a directive issued Wednesday by Attorney General Anne Milgram.
Milgram emphasized that the directive isn’t tantamount to a crackdown on illegal immigration. It also prohibits law enforcement authorities from inquiring about the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses, she said, adding that her office will monitor how police implement it.
Some speculate that the recent Newark murders influenced this decision.
The text of the directive is here. This directive also requires police officers to check the immigration status of those arrested for driving while intoxicated (see page 3 of the text). Will other states/localities adopt this measure?
What could the DNC be planning in retaliation for Florida's presidential primary violating national Democratic rules? One option:
In the hopes of changing that dynamic, national Democratic leaders are preparing to send a harsh message to their White House candidates this weekend: campaign in Florida at your own risk.

In an effort to punish the Sunshine State for holding it's presidential primary earlier than the approved Feb. 5 date (Florida lawmakers moved the contest to Jan. 29), the DNC's rules committee is expected to proclaim the state off-limits to campaigning. Anyone who campaigns there would lose their delegates.

But the threat -- which is likely to be approved this Saturday -- hardly appears to be stopping the calendar insurrection among state leaders who are seeking relevance in the presidential nominating process.
Marc Ambinder reports that the Michigan State Senate has voted to move the state's presidential primary date:

The Michigan State Senate just passed a bill establishing a joint presidential primary on Jan. 15.

All the chambers' Republicans voted yes; all the chambers' Democrats voted no.

Many Democrats objected on technical grounds.

The bill will now have to be reconciled with a version passed by the state house of representatives.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is eager to sign the bill.

More information here:

State Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said the bill contains language that doesn't comply with Democratic National Committee rules, so it's unacceptable as written. The bill is expected to be changed once it reaches the Democrat-controlled House.

If Michigan moves to a Jan. 15 primary, it's likely Iowa and New Hampshire would move up their first-in-the-nation contests.

A number of prominent Michigan Democratic political leaders, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, favor holding a closed presidential primary with the Republicans. State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis has agreed on a Jan. 15 presidential primary if Democrats will go along.

But not all Michigan Democrats favor a primary. Backers of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards want to hold a caucus because they think that will increase the influence of union members who back him.

So a caucus or a primary?

UPDATE: Ambinder has more on some of the political maneuvering behind this Michigan debate:

Some Democrats are protesting. Rep. Bart Stupark (D-MI) sent a letter to Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer urging them to keep the party's traditional caucus, which the state party pays for. A state-run primary would cost taxpayers $12M, Stupak writes, and besides, Michigan's 31 county political parties are already preparing for the caucuses.

Privately, Brewer may be sympathetic to Stupak's argument. Party-run caucuses -- or "Firehouse primaries," as they're called, are enormously beneficial to the state party because they serve as a dress rehearsal for election day get-out-the-vote activities and provide an easy way for the party to enhance its voter lists. They're also easy to control -- and party interest groups, like Michigan's extremely powerful United Auto Workers union, tend to exert an outsized influence on the outcome. It comes as no surprise that UAW, a union which is said to be on the verge of endorsing Sen. John Edwards, also opposes a state-run primary. (The State Dems, per published reports, are waiting to see what the bill says before they react. The State Republicans are on board with Granholm and the legislature.)

On the other side of this equation is Gov. Granholm, who Edwards factions in the state believe is acting at the beheast of Sen. Hillary Clinton. The theory is that it would be much easier for Clinton to win a primary beauty contest than a caucus, which would require organization -- read: labor, read: the UAW. (Actually, labor power in Michigan is concentrated in the UAW and in the National Education Association, which probably won't endorse.)

Some advocate streamlining the immigration process for high-skilled workers to make it easier to attract and keep them.
Trouble for John McCain in Arizona? While the 2010 AZ Senate race is a long way out (so you can't rely on these numbers too much, and they may be more indicative of his popularity/unpopularity at the moment than anything else), these numbers might be cause for some concern for the senator's camp:
Gov. Janet Napolitano remains the state's most popular elected official and would top Sen. John McCain in a matchup for his Senate seat, according to poll results released Tuesday.

The poll says that Napolitano, a Democrat, would defeat Arizona's senior U.S. senator by 11 percentage points, 47 percent to 36 percent, if the two were running for the Senate today. Seventeen percent of respondents were undecided, according to the poll of 629 Arizona voters conducted by the nonpartisan Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center.
Maybe this is an unreliable poll. Maybe McCain's popularity is at a low ebb right now. Of course, one remembers that Gov. Napolitano recently signed a workplace-enforcement immigration measure, while Sen. McCain has been most prominently identified with the "grand bargain." Could that be affecting Arizonans' opinions of the two?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Via Matt Yglesias (and Brendan Nyhan) some very interesting graphs on political party "polarization." Yglesias commenter Petey observes that there is significant overlap, according to these graphs, of "polarization" and high levels of foreign-born residents/high levels of income inequality; the greater the percentage of foreign-born residents/the greater the share of national assets that the top 1% owns, the greater the polarization. It's important to remember that correlation need not be causation, but they are some interesting graphs (depending, perhaps, on how you want to think of "party polarization"). And, certainly, those could not be the only causes of polarization (if they are causes at all).
How has the present debate over border security affected the border city of El Paso?
An interesting WaPo story on the changing Democratic approach to the "surge" in Iraq--especially after a number of prominent Democrats (including Obama and Clinton) have asserted military progress in Iraq (though they're still doubtful about political progress in Iraq). While there are some claims of uncertainty amongst Democrats, some Democratic leaders still assert a fair level of unity in the party's approach to the war. As an example of some of the political maneuvering on this issue (e.a.):

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), who made waves when he returned from Iraq by saying he was willing to be more flexible on troop withdrawal timelines, issued a statement to constituents "setting the record straight."

"I am firmly in favor of withdrawing troops on a timeline that includes both a definite start date and a definite end date," he wrote on his Web site.

But in an interview yesterday, McNerney made clear his views have shifted since returning from Iraq. He said Democrats should be willing to negotiate with the generals in Iraq over just how much more time they might need. And, he said, Democrats should move beyond their confrontational approach, away from tough-minded, partisan withdrawal resolutions, to be more conciliatory with Republicans who might also be looking for a way out of the war.

So it seems like he's showing some increased skepticism about the current leadership's approach to a hard-and-fast deadline with no middle ground, maybe? Where will the "narrative" lead us next?

The Politico discusses how this continually fluctuating primary calendar can reveal tensions between the aims of national party leadership and those of state parties. The Democratic National Committee is considering what to do with states that push their primaries earlier (contrary to national party policy). It could ask candidates to boycott primary contests (as Clinton and Dole did not, according to this story, not campaign in Delaware in 1996) that violate the rules, but it might also consider more forceful measures:
The DNC could also strip the rogue states of 50 to 100 percent of their delegates to the nominating convention. The most likely option right now is to strip them of all delegates, at least two rules committee members told me.

“You are going to see big signs on the floor of the Democratic Convention that say ‘Florida’ and ‘Michigan’ and you are going to see rows of empty seats beneath them,” one DNC member warned.
But is this an empty threat?
However heated tempers are now, they will have cooled considerably by the time the convention rolls around in August of 2008. And the credentials committee for the convention, whose membership will be packed by the presumptive nominee, can overrule anything the rules committee decides now.

In the interest of party unity and because withholding delegates from a candidate who has already won the nomination would be meaningless, the delegates from Florida or any other rogue state would probably be seated.
Or not so empty?
One member of the rules committee told me, however, that in an extremely tight race, the missing Florida delegates, about 10 percent of what a candidate needs for the nomination, could make the difference, and stripping Florida of its delegates, therefore, could be a meaningful act.
Certainly, if both Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates, and the race were somewhat tight, this stripping could lead to some serious tension by the time the national convention rolls around. And this front-loaded campaign cycle might make a close primary result more likely (since fewer candidates will have dropped out by the time of the big primaries). The DNC hopes it can work out some compromise with Florida; it meets tomorrow morning.
And these tensions may not be confined to Democratic candidates, either. A quote from the chair of the Michigan Republican party encapsulates some of the tenor of the current conflict between state and national parties (e.a.):
On Tuesday evening, Michigan Republican party chair Saulius "Saul" Anuzis, told me: "On Wednesday the Michigan senate will pass a bill choosing Jan. 15 as the date for the primary. We understand that this violates the rules of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. We don't care."
Reporting on a conflict between Sen. Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Nelson (D-NE) over earmarks, the Hill shows how being a single letter off in typing out an email address could reveal some behind-the-scenes conflict. The backdrop:

The senators had been at odds over the matter for much of the summer, but it would reach a new level when John Hart, communications director for Coburn, forwarded a news article detailing his boss’s request for an investigation of a defense contractor.

Sen. Nelson had requested an earmark for 21CSI, triggering a heated battle between the senators that has raged for weeks.

“This will shut that f---er up,” Hart stated in an Aug. 1 e-mail sent from his Senate account to several of his colleagues. “I can’t wait to send an In Case You Missed It to Nebraska press that will be forwarded to a--face.”

The mistake (e.a.):

When Hart typed out the three recipients for that first e-mail, he was one letter off on one colleague’s name. That meant that when he hit “Send,” the e-mail went to a staffer in the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.)

It was a mistake that could have happened to anyone, but not every senator spent much of 2006 trying to strike an earmark for a bridge in Alaska, as Coburn did.

When Hart realized his error, he sent another e-mail to Murkowski aide Brian O’Leary apologizing for the exchange and asking him not to pass it on.

Aides in Murkowski’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The Hill makes an interesting assertion about the dynamic of some of the partisan quarrels on the Hill:
But House and Senate staffers say the e-mails are also a natural extension of the kind of aggressive strategy that many believe is necessary to keep their bosses afloat in a partisan atmosphere as cutthroat as ever. That glimpse of intra-office banter puts on display the fact that the loss of comity in the Senate, frequently mourned by congressional observers and lawmakers themselves, more often than not begins among the unelected — staffers who are rewarded for protecting and defending their bosses with everything they’ve got until the moment they go too far.
The Washington Post has more on the debate to move the date of Michigan presidential primary. A deal for Jan. 15, 2008 may be in the works--but Sen. Levin (D) is pushing for an even earlier date.
Sen. Specter (R-PA) meets with his constituents and talks about Iraq, immigration, and AG Alberto Gonzalez. On Iraq, he's keeping his options open:
Mr. Specter, was circumspect on what course he might endorse after the much anticipated report on Iraqi progress next month from the administration. But he said repeatedly that barring a showing of "light at the end of the tunnel," a significant change in tactics would be warranted.

Mr. Specter's reservations about war tactics weren't reserved for the administration of his own party, however. He dismissed Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign trail promises to end the war as "rhetoric, that's all it is," noting that neither she nor any of the leading Democrats are calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.

Mr. Specter also flayed the parliamentary tactics of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Democratic leader. He maintained that, in refusing to allow a floor vote either on a proposal from Republicans Sens. John Warner and Richard Lugar to order the president to draft a new Iraq plan, or an endorsement of the Iraq Study Group, Mr. Reid had both abused his authority and short-circuited measures that might have spurred a shift in administration war planning.

He offers a few hints on his immigration policy. While this story says that the "vast majority of those who spoke up [at this meeting] were sharply opposed to eased immigration rules and irate that the ones in existence hadn't been enforced more vigorously," Specter still hopes for a renewed push towards some "comprehensive reform"--perhaps modeled on his own proposal. Specter also speculates that the new worker verification rules could encourage a new push for "reform" (e.a.):

While he conceded that his own aides disagree with his analysis, he predicted that an administration crackdown on undocumented workers, announced after the failure of the immigration bill, would prod a search for new legislative solutions.

"I think we're in for a real shock when these Social Security letters hit,'' he said of the Labor Department initiative to curb the use of false identifications by illegal workers. "They're going to eliminate a vast part of the labor force in this country.''

He noted a Senate colleague's prediction that the crackdown would mean, "These crops are going to rot in the fields,'' and said "When we go back in September, we may find a near panic situation . . . and people are going to start to say what's the best deal we can make.''

We'll have to see if such a panic arises (or if some claim the existence of a panic)...

According to this report, some employers worry about the new worker verification rules.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Will Sen. Hagel (R-NE) retire and not run for re-election in 2008? Some think so. Former NE senator Bob Kerrey (D) says that he's thinking of running of Hagel does retire, but, if he doesn't retire, Kerrey would--it seems--be glad to financially contribute to his campaign (or so he says).
An interesting AP story about the way the meatpacking industry is changing the social/economic dynamic of a number of small towns in the Midwest; as meatpacking plants moved out of the cities and into smaller towns, they created a demand for workers in those areas--and found immigrants ("legal" and "undocumented") to fill those jobs. These changes can bring their own tensions as well as opportunities. This story offers a striking description of Cactus, Texas (pop. 2500 in 2000):
It's a hard life. In Cactus, the population is more than 90 percent Latino. There are no doctors or banks. Most plant workers deal only in cash, making them easy targets for theft. As much as 70 percent of offenses in town relate to alcohol use, especially on weekend nights when cars cruise up and down the main drag for hours.
There seems to be some confusion over when the Michigan presidential primary will be. It seems as though state leaders are engaged in negotiations over the date.
(Via Hotair), a Border Patrol official claims that the aim of the agency is not to stop "illegal immigrants" or illegal narcotics:
Border Patrol agents don't have the responsibility of apprehending illegal immigrants, Carlos X. Carrillo, chief patrol agent for the Laredo sector, said at a town hall meeting Wednesday."The Border Patrol is not equipped to stop illegal immigrants," Carrillo said, noting that illegal narcotics are also not on the agents priority list. "The Border Patrol mission is not to do any of those things," he emphasized.

The Border Patrols mission is to keep the country safe from terrorist and terrorist weapons, he said. Carrillo added that when and if terrorists come into the country, the agents will be ready.

This history of the Border Patrol certainly draws attention to the BP's interest in stopping "illegal" crossings, and this paragraph on the BP today references "illegal" crossers and illicit drugs:

New dangers confront our nation's borders. As part of Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol is taking on the additional challenge of protecting our borders against terrorism. History has shown that it matters little whether the drug is alcohol or marijuana; the illegal migrants, Chinese or Mexican;
or the terrorists, hijackers, or suicide bombers - in any scenario, we can count on the Border Patrol to protect us from threats to the safety and security of our borders.

The Border Patrol's mission statement also says that the organization will "steadfastly enforce the laws of the United States."

The Politico has a story on a new report released discussing the different levels of coverage immigration has received in the media in the second quarter of 2007. It draws attention to the differences between "conservatives" and "liberals" covering this issue on the radio:

Among conservative talk radio hosts, the immigration debate was the # 1 topic in the second quarter, filling 16% of the airtime. (The second-biggest topic was the campaign at 13%). That is eight times the amount of attention that conservative talkers paid to the immigration debate in the first quarter of the year, when it accounted for only 2% of the newshole.

(Those listening to liberal radio hosts such as Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes, in contrast, were not hearing nearly that much. They spent about a quarter as much of their time on the subject, 5%, which ranked immigration as the sixth-biggest liberal talk subject.)
According to this report, radio devoted more time (proportionately) to this topic than TV and print media.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

McCain says that his stance on immigration has been "harmful to" him in the Republican primary for president, but he still believes in a "comprehensive approach."
Anne Arundel County in Maryland announces a new policy for county contractors:
Contractors doing business with a Maryland county will be required to certify they have no illegal immigrants on the payroll, according to an executive order issued by the county executive.

The Anne Arundel County order, issued this week by Republican County Executive John R. Leopold, requires contractors to sign an affidavit swearing they do not employ people living in the country illegally.

Evidence that a company has hired illegal immigrants would constitute a "material breach of contract," allowing the county to drop the contractor from the job.

The county's press release on this policy is here.