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Tilting at Windmills

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December 26, 2010

GOP ALREADY REJECTING NEXT PUSH ON DREAM ACT.... Shortly before departing for his holiday break, President Obama held a press conference reflecting on the lame-duck session, and spoke at some length about the "disappointment" of the DREAM Act vote.

The president called the status "heartbreaking," adding, "That can't be who we are, to have kids -- our kids, classmates of our children -- who are suddenly under this shadow of fear through no fault of their own. They didn't break a law -- they were kids." He went on to vow to "engage" Republican opponents who, Obama suspects, "in their heart of hearts, know it's the right thing to do."

Right or wrong, it's probably best to keep expectations very low.

Congressional Republicans are pronouncing President Obama's proposal that the next Congress overhaul the country's immigration laws as dead before arrival. [...]

Congressional Republicans said in interviews Thursday that their concerns about the [DREAM Act] measure remain strong, and both House and Senate GOP leaders said they would fight any attempt to legalize any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country before the administration secured the nation's southern border with Mexico.

"It is pointless to talk about any new immigration bills that grant amnesty until we secure the border, since such bills will only encourage more illegal immigration," incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said in a statement.

Remember, we're talking about a DREAM Act proposal that was written in large part by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), championed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) -- all conservative Republicans -- and it's still condemned as a non-started and "amnesty" by far-right congressional Republicans.

As for the "secure the border first" rhetoric, it's occasionally worth reemphasizing how misguided this talk is.

This Arizona Republic piece that ran over the summer continues to resonate, offering a serious, sober look at the political dispute when politicians say they want to "secure the border first," and then talk about immigration reform."

Anyone with a minimal knowledge or understanding about the nearly 2,000-mile swath of land between Mexico and the United States realizes that requiring a secure border establishes an impossible standard. [...]

Here is another way to consider the problem: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a leader in the anti-immigration movement and acclaimed as America's toughest sheriff, cannot secure his own jails. Every year, despite armed guards, electronic locks and video monitors, inmates smuggle drugs in from the outside and sometimes even escape.

No one would blame Arpaio. All penal institutions, regardless of security measures, have breaches. Yet imagine if America adopted a position that no new laws could be passed regarding prison reform "until the nation's jails are secure."

Tom Barry, director of the Transborder Project at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., said the demand for a completely secure border is a ploy by those opposed to immigration reform to prevent new policies.

"No matter how much enforcement you have, there will always be people coming through," he said. "Since that is true, opponents to immigration reform will always be able to say the border is still not secure ... and therefore we cannot pass immigration reform."

When the president was speaking on the subject, and noted that many Republicans probably want to support measures like the DREAM Act, but don't because they're afraid of political blowback, "that may mean that we've got to change the politics."

It would be a change for the better.

Steve Benen 9:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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If the Republicans had to give up pushing hatred (of immigrants, gays, KenyanIslamoFascistCommies, whomever), what would they have left to talk about?

Oh, right, there's always Jesus. But they usually end up turning Mr. J into a club to beat the groups they hate, so they don't even have him.

Posted by: K in VA on December 26, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

OK so let's call these pricks on all of their BS. So secure the border. How you going to do it. How much money is it going to cost and where's the money coming from. And then what precisely do you intend to do about those 11 million undocumented people. Or is it business as usual these assholes just say whatever pops into their pretty little heads in order to placate their batshit crazy supporters.

Posted by: Gandalf` on December 26, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

The way you "secure the border" is to stop the demand for "undocumented" workers. That is, you impose strict civil and possibly criminal penalties on employers.

It really isn't that hard to crack down on illicit employment practices.

With such a policy proposal, the Democrats could win back numerous frustrated middle-class workers, including tea-party types, and many former factory workers who Democrats have kicked to the curb over the past 20 years. But once again, the obvious and politically popular policy decision will be ignored as Democratic leaders do the bidding of a cheap-labor-loving corporate aristocracy that holds a thinly-veiled contempt for Democrats.

Posted by: square1 on December 26, 2010 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Since their stunning spanking by Harry Reid's Senate after the mid-terms, it seems that Republicans plan to turn their mo-jo around by stomping on the DREAM Act early and often. We can't let them get their mo-jo back. We must go all out early to get this passed because I firmly believe this is a bill that resonates with all fair-minded Americans. Kids brought to this country when they were too young to know what was going on, they work hard in school and become good citizens who want to go to college or serve in our military. They did nothing wrong, but could be deported to a country they never knew and would probably be cast adrift. This isn't about kids sneaking into our country, it's clearly about redemption. It's about happy endings.

I would love to see the Democrats set up a strategy to get this passed early and quickly with a blitz of ads to build support. We mustn't give the Republicans and Fox time to demonize it.

Getting this passed early would put the country on notice that the Democrats will not be patsies in 2011, and it would take a lot of wind out of the GOP's sails!

Posted by: Trakker on December 26, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's term limits, or maybe they're gerrymandered into a district that Jesus Christ (D) couldn't win, but these guys don't give a damn abut the future of their party.
Keep dumping on the fastest growing demo in the southwest--not to mention the country, guys, and you'll be joining the Whigs.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 26, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Yep. We couldn't repeal DADT because the military isn't "ready," the Catch-22 being that the right-wing, fascist element of the military would never be ready. The border will never be impermeable. So when they spew bullshit, call it that. Then pass reform anyway. It worked with DADT and it can work with immigration (as Obama will show you when he whups some Republican ass in 2012, turning out Hispanic voters infuriated by this -- it might just win him back Congress for his second term).

Posted by: dalloway on December 26, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Well, why don't we just ask these Republican dudes: Why don't you like people whose skin is browner than yours, and whose English accent isn't Amurikan? And, why don't "they" learn English in the first place?

The DREAM Act is what American should be all about! The Republicans know it, but have boxed themselves in as the Anti-Obama party. They can't seem to find a way out with any kind of dignity intact - so they trudge onward, against America's best interests!

What is sanity to do, Jon Stewart? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 26, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Given even the most superficial glance at the history of "America", we see an unbroken stream of immigrants, starting with folks from Siberia - (or southern France, who was 'first' is open to discussion)- right through today's legal and illegal additions to our famous Melting Pot.

What the Hell do these GuanoNutz think has MADE the USA a travel destination for the past 20,000 years?

Posted by: DAY on December 26, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

if obama had any guts going after republicans instead of licking their a*ses all the time he could have gotten a whole lot of great progressive legislation done including the DREAM Act, instead of the pile of miasma that was his first two years - a bunch of happy talk sops to corporate plutocrats.

Posted by: pluege on December 26, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"All penal institutions, regardless of security measures, have breaches. Yet imagine if America adopted a position that no new laws could be passed regarding prison reform "until the nation's jails are secure.""

All penal institutions have breaches? Not federal supermax prisons like Florence CO. By citing this story you're either casting doubt on our ability to house Gitmo prisoners in the US or our inability to hermetically seal the border Steve. I suppose we could at great expense build a Berlin Wall or Great Wall like China's across our southern border but at what cost not only to the treasury but our rep as a diverse tolerant society? It's pretty hard to hold the moral high ground on genocide or ethnic cleansing when you're walling out specific ethnic groups.

Posted by: markg8 on December 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic-controlled Senate should attach the DREAM Act to every bill they pass and send it on to the GOP-controlled House. Give Republicans as many chances to vote for it or strip it out as possible, and post a running account of the totals. Passage of the bill should be the #1 Democratic talking point for the next two years.

Turn the thing into a bludgeon to beat Republicans over the head with.

Posted by: Seould on December 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's been said that these "Dream" children didn't know a law was being broken so we should open our hearts & wallets to them.I say now "You are here ILLEGALLY".Now you know.Get out.What part of "illegal" don't you understand?

Posted by: Jeff on December 26, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff, you're either a moron, a troll or were engaging in satire. Which is it?

Posted by: Pis*ed off liberal on December 27, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

If President Obama proposes a new bill that grants citizenship to illegal aliens who serve honorably in the US military, and that is all the bill does, you can be sure that many, and maybe most, Republicans would support that bill.

How about it? Why wouldn't that be a good thing, a bi-partisan bill that would benefit those who serve the country?

Posted by: DBL2 on December 27, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Square1 - You are absolutely correct. Remove the incentive to hire illegals, and the problem largely goes away.

However, what you are not considering is that before you can punish employers for hiring illegals, you have to give them a pretty foolproof way to verify citizenship. The logical endpoint of your proposal is a national, biometric ID card. That may or may not be a good idea, but is it what you want?

Posted by: DBL2 on December 27, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK



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