Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Webb and Warner Collaborate on Court Nominees but ...

Howling Latina has a good post up on the five guys who Senators Warner and Webb have jointly nominated for appointment to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The list has some men on it for whom I have great respect. But, I have to ask ... at a time when nearly 50% of all law students are women, and when there are a significant number of well-respected partners in law firms and women serving as state court judges, the Senators couldn't find a single qualified woman to nominate?

Sorry, guys, but 52% of the population deserves meaningful representation on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and it's time for Virgina to join Maryland, South Carolina and North Carolina as states in the circuit that have a woman among their representatives on this important federal bench.

The bar associations need to do a better job of identifying qualified women (and minorities) for the Senators to consider, and the Senators need to agree that they won't send up a list of nominees for any judicial appointment that isn't inclusive of qualified women and minorities.

There was a time when you could defend the decision to nominate only men for an opening on a federal court bench saying there weren't enough women with the requisite experience at the bar to qualify, but that time has long since past.

Our Senators need to do better and women in Virginia, and, particularly women attorneys in Virginia, should expect more.

Who said this and why?

See if you can identify who said this, when and why.

The salutary purpose of the statute is clear. The Legislature had seen the baneful effects of permitting foreigners, who had taken residence in this country, to rear and educate their children in the language of their native land. The result of that condition was found to be inimical to our own safety. To allow the children of foreigners, who had emigrated here, to be taught from early childhood the language of the country of their parents was to rear them with that language as their mother tongue. It was to educate them so that they must always think in that language, and, as a consequence, naturally inculcate in them the ideas and sentiments foreign to the best interests of this country. The statute, therefore, was intended not only to require that the education of all children be conducted in the English language, but that, until they had grown into that language and until it had become a part of them, they should not in the schools be taught any other language. The obvious purpose of this statute was that the English language should be and become the mother tongue of all children reared in this state.

The answer will appear later in the comments.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Why Progressives (and Others) Should Oppose Webb's Amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation

The amendment Senator Jim Webb (D Virginia) is offering to the comprehensive immigration bill that will be debated in the Senate next week is not a positive one unless you favor the status quo that encourages scofflaws and worse.

Senator Webb's amendment (#1313) cuts the heart out of one of the key components of the bill -- getting the millions of undocumented people now in the US out of the shadows and on the path to earned legalization and citizenship.

Webb was right during the campaign:

For his part, challenger Jim Webb, a writer and former Secretary of the Navy, has been clear about his position on immigration reform. He has said he is for a more secure border, but told reporters last week:

"People who say 'no amnesty' or that we are not going to do anything with the individuals who are here are basically looking at a fairy tale….The people who actually have put down long roots in these communities, we need to find a process to bring them properly into society and into the work force."
-- Washington Times, "Webb focuses on income gap," October 24, 2006

He is wrong now.

Senator Webb's amendment will deny millions of hard working immigrants and their families now in the United States any hope of earned legalization.

Senator Webb's amendment would only allow people to have the chance to earn legalization if they have been in the United States for four years prior to the date the bill is passed and are employed.

Even the people who can meet this standard would be denied the opportunity to become legal unless they can prove to the Director of the Department of Homeland Security that they have "sufficient community ties" to be allowed to walk the path to earned legalization and citizenship.

Under Webb's amendment, no one who is not currently working (e.g., a spouse or child of a worker, a student in college, a person who is disabled) could ever qualify for earned legalization. (This is a particularly ironic requirement that would reward those who have broken our laws by working without authorization but penalize those who are their family members or others who are in the country without documentation but have not worked in violation of the law.)

And, even those who are working may not qualify under Webb's plan if they can't show that:

they "have immediate relatives" living in the US (hard to do if it wasn't legal for your family to join you);

"own" property or a business (nearly impossible to accomplish without a driver's license, a bank account or a social security number);

attended school or college in the US (difficult if you can't afford college because you've been denied in-state tuition or can’t be admitted because the state’s AG has issued an opinion discouraging colleges from admitting those without documentation);

and have paid taxes (also, if this means income taxes, difficult to accomplish as an individual if you can't get a bank account).

Senator Webb's amendment will leave millions of people now in the United States without documentation or the lawful right to remain in our country.

With Senator Webb's amendment, the Senate compromise would be neither comprehensive nor a reform.

The millions who would remain undocumented under Webb's proposal would continue to live in the shadows, creating opportunities for economic and criminal exploitation, requiring billions to be spent on law enforcement to identify them and remove them, and continuing to feed the political frenzy that increasingly surrounds this issue at the state and local level.

Senator Webb's amendment would also divide families, allowing some members to get on a path to citizenship and leaving others behind.

It would leave state and local officials dealing with the millions not allowed to even enter the process toward legalization.

Senator Webb's amendment would create a bureaucracy that is neither workable nor likely to be funded to meet the demand.

Senator Webb’s amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security to make millions of individualized decisions before people are admitted to the legalization process. The bill as introduced requires a criminal background check and payment of a fine before a Z visa is issued and adds requirements as the person progresses along an 8 year path to full legalization (learning English, getting a job, etc).

The effect of Senator Webb’s amendment would be to make the decades long backlogs now familiar to anyone trying to adjust status or seek permission to immigrate look speedy.

Senator Webb says that his amendment would introduce "fairness" into the "broken immigration system." The immigration system is broken, but his amendment is anything but "fair." A system, like our present system, that isn’t either efficient or effective is not fair.

Senator Webb has indicated that his amendment was motivated, in part, by a desire to protect American workers.

Leaving millions of hard working immigrants in the shadows where they can be further exploited will do nothing to protect American workers.

Only when we have a system that works with our economy and makes legal immigrant workers the rule rather than the exception will we have a system that protects American workers.

Webb's amendment will do nothing to remove the incentives for economic and criminal exploitation that currently exist and will ensure that we continue to have a system where immigrant workers are vulnerable to unscrupulous employers who work them in unsafe conditions and too often fail to pay wages that they have earned.

Senator Webb's amendment is not good for Virginia or for the United States, and it should be defeated.

Note: Full disclosure ... I am working as the Virginia coordinator for the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which sees the proposed Senate bill as the first step in a long process that we hope will produce a final bill for the President's signature that reunites families, ensures national security, protects workers, and provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who uphold and embrace American values of hard work, family, patriotism, and faith. If you want to know more about the bill and the Coalition or make your views known, you can find more information at www.cirnow.org.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Watch and Learn -- High School and Middle School Students Have Something to Teach Us

Take a look at the winning videos in the annual CPAN video documentary contest for middle and high school students. Topics range from gay marriage to global warming to intelligent design to a woman president and immigration.

The winning video documentary, "Jupiter or Bust," was done by high school students in Jupiter, Florida, and documents the town's constructive response to the growing number of Guatemalan immigrants now living in Jupiter. Watch the video and the interview with the poised high school student who made the film and share it with your children. The teen's mature, measured, thoughtful, and sympathetic portrayal of the immigrant community in his town is a lesson for all of us.

You'll see none of the raw, negative, and largely uninformed, emotion infecting much of the debate on immigration today. Just three teenagers telling a story about a town's decision to address a problem in their community (laborers lining a main street looking for jobs) without acrimony or political flame throwing.

I hope we can let the younger generation be our teachers here as they have been on other issues like seatbelt usage and smoking.