Monday, December 24, 2007

What is it about the right and bathrooms?

The former child actor who played Zelda on the Dobie Gillis Show, now all grown up and a state senator in California, got a 1999 California nondiscrimination law amended last year (and signed by Governor "I'll Be Back") to include gender as well as sex. The purpose was to afford legal protection against discrimination to gay, lesbian and transgender students.

Now, according to USA Today, so-called "social conservatives" and various religious groups are trying to stop the implementation of the amended law claiming "that the law will permit 'homosexual indoctrination' of schoolchildren as young as 5 and that 'gender-specific bathrooms would also be discriminatory.'" One group is suing to set the law aside as unconstitutionally vague and another is seeking to put a referendum on the ballot in 2008 to repeal it.

The general counsel of the group that is suing says: "This law will allow kids, boys and girls in public schools, to decide their own gender," .... As a result, they have the right to go into any restroom they choose and any locker room they choose."

Sen. Sheila Kuehl, the bill's author, calls these claims "stupid." She says that the bill says nothing about bathrooms and won't make locker rooms co-ed.

What is it about conservative politicians and groups and bathrooms, anyway?

And, another thing ....

When I was in law school working to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified in Virginia, the two principle arguments made against the amendment by Phyllis Schlafly and her supporters were that the Amendment would make women and men have to go to the bathroom together and it would force women into combat.

As one of my friends pointed out the other day,there are more and more unisex bathrooms around these days, and women are dying in combat.

So, she asked, "where's my Equal Rights Amendment?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Authors of the Abusive Driving Fees Are At It Again

Updated: 12/27/08
Updated again: 12/28/07
Having failed to learn their lesson about unintended consequences and the dangers of crafting bills that are just a little too "creative" in trying to get to an objective in a roundabout way, two of the primary authors of the abusive driver fees (crafted to fund highways creatively by taking money from the pockets of people that they figured had no political constituency), Tom Rust and Dave Albo have offered bills that, I assume, they believe will be seen as "cracking down" on "illegal aliens" without generating backlash among average Virginians or incurring political cost for either patron (unlike their last foray into creative road funding).

First, some background. Under current Virginia law, it is a class 2 misdemeanor to drive without a valid license and a class 1 misdemeanor for a second offense. Also, under Virginia law, police officers are required to issue you a summons, rather than arrest you and take you into custody, for any such offense unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe that you will not appear in response to the summons, or that you are a danger to self or others or that you won't stop committing the offense for which the summons is being issued.

So, under current Virginia law, if your not yet fully licensed teenage son "borrows" your car and gets caught driving without a license, he would normally be issued a summons for driving without a license. Or, if you move to Virginia from another state and are caught driving on your previous state's license after the 60 day grace period has elapsed, you would now be issued a summons for driving without a valid Virginia license.

The Rust and Albo bills (HB91 and HB 104) would change Virginia law to say both for never licensed drivers and for those whose license is not "valid," i.e., unrenewed?, suspended or revoked:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person charged with a violation of this section shall be placed under arrest and shall have his fingerprints and photograph taken."

Now, the intent of this bill obviously is to require police to arrest any "illegal aliens" driving in Virginia without valid licenses so that the Crime Commission's requirements for post-arrest/post-conviction inquiry into citizenship status will kick in, the denial of bail proposals will apply, and all of these persons will be in jail subject to detainer and deportation.

But, to get there, Albo and Rust have to apply the mandatory arrest, fingerprint and photograph requirement to everyone caught driving without a valid license regardless of circumstance to avoid any claim of racial profiling or discriminatory application.

What will the cost of this mandatory arrest requirement be in terms of lost policing power while officers are transporting these traffic violators to jail and processing paperwork? How will Virginians feel when their teenagers, forgetful grandmothers (an unrenewed license is not "valid,") and others are subject to mandatory arrest, fingerprinting and photographs?

And, wait, the proposal doesn't stop there.

In addition to mandatory arrest and fingerprinting and photographing, the Rust/Albo proposal, HB 104, also mandates that the officer who arrests you impound your car for 30 days on a first offense.

Mandatory impoundment was first imposed in Virginia for driving under the influence and then for 7 days. It is now up to 30 days, but has continued to be used primarily as a sanction for drunk drivers, those adjudged habitual offenders and for those driving on a revoked license (i.e., those who've lost their licenses for drunk driving or other egregious safety threatening driving offenses).

Under the Rust/Albo proposal, however,the officer will have to impound the vehicle of any person caught driving without a license. That includes your family car if your teen is out for a ride with his learner's permit without an adult in the car. And, you might be able to get it back before the 30 days are up if you can prove to a judge that you didn't know that the kid had the car and that it is your only car and having it impounded for 30 days would cause your family a hardship.

Bob Marshall (no fan of the abusive driver fees, but no stranger to creative bill drafting) also has gotten into this act. He proposes in HB 63 that anyone caught driving without a license twice in three years forfeit his vehicle (or the vehicle of another person who knew he was driving it) to the state. (Yup, that means the state gets it and you don't get it back; the money from forfeitures goes into the literary fund which funds schools).

The arresting officer would seize the vehicle at the time of arrest and deliver it to the sheriff. There is another provision in the Marshall bill that appears to say that, if the vehicle doesn't belong to the driver, it would be subject to impound rather than seizure and someone would pay a fine equal to the market value of the vehicle, but the language is so poorly drafted it's not entirely clear what it would do since it's not clear who has to know what:
Any vehicle knowingly used to commit a second violation within three years of § 46.2-300 by a person who is not the owner thereof shall be subject to impoundment under § 46.2-301.1 and the person shall be fined an amount equivalent to the fair market value of the vehicle.

Now, it may well be that all Virginians will be quite happy to live with the far reaching consequences for citizens and legal residents of the Rust/Albo/Marshall creative efforts to "crack down" on "illegal immigrants". Time will tell what price Virginians, and, particularly, the middle and moderate income people least likely to be able to pay the legal fees necessary to get out of the snare of impoundment, are willing to pay to make Virginia "the most inhospitable state in the nation" for "illegal aliens."

P.S. Albo wants to amend, not repeal, the abusive driver fees so anyone who is caught driving after his/her license is suspended for nonpayment of the fees will be subject to the mandatory arrest and impound requirements.

UPDATE 12/28/07
I asked Delegate Albo if he thought that I had gotten this wrong and promised to pull the post if I did have it wrong. His response focused on the P.S. regarding drivers whose licenses have been suspended for failure to pay the abusive driver fees:
That would not be a 46.2-300 Driving Without a License. It would be a Driving on Suspended 46.2-301, and not subject to my bill. Now there is a argument that a CA could charge under the 46.2-300, so probably need to clarify my bill by saying in only applies to those who have never been licensed, and I will work to get that in shape for session.

But, even with the amendment Delegate Albo is saying he'd make that leaves teens who are caught driving on a learner's permit (i.e., without a valid license), any new resident of Virginia who doesn't get a VA license within the 60 day grace period, and, arguably, any person who simply forgets to renew his/her license on time subject to the mandatory arrest and impoundment requirements.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

2007 General Election: Impact of Immigration

In the 2007 election cycle in Virginia, the results show unequivocally that the issue of illegal immigration did not move voters and that immigrant bashing is not an effective campaign tactic in Virginia, regardless of party.

All across the state, party loyalty, and local issues other than immigration, most often determined the outcomes of hotly contested state legislative and local county and school board races.

Examples that prove the point include:
1) Senator Emmet Hanger (R Augusta) won a hotly contested Republican primary in June during which he was attacked repeatedly for his sponsorship of a bill that would have given a small number of taxpaying undocumented students the opportunity to qualify for in-state tuition. Hanger won the primary 53.01% to 46.98% and went on to win the General Election with over 65% of the vote in a three way contest.

2) Senator Roscoe Reynolds (D Henry) won a bitterly contested general election campaign in which his support for Senator Hanger's bill and his vote against mandating that the Governor enter into a statewide 287g agreement were key focal points in his opponent's campaign. Reynolds margin of victory was 62.84% to 37.19%, a four point change from his win in 2003 in a decidedly less spirited contest which he won 67% to 33%.

3) Even in Prince William County, ground zero for the anti-illegal immigrant movement in Virginia, Senator Chuck Colgan (D Manassas) was reelected by a vote of 54.09% to 45.76% despite his vote for Senator Hanger's in-state tuition bill and accusations that he was soft on illegal immigration. Colgan's margin of victory in 2007 was nearly unchanged from 2003 when he won 54.68% go 45.32%. Prince William Democratic House candidates who chose to try to out do the Republicans by setting out a 10 point plan to crack down on illegal immigration or attacking their opponents for being "soft" on immigration got no benefit from their effort. Three of their targets, Delegate Jackson Miller, Delegate Jeff Frederick and Delegate Bob Marshall only increased their margins of victory seven, six and six points respectively over their election totals in 2006 and 2005.

4) In a Republican leaning district that spans several counties in the fast-growing Fredericksburg area, Senator Edd Houck (D Spotsylvania) won reelection by a vote of 55.95% to 43.95% over a candidate Chris Yakabouski, chair of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisor's whose campaign website described him as "leading the fight against illegal immigration." Houck's margin of victory in 2003 was 59.25% to 40.68%.

5) In a district that supported George Allen over Jim Webb in 2006 by significant margins, Albert Pollard nearly beat Richard Stuart despite Stuart's one-note campaign that attacked Pollard for not being strong enough in his opposition to illegal immigration and for his votes on higher education bills. The election ended in a near dead heat, 50.63% to 49.22%, with Stuart's win dependent on his significant margin in Stafford County where he won 57.44% to 42.31%, margins similar to those enjoyed by Allen in the US Senate race against Jim Webb (55.12% to 43.09%) and where the so-called marriage amendment which Pollard voted against while in the House of Delegates passed by a margin of 64.48% to 35.52%.

6) In Tidewater, where anti-tax candidate Tricia Stahl (R) tried to use immigration to beat John Miller (D) in a Republican district considered out of play until Stahl beat incumbent Marty Williams in a June primary, Miller won convincingly by a margin of 51.01% to 48.63%. Also in Tidewater, Ralph Northam (D) defeated incumbent Senator Nick Rerras (R)(Norfolk) by a vote of 54.37% to 45.57% and Delegate Paula Miller (D)(Norfolk) was reelected 54.13% to 45.86% despite campaigns in which their opponents focused heavily on illegal immigration. Miller's margin exceeded her margin in 2005 when she was elected with 50.27% of the vote in a three-way race.

7) Local races also showed the lack of meaningful influence of the immigration issue. In Loudoun County and Chesterfield County where much has been made of "studying" the costs of illegal immigration and incumbents called for the adoption of measures similar to those adopted in Prince William, a majority of the county board incumbents were defeated in their re-election bids, largely by candidates who ran against the incumbent's pro-growth policies which are at the heart of many of the issues for which immigrants have become the convenient scapegoats (e.g., over crowded schools). One surprising election in Chesterfield was the defeat of an incumbent School Board member by a minority candidate. There is now one minority member on the School Board and one on Chesterfield's board of supervisors in a County that is now more than a quarter minority.

Political Lessons
The bottom line, according to Celinda Lake and Peter Brodnitz and other national analysts on a conference call yesterday sponsored by Immigration 2007, is that candidates who “lean into the issue,” i.e., engage on it rather than duck and cover, can be elected on a comprehensive immigration reform platform that is measured and focused on practical responses to real problems (e.g., Gerry Connally’s platform in Fairfax which carried him to reelection by a substantial margin).

The key for candidates is to communicate actively to voters that they have a positive plan to address immigration. The plan must be comprehensive and include securing our borders and enforcing our laws, particularly in the workplace, and, then, it can address future flow of immigrants and the creation of a path to earned legalization for those already here.

Sage advice from Morton Kondrake in his column in the November 8th issue of Roll Call:

For the umpteenth time, American voters this year have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don’t make this your 2008 wedge issue.
Election results on Tuesday, especially in Virginia and New York state, also should encourage nervous Democrats that they can support comprehensive immigration reform — stronger enforcement plus earned legalization — and prevail.
Polling on immigration consistently shows that large majorities of Americans — two-thirds, in a September ABC survey — believe the U.S. is not doing enough to curb illegal immigration, but that almost as many, 58 percent in that poll, support allowing illegal immigrants to earn their way to legal status.
In The Wall Street Journal last month, conservative think tank president Richard Nadler wrote that his study of 145 majority-Hispanic precincts showed that “immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.”
Despite all that evidence, House GOP leaders have staged vote after vote on amendments designed to restrict benefits to illegal immigrants — even where the law already restricts them — and Senate Republicans led the way, joined by nine Democrats, in filibustering the DREAM Act, which would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

If Republicans want to destroy their future prospects in increasingly Hispanic, once-Republican states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, it’s their option. But the process could be very nasty.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Developing (as NLS would say): Intimidation of Latino Voters in Prince William

When you can't win based on your platform, try intimidation.

There were reports out of Prince William late yesterday that people associated with the "anti-illegal immigrant" movement were videotaping Latino-looking voters on their way into the polls and telling the subjects of their harassment that they were taking pictures to send to immigration officials.

There are thousands of Hispanic/Latino citizens qualified to vote in Prince William County. It is shocking and criminal for anyone to intimidate them when they seek to cast their ballots.

Help Save Manassas and other affiliated organizations should immediately distance themselves from these tactics and call on the Commonwealth's Attorney to undertake a criminal investigation of the allegations.

Failure to do so will send the message that these anti-illegal immigration groups are really anti-Latino ... a charge they continue to deny vehemently.

Time to make the denials credible by forcefully decrying voter intimidation as a political strategy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

You Don't Need a Crystal Ball to See the Future of Prince William County and the City of Manassas

This ad shows clearly what the citizens in Prince William and the City of Manassas should expect ... loss of businesses, revenues and jobs, empty houses and tax increases to continue to provide basic services.

Companies and families don't want to locate in communities torn by ethnic strife -- regardless of which side they are on.

The leaders in Prince William and the City of Manassas have failed the people in their communities by choosing to demogogue instead of dialogue.

Their failure of leadership has sown the seeds of despair and disparity rather than prosperity.

Once the scapegoats are gone, who will these "leaders" blame for their failures to address the real issues in their communities ... uncontrolled growth, inadequate public facilities and clogged roads?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Homophobia Doesn't Work? Try Xenophobia

Having apparently learned from Brad Marrs’ defeat in 2005 that gay bashing won’t get him elected in the 68th House District, Manoli Loupassi (R Richmond) has, instead, sought to make immigrants the pawns in his 2007 bid for election to the Virginia House of Delegates.

In a recent campaign commercial focused on “illegal immigration,” Loupassi seeks to mislead voters into believing that some vote of Katherine Waddell’s means that illegal immigrants are being admitted to Virginia colleges as in-state students, occupying slots that would otherwise have gone to Virginia residents.

Such is not the case; and Loupassi knows it is not the case.

A veteran trial lawyer who, by all accounts, hopes one day to become Virginia’s Attorney General, Loupassi certainly knows the basics of Virginia law:

Virginia law requires one to be “domiciled” in Virginia to get in-state tuition;

Virginia’s Attorney General has made clear that persons in the United States without authority cannot establish domicile in Virginia and cannot qualify for in-state tuition; and

Virginia colleges have successfully defended in court their right to deny admission to undocumented students, regardless of in-state or out of state status for tuition purposes.

Neither Loupassi, nor any other Republican candidate using this page from this year’s Republican campaign playbook, can point to one undocumented student who has been admitted to any Virginia public college as an in-state student in violation of this settled Virginia law.

Delegate Waddell did not vote to change current law; she did vote against a “message” or “brochure” bill that was completely unnecessary to assure that undocumented students could not qualify for in-state tuition.

The bill did nothing more than provide a “hook” on which to hang Loupassi’s fear mongering campaign commercial – a commercial that is irresponsibly adding rhetorical fuel to an increasingly hostile environment for all persons of color and language minorities in Virginia.

Candidates who purport to be leaders should not have to resort to misleading the public to get elected. Nor should they be allowed to escape responsibility for the predictable effects and consequences of their actions and rhetoric.

Loupassi should be ashamed that he has stooped so low in his reach for higher office, and voters in the 68th House District should, again, reject the candidacy of one who seeks to exploit our fears rather than elicit our best.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Evening Edition -- Time to Stop Playing to People's Worst Fears and Darkest Beliefs

Evening Edition last Tuesday night on WVTF focused on immigration in Virginia.

Bob Gibson, the Charlottesville Daily Progress political reporter, hosted a conversation with guests Henrico County Republican Delegate Bill Janis,who wants to crack down harder of illegal immigration, and me, a former Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia who has lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations.

You can listen to the program, which includes some good comments and questions from listeners as well as a civil discussion among Janis, Gibson and me on a range of topics including local enforcement of immigration law, access to services and the need for comprehensive immigration reform, here.

From my perspective, the most difficult question asked Tuesday night was one from "Anita" from "southside" about her "standard of living" which presupposed that undocumented immigrants are responsible for the economic hardships that she and others in her community are experiencing. The question was difficult because it is impossible not to empathize with her and others in southside and southwest Virginia who are suffering because of current economic factors, too often generated by bad business and public policy decisions, including the long-standing failure of southside businesses to support quality schools, the ill-conceived NAFTA agreement that harmed workers on both sides of the border, and the continuing opposition of business groups to any increase in the minimum wage, and to the very concept of a living wage.

What is frustrating, however, about Anita's question is that it illustrates a growing use of immigrants as the convenient scapegoat on which to focus the economic frustration of southsiders and working people across Virginia by those who would like to divert attention from their own business and policy decisions.

This is similar to what is happening in Prince William where the absolute failure of local leaders to manage growth intelligently (and state leaders to give them additional tools with which to do so) has begun to affect the county adversely -- creating the current NOVA transportation nightmare, increasing demands on services for which there are inadequate public facilities, overcrowding existing county schools, and causing property values to decline in older neighborhoods as new construction draws residents to other areas and there is no policy to encourage redevelopment and infill in the older residential and business areas of the county. So, instead of facing up to their own failures, the local officials and state delegates and senators running for reelection in Prince William have taken the "easy route," and sought to deflect blame for their own ineffectiveness onto immigrants who,in recent years, have moved to the county in increasing numbers.

Across Virginia, it's gotten so that no matter what the issue, whether it is the abject failure to enforce drunk driving laws effectively and stringently or overcrowded schools with deferred maintenance issues, politicians on both sides of the aisle (with few notable exceptions like Gerry Connally) increasingly are resorting to chanting a single, divisive mantra ... it's not us, it's the immigrants.

In an increasingly global and mobile economy, where physical headquarters are increasingly irrelevant and companies and workers alike can pick up and move quickly to another location, this kind of strategy (which may be thought by some to yield short term political advantage) will wreak havoc on Virginia's future long term.

No one wants to locate their business or move their family to a community/state riven by ethnic strife and division no matter which side of the dividing line they are on.

It is past time for Virginia leaders (political, business, religious and community) to begin proactively to educate residents about the benefits of an ethnically diverse Commonwealth and to help build community among our increasingly diverse population, instead of playing cynically to people's worst fears and darkest beliefs.

The risk of not doing so is to give continued credibility to Virginia's dark past and to cloud its future with challenges to the validity of our commitment to a truly inclusive Commonwealth.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Can't Deliver on Promise to Control Growth? Shift Focus to "Illegal Immigration"

Interesting to note in watching this video dialogue with Corey Stewart, chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors ... he virtually acknowledges that his failure to deliver on his promise to control growth is the driver in his shift of focus to the scapegoats he's chosen to blame for this failure ... Prince William County's immigrant community. And, take a look at his audience for the campaign speech he is delivering to Help Save Manassas. Res ipsa loquitor.

More great video from Annabel and associates can be found in their interactive documentary file on YouTube at

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Kopy Kat

Here's my Myers-Briggs profile ... as if anyone who knew me would need me to draw them a picture:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Critique of the Prince William Democratic Candidate 10 Point Plan on Immigration

Cross posted on Raising Kaine ...

A critical analysis of each of the points in the 10 Point Plan on immigration recently proposed by Democratic candidates running in Prince William for the House of Delegates demonstrates that, like the Republican leadership plan that preceded it, it is largely poll driven and poorly thought out and reveals little that can fairly be described as progressive "leadership" on this important issue:

1. Punish employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants by imposing fines up to $10,000 per illegal employee.
Federal law enacted in 1986 explicitly and completely preempts any state or local action to punish employers for hiring undocumented workers. That power is expressly reserved to the federal government. If these "enforce the laws" candidates are proposing state legislative action, it's unconstitutional. If they are seeking to influence Congress, they need to be going to Capitol Hill.

2. Give employers the tools to assess the legal status of their employees.
Employers are currently required by federal and state law (whether constitutionally enforceable or not) to obtain documentation from every employee regarding their right to work in the United States. Employers must complete and maintain in their records an I-9 on every employee. Any employer who hasn't already "assessed" the legal status of their employees is violating the law. Employers have been asking for a biometric and electronic system for verification for some time, but the federal government is a long way from providing that. The current employment verification system is not reliable and returns many false positives. That's part of the reason why the federal courts have held up the implementation of the President's new initiative on "no match" letters from the Social Security Administration. For more on this go to the website of the HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce. Bottom line here, Congress is the hold up on giving employers a useful electronic/biometric system, and the state legislature is without authority to act.

3. Make a federal conviction for hiring illegal aliens grounds for suspension of a Virginia business license.
What kind of "business license" are we talking about here? BPOL, which is really an application to pay taxes on business gross revenues? Are we saying suspend their payment of taxes, too? Professional/contractor licenses? Corporate recognition and authorization to do business by the SCC? Environmental permits? Do we mean that Smithfield and Tyson who have plead guilty to violations in other states must stop doing business in VA? For how long? What will they have to do to end the "suspension"? Do conviction for paper work violations (which are many) count here? Convictions for actions taken in Virginia? in other states? Suspended for how long? Until what happens? What happens to the other legally employed workers and their families who are dependent on the company for their livelihood/health insurance? Will they get unemployment compensation/other state compensation while they are out of work?

4. Allow enforcement officials to work with the Virginia Employment Commission to verify employment status.
Federal immigration officers have full access to every state and local agency and employer under federal law. VEC maintains no records on the legal status of employees. It only has records on employers who pay taxes into the system and the unemployed. Unemployment compensation has been off limits to undocumented workers in Virginia since the 80's.

5. Fine landlords for knowingly renting property to illegal immigrants.
How will landlords "know" this information? Determining someone's legal status is a complex endeavor that requires significant training. Will landlords be training every rental agent to be an immigration expert? If not, why shouldn't we expect that landlords faced with this dilemma will simply stop renting to anyone who "looks" or "talks" like an "immigrant"? Will Virginia's fair housing agency be beefed up to deal with increasing numbers of possible complaints of discrimination based on race or ethnicity? While we're at it, why not propose punishing real estate agents who don't ascertain the legal status of buyers/sellers, homeowners who sell their homes to someone they know isn't here legally, banks that finance mortgages for people without determining legal status? Are we only going after landlords because we think that the "problem" of unlawful immigration only extends to poor people who can't afford to buy property and shutting down their access to rental housing will force them out of the community. Similar proposals related to housing rental have already been declared illegal in lawsuits brought in Pennsylvania and other states. If the issue here is compliance with the "rule of law," why are "Democrats" proposing something that is clearly unconstitutional and will lead to ethnic and racial profiling?

6. Cut off in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
There is NO evidence that ANY person who is undocumented is receiving in-state tuition. This is a sham proposal that feeds a myth rather than educates citizens about the facts. Virginia has a very exacting system applicable to everyone seeking in-state tuition that requires proof of domicile ... which no person here unlawfully can meet. Virginia colleges and universities have gone to court to protect their right and practice of denying even admission to anyone who is not here legally (even at unsubsidized out of state rates). So, suggesting that we need to "cut off" something that isn't flowing is the height of political opportunism and poll driven campaigning whether it is proposed by Democrats or Republicans.

7. Increase punishment for counterfeit drivers' licenses and identification fraud.
The legislature has already acted to pass new laws and increase penalties for these criminal acts. Forging public records is a class 4 felony; identity theft is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, Class 5 or Class 6 felony depending on the facts of the case. Forgery is a Class 5 felony. Manufacturing a false drivers' license can be prosecuted as a forgery or as a specific offense as a Class 1 misdemeanor (even if you are a college student making your own fake ID). What are these candidates suggesting that hasn't already been done?

8. Increase resources for state and local enforcement officials to make sure immigration laws are enforced.
Virginians for Sensible Community Policing Efforts (VA-SCOPE), a broad coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about community safety, continues to oppose local enforcement of immigration laws because of the real threat to public safety of local action that discourages victim/witness cooperation with police. Focusing on identifying criminal aliens in jail/prison and ensuring that they are deported after serving their sentences is one thing. Equating all local police with federal immigration authorities has been shown to diminish everyone's safety rather than increase it. Accepting this federal responsibility is accepting a de facto unfunded federal mandate. Reallocating state 599 money from fighting gangs and investigating and prosecuting violent crime to enforcing immigration laws (which are largely civil in nature), as some have suggested, will not make us safer. And, focusing on immigration as the law enforcement issue when the facts show that crime in NOVA communities has gone down as immigrant populations have increased makes no sense. There are issues that do deserve additional resources ... community initiatives to address overcrowding, transportation and other growth impelled problems ... but suggesting that immigration is the premiere problem begs the response that leaders who are incapable of resolving the issues facing communities as a result of their failure to implement sensible growth management policies are choosing to scapegoat immigrants to divert attention from their leadership failures.

9. Check the legal resident status of all inmates currently in Virginia jails.
This has been the law in Virginia since the 50's: "Whenever any person is committed to a correctional facility, it shall be the duty of the director, sheriff or other officer in charge of such facility to inquire as to whether the person is a citizen of the United States, and if he is not, such director, sheriff or other officer shall inquire as to the person's alien status." A number of sheriffs surveyed recently by the Crime Commission indicated that they are not in compliance with this "rule of law."

10. Confirm the legal presence of all persons lawfully convicted of a crime in the U.S. via the U.S. ICE database.
ICE databases do not include any information about US citizens nor do they include any information about persons who enter the US unlawfully who have not yet been identified or linked into the system. So, a "no hit" on the ICE system can be either a citizen or an as yet unidentified unauthorized alien. Everyone who is admitted to a jail or prison in Virginia is already required to be checked for citizenship status. The means for doing this includes interviews, document requests (birth certificates, social security cares), etc. rather than reliance on any particular data base.
The bottom line here is that these proposals are neither well thought out nor remotely progressive.

Is this the kind of policy agenda we hope for when we talk of electing Democratic majorities in the legislature and "turning Virginia blue"?

Friday, August 31, 2007

How many laws does Virginia already have on the books dealing with "illegal aliens"?

The answer is at least these thirty plus, some of which have been on the books for more than 40 years:

1950 -- Mental health department required to determine the nationality of any person admitted to a state facility and to report to immigration anyone determined to be an alien, §37.2-827 of the Code of Virginia;

1950 (last amended in 1994) -- Sheriffs and the department of corrections required to identify criminal aliens in Virginia jails and prisons and report them to the Central Criminal Records Exchange, §53.1-218 of the Code of Virginia;

1950 (last amended 1982) Clerks of court required to furnish court records to ICE regarding any alien committed to a correctional facility after conviction, 53.1-219 of the Code of Virginia;

1950 (as amended in 2006 and 2007) Crime to extort money from aliens by withholding immigration documents or threatening to report them to ICE, §18.2-59 of the Code of Virginia;

1977 -- Crime for employers to knowingly hire illegal aliens (although there is some question now if it is constitutional because of a federal law passed in 1986) §40.1-111 of the Code of Virginia;

1977 – Proof of legal presence required for unemployment compensation benefits, § 60.2-617 of the Code of Virginia;

1985 – Provides for transfer of criminal aliens to federal custody or to be held pending deportation, §53.1-220.1 of the Code of Virginia;

1985 (last amended in 1994) – Probation and parole officers required to ask about citizenship status and report to the State Police anyone who fails to produce evidence of citizenship; State Police required to review arrest reports from law enforcement and reports from probation and parole and report to ICE the identity of all convicted offenders suspected of being illegal aliens, § 19.2-294.2 of the Code of Virginia;

1993 – Aliens (except lawful permanent residents) prohibited from owning, possessing or transporting assault firearms, §18.2-308.2:1 of the Code of Virginia, and dealers prohibited from selling assault firearms to aliens (except lawful permanent residents), §18.2-308.2:2 of the Code of Virginia;

pre-1994 -- Strict domicile requirements for in-state tuition prohibit illegal aliens from qualifying for in-state tuition at our colleges and universities, §23-7.4 of the Code of Virginia;

1995- Aliens (except those lawfully admitted to permanent residency) prohibited from obtaining concealed weapons permits, §18.2-308 of the Code of Virginia;

1996 - English the official language of the Commonwealth, § 1-511 of the Code of Virginia;

2000 – Gun dealers prohibited from hiring illegal aliens to sell firearms, §18.2-308.2:3 of the Code of Virginia;

2003 -- Proof of legal presence required to obtain a Virginia drivers’ license or a state id card, § 46.2-328.1 of the Code of Virginia;

2004 – Persons not lawfully present in the United States prohibited from owning, possessing or transporting any firearm, §18.2-308.2:1 of the Code of Virginia;

2004 - Police officers given authority to arrest without a warrant anyone committing a crime who is an illegal alien previously deported after a felony conviction. § 19.2-81.6 of the Code of Virginia;

2004 – Compensation Board required to maintain records re: citizenship of inmates and to encourage local jails to participate in the USDOJ State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, Appropriations Act of 2004.

2005 -- Proof of legal presence required to obtain state benefits including welfare and Medicaid, §63.2-503.1 and §32.1-325.03 of the Code of Virginia;

2006 – Juvenile justice intake officers required to report to ICE any juvenile charged with a violent juvenile felony being detained in a secure facility who the intake officer has probable cause to believe is not lawfully present, §16.1-309.1 of the Code of Virginia;

2006- Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice required to coordinate with the Dept of Corrections requests for compensation from the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for the costs of incarcerating undocumented aliens, § 66.3.2 of the Code of Virginia;

2006 – Person who threatens to report someone as unlawfully present in order to extort money or pecuniary benefit is guilty of a class 5 felony, §18.2-59iii of the Code of Virginia;

2006 – Person who falsely identifies himself to a law enforcement officer guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, §19.2-82.1 of the Code of Virginia;

2006 – DMV required to send info it gets on noncitizens to State Board of Elections and State Board directed to remove names from election roles, §24.2-404 and §24.2-410.1 of the Code of Virginia;

2007 (HB 2923) – Establishes the Commission on the Prevention of Human Trafficking, §30-287 et seq of the Code of Virginia;

2007 (HB 1673) Establishes the Virginia Commission on Immigration, §2.2-2530 et seq of the Code of Virginia;

2007 (HB 1921 and SB 815) – Person who destroys another’s passport or other immigration document in order to extort money or pecuniary benefit is guilty of a class 5 felony, §18.2-59iv of the Code of Virginia;

2007 (SB 1192) – Allows the courts to assess as part of the costs taxed to the defendant the costs of any interpreter appointed for the defendant when the defendant fails to appear for trial and is convicted of a failure to appear and the interpreter appears in the case and no other case on the date the defendant is convicted, §19.2-164 of the Code of Virginia;

2007 (HB 2261) -- Penalties for residential overcrowding violations increased, §15.2-2286 of the Code of Virginia; and

2007 (SB1412) – Local zoning administrators given unprecedented authority to subpoena birth certificates and other personal documents in order to enforce local housing ordinances, §15.2-2286 of the Code of Virginia.

In the words of the NRA, is it possible that we have "all the laws we need" and that we "just need to enforce the laws we have"?

That's what's suggested in the report to the Crime Commission Task Force on Illegal Immigration and Law Enforcement which indicated that only 68% of 51% of sheriffs responding to the survey were complying with the identification and reporting requirements in existing state law. See copy of the survey results posted on the Task Force website here.

On the other hand, testimony of college and university officials over the past 5 years and evidence in this lawsuit challenging the refusal of Virginia public colleges to admit undocumented students makes clear that the current strict domicile laws are all that is necessary to prevent undocumented students from being admitted to 4 year schools as in-state students and even the community colleges that do admit students without documentation of legal status only do so as out of state (full pay, no taxpayer subsidy) students.

Before we put more unneeded "brochure bill" laws on the books, let's take a look at what's in place already and ask whether the current law is being implemented, and, if not, why not.

Sounds like a job for the new Virginia Commission on Immigration . All the members have been appointed and the Commission will start meeting to look at the costs AND benefits of immigration this fall.

Let's let the new Commissioners do the difficult job of gathering the facts and sorting through policy options and hear from the Crime Commission Task Force on law enforcement issues before we enact unnecessary, poll driven proposals or act out of ignorance and fear instead of fact and common sense.

Marriage Amendment Opponents are Very Much in the Mainstream of Virginia Voters

I am getting more than a little tired of folks who continue to try to claim that people and politicians who opposed the marriage amendment represent some fringe group of Virginians out of the mainstream, and, having won one election, can't resist playing the poor winners by continuing to try to use this issue to gain some ill-defined political advantage.

The absolute number of NO votes against the so-called marriage amendment totalled just under 1,000,000 (999,687 to be exact), just 26,255 fewer than Tim Kaine got in his winning gubernatorial campaign and 20,422 more votes than Bill Bolling got in his winning Lt. Governor’s race and 28,801 more votes than Bob McDonnell got in his winning race for Attorney General.

Yes, that’s right … more people didn’t want our constitution amended to include this deprivation of rights amendment than wanted either Bill or Bob elected to office.

Think about that … those of you who keep claiming that NO voters are “out of the mainstream” of Virginians.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

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

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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hoos Support for Hokies Makes this Alum Proud

The letter copied below from student leaders at Virginia Tech (sent to me by my brother Mike, another 'Hoo) makes me proud to be a graduate of the University of Virginia. Again, the younger generation teaches us that competition need not preclude compassion, that rivalries can be spirted and inspirational, that small gestures (finding candles) can be meaningful.

Thanks to all of the current students at UVA (and the administration supporting them) who, standing with their brothers and sisters at Tech in this most difficult time, have made this UVA alum stand just a bit taller, misty-eyed and all.


Letter to the Students and Administration of the University of Virginia

Date: April 17, 2007

On behalf of 30,000 students, administrators, and our Virginia Tech community, I cannot begin to express our gratitude for the outpouring of sympathy, support, and compassion UVA has shown us in the past two days.

It is an understatement to say the aftermath of our losses has been emotionally trying for us. The realization of losing 32 valuable lives in our Virginia Tech family is something that we are trying desperately to recover from...but even in the most difficult day of Virginia Tech history, we have found strength-it is your university in particular that has sustained us, far beyond what you will ever know.

We thank you for your students and faculty that gathered to memorialize our victims and to share in our sorrow.

We thank you for the initiative and commitment your student government made towards finding 30,000 candles for our grieving campus, so that our student leaders could focus on healing and comforting instead.

We thank you for the hundreds of Hokies who saw your painted bridge, and were moved to tears.

We thank you for the way your students instantly put aside our infamous rivalry to the point where the greatest measures of compassion from another institution have been from you.

Your aid has had such a profound impact upon our students. Please know what UVA is doing is being noticed, is making a difference, and is nothing short of extraordinary.

Thank you for being a testament to the best of collegiate student leadership-and to humanity in general. In what we have been calling the darkest night Virginia Tech has ever seen, you are one of our brightest lights. The strong alliance that has been formed between our school and yours is part of our foundation in moving forward.

From our hearts to yours, thank you for your noble efforts. May you also find solace and restoration as we grieve together as students and as a nation.

In or out of times of need, Virginia Tech will stand beside you as fellow students, Virginians, and most importantly, as friends.

With gratitude,

Elizabeth Hart on behalf of Virginia Tech students

Virginia Tech Student Government Association

Director of Public Relations

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Edwards Story

I'm always amazed at the ability of some people to see themselves as knowing what's "right" for everyone else.

Today, there's been a lot of that judgmental pap threading its way through (mostly Republican) blogs. The same sort of people who write letters to the editor telling women (not men) they shouldn't seek public office if they have small children at home (even where Dad has volunteered to take on the primary child care role) are out in force on the blogs today telling John Edwards that a "real man" would quit his campaign and go home to "there,there" his wife all day while she lives like she is dying.

Others are flogging Edwards for holding a news conference to discuss his wife's health portraying him as a candidate desperate for press coverage ... a narcissist looking for the spotlight.

Read some of the 86 comments on this post for a taste of what I'm talking about. Nice contrast is this post on The Ward View.

Who here doesn't know that the Edwards faced a choice when she got the diagnosis ... put the story out there their way or wait for the news to leak (probably on some blog using an unverified, "reliable source" ... oh, wait ... that already happened this morning). When you're running for president, as we've learned, nothing is private. So, the Edwards chose the better of the Hobson's choice they were facing ... look like they were hiding something while info oozed out or do a show and tell and get criticized for doing that.

Frankly, if I were Elizabeth Edwards modeling the behavior I'd want my children to learn from, I wouldn't go home to die and ask my husband to come hold my hand while I was doing it either. Elizabeth has chosen to live while she may be dying rather than to die while she is still living. A strong, positive message for her kids, who I am sure will receive all of the love and support that their parents can give them in this difficult time.

Now we didn't hear all these sanctimonious people telling Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis to pack it up and go home to be with her husband, ride her horses and die when she announced the recurrence of her breast cancer did we? Nope. It was "keep her in your prayers." "As she did in informing constituents of her diagnosis and treatment throughout the past 16 months, Davis will serve as a role model and educator for other women facing the challenge of ongoing breast cancer."

Not one pundit I could find lambasted Davis for not putting her husband first and going home to spend time with him, her children and her grandchildren while she is facing the same kind of prognosis that Edwards is. In fact, after Davis was first diagnosed with cancer, folks were downright cranky that someone was suggesting that Davis might be vulnerable to a primary because of her fragile "health."

So, what's that about? Partisan perspectives. Why Scarlett ....

The lesson here ... be true to yourself. Others will try to make you into something that you are not. Stay authentically you. There really isn't a choice. Ultimately, folks will "see" who you are and what you are made of. If you're running a scam, it will become clear. If you are not, that will become clear, too.

May Elizabeth and John Edwards continue to look forward with optimism and make the life choices that work best for them. May their family be rewarded with years of joy and success in achieving their life goals. May they find peace and love between the difficult moments and the tears.

May all of the "carpers" and "know betters" go home to their own lives (if they have them) and make their own life choices.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nebraska 1923 Revisited

Just to prove that history does repeat itself, check out this 1923 Supreme Court decision invalidating a Nebraska law that forbid the teaching of German.

Here's what the lower court had said was the reason for the law:
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. [citations omitted]

And, here's what the Supreme Court said in reversing the Nebraska court on constitutional grounds:
The desire of the Legislature to foster a homogeneous people with American ideals prepared readily to understand current discussions of civic matters is easy to appreciate. Unfortunate experiences during the late war and aversion toward every character of truculent adversaries were certainly enough to quicken that aspiration. But the means adopted, we think, exceed the limitations upon the power of the state and conflict with rights assured to plaintiff in error. The interference is plain enough and no adequate reason therefor in time of peace and domestic tranquility has been shown. ... As the statute undertakes to interfere only with teaching which involves a modern language, leaving complete freedom as to other matters, there seems no adequate foundation for the suggestion that the purpose was to protect the child's health by limiting his mental activities. It is well known that proficiency in a foreign language seldom comes to one not instructed at an early age, and experience shows that this is not injurious to the health, morals or understanding of the ordinary child.

Every period of immigration has resulted in the same cycle of fear, ultimately unnecessary and ham-handed attempts at forced assimilation, and legislative isolationism.

As Santayana said: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

What's next ... shall we repeat the experience with internment of the Japanese?

How many more apologies will future Virginia legislatures need to offer?

"We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future." George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Undocumented Students and In-State Tuition

In his new role as blogger turned press flak for the Republican Party of Virginia, Sean Kenney is "posting" press releases up daily that attack various Democrats for their votes, particularly on immigration related issues.

So, let's examine one of the votes that he flogged the media with this week ... David Marsden's vote on HB 2623, Jack Reid's bill to deny undocumented students the opportunity to prove on a case by case basis whether they can meet the standard for in-state tuition.

Let's begin by adding a few facts to the hot rhetorical mix:

1) under current law no one can qualify for in state tuition without proving that they are domiciled in Virginia; see, the Code Section here.

And, the many pages of regulations, starting here.

2) Very few if any undocumented children can meet the current legal and regulatory standard.

So, what would the bill that Marsden voted against do?

It would deny any child who is undocumented the chance to prove that he/she can meet the same eligibility standards for in state tuition as are applied to anyone else.

One young woman who testified in committee against the bill, has a work permit, is paying state taxes (as are her parents) and has lived in Virginia most all of her life. Yet, because she is still in the process of adjusting her status (papers were filed years ago; there was a fraud committed against the family by someone purporting to offer immigration services), under Reid's bill she couldn't even apply to be considered for in-state tuition.

And, for all you guys worried about in-state tuition and slots for Virginia taxpayers ... while this young woman, who is a Virginia taxpayer, was waiting to testify, she had to sit through more than an hour of committee discussion of the many ways that they are changing the law to allow military dependents, (who do not pay Virginia taxes and whose parents choose to have their tax home elsewhere and do not pay Virginia taxes) to qualify automatically for in-state status.

I support the troops and military wives and families, but as a military brat whose father CHOSE to keep his tax home in another state when I was in high school in Virginia, I have no sympathy for those in the military who want the benefit of our Virginia colleges at in-state rates but refuse to become state taxpayers. It wasn't a privilege offered to me when I graduated from high school in Virginia nor did I think that it should be.

Voting against Reid's bill doesn't do anything but preserve the status quo which is simply this:

Everyone living in Virginia has the same opportunity to prove that they are in-state residents on the same standards as everyone else (military families excepted). Very few, if any, undocumented students will be able to meet this standard and there is little evidence that any have done so in the past.

So, the bill Marsden voted against is nothing more than a campaign inspired, do nothing message bill, and we all know what the message was.

Marsden and others were right to vote no.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Book Quiz -- A Little Too Close to Home

I took the book quiz that Vivian suggested and it turns out I'm Compassion Fatigue! by Susan Moeller

You used to care, but now it's just getting too difficult. You cared about the plight of people in lands near and far, but now the media has bombarded you with images of suffering to the point that you just don't have the energy to go on.
You've become cold and heartless, as though you'd lived in New York City for a year or so. But you stand as a serious example to all others that they should turn off their TV sets and start caring again.

Feels too damn accurate. Not a good sign on the eve of a General Assembly Session that will be bogged down in anti-immigration and other mean-spirited legislation.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Political Ill Wind?

Today in Austin, Texas, city streets were shut down in the State Capitol on the eve of their legislative session because 60 pigeons, grackels and sparrows were found dead. I've heard of political hot air but this seems to be a new form of political toxic cloud accompanying the arrival of their state legislators.

And, in NYC, another ill wind was blowing.

Hmmmm. Better be careful to stay away from Jamestown on Wednesday. Oh, that's right, there's no room for the public anyway.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gathering Change... New Music

Well, this isn't about a big idea, and it's not a "musing". It isn't even about politics. Just a sister bragging on a brother.

My brother Gus Guthrie (a Fairfax County art teacher nominated for teacher of the year) is a multi-talented guy. You can hear his latest music project, a CD on which he does lead vocals, called Gathering Change, here.

If you can get past this saccharine slop, "a beautifully crafted platform for listeners to hear Gus Guthrie’s soulful and sincere voice", you might actually enjoy the music which is a bit folk, a bit Latin with a hint of the islands.

You can also hear Gus' band, No Better Off, on Saturday night, January 6th at Bangkok Blues in Falls Church. More info here.

So, walk away from the keyboard and the blog wars and go take a listen.

UPDATE: XM Cafe is playing selections from "Gathering Change" in its Nude Music Review. XM Cafe is Channel 45 on XM Radio. Here's the schedule if you want to catch a song:

Nude Music Revue
Monday - Midnight ET Listen to new music every week on the Nude Music Review when XM Café - XM 45 plays multiple tracks from the latest CDs. Encores:Tuesday - 9 PM ET Wednesday - 3 PM ET Thursday - 9 AM ET Friday - 3 AM ET

And, No Better Off is appearing at Stacy's Coffee House at 709 W. Broad Street in Falls Church on Saturday night, February 10th from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.