Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"Walking the Plank" - Immigration

by Kyle Michaelis
Amazingly enough, the Nebraska Democratic Party's 2004 Platform was pretty well silent on the issue of immigration. As reported by the Lincoln Journal-Star in June, even Nebraska Republicans were then able to find some common ground on the issue, stating ever-so-vaguely:
We support, welcome and encourage the assimilation of all legal immigrants and others who are here by due process and are productive, law-abiding citizens.

In fairness to them, we support stringent federal efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

Well, I think Nebraska Democrats can do better than that - no matter how contentious, no matter how politically complicated. The problem is that I'm having a hard time coming up with the proper language. Care to lend a brother a hand?

Now, in my mind, there must be several components to a broad Immigration plank: first, a primary and immediate emphasis on securing our nation's borders. This may actually be a better fit under national security, focusing just as much on gaining control of our nation's shipping ports as our ports of entry for migration purposes. Clearly, there is legitimate danger in not taking action to cure these long-neglected but glaringly obvious failures of public policy that the Republicans have completely refused to touch over the last 6 years.

This, of course, would fit in well with Sen. Nelson's talk of "securing our borders first" and his suggestion that border security need not and should not be bogged down in the more divisive issues of complicated but ultimately necessary comprehensive immigration reform.

From there, however, I think Nebraska Democrats have an obligation to lay-out an agenda for the future that Sen. Nelson might not be quite so quick to embrace.

Amongst the proposals I'm considering is a declaration of support for a pathway to citizenship for those already in the country who have no criminal record. We have benefitted from these peoples' labor (or, our corporations have). For economic reasons, we have been complicit and even could be said to have encouraged the endless waves of illegal border-crossings. It is time for a total break from such short-sighted policy, but innocent laborers and their families who are already in the United States should not be made to suffer for such a long overdue transition.

You say it's amnesty. I say you're goddamn right.

I might also propose that the NDP stand in opposition to any sort of temporary or guest worker program that could forever undermine the American dream by excluding a class of people from its promise whose labor we are otherwise willing to exploit. Those who present no security concern pose no greater danger than they ever have and should be welcomed into our country and into full participation in our democracy in an orderly fashion. Anything less makes less of who we are as a nation and what we have always meant to the world.....what we must continue to mean to the world if we're truly serious about exporting freedom across the globe.

It also seems to stand to reason that Nebraska Democrats must call for vigorous enforcement of our nation's labor and employment laws, with harsher penalties for violating employers, to establish order in a system that will otherwise result in chaos from which no substantial progress will be made in any of the above immigration policies. People come here for work. So long as that work remains available to those who enter the country illegally, they will find a way to do so. With the threat of global terrorism, such conditions can no longer be tolerated.

So, what do you say? Do you think Nebraska Democrats can and should reach some sort of consensus on comprehensive immigration reform? If nothing else, I'm sure there's support for a vague call for securing our nation's borders, but - to leave that as the beginning and the end of the issue, an issue that we claim should be wholly separate from immigration in the first place - leaves a gaping hole in our party's statement of principles and positions.

We can do better than that. If I have any say in the matter, we will do better than that this weekend, though I'm receptive to your own thoughts, concerns, and proposals on this issue for which we can no longer hide from our better nature as both cautious and compassionate Americans.

In fact, beyond the quite reasonable concession to Nelson prioritizing securing our nation's borders (in its many forms), I'm quite comfortable with the language used in the national Democratic Party's 2004 Platform and believe it to be an excellent starting-off point:
We will extend the promise of citizenship to those still struggling for freedom. Today's immigration laws do not reflect our values or serve our security, and we will work for real reform. The solution is not to establish a massive new status of second-class workers; that betrays our values and hurts all working people. Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America. We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives, and offer more English-language and civic education classes so immigrants can assume all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As we undertake these steps, we will work with our neighbors to strengthen our security so we are safer from those who would come here to harm us. We are a nation of immigrants, and from Arab-Americans in California to Latinos in Florida, we share the dream of a better life in the country we love.

A tad verbose but a whole lot better than saying nothing. Wouldn't you agree?

7 Comments:

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

Kylie,

OK, now I can see even more that all of the dope you smoke has completely severed you from reality.

Do you recall, in your THC-induced haze, all of the protests that took place nationwide this past spring? In LA, where school kids were freely roaming the streets? In Omaha, where immigrants-right supporters marched downtown and then later in West Omaha?

Do you know why there were marching?

Because of HR 4437, a border-security bill which did not contain a guestwork statute.

So a Republican House passes this border-security bill that is so controversial that people take to the street, and you say "Republicans have ignored border security for six years"????

HR 4437 passed the House on 12-16-2005, and the issue was brought to light in the spring because of the Minutemen and the Senate's taking action on the bill.

If the NDP allows someone as stupid and stoned as you to be a delegate, then the NDP's situtation is absolutely hopeless.

I understand you were likelyy hiding in the basement of your college-party-house during these past four years or so, but most everyone I know realized this occured.

8/16/2006  
Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

Bulldog -

setting aside your incessent insults and your constant negativity (are you sure you don't work for the Ricketts campaign?)
- who is stupid?

Only an apologist for this do-nothing Congressional leadership would qualify the House-passed bill as an accomplishment.

For your information, a bill passed by only one house of the Congress is essentially the equivalent of doing nothing - it doesn't become law and no action is taken. A bill needs to pass BOTH the house and the Senate before it can be considrered "done".

So Kyle is right - the Republicans have done nothing for six years. In fact they've done nothing since 1986 - the last time they passed an amensty bill. that's 20 years in my book.

But I know you will somehow blame my substance abuse for my distorted thinking or you will accuse me of blind partisanship or you might just respond with "Ben Nelson cheats on his taxes". Bring it on. Your lack of education and sophistication so perfectly embodies the entire Ricketts campaign message of partisanship first, ignore the facts unless you've made them up youself, take a new position on every issue every day, and take credit for things that never happened (like border security getting "done.")

Thanks for a good laugh.

8/16/2006  
Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

nepol-misunderstander,

What about the 1996 immigration reform? Did you miss that one? That was passed by a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

So two chambers passing a bill is not enough? What if someone in the WH was unwilling to sign anything? Would you still call it "do-nothing"?

And yes, the House did get it done....are the House members supposed to physically force the conference committee to ignore the Senate's mistake of attaching a spending item in the bill? Since the Senate did this, it is out of order b/c spending measures must originate in the House. And if the R-controlled Congress skirts the rules of the Congress, put in place to make sure things are done properly, you would accuse them of "facism" and "cheating".

You are just a blind partisan, which is why you are irrelevant.

And by the way, the obstructionist tactics being employed by that wacko Pelosi and now Reid are what did Daschle in.

So go ahead and say I don't know what I am talking about, but I do, and obviously you don't.

8/16/2006  
Anonymous nepolwatcher said...

DB-
Thanks for making my point.

You said that the Republicans did something this year. they didn't. 1996 was ten years ago. not this year. And nobody remembers it because look what it accomplished - nothing.

Thanks. And if I'm so irrelevant why do you blow a 200-word gasket everytime I post something here?

cheers, buddy. And take an aspirin.

8/16/2006  
Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

ne-pol-misunderstander,

You are correct in that HR 4437 was passed in 2005, not in 2006...my mistake.

If 1996's bill was "nothing" then why did Bill Clinton sign it into law?

And what Rs did with HR 4437 was so controversial, there were near-riots....and of course the Dems like Hillary Clinton tried to say it would "jail charity workers and priests" who assist illegals, which fueled the fire.

Blow a gasket? Huh?

Why, because I can rattle off facts while you try to recite and understand your DNC talking points? And then muddle them anyway?

And thinking I work for Ricketts? His immigration stand sucks...he wants amnesty and no one else does....he'll lose based on that alone.

You are irrelevant because I am the only one paying attention to you, and that's because I enjoy proving you wrong and publicly (well, a site only read by six people isn't really public) humiliating you.

HR 4437 is a good bill, but that's why Hillary Clinton and these other fear-mongers stirred the pot....leaders don't scare people with misinformation like she does. I appreciate Nelson's siding with it...at least someone had it right in our Senate delegation.

8/16/2006  
Blogger Daily Bulldog said...

ne-pol-misunderstander,

You are correct in that HR 4437 was passed in 2005, not in 2006...my mistake.

If 1996's bill was "nothing" then why did Bill Clinton sign it into law?

And what Rs did with HR 4437 was so controversial, there were near-riots....and of course the Dems like Hillary Clinton tried to say it would "jail charity workers and priests" who assist illegals, which fueled the fire.

Blow a gasket? Huh?

Why, because I can rattle off facts while you try to recite and understand your DNC talking points? And then muddle them anyway?

And thinking I work for Ricketts? His immigration stand sucks...he wants amnesty and no one else does....he'll lose based on that alone.

You are irrelevant because I am the only one paying attention to you, and that's because I enjoy proving you wrong and publicly (well, a site only read by six people isn't really public) humiliating you.

HR 4437 is a good bill, but that's why Hillary Clinton and these other fear-mongers stirred the pot....leaders don't scare people with misinformation like she does. I appreciate Nelson's siding with it...at least someone had it right in our Senate delegation.

8/17/2006  
Blogger Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Let's look beyond the name-calling and remember the root causes of our immigration policy (or lack thereof). Our government, and especially the party currently in power, is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America. Keeping the borders open to illegal workers gives the monied interests cheap labor that can be intimidated and abused. Bush's guest worker program only gives more government oversight to the current system of using a vulnerable workforce to drive down wages.

HR 4437, which sought to chuck millions of illegals out of the country was intentionally ridiculous. It proposed to do the impossible, and in the process whip up the nativist vote. Those voting for it knew there was no way the Senate or the president would actually approve it, but it gave them plenty to run on in November.

We need to face facts and reform the racially biased immigration quotas to reflect the reality of those trying to come to our country. Allow many more people from Mexico and other points south to come here legally, so that they can live without fear, can be protected by our work laws, and contribute to our immigrant tradition.

I know a lot of people who have emigrated to the United States, and all of them speak highly nation's openess to immigrants, especially compared to other places in the world. Trashing this heritage would be a betrayal of America's best values.

8/17/2006  

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