Expanding immigration enforcement programs - more harm than good?

From Restore Fairness blog

Today as expected, the Department of Homeland Security has announced an expansion of programs that deputize state and local police to enforce immigration law. Even though immigration is a federal matter, in the post 9/11 world, many believe that immigration enforcement should spread to a local level as an effective tool against terrorism. But in actuality, the programs create an environment of fear that discourage immigrant communities from cooperating with the police for fear of deportation, risking community safety in the process.

To date, the performance of the 66 participating agencies in these programs has been controversial. While the programs are meant to catch violent offenders, the bulk of those who have been caught include undocumented immigrants caught for minor or no offenses, which for a citizen would mean a citation at most or being let off. What's been even more disturbing is the documented cases of racial profiling. As a Washington Post article reports,

Critics cited cases in which police conducted roadside stops and neighborhood sweeps aimed at Latinos and other ethnic groups, often arresting minorities for traffic and other minor offenses in pursuit of illegal immigrants.

The most controversial of the programs is the 287(g) program - notorious for its serious civil rights abuses and public safety concerns - but which according to the same article accounts for only a small fraction of the 135,389 illegal immigrants apprehended. The Department of Homeland Security made pledges to fix the program , leading to a new Memorandum of Understanding with participating agencies, that would ensure a focus on only serious and criminal offenders. But it "expects" rather than "requires" such a provision, thereby making cosmetic changes that would do nothing to stop local law enforcement committing illegal profiling under the cloak of federal immigration authority.

For the vast majority of immigrants that have been swept up into the programs, a whopping  94 percent were found by checks at local and state jails. Yesterday, we posted on the Secure Communities programs, a program that lets the police arrest someone on a traffic or other offense - even if the arrest is based on racial profiling - and then have their fingerprints checked against immigration databases during booking.  When the fingerprint scan gets a "hit," immigrants can end up getting carted off to an immigration detention center.  Again, nothing is being done to keep local police from using arrests on minor charges as an excuse to get immigrants into custody. And a new report from the Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity proves just that - police in Irving, Texas began arresting Hispanics in far greater numbers for petty offenses once they had round the clock access to immigration agents to deport serious criminal offenders.

Judging from the poster child of these programs, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose department in Maricopa County, Arizona, accounts for 20% of the nationwide arrests, allegations of racial profiling are not just hearsay. In an interview with CNN, Arpaio admitted that he judges undocumented people by "their conduct, what type of clothes they're wearing, their speech, they admit it". And even though the administration has taken away his powers to enforce immigration laws on the streets, he is claiming he doesn't need permission from the federal government and is planning an immigration raid to prove it.

It's disappointing that the administration is not only pursuing programs that have proven to be unbeneficial, but is expanding these in a move that makes little sense for those who understand the underlying issues.

Image courtesy www.ice.gov

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New CNN Ad Bodychecks Fox News Lies

Oh snap: "Fox News, distorting not reporting." It's quite sad that these petty squabbles pass for journalism in this day and age, but I think the glee I feel at watching a mainstream outlet call out Fox News' lies more than balances out that sadness.

I've always been more partial to Al Franken's line, "We Distort, You Deride."More anti-Fox rhetoric from CNN, ABC, and more here. Like, say, Rick Sanchez ranting below the jump. Seriously, I'm more of an MSNBC guy, but it's a pretty sweet rant.

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My Congressman is the Nation's Most Conservative Blue Dog

Update: A friend called me and said the town hall meeting was getting pretty crowded and crazy an hour beforehand when I was planning to show up 30 minutes early, so I didn't go. End update.

Of all the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Walt Minnick of Idaho might be the most conservative. And he's my Congressman.

If you've heard me call Paul Hodes my Congressman before, it's because I spent four years going to college in New Hampshire, but I'm back in my old high school stomping grounds of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho now, where Minnick narrowly beat one-term Republican Bill Sali last November. Minnick is certainly conservative: He voted against Obama's budget, a vote little ole budget hawk me agreed with. He voted against the stimulus, a vote I disagreed with but understood. He voted against cap-and-trade, and I was outraged. Now he's promising to vote against a public option and thus threatening to vote against health care reform.

No matter what you think of Minnick specifically or of the Blue Dogs in general, let me tell you something about the Congressman he beat, Bill Sali: I would rather be represented by Michelle Bachmann or Heaven-help-me Tom Tancredo than I would that fool. This was a man whose first bill was one to repeal the effects of gravity, who repeatedly insisted that abortions cause breast cancer, and who was opposed by the state's previous two Republican state speakers and both of his main primary opponents. And yet, if our second Democrat in five decades votes against both cap-and-trade AND health care reform, I will no longer be able to support him.

You may be asking, why am I bringing up Minnick now? Two reasons. One, I am going to try and attend a town hall meeting with him tonight, and two, he was profiled on the PBS NewsHour last night. Here's that clip, and I'll tuck a four-minute CNN piece from earlier this month after the jump as well.

The rodeo scenes are a fair enough depiction of this district, although the pictures of the lakes, forests, and timber trucks in the shorter CNN clip (after the jump) are a bit closer to home. Overall, these two pieces do a pretty good job of representing a Blue Dog's dilemma: On the one hand, if Minnick supports a liberal president's agenda, he will almost certainly lose re-election in one of the most conservative districts in the country. On the other hand, when health care reform failed in 1993-4, it was the conservative and moderate Democrats who paid the price, not the liberals. All politics used to be local, but that's changed with the 24-news-hour cycle. Perhaps Minnick's opposition to cap-and-trade and the public option is based on personal convictions, and if so, I probably won't support him but at least I'll respect him. If, however, it's political, he has to ask himself two questions: What's worse, a national wave or local backlash? And in his move to the right, will he alienate more Democrats than he picks up Republicans? It is the libertarian politics of this forested gem of a district far more than the opinions of New York, DC, or Los Angeles PACs and 527s that will be on Walt's mind next November. If you can understand that, then you understand a Blue Dog's dilemma.

I'll let you know how the town hall meeting goes, if I'm able to get in.

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By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?

Recently I watched the 2007 Lebanese film "Under the Bombs." The movie tells the story of the U.S.-supported Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Watching the movie reminded me of Just Foreign Policy's efforts with Jewish Voice for Peace and others to stop that war.

At the time, it seemed clear that the war could not go on indefinitely; the international community would not allow it. But how long would it be allowed to go on? If we could shorten it by one day, innocent civilians would live and not die. The 34-day conflict resulted in 1,191 deaths, the UN Human Rights Council reported. Using this figure, on average, each day of the war killed 35 more people; each day we shortened it saved 35 lives.

Today Afghanistan is holding the first round of its presidential election. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear from the campaign: the majority of Afghans are sick and tired of war. "There is broad agreement the war must end,"reports Carlotta Gall in the New York Times.

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MN-Sen: "Pulling a Norm Coleman" and NormDollar.com

This Dollar A Day To Make Norm Go Away campaign is great. Bumped - Todd

Republican sore loser Norm Coleman's endless and pointless appeals will not accomplish a victory for Coleman.  But ol' Normie can be proud that he has accomplished one thing: his name has become synonymous with "sore loser" to the point that "pulling a Norm Coleman" has entered the lexicon meaning "acting like a sore loser." To wit:

Larry King: `I'm not a sore loser. I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman'

Here's evidence that Minnesota's post-election battle for U.S. Senate has permeated pop culture. Al Franken and Norm Coleman were cited this week by contestants in another competition that attracted millions of partisans: the race between movie actor Ashton Kutcher and news juggernaut CNN to be first to gain one million followers on Twitter, the social-media phenomenon. ...

Here's a video clip of Kutcher on "Larry King Live" tonight (King's "Norm Coleman" comment comes at the 5:00 mark):

KING: I'm not a sore loser.

KUTCHER: No, you're not.

KING: I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman and take this to the courts.

KUTCHER: You have been gracious, very gracious.

While Coleman sore-losers it up, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have introduced a new effort: NormDollar.com, "A Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away." Very simply put, commit to contributing just one dollar per day for every day that sore loser Norm Coleman refuses to concede. (HT: MPP)

NormDollar.com

I don't know if this effort was inspired by Open Left's AdamGreen's post laying out a very similar fundraising strategy a little over a week ago, but it is exactly the correct approach to take to provide Republican leadership in Washington with adequate disincentive from continuing to fund Coleman's endless appeals.  You also have the option of chipping in a bit of change directly to the Franken Recount Fund.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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