Momentum is building for immigration reform

From our Restore Fairness blog-

Could the conversation about immigration finally be changing?

Following the Obama administration's determination in February that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples, Attorney General Eric Holder last week requested that the immigration appeals court consider granting legal residency to an Irishman in a civil union with an American man. A Newark judge also suspended the deportation of Henry Velandia of Venezuela-- who is married to  American, Josh Vandiver-- in order to allow time for the court and the Department of Justice to determine under what circumstances a gay partner might be eligible for residency. These recent steps are a welcome indication that the Obama administration is working toward a fair and just policy towards bi-national same-sex couples.

In 2009, Restore Fairness used the power of documentary to tell the story of one such family, who was facing separation because their domestic partnership wasn't recognized under DOMA. The video gives a voice to Shirley Tan, who came from the Philippines decades ago and built a life with her partner Jay, giving birth to twin boys and becoming a full-time mother. When we spoke to her, Shirley faced the biggest challenge of her life as she fought to stay on in the United States, crippled by laws that do not allow gay and lesbian couples to sponsor their partners.

Watch the Restore Fairness video of Two Moms Fighting to Stay Together.

In another positive step for immigration, the state of Illinois last week became the first state to entirely opt out of the so-called "Secure Communities," which requires local police to send fingerprints of all arrestees to federal immigration databases, with immigrants who are found "deportable" being directly pushed into the deeply flawed detention and deportation system. This costly program threatens to reduce trust between local law enforcement and communities, encourage racial profiling and separate families. However, despite Illinois Gov. Quinn's decisive announcement, and increased resistance from states and police departments across the country, the Department of Homeland Security has said that they will not allow Illinois to withdraw. In another indication that partnerships between ICE and local law enforcement are on the increase, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law on May 13, an immigration bill that would give local police the authority to question suspects about their immigration status. This law, which is being compared to Arizona's SB1070, could lead to decreased trust between local police and communities, and increase the occurrence of racial profiling. The law has been met with much criticism already. Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, reacted-

Today is a dark day for Georgia. Our concern stems from the very serious economic repercussions that will be felt against our state on numerous fronts and the very serious civil and human rights abuses that will also likely follow...

This trend of states being given greater control of immigration policies, which is actually a federal issue, signals a threat to the otherwise positive momentum in the immigration movement. Joining the opposition to the "Secure Communities" program 38 lawmakers earlier this week sent a letter to New York Governor Cuomo urging him to terminate Secure Communities in New York State. Religious leaders from many faiths, joined by advocates and community members, yesterday held a vigil outside Governor Cuomo's Manhattan office, to request him to stop unjust deportations. Speakers at the vigil applauded Illinois for withdrawing from Secure Communities and urged New York to protect New York's immigrant communities by doing the same. You too can take action against Secure Communities, contact your state Governor to help your state withdraw from the program.

In another update, Senator Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Reid (D-NV) yesterday introduced the DREAM Act in the 112th session of Congress. If passed, it could positively impact the lives of 2.1 million young people in the United States. Despite the regained impetus of the DREAM Act this year, the movement lost the support of its third and final Republican politicians. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) abandoned his previous support for the DREAM Act and joins Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who have already denounced their support. Senator Lugar blamed President Obama's increased politicization of the issue for his withdrawal, even though it seems he has made the decision because of a rising Tea Party challenger in the Primary. However, many feel optimistic about the renewed chances of the bill this year. The DREAM Act's failure in Congress last December was a huge disappointment, but the movement, supported by President Obama, is only getting stronger. And with your support, we can take this step forward in ensuring that young people who have worked tirelessly to build their lives in America- and contribute to the society- enjoy the rights they deserve.

The passage of the DREAM Act would benefit people like Emilio, a young man who was brought to the U.S. by his parents at the age of six. Speaking about his American identity, the only one he has ever really known, Emilio said-

“I went through elementary, middle, and high school in North Carolina, and it is the only place that I call home.  I graduated from high school in 2010 as one of the top ten students in my class, as an honor student, an AP scholar with hundreds of hours of community service, and I was awarded a full-ride scholarship to my first choice university.  However, unless the broken immigration system is fixed, when I graduate from college in four years I won’t be able to use my college degree.  My dream is to give back to my community.”

Immediately prior to the re-submission of the DREAM Act in Congress came a speech by President Obama to border communities in El Paso, Texas earlier this week. Obama reiterated his commitment to fair and just comprehensive immigration reform. He expressed his support for the DREAM Act, for keeping families together, and for visa reform. While this is not the first time we have heard these commitments, there is no denying the positive momentum that is building toward preventing the injustices caused by a broken immigration system. When we deny fairness to some, we put all of our rights at risk. Join Restore Fairness in our commitment to telling stories, inviting conversation, and inspiring action that will help America move even further in the right direction.

We strongly believe in the power of using culture to change culture. We're using our new Facebook game, America 2049, to weave human rights issues-- especially racial justice and immigration-- into each week of game play. As we continue to tell these stories in the hope of changing the conversation, we ask that you play America 2049, and join the dialogue and action that will move us forward.

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DGA Calls Nathan Deal "Georgia's Christine O'Donnell"

Seeing a chink in the armor of Republican Nathan Deal after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that he's teetering near bankruptcy, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) sought to exploit the weakness by raising questions on his ability to effectively manage Georgia's finances.

In a blog entry posted on its site Wednesday, the DGA called Deal's financial troubles "Christine O’Donnell-esque."

Nathan Deal, who has already been named one of the most corrupt members of Congress for lining his own pockets, now appears to be having Christine O’Donnell-esque problems with his house. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Deal is in such dire financial trouble that he must sell his home to avert foreclosure.

Just who you want in charge of your state’s finances.

DeRose, Emily (2010-9-15). Georgia’s Christine O’Donnell. Democratic Governors Association. Retrieved on 2010-9-16.

Christine O'Donnell, who won the Delaware Republican Party's U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday, has faced questions about her personal finances after a media investigation found that she was "confronted by the IRS about unpaid income taxes and sold her Wilmington home to a campaign staffer to avoid a sheriff's sale ordered to settle mortgage claims." [Gibson, Ginger (2010-3-20). Delaware politics: O'Donnell faces campaign debt, back-tax issues. The News Journal (Delaware). Retrieved on 2010-9-16.]

A recent SurveyUSA poll centering on Georgia's 2010 gubernatorial election shows Republican Deal leading Democrat Roy Barnes by eleven points [Ofgang, Jeff (2010-9-13). Deal Leads Barnes in 13WMAZ Poll. WMAZ-TV (Macon, GA). Retrieved on 2010-9-13.].

However, some are questioning the accuracy of the numbers following a polling model that incorrectly places the male composition of likely voters at 54%. Statistics from the Georgia Secretary of State Elections Division show that, over the past twelve years, male voters have averaged about 45% of the Peach State's electorate. Women, on the other hand, have made up about 55% of the state's electorate.

The SurveyUSA poll shows Barnes and Deal tied among likely women voters with 46% a piece.

Georgia Congressmen Angry At Biden For Not Being Invited

Two Georgia Congressman are angry at Vice President Joe Biden for what they say was a violation of White House protocol.

Paul Broun and Nathan Deal, both Republicans, say they weren't invited to Dawsonville, Georgia's Impulse Manufacturing plant where the Vice President announced $33 million in stimulus funds to bring broadband access to north Georgia.

Biden appeared on Thursday with Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) to tout the effects of the stimulus law in Rep. Nathan Deal's (R-Ga.) district.

Deal said he was caught off guard by the media event. He explained that had it not been for Perdue's office making a courtesy call, he would not have known Biden was planning to appear in his district.

Deal's Georgia colleague, GOP Rep. Paul Broun, whose neighboring district will also be affected by Biden's announcement of stimulus dollars going into broadband development, said that he had not been invited either.

Hooper, Molly K (2009-12-17).  Georgia lawmakers: Biden snubbed us.  The Hill.  Retrieved on 2009-12-18.

Really?  I mean, really?

These two Republicans are upset with the Vice President for allegedly leaving them off the invite list?  Really?  These two Republicans, who didn't vote for the stimulus bill in the first place, are angry that Biden didn't given them a little respect?  Really?  Congressmen Broun and Deal say they didn't know that Biden would be in town when the Atlanta Journal Constitution broke the news on Monday and the White House Press Office notified the media, including this blogger, the following Tuesday?  Really?

And Paul Broun and Nathan Deal are actually raising a ruckus about this to the media?  Really?  I mean, really?

There's more...

Georgia Congressional Filings

Not seeing an exisiting diary, I decided to create one.  Candidate filings for Congress, among other races, started April 24 and will end on April 28.  According to the Georgia Secretary of State's website, Democrats have officially filed in seven of the thirteen districts.  

Incumbent Democrats Sanford Bishop (2nd District), Cynthia McKinney (4th District), John Lewis (5th District), John Barrow (12th District), and David Scott (13th District) have already filed.  Democrats have found challengers in Reverend Jim Nelson (1st District against Jack Kingston) and John Bradbury (9th District against Charlie Norwood).  McKinney has a primary challenger in Hank Johnson and Scott in Donzella James.  Additionally, incumbent Jim Marshall (8th District), and challengers Patrick Pillion (3rd District), Stephen Sinton (6th District), Allan Burns (7th District), and Paul Blackwell (10th District) have not filed yet.  That adds up to eleven seats contested by Democrats.  We are currently, to my knowledge, not contesting the 11th District.  While it has a Republican incumbent and leans Republican, it is certainly not unwinnable.

The Republicans are officially contesting nine seats.  Incumbents Jack Kingston (1st District), Lynn Westermoreland (3rd District), Tom Price (6th District), John Linder (7th District), Charlie Norwood (9th District), Nathan Deal (10th District) and Phil Gingrey (11th District) have filed, meaning all seven Republican incuments intend to run for re-election.  Additionally, Republicans have found challengers in Mac Collins and James Neal Harris (8th District, presumably against Jim Marshall), Max Burns (12th District against John Barrow), and Deborah Honeycutt (13th District against David Scott).  The race for the 8th District nomination is the only current Republican primary.  Presumed Republican challengers Brad Hughes (2nd District against Sandford Bishop), Catherine Davis (4th District against Cynthia McKinney), and John Konop (6th District Primary) have not filed.  This adds up to Republicans intended to challenge 12 of the districts.  They other race, in the 5th, is not winnable by a Republican.

There's more...


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