Dr. Rand Paul or: How I Learned To Fear the Tea Party

When Rand Paul won a primary last Tuesday, becoming Kentucky’s Republican nominee for the Senate, he declared himself a national leader of the Tea Party movement.  It was an important moment for the movement as it, coming on the heels of the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, served as another step in its potential transformation from a loosely confederated group of grassroots groups into national level political force.  But, as Dr. Paul’s attacks on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 just two days later highlighted, the true implications of the movement’s ideology are chilling to say the least.  

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers the Az bill, federal policy, and more...

President Calderon of Mexico says Arizona's new immigration measure will promote discrimination during a visit to the White House.  President Barack Obama also stepped up his criticism of Arizona's illegal immigration law, calling it "misdirected" and warning that it has the potential to lead to discrimination as well.

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The Opportunity to Change

The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday that sentencing young people to life in prison without the possibility of parole for nonhomicide crimes violates the Constitution’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment provision. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, upholds basic constitutional principles of opportunity, rehabilitation, and the capacity of young people to grow and change over time.

“A State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime,” the Court said. “What the State must do, however, is give defendants … some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Requiring the possibility of parole for youth in nonhomicide crimes is the right decision under the Constitution, and the right outcome for our country. It is no guarantee of release in any particular case, but, rather, a guarantee that our criminal justice systems must provide for careful review to determine whether, years later, young offenders continue to pose a threat to the community.

The decision also recognizes that young people’s brains and emotions are still developing. They must be held accountable for crimes they commit, while acknowledging their greater capacity for change.

The states should respond to this decision not only by abolishing the sentence of life without possibility of parole for young people—which they must do under yesterday’s decision—but also by improving their rehabilitation programs for all people in prison. Better preparing incarcerated people to reenter and participate productively in society is a smart response to the Court’s decision, and is in our national interest.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's Immigration Blog Roundup covers the nation-wide response to the Arizona immigration bill, policy news, and more...

While the Arizona Governor defends her state's new immigration bill the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association says the state has lost 23 conventions scheduled from this summer to 2013 and between $6-million and $10-million from those meetings since Brewer signed the bill about three weeks ago.

Another controversial bill signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer bans an ethnic studies program in the Tucson school systemHB 2281 bans schools from teaching classes that are designed for students of a particular ethnic group, promote resentment or advocate ethnic solidarity over treating pupils as individuals and bans classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.  The ban targets a Mexican American studies which is supported by a court-ordered desegregation budget, and is part of the district's initiative to create equal access for Latinos.

A growing number of conservative evangelical leaders are openly criticizing Arizona's new immigration bill and lobbying republican leaders to support comprehensive immigration reform.  Influential evangelical activists such as Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy wing, Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law, and Samuel Rodriguez, an influential Hispanic evangelical figure are currently trying to draft a consensus evangelical position on immigration reform.

City Councils around the country are demonstrating their disapproval of the new Az. bill.  San Francisco, Los Angeles, and DC are considering boycotts while other cities and states are reporting that they may also consider taking action if the bill goes into effect in July.

Lastly, USCIS has created a new green card that is actually green.  The new card incorporates holographic images, laser engraved fingerprints and radio frequency identification chips that will allow Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry to read the card from a distance.


Keeping the Faith

With the massive march on Washington DC and the passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona, immigrants in general, and a potential immigration reform bill specifically, have taken center stage in the American political debate.  But, buried within these political questions—Will an immigration bill come before a climate change bill? How will the debate affect voter turnout in November?—is a more fundamental, and far more important set of questions about who we are as a nation.  These questions—Do we rise and fall together? Do we remember the stories of how our own ancestors came to this country?—cannot be answered by facts or figures.  No, to answer these questions, we must turn to our values.

As a nation, we can embrace the value of being a welcoming community, or we can wall ourselves off from the rest of the world.  We can work with communities of new Americans to be sure that they have the tools to be healthy and productive members of society, or we can isolate them, ensuring that they will never be able to fulfill the very same dream that has brought people to this land from across the world since our founding.  We can talk to and about each other in a way that conveys mutual respect, or we can give into the darkest and cruelest back alleys of our minds.

Throughout the debate, we as a nation will be well-served by taking the high road, and remembering that the overwhelming majority of people who come to our country do so because they believe it will mean a better life for their children and their children’s children.  And, we should remember to lift up those among us who are joining us on the high road.  With that in mind, I would recommend Lisa Miller’s recent piece on the role that American Bishops of the Catholic Church have played in pushing for real immigration solutions that uphold our values and move us forward together.  In their advocacy, the Bishops have clearly dug deep into their institutional values and remembered Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Rising Tides Don't Life All Boats

"As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats."
-John F. Kennedy

"Rising tides don't lift all boats, particularly those stuck at the bottom."
-Reverend Jesse Jackson

President Kennedy made that declaration in 1963. Since then income inequality in the United States has greatly increased. As reported by The Economist:

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Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

Criticized that the new immigration law would lead to racial profiling, the Arizona state legislature moved to change some of the laws phrasing, as reported by Andrea Nill over at Think Progress' Wonk Room.

One of those changes replaces the phrase “lawful contact” with “lawful stop, detention or arrest” to “apparently clarify that officers don’t need to question a victim or witness about their legal status.” However, the legislature also implemented a third change that some call “frightening.” As part of the amended bill, a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant.

What this ends up doing, however, is just expanding the net of whom can be interrogated. In an e-mail obtained by The Wonk Room written by a group responsible for writing the bill:

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A Representative Sample of the People Has Spoken

While it would be unwise for any politician to govern by focus group, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll offers some support and some clear suggestions for future action for the White House.  The poll, which was conducted in early February 2010, had 1,084 respondents – certainly a small group to be determining policy for 308 million Americans – but the results do resonate. 

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Keeping the American Dream in 2010 Alive

With or without government intervention? Public Opinion and Facts

Following a pro-longed debate over health care reform, a new legislative battle over financial regulation is under the way. What remains consistent in the public discourse and in Washington is the bone of contention: the role of government.

But what is it that we really argue about it? It could be many things such as the wellbeing of the people, the financial health of the country or America's leading role in world politics. In the bigger picture, a lot of what we are arguing and fighting for are embodied in the idea of the American Dream, that "dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" (James Truslow Adams).

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United Against Arizona S.B. 1070

Since its inception, America has been considered a land of opportunity for people around the world. The fabric of our nation is woven by the immigrant experience. And its colorful patchwork is a living witness to America’s success.

This is why Arizona's new immigration law is so wrong. The law is impractical, violates our values, and divides our communities. We need real solutions that embrace fairness, equal treatment, and due process. Our immigration system is broken, but disregarding our values is not the answer to fixing it.

The Arizona State legislature recently passed a bill entitled, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (S.B. 1070), which, among other provisions:

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