"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vote Republican? Not Hardly

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

I was recently reading an article by Steve Sailer, movie critic for The American Conservative entitled, "What GOP Should Say to Hispanics - Vote like Americans." Sailer used information from the Hispanic Pew Center study released on October 5th. The survey - "Latinos and the 2010 Elections: Strong Support for Democrats; Voter Weak Motivation" attempted to explain Latino issues that might affect how Latinos vote.

The Pew survey polled Hispanics on the top seven issues which Latinos felt were the extremely important to the Latino community. Several earlier polls have shown immigration to be one of the top issues that Latinos want addressed by consistent governmental policy and legislation.

There is no doubt that comprehensive immigration reform remains one of the issues that Latinos have demanded from President Obama, and is seen as one of the main reasons his positive polling numbers among Latinos has plunged dramatically.

Sailer on the other hand took the latest Hispanic Pew survey to misrepresent the feelings of the Latino community, and used his article to demonstrate that Latinos are losing interest or steam when it comes to immigration reform. His premise was that among the top seven most important issues facing the Latino community, "Immigration reform" only placed 5th in order of importance.

Using that misdirected premise, Sailer goes on a mission to demonstrate that if the GOP reached out to Hispanics, and asked to them to vote "like Americans," Latino Democrats might consider the message, because most Republicans concur with Latino preferences as well. The Hispanic Pew study states their polling shows that while Latinos generally support the Democrats, there is little motivation to vote come the mid-term elections. It gets back to that "enthusiasm gap," that generally is being touted by the GOP as affecting all Democrats.

Sailer's main rationale is simple, but clearly out of step with reality and any sense of what the Latino community feels about immigration reform. I don't know of any Latino leader who proposes to have open borders and leave the border unsecured. Most believe that an acceptable pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who want citizenship should be part of any immigration reform.

I don't find most immigration reform proponents demanding that undocumented immigrants be deported in train box cars like "our American government," did during "Operation Wetback" in the 1950's.

What Sailer proposes is, "My conclusion: After a Bush-blighted decade, it's time for Republican candidates to address Hispanic voters directly over illegal immigration. As a general rule, human beings respond more constructively to being challenged than to being pandered to. Hence, GOP candidates should forthrightly ask for the support of Hispanic voters in opposing illegal immigration."

What an idiotic proposal and void of any political reality that anyone would actually think that Latinos would vote for Republicans, especially how in practically every race in the country, they have demonized and dehumanized undocumented immigrants, and now Sailer thinks we would even consider voting "like Americans," and vote for Republicans?

Looking back at the top issues that registered Latino voters find extremely important start with Education at 58%. Jobs at 54%. Healthcare at 51%. Federal Budget Deficit at 35%. Immigration at 31%. Environment at 29%. And finally the war in Afghanistan at 27%.

When you understand that while the American economy has edged closer to the brink of bankruptcy for the last two years and unemployment and loss of jobs has affected most Americans, it is understandable that Jobs and Federal Budget Deficit are among the top five concerns. While the Obama Administration claims national unemployment figures top out at about 9.2%, many economists will tell you, in the Black and Latino communities the unemployment rates are anywhere from 12% to 15%.

For over forty or more years the Latino community has demanded that something be done with the great social equalizer, education. Education rates first at 58%. With 50% or more Latino students dropping out of school, it is a national crisis that most Republicans probably don't even recognize.

The same concern also rises in the Latino community when it comes to a lack of affordable healthcare. Most Latinos or immigrants will stay away from the doctors and hospitals because medical care is not affordable. The problem is when most Latinos finally go the doctor; their health problem is far more serious than if they had taken care of the health problem earlier.

No Mr. Sailer, it should not surprise you that at this point in time, while most Americans deal with the Great Recession, most people of color, including Latinos are dealing with the Great Depression of 2010.

The Hispanic Pew survey should not be misleading, because consistently in other Pew surveys, most Latinos want comprehensive immigration reform taken care of. But when you can't find a job to put food on the table of a hungry family, pay the rent or mortgage, deal with higher prices for transportation or keeping the old car drivable, and worrying about what happens when one of the kids gets sick, or how to deal with the costs of healthcare, it is no wonder these issues float to the top of the extremely important issues facing the Latino community.

Also, don't be so ignorant as to think that if Republicans simply "challenge Latinos instead of pandering to them," by asking Latinos to support the GOP's hate campaign against undocumented immigrants will resonate in the Latino community. Demonizing, dehumanizing, and calling people "illegals," is not going to drive as you call Latinos, "unmotivated Democrats," to vote for Republicans.

In fact, your misguided attempt to challenge Latinos to vote for the GOP candidate because of our "Hispanic patriotism," is like asking us to commit treason.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years as a journalist. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; and in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety, responsible for the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Menendez/Leahy Immigration Bill of 2010

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the US Senate that includes some provisions that are certain to stimulate considerable debate among proponents of immigration reform. The coming days will determine a better perspective on whether the immigration reform coalition will continue to work together to push immigration reform forward.

For example, conservatives for immigration reform have called extending family based immigration or reunification for same sex couples as a "deal breaker." This particular provision has been discussed in the past, and perhaps making it more active to other groups seeking immigration reform, it may well create a barrier to continued support for some religious groups seeking to push reform in the Congress. While it is expected that this provision will ignite considerable debate, it will depend on the art of politics and compromise to see if the Menendez/Leahy Bill goes forward.

The enforcement provisions will also provoke considerable debate over what constitutes a "secure border," or is this simply a unattainable goal being used by the opponents of immigration reform to keep the security standard unreachable so that many provisions of the bill are not activated or triggered? At some point, enough is enough in terms of the dollars and human resources placed on the border. It is time to allow some provisions of the bill to put an end to the sacrifice and injustice suffered by many immigrant families without having to jump through so many Republican loop holes intended to delay or kill any effort for reform.

Already experiencing the failure of not being able to garner the support of any member of the "Party of No" to support the DREAM Act just last week, many critics are wondering why Senator Menendez would introduce an immigration bill that "probably will go not go anywhere in the Congress anyway." Senator Menendez has countered that criticism with the fact that this bill demonstrates the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. While Democrats are willing to push the debate on comprehensive immigration reform with a new proposal, the voters who have overwhelming indicated support for immigration reform, will see that it is clearly the Republicans who continue to refuse to consider any new proposals on reform and remain the impediment to passing comprehensive immigration reform any time soon.

In the coming days, as we all review the details of the Menendez/Leahy Bill, it will be clear that the debate over immigration reform will continue to point out the urgent need once and for all the importance of all parties affected by the legislation to sit down and find a bill that will be a just and righteous approach to extending a pathway to protecting and legalizing the status for undocumented immigrants who wish to remain in the USA.

Regardless of the potential barriers to a just reform bill, it is critically important that we all review the bill and join in the debate so our fight for comprehensive immigration reform is not perceived as a stumbling block to families separated and affected by a broken immigration system that penalizes and punishes their efforts to find a better life.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Here for your reading enjoyment are the fundamental points related to the Menendez/Leahy Bill on immigration reform:

Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D‐NJ) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D‐VT)

Title I – Border Enforcement
 Establishes border enforcement “triggers” that must be met before any unauthorized immigrants can apply for permanent residency.
 Requires DHS to review assets and staffing needed for border security and enforcement.
 Funds port of entry improvements and tools and technology, in line with this review.
 Expands Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) staffing, in line with this review.
 Improves training and accountability for DHS border and immigration officers.
 Enhances cooperation with Canada and Mexico, as well as local law enforcement agencies, to improve border security and coordinate crime fighting.
 Clarifies that the power to regulate immigration resides with the federal government, not states and localities, and that state and local police do not have the “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws (outside of 287(g) agreements).
 Involves border communities in enforcement policy through creation of a U.S.‐Mexico Border Enforcement Commission and a Border Communities Liaison Office.

Title II – Interior Enforcement
 Requires DHS to track the departure of noncitizens to ensure that individuals do not overstay their visas.
 Denies “visa waiver” privileges to countries whose citizens attempt to overstay visas.
 Refines existing law on illegal entry, illegal reentry and voluntary departure of noncitizens to ensure enforcement of those provisions and heighten penalties for those who commit serious offenses.
 Funds and expands the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to cover additional criminal justice costs borne by state and local governments.
 Enhances efforts to ensure that DHS does not mistakenly deport U.S. citizens and residents.
 Expands penalties for passport, visa, and immigration fraud; unlawful flight from immigration or customs controls; and gang activity.
 Expands other civil penalties and grounds of inadmissibility for certain criminals.
 Provides common‐sense rules governing the detention of families, elderly or ill immigrants, crime victims, and other “vulnerable populations” like torture survivors, as well as enforcement actions that involve children.
 Improves detention conditions to meet basic standards; expands secure alternatives to detention.
 Ends the waiting period for refugees and asylees to obtain green cards.

Title III – Worksite Enforcement
 Mandates the use of an employment verification system for all employers within five years. 2
 Creates a new fraud‐resistant, tamper‐resistant Social Security card; requires workers to use fraud‐ and tamper‐resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States.
 Requires the Social Security Administration to create a reliable and secure way of verifying Social Security numbers and work authorization.
 Adds criminal penalties for fraud and misuse of Social Security numbers.
 Provides protections for workers to prevent fraudulent use of social security numbers, correct government database errors, and combat employment discrimination.
 Creates a voluntary pilot program using biometric identifiers to demonstrate work authorization.

Title IV – Reforming America’s Legal Immigration System
 Creates a Standing Commission on Immigration, Labor Markets, and the National interest to evaluate labor market and economic conditions and recommend quotas for employment based visa programs that Congress and the President would act on. The Commission will be made up of the Secretaries of DHS, State, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture, as well as the Attorney General, Social Security Commissioner, and seven nongovernmental members appointed by the President.
 Creates the structure for a new nonimmigrant visa program (H‐2C) to address gaps in existing worker programs that have lead to undocumented migration. The number of H‐2C workers admitted to the program is completely dependent upon the Commission’s recommendations regarding the impact on the labor market and economy. Workers must have a job offer and meet various application requirements. Once in the U.S., H‐2C visa holders are able to change jobs, provided their new employer is authorized to hire H‐2C workers.
o The H‐2C program has various features to protect U.S. workers, such as: bars to use of the program in high‐unemployment areas; requirements for employers to recruit and hire American workers first; employer‐paid program fees; employer banishment from the program for improper use or misrepresentation; etc.
o H‐2C workers are eligible to apply for green cards after having worked in the U.S. for
four years, or immediately if they are sponsored by their employer.
 Significantly expands labor protections in current H‐2A, H‐2B, H‐1B, and L‐1 visa programs.
 Ensures that the number of family and employment green cards authorized by Congress do not expire because of processing delays; expands the share of visas that each country can access within existing quotas that limit overall immigration.
 Exempts certain immigrants from counting against the annual green card quotas so that they can immediately reunite with loved ones in the U.S., including spouses and minor children of green card holders.
 Revises unlawful presence bars to immigration so that individuals with family ties are not permanently banished from the U.S.
 Incorporates the AgJOBS bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for farm workers and revises agricultural employer sponsorship requirements.
 Incorporates the Uniting American Families Act, which allows permanent partners to access the family‐based immigration system.

Title V – Legalization of Undocumented Individuals
 Creates Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status for non‐criminal undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. since 9/30/10. Requires applicants to submit biometric and biographical data, undergo security and law enforcement checks, and pay a $500 fine plus application fees. LPI status lasts four years and can be extended. It includes work authorization and permission to travel abroad; immediate family members are also eligible for status under the program.
o Immigrants may apply for LPI status even if they are in deportation proceedings at the time of application or have an outstanding removal order.
o In order to transition from LPI status to Legal Permanent Residency (i.e. a “green card”), applicants are required to wait at least six years; pay taxes and a $1000 fine; learn English and U.S. civics; and undergo additional background checks. They will not obtain green cards before those who were waiting “in line” to immigrate as of date of enactment.
o The LPI program includes a level of administrative and judicial review, confidentiality protections for applicants and their employers, and fraud prevention measures.
 Incorporates the DREAM Act, which creates a path to legal status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, provided they meet age and other criteria and enroll in college or the U.S. military.

Title VI ‐ Immigrant Integration and Other Reforms
 Enhances programs and policies to help immigrants learn English and U.S. civics, such as: tax credits for teachers of English language learners and businesses who provide such training for their employees; a revamped DHS Office of Citizenship and New Americans to assist with immigrant integration; and grants for states who work to successfully integrate newcomers.
 Provides humanitarian immigration visas for Haitian children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake; Liberian nationals who fled civil strife and received Temporary Protected Status in the U.S.; and the immediate relatives of September 11th terrorism victims.
 Establishes a Commission on Wartime Treatment of European Americans and a Commission on Wartime Treatment of Jewish Refugees to review the country’s immigration and foreign policies during World War II.
 Improves access to interpreters in state courts.
 Evaluates the factors that drive undocumented migration from key sending countries and requires the State Department to develop a strategy to reduce migration pressures.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years as a journalist. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; and in law enforcement as the Manager of Public Safety, responsible for the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department, and Denver Sheriff Department for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.