Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Read on, no matter what your position, you should be OUTRAGED that democrats would prefer to bow to party politics and political maneuvering then face the issues in this country...
Immigration bill trashed
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
by Ruben Navarrette
The San Diego Union Tribune
Who killed immigration reform? The autopsy shows it was Senate Democrats.
It's tempting to put a pox on both parties. But it wouldn't be fair. Republicans were tireless in search of comprehensive, and bipartisan, reform.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined with U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to draft the guest-worker legislation, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., made that legislation central to what his committee sent to the full Senate. U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., were vocal in their support. Sens. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., offered a helpful compromise. And Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., showed leadership by reaching out to the other side.
Too bad you can't say the same for Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who was the villain
in this drama.
Hector Flores, president of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, told me he tried to impress upon Reid's office that it was important to get immigration reform done.
"Apparently, it fell on deaf ears," Flores said.
Reid claims it was GOP hard-liners who killed reform by running roughshod over Frist.
Baloney. The hard-liners had -- by all accounts -- no more than 30 votes, including those of conservative Democrats. On the other side, you had -- according to McCain -- as many as 70 votes.
A deal was at hand that would have offered legal status to some illegal immigrants. It would have made the GOP seem more Latino-friendly, but it would also have infuriated organized labor, which opposes something that was in the mix: guest workers.
After the Senate Judiciary Committee put out a guest-worker bill, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney issued a statement saying: "Guest-workers programs are a bad idea and harm all workers."
That did it. Senate Democrats sided with labor and sold out Latinos. The deal came undone because Reid refused to allow the legislation to go through the amendment process. Republicans had come up with as many as 400 amendments but whittled the list to 20. Reid agreed to proceed with debate on just three.
It was a masterstroke by Democrats. Labor is happy. And while Latinos are angry, there's always the chance that Democrats can fool them into channeling that anger toward Republicans.
Remarkably, it's working. At a protest in Washington Monday, one Latina held up a sign that read: "The GOP is losing my Latino vote." At another protest in Dallas, someone handed out registration leaflets urging demonstrators to vote Democratic.
Some Latino leaders don't think it'll be that easy. Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, told me: "I don't believe that it's wise for Democrats to come to our community and ask for votes by saying: "Hey, we kept an immigration bill from going forward.' People understand when they're being used."
Even so, it looks like Reid and the Democrats orchestrated the perfect deception. Trouble is, they left fingerprints.
The Washington Post said in an editorial: "Democrats -- whether their motive was partisan advantage or legitimate fear of a bad bill emerging from conference with the House -- are the ones who refused, in the end, to proceed with debate on amendments, which is, after all, how legislation gets made."
Frank Sharry, the executive director of the liberal National Immigration Forum, said in a statement: "We cannot escape the conclusion that the Democratic Senate leadership was more interested in keeping the immigration issue alive in the run-up to midterm elections than in enacting immigration reform legislation."
And Kennedy told The Associated Press: "Politics got ahead of policy on this." He then refused, according to the article, to defend Reid's performance. The story noted that, "Outside the Senate, several Democratic strategists concluded that the best politics was to allow the bill to die."
The moral: Marches and Mexican flags don't equal power. Labor uses millions of dollars in political contributions to take care of Democrats, and so Democrats take care of labor.
After the bill died, Democrats rubbed salt in the wound by insisting that Latinos had no choice but to stay on the liberal hacienda. Susan Estrich, who served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis in 1988, told Fox News that Republicans had blown their chance to win Latino votes and predicted that Latino support would help Democrats win both houses of Congress.
You see, in a twist on the famous words of one of their icons, Democrats no longer ask what they can do for Latinos, only what Latinos can do for them.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
umm Babalu made me hungry for Cuban food... being away from home in "gringo-landia" (as my family calls anything not Miami in the USA) it sometimes makes you really, really homesick for Mami's home cooking. Here are some Latin restaurants that include some Cuban comidita, they might not be the perfect, but it brings you a little closer to Cuban heaven...
- Banana Café & Piano Bar * 500 8th Street SE 20003 * 202-543-5906 * Capitol Hill (under a new chef, they make awesome sandwiches and a great stuffed yuca. The Miami Members of Congress love this place).
- Havana Café * 1825 First Street NW 20006 * 202-293-5303
- Cuban Corner Restaurant * 825 Hungerford Dr., Rockville, MD* 301-279-0310 (considered the best place for Cuban food in the Washington DC area)
- Cubano's * 1201 Fidler Lane, Silver Spring, MD * 301-563-4020 (owned by Cuban/Venezuelans, most dishes are great, others need a more authentic Cuban touch.)
- Lauriol Plaza * 1835 18th St. NW, Washington, DC * 202-387-0035 * Dupont Circle (owned by a fellow Cuban patriot. Most of the dishes are Mexican/Spanish but their Masitas de Puerco are amazing!!)
- Yuca * 1800 M Street NW, Washington DC * Farragut (nuevo-Cuban)
- Ceiba * 701 14th St NW, Washington, DC * (high class Nuevo-Cuban and Latin menu, very nice)
- Gua-Rapo * 2039 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209 * Phone: 703-528-6500 (dinner only, Latin, middle-eastern and Nuevo Cuban food)
- South Beach Restaurant & Bar * 7904 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda, MD
- Caribbean Grill * 5183 Lee Hwy, Arlington * 703 241 8947 (Cuban sandwiches and picaditos)
I left one out on purpose - Don’t go to Havana Village in Adams Morgan. Not only does it have a big Che picture (crap) the Cuban Interests Section people hang out there, and we all know they suck.
Most of the time if I really want Cuban food I just go home and make it myself. If you are ever in town let me know, i might make you some of my famous arrozz con pollo.
by Jack Kemp *
"My dear fellow immigrants," with these words President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent greetings to the annual convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution, after the organization banned the great black contralto, Marian Anderson, from singing at their Constitution Hall in 1939 simply because of the color of her skin.
Marian Anderson chose the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver her concert just days later, appropriately ending the concert with "God Bless America." Turning hate and ignorance into love and brotherhood is what marked the works of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Marian Anderson at the site of our American memorial to the Great Emancipator.
You ask, what's that to do with the immigration debate raging these past two weeks in Washington, D.C., and on talk radio all over America?
Well, to begin with, the voices of Roosevelt and Lincoln, preaching and practicing the American motto of "E pluribus unum," are all but absent these days, except for a few of those talking about fixing our broken borders and disabled immigration policies in humane, compassionate and progressive ways.
As President George W. Bush recently reminded us, America can still be a nation of immigrants while remaining a nation of laws if we treat people in the way we would want to be treated and find the right way of enforcement.
The most troubling aspect of this debate is the meanness of spirit toward immigrants, particularly those of Latino or Hispanic heritage. But, it's nothing new, as the Irish, Poles, Germans, Italians, Asians and others were treated the same decades and decades ago.
According to Michael Barone's "The New Americans," a closer look at the Great Migration of the 19th century reveals striking parallels to the current circumstances of the American immigration. The examples of two groups often cited by modern day advocates of restricting immigration - the Irish and the Italians - are particularly instructive.
During the last half of the 1800s and into the 20th century, more than 4 million Irish men, women and children immigrated to the United States. Fleeing the potato famine of the 1840s and seeking economic opportunity, Irish immigrants settled in urban areas starting in the Northeast and eventually spreading across the country. Many of these early immigrants did not speak English. One estimate held that at least one-third of them spoke little English.
What worries me first as an American and second as a partisan Republican from the Lincoln wing of our party, is the Republican Party. The House of Representatives is in danger of doing to itself in 2006, what it did in California in 1996 with Proposition 187 - turning into an anti-immigration party in a rather ugly way.
The House version of immigration reform would be a prescription for electoral and political disaster, not unlike what happened to our party in the presidential election of 1964, when Barry Goldwater, our nominee for president, voted against the Civil Rights Act.
The talk of 700 miles of walls, fences, federal troops, coupled with sending 11.5 million men, women and children back to their "home" countries is the equivalent of "police state" tactics advocated by the likes of Lou Dobbs and others who are not true leaders in the footsteps of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.
Yes, we must control our borders with more and smarter technology, specially trained border security agents, and better enforcement in the private workplace. Yet, we shouldn't be surprised if immigrants don't respect our laws if our immigration laws aren't respected or even enforced.
We must pass an immigration reform package that not only works, but is reasonable, respected and responsible.
I believe the Senate Judiciary Committee bill recognizes the realties of a "guest worker" program that provides our country with the workers we need, while requiring workers and employers to operate with transparency.
The Senate bill also creates a path to permanent citizenship that will, no doubt, be labeled by critics as "amnesty," when far from it, it includes enforceable penalties and makes punishment fit the crime. Those who commit felonies should be deported, but most of our so called "illegals" are in America for freedom, family and faith in our "dream" of equal opportunity.
And by the way, the federal law that caps highly skilled H1B workers at 65,000 a year, down from 195,000 in 2003, has led to a "brain drain" from the U.S. to Canada. This is counterproductive and counterintuitive to a 21st century, high-tech, globalized economy.
As I wrote in 2004, "Looking to the fall campaign season, I am hopeful that other Republicans will stand against anti-immigrant policies, stand up for free trade and stand behind wealth creation for the little guy by allowing workers to put a significant part of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, where they can acquire assets, property and the capital necessary to launch their version of the American Dream.
* Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe this is the only way to truly deal with the immigration debate. I also believe
1) America’s immigration system is broken
2) The US needs to protect our borders
3) We need stricter interior enforcement and harsher rules on employers who hire illegal.
4) A program to push undocumented people out of the shadows.
5) I believe in stopping illegal immigration, not stopping immigration. New immigrants are necessary for our thriving economy.
Because of this I support comprehensive immigration reform. The United States needs to protect our borders and crackdown on employers. By forcing them to follow the law, the demand for employment will go down.
The reason the current immigration laws haven’t worked is because the laws go against the natural laws of supply and demand. It’s a reality of history, if a law goes against supply and demand, that law will not work.
1 million of the 2.5 million new jobs created in the U.S. in 2004 went to immigrants, mostly Hispanics. 1 in every 7 workers in the U.S. in 2004 was born elsewhere – 40 percent of these are Mexican. Possibly 6-7 million are here illegally.
Currently the United States is at about 4% unemployment. That means that America is practically fully employed. The economy has continuously increased for more then a dozen quarters. States with high immigrant populations have higher GDPs then many third world nations. States like Texas, California, Florida and New York are constantly outdoing themselves in production and economic growth.
In a study done by UCLA, each and every undocumented worker had a gross economic contribution of $45,000 in California during the 1990s
While we can not reward illegal behavior with a full blanket amnesty, which is the wrong message. We can provide programs and new laws that pushes these people out of the shadows.
Yet Immigrants are not a drain on the economy. Immigrant workers help continue the cycle of job creation and growth essential for America’s economy Illegal immigrant workers pay about $7 billion each year in taxes – including $2.7 billion into Social Security, which they will never be able to collect.
We need a program to push them out of the shadows because millions are being exploited and living in poverty. By providing program that allows them to come out of the shadows they can better provide for their families and contribute to the communities they are currently living in.
While some skeptics want illegals out of the country because they think they take away jobs from Americans, that is not true. The CATO institute has shown that immigrants do not take jobs away from Americans – instead, they fill segments in the job market where most Americans are either over- or under-qualified. Immigrants act as a safety valve for the U.S. labor market, allowing the supply of workers to increase relatively quickly to meet rising demand.
Deporting illegal immigrants is not only economically unintelligent (the US already spends $56 million deporting people back to their home) but physically impossible. It would take busses stacked back to back from Anchorage, Alaska to San Diego, California to send them all back. On top of the additional monies needed for law enforcement to find them. Why spend so much money on a large group of people who have no criminal offense.
Instead go after terrorist, drug dealers or real criminals. Spend all that money on enforcing the border, build strong virtual walls. God. No one is against immigration reform or border security, we just want a sound policy that is in order to the American principles and tradition.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Chavez Governement Seizes 2 Foreign-Run Oil Fields
- Pres. Hugo Chavez has tightened his grip on Venezuela's energy resources following through on threats to punish international companies that resist government control of the nation's oil fields. Venezuela sized two oil fields from Frace's Ttoal SA and Italy's ENi SpA after the companies failed to comply with a government demand that operations be turned over to the states oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA or PDVSA, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Monday (Washington Post)
Venezuela: The Sickly Stench of Corruption
As a supporter of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, in the country's National Assembly, Luis Velásquez Alvaray was the author of a law to pad the supreme court with a built-in government majority—and give himself a seat on it. He is now embroiled in an epic exchange of corruption claims that go to the heart of the Chávez administration. Accused of taking kickbacks of $4m for a new judiciary building, he has retorted that drug traffickers are running military intelligence, that the brother of Jesse Chacón, the interior minister, is illegally lobbying for a bank, and that the minister is a pawn of organised crime. Such is the rot that the “Palace of Justice should be blown up”, he says.
Both Mr Velásquez and Mr Chacón deny wrongdoing and claim to have tapes incriminating the other. Mr Chacón still has the president's backing. But the allegations come as no surprise to Venezuelans on either side of their country's bitter political divide.
Mr Chávez claims moral superiority for his “socialist revolution” over “savage neo-liberal” capitalism. He was first elected in 1998 on an anti-corruption platform. In power, he has revealed a taste for designer suits and Cartier watches. He has placed several members of his family in government jobs. Such foibles apart, there is no evidence that he is personally corrupt. But he has repeatedly said that corruption and bureaucracy are his revolution's greatest foes. Eustoquio Contreras, a chavista on the parliamentary audit committee, says bluntly that if the government does not put a stop to corruption, “corruption will put a stop to the government.”
Venezuela has long been notorious for corruption. But in the past, at least the opposition held the job of auditor-general and often that of attorney-general, while the judiciary was bipartisan. Mr Chávez has grasped all the powers of state into his own hands, and eliminated all independent oversight of his government. The opposition argues that the inevitable result of this is graft on an increased scale.
Last year, Transparency International, a Berlin-based group, placed Venezuela a lowly 130th out of 159 countries in its annual survey of perceptions of corruption. It was one of a dozen countries where more than half of respondents said this had “greatly” increased. The government's response was tetchy. José Vicente Rangel, the vice-president and once an anti-corruption campaigner, claimed that the group charges countries a “tariff” for their position on the corruption table.
Under Mr Chávez, no prominent official has been jailed for embezzlement. That may now change. A small but emblematic case involves the grandly titled Ezequiel Zamora Agroindustrial Sugar Complex in Sabaneta, Mr Chávez's sleepy hometown in the state of Barinas, where his father is governor. Officially touted as “the most modern sugar mill in South America”, it is now a monument to a different kind of sweetener: the $1.5m in bribes, kickbacks and commissions that have delayed its opening were exposed in parliamentary hearings in February (after a newspaper broke the story).
Mr Chávez, a former army officer, presides over a regime which is as much military as civilian. An engineering regiment was told to build the sugar complex. It contracted out some of the work and charged a 10% commission on all contracts, many of which went to companies belonging to friends and relatives of the regiment's officers. Many of these companies did no work at all. The regiment's commander paid for a $25,000 pick-up truck for his brother with a cheque from the mill.
The project's director, Antonio Albarrán, told parliament that although he had known about the kickbacks since early 2004, he kept quiet because “we were in the middle of campaigning” (to defeat a recall referendum against the president). By the end of 2004, Mr Chávez had been told, but chose to maintain the policy of secrecy, opting to deal with it as a matter of military discipline. He also promoted Mr Albarrán, making him agriculture minister in January 2005. Several suspects are under arrest, but Mr Albarrán, though no longer a minister, is not.
In half a dozen previous cases under the Chávez government, military officers have been accused by parliamentary committees, the auditor-general and others of embezzlement or misuse of public funds totalling hundreds of millions of dollars. None has yet been charged. Several still hold government jobs.
Civilians have not been immune to temptation. Mr Contreras cites half a dozen cases where the government's agricultural-development fund gave cheap credits to fake co-operatives, or which covered much more farm land than the village in question possessed.
Does the sugar-mill case presage a serious crackdown? Opponents note that a presidential election is due in December. At issue will be whether or not a massive increase in public spending, funded by high oil prices, is translating into better public services—or whether, as the opposition claims, much of the money is being skimmed off. A few show trials of scapegoats would be politically useful.
What needs to be established is whether such cases are the exception or the rule, and whether they involve petty pilfering or grand larcency against the state and, as Mr Velásquez claims, massive bribery of its agents. The only way to get an answer would be through the fearless application of the rule of law. There is little sign of that. Dalila Solórzano, a former police officer, was hounded out of the force for pursuing a case against the head of the investigative police. “We've been in this struggle since 2002,” she says, “and no one has done anything. They talk a lot of rubbish because it's an election year, but the political will doesn't exist.”
Source: The Economist