Thursday, December 17, 2009

Immigration Overhaul gets little attention from press, President Obama

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.),

This article from the LA Times reports on the immigration overhaul proposed yesterday by Luis Gutierrez.  Surprisingly, the announcement has gotten little attention here in DC--the Washington Post posted a story on its website on Tuesday evening from the Associated Press, but neither the Post or the NY Times featured a front-page story on the legislation.

What gives?  This could be the most important piece of domestic legislation introduced for debate in 2010.  And it's a slow time for news.  Shouldn't immigration reform get some attention? A word of support or congratulations from President Obama or Janet Napolitano?

Perhaps it's Christmas, but Rep. Gutierrez's proposed legislation, which is much more pro-immigrant than bills proposed in recent years, isn't getting the reaction that I would have expected.  That is to say, it's getting NO REACTION.

Here are the basics of the plan:
  • It suspends Operation Streamline (an euphemism coined by Bush's Michael Chertoff, to describe a program that files criminal charges against all border-crossers).
  • It improves detention conditions, by preserving family unity, avoiding unnecessary separations, and ensuring humane treatment of detainees.
  • It strengthens protection during enforcement activities, by making such activities subject to court review, allowing legal access and other services to detained immigrants, and repealing the 287(g) program, making the federal government the only enforcer of federal immigration law.
  • It prohibits the creation of a national ID card in the proposed employment verification system.
  • It makes a number of proposals to reduce the massive backlog in family and employment visa issuance (itself the primary source of "illegal" immigration in the country), leaning toward making more visas available to skilled workers who ought to be welcome in the U.S.
  • It makes a number of provisions to strengthen family unity, by allowing judges greater discretion in removal proceedings, for instance when a U.S. citizen child is involved. 
It all seems pretty reasonable, and certainly a step in the right direction.  

At this point, I'm concerned about our dear President.  He seems to have sold the farm on health care reform, and he's not acknowledging Gutierrez.  It leads me--a strong Obama supporter--to question what his goals are.  Is he here to protect the poor and working class?  Or is he Reagan-lite? 

If he and the Democratic Party don't stand up for these issues, who will?

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