Looking past Arizona’s SB1070 ruling this week, some lawmakers are toying with the idea of ending the “birthright citizenship, birth tourism or anchor baby” policies America currently has in place.
After the Arizona ruling came down Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News that “birthright citizenship” needs to be changed.
“I’m a practical guy, but when you go forward I don’t want 20 million more (illegal immigrants) 20 years from now,” he told Fox News. “Let’s have a system that doesn’t reward people for cheating.”
In the past lawmakers have tried to implement similar measures through the states, however Graham said he may try introducing a constitutional amendment.
“We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen,” he said. “They come here to drop a child – it’s called ‘drop and leave.’ … That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.”
If the Senator goes through the amendment process is will be a permanent solution but the process is much more difficult. Changing the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress as well as ratification by three-fourths of the states (38 states is the magic number to amend the Constitution).
Michael Wildes, an immigration lawyer and former federal prosecutor told Fox News, the push is a “pie in the sky” matter and didn’t believe it would survive any court challenges.
“It’s spiteful,” Wildes said. “These are U.S. citizens. … They’re babies that by the grace of God were born in one country instead of another.”
A similar measure was introduced in April of last year by former Congressman Nathan Deal. His proposed legislation would have stripped birthright citizenship from the 14th Amendment because he says the law only applies if one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant.
However the bill perished in the House despite the fact it had 92 co-sponsors.
The author of Arizona SB1070, Republican Russell Pearce has considered putting forth a similar birthright citizenship bill at the Arizona state level.
Pearce maintains the 14th Amendment, which was adopted after the Civil War, was intended to protect African Americans not to give every child born in the U.S. citizenship.
“Illegal wasn’t illegal then,” Pearce explained. “If you think about it, it’s illegal to enter the United States, illegal to remain here, but you get the greatest inducement you could possibly have – the citizenship of your child. … It was never intended to do that.”
According to NumbersUSA, a responsible legal immigration think tank, there are no European nations that grant birthright citizenship and Canada is the only developed nation other than the United States to provide citizenship to those simply born on a country’s soil.
Another birthright law was introduced in California dubbed the “California Taxpayer Protection Act.” The measure would have curtailed the birthright citizenship process; however the initiative failed to collect enough signatures to be on the November ballot in the Golden State.
“It’s been a long process to get us this far,” said Ted Hilton of Taxpayer Revolution, the group who authored the initiative. “I’d say we’ve been working on this for more than 10 years. I’ve consulted with many Constitutional attorneys to get it right.”
His hard work was put to the test and he vows to keep fighting for a change in the state’s citizenship law in the future. “California has been hit hard with illegal alien public spending that is out of control,” Hilton said.
Highlights of the proposed birthright citizenship bill included, applicants for state, local, and state-administered federal aid to verify lawful presence in the United States. Additionally, applications for public benefits submitted by undocumented parents on behalf of their lawful-resident children would be given to federal authorities.
According to the Attorney General for the state of California, who prepares the title and summary, the state would deny birth certificates to children born to undocumented parents unless the mother provides a fingerprint and other information to be given to the federal authorities.
Finally, the initiative would have eliminated benefits for children in child-only CalWORKS cases which are not mandated by federal law.
“This initiative follows the intent of the framers of this country,” U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif. said. “Article V of the 14th Amendment gives us the right to define subject to the jurisdiction.”
The bottom line is the California initiative would use a common sense approach, according to Bilbray. “This is a concept of fairness that is very moderately written to solve some of California’s problems.” He continued to say that it is absurd to write welfare checks to people without checking their legal status.
The Taxpayer Revolution grassroots group contends that the state could save upwards of $2 billion dollars each year which would help close the state’s $20 billion budget gap.
“This initiative will save taxpayer money and slow down rampant illegal border crossings,” Hilton contends.
Agreeing with the proposed birthright citizenship laws is Cuban national, Tony Dolz, a naturalized citizen, who immigrated legally to this country and strongly believes in reforming the anchor baby system. “My father was an attorney before he died and instilled on his children a respect for the rule of law and above all for the U.S. Constitution.”
“We are a generous nation as shown by taking 1.5 million immigrants annually, a greater number than any other nation in the world,” Dolz explains. “I believe that foreigners who jump in front of the line of millions of law abiding foreigners that are in the process of complying with our immigration laws and who are doing so are showing disrespect for our country and its laws.”
California state officials estimate between 20-25 percent of all births each year are to those in the country illegally. According to Hilton, it is becoming evident that the parents lack the ability to pay for these births and immediately require public services to care for these children.
“Our citizen movement will continue to launch a state and national debate to bring an end to “birth tourism” and automatic citizenship in the United States,” Hilton said.
Other items included in the California anchor-baby initiative:
*Requires illegal mother to provide identification with a photograph, fingerprints and fees in person
*Ends all illegal public funded benefits
*Ends prenatal care for illegal aliens
*Terminates all child welfare checks to illegal aliens (some of which are sent out of the country)
Arizona federal Judge Susan Bolton says there will be no sanctuary cities in the state, but sided with the Obama administration on key provisions that resulted in a bevy of lawsuits and boycotts.
Both sides do agree that the immigration lawsuit ruling leaves room for a robust interpretation of many issues. For example, buried in a footnote, police have the authority to inquire about immigration status, but the State can not require law enforcement to do so. This provision may have inadvertently created Arizona’s very own ‘don’t ask and don’t tell’ policy.
Another significant portion of the 36-page ruling directly contradicts a federal law and gives illegal immigrants more leeway in Arizona.
Current federal law at Title 8 USC Sec. 1304(e) already requires legal resident aliens to carry their registration card at all times and are subject to conviction for a misdemeanor, imprisonment, and a $100 fine per offense.
(e) Personal possession of registration or receipt card; penalties every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.
While the initial verdict of SB 1070 brought cheers from the left and the right deflated, further reading found not all was lost.
A key provision that was stuck down dealt with possible misidentification of legal residents.
“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new [law],” Bolton, a Clinton appointee, wrote in her injunction. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”
The Department of Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s office was quick to issue a statement regarding the SB 1070 ruling.
“The court’s decision to enjoin most of SB1070 correctly affirms the federal government’s responsibilities in enforcing our nation’s immigration laws,” said Matt Chandler DHS deputy press secretary. “Over the past eighteen months, this Administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to secure the border, and we will continue to work to take decisive action to disrupt criminal organizations and the networks they exploit. DHS will enforce federal immigration laws in Arizona and around the country in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens who pose a public safety threat and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor, as well as continue to secure our border.”
A quick response to the Arizona lawsuit ruling from Department of Justice spokeswoman Hannah August also lauded the judge’s decision. “We believe the court ruled correctly when it prevented key provisions of SB 1070 from taking effect. While we understand the frustration of Arizonans with the broken immigration system, a patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement and would ultimately be counterproductive. States can and do play a role in cooperating with the federal government in its enforcement of the immigration laws, but they must do so within our constitutional framework.”
It is worth pointing out that the Obama administration has continued to deport record numbers of illegal immigrants, but they have also failed to secure the country’s borders. Advocates for serious immigration reform agree immigration reform starts with securing the borders first.
“This administration takes its responsibility to secure our borders seriously and has dedicated unprecedented resources to that effort. We will continue to work toward smarter and more effective enforcement of our laws while pressing for a comprehensive approach that provides true security and strengthens accountability and responsibility in our immigration system at the national level.”
Overall SB 1070 takes effect Thursday at midnight, but without many provisions that gave the law real teeth.
Senator of Arizona and former Republican presidential candidate, John McCain said he was deeply disappointed by the decision and disagreed with the judge’s view that additional enforcement of law would pose a burden on federal government therefore hindering the government’s ability to carry out their responsibilities… “It’s disappointing for the citizens of my state.”
“The bottom line is that we need to secure the border,” he told Fox News.
In a joint statement Arizona Sheriff’s Paul Babeu of Pinal County and Larry Dever of Cochise County (Sheriff in the county where rancher Robert Krentz was murdered) said; “Incredibly, even though there is not one person who can legitimately claim to be harmed by a law that has not even taken effect, the result of an injunction is de facto amnesty through non-enforcement of laws against illegal immigration.”
The Sheriffs added that “The federal government refuses to secure the border and leaves it to states like Arizona to bear the costs of its inaction. Yet, when we try to do the job they won’t do, in a manner consistent with federal law, they stop us. You couldn’t make up something this ridiculous.”
America’s toughest sheriff, Joe Arpaio said the decision in the courtroom would not impact his tolerance of lawbreakers. “Activists and their celebrity sympathizers who wish to target this community and this sheriff by attempting to disrupt our jail and patrol operations will be unsuccessful, as we will be fully prepared to meet those challenges head-on with appropriately staffed personnel and resources.”
When the law took aim at the sanctuary city policy, Judge Bolton left nothing to chance – Arizona will not tolerate rogue cities trying to skirt federal immigration laws.
The judge used the Hines case for guidance. It defined that a state statute is preempted where it “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”
The Supreme Court determined in Hines that the purpose of the Federal Alien Registration Act was to “make a harmonious whole” and that the Alien Registration Act “provided a standard for alien registration in a single integrated and all-embracing system. As a result, the Hines case held that the state registration scheme at issue could not be enforced.
Legal gurus believe that if the open borders people are relying on federal preemption from state laws regarding immigration, why does the U.S. Attorney General not take action against sanctuary cities that clearly “… stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”
Since DOJ’s top lawyer Eric Holder relies on the immigration scheme of Congress in opposition to Arizona’s actions and these actions of states and cities that proactively offer sanctuary (in violation of federal law – i.e., harboring, aiding, abetting …) even more egregious than anything the Grand Canyon State has proposed, it seems the judge wants it both ways.
Many say if you review all of the provisions of SB 1070 that the court left intact, there are many things for illegals to be concerned.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will fight the ruling
As expected Arizona Governor Jan Brewer spoke out about the ruling. She said; “We knew regardless one side or the other would appeal … absolutely the federal government got relief from the courts,” adding that the federal government needs to step up and do its job.
The governor office released an official statement after the ruling saying Brewer was disappointed, but “heartened by some findings – including the ban on sanctuary cities.”
The spunky governor said the fight was not over and alluded to opponents that this was only the beginning of what will likely end up at the Supreme Court.
“I have consulted with my legal counsel about our next steps. We will take a close look at every single element Judge Bolton removed from the law, and we will soon file an expedited appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”
Brewer further claimed “We have already made some progress in waking up Washington. But the question still remains: will Washington do its job, and put an end to the daily operations of smugglers in our nation, or will the delays and sidesteps.”
California is another border state that sees the extremes of illegal immigration.
“The federal government has a right and a responsibility to enforce existing laws, but when they fail to meet that responsibility, we should not stand in the way of the states that take action to respond to the very real threat of border violence, drug cartels and human smuggling,” said Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA.).
The majority of American citizens know something has to be done with illegal immigration, but they also declare the borders must be secure, something the Obama administration sidesteps everyday.
In what could be deemed an act of war against the sovereign borders of the United States, Mexican drug cartels have seized control of at least two American ranches inside the U.S. territory near Laredo, Texas.
Two sources inside the Laredo Police Department confirmed the incident is unfolding and they would continue to coordinate with U.S. Border Patrol today. “We consider this an act of war,” said one police officer on the ground near the scene. There is a news blackout of this incident at this time and the sources inside Laredo PD spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Word broke late last night that Laredo police have requested help from the federal government regarding the incursion by the Los Zetas. It appears that the ranch owners have escaped without incident but their ranches remain in the hands of the blood thirsty cartels.
Laredo Border Patrol is conducting aerial surveillance over the ranches to determine the best way to regain control of the U.S. ranches, according to the Laredo Police department.
The approximate location of the U.S. ranches are10 miles northwest of I-35 off Mines Road and Minerales Annex Road. Just off 1472 (Mines road) near Santa Isabel Creek south of the city of Laredo, Texas.
The Los Zetas drug cartel is an offshoot of the elite Mexican military trained in special ops. The mercenary organization is said to include members of corrupt Mexican Federales, politicians as well as drug traffickers. The group was once part of the Gulf cartel, but has since splintered and now directly competes with the Gulf cartel for premium drug smuggling routes in the Texas region.
The new leader of Los Zetas is Heriberto “El Lazca” Lazcano and is considered the most violent paramilitary group in Mexico by the DEA.
Recently the drug organization has kidnapped tourists, infiltrated local municipalities and continues to smuggle narcotics into a very hungry U.S. market.
The violence south of the border continues to spin out of control and has left Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on virtual lockdown with businesses refusing to open the doors. Last week a particularly violent attack by the Los Zetas included the use of grenades and resulted in a dozen deaths and 21 injuries.
The hostile takeover of the ranches has met with silence with local and national media; however sources say they could be waiting to report the stories once the ranches are back in U.S. control. This journalist questions if this was a Middle Eastern terrorist attack if the media would sit on their hands.
Stay tuned for updates reports throughout the weekend.
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The recent recordings between movie star Mel Gibson and his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva have yielded yet another revelation; Gibson now admits his housekeeper is an illegal immigrant. In one of his recorded arguments with Oksana earlier this year. Gibson is heard berating Oksana over her use of his housekeeper at her house.
As the recording unfolds Gibson is furious at his ex-girlfriend and threatens to have the employee deported if Oksana continues to employ her at the residence she shares with Gibson’s youngest child.
The audio recording posted on RadarOnline.com, Gibson says, “I will fire (name redacted) if she’s at your house. I will make it known and fire her. I’ll report her to the f *cking people that take f *cking money from the wetbacks, ok?””
Listen to the audio recording here:
On the tape Gibson refers to an employee of his that he will turn over to immigration authorities (ICE), according to RadarOnline. Gibson lives in a mansion on exclusive Palm Canyon Drive in Malibu and reportedly employs about 10 people at his Malibu estate. Some inside news sources have information that many of his other employees are in the country illegally.
It must be pointed out that knowingly hiring illegal immigrants is a felony punishable by a fine and/or up to 10 years in prison.
According to sources with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Gibson’s admission that he hires illegal aliens is being investigated by deputies who are also investigation possible domestic violence charges against the Braveheart star. Investigators said last week that they planned to discuss the illegal employees with Gibson’s lawyers when they are to meet next week.
It is widely believed that many of Hollywood’s rich and famous employ illegal alien workers. Gibson’s admission caught on tape further proves that many wealthy elitists think they are above the law. The questions on many American’s minds is ‘why would the uber wealthy hire illegals when they can easily afford to hire legal American workers?’
“It’s about power and control. Some of these rich private employers are nothing more than 21st Century slave-masters”, says Jeff Schwilk, founder of the San Diego Minutemen, a group that targets and exposes criminal employers of illegal aliens in Southern California.
“They can work their illegal alien employees excessive hours and in harsher conditions with no fear of being reported to state and federal authorities. The illegal employees do not complain for fear of being deported,” Schwilk explains.
The series of contemptible tapes that have come out recently clearly illustrate that Gibson has some serious anger management issues that he needs to work out. Schwilk says Gibson also needs to come clean about his use of undocumented employees and replace the illegal worker(s) with out-of-work Americans if he ever wants to regain the trust and respect of his countless former fans.
At a time when illegal immigration is out of control and a record number of Americans are out of work, its time for Hollywood’s elite to make themselves right with the law or pay the consequences like other businesses across the nation who choose to violate the nation’s illegal immigration laws.
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It’s D-day in the Grand Canyon state. The full force of the federal government, with its deep pockets, will attempt to thwart Arizona from controlling their out-of-control illegal immigration problem.
After weeks of speculation, threats and pandering, the citizens of Arizona will finally have their day in court. The Obama Administration claims Arizona Governor Jan Brewer should be restrained from enforcing AB1070, an illegal immigration law that closely mirrors the federal government’s law, for two main reasons.
The government contends Arizona is pre-empting federal immigration law with the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government and therefore, the states, including Arizona are pre-empted from exercising any jurisdiction over immigration matters, according to US Immigration and Naturalization Activity – Title 8 United States Code §1101 et seq.).
The second claim deals with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Federal law, when pertaining to the U.S. Constitution and treaties with foreign nations is the Supreme Law of the Law and “trumps” any state action, according to Article VI, Clause 2.
These two legal postulates have been used successfully by the federal government in a wide variety of proceedings to retain the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over certain subjects in order to ensure there is uniformity and consistency in the interpretation and execution of U.S. law throughout the federal and state jurisdictions.
For example, U.S. courts have determined that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction to establish and enforce certain standards in drugs, foods, auto safety, etc., and therefore, the states are “preempted” from exercising jurisdiction over these areas of exclusivity, which would cause confusion and conflict in commerce and law.
Also the government’s case says the Commerce Clause of the Constitution has been widely recognized as the first application of the Supremacy Clause and it continues to be asserted today in the control of the airways for telephone, internet, and emergency broadband and AM/FM broadcasting.
However, it must be noted that Arizona has not directed that local law enforcement personnel screen people at the U.S./Arizona border with Mexico, but rather, it has restricted its application of federal immigration law within state jurisdiction and has not asserted any rights pertaining to the international border with Mexico.
The striking difference with the AB1070 case, is that the U.S. is seeking to restrain the Governor from enforcing Arizona law, exclusively within the jurisdiction of the state, and which is based expressly upon the enforcement provisions for U.S. law enforcement personnel, on the grounds of preemption and Supremacy, as though the Congress and Constitution expressly forbade dual enforcement of U.S. Immigration Law.
In the past the federal and state law enforcement personnel have worked together on immigration matters. The only difference now is that Arizona is now directing its law enforcement personnel to actively pursue immigration inquiries in certain circumstances, as opposed to the prior “dual” jurisdiction with federal officers, wherein an immigration matter arose, as a collateral or inadvertent aspect of a state legal action.
Notwithstanding a strict compliance of AB1070 with current federal immigration laws and regulations, the Obama administration somehow reaches the conclusion that only federal law enforcement is able to enforce federal immigration law without having a “chilling effect” on Arizona’s population, despite a long history of dual jurisdiction.
And lastly, the “chilling effect” would only extend only to illegal immigrants, who have no First Amendment rights, because a citizen of Arizona would be free from any threat of deportation. Therefore the “chilling effect” applies only to illegal immigrants, who have entered the U.S. illegally, remain in the U.S. illegally and would be subject to deportation on a daily basis.
For illegal immigrants, there is a constant threat of being deported, but certainly enforcement of federal immigration by Arizona law enforcement will not lessen that fear nor abridge any Constitutional protections of Arizona’s legal residents, who are required by law to carry their residency permits.
Some at ICE see Arizona law as a must enforce law
When it comes to the folks who actually are responsible for enforcing the countries’ immigration laws, recently-retired ICE agent John Sakelarides, a 25 year veteran, says the government is falling down on the job when it comes to illegal immigration and protecting the nation’s borders.
“The thrust of the Eric Holder and Barack Obama’s lawsuit against Jan Brewer and the people of the state of Arizona is that Arizona is allegedly usurping federal authority and interfering in the federal government’s presumed exclusive authority to determine immigration policy and exclusive authority as to immigration enforcement,” Sakelarides says.
“However, cities such as New York, San Francisco, Denver, and many others, as well as some states have engaged in sanctuary policies which also appear to not only usurp the federal government’s presumed exclusive authority to enact immigration policy and enforcement priorities, but they do so in blatant violation of federal criminal law.
“It’s an obvious contradiction that cannot be overlooked. The question that has been repeatedly asked is ‘Why are Holder and Obama suing Arizona for trying to enforce the law that the federal government repeatedly refuses to enforce, while they allow cities to actively assist and harbor illegal aliens?’”
“There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law,” Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric Holder told The Washington Times. “That’s what Arizona did in this case.”
The real answer is that there is absolutely no interest by the Obama administration to enforce the current immigration laws, no interest in securing the border, no interest in honoring the wishes and demands of the people for whom they work for, according to Sakelarides.
“The rationale behind this is that they are seeking political power and hoping to cash in on ‘future democratic votes.’ However, the law prohibits foreign nationals in participating in American elections. The right to vote is an exclusive right reserved to citizens. In fact, if an alien votes in an election, that act is a ground for being deported. It also requires that the alien make a false claim to U.S. citizenship which is a federal felony under 18 USC 911,” Sakelarides summed up.
Members of Congress weigh in
The Arizona lawsuit hasn’t escaped the attention of 81 members of Congress who filed a friend of the court brief supporting Arizona. These bipartisan lawmakers agree Arizona has the right to protect its residents from an avalanche of illegals crossing into the Grand Canyon State seeking refuse from the over-the-top drug cartel violence and a shot of gaining employment.
“Arizona has every right to defend itself against illegal immigration,” said Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA), chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. “The federal government has failed to live up to its responsibility to enforce federal law concerning immigration, and Arizona’s law does not preempt federal statutes. It is time to stop playing politics, roll up our sleeves and get to work on a bipartisan immigration bill that addresses America’s border security, goes after employers who exploit illegal immigrants and reduces identity theft.”
Bilbray continued to explain, “I stand by my claim: the bipartisan Immigration Reform Caucus is ready and willing to meet with President Obama to address bipartisan and meaningful immigration reform.”
Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) stated, “President Obama is going to end up having to sue several states, including Rhode Island and others, if the Administration wants to sue everyone who tries to enforce immigration law. This is in addition to the numerous other states who have either introduced legislation similar to Arizona’s (such as Michigan, South Carolina, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania,) and as many as 15 others have expressed a desire to pass a law similar to SB 1070.
Furthermore, the Administration’s lawsuit is politically disastrous, since more than 55 percent of Americans disagree with the lawsuit. The American people want an effective, enforced federal immigration policy and secure borders. The last thing this ridiculous lawsuit is doing is making our laws more clear or our border more secure, and President Obama must continue to hear that the Members who signed this brief, along with the American people, strongly oppose the ongoing politicization of this serious national security and federal immigration issue.”
Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary as well as vocal illegal immigration advocate Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said, “The Obama administration is wrong to sue the State of Arizona. The Arizona law is favored by a majority of Arizonans and Americans. Also the Arizona law mirrors federal law and is only necessary because the Obama administration has failed to do its job. Instead of suing Arizona, the Obama administration should stand up for citizens and legal immigrants enforce our immigration laws and secure the border.”
While there are legitimate issues on both sides of the illegal immigration issue one thing remains clear, America is a nation of laws.
The polls also remain crystal clear as the majority of Americans support Arizona’s lawmakers and residents rights to enforce immigration laws.
Another symptom associated with illegal immigration is the cost taxpayers’ end up paying for in food stamps, housing subsidies and health care. Illegal immigration costs the United States an astounding $113 billion a year or an average of $1,117 for every legal resident household in the U.S., according to a recent study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The study also reported that this the “first and most detailed look at the costs of illegal immigration ever done,” says Bob Dane, director of communications for FAIR.
As the dynamite is about to be lit in the state of Arizona, the immigration fuse may be the precursor to a calamity of upsets in the November mid-term elections.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner
Now that it’s about 100 days until the midterm elections, the silly season kicked into high gear over the weekend. The usual finger pointing, slamming policies, and claiming the GOP doesn’t like the little guy tactics were employed by Democrats.
The current bull’s-eye target is unemployment benefits. Some unemployed America’s are entering the final 99 weeks they are able to collect insurance money from Uncle Sam, with a continued wobbly economy the President is seeking an extension of those payments.
Kicking it up a notch, Obama took a direct partisan shot at Republicans for failing to pass an extension in unemployment benefits. This politics as usual tactic fell flat as the House and the Senate enjoys large majorities and do not need Republicans to pass along an extension of benefits.
“Over the past few weeks, a majority of Senators have tried – not once, not twice, but three times – to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis. And each time, a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief. Republican leaders in the Senate are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job,” the President implored.
Nevertheless this hasn’t stopped the main-stream media from placing the blame squarely on the GOP.
The President also highlighted in a recent speech that many Republicans have previously supported unemployment extensions under Republican administrations but refuse to offer relief to middle class families today.
Contrary to the President’s spin, Republicans support an extension of unemployment benefits, they just question whether the estimated $34 billion cost will be paid for with an stimulus money – as the GOP have proposed – or whether the $34 billion will be added to the nation’s $13 trillion debt – as the Democrats have offered.
Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced legislation on four different occasions in the last month that would extend unemployment benefits and pay for them with unused stimulus funds. But on every occasion, that effort was blocked by Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
“The biggest reason the cloture vote we just had failed is because Democrats simply refused to pass a bill that does not add to the debt,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
In November, President Obama made this statement about unemployment benefits; “If it’s fully paid for, and so it is fiscally responsible. Now, it’s important to note that the bill I sign will not add to our deficit.”
California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is locked in a bitter race from GOP newcomer Carly Fiorina and votes for deficit spending are just the ammunition the GOP candidate is using against Boxer. Even liberal California sees the writing on the wall – the country is broke.
“While Barbara Boxer toes the party line and rubberstamps Harry Reid’s reckless tax-and-spend agenda in Washington, she has failed to make the tough economic decisions that Californians who are struggling to make ends meet deserve. Instead of living within their means like California families and small businesses are forced to do each year, Boxer and her party leaders in Washington believe that taxpayers should pick up the tab for the government’s maxed out credit card,” said Amber Marchand, NRSC Press Secretary.
“This November, there’s no doubt that voters will hold Senator Boxer accountable for her out-of-control spending agenda when they elect Carly Fiorina to the U.S. Senate,” Marchand finished.
Even Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said unemployment benefits must be offset in a Senate floor speech. “This adds up to a 20-week extension of unemployed benefits for those in the toughest job markets…this should not increase the deficit or national debt.”
However, President Obama believes the country must continue to do everything to spur growth and hiring. “I hope the Senate acts this week on a package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses, where most of America’s jobs are created,” he said from the White House Rose Garden.
“But even as we work to jumpstart job-growth in the private sector, get businesses hiring, and dig ourselves out of this economic hole, we also have another responsibility – to offer emergency relief to Americans who’ve been laid off in this recession; to help them make ends meet – and support their families – while they’re looking for another job,” Obama explained.
President Obama said that the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin the process of making it easier for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to get the treatment and benefits they need.
“Just as we have a solemn responsibility to train and equip our troops before we send them into harm’s way, we have a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they’ve earned when they come home,” Obama said in a weekly radio address.
“We also know that for many of today’s troops and their families, the war doesn’t end when they come home,” Obama admitted. “Too many suffer from the signature injuries of today’s wars: post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (TBI). And, too few receive the screening and treatment they need.”
For many returning war veterans they “have been stymied in receiving benefits” because they had to produce a plethora of paperwork and prove they suffered a traumatic event that caused PTSD. The President insisted that streamlining the process would “help both the veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, along with generations (veterans from other eras), who have served and sacrificed for the country.”
However the Chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) says soldiers shouldn’t prove they have PTSD, but they should have to prove they don’t. The Congressman has worked tirelessly on these issues and believes the military is letting down the soldiers by not decompressing these guys once they return from the battlefield.
The new PTSD regulations will relieve veterans from proving a single wartime moment that caused the hopelessness and fear. Now veterans only need to show evaluators they served in a region where there would be cause to fear the reprisal of terrorist attack.
“I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And, I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war,” Obama said.
The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Barry Searle concurs; “This requirement seems to be a step backward in an otherwise commendable move by the VA. Private healthcare providers should be given the opportunity to work with veterans and diagnose those who suffer from PTSD.”
Searle points out that if the VA has real concerns about the treatment methods of PTSD assessment standards, “it should create a certification process for private practitioners that would satisfy its requirements.”
If the government opened up returning veterans to the Tri-Care health program, which is similar to a PPO health care plan, the private sector doctors could alleviate the backlog for PTSD/TBI treatment.
“When the VA makes claims they have enough doctors on staff to take care of the PTSD cases they are wrong. I just went to the La Jolla, CA VA and they said there was a hiring freeze for psychiatrists,” Filner said. “It’s baloney; we don’t have enough psychiatrists to treat these guys and girls.”
One congressional analysis reportedly put the cost of the new changes at $5 billion
A senior department official said the price tag is “relatively small.” Under the older system bureaucrats claimed veterans eventually received the treatment they needed and hoped the new “stealthy process” would speed up the wait time. White House Senior staffers said the new process should also bring the cost of treating PTSD down.
The Veterans Affairs Department Secretary, Eric Shinseki complimented the new PTSD treatment process and said the new directive was another critical step forward in providing an easier process for combat veterans seeking health care treatment and disability compensation. The new VA regulation was published in the Federal Register last week.
“This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the often devastating emotional wounds of war,” Secretary Shinseki said. “This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need.”
By publishing a new regulation in the Federal Register it clears the way for the VA to simplify the process for a veteran to claim service connected PTSD immediately. In return the VA reduces the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service.
Shinseki said the science-based regulation relies on evidence that concludes a veteran’s deployment into a war zone is link enough to increase the risk of developing PTSD.
Looking back at PTSD pitfalls
In the past, VA claims adjudicators were required to corroborate that a non-combat veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity. The new rule simplifies the development that is required for these cases and will make it easier for those serving to receive the treatment they have been denied in the past.
However, it’s Rep. Filner’s view that the military “has a much deeper problem.” Filner also alludes to the stigma attached to PTSD. “The military doesn’t want to know the full extent of the problem; they just don’t want to know.”
Nevertheless the VA expects this new rule will decrease the time it takes the VA to decide access to care.
Shinseki claims there are more than 400,000 veterans currently receiving compensation benefits that are service connected for PTSD. Congressman Filner challenges this number and believes the number is much greater than anyone is willing to admit and the VA could not handle an influx in veterans coming forward.
In the private sector, PTSD has been a medically recognized anxiety disorder that can develop from seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual threatened death or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear, helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon among war veterans.
Filner says he has been trying to encourage the military to add an eight week decompression course for all soldiers to attend. “Right now the veterans coming home are asked two questions to self assess a PTSD problem. On top of that many of the Commanding Officers tell them to mark no on the questionnaire so they can get home faster,” Filner explained.
The program Filner describes could take place at their home base with brothers in arms, family members and trained clinicians. “This would be a good dovetail with job training classes as well,” he said.
The costs led to the new VA regulation
The process of change within the giant bureaucracy that is Washington D.C. came about in part by testimony of Barton F. Stichman, Joint Executive Director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program.
“Under current law, VA has to expend more time and resources to decide PTSD claims than almost every other type of claim. A major reason that these claims are so labor intensive is that in most cases, VA believes that the law requires it to conduct an extensive search for evidence that may corroborate the veteran’s testimony that he experienced a stressful event during military service,” Stichman testified to at the House Veterans Committee.
“According to the VA, an extensive search for corroborating evidence is necessary even when the medical evidence shows that the veteran currently suffers from PTSD, and mental health professionals attribute the PTSD to stressful events that occurred during military service.”
“Often there is no corroborative evidence that can be found – not because the in-service stressful event did not occur – but because the military did not and does not keep detailed records of every event that occurred during periods of war in combat zones,” he concluded.
Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs conducted the hearing to discuss the compensation owed for mental health. The hearing addressed the difficulties veterans encounter when they are required to prove stressors in order to receive service-connected compensation for PTSD that occurred as a result of their military service.
A different outcome for British soldiers with PTSD
When looking into PTSD issues in other countries, a report shows the British soldiers are far less likely to demonstrate symptoms of PTSD. Why?
While the numbers of U.S. soldiers suffering PTSD land somewhere in the 20-30 percent range, depending who you talk to, only four percent of British soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan exhibit symptoms of PTSD even though both countries’ warzone veterans have seen comparable levels of violent combat, according to an English study.
“This is truly a landmark study, in its size and rigor, and the findings are surprisingly positive,” said Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard, told the New York Times. “The big mystery is why we find these cross-national differences.”
Researchers for the British study analyzed answers to mental health questionnaires given to Royal Army, Navy and Air Force members. The results showed that approximately 20 percent suffered some form of mental health issues, including moderate anxiety and depression. Another 13 percent admitted to drinking heavily. However, few were diagnosed with PTSD.
Once researchers began to dissect reasons for the PTSD discrepancies, possible reasons included the use of reservist soldiers and differences in ‘dwell time.’
The mental health study found British reservists were more likely to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Another factor that could determine the successful processing of PTSD may be the fact that British troops serve six-month tours and do not spend more than 12 months in combat in every 36 months.
As far as their American soldier counterparts, U.S. military personnel, depending on their service, can serve more than 12 months at a time with only a single year in between combat deployments.
Living with the aftermath of TBI and PTSD
A common thread soldiers share is their fear of losing loved ones; “Will they still want me.”
It’s a legitimate fear as many end up losing their significant others once the hard work of rehab, reality sets in and they learn their lives will never return to pre-deployment fitness.
“I was in a coma for 12 days and now I’m like a six-year-old in a man’s body,” says S. Sgt., Jay Wilkerson, U.S. Army barracks, Iraq. He suffers from a closed-wound head trauma commonly known as TBI one of the signature wounds of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars.
“Sometimes I can’t remember my own kid’s names… I feel stupid, but my brother helps me. My son’s name is Manny and my daughter is Precious,” Wilkerson tearfully repeats.
His grueling treatment schedule includes memory groups, cognitive-skills training, physical therapy as well as psychology appointments; “All these appointments are meant to build me up and get me where I used to be.”
The Army soldier acknowledges that war is war and no medals will bring him a normal life again, but at least he is making the effort and hopes to regain a sense “normalcy.”
That life of “normalcy” often includes using nonprofit groups like Help Wounded Troops or Wounded Warrior Foundations. They step in when the Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense fall short.
It’s not unusual for wounded veterans to seek financial help while waiting for benefits to kick in. Many soldiers don’t know there are advocacy organizations out there that can assist them with the mountain of paperwork the VA requires. During the sometimes lengthy paperwork process military families can lose their homes, cars and jobs.
These nonprofit organizations provide soldiers with money to pay for rent, electricity, food or even car payments. Without the support from a generous American population these wounded warriors may otherwise fall through the cracks and disappear into homelessness.
The bottom line for the VA to consider is the need to speed up an effective TBI/PTSD treatment program. The process must ensure that there are no military service members left behind or undertreated.
Just as there have been technological breakthroughs in medical treatments, there have been significant advancements in treating TBI and PTSD. The all-volunteer troops serving in a long Middle East war deserve to be treated with the best PTSD/TBI protocol available and then the treatment plan needs to be individually tailored to meet each soldiers needs, according to Dr. Mark Wiederhold who has developed a new virtual-reality based PTSD program.
This often proves the private-sector lays claim to the most up-to-date treatment methods.
However, the VA bureaucracy doesn’t act quickly enough or at all when providing the best care for returning war veterans. One program with a stellar record is Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City. Their TBI treatment employs a rigorous-daily cognitive therapy without the use of drugs.
Another highly-successful, private sector PTSD treatment facility is located in San Diego, California. The Virtual Reality Medical Center uses virtual reality computer generated programs with physiological readings to monitor soldier’s reactions to incidents that cause them severe anxiety. The success for the $4-6 thousand program is 85 percent. However, the doctors running the virtual reality retraining sessions are working overtime to find ways to improve their success rate to more than 90 percent.
Side affect of war – suicide among soldiers on the rise
Army suicide statistics just released leave military officials trying to reverse a grim trend in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
A recent report showed that 32 soldiers killed themselves in June; it is the highest number of suicides in a single month since the Vietnam era. At least 21 took their lives while on active duty and the other 11 were inactive National Guard or Army Reserve.
The Army admits seven of the soldiers killed themselves while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There were no trends to any one unit, camp, post or station,” Col. Chris Philbrick said, of the Army’s suicide prevention task force. “I have no silver bullet to answer the question why.”
With no solutions on the horizon Philbrick said his department will: “look for opportunities we have been facing in terms of the challenges in the Army and continue to prevent these events from taking place.”
There is no doubt that streamlining the TBI/PTSD screening process is a step in the right direction, but what returning war zone soldiers really need is their quality of life.
Oftentimes when soldiers are separated from military service they lose extra-combat pay, housing allotments and their Tri-Care health insurance. The loss of income can split families apart, especially if there is a serious injury to contend with.
A country at war must live up to all the promises they offer military personnel. These brave soldiers should not have to lose their quality of life along with any means to earn an honorable income for their families.
America has done better, but as the “War on Terror” enters its ninth year, it must do better- the all volunteer forces are not expendable on any level.
The Tea Party movement received a boost from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) when she sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) petitioning her support with the formation of a House Tea Party Caucus. It took only one day to get approval from the Speaker and now the Tea Party movement has found a voice inside the beltway.
The letter read in part; “On Thursday, July 15, 2010, I submitted the appropriate materials to the Committee on House Administration to register the House Tea Party Caucus as a Congressional Member Organization for the 111th Congress.”
Bachmann said she was petitioning to form a new Tea Party Caucus in order to represent the many folks affiliated with the Tea Party movement. “As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to represent the views of our constituents, and this Caucus would do nothing more than promote the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold.”
The Tea Party Caucus will be issue-based, according to Bachmann and will promote policies of fiscal responsibility, limited government and adherence to the Constitution.
“By rejecting such an organization, we would be silencing the voices, values and principles held dear by millions of Americans,” Bachmann explained. “The Tea Party movement has become synonymous with these principles, and a caucus taking these values to heart would work to advance them.”
The Congresswoman pointed to the fact there are many caucuses within the House that deal with a diverse issues including; Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, Congressional Apparel Manufacturing and Fashion Business Caucus and the Congressional Shellfish Caucus.
The Congresswoman will chair the new Tea Party caucus.
Nevertheless it did not take the liberal news outlets long to comment on the new Caucus. They couldn’t resist stomping on the Tea Party values and commenting on the idea of a Tea Party Caucus. On MSNBC the Dylan Ratigan show the host Ratigan reported on Congresswoman Bachmann’s new caucus: “…the Tea Partiers were nowhere when it came to ending the mass extraction in Wall Street, so I think they’re actually full of crap.”
Michael Waldman, former Bill Clinton speechwriter took the conversation even lower when he said: “The Republicans would like to benefit from the…neurotic energy of the Tea Party. But they don’t really want them in the front parlor. They don’t want everybody to identify their extremism with the Republican Party, just the way the Democrats didn’t want the Weathermen (Bill Ayers who was connected to Obama) determining the face…At the front of the house.”
However, the hyper-partisan MSNBC talk show didn’t dampen the Tea Party groups across the country and they pointed out the Caucus will give them lasting power and a real voice in the rough and tumble world of D.C. politics.
In a new El Universal, a Mexico City newspaper article, Editors’ claim America is now racial profiling Latinos by encouraging law enforcement officers to enforce illegal immigration laws within U.S. borders.
The July, 14 article begins by detailing a letter that has been circulating the blogs and law enforcement agencies.
“This Monday, an unidentified group calling itself ‘Citizens concerned for the United States’ sent a document with data about 1,300 alleged undocumented persons to the security agencies of the state of Utah. The list of persons – the majority of Latin origin – includes names, telephones, addresses and dates of birth. The object: to deport them all. This unprecedented act shows how much hatred against Mexicans has grown in that country. It is worrisome because no answers to halt the xenophobia are forthcoming from the government and from organizations,” the story reads.
The Mexico City newspaper goes further and states Americans are amping up “a flood of hatred.” They refer to the unfortunate killing of an alleged-human smuggler, age 15, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on a bike, as an assassination.
“Now, according to the polls, the majority of U.S. citizens are in favor of laws such as the one in Arizona. In Utah, where the list of migrants appeared, a Republican legislator is already promoting a similar law,” the editorial stated. “It is difficult to believe that the proximate time frame of these events is a coincidence. It is clear that there exists a tendency for the increase of racism and xenophobia against those who are or appear to be Mexicans.”
Mexico upped the anti by charging racism and hatred throughout so-called, anti-immigrant right-wing organizations like Minuteman (sic) and the Tea Party groups.
“The use legal arguments to justify their rejection of the presence of Mexicans in the United States; nevertheless, the Utah letter makes evident that the rejection originates in hatred and racism. First, because the way in which the ‘concerned citizens’ identified the alleged illegal residents was by simple observation. To be dark skinned and be surnamed Rodriguez or Palacios means to be undocumented. (The same criterion as the Arizona Law, according to the author.) Second, because the racists’ letter manifests preoccupation about a pregnant woman who, ‘if she’s not deported “immediately”’ will have her child on American soil,” El Universal said.
The article wraps up by stating Americans do not want to include any person (s) that is brown skinned to be part of the American experiment.
“The United States will no longer be of white race and of protestant religion. Up to now, they’ve said it in undertones in meetings, demonstrations and messages to communications media, but now also with beatings and persecutions. Does the Mexican government have a strategy, along with the American one, to avoid more fury?”
Nowhere in the long editorial piece, does it explain the folks who are being deported are in fact illegal immigrants. They broke the law by entering the country illegally. The paper also fails to indicate that if a mass migration of U.S. citizens headed south, they would be ‘racially profiled’ and sent back to their home country. Currently Mexico deports most Central American immigrants trying to find a ‘better life’ in their country.
The story also fails to illustrate the economic burden these illegal immigrants often bring to the America. It is no secret that Americans are in the middle of a devastating recession and struggling to keep their homes and feed their families.
Weather illegal immigrants are driving down wages by unscrupulous employers or having multiple children in order to qualify for free education, food and other social services, they are adding to the economic burden.
Also conveniently left out are the costs when these folks are arrested and placed in the correctional system after repeated attempts to gain entry into America and/or commit federal crimes inside the country. Many would argue that illegal immigrants are only looking for a ‘better life’ which America offers, but the U.S. is a country of laws and accepts more immigrants yearly than any other country in the world.
America is a country of laws for a reason and as such, law enforcement agents are well within their rights to apprehend those breaking the law – no matter the color of their skin.
In a bold move by a stagnated GOP party, two Senators hope to block President Obama’s federal lawsuit against Arizona with a procedural movement.
Senators Jim DeMint (R- S.C.) and David Vitter (R-LA) said they will attempt to attach the Arizona lawsuit, legal language to small-business legislation set to be debated on the Senate floor next week.
The two Republicans have been critical of the Obama administration’s lawsuit against Arizona and claim the federal government lacks the constitutionality to prevent the Grand Canyon State from enforcing immigration laws already on the books.
SB1070 is a law that closely mirrors the federal government’s law on enforcing illegal immigration. Arizona has been inundated with illegal immigrants which has propelled the state to the country’s leader in kidnapping and only second to Mexico City, Mexico.
“States like Arizona shouldn’t be prosecuted for protecting their citizens when the federal government fails to do so,” DeMint said in a statement. “The federal government is rewarding illegal behavior and encouraging many more to enter our nation illegally when they refuse to enforce our laws.”
DeMint also said that President Obama “should get serious and stop holding border security hostage to pass amnesty and score points with his liberal base.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Arizona are complaining the federal lawsuit will do nothing more than cost taxpayers more money the country does not have and in the end will be no closer to solving the immigration problem the federal government refuses to fix.
“The Obama administration should not use taxpayers’ money to pay for these lawsuits that the American people overwhelmingly oppose,” Senator Vitter explained.
DeMint further states that “States along the border are facing kidnappings, drug trafficking, human trafficking and gang violence and they have a duty to keep their residents safe. Instead of suing states for doing his job, the President should get serious and stop holding border security hostage.”
Arizona’s new law gives state law enforcement officials the legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws. Most law enforcement officers will be allowed to inquire about immigration status of individuals who are lawfully stopped for other crimes.
An amendment to SB1070 specifically forbids racial profiling.
As many as 18 states are considering similar laws, according to the Associated Press, including: Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Oklahoma, Utah, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Michigan. However, John Morton, the director of ICE warned these states to not pursue Arizona’s lead on the immigration issue because it is the federal government’s job to enforce illegal immigration.