Thursday, September 30, 2010
For the past nine months, Reform Immigration for America and other national immigration reform campaigns targeted Ohio Senator Voinovich as critical to have on board for immigration reform legislation.
Much time was spent on “power plans”, consultants were hired, rallies were held, all of the Senators offices in Ohio were visited, a record-breaking number of calls went to his office, meetings were took place with high, middle and low-level staff, and office drop-ins were carried out by coalitions of labor, faith and grassroots organizations. We even went to his house in Cleveland and left personal notes on his doorstep.
The entire month of August, our office sent daily faxes to all five of his Ohio offices. These faxes demanded a meeting with the good Senator (even though it was made clear to us that this meeting would never happen). His staff was always gracious and polite but perhaps annoyed with our persistent tactics.
Then the idea came…why don’t we create a space to honor the Senator?
After all, Senator Voinovich has been a friend of immigration reform in the past and he has been on the forefront of several Latino initiatives as a public servant in Ohio. I believe there is good reason to thank the Senator for all he has done for the Latino community in Ohio.
I didn’t think the Senator would attend but on Monday September 27, 2010 a small group of statewide Latinos and immigration reform organizers gathered to recognize Senator Voinovich and have a conversation with him.
Here are some thoughts he shared in regards to the DREAM Act and immigration reform:
- It was clear that he “gets it” in regards to the need for immigration reform.
- As a member of the Homeland Security and Appropriations Committees, he felt the border is more secure now than it has ever been. Yet we are allowing the demagoguery framing of the issue by a few “crazies” out there. While he did not say who these crazies were it became clear (to me) he was referring to the Tea Party. He continued, “these crazies were saying the same kind of things when my parents came to America”
- He said it is more cost effective to do something with those “illegal immigrants” that are here then to focus only on border security. He would gladly provide us statistical information on why this makes sense.
- He prefers DREAM to be brought up in a comprehensive bill.
- It did not make sense to him why Harry Reid would put the DREAM Act on the DOD bill. He asked Reid not to do this and felt Reid was making this a political issue thus giving fuel to the “crazies” to further mobilize against DREAM and immigration reform.
- He felt that President Obama has not pushed on this issue as he had with the health care bill, “if the President wanted to get this done, he would take the political risk to do it”. He felt that President Bush did take the political risk when he brought up immigration reform during the Bush administration.
- He never felt that Senator Schumer was serious with his CIR bill earlier this year. He kept giving deadline after deadline and never followed through.
So where does this leave us with the Senator Voinovich? When I spoke at the event I told the Senator that we still need him for the following possibilities that will happen in lame duck:
1) DREAM coming up again in the DOD bill
2) Senator Durbin’s DREAM stand-alone bill
3) AgJOBS bill
4) Senator Menendez's CIR bill (to be introduced this week)
It was a victory for Ohio immigration reform organizers to finally have a face-to-face meeting with the Senator and we did manage to engage the Senator in conversation on DREAM and immigration reform.
Perhaps the bigger question came from Nick Torres and the national DREAMer networks:
“What will it take for you, Senator Voinovich, to be a yes vote?"
Here we go. In your own words, Senator, ”We’re not winding down, we’re winding up.”
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Officials outline immigration issues
By Rachel Lloyd
About 150 area residents gathered at the Sidney Veterans of Foreign Wars building Sunday evening for the Sidney Shelby County Liberty Group's town hall meeting on the subject of immigration, with panel members Lisa Curley and Cheryl L. Gallegos, of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-54th District, and Sidney Police Chief Kevin Gessler.
Curley, community relations officer for District 13, which includes Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, explained that the division for which she works was not the enforcement arm but rather the benefit arm of immigration services. It is one of seven agencies under the Office of Homeland Security, which also includes the enforcement arm, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She clarified that the seven agencies now operate separately, though they were previously part of the same agency known as Immigration and Naturalization Service.
"The responsibility of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services includes administering immigration benefits and citizenship," Curley said. "We administer or adjudicate approximately 6 (million) to 8 million applications per year."
She explained that the process to enter to the country begins with applying for a visa through the state department. Those who stay longer then seek benefits such as permanent residence, naturalization, travel documents and work authorization.
Curley outlined some of the process of gaining citizenship to the United States through naturalization, including residency requirements, proof of "good moral character," an oath of allegiance, renunciation of all foreign citizenship, the ability to speak, read and write English and civics knowledge.
Combs, introduced as "one of the leading advocates of immigration reform in Ohio," said he is a proponent of immigration, but only when it is done legally.
"But I do have a problem when we have thousands of people coming across the southern border of the United States (illegally)," Combs said.
Combs recounted his visits to Arizona to see the problems of illegal immigration firsthand. He said 1,000 people a day are crossing the border illegally into Cochise County, Ariz., alone each day, and of those, approximately 300 are caught, processed and returned to Mexico.
"They come right back," he said.
He admitted that many do come across the border to escape poverty and work and support their families, even saying if he were in their position, he would do the same.
"Does that make it right?" he asked. "No."
His bigger concern with illegal immigration is the "25 percent" who cross the border for more nefarious purposes, such as smuggling in drugs and contraband, and human trafficking.
"The United States does not control the Mexican border," Combs said. "The Mexican government does not control the Mexican border. The drug dealers control the Mexican border
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Ohio would benefit from DREAM Act
This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated his intent to bring the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM, to a vote on the Senate floor. Ohio Sens. George V. Voinovich and Sherrod Brown must seize the opportunity to vote for this bipartisan legislation. The DREAM Act is a bill that would enable Ohio to become more prosperous by increasing access to education.
By providing young people who currently attend college or serve in the armed forces with a path toward citizenship, we won’t just help immigrant communities but also will help affirm an American credo that, from California to the New York island, this land is still the land of opportunity and liberty.
Those affected by this legislation are as American as you or me. Many of the young men and women who would be affected by the DREAM Act are people we call our neighbors. They have grown up as Americans and do not know any other home.
The bill is designed to amend the status of only those who have worked hard, stayed out of trouble and contribute to our communities and economy. Right now, brilliant scholars and America’s next engineers, inventors, teachers and farmers are unable to obtain a Social Security number, and that is keeping them from completely contributing to our great state.
People who hear these stories about immigrants may wonder why these so-called dreamers don’t just get in line and wait in line, as many of our ancestors did at Ellis Island. The truth is that without passage of this important legislation, there is no viable way for these bright young people to fix their situation.
Putting partisan politics aside and allowing our youths to pursue higher education and enter our work force is the right thing to do. It is time to support the DREAM Act.
JEREMY A. VanMETER
Governing board member
Fairfield County Educational Service Center
Friday, September 17, 2010
- "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"
- "Arizona politicians are scapegoating immigrants"
- "We need comprehensive immigration reform now!"
- "Commissioner Selig, move the All-Star game....MOVE THE GAME!"
Two people were arrested and released on disorderly conduct. The 2011 All-star game is scheduled in 2011 in Chase Field in Phoenix.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Legislation Would Keep Next Generation American Leaders Contributing to U.S.
Washington, DC - The news that (D-NV) will bring up the bi-partisan DREAM Act is a welcome and significant step forward for the immigration debate. According to the Associated Press, pledged to attach the DREAM Act as an amendment to an upcoming defense policy bill.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, "The DREAM Act would be a significant first step toward achieving the ultimate goal of fixing the broken immigration system. We are excited to work with Senator Reid and other leaders of both parties to enact this vital legislation and to end one of the more counterproductive parts of our immigration system. The young people who would be affected by DREAM's passage are Americans in all but paperwork, embody the core values of our nation, and deserve the chance to pursue their own versions of the . Yet our broken immigration laws are getting in the way of them realizing their full potential - and we all suffer as a result. For both moral and economic reasons, it makes sense to keep a new generation of future American leaders in our nation and contributing to our communities."
About the DREAM Act: The DREAM Act is a bipartisan measure that would enable high-achieving young people - immigrants who have been raised here, have worked hard in school, and then pursue higher education or serve in the military - to achieve the American Dream. Seventy percent of Americans agree that it makes no moral or economic sense to spend taxpayer dollars arresting, jailing, and deporting youth who grew up in this country. The DREAM Act allows these young people to earn their citizenship and give back to the country they call home. A national poll of 1,008 adults, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for First Focus in June 2010, shows a stunning level of support, which cuts across regional and party lines. They found 70 percent overall support, 60% support from Republicans, and 80% support from Democrats.
Read more about the DREAM Act at AV's "DREAM 101": http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/entry/dream_act_101_as_fight_heats_up_time_to_read_up
Monday, September 13, 2010
It is ... not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted. We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.
And Hazelton is not alone. Sharing the dubious honor of owing Kobach a lot of money are Farmers Branch, Texas ($4,000,000), Valley Park, Missouri ($270,000) and Maricopa County, Arizona ($12,600 plus expenses). According to Political Correction this adds up to a whopping $6,600,000! Not a bad day’s pay for shoddy lawyering.
Along with the legal bills Kobach is developing an impressive record of courtroom defeats. His 3rdCircuit smack-down comes on the heels of Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling that S.B. 1070, Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law, also offended the Constitution. In case you hadn’t heard, Kobach was instrumental in drafting that law too.
Kobach claims to be an expert in the Constitution. But he might want to take a moment and read it. The good news is that even if he won’t the courts will.
In the meantime, if you live in small town America hold on to your wallets. And if Kobach visits your town you might want to count the silverware when he leaves.
Thursday, September 2, 2010