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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Immigration Spin: The O'Falafel Factor

FAIR President Dan Stein appeared on The Factor today, spinning a Republican revisionist view of immigration reform. My open letter to him:

Dear Mr. Stein,

I saw your appearance on the O'Reilly Factor today, and I feel compelled to write you. FAIR cites that their agenda of immigration reform is developed primarily for environmental reasons, ostensibly a liberal value. I am a liberal who supports immigration reform. Why do you then publicly castigate liberals, and characterize immigration reform a Republican value? In doing so you alienate a segment of your base that I believe can contribute significant support to this cause.

The fact is that Republican calls for immigration reform constitute little more than hollow saber rattling. Witness the current Intelligence reform bill -- it was FAIR's literature that informed me that the while the bill ostensibly calls for increases in border patrol agents, ICE investigators and detention bed space, these are "subject to appropriations" which means that there is no guarantee that money will be made available to implement them. Once again, it allows everyone to look like they're really doing something when they're actually doing squat.

President Bush has repeatedly affirmed his support for a steady flow of illegal immigrant labor that erodes working conditions for American workers, forcing them into an unfair competition for wages and resources. And although Republicans in Congress want to be seen to be tough on the immigration issue, you of all people know that their steady refusal to fund any of this showy legislation is tantamount to rubber stamping the President's policy.

You denigrate Democratic efforts, and yet I believe that Democrats have often taken leadership in this area. It is my understanding that it was Barbara Jordan's commission that recommended cutting the major links of family chain migration in S. 1664, the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996, eliminating the categories for adult children and siblings and limiting that for parents of adults. And wouldn't the Feinstein Amendment to S. 1664 have reduced annual admissions of spouses and minor children of citizens to 480,000? Both of these measures failed, but not because of overwhelming Republican support.

Further, in 1998, when the Senate passed the H-1B bill (S. 1723), didn't the Senate vote down an amendment by Ted Kennedy that would have prohibited U.S. firms from using temporary foreign workers to replace Americans? Didn't powerful Republicans like Orrin Hatch successfully oppose a Kennedy-Feinstein Ammendment that would have ensured no Americans were laid off or displaced prior to hiring an H1-B employee, and that employers demonstrate they had previously taken timely and effective steps to hire a qualified American?

Didn't Senator Edward Kennedy also co-sponsor S 1749, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2001? Although the bill did not pass, it is my understanding that many of the main provisions of this bill were included in H.R. 3525, which was signed into law in May 2002.

If I am wrong about these instances, please let me know. I believe that although both Democrats and Republicans have mutually piss-poor records on immigration reform, a minority of Democrats have been in the forefront of at least trying to protect American workers from unfair competition, albeit unsuccessfully. I appreciate your efforts at immigration reform, and hope that in the future you will reconsider your language that alienates people like me. Unless, of course, you are looking to define your organization along Republican lines. In that case, I believe it is incumbent upon you to stop using the word "non-partisan."

Word up: If you're pandering for a return invite to the No Shame Zone -- a little less fact bashing, a little more talkin' dirty.