Monday, November 28, 2005

DNC: Bush Crosses the Line on Border Security; After Five Years of Failed Leadership, More of the Same

To: National Desk
Contact: Karen Finney or Luis Miranda, 202-863-8148, both of Democratic National Committee Press Office
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement on President Bushs campaign-style event today in Tucson and his failed policies on immigration:
"President Bush's campaign-style event today in Tucson comes after five years of failed leadership that has weakened America's border security, and allowed the extremist anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party to dominate the critical debate on immigration reform.
"To keep America safe, Democrats know we must have secure borders and an orderly flow of immigration, but scapegoating immigrants, as the Republican Party has done for political gain, is simply wrong. Voters resoundingly rejected the politics of polarization and Karl Rove's divisive tactics only a few weeks ago in elections all across the country. The message was clear: together, America can do better.
"President Bush's recent pronouncement that his ultimate goal was to expel every single undocumented immigrant from the country is not just a surrender to the far right, it's an irresponsible policy that does little to make America safer. Democrats are committed to comprehensive immigration reform that protects our borders, and provides cities and states the resources to keep our communities safe. A realistic approach must also protect American workers and their wages, while offering immigrants who have earned it the opportunities and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. Democrats will never abdicate the responsibility for a real immigration policy and its enforcement to vigilantes, or exploit people's fears for political gain. We demand the same of the President and the Republican Party."
See below for a new fact sheet on Bush's failed immigration policy:
GOP ON IMMIGRATION: PROMISES WITHOUT ACTION
President Bush promised to address immigration when he came to office five years ago, but since then he has not succeeded in passing any kind of immigration reform. His proposals have been fatally flawed and Republicans have not offered a comprehensive reform agenda. Instead, Republican policies amount to xenophobic, piecemeal, proposals that fail to address the most serious issues. Republican immigration policies have failed the American people.
ADMINISTRATION NOT SERIOUS ABOUT IMMIGRATION REFORM
Administration Officials Skipped First Senate Immigration Hearing. Eighteen months after President Bush first called on Congress to enact immigration reform that includes a temporary-worker plan for foreigners, two top officials of his administration were no-shows for the Senate's first major hearing on the issue. No detailed explanation was given as to why Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did not testify as scheduled, except that "they were not ready yet." (Arizona Republic, 7/25/05)
Bush Abandoned His Immigration Reform Partner; Mexican Experts Say Republicans Embarking On Anti-Immigrant Campaign Without Precedent. Mexican President Vicente Fox and President Bush began a close relationship after they took office, Fox in December 2000 and Bush a month later. They vowed to enrich ties and work on legalizing or giving amnesty to at least 4 million Mexicans and other undocumented workers in the United States. But a chill followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Bush didn't push an immigration accord. "This is an anti-immigration campaign without precedent. It's Mexico against Republicans, (California Gov. Arnold) Schwarzenegger, the Minutemen in Arizona, Bush's entire Cabinet," said Primitivo Rodriguez, a Mexican political scientist who specializes in immigration. Mexican community leaders have advocated going on strike to prove that U.S. employers couldn't survive without cheap Mexican labor. (Knight Ridder, 7/28/05)
Agent Who Foiled Bombing Couldn't Get Funding for a "Sniffer" Dog. Diana Dean, the US Customs agent who disrupted Ahmed Ressam's plan to car bomb LAX, told reporters that officials above her in the Customs Service would not authorize funding for a "sniffer" dog because her station at Port Angeles, Washington, did not get enough traffic. The funding was not allocated despite the fact that an Al Qaeda operative had already once tried to drive a car full of explosives through that checkpoint. (Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, 7/20/03)
BUSH'S FLAWED PLAN FAILED MISERABLY
Bush's Guestworker Program Would Virtually Guarantee Deportation for Millions. Bush's guestworker plan would force any undocumented immigrant who registered to return home if their employment ends or they are not renewed in the program after three years. The Bush plan also would not create any new way to put undocumented workers on the path to legal residency. (White House Press Briefing, 1/7/04; National Council of La Raza, 1/7/03; New York Times, 1/8/03)
Bush Would Leave Millions of Workers Stuck in Current System Where Residency Is Nearly Impossible. The Bush immigration plan would not provide any new means of putting immigrants who currently are living, working and paying taxes in the United States on a path to legal residency. Immigrants currently working in the US would have to apply under the current green card lottery, in which there are only 5,000 available for unskilled workers, and only 140,000 total available for all employment-based immigration. (White House Press Briefing, 1/7/04; New York Times, 1/8/03)
Bush's Call for More Green Cards Still Would Not Help Undocumented Immigrants in the US Today. Bush's call for increasing the number of green cards available would likely be of little help to current undocumented workers. With only 140,000 employment-based green cards, it is unlikely that any increase would supply enough for the majority of the 8 million undocumented immigrants. (AP, 1/7/04; White House Background Briefing, 1/6/04)
Bush Plan Ignores Family Sponsored Immigration Backlogs and 245(i). Bush's plan keeps families apart by not dealing with the tremendous backlog that family sponsored immigrants face and not addressing 245(i) or cutting the current ban on re-entry. Backlogs faced by siblings of US citizens currently range from 12 to 21 years, and other family sponsored categories have similar waits. The plan does not address reinstating 245(i), which allowed qualified immigrants to gain legal status without returning home, or cutting the current 3 year, 5 year, or permanent reentry bans imposed on those who came to the US illegally. (White House Press Briefing, 1/7/04; American Immigration Lawyers Association, www.aila.org; National Immigration Forum, www.immigrationforum.org) REPUBLICAN IMMIGRATION POLICIES INEFFECTIVE
Republican Immigration Bill Would Attempt To Deport 11 Million Immigrants, Many Who Have Lived Here For Years. Sens. Kyl and Cornyn's proposed immigration bill would require the estimated 10.3 million to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States to submit themselves to "mandatory departure" back to their home country before they could apply to return legally to the United States. Sen. John McCain, who is sponsoring a competing bi-partisan bill with Sen. Kennedy, called the plan a "fantasy" saying, "to think that they're going to come out of the shadows and say, 'Send me back to Guatemala; I've been living in Phoenix for 50 years,' borders on fantasy." Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank, said "only the McCain-Kennedy approach comes close to being practical." (Arizona Republic, 7/25/05)
Bush Waits Four Years After 9/11 to Deal with OTMs. When OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" as the Border Patrol classifies them, are captured they are given a court summons and told to return in three months. On the other hand, Mexicans are immediately deported. A full 85 percent of "OTMs" don't show up for their court dates. According to the Border Patrol, some 465,000 OTMs have taken advantage of this "catch and release" policy to settle here in the US. President Bush recently signed a measure to begin addressing the issue "in part, by adding Border Patrol agents and new technology along the border. It will also create more beds at detention facilities and expedite the removal of illegal immigrants caught in the country." (Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/05; Washington Post, 10/11/05)
Real ID Act Makes It Much More Difficult To Get A Drivers License. The Real ID Act was slipped into a financing bill for Iraq earlier this year. Under the new law, states must verify the authenticity of four pieces of identification from every license applicant, establish a data bank and issue a tamper-proof card. No state has to adopt the federal rules, but their driver's licenses and other state-issued ID cards wouldn't be recognized by federal-regulated operations such as airlines. The legislation also authorizes completion of a section of border fence near San Diego and tightens restrictions on asylum seekers. (Winston-Salem Journal, 7/25/05; Washington Times, 7/21/05)
Real ID Act Passes Unfunded Mandates Down To States. States claim that the new federal mandates could cost them up to $1 billion a year. Congress is proposing to contribute only $100 million toward the costs. "It would have been nice if they had consulted with the states," said Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. Hall calls the new law a "massive, unfunded federal mandate." Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, is threatening to sue the federal government. Montana legislators voted to ignore the law before it even passed. (Winston-Salem Journal, 7/25/05)
NCLR Said Real ID Act Does Nothing To Increase National Security And Undermines Public Safety. The "REAL ID Act" would result in an increased number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers on the roads, persons fleeing persecution from receiving humanitarian relief in the U.S., and additional fences along U.S. borders. "It is irresponsible for the House of Representatives to move forward on this ineffective and ill-conceived legislation," stated Janet Murguia, NCLR President and CEO. "If these provisions had been in place on September 11, 2001, they would not have stopped the terrorists from carrying out their attacks. The 'REAL ID Act' does nothing to enhance national security and it undermines public safety." (NCLR Release, 2/10/05)
Chief Border Protection Official Wants To Form Border Patrol Inspired By Minuteman Project. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner said that Border Patrol officials were investigating whether the agency should form its own civilian force. Bonner said the idea was inspired by the Minuteman Project. "It is actually as a result of seeing that there is the possibility in local border communities, and maybe even beyond, of having citizens that would be willing to volunteer to help the Border Patrol," Bonner said. (Los Angeles Times, 7/21/05)
-- LULAC Condemned "Minuteman" Vigilantism, Say They Spread Xenophobia. At a meeting of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the organization collectively condemned groups such as the "Minuteman Project" which seek to do the job of law enforcement officials. Paul Martinez, president of Las Cruces Council 120 of the League of United Latin American Citizens said, "These people do not represent the majority of New Mexicans," he said. "They claim to be helping law enforcement and say they are patriots. What they are doing is raising tensions, spreading hate and xenophobia." (Las Cruces Sun-News, 6/12/05)
-- Bonner's Revelation Came Only Months After He Called Such Civilian Patrols Dangerous. "The Border Patrol does this every day, and they are qualified and very well-trained to handle the situation," Bonner said in February 2005, pointing out that the Minutemen planned to carry firearms. "Ordinary Americans are not. So there's a danger that not just illegal migrants might get hurt, but that American citizens might get hurt in this situation." (Associated Press, 7/21/05)
DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR HISPANIC PRIORITIES ON IMMIGRATION
Democrats Believe Our Immigration Laws Must Reflect Our Core Values of Family Unity, Fundamental Fairness and Economic Opportunity. Democrats will continue fighting to extend Section 245(i), provide due process reforms, ensure refugee protection, and provide for earned legalization. Democrats will also work to give states flexibility in determining who receives in-state tuition and student assistance, and amend current immigration law to allow these students to become permanent residents. Democrats are working to ensure that as the new Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) subsumes the functions of the INS, the quality of services provided to immigrants and refugees is improved and the integrity of the naturalization process continues to be a priority. http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=57216&Link=http://democrats.senate.gov/hispanictaskforce/HispanicRollout.pdf
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Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=57216&Link=http://www.democrats.org. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=57216&Link=http://www.usnewswire.com/
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/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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