Celebrate Victory, then All Hands on Deck for Immigration Reform

By Al Giordano

While so much of the US news media was understandably focused on the Health Care Reform debate on Capitol Hill, and a few thousand (and that’s a generous head count) tea-bagger protesters against it, also in eyeshot from Congress today, one half million strong rallied for immigration reform.

You can see that much larger group in the photo above. I didn’t want to let this day pass without making sure they were seen and heard here.

Unlike the decimal-sized gaggle of tea-baggers, not one immigration reformer shouted “nigger” at civil rights hero John Lewis, not one yelled “faggot” at Barney Frank, and certainly none slurred Congressman Ciro Rodríguez as a “wetback.” None of the peaceful demonstrators for Immigration Reform held up placards with pistols on them threatening violence, as was cheered at a tea-bagger demo on Saturday.

According to the local Fox news affiliate (not a network known to exaggerate progressive head counts), the Immigration Reform marchers numbered half-a-million strong. They showed, as they have since May 1, 2006, their superior discipline and mobilizing capacity to that of any other movement or cause in the United States in recent decades.

Although many members of the Hispanic Caucus in the US House have declared, again and again, that their number-one priority is legislating a path for citizenship for twelve million undocumented Americans, they unanimously showed up and supported the Health Care Reform legislation and its reconciliation bill tonight. They did so even after swallowing defeats and compromises that blocked so many undocumented Americans from access to the newly legislated improvements in the Health Care system.

Without the votes of those 23 House members, today’s battle would not have been the historic victory for Health Care Reform that we have just lived to see.

It’s objectively true, once again, that the Democratic coalition owes them, but that is not at all the only reason why Immigration Reform must now, at this precise hour, be driven through to victory.

It is unconscionable that twelve million people – children, elders, workers, homemakers – in the United States of America are left defenseless and persecuted for simply existing. Other than the comparatively very small number of full-blooded descendants of Native Americans that are still around today, and so many African-Americans whose ancestors were kidnapped and brought to this hemisphere in chains, every single one of the rest of US citizens likewise come from immigrant stock. The injustice of deporting people who are so much like our grandparents and great grandparents is as un-American an impulse as could be exercised.

To leave the status quo in place would mean continuing to rip mothers and fathers away from their children (as happens so often when the children, having been born in the US, are citizens but the parent is not considered “legal”). And, of course, continuing such policies to their natural conclusion by attempting to deport twelve million people or even one tenth of them would be unworkable, more expensive and harmful than any of the problems such enforcement claims to cure. And that’s why, on Friday, even Republican US Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) joined with US Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to announce their upcoming legislation in a Washington Post op ed column: The right way to mend immigration.

Beyond the policy and moral common sense of pushing immigration reform through to victory in this now historic year of 2010, there are political imperatives for progressives of opening the door so that these twelve million undocumented brothers and sisters, when they turn 18, will be able to vote alongside of us.

For the Democrats, this should be a no-brainer: The influx of newly eligible voters would turn swing states Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico deep blue. It would usher Arizona from red to blue. And it would soon enough put even Texas in the swing-state category, winnable again for Democrats.

And yet (as Graham and others have noted) it also makes sense for Republicans to get out of the way of this inevitable reform: Not to do so further alienates their chances at winning the votes of some thirty million Hispanic-Americans (and Asian-Americans and others) who are US citizens and for whom reform is a deeply personal and important matter.

It was the same right wing coalition that flooded the US Capitol switchboard in May 2007 to defeat the last push for immigration reform that in recent days and weeks attempted to do the same against Health Care Reform. Today’s vote knocks them back on their heels, off balance, demoralized and squabbling among themselves. (Wait 'til Rush Limbaugh finds out that to move to another country he will have to confront its own immigration laws!)

This is not a moment for authentically progressive Americans to rest on our laurels. It is, rather, the hour to go in for the knock-out punch and to defeat the haters and their demagogues on the very issue that they last were able to claim victory. To do so would break their spirits for a generation to come, fulfilling the hope that took its first baby step in November 2008.

Now, as with any great and sweeping change, the push for Immigration Reform is going to fray the coalition a bit, just as the push for Health Care Reform (and the New Deal and the Great Society) before that did.

When it comes to Immigration Reform, there will be those – some we might not expect yet – who will become kill-billies and behave just as hatefully and hysterically as the ones we’ve just seen implode over Health Care. Some will attempt to toss grenades into the process and claim their pot shots are from “the left,” or, more laughably, from “the base” - just as they did on Health Care.

Let me please serve notice to each and every one of you on this historic night when we have the Health Care victory fresh in our hands. We will either convince you (nice to have you on board for the final battle, Dennis, Howard and others) or we will roll right over you (I’m lookin’ at you, fire-baggers and tea-baggers alike).

Lead, follow or get out of the way, but Immigration Reform is coming.

I leave you with this image of the president with a fallen friend, the one who was the champion both of Health Care Reform and of Immigration Reform…

When we are moving forward, we keep moving forward.

Field Hands, community organizers, readers, colleagues and friends: in the words of that old gospel spiritual, one that also represents the historic best of the United States of America that we saw revived tonight: “People get ready, there’s a train a ‘comin’, you don’t need no ticket, you just get on board…”

Update: Here's video from yesterday's immigration reform rally with the videotaped message from the President:

Key words: "This year."

 

Comments

Si se puede!!

OFA here in Texas has already started a massive voter registration campaign.  There is so much energy behind Bill White's campaign combined with major demographic shifts that I think Texas may surprise a lot of people this year.

So glad you posted on these

So glad you posted on these two issues tonight, Al--it wouldn't be as sweet a victory withoutyour wisdom.  Thanks for all you do.

Re:Si se puede!!

Nothing like sweet victory to soothe the hard work of months and get you yearning for more, eh? We've still got a full slate of legislation to get through, and we need each and everyone one of those bills to get to President Obama's desk, and none of them has more morale imperative packed in it than immigration reform.

Not only that

"For the Democrats, this should be a no-brainer: The influx of newly eligible voters would turn swing states Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico deep blue. It would usher Arizona from red to blue. And it would soon enough put even Texas in the swing-state category, winnable again for Democrats."

The dividends are even greater, if you consider how rapidly the Hispanic populations are growing all over the country. I could see some stronger numbers for the Democrats in states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Florida; while possibly helping to flip other states (I'm looking at you, Georgia!).

Not to mention this could be the thing to save Harry Reid from losing his senate seat come November...

Immigration marchers misidentified by FOX

Late this afternoon, Fox news showed three lines of people walking to or from a Washington rally--I'm not sure which.  The people were obviously mostly nonwhite and the lines were steady and constant during the broadcast. However, Fox identified the people as people who were marching for or against health care reform, after saying the anti-HCR folk far outnumbered the pro-HCR folk, so the implication was that these were legions of teabaggers.  But a closer look at the crowd revealed that these were Immigration marchers.  Fox attempted to hijack their numbers and attach them to the tea-baggers.  Desperation reigns.

Mikell Hagood

One Fieldhand's perspective

I was at the Mall, and I confess I actually hadn't known there was an immigration reform rally happening before I got on the Metro and saw the dozens upon hundreds of people packing the trains. I hadn't seen anything like it since Inauguration Day. It was truly awe-inspiring seeing all these passionate people peacefully exercising their Constitutional rights.

I also got handed a Larouche pamphlet while I was there. That was a bit of a head-scratcher.

Anyway, Al is right to say that the anti-reform protesters numbered a thousand at best. I would put the count at more like 500, and it was dwindling fast by the time I got there. What was really interesting was the conversations I could strike up and overhear. There was some yelling but not much outright hostility. My friend and I spent most of our time just listening to anybody who wanted to talk to us and not even arguing very much in response unless invited to give our input. Interestingly enough, tea party protesters become very nice and even reasonable once they realize that you're not going to shout at them. And that allowed me to get my point of view across and even to tell them a few facts that they hadn't considered before. My friend scored a big point when one protester asked him, "What has government ever done right that the private sector couldn't do?" My friend had been reading Al Franken books and promptly responded, "Rural electrification." The response from the protester was, "Huh. You know, I hadn't considered that, but you have a good point."

This is the way we reach people, and it truly works.

Edit: Wow, I must have been really tired when I wrote this last night. I'll just fix up some of those typos.

Good job, Ernest

That's called organizing. Props to you.

Superior Discipline

Thrilled and humbled at the "superior discipline" displayed today in DC by supporters of Immigration Reform.  I am in total agreement with Al that this is the year to reject the status quo and work to get the change we seek.

@ Ernest Le:  I had an experience with a "teabirther" last week.   I kept my cool and answered with facts.  She hugged me before she left and said she enjoyed our discussion.  Nice to know others are staying cool and providing facts, too.

 

Lorie and Ernest

Right on. Did you catch that clip a few days ago of the protestor in Ohio who has Parkinsons, and he simply sat silently right in front of the teabirthers? The baggers started screaming "Get a job!!1!1!!" and such and began throwing money in the guys face suggesting he use it to "pay for his healthcare."

Turns out he's a Ph.D nuclear scientist who had to quit when his symptoms became too severe, and he just stared at them as the foam began foaming at their mouths. Through the video and subsequent coverage, that guy did more to discredit the entire fake teabagger "movement" with their millions of behind-the-scenes money from Big Money, than most of the online "activism" from many leading "Liberal" blogs. Maintain the high road and let them discredit themselves. It's easy when you have truth and facts on your side, and the majority of people agree when they see it on display as clearly as that recent encounter in Ohio. The good "doctor" clearly understood this history.

Congrats on following in that tradition of "killing hate with kindness." The ability to rapidly read the dynamics of each individual issue and come up with the best strategy to respond to each unique moment seems at the core of Organizing to me, and non-violent protest seems to always be the most effective strategy over history. Hell, even the Founding Fathers and Mothers first had to get enough people to believe in them and the cause, in other words had to Organize, before starting to fight and spill blood. Onward and upward!

People Get Ready

Love your perspective

Thanks, Al.  I always run to your blog to see what you have to say following any major event.  Your perspective is always different.  This time your clear-eyed vision is right on.  I don't know what the outcome will be, but the conversation on immigration policy must begin.  Keep the plate filled high! Work on the tough stuff now!

Thank you, Al

Thank you, Al.  Perfect timing, so good to read this. Especially:

"Other than the comparatively very small number of full-blooded descendants of Native Americans that are still around today, every single one of the rest of US citizens likewise come from immigrant stock. The injustice of deporting people who are so much like our grandparents and great grandparents is as un-American an impulse as could be exercised."

I wonder if more people would join us if we had the rally at Ellis Island, Plymouth Roack, or Jamestown?

Yes We Did...and a mild correction.

Oh Al...you are SO right on so many fronts. Now that health care is ON ITS WAY (we're not finished yet, by a long shot!), we can turn our attention to all of the other BIG changes that need to happen; including immigrant reform.

I would like to issue a correction to a statement in your post:  "Other than the comparatively very small number of full-blooded descendants of Native Americans that are still around today, every single one of the rest of US citizens likewise come from immigrant stock."

Uh, not ALL of us come from immigrants. A very large percentage of Americans were brought here against their will in chains from their motherland. Without centuries of free slave labor and the almost-free centuries of less-than-full citizenship and wage/opportunity equality, America would NOT be the 1st-rate country it USED TO BE.

Please everyone, remember that. As it is, people are trying to pit Blacks and Hispanics against each other, because they know that if and when Blacks and Hispanics come together...oh my!

When EVERYONE in this country has equal rights and equal opportunities, then America will TRULY be great.

@ Pamela

I thought the same thing last night when thinking about immigration reform (and basking in our victory last night!): that the forces of opposition would try to put wedges between Hispanics and Blacks (by convincing them that IR will be a zero-sum game between them).  Do you (or anyone here) know of pre-emptive efforts between the diverse ethnic communities to bridge existing gaps and prepare for the onslaught of misdirection and mischief meant to cause fear and division?  I hope organizers are already out there doing that work and laying the groundwork for a more united front.

@ Pam

Pam - Oops! Thanks for the reminder. I've added some words to correct that paragraph. (In the euphoria of the moment, I just spaced that out.)

The march and rally were

The march and rally were pretty awesome.

 

Most of the tea-baggers were gone by the time I got to the Capitol but the ones that remained seemed a bit overwhelmed by a genuinely large crowd.

 

I think reform will pass next year at the latest, possibly this year if the HCR victory emboldens Dems. It's also a politically toxic issue for Republicans - damned if they support or oppose.

?- Health Care is really a victory?

I'm sorry.. between my job and my kids and the activism that I'm involved in, I try to keep up on alternative media so that I know what's going on with every part of the overall progressive agenda on all fronts.

But I am really confused why the Health Care Reform passed by the Democrats is considered a huge victory? I'm sincerely not trying to troll, I don't have a hidden agenda and I am really just trying to understand what is considered so good about this bill.

I was talking with my mom last night -- a life-long supporter of the Democratic Party because of our family's association with Bricklayers Local 7 in Akron, Ohio.

Our understanding is that everyone is now forced to purchase private health care (similar to how auto insurance works -- except you can opt out of that by just not driving), there is no public option and the only real reform that has come out of this is some regulation around pre-existing conditions and insurers' ability to deny coverage (which... I guess you would have to be a lawyer to understand if this is really going to change the day-to-day situation for workers).

Can somebody here explain why this is a "historic" victory for the left? It looks to me like everybody who wasn't insured because they couldn't afford it is now going to be forced to buy, giving private health insurance companies a HUGE new mass of customers.

I've heard that one of the victories is that now states can pass a single-payer option if they want but is that really true? Couldn't a state have regulated insurers like that before?

I'm sorry.. again, I'm honestly not trying to troll but I think a lot of people would be interested in understanding why this is seen as a huge victory. I am personally undecided until I understand better what has happened.

 

@ Jim

Jim - First of all, whatever you consider to be "alternative media" giving you "the progressive agenda" should be dumped from your reading list if it tells you bold faced lies like "everyone is now forced to purchase private health care."

Those "alternative media" have lied to you and manipulated you.

The poor and the working poor won't be forced to buy anything. The so-called mandate only applies to those earning 150 percent or more above Medicare poverty levels (i.e. for a family of four earning $46,000 or less, there is no mandate).

Furthermore, the only enforcement for the mandate for those above that level is - *if* enforced at all (and there is plenty of reason to doubt that there can or will be enforcement of it) - a two percent tax on income (i.e. for someone who earns $50,000 in *taxable* income, it would be a one thousand dollar fine. Do I agree with that? No. Do I think it is the end of the world or really that terrible? Not that either. How will it be enforced (if, at all)? By subtracting it from tax rebate checks.

So nobody is "forced" to do anything. There are no criminal penalties. And the fines, if enforced, are quite low. (There are other exemptions from the "mandate" including for US citizens living abroad.)

So, you can go back to those "alternative media" sites that fed you that BS and take them off your favorites list on your browser, or cancel your subscription. They are neither "alternative" nor authentic.

OFA

Here is what OFA did:

Statistics from Final March to Reform:
· Made nearly 500,000 real-people calls to Congress.
· Sent 324,000 letters to Congress.
· Held nearly 1,200 health care-related events with more than 10,000 attendees.
· Sent nearly 1 million localized text messages.
· Called nearly 120,000 supporters using OFA's Neighbor-to-Neighbor tool online.
TOTAL ACTIONS IN PAST 10 DAYS = Nearly 1.2 million

Since the June 6 launch of the health care campaign, OFA has:
· Held more than 30,000 health care related events in every Congressional District, in all 50 states.
· Organized more than 65,000 congressional office visits for health insurance reform during one week.
· Generated more than 315,000 calls to Congress in support of reform in a single day and more than 1.5 million calls overall.
· 238,000 people have shared their personal health care stories.
· 2.7 million people have taken action with Organizing for America on the campaign to enact health insurance reform.
· 9.3 million volunteer hours have been pledged for legislators who fight for health reform.

 

Video added

Check out the video, added above, of the President's (also videotaped) remarks to yesterday's immigration reform rally.

Still Euphoric

@Al: Thanks for the correction. Not that it's a "contest", but except for the 1st Nations, Blacks in America have been treated the worst for the longest...and I say that as a 1/4 member of the Choctaw Nation...still waiting for my "reparations" from the oil reserves found under our reservation in Oklahoma after we were forcibly removed from our original home in Arkansas...another broken American "treaty promise.

@Russell: Unfortunately, there is a lot of animosity between Blacks and Hispanics that won't disappear this year. There's a lot of hard work on many fronts ahead of all of us. This is a BIG conversation; possibly for another venue.

@Laura: Yay for the hard work of OFA!

This year?

I was at the march in Atlanta four years ago. My husband's mother and sister are undocumented and this means a lot for our family.

Al, when Obama says "this year" does that mean they'll vote on it this year? Is immigration really going to get done this year?

Thanks for the Correction and Video

Thanks to Pamela and Al for the clarification concerning 1st Nations and African Americans.

My Late Mother's people were in Quebec (Grandmother Land) for hundreds of years.  One of the main reasons I support Authentic Journalism is how connected I feel with the rest of the Americas and the World.

White Shield [Arikara] has given simple words that I work to live: "The color of the skin makes no difference.  What is good and just for one is good and just for the other."

I enjoy the excellent comments and helpful links provided by my fellow co-publishers.  Respectful and real keeps me focused while I continue to labor and deliver out here in The Field.

The video of folks at THE rally, watching the big screen message from Prez. Obama, brought me back to the Inauguration Concert, with my then 10 year old daughter and other family members.  She was at our side during the State of the Union Address at our OFA Office.  She can vote in 6 years.

Al, I love that song you quoted above.

May I say that the train is in the station.

"All Aboard, We the People!"

 

The Health Care Reform Bill: What It Does

Al-Jazeera has a good summary of exactly what is included in this health care reform. There are some huge reforms that will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of people. You can see their summary here:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/03/20103224250561653.html

 

What I think "this year" means...

Tess - I think it means that there will be a major attempt to do it in 2010.

As we saw from Health Care Reform (which the administration had hoped to get done in 2009) the obstructionist tactics of the opposition (not to mention the purity trolling from some of its own supposed allies) pushed it three months into 2010.

The bottom line though is the ball is about to begin rolling.

We're All Connected

@Lorie: I feel the same way you do about Authentic Journalism. Al, when I finally receive both of my "reparations", I'll be able to fund A.J. for the next century! (Don't hold your breath!)

There's a saying that I am horribly mis-quoting: when your boot is on someone else's neck to hold them down, you can't move either.

How long will it take people to realize that?

Another hopeful sign

For what it's worth: the fact that CNN canned Lou Dobbs last November suggests that the wedge of the immigration has considerably dulled.

Reforma Migratoria

Corrected version:

Al,

Thank you for covering the immigration march. A cursory look at a number of dailies indicates that yesterday's march was not well covered by the mainstream media, in favor of the health care debate. I was shocked that even here in Mexico, where the majority of the newspapers are run by the oligarchy, the issue was either not raised, or was devoted little space. I was very pleased to see it mentioned here at "Narco News."

That said, I must say how disappointed I am with President Obama. Before I continue with my remarks, watch this episode of News with Nezua, at 4:35 in, you will see that Candidate Obama made a series of promises, including immigration reform within his first year:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzWTHLehwK8

The President yesterday pledged to give the issue full support yesterday, while making a recorded statement on VIDEO. Had Mr. Obama really wanted to show his backing, he would have gone to the mall, or at least made a LIVE speech, if security issues prohibited such an appearance.

No one argues that the President talks the right talk; his rhetoric is inspiring, and in many cases coincides with what should be a progressive agenda. Unfortunately, his actions speak louder than words. His first act of betrayal was the appointment of Janet Napolitano as head of the Department of Homeland Security. It was here that Napolitano at one time even backed human rights abuser Joe "Arpayaso" Arpaio. Now, under her leadership, the Obama Administration revealed two weeks ago, that more undocumented immigrants were deported in 2009 compared to 2008. A total of 387, 790! 13 percent MORE than under Bush! This makes me at time wonder (although for opposite reasons) if Congressman Joe Wilson was right when he scolded Obama on immigration, exclaiming, "You lie!"

Might I also show my support for a comprehensive immigration reform package, but let me also enumerate my major concerns:

1) Under the Schumer/Graham bill, both senators support a biometric national ID card, as a part of a bi-partisan push to pass it. This should be a red flag for everyone. There is no empirical evidence to show this in itself will stop the ingress of undocumented immigrants into the country. At the same time, it forces anyone (including American citizens) to bow down to Uncle Sam, to have the privilege to work.

The privacy concerns are too numerous to mention, but has anyone considered how such a measure would only give law enforcement and Uncle Sam the right to discriminate? Let's say the measure does pass and two years down the line cops will employ even more onerous checks, all in the name of making sure everyone is legal. If you look like a minority, you will likely face greater discrimination.

2) Most of the proposals call for greater use of E-verify and "securing" up the border by use of electronic and mechanical obstructional means. Both measures are expensive, and recent studies show neither is effective. The E-verify has failed to deliver, coming up with hundreds of errors, impacting native born citizens in the process. After several billions invested at the border, the idea of a virtual barrier is no-longer viable, as main contractor Boeing has not been able to deliver an impervious tool.

http://mediamatters.org/research/200903090024?f=h_latest

http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/virtual-fence-broken-beyond-repair.html

3) Much discussion is also centered around the idea of criminalizing future undocumented immigrants. The current law stipulates that unauthorized crossing is a civil offense, not CRIMINAL. (Something much akin to jaywalking.) By changing the law, those who arrive in the future will be further marginalized by such a definition. Tomorrow's immigrants will be worse off than those who are escoriated by a cadre of racist paramilitaries such as the Minutemen for not having "papers."

And for goodness sakes, to think that unauthorized immigration will just stop in its tracks due to a tougher law is plain ridiculous. The human story is comprised of immigration. Whether you accept the idea man emigrated from his origins out of Africa or that Adam and Eve left the garden of Eden, the idea is the same. Man has been mobile from the beginning and continues to be mobile.

4) Fines. While Rep. Guitierrez' bill calls for a $500 fine, my sources tell me some Republicans will ask upwards of $5,000 per head! This will be completely counterproductive. Imagine a family of 5- that's $25,000! That does not even factor in attorney fees. Who has that kind of money especially after the Great Recession?

In order for immigration reform to be complete, the U.S. also needs to look at the root of the problem: its own policy (and that's something this bill lacks). NAFTA has created the giant "sucking sound" that H. Ross Perot once predicted not only in the U.S. economy, but in Mexico as well. It is unconscionable to think that due to this treaty, it is cheaper to buy imported corn from the U.S. than it is to grow it. Odd, since Mexico is the birthplace of corn! Is it any wonder that emigration from Mexico is so rampant. They can't compete with this imperialist policy. (I could also make some of my own inferences about how the Iniciativa Merida has only fomented more violence, teaching future hitmen or "sicarios" and arming them with U.S. backed hardware. Would you blame someone living on the border for leaving out of necessity?)

Might I finally add that Congress needs to change the 1996 laws which prohibited an immigration judge from canceling a pending deportation order. Extenuating circumstances used to be taken into consideration for family members who have been in the country since childhood, etc. Current federal law is inhumane requiring deportation.

I would also hope that spouses of American citizens be given immediate attention, with a special temporary visa given on an expedited basis. (I am very emotional about this issue after having been forced into Mexico, after my wife was returned to her country even WITH a VISA! More information here: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/03/local/me-tobar3 I currently host a daily radio show out of Mexico on Spanish language station in Idaho.)

In summary, let me add my voice to the throng of supporters for comprehensive immigration reform. It is something that is near and dear to my heart. But at the same time, let's not accept a poorly-crafted pile of canine fecal matter, only in the name of getting it passed. Let's examine all facets of immigration and its underlying reasons before we pursue anything rash.

I Call Hogwash, Chupacabras!

Chupacabras - Let me remind you of what I just wrote, above (as I'm guessing you either didn't read it or it went in one eye and out the other):

"Now, as with any great and sweeping change, the push for Immigration Reform is going to fray the coalition a bit, just as the push for Health Care Reform (and the New Deal and the Great Society) before that did.

"When it comes to Immigration Reform, there will be those – some we might not expect yet – who will become kill-billies and behave just as hatefully and hysterically as the ones we’ve just seen implode over Health Care. Some will attempt to toss grenades into the process and claim their pot shots are from 'the left,' or, more laughably, from 'the base' - just as they did on Health Care.

"Let me please serve notice to each and every one of you on this historic night when we have the Health Care victory fresh in our hands. We will either convince you (nice to have you on board for the final battle, Dennis, Howard and others) or we will roll right over you (I’m lookin’ at you, fire-baggers and tea-baggers alike).

"Lead, follow or get out of the way, but Immigration Reform is coming."

I don't know you. I'm not familiar with your work. But you talk as if those paragraphs refer to you!

Now, when I say we will roll over you, it won't just be me, but also the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, and a whole lot more of us.

You wanna play Jane Hamsher on this one? She's political roadkill now, right alongside the PUMAs of 2008. If you (or anyone else) wanna join that rogue's gallery of purity trolls, be my effing guest!

You can see from the cheers in that video above that most of the assembled at Sunday's rally feel quite the same way.

If you want to be a dick, and let the perfect be the enemy of the good, it's a free world. But be prepared to lose and, if you don't come around and you still, at crunch time, join with the haters on the ultra-right to get in the way (as the fire-baggers and tea-baggers did on health care reform), prepare to be rolled over just like they were.

Sincerely and very, very seriously,

Al Giordano

Congress

Immigration reform is something that needs to be passed by Congress and as it isn't directly budget-related, it will need 60 votes in the Senate, which means getting at least one Republican on board.

That Congress proved itself able to recover from a devastating setback on healthcare reform and get the damn bill passed will be a great help to our efforts to pass immigration reform, not to mention every other major part of Obama's agenda. Members of Congress must have much more confidence in themselves now that they know they really can do tough, big things.

What we need to see, and I haven't come across it yet, is a specific strategy for getting immigration reform through Congress. As usual, many of the left are obsessed with Obama and his "will" and ignore Congress.

The obvious way to proceed is to have the House go first, since the Senate is still slowly slogging its way through everything the House passed last year (cap and trade, financial reform, etc). My concern here is that the debate over the last couple of months has revealed that members of the House are almost pathologically paranoid about the Senate. They feel they took a very tough vote on cap and trade and were hung out to dry by the Senate. Most of the past two months was spent convincing them that they had to go ahead and trust the Senate and proceed with healthcare.

Immigration reform is going to be a huge fight, and we know the xenophobia and racism on the right is going to be UGLY. The question is not whether Obama has the will to do immigration reform but whether members of Congress have the courage.

What can supporters of immigration reform do to encourage members of the House to have the courage and trust to take a tough vote first on immigration reform?

Are there alternative strategies, such as sending it through the Senate first? What are the costs and benefits of these strategies? This is the kind of information I want to see as we move forward with immigration reform.

Al, Take it easy man. I am

Al,

Take it easy man. I am not saying I am against the proposal nor that I will oppose it. Quite to the contrary. I have been pushing for this for a long time and am not ready to simply give it up. What I did want to do (and obviously it worked) was offer some food for thought, so that we can look at ALL the issues involved. (I push for this every day on my show and have aired much positive information for Reform for America, a coalition of 800 groups supporting such legislation, and plan on doing so in the future.

I say that as an admirer of your work.

I also laud all the parties involved pushing for such a plan. I just think that sometimes it does a mind good to stir things up intellecturally.

I will roll with the umbrella organizations, but please let us express some concerns that might make the bill even better, that is all I am saying.

 

 

Six Republicans in 2007

Laura - In 2007 there were only six Republican Senators who voted for cloture on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill:

McCain (R-AZ), Martínez (R-FL), Lugar (R-IN), Hagel (R-NE), Voinovich (R-OH), and Graham (R-SC).

Worse, the real problem was 13 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus that voted against cloture:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Senators Jay Rockefeller and Robert Byrd (D-WV), Sen. Mary Landreiu (D-LA), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK), Sen. John Tester (D-MT), and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

There are your fault lines, in a nutshell.

Of the Republicans, Martinez is gone and Voinovich isn't seeking reelection, he'll be definitively gone after this year (if the battle extends into 2011).

Graham can probably hold McCain and some of the others (Lugar isn't a hater, for example) but the real challenge will be to bring the Democrats in line for it. Most of them had pledged to support the bill in 07 but chickened out after Capitol switchboards were flooded by Limbaugh, et al. This time, though, there is OfA to enforce a little discipline.

That's another reason it has to be done in 2010: the math will likely be worse next year.

Another clarification

Please understand, I didn't take your words personally. I never interpreted them as such. I hope you didn't take mine in the same manner. As I mentioned, I was hoping to spur debate on the issue, and  as I mentioned "..let me add my voice to the throng of supporters for comprehensive immigration reform. It is something that is near and dear to my heart."

@ Chupacabras

Okay, Dude. That sounds a lot more reasonable. The big thing is it needs 60 votes for cloture in the Senate. And, as I pointed out in my comment above, there are 13 Democratic weasels from the last battle along with some Republicans that will be needed.

I don't disagree with your concerns about National ID card (the 2007 bill had an opt-out provision for states) or any attempt to increase the fines beyond what folks can afford, but for a moment I thought you were channeling Glenn Greenwald (who never met a progressive bill with a chance to pass that he liked). If that's not the case, I'll ratchet it down. Blame it on HuffPo Burn!

Question for Al and the community:

Do you think that holding the huge rally the same day as the health care bill, which guarenteed it would recieve hardly any media coverage, was a smart move?  I think it would've been widely covered had they held it this week or next week.  The 2006 demonstrations had pretty widespread coverage.  I realize there are provisions in the comprehensive health care reform bill that upset people who care deeply about immigration reform and getting immigrants fully integrated into the health care system.  But shouldn't the time to lean on lawmakers to change these be when the HCR bill is in committee, rather than on the final vote?

@ Decatur

Decatur - My informed understanding is that the rally had been planned months in advance (really, one has to do that to organize the folks to travel to it), whereas the Health Care vote was scheduled just days in advance. Nobody knew until very recently that the vote would take place on Sunday.

@ Decatur

I second Al's remarks.

I also think it serendipitous for the future of organizing for change, OFA, included.  Under the radar, yet in plain sight, 100,000+ people marched peacefully. President Obama knew they were coming.  Healthcare Reform did not stop him from taking the time  to let people know that he will work with them on such an important life issue, just as he did with health care.

I'm sure these facts have not gone unnoticed by GNOP and the teabag folks.

Unemployment Will Be The Right's Tool.

The real danger with immigration reform is that as unemployment continues to remain high, the right-wing will no doubt use it as a tool to appeal to the most nationalist tendencies of the general public to stop immigration reform.


As for healthcare, it has some good things in it, but at the same time the insurance companies are celebrating the fact that they have millions of new customers by force.

To OFA / Al

May you peeps can forward this excellent piece of  fact filled rebuttals to rethugs by Russell King over at TPM to DNC/DSCC/Whitehouse ?

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/a/m/americandad/2010/03/an-open-letter-to-conservative.php?ref=mp

amk

A little confused ... my final take on HCR

Hi Al,

I'm a little bit confused by your take on this issue and would be interested in hearing even a brief response to this:

"Jim" from Akron above (actually a woman named Brigid, not sure why it says "Jim," she says she put her real name) is a friend of mine from NE Ohio. We both come from hardcore union families and she's visiting with me.

There is an interesting interview with Dennis Kucinich (Representative from Ohio's 10th District) and Ralph Nader about the health care reform bill from Democracy Now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTU-9pAejTI

I agree with just about everything said in this interview and I also support Dennis in his attempt to get the public option into the bill. And, I really don't see what is wrong with this ... if there WAS a way to get the public option into the bill and get it passed, why NOT try for that?

We don't know exactly what was said between Rahm & dissident Democratic representatives or between Obama & dissident Democratic representatives and I don't claim to be an expert on the political composition of the House on this matter but why NOT fight to get the public option in there if you could also get the votes to pass the bill?

And then, if President Obama comes to you with only a few days remaining and says that the public option is out of the question, I don't see anything wrong with changing your vote. Of course, with the way things turned out, Rep Kucinich could have voted against the bill and it still would have passed and maybe that's what he should have done.

The public option is not revolutionary -- yes, it would have enormous ramifications for the insurance industry and forever change that industry's landscape. But isn't that the point?

The HCR bill that passed DOES deliver millions of new customers to private insurers with tons of loopholes that favor the industry. My prediction is that there will be a bunch of new private plans that come out that are SO bad for the buyer but will enable people to purchase the minimum plan necessary to avoid fines from the IRS. It will basically be like having no insurance except that you have to pay $50 - $150 a month to essentially not have insurance.

In the end, I support the actions of fellow Ohioan Dennis Kucinich. He did everything he could to at least get the public option in there and when it became clear that it wasn't possible, he pledged his vote to this bill. And, I don't see what's wrong with that.

Finally, I really wonder how "impossible" it was to pass the bill with the public option. If there had been the same amount of arm-twisting for the public option, maybe it would have been possible. But we'll never really know.

I do think that leaving the public option out jeopardizes the Democratic Party's changes in mid-term elections. A bill with the public option would have been unmistakably good for the people. From what I can tell, from speaking with friends, family and activists in Ohio, many people don't believe that this bill will really overhaul health insurance in their favor. Obama really will need to sell this bill in the meantime.

But, Al, I guess what I'm confused about is what harm is caused by continuing to try and get the public option into the bill, as Dennis did. He's no idiot and he must have thought theee was a possibility to get that in there and get the votes and maybe that's true if the White House pursued a different strategy. But what's wrong with at least trying?

Kucinich's revisionist history

Ryan - Dennis Kucinich has offered thousands of words justifying his acrobatics in the recent months. I see it as an attempt to rewrite the history that he voted "no" on health care reform in the first round (last December).

Voting "no" accomplished nothing toward getting a public option into the bill. Nothing at all. But it did come very close to killing any chances of any health care reform whatsoever.

Nothing in the bill that passed stops public option from being voted on and enacted in the future. I think you (and whatever bloggers or politicians you are reading to develop your scenario, above) grossly underestimate how the Senate was the difficult chamber on this, and how the balancing act of getting 60 senators to vote for cloture when added in with the lightning rod abortion issue and other factors did indeed make public option a non-starter for this bill (yet without prohibiting it from coming up again in the future).

The desperate efforts by some bloggers to piggyback a public option onto *this* bill very nearly killed health care reform for another generation.

Every walk goes step by step. Now that the main bill has passed (and once the reconciliation bill passes), then it will be less daunting and more attainable to achieve a public option. But long marches go in steps. The "all or nothing" mentality of some "progressives" is what killed health care reform in 1993. I'm glad it got smacked down this round, and I say that knowing that the path that was chosen makes a public option more likely, not less, a few steps ahead on this long march.

The fact is that Dennis Kucinich doesn't really understand pragmatic politics. He's a grandstander, a quaint throwback to the last century. Times have changed and I was glad to see him finally vote in favor of the bill (had he not, I would have gladly cheered a primary challenger against him).

Dennis Kucinich

I very well could be underestimating what happened in the Senate. Like I said, I'm definitely not an expert on all the political intricacies leading up to the passage of this bill.

I certainly recognize the big impact the public option would have and so I can see why it would make it harder to form a voting bloc for any bill that would include it. I also agree that this legislation makes it easier for a public option to follow it.

Well, I can see what you're saying. I think a lot of people don't realize how conservative this country has become after Nixon - Reagan - Bush #1 - Bush #2 (given Carter's one term and the scandalous Clinton term & "Republican Revolution") and that it is a long road back to even re-aligning politics in the US where "center-right" is considered "Marxism" ...

I have a lot of respect for Dennis Kucinich but I guess it is mostly based on his accomplishments in the past ... he certainly was up on pragmatic politics when he navigated Cleveland politics as mayor, given the power bases he had to deal with (the labor unions, organized crime). He's lucky to have gotten out of it alive.

To be a little off-topic, one of the main problems we have is media ... the US media is so dominated by the right-wing and center-right. We desperately need a coherent, intelligent and widely-distributed far left media that doesn't alienate 90% of working people.

One Month After

Just had to look this entry of Al's up again.  The comments reflect the level of involvement and understanding of grass roots, We the People, Organizing for America.

Arizona demands "proof", and the Birthers demand President Obama's "proof".

All hands on deck! "This ain't no foolin' around!"

Looking forward to Al's next entry.

 

 

Here We Go...

Today the new Health Insurance Law goes into effect for people with pre-existing conditions.  I've requested my forms from my state via the Fed Site.

Checking my email, I found this concerning Immigration Reform:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/30/presidents-speech-and-a-chat-c...

Phone bank tonight.  Out here in The Field.

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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