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Feds to NY: Cut Off Chemo for Undocumented Residents

Compassionate conservatism at work again. The Bush Administration is telling New York health officials not to approve chemotherapy for undocumented residents because it's not a medical emergency.

The change comes amid a fierce national debate on providing medical care to immigrants, with New York State officials and critics saying this latest move is one more indication of the Bush administration’s efforts to exclude the uninsured from public health services.

Under a limited provision of Medicaid, the national health program for the poor, the federal government permits emergency coverage for illegal immigrants and other noncitizens. But the Bush administration has been more closely scrutinizing and increasingly denying state claims for federal payment for some emergency services, Medicaid experts said.

While states differ on what is or is not a medical emergency, it should be obvious that the states that define it as "any condition that could become an emergency or lead to death without treatment" is the proper one.

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Spitzer: DMV is Not the INS

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer deserves praise today for announcing a new policy: Drivers' licenses will be granted to all residents without regard to immigration status.

Under the new rules, the Department of Motor Vehicles will accept a current foreign passport as proof of identity without also requiring a valid yearlong visa or other evidence of legal immigration.

The policy, which does not require legislative approval, will be phased in starting in December.

His reasoning: [More...]

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Foreign-Born Widows Face Deportation

In 2004, Bush proclaimed himself to be a "compassionate conservative." Where's the compassion here?

Jacqueline Coats' husband drowned after he dove into a fierce Pacific Ocean riptide to rescue two boys. Now the immigrant from Kenya might be forced to leave the United States because he died before filing her residency application.

She is among more than 80 foreign-born widows across the nation who face possible deportation because their husbands died before immigration paperwork was approved.

A class-action suit for the women was filed yesterday. I hope they prevail. Also check out the website, Suriving Spouses Against Deportation.

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There Is No Immigrant Crime Wave

I have an op-ed in today's Washington Examiner newspaper...There is No Immigrant Crime Wave.

Politicians will do anything to get elected, including using random, unrelated high-profile crimes to mislead the public, generating fear and hysteria.

Using government statistics that show just 4% of our 2.25 million federal and state inmate population are non-citizens and that young foreign-born men are five times less likely to be incarcerated than those born in the U.S, I argue:

Immigration does not breed crime. Our prisons are not overflowing because of crimes by the undocumented. They are overflowing because of our failed criminal justice policies and over reliance on incarceration versus treatment and rehabilitation with respect to our nonviolent homegrown offenders.

There is nothing wrong with having a debate about immigration. But it is deplorable to falsely stereotype and malign millions of law-abiding people because of one’s desire for a particular outcome in that debate.

Hope you'll read the whole thing. It will make the xenophobic anti-immgrants out there see red.

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Bush Issues New Immigration Regs, Felony Charges to Increase

Our unitary executive is at it again. Even though Congress refused to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he's taken it upon himself to issue new regulations that will crack down on immigrants, toughen border enforcement and increase the use of felony charges against those in violation.

At a news conference in Washington yesterday, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and Carlos M. Gutierrez, the secretary of commerce, formally unveiled the measures, which had been disclosed in general terms earlier, to reinforce border security and drive illegal immigrants out of the labor force.

....Mr. Chertoff said the “real hammer” would be more frequent use by the immigration authorities of criminal felony charges against employers and illegal immigrant workers. He said the authorities had made 742 criminal arrests so far this year in illegal employment cases, compared with 716 such arrests in all of last year, which was a record.

If you had any doubt this is a payback, consider this:

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Judge Tosses Hazleton Law Discriminating Against the Undocumented

A Pennsylvania judge has declared unconstitutional the Hazleton law banning the undocumented from living or working within city limits.

The decision, by Judge James M. Munley of Federal District Court, presents a new roadblock to local officials who want to take action against illegal immigration after broad federal legislation to address the issue failed in the Senate last month.

Judge Munley ruled that ordinances first passed last July by the Hazleton City Council interfered with federal law, which regulates immigration, and violated the due process rights of employers, landlords and illegal immigrants.

Many cities since either adopted the Hazleton law or declared their intention to do if it was upheld.

The judge emphasized that illegal immigrants had the same civil rights as legal immigrants and citizens.

“Hazleton, in its zeal to control the presence of a group deemed undesirable, violated the rights of such people, as well as others within the community,” he wrote.

The ACLU weighs in here.

More like this please.

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"Dreams Across America" Train Departs LA for DC

100 immigrants (and bloggers and videographers) departed Union Station yesterday on an Amtrak train bound for Washington. The tour is called "Dreams Across America". Along the way the immigrants will tell their story.

On June 13th, 100 dreamers will travel by train all across America to tell the stories of their American dream. You can follow them and their journeys. More important, you can tell the world your own immigrant story, or your parents’, or grandparents’, right here, in text, or by video.

I think this is such a great idea. Here's more:

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New Haven to Grant ID Cards to Undocumented Residents

Kudos to the town of New Haven Connecticut:

City officials approved a plan Monday to offer illegal immigrants identification cards that would let them open bank accounts and use other services that may be unavailable without driver's licenses or state-issued IDs.

Supporters say the program, approved by the Board of Aldermen and believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, will help safeguard the city's estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants. If they can open bank accounts, immigrants will be less likely to carry large amounts of cash, a practice that makes them easy targets for robbers.

The funding for the cards will come from a private foundation. It's not the first time New Haven has extended help to the undocumented:

New Haven, a city of about 125,000 and home to Yale University, already offers federal tax help to immigrants and prohibits police from asking about their immigration status.

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Poll: Americans Favor Legal Status for the Undocumented

The latest New York Times poll shows a strong majority of Americans favor allowing undocumented residents to obtain legal status:

Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demands, the poll found.

Two-thirds of those polled said illegal immigrants who had a good employment history and no criminal record should gain legal status as the bill proposes, which is by paying at least $5,000 in fines and fees and receiving a renewable four-year visa.

The respondents weren't specifically asked about the compromise legislation.

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Nobody's Happy With the Immigration Reform Bill

We've been hearing for days that Republicans and the immigrant community are not happy with the compromise immigration reform bill that the Senate will begin debating today.

Add another group to the mix: Employers aren't happy either.

A bad bill is worse than no bill at all. The Senate has a long way to go to make this bill palatable. Can they do it?

Here are the employers' objections:

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Here Come the Detention Camps: Immigration Legislation

Among the provisions of the compromise immigration bill is one calling for the building of more detention camps.

SEC. 137. INCREASE OF FEDERAL DETENTION SPACE AND THE UTILIZATION OF FACILITIES IDENTIFIED FOR CLOSURES AS A RESULT OF THE DEFENSE BASE CLOSURE REALIGNMENT ACT OF 1990.

a) Construction or Acquisition of Detention Facilities-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall construct or acquire, in addition to existing facilities 1 for the detention of aliens, at least 20 detention facilities in the United States that have the capacity to detain a combined total of not less than 20,000 individuals at any time for aliens detained pending removal or a decision on removal of such aliens from the United States subject to available appropriations.

I'll be commenting on other provisions as I read through them.

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The New Immigration Bill


I just got my hands on the 326 page compromise immigration bill. Here's a link (pdf.) Dated May 18, it's called The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

It's not acceptable.

The New York Times gets it right in an editorial today:

It is the nation’s duty to welcome immigrants, to treat them decently and give them the opportunity to assimilate. But if it does so according to the outlines of the deal being debated this week, the change will come at too high a price: The radical repudiation of generations of immigration policy, the weakening of families and the creation of a system of modern peonage within our borders.

Debate is scheduled to begin Monday afternoon on the bill. How can debate begin on a 326 page bill when the first many Senators will have a chance to look at it is Monday morning.

This needs to be tabled until everyone has had a full chance to digest it and kick out the worst provisions. Otherwise it will be like the Patriot Act, passed in haste and repented for years to come.

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Details of the Compromise Immigration Reform Bill

Update: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are skeptical. They say the bill needs to be improved in the Senate. I agree, particularly with respect to the family separation issues, the need to go back to the home country and wait, possibly for years, to return and the onerous path to permanent residency and citizenship.

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The 300 page immigration reform bill won't be publicly available until tomorrow. Here is a summary of key provisions:

— Undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before Jan. 1, 2007 — an estimated 12 million — would get immediate, but probationary, legal status and ability to work and travel if they pass background checks.

— Undocumented immigrants and their families could get new “Z'’ visas good for four years, but renewable indefinitely, by paying a $5,000 fee per head of household. After eight years, holders of Z visas could apply for permanent legal residence — a green card — by returning to their home countries and paying another $4,000 penalty.

— Between 400,000 and 600,000 foreigners would be able to come every year to work. They could stay for two years on new “Y-1′’ visas then return home for one year and could renew the visas for a total of six years in the country. They could bring their families with them for one two-year period.

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Senate Reaches Immigration Deal With White House

The Senate has reached a deal with the White House on immigration reform.

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and — after paying fees and a $5,000 fine and returning to their home countries — ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years.

They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and a high-tech worker identification program were completed.

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Tancredo: Immigration Threatens Western Civilization

Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo continues to ratchet up the immigration debate with ridiculous hyperboles. His latest, in Arizona yesterday:

Presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo told supporters gathered at a private ranch here Friday that American culture, as well as the fate of western civilization, is being threatened by illegal immigration.

....“There’s an issue that is so much broader than all that, so much more serious. It is the issue of our culture itself, and whether we will survive.”

Then, he warned his audience that what happened at an elementary school in 2004 in Beslan, Russia, ("where Islamic terrorists from Chechnya killed more than 300 people") could happen here:

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