NOTE: This article is also published at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-pai/two-little-words_b_4966023.html
The sound of the circular firing squad is getting louder as two different strategies are creating a rift in the pro immigration reform movement. There’s a victory in the battle to demolish the deportation machine but some of our guns are aimed in the wrong direction and somewhere, anti-reformers like Rep. Steve Kingand Phyllis Schlafly must be laughing their heads off.
Both factions fighting for immigration agree that the deportation system is cruel, illogical and needs to changed.
On one side we have groups like La Raza firing away at President Obama: Calling him the Deporter in Chief and trying to put pressure on him to do what he can’t do. On the other side, there’s a fight we can win, with grassroots groups likeTNTweeters and Univision’s Fernando Espeulas calling for the use of a discharge petition to push a floor vote in the House.
The groups taking potshots at Obama may possibly have their hearts in the right place but they are fighting a futile battle and diverting attention and resources from the real war in Congress. They’re losing sight of the big picture ofComprehensive Immigration Reform and focusing on deportations but the irony is they will not be able to win in this way.
Attacking President Obama and claiming he can use executive orders to stop deportations is worse than counterproductive. It’s misdirection from the real issue that is powering the deportation machine: the costly and draconian Congressional Bed Mandate. That mandate — which is not an option, but a mandatory budget spend using appropriation tools generally reserved for entitlements such as Veteran’s benefits and retirement pay — requires the government maintain 34,000 beds for immigrant detainees at all times at a cost of five million dollars a day.
Fixing the Bed Mandate takes two little words and Congress. The words are “up to.” Right now the law says “not less than” 34,000 people need to be incarcerated every day. By changing this to “up to 34,000” ICE and President Obama will have the flexibility they need make real change.
It won’t happen without Congress but there’s good news there: Virtually every politician in the House is up for re-election this year. That means that pressure can be brought to bear. With so many in reform movement turning up the heat on President Obama, they ignore the political reality that he is never going to be up for election again.
Ironically, by focusing on the President, groups like La Raza actually risk turning up pressure coming from the Tea Party wing that’s obstructing reform.
The Tea Party is already going ballistic over the use of executive orders. Pushing Obama for an executive order plays into their worst fears and will lead to more ignorant rhetoric about Obama pushing for amnesty and harsher calls for enforcement. The Tea Party knows there’s an election coming up, too.
What’s needed now is focus. Put down the Deporter In Chief signs. Push for the discharge petition and then keep going. Let everyone running for the House know that a united immigration reform movement is watching and will hold them accountable.
Under the cry of States Rights, Congress has disallowed any meaningful control of firearms or ammunition, has allowed the Voting Rights Act to be gutted after a 48 year battle to assure equal voting rights to the traditionally disenfranchised, has let Stand Your Ground thrive and spread, and has allowed the passage of blatantly discriminatory laws against LGBT and women under the guise of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Despite the federalist foothold on so called State’s Rights, these Republicans and Democrats want to be able to sue President Obama for NOT arresting Americans who are using marijuana LEGALLY (including children who are using it medically) under their State Laws.
Yes, that includes the Representative from Alaska, Don Young, who just last year co-sponsored the “Respect Your State’s Marijuana Laws” Act.
As the Sponsor of this act HR4138 reiterates the words of his good friend, Allen West, “the race card is the last one in the deck.” Indeed.
HR4138 Act by Trey Gowdy (SC-4) was passed by the House on March 12, 2014
Cosponsors who joined Elvish King Gowdey want to arrest Americans who are using Marijuana legally in their states:
Republican Darrell Issa (CA-40)
Republican Jim Gerlach (PA-6)
Republican Bob Goodlatte (VA-6)
But, there were also FIVE DEMOCRATS who voted WITH THE REPUBLICANS to begin arresting Americans for LEGAL marijuana use:
Democrat Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Democrat Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Democrat George Barrow (GA-12)
Democrat Nick Rahal (West Virginia -3)
Democrat Collin Peterson (Minnesota-7)
The following Republicans did a flip flop on Thursday by voting for the ENFORCE ACT, while in the past, supporting the relaxation of marijuana in their states:
Republican Mike Coffman (CO-6)
Republican Dana Rohroabacher (CA-48)
Republican Justin Amash (Michigan-3)
Republican Don Young (Alaska- at large)
Alaska Republican Don Young actually cosponsored the “Respect State Marijuana’s Law Act in 2013”
FY 2014 DHS BUDGET REQUEST to appropriate funds for UP TO 31,800 detention beds.
Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) Section 236(c) states exactly who is a “mandatory custody” by the crime committed or security threat to the U.S.
On June 5, 2013, the House of Representatives Passed HR 2217 which did the following two things:
1. Funded DHS detention beds at more than requested by DHS
2. Made all 34,000 beds “mandatory detentions” by including language way above and beyond the language of the INA
On June 5, 2013, Ted Deutch proposed Amendment 107 to eradicate the mandatory minimum detention lockup language of HR2217. That amendment was defeated with the help of these 11 Democrats, who voted against ending the indefensible mandatory lockup quota.
HR2217 passed a day later on June 6, 2013, with the indefensible expansion of mandatory immigrant lockups included.
HR2217 was incorporated in HR3547, the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which was passed on January 17, 2014 by a Democratic Vote and thus, with a Waiver of the Hastert Rule.
WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED?
The Law, the Immigration & Nationality Act, makes certain high risk and criminal foreign nationals ineligible for release and thus they are called “mandatory custodies.” However, ICE’s own numbers show the majority of those detained and deported are not “mandatory custodies” as defined by the law.
The House, by passing Bills like HR 2217, has artificially inflated the number of “mandatory custodies” not because they are criminals or a threat to the United States, but in order to fill an artificial, arbitrary, capricious & wholly unnecessary “lockup quota.”
I’m addressing this to Republicans, especially Tea Party conservatives who may be opposed to comprehensive immigration reform and in favor of tough enforcement.
We may not agree on many issues, but I want to tell you about giant, wasteful government program you’ve probably never heard of called the Congressional Bed Mandate. It’s a costly boondoggle that needs to go away as soon as possible.
It was introduced a few years ago by Democrat Robert Byrd and it creates an arbitrary requirement that the government detain 34,000 men, women and children every day of the year. The 34,000 number is set in stone right now and the cost is shocking. At $120 per person, that’s two billion dollars a year.
That two billion dollars doesn’t even take into the amount of money that the economy is losing every day that the 34,000 people aren’t out there and buying things like food and clothes. Instead, detainees are treated to government welfare.
You might think this sounds like a tough enforcement policy to crack down on illegal immigrants but don’t be fooled; the Congressional Bed Mandate is just crony capitalism at its worst. Your tax dollars are going right into the pockets of for-profit prison companies who’ve made back room deals with politicians.
It’s not about enforcement. If you want to keep track of people in deportation hearings, there are much more affordable ways to do it, including simply checking in with a case worker or wearing an ankle bracelet.
The Bed Mandate is ineffective central planning. As the number of immigrants crossing the border gone down to half what it was a few years ago, the mandate has stayed in place.
If you’re concerned about deportations, remember that the Bed Mandate is such a colossal waste of money that it’s taking dollars away from deporting the real criminals. The Bed Mandate grabs the low-hanging fruit and lets the worst of the bad guys skate.
The Congressional Bed Mandate also takes the power away from ICE agents and forces them to adapt to arbitrary system that doesn’t take day-to-day realities in account.
Aside from the money being wasted, the system is pointlessly cruel.
Welcoming the stranger is the most often repeated commandment in the Hebrew Scriptures, with the exception of the imperative to worship only the one God. And the love of neighbor (especially the vulnerable) is doubtlessly the New Testament’s constant command… Whatever the cause of immigration today, there can be no doubt as to where the Church must stand when it comes to defending the immigrant (Ref: Theologian Orlando O. Espín).
The Obama White House has suggested cuts in the system that only serve to keep the money flowing to this ridiculous government pork barreling. It’s not enough.
Call or write your Congressmen and Senator and tell them to dump the Congressional Bed Mandate entirely.
Congratulate Senator Bachus (AL-6) for being true to his faith in standing up for what is right. Encourage this man to stay in office. He announced he will not run again this year. But, this is the kind of man we need and want in Congress.
“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Psalm 146:9
“Do not oppress the window or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” Ezekiel 22:7; Zecharaiah 7:10
Really, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez? You didn’t even bother to show up for the vote that continued the mandatory jailing of 34,000 immigrants DAILY and you have the nerve to blame President Obama for the House authorized Appropriations Bill #HR3547 that is DRIVING those record deportations??!?
You wrongfully accuse President Obama of spending record $$$ on record deportations when it was YOU and YOUR House Colleagues who voted this Bill into Law. Well, actully you, Castro and Grijalva DIDN’T EVEN SHOW UP TO VOTE ON THIS BILL.
That’s right. YOU DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO SHOW UP TO VOTE LET ALONE SAY ONE DAMN THING ABOUT THE MANDATORY $5 MILLION SPEND TO JAIL 34,000 IMMIGRANTS DAILY.
You dropped the ball on this one, my friend. You and your House colleagues have failed us.
This is no way to run a country.
Make this right and sign Discharge Petition NOW.
Douglas Rivlin responded directly to my article re Obama NOT being able to stop all deportations.
No, I did not go after Luis Gutierrez even after his bizarro speech about Obama enforcing Immigration Laws (which, quite frankly, I thought was just silly as it was a response to the disingenuous Republican proposition that they can’t pass Immigration Reform because they can’t trust Obama to enforce it). But, I did go after National Council of La Raza for declaring the President is the Deporter in Chief without saying a word about Speaker Boehner and the Republicans’ BS obstruction of CIR under the fake as* Hastert Rule. NCLR’s declaration of President Obama as the “Deporter in Chief,” Doug’s response, along with Gutierrez’ speech and similar “concerted messaging” leads me to believe the “Obama is Deporter in Chief” is now a Coalition Move– a wrongheaded one, at that.
The euphamistically named “Congressional Bed Mandate” requiring the detention of a minimum of 34,000 immigrants each and every day makes ANY act of discretion by the President just that– an act of discretion. No expansion of DACA, PIP, or other exercise of discretion IS ANYWHERE CLOSE TO ANY KIND OF REAL FIX to our pathetic, embarrassing and utterly broken immigration system where US veterans and pregnant women are deported and 7 year old children represent themselves in court.
Because of the Congressional Bed Mandate, any exercise protecting any class of detainees/deportees merely pushes the air in the balloon. The balloon is full of 34,000 Immigrants who must be in custody every night at a cost to taxpayers of $5 million a day. The 2013-2014 mandatory jailing of 34,000 immigrants a night was introduced by House Republicans last summer
and passed January 2014 as 3547 “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014”
THE SENATE, HOUSE, DEMOCRATS & REPUBLICANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR INCLUDING THE CONTINUATION OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BED MANDATE WHICH CLEARLY DRIVES DEPORTATIONS.
Immigrants are only in detention because the deportation machine is working against them. The deportation machine is fueled by a body of laws that preceded Obama’s election, the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act).
Nevertheless, here is a record of EXACTLY who voted for continuation of the mandatory minimum of jailed immigrants and who voted AGAINST it. Not being present for a vote as important as this should also tell you about the absentee. The votes are mostly down party lines but not a few Democrats voted for the continuation of DHS appropriations, including the Congressional Bed Mandate, along with most Republicans. Here you can see exactly who voted for the House introduced bill both in the House and the Senate.
DHS isn’t a hotel; if they don’t fill those beds every night, they answer to House Republicans who will and have accused DHS of breaking the law when too few immigrants are jailed. It’s the mandatory detention balloon. The ignorant don’t understand the analogy of executive discretion just being a pushing around of air in the balloon. So, you save this one million over here and that one million over there becomes more of a target for arrest, detention & deportation.
By the way – Luis Gutierrez – shame on you for saying President Obama has spent more on deportations than any other president before him. No, actually it was YOU, the House, that presented and passed the DHS appropriations bill. DHS, as far as my searches from 2002 on the ICE website, has NEVER requested a mandatory spend to jail a minimum number of immmigrants every night. THAT is something a HOUSE DEMOCRAT conceived of following high migratory patterns from Mexico during the economic boom and REPUBLICANS have been defending ever since… even as net migration to/from Mexico has fallen to zero. Additionally, in this last Appropriations Bill, the House proposed to fund the mandatory detention of immigrants at an amount HIGHER than what was requested by DHS.
The fact that this town square stoning of President Obama, who has exercised UNPRECEDENTED discretion in stopping the deportation of over one million Dreamers, appears to be a Coalition Move is distressing in its utter wrongheadedness. What is so hard to understand? No, Obama isn’t CHOOSING TO DEPORT RECORD NUMBERS OF PEOPLE, CONGRESS MANDATED IT!!!
If you, Ladies and Gentleman of the House and Senate let the Congressional Bed Mandate slip under your noses because you didn’t READ THE BILL (as I’m learning is more the rule than the exception) then you need to get better “reader reporters” or you can put that Ivy League Degree to work and actually READ THE DAMN BILLS YOU VOTE ON!!!
So, Congress, you messed up. You let the Congressional Bed Mandate pass because you weren’t paying attention or because of the private prison lobby $$$. Whose fault is that??? CONGRESS MADE IT ILLEGAL FOR DHS NOT TO DETAIN 34,000 IMMIGRANTS A DAY!
The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill, the House refuses to vote on it or the House version of it, HR 15 and President Obama will sign either today.
One thing all these Deporter in Chief people have in common, including Gutierrez, is that they have been trying UNSUCCESSFULLY for 10 years funded by millions perhaps billions in grants and contributions to get the Dream Act passed and they can’t even do that… let alone get Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Enough politicking. Now is the time to put all our cards on the table.
We want a vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the House (HR15).
If there is no vote, we want to see who will sign a discharge petition, even if the discharge does not garner enough signatures.
Anyone who won’t sign the discharge petition WILL NOT GET OUR VOTE– Republican or Democrat.
If you, Representative A, B & C, support Comprehensive Immigration Reform, then prove it by signing a discharge petition. If you don’t, we will vote in someone who will.
Status Quo has not worked for the last 10 years so now, it’s time for a change all around if need be.