White House meeting on immigration reform
The Chicago Tribune reports that there was a meeting in the White House last Monday on pushing ahead on immigration reform. No doubt President Barack Obama is feeling the pressure from restless Hispanics, unhappy that his health care reform has pushed back work on immigration reform. On Sunday, March 21, they’ll be rallying in front of the Capitol to get it moving again.
It’s not that there has been no action at all. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has been working in committee and he says most of the elements are coming together. He hopes it will be a truly bipartisan effort -- thanks to the interest of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC). While most Republicans are hostile to the reform ideas being discussed in the Senate Immigration Committee – though not to the punitive measures – some think it folly to continue to alienate Hispanic voters. However, old advocates like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have grown cool to reform because they face tough Republican primaries. The White House hopes to push reform before the November election, but the timing is iffy. One other problem is – like health care—holding a Democratic majority for it.
A Profile of “America’s Toughest Sheriff” – Joe Arpaio
The Associated Press has done a profile of controversial Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” bases his reputation on picking on county jail inmates and undocumented Mexicans. His strategy has worked. Voters have returned him to office by large majorities in the early 90s. In the process he has alienated most of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the local judiciary, nearby county sheriffs and lawyers. He’s been in and out of federal court, and now is subject of a sweeping federal grand jury investigation. Hispanics, lawyers, and others have held fairly large demonstrations, and public officials have used words like “totalitarian” to describe his tactics. As a consequence, his popularity has been dropping in the polls.
That still doesn’t make Arizona immigrant-friendly. Over the years the Republican-dominated legislature has been sending a series of bills to the governor – among other things, declaring undocumented aliens “trespassers” and authorizing local police to check on immigration status. Most of those bills had been vetoed by the then Democratic governor and current Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Next week the legislature will take up another law making it criminal for an undocumented to be in Arizona – and it’ll probably pass easily (see Arizona Republic). The new Republican governor will sign such a bill. Naturally civil and immigrant rights groups will challenge it in court. But the passage of such a bill will overcharge the November election with xenophobia.