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Sheriffs not sold on Arizona immigration bill

Texas’ sheriffs are not very enthusiastic about being charged with enforcing federal immigration laws.

Texas has 254 sheriffs, and while opinions vary about whether illegal immigration should be their problem, some Republicans are pushing measures that won’t give them a choice. More than a dozen bills targeting illegal immigration await the Legislature when it convenes Tuesday, when the GOP will enter with a historic conservative supermajority in the House.

One bill would require police to ask drivers without identification if they’re in the country legally. Another would cut off state funds to departments that don’t enforce immigrations laws.

“It’s split among my colleagues on whether we should be out here just stopping individuals without probable cause, and questioning them on their immigration status,” said Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, who believes the proposals invite profiling.

[…]

Many Texas sheriffs along the border, long vocal about being understaffed and underfunded on the edge of Mexico’s violent drug war, oppose the measures as another drain on their deputies. They and sheriffs in Houston and San Antonio also worry about profiling.

Others don’t see it as an imposition, and maybe a necessity. In Fort Bend County, which includes Houston’s conservative suburbs, Sheriff Milton Wright said he would support laws requiring his deputies to enforce immigration laws if the federal government won’t.

“If they’re not going to do it, then we need to,” he said.

Arizona’s new law left Texas facing unavoidable questions. Texas has an estimated 1.6 million illegal immigrants, second only to California, and Republicans control every statewide office. Gov. Rick Perry has said he doesn’t support Texas adopting a law identical to Arizona’s, while at the same time praising that state’s initiative for taking the illegal immigration problem into its own hands.

I fully expect that Gov. Perry will sign whatever immigration-related legislation makes it to his desk, despite what some people think. I do not believe he will cross the base on this, and I think there’s plenty of room to make enough cosmetic changes to Arizona’s bill to allow him to claim that Texas’ version of it is different.

It would have been good to hear from more Sheriffs on this. With the exception of Fort Bend’s Wright – who, if he truly believes there are no constitutional issues with making people show their papers as a matter of routine, can certainly instruct his deputies to do so – everyone in the story was opposed to such legislation. How many Sheriffs agree with Wright, and how much of the state’s population do they represent? Based on this story, the opponents can claim Harris, Bexar, Travis, El Paso, and all the border counties; I will presume Dallas is in this group as well. That’s an awful lot of the state right there.

It’s not at all clear that the legislators who want to force the sheriffs to do their bidding care about what they think, however.

So important is the issue to state Rep. Debbie Riddle that she camped outside the clerk’s window to ensure her get-tough immigration bills would be first in line. State Sen. Dan Patrick filed a bill that would require police to ask anyone without an ID whether they’re in the country illegally, but the Houston-area talk radio host says his measure affords officer discretion. For instance, he said an officer could choose not to arrest a harmless minivan-driving mom who is revealed to be an illegal immigrant.

Patrick, who visited Arizona to see its new law in action, said the possibility of legal challenges is no barrier.

“Too many people want to duck and cover and bury their heads in the sand,” Patrick said. “This is an issue we have to stand tall on. Republicans have to stand together.”

[…]

During the previous two legislative sessions, Patrick said “too much chaos” in the House doomed immigration proposals. This time, Patrick said, Republicans have the numbers – and a willingness to work with law enforcement.

“You have to have their buy-in,” Patrick said. “I want them to be enthusiastic about it.”

Won’t stop him from proceeding if they’re not, though. I continue to be fascinated by Republicans like Patrick who scream bloody murder when the federal government imposes a requirement on the state of Texas but have no problems imposing their own requirements on local governments that don’t want them. I guess counties don’t have rights.

If Patrick et al don’t care what the sheriffs think, do you suppose they’ll care what businesses think?

The Texas ACLU and an El Paso county sheriff who supports the controversial Secure Communities program stood side by side at the State Capitol in Austin Thursday to denounce pre-filed, immigration-related legislation similar to Arizona’s SB 1070. A conservative businessman was added to the mix, indicating lawmakers intent on rounding up Texas’ undocumented population might have a harder time than initially presumed.

“Who would imagine that after 28 years of law enforcement the ACLU would be talking so nicely about me,” Sheriff Richard Wiles joked after being introduced as a common-sense sheriff by ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke for his opposition to proposed legislation patterned off Arizona’s.

[…]

Bill Hammond, the executive director of the Texas Association of Business, said Texas should realize the business “pipeline” in Arizona has run dry after it passed its law, and Texas could share the same fate if bills aimed at businesses who hire undocumented immigrant pass.

“Some of this legislation would require then to become forensic experts and we think that’s unfair. It’s an unfair burden on them when what they are trying to do is provide employment for Texans who want a job,” he said. “Mexican nationals invest literally millions and millions of dollars in Texas and we believe that one of the detrimental effects that people haven’t considered is the drying up of that investment. In my view, if this legislation were to become law, perhaps someone should file a bill to change the state’s motto [“Friendship”] as well,” he said.

Texas Politics and the Statesman also covered that rally. While I appreciate Hammond’s willingness to speak out on this issue, I will once again say that until they actually target someone for defeat over this, they should continue to expect it from the Republicans they otherwise support. When TAB-backed candidates take on Riddle and Berman in the 2012 GOP primaries, that would be putting their money where their mouth is. Until then, I don’t expect any current Republicans to take their words on this too seriously.

How anti-immigrant is this session going to be?

It will likely be very strongly anti-immigrant. It’s really just a question of how far the Republicans pushing this will go. The Democrats can’t stop them – I’m not expecting the Senate’s two thirds rule to be much of an impediment – so it’s just a matter of numbers on the Republican side. Those who claim they will fight back are too late.

The business community will likely fight legislation, said Rice University political science Professor Bob Stein, especially if the economy begins to improve.

“To the guy who’s running that small business, the roofer, the cementer, that’s a cheap labor force that he can hire up that’s non-union and he can use to make a recovery,” Stein said.

Texas businesses — particularly in the hospitality, agriculture and construction industries — rely on immigrant labor, said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. Legislation seen as discriminatory could hurt Texas’ tourism and convention business, he said.

The illegal immigration issue should be handled at the national level, he said.

The whole reason why we’re going to have this fight here in Texas is because the business community, for all its limp protests about this kind of legislation, has never truly pushed back against it. If they actually cared about this, they would have tried at some point to unelect the ringleaders of the xenophobia caucus. But there have never been any consequences for anti-immigrant Republicans, so there is nothing holding them back. Until such time as the likes of TAB runs an opponent against the Riddles and Bermans of the world, there’s no reason for them to think twice about what they’re doing.

Looming over any immigration legislation is the pending legal challenge of Arizona’s law. A federal judge temporarily has blocked provisions of that law on the grounds that immigration enforcement is the federal government’s jurisdiction. Even if the law survives that challenge, it is certain to face later challenges on the grounds that it is discriminatory, said Scot Powe, a law professor at at UT-Austin.

“You need an example of an American citizen or somebody with a green card being improperly hassled under the law to bring that challenge, and I think that challenge is an ironclad winner,” Powe said.

It’s an iron-clad guarantee that what eventually gets passed will be subject to a lawsuit. The only questions are how much of it winds up getting thrown out, and how much time and money the state spends appealing the verdicts. Because no budget is ever too tight to waste money on this sort of thing. This is what we need to be prepared to be the alternative to.

The anti-immigrant hysteria has officially begun

Didn’t take long.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle camped out and endured “creepy” noises inside the cold, empty Capitol to be first in line Monday morning to file legislation targeting illegal immigration and ballot security.

The Tomball Republican said she remained outside the House chamber for two days because of the importance of getting priority bill numbers assigned to the two hot-button issues.

House Bill 16 would require voters to present photo identification or two forms of non-photo identification before they are allowed to cast ballots.

House Bill 17 is similar to Arizona’s controversial immigration law. It would allow law enforcement officers to charge an immigrant who lacks proper documentation and already is detained on another charge with criminal trespass – a Class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and maximum jail time of six months.

Both issues are part of the Republican Party of Texas platform but have failed to pass in recent legislative sessions.

However, with election results transforming what had been a narrow, 76-74 Republican advantage in the state House to a whopping 99-51 margin, Riddle expects favorable treatment for both bills.

“We better. Otherwise, the citizens of Texas are going to be pretty outraged – and you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Riddle said Monday.

Democratic leaders said Riddle’s immigration bill would result in the same litigation that has tied up the Arizona law and drained millions of dollars from the state’s coffers.

I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate the blinding, irrational fear that motivates nutjobs like Riddle than the fact that she was actually frightened by things going bump in the night as she camped out like a teenager hoping to score Justin Bieber tickets. I don’t even know what else to say about that. Stace has a complete listing of Riddle’s mania, plus a statement by Rep. Armando Walle that decries her hatefulness. There’s going to be a lot more opportunities for that, I’m afraid.

There are three groups whose responses we need to watch. One of course is Democrats, who cannot stop any of this madness – you can be sure that the Senate’s two-thirds rule will not be allowed to be an obstacle – but who can send a message about what they truly stand for to the constituencies that need to hear it by their actions. There’s no reason, and no excuse, for wavering. Take whatever actions you can to make the inevitable somewhat less distasteful, and fight like hell every step of the way.

Another group to watch will be business interests, who continue to claim that they don’t support these measures.

In an illustration of the coming schism between pro-business Republicans and social conservatives in the party, the state’s largest business lobby is opposing all statewide immigration proposals, saying that attempting to solve the problem of illegal immigration at the state level is ineffective. “The bottom line is, Congress needs to act and pass comprehensive immigration reform. We’re sympathetic to the fact that Congress hasn’t acted. We’re frustrated, too,” says Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. Hammond maintains the E-Verify computer system is too unreliable to put to use in Texas.

I’ll say again, until such time as Hammond and his cronies take direct action to oppose the lawmakers who are the driving forces behind this madness, their so-called “opposition” is meaningless fluff. Call them out by name, lobby them directly, recruit and/or raise money for primary opponents – there are many things they can do. Hell, just not giving money to them would be a step in the right direction. Put your money where your mouth is, Bill, or sit down, shut up and take it like the wimp you’ve been so far on this. If not, don’t be surprised when something like this happens.

The other group to watch will be those newly elected Latino Republicans in the Lege.

During the 81st Legislature, MALC put forth a united front in opposition to one of the session’s most divisive issues: voter ID. Though some members were more vocal than others, the caucus as a whole participated in the “chubbing” that successfully killed the bill on the House floor.

Assuming that all Hispanics will lock arms this session would be a mistake, [Rep.-elect Larry] Gonzales says.

“It does Latinos a huge disservice to say we all think alike,” he says.

Asked about whether he would vote for an Arizona-style immigration law in Texas, Gonzales said it would be “irresponsible” for him to deal with a hypothetical. But, he says, he supports the Arizona Legislature’s interpretation of what it believes is best for the state.

“I totally respect Arizona’s right as a sovereign state to do what it feels it needs to do,” he says.

[Rep. Trey] Martinez Fischer is optimistic that differences can bridged.

“Yes, they are Republican. Yes, their ideology is different. But we are all Latinos,” he says. “I don’t see why an issue that affects me one way should be 180 degrees opposite somewhere else.”

I’m afraid I don’t share Rep. Martinez Fischer’s optimism. But we’re sure gonna find out soon enough.

Arizona Green Party sues to kick its own candidates off the ballot

Just when you think you’ve seen it all

The state Democratic Party is alleging possible voter fraud in what it called a scheme to undermine its candidates by recruiting “sham” Green Party hopefuls.

In a complaint filed late Monday, the party seeks an investigation by federal, state and county law-enforcement officials.

The complaint names Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix; Steve May, a Republican candidate for the Legislature; and a House Republican staffer as complicit in an effort to register at least a half-dozen people as Green Party members so they could run as write-in candidates in last week’s primary election.

Republicans accused of the ploy denied any wrongdoing.

Under state election law, it only takes one write-in vote for a person to qualify as a Green candidate on the Nov. 2 general-election ballot.

The newly minted Green candidates have been disavowed by the Arizona Green Party and are running in races in which Democrats are believed to be competitive. Those races include secretary of state, treasurer, Arizona Corporation Commission and several legislative contests in swing districts.

If you’re thinking that law sounds a bit fishy, it’s the reason why the Green Party has sided with the Democrats on this. Here’s their statement.

Today’s lawsuit requests the invalidation of a statute which creates a separate but unequal category of political party, that applies only to the Arizona Green Party, in a way that mocks our substantial and consistent efforts for two decades, against unreasonable barriers, to provide the voters of Arizona with meaningful alternatives to politics as usual

Anyone can run for office in the Party of their choosing, if they get enough signatures to show a decent level of support within the Party. Or they can run as a write-in candidate, and get the same number of write-in votes . The signatures or votes of party members is the “permission” that the party gives for them to be our candidates . Or, at least, that is the way that it is for other political parties. But ARS 16-645 creates a special category of political party, that only the Green Party fits into, where an individual doesn’t have to get permission or support from anybody else in the party. They can wait til the last minute to sign up as a write-in, and vote for themselves in the primary, and they get their name listed on the general election ballot as a Green Party candidate.

We want the ref to blow the whistle. We in the Arizona Green Party want our team to play by the same rules as other teams, and not have somebody in the stands deciding to be a player on our team. And especially not have our opponents recruiting field-rushers, handing them a uniform, and sending them out to disrupt a fair game.

So we are going to court, demanding the fairness that the US Constitution grants us, and putting a stop to sham candidates and special rules. Because we already HAVE a team, of real candidates, endorsed by us, who followed the rules, and gathered their signatures twice already– once from the general public to be a recognized political party, and a second time from party members, to show that Greens support their candidacy, and support the message they will be running on, in trying to offer the public new and better ideas than they can find elsewhere. Or old, forgotten ideas, like fair-play and Constitutional rights.

According to Newsweek, the last-minute candidates include the roommate of one of Rep. Weier’s daughters, “a tarot-card reader, and several drifters who hang out on Mill Avenue in Phoenix”. I love this quote:

Joe Yuhas, a partner in the Riester political-consulting firm, spent years in elected office in New Jersey in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s before moving to Arizona. He says that, when it comes to political shenanigans in Arizona, “the boldness is staggering.” His firm, he says, will soon launch a Web site to detail the abuses, and adds, “For a guy who cut his teeth in New Jersey politics and thought had seen it all, I’m astounded. The depth and breadth of it makes New Jersey races look like student-council elections.”

I dunno, some of those student council races can be pretty cutthroat. But point taken nonetheless. Local Texans has more.

The chiefs talk about Arizona

HPD Chief Charles McClelland was one of several police chiefs to go to Washington and talk with Attorney General Eric Holder about why Arizona’s immigration law would be harmful to them, and why the federal government needs to finish the job of comprehensive immigration reform.

“The federal government should bring clarity to this issue,” McClelland said outside the Justice Department following a one-hour meeting with Holder.

McClelland said the government needs to define the varying roles of federal, state and local police agencies in enforcing federal statutes.

Several of the police chiefs were critical of the Arizona law, which allows police officers to demand from people proof of being in the country legally.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said officers are bound to enforce the law, but warned that it would have consequences.

Those consequences, the chiefs said, include the possibility that victims and witnesses with questionable immigration status might not come forward to report crimes or cooperate with investigators.

That loss of trust with segments of the community would give criminals more protection from law enforcement, they said.

As I’ve noted before, we’ve already seen what happens when local law enforcement steps in on the immigration question. In Maricopa County, Arizona, home of nativist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, crime is up and response times are down, because the Sheriff’s deputies are too busy rounding up people who may be undocumented immigrants to focus on the rest of their job. We already know what will happen, because it’s already happened. Why would we want to emulate that?

Targeting Frito-Lay

I’ve talked about sporting events like the 2011 MLB All Star Game that are currently scheduled to be held in Arizona and of various ways that people who have some involvement with them have spoken out about Arizona’s “Show me your papers” law in an effort to change the law, or at least change where that sporting event will be played. One group that hasn’t been discussed yet is the sponsors of these events. Well, they’re being pressured, too.

Frito-Lay Inc. is among the “dozens of companies” nationwide being urged to drop sponsorship of sporting events in Arizona following that state’s passage of a controversial immigration bill.

Reports circulated Monday that Latino-activist groups — including the League of United Latin American Citizens — were calling for a boycott of products made by Frito-Lay if the Plano-based snack maker did not end its sponsorship of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

A national spokesman for LULAC, one of the nation’s largest Latino activist groups, said LULAC is not calling for a boycott, though some local members might embrace such a move. He said he is making plans to meet with executives from a variety of companies to talk about their sponsorships.

“Let me be clear: There is no LULAC boycott of Frito-Lay or any other company,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the Washington-based group, which has its strongest presence in Texas.

He said Frito-Lay is among the “dozens of companies that we’ve reached out to, to ask them to pull their sponsorship of events in that state.” He did not say if he was meeting with any other Texas companies.

This is a common tactic, and I certainly wish LULAC well with their efforts, but I doubt they will have any effect. Not at this time, at least, what with the Arizona law polling depressingly well. I don’t think they’ll have a broad enough base of support to make this work, especially when you realize that companies that yield to this kind of pressure always face blowback. Again, I wish them well, but it’s going to be a long haul.

Briefly noted

Some interesting things from today that I wanted to note…

There are plenty of people who want to be on the Appropriations Committee, so putting some who doesn’t want to be there, like State Rep. Joe Driver of Dallas, doesn’t make much sense. But once you’re on Appropriations, whether you wanted it or not, you ought to show up to the big budget meetings, what with the budget being such a big deal and all these days.

As you know, TFN will be live-blogging what may be the last clown show of some SBOE members’ careers. I expect the Texas Observer and the Trib to be there as well. If you want some preliminaries, you can attend TFN’s “Don’t White-Out Our History” rally, about which SBOE candidate Judy Jennings has more. You can also read Martha’s explanation of the Board’s agenda for the next few days.

The long-awaited Martinez-Fischer/Riddle debate finally took place. Rep. Martinez-Fischer declares victory and talks a little smack.

State Sen. Mario Gallegos writes another letter about HISD Superintendent Terry Grier.

Finally, a release from the HCDP:

On the recent episode of the PBS local series Red, White and Blue, Republican candidate for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners was asked if he was concerned about getting the support of the Hispanic community after defeating incumbent Leo Vasquez. His answer concluded with the following – “I don’t have a problem with their (Hispanics) agenda except for trying to get benefits that may not have been earned.”

Below is a statement from State Representative Armando Walle:

“Mr. Sumner’s position that Hispanic families don’t work hard for what they earn is both ignorant and offensive but not the least bit surprising. With their inflammatory rhetoric and political agenda, Texas Republicans have made it clear there is no room for Hispanics in their Party.

Most recently, local Republican state representative Debbie Riddle announced plans to introduce a Texas version of the highly controversial and discriminatory Arizona immigration legislation.  And later this week in Austin, the extremist Republicans who control the State Board of Education will meet to finalize their plans to purge Tejano heroes who died at the Alamo from our children’s social studies books. Latinos have played a major role in shaping Texas’s rich culture and history, but local Republican politicians see our community as a pinata to score points with the far right wing of their party. This assault on our community is disrespectful, intolerant and will not be forgotten when Hispanics head to the polls in November.”

I think that about covers it.

Selig avoids All Star Game issue

We always knew he was a weenie.

With a lengthy non-answer, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday gave no indication he would move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix in response to Arizona’s immigration law, saying MLB has already done everything it should do regarding equality.

[…]

The players’ union has come out against the law, and some — including the city of San Francisco — have called for MLB to pull its Midsummer Classic from Arizona.

But asked about it after a quarterly owners’ meeting adjourned, Selig responded only by citing MLB’s progress in hiring minorities.

“We have enormous social responsibilities,” Selig said.

“We’re a social institution. We have done everything we should do — should do. Our responsibility, privileged to do it, don’t want any pats on the back. And we’ll continue to do it.

“We’ve done well. And we’ll continue to do well. And I’m proud of what we’ve done socially, and I’ll continue to be proud of it.

“That’s the issue, and that’s the answer.”

That’s also a whole lot of nothing. Honestly, though, it’s not unexpected. While sportswiters and bloggers may call on Selig to take action, I don’t see him doing anything unless he’s compelled to do so. Maybe Congress could force the issue, but that’s a long shot at best. No, if Selig can be goaded into action it’ll have to be the players’ union, which didn’t directly address the All Star Game in its statement but did say they would “consider additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members” if the law went into effect, which it now has. Your move, MLBPA.

Austin divests itself from Arizona

Good for them.

The Austin City Council decided Thursday to end business and travel ties with the state of Arizona to protest a new state law that will allow law enforcement officers there to detain people they suspect are in the country illegally.

There was little discussion before the resolution passed unanimously . Two people showed up to speak in favor of it; none spoke against.

The resolution, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez , calls for ending all city business travel to Arizona, unless it is related to police investigations, providing humanitarian aid or protecting Austinites’ health and safety. It also asks the city manager to review all city business with and investments in the state of Arizona and devise a plan to end them.

[…]

Austin has no contracts with or investments in the state of Arizona, according to memos from city controller Diana Thomas . Forty-eight employees in six city departments, including council offices, Austin Energy and the police department, took 20 business trips to Arizona over the past year, at a cost of $47,908.

Obviously, that’s not a lot of commerce. The symbolism matters, though, and the fact that it’s not that much means it ought to be a not-too-difficult decision for an interested city council to make. And if enough cities do it, the cumulative effect will be nontrivial. As only the Mayor can add an item to Houston City Council’s agenda, any action here would have to originate from that office. Drop a note to Mayor Parker at [email protected], or contact your Council member and ask him or her to ask the Mayor about it if you want to see it happen here.

You tell ’em, Chuck

Charles Barkley, speaking to ESPN’s Dan Patrick, talks sense about the Arizona “Show me your papers” law:

DP: You’re a resident of Arizona, I’m curious if you think baseball should get involved with the immigration law. Do you like that they’re standing up for their players to say we’re concerned about this law?

CB: I think we all need to. As a black person, I’m always against any form of discrimination or racial profiling. I really respect Adrian Gonzalez for coming out and saying something. I didn’t realize that in the major leagues there’s 30 percent Hispanic players, and in the minor leagues it’s like 50. Those are some daunting numbers. I think that we need to do two things. Living in Arizona, I’m disappointed that we came up with the law. But we need to do two things. We need to find a way to get these immigrants their citizenship, that’s the first thing, is to find a way to help them get citizenship. I’m very disappointed in John McCain. He used to be somebody I really admired and respected. The second thing, to me, would be very simple. Anybody who hires immigrants, you just fine them. They’re not working for other immigrants. Fine and penalize the people they’re working for, because most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that’s disrespectful and disgusting.

I don’t think I need to add anything to that. Way to go, Chuckster. Link via Think Progress.

Interview with Linda Chavez-Thompson

Linda Chavez-Thompson

Linda Chavez-Thompson

No, I haven’t started my slate of 2010 candidate interviews yet. It’s too early for that. But I did have the opportunity to ask Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, a few questions about immigration reform and the odious Arizona law that has us all talking about it. Here’s what she had to say:

Download the MP3 file

I’ll be back to speak with Chavez-Thompson, and many other candidates, about a broader array of topics in a few months. In the meantime, as always your feedback is appreciated. Oh, and just FYI: This interview was done over the phone. At about 17:30, someone else called me, which made my phone beep as call waiting kicked in. Sorry about that.

HGLBT Political Caucus issues resolution in favor of immigration reform

From the inbox:

GLBT CAUCUS COMES OUT FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

The membership of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for a resolution (attached) making a strong statement in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

“We, as a civil rights movement, see the immigration reform movement in the same light,” said Kris Banks, Caucus president. “We both have a long way to go. We both have seen our communities demonized by politicians stoking fear for political gain, as we saw with the recent draconian Arizona law. And we both face laws that simply do not work.”

Currently, more than 12 million people living in the United States are in a state of limbo, unable to reach citizenship or legal residency status. The laws regulating immigration are broken, outdated and fail to address reality: Mexico is allotted the same number of visas as Iceland, making for untenable waiting lists. Families are separated as the immigrant parents of U.S. citizens wait outside the United States for visa.

“The GLBT community has also faced, and still faces, laws that simply do not work. Laws like the sodomy statute and ‘cross-dressing’ laws, and laws still in place like marriage bans. They don’t work because they don’t recognize the innate drive of human beings to seek to live to their full potential, to constantly seek their own pursuit of happiness,” Banks said. “We are proud to stand with the immigration reform movement as they seek justice and fairness.”

The GLBT community is also directly affected by immigration issues. Currently, citizens and legal permanent residents are unable to sponsor their same-sex partners or that partner’s children. The Reid-Schumer-Menendez “framework” proposed in the U.S. Senate includes language from the Uniting American Families Act which fixes that problem, uniting families.

However, the Senate framework also includes language that would create a national ID card that uses biometrics, which would make getting documents correctly identifies the gender of transgender people difficult. The Caucus opposes such a measure.

The Caucus is the South’s oldest organization for the civil rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. For more information, see www.thecaucus.org.

Nicely put. I’d like to see more clubs and organizations issue take the same action. Then maybe we could do more than just begin the work of getting comprehensive immigration reform done. For those of you who are in a club or organization and would like to emulate the HGLBTPC’s example, the resolution with all its “Whereas”es is here.

Latinos and the GOP

Yeah, no big surprise here.

Adam Bustos, a third-generation Mexican-American, has voted Republican since Ronald Reagan ran for president. But he has been reconsidering his party affiliation since Arizona State Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation’s toughest immigration law last month.

“I’ve been thinking I might leave the party,” said Mr. Bustos, a 58-year-old Arizona native. “A lot of my Latino Republican friends have been talking about it after this law.”

The new Arizona law requires police to question people whom they suspect are in the U.S. illegally. Supporters say the law is necessary to combat rampant illegal border crossings. Opponents say it can’t be enforced without violating civil liberties.

Many Hispanic-Americans say they feel stung by a law they allege invites racial profiling, incites hatred and discriminates against all Latinos.

The law in Arizona was passed by a Republican legislature and signed by a GOP governor. Republican lawmakers in Texas, Utah and several other states have said they would consider introducing laws similar to the one passed in Arizona.

Conservative Hispanic voters, in particular, say they feel betrayed by Republican Party leaders who have supported the law.

Dear Democrats: Please don’t screw up this golden opportunity that you’ve been given. Thanks.

The Suns take a stand

I’m very glad to see this.

In an extremely bold move, the Phoenix Suns as an organization made a strong political statement in opposition to the recent Arizona immigration bill.

Discussions on taking action began last week after the bill passed, with an idea that came from Robert Sarver, Managing Partner of the Phoenix Suns.

According to Steve Kerr, the team discussed it internally before going to the league for approval to both wear the ‘Los Suns’ jerseys, but also to come out publicly in this way.

Kerr said both the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs were fully supportive of the Suns move.

Ultimately, the decision was left up to the players, but in a locker room led by Steve Nash, it is no surprise how that turned out.

“I think the law is very misguided. I think it is unfortunately to the detriment to our society and our civil liberties and I think it is very important for us to stand up for things we believe in,” Nash said of the bill. “I think the law obviously can target opportunities for racial profiling. Things we don’t want to see and don’t need to see in 2010.”

Sarver’s statement is here; judging from the comments – this is posted on a Suns fan blog – it was clearly a gutsy thing for him to do. Surely now the path is clear for Commissioner David Stern to take a stand. More here and here.

UPDATE: More from Fanhouse.

Not just MLB

Basketball writer Bethlehem Shoals argues provocatively that NBA Commissioner David Stern should take a stand on the Arizona “Show me your papers” law.

Enter the NBA’s éne-bé-a campaign, launched at the beginning of this season in attempt to capitalize on and expand all manner of “Hispanic” interest in the league. There were web pages in English and Spanish; promotion of players and just plain promotion of the sport in certain neighborhoods; and most controversially, “Latino Power Rankings” that made absolutely no sense.

What exactly “Hispanic” meant was up for grabs, since they brought in both English-speaking Melo and non-Latino Rudy Fernandez. The distinction between Afro-Latin players like Nene and the Italian-by-descent Manu Ginobili has always been sticky, and rarely so — sorry for this one — black and white. But as tone deaf as the éne-bé-a effort may have been, it showed the NBA — not the Players Association — had an undeniable interest in this demographic, just like the MLB union.

Here’s the massive irony, one bigger than Nash the hostage do-gooder, or LeBron and burden of greatness. The Players Association just isn’t going to touch this issue because of another racial element in this equation. The league doesn’t have enough Latinos to make a union statement look like an act of solidarity. It’s not truly diverse enough to appeal to notions of universal justice. This league is still seen as African-American, and from a public relations perspective, nothing’s scarier than a bunch of black men who stake out a strong political position.

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David Stern is notorious for being a ruthless capitalist who, on his own time, lends his support to Democratic causes to a degree that would put Steve Nash to shame. For once, the two seem to match up well. Strange as it is for the league to show more political gumption than its players, in this case, Stern’s the one whose hand is being forced. And, you’ve got to figure, he’d be more than a little happy to take the bait.

The NBA may not be heavily Latino, but it does have a lot of foreign-born players in it, some of whom may have a few thoughts about this issue. Maybe if someone like Yao Ming said he thought this law wasn’t such a hot idea, it might get some people’s attention. I don’t mean to single him out, I just think there would be value in reminding people that “immigrant” does not necessarily mean “Latino”. Even in Arizona, as the Canadian-born Steve Nash could attest. But I agree that Stern is more likely to speak up, and may be a better fit for it anyway. And regardless of that, more sports leagues and teams should be a part of this conversation as well.

More pressure on MLB over the 2011 All Star Game

Keep it up.

A New York congressman who called for the league to move the 2011 game from Phoenix is the latest person to push for an economic boycott against the state in protest of the new law. Companies have been pulling conferences out of Arizona resorts while others have suggested consumers shun companies, such as US Airways, that are based in the state and have yet to condemn the the law.

“I think that when people, states, localities make decisions this monumental, they should know the full consequence of that decision,” Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., said. “I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people.”

Forty percent is an overstatement – from what I’ve seen elsewhere, MLB is about 27% Hispanic – but the exact number is not particularly important for these purposes.

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College who focuses on sports, said the economic loss from one game would have “a pretty small impact” on Arizona but that the attention it would draw could be damaging.

“A publicity campaign that goes on for months and months and months makes other people, who have nothing to do with Major League Baseball, stay away from Arizona,” Zimbalist said.

It’s not just the All Star Game, though that would be a nice symbolic place to start. About half of the teams have spring training sites in Arizona. Get them to pull out, and you’re starting to talk serious hurt. Plus, just getting the first high profile rebuke like losing the All Star Game would send a message that this is the right thing to do. Someone has to be first.

More here, here, and here. It’s great to see sportswriters, players, and managers like Ozzie Guillen speak out. Here’s one player who won’t participate if the All Star Game is in Arizona next year:

[Padres star Adrian Gonzalez] told FanHouse that he will not attend next year’s All-Star Game in Phoenix if the law is in effect, and that he’d like for major league baseball to boycott spring training in Arizona. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law on April 23.

“I’ll support the Players Association 100 percent,” said Gonzalez, who grew up in both Tijuana and a suburb south of San Diego. “If they leave it up to the players and the law is still there, I’ll probably not play in the All-Star Game. Because it’s a discriminating law.

“I know it can’t be done, but they should take spring training out of (Arizona) if it’s possible.”

That’s a lot of people speaking up, and there will be more to come. I just hope Bud Selig is listening. And as long as we’re sending messages to the Commissioner, would someone please tell him to drop that stupid “league that wins the All Star Game gets home advantage in the World Series” idea? Thanks.

MLBPA opposes Arizona immigration law

Good for them.

New York, NY, Friday, April 30, 2010 … The following statement was issued today by Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner regarding the immigration law recently passed by the state of Arizona.

“The recent passage by Arizona of a new immigration law could have a negative impact on hundreds of Major League players who are citizens of countries other than the United States. These international players are very much a part of our national pastime and are important members of our Association. Their contributions to our sport have been invaluable, and their exploits have been witnessed, enjoyed and applauded by millions of Americans. All of them, as well as the Clubs for whom they play, have gone to great lengths to ensure full compliance with federal immigration law.

“The impact of the bill signed into law in Arizona last Friday is not limited to the players on one team. The international players on the Diamondbacks work and, with their families, reside in Arizona from April through September or October. In addition, during the season, hundreds of international players on opposing Major League teams travel to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks. And, the spring training homes of half of the 30 Major League teams are now in Arizona. All of these players, as well as their families, could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal. Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona to any state or local official with suspicion of his immigration status. This law also may affect players who are U.S. citizens but are suspected by law enforcement of being of foreign descent.

“The Major League Baseball Players Association opposes this law as written. We hope that the law is repealed or modified promptly. If the current law goes into effect, the MLBPA will consider additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members.

“My statement reflects the institutional position of the Union. It was arrived at after consultation with our members and after consideration of their various views on this controversial subject.”

Well said. Though I would prefer for it to not come to that, I hope the union follows through on its consideration of additional steps in the event the law doesn’t get blocked. It would be nice if Commissioner Selig followed their lead, too. Now maybe MLS will take a stand, too. Thanks to David Pinto for the link.

Will Texas make like Arizona?

If there’s been one small positive thing about the ridiculous Arizona anti-immigrant law, it’s been to remind the rest of the country that states besides Texas do crazy, inexplicable things as well. And I do believe that there’s a reason to be optimistic that in the end, people will learn that this was a terribly wrong thing to do. I’m also hopeful that while crazies like Rep. Debbie Riddle will propose legislation to do what Arizona has done, it won’t get anywhere. She’s done this before, without success, and I don’t see her getting any more traction on it next year.

I could be wrong about that, of course. The good news is that the political implications of Arizona’s actions may play in Bill White’s favor.

“In the best of all worlds, for White to win, there has to be a large Latino voter turnout,” said Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas Pan-American.

He said if the anti-immigration debate nationally is perceived as anti-Latino, it could spark a voter turnout that has not been there for Democrats in the past.

“This is almost like a gift to him,” Polinard said of White.

The anti-immigration voters already like Perry and do not need to be convinced to vote for him, Polinard said.

“What this does is make it harder for the governor to get back to the middle of the road,” he said.

True enough, but this isn’t really what Rick Perry wants to talk about. I doubt he’d have picked yesterday to tell us about that coyote he killed in February if he were eager to discuss Arizona. The list of what’s wrong with Rick Perry is several miles long, but for the most part he’s not been a demagogue on immigration; certainly, compared to some of his partymates, he’s downright reasonable. Sure, he’s tossed around the silly “sanctuary city” charge at Bill White, because he’s never not playing to the cheap seats, and he likes to talk big about frivolous money-wasters like border cameras, but I do believe that he’s unlikely to make a big deal out of this.

Jim Harrington, of the Texas Civil Rights Project, predicted “zero” chance of a similar effort here, saying Texas has “a different relationship with the Hispanic community.”

Such a push “would cause an enormous political transformation of the state a lot quicker than it’s happening at this point,” Harrington said. “It would galvanize the Hispanic community astronomically.”

Asked about the Arizona law, GOP Gov. Rick Perry and his Democratic challenger, Bill White, emphasized through spokespeople that immigration is a federal responsibility.

“You can take the political temperature by just looking at Rick Perry being quiet,” Harrington said.

I suspect Perry won’t change his approach much. He’ll keep bashing the federal government for its failures on fixing the immigration system while doing his usual macho posturing, but in keeping with his norms he won’t actually propose any solutions. White will likely stick to his “it’s a federal responsibility” line, which is true but carries the risk of annoying supporters who want to see him take a stronger stand against measures like Arizona’s. Sometimes, just not being the Republican isn’t enough.

Still, it’s important to remember that even if Rick Perry is kinda not too bad on immigration issues, many members of his party, like Riddle and Leo Berman, are nuts. And this is a serious schism in the GOP that isn’t going away any time soon.

The Texas Association of Business’ Bill Hammond said that while it is likely similar legislation will be filed in the Lone Star State, “I think and hope there’s little likelihood the Texas Legislature would pass anything so misguided as what they’ve done in Arizona. I think it is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Hey, Bill, here’s a suggestion. Instead of blowing smoke about health care, why not do something that you’re actually good at and find primary challengers for clowns like Riddle and Berman, who are the ones pushing this legislation that you say is hurtful and unconstitutional? I know, it’s too late for this year, and by 2012 it may not matter. Point is, this is something you could have taken action on if it really mattered to you.

UPDATE: The Trib has Perry’s statement, which is pretty much what I expected.

Don’t play ball with the state of Arizona

What Kevin Blackistone says.

About 10 years ago, the NCAA made one of its most bold and upright decisions: it refused to allow any more of its postseason tournaments, like March Madness, to be held in South Carolina until the state stopped flying the banner of the long defeated racist Confederacy in the face of 21st century societal progress.

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams explained at the time that the organization wanted to “ensure that our championships are free from any type of symbolism that might make someone uncomfortable based on their race.”

As such, it is time for the governors of college athletics to expand their postseason ban. Arizona should be next, immediately.

The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., should lose the BCS National Championship Game scheduled to be played there next January unless Arizona legislators rescind soon and for good an anti-immigration law they just passed that gives police the right to stop and search for documents anyone police suspect of being in the country illegally.

After all, that law means racially profiling people who appear to be Hispanic, no matter what Arizona lawmakers claim. That means making an entire group of people, as the NCAA spokesman said, uncomfortable in Arizona because of their heritage. That’s unquestionably wrong.

In my previous post, I mentioned former Arizona Governor (and world class bozo) Evan Mecham, whose racist antics cost his state a Super Bowl, among other things. Evan Weiner recalls that, and notes that there are other sporting events that may – ought to – be yanked until the Arizona Lege makes amends.

The Glendale, Arizona stadium, that is the home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and hosted the 2008 Super Bowl, is one of the 18 cities that has been proposed for use by USA Bid Committee in an effort to win the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.

Houston is on that list as well, with the Dynamo ownership being on the USA Bid Committee. Note to local activists: Why not put a little pressure on the Dynamo to raise a stink about this? If there’s going to be any real blowback against Arizona for this bit foolishness, it’s got to come from the grassroots, and this is a good entry point. Here’s their contact info:

HOUSTON DYNAMO FRONT OFFICE

1001 Avenida de las Americas, Ste. 200
Houston, TX 77010

Phone: (713) 276-7500
Fax: (713) 276-7572
E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter
Facebook

Let them know, politely, that you don’t want any Arizona city included on the USA Bid Committee’s list for the FIFA World Cup, and that you would like the Dynamo to take a stand on the matter. If you’re a Dynamo fan, especially if you’re a season ticket holder, make sure they know that as well. They have an interest in keeping their fans happy. Obviously, the Dynamo haven’t done anything wrong, but this is how stuff gets done.

And Astros fans can get involved, too.

Major League Baseball is set to hold its 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix, where the Diamondbacks play, and activists are calling on MLB to pull the game out of Arizona in protest of the new law. The idea is being espoused by activist bloggers at Daily Kos and Change.org, hosting a petition on its website to move the All-Star Game out of Arizona.

Some are calling on baseball fans to boycott at least one MLB game. A Facebook group is specifically calling on fans to boycott the Arizona Diamondbacks’ May 7 home game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The group wants the D-Backs to state a position on the new law.

There’s hashtag, #AZMLBB, being used on Twitter for discussion of this movement.

Unfortunately, the Astros do not display Contact information as prominently as the Dynamo do, so you may have to figure out the best way to let them know how you feel yourselves. They’re on Facebook here. As with the Dynamo, they too will want to keep their fans happy. Stace has more.

Papers, please

So if you were to be pulled over by the police today, say for speeding or something, would you be able to prove that you’re a citizen, as the state of Arizona will now require? I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the habit of carrying my passport or birth certificate with me when I go about my daily business. I suppose I could show them my voters registration card, but the Republican Party has spent the past few years trying to convince us that isn’t sufficient identification for voting purposes, so I don’t see how it could be good enough to prove that I belong here. No, I’m thinking it’s going to have to be passports and birth certificates for everyone, unless Arizona decides to issue its own government-issued “Please Don’t Deport Me” ID cards. I’m old enough to remember when conservatives thought that was a Very Bad Idea, but I suppose things are different now.

Of course, I’d never get asked by a cop for my papers because I don’t look like an immigrant. Only folks who arouse valid reasons for suspicion of their legal status, for reasons other than looking or sounding like an immigrant because that would be racial profiling, which the state of Arizona promises us will totally never happen just as it’s never happened anyplace else, will be asked to produce their docs. So in the unlikely event I need to travel to Arizona – I do not intend to choose to visit there any time soon; seriously, have they learned nothing from the Evan Mecham experience? – I shouldn’t need to bring my passport with me.

Anyway. I join with religious leaders, President Obama, State Rep. Garnet Coleman, and many local activists in condemning this racist and retrograde legislation. Hell, even the country’s most notorious xenophobe thinks Arizona went too far. The sooner it is overturned, and the sooner we quit doing stupid things like this, the better.

Don’t be like Arizona

I don’t have a whole lot of hope for the 2011 legislative session and the budget that it will produce. But at least we won’t do anything quite this stupid.

Arizona on Thursday became the first state to eliminate its Children’s Health Insurance Program when Gov. Jan Brewer signed an austere budget that will leave nearly 47,000 low-income children without coverage.

The Arizona budget is a vivid reflection of how the fiscal crisis afflicting state governments is cutting deeply into health care. The state also will roll back Medicaid coverage for childless adults in a move that is expected to eventually drop 310,000 people from the rolls.

State leaders said they were left with few choices because of a $2.6 billion projected shortfall next year. But hospital officials and advocates for low-income people said they were worried that emergency rooms would be overrun by patients who had few other options for care, and that children might suffer enduring developmental problems because of inadequate medical attention.

The cuts also mean the state will forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching aid, and could lose far more if Congress passes a health bill that requires states to maintain eligibility levels for the two programs.

It’s hard to imagine a policy that’s more penny-wise and pound-foolish than that. In addition to all of the lost matching funds, you’re ensuring that thousands of families will use the least efficient and most expensive form of health care there is – emergency rooms, which by the way pushes a whole bunch of cost onto local governments – and thousands of children will be less healthy. That will lead to poorer educational outcomes and to such longer term consequences as reduced earning potential and higher rates of crime. You really couldn’t do worse if you tried.

The good news is that the just-passed health care bill includes a provision that prohibits states from dropping CHIP. I didn’t think that would have been an option here anyway – it’s a bridge too far, even for us – but now any temptation to go for it is gone. Doesn’t mean we won’t have some CHIP cuts, but at least there will be a limit. Link via Yglesias.