Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Donnelly ducks, Puckett panders

October 14, 2008

(from WSBT)

SOUTH BEND — Thousands came together Sunday to ignite change in the community. They also put local leaders and those running for office in the hot seat.

The group is called “Transforming Action Through Power” or TAP. It’s a faith-based outreach group made up of 12 local churches from Catholic and Baptist, to Jewish and Pentacostal.

The group focused on four major issues facing South Bend: education, economic development, racial profiling and immigration.

The contagious engery and cheers of promise from more than 1,200 people in the Washington High School Gym were also laced with concern about very real issues.

“There are so many barriers,” said one speaker. “Sometimes it’s language, sometimes it’s color, sometimes it’s gender.

That’s why the non-partison group TAP tried to break down those barriers, putting elected officials and those running for office in the hot seat.

“They are working for us,” said TAP civil rights leader Eva Patterson.

On Immigration, South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke committed to work toward reforming national immigration laws.

“Federal law really needs to identify a path for citizenship for residents who are here,” Luecke said.

Indiana Second Congressional District Republican candidate Luke Puckett promised to temporarily stop immigration raids if he’s elected.

“I asked to put a moratorium on this, on the ICE raids until we can literally sit down and put a process together for those who are here illegally to get their residency,” Puckett explained.

Incumbent Congressman Joe Donnelly does not support that. In a statement, a spokesperson for Donnelly’s campaign wrote “Cracking down on employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers is one way we enforce our laws. Joe does not believe we should be making it harder for the federal government and our law enforcement officials to do their job.”

Another issue addressed at Sunday’s meeting — racial profiling — right here in South Bend.

“In [a] study, it showed that Blacks and Hispanics were stopped more than others of a different race in South Bend,” said Eva Patterson.

When WSBT asked whether racial profiling is a problem in South Bend, police Sgt. Christopher Voros replied, “not that we’ve seen.”

In the meeting, Sgt. Voros spoke about the police department’s commitment to being fair — fitting the TAP theme of giving a voice to everyone, regardless of race, color, gender or age.

Several of the current South Bend School Board members and those running for the board were also at Sunday’s meeting. They collectively answered “yes” and “no” questions from TAP representatives.


Election year ploy: English-only ballots proposed

June 13, 2008

(The following article was published June 12 by the South Bend Tribune)

English-only ballots proposed
Rep. Souder’s bill meets with opposition.

Tribune Staff Writer

Federal election ballots would only be printed in English if a bill co-sponsored by a northern Indiana congressman becomes law.

But critics say even though immigrants need to know basic English to become a citizen and get the right to vote, the language on a ballot is more complicated, making the law unreasonable to a large number of people.

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, is one of 37 representatives backing H.R. 5971, which is titled the American Elections Act of 2008.

It was introduced in early May and would require that ballots be provided only in the English language.

Exceptions would be made for American Indian and Alaska Native dialects, as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”English is the unifying language of the United States, and understanding of English is fundamental to participation in our political process,” Souder said in a statement. “Bluntly put, if you can’t read the election ballot, how can you possibly follow the political debate?”

The bill to require English on the ballots would “unite Americans and eliminate the unnecessary division among voters caused by multiple language ballots,” he said.

In St. Joseph County, ballots are only printed in English. Same goes for Elkhart County, about 75 percent of which falls into Souder’s district.

Foreign language speakers who come to the United States and apply for citizenship must learn basic English to pass the required tests, said Marilyn Torres, of the Goshen-based community group Immigration Task Force.”But that wouldn’t be the kind of vocabulary you’d have to have in order to read a ballot in English and understand everything on it,” Torres said.

That’s why it’s necessary for ballots to sometimes be printed in languages other than English, and it’s why Torres thinks English-only ballots are a bad idea, she said.

Rebecca Ruvalcaba agrees. She’s executive director of La Casa de Amistad, a community center that attempts to address the needs of South Bend-area Hispanics.

“It would be a disservice for our citizens that are Spanish speaking, especially our elders who became citizens but have very little English-speaking ability,” Ruvalcaba said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, still is reviewing the bill, spokeswoman Samantha Slater said.”While ensuring that all citizens should be able to freely exercise their right to vote, Joe believes that new citizens should follow the example of previous generations of immigrants who worked hard to master the English language and who embraced their new country and culture,” she said in a statement.

The bill has been sitting in committees since early May, shortly after it was introduced.

(bold type by DW)

Immigration reform requires bold, creative thinking

April 24, 2008

(Article published Apr 24, 2008 in the South Bend Tribune)

Immigration reform requires bold, creative thinking


The advent of the presidential primary season has been the occasion for the question of immigration reform to recede, somewhat, from national prominence. Commentators noted how even during the later GOP debates the issue was only briefly discussed, if mentioned at all. In Indiana, attempts to pass immigration-related legislation have failed, collapsing as backers sought to distance themselves from embarrassing racially-charged comments made in support of Senate Bill 335.

Concerns over immigration-related matters may take a back seat during the remaining months before the November elections. But there does appear to be broad-based agreement on the need for reform that will compel legislative action.

Such reform must necessarily come from federal, as opposed to state or local level, legislation. Immigration involves federal policies regarding the treatment of undocumented workers, border security as well as consideration of the increasingly global and integrated nature of the economy. As such, attempts by state legislators to circumvent the unambiguously federal nature of immigration issues are misguided.

The subject of immigration is complex; it demands consideration of historical, economic, cultural and other factors in what must be a responsible, comprehensive policy change. To address immigration in a piecemeal fashion that deals with but one aspect — “enforcement” — while neglecting other facets is to oversimplify and, ultimately, exacerbate the situation.Certainly, it is both reasonable and responsible for the federal government to ensure the security of our national borders. It follows that, towards this end, an enforcement mechanism be in place. But in order to realize the best chance of effectively securing our borders, any enforcement mechanism must be constructed as part of broad reforms that acknowledge the realities of today’s world. “Enforcement only” attempts have failed; Border Patrol funding has grown exponentially in recent years while the undocumented immigrant population has continued to grow and public alarm has increased.

Reforms must recognize the importance of immigrants to the health and well-being of our domestic economy and should demonstrate an appreciation for the tacit acceptance of undocumented laborers that existed for many years. It is because of this unspoken but understood historical reality that there are now millions of undocumented individuals and families living and working inside the United States.

The relatively recent shift in attitudes towards the topic of immigration comes as a direct result of several factors beyond the control of immigrants themselves. Understandable public distress at the uncertainties and disruptions associated with a globalizing economy that is fundamentally transforming the labor market and fears linked to the perceived threat of terrorism are among the most salient changes in circumstances that have contributed to the public’s renewed focus on immigration issues.

Sadly, American history is fraught with examples of ugly, vicious treatment of immigrants who are cynically made into scapegoats for social problems. It is always convenient to dehumanize and blame an individual or group in a subordinate social position that hinders their ability to defend themselves. Perhaps most disturbingly, a limited minority continues to advance stances toward immigrants that can only be described as racist and xenophobic — attacks that are, to some degree, encouraged by a short-sighted enforcement-only legislative debate.

Developing comprehensive immigration reform will surely entail bold, creative thinking on the part of our elected officials. Worthwhile legislation will unavoidably include a procedure by which existing undocumented individuals and families are afforded a reasonable opportunity to either pursue U.S. citizenship or “guest worker” status.It is in everyone’s interest that the overwhelming majority of individuals and families who are now living and working as undocumented immigrants can feel safe, respected and valued for their contributions to our society. It is in no one’s interest that these same individuals and families should be afraid for their livelihoods or look upon both law enforcement officials and members of the general public with fear, mistrust or any general sense of antagonism.

As this area’s representative to federal government, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly must rise to the challenge presented by the immigration issue. He must have the courage to see beyond the contemptuous actions of some politicians who are willing to fan the flames of public discontent for political gain and instead demonstrate his true commitment to all of the 2nd District’s working families. In particular, Donnelly must stand up for the thousands of immigrant soldiers and their families who depend upon “fast-track” paths to citizenship after serving full tours of duty while war widows face potential deportation.

Some rely upon a “divide and conquer” strategy that seeks to play segments of our community off of one another for private gain. Yet there is much more common ground in the everyday experiences and interests of all working people in the world today — regardless of national boundaries or citizenship status — than what divides them. This is an escapable fact of our globalizing world; we face a choice between cultivating a sense of universal humanitas (Latin for “humanity”) that celebrates our commonalities and continuing to foster preventable conflict that does so much harm to so many.

The people of the 2nd District should urge Donnelly and other elected leaders to validate the sacred trust we place in them by passing responsible, visionary comprehensive immigration reform.

ND Study: Undocumented workers an asset to local economy

April 10, 2008

(The following article appeared April 8, 2008 in the South Bend Tribune)

by Pablo Ros

Deporting a single undocumented worker from South Bend would on average cost the local economy a net loss of about $3,000 a month, according to a new study from the University of Notre Dame’s Economics and Econometrics Department.

The report, which can be read online, may be the first cost-benefit analysis of undocumented immigration to South Bend.

Based largely on surveys of Hispanic immigrants who live in South Bend, it provides a breakdown in dollar amounts of their assets and liabilities.

The researchers conclude that contrary to the belief that undocumented immigrants are a drain on the local economy, they are “an essential part of the economy and important for maintaining stability. Immigrants pay taxes, do not use as many government benefits as citizens and often take lower wages for unskilled labor.”

Kasey Buckles, one of two Notre Dame professors who directed the study, said its ultimate purpose is to assist policymakers in making informed decisions.She said its scope is limited to the economic impact of undocumented immigration, which has generated a debate that is political and ethical, among other things.

Abigail Wozniak, who co-directed the research, said the results of the study would be meaningful to cities similar to South Bend that have not traditionally been immigrant destinations.

The overall impact of the 12 million undocumented immigrants on the country’s economy has been the subject of much debate in recent years.

While immigrant advocates have underscored the attributes of the labor, taxes and purchasing power of undocumented workers, others have pointed to a drain in social services and loss of jobs as detriments.Based on an estimate of South Bend’s undocumented population that puts it at or near 3,400, the report concluded that this often neglected and shunned segment of our community on average contributes as much as $10 million per month to the local economy.

Researchers subtracted the total cost of liabilities — the greatest of which was public education — from the added value of assets — which included income from labor, taxes and expenditures.There are a few disclaimers to that figure, however. Researchers found data on investments made by undocumented immigrants in the stock market and other options unreliable, possibly the result of respondents misinterpreting a survey question.

Also, researchers were unable to calculate the costs of medical services used by undocumented immigrants.

But even in a worst-case scenario, the report points out, the overall impact of undocumented immigration on South Bend remains positive, meaning that the dollar value of immigrants’ contributions outweighs the total costs they generate.

Although the study doesn’t express such gains in terms of the total size of the local economy, Buckles said the loss of millions of dollars in monthly capital would inevitably cause it to shrink.

Researchers were not able to quantify other liabilities, such as crime and the loss of jobs. While undocumented immigrants generally take jobs others don’t want, the study points out, “there are still individuals who will suffer a loss of their job from less expensive competition.”The results of the study are based on two anonymous surveys administered in 2007 to about 120 congregants of St. Adalbert Parish in South Bend who were undocumented.

The survey sample is likely representative of the local Hispanic undocumented community, the study says.

Buckles told me she was surprised by a finding that the amounts of money immigrants send to families back home are not as high as she expected, averaging about $54 per month.

That seems to support the finding that only 46 percent of those surveyed said they would seriously consider someday returning to their country of origin permanently, she said.

Wozniak told me she was surprised by the study’s finding that a majority of undocumented workers pay taxes. The average total taxes paid by those surveyed is nearly $300 per month.The study was funded through the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.

Buckles said it was published in the undergraduate journal “Beyond Politics: An Undergraduate Review of Politics of the University of Notre Dame.”

Earning citizenship by dying for the US

March 24, 2008

[The following story underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, Rep. Joe Donnelly has thus far held to what has been described as an “enforcement first, second, and last” approach. – DW]

Families torn by citizenship for the fallen

by Helen O’Neill, AP correspondent

A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.

These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.

Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.

In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.

And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez’s service, put it differently.

“There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship,” Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime.

“They should not have to wait until they are brought home in a casket,” Mahony said.

But as the war continues, more and more immigrants are becoming citizens in death — and more and more families are grappling with deeply conflicting feelings about exactly what the honor means.

Gutierrez’s citizenship certificate — dated to his death on March 21, 2003, — was presented during a memorial service in Lomita, Calif., to Nora Mosquera, who took in the orphaned teen after he had trekked through Central America, hopping freight trains through Mexico before illegally sneaking into the U.S.

“On the one hand I felt that citizenship was too late for him,” Mosquera said. “But I also felt grateful and very proud of him. I knew it would open doors for us as a family.”

“What use is a piece of paper?” cried Fredelinda Pena after another emotional naturalization ceremony, this one in New York City where her brother’s framed citizenship certificate was handed to his distraught mother. Next to her, the infant daughter he had never met dozed in his fiancee’s arms.

Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic, was killed Aug. 6, 2007, by an explosive in Baqouba. He was buried by a cardinal and eulogized by a congressman but to his sister, those tributes seemed as hollow as citizenship.

“He can’t take the oath from a coffin,” she sobbed.

There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.

“Green card soldiers,” they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.

Since Bush’s order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.

They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.

Among them:

• Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.

• Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.

• Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.

• Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec. 1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.

• Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O’Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.

“He left us in the most honorable way a man could,” Shauna O’Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. “I’m proud to say my husband is a Marine. I’m proud to say my husband fought for our country. I’m proud to say he is a hero, my hero.”

Not all surviving family members feel so sure. Some parents blame themselves for bringing their child to the U.S. in the first place. Others face confusion and resentment when they try to bury their child back home.

At Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez’s July 4, 2004, funeral in the central Mexican town of San Luis de la Paz, Mexican soldiers demanded that the U.S. Marine honor guard surrender their arms, even though the rifles were ceremonial. Earlier, the Mexican Defense Department had denied the Marines’ request to conduct the traditional 21-gun salute, saying foreign troops were not permitted to bear arms on Mexican soil.

And so mourners, many deeply opposed to the war, witnessed an extraordinary 45-minute standoff that disrupted the funeral even as Lopez’s weeping widow was handed his posthumous citizenship by a U.S. embassy official.

The same swirl of conflicting emotions and messages often overshadows the military funerals of posthumous citizens in the U.S.

Smuggled across the Mexican border in his mother’s arms when he was 2 months old, Jose Garibay was just 21 when he died in Nasiriyah. The Costa Mesa police department made him an honorary police officer, something he had hoped one day to become. America made him a citizen.

But his mother, Simona Garibay, couldn’t conceal her bewilderment and pain. It seemed, she said in interviews after the funeral, that more value was being placed on her son’s death than on his life.

Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.

“Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder,” said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild. “It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it.”

Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won’t do.

And yet, immigrants have always fought — and died — in America’s wars.

During the Cvil War, the Union army recruited Irish and German immigrants off the boat. Alfred Rascon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Vietnam war. In the 1990s, Gen. John Shalikashvili, born in Poland after his family fled the occupied Republic of Georgia, became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After the Iraq invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico fielded hundreds of requests from Mexicans offering to fight in exchange for citizenship. They mistakenly believed that Bush’s order also applied to nonresidents.

The right to become an American is not automatic for those who die in combat. Families must formally apply for citizenship within two years of the soldier’s death, and not all choose to do so.

“He’s Italian, better to leave it like that,” Saveria Romeo says of her 23-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, who was born in Calabria, died in Iraq and is buried in New Jersey. A miniature Italian flag marks his grave, next to an American one.

“What good would it do?” she says. “It won’t bring back my son.”

But it would allow her to apply for citizenship for herself, a benefit only recently offered to surviving parents and spouses. Until 2003 posthumous citizenship was granted only through an act of Congress and was purely symbolic. There were no benefits for next of kin.

Romeo says she has no desire to apply. She says she couldn’t bear to benefit in any way from her son’s death. And besides, she feels Italian, not American.

Fernando Suarez del Solar just feels angry — angry at what he considers the futility of a war that claimed his only son, angry at the military recruiters he says courted young Jesus relentlessly even when the family still lived in Tijuana.

His son was just 13, Suarez del Solar said, when he was first dazzled by Marine recruiters in a California mall. For the next two years Jesus begged the family to emigrate and eventually they did, settling in Escondido, Calif., where the teen signed up for the Marines before he left high school.

Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez Del Solar was 20 when he was killed by a bomb in the first week of the war. He left behind a wife and baby and parents so bitter about his death that they eventually divorced.

Today, his 52-year-old father has become an outspoken peace activist who travels the country organizing anti-war marches, giving speeches and working with counter-recruitment groups to dissuade young Latinos from joining the U.S. military.

“There is nothing in my life now but saving these young people,” he says. “It is just something I feel have to do.”

But first he had to journey to Iraq. He had to see for himself the dusty stretch of wasteland where his son became an American. In tears, he planted a small wooden cross. And he prayed for his son — and for all the other immigrants who became citizens in death.

DW Editorial: Urge Donnelly not to sign discharge petition on the SAVE Act

March 12, 2008

The GOP is seeking signatures for a discharge petition (this is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from a Committee and usually without cooperation of the leadership – Wikipedia) to force a vote on the SAVE Act.

The SAVE Act stands for Secure America through Verification and Enforcement and represents an “enforcement first, second, and last” approach to immigration issues. This is not an example of comprehensive immigration reform and instead represents a disturbingly narrow-minded outlook on what is a complex issue.

Republicans are looking for both Democrats and fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives to sign this discharge petition. Regardless of Donnelly’s position on the SAVE Act (he supports it), a discharge petition is not the way to advance this bill’s consideration. Such an action works against the Democrat Party in this crucial period leading up to the November 2008 elections. Signing the discharge petition undercuts the Democrat leadership in the House and, ultimately, weakens the party. This is an effort orchestrated by the GOP against the Democrat Party and is intended to embarrass the Democratic presidential nominee, whoever this turns out to be.

Please consider writing or calling Rep. Donnelly’s offices and urging him not to sign this discharge petition.

Rep. Donnelly’s DC office: (202) 225-3915 Fax: (202) 225-6798

South Bend office: (574) 288-2780 Fax: (574) 288-2825


Thank you,


Donnelly on immigration: “enforcement” first, second, and last

February 19, 2008

Rep. Joe Donnelly held a news conference yesterday (Monday Feb 18) dealing specifically with his stance on the immigration debate. Various news sources covered the event (here is WSBT’s coverage “Donnelly touts efforts to curb illegal immigration” and here is Fox28’s coverage “Donnelly works to close off border”).

Yesterday we raised the question of whether Donnelly supports deportation of immigrants. Supposedly, Donnelly claims he didn’t say this… hopefully, there will be follow-up on this question with the reporter.

The possibility that our Congressman was pandering to reactionary, far-right views and is now disavowing his comments out of political calculation is quite disturbing.

As an astute reader suggested to DW in an email message:

“How do you enforce the immigration laws which is Donnelly’s position and NOT be in favor of deportation? Deportation is exactly what happens when you have legal roundups.”

This cuts to the heart of the matter: where does Joe Donnelly truly stand on the issues? Where are his principles? Or is he most interested in projecting a “moderate” i.e. conservative Democrat image in order to, in his view, best ensure his re-election?

Is this what we elected him for? To be more concerned with re-election than standing up for what’s right?


The immigration issue is very timely in Indiana now as the news came yesterday that the Indiana House Public Policy Committee voted 7-4 to pass what the Indianapolis Star yesterday called “one of the nation’s toughest illegal immigration bills.”

This bill, if eventually passed by the full House and signed into law, would very likely have a chilling effect on many communities across Indiana not to mention the negative consequences to the Hoosier economy.

It is indeed quite sad and discouraging that, yet again, too many are ready to scapegoat immigrants in a convoluted attempt at addressing complex social and economic issues.

Unfortunately, history is littered with examples of this sort of behavior yet it appears that Congressman Donnelly and others representing us in the Indiana state legislature are more concerned with their political careers than standing on principles.

Donnelly supports deportation of immigrants?

February 18, 2008

from an article in the Elkhart Truth:

“Gunn and her husband, Jim, asked Donnelly a range of questions about his views on illegal immigration, the SAVE act and how the federal government can work with Goshen’s local government.

Robinson asked Donnelly what he felt should be done about illegal immigrants. When he agreed they should be deported, she applauded.

The article is also posted on the Congressman’s website as a “News Clipping” with the headline “Donnelly Wins Praise: Immigration key issue residents talk about with rep.”



from a comment to this post:

“Thank you for your interest in this article. I, too, raised my concern about the article in a meeting with Congressman Donnelly today. He assured me that he did not say that he favors deportation. He asserts that he was misquoted. He added that the article will be removed from his website tomorrow (Tuesday), as today is a federal holiday.”

Fr. Chris Cox, C.S.C.


Congressman chats with residents

February 13, 2008

From the Goshen News:


[Donnelly Watch comments in Red]

Illegal immigration, energy independence, jobs and the War in Iraq were the biggest concerns local residents raised with Congressman Joe Donnelly, D-IN, during his “Congress on your Corner” session at Martin’s Supermarket in Goshen Sunday afternoon.

Dixie Robinson, city councilwoman for Goshen’s 2nd District, was among the first to broach the issue of illegal immigration, which dominated much of the discussion. She commented that local government argues that it is a federal problem and the federal government underenforces its own policies. Donnelly concurred regarding the federal level.

“It seems as though everybody has got their act together except for the federal guys,” Donnelly said, adding that in 2005 there were only three enforcement cases, “which is effectively zero enforcement.”

Donnelly has been a vocal supporter of the SAVE Act, a “three-part plan to drastically reduce illegal immigration by securing our borders, requiring employer verification of prospective employees’ legal status, and bolstering resources needed for enforcement of our immigration laws,” according to a statement released by his office Wednesday. He also confirmed for one attendee that Indiana only employs four ICE agents.

Other issues raised by attendees with regard to the immigration problem were drunk drivers, unlicensed drivers, crowded post offices on Friday afternoons due to Hispanics sending money home, the flooding of the job market with workers and an increase in signs written in Spanish.

[Ok, so immigration is definitely an important issue. But Donnelly’s one-dimensional ‘enforcement’ position reduces immigration to an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality and ignores the larger, quite complex factors at play. Donnelly’s inability (or unwillingness) to stand for principles of human rights and speak to the reality of gross international economic inequality as a primary element to this whole issue is indicative of his overall behavior as our Congressman thus far.]

The importance of energy independence also drew many comments. According to Donnelly, the biggest problems with the United States’ current situation are the exporting of oil from Alaska to Japan and the oil industry’s connection with the Middle East.

“We’re paying for our own war effort, then turning to Saudi sheiks and buying their oil. It’s like we’re funding both sides,” he said.

[I guess the above statement attributed to Donnelly constitutes this articles coverage of the discussion of the Iraq War. What about Donnelly’s votes in regard to the War in Iraq?]

Donnelly suggested several options to begin the trek to energy independence, commenting on his publicly stated position that the United States should be drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Pointing to the future, he explained that five years from now, ethanol will be manufactured from corn stalks alone, allowing the actual corn to be used for its original purposes and bringing the cost of grain back down.

[Joe, biofuels (or more accurately agro-fuels) are not a sustainable solution. Carbon emissions are a major problem and trying to switch one industrialized, privately-held, and centralized fuel source for another isn’t going to help us make the cultural changes so vital to our long-term survival as a species.]

Although attendance was initially light, 14 people had joined the discussion before its end.

“I thought it was great to have someone sit down with you and listen to your problems,” Robinson said.

When asked why he chose to hold a “Congress on your Corner” session in a location outside of his district, Donnelly stated his desire to ensure the ability of all his constituents to have access to him in order to express their concerns.

“More than anything, it’s about bringing the office to Goshen to hear the people and help work on their problems,” he said.

Donnelly endorses immigration bill

February 6, 2008

From the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN)

Congressman Joe Donnelly has endorsed what he describes as a bipartisan measure aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

In a news release, Donnelly voiced support for a measure introduced by Congressman Heath Shuler, D-NC, called the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement, or SAVE, Act offers a three-part plan to reduce illegal immigration by securing the nation’s borders, requiring employer verification of prospective employees’ legal status and bolstering resources needed for enforcement of our immigration laws. Donnelly is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“Our immigration system is broken,” said Donnelly, D-Ind. “Under the current administration, our immigration policy has failed to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants and to sufficiently enforce the law. I am committed to supporting a solution to the immigration problem. I believe the SAVE Act is an important first step.”

Specifically, the SAVE Act calls for the hiring of 8,000 new border patrol agents. In addition, the legislation provides the tools and resources necessary to recruit and retain these agents, as well as the technology and equipment they need to protect the border effectively.

“Secure borders are fundamental to our national security and a critical component of a sound immigration policy,” Donnelly said. “The SAVE Act would ensure that we are not understaffing our borders, and that Border Patrol Agents are equipped with the proper training and technology to do their jobs effectively.”

The SAVE Act would also require use of the E-Verify program by all employers within four years to ensure that their employees are here legally. The program would begin with the federal government, federal contractors and employers with 250 employees or more. Smaller businesses would be phased in over a four-year period.

“Until we crack down on businesses that employ illegal workers, the number of illegal immigrants in this country will continue to grow,” said Donnelly.

Finally, this act would increase the enforcement capacity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, by employing more agents and training additional state and local law enforcement personnel. The legislation would also expedite the removal of illegal immigrants by expanding detention capacity and increasing the number of Federal District Court judges.

“Illegal immigration has become nothing short of a crisis in this country,” Donnelly said. “The SAVE Act offers an immigration policy that strengthens our borders and enforces our employment laws. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the bill to the floor.”