Tag Archives: Dream Act

Borderline Crazy: Prop. 32′s Anti-Immigrant Allies

This is an article written by Matthew Fleischer for Frying Pan News. Check Frying Pan News for regular in-depth coverage of Prop 32, its funders, and how it will impact working Californians.

In October of 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Dream Act-which allows undocumented but high-achieving immigrant students to receive state funds to help pay for college. It was a monumental victory for tolerance and the culmination of a long fight-Arnold Schwarzenegger repeatedly vetoed similar measures during his tenure in the California governor’s office.

Come November 6, however, that fight could begin all over again if California’s Proposition 32 passes. The initiative will outlaw the use of automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes, crippling union political activity and empowering the measure’s billionaire backers to impose their political will on the state. While state unions passionately fought for the California Dream Act’s passage, they were opposed by politicians with ties to Prop. 32′s backers. Though they might not be rabid with anti-immigrant bile, Prop. 32′s moneymen have no problem funneling money to politicians who are.

Take for instance, Allan Mansoor, currently running for the State Assembly. He is an avowed enemy of the Dream Act, calling it “A slap in the face to people who followed the rules.” Mansoor has received major donations and support from Prop. 32 backers like Larry T. Smith and his powerful political action committee Family Action and the Lincoln Club of Orange County, as well as Howard Ahmanson.

When he served as mayor of the Orange County city of Costa Mesa in the early aughts, Mansoor launched a very public crackdown on Mexican lunch trucks-or, in his words “roach-coaches” blaring “La Cucaracha”-that were supposedly despoiling the suburban tranquility of his once peaceful town.

The move was blasted by the local press. Wrote OC Weekly food critic Gustavo Arellano: “Trust me on this one: As someone who has followed [these trucks] for nearly a decade, they’re not going into Costa Mesa . . . Mansoor is a bigot.”

The lunch truck crackdown, however, paled besides Mansoor’s next foray into immigration politics. In 2005, well before Arizona ever passed its anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Mansoor authorized Costa Mesa police to run immigration checks on individuals suspected of crimes, as well as on unlicensed drivers. He even proposed authorizing local police to investigate federal immigration crimes-creating a national news story over fear the rule would result in the racial profiling of Latinos.

The situation was ultimately resolved by installing a permanent Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in the local jail. But not before the American Civil Liberties Union sued Mansoor and Costa Mesa, after an immigrant rights advocate was arrested for speaking up against the plan at a city council meeting.

Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director and senior attorney of the ACLU’s Orange County office, which filed the suit, says that during the discovery phase of the lawsuit her group uncovered close ties between Mansoor and the anti-immigrant vigilante group the Minutemen, as well as its founder, Jim Gilchrist. Mansoor was even made an honorary member of the organization at one event.

“We believe the Minutemen to be a very dangerous group,” says Helzer. “Given the history of [Mansoor’s] activities in Costa Mesa, we would be concerned with any public servant who has those kinds of connections.”

Mansoor isn’t the only anti-immigrant zealot receiving material support from Prop. 32’s backers. San Bernardino Republican State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly recently received a $3,900 contribution from Howard Ahmanson’s political asset manager, Fieldstead and Company, for his reelection bid. Donnelly is probably best known for bringing a loaded .45-caliber Colt Mark IV on board a flight to Sacramento in January of this year. His excuse? Illegal immigrants were after him!

Donnelly is one of California’s most publicly anti-immigrant politicians. He’s the founder of his town’s chapter of the Minuteman-the xenophobic group that has tasked itself with patrolling the borders for undocumented immigrants. He was also the leading opponent of the Dream Act. Not only did he vote against the bill’s passage, Donnelly began collecting signatures to have the law repealed by ballot measure shortly after it was signed into law.

Fieldstead, incidentally, donated to Donnelly’s campaign well after his airplane adventure and anti-immigrant paranoia made national news. Ahmanson, rather disingenuously, claims that he himself isn’t anti-immigrant: “Most immigrants,” he told the Sacramento Bee in 2011, “are conservative on the social issues.”

Perhaps more hypocritical than disingenuous, however, is major Prop. 32 donor Jerry Perenchio. Even though he made much of his fortune as a co-owner of the Spanish-language TV network Univision, Perenchio has channeled $2.5 million in this election cycle to Republican candidates across America who could easily be described as anti-immigrant. The money was largely routed through Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC.

In Nevada alone, American Crossroads has supported Republican Senator Dean Heller, who vowed to alter the 14th Amendment to prevent those born in this country from automatically becoming citizens-in order to eliminate immigrant “anchor babies.” Earlier, in a 2011 special election, American Crossroads helped finance the campaign of Republican Mark Amodei, who compares the effects of illegal immigration to the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans.

Even before this election cycle, Perenchio donated money to such anti-immigrant California politicians as Santa Barbara Republican Tony Strickland-who voted against both the Dream Act and the Trust Act, the latter of which would have limited California law enforcement’s cooperation with federal officials in rounding up undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Strickland is a popular choice among Prop. 32 donors, receiving a rare direct donation to a California politician from Koch Industries-to the tune of $5,000.

Admittedly, most of Prop. 32’s backers aren’t aggressively anti-immigrant. At least not openly. They’re too savvy for that-after all, 38 percent of California is Latino. On a statewide level, pushing for an Arizona-type law would ultimately mean political suicide for California Republicans.

However, while political considerations may be keeping Prop. 32’s known backers from frothing at the mouth over immigration, it’s the unknown that is cause for concern. Earlier this week, the Prop. 32 campaign netted a massive $11 million donation from a mysterious non-profit calling itself Americans for Responsible Leadership. The organization is based in Arizona.

Little is known about ARL, and even less about its financial supporters. Our efforts to contact the group by press-time were unsuccessful.

Despite the scant details over the Arizona money’s origins, however, its infusion into the political process ultimately points to the greatest cause for concern over Prop. 32-the complete unknown. Even if California Republicans are too timid to launch an Arizona-type crackdown, that doesn’t mean shadowy out-of-state money from wealthy xenophobes couldn’t push for such a measure. As Perenchio’s national donations, as well as pro-Prop. 32 donations to candidates like Mansoor and Donnelly indicate, curbing anti-Latino rhetoric and stemming the tide of xenophobic legislation is nowhere on the Prop. 32 donors’ priority list.

California Dream Act Lite

The first of the California Dream Act bills could become law next year.

by Brian Leubitz

With the Legislature in recess, the days until August 15, when the Legislature comes back and the redistricting commission is due to return its final maps, are focused on looking at the Governor’s signings and vetoes.  And, of course, lots of dog and pony shows for the media, as Legislators attempt to get some attention for their legislation.

One item that is of particular note is the first, perhaps more modest part, of the California Dream Act.  AB 130 wouldn’t cost the state money, but it could enable some “Dreamers” to afford an education:

One of two bills referred to as the California Dream Act was approved today by the state senate and is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office for approval. Known as AB 130, the measure would allow undocumented college students access to privately funded financial aid in the form of scholarships and other assistance as overseen by state colleges and universities. (SCPR)

Currently, immigrants who attended at least three years at California high schools and graduated from a California high school pay in-state tuition.  This legislation would simply make these same students eligible for private aid.  

Brown has previously said he supported the California Dream Act, and one would hope that would mean a quick signing of AB 130.  But one thing that I’ve learned from watching this process for many years is that nothing is certain.  You can contact Governor Brown to let him know you support AB 130 and help speed up the process.

Dream Act Clears First Vote Hurdle

If you’ve been to any of the California Democratic Party conventions recently, or if you’ve otherwise had the chance to speak to some of the students that happen to be undocumented, you’ll know how important the Dream Act is.  And so, yesterday, when it passed its first major hurdle along the road to the Governor’s desk, there was reason to smile:

Illegal immigrants could receive college financial aid under legislation approved Thursday by the Assembly and apparently destined for the desk of a new Democratic governor who supports the concept. …

AB 130, among other things, would allow a small segment of illegal immigrants – those who currently qualify for in-state college tuition – to apply for aid from private gifts or endowments that totaled more than $72 million last year.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo proposed both AB 130 and a pending companion measure – AB 131 – that would open the financial door wider by allowing those illegal immigrants to seek Cal Grants and other public aid.(SacBee)

The governor has said in the past that he supports the concept of the California Dream Act, but hasn’t committed to the specifics of these measures.  However, considering that the first of these bills, AB 130, doesn’t even touch public money, it seems to be a no-brainer.  CalGrants might be a different matter, but only time (or Jerry) will tell on that one.

These students, who were brought here when they were young, and then succeeded in schools, are what this country should be about.  It is about people coming to America to work hard to build our economy.  We shouldn’t just be kicking these students out of our country, we should be helping them stay here.  The California Dream Act is a good first start on that.

Bringing Back the Dream

Let’s face it, getting legislation passed benefiting the immigrant community is challenging.  And with our previous governor, it was all the more difficult.  But the times have changed at the Horseshoe, and Asm. Gil Cedillo isn’t giving up on his efforts.

Cedillo’s bills would apply to undocumented immigrants who have attended California high schools, adult schools or technical schools for three years or more, graduated or attained an equivalent degree from them, and filed an application to legalize their status.

The two bills, Assembly Bills 130 and 131, would benefit the “best and brightest” of undocumented immigrants, who came to the United States as children through no choice of their own and embraced the English language and culture — and performed well in state schools, Cedillo said.(SacBee)

Given the demographic shifts of California, we are going to need all the well-educated workers that we can get.  That is where our economy is moving, and we just can’t be turning away hard-working and successful young students because their parents did something wrong when they were children.

Certainly we can all agree that we need to work to improve the Latin American economy so that we can reduce the number of undocumented immigrants.  However, at the same time, we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  If we have educated workers here, now, let’s put them to work in growing our economy.

DREAM ACT Eligible City College of SF Student Facing Deportation in AZ

On September 15, 2010, life as Shing Ma “Steve” Li knew it ended suddenly. On that warm summer morning about a month and half ago, two men knocked on the door of his San Francisco apartment. Inside, 20-year-old Steve was getting ready for a full day of classes at the City College of San Francisco. He could not have imagined that within the next couple hours he would be arrested and detained as a fugitive criminal. In the ensuing two days, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) processed Steve and his mother and sent them to their detention facility in Sacramento. Several weeks later, he was moved to the ICE detention center in Florence, Arizona, where he now awaits deportation.

Steve had no idea of his family’s status. Though he was born in Lima, Peru on July 3, 1990, Steve grew up right here in San Francisco. He attended Francisco Middle School and graduated from George Washington High School in 2008. Of ethnic Chinese dissent, Steve’s family arrived in San Francisco in 2002 after escaping from hardships in Peru. His parents came to America hoping for a fresh start. Steve was currently enrolled at the City College of San Francisco and was preparing to transfer to San Francisco State University where he planned on studying to become a nurse.

Sadly, Steve could have been spared this awful situation if Congress had passed the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act. This bill provides relief for certain inadmissible or deportable alien students who arrived in the U.S. as children, who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. Qualifying students have the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years of schooling at a four-year institution of higher learning.

The DREAM Act will get another vote later this year, as an amendment to the National Defense Reauthorization Act. The DREAM Act has bipartisan co-sponsors, and majority of the Senate has voted for it in the past. We hope and pray that Congress will pass the DREAM Act this year.

I was Steve’s professor at City College of San Francisco, and along with Steve’s other teachers and friends, we are writing to everyone we know to publicize Steve’s unjust detention, to educate people about the DREAM Act, and to try to forestall Steve’s deportation in the hope that the DREAM Act will be passed through Congress this year.

Steve Li had a bright future ahead of him. He was a good student at the City College of San Francisco. He was well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a nurse and helping others. As I said, he began preparing to transfer to San Francisco State University by enrolling in San Francisco State’s Summer Science Institute, an intensive program that supports undergraduate students pursuing a career in health care. This past summer, he was at the Summer Science Institute at 8am every weekday working on his Biology, Chemistry, and Physics prerequisites.

However, Steve’s dreams and his life were shattered into a million pieces when ICE came knocking at his door. His parents had applied for asylum in 2004, but were denied and their visas eventually ran out. Steve was not even aware that he had overstayed his visa until the ICE agents raided his home last month. Steve and his parents were all initially incarcerated in San Francisco, but Steve was forcibly separated from his family when his parents were subsequently released on October 4th. His parents are Chinese nationals, but because Steve was born in Peru, he was transferred to a detention center in Arizona to be processed for immediate deportation. He is only 20 years old, and has never lived away from home. Nevertheless, the U.S. government and ICE has ripped this child away from his family and locked him up like a criminal for something over which he had no control.

Steve has no family or friends in Peru.  If he were deported, he would be homeless and alone upon arrival. Sadly, he will be deported soon unless we can mobilize our elected officials to do the right thing. America is Steve’s home. It is no fault of his that he finds himself in this situation. Why would we send this young man to a country he hasn’t lived in since he was in elementary school? Steve is a young man with immense potential, and he has never been in trouble with the law. He has worked hard to help support his family and pay for his own education. He only wants the opportunity to complete his education and give back to the country that he has called home for most of his life. Isn’t this the exact type of person we want to keep in our country?

Please help us circulate Steve’s story: Send online petitions (links below) to our California senators and representatives in support of Steve and the DREAM Act, and write about Steve on blogs, Twitter, or Facebook. We need to get the word out!!!! If you have media contacts, let them know about this story.


1) SF City Council Member Eric Mar is introducing a resolution on behalf of Steve to the SF Board of Supervisors next week.

2) On October 28, 2010, the CCSF Board of Trustees passed a unanimous resolution demanding officials stop Steve’s deportation.

3) SF Chronicle was set to run a story on Steve’s case. We are unsure when though we were told last Saturday

4) World Journal has done a story.  

5) Sing Tao is also working on a story

6) Contra Costa Times ran a story last Friday, and they are working on a follow up:


7) Univision radio and television has also picked up on the story






1) Please support Steve by directing your friends, family, and colleagues to our online petition at: http://bit.ly/bringstevehome

2) We are organizing Call-In parties across several California college campuses for this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Even if you’re not attending a “call in party,” still show your support by calling:

Senator Feinstein: (415) 393-0707

Senator Boxer: (415) 403-0100

For John Morton (ICE Director): (202) 282-8495

If voicemail box full, call live line (202) 732-3000


Senator Scripts – “Hi I’m calling to urge Sen. Feinstein/Boxer/Director Morton to sponsor a private bill for Shing Ma “Steve” Li, who faces deportation any day now. He is an asset to our community. I ask that Sen. Feinstein/Boxer intervene today.”

If asked Steve’s A# (Alien Registration Number) is 076-143-010

Morton Script – “Hi, I’m calling to leave a message of support for Shing Ma “Steve” Li A#076-143-010 who is going to be deported any day know. Steve is pursuing a degree in nursing and he is an asset to our community. I ask that John Morton please step in and defer his deportation, thank you.

If asked Steve’s A# (Alien Registration Number) is 076-143-010

3) GET the WORD OUT! We have gotten some press from the media outlets listed below, but we need to get some serious media attention on this case or Steve will be deported! Please circulate Steve’s story in the blogosphere and beyond! We are holding a press conference/rally next Friday Nov 5th (12 pm) on the City College of San Francisco’s Ocean campus. Pass this info onto to interested individuals in the Bay Area who might want to come out to support Steve Li.

CA-32: Cedillo Masses a Volunteer Army In El Monte

The San Gabriel Valley is a unique area.  Within 5 minutes of Gil Cedillo’s campaign kickoff for Congress yesterday in El Monte, I visited a 200 year-old Spanish mission, and a Pho shop in Alhambra where I was the only guy in there who didn’t speak Cantonese.  This is a series of highly homogeneous communities, which doesn’t have the same media, doesn’t have the same leadership, and doesn’t even speak the same language.

However, it’s a demographic reality that the district is over 60% Latino while being about 18% Asian.  This is an urban, middle-class Hispanic district.  And while Gil Cedillo doesn’t represent it in the State Senate, he drew a lot of support to his initial campaign event yesterday.  Close to 400 people packed a storefront in El Monte to get started on the campaign.  Before there’s even a date set for the primary election (though everyone assumes it will be folded into the May 19 special election), yesterday Cedillo supporters were out canvassing the district.

But first, there were a series of speeches and endorsements.  Cedillo will have the backing of the Latino political establishment in the area.  The big news yesterday was that Rep. Xavier Becerra, of the neighboring district of CA-31, was out to endorse.  He joins the local county supervisor Gloria Molina, the local city councilman Ed Reyes (a small part of the district includes LA City), former Rep. Esteban Torres, and several other councilmembers and local politicos in giving their endorsement to Cedillo.  Molina even intimated that Congressional Hispanic Caucus support would be coming.  There was some not-all-that-subtle rhetoric about “our community” and “our people.”  It’s clear that this is a replay of the CA-37 special election, where Laura Richardson pushed an African-American/Hispanic divide.  With Cedillo’s main competition being Judy Chu, there’s definitely going to be some of that Hispanic/Asian divide in this race, though I imagine it will be more respectful that Richardson’s toxicity.  

What complicates this is that Chu received the Cal Labor Fed endorsement and actually has support from a few Latino lawmakers of her own.  Cedillo was sure to tout his 100% labor scorecard in his short address.  In the rest, he talked about a campaign of faith and hope, strength and leadership.  He called the San Gabriel Valley “a slice of America,” where families come to buy a home, raise children, and get an education.  And he talked about the need to make the economy work for those families, with a particular emphasis on health care (he mentioned how great it would be to build a hospital with the stimulus money – even though I’m pretty sure that won’t be something the stimulus can do).  Cedillo is at his best when talking about immigration.  His tireless support for the California version of the DREAM Act, to allow undocumented students to attend college and be eligible for financial aid, has earned him a sterling reputation among young people, many of whom were there volunteering yesterday.

I don’t know how many of those young people are eligible to vote, however, and in particular, eligible in that district.  Cedillo will have no shortage of volunteers, but he doesn’t completely have a voting base inside the district, having never represented it.  Outside of Molina, the endorsees are not by and large from the population centers of the district, either.  The other factor in this race is Emanuel Pleitez, who liveblogged at FDL yesterday.  He is a local, with a small but strong group of former Obama organizers working with him.  If you look at this strictly on the level of identity politics, having Pleitez in the race probably helps Judy Chu a bit.  The big question, of course, is who is going to turn out their voters.

Legislative Update

Technically, the session is over in Sacramento, but of course, with no budget, the work will go on.  More on that in a moment, but let’s take a look at the bills that have passed thus far.

Hundreds of bills passed through their respective houses and made their way to the Governor’s desk.  Among those passing:

AB 1945, which cracks down on insurance company rescission policies

• SB 1301, the California DREAM Act, allowing children of illegal immigrants to access financial aid for college

SB 375, a major land use bill that would improve transportation planning and reduce urban sprawl (this is a real coup)

AB 583, the Clean Money pilot project bill that would make the 2014 Secretary of State election a Clean Money race.

UPDATE: More bill passage from the indispensable Frank Russo:

• AB 1830 (Lieu): This is the good version of the subprime mortgage bill that passed in a weaker state earlier this year.

• AB 180 (Bass): Another mortgage bill that seeks to go after predatory lenders and “foreclosure consultants.”

• SB 1440 (Kuehl): This is a big one.  It sets a minimum requirement that insurers spend at least 85% of their premiums on health care.

• SB 840 (Kuehl): The single-payer bill, which will be promptly vetoed by the Governor, sadly.

• A couple toxic chemicals bills: AB 1879 and SB 509.

• AB 2939 (Hancock): Allowing cities and counties to implement stricter green building guidelines than state law, which are already tightening through SB 375.

Among the bills that failed:

SB 1522, a health care reform bill which would have standardized the individual health care market and made it easier to comparison shop, as well as set a floor for basic minimum care.  That those who most strongly pushed for comprehensive health reform would fail to pass this common-sense fix makes no sense to me.

• SB 110, which would have created an independent sentencing commission to review and revised sentencing guidelines and parole standards.  Another failure of leadership in our prison crisis, as lawmakers refuse to loosen their grip on the rules which they’ve abused and led to this disaster.

As for the budget, now the legislature, out of session by constitutional mandate, must work on nothing else.  Sen. Perata has called the bluff on the Republicans, asking them to formally submit their unspeakably cruel budget plan so that the whole state can see their priorities for what they are.

There was a strange colloquy near the end of yesterday’s Senate session (Republican Senator Jim Battin is pictured at right), where the Republicans were clearly caught flatfooted, flustered in their responses like school kids admonished for not doing their homework, and having a hard time coming to grips with what Perata told them. This is a reprise of what Perata did last year when Senate Republicans held the budget up and when he asked them to come up with their own proposal.

Perata: Right now, the bill that I brought up yesterday is kind of an orphan. You have your opportunity to present a bill that you outlined today in your press conference. I appreciate the fact that there is a substantial amount of work to be done on that bill. We know, because we started ours 8 months ago. So you’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re very confident you can do it. Every day we will be here to see how we’re doing […]

Republican Senator Jim Battin: I just want to make sure I understand what your expectations are. So what you want from our caucus is a full budget document, is that correct?

Perata: Yeah. A budget.

Battin: And every day we are preparing that, you want to meet.

Perata: Yeah. You know what I don’t’ want to do is to be caught in that position where people are getting confused whey we don’t have a budget. Now every day we meet, we can say, “you’re working on it.”

Battin: And you also want to have the trailer bills as well?

Perata: Yeah. A budget.

Battin: You would actually allow us to bring it up for a vote on the floor?

Perata: You betcha.

Battin: So my expectation is that it will fail…And then what?

Perata: Let’s not prejudge. You may come up with a piece of work that will knock our socks off. So let’s see what you will do.

It’s a neat trick, and good for political purposes.  I don’t know how it gets us closer to a budget.  Schwarzenegger still wants the sales tax hike, Yacht Party Republicans are still dead-set against it, and Democrats are trying to compromise and on the edge of cracking.  But they seem to believe, this time around, that the budget can be blamed on Republicans in November and there’s a benefit in campaigning on the issue (I think that’s why Perata wants a real plan).

So nobody knows how this ends.  And the victims are the public employees, the long-term care workers, the schools, the health clinics, the everyday Californians that did nothing wrong and don’t deserve this anxiety.  

McCain’s Latino Outreach

In an unanticipated flip flop (this one in particular, not the flipping in general) this past weekend while in San Diego addressing the National Council of La Raza, John McCain signaled his unequivocal support for the DREAM Act:

Q: “Will you support humanity all across the world and support The DREAM Act that we are trying to pass?”

A: “Yes. Yes, but I will also enforce the existing laws. That’s why we must secure the border…”

McCain was a sponsor of the DREAM Act in 2003, 2005 and 2007, but NOW in 2007:

McCain Skipped Vote On DREAM Act But Said He Would Have Voted Against Bill That He Co-Sponsored. “Last week, McCain skipped a Senate vote on immigration legislation called the DREAM Act – Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors. He then said he would have voted against the bill, even though he was a co-sponsor.” [Myrtle Beach Sun-News, 11/2/07 ]

This is remarkable on its face and is a clear attempt to pull Latino voters to McCain and make California competitive, but it doesn’t exactly jive with the spin that was being pushed around yesterday after Obama’s luncheon speech.

The real absurdity of McCain’s strategy, at least with regard to reaching Latino voters in California, was on full display Sunday following Obama’s La Raza speech, and it basically boiled down to telling Latinos that the elected Latinos throughout the state are failures. Hector Barajas, Director of Communications for the California GOP ticked off the list of Democratic boogeymen: Antonio Villaraigosa, Fabian Nunez, Gil Cedillo. Not just three of the most visible Latino politicians in the state, but ones that are noteworthy for championing Latino causes. Heck, Cedillo sponsored the DREAM Act that McCain now supports.

The boiled down version of the McCain line: Latinos have elected Latino officials who champion Latino causes and issues, but those Latinos are specifically what’s wrong with politics and run counter to the actual, McCain version of Latino interests. With all the big talk about how serious this campaign is about California and how the Latino vote is ripe for the taking, if overt insults make up the strategy then it’s no surprise that Obama is blowing out McCain in California.

Nevertheless, there are two possible silver linings here. The obvious one that we’ve been talking about for a long time is that if California can be a time and money suck for the McCain campaign, super. Please come and try. The second seems less likely given the ineptitude of McCain’s Latino outreach, but if this maybe inspires the DNC, CDP and/or the Obama campaign in some combination to increase focus on Latino targeting, messaging and outreach, I certainly wouldn’t mind.

In the meantime, maybe McCain can expand this strategy to all Americans and tell them that the majority that they elected in 2006 doesn’t represent their interests by default. Oh wait…

A Dream Deferred

Brave New Foundation (disclaimer: my employer) just released this new video featuring students who grew up in the U.S., worked their way through high school and earned the merits to attend college, but now face legal and financial barriers to enrolling due solely to their immigration status.  The DREAM Act, which died in Congress in 2006 along with immigration reform as a whole, would have removed the federal provision that prevents states from allowing undocumented students who grew up here in America to qualify for in-state tuition, and would have provided a path to legal status for these future doctors, teachers, scientists and engineers.  The California DREAM Act, vetoed last year by the Governor, would have allowed undocumented students who grew up here in California to be treated like any other student when they applied for financial aid for college.

These bills aimed to rationalize our nation’s hamstrung immigration policies and to help bolster an eroding pool of skilled and educated workers in America.  Their demise spelled a huge missed opportunity for California and for the country.

Big thanks to Senator Cedillo for taking a stand on this critical issue, and for a career of fighting for more humane and sensible immigration policies.  Let’s hope to see the DREAM Act reintroduced in Sacramento and in Washington in the near future.

Learn more at A Dream Deferred.

What Brian Bilbray won’t admit: Cross-border flow helps the San Diego economy

Brian Bilbray really likes to grandstand on immigration. Heck, he was a lobbyist for an anti-immigration group. And last year, along with Bush Dog Heath Shuler, he introduced HR 4088.  A quick take on HR 4088 from NDN:

Unfortunately, H.R. 4088 is not a solution or even a stop-gap measure. If enacted, it would simply make a bad situation worse, providing a windfall to bad employers by making workers more exploitable, pushing them deeper underground and off the tax rolls. It would harm U.S. workers displaced by the flawed employment verification program, and waste even more U.S. tax dollars trying to detain and deport peaceful workers instead of focusing in on those who mean us harm.

Well, I bring this up because today the San Diego U-T has an article about how the decrease in cross-border traffic has hurt the economy of the border region:

The number of people crossing into the United States at San Ysidro has fallen 21.4 percent from a peak three years ago, a precipitous drop that economists and others attribute to frustrating border waits, dwindling tourism and a struggling U.S. economy.


“Between the border wait time and security issues, it is killing us,” said Jason Wells, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in San Ysidro, where an estimated 85 percent of the retail customer base consists of shoppers who cross from Mexico. “We’ve lost the casual crosser, the casual shopper, the casual tourist. The only crossers we have left are forced crossers, people that because of family or work have to cross.”

But for so-called leaders like Bilbray, the politics is more important that the policy. And what does he care anyway, right? His donors aren’t border crossers, and likely don’t depend on the traffic for their livelihood. But the fact of the matter is that the increased scrutiny to cross the border hurts California’s economy.  Wait times easily exceed two hours, and in the end, crossing the border to save a bit of money or for higher quality products just isn’t worth it.

Somehow we need to get past Bilbray-esque demagoguery, and try to find solutions that are based on sound policy, rather than fear-based politics.

By the by, one such solution, a new form of the Dream Act, was recently reintroduced to the state Senate by Gil Cedillo.