Thursday, December 18, 2008

Breaking News: Rep. Hilda Solis to Head Department of Labor

160pxhilda_solis Today, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) is President-elect Obama’s pick to head the Department of Labor.

The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington.

"Rep. Hilda Solis has been a key leader for immigrants, workers, and comprehensive immigration reform throughout her career and we eagerly welcome the good news that she has been selected as the next Secretary of Labor. Joining Gov. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Gov. Bill Richardson at the Department of Commerce, and other key nominees, Rep. Solis is joining a strong team that can work with Congress on behalf of the President to deliver real reform for the American people on the issue of immigration. In this time of economic insecurity, it is more important than ever that we have stability in our labor market and the conditions by which workers – immigrant and native-born alike – can stand together to win better wages and better jobs. Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform is a key ingredient in defending and extending workers’ rights. In nominating a leader as skilled and dedicated as Rep. Solis to this important office, President-elect Obama is sending the clear signal that American workers, regardless of their country of birth, are a valued part of America’s future and a top priority for his Administration."


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I hope she can spell better than Professor Aldana!

Posted by: Pedro Gaspar-Gomez | Dec 18, 2008 4:33:16 PM

Rep. Solis is an inspired choice for this position. In reference to her perspective on CIR, I would also mention that the is a Vice-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is all about inclusiveness. She also sits on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which shows the level of her engagement on the issue of CIR. Importantly, she also sits on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which shows the breadth of her commitment to the legislative process, the interests of all workers, and of a humane and just CIR.

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Dec 18, 2008 4:33:18 PM

This story is about a close freind who is one of those people....

The case of a 27 year old man named Marcellus Mohan Ganesh, Guyanese by birth, is coming to a rapid close. He was recently arrested and is awaiting deportation to Guyana, a place he has not been in over 20 years, in as little as two weeks. On this occasion, the United States government is deporting someone who is as American as apple pie.

Marcellus and his family moved to America legally, and have been applying for permanent citizenship for 12 years, only to have been postponed by bureaucracy and declined in a post-9/11 world. His final appeal was denied in 2007, despite having made his home here for nearly 20 years.

Deporting Marcellus to Guyana will not be returning him to his home country. Having moved here in 1990, Marcellus attended New York City public schools, Brooklyn Technical High School, and completed a baccalaureate program at Stony Brook University, a SUNY school. American culture is not his adopted culture, it is his only culture.

Marcellus speaks no language other than American English. He pays taxes, and has for all his working years. Neither he nor his family have ever asked for, or received any financial aid or government funds, despite having three children complete college. Marcellus works as an entry-level executive for an advertising/marketing firm in Manhattan. He has never been in trouble with the law. He likes the Mets. He is completely Americanized. Attempting to assimilate into Guyanese culture would be as difficult for him as it would be for anyone born here in America.

Marcellus Ganesh is a man who has done everything our country asks of an ideal citizen and then some, and the ICE is still deporting him. Please, on behalf of honest Americans everywhere, look deeper into this case quickly, before he's removed from the country he loves. The link below will take you to a still-growing online petition to review Marcellus' case.

Thank You,

Ryan Sammy

Posted by: Ryan Sammy | Dec 18, 2008 4:33:53 PM

A long-time supporter of illegal immigration and amnesty, Solis is also a leader in the movement to silence Americans who speaks out against mass illegal immigration, specifically Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly. She opposes freedom of speech.

At a 1996 meeting of the Southwest Voter Registration Project, Solis said, "We are all Americans, whether you are legalized or not." I think any honest law professor would have a problem with that.

She was the sponsor of a California bill to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Californians overwhelmingly oppose this, but she doesn't care.

The Secretary of Labor enforces laws dealing with the work site, including laws dealing with unions. The Labor Department has been on the forefront of pushing amnesty. There is no doubt that Solis will work to subvert the enforcement of immigration laws and will give more power to the corruption-ridden SEIU and other pro-alien unions.

As for the quote above, let's not forget that Hillary Clinton is constitutionally-barred from being Secretary of State.

Posted by: JayDee | Dec 20, 2008 5:36:18 AM

' is more important than ever that we have stability in our labor market and the conditions by which workers – immigrant and native-born alike – can stand together to win better wages and better jobs.'

Amnesty is seen by many as an act of charity (more about what it does for someone else than for me). Not counting the ideologically committed rah-rahs, many of its supporters see it as a necessary but bitter medicine. It goes down easier when the economy's good and people feel secure in their jobs. That's not the case right now and any feel good sugar coating isn't providing as much sweetness. A lot of normally sympathetic people will write their members of congress and ask them to sit this round out and perhaps take it up later.

I think voters are feeling less charitable than usual. Americans don't want to 'stand together' with anyone they think might take their precarious job. When jobs are scarce, less people will think it's in their interests to add to the supply of labor.


'Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform...'

I don't know where to begin. You don't restore rule of law by eliminating enforcement of law after it's broken--that erodes rule of law and invites more law breaking.

'[CIR] is a key ingredient in defending and extending workers’ rights.'

Are you kidding me? Last I checked, guest worker is part of CIR and such programs aren't exactly known for defending and extending worker rights. Hardcore progressives who care about worker rights oppose guest worker programs. It's laughable when people say we're gonna have a new dedication to enforcing labor law. That'll be a first. I just read some article by Bacon that said in the whole country there's 700-something people to enforce all those workplaces.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 20, 2008 5:36:18 AM

"'Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform...'

I don't know where to begin. You don't restore rule of law by eliminating enforcement of law after it's broken--that erodes rule of law and invites more law breaking."

Most especially, you don't restore the rule of law by leaving it broken. You fix it. If you fix it, you fix it right. The only way to comprehensively fix it right is through comprehensive immigration reform. If you are able to get a full and complete CIR, including the enforcement provisions, then that is how you can restore the rule of law, and greatly reduce or eliminate the erosion of our immigration laws, and continued illegal entry. That, my dear friend Jack, is where you begin, and if done correctly and completely, where you end.

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Dec 20, 2008 3:37:45 PM

My dear friend, Robert, you cannot restore the rule of law by allowing people to avoid the repercussions of breaking the law.

We don't need any new enforcement provisions -- we need to enforce existing provisions. Had we been doing so since the last major amnesty in 1986, we wouldn't have 12 people living in this country illegally.

But you and the rest of the manufacturing industry have been opposing enforcement at every turn. Therein lies the problem.

You sir, along with MALDEF-LaRaza-LULAC et al., are responsible for eroding our immigration laws.

But correct me if I'm wrong: Is your business making use of E-Verify, Mr. Gittelson?

Posted by: J.D. | Dec 20, 2008 4:46:22 PM

J.D., while I still don't respect the fact that you choose to remain anonymous, while throwing stones at those of us that stand up, you have raised some points that call for illumination, so I will address your posting for the greater good. You might find it shocking to find out that there is an element of truth in some of your thoughts, but I will flesh them out for you so that you and other restrictionists can understand what you really are saying, and we can establish the context of what you are saying, because it is important, and goes to the underlying truth that has so far eluded opponents of CIR. As follows:

"you cannot restore the rule of law by allowing people to avoid the repercussions of breaking the law." Repercussions are important, but the repercussions should not be so severe as to have us cut off our noses to spite our faces. The concepts that the CIR bills to date have proposed seem reasonable and responsible, (and by the way, the concept of "reasonable and responsible" is far better than the alternative concepts that are unreasonable and irresponsible). Specifically, the concepts are: Paying a "significant" fine, (several thousand dollars). Learning English, (important for the education of these undocumented, and by extension their children AND our children, since schools can only teach at the speed of it's slowest students, as well as the productivity of our workforce). Filing and paying all back taxes, (not as big a deal as it sounds, because most do pay taxes, but this is a fairness issue, as well as a fiscal issue). Going to the "end of the line" for earning citizenship, (this is a complicated issue that is severely misunderstood, because for most of these undocumented, they didn't have a line to get into in the first place, and by withholding for years their citizenship, they will have to live their lives under a much tighter restriction than citizens, since even minor legal offenses could lead to their deportations). Additionally, through biometric background checks, we will finally find out exactly who is here, and how many are hear, (who is here implies that we can weed out the criminals and gang members, and how many are here implies that we can finally apportion the tax revenue accurately, thereby reducing the burdens placed on emergency rooms and school districts in towns that now are underfunded, such as Hazelton, PA.).

"We don't need any new enforcement provisions -- we need to enforce existing provisions. Had we been doing so since the last major amnesty in 1986, we wouldn't have 12 people living in this country illegally." This is an oversimplification, but not entirely incorrect. In 1986, the concept of biometric identification was nonexistent, but it is now available. That will be an important tool for enforcement going forward. This argument also ignores so many of the underlying financial reasons as to why we allowed these people to come and stay in the first place, (not enough room here to explain this in detail - but more to follow below). As to your argument that we wouldn't have 12 people living in this country illegally, I suspect that we would have 12 people living in this country illegally. However, since I believe that you meant to say 12 million people, I agree with you. We would have several million to be sure, but the number would have been lower had we enforced the 1986 laws. This leads me to your next point:

"But you and the rest of the manufacturing industry have been opposing enforcement at every turn. Therein lies the problem." I think that you give me too much credit, but you are not entirely incorrect. The question is why the "industry" part of our "Industrial Nation" felt the need for more labor, and inexpensive labor? Let me put this into perspective for you, because it is important.

First of all, let's look at today's headlines. Everyone is blaming the Big Three automakers for paying $77 and hour to line workers, compared to $48 per hour that Toyota pays it's workers, and also compared to $28 an hour that the average line worker makes in this country. Why not do the math? $77 an hour is $160,160.00 per year. Even $48 per hour is $99,840.00 per year. Quite a wake up call, isn't it? If our average worker makes $28 per hour, it's $58,240.00 per year. The average line worker in, say Pakistan, makes roughly $1,000 a year. In China it's a few times that amount.

The WalMart contingent, and their lobbyists, have managed to eliminate the quota system that used to protect our nation's industrial base, and have lobbied successfully to reduce the import duty that we charge on import goods by over 40% this decade alone.

This little snapshot should begin to give restrictionists an elementary understanding of how market forces impact migration patterns. Despite the 12,000,000 undocumented economic refugees that have come, we still have an out of control trade deficit, and we continue to bleed jobs, (our economic life force), to countries that can make things cheaper than we can.

There used to be a stigma against foreign goods. Made in Japan used to mean inferior, and Made is the USA meant high quality. That stigma no longer exists. So how do we compete at all? Better factories, (hard to keep that up when you keep losing demand), quicker turn, (can't do that without a lot of skilled labor), and competitive price, (impossible to compete against "free-traders" that eliminate quota and reduce duty, but if you have to try to stay in business, you need to keep labor costs as low as possible). Please note that 2 of these three concepts, (and possibly all three if you think this through), require these "12 million" low wage, high productivity undocumented workers. It is what it is.

"You sir, along with MALDEF-LaRaza-LULAC et al., are responsible for eroding our immigration laws." Too simplistic. Our manufacturing base does not exist in a separate bubble from the rest of our nation. It is the trade policies, the WalMart, et. al. and their lobbyists, NAFTA, CAFTA, elimination of the quota system, reduction of import duty, our shrinking annual average wage requiring cheaper goods for Americans keep up our standard of living, and countless other policy blunders that have eroded our immigration laws.

We arrive at this crossroads due to a comprehensive list of reasons, and therefore require a comprehensive list of remedies to fix the problems. Simple slogans like "We don't need any new enforcement provisions -- we need to enforce existing provisions" are entirely insufficient on a logarithmic scale. If we are to be serious about fixing our broken immigration system, then we have to address the problem in it's entirety. It will not be simple.

And, for the record, I changed my business model in 2002, and no longer own a manufacturing facility. This was before e-verify. However, in the primary domestic manufacturing facility that I use for my domestic production, there were three undocumented workers. My wife helped two and they are now documented, and the third no longer works at this factory. Sorry to disappoint you. However, I will say for the record that the concept of jamming e-verify down the throats of businesses prior to the passage of CIR is an extremely ill-conceived policy that puts the cart before the horse. Look around you and wake up. Our economy is on fire. Our ship is sinking. We need all hands on deck to fix our problems, and to those of you that want to ask the deck hands to show you their ID's before you hand then a oar and allow them to row, I can only say, "thank goodness enough people understand this issue well enough to get CIR passed next year, It couldn't come soon enough!"

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Dec 21, 2008 9:07:52 AM

Obviously, any time you don't enforce what the law says, it can be argued that the law did not rule. The general argument is every time you do this, you send a message and the more you ignore the rule, the less respect the rule will get. Let me make a distinction through two examples.

Example 1:
The legislature passed a law prohibiting use and possession of a drug. They decide to legalize the drug and do so with a new law. Through pardon if you let every past offender out of prison, some might say you're letting them off the hook for violating a law. That's true, but that was the OLD law. The act would not have been in violation of the new law. We changed our minds about an act so we changed the rules. The formerly bad act is now a legal act. As opposed to...

Example 2:
I don't want to get into the whether it's an amnesty debate but let's assume for argument that CIR contains something resembling a pardon even if not technically a general one. As with the drug law, we're letting violators of law off the hook. If going forward we abolished the concept of illegal alien, it would be analogous to the drug decriminalization example. But the difference between the drug example and CIR is that, going forward, it will still be illegal to be present in the country without authorization. We didn't change our minds about that; we didn't change the rule--we just hit 'reset', an arbitrary act. Supposedly the same law that now cannot not be enforced against past violators will be enforced rigorously against future violators.

Besides striking many as illogical and unfair, the law against illegal presence is weakened and a message is sent that we're not serious about it or else we'd never granted amnesty. The law in this area did not rule and it will be concluded by some that now that it's happened twice, it will happen again. Each time it does, the theory is that law will be taken less seriously, respected less, broken more--all in all, damage to accountability and 'rule of law'. Not just by the aliens but illegal employers. The government talked tough in '86 and after a while weren't taken seriously. It is thought by many that it will be empty talk again and even if there is action, it won't last. Even if you're sincere about wanting stronger enforcement after an amnesty, the damage to the government's credibility due to that amnesty will arguably make enforcement more difficult. Also, the anti-immigration law enforcement movement will be supercharged by an amnesty and demand even more, i.e., less as far as enforcement goes. There will be even more calls that it will be politically unwise to take a pro-enforcement stance and these groups would likely gain influence with lawmakers and the Executive Branch.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 22, 2008 5:07:35 AM

Jack does an outstanding job here of presenting the dark side of this debate, the part that will mix with the light side, to have us emerge with our final murky shade of grey. Certainly there can be no absolute black or white, if a solution is to be found. His "reset button" analogy is particularly appropriate.

The argument that the probable future perception that we will be less and less certain as to our diligence in prosecuting illegal presence cases has merit.

We must be on guard against the possibility that, as Jack suggests, the anti-enforcement contingent gains too much clout in the wake of a future CIR, as that would certainly be counter productive.

However, while it will, in fact, be perceived by some or many as being "illogical or unfair," those are subjective perceptions. Without going into it in detail, one can make a very convincing argument that CIR is more logical and fair than the alternative. If a problem persists, (and certainly 12,000,000+ undocumented permanant residents is problematic for a myriad of reasons), logic dictates that action must be taken, and fairness dictates that the prescribed remedy should resemble the CIR bills to date, inclusive of the enforcement, as well as the legalization provisions.

Jacks example #2 fails to take into consideration the role of our federal government in colluding in at least some measure in the recruitment/non-enforcement involved in assembling the multi-million member undocumented labor pool that our nation has willingly employed over the past two decades. Certainly the role of government in this national conspiracy merits some weight. I think that CIR respresents a "do-better", much more than a "do-over", ("reset" analogy not withstanding).

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Dec 22, 2008 11:40:19 AM

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Posted by: Sarah | Mar 23, 2009 3:09:39 AM

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