Thursday, December 6, 2012

MSNBC Online Interviews prominent Immigration critic -- unfairly

Founded by Roy Beck in 1998, Numbers USA is a grassroots organization and an influential lobbyist group that concerns itself with immigration reform and the threat of mass amnesty. As the unemployment rate among the citizenry continues to grow, over one million permanent work authorizations are handed out each year to immigrants -- further saturating an already stagnant labor market.

Beck sat down for an interview with's Jane C. Timm recently, only to find himself labeled as the "Grover Norquist of the immigration debate." With no intention of portraying him in a positive light, Timm argued that the 1.3 million grassroots members of Numbers USA will not allow Republican congressmen to moderate their stance on immigration reform.  And rather than consider it an anti-amnesty organization, in predictable fashion she presented the group as "racist" in motivation.

Of course, Timm didn't outright make these claims herself, instead turning to left-wing activists like the Southern Poverty Law Center's Heidi Beirich and Aaron Flanagan from the Center for New Community to do so without substantiation or rebuttal. Timm took issue with Numbers USA's ongoing effort to reduce the massive amount of immigrants who receive permanent work authorizations every year, but gives Beirich and Flanagan credit for the opinion:
Those professions of moderation are what's most striking about Beck and Numbers USA -- and what Beirich and Flanagan say makes them so dangerous.

Following publication on Monday morning, Beck countered with a column of his own in order to set the record straight. He thanked MSNBC for the massive amount of credit it gave his orgnanization for being solely responsible for standing in the way of mass amnesty legislation, but went on to criticize the network for its slanted coverage of immigration reform issues and of Numbers USA in particular, concluding:
The hard-line ideologues are those who insist on continuing to give out another one million permanent work authorizations each year -- and ask for even more -- to compete directly with our own unemployed. Numbers USA is always committed to reminding Americans that they have a choice for a different, more humane, immigration policy.

Prior to his conclusion, Beck noted that nearly every reporter who does a story on his organization is seemingly under the impression that they pluck their goals out of thin air. In fact, he stated that they come from recommendations of the bipartisan Barbara Jordan Commission that found "the renewal of mass immigration over the last 30 years has created great economic injustices against the most vulnerable members of our society." Something Timm and her editors at MSNBC neglected to mention.


CA. Attorney General: Immigration program is optional

California’s top law enforcer said local police departments can choose whether to comply with a federal program that targets unauthorized immigrants — even if participation in that program is mandatory.

Attorney General Kamala Harris said she released the guidance Tuesday, in the form of a bulletin to law enforcement, because she has received numerous inquiries from those agencies seeking clarification on the Secure Communities program.

Under Secure Communities, police officers and sheriff’s deputies run detainees’ fingerprints through federal databases. If a suspect is deemed to be an unauthorized immigrant, that person is put on a deportation hold and transferred to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The program has been the focus of much controversy, including lawsuits. Supporters said it helps improve public safety by targeting unauthorized immigrants who have broken the law, while opponents said it unfairly captures a large amount of people whose only violation is being in the United States without permission.

More than 82,000 people in California have been deported through Secure Communities since the program began in 2008. On Tuesday, Harris said almost one-third of such deportees did not have a criminal conviction.

“The federal government cannot mandate that these chiefs and sheriffs hold onto immigrants because of the request for detainer,” Harris said during a news conference. “The police chiefs and sheriffs have it within their discretion — within their authority — to honor that request or not.”

Last year, the Obama administration said it would revamp Secure Communities to sharpen the program’s aim against criminals. On Tuesday, ICE officials said they have been working to improve the program.

“ICE has been dedicated to implementing smart, effective reforms to the immigration system that allow it to focus its resources on criminals, recent border-crossers and repeat immigration-law violators,” the agency said in a statement. “The federal government alone sets these priorities.”

Harris views Secure Communities as counter-productive because unauthorized immigrants may fear interacting with police, even if they have been the victims of a crime.

“I have prosecuted crimes against undocumented immigrants where the predator tried to convince the victim that if they reported the crime, they would be treated as the criminal,” Harris said. “The most important point is public safety for everyone, regardless of their status — documented or undocumented.”

In her bulletin, Harris advised: “After analyzing the public-safety risks presented by the individual, including a review of his or her arrest offense and criminal history as well as the resources of the agency, an agency may decide for itself whether to devote resources to holding suspected unlawfully present immigrants on behalf of the federal government.”

Her recommendation aligns with the reasons that Gov. Jerry Brown gave in September when he vetoed the Trust Act, which would have banned law-enforcement agencies from participating in Secure Communities unless the unauthorized immigrant committed a violent felony or had such a record.

In a letter explaining his veto, Brown said he believes federal immigration agents should not “coerce” local agencies into detaining people, but that the bill was too narrow. For example, he said, the legislation exempted crimes such as child abuse, drug trafficking and weapons sales.

Brown also said he would work with lawmakers in Sacramento to rewrite the bill.

Secure Communities, which began as a pilot project with voluntary participation, is now compulsory. Every county in California is enrolled.

Previously, three counties in the state — San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco — unsuccessfully petitioned Brown, then the attorney general, to opt out of the program.

In recent months, the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief has said he wants his officers to make their own decisions about unauthorized immigrants they arrest, especially those accused of petty crimes.

In San Diego County, Sheriff Bill Gore opposed the Trust Act. He wrote a letter to Brown asking that he veto the legislation. Gore said cooperation between local and federal agencies is key to safety in the cross-border region.

“The working relationship we have with the U.S. Border Patrol and customs, both on the streets and in our jails, is vital to our efforts,” Gore wrote.

In contrast, the Chula Vista and National City police departments supported the Trust Act.

Joe Kasper, spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, expressed disappointment in Harris’ bulletin.

“The state could take a real leadership role here and show residents and the rest of the nation a real commitment to enforcing the law. But it comes as no surprise to see California setting the wrong example,” Kasper said. “The message even creates a certain level of ambiguity and uncertainty for law enforcement.”

Christian Ramirez, human rights director for Alliance San Diego, called Harris’ announcement “welcomed news” and said Secure Communities is “ineffective” and has contributed to the “erosion of trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.”

“Attorney General Harris’ statement signals to immigrant communities that a one-size-fits-all approach to enforcing immigration law does not work, especially when it comes at the expense of community and police relations,” said Ramirez, whose organization advocates for civil rights. “California is getting back on track to ensure that migrant communities are treated with dignity and respect.”


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