Thursday, November 15, 2007

HEATH SHULER WANTS THE... CREDIT FOR RAHM EMANUEL'S IMMIGRANT SCAPEGOATING STRATEGY

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I had a very pleasant and informative call today from Andrew Whalen, Heath Shuler's Communications Director. He wanted to tell me Congressman Shuler's perspective on HR 4088 and I think he really wanted to tell me that it is Shuler's bill, not Emanuel's. He muttered something about someone having referred to Rep. Shuler as a tool and later remarked that around  the office they have a great deal of "pride of authorship" for HR 4088. Andrew said it was his favorite bill and he seemed eager to let me know that Arkansas' Mark Pryor, a Democrat who-- like Shuler-- tends to vote quite a lot with the Republicans, introduced the same bill in the Senate today. I thanked Andrew for his call and asked him to tell Congressman Shuler I would like to interview him. He said he'd get back to me. Meanwhile, here's some of the language in the bill they're so proud of:
(1)(A) Whoever, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an individual is an alien who lacks lawful authority to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowingly--

(i) brings that individual to the United States in any manner whatsoever regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien;

(ii) recruits, encourages, or induces that individual to come to, enter, or reside in the United States;

(iii) transports or moves that individual in the United States, in furtherance of their unlawful presence; or

(iv) harbors, conceals, or shields from detection the individual in any place in the United States, including any building or any means of transportation, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (C).


(B) Whoever, knowing that an individual is an alien, brings that individual to the United States in any manner whatsoever at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (C).

(C) A violator of this paragraph shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs--

(i) unless the offense is otherwise described in another clause of this subparagraph, be fined under title 18, United States Code or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both;

(ii) if the offense involved the transit of the defendant's spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or niece or nephew, and the offense is not described in any of clauses (iii) through (vii), be fined under title 18, United States Code or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both;

(C) It is a defense to a violation of, or an attempt or conspiracy to violate, clause (iii) or (iv) of subsection (a)(1)(A) for a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, or the agents or officer of such denomination or organization, to encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination or organization in the United States as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year.

The emphasis is mine, not Shuler's. He and Tancredo, one of his co-sponsors, emphasize other aspects of the bill. Digby wrote the definitive piece on this today.
This savvy advice to the savvy Democrats has led them to jettison any further attempt to get a comprehensive immigration bill and instead rush to introduce an entirely punitive "enforcement" boondoggle called the SAVE Act that throws even more police power at Homeland Security, tons of money at police agencies, both militarizes AND privatizes the border (a neat trick), empowers the IRS to share information with other agencies and creates a new federal database that contains information about every American worker.

...The savvy Dems have decided to do this because they believe that by helping Tom Tancredo "move the ball." They can "take the issue off the table." It is the same tried and true Greenberg and Carville tactic that was argued in 2002 when they said to get the Iraq war resolution off the table so the Dems could discuss the issue their focus groups told them people really cared about-- prescription drug coverage. This tactic has really been a big success for Democrats: five long years later, we are arguing that we need to get immigration off the table so we can get down to the issue people really care about--Iraq.


Our friends in IL-05, Emanuel's district, held a little press conference in front of Emanuel's district office today. The photo on the left shows Christina from Blue America addressing the crowd. I love the way our newspaper ads look blown up. The coverage at WBEZ, Chicago public radio is here. No comments from Emanuel. Maybe he was busy conferring with Tancredo about how to proceed. There was live coverage on CNN en Espanol and  Radio La Ley and reporters from Telemundo,  and Hoy also covered the event. There's a new Blue America ActBlue page up, The Accountability Moment and if you'd like to see more action holding Emanuel's feet to the fire, please consider making a contribution.

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