Defeat of DeMint provision on border wall fuels hope that Vitter Amendment will crumble

LatinaLista — There was a time when those of us, who are naive when it comes to the ways of Washington, believed that debate over undocumented immigrants would be limited to the Immigration Reform bill.

How wrong we were.

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In almost every major policy bill up for review and passage, congressmen have forcefully inserted undocumented immigrants into the debate.

From healthcare and the U.S. Census to border security, a.k.a. domestic terrorism, the specific subject of undocumented immigrants rises to the surface as never before.

Whoever cared what your citizenship status was when you filled out the US Census? The assumption was people living in this country chose to be here and had to be counted.

Whoever cared about the citizenship status of someone suffering from so much physical pain that only a doctor could relieve it? Any decent and rationale person feels some level of empathy to want to help that person that the last thing on anyone’s mind is if the sufferer is in the country legally or not.

Whoever believed that a wall built along the southern border, or even the northern border for that matter, would make one bit of difference in stemming people’s desire to come to this country to work?

Since it’s been documented that most immigrants who are here illegally originally came over with a valid visa and overstayed their allotted time, the wall was always a curious imaginary fix to a real problem.

Each of these cases underscores how the issue of undocumented immigrants has been made central players in debates that most Americans don’t even care or think twice about — and finally Washington congressmen are getting the message.

 

Today, the Senate passed H.R. 2892, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010. The bill made it out of Congress without some congressmen getting their way of including a provision mandating that additions be made to the border wall.

A border wall provision offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), included in the Senate bill, was stripped during conference with the House of Representatives.

According to Sierra Club Washington Representative Michael Degnan:

“Today’s action marks the first time that a border wall proposal has been defeated in Congress. We congratulate the Congress for rejecting an irresponsible proposal to build more than 300 more miles of unnecessary border walls.

“Our government has already poured billions of dollars into building walls and barriers across 600 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. Although the effectiveness of these walls has never been measured, the negative impacts to communities and wildlife is clear. Border walls have separated families, caused damaging floods and erosion, and fractured habitat and migration corridors vital to wildlife that has been pushed to the brink of extinction.

“We hope that this historic action signals a readiness to permanently move our country’s border policy beyond construction of costly and destructive border walls.”

The next issue where people hope Congress sees the reality of the situation rather than trying to scapegoat undocumented immigrants is with the U.S. Census.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is proposing an amendment that would force the Census to include a question on immigration status. The Census then would exclude undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents from the count.

Known as the Vitter Amendment, the idea that it’s a bad thing to know just how many people live within a country’s borders is such an asinine way of thinking that it leads to serious thought of an intelligence test being required of all elected officials before they assume office in Washington.

The argument is that undocumented and permanent residents inflate the numbers in certain states which allows them to have more representation in government. Yet, those numbers also let the federal government know that there is a reason why roads are traveled more often, why there are so many kids in public schools, why there are more businesses opening up, why…the list goes on. Not knowing is not going to make those people go away. If anything, it makes it worse for the country.

To not know how many people live in a given state is like a commander not knowing how many soldiers are in his platoon. Not knowing the exact number of people means less security and less information on how to plan for disaster relief or how much money to award to states to take care of their residents.

The Vitter Amendment is a glaring example of how politicians want to disrupt Washington as best they can. They know that all it takes is shouting “illegal immigrants” in a crowded Congressional hall.

It’s time our government recaptured the sensibility that this country used to stand for and start looking at issues from the bigger picture of what is best for this country — and not from the viewpoint of a select group who hold on to the idea that this is still the 20th Century.

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7 Comments

  1. George said:

    “The assumption was people living in this country chose to be here and had to be counted.”
    The census had only one purpose when this country was founded, the counting of persons to determine the apportionment of congressmen to each state, to the enfranchisement of citizen’s interests. It was never envisioned that foreigners would contribute to the population to the extent that they have today. Deleting illegal aliens and legal residents from the census would return the census to its original purpose, the apportionment of congressional representation. Only those who would dilute the voice of the citizen and give voice to foreigners would argue otherwise.
    Who would have ever believed that there would be so many people who would disrespect our sovereign borders and our immigration laws? The assumption has always been that people of other nations would respect us enough to come here with our permission. Just as we have depended upon a law abiding society for our legal system to be effective, we depended upon foreigners to respect our immigration laws for our immigration system to work. It was only when countries south of our border began disregarding our laws and overwhelming our Border Patrol, that our system failed. Claiming that it was because our laws were outdated that it broke down disregards the root cause of illegal immigration, the illegal immigrants themselves and their home countries.

  2. Kathryn said:

    “Whoever believed that a wall built along the southern border, or even the northern border for that matter, would make one bit of difference in stemming people’s desire to come to this country to work?”
    The people of most nations expect that their government would promote their general welfare such that they would not have to leave their homeland for work. Being forced to abandon a country on a grand scale for work is disruptive to the social fabric of the nation and is not normal.
    Why should any person have the right to disregard the legal prerogatives of the citizens of other countries by entering illegally? There is no internatioally recognized right to enter another peoples country without requesting permission, so to argue otherwise is without merit. You don’t have a valid argument, Marisa.
    The wall is considered necessary because other nation’s governments have failed to do their duty, and the U.S. and Latinos are trying to make their fellow citizens pay the price of accepting these interlopers, subsidizing their poor with health care and educating their children and eventually making them eligible for welfare. Advocates enable illegal immigration by demanding that other citizens of this nation pay the economic penalties that by rights should accrue to the wealthy and middle class Mexicans, Guatamalans, Hondurans, Brazilians, et al. Our citizens will not forcibly accept these charity cases, and insistance on doing so is destroying any good will that the rest of this country has towards Latinos. There will be a price.

  3. cookie said:

    One should ask the Border Patrol how much it helps to ease their jobs. They would tell you that it helps them immensely. Walls/fences are a deterrant and do cut the numbers of illegal entry down. It is all propaganda BS to claim that it is harmful to wildlife. There isn’t one solid wall all along the border. Wildlife can still cross over.
    If part of the family lives in the U.S. and part of the family lives in Mexico they are already separated by a border so what difference does having a wall make? There are still legal ports of entry on the border.
    It is untrue that most in our country illegally were legal with visas at one time but they let them expire. The stats say that they only make up 40% of those in our country illegally. The remaining 60% never had any papers to come here at all.
    Vitter is right. Those in our country illegally should not be counted on the census. It does give unfair representation in congress to those districts who have a high percentage of them. If our tax allocations only went to the citizens of this country rather than including non-citizens it would be that much more for our own citizens overall and actually less taxes for the American people to pay.
    I can’t even fathom how any American citizen could put foreigners especially those in our country illegally above their own citizen’s best itererests.

  4. maryelizabeth said:

    Our legal Immigration system has been broken for around 25 years now with unreasonable laws and quotas for people to enter our country the right way. The solution to the problems we face on Immigration is to increase our quotas and allow a reasonable amount into our country and allow them to have a path to citizenship to avoid an overstay on their visas if they have planted their roots here. To put up walls or fences causes deaths and destruction and does not stop people form getting in our country. It also makes us look like mean spirited unpeaceful neighbors to the rest of the world. All people should be able to come forth in our US census without fear. The GOP fears that the electorial vote count will be re-evaluated and adjusted based on the numbers of people that are really here in our country. They are terrified of what a legalized future minority vote could do to the strategys they have to continue keeping their 1% rich cronism on top of the world while the working class continue to struggle in the US. Also they encourage “hate” against minoritys as a means to get votes through manipulating deep seated feelings towards the shade of ones skin by using the “undocumented” as a vehicle to promote their rhetoric on the political Immigration wedge issue. The GOP needs to make some friends. They have aggrevated and scared away the small group of minoritys that use to stick with them yet they continue to go in the same direction. I think the GOP just doesn’t know how to re-group themselves. I think the NJ governers race is going to prove to them that nationwide their is such a shift in minority numbers and youths that they are going to realize they have to rethink their entire campaign strategys.

  5. cookie said:

    Our immigration laws are not broken they just weren’t enforced properly. Where is your proof that our legal immigration quotas are too low?
    Walls and fences have obviously been needed since 12-20 million were able to sneak into our country that way and they are a deterrant. That is why the pro side keeps complaining about it because it does work. How many of those are criminals or terrorists? Do you even care?
    Oh my God! We look mean spirited to the world for protecting our own borders, LOL! Au contraire, we look stupid to the rest of the world for allowing our country to be invaded by millions. I am sure the terrorists in particular think we are really stupid. Our neighbor has been no friend to us. If they were they would encourage their citizens to stay home.
    Oh there we go again lambasting the Republican party. Why is it always a party issue with your side? These are issues of concern to all Americans. What a lie that Republicans hate minorities or object to skin pigmentation! If that were so there wouldn’t be any of them in the party. Just admit it most Republican Americans object to illegal immigration and want our immigration laws enforced and that is why you demonize them and are PO’d! Tough, you will never get your anti-American way.

  6. Harriet Mancini said:

    “Our legal Immigration system has been broken for around 25 years now with unreasonable laws and quotas for people to enter our country the right way.”
    Unreasonable in what way? Unreasonable to illegal aliens? If our citizens wanted to change the laws they could have done so years ago through the democratic process. Democracy apparently worked, although not in your favor. Latin Americans already have large slice of the quotas, so how are they being unfairly treated by that standard.
    “The solution to the problems we face on Immigration is to increase our quotas and allow a reasonable amount into our country…..”
    We already permit more immigrants than the rest of the world combined, so I suggest that your idea of adding more is unreasonable.
    “…. and allow them to have a path to citizenship to avoid an overstay on their visas if they have planted their roots here.”
    Oh, so you want to give everyone who is issued a visa a path to citizenship? Even those who falsely claim that they’re coming to visit on vacation. Why not just have them apply in their homeland, like everyone else has to do? I really don’t care whether they’ve planted roots here and I suggest that no one else does either.
    “To put up walls or fences causes deaths and destruction and does not stop people form getting in our country.”
    So, we citizens will have absolutely no say in who enters through our southern border. Stupid idea, that no one will bother to entertain. We shouldn’t have to put up walls or have need of a Border Patrol, but some people just don’t want to enter on our terms. Come to think of it, that’s the same reason that I have a front door on my house. If nothing else, a wall gives the message that this is the United States of America, and it is the citizens of this country will determine who enters, not the would be immigrant. If foreigners wish to commit suicide by crossing the border without inspection, that’s their problem.
    “It also makes us look like mean spirited unpeaceful neighbors to the rest of the world.”
    Only corrupt Mexico and corrupt Latin American countries think that we’re unreasonable. Every country in the world controls their borders and deports illegal aliens, including Latin America, so why should they have the audacity to decry our fence? You have no evidence that anyone? You live in a fantasy world if you think that we’re going to give up our right to control our borders.
    “All people should be able to come forth in our US census without fear. The GOP fears that the electorial vote count will be re-evaluated and adjusted based on the numbers of people that are really here in our country.”
    Gee, I resent that places like California get apportioned a larger congressional representation and political power because of illegal aliens. Pardon me if I feel that as a citizens I should not have my vote in congress diluted by foreigners. You have to be deluded to think that most Americans would support you on this.
    “They are terrified of what a legalized future minority vote….”
    So, we citizens are not to resent being elbowed out of our own country by illegal aliens, people who’ve violated our immigration laws. Such arguments will not gain you any support from anyone but the loony. Somehow you think that we’re all going to stand by and let this happen? Try using this as an argument in public debate and I can guarantee that your side will lose.
    “…. could do to the strategys they have to continue keeping their 1% rich cronism on top of the world while the working class continue to struggle in the US.”
    Yes, and now we’re in a near depression, you think that our working class citizens will be happy to cede jobs to illegal aliens? Get real! This bad economy is certain to destroy any chance for any kind of amnesty this year and perhaps years to come. Why should citizens go unemployed while foreigners be permitted to work. Whose country is it, anyway?
    “Also they encourage “hate” against minoritys as a means to get votes through manipulating deep seated feelings towards the shade of ones skin by using the “undocumented” as a vehicle to promote their rhetoric on the political Immigration wedge issue. The GOP needs to make some friends.”
    The Republican Party is making friends, especially when they’re defending jobs for citizens and deporting illegal aliens who hold them.
    “They have aggrevated and scared away the small group of minoritys that use to stick with them yet they continue to go in the same direction. I think the GOP just doesn’t know how to re-group themselves.”
    Have you checked Obama’s approval rating and the increase in popularity of the Republican congress? Republicans are doing better than Democrats, and their status improving daily.
    “I think the NJ governors race is going to prove to them that nationwide their is such a shift in minority numbers and youths that they are going to realize they have to rethink their entire campaign strategy’s.”
    Check the poll numbers for the incumbent in NJ. He’s losing. Check the poll numbers for Harry Reid. He polls lower than two other competitors. The Democrats have overreached, and are looking loonier and more radical every day. If health insurance reform passes against the will of the people, 2010 will be a blood bath for Democrat election chances. With Republicans back in power, CIR will be dead.

  7. Alonzo said:

    Which part if Dan Stein’s column do you disagree with, Marisa? Should non-citizens become the beneficiaries of federal funds? Should areas with large concentrations of non-citizens receive more than their fair share of congressional apportionment?
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20091031/OPINION01/910310313/-1/LIFE04
    Guest column on census: Noncitizens shouldn’t cost Iowa seats in Congress
    In less than six months the decennial census will determine the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years. According to projections, Iowa, which now commands five seats in the House, will lose one of those seats and an electoral vote in presidential elections.
    The apportionment of seats in the House is intended to provide equal representation to citizens across the country. But because the census counts all residents, including illegal aliens, representation of U.S. citizens in Congress is anything but equal, and it has become increasingly unequal as the illegal alien population has exploded. Even before Iowa loses a seat, Iowans are already underrepresented compared to citizens in parts of the country with large noncitizen populations.
    In 2008, the average Iowa congressional district contained 434,088 registered voters. By comparison, the Los Angeles district represented by Xavier Becerra had only 192,341 registered voters because of its large noncitizen population, many of whom are illegal aliens. Thus the vote of the typical Iowan was worth only 44.3 percent as much as the vote of someone living in California’s 31st Congressional District.
    The disparity between the value of a vote in Iowa versus one in Los Angeles, caused by the presence of large numbers of noncitizens and illegal aliens, is not only unfair but is seemingly unconstitutional. In a 1964 decision, Reynolds v. Sims, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the principle of “one man, one vote” required that legislative districts should be roughly equal. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “[T]o the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less of a citizen.”
    Two senators, David Vitter (R-La.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah), are mounting a legislative effort that might result in more equal representation for Iowans and many other citizens. Vitter and Bennett have filed an amendment to an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Commerce (which oversees the Census Bureau) requiring the inclusion of a question about citizenship and immigration status on all 2010 census forms.
    Ascertaining an accurate count of noncitizens living in our country, and where they reside, would be intrinsically valuable. It would also provide a basis, if Congress chooses, to apportion representation based on roughly equal numbers of eligible voters in each of the 435 congressional districts. In addition to Iowa, eight other states stand to come out on the losing end of reapportionment of House seats if the census does not differentiate between citizens and noncitizens.
    Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attempted to block a vote on the Vitter-Bennett amendment. When that failed, he stopped consideration of the vital spending bill all together.
    Inclusion of the Vitter-Bennett amendment would not guarantee Iowa will not lose a seat in Congress and one electoral vote beginning in 2012. However, it would give the state a chance to fight, legislatively and in the courts if necessary, for its fair share of representation in Congress. Unless the Census Bureau is required to gather data about citizenship and immigration status, it will be virtually impossible to prevent states with large concentrations of noncitizens and illegal aliens from being awarded additional seats in the House and an even greater voice in the outcome of national elections.
    Since the census of 1980, as legal and illegal immigration began to skyrocket, Americans have seen the value of their votes enhanced or diminished based on where they live. After each of the last three censuses, citizens in some states have lost representation in Congress to other states that attract large numbers of noncitizens and even illegal aliens.
    There is still time to prevent the 2010 census from making it four in a row. The people of Iowa stand to lose again unless the upcoming census collects information about citizenship and immigration status.

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