Senator Ted Kennedy

In Dallas Morning News Column on Immigration Reform

Syndicated clolumnist Carl Leubsdorf takes a look at the prospects of immigration reform today in his column.  I'm in the following excerpt:

Still, all signs are that Obama is serious about pushing the comprehensive immigration reform he promised in the campaign, once lawmakers act on his extensive 2009 agenda.

That was his clear message last month to more than 100 representatives of interested business, labor and advocacy groups at a meeting clearly designed to ease concerns about his intentions.

Still, despite pressure from Hispanic supporters – and the fact that fixing immigration is long overdue – it's easy to doubt that Congress would tackle so tough an issue, especially in an election year.

But Simon Rosenberg, president of the liberal think tank NDN and a longtime advocate of comprehensive immigration legislation, believes the political climate actually favors action.

"The Republicans need to do something about the fact that their opposition to immigration reform is continuing to drive down their numbers with the nation's fastest-growing group," he said. "And the Democrats need to do something because they promised to get it done."

Besides, he said, "there is a history of bipartisan cooperation on immigration, which is not true of some other issues"

I remain optimistic that the President and Congress will take up immigration reform early next year.  

For more feel free to review our recently released backgrounder on comprehensive immigration reform.  It has lots of good stuff for any one wanting to get caught up on the issue.  And Andres also recently posted video of Senator Ted Kennedy making a powerful pitch for CIR at an NDN forum just before the 2007 Congressional debate began.  It is still powerful and germane to the debate today.

Monday Buzz: Remembering Ted Kennedy, Local Latinos, Probing the CIA, More

It was a week of expansive quotations for the NDN family in the news. Simon had the kicker quote in a major NPR piece this week about the Justice Department's inquiries into "enchanced interrogation" techniques. From the piece:

The administration said that the practice, known as rendition and condemned by human rights advocates, would proceed with more oversight.

"I think the Obama administration is having a hard time calibrating all of this," says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network. "They were left a bad set of practices and realities by the Bush administration."

"The Obama team is finding that unraveling this is harder than they thought it would be, and they're trying," Rosenberg says. "But we're going to be having this debate a long time, and this [inquiry] is an important step."

That debate, he says, will necessarily involve how the country treated terrorism suspects in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Suggestions that discussion about what happened in the Bush era is either partisan or out-of-bounds is ridiculous," he says. "Laws may have been broken, and our standing in the world was affected."

"We need to have a conversation about this in our country."

Andres was quoted extensively in the Las Vegas Sun about the lack of Latino involvement in local politics:

Andres Ramirez made a bid at becoming only the second Hispanic mayor in Southern Nevada history when he ran for mayor of North Las Vegas against incumbent Mike Montandon in 2005. He lost, in a city where an estimated 38.6 percent of the population is Hispanic. He would have joined Cruz Olague, who held the title in Henderson for two years in the 1970s.

When Ruben Kihuen was elected to the Assembly in 2006, he became the second Hispanic immigrant to become a state lawmaker, after Pablo Laveaga, who was elected in 1875 and hailed from Sinaloa, Mexico. Kihuen was born in Jalisco. He joked at the time about doubling the number of Spanish-speaking voices in Carson City, referring to Moises Denis, who was born in Brooklyn to Cuban parents.

When you go through this litany with Ramirez, who now works as vice president of Hispanic programs for NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, he accentuates the positive.

He notes that most other large counties in the top 15 for Hispanic population have had their large populations for much longer. In Clark County, and Nevada generally, he says, Hispanics "have become a quantifiable political force only since the last census" - less than a decade.

And while Ramirez won't overlook the historical paucity of elected and appointed officials with Latin American backgrounds, he also underlines the impact of those who have worked in other areas, such as former Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority chief Manny Cortez, "one the most powerful tourism officials in the world."

As for politics, Ramirez also points out that the expanding Hispanic population has voted in increasing numbers in the past decade, contrasting the highly contested 1998 race between Harry Reid and John Ensign, when "35,000 Hispanic votes was considered the most you could get," with the recent presidential election, when more than four times as many Hispanics went to the polls.

As for Kihuen and Denis, their victories are the result of lobbying on redistricting from Ramirez and others following Census 2000. The result: District 11, which is Kihuen's, and District 28, which fulfilled its intent with Denis' 2004 election.

Locally, the lack of Hispanic surnames on councils and commissions, Ramirez says, doesn't negate the increasing number of Hispanic staff members whose jobs are to ensure Spanish-speaking constituents are heard.

The rest is a question of "time and maturity." Ramirez predicts a near future that includes the more Hispanic state senators and more candidates for local offices.

Rob was featured in The Age talking about the benefits of a carbon tax:

TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast.

Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said ''cap and trade'' systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended.

''Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions'', he said. ''Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap and trade regime.''

A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8 per cent since 1990 while GDP rose about 40 per cent.

CEDA research director Michael Porter strongly supported Dr Shapiro. CEDA today will release a report urging the Rudd Government to scrap its emissions trading scheme in favour of a carbon tax.

Finally, Simon was also featured in a Politico video about Senator Ted Kennedy. Simon addresses Senator Kennedy's remarkable legacy on immigration reform around the 5 minute mark. Check it out here:

Senator Kennedy and the Ongoing Battle for Social Justice

As our nation and world mourn the loss of Senator Kennedy, I'd like to honor this true American hero's contribution to the fight for social justice issues. Many of today's articles discuss the late Senator's commitment to reforming health care, and rightly so. But we must not overlook the fact that the Lion of the Senate did not limit himself only to this cause. He dedicated his public service career to the fight against all moral and social injustices. Here is one example of his work to reform our broken immigration system--an issue that touches the very core of who we are as a nation.

In the speech that follows, Senator Kennedy reminds us that, as Americans, we are fundamentally a nation of immigrants:

We cannot turn our backs on our heritage as immigrants. Not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. They are our past, they are our present, they are our future.



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