Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere: DREAM Act Edition

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So, I’m still trying to find the time to get blogging over here going once again, but for now you can read my latest over at OpenCongress:

Last year, the DREAM Act fell eight votes short of cloture in the Senate (see Donny’s detailed post for more). As with several other pieces of legislation in the 111th Congress, however, this time around the bill has a supporter in the White House. President Barack Obama helped to pass similar legislation while in the Illinois state legislature, and has voiced support for the federal legislation on the campaign trail.

I really hope you all have checked out OpenCongress, not just because I’m working there now, and not just because it’s such a useful site for finding information on bills and lawmakers. It’s also one of the best sites out there for participation. You can vote legislation “up” or “down” using Battle Royale; track individual bills, lawmakers, or issues with My OpenCongress; and of course you can add to the information we already have using the OpenCongress Wiki. And of course, since you know me, you have an insider that can help you out if you want to get started or run into problems.

(As usual, title meme courtesy of John Fleck.)

WNMU alumnus on the national stage


(Update below)
A former Western New Mexico University student, George Ambriz, asked a debate question ((transcript here)) during the Democratic showdown in Las Vegas Thursday night. Ambriz asked whether the candidates believe there is a connection between immigration and terrorism. Robert Lovato at the Huffington Post has a bit more about George’s question:

If you listened closely tonight, you could hear echoes of the voter bloc that will, in the long term, counterbalance the weakening pull of the angry white voter. The only Nevadan of Latino extraction who got to ask a question, UNLV student, George Ambriz, used his opportunity to finger debate CNN’s Lou Dobbs for “insinuating” a “linkage” between terrorism and security and immigration. “No terrorist threat has come from our southern border” he said before asking, “Are they (terrorism and immigration) “intrinsically related issues”?

Combined with the Democrats’ rightward turn on immigration, such questioning from an Angry Brown Voter bodes ill for a Democratic party that touted its decision to bring the debate—and a much-anticipated early primary—to Nevada as part of its efforts to be more inclusive of Latinos.

I flagged an American Prospect column last month on what the growing number of Latino voters could mean for politics in this country, and, indeed, the “Angry Brown Voter” may soon be a force to be reckoned with. This is the sort of thing to keep an eye out for.

Ambriz was just before my time at WNMU, but I later met him in Las Vegas at a model United Nations conference. Like me, Ambriz was heavily involved in student government and other clubs while at WNMU—he served as president of MEChA and was a member of the student government, the Associated Students of Western New Mexico University. That’s why it’s so hard to read this:

At the previous Senate meeting on September 12, the once recognized MECHA club of Western, a club since 1970, was denied for re-recognition by an 8 to 6 vote. The reason for the club’s denial was due to MECHA’s inability to adhere to rules stipulated in the student constitution. The primary reason the Senate did not pass the motion, according to ASWNMU, was that for the last two years MECHA did not participate in two student events specified in by-laws concerning recognized clubs; they did not help with homecoming or great race.

The article later cites Abraham Martinez, the current ASWNMU president, who says the students at Western helped lobby for $200,000 to renovate the MEChA building, and that the club hasn’t helped the students in return.

MEChA has had an incredible history at Western, and it’s members have been instrumental in many of the positive changes at the school in recent memory. Between 2003-06, I know members, working in conjunction with the Associated Students, were responsible for securing money for more than the MEChA building at the school. These students lobbied on behalf of the dorms, the natural sciences department, expressive arts, and athletics. In addition, they lobbied for a stronger Lottery Scholarship and against higher tuition increases.

The club’s building is the only student-owned facility on campus, and MEChA welcomed other student clubs to use the building for meetings and fundraising. Two such events were held there in 2005 to raise money for the family of slain WNMU football player Nick Arnold.

To be blunt, this is an area of ASWNMU law that needs to be rectified. The student government cited lack of participation in student events as the reason for denying the club’s recognition. However, if the club is not recognized, its members can’t be credited for participation in those events moving forward.

The best solution, in my opinion, would be a conditional recognition: withhold matching funds for the club (ASWNMU will match fundraising dollars for clubs on campus) during a probationary period, and require the club to participate in the required student events. That way, MEChA doesn’t receive any monetary gain for their club projects, while the students at WNMU are ensured the club is meeting it responsibilities. Everybody wins!

Well, unless somebody is trying to get their hands on MEChA’s building. If that’s the case, then recognition for MEChA can’t happen.

I’m too far removed from the situation to know exactly what’s going on, but I think one bit of the story is telling:

That night, [MEChA advisor Magdaleno] Manzanárez challenged the decision made by the Student Senate and requested an appeals process be put into action. Then he went on to state that he was aware that there was no current Supreme Court Committee in ASWNMU and also requested they bring one together for the appeals process concerning the eligibility of the club.

Looks like ASWNMU doesn’t exactly have its house in order either.

UPDATE: Sunday, 10:30 p.m. — Looks like the crazies are out in full force, concocting conspiracy theories about George and the other folks who asked questions during Thursday’s debate:

In a nutshell, CNN’s six “undecided voters” were:

A Democratic Party bigwig
An antiwar activist
A Union official
An Islamic leader
A Harry Reid staffer
A radical Chicano separatist

Here’s a simple thought: Americans participating in a Democratic primary election or caucus are more than likely going to be Democrats ((It works that way in Nevada and Iowa, and I would also assume that a primary election attracts voters from within the party)). And—horror of horrors—those Democrats might be undecided as to which Democratic candidate they would vote for! They might even attempt to, you know, find out more about the candidates, and even venture so far as to ask questions! I know, the audacity!

One could even presume that the best people to ask questions at a debate among candidates in the Democratic primary election would be actual Democrats.

And boy, MEChA, the “separatist” organization dedicated to overthrowing the U.S. government. I’m not going to bother duplicating the work of Ted at Crooked Timbers, who had a lengthy post on MEChA way back in 2003.

Losing jobs to outsourcing: Mexican farm workers edition

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The NY Times is reporting today that some American farmers are moving operations south of the border, to Mexico and Central America, because of the problems tied to illegal immigration. No longer able to rely on a steady stream of migrant workers, and fearing government raids on those who employ such workers, the farmers are finding it more feasible to grow crops outside the U.S.:

In the past, some Americans have planted south of the border to escape spiraling land prices and to ensure year-round deliveries of crops they can produce only seasonally in the United States. But in the last three years, Mr. Nassif and other growers said, labor force uncertainties have become a major reason farmers have shifted to Mexico.

Market realities, of course:

Tramping through one of his first lettuce crops near Celaya, an agribusiness hub in Guanajuato, Mr. Scaroni is more candid than many farmers about his move here. He had made six trips to Washington, he said, to plead with Congress to provide more legal immigrants for agriculture.

“I have a customer base that demands we produce and deliver product every day,” he said. “They don’t want to hear the excuses.” He acknowledges that wages are much lower in Mexico; he pays $11 a day here as opposed to about $9 an hour in California. But without legal workers in California, he said, “I have no choice but to offshore my operation.”

It’s an interesting dynamic: many of these jobs probably weren’t held by Americans anyway, but they did contribute to the economy. Many of them were likely taxed on their wages. But, regardless of the workers’ status, I can’t believe this is anything but a step in the wrong direction.

Back to Mexico and Fundraising

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I’ll be down south again in the morning, and then off to El Paso to pick Meredith up at the airport. Part II of my series on border issues and immigration will be in the newspaper Monday afternoon, while you can expect Part III on Tuesday.

Keep an eye on Heath Haussamen’s place tomorrow: Gov. Bill Richardson’s Web site is declaring today that his campaign hit its goals for the fundraising quarter. Many have speculated that, should he out-raise John Edwards, then Richardson would move up into the first tier of presidential candidates. So far, I haven’t seen numbers for anybody besides Obama, who declared more than $30 million (!) raised. Anyhoo, Heath has been following this stuff, and he should have an update before I get back into town.

UPDATE: 6:30 a.m. — LP at NM FBIHOP already has the goods:

But it appears, at least according to the Albuquerque Journal, that Richardson has fallen short of the prediction of outraising Edwards.

The silver lining on this cloud is Edwards’ support has dipped significantly since the first quarter’s numbers, while Richardson’s held steady.  The dark part of the cloud is Richardson’s fundraising is still below that of Edwards and should be significantly farther below that of frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Haussamen’s Top 10 Stories of 2006

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The Daily Press will have our year-end wrap up of stories next week, but Heath Haussamen has his own take over on his blog:

Scandal, Richardson’s influence shaped 2006
In New Mexico, 2006 will be remembered for two things politically – widespread scandal in both parties and at all levels of government, and the impressive influence of Gov. Bill Richardson, who raised a record amount of money, won re-election by a record margin, and somehow managed to control state policy, avoid direct imp

Check the list!