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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Elections & Legislation : Labor & Class : Race & Ethnicity

Va. House Approves Bill On Illegal Immigration

Wednesday, January 31, 2007; Page A01

RICHMOND, Jan. 30 The Virginia House of Delegates approved a far-reaching proposal Tuesday to strip charities and other organizations of state and local funding if any of the money is used to provide services to immigrants in the country illegally.

The proposal, one of nearly 50 immigration- related bills under consideration by the General Assembly, could force such groups as the Salvation Army and the Virginia Association of Free Clinics to verify immigration status before offering assistance to those in need or risk losing funding.

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, who is pushing an immigrationrelated bill before the General Assembly, said that police officers are frustrated by difficulty they face in enforcing immigration laws. (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)

Immigration Proposals

The Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill yesterday to address illegal immigration. Other bills under consideration by the General Assembly would:
· Ban state money for social welfare programs at churches, educational programs and charities that provide services to illegal immigrants.
· Give state and local police the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
· Make it a misdemeanor to be in Virginia illegally.
· Deny in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and prohibit them from enrolling in a state university or college.
· Establish a Commission on Immigration as an advisory commission in the executive branch to analyze the impact of immigration on the state and make recommendations on related policies in education and employment.
The Immigration Debate

The Washington Post's coverage of the immigration issue, from the politics of revising the nation's immigration laws to the impact of illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border and the Washington region.

"This is to make sure the monies that are going to charities and organizations go to the people they are intended to go to, which is legal immigrants," said Del. Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) , the sponsor of the bill. "The ultimate goal is to make the commonwealth of Virginia an unwelcome place if you are in this country illegally."

Responded Kitty Hardt, director of program operations at Commonwealth Catholic Charities: "We don't stop services to look for documentation. "
Tuesday's action in Richmond mirrors attempts at the local level to curb illegal immigration. The city of Manassas , Miller's home town, has been combating crowding in single-family houses. Herndon has approved measures designed to discourage illegal immigrants from living and finding work in the town. Prince William County supervisors have complained about illegal immigration' s rising cost to the county.
Over the next month, delegates and senators are expected to debate bills aimed at making life difficult for those who have entered the country illegally. There are bills to deny in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants, punish employers who hire undocumented workers and expand the power of state and local police so they can help federal authorities apprehend people in the country illegally. Other pieces of legislation would make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to come to Virginia .

Miller's proposal, approved 70 to 29, says an organization cannot use public funds to provide any service to an illegal immigrant who is 19 or older. If it does, the organization would be in violation of the law and ineligible for future funding. The measure now goes to the Senate.
Maj. James Allison, general secretary of the National Capital and Virginia Division of the Salvation Army, said his organization will have no choice but to turn people away if Miller's bill is approved. "Our main desire is to get service to people who need it, without discrimination, but we have to comply by state, federal and local guidelines as it relates to funding, so we would have to tighten up," Allison said.

Lawmakers said charitable groups could help illegal immigrants as long as the money is from their private, not state or local, funds.
Immigrant rights advocates said that taken together, the bills are mean-spirited and contribute to a growing bias against Hispanics, who make up 6 percent of the state's population.
"I think they have put together an agenda that says we are going to beat up on illegal aliens, regardless of their status as children or adults," said Del. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) .

This is the second consecutive year that immigration has been a major issue before the General Assembly. Last year, lawmakers considered more than two dozen immigration- related bills, but most were defeated. Lawmakers said some of the bills stand a better chance this year because all 140 legislators are up for reelection and Congress has yet to act on a comprehensive immigration reform.

The same scenario is playing out in other state capitals as a growing number of legislators are vowing to take the lead in stemming the flow of undocumented workers. In Texas , for example, lawmakers want to prohibit the children of illegal immigrants from working for the government, and they want to impose steep fees on money wired to Latin America , according to Governing Magazine.

But advocates for stricter immigration laws say the environment is particularly ripe in Virginia , which has a Republican-controll ed legislature and growing public angst over the number of illegal immigrants.

" Virginia is receptive. There are a lot of people hearing from their constituents saying, 'This has got to stop,' " said William Buchanan, legislative director of the American Council for Immigration Reform. "All across Northern Virginia, communities are being swept away."

Some political strategists think immigration is a winning issue for Republicans heading into this fall's legislative races. Last fall, Miller narrowly won his seat in a special election in Prince William County in which illegal immigration was a major issue. "The problem is not with legal immigrants; they try to assimilate. The problem is the illegal aliens; they are not assimilating, " said Bob Rudine, a member of Help Save Herndon.
But Claire Guthrie Castañaga, a lobbyist for the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, said the General Assembly is considering legislation that will "create a hostile environment for all people of color."

She pointed to proposals to give state and local police broader authority in seeking out people in the country illegally, including a proposal being championed by Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R). The bill, up for debate in the House on Wednesday, would give state and local officers investigating violent crimes the authority to detain illegal immigrants once they have an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Under current law, police can detain illegal immigrants only if they are felons or have been deported. "Local law enforcement, like me, are frustrated we have no ability to enforce the laws, and our citizens are frustrated," McDonnell said.
Castañaga countered that the policy will lead to situations of racial profiling, in which police could stop anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. "This has implications for everyone who is an immigrant walking down the street, unless you have a sign that says, 'Hi, I am legal,' " Castañaga said.

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Commentary :: Theory and Information

Reality knocks, nobody Home!

All demagogues and most politicians are familiar with the curious phenomenon of the diminished intelligence of a crowd relative to the mean intelligence quotient of all the individuals that comprise it! The level of intelligence of a crowd decreases as the size of the crowd increases. Less known, however, is the diminished ability of the crowd to act without the assistance of an orchestrater or conductor. In the face of the most heinous crimes, today’s populations are conspicuous by their complacency, silence and inability to act. The crowd waits patiently for an appropriate catalyst or activator to trigger an appropriate response.

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News :: Labor & Class

Denied Collective Bargaining, North Carolina Public Employees Turn More Militant

Sanitation workers in Raleigh, North Carolina had had enough. For two days in September, they staged work stoppages for several hours each day, refusing to move their trucks off the garage lot.

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Executive Branch Shouldn’t Meddle with the Judiciary

The federal government cannot legally wield any power that is not specifically granted by the Constitution. According to the Tenth Amendment, powers not expressly delegated to the federal government are reserved “to the states respectively or to the people.?

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News :: Children : Education : Environment : Protest Activity : Women

Girl Scouts protest plan to sell camp

Scouts sang outside the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia headquarters in Mechanicsville while the board that wants to sell the Northumberland County camp met inside.

"A lot of girls don't get to see undeveloped land," said Jennifer Moore, a Scout from Chesterfield County. "We don't want them to sell Camp Kitty."

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights : Peace & War : Protest Activity

Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit

The difference between what U.S. citizens think their rulers are doing in the world and what these rulers actually are doing is one of the great propaganda achievements of history. If we believe the White House and its various spokespersons, the United States has been reluctantly propelled onto the world stage by the force of events. This idea of reluctance is heavily peddled by policymakers and their media shills. None of our leaders ever really wanted to get involved in this or that region, we are told, but there are demonic forces afoot that necessitate U.S. intervention throughout the world.

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Commentary :: Globalization

Criminal Empire

Move over Mafia, Cocaine cartels, Russian, Balkan, Cuban groups, Triads and numerous other criminal organisations – the U.S. State is taking over! Today, the methodologies of the American State cannot be distinguished from the methods of organised crime. The latest executions of Saddam’s cronies and the newly signed deal to allow American Oil Companies unprecedented access and open slather exploitation of Iraqi Oil reserves leave little doubt regarding the real intentions of the illegal invasion. The Washington line of spreading ‘liberty’ and ‘democracy’ will go down in history as a feeble and transparent charade. Nevertheless, America has proven that caveman tactics of brute force and mindless violence (over 655,000 dead) succeed in satisfying immediate needs. It has also become apparent that the USA is unable to see the untenability of its actions in the long term – America has failed to assess the real costs of its morally bankrupt actions!

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Commentary :: Peace & War

Bush Challenges Opposition -- A Response!

In his daily radio address, George W Bush challenged those who oppose his insane route to oblivion, to ‘put up or shut up’. “To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible," he said, “offer an alternative?. In view of the fact that U.S. Democrats are unable to effectively deal with the situation, we formally and directly accept this challenge and remind Bush that we are aware that this response will be read by him and his neo-cons; indeed, we have been aware for some time that Bush is a regular reader of this site as indeed is Rice and others. There is no avoiding this response!

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