A Fight For the Soul of U.S. Politics: Democrats Push Deportation-Only SAVE Act

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Image: Nepean District Historical Society

The mainstream progressive blogosphere has been frighteningly silent lately, as a major migration battle looms over the U.S. Capitol.  Grassroots migrant rights organizations across the nation are mobilizing in opposition to the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act:

Call your representative TODAY and demand that they reject the SAVE Act!

Pressure is mounting in the Democratic-led House of Representatives to act on the SAVE Act (HR 4088), an enforcement and deportation-only bill introduced and sponsored by more than 140 Democratic and Republican opponents of humane immigration reform.

[Click here] to reach your representative.

- MIRA Coalition (the link is mine)

A epic battle is being waged against anti-migrant Democrats in Congress, and it's important that the blogosphere makes sure the pro-migrant side, the side of justice, comes out in front of this. 

But the strongest voices have been curiously silent in the face of this anti-migrant threat.

The only Daily Kos front-page mention of the SAVE Act in the last sixth months comes from a diary rescue, where Sentido makes an excellent case against the bill (migrant friend Nightprowlkitty -- from docudharma -- also deals out her tireless online migrant justice in the diary comments):

The Trancredo/Shuler bill, also called the "SAVE Act" was introduced today and is the new hope of the right wing anti-immigrant forces.

I just read it, and it is as bad as one could expect.

As expected it makes the flawed assumption that harsh law enforcement aimed at a targeted group of people will make them simply disappear.

This bill also lacks any indication that undocumented immigrants should be treated as human beings... there is no family reunification, no relief for kids who spent their whole lives here.

Cruelty has always failed as a social policy... and this bill is more evil than most.

Let's look at how bad it can be...(read on)

Sentido - Daily Kos user

Aside from that small mention of this deportation-only bill, there hasn't even been a recent mention of the SAVE Act in the mainstream progressive blogosphere, even by those that have been forceful in arguing against anti-migrant Democrats in the past.

This, despite the fact that there is a heated battle underway right now as some Democrats move into the anti-migrant camp, led by figures like Rahm Emanuel who has famously called immigration the "third rail of politics".  There is a real threat of the SAVE Act being passed.  So if you don't have time to read the rest of this post use this form to oppose the SAVE Act, and make sure Congress hears your voice.

This battle to sway anti-migrant Democrats has been very public as "hundreds of organizations representing millions of" U.S. citizens have made their opposition to the SAVE Act known.  But there has been a vicious battle behind the scenes, as well, which recently spilled over into public arena when Sam Stein of the Huffington Post got hold of a confidential document from the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR):

Democrats may soon be taking a tougher public position on immigration, according to a confidential study put together by key think tanks close to the party leadership.

The study urges Democrats to adopt more rigid rhetoric when discussing immigration by encouraging office-holders to emphasize "requiring immigrants to become legal" rather than stressing border enforcement and the opening of a path to legalization for the undocumented already here.

Implicit in the report is the notion that Democrats can win wider public support for immigration reform by framing the issue in harsher-sound verbiage and, perhaps, policy.

This message places the focus where voters want it, on what's best for the United States, not what we can/should do for illegal immigrants.

Sam Stein - Huffington Post

The fact that CCIR, an organization that has publicly opposed persecution approaches to immigration, is privately using the lure of this tougher rhetoric to keep Democrats in the "pro-migrant" camp shows just how desperate the situation has become.

Make no mistake, I completely disagree with this new messaging put forth by an organization that is supposed to be a champion of migrant-friendly comprehensive immigration reform.  Placing the focus "on what's best for the United States, not what we can/should do for illegal immigrants" is precisely the sort of narrow nationalistic framing that I think is harmful for migrants.  Shifting towards talk of "requiring immigrants to become legal" gives into the nativistic, punitive urges of anti-migrant advocates. 

But Sam Stein makes some grave mistakes here by not reporting the broader context of this confidential study put out by CCIR.  Stein misses who is ultimately responsible for this Democrat shift towards anti-migrant rhetoric.  CCIR is not acting to push tougher rhetoric, CCIR is reacting to the anti-migrant pandering of Democrats like Rahm Emanuel, and other sponsors of the SAVE Act. 

Anti-migrant Democrats have been actively pushing their own polls with their own anti-migrant agendas.  The mainstream blogosphere has been very good about bringing this dynamic to light.  Digby has an comprehensive post about how Emanuel has been touting around pollster Stanley Greenberg to make his anti-migrant case, along with a damning indictment of the SAVE Act.  Firedoglake, through Blue America, has even taken concrete action with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to oust Rahm Emanuel, who represents a district that is 50% immigrant.

An article in the Hill about a recent meeting between Rahm and leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus illustrates the anti-migrant position of Emanuel through his pollster, Greenberg:

Emanuel invited Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg to the caucus meeting to discuss his polling on immigration.

Some Democratic strategists ridiculed this idea because of Hispanic lawmakers’ skepticism about Greenberg’s record on immigration.

In The New Republic last month, Greenberg equated the immigration issue with welfare reform, saying Democrats had to get tough on enforcement before creating a path to citizenship. Many political strategists disagree.
Jonathan E. Kaplan - The Hill

I know I'm getting into a lot of Beltway politics mumbo-jumbo here, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that it is Democrats like Rahm Emanuel that are largely responsible for the move towards tougher rhetoric on migrants.  The mainstream progressive blogosphere has been very good at holding anti-migrant Democrats accountable, but now that the SAVE Act is in danger of passing, they're nowhere to be found.  Just when their voices are needed, there is silence.

The best way to tackle this troubling move towards tougher rhetoric against migrants is by calling your Congressional representatives and telling them you oppose a deportation-only solution like the SAVE Act. 

If you haven't gotten the message yet, please use this form to voice your opposition to the SAVE Act (I found this awesome form through a post on Street Prophets).

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yave begnet said:

This is a much-needed post to hopefully direct more attention to this looming threat.

There is no reason for any Democratic candidate to be on record supporting the SAVE Act ... just as no Dem should be on record supporting continued bloodshed in Iraq. The issues are comparably clear--no Dem, no matter how red the constituency, should support such an odious piece of legislation.

We need to try to put this on the radar in the primaries to push the Dem presidential candidates to take a position on the act (have they yet?). This could filter down to local elections ... supporting the SAVE Act should NOT be seen as a politically beneficial, much less politically necessary, strategy. This will only happen if progressive candidates hear from actual progressives and not the robo-restrictionists from Alipac and numbersUSA. Who are kicking our ass on this issue right now, btw. Just google "SAVE Act" and take a look at the entire first page.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

We do have a lot of work to do with this online, yave. Hopefully we can turn around the numbers on that google search, because right now it's really bad.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on March 4, 2008 10:11 PM.

Yes We Can!: Pro-Migrant Round-up was the previous entry in this blog.

Focusing on the SAVE Act: Pro-migrant Round-up is the next entry in this blog.

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