Tag Archives: Steve King

Meet Jim Mowrer, Running Against Steve King of Iowa

23 Aug

Mowrer with ACB and JDC

On Tuesday, August 20, approximately fifty people gathered at Benach Ragland’s offices in Washington, DC to meet and support a 27 year old candidate for Congress from the 4th District of IowaJim Mowrer, born on a farm in Boone Iowa, and a veteran of our war in Iraq, is challenging the incumbent Steve King for his seat in Congress.  Readers of this blog need no introduction to Steve King as he is a leader of the extreme anti-immigrant faction of American politics.  With little results to his name, King has emerged as a rallying point for the “deport ‘em all” crowd with his willingness to say things that are not only insulting but patently and verifiably false.

As this post is about Jim Mowrer and the talents that we hope he will take to Congress, we will not belabor King’s venality.  However, King has seemingly been driven mad by the prospect of immigration reform, and like a wounded beast, his attacks have grown more desperate and chaotic.  In the past month alone, King has managed to earn rebukes from the majority of his own party as well as his church.  Briefly, in the past six weeks, King has:

To list all the idiotic things that Steve King has done and said, as well as the many people who are growing tired of King’s obsession with immigration to the exclusion of the best interests of his constituents would be to devote too much space to this clown. Especially, when there is so much to say about Jim Mowrer.

 

For us, it started with the fact that Mowrer simply is “not Steve King.”  That alone is cause for support.  However, on getting to know the man, it is quickly apparent that Mowrer is a special individual who can make a positive impact on Congress and our public debate.  Mowrer radiates Iowa earnestness and optimism despite a challenging life. Born on a farm in Boone, Iowa, Mowrer lost his father at the age of seven to a farming accident.  His mother had to leave the farm for the town and, for a while, the Mowrers relied upon the social safety net.  Mowrer is careful to credit his mother’s hard work, but is not blind to the role that Social Security survivor benefits provided to his family at their moment of tragedy.  Mowrer went to Iraq with the Iowa National Guard.  Mowrer points to his service in Iraq as when the immigration issue hit home for him.  Mowrer describes fighting alongside permanent residents and the profound impression that their patriotism had for him.  To Mowrer, they were Americans as much as anyone else; they were his brothers in arms.  Mowrer movingly describes putting on citizenship ceremonies in Iraq for his fellow soldiers and the pride that they and he felt during those moments.

Mowrer returned from Iraq and went back to Iowa.  He immediately noticed the extreme Steve King fatigue that residents of the 4th District were experiencing.  He also noted their embarrassment with the Congressman’s antics.  Mowrer knew that King did not represent the people that he grew up among in the 4th District and that those people were suffering while King embarked on his diatribe against immigrants instead of focusing on issues that matter to Iowa.  For example, there is still no Farm Bill, an essential part of Iowa’s economy.

At Benach Ragland on Tuesday, Mowrer promised to be a leader on immigration reform.  While it may be enough for him not to be Steve King, Mowrer said he would lead on immigration reform.  He supports comprehensive immigration reform, the path to citizenship and the Senate bill.  But, just as importantly, Mowrer has a deep respect for immigrants.  As he says, all his brothers in Iraq had “U.S.” on their uniforms and it did not matter where they were from, where they were born or whether they were residents or citizens.  When he needed back up, they were there.

Mowrer at BR

And we will be there all the way for Mowrer.  He has a chance to unseat King.  Defeating King would send a message to all those who follow him that the era of demonizing immigrants is over and the era of solutions and inclusion is here.  There is no room in the public debate for the hateful rhetorical bombs that King lobs.  His followers seldom seem to have the same enthusiastic disregard for the facts and the will of their constituents.  His defeat would send them running to the hills.  King was pushed to the limit in 2012 by a candidate who did not come from the district.  He does not have a war chest for this race and he has alienated his allies in the GOP.  But, most importantly, King is out of step with his constituents.  In a recent poll, the 4th District of Iowa overwhelmingly supported the principles in the Senate immigration bill, including the path to citizenship.

King’s deranged obsession seems to be catching up to him.

 

Mowrer’s campaign website is http://www.mowrerforiowa.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MowrerforIowa

Twitter: @JimMowrer

The Whine of the ICE Bureaucrats

3 Feb

agents-overview

It has been a tough week for the ICE bureaucrats who have sought to undermine the political leadership of this country to pursue their own restrictivist and nativist agenda.  Regular readers of this blog (my wife and my mother), will know that we have sought to document the efforts of bureaucrats within ICE to stymie intelligent immigration enforcement through insubordination, lawsuits, leaks, and more generic tactics like refusal to complete trainings and sick-outs.  But, like their pals Kris Kobach, Steve King, Jeff Sessions, and Joe Arpaio, time has passed them by and they continue their ignominious descent into laughable irrelevance.

Last week, we saw politicians competing to put forward the most comprehensive immigration reform.  The President outlined a plan.  We saw Republicans and Democrats, who could not agree on anything for close to four years, all agree that immigration reform is needed and that a path to citizenship is an essential to that effort.  We learned that the even the House has a bipartisan working group planning to develop its own immigration legislation.  Simultaneously, a federal judge in Dallas, Texas dealt a near fatal blow to the ICE agents lawsuit, where they alleged potential injury if they refused to follow the DHS secretary’s directives regarding DACA.  While the Judge did not entirely dismiss the lawsuit, FOBR Ben Winograd at the Immigration Policy Center described the lawsuit as” hanging by a thread.”  Bad week to be on the losing side of history.

Increasing the hope that immigration reform will finally happen in 2013 is the largely unanimous support of reform by the country’s major labor organizations.  The AFL-CIO and the SEIU, the country’s two largest union organizations, are major supporters of immigration reform.  But just when you thought that the unions had finally come together with the business community, there is one union that wants you to know that they are not on board.  Guess who?  The American Federation of Government Employees National ICE Council issued a press release to declare that the AFL-CIO does not speak for the ICE union.  The union wrote: “Respectfully, we see a lot of problems with the recently proposed reforms and we plan to exercise our rights as American’s to participate in the democratic process and voice those concerns publicly in the upcoming months; we hope to do so without groups like the AFL-CIO demonizing us for expressing a different opinion.”

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With all due respect, the position of the ICE agents union is crystal clear.  They so believe in an anti-immigrant policy where their actions are not subjected to meaningful review that their views are meaningless in an effort to reform the immigration law in a way to break their power.  The ICE bureaucrats are afraid of being demonized for participating in the democratic process.  Well, welcome to the arena, folks.  You can’t continue to say outlandish and self-interested garbage and not be called out on it.  The bureaucrats have always had a weak grip on the basics of democracy.  While begging to be treated with kid gloves, the ICE bureaucrats union has staged a vote of no confidence in ICE’s political leadership, sued the Department to stop DACA, and has encouraged its members not to follow the direction of their management.  In the military and any other law enforcement agency, that is known as insubordination and can result in dismissal or, in the case of the military, the brig.  But ICE bureaucrats ask not to “be demonized.”

If the ICE bureaucrats do not want to be demonized, they should stop resisting efforts to create intelligent immigration policy and participate in implementing immigration law, both today’s and tomorrow’s in a more humane and useful way.

DACA, Provisional Waivers, and de Osorio?

4 Jan

nancy_just_say_no1

The publication of the rule allowing for processing of provisional waivers for unlawful presence in the United States was another act of administrative rule-making that the President has undertaken to make the immigration laws more humane.  Over the past year, the effort at prosecutorial discretion, the introduction of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the provisional waiver have created a much improved immigration system that attempts to solve real immigration problems for families.

The President has been justly criticized for an enforcement-only approach to immigration.  It is clear that, early in the first term, the White House miscalculated in believing that if it demonstrated that it could enforce U.S. immigration law, it could persuade Republicans in Congress to support sensible immigration laws.  It did not work.  Despite record removals, many members of Congress labor under the fallacy that the President has refused to enforce immigration laws.  As the intransigence of Congressional Republicans made any meaningful immigration reform an impossibility, the administration has taken significant steps to make the immigration system better.

And make no mistake- these steps taken by the administration have made the immigration system better.  Critics can cite the low numbers of cases where prosecutorial discretion has been applied and the individual instances where prosecutorial discretion has been refused where it seems like the individual fit within the criteria.  The systems have not been perfect, but they are improved.  If one case was terminated as a result of memoranda issued in the past year, a benefit was received.  In the past, a request for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion was a last ditch and usually fruitless effort reserved for the saddest of cases.  It is now a routine part of representation and utilized successfully in cases where the law provides no options for relief.

In addition, I have seen the exercise of prosecutorial discretion bleed into areas other than the termination of cases.  I have seen the government agree to join motions to reopen to allow the spouses of citizens to adjust their status in the U.S.  This was a rarity before.  I won’t go so far as to say that they are regularly joined these days, but I have had more joined in the past year than in the previous five years.  DACA has been an amazing experience. Watching all of these kids get a chance to go to college or put their education to work has been an inspiration.  The country has benefited tremendously from the energy and vigor they have brought to our communities when the smallest of welcome was extended to them.

Finally, the provisional waiver will allow families to regularize their status without the risk of long term separation.  Thousands of families have refused to risk separation and have thus continued with one partner without status fearful of being stopped by the police and unable to find meaningful work.  The provisional waiver process should allow thousands of undocumented immigrants to get their residence properly.

The President has done this in the face of a hostile Congress colluding with an insubordinate agency.  ICE bureaucrats have been in open rebellion against liberalized immigration policies since the beginning of the President’s terms.  They have teamed with their Congressional supporters to accuse the administration of everything from allowing jihadis to roam free to making cynical ploys for Latino votes.  Luckily, these rear-guard actions have failed.  They are the death shrieks of a disappearing order, where once can say of Joe Arpaio, Russel Pearce, Kris Kobach, and Steve King, as Bob Dylan once did, “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.

While there are countless other administrative actions that the administration can take, another step that would further demonstrate the administration’s willingness to place family unity and sensible immigration policy over “the way things have always been,” would be for the administration to forgo Supreme Court review in de Osorio v. Mayorkas, the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that allows the unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who aged out of eligibility under petitions for their parents to receive credit for the time they waited under their parents’ petitions.  In de Osorio, the 9th Circuit joined the 5th Circuit in Khalid v. Holder rejecting the Board of Immigration Appeals decision in Matter of Wang.  Both Courts of Appeals decided that the plain language of the  Child Status Protection Act allowed kids who aged-0ut of eligibility under petitions filed for their parents to recapture the time that they waited when their parents, now permanent residents, filed petitions for them.  In Matter of Wang, the Board decided that the kids could not recapture that time and would have to go to the end of the line.  This resulted in what one brief in de Osorio calculated would be a 115 year wait for an unmarried adult son or daughter of a Mexican citizen!  The de Osorio decision has the potential to help ensure family unity for thousands of families where parents and minor children have received residence, but one or two older children aged-out.

The de Osorio decision came down on September 26, 2012 and the next stop for review is the Supreme Court.  The government has sought two extensions to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.  As of now, their petition for Supreme Court review, known as a petition for a writ of certiorari, is due on January 26.  If the government files a petition, the Supreme Court may or may not take the case.  However, the de Osorio case will likely not take effect until the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case.  If the Supreme Court takes the case, then we will have to wait until the Supreme Court decides the matter before we know anything further.  If the Supreme Court does not take the case, the de Osorio case will take effect and many people will become eligible for adjustment of status.

Of course, the government does not have to file a petition for a writ of certiorari.  They did not seek certiorari in Khalid.  Moreover, WHY??  Why appeal this?  What is the possible compelling interest for the government?  The de Osorio decision allows the sons and daughters of permanent residents who waited in line with their parents only to lose their eligibility due to lengthy delays in the immigration process to rejoin their families.  How does the government have an interest in avoiding that happy result.  Immigration law has always been anchored in the concept of family unity?  Prosecutorial discretion, the provisional waiver and, to a lesser extent, DACA, reflect principles of family unity.  By letting the de Osorio decision stand, the administration can once again signal its firm alliance with immigrant families.

As one former President said, on a petition for cert, Mr. President, “Just say no!

On Dinosaurs- Can Immigration Reform Pass the House?

18 Nov

We have heard lots of talk about the need for bipartisan immigration reform in the new Congress.  We have heard that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will work with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on a new bill for introduction in the Senate.  The Senate was five votes away from passing the DREAM Act in 2010, so it is possible to believe that the new political reality has jolted preservation-minded conservatives in the Senate to support common sense immigration reform.  But what about the House of Representatives?  What about the Tea Party supported freshman class determined to oppose compromise at all costs.  Well, their leaders seem to be telling them to compromise, but will they?   While Hannity and Krauthammer may be thought leaders in the GOP, they do not actually get a vote.

Speaker John Boehner “expressed optimism” that immigration reform could pass this Congress.  Well, he should know.  It is his caucus in the House that needs to be pulled along, kicking and screaming, to get common sense immigration reform through the House.  The restrictionists are counting on the Republican majority in the House to be their firewall against reform.  NumbersUSA president Roy Beck, a restrictionist, told the Los Angeles Times, “We have quite a bit of assurance that comprehensive immigration reform won’t pass the next Congress.  All of this is just national talk.  The House is not about national talk. It is about one district at a time.”  What gives Beck such confidence?  For one thing, the House has a 93 member “Immigration Reform Caucus,” dedicated to promoting the worst nativist and restrictionist views on immigration.  Many caucus members, such as Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA), have held leadership positions on immigration issues.  Second, the Chairmanship of the House Subcommittee on Immigration is due to pass to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), another anti-immigrant zealot (his check for membership dues in the caucus must have bounced, as he is not a member).

Who is Mr. Goodlatte?  He is a ten term Congressman from Virginia Shenandoah Valley, which lies between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians and was where a friendly population helped Stonewall Jackson defeat much larger Union armies.  On his webpage, Mr. Goodlatte writes of immigration:

Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom and the rule of law.  However, illegal immigration mocks that law and our system of justice.  It is estimated that there are over 10 million illegal aliens currently living in our country.  Illegal immigration costs our taxpayers billions of dollars every year, while taking jobs from law-abiding citizens and legal residents.  We must crack down on illegal immigration and enforce our current immigration laws.  In addition, we must not grant amnesty to individuals who have broken our laws.

Mr Goodlatte also brags about supporting all of the terrible ideas on immigration that have enthralled the most extreme elements of the Republican party.  If Republicans think that immigration reform is their way to a more electable future, it will not be achieved with dinosaurs like Goodlatte leading the way.

If the Party is serious about changing its tune on immigration, it would do well to marginalize extremists such as Goodlatte, Steve King and Lamar Smith and to empower those few moderates, such as Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), who have positive track records on immigration.  In addition, last week’s victory by Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) over Tom Price (R-GA) for the fourth top Republican slot augurs well that the GOP leadership is serious about marginalizing its extremists.

Mitt Romney would honor DACA grants, not issue new ones

3 Oct

Thirty four days before the Presidential election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney has expressed a position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has been in place since August 15.  In an interview with the Denver Post, Romney stated that if he were elected President, “The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased.”   He also said that, although he would honor the work permits and deferred action grants, he would not issue any new ones after his inauguration. 

This is certainly welcome news, but the wording of Romney’s support is worrisome.  First, I can not help but think that there is some sort of dog whistle to the anti-immigrant crowd in there.  By stating that the President is allowing people to “purchase visas,” Romney alludes to a common wingnut belief that the President is simply selling visas to whomever can come up with $465.  A common hallucination against DACA is that there is going to be extensive fraud and we will never know if we are helping the real DREAMers or whether we are giving status to criminals and terrorists.  I wonder if Romney is consciously indulging this fantasy.  Second, Romney views this as entirely transactional.  He makes no mention of the compelling circumstances of DACA applicants.  He views this as something that people have purchased and not as a program meant to shield a deserving class of youth from the fear of removal.  People deserve this benefit, in Romney’s worldview, because they have paid for it, not because of the circumstances of their arrival and their potential to contribute to our society.  By linking the program to a financial transaction, Romney undermines the moral validity of the claim to civil rights for the DREAMers.  Third, it is not a visa. Come on, get it right.  You are running for the Presidency not for the Topeka School Board.  Get your terms and facts straight.  I suppose the error can be easily explained by the fact that Romney’s number one immigration adviser is Kris Kobach, who rarely gets anything right on immigration law.

Romney also said that, at the end of the two years that DACA grants are good for, “Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed.”  Romney is dangling major immigration reform.  Of course, we have no idea what his plan is or how he plans of getting it through a Congress that has been ceded to the likes of Steve King and Jeff Sessions.  The Republican party, with the help of certain feckless Democrats, has repeatedly stymied even the most sensible immigration reform.  Remember the DREAM Act passed the House and got 55 votes in the senate, which would have been enough had the Republicans not filibustered it.  Romney is attempting to woo Latinos by blaming the President for the failure to pass immigration reform between 2008 and 2010.  This fantasy argues that since the Democrats had a a filibuster-proof majority in both houses during that time (which is not strictly true- there was the Specter conversion and the Kennedy death) and failed to pass immigration reform, that a Republican president and a Republican Congress would do better.  Hogwash.  Republican President Bush could not get the wingnut portion of his party to support immigration reform and, since his first day in office, President Obama faced a Republican minority committed to defeating him and using the filibuster to prevent anything from happening in Congress.  Now, they have the chutzpah to imagine that Republican obstruction had nothing to do with the failure to get immigration reform.  While, we believe that most reasonable people reject this, it is disappointing to see otherwise astute observers of the political scene fall for this.

Finally, Romney also said this: “I actually will propose a piece of legislation which will reform our immigration system to improve legal immigration so people don’t have to hire lawyers to figure out how to get here legally.”  Now, that is hitting below the belt!  Romney wants to put us out of business.  Now, we can understand that the federal government may be getting tired of getting sued by us and losing, but this is personal.  We are small business owners.  Since we embarked on this venture, we have created four new jobs in the country.  We have obtained visas for people that have enabled them to open businesses and hire more workers.  As business owners, shouldn’t we be squarely within Romney’s sights?  Instead, he states that he wants a system that does not require lawyers.  We are all for simplifying the immigration laws and making them work for the United States.  We are tired of telling people that there is nothing we can do for them and their best option to is to save their money and spend it on a new home in their home country.  However, we remain committed to fighting for our clients and we envision that whatever reform Romney proposes will only increase our business as he is likely to cede immigration policy to the Steve Kings, Joe Arpaios and Kris Kobachs.  If that happens, our response is “see you in court.”

Napolitano: Deferred Action Applications Will Be Available on August 15

19 Jul

Today, 104 Democratic Members of Congress released a letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for his decision to instruct the Department of Homeland Security to offer “Deferred Action” deportation relief to young immigrants raised in the U.S. who would qualify for the DREAM Act.

The Members of Congress wrote:

We recognize that there are those who will want to take the power of discretion away from you and the Executive branch. Like you, we agree that you are on solid moral, legal, and political ground and we will do everything within our power to defend your actions and the authority that you, like past Presidents, can exercise to set enforcement priorities and better protect our neighborhoods and our nation.

The letter was largely to show support for the new policy ahead of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s testimony in front of a largely hostile House Homeland Security Oversight Committee.

Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee continue to believe that the President usurped Congressional authority with his announcement to not deport Dreamers and threatened to take DHS Sec. Napolitano to court over her June 15 memo.

Rep. Steve King was especially hostile:

Napolitano countered criticism regarding the deferred action program by noting that this was an evolution of a process that began in 2010 and reiterated that the announcement comes on the heels of various memos: the Meissner memo from Legacy INS, Julie Myers Memo, and the Morton Memo.

“I will not rescind it. It is right within the law.”

With regards to deferred action, Napolitano said that applications will be available on August 15 and added in her testimony that:

Individuals must also complete a biographic and biometric background check and not currently in removal proceedings or subject to a final order, must be 15 years or older to be considered for deferred action. Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be considered for deferred action under this initiative. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States or cannot prove that they have continuously resided within the United States for at least five years.

Napolitano reiterated that the program will not cost American taxpayers because there will be a fee for the process (in addition to the $380 for work authorization and $80 for biometrics). It is important to note that DHS has not yet decided the cost of the application.

When Rep. Quayle (R-Arizona) pressed her on the issue, Sec. Napolitano stated there may be a hardship fee-waiver process in some cases. However, she did clarify that there will not be a broad fee waiver process but that people may be granted waivers in exceptional circumstances.

The Congressional Research Service also released an analysis of the June 15 memo, which is available here. Among other important things, the CRS notes that Dreamers who are granted deferred action may be able to work but are not entitled to federally-funded public assistance, such as “retirement, welfare, health,disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual,household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.”

The DHS will put out additional guidelines on August 1.

For more on deferred action, please see our Dream Act Deferred Action website.