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Archive for April, 2010

Police Get Immigration Authority

Posted by admin On April - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

“Show Me Your Papers”

The immigration battle is on again.

Tired of waiting for Federal Government to take action to secure Arizona’s border against illegal immigrant entry Governor Jan Brewer has sanctioned a new law that gives local police the authority to question suspected illegal immigrants.

(March 21st, 2010) Over 5000 SEIU Members joined hundred of thousands of other activists on the National Mall to call for comprehensive immigration reform. ~ Washington, DC ~ Photo © 2010 Lloyd Wolf

The Senate Bill 1070 became a law at 1.30 p.m on Friday April 23, 2010 and goes into effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends,  which is in early May.

Arizona’s immigration law, now considered the toughest in the nation, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

It will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card or other proof of citizenship, such as a passport or Arizona driver’s license.

It also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day labourers for work. A day labourer who gets picked up for work, and traffic is impeded in the process, would also be committing a criminal act.

Arizona Governor Jannice Brewer

The new Arizona immigration law has sparked outrage among support groups and religious bodies across the United States. The opponents argue that it will encourage victimization, discrimination and racial profiling. Critics, too, have likened it to a fascist law and charged that it could turn Arizona into a police state.

Brewer said the law represented another tool for the state to “work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix – the crisis caused by illegal immigration and Arizona’s porous border.”

Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the bill’s sponsor, called it “a good day for America.”  He said the law was reasonable.

“This is the most reprehensible thing since the Japanese internment,” said Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator and community leader. “This is the saddest day for me. It’s shameful.”

A statement from the Mexican government lamented the move. It stated that “ Arizona lawmakers and the executive branch didn’t take into account immigrants’ contributions – economically, socially and culturally. The criminalization isn’t the path to resolve the undocumented-immigration phenomenon,” it added.

Sheriff Paul Babeu

The controversy which surrounded some key phrases has prompted the Governor to make swift amendments to the law in order to clarify certain points.

The first concerned the phrase “lawful contact.”  The bill stated: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency…where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person…”

Drafters of the law sought to explain that  “lawful contact” was in regard to specific situations where police may have stopped someone suspected of violating, for example, a traffic stop. On the other hand, the critics argued it would allow them to pick someone out of a crowd and “demand their papers.”

In the amended version the lawmakers have replaced “lawful contact” with “lawful stop, detention or arrest,” and explained that the change “stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

The second concerned the word “solely.”  To safeguard against racial profiling, the law included the phrase, “The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.”  Critics objected to that and noted that it would not prevent but instead lead to racial profiling. Hence, the word “solely” has been removed from the law.

In another part of the law which used  “solely” and stated that “A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.” Given the clear limitation of actions to those allowed by the Constitution,  that remained unchanged.

A few more changes were also made to reduce some penalties, add smaller fines and shorter jail terms.

As the controversy deepened, Paul Babeu, Sheriff of Pinal Count, Arizona, said he and his department supported the new law.

In a live interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren he said crime was literally off the charts in Arizona. “We have some of the highest crime statistics in America, where officers are being assaulted, officer-involved shootings, carjackings, home invasions. Literally in the absence of federal action, our state is now taking action. And it’s a welcomed action and step by us who serve in law enforcement.”

He insisted that the police would apply the law without profiling anyone.

Rabbi Birnbaum to Congressman Israel

Posted by admin On April - 21 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

“Be strong and of good courage”

The following letter is a response from Rabbi Moses Birnbaum to Congressman Steve Israel’s  public statement to the Congress Committee showing his support for the US-Israel relationship and crackdown on Iran.

Dear Representative Israel:

With all due respect, I find your response to the recent ominous actions and words of the Obama administration regarding the State of Israel, underwhelming.

Rabbi Moses Birnbaum

Based on reports published in the New York Times and the Washington Post, it seems clear that what the administration is orchestrating is a full-blown policy change and not merely a dust-up between two friends. Even more disturbing is that, according to JINSA, all Israeli requests for weaponry upgrades have been denied since Obama took office.

I would have hoped that your response and those of your colleagues in Congress, would have been more proportional to the magnitude of this sea change in policy. With his desire to put “daylight” between the United States and the State of Israel, Pres. Obama is sowing a strategy in the wind that risks, God forbid, harvesting a whirlwind. This misguided course, supported by the the likes of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, will not only succeed in endangering Israel”s existential security, which is bad enough, but will also send a message to the world that our friends cannot rely on us and our foes need not fear us.

I urge you to be strong and of good courage and to speak the to speak truth to power, especially to the leader of your party.

Rabbi Moses A. Birnbaum
Plainview, Long Island, New York

IsraelLogoJust a quick update you on what I have been doing in Washington to support the US-Israel relationship and crack down on Iran.

Pushing the Obama Administration to reduce tensions– I was among the first Members of Congress to express public concern over the flare-up following the Vice President’s visit to Israel. As I articulated in aJerusalem Post article, the Administration needs to handle these concerns privately and defuse policy disagreements with Israel without unnecessary drama. There is too much at stake to let private disagreements among close friends become public.

My new strategy in the Appropriations Committee to enforce Iran Sanctions – I’ve always taken a hard line with the Administration on enforcement of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, but it was revealed in a New York Times analysis that the US government has awarded $107 billion in contract payments and grants over the past decade to companies that have done business in Iran. Although new and stronger Iran sanctions legislation is smart and necessary, and I am proud to support these efforts, I’m convinced that we to do even more to bring meaningful change to the status quo with regards to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. I’m determined to use my seat on the Appropriations Committee to find additional tools to help approach this problem. I questioned Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operation and expressed my outrage of the Administration’s profound failure to enforce sanctions against Iran, as reported in the Washington Jewish Week. Now, I am trying to include language in every single appropriations bill that the Congress passes that will require any company worldwide to certify to the federal government that they don’t have any interests in Iran before they get a single dollar of U.S. taxpayer funding. This will be the strongest effort yet to combat this problem, and I am proud to lead it.

Speaking up to Petraeus in person, and on the record– I publicly objected to comments attributed to General Petraeus that seemed to place the burden of peace in the Middle East solely on Israel’s shoulders. I addressed his remarks with him when he appeared before my appropriations subcommittee and then I flew to CENTCOM in Florida to speak privately with him shortly after that hearing. Following my conversation with him, I’m pleased that he corrected the record by publically acknowledging that many Arab states refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist and making other supportive statements.
Remembering the Holocaust– On April 15, 2010, I participated as one of six Members of Congress in a Capitol ceremony for Days of Remembrance, an observance to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

Lending support to key Iran sanctions legislation– I am a proud co-sponsor of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009, a bill that would amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to enhance US diplomatic efforts with Iran by expanding economic sanctions. I am also a co-sponsor of the Iran Sanction’s Enable Act of 2009, a bill that authorizes state and local government to strip investment from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20 million or more in Iran’s energy sector.

Working in Committee to Fully Fund Military Aid to Israel – As a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I have and will continue to fully support providing Israel with security assistance. This year I am leading efforts to increase Israel’s foreign military financing by $250 million.

I am a proud to be a leader on issues of importance between the U.S. and Israel and will continuing this leadership regardless of which political party occupies the White House. My conviction stems from the belief that a strong Israel is key to a secure America.

This is a crucial time in the region, especially given Iran’s march toward nuclear arms, and I will continue to work to fight for a strong and secure Israeli state.

Paid for by Steve Israel for Congress Committee
PO Box 777
Deer Park, NY 11729

US Cancel Visas

Posted by admin On April - 20 - 2010 4 COMMENTS

Drug Lord in the Center of US-Jamaica Tiff

In spite of assurances by acting American ambassador to Jamaica Isiah Parnell that the rowing between Washington and Kingston over the extradition of alleged Jamaican drug don Christopher “Dudus” Coke would not affect diplomatic relations, Jamaicans believe otherwise, especially since US visas for dancehall singers Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Mavado, Aidonia and a selector, Ricky Trooper were suddenly cancelled without reason last week.

Isiah Parnell (Photo courtesy Caribbean Life website)

The Jamaican singers are five of the Caribbean’s top entertainers and perform at numerous venues in the United States during the summer months. Jamaicans believe the cancellation of the visas was a backlash of the ongoing row over alleged delaying tactics in extraditing Coke to America.

Washington believes that Golding has been using every obstacle possible to keep Coke in Jamaica. He even insisted that a local court hear America’s extradition request for Coke to to be sent to the United States to face international drug trafficking charges. Golding accused the U.S. of breaking Jamican law by illegally wiretapping Coke’s telephone conversations. He said it was a breach of local laws. Information from the wiretap will be part of the key evidence in the case against Coke.

Prior to that Golding had publicly stated that his administration would allow the courts to rule on the  matter and determine Coke’s  punishment based on his alleged crime. Coke’s late father once headed the notorious Jamaican -led “Shower Posse,” drug organisation in the US.

It is alleged that Coke, who is from West Kingston sometimes run the underworld in Tivoli Gardens which is represented by Golding in Parliament.