Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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What Is Wrong in Charlottesville?

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Charlottesville Chief of Police Longo photo TimorthyJLongoSr_zpse17850a9.jpgThere was a moment during Charlottesville Chief of Police Longo's press conference on Friday that was telling. It wasn't about the Hannah Graham case. It was about commercial media. A reporter asked why two recent Charlottesville sexual assaults hadn't been in the news. Turns out, the press wasn't interested enough.

Chief Longo pulled out the morning briefings that detailed the cases. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? We finally have the answer: not if it requires any investment or effort by local reporters; even those who feign an interest in women's issues. "News"paper and electronic media staff have come to rely upon the kindness of plagiarism: press releases, internet bloggers, and wire services. They are more interested in the flavor of the day. Like beagles, they are easily distracted by any scent. Have you seen any follow-up reporting about the scheduled arraignment of Charlottesville Delegate Toscano's wife's assailant just last Wednesday? NBC 29 updated a story from 18 August for the second time. In case you missed it, well here it is: the case has been continued; again until 10 Oct.

By now you may be wondering of it is open season on women in Charlottesville. Republicans would undoubtedly deny any such characterization. But, what is it? Four women gone missing in five years? Not a single one of those cases solved? Some may argue that is statistically insignificant. Others might wonder if there is or are (a) serial offender(s) that have found sanctuary. In fact they may wonder why these cases have been so frustrating and if they are, in effect, actually closed.

There was something else about Chief Longo's press conference. Someone should ask if he was calling for vigilante action when he intimated someone else should reveal the identity of a person the police interviewed (acting seemingly out of frustration). So I may. I have the name of a person matching the description of the person who owned that orange car who resides at the address of the search. It was not difficult to determine. So what is it Longo wants from me or anyone else with the same information. And why hasn't the commercial "press" sniffed this person out? Frankly, that is Chief Longo's job...not that of a mob.

All of this is disconcerting.  

Requiring Migrants to Drive Unlicensed and Uninsured

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In the heyday of terrorism paranoia, the Virginia General Assembly changed the requirements for obtaining a driver's license. All House and Senate patrons were Republicans. They made proof of legal presence a requirement. Many Democrats were cowed into supporting this. The unintended consequences are apparent now; change the law!

While the grander issues of separating families through deportation, comprehensive immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and in-state tuition are terribly important, the day-to-day practical issue of transportation that allows migrants to support themselves and their families is most immediate for laborers. In many cases, persons whose status allows them to legally remain in the United States are prohibited from obtaining licenses under Virginia law.

"How, if you are allowed to work, are you not able to drive to work?" - Joseph Montano, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia

The consequences on a personal level are devastating. Virginians still in high school, working to support their families, end up taking court docket time, missing school, and paying fines that are doubly punitive. Teachers who take an interest in the welfare of their students often accompany them on their own time in an effort to provide at least support and some counsel. Out of necessity, many end up repeat offenders. Further, being responsible, they make an effort to follow the law by acquiring insurance. But as anyone who has experience in the shadows knows, there is only street justice there. Who knows if these often more expensive policies are even in force?

The Quest for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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What a difference a year makes. This time last year there was a sense that comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level may happen in some form. It would be sweeping and, like any compromise, not exactly what everyone wanted. Now we have something worse: only the noise of recrimination.

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) met last year to map out the values and principles held by Virginians and provide a voice to Congress. But now what since reform appears dead in the water? Well, during the Obama administration, more than 2 million mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children have been deported; more deportations than in any previous administration. That number is hard to wrap your head around and does not convey the individual personal tragedies involved. For example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports 72,410 of those deported said that they had one or more U.S. born children. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens, then, have had their parents deported. So the VACIR has changed its tact and directed its energy toward pressuring the Obama administration to act since the House of Representatives has failed in its responsibilities. They are also looking at ways state legislators can address the issues.

11% of Virginians were born outside the United States. They, like all Virginians, need the tools and opportunities necessary to build strong families, healthy communities, and a culturally and economically thriving Virginia. For now VACIR is focused on four key areas:

Where do we even begin with Federal reform? The well is poisoned. I will disclose that my bias on this matter begins and ends with the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, Simpson-Mazzoli, and close personal experiences with immigration and naturalization. Some 3 million immigrants were granted amnesty in 1986. That is the precedent that those who are angry should focus on when crying about today's "failed policies." And the fact is that the reason for the current flood is not anything President Obama has done but a more pedestrian cause: it's the economy stupid; the economy in Honduras, El Salvador and the rest of Central and South America. Places where we meddled, then abandoned; the spawn of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy abetted by Ollie North and "company."

DACA’s Two Year Anniversary

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Two years ago following Congress's failure to pass the DREAM Act, President Obama issued an executive order providing some residents who arrived as children the ability to openly participate in and contribute to the economy. This is no free pass and not a path to citizenship. It deals with reality.

This anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) marks the beginning of a new cycle for its beneficiaries. This is a discretionary grant of relief from the threat of removal for a term of two years. The significance of that term today is that the first set of applicants are now in the window for renewal. Because it is not a permanent status, renewal applicants receive the same scrutiny as they did when first applying. Renewal is neither automatic nor certain in the long term. In the short term it assures the simple dignity of acknowledged existence.

For Virginians who achieve this status, there are three significant benefits that confer beyond blocking removal for a term. First, they can legally work. They receive a social security number. Next it provides the status required to obtain a driver's license even with the punitive Virginia statute establishing absurd presence requirements. And, almost two years after the status was established, thanks to an opinion by Attorney General Mark Herring, they may attend college as in-state residents.  

ICE Detention Orders – Undermining Public Safety

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is an unreliable partner that crafted an unauthorized and unfunded detention mandate woven from the whole cloth of anti-immigrant bias to the detriment of local communities. It is time to focus on what local communities do well and wash local hands of this mess.

Joseph Montano attempted to clear up the confusion about responsibilities of state and local jurisdictions and the liabilities associated with ICE detainers yesterday, addressing the Central Virginia Regional Meeting of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights in Charlottesville. Cooperation with ICE has the unintended consequence of eroding public safety while redirecting funding from other public functions.

ICE detainers are requests to local law enforcement to hold the person in the request for up to 48 hours. Discretion to enforce those requests rests with local law enforcement. There is no legal requirement to comply with them. But there has been a complete disconnect between federal and local officials.

This morning I was looking up local websites and on the Arlington County website I was looking at their frequently asked questions with detainers. ... on their website there's a question "Can Arlington elect not to honor and immigration detainer issued by ICE?" And the answer to that said "No. All state and local officials are required by federal law to honor ICE detainers." - Joe Montano; Virginia ACLU

ICE detention requests do not provide a basis for retention on their own. They are often issued by a lone ICE officer without due process, without review, and without a judicial warrant. Their sole purpose is to investigate whether a person has committed a civil immigration offense. Detaining a person after they're eligible for release without probable cause is a violation of the 4th Amendment. Further, responding to these requests is fairly expansive. By responding to these requests, local law enforcement is acting as a proxy for federal enforcement without reimbursement for the period until ICE assumes actual custody. Not only does the local jurisdiction assume the burden of that cost, it also assumes liability for potential damages from lawsuits over wrongful imprisonment.

Charlottesville Immigrant Rights Meeting Saturday

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Virginia State Capitol photo 140624VirginiaCapitol_zps048c3af0.jpg The newly formed Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is a coalition of organizations working to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. This Saturday it is inviting local leaders and organizations from the Central Virginia area, including Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, to a regional meeting in Charlottesville.

At the organizational meeting a range of immigrant advocacy issues of importance to Virginia's immigrant communities will be discussed:

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the Federal Level
  • Access to Driver's Licenses
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and In-State Tuition
  • ICE Detainers and Local Immigrant Detention Policy
  • Other issues of concern

Advanced registration is required. To attend the event held from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM at the Church of the Incarnation Parish Activity Center, 1465 Incarnation Dr, Charlottesville, VA 22901, REGISTER HERE.

The Steering Committee of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) includes the following organizations:

  • Legal Aid Justice Center;
  • Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy;
  • Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations;
  • Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia;
  • Virginia New Majority;
  • League of United Latin American Citizens;
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia;
  • Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Policy;
  • Shirlington Employment and Education Center;
  • National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.

VACIR is organizing advocates and activities throughout Virginia as it works towards its goals. A flyer for the event is available here.

Obama coming to Charlottesville for Perriello

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the word came out on an email blast from the RTD.   Their website has this brief piece on it

Obama will be there on Friday.  

A White House official confirmed the president's plans but did not have further details.

It is quite unusual for the President to make this kind of trip for only one Congressional district.  I wonder if this is in conjunction with other stops that day.  

If nothing else, it confirms how important Perriello's seat is.  Tom has already had events with Arne Duncan and Tom Vilsack, a telephone event with George Miller, and as a freshman got onto transportation and infrastructure.  We always knew this would be a battle.

Hopefully the President's presence will energize the young people and serve also to help maximize African-American turnout in the district.

UPDATE by Lowell: According to reporter Adam Rhew, "Perriello campaign announces congressman will be on Colbert Report tomorrow night."