Skip to comments.2008 In Review: Immigration grabbed fewer headlines
Posted on 01/05/2009 1:57:42 PM PST by BGHater
Issue hardly earned mention during presidential campaign
There were no mass protests on the streets of North County or heated congressional hearings in Washington, but that doesn't mean the perennially controversial subject of illegal immigration did not grab headlines here and at the national level in 2008.
Local immigrant rights activists criticized driver's license checkpoints as traps in Escondido.
The San Diego Minutemen, a North County-based anti-illegal immigration group, successfully sued the state to keep its name on a highway sign.
And immigrant workers weathered an economic storm that has led some to think hard about going home for good.
But after the fever-pitch rhetoric of recent years, the presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John McCain, R-Ariz., largely ignored the issue on the campaign trail and in their debates.
What few comments the candidates did make on immigration came in July during a national Latino rights conference in San Diego.
It was not in their best interest to raise the subject because they both supported a bill that would have legalized millions of illegal immigrants two years ago, some analysts said.
"They did not want to alienate the voters that they were trying to win," said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that lobbies for tighter immigration enforcement.
Another reason may have been that the economic crisis overshadowed nearly every other subject, others said.
"I do think that had it not been for the financial crisis, the immigration issue would have resonated more," said Pedro Rios, San Diego director of the American Friends Service Committee, a group that advocates for immigrant rights.
Though the candidates did not mention the issue, U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said there were some advances in 2008 against illegal immigration.
Bilbray noted the stepped-up enforcement at work sites across the country, including a sting operation at an Iowa meat-packing plant that netted nearly 400 suspected illegal immigrants in May.
But more needs to be done, such as prosecuting more employers for hiring illegal immigrants, said Bilbray, who heads the Immigration Reform Caucus, a group of members of Congress that favors stricter immigration controls.
"If you are going to get serious about illegal immigration, you are going to have to go after the employer," Bilbray said. "If you are not going to prosecute when people are caught red-handed, you are not going to solve the problem."
Out of work
Largely because San Diego County is so close to the U.S.-Mexico border, illegal immigration has long been a controversial topic here.
Thousands of migrants illegally cross the border through the region each year, although it's one of the most heavily fortified areas in the country, with double fencing along much of the county's border with Mexico.
There are no hard figures, but a 2006 study estimated that about 272,000 illegal immigrants were living in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.
The study did not break down the population by county.
Many of them settle in the area to work in the hospitality, agriculture and construction industries.
Those were among the industries most affected by the slumping economy, leaving many illegal immigrants out of steady employment in 2008.
As early as April, immigrant workers in Escondido said they were experiencing a marked drop in work.
Many who once held steady jobs in construction and other industries found themselves competing for fewer and fewer jobs as day laborers.
"There's no money. There's no work," said a 52-year-old Guatemalan man, who stood on the street in Escondido one morning in April.
The day laborers have been a point of contention in many communities across North County, particularly in Escondido.
The city has been trying to sweep groups of predominantly Latino men off its sidewalks in recent years, including issuing tickets for minor infractions, such as jaywalking, in an attempt to chase them away.
Members of the City Council have tried pushing for stricter measures against illegal immigrant day laborers, drivers and those who rent housing.
Those efforts were dealt a setback in the Nov. 4 election, when Escondido voters ousted Ed Gallo, one of the council's most outspoken anti-illegal immigration voices.
Gallo lost his seat to Olga Diaz, a Latina Democrat who opposed many of the proposals aimed at illegal immigrants.
Her win breaks the narrow majority held by those who were responsible for those efforts, council members Gallo, Marie Waldron and Sam Abed.
The three council members led a failed fight in 2006 to impose a ban on renting to illegal immigrants.
They also proposed an overnight parking ban, which was seen by some as anti-immigrant, but which has yet to be approved.
They also led plans to create an ordinance restricting day laborers, which has not been fleshed out.
No license, no car
Although Escondido lost the lawsuit defending its ban on renting to illegal immigrants, the city was handed a legal victory in September when a federal judge allowed the city to continue impounding cars for 30 days if drivers are caught without a license.
In recent years, the Escondido has strictly enforced a state law that allows cities to impound cars for 30 days.
Civil rights attorneys sued the state and several municipalities, arguing that the impound policy amounted to an unconstitutional seizure of private property.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the law was necessary to protect the health and safety of Californians.
Bill Flores, a spokesman for El Grupo, an umbrella group of civil rights organizations in the county, said Escondido's policies, including frequent checkpoints to catch unlicensed drivers, had earned it a reputation for being among the most staunchly anti-illegal immigrant cities in the country.
"It seems like the anti-immigrant sentiment is focused in pockets, in places that seem to be in the extreme right ---- like Escondido," Flores said.
Minutemen sign stays
In another legal victory for opponents of illegal immigration, the San Diego Minutemen successfully sued the California Department of Transportation for attempting to keep the anti-illegal immigration group out of the state's Adopt-a-Highway cleanup program.
The group sued Caltrans in February after the agency revoked its permit to pick up trash along a 2-mile stretch of Interstate 5, near the U.S. Border Patrol's San Clemente checkpoint.
Immigrant rights groups objected to the Minutemen's presence there, and Caltrans officials said they feared confrontations and other problems.
The agency offered to move the activists to a remote location near Santee, but the group rejected that offer.
Judge William Q. Hayes said in June that there was "little, if any, evidence" that the sign would endanger the public.
The Minutemen's Adopt-A-Highway sign on the shoulder of northbound Interstate 5 north of Oceanside and south of the Border Patrol checkpoint.
Not the wrong issue, rather a case of the wrong candidate for that issue.
Illegal immigrations was one of George Bush’s greatest failure. McCain would have been the same as Bush. Obama will be even worse. The role played by 20-30 million illegals in the current mess is highly significant. It fed the whole housing sector frenzy in so many ways it’s near impossible to list them.
That's normal when the love fest between the Democrat and the Democrat lite is in bloom.
“Illegal immigrations was one of George Bushs greatest failure. McCain would have been the same as Bush. Obama will be even worse. The role played by 20-30 million illegals in the current mess is highly significant. It fed the whole housing sector frenzy in so many ways its near impossible to list them.”
You are so right. Reminds me of a post a year or so ago showing what 20 million illegal aliens really looks like.
Conversation with a Senator -What does AMNESTY look like?
My NEXT phone call to Senators Voinovich and Brown:
Hello, My name is Kimberly ..... and I would like to leave a message for Senator......
Oh, its you, again (Im just waiting for THAT response!)
Yes, its me...Id like to know if Senator Voinovich is aware that there are far more than 12 million illegal aliens in this country already and it is clear that our governments use of that number is entirely meant to mislead the public.
Is that your message?.
Yes, I resent continuing to be treated as if Im stupid. Apparently our Senators arent aware that Homeland Security has reported that 10 million illegal aliens entered the country just last year alone?
No. Actually, it isnt...Id also like you to give this message to Senator V. as well, so please take this down....Senator V., are you aware that according to the 2000 census, 18,785,867 was the total populations combined of Wyoming, Dist of Columbia, Vermont,...are you writing this down?
Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Delaware.
Is there more
Yes. Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and New Hampshire. Are you still writing this down?
Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virgina, New Mexico AND AND Nevada.
Now, can you read that message back to me, Id like to make certain that before Senator Voinovich passes AMNESTY for illegal aliens, that he knows EXACTLY the extent to which he is destroying this country.
Go ahead, Im listening....
According to the 2000 census, 18,785,867 is the total populations combined of Wyoming, Dist. of Columbia, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico and Nevada.
THINK about that.
Basically what were talking about is building infrastructure on demand for the population of at LEAST 17 STATES!
You know all those jobs everyone keeps saying only aliens will do? We wouldnt need to supply the JOBS if we didnt have the ALIENS! Its them were building schools, houses, clinics, Mosques, MEXICAN consulates on and on for. And there is about enough of them working agriculture to produce some of the food they eat.
Any one who says 20 plus million people is not a drain on your resources is hopelessly corrupt! But it wont be only 20 million, it will result in 80 million if other amnesties show us anything.
No suprises here. Most people just are not that concerned about limiting immigration as demonstrated by the nomination of two pro-immigration candidates in last year’s election.
For it to “grab” headlines would require a media interested in reporting. Instead they were swooning over the liberals in the presidential election.
Lets see how few headlines it grabs when they try forcing amnesty down our throats again.