Left In Lowell

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April 20, 2007

The In-State Tuition Measure Revisited

by at 4:07 pm.

The “in-state tuition” issue for undocumented residents is back on the table.

According to yesterday’s Boston Globe, ‘the [Massachusetts] Board of Higher Education gave its stamp of approval Thursday to a document that looks favorably on legislation to let illegal immigrant students pay in-state tuition at state colleges.”

Last January, Massachusetts lawmakers defeated a measure that would have allowed undocumented residents of our state to pay the same tuition rate as other residents. (more…)

March 9, 2007

Great Editorial!

by at 5:29 pm.

If you have not yet read today’s Lowell Sun’s editorial on the raid on undocumented immigrants in New Bedford this week, please do so.

In the past, I have disagreed with the Sun’s editorial position on many issues but they should be commended for reminding Lowell that the “complicated problem of illegal immigration” has a face—“hundreds of tear-stained, panic-striken” women in this case.

But more importantly, they are advancing a rational solution by stating that this “incident highlights the critical need for reform of our fractured immigration system” and they agree with Senator Ted Kennedy’s approach to reform. The paper is advocating that “a system be created that will put illegal immigrants who are otherwise lawful residents on the path to legal status.” (more…)

September 15, 2006

Gabrieli Caught Pandering

by at 2:18 pm.

What else do you call it when a candidate uses robocalls and other media to attack an opponent on an issue on which he’s not really strongly against?

David lays it out for us: despite Gabrieli’s supposed stance against the immigrant tuition bill which failed this past year, and his use of that issue to attack Patrick and Reilly, who are for it, he apparently isn’t really against it. David quotes the Globe:

Just a month ago, on Aug. 15, Chris Gabrieli told Globe editors he did not feel strongly about the issue of giving favorable in-state tuitions to illegal immigrants seeking to attend UMass and other public colleges. While he wouldn’t propose it, Gabrieli said, “I never say I’m actually against it.” If the Legislature approved it, he added, “I have not said I’d veto it.”

Okay…but that doesn’t sound like the Gabrieli campaign when they sent out this robocall. But I love this part:

His rationale: “I wish those kids would get the education, and I do feel they’re caught in between.” But there is a political problem for Democrats, he added. “Putting that out on our forehead is some kind of suicide impulse” suggesting that “our priority is to fund a group of kids whose parents are here illegally.”

So, Chris, you’d rather pander to the public, ignoring how you really feel, than stand up for your principles, in order to win? Sounds an awful lot like Kerry, to me. And he lost what should have been a cakewalk election. (Sure, there was fraud, but the election had to be really close for the fraud to work.)

I’ve said before that Gabrieli should be ashamed for cynically using a hot-button issue in order to win votes, especially since he bills himself the “education” candidate. Now I think he should be doubly ashamed for pandering to the voters on an issue while not telling the truth about his own stance on it.

Some part of me, by the way, wonders if this fake “stand” Gabrieli took against the immigrant tuition bill was one of the factors in his favor with the Sun editorial board. Just, you know, wonderin’.

April 1, 2006

The Republican Ploy We All Fell For

by at 10:40 am.

There are moments in your political life when you hit yourself in the forehead and say, “d’oh! We’ve all been punked.” It took my husband to point it out to me, which is why I married him - he’s an incredibly smart man and independent thinker.

Last night I drove in to take the T to Boston to meet Chris after work. We had a lovely date night. On the red line home, the conversation (as it nearly always does) turns political. The topic? What everyone is talking about, of course. The current immigration debate.

The car was relatively full and even though we were talking privately, a man across the aisle overheard us and butted in. His rant was as loud and clear as only a hot-button issue could provoke. Something about how white people can’t immigrate into Mexico and get a job so why should they come here or some junk. I really tuned him out quick - not because he disagreed with me, but because he sort of scared me with his belligerence.

For a few days now, Chris has been increasingly annoyed with the immigration debate. He calls it the latest Republican ploy we Democrats have all fallen for, even on liberal talk radio and the blogs (including mine). He listens to Ed Schultz and thinks, stop doing their dirty work. Because he came to realize what we all should have seen immediately: with their hopes of retaining Congressional power falling with Bush’s sagging poll numbers, the Republicans have come up with their cult-base-rallying-cry for 2006: ‘dem damn immigrants. Immigrants are the new gay marriage.

The man on the red line demonstrated perfectly how well this works as a divisive issue for the Republicans.

Chris asks, what, did we suddenly wake up this week and realize there was an immigration crisis? That suddenly there’s 11 million illegals and now they are the main number one problem in America? That conservatives in states across the nation including New England (the furthest away from the Mexico border) suddenly discovered that illegal immigrants were taking food from their family’s mouths? No. The Republicans, having played out many of their other bogymen, now need someone else to point the finger at so their hardline base can keep blaming people other than their own leadership for their stagnant wages, “moral decay,” and bad governance. Defense of Marriage Acts have already been passed in many states, and so therefore how are they going to get their raving voters to the polls?

For a while, I thought it was Hollywood and the culture wars that they wanted to use, with all the hubbub about fines and new regulations on TV and radio. But it’s a bad play, because just as many, or more, “values voters” enjoy Desperate Housewives. In the end, entertainment trumps moralistic preachiness after all.

So immigrants it is, then. Dominate the news with that “sudden crisis”; never mind that another DeLay aid copped a plea of guilty in the Abramoff scandal. Ignore that Abramoff himself got 6 years for his plea and it’s said he’s singing like a bird. Forget that the infamous Debt Clock in Times Square is going to be in need of another digit, it’s going up faster than anyone expected. Or that former FISA judges indicated that Bush’s wiretapping program is unconstitutional. Lots of big things happened this week, but all the talking heads talk about is immigration. Lou Dobbs must be in heaven.

The Republicans play their base like a master concert pianist. They lead the debate, and us, by the nose, and panting, we follow. We are led right into the trap they’ve set for us.

I’ve begun reading Mark Crispin Miller’s Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them). Yes, the title seems alarmist and reactionary, but the evidence cited in just the first chapter is chilling. Maybe there isn’t some grand conspiracy of the Right to steal elections; but the use of a riled-up fanatical base is key to the many election irregularities that went on in Ohio and many other states. (The other key was lots of money.)

When people say “this is like red meat to their base,” it’s taken as a mild form of pandering by politicians to make their voters happy. When I picture this phrase now, I see drooling, growling hounds fighting and tearing into the meat like feral wolves. Then showing up at the polls with blood dripping from their mouths.

Please, please, let’s stop doing the Republicans job for them. On liberal talk radio, in Congress, on blogs. Let’s talk about the issues voters really should be angry and emotional about - not the concocted specter the Republicans are using as their most vicious tool.

January 22, 2006

F. Bradford Morse

by at 10:40 am.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell has set up a $1 million endowment fund in the name of F. Bradford Morse to promote international affairs, global understanding and peace. The majority of those living in Greater Lowell today may not have heard of this man.

He was born in Lowell in the early 20s and went to college and law school after serving in the army in World War II. He died in 1994 after a distinguished career as a public servant.

He served as Director of the U.N. Development Program; he was Deputy Administrator of Veterans Affairs; he was Congressman from the 5th Middlesex District and he was a former Lowell City Councilman. Lowell should be extremely proud of this man.

But it is what he did in 1965 for a family of (documented) immigrants living in Lowell that stands out for me. The family had been in this country for a little bit more than a year and their grandmother had arrived with a tourist visa to spend some time with them. They did not have a single political connection but Morse who heard of the family’s situation through a social worker who assisted immigrants, introduced a bill to grant this grandmother a permanent visa which Congress approved.

This gesture was done occasionally by all House members to help out their constituency. But I wonder how much grief a congressman would receive these days from the anti-immigration element in this country if he stepped up and did the right thing?

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