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Guest Post: Copple Trout’s early retirement reflects her contempt for voter choice

May 31st, 2007 by Halli

The following editorial by Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance appeared in the May 27 Idaho Statesman

According to Idaho Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout, ordinary Idahoans “don’t know how to make a choice on who would make a good judge.” This is oddly insulting to voters, for if Copple Trout is taken at her word, they didn’t know what they were doing when they returned her to the bench four times.

Copple Trout offered this elitist explanation for her decision to retire early, to avoid giving citizens the right to vote on her replacement. This is an astonishing admission of her part in a collaborative effort to do an end run around the Idaho Constitution, which she swore to uphold and which says unmistakably that, “The justices of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the electors of the state.”

According to Randy Stapilus of the Ridenbaugh Press, since 1950 no less than 68 percent of Idaho Supreme Court justices initially reached the bench through appointment rather than election.

Ostensibly, Copple Trout is retiring early because each judicial election has turned into a “popularity contest.” But the selection of her replacement may be just that, with the process now in the hands of the appointed Idaho Judicial Council rather than the people. The edge is likely to go to candidates who have done their best to become well-liked members of the clubby judicial establishment.

Chief Justice Gerald Schroeder is also retiring early, apparently sharing Copple Trout’s disdain for the electoral process. When the Idaho Values Alliance sent a questionnaire to all 19 candidates for his seat, not one came back.

This despite the fact that all 20 “agree/disagree” statements in the questionnaire were lifted virtually verbatim from the Idaho Constitution. Thus the alliance was doing nothing more than asking these candidates whether they agreed with the very document they are prepared to take a solemn and sacred oath to uphold.

This means either that the candidates did not recognize the constitution when they saw it, or did recognize it but were unwilling to let the public know whether they agree with it.

Remarkably, the Idaho Statesman, which clearly didn’t recognize the state constitution either, accused the alliance’s questionnaire of being “heavy-handed” and nothing more than a “gimmick,” “cynically” designed to “buttonhole the hopefuls on wedge issues such as gay marriage, eminent domain and gun ownership.”

Well, if the Statesman’s editors consider these “wedge issues,” their problem is not with the alliance but with the Idaho Constitution.

Current Justice Dan Eismann filled out a much more extensive questionnaire than ours when he ran against an incumbent in 2000, while his opponent did not. The public so appreciated his candor and his convictions they elected him 59 percent to 41 percent. In other words, Idahoans do in fact know how to choose good judges. They just need adequate information.

Eismann’s example shows that it is absurd for candidates to hide behind the conceit that it is inappropriate for potential judges to give the public information about their judicial philosophy because it might compromise future rulings.

Imagine league officials interviewing a prospective umpire. “Will you faithfully enforce the rules of baseball?” “Of course.” “What about the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule?” “Well, I can’t comment on that because I might actually have to call a game someday.” It’s no less ridiculous when a prospective judge says he will uphold the whole constitution but refuses to commit to upholding its parts. But in the judge’s case, the stakes are far higher.

Perhaps the day will come when the information blackout that shrouds this process is lifted, but apparently – with the Idaho Statesman reinforcing the cone of silence – that day is not today.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Property Rights | No Comments »

Summary of Senator Sessions’ Floor Speech Against Bill Providing Amnesty for Illegal Aliens

May 30th, 2007 by Halli

The following is a brief summary of Senator Sessions’ speech given on the floor of the US Senate regarding problems with the illegal alien amnesty bill. For greater detail, read the Senator’s full remarks.

*earned income credit paid to illegal aliens given amnesty will cost $29 billion over 10 years

*10-20 years out, welfare benefits for illegal aliens given amnesty will cost $50-60 billion per year

*based on the 1986 illegal alien amnesty program, 50% more illegals than estimated will apply for amnesty now

*“Temporary Guest Workers” are transformed into permanent residents by language in bill

*family members of amnesty receivers are not required to demonstrate mental health or that they have no communicable disease

*an alien who has worked for as little as 150 hours in agriculture over the last 2 years will qualify for amnesty, or the “blue card”

*unlike most American workers, blue card holders can only be fired “for cause”

*the AgJOBS amendment pays not only for arbitrators, but also for free legal counsel to illegal aliens who want to receive this amnesty.

*a blue card holder, or temporary worker, becomes eligible for a green card by working a minimum of 1 day every 2 months

*“Grounds of inadmissability” have been changed to allow illegal aliens who were already removed from the United States and illegally reentered to receive legal status

*the alien’s “sworn declaration” must be accepted as evidence that the alien has met the amnesty’s work requirement, without further proof

*all illegal aliens enrolled in college will receive in-state tuition rates while American citizens will continue to pay out-of-state tuition to attend college outside their home state

*regarding Federal financial aid for illegal aliens attending college, while the Pell grants provision was removed from the bill, Stafford student loans and work study remains in

*illegal aliens who broke our laws by entering the United States and who have left and returned illegally perhaps multiple times still qualify for this amnesty.

*employers must prove that they made good-faith efforts to recruit U.S. workers before they can hire a temporary worker, but as defined on page 263 of the bill, a “U.S. worker” includes not only citizens, but also legal alien workers. And, amazingly, it also includes aliens who are “otherwise authorized under this act to be employed in the United States.” American workers are NOT protected.

*Recipients of amnesty must pay back taxes for only 3 of the last 5 years (and they choose which 3), but only after the IRS proves what they owe (nearly impossible task, especially for work done “off the books”)

*required background checks of applicants for amnesty must be performed within 90 days, but this will prove next to impossible to achieve

*if a federal agent is found to have accepted a fraudulent application for amnesty, he will be fined $10,000, while the applicant only paid $2000 to apply. The result? No application will ever be investigated.

*employers will not be required to pay back taxes on illegal aliens, giving them a possibly huge advantage over law-abiding employers

*illegal aliens who apply for amnesty (and their families) cannot be deported, detained, etc. until their applications are processed, guaranteeing them years of protection in the US, even if they do not, in the end, qualify for amnesty

*the $2000 “fine”, or fee, required to apply for amnesty is not due for 8-10 years after application is made by the illegal alien, and may never be paid at all.

Senator Sessions concluded his remarks with this comment:

It is clear the people who drafted this legislation had an agenda and the agenda was not to meet the expectations of the American people. The agenda was to create a facade and appearance of enforcement, an appearance of toughness in some instances. When you get into the meat of the provisions and get into the bill and study it, tucked away here and there are laws that eviscerate and eliminate the real effectiveness of those provisions. It was carefully done and deliberately done. This is a bill that should not become law. It is a bill that will come back to be an embarrassment to our Members who have supported it.

Read Senator Sessions’ full speech.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Taxes | 4 Comments »

Guest Post: Senator Jeff Sessions on Immigration Reform

May 30th, 2007 by Halli

A reader requested that we post this statement in its entirety. Note the reference to Senator Larry Craig’s stand on illegal immigration. You may also read Halli’s summary of the remarks.

Senate Floor Statement of Senator Sessions

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I am going to take some time tonight to inform my colleagues about some of the problems with the legislation before us. It is worse than you think, colleagues. The legislation has an incredible number of problems with it. Some, as I will point out tonight, can only be considered deliberate. Whereas on the one hand it has nice words with good sounding phrases in it to do good things, on the second hand it completely eviscerates that, oftentimes in a way that only the most careful reading by a good lawyer would discover. So I feel like I have to fulfill my duty. I was on the Judiciary Committee. We went into this. We tried to monitor it and study it and actually read this 614-page bill, and I have a responsibility and I am going to fulfill my responsibility.

I think the things I am saying tonight ought to disturb people. They ought to be unhappy about it. It ought to make them consider whether they want to vote for this piece of legislation that, in my opinion, should never, ever become law.

I would also just point out I will be offering tomorrow, or soon, an amendment to deal with the earned-income tax credit situation that is raised by this legislation, focusing on the amnesty in the bill and what will happen after amnesty is granted, before they become a full citizen. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the earned-income tax credit will pay out to those who came into our country illegally $29 billion over 10 years. The earned-income tax credit has been on the books for some time. It is a good bit larger than most people think. The average recipient of it receives $1,700. Lowerincome people get a larger amount. Over half the people who we expect will receive amnesty are without a high school degree. They are receiving lower wages. They will be the ones who will particularly qualify for this. This is a score that has been given to us by the group that is supposed to score it–$29 billion will be paid out.

If they go all the way and become a citizen they will be entitled to this like any other citizen, and they will be entitled to get it under my amendment. But I do not believe we should award people who have entered our country illegally, submitted a false Social Security number, worked illegally–I do not believe we should reward them with $29 billion of the taxpayers’ money. That is a lot of money.

I will also be offering a budget point of order, I or one of my colleagues will, in the next day or so. We have been working on that. We asked for a report. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the budget point of order lies in the first 10 years of this bill. It also concludes that it lies under the long-term provisions of the budget points of order for expenditures in the outyears. They didn’t give us those numbers, but they said, without much work–they didn’t have to do much work–the numbers are going to be much worse in the outyears. It clearly would be a detriment to the Government and these figures would exceed the budget, and a budget point of order would lie.

At the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Robert Rector, who is the expert who dealt with welfare, studied this. He was the architect of welfare reform who has done so much to improve America’s welfare system and improve incomes for low-income families. It really worked beautifully. He was the architect of it. He says this bill represents the greatest increase in welfare in 35 years. With the provisions and benefits that will be in it, he estimates that year 10 through year 20, the cost could be $50 to $60 billion a year to the taxpayers because it takes some time for the people who are adjusting and becoming citizens and/or legal permanent residents to really begin to make the claims.

CBO admits the numbers are going to surge in the outyears. He says it is $50 billion a year. If that is so–and he is not exaggerating the numbers, because that is based solely on the amnesty provisions, not the provisions that will allow 3 times to 4 times as many people to come into the country legally in the next 20 years as come in today, and many of them will go on welfare because that whole system is not based on identifying people with skills and educational levels that would indicate they would be more than low-wage workers–so it could really be more than that. But $50 billion a year over 10 years is $500 billion. That is a half a trillion dollars, and that is why Mr. Rector said this legislation is a fiscal catastrophe. This is a man whose opinions and ideas and research this Congress, and particularly the Republicans, utilized to hammer away, time and time again, year after year, to get welfare reform.

It finally happened. It worked just like he said. The predictions of disaster made against his recommendations proved to be false.

He is saying that about this. So this is not a technical point of order. It represents an attempt to save the fiscal soundness of the budget of the United States.

I want to take some moments here to deal with some problems with the legislation. The American people are suspicious of us. They were promised in 1986, after years of urging the Government, the President and the Congress, promised to fix our borders and end illegal immigration. In exchange for that they acquiesced and went along with amnesty in 1986. They said there were a million, 2 million here who would claim it. It turned out 3 million claimed amnesty after 1986. That ought to give us some pause about the projections that we would have. We have 11 million people here now and only 8 or so will seek amnesty under it. That ought to give us some pause there. It may well be above the number.

So the American people are suspicious and they are dubious and they are watching us carefully, and they should. Let me tell you some of the things that are in the legislation that indicate a lack of respect for the American people, really. Some of these are some of the reasons I said the other day the Senate should be ashamed of itself, the way we are moving this bill.

My staff, working up some of these comments, came up with a title–maybe at my suggestion–“Sneaky Lawyer Tricks” that are in the bill. I will let you decide if that is a fair description of what is in it. I will go down through some of the matters that are important. There are others I could complain about for which we will not have time.

First, the legislation talks about title IV of the bill. That title IV of the

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bill defines the new H2-C program as a temporary guest worker program. Those are in big print in the bill: Temporary guest workers.

That sounds like a temporary worker, doesn’t it? It sounds like a guest, like somebody who stays in your bedroom for a weekend, a guest, temporary guest.

Interesting, section 408 sets out the temporary guest worker visa program task force. So a little further down it has what is called a temporary guest worker visa program task force. So you would think they are writing in this section, would you not, something about the task force. But this, down in that section, this task force establishes the number of H2C visas that may be issued annually and subsection (h) is where the writers of the bill hid the provision that actually transforms these so-called temporary workers into legal, permanent residents. OK? So all the big print, “temporary guest workers,” “temporary guest worker task force,” and then you read in that section down there that it effectively converts them from temporary workers to legal permanent residents, granting them a green card.

It is tucked away in a title that has nothing to do with substance of that matter. So I am pleased that my staff and others who have been reading the bill have discovered that. It wasn’t discovered early on in the process.

Family members of H-2C visa holder need not be healthy. Under current law, aliens must prove that they are admissible and meet certain health standards. Many times, visa applicants must have a medical exam to show that they do not have a communicable disease. They have to be up-to-date on immunizations, and cannot have mental disorders. Spouses and children of H-2C visa holders, however, are not required to have a medical exam before receiving a visa. I have an amendment to fix this that I hope is accepted.

The work requirement for a blue card can be satisfied in a matter of hours. Under the AgJOBS component of the substitute, illegal alien agricultural workers who have worked 150 “workdays” in agriculture over the last 2 years will receive a “blue card,” allowing them to live and work permanently in the U.S. However, because current law defines an agricultural “workday” as 1 hour of work per day–the bill language restates that definition on page 397–an alien who has worked for as little as 150 hours–there are 168 hours in a week–in agriculture over the last 2 years will qualify for a blue card.

Blue card aliens can only be fired for just cause, unlike an American citizen worker who is likely under an employment at will agreement with the agricultural employer.

No alien granted blue card status may be terminated from employment by any employer during the period of blue card status except for just cause.

Because blue card aliens are not limited to working in agriculture, this employment requirement will follow the alien at their second and third jobs as well. The bill goes as far as setting up an arbitration process for blue card aliens who allege they have been terminated without just cause. Furthermore, the bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to pay the fee and expenses of the arbitrator. American citizens do not have a right to this arbitration process, why are we setting up an arbitration process for blue card aliens paid for by the American taxpayer.

Regarding free legal counsel, the AgJOBS amendment goes further than paying for arbitrators, it also provides free legal counsel to illegal aliens who want to receive this amnesty. The AgJOBS amendment specifically states that recipients of “funds under the Legal Services Corporation Act” shall not be prevented “from providing legal assistance directly related to an application for adjustment of status under this section.” Interestingly, page 414 of the bill requires the alien to have an attorney file the application for him. Not only will AgJOBS give amnesty to 1.5 million illegal aliens, it would have the American taxpayer pay the legal bills of those illegal aliens. This is unbelievable and unacceptable. We should not be rewarding illegal aliens who break our laws with free legal counsel and a direct path to citizenship.

Under this bill a temporary worker is eligible for a green card if they, in part, maintained their H-2C status. In order to maintain this status the “temporary” worker may not be unemployed for a period of 60 continuous days. This means that a temporary worker only has to work 1 day in every 59 days to maintain status. This employment requirement only requires that they work about 1 day every 2 months.

In this bill, an alien who has been here between 2 and 5 years is not eligible for asylum if they have persecuted others on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, an alien here more than 5 years who has persecuted others on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion gets amnesty under this bill. There is no specific ineligibility for such conduct. Since it is included under the “mandatory deferred departure” section, a court will interpret this to mean we purposefully left it out of the “earned amnesty.” I cannot imagine why the drafters of this bill would allow persecutors to benefit from amnesty.

The bill’s future flow “guest worker” program in title IV leaves no illegal alien behind–it is not limited to people outside the United States who want to come here to work in the future, but includes illegal aliens currently present in the United States that do not qualify for the amnesty programs in title VI, including aliens here for less than 2 years. Under the bill language, you can qualify for the new H-2C program to work as a low-skilled permanent immigrant, even if you are unlawfully present inside the United States today. The bill specifically says:

In determining the alien’s admissibility as an H-2C nonimmigrant ….. paragraphs (5), (6)(A), (7), (9)(B), and (9) (C) of section 212(a) may be waived for conduct that occurred before the effective date. …..

By waving these grounds of inadmissibility, the new H-2C program is specifically intended to apply to illegal aliens who were already removed from the United States and illegally reentered.

The bill tells DHS to accept “just and reasonable inferences”

from day labor centers and the alien’s “sworn declaration” as evidence that the alien has met the amnesty’s work requirement. Under the bill, the alien meets the “burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the alien has satisfied the [work] requirements” if the alien can demonstrate employment “as a matter of just and reasonable inference.” An alien can present “conclusive evidence” of employment in the United States by presenting documents from social security, IRS, employer, or a “union or day labor center.” The bill then states that:

It is the intent of Congress that the [work] requirement ….. be interpreted and implemented in a manner that recognizes and takes into account the difficulties encountered by aliens in obtaining evidence of employment due to the undocumented status of the alien.

If these lax standards can’t be met, the bill makes sure that the alien can get what they need by allowing them to submit “sworn declarations for each period of employment.” Putting these together the alien must prove it is more likely than not that there is a just and reasonable inference that the alien was employed. I don’t know what this means other than DHS will have to accept just about anything as proof of employment.

Regarding in-State tuition for illegal aliens, current law provides that:

[A]n alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

The DREAM Act would eliminate this provision and allow illegal alien college and university students to be eligible for in-state tuition without affording out-of-state citizen students the same opportunity. Thus, the University of Alabama could offer in-state tuition to illegal alien students while requiring citizens residing in Mississippi to pay the much higher out-of-state tuition rates.

Allowing all illegal aliens enrolled in college to receive in-state tuition rates means that while American citizens from 49 other states have to pay out-of-state tuition rates to send their kids to

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UVA, people who have illegally immigrated to this country might not. Out-of-state tuition rates range from 2 to 3 1/2 times the in-state resident tuition rate.

Regarding Federal financial aid for illegal aliens, while the Pell grants provision was removed from the bill, Stafford student loans and work study remains in.

Under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, legal permanent residents and certain other eligible non-citizens are eligible to compete with American citizens for certain types of higher education assistance.

The DREAM Act makes illegal aliens eligible for several types of higher education assistance offered under the Higher Education Act–including Stafford student loans and work study programs.

There is another matter, another sleight of hand I suggest.

Amnesty both for legal aliens who have been here for more than 5 years, and those in the next category who are here from 2 to 5 years, don’t really require that those aliens have to be continuously present in the United States. That is what it says in plain language.

It starts off that you have to be continuously present in the United States. But, once again, is that what it really means?

The bill allows these aliens to depart and to return after a brief departure. This allows illegal aliens who broke our laws by entering the United States and who have left and returned illegally perhaps multiple times–and each time violating our laws by entering the United States–to qualify for this amnesty.

I am not sure how these departures and illegal entries can be considered innocent since the illegal aliens broke U.S. laws by reentering. But it will absolve them from any of these multiple violations. That is a huge loophole.

This is even more important. An alien may not have had deep roots in our country. They may have spent a lot of their time away from our country. But they heard about this amnesty, and if they can get in the country, then they will say they have been here continuously, perhaps.

Somebody says: No. We found out you were back home.

He says: That was brief. I want my amnesty.

We object. I am going to take you to court, or you prove it, or I say I have been here. That is what I say. It is going to be very difficult to prove that.

There are provisions in the bill that deal with U.S. worker protections. The bill purports to protect U.S. workers from the flood of cheap labor that might occur by requiring employers to prove to the Department of Labor that good-faith efforts have been taken, first, to recruit U.S. workers for a job before they go out and hire someone from outside of our country. They ought to at least find out if there are American workers who want the job.

Then they are supposed to notify the Secretary of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security when one of these H-2C workers is “separated from employment.”

I am quoting that–“separated from employment” requires notice.

We heard defenders of the bill say: Well, if you are not continuously working, they will notify the Department of Labor and you have to leave the country.

Have you heard that? You have to be continuously working, you can’t be not working, or else you are not entitled to the benefits of this H-2C provision. The separation from employment notification is supposed to help the Department of Labor and Homeland Security know which people have been out of work, and if they are out of work under the bill for more than 60 days, their visas are supposed to be revoked.

OK. That is supposed to be a provision that makes sure people who come here are really working. Sounds good. But under the provisions of the bill, the term “separation from employment”–you can find that on page 236. As defined, the term means virtually zero.

As defined, “separation from employment is anything other than discharged for inadequate performance, violation of workplace rules, cause, voluntary departure, voluntary retirement, or expiration of a grant or contract.”

Furthermore, it does not include those situations where the worker is offered–even if they do not take it–another position by the same employer.

Is that what I just read to you? It is hard to believe–that you are supposed to notify them, except you don’t need to notify them if they have left work, if they left work because they were discharged for inadequate performance, fired, or violation of workplace rules, or for just cause, or involuntary departure, involuntary retirement, or expiration of the contract. You don’t have to notify them about those things.

What would you notify them for, pray tell? That is “flabber” written. I submit whoever wrote this bill–it was not the Senators, I can assure you of that–ought to be ashamed of themselves.

That was a deliberate evisceration of what on the surface sounds like a legitimate provision, totally unenforceable. There is no way under this provision DHS or the Department of Labor will be provided information about people who have been terminated from employment.

Protections for U.S. workers–that is one of the goals the bill says it reaches. Under the bill, employers must prove that hiring an H-2C worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States, and that they did not and will not cause separation from employment of a U.S. worker employed by an employer within the 180-day period beginning 90 days before this H-2C petition is filed.

Employers must also prove that they made good-faith efforts to recruit U.S. workers before they can hire an H-2C worker. That sounds good but, once again, things are not what they seem.

As defined on page 263 of the bill, a U.S. worker includes not only citizens, it includes legal alien workers. And, amazingly, it also includes aliens who are “otherwise authorized under this act to be employed in the United States.”

In other words, this provision provides protection for those who have been given legal status under amnesty, over and above, and provides them the same protection we provide to American citizens who are supposed to be given some protection against the flood of foreign labor.

You have heard the deal. You have heard it said that the people who come to get amnesty–this is almost humorous–have got to pay their taxes. That is part of some sort of punishment. They make it sound like, in some way, you earned the right to be forgiven of your crime by paying your taxes.

Everybody is supposed to pay their taxes. For heaven’s sake, we are all supposed to pay taxes. This is nothing but doing what you would expect any American to do. But under the bill, things are, once again, not quite what their sponsors have said, or what the language might lead you to believe. You have to read it carefully.

Under the bill, an illegal alien who is getting amnesty only has to pay back taxes for the period of employment required in the INA, section 245(B)(A)(1)(d).

This is on page 347 of the bill, if people would like to look. These are actually just 3 of the 5 years between April 5, 2001, and April 5, 2002.

So the plain language of the bill doesn’t require them to pay all their back taxes at all. They get an option to pick and choose which 3 years they want to pay their taxes. Presumably, they can forget and not pay the taxes for the high years. How silly is that?

This is really important. I think most Americans are pretty sophisticated. They know how the system works and the massive numbers we are talking about–the burden of proving payment of back taxes is on the Internal Revenue Service, pages 351 and 411. They have to prove it. How are they going to prove it? The IRS must prove that they owe the taxes. How will the IRS know if an illegal alien has worked off the books thereby avoiding paying any taxes?

This is really an utter joke. It is a promotion put forth by those in support of the bill that I have heard repeatedly–that somehow it is supposed to make us believe that people have earned their right to be forgiven for violating the law, and they only have to pay back 3 of the last 5 years in taxes.

What about American citizens? Do you think you can go down to Uncle

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Sam, Mr. President, and have 5 years of income and then be able to pick and choose which years you pay and you only pay 3 out of your last 5 years? Why don’t we let every American citizen have this benefit? Why do we only give it to people who entered the country illegally? You tell me.

What about background checks? The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to do them on illegal aliens. That is going to be exceedingly difficult. They are required to do it within 90 days. They have to protect our homeland. They have to handle all these provisions. I don’t think it can ever be done. That may sound like something important is going to happen, that all the people here illegally will have their backgrounds checked promptly, but the truth is that is not going to get done in that timeframe.

How about fines? Let me state who they want to fine. A Federal agent, trying to do his duty to enforce the law and investigate fraudulent information provided by an illegal alien in their amnesty application, for law enforcement purposes, what happens to them if they take the amnesty application and actually examine it and find out it is fraudulent? What do they do? The agent would be fined $10,000. That fine, I note, is five times the amount the alien is able to post, $2,000, to get his amnesty from his illegal acts.

There is no reason in the world Federal law enforcement officers should be barred from investigating and utilizing amnesty applications to prosecute criminal activities in America. There is no reason this ought to be protected other than it looks to me that some clever lawyer has realized if they can get this in the bill people can file false amnesty applications all day and no one will ever be able to investigate. Isn’t that horrible? That is what it looks like to me. Is that a sneaky lawyer trick? I ask you to make that judgment. It does not sound good to me.

Page 363 of the bill. Look it up.

How about the employers? They get tax amnesty. Employers of aliens applying for adjustment of status–amnesty–“shall not be subject to civil and criminal tax liability relating directly to the employment of such an alien.” That means a business that hired illegal workers does not have to pay the taxes they should have paid. Why? This encourages employers to violate our tax laws and not pay what they owe the Federal Government. They are excusing these employers and giving them amnesty from not withholding taxes. That is a very bad thing. Every American business knows they have to pay their withholding taxes.

What about two small businesses, one hiring illegal aliens not paying Social Security, not paying withholding to the Government, and paying some low wage, and another one across the street doing all the right things, hiring American citizens, perhaps paying higher wages and withholding money and sending his Social Security money to the Federal Government, what message does that send to the good guy, to give complete amnesty to the guy who has manipulated the system and gotten away perhaps with tens of thousands of dollars in benefits that his competitor did not get?

You cannot play games with the law like this. You cannot pick and choose people and allow them unilaterally to not have to pay their taxes.

What about illegal alien protection? The alien and their families who file applications for amnesty “shall not be detained, determined inadmissible, deported, or removed until their applications are finally adjudicated, unless they commit a future act that renders them ineligible with amnesty.” With tens of millions of applications, this amnesty, this provision essentially guarantees an illegal alien years of protection in the United States, even if they do not qualify for the amnesty.

We hear they have to pay the fine, the $2,000 fine, but it is not due right away. For those in the amnesty program, illegal aliens are supposed to pay a fine of $2,000. However, the way the bill is written, many illegal aliens may not have to pay the fine for 8 years. The bill says that the $2,000 fine has to be paid “prior to adjudication.” It is not required at the first. If it is left the way it is, the illegal alien can live, work and play in our country and not pay a cent of his fine for years. Perhaps they may even decide they do not want to pay it at all. This puts a financial burden on local taxpayers for the health, education, and the infrastructure costs that are not reimbursed for about 5 or 10 years.

There are a number of other items. However, it is late; I will make these remarks part of the RECORD and will not belabor these points.

It is clear the people who drafted this legislation had an agenda and the agenda was not to meet the expectations of the American people. The agenda was to create a facade and appearance of enforcement, an appearance of toughness in some instances. When you get into the meat of the provisions and get into the bill and study it, tucked away here and there are laws that eviscerate and eliminate the real effectiveness of those provisions. It was carefully done and deliberately done. This is a bill that should not become law. It is a bill that will come back to be an embarrassment to our Members who have supported it. I wish it were not so. I know how these things happen. You do not always have time to do everything you want to do. You try to do something you think is right, but ultimately in a bill as important as this one that has tremendous impact on the future of our country and our legal system and our commitment to the rule of law, we ought to get it right. We ought not to let this one slide by. It is not acceptable to say, let’s just pass something and we will send it to the House and maybe the House of Representatives will stand up and stop it and fix it. That is not acceptable for the great Senate of the United States.

I strongly believe we are not ready to pass the bill. We are not ready to give it final consideration. I strongly believe it is a horrendous violation of the Committee on the Budget and that it is, as Mr. Rector said, a fiscal catastrophe if passed, and as such we ought not to waive the Budget Act but pull the bill from the floor and fix it.

I yield the floor.

Read Halli’s summary of these remarks.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Bryan Fischer Fires Back in the Lewiston Tribune, Defends Judicial Responsibility

May 29th, 2007 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance

The Lewiston Morning Tribune published two editorials this month devoted exclusively to attacking the IVA’s questionnaire for candidates to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Tribune’s policy, for which it is to be commended, is to make space available to any individual or organization which is criticized in an editorial. Yesterday, the Tribune published the IVA’s “Turnabout” response.

Turnabout: Cone of silence covers court candidates

Bryan Fischer
May 27, 2007

As many readers of the Tribune know, the Idaho Values Alliance sent a judicial questionnaire to all 19 candidates for the upcoming vacant seat on the Idaho Supreme Court. Since both Jim Fisher (on May 20) and Tom Henderson (on May 9) have attacked the IVA for the questionnaire, it appears the prosecution has now rested, and it may be time to hear from the defense.

Of the 23 items on our questionnaire, 20 were “agree/disagree” statements that were drawn virtually verbatim from the Idaho Constitution itself. Thus we simply asked these candidates whether or not they agreed with the very document they are prepared to take a solemn and sacred oath to uphold.

In other words, much to Mr. Henderson’s embarrassment, we weren’t looking for “holy warriors” as he charges, but for a justice who understands something about the constitution.

Bizarrely, not one of the 19 candidates returned the IVA’s questionnaire. They either did not recognize the constitution, which is alarming all by itself, or they did recognize it, but were unwilling to let the public know if they agree with it. That’s even worse.

For instance, we asked these candidates whether or not they agree with the proposition that all citizens have “an inalienable right to enjoy and defend both life and liberty.” No answer. Do you agree that all citizens “have an inalienable right to acquire, possess, and protect property?” No answer. Do you agree that “all political power is inherent in the people?” No answer.

Do you agree that “the exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship should be forever guaranteed?” No answer. And so forth and so on. Contrary to Mr. Fisher’s contention that these candidates would flunk this “test just by taking it,” the reality is the reverse – they flunked this simple constitutional exam by refusing to answer any of its questions.

This naturally makes an observer wonder whether any of them is in fact qualified to sit on the bench. How could we possibly know? One candidate replied to the IVA by indicating that he could not fill out the questionnaire since judicial custom “precludes me from commenting on matters likely to come before the Court,” a standard dodge that keeps the public in complete ignorance about his judicial philosophy.

Contrast this attitude with the six Pennsylvania judges who were so eager to give the public information about their judicial outlook that they recently sued for – and won – the right to fill out a questionnaire similar to ours.

Imagine you were a league official interviewing prospective umpires.

“Will you faithfully apply the rules of baseball?”

“Of course.”

“Well, what about the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule?”

“Well, I really can’t comment on that because I might actually have to call a game behind the plate someday.”

It’s no less ridiculous when a prospective judge says he will uphold the whole constitution, but refuses to commit to upholding its parts. But in his case, the stakes are far higher.

When Dan Eismann ran for a seat on the Idaho Supreme Court in 2000 against an incumbent, he readily filled out a much more extensive questionnaire than the IVA’s. Judge Eismann let the public know something about his judicial philosophy, while his opponent did not. (In fact, her questionnaire came back with a profanity scribbled across the first page.)

The public so appreciated his candor and convictions that they elected him 59 percent to 41 percent.

Eismann’s example shows how absurd it is for candidates to hide behind the conceit that somehow it is beneath potential judges to give the public a window into their judicial philosophy.

As things stand, the Idaho Judicial Council, an appointed committee with no accountability to voters, will pare the list of 19 down to two to four names, which they will submit to the governor. Meanwhile, no one – not the public, probably not even the IJC – will know anything substantive about the judicial philosophy of the individual who will one day be issuing rulings that affect the life of every Idahoan.

Perhaps the day will come when the information blackout that shrouds this process is lifted, but apparently – with Mr. Henderson and Mr. Fisher reinforcing the cone of silence – that day is not today.

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Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Guest Post: Some Uncommon “Common Sense” Tips for Pet Care

May 29th, 2007 by Halli

From Andi Elliott, Humane Society of the Upper Valley

- There is no law that says hounds must spend their lives chained; most have very shabby housing (which often matches that of their owner). It is NOT illegal for hounds to have decent living conditions.
-Most other advanced nations (including South Africa), have banned the mutilation (cropping of ears and docking of tails) of dogs. These procedures are performed for cosmetic reasons (can we say “owner vanity”) …very few for health reasons…such as the bloody condition know as “happy tail”.
-It is an old wives’ tale that a dog should have a litter of puppies before spaying…sometimes the process of pregnancy changes the dog’s disposition for the worse. (It sure has for many women.) If you want a pet, then make her a pet from the beginning and not a puppy factory.
-The local Bar is NOT the repository for unwanted animals…this is no place for pets. When patrons leave the bar, it becomes hazardous for abandoned animals and humans alike.
-Contrary to popular belief…neutering a dog or cat does NOT affect the masculinity of its male owner in the least, unless the man is experiencing some personal psychological issues.
-Because a senior citizen has cats does not mean that she wants your drop-offs. Chances are she is good hearted and trying her best, on a limited income, to spay/neuter and feed the ones she already has. Next time you “drop off” a litter, be sure to “drop off” a check along with it.

Andi Elliott
The Humane Society of the Upper Valley
POBox 51021
Idaho Falls, ID 83425

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Posted in Family Matters, General, Guest Posts, Property Rights | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Liberals Rush in to Defend Justice Trout

May 29th, 2007 by Halli

From Idaho Chooses Life

The day after Justice Linda Copple Trout dropped her bomb on Idaho, the Liberal Media swooped in to provide fighter cover.

The Idaho Statesman defended Trout’s decision to flout the state’s Constitution. They wrote, “[Trout] performs one more service for Idahoans…” by deciding that she will try to rig things for her successor by circumventing the Constitution’s provision for electing members of the state’s highest court.

Editors at this liberal institution protected Trout’s rear by validating her claims that elections were simply too difficult for important folks like Justice Trout. They sought to legitimize the notion that candidates for the state’s highest court ought not be held accountable, nor should they be scrutinized by the general public.

The Statesman simply overlooked the very troubling breach of faith which underlies Trout’s resignation.

When she ran for office, Trout made a commitment to the people of Idaho that she would seek to fulfill her duties – including a commitment to finish her elected term. Now things happen – physical or family problems – which may make such a commitment difficult or even impossible to deliver. But Trout was blatant in telling Idahoans that she was resigning, not for good cause, or for reasons beyond her control – but because she wanted to crudely manipulate events in order to secure a successor to her personal liking. Such behavior betrays a gross arrogance; the Statesman is wrong in letting this slide.

Trout’s resignation presents a bold breach of faith on yet another, deeper, level. When she assumed this position of high trust, she publicly swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of Idaho. This end-run of its provisions demonstrates clearly that Justice Trout does not take that oath very seriously.

Which brings us to the heart of the problem: Idaho is fortunate to have inherited from our forebears a Constitution providing for a public check upon judicial abuse of power. We see first-hand the great problems created by a runaway federal judiciary. Unless we rise up and jealously defend our right to elect members of the Supreme Court, one day soon Idaho’s courts will reflect the imperial attitude dominant in San Francisco.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Guest Post: Good vs. Evil

May 28th, 2007 by Halli

By Don Schanz, Citizens for Tax Reform

“Woe unto them that call evil good , and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness… (Isaiah 5:20). This prophecy in Isaiah tells us that the concepts of good and evil will be reversed in the last days. How can that be? How does it happen?

One reason is that tolerance has been redefined. Tolerance used to mean “to respect the beliefs of others”, but still holding fast to our own beliefs, traditions and Christian values. However, with the advancing of a generation or two, the “new tolerance” has been redefined to mean that anyone’s views, habits and lifestyles are equally as valid as our own. And because they are as valid, we cannot be intolerant of their views and must embrace them as being as true or good as ours. No longer is there a Christian God of absolute truth, good and light. Evil and wrong are done away with in the “new tolerance,” and we are all the same with a new civil right that no one can speak or say anything that might hurt our feelings.

When we are no longer guided by the absolute truths of right and wrong that come from God, we are left with only our own reasoning, feelings and emotions to guide us. We then are easily manipulated by Satan, because we fear man more than God. We are afraid of being labeled “judgmental”, “racist”, “bigoted”, “homophobic” or “prejudiced” and of losing the respect and approval of our peers. We quietly surrender our minds and former beliefs to ungodly principles and political correctness, while the society around us boldly embraces the violation of the sacred commandments of our Heavenly Father. Old sins get renamed and the “new tolerance” demands our approval of them as acceptable behavior and equivalent to our own God given values.

These include such practices as: abortion of innocent babies now called pro-choice; deviant life styles renamed as diversity; the enemy of Judeo/Christian values masquerading as multiculturalism; the banning of all traces of Christianity in school, including prayer and pledge of allegiance, under the banner of separation of church and state; allowing extremely addictive pornography to be called free speech, etc. Society has now insisted that we Christians embrace one last satanic principle to conclude the take over: a new tolerance of their immorality and decadence. They cannot be wrong or evil, but you are guilty of a hate crime if you do not tolerate their decadence and depravity. Thus, good becomes evil and evil becomes good!

Ezra Taft Benson once observed that: “We are too ‘broadminded’ to challenge what we do not believe in. We are afraid of being intolerant – uncouth – ungentlemanly. We have become lukewarm in our beliefs… This is a sad commentary on a civilization which has given to mankind the greatest achievements and progress ever known. But it is even a sadder commentary on those of us who call ourselves Christians, who thus betray the ideals given to us by the Son of God himself.” (Jerrrald Newquist, Prophets, Principles and National Survival. p. 236)

The scriptures tell us that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Let us not perish but hold to the Rod or word of God and find eternal life with our Savior by keeping his divinely inspired principles and commandments.

Don Schanz
May 25, 2007

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, National Sovereignty, Politics in General | 1 Comment »

Greater Love Hath No Man Than This: Thoughts on Memorial Day

May 27th, 2007 by Halli

Each year Memorial Day brings us an added opportunity to reflect on the men and women who have given their lives to secure our liberty.

From the Revolutionary War to the conflict in Iraq, nearly countless American lives have been laid down willingly for the benefit and freedom of others. How true it is that “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots . . . “.

I cannot help recalling the verse of scripture found in John 15:13:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

However, as great as is the legacy of the mortal freedom fighters, there is one sacrifice that is still greater than them all.

Only one life, given as an offering for others, could yield both freedom in an eternal sense and new life, even immortality, to those who have perished in freedom’s cause throughout earth’s history.

That one life belongs to Jesus Christ. And so immense and far reaching is this dearly-bought gift which He offers that all, both the great and the small, the honorable and the shameful, the famous and the unknown, will be partakers of the “heavenly gift”.

As we remember this Memorial Day those who have given the last full measure for freedom, even their lives, let us also remember He who is the giver of life, our “author of liberty”.

Posted in Family Matters, General, Politics in General | No Comments »

Guest Post: The High Cost of Freedom – Patriotism and Memorial Day

May 27th, 2007 by Halli

From Richard Larsen

Army Sgt. Blake Stephens brought home to Pocatello the profound significance of Memorial Day this year.

A young man with a bright future ahead of him and a loving and supportive family behind him, voluntarily and willingly signed up, as millions have done before him, to put his life on the line in defense of liberty and the security of America.

While he may not have known at the time he enlisted that he would indeed pay for that privilege with his life, he obviously knew at the time the potential consequences of his commitment. And for that, we owe him and the millions who have preceded him the grateful acknowledgment of an appreciative nation for their sacrifice.

I have been blessed to know many veterans throughout my life; some who simply had the wrong number and were conscripted, but many who willingly and voluntarily joined the military not just for a quality education and decent benefits, but more out of a sense of duty, and a love for everything good that America stands for.

Blake was part of a growing number of recruits in these latter years who were educated, bright and full of life; who were filled with optimism about their future and the future of America. He was part of a growing number of young and not so young people who had everything going for them before joining the military, and yet felt the compelling yearning to make a difference in a fight against radicals who target our very way of life.

To some among us, the fallen represent lives wasted, while to most of us, the fallen represent the high cost of liberty, especially in conflicts critical to our national security and way of life as this one is.

Some of us may never totally understand the mentality and the sense of loyalty and respect that drives people like Sgt. Stephens to be willing to pay for our liberties with their lives.

Whether we all understand it or not, gratitude and our mutual respect should be compulsory. I will never understand those who hold our military personnel in contempt, those who choose to focus on the few aberrations on the battlefield or the prison camps, rather than the millions of acts of mercy, sensitivity and sacrifice which typify our gallant men and women in uniform. This generation who joins willingly knows full well their possible destiny, yet they are willing to make that investment for our current and future liberty.

I will be eternally grateful for goodly parents who inculcated in me from my earliest days an appreciation for this great country and an unwavering awe for those who have and continue to sacrifice their all for us to enjoy the freedoms that are ours.

Sen. Larry Craig very properly reminded us in his guest column a week ago of our responsibility within the confines of our homes to nurture our children with the appropriate respect for those who serve and love of country for the incomparable ideals upon which America is founded. Trent and Kathy Stephens obviously instilled in their son Blake such a love of country, and a commitment to the American ideal.

For some inexplicable reason, there are some among us who think it’s chic to trivialize and minimize the greatness of America; who think patriotism and loyalty to America are characteristics of oversimplified minds living in a state of denial of our flaws. Quite the contrary, the overwhelming majority of Americans recognize in America an unprecedented historical and ideological uniqueness; a singularity that magnifies exponentially the willingness of those in uniform to sacrifice even their very lives in defense of our ideals.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of our Founding Fathers, said “Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.” As a nation convinced of the imperative to love and nurture our children, we should hold as tenaciously the commitment to patriotism for our country, which is simply a love of, and a loyalty to, our country, and a professed willingness to defend her against enemies or detractors.

For those of us who love this country, when we sing the poignant anthem, “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies,” a natural lump grows in our throats. We fight back the tears of gratitude and respect for those who have granted us the liberties and freedoms we enjoy even when we sing the line, “God mend thine every flaw.” Certainly this great country has its share of challenges and inequities to mend, but amenable and equitable solutions rarely are arrived at through verbal conflagration and demeaning epithets. There is nothing in that beautiful hymn to the greatness of America that makes reference to political parties, policy differences, or political candidates. It is, however, replete with gratitude and appreciation for our roots of liberty, and recognition of the uniqueness of the principles upon which this country was founded. These are sentiments that should be universally shared by all Americans.

President Ronald Reagan declared, “Let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them… ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’ Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” To which I can only add, “Amen.”

Richard Larsen of Pocatello is president of the brokerage firm Larsen Financial. He graduated from Idaho State University with degrees in political science and history.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Open Government: How Important Is It to You?

May 26th, 2007 by Halli

Have you ever had the “pleasure” of making a request for information from a government entity? If so, chances are you’ve been put off, delayed, belittled and/or even lied to.

Why is government so reluctant to let you, a citizen, see what is actually happening in those offices, sometimes behind closed doors? The answers are pretty straight forward: bureaucrats will tell you they are so busy that there’s no time to look up information you are requesting. Sometimes they will try to discourage you by quoting an inflated fee for retrieving the information. And sometimes you are requesting information that will embarrass folks whose salary you pay with your tax dollars.

It is incredibly important to remain firm in your determination and not become dissuaded from your quest. Remember that access to information is your right by law. The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state and local FOIA’s specify what information you must be given if you request it. And generally it must be provided in a reasonable length of time and for a reasonable fee (if any).

Do your homework before you make a request so there will be no surprises when you show up in front of a government worker, who quite possibly would like to quash your efforts. If you’ve researched applicable FOIA laws, you will know when you are being deflected or put off and can insist that government employees follow the law. If you still can’t make headway, follow the chain of command up the line until you get satisfaction. If you have to go to the state attorney general, so be it. Never give up.

One of the newer and more exciting organizations working for open government is the Sam Adams Alliance. Be sure to read or listen to a recent post by Paul Jacobs entitled Not Sexy, Just Important. And check out the Sam Adams Alliance “Tool Kit” for tried and true tips for effective grass roots activism.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Politics in General, Taxes | No Comments »

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