Thursday, April 14, 2011

Calling on Joe Donnelly to change his views on immigration policy

College Democrats of Notre Dame and the greater South Bend community must work hard to move Joe Donnelly's position on immigration reform. He voted against the DREAM Act in 2010, and in response to an e-mail I sent to him through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on immigration reform his office had this to say:
April 14, 2011
Dear Mr. Rhodenbaugh,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about immigration reform. I value your views, and your input helps me to better represent the people of Indiana's Second Congressional District.

First and foremost, I believe that securing our nation's borders is critical to our homeland security and essential for protecting our communities. Today it is estimated that over 12 million illegal immigrants are living within the United States with an additional 300,000 crossing our borders each year. Clearly, the current immigration system is broken.

Now, more than nice years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, we still lack the manpower and resources to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country. That is why I support proposals to increase the number of border patrol agents, as well as increased funding for the technology and equipment necessary for these agents to prevent immigrants from entering our country illegally.

However, border enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Each year thousands of undocumented workers enter the United States in search of employment opportunities. Although it is against the law to knowingly hire undocumented workers, the incentives of cheap labor combined with the lax enforcement of employment laws have encouraged many employers to hire illegal immigrants. As a result, we must improve the workplace enforcement of our employment laws and crack down on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.

Illegal immigration will likely continue to be a highly contentious issue. Although a solution will inevitably require bipartisan support, I will oppose any proposal that amounts to amnesty. Rest assured, when the House of Representatives considers immigration legislation, I will carefully review it to determine if it is in the best interests of our district.

The United States has a rich tradition built upon the hard work of immigrant citizens from all over the world. Out of respect for our laws and those who have followed them, I will continue to work hard to ensure that American citizenship is reserved for those who play by the rules.

Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to write, call or email me again if I can ever be of assistance. Also, if you would like to receive regular updates on my actions on your behalf in Congress, sign up for my e-newsletter, The Donnelly Dispatch, at


Joe Donnelly

Member of Congress

I replied to the e-mail:

I am deeply dissatisfied with the tone of this e-mail, and the priorities laid out by the Congressman. Border protection is an essential part of immigration reform, but to pretend the problem will be solved by tougher border security without mentioning the need to embrace the humanity of the immigrant is reckless and negligent. It is irresponsible for a member of Congress to provoke discrimination, fear and hatred by using the term "illegal" to describe a group of people. I understand he is vulnerable to conservative and populist pressure in the district, but his most loyal supporters will question their faith in Joe as their Congressman if he continues to join the other side of the aisle in belittling undocumented immigrants and blaming them for a larger set of economic problems in this country.

Thank you for your time. I hope Joe remains open to holding a more moderate position on immigration policy, particularly the DREAM Act.


 Do not give up hope on Congressman Donnelly! We have pressed him before and he has come around on social justice issues, most notably health care reform.  This should be a call to all activists at Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and the greater South Bend community to make it a goal to change his position on immigration before the 2012 election.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

There's My Obama!

I know that many fellow progressives have wondered where our Obama went. Where was the guy who would fight for the middle class? Governing from the middle and compromise are important, but why hasn't he ever offered a story to counter the Republicans myth that all government is bad? Where's the Obama from the 2008 campaign?

Fortunately, in this budget proposal speech, Obama seems to take a hard line stand against the Republican budget. The video is long, but it's worth listening to. He talks about the positive role of government, that Republicans would like to ignore. He explains that tax cuts for the wealthy are coming at the cost of health care for seniors. He says we need to cut wasteful and excessive spending everywhere (military included), but that we also need to fix the tax code and raise taxes on millionaires, who have the lowest tax rates in half a century, and any of whom are willing to give more to help us through this crisis. He says we should tackle the deficit problem with an all of the above approach rather than only thinking about cutting vital services.

It's good to hear Obama stand for something again, and specifically to talk about the positive value of government. I hope his actions will match his words, and that in the continuing budget fights he will not compromise away everything he believes in.