Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mayor Feinen's weak tea on immigration

Three weeks ago, Champaign mayor Deborah Feinen released a disappointingly tepid statement about immigration. Clearly driven by Trump's Muslim ban (the first iteration, since struck down), his promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants, and Urbana's designation as a sanctuary city, she said in part:
I want to reassure our residents that the City of Champaign remains committed to fostering a friendly and welcoming community for all who choose to live here.  We are proud of our strong, diverse, and inclusive community – one that works together to improve the quality of life and promote equal opportunities for all.
OK, that's good and all, but missing from her statement is any discussion of actual city policy, especially as it pertains to undocumented immigrants. She does reference the City's Human Rights Ordinance, which does prohibit discrimination based on national origin, but doesn't mention immigration status.
This is most relevant when it comes to law enforcement. Trump is reactivating the ICE 287(g) program that deputized local law enforcement to act as immigration officers. It's not clear what Feinen's statement means for police interactions with Champaign residents. Champaign Chief of Police Anthony Cobb has placed the department's entire policy and procedure manual online, but it makes no real mention of immigration. (Let me note that I think it's great he has taken this step of transparency in local government.) Feinen's statement leaves me with even more questions than it answers.
  • Are City agencies free to ask residents about their immigration status?
  • Can they report that status to authorities?
  • Can they use it as the basis to refuse City services to residents?
  • Can Champaign police officers detain people solely because they think are undocumented?
  • Can Champaign police question crime victims and witnesses, let alone suspects, about their immigration status?
  • Will Champaign police refuse to partner with ICE in a 287(g) program? (Unlikely, as they didn't before.)
I can find no documented City policy regarding these matters.
Chicago also claims sanctuary city status and makes it very clear what this means and what they will not do. Personally, I don't want to see Champaign police resources taken away from dealing with local crimes to do federal immigration enforcement.
I encourage Mayor Feinen and the Champaign City Council to claim sanctuary city status like Urbana has done. Hell, just use the Chicago ordinance as a template.
Unless Mayor Feinen is willing to put official City policy behind her statement, this is very weak tea, indeed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rodney Davis Tele-Town Hall, February 15, 2017

Oh yeah, I have a blog... Anyway, I listened in on Rep. Rodney Davis's tele-town hall this evening. I wanted to be at home and had a question, but I was actually in Meijer for most of it, so I couldn't take notes. Fortunately, @AnUncivilPhD live-tweeted the whole thing. I've taken the liberty of creating a Storify of that here.

  • I knew the tele-town hall was coming today, but there was no indication of what time. So it's a matter of stay by the phone all evening and you might get to listen.
  • There's no indication of when or even whether a recording of the town hall will be available. 
  • About half the TTH was spent talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. Presumably, that's why Davis had Texas Rep. Michael Burgess on for about half of it. 
  • It's pretty clear Davis and the GOP have no clear replacement plan for Obamacare. There were two questions about how the replacement would pay for its provisions and they were mostly evaded. There was some vague talk about increasing competition (no indication of how) would cause rates to plummet.
  • They intend to repeal the individual mandate. I think it was Burgess that said this would cause individual enrollments to increase, which doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. He claimed that requiring people to sign up for health insurance increases costs? 
  • Davis is clearly proud of his bill requiring insurers to not discriminate against pre-existing conditions, but again, no indication of how he will pay for it.
  • Several times Davis plugged the GOP's "Better Way" health reform framework. Republicans have had seven years to come up with a replacement for Obamacare, so I expect actual policy and analysis, not a framework.
  • When asked about the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, Davis's answer was basically: coal, more coal, coal jobs, oh and maybe some nuclear, in an obvious mention of the Clinton nuclear plant. No mention of the fact that it's cheap natural gas that's coal's main competitor, not poisoned streams.
  • He did say that he wanted to see an investigation of the Russian interference in the election and that he was happy to see Flynn get fired. That's easy to say since none of his committees would have anything to do with such an investigation.
  • When asked if there would be any in-person town halls, his response was basically, tele-town halls are great! Come on Rodney, we all know why you're doing this via telephone: because you don't want to give your constituents an opportunity to embarass you face-to-face.
This is a bit disjointed, but I wanted to get my thoughts down quickly.