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from The Great Debate:

Palmer Raids Redux: NSA v civil liberties

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President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency's secret collection of telephone records from millions of Americans, June 7, 2013.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

During the “Red Scare” that swept the United States in the wake of Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the Justice Department launched a cycle of raids against radicals and leftists. The U.S. attorney general, a once-celebrated Progressive leader named A. Mitchell Palmer, gave his name to this unfolding series of attacks against civil liberities.

Though initially supported by Congress, the courts and the press, the 1919 Palmer raids revealed a darker side of the American psyche. They eventually provoked a national backlash, which inspired the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union; led to stirring free speech dissenting opinions from Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Louis Brandeis, and ignited a political counter-movement determined to prevent similar civil liberties abuses in the future.

President Barack Obama is far from resembling Palmer in terms of civil liberties abuse, but his conviction in his own progressive righteousness is an unfortunate trait when it comes to designing and overseeing surveillance programs. Obama has also continued to defend the current invasive National Security Agency surveillance programs – even while insisting he welcomes a national conversation about the appropriate balance between liberty and security.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – The bench’s backstories

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As the Supreme Court justices convene Wednesday to hear arguments in the case Arizona v United States, will their thoughts drift to Italy, Ireland, Poland and Puerto Rico? 

The challenge to Arizona's tough immigration law may have the justices thinking about their own families' origins and journeys to America. As Reuters reports today, nearly all of them, like their countrymen, descend from people who came looking for a better life (the notable exception is Justice Clarence Thomas whose great-grandmother was a slave).

from Bernd Debusmann:

Obama, immigration and “anchor babies”

After breaking a promise to tackle immigration reform in his first year in office, President Barack Obama now thinks the time has come to deal with the thorny issue "once and for all." It's a safe bet that he will fail to repair America's broken immigration system. Why? George W. Bush helps explain.

The immigration reform Bush championed would have provided tighter control over the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, a new visa system for temporary workers, and a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country. The bill failed in 2007 after running into stiff opposition from congressional leaders of his own Republican party.

from Photographers' Blog:

Looking for an American dream

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Honduran immigrant Jose Humberto Castro, 26, clings to a freight train on his way to the border with the United States in Orizaba in the state of Veracruz November 3, 2010. Every day, hundreds of Central American immigrants try to cross from Mexico to the United States, according to National Migration Institute of Mexico. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte

When I began this project about immigrants, I found a totally different world, where every immigrant had a unique story but in the end had a common objective: reach the American dream, which for many turned into the American nightmare.

Coming from so much misery, where the governments of their native countries have completely forgotten about them and where opportunities don’t exist, they have little choice but to risk taking the train in search of a better life. But for many the only thing they find is bad luck.

from Tales from the Trail:

Comedian Colbert “inappropriate”?

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Comedian Stephen Colbert's satirical testimony before Congress last week left some lawmakers cold, and one of them was House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer.
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"I think it was inappropriate," Hoyer said on "Fox News Sunday" when asked about Colbert's appearance before a House judiciary subcommittee on immigration where he testified on his brief stint as a migrant farm worker.

Hoyer said Colbert's testimony, delivered in his Comedy Central television character as an over-the-top conservative news commentator, hurt him more than it did lawmakers.

from Tales from the Trail:

Republicans target birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants’ children

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Fresh from a bitter row over Arizona's tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, top Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are pushing to review a constitutional amendment that grants automatic birthright citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

USA-IMMIGRATION/ARIZONAIn the past week several Republicans have called for or supported hearings on Capitol Hill reviewing the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was enacted in 1868 following the Civil War and granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." 

from Tales from the Trail:

Arizona immigration law controversy hits border governors’ conference

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The simmering row over Arizona's tough-as-nails immigration law has led to a shift in venue for the U.S.-Mexico border governors' meeting, an annual event usually characterized by unity and good will.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, canceled the bash she was due to host after six border governors from Mexico pulled out in protest at the desert state's crackdown on unauthorized immigrants she inked into law in late April.

from Tales from the Trail:

Arizona immigration law author now targets “anchor babies”

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Fresh from authoring a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants, Arizona Republican state Senator Russell Pearce is now seeking to push a measure to invalidate the citizenship of U.S.-born children of unauthorized migrants he calls "jackpot" or "anchor" babies.

Pearce told Reuters he plans to introduce a new bill in the Republican-controlled state Senate that seeks to annul the citizenship of children born to illegal immigrants in Arizona, the desert state at the heart of a furor since it passed a law last month requiring police to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the state illegally. USA-IMMIGRATION/

from Tales from the Trail:

Arizona law galvanizes U.S. Latinos

IMMIGRATION-USA/ARIZONAThe swastika made of refried beans smeared onto the glass doors of the Arizona State Capitol this week captured the anger of Hispanics at the law authorizing local police to question anyone reasonably suspected of being in the United States illegally. The controvesial law, which critics say is a mandate for racial profiling, has galvanized the country's largest minority that is expected to turn out in large numbers at planned rallies in more than 70 U.S. cities.

Hispanics were disappointed that President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise to overhaul the immigration system in his first year in office. The Pew Research Center says 76 percent of the estimated 11.9 million illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanics. The Latino community sees the undocumented immigrants as contributing with their labor to the growth of the U.S. economy and deserve the right to be legal residents.

from The Great Debate:

In praise of Latin American immigrants

The United States owes Latin American immigrants a debt of gratitude. And Latin American immigrants owe a debt of gratitude to lawmakers in Arizona. How so?

Thanks largely to immigration from Latin America (both legal and illegal) and the higher birth rates of Latin immigrants, the population of the U.S. has kept growing, a demographic trend that sets it apart from the rest of the industrialized world, where numbers are shrinking. That threatens economic growth and in the case of Russia (U.N. projections see a decline from 143 million now to 112 million by 2050) undermines Moscow's claim to Great Power status.

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