Senate Passes Immigration Reform, House Will Not Consider
On Thursday, the United States Senate passed an overhaul to the immigration system with bipartisan support. The piece of legislation includes a pathway to citizenship, but also requires militarization of the US-Mexico border.
68 senators - 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans - voted to approve immigration reform based on the proposal of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators charged with overhauling the immigration system. A key victory for progressives is the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people currently living in the United States without proper documentation. However, before that path can be made open to those 11 million people, five conditions must be met, including doubling the amount of agents at the US-Mexico border, adding an addition 750 miles of fencing, and establishing an E-verify system for determining a person's visa status. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Gang of Eight and a staunch conservative, remarked "This border-security measure blows my mind. We've practically militarized the border."
President Obama applauded the Senate's bipartisan efforts, saying in a statement "Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all... The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I - and many others - have repeatedly laid out." He continued, "Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen. If you're among the clear majority of Americans who support reform - from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy - reach out to your Member of Congress. Tell them to do the right thing."
Graham also applauded the Senate's efforts, saying "This is as good as it gets in the Senate."
However, the bill appears dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. In a released statement prior to the debate, Speaker of the House John Boehner said, "Immigration reform must - I mean must - be grounded in real border security. That's what the American people believe, and it's a principle that this House majority will insist upon." He elaborated with reporters, "I issued a statement that I thought was pretty clear, but apparently some haven't gotten the message: the House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We're going to do our own bill."
Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor 6/27/2013; New York Times 6/27/2013; Office of the Press Secretary 6/26/2013; Reuters 6/26/2013; Statement of John Boehner 6/20/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .