Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Check on executive power

By Bethany Jaeger
On the same day Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a massive executive order to combine more state agency functions, a Cook County judge ordered that Blagojevich’s administration has to stop expanding a state health program to middle-income adults. But that’s not going to stop Blagojevich from trying. In the meantime, residents who already started receiving state-sponsored health care under the governor’s expansions are left in limbo over whether they’ll continue to receive those benefits. We'll have more on the governor's move to consolidate state agency functions tomorrow. It’s a mess.

The governor’s office already issued a statement that said it would address the judge’s concern about his health care expansions and continue to expand the FamilyCare program to more families. (The administration also announced a statewide tour about health care, seen here.) Legislators, in the meantime, continue to say they support health care but oppose the way the governor goes about expanding it without a way to pay for it.

Tuesday’s court order is only one of two lawsuits involving the governor’s authority to expand health care through executive power rather than through the legislative process. The governor also sued Secretary of State Jesse White for not publishing rules to implement the expansions, preventing the administration from acting. White’s legal team has until May 2 to respond to the governor’s lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Cook County Judge James Epstein technically didn’t rule on whether the governor could expand health care programs without legislative approval. On one hand, he decided that the administration was within its rights to extend an existing program for breast and cervical cancer screenings to women age 65 and older. He said the legislature approved $6 million for the program without imposing limits, allowing the department to expand the benefits as long as it was within that $6 million appropriation.

On the other hand, Epstein denied the governor’s ability to expand FamilyCare, which would offer state-sponsored health insurance to 147,000 adults from middle-income families for about $43 million in the first year. Because the FamilyCare program would offer state and federal Medicaid benefits to adults making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, the program would have to abide by federal income limits and work requirements. This is technical, but the judge ruled that because the FamilyCare expansion as written doesn’t require the adults to be “employed or engaged in a job search,” the expansion fails to meet federal requirements and wouldn’t be reimbursed.

That means the administration is prohibited from expanding FamilyCare until a full trial decision or until the department changes or cancels the expansions. Epstein’s ruling also said that complaint filed by Richard Caro, a Riverside attorney, and by Republican businessman Ron Gidwitz and Greg Baise, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, on behalf of the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth, and Prosperity, likely would succeed in a full trial.

Caro, who maintains a Web site dedicated to the lawsuit, said in a phone conversation last week that he actually supports universal health care, but he objects to the governor’s use of executive power to spend state dollars without legislative approval. : “I filed to stop an unconstitutional, illegal expenditure,” he said. “Once the legislature approves the expansions, all well and good. It’s for the executive to work out with the legislature in the normal democratic process how best to proceed.”

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, is a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules that repeatedly rejects the governor’s executive power in trying to expand health care. He’s also sponsoring legislation that would do the same thing the governor is trying to do through his administrative powers. It hasn’t gone anywhere, but Lang said lawmakers would be more likely to help him accomplish his health care goals if the governor would sit down and negotiate.

Rep. Brad Bursynzki, a Clare Republican and JCAR member, said to expect lawsuits filed by the adults who were promised health care benefits under the governor’s expansion. “I have to tell you, I had a smile on my face when I heard about the injunction this morning,” he said. “But having said that, I really feel very deeply for the people that were enrolled in this program who now are going to be — I don’t think they’re going to be held harmless.”

NOTE: A House committee is considering a proposal to establish a form of universal health care right now. The so-called Healthy Illinois plan has been dormant for two years, so watch for an update about why it’s being considered now. It’s expected to advance out of committee tonight. (Four Democrats already voted in support of the plan and walked out of committee.)

Immigration rights
By Patrick O’Brien
More than 100 new American citizens rallied at the Statehouse today to lobby lawmakers on behalf of legal and undocumented immigrants.

They included Korean, Polish, Mexican, African and Arab immigrants who recently became citizens through the state’s New Americans Initiative, a program designed to help immigrants navigate the citizenship process.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights sponsored the day, in part to voice opposition to a House proposal that directs the state to report undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes to the federal government for deportation.

The measure’s sponsor, Carol Stream Republican Rep. Harry Ramey, says it’s just a matter of making convicted criminals leave the country, not of targeting innocent immigrants. “We’re talking about the bad guys.”

Fred Tsao, the coalition’s policy director, says the state’s Department of Corrections opposes the bill and says it’s “an attempt to score political points on the backs of undocumented immigrants.”

The coalition also wants lawmakers to provide an additional $500,000 in funding for the state’s citizenship program to address the growing number of applicants in Illinois. Applications in Illinois have doubled during the national debate over immigration policy by some estimates.

The coalition also wants to push a proposal that would allow undocumented detainees to have greater access to clergy and other religious counsel while in jail. A House committee is scheduled to hear the plan tomorrow.

Yuridia Carbajal of Waukegan recently became a citizen after 12 years in the United States. She says the opposition to undocumented immigrants is driven by fear of their potential political power. “They want us to be afraid of them, but I think they’re afraid of us.”


Anonymous,  10:59 AM  

I think the conclusion of this article isn't very accurate. It's not that people are just afraid of undocumented immigrants, they are also afraid of the "browning" of America. As controversial as this is to say, it's true. If you go to the FAIR and other frightening websites, they're all writing about the statistics about how many African American and Latinos there will be in 20 years- compared with "whites," who are reproducing at a lower rate. I'm not sure this has as much to do with immigration and legality as it does with fear.

I hope that Illinois continues to lead the way forward in producing positive legislation that shows we are not a fearful state.

We need to find ways to integrate the immigrants and refugees we have contributing to our state. I think it's great that these new citizens went to Springfield to lobby- shows that they care about the political process and are socially aware. That's a great thing.

Now I just hope that we can find ways to address the root issue, the downturn in our economy, that is fueling this scapegoating and fear.

Anonymous,  11:12 AM  

One clarification to this post: The Ramey bill was unnecessary to begin with- Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) already reports status and doesn't support this bill.

The main supporters of this bill included anti-immigrant groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has been recognized as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I would hope that Illinois doesn't promote the agenda of these groups- which is to propagate the myth of immigrant criminality (that "immigrant workers who are employed by American businesses are criminals by nature")that is leading to a new wave of hate crimes against Latinos and others who appear to be Hispanic.

Crime among undocumented immigrants is in fact lower than the general population. Since this legislation is unnecessary (according to IDOC), the only reason to introduce it now is to fan the flames of xenophobia- to garner attention and further cloud the immigration debate.

Illinois can and should do better than this.

Anonymous,  11:14 AM  

And when we're pointing out who they are scapegoating, let's not forget how inclusive they are. Rosanna Pulido, leader of the Illinois Minutemen, an anti-immigrant group with links to white supremacists (oh the irony rosanna) recently gave a speech where she compared the growing political power of immigrants to her fear of the LGBT movement. She said that gay people are only 4% of the population "but look at all their political power - and immigrants are a lot more than 4%!" Thanks to Rosanna for helping the coalition building. Nothing brings us together more than mutual scapegoating.

Anonymous,  11:21 AM  

Rosanna Pulido is such a conflicted one- check her out here- getting called out as "not white" by one of her own- yikes Rosanna!
(She's the "Mexican-American" Minuteman who the Lou Dobbs fan is pointing at)


Anonymous,  9:33 AM  


What's your legal status?
Should judges be instructed by state law to ask convicted felons their immigration status?

"Yes, judges should ask immigration status," State Rep. Randy Ramey (R-West Chicago) told the House Homeland Security Committee during discussion on Rep. Ramey's HB 5756 last Wednesday.

"No, they should not ask," Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' attorney Fred Sau said. "To do so requires them to self-incriminate and that's against the 5th Amendment."

According to a state law passed in 2003, judges are instructed to warn felons if they are to tell the judge they are in America illegally, they could face deportation and be denied re-entry into the country.

State Senator Wm Delgado (D-Chicago), the original sponsor of the 2003 judge admonition, disagreed with Ramey's effort and testified that there was no need to change the law as it stands.

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison) testified that while he was a prosecuting attorney in DuPage and Will counties, he witnessed judges admonishing as instructed by law, and then on most occasions ask the convicted person's immigration status after the warning, despite no requirement to ask any further questions. HB 5756 would require the judge to take one step more and ask the convicted person his or her immigration status.

HB 5756 passed committee along party lines, with the exception of Democrat Rep. Kenneth Dunkin (D-Chicago), who said he supported moving the bill out of committee, but wasn't sure how he would vote on the House floor.

Below are audio segments of last Wednesday afternoon's committee discussion. . .

Download vn_00005.mp3

Download vn_00006.mp3

Download vn_00007.mp3

Download vn_00008.mp3

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This is precisely where free market capitalists should put the focus of immigration. It is hypocritical of us to attack illegals who are working and not bothering anyone. We are for work.

We should focus on
1. Terrorists,
2. Murderers, Rapists, DUI drivers, etc
3. Welfare parasites, truly bad people.

This is what should separate us from the left.

Posted by: spintreebb | Tuesday, May 06, 2008 at 05:02 PM

This shouldn't be debated because every police officer should have been asking for each immigrant's status, for at least the past 50 years. I've heard many people say that illegal aliens who obey almost all the laws, work hard, and provide for their families are "law-abiding illegal aliens." That term is an oxymoron, similar to "law-abiding drug dealer" or "law-abiding bank robber."

Posted by: PhilCollins | Tuesday, May 06, 2008 at 05:10 PM

Bill O'Reilly FOX News reporting Status of illegal aliens to Department of Homeland Security


Posted by: | Tuesday, May 06, 2008 at 09:02 PM

The sad part of this discussion is that friends and relatives of those killed due to activity of alien criminals are rarely featured in news items but people who break our immigration laws and get deported are almost always featured on the evening news in a sypathetic light.
Until the legal voting public demands and gets our military deployed to our borders and we have proper enforcement of U.S. Visit, this argument will go on and on. Call / visit your members of Congress and demand the return of our military forces from Germany, Korea and Japan to defend our borders - not the borders of foreign countries.

More legislation, more fences, more cameras, more programs will not solve our illegal alien crisis which is now estimated to be in excess of 40,000,000 by some groups.

Ask everyone running for Congress: Will he / she support bringing troops home to secure our borders? NOT grant amnesty to anyone who is here illegally? work to cancel Executive order 13166 and pass legislation to eliminate the current acceptance of 'dual-citizenship' and 'anchor babies'?

Posted by: Evert | Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 05:16 PM

Phil, your analogy is false.
Saying illegal aliens who work are "law abiding" is similar to saying that I am law abiding even though I speed and don't wear my seat belt. There is no way the minor misdemeanor of being here without proper paperwork can be compared to murder or other serious felonies.

Evert, I agree.
The focus should not be sob stories about illegals who are caught ... no more so than I should attract sympathy when I get a speeding ticket. Nor should the focus be on hardworking illegals. The focus should be on illegals (and legal immigrants) who are truly undesireable:
- Terrorists
- Murderers, rapists, DUI drivers
- Welfare parasites.

Posted by: spintreebb | Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 05:49 PM

We should deport all of the illegal aliens. Period. Especially those from Mexico. They are ILLEGAL.

Posted by: Jonathan | Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 07:59 PM

If the are in the country illegally they are bad people - period. Knowingly violating the law of this nation makes you a bad person.

Posted by: chuckles | Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 10:47 PM

Anonymous,  9:36 AM  


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