Midday Scan: Monday's top stories around the region

Farm work? Both parties prefer immigration games. Doc Hastings gets in on some of the action. With a curious explanation, "Seattle Times" switches endorsements.

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King County Councilmember Jane Hague

Farm work? Both parties prefer immigration games. Doc Hastings gets in on some of the action. With a curious explanation, "Seattle Times" switches endorsements.

At the very latest (we know there were earier manifestations) Americans soured on immigrants during the Irish disapora and subsequent launch of the nativist Know-Nothing party in 1849. And the continent's original inhabitants? Columbus probably didn't earn p.r. points by murdering and enslaving the Arawak people who raced out to welcome him in 1492. Nevertheless, the "keep out" sign, a counterpoint for a nation of immigrants, underscores the law of unintended consequences. As the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat writes, pushing migrant farm workers from jobs that other Americans are unwilling to take throws light on an inherent contradiction. "It's surreal that as some Americans rally in the streets, supposedly in part for jobs, as Congress squabbles over a jobs bill and the presidential campaign is all jobs talk all the time, here are a thousand real jobs that we can't get anybody to do." Westneat writes. "Because we've scared away the only people willing."

While Republicans have made tough-on-immigration a litmus test, other partisans are no less immune. "On the Democratic side, it was announced that the allegedly soft and squishy Obama administration just deported the most undocumented immigrants ever in a single year, nearly 400,000," Westneat notes. The state stands at the intersection of a major farmworker shortage and immigration muscle-flexing. Westneat concludes, "If we don't calm down and just welcome immigrants to do the work we still won't, it won't be long before our fruit, like everything else, says 'made in China.' "    

The immigration muscle flexing now extends to the U.S. Border Patrol. As Rob Hotakainen reports in this morning's Anchorage Daily News, "House Republicans want to give the U.S. Border Patrol unprecedented authority to ignore 36 environmental laws on federal land in a 100-mile zone along the Canadian and Mexican borders." What's fascinating is to see how Republicans frame the issue politically: They don't describe "unprecedented authority" as augmented power but as relief from the bureaucratic yoke. "Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Border Patrol 'has become encumbered with layers of environmental regulations,' making it difficult to deal with drug smugglers, human traffickers and other criminals who are targeting public lands along the U.S. borders," Hotakainen writes.  "The committee passed the plan on a 26-17 party-line vote this month."  

Could there be a win-win to the GOP proposal? With decimated U.S. Park Service and Forest Service budgets, the feds could always enlist the Border Patrol to repair some overused trails.    

Newspaper endorsements are not newsworthy per se unless, as The Seattle Times did this morning, an editorial board decides to make an about face. Previously, The Times had endorsed Democrat Richard Mitchell over incumbent Jane Hague for the District 6 seat on the Metropolitan King County Council. Not anymore. "Temperament cuts both ways," the Ed Board writes. "Shortly after endorsing Mitchell, we noticed his campaign ads against Hague and another primary challenger, John Creighton. They were nasty to the point of being offensive. Mitchell approved them." What's curious about the reversal is it transcends the temperament question (arguably a legitimate concern) and wades into the district's political demographics. "Hague is a moderate Republican, with support from 10 Eastside mayors and two prominent elected Democratic state lawmakers, who say she is a responsive and effective champion for their communities." The conclusion? "Mitchell would make a fine representative in a Seattle district that votes 80 percent Democrat. But he is running in an Eastside district that is more 'purple' than hard 'blue.' It is moderate, pragmatic and centrist. That is Hague. She fits the district." Oh, now they tell us.  

Tonight the Portland School Board will vote whether to permit "counter-recruiters" on high-school campuses. Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian writes, "Instead of standing out on the school sidewalk waving signs and offering fliers, as they have done regularly outside Portland high schools, anti-war activists will be able to staff recruiting tables and hand out pamphlets in the school career center or cafeteria, just like military recruiters in uniform." Hammond notes that a 1995 school-board ban on military recruiters was invalidated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind law, which ensures that the armed forces have the same campus access (as well as student phone numbers and addresses) as college recruiters. Who knew?  

If approved, the new policy would be identical to one adopted by both Seattle and San Francisco. Ideally, social scientists will be able to track the effectiveness of the "counter-recruiter" movement (assuming there are ways of quantifying its influence). In addition, how do counter-recruiters respond to the jobs' question? "Good news: the Wenatchee Valley is desperate for apple pickers."

Lastly, Amy Rolph of the Seattlepi.com posted a very cool video of an underwater volcano recorded by University of Washington Oceanographer Joseph Resing (at a depth of 4,000 feet no less)! Someone should email a link to every member of the Washington legislature: Continue to de-fund higher-ed, and our underwater-volcano watching will be limited to Pixar recreations.

Link summary

Seattle Times, "Jobs aplenty Americans don't want" 

Anchorage Daily News"GOP bill would let Border Patrol ignore environmental laws"

Seattle Times, "Jane Hague for King County Council District 6"

Oregonian, "Portland high schools set to permit anti-war protesters to recruit students alongside the military"

Seattlepi.com, "UW researcher catches underwater volcano on film" 


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson