Jan 152015
 

Tibet has been a neighbor of China for at least 700 years. During most of that time it has acted as a de facto state, maintaining a separate culture and identity. These two countries peacefully coexisted for 650 years until Mao’s army annexed and occupied Tibet in 1951. During the next 25 years, more than 1.2 million Tibetans were killed during the reforms of China’s Cultural Revolution. The Dali Lama and the Tibetan government are currently in exile in India. Tibetans say the Chinese government has committed cultural genocide while attempting to assimilate Tibet under its ‘One China’ policy. Several years ago, China completed a railway system linking the rest of China with the frozen Tibetan plateau. Critics say this was done to strengthen its political control over Tibet and to marginalize native Tibetans by encouraging further Han migration from the rest of China. China claims to have brought better living conditions and freedom of religious choice to an impoverished population. Since 2009, more than 116 Tibetans have chosen self-immolation as a way to protest against, and draw attention to, the abuses of Chinese rule. Beijing has taken a tough stance on Tibetan self-immolators and their associates, recently imprisoning two Tibetans convicted of murder for “inciting” people to set themselves on fire. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising, has long denied China’s assertion that he’s seeking Tibetan independence. He says Tibet wants only enough autonomy to protect its traditional Buddhist culture.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2080 – Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current China/Tibet policy and wish to defeat H.R.2080

I support making 3,000 immigrant visas available in 2014-2016 for individuals who were born in Tibet and have been continuously residing in India or Nepal prior to the date of the enactment of this Act, and wish to pass H.R.2080

I support efforts, including identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill, to aid Tibet in its struggle for autonomy

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

For many decades, Israelis and Palestinians have waged a bitter and bloody struggle over lands they both claim by historical right. In 2007, Israel instituted a blockade on the Gaza Strip and closed its border with Egypt. Since then, most Palestinians there have been living below the poverty level of $2/day. Some have turned to subsistence farming for survival. The Palestinian economy is experiencing great hardships from Israeli restrictions on its commercial trade and a ban on its exports, which had accounted for most of Gaza’s income. At times, food and water are scarce for these besieged people. At least 3 wars have been fought between these neighbors in the last 8 years, most recently last July. These wars have destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure and claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinian children and civilians. A relatively few number of Israelis have also lost their lives. Is has been 22 years since agreement was reached on the Oslo Accords which were intended to create a Palestinian state next to the Israeli one –a concept of two states for two peoples. Like all previous peace efforts this one failed. In 2012, the UN implicitly recognized Palestinian sovereignty by voting to upgrade its entity status to that of a “non-member state.” Some Palestinians now say the two-state solution is no longer a viable resolution to this conflict. Instead, they are campaigning for the creation of one democratic secular state for both Arabs and Jews which would include Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. However, this is not an attractive option to most Israelis because Palestinians, with higher birthrates, would soon become the majority and threaten the essence of Israel’s Jewish identity. President Obama has elucidated the choice Israel must make to end this conflict and normalize relations with its neighbors. He said our ally needs to either allow Palestinians to form their own state or to incorporate them into Israel as citizens. Should Israel decide to do neither, its economy may be the target of boycotts, divestment and sanctions from nations who view it as they did apartheid South Africa. Advocates say that bringing peace to this long-standing conflict will resolve the most volatile issue in the Middle East and reduce the animosity that exists for Israel and the United States in this region. Each year, we provide Israel with about $3 billion in military and economic aid while the Palestinians receive about $500 million in economic assistance.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current Israeli-Palestinian conflict policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill linking Israeli and Palestinian foreign aid to the resumption of peace negotiations

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Syria is engaged in a civil war between those loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad and those who wish to oust him. This struggle began with peaceful protests in 2011 and escalated into bloodshed a month later when government soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. Following months of military action, these protests evolved into an armed civil rebellion. This conflict has no clear front lines, with clashes taking place in many cities and towns. The rebel ranks, composed of ex-soldiers, foreign fighters and civilian volunteers are without centralized leadership. In 2013, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership because of its brutal response to this crisis. It gave Syria’s seat on the League to the Syrian National Coalition, a loose-knit group of former Syrian diplomats, generals and other expatriates based in Turkey. In 2014, the UN estimated this conflict’s death toll at about 200,000 people, more than half which were civilians and children. According to the UN, at least 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 1.5 million people have fled to other countries. Russia and other nations have accused both government and opposition forces of human rights violations but the UN has concluded that the government’s abuses are the greatest in gravity, frequency and scale. Our leaders have insisted Assad step down either voluntarily or by force and have debated whether to send humanitarian or military aid to the rebels. The Obama administration decided to ship a limited number of arms to vetted rebel groups in June of 2013. However, some are against sending arms to the Syrian rebels because of worries these weapons could be acquired and used by terrorists, who are known to be in Syria fighting Assad. Under threat of U.S. attack, Assad agreed to relinquish his stockpile of chemical weapons which were rendered inert. However, since this action, the West has retreated from their involvement in this conflict while Assad has received help from the Shia movement, leading to several military victories and causing analysts to believe his government is no longer facing imminent collapse. Last September, in response to advances by the Islamic State movement (ISIS, ISIL), a coalition of Arab and Western nations led by our military began a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria to degrade the ability of ISIS and other terrorist groups to launch attacks against its neighbors and the West. At this time, we also allocated $500 million to arm and train Syrian rebel groups.

Pending Legislation:

S.1201 & H.R.2494 – Protecting Americans from the Proliferation of Weapons to Terrorists Act of 2013

S.617 – Syria Democratic Transition Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Syria Civil War policy and wish to defeat S.1201 & H.R.2494 and S.617

I support restricting funds for the escalating military involvement in Syria; prohibiting funding for supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Syria by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual, and wish to pass S.1201 & H.R.2494

I support providing support for humanitarian activities taking place in and outside Syria; establishing of an inclusive representative form of government; contribute seed funding to establish a Syria Reconstruction Fund for the physical reconstruction and reestablishment of basic services in Syria after the fall of the Assad regime, and wish to pass S.617

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill authorizing arms shipments to the Syrian rebels

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

With Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959, Cuba ended nearly 500 years of Spanish and United States influence. Our unsuccessful Bay of Pigs revolt against this revolutionary took place in 1961 after we broke diplomatic relations with his government. Cuba then allowed the Soviet Union to build missile installations on their soil before President Kennedy talked Premier Khrushchev into abandoning this plan. When attempts to overthrow and assassinate Castro failed, we tried to destabilize his regime with an embargo that has lasted 50 years. These steps failed to remove Fidel from power and he designated his brother Raul to take over when he became ill in 2006. Raul won presidential elections in 2011 and 2013 but has stated he will not run for reelection in 2018. Embargo supporters, many of whom are ex-Cuban nationals living in Florida, claim the Castros are a danger to our nation and the Cuban people. Embargo critics say Cuba has not been a threat since the fall of the Soviet Union and that our embargo serves no purpose. They claim Cubans are suffering because of our past military and diplomatic policies. Many claim normalizing relations with Cuba would allow us to more easily assist the Cuban government as it moves towards capitalism and true democracy. President Obama has expressed an interest in negotiating with Cuba to end to the embargo but such an action would require Congressional approval.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1917 – United States-Cuba Normalization Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Cuba Sanctions policy and wish to defeat H.R.1917

I support repealing the embargo on trade with Cuba; removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism; amending the Internal Revenue Code to terminate the denial of the foreign tax credit; ending agricultural and medical export restrictions; establishing telecommunications and postal services, and wish to pass H.R.1917

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Over the years, the United Nations and Western countries have imposed many economic sanctions on Iran. We enacted sanctions following the 1979 hostage crisis and expanded them in 1995. In 2006, the UN imposed sanctions after Iran refused to abandon its nuclear enrichment program. It is feared this rogue nation is attempting to build nuclear weapons and the missile technology required to deliver them. These sanctions restricted bank transactions, prohibited petroleum exports, and blocked business dealings with Iranian individuals and its Revolutionary Guard Corps. Over time, these sanctions took a toll on Iran’s economy and its people. However, it still refused to curtail its nuclear program, claiming it is needed for medical purposes and to generate electricity. Critics claim Iran is attempting to enrich uranium at levels that go far beyond what is needed for peaceful uses. In 2012, following the failure of the UN Sanctions, Western governments enacted even tougher economic sanctions which have had an even greater effect on Iran’s economy. These new sanctions resulted a short-term deal between Iran and the U.S., Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany in which Iran agreed to freeze portions of its nuclear program in exchange for $7 billion in sanctions relief. This deal was seen as a prelude to a long-term agreement. However, Iran has not yet agreed to Western demands to halt its enrichment efforts. Israel, which feels threatened by Iran, has not only supported these tough sanctions but has also advocated for military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It is adamant in its belief that Iran should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. Analysts say military strikes will delay but not stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program because its facilities are widely dispersed and some are located deep underground. They also say that a nuclear-armed Iran is no more and no less dangerous than North Korea and to a lesser degree, Pakistan. They claim Iran will be deterred from using nukes, should it ever acquire them, by the vast nuclear arsenals of Western nations. They also Claim that Iran has not showed the same determination to make nuclear weapons as North Korea has exhibited. They say it is possible the West could convince Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for acceptance back into the world community.

Pending Legislations:

H.R.783 – Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act

H.R.850 – Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Iran sanctions policy and wish to defeat H.R.783 and H.R.850

I support harsher sanctions designed to force Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program including enacting sanctions on a foreign person that knowingly conducted or facilitated a significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran; sanctioning a financial institution that facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for a person that is subject to human rights-related sanctions, or exports sensitive technology to Iran, and wish to pass H.R.850

I support appointing a high-ranking envoy in charge of Iranian affairs who shall seek to ease tensions and normalize relations between the United States and Iran through bilateral and multilateral negotiations; rescinding the no contact policy with Iran; establishing an office in the State Department to support the work of the envoy, and wish to pass H.R.783

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In violation of signed agreements, North Korea is operating a nuclear reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Since 2006, this rogue nation has conducted three nuclear weapon tests and claims to possess enough plutonium to make about a dozen nukes. It has also tested several intermediate-range missiles and unsuccessfully launched a satellite. Our military believes North Korea has the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads for missile use. It says Alaska and Hawaii are already within range of these missiles, and that our West Coast could soon be also. Pyongyang blames its standoff with the West on the “hostile stance” taken by the United States. Some say North Korea believes our pre-emptive war with Iraq proves its own security can only be ensured with a nuclear deterrent force. It has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, voided the Korean War armistice treaty and threatened nuclear war if its facilities are attacked. In the past, the West has traded food and medicine for agreements to halt its nuclear weapons program. Currently, negotiations are at an impasse. China, North Korea’s long-standing ally, has provided it with crucial aid and diplomatic protection for many decades and is regarded as the only nation that can influence its behavior. Our government, and those of South Korea, Russia and Japan, has tried to convince China to intervene with its bellicose ally, but these requests have not yet been successful.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1771: North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current North Korea sanctions policy and wish to defeat H.R.1771

I support applying sanctions to any person, business entity, nongovernmental organizations, and governmental entities operating as business enterprises who import or export items related to weapons, technology or luxury goods; or those providing, selling, leasing, registering, or re-flagging a vessel, aircraft, or providing insurance or any other shipping or transportation service used to transport goods to or from North Korea; or those transferring, paying, exporting, withdrawing, or otherwise dealing with any property or interest in property of the government of North Korea for purposes of facilitating such unlawful activity or evading such regulations, and wish to pass H.R.1771

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In the past, our porous borders were blamed for the large number of undocumented immigrants in our country. However, due to increased border security and the poor economy, annual apprehensions of people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally have decreased to about 350,000 from more than 1.6 million in 2000. Our border patrol has doubled in size since 2005 and quintupled in size since 1993. Some politicians have suggested doubling again the number of border patrol agents from our current number of 18,500. The cost of this increase is estimated to be about $30 billion over 10 years including salaries, equipment, vehicles and infrastructure improvements. Critics say such an increase is unnecessary considering the recent decrease in unlawful immigration. Currently, we have completed nearly 700 miles of fencing along our northern and southern borders. To secure these borders, the Department of Homeland Security uses unattended ground sensors, truck-mounted and remote video surveillance systems, drones and fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft in an attempt to stem illegal immigration.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.72: Border Security, Cooperation, and Act Now Drug War Prevention Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current border security policy and wish to defeat H.R.72

I support providing up to 500 additional Border Patrol agents and law enforcement personnel to patrol and defend the border, combat drug trafficking, and combat smuggling of firearms, explosives, alcohol, and tobacco if the state’s governor declares an international border security emergency and requests such agents. Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of U.S. Border Patrol helicopters and power boats; establish a fleet of motor vehicles appropriate for use by the Border Patrol; equip such motor vehicles with portable computers with access to law enforcement databases; augment existing radio communication systems in areas in which the Border Patrol operates; and provide Border Patrol agents with global positioning system devices, night vision equipment, high-quality body armor, reliable and effective weapons, and uniforms, and wish to pass H.R.72

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are nearly 40 million first-generation immigrants living in our country today, including about 12 million people who are undocumented. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 14 million immigrants entered the United States. In 2008, more than one million people were naturalized as U.S. citizens. About 60% of all illegal immigrants are from Mexico and about 20% are from Central America. Family reunification is the reason for most legal immigration to the US. The number of immigrants who became legal permanent residents in 2009 as a result of family reunification (66%) exceeded those who became legal residents on the basis of employment skills (13%) or for humanitarian reasons (17%). Opponents of illegal immigration believe immigration laws should be better enforced and some believe undocumented immigrants living here should be deported. Some say that even legal immigration should be sharply curtailed. Immigration supporters claim our economy needs every person who contributes to our society, as most immigrants do. They remind us that our nation was created by, and attained greatness through, the acceptance and contributions of immigrants. Last Congress, our Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that increases our border patrol budget, offers a protracted path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented people currently living here, and provides eventual citizenship for immigrants who came to America as children. This bill was not considered by the House.

Pending Legislation:

House version of S.744 – Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

I oppose reforming current immigration policy and wish to defeat the House version of S.744

I support a path to citizenship for all undocumented people currently living in the United Sates, citizenship for immigrants who came to the United States as children, increases in our border patrol budget, and wish to pass the House version of S.744

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to better enforce all immigration laws including those relating to the deportation of undocumented immigrants

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Each year, more than 30 million non-immigrants cross our borders. These travelers include students, tourists, workers and businesspeople. Many of these visitors overstay their visas and elude detection due to lax enforcement by our Customs and Immigration Service. Our government has mutual agreements with about 30 friendly nations that permit people to cross each other’s borders without visas or any prescreening. At least 25 million people enter our country this way each year. It his estimated that more than 800,000 people have remained in our country with expired visas. Immigration control proponents claim we need to track each person who enters our country and enforce the limits imposed by their visa.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2631 — Visa Overstay Enforcement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current visa entry policy and wish to defeat H.R.2631

I support making it a felony for any alien to be unlawfully present in the United States for a period of 30 consecutive days except because of illness or any other extenuating circumstance; requiring such an alien to be punished in the case of a first offense, with a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both; and in the case of a subsequent offense, with a fine of not more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both. Declares that an alien convicted of a first offense may not be admitted to the United States for 5 years and may not be granted a visa for 10 years; and with a subsequent offense may not be admitted to the United States, and may not be granted a visa, and wish to pass H.R.2631

 Posted by at 12:00 am