Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Founding Illegals

"Meanwhile, illegal pioneers began moving across the Alleghenies and into the upper Ohio Valley, violating the king’s 1763 proclamation and a few more besides. (George would today be accused of softness on immigration; he kept shifting the line westward.) Immigrants from such déclassé spots as Germany and Ireland violated the laws and settled where they pleased. The upper Ohio was rife with illegal immigrants, ancestors of people who, in country clubs today, are implying a Mayflower ancestry."

read full article in the New York Times

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nobody wanted to send her 'home'

The Winter 2006 TCU alumni magazine contains a round-up of opinions about immigration from different people connected to the university. Here are short excerpts and links to a few of the pieces:

"Those who are here and who are coming here are, after all, family and neighbors. Be careful how you treat them. Be careful how you counsel your congressional delegation."
http://www.magazine.tcu.edu/articles/2006-04-FE3.asp

"We don't need a wall or more border patrol agents. My recommendations:
• Staff to screen out criminals and terrorists.
• Easy and quick processing of immigration documents.
• Working with other countries to determine why so many people are coming to the United States and then resolving those issues.
• Allowing people here illegally to become permanent residents and get on the path to citizenship.
• Talking with immigrants, documented and undocumented, to learn more about immigration issues."
http://www.magazine.tcu.edu/articles/2006-04-FE4.asp

"Many illegal immigrants do not know how to speak out against everything that surrounds them. I wanted to speak for those who are limited because of their legal status."
http://www.magazine.tcu.edu/articles/2006-04-FE5.asp

" Nancy Najera was from Juarez, Mexico. She was not supposed to be here.
She came for college, and stayed. Fort Worth loved her. Nobody wanted to send her 'home.' I think of Nancy whenever I hear someone bash Mexico's people, or call immigrants a burden, or complain about the Spanish language that Tejanos share with our cousins south of the border."
http://www.magazine.tcu.edu/articles/2006-04-FE7.asp

Sunday, December 03, 2006

And the ones who didn't die want a better life. And they want it here. Talk about impressive.

West Wing, Season 1, Episode 1: "Naval Intelligence reports approximately 1200 Cubans left Havana this morning. Approximately 700 turned back due to severe weather, some 350 are missing and presumed dead, 137 have been taken into custody in Miami and are seeking asylum. [pause] With the clothes on their backs, they came through a storm. And the ones that didn't die want a better life. And they want it here. Talk about impressive."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Upsidedown Luddism: The Case of Immigration

"Cox's grasp of rights theory is all the shakier in the following quotation:"

The fact that your grandmother, or great-grandmother, or you yourself, originated in some foreign clime … what exactly is this supposed to establish — that there should be unlimited immigration for all time to come? When I moved into my present neighborhood, the population was scant and prices were low; that's why I moved in. Then the population increased, prices went up, and it became very difficult for people like me to do what I did in 1986. Is that a moral problem? Should I try to pass a law guaranteeing that people like me should always be able to move in here?
"The confusion here is simply shocking. Cox is right that there is nothing immoral about the situation in his neighborhood, but it accords perfectly with the stance of his opponents. Open borders libertarians don't want to pass a law that foreigners should be able to move in; they simply oppose laws preventing people from moving in."

"So to go back to Cox's anecdote, it would be as if he moved in back in 1986, and then didn't like the people that moved in afterwards and so got his city council to pass a law preventing further newcomers, even though they could afford the rents and weren't violating any of the contractual provisions signed by the previous owners. And yes, if that's why people weren't moving in to his neighborhood, it would indeed be immoral."

"All the open border libertarians are claiming is that the politicians shouldn't be able to overturn the voluntary arrangements reached between foreigners and particular land owners (and employers) in the United States."

When Congress Checks Out

When Congress Checks Out

"Foreign policy has dominated the attention of Americans since 9/11, and especially since the Iraq war began. Major issues have included the formulation and execution of terrorism policy, the invasion of Afghanistan, prewar intelligence, the invasion of Iraq, the conduct of the Iraq war and its aftermath, the NSA's surveillance program, reform of the intelligence apparatus, homeland security, the treatment of detainees, and U.S. borders and immigration. And yet, Congress has failed to ask how policies in these areas have been carried out, how faithfully laws have been executed, how reasonably taxpayer dollars have been spent, how well the executive branch has stayed within its constitutional bounds, and how vigorously malfeasance or nonfeasance by public agencies and private contractors has been handled."

"Congress' failure to oversee the Department of Homeland Security has been crushing. Realistically, only Congress can prod such a massive department and determine whether when mad cow disease strikes or self-initiated Minutemen patrol the border, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or the Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), both part of the DHS, are able to manage the problems. The same is true of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which lost its robust independent status when it was subsumed in the DHS; it has been roiling with confusion ever since."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Crackdown on Newborns

A Crackdown on Newborns - New York Times

"[I]f building new barriers to basic care ends up filling emergency rooms with ever-sicker immigrants — and their citizen children — then the effort will have been a sorry example of self-defeating spite."

Monday, November 06, 2006

We may be Arabizing the Latin American children of illegal immigrants in the United States

Q: Depending on what happens on Nov. 7, what do you think is going to happen with the immigration debate, the whole spring mobilization?

A: At the very least, what we saw in the spring was a unification of the Mexican migrant family. My worry has been that children born in the United States of parents who are illegally here end up with a confusion of identities. Their parents are not settled in the United States, they do not vote here, they do not participate in a full way in the United States. Their children are born here but they hear about their parents every sort of negative chorus -- that their parents are freeloaders, that their parents are indeed illegal. No other children in America hear about their parents what the children of illegal immigrants hear.

One of the darkest conclusions I have is that we may be creating the very thing we say we are afraid of. We may be Arabizing the Latin American children of illegal immigrants in the United States, making them rather like the Arab children of France, that while they may have citizenship in the United States, they are not part of the United States. And within that anger we may be creating the very violence that we built a fence to forestall.

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=d805301961d45e05793090f785f74e5b&from=rss

The Not-So-Great Wall

The Not-So-Great Wall (2 Letters) - New York Times

"So now we will have the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and a fence along the border with Mexico."

"Which best represents the United States?"

...

"Mr. Bush, tear down this fence."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A growing number of depressed and downtrodden? No.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/20/AR2006102001660.html?referrer=emailarticle

"So at the end of the day what do we have? A growing number of immigrant poor? Well, yes. A growing number of depressed and downtrodden? No. Hispanic immigrants, like their immigrant predecessors, are optimists."

More...

Trying to speak someone's language is a sign of respect

http://elderj.wordpress.com/2006/10/22/ahn-nyung-ha-se-yo/

"To greet Koreans in Korean as a non-Korean is always a sure fire way to elicit surprise and a bit of cultural cool points. It doesn't matter how much I mangle the pronunciation or use the improper honorific or fail to conjugate the verb, it never fails to please at some level. Trying to speak someone's language is a sign of respect, especially for people whose chief aim is to assimilate as much and as quickly as possible to the dominant culture. It indicates that you value them, or at least care enough to recognize that they are not altogether like you, and that this is a good thing. As a Christian, trying to speak another language is a discipline of humility since it reduces my normally fluid command of language to sounding like a
stammering two year old..."

More

Republicans losing Latinos

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-na-outreach24oct24,1,5976766.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage&ctrack=1&cset=true

"Bush won an estimated 44% of the Latino vote in 2004. While polling numbers vary, many analysts said that represented about a 9-percentage-point improvement from 2000, suggesting that Latinos might become a substantial pillar upholding a durable Republican majority."

"But in recent months, Democratic activists watched with amazement as Republicans pushed into law a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and tried to make it a felony to migrate illegally or to help undocumented immigrants. The latter provision did not become law, but it especially angered some church leaders, who said it would have criminalized their religious duty to help the least privileged in society."

"Despite Bush's lobbying for an immigrant guest-worker program, favored by many Latinos, conservative lawmakers in the House refused to bend, forcing Bush to endorse the fence legislation and dimming his popularity among Latinos."

"A survey released this month by the Latino Coalition found Latino registered voters supporting Democrats over Republicans 56% to 19% in congressional elections. "If Republicans nationally get 25% of the Hispanic vote, it would be a miracle," said Robert de Posada, the coalition president."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Anti-a**hole immigration

Guy Kawasaki has this early review of Robert Sutton's book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. U.S. immigration policy is sorely in need of some of Sutton's anti-a**hole principles:

Do not make people feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled.

Do not mistreat people who are less powerful than you.

Focus on win-win.

Focus on ways you are no better or even worse than others.

Focus on ways you are similar to people, not different.

Tell yourself, “I have enough stuff (money, toys, friends, cars, whatever).”

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Illegal immigrants used as pawns in heated campaign rhetoric

By Mark Brown

The Senate's immigration plan, the one favored by Duckworth and McCain (and yes, Kennedy), also calls for tougher border measures, but would allow those 12 million illegal immigrants to stay in the country. It would require them to register with the government and earn their legalized status by paying a fine, paying their taxes and learning English, among other requirements. It would take 11 years to clear all the hurdles.
You may consider that a form of amnesty. A lot of people who have studied this issue, though, think that eventually Congress will adopt some version of the Senate approach, because it will have a much better chance to work in the long run than just cracking down.

It just wouldn't have made so divisive a campaign issue for the midterm elections.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Multiple Fronts of Immigrant Rights Movement

Multiple Fronts of Immigrant Rights Movement

by Mark Schurmann

EDITOR’S NOTE: NAM convened a summit of ethnic media practitioners and immigrant rights activists on Sept. 21 at the Japanese American Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Over 125 participants spent a day discussing where they see immigrant rights in their regions and how to build more powerful communications within the movement. The summit was sponsored by the Rockefeller Family Fund, The Dream Fund of the Knight Foundation and the California Community Foundation.

Read more

'Good' Latinos and 'Bad' Latinos in the Age of Homeland Security and Global War

Cruising on Military Drive
'Good' Latinos and 'Bad' Latinos in the Age of Homeland Security and Global War
by Roberto Lovato

Not far from the white walls of the Alamo, Mexican and other Latino immigrants are again being cast as the anonymous "bad guys" as they run up against the political, physical, and psychic borders of the U.S. immigration debate. As the Bush Administration and the Republican Party continue their steady spiral downward, they have done what Bill Clinton and other politicians have done in times of crisis: declare war. Viewed from this perspective, the election year focus on immigrants serves the same function as the Iraq war in terms of keeping the populace on war footing, this time against the "invaders" denounced on billboards in San Antonio and across the country.

In what is not so much a coincidence as it is an urgent political necessity, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party have, in their desperation, taken the frame of war and applied it to the issue of immigration. Witness Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) who set the tone of recent hearings of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation by remarking that Homeland Security officials report that "Al-Qaeda has considered crossing our Southwest borders," and "It may already have happened."

...

But not all is dreary in the Latino Americas. The repressive and assimilationist pressures influencing the identity of "good" Latinos in El Salvador, at the Alamo, and in Iraq are also giving way to another kind of struggle, another kind of Latino: the movimientista. One of the collateral effects of the raids, exploitation, surveillance, and other repressive components of the war on immigrants has been to energize and inform identities of defiance among many Latinos. Because they are arguably those most affected by national security policies and their cultural implications, immigrants have been forced to take their place alongside African Americans, women, Latin American revolutionaries, and others who sought to redefine freedom beyond the usual notions.

Read more

Friday, September 15, 2006

Assuming Congress' primary goal is to stem illegal immigration and not to kill potential undocumented immigrants...

By Simone Baribeau on September 11, 2006 - 12:54am.

According to a 2002 report of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), a nonprofit research institution, the INS budget for border enforcement saw a three fold increased from 1995 to 2001, after a seven fold increase in the previous fifteen years. The result, according to the report, was "an increase in the probability of apprehension," the very thing Frist is currently touting as a Republican success.

What this did not translate into, however, was a decrease in illegal immigration.

According to PPIC's report, the number of deaths due to environmental causes of unauthorized migrants increased almost four fold from 1994 to 2000, presumably because immigrants were crossing in more remote areas due to the increased border control.

Perhaps some in Congress see this is a positive end in and of itself. After all, no one would mourn a terrorist dying of exposure to heat. And, the words "immigrant" and "terrorist" are becoming more and more conflated, due, in part, to comments by politicians such as those in a Republican Party primary ad, which, the Wall Street Journal reported (WSJ subscribers only), warn that acceptance of Mexican ID cards "can threaten our security" by permitting immigrants in planes and government buildings.

But, assuming Congress' primary goal is to stem illegal immigration and not to kill potential undocumented immigrants, fences and border guards don't seem to be the solution.

More here

Once they're here, they're us. And once they're us, we're in it together.

A USA Today article about Hispanics in Utah contained this closing truth:

Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini created the Community Building Community program that brings volunteers and local agencies together to help immigrants. "Immigration is always going to be part of America," Seghini says. "Once they're here, they're us. And once they're us, we're in it together."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blessed is the Law—Up to a Point

A gentle challenge—and invitation—to the critics of our recent immigration editorial.
by Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today | posted 04/07/2006 03:15 p.m.

We expected a fair amount of criticism for portraying sympathetically the plight of immigrants in "Blessed are the Courageous." We did not expect one complaint to be repeated in nearly every email:

Your article "Blessed Are the Courageous" misses the point. People, regardless of their beliefs, nationality, good or bad are illegal if they do not follow the law to enter the country. If we are a nation where the rule of law is supreme, then it is wrong to only obey the laws we believe in, and disobey those we don't.
Since nearly every critic expressed this exact sentiment, we thought some clarifications were in order, as well as a challenge for our law-and-order brothers and sisters. While legislation has been temporarily scuttled, we nonetheless want to encourage conversation about issues surrounding immigration.

On the one hand, as the editorial noted, "respect for law is non-negotiable." We do not admire Maria and others for breaking the law, but for the courage, fortitude, and faith they evidence as they make their way into the U.S. We admire them in the same way nearly everyone admires Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Even if some might repudiate his participation in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, even if they believe he was deeply mistaken and unethical to do so, they still admire his willingness to courageously risk his life to stop great evil.

Undocumented workers are here illegally. It may not be politically correct to call them "illegal aliens," but in fact, they are. It is deeply regrettable that they have broken the laws of our land. We recognize that a society cannot enjoy justice or freedom if laws are regularly flaunted. But this does not take away from the fact that it takes courage, perseverance, and faith to get here. While we do not admire lawbreaking, we cannot help but admire people who go through great privation to attain the dream of economic and political liberty.

On the other hand, as the editorial also noted, " … [the law] is not everything." Surely Christians of all people should recognize that there are moments when law-and-order is not "supreme."

This is nothing less than a biblical principle, as witnessed in Daniel's determination to worship his God despite "the laws of the Medes and Persians," in Rahab's betrayal of her people to help Israeli spies, in Jesus' unwillingness to submit to Sabbath laws when they harmed people, in the early apostles' refusal to cease preaching despite the authorities' command. As Peter put it to them, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God" (Acts 4:19). In each instance, the law of man was superceded by the law of love—of God and of neighbor.

Furthermore, it is difficult to understand how any American can consider law-and-order "supreme" when one of this nation's most celebrated moments was the hooliganism we call the Boston Tea Party, and when this nation itself was founded on overthrowing not just a law but an entire government. Our Declaration of Independence is nothing but an explanation to the world for this law-defying act.

The American founders recognized that "prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," and that "mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." In other words, day to day, there is very good reason to obey law, even if having to do so causes one a fair amount of inconvenience.

At the same time, the founders noted, "that whenever any form of government becomes destructive … , it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. … " If this is true of a particular authority (like the U.S. or British governments), how much more true of individual laws?

Laws are repudiated regularly in large and small ways by otherwise law-abiding people. Sometimes, laws are ignored because they fail to serve the genuine and irrepressible needs or desires of people, or do more harm than good, or because they are simply impossible to enforce. Laws that are impossible to enforce do as much damage to respect for law as does excessive disobedience.

This was certainly the case with Prohibition: It became increasingly impossible to enforce consistently partly because it never really gained the assent of the populace.

It is arguably the case with our current immigration laws, and especially with some of the more draconian bills recently introduced (but now apparently abandoned) in the House of Representatives. Since 9/11, U.S. law has made it so onerous and expensive to gain entry into this country, immigrants whose lives are being destroyed by economic and/or political oppression, have determined to pursue life and liberty regardless. Before 9/11 there were some 8 million undocumented workers in the U.S. Now there are 12 million—a 50 percent increase in a mere five years—despite increased surveillance and enforcement. Clearly the current immigration law not only fails to address the needs of desperate people, it is for all purposes unenforceable.

A further unenforceable fact: the near impossibility of "holding accountable" (as some readers argue) the 12 million undocumented workers in our midst. We can think of no way the government could round up and deport 12 million people—short of creating a police state. This does not mean we would recommend a blanket amnesty. But it does mean whatever provision we create for these 12 million, we better make sure it meets the genuine social and political needs that these 12 million represent (both their needs, and our nation's need for workers), and that it is enforceable.

The issue before us is not whether law should be obeyed in normal circumstances. We all agree on that. In addition, everyone agrees that under certain circumstances, laws should be disobeyed. Even normally law-abiding Christians assent to that—or deny the witness of Scripture.

The question is: Under what circumstances is it appropriate to disobey a law? And the particular question facing us now is: If a person from another land is suffering economic and political hardship, and if the immigration policies of the U.S. make it nearly impossible for some immigrants to enter this nation, is it legitimate (albeit regrettable) for an immigrant to enter this nation clandestinely to gain those freedoms?

About this particular concern, Christians will disagree. Some will argue that compassion for the suffering should take precedence over strict adherence to law.

While security, overtaxed healthcare, and other issues also desperately need to be addressed, CT thinks legislation reform should give some slack to those who have entered our land illegally. Some will remain unconvinced.

But it seems to us that those who remain unconvinced have to do more than merely proclaim the supremacy of law-and-order. They have to explain, in the face of the biblical teaching to extend hospitality to the stranger and succor to the suffering, why the law of man should reign supreme in this instance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The New Culture War

By Rinku Sen
TomPaine.com
July 20, 2006

In the ongoing battle over immigration, conservative rhetoric continues to escalate. It's racist, and it gets results. This year, more than 30 states have passed 57 laws banning the undocumented from receiving social services or pledging National Guard troops to patrol the southern U.S. border. Earlier this week, House Republicans in Washington staged a hearing about "cracking down" on undocumented immigrants. Republicans have been told to move ahead but avoid pissing off Latinos - their lesson from Proposition 187 in California -- but a little decoding of the symbols, soundbites and economic arguments they use exposes their fear of a browner nation.

Here, then, are the six racist myths driving the immigration debate dispelled.

Immigrants are not animals. Last week, Rep. Steve King, R.-Iowa, presented his proposal to Congress for a "super fence" along the border. "We could electrify it," he said, "not enough to kill somebody but enough to make them think twice. We do that with livestock all the time." If the problem eased, he suggested, we could open it up again and "let the livestock run through." Enough said.

Read more here

Immigration: Start Over

By Laura Carlsen
TomPaine.com
June 29, 2006

Laura Carlsen is the director of the IRC Americas Program.

In recent weeks, newspapers featured variations of a stern-visaged soldier standing guard on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Bush administration's decision to begin deployment of thousands of National Guard members on the border sparked protests in both countries.

Combined with the raids on undocumented workers in mid-June, it also belied the benevolence of the current immigration reform that some had heralded as progress.

As the so-called security measures move full steam ahead, House leaders recently announced that they will hold public hearings over the summer before discussing a joint House-Senate immigration bill. Comprehensive reform has fallen off the fast track, and with the November elections complicating the political stage will likely not be taken up until next year.

Given the current political climate, that might be just as well. There is no doubt that immigration reform is an urgent national priority. Twelve million people living and working without citizenship, legal security or labor rights not only hurts them but erodes the democratic base of society, divides communities and foments racism and discrimination. A labor market that encourages cheap immigrant labor while failing to offer legal status sends mixed messages to society about the role of its workers.

These profound contradictions must be resolved. However, the proposals on the board do little to really resolve them. The House law myopically interprets immigration as solely a problem of crime and punishment while the Senate version--closely following the proposals laid out by President Bush--attempts to reconcile labor needs with calls for "border security."

There is no logical or practical way to reconcile the portrayal of immigrants as security threats with their day-to-day role in the labor market and their communities. Imposing a security paradigm on the immigration debate has obscured the real issues and opened up dangerous tendencies within society.

Read more here

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Framing of Immigration

by George Lakoff, Sam Ferguson

Framing is at the center of the recent immigration debate. Simply framing it as about “immigration” has shaped its politics, defining what count as “problems” and constraining the debate to a narrow set of issues. The language is telling. The linguistic framing is remarkable: frames for illegal immigrant, illegal alien, illegals, undocumented workers, undocumented immigrants, guest workers, temporary workers, amnesty, and border security. These linguistic expressions are anything but neutral. Each framing defines the problem in its own way, and hence constrains the solutions needed to address that problem. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we will analyze the framing used in the public debate. Second, we suggest some alternative framing to highlight important concerns left out of the current debate. Our point is to show that the relevant issues go far beyond what is being discussed, and that acceptance of the current framing impoverishes the discussion.

Click here for more...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Super but Undocumented

Re "Truth, Justice and (Fill in the Blank)," by Erik Lundegaard (Op-Ed, June 30):

In all versions of the tale, Superman arrived as an undocumented alien. Conservative bloggers complain because the current movie has dropped specific mention of his struggle for "the American way" of life.

So how can these conservatives support this one undocumented yet assimilated fictional man's struggle for the American way and not that of the 12 million other undocumented, most of whom struggle daily to be part of the American way of life?

John F. Burckardt

Cambridge, Mass., July 1, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Immigration law as apartheid

Various posts by Mike Linksvayer

Excerpts:

"Anyone who professes to care about inequality and does not call for complete freedom to move, live and work across jurisdiction borders is deluded by the fog of jurisdicitonism."

"I don’t think open immigration would destroy capitalism or end affluence (the opposite in both cases), but regardless for moral reaons I think restrictions on movement and employment must be ended, roughly the same reasons South African Apartheid had to go."

Monday, April 24, 2006

The permutations of "alien"

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5340507

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wage war on poverty, not immigrants

Wage war on poverty, not immigrants
March 28, 2006
BY JESSE JACKSON

"Si se puede!" Yes we can. They marched by the hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles, by the tens of thousands in Milwaukee, in Phoenix, in New York. Across the country, Hispanics dramatically entered what has been an increasingly ugly debate about immigration in this country.

Rep. Tom Tancredo is gaining national attention railing against undocumented immigrants. He wants them turned into felons, a wall built along our border to keep them out, police dispatched to send them home. He does not bother to tell us how he plans to transport 11 million estimated undocumented workers out of the country. Nor what will happen to the millions of their children who were born here and are American citizens.

Senate leader Bill Frist is doing his own Tancredo. Efforts by Senators Kennedy and McCain to fashion a compromise look likely to fail in the face of the furies. President Bush has offered an employers bill -- why does this not surprise? He'd increase enforcement at the border, but create a guest worker program so that employers could ship low wage immigrants in, so long as they promise to boot them out when they've finished exploiting them.

When employers brought slaves to America, few objected as long as they were prepared to work without wages and without rights. When they began to demand equal rights, all hell broke loose. No one minded when Mexican farm workers came to pick the crops, do the lawns, clean the houses. When they started to demand the right to citizenship, to vote, to organize -- the furor started.

American workers are sensibly worried that the flood of immigrant labor will bring lower wages as part of the global race to the bottom. But their complaint is with employers who prefer undocumented workers whom they can exploit without complaint, and with federal and state authorities who turn a blind eye to that exploitation.

There is no way anyone is going to locate, arrest, detain and ship millions of undocumented workers out of America. Our choice is whether we want to maintain permanently a large underclass of undocumented workers that can be easily exploited by cynical employers, and slurred by callous politicians -- or whether we want to fulfill America's promise by providing them with a road to citizenship, benefitting from their willingness to work, pay taxes and contribute.

How do we stop our country from being overrun by impoverished immigrants if we offer them pathways to citizenship? There is only one way -- and it is not mentioned in this debate. We passed a treaty called NAFTA with Mexico and Canada that guaranteed rights to employers and investors but not to workers. The results have been catastrophic. Wages in Mexico, the United States and Canada have fallen. Mexico now exports more cars to the United States than the United States exports to the world -- all made by U.S. companies benefitting from cheap labor in Mexico. And U.S. food exports have displaced millions of poor Mexican peasants and driven them from their communities. They don't come to the United States because they want to leave their homes. They come desperate for work.

The only way to stop the flood of immigrants is to help lift their standards up, rather than drive ours down. When Europe created one trading union including impoverished Spain and Portugal, the high wage countries of the north spent billions on development in the poorer countries, while demanding that they adhere to labor rights, environmental protections and basic social protections. While those countries still are not as wealthy as those in the north, their people were given hope and opportunity -- and would much prefer to stay home.

We can spend billions trying to lock immigrants out and hold those that come in down. Or we can devote energy and resources now wasted on a civil war in Iraq to help lift our neighbors up, gain real trading partners and significantly reduce the misery that drives people from their homes.

Potential presidential candidates like Frist, Tancredo and even supposedly straight-talking John McCain won't say anything like this. But that's the truth. And in the end, it is the truth, and only the truth, that will set you free.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

How to Speak Minnesotan

A Prairie Home Companion from American Public Media: "HOW TO SPEAK MINNESOTAN

Dear Garrison,
I realize that your show's main pull is nostalgia for a Minnesota (or an America) that once was. Ethnic Norwegians, Swedes, and German Catholics living in sheltered communities.

However, the Minnesota of today is largely urban-centered and that Norwegian/Swede cultural domination is slowly giving way to Hmong, Laotians, and Vietnamese, Somalis and Ethiopians, Mexicans and Russian Jews. Perhaps your show could reflect this new Minnesota a bit more.

Thanks,
Douglas, from St. Paul

Douglas, the Somalis and Ethiopians who listen to the show regularly like it just the way it is. They feel that it teaches them something about American English and the midwestern culture in which they find themselves. It was strange to them when they arrived, and the show makes it less so. You are naive about culture, my friend, if you think that we can put it on and take it off as one might put on a serape or put some African carvings up on the mantle. We are who we are. Foreigners realize that. When they come to the midwest, they find a very distinct culture. It doesn't reflect them particularly and they have to accommodate to it, just as you would need to make peace with the French if you lived in France. "

Marketplace: Should we fear China... or ourselves?

Marketplace: Should we fear China... or ourselves?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Catholic Charities USA - Caring for the Strangers Among Us

Catholic Charities USA - Caring for the Strangers Among Us
Selected Teachings from Our Catholic Faith Tradition


The essential starting point for Catholic social teaching is the dignity of every human life. Created by God and redeemed by Christ, every person possesses a fundamental dignity that comes from God, not from any human attribute or accomplishment…This clear commitment to the dignity and value of every human life must be reflected both in individual choices and actions and in the policies and structures of society.

Read more

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Mae M. Ngai | The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States, 1921-1965 | Law and Histor

Mae M. Ngai | The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States, 1921-1965 | Law and History Review, 21.1 | The History Cooperative

No statute of limitations

There is no statute of limitations for illegal immigration like there is for many crimes.

In Minnesota, for example, charges in most crimes have to be brought within three years, after which the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted. Arson is five years, as is theft, forgery or fraud. Bribery of a public official is six years. Sex offenses against adults are nine years. Kidnappings and death crimes have no statute of limitations. (Source)

Our current system has no statute of limitations for illegal immigration, which isn't even a crime in most circumstances. No matter how long you've been here, you never emerge from that threat of deportation. An illegal immigrant could get in more trouble for simply being here than for arson, theft, bribery, or sex offenses.