Monday, July 30, 2007

the immigrant problem

Via ImmigrationProf Blog, the Chicago Tribune reports on the human effects of increased enforcement efforts by federal immigration agencies:

Breaking the silence in a middle-class enclave of tract homes and cul-de-sacs in St. Michael, federal immigration agents recently swooped in and grabbed Sara Muñoz, carting away the illegal Mexican immigrant before her five crying U.S.-born children.

In nearby Minneapolis, activist Juana Reyes was nabbed for her illegal status as she stepped out of her car, spurring a rapidly transforming neighborhood into action on behalf of her 9-year-old daughter, a U.S. citizen.

And, 110 miles south in Austin, Minn., Latin American immigrants are afraid to open their doors, while longtime residents press the mayor to do more to stop the changes in a town built around the headquarters of the Hormel Foods meatpacking operation.
Similar scenes nationwide are part of a ramping up of federal arrests of illegal immigrants, activity Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently warned is "gonna get ugly" after federal immigration legislation failed last month.

Arrests from workplace raids have skyrocketed from about 845 in 2004 to nearly 4,000 this year, federal records show. Arrests of illegal immigrants who have ignored court orders to leave the country have doubled since last year to a rate of about 685 a week.

"We're gonna do more enforcement actions," Chertoff said recently, lamenting Congress' failure to move immigration overhaul forward and predicting extensive grief. "And, if they have kids at home, even if we make arrangements with social services to take care of the kids, the kids are gonna be scared because Mommy or Daddy is not coming home that day."
This is compassionate conservatism at its finest.
"We want them ... looking over their shoulders all the time," said Marlene Nelson, 63, a member of the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction, among scores of such groups pushing for more enforcement.
Restrictionists, or “enforcement groups”, are having an effect in states, counties, and towns across the country. Hazleton, PA, was one of the first to act against illegal immigrants.
Hazleton sought to impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. Another measure would have required tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.
But how do municipalities discern law-abiding Hispanic citizens or permanent residents from law-breaking illegal immigrants?

One solution would be a tamper-proof national ID card. Here, a patriot speculates on the likely impact of such a measure:
As the illegal immigrants first appeared several weeks ago on the streets of Hazleton without their national ID cards, the initial reaction of the citizens of the Pennsylvania town was surprise. Only a few knew that there were still so many in Pennsylvania. Everyone suddenly found someone in the neighborhood who seemed like a harmless fellow citizen, who perhaps complained or criticized a bit more than normal, and whom no one had thought to be an illegal. He had concealed himself, mimicked his surroundings, adopting the color of the background, adjusted to the environment, in order to wait for the proper moment. Who among us had any idea that the enemy was beside him, that a silent or clever auditor was attending to conversations on the street, in the subway, or in the lines outside cigarette shops? There are illegals one cannot recognize by external signs. These are the most dangerous. It always happens that when we take some measure against the illegals, French or Canadian newspapers report it the next day. Even today the illegals still have secret connections to our enemies abroad and use these not only in their own cause, but in all military matters of the homeland as well. The enemy is in our midst. What makes more sense than to at least make this plainly visible to our citizens?
And for good measure:
The illegals have no right to claim equality with us. If they wish to speak on the streets, in lines outside shops or in public transportation, they should be ignored, not only because they are simply wrong, but because they are illegal aliens who have no right to a voice in the community.
If you think I’m exaggerating, visit any well-trafficked immigration blog, and you’ll find gems like this:
Hopefully we can rid our country of these filthy Mexican parasites long before 2012. You can go with them.
The classics never go out of style . . .
The Jews are a parasitic race that feeds like a foul fungus on the cultures of healthy but ignorant peoples. There is only one effective measure: cut them out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"the press is on your side"

Bill O'Reilly is a tool. This we knew. Most lately he's been--out of ignorance or malice, or some combination of the two--spreading misinformation about the state of immigration law as it relates to gay couples. Again, nothing unexpected about this. He says that American citizens can't sponsor their foreign gay partners for a green card, but that it is no big deal since then those people can just get a green card through the "normal channels," by showing ties to the community, getting a good job, relying on professional skills, or some other horse puckey like that.

First of all, many foreign spouses have overstayed their visas and are here illegally. Normally, overstaying a visa or working without authorization from the government will prevent you from obtaining a green card down the line. However, there is an exception for spouses of U.S. citizens. A gay spouse who has overstayed his or her visa or worked without authorization receives no such protection. Our immigration laws reflect the collective decision that, if the spouse of a U.S. citizen slips up along the line, doesn't file the correct form when he should, or waits too long to renew his work permit, we are not going to ship that person off to Pakistan, Mali, Thailand, or from whencever he came. That would be heartless and cause much suffering to citizens who had the misfortune to fall in love with foreigners. But gay couples get no such treatment.

Secondly, Bill's understanding of immigration law falls far short of the level someone who holds forth about it on television to millions of viewers should have attained. Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, gives the example of a gay couple from Pennsylvania she knows who have been together 17 years and are raising two children together. When the foreign partner's visa expires, he's out on his ass. No problem, says Bill, he can just show "ties to the community" and other fluffandstuff that any decent hardworking immigrant can manage if they have a mind to, and presto chango, abracadabra, viola--green card!

No, Bill, no. It doesn't work that way. You can't just show that you have been here a long time and you're a hardworking individual and that people in the community will vouch for you. If it were that easy, we wouldn't have 12 million or more people in this country who the government says shouldn't be here. Immigrants who have been here for many years and find themselves in removal proceedings can sometimes apply for "cancellation of removal" based on potential hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen relative, but if your relationship to a U.S. citizen is not recognized by the U.S. government, then that relief is not available to you.

Bill's point is doubly disingenuous, since he and others like him are working hard to make sure it is not easy for just anyone to get legal status through "the normal channels," whatever those are.

In short, what he's saying makes no sense and I have a hard time believing he doesn't know he's misleading people. That is his stock in trade.

My favorite line of his to Tiven: "The press is on your side." Such modesty--he has the number one cable news commentary show by a good margin, but he's still not managed to reach the hallowed ranks of the press. O'Reilly the underdog, always fighting for the little guy. It warms my heart.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I've not been posting much at all lately on account of me getting married last weekend. So now I am wed to a truly stellar woman. Cool!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

red scare

Matt reports on the crazies:

James Fallows, reports that according to Gary Hart and Lee Hamilton, Lynn Cheney wanted to start a war with China back in the pre-9/11 era. According to Francis Fukuyama among Bill Kristol and his circle in the 90s "There was actually a deliberate search for an enemy because they felt that the Republican Party didn't do as well" in the absence of a pressing foreign threat, and the consensus was that the enemy should be China.

These are crazy people.
The “silver lining” to 9/11, if there is such a thing, is that we didn’t end up at war with China, which would have killed exponentially more people than the current war on terra. Our government was going to have a war one way or another, so better a low-level, intermittent pseudo-war (excluding Iraq, which is utterly fucked) than a major confrontation between two populous, ambitious nuclear powers.

looking over your shoulder

Andrew Sullivan puts it concisely:

Any non-citizen in this country is at risk of government detention at any time. If they can do it to citizens, they sure can to aliens.
Without citizenship, they can throw you into jail and leave you there indefinitely with no legal recourse. It happens frequently to people who’ve fled violence in their home countries, overstayed a visa, or crossed the border to work. But since, as it turns out, the reason we have a legal system that allows things like this is because most citizens are A-ok with these outcomes, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

more cowbell!

My neighbors decided to celebrate the fourth earlier today with a BBQ with 4 foot speakers and nonstop reggae. Somebody at the BBQ decided to grace the neighborhood for an hour or two with his improvised percussive accompaniment on a kitchen pot. It was excruciating, and I had to wonder whether Bruce Dickinson was down there egging him on ...

It's after 11:30 p.m. now, and firecrackers are still going off intermittently. Summers tend to be noisy here.

the refugee problem

There is a simple explanation for why we’ve not admitted more Iraqi refugees to the U.S., but it hadn’t even occurred to me until Jim Henley pointed it out. Letting in Iraqi refugees would seem to be a no-brainer—we liberated them from Saddam so some must be nominally pro-American, we want to win hearts and minds in Iraq, and there’s a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Iraq for which we are largely responsible. Letting in large numbers of refugees is tantamount to admitting we’ve failed to stabilize Iraq, and so I see why the U.S. government has resisted it. Otherwise, though, this seems to be an issue both left and right could agree on, much like Darfur.

But as much as the pro-war crowd likes to draw distinctions between “good” Middle Eastern Muslims (non-Hezbollah Lebanese, Iraqi Shi’ites and Kurds, Iranian protesters, sometimes Abbas) and “bad” ones (everyone else), the fact is, they’re still Middle Eastern Muslims and for that reason not fully trusted by most Americans. Not only that, but we are collectively responsible for turning their country into a charnel house. What if some small fraction of the thousands of Iraqi refugees we allow in later become the next 9/11 hijackers? It’s a risk our government isn’t willing to take. So instead we’ll let the staunch Ameri-philes in Syria and Iran welcome with open arms Iraqi refugees with a serious grudge against the U.S. I’m sure that will work out splendidly.