Archive for ‘Specials: Immigration’

June 5, 2011

America is Exceptional and Hypocritical

by Vince Giordano

The first point is a horse beaten to death. Get your fill in the “sermon” by Tim Pawlenty above.

As for the second point, this deals not with politics but with agricultural work. I read this article in a different lens after working on the farm the past week. I have grown up working hard with my dad (who has been a landscaper for 30 years), with my Boy Scout troop creating 13+ feet high campfires and completing maintenance tasks, and now pulling out malta flora rose bushes that are entangled with vines overgrown for the past 10 years.

I take back my part about politics being out of this topic. It is at the center of it. Barack Obama is taking action by requiring all ag workers to be cleared as U.S. citizens before they can work. This sounds pragmatic, but troubling for a few sectors. 80% of the labor force in the ag field is made up of illegal immigrants.  An easy response to that glaring labor need is to hire Americans. The ironic point in all of this is that for as exceptional and great America is, how far advanced, smug, and pompous we are, we (to some large degree) refuse to do this kind of available work:

“We are headed toward a train wreck,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat whose district includes agriculture-rich areas. “The stepped up (workplace) enforcement has brought this to a head.”

Lofgren said farmers are worried that their work force is about to disappear. They say they want to hire legal workers and U.S. citizens, but that it’s nearly impossible, given the relatively low wages and back-breaking work.

“Few citizens express interest, in large part because this is hard, tough work,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak said this past week. “Our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers to do the right thing.”

Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers, said migrant farm workers are exposed to blistering heat with little or no shade and few water breaks. It’s skilled work, he said, requiring produce pickers to be exact and quick. While the best mushroom pickers can earn about $35,000 to $40,000 a year for piece work, there’s little chance for a good living and American workers don’t seem interested in farm jobs.

“It is extremely difficult, hard, dangerous work,” Rodriguez said.

Last year Rodriguez’s group started the “Take Our Jobs” campaign to entice American workers to take the fields. He said of about 86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs.

“That really was thought up by farm workers trying to figure out what is it we needed to do to show that we are not trying to take away anyone’s job,” Rodriguez said.

Several times in those sections Americans are hinted to be unwilling to take some of these available jobs. If such a glaring gap in inquiry and taking a job (86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs) is present, can anyone then blame the President and the crummy economy and not their own unemployed self?

Straying away from open jobs has pushed our country to strongly desire comfy, cozy work and benefits that are unsustainable in the long term.Yes, this may be a larger problem in the educational sector than many other jobs, but much of our IT work has too been outsourced.

America the great. America the exceptional. Figure this out (along with our huge prison issue) or continue to sound hypocritical.

June 4, 2011

Myth Busting the Immigration Discussion

by Vince Giordano

This is worth watching:

June 1, 2011

Divided They Stand

by Vince Giordano

TIME magazine ran a good piece on the politics of Arizona. It’s worth reading in full. Here are some money quotes and comments.

Arizona is, after all, the Grand Canyon State. Its defining topographical feature is literally a divide. The politics of the state, not just in these past few weeks but in the past few years, has been all about division, as though every argument we are having as a nation plays out there on a breathtaking scale. The budget is a shambles, the schools are among the worst in the country, the governor is accused of running “death panels” for cutting off funding for organ transplants for some Medicaid patients. Representative Giffords’ Tea Party — backed opponent held a “Get on target for victory” shoot-out at a gun range as a campaign event. Rallies against a controversial immigration bill last year featured so many tearful calls to prayer and accusations of Nazism that it seemed like an all-Hispanic version of the Glenn Beck show. “It’s as bad as I’ve seen in 40 years of observing Arizona politics,” says Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “We have so many real problems, and all our leadership has done is [pursue] polarizing issues using very strident language.”

Hence the picture. Here is a very brief history of the rather young state (less than 100 years old and less than a dozen senators in it’s history):

A certain level of discord was sewed into the fabric of Arizona from the outset. The center of the state was settled largely by “washed-up 49ers,” as Tucson lawyer and history buff David Hardy puts it, who were returning empty-handed and somewhat wild-eyed from California. Among them was a morphine-addicted prospector named Jack Swilling, who founded Phoenix. The libertarian DNA — the same strain that made Giffords a fan of concealed weapons and caused state senator Lori Klein to carry a handgun to Governor Jan Brewer’s state of the state address at the capitol two days after the Tucson shootings — remains from those early days. Distant from Washington and hardened by the Apache wars, settlers acted first and asked permission from the federal government later. “The pioneer,” wrote Orick Jackson in his 1908 history, “took the matter in hand without any authority, and without a dollar in pay.” That group had little in common with the Mormons who settled the north and not much regard for the Hispanic population that was dominant in the south. It was, says Manuel Hernandez, professor of Mexican-American literature at Arizona State University, an “apartheid state” for Hispanics until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

With all its baggage, Arizona has boomed over the past half century:

Fair weather and cheap housing made the desert boom: a population that was just 700,000 after World War II stands at more than 6.5 million today. The growth in the past 20 years has been nothing short of steroidal: the population mushroomed by 40% in the 1990s and then rose an additional 25% in the first decade of this century. It is now the 16th largest state in the U.S. And that’s just the official population.

However, the state’s current affairs are hard to overlook:

The state of Arizona’s budget is even worse than it looks: a new study estimates that the true deficit is $2.1 billion (more than twice what the legislature says it is). The unemployment rate is exactly that of the U.S. as a whole — 9.4% — but more than half of the homes in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is, are underwater. Most state parks are being shuttered. The public schools are in the bottom 10% of the nation by many metrics.

The current leadership appears singularly unfit to tackle these challenges. Half the legislature seems to treat legislating like an indoor version of the Tombstone 2 p.m. Gunfight Show, giving speeches about pioneer values and then firing a round of blanks. Arizona’s legislature has long been warped by low voter turnout and uncontested districts. “Only ideologues go to the polls,” says Merrill. “In Arizona, that happens to be the right-wingers.” Public financing for campaigns removed most kinds of fundraising and, with them, the moderation that can come with accountability to the business community, so the primaries function as a race to the fringe of acceptable politics.

One Arizonan statesman worth mentioning is Russell Pearce:

Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who is now the president of the senate and perhaps the most powerful politician in the state. In 2009 the budgetary meltdown was already in its second year, but Pearce doggedly championed legislation that would force Obama, whom he describes as waging “jihad” against Arizona, to provide proof of his citizenship (it was tabled after being ridiculed around the country). In 2010, Pearce turned to immigration with SB 1070, a bill seemingly purpose-built to provoke not only controversy but also a lengthy court battle, thereby sapping both prestige and resources from a state that needs more of both. This year, the No. 2 priority after the budget, says Pearce, will be legislation calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the one that grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil. This, of course, is not anywhere near the jurisdiction of the Arizona legislature.

To wrap up, much of the national and state-level approach to immigration issues most likely will come back to haunt America. The strident bumper-sticker public policy approach in Arizona and elsewhere in America is attacking the very base that will have a majority in Arizona in a few decades and most likely will continue to grow in presence and stature in America in the years to come:

So when the lawmakers decided to cut dropout-prevention programs — the Hispanic dropout rate is particularly abysmal — they may have fulfilled a campaign promise, but they also dented Arizona’s prospects.

(Pictured: The Grand Canyon in Arizona).

May 14, 2011

Obama on Fixing the Immigration System

by Vince Giordano

From El Paso:

More here.

January 22, 2011

Are You Smart Enough to Become a U.S. Citizen?

by Vince Giordano

Take the test. You need to answer at least 58 correct.

January 19, 2011

Undermining the Entire US Border Strategy

by Vince Giordano
December 21, 2010

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Say that Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012. Even though that possibility is slim, in my opinion, she would almost guarantee the GOP slim voting support from independents/moderates, democrats, and Latinos.

H/T: Tony Auth

December 20, 2010

The Immigration Process

by Vince Giordano

Seeing is believing. Click on the above image to see the full view. For more explanation, click here.

November 5, 2010

Election Prayer Rally

by Vince Giordano

Enjoy this bullshit “event”.

October 27, 2010

Racist Conditioning of the Day

by Vince Giordano

When you are older and have condescendingly racist and unrealistic stereotypes of immigrants (they are all thugs and criminals), and that is if you do not already, you can thank Sharon Angle for contributing to the inhumane effort.

October 13, 2010

Some Basics with Immigration Reform

by Vince Giordano

I haven’t forgotten about my part two for immigration, including immigration tests. My time in the classroom has been pulling my attention and my reading time has been diverted elsewhere.

In the meantime, Ezra Klein, et al have some reminders:

The people who need to be convinced of comprehensive immigration reform — which must include a path to legal status for illegal immigrants — are angry about illegal immigration. Trying to paper over that won’t help, and might actually hurt.

Better to confront it directly: Yes, there’s illegal immigration, and yes, illegal immigrants should have to pay fees and learn English, but no, it’s not good for American workers or the American economy to have 12 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows, and no, deporting 12 million people is not a realistic option. Put differently, there are two fundamental facts here: Yes, there are illegal immigrants, and yes, we need to find a way to make them legal residents.

I find Nicole’s points extra intriguing:

How is the I-Word inaccurate – isn’t some illegal action happening here?

The I-Word is used as a sweeping generalization to label people who are out of status due to a variety of circumstances. For example, many people:

  • Are brought to the country against their will.
  • Are brought by employers and often exploited for cheap labor.
  • Fall out of status and overstay their VISAS for a variety of reasons.
  • Risk being killed in their country of origin.
  • Are refugees due to bad economic policies such as NAFTA.
  • Are affected by natural disasters and/or other reasons beyond their control.
  • Are forced by economics and/or politics to risk everything simply to provide for their families.

This language scapegoats individual immigrants for problems that are largely systemic, such as unfair economic and immigration policies. The system itself pushes certain people into categories that are hard to get out of. There exists a backlog of people who must wait years to get processed, even when they are eligible to get papers through a relative. In this broken system, there can be families with mixed status that get torn apart because family unification is not a priority of the system.

There are other accurate words that do not dehumanize, such as: foreign national, undocumented immigrant, unauthorized immigrant,  immigrant without papers, and immigrant seeking status.

As Tim Wise puts it in his book, whites are born into a sense of belonging while African Americans and many others of color are born into a way of being that is always questioned of its legitimacy as well as criticized if one member of the group slips up. It is as if a certain black boy has the whole weight of the African American nation on his shoulders and when he messes up, its another brick in the wall of “I told you so”. That isn’t right. We, and by we I mean those who care for the humanity of others, need to be armed with the right information to disarm the bigots. However, merely arming oneself with the data, means of discussion, and thoughts I believe is not enough. To truly believe these things for yourself does it. How good does it feel knowing you stand for the betterment of humanity and can hold a toxic conversation without raising your heart rate / blood pressure?

October 1, 2010

No Love

by Vince Giordano

Above is the trailer to the movie 9500 Liberty. Michael Drane mentioned that I should look this movie up. The words, utter cruelty, and attitudes within that trailer have sunk into my gut like a sudden punch. Why do some people think God ordained a government to be so cruel, harsh, and inflexible towards “the orphans and widows in distress“?

October 1, 2010

Immigration: Part 1 – A System Not Geared For Reality

by Vince Giordano

For a while now, I have wanted to dedicate a post (or series) to the arduous process of immigrating to the United States. Tonight, I ignored my Google Reader, watched an hour of The Godfather, and found this harrowing story:

Yudi, 23, went back to her job at a potato-chip factory, but she couldn’t stop thinking about her meager salary and the opportunities in America. Her brother had crossed the border illegally several years before and was working in Colorado.

In March, she struck out alone for the United States.

The trip took her six months. On the Guatemala-Mexico border, she says, she was robbed and gang-raped by four men. Near Mexico City, she saw a freight train slice off the leg of a fellow traveler after he fell onto the tracks. On the Arizona border, she hiked through the desert for three days with no food.

In Phoenix, she was held captive and raped by six smugglers several times a day for two weeks, until escaping on Sept. 18.

An immigrant-aid group, Respect Respeto, is now caring for Yudi. She spoke to The Arizona Republic on the condition that her last name not be published.

Why would she forge on this trek that ultimately put herself in harms way and on the other side of the law?

I want to go to the United States, she told the person at the reception desk.

Then the receptionist began to list the documents needed for a visitor’s visa: A bank statement showing thousands of dollars in savings. Property deeds. Car titles. Five years of pay stubs from a good-paying job.

Yudi’s heart sank.

“I realized it was impossible,” she said. “I would never have those things.”

I didn’t even know that if you are looking to immigrate from say Guatemala, it could take you 20 years to get a visa. With immigration quotas skewed against Latin American countries and in favor of nations such as Nigeria, China, the Philippines, and Mexico, how are those in impoverished nations suppose to wait 20 years while making $31 a week (just enough to feed and clothe one self)? Yudi was able to survive on $31 a week but had dreams of opening a business and buying a home. Why should she be held back from that?

A typical, empty hearted response is that these “illegals” shouldn’t break the law and should do it the right way, the legal way, and become a citizen “just like our ancestors at Ellis Island” did:

Even for those who meet the requirements, getting approval to immigrate to the United States can take 20 years or more, compared with the three to five hours it took immigrants to pass through Ellis Island during the peak of European immigration from 1900 to 1914. Back then, most people who got on a boat could enter as long as they were healthy and had no criminal record.

Coming up, I will look at the testing measures by our country for “becoming legal” as well as delve into our nations history surrounding this process.

September 28, 2010

Ezra’s Immigration Proposition

by Vince Giordano

Ezra Klein has an idea:

With more labor – particularly more labor of different kinds – the economy grows larger. It produces more stuff. There are more workers buying things, creating demand. That increases the total number of jobs. We understand perfectly well that Europe is in trouble because its low birth rates mean fewer workers – and that means less economic growth. We ourselves worry that we’re not graduating enough scientists and engineers. But the economy doesn’t care if it gets workers through birth rates or green cards.

In fact, there’s a sense in which green cards are superior. Economists separate new workers into two categories: Those who “substitute” for existing labor – we’re both construction workers, and the boss can easily swap you out for me – and those who “complement” existing labor – you’re a construction engineer, and I’m a construction worker. Immigrants, more so than U.S.-born workers, tend to be in the second category, as the jobs you want to give to someone who doesn’t speak English very well and doesn’t have many skills are different from the jobs you give to people who are fluent and have more skills.

That means firms can expand more rapidly because they have more labor of different types and that native workers can do jobs where they’re more productive. If you have lots of immigrant laborers willing to build roads, a firm can build more roads and has more need for native workers who can supervise the crews or do the technical work. The effect of all this – which has been demonstrated in multiple studies – is that immigrants raise wages for the average American.

September 24, 2010

Sit Back

by Vince Giordano

After two days in the classroom for the first time in months, I am exhausted. Getting back into that groove may take time (I am losing 1-1.5 hours of sleep each night) but it is ultimately the direction I want to go in. In this new phase of life, I hope I can evolve and find the energy to blog, to read, and to not get so easily angry after spending 7.5 hours of being with teenage kids.

So tonight, as I sit and look out the window at a mountain range and wait for some homemade pizza to be cooked, I am thankful for these getaway weekends. I am thankful for XPN to be in my area. I am thankful for health and staying in the continual presence of the sacred One.

I am also thankful for this video. Thanks, DT! Cheers.

August 16, 2010

Tea Party Antics

by Vince Giordano

A recent Tea Party group converged in a remote section of Arizona Sunday to yell about immigration reform:

“We are going to force them to do it, because if they don’t, we will not stop screaming,” said former State Sen. Pam Gorman, one of 10 Republicans vying for an open congressional seat in north Phoenix. She carried a handgun in a holster slung over her shoulder.

This isn’t the first time aura’s of violence have been flaunted. $600 million, which will be ridiculed sooner than later as not enough, has been directed towards the US-Mexico border to fund 1,000 Border Agents, communications equipment, and unmanned aerial vehicles. At this moment, I don’t think a bigger or more fortified wall (see John McCain) is the answer: I see reforming the process for citizenship as a worthwhile endeavor. I will have to look up more on citizenship tests and blog about it.

August 11, 2010

Immigration and Crime, Work

by Vince Giordano

The Immigration Policy Center has some useful articles that are heavily cited. Here are two articles related to controversial issues surrounding illegal immigration: what work American immigrants do and their crime rate as a group.

More on the stats compared to native born Americans and other American immigrant groups here.

Immigrants are Five Times Less Likely than the Native-Born to be in Prison

  • In 2000, among men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the U.S. prison population), the incarceration rate for the native-born (3.5%) was five times higher than the rate for immigrants (0.7%).
  • In California, the state with the greatest number of both undocumented and legal immigrants, the incarceration rate for native-born men age 18-39 (4.5%) was more than 11 times the rate for immigrants (0.4%).
  • Although the undocumented immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2005, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 34.2% and the property crime rate fell by 26.4%. This decline in crime rates was not just national, it also occurred in border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations—such as San Diego, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami.

The full story for crime here. Can someone pass these reports on to John McCain, Jan Brewer, Jon Kyl, and the other hard nosed elected officials in Arizona?

July 30, 2010

SB1070 Tweaks

by Vince Giordano

Arizona’s controversial SB1070 immigration law has been reviewed by a federal judge and the following changes were made:

Judge Susan Bolton struck down the following provisions of SB 1070:

  • Section 2(B): Required officers to check the immigration status of any person arrested, as well as check the immigration status if there was reasonable suspicion after a lawful stop or detention that the person was undocumented.
  • Section 3: Made it a state misdemeanor for failure to carry an alien registration document, and made it a state crime to be unlawfully present in the United States.
  • Part of Section 5: Made it a state misdemeanor for an unauthorized immigrant to apply for, solicit for, or perform work.
  • Section 6 Amendment: Allowed officers to make warrantless arrests provided the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

The ruling left SB 1070, which goes into effect today, with the following provisions, among others, still intact:

  • Section 2(G): An Arizona citizen may bring an action against any official or agency of Arizona that does not enforce federal immigration laws to the fullest extent, and pay a penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 for each day that the policy was in effect.
  • Section 4: Makes it a felony to intentionally smuggle human beings for profit.
  • Section 5: Makes it a misdemeanor to stop on a street and attempt to hire or pick up passengers for work at a different location if the vehicle blocks traffic. Also makes it a misdemeanor to be the person picked up in such a motor vehicle.
  • Section 5: Makes it a misdemeanor for a person already in violation of a criminal offense to transport undocumented immigrants, conceal undocumented immigrants, or encourage undocumented immigrants to reside in the United States.
July 28, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About Immigration

by Vince Giordano

Sara Mayeux writes one of the better immigration articles I have read in some time. It counters the hot-button arguments of today with brevity and provides links to read more. On top of all that, she quoted Patricia Nelson Limerick’s book The Legacy of Conquest, which was one of my favorite history reads in college. In all, this is worth the full read:

Second and relatedly, there’s the selective nature with which the epithet “alien” is applied. Funny how Canadian housewives without proper papers, Irish bartenders who overstayed their tourist visas, Australians who remained abroad when their study abroad was through all seem to escape the opprobrium.

Most nefarious to me, though, is when the “alien” drops off altogether and the adjective “illegal” is transmuted into noun, as when politicos rail against the masses of “illegals” running rampant through the land. It’s not as though undocumented immigrants have some special claim to disregard for federal regulations. At any given moment someone not far from you is probably doing one or more of the following: smoking marijuana, selling cocaine, exceeding the speed limit in a national park, downloading pirated videos, possessing an unregistered firearm, or committing any number of the vaguely defined federal crimes that populate the U.S. Code.

July 18, 2010

“Latinos have turned Miami into a Third World Country”

by Vince Giordano

So begins a special series on immigration. As I sat around a continually burning campfire this weekend, I had time to read various commentaries on immigration reform. My source was mostly the Philadelphia Inquirer. I will follow up with some links and comments on them in the coming week. For now, Right Wing Watch blogged about a topic that I thought of this weekend: the idea of what impact, if any, would illegal immigrants have on the mindset of American citizens if they became legal citizens? Would they be seen as acceptable and be embraced as part of our nation, or would they still be seen as somewhat second class, either because of their skin color or some other prejudice?

I wonder about this. I am reading over now a long online paper breaking down some of the mindsets that impact this polemic issue.

A desire for a white nation?

“Right-wing columnist Don Feder, writing in Front Page Magazine in April 2007, calledcompromise legislation being considered by the Senate “a rape of our national identity” and said that the children and grandchildren of the “criminal aliens” who would be granted “amnesty” by the bill “won’t assimilate but be a solvent, eroding our identify as a people, year after year, decade after decade – until eventually, America comes to be comprised of disparate national groups residing in what used to be a nation.”

In May 2006, pundit John Gibson warned viewers of his Fox News program that “the greatest number [of children under five] are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic.” He urged viewers to do their “duty” and “make more babies.”

Pundit and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan has been one of the loudest voices in this regard, writing in May 2007:

What is happening to us? An immigrant invasion of the United States from the Third World, as America’s white majority is no longer even reproducing itself. Since Roe v. Wade, America has aborted 45 million of her children. And Asia, Africa and Latin America have sent 45 million of their children to inherit the estate that aborted American children never saw. God is not mocked.

Could this be another way to nostalgically wish back 18th century white majority America? You can look to demagogues such as Newt Gingrich for such wishful DVDs. I find the above comments fascinating. Do these citizens of our country, most likely all subscribing to Christian morals, see Latino (or brown) Americans as second rate citizens similar to the Gentiles of the past?

Tags: ,