January 20, 2007
More on Texas Border Shootings
One of our loyal readers, Dan Kowalski, has sent us more information on the Border Patrol agents' shooting of an unarmed drug smuggler on which Jennifer Chacon and I have posted stories in recent days.
There may be more to the story than you think:
"[Rep. Michael] McCaul [R-TX, a former federal prosecutor] said the [DHS] inspector general's aides told him and three Texas colleagues that the Border Patrol agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, had admitted to investigators that they "intended to shoot Mexicans" and knew the man fleeing them was unarmed and posed no threat, when they fired on him 15 times near Fabens, Texas."
More of the Blogger's Exchange
A few short response to Conor's latest.
There really is no evidence that a continuous border fence along the U.S./Mexico border will substantially reduce undocumented migration. It is likely, however, that it will increase the number of migrant deaths. I commend you to Michael Olivas's commentary on the Secure Border Act (click here).
We disagree on the efficacy of workplace enforcement. Employer sanctions under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 has not proven to be an effective deterrent to the the employment of undocumented immigrants. I disagree that enforcement has not been tried. Enforcement has been tried but it has been ineffective and resisted. Given the current labor demand for undocumented labor given the current restrictive nature of immigration law, there will be strong economic incentives to violate the law even if workplace enforcement is increased. Given the rampant violation of the law and the enforcement resources that would be needed to substantially reduce the employment of undocumented immigrants, it is unrealistic to believe that more than a few percent of the employers could be forced into compliance through increased enforcement efforts.
We do have experience with legalization programs, including two programs under IRCA. They did not operate perfectly. However, the programs successfully legalized many thousands of undocumented immigrants without excessive problems.
I do not believe that a North American Union modelled after the European Union (EU) is a perfect alternative to the current U.S. immigration system. However, freer migration of labor, like the freer trade of goods and services among the NAFTA nations, makes some economic sense. The EU does have problems, including how it has increased border enforcement at the outer perimeter of the EU. Still, more liberal migration within North America may be more politically acceptable among some than a general liberalization of the borders.
Many of these thoughts are analyzed in detail in a book (Opening the Floodgates? Why America Must Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Law) that NYU Press will publish in August 2007.
January 19, 2007
Pardon for Border Patrol Agents?
Yesterday, Bill Hing posted a notice about the conviction of two border patrol agents who shot an unarmed immigrant drug smuggler and tried to cover it up.
Today, it is reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter introduced a bill on Thursday to pardon the men. In an interview on El Paso radio, Bush indicated that in this case as all others, he'd follow the process for pardons, looking at the evidence in the case. A link to the story is here.
There is a certain irony to this bill. Rep. Duncan is concerned about illegal immigration and has frequently indicated that he would like to see our nation's laws enforced. But I guess that's only our immigration laws and not laws against assault with a deadly weapon, or civil rights laws. In this case, a jury convicted the men of violating those laws. Has the perceived need for enforcement of immigration and drug law enforcement become so important that it trumps all other illegalities?
Only in Tejas!! Rocker Ted Nugent Insults African Americans, Non-English Speakers, Etc. -- At Texas Governor's Inauguration!
AP reports that hours after Texas Governor Rick Perry kicked off his second full term in office, Ted Nugent, a rocker popular in the 1970s perhaps best known for his signature (and to some anti-woman) song Stranglehold (click here to see and hear it performed), helped him celebrate at a black-tie gala. Using machine-guns as props, Nugent, 58, appeared onstage as the final act of the inaugural ball wearing a cutoff T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag and shouting offensive remarks about non-English speakers, according to people who were in attendance. "I think it was a horrible choice," Republican strategist Royal Masset said. "I hope nobody approved it." Nugent, a hunting and gun-rights advocate, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday because he was hunting, a spokeswoman said. News of Nugent's appearance drew criticisms from civil-rights leaders. "Whenever someone sports the Confederate battle flag, many Texans will be offended, and rightly so, because of what it symbolizes - the enslavement of African-Americans and more recently the symbol of hate groups and terrorists," said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Click here for the full story.
Thanks to GAM for this news tip!!
Schwarzennegger Health Plan Won't Cover Undocumented Adults
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's health care overhaul might do little or nothing to change how medical care is delivered to an estimated 1 million adults who live in California out of status, despite the Republican governor's characterizations that his plan is universal in scope, critics say.
When the governor released his plan last week, he drew national attention at least in part because he appeared to take on the immigration issue without reservation. "I don't think it is a question or a debate whether they ought to be covered," the governor said in presenting his plan.
While Schwarzenegger's proposal would cover all children, regardless of immigration status, a close reading of the plan shows that it relies on counties to voluntarily set up a new system of care for the undocumented immigrant adults that would be separate from other state-sponsored programs.
Some critics question whether counties would have the money -- or the political will -- to establish such programs for undocumented immigrants and say he could be trying to sidestep a volatile political issue. Click here.
Continuation of the Blogger's Exchange
We have been engaged with a Blogger's exchange on immigration with Conor from Beyond Borders Blog (click here). To this point, the discussion on guest worker programs and immigration reform have been posted there. We are moving the discussion to our blog.
Here is Conor's latest installment.
I want to begin by clarifying my arguments about border enforcement. In a past entry, you argued that beefed up border security won't work, and you cited beefed up enforcement at San Diego and El Paso as evidence.
I think that argument is flawed. It is akin to damning half a river, and concluding that dams don't work when water continues to flow through the un-dammed section. My point isn't that El Paso and San Diego are successful in the big picture, only that the measures taken there have significantly reduced immigration, and so maybe the same measures would stop illegal immigration as much everywhere if applied across the whole border.
The fact is that we haven't ever attempted to fully seal the southern border to illegal immigration. At the very least, that means it's incorrect to argue that we've tried and failed, and so we shouldn't try anymore. Empirically, what would happen if we walled the whole border is today an unknown.
I think it would reduce illegal immigration: it seems obvious that it would make it harder (though not impossible) to sneak into the United States. When something becomes harder, it is marginally less attractive to attempt, and marginally less easy to do successfully. How could it possibly not reduce illegal immigration given the thousands who walk across entirely unfortified sections of the border each day?
As for humanity to border crossers, our current system – a border wall near urban areas, and the absence of a wall in desert areas – is the least humane of all options, because as immigrants seek the least fortified part of the border they are drawn to the most dangerous terrain.
By your terms isn't it more humane – though arguably not most humane – to wall the entire border, rather than just the portion we've walled now? At least then the most dangerous sections of the desert wouldn't be the most attractive place to cross.
I'd welcome a border wall—augmented by motion censors and guards—so formidable that no one would bother trying to cross illegally and as a result no one would die trying. That's an impossible extreme, but approximating it as closely as possible seems worthwhile.
* * *
We agree that workplace enforcement hasn't really been tried.
You argue that effective workplace enforcement is almost impossible:
Absent a tamper-proof national identification card and complete computer database of citizens and lawful immigrants, any sanctions program would result in big – and legitimate -- problems for employers (seeking to comply with the immigration laws, not violate the civil rights laws, and field a work force) and immigrants and some citizens (who may be lawfully entitled to work but assumed to be undocumented because of their national origin). It is difficult to see a tamper-proof card and comprehensive computer database being developed in the near future. Indeed, as the U.S. government acknowledges, our current immigration computer systems are woefully inadequate for tracking lawful immigrants and temporary visitors.</blockquote> I want to focus on that paragraph, and point out three things:
1) Tamper proof cards don't exist. If you can make it, you can forge it. But surely a card as tamper-resistant as, say, a US passport, would go a long way toward enabling enough workplace enforcement that illegal immigration could be significantly reduced.
2) Even given our current system—absent the card and computer system—we could do a whole lot more workplace enforcement than is done. What effect would that have? I don't think anyone knows, but it's at least possible that even if only 15 percent of companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants were caught and fined, far more companies would conclude that the risk of getting caught is no longer worth the risk of breaking the law. At current levels of enforcement, which we both find disingenuous, the economic incentive to cheat is surely worth it if you're just talking dollars and cents.
3) What seems easier to you: creating a tamper-resistant document for employees and employers and a functioning computer system to swipe them… or implementing an earned legalization system, as you suggest?
Presumably earned legalization means giving an illegal immigrant citizenship if he or she pays a small fine, proves they've been employed for a given amount of time, demonstrates they've been in the country for a given amount of time without committing a crime, etc.
If your argument is that we can't even come up with a system of identifying citizens and legal immigrants, and distinguishing them from illegal immigrants, how on earth can you then argue that we're going to be able to come up with a system that identifies illegal immigrants and tracks how long they've been in the country and whether they've paid a fine and whether they've ever committed a felony?
Doesn't it seem obvious that my proposal, whatever you think of its other merits, is a far easier one to implement than yours?
Finally, I'm puzzled by this part of your argument:
I would seriously look at the European Union as a model for regional labor migration. In the EU, workers can cross national boundaries. The fear that a flood of migrants would destroy Europe – for example, by a flood of migrants from Portugal to and Spain or from Poland to Germany --never materialized. The two newest EU members, Bulgaria and Romania, have economies and wage differentials with other EU members that are not very different from those between the United States and Mexico. Some EU members feared a mass migration from the new EU members and agreed to transitional rules, phasing in labor migration from the two newest EU members. Perhaps something like this would work among the three nations party to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
I have several objections:
1) It isn't at all clear that Europe is better off when it comes to immigration than the United States. The continent is beset by a constant flow of illegal immigrants from outside Europe, some of whom have been radicalized and present a far greater threat to European national security than America's illegal immigrants present to our national security.
2) The disparity in wealth and living conditions between Guatamala or el Salvador and the United States is quite a bit bigger than the disparity between Portugal and Spain.
3) When Polish plumbers work in Germany, they aren't citizens. They can't vote in German elections or receive German welfare. They are, in essence, guest workers, which you oppose.
4) Europe's economy is very different than ours in ways that impact what happens when you add lots of immigrant workers to the mix. The poorest citizens of Germany and Spain have a social safety net unlike anything we have in the United States, and are thus less threatened by the notion of an immigrant workforce raising the domestic level of unemployment among the poor.
My biggest objection is that the European Union's member countries seem more analogous the individual states of the United States than to the countries of Latin America. We do a pretty good job integrating the regional economy of the 50 states.
But do you think that Europe does a better job handling immigration from Africa and Asia than the United States does handling immigration from Latin America and Asia?
Leahy vs. Gonzales: Round 1
The blog of Yale law student Vivek Krishnamurthy has a great audio clip Senator Patrick Leahy's questioning of the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, on the case of Maher Arar. Mr. Arar is a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin who was detained at Kennedy Airport in 2002 and "rendered" to Syria, where he was detained in a coffin-sized cell for a year and subjected to brutal torture. The U.S. government alleged that Mr. Arar has connections to Al Qaeda, but a recent judicial inquiry in Canada concluded that there is not a scintilla of evidence to support this assertion. Listen to Senator Leahy tearing into Mr. Gonzales and the Bush Administration's policy of extraordinary rendition with an intensity rarely seen in Congressional proceedings. click here to hear the audio from CBC Radio.
Sen. Harry Reid on Immigration Reform
The National Journal has an interesting article on the deportation of Cambodians. Download CAMBOD_x007E_1.pdf In 2005, Bill Hing published a perceptive article on the U.S. government's treatment of Cambodians (in Detention to Deportation -- Rethinking the Removal of Cambodian Refugees, 38 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 891 (2005)).
January 18, 2007
Convicted Smuggler Given Life
JMC reported yesterday that the jury continued to deliberate in a human smuggling case. CNN has reported that the verdict is in. A truck driver was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, avoiding a death sentence for his role in the United States' deadliest human smuggling attempt in which 19 illegal immigrants died from the heat inside a sweltering tractor-trailer. A jury deliberated for 5-1/2 days before sentencing Tyrone Williams, 35, himself an immigrant from Jamaica. The jury could have also chosen to sentence him to death or to a lengthy prison term that would have been determined by the judge.Williams' life sentence comes with no possibility for parole. In May 2003, his tractor-trailer was packed with more than 70 immigrants from Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. As temperatures skyrocketed inside the airtight refrigerator truck, the immigrants kicked walls, clawed at insulation, broke out taillights and screamed for help. Click here for more on this story.
This is a tough case. The deaths were shocking. Several other defendants were convicted of crimes. Williams, however, is the only one against whom the prosecution sought the death penalty. All in all, I found this case troublesome on several different levels.
A Guide to Naturalization
A Guide to Naturalization prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is available by clicking here.
Agents Begin Jail Time for Border Shooting
A pair of former U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler and trying to cover it up started serving their federal prison sentences today, officials said.
Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos were convicted last year for the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila. A federal judge sentenced Ramos to 11 years and one day, and Compean was given 12 years in prison.
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in El Paso said the men, both married fathers, surrendered just before Judge Kathleen Cardone's deadline of 2 p.m. today. Cardone denied a request to let them remain free pending appeals. Click here.
This comes on the heels of Mexico President Felipe Calderon's protest of the shooting last Friday. A Mexican immigrant was shot and killed on Friday by a Border Patrol agent in Arizona, prompting an investigation by federal authorities and condemnation from President Felipe Calderón of Mexico. The immigrant, Francisco Javier Domínguez Rivera, 22, was shot as he and six others were being taken into custody by a Border Patrol agent, shortly after they crossed illegally into Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, between Naco and Douglas.
More Blogger's Exchange
For the latest two installments in the Blogger's Exchange on Immigration, click here and here. The first new installment includes more discussion about the pros and cons of guest worker programs. The second one discusses immigration reform more generally. Stay tuned as the discussion heats up!
Rift in GOP on Immigration
The Washington Times reports on a deep divide among the GOP on immigration. A member of the Republican National Committee from President Bush's home state yesterday escalated the rebellion against Mr. Bush's choice, Senator Mel Martinez, who supported the Senate immigration reform bill the last Congress, to head the committee going into the 2008 presidential elections. Mel Martinez's opponents are ready to challenge the White House's efforts to force on the party a general chairman whose views on illegal immigration, they say, are opposed by 80 percent of the electorate. The question is whether the Martinez fight will be a skirmish or a full-scale rebellion," said New Jersey RNC member David Norcross, a former RNC general counsel who oversaw the 2004 Republican presidential nominating convention in New York. "I think it will be a skirmish, but I am preparing for a full-scale rebellion." One of Mr. Martinez's supporters, Florida RNC member Paul Senft Jr., told the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper: "With some people, the issue of amnesty is a litmus test and anything short of a concentration camp is amnesty." A Virginia-based group, English First, has created a Web site, StopMartinez.com, that declares the senator from Florida is: "Wrong on English. Wrong on Amnesty. Wrong for the Republican National Committee."
Click here for the story.
Postscript. Martinez wins! On Jan. 19, the Republican Party turned Friday to a Cuban-American senator from Florida to carry their message into the 2008 presidential election campaign. With only a smattering of dissent, the Republican National Committee voted Sen. Mel Martinez in as the party's general chairman. Click here for the full story.
AG Gonzales on the Role of Courts in National Security Cases
The Jurist reports that U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used the occasion of a Wednesday speech to the American Enterprise Institute on the perils of judicial activism to suggest that judges are not the appropriate agents to rule on national security issues, and that they should otherwise exercise. Click here for the story.
January 17, 2007
Tom Tancredo for President?
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has focused much of his efforts on increased border enforcement, is considering a run for President. Click here to see his website (Tom Tancredo 2008 for a Secure America). In a letter on the site, Tancredo writes
I am writing to you today as a friend, and as a fellow believer in the cause of securing America's borders. My purpose is to obtain your support as I embark upon a path that may lead to the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.
The American Spectator website has written the following about Tancredo (click here):
In fact, it's not clear Tancredo is in line with the mainstream, social conservative wing of the GOP he seeks to align himself with. According to campaign finance reports, one of Tancredo's biggest financial backers has been the family of Dr. John Tanton, the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Wall Street Journal editorial-page features writer Jason Riley wrote a devastating piece about the organization back in 2004, in which the group's pro-abortion and pro-eugenics roots were revealed. Tanton is also one of the most prominent conservative financiers of Planned Parenthood in the United States, having helped found in the mid-1960s the first Planned Parenthood chapter in northern Michigan. Tancredo appears to have embraced FAIR's extreme and repugnant policy positions, having accepted more than $20,000 from the FAIR PAC and personal donations from Tanton between 1996 and 2006. Over the past ten years, according to Federal Election Commission reports, FAIR has provided more than $15,000 to Tancredo campaigns and PACs. Tanton has given Tancredo $7,000, while donating $28,000 to FAIR's political action arm.
New Immigration Scholarship
Saxena, Monica. More than mere semantics: the case for an expansive definition of persecution in sexual minority asylum claims. 12 Mich. J. Gender & L. 331-357 (2006).
Sharpton, Blake. Comment. Detention of non-citizens: the Supreme Court's muddling of an already complex issue. 57 Mercer L. Rev. 1221-1259 (2006).
Sentencing deliberations continue in Houston smuggling case
"Whether there was an intent to kill 19 immigrants trapped in a sweltering trailer and whether it was done in a depraved and cruel manner are some of the questions jurors continue to grapple with as they decide on a possible death sentence" for truck driver Tyrone Williams. Mr. Williams was convicted last month on 58 counts of conspiracy, harboring and transporting immigrants, including 20 counts that were death-penalty eligible.
"More than 70 immigrants were packed inside Williams' airtight trailer for the 2003 trip from South Texas to Houston. He ended up abandoning the container near Victoria, about 100 miles southwest of Houston." 19 immigrants died locked in the trailer.
Mr. Williams' attorney contends that his client never intended for the migrants to die, and also questioned why his client -- himself a Jamaican immigrant -- was the only one standing trial in this case. Prosecutors respond that Williams knew the people in his trailer were dying and did nothing to help.
More details, including the procedural history, are here.
Health and Safety Issues at Detention Facilities
The New York Times reports that authorities failed to maintain adequate health and safety standards for some of the suspected illegal immigrants housed at five detention centers, according to an audit report by the Homeland Security department's inspector general. Click here for the story.
This is no small issue. detention has become much more common since the 1996 immigration reforms greatly expanded mandatory detention. For a readable book on immigrant detention, see Mark Dow, American Gulag (2004).
News from the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court today decided Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez. The Court ruled that an alien living in the U.S. who is convicted of a crime for which a conviction could be issued for "aiding and abetting" may be deported for the "aggravated felony" of theft. With only a single partial dissent, the Court ruled that "one who aids and abets, like a principal who actually participates, commits a crime that falls within the scope of the generic theft definition" acceped by immigration officials and Circuit Courts. In an opinion by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court vacated and remanded Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez (05-1629) to the Ninth Circuit to consider unresolved additional claims by Luis Alexander Justice Stevens concurred in part and dissented in part can be found here. For a link to the opinion and ond dissent, see http://www.scotusblog.com/movabletype/