Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Tragedy in San Francisco and What It Means (or Doesn't) About Immigrants and Immigration


A tragic event in San Francisco last week has once again brought immigration to the headlines.  As reported on ImmigrationProf, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said a seemingly random killing of a young woman in San Francisco was even more proof why voters should support his candidacy. (The Washington Post skillfully dissects Trump's hyperbole about immigration here.).  The shooting of Kate Steinle on a city pier, police say, was committed by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times to Mexico. Law enforcement officials told CNN that the man had been released by the San Francisco sheriff's department despite a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for an immigration detainer. The suspect previously had been charged with four relatively minor drug crimes and one for probation violation and illegal reentry. San Francisco's "sanctuary" ordinance requires that the Sheriff's Department only place an ICE hold on a detainee if supported by judicial determination of probable cause or with a warrant of arrest. For more details about the case, click here and here.

 Raul Reyes on CNN in "Don't blame all immigrants for San Francisco shooting" offers a down and dirty rebuttal to Trump's claims that the tragedy proves that Trump is right about the criminal nature of immigrants from Mexico.  Here are some of his points:

"It is a myth that increased illegal immigration leads to more crime. Research from the Immigration Policy Center shows that crime rates fell in the United States as the size of our immigrant population, including undocumented immigrants, grew from 1990 to 2010."

"Most undocumented immigrants come to the United States to work and provide a better life for themselves and their families."

"Consider that several mass shootings, from Aurora to Newtown to Charleston, were committed by young white men. Does that mean that all young white men are potential mass murderers? Of course not."

"One takeaway from this episode is that deporting as many undocumented immigrants as possible is not the answer to our immigration problems. Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times, and yet he was still here in the country without authorization. Another lesson here is our country does not need more immigration enforcement; our country needs smarter and better immigration enforcement."

"Up to now, immigration authorities have wasted time, manpower and money chasing after people working productively in their communities as, say, gardeners and maids, while felons like Lopez-Sanchez slipped through the cracks."

"President Barack Obama's proposed executive action on immigration, currently tied up in a legal battle, might also have made a difference because it would have freed up resources to go after people like Lopez-Sanchez. The executive action would have given deportation relief to parents of DREAMers, while allowing DHS to zero in on criminals. Instead, despite the fact that our country spends more on immigration enforcement than all other law enforcement agencies combined, our system failed Kate Steinle."  The White House has made a similar point and noted that comprehensive immigration reform, if not blocked by Republicans, would have increased resources for border security and enforcement.


July 7, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta


Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta Edited by Virginia Smith Younce

An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class

Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.

Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country.

There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated these two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class.

From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement.

Undocumented is a classic story of the triumph of the human spirit. It also is the perfect cri de coeur for the debate on comprehensive immigration reform.


July 7, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Death on the Border: Graves of Shame


The  Texas Observer has released this report by Investigative Fund reporter John Carlos Frey. "Mass Graves in Texas," explores the tragic reality of border-crossing for migrants who are left behind if injured. Many die on the Texas side of the border and are buried in unmarked mass graves. Their remains are rarely identified, and even more rarely returned to their families. The report contends that the state of Texas has committed rampant violations of the law in failing to handle migrant remains and burials in a timely, humane manner.


July 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Trial for Sheriff Joe Arpaio


Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MSCO) cannot seem to stay out of the news.

The Associated Press reports that the contempt-of-court case dogging Sheriff Arpaio is not his only legal trouble.  He is scheduled for an August 10 trial in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice that alleges a range of civil rights violations, including allegations that Arpaio's office discriminated against Latinos and retaliated against its critics. The Justice Department's case is separate from the racial profiling lawsuit filed against Arpaio. The sheriff lost that case when the court ruled that his officers singled out Latinos in their regular traffic and immigration patrols. The profiling case has sprawled into contempt-of-court proceedings against Arpaio for his acknowledged disobedience of court orders. 

The Justice Department's lawsuit alleges that the MSCO retaliated against critics of his immigration enforcement policies and county officials and judges who were at odds with the sheriff in legal and political disputes. It further alleges the sheriff's office has discriminated against Latinos in business raids aimed at cracking down on identity theft and punished Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish.

Not avoiding controversial statements on the eve of the latest trial, Sheriff Arpaio in a radio interview stated that he was pretty much convinced that President Obama's birth certificate, released in response to the claims of the birthers that he was not born in the United States and thus was not eligible to be President, was a fraudulent document.


July 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flight of the Rohingya

Photo via European Commission DG ECHO

Today, the NYT has a heartbreaking story about the flight of Rohingya from Myanmar. The Rohingya are a group of Muslim IDPs (internally displaced persons). "Stateless, shunned and persecuted," they are considered "intruders" in Mayanmar.

As a result, Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar. But they've had a hell of time finding where to go. You may recall the boat of migrants left adrift on the sea in May. Those were Rohingya.

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to accept the migrants, for now. But they have no right to work. And no permanency in those countries.

The NYT story covers the journey of one mother with three young children as she travels from Myanmar to Thailand. She left behind her oldest son, just thirteen. It's a tough read.

It reminds me of this drawing. I don't know where it's from, so I can't offer proper attribution, but it's a particularly apt accompaniment to the NYT piece.



July 6, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration judges make life-altering decisions in overbooked courts

From the Bookshelves: Responding to Human Trafficking Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Law by Alicia W. Peters


Responding to Human Trafficking Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Law by Alicia W. Peters

Signed into law in 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defined the crime of human trafficking and brought attention to an issue previously unknown to most Americans. But while human trafficking is widely considered a serious and despicable crime, there has been far less consensus as to how to approach the problem—owing in part to a pervasive emphasis on forced prostitution that overshadows repugnant practices in other labor sectors affecting vulnerable populations. Responding to Human Trafficking examines the ways in which cultural perceptions of sexual exploitation and victimhood inform the drafting, interpretation, and implementation of U.S. antitrafficking law, as well as the law's effects on trafficking victims. Drawing from interviews with social workers and case managers, attorneys, investigators, and government administrators as well as trafficked persons, Alicia W. Peters explores how cultural and symbolic frameworks regarding sex, gender, and victimization were incorporated into the drafting of the TVPA and have been replicated through the interpretation and implementation of the law.

Tracing the path of the TVPA over the course of nearly a decade, Responding to Human Trafficking reveals the profound gaps in understanding that pervade implementation as service providers and criminal justice authorities strive to collaborate and perform their duties. Ultimately, this sensitive ethnography sheds light on the complex and wide-ranging effects of the TVPA on the victims it was designed to protect.

Alicia W. Peters teaches in the Department of Society, Culture, and Languages and the Program in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of New England.


July 6, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blurring Borders: Collusion between anti-immigrant groups and immigration enforcement agents


Murrieta, California

The Center for New Community’s report titled “Blurring Borders” reveals a story that needs to be told.  Almost exactly one year ago today, July 1, 2014, a small group of anti-immigrant extremists gained media attention for a series of protests at a Border Patrol facility in Murrieta, California, that blocked buses transporting Central American families who fled violence. A group of about 50 protesters, organized by leaders with ties to white nationalist and far-right groups, stood in the street waving American flags and chanting phrases such as “Go back home!” and “We don’t want you here!” to immigrants aboard the buses. But, how exactly did these anti-immigrant activists know where these buses were going? The answer lies in the long-standing relationships between employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the leaders of the organized anti-immigrant movement. The Murrieta protests are only ugly example.

As the report details, the reality is much more troubling. Here some examples of their collusion:

  • In March 2015, NBPC Local 1613, based in Southern California, thanked two of its current agents (and elected union representatives)—Manny Bayon and Chris Bauder—on Twitter for “showing the truth on the southern border” during a “border tour for CIS (CEnter for Immigration Studies) [sic].”  The Center for Immigration Studies, led since 1995 by Mark Krikorian, is the primary research arm of the organized anti-immigrant movement and has an outsized influence on much of the nativist right’s messaging and communications strategy.
  • In the summer of 2014, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a documented hate group and flagship organization of the anti-immigrant movement, organized a “fact-finding trip” in July for seven sheriffs from states as far away from the U.S.-Mexico border as Massachusetts and Oregon. Border Patrol officials accommodated FAIR and the sheriffs during their time in McAllen, TX. In a travelogue of sorts published on its official blog, FAIR’s National Field Director Susan Tully wrote, “I am writing from the Border Patrol Station.”
  • In July 2014, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight admitted that a recent CIS publication that inspired multiple Congressional inquiries could not have been done “without our ongoing good connections with whistleblowers in agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” And as recently as March 2015, CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan published analysis that she claimed was based on “DHS statistics, which have not been released to the public, but were obtained by the Center [CIS].”


July 5, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Dave Araque (Ecuador), New U.S. Citizen


Photo courtesy of Brian Passey / The Spectrum & Daily News

Naturalization ceremonies are popular around July 4.  Our Immigrant of the Day, Dave Araque, who was profiled in USA Today, has been in the United States for more than 13 years but this is his first Fourth of July as a citizen.

"It's a great feeling knowing that I went through a long process and I'm finalized in a way that I feel happy about," Araque says. "It's a humbling experience, knowing that so many people are going through the same thing — ups and downs — to get to where they want to be as a citizens of the United States. Knowing that I reached my goal to become a citizen makes me feel humble."

Araque was born and raised in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. He followed his family to the U.S. in 2002. While his parents were able to gain citizenship, he became a legal resident.

On June 26, Araque traveled to Salt Lake City, where he took the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony.  Joining him were about 25 people from various countries, predominantly Latin American countries but at least one person from Iraq.



July 5, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience by William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller, Editors


 Binational Human Rights:  The U.S.-Mexico Experience by William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller, Editors.  A volume in the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series

Mexico ranks highly on many of the measures that have proven significant for creating a positive human rights record, including democratization, good health and life expectancy, and engagement in the global economy. Yet the nation's most vulnerable populations suffer human rights abuses on a large scale, such as gruesome killings in the Mexican drug war, decades of violent feminicide, migrant deaths in the U.S. desert, and the ongoing effects of the failed detention and deportation system in the States. Some atrocities have received extensive and sensational coverage, while others have become routine or simply ignored by national and international media. Binational Human Rights examines both well-known and understudied instances of human rights crises in Mexico, arguing that these abuses must be understood not just within the context of Mexican policies but in relation to the actions or inactions of other nations—particularly the United States.

The United States and Mexico share the longest border in the world between a developed and a developing nation; the relationship between the two nations is complex, varied, and constantly changing, but the policies of each directly affect the human rights situation across the border. Binational Human Rights brings together leading scholars and human rights activists from the United States and Mexico to explain the mechanisms by which a perfect storm of structural and policy factors on both sides has led to such widespread human rights abuses. Through ethnography, interviews, and legal and economic analysis, contributors shed new light on the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez, the drug war, and the plight of migrants from Central America and Mexico to the United States. The authors make clear that substantial rhetorical and structural shifts in binational policies are necessary to significantly improve human rights.

Contributors: Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Luis Alfredo Arriola Vega, Timothy J. Dunn, Miguel Escobar-Valdez, Clara Jusidman, Maureen Meyer, Carol Mueller, Julie A. Murphy Erfani, William Paul Simmons, Kathleen Staudt, Michelle Téllez.

William Paul Simmons is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona.  Carol Mueller is Professor of Sociology and former Director of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.


July 5, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Diversity Explosion in the United States

Brookings features an interesting article "White aging means post-millennial America is becoming more diverse everywhere" by William H. Frey.

Newly released census data make plain why we need to expect a more racially diverse America everywhere. It is because the rapidly aging U.S. white population is no longer contributing to gains in the number of the nation’s youth. The new statistics, for July 2014, show that the median age of whites has reached an all-time high of 43.1, while the national median age is 37.7. For Hispanics the median age is 28.5, and for those of two or more races it’s 19.8.

The impact of white aging is especially pronounced within the population under age 20. Among this group, which includes late millennials, now in their teens, and the emerging post-millennial generation, there was an absolute decline in the number of whites between the 2010 census and 2014.

The nation’s youth population is projected to show modest gains over the decades to come, but only because of greater growth for today’s younger minorities, whose gains will counter the continuing declines of younger whites. Because tomorrow’s increasingly minority-driven youth and labor force population will be vital to maintaining a robust economy and to supporting a much more rapidly growing senior population, it is important to pay attention to the needs and opportunities available to the highly diverse post-millennial generation—not just in selected parts of the country, but everywhere.




William H. Frey is a noted demographer and author of the book The Diversity Explosion.


July 5, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Trump's GOP Fallout

From CNN:

Republicans seeking to broaden the party's appeal to Latino voters have a challenge: Donald Trump.

The bombastic businessman, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, is leaving many Republicans worried about the fallout from his comments that immigrants from Latin America are "killers" and "rapists."

"Donald Trump's comments are hurtful for the cause of Republicans who want to reach out not just to Latinos but across many different ethnic barriers," said Ben Domenech, founder of The Federalist, a conservative opinion website, who co-authored a 2012 guide for Republicans on Hispanic outreach. "The problem with those comments is made worse by the fact that people will continue to confuse Trump with a Republican, which he is not, as opposed to thinking of him as an entertainer, which he is." Read more...


July 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy July 4!

Trump Doubles Down on Anti-Immigrant Agenda, Seeks to Capitalize on Random Killing



Donald Trump kicked off his Republican presidential bid by attacking Mexican immigrants.  Despite harsh criticism that has had many large companies distancing themselves from his business empire, is not backing away from those controversial positions.

CNN reports that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said yesterday that the seemingly random killing of a young woman in San Francisco was even more proof why voters should support his candidacy. The shooting of Kate Steinle on a city pier, police say, was committed by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times to Mexico. Law enforcement officials told CNN that the man had been released by the San Francisco sheriff's department despite a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for an immigration detainer. The suspect previously had been charged with four relatively minor drug crimes and one for probation violation and illegal reentry. San Francisco policy requires that the Sheriff's Department only place an ICE hold on a detainee if supported by judicial determination of probable cause or with a warrant of arrest. For more details about the case, click here and here.



July 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fifth Circuit to Hear Arguments on Intervention of Immigrant Mothers in DAPA Challenge

Texas v. United States, the 26 states' challenge to the expanded deferred action program, is incredibly complex procedurally. In addition to the United States' appeal of entry of the preliminary injunction, threef immigrant mothers, who claim that they are eligible for deferred action of the under the new program, appeal a district court order denying their motion for leave to intervene.  Along with hearing arguments on the injunction appeal on July 10, the Fifth Circuit will also hear arguments on the appeal of the three proposed intervenors.  Professor Michael Olivas has collected the filings in the case, which are available here.

As explained in this Law 360 article, the mothers moved to intervene in the lower court case in January, arguing that the government’s attorneys could not represent their interests. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen their motion.  In the Fifth Circuit, the three women, identified as Jane Does, argued that the federal government’s interests are “diametrically opposed” to their own. “As a matter of law, the federal government cannot represent the Jane Does’ interests when it is statutorily commanded to deport them and routinely takes litigation positions hostile to undocumented immigrants,” the women told the Fifth Circuit.

Led by Texas, the 26 states argue that the intervention denial should be upheld and that the appeal would only waste time. “Movants’ arguments for intervention are manifestly meritless, and continuation of this appeal will waste the court’s and parties’ time and resources,” the states argued.

The states’ request was rejected by ta Fifth Circuit panel of Judges Jerry E. Smith, Jennifer Walker Elrod, and Stephen A. Higginson.


July 4, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

At the Movies: Jimmy's Hall


Jimmy's Hall released 2014

During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.

In 1921 Jimmy Gralton’s sin was to build a dance hall on a rural crossroads in an Ireland on the brink of Civil War. The Pearse-Connolly Hall was a place where young people could come to learn, to argue, to dream... but above all to dance and have fun. As the hall grew in popularity its socialist and free-spirited reputation brought it to the attention of the church and politicians who forced Jimmy to flee and the hall to close. A decade later, at the height of the Depression, Jimmy returns to Co. Leitrim from the US to look after his mother and vows to live the quiet life. The hall stands abandoned and empty, and despite the pleas of the local youngsters, remains shut. However as Jimmy reintegrates into the community and sees the poverty, and growing cultural oppression, the leader and activist within him is stirred. He makes the decision to reopen the hall in the face of what they may bring.

For more on Jimmy Gralton's deportation from Ireland, click here.


July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senator Ted Cruz on Trump: ‘I Salute Donald Trump’


Donald Trump has had a tough week, being criticized from many quarters and losing many sponsors.  Today, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd sat down with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Marietta, Georgia to talk about his new book and his run for president. 

During the interview, Senator  Cruz (R-TX) was asked about Donald Trump's controversial comments about undocumented immigrants. 

See below for the exchange, and tune in to Sunday’s “Meet the Press” for Chuck’s full interview with Sen. Cruz.


Embed video: <iframe width="635" height="500" src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/nbcNewsOffsite?guid=x_dc_mtp_cruztrump_150703" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe>


Cruz: Now when it comes to Trump. I like Donald Trump.  He’s bold. He’s brash.  And I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some republicans to attack other republicans.  I ain’t gonna do it.  I’m not interested in Republican on Republican violence.

 Chuck: Rhetoric matters. Doesn’t rhetoric matter?


Cruz: I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration.  The Washington cartel doesn’t want to address that.  The Washington cartel doesn’t believe we need to secure the borders. The Washington cartel supports amnesty, and I think amnesty is wrong.  And I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it.  He has a colorful way of speaking -- it’s not the way I speak.  But I’m not going to engage in the media’s game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans. I’m just not gonna do it.


UPDATE (July 5):  From NBC Universal:

Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) left all options on the table on illegal immigration in the United States, telling “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd: “We should secure the border and then have a conversation.”

This morning’s show also featured an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of "Between the World and Me"; updates from NBC News correspondents Richard Engel, Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker; and a political panel discussion with Chris Cillizza ofThe Washington Post; Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post; Carolyn Ryan of The New York Times, and Michael Steele, fmr. Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Below are highlights, video clips, and a rush transcript of today’s program. Additional show video is available online at www.MeetThePressNBC.com. Join the conversation online with hashtag #MTP.

Like the show on Facebook, and follow “Meet the Press” on Twitter.

# # #

Sen. Ted Cruz on Illegal Immigration


You still didn't say what you'd do with the 11 million.


Well, my view is first, we secure the borders and solve the problem of illegal immigration.  And then I think we can have a conversation about what to do about the people who remain here.  I don't think the American people will accept any solution until we demonstrate step number one, we can secure the border.


So anything's on the table?  Potentially deportation or not deportation, but anything's on the table for the 11 million--


I think we should secure the border and then have a conversation at that point.

# # #

Sen. Cruz on Trump: I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration.  

VIDEO: http://nbcnews.to/1H59C1K


July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Discrimination and poor job prospects hit children of immigrants, says OECD

Undocumented Immigrants are victims, not criminals by Louis Marinelli President, Sovereign California PAC



Undocumented Immigrants are victims, not criminals by Louis Marinelli, President, Sovereign California PAC

There’s a reason millions of people make the journey to come to this country without a visa and millions more overstay their visa when they get here – life is “better” here. Or so they say. We don’t have the best education system in the world – that honor goes to South Korea. We don’t have the best health care system or the safest society. Those accolades go to the United Kingdom and Iceland, respectively. Yet the age-old adage that America is the land of opportunity endures.

It’s frightening to consider how bad life must be south of the border that millions seek a better life for themselves and their families in the United States and even risk their lives getting here. This is a country where you can be harassed by the police because of your skin color, where you can be fired and evicted from your home because of your sexual orientation, and where schools, cinemas, and now even churches are the scenes of horrific mass murder.

Yet millions make that perilous journey and are branded as criminals when they get here. The truth is that undocumented immigrants are not criminals, they are victims. Victims of the same federal government that we citizens are victims of. The federal government is responsible for racking up trillions of dollars of debt in our name, for mass surveillance programs spying on us, for an insolvent social security system threatening our livelihood, and for the militarized police force that has collectively killed 551 American citizens in the first six months of this year alone. To put that in perspective, one single person was killed by a police officer in the United Kingdom in 2013 and 2014 combined. During the same two-year time period, not one person was killed by a police officer in Germany for any reason.

If that is a glimpse of how our government treats the citizens and body politic of this country, it is depressing to consider how that very same government has behaved itself on the world stage. I submit to you that millions of undocumented immigrants from south of the border live in this country today not because America is such a great place but because it is merely a better place than the disaster zone that exists in Central America today as a result of a century of interventionist foreign policies. 

The United States has been responsible for instituting forced labor and slavery, enacting embargoes and blockades, launching military invasions, planning government overthrows, encouraging civil wars, backing rebellions, seizing government assets, and conducting assassinations in Latin American countries everywhere from our southern border with Mexico to the southern tip of South America – and all in the last century. With this disturbing level of instability caused by American foreign policy and economic interests, it is no surprise that many Central American countries have not been able to develop societies from which people don’t need to flee in search of a better life.

Those who do flee come to the United States, ironically, the very country responsible for much of the instability that has plagued their nations for decades. When they get here they are called criminals? They are called illegal? It is the American government that is criminal. It is the American government that acts illegally. It is the American government that refuses to modernize its own immigration system.

And if there’s any doubt of the American government’s ability to create instability, look at the Middle East: Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, the situation with Israel, the Iranian Revolution – all products of American interventionism. Given this history, the least we can do is embrace our fellow Americans from south of the border and that’s what the California Immigration Reform Act does.

First, I’d like to point out that the California Immigration Reform Act is not amnesty. It is a program that allows undocumented immigrants to live in California without fear of deportation or exploitation. In order to participate, undocumented immigrants must register and pay state income taxes. Currently we don’t know exactly how many undocumented immigrants are here. This initiative changes that. Currently we don’t know that all undocumented workers pay state income taxes. This initiative changes that. This is a very practical state solution to a federal problem.

Now, a lot of thought went into creating a system to protect the undocumented throughout this process. This initiative prohibits sharing any information with the federal government. The initiative also transforms your local DMV into the Department of Citizen Services where everyone will go for driver licenses, to register to vote, to register a car or a boat… and to register as an undocumented immigrant. Federal agents parked outside in a black suburban will not be able to tell the difference between citizens, documented immigrants, and undocumented immigrants standing together in the same lines.

Undocumented immigrants will have a very real reason to come forward and register. This initiative provides undocumented immigrants who come forward a guarantee that no state or local funds or resources will be used to assist the federal government in locating, detaining, or deporting them. Undocumented immigrants who remain unregistered are not provided with the same guarantee.

Our ballot proposal is very practical. No legitimate immigration plan includes rounding up millions of people and deporting them. That means millions of undocumented immigrants are here and are here to stay. Personally, I welcome them. Sovereign California welcomes them. We believe the majority of Californians will welcome them, too. For those who don’t, I ask you to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it better for us to have an accurate number of how many undocumented immigrants are living in California, or better not to know?
  2. Is it better for us to have millions of undocumented immigrants using taxpayer-funded public services who pay state income taxes, or better that some did not pay state income taxes?

From a practical dollars and cents standpoint alone, clearly the answer is to encourage registration and the payment of state income taxes and that’s what this ballot proposal achieves.


July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economic Impact of Immigrants in North Carolina by Vicky Yau

In light of Ann Coulter’s book against immigration, I thought I’d do some research about the benefits of immigration. I came across an interesting report conducted in North Carolina. Certainly not an immigration hub, North Carolina has recently seen a tremendous rise in its immigration population; the rate has quintupled from 1990 to 2013. This trend has provided some interesting data on the economic impact of immigration.
While most immigrants continue to settle in large cities, rural and suburban parts of North Carolina have also seen an influx of immigrants. In fact, the report found that from 2000–2014, more immigrants lived in suburban areas than in city centers. In addition to helping the economies in these areas, their presence has limited or reversed population declines in many rural NC communities. Below, I will highlight a few interesting facts contained in North Carolina Justice Center report.
-       - In 2011, immigrants made up 6.1% of all white-collar employees in NC, not far below their share of the state’s total population.
-      -  Immigrants’ economic contributions to the NC economy exceed their share of the overall population. In 2011, the immigration population of NC was about 7%. But they generate more than 8% of the state’s total economic output- 2011. Put in terms of dollars and cents, immigrants produce roughly $1,500 more per person in goods and services than the average native-born North Carolinian.
-      -  In the U.S, immigrants or children of immigrants founded more than 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies Ex. Google, Apple, McDonalds, GE.
-       - Immigrants strengthen local economies by bringing in needed skills and experience. As active entrepreneurs, immigrants create jobs as well as well as purchase from other businesses in the area, increasing commerce in struggling neighborhoods.
-       - Most of North Carolina’s immigrants come from Mexico and other Central and South American countries.
-       - Financially prosperous counties have a higher immigrant population than financially distressed counties. Since the economic status of immigrants factor into the county’s overall economic picture, this fact seems to refute the idea that most immigrants from less prosperous countries survive off of government welfare checks.
-       - New immigrants compete more with previous immigrants rather than native-born workers. This might lower previous immigrants wages but generally does not affect native-worker wages
-       - Counties, both metropolitan and rural, with more immigrants, have lower unemployment rates, poverty rates, and higher weekly wages.
With these facts in mind, I leave you with a quote by Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “America’s prosperity has always depended on the hard work, sacrifice, drive, and dreams of immigrants. Our future will depend on them even more.”
Vicky Yau is a rising second year law student at UC Davis School of Law

July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)