Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigration. Show all posts

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Non-Citizen Voting In NYC

New York City recently made it legal for non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. 
This will include legal immigrants on green cards/visas and illegal immigrants with DACA status or who can otherwise show residence in NYC. 
When I first heard about this I thought it was a joke or some deliberate conservative lie, but no in fact, this was indeed the case.
New York City became the largest city in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections after the City Council on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation granting the right to more than 800,000 legal residents.
The move places New York City at the forefront of the debate over voting rights, serving as a stark contrast to some states that have moved to add voting restrictions, including explicitly barring noncitizens from voting.
The legislation was approved over the objections of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who questioned whether the City Council has the power to grant voting rights to noncitizens. Legal experts expect that the bill could face a legal challenge. 
Noncitizens would be able to begin to register to vote a year from now. They could begin voting in local elections as of Jan. 9, 2023, according to the City Council.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Crackdown on Birth Tourism

The United States is one of the few nations in the Western developed world to still offer birthright citizenship in which anyone who is born here is a citizen regardless of their parents' status. Most other nations, both in the "West" and beyond it, don't do that. Although the original intent of birthright citizenship was rooted in the immediate post-Civil War attempts to grant African-Americans full and unqualified citizenship in the United States, this legal tradition proved quite attractive to the people arriving in the post-Civil War waves of immigration to the United States, first from Europe and then later from Asia, Africa, Latin America and other places. In most nations, particularly in Europe, the "nation state" is synonymous with control and demographic dominance by one or at most a few ethnic/racial groups. The United States may have started with the same intent but because of slavery and the presence of the Indigenous people, the United States was never going to be a nation of one race or failing that even of one ethnic group. 

I have my doubts about the current wisdom of birthright citizenship during a time of mass immigration from the Third World but that's a different post.  Today's problems is that some people are gaming the system to get the benefits of American citizenship for their progeny and later themselves without making the slightest contribution to the American political or economic framework. If someone is born here but spent all of their formative years as a citizen of China or Russia, are they really an American?  There are a lot of different foreign nationals getting involved but for years Chinese and Russians have been the biggest practitioners of birth tourism. 
Three people who operated multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses in Southern California were arrested Thursday in the biggest federal criminal probe ever to target the thriving industry, in which pregnant women come to the United States to give birth so their children will become American citizens.

The businesses coached their clients to deceive United States immigration officials and pay indigent rates at hospitals to deliver their babies, even though many of the clients were wealthy, investigators said. Some Chinese couples were charged as much as $100,000 for a birth-tourism package that included housing, nannies and shopping excursions to Gucci.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Shutdown And The Wall

At the time of this writing it is day 21 of the government shutdown. On Friday January 11, thousands of Federal workers missed their first full paycheck. Although it is unwise to live your life paycheck to paycheck, fully 80% of Americans do indeed live paycheck to paycheck.  

 And that's not just impoverished people. 10% of people with a salary greater than six figures also say they live that way. Of course a six figure income is not what it was twenty years ago. The reasons for that are not really relevant to this post. The larger point is that plenty of federal workers will face some tough decisions over the next few days. The given reason for the shutdown is that President Trump wants $5.7 Billion for the creation and expansion of a hard border Wall. 

The Democrats, who won back the House, are offering $1.3 Billion for border security, some possible fencing, but definitely no Wall. In some ways however the fight isn't really over the creation of a wall. Democrats have voted for walls before. Some border areas already have effective walls. The larger fight is over the symbolism of a wall. Trump's rabid base despises illegal immigration and isn't that crazy about legal immigration. They want to see concrete evidence that Trump is making headway in the battle against both. When Trump looked like he was going to cave conservative enforcers Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh called him out in a mocking personal way.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Border Fracas

TIJUANA, Mexico — A peaceful march by Central American migrants waiting at the southwestern United States border veered out of control on Sunday afternoon, as hundreds of people tried to evade a Mexican police blockade and run toward a giant border crossing that leads into San Diego. 

In response, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency shut down the border crossing in both directions and fired tear gas to push back migrants from the border fence. The border was reopened later Sunday evening. The episode comes at a time of growing tension on both sides of the border and promised to become the newest flash point in the story of a caravan that was the target of President Trump’s anti-immigrant rallying cry during the midterm elections. LINK

I don't have a lot to say about this that I haven't said before. It's important to understand that there are few if any sovereign nations that will routinely let masses of people enter without permission. The US isn't one of them, strictly speaking. If you zerg rush a border there are basically three choices that the authorities have. (1) The authorities can back down and let you in. (2) The authorities can use non-lethal force to prevent your entry. (3) The authorities can use lethal force to prevent your entry. If the authorities make the first choice they will invite more people to do the same thing.

A border is force made visible. It tells everyone else that this section of the planet is ours. You can't enter or stay without our permission. Consent is everything here. It's the difference between me inviting someone into my home and someone entering my home without my permission. It's the same action in each instance but I will have utterly different reactions. Consent matters.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

German Far Right Raises Profile

Although the United States is not officially a nation based primarily on lineage and blood and soil, Germany is. There are apparently more than a few Germans who do not like the idea of sharing their country with non-Germans one bit. At all. The relatively recent influx of mostly non-European immigrants and migrants into Europe has been the single biggest boost to right-wing, reactionary and downright fascist political parties across the continent. As the video below the fold makes clear, as dislike for immigrants becomes more acceptable to vocalize, Nazi sympathizers and actual Nazis successfully shift the Overton window far enough to the right to include some even uglier ideas. Although for obvious historical reasons Europe in general and Germany in particular get most of the media attention for this sort of stuff there are places all over the planet where people make it clear that they aren't overly fond of THOSE people. THOSE people can of course be of any race or ethnicity and could even be (to me) visually indistinguishable from the people yelling for their expulsion. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of Black South Africans chasing down and assaulting Black Nigerian or Black Zimbabwean immigrants or refugees.

It's important to keep in mind that we're not all the same, we can't all get along, and nations aren't disappearing any time soon. The noxious Steve King had it right when he said that European right-wingers and Nazi sympathizers would be Republicans if they were Americans. I think that most Germans have enough sense not to politically support would-be Nazis. That said though mass immigration from the Third World into Europe will continue to be a politically destabilizing event.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Should We Abolish ICE?

Even before the Trump directed zero tolerance illegal immigration policy in which every person who unlawfully entered the United States would theoretically face prosecution, some people, usually those who were sympathetic to illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants themselves were calling for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In terms of immigration law, ICE's primary responsibility is interior enforcement. 

But with Trump's cruel misstep and resulting horrible images of desperate parents separated from their children more and more people have called for the abolition of ICE. Luminaries such as Keith Ellison, Pramila Jayapal, and Mark Pocan, presumptive US Representative to be, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand, and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio have all recommended eliminating ICE.  

Some politicians, intellectuals, and activists have been coy about what they see as ICE's replacement. Others are pretty straightforward that they don't want to deport anyone. Not One More Deportation is what they believe. So they don't want a replacement for ICE. Some people claim that they don't believe in borders. They argue that citizenship is an unfair caste system that should be eliminated. They say that because the United States was born in conquest and genocide, the US has no right to restrict entry for anyone. I don't believe that everyone clamoring to abolish ICE has thought everything through. Some politicians who scream the loudest about abolishing ICE don't want to actually vote to do so.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Supreme Court Upholds Trump's Travel Ban

As I long suspected and as this blog's legal expert predicted :" However, as it stands, the courts have basically taken the position that Presidents can freely use Section 212(f) as they see fit, so it is unlikely that Trump will lose this battle on the merits in the long run." the Supreme Court upheld Trump's travel ban. So that is that. 

WASHINGTON — President Trump acted lawfully in imposing limits on travel from several predominantly Muslim nations, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s conservatives in the majority. The court’s decision, a major statement on presidential power, marked the conclusion of a long-running dispute over Mr. Trump’s authority to make good on his campaign promises to secure the nation’s borders. 

Just a week after he took office, Mr. Trump issued his first travel ban, causing chaos at the nation’s airports and starting a cascade of lawsuits and appeals. The first ban, drafted in haste, was promptly blocked by courts around the nation. A second version, issued two months later, fared little better, although the Supreme Court allowed part of it go into effect last June when it agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeals from court decisions blocking it. But the Supreme Court dismissed those appeals in October after the second ban expired.

The Supreme Court may have gotten this wrong, though I don't think they did. I am no lawyer or legal expert. But to paraphrase a saying the Court is not supreme because it is always right; it's supreme because it's final. If Congress wishes to do so it can write a law to remove such authority from the current President and all future ones. We should remember that Trump, like Obama before him, will not be the United State's last President. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Italy turns away migrant ship

One of the hot button topics across what is referred to as the "West" is immigration, particularly illegal immigration and refugees. This issue was part of why Trump was elected. It was also behind the electoral success of some right-wing politicians across Europe, including, Italy. The new government in Italy made news recently when it refused to accept a French NGO ship crammed with apparent African and Arab refugees. France ostentatiously criticized Italy's decision but also refused to take in the migrants, something that caused the Italians to go off on the French hypocrisy and arrogance. The Spanish stepped up to take in the ship. Nationalists across Europe cheered Italy's decision.

PARIS — A boat crowded with hundreds of Africans sailing across the Mediterranean after being turned away by Italy this week has exposed anew the shaky fault lines in Europe’s approach to the migrant crisis. On Sunday, Italy’s new far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, ordered the Aquarius, a rescue ship operated by humanitarian groups, to stop 35 nautical miles off the coast of Italy, refusing to let it dock.

The ship is now on its way to Spain, which showed up its neighbors by solemnly announcing that it would “respect its international engagements” and accept the boat after Malta, too, refused it, and France stood idly by. Brussels, the seat of the European Union, looked on in relative silence. There was no common policy to receive the Aquarius and no authority to impose one if there were.

The Italian refusal to offer safe harbor to a ship loaded with what aid groups described as 629 migrants — including 123 minors, 11 small children and seven pregnant women — was intended to underscore a long-simmering grievance.

The Italians have bridled for years that they have been left alone by their European Union partners on the front line on the Mediterranean with an unmanageable burden of migration that Mr. Salvini pledged to reverse in his recent election campaign. But his refusal to accept the boat did more than pit humanitarian necessity against political expediency. It roiled tensions with European allies in ways that made President Trump’s performance at the G-7 summit last weekend look almost diplomatic by comparison.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Demise of the Nation State???

The British Indian novelist and essayist Rana Dasgupta recently wrote a very long earnest piece about the alleged demise of the nation-state. You should read it. Dasgupta makes a few good points. It is true that many rights which we don't normally allow governments to violate (at least in theory or without a really good reason established via due process) are "violated" every single day by corporations. Corporations have become powerful enough to begin to unfetter themselves from meaningful oversight or control by some of the nations where they do business. It's true that for some countries that globalization has caused greater diversity and in others raised average incomes. Dasgupta badly missteps when he argues that globalization in its current form is inevitable or that the increasing nationalism in some countries is merely a reactionary last gasp against needed permanent change to political, economic and cultural systems. Dasgupta tips his hand near the end of this piece. Dasgupta doesn't evince much interest in independently occurring nationalist, sectarian, ethnic or racial feelings outside the West, though their intensity can rival anything in today's West. 

No the main point that Dasgupta wants you to take away from this 6000 word essay is something that he initially obfuscates but ultimately just can't resist bluntly stating. He thinks that citizenship itself is manifestly unfair. To be precise, Dasgupta thinks that citizenship in the West and especially citizenship in the United States is unfair. And he wants to end it, primarily to make people in the Third World wealthier.
The history of the nation state is one of perennial tax innovation, and the next such innovation is transnational: we must build systems to track transnational money flows, and to transfer a portion of them into public channels. Without this, our political infrastructure will continue to become more and more superfluous to actual material life. In the process we must also think more seriously about global redistribution: not aid, which is exceptional, but the systematic transfer of wealth from rich to poor for the improved security of all, as happens in national societies.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Resurgence of Nationalism

Politics is not a field where predictions are easy to make. We learned that from the 2016 election. People are complex. They want different, oft contradictory things. Although the Right is currently ascendant in American politics, Republican Representatives and Senators are not always unified. 

Without the spectre of President Obama to scare their base, Republicans don't have as much in common as they thought they did. They failed to deliver a legislative replacement to the PPACA. Trump signed a budget that was widely seen as a loss for conservatives. Republicans disagree on immigration levels. The Right's overreach and the disdain that many on the Left hold for Trump means that the Left could make strides in Congress in 2018 and possibly even win the White House in 2020. Who knows? But that's all movement on the political surface. 

I'm more interested in the underground political resentments that helped to get Trump elected in the U.S., made Brexit a winning policy in the UK, put a scare in the French establishment which has President Macron sounding like Marine LePen, caused Italy to shift policy on immigrationsaw the rise of anti-immigrant and racist parties in Italy's most recent election, brought the virulently anti-immigrant German party Alternative for Germany to Parliament for the first time, made Hungary and Poland turn to the right, just brought another anti-immigrant party to power in Austria, and has seen the Czech Republic refuse to take in any more refugees.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chaldeans Blame Trump for Deportations

As you probably know if you've read any prior posts here I don't have a tremendous amount of sympathy for resident adult non-citizens who break the law in any serious way and then receive a deportation order. I have even less sympathy for a group of people who voted for Trump and are shocked when he turns on them. It's what he is. It's what he does. Perhaps for the next election people might consider looking a little more deeply into a candidate's background and history or maybe even think about voting for something greater than their own narrow perceived self-interest. You can't or rather shouldn't identify as a "conservative" and then get p*****d off when someone enforces the law against you. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Stop resisting. Follow the rules and you'll have nothing to worry about. Obey the law. Isn't that what self-righteous conservatives tell blacks other people who complain about selective, harsh, or inflexible law enforcement? Well okay then. When he talked about immigrants who were breaking the law with impunity and causing havoc across the land President Trump apparently wasn't, despite what some Chaldean immigrants thought, only talking about Mexicans.

Standing in the living room of her brother's home in Sterling Heights, Lina Denha wipes away tears with a tissue as she recalls how federal agents arrested him early one Sunday morning this month. 
"To just come and grab him in front of his kids and family — that's not right," she said of the June 11 detention of Haydar Butris, 38, one of 114 Iraqi immigrants with criminal records arrested in Michigan.  "He's been here most of his life. He did a mistake. He paid for it. Now, he is a good father, has kids, a family. He works, pays taxes and everything. And you just come knock on the door, come out of nowhere and grab him? That's not right."

Denha's sadness turns to frustration as she expresses disappointment with President Donald Trump, whom she and some other Iraqi-American Christians in Michigan had supported. Denha's sense of betrayal is echoed across metro Detroit among some Iraqi-American Christians who voted for Trump because they hoped he would be sympathetic to their community abroad, where they are a religious minority, and in the U.S. 
"We voted for Trump," Denha said. "That's what we get from him? ... Obama is better than him, 100 times."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jury Duty: Who Are Your Peers?

What is a peer?

Well according to the dictionary a peer is a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else.  A peer is one that is of equal standing with another or especially one who belongs to the same societal group based on age, grade or status.

You have a constitutional right to a criminal trial by a jury of your peers. I will leave it up to the experts like The Janitor or Old Guru to fully break down exactly what are the exceptions to that rule and what peers mean in a legal setting but for many non-lawyers I think it's safe to say that in that context peers would mean adult US citizens. There are of course some questions about whether or not a criminal defendant is guaranteed to have a jury made up of people who share their immutable characteristics (I don't believe this is the case) or whether the state can deliberately and maliciously exclude people who share such characteristics with the defendant (also I don't think this is, with a few exceptions, the case).

But in today's world of ever increasing globalization and immigration, should peer be restricted to US citizens? And when it comes to such things as elections and jury duty who really gets the last word? The federal government or the states? Well that answer can often depend on which side you're on when it comes to such things as immigration. People who point to federal supremacy when a state like Arizona tries to make life more difficult for illegal immigrants often turn a blind eye when a state like California tries to make life easier for them. And people who scream about the primacy of states rights when Alabama attempts to kick out illegal immigrants wax poetic about federal supremacy when California, Illinois or New York try to do end runs around specific federal programs designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

The latest proposal coming out of, you guessed it, California, does not, despite what detractors imply, apply to illegal immigrants, but it does seek to extend rights and duties usually thought only to accrue to citizens to legally resident non-citizens.

SACRAMENTO — Legal immigrants who are not American citizens would be able to serve on juries in California under a bill that lawmakers sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.The measure joins a proposal already on the governor's desk that would also allow legal permanent residents to serve as poll workers in California elections.The bills are among a handful that would expand immigrant rights in California and have sparked rancorous debate in the Legislature.
Immigrants "are part of the fabric of our community," Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) said during the floor debate Thursday. "They benefit from the protections of our laws, so it is fair and just that they be asked to share in the obligation to do jury duty."
Republicans opposed the measure, which passed the Assembly with a bare majority. The Senate approved the bill Monday."I do think there is something called the jury of your peers," countered Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside). "Peers are people who understand the nuances of America."
He noted that some immigrants come from countries where suspects are guilty until proven innocent and where people are taught to obey authority, not question it.The bill, AB 1401, was authored by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which seeks a way to expand the pool of eligible jurors in California...
I think you can probably guess what I think of this proposal but just in case you can't I will spell it out. There is an argument that can be made for the elimination of the nation state. There is also an argument that can be made that nationalism is just another form of bigotry and them vs. us thinking. You could argue that separating people or granting them rights based on where they were born on this planet is not really all that different than basing their level of rights on other characteristics over which they have no control such as their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. Non-citizens have legally voted in previous elections.
I am wholly unsympathetic to these arguments. The nation state isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Neither are different cultures and different ways of understanding the world or different ideas about how a criminal justice system works.
There is a process by which anyone on this planet can become an American citizen. Depending on which year you're referencing, about a million or so do each year, in which case they can vote, serve on juries and do other things which, usually but not always in the American political system have been reserved to citizens. When you vote or serve on a jury you are exerting influence over a political system you are invested in and for which you have some form of loyalty or hopefully understanding. This isn't perfect of course. There are plenty of stupid or malicious people who vote or serve on juries (how else can you explain the election of Ted Cruz or the acquittal of Casey Anthony) but that is our system. In many respects it's the least bad of all the others.  
My peers are American citizens. I do not wish to be judged by non-citizens. I do not want American elections to have non-citizens participating in them as poll workers or really in any capacity. I know that there are many smart, sober, well-read and intellectually curious permanent non-citizens in this country. I work with several and have no problems saying that some are far more intelligent than I. All the same though this isn't their country unless and until they become a citizen. I don't think it's too much to ask that jury duty and any sort of election work be restricted to US citizens.  

Am I wrong?

Should permanent legal residents be able to serve on juries?

What should be the distinctions between citizens and legal residents?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

That's Whats UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour: Sunday, April 21st @ 5PM EST

That's What's UP - The Urban Politico Radio Hour
Join us Sunday, April 21st 5pm (ET) as we talk about the Politics of the United States and beyond.

This week's discussion:
  • Boston Attack
  • National Security and Due Process
  • Immigration Debate
  • Failed Gun Control Legislation
Listen Live Online HERE and Call in to join our discussion (424) 675-6844

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Anti-Immigration Violence, Racism, Illegal Immigrants, Israel and the Ethnostate

Riot victim explains what happened

I've been really busy with other things over the past month so I am just now getting around to writing about this. But I as it turns out with it's still somewhat timely because of our recent discussions over illegal immigration, the President's decision to administratively implement portions of the Dream Act and this week's expected Supreme Court decision on Arizona's SB1070 law.

Let's say that a group of Caucasians ran violently amok against Third World illegal and legal immigrants, whom they blamed for increased crime, disease, unsustainable fertility and basic cultural and racial incompatibility. Imagine that their political and religious leaders endorsed the rioters' concerns in explicitly white supremacist language and promised new steps to detain and deport illegal immigrants while preventing legal immigrant entry on the basis of stopping a clear and present demographic danger. Allow that the leaders spoke of shooting illegal immigrants dead and driving out legal immigrants who were the wrong color or who had had the chutzpah to either compete for jobs with citizens, open businesses or date/marry citizens. Finally let's say that political leaders started building new detention centers just so any particularly dense illegal immigrants got the hint.

You'd probably think that Arizona had finally lost it. You might say that the National Guard needed to be sent into Arizona to protect visibly Hispanic people from violence. And if you shared the immigrants' ethnicity or were otherwise just a decent person upset about violence and racist language, you might be demanding that President Obama make it clear through word and deed that these sort of actions would not be tolerated.

Israeli citizens express desire for Africans to leave
What I described above above all happened but it was not in Arizona and did not involve Hispanics. It occurred in Israel and involved Africans. So this didn't get a lot of mainstream U.S. media attention. Surprising I know. I was intrigued by it though because it touched on some basic truths about humanity and history that I think we overlook at our peril.

The United States is unusual in being (theoretically anyway) a country in which race and ethnicity are delinked from citizenship. As long as you are born here you are a citizen. Period. Most Americans may still be Caucasian but anyone on the planet can become an American. There is no way that you can look at someone and automatically say he's not an American. This country was multiracial and even multicultural from the start. The American political journey has been to formally recognize these facts and deal with the hypocrisies, challenges or opportunities that flow from them. 

But many other countries simply were not created like that and certainly aren't crazy about diversity now. Although times are changing there remains a pretty good chance that you can visually discern Ugandans from Finns or Japanese from Scots. Some countries make a link between ancestry, culture, ethnicity and citizenship. Israel is one such country. If you are non-Jewish, there is a slightly less level of citizenship enjoyed, that is if you are allowed to become a citizen in the first place, which you probably won't be. Israel intends to remain a Jewish state. 

So the current situation in Israel vis a vis the immigrants and refugees from sub-Saharan Africa is pretty interesting because there is hypocrisy enough to go around for everyone. Obviously I don't and can't agree with the ugly white supremacist thinking revealed and reveled in by some Israelis. One woman legislator compared the Africans to cancer patients and then apologized cancer patients. Seriously. Someone tried to burn down an apartment building inhabited by Eritreans. Netanyahu has said the Africans are a demographic threat. A rabbi who is the spiritual leader of Shas said that Africans are ruining the Jewish dream and need to go build their dream in their own countries.
"A society personifying a social time bomb of robbery, violence, sodomy as well as assimilation alongside the destruction of the institute of marriage and the proper family unit – such a society must be separate and distant, and the sooner the better. Listen up, dear and kind Sudanese people. In the United States, Martin Luther King's dream came true. Giuliani will tell you how he made it happen. Go forth and implement this in Sudan and Eritrea. We promise to help you, we'll even be delighted to help, as always."
Yishai, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, told the newspaper Maariv on Friday he saw the African arrivals, many of whom are Muslims or Christians, as a demographic threat."The infiltrators along with the Palestinians will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream," Yishai said, adding that Israel had its own health and welfare issues. "Most of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn't belong to us, the white man," Yishai said in the interview with Maariv.

Abraham Alu, a 35-year-old refugee from what is now South Sudan, was on his way to the store last Wednesday night when an anti-African protest in south Tel Aviv turned violent. Jewish Israelis chased and beat African asylum seekers, broke the windows of a car full of African men, and smashed storefronts of African-owned stores in south Tel Aviv. Alu, who was headed out to buy food, almost ran into a mob. But police pointed to the group headed in his direction and said, “Run, they’ll murder you! Run!” Alu turned around and headed back to the tiny, one-room apartment he shares with 11 other South Sudanese men.
TJ, a 29-year-old migrant from Nigeria, watched the violent chaos from his rooftop having been chased and pelted with rocks when he attempted to leave his house."There were protesters everywhere smashing shop and car windows," he said. "A group of about 10 or 15 boys stopped one black kid cycling on his bike. They pulled him off and were punching and kicking him in his head. The police just stood and watched until it got really out of control." Other witnesses described a gang assaulting a mother carrying a young baby so violently that she was forced to drop her child. Others stopped shuttle buses to search for migrant workers among their passengers.'TJ' says he is among the few who has left his home following the violence: "Black people have been too afraid to leave their homes to go to work today. Racism in Tel Aviv is not only getting worse it's getting out of hand and the police are no help. We are terrified." 
These immigrants and refugees generally aren't welcomed in Arab North Africa either or the Middle East, often for the same reasons. The overthrow of Qaddafi released some of the same anti-black hatred. Israel hardly stands alone. Egypt doesn't want these people any more than Israel does. Some Israelis feel that because Israel was set up as a place of Jewish refuge then it must be one for other refugees, even if they look different or have different cultures. Some Israelis are saddened and disgusted by the vituperative racism shown by some of their countrymen and countrywomen. Others say, racism or no, that there is a point beyond which a group or nation cannot accept outsiders without losing that which made the nation worth having in the first place. There are roughly about 5.8 million Jews in Israel. They have no intention of allowing immigrants to reach the numbers or percentages that are seen in America or France or the UK. Israel was not the former colonial power of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia or Eritrea and in this point of view really bears no responsibility for economic or political refugees from those countries. A new law allows a three year detention of illegal immigrants to Israel.
The really incredibly disgusting hypocritical thing though is if any political leader in Europe dared to say anything remotely negative about the presence of Jewish people within their historic homelands, some of the same thugs yelling "Throw the blacks out" in Tel Aviv would be the first people howling about anti-semitism in Europe. And God forbid if an European nation experienced a new anti-Jewish Kristallnacht type riot. I have no doubt that the US ambassador to the UN would be standing up to loudly condemn that country while Netanyahu adroitly reminded everyone that this is how the Holocaust got started. But that's life I guess. Hypocrisy is deeply woven within humans. Perhaps we all have a tendency to look out for our own first and say to hell with the other guy.

Both liberal and conservative strands are part of what make us human. To horribly generalize for a moment, often the liberal wants to accept and help others and often has an issue admitting that peoples or cultures are different or that there really is such a thing as "in-group" or "out-group". Liberals are at their best making appeals to universal and transcendent human values and not necessarily parochial national or ethnic ones. Some liberals can be rather suspicious of or hostile to solidarity appeals based solely on group membership, especially if the group is one you were born into or is not a "disadvantaged group". At the extremes of course well this can fall into an inability to recognize that your own culture or way of life is valid and worth defending.

African immigrants seeking food
But the conservative person has no problem accepting in-groups and out-groups. Often such identities track closely with how he sees the world. "Ours" and "Mine" are not automatically bad words to a conservative. The idea that this particular bunch of goodies or patch of land belongs to the people who live there and not to those "others" is self-evident to many people with this pov. Again, taken to the extremes this falls into hierarchical thinking, an inability to recognize yourself in others, xenophobia and open gleeful racism. There is a serious conflict between democracy and racial/ethnic/religious tribalism.

This is not just a black-white phenomenon or even a First World-Third World issue. There have been anti-Chinese riots in Zambia, anti-African riots in China (The Tiananmen Square uprising mutated from anti-African clashes), Muscovite Russians rioting against Caucasian Russians, Indian Hindus seeking to slaughter Indian Muslims, Black South Africans attacking illegal immigrant Black Zimbabweans and so on. US/THEM thinking is something that may be ugly and seemingly atavistic in humankind but it's certainly not going away anytime soon. The trick is to recognize it and channel it properly without giving into it completely, as seems to be happening in Israel. There is a middle ground which welcomes the legal newcomer but doesn't ask to remove the concept of a nation. Despite all the epithets hurled at Americans who are opposed to illegal immigration, I don't see the current American political structure welcoming or endorsing the open violence we see in Israel. I think part of this is chickens coming home to roost as some forms of political Zionism lend themselves or almost require the sort of ugly chauvinism and racism that we see expressed. Zionism is not, after all, completely congruent with the American political system.

What's your take?
1) Had you heard about this? Are you surprised?
2) Do countries have a right to expel illegal immigrants and/or people who have different cultures? Do countries have a right to seek to maintain a certain demographic balance?
3) Does Israel have any special duty to accept refugees?
4) Should President Obama censure Israel for its actions?
5) Is the nation state passe? Should everyone have open borders?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Breaking News: Obama Administration to give work permits for Illegal Immigrants!!!

The Obama Administration intends to grant work permits to illegal immigrants. This is great news for the people so impacted (i.e. illegal immigrants)  and also some people of goodwill who support some form of legalization but believe you me this will cause venomous opposition from some other voters. Some people will not understand why at a time of 8% unemployment you would want to increase the workforce. The Obama Administration is probably gambling that most people that will be opposed to this were already opposed to the Administration. Perhaps. We shall see. Although the US Latino population has increased dramatically over the past two decades that growth is not reflected at the ballot box, something that worries some Democrats. This could be a game changer either way for the election. I have to do more research to understand how this is even possible without some form of Congressional assent. There's no way that I see this as anything other than horrible pandering to one group at the expense of other groups, not to mention law and order but that may be a minority opinion here. Let us know what you think!!!


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Breaking News: Immigration Reform

In news that is sure to please some supporters of "immigration reform", the Obama Administration announced that it was suspending deportation proceedings against "non-criminal" illegal immigrants in order to focus on the "criminal" element. Link to complete NYT Article.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.
White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws. Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.
The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes."  The action would also bolster President Obama’s reputation with Latino voters as he heads into the 2012 election. Just a week ago the leaders of major Hispanic organizations criticized his record, saying in a report that Mr. Obama and Congress had “overpromised and underdelivered” on immigration and other issues of concern to Latino voters, a major force in some swing states.
As many readers no doubt are aware I don't support either normalizing work status or putting illegal immigrants on a "path to citizenship". I know that's a minority view here but that's fine. I could be wrong. I don't say no to that. If "normalization" or "reform" were truly the will of the American people as expressed by their duly elected Representatives and Senators then I would have no choice but to accept it. I might mumble a bit but I'd accept it.
But this?
This looks like an end run around the law and appears to be another executive encroachment on Congress' role-just like the Libyan war. Aside from the capriciousness and obvious political self-interest of the Administration's decision there are at least four other reasons why I think this should give people pause.

  • We have 9.1% unemployment. Unemployment is even higher in the black community. Econ 101 and sheer self-interest indicate that we simply do not need additional workers in the economy now.

  • President Obama has once again caved to a particularly loud interest group that threatened to use its leverage. Surely his enemies must notice this but so will his friends. It's not a good look. 

  • We don't know who the unlawful residents are. They didn't undergo background checks or any of the other tests and verifications that legal immigrants have to endure.

  • People shouldn't ignore the law. It's the law it's not a suggestion. There are laws which I don't like but they are part of being an adult citizen. People obey these laws not only out of an internal belief that they are correct or at least guarantee the past of least resistance but also from the fact that breaking the law carries unpleasant consequences. But now we see that one group of people (of whom it bears repeating are not citizens and can't vote) have consistently refused to obey the law-not because they have any logical cogent rationale about why the law is unjust but because they find it inconvenient. Ok. Does that mean that a right-wing citizen who doesn't want to pay his income taxes (as many illegal immigrants do not) or purchase health care insurance, can refuse to do these things, if he or she finds enough likeminded people to raise a stink? We consent to be ruled by law in the belief that all are subject to it equally. That is of course an ideal not reality. But once anyone can pick and choose which laws she wants to obey, everyone else will clamor to do the same. The center won't hold.

But again, perhaps I am being melodramatic. Your call.

1) Do you think this is a good/moral move by the Administration? Why or why not?
2) Will this help the Administration with Hispanic voters? Hurt them with others?
3) What is the solution to unlawful entry/residence in the US?
4) If we are no longer going to deport people unless they are felonious, why bother with borders at all? Let's just let non-citizens decide how many people the US needs.

Friday, July 1, 2011

International Treaties and Texas

Humberto Leal Garcia
Texas has given us a lot of good things:  Albert Collins. James Lee BurkeFreddie King.  ZZ Top. Cornell Dupree.  Barbara Jordan.

Texas has also given us a justice system that makes it very clear that if you do the crime you most definitely are gonna do the time. Texas has no issue with the death penalty. Since the death penalty was allowed again, Texas has executed more people than anywhere else. Texas also has a reputation for not really seeming to care too much about that whole dotting the i's and crossing the t's thingie when it comes to getting convictions. 
Humberto Leal Garcia was convicted of raping and murdering a 16 year old girl. Her name was Adria Sauceda. She was kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and finally bludgeoned to death with a hunk of asphalt. 

Now, 17 yrs after her death, Leal is due to be executed for that crime. In the meantime he has discovered that he is a Mexican citizen and evidently didn't talk to his consular before his trial and conviction. This is required under international law. But during the Bush Administration, faced with a similar case, in Medellin v. Texas, the SC has ruled that absent a law from Congress the US government can't tell Texas what to do on this issue. 

Apparently the Feds are all hat, no cattle when it comes to Texas. Leal has also claimed that he was molested by a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church has added its voice to those calling for a stay of execution. You can read Leal's pov here. But Texas Governor Perry doesn't seem inclined to stay or commute the sentence. So absent a miracle, on July 7 Leal will be executed. The blog members hashed this out and as usual everyone had different opinions. Mine is pretty apparent so I'll skip that.

GrandCentral said this:
As a nation we have a moral obligation, to honor our commitments and lead by example. When an American citizen commits a crime abroad, it is not only presumed, but often demanded that the individual be given adequate legal representation and access to the US Embassy. The United States should respectfully extend the same courtesy to any individual who is convicted of a crime here. 

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, two American journalists, were convicted of illegally entering North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. According to the North Korean government, they committed a crime. Their families along with the US State Department,  pleaded with the North Koreans and demanded their release. We cannot expect fair treatment of our citizens abroad, when we don't extend the same courtesy to citizens of other nations.

The Janitor pointed out:
When it comes to criminal laws of a state, the feds are pretty much powerless to intervene with the sovereignty of a state's internal judicial process.  You violate a law of the state, the state has jurisdiction over you.  The feds can't intervene UNLESS there is some constitutional violation, in which case the feds can overturn state convictions.  That's the general rule.

This case presents a rare exception where international law may apply.  Things get tricky once you start talking about conventions and treaties and whatnot.

"While a treaty may constitute an international commitment, it is not binding domestic law unless Congress has enacted statutes implementing it."
And in this case, Congress has not implemented any statutes implementing the Vienna Convention.  In fact, in 2005 the U.S. opted out of the convention's international court provision that would have allowed the international court to decide whether or not a Mexican like the guy in this case should be able to overturn his conviction by Texas state law. So is the US a party to this treaty?  Yes.  Is it binding on the States? No, thanks to the SCOTUS.

However, even if it isn't LEGALLY binding on the states, Texas should realize there is an internationally political aspect here that is bigger than the wishes of one state to execute one person.   If we execute this guy, as much as he may deserve to be executed, then we are basically giving other countries the green light to disregard our rights to consult with our embassies overseas whenever we get in trouble. 
Texas needs to be a team player here, but somehow I doubt they will.

The Fed stated:

This is where I DISAGREE with the SCOTUS... State law is NOT Supreme law in this country! HOWEVER, along with the constitution, treaties and international agreements are.  This isn't an issue of State's Rights vs Fed's Rights.  States HAVE NO RIGHTS on this issue.  They should stop trying to force their make believe rights. The US signed an agreement that said XYZ.  PERIOD.  As a result, Texas can't decide it doesn't want to follow that law. What good are treaties if states don't have to follow?

Is this impending execution problematic? If so, why?
Should Congress pass a law preventing state executions where there's a conflict with a treaty?
Is an execution that takes place 17 yrs after the crime any sort of deterrent?
Should the Administration seek other ways to pressure Texas absent a bill from Congress?