Archive for the ‘illegal immigration’ tag
In December 2006, Christopher Hitchens wrote a column with the above headline in quotes, which included a sub-headline reading, “The pernicious effects of banning words.” He went on to describe a short-lived interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, in which he explained the evolution of the word “stupid” as it relates to politics, noting that John Stuart Mill once referred to the Tories as “generally stupid.” I couldn’t locate a reference to a quote from Mill that actually used these three words in this sequence — ”the stupid party” — so I’m not sure if Hitchens was paraphrasing or referring to an actual quote in some dusty volume.
In any case, the moniker apparently stuck, since eventually, the Tories actually began referring to their party in this way. The late Hitchens has proven himself prophetic beyond his years in this regard since in November 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal challenged the prevailing anti-intellectualism that had run amok in his own party:
“… Stop being the stupid party. … It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that. It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.
Near the end of his explanation on MSNBC, Hitchens sucked the air right out of the room when he dared suggest that the word “stupid” may have taken a similar evolutionary journey as other words like “nigger” and “queer,” “and I might have added faggot,” Hitchens informs us in parenthesis. For this insult to the sensibilities of the MSNBC staff, he was quickly hurried off camera and told that the interview was “extremely over.” Taking the case of the former word, he said that while white people have not been afforded the ability to use the word, “nigger,” in any context whatever, however benign, and must always defer to the cowardly N-word, black folks have turned the discriminatory and racist undertones of the word on its head:
If white people call black people niggers, they are doing their very best to hurt and insult them, as well as to remind them that their ancestors used to be property. If black people use the word, they are either uttering an obscenity or trying to detoxify a word and rob it of its power to wound them. Not quite the same thing.
Note the distinction that Hitchens makes in this essay between white people calling blacks derogatory names with the intent to harm versus using “nigger,” “queer” or “faggot” in an explanatory or historical context that I am doing right now.
This brings me to more recent news in which the Associated Press has announced that it will no longer use the words “illegal immigrant” to describe — clears throat — illegal immigrants, and it has for years advised journalists to avoid the borderline derogatory labels “illegals” and “aliens.” This step by the AP is one of numerous ways that it suggests people shy away from labels and focus more on behavior. Presumably, we must now refer to undocumented immigrants by the laborious “people who are living in a country illegally.”
Howard Kurtz today on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” called the change “a bit too politically correct.” I have to agree. While I have and do avoid “illegals” or “aliens” because of their derogatory connotations, banning “illegal immigrant” seems like splitting hairs to me, and while words that journalists use to describe immigrants carry nowhere near the malignant baggage of “spik,” “gook, or “nigger” or any other words racists have embraced to disparage our fellow human beings, AP’s change represents the latest example — add censorship on radio and TV to the mix — of language’s power over us rather than the other way around.
President Obama earlier today issued an executive order that would keep some younger illegal immigrants from being deported for two years as long as they meet certain requirements, which include having no criminal record and are either students or have served in the military. In any case, Republicans are calling this a political move designed by the Obama administration to curry favor with Hispanic constituents, and CNN analyzed the issue from that point of view this afternoon.
Of course, for members of the GOP to cry foul about the executive order is a bit disingenuous since more illegals were removed from the country last year — 396,906 — than in any other time in the history of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Obama administration has found more humane ways to tackle the problem than simply wrenching family members away from each other at work, as was the case many times under George W. Bush:
Employers say the audits reach more companies than the work-site roundups of the administration of President George W. Bush. The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll— not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid — and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements. Auditing is “a far more effective enforcement tool,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, which includes many worried fruit growers. — “Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in ‘Silent Raids“
Republicans have also called the order unconstitutional and a means to skirt congressional power. That argument also falls flat because the executive precedent offers many examples in which the president, for better or worse, has asserted his power to get things done in the face of a do-nothing House and Senate, which in Obama’s case includes almost the entire Republican Party. Since he got elected, they have cock-blocked nearly everything that he has tried to do to move the country out of the dark ages, including the stimulus and the health care bill. And as stupefying as it will be if it happens, Romney has said he will move to repeal the health care reform bill on day one in office. This from a guy who oversaw a similar plan in Massachusetts.
I don’t think anyone can make a case that Obama hasn’t been tough on immigration, nor that he issued the order just to get votes from the Hispanic community. He may have issued the order in part to get some votes, but certainly not exclusively since the order isn’t going to win him friends in some circles.
To that end, Sen. Dick Durbin was on point when he said:
… there will be those who vote against him because of this decision, too. That’s what leadership is about.
I don’t favor wholesale amnesty across the board. But the simple fact is that those that are here and working or going to school are not going to leave just because it’s illegal for them to be here. Conditions in Mexico are such that it is worth the risk to continue to live in America. They are, for all intent and purposes, just as much a part of American society as legal residents, and if they are working or going to school and not engaging in criminal activity, they are contributing positively to society. In essence, being an “illegal” amounts to a non-violent federal crime. It’s not akin to treason or any other high crime. Actually, it could be viewed as patriotic since immigrants are certainly not coming here because they hate America or want to cause trouble. They love the idea that America represents to them. On this issue, as on others like health care, the Republican point of view comes off as cold, callous and woefully out of touch.
My home state, Georgia, falling in lockstep with Arizona and other states that have attempted to take a cavalier approach to the immigration delimma, recently passed its own law, and Gov. Nathan Deal subsequently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he intends to sign the bill into law.
Proponents of the bill, which allows local and state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of suspects, say the passage is a triumph in light of the federal government’s inadequate enforcement measures, while opponents claim the bill will put more burden on local businesses and will result in racial profiling.
Rep. Matt Ramsey, the Georgia House bill sponsor, had this to say after the bill’s passage:
It’s a great day for Georgia. We think we have done our job that our constituents asked us to do to address the costs and the social consequences that have been visited upon our state by the federal government’s failure to secure our nation’s borders.
The legislation would also require businesses of more than 10 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the status of hired employees.
Jann Moore, with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, said the plan would put undue pressure on businesses amid a still-struggling economic climate:
We’re coming out of [a] recession, and businesses are doing all they can do right now to stay afloat. To turn around and put the responsibility of another policy on business is the wrong thing to do. The timing could not be worse.
Parts of Arizona’s law have been put on hold because of federal challenges of constitutionality. Georgia’s version, which resembles Arizona’s Senate Bill, is one of a handful of state immigration laws that have passed nationwide. It could suffer the fate of Arizona’s since the constitution, opponent say, suggests that the federal government alone confers citizenship.
According to the 14th Amendment, Section 1, Clause 1:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
The key words here are “jurisdiction thereof.” Two relevent definitions of “jurisdiction” follow:
- the right, power, or authority to administer justice byhearing and determining controversies.
- power; authority; control: He has jurisdiction over allAmerican soldiers in the area.
The above clause does not say, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and the individual states, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” but that jurisdiction belongs to the United States as a whole, and while individual concerns about immigration are understood, states’ attempts to skirt federal law may present a dangerous precedent, not only because of the possibility of racial profiling by law enforcement officials, but because this could result in a hodgepodge of immigration laws across the nation.
Columnist Tom Crawford, with the Georgia Report, said that even if Deal signs the bill, the buck would stop there:
The U.S. Justice Department will challenge the law in federal court and have it set aside – just as they did with the Arizona law. That’s why all this talk about solving the immigration problem at the state level is a sham. This is the federal government’s problem and the blame for not resolving it must fall on the people elected to Congress.
In Georgia’s case, that would be Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss. Both have taken a hard-line approach on the issue of immigration, and both voted “nay” to a reform bill in 2007. Chambliss’ record. Isakson’s record.
In addition to the legal questions of Georgia’s bill, implicit in the discussion is the perceived damage such legislation might do to the economy, which in Georgia is largely agricultural. Local growers have said they are worried that if the immigration bill actually goes into effect, many members of their current workforce will jump ship and local farms won’t have enough labor to pick crops and tend the fields. Outside of the Atlanta metro, the economic impact could be detrimental.
In the article, he addresses various business groups, who raise obvious concerns about how the bill would add extra burdens to them if enacted. Here is “Deal Real” himself:
I understand their concerns. I would hope that they would channel those concerns to the level of government that can do something about it, which is the federal government.
The level of government that can do something about it?
Then why the heck is Georgia passing its own immigration bill if the federal government is the level of government that can do something about it? Is he admitting the federal government should be in control of this issue? If so, he is right. If not, his state, like Arizona, most likely has a huge legal battle ahead of it.
Only one of two options is possible: either he has unknowingly confessed that Georgia has entirely overstepped its bounds on the illegal immigration issue and that it was a federal concern all along or he, and everyone who voted in favor of the Georgia immigration bill, has the IQ of an adorable panda bear. Judge for yourself.
Bad news for the Jan Brewer, anti-immigrant crowd comes today from Time with this report, which finds that four cities in border states with populations under 500,000 people are actually among the safest in the nation. The cities are Phoenix, San Diego, El Paso and Austin. Here’s an excerpt from the Time article:
“The border is safer now than it’s ever been,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling told the Associated Press last month. Even Larry Dever, the sheriff of Arizona’s Cochise County, where the murder last March of a local rancher, believed to have been committed by an illegal immigrant, sparked calls for the law, conceded to the Arizona Republic recently that “we’re not seeing the [violent crime] that’s going on on the other side.”(See photos of the Great Wall of America.)
Consider Arizona itself — whose illegal-immigrant population is believed to be second only to California’s. The state’s overall crime rate dropped 12% last year; between 2004 and 2008 it plunged 23%. In the metro area of its largest city, Phoenix, violent crime — encompassing murder, rape, assault and robbery — fell by a third during the past decade and by 17% last year. The border city of Nogales, an area rife with illegal immigration and drug trafficking, hasn’t logged a single murder in the past two years.
This, of course, flies in the face of Brewer’s previous statement, which was supposed to prove the necessity for Arizona’s immigration bill, that the state was wrought with “bodies in the desert.” As I noted yesterday, there are indeed bodies in the desert, but they are the immigrants themselves.
Most interesting, perhaps, is El Paso, Texas:
Its cross-border Mexican sister city, Ciudad Juárez, suffered almost 2,700 murders last year, most of them drug-related, making it possibly the world’s most violent town. But El Paso, a stone’s throw across the Rio Grande, had just one murder. A big reason, say U.S. law-enforcement officials, is that the Mexican drug cartels’ bloody turf wars generally end at the border and don’t follow the drugs into the U.S. Another, says El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, is that “the Mexican cartels know that if they try to commit that kind of violence here, they’ll get shut down.”
So, the Obama administration and the feds are just welcoming the looting and pillaging that illegal immigration is apparently bringing to our cities, huh? Sure. Listen to Limbaugh, Boortz and the gang, and it’s as if terrorists were invading, or worse, aliens … as in Martians.
In a piece titled, “Arizona’s Real Immigration Problem: Migrant Deaths,” by Byran Curtis adds commentary to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s recently spewed line about how “immigrant crime, drug cartels, ‘bodies in the desert (Brewer’s quote)’ have necessitated that state policemen badger anyone they think looks like an illegal immigrant to hand over their papers, which are supposed to be, according to the new bill, literally on the suspect in question’s actual person. Like in his or her back pocket. Or under his sombrero. We can concoct any number of ridiculous scenarios.
Below is a story of an illegal who actually didn’t make it far enough in the desert to see this dehumanizing bill come to full fruition. As it turns out, the desert is dehumanizing enough, as much or more so than any nonsense Brewer and her allies can hatch from plush government offices:
Diego Gutierrez, a 25-year-old man Mexican man, illegally crossed the border into Arizona sometime around last Friday. Gutierrez was handsome and well built, with big eyes and a head of thick, black hair. In a photo taken by a Pima County medical examiner, he appeared to have a Roman nose. After trudging through the desert on days when temperatures at a nearby airfield reached 106 degrees, Gutierrez began to complain of stomach cramps. He vomited. Gutierrez’s father, who had crossed the border with him, left his son and flagged down a Border Patrol officer. The officer later reported that he and the father found Gutierrez’s body in the wee hours of Monday morning, July 26. Gutierrez was lying on his back under a tree; his head, fittingly enough, was pointed north.
This is not at all surprising to me. This happens every day along parts of the border, and from talking with local Hispanics in the area, it’s been happening for years. A local restaurant owner with whom I speak with from time to time is the living embodiment of the American dream. He crossed the border illegally about 20 years ago (an act that he says was extremely dangerous even then) to support his parents back home in a poor region of Mexico. He has been legal in the states for well more than 15 years, has kids in the local school system here, a wife and successful business in town.
Curtis puts the current immigrant deaths in the desert into perspective:
… authorities are finding many dead bodies in the Arizona desert these days, but they are not the victims of immigrant murderers. They are the immigrants themselves. What 1070 misses is that it’s far more dangerous to sneak into Arizona than it is to live here.
This month, there have been 58 dead migrants, including Diego Gutierrez, delivered to the medical examiner of Pima County, the large southern Arizona county that stretches from Tucson south to the border. One hundred and fifty-two dead border crossers have turned up in the office since January. To compare that number to much-fussed about immigrant crime statistics, 152 is more than the total number of people murdered in Phoenix, by anyone, in all of 2009.
On a related topic, Rush Limbaugh today on his radio program said the Obama administration, condescendingly calling it a “regime,” said Obama and Co. had no interest in enforcing the border.
But as I was listening to Limbaugh’s unending condescension, I couldn’t help but think that it doesn’t matter one wit about Obama administration’s stance on immigration. I’m quite sure Obama doesn’t support overt illegal immigration, but even if he did, it doesn’t matter. If Limbaugh or others don’t like the current administration’s policies, vote the man out. Just because folks might not agree with the current “regime” in power still doesn’t give Arizona or any other state the authority to circumvent federal law. That’s what elections are for. If people think the current crew is being soft on immigration (I don’t know how this conclusion could be reached since the Border Patrol operates every hour of every day along the border), another election will soon be forthcoming and someone else can be voted in. To bitch and moan about the current administration, which was democratically voted into office by a majority of the population, is childish at best, and plucking from sour grapes at worst.
As predicted, Arizona’s recently passed immigration was, indeed, deemed unconstitutional on some counts by federal judge, Susan Bolton, who in a preliminary injunction had this to say about the more controversial portions of the measure:
Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced. …
There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens. By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose (citing a previous Supreme Court case, a) “‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”
Yes: “only the federal government has the authority to impose.” This has been the issue, in my mind, all along, and unfortunately, the issue summons the tired, and at this point, almost anachronistic, debate on states’ rights that conservatives like Gov. Jan Brewer have attempted to resurrect, 19th-century-style, and feed off old, now buried, debates.
Brewer had this to say on the ruling, and here is The New York Times’ account:
“This fight is far from over,” said Ms. Brewer, whose lawyers had argued that Congress granted states the power to enforce immigration law particularly when, in their view, the federal government fell short. “In fact,” she added, “it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”
And Arizona senator Russell Pearce, a primary sponsor of his state’s bill, said:
The courts have made it clear states have the inherent power to enforce the laws of this country.
Let’s ignore the errancy of this argument for a second (federal jurisdiction does not equal state or county jurisdiction), the one problem here is simply that states don’t actually have the right to go willy-nilly into their own jurisprudence on the topic of naturalization and attempt to enforce federal laws when, in their leaders’ views, the feds aren’t doing their jobs. That’s a usurpation of federal law, and it’s as clear as the night sky. Once and for all, immigration and naturalization are federal concerns. That state officials are dissatisfied with the federal response to immigration is inconsequential and does not give states license, via our Constitution, to go it alone. Or else, we should remake or undo the United States as a collective.
Already, the ill-effects of Arizona’s new immigration bill can be seen, as a conference that has convened for 30 years between governors of states that border United States and Mexico is in jeopardy of not occurring at all or occurring in another venue either in Texas, New Mexico or California.
Today, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a staunch proponent of the Arizona bill, was sent a letter by the six Mexican governors across the border that in effect said they would not be attending the conference if it was held in Arizona. Consequently, Brewer was set to be the chairwoman and host of the conference this year, a position to which she received via rotation.
The Mexican governors proposed an alternate venue for the conference. Their letter said SB 1070
contains provisions based on ethnic and cultural prejudices, which are contrary to the fundamental rights of individuals, as set International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN American Convention on Human Rights of the OAS …
Governor Brewer doesn’t have the authority to cancel the Border Governors Conference. She may not want to host it for political reasons, but that’s not a reason to sidestep the tough issues that border governors must address, including migration and border violence. Governor Richardson will look for alternative sites to host the conference, with or without Arizona’s participation.
More clashes of this kind are imminent if the Justice Department’s legal challenge to Arizona’s bill fails, but I don’t think it will. The lawsuit against Arizona was filed today. More on that here.
Isn’t it convenient that in matters about the economy, fiscal restraint and pulling back the federal government’s power, Tea Party types pore over the Constitution looking for ways to pick apart their opponents bit-by-bit? But ah!, when it comes to folks of color, that’s another matter altogether. They then cut to the quick, ignore what the founding document actually says on the topic of immigration and throw off their own humanity.
The New York Times reported June 18 that the Obama administration would fight the recently passed Arizona immigration law, saying that it infringes on the Constitution, while proponents of the administration make the claim that Obama is attempting to infringe on state’s rights.
This issue is actually very simple according to the 14th Amendment:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
States don’t confer citizenship nor do they have the power to deport anyone. (When I read letters to the editor directed toward my newspaper or more national ones, I wince when I see a reader calling a resident of such-and-such state or county a “citizen” of that county or state. Counties and states have no authority on the matter of citizenship. It’s a literally meaningless exercise to use that word in a context other than on topics of naturalization.)
The Arizona bill makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally. But that’s redundant. It’s already a federal crime, and federal law takes precedence over state law according to the 14th amendment. True, the amendment says states can’t make any laws that “abridge” on the rights of citizens of the nation, but a semicolon later, and we find that
nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
Another semicolon later and we have:
nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Now, some type of case could probably be made as to whether “person” means citizen or just any person, but the amendment is unambiguous in indicating that the federal government alone confers citizenship and determines who comes and who stays. And even illegals deserve due process of law like anyone else. They are, after all, human beings with pulses and wives and husbands and sons and daughters with people back home who love them. Or have we forgotten that?
Today, in Michelle Malkin’s continued right-wing drivel, she alerted readers that “left-wing church leaders” want the FCC to “crack down on ‘hate speech’ over cable TV and right-leaning talk radio airwaves.”
First, let me say that the preface, “Lead story,” at the top of the Web site is classic and choice … as if one is about to read some hard-line news piece from The New York Times or The Los Angeles Times … as if she actually talked to people on the ground and did any reporting on her own. Does she even know what “lead story” means? In truth, for this post and all others, she cobbles links together and puts forth some argument like any other blogger. I’m not doing anything much different (although I would like to think I’m a little more even-handed), but to claim this is any sort of “story” a la, a piece of journalism, is laughable.
But continuing on. She said various religious organizations, along with the National Hispanic Media Coalition, have teamed up to compel the FCC via a petition (Malkin fails to link to it directly, but there it is) to launch efforts “for combating ‘hate speech’ from staunch critics of illegal immigration.” Think of this as an illegal immigration version of the Fairness Doctrine critique. Now, not only are conservatives, who, let’s admit it, own the talk radio airwaves, railing against attempts to make radio more “balanced” in its presentation of political positions, but honing in on certain specific issues to argue against such equalization. In her column with Creative Syndicate, she said,
Now, the gag-wielders have a friend in the White House (President Obama) – and they won’t let him forget it. Their FCC petition calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration critics (italics mine) cites Obama’s own words in a fall 2008 speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The first part of this is patently false, and I hope someone more widely published than myself calls her bluff on it. The FCC petition does not call for a crackdown on illegal immigration critics. The summary of the petition is clear:
The National Hispanic Media Coalition requests that the Commissin (FCC) invite public comment on hate speech in the media, inquire into the extent and nature of hate speech, examine the effects of hate speech, including the relationship between hate speech in the media and hate crimes, and explore options for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of such speech.
I’m all for freedom of the press, and networks have the right to air any crackpot talk show hosts or anchors they wish. In fact, members of the press, TV stations or newspapers have the right to be as biased as they want, though I personally think it’s a disgrace to the profession of journalism, and I discourage anyone from encouraging that sort of “news” venue.
But Malkin is wrong here to the nth degree. It’s about hate speech, not about debunking or overthrowing critics of illegal immigration. By their unlearned rhetoric, they pretty well debunk themselves without any effort from myself or others. What Malkin fails to note are any instances of alleged hate speech from members of the “media” (I would use that term loosely for some folks in question, including Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and others, who fall outside that category).
Case in point. Savage, as Malkin fails to bring to our attention, has made numerous incendiary comments toward immigrants, illegal or not. I would dub them as outright racist comments. Here’s a taste, from a May 10, 2006 taping, Savage said:
… [t]he immigrants, when they take over America, won’t be as enlightened as the (European) people running America today. There is a racial element to the ‘immigration invasion’ … We’re going to lose our nation unless one million people go to the border. …
And then on Oct. 13, we have this gem:
… these immigrants don’t have morals that are similar to those of Americans. They haven’t even gone through the Middle Ages. They’re never going to be compatible with America. They’re never going to assimilate.
Yep, and folks in the 18th and 19th centuries thought slaves could never assimilate either. They were ignorantly wrong there as well. I’m curious to know more about Savage’s comment that immigrants won’t be as enlightened as the European people currently running the country. I didn’t even know Europeans were running the country. Sure, some of European descent are members of state or federal bodies, but so are those of African and Latino descent. One is our president and another is a Supreme Court judge. And before Obama and Sotomayor, there were many other black and Hispanic leaders.
Had Malkin read to the end of the petition she references, she would find example after example of commentators in mainstream media and other outlets, railing, not just against illegal immigratants, but immigrants in general as well as blacks, “chinks,” etc. We can trace this immigrant hatred back to similar feelings leveled against Italians, the Irish and others. It’s a very predictable cycle.
Might I add: this post by Malkin, and her others comments, are very curious, as Malkin, born in America to parents who were citizens of the Phillippines, has, ironically, taken a position against the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, although she herself is a benefactor of that same amendment. Peculiar, indeed.