Archive for the ‘Immigration’ tag
It’s not a good sign for the future of your party when the GOP’s “Hispanic outreach director” has had enough of his own party’s dim view of immigrants and immigration. A little more than a year ago, Pablo Pantoja was tabbed as the guy to reach out to Hispanic voters on behalf of the Republican Party.
Pantoja is not just calling it quits on the job, but on the party. He announced this week that he was switching parties, writing in an email:
Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others.
Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Studies geared towards making – human beings – viewed as less because of their immigrant status to outright unacceptable claims, are at the center of the immigration debate. Without going too deep on everything surrounding immigration today, the more resounding example this past week was reported by several media outlets.
A researcher included as part of a past dissertation his theory that “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ.” The researcher reinforces these views by saying “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.” (Here is some more information on what Pantoja was referencing).
Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions, other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo. Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten.
The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. …
Of course, this switch should not surprise anyone within the GOP; if it does they are even more out of touch than I thought. The party has been anti-immigrant and in some ways, anti-color, for so long now that attempts by Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and others to send the message that the GOP is now more Hispanic friendly probably falls on deaf ears at this point. Much too little and much too late.
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.
When Evangelicals, who stake their lives on a cobbled together, archaic book that is obsessed with violence, war, slavery and blood sacrifice, are calling you out of touch, you know you’ve got a political crisis on your hands:
Some of the nation’s most influential evangelical groups urged a solution to illegal immigration on Tuesday that defies the harsh rhetoric of the Republican primary race, which continues to undermine Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanic voters.
The call by the groups represents a recognition that in one bedrock element of the conservative movement — evangelical Christians — the demography of their followers is changing, becoming more Hispanic, and that Republican leaders risk being out of step with their hawkish talk of border fences and immigration crackdowns like those in Arizona.
Tom Minnery, the senior vice president of policy for one evangelical group, Focus on the Family, said many of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants should be free to “come out of the shadows” and “begin the process of restitution” leading to attaining legal residency.
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.
In a news item related to the previous post, two Texas city mayors have presented differing opinions on a proposal to bring war equipment from concluded Middle Eastern operations to the border.
The Send Equipment for National Defense Act (creative title, huh?) says that 10 percent of certain equipment, from Humvees to night vision equipment, be sent to the border with Mexico for border enforcement. The mayors from El Paso and Laredo apparently are not of the same mind on the plan. As per this Texas Tribune article:
The proposal has drawn criticism from Mayor John Cook of El Paso, who has vigorously disputed assertions that his city, which sits across the border from Ciudad Juárez, is affected by the same violence that has plagued northern Mexico.
“I would invite them to come to El Paso, and we can look at the inventory of equipment that’s coming back from Iraq and they can tell me where they’d want to locate this,” Mr. Cook said. “To me, it’s just showing a whole lot of ignorance.”
The mayor said moving war zone equipment to the border would send the wrong signal to Mexico and potentially damage the robust symbiotic economic relationship between the two countries. El Paso and Ciudad Juárez trade more than $70 billion annually, Mr. Cook said.
But Mayor Raul Salinas of Laredo, which has the nation’s largest inland port, said he welcomed the equipment and did not view it as an unnecessary militarization of the border.
“I would welcome any resources and equipment that would help us to be more vigilant along the border,” Mr. Salinas said. “And if it’s equipment that would provide support, I would welcome it with open arms.”
Mr. Salinas has also had to fend off accusations that his city is as violent as its Mexican counterpart, Nuevo Laredo. In fact, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that El Paso and Laredo are among the safest cities of their respective sizes in the country.
I don’t really read the paper’s website on a regular basis, and while I know The Washington Times editorial board — and the newspaper in general — has a rightist bent, it has apparently jumped on the bandwagon like much of the anti-immigration crowd, recently calling Obama’s leadership, particularly on immigration, a throwback to “19th century Marxism:”
Far from progressive, Mr. Obama’s leadership is a throwback to 19th century Marxism, characterized by the politics of resentment that pits groups against each other – in this case, illegal occupiers against legal Americans. By challenging states attempting to observe immigration laws, the Obama administration hastens the fundamental change that is unmooring the nation from its founding principles. That’s not the change voters wanted when they sent Barack to the White House.
The editorial also had this to say about Obama’s stance on immigration:
This isn’t your father’s America. As promised, President Obama is “fundamentally transforming” the nation with a plan to flood the United States with individuals whose hearts belong to other lands.
First, I missed the connection of Marxism to immigration. If the GOP wasn’t so wild-eyed against immigration — in which many immigrants attempt to get into the nation to provide for their families back home — the Republican Party would probably garner more support from the Hispanic vote. After all, on almost every other issue that matters, Hispanics are actually rather conservative. They enjoy their luxuries (the ones who are lucky enough to “make it,” anyway), and they are, nearly without exception, quite religious. They would certainly, again if the GOP wasn’t so out of touch on the immigration issue, vote for conservative candidates en masse. So, this issue is not about some Marxist class struggle. That would be what we call hyperbole, and it makes The Washington Times editorial board scantly different than any of the other crazed commentators on radio or FOX News who will say anything at all to get Obama out of office. I will admit this much: it takes balls to so vehemently and falsely criticize the policies of the first African American president in American history and at the same time, insult millions of Hispanics, some of whom risk their lives, and the lives of their families, to get here. Do their hearts really belong to other lands? I don’t think so. Their hearts belong to this land, and they prove it in the desert every day. The Times board must have also forgotten that Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in 1986. Ah, but I forget: that was at a time when Democrats and Republicans actually worked together to get things accomplished. Those were the days.
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.
Here in Northeast Georgia, plenty of day laborers make their living out in the fields in one of numerous plots of cultivated land, the fruits and vegetables of which support local produce stands in the county. I’ve seen them working the fields, men and women alike, the smarter ones of which wear large-brimmed hats and towels around their necks to prevent severe sunburn and/or skin damage. They make significantly below minimum wage and get paid a certain figure for each bucket picked. That, it seems to me, is a generous system. In other parts of the nation, I would be willing to bet that migrant laborers don’t receive minimum wage (especially if the farm hires illegals) and don’t get the bonus for picking X number of buckets.
Stephen Colbert recently spent a day as a migrant laborer and subsequently testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship & Border Security on the invitation of House Democrat and committee chairwoman Zoe Lofgren. Consequently, prior to the five minute message (Which was much longer than his officially submitted address), Colbert was asked by Rep. John Conyers to “remove himself” from the proceedings, saying “You run your show, we run the committee.”
Colbert then deferred to Lofgren, who confirmed that he could stay and deliver his short message. Here is the video:
In the video, as you will see, Colbert, and in characteristic irreverence, mocked Congress by, first, by saying, in character about the proposed agricultural jobs bill,
I’m not in favor of the government doing anything, but I’ve got to wonder, why isn’t the government doing anything?
Maybe this Ag jobs bill will help. I don’t know. Like most members of Congress, I haven’t read it.
Taking a more serious tone toward the end of the address, he said,
But maybe we could offer more visas to the immigrants, who, let’s face it will probably be doing these jobs anyway, and this improved legal status might allow immigrants recourse if they’re abused, and it just stands to reason to me, that if you’re co-workers can’t be exploited, then you’re less likely to be exploited yourself and that itself might improve paying working conditions on these farms and eventually Americans may consider taking these jobs again … Or maybe that’s crazy. Maybe the easier answer is just to have scientists develop vegetables that pick themselves. … The point is, we have to do something because I am not going back out there.
But the most memorable moment came after the speech during a question-answer portion, in which Rep. Judy Chu from California asked this question:
Mr. Colbert, you could work on so many issues. Why are you interested in this issue?
And, after taking a moment to think, he broke character and said this:
I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come in and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet, we still ask them to come here, and at the same time, ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me, and um… You know, “whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers,” and these seemed like the least of my brothers, right now. A lot of people are “least brothers” right now, with the economy so hard, and I don’t want to take anyone’s hardship away from them or diminish it or anything like that. But migrant workers suffer, and have no rights.
Here’s the video:
France, under the directive of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, began expelling hundreds of Roma this summer, claiming that they were in the country illegally, and today, thousands have come out in protest of the government’s new policies, the immigration issue being just one of them. Another contentious issue is Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and to cut spending.
According to this Reuters article,
Critics see expulsions of Roma gypsies as part of a drive by Sarkozy to revive his popularity before 2012 elections and divert attention from painful pension reforms and spending cuts.((1))
… As if to say to his fellow countrymen: “Sorry about the economic measures I’m taking. Here, let’s expel some immigrants to make up for them.” This tactic doesn’t seem to be working terribly well.
As it happens, although Romania experienced a period of economic growth between 2003-08, the economic recession did not miss that nation either, and beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008, economic activity decreased significantly. Here’s a summary from World Bank.((2))
As their native country continues to struggle from economic stagnation, Roma are scattered throughout portions of Western and Eastern Europe, as the map to the right shows.
We can, I think, point to various similarities between the dilemma of Romanian emigration across Europe with that of Mexicans and others Latinos seeking to come to the U.S.
An ingrained underclass, Roma are the victims of prejudice, often violent, at home in eastern Europe. Thousands have migrated westward to seek a better life, particularly as the expansion of the European Union has allowed them to take advantage of freedom-of-movement rules. Yet although conditions may be better in the west, the reception has rarely been friendly and politicians like President Sarkozy have ruthlessly exploited hostility towards the newcomers.((3))
This “exploitation” of newcomers we know all too well here in American. From the near 400-year struggle of blacks to integrate as free people in America, to the denigration, and in some cases, dehumanization of Irish immigrants in the 19th century, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the denial of citizenship to Chinese residents already living in America at the time, our history is rife with a near ubiquitous hostility toward newcomers.
Second, as an astute reader of The Daily Beast wrote, Roma exodus across Europe is most likely economically driven, not cultural, for it makes little sense to claim that Roma or Hispanics or any other immigrant would prefer another culture to their own. Immigration is almost always driven by a) economics or b) oppression or nearly unlivable conditions in the homeland. This applies to European immigrants as well as those who seek to come to America from Mexico or elsewhere.
Whipmawhopma had this to say in response to The Beast article on Roma immigration:
I am under the impression that generally speaking most (worldwide) are economic immigrants rather than cultural ones, and bring their own culture and keep it, while making some adaptations. Many only stay for a while and then once they have made enough of a fortune (relatively speaking) they then go home. Many like the hybrid cultural they live in and stay. Some adopt the local culture. Some hate the local culture – meaning how they are treated – so much that they set fire to cars and make much riot if they happen to be in France.
Last week’s The Economist had an article on this. President Nicolas Sarkozy is very unpopular and he’s playing the anti-immigrant card to make himself less unpopular, which isn’t really going to work since the real uproar is about the mild austerity program he’s attempting to put in place.
Third, and perhaps most profound, immigrants, by and large, will do whatever it takes to attempt to escape the economic trappings of their homelands, if it means a better life for their families and their progeny.
Here’s how The Economist article sums up the issue Roma dilemma:
Europeans would be swift to condemn the plight of the Roma were they in any other part of the world. However, eastern European governments are unlikely suddenly to tackle a problem that dates back centuries just because Brussels tells them to. Perhaps self-interest may prove a more powerful motivator. Roma families are far larger than those of the mainstream population: the pool of deprivation is only going to grow. In addition, a recent World Bank study estimates the annual cost of the failure to integrate Roma in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and the Czech Republic at €5.7 billion ($7.3 billion). As the report notes: “Bridging the education gap is the economically smart choice.” If humanitarian arguments fail to carry the day, perhaps economics and demographics might.