Category Archives: Immigration

Illegal Immigration And The Way Forward

With the latest revelation that a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, has come out as an illegal alien and John McCain’s latest stupidity, the issue of illegal immigration has popped back up. More and more states are joining the lead of Arizona and Alabama and are trying to take the immigration issue into their own hands in violation of the Constitution. The immigration issue is not one that is going to go away on its own and fair minded people on all sides need to sit down and come up with a solution.

First of all, most people who are clamoring for new immigration restrictions and harsh measures to deal with illegal immigrants are not racists. Most of them are motivated by genuine concerns about the rule of law and by misinformed concerns about the economy and national security. Demonizing immigration restrictionists will not advance the issue, but instead we should be trying to persuade them (and many can be persuaded once you actually talk to them).

Having said that, while I generally am for as open of a border as possible, I do believe that we do need to have some common sense immigration restrictions. We do need some border controls to keep out criminals, terrorists, and those with infectious diseases. We also need to do deal with the millions of illegal immigrants and their children that are already here. Finally, we need to have a path for those who want to come to America to work to do so legally.

Here’s my modest proposal, most of which has already been proposed.

To help people come here easier:

1) Create a new work visa program that can allow temporary, unskilled workers to come to the US to work on farms and other jobs “Americans won’t do”. Require the employers to pay for the visas and require everyone that chooses to take advantage of the visa opportunity to submit to background checks and health screenings before entering the US. Let them come for a limited time and let them leave if they choose to do so. If they stay, they can be allowed to convert their temporary visa into a green card, if they choose to do so. However, if they overstay their visa, harsh penalties should result.

2) Increase the quotas for legal immigration tenfold. Part of the problem with our immigration system is the long wait times for legal immigration. With wait times as long as 10 years in some categories, no wonder why people immigrate to the US illegally.

Enforcement:

1) I’m opposed to E-verify which is a stealth national ID. I’m also opposed to checking immigration status during traffic stops, however I don’t have a problem with it once someone has been arrested. I’m generally opposed to workplace enforcement and employer crackdowns.

2) Border fences and walls, both physical and electronic, won’t work. The only thing that will stop illegal border crossings are more border patrol agents. I’m not opposed to using the National Guard until the border patrol can be built up.

3) The focus of internal enforcement needs to be those who overstay their visas, like the 9/11 hijackers who overstayed tourism and student visas; not the guys picking onions and working at meat packing plants.

Those who are already here:

1) I have no interest in deporting or even punishing people like Jose Vargas who came here illegally as children. They had no choice in the matter. I’m also opposed to repealing birthright citizenship. Americans do not punish children for the misdeeds of their parents. This group of illegal immigrants need a path to citizenship.

2) Those who have crossed the border illegally as adults and are working and contributing to society and following the law should have a path to legalization. They should have the opportunity to come out in the open for a limited time, pay a fine, and have a limited, temporary visa to work and live in the US. Once that visa has expired, they must leave the US and apply for a new guest worker visa in their home country. I have no problem with this group eventually becoming permanent residents and citizens, but it must be done in an orderly fashion. Also, I’m not opposed with waiving fines and the requirement of leaving country if the illegal immigrant decides to service in the US armed forces with the reward being a green card once they leave the service.

3) Those who violated non-immigration related laws and overstayed visas should be deported immediately once their prison sentences have been served.

4) Obviously, illegal immigrants should be denied all welfare services except for education and emergency medical care. Nor should be eligible for perks such as in state tuition for college.

States who try to enact their own immigration restrictions:

1) Once an immigration reform law has been enacted, the Federal government should deny all law enforcement, homeland security, and transportation funding to states and cities who try to enact their own restrictions or prevent the enforcement of immigration laws. The Constitution gives the Federal government the sole power to enact immigration law, not the states.

This is my modest attempt at getting a conversation going on illegal immigration without the demagogic screaming that usually accompanies this issue on both sides. This is an attempt to solve this issue in a humane way that respects the rule of law.

I welcome your comments and suggestions below.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Failbook: Facebook Bans Anti-Prohibition Group

It’s beginning to be really easy to hate Facebook. While Google has stuck to its libertarian principles of free exchange of information by not cooperating with Chinese censorship, Facebook has become more and more creepy:

The people behind the “Just Say Now” marijuana legalization campaign (oft-Boinged Salon contributor Glenn Greenwald is one of many political thinkers on their board) want Facebook to back off its decision to pull their ads from the social networking service.

This is what Facebook’s PR says:

It would be fine to note that you were informed by Facebook that the image in question was no long acceptable for use in Facebook ads. The image of a pot leaf is classified with all smoking products and therefore is not acceptable under our policies. Let me know if you need anything further.

One key indicator that you are dealing with unapologetic authoritarians is when you’re being harshly reprimanded for violating regulations and rules that are unpredictable, undefinable and more than likely not even known by the person touting them. That appears to be the case with Facebook’s policies:

But the group points out that Facebook’s ad policy doesn’t ban “smoking products,” just “tobacco products.” Also, Facebook does permit alcohol ads, even ads featuring images of alcohol products and packaging, though alcohol ads that make alcohol consumption “fashionable,” “promote intoxication” or that “encourage excessive consumption” are banned. Just Say Now calls Facebook’s action censorship.

Perhaps Facebook goes by the old Jack Webb Dragnet school that pot consists of “marijuana cigarettes.”

There’s alot of faux outrage out there, as the Cordoba Crowds in NYC have shown us. Given the extensive cost to normal livelihoods by the continued prison construction and law enforcement funding required by prohibition, Facebook does deserve to be boycotted for trying to silence a group like Just Say Now.

Just Say Now’s Jane Hamsher, founder of Firedoglake.com, is also on the side of liberty in her fight against punitive immigration laws. Check out an appearance she did that I posted at my website Voice of the Migrant. She’s also a cancer survivor and all around political superhero. Give her support and take it away from Facebook.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Sugar Tariffs

I wanted to link over to a recent article I wrote at the blog Voice of the Migrant, where I talk about the distinguishable products and services that America’s Hispanic immigrants bring to our society:

In a New Yorker article from 2006, James Surowiecki explores how sugar producers in the United States lobbying for “special favors” has resulted in the blocking out of competition and the subsequent degeneration of sugar-laden products:

But American sugar producers aren’t satisfied with supplying the most sweet-hungry population in the world. They’ve relentlessly sought—and received—special favors from the federal government, turning the industry into one of the most cosseted in America today. The government guarantees producers a fixed price for domestic sugar and sets strict quotas and tariffs for foreign sugar. Economically speaking, this has many obvious bad results. It keeps sugar prices in the U.S. at least twice as high as the world average. It makes it harder for companies that use lots of sugar to do business here—in the past decade, an exodus of candy manufacturers from the U.S. has eliminated thousands of jobs. And import restrictions make Third World countries poorer than they’d otherwise be.

The artificially high price of sugar has resulted in the adoption of high fructose corn syrup as a replacement. High fructose corn syrup is rife with many dangers which are not in cane sugar, including high levels of mercury:

In my previous blogs I discuss the findings that there is mercury in a percentage of the hfcs that inhabits so many of our foods and drinks. This is caused from the mercury grade caustic soda that is used in the processing, leaching mercury into the finished product.

Since the introduction of high fructose corn syrup in the 1970s, obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed dramatically. Sugar cane, which is used in Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Mexico and in high-end American sodas such as Jone’s Soda, contains several naturally occurring health benefits.

Magnesium, calcium and riboflavin can all be found within cane sugar. While soda is not meant to be a “healthy” beverage, ingestion of a naturally sweetened carbonated concoction is nevertheless a much better route to go than the watered down corn syrup that is found in American drug stores.

Apart from Jones and other high end sodas, one of the best places to get cane sugar sodas is at your local taco truck. Fortunately for Californians especially, these amazing testaments to the entrepreneurial spirit can be found throughout working class neighborhoods. At the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland, there are two taco trucks nearby, with vendors recently opening up in the small shopping center next to the station.

Point: “State’s Rights” A Misnomer

This is a post in our continuing “Point/Counterpoint” series, where TLP contributors and/or guest posters debate a topic. In this installment, Michael Powell argues against the existence of “states’ rights”. Tomorrow, Brad Warbiany will defend states’ rights, and his post can now be found here.

During the twentieth century, there were several confrontations between federal authorities and those proclaiming “state’s rights.” The most notable were those of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, in 1967, who called on his state’s National Guard to block several African American youths from attending high school and Alabama Governor George Wallace, who literally stood in the way of troops sent by the Kennedy Administration to escort students Vivian Malone and James Hood (both instances being unforgivable offenses in the Deep South) in 1963. The state was blatantly violating not only individual rights of its citizens but also the legal authority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the executive branch.

The “right” for the state to discriminate against the individual in defiance of federal law (and human decency, which is another matter and not a concept that is very popular in Alabama or other deep southern states) was precisely what George Wallace cited explicitly in his speech at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963:

The unwelcomed, unwanted, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus of the University of Alabama today of the might of the Central Government offers frightful example of the oppression of the rights, privileges and sovereignty of this State by officers of the Federal Government. This intrusion results solely from force, or threat of force, undignified by any reasonable application of the principle of law, reason and justice. It is important that the people of this State and nation understand that this action is in violation of rights reserved to the State by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alabama. While some few may applaud these acts, millions of Americans will gaze in sorrow upon the situation existing at this great institution of learning.

Personally, I would not cry crocodile tears if the South had been let go during the Civil War. My ancestors fought in the Confederate Army but my personal life has been filled with people of color. The South has not simply been racist; it has been the closest region in the Western World to pre-industrial feudalism. Its ugly history of public executions, terrorism, exclusion from employment and education of massive portions of the population (including not just people of color but poor whites, women and those who stood against the Southern Christian traditionalist grain), intellectual rejection, ethno-nationalism, proud ignorance and aggressive religiosity is more reflective of the worst regimes in the Middle East than the enlightened industrial democracies of Western Europe, North America and Asia. Just as is the case with the Middle East, the rich natural resources of the South have been the primary reason for keeping the impoverished backwater area in the sphere of the United States.

If it hadn’t been for slavery, racism and the South, the “state’s rights” argument may have more standing validity. Unfortunately, for those who bring back its spectre it brings to mind Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation and war. Just as the swastika, which actually has a relevance to Buddhist philosophy, has been defiled by the actions of German National Socialism, “state’s rights” has been defiled by the actions of Southern political actors.

For issues in which “state’s rights” would be a logical defense, especially regarding marijuana, where states like California seek to protect the individual rights of drug users in defiance of prohibitionist federal intervention, I have to beg the question: Why is it an issue of state governance and not simply the right of the individual to do as he wishes?

This isn’t simply a historical, theoretical argument either. States are still today violating individual rights, with the federal government acting as an intervening force of justice. Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, which effectively legislated racial profiling and declared war on undocumented workers who are critical to the American economy, is being set upon by the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

I have worked in Latin American foreign policy, so I would like to add that, while I stand in firm opposition to SB 1070, I understand completely why it was implemented. We are in really bad economic shape, as I surely don’t have to inform anyone here. That is exacerbated by the perception by people that don’t understand economics that Hispanic immigrants are “stealing” their jobs and the horrendous mob violence that has been implemented on the border by drug cartels. I reject Kantian ethics that proclaim motivations to paramount to results, however, and a mob of fearful people hardly ever makes the right decision. In American history, “state’s rights” has been a flag that has often been waved by populist demagogues while “individual rights” has been waved by judges and executives with a better grasp of the law. “State’s rights” is a misnomer which is usually used to defend defiance of settled law. It doesn’t deserve or necessitate revival in our political discourse.

Comment Of The Day

This is actually a comment at Hit & Run, but I hadn’t seen this juxtaposition before.

The other thing I always find hilarious is how so many anti-immigration Republicans are so anti-union, when they use the same arguments against immigrants that unions use against non-union workers.

In both cases, the impetus is the same: “I’ve already got mine, and everyone else can go screw.”

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