April 15, 2008

Immigration Debate is Only Part of It

Marc Comtois

There is no doubt that there are illegal immigrants taking advantage of taxpayer dollars here in Rhode Island. How many? We don't know. But we do know that, if we are to apply the same sort of zero-sum economics favored by our friends on the left, any benefits going to illegal immigrants are not going to hard-working, but down-on-their-luck Americans. That's why the labor/immigrant alliance strikes me as a strange one. Though perhaps it works because of the conflation between legal and illegal immigrants combined with fond memories of the good ol' days of organizing the oppressed minorities of the past. Not sure.

Yet, I think the polls bear out that most Americans recognize the distinction between illegal and legal and, more importantly, have made it known that they think that people should live by the rules or face the consequences. It isn't racism or fear of "the other" that is upsetting people, but a belief that people are getting away with breaking the rules and benefiting with tax dollars, either directly or via entitlements sent towards their U.S. born children. It doesn't matter if the rules for entry into the country and becoming a citizen were easier 100 or 50 years ago: they are supposed to be tougher now and should be followed. Americans' sense of fair play demands it. That no one seems to be holding anyone accountable is the root cause of all of the anger out there. And that's why they applaud the Governor: finally, someone is taking a stand.

But I do wonder if we shouldn't try to apply thermodynamic theory and transfer some of the heat generated by the immigration debate into other relevant areas via some sort of a political heat balance solution. Illegal immigrants are a legitimate target insofar as it is pretty clear-cut that they have no legal claim to government largesse. But Rhode Island taxpayers shouldn't forget that a greater proportion of their money goes to legal Rhode Island citizens, not illegal immigrants. A sizable portion of the heat generated by the illegal immigrant debate should be redirected towards other pots--entitlement programs, state employment packages, etc.--so that, maybe, they too will begin to boil over and get some attention.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Maybe we should limit the debate to criminally involved aliens(legal and illegal)and dealing with that situation.The advocates will falter where the rubber meets the road.If they don't,I will be happily surprised.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 15, 2008 4:48 PM

Definitely. If fiscal problems are behind the concern about illegal immigration, the search for fiscal solutions cannot end there.

I would say, however, that most people concerned about the impact of illegal immigration on public budgets do not believe it is the exclusive or even the primary cause of our fiscal problems.

Posted by: Monique at April 15, 2008 9:11 PM

"Illegal immigrants are a legitimate target insofar as it is pretty clear-cut..."

It is not clear-cut. American employers welcome these people by giving them jobs. American employers give them jobs to give American consumers what they want.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 15, 2008 9:15 PM

Arturo-what do you say to zero tolerance for criminal aliens?No wiggle room,no bail awaiting deportation hearings,no waivers of any kind?There are enough people who would come to this country and obey the laws to replace these criminals who spit on a great opportunity by their behavior.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 15, 2008 11:09 PM

What do you mean exactly by "no bail awaiting deportation hearings?"

Do you mean no bail in the immigration court?

Or no bail for illegal immigrants charged with crimes in State court?

If the latter, we should think through the economic impact on the DOC's budget before we enact that (not to mention the Constitutional issues).

Posted by: brassband at April 15, 2008 11:31 PM

No bail in immigration court if the hearing is based on a criminal conviction.Once bail is posted,the respondent will not leave unless tracked down and put on a plane.
In state court,bail is in the purview of the state and I have no hard and fast answer.
The Federal courts often hold even resident aliens without bail to avoid flight in serious cases.They virtually always deny bail to illegal aliens in all but the most minor cases.
I had a case where I arrested a dangerous aggravated felon for re-entry after deportation-I was the original arresting officer in the deportation case which led to his being deported.The subject resisted arrest and was subdued after a violent struggle.He had just bailed out of state court for assaulting a woman with a beer bottle.His initial encounter with INS was the result of a stabbing.The US District Court held him without bail and sentenced him to 2 years,the maximum at that time.When he finished his sentence,the immigration judge set bail,it was posted and he disappeared for a year or two.He next surfaced when he pulled a handgun on an FBI agent during a drug transaction in Providence.He was disarmed and subsequently sentenced to 28 years.the immigration judge should not have had the authority to set bail in this case.You see what the problem is-the US District Court denied bail even before a conviction and the immigration judge set bail after conviction when his culpability and deportability were no longer in doubt.This is why so many agents like myself retired the minute we became eligible.The immigration courtsoperate irresponsibly most of the time-they are administrative tribunals,not even real courts like the US District courts,where better judgement is usually applied.
I dare any advocate or budding lawyer to explain where I am wrong here.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 12:21 AM

My personal feeling is that the advocates and the RI Future bunch are too gutless and in denial to take on this topic with anyone who has actual knowledge of the situation.I noticed the House panel I testified before on this issue sat like a bunch of dull lunchbuckets and didn't pose a single question.They didn't want answers.I left some comments for Segal at the Daily Dose on the same subject-he wouldn't go near it-and he is a know it all if I ever saw one.Law student Jerzyk is also unwilling to engage on this with me-no name calling,just a factual debate-they always want to operate with a stacked deck.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 12:34 AM

Arturo, you responded to an argument I didn't make and did it by editing some of my words to fit your response. I completed the sentence for you and included your response:

"Illegal immigrants are a legitimate target insofar as it is pretty clear-cut that they have no legal claim to government largesse."

It is not clear-cut. American employers welcome these people by giving them jobs. American employers give them jobs to give American consumers what they want.

Seeing the full sentence reveals your response to be the non sequitur it is. Regardless of why illegal immigrants come here, they still don't have a legal right to government benefits.

Posted by: Marc at April 16, 2008 9:48 AM


When you recommend harsher treatments for illegal immigrants who comit crimes, do you equally forcefully recommend amnesty to those who don't? Are you out urging your (I'm guessing) Republican allies to stop demeaning good people ("illegals") and, for starters, support the DREAM Act? I'm guessing not. If you did, I promise you would get a better reception from "the activits" and..."gutless" "dull lunchbuckets(???)".

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 16, 2008 3:41 PM

Arturo-don't assume anything about me.I am not a Republican,although I will vote for McCain.I didn't vote for Bush either time.
I was in the INS as a Special Agent when we had the last amnesty 20 years ago.On paper that amnesty made some sense,but it was totally ruined by the Pannetta Amendment permitting "agricultural workers" with 90 days in the US to apply.That led to massive fraud.
Additionally,those who were found unqualified were protected by an insane confidentiality law which meant that convicted felons and fraud perpetrators were shielded from apprehension by the Enforcement Branch.I am concerned this will happen again.
I wouldn't necessarily oppose an amnesty on a case by case basis for those people who were issued a visa and overstayed or worked illegally-the reason being that if they had a clean record otherwise,they did enter legally and were inspected-a great difference from crossing surreptiously.
Arturo-I don't feel we owe lawbreakers anything at all,but we don't live in a world of absolutes.I do oppose any mass legalization program because it won't accomplish any solution to the problem
My experience was that as individuals,many of the illegal aliens I had to arrest were decent enough,but it was and is the aggregate situation that causes the issue to be so serious.
I spent the majority of my career chasing down smugglers,drug offenders,and other criminals,so I felt that I was doing something useful.
Did I exercise discretion-yes,and I wont elaborate.Most officers did.
I will tell you this-I was extremely aggressive in the performance of my duties and spent my whole career on the street in El Centro,CA,Chicago,IL,and Rhode Island and never had a single complaint of excessive force and only one instance as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit-in that case 130 offcers were sued en masse-about 70 INS Agents and 60 Illinois State Troopers as the result of the execution of a search warrant.The case was dismissed in Federal court.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 4:13 PM

The "lunchbuckets" I referred to were the parasitic slugs masquerading as legislators

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 4:15 PM

The U.S. immigration debate has been frozen since 9/11 and perhaps understandably so.
Americans want their government to be reasonably sure that visitors and immigrants aren’t a security risk. But the absence of a coherent immigration policy is
hampering both our states economic growth and national security.
Like a lot of other states, Rhode Island is affected by the fate of illegal immigrants. That is why we should embrace the same idea as the Arizona Republicans initiative. Their legislation contains provisions that advocates on both sides of the issue disagree with. But they present an unanticipated opportunity to place the unresolved issue of illegal immigration back to the political agenda The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, relegated illegal alien issues to the back burner of American politics. But where's the wisdom in continuing to allow thousands of people each year to come across our borders unchecked and undetected? Forget the back burner. The time has come for the Rhode Island state house to tackle this issue—before the body count gets any larger. Illegal immigration leaves the door open to terrorism and terrorist attacks PERIOD.
(The new Arizona law would suspend the operating license of any business that “knowingly or intentionally hires an illegal immigrant. A second violation would put the business, out of business. All new hires must have their identification cross-checked by the Federal Basic Pilot system. Basic Pilot serves about 17,000 businesses nationally.)
Dennis Lefebvre
Rhode Island

Posted by: DENNIS at April 16, 2008 4:16 PM


Americans well know that the people making possible for them to enjoy a fine dinner, a beautiful lawn (and countless other things), cheaply, did not overstay their visas.

Amnesty on a case by case basis would be a good idea, though I don't believe you do, contrary to what you say. Passing the DREAM Act would be a good start. I was right to assume you wouldn't support it, because it rewards children "lawbreakers" crossing the border "surreptitiously", like Dennis Lefevre's terrorists.

Dennis, does the Arizona law have a provision to collect from Arizonian consumers what they saved because businesses gave in to their demands of low prices? I'm guessing not.

Disclosure: I crossed the border surreptitiously when I was 10 years old.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 16, 2008 5:43 PM

I use a landscaper.He doesn't hire illegal aliens.I pay a little more.If you choose to disbelieve me,so be it.I really don't care to change your mind because it's already made up.The Dream Act is bullshit.There are Americans of every racial background who can't afford higher education.We are legally obligated to educate evryone K-12-after that NO ONE is owed one damn thing.I finished college on the GI Bill.
My father in law and his brother legally immigrated to the US in 1940 and served in WW2 and Korea.My father in law was sunk by a U Boat and barely survived-his brother went ashore on D Day.Neither became a citizen until after the war.They were both non white Hondurans.My father in law has no tolerance for illegal aliens and he made it the hard way.Stop whining Arturo.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 5:57 PM

stop whining joe.

p.s. though I crossed the border surreptitiously when I was 10 years old, I'm a US citizen now.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 16, 2008 6:06 PM

That's nice-who asked or really gives a damn?I was whining?What a crock of shit.Go swap spit with Rick Martinez or some other ethnic pimp.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 16, 2008 6:26 PM

"Illegal immigrants are a legitimate target insofar as it is pretty clear-cut..."

"It is not clear-cut."

It is absolutely clear-cut. Just because some US corporations have been breaking the law by employing undocumented immigrants does not change the fact that those undocumented immigrants have broken at least two laws.

However, my own preference is for an enforcement emphasis on employers (as well as on state agencies which are a little too careless in how they qualify non-Americans for social programs) and not employees. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who should be frog-marched out of such companies are the managers and owners.

Posted by: Monique at April 16, 2008 11:56 PM

stop whining bitter joe.

Obama 08!

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 17, 2008 2:00 AM

I still like my plan. The Mexican Security Plan. We simply study how the Mexicans patrol their southern border and we emulate it.

Of course that plan will require that our Border agents have bullets and know how to use them...

Posted by: Greg at April 17, 2008 7:47 AM

hey arturo-obama in your drams LOL

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 17, 2008 10:26 AM

arturo- i meant in your "dreams"-if he does win we'll have another jimmy carter giving the store away-you should be grateful to be a US citizen,especially as you were sneaked into the country as a child,but you have this chip on your shoulder that really sucks

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 17, 2008 5:57 PM

Bitter Greg, the only two times I've commented on this Right Wing website on this issue you have come in with the same kind of comment (the other was worse). It's obvious you are obsessed with violence and killing.

Bitter joe, at the very least you should be grateful that Obama doesn't see your bitterness as a reason to offend you.

"However, my own preference is for an enforcement emphasis on employers (as well as on state agencies which are a little too careless in how they qualify non-Americans for social programs) and not employees."

Monique, interesting that you think undocumented workers should be let go and not deported, though that goes contrary to your stated belief that "it is absolutely clear-cut", but hey....

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2008 2:00 AM

Obama 08!

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2008 2:02 AM

I'm simply dedicated to calling this what it is. An invasion. A slow, quiet invasion. Invasions lead to war. War is rarely fought on the chess board. The scum coming over the border are already using violence and killing. I just want us to use the same tactics to scrub society of the problem.

Posted by: Greg at April 18, 2008 9:22 AM

Greg, I wish that the Moniques, the Marcs and the Catholic Justins were as honest as you.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2008 10:00 AM

Obama 08!

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2008 12:35 PM

Ingrate Arturo-I don't know what country you came from,but I wonder how they treat uninvited interlopers there-do they get to be citizens and then bitch about everything?If Obama doesn't win,maybe you'll pack up and leave.It wouldn't be any loss from what you've displayed of your attitude.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 18, 2008 5:56 PM

joe, you're just mad because the fascist impulse behind the anti-illegal-immigrant obsession is showing.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 18, 2008 11:42 PM

I'll bet the place you are from is a hell of a lot closer to fascist than anything you'll ever find here-most Latin American countries are corrupt dictatorships and always have been I think the sentiment behind the anti-ILLEGAL alien movement(thank you for slipping the truth in for a change)is hardly "fascist"-it is based on a desire to maintain American sovereignty where we decide who comes in and who stays,not the trespassers-like any other country,such as wherever you're from

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 19, 2008 2:29 AM

joe, you're right that I'm right you're fascists.

Illegal immigrants are not coming to the US, giving each other jobs, and keeping low prices only to themselves. Illegal immigration is happening with the full active cooperation of the American entrepreneur and, most importantly, the American consumer. When I go to a restaurant and pay a good price for a fine dinner, I know that the guy cleaning my table is an illegal immigrant. So does my US-born neighbor. We choose not to say anything.

That you insist on calling these people "trespassers" "lawbreakers" "scum" to absolve you of responsibility is what makes you a fascist.

Posted by: arturo fernandez at April 19, 2008 8:52 PM

Well,Arturo-I didn't use the word "scum" to describe ordinary illegals-it applies to criminal aliens for sure;lawbreaker and trespasser are what I did say and stand by it.If it turns you on to call me a fascist,okay-when I consider the source it means nothing to me.I make an effort not to patronize businesses that hire illegals-but it really is impossible to know.The economic impact of illegals in hospitals and schools is severely negative-in the private sector I really don't know so I won't guess.I think they bring wages down,but I have never studied the situation.Anyway I'm done with going back and forth and name calling-you can have your opinion-it doesn't make a tinker's damn to me.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 19, 2008 10:45 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.