— Immigration —

June 30, 2012

"New" Kind of Immigration

Marc Comtois

The character of immigration has changed over the last few years, and, as Walter Russel Mead notes it's going in a positive direction.

The conventional picture is of an unstoppable wave of unskilled, mostly Spanish-speaking workers—many illegal—coming across the Mexican border. People who see immigration this way fear that, instead of America assimilating the immigrants, the immigrants will assimilate us. But this picture is both out of date and factually wrong.

A report released this month by the Pew Research Center shows just how much the face of immigration has changed in the past few years. Since 2008, more newcomers to the U.S. have been Asian than Hispanic (in 2010, it was 36% of the total, versus 31%). Today's typical immigrant is not only more likely to speak English and have a college education, but also to have come to the U.S. legally, with a job already in place.

What's responsible for the change? The reasons include a rapidly falling birthrate in Mexico, dramatic economic growth there and the collapse of the U.S. residential construction industry—a traditional market for low-skilled, non-English speaking immigrants whose documentation was often subject to question.

Their country of origin or ethnicity is far less important than what they "bring to the table".
Asians tend to be better-educated than most of the people in their countries of origin. Steeped in the culture of enterprise and capitalism, they're more likely than native-born Americans to have a bachelor of arts degree. While family sponsorship is still the most important entry route for Asians (as for all immigrants), this group is three times more likely than other recent immigrants to come to the U.S. on visas arranged through employers.

In many cases, they're not coming to the U.S. because of the economic conditions back home. After all, places like China, Korea and India have experienced jumps in prosperity and an explosion in opportunity for the skilled and the hardworking. But most of the new immigrants like it here and want to stay (only 12% wish they had stayed home).

More Asian-Americans (69%) than other Americans (58%) believe that you will get ahead with hard work. Also, 93% say that their ethnic group is "hardworking."

...Nor does the community seem to be inward-looking or unwilling to assimilate. While just over half of first-generation Asian immigrants say that they speak English "very well," 95% of those born in the U.S. say they do. Only 17% of second-generation Asian-Americans say that their friends are mostly members of their own ethnic group.

Perhaps reflecting this social integration, Asian-Americans are the most likely of all American racial groups to marry outside their own race: 29% married non-Asians between 2008 and 2010; the comparable figure for Hispanics was 26%, for blacks 17% and for whites 9%.

But there is something to be said for traditional cultural and social mores.
Only 16% of Asian-American babies are born out of wedlock, in contrast to 41% for the general population. In the U.S., 63% of all children grow up in a household with two parents; the figure for Asian-Americans is 80%....The hard work and strong family values appear to pay off: Asian-Americans' median household income is $66,000 (national median: $49,800) and their median household wealth is $83,500 (national median: $68,529).

January 29, 2012

Mitt Nails Illegal Immigration: "Our problem is not 11 million grandmothers" (And Other Gems)

Monique Chartier

From the Republican debate Thursday night. Mitt Romney speaking. [Thanks to Roy Beck at NumbersUSA for the transcription.]

I think I described following the law as it exists in this country, which is to say, I'm not going around and rounding people up and deporting them.

What I said was, people who come here legally get a work permit. People who do not come here legally do not get a work permit. Those who don't get work will tend, over time, to self-deport.

I'm not going to go find grandmothers and take them out of their homes and deport them. Those are your words, not my words. And to use that rhetoric suggests to people that somehow, if you're not willing to keep people here who violated the law, that you're anti- immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth.


You know, our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. Our problem is -- all right. (applause) Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It's school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It's people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.

And the real concern is the people who want to come here legally. Let's let legal immigrants come here. Let's stop illegal immigration.

Yes yes yes to all of that! The question of illegal immigration is about respecting legal immigrants. It's about requiring (silly concept, I'm sure) that employers hire only legal immigrants or citizens. It's about the impact on state and local budgets.

How gratifying also that Romney targets and blows up the Big Lie of illegal immigration advocates.

... somehow, if you're not willing to keep people here who violated the law, that you're anti- immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Great point! (Why didn't I think of that???)

Stripped of lies, there is nothing left of the argument in favor of illegal immigration. Accordingly, let's ask the correct question of the pertinent party, our elected officials: why are you encouraging illegal immigration and discouraging legal immigration? Because that is what you accomplish by refusing to enact e-verify, failing to properly qualify applicants for public programs and willfully ignoring the very reasonable laws on our books.

And to our elected officials on the state level, there's no point in bleating that immigration is a federal matter. YOU HAVE MADE IT A STATE MATTER, with all of the substantive implications to state and local budgets and our unemployment rate, BY DELIBERATELY CREATING A MAGNET FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

So. President Obama. Senate President Paiva-Weed. Governor Chafee. Why do you support illegal immigration and oppose legal immigration?

January 16, 2012

More Deception on In-State Tuition for Illegals

Justin Katz

Back in October, I pointed out that the academic study on the effects of a policy of offering in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants cited in the media and by the Board of Governors for Higher Education was so erroneous as to be fraudulent. Now, a comment on Newsmakers from the board's chairman, Lorne Adrain, has brought another bit of... let's say... creative interpretation to data on the matter. I've cued up the video to the relevant moment:

The interviewers chuckle and greet with incredulity Adrain's assertion that the people of Rhode Island had shown that they "embrace" the notion of in-state tuition for illegals, leading Adrain to draw a distinction between the "loud" people who show up for hearings and residents more generally. As evidence of the latter's views, he refers back to a Brown University poll showing that "the vast majority of Rhode Islanders felt that this was a good thing."

Astute viewers will note that Adrain begins by explaining the necessity of having "sufficient conversation about the question to get a sense of how the people of Rhode Island feel about it" and ends by dismissing a broad portion of the feedback that his board received. His conclusion, apparently, is that the people who take the time to opine in public forums and attend hearings don't count as much as the 508 folks who happened to pick up the phone when Brown randomly called their phone numbers, because he mentions no other source of information about "how the people of Rhode Island feel."

In order to do a PolitFact-style check on Adrain's assertion of a "vast majority," I found the poll release itself, and indeed, it reports that:

Rhode Islanders show strong consensus on issues of immigrant education: 83 percent support programs for teaching immigrant children English, and 68 percent support extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant children who graduate from Rhode Island high schools.

In modern usage, a 68% majority is close enough to "vast" to count. But the poll also found that 54% of respondents support a law requiring "local police" to "arrest anyone who is present in the country without proper documentation." How do these two findings coincide? Well, the actual question asked on in-state tuition gives a clue:

Illegal immigrant children attending college in our state should be charged a higher tuition rate at state colleges and universities: a) strongly agree/agree, 23%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 9%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 68%

It is definitely possible that some of the people who answered "disagree/strongly disagree" might have done so because they think that illegal immigrants should not be attending state colleges and universities at all — they should be deported. As a matter of the question's construction, though, we also have to note that it does not specify "higher tuition" than what. It sounds more like such students would be charged an "illegal immigrant" penalty, which gives the sense of taking advantage of a captive class. Had respondents been asked whether illegal immigrants' tuition should be equal to out-of-state tuition, the answer might have been different.

What's particularly disturbing about this journey of the data from a poorly posed question to a factor in a public official's policy decision is the place in which most of the shift was made: by the poll takers themselves. It's not as if Adrain, recalling a survey from last spring, misremembered the specific import of the question. Rather, the Brown University Taubman Center, itself, took a pretty open question and layered in the relevant specifics after the fact. The question says nothing about "in-state" tuition or "children who graduate from Rhode Island high schools." Those are elements that the surveyors thought it important to insinuate into the news coverage of their results.

And yet, it is on the basis of this sort of information that those who lead our state and our nation choose a way forward — or, more accurately, that they attempt to justify their own preferences to a nation with whom they share an increasingly narrow set of values.

November 3, 2011

Judicial Watch to RIBGHE: In-State Tuition for Illegals Appears To Be "clear violation of federal law and must, therefore, be reversed"

Monique Chartier

Tuesday, the RIBGHE voted to increase tuition at the three state colleges. It is very difficult not to link this increase to their vote five weeks ago to offer in-state tuition to illegal alien students. Now, with their vote Tuesday night, when the colleges go to the General Assembly for more tax dollars to cover the shortfall of these additional "in-state students", RIBGHE can claim to have done their part on the funding front.

... except that there remains a decided question of legality about the policy, which Judicial Watch points out to the RIBGHE in a letter sent October 19.

Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it sent a letter on October 19, 2011, to the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE), calling on the State of Rhode Island to abandon a new illegal alien tuition policy impacting Rhode Island's public institutions of higher education.

On September 26, 2011, the RIBGHE established a set of criteria by which students, including illegal aliens, would be eligible for reduced in-state tuition rates. However, as Judicial Watch notes in its letter to RIBGHE Chairman Lorne Adrain, "Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including post-secondary education benefits such as reduced tuition, unless a state has enacted a law affirmatively providing for such eligibility."

Continue reading "Judicial Watch to RIBGHE: In-State Tuition for Illegals Appears To Be "clear violation of federal law and must, therefore, be reversed""

November 1, 2011

In-State Tuition Raises Larger Question About Social "Investment"

Justin Katz

In a Providence Journal op-ed (which now apparently inevitably means "not online"), Sandy Riojas and Daniel Harrop argue in favor of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The first part of their argument is that President Ronald Reagan would have supported their side of the debate.

As admirable and iconic as Reagan may have been, a former president's view of a current state policy question is effectively irrelevant. And besides, it's not as if illegal immigration and in-state tuition are recent developments, so one might well reply: Forget "would have"; the applicable question is, "did he?" I've not seen the evidence.

More interesting, however, is the view of government and higher education that Riojas and Harrop promulgate:

There are Rhode Island Republicans who believe the state wastes its investment when it educates undocumented students through high school and then forces them to pay hiogher prices to attend a public college. Is high school graduation the milestone when these students are penalized for unknowingly entering the country illegally?

... [Subsidizing in-state tuition, the] state ultimately loses nothing, while gaining a greater proportion of the population that is college-educated and can participate in improving the future of Rhode Island.

Is high school really so worthless that a graduate cannot "participate in improving" the state? I'd argue that such an attitude, with the concomitant increase in the subsidization that the government provides for higher education, is what's driven the unsustainable inflation of tuition across the board. A high school diploma is, or ought to be, valuable in its own right, and any reasonable assessment of the actual skills needed in the workforce will likely conclude that it is sufficient for a great many jobs. So, yes, a high school diploma may, indeed, be the line after which the local society should consider legal residency status.

A precondition to both the development of the economy and the improvement of the state and nation as civic units is that the rules apply. Individuals and private organizations can bend them, but the state — with its ability to apply force and confiscate property — cannot. Putting aside the fact that subsidizing in-state tuition does, undeniably, cost the state something, the greater cost may lie in the lesson that doing so for illegal immigrants teaches about the validity of the rule of law.

October 14, 2011

The Legislative Response Rate on Tuition

Justin Katz

There are two major takeaways from the Providence Journal's poll of RI legislators on the matter of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants:

  1. 55% of senators and 37% of representatives were willing to go on the record opposing it even though there is no vote currently before them.
  2. 24% of senators and 41% of representatives didn't even respond to the question; add in "undecideds" and the percentages are 32% and 52%.

This issue comes up regularly, and it has been pretty heavily covered in the media, lately. How is it possible not to have an opinion?

The third takeaway, of course, is whether your own senator and representative responded in the way that you would like him or her to... whether he or she responded at all is also an important fact to keep in mind next time you're voting.

October 6, 2011

Peter Palumbo on Legislation to Reverse In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

Carroll Andrew Morse

At yesterday's rally at the Rhode Island statehouse in protest of Governor Lincoln Chafee's bypass of the legislature on various issues (in-state tution for illegal immigrants through a board decision of a public corporation, an executive order to being the process of creating healthcare "exchanges", and possible executive action to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants), State Representatives Joe Trillo and Peter Palumbo spoke to the crowd of their intention to introduce legislation to reverse the decision on illegal immigrant tuition made by the Board of Governors for Higher Education.

I was able to ask Representative Palumbo about his bill, and whether he expected to receive leadership support for it...

Anchor Rising: What is the content of the bill you are planning to submit to the legislature?
State Representative Peter Palumbo: The intent of the bill is going to be to override the decision...that the Board of Governor's made that gives illegal aliens in-state tuition...
 Audio: 15 sec
AR: And are you expecting to have leadership support for that bill?
PP: At this time, no. At this time I do not anticipate it, but this doesn't mean we're not going to go forward with it...
Audio: 34 sec
AR: You've kind of answered the third question I was going to ask, but I will ask it directly: You are prepared to go ahead with this bill, without leadership support?
PP: We've been doing this, and we're going to do it in a bi-partisan manner...hopefully, if we get enough people...and the people get activated after this rally and contact their local reps, there is optimism there. Audio: 34 sec

The Governor's Evasive Principles on Immigration

Justin Katz

It's been a few weeks since he made it, but I didn't want to let Governor Chafee's statement on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants go without comment:

"I have long been a supporter of efforts to encourage college attendance among students who, through no fault of their own, do not have full residency status," Chafee said.

He continued: "All that separates these young people from the thousands of other students who gain entry to Rhode Island's public colleges and universities each year is the place where they were born -- a factor none of us can control."

Place of birth is in no sense the issue; plenty of people not born in the United States have made their way to Rhode Island in such a way as to be eligible for in-state tuition. At issue, with immigration, is the right of the people of the United States to regulate the flow of foreigners into their country. That cannot be accomplished by walls and force alone, so it is critical to temper the lure of illegal entry by reducing the benefits that its practitioners seek to acquire and increasing the difficulty of operation within the country for those who have come here through improper channels.

October 5, 2011

Erroneous, One-Sided Public Discourse Misleads on Tuition

Justin Katz

As news consumers across the nation and the globe are aware, on Monday, September 26, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved a policy granting in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants who attended local high schools. As recently as this spring, the General Assembly explicitly declined to join the twelve other states that offer this concession, so it is a matter of some controversy that an unelected board has cemented RI's reputation for diluted democracy by making ours the second to join the list as a matter of policy, not law.*

With this issue, as with many others, our drift toward unabashed aristocracy is abetted by a lack of balance in the public debate, locally. The problem goes much deeper than mere media bias, down to the data on which discussion and decisions are based. In this case, a report from the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University has enjoyed a near monopoly when it comes to research citations — from radio to Web sites, from television to print.

Even just in the A section of this Sunday's Providence Journal, the institute's findings received two high-profile mentions. The first came in a characteristically unfair PolitiFact take-down of Terry Gorman, executive director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement. According to journalist Lynn Arditi, the study "showed that 74 undocumented students were attending one of the three public institutions of higher education in Rhode Island in 2009."

The second mention came from Board of Governors member Lorne Adrain, in an op-ed written on behalf of his fellow members. Adrain explains that their decision was based, in part, on the study's suggestion that "our state schools will still experience net new revenues from the policy."

Both assertions are demonstrably false. At a basic level, the study has broadly been assumed to deal with illegal immigrants (or "undocumented," if you prefer), although the term in the title and throughout the document is "non-citizens," which the authors never define. Thus, the report's executive summary cites the U.S. Census's 2009 American Community Survey, finding 69,757 "non-citizens" in Rhode Island, meaning that many residents counted as "not a U.S. citizen," no matter their legal status, as a few clicks at census.gov prove.

Something similar is true of the "74 non-citizen undergraduate students attending" public college. This data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics, and what it actually tallies are all "nonresident aliens" enrolled in RI's public undergraduate system. Clicking "i" for information brings up the following definition: "A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely."

The NCES may or may not have slipped illegal immigrants into that total, but it appears mainly intended to indicate students temporarily in the United States pursuing degrees. The new tuition policy will not apply to such "international" students. Moreover, legal-immigrant residents, whom the NCES counts among the general student body, appear already to be eligible for in-state tuition.

But let's pretend that the Latino Policy Institute's report actually addresses the students affected by the Board of Governor's new policy. That is, for the sake of argument, let's say that there are 74 illegal immigrant undergrads currently attending the University of Rhode Island (with 38), Rhode Island College (with 21), and the Community College of Rhode Island (with 15), and that in-state tuition will attract another 12 to URI, 7 to RIC, and 5 to CCRI. Will that increase in enrollment yield "net new revenues," as Mr. Adrain claims?

The Latino Policy Institute gives that impression by factoring in the "FTE instructional cost" for each institution, or the amount that it spends on a narrow range of expenses specifically filed under "instruction." The Institute subtracts that number from the tuition and counts the difference as a profit. Thus, the authors claim that "the enrollment of non-citizens would result in roughly $162,000 in revenue to public institutes of higher education per year."

The glaring error in this argument is that the "net new revenue" is not coming from "net new students." At out-of-state tuition rates, those 74 students are currently paying $1,435,010 in tuition. Give them the in-state rate, and the colleges and university are looking at a total tuition loss of $881,530. The 24 new students whom the lower tuition would supposedly attract would only bring the loss down to $703,586.

It's worth repeating that these headcounts are essentially made up. If illegal immigrants count among those here on a "temporary basis," there would be many fewer of them; if they count among those "who have been admitted as legal immigrants for the purpose of obtaining permanent resident alien status," there could be many more. In any case, the question of whether new illegal immigrant students provide a profit or require a subsidy would have to be the subject of another essay. (I'd argue that they represent a net cost of thousands of dollars each per year.)

At the very least, one can say that an unelected board should not be implementing public policy in lieu of duly passed laws, especially on the basis of erroneous and one-sided research. The Board of Governors should rescind its decision, and the civic society of Rhode Island should find a way to foster better-rounded public discourse.

* I attempted to change the Providence Journal version of this essay (which appears in the paper today) to reflect an AP report that specifically cited 12 other states that offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, with Oklahoma having already blazed the trail of doing so via policy. Either my correction came too late, or the Projo's findings differ from those of the AP.


I've corrected Lorne Adrain's gender in the above, and I apologize for the error. The only other "Lorne" I've ever heard of is Lorne Michaels from Saturday Night Live, and for some reason, my initial feeling that it was a woman's name never went away, despite knowing that Michaels is a man. Fortunately, though, my argument does not rely whatsoever on the personal qualities of the people whom I mention, and even if it did, I provided links to all of my sources, so readers can check my results on their own.

With all of the time that I spent culling data, I didn't have time to research Mr. Adrain's biography, which after all, is entirely irrelevant.

October 4, 2011

Analyzing the Civics of the Board of Governor's Illegal Immigrant In-State Tuition Policy Change

Carroll Andrew Morse

Determining whether it was a legitimate exercise of authority for the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education to make certain illegal immigrants eligible for in-state tuition at RI public colleges and universities takes us into a murky borderland in the civic landscape occupied by "public corporations" and "quasi-public entities" that have been created by governments to provide "non-public" goods or services. (In economic parlance, a "non-public" good or service is one that can be parceled out in a manner such that those who want it can spend what they want for it, and those don't want it don't have to buy any at all).

Whether government should ever create “public corporations” or other "quasi-public" bodies for the provision of private goods and services is a valid question in itself, but given that such entities are already with us and making decisions that impact people's lives, the immediate focus needs to be on whether their actions directly violate the core principles of democratic governance. In the case of the BoGfHE’s illegal immigrant tuition “policy change”, this means making certain that the Board has not exceeded its authority by doing something that must be a legislative function, and that it has acted in a way that was a reasonable exercise of its statutory mandate.

To address these issues, it is useful to consider a "public corporation" that deals with a less controversial good or service (at least in this century) such as a state-run liquor store. While the legislature authorizes and defines the purpose of a state-run retailer, it is not left to a legislature, or a committee of legislators, or even a board that is hired and fired directly by the legislature to make day-to-day decisions on matters such as pricing and inventory. Indeed, allowing a legislature to directly exercise executive authority in such a manner would be the violation of the separation of powers principle.

Likewise, allowing the Board of Governors for Higher Education to manage tuition pricing is not in inherent conflict with the principle of separation of powers, so long as the board is acts in a manner that does not conflict with the law. And since Rhode Island law makes no significant mention of immigration status in the context of public higher education and Federal law is unclear, the Board's action is consistent with current law.

Of course, because a “public corporation” can do something does not mean that it should, and there is a strong case to be made that the unelected board of a public corporation should not be imposing measures which the legislature has had before it but decided not to enact. The flip-side of this is that if a legislative majority feels that the Board has stretched an ambiguity in the law beyond reasonableness, it is their right -- and their duty -- to clarify the ambiguity.

The legislature does not have to wait for the Board of Governors to rescind its tuition policy change to begin a move to reverse it. It is not the legislature that has to make its actions conform to those of the Board of Governors; it is the Board of Governors that must set policies that conform to the law. If a new section is added to Rhode Island law regarding public higher education, perhaps in the form of language similar to section 40-6-27.1(b) of current RI law, which prohibits giving certain public assistance benefits to illegal immigrants, then the BoGfHE would have to change its policies in response.

The action taken by the Board at this stage is no more permanent than any preliminary budget recommendation for spending money in the next fiscal year, and it is certainly not written in stone that any government department, never mind a government created corporation, must get everything that it asks for. Indeed, for those inclined to view this purely as a budgetary and fiscal issue, one option the legislature could pursue would be to cut the budget of the BoGfHE -- a budget item separate from that of any actual educational institution, and that costs Rhode Islanders about $7 million annually in operations and personnel -- by the amount needed to make-up the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for the number of illegal immigrants expected to be admitted to RI colleges.

In the end, if a 3/5 majority of Rhode Island legislators think the Board of Governor's decision on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is a bad idea, they can only be bypassed in our system of government if they allow themselves to be. (I am assuming that the current Governor of Rhode Island would veto a standalone bill on this subject, necessitating a veto override, although this matter would also be germane for inclusion in the annual budget bill, which could allow it to passed as part of the same 2/3 majority that has to approve the budget). Approval of the legislative leadership should not be any factor; if a supermajority wants a bill passed, there are various ways a bill can be brought to the floor, if the members value having something passed more than they value following leadership dictates. And if the voters believe that the Board's decision should be reversed, but their legislators refuse to act for whatever reason, then the people need to consider electing new legislators who will.

September 29, 2011

Calculating the "Cost" of a College Student

Justin Katz

In discussion of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, commenter Russ illustrates why public debate so often gets stuck in conflicting assertions and animus:

...dividing the total operating costs of the University of Rhode Island by the number of full-time equivalent students suggests that the university has to make $20,615 per student.

Wrong, but hey let's pretend the university has no other sources of income and that tuition covers housing, dining services, and any number of other items not relevant to this discussion.

Wonder why that is that you folks (repeatedly) feel the need to misrepresent this?

The cost of educating a college student (which is different than the cost to the student of receiving an education) is a debatable question. Advocates for granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants assert that the amount that students pay should be considered the cost of their attendance, but this ignores the fact that state aid, other activities, and the inflated costs to out-of-state subsidize those students. By contrast, some advocates on the other side treat the out-of-state tuition as the cost, but this errs in the opposite direction. Other people might wish to look at budgetary line items and tease out those directly associated with the day-to-day experience of students, but the institution's activities are all so integrated that there isn't a clear line to draw.

Note that, in the text of mine that Russ quotes, I didn't say that tuition has to be $20,615, but that the University of Rhode Island "has to make" that amount per student. My premise is that the primary mission of a college or university is education, and most of its non-educational activities serve that mission. Some of those activities — such as funding professors' research — represent an overall cost, but are worth the expense because they enrich the knowledge of the professors, expand the opportunities for students, and bring recognition to the departments. Some of the activities — such as collegiate sports — may represent an area of profit, thereby helping to lower tuition rates from where they otherwise would be.

We could argue the point to death about whether (for example) the sports subsidize the research and therefore have no effect on tuition rates. But with education being the core mission and tuition being the main source of revenue, it seems most reasonable to use a per student measurement for questions of finance.

Thus, we can total the expenditures of the University of Rhode Island at $400,430,444 and average the number of credits purchased in the spring and fall semesters of that year to determine that, for 2010, the university had the equivalent of 19,424 full-time students.and say that, overall, the university must make $20,615 per student — regardless of the source of that revenue — to meet its expenses. Again, some of its other activities increase that cost and others decrease it, but if that's the theoretical per-student number, a student paying in-state tuition and fees of $11,366 per year is not carrying his or her own weight.

We can go a step farther and adjust the ratios of students to take into account the amounts that different categories pay (in-state, out-of-state, and regional). Doing that suggests that the University of Rhode Island's actual per-student income is somewhere around $16,862. I should emphasize that these are rough calculations. I lack the time and resources to divide up the student body by, for example, those who live on campus versus those who don't or to separate graduate students from undergraduate students and so forth. In this context, though, it's interesting to observe that the regional tuition rate (not including fees and housing) is currently $17,192, so it may be that the university sees that as "cost" in the sense that, on a small scale, it doesn't affect the per-student rate.

Be that as it may, these numbers are why we periodically hear university officials talking about the need to attract more out-of-state students. As the ratio shifts toward them, the number that the institution actually makes per student moves toward the number that it has to make per student.

According to advocates for the illegal-immigrant giveaway, 74 illegal immigrants currently attend URI, RIC, and CCRI, and they calculate that the reduced price will attract another 24. We're not talking huge numbers, here, by any means, but I don't see how it's plausible to argue that cutting the revenue from 74 students by 60% and adding another 24 at rate that must be subsidized will do anything but increase costs. (Note that, due to time constraints, I'm putting aside the possibility that the percentages differ from one institution to the next.)

A rational debate could proceed in a number of interesting and fruitful directions, from here, but it's more difficult to accuse people of being heartless when one acknowledges that the question is whether a cost is justified, not whether there is a cost.

September 27, 2011

And Now: Drivers Licenses

Monique Chartier

Incrementalism is a beautiful thing.

E-verify rescinded earlier this year.

In-state tuition passed yesterday.

Now the latest: drivers licenses.

Governor Chafee said Tuesday that he is looking into the possibility that the state might issue driver's licenses or driving permits to illegal immigrants.

Responding to questions about a vote by the Board of Governors for Higher Education to approve in-state rates for undocumented students, Chafee said being able to drive would help people who need transportation to go to school or work or to look for work.

He said has spoken with officials in Utah, which he said is the only state that has established a special class of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

"I'm working on it," he said.

Question. Why would this particular group of people need a vehicle to look for or report to a job when THEY ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO WORK HERE?

In-State Tuition for Illegals, Whether You Want to Pay for It or Not

Justin Katz

Last night, with the approval of RI's chief executive, Lincoln Chafee, the Board of Governors of Higher Education decided to act in lieu of the General Assembly and implement a policy of offering illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates for the state's public universities. That makes Rhode Island just the fourteenth state to be so generous, and the first to make the decision without involving the people's elected legislators.

The big lie of issue, which Ted Nesi describes here is that there is no cost to this decision — perhaps even an increase in revenue. I spent some time looking at the numbers, last night, and although I don't have time, this morning, to make my findings presentable for this post, I just don't see how that could possibly be so.

I'll show my work (as the math teachers say) in a future post, but in a nutshell, dividing the total operating costs of the University of Rhode Island by the number of full-time equivalent students suggests that the university has to make $20,615 per student. Clearly, total tuition and fees of $11,366 for in-state matriculating undergrads won't cut it. If, as advocates claim, in-state tuition were sufficient to educate a student, then the University ought to be investigated for price-gouging out-of state students, who pay $27,454.

September 19, 2011

In State Tuition for Non-Citizens Again

Patrick Laverty

A panel of the Governor's Board of Higher Education has recommended that Rhode Island offer in-state tuition to non-residents of Rhode Island. If you're not a US resident or citizen, is it possible to be a Rhode Island resident, by the legal definition? I guess according to the Board of Governors, you can.

Even more interesting, the fact sheet from the Board of Governors says that there will be no extra cost to the taxpayers, but will actually lead to additional revenues. I honestly don't see how this can be a true statement. Looking at the costs of one semester's tuition at URI, I see:


When I see that difference (per semester), I ask why? Why is there that difference? Is it because $25,912 is the true cost of educating a student at URI? If it is, where does the remaining $16,000 come from? Don't the taxpayers make up that difference through the support the school gets in the state budget? So if you add more in-state students, you increase the cost to the taxpayers. The fact sheet also claimed this change would add approximately 31 extra students to the state college system. If all 31 of them attended URI (a very unlikely scenario), that is an extra half million dollars that needs to be paid. Not only that, the fact sheet claims there were currently 74 undocumented immigrants attending Rhode Island's state colleges and paying out of state tuition. If we give them in-state tuition and also figure they all attend URI, that is an extra $1.2M. So this change could, in a worst-case scenario, cost the state an extra $1.7M for one semester or $3.4M for the academic year.

Going back to the table and seeing that $16,088 difference between in-state and out of state tuition, if that $25k number isn't the true cost of educating a student at URI, then is the $9,824 the true cost? If it is, then why do we charge out of state students an extra $16,000? That would results in millions of dollars of profits for URI for all those out of state students.

I don't know of any other possibility. One of those numbers is the true cost of educating a student for a semester at URI. I believe the first scenario is far more likely to be true, which makes me extremely skeptical of statements that there is no extra cost to the taxpayers.

August 20, 2011

Prez to Illegals: You Can Stay - Just Don't Murder Anyone

Monique Chartier

This is unacceptable.

The Obama administration's plan to review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify "low-priority" offenders has sparked a debate in Washington and beyond.

Officials said that by launching the case-by-case review, they are refocusing deportation efforts on convicted felons and other "public safety threats." Those who have not committed crimes could be allowed to remain in the U.S.

How long before word gets around the world - literally - that if you can just make it over the United States' border, however you have to do it, you're golden? Too late; it already happened.

With this action, President Obama is spitting simultaneously on legal immigrants and on the sovereignty of the United States. Will Congress stand next to him and do likewise by refusing to intercede on behalf of the people who came here lawfully (and at considerable cost), on behalf of US sovereignty and on behalf of ITS OWN CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE AND POWERS?

On the issue of deportation, the executive branch has the privilege of determining how to implement the law, but it does not have the power to manipulate the way a law is carried out to the extent that it changes the meaning of the law. ...

The President’s newest round of executive branch legislating, though, through the Department of Homeland Security, is particularly abhorrent. It represents the first major time that President Obama has successfully used the executive branch not only to bypass the legislature, but to act directly contrary to it. In the face of a hostile House of Representatives, it is likely that these ‘screw you’ moments will become increasingly frequent.

August 10, 2011

Wherefor the Flow of Immigrants

Justin Katz

You may have heard that illegal immigrants are returning to Mexico because they can't find work in the United States. Mark Krikorian notes that, while that is surely a factor, other shifts (less conducive to the liberal storyline) are in play, as well:

Buried in the story, and not highlighted in the headline or the lede, is this comment from someone a whole lot more likely to know what ordinary illegal aliens are actually thinking:
... "They're going back home because they can't get medical help or government assistance anymore," Frausto said, "And when it's getting so difficult for them to find a job without proper documentation, it's pushing them away."

July 13, 2011

Mayor Menino: Grand Theft Auto Is Fine (As Long As It's Committed By Undocumenteds)

Monique Chartier

The mayor of Boston is trying mightily to expand the list of crimes that undocumented immigrants are (tacitly) permitted to commit. (H/T Howie Carr.)

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is now reversing course and threatening to withdraw from the Secure Communities program.

That's a big change for Boston, where police Commissioner Ed Davis had been a strong supporter of the program, wich shares the fingerprints of everyone arrested by local police with federal immigration authorities. ...

But now Menino says he'll pull out of the program if US immigration authorities don't limit deportations to serious criminals.

This was supposed to be on issues like homicides, major crimes, and they were taking this too far. A guy steals a car, they do the fingerprints, send it to Washington, have the person deported. That's not the Boston I want. I want Boston to be a city that welcomes immigrants,” Menino said.

... so immigrants won't feel welcomed if they're not permitted to steal cars??? Or are you saying, Mr. Mayor, that only immigrants steal cars? Also, please advise at what point car theft became an unserious crime.

In any case, keep talking, Mumbles. Though your campaign manager is undoubtedly hiding under a desk right now knocking back the aspirin, your foot-in-mouth disease is a considerable source of amusement to the rest of us.

July 1, 2011

For In-State Tuition, Show Us the Taxes

Justin Katz

William Dimitri, of Johnston, makes an interesting suggestion regarding in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, in a Providence Journal letter that does not appear to be online:

On the one hand, those fortunate enough to earn in excess of $250,000 already pay a substantial amount of taxes, but that fact seems to escape the grasp of the ... proponents [wish to increase those taxes].

On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that those illegal immigrants whom Diaz, Pichardo and the other "immigrant advocates" want to benefit have ever paid income taxes.

How about requiring that those illegal immigrants provide copies of their tax returns for every year they have been in Rhode Island before granting them the privilege of paying in-state tuition rates (which would make the idea more palatable to those who do pay taxes and tuition, like me) and leave those who work legitimately and pay taxes alone and in peace.

Honestly, I don't know the statistics for illegal immigrants and income taxes, and even were such requirements included for in-state tuition, I'm can't say I'd be for it. How about requiring people to follow the proper procedures for entering and remaining in this country? Especially with in-state tuition, which amounts to government-subsidized higher education, following the rules for becoming a legal resident seems the least one can do.

May 25, 2011

In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants to be Heard in Committees in *Both* Chambers Tomorrow

Carroll Andrew Morse

This is kind of interesting. According to a Tuesday posting to the General Assembly website, the Rhode Island Senate will hear the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants bill (S0321) on the same day that the House Finance committee does (tomorrow, May 26) . The House hearing (H5245) was posted last week.

Supporters of the bill wouldn't be trying to rush it through just before a long weekend, would they?

March 13, 2011

Brown's One-sided Immigration "Symposium"

Marc Comtois

Let me start with the caveat that I didn't attend Brown's immigration symposium convened to discuss a poll (that I've already touched on) and am relying on this morning's report from the ProJo. That out of the way, stepping back, it really is remarkable, if unsurprising, that a supposed institution of higher learning would hold a symposium on such a hot-button issue as immigration--illegal and otherwise (as is standard "immigrant" advocacy practice, they conflated the two in the poll, too)--and offer only one side of the argument. According to the article, here's a sample of the wide-ranging views represented at the conference:

[Bishop Thomas Tobin] urged that people recognize that immigrants, “regardless of the status of their paperwork, are children of God and our brothers and sisters in the human family.”

Brown history professor Evelyn Hu-Dehart called the term “alien,” as applied to illegal or undocumented immigrants, “a very problematic word” used to distinguish “between good and bad immigrants...I ask you to think about that word — alien not only as a stranger, but dangerously different and undesirably opposite of the warm and fuzzy feeling we conjure when we think of the [American] melting pot.”

Nasser Zawia, dean of the graduate school at the University of Rhode Island, said that as a Muslim, Arab and member of the Yemeni community, “I guess I’m the ‘enemy alien.’ I’m also part of the community in conflict with the United States. I’m always, the ‘other.’ ”

Symposium organizer Alexandra Filindra, of Brown University, said she was heartened by the survey results showing 68 percent of Rhode Islanders favor extending in-state tuition rates to undocumented children who graduate from Rhode Island high schools.

Was it really that one-sided or did the ProJo simply not report on the alternate views (if any) that were expressed? I'm not sure, a closer look at the 5 members on the Symposium's panel seems to confirm the suspicion. In addition to the aforementioned Dr. Hu-Duhart, here were the other 4 members on the "Expert Panel on Immigration":

Dr. Michael A. Olivas - President of the American Association of Law Schools and Professor of Law at the University of Houston. Olivas is an advocate for allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Dr. M. Daniel Carroll, Professor of the Old Testament, Denver Seminary has his own blog. He approaches the issue from the same moral Christian perspective as Bishop Tobin.

Dr. George Borts, Professor of Economics, Brown University is a Club for Growth cited advocate of Free trade. Borts has written an op-ed calling for immigration reform and denouncing the labels of "alien" and the rise of what he calls "nativism".

Dr. Cynthia Garcia Coll, Professor of Education, Brown University seems to center her research on immigrant children and often turns up at rallies (for instance, the DREAM act rally) that support immigrant--illegal and legal--rights.

Now, there is certainly some generality here given the rudimentary research I did, but I think it's safe to believe that all of the above could be considered sympathetic to illegal immigration. I know that Terry Gorman of RIILE didn't stand a snowball's chance of being invited, but there wasn't at least one person with perhaps a different view than the majority of the panel that could have been added? Were 4:1 odds too much? This sounds more like a pep rally than an actual examination of all sides of the issue.

March 9, 2011

Re: Budget Thoughts

Justin Katz

I certainly appreciate Marc's fair-minded and temperamentally conservative response to Governor Chafee's budget proposal, but I think he slips into a political trap not unlike the practice of spending budgets on pet projects and then looking to debt to fund such necessities as road repair. It is insufficient to go through a budget proposals as if it were itemized lists of distinct suggestions. It is also arguably the case that general thrust is more important in judging the baseline that the governor puts forth than the specifics.

Recall the process every time Governor Carcieri included some sort of tax increase, new fee, or one-time fix in his budgets. They would give the General Assembly cover, even as the legislature brushed aside attempts at reform, such as mandate relief. The same will happen here, only Chafee has extended the tax-and-fee-increase cover beyond what even some in the General Assembly might have wanted, and he's barely pushing for reforms.

His 1% tax on currently exempt items has morphed into a 1% tax on sensitive items like clothes, heating fuel, and textbooks and a 6% tax on less sensitive items like hair cuts and auto repairs. His pension reforms are more of a request, subject to negotiation, with real changes pending further review, posturing, and tribal dances for a miracle rain. His savings in other areas, such as health and human services, are the typical illusory promise of better efficiency and oversight.

As for the corporate tax, the problem with the combined reporting proposal is that the details remain the very-complicated devil. It's all in how the state figures out its share of a corporation's tax once everything is combined. And with regard to the balance of rates and credits, all one needs to know — all one needs to know for the entire budget, really — is that Chafee wants to increase spending on education and municipal aid while eliminating a quarter-billion-dollar-plus deficit. That can only happen if the total tax and fee burden on Rhode Islanders and its economy increases.

March 7, 2011

Brown Concludes RIers "Deeply Divided" on Immigration

Marc Comtois

Brown U. has done a poll on immigration and is framing it as a look at a "deeply divided" RI public (and the ProJo is parroting it). The actual poll numbers tell a different story. It doesn't look like Rhode Islanders are "divided" so much as they are just plain confused. First, it looks like Rhode Islanders want to enforce the current immigration laws (or make them tougher a la Arizona):

Immigrants should change so they blend into American society: a) strongly agree/agree, 70%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 11%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 19%.

Police in our state should be able to check the citizenship and immigration status of all people including citizens: a) strongly agree/agree, 55%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 7%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 38%.

Schools in our state should offer specialized programs for teaching English to children whose first language is not English: a) strongly agree/agree, 83%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 7%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 10%.

How much do you support or oppose the approach that Arizona is taking on immigration? a) strongly support, 32%; b) somewhat support, 22%; c) neither support nor oppose, 10%; d) somewhat oppose, 14%; e) strongly oppose, 23%.

If the Arizona law were enacted in our state, how much would you support or oppose a tax increase to pay for additional police to enforce immigration law? a) strongly support/somewhat support, 54%; b) neither support nor oppose, 10%, c) somewhat oppose/ strongly oppose, 36%.

RIers are also open and sympathetic to immigrants (illegal or otherwise):
Immigrants today have the same values as American-born citizens: a) strongly agree/agree, 59%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 19%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 22%.

Immigrants make our state more open to new ideas and cultures: a) strongly agree/agree, 41%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 20%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 39%.

Illegal immigrant children attending college in our state should be charged a higher tuition rate at state colleges and universities: a) strongly agree/agree, 23%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 9%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 68%.

Wanting to enforce or toughen the laws and still being sympathetic to the plight of others aren't mutually exclusive positions to take. However, it appears that many RIers are neither open or sympathetic to immigrants (illegal or otherwise, apparently)
Immigrants today have the same values as previous generations of immigrants: a) strongly agree/agree, 35%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 16%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 49%.

Immigrants strengthen our state because of their hard work and talents: a) strongly agree/agree, 10%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 9%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 80%.

That being said, many RIers are also open and sympathetic to immigrants:
Immigrants today are a burden on our state because they take our jobs, housing and healthcare: a) strongly agree/agree, 17%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 21%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 62%.

It is very important that everyone in the United States speaks English: a) strongly agree/agree, 34%; b) neither agree nor disagree, 17%; c) disagree/strongly disagree, 49%.

?[Scratches head]. These answers lead me to wonder if; a) there is a misunderstanding of what exactly an immigrant is; b) Rhode Islanders are schizophrenic; 3) there is a problem with some of the questions; or IV) a, b and 3 are correct or; E) perhaps the real problem lay in the polling methodology: "two waves, in November 2010 and February 2011" (I'm not a polling expert, but isn't a 3 month span between data sets significant? Were all of the questions asked during both polling periods? Were the same pollsters involved?)

February 10, 2011

AZ to Fed Gov: You Claim It As Your Purview

Monique Chartier

... so buckle down.

Arizona on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging that Washington has failed to secure the state's porous border with Mexico. ...

"Because the federal government has failed to protect the citizens ... of Arizona, I am left with no other choice," Brewer told reporters at a news conference in central Phoenix, as several boisterous protesters attempted to shout her down.

"We did not want this fight. We did not start this fight. But, now that we are in it, Arizona will not rest until our border is secured and federal immigration laws are enforced," she added.

Signs of Life in Committee: Four Reps Oppose Holding the Illegal Immigration Bill "For Further Study"

Carroll Andrew Morse

A source who was at Tuesday's night hearing of the Labor Committee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives informs me that the decision "to hold for further study" the bill that would write former Governor Donald Carcieri's illegal immigration executive order into law passed by a vote of only 8 - 4 (one committee member was absent). Representatives Deborah Fellela (D-Johnston), Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield/Burrillville), Robert Phillips (D-Woonsocket) and Jack Savage (R-East Providence) were the votes against further study.

Let's review exactly what it was that 8 members of the Labor committee voted for, in voting for "further study": By voting "to hold for further study", the majority on the Labor Committee voted against giving the full House of Representatives a definitive opportunity to vote on the illegal immigration bill, and instead voted in favor of giving the Speaker of the House the power to decide whether this bill should receive any further attention during this legislative session.

Given the committee's disposition of the immigration bill, no one outside of the 4 Representatives who voted against "further study" can be considered amongst its supporters. Certainly some members of the House Labor Committee, such Chairwoman Anastasia Williams (D-Providence), have given unmistakable indications of opposing the bill on its merits. But it would definitely be of interest to constituents of the Labor Committee members who voted for "further study" to find out if their Rep opposed the bill because of its substance, or because they were told they were not allowed to send it to the House floor for a vote at this time, even if they did support it.

Remember, asking legislators to vote in committee for bills that they support isn't asking for an arcane parliamentary trick. It's simply asking legislators to do the job they were elected to do, and not give away their representation of their constituents to someone else.

February 8, 2011

How To End the Tyranny of "Held For Further Study" II

Carroll Andrew Morse

Three high-profile bills go before their Rhode Island House of Representatives committees this week, 1) the bill, referred to the Labor Committee to be heard today, that would make the provisions of former Governor Carcieri's executive order on illegal immigration into law, and 2 and 3) bills, referred to the Judiciary Committee to be heard on Wednesday, one establishing same-sex marriage at the statutory level, the other defining marriage as being between a man and a woman at the Constitutional level. (h/t Ian Donnis)

Given the recent history of legislature action in Rhode Island, the question is, once these bills go to committee, who will make the decision on whether they are eventually sent to the full House for a floor vote: the members of the committee together, or the Speaker of the House alone? Does a committee decide what happens to the bill referred to it, or does a committee immediately hand bills back to the Speaker of the House and say "you tell us what to do"?

I have no inside information on what the majority committee positions are in the case of the immigration and the same-sex marriage bills, but they are certainly not instances where straight party-line votes are expected. And if any RI Representative believes that that a majority of a committee on which they serve would decide the fate of a bill differently from what the House leadership would allow, there are the procedures she or he can follow (consistent with Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, referenced in the House Rules) to help a bill get its rightful consideration.

  1. If the committee meeting begins, as is common practice in Rhode Island legislative committee meetings, with a motion to hold every bill on the current agenda for "further study", any representative can make a motion to "divide the question", and have the bill they are interested in (same-sex marriage, immigration, etc.) considered as a separate vote.
  2. If the legislature follows its own customs and practice, the motion to divide the question should be granted by the committee chair automatically, without a vote being needed. If you check the Journals of proceedings on the House floor, motions to divide the question are routinely granted without a vote being taken, as long as the Speaker rules that a question is divisible. There is absolutely no question that a motion to vote on multiple bills at the same time is divisible into separate votes.
  3. Then when the bill of interest comes up for its separate consideration, if a motion to "hold it for further study" is immediately made, that motion opens the question for debate (it the language of parliamentary law, any motion that would send the bill out of committee falls into the category of a "main motion" which opens general debate on the subject). Any representative who wants to speak on the substance of the question should be afforded the opportunity to do so, before any vote is taken, and the debate should follow the same rules that are followed when bills that have been blessed by the Speaker and the Committee chair are considered. However, just as importantly...
  4. Motions to either postpone definitely, or to lay the bill on the table (two separate options) are now in order. The important difference between a vote to "hold for further study" and a vote for "to postpone definitely" is that further study sends a bill back to the full House, where its fate is placed into the hands of the Speaker, while "definite postponement" keeps the bill in committee, where its fate must still be decided at a later time by a majority vote of the committee, no matter what the Speaker or the committee chairperson thinks.

    A motion for definite postponement could take the form, for example, of a motion to postpone consideration of bill until after the people who have come to testify on that day have been heard, or until the next committee meeting, or until the first committee meeting after witnesses have been heard, etc. Also, according to Mason's Manual, the motion for definite postponement is debatable to the degree that the "propriety of the postponement" is discussed, meaning that it would be perfectly in order for the Rep who made the motion (or any other Rep on the committee) to explain to the other members of the committee (and the audience for the hearing) during their speaking time how this motion keeps the fate of the bill in the hands of the committee, instead of transferring it to the Speaker. (The first time this procedure is used, this might also make for some interesting blank and confused stares on the faces of certain legislators).

  5. The motion to postpone definitely does have to be voted on -- which means the real question about invoking this process centers on whether the members of a committee charged with considering a bill believe that the Speaker of the House would make the same decision on the bill that they would. If they think the Speaker would not allow a bill to get a vote on the House floor, even though a majority of the committee would supports it, then they should follow the procedure described above.
Look, I know that the 19th century language used as the names for some of these motions can make parts of the process sound arcane, but this is not parliamentary trickery being sketched out. This is, in fact just the opposite, a review of some accepted and staid rules, adopted over the centuries of American democracy, to ensure that legislatures are run as the gatherings of equally-ranked representatives of the people that they are intended to be. In the specific context of the RI legislature, those particular principles that need protecting are...
  1. That legislatures make decisions on substantive matters by majority vote.
  2. That legislators cannot be forced to vote on substantive matters, before they have had an opportunity to deliberate them.
  3. That legislators cannot be required to consider unrelated bills at the same time.
If you think those principles are unreasonable, then the form of government you believe in is something other than democratic.

January 6, 2011

Immigration and Buzzards

Justin Katz

Monique and Matt talked of illegal immigration policy and a meaningful juxtaposition of headlines on the Matt Allen Show last night. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

We're still not to our goal of funding a full-time job, by the way, so please email or call (401-835-7156) me to pledge financial support — as subscriptions, donations, or advertising — for 2011 to help us create a full-time job within Anchor Rising.

December 29, 2010

Common Sense Locked Out

Justin Katz

With Governor Lincoln Chafee determined to ease the way for illegal immigrants in Rhode Island society, some legislators will surely increase their attempts to affect the relevant aspects of Rhode Island law through legislation, as Rep. Peter Palumbo (D, Cranston) has promised to do:

Palumbo also said he will introduce another bill, or package of bills, when Governor-elect Lincoln D. Chafee goes forward with his announced plan to repeal Governor Carcieri's executive order on illegal immigration. The bill, or bills, "will mimic the executive order to take its place legislatively," Palumbo said.

The stunning stretches of parliamentary procedure that similar legislation received last year (see here and here) suggest that the legislative route may not work. The prospects, this year, are made more dim by the fact that any legislation that passes will likely require enough support to override a gubernatorial veto.

Perhaps the makeup of the General Assembly changed just enough for a new dynamic on immigration, but I doubt it. All that's left is for residents to speak up and make it increasingly difficult for the state's political leaders to cater to their ideologies and favored special interests.

December 13, 2010

The Not-So-Approachable Governor

Justin Katz

An email from Terry Gorman, executive director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, inspired a new category title, on Anchor Rising, when he sent the following email:

Just received a call from Anita, a senior staff person on the Chafee transition team and she related to me that without hearing from the source the Governor elect fully understands RIILE'S position on Gov. Carcieri's Executive order and that the Governor elect had already conducted all the meetings he would with constituents on matters such as these at this time. RIILE put in three phone requests and many requests via Talk Radio for meetings with the Governor elect to explain RIILE'S side of the Illegal Immigration issue to enable Mr. Chafee to at least make an informed decision before rescinding the Executive Order. We thank them for considering our request for a meeting and appreciate the courtesy of a return call. However, RIILE feels that Mr.Chafee has been totally MISINFORMED by the Illegal Alien advocates and like thinking Union officials on his transition team. RIILE fails to see how a rational decision can be made by our State's highest ranking elected official without at least knowing both sides of any issue, especially one that so adversely affects the fragile economy our fine State. This reluctance to weigh both sides of an issue does not bode well for the next four years of governance in Rhode Island.

In like fashion to National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island Director Chris Plante, Mr. Gorman has found that our incoming governor has already granted constituents all of the hearings they're going to get, and he's not even in office, yet. One begins to wonder whether Mr. Chafee is disinclined to open his door to too many folks with whom he disagrees out of fear that they'll be able to determine whether he operates by means of strings or a hand up the back of his shirt.

November 29, 2010

Chafee's Aimin' to Give It

Justin Katz

What's the famous H.L. Menken quotation? "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." I suspect that's going to be the unofficial slogan of the Linc Chafee years in Rhode Island. It came to mind when the Department of Revenue found that Chafee's plan to tax everything that moves in Rhode Island would actually increase the taxes that we pay by $121 million, rather than the $89.4 million that he'd been claiming:

The list of 93 items that are exempt from the existing 7-percent state sales tax, in addition to food, clothing and medicine, is made up of items that state lawmakers deliberately chose not to tax, among them: school meals, prosthetic devices and sales to charitable, educational and religious organizations. Also included: equipment purchased for manufacturing purposes and adaptive equipment that helps amputee veterans drive their cars. [Don't forget heating fuel.]

When asked last week whether Chafee favors taxing such items, his spokesman, Michael Trainor, said the former U.S. senator "never wavered" during the campaign from his plan to establish a 1-percent tax on exempt items, and is not wavering now.

"Certainly, in the early days of his administration, there needs to be additional revenue," Trainor said. "He views this as a temporary extension to the exempt items that would be retired as soon as the budget situation is under control."

And what happens when "the budget system" (along with spending) becomes more out of control? Well, the difference between items currently taxed at 7% and those to be taxed at 1% is minimal, wouldn't you say?

The quotation came to mind, again, when Chafee dug in on his pledge to wipe away E-Verify at the state level, doubled down with an intention to bring this campaign across state borders, and offered this non sequitur, which raises serious questions about the governor-elect's capacity for reason:

"We have a disaster of an economy. Unemployment is one of the worst in the country. We're way worse than our neighbors, who all have the same labor laws as us," except for the immigration order, he said. "Obviously it's not working."

Blaming the state's economic woes on the fact that the state government has at least minimal controls against the hiring of illegal immigrants is nonsense on its face. Can the man who is soon to be the chief executive of our state think no more clearly than that? Even the Providence Journal editors think Chafee's way off, on this one:

The governor-elect argued that E-Verify "simply doesn’t work" and "has proved ineffective."

That would surprise people with much greater expertise on the subject, including Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security for President Obama, whom Mr. Chafee strongly supports.

"E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that helps employers and businesses throughout the nation maintain a legal workforce," Ms. Napolitano said this month, in announcing that the program is being expanded at the federal level to include U.S. passports and passport cards for employment verification. Thirteen states now mandate E-Verify and the number will grow. (See "Chafee understates use of E-Verify system," news, Nov. 19.)

And even you don't agree with Chris Plante and the National Organization of Marriage, perhaps you'll hear echoes of Menken in the Chafee camp's handling of Plante's effort at least to be heard on the issue in the governor's office:

[Dhavee spokesman Michael Trainor] also denied ever telling Plante "that the governor-elect would sit down with him." In fact, Trainor said, his letter reflected his belief that a meeting would probably "not be productive" in light of Chafee's "long-established position" on the issue.

But Trainor said Chafee is, in fact, open to talking with Plante one-on-one about the issue. Explaining why his own letter to Plante did not raise this possibility, Trainor said it was sent without the governor-elect's knowledge, amid "literally hundreds of requests for meetings."

"But now that Mr. Plante has decided to make a public issue of this, Lincoln Chafee is more than willing to have him in and to have a conversation."

It's just basic politics to make some effort to allow the opposition to feel as if it has had input, thereby defusing some of the bitterness from the debate. Governor Carcieri, for one, met with advocates for same-sex marriage even though his stand was at least as strong in the opposite direction as Chafee's.

The frightening theme that recurs with every article concerning the soon-to-be governor of Rhode Island is that the people of the state are going to have to look to the General Assembly for balance and reason while Chafee's in the executive seat. Those who believe that the healthiest outcome for Rhode Island would be a hastening of its demise (and therefore, its recovery) may soon get their wish.

November 15, 2010

"I campaigned on it...I can't go back on a campaign pledge."

Marc Comtois

So says our governor-elect when talking about his pledge to revoke the E-verify Executive order. Hey, he's honest, right? I guess that means we can be sure that a 1% sales tax increase is coming. Yippee.

October 8, 2010

The Goal Is to Silence, Not to Oppose

Justin Katz

The opposition went to the immigration law enforcement rally, last Friday, dressed humorously to distract from their underlying intent, which is to prevent the public from hearing or understanding an argument with which they disagree:

Suddenly, demonstrators in polyester clown suits filed through security and entered the State House rotunda, carrying signs that said, "Clown Power," and "Clowntocracy."

At that point, the "Clowns for Immigration Law Enforcement" outnumbered Palumbo-bill supporters, whose critical mass never exceeded 50.

The clowns mocked the speakers with whoops and applause: "Peter Palumbo! Clown in Chief!" "Peter Palumbo! Clown in Chief!" "When I say 'Clown!' You say 'Power!'"

It's not surprising that, in the middle of a work day, it's easier to raise a crowd opposed to enforcing immigration law than supportive of it. More to the point, the intention here — as with protestors at the recent rally hosted by the National Organization for Marriage, in Providence — is to make it more difficult for a public conversation to be had.

Take away the "clown," and all they're shouting is "power."

August 10, 2010

Inanities But Not Sovereignty: The Wildly Upside Down Priorities of the Administration (and their Accomplices in Congress)

Monique Chartier

True to their misguided word in their lawsuit against Arizona that they lacked the resources to enforce our borders, the Obama administration has ordered ICE to cut way back on (Joe B, correct me if this is wrong) non-felony violations of our border.

The new guidelines are outlined in a June 29 memo from Assistant Secretary John Morton, who heads the agency, to all ICE employees regarding the apprehension, detention and removal of illegal immigrants, noting that the agency "only has resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the United States."

Mr. Morton said ICE needed to focus wisely on the limited resources Congress had provided the agency and would "prioritize the apprehension and removal of aliens who only pose a threat to national security and/or public safety, such as criminals and terrorists."

Don't we now have a border that is partially open? If you can get here, we won't deport you.

Though Senator Lindsey Graham has a record on illegal immigration that is checkered at best, certainly we can have the conversation that he proposes about birthright citizenship. I would agree with those who assert, for example, that the word "jurisdiction" in the Fourteenth Amendment may have been misinterpreted all these years.

More urgently even than that, however, can we ask both President Obama and Congressional pro-illegal immigration, anti-sovereignty advocates to explain why they have chosen to spend billions of dollars on the most inane pork and stimulus projects but are now sharply curtailing resources for one of their primary functions: preservation of this country's sovereignty and borders? Can we also ask them to please correct their terribly misguided priorities forthwith?

July 29, 2010

Clarifying a Point on Immigration

Marc Comtois

In my conversation with Matt last night about the Arizona immigration law court decision, I mentioned that I had come across an interesting point: that the Federal lawsuit against Arizona shows that comprehensive immigration reform probably won't work because the enforcement provisions of any such plan will be litigated (and thus implementation delayed) while the other aspects are enacted. Mark Krikorian is the one who posted about this and ascribed the point to Steve Camarota:

Any employer verification system will be challenged in court. So will any efforts to coordinate immigration enforcement with local police. Immigration lawyers also will fight every effort to detain more of their clients. Building new fencing and dealing with environmental and property rights issues at the border will involve legal battles. While in time these things almost certainly will pass legal muster, court injunctions and proceedings will hold up enforcement for years.

Borders, National and Educational

Justin Katz

Marc and Matt discussed (independently) immigration and education on last night's Matt Allen Show. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

July 12, 2010

Cost of Illegal Immigration to Rhode Islanders

Monique Chartier

My main focus with regard to illegal immigration has been its implications to US sovereignty and, with the recent rise in kidnappings and violence along the border, the personal safety of those who reside there.

It is not unreasonable, however, to also examine the more pragmatic impact that it has on Rhode Island wallets and public budgets. John Loughlin will be appearing on WPRO a little after 3 pm to discuss this with Buddy Cianci, along with Loughlin's recent visit to Arizona and other matters pertaining to Rhode Island and District One.

[Terry Gorman of RIILE kindly provided these figures from the indicated sources.]

Education -- As of 2004, the US Census Bureau estimates there were 8,740 students in RI schools who were illegal aliens or the US born children of illegal aliens. Multiply this by RIDE's figure of $23,000 annually to educate ELL's ( English Language Learners) and get $201,020,000. Now we need to add in the cost to educate the Special Needs students. If we include the additional cost of Special Needs students in this category - using the same percentage as the total student population - 20.1% of 8,740 = 1,756 X $22,000 = $38,600,000.

Total, Education $239,600,000
Incarceration -- As of 2008, there were over 200 inmates at the A.C.I. who were illegal aliens at a cost of $43,000 each annually. (Source: the Director of the A.C.I.) That's at least $8,600,000. Now subtract reimbursement from the federal government of $1,200,000.
Net total, Incarceration: $7,400,000

Medical Services -- In 2005, the Providence Journal estimated that 35% 0f Rite Care recipients were illegal aliens.

Fast forward to 2009 when the Rite Care budget for medical services was $357 million. (This represented an increase of only $1,000,000 over 2005 due to screening changes implemented by the Governor and D.H.S.) Take the ProJo's 35% and multiply it times $357,000,000.

Total, Medical Services: $124,950,000

Uncompensated care (compensation supplied by RI taxpayers) -- In 2008, the state paid a total of $138,000,000 (source: the state's budget) to RI hospitals for uncompensated care. Attempts to quantify how much of this was paid on behalf of illegal aliens (for purportedly emergency services only) is made difficult because, as Terry Gorman observes

RIILE is stymied in this area also by the refusal of the hospitals to divulge the number of U S Citizens and Legal Immigrants receiving this uncompensated care. This would reveal the actual number of Illegal Aliens for whom they are providing services.

So let's use what would seem to be a conservative percentage of one half. (Correction cheerfully made if and when hospitals are willing to release actual numbers.)

Total, Uncompensated CAre: $69,000,000

Jobs Taken -- Apply the estimate by the US Census Bureau and D.H.S. that 59% of illegal aliens in the United States are employed to a more conservative figure of 30,000 illegal aliens residing in Rhode Island.

Total, Jobs Taken: 17,700

Grand total: $440,950,000 annually plus 17,700 jobs

July 11, 2010

Really? State Officials Are Not Permitted to Enforce Federal Laws?

Monique Chartier

Presumably inspired by the Obama administration's lawsuit against the State of Arizona, commenter and Engaged Citizen David Potts, via e-mail, presents an interesting scenario.

Suppose a RI trooper is patrolling I-95 and he stops a motorist for speeding. As he approaches the offender's vehicle he sees a set of engraving plates for U.S. $100 bills sitting on the passenger seat. Does our hero a) detain the motorist and notify the Secret Service or b) consult his copy of the constitution and, realizing that punishing counterfeiting is a federal responsibility, issue a speeding ticket and send the motorist on his way?

In that vein, Adam J. White at the Weekly Standard hones in on the precedent that may prove to be a stumbling block for the plaintiff in the matter of The United States of America vs The State of Arizona.

The administration's primary obstacle is De Canas v. Bica (1976), in which the Supreme Court emphatically declared that federal immigration laws did not prohibit the states from enforcing the policies embodied by those federal immigration laws. (In that case, the state law was a California prohibition against the employment of illegal aliens.) The Court reviewed the text and history of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, and found no indication that "Congress intended to preclude even harmonious state regulation touching on aliens in general, or the employment of illegal aliens in particular." According to the Court, states may enforce laws consistent with federal immigration laws, so long as the state does not "impose additional burdens not contemplated by Congress."

July 4, 2010

Let's Be Clear: If You Oppose the Recent Changes to the Arizona Immigration Law, You Oppose United States Immigration Law

Monique Chartier

Because, see, the substance of the revisions to the Arizona law make it almost a carbon copy of the federal law. "Almost"; the Arizona law is actually less harsh than the federal law because, unlike with federal law, Arizona officials cannot simply walk up and ask someone for their papers.

And, did you know that the Arizona law includes the following provisions? [Emphasis and editorial comment added.]

Page 2:


Page 6:

The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.

Page 16:

The terms of this act regarding immigration shall be construed to have the meanings given to them under federal immigration law. [Again, emphasizing that this law is based upon federal law.]

C. This act shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.

I point this out both because there has been widespread confusion about the Arizona law, reaching as high as the White House, and for the edification of two Rhode Island candidates in particular: Anthony Gemma, candidate for the first Congressional district and Ken Block, candidate for governor. A transcript of the portion of Mr. Gemma's recent appearance on the WPRO Buddy Cianci Show dealing with the Arizonal law is posted after the jump.

Mr. Gemma is a nice man. But the transcript reveals that he is clearly in way over his head on the matter of illegal immigration: he is unaware that the United States already has in place a path to citizenship (and has had for decades) and he doesn't even understand the concept of birthright citizenship. Yet lacking a full understanding of the issue, he inexplicably proceeds to voice an opinion on it.

And, while Ken Block appears to warily support Governor Carcieri's Executive Order on e-verify, he describes the Arizona law (thank you, Andrew, for attending, recording and transcribing) as "assinine" and "xenophobic".

Shall we take two? Do both of these gentlemen - and everyone who opposes the Arizona law - stand by their reservations now that they are aware that the law is simply a less rigorous version of federal immigration law?

Continue reading "Let's Be Clear: If You Oppose the Recent Changes to the Arizona Immigration Law, You Oppose United States Immigration Law"

June 24, 2010

RI Governor 2010 - Immigration Reference Chart

Marc Comtois

Based on Andrew's reporting as well as the ProJo and the GoLocalProv accounts, here is a quick reference chart detailing the 2010 RI Gubonatorial candidates' stance on four key Immigration related issues: Governor Carcieri's 2008 Executive Order, E-Verify, in-state college tuition for the illegal/undocumented, and the Arizona Immigration law.

Carcieri Exec orderAgainstAgainstAgainstApproveQualifiedQualifiedApprove
College TuitionApproveApproveQualifiedApproveQualifiedAgainstAgainst
Arizona LawAgainstAgainstAgainstAgainstAgainstQualifiedApprove

* Giroux - Not ready for an in-state tuition program, though implies eventual support.
** Block - Would tweak the language of the executive order to ensure no racial profiling. Approves of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who are in the process of becoming legal.
***Robitaille - Supports Executive Order, but would use the Florida secure communities model instead of 287(g). Would consider some components of AZ law for RI, but states are different.

June 15, 2010

The First County of Aztlan

Justin Katz

This is stunning, and it ought to be thrown in the faces of those North Easterners who point their sanctimonious, oh-so-tolerant fingers at Arizona. Swaths of land within our borders are being closed to Americans because the invasion of illegal-immigrant smugglers, human traffickers, and drug runners from Mexico has simply made them too dangerous.

Perhaps Rhode Island should send Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed and Speaker of the House Gordon Fox there on a fact-finding mission.

June 8, 2010

Spend to Punish

Justin Katz

In response to the Providence City Council's useless declaration condemning Arizona's controversial immigration law, Domenick Fabrizio, of Cumberland, has a suggestion:

Since this city council wants to use economics to punish Arizona, my wife and I have decided to draw an economic line in the sand. We've decided to boycott organizations in Providence that we have frequented for years, including the Barker Playhouse, the Providence Performing Arts Center, the Providence Place mall, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and several restaurants.

We urge others who agree with us to do the same.

The first consideration ought to be the state of the economy, and anything that hinders that is inadvisable. More deeply, though, an economic boycott in response to the foolishness of city officials seems to punish the wrong people; those who are actually out there being productive are probably not the decisive factor in electing such goons. Of course, one must adjust for the left-leaning inclinations of the specific industries, mainly in arts and entertainment, that Fabrizio lists. Increasing economic pain and government dependency would conceivably have an opposite effect to that desired, when it comes to electoral politics.

So, don't boycott. Spend more, but in targeted fashion in order to encourage business and maybe to put money into the hands of folks who'll support a change of government in the city.

June 2, 2010

Re: The Legislative Leadership Is Not Nearly As Powerful as our Rank and File Legislators Let Them Be

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Karen Lee Ziner of the Projo, the e-verify bill that was recommitted to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee last evening had 19 co-sponsors, exactly half of our 38-member Senate...

[Senator Marc Cote] said he felt so strongly about, and had such support for his bill (19 co-sponsors) that he decided to invoke a parliamentary procedure apparently last used in 1995. That rule, 6.5, allowed him to put the bill on the calendar without committee deliberations, circumventing years of resistance to a floor vote.
A few Senators were absent from the floor session last evening, so we don't know if supporters of the bill comprised a majority of those present and voting, but we do know that a roll-call vote should be used when the numbers are this close. The question is, besides waiting for the Peter Palumbos and the Marc Cotes to wait too long to take action yet again next year, can anything be done now?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. The antidote to politics is often politics. If the 19 co-sponsors are serious about their responsibilities as elected members of a legislature which is supposed to be engaged in deliberative decision making, they should announce publicly that they can no longer support current Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed in any future Senate leadership election, on the grounds that she is unable to carry out the basic responsibilities of her position in a manner consistent with the principles of majority rule.

    Of course, this will not occur if we have a bunch of Senators who are happy to give away to someone else the legislative responsibilities that they have been entrusted with by their constituents, in which case the willingness of legislative candidates to support leaders who will not allow their votes to be counted becomes a legitimate campaign issue, i.e. a vote for Christopher Maselli is a vote for Teresa Paiva-Weed, and a vote to let Teresa Paiva-Weed make all of the important decisions that Christopher Maselli should be making.

  2. However, Senator Marc Cote and the other primary sponsors of this year's e-verify bill (including Republicans Leo Blais and David Bates) need to be asked why they were unprepared to exercise their rights to have their votes included as part of the record, and specifically, if they really had a majority, why they did not bring the e-verify bill out of committee via the procedure specified in Senate rule 6.10, which would have required that every Senator wanting to speak on the subject to be heard at least once, before a vote on a motion to recommit could be taken.

  3. Finally, it is worth making a note of a quirk of the Senate rules, which Senators who are serious about the principle that votes need be counted when a legislative body makes a decision (if there are any) could use today. RI Senate rules allow for a motion to reconsider a bill. However, the rules are explicit that a motion to reconsider must be offered on the same legislative day that the original vote was taken, so this is not what I am suggesting. There is also a provision in the Senate rules allowing a Senator to change his or her vote (with permission of the majority of the Senate) again provided that the request for a change is made on the same day as the original vote. And there is also a provision in the Senate rules that allows any Senator to have his vote recorded in the Senate Journal on matters where the roll was not called but without any expressed time-limit on when this right can be invoked. So if there are a majority of Rhode Island State Senators who wanted to pass the e-verify bill that was killed by the leadership last night, they should at the earliest available opportunity exercise their right to enter into the Senate Journal how they voted, and make the Senate leadership's undemocratic action a part of the official public record.

    This assumes, of course, that we have Senators who are more interested in good government than in obedience to Senate leadership. But if nothing else, wouldn't you like to see Democratic Majority Leader Daniel Connors respond to Senators asking to have their votes recorded by hopping out of his seat and shouting that counting votes is out of order in the Rhode Island legislature; individual votes don't matter here.

May 25, 2010

Speaker Fox Does a Volte Face on Hearing Palumbo's Arizona-style Illegal Immigration Bill (But the Rally is Still on Thursday)

Monique Chartier

Question for State House observers: is it true that this is the first time that a bill has been pulled after it was scheduled for a hearing?

House Speaker Gordon D. Fox decided Monday that Rep. Peter Palumbo’s controversial Arizona-style bill on immigration will not be heard this session.

"The speaker opposes this and feels it’s better addressed federally. We’re not going to hear it this year," said Larry Berman, spokesman for the House of Representatives. Palumbo could not be reached for comment.

The bill filed by Palumbo, D-Cranston, mirrored legislation signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last month that is considered the toughest such law in the country. It would require the police to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful stop "where reasonable suspicion exists" that they are in the country illegally, and would criminalize failure to carry alien registration documents.

Pro-illegal immigration advocates were to have held a rally late this morning in Central Falls, inexplicably terming this a victory over racial profiling. Inasmuch as the model for Palumbo's bill, the Arizona law, and the original template, the federal immigration law, have nothing whatever to do with racial profiling, they will be celebrating, not a hollow victory, but a completely non-existent one.

By the way, the rally at the State House 4 pm Thursday in support of this bill and of silly notions like sovereignty and honoring those immigrants who respected our process to come here is decidedly still on.

May 23, 2010

"Arizona Sing-A-Long": The Importance of Reading

Monique Chartier

(... the AZ law before commenting on it). H/T NewsBuster's Noel Sheppard.

On a slightly more serious note, Rep Peter Palumbo's bill to bring the "Arizona" - aka, the US federal - immigration law to Rhode Island will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee late Thursday afternoon.

May 2, 2010

Reform? or Abolish? What is the Real Goal?

Monique Chartier

A couple of points for commentators and advocates who are happily parroting the lies of the msm (Heather MacDonald at City Journal sets the record straight) to vilify the new Arizona law and, purportedly, to demand reform of our federal laws.

1.) The Arizona law was carefully written to mirror federal immigration law, which had already included the requirement, for example, that legal immigrants carry papers on them at all times and specifically does not permit arbitrary fishing expeditions for illegal immigrants, whether they are driving down the road or out for ice cream with their family. (Shame on you, Mr. President, for creating this myth.) This leads inexorably to the question: is the real objection here to the existence of any kind of immigration law?

2.) Foreign Policy magazine points out that, despite what you might think from all of the wailing and breast-beating, neither the United States nor Arizona has particularly harsh immigration laws. On their list - which inexplicably does not include Mexico - of the top five, they name Italy and Switzerland, but not the US. Again, is it possible that what advocates find harsh is the mere existence of borders and a very reasonable immigration law?

April 29, 2010

The Citizen, the Legal, and the Illegal

Justin Katz

In her Providence Journal column, yesterday, Froma Harrop inadvertently illustrated the problem that America has resolving the illegal immigration problem. Regarding Arizona's new immigration law:

Stopping brown people in the street is not the way to address the problem. The great majority of illegal immigrants come for work. Though they shouldn't be here, these are mostly good people supporting their families. These poor folk deserve to be treated humanely.

Notice how Harrop casually elides illegal immigrants with legal immigrants and citizens who might be profiled. The bottom line is that conservatives think, for good reason, that all talk of compassion and comprehensive reform are cover for amnesty. We don't need "comprehensive" reform. We need enforcement of currently existing laws and a decrease in incentive to come to and live in the United States illegally.

If we penalize people for hiring from among the illegal population and if we decrease the comfort of living in this country without permission, we can begin to reverse the flow. That, by the way, is rightfully a state and federal endeavor. Don't let the Democrats turn Arizona into an excuse to reach for their wish-list of immigration lunacy.

April 25, 2010

The Immigration on Which We Agree

Justin Katz

Amity Shlaes' Saturday op-ed on immigration gives the impression of suggesting something controversial regarding a way in which immigration could help to save Social Security, but when the reader gets to the following, it turns out to be something not very controversial at all:

Here's where demography morphs from enemy to friend. Suppose we adopt the partial fix above. At the same time, the government hands out hundreds of thousands of green cards to skilled workers, the sort of talent that companies such as Microsoft, Wipro, Intel and Infosys sponsor.

Make the rules for receiving those visas liberal enough that immigrants can get them with minimum hassle and can, eventually, become citizens. Since these skilled immigrants will earn more than the average immigrant, or even the average worker, they will pay more payroll taxes.

At least to my experience, nobody argues that the United States should not seek to cull the cream of the world's crop. The dispute is over the degree to which we should strive to be so selective — read, by some, as "discriminatory." It's peculiar, therefore, to argue that immigration could save Social Security without stressing, above all, as the primary point, that America needs to focus on a particular type of immigration policy.

We'll realize any number of benefits if we manage that cultural, intellectual shift.

April 24, 2010

Two Troubling Aspects of President Obama's Reaction to the New Arizona Illegal Immigration Law

Monique Chartier

... and all the more troubling because, as the Arizona law is a carbon copy of federal law, they reflect his views on the issue of illegal immigration.

The first is the basis of his objection.

Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. ... And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans ...

Illegal immigration pertains to the critical matter of sovereignty as tangibly manifest in the integrity of the border. It is also a matter of compliance with law (the enforcement of which constitutes genuine fairness). That the president chooses to frame this, instead, as a vague, emotional appeal to "fairness" indicates that sovereignty and the integrity of the border are secondary priorities to him. This is a problematic and disturbing mind-set for the occupier of the highest elected office in the country.

Also troubling is the solution that President Obama proposes in place of simply enforcing current federal immigration law. Far from being a responsible action by the federal government, "comprehensive immigration reform'', more accurately described as amnesty for illegal immigrants currently in the United States, would only exacerbate and accelerate illegal immigration to the United States.

Indeed, Mr. President,

... we can all agree that when 11 million people are living here illegally, that's unacceptable.

But contrary to what you propose, the solution is not to flip a switch and simply make legal what was illegal. This would only guarantee the permanent breach of our sovereignty by encouraging millions more to come here to wait for our misguided officials to pass yet another mass amnesty after this one. The answer is to enforce existing immigration laws, particularly those pertaining to employment and social benefits. Our immigration laws are not "broken", as you wrongly assert. They merely lack for a sufficient number of elected officials with the will to enforce them.

March 13, 2010

If They Can Make Their Voice Heard in November, Then They Don't Need Immigration Reform, Do They?

Monique Chartier

It appears that immigration reform, more honestly known as amnesty (which would be the eighth in recent history, one of the bases for the heavy scepticism of claims that "We're just allowing these 12-20 million and no more!") has hit a roadblock, at least this legislative year. From Josh Gerstein at Politico.

A pair of White House meetings Thursday designed to chart a path forward for immigration reform instead spotlighted the daunting obstacles ahead — and showed why many Capitol Hill insiders believe it’s quite unlikely an immigration bill will happen this year.

After meeting with President Barack Obama, the leading Republican backing a comprehensive approach warned that a Democratic health care push could scuttle any chance of action on immigration in this Congress.

“I expressed, in no uncertain terms, my belief that immigration reform could come to a halt for the year if health care reconciliation goes forward,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement issued just after he and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met with Obama.

And, of course, Democrats are hell-bent on passing health care via reconciliation, no matter how many billions of our money they have to spend or print on ... er, unique Medicare billing arrangements for a couple of lucky states or on completely unrelated items such as student aid.

One of the responses by advocates of illegal immigration to this set back has been, somewhat inexplicably, "Remember in November".

“One of the things that we are going to be telling the immigrant community is that they have a vital stake in the outcome of this debate, and they need to make their voices heard in November,” said Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union.

(Side note: shame, shame on all of those labor union leaders who have put the best interest of the members that they purport to represent a distant second to an unspoken but clearly selfish consideration by advocating for amnesty.)

Why would an "immigrant" who can vote support immigration reform? He or she would not need immigration reform, having completed the immigration process legally and admirably and being so far along that s/he now has the right to vote. In fact, immigration "reform" is an insult to all who came here legally. Is the advocating of this course - letting voices be heard in November - further confirmation, as though any were needed, of the imperative for voter identification?

February 18, 2010

Remitting the Market

Justin Katz

In reading Karen Lee Ziner's summary of a report about immigrants' financial remittances to their home countries, it's tempting to muse about the use of public universities to generate content for political think tanks:

The report, "Many Happy Returns: Remittances and their Impact," by political science professor Kristin Johnson, was released Tuesday by the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council in Washington. ...

Among the report's conclusions: remittances — whose recipients are among the most impoverished sectors of the population in developing countries — increase the consumer capacity of those individuals; help build financial infrastructure and provide otherwise unavailable micro-financing for small businesses.

Remittance outflows also dramatically increase the pool of possible foreign consumers for U.S. goods; contribute to economic stability in developing countries; and increase profits of financial companies and banks through increasing reliance on electronic fund transfers.

Having read the report itself, it's difficult to characterize it as anything other than an extended opinion piece. At no point does it provide a straightforward table of remittances to particular regions corresponding with changes in product exports to the same regions. Instead, the reader gets such factoids as this:

Remittances to Mexico reached their peak in 2006, at nearly $6.2 billion dollars, and in 2007, Mexico was one of the top three global remittance recipients.

Which contrasts peculiarly with this, later in the document:

Export increases from three states that comprise over half of U.S. trade with Mexico also increased substantially from 2005‐2008; Texas realized $50 million in exports to Mexico in 2005 which rose to $62 million in 2008, with an increase of 10.9% from 2007 to 2008 alone.

Apart from the huge disparity in the dollar numbers, themselves, it's curious that money transfers to Mexico began to decrease after 2006, but Texan exports to the country increased in subsequent years. Where's the correlation?

In a general way, it makes an intuitive sense that money sent to poor countries might help the global economy. Residents in developed nations might waste or store away wealth, whereas the residents of poorer nations have incentive to make the most of every dollar — whether being judicious in their expenditures or finding ways to compound the value of resources through investment and business activity. But those sending the money out of the wealthier nation are not likely to be among its wealthier workers. Moreover, to the extent that increases in the immigrant population decrease the wages of low-end workers, the domestic effect is likely to be an upward flow of wealth away from Americans who share the incentive to use their income efficiently.

These are all mere considerations; there are a number of ways to adjust the balance in a reasonable way. The clincher, for me, is from a global perspective: There's a reason some nations export their workers and derive significant portions of their national income from remittances. They aren't, themselves, conducive to economic activity, whether for reasons of corruption or a lack of regional resources (most often the former, I'd wager). In other words, on a larger scale, remittances are a poor investment propping up social structures that deserve to fail and to be refigured.

January 30, 2010

Protesting on Behalf of Vanity

Justin Katz

So, from this report, the situation appears to be as follows: A bookstore/cafe serving Yale in New Haven is happy to hire immigrants and makes a point of helping them to learn English — a sure social and economic advantage.

However, when owner Charles Negaro made it company policy that English should be spoken in publicly accessible areas of the establishment, the Ivy League community rushed to illustrate its own vapidity. Ostensibly on behalf of the workers, people are protesting and boycotting the business that employs them.

I say "ostensibly" because the real motivation for such protest is the petulant vanity of people with too much time and too narrow a perspective.

January 5, 2010

Prudential Differences from Pulpit to Pew

Justin Katz

Whenever the issue of immigration comes up with some reference to religious groups, especially where Roman Catholic clergy are involved, somebody inevitably calls in to talk radio to declare that it's really just a scheme to increase the number of church-going Hispanics. The claim is more cynical than is merited, but to the extent that such considerations potentially play a subconscious role, Mark Krikorian points out another dynamic that should be considered:

The three Christian groups had remarkably similar views, with born-agains slightly more hawkish and Catholics slightly more dovish, as you'd expect; in any case, overwhelming majorities thought overall immigration was too high and preferred attrition over legalization as a way to deal with the current illegal population. While Jews were most permissive, again as expected, even there a plurality preferred attrition, and ten times more said immigration was too high as opposed to too low. These views are the opposite of the leadership of the various denominations, which uniformly, and with increasing stridency, support amnesty and increased immigration.

Given that the difference of opinion between religious leaders and followers spans denominations and even religions, the underlying cause seems more likely to be one of perspective than of self-interest:

Overwhelming majorities of all groups [of lay people] thought illegal immigration was caused by inadequate enforcement rather than by limits on legal immigration, and also that there are plenty of American workers to fill low-skilled jobs, if the wages and working conditions were improved, as opposed to needing to increase legal immigration.

Perhaps church leaders should adjust their prudential judgment in light of the experience of their flocks, who by the nature of their vocations, spend more time interacting with the economy. By advocating for increases in the nation's low-end workforce, as well as for social welfare and amnesty policies as incentive for crossing our border by any means possible, clergy are helping to suppress the economy's ability to improve working and living conditions for everybody.

January 4, 2010

The Right Immigration

Justin Katz

As frequently as right-wingers have to insist that they aren't opposed to immigration, per se, we have to begin making a better effort to tie our views on the discrete issue to our broader understanding of culture and economics. Reuven Brenner puts it well:

The histories of Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and West Germany have much in common with that of Amsterdam. In each of these places, the state provided a relatively decent umbrella of law and order compared with what was offered by neighbors. This gave people a greater stake in what the business society was doing: attracting immigrants and entrepreneurs from around the world. In turn, the influence of these critical masses of talent radiated around the world and made people richer in distant places, too. Other places such as Malaysia and even Australia and Europe, as hard as their governments have tried with massive investment funds to create venture capital, have not been as successful. You need the vital few in a tolerant environment to properly deploy that capital. If a place does not attract them, governments create statistical venture capital but not real capital. It's the ability to attract and retain talent that sheds light on the above miracles.

A leftist spin on this observation might be that "a relatively decent umbrella of law and order" must include a safety net that protects residents from calamity and union-built gates that prevent backsliding. In order to gain those features, however, a society must turn its government into a thief. The immutable reality is that productive, innovative people who are also selfish will avoid regions that siphon their money away, and productive, innovative people who are not selfish do not need a government intermediary to ensure their charity.

Failing to craft immigration policies that favor the immigrant population that Brenner presents as high-value human capital strains safety nets while giving "the vital few" reason to fear that they will not be permitted to harvest the fruits of their hard work. Sensitivity about discrimination (neutrally intended) may have a salutary effect on self-image, but it really isn't healthy for anybody involved.


Brenner works his way through an interesting parenthetical note that's worth considering:

These policies no longer fit today's more mobile world. Until they are changed, however—and the sooner, the better—the least the United States can do is try, explicitly, to attract the vital few to its shores and, at the same time, speed up the domestic production of talent. (This is achievable by reducing the number of years youngsters spend in school.)

A disposition toward contrary conclusions makes this suggestion particularly attractive in an environment in which one is more likely to hear of a need for schooling to begin at a younger age, with longer days, and through more-advanced degrees. (Of course, one must pay attention to the parties making those declarations.) If we're looking to foster self-motivation and innovation, though, our society ought to provide exits for young generations to blaze their own paths.

December 13, 2009

A Constituent Speaks out on Kennedy's Studied Indifference to Illegal Immigration

Monique Chartier

In today's Providence Journal, Deloris Issler of Cranston enumerates the ways that Congressman Patrick Kennedy poorly serves his district and the state with his views on illegal immigration and opposition to e-verify.

To this, I would only add, without snideness or rancor, that the Congressman does not enhance his image in the area of intelligence if he has, in all seriousness, mistaken racism for heart-felt concerns about budgets, jobs, sovereignty and the exploitation of undocumenteds.

Rhode Islanders are accustomed to being embarrassed by Patrick Kennedy, but his recent performance was particularly disgraceful. His opposition to an amendment requiring the use of E-Verify to prevent illegal aliens from receiving Federal Employee Health Benefits is indefensible.

Kennedy’s hostility toward the enforcement of immigration law exacerbates the problem of foreigners entering the U.S. illegally by giving them an incentive. His offensive tantrum in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on H.R. 2517 sends a clear message to illegal aliens. If they break U.S. laws long enough, we will overlook it, concede to their crimes, and give them benefits reserved for America citizens.

Kennedy gives tacit approval to swim, run, or crawl across our borders illegally and citizenship by entitlement to anyone that does. He jeopardizes the safety of those who protect our borders and undermines their efforts. Kennedy finances this through double-taxation of U.S. citizens who pay for homeland security in addition to housing, medical care, food and education for illegal aliens. It does not matter that taxpayers object, he simply refuses to meet with them.

That’s okay.

Patrick, you will hear our voices in our votes.

November 21, 2009

Transforming Society to the Aristocrats' Tastes

Justin Katz

Perhaps you've come across this already, but information divulged by a former senior adviser to the British government is worth considering, here across the pond:

The [reports from the Performance and Innovation Unit, Tony Blair's Cabinet Office think-tank] were legendarily tedious within Whitehall but their big immigration report was surrounded by an unusual air of both anticipation and secrecy.

Drafts were handed out in summer 2000 only with extreme reluctance: there was a paranoia about it reaching the media.

Eventually published in January 2001, the innocuously labelled "RDS Occasional Paper no. 67", "Migration: an economic and social analysis" focused heavily on the labour market case.

But the earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.

I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended - even if this wasn't its main purpose - to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date.

In other words, borders were opened up both to transform the society toward the aesthetic preferences of its ruling class and to shift demographics' role in national politics. Working- and middle-class Americans — perhaps union members, especially, given the uses to which their dues are put — should pay attention:

Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing. For despite Roche's keenness to make her big speech and to be upfront, there was a reluctance elsewhere in government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour's core white working-class vote.

November 17, 2009

Liveblogging Tonight's Immigration Forum

Carroll Andrew Morse

I'm on the Brown University Campus, where a panel of Rhode Island all-stars is preparing for a panel discussion on the issue of immigration.

Panelists include RI State Senator Juan Pichardo, Judge Roberto Gonzalez, former U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, RI State Representative David Segal, and Reverend Donald Anderson. Moderator will be Professor Wendy Schiller of Brown.

Audience members include Terry and Karin Gorman and Joe Bernstein.

Brown undergrads will present 3 views of immigration, "families first", "economy first", and "security first".

FFirst: Focus on family reunification, remove arbitrary per-country annual limits, "regularize" illegal immigrants (and make their income taxable). Border enforcement does not work -- it just makes the journey more dangerous. Enforcement within the US is even more disconcerting; violates civil liberties and leads to profiling. "Guest worker" programs should be ended.

EFirst: Immigrants play central role in keeping the US economically competitive. Immigrants take jobs that Americans won't take. Falling fertility rates mean that immigrants are needed to prevent a labor shortage. Hospitality, food-service and construction need low-skill immigrant labor. Costs of services and goods would increase if immigration was limited. High-skilled immigrants are important too. "Regularize" illegal immigrants and expand guest worker programs. Abolish e-verify.

Andrew editorializes: Other than the guest worker position, I don't see much difference between EF and FF.

SFirst: Concentration of Spanish-speaking immigrants leads to social isolation. They don't share the "Protestant Work Ethic" (I'm just reporting here.). Bi-lingual education eats up resources that could be used otherwise. If we can't control the border, we don't know who may come in. Drug and human traffickers take advantage of an open border. Immigration must be curtailed, until we can absorb the 35 million illegal immigrants who are already here. Significant resources should be used for border control, state and local police forces should be used as a force multiplier.

Over to the panel...Intros just finished...

Schiller throws out 3 questions. Andrew types only fast enough to record 2. What is the top immigration policy priority for the nation? What is you view on movements by "some groups" to discourage participation in the census? (Backfill: 3rd question was how might the RI priorities differ from Federal priorities)

Sen. Pichardo: Top priority is concentrating on comprehensive reform at the Federal level. RI priority is having a vibrant immigrant community and having family reunification. We also need stronger labor laws to protect workers. We need to help integrate the immigrant community by providing more services to them, for instance more state and local funding for English classes.

"We are a sovereign nation that must protect our borders", but we must do it in a humane way. And we can't do it with piecemeal policies -- we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Judge Gonzalez: We live in a society where lies and hate are promoted about immigrants. Praises removal of Lou Dobbs from CNN. Long history in this country of promoting the broken immigration system we have to today. Indigenous populations were decimated to make room for European settlers (I'm just reporting here). No need to apply for immigration papers in the past. CIA has toppled Latin American governments -- had the effect of making them poor and difficult to manage. Everyone agrees the immigration system is broken. We can do this if we're all honest about what the issues are (though I'm not sure the preceding commentary a great example of that.) Not convinced that an open border is a security problem.

Now a strange pivot: The Judge is not sure that legalizing immigrants is the "moral" thing to do, but it's good for the economy. Prof Schiller cuts him off, for time...

Currently Without Title Corrente: All 3 perspectives must be considered simultaneously, for both political and policy effectiveness reasons. Ignoring any perspective will just bog down the debate. Instead of surrounding the headquarters of ICE after an enforcement action, people should surround the capitol and demand better laws. It's unfair to blame the people enforcing the laws for the problems with our immigration system. A fence cannot solve the problem -- the full infrastructure needed of border security is an unbelievable expense. But knowing who is entering and leaving the country is critically important. ICE was the agency that was first to identify the September 11 attackers.

It's way past time for comprehensive reform. The current Napolitano proposal is similar to what was offered before.

Mayor Avedisian: Endorses Corrente's all-3-at-once view. Takes on census question -- declining to participate won't punish elected officials, it punishes residents. All kinds of grant money is based on census figures (and even one of our Congressional seats may be at risk in RI). Napolitano proposal is short on specifics; the Mayor is disappointed by the lack of detail. Family reunification issues need a framework that has latitude for case-by-case consideration.

Rep. Segal: Need census participation, so we can ultimately take civil-rights issues to the courts (I'm just reporting here). We're a stable and attractive country, but US policies have encouraged instability elsewhere. Ethnic enclaves aren't really a problem, they have been a source of strength and pride in RI, cites Rhode Island's portuguese community as an example.

Rev. Anderson: Addresses the Judge directly; every aspect of immigration is a moral issue. Our Senators and Congressman lack the courage to do the right thing, because they are too concerned about getting re-elected. A pathway to citizenship should be the priority. If more immigrants looked like his own ancestors did, the issue might not be such a big problem (Computer acting up -- I'll have to backfill in a little bit.)....

(I got up to ask a question here, so I wasn't able to liveblog the first few questions. When it was my turn, I asked Rev. Anderson about whether the use of the term "undocumented" in its various forms could be taken to mean that citizenship meant only having the proper documents. Rev. Anderson answered that there indeed was much more to citizenship. More on this to come in the near future.).

Wendy Schiller asks Joe Bernstein a question (I'll explain later): What one thing would you change in immigration law if you could? JB: Deportation of illegal aliens who commit crimes. And people who want the law enforced shouldn't be characterized by a handful of bigots [Backfill: Joe B. had taken offense to the characterization of immigration enforcement agents as using "Gestapo tactics", which I believe had been mentioned during the question-and-answer period, and related several personal experiences as to why he thought that was inaccurate, leading Prof. Schiller to ask him what he would change if he could."])

Terry Gorman also objected to the assumption of racist motivation to people who want the law enforced. Rev. Anderson answers that there is an "atmosphere" out there that could lead to problems. Gorman answers with the example of Newport; there are a large number of illegal immigrants there of European origin, and he wants the law enforced there as much as anywhere else.

Closing statements:

Sen. Pichardo: Debate cannot be piecemeal at the state level. It must be at the Federal level. E-Verify needs to be made more effective before it is implemented, and it should be a part of comprehensive reform. Everyone should participate in the census. Suggests a connection between the Governor rescinding his executive order and the census that I didn't quite follow (but the Senator is delivering a letter to the Governor tomorrow that will explain things).

Judge Gonzalez: We need to sift the hate, racism and xenophobia out of the debate (but tells Terry Gorman that he's not talking about him). There are technical and procedural problems with E-Verify. The state shouldn't be trying to work out solutions to what is a Federal problem. Also, he explains what he means by Gestapo tactics -- bring people out in irons during immigration raids, and pregnant women being shackled to their beds when delivering their babies.

(More technical glitches -- my touchpad is too sensitive, and I keep getting knocked to a different page, without stuff being saved. Justin, do you have this problem with your laptop?)

CWT Corrente: We can't afford as a country to have the immigration issue stall, as it has so far. We need a solution that address all of the concerns.

Rep Segal: It's a Federal issue, but the state legislature is having some success in helping the people who are here. (Another tech glitch -- not sure why these keep happening in the Segal/Anderson speakers bloc)

Rev. Anderson: Bypassess the "older" people to talk to the students. Immigration decisions affect real people. In the Kingdom of God, there are no second class citizens. We need to think about what put them in their current situations -- and if the roles were reversed we might understand their situations better. We have a moral responsibility that we have to live up to.

Apologies for the gaps. Signing off for now...

September 16, 2009

Principles Affirmed in Immigration

Justin Katz

Upon death, I expect to confront, in some fashion, my countless errors of thought and of faith and to regret the actions to which they led me. On some issue, perhaps a habit, many of us will find it difficult to resist the urge to defend long-held beliefs even in the face of divine correction.

If it turns out, for example, that annual amnesties of illegal immigrants are a morally necessary practice, the task would be not to defend opposing beliefs — arguing that we better understood fairness in life than God — and to desire truly to understand why the option that seemed so wrong to us was, in fact, fair. I tremble to say it, but I'm wary of Bishop Tobin's confidence that our individual final judgment will hinge on our correctly identifying "the right side of the issue" of illegal immigration, and his implicit argument that "comprehensive immigration reform" is that side.

Granted, the bishop has strong scriptural support in Jesus' remonstration to welcome strangers as if they are He, and an Old Testament passage is a theologically weaker card to play, but I've been reading through Ezekiel, lately, and have been struck by God's tone when repeatedly instructing the prophet to warn the Israelites of their sins, here, for one example:

... anyone hearing but not heeding the warning of the trumpet and therefore slain by the sword that comes against him, shall be responsible for his own death. ...

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and fails to blow the warning trumpet, so that the sword comes and takes anyone, I will hold the watchman responsible for that person's death, even though that person is taken because of his own sin.

The amnesty, or "path of legalization," that Bishop Tobin urges seems not only to be welcoming strangers, but also to be confirming them in their implicit beliefs about boundaries and rules. Attempting to steal one's way into Heaven, while not inevitably punishable by eternal damnation, seems likely to be a more painful path to salvation, ultimately, than taking the steps as laid out.

This is not to say that we should consider admission to the United States to be comparable to admission into Heaven, but that the mindsets by which we live as individuals should mirror our spiritual mindsets. And in this, the position that the entire conference of bishops takes, in America, strikes me as having the same essential problem as the grammatical phrase, "comprehensive immigration reform." The first word of that phrase, when not applied purely for its beguiling sparkle, typically means "addressing multiple facets of the problem," but it seems ever to fall short of allocating responsibility to all who have erred. As I've argued before, a comprehensive spiritual policy on illegal immigration must also correct the immigrants in their errors of thought.

I'd look to my religious leaders to convince me that the appropriate reaction to circumstances should not include an instruction to illegal immigrants to be happy in their penance of returning to their countries and taking a legal approach. Bishop Tobin acknowledges that it is wrong to ignore "the law in coming to our nation," but he immediately nullifies that law as superseded by the "law of love." How could such a higher law fail to hold them accountable, as sentient human beings capable of understanding consequences?

Illegal immigration is surely not the greatest of sins, and there are myriad mitigating factors, but the one-way nature advocacy on behalf of such immigrants is hardly comprehensive. They are requesting special dispensations, and I have yet to see their advocates admonish them that it is critically important that that they prove themselves, from the beginning, to be desirous of earning full citizenship (by, for one thing, learning the language of the country) and acknowledge fully and humbly that they have trespassed.

Instead, we are told to affirm the apparent lesson of the last amnesty, a couple of decades ago: that rules don't really mean anything for the brash, and a society's inclination to love and care for others will inevitably lead them to adjust the rules in your favor. For every essay urging fellow Americans toward leniency, shouldn't there be one addressing the responsibilities and moral mindsets of those who would be its beneficiaries? After all, as attractive as it may be for them to become legal residents of the United States, it is of infinitely greater importance that they become members of the community of Heaven.

August 24, 2009

Following-Up the Newsmakers Follow-Up on Illegal Immigrants and Healthcare Reform

Carroll Andrew Morse

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse appeared on this week's Newsmakers program on WPRI-TV (CBS 12), offering substantive answers to some very good questions on healthcare reform asked by panelists Tim White, Arlene Violet and Ian Donnis. On at least one issue, however, the issue of how illegal immigrants are being addressed in the proposals currently being considered by Congress, viewers were left with a bit of ambiguity about the Senators' positions.

Tim White asked a question (originally posed by a viewer) on this subject and did his best to get a direct answer from Senator Whitehouse…

Tim White: Albert sent this via Facebook. He writes: "What are the unintended consequences of this reform. For example, I hear politicians state that nowhere in the reform does coverage include undocumented aliens but, conveniently, they don't state that nowhere (sic) are they are excluded either." This is, Senator Whitehouse, one of those hot-button issues. You got a lot of these questions last night. How about it, language to exclude illegal aliens…

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: I think it's clear enough to my satisfaction that this bill does not provide coverage for illegal aliens. A number of our colleagues in the Senate consider this to be a make-or-break issue, and they seem comfortable with it. I think we can safely say that this is not a bill that will provide Federal support for healthcare for illegal aliens.

TW: But would you support any specific language that excludes them?

SW: I have a bill that we've supported already, and it excludes them to my satisfaction. I'm comfortable that we're in the right place on that.

In his answer, Senator Whitehouse is referring to a Senate proposal different from the House bill (HR3200) which has generated much of the current discussion of the details of Congress' plans for health reform; for its part, HR3200 does not extend new coverage or subsidies to illegal immigrants.

But even if the Senate proposal copies exactly the approach of HR3200, the issue is still not a settled one. Writing in the Hill earlier this month, Congressman Lamar Smith expressed concern about HR3200's failure to define the kinds of eligibility verification procedures used in conjunction with other Federal entitlement programs -- and about active resistance from House Democrats towards adding those requirements…

The legislation contains no verification mechanism to ensure that illegal immigrants do not apply for benefits. Republicans offered an amendment to close this loophole — it would have required verification using the existing methods that are already in place to verify eligibility for other federal benefits programs. But, when they were asked to put the language of the bill where their words were, in a party-line vote, House Democrats rejected the amendment to require verification and close this loophole.
At an August 19 panel sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies, carried on C-SPAN, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation went into a bit more detail…
If we were to look at the current healthcare reform legislation, this takes an unprecedented step in opening up the US welfare system to illegal immigrants. Under the current law, really forever, we have had a system of identity checks that largely prevents adult illegal immigrants from getting on to these means-tested welfare programs. You have to be able to substantiate that you're in the country legally and you have to be able to substantiate, if you're a legal immigrant, that you've been here over the time-limits for eligibility.

The healthcare reform legislation turns that on its back and tramples it into the dust. It basically says we will not verify, we will not check….If you are going to do that with respect to healthcare, why would you not also establish the same precedent with respect to food stamps, to public housing, to the earned-income tax-credit and so forth, and I believe that that is indeed the direction that the Congress wants to go to, to allow all welfare benefits to be fully available to all illegal immigrants.

As health reform legislation moves forward, the relevant question concerning this issue is likely to be whether the eligibility verification requirements for new healthcare entitlements are at as least as stringent as the requirements on other means-tested Federal programs, and if not, why there is a difference.

July 28, 2009

A More Direct Route to Welfare

Justin Katz

Here's an eye-popper:

Josefina Lorenzi, 47, who has been imprisoned since her Dec. 11 arrest last year, was sentenced by Judge William E. Smith in U.S. District Court, according to acting U.S. Attorney Luis M. Matos.

Lorenzi pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme that used other names but her home address [to file false tax returns]. Lorenzi must surrender for deportation while on supervised release. She is an illegal immigrant, according to Thomas Connell, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Rhode Island. ...

Using a search warrant, agents said they found eight more refund checks totaling $22,526, payable to other people at Lorenzi’s Indiana Avenue home. Agents later found 27 more false returns.

The additional refund requests and prepared checks found in her home and the total money fraudulently sought came to $150,360.

The article doesn't explain whose names Lorenzi used (and a quick online search reveals no further information), but one thing that's obvious is that her scheme wouldn't even have been a possibility were the income tax a simple flat rate without the intricacies of prior withholding. Or, in this case, if the government expended a little bit of effort ensuring that the people with whom it deals are actually citizens.

July 24, 2009

Making Facilitators Pay for Illegal Immigration

Justin Katz

The story of the illegal immigrant in Florida who sustained heavy brain damage during a car accident is a tough one. On the one hand, we don't want a system that sweeps people who've been hurt under the rug because their immigration status is uncomfortable. On the other hand, making the hospital culpable for a lifetime of specialty care because it devoted $1.5 million to stabilize the injured man is plainly immoral and stands as a single example of one factor driving up costs that harm all Americans, especially when his family appears to have been content to leave him in the hospital.

Here's a crazy idea: Keep a national database of employers, landlords, and other folks who facilitate the continued presence of illegal immigrants — adjusted for the amount that they've benefited from that presence. Then, when cases like Luis Jimenez's arise, the bill could be divided among the parties on the list. If we could figure out a way to fairly place politicians on the list for their role in the broken system, the costs would be divided among a very significant number of payers.

June 7, 2009

After a Difficult Violent Roundtable, Part 2

Justin Katz

A second conversation in which sufficient articulation proved difficult on Friday night's all–Anchor Rising Violent Roundtable on the Matt Allen Show related to Matt's statement that the Catholic Church is in some respects an anti-American institution. Having such a strong statement catch one off guard doesn't make measured extemporaneous response an easy accomplishment, but upon reflection, I'd suggest that Matt is backing into a perilous political philosophy.

The Roman Catholic Church — any church, for that matter — should not be an "American" institution. The U.S.A. exists as an entity and as an idea; to the extent that an authentically American church were not redundant, it would be dangerous. A religion with policy conclusions in lock-step with the practice of the American idea would necessarily lend theological import to a quintessentially secular project. It would be a fundamental establishment of religion, marrying Church and State.

There is not only great value in, but essential need for cultural institutions completely separate from the reigning polity — with a source and structure of authority that is distinct from the nation's governmental strategy. Where members of the hierarchy are wrong in prudential matters, Catholics should discuss (even debate) the issues and argue for the Church's proper role, but all should realize that the Church's interests are not the same as the country's. Sometimes one will be wrong, or the human beings who guide it will step beyond their appropriate boundaries; sometimes the other will be the culprit; but that's reason to accept them as mutual ballast.

In an objective analysis, Matt's imputation of anti-Americanism on the part of the Church based on the public policies for which some of its representatives advocate is identical to the impulse of those within the hierarchy who wish overzealously to leverage the government's powers of taxation. Both sides judge and prescribe as if the two pillars of society ought to be more of a continuous support, in which the visibility of light is indicative of fatal cracks, not expected separation.

Let's not dilute anti-Americanism. I don't believe it is Matt's point of view that the Roman Catholic Church takes as its goal the downfall or diminution of the United States as a secular construct. The institutional Church has watched governments rise and fall throughout its history, and there are multiple bold lines between supporting policies that are arguably detrimental to the civic body and calling for the downfall of a Great Satan. An instructive distinction exists between President Ronald Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and Pope John Paul II's view of communism as "a medicine more dangerous than the disease itself" that became "a powerful threat and challenge to the entire world."

Both the United States of America and the Roman Catholic Church are centrally concerned with liberty. For one, it's liberty from oppression by people; for the other, it's liberty from oppression by sin and evil. Those concerned with either in particular should pay close attention to the other, but nobody should expect their requirements always to be the same, just as nobody should drive the two apart because one — accurately or erroneously — points in a different direction from time to time.

The project of post-Enlightenment conservatism (as we understand it today) is to layer balances and restraints against human nature, and theologically, the impulse to declare opposition amounts to a Church of Me, in which the individual pushes away a perspective that ought to be given credence. Here, the philosophical thread leads to a final point of contention on Friday night — namely, conservative wariness of populism — which I'll address after I've trimmed some hedges and made my way through the Sunday paper.

June 2, 2009

But What Are Immigrants Coming For?

Justin Katz

David Segal's phrasing of the motivation for immigration is telling:

Reasons for immigration vary year by year and generation by generation, but there are two basic themes: Flight from violence, and flight from destitution.

Whatever somebody's reasons for running from a place, it's not irrelevant to consider why they run to another place — in this case, the United States. Immigrants travel to the United States for freedom and opportunity — self governance — and unless we acknowledge that our nation has something of globally incomparable value, then we'll forget that precious qualities must be preserved. And if we forget that, then we just might follow the likes of Segal into confusion about how immigration policy can affect such preservation.

May 14, 2009

A Fair Hearing for E-Verify in the Senate?

Justin Katz

A comment from Joe Bernstein:

E-verify will not make it through the Senate.

It is "inexplicably" being scheduled for hearing before the Judiciary instead of Labor.

Why? Because Paiva-Weed knows she can't any longer just bury it, so she wants to make damn sure it gets voted down in committee. That won't happen in Labor.
Judiciary has a different makeup this session - apparently Raptakis and Blais, who would be good bets to vote for E-verify, have been replaced.

Goodwin and a new Senator, Erin Lynch, are on the panel, along with RHODA PERRY, CHARLES LEVESQUE, AND HAROLD METTS.

Do the math.

A question: Are there any rules governing which committee handles which bill, or is this yet another means by which the legislative leadership wields its power?

May 10, 2009

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Stalling - Advocates in Neutral

Monique Chartier

It looks as though President Obama is holding off on comprehensive immigration reform. Even if it would be more corect to append a "for now" to that sentence, the president is to be applauded for doing so.

What caught my eye was this.

"I'm just surprised at how muted the reaction has been to Obama's complete lack of action on immigration," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who said immigrant rights groups are giving Mr. Obama "a lot more slack than they would have given a President McCain."

Now why would that be? Is it because advocates of illegal immigration believe that the president will deliver comprehensive immigration reform, a.k.a. amnesty, in due course and they just have to be patient? Or is it just easier to hear "bad news" from someone whom you view as being on your team; i.e., because President Obama is a Democrat?

One example that comes to mind is President Bill Clinton signing welfare reform to minimal objection on any front. (Republican examples welcome; I'm sure they exist but am drawing a blank at the moment.)

May 7, 2009

Some Ideas on Immigration Reform

Marc Comtois

David Segal believes that illegal immigrants in Rhode Island have come here for the same reason as other, previous immigrant groups: Flight from violence, and flight from destitution. I agree. Further, he attempts to knock-down our current immigration restrictions by reciting a brief history of immigration to the U.S.: the hurdles, the hardships, the "Know-nothings", "no Irish need apply", With Out Papers, etc. This is all in an attempt to persuade that we need a better immigration policy than what we have now: one that was conceived--he contends--out of hatred:

And so I ask myself, do I want to uphold this legacy? Do I want to put a "no immigrants need apply" sign on the state of Rhode Island -- understanding that today's undocumented immigrants would be here entirely legally if they had come under the same regulations that were in place when the bulk of the Germans and Irish came, and when the first southern and eastern Europeans came? Do I want to strengthen pernicious regulations, born of hatred of my ancestors, and those of so many of my friends and colleagues?

Hell. No. Let's put an end to this terrible cycle. Let's welcome our new neighbors with open arms -- even the 2% of the population that's here without papers. Let's allow them to integrate, and allow them to work and to feed their families.

I'm also quite familiar with immigration history and I understand, though I don't entirely agree, with his broad sentiment. I also can relate to the compassion he exhibits: having visited many countries in my time in the Merchant Marine, I have witnessed first hand the poverty and violence so many try to escape. It would be a cold soul who didn't feel compassion for these human beings.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we might wish it so, we cannot harbor--or save--all of those in dire straits. And so, though some "pernicious regulations" were "born of hatred", many--if not most--were put in place for the purpose of maintaining what was deemed to be the national interest. Segal is right in that call for immigration restrictions were often couched in the worst kind of xenophobic rhetoric, but that was a symptom of the fear that Americans had when it came to keeping their jobs. In the early twentieth century, as the need for primarily unskilled labor decreased, the call for restricting that flow of labor increased. And very often, it was the follow-on generation of previous immigrants who were afraid of losing their jobs to the new waves of immigrants reaching American shores. For instance, while many "Anglo's" demeaned French-Canadians, the latter faced some of the stiffest resistance from 2nd or 3rd generation Irish who worked in the mills of New England.

I am sympathetic with Segal's desire to help out those in need--America has always reached out a hand--but the bottom line is that we have laws restricting immigration for good reason. There is only so much we, as a nation, can bear. That these laws have been repeatedly ignored by illegal aliens and those elected and appointed to uphold them is a major reason so many Americans--including legal immigrants who followed the rules--are angry and distrustful of any call for reform. They don't trust politicians and they don't trust business and they don't like rule-breakers. Their anger and fear can lead to hyperbole--including, perhaps, paranoia--but their reaction is often in response to those who recognize no rule, no border and will excuse those who enable breaking the rules. It offends the deep-seated sense of fair play held by Americans. When they hear "reform", they think, "let them off the hook."

Thus, the solution is not to ignore inconvenient rules, but to enforce them while seeking reform. That's why tightening restrictions first is so important: it displays a good faith effort at comprehensive reform. And while it's clear that we need immigration reform, it should be implemented with the best interest of the future of our country in mind. That's not being "nationalistic" or xenophobic, it's being responsible for current and future generations of Americans and fair to those who followed the rules as written, no matter how difficult or unfair.

So how do we get there? There can be no doubt that compromises will need to be made. There will always be naysayers, and no solution is perfect or will be the end-all, be-all. Yet, recent pieces by Gordon Crovitz, Michael Barone and Victor Davis Hansen all exhibit ideas that seem, if mixed and modified, could go towards what I think would be a broadly acceptable plan.

Crovitz's call to increase the amount of skilled workers we allow into the country would provide a benefit to our nation and our economy. Crovitz also thinks we need more unskilled workers, but I don't think he has a strong case to make, especially with today's economy. Barone agrees with the skilled-worker idea--noting we could use the Canadian or Australian model--and thinks perhaps a guest-worker would be acceptable to a majority of people. Hansen would allow for a path to citizenship, too.

[W]e say to the illegal alien: if you are working, if you have not committed a crime after arriving here illegally, and if you are willing to stay in a country that makes no special allowances for those who speak languages other than English or who claim some privileged ethnic heritage, then, yes, you can find a path to citizenship involving fines for your initial crime of breaking the law, and necessary background checks and testing of basic acquaintance with American citizenship.
Following such a path would help convince most Americans that illegal immigrants truly want--to use Segal's term--to "integrate."

Those who come to America to escape hardship should recognize that living in America is a privilege. As an American, they will enjoy all of the rights of a citizen, but they also must be made aware that there are duties and responsibilities that come with citizenship. That means we should expect them to obey the law, learn our culture, work hard, participate in the political process, and pay taxes. (Yes, I realize that many Americans who were lucky enough to be born here ignore some or all of these expectations: but it doesn't logically follow, ie; "you're being hypocritical," that we should make the same allowances--or mistakes--when it comes to new citizens). I think most immigrants would readily accept these expectations--these conditions--if it means the chance at a better life. We just have to require it of them.

Finally, learning the American culture does not mean we expect immigrants to forget their own or that their heritage is second class. However, none should forget that it is American culture that lay at the heart of this nation of opportunity. I agree that immigrants should be integrated into our country, but it is incumbent upon them to prove that they actually want to be integrated.

May 1, 2009

Tancredo in Pawtucket

Monique Chartier

Our coverage this time is courtesy of Joe Bernstein who, along with myself, was one of over a hundred in attendance at the event Wednesday night.

Joe walked right by me that night without saying "hi", not that I'm calling him a snob. But in his comments under Justin's post, Joe channelled and articulated my reaction to the substance of Tom Tancredo's remarks very well and has kindly agreed to let me post them. The balance of his comments, slightly edited, is left as color commentary of the event as a whole.

Crowley was easy to spot-he was the only protester who didn't look like he had just scrounged in a dumpster. I gave an appropriate comical gesture (non obscene) to his little camera, but I guess he chose not to display it because I was neither intimidated nor angry. It was amusing to watch this assemblage of feckless ****-ants trying to pass themselves off as the vanguard of the "revolution". There were about 100-120 attendees and maybe 30 or so protesters.They were all mostly empty headed young people or old {people} who looked like 60's protest retreads ...

The police did a good job of preventing vandalism to parked vehicles so beloved of these low*****. They were busy copying down our plate numbers, though. I'm terrified - eek!! They didn't chant the hey-hey, ho-ho garbage at least, so it was tolerable.

Tancredo was a good speaker and if he made any racist comments I must have missed that. I am no one's robot, so I may not be down with Tancredo 100%, but he certainly made a lot of valid points, and he really didn't seem to be driven by hate, but rather by love of country. The protesters sounded and looked pretty hateful. It must be tough for them getting up every and realizing what empty lives they lead,waiting for the next picketing event. ...

* * *

For what it's worth,Tancredo didn't even have a racist undertone to what he said. ...

Assimilationist thinking is quite anti-racist. The"multicultural" way of thinking which leads to an ethnic mosaic is a recipe for mutually hostile enclaves wiithin a larger society. Assimilation doesn't necessarily mean abandoning one's original culture, but it does require acceptance of the larger culture to some significant degree. Older immigrants may not be able to do this, but younger people (under 50) can and should for their own good and America's.

Maybe you want to belong to some world village. I don't. I will always believe in independent countries.

April 28, 2009

Thoughts on Immigration: Tancredo Here; Howard Down Under

Monique Chartier

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo will have two public appearances tomorrow in Rhode Island: the first, at 4:30 pm outside of the gate (outside because the college did not invite him to speak inside; there are conflicting reports as to how and why this came about) of Providence College; the second, at 7:00 pm at the Euart Post, 55 Overland Avenue, Pawtucket.

On the slightly different matter of immigration (as opposed to the illegal variety), in 2007, then Prime Minister of Australia John Howard changed the name of the "Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs" to the "Department of Immigration and Citizenship". Asked why he did so by The Corner's Peter Robinson, Mr. Howard replied

The whole idea of immigration is to make citizens. Multiculturalsim is a very confused credo.

April 16, 2009

An Important Distinction on the American Dream

Justin Katz

Semantic distinctions can be frivolous or they can be significant. Sometimes, as with Mart Martinez's letter supporting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, they point to an underlying difference in how people interpret something, like the American dream:

I support H-5353 because I believe in the American dream. The American dream is about rewarding those who work hard.

No. That wording implies that there's a pool of rewards and that Americans acknowledge the legitimacy of having an authority to dole them out. The American dream is about allowing people to keep the rewards that they earn and minimizing the obstructions to opportunity.

Education should not be a privilege, it should be the expectation of everyone who dreams of having a bright future.

An education requires an individual's work and commitment. It therefore cannot be an expectation, but an objective, and when one wishes it to be subsidized, those putting forward the money have a right to impose some limitations, such as legal residency in their society.

They may seem like minor differences on the surface, but often discussions run on endlessly around such pivot points.

March 22, 2009

Accuracy of E-Verify

Monique Chartier

In her statement to Anchor Rising, one of the bases for Lieutenant Governor Roberts' opposition to e-verify was accuracy. She is not the first to express such reservations. In fact, it is the most commonly voiced concern about the system.

Some easy research, however, would quickly allay these concerns. From the Department of Homeland Security:

Currently, approximately 96.1 percent of qualified employees are cleared automatically by E-Verify, and 99.6 percent of all work-authorized employees are verified without receiving a tentative nonconfirmation or having to take any type of corrective action.

March 9, 2009

Geoff Cook: Why I Need a Citizen's Voice

Engaged Citizen

[This Engaged Citizen post by Geoff Cook originally appeared on October 16, 2008.

To Geoff and the five hundred other people becoming naturalized citizens this morning at Veterans Memorial Auditorium: Congratulations and welcome to America.]

In a strange twist of coincidence, Tuesday, October 14, I went to ICE in Providence to take my citizenship exam. The coincidence? Monday the 13th was the 18th anniversary of my arrival to work on a winter program at a “summer” camp. I would never have guessed then that I would still be here now!

So why am I becoming an American citizen? Let’s be honest: there really is nothing wrong with being English. The ladies certainly love the accent (will I lose that if I pass?), and it certainly helps with my eccentricities. But after 18 years, I need to belong.

America is truly a great place, if you forgive the amount of people who are unable to make a decent cup of tea, and the American people have very big hearts. It's a shame you Americans sometimes forget that. If I were driving in front of you on I95 during the rush hour, you might kill me to be in my space, one car ahead, but if I came to you and told you I needed $10 for a meal, you'd find a $20, give it to me, and never expect it back.

I don't believe the USA has such a bad rap around the world as the media portrays. Of course, some friction comes from America sometimes forgetting its place in history. I was reading in a local newspaper about one of the oldest single room school houses in America being relocated in Portsmouth, RI. It dates back to the 1700s! Old? I smile. My old school back in England dates back to 1558, and some of the original buildings still stand! (I suspect some of the teachers I had were hired by the first headmaster.)

Sometimes, it’s true, America acts like the overweight uncle who comes to the barbeque, breaks things, and makes the children cry. How nice it is, though, to have that uncle by your side. By nature, this is a peaceful country; don't bother us, and we have no need to bother you. Always there to help in a crisis. Even when your enemies have an emergency, the USA has mobilized relief supplies and sent them to help those in distress.

So why Citizen Geoff? In a few short weeks this nation, my adopted home, will go to an election. I really need my voice to be heard. So many issues are at stake. Immigration, for one, with which I have first-hand knowledge. I've been through the system, and for that reason, I don't see why illegal immigrants should get a fast track or amnesty. I played by the rules, it isn't hard, and on a local level none of these immigration advocates have done anything for me. As for the governor's executive order regarding eVerify, well, I felt no more or less fear than before the order was enacted.

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Once again, the honest people, the working stiffs are getting stuck with the bill, ($700 billion) because the bleeding hearts wanted to help, insisting that everyone should be able to own a home. Why can’t people understand that there will be haves and have nots? It's an unfortunate fact of life, but with hard work and some common sense it doesn't take much to be a have. And how much have Dodd, Obama, Franks, and Reed skimmed off the housing industry? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the investigations into their culpability.

The direction of the country. I moved from a country with socialist values. I know my parents, who were both active union and Labour Party members, will be spinning in their grave, but the American system truly offers the opportunity to make your dreams come true. Away from my parents’ influence, I have finally had the chance to realize that Thatcherism was a good thing. Having seen the state of the British healthcare system, and how the U.S. government efficiently runs everything from Amtrak to the Post Office to Freddie Mac, I’m of the opinion that this country cannot afford government controlled health. It's bad enough that the government has its fingers in the banking system.

The tentacles of state need to be removed from the lives of public citizens, and I hope my tiny voice will be part of the larger chorus. Change is a good thing, but I don’t want Barack's type of change. See you in the voting booth!

January 17, 2009

Dutch Skaters, World Problems

Marc Comtois

In the Netherlands, the canals have frozen over for the first time in years and the Dutch are strapping on their skates and having a blast, albeit with a few bumps and bruises. But the politics are never far away, even in what you'd think would be a feel-good story. First, there's the environmental angle:

In the 19th century, when Hans Brinker, the hero of the novel in which he tries to win a pair of silver skates, coasted along Holland's ice, the canals froze almost every year. But water pollution and climate change have made this so rare that today a boy of 15, Brinker's age, may never have seen a frozen canal, or at least remember one. Until, that is, this year.
Then there is the cultural and political angle:
"For us, it's in our genes," said Gus Gustafsson, 68, a retired insurance executive, explaining why he and his wife had rushed out to buy new skates and take to the ice under a cloudless blue sky. "It was like a frenzy that came over people, including lots of kids, like my granddaughter, who is 5." With thousands of others, they skated northeast toward the cheese capital, Gouda, then toward Utrecht.

With an influx of immigrants, the country has been struggling to maintain what it considers its Dutch soul, and Gustafsson was one of many here who thought the skating experience enabled the Dutch to reconnect with their identity. "There were only Dutch people on the ice," he said. "I saw no people of Arab descent."

But Andre Bonthuis, who has been mayor in this town of 23,000 people for the past 20 years, said he had seen Indonesians and Moroccans, among other newcomers to the Netherlands, on the ice. "It's rather new for people from Morocco," he said. But he agreed that there was something very Dutch about canal skating, which is depicted in paintings by Dutch masters as early as the 17th century.

To be sure, a couple interesting asides. In particular, the second provides Americans a little glimpse into the mindset of an average European. But I'm just glad the Dutch were able to skate.

January 13, 2009

Panel says Governor's Immigration "Order created fear"

Marc Comtois

So, the Immigration Panel has found that:

Governor Carcieri’s executive order on illegal immigration has created such fear throughout Rhode Island that...he [should] make a “well-publicized clarifying statement” to explain what the order does and doesn’t do.
Please. The ProJo "advoticle" (advocacy piece within a news article) is full of anecdotal 'fear' stories of immigrants hiding in basements and avoiding travel in Rhode Island. No word on whether the Panel's members actually worked to clarify any of these misconceptions. And Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney had an interesting response to all of the advocates' sturm und drang:
Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney said it would help if the police were allowed to attend some of the meetings with the immigrant community, to hear the complaints firsthand. The police members of the panel did not attend the five meetings held in Providence and Newport.
Legal immigrants have nothing to fear from law enforcement.

January 11, 2009

Et Tu, George?

Monique Chartier

In some parting advice to the GOP on Fox News today [h/t the Washington Post], President George Bush falls into the error of many others who have commented or reported on the subject. He leaves out that one critical word.

And we should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we're viewed as anti-somebody — in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant — then another fellow may say, well, if they're against the immigrant, they may be against me.

Respectfully, sir, no one, Democrat or Republican, who supports the enforcement of our immigration laws is opposed to immigrants. We are opposed to politicians who either fail to discourage illegal immigration by insufficiently encouraging or funding ICE or who openly invite illegal immigration by championing amnesty legislation in the guise of "reform".

January 7, 2009

A One-Way Street Across a Two-Way Border

Justin Katz

I may be misunderstanding him, but it appears that Rhode Island elementary and secondary education commissioner Peter McWalters believes that Rhode Island should seek to attract illegal immigrants to our state in order to educate their children:

In Rhode Island, McWalters said, "We're not in agreement that these kids are worth it because we are torn between a culture that's says, 'We don't want you,' and one that wants them to come here. We have to decide that these kids are worth it and that it is necessary to pay the bill."

I don't know, commissioner; we've got an awful lot of bills to pay. We should educate children while they're here, but for a state in our condition to deliberately court an intractable problem would be the height of insanity. Just skim down the article a few paragraphs:

English language learners are not a monolithic group, however. Nearly two-thirds are second- or third-generation Americans, with at least one parent born in the United States.

People that ambivalent about joining the culture into which they've moved probably aren't the human resource investment that Rhode Island ought to be prioritizing.

December 17, 2008

Using Immigration Law Toward an End

Justin Katz

Yeah, I'm aware that a politically noisy segment of our society views immigration more as a social work process than a set of policies intended for the benefit of the country, but Dori Segal and Brian Lee Crowley have a worthy (if politically infeasible) idea:

... America should immediately offer fast-track immigration to foreigners willing to do two things.

First, they must buy a house in the United States worth a minimum of $200,000 or with a minimum area of 2,000 square feet, paying cash up front. Second, they must place a further $250,000 in a government-insured account with a U.S. financial institution or spend $250,000 to create a business in the U.S. employing a minimum of three U.S. citizens. The need is immediate and urgent, and so upfront entry requirements should be stripped to the bare minimum.

The fatal flaw of the plan is that, as with military action, Americans have absorbed the principle that the only morally legitimate actions and policies are those with no immediate national interests tainting their purity. How can the wealthiest nation in the world give preference to entrepreneurs with a strong financial starting point over poor, unskilled laborers?

One can hope that this attitude will change when the "wealthiest nation" tag begins not to apply, but given the politically claimed definitions of "hope" and "change," which have been retooled to point toward a dreamlight of national morality, a healthy dose of skepticism is advisable.

December 2, 2008

Didn't Chuck and Larry Get "Married"?

Justin Katz

I highlight this only because I think Crowley, in his ineptitude, stumbles into an error of reason that others exhibit more subtly. Pointing to the expressed concern of Howard Weizmann, deputy director of the U.S. Office Of Personnel Management, that expanded domestic partner benefits would increase incidents of the sorts of fraud depicted in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Crowley writes:

Bush administration officials hard at work protecting us from gay people insurance fraud. Now all this silliness can end with a very simple solution: grant marriage rights to all couples and we won’t have to worry about the nuances of Chuck N Larry.

In point of fact, in order to procure their benefits, Chuck and Larry do get married. The only way "granting marriage rights to all couples" avoids fraudulent benefit transfers (for instance) is by legitimizing what had previously been held to be fraud. Marriage and divorce laws being what they are, there would be very little disincentive to "marrying" a friend for benefit, tax, housing, or even testimonial reasons.

If society wishes to create a system that encourages the mutual care of partnered pairs, then it should do so distinctly from marriage; to do otherwise would be to dilute the institution into nothingness. And if we are to set up domestic partnerships/civil unions, it would seem the height of government intrusion to insist that there be verifiable sexual intimacy between the participants.


Here's one further justification for taking Mr. Weizmann's concern seriously, but on a much broader scale:

Marriage to an American citizen remains the most common path to U.S. residency and/or citizenship for foreign nationals, with more than 2.3 million foreign nationals gaining lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in this manner between 1998 and 2007.

October 2, 2008

Tools for Future Subjugation

Justin Katz

Alright, so let's allow that David Richardson pushed the envelope to an imprudent degree — that it was wrong of him to harass customers to his store for the reason that they were speaking Spanish. Mark my words: Such precedent will expand until it crowds out our freedom:

Providence storeowner David C. Richardson has signed a public apology for demanding to see a customer's Social Security card last March after hearing the customer speak Spanish with a friend. Richardson signed the apology and agreed to give $500 to charity after two human-rights commissions found probable cause that he discriminated against the customer. ...

The encounter, during the sale of an $18 plumbing supply, made national headlines. Richardson's store, Rhode Island Refrigeration, has since closed.

Once our society stops defending people's right to be boorish, we're apt to find the adjective to be more subjective than we might like.

September 12, 2008

Two-faced McCain

Donald B. Hawthorne

I don't like John McCain's politics. Never have.

This piece from Mickey Kaus is the latest example of why:

Attention Ms. Coulter: John McCain is running an ad in Spanish attacking Obama for allegedly failing to support the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that McCain himself has said he no longer supports. ... I guess McCain got the "message" but not the mensaje. ... P.S.: The picture of Sen. Patrick Leahy is especially terrifying. ... P.P.S.: Would McCain ever run this ad in English? ...

Here is the ad. I don't know Spanish so will have to take Kaus' word.

More on the problems with McCain in the coming weeks.

Until You Have Paid the Last Penny

Justin Katz

Among the factors that most impress me as indicative of the accuracy of the Roman Catholic faith is the mutual leaven of those influences that we are to consider when assessing the world in which we live. The individual conscience is sacrosanct, personal revelation possible, and compassion paramount, yet absolute truth exists, and organizational process — necessarily slow moving and impeded by the flaws of humanity — are institutionalized for applying that truth to the shifting world.

Conscience, revelation, and compassion are quick — like us, things of the moment. Hierarchy is cumbersome. Rooting decisions in ancient texts and slowly evolving catechismal documents requires that the ideas of the past be reckoned.

So, when I look to my Church for guidance, I look to these two practical sides of the belief system it proclaims, and with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' following RI Bishop Thomas Tobin's lead, I see a surfeit of divine compassionate impulse and a dearth of divine staidness. I hear the call to forgive drowning out the warning not to teach others by our transgressions:

... if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

Granted, the context of this passage emphasizes personal example and the culpability of sinful thoughts, but the essential messages are that amends must be made, debts paid, and that ideas have consequences for ourselves and for those whom our decisions reach. What, then — proclaiming neither the primacy of immigration law nor the infallibility of our secular leaders — are we to make of Gustavo Cabrera?

Bishop Tobin's answer would clearly be that we would be wrong to tear the illegal immigrant from his family — that disrupting their lives so dramatically would be immoral. But that result follows from Cabrera's action, not ours, and taking his family as reason to waive the consequences, meaning deportation, is apt to make the establishment of a family a milestone in the passage of other illegal immigrants, just as the amnesty granted in 1986 has arguably contributed to the exponential increase in violation of our immigration law.

One can hardly fault Cabrera for his decisions. He took a risk when he left his tearful family in Guatemala twenty-five years ago, and acknowledging the opportunities that his children have been, are being, and will continue to be given, that risk paid off. No doubt his own parents understood that when they watched the fading taillights behind which their son lay. To remove the sense of risk, however, is to make a promise that Americans may quickly find catastrophically expensive.

The fact that Cabrera found it necessary to give his multipage story to the Providence Journal through an interpreter, even after a quarter century in this country, underscores his outlook on his venture. He has always known that his stay within foreign borders was likely to be temporary; now that he's been caught, that straightforward consequence must be borne out. Perhaps he and his fellow returning expatriates will take the lessons that they've learned about governance back to the country that spurred them to leave — that made the sundering of families an attractive option for them.

On our end, we must remember the importance of ideas and that our own actions can have far-reaching ramifications. It's a natural urge for a moral heart to forgive the Gustavo Cabreras in our midst; it's a small thing, too, to say, "let them stay." Indeed, we need bear them no malice, and we should wish them well, with the hope that they can help to uplift those societies to which they return. (What would be the effect of return only illegal immigrants who are of criminal bent?)

I daresay that the lesson is equally applicable to us. Surely, we do ourselves spiritual harm by reinforcing the notion that putting some length of time between our decisions and their foreseeable consequences, and making those who depend on us vulnerable to those consequences, ought to translate forgiveness into absolution.

August 27, 2008

Opiate of the Open Borders Crowd?

Monique Chartier

Under Reverend Pastor Keith Mlyniec's "Engaged Citizen" post, commenter Rhody observes:

I love how the right has gotten so depenent on the clergy (not just Catholic, either) as an ideological enforcement agency.

It should be noted, firstly, that the desire for enforcement of US immigration laws is not an exclusive commodity of the "right", unless 75% of America is on the right.

As to the crux of Rhody's comment, let us pause to note how many clergy have spoken against the Governor's Executive Order. And have called upon us to stop enforcing our immigration laws. And cited scripture in the process. Conversely, how many have cautioned us not to selectively read scripture when approaching a particular issue? By my count, it is conservatively twenty to one.

One hundred and eighty degrees from Rhody's statement, it is rather those who inexplicably do not wish our borders and sovereignty enforced yet cannot convincingly make their case with substantive, reasoned arguments who have "gotten so dependent" on clergy, themselves motivated by misplaced compassion, in an attempt to guilt the general public into a reckless "ideology"; namely, the relaxing of our already generous immigration laws.

August 22, 2008

The Reverend Pastor Keith Mlyniec: Immigration Exegesis

Engaged Citizen

[In light of Bishop Thomas Tobin's call yesterday for ICE to halt "mass" arrests of illegal immigrants, Pastor Mlyniec's Engaged Citizen post of April has been moved to the top of the blog.]

Dear Governor Carcieri,

It seems the media has chosen to portray all the clergy in our state as standing together with one voice against your recent executive order. Hence, the April 03 Providence Journal’s opening line of their lead story, “In an extraordinary show of unity, leaders of Rhode Island’s religious community yesterday called on Governor Carcieri to reconsider…” I would like to take this opportunity to share with you that not all the clergy of Rhode Island are opposed to your executive order pertaining to illegal immigrants.

As a pastor in South County, I support your leadership decision to boldly deal with such a complex issue. While I am in full agreement with other clergy in the need to be concerned for the care, rights, and dignity of each human being residing in our great state, I do not see any legitimate biblical justification to stand opposed to you. In fact, it is my opinion that there is ample biblical evidence to support your decision.

I recently heard a bishop justify his position by quoting Jesus, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Best that I can tell, your executive order is not aimed at strangers, but illegal immigrants. Jesus never said, “I broke your laws and you harbored me as a fugitive.” Yes, we are to love our neighbors, but we are also to uphold and obey the local laws of the land as taught by the Apostle Paul when he said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1).”

Next, I heard a rabbi quote from the Old Testament, “…for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” What he didn’t mention was that the Israelites were officially invited to Egypt at the request of the Pharaoh, that they were publicly welcomed, and that they were given the best of the land (Genesis 47). They did not slip into Egypt under the cover of darkness and attempt to live there illegally. While I applaud the rabbi for his generous show of hospitality and concern for human rights, I must respectfully disagree with his biblical argument which implies that those who have intentionally chosen to break the laws of the land should be considered strangers and therefore taken in and treated as the native in the land (Leviticus 19:34). We must keep in mind that in those days, both the natives and strangers willingly obeyed the laws of the land (Ruth 1:16).

And of course, like many others, I then heard a reverend declare, “In God’s kingdom, there are no second-class citizens.” Now, I am a firm believer in the equality and rights of each and every human being. However, I must respectfully point out to the reverend, that the State of Rhode Island may indeed be the “Ocean State” but it is certainly not the kingdom of God on earth. I also call to his attention that there are two distinct divisions of people in our state, those who are here legally and those who are not. I do not deny that we should consider those who are here illegally as first-class people, friends and employees. However, as hard as this sounds, the reality is that they are not citizens of the United States of America and therefore there is no citizen “class” in which to put them.

I affirm and support the efforts of my well-intentioned and passionate clergy brothers as they take a stand to calm the fears and anxieties resulting from your executive order. I also commend them for standing to be shepherds and peacemakers for their flocks. They have encouraged all of us to display a greater love for our neighbors and their well-being. I will be in prayer during this wave of unrest and division that God would grant peace and understanding to all involved. As we dwell in a season of difficult days, may God continue to grant you humility, wisdom, and the strength to continue to make decisions filled with justice for all.

With great respect,

The Reverend Pastor Keith Mlyniec
West Kingston Baptist Church

Foreclosures Versus Student Enrollment II

Carroll Andrew Morse

There is at least one glitch in the comprehensive municipality-by-municipality data that the Projo has been providing on foreclosures. According to a John Castellucci story that appeared in the April 15 Projo, there were 108 foreclosures in Pawtucket between January and mid-March of 2008 and 172 in all of 2007. That calls into question the completeness of the Projo's 2007 to 2008 Q1 comparison chart, where figures of only 5 foreclosures in Q1 of 2007 and 1 in Q1 2008 are quoted for Pawtucket.

I can't find any "official" data on the web for municipal level data for 2008, but there are a number of websites that give city-by-city listings of foreclosed properties for sale.

Yahoo has a real-estate site that lists foreclosed properties with the dates they were listed. Here's the number of foreclosure listings I retrieved last night…

Central Falls14(June 10 – August 15)
Cranston142(June 10 – August 19)
Pawtucket99(June 10 – August 19)
Providence741(June 10 – August 21)

Foreclosure.com breaks its listings into "foreclosure" and "pre-foreclosure" categories…

Central FallsForeclosure:21Pre-foreclosure:4

And the site that Ken suggested, RealtyTrac.com, divides its foreclosure listing into "Auction" and "Bank-Owned" categories; the bank owned includes listings originally from 2007. The totals in the two categories are…

Central Falls30

The numbers in these other estimates are consistent with the Castellucci story for Pawtucket and roughly consistent with the other Projo-reported estimates for Central Falls/Cranston/Providence.

So, if as Matt Jerzyk postulates, the drop in student enrollment is directly related to foreclosures, then...

  1. The drop in in Providence should be 25 to 50 times bigger than the drop in Central Falls…
    • …but it's not. The decline in Central Falls was about 450 students, the decline in Providence, about 1,700 students, a factor of about 4.
  2. The drop in Cranston should be 5 to 10 times bigger than the drop in Central Falls…
    • …but it's not. The drop in Central Falls is more than 5 times larger than the drop in Cranston.
If Mr. Jerzyk is sitting on some data source that he's not telling anyone about, now is the time to release it. If not, then someone should be looking into the exact nature of the reverse-redlining that was apparently going on in Providence, because if the problem was only unscrupulous salesmanship, it is unlikely that Providence would be affected so much more disproportionately on a per-capita basis than Pawtucket or Central Falls. Is it possible that lending rules were being relaxed, even further than in other places, for housing with Providence zip-codes? If so, at what level in the mortgage process was that decision made?

August 21, 2008

Foreclosures Versus Student Enrollment

Carroll Andrew Morse

Matt Jerzyk of RI Future believes that declines in student population in Central Falls and Providence are due to foreclosures…

Speaking of questionable analysis, it is absolutely outrageous to me that anyone can get away with saying that significant drops in school enrollment in Central Falls and Providence are a result of the right-wing's anti-immigrant activism in Rhode Island.

One word, people: FORECLOSURES.

Ian Donnis of Not for Nothing thinks that the theory is plausible. I'm not sure about the causal chain in Providence, but it's hard to believe that foreclosures are having a big impact on student enrollment in Central Falls, unless you're willing to accuse the Projo of some really sloppy journalism.

In the August 16 Projo, Jennifer D. Jordan reported on the student enrollment decline…

In Central Falls, the state’s most heavily Hispanic school district, student enrollment numbers are down by more than 400….Currently, Central Falls enrollment stands at 3,050, down from its usual 3,500.
And the number of foreclosures in the period leading up to the 2008-2009 school year? Well, the Projo gives us two figures for Central Falls to look at, compiled from data provided by Rhode Island Housing…Just to be clear, the numbers above are reported in units of one.

The foreclosure numbers for Providence are much higher, 609 in Q1 2008 alone, versus an enrollment drop of 1,700, but on the other hand, the community with the second largest reported number of foreclosures in Q1, Cranston with 155, has a student population that is holding steady, so there doesn't seem to be much correlation between rates of foreclosure and drops in student enrollment, unless you believe that the Projo is missing a big chunk of data, that foreclosures increased by about a factor of 10 in Central Falls after April '08, or that the average number of students living in a foreclosed home in Central Falls is somewhere in the vicinity of 20 or more.

July 24, 2008

Are There Valid Criticisms To Be Made of Sanctuary and Amnesty Policies?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Over at RI Future yesterday, Matt Jerzyk wrote…

When the immigration debate becomes about “them” and the “them” is largely determined by race and ethnicity, then racism is a clear component of the debate.
But how about the definition of "them" in other areas of public debate? In a post from just two days earlier, Paul Bovenzi is certainly more than comfortable with defining his view of "them" largely in terms of race…
Last I checked, the White, Conservative, Male still had a firm (and disproportionate) grasp on the power and wealth in this country, so why is he so terribly unhappy?

One more thing about the White, Conservative Male - he is also a top notch complainer!

So if you buy into Mr. Jerzyk's premise, unless a highly suspect double standard is to be applied, it seems that racism has to be considered a "clear component" of Mr. Bovenzi's argument too.


Look, what's really happening here is that the special interest groups who favor sanctuary and amnesty with respect to illegal immigration have hit a wall in persuading the general public that ignoring immigration laws is sound public policy. Unable to persuade, they've taken to trying to de-legitimize criticism of their policy positions, in the hopes that those who disagree with them can be bullied into silence.

July 23, 2008

ProJo Offers Clarity on "Immigration"

Marc Comtois

Golf clap to the ProJo for providing some clarity on the terminology games being played with the word "immigration" (emphasis mine):

[F]ew Americans oppose immigration or immigrants per se. After all, every citizen is an immigrant or a descendent of one (Native Americans, by the way, came from Siberia) and is well aware of that fact. But those who favor illegal immigration like to drop the word “illegal” and say that those who want to enforce the laws on the books hate immigrants. This is very intellectually dishonest.

Just because someone favors an orderly, predictable and transparent immigration system instead of the present near-chaos and corruption doesn’t mean that that person is a xenophobe. There are, sad to say, plenty of bigots around. But most Americans who favor enforcement of the immigration laws on the books are not. They just realize that for a country to lose control over who comes into it is dangerous.

That’s why most countries, including Latin American ones, enforce their immigration laws far more zealously than does the United States its own.

The rest of the editorial offers sound observations, too.

July 22, 2008

Charles Bakst’s Illegal Immigration Paradox

Carroll Andrew Morse

Projo news columnist Charles Bakst suggests that supporters of Rhode Island Governor Donald Carceri should be troubled by the recent discovery that many illegal immigrants were employed by firms with state contracts…

Some taxpayers who admire [Governor Carcieri] on immigration must have been disappointed and puzzled by the possibility that so many illegal immigrants could be working in so many state agencies, some right under his nose.
…but, in the same column, wonders why anyone should care…
By the way, while I don’t urge people to come here illegally, why would the federal or state governments focus so much energy on these particular folks from Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico?
So unless I’m missing something, Bakst is arguing that Carcieri should be embarrassed by the number of illegal immigrants working for state contractors, BUT shouldn’t be trying to do anything about it!

Does that make sense to you?

July 14, 2008

When Does the PPD Fax the List to ICE?

Monique Chartier

Mayor David Cicilline stated on the Helen Glover Show this morning that the Providence Police Department informs ICE of suspects in custody before they are released from court. He is flatly contradicting his own Chief of Police.

But [Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman] later acknowledged that Providence police don’t do any investigation on their own but simply fax to ICE a copy of their arraignment sheet, which shows the names of anyone who has been arraigned that day.

Why this discrepancy between the statement of the Mayor and the statement of the Chief? When is the list faxed? While the suspect can be retained at ICE's request or when there's no point in even faxing the list?


Podcast of the interview, including the Mayor's exchange with former INS Agent Joe Bernstein, available here, courtesy Talk Radio 920 WHJJ.

July 10, 2008

Poll Numbers and Government Priorities

Carroll Andrew Morse

Two recent newspaper articles have suggested that the results of the Rhode Island College Bureau of Government Research and Services poll released on July 1 imply that immigration enforcement is not an issue of interest to Rhode Islanders; one article was from a source with an established track record of writing thoughtful, long-form news-analysis pieces, Ian Donnis of the Providence Phoenix

[Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte] calls Cicilline’s liberal stance on immigration “absolutely right for the city,” but, he adds, “[I] think it does not play out well in a broader discussion.”

This might be a safe assumption, considering how the mayor and Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman have faced considerable public criticism for bucking Carcieri’s executive order on immigration. (Then again, in a recent Rhode Island College poll, just four percent of respondents ranked illegal immigration among the state’s biggest problems.)

…the other was from Scott MacKay of the Projo
Last night, Governor Carcieri was again on national television –– conservative Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly’s show –– to talk about his executive order cracking down on immigration.

While Carcieri, some legislators and the talk-radio hosts may think the issue is gaining traction locally, a recent public opinion survey by veteran pollster and political science Prof. Victor Profughi, of Rhode Island College, shows a substantial disconnect between average Rhode Islanders and political figures pushing illegal immigration as a top issue.

When asked “what do you think is the biggest problem facing Rhode Island right now,” hardly any respondents mentioned illegal immigration. Thirty-three percent said the economy, 17 percent said the state budget, 6 percent mentioned gas prices, 8 percent listed government corruption, 6 percent said taxes, 5 percent said education and 4 percent said illegal immigration.

In reponse to both excerpts, let me suggest that using polling results from open-ended questions to determine what people believe government's day-to-day priorities should be is a premise flawed from the start. In the present-day Rhode Island that we know and love, we have a perfect example of the limitations.

According to that same RIC poll, a whopping total of 1% of people surveyed gave an answer of "roads" when asked what the biggest problem facing the state was. We can safely take an answer of "roads" to include the sub-category of "potentially collapsing bridges", a problem the RI public is well-aware of.

Now, as far as I know, no one is seriously arguing that any plans for addressing Rhode Island's bridge maintenance troubles should be placed on the backburner until a bunch of other problems with better polling numbers are "solved”. I haven't seen anyone in the mainstream media, in the blogosphere or in person argue that Governor Carcieri's March announcement (the same month the illegal immigration executive order was issued, by the way) of Rhode Island’s need to effect 600 million dollars worth of "bridge repair and replacement" was a distraction from the “real” issues that government should be paying attention to. Indeed, the reaction to the bridging troubles has been exactly opposite, more along the lines of why wasn't state government paying better attention to this all along -- again, despite a meager 1% polling number for the problem of "roads".

So if a one-one-hundredth polling response does not delegitimatize the decision by Rhode Island’s executive branch of government to take some high-visibility steps to address problems that have developed over the long term in the area of “roads”, then why should Governor Carcieri's decision to address the problem of illegal immigration -- a problem also that also has been allowed to build up over the long term -- be viewed as controversial because of a similarly low (but higher) polling response?

Would it make sense to stop repairing the bridges too?

Look What Happens When Local And Federal Law Enforcement Work Together

Carroll Andrew Morse

The general public keeps hearing from various quarters that immigration is a federal matter, therefore local police authorities shouldn't take any initiative in enforcing immigration laws.

That refrain brings to mind Amanda Milkovits' story from the Projo of two Saturdays ago…

At dusk, a dozen Providence police officers and state police troopers in unmarked cruisers drove into the back of the Manton Heights housing projects, where the teenage boy killed on Wednesday had lived, and they created a ripple in the neighborhood....

Last night, without public fanfare, the police quietly launched a new street-crime task force –– made up of city and state police, and agents from the FBI –– with the intention of driving down the violent crime rate in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

I wonder if the FBI agents assigned to this task force told the Providence Police Department that though they would be riding along with this detail, they would only act in instances where Federal crimes were being observed, because it was up to state and local police to enforce state laws and federal agents to enforce federal laws.

Or is it more likely that the FBI agents offered their full cooperation, to help a fellow law enforcement agency do its job. Wouldn't that be ironic.

July 9, 2008

Waiting for that Hard-Hitting, Old-Time-Journalism Scott MacKay Column on Barack Obama's Misplaced Priorities

Carroll Andrew Morse

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama had this to say yesterday, in an address to the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington D.C…

I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President -- not only because we have an obligation to secure our borders and get control of who comes in and out of our country. And not only because we have to crack down on employers who are abusing undocumented immigrants instead of hiring citizens. But because we have to finally bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.
Projo news columnist Scott MacKay criticized Obama for making the immigration issue a top priority…
You might think our political leaders would have something more important to do than wrangle over the illegal-immigration issue.
Wait?!?! You’re telling me I’ve made an error? You mean the above statement wasn’t directed at Senator Obama, but at Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri and Providence Mayor David Cicilline?

But if the idea that immigration reform is a distraction from real issues applies to Governor Carcieri and Mayor Cicilline, then columnist MacKay must believe that it applies to Senator Obama too, and that (as well as John McCain, for that matter) is wrong for making immigration reform a top issue in his platform, right?

July 7, 2008

ProJo Spins 75% Approval of E-Verify

Marc Comtois

Hey, you. The one who was part of the 75% percent of Rhode Islanders who said they approve of Governor Carcieri's E-verify Executive Order (and presumably the E-verify bill that just got killed by Senator Theresa Paiva-Weed). Guess what? The Journal's Steve Peoples and/or Cynthia Needham think you were just confused...or something...by the question (the only one they commented on, btw):

Seventy-five percent agree with the governor’s executive order cracking down on illegal immigrants. The order, according to a vague and rather long survey question, “requires that the Federal E-Verify system be used to screen state workers and employees of companies doing business with the state and directs certain state agencies to work cooperatively with Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel in enforcing federal immigration laws.”
You poor, ADD-ridden rubes, you must have gotten distracted by a shiny object while listening to the question and just answered "Yes."

July 5, 2008

Arlene Violet on the Immigration Verification Policy of the PPD

Monique Chartier

This awful crime brought into focus the technologically retarded procedure whereby the Providence police check the immigration status of people who come into their official custody. We should note here that it was the Mayor of Providence, not the police department, who arranged and ordered this procedure.

Arlene Violet did some research and determined exactly how and why this procedure is so infeasible. [Courtesy the Valley Breeze.]

The local ICE (Immigration and Control Enforcement) office has been gutted by a reduction of personnel. In response, the ICE passed out equipment to large police departments. This computer responds to a typed in name by alerting officials that the person is not in the country legally since there is no record of him. What happens if a person "borrows" the name of somebody who is here legally? Well, a picture pops up of the legal immigrant. The police officer than can compare the suspect to the picture and determine if the use of the name and address is purloined.

The Providence police did not use the equipment where it takes less than a minute to check the status. Instead, the department sends over a weekly list of all arrests for the staff-starved ICE to check. It already knows that the officers there don't have the manpower to check the list since that was the reason why the Providence Police got the database equipment. In fact, sending an entire list masks the one or two who should have been checked.

The sad reality is that the Mayor of Providence panders to the immigrant community. He thinks he can protect his posterior by claiming that they sent the list. The excuse doesn't work. ...

June 26, 2008

What Exactly is David Cicilline's Position on Enforcing Immigration Law?

Carroll Andrew Morse

In Edward Fitzpatrick and W. Zachary Malinowski’s story on the fallout from the Marco Riz case in today’s Projo, Providence Mayor David Cicilline states his basic position on the enforcement of immigration law…

“Let me be clear,” Cicilline said, “anyone who is in this country illegally and breaks the law should be deported. That’s why Providence police will continue its longstanding policy of providing federal immigration officials with information anytime a person is charged with a crime in this city.”
So if the Mayor believes that everyone charged with a crime should have their immigration status investigated, then why isn’t his department using the best technonlogy available to assist in those investigations? What value is there in using a less efficient procedure when a better option is available?

And if the Mayor already claims that his city’s police department already supports investigations into the immigration status of individuals charged with breaking the law, then what objection does his administration have, if any, to the sixth provision of the Governor’s executive order on illegal immigration

6. It is urged that all law enforcement officials, including state and local law enforcement agencies take steps to support the enforcement of federal immigration laws by investigating and determining the immigration status of all non-citizens taken into custody, incarcerated, or under investigation for any crime and notifying federal authorities of all illegal immigrants discovered as a result of such investigations.
And if Mayor Cicilline agrees with the Governor’s order in principle, but just differs over what means best facilitate inter-departmental law-enforcement cooperation, then how come immigration activists like the Rev. Eliseo Nogueras or the Rev. Donald C. Anderson aren’t organizing protests at Providence City Hall, accusing Mayor Cicilline of “anti-immigrant sentiment” and fomenting “unwarranted harassment of legal immigrants and citizens of color”. Do they perhaps suspect he is not as serious about enforcing immigration law as he is now trying to sound? Has the Mayor been issued one of those progressive “say whatever you want for political reasons, we know you don’t mean it” passes, or is there some more benign reason?

What Exactly is David Cicilline's Position on Enforcing Immigration Law?

Carroll Andrew Morse

In Edward Fitzpatrick and W. Zachary Malinowski’s story on the fallout from the Marco Riz case in today’s Projo, Providence Mayor David Cicilline states his basic position on the enforcement of immigration law…

“Let me be clear,” Cicilline said, “anyone who is in this country illegally and breaks the law should be deported. That’s why Providence police will continue its longstanding policy of providing federal immigration officials with information anytime a person is charged with a crime in this city.”
So if the Mayor believes that everyone charged with a crime should have their immigration status investigated, then why isn’t his department using the best technonlogy available to assist in those investigations? What value is there in using a less efficient procedure when a better option is available?

And if the Mayor already claims that his city’s police department already supports investigations into the immigration status of individuals charged with breaking the law, then what objection does his administration have, if any, to the sixth provision of the Governor’s executive order on illegal immigration

6. It is urged that all law enforcement officials, including state and local law enforcement agencies take steps to support the enforcement of federal immigration laws by investigating and determining the immigration status of all non-citizens taken into custody, incarcerated, or under investigation for any crime and notifying federal authorities of all illegal immigrants discovered as a result of such investigations.
And if Mayor Cicilline agrees with the Governor’s order in principle, but just differs over what means best facilitate inter-departmental law-enforcement cooperation, then how come immigration activists like the Rev. Eliseo Nogueras or the Rev. Donald C. Anderson aren’t organizing protests at Providence City Hall, accusing Mayor Cicilline of “anti-immigrant sentiment” and fomenting “unwarranted harassment of legal immigrants and citizens of color”. Do they perhaps suspect he is not as serious about enforcing immigration law as he is now trying to sound? Has the Mayor been issued one of those progressive “say whatever you want for political reasons, we know you don’t mean it” passes, or is there some more benign reason?

June 24, 2008

Cicilline and the Minutemen, Side By Each

Monique Chartier

The Mayor of Providence continues to insist that illegal immigration is a matter for federal officials. In response to Bill Malinowski's story in Saturday's ProJo about the City of Providence's prior official encounters with Marco Riz, the Mayor released this statement:

I will not let the Providence Police pick up the slack or take the blame for yet another failed federal agency. Our priorities have resulted in the lowest crime rate in 30 years and they will remain the same.

He also accused Governor Carcieri of defending the Bush administration and its failure to control illegal immigration. The Governor has done nothing of the sort, of course.

But the Mayor is correct about one thing. The reality is that the Bush administration, the Clinton administration and their concurrent Congresses deliberately and inexplicably pulled way back on illegal immigration enforcement efforts, in particular, on employers. The result of this egregious abdication of responsibility has been stark. The border is no longer a couple of thousand miles away. Effectively, it is now here and all around the country. Accordingly, our state and local public officials no longer have the luxury of treating illegal immigration at arms length or of attempting to exclude it from the job description of our safety officers.

What Exactly is Dean Esserman's Position on Enforcing Immigration Law?

Carroll Andrew Morse

In light of the Marco Riz case, I am confused as to Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman's position regarding assisting Federal authorities with the enforcement of immigration law. Marco Riz is the illegal immigrant accused of rape who was taken into custody by Providence police twice last year, but released both times, despite being under a 2003 court-order to leave the country.

1. Back in April, Chief Esserman told the Projo's Richard C. Dujardin that the Providence police did not investigate the immigration status of anyone, unless an immigration violation was inadvertently revealed…

Police Chief Dean Esserman has put himself squarely in opposition to Governor Carcieri’s suggestion that local law-enforcement agencies investigate the immigration status of individuals they take into their custody.

Esserman said yesterday that he does believe the police have a responsibility to forward to the attention of federal agents any information about illegal immigrants whose status they have come upon “inadvertently.” But he said the responsibility should not extend to investigating the immigration status of people they have arrested or suspect may have been involved in other crimes.

“I am opposed to a proactive role because of the chilling effect it would have on our being able to have people have trust in us and to report crimes,” said Esserman.

But that's not the story Chief Esserman told W. Zachary Malinowski this past Saturday, post-Marco Riz…
Esserman and Kennedy also said that Providence police officers routinely call [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to check on the immigration status of suspects in crimes. Detectives in major crimes and the gang-prevention unit are in constant communication with the local ICE office.
Has the Providence Police department changed its policy between April and now, or is one of these statements not fully conveying the reality of department policy?

2. One point of consistency between Chief Esserman's April and June statements to the public is the use of the fax machine as the primary regular contact between the Providence Police Department and ICE. Here's Dujardin in April…

Esserman had said initially yesterday that the Police Department, as a matter of standard procedure, notifies the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the names of all illegal immigrants who have been booked and arraigned by Providence police. But he later acknowledged that Providence police don’t do any investigation on their own but simply fax to ICE a copy of their arraignment sheet, which shows the names of anyone who has been arraigned that day.
...and, essentially the same thing, from Malinowski in June…
Esserman and Kennedy said that for more than 20 years the Police Department has faxed to the federal agency’s Providence office a list of suspects scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on criminal charges. They said that no one at the agency ever objected to the practice until last month.
Let's take the most recent story as most accurate. If Providence police routinely investigate the immigration status of individuals under investigation -- as Chief Esserman now claims -- and if ICE has an information system that can be used to help identify immigration-law violators, what is the objection to Providence enhancing its current faxing procedure to include regular use of the NLETS system(*), based on the same criteria that the major crimes and gang-prevention units currently use to trigger contact with ICE?

3. According to the Malinowski story, the Feds haven't exactly covered themselves in glory in this case either…

Michael Gilhooly, spokesman for ICE, said that the Providence police should have used the agency’s NLTS (sic) telecommunications system to check on Riz’s immigration status. He said that the police would have learned that a federal immigration court, in 2003, had ordered Riz to leave the United States.

Asked why immigration authorities did not move to deport Riz five years ago, Gilhooly said that he was in this country illegally, but there was no evidence that he was a “criminal.” As a result, he was released from custody.

(*) A description of the NLETS system can be found here, in a 2005 online article from The Police Chief Magazine.

June 12, 2008

E-Verify: Coming to a Federal Contractor Near You

Monique Chartier

Helen Glover reported this morning that e-verify legislation has stalled on Smith Hill because it contains monetary penalties for businesses which fail to comply. Apparently, the General Assembly has the power under these circumstances to pull a company's license but not to fine it.

In the meantime, President George Bush has mandated e-verify for companies which do business for the federal government.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that President George Bush has signed a directive putting the requirements in place, thus bringing federal contractors under the same requirements already in effect for federal agencies

This is a list by company, parent company and dollar amount of all 1,727 federal contracts being performed in Rhode Island, companies which now must E-verify all new employees.

[Source: USASpending.gov]

June 6, 2008

RIILE Shut out of Governor's Immigration Advisory Group

Marc Comtois

Terry Gorman of RIILE (Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement) was on Dan Yorke's show this afternoon and explained that neither he nor any RIILE members have been invited to participate on the Governor's 27 member Immigration Advisory panel (no documentation or press release yet). According to Gorman, he had gotten the impression that he was on the panel and had even been asked to recommend a few people.

According to ProJo, "[t]he group includes members from religious communities, community agencies, government, law enforcement and business." Gorman has seen the list and told Yorke that, with the exception of a few members of State law enforcement, the makeup of the panel looks like the membership of a pro-amnesty advocate group. I wouldn't go that far, but you get the point.

For his part,Yorke thinks it's a mistake by the Governor to exclude representatives from RIILE, who have been at the forefront of the debate in RI. So do I. If you're going to approach this issue holistically, and if you're going to include proponents of amnesty in the group, then shouldn't you balance them with those opposed? Heck, the Tax Policy Strategy Workgroup includes people from all over the political and ideological spectrum. Why not do the same for the Immigration panel? Here's the list:

Continue reading "RIILE Shut out of Governor's Immigration Advisory Group"

May 18, 2008

What Does Amnesty for Undocumented Farm Workers Have to Do with the Funding of our Action in Iraq?

Monique Chartier

Add Senator Larry Craig to Donald's list of Republicans who have gotten off track, in this case, by participating in the attempt to pass amnesty piecemeal.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday added to an Iraq spending bill a controversial provision to help pave the way for undocumented agriculture workers to win legal status, a move that may reopen the divisive immigration debate on the Senate floor.

The so-called Ag-Jobs amendment, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would create a process that allows undocumented workers to continue to work on farms. Without the amendment, Feinstein warned that the U.S. would lose $5-9 billion to foreign competition, tens of thousands of farms would shut down and 80,000 workers would be transferred to Mexico. The bill would sunset in five years.

Agriculture needs a consistent workforce," Feinstein said. "Without it, they can't plant, they can't prune, they can't pick and they can't pack.

"This is an emergency situation," she added.

The prior failure of your branch of government to act responsibly in this matter does not constitute an emergency, Senator. Put me down as agreeing for once with Senator Robert Byrd (D) on both substance and procedure.

"No matter how one characterizes it, this enormous amendment still amounts to amnesty," said Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). "I oppose amnesty. All these immigration issues should be addressed through the regular order."

The one encouraging note is that the 17-12 vote that brought this amendment out of committee was not along party lines. Perhaps there will be a sufficient number of responsible, long-sighted lawmakers in both parties to decry and/or derail this sneakiness.

May 2, 2008

Same Rally, Less Filled

Marc Comtois

The ProJo wonders why there are fewer immigrants showing up at immigrant rallies, but Rev. Robert Beirne, a priest at St. Anthony’s in Providence has the answer:

The estimated 300 people in attendance were but a fraction of the participation seen at immigration-rights rallies in years past.

“I’m very disappointed,” said the Rev. Robert Beirne, a Roman Catholic priest at St. Anthony’s in Providence. “Two years ago, there were tens of thousands of people who were proud to be here. Look at this turnout. I think people are afraid.”

In 2006, as many as 20,000 people participated at a State House rally designed to showcase the positive social and economic contributions of immigrants on International Workers’ Day. By last year, the number of supporters at a similar rally had dwindled to an estimated 500 to 700, following a raid two months earlier on a New Bedford factory, when 361 workers suspected of being in the country illegally were detained by federal officials.

Guess we know where the ProJo is leaning. How about this: maybe the immigrants aren't here anymore. Or maybe they've just moved on. You know, they've got better things to do, like work.

April 28, 2008

Recent Border Enforcement Activity (Not Always at the Border)

Monique Chartier

The Department of Homeland Security posts on their website updated information of border enforcement activity.

Coast Guard Repatriates 24 Dominicans, 1 Colombian

April 22, 2008 (San Juan, Puerto Rico) - The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague repatriated a Colombian and 24 Dominican migrants to La Romana, Dominican Republic, following an at-sea interdiction by Department of Homeland Security law enforcement authorities. More at USCG.mil

ICE Agents Arrest More than 300 Poultry Processing Employees

April 17, 2008 (Dallas, Tex.) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than 300 foreign national workers at Pilgrim's Pride plants in five states who are suspected of committing identity theft and other criminal violations in order to obtain their jobs. More at ICE.gov

ICE Arrests 11 for Harboring, Detains 45 Illegal Aliens

April 16, 2008 (Buffalo, N.Y.) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents detained 45 illegal aliens at 10 different sites and arrested 11 individuals for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens who were smuggled into the United States to work in Mexican restaurants in four states. This operation involved approximately 130 ICE agents and 30 state and local law enforcement officers and began in May 2006. More at ICE.gov

Coast Guard Cutter Crew Rescues, Repatriates 247 Haitian Migrants

April 15, 2008 (Miami, Fla.) - The crew of the Portsmouth, Va.-based Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane repatriated 247 Haitian migrants to Cap-Haitien, Haiti. More at USCG.mil

April 27, 2008

The Bishop on Immigration

Justin Katz

Bishop Thomas Tobin's latest Without a Doubt column (still not yet online), which he frames as a Q&A on the Church's teachings with respect to [illegal] immigration, avoids the questions in which Roman Catholics who disagree with the bishop are most interested. Indeed, the answers stop frustratingly short of the actual dispute, veering aside with everything following the "instead" :

Does the Church promote and support illegal immigration?

"No. The Catholic Church does not support or encourage illegal immigration because 1) it is contrary to federal law and 2) it is not good either for society because of the presence of a large population living outside the legal structures or the migrant ... Instead, the Church is advocating changing a broken law so that undocumented persons can obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families." (USCCB Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform)

In short, illegal immigration is a bad deal for everyone — for our country and its citizens, for legal immigrants, and for those who have entered the country illegally.

The faithful are left with no guidance as to the view of the Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the number of "undocumented persons" permitted to "enter the United States legally," or even the criteria and emphases that ought to be considered as public representatives determine the specifics. If the law is "broken," it sounds an awful lot as if the bishops believe fixing it means turning it into little more than a means of processing applications, not of judging civic value.

Yes, the response is easy to anticipate: It isn't the place of a government to judge the value of a human being. But that's clearly a dodge. All human beings are of equal value in an absolute sense, but some bring more to the table, or are just a better fit for current socio-economic needs of the nation. As an employer, the Church judges between candidates for particular jobs and does not tangle itself into moral knots deciding whether it is making a declaration of their inherent worth.

And so the debate goes on, with the bishop sounding more like a voice for one side of a political dispute than a beacon through which all sides can find their way out of contentious circumstances:

Immigrants who came to our land without proper documentation did so, in most cases, for positive reasons.

How does Bishop Tobin respond to we who find something stealthy in his presentation of such immigration as a matter of misplaced paperwork? Illegal immigrants didn't merely fail to file the appropriate documents; they didn't receive permission, and I suspect, if pressed, the bishop might concede that such permission is the right (the responsibility) of a political entity to grant and, sometimes, to deny.

April 20, 2008

More Truth-Challenged Arguments

Monique Chartier

Candidates and advocates are told to stay on message.

Such advice is sound only if the "message" contains a modicum of truthfulness or at least believability. Both of these qualities have been noticeably absent from the speeches and rhetoric of those who oppose the Governor's executive order on illegal immigration and related bills. Friday's rally followed form.

Members of the state's Hispanic community yesterday gathered at the State House once again to protest Governor Carcieri's recent order cracking down on illegal immigration.

* * *

"The anti-immigrant sentiment that swept across this state and this nation is going to cause a lot of families to be broken up," said the Rev. Eliseo Nogueras, 46, the pastor of Pawtucket's House of Prayer Gethsemane. He is also chairman of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

The call has been for the enforcement of existing immigration laws, not their removal from the books. Only the latter would constitute "anti-immigrant sentiment." Note also the phrasing of that sentence: not "anti-immigration" but "anti-immigrant." This is presumably to personalize and emotionalize a statement that is false to begin with.

Secondly, the reference to the breaking up of families is not just untrue, but insulting in two ways. It is insulting to everyone's intelligence to suggest that immigrant parents would leave their children in another country. And it is insulting to immigrant parents themselves to imply that they would do so.

In view of the emotion-rich and fact-poor arguments put forward from the beginning against the anti-illegal immigration measures implemented by the Governor and pending on Smith Hill, I am beginning to share the doubt of those who question the actual number of people who do not support these reasonable measures. They may count in their ranks not too many more than those who rally or testify on Smith Hill and a percentage (but not all) of undocumented immigrants.

April 17, 2008

The Executive Order and Victims of Identity Theft

Carroll Andrew Morse

Provision 3 of Governor Donald Carcieri's executive order on illegal immigration places a requirement on executive branch departments that become aware of the usage of a fraudulent identity in an attempt to get something from the state…

3. The Directors of each department and state agency in the Executive Branch shall attempt to notify any person whose identity was stolen or otherwise improperly used by any person in order receive any benefit, including but not limited to child care, health care, any government issued identification card, including driver’s license and non-driver’s license identification, welfare or employment.
Though contracting licenses aren't expressly covered by the order, according to Amanda Milkovits' report in today's Projo, the Rhode Island State Police certainly seem to be acting in the spirit of the order in their investigation into Mario Chirinos' alleged attempt to use false documents to obtain a Rhode Island contractor's license…
[Mario Chirinos] had bought a fake state driver’s license, in the name of Effrain Tarquino, off the streets of Providence, [State Police Major Steven O’Donnell] said. Chirinos also allegedly obtained a fake state ID card in the name of Chirino Mario, 29, and a Social Security card and permanent resident alien card in the name of Efran Tarquino, with different birth dates, according to the state police.

The fake driver’s license –– missing the tell-tale state seal –– caught the attention of an employee at the state Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board, where Chirinos had gone to apply for a contractor’s license. Chirinos had presented the license and an affidavit at the counter, the state police said.

The board employee contacted the Capital Police, who contacted the state police, who noticed that the driver’s license photo also wasn’t consistent with the appearance of state driver’s licenses. The trooper searched Chirinos and found the other fake IDs, O’Donnell said….

O’Donnell said that Chirinos told investigators that he’d bought the identification cards off the streets in Providence. The state police are investigating whether the names on the identification cards belong to others

Do the opponents of the Governor's executive order really believe that provision 3 is unreasonable and needs be repealed, i.e. that state government should not inform possible victims of identity theft of the crimes perpetrated against them until the Federal government passes "comprehensive immigration reform" first?

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.

It Doesn't Count If You Don't Count

Monique Chartier

The newest addition to the list of "reasons" that the Governor's Executive Order and various legislative initiatives on illegal immigration should not be undertaken is that the actual number of undocumented immigrants in the state is unknown. Mr. Jaime Aguayo of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs made such an argument yesterday morning on WHJJ's Helen Glover Show. He further repeated his statement from the press conference Friday that he and other members of that advisory commission would step down if the Governor did not continue to meet with them on this issue.

Inasmuch as no one contends that the number of undocumented immigrants in the state is zero, the limited measures outlined by the Governor's Executive Order would seem reasonable in all senses of the word. Setting that aside for a moment, however, a suggestion and a question pose themselves from Mr. Aguayo's remarks this morning.

Press conferences are fun but facts are more substantive and a better addition to any conversation. It would seem to be both productive and in keeping with the nature of an advisory commission for the Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs to assemble and bring forward some data on the question which a member of the Commission himself raised; namely, the number of undocumented immigrants present in the state.

And the question raised is actually for everyone who believes that no action should be taken on the state level until the presence of undocumented immigrants in the state is specifically quantified. At what number, below what threshold should the Governor's Executive Order not be implemented and new laws not be passed?

April 14, 2008

On the Border of Discussion

Justin Katz

Anybody who's truly interested in the immigration debate should skip Charles Bakst's typically useless column in yesterday's Providence Journal and turn instead to the Money & Business section, in which one can read John Kostrzewa's inquiry into the difficulties that the E-Verify mandate imposes on businesses:

To try to sort out some of the issues, I talked with Christine Cunneen, co-owner of Hire Image, a background-screening company based in Johnston.

She said that right now there are only 75 Rhode Island companies registered to use the E-Verify system.

Employers who want to use it have to sign up for a five- to six-hour online tutorial. Then the user has to pass a test showing mastery of the system. ...

Using the E-Verify system also opens the employer to an audit by the Department of Homeland Security.

Cunneen said the verification process can be confusing and cumbersome.

She added, "There have been some troubles with the system." For example, if a person gets married and the name hasn't been changed with Social Security, the E-Verify system may not verify the eligibility of the worker.

Kostrzewa's right that the entire debate has been conducted in an atmosphere of contentiousness and suspicion, although I'm not as quick to blame the governor; this fight's been long and broad in its approach. Consider this interesting nugget from an Andy Smith piece on the problems that Congressional inaction on immigration (specifically with reference to temporary work visas) is creating for Rhode Island's tourism industry (emphasis added):

In the House of Representatives, Langevin said he is also cosponsor of legislation that would allow more H-2B workers into the country. "I've heard a lot from the business community [in Rhode Island] and this is a major priority for them," he said. "This is an issue that directly affects the tourism and hospitality business in Rhode Island."

Langevin said the Hispanic Caucus would prefer the "whole package" when it comes to immigration reform, although he stopped short of saying the caucus was opposed to H-2B measures. He said the House bill, currently in the Judiciary Committee, may shortly be the subject of hearings in the immigration subcommittee.

That sounds like a little bit of the ol' "un pueblo unido" — in this case holding up desirable, even necessary, legal immigration legislation in order to gain leverage for the only part of the larger issue that encounters real disagreement: illegal immigration. One finds it necessary to continually consider which side benefits from the conflation of the illegal with the legal, and doing so makes it increasingly clear that xenophobia is not the villain.

I'm not sure whether to find it surprising that Kostrzewa finds the following significant:

During last week's debate, 25 Latino and Anglo business owners, bankers, buyers, managers and consultants gathered at the old Hope Club in Providence at a networking meeting of the World Affairs Council Of Rhode Island, a nonprofit group.

They shared and discussed ideas about marketing, media and how to reach customers to expand their businesses. They laughed about language mistakes when people from different cultures interact. They all left a lot smarter, with new ideas for making money.

The true contrast of this vignette with the governor's travails isn't so much one of facts versus no facts as it is one of joint cooperation toward a separate end versus wrangling over policy with different ends in view. When business people — any people — get together, superficialities like language recede into the scenery. When special interests and racial demagogues refuse to treat illegal immigration as a discrete issue, they make superficialities central in order to hide the important distinctions.

April 11, 2008

Is This Hostile Talk Radio? (Un Pueblo Unido Redux)

Justin Katz

Latino Public Radio Chairman Pablo Rodriguez offers his own version of "un pueblo unido no mas sera vencido" (emphasis added):

I want to believe the governor when he says he is not anti-immigrant. However, his concept of the immigrant community stands in stark contrast to the realities of families and relationships. Thousands of small businesses and jobs are created by the growth of immigrant communities. More than two in three children in undocumented households are citizens by virtue of birth, and unless we change the Constitution they have every right of citizenship, and anything that threatens the stability of their family is a threat to their health. This inseparable nexus of undocumented parents with citizen children is at the heart of what constitutes the immigrant community as one body, regardless of immigration status. A threat to one is a threat to all.

Rodriguez goes on to insist that "business and the economy will suffer irreparable harm if Latinos vote with their feet and abandon the state," and I suppose it must be admitted that businesses will have to increase employee compensation in order to induce citizens and legal residents to take jobs that currently offer artificially low remuneration. Perhaps the state could use the hundreds of millions of dollars it will save in services currently provided to illegal immigrants to improve the horrid business climate of the state in order to counterbalance the lost wages of exploitation.

Toward Calm and Constructive Dialogue

Justin Katz

Credit is due to the editorial writers of the Rhode Island Catholic for the following:

Unfortunately, many groups and individuals have failed to grasp the call for calm and constructive dialogue on this serious issue. Last week at the Rhode Island State House, while an immigrant group loudly protested Governor Carcieri's actions, they also stormed his policy offices in defiance of security officials. Neither serves the common good of society nor do they help secure a positive and peaceful dialogue about serious issues facing immigrants and the State of Rhode Island.

If the state's and country's religious and other moral leaders would voice this point more strongly, coupled with the conveyance that they actually understand the objections of the other side, they might help to pull people together toward fruitful discussion. Unfortunately, even were such an effort likely, resolution will remain beyond our cultural grasp as long as immigrants and activists insist on making "un pueblo unido" their centerpiece, because their only route toward victory is by means of a divided nation.

April 10, 2008

POV: The Employer of Undocumented Immigrants

Monique Chartier

Ceasing the exploitation of human beings is one of the reasons that so many of us support the enforcement of our immigration laws, particularly those pertaining to employment. [Note to Congress: Comprehensive immigration reform is not needed. The only problem with our existing immigration laws is that they are insufficiently enforced. This matter only requires a little oversight, not the revamping of perfectly good laws. Thank you.]

Commenter Greg reminds us, for example, that ICE might find it worth their while to visit Ira Green Incorporated in Providence. And the latest word out of Packaging Concepts Ltd, where Leonardo Cos was terribly injured, is that a second shift has been activated so as to boost production (ahead of a possible ICE raid?). But only "temporary" workers - employees brought in by the temporary employment agency Central 2000 - can sign up for this additional shift. It is an open secret at that company that most of the temporary workers there are undocumented immigrants. This stipulation can only be a cost-saving measure; "temporary" workers at Packaging Concepts must be paid less than documented ones. By the way, especially in light of Mr. Cos' injury on the job, isn't the parent company of Packaging Concepts, Abbott Industries, just a squidge nervous that one of its subsidiaries employs undocumented immigrants?

In today's Valley Breeze, former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet gets into the mind of the person who hires undocumented immigrants, allegedly including but not limited to the owners and managers of Ira Green Inc. and Packaging Concepts.

There is an employer in Rhode Island who has hired illegal immigrants. He pays them less than minimum wage since it is still more than they would make in Central America.

He has them where he wants them. They can't complain about poor housing, working conditions or long hours since he can threaten them with sending the authorities to their home and deporting them and their entire families. In fact, he thinks he's a hell of a fella for hiring them here in the Ocean State where they are getting more than they'd make back home, and more benefits.

"You have it good," he reminds his employees periodically. "If you're sick, go to the emergency room for care. It's for free. If you think you can't subsist on my wages which I pay you, apply for welfare in the name of your children. The state will give you money, housing, food stamps, free daycare and other benefits. See, isn't this a better situation than what you had in your native land? Stop complaining about my treatment of you. You should be grateful."

The employer hears a knock on his office door. A black Rhode Island citizen is there to apply for a job. "Beat it!" he's told. "Why should I hire you? You'll cost me more. There's no reason why I should pony up minimum wage for your salary. You're a drop-out and you are not worth it to me when I can make a killing in profits by doing what I'm doing now." The black man leaves dejected. He's one of tens of thousands of black men and women who can't get minimum wage jobs because he's been replaced by cheaper labor, albeit illegal labor.

The employer takes out his cigar and chuckles. "I've got it made," he thinks. "The bleeding hearts who complain that hiring illegals creates an apartheid situation where the illegals are more like slaves are now on the run because of the newest salvos."

He picks up the week's newspapers and contentedly grins. The governor is being lambasted. The lieutenant governor is busting the governor's chops by saying he's divisive by his attempt to uphold the law. "She'll run for governor in the future," he muses, "so I'll be safe hiring these greenhorns for quite a while."

The employer laughs out loud. "I even have the church on my side!" he says as he leafs through another edition of The Providence Journal. "Maybe I'll get to heaven, after all! He reads Bishop Tobin's and Rabbi Alan Flam's castigation of the governor. "That'll shut Carcieri up," he gloats. "Look at all the clergy who are ganging up on the governor. Ha! Maybe I'll even get a citizen of the year award," he hoots out loud again.

"Now here's the piece de resistance," he concludes. The columnists in the Journal like Charles Bakst and Bob Kerr are killing the governor, too. "That'll keep me safe. I can do what I want. They will continue to put the heat on the Pooh-Bahs and prevent any raids here. Maybe I won't have to fix up this dump where they work, after all." He sighs about the further profits he'll make.

He puts down the paper and decides to head for lunch. As he passes through his factory, he notes what good workers the illegals are. They've been working since 7 a.m. without a break. At 1 p.m. they'll have 15 minutes off for lunch. Then they'll work until 5 p.m. with no overtime, of course. For 50 bucks a day they are a bargain. Who needs pushy black Rhode Islanders who want a minimum wage? Smiling, he heads out to his swanky club to meet other entrepreneurs like himself.

April 8, 2008

An Unhelpful Visitor From Out of State

Monique Chartier

It sounds like during the 4:00 hour, WPRO's Dan Yorke was trying to diffuse the visceral reaction that some of his listeners, myself included, had to the remarks made by the "minister" (quotes because no true minister would utter the remarks he made) from New Jersey by pointing out where the "minister" from New Jersey agrees with the Governor's Executive Order.

Thanks, I'm not interested at the moment, though I look forward to returning to such a harmonious spot soon.

The "minister", in studio during the 3:00 hour with a Rhode Island minister, Rep Palumbo and Senator Maselli, threw the following bombs, paraphrased except for quotes:

> He said that the basis of all anti-illegal immigration legislation is preservation of the "Anglo-Saxon" something-or-other - translation, it is purely racist.

> He made reference to "ethnic cleansing".

> And he said that his organization was prepared to "sue" over the Governor's Order and/or the Palumbo/Maselli bill.

Ah, but the third item perhaps is understandable. Given that the first two utterly baseless assertions drain any credibility from his words, litigation may be the only means by which the "minister" can be heard in this conversation.

Remembering that such false, vile accusations only confirm the validity of the Governor's Executive Order as well as bills such as those introducted by Palumbo, Maselli, Singleton and Brien will help me return to that more harmonious spot.


Podcast courtesy WPRO available here.


Commenter Joe B (more specifically, Joe B quoting his clearly thoughtful wife) referred with dismay to prior remarks by the Director of DCYF, Patricia Martinez, about the Governor's Executive Order. Ms. Martinez has now apologized for those remarks.

“I apologize for any misperceptions my comments might have caused,” she said in a statement released after the meeting. “In particular, I did not mean to imply that the governor’s actions were spreading hatred.”

Her comments are appreciated. Prodded by the ProJo, however, she did go on to say that

... she disputed assertions made recently by the governor and his supporters that undocumented immigrants are a drain on Rhode Island’s resources.

“We need to have the right facts before we begin to point fingers at everyone,”

Another of the Governor's staff members said something similar Monday on the Helen Glover Show - that the number of undocumented immigrants must be definitively quantified before we take steps to deal with the issue.

There are two problems with this. First of all, it is not disputed that undocumented immigrants have a presence in our state. Secondly, taking this approach - counting their exact number or calculating the exact cost of this state of affairs before taking minimal measures to address it - is simply a holding action, tantamount to doing nothing.

This Means It's Working

Justin Katz

Governor Carcieri's executive order is already proving to be a success:

Rhode Island's decision to order State Police and other state agencies to help enforce federal immigration law is jarring border cities in Massachusetts, where illegal immigrants say they are now afraid to enter the Ocean State.

If they're that reluctant to cross a state border (with habitual experience of the ease of travel from state to state), imagine how much less likely they'd be to make a beeline to our state across a national border. Those who've opposed attempts to control illegal immigration on the grounds that it is impossible ought to take note.

Don't They Bear Some Responsibility?

Justin Katz

Commenter JP has it right: The Providence Phoenix profile of the Providence diocese's immigration point-woman Stella Carrera is yet another litmus test on the issue. Consider one of several stories from her clients:

One of the faces Carrera knows is that of Carla Rodriguez (not her real name), a 42-year-old Guatemalan native who has been in the US illegally since 1994. At that time, Rodriguez, her husband, and her five children flew to Mexico and walked across the border into California. Rodriguez was eight or nine months pregnant. A week later, she gave birth to her sixth child. The family flew to Providence to be with Rodriguez's brothers and sisters, who had moved here years earlier. Her husband worked as a locksmith, and her children began to attend public school. The family has lived in fear for 13 years. It makes them nervous even to be out in the streets. They are afraid they will be stopped and deported. They don't go out, except to go to church, to the grocery store, and occasionally to visit relatives. The children do not work, or go to parties. They come straight home after school.

Of course we're rightly sympathetic to the difficult position in which their immigration status places the children, but where's the admission of culpability from the parents? Do they ever feel a pang of responsibility for having brought six children into circumstances that require them to keep such a low profile? Clearly, they find it to be a more attractive option to support a family of eight on a maximum salary (as reported) of $18,200 in the American shadows than in the broad daylight of Guatemala, but where's the gratitude to the society that has picked up a tab that surely amounts to many times that?

Another woman left her son in El Salvador and sends him $50 a week from a $15,600 salary. While in Rhode Island, she married an illegal immigrant (who, tragically, was murdered by robbers subsequent to his deportation), with whom she had two more children. The woman appears to be in the country with refugee status, but it's notable that she hasn't bothered to learn the language of the country that is protecting her during her 12-year stay.

Bishop Thomas Tobin frequently cites Jesus' suggestion that helping strangers is tantamount to helping Him, but it's difficult to see the lesson as applying to such cases. How many working class Rhode Islanders must live that much closer to the edge — some certainly slipping off — to ensure that their state remains an international beacon to large families that take up residence for the duration of their children's education? There must be moral obligations on such families — to acclimate, to contribute, to appreciate, to minimize the burden — but I just don't think I've ever heard immigration advocates enunciate them.

April 7, 2008

A Letter to the Catholic Church From a Parishioner

Monique Chartier

Jason Martins, producer of WPRO's Matt Allen Show, put the following letter in the collection basket yesterday in lieu of an offering.

Dear Father,

I am writing this letter in response to the comments made by Bishop Tobin earlier this week following the Executive Order by Governor Carcieri focusing on illegal immigration.

As you have noticed by now, I have chosen not to include an offering this week. This is my small way of expressing my displeasure with the stance that Bishop Tobin has decided to take on the increasingly important issue of illegal immigration. While I understand that the Bishop's stance is based on faith and not politics, I am writing to you as an American citizen who is deeply concerned about the future of this great nation we've inherited.

Why would Bishop Tobin support illegal aliens and not the millions of Catholic Americans who are disgusted by what is happening to this country?

As an American citizen and taxpayer, I find it disturbing that I work 2 jobs, 6 days a week (Sunday is my day off, of course), I pay taxes, and then I see that tax money going to people who are not supposed to be in this country, while hard working Americans struggle just to get by. If they were able to keep their own money maybe they wouldn’t have to struggle so much.

To me, and most like-minded Americans, this is a clear-cut issue, and the argument for the illegal immigrant advocates holds no water. So when the local leader of my religion chooses to support people who have broken the law by entering this country without permission and who steal my tax money then send it back to their homeland, the line in the sand has been crossed.

Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts called the Governor's Executive Order "divisive." What is more divisive than local leaders appearing at press conferences and taking sides with people who break the law and steal from Americans? That may not have been the Bishops intention, but when you hold a press conference with illegal aliens, against the Governor, the perception will be that you have taken a side. Bishop Tobin can say that he agrees with the Governor but may not like the timing or the effect the Executive Order may have, but at least Governor Carcieri is taking action that Americans can rally behind.

My only hope is that Bishop Tobin and the Catholic Church can support Catholic Americans in our attempt to save the country that was created by Christians under the premise that "In God We Trust."

I use this small gesture of protest to ask Bishop Tobin and all religious leaders to encourage illegal immigrants to go home, come here the right way, and lawfully enjoy all the opportunity that this great country has to offer.

Joseph Bernstein: Racial Profiling vs. Real Profiling

Engaged Citizen

The basic fallacy being promoted by Senator Juan Pichardo and the ACLU of Rhode Island is that "racial profiling" will result from the governor's initiative (PDF). Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I was an INS agent in Chicago, I spent a lot of time on the common carrier detail, which was basically identifying and arresting illegal aliens using various forms of public transportation. It was a volatile situation at best, but we were never seriously accused of violating the rights of any U.S. citizen or resident alien.

When we worked the domestic terminal at O'Hare checking the "smuggler's special" flights from the West and Southwest, we profiled behavior and other articulable facts rather than just racial appearance. Men wearing two pairs of pants was a dead giveaway (the old pair outside to preserve the newer pair while crossing the border). Dental work on younger people that hadn't been done in the United States in many years. Inability to speak English when casually approached. A group of young men together wearing nearly identical out-of-date platform shoes and double-knit leisure suits (provided by the higher-end smugglers). "Reading" an English language newspaper upside down. Need I go on?

In another venue, the mass transit facilities in the city of Chicago, we stopped a lot of non-Latinos — many East Indians, Caucasians, and Africans — based on dress, the neighborhood, and other factors. The point here is that we didn't just stop people of "Latino" appearance. If such individuals exited a plane or a bus acting and dressed like they knew where they were and what was going on around them, they didn't merit a second glance. Believe it or not, some aliens were still dirty with dust and grime from their crossing. But we did not interfere with people who were lawfully here.

In the case of the ACI, there are two means of identifying potential persons of interest: place of birth, which is a normal pedigree question upon arrest or commitment to facility, and criminal record based on fingerprints. If fingerprint history shows a previous incident of processing by the U.S. Border Patrol, INS Investigations Branch (no longer in existence), or ICE, that is sufficient to conduct an investigation regardless of claimed place of birth. As for the latter, the Board of Immigration Appeals has held that admission of birth abroad is a prima facie indication of alienage. There are many people born abroad who are U.S. citizens at birth or through naturalization. A brief inquiry is usually sufficient to determine this, although there are some individuals who falsely claim U.S. citizenship, a serious felony (18USC911).

Note that, in both instances, race and specific national origin are not the elements which initiate the investigation. So how does this constitute "racial profiling"? It would be applied to all foreign born individuals in the ACI.

I recall a major case we worked in Illinois in the early 1980s when I was assigned to the Chicago Anti-Smuggling unit (now called "human trafficking"). It involved Caucasian aliens from Kosovo. A state trooper who was an expert at detecting smuggling "loads" (he intercepted over 800 smuggled aliens in just one year on I-80) stopped an automobile for overloading. There were eight adult males. The driver was a U.S. citizen, but none of his passengers could speak a word of English and apparently had no idea where they were. The trooper detained the vehicle and its occupants and called INS. This initiated the largest non-Mexican smuggling investigation in the history of the Chicago District Office, resulting in the indictment of eleven individuals.

"Racial profiling" played no role in this case. The trooper and all the occupants of the vehicle were white. The trooper relied on his knowledge and experience to evaluate the situation based on behavior, circumstances, and language (or lack thereof). He applied the same standard he always used regardless of the racial makeup of the vehicle occupants.

What we used as parameters to initiate questioning involved mainly behavior, clothing, location, and occupation (e.g., cab drivers). Interestingly, we never questioned or arrested Latino cab drivers because it was almost unknown for illegal aliens of Latino background to drive cabs and, the Latino drivers we observed were generally assumed to be citizens/legal residents.

In general, law enforcement agencies other than ICE should not engage in proactive investigation of immigration status of individuals absent an underlying arrest/detention for violations within the jurisdiction of the agency involved. An exception would be when a felony is apparently being committed in the presence of the officers — such as a traffic stop of a van when it is observed that a large group of people is contained within and have apparently been using improvised toilet facilities, are in dirty conditions indicative of a long trip without a chance to wash up, have soiled clothing possibly as a result of a border crossing, don't speak English, all of which would indicate the crime of smuggling/transporting under 8USC1324. This is a serious felony with potential incarceration of up to five years per alien transported/smuggled .

The Rhode Island State Police are exemplary professionals, and I believe they will put their ICE training to work in conjunction with their own training and experience to perform duties relating to illegal aliens in a restrained and dignified way, based on solid facts and observations rather than whim.

Joseph Bernstein worked for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now ICE) for twenty years, including twelve years in the Providence area.

April 5, 2008

Absolut Aztlan?

Justin Katz

So the makers of Absolut vodka are advertising in Mexico with the statement that, "In an Absolut World," the Southwestern United States would be the territory of our neighbors to the south. One might call it immanentizing the endgame.

Well, my choice of vodkas just became easier by the subtraction of one.


(More on Gateway Pundit.)

April 4, 2008

Immigration Disconnect

Justin Katz

"Fear grips immigrant community in wake of Carcieri's executive order" screams the headline of a Rhode Island Catholic story that doesn't appear to be online. For all of the talk about divisiveness, I'd wager that there's a fundamental disconnect from side to side in reaction to such details as this:

The undocumented people who are targeted by Carcieri's order are often people whose families and even children are American citizens, according to [Stella Carrera, coordinator of Immigration and Refugee Services for the Diocese of Providence]. They often enter the country with legal visas to visit family, work temporarily or study and, once the visas expire, do not return to their native countries to await being awarded legal immigrant status from the U.S.

The waiting list for people to become citizens, even for those being sponsored by a family member, are often backlogged for nearly a decade, according to data provided by Carrera. Someone who wants to become an American citizen is forced to make a difficult decision: either be separated from their American families for years while awaiting legal status, or stay in the country illegally to work or raise a family and hope they can keep a low profile.

The conspicuous silence begins with the introduction of individual agency: Legal visitors, temporary workers, and students should be aware that their time here is limited. That's spelled out explicitly in the expired documents of the now-undocumented. Having to choose between a low, illegal profile, a period of separation, or the relocation of the whole family to another country while waiting for new documents (a never-mentioned option) was a wholly foreseeable possibility.

Keep an eye on that passive voice: "Someone who wants to become an American citizen is forced to make a difficult decision." Forced by whom? By a law of which that person was surely aware long ago, or by his or her own prior decisions and a native country that creates the incentive to flee, even if doing so means becoming a stationary fugitive?

If religious leaders truly wish to play a considered, unifying role in the heated immigration dispute, they ought to be at least as vocal in encouraging the immigrants and activists to do everything they can to prove their desire to ease into America on its own terms — as opposed to chanting about citizens' inability to defeat them.

The Roberts Paradox

Carroll Andrew Morse

Cynthia Needham reports in today's Projo on the beginning of Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts' statewide tour to promote her proposed new healthcare mandates…

Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts last night kicked off a statewide tour in South Providence to promote her health-care plan, making the first of 15 stops…

Similar to the Massachusetts system, the Roberts plan would require nearly all Rhode Islanders to have health coverage. Businesses with more than 10 employees would be expected to purchase insurance for their workers, or face fines. Individuals making at least $40,840 and families making $82,600 would be asked to purchase their own health care. The plan would also create a HealthHub, a quasi-public agency to help coordinate purchasing and regulate plans…

Roberts made only brief mention of the immigration issue. “This week I’ve been discouraged with how we do things in this state. But I still have confidence we can work together,” she said, segueing back to the evening’s conversation.

With respect to the illegal immigration issue mentioned by Ms. Needham, Lieutenant Governor Roberts has adopted the position that it is out-of-bounds for the state of Rhode Island to verify the citizenship/legal residency status of its new hires, believing it either to be too big a job for the government to handle, or maybe just unreasonable to ask. Yet at the same time, according to her healthcare legislation, Lt. Governor Roberts also believes that state government is ready and able to take on the burden of verifying the health insurance coverage status of every Rhode Islander...
44-30-101. Qualified coverage required -- (c) Every person required to file an individual income tax return as a resident of the state of Rhode Island, either separately or jointly with a spouse, shall indicate on the return, in a manner prescribed by the tax administrator, whether such person, as of the last day for the taxable year for which the return is filed:
(i) has qualified coverage in force as required under subsection 44-30-101(a) whether covered as an individual or as a named beneficiary of a policy covering multiple individuals; or
(ii) claims an exemption under section 44-30-102.

(d) If a person required to obtain and maintain qualified coverage under subsection 44-30-101(a) above who files a tax return in Rhode Island does not indicate on the return that he or she had such coverage in force, or if the person indicates that he or she had such coverage in force but the tax administrator determines, based on the information available to him or her, that such requirement of subsection 44-30-101(a) was not met, then the tax administrator shall compute the tax for the taxable year based on one less personal exemption, as set forth in section 44-30-2.6, than would otherwise be allowed….

44-30-103. Review -- An individual subject to section 44-30-101 who disputes the determination of applicability, as enforced by the department of revenue, may seek a review of this determination through an appeal established by the division of taxation under section 44-30-89; provided, however, that no additional penalties shall be enforced against an individual seeking review until the review is complete and any subsequent appeals have been exhausted.

Tell me, which sounds like an easier job to do, verifying the health insurance status of every Rhode Islander every year, or verifying the citizenship status of new state employees, one time, at the time of hire? The contrast emphasizes an obvious reality, that enforcing immigration law is something that certain politicians don't want to do, not something they believe can't be done.

I suppose that you might reach the conclusion that government doesn't have the time or resources to take the steps to prevent foreign nationals from breaking the law, as Lt. Governor Roberts apparently has, if you subscribe to the idea that the most important function of government is managing as tightly as possible the lives of law-abiding, gainfully employed citizens and residents. Still, it is legitimate to ask the Lt. Governor why she believes that government is competent enough to track the health insurance coverage of 1,000,000 Rhode Island residents on a year-to-year basis, but unable to reasonably determine the citizenship status of new state hires one-time.

Or does she just believe that illegal aliens are entitled to state jobs?

Re: "Un pueblo unido no mas sera vencido!"

Carroll Andrew Morse

The report on yesterday's storming of Smith Hill reminds me of an observation that Rocco DiPippo made when we were covering the International Workers of the World anti-police rally in North Providence a few months ago -- the United States is one of the safest places in the world to hold a demonstration of any kind, because you can count on the police and public safety personnel here in the U.S. to act honorably and professionally. Rhode Island's Capitol police showed that again yesterday.

And yet the consistent message heard at Rhode Island illegal immigration demonstrations and rallies is that cops can't be trusted, so it's better not to enforce certain laws at all. Oh, the ingratitude!

Will it ever dawn on Rhode Island's illegal immigration activists that demanding that police and other public safety personnel ignore laws for political reasons asks them to act a little less professionally, and a little more like the police from the countries that people are desperate to escape from in mass numbers?

"Un pueblo unido no mas sera vencido!"

Justin Katz

Whoa. Listen to the audio provided on the Providence Journal page to which Monique links in the previous post. The above quoted line — used to rally momentary resistance to police instructions — is sounding more and more like a threat than encouragement:

Outside the State House, [Providence City Councilman Miguel Luna] said, "When you have the top clergy in the state of Rhode Island and they can't get through to him [Governor Carcieri], this is the option left."

"Can't get through to him," because, you know, there is only one acceptable course of action, and they will demand that it be taken. Rather than set fear to work in shaken public officials, such attempts at intimidation ought strengthen resolve and hasten implementation of the governor's plans.

A Capitol Idea

Monique Chartier

Here's the plan.

Seventy five of us are going to charter a plane and fly to the capitols of half a dozen countries around the world. I'm thinking Lisbon, Santiago, Bern, Warsaw, Rome and London.

When we get to each city, we're going to "storm" the office of the policy director of the president or prime minister. We're going to hold signs, chant a broad, non-relevant but vaguely feel-good slogan (in English) and demand that that country not enforce its immigration laws or its borders.

At a minimum, we will get a distinctly non-hostile reception by the Mayor and Police Chief of each city and, of course, sympathetic coverage by the local media, which will treat our demands as eminently reasonable. Local civil liberty and advocacy groups will champion our cause as a basic human right (you know, the same as not being tortured or summarily executed) and social service agencies will offer us tax funded benefits, even entering a bypass number if necessary to get us into their systems.


April 3, 2008

A Novel Way of Referring to Rhode Island

Monique Chartier

At the news conference yesterday of Rhode Island clergy leaders where the Governor's Executive Order on illegal immigration was criticized with various levels of tact, the Reverend Donald C. Anderson, Executive Minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, observed

In God's kingdom there are no second-class citizens, only sisters and brothers.

Rhode Island is lovely but cannot be confused for God's kingdom. Or perhaps he was not literally referring to Rhode Island?

April 1, 2008

Giving New Meaning to Universal Health Care

Monique Chartier

A caller to the Dan Yorke Show this afternoon did not quite connect the dots but juxtaposed Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts' position on universal health care (she favors it) with her call for the Governor to withdraw his Executive Order pertaining to illegal immigration.

The caller raised an interesting point. Putting together the Lieutenant Governor's positions, if the Governor's eminently reasonable, even minimal, Executive Order is rescinded and undocumented immigrants continue to arrive in the state, what will be the eventual cost of universal health care if it is implemented? And who will pick up that tab?

Hang in There, Gov

Justin Katz

The curious thing is that they don't offer an "instead":

At least 250 people packed the Algonquin House on Broad Street for the 2 p.m. news conference, sponsored by Immigrants United, We Can Stop the Hate Rhode Island, Univocal Legislative Minority Advocacy and Hispanic Ministerial Association

Miguel Sanchez-Hartwein, executive director of the Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy (CHisPA), noted that a letter was hand-delivered to Carcieri this morning. The letter calls Carcieri's executive order "the biggest attack on the rights of immigrants in Rhode Island in at least a generation."

At several points, people chanted "Un Pueblo Unido Jamàs sera Vencido!" (A united people will never be defeated).

"A people united will never be defeated." What people? La Raza? And against whom are they marching — for what? And how would that united people address illegal immigration? The answer is that they would not, as the print edition version of the report goes on to illustrate:

Miguel Sanchez-Hartwein, executive director of the Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy and member of We Can Stop The Hate Rhode Island, said though Carcieri "makes it sound like illegal immigration here is out of control," illegal immigrants account for between "1.9 and 3.7 percent" of Rhode Island's immigrant population. U.S. Homeland Security and the Pew Hispanic Center estimate Rhode Island's illegal immigrant population at between 20,000 and 40,000 people, he said.

It takes the "nation of immigrants" truism too far to make 2–4% of Rhode Island's total population into only 1.9–3.7% of its immigrant population, but math aside, I wonder why the anxiety of legal immigrants' fellow citizens and fellow legal residents over illegal immigration isn't enough for them to begin "a constructive dialog" about working together to secure our borders and stop the inflow of illegals. As I've said, if legal residents are concerned about insufficient differentiation between them and the targeted subgroup, they ought to be working to expand the differences.

Or perhaps my suggestion misconstrues which people they mean to unite, and they worry that in following it they wouldn't be inconquerable.

The Immigration Executive Order II (And why Normal People Think Progressives are a Tad Strange)

Carroll Andrew Morse

The first 2 sections of Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri's executive order on immigration concern the use of an automated system called "E-Verify" for confirming whether new hires by state government and state government contractors are in the country legally…

1. The Department of Administration shall register and use the federal government’s E-Verify program to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires in the Executive Branch and the validity of their Social Security numbers to ensure that all employees of the Executive Branch are legally eligible to be employed in the United States and take appropriate action against those that are not eligible for employment, consistent with federal and state law. For purposes of this Order, the Executive Branch of government is considered to be all agencies and departments in the Executive Branch, excluding the offices of general officers, said officers being the Department of Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and General Treasurer.

2. The Department of Administration shall require that all persons and businesses, including grantees, contractors and their subcontractors and vendors doing business with the State of Rhode Island also register with and utilize the services of the E-Verify program to ensure compliance with federal and state law.

Even before the issuance of the Governor's order, a number of progressive legislators had filed a General Assembly resolution objecting to the use of E-Verify…
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby urges employers not to participate in the E-Verify program at this time, and calls upon the United States Congress to halt implementation of this program until such time as the issues described in this resolution are satisfactorily resolved
However, don't let the objection to E-Verify let you think that Rhode Island's progressives are opposed to the government and corporations (gasp!) investigating their employees -- even after they've been hired. Also introduced in the legislature this session by a group of progressive legislators (and Bruce Long) was a bill to require all Rhode Island employers above a certain size to designate a "transportation coordinator", who would be required to collect commuting information on all company employees and report it back to the government…
23-83-5. Requirements for employers -- (a) Not more than six (6) months after the adoption of the commute trip reduction plan by the department, each major employer in the state of Rhode Island shall develop a commute trip reduction program and shall submit a description of that program to the department for review. The program shall be implemented not more than six (6) months after submission to the department.

(b) A commute trip reduction program shall consist of, at a minimum:
(1) designation of a transportation coordinator and the display of the name, location, and telephone number of the coordinator in a prominent manner at each affected worksite…
(3) an annual review of employee commuting and reporting of progress toward meeting the single occupant vehicle reduction goals to the department consistent with the method established in the commute trip reduction plan;

At least one progressive legislator, State Representative Arthur Handy, was a sponsor of both the E-Verify resolution and the commuting restriction bill! So at the same time that Rhode Island's progressive brain-trust is telling us that identifying whether new hires are in the country legally is beyond what can reasonably be accomplished right now, they are also telling us that government is ready and able to continuously collect information on and ultimately restrict the activities of a great number of Rhode Islanders who drive to work!

Do you see a bit of a contradiction here? It's a strange attitude towards government that these progressives have, that the main function of government is to tightly manage the activities of law-abiding citizens and residents, while ignoring law-breaking by foreign nationals.

The Immigration Executive Order II (And why Normal People Think Progressives are a Tad Strange)

Carroll Andrew Morse

The first 2 sections of Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri's executive order on immigration concern the use of an automated system called "E-Verify" for confirming whether new hires by state government and state government contractors are in the country legally…

1. The Department of Administration shall register and use the federal government’s E-Verify program to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires in the Executive Branch and the validity of their Social Security numbers to ensure that all employees of the Executive Branch are legally eligible to be employed in the United States and take appropriate action against those that are not eligible for employment, consistent with federal and state law. For purposes of this Order, the Executive Branch of government is considered to be all agencies and departments in the Executive Branch, excluding the offices of general officers, said officers being the Department of Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and General Treasurer.

2. The Department of Administration shall require that all persons and businesses, including grantees, contractors and their subcontractors and vendors doing business with the State of Rhode Island also register with and utilize the services of the E-Verify program to ensure compliance with federal and state law.

Even before the issuance of the Governor's order, a number of progressive legislators had filed a General Assembly resolution objecting to the use of E-Verify…
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby urges employers not to participate in the E-Verify program at this time, and calls upon the United States Congress to halt implementation of this program until such time as the issues described in this resolution are satisfactorily resolved
However, don't let the objection to E-Verify let you think that Rhode Island's progressives are opposed to the government and corporations (gasp!) investigating their employees -- even after they've been hired. Also introduced in the legislature this session by a group of progressive legislators (and Bruce Long) was a bill to require all Rhode Island employers above a certain size to designate a "transportation coordinator", who would be required to collect commuting information on all company employees and report it back to the government…
23-83-5. Requirements for employers -- (a) Not more than six (6) months after the adoption of the commute trip reduction plan by the department, each major employer in the state of Rhode Island shall develop a commute trip reduction program and shall submit a description of that program to the department for review. The program shall be implemented not more than six (6) months after submission to the department.

(b) A commute trip reduction program shall consist of, at a minimum:
(1) designation of a transportation coordinator and the display of the name, location, and telephone number of the coordinator in a prominent manner at each affected worksite…
(3) an annual review of employee commuting and reporting of progress toward meeting the single occupant vehicle reduction goals to the department consistent with the method established in the commute trip reduction plan;

At least one progressive legislator, State Representative Arthur Handy, was a sponsor of both the E-Verify resolution and the commuting restriction bill! So at the same time that Rhode Island's progressive brain-trust is telling us that identifying whether new hires are in the country legally is beyond what can reasonably be accomplished right now, they are also telling us that government is ready and able to continuously collect information on and ultimately restrict the activities of a great number of Rhode Islanders who drive to work!

Do you see a bit of a contradiction here? It's a strange attitude towards government that these progressives have, that the main function of government is to tightly manage the activities of law-abiding citizens and residents, while ignoring law-breaking by foreign nationals.

The Immigration Executive Order: What's Really In It

Carroll Andrew Morse

Governor Donald Carcieri's executive order concerning illegal immigration basically has two sections, a set of provisions that apply to the state government's hiring procedures, and a set of provisions that apply to law enforcement.

The first three provisions apply to state government; the first two specifically to hiring…

1. The Department of Administration shall register and use the federal government’s E-Verify program to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires in the Executive Branch and the validity of their Social Security numbers to ensure that all employees of the Executive Branch are legally eligible to be employed in the United States and take appropriate action against those that are not eligible for employment, consistent with federal and state law. For purposes of this Order, the Executive Branch of government is considered to be all agencies and departments in the Executive Branch, excluding the offices of general officers, said officers being the Department of Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and General Treasurer.

2. The Department of Administration shall require that all persons and businesses, including grantees, contractors and their subcontractors and vendors doing business with the State of Rhode Island also register with and utilize the services of the E-Verify program to ensure compliance with federal and state law.

I'll have a bit more to say about these provisions in an upcoming post.

Provision 3 requires the state to notify victims of identity theft discovered by enforcement of provisions 1 and 2 that a crime has been perpetrated against them…

3. The Directors of each department and state agency in the Executive Branch shall attempt to notify any person whose identity was stolen or otherwise improperly used by any person in order receive any benefit, including but not limited to child care, health care, any government issued identification card, including driver’s license and non-driver’s license identification, welfare or employment.
Do progessive leaders like Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts and Reverend Eliseo Nogueras really object to letting people who have had their identities stolen know about it as soon as possible?

Objections to this portion of the executive order provide some fascinating (though unintended) insight into the progressive mindset. Rhode Island's progressives don't seem to have any room in their hearts and minds for regular, law-abiding citizens who become the victims of crimes through no fault of their own. They've decided that the job of government is to take care of special interests and identity politics groups, whatever the cost to everyone else. Crime victims don't rate as enough of a special interest to merit any attention, so, according to the Lieutenant Governor and other progressives who want the entire executive order repealed, if you're a victim of identity theft, you are own your own; government has more important things to do than helping protect you from crimes.

Provisions 4 through 7 in the executive order refer specifically to the law-enforcing branches of government, the state police and department of corrections. Provision 4 authorizes training for the state police for immigration-related matters…

4. The Rhode Island State Police, pursuant to the authority set forth in Section 287(g) of IIRAIRA and INA, shall work to secure a MOA with ICE to receive training necessary to enable them to assist ICE personnel in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Provision 5 provides for training for corrections personnel, and for corrections personnel to work under the joint supervision of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement...
5. The Department of Corrections shall also work with ICE officials to secure an MOA that will define the scope of state correctional personnel authority to perform certain immigration law enforcement functions which shall be subject to the cross-supervision of ICE and permit certain correctional personnel to complete appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn ICE officers to combat illegal immigration issues at the Adult Correctional Institution, consistent with federal and state law.
So far, there's nothing more than here than facilitating inter-agency co-operation to enforce existing law under the jurisdiction of ICE. If ICE asks for help, the Governor wants state law enforcement officials to have the proper training to provide it. Isn't proper training the best way to reduce the excesses of so-called "profiling" that progressives fret about?

Provision 6 will probably become the most controversial section…

6. It is urged that all law enforcement officials, including state and local law enforcement agencies take steps to support the enforcement of federal immigration laws by investigating and determining the immigration status of all non-citizens taken into custody, incarcerated, or under investigation for any crime and notifying federal authorities of all illegal immigrants discovered as a result of such investigations.
Most importantly, provision 6 does not authorize state and local law enforcement agencies to begin enforcing Federal immigration laws on their own. Only after an individual has been "taken into custody", "incarcerated", or is "under investigation" for some other violation of the laws -- applicable to citizen and non-citizen alike -- can an investigation under provision 6 commence, and the only responsibility of state and local authorities have resulting from such investigations is to notify the Federal government that they may have an illegal immigrant in their custody.

However, the "taken into custody" clause of provision 6 could potentially present a problem. With just the usual information that is collected about individuals "taken into custody", is it possible to determine whether they are citizens or non-citizens? (Over to you, Joe Bernstein…). If that initial determination cannot be made, then technically section 6 can't be applied, since law enforcement officials have to already know that the person is a non-citizen for it to activate.

Individuals "incarcerated" or "under investigation", on the other hand, don't present any reasonable problem here. Once someone is under investigation for one crime, any other crimes that they may have committed become fair game for further investigation. (Though I can understand why some Rhode Island public officials might wish to undermine this principle of the law!)

Finally, section 7 applies, again, only to people already tried and convicted by the justice system for some other crime…

7. The Parole Board and the Department of Corrections shall work cooperatively with ICE personnel to provide for the parole and deportation of criminal aliens.

March 30, 2008

Governor's Executive Order: Backing Out the Fiction

Monique Chartier

Back up a dump truck!

However, the various misinformed assertions about the Governor's Executive Order are quickly disposed of:

Racial profiling - N/A

Scapegoating - N/A

Hate - N/A

Political grandstanding for campaign purposes - Humorous and N/A

As are these:

National origin, color of skin, accent - N/A

Taking the law into one's own hands - N/A (... except, apparently, when one is a member of the state Senate and hungry after hours)

That such baseless statements are still being trotted out a couple of years after this discussion began confirms the complete absence of any substantive or rational arguments for not enforcing our borders, not upholding our immigration laws, not affirming our sovereignty and not respecting the efforts of those immigrants who complied with our laws to come here.

Switching for a moment from the macro to the micro and focusing on the remarks by the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Democrat Party after the Governor's press conference - Mr. Executive Director:

1.) Please look up the definition of the word "plummet" before employing it again.

2.) As for your statement

Doesn’t the governor understand that hundreds of thousands of immigrants have legally come to Rhode Island’s borders for the past two centuries and have greatly contributed to our society?

Yes, in fact, we all understand and concur. This is a proud tradition that we are seeking to continue through enforcement of our immigration laws and this Executive Order. At last, a point of agreement has been located.

Denying the Profile

Justin Katz

The ways in which communities congeal are comprehensible, and although we should lament the development unto primacy of identity politics, it is understandable that people get sucked into them. That said, I still have difficulty empathizing with this sort of thing, said (this time) in response to the governor's recent moves against illegal immigration:

"Are people now going to take the law into their own hands? He didn't answer that when he was asked," said Pichardo. Rather than tamping "the heated rhetoric" on this issue, the governor "has increased the fear among the immigrant community — among both documented and undocumented immigrants," and served to "more deeply entrench the encampments on both sides of this issue."

Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, predicted that the governor's executive order "is only going to increase the problem of racial profiling in the state. The governor can ignore all the data and statistics out there that document the problem that already exists, but this executive order will only exacerbate it, to the detriment of any person in Rhode Island who looks and speaks a certain way. This has nothing to do with whether anyone is legal or illegal — his order is going to affect everyone based on their national origin, color of their skin and their accent and it's very unfortunate."

Racial profiling is certainly wrong and ought to be addressed, but that would be easier to do if legal immigrants were more clearly interested in establishing a distinct profile from illegal immigrants. A central reason for the us-versus-them nature of this dispute is that, no matter how clear citizens with legitimate concerns and complaints about our poorly enforced immigration laws are about whom they see as the "them," the immigrant community — or at least their public-square representatives — seems only more tightly to wrap its arms around the subset intended.

March 27, 2008

Changes to RI Immigration Policies

Carroll Andrew Morse

Ray Henry of the Associated Press has a preview of the changes to immigration policy that Governor Donald Carcieri plans to announce today…

Gov. Don Carcieri plans to sign an executive order Thursday forcing prison officials and state police to identify illegal immigrants in state custody and requiring that state agencies take other steps to penalize immigration violators, a lawmaker said Wednesday....

A written statement from Carcieri's office said there is a growing number of illegal immigrants, and the federal government is not taking action. It said the Republican governor will also endorse legislation that has been introduced in the Democratic-dominated General Assembly that will accomplish the same goal.

Among other steps, Carcieri will require the state Department of Corrections and state police to identify and report illegal immigrants in their custody, said Rep. Joseph Trillo, who said he has discussed the proposal with Carcieri's staff. Once state law enforcement identifies illegal immigrants, they can alert federal immigration authorities to begin deportation proceedings....

Carcieri has also been considering proposals that would affect employers.

A Carcieri staffer recently told Rep. Jon Brien that the governor planned to sign an executive order forcing state agencies and contractors to verify the legal status of their workers, Brien said. The Democratic lawmaker had asked Carcieri to support a bill requiring private employers to do the same.

March 24, 2008

How the Michael Bianco Action Was Actually Handled

Monique Chartier

March 6 was the one year anniversary of the "raid" by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Michael Bianco Incorporated in New Bedford. Remember that managers at the factory (allegedly) did not just knowingly hire undocumented immigrants but would helpfully direct applicants (allegedly) down the street to obtain (allegedly) fake documents as needed.

In researching related matters, I came across this statement by ICE which describes in detail the manner in which the action was handled and how the familial situations of employees were carefully anticipated and accommodated. As there will almost certainly be more such enforcement activity by ICE at other workplaces (and my own preference has always been for a concentration on employer rather than employee), the compassion and professionalism with which ICE handled the Michael Bianco action and enforced our laws should be made clear.

Some excerpts:

MYTH: Information regarding the whereabouts of those detained was not provided to family members, reported by WHDH-TV Boston, AP, and Boston Globe.

FACT: ICE set up and staffed a 24-hour toll-free hotline for family members of those who have been arrested to field questions about their locations and about the removal process. Those arrested at the worksite were also given telephone access to inform family members of the situation.

MYTH: ICE failed to provide detainees with adequate child care options, resulting in hundreds of children stranded without responsible care.

FACT: ICE took extraordinary care to determine if any of the arrestees were sole caregivers. This included direct questioning of all arrestees on the day of the enforcement operation. These interviews were conducted at the enforcement site specifically to determine the needs and status of any children impacted by the operation. Through this comprehensive communications effort, 60 of those detained were conditionally released for humanitarian purposes, including many who were released very soon after the completion of the operation. To date, DSS has not provided ICE with information of a single child that has been placed in foster care.

* * *

MYTH: Prior to the commencement of this enforcement, ICE did not consider the welfare of the children impacted by the operation. An AP article reports that a baby was hospitalized because her mother was detained.

FACT: ICE took extraordinary care to determine if any of the detainees were sole caregivers. This included direct questioning of all detainees at the worksite on the day of the enforcement action. Aliens were asked on three separate occasions about whether they were sole caregivers – at the factory the day of the arrest, during processing at Ft. Devens, and at the detention facility. Indeed, as aliens provided this information, humanitarian releases were granted. As of March 12, a total of 90 detainees have been, or are scheduled to be, released including 60 from the worksite and at Fort Devens, and 30 more subsequently identified at detention centers.

In short, most of the media got most of the facts wrong about the preparation and implementation of this enforcement action, thereby creating a falsely negative impression of the agency. (Was that hate speech on the part of those media outlets?) And the two United States Senators from Massachusetts, who seemed confused about which Constitution and which constituency they were elected to serve, remarkably did not bother to first obtain clarification of actual events from their own government agency but simply allowed themselves to be misled by erroneous reporting, presumably not desiring facts to get in the way of a good pander.

March 22, 2008

What Would It Mean to "Stop The Hate" in Mr. Richardson's Case?

Justin Katz

It would have been helpful of Karen Lee Ziner to provide some detail as to the factuality of this assertion:

[Steven] Brown, of the ACLU, [who isn't a lawyer, by the way] called Richardson's actions "clearly and patently illegal" and said "there are legal remedies available" for people who believe their civil liberties have been violated.

As well as to this:

[José] Genao said yesterday he plans to file a discrimination claim against Richardson with the Providence Human Relations Commission.

Genao's explained motivation is telling:

Genao said he wants people "to know not to be afraid to report incidents like this" and to make others "think twice" about taking actions similar to Richardson's.

So, whatever the actual legal ramifications for a private store owner who has mistreated his customers (in a way having nothing to do with fraud), the idea is to make people believe that such laws exist to inspire self-censorship. In David Richardson's case, a bit of forethought would certainly have been wise, as would be some introspection concerning proper behavior in a pluralistic society. But there's something bullying and dark in the over-hyped reaction.

The potential for a charge of "hate speech" is more than just presumptuous; in its inevitably fluid definition, it's dangerous.

March 21, 2008

A New Twist - Arms Length Employment of Undocumented Immigrants?

Monique Chartier

That numerous undocumented immigrants are currently employed at Packaging Concepts Limited in Lincoln, RI appears not to be a question. What is murky, and perhaps deliberately so, is the employing entity.

Following upon the terrible injury of Mr. Leonardo Cos at Packaging Concepts Limited came reports of certain follow-up activity there. Firstly, the company called employees together and asked them to fill out cards providing their name, address, phone number and a contact in case of emergencies. An hour later, employees were called back together, asked to provide real information on these cards and given the assurance that it would not be shared with the government. A week later, in response to a false rumor that an ICE inspection was imminent, employees were called together, told that ICE was not at the door and promised that, while management could not guarantee that ICE would not come, employees would immediately be warned if Packaging Concepts Limited received advance word of an inspection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Secondly, Central 2000, the agency which provides many "temporary" - quotes because the position appears to actually be held long term rather than temporarily - employees to Packaging Concepts Limited, came by and handed out IRS W-4 forms for their (or should that be Packaging Concepts Limited's?) employees to fill out. Why these were not already on file and whether their collection at that particular moment was prompted by the accident is unknown.

The source of this information is Terry Gorman of RIILE who received reports of these developments and then conveyed it publicly at a RIILE meeting two weeks ago. It is unfortunate that following upon Mr. Cos' accident and the enforcement action last year at the Michael Bianco factory, Packaging Concepts Limited has decided to take a hunker down rather than a compliance approach.

As to the larger issue of responsibility, if undocumented workers are the "cheapest" labor source, so much more convenient and less stressful would it be to obtain them from an employment agency. When ICE arrives, managers and owners can throw up their hands in all innocence. "Nothing to do with us."

... other than profiting from the arrangement, of course.

March 16, 2008

Subsidize Another Country, or Fortify the Constitutional Fiber of the Young?

Justin Katz

Perhaps it will serve to advance the conversation about immigration if we're explicit about the choices that we face. To that end:

Carlos Avila Sandoval, the Guatemalan consul general for New England, said his countrymen come to the United States to escape the grinding poverty and a long legacy of violence and political instability at home.

"If you have no food to put on the table, and 10 or 12 children to feed ... it's better for you to go to the United States than to go down to the plantations, and cut sugar cane or pick coffee beans until you die," he said. The money that Guatemalan immigrants make in the United States, he said, can provide a vital boost to the economy in their native country. ...

Of particular interest to the Newport hospitality industry is the number of seasonal workers with H-2B visas allowed into the country this year. Congress put a cap of 66,000 on the number of H-2B visas allowed, but an exemption in place since 2004 has allowed seasonal workers who had previously held the visas to return and not count against the limit. But that exemption has expired, and so far Congress has not renewed it. ...

[Keith Stokes, executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce,] who estimated that Newport gets 3.5 million visitors each year, said the community has been using "guest workers" since 1794, and emphasized that foreign-born employees do not take jobs away from Rhode Islanders. "We don’t do this [seeking foreign workers] to keep people out of work here," said Tracy Troiano, human resources director for the Hyatt Regency Newport. "If we could hire locally, we would."

And why can't they? I'd argue that, in simplified summary, the reason is that local workers (whether they be teenagers or low-skilled adults) would demand too much remuneration to fill the needed roles, and the cost of doing business is already too high for businesses to meet the employee market demand. If that's the case, then the use of immigrants is not only an economic subsidy to a foreign nation, it's also a release valve for pressure to reform government policies and social indolence.

If the hospitality industry really wanted to emphasize local hires, it would lobby to ease costs and regulations that prevent it from increasing salaries and would come up with creative ways to market job openings to Rhode Islanders, especially the young. Both efforts would bring with them economic and social benefits to the state far beyond the immediate boon of that fortified pay scale.

March 15, 2008

Not For Nuthin' But...

Marc Comtois

I've been scarce around here lately, sorry about that. A couple quick things:

The RI Refrigeration thing is yet another manifestation of the frustration so many have with lax immigration policy. Personally, I think asking for an SS # crosses the line, but I'm not into engaging in such confrontation anyway. Not sure what purpose it serves other than fomenting the sort of tempest in a teapot we've witnessed. In the end, emotions got temporarily raised but the event is not going to change minds either way. Most immigrants aren't evil and most of those who want to enforce or toughen immigration laws aren't racist. Unfortunately, heated rhetoric is what gets the attention.

Apparently, Barack Obama regularly attended church, except for those times when his minister engaged in outrageous, anti-American hyperbole. And he never got wind of it until now. New politics?

Funny how so many progressives have finally realized how despicable the Clinton's are. I wonder if they'll be singing the same tune should HRC win the nomination? Yeah, right....

March 13, 2008

Turning the Tables on Authority

Justin Katz

During my commute home, Dan Yorke was interviewing some of the Hispanic leaders involved in the rally demanding action against Providence store-owner David Richardson, and he asked one of them — a man of the cloth — what Jesus would do. The minister's response was to cite Jesus' overturning of the money changers' tables in the temple.

The absent consideration, when taking Jesus' act as a model for our own in this case, is that Jesus wasn't just righting a wrong, He was asserting authority, even ownership: "stop making my Father's house a marketplace." He was asserting power: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."

And that's why so many Americans react as they do to minority groups' threats to do such things as close down a store. The groups' leaders are asserting authority, even ownership, and power. They are saying, whether by implication or by fact, that their power gives them the authority to whip the money changers out of the temple and raise up the country in their own image. Far from emulating the lives that Jesus would have us live, that strikes me as something much closer to treating their own political power as the Father.

Getting Carded on Branch Ave

Monique Chartier

While David Richardson, owner of Rhode Island Refrigeration on Branch Avenue in Providence, went over the line in asking to see the social security card of someone in his shop speaking a language other than English, his action on this and prior occasions is understandable. It stems from frustration with a government which has carried out one of its basic responsibilities - defense of its sovereignty and enforcement, on every level, of its borders - sporadically at best.

On the federal level, our government:

> allowed employer enforcement to drop to ineffectual levels,

Figure 3. Employer Sanctions Cases Resulting in Fines for FY 1988 to 2003


thereby not discouraging the employment of undocumented immigrants and, correspondingly, providing a major incentive for them to risk life and limb to come to the United States;

> repeatedly passed legislation which promised to pair amnesty with immigration law enforcement but in each case, assiduously carried out only the former;

> in 2007, tried to pass such legislation yet again [for those who would rather listen than read: YouTube video of Glenn Beck outlining the many problems with this bill] and was only stopped by the determined efforts of many, many constituents who firmly said, "Won't get fooled again";

> has waffled over the funding and design of a border fence;

and on the state level:

> has demonstrated, contrary to federal law, a studied indifference to the immigrant status of anyone seeking social services, exacerbating a serious budget problem and, more importantly, failing to remove another incentive to illegally migrate to the state and country;

> has until recently seemed too willing to place the best interest of the state a distant second to both misguided compassion and a delusional effort to curry favor with a hypothetical, future constituency.

Advocates, predictably, are shouting "racism" at this incident and at anyone who dares to insist that our employment and immigration laws be enforced. They could not be more wrong. Mr. Richardson asked only about the legal status of the gentleman. For Mr. Richardson and for all of us, the question revolves, prima facie, not around race, but around legality, adherence to a process for immigration and, equally important, respect for immigrants who upheld those principles in coming to the United States.

March 10, 2008

The Activist's Scientific Assertion

Justin Katz

Following the titular formula typically used in articles about scientific (or at least quasi-scientific) studies, the Providence Journal gave this story the headline "Views may spur hate crimes":

Anti-immigrant sentiment is fueling nationwide increases in the number of hate groups and the number of hate crimes targeting Latinos, a watchdog group said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a report titled "The Year in Hate," said it counted 888 hate groups in its latest tally, up from 844 in 2006 and 602 in 2000.

The most prominent of the organizations newly added to the list, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, vehemently rejected the "hate group" label, and questioned the law center's motives. FAIR said the center was using smear tactics to boost donations and stifle legitimate debate on immigration.

"Their banner may be 'Stop the hate' but it's really 'Stop the debate,'" said FAIR's president, Dan Stein. "Apparently you can't even articulate an argument for immigration reform without being smeared."

I suppose we should be grateful that the headline writer conceded the "may," but even if it the suggestion had been the result of some sort of actual correlative study, the emphasis strikes me as odd. It puts the responsibility all on one trend, on one group. An objective report would reflect the reality that hostilities grow from the interactions of differing groups, so the headline would be along the lines of "Immigration tensions may spur hate crimes."

As it stands, the paper takes a side, the opposite of which might be "Illegal immigration, government inaction may spur hate crimes."

Telling It Like It Is on Immigration

Justin Katz

It's been awhile since I checked in on Fred on Everything and remembered to do so only at a reader's suggestion about a particular piece on immigration:

One of the speakers was Phil Rushton, of the University of Western Ontario, whose specialty is the study of racial differences in intelligence. Only among the ideologically befogged is the subject beyond the pale. The evidence for these differences would be voluminous if there weren't so much of it. Further, measurements of intelligence are reproducible and highly correlated with success of both individuals and groups. The people who do these studies, as for example Rushton, are highly intelligent themselves and cautious in their conclusions.

It amuses me that such as Rushton are often regarded as right-wing racists, drone. They point out that Jews are intellectually superior to other whites, which is hardly a traditional right-wing view; and that East Asians are smarter than whites, also not normally regarded as a white racist idea. Look at the IQ hierarchy they find: Jews at the top, followed by, East Asians, whites, South American mestizos, American blacks, African blacks. Now compare the intellectual achievements of the groups. Kinda sorta fits, don't it? But we can't talk about this because (a) we wouldn't like the results, and (b) because it takes an eighth-grade understanding of mathematics to grasp a standard deviation, which eliminates most of the population. ...

In a country less repressive of dissent than the US, a discussion of immigration might seem advisable. It is perfectly true that in many countries the white population is in decline—Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, and so on. It is also true that floods of arguably inassimilable immigrants from comparatively backward countries—those of Africa, South America, the Arab world—are a rapidly growing fraction of the population in these dying nations. In their own countries they have shown no ability to function at the intellectual level of Europeans. They will change utterly—are changing—their new countries. Apart from restaurants and manual labor, they seem to contribute little. If this isn't so, tell me why it isn't.

March 6, 2008

Placing the Worker Before the Job

Justin Katz

I have to admit to being a bit confused by David's comments to my post about Rhode Island's lost jobs.

  • I pointed out that Rhode Island hadn't gained jobs, as expected, over the last year, but lost them, including in the construction industry. With a slate of laws in mind that would attract low-end and illegal immigrants to Rhode Island, I quipped acerbically that such workers are precisely whom a state with our economy ought to be wooing.
  • David asserted that the construction jobs being lost are those that such immigrants would claim (driving down construction prices and pay across the board) and that Anchor Rising surely hasn't a care for such people.
  • Ignoring the baseless attack, I questioned the extent to which illegals are captured in jobless numbers and noted that the several men who've stopped by my jobsite desperate for work have all been middle-aged locals.
  • David made an East Bay/West Bay distinction and explained, "My point is that while I am affected much more than you, I refuse to vent anger on the low wage people who have for the most part been used. Instead of a legitimate quest worker program (that Bush wanted and I would oppose) we got the illegitimate version. But I do not want to oppose the people working - who came here to work."

The compounding of bad decisions is enough to induce headaches. Ill considered and inadequately enforced immigration policy at the national and state levels creates an environment in which companies can exploit illegal immigrant workers and drive down wages for citizens, and the solution is to make it easier for illegals to stay and more attractive for them to come to Rhode Island specifically of all the states?

The only healthy (sane) approach for a geographically defined political entity to take is to establish and deploy policies designed to create jobs and then to expand the workforce as necessary. Businesses create jobs, and they will go where conditions are advantageous in order to produce goods for sale elsewhere or (especially with services) where customers are plentiful. In other words, if Rhode Island wishes to attract businesses to create jobs, its policies should focus on bringing in highly skilled workers and potential clients.

Of course, attracting potential clients is precisely what politicians and public sector organizations are doing by marketing the state to other nations' poor.

February 29, 2008

An Anvil to Break the Camel's Back

Justin Katz

This press release put out by Immigrants United the General Assembly, announcing a campaign of legislation, is a jaw-dropper:

-(2008 - H7967), by Representative Segal, which ensures a person's race, color, ethnicity, national origin, or lack of English language proficiency shall not constitute reasonable grounds for the police to inquire into a person's immigration status. And furthermore forbids local enforcement by Rhode Island police of federal immigration law.

-(2008 - S2556) /(2008 - H7660), by Senator Levesque and Representative Segal, which makes sure that all protections, rights and remedies available under the law for labor, employment, civil rights and housing, are available to all individuals in Rhode Island regardless of immigration status.

- (2008 - H7871), by Representative Diaz, which makes sure that all children who go through and graduate from Rhode Island's high schools, qualify for in-state college tuition regardless of immigration status.

- (2008 - S2487), by Senator Levesque, which ensures that the roads will be safer for all Rhode Islanders by allowing every qualified driver to obtain a driver's licenses regardless of immigration status. Allowing all who need to get to work and take care of their families to register their vehicles, have insurance, and prove their identity through proper ID.

- (2008 - S2735) /(2008 - H7700), by Senator Metts, Senator Pichardo and Representative Slater, which prevents discrimination in housing by making sure that landlords are not permitted to guess or inquire into the immigration status of a tenant or potential tenant.

- (2008 - H7660), by Representative Segal, which prevents discrimination in employment by making sure that employers are not permitted to demand any additional documentation other than what's already required by federal law.

- (2008 - S2689) /(2008 - H7922), by Senator Goodwin and Representative Dennigan, which makes sure the Department of Human Services provides appropriate interpreter services.

- (2008 - S2499) /(2008 - H7600), which allows complaints of labor law violations to proceed when an employee is rendered unavailable to pursue remedies on his or her own.

- A resolution opposing implementation of the Basic Pilot / E-Verify program.

-(2008 - H7875), by Representative Diaz, which ensures all children in Rhode Island have access to healthcare regardless of immigration status

I submit for your consideration the notion that a political grouping — be it a nation, a state, or a town — is heading toward death throes when its own leaders endeavor to make "sure that all protections, rights and remedies available under the law for labor, employment, civil rights and housing, are available to all individuals... regardless of immigration status." Protected by a wall between local law enforcement and the federal government and bars against residents' considering immigration status when making decisions concerning potential employees, tenants, and so on, illegal aliens have access to the full slate of citizenship, right down to in-state college tuition and easy access to drivers' licenses, with the added perk of freedom to receive public services with no pressure to learn English.

What, one wonders, would it even mean to be a citizen of this state? Would it bring any benefits whatsoever, or just burdens?

Rep. Grace Diaz (D, Providence) offers us the service of illustrating just how dense these legislators are:

Everyone working in Rhode Island makes our economy stronger by paying taxes, buying locally and investing in local resources," said Representative Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence). "Our state benefits from ensuring that all Rhode Islanders have access to opportunity, work and the protections of Rhode Island labor law."

Representative Diaz, the sponsor of 2008-H 7871, said that it's a documented fact that college graduates have increased opportunities for economic success, and when a Rhode Island graduate succeeds, Rhode Island succeeds.

No, Ms. Diaz. When Rhode Islanders graduate from college, they leave. The state is drowning under the weight of ignorant, dangerous, legislative testimonials to policy makers' vanity, and there is no opportunity here for those who wish to follow the rules toward independence and success, and a left-leaning species of parasites is seeking to recruit a dependent army on whose shoulders to float.

February 26, 2008

Heeding Mark Krikorian: A Job This American Will No Longer Do

Justin Katz

Wow. Mark Krikorian whacked his own cause in the head, today, on the back swing of a stupid attack:

Another Job Americans Won't Do? [Mark Krikorian]

Maybe this helps explain the RC bishops' support for open immigration, contrary to the views of those in the pews:

Among U.S. adults, about the same percentage — 24 — call themselves Catholic as in the past, but that statistic masks significant turnover. The percentage has held up primarily because of the huge number of recent Latino immigrants, who are largely Catholic, the survey found. Sixty-eight percent of people raised Catholic still identify with their childhood denomination, compared with 80 percent of Protestants and 76 percent of Jews.

The point that he's trying to make is worth discussion — if only to bring the counter-argument that David Freddoso provides into the light. But the underlying presumptions required for Krikorian's method of presentation — and the hints of comments that would never make it into print — will henceforth make me less receptive to the message when I see his name tacked to it.

February 5, 2008

Impact of Illegal Immigrant Laws being felt

Marc Comtois

Tough laws in Arizona and Oklahoma are driving illegal immigrants to Texas (h/t):

Illegal immigrants are flowing into Texas across its long borders. But they aren't just swimming across the Rio Grande from Mexico or making dangerous treks through the rugged desert.

Instead, a new rush of illegal immigrants are driving down Interstate 35 from Oklahoma or heading east to Texas from Arizona to flee tough new anti-illegal immigrant laws in those and other states.

Though few numbers are available because illegal residents are difficult to track, community activists say immigrants have arrived in Houston and Dallas in recent months, and they expect hundreds more families to relocate to the Bayou City soon.

''They're really tightening the screws," said Mario Ortiz, an undocumented Mexican worker who came to Houston after leaving Phoenix last year. ''There have been a lot coming — it could be 100 a day."

The growing exodus is the result of dozens of new state and local laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. The two toughest measures are in Oklahoma and Arizona.

The Oklahoma statute, which took effect in November, makes it a crime to transport, harbor or hire illegal immigrants. Effective Jan. 1, the Arizona law suspends the business license of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. On a second offense, the license is revoked.

''It's a wave that's happening across the United States," said Nelson Reyes, executive director of the Central American Resource Center in Houston, which has helped immigrants who recently relocated in Houston from Virginia and South Carolina. ''There is a migration, within the United States, to the states and cities more receptive to the reality of the undocumented immigrant."

So far, results of the new laws have been dramatic.

The short-term affect on the Oklahoma City economy has been negative:
''Thirty percent of our Hispanic labor force left Tulsa — it was a huge hit, and it was almost overnight," said Greg Simmons, owner of Simmons Homes, Tulsa's largest home builder.

Based on his conversations with subcontractors, Simmons said they went to Texas and Kansas or returned to Mexico....Business leaders say local police in Tulsa have mounted a campaign to target immigrants and have deported many after they were arrested for minor traffic offenses.

''I think we swung the pendulum too far; we're hurting people, the immigrant families, and we're going to hurt the economy," said Mike Means, executive vice president of the Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association, which has 3,600 members across the state.

The effect of the new law can be seen in the many signs advertising rental property vacated by departing immigrants, said David Castillo, the executive director of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

''There's been a tremendous impact in Oklahoma City," Castillo said. "We've had several companies close shop and leave the state. Banks have called us and say they're closing 30 accounts per week."

Requiring companies to hire legal workers (either with a work visa or who are American citizens) would eventually help the economy long-term as wages would inevitably rise. Too many companies have been operating under the assumption that cheap, easy (under the table) labor was available. A new reality has set in and they will have to adjust (kinda like state government, no?).

Finally, Enrique Hubbard, Mexico's consul general in Dallas, thinks that most immigrants "...will relocate [within the United States]. They will at least give it one more try... It's very difficult to cross the border, and expensive, too." Essentially, barring the passage of national immigration reform, we have a system that is evolving into states that either repel or attract illegal immigrants, based on their current laws.

February 1, 2008

In Defense of the Dastardly

Justin Katz

Some will accuse me of defending the indefensible, but my piece in today's Providence Journal argues on behalf of Governor Carcieri's cuts to RIte Aide for illegal immigrants.

Being welcoming and compassionate is one thing, but are policies send the message far and wide that our invitation is for them to stay, and to remain under the government's wing. As cold as it may seem to withdraw benefits from children, it only perpetuates injustice all around not to insist that our invitation is not open ended.

January 10, 2008

Shamelessness in Immigration

Justin Katz

Dan Yorke's been on this for a couple of days, so most of you have heard the same clips from the ICE as Gestapo "press conference" at St. Theresa's church that I have. Shameless. Despicable.

The gut-punch is the suicide of David De La Roca, but the heart-tug pictures are all of the children of Carmen Marrero, mother of a newborn baby to soon-to-be-deported illegal immigrant Mynor Montufar, who has a criminal record and who had been given a deadline by which to leave the country. (I still haven't read it stated, or even implied, that Marrero's other two children are also Montufar's, so I gather that they are not — since tearing three children from their father would make for better print.)

My fellow Catholics should be ashamed that one of their churches is mixed up in this propaganda. One insult after another, one offensive allegation after another, comes out of this mess. This is the latest that I've spotted:

Told that a witness to the arrest — Lilliam Muniz — alleged yesterday that ICE agents beat Perez as he was face down on the ground, [ICE regional spokesman Mike] Gilhooly said, "There is no indication that any such allegation you brought forward to us is true."

Reporter Arline Fleming doesn't bother to tell us that Ms. Muniz is Marrero's mother. Apparently, the special dispensations that give ACLU leaders church property on which to slander immigration officials extend to journalists to leave out eyebrow-raising details.

January 8, 2008

Another Re: Marisol's Odds Go Down

Justin Katz

Andrew notes that marrying the future mother of his child would have put Mynor Montufar on the path to citizenship. The various considerations that go into figuring out why that was a road not taken highlight the fact that, while not all decisions follow rational thought processes, incentive structures still apply broadly.

As Andrew describes in the comments to his post, the process of becoming a citizen based on a spouse's status does require a number of forms and a $1,000+ in fees. An illegal immigrant would also not likely wish to enter into the system (although this one was willing to have his mug published in the state's major newspaper). Getting caught isn't the only disincentive, however. Although I don't know whether it applies in this case, adding a father's (or a husband's) income to the household total might decrease government benefits, and in Rhode Island, children (i.e., their parents) continue receiving support even when it has expired for the adults.

Illegal immigration and poverty advocates look at this set of incentives and see harmfulness in the restrictions. The fees and forms (and risk of getting caught) provide disincentive to get married, as do the decreases in public support. To them, illegal immigrants ought to be able to live openly, applying for licenses and benefits as if they were citizens, and recipients of government money ought to be able to collect up to higher boundaries. To the contrary, such an approach only makes the incentive structure more perverse: Immigrants have no reason to pursue citizenship, and many to avoid it, and women have incentive to produce even more children whom they lack the resources to support.

The villain in the scenario is ultimately the act of immigrating illegally. Its co-conspirator is destigmatization of living on the public dole. A third culprit, easily forgotten after its victory, is destigmatization of out-of-wedlock procreation.

Again, I've no information about the government support of the specific family in question, but it oughtn't be a matter of contention to suggest that the subculture affects their decisions regardless. In that context, the names of young Marisol's closest relatives convey discouraging information:

  • Father: Mynor Montufar
  • Mother: Carmen Marrero
  • Maternal grandmother: Lilliam Muniz

A shared name does not a family make, of course, but I don't think it's mere knee-jerk traditionalism to suggest that it is not entirely devoid of importance and that it often comes in conjunction with other qualities for which society ought to provide incentive, sometimes in the form of disincentive for alternatives.

January 7, 2008

Re 2: Marisol's Odds Go Down

Carroll Andrew Morse

I'm going to offer a quasi-correction here, to prevent Anchor Rising from propagating any misunderstandings created by Karen Lee Ziner's confusing reporting in today's Projo of the story of Mynor Montifar, Carmen Marrero and their daughter Marisol.

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. That means…

  1. Saying that "Carmen Marrero is here legally from Puerto Rico", as Ms. Ziner does in her Projo story, makes as much sense as saying that "Allison Alexander is here legally from Ohio" or "Matt Jerzyk is here legally from Kentucky", unless Ms. Ziner intends to imply that Ms. Marrero legally immigrated to Puerto Rico from someplace else.
  2. If being "here from Puerto Rico" does mean what it most directly denotes -- that Carmen Marrero is an American citizen from Puerto Rico -- then Marisol is also an American citizen, as the daughter of an American citizen. (UPDATE: Correction to my correction: Marisol would also have been an American citizen by virtue of having been born within the US, no matter the nationality of her parents.)
  3. Also, if Carmen Marrero is indeed an American citizen who was born in Puerto Rico, it means that Mynor Montufar, Marisol's father, could have become an American citizen by simply marrying the mother of his child can become eligible to become a permanent resident by marrying the mother of his child, which illustrates the core dilemma of illegal immigration in a very direct and sad way: People who don't want to take on any of the most basic responsibilities of society (like marrying before having children) expect to be given the full rights of those who do ("How dare you separate me from my family, even if it is a family I could never be bothered to acknowledge in the eyes of civil society or any church".)

RE: Marisol's Odds Go Down

Marc Comtois

Justin was correct, the "first father" in Rhode Island in 2008, Mynor Montufar, was arrested by immigration officials (ICE). ProJo account is here.

Two days after local media featured Mynor Montufar and Carmen L. Marrero as the parents of Rhode Island’s first baby of 2008, federal immigration agents arrested Montufar at his apartment.

Now Montufar is about to be deported.

And David De La Roca — also an illegal immigrant, one of several people who shared the couple’s apartment — is dead in an apparent suicide.

De La Roca was found hanging from a belt in a locked bedroom at 174 Bellevue Ave. on Friday, several hours after immigration agents raided it and arrested Montufar and another man.

A Providence police report confirms an account given by Marrero’s mother, who said she was one of several people present when a friend of De La Roca jimmied open the door and found the body.

Whether these events are connected is unknown, but family, friends, and some in the Hispanic community are asking these questions:

Did De La Roca hang himself when federal agents entered the apartment because he feared deportation? Was he already dead before agents arrived? Why didn’t agents force the locked bedroom door?

Did immigration authorities pursue Montufar after seeing his picture on television and in the paper?

“It’s a coincidence,” a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said of Montufar’s arrest so soon after the publicity.

Paula Grenier, the ICE spokeswoman in Boston, said Montufar was arrested on an outstanding administrative deportation warrant.

The ProJo also reports that Marisol's mother, Carmen L. Marrero, is here legally from Puerto Rico.

ADDENDUM: Incidentally, Andrew clears up confusion on the ProJo's weird note that Marrero is "here legally" from Puerto Rico, here. I had one of those, "that looks weird" moments but parroted it anyway. My bad.

Marisol's Odds Go Down

Justin Katz

Although I'm not in a position to provide links right now, I wanted to mention something that I just heard on WPRO: The unwed, nineteen-year-old father of Rhode Island's first-born baby of 2008 was just taken in under suspicion of being an illegal alien. Apparently, a housemate of the young couple was found dead (perhaps suicide).

December 27, 2007

Rhode Island Leads the Nation...in Population Loss

Marc Comtois

Tipped off by 7 to 7, I went over to the U.S. Census Bureau web site, which has just released population estimates up to July 2007 (raw data here). From the AP summary:

Rhode Island is losing residents at a faster clip than any other state in the nation.

New population estimates being released today by the Census Bureau show that in the year ending July 1, the state's population declined by four-tenths of percent. Rhode Island lost just over 3,800 people to end up with an estimated 1.058 million residents.

According to the Census figures, the only other state to lose population was Michigan, which saw a decline of three-tenths of a point.

Here are some more details . First is a list of raw population numbers and rankings from 2006 to 2007; it is broken out by the U.S. as a whole as well as four geographic regions and RI itself (I apologize for the table lines not being completely drawn and other truncation. Thanks to "chalkdust" for giving a heads up on some oversights on my part. The perils of hasty post compilation!):


Note that over the past year (as usual) the Northeast is the slowest growing region and Rhode Island is at the very bottom of all states. Here's another table showing the raw numbers:


And another table that summarizes rates per 1,000 people:


Finally, here is a graph of the net internal migration for Rhode Island up until 2006.


Starting in 2004, but really picking up speed in 2005 and 2006, our state has been hemorrhaging people. Time to shrink government too, huh?

December 19, 2007

Palumbo and Maselli Make 2nd Attempt at RI Immigration Reform

Marc Comtois

Democrat State Rep. Peter Palumbo and Democrat Sen. Christopher Maselli have filed new legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration in Rhode Island.

The legislation, a revamped version of a bill that died during the last General Assembly, aims to tighten state laws regarding issuance of driver’s licenses and to make it unlawful for businesses or individuals to harbor undocumented immigrant workers. Both legislators said the issue is about economics and protecting jobs.
But enough about the actual legislation and its goals, the ProJo devotes the rest of the story (about 2/3s) to the reaction of those who oppose the measure. Nothing new there, just the normal rhetorical conflation of "immigrant" with "illegal immigrant" (apparently, "nuance" is a term of convenience and not applicable in the illegal immigration debate) and the old tropes about purported racism and hatred of non-English speakers are trotted out. But then there was this:
William Shuey, executive director of the International Institute, said similar legislation enacted in other parts of the country “has done nothing to address the underlying issues that need to be addressed by federal legislation...
Illegal immigrants living in states and cities that have adopted strict immigration policies are packing up and moving back to their home countries or to neighboring states.

The exodus has been fueled by a wave of laws targeting illegal immigrants in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere. Many were passed after congressional efforts to overhaul the immigration system collapsed in June.

Immigrants say the laws have raised fears of workplace raids and deportation.

"People now are really frightened and scared because they don't know what's going to happen," says Juliana Stout, an editor at the newspaper El Nacional de Oklahoma. "They're selling houses. They're leaving the country."

Supporters of the laws cheer the departure of illegal immigrants and say the laws are working as intended.

Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican author of his state's law, says the flight proves it is working. "That was the intended purpose," he says. "It would be just fine with me if we exported all illegal aliens to the surrounding states."

Most provisions of an Oklahoma law take effect in November. Among other things, it cuts off benefits such as welfare and college financial aid.

There's no hard demographic data on the trend, partly because it's hard to track people who are in the USA illegally. But school officials, real estate agents and church leaders say the movement is unmistakable.

Other reports from Arizona (and here), Oklahoma and Georgia (video) confirm that, faced with tougher state laws (and a tighter economy), illegal immigrants are choosing self deportation. For instance, a recent story in the NY Times detailed how one family was part of a mass exodus of Brazilians leaving the U.S. for their home country.
To explain an often wrenching decision to pull up stakes, homeward-bound Brazilians point to a rising fear of deportation and a slumping American economy. Many cite the expiration of driver’s licenses that can no longer be renewed under tougher rules, coupled with the steep drop in the value of the dollar against the currency of Brazil, where the economy has improved.

“You put it all together, and why should you stay in an environment like that if you have a place like Brazil, where there’s hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train to run you over?” said Pedro Coelho, a businessman in Mount Vernon, N.Y., who is known as the mayor of Brazilians in Westchester County. “Are they leaving? Yes, by the hundreds.”

In Massachusetts, says Fausto da Rocha, the founder of the Boston-area Brazilian Immigrant Center, his compatriots — many here illegally — are leaving by the thousands, some after losing homes in the subprime mortgage crisis. In New York and New Jersey, travel agents and others who sell airline seats say that one-way bookings to Brazil have more than doubled since last year, to about 150 daily from Kennedy International Airport, and that flights are sold out through February.

And at Brazil’s consulate in Miami, which serves Brazilians in five Southeastern states, officials said a recent survey of moving companies and travel agencies confirmed what they had already surmised from their foot traffic: More Brazilians are leaving the region than arriving...

It would seem--contra Mr. Shuey--that a state can pass and enforce laws that makes it tougher for illegals to live in the U.S. and doesn't that "address the underlying issues," regardless of what the federal government does?

December 4, 2007

Teach Them to Fish

Marc Comtois

Today, the ProJo delves into a report published last week by the Center for Immigration Studies:

[T}he survey, based on U.S. Census data, found that immigration to Rhode Island increased by 61 percent between 2000 and 2007 and that immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up 17.7 percent of the state’s population. By contrast, that segment of the population totaled 17.4 percent in Massachusetts; 15.9 percent in Connecticut; 5.8 percent in Vermont; 7.8 percent in New Hampshire and 3.1 percent in Maine.
The ProJo doesn't put that number in context nationally, however. Rhode Island's 17.7 percent immigrant+children rate is also the 10th highest nationally, behind California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii, respectively. These are all either big or border states or both. (Also, Rhode Island's immigrant-only population rate comprises 13.3% of the total, which ranks 12th nationally). So how does little Rhode Island find itself amongst these heavy hitters? Services and the safety net, perhaps? As one example, here is the percent of all Rhode Island births to immigrants from 1995 to 2005, including whether private insurance or Medicaid was used:


Source: Rhode Island DHS report Health Indicators for Rhode Island

Since 2000, 35-40% of all births in Rhode Island have been to immigrant women on Medicaid.
*Note: Neither the CIS study nor the DHS data differentiates between illegal and legal immigrants, the the CIS reports that 1 in 3 of all immigrants are illegal.

The ProJo asked William Shuey of the International Institute of Rhode Island about the findings:

[C]ritics of immigrants overstate the extent to which immigrants use welfare and other state-financed programs. Shuey also said that the economic impact of immigrants is not a drag on the state’s economy.

“A lot of this is just scapegoating a group that is vulnerable,” said Shuey. “It is easy to beat up on these people because they are politically powerless. If you take the long view, you’ll find that over 20 years immigrants are as likely as natives to own a house, have a steady job, be good citizens.”

Generally, the CIS report seems to counter Mr. Shuey's claim. For instance, included in the report are numerous tables and figures that show the extent to which recent immigrants are less educated and more likely to remain in poverty and rely on social welfare programs than before. (See the extended entry for a select list of some of the findings).

And there is a distinction to be made between the immigrants of yore and today. Our immigrant ancestors relied on each other, not the government, for help as they made their new lives. This is not some romanticized version of the past: there was no government-provided safety net. Operating without a net provided an incentive to achieve but some fell through the cracks. As a moral society, we chose to provide a safety net for them. Unfortunately, for too many, landing and staying in the safety net has become the definition of the American way of life.

As Justin writes, there are indeed expectations bound up in all of this, on both sides. The expectations of those subsidizing the safety net are that, eventually, newcomers to our country should be able to take advantage of the opportunities our nation provides and become self-sufficient. To paraphrase, we'll give them some fish while they learn to fish for themselves. But only for so long.

Continue reading "Teach Them to Fish"

Stranger Welcoming

Justin Katz

Yesterday, Dan Yorke played a clip of Bishop Thomas Tobin on one of the Sunday news shows (which does not appear to be online, yet) discussing immigration. I certainly wouldn't claim to be more Catholic than the bishop, to modify a phrase, let alone the College of Bishops, but it seems to me that his human inclinations, and perhaps a touch of the subconscious workings of self interest, might be misdirecting his application of the faith to this prudential matter.

The Church differentiates between the behavior of the governing authority (i.e., the state) and the individual when it comes to moral action. The state can tax; it can imprison; it can even kill and conduct war. The lessons of the Bible, in the government context — such as Jesus' explanation that "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," which Bishop Tobin quoted — apply less directly. To some extent the U.S. government must be welcoming, of course, and it must always act with at least the minimum compassion due a person simply as a human being, but it must set an immigration policy based on a complex array of considerations, and then, for the sake of fairness and security, it must enforce that policy. To simplify and exaggerate for the sake of discussion: You might decide not to take visitors after 5:00 p.m. because you must run to give your ailing mother her life-saving medicine; you are not morally obligated to open up the door and start a pot of coffee for a stranger who catches you at the end of the driveway at 5:10. A stranger who has broken into your house need not be given a special path to membership in the family on the grounds that he is a stranger who has broken into your house.

The question of how to deal compassionately with strangers who are in our country illegally has become tangled in our modern notion that compassion requires the meeting of expectations. Out of compassion, we meet the immediate needs of illegals — food, say, or desperately needed medicine. Out of compassion, we ensure that their passage to wherever is safe. But compassion does not require a declaration that the laws do not apply to a particular group of people based on their act of breaking the very law that ostensibly does not apply (else we'll find the breaking of that law to become more of a goal than complying with it).

To the extent that the Catholic Church needs to have a stance on the matter of illegal immigration that goes beyond simply a demand that all people be treated humanely and fairly, there is nothing in doctrine or, at least that I can see, in the binds of conscience, that is in conflict with a policy of increased pressure on employers and a willingness to return as many illegals as we can to their home countries.

November 14, 2007

Senator Clinton Abandons Drivers License for Undocumenteds

Monique Chartier

Get out the scoreboard. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), who had endorsed the idea just two weeks ago, has this afternoon done a one eighty on the question of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.

"I support Governor Spitzer's decision today to withdraw his proposal," Clinton said in a statement. "As president, I will not support driver's licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all of the issues around illegal immigration including border security and fixing our broken system."

Naturally, this has become irresistable fodder for her opponents.

"When it takes two weeks and six different positions to answer one question on immigration, it's easier to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them," said Barack Obama spokesman Bill Burton, referring to the Clinton campaign's admission that aides had staged a question for her at an Iowa event.

The Democrats debate tomorrow night at 8:00 pm on CNN. Wolf Blitzer has promised a question on illegal immigrants; no word yet on whether he will also ask about waffles.

Governor Spitzer Abandons Drivers License for Undocumenteds

Monique Chartier

Governor Eliot Spitzer has backed off his controversial plan to issue drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday dropped a controversial plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants because of overwhelming opposition to the policy.

"I've concluded that New York state cannot conduct this program on its own," Spitzer said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "It does not take a stethoscope to hear the pulse of New Yorkers on this topic"

It was a plan that had an immediate, negative impact on his approval rating.

The Siena College survey released Tuesday found only 25% of voters would re-elect him, while 49% indicated they'd "prefer someone else."

Spitzer's job performance rating was pegged at 33% positive in the poll, while 64% gave him the thumbs down.

The poll found strong opposition to Spitzer's revised "three-tier" license plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally in New York, with 65% saying it stinks.

Indeed, the proposal was a bad idea on several fronts. I sincerely hope that the Governor withdrew his proposal because the strong, nearly universal opposition caused him to reflect on those reasons and duly reconsider his proposal, not because of the effects it was having on his approval rating.

November 13, 2007

Sen. Whitehouse Agrees with Sen. Clinton: Give Illegals Licenses

Marc Comtois

Today the ProJo editorializes about Sen. Hillary Clinton's illegal immigrant licensing faux pas:

The country has laws against open borders. Those who enter the United States illegally are not supposed to be given all the privileges of life in America, including benefits from the government, jobs, housing and drivers’ licenses — which can be used to cloak illegal (and possibly terrorist) activities and to undermine our democracy by voting illegally.

Senator Clinton, in her oath of office, swore to uphold the law.

If the immigration laws are not being enforced effectively, they should be changed. But in the meantime, as we see it, elected officials should not be encouraging criminal behavior and rewarding those who break existing laws.

According to Buddy and Ron, our own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse stated this past Sunday on 10 News Conference (no link to that particular show is now available HERE--thanks Tim) that he also supports giving licenses to illegal immigrants. Then again, maybe he isn't taking a cue from Senator Clinton. Maybe he's just following the example set by one of his supporters--Dolores Rodriguez-LaFlamme--who did what she could to provide licenses to illegal immigrants, too. But while LaFlamme's motives were economic, Senator Whitehouse is probably just looking to do what's right by those who elected could one day help elect him.

November 2, 2007

Illegal Immigration Catch Phrases

Monique Chartier

Under "Senator Clinton: Illegals Should Have Licenses", commenter Greg asks, "Has anyone heard if insurance companies have signed on to the plan to give illegal aliens coverage?"

After some quick research on this question, it appears that they have. The concern is that illegal aliens simply will not purchase the insurance - or they will purchase it for the minimal initial period and then allow it to lapse.

Greg's question highlights the bigger issues raised by the statement "bring them out of the shadows" and the broad implications that roads will be safer if illegal aliens have licenses. No one has said what will be done or how it will be better if illegal aliens are "brought out of the shadows". There is no indication in anything I have read, for example, that they will be required to take driving lessons as a prerequisite to obtaining a license.

This statement is as hollow and misleading as "create a path to citizenship", another favorite of advocates and misguided politicians. They must surely be aware that we already have a defined procedure for applying for residency or citizenship. Why do we need to create what we already have? "Create a path to citizenship", then, must be something else. Given the context in which it is usually invoked, it must be a euphemism for "cutting in line".

If we were to "create a new path to citizenship" for those who came here illegally, it would be seriously disrespectful of those valued, welcome immigrants who followed our rules and came here the right (legal) way. And in real, pragmatic terms, it would also mean the elimination of our borders. Once one person gets to cut in line, why shouldn't the next, and the next, ad infinitum.

And finally, there's "we can't round them all up and ship them home". This, too, has become an empty cliche which seems to correspond to a sentiment, sometimes stated outright, that we might as well give up and do nothing. Implicit in this statement also is that individual deportation of 12-20 million people is the only measure at our disposal. In fact, few people have lobbied for "rounding them all up", suggesting instead the reduction or elimination of factors which entice people to come or stay here illegally: jobs (requiring employers, including the public sector, to hire only documented immigrants) and social programs.

November 1, 2007

Senator Clinton: Illegals Should Have Licenses

Marc Comtois

We know that there was a license scam in RI and now a similar one has been uncovered in Massachusetts (and other states).

Typically, the “license rings” operate in similar ways: corrupt registry clerks work with middlemen, who sell the licenses to illegal immigrants, criminals, and others looking to cover their identities.

The driver’s licenses are perfect “breeder” documents for establishing a false identity, one that can allow the license holder to buy guns, launder money, open bank accounts, and board a plane. Four years ago, the FBI’s assistant director of counterterrorism testified before a House committee about how the licenses are used by terrorists to escape detection.

Yikes. Despite all of that, NY Governor Elliot Spitzer has decided to allow illegal immigrants to legally obtain NY driver's licenses. Yeah, that's a good idea. And Democratic Presidential front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton--who earlier couldn't decide if she agreed with Spitzer's plan or not--is now "steadying herself" (ie; getting her story straight):
"Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform," her campaign said in a statement. "As president, her goal will be to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would make this unnecessary."
Wait a sec: didn't "this administration" want comprehensive immigration reform? It's disingenuous for Senator Clinton to blame President Bush for failing to pass a "comprehensive immigration reform" package that she agreed with but that the Democratic Senate and House couldn't pass. Ah, whatever. True to form, when things are down, blame Bush. It's easy and doesn't take much thought. Maybe the rubes won't notice.

October 28, 2007

"Driving while Illegal" in New York

Monique Chartier

After strong opposition, New York's Governor Eliot Spitzer has backed off a plan to issue standard New York drivers licenses to illegal aliens, instead proposing three different drivers licenses, one of which would be for those who cannot prove citizenship or legal residency.

A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants. Spitzer has said this ID will make the state more secure by bringing those people "out of the shadows" and into American society, and will lower auto insurance rates.

The reversal has been called a stunning betrayal by immigrant and civil liberty advocates.

“What a huge political flip,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“He’s now embracing and letting his good name be used to promote something that has been widely known in the immigrant community as one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation to come out of Congress,” Ms. Hong said.

She said having separate licenses would amount to a scarlet letter for illegal immigrants. “I know I’m speaking for millions of immigrants when I say I just feel so thoroughly betrayed.”The separate licenses could also serve as an invitation for law enforcement to arrest anyone carrying one on immigration charges, said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She added that the new proposal could send illegal immigrants further into the shadows, compelling them to drive with forged or no licenses and without insurance.

The "something" Ms. Hong refers to is the federal government's REAL ID Act. One of the three new licenses proposed by Governor Spitzer would comply with REAL ID standards.

Under the compromise, New York will produce an "enhanced driver's license" that will be as secure as a passport. It is intended for people who soon will need to meet such ID requirements, even for a short drive to Canada.

A second version of the license will meet new federal standards of the Real ID Act. That law is designed to make it much harder for illegal immigrants or would-be terrorists to obtain licenses.

And the third license would be for illegal aliens. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is not crazy about the idea, even though this license could not serve as a federally recognized identification.

"I don't endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice," Chertoff said.

But Representative Peter King (R-NY), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has an interesting point.

"Besides being a massive defeat for the governor, I can't imagine many if any illegal immigrants coming forward to get the driver's licenses, because they'd basically be labeled as illegal," ...

October 12, 2007

RE: DMV Fake Ids

Marc Comtois

More arrests in the DMV fake ID case, and a little more info on Dolores Rodriguez-LaFlamme:

Dolores Rodriguez-LaFlamme, 40, of Providence, one of the two clerks arrested in the fraud scheme, had already been ordered deported. Her application for adjusted immigration status had been denied after a federal investigation discovered two fraudulent marriages, according to a state police affidavit. LaFlamme is appealing the deportation order.

Some who know LaFlamme from her political action in the Latino community said they knew about her immigration issues. LaFlamme had volunteered on a number of election campaigns for Democrats, including those for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, and City Councilman Nicholas Narducci Jr.

Yesterday, Narducci said he learned LaFlamme wasn’t a citizen last year when she tried to run for a seat on the Ward 4 Democratic committee. She had posted her campaign on a page on Narducci’s Web site — touting her employment at the Registry and that she’d come to this country from the Dominican Republic in 1996, and borrowing Narducci’s election slogan “A New Beginning.” But Narducci said another candidate eventually ran for the seat when it was discovered that LaFlamme was ineligible to vote. She was put on the Ward’s community action committee instead.

This is obviously a woman who habitually attempted to circumvent the system. It doesn't sound like she was here illegally (pending deportation aside), so she could legally obtain a valid SSN. But she still can't vote, much less run for office! I wonder if she was aware that she was ineligible? Regardless, what's more troubling to me is that a lot of people simply looked the other way.

October 6, 2007

Western Union fees: Straining at a Gnat

Monique Chartier

The Providence City Council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution Thursday night endorsing a boycott of Western Union, making it the first city in the United States to do so.

Activist groups nationwide have been organizing small protests against the company for the past month, charging that Western Union’s fees are too high, and that the company does not give back enough to the people and countries it serves.

City Council members estimate that Western Union handles 55 percent of money transfers to and from Providence, and last night, the 15-member City Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the campaign.

Setting aside for the moment that whole capitalist concept of allowing prices to be established by willing buyers and willing sellers, as of 2004, legal and illegal immigrants have been sending $39 billion annually out of the United States and back to their home countries. This is the "camel" which the Providence City Council appears willing to swallow.

Let's be clear. There is no question that visiting workers earn the dollars which they remit home nor that they have the right to do so. However, it seems a bit incongruous for the Providence City Council to condemn on the basis that the company "does not give back enough to the people and countries it serves" the amount of the fees which enable the transfer of $39 billion annually out of the United States.

September 7, 2007

Re: The Death of Edimar de Araujo

Justin Katz

Here's the key paragraph of Andrew's post on the supposed traffic arrest fatality:

From what we know, anyone with Mr. Araujo's medical condition -- citizen or non-citizen -- could have suffered the same unfortunate fate, if discovered to be the subject of an outstanding warrant following a traffic stop. Mr Araujo's immigration status is only relevant to his death while in custody to the extent that the United States (or any society) enforces any system of laws at all.

As occurred to me when I first read Ms. Ziner's piece, a bare minimum consequence of being an illegal immigrant is that one's entire life must be lived in shadow, hiding from the law. If that basic determination is not tolerable, then borders are not tolerable.

August 15, 2007

A Native Immigrant

Justin Katz

From time to time throughout my life, I've been asked whether I was from another country. As far as I can recall, the question has always been posed by females, so I've generally taken it as an intended compliment — some variation of "So are you exotic as well as dashingly handsome?" (On the other hand, perhaps I have some subtle, undiagnosed speech impediment that women especially pick up as an accent, with foreign birth being the charitable interpretation.)

Well, today, the Filipino maid of the family for whom I've been working asked my nation of origin, with her explanation being that some of her immigrant friends back on Long Island are carpenters. I think I'll go with the assumption that she thought a carpenter listening to Chopin must be Polish, rather than consider whether I ought to feel stuck in a job that Americans just won't do.

June 27, 2007

Immigration Anecdote

Marc Comtois

Strictly political "kudos" to the Democrats for making the ongoing immigration debate a Republican affair. The GOP has rent itself in two over the issue while the Dems have been able to sit back and grin. But the honeymoon may be over. A co-worker--this person is predisposed to Democrats, doesn't like Bush and is only mildly interested in politics (you know, your typical Rhode Islander)--told me this morning, "I didn't realize the Democrats were for legalizing illegal immigrants. Sheesh." Welp, probably too little, too late.

At this point, it seems a fait accompli that the omnibus Immigration Bill will be passed, even though there isn't even close to broad-based support for it. I wonder if the political class will suffer at the polls for this...or will their gambit pay off and this will be all forgotten by 2008, replaced by more pressing issues like health care reform or some newly defined crisis.

June 15, 2007

RE: Immigration Bill Coming Back After the Fourth of July

Marc Comtois

As Andrew posted, the Immigration Bill will be coming back. Charles Krauthammer can't understand why the damn thing has to be so complicated (via NLT):

The reason comprehensive immigration reform remains in jeopardy, despite yesterday's partial resuscitation, is that it is a complex compromise with too many moving parts and too many competing interests....There is only one provision that has unanimous support: stronger border enforcement. I've seen senators stand up and object to the point system, to chain migration, to guest workers, to every and any idea in this bill -- except one. I have yet to hear a senator stand up and say she is against better border enforcement.

Why not start by passing what all sides say they want?

Yeah. There are some Senators who aren't buying the "new tone" coming from the White House, which is promising $4.4 billion "in immediate additional funding for securing our borders and enforcing our laws at the work site."
Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) is unconvinced the $4.4 billion expenditure would rally public support for the bill...., “If all they do is start spending money, that’s not going to convince anybody. We all know that the federal government spends lots of money and doesn’t get much done....What they are doing is that they are holding the things that need to be done hostage for amnesty. There is no reason we need to grant permanent legal status to illegal aliens before we have a secure border, before we have a worker ID and before we have a legal program that works.”

Republican candidate for President Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif) noted, “The Department of Homeland Security has almost a billion dollars on hand now for the border fence and road and lights and sensors.”

On October 26, 2006, President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act, authored by Hunter, to authorize the construction of a 2,100 mile fence along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“So, they’ve had the last seven months to build the border fence,” Hunter said in a phone interview. “The border fence, as I wrote it, is a double fence with a border patrol road in between and they’ve only built one layer eleven miles long to date.” {emphasis added}

Krauthammer has probably hit on why there is such a reluctance to build the fence; and it's wrongheaded:
Why am I so suspicious about the fealty of the reformers to real border control? In part because of the ridiculous debate over the building of a fence....Instead, we are promised all kinds of fancy, high-tech substitutes -- sensors, cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles -- and lots more armed chaps on the ground to go chasing those who get through.

Why? A barrier is a very simple thing to do. The technology is well tested. The Chinese had success with it, as did Hadrian. In our time, the barrier Israel has built has been so effective in keeping out intruders that suicide attacks are down more than 90 percent.

Fences work....[but] [t]he final argument against fences is, of course, the symbolism. We don't want a fence that announces to the world that America is closed. But this is entirely irrational. The fact is that under our law, America is indeed closed -- to all but those who, after elaborate procedures, are deemed worthy of joining the American family. Those objecting to the fence should be objecting to the law that closes America off, not to the means for effectively carrying out that law.

They haven't even progressed on the single easiest measure for border enforcement that is current law. Why should we believe them now?

Immigration Bill Coming Back After the Fourth of July

Carroll Andrew Morse

From today’s New York Times

Senate Democratic and Republican leaders announced on Thursday that they had agreed on a way to revive a comprehensive immigration bill that was pulled off the Senate floor seven days ago.

The majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said they expected the bill to return to the floor before the Fourth of July recess.

In a joint statement, Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell said: “We met this evening with several of the senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill.”

The immigration bill, ardently sought by President Bush, would make the biggest changes in immigration law and policy in more than 20 years.

I wish that the national Republican establishment had been this tenacious in pushing the President’s Social Security reform and/or healthcare reform proposals, but repairing the dangerously unsustainable regulatory and tax systems used by the general public doesn’t seem to instill the same sense of urgency in the national Republican party as does taking care of the needs of the cheap-labor business lobby.

June 14, 2007

Rasmussen: Majority Favor "Enforcement Only" Immigration Plan

Marc Comtois


Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters would favor an approach that focuses “exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration.” Support for the enforcement only approach comes from 84% of Republicans, 55% of Democrats, and 69% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Overall, just 21% are opposed to the enforcement-only approach.

Victor Davis Hanson explains the public mood:
Millions of fair-minded white, African-, Mexican- and Asian-Americans fear that we are not assimilating millions of aliens from south of the border as fast as they are crossing illegally from Mexico.
I think many Americans would even be willing to give those illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. a pass--yes, amnesty--if they could trust that the government would really make the border more secure. But they don't trust the political class. Thus, the majority of Americans are having a Jerry Maguire, "show us the money" moment. The politicians have to prove they are serious about controlling illegal immigration. The message is this: earn our trust by fixing the border, then we can talk about reforming the current system.

June 7, 2007

The Wobbling Immigration Compromise...

Carroll Andrew Morse

...and can someone with some insight into the Democratc mind explain Sheldon Whitehouse's voting pattern to me?

The Associated Press is reporting that the Senate’s version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill is in trouble because of an amendment passed late last night

A fragile compromise that would legalize millions of unlawful immigrants risks coming unraveled after the Senate voted early Thursday to place a five-year limit on a program meant to provide U.S. employers with 200,000 temporary foreign workers annually.

The 49-48 vote came two weeks after the Senate, also by a one-vote margin, rejected the same amendment by Sen. Byron Dorgan. The North Dakota Democrat says immigrants take many jobs Americans could fill.

The reversal dismayed backers of the immigration bill, which is supported by President Bush but loathed by many conservatives. Business interests and their congressional allies were already angry that the temporary worker program had been cut in half from its original 400,000-person-a-year target.

The amendment is potentially a poison pill because it alters the fundamental balance of the immigration compromise between our nation’s business and political elites. The deal is supposed to be that business gets cheap labor in return for Democrats getting new voters. However, the business lobby and their Republican clients (or is it the Republicans and their business lobby clients?) will be less inclined to support this bill if the Senate reduces the amount of cheap labor made available without reducing the number of potential new voters eligible to traverse a “path to citizenship”.

Senator Arlen Specter has indicated that the amendment may be amended in some way to restore the previous compromise, so this is far from over.

On the local front, Senator Jack Reed voted with most Democrats in favor of the five-year limit on the guest worker program, i.e. to create new voters for his party without giving business the expanded cheap labor pool that it wants. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was one of the 11 Democrats who voted against the amendment. The always-alert Mickey Kaus notes that Senator Whitehouse’s vote on this is a flip-flop, as he voted in favor of virtually the same amendment on May 24. (A cynic would ask what the Kennedy machine offered Senator Whitehouse in order to get him to change his vote.)

Finally, both Democratic Presidential frontrunners in the Senate voted in favor of the amendment, bolstering the theory that this may be intended by some Dems to kill a bill that is tremendously unpopular in the country...

A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Monday and Tuesday night found that just 23% of voters now support the bill while 50% are opposed,
...without taking direct responsibility for it. Seeking ways to take action without taking responsibility does seem to be standard Democratic party operating procedure in this session of Congress.

Continue reading "The Wobbling Immigration Compromise..."

June 6, 2007

Whitehouse: No Z-Visas for Illegal Felons Equates to Torture

Marc Comtois

In the ongoing immigration debate in the Senate, Sen. John Cornyn introduced an amendment banning felons from obtaining Z visas. Our own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse rose up in opposition to Cornyn's attempt at common sense, as Michelle Malkin reports:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (who?) is blabbering on about the due process rights of illegal aliens. Now he's equating torture and rendition with the Cornyn amendment to ban felons from getting Z visas. Whitehouse: "There they go again." Accuses GOP of violating "bedrock principles" of American law. {link to "rendition" added by me-ed.}
Yes, it's surely within the spirit of American law to allow someone who has been convicted of a crime while in this country illegally to be allowed to stay and, eventually, become a citizen.

Continue reading "Whitehouse: No Z-Visas for Illegal Felons Equates to Torture"

June 4, 2007

Immigration, Markets and Progressive Taxation

Carroll Andrew Morse

Oppose "comprehensive" immigration reform and you’re helping bring Hillary Clinton to power argues Wall Street Journal editorial board member Daniel Henninger, writing in last Thursday's OpinionJournal

The massive migrant flows across the states described earlier--into the private industries of construction, restaurants, agriculture, food-packaging, hotels, health and landscaping--is irrefutably the result of powerful, lava-like free-market economic forces.

No matter how principled conservatives may think themselves on this issue, the fact remains that at crunch time they sent the market to the back of the southbound bus. Sounds much like the extra-market case their opponents make for the Kyoto Treaty. It also sounds like an argument for sending a $2,000 contribution to Hillary Clinton, so the country can be run by people who truly believe in managed economies.

But, as the Projo editorial board suggests in their Saturday paper, more than market-based forces are driving immigration into the U.S...
In 2004, Rhode Island spent over $87 million educating the children of illegal immigrants, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That number is surely higher now and almost matches the surprise $90 million hole in the fiscal 2008 budget.

Several other states and localities, frustrated by the federal government’s incompetence, timidity and inaction, have passed their own laws to reduce illegal immigration within their borders. Some of these efforts have apparently shown success with reports of taxpayer savings. Contrary to myth, most illegal immigrants pay little in taxes.

(Actually, I’m not sure the figure of $87 million is an official Department of Education estimate; I believe it comes from a Federation for American Immigration Reform study which combines demographic data from the Census Bureau and the Immigration and Naturalization Service with per-pupil spending data from the Education Department). Still, whatever the exact number, the Projo editorial board's view of immigration more accurately describes reality than does Henniger's market-only view.

Low skill immigrants are drawn to America because a) the market will provide them with jobs and b) the government will provide them with American-quality public services c) while asking for very little in return in terms of taxes. Point c) is decidedly not the result of market forces; it is the result of our government's policy of progressive taxation. Currently, about 50% of the U.S. population pays no Federal income tax at all. And since the RI income tax piggybacks on the federal income tax, a large number of Rhode Islanders pay no state income tax either. Combine mass immigration of low skill labor with this hyper-progressive tax system, and you increase the number of people entitled to government services and benefits, without creating the matching increase in revenue needed to pay for the services being used.

Are comprehensive immigration advocates honestly promising that government can sustain the existing quality of its public programs as people are added to the system faster than revenues are? Or do they simply believe that the costs associated with new arrivals can always picked up by increasing the progressivity of the tax code, i.e. by jacking up the taxes on the people already here?

To be fair, I suspect Daniel Henninger and the WSJ editorial board would propose a simple solution to this problem -- flatten out the tax code. However, until a flatter tax code becomes a reality, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to discuss immigration purely in terms of market forces. As for progressive supporters of immigration reform, they want a hyper-progressive tax code, mass immigration, and an expansive welfare state all at the same time. Unfortunately, a rational, sustainable system cannot embody all three.

May 29, 2007

The Message to Miss USA

Carroll Andrew Morse

A live audience in Mexico booed Miss USA during the interview portion of last night’s Miss Universe pageant. So there will be no lingering bad feelings between nations, let’s attempt to understand in the best possible light the message the audience was trying to deliver.

There will be a temptation to view the message as a selfish one…

Boooooooo....Miss USA, why should we have to live next to and take care of our own underprivileged citizens? Booooooo....We think someone else, namely your country, should take care of them for us instead,
…but the message may have been more altruistic…
Boooooo....Please Miss USA, tell your leaders to be humane. Booooooo....After all, much of our own country is a stinking hell-hole. It’s unconscionable that a great nation like yours could support policies that would force anyone wanting to leave to keep living in this dump. Boooooo....booooo.
This understanding of the potential atruism in the booing should help clear up any misunderstandings.

May 22, 2007

Senator Mel Martinez’s Unbelievable Message

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to CNN, Florida Senator Mel Martinez is trying to reassure Republican voters skeptical about the substance of the comprehensive immigration reform package by telling them it will be good politics for their party

On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer Sunday, [Senator Mel Martinez] said immigration "could be the saving of the Republican Party, frankly. And to do nothing would be the wrong thing for the American people."
In other words, pass this bill, and you’ll see the same shift of support to the Republican party that you saw follow No-Child-Left-Behind and Medicare Part D.

That’s the message rank-and-file Republicans are hearing, even if Senator Martinez doesn’t realize that it’s the one he’s delivering.

Economic Impact of Illegal Immigration

Marc Comtois

Now that the Senate has slowed down the "amnesty" process a bit (phew!), perhaps they will be able to thoughtfully examine the economic impact of allowing massive numbers of low-skilled immigrant workers into this country (whether they're here illegally or not). This isn't to say that we shouldn't allow such workers in, only that we shouldn't allow so many--and we certainly shouldn't do so by enabling illegal entry by "looking the other way."

It is often argued that the American economy relies on low-skill immigrants--illegal or not--who can be paid a low wage to perform the "jobs Americans won't do." What is left unsaid is that these workers effectively hold down the wages of American citizens, as this study {PDF} shows.

• By increasing the supply of labor between 1980 and 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of native-born men by an estimated $1,700 or roughly 4 percent.
• Among natives without a high school education, who roughly correspond to the poorest tenth of the workforce, the estimated impact was even larger, reducing their wages by 7.4 percent.
• The 10 million native-born workers without a high school degree face the most competition from immigrants, as do the eight million younger natives with only a high school education and 12 million younger college graduates.
• The negative effect on native-born black and Hispanic workers is significantly larger than on whites because a much larger share of minorities are in direct competition with immigrants.
• The reduction in earnings occurs regardless of whether the immigrants are legal or illegal, permanent or temporary. It is the presence of additional workers that reduces wages, not their legal status.

Continue reading "Economic Impact of Illegal Immigration"

More on Illegal Immigration Bill

Donald B. Hawthorne

Illegal Immigration Bill Timing Delayed:

Senate leaders agreed Monday that they would wait until June to take final action on a bipartisan plan to give millions of unlawful immigrants legal status....

Thomas Sowell
Newt Gingrich
Jonah Goldberg
Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin
John Fund
Michael Barone
Wall Street Journal
Washington Times

May 21, 2007

Immigration Follies

Carroll Andrew Morse

1. If America’s leaders really want to create a political culture where comprehensive immigration reform (aka “mass amnesty”) is received more warmly than it has been so far, they need to prove that they can run the government without steadily diminishing the quality of services accessible by the regular folks who play by the rules and ultimately pay the bills. Glenn Reynolds has touched upon this idea…

More than hostility to illegal immigrants, I think a lot of the backlash is driven by the sense that Washington insiders don't really value what ordinary law-abiding people do by way of living their lives and, you know, abiding by the law.
Right now, the Washington elite is offering this deal to the country: Business will get a regularized supply of cheap labor. Democratic pols will get more voters. In return, ordinary people will get an increased strain on the already buckling systems that they rely on and/or pay for in areas like education, health care and social services.

Could the increased strain turn the buckling into a full-scale collapse? The answer from the political class seems to be "who cares”; “our job is to take care of our special interests”; “it’s someone else’s job to worry about regular citizens”. That is not much of a deal for the regular citizens.

2. The expressed motivation noted by Don for removing requirements that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming eligible for amnesty is especially troubling...

A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes

"It is important that the reformed immigration system is workable and cost efficient," [White House spokesman Scott Stanzel] said. "Determining the past tax liability would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming."

So our government officials looked at a problem, weighed the needs of bureaucracy against the needs of the larger society, and decided the needs of the bureaucracy were more important. Contrary to what Queen Padme Amidala may have tried to tell you, this is how democracies die.

A Sense of Unfairness

Marc Comtois

In a story about how essentially all of the immigration reform bills proposed in the RI General Assembly have stalled, Rep. Richard Singleton (R, Cumberland) gets to the heart of the matter. Most people simply think that giving illegal aliens a pass and rewarding them from not abiding by our laws is simply unfair.

One of Singleton’s bills — to prohibit the children of illegal immigrants from attending public schools in Rhode Island — contravenes federal law, and Singleton said he’s well aware of that. He said he introduced the measure in hopes that the Assembly would pass it and the ACLU would bring a court challenge that would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in a reversal of the current policy on a national level.

“I think it’s incredibly unfair,” Singleton said, “that people can come here, break into our country, sneak in during the middle of the night, and the American taxpayer is expected to educate their children. I think that’s wrong, given the fact that we’re all struggling to pay taxes that cover the cost of education.”

May 20, 2007

The Illegal Immigration Bill

Donald B. Hawthorne

The Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

More on how to read/comment on the bill.

Anybody want to guess on how many senators will have read this bill closely before the public debate starts early in the new week?

With H/T to Instapundit and thanks for NZ Bear for the good work in making this bill so accessible to all of us. Now, may it experience a rapid legislative death.

More on the illegal immigration issue here, here, here, and here.


Thanks to Power Line for more on the heated exchange between Senators McCain and Cornyn - plus some insights into particularly important deportation and enforcement provisions in prior and current bills. (H/T Michelle Malkin.)

Hugh Hewitt's writes these words to his friends at Power Line: "The bill's indifference to terrorism is stunning."

Hewitt's opinions on the draft bill are here. In that link, he writes:

There are so many problems with this bill that it should not be introduced in the Senate absent a period of open hearings on it and the solicitation of expert opinion from various analysts across the ideological spectrum. Even were it somehow to improbably make its way to the president's desk, if it does so before these problems are aired and confronted, the Congress would be inviting a monumental distrust of the institution. There is simply too much here to say "Trust us," and move on. The jam down of such a far reaching measure, drafted in secret and very difficult for laymen much less lawyers to read, is fundamentally inconsistent with how we govern ourselves.

More information leads over at The Corner. National Review editors have this to say.

Rich Lowry weighs in.

The U.S. has now constructed .286 percent of the 700 miles of fencing on the southern border provided for in 2006’s Secure Fence Act. That is sufficient for a bipartisan group of senators to want to effectively declare this brief national experiment with immigration enforcement effectively over.

Enough with the harsh exclusionary measures! Two miles of fencing out of 700 passed by Congress on a border stretching 1,952 miles is a milestone that should mark our departure to the next phase of immigration policy — a sweeping amnesty of illegals and an increase in legal immigration. Thus, another confirmation of the iron rule of the nation’s immigration politics: No matter how discontented the public is with our broken immigration system, the political elite’s answer is always higher levels of immigration...

Heather Mac Donald shares these thoughts:

...Its key feature is rather that illegal aliens, according to press reports, can immediately have their illegal status wiped away with a temporary-residency permit, available virtually upon demand. That’s it. The rest is noise...There is no ambiguity about the effects of amnesty. Everywhere they have been introduced—including in Europe—they have brought in their train a new flood of illegals. This latest bill will do the same.

Kathryn Lopez has some initial reactions.

And, Just In Case You Weren't Already Upset Enough...Part 2

Donald B. Hawthorne

Discussing the illegal immigrant tax issue highlighted in an earlier post, Mark Steyn - once again - says it better than anyone else:

I always thought the requirement in last year's bill was pretty sweet: You had to pay two out of three years' back taxes. Most legal Americans would love that deal: Pay any two years of tax and we'll give you the third for free!

But the President obviously concluded that even this was insufficiently appealing. Which gets to the heart of the problem. Whenever folks use this "living in the shadows" line, they assume that these 12-20-30 million people all have a burning desire to move out of the shadows and live under the klieg lights of officialdom. But, in fact, if you wanted to construct the perfect arrangement for modern life, it would be to acquire:

a) just enough of an official identity to be able to function - open bank accounts, etc - and to access free education and health care; but

b) not enough of an official identity to attract the attentions of the IRS and the other less bountiful agencies of the state.

The present "undocumented" network structures provide this. For these Z visas to "work" (in Washington terms), they have to be attractive enough to draw sufficient numbers out of "the shadows". Right now, "living in the shadows" is a pretty good deal. Somerset Maugham famously called Monte Carlo a sunny place full of shady people. Undocumented America is a shady place full of sunny people.

Instead of attempting to draw the undocumented out of the shadows, it might be fairer to allow the rest of us to "live in the shadows", too. My suggestion is that, on the day this bill comes into effect, all 300 million US citizens and legal residents should apply for a Z visa.

More Mark Steyn here.

And, Just In Case You Weren't Already Upset Enough...

Donald B. Hawthorne

Another disgusting piece of information about the US Senate bill on illegal immigration trickles out:

The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.

An independent analyst estimated the decision could cost the IRS tens of billions of dollars.

A provision requiring payment of back taxes had been in the initial version of a bill proposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat. But the administration called for the provision to be removed due to concern that it would be too difficult to figure out which illegal immigrants owed back taxes.

The dropping of the back-tax provision was not made clear in the announcement of the immigration reform proposal on Thursday. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, speaking in reference to illegal immigrants seeking legal status, said, "You've got to pay your taxes." He did not state whether he was referring to back taxes, future taxes, or both.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, asked in a telephone interview yesterday to clarify Chertoff's remark, said it referred only to future taxes.

"It is important that the reformed immigration system is workable and cost efficient," Stanzel said. "Determining the past tax liability would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming."

Stanzel stressed that immigrants would be required to pay a fine of up to $5,000 if they want to apply for a green card to become a legal resident, although that fine is not for failure to pay taxes.

Laura Capps, a spokeswoman for Kennedy, said a provision for requiring back taxes was in Kennedy's original bill and that Chertoff called for it to be removed. "Chertoff thought it would be too challenging to accurately determine the amount of an applicant's back taxes," she said.

Administration officials said many illegal immigrants do not get paychecks that can be audited, making it difficult to determine tax liability...

What if, in the spirit of being "cost-efficient," all law-abiding citizens of America decided that paying their taxes was just too "difficult and costly and extremely time consuming" to do? Would we be given the same break that illegal immigrants - who have already broken laws to get into our country - could now receive with nothing less than the blessing of the Federal government? Of course not!

This bill is a slap in the face to all those legal immigrants who played by the rules to come into the United States. It is a slap in the face to all those immigrants who are still trying to enter the United States legally. And this latest news is nothing less than a slap in the face to all law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and only ask that others be held to the same standards of fair play.

Why does the Bush administration choose to provide law-breaking illegal immigrants with an additional economic reward for their bad behavior? How could that ever build further respect for the rule-of-law in America?

This is a what happens when the public debate on a major bill is rushed before the bill itself is written and publicly available.

And this latest news brings us right back to the big-picture issues and why a lousy illegal immigration bill is worse than no bill at all.

More reactions here.

Fred Thompson sums it all up:

Most Americans know that we have an illegal immigration problem in this country, with perhaps as many as 20 million people residing here unlawfully. And I think most Americans have a pretty good idea about how to at least start solving the problem - secure our nation's borders...

I'd tell you what was in the legislation, but 24 hours after the politicians agreed the bill looked good, the Senate lawyers were still writing what may turn out to be a one thousand page document. In fact, a final version of the bill most likely will not be made available to the public until after the legislation is passed. That may come five days from now. That's like trying to digest an eight-course meal on a fifteen-minute lunch break...

The fact is our border and immigration systems are still badly broken. We were reminded of this when Newsweek reported that the family of three of the men, arrested last week for allegedly plotting to kill American military personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey, entered the U.S. illegally more than 20 years ago; filed for asylum back in 1989, but fell off the government's radar screen when federal bureaucrats essentially lost track of the paperwork. Wonder how many times that's been replicated?

Is it any wonder that a lot of folks today feel like they're being sold a phony bill of goods on border security? A "comprehensive" plan doesn't mean much if the government can't accomplish one of its most basic responsibilities for its citizens -- securing its borders. A nation without secure borders will not long be a sovereign nation...

We should scrap this "comprehensive" immigration bill and the whole debate until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders -- or at least made great headway. That would give proponents of the bill a chance to explain why putting illegals in a more favorable position than those who play by the rules is not really amnesty.

May 19, 2007

Simply Irresponsible

Donald B. Hawthorne

Forget for a minute the philosophical and policy objections to the new illegal immigration bill before the US Senate.

Consider how the Senate debate on this enormously important matter is being rushed, as noted by Senator DeMint:

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on the immigration plan this Monday, and yet we still haven’t seen the bill. In fact, we’re hearing the bill has not even been completed. This issue is far too important to jam into a couple days. It would be irresponsible for Congress to pass a long, complicated immigration bill that it knows very little about. Americans expect us to take our time and get this right.

As we understand it, this plan will grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants by allowing them to permanently stay here without ever having to return to their home countries. This can be fixed, but it will take time and there is no way the Senate can responsibly complete this debate in one week.

Those words follow these comments by Senator DeMint one day earlier:

I hope we don't take a thousand page bill written in secret and try to ram it through the Senate in a few days. This is a very important issue for America and we need time to debate it.

But the little we do know about the bill is troubling. According to reports, the bill contains a new 'Z Visa' that allows those who entered our country illegally to stay here permanently without ever returning home. This rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America. I don't care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty.

The Senator has also written this thoughtful op-ed piece.

May 18, 2007

Illegal Immigration Bill: The Bush/Kennedy Bill is a Disaster in the Making

Donald B. Hawthorne

Another U.S. Senate bill on illegal immigration, another disaster in the making.

Michelle Malkin is doing her usual good work summarizing thoughts and reactions about the Senate's new bill. See here and here. (And now here.)

Sometimes there is no need to invent new thoughts when prior thoughts say it all:

This morning's publication of an Open Letter about immigration by leading conservatives prompted me to re-read a draft posting I had last edited on May 26. Here is that late-May posting:

Now that we have the Senate and House going into conference with the objective of negotiating a final bill out of two very different bills, it is worth taking a step back and asking ourselves: What are the big issues in this illegal immigration debate? In other words, what policies and values are at stake as those negotiations begin and where should we go from here?

Let me begin with an analogy:

Think back to when you were in elementary school. Remember the occasional kid who would not play by the rules? Now, in most cases, peer pressure corrected their aberrant behavior. But sometimes it did not. And, without the presence of teachers or school aides to adjudicate the situation, a bully could get away with uncivilized behavior and disrupt the peaceful actions of kids who were simply trying to play by the rules.

Now recall how you felt if you or your friends were taken advantage of: The bully was being unfair. Playing fair - by playing by the rules - is a key principle of American life. It is why we don't like cheaters - in school, on the ball field, in business or in politics.

Whether we will play fair with illegal immigration concerns defines the core issue of this debate.

What the American people get - and many of the Washington politicians from both parties do not get - is that we understand this Senate bill is amnesty for lawbreakers. For corporate lawbreakers and for illegal alien lawbreakers. This bill rewards all of them for breaking the law by relieving them of any consequences for their past illegal actions. And it is no less troubling that the structural incentives of the bill will ensure future behaviors are equally reprehensible. All of this is unfair and wrong.

The Senate bill fails to codify a sense of fair play - aka the rule-of-law in legal terms - into public policies that enhance our ability to live together peacefully as a society. It is actually worse than that because it makes future societal conflict more likely.

These initial points also clarify what are NOT the big issues here. This is not about being racist or hating minorities, no matter how hard some amnesty advocates will push that shtick. All you have to do is read the postings on this blogsite, from well before the illegal immigration issue moved front-and-center, to know that many of us who are agitated about illegal immigration come from families that marched with and were outspokenly supportive of the noble cause led by Martin Luther King, Jr. And because this is a rule-of-law issue, it is also not a civil rights issue.

The American people see through all the moral preening by various parties and have cut to the heart of the matter. Under the status quo, they observe:

The government passes laws they have no intention of enforcing and grants benefits to people who have not earned them.

Businesses are willing to break the law in order to get cheap labor and increase their profits.

Unions are looking for easy marks to recruit for membership, thereby increasing their power.

Both political parties are willing to ignore serious and unresolved policy issues so they can maximize their chances of attracting more Hispanics to their respective parties.

Radicals - like many who organized the May 1 rallies - are promoting an anti-American vision of separatist identity politics completely disconnected from the Founding principles of our country.

Mexico is in political disarray, has an economy that does not generate enough jobs, and threatens to sue our country just for protecting our border.

Illegal immigrants (and many of their advocates) are effectively saying "I am here so deal it with it on my terms."

Broadly speaking, there are national security, economic and cultural issues at stake here and none is being addressed with any rigor. The American people understand that a failure to deal effectively with any of the three issues diminishes the quality of our country's life - and could even threaten its existence over time.

There are three specific policy issues at the center of this debate:

American sovereignty: Will we set our own laws about immigration as a country or will we let illegal aliens or foreign countries drive our laws?

Rule of law: Will we enforce fairly the laws on our books, thereby ensuring a consistent - and not corrupt - application of those laws?

Assimilation - Becoming an American citizen is an honor, not a right. We want all citizens to share that sense of honor. So, what does it mean to be an American citizen and how will immigrants be taught American history and the uniqueness of the American experiment in ordered liberty?

So where do we go from here? I would suggest several key points:

We need to transform immigration processes from dishonest to honest practices. The only way we will get to that point is if we first skewer the moral preeners and drive the debate to a focus on both the 3 broad issues (national security, economic, cultural) and the 3 specific policy issues (American sovereignty, rule-of-law, assimilation) mentioned above.

There is a consensus about the need for enforcement, both at the border and with employer compliance. We should begin there and do that right.

There is not a consensus on what to do next and the worst thing we can do is force another law onto the books that either makes no sense or will not be enforced. There is an analogy with the abortion issue. This country became polarized because the Supreme Court acted in a way that pre-empted a national debate from occurring, from allowing a broad consensus to develop. In its current form, this Senate bill is likely to lead to a similar outcome. The issues won't go away; the passions will not diminish. But the debate will be stopped dead in its tracks and that will only polarize the country. There is much to discuss and we should conduct a reasoned debate at the national level about immigration issues - such as how to deal with the existing illegal aliens in our country, guest worker strategies, and so forth. If we did that, a national consensus would emerge. None of us would likely prefer every outcome but the odds are we could find a way to policies that are generally acceptable to most Americans.

My personal hope is that a more limited bill comes out of conference and we can then conduct a thoughtful public debate on how best to do the right thing and keep America strong. We owe nothing less to our children and to the future of America.

For more readings on the topic:

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate
More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration
Does The Rule Of Law & A Sense Of Fair Play Matter Anymore? The Debate About In-State Tuitions For Illegal Immigrants
Jennifer Roback Morse: Further Clarifying What is at Stake in the Illegal Immigration Debate

April 9, 2007

"Anchor Babies" and RIte Care

Marc Comtois

Froma Harrop calls attention to the problem that "Anchor Babies" (some consider the term to be a perjorative, incidentally) pose for immigration reform and enforcement.

Pregnant women routinely arrive in the United States in time to give birth and thereby obtain Social Security numbers for their babies — and with them, permanent entrée into American society and the socio-economic benefits it offers. Once the American-born child turns 21, he or she can sponsor his or her parents and other relatives for citizenship.

Many illegal aliens already in this country make a point of having “anchor babies” that they hope will secure them a permanent status in the United States. During the recent immigration raid at the Michael Bianco factory, in New Bedford, a number of the arrested women who had American-born children were allowed to return to the community, while the childless workers were kept in detention centers.

Changing the law will not be easy. The guarantee of citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil is in a 1952 immigration act and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1868. When Rep. Brian Bilbray (R.-Calif.) first introduced legislation to change the law, in 1995, stopping the anchor-baby phenomenon was considered radical.

Since then, however, our broken immigration system has made the concept more mainstream. Very few countries offer this automatic citizenship. Even France has been tightening up.

Ending the citizenship birthright need not affect any future measures to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. What it would do is end another lure to come here illegally.

Meanwhile, RIte Care is now in the process of implementing more stringent, federal guidelines that seek to prevent illegal aliens from using the system. And although even legal citizens are having a hard time proving their citizenship so that they may participate in RIteCare, the program does cover all children, whether their parents are illegal or not, so long as the kids are U.S. citizens. This is exactly the sort of thing Harrop is talking about. Finally, while the President is currently beginning a new push for "comprehensive immigration reform," there is no discussion about fundamentally changing the citizenship equation as outlined by Harrop.

April 2, 2007

Elaborating on MacKay's Immigration History

Marc Comtois

Scott MacKay's immigration piece in the Sunday ProJo was a good piece of historical writing. However, and inevitably, it will be used by some as proof for their arguments in the contemporary illegal immigrant debate. Namely that the U.S. has "historically" allowed all immigrants, whether illegal or not.

My first thought after reading the piece was that, while historically accurate, it doesn't necessarily reflect the situation that confronts us now. To be fair, though, this was only the first in a series (at least according to the ProJo), so I don't want to take MacKay to task when I don't know what else is forthcoming. However, I do suspect that there is an attempt to link the past with the present rather too directly--and some of MacKay's writing has the air of polemic rather than reporting.

Perhaps the issue that stirs the passions the most is that the primary difference between the immigrants of then and now is that the U.S. did not have the current social welfare apparatus in place. As such, the tax dollars of American citizens didn't go to support the immigrants of yesteryear. Instead, the immigrants worked hard for what they got. Were the conditions deplorable? Yes. Did they face racism and xenophobia? Yes. But to conflate then with now is simply not accurate.

MacKay writes about how French-Canadians were resistant to be assimilated into the U.S. culture and society. That is entirely true and I deal extensively with it below. He seems to be emphasizing this for the sake of invoking compassion for today's immigrants--and by doing so he conflates the legal/illegal distinction--but there is another way to look at it. Instead of using it as an excuse for today's immigrants, the difficulties encountered by the French Canadians as they attempted to cling to la survivance can also be used as an object lesson.

I don't think anyone will argue that chances are that the quicker an individual can acclimate to our culture and learn our language, the quicker he can succeed. That does not mean that Americans should denigrate or dismiss the various cultures of the immigrants--and we must keep in mind that there are waves of immigrants, which can obscure any acute progress in cultural education that is being made--but it does mean that we shouldn't let our compassion or forbearance be taken for granted. Today's immigrants should learn the "American way" as soon as possible and be encouraged to do so. That does not mean that they will be or should be somehow forced to forget their own culture.

Another point is that there was no such thing as "illegal immigration" until the U.S. passed laws saying so. MacKay deals with this, and although he certainly ascribes nefarious motives for the passage of the these laws, they were passed in reaction to a specific problem. Americans believed that too many people were coming in, too fast. Regardless of the ofttimes despicable reasoning behind the original passage of these laws, they are still the law and most Americans want to keep it that way.

By limiting immigration, the laws--if properly enforced--would actually reduce the current level of acrimony. They help to throttle back on the "incursion" of "the other" (to use a favorite academic term)--they make the waves smaller--and make it easier for those immigrants who enter the country legally to assimilate into the U.S. If these laws weren't so popular amongst Americans--including legal immigrants--then I don't think that some illegal immigration apologists would so consistently conflate the difference between illegal and legal immigration.

Overall, I find it interesting that much of this recounting of history is deemed pertinent because it apparently supports the argument that goes something like this: we've always had these immigration problems in the U.S. so why is it such a big deal now? What's missing from MacKay's accurate re-telling of history is any sense of learning from the lessons of the past. (Though, as I indicated, perhaps that will be present in the next story). Since when have progressives taken to premising their arguments upon the notion of "that's the way it's always been..." to argue for what it should be now? Usually they take what they know of history and try to identify a better way of dealing with the problems that were encountered. In this case, it seems like they're really just saying that everything is fine, let's move on.

In the extended portion of this post, I've tried to elaborate a bit on some of the unsaid implications in MacKay's piece by calling upon my own research into French-Canadian immigration during the post-Civil War era. To do this, I've excerpted liberally from a 4-part series on the topic that I've posted at Spinning Clio. (For important background--and full sources--see these posts on French-Canadian immigration before the Civil War and French-Canadian involvement in the Civil War, portions of which are included in this post).

Continue reading "Elaborating on MacKay's Immigration History"

March 20, 2007

ACLU et al: Stop Profiling...and by the way, Don't Enforce Immigration Laws

Marc Comtois

H 5237, promoted by the ACLU and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Roundtable and sponsored by Reps. Almeida, Diaz, Ajello, Handy, and Slater, will create the "Immigration Status Protection Act" and change the "Racial Profiling Prevention Act" of 2004. It is a true gem of self-contradiction. But I'll get to that.

First, though, as the ProJo reports (Amanda Milkovits), the hearing on this bill revealed that the police feel as if they've been double-crossed and aren't going to simply grin and bear it.

For years, local police chiefs and civil-rights activists have worked together on efforts to combat racial profiling. But in January, civil-rights leaders decided on their own to pursue legislation.

Among its key points, the bill would ban “pretext” traffic stops, forbid the police from searching juveniles without consent and ban the police from asking people about their immigration status except in extremely limited circumstances. The bill also would prevent the police from asking for passengers’ identification during routine traffic stops.

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association says many of the bill’s measures would severely handicap police officers from properly doing their jobs. After weeks of trying to negotiate a compromise, the association has given up, calling the bill “a deal-breaker.”

The chiefs also say the bill flies in the face of federal law and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, and upsets the delicate balance between civil rights and public safety.

...McCartney, the Warwick police chief, said the chiefs association was blind-sided by the bill and ACLU report. After the bill was submitted, the Civil Rights Roundtable invited the police chiefs to negotiate. The chiefs declared an impasse after two months. “I told them at the third session, ‘You’ve put us in the position of being the bad guys and naysayers, but you people changed the playing field,’ ” McCartney said.

So, as if the contentiousness surrounding the profiling issue wasn't enough, the sponsors of the bill decided to also throw in some guidelines severely restricting the ability of police to identify and detain illegal immigrants. Or did they. I don't really know. You read this section of the bill and try to figure it out:

Continue reading "ACLU et al: Stop Profiling...and by the way, Don't Enforce Immigration Laws"

March 19, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding: Americans DO Want "Those" Jobs

Marc Comtois

I had heard last week that the recently-raided M. Bianco plant in New Bedford had opened it's doors to applicants and that they were mobbed. As Mark Krikorian reminds, this is just another example that undercuts the claim that illegal immigrants do the jobs Americans won't do.

After the Swift meatpacking raids in Greeley. Colo., Americans lined up out the door of the hiring office seeking the newly freed-up positions. Then, after the Crider chicken plant in Stillmore, Ga., was cleared of its illegal aliens, "For the first time in years, local officials say, Crider aggressively sought workers from the area's state-funded employment office." And now, after the raid on a New Bedford, Mass., military contractor (that has caused such hyperventilation from the party apparat in the people's republic), guess what? Yup. Americans in that high-unemployment city are actually getting hired.
He links to this video, from New England Cable News (wish Cox gave us the option...). Watching the video, it becomes clear that--at least anecdotally--the people taking those newly-available jobs are members of the poor and working class minority community. (One gentleman even goes so far as to say--to paraphrase--that it doesn't matter if it's at the minimum wage, it's a job). These are exactly the people most hurt by illegal immigrants working at sub-standard wages. We all have to start somewhere, and by enabling illegal immigrants, those who claim to be advocates for the unemployed are actually doing them a disservice.

March 15, 2007

Brien's Bill A No-Brainer

Marc Comtois

Woonsocket Rep. Jon Brien's bill (which AR took note of here) requiring Rhode Island businesses to utilize the Feds “Basic Pilot Program” to determine if an employee can work in the U.S. legally is a good idea. In a hearing on it yesterday, Brien explained:

Brien said he is trying to reflect his constituents’ wishes to do something about illegal immigration “because the federal government is failing us.”

“I’m not a racist; I’m not a xenophobe,” said Brien. “I’m merely taking the wishes of the people of my district and trying to carry them forward.”

Brien said the Basic Pilot Program “is easy. It’s free — it doesn’t cost anything. It requires an Internet connection.” He said the verification cannot be used retroactively, and cannot be used during the hiring process to screen employees.

“Its goal is to ensure the work force is a legal work force, going forward. That’s it,” said Brien. “The point of the bill is that if you’re going to come to work in the state of Rhode Island, you must do so legally.”

The bill was also supported by WHJJ talk host Helen Glover:
“The federal government is dropping the ball here,” said Glover...“We are a land of laws and I am angered that we even have to go through this … At a time when there is a state budget deficit, we need to make sure there is employment for the people who are legally here.”
Not all agree, though. Here is a litany of their justifications for opposition:
Amy Vitale, program coordinator for the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU “strongly opposes this bill,” in part because of the reported inaccuracy of the government database upon which the program depends...

Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, D-Providence, said he feels that the bill, and others introduced this session on the illegal-immigration issue, “are anti-immigration bills” aimed at all immigrants, whether legal or illegal...

Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, expressed her opposition, arguing that the mandate would place a financial burden on the small businesses she represents in the Washington Park and South Side areas...

Sen. Harold M. Metts, D-Providence, argued against the bill, saying that “anti-illegal” has come to mean “anti-immigration, period.”

...Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, called the bill on the Basic Pilot Program “part of a package of legislation that I believe is very divisive in our state and our community … people are getting angry to the point where they get to use the words ‘hate’ and ‘racist.’ ”

To sum up, while a few opponents believe Brien's bill is inconvenient, their real dislike is based on their conflation (purposeful or otherwise) of immigrant and "illegal immigrant." Added to that is their belief that a desire to uphold the law is really just closet racism. Well, they're wrong.

March 7, 2007

New Bedford Illegals

Marc Comtois

The raid on the Michael Bianco leather plant in New Bedford is making national headlines. There can be no doubt that the company's illegal actions were reprehensible:

The plant’s owner, Francesco Insolia, and managers “knowingly and actively” recruited increasing numbers of illegal workers to meet demands of multiple Department of Defense contracts since 2001. In 2004, the company received an $82-million defense contract, according to allegations in the affidavits filed in support of search warrants executed yesterday. More than 500 people work at the Bianco plant.
And, despite the emotional testimonials of illegal workers being broadcast nationwide, we can't forget that they are here illegally. In fact, embedded in the intended-to-be heart-wrenching anecdotes about the workers and their children is evidence of why we should be concerned:
Advocacy workers rushed to the scene to deliver prescription medications for detained plant workers who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Acting on information that most of the detained workers were women, the advocacy group representatives said they were working through New Bedford public school authorities and contacting day-care centers and private day-care operators, to ensure that children would be safely retrieved.

“Our main concern is for the children,” said Helena Marques, executive director of the Immigrants Assistance Center. “My concern is that a lot of people [arrestees] are women, and they have children. We are trying to get information to the schools and day-care centers.”

How did illegal immigrants get prescription drugs? Why are the children of illegal immigrants enrolled in public schools? Yes, I have compassion for their plight. Yes, they were victimized--and aided and abetted--by a despicable company (not to mention the Social Services sector and their advocates). But they are still here illegally and they've broken the law.

And how many of those jobs could have employed American citizens, including a few Rhode Islanders? There were a few bills proposed in the House this session, but H5367 has been "held for further study" in committee (H 5392 is still in committee).

UPDATE: Commenter Rhody reminds me of something I forget to include:

What I want to know is: how the @#$% did a government contractor which employs illegal immigrants (and treats them in ways that, to put it mildly, explain why we have unions in America) get away with this as long as it did? The heads which need to roll are not confined to this factory's walls.
Thanks Rhody, you've got that right!

February 11, 2007

Watching the Senate: Illegal Immigration Relief Act

Marc Comtois

S 0271, proposed by Senators Maselli, Cote, Raptakis, and Felag, seeks to establish the Illegal Immigration Relief Act:

It is hereby found and declared as follows:

(a) That state and federal law require that certain conditions be met before a person may be authorized to work or reside in this country.
(b) The unlawful workers and illegal aliens, as defined by this chapter and federal law, do not normally meet such conditions as a matter of law when present in the state of Rhode Island.
(c) That unlawful employment, the harboring of illegal aliens in dwelling units in Rhode Island, and crime committed by illegal aliens harm the health, safety and welfare of authorized United States workers and legal residents. Illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates, subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship and legal residents to substandard quality of care, contributes to other burdens on public services, increasing their cost and diminishing their availability to legal residents, and diminishes our overall quality of life.
(d) That the state is authorized to abate public nuisances and empowered and mandated to abate the nuisance of illegal immigration by diligently prohibiting the acts and policies that facilitate illegal immigration in a manner consistent with federal law.
(e) That United States Code Title 8, subsection 1324(a)(1)(A) prohibits the harboring of illegal aliens. The provision of housing to illegal aliens is a fundamental component of harboring.
(f) This chapter seeks to secure to those lawfully present in the United States and this state, whether or not they are citizens of the United States, the right to live in peace free of the threat crime, to enjoy the public services provided by this state without being burdened by the cost of providing goods, support and services to aliens unlawfully present in the United States, and to be free of the debilitating effects on their economic and social well being imposed by the influx of illegal aliens to the fullest extent that these goals can be achieved consistent with the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the state of Rhode Island.
(g) Provided, however, that this chapter shall not prohibit the rendering of emergency medical care, emergency assistance, or legal assistance to any person.

Take this in conjunction with the action in House, and it looks like there may be some serious effort being put forward to stop illegal immigrants and the businesses that employ them from unfairly using the resources of the State. At least we can hope.

UPDATE: I should have noticed earlier that S 0352 is the Senate version of H 3592 (referred to earlier), both of which seeks to put the pressure on employers to run background checks on prospective employees. I guess that's why they issue press releases.

February 8, 2007

Watching the House: Different Perspectives on Illegal Immigration

Marc Comtois

Then there is H 5367 (Proposed by Representatives Peter Palumbo--Deputy Majority Leader, Stephen Ucci, Joe Trillo, Raymond Church, and Arthur Corvese) which seeks to create "THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION RELIEF ACT". The purpose of which is:

This chapter seeks to secure to those lawfully present in the United States and this state, whether or not they are citizens of the United States, the right to live in peace free of the threat [of] crime, to enjoy the public services provided by this state without being burdened by the cost of providing goods, support and services to aliens unlawfully present in the United States, and to be free of the debilitating effects on their economic and social well being imposed by the influx of illegal aliens to the fullest extent that these goals can be achieved consistent with the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the state of Rhode Island.
Read it all. It holds both illegal immigrants and those who employe accountable. Meanwhile, H 5392 (Proposed by Representatives Jon Brien, Douglas Gablinske, Arthur Corvese, Palumbo, and Timothy Williamson--Senior Deputy Majority Leader) puts the onus completely upon the employer side of the equation. Technically, it is an attempt to get Rhode Island to get in line with the "Basic Pilot Program Extension and Expansion Act of 2003", which extended the Federal employment eligibility verification program. Note that both bills were sponsored by Palumbo and Corvese, which may indicated that they will eventually be consolidated. At least I hope so. The problem with the second bill is that it, in essence, appears to hammer employers but leave alone the illegal immigrants themselves. That is only a half-way measure.

February 6, 2007

Progress Despite Uniformity?

Justin Katz

Credit (applause, even) where it's due:

Bills will be introduced in the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives that would prohibit the employment or harboring of illegal aliens in Rhode Island.

To be introduced in the House by Rep. Peter G. Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) and in the Senate by Sen. Christopher B. Maselli (D-Dist. 25, Johnston), “The Illegal Immigration Relief Act” declares that the unlawful employment or harboring of illegal aliens harms the health, safety and welfare of authorized workers and legal residents.

The bills make it unlawful for any business entity to recruit, hire or continue to employ an unlawful worker within the state. Complaints would be investigated by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, which would have the authority to request identity information from a business for any persons alleged to be unlawful workers. Businesses failing to provide such information or which actually employ an unlawful worker would have their business license suspended for 30 days and impose a fine of not more than $500 for a first offense. A second violation would carry a license suspension of up to one year, and any subsequent violation would be a permanent loss of operating license. A third violation would be a felony with a punishment of imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to $3,000.

Businesses or individuals knowingly harboring an illegal worker by renting or leasing a dwelling unit in the state would face action by the Office of the Attorney General, with a potential punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of between $500 and $1,000 for each adult illegal alien being harbored. A subsequent violation would be a felon, with punishment including imprisonment of up to three years and a fine a up to $5,000.

And check this out:

The legislators said they also intend to draft legislation to reform the state’s welfare system, which has long been seen as attracting illegal aliens to the state. Representative Palumbo and Senator Maselli said they want to ensure that Rhode Island distributes welfare support only in the amount appropriated by the federal government.

I may have become too cynical, but I can't help but muse that proposing legislation is relatively cost-free. If a political party begins to fear that its malignant dominance of the government is threatened by general awakening to reality, it could buy some time by feigning to address the issues that promise to be its undoing. I could be wrong, but we'll see whether these bills go anywhere.

January 23, 2007

Illegal Immigrants and the Police

Carroll Andrew Morse

In a Projo letter to the editor published last Saturday, James Rowley commended Rhode Island state trooper Thomas Chabot…

On July 11, 2006, Trooper Thomas Chabot of the Rhode Island State Police, charged with the enforcement of the laws of the state and this country, stopped a van on Route 95 for a motor-vehicle violation and through the questioning of the operator of the van found that 14 illegal Guatemalan immigrants were in the van.

Trooper Chabot took them to the federal immigration authorities in Providence and turned them over.

There is a movement afoot in the US to make actions like those of Trooper Chabot illegal by prohibiting anyone but a Federal agent from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status. Mr. Rowley points out a very obvious flaw in this policy that hasn’t received enough attention, not-entirely rhetorically asking…
Did any of [the illegal immigrants] have criminal records in their own country that might have prevented their legal immigration?
Think about this for a moment. If an American citizen is stopped by police for a traffic violation, determining if that person is wanted for a crime in another state is considered fair game. But if it is a foreign citizen that is stopped, advocates of no-questions-about–immigration-status laws want to deny local authorities the ability to reliably determine if they are dealing with someone who has a criminal record or someone who is a fugitive in their home country.

It is true that it is a very small number of serious criminals that will be encountered in this way, but police are always operating under the assumption that they need to be vigilant against a few violent individuals who have a potential to do great harm to law-abiding citizens through extreme acts. Unfortunately, open-borders ideologues want to make it just a bit easier for that tiny criminal minority to wreak their havoc.

December 9, 2006

Vigilance in Smithfield

Marc Comtois

The ProJo reports:

Federal terrorism officials and Rhode Island authorities converged this week to arrest an Indian citizen enrolled in a Smithfield tractor-trailer training school who was trying to obtain a commercial driver’s license and permit to haul hazardous materials.

The man, Mohammed Yusef Mullawala, of Jamaica, N.Y., is being held in federal custody for overstaying his student visa. State police Maj. Steven O’Donnell said that after two days of truck-driving classes, Mullawala’s behavior was suspicious enough to prompt school officials to contact the Department of Homeland Security late last month.

“His behavior was consistent with terrorist-type activity,” O’Donnell said. “He showed no interest in learning the fine art of driving a tractor-trailer. He had no interest in learning how to back up.”

Kudos to the people at the Nationwide Tractor Trailer Driving School in Smithfield for their vigilance. They may have averted a tragedy and, at the least, they took a person here illegally off of our highways.

August 21, 2006

Rhode Island's Weird Prostitution Law, and Why the ACLU Doesn't Want it Changed

Carroll Andrew Morse

Many Rhode Islanders have been surprised to learn, as reported by Amanda Milkovits in the Projo, that "prostitution isn't illegal in Rhode Island as long as it occurs indoors". The issue was brought to light by a Federal law-enforcement multi-state raid against a thriving network of spa-brothels that included at least one site in Providence.

A previous article by Ms. Milkovits from last year described how legalized prostitution in Rhode Island evolved out of change in state law and an unexpected court decision...

There are clusters of massage parlors, which the police say are actually brothels, operating throughout the state. The police raid them, but charges of prostitution don't stick because of a [26]-year-old loophole in the law.

The state's law criminalizing prostitution was changed then after a group of female prostitutes sued in federal court with claims that the Providence police were discriminating against women in their arrests.

The law at the time made prostitution a felony. The General Assembly amended the law to the current version of loitering for indecent purposes, a misdemeanor. The law targets the streetwalkers, their pimps, and customers who solicit them from their vehicles. But there is no provision for prostitutes working for escort services and brothels.

Up until [3] 1/2 years ago, the Providence police were charging women for prostitution inside massage parlors. They stopped after Warwick lawyer Michael J. Kiselica persuaded District Court judges to dismiss the cases based on the wording of the current law.

(The bracketed numerals indicate where I've advanced the relative dates by one year, since the above excerpt is now about one year old).

Last year, legislators proposed outlawing prostitution in a straightforward way, while still keeping it as a misdemeanor. The new law would have read...

A person is guilty of prostitution when such person engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. Any person found guilty under this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor...
The above language would have superseded the existing section 11-34-8 of Rhode Island's General Laws, the section judged not to apply to indoor prostitution...
It shall be unlawful for any person to stand or wander in or near any public highway or street, or any public or private place, and attempt to engage passersby in conversation, or stop or attempt to stop motor vehicles, for the purpose of prostitution or other indecent act, or to patronize, induce, or otherwise secure a person to commit any indecent act. Any person found guilty under this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor...
Other sections of existing state law already outlaw pimping and human trafficking in Rhode Island in all circumstances, indoors or out.

The proposed change would not have set Rhode Island onto an uncharted path regarding prostitution law, but simply have brought Rhode Island into line with the 48 other states that make prostitution illegal. Still, progressive lobbyists objected to changing the law arguing, as is their habit, that a law that functions smoothly in 48 other states would create untenable conditions if passed in Rhode Island. Leading the charge, the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU cited two issues. One was the original argument that the law could be used to punish women who might themselves be victims. The second objection was more indirect: enforcing a law against indoor prostitution might create local police contact with illegal immigrants, thus leading local police towards working with Federal authorities...

There is yet another reason to oppose what has happened here and that involves the inappropriate collaboration between the local police and federal immigration agents to address a local community crime issue....

However, if local law enforcement officers become, for all intents and purposes, INS agents in the minds of the immigrant community, any trust that currently exists will be shattered. Victims of crimes, witnesses, and others in tight-knit immigrant communities will refuse to cooperate with police for fear that they, or close friends and family members, could face deportation due to their interaction with police. It is of little solace that the women who were the victims of these raids may have been violating the criminal law. Once the police department believes that it can use federal immigration officials as a shortcut for local criminal law enforcement, the bonds of trust are inevitably weakened.

The ACLU, apparently, opposes communication between different law enforcement authorities. Blinded by their institutional hostility towards law enforcement, the ACLU has reached the erroneous and destructive conclusion that trust can be built between a community and its police officers when police officers are required to stand helpless in the face of the violation of basic, decent community norms (i.e. that prostitution should be illegal). I've been critical of Providence Mayor David Cicilline on other issues, but he's right to pursue this change in the law, even if changing the law involves taking the "drastic" step of allowing different branches of law enforcement to work together.

Finally, to finish up on a mostly inappropriate note in Bill Reynolds-style: There's no truth to the rumor that Senate President Joseph Montalbano will argue that his unreported business with the town of West Warwick did not violate current state law because all of the agreements were made indoors.

August 3, 2006

Senators Chafee and Reed Vote to Fund Southern Border Fencing

Carroll Andrew Morse

Senators Lincoln Chafee and Jack Reed have both reversed their positions from a month ago and voted to appropriate $1,829,100,000 for the Army National Guard for the construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing, and 461 miles of vehicle barriers along the southwest border of the United States. The vote was 94-3 in favor.

Interestingly, Senator Reed voted to fund the fencing despite being one of just 16 Senators to vote against its construction back in May. Could this be a sign that there's some sort of major immigration deal being negotiated in the background?

Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was one of the 3 Senators to vote against funding the fencing, bringing his never-very-promising Presidential aspirations to a final end.

June 19, 2006

Illegal Immigration: What is at stake & where do we go from here?

This morning's publication of an Open Letter about immigration by leading conservatives prompted me to re-read a draft posting I had last edited on May 26. Here is that late-May posting:

Now that we have the Senate and House going into conference with the objective of negotiating a final bill out of two very different bills, it is worth taking a step back and asking ourselves: What are the big issues in this illegal immigration debate? In other words, what policies and values are at stake as those negotiations begin and where should we go from here?

Let me begin with an analogy:

Think back to when you were in elementary school. Remember the occasional kid who would not play by the rules? Now, in most cases, peer pressure corrected their aberrant behavior. But sometimes it did not. And, without the presence of teachers or school aides to adjudicate the situation, a bully could get away with uncivilized behavior and disrupt the peaceful actions of kids who were simply trying to play by the rules.

Now recall how you felt if you or your friends were taken advantage of: The bully was being unfair. Playing fair - by playing by the rules - is a key principle of American life. It is why we don't like cheaters - in school, on the ball field, in business or in politics.

Whether we will play fair with illegal immigration concerns defines the core issue of this debate.

What the American people get - and many of the Washington politicians from both parties do not get - is that we understand this Senate bill is amnesty for lawbreakers. For corporate lawbreakers and for illegal alien lawbreakers. This bill rewards all of them for breaking the law by relieving them of any consequences for their past illegal actions. And it is no less troubling that the structural incentives of the bill will ensure future behaviors are equally reprehensible. All of this is unfair and wrong.

The Senate bill fails to codify a sense of fair play - aka the rule-of-law in legal terms - into public policies that enhance our ability to live together peacefully as a society. It is actually worse than that because it makes future societal conflict more likely.

These initial points also clarify what are NOT the big issues here. This is not about being racist or hating minorities, no matter how hard some amnesty advocates will push that shtick. All you have to do is read the postings on this blogsite, from well before the illegal immigration issue moved front-and-center, to know that many of us who are agitated about illegal immigration come from families that marched with and were outspokenly supportive of the noble cause led by Martin Luther King, Jr. And because this is a rule-of-law issue, it is also not a civil rights issue.

The American people see through all the moral preening by various parties and have cut to the heart of the matter. Under the status quo, they observe:

The government passes laws they have no intention of enforcing and grants benefits to people who have not earned them.

Businesses are willing to break the law in order to get cheap labor and increase their profits.

Unions are looking for easy marks to recruit for membership, thereby increasing their power.

Both political parties are willing to ignore serious and unresolved policy issues so they can maximize their chances of attracting more Hispanics to their respective parties.

Radicals - like many who organized the May 1 rallies - are promoting an anti-American vision of separatist identity politics completely disconnected from the Founding principles of our country.

Mexico is in political disarray, has an economy that does not generate enough jobs, and threatens to sue our country just for protecting our border.

Illegal immigrants (and many of their advocates) are effectively saying "I am here so deal it with it on my terms."

Broadly speaking, there are national security, economic and cultural issues at stake here and none is being addressed with any rigor. The American people understand that a failure to deal effectively with any of the three issues diminishes the quality of our country's life - and could even threaten its existence over time.

There are three specific policy issues at the center of this debate:

American sovereignty: Will we set our own laws about immigration as a country or will we let illegal aliens or foreign countries drive our laws?

Rule of law: Will we enforce fairly the laws on our books, thereby ensuring a consistent - and not corrupt - application of those laws?

Assimilation - Becoming an American citizen is an honor, not a right. We want all citizens to share that sense of honor. So, what does it mean to be an American citizen and how will immigrants be taught American history and the uniqueness of the American experiment in ordered liberty?

So where do we go from here? I would suggest several key points:

We need to transform immigration processes from dishonest to honest practices. The only way we will get to that point is if we first skewer the moral preeners and drive the debate to a focus on both the 3 broad issues (national security, economic, cultural) and the 3 specific policy issues (American sovereignty, rule-of-law, assimilation) mentioned above.

There is a consensus about the need for enforcement, both at the border and with employer compliance. We should begin there and do that right.

There is not a consensus on what to do next and the worst thing we can do is force another law onto the books that either makes no sense or will not be enforced. There is an analogy with the abortion issue. This country became polarized because the Supreme Court acted in a way that pre-empted a national debate from occurring, from allowing a broad consensus to develop. In its current form, this Senate bill is likely to lead to a similar outcome. The issues won't go away; the passions will not diminish. But the debate will be stopped dead in its tracks and that will only polarize the country. There is much to discuss and we should conduct a reasoned debate at the national level about immigration issues - such as how to deal with the existing illegal aliens in our country, guest worker strategies, and so forth. If we did that, a national consensus would emerge. None of us would likely prefer every outcome but the odds are we could find a way to policies that are generally acceptable to most Americans.

My personal hope is that a more limited bill comes out of conference and we can then conduct a thoughtful public debate on how best to do the right thing and keep America strong. We owe nothing less to our children and to the future of America.

Continue reading "Illegal Immigration: What is at stake & where do we go from here?"

June 16, 2006

The Department of Homeland Insecurity and Consular ID Cards

Carroll Andrew Morse

One follow-up item from the immigration discussion from last week: The Washington Times reported this week on a patriotic American who voluntarily red-teamed access procedures at the Department of Homeland Security...

The Department of Homeland Security allowed a man to enter its headquarters last week using a fake Matricula Consular card as identification

Bruce DeCell, a retired New York City police officer, used his phony card -- which lists his place of birth as "Tijuana, B.C." and his address as "123 Fraud Blvd." on an incorrectly spelled "Staton Island, N.Y." -- to enter the building Wednesday for a meeting with DHS officials.

Mr. DeCell said he has had the card for four years and has used it again and again to board airliners and enter government buildings, without being turned down once. But he said he was surprised that DHS, the agency in charge of determining secure IDs, accepted it.

Unfortunately, a change in policy wont fix this problem. According to the Times article, Federal rules already say the Mexican-issued card is not valid ID at government buildings.

I think the lessons here are 1) that widespread acceptance, leading to widespread proliferation, of consular IDs is probably not a good idea and 2) that the lifeless, bureaucratic approach of DHS towards American security is probably not a good idea either.

June 12, 2006

The Pence Immigration Compromise: Yes to Guest Workers, No to Amnesty

Carroll Andrew Morse

The discussion in the previous post about the possibility of separating support for a foreign-citizen guest worker program from support for granting amnesty to current illegal immigrants, vis-a-vis the Rhode Island Senate campaign, turns out to be very timely indeed. (Once again, Anchor Rising -- and its commenters -- bring you the details of our nation's most important policy debates before government decisions become faits-accomplis.

In direct response to the immigration package recently approved by the Senate, Congressman Mike Pence of Inidiana has proposed a compromise, outlined in Sundays OpinionJournal, that says yes to guest workers but no to amnesty...

This bill is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens. It will include a guest worker program -- but it will not include an amnesty (nor require a huge new government bureaucracy to administer the program). I believe this legislation is a strong alternative to the amnesty plan passed by the Senate
To strengthen border security and toughen enforcement of exisiting immigration law, Congressman Pence proposes implementing the enforcement-first immigration bill passed last December by the House of Representatives...
Since immigration reform must begin by securing our border, my plan incorporates the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, already passed by the House, in its entirety, with only minor changes. Thus my plan will add port-of-entry inspectors, end the policy of "catch and release," put to use American technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles, require a security fence to be built across our southern border, and require the Secretary of Homeland Security to certify that all these border security measures are substantially completed before any new guest worker program would begin....

My immigration bill includes strict employer enforcement. It does so by incorporating the employer-enforcement provisions contained in the House-passed Border Protection bill. Thus, there will be established a nationwide electronic employment-verification system through which employers will confirm the legality of each prospective and current employee.

Next, Congressman Pence proposes implementing a guest-worker program, once the border has been secured. In the Congressman's version of a guest worker program, citizens of other countries would meet with potential employers and apply for the appropriate visa while outside of the borders of the US
Private worker-placement agencies -- "Ellis Island Centers" -- would be licensed by the federal government to match guest workers with jobs that employers cannot fill with American workers. These agencies will match guest workers with jobs, perform health screening, fingerprint them, and convey the appropriate information to the FBI and Homeland Security so that a background check can be performed. Once this is done, the guest worker would be provided with a visa issued by the State Department. The whole process will take a matter of one week, or less.

My immigration reform plan does not favor illegal immigrants. Anyone may apply for a guest-worker visa at the new Ellis Island Centers; indeed, the plan may actually work to the advantage of applicants who have never violated our immigration laws, since guest-worker visas will be issued only outside the U.S.

And third, well, technically, there is no third. If the first two parts of his program are implemented, Congressman Pence does not believe it necessary to offer general amnesty towards any current illegal immigrants, nor to place guest workers on an automatic path to citizenship...
After six years, a guest worker must decide whether to return home or seek citizenship. But he will do so under the normal rules and regulations of our naturalization laws. There is no path to citizenship in my bill.
Congressman Pence is very well respected within conservative and Republican circles. The fact that he is promoting a guest-worker program suggests that the concept probably has enough support amongst House Republicans to pass, meaning that the debate betwen the House and the Senate over immigration policy now boils down to two straightforward questions...
  1. Should the US secure its border before proceding with any programs -- be they guest woker programs or an amensty offers -- that change the visa status of current illegal immigrants, or should it procede with those programs whether or not the border is secure?
  2. Should the US offer a "general amesty" to illegal immigrants currently here -- i.e. allow citizens of other countries currently here illegally to immediately participate in guest worker and/or naturalization programs -- or should the US offer instead what is properly called "exit amnesty", allowing foreign nationals illegally within the US today to participate in future legal immigration programs, so long as they voluntarily leave the US first?

May 29, 2006

More Thoughts on the Senate Immigration Bill

The editors at the National Review have written a stellar piece on the Senate immigration bill entitled Temporary Madness:

The Senate isnt serious about enforcing the nations immigration laws. It is bad enough that the bill that 39 Democrats and 23 Republicans just voted to pass provides an amnesty to illegal immigrants already here. There might be an argument for doing that if there were any evidence of a commitment to enforce the immigration laws in the future. But the bill actually prohibits local police from enforcing civil violations of immigration lawswhich in practice, given the byzantine rules distinguishing between civil and criminal violations of those laws, will get local police out of the enforcement business altogether. No serious effort is being made to make the bureaucracy capable of the enforcement tasks that will now be asked of them, such as performing background checks on the illegal population.

The bill forbids the federal government to use any information included in an application for amnesty in national-security or criminal investigations. Any federal agent who does use that information would be fined $10,000which is five times more than an illegal alien would have to pay to get the amnesty. The Senate, on a tie vote, defeated John Cornyns (R., Tex.) attempt to rectify these provisions.
When Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) offered an amendment to require that enforcement be proven to have succeeded before the amnesty or guest-worker provisions could take effect, he was voted down, 55-40. For most senators, enforcement is just boob bait for the voters. They are not willing to demand it before getting what they, for various reasons, really want: an amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) wanted to deny illegal immigrants the earned income tax credit. It is one thing to legalize them, went the argument, and another to subsidize them. He, too, was voted down, with Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) flippantly suggesting that the amendment was akin to requiring illegals to ride in the back of the bus. (No, senator: Theyre in the front of the line, at least for legal residency in the U.S.)

The temporary guest-workers will be eligible for citizenship. If they overstay their welcome, there is no guarantee they will be deportedespecially when Congress will have signaled, by passing this bill, its view that deportation is draconian. So these temporary workers will permanently change America. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that the bill would make for an inflow of 66 million immigrants over the next 20 years. Since much of this inflow would consist of poor and relatively uneducated people, one result would be, he says, the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years. (And hes not accounting for the likely effects of these peoples votes.) Another very likely result would be the increased balkanization of America, as this massive inflow slows both economic and cultural assimilation.

If supporters of the Senate bill were serious about securing the border, they would have considered following a strategy of attritionof stepping up enforcement of the immigration laws so as to shrink the illegal-immigrant population over timeand, if they ultimately rejected that strategy, explained why. Implicit in their arguments for amnesty and a guest-worker program is one possible objection to the attrition strategy: that the American economy needs more cheap, unskilled labor. Proponents of mass immigration boast that immigration brings a net benefit of $10 billion to the American economy. But this amount is, in the context of our $13 trillion economy, trivial. Reduced immigration would lead to some increased outsourcing, some substitution of machines for labor, some increased wages, and some higher prices. The economy would survive.

So will Republicans, if they reject this bill (as most Senate Republicans did). They are being told that they need to pass a bill, even if they dislike many of its provisions, to be seen as doing something about the border. But the voters who care the most about this issue know that the Senate bill does something they heartily detest. They know that the only way to get any enforcement of our immigration lawsat the border or the workplaceis to keep all of the interests that want increased immigration from getting what they want until enforcement is achieved. The Senate should stand down in favor of the Houses enforcement-first approach, not the other way around. But it would be much better to enact no bill than to enact the Senate bill.

Additional readings on illegal immigration include:

Mickey Kaus on I'll Believe the MSM Is Fair When...the Senate gets pressed to cave on immigration., where he notes:

Does the just-passed Senate immigration bill really only require illegal immigrants to pay back taxes for 3 of the past 5 years? It looks that way. I'll take that deal!...

Mary Ann Glendon on Principled Immigration

Mark Steyn on Undocumented Status for All!

Washington Times on 'Amnesty' jams compromise bill

Washington Times on House chief say 'no' to amnesty bill

Washington Times on Mexico aims to maintain easy flow over border

For more readings on the illegal immigration bill, there have been twelve recent postings on Anchor Rising about immigration:

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate

More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration

Why is Congress Discriminating Against Educated Legal Immigrants?

More Links on Immigration Issue

Asleep at the Border

Senate Rejects Securing the Borders while Supporting Increased Presidential Power

Senator Reed Votes For Open Borders

Does The Rule Of Law & A Sense Of Fair Play Matter Anymore? The Debate About In-State Tuitions For Illegal Immigrants

Jennifer Roback Morse: Further Clarifying What is at Stake in the Illegal Immigration Debate

Senator Grassley's Top 10 Flaws in Immigration Bill

Senator Sessions' Senate Floor Speech on Illegal Immigration Bill

The Senate Passes an Illegal Immigration Amnesty Bill, But Lacks The Courage To Call It What It Is

In addition, another series of previous postings contain information about recent events in the public debate about illegal immigration and can be found in Parts I, II, III, IV, V, and VI.

May 26, 2006

The Senate Passes an Illegal Immigration Amnesty Bill, But Lacks The Courage To Call It What It Is

The Senate passed the illegal immigration bill amnesty bill on Thursday, by a vote of 62-36. Michelle Malkin has more.

A newly-visible issue in the bill: Michelle Malkin raises the question of whether the bill requires the United States government to get prior approval from the Mexican government before acting under its rights as a sovereign nation and building a border fence.

Various senators, including Specter and McCain, are protesting vehemently that this bill is not an amnesty bill. Quite a few others disagree, including Ed Meese, former Reagan administration Attorney General on An Amnesty by Any Other Name ...:

In the debate over immigration, "amnesty" has become something of a dirty word. Some opponents of the immigration bill being debated in the Senate assert that it would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Supporters claim it would do no such thing. Instead, they say, it lays out a road map by which illegal aliens can earn citizenship.

Perhaps I can shed some light. Two decades ago, while serving as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, I was in the thick of things as Congress debated the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The situation today bears uncanny similarities to what we went through then.

In the mid-80's, many members of Congress pushed by the Democratic majority in the House and the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy advocated amnesty for long-settled illegal immigrants. President Reagan considered it reasonable to adjust the status of what was then a relatively small population, and I supported his decision.

In exchange for allowing aliens to stay, he decided, border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened in particular, through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants, then cutting off that option was crucial.

Beyond this, most illegal immigrants who could establish that they had resided in America continuously for five years would be granted temporary resident status, which could be upgraded to permanent residency after 18 months and, after another five years, to citizenship.

Note that this path to citizenship was not automatic. Indeed, the legislation stipulated several conditions: immigrants had to pay application fees, learn to speak English, understand American civics, pass a medical exam and register for military selective service. Those with convictions for a felony or three misdemeanors were ineligible. Sound familiar? These are pretty much the same provisions included in the new Senate proposal and cited by its supporters as proof that they have eschewed amnesty in favor of earned citizenship.

The difference is that President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term "amnesty" in Black's Law Dictionary, and you'll find it says, "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country."

Like the amnesty bill of 1986, the current Senate proposal would place those who have resided illegally in the United States on a path to citizenship, provided they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes. The illegal immigrant does not go to the back of the line but gets immediate legalized status, while law-abiding applicants wait in their home countries for years to even get here. And that's the line that counts. In the end, slight differences in process do not change the overriding fact that the 1986 law and today's bill are both amnesties.

There is a practical problem as well: the 1986 act did not solve our illegal immigration problem. From the start, there was widespread document fraud by applicants. Unsurprisingly, the number of people applying for amnesty far exceeded projections. And there proved to be a failure of political will in enforcing new laws against employers.

After a six-month slowdown that followed passage of the legislation, illegal immigration returned to normal levels and continued unabated. Ultimately, some 2.7 million people were granted amnesty, and many who were not stayed anyway, forming the nucleus of today's unauthorized population.

So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents.

Will history repeat itself? I hope not. In the post-9/11 world, secure borders are vital. We have new tools like biometric technology for identification, and cameras, sensors and satellites to monitor the border that make enforcement and verification less onerous. And we can learn from the failed policies of the past.

President Bush and Congress would do better to start with securing the border and strengthening enforcement of existing immigration laws. We might also try improving on Ronald Reagan's idea of a pilot program for genuinely temporary workers.

The fair and sound policy is to give those who are here illegally the opportunity to correct their status by returning to their country of origin and getting in line with everyone else. This, along with serious enforcement and control of the illegal inflow at the border a combination of incentives and disincentives will significantly reduce over time our population of illegal immigrants.

America welcomes more immigrants than any other country. But in keeping open that door of opportunity, we also must uphold the rule of law and enhance a fair immigration process, as Ronald Reagan said, to "humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people: American citizenship."

For more information:

John Hawkins on An Illegal Immigration Related Teleconference With Ed Meese
Wizbang on Ed Meese Knows It's Amnesty, which links to an important piece by Helen Krieble on Private Employers & Border Control
Mary Katherine Ham on Ed Meese conference call

Thomas Sowell hits the nail on the head in three separate editorials:

Bordering on Fraud
Bordering on Fraud: Part II
Bordering on Fraud: Part III

Several more Heritage Foundation studies:

Tim Kane on Immigration Reform or Central Planning?
Ed Meese and Matthew Spalding on Permanent Principles and Temporary Workers

Robert Rector, also from the Heritage Foundation and arguably the most visible policy analyst on illegal immigration, shares some more of his thoughts:

Robert Rector on The Wrong Course: The Senates proposed amnesty will cost a fortune

John O'Sullivan summarizes the various amendments proposed to the illegal immigration bill in recent days.

A leading senator and a leading congressman also weigh in:

Rick Santorum on What Not to Legislate: How not to fix our immigration laws
J. D. Hayworth on Call It What It Is: The presidents plan is an illegal-immigrant amnesty

Additional news from:

Charlie Hurt of Washington Times on 'Path to citizenship' faces House foes:

Liberal House Republicans are taking an increasingly tough stance on immigration reform and are more determined than ever to delete the portions of the Senate bill that grant citizenship rights to more than 10 million illegal aliens...

Michelle Malkin on Booing John McCain (but so what else is new?)
Power Line on What the Base Thinks

For more readings on the illegal immigration bill, there have been eleven recent postings on Anchor Rising about immigration:

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate
More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration
Why is Congress Discriminating Against Educated Legal Immigrants?
More Links on Immigration Issue
Asleep at the Border
Senate Rejects Securing the Borders while Supporting Increased Presidential Power
Senator Reed Votes For Open Borders
Does The Rule Of Law & A Sense Of Fair Play Matter Anymore? The Debate About In-State Tuitions For Illegal Immigrants
Jennifer Roback Morse: Further Clarifying What is at Stake in the Illegal Immigration Debate
Senator Grassley's Top 10 Flaws in Immigration Bill
Senator Sessions' Senate Floor Speech on Illegal Immigration Bill

In addition, another series of previous postings contain information about recent events in the public debate about illegal immigration and can be found in Parts I, II, III, IV, V, and VI.

May 25, 2006

Senator Sessions' Senate Floor Speech on Illegal Immigration Bill

Many of us have explicit reasons and some intuitive worries about the illegal immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate. Here is the second of two postings which will attempt to characterize the flaws in the bill - from a person who has actually read the 600+ page bill.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) gave this speech on the Senate floor. It is offered in its entirety because you need to see all the words to get the full impact:

Mr. President, I am going to take some time tonight to inform my colleagues about some of the problems with the legislation before us. It is worse than you think, colleagues. The legislation has an incredible number of problems with it. Some, as I will point out tonight, can only be considered deliberate. Whereas on the one hand it has nice words with good sounding phrases in it to do good things, on the second hand it completely eviscerates that, oftentimes in a way that only the most careful reading by a good lawyer would discover. So I feel like I have to fulfill my duty. I was on the Judiciary Committee. We went into this. We tried to monitor it and study it and actually read this 614-page bill, and I have a responsibility and I am going to fulfill my responsibility.

I think the things I am saying tonight ought to disturb people. They ought to be unhappy about it. It ought to make them consider whether they want to vote for this piece of legislation that, in my opinion, should never, ever become law.

I would also just point out I will be offering tomorrow, or soon, an amendment to deal with the earned-income tax credit situation that is raised by this legislation, focusing on the amnesty in the bill and what will happen after amnesty is granted, before they become a full citizen. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the earned-income tax credit will pay out to those who came into our country illegally $29 billion over 10 years. The earned-income tax credit has been on the books for some time. It is a good bit larger than most people think. The average recipient of it receives $1,700. Lowerincome people get a larger amount. Over half the people who we expect will receive amnesty are without a high school degree. They are receiving lower wages. They will be the ones who will particularly qualify for this. This is a score that has been given to us by the group that is supposed to score it--$29 billion will be paid out.

If they go all the way and become a citizen they will be entitled to this like any other citizen, and they will be entitled to get it under my amendment. But I do not believe we should award people who have entered our country illegally, submitted a false Social Security number, worked illegally--I do not believe we should reward them with $29 billion of the taxpayers' money. That is a lot of money.

I will also be offering a budget point of order, I or one of my colleagues will, in the next day or so. We have been working on that. We asked for a report. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the budget point of order lies in the first 10 years of this bill. It also concludes that it lies under the long-term provisions of the budget points of order for expenditures in the outyears. They didn't give us those numbers, but they said, without much work--they didn't have to do much work--the numbers are going to be much worse in the outyears. It clearly would be a detriment to the Government and these figures would exceed the budget, and a budget point of order would lie.

At the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Robert Rector, who is the expert who dealt with welfare, studied this. He was the architect of welfare reform who has done so much to improve America's welfare system and improve incomes for low-income families. It really worked beautifully. He was the architect of it. He says this bill represents the greatest increase in welfare in 35 years. With the provisions and benefits that will be in it, he estimates that year 10 through year 20, the cost could be $50 to $60 billion a year to the taxpayers because it takes some time for the people who are adjusting and becoming citizens and/or legal permanent residents to really begin to make the claims.

CBO admits the numbers are going to surge in the outyears. He says it is $50 billion a year. If that is so--and he is not exaggerating the numbers, because that is based solely on the amnesty provisions, not the provisions that will allow 3 times to 4 times as many people to come into the country legally in the next 20 years as come in today, and many of them will go on welfare because that whole system is not based on identifying people with skills and educational levels that would indicate they would be more than low-wage workers--so it could really be more than that. But $50 billion a year over 10 years is $500 billion. That is a half a trillion dollars, and that is why Mr. Rector said this legislation is a fiscal catastrophe. This is a man whose opinions and ideas and research this Congress, and particularly the Republicans, utilized to hammer away, time and time again, year after year, to get welfare reform.

It finally happened. It worked just like he said. The predictions of disaster made against his recommendations proved to be false.

He is saying that about this. So this is not a technical point of order. It represents an attempt to save the fiscal soundness of the budget of the United States.

I want to take some moments here to deal with some problems with the legislation. The American people are suspicious of us. They were promised in 1986, after years of urging the Government, the President and the Congress, promised to fix our borders and end illegal immigration. In exchange for that they acquiesced and went along with amnesty in 1986. They said there were a million, 2 million here who would claim it. It turned out 3 million claimed amnesty after 1986. That ought to give us some pause about the projections that we would have. We have 11 million people here now and only 8 or so will seek amnesty under it. That ought to give us some pause there. It may well be above the number.

So the American people are suspicious and they are dubious and they are watching us carefully, and they should. Let me tell you some of the things that are in the legislation that indicate a lack of respect for the American people, really. Some of these are some of the reasons I said the other day the Senate should be ashamed of itself, the way we are moving this bill.

My staff, working up some of these comments, came up with a title--maybe at my suggestion--"Sneaky Lawyer Tricks'' that are in the bill. I will let you decide if that is a fair description of what is in it. I will go down through some of the matters that are important. There are others I could complain about for which we will not have time.

Continue reading "Senator Sessions' Senate Floor Speech on Illegal Immigration Bill"

Senator Grassley's Top 10 Flaws in Immigration Bill

Many of us have explicit reasons and some intuitive worries about the illegal immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate. Here is the first of several postings which will attempt to characterize the flaws in the bill - from people who should know.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has issued a press release in which he spells out his Top 10 Flaws with the Illegal Immigration Bill:

Sen. Chuck Grassley today said the immigration reform bill being debated in the U.S. Senate is riddled with loopholes and flaws. During a speech on the Senate floor, he outlined for the American people nearly 30 flaws within only two sections of the bill.

"I was burned once in 1986 when I voted for amnesty believing that it would solve our problems. Now, we have a 12 million illegal immigrant problem. I'm not getting burned again," Grassley said. "Not only do we have a glide path to citizenship, but it's a glide path with plenty of loopholes that dont meet the common sense test."...

Here is a list of Grassleys "Top 10."

1. $2,000 Fine -- Under the bill, an illegal alien can go from illegal to legal by paying a small fine of $2,000. Often, illegal aliens will pay more than five times this amount to a smuggler to get across the border. Also, the $2000 fine may not have to be paid until year eight, which allows the illegal alien to live, work, and play in the United States for years free from deportation. This imposes a financial burden on the American taxpayer for health, education, and infrastructure costs that arent reimbursed for five or ten years.

2. Taxes -- Under the bill, illegal aliens get an option to only have to pay three of their last five years in back taxes. Law-abiding American citizens do not have the option to pay some of their taxes. The bill would treat lawbreakers better than the American people. The bill also makes the IRS prove that illegal aliens have paid their back taxes. It will be impossible for the IRS to truly enforce this because they cannot audit every single person in this country.

3. Security Clearances in 90 days Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security must perform background checks on illegal aliens in the United States. It also encourages the federal government to complete the background checks on 10 million illegal aliens in 90 days. This is a national security concern because Homeland Security will be pressured to complete these checks without doing a thorough job.

4. Work Requirements Under the bill, illegal aliens must prove theyve worked in the United States for three of the last five years. It also says they have to work for six years after the date of enactment of the bill. However, there is no continuous work requirement for amnesty. They could work for 30 days, take off 30 days, work for 30 days. The bill also says that illegal aliens have to prove that theyve worked in the United States for three of the last five years by showing IRS or Social Security records, or records maintained by federal, state, or local governments, employers, unions or day labor centers. However, the bill also allows illegal aliens to ask anybody to attest that they have been employed. This invites fraud, and the government cannot realistically investigate all these cases.

5. Confidentiality Under the bill, if an illegal alien applies for amnesty, the federal government cannot use information provided in the application for anything but adjudicating the petition. For example, if illegal aliens write in their applications that they are related to Osama Bin Laden, then our government cannot use that information. In fact, it says that the Secretary of Homeland Security can only share that information if someone requests it in writing. This provision severely handicaps national security and criminal investigators.

Also, if a federal agent does use information provided by an illegal alien in an application for amnesty the agent would be fined $10,000. This is five times more than the alien has to pay to get amnesty.

6. Social Security to illegal aliens -- Under the bill, illegal aliens are not prohibited from getting credit for the money theyve put into the Social Security system if theyve worked in the U.S. illegally. Illegal immigrants who paid Social Security taxes using a stolen Social Security Number did not do so with the expectation that they would ever qualify for Social Security benefits. (The Ensign amendment would have taken care of this, but it did not pass.)

7. Employers get a tax pardon for hiring illegal aliens -- Under the bill, employers of aliens applying for adjustment of status shall not be subject to civil and criminal tax liability relating directly to the employment of such alien. Businesses that hired illegal workers would now get off scott-free from paying the taxes that they owe the government. This encourages employers to violate our tax laws and not pay what they owe the federal government. In addition to not having to pay their taxes, employers are also off the hook for providing illegal aliens with records or evidence that they have worked in the U.S. The employer is not subject to civil and criminal liability for having employed illegal aliens in the past, or before enactment.

8. Family Members of H-2C Visa Holder need not be healthy -- Under the bill, spouses and children of H-2C visa holders are exempt from a requirement proving that they meet certain health standards. The visa holder is required to undergo a medical exam, but their family members are not which potentially puts Americans at risk.

9. Mandatory Departure isnt really Mandatory -- Under the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security may grant Deferred Mandatory Departure to illegal aliens in the 2-5 year category. The Secretary may also waive the departure requirement if it would create substantial hardship for the alien to leave.

10. No Interview Required. Under the bill, illegal aliens in the 2nd tier who are required to leave the country can re-enter the United States on a visa. However, the bill does not require these individuals do not have to be interviewed. The bill doesnt give discretion to our consular offices to require an interview. The 9/11 hijackers werent subject to appear in person. Today, the State Department requires most applicants to submit to interviews, and waives them only for children and the elderly.

Why are we doing this to ourselves?

May 23, 2006

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part VI

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is a sixth posting which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.

There are more than a few problems with the Senate's Hagel-Martinez illegal immigration bill.

First, the bill in the Senate is an amnesty bill in more ways than one: Not only are we offering amnesty to illegal immigrant lawbreakers but we are offering amnesty to corporate lawbreakers:

Senate bill protects employers of illegal aliens from penalties from Washington Times:

Among those who will be cleared of past crimes under the Senate's proposed immigration-reform bill would be the businesses that have employed the estimated 10 million illegal aliens eligible for citizenship and that provided the very "magnet" that drew them here in the first place.

Buried in the more than 600 pages of legislation is a section titled "Employer Protections," which states: "Employers of aliens applying for adjustment of status under this section shall not be subject to civil and criminal tax liability relating directly to the employment of such alien."

Supporters of the legislation insist that such provisions do not amount to "amnesty."

"The legislation we are considering today is not amnesty," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said last week. "That is a pejorative term, really a smear term used to denigrate the efforts at comprehensive immigration reform. This is not amnesty because amnesty means a pardon of those who have broken the law."

Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, and others argue that the bill is not amnesty for illegal aliens because they will have to pay $2,000 in fines before they gain citizenship.

The law does not, however, provide for such fines against employers who have broken the law by hiring the illegals.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, vehemently opposes "this effort to waive the rules for lawbreakers and to legalize the unlawful actions of undocumented workers and the businesses that illegally employ them."

Amnesties, he said, "are the dark underbelly of our immigration process."

"They tarnish the magnanimous promise enshrined on the base of the Statue of Liberty," Mr. Byrd said last week on the Senate floor. "Amnesties undermine that great egalitarian and American principle that the law should apply equally and should apply fairly to everyone."

While most of the focus thus far has been on the "amnesty" granted to illegal aliens, opponents only now are discovering the broad range of crimes that will be forgiven under the legislation.

Lawyers for the Senate Judiciary Committee have scoured the bill and come up with a list of 31 crimes relating to illegal immigration that would be wiped clean.

Under current law, simply entering the country illegally can result in a six-month prison stay and a $250,000 fine. Aiding in that crime carries a similar fine and a five-year prison sentence. Once ordered deported, an illegal racks up $500 per day of continued "illegal presence."

In addition, there are the perjury and false statements associated with fraudulently filling out federal tax forms. Each instance carries up to a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. Then there is the wide array of crimes relating to forging false documents needed to obtain work. Punishments for those crimes range from civil fines to 25 years in prison.

Also, there are crimes relating to the misuse of Social Security numbers needed to obtain work. Those crimes can result in five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Businesses that have committed any alien-hiring crimes would be forgiven under the provisions of the bill, although the laws would remain on the books and, thus, future violations could be prosecuted.

In addition to absolving illegals for past misuse of Social Security numbers and documentation, the Senate last week voted to allow aliens to get Social Security benefits based on working in the United States illegally...

What a day in America, when conservatives find themselves agreeing with the porkmeister Senator Byrd!

On a more serious note, think about the implications of this crazy course we are going down: I am sure the content of this bill makes a number of law-abiding U.S. citizens wonder why they cannot get an amnesty from the Senate should they choose to consciously violate American laws in the future, like these illegal immigrants and corporations have done. After all, if the rule of law is to be selectively applied and people who violate laws can have penalties on their crimes waived retroactively, doesn't that create an impulse where others will want our country to become consistently arbitrary in its application of its laws? The consequences of this are non-trivial, as noted here and here.

Second, the agency responsible for processing over 10 million illegal immigrants is not prepared:

Immigration bill's timeline hit from Washington Times:

The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that would administer a new guest-worker program and rule on applications from millions of illegal aliens, says the pending Senate bill doesn't give his agency enough time to prepare for that giant task.

"Quite frankly, I don't think that's really practical. Ninety days to register 12 million people. Do the math," Emilio T. Gonzalez, who took over as director early this year, told The Washington Times...

If Congress passes an immigration bill that includes a temporary-worker program, a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, or both, USCIS will be the agency that has to administer it.

Under the pending Senate bill, and under President Bush's new vision, illegal aliens would be divided into long-time and short-time residents, with most of the long-time residents being conferred an eventual right of citizenship. But given the prevalence of fraudulent documents, the problem will be determining who is a long-time resident...

USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security and is one of the three agencies that used to make up the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The other two -- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- are law-enforcement agencies...

But Mr. Gonzalez says he is making it clear to his employees that they are part of national security, too -- and the last line of defense in preventing terrorists from gaining a permanent legal foothold in the country...

But he said his agency definitely will need time to write regulations and handle the flood of applicants, which could top 10 million. He said he would need at least two to three times as much time as the Senate has called for in its bill...

Otherwise, he said, they risk a repeat of 1986.

"We're litigating cases today from 1986. And I think the reason we're doing that -- I'm not a lawyer, by the way -- is, if you don't take care of the details, that's what's going to bring you down," he said...

Third, we are releasing illegal immigrants after their apprehension without knowing if they are associated with any potential terrorism risk factors:

Illegals released for lack of funding from the Washington Times:

More than one-third of the illegal aliens apprehended each year and found to be "removable" from the United States are released because of a lack of personnel, a shortage of beds and inadequate funding to hold them while determining their legal status, a report says.

The inability of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure their departure -- including those who pose national-security or public-safety threats -- exposes the country to "significant risks" from would-be terrorists and criminals, said a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General.

The report, released Thursday, said that of 774,112 illegal aliens apprehended during the past three years and ruled to be "removable," 280,987 -- or 36 percent -- were released because of a lack of personnel, bed space and funding.

"This presents significant risks due to the inability of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE to verify the identity, country-of-origin, and terrorist or criminal affiliation of many of the aliens being released," the report said.

The report said that although apprehensions have climbed by 19 percent since 2002, authorized personnel and funded bed-space levels have dropped by 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively. It said those "shortfalls encourage illegal immigration by increasing the likelihood that apprehended aliens will be released while their immigration status is adjudicated."

A removable alien is one who has been found to have violated immigration law, pending an appeal, or committed a crime or poses a security risk...

Meanwhile, Senator Feinstein wants to expand the pool of illegal immigrants eligible for citizenship. The same article notes that "Last night in the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist filed a "cloture motion" to ensure a final vote on the immigration reform legislation before the end of this week. The Senate yesterday also rejected a proposal by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, aimed at removing an incentive for farmers to hire illegal aliens. The amendment would have equalized the wages paid to immigrants working on farms."

And, it is not a surprise that "Since March, the average weekly number of driver's license applications by immigrants and illegal aliens has nearly doubled in Maryland, where legal residency is not required of applicants."

And why do we think this Senate bill will improve the failed status quo?

The Heritage Foundation has been quite active in the illegal immigration public policy debate; some of their major research papers are listed below:

Robert Rector on Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 Million New Legal Immigrants over the Next Twenty Years
Robert Rector on Amnesty and Continued Low Skill Immigration Will Substantially Raise Welfare Costs and Poverty
Matthew Spalding on Making Citizens: The Case for Patriotic Assimilation
Tim Kane and Kirk Johnson on The Real Problem with Immigration... and the Real Solution
Kirk Johnson on The Senate Compromise on Immigration: A Path to Amnesty for Up to 10 Million
Kris Kobach on Courting Chaos: Senate Proposal Undermines Immigration Law
Kirk Johnson on The SAFE Visa: A Good Starting Point for a Truly Temporary Guest Worker Proposal
James Jay Carafano on Senate Immigration Plan Fails to Deliver Comprehensive Border Security
James Jay Carafano on Immigration Enforcement and Workplace Verification: Sensible Proposals for Congress

Another thoughtful policy piece is Newt Gingrich on Ending the Dishonesty: The Way Forward on Border Control and Patriotic Immigration.

Other recent commentaries include:

Mickey Kaus
Stanley Kurtz
Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics
John Pohoretz
John Derbyshire
Michelle Malkin
Power Line
Power Line
Power Line

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I, II, III, IV and V.

May 19, 2006

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part V

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the fifth of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


The Wall Street Journal, which has supported a different view than many conservatives on illegal immigration, offered an editorial entitled Reagan on Immigration (available for a fee), which noted:

One myth currently popular on the political right is that the immigration debate pits populist conservatives in the Ronald Reagan mold against Big Business "elites" who've hijacked the Republican Party. It's closer to the truth to say that what's really being hijacked here is the Gipper's reputation.

One of the Reagan Presidency's symbolic highlights was the July 3, 1986, celebration of a refurbished Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the gateway for immigrants a century ago...To Reagan, the conservative optimist, immigration was a vital part of his vision of this country as "a shining city upon a Hill," in the John Winthrop phrase he quoted so often. It was proof that America remained a land of opportunity, a nation built on the idea of liberty rather than on the "blood and soil" conservatism of Old Europe...

In 1980, according to the book "Reagan: His Life in Letters" (page 511), the then-Presidential candidate wrote to one supporter that "I believe we must resolve the problem at our southern border with full regard to the problems and needs of Mexico. I have suggested legalizing the entry of Mexican labor into this country on much the same basis you proposed, although I have not put it into the sense of restoring the bracero program." The bracero program was a guest-worker program similar to the one now being proposed by President Bush. It was killed in the mid-1960s, largely due to opposition from unions...

"Some months before I declared, I asked for a meeting and crossed the border to meet with the president of Mexico. I did not go with a plan. I went, as I said in my announcement address, to ask him his ideas -- how we could make the border something other than a locale for a nine-foot fence." So much for those conservatives who think the Gipper would have endorsed a 2,000-mile Tom Tancredo-Pat Buchanan wall...

It's true that in November 1986 Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which included more money for border police and employer sanctions. The Gipper was a practical politician who bowed that year to one of the periodic anti-immigration uprisings from the GOP's nativist wing. But even as he signed that bill, he also insisted on a provision for legalizing immigrants already in the U.S. -- that is, he supported "amnesty."...


Former Reagan speechwriter, Peter Robinson, writes this:

You offer a perfectly sensible explanation, Mark, and, no, I dont have any other ideas. But Bushs motives are on my mind, in part because of an editorial in the Wall Street Journal the other day. Reagan, the Journal, argued, was a cheerful, inclusive figure. He would therefore have stood about where Bush stands, welcoming the new immigrants to this country.

Im not at all sure. Reagan was indeed cheerful and inclusive. But he was also in touch with the American people. He shaped his conservative ideas during the years he worked for General Electricyears when he traveled from factory to factory, speaking to tens of thousands of ordinary Americans. And as president he wrote most of the eight thousand or so letters he composed to simple citizens, not to Cabinet officals or grandees, explaining his viewsand, now and again, adjusting them. Reagan would therefore have known just how strongly the American people feel about the need to control our borders. Reagan would indeed have taken care to avoid insulting immigrants, legal or illegal. But he'd have stood with the great body of ordinary Americans...


Of course, today's Mexican leadership is taking a different stance from those past years, as shown in this article, which stated:

Mexico said Tuesday that it would file lawsuits in U.S. courts if National Guard troops on the border become directly involved in detaining migrants... President Bush announced Monday that he would send 6,000 National Guard troops to the 2,000-mile border, but they would provide intelligence and surveillance support to Border Patrol agents, not catch and detain illegal immigrants.

"If there is a real wave of rights abuses, if we see the National Guard starting to directly participate in detaining people ... we would immediately start filing lawsuits through our consulates," Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez told a Mexico City radio station...

And there are reports of political instability in Mexico, too.

With H/T to Instapundit, here is another story on Mexican politics where the leftist candidate is saying illegal immigration is Mexico's disgrace:

Illegal immigration to the United States is "Mexico's disgrace," caused by the government's failure to create enough jobs, the country's leftist presidential candidate said on Tuesday.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who trails conservative Felipe Calderon in polls ahead of July 2 elections, accused President Vicente Fox's administration of causing the flight of millions of Mexicans to the north, which prompted President Bush to order National Guard troops to the border.

"They are the ones mostly responsible for what is going on because there is no employment, there are no jobs in Mexico so people need to emigrate," Lopez Obrador said on his morning television show."

He said Bush's plan, announced on Monday night, to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to help secure the Mexican border would not end the flow of illegal aliens.

"It is not the solution. It is not an alternative but it is a disgrace for us Mexicans because of the irresponsible rulers of this country," the leftist said...

Lopez Obrador's comments echoed those of some U.S. critics who say Mexico should do more to keep its people at home...


Glenn notes:

...If Mexico were to reduce corruption and cronyism, and promote openness and the rule of law, its economy would grow and the flood of immigrants to the United States would shrink to a trickle. Unfortunately, the Mexican "right" is wedded to state power, and it seems unlikely that a Mexican leftist regime would enact those sorts of decentralizing economic reforms. That's too bad, as a Chilean-style economy would solve a lot of problems on both sides of the border.


Michelle Malkin continues to follow the issue closely:

Same Old, Same Old (updated)

A Crime Americans Didn't Do tells a terribly sad story.

"Call It A Banana", which notes a "debate" between Senators McCain and Hagel on one side and Senator Vitter on an opposing side.

100,000 = 400, which notes:

Illegal alien activists secured a protest permit in Washington, D.C., for their ballyhooed May 17 Amnesty Rally yesterday. They expected 100,000 people to come.

Only 400 showed up...

LA Times: Open-Border Hacks, which notes:

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece of open-borders propaganda masquerading as journalism, which featured a Riverside, Calif., landscaper named Cyndi Smallwood who claims she can't find workers to dig ditches even at $34 an hour.

The claim seems preposterous, but the Times assures us that Smallwood has no ideological ax to grind. She is "ambivalent on immigration reform," the Times reports. Just an ordinary landscaper, you know.

But it turns out there's a tiny bit more to the story that the LA Times isn't telling you. Reader Christopher L. wrote this morning to point out that a simple Google search shows that Cyndi Smallwood is president of the Orange County chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association, and is a member of the association's "Immigration Task Force." The activist group opposes the "Punitive Immigration Reform Bill Proposed by Rep. Sensenbrenner."

Be sure to check out Malkin's Immigration Blog.


The Washington Times explains how Americans don't like the sound of 'amnesty':

President Bush's oft-stated claim that providing illegal aliens a "path to citizenship," such as by allowing them to pay a fine or prove long-term employment, isn't amnesty rings hollow for critics who see it as rewarding lawbreakers.

Political observers say disagreement over the very meaning of the word "amnesty" is fueling what was an already raging debate over pending immigration legislation.

The word "amnesty" carries a certain "radioactivity," says pollster John Zogby.

"Why? Simply because Americans favor playing by the rules," he said. "Anything that sounds illegal, unfair, it's tantamount to using steroids to hit home runs or to win a marathon. When the word amnesty comes up it means condoning actions of people who are not playing by the same rules."

Most dictionaries define amnesty as a pardon granted by government to someone who has committed a political offense or broken a law.

The president has repeatedly asserted that illegal aliens should not be given amnesty, "an automatic pass." But Mr. Bush has suggested some form of quid pro quo for productive illegals now in the United States.

"There ought to be a way for somebody to pay a fine or learn English, or you know, prove that they've been here for a long time working and be able to get in line, not the head of the line, but in the back of the line in order to become a citizen," Mr. Bush said Tuesday.

Opponents disagree, saying what the president has described is equal to simply overlooking the offense of entering the U.S. illegally. The fear, according to some, is that such a move would result in a repeat of 1986 when President Reagan approved the last amnesty, which allowed 2 million illegals to become residents.

"It worked so badly that we can't even use the word anymore," said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He said many more people claimed the right than expected.

As part of a quid pro quo, the 1986 law provided amnesty and carried new penalties for employers found to have hired illegals. The problem, according to Mr. Rector, is that "the second part of the thing never happened."

"Conservatives supported it in '86 because they felt they were going to get a secure border in exchange for amnesty," he said. "It's exactly the same type of fraudulent deal that we're being offered now."...


There have been nine recent postings on Anchor Rising about immigration:

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate

More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration

Why is Congress Discriminating Against Educated Legal Immigrants?

More Links on Immigration Issue

Asleep at the Border

Senate Rejects Securing the Borders while Supporting Increased Presidential Power

Senator Reed Votes For Open Borders

Does The Rule Of Law & A Sense Of Fair Play Matter Anymore? The Debate About In-State Tuitions For Illegal Immigrants

Jennifer Roback Morse: Further Clarifying What is at Stake in the Illegal Immigration Debate

Part VI to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I, II, III, and IV.

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part IV

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the fourth of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


Here is some information on the major activities in the U.S. Senate during the last week.

Senator Sessions Bill

Power Line reports on Senator Session's bill to build a fence on the border and identifies the 16 Democrats who voted against it. The full vote count is here.

The Washington Times has more.

Deborah Orin of the NY Post (H/T Power Line) adds these comments:

When the Senate voted by a stunning 83-16 in favor of a reinforced fence along the Mexico border yesterday, it showed that lawmakers are feeling get-tough winds blowing from the grass roots. Even 2008 presidential prospects like Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for the 370-mile fence, and several Democrats who first voted no switched nervously to yes.

"Voters are very clear that they want the situation at the border addressed first," said independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, who's found huge enforcement-first majorities in 33 states he polled.

"The real debate isn't about what to do with the illegal aliens who are already here," Rasmussen said. "It's about what to do to keep more from coming here."

In The Price of a Fence, Michelle Malkin notes:

...The Senate voted to build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday and clashed over citizenship for millions of men and women who live in the United States illegally.

Amid increasingly emotional debate over election-year immigration legislation, senators voted 83-16 to add fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border. It marked the first significant victory in two days for conservatives seeking to place their stamp on the contentious measure.

But if the price of the fence is this...

The prospects were less favorable for their attempt to strip out portions of the legislation that could allow citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and create new guest worker programs.

...is it worth it? And given past history and yesterday's vote against enforcement first, you already know which provision--the amnesty, not the fence--is the Senate's top priority and which will be in place first.

Senator Vitter's Bill

In a separate bill, Breitbart reports: "[Senator] Vitter led the drive to strip from the bill a provision giving an eventual chance at citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country more than two years. His attempt failed, 66-33, at the hands of a bipartisan coalition, and the provision survived. In all, 41 Democrats joined with 24 Republicans and one independent to turn back the proposal. Opponents included the leaders of both parties, Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev. Thirty-one Republicans and two Democrats supported Vitter's amendment."

Vote count is here.

Senator Cornyn Bill

Kathryn Jean Lopez has information on the Cornyn bill, which had this objective:

As currently written, the immigration bill pending before the Senate would allow unskilled temporary workers 200,000 a year to obtain permanent green cards regardless of whether U.S. workers are available to fill the jobs. The Cornyn amendment would fix that flaw in the pending bill.

[After an employer searches for an American citizen to fill the job,] [t]he Cornyn amendment would require [the company to apply to] the Department of Labor to certify that there is not a U.S. worker who is able, willing, qualified and available to fill the job that is [subsequently] offered to the foreign worker.

As a Washington Times article stated: "The purpose of the bill is to ensure the job market isn't flooded with foreign workers. Also, it prevents foreign workers from coming to the United States only to wind up unemployed and dependent on public assistance."

The vote count can be found here.

Senator Kennedy Bill

However, a subsequent Kennedy bill effectively gutted the Cornyn bill by allowing foreign workers to apply for permanent residency without first having a job, i.e., the foreign workers can apply for guest worker status on their own, even without having a job.

Senator Cornyn was quoted in the same Washington Times article as saying: "What that means is that up to 200,000 unskilled workers a year would become eligible for a green card, regardless of economic conditions, regardless of whether that worker has been actually employed for four years, and most importantly, regardless of whether there are unemployed U.S. workers available to fill those jobs."

Vote count is here.

Senator Isakson's Bill

Later, Malkin reports that The Senate Rejects Enforcement 1st, which notes:

The Senate defeated, 55 to 40, a proposal by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, that lawmakers demand that border-security measures be in place before beginning a guest-worker program of the kind envisioned by President Bush.

The 55 senators rejected Mr. Isakson's argument that, if the Congress did not act now, it would have to a decade or so from now, and that "instead of 10 million or 12 million, it will be 24 million" illegal immigrants at issue.

The posting lists who voted for open borders. The vote count is here. The Washington Times has more.

Senator Ensign's Bill

Michelle Malkin also reports that the Senate has killed Senator Ensign's amendment. The Washington Times has more, including these words:

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

"There was a felony they were committing, and now they can't be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me," said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill. "It just boggles the mind how people could be against this amendment."...

"It makes no sense to reward millions of illegal immigrants for criminal behavior while our Social Security system is already in crisis," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "Why in the world would we endorse this criminal activity with federal benefits? The Senate missed a big opportunity to improve this bill, and I doubt American seniors will be pleased with the result."...

Here is one blogger's description of the bill:

Should ILLEGAL immigrants, once made legal by the McCain legislation, be entitled to receive the Social Security benefits they have paid into the system while ILLEGALLY using FRAUDULENT Social Security numbers STOLEN from actual, legal citizens of the United States of America.

The fact that this is even up for debate is just beyond insane. Everyone knows we will never have enough Social Security funds to serve, you know, actual citizens.

Every single one of those senators knows that, and they're debating whether we should extend such non-existent, unsustainable, budget-busting, generation-saddling benefits to millions of people who fraudulently entered the system by stealing the identities (and sometimes ruining the credit) of legal Americans?!?

Sen. Ensign, God bless him, offered an amendment suggesting illegals should not be eligible for Social Security benefits accrued while illegal.

Power Line has more. Vote count is here.

Senator Inhofe's Bill

The Senate has passed the Inhofe Amendment whose statement of purpose is to "declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens."

This amendment also makes English the default language for government communication and redesigns the naturalization exam. The newly designed naturalization exam would require the following citizenship test goals:
Demonstrating sufficient understanding of English for usage in everyday life; Understanding of common values; Understanding American history; Attachment to the Constitution Understanding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Power Line has more here. The vote count is here.

Senator Salazar's Bill

Subsequently, the Senate passed an amendment offered by Senator Salazar, which has these words as its statement of purpose: "To declare that English is the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance the role of the English language." Only time will tell whether that statement truly has any practical meaning and how it relates to the Inhofe amendment.

Vote count for the Salazar amendment is here.

Senator Kyl's Bill

The Senate has Senate voted to kill Kyl amendment , which "would have denied a chance for permanent status and eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than five years and to any future immigrants who enter the country under the guest-worker program. Opponents said the amendment...would have gutted the bipartisan bill that allows guest workers an opportunity to seek permanent residence." More information can be found here. The vote count is here.


The last Power Line posting references the state-by-state Rasmussen immigration poll, which shows "In every state surveyed except Massachusetts, at least 60% of respondents say we should 'enforce existing laws and control the border before considering new reforms.'"

MICKEY KAUS (H/T Instapundit)

Instapundit notes that Mickey Kaus has been posting up a storm, with a critique of Blankley's editorial, Deborah Orin, the Rasmussen poll, and a variety of other topics. Worth the read.


Stanley Kurtz critiques Kaus' comments:

Mickey Kaus has a sharp critique of Tony Blankleys suggested immigration compromise over at Slate. Kauss points have to be taken seriously, but Im not convinced. Kaus dismisses Blankleys opposition to amnesty by saying that Blankleys not actually proposing a compromise, but an unattainable Republican victory. Then Kaus says Republicans ought to kill amnesty now by sinking the whole bill. Kaus says we should wait to push an amnesty-free bill under the next president.

So Kaus thinks an amnesty-free bill is impossible now, but just might squeak through in a new administration. Pushing for an amnesty-free bill now, says Kaus, will yield a bogus partial amnesty, lawyered up with loopholes that amount to a conservative loss. Maybe so, but waiting to pass an amnesty-free bill under a new president sounds like pie-in-the-sky to me. Pro-amnesty Democrats and a split Republican Party are likely to recreate todays political dynamic, whoever the next president is. That would mean a weakened Republican Party for some time. It also means that our likely choice will continue to be between a compromise bill and no bill at all.

If whatever compromise we get has liberal amnesty provisions, no bill at all is the way to go. But Kaus isnt worried by the political consequences for Republicans of a failed bill. I am. (Or, who knows, maybe Kaus understands perfectly well how politically helpful to Republicans a successful compromise would be.) If Kaus is right that an amnesty-free, or nearly amnesty-free, bill turns out to be impossible, then let the House Republicans walk away at that point. But I think its in the Republicans interest to push for a compromise that the country would favor, whether it ultimately passes or not. I think the public would respond well to a Blankley-like formula. Let the Democrats take the blame for sinking the bill because they insist on strong amnesty provisions. If forced to choose between a very weak citizenship track and no bill at all, Im betting the president would sign the bill...

Part V to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I, II, and III of this posting.

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part III

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the third of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


David Frum offers this critique of blogger Matt Yglesias who had criticized Samuelson's comments by referencing an American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) study on Hispanic assimilation:

...[AILF's] own data show that even the grandchildren of the pre-1965 Mexican and Latino population still lag substantially behind native Anglos.

Their data show that the intergenerational progress for Hispanics slowed to a halt after 1980.

Their data show that todays native-born Hispanics continue to drop out of school at rates nearly double those of Anglos.

And yet on the basis of this same disturbing data, the AILF authors conclude that the very poor, very rural, very uneducated Mexicans arriving illegally today will assimilate just fine over the decades to come.

I share Yglesias wish to believe that the current mass migration from Mexico will end well. Even with the strictest enforcement, many millions of the Mexicans who have arrived in the US since 1986 will probably end up staying here. It would be nice to think that they will emulate the experience of the Italians, Greeks, and Poles who arrived before 1924.

Nobody questions that most Mexican migrants work hard and mean well. What is in question are the results of their efforts - for themselves and for the new society that is accepting responsibility for them and their children and grandchildren . So far, those results are troubling. When writers like Samuelson raise those facts, they are showing genuine, not sarcastic, courage. And when bloggers like Yglesias jeer at those who mention unwelcome truths, and accept weak research to justify their determination to hear only what pleases them, they are not acting in the spirit of racial tolerance, and much less of serious intellectual inquiry. They are engaged in wishful thinking compounded with intellectual bullying. Not a pretty sight.


Mitchell Langbert writes about Immigration Reform and the Decline of Education:

Morse raises the important question of whether immigrants from Mexico are equipped to live in a society governed by the rule of law. I think that this is a valid and critically important question, and one that the left wingers on our campuses would not likely ask because it is a politically incorrect question.

The rule of law is fundamental to a functioning economy and a democratic society, and it is likely the fact that many third world countries are corrupt that prevents more rapid development. Mexico is a case in point. My classmate from Columbia University, Utpal Bhattycharia did a study a number of years back where he related the degree of corruption per country to the stock prices per country, and indeed found that corruption has a dampening effect on market valuation.

There are many wonderful things about Mexican culture. These include their wonderful food, the fact that Mexicans are hard working and many other assets. However, a successful political system and economy are not among their strengths. Nor is respect for the rule of law a characterisitc of Mexican culture. Indeed, the Spanish language is hardly associated with democracy. It is only in the past three decades that democracy has appeared in Spanish-speaking countries, and then in fits and starts...

America has faced this problem before. Immigrants who do not share mainstream American values have immigrated here. The past record is mixed...As the great grandchild and grandchild of such immigrants I have concluded that it takes at least three generations, maybe more likely five generations, for Americans to assimilate. However, that assumes functioning school systems.

...the schools are infested with absurd approaches such as multilingual education and identity politics that may result in self-esteem for the students (or not, who knows whether the advocates of these programs are even capable of testing whether they work)but are highly destructive of participation in the American polity. The history of multilingual societies such as the French in Canada suggests that multilingualism is destructive and will make it even more difficult for immigrants to America to adjust. These are concerns that economists and libertarians who are right in their rationality but wrong in their culture overlook.

Immigration reform needs to be associated with education reform. Making English the official language of the United States, elimination of fraudulent multi-lingual education programs and requiring all immigrants to learn English while inconsistent with libertarian purity is likely goood common sense.


Professor Bainbridge references an open letter by economist Alex Tabarrok, including this excerpt:

Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.

Immigration in recent decades of low-skilled workers may have lowered the wages of domestic low-skilled workers, but the effect is likely to be small, with estimates of wage reductions for high-school dropouts ranging from eight percent to as little as zero percent.

While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, the gains from immigration outweigh the losses. The effect of all immigration on low-skilled workers is very likely positive as many immigrants bring skills, capital and entrepreneurship to the American economy.

Legitimate concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants. Instead, we should promote policies, such as improving our education system that enables Americans to be more productive with high-wage skills.


Reconquista, Here We Come!, which links to an important Washington Times article about Senator Sessions and a Heritage Foundation study commented on earlier by Andrew (see below for link)

The Senate immigration reform bill would allow for up to 193 million new legal immigrants -- a number greater than 60 percent of the current U.S. population -- in the next 20 years, according to a study released yesterday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican who conducted a separate analysis that reached similar results, said Congress is "blissfully ignorant of the scope and impact" of the bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate and has been praised by President Bush.

The 614-page "compromise" bill -- hastily cobbled together last month by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida -- would give illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. two years or longer a right to citizenship. Illegals who have been here less than two years would have to return to their home countries to apply for citizenship.

As part of the bill, the annual flow of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. would more than double to more than 2 million annually. In addition, the guest-worker program in the bill would bring in 325,000 new workers annually who could later apply for citizenship.

That population would grow exponentially from there because the millions of new citizens would be permitted to bring along their extended families. Also, Mr. Sessions said, the bill includes "escalating caps," which would raise the number of immigrants allowed in as more people seek to enter the U.S.

"The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions," said Mr. Rector, who has followed Congress for 25 years. He called the bill "the most dramatic piece of legislation in my experience."

Immigration into the U.S. would become an "entitlement," Mr. Sessions said. "The decision as to who may come will almost totally be controlled by the desire of the individuals who wish to immigrate to the United States rather than by the United States government."

One of the most alarming aspects of the bill, opponents say, is that it eliminates a long-standing policy of U.S. immigration law that prohibits anyone from gaining permanent status here who is considered "likely to become a public charge," meaning welfare or other government subsidy.

This change is particularly troublesome because the bill also slants legal immigration away from highly skilled and highly educated workers to the unskilled and uneducated, who are far more likely to require public assistance. In addition, adult immigrants will be permitted to bring along their parents, who would eventually be eligible for Social Security even though they had never paid into it.

Everything old is new again

The legalization of the millions of illegal aliens who are residing in the United States -- the bestowal of American citizenship on them -- would be unjust and unwise for many reasons. Most Americans believe this to be the case; indeed, it is the sole reason for the refusal to acknowledge the substance of this critical component of the "comprehensive immigration reform" that that the president advocates. When described more accurately, it goes under the name of amnesty. The details of the amnesty program advocated by the administration are even more foolish than the idea of amnesty itself (as suggested by point 4 of the White House fact sheet, but also as elaborated at greater length elsewhere by adminstration spokesmen).

The same applies to the administration's advocacy of a guest worker program. The American guest worker program of 1942 to 1964 appears to be one of those secrets of history that it is somehow rude to mention in polite company...

A True Middle Way, featuring an editorial by Tony Blankley:

...his analysis of President Bush's immigration proposal and of the nature of the compromise that should be acceptable to conservatives. Other things being equal, the proper approach to illegal immigration is to secure (or attempt to secure) the border through security measures at the border. If that works, then we can talk about a guest worker program and perhaps some relief for some illegals who are here now. However, as a political matter a pure enforement first program looks like a non-starter...

Thus, conservatives should think carefully about where there may be room for compromise. The obvious candidate is the guest worker program. For one thing, as Blankley says, under the status quo we have a de facto guest worker program with virtually no border security. Thus, it makes sense to consider a plan that gives us a formal program, with enhanced border security, under which we have some hope of keeping track of alien workers...

The issue on which there should be no compromise is amnesty (or the path to citizenship). Such a path, in addition to rewarding scofflaws, would likely increase the pressure on the border. Unless President Bush is willing to compromise his position on citizenship for illegals, conservatives should not compromise with the president.


In an editorial entitled Hagel-Martinez divides the movement: "Our position is no compromise", the Socialist Worker makes these comments:

As George W. Bush called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, a split emerged in the immigrant rights movement over so-called compromise legislation in the Senate.

The deal--named for its chief negotiators, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)--has been sharply criticized among activists because it divides undocumented immigrants into three legal categories and includes a guest-worker program demanded by Corporate America.

Yet when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced May 12 that the stalled legislation would be revived, several major immigrant organizations endorsed the bill, including the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The National Immigration Forum (NIF)--whose top officers include the political director of the UNITE HERE union, Thomas Snyder--issued a statement which declared that the "Hagel-Martinez compromise includes the right architecture for real immigration reform." The other main union on the NIF board, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), views Hagel-Martinez as "a step forward," according to a union spokesperson.

By contrast, Nativo Lpez, president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and a key organizer of mass marches in Los Angeles on March 25 and May 1, called the proposals "nothing less than a categorization of the immigrant workforce into a bantu apartheid system," akin to the old racist system in South Africa. "[Immigrant workers] will languish in those categories for years with no absolute guarantee of legal status," he told Socialist Worker...

Under Hagel-Martinez, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. more than five years could apply to become citizens after six years, paying fines and any back taxes, and learning English.

Those in the U.S. more than two years but less than five could apply for status as guest workers, but only after exiting and re-entering the U.S. at a port of entry--a setup, critics say, for instant deportations.

The rest of the undocumented immigrants--more than 2 million people who have come to the U.S. in the last two years--would be forced to leave and could only apply to return under the guest-worker program.

Hagel-Martinez could also put immigrants at risk for deportation if they used false documentation to obtain a job, immigration lawyers say.

And as Hagel and Martinez boasted in a recent article, their proposals would sharply increase enforcement. "The bill adds nearly 15,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next six years," they wrote. "It dramatically increases the number of immigration investigators (1,000), immigration inspectors (1,250) and customs inspectors (1,000) as well. And it authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to make important improvements and additions to border infrastructure necessary to secure the border."...

The three-tiered structure of Hagel-Martinez led to opposition from organizations and unions--including the Laborers International Union--that had earlier supported a guest worker plan in a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). "[Hagel-Martinez] is not good enough for us," Yanira Merino, the Laborers policy director on immigration, said in an interview. "It still leaves a good number of immigrants without a path to citizenship."

Nevertheless, SEIU--with the largest number of immigrants of any union--views Hagel-Martinez as a "step forward," according to union spokesperson Avril Smith.

SEIU, along with the Laborers and UNITE HERE, are part of the Change to Win coalition, a group of unions that split from the AFL-CIO last summer. Now, however, UNITE HERE and SEIU are apparently alone among labor organizations in backing Hagel-Martinez...

By taking this position, SEIU is creating a split in the immigrant rights movement, says MAPAs Nativo Lpez.

The NIF, National Council of La Raza, LULAC and SEIU are playing a "dangerous game with the Democrats," Lpez said. "This game of 'improving' Hagel-Martinez is a betrayal on its face, because any compromise based on it would mean dividing families, supporting enforcement measures and undermining the rights of all immigrant workers. We take the position of no compromise, and no division of our families. Better no immigration reform bill this year than this bill."

Part IV to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I and II of this posting.

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part II

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the second of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


Can be found here.


From the National Review world, there were two important commentaries on President Bush's speech:

Amnesty Undeniable by the NRO Editors, which notes:

The most important part of Monday nights speech by President Bush on immigration was not his call for sending unarmed National Guardsmen to temporarily assist the Border Patrol.

Rather, it was his formal embrace, for the first time, of citizenship for illegal aliens.

When he first laid out his view on a foreign-worker program two years ago, he was explicit that illegal aliens could sign up but that "this program expects temporary workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."

Last night, the president rightly emphasized security, and rightly stressed the importance of assimilationwhile advocating a policy that would make assimilation much harder. He adopted the position of Senators Kennedy and McCain and other amnesty supporters, saying that illegal aliens who meet certain conditions should be able to apply for citizenship. He denied that this represented amnesty because "approval would not be automatic"but when have immigrants ever received "automatic" citizenship?...

Finally, President Bush reassured an anxious Mexican president Vicente Fox over the weekend that any deployment would be only temporary, and that the regular Army would not be involvedin other words, "Dont worry, Seor Presidente, its just symbolism."

As for the Senates compromise bill, the Heritage Foundation has released research that should torpedo it. Robert Rector, one of the nations leading authorities on poverty and welfare, has estimated that the bill would admit a staggering 103 million people over the next two decades and represent "the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years." Supporters of the bill call their approach "comprehensive," and theyre right: They arent content merely to deal with the current illegal population or to address a supposed shortage of unskilled labor, but want to effect a massive demographic reshuffling of America while they're at it...

Clintonian at the Border by Rich Lowry, which states:

President Bush has a bold new approach to immigration enforcement: He wants to police the Mexican border with symbolism.

That's the point of his proposal to send the National Guard to our border with Mexico. This represents Bush's final, desperate descent into Clintonian sleight of hand. He wants to distract enough of his supporters with the razzle-dazzle of "National Guard to the Border!" headlines that they won't notice he is pushing through Congress a proposal that essentially legalizes all the population influx from Latin America that has occurred in the past 10 years and any that might occur in the future.

Like President Clinton's gesture of sending more U.S. troops to Somalia after the "Black Hawk Down" battle in Mogadishu, when everyone knew we were really on our way out, Bush's Guard deployment is a prelude to surrender. The immigrants who have come here in defiance of our laws will get to stay, bring their families and be joined by just as many immigrants in the futureat least if Bush gets his way.

...The Guard won't have any real enforcement duties. It will merely provide logistical backup to the Border Patrol. The Guard's presence will be temporary, until a proposed doubling of Border Patrol agents takes place. But if the past is any guide, all of those new positions ultimately won't be funded, once the political heat passes.

Having the National Guard sharpen pencils and fetch coffee for the Border Patrol can't fix our broken immigration system. It is no substitute for a fence, nor for real interior enforcement that punishes employers for hiring illegal labor. The Bush approach to the latter also relies on symbolism. A 26-state immigration raid garnered extensive press attention last month, but most of the aliens arrested were quickly released again...

Bush's heart just isn't in enforcement. Perhaps it's a tribute to his sincerity that he is so bad at faking it. With his sympathy for the struggle of desperate people coming here for work, his "compassionate conservatism" doesn't stop at the Rio Grande. And it is reinforced by his chamber-of-commerce conservatism that wants to welcome the world's huddled masses as long as they will work without complaint on hot roofs for cheap wages.

The Senate bill Bush hopes to help pass would put 12 million illegal aliens on the path to citizenship, double the level of legal immigration from 1 million to 2 million a year and welcome hundreds of thousands of guest workers, according to the Washington Times. Those are the numbers that reflect Bush's true policy preferences, not the couple of thousand unarmed National Guard.


Peggy Noonan has written:

What was missing in the president's approach the other night was the expression, or suggestion, of context. The context was a crisis that had gone unanswered as it has built, the perceived detachment of the political elite from people on the ground, and a new distance between the president and his traditional supporters...

Without an established context the speech seemed free-floating: a statement issued into the ether, unanchored to any particular principle...

What was needed was a definitive statement: As of this moment we will control our borders, I'm sending in the men, I'm giving this the attention I've given to the Mideast.

Once that is done, all else follows. "Comprehensive solution" seems like code for "some day we may do something". No one believes in comprehensive solutions. They believe in action they can see. No one believes in the wisdom of government, but they do believe it has a certain brute power.

The disinterest in the White House and among congressional Republicans in establishing authority on America's borders is so amazing--the people want it, the age of terror demands it--that great histories will be written about it. Thinking about this has left me contemplating a question that admittedly seems farfetched: Is it possible our flinty president is so committed to protecting the Republican Party from losing, forever, the Hispanic vote, that he's decided to take a blurred and unsatisfying stand on immigration, and sacrifice all personal popularity, in order to keep the party of the future electorally competitive with a growing ethnic group?

This would, I admit, be rather unlike an American political professional. And it speaks of a long-term thinking that has not been the hallmark of this administration. But at least it would render explicable the president's moves.

The other possibility is that the administration's slow and ambivalent action is the result of being lost in some geopolitical-globalist abstract-athon that has left them puffed with the rightness of their superior knowledge, sure in their membership in a higher brotherhood, and looking down on the low concerns of normal Americans living in America...

Mark Krikorian disagrees with Noonan:

I don't think that either of Peggy Noonan's two explanations today for the president's behavior on immigration is entirely satisfactory...

Both probably have a grain of truth to them, but I get asked this question all the time and the conclusion I've come to is this: The president is morally and emotionally opposed to immigration enforcement, especially on the Mexican border. He sees it as uncompassionate and un-Christian, at best a necessary evil that must be entered into with the greatest reluctance and abandoned as soon as is practical. And this is especially true with regard to Mexico because he sees it as a "cousin" nation, like Britain or Israel, and thus enforcing immigration laws against Mexicans is even worse than doing so against Chinese or Pakistanis.

I don't say this to hurl epithets President Bush is a conviction politician and sincerely believes this, which is why he sticks to his anti-enforcement guns despite potentially catastrophic political damage...

The political implication is that the House Republicans need to understand that there is no difference to be split with the president on immigration. They must oppose him categorically on the issue and become, in effect, the loyal opposition on immigration. So the best tack for the House would be to wait for the Senate to pass the amnesty bill (if, in fact, that happens), and then refuse to go to conference and repass the original Sensenbrenner bill (after massaging the two provisions that have gotten the most negative attention downgrade the felony of illegal presence to a misdemeanor and put in a (totally unnecessary) exception for nuns serving illegals at soup kitchens). Putting as much distance as possible between themselves and president on immigration is probably the only way the House Republicans can keep their majority.


Samuelson offers this commentary:

President Bush's immigration speech mostly missed the true nature of the problem. We face two interconnected population issues. One is aging; the other is immigration. We aren't dealing sensibly with either, and as a result we face a future of unnecessarily heightened political and economic conflict. On the one side will be older baby boomers demanding all their federal retirement benefits. On the other will be an expanding population of younger and poorer Hispanics -- immigrants, their children and grandchildren -- increasingly resentful of their rising taxes that subsidize often-wealthier and unrelated baby boomers.

Does this look like a harmonious future?

But you couldn't glean the danger from Bush's speech Monday night. Nor will you hear of it from most Democrats and (to be fair) the mainstream media. There is much muddle to our immigration debate. The central problem is not illegal immigration. It is undesirably high levels of poor and low-skilled immigrants, whether legal or illegal, most of whom are Hispanic. Immigrants are not all the same. An engineer making $75,000 annually contributes more to the American economy and society than a $20,000 laborer. On average, the engineer will assimilate more easily.

Testifying recently before Congress, University of Illinois economist Barry Chiswick -- a respected immigration scholar -- said this of low-skilled immigrants:

"Their presence in the labor market increases competition for low-skilled jobs, reducing the earnings of low-skilled native-born workers. . . . Because of their low earnings, low-skilled immigrants also tend to pay less in taxes than they receive in public benefits, such as income transfers (e.g., the earned income tax credit, food stamps), public schooling for their children, and publicly provided medical services. Thus while the presence of low-skilled immigrant workers may raise the profits of their employers, they tend to have a negative effect on the well-being of the low-skilled native-born population, and on the native economy as a whole."

Hardly anyone is discussing these issues candidly. It is politically inexpedient to do so. We can be a lawful society and a welcoming society simultaneously, to use the president's phrase, but we cannot be a welcoming society for limitless numbers of Latin America's poor without seriously compromising our own future -- and, indeed, the future of many of the Latinos already here. Yet, that is precisely what the president and many senators (Democratic and Republican) support by endorsing large "guest worker" programs and an expansion of today's system of legal visas. In practice these proposals would result in substantial increases of low-skilled immigrants.

How fast can they assimilate? We cannot know, but we can consult history. It is sobering....[Details follow in the article.]...

There are striking parallels between how we've treated immigration and aging. In both cases, the facts are hiding in plain view. But we've chosen to ignore them because candor seems insensitive and politically awkward. Who wants to offend the elderly or Latinos? The result is to make our choices worse by postponing them. A sensible society would long ago have begun adapting to longer life expectancies, better health and greater wealth by making careful cuts in Social Security and Medicare. We've done little.

...People who don't think there will be conflicts between older beneficiaries and younger taxpayers -- Hispanic or not -- are deluding themselves. People who imagine there won't be more conflicts between growing numbers of poor Latinos and poor African Americans for jobs and political power are also deluding themselves...

Part III to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Part I of this posting.

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part I

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the first of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


An earlier posting contains many links to illegal immigration news events dating back more than 7-10 days from the date of this posting - including the May Day protests.


Power Line had some particularly insightful postings immediately preceding President Bush's immigration speech:

Free Advice for President Bush

...The time has come, though, to go on national television and say you were wrong, and you've changed your mind. About immigration.

Give a major speech in prime time. Say that you still think that a long-term solution to the immigration issue should include a guest worker program. Acknowledge, however, that many Americans disagree and there is currently no consensus on a long-range policy. Say that, more fundamentally, you're now convinced that our first priority has to be getting control over our borders. Until we control our borders, and know who is coming and going, any immigration policy we may announce will be meaningless anyway.

So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence...

He Had His Chance...

...As soon as he started talking about guest worker programs and the impossibility of deporting 11 million illegals, it was all over. President Bush keeps trying to find the middle ground, on this and many other issues. But sometimes, there isn't a viable middle ground. This is one of those instances...

How to read the speech, which includes a link to a John O'Sullivan prospective analysis of Bush's speech:

...I shall advise you on how to interpret President Bush's speech on immigration that you heard last night but that was delivered several hours after this column was written. Very simply: Ask yourselves the following questions:

Did the president use the phrase ''comprehensive immigration reform'' several times? That's revealing because this phrase is an example of smuggling. He hopes that by wrapping a ''temporary guest-worker program'' and the ''not an amnesty'' provision to legalize the 12 million illegals already here -- both of which are unpopular -- inside a tough-sounding popular promise to secure the border with the National Guard, he will persuade most Americans to accept the first two proposals...

...As this column has repeatedly pointed out, porous borders are the result of uncontrolled immigration as much as its cause. You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets 100 miles inland.

Besides, a guest-worker program that admits as many people as employers are willing to hire (at sweatshop wages Americans won't accept) makes extra border security pointless. If everyone can come in legally, there won't be any illegals crossing the desert or swimming the river.

Did the president deny that he and the Senate are proposing an amnesty because the 12 million illegals ''will have to go to the end of the line''?

The trick here is the identity of the line. You thought it meant the line to enter and live in the good old USA, didn't you? That's exactly what the president and his speechwriters wanted you to think. In fact, it means the line to become a citizen. Under the Senate-White House ''compromise,'' the illegals will immediately be granted the right to reside here permanently while legal applicants still wait outside.

It's the line to enter that really matters, however, since a U.S. permanent resident has all the rights and duties of a U.S. citizen except the right to vote and the duty to serve on a jury. Illegals will have to wait a dozen or so years inside America before they obtain those last two...

When the president stressed that the guest-worker program would be temporary, did he mention ''anchor babies''? No? Well, just guessing, but that omission may be because ''anchor babies,'' as the phrase implies, make ''temporary'' guest-workers permanent.

Here's how: Under the U.S. Constitution, if a temporary guest-worker or spouse gives birth during their stay, they become parents of a U.S. citizen and enjoy a right of residence and, in due course, citizenship. The baby anchors them in the United States and nullifies the president's pledge that temporary guest-workers will have to return when their job assignment ends...

Did the president quote many statistics about the number of people likely to be admitted under the ''compromise'' legislation? Or the likely cost of granting amnesty? No? Well, that's hardly surprising. When Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions produced a chart suggesting that something like 30 million people would be admitted under provisions of the compromise bill, his brave and effective speech halted it dead in its tracks in the Senate before Easter.

But the latest estimates suggest that Sessions was being overly cautious. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has just added up all the provisions of the bill -- for instance, it doubles the number of legal immigrants -- and discovered they would admit 103 million new people over the next 20 years. It's estimated that 19 million people would otherwise enter America over the same period...


The Congressman offers strong criticism of President Bush's immigration speech:

Complaining that President Bush "doesn't get it" on immigration, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner blasted the White House on Wednesday, saying that Bush has provoked a firestorm by endorsing amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"What he is proposing is amnesty," said the Menomonee Falls legislator, using a politically loaded label that Bush has repeatedly disputed...

Sensenbrenner said the White House has irritated him and others by seemingly "running away" from the immigration bill that the House passed in December. Sensenbrenner crafted that measure, whose get-tough provisions have sparked mass protests.

"He basically turned his back on provisions of the House bill, a lot of which we were requested to put in the bill by the White House," Sensenbrenner said.

One provision he cited makes it a criminal offense to be in the country illegally. That followed a request from the Justice Department.

The House bill makes unlawful presence a felony, though Sensenbrenner and House leaders have agreed to reduce it to a criminal misdemeanor. It is currently a civil violation.

"The president seems to be running away from that now," Sensenbrenner said of the stiffened penalties in the House legislation...

"The president has repeatedly and forcefully rejected amnesty," White House spokesman Alex Conant said.

"Under the president's plan, you have to pay stiff fines, follow the law, stay employed, learn English, and after achieving all those things, you still go to the back of the line. That's not amnesty."...

The Senate endorsed the citizenship provisions Wednesday by a roughly 2-to-1 vote.

"It's not amnesty," Arizona Republican John McCain said on the Senate floor. "Call it amnesty. Call it a banana if you want to. But the fact is it is earned citizenship. It is a perversion of the word amnesty."

Sensenbrenner was similarly adamant in his disdain for the term earned citizenship, and in his view, what Bush is discussing "is an amnesty because it allows people who have broken the law to stay in the country."

Under the Senate plan, many of those people will end up achieving legal status much sooner than they would have by waiting for legal permission to enter, Sensenbrenner said.

He called amnesty "the third rail of the immigration debate."...

Sensenbrenner said he thinks a compromise [between House and Senate bills] could include provisions for temporary workers, if "that does not include an amnesty," and only if it includes "vigorous" enforcement of sanctions against employers for hiring illegal immigrants...


Congressman Tancredo is an outspoken proponent of securing our borders and elaborated in this editorial on what he thought President Bush should say in his speech:

In this speech, the President needs to do three things to accomplish his goals. There is a road to consensus and success if the President will take it...

In his Monday speech, the President needs to make a clear break from previous speeches on the topic and come home to Republican Party principles. He needs to stop pandering to perceived voting blocs and employer lobbies and speak to the one thing all Americans agree upon: No immigration policy is workable without secure borders.

The President needs to speak to the nation as fellow citizens, not ethnic or economic groups, and tell them America will have secure borders that stop all illegal entry into our country. He needs to announce that he will federalize the National Guard in four border states to provide support to the beleaguered Border Patrol. He needs to say this will happen tomorrow morning, not next month or next year.

The second thing the President must do is explicitly separate the priority and necessity of secure borders from all other proposed federal legislation. Secure borders do not depend on a comprehensive immigration reform package that includes amnesty and a new temporary worker program. Secure borders are a prerequisite for any new immigration legislation, not a component to be bartered away for increased immigration numbers or new visa rules.

The third thing the Presidents speech should do is to avoid any mention of amnesty for illegal aliens already in the country. No matter how cleverly he defines his legalized status proposal as not being amnesty, it is still amnesty and everyone knows it.

Americans are not in a mood to negotiate the matter of regularization for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens -- and Newt Gingrich has pointed out the amnesty would ultimately legalize up to 36 million -- until they see we have in fact achieved secure borders. Once that is done, once our laws are being enforced, then we can begin to discuss the problem of how to deal with the millions of illegal aliens already living here...

Part II to follow...

May 18, 2006

Jennifer Roback Morse: Further Clarifying What is at Stake in the Illegal Immigration Debate

Several previous postings (here, here, and here) have discussed the importance of the rule of law issue in the illegal immigration debate.

Jennifer Roback Morse has written a very compelling piece, Immigration Reform, French-Style, which provides increased clarity to the public debate about illegal immigration and it follows below in its entirety:

Let's get real basic with the immigration debate. No, I don't mean a rerun of the debates on the economic impact or the numbers of immigrants or the difference between legal and illegal. No let's get even more basic. Why are they here and what do they want?

The vast majority of immigrants from all over the world come here for economic opportunity. Why do they do that? Because we're rich and they aren't. To be more precise, we have a functioning economy that generates wealth and they don't. Why does our economy work and theirs doesn't? We have the rule of law and they don't. Believe it or not, that one simple gift of our British heritage continues to pay large dividends to us and to the rest of the English-speaking world.

The rule of law means that one set of rules applies to everyone. There isn't one set of rules for the people in power and another for the average Joe. It means that property rights are relatively secure. Whether you're rich or poor, whether your family is in the government or in the gutter, you can buy, sell and own property and be pretty sure it will still be yours the next day. The rule of law and secure property rights creates an environment in which people can make investments, take financial risks and create wealth. We take it for granted that our savings will be in the bank where we left them. Most Americans don't worry about leaving their homes or businesses unguarded.

How can you create corruption without really trying? Have laws that are not uniformly enforced. The principle of the rule of law says that the same laws apply to everyone, and that everyone knows roughly what the laws are and what penalties for non-compliance are. In many Third World countries, there are so many regulations that it is not possible to do business legally. Large portions of the economy operate underground, illegally, or as it is sometimes called, "informally."

In a corrupt system, people who have connections can do better than the average Joe. If your brother-in-law is the police chief, you get your building permits and your business gets protection. If you are some poor schmuck trying to make a living, you might not. That uncertainty and that unfairness conspire to sap the energy people could be using to build better products, and in the process, hire more workers. Everything about this stifles capital formation and business development.

What does this have to do with the immigration debate? We have a set of immigration laws that are not being enforced. We also, obviously, are not enforcing our labor laws. The employers who hire illegal workers are almost certainly not in compliance with every aspect of our labor laws governing hours, wages, benefits and working conditions.

Both the immigration and labor laws lie in wait to be enforced when convenient. That's a recipe for undermining the rule of law, the key thing that makes us richer than the rest of the world. This is true, regardless of the exact content of the laws. Any laws you don't intend to enforce or that you intend to enforce selectively, invite corruption.

But as we look at how the immigration debate is unfolding, there are even more reasons to be concerned about the rule of law. The mass demonstrations of the past weeks reveal a much more sinister development: the arrival of French-style street politics in America.

Look at the control the French public employee unions have over public policy. More than a million people came out in the street to oppose a law that is an entirely reasonable attempt to deal with youth unemployment, which has been over 20 percent for a decade. The French public employee unions organize the students to fill the streets, scare the government and control the "debate." It is policy-making through intimidation. France is a banana republic with bad weather. If the Left has its way, it will be coming to a street near you.

Left-wing groups are actively working the immigration debate. Leftist unions and organizations worked behind the scenes of the high school demonstrations of the past weeks. Think about it: a network of e-mails went out over the week-end of March 24-25. The next week, high school kids from all across the country "spontaneously" ditched school, aided and abetted by left-wing groups, including, in Los Angeles' case, their own school officials.

The DC Clergy prayer service to support illegal immigrants was sponsored almost entirely by left-wing activist groups, cloaked in a thin veil of Christianity. The Center for Community Change, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, La Raza and other groups sponsored the prayer rally. These groups are far more about anti-American politics than they are about the Christian gospel.

My real fear about immigration is the continual importation of people who will be clients of the welfare state and the political apparatus that supports it. My parish has a lot of Mexicans. I love them. They could save the Catholic Church in America. It is a privilege to worship with them. On the other hand, I can't stand the thought of Mexicans becoming lifelong clients of the radical left, with their identity politics, their self-righteous anti-Americanism, and their entitlement mentality. Whatever you believe about the balance between controlling the future flow of migrants and humanity to those already here, the introduction of French-style street politics is an ominous development.

If we import third world politics, we will destroy our first world economy. And everyone, native-born and immigrant alike, will be worse off for that.

(H/T to Democracy Project)

Does The Rule Of Law & A Sense Of Fair Play Matter Anymore? The Debate About In-State Tuitions For Illegal Immigrants

Does the rule of law matter anymore? Or do we now apply it selectively based on interest group policy preferences? Is the latter consistent with longstanding American principles? Is it consistent with a sense of fair play?

Aside from the national security issue, the primary philosophical and policy issue at the center of of the illegal immigration debate is whether America will honor the rule of law in our day-to-day life. The specific issue of granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants here in Rhode Island is a subsidiary question, directly related to the broader rule of law issue. This broader issue is also one many people do not want to debate, especially those whose difficulties with the issue begin with an Orwellian inability to use the two words "illegal" and "immigrant" in the same sentence. The illegal immigration debate will never be properly resolved as long as the rule of law issue is avoided.

The unspoken, but crucial, impact of selectively applying the laws of our country means that any sense of fair play that would otherwise exist is gone. It is replaced by a world where outcomes are driven by the raw use of power, by who has the ability to vote favors-of-the-day for the desired interest groups. It is no less true that those favors will only last as long as political power remains unchanged, which then has the consequence of intensifying political combat. Politics morphs from being driven by eternal guiding principles such as those in the Declaration of Independence to trench warfare of a political nature, a change which only serves to polarize further our society.

Why did Martin Luther King, Jr.'s moral crusade for black civil rights in the 1960's have such a powerful impact? To have any meaning, the rule of law requires laws be applied equally to all Americans. King forcefully reminded us how the principles of the American Founding took our society to an unprecedented level of freedom and equality. Nonetheless, he noted the job was not finished because black American citizens were not being treated with the equality that was their natural right as Americans. King knew what all students of history know - that it was a self-evident, albeit not then practiced, truth that such rights of black citizens preceded even the existence of our government because all of us are endowed by our Creator with those inalienable rights. This is the proper interpretation of how King's moral crusade relates to the illegal immigration debate, a topic which was discussed under Core Issue #2 in the posting, Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate.

The debate about illegal immigration has also highlighted how our government - under both political parties - has consistently chosen not to enforce existing laws or to pass laws in conflict with existing laws, thereby further undermining the rule of law. That begs the question of what is the proper role of government, a question addressed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, in the second chapter of his classic work, Capitalism & Freedom:

...a good society requires acceptance by the players both of the rules and of the umpire to interpret and enforce them, so a good society requires that its members agree on the general conditions that will govern relations among them, on some means of arbitrating different interpretations of these conditions, and on some device for enforcing compliance with the generally accepted rules...In both games and society also, no set of rules can prevail unless most participants most of the time conform to them without external sanctions; unless that is, there is a broad underlying social consensus. But we cannot rely on custom or on this consensus alone to interpret and to enforce the rules; we need an umpire. These then are the basic roles of government in a free society: to provide a means whereby we can modify the rules, to mediate differences among us on the meaning of the rules, and to enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who would otherwise not play the game...

As an alternative to the clarity and logic of Friedman's argument, you can always turn to the sloppy and Orwellian use of words at RIFuture. Be sure to read the comments section.

It is in this broader context of the illegal immigration debate that a legislative proposal to grant in-state tuition rights to illegal immigrants has arisen.

Today's ProJo carries a news article on the latest developments on this proposed law:

If states have a responsibility to provide all students, even illegal immigrants, with a solid education, does that responsibility also include a college education?

That was the question in a State House hearing yesterday, as lawmakers and advocates debated extending in-state college tuition rates to all Rhode Island high-school graduates, regardless of immigration status. Currently, noncitizen students must provide a permanent resident card to qualify for in-state tuition.

"Limiting access to education has never proved to be a good thing for any country or state," said state Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, who sponsored the in-state tuition bill...

The two-hour hearing included some emotionally charged moments...At one point, state Rep. Arthur J. Corvese, D-North Providence, locked into a heated exchange about racism with Wilfred Ordonez, a community organizer for Progreso Latino.

"Racism is real, and it has existed throughout the entire history of our country," Ordonez told the committee.

"There can be a legitimate dialogue and discourse without any racist motivation," Corvese responded. "You cannot run to the racist card every time someone disagrees with your opinion."

Major questions remain about the bill's financial impact. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is $7,312 a year at Rhode Island College and $12,642 a year at the University of Rhode Island...

URI President Robert L. Carothers testified that the bill would not cause problems with classroom capacity at the university. However, he asked the committee to consider removing a sentence that would prohibit public institutions of higher education from sharing information on students' immigration status with "any governmental or nongovernmental agency." Carothers said the university is required to report such information to the federal government, and faces penalties if it doesn't...

Rhode Island will, no doubt, be watching a federal court case challenging a similar law in Kansas and a lawsuit in California challenging that state's policy of allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. The plaintiffs in the California case, three dozen University of California students, claim the policy discriminates against out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens...

An earlier posting clarified the relevant issues:

If you want a local example of how our General Assembly is also blurring the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, read how this bill grants illegal immigrants the right to pay in-state tuition costs at our state colleges - and then says the schools cannot share their information on the illegal status about such people with any government agencies. Wink, wink. Why pass a new law if we are going to knowingly not enforce existing laws? Now take a step back and think about the implications of this proposed bill: An American citizen born and raised in Massachusets will pay more to attend URI than an illegal immigrant. In other words, we are economically penalizing a law-abiding citizen and economically rewarding a law-breaking non-citizen. And that is just one small example of how illegal immigration and current amnesty proposals undermine the rule of law - and the sense of fair play - in America. All of us should send that message to the bill's authors: Assembly members Grace Diaz, Joseph Almeida, Thomas Slater, and Anastasia Williams.

Unfortunately, the granting of in-state tuition rights to illegal immigrants is not limited to Rhode Island. As Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, writes:

They're doing so in clear defiance of congressional intent to make such preferential treatment unlawful. Title 8 Section 1623 of the U.S. Code (part of the Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 1996) provides in pertinent part:
Limitations on eligibility for preferential treatment of aliens not lawfully present on the basis of residence for higher education benefits

a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

So the problem is actually worse than expected here in Rhode Island. The introduction of this bill by these four legislators not only violates all sense of fair play, it violates Federal law. What kind of example are they setting for the residents of our state? For our children? It is an outrage that only encourages further disrespect for the rule of law.

The debate about the rule of law can be explained as a gut sense among Americans that we believe in fair play, in a level playing field. Many of us who are citizens and have spent our lifetime living by the rules of our country are offended that lawbreaking illegal immigrants are being granted additional unearned favors by legislators who don't even have the courage to enforce existing laws.

The overriding issue here is not about education. It is about whether we will be a country that lives by the rule of law, by a sense of fair play that provides the basis for all Americans to live together peacefully.

May 17, 2006

Senator Reed Votes For Open Borders

Carroll Andrew Morse

Senator Jack Reed was one of just 16 Senators to vote against building 370 miles of new fencing along the U.S-Mexico border.

Whatever their positions on guest worker and amnesty programs, is a vote for open borders really a vote that most Rhode Islanders support?

May 16, 2006

Senate Rejects Securing the Borders while Supporting Increased Presidential Power

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Senate today expressly rejected a secure-the-border-first program of immigration reform. By a vote of 40-55, the Senate voted down the following amendment submitted by Senator Johnny Isakson

The Secretary [of Homeland Security] may not implement any program authorized by this Act, or by amendments made under this Act, which grants legal status to any individual, or adjusts the current status of any individual, who enters or entered the United States in violation of Federal law unless the Secretary has submitted a written certification to the President and Congress that the border security measures authorized under Title I and the increases in Federal detention space authorized under section 233 have been fully completed and are fully operational.
Most Democrats, including Senator Jack Reed, as well as Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, voted against Senator Isakson's amendment.

A few minutes later, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a mushier version in terms of policy, but a stronger version in terms of Presidential decision making. The full text of the amendment isnt available yet, but here is the short description of the approved amendment available with the roll-call tally

To prohibit implementation of title IV and title VI until the President determines that implementation of such titles will strengthen the national security of the United States.
Title IV of the immigration bill is mostly the guest-worker program; Title VI contains the pay-for-amnesty provisions.

In addition to showing a lax attitude towards border security, the Democrats are displaying rank hypocrisy in this vote-pair. Here are concerns about executive power expressed by Senator Patrick Leahy in the Boston Globe

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney of attempting to concentrate ever more government power in their own hands.
Yet when in agreement with the policy outcome it would promote -- in this case open borders -- Senator Leahy and his fellow Democrats support cutting cabinet secretaries out of executive branch decision-making and concentrating decision-making power directly in the hands of the President.

Congressional Democrats support a similar agenda of preventing the Secretary of State from taking a formal role in executive branch decisions concerning United Nations reform.

May 15, 2006

Asleep at the Border

Justin Katz

I wish I could offer some little bit of insightful commentary on the President's speech. Unfortunately, I dozed off shortly after his use of the "the vast majority of" construction. On the bright side, the nap left me revivified for the season finale of Prison Break. The frustration: that I had to wait an extra twenty minutes for the show and the writers still ended the season with a cliffhanger.

Maybe next season the President will have something worthwhile to say.

Now that I've gotten a (somewhat) full night's sleep, perhaps two examples of the mentality that's causing my ennui are in order. From the speech:

Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal.

This statement — picked up later in the speech, as well — seems to me to deliberately skirt the central point. The President says that we must "hold employers to account for the workers they hire," but the advanced ID card that he then proposes speaks not at all to the penalties to those who hire them for the very reason that they are outside of the system and, therefore, cheap. What does it mean to "hold them to account"? Where is the stiffening of punishments and the funding for additional manpower to seek them out?

Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, it strains state and local budgets, and brings crime to our communities.

This idea disappears as soon as it's voiced — as if thrown out there for small-government types to nibble on. What the President did not include is a suggestion that government services should not, in most instances, be available for illegal immigrants. They aren't "putting pressure" on our public systems via some force of nature; they're doing so because we let them.

In short, as perhaps best represented in his policy-free exhortation to assimilate, the President has suggested no force for motivation to enter into the system.

More Links on Immigration Issue

As we head into President Bush's speech tonight, here are some interesting recent links on the immigration topic:

John Podhertz (H/T Instapundit) states:

There are really three immigration debates. There is the cultural debate, there is the economic debate, and there is the security debate. On matters of culture, I believe as everybody else here does that our immigration policy makes no sense if it is not directed at the process of turning non-Americans into Americans through the instruction of English, knowledge of civics and American history, and helping to instill a sense of pride and commitment to the country.

On economic matters, I agree that if immigrants are not of net benefit to the country, it makes no sense for us to allow newcomers to do harm in this way and here, in my opinion, the case made by restrictionists is by far the weakest. On security matters, an uncontrolled border is clearly unacceptable, and a panoply of measures, including a border fence, is more than called for.

As for dealing with the illegals already here, there's a sense in which this debate has been radicalized to such an extent that the Right won't be satisfied with a policy that does not explicitly advocate expulsion all other policies being dubbed "amnesty" and therefore illegitimate while the Left refuses to consider any policy other than special-treatment affirmative-action line-jumping legalization...

Is Hugo Chavez behind the illegal immigration rallies? -- UPDATED (H/T Instapundit)
Thomas Sowell
Captain's Quarter
Captain's Quarter
Lawrence Lindsey

As usual, Michelle Malkin has been all over the issue for a long time. Some of her more recent postings include:

Our Border Patrol...or Mexico's?
Snitching & Spying for Mexico
DHS: Deny, Hedge, Spin
Homeland Insecurity Bulletin
Hurray For Illegal Aliens with TB!
The Border Patrol Under Siege
Whose Running America?
Too Little, Too Late
Read My Lips: No New Amnesty
Same Old, Same Old

There have been three recent postings on Anchor Rising about immigration:

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate
More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration
Why is Congress Discriminating Against Educated Legal Immigrants?

Why is Congress Discriminating Against Educated Legal Immigrants?

Carroll Andrew Morse

So asks this mornings Washington Times about the immigration legislation to be debated in the US Senate this week

Currently, a little less than 60 percent of the 140,000 work visas granted each year are reserved for professors, engineers, doctors and others with "extraordinary abilities." Fewer than 10 percent are set aside for unskilled laborers

Under the Senate proposal, those priorities would be flipped.

The percentage of work visas that would go to the highly educated or highly skilled would be cut in half to about 30 percent. The percentage of work visas that go to unskilled laborers would more than triple. In hard numbers for those categories, the highest skilled workers would be granted 135,000 visas annually, while the unskilled would be granted 150,000 annually.

What's more, the Hagel-Martinez bill would make it considerably easier for unskilled workers to remain here permanently while keeping hurdles in place for skilled workers. It would still require highly skilled workers who are here on a temporary basis to find an employer to "petition" for their permanent residency but it would allow unskilled laborers to "self-petition," meaning their employer would not have to guarantee their employment as a condition on staying.

The Times article also discusses a study by the Heritage Foundation that analyzes potentially huge hidden costs contained in the current immigration bill
But the greatest cost to the U.S. may not be the unskilled workers who immigrate here in the future, but the ones who are already here illegally.

[Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation] estimates that the Senate bill would grant citizenship to between 9 million and 10 million illegal aliens. If allowed to become citizens, those immigrants would be permitted to bring their entire extended family, including any elderly parents.

"The long-term cost of government benefits to the parents of 10 million recipients of amnesty could be $30 billion per year or more," Mr. Rector said. "In the long run, the [Hagel-Martinez] bill, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years."

May 9, 2006

More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration

RIFuture is, once again, promoting muddled and ultimately dangerous thinking in their most recent posting on illegal immigration, A Closer Look at Immigration Reform.

This latest commentary again ignores how communist and socialist forces - people openly hostile and opposed to American Founding principles of liberty and equality - were key players in many May Day protests.

Ignoring some of the players is symptomatic of a larger problem: how their latest commentary again blurs factual distinctions between legal immigration and illegal immigration - thereby willfully undermining critical public policies related to American sovereignty, American citizenship, and the rule of law.

Their posting quotes from what they describe as a "compelling essay" by Bill Shuey, Executive Director of the International Institute of Rhode Island. In addition to declaring his support for the toothless McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, here are some choice excerpts:

The proper place for immigrants - especially those deemed "illegal" (I prefer the term "undocumented" or "out of status" when characterizing the between ten and thirty thousand such residents of our state. We serve thousands of individuals every year who simply want to realize their "American dream." Part of the American dream is becoming a U.S. citizen. We ought to remember who the immigrants of Rhode Island really are. Maybe you are an immigrant, or your neighbor, or co-worker. Quite probably - if you aren't an immigrant yourself - your parents or grandparents were immigrants. Immigrants built Rhode Island and continue to do so; we feel strongly that Rhode Islanders should stand up and demand that immigrants receive basic protections and human rights: the freedom to travel as they please, see their families, choose their jobs, and have equal protection under the law.

Well, why don't we all just gather 'round the campfire, hold hands, engage in happy talk, and sing Kum By Yah. A counter-argument to such shallow thinking was offered in an earlier posting on this site, Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate.

But shallow thinking is not limited to RIFuture. If you want a local example of how our General Assembly is also blurring the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, read how this bill grants illegal immigrants the right to pay in-state tuition costs at our state colleges - and then says the schools cannot share their information on the illegal status about such people with any government agencies. Wink, wink. Why pass a new law if we are going to knowingly not enforce existing laws? Now take a step back and think about the implications of this proposed bill: An American citizen born and raised in Massachusets will pay more to attend URI than an illegal immigrant. In other words, we are economically penalizing a law-abiding citizen and economically rewarding a law-breaking non-citizen. And that is just one small example of how illegal immigration and current amnesty proposals undermine the rule of law - and the sense of fair play - in America. All of us should send that message to the bill's authors: Assembly members Grace Diaz, Joseph Almeida, Thomas Slater, and Anastasia Williams.

Unfortunately, the granting of in-state tuition rights to illegal immigrants is not limited to Rhode Island. As Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, writes:

They're doing so in clear defiance of congressional intent to make such preferential treatment unlawful. Title 8 Section 1623 of the U.S. Code (part of the Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 1996) provides in pertinent part:
Limitations on eligibility for preferential treatment of aliens not lawfully present on the basis of residence for higher education benefits

a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

So the problem is actually worse than expected here in Rhode Island. The introduction of this bill by these four legislators not only violates all sense of fair play, it violates Federal law. What kind of example are they setting for the residents of our state? For our children? It is an outrage that only encourages further disrespect for the rule of law.

These kind of actions are creating a growing reaction across the country and (H/T to Power Line) Diana West addresses that in her editorial, Fighting Back:

"Backlash" is one of those words with an iffy reputation, connoting an angry or even unreasoned reaction to a benign or just plain immutable reality. Like a tantrum, a backlash is widely regarded as an emotional spasm that inevitably subsides, leaving the supposedly benign or just plain immutable reality to unfold unmolested...

...More often than not, "backlash" is the word mainstream liberals use to describe the sound the silent majority makes when it finally gets around to piping up. The nation's borders are breached by millions of illegal aliens, who not only provide an immorally cheap labor force but also more than 29 percent of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities: That's progress. Somebody yells, Hey, put up a fence: That's backlash. The following headline in The WashingtonPost, summing up reaction to May Day amnesty demonstrations, crystallizes this cracked-prism vision. "After Protests, Backlash Grows: Opponents of Illegal Immigration Are Increasingly Vocal."

Who, The Post seems to wonder, do these increasingly vocal "opponents" think they are: illegal aliens?...

But this is no fit of pique. Indeed, it could be part of an ad hoc movement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 463 immigration bills have been introduced just this year in 43 states, "the biggest crop of state immigration proposals ever recorded," The Post writes. Most of the measures, the newspaper continues, "are designed to get tough on illegal immigrants, on employers who give them jobs and on state officials who give them benefits" - in other words, to fill the breach left by Congress...

Will these get-tough - or, at least, get-tougher - state measures pass? The answer will tell us a lot about whether what we're witnessing is a passing "backlash," or a durable national movement, that has emerged from the vaccuum on border protection and national preservation left by our leaders in Washington.

...I feel as though I'm seeing more anecdotal reports of American citizens taking local action. The fact is, if Americans can find a sustainable level of outrage and concern to drive such reform at the state level, we, as a nation, might actually have a chance to survive the hand-wringing, no-can-do gridlock in Washington.

...Surely, it's time to wean ourselves from immorally cheap labor and immorally cheap goods. Surely, it's time we learn that some things cost more than we want them to, even - no, especially - American citizenship.

So where should public policy go from here? In an article, A Two-Step for America: Addressing our immigration problems (available for a fee), Kate O'Beirne offers these ideas:

...Militant advocates for illegal immigrants smear those who oppose legalizing 11 million aliens as hostile to Hispanics...

But America is a nation of legal immigrants. The way to maintain that tradition is for Congress to reject the amnesty and guest-worker bills in favor of a two-phase approach. In Phase One, Congress would get serious about enforcing the immigration laws - and only afterward, in Phase Two, increase legal immigration. This approach would be pro-enforcement, pro-immigrant, and in accord with public opinion.

The American public are sticklers for obeying the law. They see a program that permits illegal aliens to live and work in the U.S. while awaiting citizenship as an amnesty for lawbreakers. And they recognize that millions around the world would jump at the chance to be accorded this privilege - if only they met the prerequisite of having violated our laws. Public opinion overwhelmingly favors getting serious about border control and cracking down on illegal immigration. Polls indicate that more people view immigration as a security issue than as an economic one. A majority favors stationing troops at the border with Mexico and building a 2,000-mile security fence.

...Even senators McCain and Kennedy, the authors of the leading amnesty plan, have bowed to public sentiment by adopting a rhetoric of strengthening the borders. Of course, this is merely a pose, as their plan actually rejects all serious enforcement proposals. It neither increases the number of agents nor builds new barriers at the border. It does not make employers verify the legal status of new hires. It requires little more by way of enforcement than the creation of a national strategy to deal with our porous borders some time in the distant future. Its approach, in other words, is amnesty now, security later.

New enforcement measures aren't enough. We also need to fix the federal agencies that are responsible for implementing them. Four years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that immigration fraud owing to the widespread use of phony documents was "pervasive and significant." This poses a security problem: Two-thirds of the 94 foreign terrorists known to have operated in the United States between the early 1990s and 2004 committed immigration fraud. The GAO also concluded in a recent study that the Department of Homeland Security has little prospect of discouraging the use of fraudulent documents because it has no strategy for punishing offenders.

Phase One of immigration reform should set appropriate benchmarks to establish that our borders have been strengthened, the problem of fraudulent documents has been addressed, the backlog of immigration applications has been eliminated, and an effective system of workplace enforcement is in operation. Our first priority should be dramatically to reduce the number of illegal entrants, currently about 800,000 a year. A reduction would permit easier assimilation of legal immigrants - and consideration could then be given to increasing their numbers.

There is no reason to wait until an enforcement system is in place before debating what future legal-immigration proposals should include: The incentive for illegal immigration could be reduced if, along with effectively enforcing our borders and ruling out amnesty, we gave preference in any future guest-worker program to those who have resided in their countries of origin for two years prior to entering the U.S. Privileged consideration should also be given to immigrants who demonstrate a strong desire to assimilate and become Americans by learning English.

There is little reason to think that illegal aliens will have more respect for the laws Congress passes than Congress has itself. Today's dysfunctional system is a creature of Congresses that habitually pass immigration laws they have no intention of enforcing. By undertaking reforms in the two phases outlined here, the current Congress could win the public trust necessary for fundamental - and positive - change.

Newt Gingrich offers these thoughts as a guide to a more robust immigration policy in Honesty in Immigration: Our Shining City on a Hill Requires a Firm Foundation of Law:

The thousands of people we have seen marching in the streets of our cities and the planned May 1 boycott to protest U.S. immigration policy are the product of two decades of a fundamentally dishonest immigration system. For more than 20 years, the United States has failed to control the borders or enforce immigration laws while many U.S. businesses have profited by breaking the law. In turn, the U.S. government failure to enforce the immigration laws has encouraged outright defiance of federal authority by certain state and local jurisdictions. Adding insult to this deplorable state of affairs is an immigration bureaucracy that has been slow, cumbersome, rude, heartless, and incompetent in the discharge of its duties. This dishonest system has lured millions to enter our country illegally and obtain work here illegally. Where are we and how should we proceed?...

First, we must deal with the immediate. Open borders are a grave national-security threat. Why have a multibillion-dollar ballistic-missile-defense system when a terrorist can rent a truck and drive a weapon of mass destruction across the border? Gaining control of our borders is therefore an immediate and pressing national-security requirement. The secondary effect is that it would dramatically stem the flow of illegal immigration, illegal drugs, and the human trafficking of slaves (mostly female and mostly for sexual exploitation).

The longer-term threats of illegal immigration are economic and cultural.

Economically, in a world of vast income differences, instantaneous communications, and cheap travel (even when illegal), we cannot continue to allow a wide-open illegal employment system. The current flood of illegal migration if left unchecked for a period of decades will decisively undermine the economy in both economic and legal terms.

Culturally we have shifted from an integrating, English-speaking American citizenship focused model of immigration to an acceptance of foreign habits (which are going to include corruption), foreign loyalties (illustrated by the waving of foreign flags by many of the marchers, some with attitudes of contempt) and the insistence (not necessarily by immigrants) on creating non-English speaking legal and educational structures.

Instinctively, most Americans understand the corrosive effects of lawlessness on the economy and the culture.

Most Americans are open to people who want to become American, who will work hard, obey the law, and who are willing to learn English and American history. Within this framework of patriotic integration it is possible to be both pro-conservative and pro-immigrant.

But this framework cannot stand unless it is built upon the solid foundation of the rule of law�

Continue reading "More Misguided Thinking From RIFuture & State Legislators on Illegal Immigration"

May 3, 2006

Anti–Illegal Immigration Protest

Justin Katz

You know how the pro-immigration folks often claim that illegals "do the work that Americans won't do"? Well, I propose that we pick a day during which everybody who supports tougher immigration controls actually goes to work. I suspect participation would be in the millions.

May 2, 2006

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate

Donald B. Hawthorne

The clarity of many public policy debates gets derailed when the sloppy and imprecise use of words reduces such debates to cliches instead of a substantive discussion of issues. Recent developments in the immigration debate are merely the latest example. The result has been a focus on the wrong issues. More importantly, by having no connection to the principles underlying the American Founding, the public discourse on immigration has not led to a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be an American citizen.

As an example, our friends on the Left at Rhode Island's Future show an interesting, albeit flawed, understanding of both the real issues underlying the immigration debate and its connection to our American heritage in their posting entitled America Doesn't Work without Immigrants:

Today, the police estimated that 15,000-20,000 Rhode Islanders marched to the RI State House for the human rights of the 12-15 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the shadows and only seek a legal pathway to citizenship. Just as millions of Americans marched for the civil rights of African-Americans while others in America expressed their disgust at giving civil rights to 'inferior' African-Americans, the struggle for dignity and justice continues to ensure the great promise of freedom enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.


Is the immigration debate really about "only seeking a legal pathway to citizenship" by people who love America and, thus, long to be officially a part of her? Information in previous postings by Andrew (here, here) and Marc would certainly suggest not.

Extensive coverage of the May 1 illegal immigration marches by Michelle Malkin only raises further questions about who is behind many of the rallies:

A Day to Hate the Yanquis
The Pictures You Won't See
Borders? What Borders?
The Day to Hate Republicans
L.A.'s Reconquista Reporter
[UPDATE: Here are some more links:
Where's the Compassion?
Reconquista 101
Calling White People "Wetbacks?"
Aztlan brown beret picture, showing a map of the Southwest USA becoming part of Mexico
Following all the links in these postings will be an eye-opener]

So do postings at Malkin's The Immigration Blog. The April 10 posting reminds us that the freedom to assemble does not exist in other countries who receive less criticism at these rallies than America. What does that say about the protestors' political agenda?

Lovers of the late communist guerilla Che and socialist groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. are the antithesis of freedom-loving Americans and they appear to be commandeering the illegal alien protest movement in many parts of the country. These are not people who love America and the timeless principles of her Founding.

Others who promote the same immigration political agenda need to be careful about aligning themselves with (or being manipulated by) such non-democrats.

Byron York reminds us that labor unions are intimately involved because it aligns with their own economic self-interest of growing union membership - even if the immigration policies they end up supporting run counter to both the rule of law and America's Founding principles:

UNITE HERE, which represents about 460,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada but hopes to unionize millions of newly arrived, low-paid, unskilled immigrant workers, played a major role in organizing the Washington rally, as well as other pro-illegal-immigration events across the country...

The chief organizer and spokesman of the Washington rally was a man named Jaime Contreras, who heads the local SEIU chapter...

SEIU and UNITE HERE, along with a few others like the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, are key sources of money, talent, and organization in the nationwide campaign to legalize illegal immigrants.

The Chamber of Commerce deserves some criticism, too, for its implicit support of illegal aliens as "cheap labor" in the workforce, although their involvement has been more passive than the unions.

Determining who is behind many of the rallies and identifying their political agenda is a real issue that needs more public scrutiny.


It is an insult to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. to suggest that this week's protests have any moral basis comparable to King's efforts on behalf of black Americans.

Mark Krikorian elaborates on why:

The question now is whether the government of the United States will give in to the mob...

...the use of direct action to intimidate lawmakers is largely alien to American experience. The civil-rights marches, which the illegal-alien movement frequently points to as its inspiration, were explicitly patriotic and constitutional affairs. The 1963 march on Washington didn't feature foreign flags and racist, anti-American signs; on the contrary, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech pointed to the promise of "the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence," written by "the architects of our Republic," and his peroration was based on the lyrics of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee."

The illegal-alien marches, starting almost two months ago in Chicago, have more in common with the anti-war marches of the 1960s in their hostility to the American constitutional order...

It is equally absurd to use meaningless cliches and label every political cause a "civil rights issue" - a behavior that can only result from a superficial understanding of the principles underlying the American Founding as well as King's just crusade.


I would strongly suggest that Heather Mac Donald's mid-April viewpoint expressed in Postmodern "Rights" en Los Estados Unidos: "I am here," so deal with it more accurately describes what many of us consider to be a major - but unaddressed - issue in this immigration debate: Does the rule of law, a core principle of the American Founding, still matter in America?

With last month's mass demonstrations of illegal aliens, the United States has entered the era of postmodern rights. The protesters looked like conventional rights demonstrators, with their raised fists, chants, and banners. But unlike political protesters of the past, the illegal-alien marchers invoked no legal basis for their claims. Their argument boils down to: "We are here, therefore we have a right to the immigration status we desire." Like the postmodern signifier, this legal claim refers to nothing outside of itself; it is, in the jargon of deconstruction, a presence based on an absence.

The consequences of this novel argument are not insignificant: the demise of nation-states and of the rule of law. Remember: The only basis for the illegals' demands is: "I am here." The "I am here" argument could be made by anyone anywhere - a Moroccan sneaking into Sweden could make the same demand for legal status. In one stroke, the border-breaking lobby has nullified the entire edifice of American immigration law and with it, sovereignty itself. None of the distinctions in that law matter, the advocates say. The conditions for legal entry? Null and void. The democratically chosen priorities for who may enter the country and who not? Give me a break! In other words, the United States has no right to decide who may come across its borders and what legal status an alien may obtain upon arrival. Those decisions remain solely the prerogative of the alien himself. The border no longer exists.

The American legal tradition has until now assumed that it takes a congressional enactment or a judicial ruling to overturn a duly enacted law. With the ubiquitous chant, "No person is illegal," first popularized by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney, that tradition is over. Pace Cardinal Mahoney, under existing immigration law, a person may in fact be "illegal," if he has broken into the country without permission or has overstayed his visa. Mahoney and the hordes who have taken up the "No person is illegal" slogan beg to differ. No law has the power to confer illegal status on an alien law-breaker, they say. Therefore, the existing laws are void, simply because the illegal aliens and their supporters do not like them, not because Congress has decided to withdraw them. This alleged power to overturn laws based on sheer presence is a remarkable new constitutional development.

Efforts to analogize the illegal-alien protests to the civil-rights movement are ludicrous. Blacks were demanding that state governments end the unlawful deprivation of rights that they already possessed under the Constitution, and for which the nation had fought a traumatic civil war. The illegals are claiming rights to which by law they have no right and for which they can make no legal argument whatsoever. If their movement succeeds, it will not be possible to deny any future rights claims in any sphere of life or activity...

[UPDATE: Rick Moran makes similar points here:

...a difference that the Open Borders crew refuses to acknowledge and, in fact, obfuscates in order to tag their opponents as heartless gorgons. It is the difference between those who endure the bureaucratic rigmarole and long waiting periods to legally enter this country and those who take the sometimes perilous but nevertheless easier way by sneaking across the border in defiance of the law.

In truth, this is the club used by the pro-illegal lobby to beat enforcement advocates over the head. By successfully blurring the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, they can portray those who support a rational immigration policy as ideological soul mates of the "Know Nothing" anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic party of the early 1850's...

Almost 1 million people enter this country as legal immigrants every year...There are very, very few enforcement advocates who begrudge these potential citizens their rights under the law...most pro-enforcement advocates actually support increased legal immigration.

But you would never know this if the only information you received was from the pro-illegal groups. They have successfully portrayed the anti-illegal lobby as anti-immigration - both legal and illegal - as well as proponents of a draconian "round-up" of illegals that would tear families apart and turn the United States into a police state...

On the other hand, how often do you read about International ANSWER and how they have expropriated the reform movement for their own nefarious ends? Those May Day protests were largely organized by the communists in ANSWER while being opposed by more mainstream immigration groups. In fact, few pro-reform websites bothered to inform their readers of this very salient point.

We will not have meaningful immigration reform until we all agree that the United States is a sovereign country with recognizable borders that must be defended. That defense includes shutting the door on people who would break the law to come here. It is such a basic concept that it is mystifying why the pro-illegal lobby deliberately ignores it. At times, they seem almost embarrassed by the fact that the United States has a right to determine who comes here and who doesn't as well as determining its own requirements for citizenship.

In the end, this is what "sovereignty" is all about; the belief that being born an American is a privilege beyond words and that becoming an American should also be a privilege, earned by a legal immigrant's hard work, obedience of the law, and desire to be a part of this grand experiment in self-government.

Anything less and you cheapen the idea of citizenship for everyone.

Michelle Malkin has more in Reconquista is real.]


There is another way to look at the immigration issues that is consistent with a love of liberty and a belief in self-government - both core American principles. Peter Schramm of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs writes about this alternative view in describing his family's immigration to the United States from Communist Hungary following the failed 1956 revolution in Born American, but in the Wrong Place:

...Now, with the revolution failing, came the final straw for my Dad...He came home and announced to my mother that that was it. He said he was going to leave the country...

"But where are we going?" [Peter Schramm] asked [his father].

"We are going to America," my father said.

"Why America?" I prodded.

"Because, son. We were born Americans, but in the wrong place," he replied.

My father said that as naturally as if I had asked him what was the color of the sky. It was so obvious to him why we should head for America. There was really no other option in his mind. What was obvious to him, unfortunately, took me nearly 20 years to learn. But then, I had to "un-learn" a lot of things along the way. How is it that this simple man who had none of the benefits or luxuries of freedom and so-called "education" understood this truth so deeply and so purely and expressed it so beautifully? It has something to do with the self-evidence, as Jefferson put it, of America's principles. Of course, he hadn't studied Jefferson or America's Declaration of Independence, but he had come to know deep in his heart the meaning of tyranny. And he hungered for its opposite. The embodiment of those self-evident truths and of justice in America was an undeniable fact to souls suffering under oppression. And while a professor at Harvard might have scoffed at the idea of American justice in 1956 (or today, for that matter), my Dad would have scoffed at him. Such a person, Dad would say, had never suffered in a regime of true injustice. America represented to my Dad, as Lincoln put it, "the last, best hope of earth."

I would like to be able to say that this made Dad a remarkable man for his time and his circumstance. For, in many ways, Dad truly is a wonder. But this is not one of them. He was not remarkable in this understanding. Everybody in Hungary, at least everybody who wasn't a true believer in the Communists. thought that way...

Continue reading "Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate"

Identifying Four Core Issues Underlying the Immigration Debate

Donald B. Hawthorne

The clarity of many public policy debates gets derailed when the sloppy and imprecise use of words reduces such debates to cliches instead of a substantive discussion of issues. Recent developments in the immigration debate are merely the latest example. The result has been a focus on the wrong issues. More importantly, by having no connection to the principles underlying the American Founding, the public discourse on immigration has not led to a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be an American citizen.

As an example, our friends on the Left at Rhode Island's Future show an interesting, albeit flawed, understanding of both the real issues underlying the immigration debate and its connection to our American heritage in their posting entitled America Doesn't Work without Immigrants:

Today, the police estimated that 15,000-20,000 Rhode Islanders marched to the RI State House for the human rights of the 12-15 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the shadows and only seek a legal pathway to citizenship. Just as millions of Americans marched for the civil rights of African-Americans while others in America expressed their disgust at giving civil rights to 'inferior' African-Americans, the struggle for dignity and justice continues to ensure the great promise of freedom enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.


Is the immigration debate really about "only seeking a legal pathway to citizenship" by people who love America and, thus, long to be officially a part of her? Information in previous postings by Andrew (here, here) and Marc would certainly suggest not.

Extensive coverage of the May 1 illegal immigration marches by Michelle Malkin only raises further questions about who is behind many of the rallies:

A Day to Hate the Yanquis
The Pictures You Won't See
Borders? What Borders?
The Day to Hate Republicans
L.A.'s Reconquista Reporter
[UPDATE: Here are some more links:
Where's the Compassion?
Reconquista 101
Calling White People "Wetbacks?"
Aztlan brown beret picture, showing a map of the Southwest USA becoming part of Mexico
Following all the links in these postings will be an eye-opener]

So do postings at Malkin's The Immigration Blog. The April 10 posting reminds us that the freedom to assemble does not exist in other countries who receive less criticism at these rallies than America. What does that say about the protestors' political agenda?

Lovers of the late communist guerilla Che and socialist groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. are the antithesis of freedom-loving Americans and they appear to be commandeering the illegal alien protest movement in many parts of the country. These are not people who love America and the timeless principles of her Founding.

Others who promote the same immigration political agenda need to be careful about aligning themselves with (or being manipulated by) such non-democrats.

Byron York reminds us that labor unions are intimately involved because it aligns with their own economic self-interest of growing union membership - even if the immigration policies they end up supporting run counter to both the rule of law and America's Founding principles:

UNITE HERE, which represents about 460,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada but hopes to unionize millions of newly arrived, low-paid, unskilled immigrant workers, played a major role in organizing the Washington rally, as well as other pro-illegal-immigration events across the country...

The chief organizer and spokesman of the Washington rally was a man named Jaime Contreras, who heads the local SEIU chapter...

SEIU and UNITE HERE, along with a few others like the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, are key sources of money, talent, and organization in the nationwide campaign to legalize illegal immigrants.

The Chamber of Commerce deserves some criticism, too, for its implicit support of illegal aliens as "cheap labor" in the workforce, although their involvement has been more passive than the unions.

Determining who is behind many of the rallies and identifying their political agenda is a real issue that needs more public scrutiny.


It is an insult to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. to suggest that this week's protests have any moral basis comparable to King's efforts on behalf of black Americans.

Mark Krikorian elaborates on why:

The question now is whether the government of the United States will give in to the mob...

...the use of direct action to intimidate lawmakers is largely alien to American experience. The civil-rights marches, which the illegal-alien movement frequently points to as its inspiration, were explicitly patriotic and constitutional affairs. The 1963 march on Washington didn't feature foreign flags and racist, anti-American signs; on the contrary, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech pointed to the promise of "the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence," written by "the architects of our Republic," and his peroration was based on the lyrics of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee."

The illegal-alien marches, starting almost two months ago in Chicago, have more in common with the anti-war marches of the 1960s in their hostility to the American constitutional order...

It is equally absurd to use meaningless cliches and label every political cause a "civil rights issue" - a behavior that can only result from a superficial understanding of the principles underlying the American Founding as well as King's just crusade.


I would strongly suggest that Heather Mac Donald's mid-April viewpoint expressed in Postmodern "Rights" en Los Estados Unidos: "I am here," so deal with it more accurately describes what many of us consider to be a major - but unaddressed - issue in this immigration debate: Does the rule of law, a core principle of the American Founding, still matter in America?

With last month's mass demonstrations of illegal aliens, the United States has entered the era of postmodern rights. The protesters looked like conventional rights demonstrators, with their raised fists, chants, and banners. But unlike political protesters of the past, the illegal-alien marchers invoked no legal basis for their claims. Their argument boils down to: "We are here, therefore we have a right to the immigration status we desire." Like the postmodern signifier, this legal claim refers to nothing outside of itself; it is, in the jargon of deconstruction, a presence based on an absence.

The consequences of this novel argument are not insignificant: the demise of nation-states and of the rule of law. Remember: The only basis for the illegals' demands is: "I am