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.

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Let's all take a deep breath, sit back and see what happens when the Catholic Church DOESN'T march in lockstep with the conservative agenda.
Has Carcieri gotten on the horn to the Vatican yet and demanded Tobin's firing, if not excommunication?

Posted by: rhody at April 4, 2008 2:29 PM

You wrote "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". Maybe so, but it was an unlikely possibility until Don Benito Carcieri issued his fiat and precipitated a crisis.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at April 4, 2008 2:40 PM

It ain't a crisis for me. I'm legal.

Posted by: Greg at April 4, 2008 2:46 PM


What crisis? The governor has opened up the windows and all kinds of fresh air is blowing through this state and waking people up. Carcieri is gaining mojo/big political damage has been done to Cicilline and Roberts/Esserman has set himself up for huge problems by stating he'll defy federal and state law. To think we haven't even gotten to AG Pat Lynch and his views on the issue of illegal aliens and how our AG explains Esserman's ability to cherry pick the law when it comes to illegals.
What crisis? This is an awakening!

Posted by: Tim at April 4, 2008 3:28 PM

Trying to paint this as a legitimate immigration issue is an outright lie. The religious leaders know that yet continue to support the illegals. The truth is the illegals know full well what they are doing, have no intention of becoming citizens and will return to their native land when they have either made enough money to retire or are forced to leave. They are here to make money, plain and simple. It is an honorable goal met through dishonorable means. They will take everything offered to them.

Posted by: michael at April 4, 2008 3:39 PM

So do rank an file Union members support the Govornor on this? If so, what do they think of Pat Crowley's and I assume the NEA leadership's position of "I will not comply"??

Posted by: Red at April 4, 2008 4:31 PM

Michael-I notice that your posts are usually very well thought out,but my experience as an INS officer for many years made me realize that what you say is true in many cases,but absolutely not in others.I obviously don't condone violating the immigration laws,but I have noticed that many people,particularly from China,India,Russia and Africa come here to become Americans and raise their children as Americans-people from Latin America do so as well,but often tend to put off learning English.I had no problem learning Spanish.I amazed by the facility that Chinese people show in learning English and having modest pride in doing so.I know that I would have a HARD time learning Chinese.All I'm saying Michael is that one size does not fit all.Those people who don't want to assimilate should leave because Balkanization can destroy America.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 4, 2008 4:37 PM

Joe, you are on to me, I made that comment without putting any thought at all into it. I work in Providence and know and like the vast majority of people I come across regardless of their immigration status. Recent events with a few blatant con men jaded my response and comments. I'm seeing more and more abuse of a system that should work for all immigrants but is being manipulated and abused by a lot of people.

I often say that my immigrant great-grandparents, proud, hard working eventually successful people, if given the choice between hard work and sacrifice or state sponsored health care, subsidised housing, EBT cards for food and whatever else they could get would be first in line for the easier way of life. Generations would have suffered from their choices, maybe would still be suffering.

I know I'm on a bit of a rant, I just seem to be encountering more and more people content to let others do the heavy lifting.

And while I'm at it, Red, I could care less what the NEA or Pat Crowlwy have to say about the Governor's proposals. I just don't have time or space in my mind to sort it all out.

Posted by: michael at April 4, 2008 5:48 PM

(Oh, no. Everybody brace yourself for imminent digital retaliation to Michael's comment.)

"they could get would be first in line for the easier way of life. Generations would have suffered from their choices, maybe would still be suffering."

That's right. The point is that we are dealing with human nature. If it's there, a lot of us would take it. It's in part survival instinct.

But it can get taken too far. If they offered welfare to childless women, for example, I'd probably say, hey, this is all right. And I'd be four hundred pounds sitting on a sofa eating bon bons and watching daytime tv all day long. Not only would that be unhealthy but I'd be MISERABLE!

Posted by: Monique at April 4, 2008 9:24 PM

If things get so horribly bad here for you [illegal aliens] in Rhode Island, why not just bundle up for that long trek by foot over the Alps, to "freedom" in Massachusetts (the hills are alive, with the sound of music...).

Of course, you could also take a cab.

I don't think the Gov could state it anymore plainly. Taking away the incentive for illegal aliens to set up shop in Rhode Island IS the goal. It's a very reasonable one at that. If you want to personally fund them, great! But not with our money! People respond to incentives and disincentives. The reason why that is desirable is because they are costing the state a whole lot of money in so many different ways, at a time when our state's economy is at a tipping point. Legal = STAY, Illegal = GO.

The people in question, who are not even supposed to be here to begin with, made it several thousand miles from whatever country that they left to come settle here in Rhode Island -- probably in less than ideal conditions. They obviously did it for a reason. I don't think it's an onerous expectation to think they're plenty capable of moving a few miles down I-95, if they don't like it here.

The E.O. primarily concerns criminal aliens, such as those already incarcerated (so we don't release them back into the population), or whom have active warrants out on them. It also takes aim at making sure the state and its vendors aren't hiring illegals (like at the DMV for instance). It does not presently affect private employers who are not doing business with the state.

Not only isn't the governor going to rescind his order, but he could easily go a little bit further with it -- but it's a good start which I know has wide public support. As I've told others, you should never feel the need to apologize for being on the right side of a "90-10" public policy issue.

PS If you don't like what he's done so far, just wait... (I'm not going to give it away, just not yet).

PPS Hint: the next review of the state revenue forecast is coming out in May. Have a nice day. :)

Posted by: Will at April 5, 2008 1:27 AM

Michael-You made a great point-who gives a hoot in hell about what Pat Crowley,the NEA,Steven Brown,the ACLU,or Matt Jerzyk think?Or Bob Walsh for that matter?It's not as though they've done anything constructive that I could see.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2008 7:16 AM

Crowley should be happy- if we boot the illegals and their kids, his minions will finally get the small class sizes they're always crowing about.

Posted by: EMT at April 5, 2008 11:12 AM

If this big socialist state that Crowley,Jerzyk and their crowd seem to want ever materializes they'll be the first ones liquidated-the self-styled "intellectuals" are never trusted by the murderous people they bring to power-right after the Bolsheviks took over Russia they started getting rid of these types because they are troublemakers and never satisfied.The ones we have in Rhode Island seem to mostly live very comfortable lives-as I have said before- a bunch of brewpub revolutionaries.I wonder if Jerzyk was leading the charge at the statehouse?I know his pal Sara Mersha was there-how come no pots and pans?Oh,yeah-metal detectors.I almost forgot-Matt has law school-he wouldn't want to get arrested before he applied for admittance to the bar,would he?
Crowley instigates non-stop-the "let's you and him fight "syndrome-sort of like the Wolfowitz-Perle neocons he despises so much.Sometimes I think guys like him and Jerzyk and Rudy Cheeks are feeling guilty for not being poor,gay, a minority(a lousy term when you think about it),or an illegal alien.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2008 5:38 PM

Joe: Deep breath. Count to five. Would you like a puzzle?

Posted by: rhody at April 5, 2008 6:27 PM

Rhody-The crossword sounds nice.
What I said about who gets liquidated first,I'm not wrong.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2008 11:24 PM

I recommend everyone read the feature article in the Providence Phoenix, which gives the perspective of Stella Carrera and other (illegal) immigrant advocates. It also personalizes the story by detailing individual accounts of the process of becoming illegal immigrants in hopes of invoking sympathy. Personally, it only infuriates me.


Posted by: JP at April 7, 2008 12:08 PM
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