Category Archives: Immigration

On Hating Brown People

English: United States Supreme Court building ...

English: United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., USA. Front facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Supreme Court yesterday pretty much eviscerated Arizona’s harsh immigration law, SB 1070. According to the Court, there were four major provisions in that law for review:

Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor; §5(C) makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; §6 authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person “the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States”; and §2(B) requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government.

The Supremes voided §§ 3, 5(C), and 6, saying they preempted the federal government’s power in that area granted by Congress. Regarding §2(B), the Court held:

It is not clear at this stage and on this record that §2(B), in practice, will require state officers to delay the release of detainees for no reason other than to verify their immigration status. This would raise constitutional concerns. And it would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision. But §2(B) could be read to avoid these concerns. If the law only requires state officers to conduct a status check during the course of an authorized, lawful detention or after a detainee has been released, the provision would likely survive preemption—at least absent some showing that it has other consequences that are adverse to federal law and its objectives. Without the benefit of a definitive in- terpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to as- sume §2(B) will be construed in a way that conflicts with federal law. Cf. Fox v. Washington, 236 U. S. 273, 277. This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.

Essentially, the Court said that, since the law hasn’t gone into effect yet, they can’t void it. But it stated that, if the police were only conducting a status check on someone during their lawful detention for another matter, it would probably be ok. But once the law goes into effect, the Court can look at it again.

Where does this law come from? Why this hatred of brown people? I suppose this could be asked of any new group that seeks refuge in a country that was built on immigration. The original Germans from the Rheinpfalz who came here in the late 1700s and later became the

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24:  (L-R) Arizona stat...

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: (L-R) Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo; Russell Pearce, sponsor of the controversial immigration law Arizona SB 1070; former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, and Todd Landfried testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing entitled ‘Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law’ prior to the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments on the legislation tomorrow. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Pennsylvania Dutch and the Amish must have been looked down on by the colonists. I must imagine that the incoming  German immigrants that reached tidal wave status in the latter half of the 1800s had to be an object of scorn. Clearly, the Irish, fleeing the killing potato famine and desperate to feed themselves and their families were vilified. Here we have clear evidence, with signs and advertisements in newspapers  that stated “No Irish Need Apply.” The Jews who came here were characterized as big-nosed monsters, and described sometimes as practicing rites requiring them to drink the blood of  Christian infants. Italians, whose wave began in the early 1900s, were characterized as thieves and sneaks. Essentially, any new group coming to these shores to seek the American dream has been vilified and put upon during their early years.

Part of the problem people already here had with immigrants was their reluctance to speak English (one of the more difficult languages in the world to conquer) and their tendency to stay together in neighborhoods, or ghettos. In my own family I know that my great-great grandmother, born in 1870 to immigrant parents from the Rheinpfalz, spoke German only as a child and went to German schools in a community now known as Lindenhurst but then called Breslau, after the second largest city in Prussia before the end of World War II. Why is it so frightening to many conservative Americans that modern immigrants from Mexico are more comfortable speaking Spanish? These people get exercised if a ballot is written in both languages. I sometimes wonder if they’re like my great-uncle Jerry, who honestly believed that when people were conversing in a foreign language around him, they were talking about him. The arrogance was, and is, mind boggling. And these same people come up with horrendous legislation in return.

English: Photo of Kris Kobach

English: Photo of Kris Kobach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The people who write these laws (Russell Pearce in Arizona, and most especially the Attorney General of Kansas, Kris Kobach, who drafted that legislation and others around the country) that clearly intend to make life a living hell for the undocumented are invariably white conservatives. Their fear is that ‘their’ nation will not be theirs any more, that the reign of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant is over. But rather than welcoming the newcomers and helping them assimilate, they lash out at them. Epithets are spewed, positions are taken (in the name of protecting the country) and outrageous ideas are seriously entertained. Does anyone actually believe that we’re going to wall off the southern boundary of our country and that will solve the problem?

In fifty years we will look back on this time and wonder how our fellow countrymen (and women) could have been so stupid. Because in the current 11 million undocumented people exist doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, university professors, and business creators. Take a look at this list to see what immigrants can do for this country:

Immigrants on the Forbes 400

The Forbes 400 is a list published by Forbes magazine of the richest 400 Americans. It was first published in 1982. It is ranked by net worth and is published annually in September and 2010 marks the 29th issue. In the Forbes 400, there are 35 individuals who are immigrants. Here is a comprehensive list of these immigrants, including their nationality, net worth, age, organization, title and source of wealth (arranged by net worth).

Name Nationality Net Worth Age Organization Title Source
Sergey Brin Russia $19.8 B 37 Google Co-Founder Google; Self-made
George Soros Hungary $14.5 B 80 Quantum Fund Founder Hedge funds; Self-made
Leonard Blavatnik Russia $10.1 B 53 Access Industries Founder; Chairman; President Access Industries; Self-made
Rupert Murdoch Australia $7.6 B 80 News Corp. CEO News Corp; Self-made
Pierre Omidyar France $6.7 B 43 Ebay Founder; Chairman Ebay; Self-made
Micky Arison Israel $5.9 B 61 Carnival Corporation CEO Carnival Cruises; Inherited and growing
Patrick Soon-Shiong South Africa $5.2 B 59 Abraxis BioScience Founder; Chairman and CEO Generic drugs; Self-made
Roger Wang China $4.2 B 62 The Golden Eagle International Group Chairman; CEO Retail; Self-made
Victor Fung China $3.55 B 65 Li & Fung Group Chairman Retail; Self-made
Robert Friedland Canada $3.4 B 60 Ivanhoe Mines, Inc. Executive Chairman; CEO Mining; Self-made
Haim Saban Egypt $3.4 B 66 Media Proprietor Media Proprietor Television; Self-made
Barbara Piasecka Johnson Poland $2.9 B 74 Johnson & Johnson None Johnson & Johnson; Inherited
Steven Ferencz Udvar-Házy Hungary $2.8 B 65 Air Lease Corp. CEO International Lease Finance; Self-made
Edgar Miles Bronfman Canada $2.6 B 81 Inherited None Seagram’s liquor; Inherited and growing
John Catsimatidis row 16, column 2 $2.6 B 69 Kingston Technology President; Co-Founder Computer memory; Self-made
David Sun Taiwan $2.6 B 59 Kingston Techonology Co- Founder Computer memory; Self-made
John Tu Taiwan $2.6 B 69 Kingston Technology President; Co-Founder Computer memory; Self-made
Igor Olenicoff Russia $2.5 B 68 Olen Properties Founder Real estate; Self-made
Nicolas Berggruen France $2.2 B 49 Berggruen Holdings Founder; President Investments; Inherited and growing
Bharat Desai Kenya $2.2 B 58 Syntel CEO; Chairman Syntel; Self-made
Mortimer Benjamin Zuckerman Canada $2.1 B 73 Boston Properties Co-Founder Real estate; Media; Self-made
Min Kao Taiwan $1.7 B 62 Garmin Corporation Co-Founder Navigation equipment; Self-made
Alexander Rovt Ukraine $1.7 B 58 IBE Trade Corp President Fertilizer; Self-made
James Kim Korea $1.6 B 75 Amkor Electronics Executive chairman Microchips; Inherited and growing
Eduardo Saverin Brazil $1.6 B 29 Facebook Co-founder Facebook, Self-made
Evgeny Markovich Shvidler Russia $1.6 B 47 Millhouse, LLC Chairman Millhouse LLC, self-made
Kavitark Ram Shriram India $1.6 B 54 Google Co-Founder Venture capital; Google; Self-made
Peter Andreas Thiel Germany $1.5 B 43 Paypal Co-Founder; Former CEO Paypal; Facebook; Self-made
Vinod Khosla India $1.4 B 56 Khosla Ventures Founder Sun Microsystems; Venture capital; Self-made
Thomas Peterffy Hungary $1.4 B 66 Interactive Brokers Group Founder; CEO Interactive Brokers Group; Self-made
Romesh T. Wadhwani India $1.4 B 63 Symphony Technology Group Founder; Chairman Software; Self-made
Alexander Knaster Russia $1.3 B 52 Pamplona Capital Management Director Oil; Telecom; Banking; Self-made
Michael Moritz Wales $1.3 B 56 Sequoia Capital Partner Venture capital; Self-made
Jerry Yang Taiwan $1.3 B 42 Yahoo Co-founder; Former CEO Yahoo; Self-made
C. Dean Metropoulos Greece $1.2 B 64 C. Dean Metropoulos & Co Executive Chairman Investments; Self-made

Data was obtained from Forbes.com.

The picture painted by most conservatives is that Hispanic immigrants (read Mexicans) are lazy, shiftless, money-grubbing leaches who come here only to get on welfare, take away jobs from deserving Americans, have their babies here to gain citizenship, and take advantage of our health care system by clogging emergency rooms everywhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. These immigrants want to work, they want to be part of this country. And here in Nevada, it’s an even greater irony, because they are emigrating to a land that was theirs for centuries before we took it away from them.

Hatreds die hard, but they find it difficult to survive in a person if they meet the object of their scorn and find them human like themselves.


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Filed under Hatred, Human rights, Immigrant, Immigration, Immigration reform, Police, Politics, Supreme Court

Dog Days of Summer Starting Earlier?

John Roberts - Caricature

John Roberts – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Here it is, June 22, and the days are starting to get shorter again. The heat is up in the east, and it’s settling in nicely in the west for its long summer run. Normally, things slow down come August, but it appears the dog days are starting earlier this year, especially for us bloggers.

Look at politics. Chief Justice John Roberts has signaled, by actually saying nothing, that the SCOTUS will probably go into overtime on finalizing its opinion on the Health Care law. If it’s another 5-4 decision split exactly according to the politics of the appointing president (i.e.: the 5 votes belong to justices appointed by Republican presidents, etc.), then summer could start heating up pretty quickly. It might be that an issue that affects all of us, and which almost half of us oppose (the bill in general) but less than 40% support it, being decided by a single vote could truly put many noses out of joint. It would be to the country’s advantage if the justices were able to decide 6-3 or 7-2. But as of today it’s all quiet on the Potomac.

Mitt Robme is said to be softening his views on immigration. That is, he’s willing to consider granting green cards to immigrants who serve in the military. That’s sweet, but it is like Caligula deciding to spare a Christian in the Coliseum because the emperor felt he’d do well in the Pretorian guard. Robme’s thinking simply excludes any immigrants who won’t serve. So the Republican grand plan to deal with the 11 million Hispanics in the country without documents is to allow those who can join the military to become citizens.

Mittster

Mittster (Photo credit: DoubleSpeak Media)

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a step, but even smaller than a baby step. Yes, it’s true that, based on the Social Security Administrations analysis of the age groups of undocumented immigrants, most are below thirty. So the question becomes, just how many of those young people can and will enlist? And that’s where we left the Mittster, trying to score points with Hispanics by softening his originally razor-sharp opposition to those people he assumed would “self-deport” when they couldn’t get jobs here.

The Roman Catholic Church is quiet today, too. No more scandals about child abuse have been reported, no chants of Catholic-bashing, and no Vatican tongue-lashings for nuns are evident. We must thank God for that. I’m sure She’s taking a breather, too.

For a blogger, this is slim pickings. There’s no really juicy story to respond to or to explain. Maybe it’s good that it comes at the end of the work week, when I can recharge my batteries with two days off.

Let’s hope for more scandal and false pieties next week!

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Hispanic, Hypocrisy, Immigration, Immigration reform, Politics, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Supreme Court

On Immigrants and Vaginas

Marco Rubio - Caricature

Marco Rubio – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Last Friday, President Barack Obama apparently stole Mitt Romney’s thunder by announcing a version of the Dream ActLite. Ordering the Department of Homeland Security to not deport children of immigrant parents up to the age of 30 and allowing them to apply for a work permit is a

Mitt Romney - Caricature

Mitt Romney – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

major step forward, even when many would hope for the whole enchilada of immigration reform. According to news reports, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) was supposed to be working on the conservative version of the Dream Act, which Mitt Romney had agreed to support in public to show he could actually take a stand on an issue and reach out to the Hispanic voters he alienated during the silly season this past year. But Sen. Rubio dillied and dallied and failed to produce any product for months, leaving the Mittster  with nothing to stand behind. I don’t know if the White House knew of this plan, but it certainly scuppered it. And when Bob Schieffer asked Mr. Robme five times during a CBS interview whether he would revoke the order if elected, sure enough he (Shieffer) got no direct answer.

Rubio also had the arrogance and/or audacity to complain that Obama derailed his version of the Dream Act. He said that the President never called him to discuss this development or involved him in the planning. Now, call me stupid, but I have never seen it written that a sitting president should consult with a junior senator in his second year on matters of national importance. Obama’s directive to DHS can certainly be considered a political move, a huge outreach to the sensibilities of the Hispanic voters of this country. Rubio does not represent those sensibilities. He is the American-born son of Cuban parents who emigrated to the United States in 1956, when Fulgencio Battista was Cuba’s leader. They travelled back and forth between the two countries until 1959, when Castro came to power, and they decided to move to the US permanently. Rubio was born in Miami, Florida, and the Cuban community there was known for years for being ultra-conservative. The vast majority of Mexican immigrants did not have Sen. Rubio’s experience, nor do they support him today, as he has turned out to be a conservative beacon. Univision, the Spanish-language television station, ran an interview with Rubio that was, to say the least, combative.

The positive result of this kerfluffle is the news that both parties were working on doing something about the immigration mess in this country. It was a hell of a lot easier for my great-great grandfather to emigrate from Germany in 1850 than it is today. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

But the immigration mess is only the latest example of ways that American politicians deal with issues poorly. See what Amanda Marcotte, in  Slate’s Double XX Factor: What Women Really Think  had to say about the appropriateness of language in politics:

I personally want to thank the Republicans in the state House of Michigan for banning two female Democrats last week for their temerity to testify against the mega-bill trying to run abortion providers out of the state. With state Rep. Lisa Brown, it appears that the concern was she used language that Rep. Mike Callton called inappropriate for “mixed company,” aka the word vagina, which is apparently so filthy a term it must not touch the ears, much less the lips of ladies. I usually have to build a careful case that opposition to abortion is based not in any concern for fetal life, but instead in a prudish and sexist hatred of female sexuality and fear of female empowerment. This week, Michigan Republicans did that work for me. So I want to offer my thanks.

How is it possible that Republican legislators can write some of the most obscene legislation that would extend state control over women’s bodies, but can’t bear to hear the word “vagina” in mixed company? The hypocrisy is suffocating me. I thought the response, a public presentation of The Vagina Monologues by Rep. Lisa Brown on the steps of the Michigan capital was spot-on. And I hope this shakes more women out of their torpor and makes them angry at a political party that would seek to extend male hegemony back to the level it was when it could truthfully be said to be a man’s world.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Hispanic, Human rights, Hypocrisy, Immigration, Immigration reform, Philosophy, Politics, Women's rights

Ignatz Joseph Stoll

Ignatz Joseph Stoll

This is my great-great grandfather. He arrived from the Rheinpfalz in the summer of 1850. Five years later he applied for citizenship. Like all immigrants of that time, you could come here, get a job, work for 5 years, and then apply for naturalization. There were no such things as passports or quotas. And when a man was naturalized, his wife was naturalized, too. She had to file no papers. This is how the great wave of German immigrants, the largest immigrant group in this country, became Americans. Why can’t we do this again?

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June 13, 2012 · 1:37 pm

No-Nothings Demonstrate Benefits of Willful Ignorance

All Children.  One Love.Image by Keoni Cabral via Flickr

Back in the 1840s and 50s a group of like-minded Americans formed a political party named the No-Nothings. Membership was restricted to Protestant males over the age of 21. Originating in 1842 and calling themselves the American Republican Party (funny how that word ‘republican’ sticks like glue to bigotry). Members weren’t allowed to talk about the party’s activities, so when anyone was asked about it, they were supposed to answer, “I know nothing.”

They were a nativist political movement, which meant
Image via Wikipedia that, very much like the present GOP, they feared being overwhelmed by immigrants. At the time the immigrants were from Ireland and Germany, and to make matters worse they were Catholic! Of course, we all know today that those Irish and German immigrants–who only had to live in the United States for 5 years before they co
uld apply for full citizenship–became fervent Americans. Their descendants are probably the same people who are full of hatred and fear of the latest wave of immigrants to come to this country.

As you know I am talking of Hispanic people, but most especially Mexicans. With a little computer savvy today’s No-Nothings could easily edit the signs that faced our Irish ancestors: No Irish Need Apply. Because Mexicans often tend to have browner skin color, the No-Nothings feel they can pick them out of a crowd and make life as difficult as possible for these people, who came here to search for a dream like all of our ancestors did.

What is remarkable is how many No-Nothings have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. This means that a significant portion of No-Nothings make up the Do-Nothing Congress. So we have people who don’t seem to care that our fellow Americans are hurting badly, can’t get work, are losing their homes, and may lose their health care.

I would venture to guess that almost all the No-Nothings are Christians, but with Pilates’ soul. A more crass, hypocritical group would be hard to find. Who among you would be willing to hold up aid to Americans made homeless by hurricane and flood? Who would have the nerve to suggest that poor people simply give up health insurance as a cost-saving measure for the country? Who still thinks the Civil War hasn’t ended? The No-Nothings of the Do-Nothing Congress!

These same No-Nothing/Do-Nothing representatives of the people are content to pay for two expensive wars on a U.S. credit card, but disdain to extend unemployment benefits to people thrown out of work by the economic tsunami created by Wall Street and its never-ending greed to more money. Not only are they unwilling to help their countrymen, but they sneer at them for being in their situation.

It is time to stand up to the No-Nothings and point out what they are: people not fit to bear the name American. It’s time to throw them out of the Congress, the state houses, and the local councils. This country needs a resurgence of Americanhood, where we expect to help each other and get a fair shake from every governmental agency we encounter.

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Filed under Immigration, Immigration reform

Wanting Immigration Reform While Cracking Down

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia

Last week President Obama seemed to suggest that both he and Congress lacked the willpower to overhaul this nation’s immigration laws. He’s now backtracked on that thought, saying he wants Congress to start working on the reform of our immigration system this year.
It’s hard to have the same faith in his latest insistence because he raised hopes so high before his election. Oh, I know, politicians promise the world and come through with plates of crumbs. When I was in high school this guy running for student council president promised that he would get us a portable amphitheater for the playing field. We actually believed him! (I wonder where he is now, or if he’s doing time somewhere.) So I learned early that political promises are like snowflakes, melted and gone before you get home.
But I so wanted to believe him because he made so much sense. It’s crazy to think we’re going to send 11 million people home, and even crazier to think they’re going to stay there. Why do you think they came here in the first place? Because even with the lousy treatment and pittance of a salary, it’s still better here than what they have in their country of origin.

We don’t remember why our original ancestors came to these shores, but I would bet it’s for the same reason. And those original ancestors suffered the same type of discrimination that Hispanic immigrants (and let’s not kid ourselves with that general phrase because the animus is directed toward Mexicans today) are suffering today. There used to be signs saying “No Irish Need Apply.” People used to be up in arms that German families continued to speak their native language at home. Italians were horribly stereotyped as thieves and worse. As for the Jews, well, they’ve been persecuted for thousands of years.
I’d like to believe Obama means what he says. But it’s difficult when his administration is cracking down on immigrants and deporting them in large numbers. How can the president care about immigration reform when his deputies are breaking up families by deporting fathers and mothers every day? You can’t have it both ways. If the president wants to overhaul the Rube Goldberg immigration system, then he should ease off the raids and deportations.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Hispanic, Immigration, Immigration reform