Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Tag
So you think that Airzona’s “Papers, Please” immigration law is no big deal and won’t lead to natural born U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent being persecuted?
Along comes the story of a Chicago man, born in Puerto Rico (making him a citizen of the United States), who was arrested last weekend. From the Huffington Post:
Despite presenting identifying documents and even his birth certificate, Caraballo was held by federal immigration authorities over the weekend and threatened with deportation, according to an NBC Chicago report. He was only released when his congressman, Luis Gutierrez — a vocal supporter of immigration reform — intervened on his behalf.
….Caraballo spent the weekend in the custody of federal immigration agents. When he presented them with ID and his birth certificate, he says officials were skeptical: “Because of the way I look, I have Mexican features, they pretty much assumed that my papers were fake.”
Any bets on how many U.S. citizens get deported from Arizona? Particularly in congressional districts represented by a Republican?
Why is it that the very idea of comprehensive immigration reform is such an onerous idea for those on the Right? It seems that they’d rather grouse about immigration and lament that illegal immigration is such a drag on our society, but when it comes to sitting down and doing the hard work to actually do something to solve the problem, they hem and haw and head for the hills.
The Democrats haven’t exactly been out front on the issue, either, but then again, until now they haven’t had the power to meaningfully address the issue. And while they haven’t officailly put it on the table, at least they don’t run away from it (not yet, anyway). Give credit too to George W. Bush for at least attempting to bring the issue to the fore, only to see his Republican friends in Congress scurry away from it like cockroaches. After all, we wouldn’t want them to actually tackle an issue that was hard, now, would we?
See, Republicans tend to see this as a very simple issue with pretty simple answers: More guns, more barriers, more muscle, more enforcement on the border. But it’s not that simple. Far from it. The enforcement only band-aid won’t fix our problems. Closing the borders and sealing it off so that no one gets in at all will only exacerbate the problem. And it’s wholly unrealistic. People who want to sneak in will still find ways to do so.
Arizona and (to a slightly lesser extent) California have a very serious problem and are in dire need of very serious solutions. The trouble is no one seems willing to do the heavy lifting required to find serious solutions. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been screaming for years for more federal attention, with some success; then again, it is a bit less of a challenge to patrol 140 miles of border than it is to patrol 351 miles of barren desert. But our senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, haven’t done enough to heed Schwarzenegger’s call and push the federal government to take serious action.
In Arizona, the former self-proclaimed “Maverick” turned political coward John McCain and his Arizona Senate colleague Jon Kyl used to be vocal proponents of comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform. They realized that their state was in a bad way, and at one time actually thought about doing something about it. But, as the Arizona Republic excoriates in their front page editorial this past weekend, they’ve both abandoned their supposed principles in favor of political expediency in order to pander to their extreme right-wing base. Solving a complex problem involves instituting some policies that are politically unpopular with the Republican base and plutonium for the Republican leadership, so it’s off limits.
Policies such as creating a path to citizenship for those already here. That way the U.S. government could document who’s here, conduct background checks on them to help ensure that the criminal element is kept in check, and separate the wheat from the chaff: It can then be presumed that those who actually register want to work toward citizenship and become productive members of our society. They can then have their status normalized, be able to legally find a job and pay taxes, be able to be monitored, and be set on a rigorous course to citizenship. Those who refuse to participate or don’t measure up in the background check can be assumed to be here for less than honorable reasons, and thus can be deported when caught.
Policies like streamlining and simplifying the process to immigrate legally. We have the technology now to do this and make it unnecessary for so many to risk their lives to cross illegally and live their lives on the lam when they get here. The reason so many do it is because the process as it stands is so difficult and cumbersome and horribly inefficient. It takes years, sometimes decades to come here legally through the system, and these folks simply don’t have that kind of time. Speed it up and give them hope that they can go through proper channels. Allowing them to come here legally ensures that they can pay their taxes and not simply leech off of our society. Background checks and government scrutiny will help to filter out the bad seeds from those looking to come in earnest.
Policies like creating a guest worker program so that migrant workers can come and work in the fields or at other seasonal jobs, and then be free to return home having earned enough money to provide for their families and without the worry of not being able to cross back into the U.S. for the next round. Many of those here illegally would go back if they could, but because of the difficulties and dangers they face in crossing the border northward, once they’re here they’re stuck. And the simple fact is that our farms and industries need them and their services.
Reforming our immigration system would also reduce the migrants’ need to rely on the drug traffickers and gun runners that have made life such a living hell and has put so many migrants into indentured servitude, and that has made life so miserable and frightening for so many living in what would otherwise be quiet, safe neighborhoods. By taking away the power of the drug cartels to traffic in human suffering, we diminish their power to terrorize our neighborhoods.
And then there’s the unthinkable policies that would tighten and strengthen our gun laws in an effort to make it as near to impossible as we can for the cartels to arm themselves to the teeth on this side of the border with all manner of advanced weaponry that allows them to outgun the Mexican authorities who are attempting to curtail their reign of terror in the border region. Authorities have determined that Houston is the number one source of weapons for the drug cartels, accounting for nearly 90 percent of the weapons seized between 2007 and 2008.
The ATF is stepping up its efforts to track the sources of weapons, spreading their new eTrace system into U.S. consulates in Mexico and providing access to Mexican authorities in an effort to track the sources of cartel weapons, and has concluded that the problem of supply lies on the northern side of the border. It was guns from the U.S. that were used in the massacre at an Acapulco resort in 2007. Mexican authorities have practically begged U.S. authorities to clamp down on the gun trade, but the gun rights advocates will have none of it. They apparently don’t understand, or just plain don’t care, that their insistence on their right to own any kind of sub-machine gun or high-powered rifle that rapid fires rounds more akin to artillery shells than more conventional bullets is what is enabling the cartels to do what they do and how they do it. Cut off the supply of guns, and you emasculate their ability to control the border region through terror.
Solving our immigration problem will be hard work, and will involve enacting a lot of policies that may not be politically popular. But that’s what we sent our representatives to Washington for; to do what needs to be done, not what’s politically popular or expedient. It’s time to stop crying about it and start doing something about it. It’s time for the Republicans to stop trying to make a very complex and complicated issue into a simple matter of enforcement. It’s time for the Democrats to get off their collective asses and work to solve another difficult problem.
It’s time for President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to follow through on their pledge to worry more about solving problems than winning elections. Fix what’s broken and the elections will take care of themselves.
UPDATE: Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who was arrested this past weekend at an immigration rally outside the White House for “failure to obey a lawful order from a U.S. Park policeman,” on with Keith Olbermann this evening discussing proposals he intends to advance in Congress:
The Rachel Maddow Show recently did a great piece on FAIR, John Tanton, and how they all tie in with the Arizona anti-immigrant law. This the group Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) really works for:
As previously noted (and pointed out in the Maddow piece), FAIR was founded by known racist John Tanton. FAIR is an anti-immigration lobbying organization with a far right-wing agenda. The group counts among its major benefactors the Pioneer Fund, which has contributed $1.2 million to fund FAIR’s efforts.
The Pioneer Fund is a group founded in 1937. Of its main purposes upon its founding was to continue the work of Nazi eugenicists and their ongoing efforts to prove the genetic superiority of white people. At the time, the Pioneer Fund was primarily concerned with proving white genetic superiority over blacks. The original incorporation documents of the Pioneer Fund lists as one of its two primary purposes as “encouraging the propagation of those “descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States and/or from related stocks, or to classes of children, the majority of whom are deemed to be so descended.
“Its second purpose was to support academic research and the “dissemination of information, into the ‘problem of heredity and eugenics’” and “the problems of race betterment.”
FAIR has its tentacles all over the anti-immigration bill signed into law last week by Arizona governor Jan Brewer. The bill’s main sponsor, State Senator Russell Pearce, enlisted the help of attorney Kris Kobach to write the specific language of the bill. Kobach is the legal counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of FAIR.
“Nativist Attorney” Kobach has also been retained since October 2009 by notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to train the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office in immigration matters to the tune of $300 per hour, plus a $1500 monthly retainer, plus expenses. That is, of course, at taxpayers’ expense–Kobach’s contract, according to Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times, is being paid out of Maricopa County’s RICO fund, the federal money allocated to the county to combat organized crime and racketeering activities.
Kobach is also a law professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law, and is a candidate for Secretary of State in Kansas. He failed at his previous attempt to win a public office as a candidate for Congress in Kansas’ 3rd District, a Republican stronghold, in 2004 because “in general, he was accused of taking money from a white supremacist organization, and the charge stuck.” (Kobach is, of course, a Republican.)
Russell Pearce–the man who enlisted Kobach’s help in writing the bill–himself has some dubious ties. In 2006 he sent an e-mail to supporters containing an article entitled “Who Rules America? The Alien Grip on our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken,” and a link to the article’s sponsor, the National Alliance, a white supremacist group. Pearce subsequently sent an apology e-mail, claiming that he had not read the article (which decried the “Jewish Holocaust tale” among other anti-Semitic and racist charges), and that he does not share the group’s neo-Nazi views.
More recently, however, Pearce has been photographed and attended rallies with neo-Nazi leader J.T. Ready:
That’s Ready on the left, Pearce on the right. That photo was taken at an anti-immigrant rally put on by the White Knights of America, a neo-Nazi, white supremacist hate group (and who presumably took their name from Mississippi’s White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan).
Pearce and Ready go back at least a few years. Pearce was an honored guest at a 2007 anti-immigration rally sponsored by Ready and his neo-Nazi pals at the Arizona State Capital (that’s Ready singing the praises of Pearce toward the beginning of the video.):
The forces behind the anti-immigrant bill signed into law last week can be traced directly back to FAIR. In addition to the sanctioning of racial profiling, the law provides that state agencies can be sued by any citizen for not doing enough to enforce the state’s immigration laws (as well as being too overzealous, opening state agencies to a myriad of civil rights lawsuits). And according to the research of Rachel Maddow’s crack staff, there is a provision written into the law that states that any individual or organization who brings such a suit and wins (and FAIR makes much of its money by such lawsuits) is entitled by law to recover court costs and attorney’s fees from the state.
These are the driving influences behind the anti-immigration efforts in Arizona and across the United States. These are the causes championed by Rep. Brian Bilbray. These are the people he associates with (remember, Bilbray was a paid lobbyist for FAIR prior to being elected to represent the CA 50th, and currently serves on the group’s Board of Advisors).
It is frightening to think that the Nazi movement is alive and well and so deeply rooted here in the U.S. It’s even more frightening to find that our elected officials–the people who are charged with protecting the rights of all citizens, white and non-white alike–are so closely tied to such extremist organizations.
UPDATE: On a slightly related note:
Since the anti-immigrant movement can be tied to the Tea Party movement (albeit somewhat loosely), this Newsweek article deals with the question of the year to date: “Are the Tea Partiers racist?”
A study conducted by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality concluded that Tea Partiers tend to be more “racially resentful:” “The data suggests that people who are Tea Party supporters have a higher probability”—25 percent, to be exact—”of being racially resentful than those who are not Tea Party supporters,” says Christopher Parker, who directed the study. “The Tea Party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race.”
Seems to be a trend these days…….
Thanks to Jeremy Gilbert, who contributed a ton of research to this post.
This sums up Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law pretty nicely:
I’m embarrassed to be a San Diegan today. It’s pretty well known that San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray is infamously anti-immigration, flaunting his ties to FAIR (more on that later) as a former lobbyist for that organization and a current board member. But yesterday, in an appearance on “Hardball” with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Bilbray showed his true colors.
In a discussion with Matthews and California Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez about the Arizona anti-immigration law just passed in the legislature, the trio tackled the issue of how exactly Arizona law enforcement officials are to identify whether someone appears to be in the country illegally or not. The pertinent question is “How do you know if someone is illegal or not just by their appearance?”
It’s pretty easy, according to Bilbray. Basically, anybody who looks Mexican is subject to questioning: “They will look at the kind of dress you wear. There’s different types of attire, there’s different types of—right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes, but mostly by behavior.”
Here’s the segment:
Got it. So if you look or dress in a manner other than “American” then you should be detained. What Bilbray is saying is perfectly acceptable, and what the Arizona law is promoting, is that racial profiling is now the preferred method to enforcing immigration laws. It’s now OK to choose a person off the street who looks like a foreigner and ask him or her for their papers. This means, of course, as Congresswoman Sanchez points out in the segment, that since she herself is Hispanic, then she will be required to carry around with her at all times her birth certificate and affidavits along with her driver’s license and other ID as proof that she is a U.S. citizen.
And how about this man?:
He sure looks like an illegal immigrant, no? Doesn’t he look Mexican to you? Just look at the way he’s dressed! Look at that tie! Would anybody from the U.S. wear that kind of tie?
That man, of course, is Congressman Raul Grijalva, the Democratic Representative from the Arizona 7th district. According to Bilbray, since this man looks like an immigrant, he should be pulled aside and questioned. Mind you, this is a colleague of Bilbray’s in the U.S. House of Representatives!
Here’s Congressman Grijalva earlier this week with Keith Olbermann:
As Mr. Grijalva says so succinctly, what the Arizona law does and what Mr. Bilbray advocates is to “codify into law racial profiling.” In a bold stance, the Congressman is advocating a boycott against his home state until this law is vetoed by the Republican governor of Arizona.
But Bilbray’s stance on immigration, and his essentially racist attitude towards immigrants in general and Mexian/Latino immigrants in particular (by the way, his mother is an Australian immigrant), should really come as no surprise. His positions can be traced directly to his affiliation with FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), an organization that has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigration hate group.
Prior to his current stint in Congress, Bilbray was a lobbyist for FAIR. He also currently sits on the group’s Board of Advisors.
FAIR is the brainchild of known racist John Tanton, the founder of eight other such anti-immigration groups. Tanton and FAIR have received a great deal of funding from the Pioneer Fund, described by the New York Times‘ Bob Herbert as “an organization that spent decades pushing the notion that whites are genetically superior to blacks.” FAIR is also an organization that has expressed it’s approval for China’s forced abortion policy as a means to control its population (I’m sure that’ll go over well with the Pro Life Republican base).
Among the main goals of FAIR is to shut down the borders, limiting all immigration, not just illegal immigration, to a mere trickle. Which may sound fair and reasonable, but when you consider some of the statements made by the group’s leaders, a different picture emerges.
For example, John Tanton declared that unless America’s borders are sealed, the country will be overrun by people “defecating and creating garbage looking for jobs.” Or Tanton hero Garrett Hardin, a “committed eugenicist and for years a professor of human ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara” who wrote in his essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” that “Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all.” Or former Colorado Governor and FAIR Advisory Board member Richard Lamm, who said that “new cultures” in the U.S. “are diluting what we are and who we are.”
Add Bilbray’s assertion that you can tell an illegal immigrant from the kind of clothes and shoes they wear and we get a better idea of what kind of organization this is, and what Bilbray’s values really are.
What they are really saying is that racial profiling is a legitimate tool to root out the “undesirables” from our society. That anybody that looks “different” will now be a target for legalized harassment. That bigotry and racism are alive and well. Put these notions in the wrong heads and the results will be catastrophic.
We can all acknowledge that our immigration system is broken and is in desperate need of reform. But what we don’t need is to unleash a bunch of zealots onto the streets looking for an excuse to club someone over the head because they might be an illegal immigrant. We’re all aware of the problems that illegal immigration presents to our communities, but there’s a right way to deal with it and a wrong way. Mr. Bilbray’s way is the wrong way.
In a region that sits on the border, what we need is for cooler heads to prevail. Instead of encouraging racist stereotypes and the raising of tensions in an already volatile environment to a boiling point, we need a representative in Congress who will work to find real, reasonable, and EFFECTIVE long term solutions to America’s immigration problems. Rounding people up at random and demanding to see their papers, corralling them under threat of deportation and possible bodily harm if they don’t carry their life’s history with them at all times doesn’t sound like the American way to me. It sounds like a much more shameful time in human history not all that long ago halfway around the world.