Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wanna Get rid of Immigrants? Take their Jobs!

In an effort to draw attention to the necessity of immigrant labor, the United Farm Workers have started a campaign to lure native-born Americans to take over picking and "Take our Jobs."

So, which one of you is going to sign up first?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Truth and Fiction in the Border debate

This article from today's NY Times highlights the realities of security, safety and crime in the immigration debate are often overshadowed by fear and hype.

On Border Violence, Truth Pales Compared to Ideas

When Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, announced that the Obama administration would send as many as 1,200 additional National Guard troops to bolster security at the Mexican border, she held up a photograph of Robert Krentz, a mild-mannered rancher who was shot to death this year on his vast property. The authorities suspected that the culprit was linked to smuggling.  

“Robert Krentz really is the face behind the violence at the U.S.-Mexico border,” Ms. Giffords said.
It is a connection that those who support stronger enforcement of immigration laws and tighter borders often make: rising crime at the border necessitates tougher enforcement.

But the rate of violent crime at the border, and indeed across Arizona, has been declining, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as has illegal immigration, according to the Border Patrol. While thousands have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars, raising anxiety that the violence will spread to the United States, F.B.I. statistics show that Arizona is relatively safe.

That Mr. Krentz’s death nevertheless churned the emotionally charged immigration debate points to a fundamental truth: perception often trumps reality, sometimes affecting laws and society in the process.

Judith Gans, who studies immigration at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, said that what social psychologists call self-serving perception bias seemed to be at play. Both sides in the immigration debate accept information that confirms their biases, she said, and discard, ignore or rationalize information that does not. There is no better example than the role of crime in Arizona’s tumultuous immigration debate.

“If an illegal immigrant commits a crime, this confirms our view that illegal immigrants are criminals,” Ms. Gans said. “If an illegal immigrant doesn’t commit a crime, either they just didn’t get caught or it’s a fluke of the situation.”

Ms. Gans noted that sponsors of Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law have made careers of promising to rid the state of illegal immigrants through tough legislation.

“Their repeated characterization of illegal immigrants as criminals — easy to do since they broke immigration laws — makes it easy for people to ignore statistics,” she said.

Moreover, crime statistics, however rosy, are abstract. It takes only one well-publicized crime, like Mr. Krentz’s shooting, to drive up fear.

It is also an election year, and crime and illegal immigration — and especially forging a link between the two — remain a potent boost for any campaign. Gov. Jan Brewer’s popularity, once in question over promoting a sales tax increase, surged after signing the immigration bill, which is known as SB 1070 but officially called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.

No matter that manpower and technology are at unprecedented levels at the border, it may never be secure enough in Arizona’s hothouse political climate when Congressional seats, the governor’s office and other positions are at stake in the Aug. 24 primaries.

It took the Obama administration a few weeks to bow to that political reality and go from trumpeting the border as more secure than it had ever been to ordering National Guard troops to take up position there — most of them in Arizona, Mr. Obama assured Ms. Brewer in a private meeting — because it was not secure enough.

Crime figures, in fact, present a more mixed picture, with the likes of Russell Pearce, the Republican state senator behind the immigration enforcement law, playing up the darkest side while immigrant advocacy groups like Coalición de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition), based in Tucson, circulate news reports and studies showing that crime is not as bad as it may seem.

For instance, statistics show that even as Arizona’s population swelled, buoyed in part by illegal immigrants funneling across the border, violent crime rates declined, to 447 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2008, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available from the F.B.I. In 2000, the rate was 532 incidents per 100,000.

Nationally, the crime rate declined to 455 incidents per 100,000 people, from 507 in 2000.
But the rate for property crime, the kind that people may experience most often, increased in the state, to 4,082 per 100,000 residents in 2008 from 3,682 in 2000. Preliminary data for 2009 suggests that this rate may also be falling in the state’s biggest cities.

What is harder to pin down is how much of the crime was committed by illegal immigrants.
Phoenix’s police chief, Jack Harris, who opposes the new law, said that about 13 percent of his department’s arrests are illegal immigrants, a number close to the estimated percentage of illegal immigrants in the local population. But the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail for Phoenix and surrounding cities and is headed by Joe Arpaio, a fervent supporter of the law, has said that 19 percent of its inmates are illegal immigrants.

Scott Decker, a criminologist at Arizona State University, said a battery of studies have suggested that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes, in part because they tend to come from interior cities and villages in their home country with low crime rates and generally try to keep out of trouble to not risk being sent home. 

But he understood why people’s perceptions of crime might lag behind what the statistics show. “Hard as it is to change the crime rate, it may be more difficult to change public perceptions about the crime rate, particularly when those perceptions are linked to public events,” Mr. Decker said.

He added, “There is nothing more powerful than a story about a gruesome murder or assault that leads in the local news and drives public opinion that it is not safe anywhere.”

Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri law professor who helped write the Arizona immigration law, pointed to crimes like a wave of kidnappings related to the drug and human smuggling business in Phoenix, something Ms. Brewer herself noted when she signed the law.
Although the reports have dipped in the past couple of years, the police responded to 315 such cases last year.

“That’s scary to people, and people react to that all over the state,” Mr. Kobach said. “They are concerned. ‘That might happen in my part of the city eventually.’ ”

Terry Goddard, the state attorney general, who does not support the immigration law, said the drop in violent crime rates might not reflect the continued violence, often unreported, that is associated with smuggling organizations.

Mr. Goddard said he doubted that the immigration law would put a dent in the smuggling-related crime that grabs attention in the state. For that reason, Mr. Goddard, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for governor in the primary, said he backed the deployment of National Guard troops and supports increasing manpower and spending on police and prosecutor anti-smuggling units.
Brian L. Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, said he would prefer more attention on the border, too. But until then, he said, laws like Arizona’s are necessary.

“We know the majority of people crossing across are not criminal, but unfortunately some criminal elements are embedded with them,” he said, adding, “Governor Brewer gets that.”

As Ms. Brewer put it just after signing the bill: “We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life."

Harvard Student will not be deported. At least not yet.

Hopefully this case and others like it will help make the DREAM Act a reality.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Boomer Abroad

Web resources for American and Canadians who are looking to retire or live part of the year abroad.

Press one for English

Seriously, folks, are you that insecure that you'll pass a law simply so you don't have to hear that option?

This report from the NY Times details the story of Fremont, Nebraska, a town that is concerned about immigration, particularly the cultural changes it brings.  Sure, they also mention the more acceptable excuses for nativism: the "rise" in crime and loss of good jobs.  (Excuse me, Nebraska, but have you ever heard of "globalization" and it's accompanied "job exports abroad"?  That may be your real culprit here.)

On Monday Fremont will vote about a ordinance that will ban businesses from hiring illegal immigrants (no complaint from me here--if only these federal laws would be enforced), and bar landlords from renting to them.   It seems like the voters have some decent leadership (their local elected officials fought this all the way to the Nebraska Supreme Court).

The truth is, immigrants bring cultural change. They always have.  They also bring prosperity, growth, and a way to see the world more broadly than we might normally.  No one has to like this, but really, folks.  Save your time and money on that vote.  Lobby your congressman about REAL immigration reform.  Your little ordinance won't make a hill of beans difference, unless your goal is to divide your community.

If you don't believe me, look no further than Prince William County, Virginia.

Whoa, Arizona! Looks like a State-Fed standoff

If the unconfirmed reports are true, Hillary Clinton spilled the beans about an upcoming Federal lawsuit against Arizona. 

Corey Stewart, are you paying attention?

Polling on Arzona's new Immigration Law

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that more than half of all Americans support Arizona's attempt to deal with immigration. The full poll results are offered here.

Here is the overview:

American opinion is divided largely by race: on the Arizona question  68 percent of whites back the law, compared with 31 percent of non-whites. White Democrats are about evenly divided on the bill (51 percent in favor; 47 percent opposed), while non-white Democrats are broadly opposed (24 percent support, and 73 percent oppose). 

Again, much of the perception here is based on a false assumption that certain strategies, like building a wall, will work.  I want to leave my wall-building readers with a something to think about: 1) no society in the history of man has been able to keep a population out using a wall and 2) increased border enforcement has disrupted the natural (and preferred) cycle of return migration and has therefore increased the number of undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S. full-time.  You don't have to believe me on this one, here is the proof.

Here is the full article from the Washington Pose;
Most Americans support the new, controversial Arizona law that gives police there the power to check the residency status of suspected illegal immigrants. But most also still back a program giving those here illegally the right to earn legal documentation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Immigration has been rising in prominence as an issue and has the potential to roil party unity on both sides as Democrats and Republicans push for the upper hand in the midterm elections. Liberal Democrats are broadly against the Arizona law; moderate and conservative Democrats are more evenly split on the issue. Most staunch Republicans oppose a "path to citizenship," while a majority of other Republicans favor such a plan. At the Texas Republican convention last week, the party splintered over the issue, with moderates proposing a legalization plan through military service, and the party ultimately adding an Arizona-like measure to its plank.

"I'm for it [the Arizona law] because it's giving a sense of accountability and it's making it easier to recognize who's who," said Terrance Hawkins, 36, a comedian who lives in Oxon Hill and is a Democrat. Illegal immigrants, he said in a follow-up interview, "just come and they stay, and they end up getting health-care coverage."

But Nancy Thomas, 58, a Democrat who is a bodywork therapist in Annapolis, criticized the law, which she worried could result in racial profiling. "It leans too much on somebody's appearance, and it doesn't really depend on an action somebody does," she said.

A further challenge for Democrats is that public disapproval over how President Obama is dealing with immigration has edged higher, with 51 percent of all respondents -- and 56 percent of political independents -- giving him negative ratings on the issue.

One unifying immigration concern is the widespread perception that the federal government is not doing enough to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the country. Overall, 75 percent of those polled fault border enforcement, and 83 percent support using National Guard troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico line.

Views about the government's performance on the border relate directly to assessments of the Arizona law: 67 percent of those who see inadequate federal action on the border favor the new law, compared with 31 percent of those who see sufficient enforcement along the 1,954-mile frontier. In all, 58 percent of Americans say they are supportive of the new law.

Several respondents said the scarcity of jobs was a factor in their support of the law.
"They're affecting all the tool-bag trades," said Robert Sawyer, 42, an electrician in Poquoson, Va., who is a Republican. Sawyer strongly supports the Arizona law, he said, in part because he thinks illegal immigrants are contributing to the unemployment woes some of his friends are suffering. "They're good workers and all," he said of illegal immigrants, "but they're taking all the jobs that Americans do."

There is a steep racial divide on the Arizona question: 68 percent of whites back the law, compared with 31 percent of non-whites. White Democrats are about evenly divided on the bill (51 percent in favor; 47 percent opposed), while non-white Democrats are broadly opposed (24 percent support, and 73 percent oppose).

At the same time that a majority of Americans back the Arizona law, most say they support a program allowing illegal immigrants already in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet certain requirements. In the new poll, 57 percent support the option, close to the level in spring 2009 at the 100-day mark of Obama's presidency.

"I think we should at least give them a chance to pay their dues; don't spit them out," said Tillie Braswell, 77, a retiree in Bristol, Va. ,who opposes the Arizona law and supports a path to citizenship for people here illegally. "We should treat them with respect, the way I'd want to be treated if I were in their country."

But Braswell, a Democrat, also thought border patrols should be beefed up, perhaps by the National Guard. "Post them up and down, but don't let them be shooting them," she said.

The poll was conducted June 3-6 among a random sample of 1,004 adults contacted by conventional and cellular telephone. The results from the full poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

A slim majority who see a lack of effort on the border say states should be allowed to make and enforce their own immigration laws, while other respondents prefer continued federal control by a ratio greater than 2 to 1. But the main divide on this question is ideological, with 83 percent of liberal Democrats and 34 percent of conservative Republicans preferring exclusive federal jurisdiction.

More on Corey Stewart's latest grandstand

You heard it here first. Today the Washington Post is catching up with me.

Understanding America's Immigration Crisis

For those of you who are agitating for more border enforcement and "sending 'em all back," this lecture by Professor Douglas Massey of Princeton University will be a place to begin to think about how we come to have an immigration crisis, and what can realistically be done to solve it.

Understanding America's Immigration "Crisis"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

U.S. Immigration Policy Must Change (from the Carnegie Endowment)

A phenomenal, well reasoned discussion of the need for immigration reform:
U.S. Immigration Policy Must Change
William Shaw International Economic Bulletin, June 2010

Illegal low-skilled immigration is a heartrending problem: workers whose very presence violates the law are deeply woven into the fabric of American society and the performance of essential tasks. Any constructive proposal to deal with the issue must balance re-establishing the rule of law with safeguarding prosperity and civil liberties. With many political leaders paralyzed by this difficult compromise, xenophobes and bigots gain public attention with simplistic policies—including the recent Arizona law—that are likely to exacerbate the adverse impacts of illegal immigration. Policy makers must recognize the benefits derived from low-skilled immigration while reducing illegal immigration. In making these difficult policy trade-offs, they must, at a minimum, reject those proposals that would make the situation worse.
Low-Skilled Immigration Largely Benefits the U.S. Economy

Any approach to sensible policies should begin by distinguishing between low-skilled immigration and illegal immigration. The effects of the two differ in important ways.

Low-skilled immigrants benefit the U.S. economy:

* Productivity: They increase the productivity of skilled workers and the stock of machines and buildings by carrying out essential tasks, and they further increase the productivity of American workers, including working parents, by freeing up their time. They also enable the productive use of agricultural land that would be unprofitable to exploit in the absence of immigration.

* Services Costs: They reduce the cost of services, thereby increasing the purchasing power of U.S. consumers.

The two most common concerns over low-skilled immigration—that it burdens government finances and decreases native wages—are of limited importance. The impact of low-skilled immigration on the federal budget is small, although some state and local governments do face a greater fiscal burden.1 Similarly, while low-skilled immigration does benefit skilled workers and owners of capital and can hurt low-skilled workers, most studies find that the impact is small, particularly over the long term. Evidence suggests that even the sharp rise in low-skilled immigration over the past 20 years has had a surprisingly small impact on the wages of native, low-skilled workers.2 This is for two principal reasons: low-skilled immigration attracts investment in industries that use low-skilled labor, thus increasing demand for these workers;3 and the rising educational levels of the workforce means that few native workers compete directly with low-skilled immigrants.4,5
Illegal Immigration’s Many Costs

It is possible to have legal low-skilled immigration; the benefits of low-skilled immigration need not come with the costs of illegal immigration, which are significant.

There are perhaps 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and the number of undocumented workers is probably more than 8 million. Some 60 percent of illegal immigrants live in six states, where their share of the population is about 6 percent on average, compared to less than 3 percent in the rest of the United States.

Like low-skilled immigration in general, illegal immigration generates economic benefits for native Americans. However, illegal immigration also imposes significant costs:

* Legal System: Perhaps the most serious cost of illegal immigration concerns the quality of our society rather than economics. Illegal immigrants are often hesitant to cooperate with law enforcement, which increases their own vulnerability and makes it difficult for the police to obtain necessary information. The failure to enforce immigration laws erodes respect for the legal system, encouraging vigilantism and violence against ethnic minorities. The presence of large numbers of people who live outside the law’s protection and have little long-term stake in the country erodes the social contract and impedes the cooperation required to establish safe and vibrant communities. And some efforts to address illegal immigration threaten the civil liberties that Americans view as their birthright.

* Working Conditions: Undocumented workers are limited in their ability to organize to protect their rights, which may erode working conditions for American workers in general through competition (though some employers benefit from this).

* Wage Competition: Undocumented status can intensify wage competition because some illegal immigrants (and their employers) do not pay taxes on wages. Moreover, their vulnerable position may cause illegal immigrants to accept lower wages6—again, some employers and U.S. households benefit from this.

* Budget: Illegal immigration may have a positive impact on the federal budget, as some undocumented workers do pay taxes but don’t enjoy the same access to services as natives.7 However, illegal immigrants can impose a fiscal burden on states and municipalities, which are required to provide some services to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.8

Policy Must Change

Recognizing the economic value of low-skilled immigration and the large economic and social costs of illegal immigration provides a useful guide to policies:

* Upgrade Skills: Concerns over low, or declining, low-skilled wage rates should be addressed by providing training and education (perhaps financed through taxes on firms or richer workers who benefit from low-skilled immigration), rather than through hopes of a radical reduction in the number of low-skilled immigrants.

* Regularize Illegal Immigrants: The number of illegal immigrants should be reduced by regularizing their status, thus improving their welfare and that of American households in general.9 Depending on the take-up of regularization programs, there may be scope for increasing low-skilled immigration.

* Enforce Immigration Policy: Measures to improve the enforcement of immigration laws should avoid exacerbating the social cost of illegal immigration by attempting to arrest individual immigrants, which degrades our civil liberties, increases the vulnerability of immigrant communities, and reduces their willingness to cooperate with the police. Instead, illegal immigration should be reduced by compelling large employers to check documents, as well as imposing significant fines for violations and devising efficient but minimally-obtrusive schemes for policing these efforts.

The Arizona Law is Misguided

Arizona’s recent law—which imposes jail sentences on illegal immigrants (while entering the United States illegally and harboring illegal immigrants is a federal crime, residing illegally in the United States is generally treated as a civil offense) and requires that police check immigration documents—will be damaging and counterproductive.

Though concern over illegal immigration in Arizona is doubtless the result of the high share of illegal immigrants in the state’s population (the highest in the United States), the new law is unlikely to have much impact on the level of illegal immigration, as many immigrants take much greater risks than police harassment or even jail terms to travel to the United States.10 These measures could, however, substantially reduce immigrants’ willingness to cooperate with the police and subject the native Hispanic population to document checks that would further inflame ethnic tensions. Since about 30 percent of Arizona’s population is Hispanic, the potential for social conflict is great.

Arizona's recent law will be damaging and counterproductive.

Nevertheless, this law highlights how the failure of federal policy increases the potential for ill-conceived state decisions, perhaps giving impetus to more sensible solutions at the national level.

The proposal to reinterpret the fourteenth amendment to exclude children of illegal immigrants from citizenship is another dead end. Refusing to educate or provide health care to children who could become long-term members of American society would be stupid and brutal, as would be deporting children or adults who grew up in the United States to foreign countries that they have never seen. In addition, such measures would have only a limited impact on the level of illegal immigration, since wage differentials are sufficient incentive for migration.

Illegal immigration is inevitably a difficult and divisive issue, given its distributional implications and the infections of racism and xenophobia. At a minimum, we should reject policies that would make a bad situation worse.

William Shaw is a visiting scholar in Carnegie’s International Economics Program.

1. Most studies find that tax revenues from both legal and illegal immigrants exceed the cost of services provided to them. For a more somber view of the budgetary implications of illegal immigrants, most of whom are low-skilled, see Camarota (2004).

2. See Card (2005) for a summary of the literature from the dominant view that the impact of low-skilled immigration on the wages of native low-skilled workers is small, and Borjas (2003) for the higher estimates of this effect.

3. For example, Ottaviano and Peri (2008) find that the least-educated native workers suffered a loss of only 1.1 percent of real wages due to immigration over 1990–2004, lower than the estimates from Borjas (2003) because they account for increased investment in response to immigration.

4. Only about 8 percent of native Americans in ages 25–64 lack a high school diploma, while many low-skilled immigrants have little schooling and speak little English. The supply of low-skilled native workers is further reduced by those who are unsuited or unwilling to work, for example due to drug addiction.

5. It is possible that a sharp reduction in low-skilled immigration could assist low-skilled native workers by improving incentives for businesses and the government to invest in education, training, and rehabilitation, but it would also encourage automation, which would limit the increased demand for low-skilled workers.

6. Controlling for observable skills, legalization through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act raised wages by 6 percent compared to wage levels if workers had remained undocumented. (Kossoudji and Cobb-Clark 2002). Legalization also improved incentives for learning skills that further boosted wages. Rivera-Batiz (1999) finds that observable characteristics accounted for less than half of the substantial difference between the wages of legal and illegal immigrants. However, Duncan and Trejo (2009) conclude that labor market skills are much more important than legal status in determining immigrants’ wages.

7. Estimates of the share of illegal immigrants that pay federal, state, and local taxes range between 50 and 75 percent (CBO 2007). Illegal immigrants are not eligible for most federal safety net programs. And some illegal immigrants pay into social security (they provided fake social security numbers as proof of citizenship to employers) but will never collect benefits.

8. For example, the Supreme Court has determined that children cannot be excluded from public education due to their immigration status. There are about 2 million school-age children who are unauthorized immigrants, and 3 million school-age children are U.S. citizens born to illegal immigrants (Urban Institute 2006). Together, these groups constitute about 9 percent of school-age children. Other unavoidable costs from illegal immigrants include emergency health care (since 59 percent of adult illegal immigrants lack health insurance—Passel 2009) and law enforcement.

9. Dixon and Rimmer (2009) find that legalization coupled with a tax on visas could generate $180 billion in welfare gains for U.S. households. As part of ongoing research that is still subject to revision, Aguiar and Walmsley (forthcoming) estimate that legalization of undocumented Mexican workers in the United States coupled with effective border controls would raise U.S. GDP by 0.17 percent.

10. For example, since the tightening of border security in 1994, an estimated 5,600 people have died in the wasteland that straddles part of the U.S./Mexican border (Jiminez 2009).

Offensive Quote of the Day

Pulled from, a report on New Mexico Politics. The article that Mr. Shelby is responding to examines the different approaches to immigration by Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico.

I post it here to remind readers than much of the anti-immigrant sentiment circulating in the U.S. today is simply nativism that has been reframed under the guise of "being against illegals" when it is in fact an attempt to promote a "White Peoples" agenda.

Stop Immigration legal or Illegal
By Richard Shelby on Jun 17, 2010 5:47:22 AM

The European White race is suffering from these growing third world invasions. We must send the message that immigrants are no longer welcomed into our states and communities using laws like SB 1070. Arizona has done the right thing. We ask European-Whites to join us in voting for the White People's Party; it the only party that can help address our issues. We've won in Arizona. New Mexico, Florida and Texas should be next.

If money talks, Arizona should listen

This report from AP indicates that Jan Brewer is getting a little support from folks outside Arizona who want to help her with her legal troubles. I think the amount, 20K, speaks for itself. There is no overwhelming public opinion that Gov. Brewer is being unfairly singled out. There is simply very little support for Arizona's actions.

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's office has received nearly $20,000 in private donations to help the state mount a legal defense against lawsuits related to its tough new immigration law.

Nearly 440 people in 46 states and the District of Columbia have contributed to the fund. According to a list of donors provided to The Arizona Republic newspaper, the smallest contribution is $1 and the largest is $750.

Brewer announced last month that she had hired private counsel to represent her in the federal lawsuits pending against the state. She is named as a defendant in four of the five cases.

Arizona's new immigration law is scheduled to take effect July 29. It requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

ICE Rebrands to Soften Image

Anti-immigrant forces everywhere are going to love this:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will realign its duties to promote criminal investigations over immigrant deportation, officials have announced.

By streamlining and renaming several offices, officials hope to highlight the agency's counterterrorism, money laundering and other complex criminal investigations and in the process "re-brand" ICE, turning the public -- and political -- spotlight away from its immigration work.

It's a serious change, long overdue. I'm not certain that it is possible to "rebrand" the agency to diminish the idea that being undocumented is not a major crime. But it's a move in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cory Stewart wants to bring the Arizona Law to Virginia

Corey Stewart loves to be in the spotlight.  He announced today via his website that:
Prince William County's crackdown on illegal immigration worked: Illegal Aliens fled the county, and the violent crime rate plummeted. It is now time to protect all communities in Virginia from the effects of Illegal Immigration. Please join me in our effort to protect every county and city in the Commonwealth by following Prince William County's and Arizona's lead and enforce the Rule of Law.
Never mind that violent crime was ALREADY ON THE DECLINE.  Click here for the PWC crime reports (the news of the undocumented starts on page 31).    Never mind that residents are complaining on local blogs that the PWC ordinances didn't work, like this one from
While I agree that it worked for about a year, the illegals came FLOODING back around the middle of 2008 and it has gotten progressively worse since then. There are far more illegals in the area now than there were in 2007. Every morning I drive by houses FULL of them jumping into white work vans. I am utterly amazed at the level of them that I see here nowadays. The problem has gotten so much worse. The 7-11’s are packed, the home depots are loaded to the gills with them and the roads and sidewalks full of them. This morning some idiot in a white truck was honking at the guy in the house because he was picking him up and I guess the guy wasn’t coming out fast enough. I rolled up next to him and told him to knock off the honking at 6am as this is a residential area. If I see him do it again I am going to get out of my car and ask him politely face to face to abstain from honking his horn in the neighborhood at 6am and if he has a problem with it then I will simply call the police and ask them to cite him for violating noise ordinances. These people have no decency or respect for others. I wish Corey luck but judging how he got manhandled and uber pwned by Deane back in 2007 I’m not sure that he is the man to toot his horn and be the force behind something like this. No way something like this will work in an ever-increasing blue state like Virginia. FAR too many bleeding heart, wealthy and powerful libs in this area that don’t have to live around illegals.
 Let it also be known that unless someone in the VA legislature signs on to sponsor this, this is more of the theatre of Corey Stewart.  Nevertheless,  concerned Virginia citizens should be put on notice.  We may have a fight on our hands.

ICE captures and detains undocumented Harvard Student

Americans can all rest easier tonight.  Another potentially dangerous "illegal alien" was apprehended at the San Antonio airport last week. It appears this would-be criminal was able to sneak into our beloved country when he as 4 years old, and has since spend his life recklessly working hard and gaining admission to one of the top U.S. universities.

I ask you, is this the type of person we want to have in our country?  Don't we need to send this kid packing and "take back" America from him and those like him?  

Eric Balderas is one of the thousands of kids who were brought to this country by their parents.  They grew up here, speak English and could be productive members of our society.  Does that matter?

I guess it all depends on your perspective.  The current immigration hysteria would lead a lot of otherwise reasonable people to treat Eric like a common criminal and send him packing.  Others can see the benefit of helping kids like Eric by supporting the DREAM Act.  For more information on Eric click here.  For more on the DREAM Act, click here.

From the Boston Globe:
A 19-year-old Harvard biology student, who has been in the United States unlawfully since he was 4 years old, was detained at a Texas airport this week and is now fighting deportation to his native Mexico.

Eric Balderas, a sophomore on a full scholarship to Harvard, was detained Monday while preparing to board a flight back to Boston to spend the summer conducting research at the university. He had been visiting his mother in San Antonio, where he grew up and was valedictorian of his high school class.

Balderas said he had lost his Mexican passport and tried to board the flight using a consular card from the Mexican government and his Harvard identification. Instead, he said, airport security called immigration officials, who handcuffed and fingerprinted him, and detained him for five hours before letting him go. He boarded a flight back to Boston the next day, pending a July 6 court date with an immigration judge, probably in Boston.

Today, Balderas was shaken and fearful of being forced to return to a country he barely remembers. He hopes to finish school and become a cancer researcher.

"I’m very worried to be honest," he said in an interview. "I’m willing to fight this, of course. I’m just hanging in there."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian P. Hale would not comment on Balderas's case because of privacy laws, but he said ICE evaluates each case on an individual basis.

Balderas's arrest comes a year after Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust urged Congress to support the Dream Act, federal legislation that would allow immigrant youths to apply for legal residency, under certain conditions. Faust also recently met with US Senator Scott Brown, in part to urge him to support the measure.

A Harvard spokeswoman praised Balderas today and said he is an example of why Congress should pass the act.

"Eric Balderas has already demonstrated the discipline and work ethic required for rigorous university work, and has, like so many of our undergraduates, expressed an interest in making a difference in the world," said Harvard spokeswoman Christine Heenan. "These dedicated young people are vital to our nation’s future, and President Faust’s support of the Dream Act reflects Harvard’s commitment to access and opportunity for students like Eric."

The Dream Act would create a path to legal residency for youths who arrived before they turned 16 and have lived here for five years. They would have to complete two years of college or the military, among other requirements to qualify.

Opponents say it would reward students and their families who broke the law by entering the country illegally, but supporters point out that children had no say in their parents' decision to bring them to the United States. The presidents of Harvard, Brown, Tufts, and other universities have backed the legislation, which has been stalled since 2001.

Balderas' stunned friends and classmates today, who rallied to his defense, joining a Facebook page and urging immigration officials to let him stay. They said he has tried to be a good citizen and stellar student.

Friends pointed out that Balderas barely remembers Mexico, and feels like English is his first language.

"He's like an American, but without documents," said Mario Rodas, a member of the Student Immigrant Movement, which has been pushing for legal residency for immigrant youth. "These are the kind of people we need in this country, doing research for cancer."

Balderas said he is the son of a single mother who left an abusive husband and worked 12-hour days packing biscuits while raising him, and his younger brother and sister in San Antonio. At home, he would babysit his siblings while juggling homework on his own.

"I honestly never thought I’d make it into college because of my status but I just really enjoyed school too much and I gave it a shot," he said. "I did strive for this."

Now he is at one of the world's best universities, majoring in molecular and cellular biology.
But on Monday, as he sat handcuffed, he said he contemplated suicide at the thought of being sent back to Mexico. He does not remember his hometown of Ciudad Acuna, in the northern state of Coahuila. His family is in Texas.

"They just kept (asking) me if I had any other documents, that they were just trying to help me so that I can get on the plane," he said, recalling his conversation with immigration officials. "But at that point I realized there was nothing that I could do, that anybody could do."

Day labor sites and neighbors who can talk to one another

An interesting thing has been happening in Centreville, VA.  People are disagreeing about immigration. And they're still talking to one another.

Centreville is no Manassas.  For one thing, they have a growing immigrant community, and for the most part, no one seems to care.  Unlike Manassas, Centreville doesn't have a storied history, no association with the Civil War.  In fact, there is no "there" in the same way there is in Old Town Manassas.  It's a suburb that became a place relatively recently, therefore the residents seem to acknowledge and accept that their community is a work in progress.

Cut to the recent day labor center controversy.  It's hardly a controversy at all--at least for the time being.  According to today's article in the Washington Post, a few Centreville merchants decided to organize a day labor center to relocate a group of Central American men who congregate in the Centreville Square Shopping Center.  The men are waiting for American citizens to pick them up for their daily labor needs, and at the same time are frightening off customers.  There have been unpleasant run-ins (at all places, the ice cream shop), but for the most part, moving the men is about aesthetics and the perception of safety rather than a documented risk.  No one has reported being robbed or having suffered from a violent crime. 

There is no real consensus about the new day labor site, although there are opinions.  These include what one would normally expect from a debate like this: will an official center draw more laborers?  Would the community benefit from moving the center away from the shopping mall? Who should fund the center, and run it?

Amazingly, there has been no rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.  No formation of organized hate groups.  No nativist leaders shouting that Centreville will benefit by running immigrants out of the area.

Thanks, Centreville.  It's good to know that in your little community civil behavior is still the norm.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Texas GOP uses YouTube to reach out to Hispanic Voters

Just a few days after the Texas GOP voted to include an Arizona-style law as part of its 2010 platform, the party decided it might be a good idea to do some Hispanic recruiting using YouTube.   It's no secret that in Texas no one can win without the Hispanic vote, but it is curious that the GOP leadership there is so blind to the reality that no amount of advertising will woo a group of people to your party when you're busy trying to deport their fellows.

So, the Texas GOP wants to recruit Hispanics?  Good luck with that.

(KERA) - The Texas Republican Party is launching a YouTube campaign today to attract more Hispanics to the party. KERA's BJ Austin says it comes three days after an Arizona-type immigration law was put on the party's list of legislative priorities.

On YouTube, a quick succession of Texans tell why they are part of the GOP, in English and Spanish.

State party spokesman Bryan Preston says this is the first of many outreach efforts between now and the November election to engage Hispanics - appealing to conservative Hispanic values of family, faith and free enterprise.

Increasing Hispanic Republican ranks could be more difficult after the party's convention in Dallas where delegates approved several immigration-related legislative priorities. They include creation of a Class A misdemeanor offense for an illegal alien to (intentionally or knowingly) be within the State of Texas. And it would require local law enforcement to verify residency status upon arrest for another crime.

Eric Garza is vice chairman of the Latino National Republican Coalition in Texas. He does not believe "immigration issues" will sink the party's Hispanic recruiting efforts.

Garza: The Hispanic community is concerned about other issues as well. I think they're interested about health care. They're concerned about jobs, the economy and education. I think the Hispanic community is going to realize that Governor Perry and the Republican Party really do have the answers to securing our borders and taking care of our immigration policy, at least here in the state of Texas.

Governor Perry opposes an Arizona-style law for Texas. He says it would not be good for the state and would burden police. Republican Lauro Garza says the call for an Arizona-style immigration crackdown, and the talk surrounding it, are divisive and harmful.

Lauro Garza: It gives Latinos the impression that they are hated. And what is clear is that is not the Republican Party "platform". But what is clear is that there are these voices within the Republican Party. I believe they are a vocal minority. They are turning away Latinos at a higher rate than Governor Perry and myself are recruiting Latinos. And that's a big problem.

Texas Democrats responded quickly to the GOP delegate vote on immigration. Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Grey says it should be "insulting to every American that values basic rights and freedom." The Democratic Party has long relied on Hispanics as a large, loyal voting base. Texas Democrats also take up immigration issues at their convention later this month.

Latinos Leave Arizona over Immigration Law

I've linked an interesting radio broadcast from yesterday's Marketplace.  The overview:  Immigrants are leaving Arizona even before the new laws go into effect that have the goal of pushing out undocumented immigrants.

At the moment, schools are losing students, houses are being abandoned, and apartments are going unrented.  And guess what?  The "surplus" of savings that states like Arizona "gain" by not paying out services is not enough to offset the loss of taxes and productivity that immigrants provide because they fuel the economy.

So Arizona may get its wish.  But I wonder if they can afford it.

U.S. Conference of Mayors Blasts Arizona's anti-immigrant law

The U.S. Conference of Mayor joins a long list of organizations that have condemned the Arizona immigration law.  Bravo.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Anchor babies? Arizona's "solution"

It does not appear that the legislators in Arizona realize that the federal government, and the U.S. Constitution, get to decide who is and isn't a citizen.  NOT ARIZONA.

Anchor babies isn't a very endearing term, but in Arizona those are the words being used to tag children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. While not new, the term is increasingly part of the local vernacular because the primary authors of the nation's toughest and most controversial immigration law are targeting these tots — the legal weights that anchor many undocumented aliens in the U.S. — for their next move.

Buoyed by recent public opinion polls suggesting they're on the right track with illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans will likely introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona — and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution — to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens. The law largely is the brainchild of state senator Russell Pearce, a Republican whose suburban district, Mesa, is considered the conservative bastion of the Phoenix political scene. He is a leading architect of the Arizona law that sparked outrage throughout the country: Senate Bill 1070, which allows law-enforcement officers to ask about someone's immigration status during a traffic stop, detainment or arrest if reasonable suspicion exists — things like poor English skills, acting nervous or avoiding eye contact during a traffic stop. (See "The Battle for Arizona: Will a Border Crackdown Work?")

But the likely new bill is for the kids. While SB1070 essentially requires of-age migrants to have the proper citizenship paperwork, the potential "anchor baby" bill blocks the next generation from ever being able to obtain it. The idea is to make the citizenship process so difficult that illegal immigrants pull up the anchor and leave. (See pictures in "The Border Fence Rises in the Southwest.")

The question is whether that would violate the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment states that "All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." It was intended to provide citizenship for freed slaves and served as a final answer to the Dred Scott case, cementing the Federal Government's control over citizenship. (Comment on this story.)

But that was 1868. Today, Pearce says the 14th Amendment has been "hijacked" by illegal immigrants. "They use it as a wedge," Pearce says. "This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created." Pearce says he is aware of the constitutional issues involved with the bill and vows to introduce it nevertheless. "We will write it right." He and other Republicans in the red state Arizona point to popular sympathy: 58% of Americans polled by Rasmussen think illegal immigrants whose children are born in the U.S. should not receive citizenship; support for that stance is 76% among Republicans.

Those who oppose the bill say it would lead to more discrimination and divide the community. Among them is Phoenix resident Susan Vie, who is leading a citizen group that's behind an opposing ballot initiative. She moved to the U.S. 30 years ago from Argentina, became a naturalized citizen and now works as a client-relations representative for a vaccine company. "I see a lot of hate and racism behind it," Vie says. "Consequently, I believe it will create — and it's creating it now — a separation in our society." She adds, "When people look at me, they will think, 'Is she legal or illegal?' I can already feel it right now." Vie's citizen initiative would prohibit SB1070 from taking effect and place a three-year moratorium on all related laws — including the anchor-baby bill — to buy more time for federal immigration reform. Her group is racing to collect 153,365 signatures by July 1 to qualify for the Nov. 2 general election.

Both sides expect the anchor-baby bill to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court before it is enacted. "I think it would be struck down as facially unconstitutional. I can't imagine a federal judge saying this would be O.K.," says Dan Barr, a longtime Phoenix lawyer and constitutional litigator. Potentially joining the anchor-baby bill at the Supreme Court may be SB1070, which Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law in April. It is set to take effect July 29, but at least five courtroom challenges have been filed against it. Pearce says he will win them all.

Read more:,8599,1996064,00.html?xid=huffpo-direct#ixzz0qq0tZvZX

Governor Jan Brewer Speaks out

Last week, Jan Brewer was trying to play down the effects of Arizona's recent immigration law, suggesting that Arizona needs to "rebrand" its image. This interview suggest that Ms. Brewer is entrenched in her position. As she says herself, "it's their [Arizona's] choice." If they want to continue in this direction, they'll have to face the consequences.

Six Reasons to Retire Abroad

As regular readers of the blog know, I'm not a big proponent of retirement abroad. I study it because it is an interesting and growing trend, however. These six reasons to retire abroad are quoted from US News and World Report Money:

Look beyond Florida and Arizona and your retirement options get exciting. There can be much more to life than the way you’ve been living it. By considering retirement choices overseas, your days can become full of discovery and adventure. You can reinvent not only your life, but yourself too. What did you want to be when you grew up? Here’s your second chance.

This is reason enough for many to consider a move to another country at this stage of life. But it’s certainly not the only benefit of retiring overseas. Here are five other reasons to consider retirement abroad.

Permanent summer. You can escape winter. Throw away your snow shovel.

Reduced expenses. Retirees
can reduce their cost of living, maybe dramatically, by moving abroad. In Ecuador, perhaps the world’s most affordable overseas retirement haven, a couple could live comfortably on as little as $800 per month.

Lower taxes. Retirees can live tax free in some places. Depending on the sources of your income, in some countries, including Panama and Belize, you can organize your financial affairs so that you pay no tax. This can be more straightforward to accomplish than you might imagine. And, yes, it’s completely legal.

Less crime. Some low cost retirement locales have very low crime rates. You can live safer in a place like Uruguay where violent crime is all but unheard of.

A slower pace. Many people live healthier, with less stress abroad. In Argentine wine country or southwestern France, for example, the surroundings are pleasing, the neighbors are friendly, and the way of life is sweet and simple.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Arizona's Looming Foreclosure Crisis

This is certainly not a surprise. It seems that, just like in Manassas and PWC, Arizona seems to be seeing an exodus of legal and undocumented Latinos from neighborhoods in Phoenix, which is fueling foreclosures and may the start of a new foreclosure crisis:

An exodus of people - both legal and illegal residents - could be one more drag on a housing-market recovery. Departures from a state where growth is the economic foundation could add to the number of foreclosures and vacant houses and apartments, all of which will hurt the housing industry just as signs of recovery are starting to appear.

Driving illegal immigrants out of Arizona is one stated purpose of the new immigration law. But the law, experts say, could also drive out legal residents and deter potential new residents - people who are afraid of what might happen to them or who simply object to the law.

Real-estate analysts and economists are watching for signs that both illegal and legal residents are moving from the state, while also tracking the number of newcomers to Arizona. After the immigration law goes into effect July 29, it may become one more factor in real-estate forecasts for the region.

"Estimates are that there are several hundred thousand undocumented aliens residing in Arizona," said Phoenix housing analyst Mike Orr, publisher of the Cromford Report, a daily housing-research report. "If the law has the intended effect and these people do leave, then both population and demand for housing will probably decline."

Of course, this may be what the folks in Arizona want. Good luck with that one.

Guess who's coming to stay?

Oh Dear.  Guess what's happening?  The US Census released new population figures for 2009, and it turns out that most of the U.S. population growth can be attributed to the Latino birthrate.  That's right folks, native-born citizens born to Latino parents.

Here's an excerpt regarding Virginia:
Although Virginia remains majority white (73 percent of its 7.9 million residents), minorities are growing in numbers and proportion. About 570,000 Virginians, or 7 percent, are Latinos. That represents a 70 percent jump from the 330,000 Latinos in the state a decade ago.
7% is still a fairly small number, but Latinos tend to be concentrated in certain areas of the state, such as Northern Virginia.  It's been an interested week for me.  Some of my buddies in Manassas and PWC have started to feel insecure again, so they've decided that if they rant enough about a problem, it will certainly go away.  Unfortunately, they have failed to accept the fact that they showed up for their battle after the war was over.

Here's the full article:
Hispanics fueled much of the population growth in Maryland and Virginia last year, mirroring a pattern echoed around the country, according to census statistics released Thursday.

More than half of Maryland's 66,000 new residents in 2009 were Hispanic. In Virginia, Hispanics represented a third of the state's 113,000 new residents. In contrast, most of the District's population gain came from non-Hispanic whites, part of a shift that is expected to affect the mayoral election this fall.

Even the recession did not dampen population growth in the region, particularly in Northern Virginia. Fairfax and Arlington counties gained more residents last year than in any single year during the past decade. Loudoun County remained among the fastest-growing counties in the nation.
The rise of Hispanics in the Washington region was part of a fundamental shift in a nation that is becoming increasingly minority as the population of non-Hispanic whites remains virtually static and grows older.

Minorities make up 35 percent of the U.S. population, another notch toward the day expected midcentury when non-Hispanic whites will become a minority group.

The statistics also show a continuing rise in the number of people who identify themselves as biracial or multiracial. More than 5 million people are multiracial, up 150,000 last year.

That was true even in Virginia, which less than five decades ago had a Racial Integrity Act that made marriage between whites and non-whites illegal. Last year, almost 140,000 Virginians said they belong to at least two races.

The census statistics for 2009 are the last ones before the count is completed in the ongoing 2010 Census. In addition to being a preview of the decennial census, the figures could have implications in the midterm elections this fall and beyond.

"Hispanics are a force to be reckoned with, and savvy politicians are going to have to take them into account," said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution.

More than half of the almost 3 million new people in the country last year are Hispanic, according to the census figures. At 47 million, Hispanics form the nation's largest minority group. In contrast, there are 39.6 million African Americans, a number that grew by about 600,000, and 14 million Asians, or 460,000 more than in 2008.

The rise in Hispanics is being driven by high birthrates. More than seven out of 10 of the 1.5 million additional Hispanics last year were born here, while immigration accounted for just 18 percent of the growth, the census shows.

Conversely, the nation's 200 million non-Hispanic whites increased by a meager 360,000 last year, about 12 percent of the total growth. As the baby boomer generation advances into old age, the white population is growing notably older. For whites, the median age is now 41, compared to 27 for Hispanics. In analyzing the data, Frey noted that 42 states show a decline in non-Hispanic whites younger than 45, underscoring how young people increasingly are likely to be minorities.

Overall, the U.S. population grew almost 1 percent last year, to 307 million people. But growth was widely uneven. Growth rates of 1.2 percent in the South and West were triple the 0.4 percent rate in the Northeast and Midwest. 

Every jurisdiction in the Washington region grew last year, some at a faster pace than others.
The District's population gained almost 8,000 people in 2009, to just shy of 600,000 residents. That is about 28,000 more residents than the District had at the start of the decade. The median age of 35 1/2 is a year older than in 2000.

The city's biggest change has come in its racial makeup. A decade ago, the city was 60 percent black and 31 percent white. By 2009, African American residents were 54 percent of the population, and whites were almost 41 percent. Last year, the number of whites increased by 6,500, compared with 2,000 more blacks and 2,000 more Hispanics.

The District exemplifies how demographic shifts can drive political change. White residents supported successful council measures on same-sex marriage and the bag tax.

In the upcoming mayoral election, political strategists predict this will be the first citywide election in decades attracting an equal number of black and white voters.

Bernard Demczuk, a George Washington University professor of African American history who follows District politics, said he does not expect the increasing proportion of white voters to dramatically alter the racial makeup of the city's elected offices. He noted that white District residents have long supported black candidates in city races.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and his chief rival for the nomination, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), are black. But polls show that Fenty runs strongest among white voters, while Gray has broad support in the African American community.

Although Virginia remains majority white (73 percent of its 7.9 million residents), minorities are growing in numbers and proportion. About 570,000 Virginians, or 7 percent, are Latinos. That represents a 70 percent jump from the 330,000 Latinos in the state a decade ago.

As in Virginia, about 7 percent of Maryland's 5.7 million residents are Latino. Last year they were responsible for 53 percent of the increase in the state's population as their numbers increased to 411,000. A decade ago, the state's 228,000 Latinos were less than 5 percent of the population.

Staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this

Texas GOP votes to press Arizona-like Law

It appears that the GOP in Texas has decided to declare war on the undocumented, according to this article from today's Dallas Morning News. That's an interesting development, considering the long-term Mexican and population in the state. The immigration aspect was not the most surprising item on the GOP platform. My personal favorite was the outlawing of all sexually oriented businesses, including strip clubs. You won't hear an argument about that one from me, but seriously folks, is this any more realistic than your proposal to round up and deport your state's undocumented?

There are days when I think the GOP is marching toward it destruction, and along the way they decided to provide the rope to be used for the party's own hanging.

It's hard to say what will come of this--there are plenty of Texans who oppose taking strong measures against the undocumented, simply because it can work to undermine good neighborly relations. But I still think the GOP in Texas and elsewhere should take a nice long look at the U.S. census data. They may score a short-term victory today, but the demographic trends are not moving in their favor.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Standing up for Free Speech (even when you have to hold your nose)

The following op-ed highlights a subject that I often reference in regard to immigration.  Even if one disagrees with another person about an issue, it is best that both parties have their say in open, public forums.  Not all free speech is productive, however, and there are instances where groups use their rights in an attempt to impinge on the rights of others.

Nevertheless, I'm firmly behind the principle of free speech, even in cases like the one cited above, when I strongly disagree with how it is employed.  I think families should have the right to a private funeral.  In the instance below, it might be best to have a designated free speech zone (much like the ones employed by President Bush during his eight year administration), so that protesters can have their say, and families can have their peace.

KEN CUCCINELLI II, Virginia's attorney general, is not famously a champion of the First Amendment. As a state lawmaker, he sought to subvert it with legislation that would bar journalists from knocking on the doors of bereaved families. His colleagues in the General Assembly turned a deaf ear to that measure, and with good reason.

Now comes another, more agonizing case involving bereaved families, the First Amendment and Mr. Cuccinelli. In this instance, he was asked to join a lawsuit, brought by the family of a Marine killed in Iraq, against a group of hateful religious zealots who picket service members' funerals. The picketers contend that American combat deaths are to be celebrated as God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuals. The case is to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Cuccinelli refused to lend Virginia's support to the lawsuit. In taking that stand, he pitted Virginia against 48 other states that have joined it, effectively sided with a handful of gay-bashing provocateurs over the mourning family of a dead Marine who wanted to bury their son in peace, triggered bitter criticism -- and stood up for the First Amendment. Although Mr. Cuccinelli's legal judgments often seem clouded by his conservative ideological agenda, in this case he has made a good call, albeit an unpopular one.

It would be difficult to find a more loathsome band than Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., whose sparse congregation mounts small but vocal protests at military funerals, schools and other venues around the country. The church -- better described as an extended family cult led by its patriarch, one Fred W. Phelps Sr. -- deploys its members, some of whom drag the American flag on the ground, with signs praising God for dead soldiers, improvised explosive devices and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, killed in action in Iraq, sued Mr. Phelps and the church, arguing that by picketing the funeral they had caused the family emotional distress, interfered with its privacy and abridged its rights to free exercise of religion and peaceful assembly.

Some of Mr. Cuccinelli's critics have noted that the right to free speech can be legitimately restricted, as in Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous example of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater. But restrictions that safeguard public safety should not be wielded to stifle public speech, no matter how inflammatory or hurtful. The sensible way to deal with Mr. Phelps and his followers is by using the same regulations the authorities generally use to contain other obnoxious groups of protesters -- racists, neo-Nazis, skinheads. Keep them at a distance from which they cannot disrupt their targets, provide adequate police presence to deter violence, and let them spew. That approach ensures that in the free marketplace of ideas, their hate speech will fall on deaf ears.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Close to home (yet so much like the border): another day labor controversy

I was unable to blog about the conversations in Centreville, VA regarding the establishment of a new day labor center. I've been pleased and surprised by the tone of the conversation--that is, they are actually having conversations in Centreville about what to do about day laborers who congregate in places that the neighborhood residents clearly see as inappropriate places:
That said, the immigrants' presence in Centreville has unquestionably been a nuisance, and their own bad behavior is partly to blame. Numerous people complained that men awaiting jobs regularly intimidated women and girls with leers, ogling and lecherous comments.
The problem has been particularly bad outside the Centreville Regional Library, near a housing complex where many day laborers live.

"It was scary to come to the library. I'd tell my daughter, who's 14, 'Hey, don't go outside,' " said Pamela Jordan, 39.

Center supporter Foltz said he couldn't defend such conduct. But he said it would be easier to prevent such problems if the day laborers were supervised at an established venue.
 It would be great if a few of the community activists--those who support the immigrants and hosting a day labor center--would take a moment and go talk to the men who are congregating around the library.  They could give a mini-course on appropriate behavior.  They could also let the men know that by being inappropriate, they risk bringing on hostility from residents when the inevitably loose patience with the men.  I just wish people would try the education approach before things get out of  hand.  It's worked in other places.  It can work here, too.

Mexican youth shot by border agent on Monday: the full video

This is the full ten minutes of film of the shooting on Monday.

The Border Patrol Union has released the following statement:

The National Border Patrol Council said the still-unidentified agent acted appropriately after Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka, 15, started throwing rocks in his direction.

"Since biblical times, rocks have been used as a crude but effective weapon to injure and kill humans," the union said. "On June 8, 2010, when Border Patrol Agents were assaulted at the U.S./Mexico border by several individuals armed with rocks, they were forced to defend themselves and their fellow agents. Border Patrol Agents are not trained, nor paid to withstand violent assaults without the ability to defend themselves. Rocks are weapons and constitute deadly force."

The union also stated, "While the loss of this teenager’s life is regrettable, it is due solely to his decision to pick up a rock and assault a United States Border Patrol Agent. We stand behind the actions of the agents who did their duty in El Paso, and are confident that the investigation into his incident will justify their actions."

Please note what was NOT said here. There is no accusation that the teen actually HIT the agent, and as I said before, I'm not certain why the adult with the gun didn't stand back out of the range of the rock throwers. These kids are not Stephen Strassburg, after all.

Tips for Retiring Abroad

Recently I've been working through the data I collected in Mexico in 2005-2007 on retirement abroad. In keeping with the original theme of this blog, I am posting the following tips from US News and World Report on retiring abroad.

8 Tips for an Affordable Retirement Abroad - US News and World Report

More on the Mexican youth shot by border agents on Monday

ore information is coming out about the border patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican boy on the Mexican side of the border.  I've posted a report from CNN and two videos below.  The first is a video of the rock throwing/fatal shooting exchange.  The second is an interview with an FBI agent who is investigating the event.

The FBI is treating this investigation as an assault on a federal officer, not one of civil rights.

The Border Patrol has released a statement that indicates that the 15 year old who was fatally shot was suspected of smuggling and had been detailed several times.  Interestingly, he had never been arrested.

What I find troubling about this incident is the fact that the boys were standing a significant distance from the agents.  I doubt there was any way that the agents in question even knew who they were shooting at, but even if they did, the boy was suspected-not accused, not charged and there was no warrant out for his arrest.

I clearly understand that rock throwing can be dangerous, however, if you look at the film, the boys were a pretty significant distance from the officers, on their side of the border, and were throwing rocks in a manner that looked like they'd have trouble hitting the side of a barn. 

My question is, why did the agents feel the need to use deadly force?  Where they simply angry and lost it?  Did they feel entitled to shoot across the border and kill these kids who were certainly an annoyance.  But did they need to be shot?  Wouldn't it have been more prudent to stand back, out of rock throwing range?

It's an unfortunate incident.  I would also like to pose a another question: if a Mexican Federale shot and killed an American rock-throwing teen ON US TERRITORY how would you respond?

The full report from

(CNN) -- The 15-year-old Mexican youth who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent had a history of involvement with human smuggling and was on a list of repeat juvenile offenders, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mark Qualia told CNN Thursday.

The victim, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, had been apprehended by U.S. officials on more than one occassion but was never criminally charged, Qualia said.

The use of juveniles to smuggle people across the border is a common tactic for smugglers, he said.
Meanwhile, a video obtained by CNN casts doubt on the Border Patrol agent's claim that he was surrounded by rock-throwing suspected illegal immigrants when he fatally shot the boy on the border at Ciudad Juarez.

CNN obtained the video, which was shot by a witness on a cell phone camera from the Mexican side of the border, from affiliate Univision. The video aired on its program Primer Impacto late Wednesday evening.

The video shows part of the buildup before the incident, with several individuals running underneath the Puente Negro, a railroad span that connects the two countries.

Monday night's incident started around 6:30 p.m. when Border Patrol agents responded to a report of a group of suspected illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States near the Paso del Norte port of entry, FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons said.

In the distance, a U.S. Border Patrol officer on a bicycle can be seen making his way toward the area. Seconds later, the officer can be seen getting off the bicycle and approaching two of the four suspected Mexican nationals who had just crossed through an opening in the fence. One of the suspects is detained by the officer, but never handcuffed, and is dragged a short distance. This happened on the U.S. side of the border.

Moments later, the officer points what appears to be his firearm in the direction of a second suspect, standing about 60 feet away from the officer -- on the Mexican side of the border. The video shows the suspect running away.

Seconds later, two gunshots can be heard on the video. A third gunshot is heard in a different sequence of the tape. After the shooting, another suspect is seen running in the upper left side of screen away from the incident.

"They're throwing rocks," witnesses screaming in Spanish can be heard in the background of the video as the officer opens fire. "They hit him ... they hit him."

The video contradicts Simmons' account. She had said: "This agent, who had the second subject detained on the ground, gave verbal commands to the remaining subjects to stop and retreat. However, the subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him. The agent then fired his service weapon several times, striking one subject who later died."

A federal law enforcement official told CNN that the FBI's use of the word "surrounded," was "probably not the best choice of words," and that it is more accurate to say that people were nearby throwing rocks.

The FBI has been studying videos of the incident and said some of the video does show rocks being thrown at the Border Patrol agents, the official said.

Hernandez Guereca was a secondary student in Juarez.

"The young man was not armed," said Sergio Belmonte, Ciudad Juarez spokesman. "He did not have the physical size to threaten anyone. The aggression (by the U.S. agent) is evident." Belmonte said Hernandez was shot in the head.

"My people have spoken to his family. His dad says he was a straight-A student. His secondary school even sent him on an academic trip because of his good grades," Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said.
A memorial for Hernandez was to be held in Juarez Thursday morning, according to Reyes. Local politicians were expected to attend.

Reports that the Mexican military may have drawn weapons on U.S. Border Patrol agents, which surfaced earlier Wednesday, could not be immediately confirmed. The tape released by Univision did not show any Mexican military troops.

"We are aware of those reports, but I cannot confirm them to you at this time," said Mexican military spokesman Enrique Torres. "I plan on speaking with the individuals who are said to have been involved, but I can't and won't confirm that to you. I cannot speculate."

The Mexican government has requested a quick and transparent investigation into the fatal shooting.
Mexico "reiterates that the use of firearms to repel a rock attack represents a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from authorities who receive specialized training on the matter," the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a news release.

Simmons told CNN earlier that she did not know whether the person who was shot was on the Mexican or U.S. side of the border, but the agent never left U.S. territory.

The body was found on the Mexican side of the border, Simmons said.

Peaceful protests against the U.S. Border Patrol were held in Juarez on Wednesday, near the site of the fatal shooting.

In video shot by CNN affiliate KVIA, a man holding a bullhorn is seen pacing back and forth on the dusty streets of Juarez, pleading "Justice for Hernandez" to any passerby who would listen.
The shooting comes less than two weeks after the May 31 death of a Mexican illegal immigrant who had been detained three days earlier by border agents in California.

A suspect identified as Oscar Ivan Pineda Ayala was initially detained on the Rio Grande levee, said the FBI, which is leading the investigation.

"The growing frequency of this type of event reflects a worrisome increment in the use of excessive force on the part of some border authorities," the Mexican Foreign Ministry said.

According to the ministry, the number of Mexicans who have been killed or wounded by U.S. border authorities has increased from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and 17 so far this year.

Earlier, Qualia, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, said he could not comment because he does not know where the Mexican government obtained its statistics.

But Qualia said there were 799 assaults on border agents from October 1, 2009, through May 31 -- up from 745 assaults for the same time period in 2007-08 and 658 for the same span in 2008-09.
Lethal force, he said, is allowed "when an agent is in imminent threat of physical or bodily harm, which could cause death or injury or in protection of an innocent third party."

The determination of when to use lethal force, Qualia said, is made by each individual agent at the scene.

From October 1 through May 31, he said, Custom and Border Protection agents used their firearms 31 times.

Rock-throwing can be considered a dangerous assault, Qualia said: "They're not chunking pebbles."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Press, Misrepresentation, and Misunderstanding

To my readers:  
Yesterday a local Virginia newspaper ran a story in response to a a press release regarding research that I and my colleague, Carol Cleaveland, had conducted in Manassas in 2008 and 2009. We are ethnographers, which means we utilize ethnography as our primary research method.  Ethnography is a research method often used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, folklore and sociology, but also in a variety of other fields.  The goal of ethnography is to gather data that is in-depth and from a small group of people.  Usually this would be a local community, a neighborhood, or even a small town.  Data collection is done a number of ways: participant observation (where the researcher lives alongside his or her informants and documents day-to-day life and activities), but also interviews and questionnaires.  The purpose of an ethnographic account is to describe those who are studies (i.e., the people or ethnos) and to document this through writing, thus the term, ethnography. 
We began our work in Manassas in the Weems neighborhood and Sumner Lakes in March 2008.  During that period, we interviewed 100 households that were randomly selected.  These households were non-immigrant households. The householder had to be able to speak English fluently to participate.  The summary of that research is highlighted this statement that I made earlier this year:

“Our research suggests that the changes that have taken place in Manassas in the last 20 years have been unsettling for some residents," says Debra Lattanzi Shutika, assistant professor of English at Mason. "Many of these residents seemed to be experiencing what I have identified as a type of ‘localized displacement'—they feel out of place in their home community. In some cases, residents told us that they found it difficult to adapt to the changes taking place around them, and that these changes that made their 'home' seem unfamiliar.”
Throughout this phase of the research, we asked residents about a number of changes in their community. What we found is that Manassas had changed significantly over the last 20 years, and many residents viewed those changes as unsettling.  We also discovered that  a majority of the people we talked to had strong negative feelings about immigrants. We interviewed 103 households and then went back and did an additional 30 in-depth interviews.  These ranged from 1-3 hours in length, depending on the informant.
In the second phase of this study, we went into two predominantly Latino neighborhoods and interviewed a non-random sample of residents. There we interviewed 60 people.  These residents reported feeling alienated from the community, and in some cases, extreme fear.  What I told Ms. Chumley when I spoke to her on Monday was, although it was not surprising that an undocumented person would feel frightened by the law, we were not expecting DOCUMENTED LATINOS, of which there are many in the area, to feel this way.  In fact, the responses of the documented indicated that they were just as likely to fear leaving their homes or sending their children out to play as others.  [Note: for reasons of confidentiality, we did not directly ask people about their documentation status.  However, those who were documented were forthcoming about their residency status.]

When I read Ms. Chumley's article, I was disappointed with her report because she clearly misrepresented our work.  For instance, both Prof. Cleaveland and I told her that we understood the frustrations of Manassas residents who were distressed with changes in their neighborhoods, such as having neighbors who did not cut their grass, had too many cars parked around their homes, and left trash unattended around their homes and on their laws.  For my part, most of the work that I have done in the last 15 years with immigration has focused equally on American-born residents in new destinations of Mexican migration.  I recently published an essay on this, which is linked here.
In short, I may disagree with some of my informants about their perspectives on immigration, but that is not to say that I don't think their perspectives should be ignored.  I honestly think that one of the major reasons why immigration has become such a volatile topic is because for too long residents complaints about the changes to their communities and the legitimate problems that come with a rapid increase in an immigrant population have been ignored by their local government. 
And please note: Prof. Cleaveland and I did not have to go into Weems or Sumner Lakes and do interviews.  We could have followed the path of many of our colleagues and only focused on the perspectives of Latinos.  We could also have simply published our work in peer-reviewed journals and no one would have questioned us regarding why we did not talk to American-born residents.  

However, we decided that, in light of the ordinances, the people in these communities deserved to have a say, and we gave them the opportunity to share their perspectives.
Getting back to the article written by Ms Chumley yesterday, there were a number of errors in it, and in places she clearly misrepresented us.  Prof. Cleaveland and I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper, and to date we have not had a response from the editor or Ms. Chumley.  Below is a excerpt from that letter:

We agreed to an interview with Cynthia Chumley on the assumption that as a reporter, she would adhere to basic principles of fairness.  Reporters are taught early on in journalism programs to offer subjects of an article the chance to respond to allegations--especially those that can harm the reputation of people either professionally or personally.  This reporter has quoted two public officials, including one who made serious allegation about the scientific merits of our research.
This reporter made no effort to allow us the opportunity to respond.
The following are our concerns:
  1. Though we stated repeatedly in our interviews that our work also focused on non-Latino views of the situation in PWC and Manassas, and that we both understood and sympathized many resident's frustration, she chose to leave these comments out of the article.
  2. This reporter never allowed us the opportunity to respond to allegations that our work is not scientific and our methodology is flawed
  3.  This reporter quotes a public official who does not appear to have the credentials to evaluate scientific research, and gives him a platform for alleging that our work has no merit.
  4. Chumley describes one researcher as a "professional social worker," which appears to be a deliberate effort to ignore the fact that Cleaveland has a Ph.D. in the field, and is therefore a social scientist.
  5. She also questions the use of ethnographic methodology, a method of inquiry developed at the University of Chicago in the 20th century, and which continues to be practiced and refined by social scientists.
  6. It is apparent from the article that Ms. Chumley's intention was to created a controversy about our work, specifically by characterizing our research as having a specific agenda--to oppose the PWC ordinances--which we clearly and repeatedly told her in the interview as not the case.
  7. Although we strongly disagree with Ms. Chumley's methods and characterization of our work, we would like the opportunity to share our research with your readers.  We are willing to write a brief op-ed piece that accurately describes our methods, purpose and findings to set the record straight.
  8. As scholars of immigration, and as advanced scholars in our prospective fields, we both recognize that some readers will disagree with our research and our findings. However, we cannot allow your publications to mischaracterize our work and allow those claims to go unchallenged.

Border Patrol Agent Kills Mexican Teen--on Mexican side of the Border

This article from today's Washington Post discusses the case of a Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican teen who was standing on the Mexican side of the border.  Allegedly the teen and his friends were taunting and throwing rocks at a group of agents, and one agent shot and killed the boy in response.

This is a terrible tragedy.  I understand that there must be an incredible amount of attention on the border right now.  Nevertheless, as a nation we cannot allow this type of behavior under any circumstances.

Globalization and the Criminalization of Immigrants