Category Archives: Immigration

The Great Safety Distraction

In December 2015 the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau issued an update on “Nevada Crime and Corrections.” (pdf)  What we discover from this brief table of statistics is that between 2009 and 2013 the percentage change in the number of crimes committed dropped by 4%.  We had a relatively high rate of violent crimes per 100,000 persons (4th nationally) but the violent crime rate in Nevada between 2009 and 2013 declined by 16.2%, while the national violent crime rate declined by 14.8%.  Somehow these numbers make the drumbeat of references to violent criminal immigrants ring a bit hollow.  Street  gangs are a problem, but the problem may not be as dramatic as proponents of immigration restriction infer.

The Las Vegas Sun published an article in June 2015 with the dramatic headline that there were approximately 20,000 street gang members in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.  The population total for the Las Vegas area in 2015 was estimated at 2,111,000.  [data]  The Las Vegas economic agencies inform us that 45% of the Clark County population is white, 10.3% is African-American, and 30.9% are Hispanic/Latino, and another 9.3% are of Asian descent.  However, as the Sun article suggests it’s hard to equate gang membership to immigration or ethnic status in any definitive way, because each demographic group has its own gangs.

The street gangs identified in Las Vegas tend to be associated with the old standard Crips and Bloods — the Crips having developed in Los Angeles between the mid 1960’s and 1971.  The Bloods developing in response to the increasing influence of the Crips.  White gangs are more difficult to track in terms of membership because they dislike calling themselves a gang, although it’s hard to differentiate their violence and drug trafficking from that of their African American cohorts.  The Hispanic street gangs show a similar connection to California as those of the African American gangs.

The major group appears to be the Surenos (Southerners, as in Southern California) opposed by the Nortenos (Northerners, also from California), and their associated;  added to by a Las Vegas oriented group the Barrio Naked City gang. [Sun]  Notice that MS-13, the group often cited by the current President is not among these major gangs in the Las Vegas area.  One reason may well be that law enforcement has depleted their  leadership. [LVnow]  They’ve been a target of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice for the past two years.  The most recent estimate indicates that there are about 150 MS 13 gang members in the Las Vegas area.  We now enter the realm of conflation.

It is extremely difficult to definitively state that US immigration policy has a direct correlation to gang activity, especially in terms of minors and young people entering the country.  DHS has been asked for statistics/data on unaccompanied minors who are found to be gang members, but did not respond (Politifact).  A person who has been charged with a crime in a foreign country is not eligible for asylum in the U.S. Another issue is that the officials aren’t breaking down what is meant by “gang members or suspected gang members.” Some instances of the gang label have not been substantiated by immigration enforcement.  [See the Savaria v. Sessions case.  Also: ACLU, and ACLU petition pdf]  If we conflated “confirmed” and “suspected” memberships then the problems associated with gangs are automatically exaggerated. [Politifact] Yet another problem with the conflation is that no one appears certain that minors who came to the US came as gang members or were recruited after they arrived.   [Politifact]  The Politifact article summarizes the conflation problem:

“DHS, Sessions, and Trump are trying to shift the focus of immigration enforcement to MS-13 in order to repeatedly drill in the message that immigrants are dangerous criminals,” Ahmed said.

But many gang members were born in the United States, and gangs form in conditions of marginality, which also exist in other countries, said Wolf, the researcher with CIDE in Mexico.

“There is no doubt that MS-13 has engaged in serious and heinous forms of violence, devastating families and communities. But the emphasis on immigrants as the source of the gang problem in the United States is misguided,” said David C. Pyrooz, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, whose research includes gangs and criminal networks.  [Politifact]

Of course one of the other dangers in the continual ‘calling out” of a particular (and particularly violent) gang is that public attention is diverted from gangs with larger memberships and which are homegrown.

MEANWHILE!  We have a President who categorically refuses to acknowledge the dangers presented to this country by Russian interference in our political institutions and processes. Who will not acknowledge the warnings given by our CIA, FBI, and national security experts. Who will not enforce the sanctions enacted by the 115th Congress. Who would prefer we focus our attention on the 150 MS 13 gang members in Las Vegas than the KARYN Network pushing the social media “news” on behalf of Russian interests.

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Filed under Crime Rates, Immigration, Nevada politics, Politics

Hopes, Fears, and History: Immigration Policy Redux

Saturday. January 27, 2018. Holocaust Memorial Day.  Please hold this in mind as we look at the administration’s proposed immigration legislation.  Now, please notice the immigration restrictions in the latest White House immigration proposal:

“In addition to the citizenship path that would take up to 12 years, the White House framework includes a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall and additional security upgrades on the southwestern and northern U.S. borders. And the president is proposing terminating the ability of U.S. citizens to petition for permanent legal residency “green cards” for parents and siblings, limiting the family visas to spouses and minor children.”[WaPo]

The petitions mentioned in the proposals are meant to reunify families, or in the pejorative “chain immigration.”  Family visas are to be limited to spouses and minor children.

A Trip Down A Dark Memory Alley 

Flashback: We are in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the pogrom in November 1938 in Nazi Germany.  Nazi policy is now obvious, if it wasn’t before.  Unfortunately, so was US immigration policy:

“Anti-Semitism fueled by the Depression and by demagogues like the radio priest Charles Coughlin influenced immigration policy. In 1939 pollsters found that 53 percent of those interviewed agreed with the statement “Jews are different and should be restricted.” Between 1933 and 1945 the United States took in only 132,000 Jewish refugees, only ten percent of the quota allowed by law.

Reflecting a nasty strain of anti-Semitism, Congress in 1939 refused to raise immigration quotas to admit 20,000 Jewish children fleeing Nazi oppression. As the wife of the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration remarked at a cocktail party, “20,000 children would all too soon grow up to be 20,000 ugly adults.”  [GL.org]

The 1939 refugee children’s immigration bill was bi-partisan, sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner (D-NY) and on the House side by Rep. Edith Norse Rogers (R-MA), and it garnered significant support from national leaders.  However, then as now it didn’t have the support of the America First crowd.

“…the opposition struck back with calls to, yes, put America first.

“Protect the youth of America from this foreign invasion,” thundered John Trevor, the head of the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, a restrictionist organization with a reach of about 2.5 million members. Trevor had built a career for himself by railing against rising immigration and its pernicious effect on America’s national character. He helped shape the 1924 Immigration Act, which established the restrictive quota system that was explicitly designed to curtail Italians and Jews, excluded the Japanese altogether, and stood as U.S. policy for 40 years.” [Slate] (emphasis added)

The bill did manage to get a hearing, but the opposition was active and loud and ultimately successful:

“In April 1939, a joint Senate-House committee held four days of hearings on Wagner-Rogers. Sympathetic witnesses offered moving humanitarian pleas. They also stressed that children would not compete with American citizens for jobs. Nativist opponents presented standard anti-immigration claims as well as innovative assertions such as the claim that the wording of the bill could enable 20,000 Nazi children to come to the U.S. Therefore, they claimed, the effect of the bill would be to tear German families apart. The Senate and House subcommittees both voted unanimously in favor of Wagner-Rogers.” [JVL]

The committee votes weren’t sufficient. By July 1, 1939 the bill was dead, pigeonholed in committee.  The shadow of the 1924 Immigration Act remained a feature of American policy, first expressed in 1790 when the government declared immigration was only acceptable if the applicants for citizenship were “free white persons of good character.” [NYT]  The re-establishment of the KKK, the disillusionment after World War I, the virulent anti-Semitism of Father Coughlin, and the association in the public mind of Jews and the Communist Party (or other efforts for labor organizing) all combined to keep the ugly shadow firmly over American horizons.  The 1930’s were particularly vulgar:

“In the 1930s, even as Americans regularly read news about Jews being attacked on the streets in Nazi Germany, there was no national appetite for increasing immigration. As the waiting lists for U.S. immigration visas swelled, so did anti-Semitism in the United States.  In 1939, Sen. Robert Reynolds of North Carolina (who ran his own anti-Semitic newspaper, the American Vindicator), proposed bills to end all immigration for five years, declaring in a June 1939 speech that the time had come to “save America for Americans.” [The Hill]

Decision Time 

Sound familiar?   Substitute Jewish, Italian, and Eastern European for Mexican and Muslim, and the similarities are obvious. “They” were anarchists (the terrorists of the day), agitators (the labor organizers, protesters, of the day) and worse still some of them were active in Civil Rights organizing (read: improving the status of women and  African Americans).

So, consider for a moment on this Holocaust Memorial Day how the Temple B’nai Israel in Victoria, Texas handed over the keys to its building to the congregation of the Victoria Islamic Center in the wake of an arson attack on the Center, February 2017. [CNN] Or how in that same month a Muslim organization launched a fund raising campaign to help pay for the damage done by anti-Semitic vandals to a Jewish cemetery. [NYDN]

At this point it’s appropriate to ask:  Which voices are we heeding?  The voices of Muslims and Jews in Victoria. Texas? Or the virulent rantings of the hateful vestiges of the short-lived Vindicator?

Are we to exclude family members from dangerous territories because they aren’t “family?” Because they are adult siblings of US residents and citizens? Because we don’t want to allow US residents/citizens to rescue their parents or their grandparents? Because we might be “flooded by the ‘ugly adults'” if we allow the rescue of little nieces and nephews?   Are we hardened against allowing a US citizen from sponsoring a family member who wants to come to this City on a Hill to work hard and follow the American Dream?

We have some choices to make in 2018, not the least of which is whether we are to be that City on the Hill or the stockade of anti-Semitism of years past transformed into an over-sized gated community of anti-immigrant sentiment opposed to allowing anyone not “free white of good character” to share in the creation of the country in the 21st century?

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Adam Laxalt: The Grandson of Immigrants doesn’t like immigrants?

Adam Paul Laxalt seems to have forgotten that he is a descendant of Dominique and Therese Laxalt.  He also appears to have forgotten that Dominique Laxalt started life in the great American west as a sheepherder.  I supposed he’d prefer Nevadans identify him as the grandson of former Governor Paul Laxalt, popular politician and friend of Ronald Reagan — not especially as the great grandson of a Basque sheepherder.   He must be only tenuously connected to his immigrant roots because that’s the only rational explanation for his joining the “anti-sanctuary city” case brought by 11 AGs:

 “The brief urges the court to reverse a U.S. District Court judge’s order preventing the implementation of the federal government’s executive order pertaining to sanctuary cities. The case is an opportunity to remedy the threat California’s “sanctuary cities” pose to Nevada safety, Laxalt’s office stated.” [Sierra Sun]

First let’s look at the rational as published by the Sierra Sun, and evaluate Laxalt’s position.  Part One:

“Nevada’s law enforcement officials, including all 17 currently elected county sheriffs, have consistently opposed sanctuary-city policies that would prevent compliance with federal law and compromise public safety, the office stated. In the vast majority of cases, an individual must be arrested for committing a crime and booked into a jail or detention facility before Nevada law enforcement agencies check whether the individual is sought by federal immigration authorities and, if so, alert those federal authorities, the office stated. Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”

The part about “compromising public safety” needs a bit more explication.  In standard law enforcement practice, a person does something criminal, that is commits a felony or a misdemeanor, and is detained. After detention law enforcement looks into the person’s background — outstanding warrants? Outstanding court issues? …. Immigration status? The Oval Office Anti-Immigrant policy inserts ICE into the arrest process, and herein lies a problem — If the individual arrested for being publicly intoxicated thereby disturbing the peace  (NRS 203.010) is named Smith, Johnson, or Baker what is the likelihood the sheriff’s office is going to check with ICE for his or her immigration status?  What we have here is an invitation to discrimination, whites detained face misdemeanor penalties and Hispanics face more extensive investigations by ICE for being named Hernandez.

The odds are in Nevada the person with the Hispanic surname is US born.  Hispanics are 28% of the state’s population, and of this number 61% were born in the United States. [Pew]  The most common Hispanic name in Nevada is Garcia.  [Anc.com] If Garcia is the most common surname for a person of Hispanic heritage in Nevada then we can add Jose as the most common name for a boy of Mexican descent.  Now, consider for a moment what happens when a Jose Garcia is picked up in violation of NRS 203.010 and his “name is compared” to an ICE target list.  Think there aren’t ample opportunities for mistakes to be made? Maybe think again.  As for releasing “violent offenders back into communities…” that needs to be discussed as well.

Sanctuary-city policies that prohibit this communication allow violent offenders to be released back into the community, the office stated.”  This is a misvioleading conflation of the first water. The statement works IF and Only IF we assume that the person detained is automatically assumed to be a violent offender or if violent offenders are the most commonly arrested.  It also works IF the audience assumes “those people” are likely to be violent offenders, the release of any one of them puts the population in peril.  To make these assumptions AG Laxalt would have to ignore the 2016 Crime in Nevada report. (long pdf)

A person doesn’t get far into the 2016 Department of Public Safety report before it’s obvious that the most common index crimes in this state are good old fashioned garden variety property crimes: burglary, larceny.   The five year average for property crime (2012-2016) stands at 76,833 far outpacing personal crime averages.  So, even for ‘serious’ crimes, the ones that get reported as indexed, the odds are a person didn’t get picked up for a violent crime against a person.  Therefore the argument that we should turn our local deputies into ICE officers because otherwise we’d have roving rapists and murderers in our midst is more fear mongering than reality.  Not that this prevents AG Laxalt from turning up the burners:

 “Sanctuary cities in California pose a danger to neighboring states like Nevada by making it easier for those not lawfully in this country and with violent criminal histories to evade law enforcement and travel out of state. What’s more, these cities undermine the rule of law and prevent cooperation between federal and local officials.”

“Undermining the rule of law” is a common refrain among right wing anti-immigration advocates.  We could as easily argue that what undermines the rule of law is to have people arrested and detained because they have the same name as a person on an ICE list, or that if one’s name is Smith or Jones there will be no extra scrutiny but if your last name is Garcia or … Laxalt… then the person can sweat the possibility of mistakes.  The rule of law can also be undermined by immigration agents who dump water bottles in the desert (and brag about it) or threaten a doctor with deportation for juvenile offenses ages ago, and make it all but impossible for immigrant women to press charges for sexual assaults because to do so would invite deportation proceedings.  It also undermines respect for the law if we deliberately ignore the fact that the statistics on crimes don’t support the assertion illegal immigrants commit more crimes:

“The tone and tenor of the president’s executive order blurs the line between who’s a serious criminal and who isn’t,” and between documented and undocumented immigrants, said Randy Capps, the institute’s director of research for United States programs. There is no national accounting of criminality specifically by people who are in the country illegally. But Mr. Nowrasteh said he had analyzed the available figures and concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.”  [NYT] (emphasis added)

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I’m Watching a Basketball Game (Instead of the DACA drama)

Yes, in the midst of the Soap Opera that is the Federal Government of these United States this political junkie is watching a basketball game I recorded yesterday. Why? Because I received just about all the news I need for the next couple of days in perhaps less than 15 minutes this morning.   The rest will be noise.

Every pundit ever hired by every cable broadcast network will expend altogether too much energy “explaining” what the machinations of the past week “mean.”  Since I’ve come to believe they aren’t significantly better at prognostication than your average ground hog, octopus, or other member of the animal kingdom, I’ll stick to my own interpretation.

The Republicans are eventually going to own the mess they’ve made.  The DACA program was working in September 2017 when the Big Dealer in Chief stuck his foot in it.  Why? I’m going to go with the explanation that it was in support of the rather egregious House version of a Bridge Act introduced on January 12, 2017.  (HR 496 for those keeping score) There is no path to citizenship in the House version, and the bill essentially treats Dreamers as cheap labor, to be exploited by both employers and the federal government in terms of an endless assessment of fees.  It would also cover precious few Dreamers.

In today’s dispatches from delusion-ville, the White House wants an immigration bill that is “good for America.”  I think we can safely assume this means no path to citizenship for young people who’ve known no other country but this one, a “merit-based” immigration plan (which really isn’t similar to Canada’s any more than it’s similar to the Canadian health care system the Republicans were quick to malign), and it eliminates family reconciliation.   A miserable, un-American plan though it may be, I am of the opinion the House “Bridge Act” [text] is what Stephen Miller and the other racists in the West Wing have in mind.  The timing looks a bit suspicious to me, Trump signed the executive order eliminating the DACA program on September 5th, the same day there was a discharge petition in the House — which promptly went nowhere.

And now we do have a major mess.   The Big Dealer in Chief doesn’t have a position on much of anything, much less immigration.  However, that state of affairs doesn’t mean he won’t attach himself to whatever buzzwords and banners will help keep his radical base in line.  Thus we can assume he will order another Diet Coke while twittering on about “immigrants and crime” (a truly faulty proposition) or “immigrants versus citizens” (without bothering to notice the connection between immigrants and their contributions to the American economy — the economy benefiting citizens; and, giving us all to understand that the Norwegians (82.3% white) are preferable to those from those **hole places which send us an in-ordinary number of people with advanced degrees.

So, the herd on Capitol Hill has until February 8, 2018 to clean up.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell is now without one of his more important hostages — CHIP beneficiaries, and Senator McCaskill knocked the legs out from under his Military hostages when she offered an measure to pay members of the Armed Forces and Sen. McConnell objected.  What McConnell did secure was the capacity to put House Speaker Ryan into a soup largely of his own concoction.

Speaker Ryan, has a problem — he has to come up with a DACA fix acceptable to the Senate, a solution not currently available in legislative language on his side of the building.  If the House does move toward a compromise bill his Freedom (for us but not anyone else) Caucus will scream to the heavens.  If the House stays put with its current version, the Senate Democrats can shut down the government funding for round two, and this time on more solid ground.  A compromise bill will likely not please either side of the divide, however the House alternative will cement the reputation of Republicans as the Party of Racists.

Thus, the Party which has promulgated the notion that allowing anyone at any time to march down the road to full citizenship is “amnesty,”  is now fettered with a label they’ve sought to avoid since the sainted Ronald Reagan gave his “state’s rights” speech at the Neshoba County Fair on August 3, 1980 giving voice and heft to the Southern Strategy.

Popcorn anyone?

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Discussing Immigration With A Republican, or The Art of the Yeah But

Take a segment of the radical right Republican pronouncements from television, a few more from their written commentary, add Republican spokespersons drawling on about the subject, put these together and it’s not hard to imagine a dialog Q and A on the subject of immigration policy.  To wit:

Q – Do you support a DREAM Act for DACA recipients?

A – Yes, but…

Q – But what?

A – But we have to address Chain Migration.

Q – Why?

A – Because, we might be allowing in rapists, killers, and drug dealers!

Q – What percentage of immigrants indulge in these criminal behaviors?

A – Lots of them you see it in the news every day.

Q – Do news reports indicate the citizenship status of arrestees and those convicted?

A- No, but you know that They are more likely to commit crimes.

Q –  We don’t know that with any certainty.  Actually, the better research reports that immigrants have lower crime rates than natural born citizens. [CBS]

A – Yeah but, we have to get rid of that diversity lottery system, it’s terrible. We need skilled workers not unskilled people who will end up on welfare and food stamps.

Q – You know that those who are not citizens aren’t eligible for food assistance and public welfare programs? You know that there are some jobs which immigrants are willing and capable of doing which are not being filled at the moment?

A – Yeah, but an influx of immigrants causes wages for American workers to decline.

Q – Uh, that isn’t true either, levels of immigration don’t force down American wages [Time]

A – Yeah, but it’s a matter of law and order! Either we enforce our laws or we don’t, and we can’t become a lawless country, and those DACA recipients are illegal aliens.

Q – We don’t hold children, especially those under the age of seven, liable for the crimes of their parents.  Besides which, DACA recipients must be working or in school, and must not be arrested for any crime, no matter how minor.  They pay for DACA registration, and agree to extensive background checks. So, what’s the problem?

A – Yeah but, we have to have a Wall!  We have to impede the flow of immigrants and drugs.

Q – Are you aware that most contraband “hard” drugs don’t come over remote parts of  “the border,” but come in via ports of entry?  [Tucson.Com]

A – Yeah but, we can’t have so many people coming in without skills, education, and so forth. We need skilled workers who speak English fluently, and don’t come from broken nations.  We need merit based immigration.

Q – You do understand that Nigerian immigrants and those from subsaharan Africa have more advanced degrees than the average American citizen? [LAT] So, are you saying we need more immigrants from Nigeria? From Kenya? From Botswana?

A – Yeah but we need people who can assimilate and share American values.

Q – Do you mean something like willing to engage in the free market and become entrepreneurs?  As in approximately 25% of immigrants to this country are entrepreneurs? [Forbes]

A – Yeah but, they should speak English before they get here, because English is our national language; and, they shouldn’t take advantage of our schools and social safety net programs!

Q – You do remember, from a few lines above, that they aren’t eligible for social assistance programs?  And, you do know that according to most studies done on the subject most recent immigrants do what previous immigrants have done, i.e. lose the native language almost completely in three generations?  [Economist]

A- Yeah but, they don’t assimilate into our society like previous waves of immigrants.

Q – Like German, Irish, Jewish and Eastern Europeans?  Like Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Indian immigrants today?

A – Yeah. Like those people.

Q – What’s different about Mexican and Central American immigrants from Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Indian immigrants?

A – Yeah but… They can bring in their relatives… they can bring in relatives who are from terrorist countries.

Q – You are aware, aren’t you, that the vast majority of immigrants are not terrorists, and that in fact those “3 out of 4” persons convicted of “international terrorism” were foreign born, and the statistics cited by the President* didn’t clarify which were extradited to this country for trial?

A – Yeah but.  We should be safe from terrorists!

Q – Yes, however most of the mass shootings in this country are the work of native born white males, you do know this don’t you?

A – Yeah but, it’s the government’s job to keep us safe.

Q – So, if it’s the government’s job to keep us safe, then we should be concentrating on what ‘radicalizes’ native born white males and how we can prevent them from obtaining lethal weapons which can be turned on innocent people?

A – Yeah but, are you saying you want to take our 2nd Amendment Rights away?

Q – No, but I am suggesting that if we are to focus on the issue of keeping our citizens safe from terrorists and bombers we should apply the same level of scrutiny to white male native born Americans. So, why should we limit immigration in order to keep us safe?Why not limit the license of native born white males who are statistically much more likely to commit mass shootings?

A – Yeah but… we can’t let people into this country to soak up our tax dollars and take up space and resources in our schools, and commit crimes and bring in drugs!

Q – Could it be that the objection is based on the ethnic or racial characteristics of the immigrants rather than on their capacity for assimilation and their observance of American traditions and values?

A – I AM NOT A RACIST.

 

 

 

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The Toddler Problem

One of the refrains from the racist right comes in the form of arguments to end the DACA program and deport all alien born persons who were brought to the US as children, because their mere presence in the country is a violation of the law.   As the late, great, Keith Jackson intoned: “Whoa Nelly.”

As those who have even the most passing knowledge of the DACA program are aware, DACA recipients must be employed or in school, must not have committed any crimes, and must register… but what of those who were brought to this country as very young children.

A person who’s served on jury duty know that there are elements to a crime, the act must be criminal, and the person must be capable of forming the requisite intent. The fancy terms are actus reus (the criminal act) and the mens rea (criminal intent).  So who can form the requisite intent — not a toddler.

This isn’t a new idea, it goes back to English Common Law:

“At common law, children were generally regarded as incapable of committing crimes. However, different presumptions have generally been applied, depending upon the age of the child. Generally, it is conclusively presumed that a child under the age of seven is unable to form a criminal mens rea and, therefore, a child that young cannot be convicted of a crime.”

Federal statutes state that the age for “criminal responsibility” is eleven years of age.  Most states don’t directly address the age issue:

“The minimum age of criminal liability is set at the federal and state level in the United States. At the state level, 33 states set no minimum age of criminal responsibility, theoretically allowing a child to be sentenced to criminal penalties at any age [Cipriani,D. Children’s Rights and the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: A Global Perspective, Ashgate 2009, p. 221 and 222], though in most of these states a capacity related test is applied.

Of the States that do set a minimum age of criminal responsibility, North Carolina has the lowest at seven years, while Wisconsin has the highest at ten years. [For full references of state laws see Cipriani D., Children’s rights and the minimum age of criminal responsibility..”

While Nevada does allow the transfer of cases from juvenile to adult courts, there are tests applied to determine the capacity of the individual to form the intent, and a six year old doesn’t meet the test.  Nevada assumes the jurisdiction of a juvenile court except in certain circumstances in which a person who was sixteen or older during the commission of a crime may be transferred to an adult court. [NRS]

Thus, it’s really difficult to find any rationale for the deportation of individuals who were six or under at the time they accompanied their parents into this country, especially in terms of the buzz phrase “law and order.”

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Tarkanian’s Racist Rhetoric

The Nevada Independent article on the Nevada Senate primary race indicates how this might be a referendum on Donald Trump if Perpetual Candidate Danny Tarkanian  has his way.  However, the portion of Trumpism to which Tarkanian the Lesser is clinging most vociferously is one of the least attractive — good old fashioned racism and xenophobia.

“He also laid out his priority on immigration policy, saying he supported the president’s effort to build a wall along with border with Mexico, and wanted to see an end to chain migration, expressed opposition to the concept of birthright citizenship and expansion of the E-verify system used to root out undocumented workers from the labor pool.

“I do not think that anyone who came to our country illegally should be provided with the greatest gift our country has to offer — citizenship,” he said.” [NVIndy]

There are several items to unpack from this mashup of racist rhetoric.  And it is racist.  Do I see any reference to securing the northern border?  No. This is all about that southern border, the one we share with Mexico. The one over which at the present time we have a net zero immigration from Mexico.  However, as we all know this argument isn’t about net migration statistics — it’s about the US becoming entirely too brownish. Too many phone centers offering instructions and information in Spanish, too many Spanish speaking people in the supermarket, too many Hispanic people holding jobs, having children, buying houses, and sending their kids to school. Too many monolingual white Americans “feeling uncomfortable.”

One of the inferences deserving of additional notice is the concept Tarkanian introduces of the Gift (of living in America) or (applying for American citizenship.)  There isn’t much difference between this concept and the less attractive version, “I got mine now you try to get yours sucker.”

Lost in this version of the immigration issue is the notion that immigrants bring their gifts to the United States.   Einstein was an immigrant.   Accepted not every immigrant is an Einstein, however, if a person happens to be putting yogurt on the breakfast cereal or in the blender with some fruit — perhaps a nod to Hamdi Ulukaya might be in order. He’s the Kurdish ex-sheepherder who popularized Chobani.  Using Google today?  Thank another immigrant Sergey Brin.  And by the way, should one be clad in the most popular American article of clothing — denim jeans — thank another immigrant Levi Strauss.  At this point one the right wingers bluster something like “we’re not talking about those kinds of people, we’re talking about — you know, the ‘others.”

There are at least a couple of ways to perceive this rebuttal. First, as a bit of good old fashioned racism — “they” are brown skinned, Spanish speakers… and, secondly ‘they’ are ‘working class.’  Read: Less than a bonus to American society.  Except as reported last summer and fall, there were vegetables rotting in California fields because of a lack of experienced farm workers to harvest them.  Growers offered higher wages, and there were still shortages of farm workers with the expertise to know what to pick and when to pick it.   Just a few hours ago the Ventura, CA newspaper was asking a grower about the recent crop report, his response:

“I wouldn’t say that it’s been a good few years, but it’s been OK for us,” Tamai said. “I would just say that it’s getting more difficult (and) it’s getting more expensive to grow in the county. It’s pretty pricey here, and there’s always a fight for enough labor.”

Thus much for the immigrant farm workers, (and retail clerks, and restaurant workers, and hotel maids, and pool service workers, and home health aides, and medical technicians, and delivery drivers….) not being a ‘bonus’ to the American way of life.  Unfortunately, the only way to rationalize the idea that immigrants are a “burden’ is to see them as non-productive human beings, instead of witnessing and recognizing the economic value of their work, and appreciating the value of the cultural additions they bring to the country.  There’s nothing new about this contemporary rendition of the old Know Nothings who decried Irish and German migrations.  The era, the languages, and the clothing may change, but it’s the same old racist rant.

Another point in Tarkanian’s disturbing comments needs a mention:  We do have a `14th Amendment,” for a reason.  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State in which they reside..”

That’s all persons.  And if Tarkanian the Lesser is calling for the end of the 14th Amendment he might need to come to the understanding this means African Americans, who were to be made citizens not only of the US but also of the states which formerly allowed chattel slavery.   There’s usually a stammer or two from advocates of abolishing the 14th Amendment about merely modifying the Amendment when this point come up. Modify it how?  The devil is indeed in the details, and one of the details involves how one perceives babies.   Advocates of amending the Amendment often cite “abuses relating to anchor babies.”  The term itself in inherently offensive.

“Children are widely seen as innocent and pure … yet there is an unspoken racial element there, for children of color are all too often pictured as criminals or welfare cheats in training,” said Haney Lopez, author of “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked The Middle Class.”

Dog whistle is a term used to describe coded language that means one thing in general but has an additional meaning for a targeted population.

The racializing of children of color is “the ignoble tradition that finds voice in the phrase ‘anchor babies,’ which tarnishes even the tiniest infant with the stain of being one of ‘them,’ the dark and dangerous who invade our society,” Haney Lopez said.” [NBC]

We could do without the epithets like ‘anchor baby’ and related emissions from the racist bull horns.  Or we might ask: Does Tarkanian the Lesser think infants are tiny nefarious invaders?”

Sadly, there is an audience for Tarkanian’s racist campaign rhetoric.  They are white, they are frustrated, they are racists, and they will applaud his rantings.  They will vote for him because he will say aloud what they’ve been thinking — Mexicans are drug dealers (as the Chinese were characterized more than a century ago) — Mexicans are a burden to society (as the Irish were a century and a half ago) — Mexicans are filling up our neighborhoods (like the Eastern European Jews and Italians of the early 20th century).

Racial revanchists have been among us since time out of mind — however, it would be nice to get through one election cycle without a blatant reminder of their proximity.

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