Tag Archives: Immigration

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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Heller’s Tele-Somethings Redux

Senator Dean Heller is fond of his Telephone Town Halls, which, as we’ve noted previously are more telephonics than town halls.  [Here, and especially here]

Perhaps he’s addressed the transparency problems associated with his previous telephone conference calls, but maybe not:

“Senator Heller has employed this one in the not so distant past.  It goes like this.  Have a telephone conference call from which questions are solicited from the public.  However, the fog descends almost immediately. Are the questions pre-screened?  There’s no way to know with absolute certainty, but someone has to be taking the calls like a radio call-in broadcast so chaos doesn’t happen.  Thus, it isn’t too hard to imagine that some pre-screening is happening.

These town halls can also be re-cycled.  The contact with the constituent begins with “You are invited to participate in Senator Sludgepump’s telephone town hall. If you have a question for the Senator press (number) and give your name and address…)

It doesn’t take too many conversations to figure out that if Constituent A heard the town hall on Monday evening, and Constituent B heard the same town hall on Tuesday evening, then we can assume people have been listening to a canned recycling of a political campaign pitch.  Hardly a town hall.”

Therefore, a person would be excused from being a little skeptical about the current iterations of Senator Heller’s open mic nights.   Thanks to the Nevada Independent we have a taste of the latest town hall:

“Asked why he supported Trump after the president reportedly called some African nations, Haiti and El Salvador “s**hole” countries, described his forceful sexual advances in an Access Hollywood tape and called outlets such as the BBC “fake news,” Heller told the caller that she probably supported Democratic presidents with similar problems.”

This is nothing more than a thinly disguised “kill the messenger” motif.  Don’t like the message, then play the Whataboutit” card — what about Clinton (inserting the foil of the day) to which one might add what about — Grover Cleveland? Warren G. Harding? Franklin D. Roosevelt?    Thence comes the exceptionally vague pivot:

“What I’m trying to do is get issues done. That’s what I’m looking for is what’s best for the state of Nevada, and whether I’m standing behind the president or whether I’m standing in right field, it doesn’t matter. Literally doesn’t matter.”

I’d assert Senator Heller is, indeed, standing out in right field, but that’s beside the point.  One unfortunate way to translate this Hellerian side step is to assume he means that no matter the moral depravity of the occupant of the White House Heller will support anyone who advocates what Heller believes is in the best interest of the state of Nevada.

The problem is that the reprobate in the Oval Office doesn’t have any clear ideological principles.  How Heller can divine precisely what the administration’s position is on any given topic is beyond most analysts.  We might guess that the administration proposals on immigration range from “a bill of love” to “build a wall.” We might guess that the issues related to banking run the gamut from “take care of the middle class” to “let bankers be bankers.”  And so on.

It should matter to Senator Heller, and to any other citizen of Nevada (and the other 49) whether or not the administration has the moral fiber necessary to inform the proposed policies.  Moral fiber tends to filter out the self-serving, the grifting, and the unconscionable — without the filter there’s little space left for anything other than the moral relativism of pure opportunism.  Surely this is not what Senator Heller has in mind?

 

 

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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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Representative Government?

Not that popular polling is always the best way to govern, but the current capacity of the Republican controlled federal government to ignore public opinion is amazing.  For example, the Republican tax plan has a 26% approval rating [PR] 91% of Democrats, and perhaps more importantly, 61% of independent voters disapprove of the plan.  66% of Republicans approve of the plan, but we have to remember 37% of the American public identifies with the GOP. [HP]

While we’re remembering the horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago (and not forgetting the massacre at the Las Vegas music concert) we know that 32% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats, and 62% of independents support stronger guns laws in this country. Overall support for stricter control of firearms stands at 60%. [PR]

The FCC decision to eliminate the net neutrality rules, some of which go back to the less than golden age of dial up, isn’t popular either.  Polling found that 83% of registered voters disliked the idea, 75% of whom were Republican and 89% of Democrats.  86% of registered voters who were independent didn’t like the idea either.   However, the FCC marched on with a 17% approval rating for its new “light touch” policy.

It seems that whenever the President* starts feeling the heat from Congressional, popular, or media sources he retreats to his anti-immigration rhetoric.  The Wall seems either literally or metaphorically important to him, but it isn’t all that much in the eyes of the nation he’s supposed to be leading.  36% of registered voters support The Wall, while 62% oppose it. [PR]   Voters were given three choices about Dreamers, stay and apply for citizenship, stay but not as citizens, or leave the country.  The December Marist poll found 58% supporting the stay/citizenship option, 23% supported stay but not as citizens, and only 15% supported deportation.   As of the week of December 6th the Quinnipiac Poll found 77% supporting the stay/citizenship application option, 7% supported the stay with no citizenship option, and only 12% supporting the deportation option.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen polling about Vladimir Putin, the other half of the Trump-Putin bromance.  There was some polling done last Summer which might be instructive.  Last July only 15% of Americans had a positive feeling about Putin, and as of late June 2017 approximately 50% of Americans felt the President* was too friendly with the Russian leader. [PR]

A person might think that a leader who isn’t stone deaf to public sentiment or stonewalling to protect his self image might want to consider how best to reach toward a broader audience, and to cultivate something more than a 32% approval rating.  Apparently that consideration isn’t getting much traction in the current White House.

Nor does it seem like the first session of the 115th Congress is paying much attention either.  In fact, it looks like the GOP is doing the drafting of the Democratic Platform for 2018 — Net Neutrality, DACA, common sense gun regulation, immigration reform, and real tax reform for working Americans.  The 32% President and his 37% party are perhaps doing the best they can to elevate the Democratic Party in the mid term elections?

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Immigration Myths and Legends and NV gubernatorial candidates

Nevada Republicans apparently have managed to recruit not one but two profoundly flawed candidates for Governor — Dubious Dan Schwartz, author of an alternative budget so far out in right field it found itself in the parking lot, and Adam Laxalt, The Adelson candidate du jour.  AG Laxalt joins the bevy of Republican officials who find no reason to challenge the Trumpian decision on DACA.  Better still, he’s an associate of notorious ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“To date, Laxalt has shown zero interest in protecting Nevada’s DREAMers. In 2015, Laxalt added the State of Nevada to a lawsuit opposing President Obama’s immigration executive action with the goal of deporting DREAMers and tearing immigrant families apart. Laxalt is currently scheduled to appear this month at an event with disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a criminal and notorious bigot who racially profiled Latinos in Arizona.”

Laxalt and Schwartz do illustrate the topics Republicans want to talk about — immigrants, tax cuts, and the wedgies (guns and gays.)   Let’s focus on immigration for the moment.  Nevadans have been treated to a surfeit of salacious “alternative facts” on DACA, and some of the myths appear to have taken hold.  DACA encouraged child migration! — No, it didn’t.  DACA beneficiaries have taken jobs away from Americans — only if one buys into the Lump of Labor Fallacy.  Nor do DACA beneficiaries cost the American taxpayers much of anything — they aren’t eligible for federal means tested welfare, Medicaid, health care tax credits, or anything else.   Republicans sputter that ending DACA will keep us safer — however DACA requires a background check, no felonies, no serious misdemeanors, and only 2,139 of the 800,000 beneficiaries have lost permits because of criminal activity. The handy plastic brains show this amounts to 0.267%. [WaPo]

Looming on the dark horizon of GOP visions is the ever present phantasmagorical presence of More Immigrants.  Interesting isn’t it, that the danger always comes from (1) Mexico or Central America, or (2) Muslims.  However, as of 2015 about 15% of green card recipients were from Mexico, 7% came from China, 6.1% from India, 5.4% from the Philippines, and 5.2% from Cuba. [CNN] [see also DHS]  Little notice is given to the 4,765,000 immigrants of European origin. [MPO]

Enter the other conversation Republicans don’t want to have — racism in all its systemic, institutional, and individual forms.  The ultimate exercise in otiosity is to attempt to get a Republican candidate to admit that beneath their rhetoric about immigration is a deep layer of good old fashioned prejudice and racism.  European immigrants are ‘productive,’ Central American immigrants are ‘gang members.’  European immigrants ‘take opportunities,’ while Central American immigrants ‘take jobs.’  European and Asian immigrants are hard working, but Central American ones are potential criminals — as if Russian and Chinese organized crime operations are minimized by excluding discussion of their activities.

Who were the gangsters associated with the following?

“The suspects (+30) also face charges of extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, wire fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft, according to law enforcement sources. Some of the charges carry a maximum penalty of decades in prison.”

No, not from Mexico, Central America, not MS 13 — they’re members of Russian organized crime in NYC.   There was some mention about the Chinese immigrants attempting to enter the US without documentation last August 27th. [ChicagoABC] Not much, nor is much said about Chinese organized crime moving into south eastern Asia.  For coverage of Australian-Chinese cooperation interdicting drug trafficking in the area one has to head to Australian or Chinese news sources.  Lets guess that the latest 13 tons of drugs captured weren’t all destined for Sydney and Melbourne?

However, broadening the focus on criminal activity to include a more global perspective doesn’t serve the purposes of the anti-immigration far right in the US, which voraciously consumes any and all news of Mexican and Central American criminal activity while minimizing the capacity of Asian and Russian gangs and cartels to wreak havoc.

Thus far candidate Schwartz has demonstrated his capacity to parrot talking points from the Trickle Down Hoax book of imaginary economics, while Laxalt has aligned himself with the Arpaio clan (a word carefully chosen) of racists and bigots.  Both are flawed, and both leave room for a centrist Democrat to make an effective run for Governor.

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Imaginary Numbers for Imaginary Growth

I’m sorry but it’s time to type out, yet once more, how we calculate the annual growth rate for the real GDP, and no, there’s no imaginary quarterly or annualized growth rate for the real GDP.  Now that we’ve reviewed, the financial inanity of the current administration is highlighted by policies which are in direct variance with the stated goal of increased economic growth of 3%.

There are two numbers we absolutely need in order to have economic growth: Labor force increases; and, Labor Productivity increases.  The labor force is obvious, how many people of working age are in the workforce. Productivity pertains to how much can be produced by those workers.  For more information see this article from the St. Louis FED.  Suffice it to say that if the labor force growth is 0.5% and the productivity growth rate is o.5% then the economic growth rate will be 1%.

There are a couple of bits of Reality we need to introduce at this point in time: (1) The baby boom is over. (2) We are poised to severely limit our immigration.

As of 2015, the number of baby boomers ranges from 74.9 million to 82.3 million, depending on whether the generation begins with the birth year 1943 or 1946.” [CNN] No matter which year one assumes for the beginning, it was over by 1964-65.  Growth in the labor force has not, and may rationally not, increase at levels seen when the Boomers hit the job market. And, now they are exiting.  Those born in 1965 are now 52, with about 13 years left before retirement; those born during or before 1952 are presumably retired already. So, what is happening now?

“The US fertility rate has been in a steady decline since the post-World War II baby boom. Back at its height in 1957, the fertility rate was 122.9 births per 1,000 women. The latest quarterly CDC data also indicate the larger pattern of women having babies later in life. As birth rates increased among women in their 30s and 40s, the rate among teenagers and women in their 20s dropped.” [CNN]
The current rate is 59.8. There are factors associated with lower birth rates; for example, in developed nations urbanization is a factor — children aren’t a major need for their work in agricultural pursuits.  Another factor is the cost of raising the children, it’s more expensive to raise children in a developed country where those children don’t enter the labor force until they are in their late teens or twenties.  Further, the urbanization trend continues apace in the US. [Census] [Slate] More urbanization, more education, and we can’t reasonable expect a repetition of the Boom in the foreseeable future.
So, if we aren’t increasing our labor force via the old birth-rate route, then the other way is immigration, and this warning from the Los Angeles Times:

“Trump in his first weeks in office has launched the most dramatic effort in decades to reduce the country’s foreign-born population and set in motion what could become a generational shift in the ethnic makeup of the U.S. Trump and top aides have become increasingly public about their underlying pursuit, pointing to Europe as an example of what they believe is a dangerous path that Western nations have taken. Trump believes European governments have foolishly allowed Muslims with extreme views to settle in their countries, sowing seeds for unrest and recruitment by terrorist groups.”

This seems a polite way to say that the Trump administration would like very much to limit immigration to white Western Europeans. If we don’t allow immigration from Mexico and Central American nations, and we severely limit immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, then what’s left?

And, in terms of increasing the labor force, here’s where the policy and the reality clash. If we want an increase in the birth rate in order to increase our labor force, then the women having those babies are more likely to be foreign born immigrants to the US. [Pew]  We don’t get to have it both ways — limiting immigration both limits the number of people available for immediate employment, and the number of little people who will grow up to be a portion of our labor force. Once more with feeling, if we limit immigration we necessarily limit our economic growth.

One of the amazing things about conservative/trumpism ideology is the notion that elements diametrically opposed to one another may somehow be massaged by empty rhetoric into actuality.  Somehow, we are supposed to believe that we can have 3% economic growth while limiting our immigration unrealistically, and while continuing the urbanization of the country. Only in the fever swamp of right wing ethnocentric white supremacist thinking is this going to “happen.” And, the happen part is in quotation marks because this is Neverland.

So, no — we don’t get the deficit reduced by cutting taxes on corporations, millionaires, and billionaires. No, we don’t get a balanced budget by cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and NO we don’t get 3% economic growth by unrealistically impeding immigration.  2 + 2 does not equal 7.

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Reasons to Write and Call: Horrible House Bills and other Monday

The House Republicans keep coming up with yet more reasons to put their phone numbers on speed dial, a brief list:

HR 370 — A bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (TX17) bill sent to committee January 9, 2017. Flores’ district includes Waco and College Station.

HR 354 — A bill to defund Planned Parenthood, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (TN6), a district covering north central Tennessee.

HR 147 — A bill to criminalize abortion, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, (AZ8), northern suburbs of Maricopa County.

Then there are HR 861 to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and HR 610 to voucherize public education. Add HR 899 to eliminate the Department of Education, and HR 785 to enact a “right to work” act at the national level.


Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA22) chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence is now officially the water-carrier for the Trumpster administration telling the press that his committee will investigate the unsubstantiated tweet rant concerning the Obama Administration authorizing a tap (that’s tap with one p) on Trump Tower.  This appears to be a somewhat desperate attempt to validate a right wing conspiracy theory seeking to legitimize the twitterer in chief, and play “You Did It Too.”  The problem with this ‘investigation’ is that (1) there was no There There; and, (2) if there was a tap (with one p) there must have been a reason presented to a FISA court, and that might not be something Agent Orange wants out in public view?  This is yet another reason for an independent commission.


Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) wanted us to know that as of February 15, 2017 his faith in the president is not lessened by reports of administration connections with Russia. This would presumably include the purchase of Russian steel to construct the Keystone Pipeline?  The president’s comments about ‘Buy American’ are now not supposed to be pertinent to purchases contracted before he told the public (twice) that American steel would be used… Then there’s the explanation from the White House that “the steel is there it would be hard to go back (on the contracts).” This would be fine if it weren’t that there are pictures of the first shipment of Russian steel being unloaded at the Paulsboro, New Jersey dock on March 3, 2017.


Meanwhile the empowered white supremacists are using the moments since November 2016 to increase their recruiting on college campuses according to the ADL.

“White supremacists have consciously made the decision to focus their recruitment efforts on students and have in some cases openly boasted of efforts to establish a physical presence on campus,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While there have been recruitment efforts in the past, never have we seen anti-Semites and white supremacists so focused on outreach to students on campus.”

And the attacks on Sikh Americans continue.


Recommended reading:

“ICE isn’t just detaining ‘bad hombres’ they’re scooping up everyone in their path,” Vox March 3, 2017.

“White House wants it both ways on travel ban,” Politico March 6, 2017.

 

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