Archive for the ‘Immigration’ category

Immigration Reform, Now!

October 21st, 2010

Whenever I visit a metropolitan area, I like striking up conversations with the cab drivers. Inevitably, the driver is from some far-away country. I try to guess where by the sound of their accent. I have met drivers from Ghana, Iraq, and Sri Lanka, to name just a few. I ask about their families, their language, what brought them to the U.S., and of course, their politics. I have been amazed at how knowledgeable these foreign-born cab drivers are about U.S. politics. The cab drivers I met can carry on, in their broken English, intelligent conversations about domestic politics and U.S. foreign policy. They seem much more engaged in public policy than most U.S.-born citizens that I know.

What is most interesting to me is how they seem to have a great sense of appreciation and pride for both their country of origin and the United States. For example,  earlier this year, I met a cab driver in Denver who was from Ethiopia. He spoke about his family, and how great it was to live in America. But when I asked him about Ethiopia, he became very animated as he told me all about his country of origin. With great pride he told me, “Ethiopia is the only country in Africa to have never been colonized.” He went on telling me about how empire after empire had tried to conquer Ethiopia, but each time the people of the country had fought back their invaders.

Immigrants are proud of their cultural heritage, but they are also proud of being part of the American Dream. The “Papers Please” law that was passed in Arizona earlier this year brought new attention to the immigration debate. Immigration has also come up in discussions about controlling spending and in the healthcare reform debate. In 2005, Senator Dianne Feinstein said, “We know that people come to this country illegally. They come for many different reasons. Some out of fear of persecution, some for work, all for opportunity…About 50% of the agricultural workforce are illegal workers…With respect to agricultural work, I know that it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to get Americans to work in agricultural labor.” (Congressional Digest • June 2005 )

The bottom line is that we need immigration reform. We need to find a way for people who are here and working to gain citizenship. Chances are they are being exploited by an employer, and their low wages are harming the labor market for U.S. citizens in those industries. If people have skills and can find work, they should be welcomed. If people are refugees and need our help, they should be allowed in the country to get temporary help. The extreme-Right wing (e.g., Tea Baggers) want Americans to be scared of “illegals”. They want us to see them as a drain on our economy. These perceptions just do not match up with reality. » Read more: Immigration Reform, Now!

Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law and Private Prisons

August 13th, 2010

What is behind Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law?

Budget concerns? Probably not. Racism? Perhaps. Last night Rachel Maddow reported on another possibility: The private prison industry.

Check out her 10-minute report on this topic.

Can You Pass the Citizenship Test?

June 24th, 2010

Can you pass the citizenship test that is required for all immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship? Give it a try…

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

2. What does the Constitution do?

3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

4. What is an amendment?

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

10. What is freedom of religion?

» Read more: Can You Pass the Citizenship Test?

A Case Study in Economic Policy

June 14th, 2010

What economic policies lead to greater economic health? And what political policies will lead to better economic outcomes? These are complex questions, and can be difficult to test scientifically. However, it is useful to look at case studies in an effort to understand what policies work and what policies lead to disaster. Let’s take a look at the Golden State.

California has a $24 billion budget deficit. Unlike other states, California’s constitution requires a two-thirds majority legislative vote. This means the that minority Republicans—making up almost 40% of the state congress—have significant power to block legislation and budget plans that could avert further financial disaster. Because Republicans are against tax increases, the state is struggling to fix their current budgetary woes brought on by the global economic situation. When liberal social policy meets a policy of anti-taxation—and this combination is personified by Governor Schwarzenegger—we end up with exactly what California is facing today: A large budget shortfall, high unemployment, large numbers of foreclosures, and general economic sluggishness. Modest increases in tax revenues, effective utilization of federal stimulus dollars, and cutting costs are the obvious short-term solutions. But California’s budget crisis had been unstable from well before the global recession had an impact. » Read more: A Case Study in Economic Policy

The Resurgence of Hate Groups

May 18th, 2010

The amazing American historian-activist, Howard Zinn passed away earlier this year. His seminal masterpiece, “A People’s History of the United States” is a classic that should be required reading for every U.S. citizen. Zinn frequently praised dissent as a patriotic act of civil disobedience and an effective method for achieving social justice. He once said, “Some think that dissent is unpatriotic. I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly the right to dissent is one of those principles. And if we’re exercising that right to dissent, it’s a patriotic act.”

He praised liberal dissenters such as peace movement activist, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in the war in Iraq. His writings and speeches are full of stories of unsung heroes of American progress. Yet, one wonders what he might say about the emerging Tea Party Movement. Would this kind of dissent also be considered patriotic? Even though it is much smaller than other protest movements of recent years–such as anti-war, environmental, anti-free trade, immigration–it has gained much more media attention. But why? Why are major media outlets polling Tea Party members? Why is it being seen as a major political force that both parties must reckon with, when most of it’s supporters are Republicans or at least conservative Independents?

» Read more: The Resurgence of Hate Groups