Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category.

I Was Wrong

I like to prominently highlight when I have been wrong.  In the past, I have said that the US follows a double standard on our Mexican and Canadian borders.  Where are the Canadian wall proposals?  Where are the Canadian workers getting handcuffed by Joe Arpaio.

But apparently I was wrong.  The US is working hard to apply an equal level of obnoxiousness to Canadians.

The Immigration Non-Crime Wave

Proponents of tougher immigration enforcement often use crime as their big scare factor in trying to influence people to their point.  Only tougher laws and Joe Arpaio, they caution, stand athwart the coming immigrant rape of Phoenix.

But when the case is built on one or two high-profile crime where the perpetrator has not even been identified, rather than statistics, we can be suspicious of how strong the case is.  I have cited historical figures here, but the WSJ has the new figures for 2009:

Violent crime fell significantly last year in cities across the U.S., according to preliminary federal statistics, challenging the widely held belief that recessions drive up crime rates.

The incidence of violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault was down 5.5% from 2008, and 6.9% in big cities. It fell 2.4% in long-troubled Detroit and plunged 16.6% in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash....

In Phoenix, police spokesman Trent Crump said, "Despite all the hype, in every single reportable crime category, we're significantly down." Mr. Crump said Phoenix's most recent data for 2010 indicated still lower crime. For the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17% overall in the city, while homicides were down 38% and robberies 27%, compared with the same period in 2009.

Arizona's major cities all registered declines. A perceived rise in crime is one reason often cited by proponents of a new law intended to crack down on illegal immigration. The number of kidnappings reported in Phoenix, which hit 368 in 2008, was also down, though police officials didn't have exact figures.

And just to head off the obvious straw man, 2008 was not somehow a peak year, it was actually well below historical levels.

How You Gonna Keep them Down on the Farm?

A reader sent me this interesting story about immigration within Cuba:

"I was caught because I was an illegal," explained a bicycle taxi driver as he gripped the rusted blue handle-bars of his vehicle in Havana's Central Park. "And because I'd been here several times before, I was deported back."

But the driver working his trade in the capital city did not arrive in Cuba from another country. Instead he is among the thousands who have come from rural provinces in search of work and a place to live - but who have been deported back because of "Decree 217."

The 1997 law restricts rural migration to Havana, making this taxi driver an illegal resident in his own capital city.

"If you're illegal you can't be here in Havana," said the driver, originally from Cuba's eastern Holguin province. "You don't have an address here in Havana."...

Economic conditions were generally worse at the eastern end of the island, according to Cuba analyst Edward Gonzalez, a professor emeritus at the University of California Los Angeles.

"[The eastern region] has always been the less affluent, impoverished part of the island," he said, "heavily dependent upon agriculture, less on tourism, and also happens to be more black and mulatto."

The effort to keep migrants out and prevent overcrowding in Havana may have resulted in police discrimination against darker-skinned Cubans presumed more likely to be illegal, Gonzalez said.

Common Cause

I will tell you, those who agree with me on the immigration issue in the Democratic Party are trying as hard as they can to turn me against immigration.  This same thing happened in the Iraq war.  I was against the war, as I thought it a poor use of resources (there are just too many bad governments in the world to take them all down that way).  But when my fellow anti-war travelers agreed with me for stupid reasons (we must defer to Europe, Sadam is not a bad guy, etc.) it almost made me change my mind.  If the people who agree with me are idiots, is that a bad sign?

TJIC has similar thoughts here, and I watched in amazement as the Mexican President yesterday criticized US immigration policy for being to harsh, despite the fact it is far more open than Mexico's own immigration policy.

How About a Little Skepticism Here?

I was emailed this photo as a "shocker" and "outrage" as it somehow is the smoking gun to show what immigrants are after.

Really?  You don't think there is any chance this is a plant or satire?  I understand that the folks protesting are far more radicalized, and have different goals, than the average immigrant, but it really takes a lot of credulousness to take this picture as representative of the goals of Mexican immigrants.

Shoe on the Other Foot

From TJIC:

I can't condemn illegal aliens in the US, because, if the zappos were on el otro pie, I'd break the law in the second.

Eventually, we achnowleged that the "need to drink booze" was too powerful to prohibit.  My hope is that we will come to the same conclusion for the "desire to seek a better life."

Glass Houses

I was forwarded an email today, and I can't honestly figure out the source since it is one of those that has been forwarded a zillion times, but at some point it passed through the Arizona 2010 Project.  It consisted mainly of pictures of desert areas along major immigration routes that had been trashed by illegal immigrants.  This picture is pretty typical.

Certainly an ugly site, particularly for someone who lives and works in the outdoors as I do.

Here is a quote, I think from the original email but it may have been from one of the forwarders (emphasis added):

This layup is on an 'illegal super - highway' from Mexico to the USA (Tucson) used by human smugglers.

This layup area is located in a wash area approximately .5 of a mile long just south of Tucson.

We estimate there are over 3000 discarded back packs in this layup area. Countless water containers, food wrappers, clothing, and soiled baby diapers. And as you can see in this picture, fresh footprints leading right into it. We weren't too far behind them.

As I kept walking down the wash, I was sure it was going to end just ahead, but I kept walking and walking, and around every corner was more and more trash!

And of course the trail leading out of the layup area heading NORTH to Tucson, then on to your town tomorrow.

They've already come through here. Is this America the Beautiful?  Or another landfill?

The trash left behind by the illegals is another of the Environmental Disasters to hit the USA. Had this been done in one of our great Northwest Forests or Seashore National Parks areas there would be an uprising of the American people........but this is remote Arizona-Mexican border.

Well, it so happens my life is spent cleaning up public parks.  My company's mission is to privately operate public parks.  A lot of that job is picking up and hauling away the trash.  And I can tell you something with absolute certainty:  This is exactly what a highly trafficked area in our great Northwest Forests or Seashore National Parks would look like if someone wasn't there to pick up.  Here is one example from a northwest forest, in Oregon:

We run busy campgrounds and day use areas all over the country, and you would not believe the trash on the ground on a Monday morning.  And this is after the place was cleaned on Sunday morning and with trash cans available every 10 feet to throw things away correctly.  I have seen a few areas in the National Forest that were busy ad hoc camping areas -- meaning they had no facilities, no staff, and no trash cans -- and they were absolutely trashed by good old red-blooded American citizens.  Parts looked no different than this picture.  Most of these areas have since been closed, because of this ecological damage.

In fact, in my presentation I make to public agencies about our services, I say that we are actually in the environmental preservation business.  By attracting recreators to defined areas of the wilderness where we have staff to clean up after the visitors and limit their impact on nature, we are helping to preserve the other 99% of the land.

So, yes this is ugly, but it frustrates me that this is used to play into the Joe Arpaio type stereotypes of Mexicans

All these people that come over, they could come with disease. There's no control, no health checks or anything. They check fruits and vegetables, how come they don't check people? No one talks about that! They're all dirty. I sent out 200 inmates into the desert, they picked up 18 tons of garbage that they bring in"”the baby diapers and all that. Where's everybody who wants to preserve the desert?"

To my mind, this is an argument against Mexican immigration in the same way that violence against women is used as an argument against legalizing prostitution.  Prostitutes suffer abuse in large part because their profession is illegal which limits their access to the legal system when victimized, not because violence is inherent to their profession.  Trash in a wash in the desert is a result of the illegality of immigration that forces people into stream beds rather than city check points when they enter the country.

Postscript #1: Please, if you are a good, clean, thoughtful user of public parks, do not write me thinking I have dissed you.  I have not.  Most of our visitors are great and thoughtful, and we really appreciate that.  But it takes only a few to make an unbelievable mess.

Postscript #2: I am willing to believe that poorly educated immigrants have fewer litter taboos than we have been acculturated with.   But I have seen enough to say that no ethnic group out there should be too smug.  For God sakes, there had to be a large effort near the top of Mt. Everest to clean up a huge dump that had accumulated of oxygen bottles and other trash near the summit.   Here are pictures of what rich Americans and Europeans do on Mt Everest when they are hiking and there is no trash can nearby:

When Allies Are Worse Than Your Enemies

Back in college, I burned a lot hotter on a variety of political issues.  I would argue with about anyone, and often did.  The dinner table was almost always the venue for some political fight.  During those arguments, I quickly discovered something -- people nominally on my side of the argument were sometimes my biggest problem.  I remember any number of times telling some person to shut up and let me argue the point.  People email me all the time asking me to ban some idiot commenter trolling in opposition to all my posts.  I tell them I am much more likely to ban an idiot commenter nominally supporting my point than the other way around.

Which brings me to Eric Holder:

"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC's "Meet the Press" program that the Arizona law "has the possibility of leading to racial profiling." He had earlier called the law's passage "unfortunate," and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn't yet read the legislation.

"It's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven't even read the law," the Texas Republican told the attorney general.

I have never been totally comfortable with the Democratic support of immigration anyway.  The party, particularly under this administration, seems to take the position that the government can be as authoritarian as it likes, as long as it does not discriminate racially in doing so.  This post hypothesizes that the Democrats' support for immigration is political rather than principled, a desire to create the next new underclass that can be exploited for political points, and I can't really disagree based on past history.

Readers know I support open immigration.  I see immigration restrictions as government licensing of who can and can't work (and who can and can't be hired) -- an intrusion Conservatives would likely reject in any other context.  Since I am opposed to immigration limits, I am opposed to giving government extra powers in the name of enforcement, in the same way I oppose, say, asset seizure laws originally aimed at enforcement of drug prohibition.

I acknowledged that the law is less onerous in its amended form (because, you see, I actually read the whole thing, here and here for example), but what the law's supporters fail to deal with in claiming the letter of the law will not be enforced in a racist manner is how even existing law is being enforced here in Phoenix by Joe Arpaio in a racist manner.  When Joe goes into a business, and handcuffs all the people with brown skin, releasing them only when a relative or friend races to the police station with a birth certificate, it is an ugly, un-American scene (here or here or here).  I would take supporters of the bill more at their word as to how the law will actually be used in practice if they were not the same people actively cheer-leading Joe Arpaio at every turn.

Anti-Immigration Playbook

There is an anti-immigrant playbook in this country that goes back at least to the 1840's and the first wave of Irish immigrants.  Typical arguments applied to nearly every wave of immigrants to this country have been 1.  They are lazy; 2. They are going to take our jobs (funny in conjunction with #1); 3.  They increase crime and 4. They bring disease.

To date in Arizona, we have seen all three of the first arguments in spades, but until recently I had not seen #4.  But trust Sheriff Joe to be out front on this, issuing a press release stating:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says that he has long argued the point that illegal immigration is not just a law enforcement problem but is a potential health hazard as well.

"This is a risk to our community and to my deputies," Arpaio says. "Deputies never know what they may face in the course of enforcing human smuggling laws."

Arpaio says that in the last two months, four inmates, all illegal aliens from the country of Mexico, were confirmed with having chicken pox, placing 160 inmates into immediate medical quarantine.

Earlier Apraio had this to say to GQ magazine (but he's not a racist!)

All these people that come over, they could come with disease. There's no control, no health checks or anything. They check fruits and vegetables, how come they don't check people? No one talks about that! They're all dirty.

Of course, like many of Arpaio's fulminations, this release fell somewhere between a grand exaggeration and an outright lie.

Maricopa County health officials denied reports by the Sheriff's Office that 160 jail inmates had been quarantined two months ago because of four illegal immigrants with chicken pox.

Officials also downplayed a news release issued by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office last night about chicken pox found in immigrants busted yesterday, noting that such minor outbreaks don't normally make the news.

After our inquiries, MCSO Lieutenant Brian Lee said that Arpaio had, in fact, misspoken when he stated for the news release that a large-scale "quarantine" had taken place.

Like I Would Know What To Do In The Majority

I never said my immigration opinions were widely held here in Arizona, but apparently they are not popular nationally either:

The new poll finds 61 percent of voters nationally think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something on immigration. That's more than twice as many as the 27 percent who think securing the border is a federal responsibility and Arizona should have waited for Washington to act. . . . Significantly more voters think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works (64 percent) than think the administration should try to stop it (15 percent).

Oh well.  Its not like being in the minority is a new thing for me.

What I would really like to understand is:  what drives these folks?

I will take them at their word that it is not racism.

If its violent or property crime, the stats are pretty clear that immigrants don't really contribute to these crimes disproportionately.

If its gang violence at the border, I am wondering what people see in the law's rules that allow easier harassment of day laborers and brown-skinned people with broken turn signals that they think is going to deter gang members supposedly armed with AK47's.

If its competition for jobs, well, I encourage folks to learn how the economy actually works (hint:  it's dynamic, not static), and further, encourage them to figure out why they feel they can't compete with unskilled, uneducated laborers who don't speak the native language.

Finally, if it is, as many of my emailers claim, just a matter of the rule of law -- "THEY ARE ILLEGAL" as I get in many emails, inevitably all in caps, then why not just legalize their presence?  After all, I lament all the hardships associated with marijuana law enforcement but you don't see me advocating new rules to incrementally harass potential possessors -- I am grown up enough to know form history that such efforts are never going to work as long as their is an enthusiastic supply and demand.  I advocate legalization.

You're Making It Difficult

Memo to those of Mexican descent in the US:  I am trying hard here to stand up for your right to be here seeking opportunity and to be free of state harassment, but you are making it difficult when your kids have this kind of reaction to American-flag T-shirts:

"I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn't do that on Fourth of July."

I just spent three days arguing with locals in Phoenix that our basketball team wearing "los Suns" uniforms is not somehow dissing on the US, and then your kids fire off the same kind of BS in reverse?  Just great.

The Immigration Debate and Racism

Exclusionist Conservatives in Arizona are quick to defend themselves against charges of racism.  While I tend to be an pro-immigration hawk, I accept that there are issues, such as the conflict of immigration and the welfare state, where reasonable people can disagree as to solutions without any hint of racism charging the debate.  I really, really resist playing the race card on anyone.

However, if Conservatives really want to discourage charges of racism, they need to  stop playing on fears of immigrant crime as a main argument in their case (example from Expresso Pundit).  Such fears of minority group violence are part and parcel of every racist position in history.   The out-group is always vilified as criminal, whether it be blacks in the 60's or Italians and Eastern Europeans earlier in the century or the Irish in the 19th century.

There is no evidence either recently or throughout history of immigrant-led crime waves, and in fact as I wrote the other day crime rates in Arizona are improving throughout this "invasion" at a faster rate than the US average. So when Conservatives grab a single example, such as the Pinal County shooting  (for which no suspects have been identified) as "proof" we need immigration reform, they are no different than Al Sharpton grandstanding based on the Tawana Brawley case  (and possibly these cases could be even more similar, update: or perhaps not).

Stop trying to manufacture a crime spree that does not exist.  Sure, illegal immigrants commit some murders.  So do every other group.  There is no evidence they commit such murders at a disproportionate rate.  And yes, I understand there are violent, paramilitary gangs roving Northern Mexico, which currently is in a state of chaos, that we really don't want to spill over into Arizona.  But this has been a threat for years, and for all the fear, there is no evidence that they are somehow increasing their activities here.  And even if they were, laws that give Joe Arpaio additional power to harass day laborers in Phoenix are sure as hell not going to scare them off.

Government Speak

This is from the national ID card portion of the Democrat's immigration proposal:

Tough penalties will be put in place for fraud in procurement of a fraud-proof social security card.

Jim Harper has a thorough analysis of the proposal at the link.  My fear is the Republicans and Democrats will one day realize how similar they are on this issue and agree to an authoritarian compromise.

Chicken Little: The Supposed Arizona Immigrant-Led Crime Wave

Conservatives often attack global warming alarmists for using individual outlier events at the tails of the normal distribution (e.g. Katrina) to fan panic about climate change.  So it is interesting to see them doing the same thing themselves on immigrants and crime in Arizona.  [sorry, forgot the link to Expresso Pundit]

Of course, the whole story fell apart when Wagner had to introduce this fact.

While smugglers have become more aggressive in their encounters with authorities, as evidenced by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy on Friday, allegedly by illegal-immigrant drug runners, they do not routinely target residents of border towns.

Sure, that's the ticket, violence hasn't increased in actual border towns...of course, roving drug smugglers just used an AK 47 to gun down a deputy in PINAL County a hundred miles north of the border.  But other than that...and the rancher they killed last month...the border towns themselves are pretty calm.

Excuse me, but has anyone on any side of the immigration debate ever claimed that immigrants have never committed a crime?  Forget for a minute that the guilty parties in these two cases are mere supposition without any charges filed yet -- particularly the case of the rancher last month.  In 2008 there were about 407 killings in the state.  So, like, one a month were maybe by immigrant gangs and this is a crisis?

From the link above, I looked up AZ and US crime states in 2000, 2005, and 2008.  I was too lazy to do every year and 2009 state stats don't appear to be online yet.  Here is the crisis in Arizona in violent crime rates:

Oh Noz, we seem not only to have drastically reduced our violent crime rate right in the teeth of this immigrant "invasion" but we also have reduced it below the US average.  This actually understates the achievement, since Arizona is more highly urbanized than the average state  (yeah, I know this is counter-intuitive, but it was true even 20 years ago and is more true today).  Urban areas have higher crime rates than rural areas, particularly in property crime as below:

So our property crime rate is high, but not totally out of line from other highly urban areas.  But the real key here is that during this supposed immigrant invasion, again Arizona has improved faster than the national average.  This is seen more clearly when we index both lines to 2000.

One may wonder why climate change alarmists only wave around anecdotes rather than averages.  If we really are seeing more drought or floods, show us the averages.  The problem is that their story can't be seen in the averages, so they are forced to rely on anecdotes to inflame the population.   The same appears to be true of our Arizona immigration panic.

Update: Some doubts emerge about Pinal County deputy shooting update: or perhaps not

Immigration Law Updates

The most important news, I suppose, is that Arizona has made its new immigration law more palatable with a few changes.

The first concerns the phrase "lawful contact," which is contained in this controversial portion of the bill: "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency"¦where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person"¦"  Although drafters of the law said the intent of "lawful contact" was to specify situations in which police have stopped someone because he or she was suspected of violating some other law "” like a traffic stop "” critics said it would allow cops to pick anyone out of a crowd and "demand their papers."

So now, in response to those critics, lawmakers have removed "lawful contact" from the bill and replaced it with "lawful stop, detention or arrest." In an explanatory note, lawmakers added that the change "stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state."

"It was the intent of the legislature for "˜lawful contact' to mean arrests and stops, but people on the left mischaracterized it," says Kris Kobach, the law professor and former Bush Justice Department official who helped draft the law.  "So that term is now defined."

The second change concerns the word "solely."  In a safeguard against racial profiling, the law contained the phrase, "The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin."  Critics objected to that, too, arguing again that it would not prevent but instead lead to racial profiling.  So lawmakers have taken out the word "solely."

"There were misstatements by the opponents of the law that this was written to permit some consideration of race in the enforcement of this law," says Kobach, "and that's not the case at all."

It is hard for me to separate in my mind whether the problem I have with what remains is really with this law or with the individuals whom I know to be tasked with its enforcement.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a history of pulling over every Mexican he runs into with a broken tail light on his crime sweeps, so in actual practice, the requirement of there being some other crime involved doesn't do much to make me fear profiling any less.  But its hard for me to say that checking immigration status of people arrested or detained is unreasonable, so it may be I am just uncomfortable with the overzealous enforcements and Sheriff Joe's patented crime sweeps.  (I am still opposed to the socialist definition of property rights that conservatives have adopted in the law).

I thought Megan McArdle had an interesting point:

If the immigration problems in Arizona are really so serious that they merit deep intrusions upon the liberty of citizens who happen to resemble illegal immigrants, than they are serious enough to intrude on the liberty of everyone.  Don't make the cops check the status of anyone who they "reasonably suspect" is illegal; make them check the status of everyone, no matter how blond-haired, blue-eyes, and fluent in standard American english they may be.  If you forget your license at home, the police detain you, just like they detain anyone of mexican descent, while someone fetches it.  If you can't produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar, then you wait in the pokey until they can verify your legal status.  No police discretion.  No profiling.

We can illustrate McArdle's point with an example, where our sheriff's descended on a local business and zip-tied and detained anyone who looked Hispanic until they could produce proof of immigration status.  No Anglos at this location were treated the same way:

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one worker who was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally"¦.

Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.

This is something the bill supporters just don't want to deal with -- the ugly sight of all the brown skinned workers at a location separated out from their peers and zip-tied until they can produce the proper government papers.

Daniel Griswold of Cato offered what I thought was an excellent framework for thinking about immigration and immigration reform:

Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It's like saying, in 1932, that we can't repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we've drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could "get control" of its unintended consequences.

Illegal immigration is the Prohibition debate of our day. By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market, complete with smuggling and day-labor operations. As long as the government maintains this prohibition, illegal immigration will be widespread, and the cost of reducing it, in tax dollars and compromised civil liberties, will be enormous.

It turns out that after excoriating the Arizona law as being too intrusive, Democrats have responded with ... something even more intrusive.

Sometimes I just love the Democrats.  After fomenting a near meltdown over the Arizona immigration law, with charges of nazism and cries of "show me you papers!" flying hither and yon, the Democrats introduce an immigration framework with what?

Improved papers, of course.

Yes, the Dems screwed the pooch and included a national ID card in their proposed legislation.  And a biometric one at that.   As someone characterized it, it's a "super Social Security card".  Remember when you were assured that your SS card/number was not for identification purposes and never would be.  Well Bunky, that was as true as most of the promises politicians make.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

As a final note, for years I have asked strong exclusionist conservatives how they square their opposition to immigration with their desire for freedom of contract and exchange.  After all, if commerce is free, do I not have the right to hire anyone I want for a job, no matter where that person was born.  Why do Conservatives want to require that all workers have government licenses before they can be hired?  It turns out that the ACLU makes the same point in response to the above proposal (from the link above, emphasis added):

"Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy "” one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

Note to Conservatives-- when the ACLU, founded by Marxists and which to this day resists recognizing property rights, gets out ahead of you on the rights to free exchange and commerce, you are in trouble.

Update:  More from Brad Warbiany and Matt Welch

It's Like Wag the Dog

In the movie Wag the Dog, and American president and a movie producer faked a war in Albania to divert political attention form a domestic scandal.  They created fake but riveting film of desperate Albanians caught up in the war.  I always wondered how confused the people of Albania, sitting in their peaceful homes, were by these images if they saw them on CNN.

I live in Arizona, not Albania, but I am just as confused.  I have lived in Phoenix for 10 years.  I run a public contact business all over the state, including at least one location in sight of the Mexican border. And I am confused as can be when I read stuff like this:

Nevertheless, here it goes from a supporter of legal immigration: how are we to make sense of the current Arizona debate? One should show concern about some elements of the law, but only in the context of the desperation of the citizens of Arizona. And one should show some skepticism concerning mounting liberal anguish, so often expressed by those whose daily lives are completely unaffected by the revolutionary demographic, cultural, and legal transformations occurring in the American Southwest.

WTF?  I read this all the time.  I am told there is a war going on around me and people are being devastated, but I never see it.  And nobody I know ever sees it directly.  It is always a "someone else"  (maybe, as I suggested in an earlier post, it is all happening to that lady who put her cat in the microwave to dry.")

I won't spend all day with VDH's post, but there are a couple of other things he writes that seem nuts, given his reputation for being pretty smart

Why Wave the Flag of the Country I Don't Wish to Return To?

Have you ever been to a Saint Patrick's Day parade in Boston or Chicago? To Columbus Day parade in New York?  So its OK for Europeans to show some affinity for the mother country even as they reside in the US, but not Mexicans?

Look, I get irritated to no end by people who come here for freedom and prosperity and then immediately start advocating for and voting for steps that undermine both.   But that's not an immigrant issue, its a Constitutional one, where we have allowed courts to rewrite protections against government encroachment.

Substitute New York in 1860 for Arizona in 2010 and Irish for Mexican, and you would see the exact same dynamics at work, except that Arizona in 2010 is a lot more peaceful than New York in 1860.

California's meltdown is instructive. If about half the nation's illegal aliens reside in the state, and its problems are in at least in some part attributable to soaring costs in educating hundreds of thousands of non-English-speaking students, a growing number of aliens in prison and the criminal justice system, real problems of collecting off-the-books income and payroll taxes, expanding entitlements, and unsustainable social services, do we wish to avoid its model?

Really?  One word:  Texas.  Texas has the same immigration issues and a MUCH longer border than California.  California's problems are its profligate and anti-business government, something that Conservatives tend to point out a lot in about a million comparisons with Texas, except of course when they want to blame it all on immigration instead.

First, there is the simplicity of the argument. One either wishes or does not wish existing law to be enforced. If the answer is no, and citizens can pick and chose which laws they would like to obey, in theory why should we have to pay taxes or respect the speed limit? Note that liberal Democrats do not suggest that we overturn immigration law and de jure open the border "” only that we continue to do that de facto.

This is hilarious in the context of Arizona.  While the AZ legislature has been passing this law, it has been passing a series of other laws to give the big FU to federal law.  These bills include not enforcing federal insurance mandates in AZ, not enforcing EPA CO2 regulations in AZ, ignoring federal law on commercialization of rest areas, ignoring the REAL ID act etc.  For God sakes this is the state whose Republican governor in the 1990's sent the national guard to take over the Grand Canyon from the feds.  To piously assert this is all about enforcing federal law and that it is wrong to ignore some laws but enforce others is absurd.  This country has a long history of popular nullification of bad laws -- the 55-mile an hour speed limit was nullified by rampant non-compliance long before it was repealed.

I understand there are complexities in immigration, the most important of which is the conflict between a generous safety net and open immigration.  But note that while many Conservatives will say this, none of them are proposing any changes to safety net eligibility vis a vis immigrants.  When all they ask for is for the borders to be locked down, then all these arguments just seem like window dressing to the true desire to say "my family got in, now its time to lock the door."

We Have Adopted a Socialist Definition of Property in Arizona

Arizona used to be a state that defended private property rights.  But in a single bill,  SB1070, we have thrown out private property in favor of community property.   We have officially established the principle that the state can tell us who can and can't be on our private property.

A. IN ADDITION TO ANY VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW, A PERSON IS GUILTY OF TRESPASSING IF THE PERSON IS BOTH:
1. PRESENT ON ANY PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LAND IN THIS STATE.
2. IN VIOLATION OF 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1304(e) OR 1306(a).

Trespassing used to mean presence on property without the owner's permission.  Now the owner's permission is irrelevant, and trespassing is redefined as being present on private property without the government's permission.  The state takes this new definition so seriously that no parole may be given for people who violate the law.

Conservatives gave up on the sanctity of contracts in this context years ago, making it illegal to hire the person of one's choice for a job if that person does not have the proper licenses and paperwork from the government.

Remember, Conservatives traditionally are not anti-authoritarians anti-big-government, they are just in favor of use and expansion of government authority in other contexts than those favored by Liberals.

Probable Cause

From our new SB1070 Immigration Law here in AZ (sorry for the caps)

B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON. THE PERSON'S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1373(c).

Supporters have said this is not about profiling or harassing people with brown skin.  So what, other than skin color, does constitute probably cause in this case?  Low rider suspension?  Mexican music tapes?

Anyone who things Joe Arpaio will not use this to demand that everyone with brown skin has to show their papers has not been paying attention.  I have driven around for 3 years with a broken tail light and never been stopped.  Had I had brown skin, I would have been stopped years ago.  This is the man who went into tony, lilly white Fountain Hills on a crime sweep and somehow 75% of the those arrested were Hispanic.

Here is one example, where deputies entered a local business, zip-tied and detained everyone who had brown skin, and then later released those who could provide their papers:

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one worker who was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally"¦.

Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.

Update: More from the bill, with language Conservatives would tend to oppose on absolutely anything except immigration

E. A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, WITHOUT A WARRANT, MAY ARREST A PERSON IF THE OFFICER HAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE THAT MAKES THE PERSON REMOVABLE FROM THE UNITED STATES.

Update #2: Steve Chapman also doesn't know how to spot an illegal immigrant.  But that's OK, neither does our governor:

After signing the new law requiring police to check out people who may be illegal immigrants, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was asked how the cops are supposed to know when someone should be screened. "I don't know," she replied. "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like."

No kidding. But she has a lot of company in her ignorance. When I called University of Arizona law professor Marc Miller and told him I wasn't sure what some of the law's provisions mean, he replied, "Neither is anyone else on the planet." We will find out what it means after it takes effect, not before.

The last sentence seems awfully reminiscent of the health care bill.

Another Great Argument for Open Immigration

Via Tyler Cowen:

Female migrants should on average be prettier, ceteris paribus, than those who stay in the old country.

Asian is the New Black

Via Maggie's Farm, Ward Connerly discusses the elephant in the room in college admissions -- the growing fear of Asian student domination.  As a parent with kids in a top prep school on an Ivy league trajectory, I must say I see this fear and loathing of Asian students among parents every day. "They're taking all the top spots in the schools!  My kid can't compete, they are drones that work all the time!"  You have probably heard many of the same things.  I hear folks who would never be caught dead uttering anything derogatory about African Americans say the most unbelievable stuff about Asians.

Throughout history, waves of hard working immigrants have always touched off fear and racism among folks who were already here.  The one difference is that past fears were generally a working class phenomenon -- whether it be against Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century or African Americans post Civil War or against Mexicans today.   What is new today is that, for the first time I know of, a group of recent immigrants is perceived as a competitive threat by the middle and upper class.

All this leads me to a few thoughts:

  1. It is no less stereotyping to say that Asians work too hard than to say blacks are lazy or the Irish are alcoholics
  2. We should be thrilled that our country is so open, and class barriers so low, that a group of new immigrants can immediately challenge for the positions of wealth and power.  I wrote about income mobility the other day, but could there ever be a better advertisement?  Name one other great civilization in history where new immigrants could be seen as immediately and directly competitive with the wealthy and powerful.
  3. We should be ecstatic that so many bright people want to come to America and work hard creating wealth for all of us.  After all, there is no way in a free society to create wealth without delivering value.  Do we begrudge Steve Jobs his fortune when we all have iPods now?

When Politicians Say "Priviledge," That Means Kiss Your Rights Goodbye

A while back I wrote about how irritated I get when a state calls its sales tax a "transaction privilege" tax, and piously tells me that free interchange of goods and services is not a basic right but a privilege that can only be granted by an accommodating government.

Today, via Reason, we hear that "priviledge" word again, this time from Britain's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, and again it is used in the context of "Kiss your rights goodbye"

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she decided to make public the names of 16 people banned since October so others could better understand what sort of behaviour Britain was not prepared to tolerate. [...]

"I think it's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country," Ms Smith told GMTV.

"Coming to this country is a privilege. If you can't live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country and, what's more, now we will make public those people that we have excluded. [...]

Ironically enough, among the banned is American conservative radio host Michael Savage.  I don't enjoy Savage's schtick, but my sense is that he would very much share Ms. Smith's view on borders, that we need to filter those we allow in the country based on various ideological and cultural screens.  In fact, my sense is that Smith and Savage are very closely alligned on this, and differ only in how they would define the filters.

I must say that it is deeply depressing to see the UK implementing content-based speech screens on immigration and even visitation.

Pathetic

Somehow I am on a couple of Minutemen / anti-immigration email lists  (I suppose I was put there by a staffer that did not read my site very carefully).  Anyway, I got this from some such group called the ALIPAC:

While hyper political correctness tries to hold sway in America as not to offend or disrupt trade with our Mexican neighbors to the south, the official name of the new flu pandemic is Mexican Flu and not the PC terms 'Swine Flu' or 'H1N1'.

Swine Flu and H1N1 are terms that describe large volumes of flu like viruses and not the specific strain at hand. Traditionally, pandemic flu strains are named after their points of origin. The point of origin for the new H1N1 pandemic flu, with swine flu DNA components is Mexico.

"It's a sad day in America, when you can't even call this pandemic strain by it's proper name 'Mexican Flu'," said William Gheen. "We are calling on all members of the media and citizens alike to refer to this pandemic virus as the Mexican Flu."

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several nations are now referring to the new H1N1 pandemic strain from Mexico as the 'Mexican Flu' which is now the official name.

The last three global pandemic flu viruses were named the Hong Kong Flu (1968), the Asian Flu (1957), and the Spanish Flu (1918).

Yeah, I am just sure these guys would have issued this same press release had the virus originated in Canada.  The attempt here to try to tar an entire ethnic group by hanging this flu around their necks is so transparent that I can't believe someone actually had the guts to issue this press release.  And I find it hilarious that a strongly Conservative group suddenly is looking piously to a UN organization (the WHO) for "official" guidance.  That had me laughing out loud.

I am glad he mentions the Spanish Flu, because it both 1) proves the author is historically illiterate and 2) shows the danger of trying to hang blame for a pandemic on one particular country.

First, it is pretty clear that the Spanish Flu did not begin in Spain.  As I understand it, as the world's governments clamped down on the media and suppressed news of the pandemic, the Spanish media was (relatively) unregulated.  The world therefore had a lot of its first reports about the flu from Spain, even though the first cases were not there, so people got in the habit of referring to the Spanish flu.

In fact, America firsters at the ALIPAC need to be really careful on this naming thing.  One of the leading theories of the Spanish flu's origins was that it began in the US (possibly Kansas or Boston) or at least that the mutation to its more deadly form occurred in the US, and then was brought to Europe by American soldiers.   I suppose if the ALIPAC is willing to call the 1919 flu the American Army flu, then I will call the current one the Mexican flu.

By the way, we as Americans should be very, very careful trying to demonize and wall off Mexico over this flu.  Because it might feel good here, but around the rest of the world most nations are lumping the US and Mexico together as the source, so any worldwide calls for closing borders and isolation are likely to backfire against the US.

Defending our Borders

Via the Arizona Republic:

"Non-native turtles removed from zoo"

Integration of Immigrants

I am not big on arguing the immigration issue from an integration perspective, any more than I like to argue about who will pick the lettuce.  Free movement around the globe and the ability to take a job by mutual consent of the two parties rather than based on their country of origin should drive immigraiton policy.

I live in the state with the highest percentage of illegal immigrants, and I have never gotten my head around why this was culturally bad.  I think the Hispanic culture here brings at least as much to the table as, say, the Irish do in Boston.  So I did not find this to be surprising (from the Manhattan Institute, via Reason)

In general, the longer an immigrant lives in the United States, the
more characteristics of native citizens he or she tends to take on,
said Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor at Duke University
and author of the study. During periods of intense immigration, such as
from 1870 to 1920, or during the immigration wave that began in the
1970s, new arrivals tend to drag down the average assimilation index of
the foreign-born population as a whole.

The report found,
however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born
traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result, even though the
foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not
drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born
population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990 to 2006.

"This
is something unprecedented in U.S. history," Vigdor said. "It shows
that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong."

Immigration and Welfare

Well, I should be skiing right this moment, but my son woke up barfing this morning, making it a perfect 15 of the last 15 family trips where one of my kids has gotten sick. 

But the ski lodge is nice, and the wireless works great, and Q&O has a very interesting post on immigration and welfare.

High unemployment among immigrants is of course not confined to just
Sweden or Scandinavia. Throughout Europe, governments have found that
well-intentioned social insurance policies can lead to lasting welfare
dependence, especially among immigrants. Belgium is the European
country with the highest difference in employment rates between the
foreign-born and natives. The images of burning cars in the suburbs of
Paris that were broadcast around the world illustrate the kind of
social and economic problems France is facing with its restive
immigrant population.

Given the high barriers to entry, many
immigrants in Europe no longer start accumulating essential language
and labor market skills. This is in stark contrast with the situation
across the Atlantic. For example, in 2000, Iranians in the U.S. had a
family income that was 42% above the U.S. average. The income of
Iranian immigrants in Sweden, however, was 39% below the country's
average.

Lots of interesting stuff there.  Which reminds me of something I wrote years ago:

In the 1930's, and continuing to this day, something changed
radically in the theory of government in this country that would cause
immigration to be severely limited and that would lead to much of the
current immigration debate.  With the New Deal, and later with the
Great Society and many other intervening pieces of legislation, we
began creating what I call non-right rights.  These newly described
"rights" were different from the ones I enumerated above.  Rather than
existing prior to government, and requiring at most the protection of
government, these new rights sprang forth from the government itself
and could only exist in the context of having a government.  These
non-right rights have multiplied throughout the years, and include
things like the "right" to a minimum wage, to health care, to a
pension, to education, to leisure time, to paid family leave, to
affordable housing, to public transportation, to cheap gasoline, etc.
etc. ad infinitum....

These non-right rights all share one thing in common:  They require
the coercive power of the government to work.  They require that the
government take the product of one person's labor and give it to
someone else.  They require that the government force individuals to
make decisions in certain ways that they might not have of their own
free will. 

And since these non-right rights spring form and depend on
government, suddenly citizenship matters in the provision of these
rights.  The government already bankrupts itself trying to provide all
these non-right rights to its citizens  -- just as a practical matter,
it can't afford to provide them to an unlimited number of new
entrants.  It was as if for 150 years we had been running a very
successful party, attracting more and more guests each year.  The party
had a cash bar, so everyone had to pay their own way, and some people
had to go home thirsty but most had a good time.  Then, suddenly, for
whatever reasons, the long-time party guests decided they didn't like
the cash bar and banned it, making all drinks free.  But they quickly
learned that they had to lock the front doors, because they couldn't
afford to give free drinks to everyone who showed up.  After a while,
with the door locked and all the same people at the party, the whole
thing suddenly got kind of dull.