Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category.

Jan Brewer Jumps the Shark, Slides into Outright Prejudice

On this blog, over the last couple of months, I have presented a pretty clear set of facts showing that, with the possible exception of some rural border regions beset by drug gangs, the vast majority of Arizona has experienced rapidly falling crime rates, in fact crime rates falling much faster than in the rest of the country.  The crime rates of even our key border towns has remained flat.

What to make, then, of these statements by our governor.

Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday reiterated her assertion that the majority of illegal immigrants are coming to the United States for reasons other than work, saying most are committing crimes and being used as drug mules by the cartels.

Brewer's remarks are an expansion of comments she made last week during a televised debate between the four Republican gubernatorial candidates....

In the debate, Jette [a candidate running against Brewer] said that most people who cross illegally into Arizona are "just trying to feed their families." Brewer disputed that, saying, "They're coming here, and they're bringing drugs.

And they're doing drop houses, and they're extorting people and they're terrorizing the families." The governor, who has become a national media figure since signing Senate Bill 1070 into law on April 23, went further on Friday, saying that the "majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels."

When pressed, Brewer said that even those who do come to the United States looking for work are often ensnared by the cartels.

"They are accosted, and they become subjects of the drug cartels."

Estimates are that there are 8-12 million illegal immigrants in the US (Brewer's hispano-phobic allies would put the number much higher).  They are mostly all drug dealers and criminals?  Really?

I try really hard not to try to guess at what motivates folks I disagree with by assuming they are driven by something dark and evil, but how else in this case can one describe opinions like this so contrary to facts as anything other than prejudice against a particular ethnic group?

Just look at the actions of our governor and folks like Joe Arpaio.  If it really were the case that illegal immigrants are all criminals uninterested in legal work, then why is so much recent legislation aimed at business owners that hire illegal immigrants?  Or at day labor centers?  Why are all of Sheriff Joe's immigration sweeps raiding lawful businesses rather than, say, crack houses?  After all, if illegal immigrants are all just drug dealers not looking for real work, why spend so much time looking for them, uh, doing real work?

Postscript: If Brewer is in fact correct, then there is a dead easy solution for the illegal immigration problem -- legalize drugs.  She and I both agree that the worst criminal elements of illegal immigrants would be much less of a problem without the illegal drug trade.  The only difference is that I think that segment makes up less than 1% of the population of illegal immigrants, and she thinks its everyone.

Further, to the extent that some illegal immigrants just trying to support their families are "ensnared" by drug cartels (whatever that means) it is because of their immigration status.  Make them legal residents of the country, and no one has any particular leverage over them.

Note to Commenters: Many, many of you have disagreed with me vociferously on immigration.  Please, I would love to see reasoned comments defending Brewer, particularly with data.  In particular, please use the laws of supply and demand to explain how the majority of 8-12 million people are able to earn a living in the illegal drug trade in the southwest.  To help you out, there are about 6.6 million people in Arizona.  Based on national rates of 8% of over age 12 being users, about 500,000 of those are illegal drug users.  One estimate is that there are 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona.

Update: Are she and I living in the same state?

Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer claimed recently that law enforcement has been finding beheaded bodies in the desert "” but local agencies say they've never encountered such a case.

"Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," Brewer said Sunday, suggesting that the beheadings were part of increased violence along the border.

But medical examiners from six of Arizona's counties "” four of which border Mexico "” tell the Arizona Guardian that they've never encountered an immigration-related crime in which the victim's head was cut off.

Counter-Point on Arizona Crime

For a while I have been asking where the so-called immigrant-driven crime wave is in Arizona, given that crime rates have fallen much faster in AZ than in other parts of the country.

Tom Maguire argues that the overall drop in the crime rate in Arizona over the last decade or so hides a possible increase in crime rate in rural areas, which I suppose he might argue is due in part to Mexican immigrants.  Check out his data, it does in fact show an increase in the crime rate outside of MSA's (metropolitan areas) though the data is mute on causes.  One potential cause is simply mix shift -- it is clear from the enormous drop in population in these non-MSA areas that some areas classified as non-MSA in 2000 have been reclassified MSA in 2008.  So the comparison is not apples to apples, and some of the shift (or even all of it) could be the changing mix of areas in the metric.

To the extent the rural numbers are driven by immigrants, my sense it is due to the violent well-armed drug gang flavor of immigrants, a group not particularly intimidated by SB1070, as most of them are not spending their time at Home Depot in day labor recruiting areas waiting for the next Sheriff Joe roundup.

A Query for Conservatives

If a few gun crimes by a tiny, fractional percentage of gun owners are not a compelling justification for gun control (a proposition with which I agree), then why are a few crimes by  a tiny, fractional percentage of immigrants a compelling justification for immigration control?

Immigration Debate May Get Uglier (and Nuttier) Here in Arizona

Readers know I oppose recent Arizona immigration legislation and enforcement initiatives.  I don't think government should be stepping in to effectively license who can and can't work in this country, and am thus a supporter of open immigration (which is different from citizenship, please note).  As I support open immigration, both from a philosophic standpoint as well as a utilitarian perspective, I don't support laws to get tougher on illegal immigrants, any more than I support laws to get tougher on the failed practice of drug prohibition.

That being said, reasonable people can disagree, though some for better reasons than others.  But I don't see how all these folks who support tougher laws on immigration with the mantra that it is all about the rule of law can justify this piece of unconstitutional garbage:  (Hat tip to a reader)

Buoyed by recent public opinion polls suggesting they're on the right track with illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans will likely introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona "” and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution "” to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens. The law largely is the brainchild of state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican whose suburban district, Mesa, is considered the conservative bastion of the Phoenix political scene....

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

But that was 1868. Today, Pearce says the 14th Amendment has been "hijacked" by illegal immigrants. "They use it as a wedge," Pearce says. "This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created." Pearce says he is aware of the constitutional issues involved with the bill and vows to introduce it nevertheless. "We will write it right."

I didn't like SB1070 that much, but as ultimately amended it was not nearly as radical as this.  I think those of us who feared SB1070 as a first step on a slippery slope should feel vindicated by this.

Rommel Was an Illegal Immigrant in France

I have written on several occasions about how the data demonstrate pretty conclusively that immigrants are not driving a crime wave in Arizona (here and here).  The one exception to this may be well-armed quasi militaristic gangs raiding near the border.  These guys are certainly running rampant in Norther Mexico and conflicting reports have them making certain US border regions nearly unlivable.

OK, but how is this crime a justification for state laws that harass day laborers and companies that hire immigrants, while requiring law enforcement to check immigration status at traffic stops?  One could technically describe the German army in 1941 as illegal immigrants in France, but I don't think this euphemism would trick anyone into thinking that Arizona-style immigration laws would have saved France from Guderion, Rommel and company.

There is zero in SB1070 that will do one little thing to phase such gangs.  So how can people with a straight face use such crime as justification for the bill?

We Have No Idea What We Are Doing

Its pretty clear from this summary of the Obama administration legal brief that the Administration has no idea what its own immigration policy should be.  I don't agree with all of the author's statements (for example, I am not a fan of e-Verify, as it just reinforces to me that the government has gotten itself in the business of licensing labor) but its a pretty interesting summary of just how muddled the Obama administration is on this topic.  While I don't support our newest immigration law here in AZ, its easier to see why states like AZ feel the need to take some independent leadership on the topic.

In this brief, the Obama administration is challenging an earlier AZ state law that requires, as a condition to retain one's business license, that companies use e-Verify to check new employees legal work status  (here and here).  Unfortunately, Obama's head of Homeland Security (and thus all immigration-related activities) actually signed the law into being and the administration wrote a brief in favor of the law just 9 months ago, about the same time Congress reauthorized e-Verify without doing anything to strike down AZ implementation practices).  I am not much of a legal scholar, but states use compliance with Federal programs all the time as minimum requirements for retaining business licenses -- e.g. non-payment of Federal taxes can cause one to lose his state business license, but no one has ever argued that is an illegal intrusion of states on federal powers.  If the Feds want to argue all of these provisions are unconstitutional, fine by me.  Anyway, the article linked above is highly entertaining.

Postscript: Here is the e-Verify post one must post in his business to be legally compliant:

This is fairly Orwellian for those of us who believe that all people have the right to work, irrespective of the country they were born in, and this right does not flow from any national government and therefore does not stop or start at any border.

The Immigration Debate Summarized

Conservatives want immigrants to work, but not vote.

Liberals want immigrants to vote, but not work.

Wake Me Up When They Actually Put Any Income at Risk

From the AZ Republic:

Zack de la Rocha has issued a statement on behalf of an organization called the Sound Strike urging music fans and fellow artists to boycott Arizona "to stop SB 1070," which he labels an "odious" law.

Among those artists joining de la Rocha's boycott are Conor Oberst, Kanye West, Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against, Cypress Hill, Serj Tankian, Joe Satriani, Sonic Youth, Tenacious D, Street Sweeper Social Club and Michael Moore.

So it turns out that at the local Best Buy here in Phoenix, Arizona, I find many examples of these folks' work still for sale.  Moore's videos, for example, still seem to be available for purchase.  Possibly their requests to have their merchandise removed from store shelves in Arizona have not reached the sales floor yet, but my guess is that these guys have absolutely no intention of actually pulling their product from Arizona stores.   My guess  (and please tell me if I am being unfair) is that most of these folks, at best, are committing to cancel tour dates that for most of these bands are not even scheduled yet.  This is about as much of a sacrifice as me promising to cancel my next date with Gisele Bündchen.  This kind of statement is the moral equivalent of Hollywood stars who decry global warming from the steps for their private jet.

I think folks know I am a proponent of open immigration, and so, as in the war on drugs, I don't condone adding more government powers to enforce a pointless prohibition.  But there are many folks here who have supported far more authoritarian legislation than the AZ immigration law.  For God sakes in Sicko Michael Moore wrote a long love note to Castro's Cuba.

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.


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.