by Reynold N. Mason Esq.
Gender Fairness and Immigration: sponsoring an illegitimate child
I detest the use of the word “illegitimate” to refer to a child whose parents were not married when he or she was born. But this distinction is critical when petitioning for a child born out of wedlock; as such children are now referred to in the law. Despite the decreasing legal relevance of illegitimacy, an important exception may be found in the nationality laws of the US, which discriminates against illegitimate children in the application of immigration laws, particularly in cases where the child's connection to the country lies only through the father.
Fresh out of law school in the early 1980’s, I confronted this issue head on when I decided to file an immigration petition on behalf of my half-sister, my father’s illegitimate child. Initially, an illigitimate child could only be sponsored by the mother. The father could not sponsor his illegitimate child under the law in 1980. To get around this problem, I filed the petition through my mother as the stepmother. But that was not the end of it. For the next 18 months I scurried about getting affidavits from old friends and neighbors who knew my father and could speak of his relationship with his daughter. I had to establish to the satisfaction on the INS that my half-sister was part of our close family unit and, that my father had close emotional ties with his daughter. This was a near impossible task because in the Caribbean we do not file taxes as this is understood in the US. My father had never filed a tax return in his entire life. There is no health insurance and most fathers support their illegitimate children not simply by doling out cash, but by supplying the child’s other needs. So copies of money orders, medical records or insurance records were out of the question. Complicating my petition even more, was the fact that my half-sister did not carry my father’s surname; the Catholic Church routinely declined to name the father on its baptismal certificate if the parents were not married. Seeking any legal loophole to get our petition approved by INS, I happened upon a case called Matter of McMillan; in that case, a petition by a step-mother on behalf of her husband’s illegitimate children, twin boy’s, had been denied. I read on looking for something to hang my hat on.
Matter of McMillan
The McMillan twins had been born in England. Abandoned by their natural mother, their father sent them to Grenada where they were raised by their paternal grandmother. I, my father and all my siblings were born in Grenada. I read on, fascinated. INS denied their petition, McMillan appealed, and the BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) for the first time ruled that: Persons who become stepchildren through the marriage of a natural parent prior to their 18th birthday fall within section 101(b) (1) (B) without further qualification (i.e., there is no need to show a close family unit). It turned out that McMillan was from my own village and the twin boys had been my playmates growing up. This remained the law until the Child Citizenship Act was enacted in 2000, allowing fathers, like McMillan, to petition for their illegitimate children. Still the father of an illegitimate child must satisfy a number of criteria that mother’s of illegitimate children are not required to satisfy. This unfairness in the law has been challenged as a violation of the Equal protection requirement of the 14th Amendment. But so far the Supreme Court has turned back all challenges.
States have broad power when it comes to making classifications but they may not draw a line which constitutes an invidious discrimination against a particular class.( See Skinner v. State of Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535.) The end result is whether the distinction between fathers and mothers of illegitimate children is a rational one. The court has held that congress is entitled to decide whom it shall let in and under what conditions. The court in the recent past has, however, come down on the side of illegitimate children. It has held that illegitimate children may not be excluded from sharing equally with other children in the recovery of workmen's compensation benefits for the death of their parent. (Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164 (1972).) And has said that under this decision, a State may not invidiously discriminate against illegitimate children by denying them substantial benefits accorded children generally. The Supreme Court in March agreed to hear and decide if mothers and fathers may be treated differently in determining whether their illigitimate children may claim American citizenship. The case involves Ruben Flores-Villar, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, but was raised by his father and grandmother, both American citizens, in San Diego. His mother was Mexican, and his parents were not married. Why should fathers of illegitimate children be denied the right to file for their children when mothers are allowed to do so with little or no restrictions? Courts have no problem garnishing the paychecks of fathers of illegitimate children for child support. They should allow these same fathers to sponsor their children.
By Reynold N Mason Esq.
The Obama administration has filed a legal challenge to an Arizona law that imposes penalties on businesses that hire illegal workers. This is not a challenge to the notorious SB 1070 that led to protests and boycotts when it was enacted in April. This law known as LAWA (legal Arizona workers Act) has been in effect since January 2008. Georgia Colorado and Oklahoma have similar laws. Many see this challenge as an attempt by the Obama administration to reassert itself into the immigration debate, and wrest control over immigration policy from states that, with increasing frequency, are enacting what can be termed anti- immigrant laws.
The administration is arguing that immigration policy should be national and uniform not a patchwork of different state and local laws. But because of a failure of the Federal government to pass effective immigration laws, states have moved into the breach and have been passing increasingly restrictive immigration laws. After the failure of the Bush immigration plan in 2007, 1562 immigration laws were either passed or considered by states, compared with only 300 in 2005 and just 570 in 2006. With Immigration now off the legislative agenda, perhaps until after the November elections, states have lost patience with the slow pace of Federal immigration reform and have taken matters into their own hands. In Border States, where the impact of illegal is most acutely felt, laws have been enacted limiting access to state services, such as welfare and driver licenses to legal residents only. Passions are at fever pitch on both sides of the issue and the Administration, sensing an opportunity, has decided to throw its lot in with those who want more liberal immigration laws. The problem for Obama is that in poll after poll Americans have expressed overwhelming support for the Arizona law and, in other states, voters are demanding passage of similar laws.
Oklahoma, Colorado ,Texas and Georgia to name a few, have laws on the books every bit as tough as Arizona’s. Residents of a small city in eastern Nebraska voted Monday to banish illegal immigrants from jobs and rental homes, defying an earlier decision by the city’s leaders and setting off what is all but certain to be a costly and closely watched legal challenge. In Fremont , a meat-packing town of about 25,000 people, unofficial results from The Associated Press late Monday showed that 57 percent of voters approved a referendum barring landlords from renting to those in the country illegally, requiring renters to provide information to the police and to obtain city occupancy licenses, and obliging city businesses to use a federal database to check for illegal immigrants (NYT, June 21, 2010.)
So why does Obama swim against the rising tide of support for stricter immigration laws? Why challenge the Arizona law now, when it has been in effect for over a year and a half? Clearly, he has made a political calculation. His failure to deliver on his campaign promise of immigration reform has left Hispanics disillusioned and disaffected. He fears that he will lose their support which has reached critical mass in larger states such as Texas, California and Florida. The question raised by the administration’s imposing itself into the immigration quicksand at this juncture is, should the court uphold the Arizona law, then other states would know for sure they can pass laws restricting immigration in their jurisdictions. It would have been wiser to let the ACLU, the NAACP and other groups carry water for the administration. Obama has everything to lose and nothing to gain by challenging LAWA at this juncture.
There is a very good chance that the law will be upheld. LAWA, ironically, was signed into law by Janet Napolitano, now Obama’s homeland secretary, when she was governor of Arizona. It requires every employer to use E-verify, a Federal data base, that can check authority to work. And employers who hire illegal workers are fined and, may lose their business licenses for a second offense. The law has been challenged and been upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.( Arizona contractors et al against Janet Napolitano). The problem for the administration is its inaction and perceived indifference to immigration policy over the last several years. Standing mute in the face of more than 1500 laws regulating immigration, allowed states to make immigration policy helter skelter. Under the supremacy clause of the US constitution, Federal law supersedes any state law that is inconsistent with or interferes with enforcement of Federal law. But not if the Federal government has stood by idly. Inaction or indifference gives states the right to pass laws to protect their vital interests where the Federal government has failed to do so.
Furthermore, states can pass laws so long as they are not an obstacle to the working of Federal law. And herein lies the problem for the administration. Federal authority is not absolute. States can pass laws that are in line with the Federal law. LAWA is nothing more than Arizona doing the job of that Federal government should be doing to enforce its own employer sanctions, which penalizes businesses for hiring illegal workers. The Federal government, from time to time, will raid a meat packing plant or a car wash but, by and large, it does not enforce its own laws. In this situation, the Arizona law is perfectly constitutional. Were a state to pass a law regulating air traffic or setting up new minimum wages, it would clearly be superseded by Federal law because the FAA is all over the issue of air traffic; its investigators appear at every airline accident; their intention to exclude the states from passing any law regulating aviation could not be clearer. That is not the case with immigration. States across the country are frustrated by the do-nothing attitude of the Federal government, and have taken immigration enforcement into their own hands. LAWA is an aid, not a hindrance to the federal objective to reduce the demand for illegal labor. In 1976, The Supreme Court upheld a California law prohibiting the hiring of illegal workers. In that case, Decanas v Pica, justice Brennan said: “courts have never held that every state enactment that in any way deals with aliens is a regulation of immigration and thus, per se, preempted by the supremacy clause…..” In addition, the Federal government under the 287(g) program allows state and local law enforcement officers to arrest and detain illegals on behalf of the Federal government.
The Arizona law, while it does regulate the hiring of illegal workers is consistent with the purposes of Federal law. It is a valid exercise of Arizona’s authority to regulate the hiring of illegals within its own borders because the Federal government has failed to act. The law has already been upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and similar laws have, in the past, been upheld in other states. The Obama administration, I think, will be disappointed by the outcome of their challenge to LAWA.
By Reynold N. Mason Esq.
The solution to America’s immigration problem is simple. In fact, it is staring us in the face. But politicians lack the political will to do what is necessary to solve the problem. We all agree that what drives illegal immigration is the attractiveness on the American job market. The availability of work, even at low wages, is attracting illegal immigrants like moths to a candle. Extinguish the candle or draw the drapes shut and the moths stop coming. Congress recognized this as far back as the 1980’s. The IRCA (Immigration Reform control Act of 1986) was congress’ first stab at removing the “Help Wanted” sign which is the engine driving illegal immigration. The IRCA made it illegal to hire undocumented immigrants and imposed fines on employers who did. The idea, in theory, was a good one but it was flawed in its execution. There is a simple fix for our immigration problem, and it is this:
1. Use e-verify to determine if a person applying for a job is eligible to work.( E-Verify is a web-based system operated by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) which enables an employer to verify employment eligibility of job applicants and their Social Security numbers. www.tnpassociates.com/glossary1.php)
This would do away with the phony document problem and, since it is done electononically, there cannot be any claim of discrimination because of “accent” or foreign appearance.
2. Retain employer sanctions and hit hard at businesses that evade e-verify.
3. Crack down on smugglers and deport criminals
4. Grant amnesty to illegals who are law abiding and who come forward, register and get fingerprinted and cleared, as senator Schumer proposes.
5 Finally, deny public benefits, such as driver licenses and other social services to those who remain or enter the country illegally after the cut-off date.
Past immigration failures
The issue of immigration is an emotional one infected with the poison of electoral politics. Politicians will not act because they fear a backlash from Hispanic voters over whom they desire to retain their influence. On the other extreme, there are those who oppose tougher immigration enforcement on the ground that it singles out Hispanics and encourages racial profiling. Liberal organizations like the ACLU and NAACP oppose tough measures on human rights and civil rights grounds. And big labor, always seeking to protect the interest of its members, oppose relaxing labor laws to let in more workers. ((The pull and tug of these political interests, has our congress in a political straight jacket)). Like a deer caught in the headlights, congress is paralyzed in the face on onrushing doom. And doom is what we face unless we act to stem the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern borders. Opposition to employer sanctions and challenges to the law made what was otherwise a promising start a complete failure. There were claims that employers would demand documents proving eligibility to work in the US, only from persons who looked or sounded foreign; that businesses would play it safe and not hire Hispanics or people who speak with a foreign sounding accent. More problematic was the fact that employers had no way of telling whether papers submitted by a worker were genuine or fake. And an employer who honestly believed papers presented were genuine, could find himself facing large fines if it turned out the documents on which he relied were, in fact, phony. The document requirement of the 1986 law gave rise to a cottage industry in fake documents. Illegals, unable to show employment authorization simply purchased them on the market.
European Countries fine businesses for hiring illegal workers.
A 1990 study by the GAO found that 78% of employers wanted improved verification since it would eliminate fraud and eliminate fines for honest mistakes. Simply run the applicant through the federal data base and a get definitive determination of his /her eligibility to work. The GAO in a survey of EU countries in 1997 found that fourteen of nineteen countries surveyed had employer sanctions. Since then Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore have passed laws penalizing businesses for hiring illegals. Even Australia, surrounded by the Pacific, has made it a crime to knowingly hire an illegal person to work or refer an illegal for work with another business.
Faced with excessive and unsustainable immigration, maintaining the status quo is not an option. America must put aside political partisanship and take bold and decisive steps to bring immigration under control. As every recent poll has shown, Americans want and support comprehensive immigration reform. Their frustration with the laissez- faire attitude of the federal government has led states to take matters into their own hands. This is counter-productive because what is needed is not a patchwork of laws, like that of Arizona’s or Oklahoma’s, but a national immigration solution. “Every sovereign nation has the right to decide who may cross its borders”. It’s high time America started acting like one.
By Reynold N. Mason Esq.
Atlanta, June 08, 2010 - Women gained the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment. But until recently this did not translate in to into significant political power. Since 1971 when Jeanette Rankin became the first woman to in congress, there have been just 260 women in the house and senate. Just 33 women have served in the senate, almost all of them since the 1990's. In 2007, a Baylor University study found that Thirty-three (33) percent of Americans think most men are better suited emotionally for politics than women. Fifty-four (54) percent felt that young children suffer when the mother works and Forty-one (41) percent say it's God's will that women care for children. These attitudes pose challenges for women running for political office. There has been a slow but steady march of women into the seats of power in Washington and throughout the fifty states. Prior to the 1990's most of the women who served were appointed to fill their deceased husband’s vacant seats. But with the Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton competing for the two highest political offices in the US in 2008, the contributions and talents of women have taken center stage. Attitudes about women in elective office have seen rapid change.
Today, 92 women hold seats in congress, 17 percent of the 535 seats available. A record 17 women serve in the Senate, and 75 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 72, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is 24.4 percent. There are six women serving as governors, and four hold attorney general offices. As of February 2010, of the 100 largest cities in the United States, 7 had women mayors: Baltimore, Md.; Fresno, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Stockton, Calif.; Glendale, Ariz.; Chula Vista, Calif.; and, Houston, Texas. And 249 women serve as mayors of cities with populations over 100,000, http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/a/women_milestone.ht
Eleven states hold primaries today, and women are contending for high political office is several. In California, Nevada and South Carolina women are leading in the polls ahead of Tuesday's balloting. In California, which has two women in the senate, two more are leading in races ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Meg Whitman a former CEO of eBay, in the race for governor, and Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, is favored to win the republican primary for the right to face another woman, Barbara Boxer, in November. In Arkansas, Sharon Angle leads in a three way race for the Republican nomination, and in South Carolina, representative Nikki Haley is favored to come out ahead in the democratic primary. After today’s primaries women may be poised to increase their numbers, power and influence on the American political landscape. Many hope that’s for the better.
By Reynold N. Mason
On April 22, 2010 BP’s Deepwater oil rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven of the workers on board the rig were lost. Ironically, April 22 was earth day. Since the explosion, crude oil has been gushing into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 200,000 gallons a day by Bp’s estimate. Thus far, all efforts to staunch the flow of oil in the gulf have failed. The economic and ecological impact of this catastrophe is immeasurable. BP has to date, spent over $I billion on its failed attempts to cap the gusher. But the ultimate economic impact on the environment and on the lives on those who make their livelihood off the sea will, in the long term, be devastating.
Experience with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska back in 1989 has taught us that this catastrophe has immediate as well as long term consequences for the environment. Until now, the biggest spill in US history, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million barrels of crude into the pristine waters off the coast of Alaska, spreading oil over 900 miles of Alaska shoreline. The present spill has already surpassed this is size and scope. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a recent study of Exxon Valdez disaster found that 26,000 gallons of oil still remains in the sands of the Alaska shoreline, 20 years after the spill. Scientists have determined that the residual oil is declining at the rate of 4 per cent per year. At this rate, the oil from the 1989 spill will be on Alaska’s shores for another 25 years.
Oil is poison to birds. It coats their feathers making it impossible for the birds to fly. The National Wildlife Federation says that it has recovered the carcasses of 150 species of turtles and 316 sea birds. Sea lions, otters and other species of marine animals are also dying from the toxins in the crude. The spill has damaged the beaches, and marshlands in the gulf area. Photos of the Louisiana marshlands show that the oil coats everything it touches, rocks, sand, and plants. Animals that feed on the plants die or seek food elsewhere. Worse still, as we have learned from the Exxon Valdez, oil sinks to the ocean floor killing and contaminating fish and smaller organisms that are part of the food chain, such as crab’s lobsters. Smaller marine animals are food for larger ones and the poison passes from species to species for years. Larger animals in the area, dolphins , seals , otters and even whales are impacted. The National Wildlife Federation says the oil coats the animals and clogs their breathing holes leaving them susceptible to hypothermia and disease.
The oil moves with the wind and currents making it a hazard to Florida beaches, the entire East Coast, Cuba, and parts of Mexico according to the US Department of the Interior. Recreational fishing and tourism business are suffering and, Reuters reports that all fishing in 25 percent of the gulf is closed. The $6.5 billion seafood industry is in peril. The US government does to have the technology to stop the spill so the task rests with BP. How much oil is still gushing from the broken pipe on the floor of the seabed 50 miles south of Venice Louisiana, however, remains in question. Millions of gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf, and some scientists have said they believe the spill already surpasses the 11 million-gallon 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaskan coast, as the worst in US history. Steven Worley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering from Purdue University, told Congress on Wednesday that by using a technique called particle image velocimetry, he estimated the well could be spewing 90,000 barrels of oil daily into the gulf – 70,000 from the main breach and another 25,000 from another hole in the pipe. Dr. Ian MacDonald, an Oceanographer from Florida State University using satellite imaging has estimated the gusher is likely close to 60,000 barrels a day. One barrel of oil is 42 gallons. According to a report by the Mobile Emergency Water Treatment and Disinfection Unit, an arm of UASID, it takes just one quart of oil to pollute 150,000 gallons of water. Clearly, by any estimate of the size of the spill this is a disaster of epic proportions. The final verdict on the devastation will have to await future reckoning.
The Senate Energy and Natural Recourses committee last week say it will hold Bp “fully accountable “for the disaster but in the words Preside
by Reynold N. Mason
Atlanta June 1, 2010 - In 2008, candidate Obama sailed into office on a tide of change. A Washington outsider only two years in the Senate, he was a fresh face as yet untainted by the rough and tumble of Washington politics. His appeal lay not just in his ample oratorical skills but in his promise to change government as we know it. He would veto earmarks for pet projects, reform health care, close Gitmo and end the war in Iraq. He would tackle climate change, and begin to end our addiction to foreign oil by developing clean renewable sources of energy.
The current crisis
But finding his administration in the worst financial crisis since the great depression, the President has been unable to deliver on his campaign promises. His sole accomplishment after nearly two years in office is health care reform, now the law of the Land. The battle over health care shook congress to its ideological core and caused fissures in the political landscape, making it difficulty for the President to push his agenda. Republicans found themselves on one side of the political divide, with democrats on the other. There are now deep ideological divisions, even among democrats. Bart Stupak held out against abortion funding in the health care legislation, and Dennis Kucinich was persuaded to lend his support, only after some arm twisting aboard Air Force One.
The American people, wary of the transformational change implicit in health care reform, rebelled. They made town hall meetings last summer, an unpleasant experience for politicians supporting health care. Some expressed their opposition to the health care mandate while others, satisfied with their health care coverage, opted to oppose the legislation because they wished to retain their existing health care coverage. Said George Will: “85 per cent had heath insurance and 95 percent of the 85 per cent were happy with it”. Polls showed Americans opposed health care reform by a fairly wide margin. And shortly before the final passage of the legislation, public anger was in full bloom. In Massachusettes, Scott Brown, a long shot underdog, running on an anti-health care platform, overtook and defeated his democratic opponent. The seat he now occupies had been held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy for more than a generation. State houses in New Jersey and Virginia were also captured by republicans.
The deficit, had ballooned from $1.6 trillion under President Bush, to a staggering $13 trillion. Republicans smelled blood in the water and Democrats ran for cover. Senator Chris Dodd, longtime force on Banking Committee, has retired rather than face voters.. In Utah, republican senator Bob Bennett, who voted for the stimulus, was shown the door at the republican party convention in his state. In the primary elections earlier this month, the political purge was in full throttle. Senator Arlene Specter who switched parties to escape republican wrath for his support of the Obama stimulus and health care was sent into early retirement. And in Kentucky, newcomer, Rand Paul, handily defeated establishment candidate, Secretary of state, Trey Grayson, who had the support of the republican party. In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln, a reluctant supporter of healthcare, was forced into a runoff with lieutenant Governor Halter, in spite of strong support from democratic heavy weights Obama and Bill Clinton.
Voters on both sides of the political divide, angry about the deficit, Wall Street bailouts and jobs, are in the midst of a political purge. The prospects for incumbent insiders are dire. Many have opted to retire rather than face voters in November. Bart Stupak, after his brave anti-abortion stand and subsequent reversal, has retired; so has representative David Obey of Wisconsin. Even more ominous for democrats, (27) twenty-seven of their number, seeking re-election next November, are in districts viewed as tossups, according to the non-partisan Cook Political Report. The only bright spot for democrats in last month’s primaries was Pennsylvania 12th, where Mark Critz, held onto his late boss’ seat. But Critz campaigned as an anti-health care, anti-abortion, and pro-gun candidate; he framed the issues as a protest against Obama.
Looking to November
Political attitudes are in a state of flux. Post health care electoral politics indicate a lack of loyalty to Obama. His coalition of 2008, new voters, blacks and hispanics has been split asunder by the political push and pull of emotional issues---jobs, deficits and immigration. Hispanics in particular, 67 per cent of whom supported Obama in 2008, are disappointed over his failure to deliver on immigration reform. Voters are reconsidering the role of government in their everyday affairs. The success of the Tea Party movement makes this evident, and politicians, feeling the squeeze, are cautious and more responsive. Democrats are running away from Obama in droves, even politely declining his help in their fledgling re-election campaigns. There will be a reckoning come November.
by Reynold N Mason
DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced earlier this month, that an El Paso County District Court has issued orders barring a Colorado Springs business, the Immigration Center, from defrauding consumers in search of assistance in obtaining or completing federal immigration forms. The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Doucette and the Immigration Center in August 2009 accusing the company of engaging in deceptive practices, including claiming an affiliation with the federal government.
According to the complaint, the company advertised itself as being able to help immigrants obtain and complete various immigration forms in exchange for fees ranging from $300 to $700. Their non-refundable fees were identical to the fee the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services charges for filing the forms, which were available free of charge from the federal government. The Immigration Center also did not provide consumers with assistance from attorneys or anyone with expertise in immigration law. Under the court’s order, the business will be barred from engaging in immigration-assistance services and will be required to pay the state a total of $2.5 million in fines. The court also approved a settlement requiring the company to pay $85,000 in fines and restitution and blocking it from engaging in the business of selling government forms or providing assistance with those forms. The Immigration Center also did business under the names U.S. Immigration Center, ImmigrationHelpLine.org, U.S. Government Help Line, Liberty Legal Services, Maydene Media.
Since the passage of the Arizona immigration law in April, copycat laws have been passed in several states, making life more difficult for immigrants and creating a climate of fear in the immigrant community, even among those who have been long term, law-abiding residents on the US. Many, worried by the resurgent anti-immigrant mood in their home states, have been relocating to states less hostile to their status. After Oklahoma passed its anti immigrant law in 2007, Its authors said they were sending a very clear message: If you're an illegal immigrant, you are not welcome."I'm convinced illegal aliens will not come to Oklahoma, or any other state, if there are no jobs waiting for them." said state Rep. Randy Terrill ,who sponsored the law.."They will not stay here if there are not taxpayer subsidies and they certainly won't stay here if they ever encounter one of our fine state and local law enforcement officials," he added. "They'll be physically detained -- until they're deported." Immigrants, cowed by the law, left Oklahoma in droves seeking sanctuary in friendlier states.
In the curent athmosphere, immigrants are seeking every means to protect themselves and their families, and unscrupulous and bogus immigration outfits have been taking advantage. Immigrants needing assistance should beware. They are well-advised to seek out attorneys qualified and prepared to help with immigration issues.
By Reynold N. Mason
During his 2008 campaign for the Presidency of the United States, Mr. Obama promised an end to congressional gridlock and politics a usual. He said he would push for secure borders, increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and remove incentives to illegal entry. Most importantly, he promised a path to citizenship in any reform proposal, for undocumented immigrants living here.
But as of today, the President has not taken up the issue of immigration reform. Scared off like a gazelle spying a lion near his watering hole, he has taken cover in the thicket of election year politics. “Congress”, he says “does not have the “appetite” for comprehensive immigration reform at this time. Supporters say the issue of immigration reform has simmered for years on the back burner of American politics and Obama’s predecessors did not have the courage to face it head on. So why should he? He should; otherwise he will be seen as nothing more than the typical politician mouthing promises he has no intention of keeping; as one who heads for the hills at the echo of the first salvo in the battle he is sworn to fight. His Hispanic supporters, to whom he has given illusions of hope, will desert him; the anti-immigration forces will play to the fear and insecurity of the populace, and all hope for immigration reform will be doomed, perhaps for years to come, and the vicious cycle of try and fail, begun by Regan in 1986, will begin all over again.
All politics is local
Surely there are challenges to immigration reform. But face them the President must. Republicans, with enough votes in the Senate to stall an Obama push for immigration reform, must be persuaded to join the fight. The president must lead. He must persuade those who feel that other pressing matters now pending before congress should be given precedence over immigration reform, to join the fight. He must convince democratic bench warmers that they will pay a political price for frolicking into other issues while the issue of illegal immigration is tearing the country apart and eroding the bulwarks of traditional democratic support. Frustration, disappointment and disillusionment will drive the Hispanic voting bloc and its sympathizers away from the Democratic Party.
The electorate is energized as never before, and the decision to oppose or support reform will have immediate political consequences. John McCain, an erstwhile supporter of immigration reform who, with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, sponsored the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill in 2005, has seen the handwriting on the wall. To the surprise on many, he has voiced his support for the “papers please or I’ll arrest you” Arizona immigration law passed last April, making life difficult for undocumented immigrants in that state. Since then, he has increased his led over his challenger for his senate seat, according to Public Policy Poll. (PPP). Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, who signed the law, has since surged in the polls increasing her support from 53 percent to 73 percent among Republicans, overtaking all challengers. In 2004, McCain won re-election with 74 percent Hispanic support. Today, according to PPP, his support has fallen to 10 percent with Latino voters. The same survey found that Arizona Attorney General Goddard, the democratic nominee for governor, will lose to the republicans in a match up. Goddard opposed the new Arizona law.
In California too, Meg Whitman, candidate for governor has seen her lead in the polls evaporate under a withering attach from her opponent, Mr. Posner, who has attacked her on her opposition to the Arizona law. Now, Ms Whitman says,” I am 100 percent against amnesty. Period” The pressure on politicians in the local races has pushed unprincipled and opportunistic demagogues to shift their stance on immigration to take advantage of the anti -immigration mood of voters, and this has led to several states passing laws restricting immigration and making life more difficult for the undocumented. Riding the wave of public opinion, Sarah Palin weighed in last Wednesday on Fox saying ”I think every other state on the border should emulate what Arizona has done” Many have.
Past Presidents have gambled on immigration reform and lost. The most recent being Bush 44 whose plan went down in defeat in 2007. The question is, after the battle to pass health care, the unpopular economic stimulus and, keeping in mind the sordid history of past efforts at immigration reform, do Obama, Reid and Pelosi have the political will to take on immigration reform? According to an article by Reuben Navarrette on CNN.Com on line, the Obama administration is quietly laying the groundwork for immigration reform next year that includes amnesty. But the Hill News reported last week, that Ms. Pelosi plans to await senate action before taking up the issue. She clearly fears negative voter reaction and backlash against vulnerable democrats seeking re-election this November. She can run for cover but she cannot hide. She must face the issue . She must work to placate organized labor which opposes the guess worker plan and soldier with the President in this fight.
The President’s task is formidable, but he must not shirk his responsibility. He must lead his party in this fight to pass immigration reform, and he must persuade Republicans, playing to their conservative base, to join the fight. He must put immigration reform at the top of his political agenda, and he must stop paying lip service to immigration reform to score points with Hispanics. “I don’t have 60 votes in the senate” will not excuse his failure to act, and act soon. He must use his bully-pulpit for all it’s worth, and push reluctant democrats to lend him support. He persuaded Bart Stupak to lay aside his distaste for abortion funding and support health care legislation; he can persuade reluctant democrats to support him in his push to pass comprehensive immigration reform. “The fact is that the president of the United States came to office, in large part, because he supports wholesale reform of the immigration system. It’s time for him to make his promise a reality," says Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., the rest of the country echoes his call for action.
by Reynold n. Mason
America has come a long way since the naturalization Act of 1790 took effect, limiting US citizenship to “free white persons” of ‘good moral character”. In spite of that ominous pronouncement, the US has been a magnet for immigrants from nations across the globe. By 1950 the US popuation consisted of 55 million persons of foreign stock. Up to that time, most immigrants, 98 per cent, were Europeans. Today, 50 per cent of immigrants are from Latin America, and 12.5 percent of the US population were foreign born as of 2008,according to the US Census Bureau,
For the first time in our history illegal immigrants outnumber legal immigrants. In a weak economy and with unemployment approaching 10 per cent, immigration, an emotional issue to begin with, has become even more divisive. The need for reform of the country’s immigration laws is nothing less than dire. Yet congress and President Obama are handcuffed by the toxic politics of the issue. To push reform now is to anger conservatives who want more restrictive immigration laws; to fail to do so invites attacks from the left and the real possibility of losing Hispanic votes in the mid-term elections looming on the political horizon. President Obama recognizes this and has said bluntly, that he believed “congress did not have the appetite” to take up immigration reform this year.
But the flood of illegal immigrants, 12 million according to the US Census Bureau, has aroused passions, particularly in border states which have now begun passing laws designed to stem the tide of illegal immigrants by restricting access to driver licenses and other public benefits. The Arizona immigration law in particular, has drawn the ire of proponents of immigration reform, as well as those worried that it would legalize racial profiling. The ACLU has weighed in, filing a challenge to the law in Federal court, and sister states have imposed boycotts on Arizona in protest. Many feel illegal immigrants get undeserved services in short supply that should be reserved for citizens. In tough economic times immigrants are blamed for taking food out of the mouth of Americans because there isn’t enough to go around. Internet chat rooms are abuzz.. Said one comment: “Today I went to a free dental clinic; I was the only one of American descent. I was disgusted because there are too many people entering the country illegally and still being given access to government services such as medical, dental, welfare, housing………”
Others blame illegal migrants for taking jobs that would otherwise go to American workers. The truth is, most Americans would not work in bloody slaughter houses de-boning chicken, or on farms picking strawberries or lettuce at the wages paid to illegal immigrants. One man said this about his experience: “I worked in the cotton fields at least 8 hours a day 6 days a week in the early 90’s…… there were few blacks ……even fewer white folk and mostly Hispanics. It’s backbreaking labor for little pay……. I can’t see Americans going back to doing that type of work again unless the pay was significantly hire”[sic]
Others are unwilling to deal with the changes that immigration has wrought in our daily lives. In some localities, such as Buford and Norcross Georgia, even street signs are in languages unfamiliar to most. People are angry that when seeking customer service they hear a recording commanding them to “press one for English”. “I can’t stand to see people flying a flag here other than the American flag…. I believe that if you are here as a citizen or resident or whatever, there should be some attempt made to assimilate”. That comment on an internet forum yesterday expresses a gripe many have with immigrants.
But America is no longer the homogenous society it once was. Without conscious effort, we have adopted what is best from immigrants. Whether it’s Jamaican jerk chicken, pasta primavera or Hungarian goulash, most Americans have tasted the best cuisine brought to us by immigrants.
We should not expect immigrants to check their “cultural baggage at the golden gate” I feel this passionately. I am a naturalized American citizen of Caribbean stock. Need I turn my back on my Caribbean heritage and refuse to remit American dollars to my family back home? Must I disown Bob Marley and Sparrow or give up rice and peas for burger and fries to prove I’m a true American? I think not. Immigrants have made and re-made this country. A look back at history should put at our minds at ease. The Irish, Germans and Italians have all come, adapted and left their indelible mark on American culture. So too will our new immigrants. Our political leaders should work through this crisis by compromise and with compassion. Those who today advocate closing our borders, should they succeed, would simply sweep the problem under the dirty rug of prejudice. It will be less visible, but it will “fester like a sore” Enforcement will stifle immigration, but like Jim Crow or apartheid, it will not make it go away. To borrow the words of an anonymous internet comment: “I don’t see what’s so wrong about people having pride in their roots...I would sometimes be annoyed when I see a Puerto Rican flag in someone’s rear view mirror. But I come to respect and understand the pride that one has in their heritage... the great thing about America is that rest of us came from somewhere else first...” . Well said Anonymous.
by Reynold N. Mason
Atlanta May 17, 2010- Since the passage of the now notorious Arizona immigration law last month, poll after poll has showed, despite the boycotts and vocal opposition to the law, that the American public overwhelmingly support the law and want comprehensive immigration reform. Seventy (70) per cent of Arizona voters support their state’s new immigration law, empowering police to inquire about a person’s immigration status. Only twenty-three (23) percent oppose the law, according to Rasmussen. And across the US fifty (50) per cent favor the Arizona law and want it applied nationally. The mood of the country is further borne out by a CNN poll showing that two-thirds of Americans believe the law “should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens.” And a majority of Americans think the US should build a fence to keep out illegal immigrants. In the same survey, two-thirds said they think illegal immigrants are a strain on the US economy.
Clearly, immigration is an emotional issue that creates anxiety among Americans about changes in our way of life. That anxiety is beginning to express itself in a slew of anti-immigrant laws now passed or proposed in several states. “((The American people are scared,” said senator Cornyn of Texas, “they don’t understand why the Federal government isn’t doing more))” State senator Mike Delph of Indiana says his state should follow Arizona and pass a strict immigration enforcement law. In California, perennial anti-immigration politician Duncan Hunter has said that “children of illegal immigrants should be deported”. And last week Mayor Myers Berry of Albuquerque, New Mexico announced that police would now check the immigration status of every person arrested in Albuquerque, joining a growing number of cities that choose to enforce Federal immigration laws under the 287(g) program.
These laws are supported by the vast majority of Americans, especially in Border States, because they blame illegal immigrants for rising crime rates and other social malaise. Just last week in Atlanta Georgia, Jessica Colotol, in the US since the age of ten and, about to graduate from Kennesaw state university, was arrested on traffic violation charge and jailed, when a check revealed that she was undocumented. Politicians in Georgia immediately jumped into the fray passing a resolution making citizenship verification a part of the admissions process for all state universities. “We have an illegal immigration problem in Minnesota” says one Minnesota politician, introducing an Arizona style immigration enforcement bill recently. Indeed, we all do.
Immigration is a national issue and, this storm of anger will rage until President Obama and congress pass comprehensive immigration reform. Ours is a rich country and therefore will attract immigrants searching for a better life in much the same way it was a magnet for our foreparents fleeing persecution and poverty a few generations past. We must not let it be said of us, as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar:
'tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend……’
America, as pope Benedict X1V has counseled, “should welcome immigrants, share their hopes, support them in their sorrow and trials and help them flourish in their new home….this is what our fellow countrymen have done for generations, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” We should do no less.