By Reynold N Mason Esq.
When it comes to child support in America, common sense has gone to the dogs. What justification could there be for compelling a father to pay $51,000.00 for the support of one child? This is not fiction. $51,000.00 a month is what Eddie Murphy pays to Melanie Brown, for the support of his child. A simple calculation shows that the mother will have received more than $11 million dollars by the child’s 18th birthday. This is not a quirk or an aberration. Rapper Nas, was forced to pay $350,000.00 to his ex-wife to avoid jail. In New York, P. Diddy’s court-ordered child support payment of $21, 782.00 is the highest ever in New York. By the child’s 18th birthday, the mother will have received over $4.5 million in support payments from P. Daddy. The list of celebrities trapped in the fangs of this monster is so long that it will persuade even hard-core feminists that the system is abusive toward fathers. But when the gavel comes down in family court, even the ordinary Joe has reason for dread.
Consider the case of Major Wingate, a college student and basketball hopeful. He fathered a child by his girlfriend while at the university of Tennessee. He did not make it to the NBA, so on the advice of his handlers he headed overseas to try and kick start his basketball career. Wingate played basketball in China, Romania, Puerto Rico and other countries in the hope he would be noticed by NBA talent scouts. His career sputtering, he returns home and is promptly jailed by a judge because he had fallen behind in his child support payments. The judge was concerned that being such a global traveler he might not show up for his trial. Child support has driven even the wealthy into penury. Lawrence Taylor, former NFL great and now a Hall of Famer, was driven into bankruptcy by exorbitant child support. Once he left the NFL, LT was unable to maintain the high level of child support on his diminished income. Darryl Strawberry, even while he battled cancer and unemployment was snared by the child support trap. To avoid jail he was forced to pay $350,000.00 in back payments and another $10,000.00 per month to catch up on arrears on $194,000.00. At the settlement conference, the prosecutor promised: “If Mr. Strawberry fails to meet his payments he will go to jail.” Strawberry was also ordered to keep up the regular $12,000.00 monthly payments for the two children.
Child Support Enforcement : the birth of a monster.
No one questions the deeply rooted and firmly held belief that parents have a moral obligation to support their children. But the good intentions of federal bureaucrats have gone awry. In 1996, faced with an increasing bill for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), the Clinton Administration transformed the system of child support into a penal apparatus, replete with its own bureaucracy of child protective services, support collection agents, social workers and, of course, the courts. This system operates outside the constitutional order and, over the last decade has transformed child support enforcement (CSE) into a tyrant that operates by its own rules. The original intent of CSE was to recover money paid to needy families to support children of fathers who had abandoned the families or were ‘willfully absent parents’ who were not supporting their children. The single mother problem was draining welfare funds, especially in the inner cities and swelling the welfare rolls. The intention was to recover from absent fathers, money paid by the government for the support of their families. This system now called TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) was tied to need, and helped families whose income was not enough to meet family needs. Mothers were required to have paternity established and assign to the state, any benefits established by a future child support order. A mother who did not have paternity established had her payments reduced. The government then goes after the absent parent to recover its money. This effectively made the state a collection agency. Billions of federal dollars are available to states that meet federal guidelines for recouping welfare payments from absent parents. In 2006 the Federal government paid $4.2 billion to states under TANF. The result is that states now use the program to increase their caseload. In New York, for example, every parent is required to make child support payments through the Support Collection Unit (SCU) and all employed parents must pay through deduction directly from their pay check.
By this legislative sleight of hand, New York and sister states have entrapped willing fathers and brought them into the system intended only for “welfare families” increasing their caseload and their share of federal dollars for the increased support collection. The states have become, under this system, virtual collection agencies taking a cut of whatever they bleed out of fathers, absent or not. This quasi legal artifice is used to trap support paying fathers, not just “willfully absent’ parents, and bring them into the TANF program, with no eligibility requirements. All that is now required is entitlement to child support. The father need not be absent and may even be current on his voluntary payments. An entire industry has sprung up turning a family matter into a lucrative for- profit business, plunging middle class families into the abyss of CSE and dooming untold number of fathers to virtual serfdom.
Across the country, bar associations, labor unions, social workers, and collection agencies have all hopped aboard the gravy train. Their sleek advertisements can be seen on television inviting mothers to avail themselves of collection services, “no fee unless we collect.” These programs, of dubious social value, keep the cash flowing into state and private coffers by draining money from fathers sliding into poverty under the weight of an unfair system. According to a Preliminary Data Report from the Washington office of child support issued in 2003, the non- welfare cases, divorced and separated fathers, accounted for 83% of the CSE case load, and 92 % of the money collected. At its inception welfare cases comprised 100 % of the CSE caseload. The report found that “most states make a profit on their child support program”, and are free to spend the money in any way they see fit. Because of this disconnect, every fatherless child is looked upon as a source of revenue for states strapped for cash. The scramble for federal dollars, in addition to interest and penalties on arrears, is the engine driving the exponential growth of the CSE behemoth. This system allowed Ohio to rake in $240 million and California $640 million in 2003, according to the Green Book for the House Ways and Means committee for 2003.
Before the birth of CSE, nearly all support was paid directly from one parent to another without officious meddling by government bureaucrats. The criminal enforcement methods that have become de rigueur were employed only in welfare cases to compel recalcitrant inner city fathers to repay money paid for support of their children under TANF. These methods, meant for welfare cases, now apply to all child support cases, even though there is no willfully absent parent or refusal to pay support. For men in general, and for a few women, child support has been transformed from a system of public assistance into penal machinery, bilking willing and able fathers of their hard-earned money, often beyond their ability to pay. When this happens, the full range of criminal sanctions is brought to bear. These sanctions can crush and paralyze fathers and destroy second families. Missed payments lead to jail for contempt, loss of driver’s license, asset seizures, garnished paychecks, tax refund intercepts and even revocation of a father’s passport. The machinery leaves no stone unturned; employers are now required to file a report whenever a new employee is hired. In a few jurisdictions a father in arrears may find his car booted. The burden of alleviating welfare has shifted from the government onto the backs of middle class fathers. It is a forced march to the poor house, and those who fall behind will be tagged with the vile moniker “deadbeat dads.” One writer has said the constitution never granted the states license to steal, but in 2010, the fleecing of working fathers is occurring before our eyes disguised as the CSE monster.
My thanks to Stephen Baskerville of the Institute for policy Innovation and, to Larry Holland and Jason Bottomley; their work on this issue has brought important policy questions to light.
by Reynold N. Mason Esq.
Over the past week the noise surrounding the building of the proposed mosque near ground zero has drowned out other nettlesome issues on the political scene. Only the Shirley Sherrod controversy eclipsed the squabble over the building of the mosque. Ironically, Shirley Sherrod, whose father was shot in the chest and killed by a bigot, was herself victimized by the very bigotry and prejudice that led to her father’s killing, and now has given rise the controversy over the ground zero mosque.
After 9/11, prejudice against Muslims has become de rigueur. Many Americans view Islam as somewhat of a cultural pariah, inferior in teaching and practice to American mainstream mores and, as a violent political ideology. Hate crimes against Muslims spiked in the aftermath of 9/11, from 354 in 2000 to 1501 in 2001. A good number of Americans view Islamic rules about marriage, divorce and custody as regressive. We rail against amputation for stealing, and the stoning of an adulterer but we impose the death penalty on criminals. We criticize Islam’s unequal treatment of women, but we treat divorced fathers like serfs, in virtual servitude to alimony drones. American feminists have successfully changed the courts and the law, as well as American attitudes about divorce, custody and child support. Instead of viewing fathers as individuals we make sweeping assumptions and treat all fathers as second class citizens. We incarcerate unemployed fathers who are not able to pay child support. So who are we to criticize Islam for making sweeping assumptions about women? Our cultural elitism is misguided and misplaced. Simply being different does not make us superior.
The Islamic community has just as much right to build near ground zero as the catholic community would have to erect a cathedral at the same site. Sara Palin is wrong and misguided in her expression of opposition to the mosque. Islam did not destroy the World Trade Center. A few Islamic extremists did. We do not condemn the entire Catholic Church or seek to drive it away from schools because of a few pedophiles in its ranks. But we refuse to apply the same discriminating logic to Islam. Instead we lay responsibility for the misguided acts of a few extremists at the door of the mosque. Muslims are entitled to the same religious freedoms as every other American. Unless we can demonstrate that the proposed mosque would endanger the peace and safety, then we are wrong for opposing it.
For once, mayor Bloomberg is right. In spite of polls showing New Yorkers oppose the building of the mosque at ground zero, he has taken a principled position. As a representative of all the citizens on New York, he has an obligation to refrain from expressing any preference for one religious group over another. He is right to ignore calls of those engaged in demagoguery over this fundamental America freedom, the freedom of religion. It is wrong for Rick Lazio and others seeking political advantage to engage in unprincipled opposition to the mosque.
Democracy is organized anarchy. There must, of necessity, be dissent, disagreement and dialogue. But the knee-jerk response to the proposed mosque near around zero is based on irrational fear and prejudice, and has no place in the democratic process. It is that species of prejudice that spawned Jim Crow jurisprudence in the old south that we as Americans would like to forget. It is high time we heed the lesson of our own history. America interned its innocent citizens of Japanese descent during world war two because the empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. And in the 1790’s, (as Morton Borden writes in: Jew Turks and infidels) when most Americans were Protestant Christians, 11 of the states denied Jews the right to vote or hold office. ((Americans should not demonize and vilify all of Islam because it is at odds with many of our cherished American values, such as equality, freedom of expression, the traditional family, and separation of church and state)). The erstwhile speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, in opposition to the ground zero mosque has said: “There should never be a mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” To him I say, we should never abandon our obligation under our constitution to respect religious differences. This is the basis for true religious freedom that we as Americans have enjoyed. It is unjust and unwise to deny Muslims the free exercise of religion. Opposing the ground zero mosque is a smoke screen, a decoy, behind which we seek to hide our Islamaphodia. It is religious intolerance plain and simple.
Guns win, lock stock and barrel
by Reynold N.Mason Esq.
June 28 2010 will go down as a historic day for both supporters and opponents of gun rights. The Supreme Court handed down its long awaited decision in the McDonald V Chicago case. Otis McDonald the plaintiff in the case, lives is a bad Chicago neighborhood. His home and garage have been burglarized more than six times. According to Mr. McDonald, the gang bangers have taken over the neighborhood. But he could not keep a hand gun in his home much less on his person. He sued the City of Chicago and he finally won. The Supreme Court finally has said, what for two hundred years it has dodged, ducked and avoided. Yes, the 2nd Amendment means what it says, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. So why did all those smart Harvard lawyers in the City of Chicago not know that little tidbit of constructional wisdom?
The fact is that the lawyers and all the politicians knew that we all have a right to own a hand gun. They simply like to take the easy way out. The City of Chicago and all of its minions should read Justice Thomas’ concurrence. The Founding Fathers believed in the right to own guns and, to make sure that big brother did not take away our right to own a gun, they enshrined that right in 2nd Amendment to the constitution. That was a few hundred years ago. Then Blacks were freed and former slave holding states passed laws aimed at preventing former slaves from owing firearms. The majority in McDonald reached the right conclusion but dared not call a spade a spade. They danced around the issue with convoluted logic only the Chicago boys could understand. But Justice Thomas told it the way it was. He wrote:
The overarching goal of pro-slavery forces was to repress the spread of abolitionist thought and the concomitant risk of a slave rebellion. Indeed, it is difficult to overstate the extent to which fear of a slave uprising gripped slaveholders and dictated the acts of Southern legislatures. Slaves and free blacks represented a substantial percentage of the population and posed a severe threat to Southern order if they were not kept in their place. According to the 1860 Census, slaves represented one quarter or more of the population in 11 of the 15 slave States, nearly half the population in Alabama. The Southern fear of slave rebellion was not unfounded. Although there were others, two particularly notable slave uprisings heavily influenced slaveholders in the South. In 1822, a group of free blacks and slaves led by Denmark Vesey planned a rebellion in which they would slay their masters and flee to Haiti. The plan was foiled, leading to the swift arrest of 130 blacks, and the execution of 37, including Vesey.
That was back in the days when Nat Turner walked as a freeman. That could not be allowed to happen. Dred Scott had been overruled and blacks were finally US citizens but they did not enjoy the privileges and immunities of US citizenship. So the Congress passed the Privileges and Immunities Clause. This meant that blacks could now keep and bear arms, a right every white citizen took for granted. Southern Whites were fearful. Justice Thomas writes:
The fear generated ....led Southern legislatures to take particularly vicious aim at the rights of free blacks and slaves to speak or to keep and bear arms for their defense. Teaching slaves to read (even the Bible) was a criminal offense punished severely in some States. Virginia made it a crime for a member of an "abolition" society to enter the State and argue "that the owners of slaves have no property in the same, or advocate or advise the abolition of slavery. Other States prohibited the circulation of literature denying a master's right to property in his slaves and passed laws requiring postmasters to inspect the mails in search of such material. Many legislatures amended their laws prohibiting slaves from carrying firearms to apply the prohibition to free blacks as well. (declaring that "it shall not be lawful for any free person of colour in this state, to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description whatever"); Florida made it the "duty" of white citizen "patrol[s] to search negro houses or other suspected places, for fire arms.". If they found any firearms, the patrols were to take the offending slave or free black "to the nearest justice of the peace," whereupon he would be "severely punished" by "whipping on the bare back, not exceeding thirty-nine lashes," unless he could give a "plain and satisfactory" explanation of how he came to possess the gun.
This fear, writes Justice Thomas ……led to "systematic efforts in the old Confederacy" to disarm the more than 180,000 freedmen who had served in the Union Army, as well as other free blacks. Some States formally prohibited blacks from possessing firearms. Others enacted legislation prohibiting blacks from carrying firearms without a license, a restriction not imposed on whites. Additionally, "[t]hroughout the South, armed parties, often consisting of ex-Confederate soldiers serving in the state militias, forcibly took firearms from newly freed slaves." ….Take, for example, the Hamburg Massacre of 1876. There, a white citizen militia sought out and murdered a troop of black militiamen for no other reason than that they had dared to conduct a celebratory Fourth of July parade through their mostly black town. The white militia commander, "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, later described this massacre with pride: "[T]he leading white men of Edgefield" had decided "to seize the first opportunity that the negroes might offer them to provoke a riot and teach the negroes a lesson by having the whites demonstrate their superiority by killing as many of them as was justifiable." None of the perpetrators of the Hamburg murders was ever brought to justice.
Organized terrorism like that perpetuated by Tillman and his cohorts proliferated in the absence of federal enforcement of constitutional rights. Militias such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces, and the '76 Association spread terror among blacks and white Republicans by breaking up Republican meetings, threatening political leaders, and whipping black militiamen. These groups raped, murdered, lynched, and robbed as a means of intimidating, and instilling pervasive fear in, those whom they despised. Although Congress enacted legislation to suppress these activities, Klan tactics remained a constant presence in the lives of Southern blacks for decades. Between 1882 and 1968, there were at least 3,446 reported lynchings of blacks in the South. They were tortured and killed for a wide array of alleged crimes, without even the slightest hint of due process. Emmit Till, for example, was killed in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The fates of other targets of mob violence were equally depraved. The use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves from mob violence. As Eli Cooper, one target of such violence, is said to have explained, " '[t]he Negro has been run over for fifty years, but it must stop now, and pistols and shotguns are the only weapons to stop a mob”. Sometimes, as in Cooper's case, self-defense did not succeed. He was dragged from his home by a mob and killed as his wife looked on.
The type of violence and intimidation endured by Mr. McDonald and countless other victims of Chicago bandits, is nothing if not terrorism. It makes its victims feel just as powerless as freed blacks facing southern lynch mobs. It is a wholesale violation of their constitutional right to deny them the right to own a gun for self defense. The issue in McDonald was whether the court would uphold our right to own a hand gun to defend ourselves and our families against the kind of violence the 2nd amendment was designed to put a stop to. Five wise, courageous men answered a resounding, yes. Those who oppose owning handguns do not have to purchase one. But at last, they can no longer keep the rest of us from doing so. Ali Cooper was right. We have been run over for fifty years, but it must stop now, and pistols and shotguns are the only weapons to stop a mob.
Note: Several of the passages in this article are form Justice Thomas’ opinion in McDonald v Chicago decided June 28, 2010
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.