Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Immigration: The problems in a nutshell...

From American Progress:

The Consequences Of Enforcement Without Reform

The public debate on immigration reform in the United States has tended to focus on a narrow set of factors: a porous border between the U.S. and Mexico, the large number of undocumented immigrants inside the United States, and the politics of comprehensive reform versus border security. Hidden beneath the surface of these debates, however, is a shadowy world of law enforcement mechanisms that not only exacerbate the immigration problem in the country, but also violate the due process and basic human rights of immigrants who get caught up in a "system of neglect" that can at times result in unnecessary death.

These problems often begin at the front lines of enforcement. Last month, federal agents conducted the "biggest immigration raid in U.S. history" that nabbed nearly 400 workers at a meat-packing plant in Iowa. While most of the people arrested have been sentenced, "not one company official as yet faces any charges -- something critics say is typical of a federal government that is tough on employees but easy on owners."

In fact, such raids tend to reinforce the Bush administration's public relations campaign designed to present the facade that "the federal government is cracking down on illegal immigration." As Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration-reform group America's Voice, noted, "[T]hose who think enforcement is the answer can't seriously believe the 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. can be arrested and deported."


Last November, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that "the days of treating employers who violate [immigration] laws by giving them the equivalent of a corporate parking ticket -- those days are gone. It's now felonies, jail time, fines, and forfeitures." But throughout 2007, just two percent of illegal immigration related arrests "involved criminal charges against those who hired the workers."

In fact, the federal government's focus on employees rather than employers has "increased criminal prosecutions of immigration violators to record levels in part by filing minor charges against virtually every person caught illegally crossing some stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border." Piloted in 2005, "Operation Streamline," as the program is known, "requires that virtually everyone caught illegally crossing segments of the border be charged with at least a misdemeanor immigration count and jailed until they are brought to court and, if convicted, eventually deported."

However, last February, Streamline cases outnumbered all other Department of Justice prosecutions combined. The program is "swamping federal courthouses" and "distorting the functions of law enforcement and the courts" as sex crimes, drug cases, murders, assault, and other crimes increasingly are ignored. "We're concerned about the misdirection of resources," said Heather Williams, first assistant to the federal public defender of Arizona, adding "this is taking on a life of its own."


Since 2003, "when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] agency was created, 83 deaths reportedly have been linked to detention sites run by ICE or by private contractors and local governments." The ICE detention infrastructure holds more than 300,000 detainees per year and recent crackdowns have fueled a dramatic expansion, nearly doubling the number of beds (33,000) since 2004. A recent investigation of ICE detention centers by the Washington Post "found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages." Detainees who are physically sick or mentally ill are caught up in ICE's "system of neglect" where "[t]hey are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen." One detainee, Yusif Osman, a native of Ghana, died in his cell of heart failure.

It's likely the true cause of his death resulted from poor record keeping and neglect. Doctors who reviewed Osman's case said "he might have lived had he received timely treatment, perhaps as basic as an aspirin." One nurse at an Arizona detention facility -- who quit because of "scary medicine" practices -- concluded that "dogs get better care in the dog pound."


The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has noted that "[r]ather than reducing undocumented immigration, the enforcement-without-reform strategy" pursues "undocumented immigrants who are not a threat to anyone, and who are drawn here by the labor needs of our own economy."

But once swept up, in most cases these ICE detainees "are not guaranteed free legal representation" and as part of ICE's "expedited removal" program, many arriving immigrants are quickly deported "without the opportunity for a hearing before an immigration judge." In fact, most of the 30,000-plus detainees do not even face criminal charges; many are there for civil violations, some have overstayed a visa, while others are seeking asylum.

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) called the laws cracking down on undocumented immigrants "repugnant," adding that they are "violating due process and basic human rights of people." Moreover, the IPC notes that such immigration policies have "fueled the growth of increasingly profitable and sophisticated businesses in human smuggling."

The "[i]ncreased corruption is linked, in part, to tougher enforcement, driving smugglers to recruit federal employees as accomplices." As the New York Times recently reported, "The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes."



zeezil said...

Illegal Immigration IS A CRIME:

8 U.S.C. 1325 = illegal entry.
" (a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection;
misrepresentation and concealment of facts Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both."

zeezil said...

Civil rights pertain ONLY to citizens.

The Merriam-Webster online Dictionary defines civil-rights as: “The nonpolitical rights of a citizen; especially: the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress.” If one is not a citizen of the country, civil rights do not apply.

Pete Murphy said...

Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. Immigration, both legal and illegal, are fueling this growth.

I'm not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news - growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, soaring commodity prices, environmental degradation, etc. I'm talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America.

I should introduce myself. I am the author of "Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America." To make a long story short, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

This theory has huge implications for U.S. policy toward population management, especially immigration policy. Our policies of encouraging high rates of immigration are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well-served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy.

But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.

The U.N. ranks the U.S. with eight other countries - India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia and China - as accounting for fully half of the world’s population growth by 2050. The U.S. is the only developed country still experiencing third world-like population growth, most of which is due to immigration. It's absolutely imperative that our population be stabilized, and that's impossible without dramatically reining in immigration, both legal and illegal.

If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at OpenWindowPublishingCo.com where you can read the preface, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It's also available at Amazon.com.)

Please forgive the somewhat "spammish" nature of the previous paragraph. I just don't know how else to inject this new perspective into the immigration debate without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

Pete Murphy
Author, Five Short Blasts

Leif said...

Pete Murphy works hard at his mission. I visited his web site and read his articles. People who take seriously a problem deserve to be taken seriously. Being taken seriously certainly doesn't mean agreed with, but he isn't a flame thrower; his stuff is reasoned and at least reasonable.
I am reminded of me in ninth grade algebra, and me again yesterday at a symposium on international mathematics performance. In the ninth grade, had my teacher (a Mr. Boughter, of interminable age because he carried all the effects of being a respiratory casualty of WW I) asked, in about, oh, November, "Leif, have you any questions," and had I been 45 instead of 14, I would have said, "No, Mr. Boughter, I haven't any questions about algebra, but I do have a question about you. Why haven't you noticed, in our two months together in this class, that I didn't understand the second five minutes of our first class session? Why are you asking me now, and, having asked, are you willing to start again from the beginning?" It was the wrong question.
And in yesterday's symposium, with its superb Power Point presentation of enough data to make a raft that would carry a hippo across the sea, the question was wrong again. Throughout the 90 minutes of nation-by-nation, grade-by-grade, objective-by-objective, test-by-test data on the mathematics performance of United States students vis a vis students in other nations around the world, the question persisted: What are we to do about this state of affairs? And data-based solutions were posed throughout, as well, but always in response to the overriding question: What are we to do about this state of affairs? It was the wrong question, and I would have spoken up had there been sufficient question time. But I will speak up among our own faculty. The right question is this: What is the relationship between the mathematics test performance of fifth, ninth, and eleventh graders and a nation's geopolitical and economic competitiveness? Put another way, does the mathematics test performance of United States fifth, ninth, and eleventh graders matter?
Back to Pete Murphy. We know some things about his topic, from history, and the problem with what history tells us is that history patterns repeat themselves, not because that is how history works, but because people don't pay attention the first time. Here's what we know.
1. Critters move. We're among the critters. There is no way to stop critters from moving.
2. We move because we must, and we care nothing about lines in the sand that other critters call "international borders," that, themselves, move all the time. The dirt stays pretty much the same, but the lines in the dirt change.
3. We reproduce pretty much in line with resources that sustain us. Change availability of resources, and the reproduction rates change.
4. We, the more insightful among the rest of the critters, try to adjust the consequences of #3, but we fail most of the time, so when we reproduce our kind beyond our capacity to produce resources, some of us die, and we keep dying until there is affected a new balance between resources and numbers of us.
5. We have, virtually forever, confused achievement with competition, which has always meant that we can help keep reproduction in line with resources by killing each other in the name of winning, or avoiding losing.

Pete Murphy's question is wrong, though his work on his wrong question can be defined as good. But the question is, How do we change the paradigm on the basis of which we have always functioned into a new one that accommodates us all?
I know, that's one of those pie-in-the-sky meanderings that goes nowhere because it isn't realistic. I accept that. I also accept that if Pete Murphy is right, there will be a correction along the way in the relatively near future (maybe 50-100 years out), and we'll start again with new lines in the dirt and new labels within the lines.