Tag Archives: Immigration

There’s 49 Other States


From Think Progress
, a year ago this guy would have gotten a ticket, not tossed in the slammer…

Alabama’s economy is suffering because of HB 56, the state’s draconian immigration law, as workers flee out of fear. State Sen. Scott Beason (R), who sponsored the anti-immigrant bill in the Alabama legislature, once called it a “jobs bill,” but the state’s immigration law is leaving entire industries without enough workers instead.

And the extreme law, which legislators are now reconsidering, could seriously damage the state’s reputation as well after police arrested a German Mercedes-Benz executive last week under the immigration law. Mercedes opened its first American manufacturing plant in Vance, Alabama in 1993, spurring a trend of foreign car makers and suppliers opening factories in the state. They may be rethinking that decision, however, after one of their German executives was arrested for simply not having his passport with him.


Read the rest here.

Think Progress links to a story in Associated Press

[Alabama Governor, Robert]Bentley, a Republican who signed the illegal immigration law earlier this year, called the state’s homeland security director, Spencer Collier, after hearing of the arrest to get details about had happened, Collier said in an interview.

“Initially I didn’t have them, so I called Chief Anderson to find out what happened,” Collier said. “It sounds like the officer followed the statute correctly.”

Collier said he didn’t know how Bentley found out about the arrest, and Bentley press secretary Jennifer Ardis referred all questions to Collier.

Collier said he has made at least a dozen similar calls to law enforcement agencies that made arrests under the law to see how it is being handled, and he said his call to Anderson wasn’t prompted by the fact a Mercedes executive was arrested.

“It’s just to make sure they’re using best practices and following the law,” he said.

If I were cynical, I’d take a perverse pleasure in the fact that the un-named Mercedes exec probably didn’t ‘look illegal’.

Bloomberg Business at msnbc has a detailed article about Why Americans Won’t do Dirty Jobs.

The short version is that these jobs are so difficult, dangerous and poorly paid that in an American economy workers lose money doing them. The only way to make it work is to send the American dollars to a poorer country where the value is greater. Bloomberg describes workers toiling 13 hours for $60. And this bears further investigation– an American worker trying to make a job in the fields..

In a neighboring field, Cedric Rayford is working a row. The 28-year-old came up with two friends from Gadsden, Ala., after hearing on the radio that farmers were hiring. The work is halfway complete when one member of their crew decides to quit. Rayford and crewmate Marvin Turner try to persuade their friend to stay and finish the job. Otherwise, no one will get paid. Turner even offers $20 out of his own pocket as a sweetener to no effect. “When a man’s mind is made up, there’s about nothing you can do,” he says.

NO ONE WILL GET PAID??? I’ll bet this is some ‘independent contractor’ deal where the workers get no hourly wage, no social security, no workers comp. insurance. This bears further investigation.

Alabama and other states that erode workers rights, health and safety are left with an economy that depends on jobs that do not pay a living wage. Governor Bentley has just dug deeper into the pit. Scapegoating immigrants won’t solve Alabama’s problems. Supporting workers rights is essential, but won’t offer any short-term political gain, and is not in sync with the Republican Party.

Mercedes, y’all can come up here. We could use some good jobs and we don’t arrest people for forgetting their driver’s license.

Nominal Purity

I’m posting this for a laugh before work. A blogger reports on a plan to remove all Spanish place names from Arizona. He’s an academic. His name is Professor Smart—. Do you think this might be satire?

We Are All Arizonians

Or is it Arizonans? Arizonites? Whatever Sarah Palin said.

If you get caught jaywalking in Arizona, you’d better be prepared to SHOW YOUR PAPERS. Unless you can say who won the World Series in ’73, or remember the words to the theme from Gilligan’s Island. Okay, I’m just speculating on quick and easy ways to prove your citizenship.

If a law that targets one group of people makes you uneasy for your own civil rights and liberties then you are thinking a few steps ahead. What goes around comes around.

You think it can’t happen here? This is from ProJo.com.

CENTRAL FALL, R.I. — Central Falls Police Chief Joseph P. Moran III has launched an internal investigation into a Guatemalan man’s allegation that a desk-duty officer refused to let him report a beating, because – as the officer allegedly said – the man “is Spanish” and therefore presumed he must be “an illegal immigrant.”

The accuser, Mario Ortega, of Central Falls, speaking through an interpreter, said the officer told him that “because of his [assumed] immigration status, he can’t file a police report.” Ortega said the officer also said that “his [the officer's] tax money doesn’t cover his [Ortega's] being in the hospital” as a result of his injuries.

If this story is true, then a police officer didn’t bother to pursue a couple of thugs who beat a man so badly that his bone was sticking out of his leg. Just leave them on the street. They won’t bother anyone.

I’m proud that the minister of my church will be in Arizona this month, standing against racism, against profiling, and for justice. Immigration reform and fair enforcement are badly needed, compromising civil rights is not the answer.

A Strong America

Lest we forget, we are a great nation, we are not a small, scared, besieged society circling the wagons and rationing justice. This is the American soul, inscribed in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty…

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Lady Liberty was born in France, came to America and settled in New York Harbor to welcome immigrants, my own great-grandparents included. A young man from France once told me that America gets the most ambitious, the bravest and most enterprising people from all over the world. You don’t have to be Einstein to see his point.

In 2006 twenty thousand Rhode Islanders assembled on the Statehouse lawn to support immigration reform. This was the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War. I know, because I was there. It was freezing cold at that rally, a perfect Spring day today. Let’s see who shows.

UPDATE: A few hundred people showed up, representatives from community groups and I saw some Quakers and Unitarians in the crowd. The Washington Post has an article on the economics of immigration. The next governor of Rhode Island should focus on job creation. We’ve seen zero benefit from scapegoating immigrants– it’s time to look at changes to help working families and small businesses.

Here is the ProJo.com coverage. Check out the comments and you will see that defending immigrants is a guaranteed way to get flamed. Reform is long overdue.

Estamos Unidos Con McCain

While idly perusing Wonkette I saw a front page from Arizona senatorial candidate John McCain’s Spanish language website. Que feliz, amigos, I thought, sing Kumbaya. I clicked on the link and there was the English site, headlining border security.

What happened to the famous Spanish site, that was all the rage in 2008? Where is the love this Cinco de Mayo? You can click here to an address called John McCain.com/espanol. But it is not en Espanol. I searched Google for that Spanish version, but had no success. Can you find it? Was it deported?

Taking the long view of US history, the reason we don’t have an official language is because with the exception of Native Americans we all arrived from somewhere else. I heard a rumor that Lady Liberty was conceived in France, but she’s All-American to me.

Technically American

Well, that’s a new one on me. This year’s New York City Marathon winner is American, but not enough to make us proud, according to Darren Rovell, CNBC sports reporter.

He actually did use the term, ‘technically American’.

Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he’s not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.

Darren Rovell can go ahead and sulk. I’ll just say, ‘Go USA!’.

Hope They’re Wearing Flame-Proof Vestments

I seem to recall that Bishop Tobin made a few mild statements in defense of immigrants and the ProJo letters page blasted him for it. But a brave group of clergy is giving it another try…

The Rhode Island State Council of Churches will release on Monday a 2,600-word document developed over the course of a year by the council’s Faith and Order Commission.

The document starts with a reminder to both Jews and Christians that Abraham, the first patriarch of the Hebrews, had been “called by the Lord” to emigrate from his homeland, and that Jews were constantly admonished in the Scriptures not to “wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Similarly, it says, it speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as an example of reaching out to people across ethnic lines, and points to his admonition that punishment will go to those “who do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked.”

“All the Christian denominations in the U.S. are immigrant churches. The history of our churches is a mixed record, though, and many of us have apparently forgotten our origins,” the statement laments.

At the very beginning of his term, President George W. Bush met with President Vincente Fox of Mexico, to discuss immigration. That was abandoned when Fox refused to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war. The Republican Party, unfortunately, has never stood up to those under its big tent who blame immigrants for all our problems.

For the clergy to issue a statement, even a late and mild one, shows moral courage. They’ll face criticism, but that’s their job, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Ivan Marte Resigns

The resignation of Ivan Marte has put Rhode Island in the national news. Here’s from the source–Projo.com…

CRANSTON, R.I — Ivan G. Marte, chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Hispanic Assembly, says he has quit the GOP out of embarrassment at South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s address to Congress last week.

Marte became “disenchanted” with Governor Carcieri after the Republican governor sought his advice — and then ignored it, Marte said — concerning the 2008 executive order cracking down on illegal immigration. Carcieri’s order angered many in the Hispanic community.

Marte suggested Carcieri visit Hispanic families in their homes; meet with Hispanic community leaders, and answer questions on Hispanic talk radio. “I think once I left the office, they must have thrown it [his suggestions] in the garbage,” Marte said. “I haven’t heard back.”

Just over a year ago Southeast Asian youth invited the Governor to meet with them to discuss the firing of three experienced interpreters in a cost-cutting move that seemed sure to cost plenty and not just in dollars. Mrs. Carcieri compared the high school students to terrorists and said that meeting with them would be rewarding bad behavior.

This year a large crowd of Teabaggers got the Governor out on the State House lawn waving victory signs just like Richard Nixon. It’s clear who you have to be to get his attention.

Former Governor Lincoln Almond was a Republican, and didn’t have much of a base in South Providence. But I saw him at a celebration of Martin Luther King day, in a church on Cranston Street. Almond was still recovering from prostate surgery, he could easily have declined the invitation. He looked tired and uncomfortable, but he made the effort to be there. I’ve never forgotten that.

Respect, or non-respect, for constituents, speaks louder than words.

Governor Carcieri Avoids the Fighting Irish


This past Saturday, November 17th saw the dedication of the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial. I was glad to be there, being the descendant of Irish immigrants. The Memorial is a bronze monument; three figures that represent the suffering of the Irish during the Famine of 1845-1852 and the mass emigration that resulted. The Memorial is infused with the pride of the Irish and our love of America. A low wall bears plaques relating the events that led to the deaths from starvation and disease of an estimated million Irish, and the emigration of a million more.

The history of indifference to suffering, abetted by prejudice, bad religion and the politics of greed is unfortunately not unique to that time or place. The inscription on the Memorial has a resonance today.

[British Prime Minister, Lord John] Russell, and Sir Charles Trevelyan, his chief economic advisor for Ireland, believed that their government should take only a limited part in relieving disasters like the Great Famine. They thought that the private charity of individuals and philanthropic organizations should shoulder the burden of Famine Relief. Accordingly, religious groups such as the Society of Friends (the Quakers) came forward to offer unconditional aid to Ireland.

Above all, Russell believed in protecting the rights of private property owners and in the promotion of a free market economy in both Britain and Ireland. In fact, the Government believed so strongly in the economic principle of noninterference in trade that it allowed the export from Ireland of abundant supplies of meat and grain during all the Famine years.
–Donald Donovan Deignan, PhD

You got that right. As their children starved, Irish workers were forced to sell their crops or face eviction from their rich, absentee landlords. There was no safety net, only the life of a homeless refugee.

The Irish had been disadvantaged for a long time. The British occupied the best of their land and took the best of their crops, but they could and did get by on a cheap diet of potatoes and milk. When the potato crop suffered a catastrophic blight there was no alternate source of food unless foreign aid and debt forgiveness were put in place. At first, there was some crisis relief, but a new election brought a change in politics under ministers like Charles Trevelyan.

As Assistant Secretary to the Treasury [Trevelyan] was placed in charge of the administration of Government relief to the victims of the Irish Famine in the 1840s. In the middle of that crisis Trevelyan published his views on the matter. He saw the Famine as a “mechanism for reducing surplus population”. He described the famine as “The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated. The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people”.

I don’t know if Trevelyan would have been so serene about the suffering and death of a million people on his watch if he hadn’t had the consolation of religion.

Governor Carcieri is also a religious person. Here’s from the Providence Journal.

Benefit dinner: The Mother of Life Center, of Providence, a nonprofit pro-life facility offering free counseling and testing services, and the Little Flower Home for unwed mothers, will host their annual Rose Dinner fundraiser at the West Valley Inn in West Warwick on Saturday, Nov. 10. Cocktails are at 6:30 and dinner at 7:30 p.m. The Governor and Mrs. Donald Carcieri are the honorary chairpersons. Tickets are $65 each, $120 for a couple, and $600 for a table of 10.

The Governor is dealing with a budget crisis, his Big Audit never turned up the zillions of dollars he promised to find. His response is to cut programs for children’s health, students, the elderly, schools, and families. When an after-school program is closed or a grandmother doesn’t get Meals on Wheels the middle class will feel the strain. The businessman’s response is to go for the short-term gain and hope to swing a deal, the politician’s response is to find a scapegoat.

“Frankly, I think from the state’s perspective we’ve been enabling and continue to enable a lot of bad decisions,” he said Sunday on WJAR-TV’s 10 News Conference. Asked to define ‘bad decisions’,he said: “Most of the people on our welfare programs are single women, unmarried with multiple children.”

“I think it is a bad decision to have children you can’t support–I am not making a moral judgment,” he said. “What I am saying is that we as taxpayers and citizens of the state are being asked to finance and support those decisions.”

Going a step further yesterday on WHJJ-radio’s Helen Glover Show, Carcieri said: “When I look at our rolls of people receiving ‘family-independence’ [benefits] whether it be RIte Care, whatever, the vast majority of these are women with children and they are not married and this is not a good situation.”

With all due respect to the Little Flower Home, I don’t think they can fill the gap left when hundreds of infants and children are thrown out of their health insurance. This Governor is one of the most callous and short-sighted we have ever had. He may think he’s channeling Ronald Reagan, but we’ve heard the ‘welfare queen–Murphy Brown’ routine before. All his sanctimony about welfare mothers isn’t fooling the elderly I work with, or the hard working home health aides who save the state money by keeping people out of the emergency room. It won’t fool the students who are trying to afford their tuition, or young people who are just one health emergency away from financial ruin.

The Monument dedication was an occasion for many eloquent speeches about the burden of poverty and the struggle of immigrants for a better life. Governor Carcieri’s absence was noted.

The Irish had every mark of the undeserving poor, and every virtue of the deserving poor. They came here just looking for a chance. In the twenty first century we still need to welcome immigrants, we still need to feed the hungry. We need to be true to the best of America and have faith in what we can be.

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