Morrison Institute Sheds Light

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at the Arizona State University in Tempe recently issued an interesting report.  The non-partisan organization, founded in 1982 with the intent of bridging academia with public policy makers, has come up with some illuminating numbers in regards to Immigration in the United States.

I’ve been shouted down by people who claim that opinion polls in Arizona show that 70% of the public supports the law SB 1070.  The Morrison Institute does not dispute this, but its figures show that 57% of Arizonans support open immigration for honest citizens and exclusion only to those who have criminal backgrounds.

It has been argued that immigrants are responsible for the rising levels of violent crime here in Arizona.  That is a fiction.  The levels of violent crime in Arizona have steadily been decreasing for the past seven years and is below the national average.  Additionally, the crime statistics that supporters of SB 1070 use don’t factor in the violence perpetrated by the Sinaloa cartel against its rivals and those who have betrayed them.  The Sinaloa cartel is the greatest threat to law and order in Maricopa county, that much is true.  Why are we hassling Maria, who is just trying to do her job at the Holiday Inn?

The crazy people are saying that Arizona is being overrun by Mexicans.  We are being invaded!  By the millions, no less!  The fact of the matter is that illegal immigration in Arizona peaked in the 1990s, and the numbers have been going down, not up, every year since.  And there are not millions of them!  The total number in Arizona, right now, is about 460,000.

Some say that these illegal immigrants are a drain on our economy, but the truth of the matter is that there is no evidence of this whatsoever.  Here in Arizona, we have very low state income and property taxes, we rely on a very high sales tax to fund our local governments and programs.  (The numbers vary depending on where you shop, but where I live, it’s 11%.)  We hire Mexicans to do work on our property, but I can assure you that they pay rent to an American landlord, purchase their clothes and tools at American stores, and fill their bellies with American purchased food and drink.

Some say that illegal aliens are flooding our prison system.  Well, if you call 15% flooding, I suppose they are right.  Because that’s the actual number.

There are those who say that our immigration problem is a result of lax enforcement.  According to the Morrison Institute, it is not needed because immigration rates have been dropping like a stone for the past decade.  By about 60%.

This next one I really like:  some insist that undocumented foreigners in Arizona are overwhelming our state’s health care system.  Only legal citizens can apply for the state’s AHCCCS (that’s Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the acronym that is ironically pronounced like the word “access.”)  So this is simply utterly false.  It is true that hospital emergency rooms are, by law, required to attend to anybody who walks through the door.  But according to Arizona state records, undocumented patients who were unable to pay only made up 6% of the state’s total.  Also, studies have shown that the undocumented are far less likely to visit an emergency room than a native citizen.

“They took our jobs!”  A tired refrain which has little to do with reality.  Yes, the low-skilled work force will face more competition, but because the Baby Boomer generation is starting to retire, America will actually need an influx of new laborers in the very near future.

“These immigrant kids are taxing the resources of our schools.”  Another tired old refrain.  For which there are no government statistics.  By law, all children are required to receive an education.  It has, however, been estimated that there are 1.5 million undocumented children enrolled in schools in the USA.  There are 50 million children enrolled in public school in America.  Do the math.

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  

When Love and Immigration Law Collide

Today, I want to tell a story with the intention of putting a human face on the problems that immigrants face.  Inspired by an article in the Arizona Republic, which purposefully obscured some facts in order to protect the identities of the subjects, I will attempt to fill in some of the holes and to expand.

Once upon a time, not all that too long ago, Viviana was a carefree Latina-American high school student in the Valley.  Rodolfo was an ESL (English as a Second Language) student from Mexico studying at the very same school that Viviana attended.  He knew that learning English was important, whether his future be in Mexico or America.

Viviana and Rodolfo meet, and yes, they fall in love.  And as teenagers are wont to do, they don’t consider circumstances.  It never occurs to young Rodolfo to hire an immigration attorney in order to get his status changed.  He simply allows his student visa to expire.  And silly Viviana and Rodolfo think that when they marry, Rodolfo will become a legal citizen of the USA.  I mean, that’s what most people think, right?

Wrong.

When Viviana and Rodolfo finally hired an immigration attorney, they learned the hard, cruel truth.  Because Rodolfo had overstayed his student visa, because he violated American immigration law, because he was illegal, he would have to return to Mexico and face a potential ten year ban from ever legally setting foot on American soil.  Needless to say, Viviana and Rodolfo stayed in Arizona.  What would you do?

Today, years later, Viviana and Rodolfo are home owners here in the Valley and have a young child.  They are upstanding citizens, yet they live in constant, perpetual fear of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his immigration goon squad.  Are they going to take Daddy away?

Viviana and Rodolfo want to play by the rules, but the damn rules don’t make any sense.  How is America a better country by separating a husband and father from his wife and child for ten years!  Just because, as a young man, he had an imperfect knowledge of immigration law.  He overstayed his student visa.  That’s his crime!

Can anybody honestly argue that the punishment fits the crime in this

Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Russell Pearce on Anchor Babies

Pearce on Anchor Babies

Okay, to be fair, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce did not write this e-mail, he merely forwarded it.  But it clearly shows us the kind of people “he pals around with” as Sister Sarah would say.  You don’t forward e-mails you get from complete strangers unless you have read it thoroughly and agree with its contents.

Russell Pearce has yet to repudiate these thoughts, but I imagine he will.  He’ll use the old “I just forwarded it to some friends without having looked at it” excuse.  Which leads us to the obvious question:  if it were only meant for friends, how did it wind up in Keith Olbermann’s hands?

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Who Benefits the Most from SB 1070?

To answer the question as to who has the most to win from the passage of SB 1070, we really don’t need to dig our Sherlock Holmes caps out from the closet.  It certainly isn’t the Accidental Governor, Jan Brewer, who let the bill fester on her desk for a week before she was compelled by forces unknown to sign it into law.  This was not her issue, and it does not help her politically.  Jan Brewer is a competent public official, but she’s not a leader.  I’d elect her to the HOA Board, but as governor, she’s in way over her head.  And she knows it.  She’s facing an election in November, an election she is very unlikely to win.  Especially after having galvanized the “vote for anybody but Brewer” crowd with her signage of SB 1070.

Okay, how about Russell Pearce, the sponsor of SB 1070?  What does Russell Pearce have to gain?  I say the answer is:  a sense of grandeur.  And very little else.  His raison d’etre is promoting his racist, anti-immigrant agenda.  And he is gaining ground.  There’s no doubt about that.  He’s moving the ball down the field.  He got 1070 passed and signed, and then he got another bill that banned the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona public schools passed.  But, at the end of the day, Russell Pearce is nothing more than an ambitious racist, bigoted blowhard.  And the political winds are changing here in Arizona, and I think that Senator Pearce will find himself out of work and seeking employment at some AM radio talk show sooner rather than later.

Which brings us to door number three.  Obviously, it’s not the people of Arizona.  Arizona presently has eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  We were hoping to pick up two more seats once the current census numbers come in and the nation’s districts are re-aligned, but thanks to anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic rhetoric and actual legal measures that have been taken to drive Hispanics from our state, we will likely only pick up one.  Additionally, Arizona has what most Americans would consider a peculiar way of raising public funds.  We have a very low state income tax, much lower than average property taxes, but an incredibly high sales tax.  It varies on where you shop.  There is the state sales tax, the county sales tax, and then the municipal sales tax.  If I shop locally, I’m paying about 11%.  We depend on tourism.  And we also depend on our friends from south of the border.  They may or may not be undocumented, but they have to spend money here.  And the built-in logic of our tax policy is dependent upon Mexicans spending money here in Arizona.

So, who is the mystery man behind door number three?  None other than Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” the jefe of the MCSO (that’s the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office).  I really must hand it to Joe on this one.  He has deftly kept his hands off of SB 1070.  He let his friend and former Deputy Sheriff, Russell Pearce, do all the dirty work.  He manipulated Acting Governor Brewer to sign it by threatening to run against her in a Republican primary.  He’s an awful, awful man, but in a Machiavellian way, he’s a great politician.  And he’s not to be underestimated.

All Politics Are Local

Sheriff Joe is facing so many lawsuits that it’s difficult to keep track of them.  But he’s dealt with them in the past and has had no compunction whatsoever with passing the bill to the Maricopa County taxpayer.  I’m not sure if we’ve reached the $100 million mark yet, but we’re well into the $10 millions.  That’s how much we’ve had to pay over the years for his bigotry and arrogance.  But now it is different.

Sheriff Joe is a former fed.  Ex-DEA.  Was stationed in Mexico City, and it was there, for some unknown reason, his career as a federal law enforcement officer started to flag.  He was transferred to the border, and soon after, Joe got one of those “it is best that you resign before we fire you” memos.

And that is what fascinates me about Sheriff Joe.  One would think that, as a former DEA agent, he would have a passion for busting drug dealers, and as an agent who has lived in Mexico, he would be more sympathetic to the honest, hard-working Mexicans and would understand how difficult it is to live amongst the drug cartels.  Instead, he pursues people like Maria, the woman who cleans the toilets at the Holiday Inn and Juan, who picks the oranges at the local orange grove.  The Sinaloa cartel is operating in Arizona, it is operating right here in Maricopa County!  But Sheriff Joe does nothing to make a move against these sociopathic gangsters.  In practical terms, Sheriff Joe is giving the Sinaloa cartel a free pass to do whatever it wants within his jurisdiction.  But poor ol’ Maria and poor ol’ Juan, they had better watch out.  Sheriff Joe is coming after you.

Which brings us to 287 (g).  That’s a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1995 that allows the federal government to authorize local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal law regarding immigration.  In Arizona, the following institutions have that right:  the Arizona Dept of Corrections, the Arizona Dept of Public Safety (that’s the State Police), the Phoenix Police Department, the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.  Notice who is missing?  Sheriff Joe and his MCSO did have 287 (g) status, once upon a time, but it was revoked because repeated and credible accusations of racial profiling.

Additionally, four different US Congressional committees held hearings last year which resulted in a unanimous recommendation that the US Attorney General’s office investigate Arpaio and the MCSO. He’s on the hot seat, for racial profiling and a whole lot of other improprieties which border on both sides the criminal.  Sheriff Joe is looking at Federal jail time.  SB 1070 just may be his “get out of prison” card.

The purpose of SB 1070 is not to stop illegal immigration, it’s purpose is to put pressure on the Federal government to stop the investigation into the crimes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Who Sponsored SB 1070?

As I have argued in my previous post, I think it is important to know the people behind a piece of legislation to truly understand the real underpinning of a bill.

The sponsor of SB 1070 is Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican, of Mesa, a city located in the East Valley, in Maricopa County, approximately 20 miles from Phoenix.  Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona with a population of about 450,000.

Before entering politics, Pearce was a professional lawman, who eventually reached the rank of Deputy Sheriff of the MCSO – that’s the acronym for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.  To this day, Pearce is good friends with the department and its present jefe, the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Pearce is also oddly very friendly with people who have some rather hateful ideas, skinheads and Neo-Nazis and the like.  (Oh, that was not a typo, skinheads here in Maricopa County are actually celebrated by the MCSO — remember, they’re the cops.  Isn’t that a kick in the butt?)

Russell Pearce is also a very creative man, he can make up facts on the spot better than Bill O’Reilly.  During a State Senate committee hearing, he claimed, in support of his anti-immigrant agenda, that 69 murders had recently taken place in one day along our border.  Not everyone in Arizona is stupid, so Pearce was asked if any of those murders actually took place in Arizona.  Turns out, none of them occurred in Arizona and 69 was the number for the entire country of Mexico.

Pearce claimed that 67% of law enforcement officers that are killed in the line of duty are killed by illegal aliens.  Despite the fact that no law enforcement agency in the country keeps those numbers.  It’s not a statistical category.

Pearce claimed that 60% of the murders in the city of Phoenix “involved” illegal aliens.  Not according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Pearce cited the Atlanta Science Foundation as his source when he was questioned about his assertion that 10 sexual predators cross our border every day.  There is no such foundation.  He made it up.  It’s complete fiction.

I could go on and on.  And I probably will.  But in another post.

The bottom line here is, do we really want our immigration policies crafted by men like this?

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Who Wrote SB 1070?

I think this is an important question.  Proponents of Arizona’s new Immigration legislation, SB 1070, nation-wide, have argued that the bill is largely innocuous and merely mirrors existing Federal legislation.  I follow politics more than the average citizen, and I’ve actually worked in the field.  And before I even read SB 1070, my olfactory senses were experiencing discomfort.  There is a stench emanating from this bill.  If it merely mirrors Federal law, why pass it all?  If all it does is mirror Federal law, it would be like the City of Phoenix passing a law that says that the speed limit on I-10 shall be 65mph, or as posted, or until the State or Federal Government changes its laws regarding Interstate travel.

I firmly believe that the intent of any law can be surmised by getting a little familiar with the people who have written, funded, supported, and voted for it.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, better know by its misleading acronym FAIR, and one of its leading legal counselors, Kris Kobach, drove this legislation and provided the working draft for the law that was signed by Acting Governor Jan Brewer.

What is FAIR?  Well, if you’ve found this site, you can probably do an Internet search yourself.  But I can provide a preview.  They claim to be promoting Immigration reform, and they claim that they are not racist.  But these claims can be easily revealed as being deceptive.  Actually, it pretty clear that their claims of being race neutral are pure bull.  For many years, they accepted funding from a pro-eugenics organization called the Pioneer Fund, that is widely considered to be a Neo-Nazi organization.  The Southern Poverty Law Center considers FAIR a hate group.  They contend that all immigrants are a drain on our economy and our resources, despite the fact that that has been proven to be false time and time again, and they advocate capping annual immigration numbers at an arbitrary 300,000.  I could go on and on.

But what about Kris Kobach, the FAIR lawyer who actually wrote the initial draft of SB 1070?  Would it surprise you to learn that he is a frustrated politician who is presently running for public office in his home state of Kansas?  When he ran for Congress in 2004, he lost pretty badly.  Now he is trying is hand at a more obscure office, the Secretary of State of Kansas.

In the interim, Kobach served a two year term as the State Chairman of the Kansas Republican party.  His brief term was filled with controversy due to his far-right policies, divisive politics, and the establishment of what can be called a litmus-test for Republicans in Kansas.  Those Republicans who failed to toe his line were stripped of their voting rights regarding state party business.  He bragged that one of his most important accomplishments as Party Chair was having the voting rights of legally registered American voters revoked by using the ruse of voter caging.

Kobach has a clear legal record of supporting any kind of anti-immigrant legislation, no matter how mean spirited.  He has fought against employers who have been granted the legal right to hire undocumented workers, he has fought against schools that permit undocumented students, and he has even fought against landlords who rent to undocumented citizens.

This last one really shows me who this man is.  It’s one thing to argue that the police get involved, but Kris Kobach has argued, on more than one occasion, that landlords should be legally required to verify the citizenship status of the people to whom they rent property.  That’s a very slippery slope.  Who’s next?  Car dealerships?  AMTRAK?  Furniture stores?  The pharmacy?  Where does it end?  McDonald’s?

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 7:08 am  Leave a Comment  

THE R WORD

Last night, I was called the “r-word.”  A racist.  A charge, if proffered in a different context, I would find humorous.  I had posted, on the Yahoo boards, a plea for immigration reform and a brief explanation, saying that nearly every undocumented person in this country would be willing to sign up for legal residency if the legal system to do so was at least half way logical.  Accessible.  I further explained that it is in the public interest to “sign up” all the honest folks, who happen to be undocumented, because that will make it easier for law enforcement officials to isolate the truly criminal element that live among us and rid them from our presence.

And for that expression of thought, I was attacked.  I got the old standard Fox News lecture, “what part of ILLEGAL in illegal alien do you not understand.”  Por favor.  Letting Bill O’Reilly do your thinking for you is pretty pathetic.  I was told that I did not understand immigration and that I was a racist for favoring Mexicans over others.  Which is why I first laughed.  I know how the legal process works;  I have had to do it myself when I lived abroad, and I have helped others with their papers in order to gain legal entry into the US.  The “racist” accusation, however, is what truly disturbs me.  Not that he struck any chord.  I’m assuming this person thinks I’m Hispanic, a Mexican-American.  So, of course, in this person’s twisted mind, I only care about Mexicans.  That’s projecting.

And I’m seeing a lot of that nowadays.  Projecting, that is.  If you call somebody a racist for no reasonable cause, that probably means that you’re the racist.  Glenn Beck calling President Obama a racist is probably the most glaring example of racist projecting.

Worse, casually throwing around these epithets amounts to little more than school yard bullying, and it is destroying the public debate.  About immigration and many of issues that are important to this nation.

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 2:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Greetings

Given that this is my first post, I suppose I should say something about myself and the aim of this blog.

When I was young, I had a poster of John Kennedy and an Irish tri-colour on my walls.  My favorite baseball player was Roberto Clemente.  My favorite basketball player was Lew Alcindor.  Later to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  I cheered for Frazier when he fought Ali.  I guess I’m dating myself.

I like color, I like diversity.  My passport has many stamps, but not enough.  I can speak a half dozen languages pretty poorly.

I have lived and worked abroad.  And I hope to do so again in the future.

For personal reasons, I have found myself in the Sonoran Desert.  The Valley of the Sun.  There is much to like here, but there is also much to dislike.  Same as any place, I suppose.

When AZ SB1070 passed, and more importantly, when Acting Governor Brewer signed it, I was more than disturbed.  I was disappointed, upset, and even angry.

I spent about four days, surfing through the thousands of comments left on the Yahoo comments page on the topic, and honestly, as an American, I was embarrassed.  That so many Americans were proud of their prejudice and racism.  I probably posted over a hundred replies, mostly in an attempt to educate people as to whom authored the bill, who introduced it and why, and how it would effect the daily lives of those of us in Arizona.  I also posted some fairly snarky comments, only because All Politics Are Local, and I’m pretty good at it.  There are no heroes here.

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 4:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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