Friday, April 14, 2006

rethinking the immigration debate

previously I posted my praise of the immigrant protests and how much solidarity I believed there was between all classes of immigrants. Having talked to children and relatives of recent legal immigrants on Thursday, I can tell you that they are honestly upset with a easy amnesty program.

I learned about how many hoops would-be legal immigrants have to go through, the years of waiting. And if one little thing goes wrong, it can be decades before they let you back in (of course, the deport you). My friend Jeff, whose father is Pakistani, told me of a Jordanian friend of his who let his student visa lapse. Unlike the 9-11 hijakers, he was caught after he had married and fully immigrated into America. In fact, when he was deported to Jordan, the country didn't want him, so he had to move to Kuiwait, where he is a perminant second class citizen. His wife, a white woman with no language skills, cannot get a job in Kuwait and he can't get a good job because he is not Kuwaiti. So she has to fly out to the middle east to see her husband, and I believe they have a child.

Another 3L told me of a relative of his who cannot come back to America for 10-15 years because of some technicality (his family is from India I believe). Both were upset with the idea that just because some one snuck in over the boarder a couple years ago, they should get amnesty while their friends and relatives are banished from the US for decades. A woman who works for the US district court told us that the number one type of case they hear is illegal immigration.

There is no easy solution to this. On the one hand, we can all agree that illegals who commit crimes in the US have no business being in America. And we can all agree that granting a Reagan-style Amnesty to current illegal immigrants while letting the rest who were deported for silly reasons languish in places like Kuwait for 10-15 years when they have clear ties to US is ridiculous. On the other hand, these folks didn't immigrate to America illegally because they wanted to, it was because there weren't enough temporary visas. Most of these undocumented peoples work hard, go to church, pay someone elses taxes, send their kids to school and try to learn English and how to be an American.

We need to cut out the red tape to get in and get visas while doing a better job of doing background checks and monitoring of immigrants, especially if they come from countries with terrorist ties. My half Pakistani friend and my Indian (south asia) friend both agreed that we need more liberalized immigration, not to round up all the illegal Mexicans.

I just wonder how serious Bush and Frist really are about true immigration reform that both parties can agree on, besides that it needs to occur and they need to use it against the other party. After the recess, I think it won't come up again, and Bush and Frist will stick to their blame it on Reid plan. After all, it eventually worked against Daschle.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The second year, at dusk

As I sit in the downtown library enjoying the sun from the saftey of UV-blocking glass, I think back on the guantlet that was my 2L year. It is much better think about this stuff now before the grades come in, let alone think about the world outside with its daily car bombings and impending official war with Iran.

I learned more about the first amendment as a "high school teacher" than I did in my Con Law class. I learned more about Criminal Procedure, Tax Law, Constitutional law, etc. at my job than I did in any class I took. But nonetheless, I think the tuition was worth it to hear some of the great professors and to meet and get to know my future collegues, assuming we all get jobs.

School work was very taxing, especially this trial and journal work, as well as my student organization. But the nice thing is, I am 99% done with that.

Hopefully Bush doesn't think that bombing Iran is the wise thing to do or that it will improve his ratings, because neither is true. He has lied too much to be believable to the American public and bombing Iran will only make things worse.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

waking up to 21st century America

Until immigration was pushed to the forefront by President Bush in a last ditch effort to revitialize his ratings, many Americans were probabbly ignorant as to the extent of immigrants (illegal or legal) who have recently come into this county.

These massive protests proved that the First Amendment still works and that there are Americans who care a lot about this issue. Notice I said Americans. All of the protesters, illegal or not, consider themselves Americans and Mexicans, or Chinese or Purvians or whatever. What was also amazing for me was that while a few people showed up to protest the Iraq war, this turnout has been impressive for how widespread, how large, and how grassroots it was. This was not a bunch of Unions and immigrants rights members marching around, like the war protestors were mostly members of certain peace groups. Nor was this organized by partisan officials. Rather, this was something talked about on Spanish-speaking radio, flyers in mom-and-pop businesses & churches. This was the real deal.

I would imagine, contrary to what Rep. Tom Tancredo belives, that most of the protesters were legal immigrants. There is a lot of solidarity amoung immigrants, both illegal and legal, not because they are all from the same county or speak the same language, but because they are related through mutual friends, marriage, and they are all struggling to make it in strange land. Granted, they came here willingly and are overjoyed with the oportunties in America.

This is just what you want in an American, someone who believes in the American Dream. Those who marched against the war were mostly middle-to-upper class folks who had maxed out all of what America could do for them. They aren't hanging out next to the Home Depo hoping some Gringo will hire them as a day laborer under the table. They aren't using fake tax IDs to get a job picking vegatables. But that's who marched on Sunday and Monday against the Sensenbrenner bill.

In politics, like if life, decisions are made by those who show up. Will the hundreds of thousands who marched the last couple days show up to their polling place in November? If they are illegal, the answer is no. Will it encourage folks like Chinese-Americans, many of whom have lived in America for a long time and have sympathized and marched with Hispanics on April 9th and 10th, to vote this time? That is the $10,000 question.

Democrats have new reason to hope that is the case, as most who marched remembered only that Republicans are the ones that supported the Sensenbrenner bill, but Democrats shouldn't count on these votes putting them over the top. The GOPers should be nervous however. The counter protests by Minutemen groups have been pathetically small in comparison when they even occured.

Maybe there is a Nixonian "silent majority" wanting to criminalize undocumented workers and those who protect them, as well as a burning desire to deport them. But I bet they only exist in GOP primary voters and not the public at large.

Monday, April 10, 2006

bribed to vote

A fellow in Arizona by the name of Mark Osterloh, an Arizona physician and attorney, is proposing a state law via ballot initiative that would act as an incentive to increase voter turnout. The method: everyone who votes is automatically entered into a $1 Million lottery. Currently, more people buy lotto tickets than vote, hell more people vote for the next American Idol than the their next president. But really, I can think of a better way to increase turnout without costing the state a million dollars every 2 years.

At 62.3%, this month's Israeli elections were the lowest voter participation ever. In 2004, with billions spent to increase turnout and wide knowledge of the American Public at the importance and closeness of the election, the turnout was higher than it has been in many years. And after all that, the turnout only 55.3% in America. As Jon Stewart said the other night, the middle east should be bringing democracy to us.

So how does Israel and many other democracies get higher turnout rates? Well for one, election day is not a day people have to work. In Israel, it is a national holiday. In Europe, it is during the weekend. Israel and most of these European countries have a parlimentary system meaning that the ruling party can call for elections pretty much whenever they want. So Bush would have asked for a new election on September 12, 2001 and won in a landslide in March 2002 or so.

But our founding fathers didn't like that idea of being able to game the system and set up a perminant unmovable (except special elections) federal election day. For holiday purposes, this is much better for businesses, who will know when no work will get done and can plan accordingly.

Of course, if Election Day were a national holiday, Americans might do what some Iraelis are now doing, go on a vacation over Election Day. This is why early voting should still be a part of the solution, as well as making elections competitive so that people have a reason to vote (read: redistricting). In Iowa, turnout is much higher than California, in part because each vote actually counts in Congressional and Presidential elections.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Alberto Gonzales, Attorney at leak

I have a sneeking suspicion that this "knowledgable lawyer" AP refers to is none other than ex-WH counsel and current US AG Alberto Gonzales. He was neck-deep in all the crap that Bush pulled, whether it was the NSA illegal wiretapping, the "16 words" in the State of the Union or the continual hit job on Joe Wilson.

Here's how Gonzales tries to make things better for his boss:
President Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebut Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, be the one to disseminate the information, an attorney knowledgeable about the case said Saturday.

Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House. The vice president chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide, the lawyer said.

It is not known when the conversation between Bush and Cheney took place. The White House has declined to provide the date when the president used his authority to declassify the portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a classified document that detailed the intelligence community's conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Calling yourself just a lawyer when you are really much more than that is typical Bush Administration style. Remember when Scooter Libby was just a former House Staffer? While both titles are true, they tend to mislead and distort the nature of the source.

If it isn't Gonzales, than it is Harriet Myers, who was also up to her chin in Bush's lies. She was the one that did the PDB's pre-9/11, including the "bin Laden Determined to Attack US" one. She too was in the WH counsel's office justifying all kinds of illegal and dishonest activities with Alberto Gonzales. Both were supposed to be promoted for all the hard work they did being yes-men and women, instead of instructing their President that what he was doing was illegal or unethical. Al got the AG gig, and Harriet got a SCOTUS nomination. Both have been terrible lawyers, but Al went to Harvard Law, so he gets to keep lying at a higher level.