Archive for the 'Immigration' Category


On Second Thought, Keep Your Tired and Poor

In the two years that I’ve been writing this blog (that’s right, we’re coming up on the anniversary), my biggest surprise has been the frequency with which I discuss immigration. Certainly, I thought that it would be a major topic. It’s difficult to discuss contemporary Latino culture without at least addressing it.

But I figured I would create a few posts pointing out some basics, such as the following:

  • We demonize the undocumented
  • We hypocritically profit from their labor
  • We claim that race is not an issue
  • We latch on to simplistic answers

I figured after that, I would only touch upon the subject now and then. However, crazy news keeps popping up regarding our love-hate (or at times, hate-hate) relationship with immigration. This is perplexing in a nation that was founded by immigrants and their offspring.

For example, it’s recently come out that more than one hundred illegal immigrants have died in federal detention centers over the past six years. More amazing is the fact that, according to the New York Times, the people in charge of these facilities “used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media, or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.”

Basically, lots of noncitizens were being neglected, and perhaps even abused, in these centers. And the reaction of officials was to cover it up. I’m sure part of the reason for this hush-hush treatment is because immigrants are, you know, not really people.

This development comes at the same time that a recent report has assessed the economic impact of immigration reform. The report found that creating a pathway to legal status for the undocumented would pump $1.5 trillion into the economy over a decade. The report said that taking the opposite approach – that is, deporting everybody whose papers are not 100% in line – would cost the country $2.6 trillion over the same time frame.

Of course, we don’t make decisions based purely on dollar considerations (well, maybe Rupert Murdoch does). But these figures are a compelling argument.

Before we get to talk about citizenship and legality, however, perhaps we should make sure that people aren’t being killed in government-run institutions. Yes, that would be nice.


Wading into the Great Debate

I’ve avoided commenting on the healthcare controversy too much because, first, it’s a massively complex issue that would require several posts to do justice. And second, I have no desire to spend time purging my inbox of illiterate screeds that insist I’m a socialist under Obama’s evil spell.

However, I do have to make a few points about the legislation that Congress is considering. Because my focus is on Hispanic culture, let me throw some information about Latinos’ healthcare at you.

Hispanics are younger than the general population, and therefore enjoy the health benefits that come with youth. Also, when compared to white people, we tend to have healthier hearts (yes, despite our infamous hot tempers) and are less likely to suffer a stroke.

However, these pluses must be balanced against the fact that we tend to be fatter, have a greater risk for diabetes, and are less likely to be fully immunized when compared to the majority culture.

Most interesting is that Latinos are the group most likely to be uninsured. A stunning 40 percent of Hispanics don’t have insurance, which no doubt accounts for a large chunk of the overall uninsured rate of 16 percent.

Of course, one reason for that is because the current system makes it difficult for immigrants to get insurance. And since we’re on that subject…

It’s telling that despite all the problems, controversies, conspiracy theories, and whacked-out distractions that accompany the healthcare debate, only one concept provoked a U.S. congressman to shatter decades of political etiquette and indulge in a childish outburst. You no doubt remember this magical moment:

What got Congressman Wilson so up in arms was Obama’s statement that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his plan. Now, it’s one thing to shout insults at the president on live television. It takes even more cojones when you’re wrong.

In fact, illegal immigrants are not covered under any public option. Nor would they be provided with vouchers to help them pay for insurance. The Senate version of the bill even prevents them from buying insurance on public exchanges.

So it seems pretty clear that they’re not covered, right? Well, what has Wilson supporters screaming that their man was right is that the House version of the bill does not specifically bar illegal immigrants from buying insurance with their own money at full cost.

Regardless of political ideology, it strains logic to say that this provision means that taxpayers will have to pay for illegal immigrants’ healthcare. Actually, it seems to me that it would be the other way around, in that illegal immigrants would pay full price and help lower the costs for everyone. But I’m not an economist, much less a right-wing one.

The only way to appease the nativist crowd is if illegal immigrants are not allowed to buy anything in this country with their own money. Their cash,incidentally, is usually earned by repairing your roof, picking your vegetables, and raising your kids. But that’s another story.

By the way, one late amendment would send the bill for illegal immigrants’ healthcare to their countries of origin, which is at least a creative (albeit farfetched) approach. I’m sure, however, that this idea will go nowhere.

In any case, we can have a legitimate discussion about how much all this costs, and if it’s the best way to address the problem, and how to address the healthcare of non-citizens. But we’re not having that discussion, because too many people are busy shouting “Communist!” and accusing Obama of setting up death panels while dishing out free healthcare to illegal immigrants.

In a decade or so, after all this is sorted out and the United States has some kind of public healthcare, we’ll be stumped over what all the screaming was about. That’s my hope, anyway.


Trick or Threat

First thing this morning, I noticed this intimidating fellow staring at me from my computer screen:


Of course, it’s the infamous “illegal alien” costume that got many immigrant-rights groups up in arms. For those who didn’t get enough of the strained attempt at humor, there’s also this version:


Yes, they’re undeniably offensive, and Hispanic groups are correct to call out the merchants on selling them. I doubt anything similarly offensive to Africa Americans would pass the gatekeepers at Target, Walgreens, or Amazon, all of whom briefly sold the items.

Still, let’s leave the backlash over the costumes at a firm but diplomatic rebuke. The costume makers were clearly attempting a play on words rather than making an outright derogatory political statement. And those words, “illegal alien,” actually went out around the time that Genesis recorded that cheesy song (what was that all about, by the way?). These days, “illegal immigrant” is used more often, or “undocumented worker” if you prefer to be sensitive, or any number of racial slurs if you prefer not to be.

In fact, getting apocalyptic about such things only gives ammunition to minutemen wannabes. Those are the guys who scream about everybody being hypersensitive and that freedom of speech is being suppressed and that, while we’re at it, nobody speaks English anymore. Let them look foolish, rather than indulging in an argument over something so trivial.

In fact, we can consider this a brief skirmish that’s already been won. Merchants have realized that it’s unwise to needlessly piss off potential customers just to appeal to a bunch of xenophobic frat boys. Perhaps this is another example of the growing power of Latinos to exercise some economic and political muscle. And maybe it shows that the establishment is ready to acknowledge that Hispanics are, you know, human beings, more or less.

With that settled, let’s put the controversy behind us and try to recapture the spirit of Halloween. Let’s stick with outfits that are completely appropriate for the holiday and that we can all agree form the basis of good wholesome fun.

That’s right – slutty nurse costumes for everybody!


Is that a Busted Taillight You Got There, Son?

Let me shout out “thanks” to Pipil DC and Christina for their comments on my last post.

Here’s another quick article about a news story you have missed. It seems that in Arizona, the “Toughest Sheriff in America” has overstepped his bounds.

The man with this unimaginative nickname (one that seems self-generated) is Joe Arpaio, who is the law in Maricopa County – and don’t you forget it. The sheriff has earned some attention for himself by going after illegal immigrants.

Arpaio had been working with the Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration laws. Unfortunately, it seems that the sheriff wasn’t just detaining illegals. He was allegedly rounding up Latinos in general. As such, Homeland Security is trying to limit his power to arrest people for the crime of being brown.

The sheriff denies that he’s profiling. He says, “We do not go on street corners and grab people that look like they’re from another country.”

But the ACLU counters that “He’s unconstitutionally acted to racially profile many persons in the community, persons who appear or are Latino” so that he can “appeal to his anti-immigration base.”

Now, we all know (because I’ve heard it on talk radio) that the ACLU won’t rest until illegal immigrants are given the keys to our houses and allowed to sleep with our wives. So maybe the sheriff is just being hounded by liberal atheist flag-burners?

But then there is the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian group that has denounced the sheriff’s actions and said that his department “falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission.” The Goldwater Institute, not exactly known for being a hangout for hippies, says that Arpaio has “diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration.”

It’s at times like this that I’m grateful for old-school conservatives, who are still likely to get peeved when civil liberties are trampled. Social conservatives and neocons, of course, are different, in that they are first people to dismiss Constitutional rights as too cumbersome for our modern world. The contradiction between these definitions of “conservative” is far too complicated and depressing to address in this post.

Suffice to say, when you’re in Arizona, keep an eye out for Sheriff Joe. He may be arresting people based on the color of their skin. He may be ignoring real crime and sidestepping the law. And he may be shirking his duty in order to get cozy with xenophobic nuts.

But he’s a tough guy, you know.



Is 2010 OK for You?

As we know, President Obama has announced that immigration reform will have to take its place in line behind a sputtering economy and a faltering war.

At the risk of showing off, or lapsing into complete egomania, I will now quote myself. Months ago, I wrote that, in the near future “not much will come of the new president’s apparently sincere desire to make this country a better place for immigrants. There simply isn’t the bandwidth.”

I would like to think that this means that I am smarter, or at the very least, display psychic abilities. In truth, it just means that I made an educated lucky guess, or I’m just more cynical than other commentators.

But let’s not beat up on the president too much over his reprioritization. He still has three years in which to help right-wingers morph into irrational fear mongers with bulging carotid arteries who lash out at anyone who disagrees with them. Of course, when immigration reform happens, it will make the healthcare melee look like a junior high debate.



Perhaps We Could Start Screaming at a Town Hall Meeting?

Once more, here’s a short post to keep you up to date while I pack furiously for my move to California.

My friends at TC Daily (which carries my posts) had an interesting article about the continuing healthcare crisis among Latinos.

We all know that Hispanics are far more likely to get diabetes. But genetic predispositions are only part of the story. According to the article, Latinos have less access to healthcare in general (and certainly less than the old white people losing their minds about the “socialized medicine” boogeyman). As such, we’re looking at a major public-health disaster down the line.

Granted, the article is more about immigrants than Hispanics in general (and as we all know, the groups are not synonymous). However, its conclusion, which is that “society will have a high price to pay if access to medical and behavioral health care isn’t provided to immigrants regardless of their resident status,” is timely… and more than a little scary.



Now We Can Move on to the Tough Issues

I’m going with another brief update today. But it’s good news. With all the chaos about the economy and healthcare dominating the news, you may have missed this little morsel: Apparently, the whole debate over immigration is over.

According to “Newsweek,” a study has proven that immigrants, even illegal ones, add more to the economy than they take.

According to the study, done by the right-leaning Cato Institute, “The net impact on U.S. households from tighter border enforcement is unambiguously negative.” The article says that “even low-skilled immigrants expand the economic pie and create jobs farther up the ladder.” In fact, the Cato Institute says that tightening the border could cost America up to $250 billion.

So that’s settled….

Except, why do I have this nagging suspicion that the argument isn’t over?

immigration protest

August 2019
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