Mike Kueber's Blog

June 20, 2012

The myth of the monolithic minorities in America

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:48 am
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The media tends to treat minorities like a monolithic group.  This treatment is an obvious vestige of the older members of the media, who came of age in the 60s when the term minority was often used as an equivalent to the Negro population.  In recent years, however, the tidal wave of immigrants from Mexico, legal and illegal, forced the media to recognize Hispanics as a significant force under the Minority umbrella.  But even then the recognition was muted – e.g., witness the minimal fanfare a few years ago when Hispanics actually outnumbered African-Americans.

An article in today’s San Antonio Express-News reveals a new trend that further reduces African-American dominance of the Minority agenda.    According to the article, more Asians are immigrating to America than Hispanics, primarily because legal immigration since 1990 has favored educated or wealthy individuals (i.e., many Asians) as opposed to uneducated or poor individuals (i.e., many Hispanics).  Furthermore, net immigration from Mexico has virtually stopped because of America’s weak economy.

This suggests that the percentage of Asian-Americans (currently 5%) will increase vis-à-vis that of Hispanic-Americans (16%) and African-Americans (13%).  This portends well for the Republican Party because Asian-Americans are much more likely to vote Republican than are African-Americans, and they are even significantly more likely to align with conservative principles than are Hispanic-Americans. 

This split of allegiance is natural when you consider that the government has a history of acting affirmatively to help African-American and Hispanic-American groups, while Asian-Americans have often been considered over-weighted in areas of accomplishment and thereby discriminated against.

Coincidentally, Time magazine did a cover story this week on the plight of DREAMERS (children brought to America illegally by their parents), and their cover boy was not Hispanic, but rather an Asian, Filipino Jose Antonio Vargas.  Unfortunately, the article, which is excellent, is available only to on-line subscribers.  It describes the tortuous route to citizenship or even temporary legal residency in America.  Vargas reminds his readers that, although 60% of illegal immigrants are from Mexico, the remainder aren’t.  About 8% of the 11.5 million are from Asia. 

Ironically, I know Filipinos who have been waiting patiently in the legal-immigration line in the Philippines longer than the cover boy has been in America illegally.  Vargas reports in his article that, because Green Cards are limited to 50,000 per country per year, there is a long waiting list in countries like Mexico, India, and the Philippines.  In fact, Filipino siblings who applied in January 1989 are currently being considered.     

In light of those facts, something about Vargas’s newly legal status doesn’t seem right.

 

 

 

April 27, 2012

An open letter to the Washington Post’s columnist Eugene Robinson

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:49 pm
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Thank you for your recent column on immigration reform.   In the column you suggest that now is the perfect time for Congress to finally resolve our seemingly insoluble illegal-immigration problem. 

Why now?  Because of the Pew Hispanic Center report earlier this week that stated more Mexicans moved out of America than moved in between 2005 and 2010.  Based on this report you glean several unjustified conclusions:

  • You conclude that the “crisis,” if there ever was one, is over.  That assumes that the crisis was the rising numbers of illegal immigrants.  I suggest that the actual crisis is the 11 million illegal immigrants in America (60% from Mexico).  That number hasn’t changed in a significant way, even though Romney’s concept of self-deportation, which many scoffed at, is proving to be valid.
  • You contend that illegal immigrants “don’t come here to laze around and enjoy government benefits because, well, what benefits would those be?”  That statement must be a rhetorical device because I can’t believe that you really don’t know of any government benefits that illegal immigrants receive.  Just to humor you, let me list a few.  At the top of the list, birthright citizenship to any of their kids born in this country.  Some call these kids anchor babies; others use the term gateway drug because illegal immigrants can collect a plethora of government benefits (like food stamps) on behalf of their birthright babies.  Also at the top of the list is a free public education through high school.  The state of Texas tried to deny this benefit many years ago and was slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which was afraid of creating a permanent underclass in America, but was not so afraid of creating a permanent, growing undocumented class.  Another benefit provided to illegal immigrants is medical care in our government-run hospitals and clinics, plus emergency care in all other hospitals and clinics.  One might argue that the best government benefit afforded to illegal immigrants is law & order.     
  • You complain about “Arizona’s ‘driving while brown’ law, which instructs police to challenge and, if necessary, apprehend anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. The law forbids racial profiling, but the truth is that it effectively guarantees profiling.”  Can you imagine any other country where the police are not expected to arrest someone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant?  I can’t think of a better example of living in an ivory tower.
  • You warn that Obama will be hard to beat this fall unless Republicans start catering to the Hispanic special interest the way the Democrats already cater to the African-American special interest.  Of course, in doing that the Republican Party would be deviating from its principle of trying to represent all America, as opposed to the Democratic Party “principle” of catering to a motley assortment of special interests (trial lawyers, minorities, feminists, unions, and socialists).  Even from a practical perspective, however, your suggestion doesn’t make sense because, I’m sure you know, recent studies have found that the number of registered Hispanic voters has dropped precipitously since the last presidential election.

At the end of your column, you finally let the cat out of the bag regarding what Democratic intentions have been all along:

  • We need a Reagan-style amnesty that would allow the great majority of undocumented immigrants to stay.

Just because Reagan did something doesn’t make it right.  He would be the first to say that we aren’t stuck on stupid.  The answer isn’t amnesty because that would reward bad behavior and encourage future bad behavior.  The answer remains the elimination of sanctuaries in America, along with the adoption of a broadened DREAM Act that would apply to all long-term residents, not just kids who go to school or the Service.

Sincerely,

Mike Kueber – San Antonio, TX

February 2, 2012

Self-deportation

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:10 am
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The NY Times today included an op-ed piece arguing against what it called do-it-yourself deportation, or what Mitt Romney called self-deportation in the presidential debates.  The piece was written (in Spanish) by a NYC high school student lamenting the fact that self-deportation was occurring and that it was splitting up families.  His solution is the DREAM Act, which would allow him to become a citizen, and possibly even allow him to bring his family back.

Unfortunately, both the DREAM Act and self-deportation have been politicized, which tends to prevent them from being considered rationally.  Opponents of the DREAM Act worry that it encourages law-breaking, especially if chain-migration is allowed (DREAM kids sponsoring their families).  Opponents of self-deportation claim that it is inhumane to make life in America so difficult for illegal immigrants that they want to leave the country.

Mitt Romney has staked out a compromise position vis-à-vis the DREAM Act.  He has endorsed it, but with the caveat that it be extended only to those kids who enter the military.  That seems like a reasonable compromise, with the minor incongruity that Romney never served, although he did two years of Mormon missionary service in France.

Romney’s position on self-deportation is similarly sound.  Newt Gingrich will cavil that it won’t be effective against grandparents with roots in this country, but that isn’t Romney’s objective.  Romney isn’t anti-immigrant.  He simply wants to return America to a rule of law, and providing sanctuary along with many benefits of citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants is contrary to the rule of law.

November 3, 2011

The DREAM Act and Texas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 3:16 pm
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Texas is supposedly on the front-lines of the war against illegal immigration, but sometimes it appears that the state wants to desert the war and claim conscientious-objector status.  The best example of this pacifist streak is the 2001 legislation that afforded in-state college tuition to the state’s illegal immigrants.  The legislation, which was passed almost unanimously, was signed into law by Rick Perry, but was really part of the legacy of the state’s compassionate conservative, George W. Bush, who was taking to Washington his message of education and “comprehensive immigration reform” – i.e., a path to citizenship.

Perry had no reason to oppose the legislation, and he went along with it, not knowing that this noncontroversial position would, more than any other position, torpedo his presidential campaign in 2011.  By 2011, the Republican electorate had decided that any compassion toward illegal immigrants was equivalent to giving aid & comfort to the enemy.

For example, at a congressional candidate forum in Del Rio in 2010, the candidates were asked to give a “yes” or “no” response to a one-word question – amnesty?  All of the candidates except me quickly said “no.”  I was booed when I asked the questioner to define amnesty.

Later in 2010, the federal DREAM Act almost passed, and the swing vote seemed to belong to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.  Although Hutchison was one of the Republican Party’s most moderate senators, she was in the process of retiring from the Senate to run against Rick Perry for Texas governor and her positions were tacking strongly to the right.  She eventually opposed the DREAM Act and it died.

You can imagine everyone’s surprise a few months later, during the Republican presidential debates, to learn that Texas had passed its own so-called DREAM Act in 2001, Rich Perry has signed it, and, most surprising of all, he continued to champion it on national TV.  (I guess he would rather be stubbornly wrong that be guilty of changing his mind – i.e., flip-flopping.)

For the past few weeks, during countless interviews and debates, Perry has consistently defended the Texas DREAM Act.  In one debate, he even went so far as to call opponents of the Texas DREAM Act as “heartless.”  But Perry has never been asked to explain how he can support the Texas DREAM Act at the same time that he is opposing the federal DREAM Act.  This is especially incongruous when Perry says that the Texas DREAM Act is directed at those illegal immigrants who want to become citizens, but then he opposes the passage of a federal law that would allow them to become citizens.  You can’t have it both ways.

An article in today’s San Antonio Express-News reported on a local girl who is the so-called “poster child” for the federal DREAM Act.   According to the article, immigration officials have decided to drop the deportation case against this young woman, based on new Obama guidelines for focusing department resources on the deportation of bad illegal immigrants, not good ones.  Not surprisingly, most of the reader comments were outraged at Obama’s decision to create a back-door to amnesty and wondered how this individual would manage in a country where she would not be able to legally secure a legitimate job.

An article in the Texas Tribune earlier this week revealed that, although the Texas version of the DREAM Act passed almost without objection in 2001, the law is no longer popular.  (I wonder if Perry knew this.)  According to a Tribune survey on whether in-state tuition should be provided to illegal immigrants, 28% said yes, 55% said no, and 17% said they didn’t know.  Not surprisingly, the leading contender to be our next governor, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, has said that if he were governor in 2001, he would not have signed the bill.

The Texas Tribune survey also asked Texans what they thought of the federal DREAM Act – i.e., a path to citizenship for those illegal immigrants who go to college or enlist in the military.  Although the majority of Texans oppose the federal DREAM Act, they are less opposed to the federal DREAM Act than they are too the Texas DREAM Act.  Slightly more than half — 51 percent — oppose the policy, including 36 percent who strongly oppose it.  Another 39 percent favor the proposal, 19 percent of them strongly.

Although Mitt Romney is being damaged by charges of flip-flopping, a subjective partisan criticism, Perry is guilty of more serious defects – irreconcilable positions and an unwillingness to reconsider his positions despite significantly changed circumstances.  I’m sticking with Romney.

August 19, 2011

The DREAM policy

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:23 pm
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According to an article in the NY Times yesterday, President Obama has decided to unilaterally enact the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act).    Although Congress should have enacted the DREAM Act last year, it declined to do so, and I think it is improper, if not illegal, for the Obama administration to decline to enforce an immigration law that it doesn’t like.

The administration is justifying its decision as exercising “prosecutorial discretion to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws.”  While criminals should certainly receive the highest priority, I’m not sure what is meant by flagrantly violating immigration laws.  When the DREAM Act was being considered last year, several protesters loudly declared in various politicians’ offices that they were in America illegally.  I don’t know how you can be more flagrant than that.

Furthermore, the assertion of inadequate resources to deport non-criminal aliens doesn’t ring true when you consider that we are talking about illegal immigrants who have already been identified and that the Obama administration now promises a case-by-case review of 300,000 people in deportation proceedings to determine if they pose a threat to national security or public safety.  Wouldn’t it take fewer resources to simply decide if they were here illegally, and, if so, deport them?

The NY Time article reported that one of the beneficiaries of this new policy reacted to the change in policy “with a mix of hope, excitement and suspicion that it was all about the next election.”  You think politics figured in this?

Most beneficiaries expressed concern that they will remain unable to get a real job or attend graduate school because of their illegal status.  But according to Homeland Security officials, “Those who qualify for relief can apply to permission to work in the United States and probably will receive it.”

San Antonio congressman Lamar Smith has characterized this new policy as “backdoor amnesty” and reminds administration officials that they should remember their oath to uphold the laws of the United States.  I suspect we will hear more from Congressman Smith on this.

June 25, 2011

Immigration and the State Bar of Texas

Earlier this week, I attended the two-day annual meeting of the State Bar of Texas.  One of the more promising sessions was titled, “A Civil Conversation about Immigration Reform,” and it did not disappoint.  The 90-minute session was the longest that I attended during the meeting,  but it seemed like the shortest.

The topic of immigration was touched on in an earlier session called, “Overview of the 82nd Legislative Session,” presented by State Representative Joaquin Castro.  Although Castro has the demeanor of a rational, dispassionate analyst, his words belie that.  He described the pending sanctuary-city bill (S.B. 9) as enabling a citizen to sue his local police department if it fails to enforce the federal immigration laws.  Arizona’s notorious H.B. 1070 doesn’t even go that far.  In fact, Texas’s S.B. 6 merely prohibits local government entities from adopting sanctuary policies – i.e., instructing their law enforcement officers to not ask anyone about their immigration status.  Because Castro did not take questions, his misstatement of the law went uncorrected.  Before leaving the session, Castro reported that two prominent Texas businessmen (liberal San Antonio grocer HE Butt and conservative Houston construction magnate Bob Perry) recently came out in opposition to S.B. 6 and this development might result in the bill being significantly watered-down.

Joaquin’s identical twin Julian, the mayor of San Antonio, was a part of the six-member panel for “A Civil Conversation about Immigration Reform.”  Unfortunately, there was not much conversation with Julian because he was the last of the panel to give 10 minute presentation, and then he left, leaving the other panel members to engage in a conversation with the audience.

Two things of note presented by Julian:

  1. People who opposed illegal immigration tended to treat these immigrants “more like animals than people.”
  2. We should start thinking of a path to citizenship as not some sort of amnesty, but rather as analogous to the legal concept of deferred adjudication.  Application of this concept would involve the imposition of some terms, and once those terms were satisfied, the immigrant’s  unauthorized entry would be forgiven.  Personally, I think this is a distinction without a difference, but I have to admit that I initially felt the same way when the New York Times recommended that we re-characterize the Death Tax from being a tax on an estate (double taxation) to being a tax on the income of a recipient.  Eventually I came to agree with the Times recommendation.

Julian’s suggestion for deferred adjudication has the same weakness as amnesty – i.e., it rewards an individual for breaking the law; it allows a lawbreaker to stay in America although millions of potential immigrants are patiently waiting in line to be legally permitted into America.

Julian would be better served if he were to apply the legal concept of adverse possession (squatter’s rights) – i.e., title to real property can be obtained without compensation by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owner’s rights for a specified period.  Thus, America can be held to have waived its right to deport an undocumented immigrant who has lived in America and set down roots for a specified period (e.g., five to ten years).

In contrast to Julian, the other members of the panel provided substantive information on the illegal-immigration issue.  Dr. Steven Murdock from Rice University provided a plethora of statistical information suggesting that immigrants were critical to the economic future of Texas and America.  As is the wont of most immigration proponents, Dr. Murdock sometimes failed to distinguish between legal immigration and illegal immigration, but generally he provided cogent information.  The most interesting was his report that illegal immigrants are a slight financial positive to the federal government (they send more money in than they take out), a break-even factor for state government, and a huge negative for local government because of their drain for education and medical expenses.

Kathleen Walker is an immigration lawyer, and the dominant theme of her talk was to complain that illegal immigration is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, and these people should not be treated like criminals.  Toward the end of her talk, Kathleen confused this distinction by telling us that it was incorrect to say the people were here illegally, but it was proper to say that their presence was unlawful.

An anti-terrorist government lawyer followed Kathleen.  He was the only panelist who was opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants, and he chided the panel for all of their semantical variations in describing – illegal immigrants, undocumented aliens, unauthorized immigrants, unlawful presence, and about four other similar terms.  He also asserted that it is impossible for the federal government to physically close our borders, but that a pending bi-partisan bill for a national ID card might be effective.  From an anti-terrorist perspective, he said that the Canadian border was much more problematic than the Mexican border.

The government lawyer was followed by an AFL-CIO person from Houston.  He contributed little to the discussion other than noting that businesses were taking advantage of illegal immigrants and that “theft of salary” charges were seldom prosecuted.

According to the program, one member of the panel was a DREAM candidate, but it turned out she was a mother of three DREAM  candidates.  She could barely speak English and broke down shortly after beginning her talk.

The moderator for the panel was federal judge Xavier Rodriguez.  At the conclusion of the presentation, he revealed that he hadn’t been listening by asking the panel a long question regarding whether illegal immigrants were a net financial benefit or expense to various governmental entities.  Everyone who was listening knew that Dr. Murdock had definitively provided this information in his presentation, and to humor the judge he regurgitated it.

During the Q&A part of the session, the first comment came from a quintessential bleeding heart.  She started by saying that she was not a  lawyer (her squirming husband was alongside her), but she felt compelled to describe the shame she felt as a person who was taking advantage of illegal immigrants by living in a house that was likely build by those immigrants who received substandard pay and eating in restaurants that likely employed illegal immigrants for substandard pay.  After two long minutes of her confession, Judge Rodriguez cut her off and tried to  assuage her guilt by saying that these immigrants were making five times as much as they would make back in Mexico, so she shouldn’t feel so bad.  She refused to be assuaged.

In response to another question, Dr. Murdock got on a soapbox about America’s shameful immigration record.  According to him, America’s immigration policy was horribly racist until the Voting Rights Act of the mid-60s, and he said that it had never been welcoming to immigrants, such as the Chinese or even Irish or Italians.  At this point, I asked him why an “unwelcoming” America, throughout its history, has a record of receiving more immigrants than any other country and whether the “huddled masses” invitation on the Statue of Liberty was a cruel hoax.  Murdock responded by backing off his accusations and shifting toward a position that America has made mistakes and can improve.  Agreed.

What was the result of the “civil conversation”?  I learned some information, but there wasn’t enough discussion – either within the panel or with the audience – to evaluate the information.  I pointed out during the Q&A part of the session that it wasn’t fair to give amnesty to illegal  immigrants while I have a friend in the Philippines with a graduate education who has been on a waiting list for ten years, and a lady responded that we shouldn’t complicate the issues by tying them together.  As a practical matter, that may be right.

November 30, 2010

The DREAM Act is heating up

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:05 pm
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The DREAM Act is heating up in San Antonio.  Yesterday, fifteen sit-in protesters were arrested at the local office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, according to the San Antonio Express-News –    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/police_respond_to_dream_act_rally_111008674.html.  I found several interesting aspects to the story: 

  1. Maria Berriozabel.  One of the arrestees – Maria Berriozabel – is a former San Antonio City Councilperson.  Leading up to the sit-in, most of the arrestees have been engaging in a 20-day food strike, but Berriozabel confessed to the media that she didn’t have the “courage” to join in the strike.  Since when does a food strike take courage?  Discipline – yes; commitment – yes.  Unless Berriozabel has undisclosed health issues, she comes off as an attention-seeking dilettante.   
  2. Scofflaw.  One of the protesters is a self-proclaimed illegal immigrant.  While I respect her willingness to take a stand based on principle, I believe the federal government (Obama) has obligation to stand up for principle, too.  Enforce our immigration law.  Don’t tell us you are too busy to deport someone who is openly daring you to enforce the law of the land.
  3. Hutchison’s opposition.  The protesters are focused on Kay Bailey Hutchison because she has waivered on her DREAM Act position and is considered a swing vote.  According to a press release from the senator, “Senator Hutchison has been consistent and clear about her position against the current DREAM Act legislation, particularly her concern that the current bill goes far beyond the intended group of children who grew up in the U.S. and attended primary and secondary schools here.”  What is clear and concise about that?  I look on her website for a clarification, but found nothing there.  I surfed the internet and found only evasive vagueness.  Only when I read comments from readers of the E-N article did I notice a significant issue that Hutchison might be referring to.  The readers are concerned that U.S. immigration law currently allows citizens to sponsor relatives for citizenship (e.g., anchor babies).  Thus, by bestowing citizenship on all of these students, we will eventually be bestowing it on their extended families.  That fact militates against one of the principle rationales for the DREAM Act – i.e., the children shouldn’t be made to pay for the sins of their smuggling parents.  Well, the DREAM Act would not only absolve the kids of any sin, it would ultimately inure to the benefit of the lawbreakers.  That doesn’t make sense.          

November 18, 2010

In-state tuition for illegal immigrants – new developments

California is one of a dozen states, including Texas, that charges in-state tuition to students who are illegal immigrants and out-of-state tuition to students who grew up in other states.  Yet there is a federal law that prohibits giving illegal immigrants educational benefits based on residency.  Once you get by the states-rights issue, you might wonder how those dozen states do that.  

In America, where armies of lawyers figure out ways to avoid the spirit of a law, twelve states have enacted laws that charge in-state tuition to anyone who attended high school in the state.  These laws ingeniously enable most illegal immigrants in those twelve states to qualify for in-state tuition.  Several out-of-state students in California were upset at having to pay more than $33,000 in annual tuition instead of the $10,000 in-state tuition, and they sued California for violating federal law.  Although the students prevailed in a lower court, the California Supreme Court earlier this week ruled unanimously that the California law-avoidance scheme was fine.  The students say they will appeal and the United States Supreme Court will get the last word on this matter.

As I mentioned above, Texas has a law similar to California’s, but the Republican electoral landslide has generated a lot of interest in repealing it.  Just this week, the Texas A&M student senate went on record as favoring the repeal, but the student body president vetoed the senate’s action, claiming that the senate had no business opining on the subject.  (Sounds like the San Antonio City Counsel opining on the AZ illegal-immigration law.)  Earlier today the student body president’s veto was upheld, according to the Texas Tribune.  http://www.texastribune.org/texas-education/higher-education/am-students-vote-state-tuition-for-immigrants.  There was even a lengthy report on Fox News.

We obviously need to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with immigration.  The partisan stalemate reminds me of America’s tax-and-spend policies – i.e., one party insists on keeping high spending and the other party insists on keeping taxes low.  Well, that is dysfunctional.  We have the same problem with immigration – i.e., one party wants to banish all illegal immigrants and the other party wants to treat them like respected guests who are welcome to stay.  I think there needs to be some sort of compromise like the DREAM Act, but only if other forms of sanctuary in this country are eliminated.  For example, there are only two states (Georgia and South Carolina) that limit the enrollment of illegal immigrants in their colleges, and the United States Supreme Court has required that all states enroll them in elementary and secondary schools. 

We will never control our border if sanctuaries are allowed to flourish.

November 1, 2010

Further news on the status of illegal immigrants in America

Recent reports from Georgia describe a new admission policy adopted by the state’s Board of Regents.  The new policy prohibits illegal immigrants from enrolling at selective George colleges – i.e., those that don’t have the capacity to enroll all qualified, legal residents of Georgia.  Currently the state has 27 illegal immigrants enrolled in five such colleges.  This new policy suggests a couple of related issues: 

  1. It’s amazing how illegal immigrants are able to flourish openly in America.  What other country would know precisely how many illegal immigrants are attending which colleges and do nothing about it?  If Houston is a sanctuary city, then America is a sanctuary country.
  2. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a state violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution if it refuses to provide a primary education to illegal immigrants.  Plyler v. Doe, 1982.  I wonder if someone will argue that the same principle applies to a college education in Georgia.

The GA Board of Regents policy does not affect the 474 illegal immigrants enrolled in Georgia colleges that are able to enroll all qualified, legal residents of Georgia, but some lawmakers are suggesting that the ban should be extended to all illegal immigrants. 

Georgia law, like that in three others states, requires illegal immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition, whereas the law in ten other states authorizes illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain conditions, such as living in the state for a specified period  of time and graduating from a high school in the state.  Sounds like the state version of the federal DREAM Act.

What is the position of Texas colleges vis-à-vis illegal immigrants?  Surprisingly, Texas is one of the ten states with liberal in-state tuition laws.  In 2001, Texas passed a law that enables illegal immigrants to be pay in-state tuition and received financial aid.  Illegal immigrants even take up spaces at the state’s exclusive colleges – 569 at UT-Austin and 304 at Texas A&M.  Approximately 1% of Texas’ public college students (@10,000 out of 1,000,000 total qualify under this law. 

It must be a sign of the times that a Texas law that prohibited illegal immigrants from attending primary and secondary schools led to the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision – Plyler v. Doe – that required states to provide free public education to illegal immigrants.  Then, 20 years later, Texas became one of the most liberal states in granting enrollment privileges and financial aid to illegal immigrants who, in turn, were squeezing qualified, legal residents of Texas from spaces at UT-Austin and Texas A&M.  Maybe the Texas legislature is a bit schizophrenic.

July 2, 2010

Obama’s grand compromise on “comprehensive immigration reform”

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:46 am
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Earlier today, President Obama gave a speech on illegal immigration.  Unfortunately, he squandered his chance to present a realistic compromise and instead he chose to posture and pander to his political base. 

According to Obama, the current debate had become polarized between two ideologically extreme positions.  Regarding the extreme position on the left (blanket amnesty), he recognized “the sense of compassion that drives this argument,” but suggested that amensty would be unfair to the millions of people in other countries who are going through legal channels to immigrate.  Also, it would encourage more illegal immigration.  Regarding the extreme position on the right (effect the return of illegal immigrants to their home country), he said nothing about the good intentions of its proponents, but did say it would be “logistically impossible and wildly expensive.  Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation.”

After setting up these two conflicting positions, Obama proposed to serve as the honest broker by saying, “Now, once we get past the two poles of this debate, it becomes possible to shape a practical, common-sense approach that reflects our heritage and our values.”  (I don’t know about you, but at this point in the speech, I think the people on the right would be justified in questioning the bona fides of this honest broker.)  Obama’s practical, common-sense solution was to provide a path to citizenship to virtually all illegal immigrants if they would pay a fine and learn English (Obamnesty).  That is not exactly splitting the difference between the left and right.

The other elements of Obama’s comprehensive immigration reform are:

  • Speed-up and streamline the application process for legal immigration;
  • Expand the program for giving farm workers visas and a path to citizenship;
  • Pass the DREAM Act, which grants citizenship to children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military;
  • Continue to work on securing our border; and
  • Continue to work on punishing employers who deliberately hire illegal immigrants.

Obama’s grand compromise gives those on the left almost everything they want – i.e., it legalizes the currently illegal immigrants and revises the process so that almost anyone can legally immigrate to the U.S. in the future.  In a perverse way, this actually responds to the criticism that amnesty is unfair to those already waiting in line and will encourage further illegal immigration because, under Obama’s grand compromise, those waiting in line will be expeditiously admitted, as will anyone in the future who wants in. 

Essentially, the U.S. will be waiving the right to decide how many immigrants will be allowed into our country.  For the past century, we have wanted to control that number, primarily because we didn’t think our country could assimilate unlimited numbers, nor could our economy absorb unlimited numbers.  I wonder if Obama has lost sight of that.       

If Mike Kueber were the honest broker, his comprehensive reform not only would include better securing of our border and more punishment for employers of illegal immigrants, but also would include preventing illegal immigrants from receiving public education or buying/renting a house/apartment.  It would support Obama’s proposal for a streamlined application process and an expanded worker visa, and would go beyond the DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship for all illegal immigrants to have been productive in the U.S. for at least ten years.  And finally, it would end birthright citizenship (anchor babies). 

Obama summarized the illegal-immigration problem as follows – “In sum, the system is broken. And everybody knows it. Unfortunately, reform has been held hostage to political posturing and special-interest wrangling -– and to the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics.” 

Is that the kettle calling the pot black? 

(For a transcript of the speech, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/us/politics/02obama-text.html?ref=politics.)