Mike Kueber's Blog

July 25, 2015

Playing reporter

Filed under: Media,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 1:14 pm
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There were a couple of items in the news this past week in which I think the media completely missed an important angle to the stories:

  1. Border sieve.  Kate Steinle was a young woman killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant.  The media has focused on the fact that San Francisco is a sanctuary city, so even though the killer was a felon who had been deported multiple times, the city had shortly before the murder released him from an custody instead of turning him over to ICE.  Although the sanctuary-city issue is an important one, I also think the incident does serious damage to the Obama administration argument that our border security has improved.  Rather, the fact that this guy was able to illegally cross our border at least six times shows that the border remain a sieve.
  2. Pre-game preparation.  One of the big story angles leading up to the British Open was whether Jordan Spieth should have gone to Scotland a week early to get acclimated instead of competing in the John Deere Classic in America.  When Spieth competed strongly in the British Open, the argument seemed to have died a quiet death.  But I think the argument should have ended with an exclamation mark because the man who defeated Spieth by one stroke in the Open was Zach Johnson, another golfer who played the John Deere Classic before catching a chartered red-eye to Scotland.  The John Deere Classic should have an easier time filling its field next year.

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.

April 15, 2011

Sanctuary San Antonio and ICE

In a recent posting to my blog, I asked whether San Antonio was as sanctuary city.   The question was based on a column by Veronica Flores suggesting the city personnel were obstructing federal ICE personnel under its Criminal Aliens Program from apprehending illegal immigrants who were being processed at the city’s detention center.  Veronica promised additional reporting, and on Tuesday her column delivered on that promise. 

According to Veronica’s most recent column, a hundred pages of e-mails from city employees “reveal a deliberate effort to stall ICE’s attempts to grow its presence at the Detention Center.  And they seem to show city staff walking a political tightrope, outwardly appearing to be cooperating with federal immigration enforcement efforts while simultaneously trying to keep ICE at arm’s lengthIt’s unclear what or who is directing staffers’ actions….  City Attorney Michael Bernard recently told me that, while the city would be “loathe” to tell the federal government that its agents can’t come in to municipal facilities, doing so would be within the city’s purview. For now, at least.  But who would want to own that political landmine?”

The city of San Antonio is obviously being run by people who want it to operate like a sanctuary city, but don’t want the voters to know.  Veronica clearly agrees with this approach:

  • You won’t find me quibbling with the effort to root out the criminal element, even as questions persist about the effectiveness of this approach. Where things get sticky for me, as they apparently have for city officials, according to e-mails obtained by the Express-News, is how the sweeps also have picked up illegal immigrants whose offenses might be as minor as municipal warrants for unpaid traffic tickets.  The ripple effects on the community are profound: a workplace may suddenly be without its employee and a family without its principal breadwinner. These aren’t ICE’s concerns. But they are for a city whose mayor and chambers of commerce regard the contributions of illegal immigrants as economic assets.”

Let’s see – Veronica doesn’t “quibble” about rooting out the criminal element.  What’s to quibble about?  What argument is there for giving sanctuary to criminal illegal immigrants? 

Things “get sticky” for Veronica only when the illegal immigrant is in jail for a minor offense.  When was the last time a family member of yours was in jail for a minor offense?  And since when should government be concerned about the ripple effect of a deportation on an employer who illegally hired an illegal immigrant? 

The bottom line for Veronica is that the “mayor and the chambers of commerce regard the contributions of illegal immigrants as an economic asset.”  I don’t think that is an adequate justification for obstructing immigration personnel from enforcing federal law.

April 10, 2011

Is San Antonio a sanctuary city?

A sanctuary city is generally defined as a city that protects illegal immigrants.  According to an article in the San Antonio Express-News today, San Antonio has apparently become a sanctuary city.   

The E-N article reports that, for 18 months, the city-run Detention Center has pro-actively attempted to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from identifying (and deporting) arrested persons who are in America illegally.  The reporter (columnist Veronica Flores) promises to tell us in her Tuesday column why this practice is being applied.  Because I can’t imagine any rational justification for protecting illegal immigrants who are charged with other crimes, I can’t wait until Tuesday to read Veronica’s column.

January 19, 2011

Nativism in Texas?

I recently had an extensive exchange of opinions with Samuel Freeman, a professor from the University of Texas–Pan American in the Rio Grande Valley, about American exceptionalism.  He opined that “the belief in American exceptionalism generally, but not necessarily always, is associated with nativism, racism, and xenophobia.”

I was familiar with the terms racism and xenophobia, but not with nativism, so I turned to my favorite teacher, Wikipedia:

  • “Nativism typically means opposition to immigration or efforts to lower the political or legal status of specific ethnic or cultural groups because the groups are considered hostile or alien to the natural culture, and it is assumed that they cannot be assimilated.” 

Thus, it seems that Freeman is doing what liberals often do – i.e., distorting conservative opposition to illegal immigration to mean opposition to all immigration.  Why let facts get in the way of making an attractive argument?  I am not aware of any conservative who is arguing that America has too much legal immigration. 

Yesterday’s Texas Tribune included another liberal foray into the world of nativism.  Reporter Ross Ramsey wrote an article on Governor Rick Perry’s recent declaration to end sanctuary cities in Texas.  Ramsey attributed Perry’s declaration to three reasons – (1) a nativist electorate, (2) a reluctance to mimic Arizona on immigration law, and (3) the closing commercial in his campaign for re-election last year.

It’s amazing that a Texas reporter would accuse the Texas electorate as being nativist simply because it is tired of rampant illegal immigration, so I asked Ramsey to provide some support for his accusation.  He responded as follows: 

  • Here’s the dictionary definition of nativist: ‘the policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants.’ That seems to me a fair description of the mood, as reflected in polling and in what lawmakers say they’re doing and why.

Why does the media refuse to distinguish between opposition to illegal immigrants and opposition to legal immigrants?  The difference is not insignificant.  With all of the antipathy by many Texans against illegal immigrants, you would be hard pressed to find any extension of that antipathy toward legal immigrants.  I would be interested in knowing what polling or proposed legislation reflects Texans’ antipathy toward legal immigration.

August 31, 2010

E-Verify in Arizona

Despite the vitriol surrounding the illegal-immigration issue in America, most people agree that illegal immigration needs to be stopped.  Unfortunately, many liberals think the only way to stop illegal immigration is to open our borders to nearly unlimited immigration (either permanent status or work visas).  Whereas, conservatives think that more border security can and should make our border impenetrable.  I think neither is correct.  The key to stopping illegal immigration is, not only to strengthen our border security, but also to reduce the incentive for illegal immigration and to apprehend and deport those who sneak themselves through our border security. 

Incentives 

Currently, there are at least four major incentives for illegal immigration:

  1. Jobs;
  2. Free public education;
  3. Free medical care; and
  4. Birthright citizenship.

Jobs

Congress and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have attempted to reduce employment opportunities for illegal immigrants by creating a database called E-Verify that employers can check to determine whether an employee or potential employee is a legal resident of America.  Although the federal government has made use of the database voluntary, several states have enacted laws requiring employers to use E-Verify.  One of those states is Arizona.

In 2007, Arizona enacted its Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires employers to check E-Verify before hiring an individual.  Although federal law (the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986) prohibits employers from knowingly employing illegal immigrants, it does not require them to use E-Verify.  Not surprisingly, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s E-Verify law (CPLC v. Napolitano), just as she has done with the HB 1070, and the legal rationale is the same – i.e., the federal law is supreme and pre-empts any state legislation on this issue.  However, unlike HB 1070, a federal district judge has upheld the constitutionality of AZ’s E-Verify requirement and that ruling has been upheld by the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.  On June 26, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the matter – now styled as U.S.  Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria

Legal commentators have suggested that, although AZ’s HB 1070 has received much more publicity, the E-Verify case may be more important because it is much further along in the review process and a Supreme Court decision will likely provide much guidance to the state legislatures that are attempting to craft legislation that attacks illegal immigration without being subject to preemption by the federal government.  A decision is due before June 2011.    

Free public education

I have previously addressed in my blog the incentive created by free public education for illegal immigrants.  (See “Bad law – stuck on stupid”; June 25, 2010.)  A Supreme Court decision in 1982 – Plyler v. Doe – required Texas to provide free education to illegal immigrants, and that decision can be reversed either by the Court recognizing that its reasoning is no longer appropriate or by Congress declaring that public education for illegal immigrants is contrary to sound immigration policy.

Free medical care and birthright citizenship

Although free, high-quality medical care is an incentive for illegal immigration, it would be contrary to American values to deny emergency care to anyone, even if that person has illegally entered America to have her baby in America.  But there is absolutely no persuasive argument for granting American citizenship to that baby.  Of course, the best interests of the child would be to receive citizenship, but America can’t be responsible for the best interests all of the children of the world.  Unfortunately, Texas politicians seem to be standing in the way of clarifying the 14th Amendment.  Maverick Senator Lindsay Graham from South Carolina has bravely proposed hearings on clarifying the 14th Amendment, but Texas Senator John Cornyn recently reversed his prior support for these hearings after meeting with some South Texas politicians. 

Detecting and deporting illegal immigrants

Eliminating incentives for illegal immigration will cause a lot of self-deportation, as even liberals concede that illegal immigration has diminished because of the recession in America.  But the elimination of incentives needs to be supplemented by detection and deportation.  In the past few years, there have developed many pockets of protection for illegal immigrants – so-called sanctuary cities.  Illegal immigrants in those cities have no fear of detection by local authorities because those authorities are expressly prohibited from reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities.  Some argue that Houston and San Antonio are sanctuary cities because of their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies.  

Arizona’s HB 1070 is essentially an anti-sanctuary law and is the most robust attempt by a political entity to detect illegal immigrants.  But the law is being challenged by the federal government, and even worse, there are recent news reports that the Obama administration has virtually ceased deportation of illegal immigrants unless they are caught violating criminal laws.  Thus, even if local officials detect illegal immigrants, the federal government may decline to deport them. 

If HB 1070 is upheld, the continued refusal of the President to enforce our nation’s immigration law could result in a constitutional crisis or even impeachment.