Republicans: More of the Same

As if we need more, here is yet another reminder of the kind of terrible ideas that have taken hold of the Republican party and conservatives in particular. Let's hear what representative Steve King of Iowa said:

He has dubbed illegal immigration not just a 'slow-motion terrorist attack' but a 'slow-motion holocaust.' 'The line of scrimmage has moved closer to our goal line,' King tells me, 'and you’ve got a different team calling the plays.'

Steve King, by the way, is the ranking member (most senior, though he does not chair it) of the House subcommittee on immigration.

That isn't all, though:

Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who is surrendering her immigration subcommittee chair, recalls a 2007 bill that allowed more Afghan and Iraqi translators to obtain special visas to enter the U.S. 'When we took it to the floor,' Lofgren says, 'Steve King - and I thought it was irrational - called it 'amnesty.'

A 2008 bill that would have helped U.S. soldiers and their family members gain legal status was named after Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, one of the first Americans to die in combat in the Iraq War. 'Mr. King,' Lofgren recalls, 'wanted to know how the dead soldier had entered the United States.'

(Emphasis mine.)

These are the kinds of voices leading the Republican party in the immigration debate and it's pitiful.

US Pays Wrongfully Detained Citizen $400k

This story out of Seattle is simply atrocious. 

The U.S. government has agreed to pay $400,000 to an American citizen and Army veteran from Washington state who was locked up for seven months while immigration officials wrongly tried to deport him.

The native of Belize explained repeatedly that he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998 while serving in the Army, but neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials nor an immigration judge believed him. He was finally released after the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Seattle attorneys took up his case on appeal.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said the agency now vets the citizenship claims of detainees much more closely, and if such claims appear credible, detainees are released.

What if the claims do not appear credible, but are?!  The burden is on the government to prove that someone is doing something wrong.  If they cannot prove it, the individual should be set free to go about his business.  This is why individual rights are so important and why it's the proper, moral function of governments to protect them. 

"Like other immigration detainees faced with deportation, Mr. Castillo was not entitled to a court-appointed attorney, and he could not afford to hire a private attorney," the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said in a written statement.

No human being should ever be detained and denied the right to self-defense.  This is so disgusting and I'm horrified to learn that this is the case in the US. 

Castillo's case was complicated by the fact that his immigration files listed two names and misspelled versions of his first and last name. He also didn't have immediately family in the area to call for help.

Gee, there's a shocker.  Government gets it wrong again.  Some government union worker likely screwed up the forms and didn't care to make the corrections. 

When will people wake up and realize that the US government is violating individual rights and it's within our power to do something about it?  It doesn't matter if you're a citizen or not, rights are rights and all humans have them.  They should be respected and protected if we are to live in a peaceful, productive society.

Arizona County Wants to Secede - From Arizona

An amusing development from Pima county, Arizona, as some citizens are trying to get the county to secede from Arizona:

...[A]t a minimum, it will send a message that Pima County doesn’t want to go along with the priorities being outlined in Phoenix. He said Pima County has more land and more people than several other states.

'It’s no longer a laughing matter to me,' Eckerstrom said. 'My kids’ futures are at stake because if this continues, the economic ramifications could be very dire. I’m tired of hoping and praying that rationality will come to Phoenix.'

I doubt it will go anywhere, but we'll update you if it does.

This Week's Objectivist Round Up

It's over at The Secular Foxhole.  Go check it out!

Whacky Texas Immigration Bill

Here is one of the whacky immigration bills being presented in Texas:

A new proposal from Texas state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst would allow law enforcement officials to drop off illegal immigrants at the offices of any U.S. senator or representative.

Here is another one from the same article, less whacky and more worrying:

Another bill would allow local law enforcement to arrest, without a warrant, people they believe to be in the country illegally and turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Does this mean yet another Arizona-style immigration law, or is it a new development? We will stay tuned and see.

Utah Bill - The Right Road, Not the Middle Ground

As we noted before, Utah is unique among the states in pursuing state-based immigration reform that makes sense. The two sides in Washington have presented false alternatives, that of slashing immigration numbers or simply avoiding the subject. Most states have been busy trying to solve the problem by violating the rights of employers and hurting their already fragile economies.

Utah is instead trying to keep the economic benefits brought by a more open immigration policy while addressing some of the legitimate worries that arise from having immigration policy that results in lots of illegal crossings. Here is the story:

The Utah bill, known as the Pilot Accountability Permit Program, would grant work permits to illegal immigrants so they could legally work in the state but would require them to undergo criminal background checks, pay taxes and take English classes, and it would force them to leave the state if they lose their jobs.

While not perfect and depending on the final text of the bill, this may be a step in the right direction.

Quote About Immigration

Without comprehension, the immigrant would forever remain shut -- a stranger in America. Until America can release the heart as well as train the hand of the immigrant, he would forever remain driven back upon himself, corroded by the very richness of the unused gifts within his soul.

-Anzia Yezierska

Follow Up: 9 Year-Old Shot and Killed by Minutemen

With regards to this earlier post, Arizona jury sentences border activist to death.  From the article:

Forde was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the May 2009 home invasion in Arivaca, a desert community about 10 miles north of Mexico.

Twenty-nine-year-old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, were killed in the robbery.

I hate to say I'm happy about this because the whole situation is disgusting and it won't bring back the dead, but I'm very happy that justice has prevailed.

This Week's Objectivist Roundup

It's over at The Playful Spirit.  Go check it out!

Announcing SnowCon!

Front Range Objectivism is pleased to announce the full schedule and to open registration for SnowCon -- our March mini-conference.  The core of the conference runs from Friday, March 11th to Sunday, March 13th in Denver, but you can also join us for three days of winter play in the beautiful Colorado Rockies beforehand.

You can view the full schedule of lectures and events on the SnowCon web site: 

Or you can watch/listen to my preview of it: 

Colorado is a wonderful state to visit, and SnowCon will be good intellectual fun!  So please join us!  

To attend SnowCon, you must register by noon on Thursday, March 3rd.  If you register by noon on Thursday, February 24th, you'll save $20, paying only $140 rather than $160.  (That price includes two buffet meals.)

Here are some more details from the SnowCon web page:

The core events of SnowCon will be held in Denver on Saturday and Sunday. Lectures include Dr. Paul Hsieh on the morality of carrying firearms, Dr. Diana Hsieh on moral character, Santiago Valenzuela on immigration, and Joe Collins on America's founding.  Saturday night's keynote FROST lecture will feature Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore on applying the principles of positive discipline to adult relationships.

SnowCon also offers a workshop on activist writing with Ari Armstrong, a discussion and performance of Beethoven by pianist Hannah Krening, a workshop on Atlas Shrugged Reading Groups, a demonstration of Liberty Toastmasters, and more. Other optional events include a tour of Denver microbreweries, a hike in Roxborough Park, a tour of the Denver Museum of Art, and a trip to a local shooting range.

For details, see Denver Activities and Schedule.

In addition, SnowCon attendees can enjoy three relaxed days of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and other winter activities together in Breckenridge before the weekend in Denver -- from Wednesday to Friday. 

For details, see Breckenridge Activities and Schedule.

SnowCon welcomes all friendly people with a serious interest in or honest curiosity about Ayn Rand's philosophy, regardless of their level of knowledge.

Santiago and I will be attending the Breckenridge and Denver conference days and we hope to see you there!

Quote About Immigration

There was a time when we, the US, had completely unrestricted immigration, when anybody could come to these shores and the motto on the Statue of Liberty had some real meaning. This was a country of hope and of promise for immigrants and their children, and as many as a million immigrants a year came in 1906 and '07 and '08. By 1914, roughly a third of the population was foreign-born or the immediate descendants of foreign-born...The fact that year after year hundreds of thousands of people left the countries of Europe to come to this country was persuasive evidence that they were coming to improve their lot, not to worsen it.

-Milton Friedman

Tancredo: Mexicans are dumb criminals who steal jobs and welfare

Yes, he really said that at CPAC.

He also said:

In response to a question by Joanne C. Daley of Cochise County, Tancredo said “Rob Krentz was absolutely killed by an illegal alien, a drug runner on his land.” The Krentz killing remains unsolved.

Tancredo says that Mexican children are so stupid that they are holding back the entire education system:

[Tancredo] also asserted that public education is “dumbed down” to accommodate the children of illegal aliens...

So, these Mexicans are pretty stupid, right? So stupid that we need to stop them from coming here to take our jobs:

“There is no rationale that I can think of to bring 165,000 people a month into the country. These are all people looking for a job.”

Or are they here just to suck up social services? I don't know, but Tancredo seems to think both:

Tancredo went on to lament dialysis treatment for illegal aliens and claimed that illegals cross the border simply to turn themselves in to get dental work. He said many illegal aliens were getting transplant operations at the expense of needy U.S. citizens.

Also, Mexicans hate the US, so much so that if you removed immigration restrictions, every one of them would move here within days:

“Immediately when you get that status in this country you begin to apply, you can apply for amnesty for your whole family. Then they do it for their family. You go on forever.” He predicted five to ten million amnesty applications daily.

Mexico has a population of less than 110 million. Also, in about 15 years, the entire world would live in the United States if we didn't restrict immigration. They'd all come for "our" jobs, social services or to murder people maliciously. One of the three. Be scared!

Surprisingly, the fact that these assertions have no basis in reality is not what amazes me most. The fact that Tancredo attributes drug war violence to immigration isn't even the most outrageous part of his speech. What I am amazed by is that 80 or so people could actually sit through a speech that cannot even demonize Mexicans consistently!

Tancredo believes that Mexican immigrants are violent criminals, yet most of the violence along the US/Mexican border is caused by the drug war. As with Prohibition, when the government creates a black market for drugs (and immigration), it leads to a boom in violent, organized crime. Furthermore, most immigrants are not criminals. 

Tancredo believes Mexican children are dumb, yet they're in school in an attempt to be educated. Tancredo ignores the real issue which is that US schools are being dumbed down by the government running them.

Tancredo says Mexicans are here to use our welfare system, ignoring the fact that far more US citizens are on welfare than immigrants. Tancredo also ignores the fact that immigrants do pay many taxes, including property and sales taxes, so they should qualify for some government services just like any other taxpayer. And finally, he fails to acknowledge that the welfare state will never work in the long-term for Americans alone, much less immigrants. He ignores the fact that the problem with the welfare state is the welfare state, not immigration.     

Tancredo says Mexicans are here to take all of our jobs, but he ignores the fact that immigrants typically accept low-paying, unskilled jobs that most Americans are unwilling to accept. He also ignores the fact that business owners have property rights. They own their business and have the right to fire and hire whom they please.

And last but not least, Tancredo seems ready to deny the "American Dream" to all but those who are already in this country legally. Like most of our ancestors, of course these immigrants will file for amnesty for their families. Of course they want their children's lives to be better than their own. Of course they want to live free, pursue their own happiness and prosper. How soon Tancredo has forgotten where he is from. (Both sets of his grandparents immigrated from Italy during a time when Italians (and Catholics) were discriminated against by mainstream America.)

Tom Tancredo is an unprincipled fool without a fact to speak of. His ignorance and bigotry shine through in his hypocritical comments, and his ideas are dangerous to those of us who wish to live free and pursue happiness. 

This Week's Objectivist Round Up

It's over at Erosophia.  Go check it out!

This Week's Objectivist Round Up

It's over at Rant from the Rock.  Check it out!

The Myth of Anchor Babies

Hat tip to David McBride for recommending this post to MoE!

In his excellent post, Busting The Myth Behind The "Anchor Baby" Slur, Adam Serwer points out:

…only 9 percent of undocumented immigrants had children shortly after arriving, and there's a distinct lack of evidence that any of them had children for that reason. Nill writes that these "findings pretty much invalidate the argument that is at the center of the birthright citizenship debate." That's actually not the only information in the Pew Survey that contradicts the views of restrictionists. There's also the news that the undocumented population increased slightly to 11.2 million by March 2010, after falling from 12 million to 11.1 million between 2007-2009:

He goes on to point out:

Now the Obama administration has tried to take some credit for the decline by pointing to its high numbers of deportations and increased resources at the border. But because in the long-term border enforcement really does little to stem migration, the decline was more likely attributable to a struggling economy.

Check out the entire post here and Serwer's "shocking conclusion."  It's good stuff!

A Tale of Two States

Note: All sources are listed at the bottom of this post.

California is a favorite subject of nativists everywhere. The State government faces a perpetual budget crisis, the tax base is decreasing and its economy is doing much worse than many other states. All of this, we hear with regularity, is because of all the illegal immigrants California has within its borders. Without these illegal immigrants, we are told, all of California's budget woes would be gone.

In reality, Californians voted themselves into the crisis they are currently in, and stricter enforcement of current US immigration laws will not help and may very well harm their situation. As evidence, one needs only to look at another high-population, high-illegal immigrant state, Texas.

Texas is currently the second most populous state in the US next to California (25 million versus 37 million, respectively.) California has more illegal immigrants, but for the population size they are almost exactly the same (6.7% of the population versus 6.8%.) Given these facts, one would expect Texas to be as much in the red and facing as serious of troubles as California. Well, not so much.

Since 2005, California's population has gone up merely 3.1%, and its economy has gone up 16.1%. Texas has seen much more robust growth, at 9.9% population growth and 26.7% economic output growth. Both economies have been strong, but Texas' has seen markedly larger growth, along with its population.

In Texas, unemployment has gone up 56.6% since 2005, from 5.3% to 8.4%. In California, it has shot up a whopping 129%, from 5.4% to 12.4%. What is the cause of this huge difference between two states who are, as some argue, suffering from an economically crippling number of illegal immigrants?

It is easy to see some structural differences. California is one of the most notoriously business-unfriendly states in the union. In 2010, it tied for 32nd place in CNBC's rankings of the best states to do business in the United States. Texas, on the other hand, came in as the most business-friendly state in the Union, and it has consistently stayed in the top three since 2005.

In government expenditures, California also beats out Texas, at $4,455 per person in California versus $3,579 in Texas.  (I should also mention that there are now 9 California state employees for every 1000 California citizens, almost double what it was in 1950. That's a lot of payroll, not to mention health care and pension debt!)

Both states face budget shortfalls. In Texas, they seem confident that their rainy-day fund and budget cuts can carry them through the current $4.3 billion deficit until the economy improves. In California, they face crushing requirements to fund schools and public pensions, combining to make their deficit over four times as large at $20 billion.

By the logic of the nativists, California and Texas are in a similar boat. They both face the highest number of illegal immigrants and a high percentage of them per capita, yet Texas is weathering the economic downturn in much better fashion than California.

The reason is simple; Texas presents a much better opportunity for people to do business. Its regulations are far less onerous and its government spends far less of its peoples' money. Texas is far from perfect; it has increased its own spending at a much faster rate than California since 2005, apparently determined to undo the good it has done, but as it stands it still remains a far better choice to live than California. This, not how many illegal immigrants are within its borders, is what is causing California's government to be facing a budget nightmare.


Illegal immigrants by state:

Population by State:

Gross State Product:

California State Spending, 2005:

Texas & California State Spending:

CNBC Business-Friendly State Rankings: