J. Brian Phillips' Interview with an Immigrant

J. Brian Phillips of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs recently posted this interview with an immigrant.  I repost it here in its entirety with his permission, but his blog covers a variety of subjects, is very good and definitely worth a look.

An interview with an immigrant

By J. Brian Phillips

The following interview was conducted with an immigrant from the Philippines and her fiance. Their names are not revealed because their situation has not been resolved. The interview reveals some of the difficulties experienced by those seeking to legally immigrate to the United States.

You were living in America and owned a home. Yet, you were forced to leave the country. Could you tell us why?

She: The decision to leave the country came about when my work informed me that they will not proceed with their sponsorship of my permanent residency.  I was on 5th of 6 years of my work visa, which is only good for 6 yrs at a time, after which I would have to leave the country for a full year so another fresh 6 yrs (3 yrs renewable for another 3 yrs) will be granted to me IF there is another employer willing to sponsor the visa.  Given that I had only 1 year left on my visa, I did not think any new employer would be willing to sponsor (based on recruiters belief during my job hunt) thus I thought I should leave to be more productive.

Where were you working?

She: I worked in an accounting firm (will not mention the name).

What happened to the house that you owned?

She: I sold it. I was hoping to keep it while figuring ways of being able to pay it off including working outside the country (like Canada where income could be somewhat the same as US). However, my HOA Board members denied me twice for my request to lease the house hoping it would help me cover my mortgage. That was another frustrating situation I learned about HOA. Their denial was because the cap for leased units have been met and they would not even consider my request due to hardship. The HOA by-law provided that the Board could make an exception to the cap for hardship requests. Being in the situation with an impending income to lose and even if I make money outside the US, I do not think it was rightfully correct to pay for a house that I cannot live in and cannot even make money out of because things happened beyond my control. It cost me $2,000/month including the HOA fees. Despite my frustration, I did not want to walk away from the house so my next option was to enter into a short sale and it went through after a couple of months with the help of a great realtor.

Why did your employer decide to not sponsor your permanent residency? Was it too expensive or too much of a hassle for them?

She: The company did start the sponsorship but two years through the process, the office changed management. The new partners said they would not continue with it. When I asked for the reason, I was referred to HR who said that Dept of Labor (DOL) was involved in the processing and part of the requirement to complete the process is for them to prove that there are no locals who can fulfill their personnel requirement. It was still recession and so there were many locals in the market, who may have different sets of skills as mine but DOL just made the process very difficult by adding requirements and auditing applications which prolonged the process. It completely made sense to give priority to locals but what I did not hope was for it to become a detriment to foreign workers who are able to do the job well.

He: Outside of her specific experience, throughout my career in IT I have employed and worked with a large number of immigrant workers. The H1B (work visa) process requires that job descriptions be filed for each position you may hire an immigrant for, and that immigrant workers can only be considered if US Nationals are not available to fill that role. The guidelines are open to a lot of interpretation, and more or less stringent focus is applied depending on political headwinds. With the focus turning to jobs and the economy, there was a stricter interpretation of loosely defined guidelines. I saw that repeatedly in my line of work.

Let me make sure I understand. You were working and doing a good job. The company planned to keep you on, but the government changed the rules and the company essentially had to fire you. Is that basically the situation?

She: Yes, I believe so.

He: Both.  The new partners at the company decided that they would no longer sponsor visas (it costs money to do so).  When she asked why they told her to ask the government (via HR)…essentially they hid behind the ever-changing interpretation of immigration laws, rather than be forthright that they didn’t want to pay for her visa.

What was the process for being allowed to return to America?

She: Since we decided to get married, we went through the fiancé (K1) visa option after considering the timeline and costs involved vs other immigrant-type visas.  he filed a petition for a fiancé visa for me which was approved and I then had to appear at the US Consulate in Manila for interviews after which a fiancé visa was granted to me.

He: This was a 7 month process, which cost us roughly $2000 in documentation and filing fees. We did all documentation and follow-up with the government ourselves to avoid legal fees that would double or triple that cost. During the 7 months, there were several waiting periods with no feedback, and phone/email follow-ups went unanswered 95% of the time. The K1 visa allows for a one-time entry in the USA, after which the fiancée has 90 days to get married or leave the country.

There are various approval forms the government sends out, as you approved at each stage, some of which are needed to move to the next stage. One of those was lost in the mail. When I called to get another sent, I was invited to file a form (along with a $408 fee) to request another copy to be mailed to me. I was told that five times, until the sixth person I talked to said they would file a “Service Request” on my behalf and have another copy sent. No charge.

Since you chose the K1 option, I assume that other options are slower, more expensive, or both. Could you describe them?

She: One is spouse visa. That means we should be married before I can come back to the US. It is more expensive because the processing will be mostly done outside of the country and the process is longer. Since it would be longer, that means he would have to come back sooner and who knows when I could follow him. The good thing about the spouse visa is I would have been a green card holder upon arrival in the US, thus would be able to work when a job is available. We did not pursue this because we wanted to wait to get married in the US and not rush to get the benefits of the green card. We’d also rather be waiting together here in the US than miles away from each other for who knows how long.

He: This is called the K3 visa process. And I believe the timeline is around 11-18 months.

She: The other is work visa, which is the same one I had. This however is based upon having an employer willing to sponsor the visa. Due to the continued recession, there is an apparent absence of such employer. The process has become more difficult and expensive.

He: This is the H1B visa process.

I understand that, upon returning to America, you had some restrictions on your employment. What were those restrictions?

She: Under the K1 visa, I am entitled to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  This EAD is necessary for me to legally able to work. The EAD process takes an average of 60 days to approve. In addition, this EAD is only good for 90 days from my entry, so within this period, we are required (by visa requirement) to get married. After which I have to adjust my status as fiancé to a permanent resident and concurrently apply for a new EAD. Whichever comes first of the permanent resident card or EAD will allow me to work wherever I choose. It should be noted that for every filing, the immigration office charges us hundreds or thousands of dollars, including to prove that I will not be a burden to USA – which is ironic… to ask me for money when I could have just saved it and start earning and paying them taxes.

He: A significant part of receiving both the K1 visa pre-entry, and the Conditional Permanent Residency (Green Card) is proving that she “will not become a ward of the state”. As proof of my ability to support her, I had to submit documentation of current income, assets, tax returns, and sign a form authorizing the government to sue me if she ever claims food stamps or other forms of welfare.  We find it ironic that they are so concerned about her becoming a ward of the state, but they put so many restrictions on her ability to earn money (and pay tax revenue).  The various documentation required to prove support, gain work authorization, and adjust status to Permanent Resident will cost us an additional $1200. Again, we have done this work ourselves to avoid legal fees.  Large industries exist to help complete and file that documentation for you.

I’d say that the process is costing you a lot more than $1200. You are also losing her income during this period. Realistically, how long will it be before she can work?

She: Based on government timeline of processing documents, the latest date to get an approval is December 29, 2011 (90 days from their acceptance of my application). If not, they want me to follow them up to check if they messed up and find out why they failed to meet their target. It can be sooner, depending on how fast the government employees work.

He: That’s a good point.

What are the conditions attached to the Green Card?

She: The first two years is conditioned to my being married to him to make sure that we are not fraudulently marrying for immigration purposes. Within 90 days before the two year anniversary of the green card, I should apply for removal of the condition. If I fail to do so, they will cancel the green card and proceed with deportation proceedings.

Will there be any conditions for staying in the country after that?

She: I am not sure. I haven’t made my research on other restrictions/condition.

He: We hope not.

Were you ever tempted to stay in the country illegally? Why or why not?

She: Not tempted at all. The five years was great work and life experience for me and I would not trade it for anything. America is a great country but I have far more confidence in myself than in the country where I chose to “try it out.” I have made great friends and I love living in convenience but if it were not for him, I would have no strong tie/s to make me stay in the US. I was confident that I will do great wherever country I end up at that time. Going back to the Philippines was not scary because with my skills and ability I knew I would end with a good job back home. The way of living is nothing compared to the US but I knew better how to live life well. That being said, I don’t think it was worth doing anything against the law no matter how much I think it is too much red tape.

He: I would add how conscientious she was about doing things by the law. After her employment in the US ended (July 2010), but up until the time she left the US (October), she met with an attorney and filed documentation to adjust her status from being in the US for work (H1B visa), to being in the US for tourist (B2 visa) purposes. This was done with the intention of following the law, and also to not have any potential trouble spots should she want to return to the USA in the future.  The government accepted her fees, but did not complete the adjustment of status until after she had already left the country.

The process for someone to come to the US legally is long and expensive. What recommendations would you make for reforming that system?

She: I do not blame the government for making it difficult to migrate to the US. The policies have evolved because of people who have and will continue to misuse and abuse or get around the process to migrate. I think they intentionally lengthen the process to discourage those who are impatient.

Re the system,

  1. I think there are duplicate processes that can be eliminated including background checks.
  2. Dept of Homeland Security should add MORE competent employees. I do not understand how processing can be slow with the aid of technology between government agencies

He: There is clearly no communication between departments…some of which is intentional, i think they want to see if you provide the same answers/information consistently.

At her consulate interview in Manila, where we most feared a government bureaucrat looking at a checklist unable and unempowered to make a logical decision, we were wrong. The consulate looked at all the evidence and the entire situation and holistically determined that she belonged in the U.S. So it worked out.

It’s fine to make the immigration process thorough and complete….it just could be done so much more efficiently and intelligently. And it’s clear that they are making money just because they can. At the end of day though I think most of the people who really want to come to the US, and are willing to make the effort, can make it through the process.

The US is still a place that draws the best and brightest from around the world, and the immigration process, though archaic, is not keeping those folks from coming here…fortunately for me.  There are other areas, such as the quality of our education and the competitiveness of our workforce, more worthy of focus to keep our country strong and to remain attractive to the brave people around the world who are willing to leave their countries and families behind for a chance at a better life.

While it appears that this story will have a happy ending, for nearly a year, the future of these two individuals was under the control of government bureaucrats. They endured needless stress and expense in their efforts to secure government permission to immigrate.

There are four parties involved in this story: the immigrant, her employer, her fiancé, and the government. The immigrant had no choice in her place of birth. Neither her employer nor her fiancé cared where she was born. Her employer cared only about her competence in performing her job; her fiancé cared only about his love for her. It was the government that made an issue of her place of birth. It was the government that used that fact to force the employer to act contrary to his own judgment. It was government that forced the immigrant and her fiancé to overcome arbitrary obstacles so that they could act as they judged best for their lives. Why? Why does government care about the place of birth of a particular individual?

As she mentions in the interview, the government wants American businesses to hire Americans first. Only when qualified Americans cannot be found is the business permitted to hire an immigrant. And what constitutes a qualified American is largely in the discretion of government bureaucrats, not the business. Underlying this policy is the premise that Americans have a “right” to a job, but immigrants do not.

The fact is, nobody has a right to a job. Rights are not a claim to an object, but the freedom to take the actions necessary to create or earn that object. There is only the right of a business to offer a job to the individual of its choosing and the right of that individual to accept or reject the offer. To claim that Americans have a “right” to a job means that if a business hires Jim, it violates Bob’s “right” to a job.

Fundamentally, rights pertain to freedom of choice–the freedom to choose one’s values and the means for attaining them. Government regulations, including those regarding immigration, prevent individuals from acting on their choices. In this situation, the employer, the immigrant, and the fiancé were forced to act contrary to their own judgment. The rights of all three were violated by the government’s immigration policies.

Every individual–including those born in other countries–has a moral right to live as and where he chooses, as long as he respects the mutual rights of others. Rights are not magic endowments bestowed upon those fortunate enough to be born in America. As philosopher Harry Binswanger writes, “One has rights not by virtue of being an American, but by virtue of being human.”

The only moral and proper purpose of government is the protection of individual rights. Limitations on immigration violate the rights of immigrants and those who wish to associate with them–in this case, both her employer and her finance.

The woman in this interview had violated nobody’s rights. She had not committed theft or murder; she was not guilty of kidnapping or fraud. Her only “crime” was being born in another country. The only facts that changed were the government’s policies, which changed to satisfy public sentiment. Government policy prohibited both the employer and the employee from contracting with one another on terms that each found acceptable. Government policy prevented both the employer and the employee from acting as they judged best. Government policy forced the immigrant and her fiance to seek government permission to pursue their personal happiness. The fact that this couple was able to navigate the bureaucracy and pay the appropriate fees does not diminish the immoral nature of America’s immigration laws.

Open immigration does not mean that anyone wishing to move to America should be free to do so. Those who pose an objective threat to Americans–such as criminals, would-be terrorists, and those with communicable diseases–should be rightly barred. But those who simply want to make a better life for themselves and their family should be welcomed with open arms and open borders.

Famous Immigrant of the Week

Today, we honor Houston's famous chef, Hugo Ortega!  Ortega feeds Houston's hungry masses at his three restaurants, including the likes of former US President and First Lady, George and Barbara Bush.  From this FoxNews Latino article:Hugo_Ortega

After arriving illegally in Houston, Texas in 1983, Ortega worked as a dishwasher and line cook – a far cry from earlier tasks like toasting cacao. But life slowly led Ortega back to his Mexican roots. Like his abuelita, he had a knack for cooking. He got a green card, went to culinary school and eventually became a citizen and an executive chef. Finally in 2002, he opened Hugo’s, his restaurant offering home-style Mexican dishes elevated to upscale, sophisticated fare.

Since then, Hugo’s has received numerous accolades: The Houston Press named it “Best Restaurant” in the city in 2003.  Ortega received the award for “Chef of the Year” at the 2011 Houston Culinary Awards presented by local magazine My Table in early October.

Here are links to Ortega's three restaurants, all of which look spectacularly yummy and we plan to try the next time we're visiting my native Houston. Congratulations on your success in America, Mr. Ortega!

Hugo's Restaurant

Backstreet Cafe

Prego

Happy Birthday, Miss Liberty!

Today marks the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.  Happy birthday, Miss Liberty!

  Statue of Liberty Bday.jpeg

Here are some other interesting facts about one of the world's most famous statues.

One of the things I love the most about the statue is that the US government did not use tax payer funds to assemble the statue.  The statue was assembled with voluntary donations.  Capitalism at work!

From Fence Jumper to Brain Surgeon

Wow!  That's all I can say about listening to this podcast interview of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.  Dr. Q, as he's called, jumped the fence from Mexico and worked on farms in California before going on to become a renowned brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins.  I highly recommend you listen to the podcast to find out how he made such an amazing journey.  If Dr. Q isn't living the American dream, I don't know anyone who is!

Dr Q The highlights of the interview (and there are plenty), include his story about working on the farm, then attending a local community college in his spare time to learn English.  I can't help but wonder how many anti-immigration types he encountered along the way who saw him working in the fields and thought he was a lazy Mexican, on welfare, who had no desire to learn English or better his life?

In fact, Dr. Q encountered some of those types during his first few years at Johns Hopkins.  In the interview, he tells of patients asking his staff if there is anyone else to treat him other than "a dirty Mexican."  Dr. Q, with his amazing positivity and inability to let anything keep him down, told his staff that some of the patients they see suffer not only from biological brain diseases, but also social diseases.  And sure enough, many of those patients, after being treated, would later apologize to Dr. Q or his staff.

The whole interview is fascinating, not only with regards to immigration and the American dream, but with regards to medicine, education, hard work, and the amazing American sense of life that so many immigrants bring with them to this country.  The interview is a tad over an hour long, but well worth your time!  It's certainly one of the most inspirational stories I've heard in quite awhile.

Here are some other links regarding Dr. Q:

His book: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Dr-Journey-Migrant-Surgeon/dp/0520271181

Transcript of a NOVA interview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/brain-surgeon.html

I would like to thank Jim W. for forwarding me this amazing interview! 

Weekly Quote

"Last week I was thinking I was on the wrong side of this issue," Dubrinsky says. "Now, I don't. It's clear from the response that there are far more people concerned with this law than you would think."

Dubrinsky was speaking about the threats he received when he spoke out about Alabama's new immigration law.  It seems there's been a fortunate turn of events, however:

But since late last week, Dubrinsky has witnessed an outpouring of support from a different set of strangers. After reading of Dubrinsky's plight, opponents of the new law have rallied around his deli, leading to one the busiest stretches at the restaurant that Dubrinsky can recall. He tells HuffPost that new diners have been driving from up to forty miles outside the city just to try his reuben and thank him for standing up for Latino workers.

"I've shaken more hands in the last two days than in the previous two years. It's been amazing," Dubrinsky said. "The restaurant has been pretty darn busy."

Hate and Racism in the Immigration Debate

And people say that critics of immigration aren't racially motivated?  Here's clear evidence, once again, that more than a few certainly are!

"They are scared and I can't blame them," he told the paper, speaking about his documented employees. "It is affecting a lot of restaurants. It's a mess."

Suddenly, Dubrinsky had much greater problems.

The morning the article ran, Dubrinsky hopped in his car and turned on local talk radio, only to discover that the discussion topic was Dubrinsky himself. The host and his guests were trying to decide whether or not they should boycott the deli.

Dubrinsky grabbed his paper and read the Birmingham News article just to make sure he hadn't been misquoted, perhaps voicing support for undocumented immigrants. Indeed, he was quoted accurately, showing sympathy for the area's properly documented workers.

It hardly mattered. Dubrinsky was being tarred as an illegal-immigrant lover.

"People twisted what the story said," Dubrinsky told HuffPost. "I was under attack."

The article had been shared on an anti-immigrant website, and Dubrinsky was soon bombarded with vitriolic hate email, some of which he shared with HuffPost.

One reads: "well u can bet your ass that i will never eat in yourswastika resturant agian and will tell everybody i know what kind of person you are for suporting those dam wetback that are ruining our country."

Another: "if you cant keep the doors open and employ legal people then it is time to close."

And another: "I hope your unamerican establishment closes down!!!!"

You can read the whole, disgusting story here.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to read The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff.  At first, it sounds preposterous that anyone could compare what's going on in America today (politically, socially and philosophically) with the German Nazi Party, but since reading this book, the parallels have become glaringly and frighteningly apparent!

Famous Immigrant of the Week

This week I am featuring Arianna Huffington, which may seem surprising to many who know me personally.  While I disagree with Ms. Huffington on many issues,Arianna Huffington particularly when it comes to the proper role of government, I'm thankful to Ms. Huffington for starting The Huffington Post which regularly features articles that  are of interest to me.  Here's a little bit about her life as an immigrant from The League of Women Voters website:

Arianna Stasinopoulos was born 53 years ago in Athens, Greece, to intensely political parents. As a young man, her father joined the resistance to the German occupation of Greece by editing an underground newspaper. He was caught, and spent the rest of the war in a German concentration camp. Her mother, whose family had fled Russia during the revolution, had a passion for cooking and learning. (Arianna has humorously compared her mom to the mother character in the hit movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.) Arianna moved to the United States in 1980 with her mother, who lived with Arianna until her death three years ago. Formerly married to Michael Huffington, the businessman and former GOP congressman, Arianna Huffington now lives in Los Angeles with her two daughters.

You can read more about Ms. Huffington and check out The Huffington Post for yourself here.

Jamaican Immigrant's Case is Unnecessarily Tough

This FoxNews article about a Jamaican man with a stutter highlights clearly why America's immigration laws are flawed and immoral.

Derrick Cotterel was a farm worker who came to the United States from Jamaica, picking citrus in Florida and apples in West Virginia for 10 years, before a pay dispute with a landscaping employer led to his arrest last year on robbery charges.

Cotterel, 42, speaks a Jamaican patois, or Creole, that might alone be difficult for Americans to grasp. But his speech is further compromised by a severe stutter that makes him nearly impossible to understand.

Nor can he read or write. So many of his thoughts remain trapped inside of him.

Cotterel, a brawny man, has supported himself mostly as a farmer and fisherman — jobs that don't require communication skills. In Jamaica, he lived with his brother for a time, until the brother was killed.

"He told me he never gotten government benefits. He has always supported himself," Burch said. "He takes great pride in that."

[The judge] had set bail at $1,500, but Cotterel's friends in Martinsburg, W.Va., have so far scraped together just $900.

And now, there's another hiccup to overcome: Cotterel was recently moved to state custody in West Virginia because he missed a court date in the robbery case while he was incarcerated in York. He has no prior convictions.

According to Shagin, the case stems from an argument that ensued when the landscaper, who was also Cotterel's landlord, came to the apartment and said he wasn't going to pay him.

"You take for granted how valuable the ability to speak is until you don't have it," Shagin said. "It's particularly bad if you don't have it and you're being accused. You're unable to give your side of the story."

Cotterel has now spent 15 months behind bars.

This is a ridiculous injustice!  For one thing, these indefinite detentions of immigrants (much less in prisons with violent offenders) has got to stop.  What good does it do any of us for a non-violent person to be imprisoned with violent offenders?  For another thing, there should be no immigration hearing going on at all, that would've left the man free to deal with his criminal trial.  This man came to this country to work and make a better life for himself, and he should be left alone.   

The criminal trial happened after he immigrated and is being portrayed as a misunderstanding.  If that's indeed the case, it seems like it could be cleared up easily with a court-appointed attorney.  If Mr. Cotterel is found guilty in the criminal case, he should be punished accordingly.  If he's exonerated or if the case is dropped, he should be allowed to go about his private business, free from government intervention.

On Open Immigration, by Guest Blogger Fotis Olympodoros

The restrictive immigration policies that are currently in place in the United States nowadays are contrary to the spirit and principles upon which this country was founded, and they must be eliminated in favor of a system of open immigration for the sake of the country’s ideological integrity as well as its financial integrity. The very principle of the issue demands it.

Under the present immigration system, immigrants wishing to make their way in the United States face enormous obstacles: decades of accumulated baroque legislation have transformed what once was a relaxed immigration system into a veritable maze that only few are able to navigate successfully. Employers seeking to sponsor a foreign national for a work visa must, for example, invest over $7,000 in paperwork and legal fees to start the process. The following step consists of the potential employee being entered into a “lottery” in order to compete for one of the coveted visas- of which only 65,000 are granted a year by the government (should the employee be unlucky enough not to get a visa during the random lottery, his employer cannot recover the money invested). Should he be fortunate enough to secure one of the coveted visas, he must still wait six months before allowed to work for the employer.  As it can be plainly seen, this system is a flagrant violation of the rights of both employer and employee: The employer finds his right to property violated the instant the government dictates whom he may or may not employ, and the immigrant in question finds his own rights violated by being treated as a potential criminal for the mere act of wishing to work. There is, in fact, no article in the Constitution which prohibits non-violent, non-criminal individuals from seeking to reside in the United States, nor is there an actual prohibition on their working on American soil (indeed, George Washington said, in his December 2nd, 1873 address: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.")

Anti-immigration rhetoric in this country has seen a surge thanks to the efforts of groups such as FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), founded by John Tanton, a white supremacist whose major funding comes from the Pioneer Group- another white supremacist organization whose main platform is the support of eugenics. While groups such as FAIR would gladly paint an image of a racially homogenous America, their very arguments crumble into dust upon examining any family tree.

Regardless of current status, every man, woman and child alive in the United States has an ancestor in their family tree who, at one point in history, set foot on these shores a complete stranger to its ways, its people, and its language.  What awaited this traveler at the turn of the 20th century was not a draconian process requiring thousands of dollars and Monte Carlo odds, but a rather simple medical checkup and other cursory examinations. It is a simple fact that if today’s immigration regulations were in place when the honorable ancestors of these men and women came to America, they would have been rejected and sent back… or, perhaps not wishing to go back to a country in the dawn of war, they might have jumped the border and become illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants become thus because, through sheer over-regulation, the government has turned the entire process of immigration into a nearly-impossible goal. Individuals not unlike the ancestors of our current prominent political figures (the O’Reillys – Irish peasants, or the Tancredos—Italian peasants) must either face the choice of staying in countries that are in strife (Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras), or seek to carve a new life in a freer country—even it if means risking the status of illegality. Decades ago, America welcomed such immigrants;  today they must claim the promise of American freedom through the barbed wire and the border fences.

One of the common fallacies used against open immigration is that an increased number of immigrants will ‘dry up’ the job market and send the economy plummeting. This is known as the “Zero Sum Fallacy”, because it assumes that wealth and industry are a zero-sum game: that there are only so many ‘slices of the pie’ available at one point or another, and that it therefore runs out with more people 'grabbing' for then. If this argument were actually true, then the great cosmopolitan cities such as Los Angeles and New York, who have some of the highest population density in the country, would necessarily have to be wastelands of abject and complete poverty all across the board, and the arid and desolate expanses of Kansas’ small towns being shining examples of wealth and prosperity.

The fact that reality is quite the opposite points towards something that the country has known from its very inception: increased population causes an increase in the demand for skills, goods and services, and the new immigrants help ensure that those demands are covered—generating wealth and prosperity. Opponents of immigration also forget the most glaring error in their argument: That the O’Reillys, the Coulters, the Tancredos and other prominent figures are the direct beneficiaries of lax immigration laws in the past. Very few- if any- of their ancestors possessed degrees, many may not have known how to read at all. Under the immigration laws currently in place (and under their proposed, stricter laws) they would have all been turned away. Yet these ancestors were able to stay, work and prosper in America, and the most recent generations of their family trees reap the fortunate rewards whilst arguing that no-one else should have the same opportunities that their ancestors enjoyed, and from which they are currently benefitting.

Their argument even goes further towards barring any rights for anyone except American-born citizens. The very spirit of independence that created America revolts against such a notion- the ideas of monarchy and privilege by blood, where a group of people were given more rights than others because of who their fathers were, were the ideas that generated oppression against the colonies: a small sub-set of the population felt entitled to the property, income and land of others merely because of birthright.  It was Thomas Payne, in his essay on Common Sense, who said “For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others forever.” The idea that citizenship and the recognition of rights should only be applied to those born on US soil is the violation of that; it is the establishment of privilege by heredity, of aristocracy. And even if a person could take leave of their senses long enough to consider that argument seriously, the question arises: how far back is it to be applied?

Go back far enough, and nobody (except the Native Americans) was born on U.S. soil. Stop at any point before that, and it is simply an aleatory non-objective law. As Russian immigrant Ayn Rand pointed out, “only a non-objective law can give a statist the chance he seeks: a chance to impose his arbitrary will—his policies, his decisions, his interpretations, his enforcement, his punishment or favor—on disarmed, defenseless victims.” This is precisely what opponents of immigration- both private individuals and government functionaries wish to achieve, they require non-objective law and prejudice to bolster their bravado, as they have no rational arguments to back their claims.

No matter how they may wish to phrase their fallacies, the irrefutable truth is that the Constitution does not discriminate in its allocation of rights between citizens and non citizens, and it also does not deny the right of any man, be he a law-abiding citizen, to live where he wishes to live. Washington D.C’s baroque and overtaxed immigration machinery has made criminals out of the kind of people who, many generations ago , might have been found descending from a boat at Ellis Island or, even further back, from the Mayflower itself.

by Fotis Olympodoros

Weekly Quote

"[Secure Communities is] not a good recipe for the future of America. It makes us a lesser country. Something is callous; something is hard with[in] our hearts in terms of that philosophy that we can’t see through that."

Mark Curran, the Republican sheriff of Lake County, Ill., was initially onboard with the Obama administration's immigration program known as Secure Communities: “When you have local, state and federal law enforcement all sharing information, all working together, … that’s when we work best.” After seeing it in action, however, he’s become an outspoken critic. [These quotes are taken from] the edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 29, 2011.

Shrinking US Cities Welcome Immigration

Here's an interesting article about how struggling US cities are welcoming immigrants with open arms in an attempt to repopulate their tax base.Dayton OH

Dayton, whose population has fallen in recent years, is rolling out the welcome mat for legal immigrants to boost the community.

It approved a plan last week that aims to help legal immigrants navigate the system to establish themselves in the community.

"When folks come, we'd like to welcome them. We'd like to let them know what their resources are to learn English," said Human Relations Council Director Tom Wahlrab. "We want to let them know they have a part in our community."

The plan includes recommendations to create an international marketplace and to increase language services and English classes.

While the sentiment is nice and this is a refreshing change of pace, the problem here is, once they attract new residents and new businesses, what will they do with them?  I'm sure there will be tax breaks and other incentives for these new-comers, but a few years after they arrive, will you begin to drive them away with your socialism the way you drove away your former residents?

Capitalism is the only solution to shrinking cities and the US economy's troubles.  Free markets can and will determine who lives where and if there's enough jobs for those residents.  Free markets will allow people to pursue their happiness and trade freely and peacefully amongst each other.  Governments do not create jobs, happiness or prosperity, as the US government has so clearly illustrated the past 100+ years.

Documentary Airs Tonight on PBS' Frontline

Lost in Detention premiers tonight on Frontline on your local PBS station.  I plan to watch it and give a full report here later.

In “Lost in Detention” Hinojosa investigates the inner workings of U.S. immigration law, focusing especially on the detention and deportation of undocumented individuals in this country. Last year, Congress funded the deportation of a record 400,000 immigrants, and this number is set to be broken in 2011. This is occurring despite the Obama administration’s pledge that the Department of Homeland Security would focus on deporting only those with serious criminal records. In her documentary, Hinojosa asks how it is possible to ensure that only those with extensive criminal pasts are the ones being deported, when the sheer volume of deportations is as high as it is today.

More Fallout From Georgia's Immigration Law

E-Verify is a big failure for Georgia farmers according to this AFP story:

A controversial system called E-Verify was put in place to document "guest workers," but farmers said it wasn't working.

"Here is one provision of E-verify," said Melinda James of Osage Farms in north Georgia. "If I sign up I have to guarantee a worker 40 hours of work a week. What if it rains for a week? Well, I still have to pay the worker. I also have to contribute to the transportation of workers from their homes.

And, once again, Americans do not want the jobs that immigrants work.

Georgia attempted to fill the needs of farmers by sending probationers, or recently released prisoners, to pick crops but farmers said those workers could not handle the physical demands of long hours in the fields.

Government meddling into the economy has never worked, never in the history of mankind!  You'd think politicians would've learned their lesson by now.

Email From a Friend

A friend sent me the following message and link:

The waiting time for an educated Indian to get a U.S. permanent residence visa is now 70 years.

I am still in California most of the time working for Intel. Probably 90% of our chip architects and designers are from India or China. If we can't get those people into the USA, companies like Intel will suffer.braindrain

Thanks for the message, Martin.

The Washington Post article that he links to talks about the "brain drain" America is facing.  

This is a big problem for the U.S. because immigrants have founded 52 percent of Silicon Valley’s companies and created millions of American jobs. This won’t be the case in the future.

Unfortunately, as long as America keeps inching closer and closer toward socialism, the "brain drain" will continue.  There was a time when people from Europe and Asia fled to America to escape the statism of their native countries.  How sad and scary is it that now people are feeling the need to flee the US?

Famous Immigrant of the Week

Today, we are able to "shine a spotlight" on Nikola Tesla because of his invention.  From About.com:Nikola Tesla 2

During his lifetime, Tesla invented fluorescent lighting, the Tesla induction motor, the Tesla coil, and developed the alternating current (AC) electrical supply system that included a motor and transformer, and 3-phase electricity.

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of  the Austo-Hungarian Empire, region of Croatia. His father was a Serbian Orthodox Priest and his mother was an inventor in her own right of household appliances. Tesla studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt in 1873, the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague. At first, he intended to specialize in physics and mathematics, but soon he became fascinated with electricity.

Before going to America, Tesla joined Continental Edison Company in Paris where he designed dynamos. While in Strassbourg in 1883, he privately built a prototype of the induction motor and ran it successfully. Unable to interest anyone in Europe in promoting this radical device, Tesla accepted an offer to Nikola Tesla 1work for Thomas Edison in New York. His childhood dream was to come to America to harness the power of Niagara Falls.

Young Nikola Tesla came to the United States in 1884. Tesla spent the next 59 years of his productive life living in New York. Tesla set about improving Edison’s line of dynamos while working in Edison’s lab in New Jersey. It was here that his divergence of opinion with Edison over direct current versus alternating current began. This disagreement climaxed in the war of the currents as Edison fought a losing battle to protect his investment in direct current equipment and facilities.

This information comes from the Tesla Memorial Society of New York and you can read more about Nikola Tesla on their website.

South Carolina Joins the Rights-Violating Frenzy

Following the trend of other Southern states like Arizona and Alabama, South Carolina has legislated harsh new illegal US immigration laws to crack down on migrants that do not hold a valid US visa.

You can read the full story here.

No word from the Obama administration yet as to whether or not it will bring legal action against South Carolina the way it has for Arizona and Alabama.  Stay tuned.

Americans, Once Again, Don't Want Immigrant Jobs

This New York Times article, once again, shows that most Americans are simply not willing to do the work of immigrants.

This year, though, with tough times lingering and a big jump in the minimum wage under the [H-2A] program, to nearly $10.50 an  hour, Mr. Harold brought in only two-thirds of his usual contingent. The other  positions, he figured, would be snapped up by jobless local residents wanting some extra summer cash.

“It didn’t take me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” Mr. Harold said, standing in his onion field on a recent afternoon as a crew of workers from Mexico cut the tops off yellow onions and bagged them.

Six hours was enough, between the 6 a.m. start time and noon lunch break, for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply never came back and gave no reason. Twenty-five of them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work was too hard. On the Harold migrant farmersfarm, pickers walk the rows alongside a huge harvest vehicle called a mule train, plucking ears of corn and handing them up to workers on the mule who box them and lift the crates, each weighing 45 to 50 pounds.

“Farmers have to bear almost all the labor market risk because [under the H-2A program] they must prove no one really was available, qualified or willing to work,” said Dawn D. Thilmany, a professor of agricultural economics at Colorado State University. “But the only way to offer proof is to literally have a field left unharvested.”

With food prices already increasing over the past year, do we really need to leave crops rotting in the fields?  And there are similar stories in other states, like Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Of course, the basic moral premise here is that these farmers have a right to their property, a right to their businesses and have the right to hire whomever they please to work in their fields.  Unfortunately, our government is violating these farmers' rights by arbitrarily restricting immigration, and it needs to stop before even more damage is done to our already-struggling economy.

Weekly Quote

"There is a surefire way to create jobs now for American citizens," Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said on the House floor. "Evict all illegal aliens from America and immediately open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans.

"The eviction of illegal aliens from America has the side benefit of eliminating the abundance of cheap, illegal alien labor, which, in turn, forces blue-collar wages up, thus helping American families afford and pursue the American Dream."

Because Americans are lined up to pick fruit, dig potatoes out the ground, mow lawns and clean hotel toilets?  And he acts as though there aren't enough jobs to go around.  (Well, thanks to the government, there aren't at the moment, but that could be quickly and easily remedied!)

This Marxist view of America's finite pie is old and tired.  You'd think Republicans, the supposed defenders of capitalism who say they'll fix the economy, would know this. 

Mr. Brooks, go back to school, learn about the capitalism your party claims to defend, then help implement a moral government that protects individual rights instead of violating them.

Linda Chavez on Regan-Style Immigration Reform

In a recent Townhall article, Linda Chavez writes about the Republican Party's attempts to win over Latino voters and what they ought to be doing.

You'd never know it by listening to the GOP presidential hopefuls, but the Republican Party is launching a major effort to woo Hispanic voters in next year's election. The reason is simple: demographics. Unless the GOP wins a larger percentage of Hispanic votes in key states next year than it did in 2008, the White House may be out of reach, despite President Obama's unpopularity.

In 1980, when Reagan was running for the GOP nomination against Texan George H. W. Bush, he had this to say: "Rather than talking about putting up a fence ... why don't we make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit? And then, while they are working and earning, they can pay taxes here."

The illegal immigration issue is easy to solve -- and at far less cost than building a nearly 2,000-mile fence along our southern border. Create a legal way for workers willing to do jobs that Americans shun -- even during periods of high unemployment -- and you will eliminate about 90 percent of illegal immigration. And those new, legal workers will pay taxes, buy American services and products, rent and buy homes that now sit vacant, and bolster the economies of communities that are now suffering.

Ms. Chavez concludes that if the GOP Presidential hopefuls want a chance at winning the Latino vote and the election, they ought to sound more like the Gipper.

(H/T to Paul Lemke for linking us to this great article!)

Quotes About Alabama's New Immigration Law

This article features interesting quotes from Alabama residents about their new immigration law.  Here are a few I'd like to share.

William Burkes, local farmer:

"There's a big concern for next year. I'm cutting back. We won't plant as much because we don't know what kind of labor we will have."

Keith Smith, farmer:

"If you want to solve the immigration problem, quit eating.”

Brian Hardin, assistant director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's governmental and agricultural programs:

"We've got farmers who have already lost crops this summer and this fall. It's hot work. It's difficult work and it's work that most people don't want to do for a long time.”

Jose Carlos Pineda, 13-year-old son of Guadalupe Pineda-Rios, owner of Foley La Michaoacana market:

"From night to the morning, his dream went away. If the law keeps going, he might have to close. And if the business closes, he has to leave."

Victor Spezzini, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama:

This is a step backward in time for Alabama. We are going back to a time of laws similar to Jim Crow laws, but now directed at immigrant communities.”

Van Phillips, principal, Center Point High School:

I’m not INS. It’s not my job to police who’s legal, who’s illegal.”

Andre Segura, attorney at ACLU:

This law is much worse than Arizona…[The legislation] threatens public safety and undermines American values.”

J.D. Crowe, editorial cartoonist for Mobile Press-Register:

Alabama needs insurance reform and better education and better jobs and oh, I don't know, a hundred other things before we need a tough new immigration law that stresses out farmers, law enforcement, school officials, people in line at the DMV and everyone with a tan.”

Famous Immigrant of the Week

Today I'd like to honor one of my favorite actors who has performed in some of my favorite films, the debonair Cary Grant.  From Biography.com:Cary Grant BW

To escape poverty and a fractious family, Archie Leach ran away from  home at age 13 to perform as a juggler with the Bob Pender Troupe of comedians and acrobats. He frequently worked in music halls in London, where he acquired a Cockney accent. Leach made the United States his home during the company's American tour of 1920, and for the next several years he honed his performing skills in such disparate pursuits as a barker at Coney Island, a stilt walker at Steeplechase Park, and a straight man in vaudeville shows. His performances throughout the country in numerous stage musicals and comedies during the late 1920s and early '30s led to a contract with Paramount Pictures in 1932. Studio executives thought “Archie Leach” was an unsuitable name for a leading man and rechristened the actor “Cary Grant,” a name he would legally adopt in 1941.

Grant went on to perform in some of my favorite films, such as Arsenic and Old Lace, North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief and The Philadelphia Story.  You can read more about Grant at The Internet Movie Database.

The classic crop duster scene from North by Northwest:

More Fallout from Alabama's Tough New Immigration Law

After a federal judge upholds parts of Alabama's new immigration law, Latinos begin to leave town.  From this New York Times article:

The judge, Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, upheld the parts of the law   allowing state and local police to ask for immigration papers during routine traffic stops, rendering most contracts with illegal immigrants unenforceable and requiring schools to ascertain the immigration status of children at registration time.

By Monday afternoon, 123 students had withdrawn from the schools in this small town in the northern hills, leaving behind teary and confused classmates. Scores more were absent. Statewide, 1,988 Hispanic students were absent on Friday, about 5 percent of the entire Hispanic population of the school system.

Many of these students are likely US citizens.  I can't imagine it will be good for Alabama or the rest of the country to have these children taken from their parents or kept out of schools.  Non-educated, unwanted youth tend to make effective criminals.

Critics of the law, particularly farmers, contractors and home builders, say the measure has already been devastating, leaving rotting crops in fields and critical shortages of labor. They say that even fully documented Hispanic workers are leaving, an assessment that seems to be borne out in interviews here. The legal status of family members is often mixed — children are often American-born citizens — but the decision whether to stay rests on the weakest link.

And based on this Reason article, Americans don't want immigrant jobs anyway!Alabama Map

“This needed to be done years ago,” Shannon Lolling, 36, who has been unemployed for over a year, said of the law.

Mr. Lolling’s problem seemed to be with the system that had brought the illegal-immigrant workers here, not with the workers themselves.

“That’s why our jobs went south to Mexico,” he said. “They pay them less wages and pocket the money, keep us from having jobs.”

Yes, Mr. Lolling's problem is with the "system" and was created by the US government and its mixed economy.  Americans need to educate themselves about capitalism and start voting for the politicians who will implement it.  That alone will keep jobs in America and Americans at work.

Awful laws, like this legislation in Alabama, will not cure America of the problems it currently faces.  It will only create new ones.

More Anxiety over E-Verify

Florida's fruit and vegetable growers expressed concern about E-Verify at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association's 68th annual meeting.  From this Palm Beach Post article:

Florida's fruit and vegetable growers say their biggest challenge is ensuring they have enough workers to pick their crops and get them onto grocery shelves.

"The whole immigration reform issue needs to be addressed at the federal level," said Marie Bedner, whose family owns Bedner's Farm Fresh Market west of Boynton Beach. "In Georgia, they had no labor to pick the crops. They rotted in the field."

"E-Verify is a jobs killer, but only for illegal workers," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said in Washington. "For Americans and legal workers, it is a jobs protector."

Mr. Smith failed to notice that Americans do not want these jobs

This Weekly Quote from a few weeks ago is applicable here:

Because the truth is, today's immigrants, as they have for generation after generation, work the longest hours at the hardest jobs for the lowest pay, jobs that are just about impossible to fill. - Luis Gutierrez

Food prices are already on the rise in the still-struggling US economy.  I am scared to think of how high they'll go when food is left to rot on the ground or we're forced to pay union wages to our fruit pickers.

The Effects of AZ SB1070 on Arizona's Youth

A study was just released by the University of Arizona that "summarizes the perspectives of teachers, parents, and students themselves on how young people have been impacted by the law's passage."

Among the report's findings, "A school counselor who specializes in working with students who live without their parents reported that the number of students she served nearly doubled after the passage of SB 1070. She attributed much of this leap to the fact that many parents left the state and left their children behind to complete their schooling."  And, "A number of youth spoke of their reluctance to contact police when they otherwise might, out of a fear that police would call immigration authorities."

Is this really the America Arizonans wanted to create?  And keep in mind, the law hasn't been fully implemented due to a court injunction.  This is only part of the mess it's created so far.

You can read the full report here.

Weekly Quote

In fact, allowing immigrants to have licenses actually improves homeland security by allowing our government to track who is in our borders. - Joe Baca

Once Again, Immigrants Improperly Blamed

In this Forbes article, conservatives once again blame immigrants for the problems of the drug war and an insecure border.  Here are a few excerpts along with my response:

"I do believe that the concept out of Washington that the border is as secure as it has ever been is not actually factual," said U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican. "The federal government is probably doing more than it has in recent years but the border ... is still not secure."

Poe, a member of the House Judiciary committee's subcommittee on immigration policy and enforcement, said from the start that he didn't want to combine border security and immigration. But since a secure border is the prerequisite many Republicans have set for immigration reform and the goalpost Obama accused Republicans of moving during his May speech in El Paso, immigration remained the unspoken presence at the hearing on the campus of the University of Texas-Brownsville.

This, despite the fact that:

The violent crime rate in El Paso, across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's most violent city, is lower than any other large city in Texas with the exception of Plano and significantly lower than Houston, which is in Poe's district.

In addition, this violence is being blamed on immigrants which is simply unfair and untrue.  Most of the violence in Mexican border towns is caused by America's war on drugs and the pressure we've put on the corrupt Mexican government and its military to do something about it.

Homicides commonly go unsolved in Mexico, where more than 35,000 have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on organized crime.

As long as we continue to fight this drug war and pressure other countries to go along with us, you will continue to see people fleeing the war torn areas for a better life.  Furthermore, you will continue to see black markets in human and drug smuggling as long as the government has outlawed both immigration and drugs.  (Which is no different than the soaring crime rates and booze smuggling that happened during Prohibition.)

And finally, if you want to apprehend the real criminals (such as those who trespass on farms and ranches along the US/Mexico border), open the border to the peaceful people who are coming here to look for work and a better life.  By allowing the honest people to enter in designated check points, you force the criminals out into the open where they will have nowhere to hide.

This idea that we must have a secure border before we can have meaningful immigration reform is putting the cart before the horse.  Meaningful immigration reform (and the elimination of government-created black markets) must happen so that we can have a safe border.

Pragmatic Immigration Reform Won't Work

Steven Taylor hits the nail on the head in this Outside the Beltway article.  He correctly identifies the practical problems caused by short-term, pragmatic thinking.  Here's an excerpt:

[From this AP article] Farmers in one of Alabama’s leading agricultural areas asked legislators Monday to make emergency changes to the state’s tough new law against illegal immigration, saying millions of dollars of crops are at risk in coming weeks because of a sudden lack of hands for harvest.

Shockingly, simplistic solutions to complex problems are not solutions at all and, in the end, cause a whole set of new problems.  We need a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that actually takes into consideration the realities of the market forces at work that draw labor to the US in the first place.

(H/T to Paul Hsieh)