Famous Immigrant of the Week

Last week, I started watching the new season of Dancing with the Stars.  One  of this season's celebrities, William Levy, I'd never heard of before.  Turns out, he's alreadyWilliam Levy Gutierrez famous in the Latino television market and now, thanks to DWTS, he's becoming a huge sensation with the rest of America!  I'm already a huge fan, and I think you ladies will see why!

From the biography on his Facebook page:

William Levy (born William Levy GutiƩrrez) was born on August 29, 1980, in Cojimar, Havana Cuba. He is the oldest of four siblings. He and his family immigrated to Miami before his 15th birthday.

After dropping out of college, he worked as a model, then Levy moved into television acting and then film in the Latino market.  Let's hope he quickly invades the rest of television and film!

Here's Levy talking about his life and fame to ABC News:

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More Blaming of Immigrants for the Welfare State

A common argument I hear against immigration is that we don't need a further  drain on the American welfare state (i.e., health care, social security, school system, etc.) As we've pointedImmigrant Crossing Sign out before, the problem with the welfare state is the existence of the welfare state, but many like to claim that stopping the flow of immigration into this country will somehow help or solve the problem.

Under that logic, we should make having kids illegal.  After all, every child born becomes a burden to the system, another mouth to feed, another brain to educate, another job to eventually fill.  Of course this is preposterous, especially coming from a pregnant woman, but hear me out. 

There are arguably 10-20 million undocumented immigrants in the country, which have accumulated over the past couple decades.  By contrast, 4 million children are born each year in the US.  If you want to worry about the welfare state from the standpoint of adding people to the welfare rolls, the second number is way more worrying than the first.

Let's take a look at the state of California. California is nearly bankrupt and also has more undocumented immigrants than any other state in the Union (facts that many like to claim are correlated.) The argument is, if we kick out all of the immigrants or, at the very least, stop any new ones from coming in, California could somehow magically thrive.

California isn't going down the crap hole because of immigration. Their deficit this year is over $19 billion. Any problem that immigrants supposedly contribute to is a larger structural problem that barring immigrants won't fix. Open immigration even buys time because, at worst, economists feel that they have no effect either way on wages, but due to structural changes that immigrants often contribute to (freeing up labor for more specialized tasks) further immigration contributes to the rise in standard of living.  For example, an immigrant's positive effect on the economy isn't restricted to just the taxes he pays, but he saves his employer money, which allows further investment into that business (more higher paying jobs, managers, expanding business, etc.)

In reality, you can't violate the rights of immigrants and employers to save America or her welfare state. Barring them is evil because it prevents individuals from coming here and doing nothing more harmful than making a living. It is impractical because, as a matter of fact, you'll torpedo quite a few already struggling industries if you really got serious about immigration enforcement. If you think the tax situation in California is bad now, just kick out all the illegals and see how much worse it gets when businesses flee the state twice as fast.

Of course, when one looks at all of the facts and the problems of the welfare state rationally, it's easy to conclude that the problem is the existence of the welfare state, not the population, and the solution is capitalism.  Let's keep our eye on the ball and not blame immigrants who will be, as it stands, victims of the same Ponzi scheme.

Weekly Quote

The following snippet is from an instant message conversation I had with a rights-respecting friend the other day.  It's too humorous not to use it as my quote this week!

I remember once when someone said "But lots of immigrants might come and take control of the country from the locals"

What a travesty that would be!

It's not like that's the exact story of the [USA's] founding or anything.

- Roberto Sarrionandia

The US' First Immigration Law is as Arbitrary and Rights-Violating as Current Laws

From Politico.com:1790 US Flag

On this day [March 26th] in 1790, the second session of the first Congress approved  the new nation’s initial effort to codify the rules under which foreign-born persons could become U.S. citizens.

The Naturalization Act of 1790 specified that “any alien, being a free white person,” could apply for citizenship, so long as he or she lived in the United States for at least two years, and in the state where the application was filed for at least a year.

Politicians are so creative when it comes to ways to violate individual rights and they are downright masters at the arbitrary.  Why was citizenship only for whites?  Why the two year residency clause?  Why not one or three? 

Frankly, I am not sure if citizenship ought to be granted to just anyone who applies for it, and I don't know that anyone should have it by birthright.  Of course, the real question is, what does it mean to be a citizen?  What special privileges would that get you in a society that does respect and protect individual rights (since all individuals have the same rights)?  Should everyone have the privilege of voting as long as they reside in a country, for example, or should voting be reserved only for citizens?

These are questions I do not currently have answers for, but I will continue to think on them.  If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment.  

As a side note, here's another interesting tidbit from the article:

The nation’s eighth president, Martin Van Buren, was the first one to be born in the United States after the Constitution was enacted.

Image of the Week

Took All Jobs

Famous Immigrant of the Week

This week's famous immigrant is the lovely and talented Hedy Lamarr!  From theHedy Lamarr biography page of her website:

Often called “The Most Beautiful Woman in Films,” Hedy Lamarr’s beauty and screen presence made her one of the most popular actresses of her day.

She was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on November 9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria. At 17 years old Hedy starred in her first film, a German project called Geld Auf Der Strase. Hedy continued her film career by working on both German and Czechoslavakian productions. The 1932 German film Exstase brought her to the attention of Hollywood producers, and she soon signed a contract with MGM.

And from biography.com:

In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or "Secret Communications System," that later became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones.

Although her film career came to an end in the late 50s, Lamarr is still known for her beauty and brains!

Weekly Quote

"Throughout our history, immigrants have come to America, established themselves and been joined by other members of their families. That process has brought us energetic individuals and strong families who have enriched our economy and way of life." - Stuart Anderson, CATO Institute (The Los Angeles Times, February 1996)

Image of the Week

I am posting two images today, the latter to disprove the former.

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US incomes only go up

Famous Immigrant of the Week - Mikhail Baryshnikov

This week we feature ballet dancer, actor and Russian defector, MikhailMikhail Baryshnikov Baryshnikov!  Baryshnikov was born January 27, 1948, in Riga, Latvia.  He began studying ballet in 1960 and defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 while performing in the US.   

From his page on The Kennedy Center website:

Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union in 1974 in search for artistic and personal freedom in the West. He made his debut with the American Ballet Theatre that same year, dancing Giselle with Natalia Makarova. He stayed with ABT for the next four years, voraciously learning and defining new roles, expanding his horizons as well as those of male dancing. Memorably, he also staged ABT's productions of The Nutcracker,Don Quixote and Cinderella.

In 1978, Baryshnikov left ABT for New York City Ballet, where he could work with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. He returned to ABT in 1980, not only as principal dancer but also as artistic director, a distinguished position he held for almost a decade.

Baryshnikov has also enjoyed a successful movie and television career, guest-starring in such shows as Sex and the City and the movie White Nights with Gregory Hines, which is about a Russian dancer defecting to the US.  Here is a clip of Baryshnikov dancing in White Nights:

Weekly Quote

From Ayn Rand Answers:

Questioner: "What is your attitude towards immigration? Doesn't open immigration have a negative effect on a country's standard of living?"

Ayn Rand: "You don't know my conception of self-interest. No one has the right to pursue his self-interest by law or by force, which is what you're suggesting. You want to forbid immigration on the grounds that it lowers your standard of living - which isn't true, though if it were true you'd still have no right to close the borders. You're not entitled to any 'self-interest' that injures others, especially when you can't prove that open immigration affects your self-interest. You can't claim that anything others may do - for example, simply through competition - is against your self-interest. But above all, aren't you dropping a personal context? How could I advocate restricting immigration when I wouldn't be alive today if our borders had been closed?" (Ford Hall Forum, 1973)

Comparing US Immigration Laws to North Korea and Other Awful Nations

Another popular argument I hear about immigration, usually amongst Conservatives, has to do with other countries having much more restrictive and harsh immigration policies than the US.  I always find these argument amazingly ignorant and ineffective.

Recently, a friend of mine dealt with this very argument on Facebook, then blogged about it.  You can read the full blog post here, but here's a preview:

What would you do if you happened to be born in some repressive pest-hole, rather than in the land of opportunity? Would you passively resign yourself to suffer and die? Or would you break an unjust law for the opportunity of a life worth living for you and your family? If you have any ambition to live a successful and happy life, you would become an illegal immigrant.

Image of the Week

Polish Immigrant

One of the more tasty side-effects of immigration…great food! (Credit)

Famous Immigrant of the Week - Elizabeth Taylor

I can't believe I didn't use Elizabeth Taylor for my famous immigrant of the weekElizabeth-Taylor back in 2011 when she passed away, but maybe that's because, like so many other Americans, I didn't even realize she was an immigrant!

The lovely and talented, Elizabeth Taylor, with her signature violet eyes and raven black hair, was arguably one of the most beautiful women to have ever lived. 

Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on February 27, 1932, in London, England, Elizabeth Taylor is one of Hollywood's most celebrated actresses.  She is known not only for her beauty, but for her challenging roles in critically acclaimed films and her unusual personal life, including eight marriages.  Here's a bit about her from her page at biography.com:

While her love life continued to make international headlines, Taylor continued to shine showed as an actress. She delivered a riveting performance in the drama A Place in the Sun, and turned things up even more in 1956 with the film adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel,Giant that co-starred James Dean. Two years later, she sizzled on the big screen in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The following year, she starred in another Williams classic, Suddenly Last Summer. Taylor earned her first Oscar, capturing the coveted Best Actress award for her role as call girl in Butterfield 8 (1960).

Here's a clip of Taylor in Cleopatra as the movie's namesake enters Rome (with two-time husband, Richard Burton.)  It's quite the spectacle!

Weekly Quote

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." ~Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Why We Can't Wait, 1963

New Feature: Immigration Image of the Week

Someone recently forwarded me the following photo (thanks FC!) and it gave me an idea for a new, weekly feature; Immigration Image of the Week.  We already have two weekly features here at MoE, Weekly Quote and Famous Immigrant of the Week, and they seem to be popular with our readers and generate lots of retweets, comments, and Facebook shares, so why not try another?  Sometimes images are more powerful than words.

Donation in name of Immigration

Famous Immigration of the Week - Natalie Portman

This week, our famous immigrant is the lovely and talented Natalie Portman.Natalie Portman

Natalie (Hershlag) Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel on June 9, 1981.  When she was a young child, her parents immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Long Island, NY. 

Portman began modeling at the age of 11, but soon after decided she'd rather pursue acting.  From her page at biography.com:

Portman made her film debut in Luc Besson's memorable 1994 feature, The Professional. The demanding role, which featured her as hitman's apprentice, caught the attention of critics and audiences. The following year, she sustained her popularity with a brief but captivating performance as Al Pacino's troubled daughter in Heat(1995).

She's been in a series of films since then, including the three Star Wars prequels (and all the while earning her degree at Harvard.)  Last year, she won an Oscar for her star role in the dark and disturbing film, Black Swan.  Here's the trailer for my favorite Portman film, V for Vendetta:

Immigration Improperly Blamed for Death

This Reason.com article is about a tragic situation made worse by misdirecting blame to an entire segment of the population.  A woman's son is killed by a drunk driver, but instead of putting the blame on the individual who chose to drive drunk and violate the rights of her son, and fight against drunk driving, she chooses to blame the immigrant community and fight for less immigration.  From the article:

But Maloney, as quoted by the Boston Herald, really does think her son's death has something to do with her state's lax enforcement of immigration laws:

"My son paid the ultimate price with his life because Massachusetts is a safe haven for illegal immigrants,” Maloney told members of the Judiciary Committee. “The real question I ask is, Why would illegal immigrants not come to Massachusetts when we are so willing to provide them with jobs and free services they could not get in their native countries?”

Her loss is terrible, but it should have no relevance to whether Massachusetts passes this immigration law. The backers of the bill are stressing the increased penalties for unlicensed driving, but they also admit that the death of Denice is part of the motivation.

But equating Guaman's killer recklessness with proof that illegal immigrants are inherently dangerous is as foolish as Arizona passing their controversial "papers, please" bill in response to an illegal immigrant murdering someone. Which (to some extent) they did, noted Cato's Daniel Griswold in May 2010. He also wrote the the problem with illegal immigration crack-downs is that:

"Absent real reforms, ramped up enforcement will only drive illegal workers deeper underground, raise smuggling fees, and divert law enforcement resources away from apprehending real criminals who truly do threaten public safely."

There are good and bad people all over this world and they're from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds.  Some of those bad people commit crimes, and no matter where they are, they should be brought to justice for those crimes.  It's unjust to blame an entire group of people (most of which are here to find work and make a better life for their families) for the actions of one or a few.  As rational human beings, it is our responsibility to judge individuals based on the facts and act accordingly.