Where Arizona Went Wrong on Immigration

On April 23rd, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into legislation one of the strictest anti-illegal immigration measures in decades.    It has sparked nationwide protests  and received international criticism, especially from Latino and Hispanic dominated countries.

The act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law, authorizes state and local law enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Most Americans agree that the time has come for us as a nation to have a serious debate about immigration and illegal aliens.  Over the past few years the number of illegal aliens entering our country has continued to skyrocket.    

The illegal immigrant population of the United States in 2008 was estimated by the Center for Immigration Studies to be about 11 million people, down from 12.5 million people in 2007.   According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, in 2005, 57% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico; 24% were from other Latin American countries, primarily from Central America; 9% were from Asia; 6% were from Europe; and 4% were from the rest of the world.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Many states such as California, Texas, and Florida, have had to deal with an overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants and its placed a strain on their state and federal resources such as emergency room visits, childcare and in some cases frequent incarceration, all of which is paid for by these respective states. 

State of Residence of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population: January 2000 and 2006
State of residence Estimated population in January Percent of total Percent change Average annual change
All states 11,555,000 100 37 515,000
California 2,930,000 25 13 53,333
Texas 1,640,000 14 50 91,667
Florida 980,000 8 23 30,000
Illinois 550,000 5 25 18,333
New York 540,000 5
Arizona 500,000 4 52 28,333
Georgia 490,000 4 123 45,000
New Jersey 430,000 4 23 13,333
North Carolina 370,000 3 42 18,333
Washington 280,000 2 65 18,333
Other states 2,950,000 26 69 200,000

 

So the idea of implementing a stringent immigration policy is a good idea, but Arizona dramatically failed in two key facets of their implementation.   First of all, Hispanics make up 30% of the Arizona population, and many of them are Mexican-Americans who are second and third generation citizens.  Most of them support tougher illegal immigration laws, but apparently no one from the Arizona legislature bothered to build consensus among these Mexican-Americans in their efforts to address immigration.

The failure to reach out to this core constituency reflects the arrogance and haste with which their legislature enacted such a controversial law, which basically requires Arizona state police to racially profile suspected illegal aliens.   And this is why the new law has created so much controversy—-imagine African-Americans being randomly asked to provide ID and proof of citizenship in an effort to prove that they’re not illegal African immigrants.

The other facet that Arizona failed to consider is how to actually implement their new immigration law.    Since the burden of enforcing this new law ultimately falls upon their state police, they could have simply increased the number of random DUI and license check stops in the areas where they have the most illegal alien arrests.  This would have helped to serve notice to those communities and businesses that hire illegal aliens that the State was cracking down on illegal immigrants.

However, the real problem that Arizona and many other states face is not the deportation of illegal aliens, but their inevitable return to the U.S.   Many of those Mexicans who are arrested and sent back to their home country typically return within a few days via elaborate underground tunnels and clandestine trucking operations.   

The L.A. Times reported a while back on the discovery of numerous underground smuggling tunnels which are well lit and insulated, and most likely sponsored by the drug gangs.  In some  cases they originate in a Mexican warehouse and culminate into a Mexican affiliated warehouse in many parts of Southern California and Arizona.  These tunnels are the lifeline for notorius drug and people smugglers, known as “coyotes” or “wolves of the border” dating back to 1923.

Recently, Arizona’s request for an additional 250 National Guard to secure their border was denied by the Department of Defense.   This may seem like a knee-jerk denial by the Obama administration, but in reality the Governor has the authority to call in the National Guard at her disposal, except in this instance, she clearly wants the Federal government to pick up the tab. 

Arizona should be working with the Obama administration on a full scale effort to uncover these tunnels and permanently plug them up.  Otherwise, they’re simply spinning their wheels and wasting resources in their attempts to eject illegal aliens.

Until this aspect of immigration is addressed, the U.S. will continue to be inundated by Mexicans and other immigrants who find it easy to not only enter our country, but return on a repeated basis, without hindrance from our government.

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First Amendment in a Digital World

I was recently notified by a new client that someone had posted a very disparaging comment about me and my business on a website entitled RipOffReport.com.  This is a website that’s supposed to be a public forum for consumers who wish to express their grievances against companies that may be engaged in consumer fraud.    Initially, this was very troubling for me because I was completely flabbergasted at the notion of a new client presenting me with extremely derogatory public information about my company.

But, I explained the situation to my client and assured them that this was a bizarre situation whereby, a former client attempted to hire one of my candidate’s without compensating me.    Later I discovered that the candidate had inside contacts with the client and was using me to bolster his chances of gaining employment with my client. 

Apparently, the candidate was able to successfully circumvent me and eventually received an offer from the company without my knowledge.  Which means that both the candidate and the client were attempting to conceal their dealings in an effort to avoid paying me a placement fee.   In response to their surreptitious efforts, I chastised both the candidate and the client for attempting to deceive me and my company. 

The candidate feeling scorned, felt obligated to post disparaging and defamatory remarks online about my company.    I’m sure that many business people have encountered the very same situation that I experienced;  and with the increase and popularity of sites such as RipOff Report.com and other similar sites, it makes me wonder if private citizens like myself are the ones being “ripped off”.

Every citizen has the right to express their freedom of speech under the protection of the First Amendment, but sites like Rip Off Report perpetuate an environment where anonymous people can post spurious comments about businesses, without VETTING the comments before they’re posted.   

If their website was really interested in citizen’s rights, why wouldn’t they have forwarded this candidate’s grievance to me before posting it on their website?

The proliferation of these sites are troubling because it allows anonymous people to post defamatory comments about businesses, forcing the business owners into a  Jerry Springer-like public brawl, except the owners are completely unaware of their opponent’s identity.

A start-up company http://www.unvarnished.com has added even more controversy to this debate by allowing anonymous people to post comments about their former co-workers.  Peter Kazanjy, a little-known San Francisco entrepreneur, has launched a controversial website that overnight has turned him into a very public and not very popular figure.  His site is like Yelp for people, a “reputation marketplace” where anyone can post anonymous reviews about anyone else.  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

If sites such as Unvarnished continue to flourish, I predict that the number of defamation lawsuits will skyrocket.   Defamation lawsuits are typically filed by former employees or public figures who seek redress for unfounded comments about their character. 

These websites create an unfair environment that perpetuate a one-sided argument and they should not be protected under the First Amendment because simply having the freedom of expression doesn’t entitle them to allow anonymous people to defame co-workers or businesses.   Nor should it automatically force the defendants into an online public arena to defend their reputation.   

It’s probably a good idea to research sites such as Unvarnished to see if someone has posted negative comments about you.  Hopefully, the public outcry will become so vociferous that Congress will have to enact protective measures, such as requiring the complainant to reveal their identity, which seems like the only way to level the playing field, so that unsuspecting citizens aren’t the ones left feeling “ripped off”.

Barrington Ross

Why Ghandi Mattered.

Mohandas K. Ghandi, through relentless political pressure and non-violent marches was able to topple a British dynasty that had ruled his beloved country of India for almost 100 years, and he accomplished this historical feat through routine fasting, prayer and political agitation.    The British in 1947 eventually conceded control of India back to the Indian people, an act which would also subsequently give birth to their primarily Muslim neighbor, Pakistan.   Ghandi was very instrumental in the formation of India’s first post- English ruled government and fought diligently to prevent the secession of Pakistan.  

His movement, which he coined Satayagraha, was founded on the principles of utilizing a strong spiritual foundation in conjunction with orchestrated political demonstrations, designed to arouse their colonial overseers and also to awaken the passion of his people in their quest for true freedom.    Under the British rule, Indian citizens were denied basic rights, such as equal access to education, inadequate sanitation, discrimination within the legal system and restrictions on purchasing of real estate.     

Through a series of calculated protests, Ghandi was able to utilize peaceful resistance as a weapon against British colonization.   In 1930, he marched to the beaches of the Dandi Sea, followed by tens of thousands of Indians.  The march received worldwide news coverage and would become a turning point in India’s relations with England.   Thousands of Indians were beaten and arrested for their participation in the Salt March and as a result, Ghandi became a central figure in India’s quest for emancipation.

Following this march, Ghandi was arrested and incarcerated several times, and on each occasion encouraged the British controlled court to give him the maximum sentence possible.   His brazenness and disregard of incarceration, ruffled the court and subsequently empowered Ghandi and his movement, by demonstrating to his followers that incarceration could be used as a tool to further their struggle.   

This type of civil disobedience would be replicated in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, led by the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  and also by Cesar Chavez and again in 1989, in the Tiananmen Square revolt in China.    Each of these movements were designed to demonstrate to the world the vagaries of their oppression and injustices.     MLK knew that by encouraging young blacks in the South to peacefully resist and march against their Southern persecutors, that the reaction would be nationally televised and the whole world would begin to pay attention to the struggles of disenfranchised African-Americans, once they saw the brutal attacks against young black students by the police.    Both MLK and Cesar Chavez were students of Ghandi’s non-violence  movement and implemented many of his strategies in their struggle.

MLK kept a portrait of Ghandi in his office as a reminder of the power of peace.   MLK, much like Ghandi would lead his people into a new promise land of opportunity and equality.   Each willing to pay  the ultimate price for their humanitarian efforts.        

Perhaps Ghandi’s greatest weakness was his belief that all men could be persuaded to seek spiritual solutions with regard to world affairs.   Ghandi wrote to Adolf Hitler in 1939 and encouraged him to reconsider his brutal war campaign.   Hitler replied that the English should kill Ghandi and if they couldn’t kill him, they should execute all of his followers, as a means of crushing their hopes for independence.     Clearly, Hitler was undeterred by Ghandi’s attempt to intervene in his efforts to control Europe.

However, I’m convinced that Ghandi was able to dismantle the British dynasty’s influence over his country through an unshakeable belief that through fasting, prayer and  meditation —  no obstacle would be too great, nor too insurmountable.     His life story has had a tremendous impact on my life, never before had I studied a man whose complete and singular focus on spiritual enlightenment would manifest as a peaceful weapon that would bring freedom to millions of Indian people.

After reading Ghandi’s biography in 2003, I became a vegetarian, eschewing all forms of meat and meat products.    Since then, I have reincorporated fish into my diet and occasionally I enjoy dairy products.   This regimen serves as a reminder of man’s conquest over his diet, and that through submission of your appetite and your ego, you can gain the kind of strength that could bring down an empire.

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”  -Ghandi

No Tea for Me, Please.

It’s not unusual for supporters of a particular political party to be  sorely disappointed that their candidate failed to win the big prize, but what’s emerging within the Tea Party Express is a completely different political animal, which seeks to exact all measure of restitution and revenge upon its rivals.   We’ve all seen the nasty public displays of vitriol aimed at Democratic lawmakers and others who oppose the Tea Party’s agenda.   The most notorious incident occurring shortly before the passage of the Health Care Reform Bill, where long tenured Congressmen John Lewis and Barney Frank were spit upon, called the “N-word” and threatened with physical harm as they exited the Capitol building.  After the passage of the bill, the threats against lawmakers escalated into ominous voice messages and acts of vandalism at their offices and homes.

According to the Tea Party’s website, their manifesto is to reclaim this country and scale back the federal government’s involvement in their personal lives, especially with regard to federal taxation, which sounds like an obvious repetition of Republican ideology.   And the reason it sounds so repetitious is because the Republican party actually created the Tea Party Express in response to the rising popularity of then Senator Barack Obama.

Many of us were shocked to see middle age white people, standing and shouting at televised town hall meetings, blatantly questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birthplace and referring to him as an evil Muslim.   Even John McCain seemed completely caught off guard at the mob-like mentality that was bubbling up at  Republican rallies, which eventually became public forums for people who were intent upon demonizing Obama and portraying his political ascendancy as America’s Armageddon.

When Obama assumed his role as President, divisive commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, continued to stoke the fires of dissidence within this movement by proclaiming that they wanted Obama to fail and continued to question the legitimacy of his birthplace.    The Republican party seeking an opportunity to disrupt Obama and the Democratic Congress’ agenda, seized upon the ferocity of this movement and decided to officially incorporate it into the Tea Party Express and established the Tea Party Headquarters within the GOP offices.    The Tea Party is in fact the Republican Party’s attempt to clone itself into a supposedly fresh grassroots organization, that’s designed to attract disaffected Independents and Conservative Democrats, who opposed the bank bailouts and the Stimulus Recovery Act.   But as we know from scientific discovery, clones often have fatal defects and the Tea Party appears to have many.   

Republicans weren’t prepared for the idea of a Frankenstein like faction that could eventually splinter off to become a competitor and challenge GOP candidates.   At a recent Tea Party rally, Sarah Palin pleaded with the attendees to begin to start “picking a side”, which certainly evokes images of a cunning Dr. Frankenstein attempting to coax his man-made beast back into the laboratory.    

The core constituency of the Tea Party Express are undoubtedly the same people who shouted at town hall meetings, questioned Obama’s birthplace, spat at Democratic lawmakers and vandalized their homes and offices after the passage of the Health Care Reform Bill.   The Republicans, however, conveniently distanced themselves from these acts of violence, knowing full well that they provided the forum and the atmosphere for such heinous acts to take occur.

Most Americans aren’t thrilled about the idea of paying the federal government a healthy percentage of our earnings, but as citizens we also realize that each of us benefits from the mandatory collection of taxes, which actually only accounts for about 30% of our GDP.    When compared to other highly industrialized nations such as France, England, Canada and Germany, whose tax collections account for almost 50% of their GDP, Americans are the least taxed and yet enjoy the highest standard of living.          

So the Tea Party Express could eventually run out of steam once the hysteria of America becoming an overly taxed, socialist nation, run by an evil Muslim President begins to wane.   And with the continued shift towards ultra conservatism and violence, the Republican Party as a result of their co-opting of the Tea Party movement, risks becoming less the party of Reagan and more like the party of Rush.