Tuesday, April 22, 2014

And Then There Is The Issue Of Undocumented Drugs

Have you heard the one about the documented immigrants? (Table below from Pew Hispanic Center and, unfortunately, 2009.)

Of course you haven't, because those individuals are not called "documented immigrants" but rather "legal immigrants."  Nevertheless, their counterparts who have decided not to play by the rules are not "illegal immigrants" but idealized as "undocumented workers."

Many Democrats, at least in New Jersey, have learned well from Frank Luntz on this one issue, illegal- er, uh, undocumented- immigration.  Yesterday, 200+ advocates of a bill proposed by Democrats in the New Jersey legislature to provide an undocumented/illegal immigrant a "driving privilege card" met at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral for a rally organized by Camden Churches Organized for People (well, some people, anyway).

The driving privilege card, unavailable to legal residents of New Jersey, is not a freebie.According to this report in March, "To qualify for the card, which would be valid for four years, potential drivers would have to prove both identity and residency, pass a written driver's test similar to the exam required for other New Jersey drivers, and then pass a road test."

After which, legitimacy of their undocumented/illegal status will have been conferred upon them by government.  This is not the federal government, which still maintains an effort to return to the country of origin individuals who have undocumentedly entered this country.Nonetheless, forgive immigrants (illegal or otherwise) their confusion in being granted an extraordinary privilege by government while government lurks in the background to expel them from the country.  The distinction between the state and the federal governments is one often missed even by people born, raised, and living in the USA.

When the legislation was introduced in March, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano summed up the public rationale for the move in stating “We have to look at it realistically. We have a lot of undocumented immigrants driving today and it has become a safety issue. The more individuals on road who know how to drive, who have taken a driver’s license test and a road test, the better it is for all of us.”

Perhaps a little honesty, too, would be in order.  It's really quite simple, hyperbole aside: individuals who have come here  here legally are legal immigrants; individuals who have come here illegally are illegal immigrants.  Not undocumented, not alien, but illegal.

Perhaps times have changed, and proposals such as in NJ may be an indication of how far we've come (or retreated) on this matter.  Or it may be that once such an issue gains the attention of the public, measures which would encourage illegal entry into the nation lose popularity. But flashback to October 29, 2007. Hillary Clinton was an unstoppable juggernaut on her way to the Democratic nomination for President.  The following evening, Mrs. Clinton would appear in a televised debate from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. which included the following exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. You told the Nashua, N.H., editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver’s license?
MRS. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.
We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It’s probability. So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.
I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform. ...
After an exchange between Mr. Russert and Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Mrs. Clinton jumped in:
MRS. CLINTON: I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed——
MR. DODD: Wait a minute. No, no, no. You said, yes, you thought it made sense to do it.
MRS. CLINTON: No, I didn’t, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are driving?
MR. DODD: Well, that’s a legitimate issue. But driver’s license goes too far, in my view.
MRS. CLINTON: Well, you may say that, but what is the identification if somebody runs into you today who is an undocumented worker——
MR. DODD: There’s ways of dealing with that.
MRS. CLINTON: Well, but——
MR. DODD: This is a privilege, not a right.
MRS. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer has agreed to do is to have three different licenses — one that provides identification for actually going onto airplanes and other kinds of security issues, another which is an ordinary driver’s license and then a special card that identifies the people who would be on the road.
MR. DODD: That’s a bureaucratic nightmare.
MRS. CLINTON: So it’s not the full privilege.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor’s plan to give illegal immigrants a driver’s license? You told the Nashua, N.H., paper it made a lot of sense.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you support his plan?
MRS. CLINTON: You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem. We have failed, and George Bush has failed.
Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York we want to know who’s in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows. He’s making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform.

There were other factors which culminated in nomination for Senator Obama, but Christopher Dodd had found the chink in Hillary Clinton's armor. Whether because she was seen as supporting something seemingly outrageous or simply because she was unprepared to answer a question about an issue in her home state, Mrs. Clinton's smooth glide to the nomination was over.

Yet now, nary a Democrat is able or willing to question a similar initiative in New Jersey and Republicans, realizing that there are issues far more critical to their donor class and which threaten the control and command of the political system by the 1%, generally have not found their voice.  Throughout the country- but especially in New Jersey, where Christopher J. Christie remains supreme with power envied by Vladimir Putin- social services are endless cut partly because of a (short-sighted) effort to hold the line on taxes. Yet, Democrats in several states are determined, as Chris Dodd understood 6-7 years ago, to create "a bureaucratic nightmare."

Little if anything has been accomplished nationally on illegal immigration, and perhaps making incremental changes state-by-state will wear down GOP opposition to granting citizenship to undocumented/illegal immigrants.  But until then, most reforms, incremental and spasmodic, will continue to make the situation worse for Americans, of whatever national background.

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But On A Positive Note, Sally Quinn Feels Warm All Over

God may exist. And he may have a Son, pre-existent, sinless, at one with humanity because of his mortality and also able to save sinners (constituting everyone) by his grace.

Or not. No one who is alive is able to say with certainty whether the gospel message is accurate, though contrasting views are inevitable and legitimate (though not all can be valid).

But one thing is certain.  The following view, expressed by Washington Post lifer Sally Quinn, is inaccurate, illegitimate, and worse.  In her column "On Faith," she says

Do the participants at the Seder really believe that the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, were passed over by God, and escaped to their own land? A lot of them don’t.

Do I believe in God? I’m not sure what I believe would mean the same to others. Do I believe Jesus was the Son of God? Who am I to say? Do I believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead? I don’t know.

It really doesn’t matter whether the Jews at the Seder believe. Nor does it matter that the Christians at Easter believe. What matters is the overwhelming sense of community that all of these rituals inspire.

Uh, yes it does. It does "matter" what Christians, Jews, and for that matter Muslims, believe.What does not matter as much is the "sense of community," which anyone may or may not have, which can come in various iterations, and which is ill-defined and even abstract.  Your first clue: it's a "sense" of community.

In a variation of "out of the mouth of babes," Digby, most assuredly not a Bible-believing Christian, brilliantly remarked of the above-noted quote

That's nice. I like togetherness and a sense of community too. But I just have a sneaking suspicion that an awful lot of the people who are celebrating Passover and Easter actually do believe in their religion and it does matter to them. In fact, a bunch of them might just find it a teensy bit presumptuous of Sally Quinn to dismiss their beliefs on one of the most important religious days of the year in favor of some bourgeois Sunday brunch celebration where everybody feels good about themselves.

But hey, who am I to venture an opinion? I'm not religious. But then apparently neither is Sally Quinn who writes a column in a newspaper called "On Faith." 

Why does Sally Quinn write a column in the newspaper called "On Faith" anyway?

Why, indeed.  The English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible has it (1Corinthians 15:14-18) as

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

Whether Jesus Christ was just some guy 2,000 years ago or something other than a crackpot can be debated. But if he was not as Christians believe, then surely Paul was right: if He was not raised, their faith is futile and this "sense of community" is false. If instead he was as Christians are called upon to believe, then Easter is far more than the quaint little holiday with charming Easter eggs and the bountiful ham Quinn perceives.

Quinn is an equal opportunity patronizer, writing also "I have been struggling to reconcile the pull I have between my attraction to Judaism and my sense of belonging in my church. Belief has nothing to do with it."

Yes, it does, or should.  In The Last Testament, A Memoir From God, God explains

Yea, I love it when the less observant among you claim to be "cultural Jews."

Canst thou imagine being introduced to a "cultural Christian" or a "cultural Muslim"?

Breaking news from Mt. Sinai: Judaism is a religion.

The millions of allusions to me in every single text and commentary and ritual of the past 3,000 years probably should have been a giveaway.

And from a site called "Revealing God's Treasure" comes a map of an event which doesn't matter one way or another to Sally Quinn:

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Federal Law For Thee, Not For Me

Evidently, Harry Reid is not a supporter of Cliven Bundy. At an event Thursday, the Senate Majority Leader remarked that Bundy "says that the united States is a foreign government. He doesn't pay his taxes. He doesn't pay his fees, unlike the rest of Nevada ranchers. And he doesn't follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority."

Reid stated Bundy's supporters "hold themselves out to be patriots (but) are not. They're nothing more than domestic terrorists."  Though many are armed with rifles or shotguns, the self-styled anarchists are not terrorists, but have been initially successful, with the Bureau of Land Management having returned nearly all the roughly 400 cattle seized from Bundy because he owes over $1 million in grazing fees.  While Bundy claims "what they (federal courts) have done is seized Nevada statehood, Nevada law, Clark County public land, access to the land," the Nevada constitution does not agree:

All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair, subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existence, and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.

Publicly at least, the resisters thumb their nose at the federal government, a classically politically correct tactic, and one that, ironically, immigration rights activists also have chosen. Think Progress' Aviva Shen (photo below of Baltimore's Inner Harbor from TP) joyfully reports

The Baltimore City Detention Center will start scrutinizing federal orders to hold immigrants for deportation instead of automatically granting these requests, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Friday. The policy change adds Baltimore to the growing number of cities in the U.S. resisting federal immigration policy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents often ask local jails to hold immigrants for deportation. Baltimore will now only grant these requests if the immigrant has been charged with or convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. “We will focus our efforts on complying with ICE detainers when there is an actual threat to the public’s safety,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s move comes on the heels of a Baltimore Sun investigation that found more than 40 percent of Maryland’s deportees had no criminal record at all, one of the highest percentages of any state in the nation.

The federal program Secure Communities was intended to catch and deport dangerous criminals by coordinating with local jails. In reality, the vast majority of “convicted criminals” deported through Secure Communities were guilty only of traffic violations or civil immigration offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa. Just 12 percent of deportees in 2013 were convicted of serious crimes like murder, sexual assault, or drug trafficking.

While deporting mainly harmless immigrants, Secure Communities has also seriously damaged immigrant neighborhoods’ relationships with law enforcement. Immigrants are afraid to report crimes or come forward as witnesses for fear of being deported or getting a family member deported.

Because of this, California and Connecticut have passed laws to prohibit police officers from honoring ICE hold requests except in cases of serious crimes. Several cities, including Chicago, Santa Clara, and New York City, have adopted policies to defy ICE. Most recently, Philadelphia’s mayor signed an executive order to forbid police cooperation with ICE unless the federal government gets a warrant, making it one of the most progressive cities for immigrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a law enforcement agency.   Inconveniently, Section 2 of Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution reads

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

This is generally interpreted as

The Supremacy Clause establishes federal law as the highest form of law in the United States legal system.  It requires the state judges to defer to federal law even if state laws or constitutions conflict.  The Constitution mandates that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

When Congress passes a law within its constitutional authority, the state law must defer.  State constitutions are subordinate to federal statutes and treaties.  This constitutional requirement is called  preemption.

California and Connecticut have defied a federal agency by refusing to honor detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement while other cities are defying ICE in their own manner. This bears a similarity to nullification, a practice popular when- wait, let this minister tell us 

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

Laws ought to be obeyed, whether by wealthy southwestern ranchers with an extreme sense of entitlement, city or state officials dismissive of federal efforts to maintain some control over the border, or companies defying laws affording protection to pregnant women.

HAPPY PASSOVER                                                                       HAPPY EASTER

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