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June 28, 2007

Comments

hil: need to close italics.

interim measure.

Lots of italics.

Hilzoy, many many Americans do believe the country is being lost due to illegal immigration. They do believe Mexican/Americans want to reconquer their old territories. They do believe that all that is good about American culture (whatever that is) is being destroyed.

These are the same people (for the most part) that also believe that Islamic jihadists are an existential threat to this country.

When the Soviet Union imploded, I predicted to some friends that Americans would need to look elsewhere for enemies. Illegal immigrants and jihadists fit the bill nicely.

This is not complex: If you want immigration reform, you need the support of people who want the borders secured, and immigration laws enforced. You don't need the support of people who want immigration choked down to negligable levels, you just need the people at the margins, who are quite open to high levels of legal immigration. Such as myself.

The problem, of course, is that any compromise requires trust, and people who want border enforcement have no reason to extend any trust after 20 years of non-enforcement of laws already on the books.

The solution is quite simple: A couple of years of honestly trying to enforce immigration laws, to build the level of trust necessary to make a compromise possible.

If you're not willing to see that happen, then trust is indeed inappropriate, and there won't be any compromise.

Not to pick on your post, which I think was insightful, but I need to correct the Post. It wasn't a "bipartisan" filibuster. The box score was pretty much the same as the last time around. Democrats (33-Yes, 15-No), Republicans (12-Yes, 37-No) and the independents split (I'd guess Lieberman-Yes and Sanders-No, but that's a guess). The Republican "No" votes were only 4 votes short of making their filibuster stick all on their own. Personally, as a Democrat, I see this a good maneuvering by Harry Reid - demonstrating, for the second time, that Republicans are the ones blocking comprehensive immigration reform.

I am going to take you at your word when you say you are genuinely curious about the "rights" reactions to this issue.

Being a conservative myself, I rarely, if ever, comment on posts on "left" blogs, but, I am going to, then I am going to leave.

My personal problem is that we have WONDERFUL immigrants here that work their tails off for a better life and I believe strongly we should open our arms to them and welcome them and help them.

With that said, we are a nation of laws and if the FIRST act in coming to our country is to do so by breaking our laws instead of using due process, then why on earth do we want "illegal" immigrants here?

If they cannot respect our laws or processes, then I simply do not understand why anyone wants them here.

Come legally or get out.

I cannot make it any simpler than that.

Many on the left (I am NOT accusing you), but many think that to be against illegal immigration or against offering those that broke our laws to get here, ANY type of Amnesty, no matter what they call it, many think it means we are racists or don't want any immigrants here and that argument is intentionally intellectually dishonest.

Just because we expect people to use the "front door" and respect our laws, doesn't mean we hate them, they simply need to go to the back of the line and do it the LEGAL way.

For the record, just as it is almost impossible for a conservative to understand the thinking of a liberal, it is JUST as impossible for a liberal to understand the thinking of a conservative.

We BOTH make assumptions because our minds do not work in the same manner.

Thanks for your time and I hope I made mine and many other conservative opinions clear.

"A couple of years of honestly trying to enforce immigration laws, to build the level of trust necessary to make a compromise possible."

I have literally never seen a credible proposal for this from the enforcement-only-folks about how to do this. Could you point me to one?

Also, I love how the phrases "due process" and the "rule of law" get thrown around in this debate as if they mean "jumping through DHS's hoops" (as if the legal process is available to these people & they just stubbornly refuse to follow it), and "law and order".

There is, very frequently, no legal way available; no line to get on; no front door open.

Hilzoy, there seems to be a big problem with your thesis, and that is that it assumes that this would have been acceptable to the base in say 2003 when Bush was riding high. Imagine that hypothetically, it was 1998; do you honestly think that touchback would be less popular with the conservative base than it is today?

Like Hilzoy, I having a hard time buying the rule of law rationale/motivation, because it's so inconsistently applied.

Something else is at play here. Perhaps you think there's something particularly egregious about immigration violations?

"as if the legal process is available to these people & they just stubbornly refuse to follow it"

Well, if you don't have money in the bank, there's no 'legal process' for you to make a withdrawl, but that doesn't legitimize safecracking. Sometimes there's no legal way to do what you want because you want something you're not entitled to.

We are talking about people who don't have any right to be here. If you tell me that if they obeyed the law they wouldn't be able to enter the country, I'll just tell you that "That works for me."

Now, I'd prefer rather different immigration laws than we presently have. We make it insanely difficult for law abiding, college educated, English literate people from distant lands to legally enter this country, no matter how much they might contribute. And we do it to make room for English illiterate day workers. That's crazy, it's hurting us economicly, and it's that way because English literate, educated immigrants compete with the elite driving our immigration policy, and illiterate day workers just supply them with cheap gardeners while competing with Joe Average.

Why do people work here without proper documentation? There are a number of reasons:


  1. Our law doesn't take it very seriously. Legally isn't not much different from speeding, though the special "go home" bonus might be annoying.

  2. We encourage it. It's not at all hard for someone who isn't properly documented to get a job here and employers bear almost no risk if they hire such people

  3. Our government makes money on it. While the rich whine about paying a penny in taxes, these immigrants are giving us Social Security and Federal tax payments that the law wouldn't require them to pay so they don't actually owe it.

  4. The legal permit system is inadequate. The growth in demand for these workers has outpaced the availability of properly documented immigrants

  5. The Jean Valjean effect. Would you risk something to feed and clothe your family?

Right now, business is just fine with things the way they are. The law will not be enforced as long as there are so many incentives not to enforce it and as long as the enforcement only catches a few poor people and lets those who are exploiting the system go free.

Hilzoy: Your theory is as good as any other I have heard.

I’ll repeat something I said in another thread – to me the anger appeared to come from “you are not listening to us”. Washington elites are out of touch with their constituents, they are not listening to what the voters are telling them. Worse than that, Congressmen and even the president responded with ridicule and slurs to the critics. This is the biggest articulated point I saw out there.

John Hawkins is probably as good an example as anyone. He began a grassroots campaign to unseat any Republican Senators who voted for the bill (if it passed).

On winning today:

Here's a piece of free advice for George Bush and the Republican senators who ended up on the wrong end of this bill: You need to get right with your base and with the American people -- and you need to do it in a hurry.

That is the most common sentiment I have seen being expressed on the right side of the ‘sphere. You are very much correct that there was a lot of anger.

Bipartisan fillibuster?!? How often does that happen!

There is, very frequently, no legal way available; no line to get on; no front door open.

I am repeating Katherine's point for emphasis. If you come from a country that gets a grand total of 5,000 visas a year for skilled workers; if you are fleeing war or persecution; if you come as a student or tourist and conditions in your home country suddenly deteriorate while you are here, there very often is effectively NO way to gain legal status. Not "difficult". Not "long". Just impossible.

And even if you don't, if you come from a country where the bottleneck of applicants means that you will be waiting 22 years for a visa, I'd argue that that effectively means there is no legal way to get here. It's one thing for a 25-year-old to immigrate and build a new life in a new country. It's another for a 47-year-old to start over.

Brett, if you want to try it your way, you will need to pass a new law that actually puts businesses at risk for hiring people who are not authorized to work in the United States. Those businesses, of course, will complain that it is unfair to put them at risk and demand that they be given a way be certain that they are not hiring anyone who doesn't have the right to work here. Do you support a national identity card or can you offer a reliable alternative? Without real enforcement laws against employers there is no real immigration law and without a national identity card, it'll be hard to come up with a way to actually enforce the law.

My moderately-liberal response to Brett:

1. Over the last 20+ years, conservatives have educated liberals on the importance of taking into consideration basic economics in setting government policy.

2. The US has an apparently insatiable demand for cheap labor. The evidence is that when people get here, they find work that is so well compensated that in the aggregate they send enormous remittances back to the home country.

3. The US land borders are really long. The US sea borders are even longer. And the US issues tourist and education visas easily. So the notion that physical border control can be an effective tool against population inflows seems unsupported by the evidence and a poor use of resources.

4. Returning to point 1, the way to stop unwanted inflows is to drive down demand. That means an effective enforcement policy against employers.

5. The 2 of 3 rule applies to employer sanctions: they must be cheap, accurate and rapid (but you can only pick any two). Employers don't want to be immigration police and neither do local cops. Forcing them to do so will cost both lots of real money and lots of political capital.

So, it appears to me that for immigration reform to work we need to be willing to punish Americans, and when votes need to be counted there is a reluctance to do so.

Seb,

It certainly wasn't bipartisan this time. It was a Republican fillibuster (37 votes)with minor Democratic support. I'm quite confident that the Democrats who voted against cloture were generally opposed to the amendments that had been made in the past weeks, while the Republicans who voted against it seem to still be opposed, even after they got some of what they wanted. Apparently, their earlier objections about not being involved in the process was just so much smoke.

Freelunch, you're correct, and at this point I would support a biometric identity/voter registration card. By which I mean you get an ID number, and if somebody sends it and your finger print/ iris scan / whatever in, they get back verification that you're a citizen.

This has costs I don't like, but so do a lot of things it would help eliminate.

"It certainly wasn't bipartisan this time. It was a Republican fillibuster (37 votes)with minor Democratic support."

Fair point: Can we please stop refering to all that legislation you got McCain to defect on, such as the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act", as "bipartisan", then?

Brett, even aside from the Fifth Amendment problem, do you think that even a quarter of Americans will agree to become part of a massive biometric data bank run by the federal government?

My illegal son-in-law was brought here at 14 by his family and has lived here ever since, almost half his life. He's a hard-working responsible guy, trying to do the best for his family. He's married to an American citizen, and has 4 US citizen children. This is a profile of a guy who Brett Bellmore and others of his ilk think need to be punished.

There's something going on here that we can call the "Prohibition Effect" or maybe the "King Canute Effect." If you pass a law that is unworkable, that is generally regarded as not making sense, or that is contrary to the way a great many people behave, people will ignore the law. The effect of such laws is not to change peoples' behavior--it is to damage respect for the law.

My son-in-law has very properly chosen to support his family rather than obey the immigration laws. I don't think anyone who thinks he's making an immoral decision has a properly working moral compass.

"Rule of law", again, is traditionally a term referring to the executive branch & the people in power being bound by the laws as opposed to able to change the laws at will. If the President violates a felony statute without any consequences, or DOJ invokes state secret privilege to prevent torture victims from suing the gov't, that's a threat to the rule of law.

If ordinary citizens download music from Napster in large numbers, or drive above the speed limit, or otherwise violate the law, I wouldn't usually call that a threat to the rule of law. If it becomes a serious problem I'd call it a threat to "law and order". But whether people in power are constrained by laws at all, is a pretty different question from how likely relatively powerless people are to be caught & punished for disobeying a law.

As far as what drives the anger--this debate has at least three sides, probably more:

A. people who want increased legal immigration & a path to legalization primarily for humanitarian reasons.

B. people whose primary interest is in the availability of immigrant labor at affordable prices.

C. people whose primary interest is deporting as many immigrants as possible, despite any humanitarian or economic costs. (I would say their primary interest is in "enforcing the laws"; in fact their legislative proposals tend to be about symbolic punitive gestures as anything else)

These are oversimplifications of course--there are overlaps between & differences within the groups. But I would put, say, Ted Kennedy in the first category; Kyl & Bush in the second; and Tom Tancredo in the third.

This bill was an attempt by groups 1 and 2 to cut a deal with certain concessions to group 3--though more and more group 2 was breaking its deal with group 1 to get group 3's consent.

President Bush was simply not on the same side as his base on this one. And they've stuck with him & kept comparing him to Lincoln and Churchill in the face of how many policy disasters and how much evidence that his policies were disastrous? They expected loyalty in return, and they weren't getting it.

It's infuriating to feel like no one with real power in Washington represents you, not even your own party leadership. Especially if you're not used to the feeling.

"Freelunch, you're correct, and at this point I would support a biometric identity/voter registration card. By which I mean you get an ID number, and if somebody sends it and your finger print/ iris scan / whatever in, they get back verification that you're a citizen."

Are there any legislative proposals for this? If so, how many co-sponsors do they have?

"This is a profile of a guy who Brett Bellmore and others of his ilk think need to be punished.

No, in fact, I'd be in favor of an amnesty, if there were some real effort to make sure it's not going to be happening again in twenty years. It's enforcement first, not enforcement only, that I'm in favor of. Because amnesty first is, as everyone knows, enforcement not at all.

We make it insanely difficult for law abiding, college educated, English literate people from distant lands to legally enter this country, no matter how much they might contribute. And we do it to make room for English illiterate day workers.

I don't follow this at all. If we restrict the number of, say, engineers from India who can enter this country, it's because we want to make sure there are enough jobs available for our own engineering graduates, or reasoning of that sort. There's no competition between foreign-educated professionals and unskilled laborers. It's not like we have some quota for how many differently-colored people can cross the border and it's all being used up by illegals.

Brett: I think you and I are in agreement, basically, on policy, although I would be fine with some other ID ideas, like one I've heard recently, but can't recall where:

Employer enters ID number. Employer recieves fax including citizen status plus current photo. I add: photo could be ascertained when people get driver's licenses or those other IDs for people who don't drive. Citizen status the government can figure out how to add in on its own. Helps get around the problem of forgery, since one can't forge the government's response, but does not involve doing retinal scans on the whole country.

In any case, the point has to be to make it as easy as possible for businesses to do real verification, thereby removing their legitimate concerns about being on the hook for not spotting problems with very well forged IDs, and leaving only their illegitimate concerns about e.g. wanting to employ people without paying minimum wages or giving them any employment rights. Without doing this, I, liberal though I am, think it's just unfair to employers. With this, I think we could legitimately say: OK, now if we catch you employing people who are not here legally, we throw the book at you.

Another good thing about this: it doesn't involve trust. Enforce it for a couple of years, make it clear that the enforcement will continue, and then, I hope, amnesty for those already here will be a lot easier to get through, since then it really will be all about what to do about people who broke a broken law for reasons I find completely comprehensible, and not about providing incentives for future lawbreakers.

i think there's something to this -- this "outlet for frustration" was also going on with Miers and the UAE port issue.

but, i think it goes beyond (and predates) frustrations with bush. as you say, it's a sense of attack, of loss, of straying from the golden age.

the question is why so many conservatives feel this way in the first -- why is everything seen as a perpetual attack. what's teh basis (psychological, socioeconomic, historical), etc.

A national ID card w. retinal scans etc. under this particular gov't freaks the crap out of me. That trust thing again.

No, in fact, I'd be in favor of an amnesty, if there were some real effort to make sure it's not going to be happening again in twenty years. It's enforcement first, not enforcement only, that I'm in favor of. Because amnesty first is, as everyone knows, enforcement not at all.

With all respect, Brett, you're contradicting yourself within the space of 3 sentences. You'd deport the guy (enforcement first) and then grant him amnesty? Seems kinda pointless, and the first sentence, where you have it the other way around (amnesty, then steps to make sure it doesn't happen again in 20 years) amounts to "amnesty first, enforcement second."

Why not, instead, come up with a policy under which there is a simple and easy method for enough people to come here to fill our demand for workers? Then you don't have to worry about enforcement. It's the magic of the free market . . .

"Like Hilzoy, I having a hard time buying the rule of law rationale/motivation, because it's so inconsistently applied."

I can understand it, on the basis of knowing lots of people (including my late dad and his family and my husband) who emigrated legally. I think real immigration reform is needed to address the inequity inherent in the visa process before other measures can gain support. By and large the opposition I see comes from people who jumped through all the INS (how DHS) hoops and think it's unfair that other people don't "have to" jump through the same ones, a point of view with which I can well sympathize. The idea that the hoops don't exist for some people doesn't even get airplay.

the point has to be to make it as easy as possible for businesses to do real verification

No, we should make it more difficult as penance for disrespecting the law. We'll call it the sacrifice bunt provision.

By and large the opposition I see comes from people who jumped through all the INS (how DHS) hoops

That I can understand. What I don't get are Tancredo-type conservatives claiming that illegal immigration is the first step toward a Hobbesean state of nature.

"By and large the opposition I see comes from people who jumped through all the INS (how DHS) hoops"

Maybe among people you know. In the population at large, the opposition to this bill is not driven by legal immigrants and naturalized citizens. A lot of legal immigrants were, at one point in the past, out of status, or are close friends or relatives w/ someone who is.

Also, I'm sure anyone who got legalized if this had passed would've had plenty of annoying DHS hoops of their own!

You know, I don't think any of these explanations comes close to making sense of posts like this. WTF?

You know, the immigration system & the borders have not actually changed much since the 2004 election, when this was barely mentioned. If anything we've increased enforcement. But suddenly we're in a crisis & the "combined force of Big Business, (some of) Big Labor, Big Media, Big Religion, Big Philanthropy, Big Academia, and Big Government" are trying to re-enact the Ottoman conquest of Europe. (I can't decide which item on that list is stupidest. Probably it's actually the idea that NOT deporting people en masse, militarizing the border, & imposing a national ID with retina scanning technology is a sign of "Big Government" run amok.)

Things are going wrong, gays & terrorists are getting kind of old as scapegoats, so let's try illegal immigrants. That's the best I can come up with.

Don't worry Katherine, they'll get back to feminists too at some point.

I think it is middle class Americans - left, right and "I don't care" - who fear that they are losing their country. And they're right.

But they, we, need to focus on what we can change for the better. Making life harder for immigrant labor won't do that. It will perpetuate an underclass that will be easy scapegoats for demagogues and unthinking nativists. Temporary worker programs that offer no credible path to citizenship subsidize corporations, who can rest assured that those workers will never join unions or enforce their rights. Nor will they ever vote for a legislature or executive that might cast a more critical eye on the ways they make money by loading their costs onto other people's backs.

Middle class Americans are losing their society, and their voice in it. They are losing it to big companies who outsource the jobs in the communities they sell to, and who spend millions on anti-union consultants, but not a bent dime on better wages or conditions. They are wrestling with cutbacks from local and state governments. They are watching as their ability to pay for college or find an affordable mortgage slips away, like their pensions and health care, opening a vision of a poorer America for their increasingly marginalized sons and daughters.

Middle class Americans are right to be afraid. They are led by a man who has always paid cash, often someone else's, for everything he's needed in life. A man for whom taxes are a drain on his family trust funds, not a way to pay for necessary govt expenditures. The kind of guy who invites you to his barbecue so you can clean up after him. A guy - who runs a govt just like him - who, if his hired help needed a day off to care for a sick child or a raise because the bus fares went up, would hire someone else instead.

If we want are to slow that middle class American snowball's rapid descent, we need to throw a few hefty political snow balls at those rich kids' chauffeurs pushing it downhill.

You know, I don't think any of these explanations comes close to making sense of posts like this.

Return of the 3 martini lunch?

OCSteve has a point...

I think it's more of a need to believe you are living/participating in historic times. That is why the War On Whatever the F@ck We're at War On is teh mostest greatest struggle EVAR! It makes these people feel important. Otherwise they'd have to talk about taxes or some such cr@p.

FWIW, here's my theory: I think the focus on lawbreaking is a euphemism for a cultural argument. It's not necessarily racist, but it does revolve around most immigrants being so different in appearance, speech and custom.

I think the Tancredoists/Buchananists and their like expect immigrants to demonstrate their deference to what is claimed to be the American mainstream and show gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to live and work in God's country. Sneaking across the border is perceived as a middle finger in the air on both counts, as is the failure to speaka da english.

I'm not offering this as a policy prescription, but it seems obvious to me that you don't have to deport 12 million people if you impose very strict employer liability. A great many illegal entrants are here for one purpose, and one purpose only: employment. Cut off employment opportunities, and a lot of people will make their way home.

Unless you have some kind of amnesty, either immediate, or after some interval of trust. Especially in the latter case, you're asking people to lay low, work in the underground economy for whatever period is required. That makes the grand bargain idea look less than effective to me.

I think it's more of a need to believe you are living/participating in historic times.

I remember being in college during the first Gulf War, with mobs of students lining the streets to protest the war. I don't recall having much of an opinion on the war itself, but my distinct impression was that these kids were so desperate to be part of something important that they were behaving like the Gulf War was another Vietnam.

It's definitely more fun to feel like you're part of something historic, though. Not to sound like Barack Obama, but sometimes you can't help but be struck by the smallness of today's politics. No one will ever mistake the gay marriage issue for the civil rights struggle, for example.

No one will ever mistake the gay marriage issue for the civil rights struggle, for example.

The gay marriage issue is part of the civil rights struggle, Steve. Everybody is entitled to basic civil rights, such as forming a family.

It's easy to dismiss somebody else's civil rights as "small," I guess, but it looks different if it's your civil rights that are being denied.

I don't recall having much of an opinion on the war itself, but my distinct impression was that these kids were so desperate to be part of something important that they were behaving like the Gulf War was another Vietnam.

That's exactly the reaction I had to that (though I was in high school), and many other protests in the years that followed (in college). I felt like the students and the professor's constantly wanted to relieve the good ole days of the Vietnam protest movement.

Return of the 3 martini lunch?
The unholy alliance of Big Gov't, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Academia(?), and Big Philanthropy(??)? The Battle of Monmouth? The freakin' Battle of Kosovo (Oh noes, the Mexi-Turks are comin'!!) More like three martinis followed by three joints rolled up in the pages of a Victor Davis Hanson book and dipped in formaldehyde.

The gay marriage issue is part of the civil rights struggle, Steve. Everybody is entitled to basic civil rights, such as forming a family.

Hey, thanks for the civics lesson. Out here in the real world, you don't see people getting shot for championing the cause of gay marriage.

Can I not get away with saying that black people living in the Jim Crow South suffered just a little bit more than gay people today who are denied legal recognition of their relationships? Must all issues be THE issue? Are there truly no deprivations that are worse than other deprivations?

Hey, thanks for the civics lesson. Out here in the real world, you don't see people getting shot for championing the cause of gay marriage.

Or lynched.

15 Democrats voted with the filibuster. That is 31% of them. That is about as bipartisan as you can realistically expect. :)

I don't think that when Obama complains about the smallness of our politics he means "too few people getting lynched, beaten and shot." The stakes aren't as high as that, domestically, but they're quite high enough. Low stakes aren't the problem.

While there are plenty of rational, policy-based reasons for opposing this immigration bill, my sense (from talking to relatives and others who are animated about this) is that those who are passionate about this issue are generally motivated by one or all of the following beliefs:

1) A belief that "American culture" is being eroded and permanently-changed by the influx of spanish-speaking immigrants.

2) A belief that illegal immigrants are free-riders who are essentially parasites to our system (using benefits but not paying taxes, etc.)

3) A belief that a constant influx of people is reducing the size of the slice of the American Pie available to those of us who are already here.

All of these beliefs trigger a sense of injustice and a fear that our country is unraveling, and that in turn triggers intense anger directed toward those who "don't get it" or worse, are seen to be actively contributing to America's downfall.

Out here in the real world, you don't see people getting shot for championing the cause of gay marriage.

About 10 seconds on Google will lead you to accounts of physical assaults on supporters of gay marriage. If you still don't believe me, try making the rounds of your local straight bars with another man, kissing him on the lips, and see what happens.

This is drifting too far off topic, though, so I'll shut up, difficult as it is for me to let such nonsense pass unchallenged.

About 10 seconds on Google will lead you to accounts of physical assaults on supporters of gay marriage. If you still don't believe me, try making the rounds of your local straight bars with another man, kissing him on the lips, and see what happens.

You're talking about people getting attacked for being gay, not for supporting gay marriage.

Who is the James Meredith of the gay marriage movement? When was the last time a police chief turned the fire hose on people protesting for gay marriage?

The civil rights movement was such a big issue that George Wallace carried several states as a third-party candidate just by opposing it. Then you have gay marriage, an issue that about 1% of the electorate thinks is the most important issue, an issue that plenty of gay people don't even care about.

I seriously can't believe someone took issue with the notion that gay marriage is not as big a deal as the civil rights movement. Do you also want to argue that the Gulf War was as big a deal as Vietnam?

You're talking about people getting attacked for being gay, not for supporting gay marriage.

Ah, I promised to shut up, but I always have to have the last word . . .

No, what I mean is that if you Google "gay marriage assault," 2 of the top 4 links will be to physical assaults on people for supporting gay marriage.

And you can't carve gay marriage off from the general issue of gay civil rights like you are trying to do. How many people were shot or lynched specifically for supporting the legalty of interracial marriage, rather than generally for supporting racial equality?

I seriously can't believe someone took issue with the notion that gay marriage is not as big a deal as the civil rights movement.

Re-read what I said, please. I made no claim that the part was as big as the whole.

The comparision of atrocities you are making is absolutely pernicious--it's like saying that the Armenians didn't have it as bad as the Jews.

And you can't carve gay marriage off from the general issue of gay civil rights like you are trying to do.

Well, of course I can, because it's gay marriage that is considered a hot-button issue in today's politics, not gay civil rights in general.

My point was that people want to build up their own importance by pretending the Gulf War was as big a deal as the Vietnam War; my secondary example was that it would be silly for someone fighting for gay marriage to act like they're part of the new generation of Freedom Riders. You're actually helping to prove my point.

No, what I mean is that if you Google "gay marriage assault," 2 of the top 4 links will be to physical assaults on people for supporting gay marriage.

Compare and contrast:

In 1955, Reverend George Lee, vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and NAACP worker, was shot in the face and killed for urging Blacks in the Mississippi Delta to vote. Although eyewitnesses saw a carload of Whites drive by and shoot into Lee's automobile, the authorities failed to charge anyone.

A woman opposed to gay marriage is facing charges after allegedly hitting a gay marriage supporter who was attending a Statehouse rally... Boston Police spokesman James Kenneally says Steele apparently decided to "escalate" the debate into a physical confrontation and slapped the unidentified person, who was not hurt.

But yeah, it's like comparing the Jews and the Armenians. Just like that.

Then you have gay marriage, an issue that about 1% of the electorate thinks is the most important issue, an issue that plenty of gay people don't even care about.

So, you slept through the 2004 elections, did you?

I kind of agree that the civil rights movement was a "bigger deal" than gay marriage and that the abuses blacks suffered in the Jim Crow south are worse than denials of gay rights in the U.S. today--though people are wrong if they think that Matthew Shepard was the last person killed for being gay. But you same to go from that to saying it's unimportant and "small" in a way that seems to suggest it's really not worth bothering about. Or maybe you don't mean that, but your comment could easily be read to imply it.

Do you also want to argue that the Gulf War was as big a deal as Vietnam?

Steve, please lighten up.

It's almost always offensive to have motives ascribed to you by someone who has no basis to know what they are. That's why here on ObWi it frequently, and usually correctly, draws a 'Karnak penalty' for mindreading. My record in this department is far from spotless.

Lesbian and gay rights are civil rights and human rights issues. The movement to achieve them is obviously very different from the black civil rights movement of the 1940s-1960s because the economic and social situation is vastly different, the scale is different (one sense of 'as big a deal'), the historical context is different.

In the other sense of 'as big a deal', the importance of the issue to those affected, they're every bit as big a deal, and dismissing it understandably gives offense.

The roots of much of the horror that is Iraq today are in the Gulf War. (Just one example of many: the U.S. bases that were inserted into Saudi Arabia during it and then kept there, which were one of bin Laden's major grievances.)

I believe, and the hundreds of thousands who marched to oppose it believed, that the Gulf War was avoidable, and should have been avoided. In my own case I can tell you that protesting it had nothing to do with "wanting to be part of something bigger than myself". It had a lot to do with the clear sense that the conflict was being used to relegitimize direct U.S. military intervention (to overcome the so-called 'Vietnam syndrome'). It had a lot to do with the end of the cold war, seeing the drive to maintain massive militarization as a priority by the puffing-up of new threats to replace the Soviet Union.

Some of the students who protested may have been involved in the years leading up to the Gulf War in trying to end the U.S. proxy wars in Central America, and were concerned to stop a new era of direct U.S. warmaking before it started.

In some sense, involvement with almost any political issue is being part of something important and bigger than yourself. That's a non-trivial, and good reason, to join with other people in addressing problems whose solutions are political rather than individual. It can be carried too far, but in my experience there's too little rather than too much of it in this hyper-individualistic, de-politicizing culture.

So, you slept through the 2004 elections, did you?

The idea that gay marriage drove the 2004 election results has been debunked since the very week of the election. Before mocking a factual claim like "about 1% of the country thinks gay marriage is the most important issue," you should try to be fairly confident that it's even false. In fact, it's probably an exaggeration.

But you same to go from that to saying it's unimportant and "small" in a way that seems to suggest it's really not worth bothering about. Or maybe you don't mean that, but your comment could easily be read to imply it.

I get what you're saying. I wasn't at all trying to say that people shouldn't care about gay marriage - and my reaction to the Gulf War protestors wasn't that they were wrong to care about it at all. But I think when people blow the importance of an issue way out of proportion, it kind of suggests that they don't actually understand the issue at all. For example, consider the wingers who believe every foreign engagement is just like WWII and every potential adversary is just like Hitler.

Steve, please lighten up.

Will you also ask the person who brought up the Holocaust to lighten up? :)

In my own case I can tell you that protesting it had nothing to do with "wanting to be part of something bigger than myself". It had a lot to do with the clear sense that the conflict was being used to relegitimize direct U.S. military intervention (to overcome the so-called 'Vietnam syndrome'). It had a lot to do with the end of the cold war, seeing the drive to maintain massive militarization as a priority by the puffing-up of new threats to replace the Soviet Union.

I think this is a very good point and I thank you for articulating it.

The specific people I was talking about, I think I was right to characterize them as clueless college students, though. I don't think many people my age had the perspective to be tapped into the larger issues. (I'm not sure how old you were at the time, and a gentleman never asks.)

This also raises the point that protesting in the streets is an effective way to send a blunt message (look at how many people oppose this policy!) but not a very effective way to send a more complex, nuanced message like what you just articulated.

"You'd deport the guy (enforcement first)"

To my admittedly limited understanding of immigration law, having spent the last year getting my wife into this country legally, and regularly watching a Philippine TV show on the topic, "Citizen Pinoy", "the guy" pretty clearly qualifies for a hardship waiver under current immigration law. Tell him and his wife to find an immigration attourney, ASAP, before that has a chance to change.

"Why not, instead, come up with a policy under which there is a simple and easy method for enough people to come here to fill our demand for workers?"

Because I understand that demand is a function of price, in this case wages. As is supply. The supply and demand curves ARE going to ballance, it's only a question of at what wage. Apparently you'd prefer that it be a starvation wage.

The idea that gay marriage drove the 2004 election results has been debunked since the very week of the election. Before mocking a factual claim like "about 1% of the country thinks gay marriage is the most important issue," you should try to be fairly confident that it's even false. In fact, it's probably an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, 11 more states had explicit gay marriage bans in their constitutions after the 2004 elections than did before, so clearly somebody thought it was important; at the very least, 50%+1 of each of those states' populations did.

clearly qualifies

Perhaps, but (and this is not intended to be a 'gotcha') the basis of getting a hardship waiver seems to be less cut and dried than 'clearly qualifies' implies. Below is in regards to a J-1 visa (for someone who is in med school, I believe) so there is no question as to job skills and employability, but a hardship waiver even in this case seems to be full of traps (emphasis mine)

#
The standard reason for rejection is that the exchange visitor has failed to prove that the hardship attendant upon a family separation is no greater than that which would normally be experienced by involuntary separation, such as loneliness and anxiety.

The USCIS determines whether exceptional hardship to the qualifying relative(s) has been shown. If the requisite hardship has been shown, the case will be forwarded to the WRD of the Department of State for them to review the hardship. The WRD balances the program and policy considerations of the exchange program in requiring the exchange visitor to return home for two years against the demonstrated exceptional hardship. In the past, most experts in the field agree that the U. S. Information Agency (USIA) reviewed the hardship claim de novo and often substituted its judgment for the USCIS determination. However, it has become evident in reviewing recent hardship waiver decisions, that WRD is demonstrating a tendency to confine its review to program and policy considerations.

--snip--

NOTE: that exceptional hardship must be proven in the alternative; that is, it must be demonstrated that the American citizen or permanent resident spouse or child(ren) will suffer exceptional hardship if the spouse and/or child(ren) remain in the United States while the J-1 physician returns home for two years and will also suffer exceptional hardship if the spouse and/or child(ren) go home with the exchange visitor for two years. You must cover both situations in detail. Proving exceptional hardship under one alternative is only half the case.

link

As I said, this isn't a gotcha, but I would be hesitant to recommend that someone in the position of rea's relative do this, because if it fails, there really is no recourse. This is the old 'it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission', which I imagine drives someone like Brett up the wall (in truth, it does me as well, cause it seems to be SOP here in Japanese universities), but one could argue that it is far safer to choose an approach that is illegal than to put all of one's eggs in a legal basket that, if it fails, raises the applicant's visibility for punitive measures.

Brett, it's possible that he's eligible for relief but I don't know that we have enough information to say that with any confidence. Are you thinking adjustment of status under sec. 245(i) of the INA, cancellation of removal, or something else?

To get back to Hilzoy's original question: I think it boils down to Americans' fear/resentment of getting ripped off. Remember Reagan's mythical wefare queens? The thought that one is being taken--in however minor a fashion--is enough to provoke blind rage in a substantial portion of the electorate. People in a rage don't exercise critical thinking.

"the guy" pretty clearly qualifies for a hardship waiver under current immigration law. Tell him and his wife to find an immigration attourney, ASAP, before that has a chance to change.

They have seen an immigration attorny, and got told essentially what liberal japonicus says above.

I want to thank you for raising this issue. As far as I can tell you're alone in the progressive blogosphere to discuss this issue at all on the day of the bill's momentous defeat. I haven't read your blog before and was pointed here by a commenter on MaxSpeak who mentioned you, after I complained that NOBODY had had anything to say about this.

I'd tend to agree with the remarks of Outsourced. As long as the regime of Free Trade uber alles continues, and middle class Americans have essentially no route to improving their well-being, this kind of politics is to be expected. Looking for a solution to this, it seems to me, has to be based on punishment for the employer who hires the illegal worker, and I agree with Hilzoy and Brent who will accept the need for some kind of ID system that works, while still respecting the view of those who would be exceptionally wary of putting such a system in the hands of the Bush administration.

I would also like to comment on the slimy politics of those liberal Democrats (yes, Hillary, I'm talking about you, the "Senator from Punjab") who have decided it makes good political sense to regard the high tech industry and its offshore promoting wing as a sugar daddy and think they can get by by tacking the totally unrelated H1B issue onto illegal immigration bills, reasoning that they're only immiserating a small group of people. This adds a whole new and vocal albeit smallish group of people to the Dobbs/Tancredoist wing, for no good reason. If patriotism means anything it means not giving away your "good jobs" to other countries.

Let's talk a minute, too about another bill that failed in Congress this week, the Employee Free Choice Act, which was filibustered to death along partisan lines. I'm with David Sirota here, who thinks that this was an attempt by Democrats to show "support" for this cause without doing any heavy lifting to actually improve the situation of unions vis a vis vicious obstacles to union organizing. Again, part of the free trade uber alles "consensus". That consensus is unraveling, and that affects the immigration bill too.

Finally, I'd agree with those who called the coalition that opposed the immigration bill bipartisan. Democratic opposition to the bill cannot be ignored. Compare please, the the Clinton income tax increase on the wealthy which passed in 1993 without a single Republican vote.

"the Employee Free Choice Act,"

What a remarkably Orwellian name for a bill stripping employees of the right to the secret ballot. Watching liberals who talk in all seriousness about voter intimidation suddenly start supporting a bill like this has quashed any inclination I might have had to take them seriously on election issues.

Actually, sTiVo and Brett, that topic got a workout in this thread, so y'all might want to check what was said before cracking that can o' worms open again.

Steve: This also raises the point that protesting in the streets is an effective way to send a blunt message (look at how many people oppose this policy!) but not a very effective way to send a more complex, nuanced message...

Sure. That's what op-eds, interviews, and Congressional floor debate are for. The difficulty comes when observers want to pretend that because there's large-scale opposition expressed in demonstrations, that there is no complex, nuanced, or reasonable argument behind the slgans.

An even greater difficulty comes when the media shuts out most of the opportunities for the non-placard-sized message to get heard.

It takes both ends: op-eds without mass mobilization can be dismissed as "pointy-headed", unrealistic, etc. Mass mobes without op eds to translate the arguments behind the slogans can be marginalized or cartoon-ized in just the way you and Ugh did in your comments about the Gulf War protests.


Not one word has been mentioned here about the influence of conservative talk radio. Except for Michael Medved, every single conservative host was dead-set against the immigration bill, and the discussion threads at Redstate oft times repeated the same lines as the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Hewitts, and with just about the same amount of depth, once you've tried to scratch the surface a little. I'm not sure if even one of those Redstate commenters could see the adverse consequences of a killed bill. None would deign to consider the option of supporting the bill but lobbying for amendments to make it better. The whole notion of comprehensive reform was repellent. They were predisposed to oppose the bill, and conservative talk shows and blogs reinforced those predispositions.

There is a strident, passionate and noisy wing in the conservative movement that is hardline about borders-language-culture, so hardline that emotions seem to override logic and rational thinking. They are supremely offended that people are living here illegally and that our government has done damn little over the past 20 years to do anything about it. Part of me agrees with them on that, and in that regard I agree with Brett above, the illegals don't have a right to be here. It's one thing if they are here legally, adding their language and culture to the mix, assimilating into our society (yes, I agree that giving them legal status would accelerate assimilation, but I've run into a brick wall trying to convince opponents of that). But the problem is that they are doing their thing outside the law and outside of our stated immigration policy, thus their influence on our society is unwelcomeand and unjust. Because of this, these conservatives feel like some amount of control is taken away, so their responses to illegal immigration are ones of frustration and powerlessness. Since our federal government taken such non-existent action over the decades, they feel like our elected representatives care little about the matter and they feel like their voices aren't being heard. Well, no longer, apparently.

I don't think racism has much to do with the issue, but no question there are paleocons who range from borderline to full-blown racists. From what I've seen, those folks are a small fraction of the whole and most of them had already left the GOP to join the likes of Buchanan or other fringies.

I don't see the bill as "amnesty" but they do, no matter the definition of the word and no matter that the bill doesn't have amnesty provisions. But what these conservatives are mad about is that the cost of going from illegal to legal is so cheap, particularly when you look at what law-abiding immigrants have to do their to get (and keep) their legal status. They're offended that the federal government is offering inexpensive and easy shortcuts when they shouldn't even be here in the first place.

But the bottom line is that this conservative segment is large enough and influential enough to turn Republican Senators around. If there is going to immigration reform, the political reality is that nothing will really get done until concrete steps are taken to bolster security. Liberals and Democrats may not like it or even understand it, but they're going to have give in on this if they want to proceed with Z visas and the like. Otherwise, we're talking stalemate for years to come. I don't see why Reid-Pelosi would be motivated to reintroduce the bill, unless they could it use as a political bludgeon for turning Hispanics away from Repubs and toward Dems.

To me, no legislation is the real amnesty here. Flawed as the bill was, without it the can gets kicked down the road that much further. Borders don't get enforced, illegals remain in their limbo, and employers will continue to hire them without penalty. Bush would get some of his credibility back with many conservatives if he introduced an emergency spending bill to fund the Secure Fence Act of 2006, for starters. Who knows if he'll do it, but I doubt he will. He's probably a little ticked off at the moment since so many have expressed their disloyalty to him, but that's what you get when you prioritize loyalty over the barest amount of competence.

"None would deign to consider the option of supporting the bill but lobbying for amendments to make it better."

I will say it one last time, then drop this: Compromise requires trust, and there is no basis for people who want enforcement to trust the government. The bill had to be killed, not amended, because only the parts that were objectionable to were ever going to be implemented.

If amnesty proponents want our trust, they can damn well try earning it.

CB, that's a very important point about talk radio.

We desperately need another outlet for people to express their bitterness and righteous anger.

Like, we could have a lot of radio shows that focus on bad referee calls in sports. People could fulminate at length on how referees and umpires and such make the wrong teams win.

And then when an occasional umpire gets beaten up or kidnapped or killed on the spot they can talk about how it was a terrible thing and it shouldn't have happened even though he completely deserved it and had it coming.

Maybe we could have some shows devoted to bad IRS decisions. Fulminate at length about how the IRS is fundamentally wrong to begin with and then focus on specific wrong tax code things.

These guys are serving an important need and it's better to redirect it than try and fail to get rid of it.

I will say it one last time, then drop this: Compromise requires trust, and there is no basis for people who want enforcement to trust the government.

That is a very important point. The current administration has shown that their word is no good -- for anything, to anybody.

Think about where that leads.

Steve: but sometimes you can't help but be struck by the smallness of today's politics. No one will ever mistake the gay marriage issue for the civil rights struggle, for example.

No, because clearly equal civil rights for all regardless of sexual orientation is "smallness" compared to equal civil rights for all regardless of racial identity/skin color.

No, really, it's not.

Sorry, liberal japonicus, but THAT thread is over a week old and my experience tells me its a waste of time to respond to a thread that no one will ever see. Even this thread may be too old.

So, okay Brett Bellmore, the loss of secret ballot bothers you that much? Does your definition of civil liberties then extend to free speech in the workplace where no worker could be fired for advocating the union to his fellow workers? Yes, I know, there are laws against it but the laws are as unenforceable as the immigration laws are. And total free speech in the workplace is not going to happen anyway. There's a hierarchy that is in some sense inevitable. You can't call the boss an asshole even if he is one. The question is whether this needs to counterbalanced in some way. I would say it does.

Somehow, I doubt that you have ever been involved in a union organizing campaign on either side or perhaps even worked in a place where one was worthy of consideration. Real world looks a bit different.

But, yes, we're off-thread here. My original point in bringing up EFCA was simply to point out until Democrats can find a way back through the thicket of their corporate sponsorship to champion the little guy again, we're going to see stuff like this immigration bill fiasco.

I don't have much to add except this:

Had I been born an impoverished Mexican, I would like to believe that I would have had the courage and the will-power to break American laws to improve the life of my wife and children. Can any of you honestly say otherwise?

It seems to me that the U.S. has been fortunate enough to have been gifted the better half of Mexico's impoverished class.

Sorry, I wasn't saying you should respond in that thread, just see what has already been said might be worthwhile if you want to continue the discussion is all I'm saying.

What a remarkably Orwellian name for a bill stripping employees of the right to the secret ballot.

Since I know you're a stickler for this sort of thing, can you show me where in the Constitution a right to a secret ballot exists, nd specifically so in the workplace? Thanks in advance.

The right to a secret ballot is referenced nowhere in the Constitution. So what? Read the 9th amendment. Ballot secrecy as a way of preventing voter intimidation dates back to ancient Greece, though to our shame it was only implemented in the US in the late 19th century. Who today would even think of abolishing it in governmental elections?

Currently, there is a statutory right to the secret ballot, in both governmental and union elections. Anyone who proposes to dispense with the latter should explain why this is so different from dispensing with the former. Your remark tacitly acknowleges that the point of abolishing it is to enable intimidation, to increase the power of unions relative to employers.

Sorry, but that's not something I can respect. Find another way to counterballance the fact that employees are discouraged from discussing unionism while on the clock.

My remark tacitly acknowledges nothing, Brent; 'twas a way of bringing out that, contra your usual position in abortion arguments, the 9th might in fact actually protect some rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. Bravo for the evolution of your political thinking.

(Interesting, though, that you think that employers should always retain a power imbalance vis a vis unions. Well, not interesting so much as obvious.)

1 That's Brett, not Brent.

2. The "power imballance" derives from the fact that the employer is actually paying the employee for the use of that time. It's not like they're kidnapping people off the street, and forbidding them to discuss unionization for 8 hours a day.

I imagine unions would be much more popular if they paid people who chose to join them, rather than (Whenever they can manage it.) charging people who chose not to.

Conservatives and libertarians have been telling us from the beginnings that employees shouldn't have any expectation of deserving more than some minimum wage, protection against the boss' bigotries as expressed in hiring and firing, to any standard of safety in the workplace set without the boss' personal okay, and the like. They may have to forgive the rest of us for being skeptical about this sudden enthusiasm for secret ballots, particularly when the data show that they tend to discourage union formation. It is, at first blush, not an entirely randomly selected worker's "right" to suddenly recognize, out of all the possible ones.

"Had I been born an impoverished Mexican, I would like to believe that I would have had the courage and the will-power to break American laws to improve the life of my wife and children. Can any of you honestly say otherwise?"

Sounds exactly like the same point of view of poor immigrant family heads like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Legs Diamond, and the distinguished members of Murder Inc-- who also saw an advantage to improve their economic standing by breaking US law -- the ghosts of those immigrant law-breakers applaud your support.

And by the way, the majority of Mexicans who illegally are crossing into the US are young males who don't have wives or children (http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/44.pdf)

"It seems to me that the U.S. has been fortunate enough to have been gifted the better half of Mexico's impoverished class."

Tell that to all the impoverished Black Americans, who have suffered the most economic displacement from the unregulated flow of low-wage illegal immigrants into the US job market.

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