The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This is my 1001 post on Bessemer Opinions. That's a lot of opinionating. Sometimes, opinions need to be re-stated, for one reason or another, and this is one of those times.


I am in America because of illegal immigration, and that is part of the reason I have such strong opinions about it. My ancestor came to this country from Great Britain illegally. But he was able to "melt" into the "pot" we call the United States and make babies and such and here I am.

I agree that current immigration policies need fixing, but rather than working toward actual solutions we hear hateful rhetoric and pass laws that disrespect humanity and tear families apart.

Here's a video that's a couple of years old, but points out the ignorance of some people (like you don't speak to Koreans in Japanese and expect them to understand), and the realization that you don't just come to this country and immediately know English. And, of course, that not all immigrants (legal or illegal) are Hispanic. There is a huge Vietnamese community on the Alabama coast that could be affected adversely if, say, drivers licenses were restricted to those who already know English. (That didn't come from this video, by the way).

Here is a column I wrote for the Western Tribune, oddly enough, the same month that video was produced (November 2007).

Immigration is a hot topic but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew the
facts before forming opinions and voicing them on talk radio and such?

The state’s Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission held a public
hearing recently and some little known facts were revealed during the testimony.
Sam Brooke, Law Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took
the opportunity to dispel several myths, as the following examples from his
testimony point out.

One myth is that immigrants without legal status cause a rise in criminal
activity. The fact is that an increase in immigrants – with or without
legal status- generally causes a reduction in crime.

This was proven in court in Hazelton, PA, when anti-immigrant ordinances
were being challenged, and testimony brought the true facts out.

In addition it has been shown in our own state that immigrants are
more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of criminal
We only need to look as far as Lipscomb where Hispanics were
recently being targeted to realize this, but an article from the Montgomery
Advertiser (October 16, 2007) also backs this up.

Another myth is that immigrants drain public health dollars and put
a strain on medical services
. A recent study in Georgia estimated that
undocumented immigrants contribute between $215 and $252 million to the state’s
coffers, and in Texas it is estimated they contribute $380 million more than
they use in relation to state-provided services. While similar numbers are not
available for our state, it can be concluded that immigrants who lack
legal status do not cost our state money.

Immigrants without legal status have been made scapegoats over these
issues. To combat this, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU
of Alabama are encouraging the Immigration Commission and our Legislature to
treat immigrants with respect and dignity as they find solutions that are
inclusive of this growing community.

And they should remember that only the federal government can regulate
employment and presence of immigrants. Laws in other states that have attempted
to challenge this authority have not been upheld. It would not make
sense to have a hodge-podge of laws that differ from state to state regarding
who can come into our country

The federal government has failed to address the immigration issue,
but that does not mean we should attempt to solve the problems on a state by
state basis

Rather, we should be encouraging the Congress and President to find
workable solutions without stereotyping or making scapegoats of people.
Solutions that allow well intentioned immigrants to live and contribute to our
society as they move toward full citizenship are solutions we can all live with.

In the meantime, in Arizona:


Helen said...

Right on the point.

Thank you for pointing out, first, that most of us are on shaky ground when criticizing how others arrive in this country; and second that we all know the system is broken and needs fixing.

The devil truly is in the details. Sadly, some people fight against the very reforms that would eliminate the source of their complaints.

Build a wall, you get higher ladders and more "boats people." Rather than waste time on brutalizing people driven to seek work to support their often hungry families, why not focus on:
1. A realistic visa process that matches workers to jobs;
2. A labor policy that pays a living wage and treats workers as valued human beings(then we will know how many jobs there are that Americans really won't or can't do);
3. Clearing up the backlog that has resulted in often-decades-long delays in reuniting families (and pushes some to 'jump the line' out of desperation)
4. Setting up a "line," a process that will permit people already living here (and some have been here more than 20-30 years) to begin a process towards permanent status.
5. Immediately implement the DREAM Act and allow young people who've been here most of their lives to self-petition. They are Americans in every sense except for that pesky little 9-digit ss#.

I hope everyone will push Congress.

(Thx for the AZ spoof, too)

Anonymous said...

Or....non of the above! We could just hire 1 million deportation agents(this would create jobs), give them the power to check identification and deport all these criminals(illegal immigrants)back to the country of origin. This would free up billions of dollars to help people who ARE Americans and the unemployment rate would go to 0.00%


Joe said...

Anonymous, I would be embarrased to leave my name as well if I'd left a comment as stupid as yours. People like you are part of the problem. No, you are the problem. Instead of seeking workable solutions to a decades old problem you throw out some ridiculous Palinesque rhetoric that does nothing but further the divide.

Anonymous said...

It's as good as Helen's idea.