Thursday, July 26, 2007

Speak out in support of fair treatment of immigrants

The Hazleton decision is an eloquent affirmation of the rights that protect all people under our Constitution. To add my one of my own favorite quotes from the decision:
We cannot say clearly enough that persons who enter this country without legal authorization are not stripped immediately of all their rights because of this single act … The United States Supreme has consistently interpreted [the 14th Amendment] to apply to all people present in the United States, whether they were born here, immigrated here through legal means, or violated federal law to enter the country.

Thank you, Judge Munley. But unfortunately, your court alone cannot protect due process rights in this country. Anyone who's ever taken bong hits (for Jesus or not) or run a red light knows that our laws often express our ideals more than our reality, and they're an important recourse when injustice is afoot. But the day-to-day decency and regard for our neighbors (be it those next door, or those across the borders) requires more than laws. It requires our voices and our actions.

On June 3, hundreds attended a rally in Hazleton on June 3 in support of Mayor Barletta and his anti-immigrant legislation. A Peruvian-born newspaper publisher (an American citizen) was harrassed at the event and escorted away by police for his own safety. More rallies of this kind are being planned across the state throughout the summer and early fall.

Lacking comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level, and with rising frustrations at the local level, we need to take action to protect the rights of immigrants. I'm talking about those of us who care about the constitution, due process and fair treatment of those living within our borders, and who oppose actions that lead to discriminatory treatment of our friends, co-workers and neighbors.

So, if you think this Hazleton decision is a good thing, speak out. Our state and our country need your voice to be heard as much as we need Judge Munley's.

Jess in Philly

21 Comments:

Anonymous Alan said...

All RIGHT! THANKS for your efforts on behalf of ALL of us for protection of our RIGHTS and LIBERTIES!

Even though I don't live in PA, when I write a check for the ACLU, I send it to PA because ACLU PA ROCKS!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH JUDGE MUNLEYS DECISION......AS A CITIZEN OF THE USA I FEEL THAT WE ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST. YOUR PAGE SHOULD say..speak out in support of fair treatment for ILLEGAL immigrants...lets be honest about it..they are illegal..duh

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

The only reason for the Hazleton law was to give grief to an ethnic minority. If the economic migrants happened to be white, no one in Hazleton (or anywhere else) would have even noticed. The folks who are hyperventilating about "illegal immigrants" are just bigots who have discovered a socially acceptable outlet for their bigotry. Speaking out in support of fair treatment of immigrants is important in order to attach to this form of bigotry the same social stigma that exists for other forms of racism.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

All right, anon, I'll say it loud, I'll say it PROUD - Speak out in support of fair treatment for ILLEGAL immigrants!

What do you have against fair treatment?

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, you forget that the genius of our Constitution gives to our Congress the right to regulate immigration and naturalization. People here illegally may have rights to due process, BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE A BASIC RIGHT TO BE HERE. That is a right NOT GIVEN to them by the Constitution.

And why should I support "fair" treatment for illegal aliens when what they are doing is inherently UNFAIR to would-be legal immigrants and to the US citizens who end up having to pay for the services illegal aliens use, often to the detriment of their own families.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the only thing I remember from the business law class I took years ago is the principle that if one comes to a court seeking equity, one should come with clean hands. Illegal aliens do not have "clean hands".

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACLU does it's very best to destroy this country. They aid and abet foreign invaders who are stealing from middle class Americans and colonizing this country on our own dime! They disgust me and I think Americans will begin to take the law into their own hands as their own government has abandoned the rule of law....The ACLU never ,ever cared about the rule of law.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

RE: "would-be legal immigrants"

There are no "would-be legal immigrants". The immigration laws are a broken, balled-up mess. The reason we have people coming here illegally is because a substantial majority of Americans benifit by it and pay them to be here, and at the same time, there is no way for them to do it legally.

The reason that we do not have rational, enforceable immigration regulations is because of the small minority of nativist bigots They are basically small-minded people with a real mean streak who have it in for brown people. The "immigration issue" is just a socially acceptable way for them to express their hatred.

The way to get RATIONAL, ENFORCEABLE immigration regulations is to REMOVE their bigotry from the debate.

By calling them what they are - bigots - and STANDING UP for FAIR TREATMENT, we might be able to shame them into shutting up (as is the case with other forms of racial prejiduce) and then we can work out a real solution.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Mike Serfas said...

Although the verdict in this case was roughly correct, I am very disappointed at the lack of leadership shown by the ACLU, such as in tonight's Lou Dobbs interview. The ACLU never seems to miss a chance to embrace illegal immigrants with arms wide, without taking into account the depth of real hatred that many people in this country, especially the underpaid and unemployed, are feeling - not just about the illegals per se but about watching the American middle class sink into poverty.

The ACLU should make a greater effort to point out that despite some expansive judicial activist language in Munley's ruling, it relies on basic logical points that are unlikely to be overturned. These have to do with the exact language of the federal law, the degree of ambiguity and unpredictability of whether an "undocumented alien" will end up being ruled illegal and deportable when he reaches the right courtroom, and the lack of procedural protections for people accused of being illegals who are merely Hispanics - who might never find out just why they were fired. Some of the other stuff, where the judge makes it sound like any state law can be rubbed out if there's a vaguely similar federal law, seems very surprising when we consider the array of overlapping international, federal, state, and local drug laws, for example.

The ACLU also needs to remind people of the "creepiness factor" involved when you have to apply to the government for a license to stay somewhere and when you're not allowed to have someone living with you unless you've told them about it and gotten their approval.

Most importantly, the ACLU needs better than the "not my problem" attitude of tonights Lou Dobbs interview - it needs someone who can suggest a DESIRABLE, constitutional, agenda for people concerned about illegal immigrants taking their jobs. For example, we could have:

1. Strong minimum wage and living wage laws to prevent ANYONE from hiring workers at slave wages. Municipalities who are not empowered to enforce immigration law can enforce living wage laws.

2. Real dialogue with the EZLN (Zapatistas), the one Mexican group with the foresight to stand up for their poorest people and trade rights at a time when, if listened to, they would have been able to stop the illegal immigration crisis before it happened. If indigenous Mexicans were not pushed off their lands by subsidized American corn and beans and American-pushed reductions in native land rights, the urban industrial employees would not have been displaced by those workers and would not now be illegals in our country.

3. Mexican "black tar heroin" is associated with a vastly reduced rate of HIV transmission compared to Afghanistan powdered heroin, does not subsidize terrorists, and brings dollars to Mexico that strengthen the peso and thereby reduce the value of illegals' wages sent home. If we enacted a modest sentencing disparity in favor of the Mexican form of the drug we could starve al Qaida terrorists AND help reduce the incentive for illegal immigration.

4. Mexico has conducted a highly successful malaria eradication program that has nearly succeeded in removing the disease from their country. By subsidizing the spread of this program to Guatemala and Belize and a few remote portions of southwest Mexico, we can complete that program and get Mexico certified with the WHO as malaria free. That would mean an increase in European tourism, more jobs in Mexico, and again a stronger peso.

5. The ACLU does not have to support unequal treaties where America has to accept everyone, but Americans are still subject to arrest, prosecution, even violence for violating Mexican immigration laws. Nor does the ACLU need to support policies where people are not merely given amnesty, but receive the reward of citizenship provided that they can present evidence that they violated the law.

At a time when so many civil liberties are under siege, the ACLU should not be carelessly exposing itself to the outright hatred of much of the American public through a lack of basic leadership and advocacy.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Mike,

I don't think there is a lot of angst or worry about illegal immigration amoungst the American people. The truth is, most people just don't care very much about it at all.

Personally, I don't think the ACLU is "carelessly exposing itself to the outright hatred of much of the American public." The people who are hyperventelating about this are the same irrational, biggoted, fringe element that is always ranting about the ACLU and always will be. They are not the American people.

Allowing these hatters to effectively organize will just tend to encourage them into expressing their hatred and prejidice in other ways. Stopping them now, unequivically standing up for human rights, is the right thing to do.

That is why I support the ACLU in this.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ACLU PA. You really suck. Keep protectng them and soon there will be 30 million here if not already.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

I'm "Andy in Harrisburg" but am posting under this name because I'm going to wander off the ACLU ranch a bit.

Mike, first, thanks for a reasoned post, even if you disagree with us. It says a lot about the anti-immigrant movement that most of the negative reactions are bizarre rants.

I don't have time to answer point-by-point, but you said something at the start that I want to address:
"The ACLU never seems to miss a chance to embrace illegal immigrants with arms wide, without taking into account the depth of real hatred that many people in this country, especially the underpaid and unemployed, are feeling - not just about the illegals per se but about watching the American middle class sink into poverty."

Those in power have been going after the middle class for some 20-30 years through free trade agreements, union busting, etc. Now they've created this large group of disempowered folks- the shrinking middle class- so they find a scapegoat- in this case, illegal immigrants. The empowered have managed to sic one disempowered group on another disempowered group. People like James Sensenbrenner, Tom Tancredo, J.D. Hayworth, Rick Santorum, etc. have played some Americans like a fiddle.

It amazes me that more people don't see this. Our leaders and commentators often talk about corrupt Middle East leaders using America and Israel as distractions to keep their people from focusing on domestic affairs. Many Americans nod their head in agreement but then can't see it when they're being played the exact same way.

If all disempowered people banded together and had each others back when the powerful are trying to screw us, we'd all be a lot better off.

Andy in Harrisburg

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Mike Serfas said...

Andy, I generally agree with you (see Point #2 above) - except that I think that the illegal immigrants are serving both as a diversion from other issues (e.g. tax cuts) and as a practical force to reduce wages.

In the town of East Stroudsburg a few minutes east of Hazleton, the local government gave a company $3.5 million or so in subsidies to create something like 120 jobs. Eventually they found out that nearly all of these jobs were filled by illegal aliens working double the time for the same pay. How is it that the elites who condescendingly pat the American voters on the heads and tell them not to worry about losing their jobs to foreign workers don't have trouble justifying a payment of $30,000 to create one new job?

I actually approve of the idea of free migration of people wherever you have free trade of products. But the "reform" proposals we keep seeing are not reasoned timetables for establishing free migration . They're proposals to create a vulnerable immigrant underclass while giving up more money, privacy, and freedom to hunt bogeymen at the border. I feel as if these proposals would never have been made if they didn't tend to reduce middle class wages.

Alan - I think you're mistaken about the role of racism. Yes, it's there - but I think that this issue is actually creating racists from people who formerly regarded themselves as unprejudiced. A lot of average Americans who have to pay speeding tickets and car insurance get raving furious when they hear about illegal immigrants caught and released for driving without a license at all. They tend to lose their sense of pity when they see these people as relying on public money for hospital, school, food stamps, etc. These people are grabbing at straws looking for something to believe in, and when prominent Americans of Hispanic descent such as Rep. Gutierrez and even the attorney general seem to align themselves with the illegals it makes it easier for these people to make a leap to outright racism. By failing to find common ground on this issue now, we may be creating a new generation of racists - a whole new problem for anyone trying to settle this mess.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair treatment of immigrants - sure. But you left out an important word - illegal. How about fair treatment of our laws??? They're illegal immigrants. They broke the law to get here.

ACLU does not rock. It distorts and inhibits enforcement of our laws. They are a cancer on society.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Mike,

Its not easy to have a reasoned discussion in a blog spot like this, but I wanted to provide at least some evidence for my contentions. Here is a quote from an anti-immegration site (although the source is probably less partisan) which is not exactly on point, but might help illustrate my thinking:

"One of the important findings here is that a majority of Americans simply don’t have an opinion on the immigration bill — despite its prominence in news coverage and talk show discussions in recent weeks. This is consistent with the data showing that only 18% of Americans say they are following news about the bill very closely.

The second important finding is that among those do know enough about the bill to have an opinion, there is roughly a three to one level of opposition over support. Additionally, a majority of opponents to the bill feel strongly about their views, while a majority of those who favor the bill say they don’t feel strongly about their opinion.

In short, there is a core group of about one-third of Americans who are opposed to the bill, counterbalanced by only about one-tenth who support it. This is in the context of the largest group of Americans — a clear majority — that says they don’t know enough about the bill to have an opinion about it.

Opposition to the bill is very high — 61% — among those who are paying very close attention to it, while only 17% of this group favor it. The ratio of opposition to support drops among those who are following news of the bill somewhat closely, and even more so among the few Americans not paying much attention to the bill who have an opinion.”

Basically, there is a fringe element, the "hard core" that is focused on the issue and is willing to put all their time and effort into it, and a much larger number of much more reasonable people who are more or less apathetic. In this case, being appothetic is reasonable, since illegal immegration isn't really much of a threat to anyone other than those few who are caught up in "ethnic identity politics".

If they are allowed to make their case without being called on their bigotry, it will encourage them and perhaps others to take the next step and to be more openly racist.

Most people ARE fed up with the immigration situation, and most pople would like to have REASONABLE, ENFORCEABLE laws that respect economic and geopolitical reality. It is the "hard core" bigots that prevent this. They just ain't reasonable - they are idelogical bigots who have found a socially acceptable way to express their hatred.

Let's make it socially unacceptable by calling it what it is.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor. Saying "they're illegal, they have no rights" is like suggesting that American citizens forfeit all their rights when they run a stop sign. It's ludicrous.

Can we just agree that the laws of the Constitution all need to be upheld? Then all you anti-immigration nativists can deport people to your heart's content - so long as it's done fairly, through due process.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Mike Serfas said...

Anonymous: if you're caught running a stop sign, that doesn't mean that you pay one fine and get the right to run through it from now on. Your rights will get trampled on every single time the cop sees you go through that sign. If I proposed an "amnesty" bill saying that everyone ticketed in the last five years for running a stop sign could pay a $5,000 special fine and get a paper to put in their car window allowing them the right to run any stop sign from now on, people would laugh at me.



Alan, I really hope the explanation isn't that only racists follow politics. My interpretation is that most people recognize there's a problem with the current situation, but were very unpleasantly surprised when they actually looked at the proposed bill. Congress is split between the fantasy that you can permanently stop immigration at a fence, and the fantasy that giving more than ten million people citizenship for entering the country illegally will not encourage more illegal immigration.

As far as I know the various recent proposals didn't even mention the peso/dollar exchange rate, nor regarded social inequality in Mexico as any of our business, nor did they any plan to catalog the jobs held by illegal immigrants receiving "amnesty" and ensure that they were subsequently desirable to and filled by citizens. Perhaps the implication was that the employers of more than ten million illegal aliens would see no choice but to raise their wages and benefits ... but who believes it?

I should add that I also strongly oppose the "anti-immigrant" provisions of the bill. Our country spends uncounted fortunes (literally a secret budget) hunting for phantoms and bogeymen, and the plans for "virtual fences" and biometric identifiers tie into that agenda. If you budget enough money for a complete "virtual fence" at the border they'll probably end up using it to research and develop "smart dust" (tiny 'bugs' that can be dropped from airplanes and persist in the environment). How long is it from that until they have listening devices hidden in every park and state forest in the country? I don't believe in a police state - we haven't lost nearly as many people from terrorist attacks as from drunk driving or influenza, let alone cancer or heart disease. As terrible as the terror attacks turned out to be, having a free society was well worth the price we paid for it.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am often amazed when people say that the ACLU is chipping away at the middle class, yet so many pride themselves on backing president bush. I wonder why so many waste their time arguing on an ACLU blog instead of asking their President why he is stripping away their economic status, or why he is destroying their educational system, or better yet why he starts a war which only increases our chances of being the victims of another terrorist attack. Or perhaps ask the president why he then continues to strip away the rights of the middle class while failing to attend to tasks which could in fact strengthen our national security. Just wondering

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am often amazed when people say that the ACLU is chipping away at the middle class........."

The ACLU in its secret agenda to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants is assisting this president in free trade policies that include importing cheap labor to undermine the middle class. I see no difference between the ACLU and the president when it comes to promoting the welfare of illegal immigrants over that of the ciizen, and neither can most Americans. The ACLU is fast becoming one of the most disliked legal advocacy groups in this country, one no longer respected as defending the welfare of the people.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish what you say is true. If the ACLU is fast becoming one of the most hated advocacy groups, then it would imply that the ACLU has always been liked. After taking a look at its history, it has never been anything but one of the most hated advocacy groups.

Is anyone aware of empirical data that shows illegal immigrants hurt our economy? I have been looking but the only studies I can find show that they actually help our economy. If you are aware of any please post them. Note: I am only looking for valid studies. Meaning those that have followed some form of the scientific method.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Economists love illegal aliens, as they improve productivity tremendously. Economists would love slavery too, and they no doubt lament the end of the plantation. However, economists lack conciences and care little for the immorality of exploiting the poor or the heavy burden illegal aliens put upon the socioeconomic stucture of local communities. The big picture looks good to them and sacrificing some citizens for the sake of improving the big picture is typical of the economist. Unfortunately for them, the little guys, like the people of Hazleton refuse to roll over and die.

Liberals are shortsighted when it comes to amnesty, as they'd rather make this country complicit in the social injustices of Mexico by maintaining that country's safety valve against a revolution. Liberals are the masters of unintended consequences, as they'd risk an expansion of our welfare programs for the sake of illegal immigrants. I loathe liberals.

10:38 PM  

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