The “Border Beat” (March 24, 2006)

There has been flurry of immigration news this past week, most of it related to slow movements on the part of the federal government to find some alternative to workplace raids.  Here is the latest news from the borders that run deep into the heartland of this nation, and over a few of us along the way.

The “Border Beat” is at your service!

• “Pelosi Tells Illegal Immigrants That Work Site Raids are Un-American” (FOX News)
I know she looks crazy, but there’s a reasona bunch of smart people in San Francisco keep supporting Nancy Pelosi. It’s because, for a politician, she’s pretty smart, good, and principled. Well, she’s smart and good. Just look at what she told a bunch of Latinos in the beautiful city by the bay. And BTW, why do you think FOX was the only outlet to report this widely? Right! Because it the words “San Francisco,” “Pelosi,” and “legal and illegal immigrants” make them squeal like little, round…oh, sorry. I forgot this was on.

• “President Barack Obama to visit Mexico: Drug war, immigration to be discussed” (El Paso Times)
President O has scheduled his first trip to Mexico. Even though it will come during the spring break season–April 16-17–the two issues intended to dominate the meeting with Felipe Calderón are the twin “wars”–one drugs and one on brown bodies. Ironic that though both are forms of violence literally worsened by government enforcement and regulation, Obama’s team sees one as “Mexico’s fight” and the other as an issue in need of reform. Vamos a ver…

• “Obama’s civil rights nomination upsets some Latinos” (Los Angeles Times)
And here’s why President O made his big announcement about his upcoming trip to Mexico and his putting immigration front and center–because he had a room full of angry Latino politicos on his hands. The chispas from D.C. to L.A. is that Obama had picked Thomas Saenz to head up the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division (offered and accepted!) but then re-gifted his offer to another Latino star, Dominican American Thomas Perez. And why? Because Saenz is down with the illegals. And I ain’t even touching the whole “h” issue with which both “Tomás-es” struggle…

• “Obama wants to shift money, resources to SW border” (Associated Press)
Watch out what you wish for. Obama and company are stepping up the already healthy program of border militarization. Of course, they say its for added security in the wake of a wild Mexico drug war. What’s worse? Well, they’re prepping to make the argument that to afford it, we need to scale back workplace raids and shift funds to the border itself. So there! You get an end (or a reduction) in the human rights violations sponsored by your government, but we put more guns at the border. With friends like these…

• “Budget Cuts Lead to Health Service Cuts for Illegal Immigrants” (KNBC-TV)
Uhhhh, didn’t we already decide this in court? Oh yeah! That was the successful lawsuit against Prop. 187 that progressive won in defense of the human rights of immigrants, largely at the hand of lawyer Thomas Saenz, who Obama recently…ah man!

• “Recession changing flow of NE Ind. immigration” (Chicago Tribune)
This is less another story about the way a recession halts an immigration flow than it is a subtler phenomenon: how immigrants migrate within a receiver nation once here. No recession is evenly spread. And while home foreclosures are hitting the urban coasts in sharper ways than parts of the “heartland,” other aspects of the economic downturn are being more severely felt there.

• “A Slippery Place in the U.S. Work Force” (New York Times)
There is a reason people call it the only paper left in this country. In the latest installment of their ongoing “Remade in America” series, Julie Preston of the Times presents an exceedingly well-written story on the current economic crisis and immigration. For a follow-up, see the Times’ opinion section here.

Erik Estrada is my hero.

Holy former TV starts of the seventies Batman!  Turns out my sarcastic post of last week should have been written with a tone of serious warning to slacker parents in Muncie, IN: Watch out!  Erik Estrada “feels responsible for all children”!

From (no I don’t read it…okay, maybe once):

No baby shall suffer the perils of cold footsies while Erik Estrada is on the case!

We’re told while Estrada was on patrol as a reserve officer for Indiana’s Muncie Police Department, he risked his own safety for that of a child.

Police say during one of Erik’s midnight shifts, “he spotted a man and his girlfriend walking with a baby in the snow in 10 degree weather at 2 AM … the baby was only dressed in pajamas.”

That’s when Erik braved the freezing temperature and “got them inside.”

A hero never rests.

Erik Estrada feels “responsible for all children”

Here’s the second glimpse of the day into my life: I subscribe to a blog feed of news stories relating to Erik Estrada.  Needless to say, it is all a flutter today.  From today’s Star Press, out of East Central Indiana:

Erik Estrada returns to help MPD colleagues

by Rick Yencer
December 4, 2008

The Muncie Police Department’s most famous reserve officer on Wednesday squeezed off a few rounds on the gun range, reunited with some old friends and jumped into an MPD squad car to put in an overnight patrol shift.

Actor Erik Estrada — a star of the short-lived CBS-TV reality series Armed & Famous , which featured celebrities working as Muncie police officers — is back in Muncie this week, for the third consecutive December putting in his time as a reserve officer and helping some local charities with holiday efforts.

Estrada is scheduled to take part in a Muncie Crime Stoppers holiday food basket program today at Meijer, and the Muncie Fraternal Order of Police Shop-with-a-Cop program at Target on Saturday.

“As a law enforcement officer, I feel responsible for all children,” said Estrada, who recently completed filming a guest-star role in an episode of According to Jim with Jim Belushi.

The 60-year-old actor will also be working the midnight shift the next three nights for the MPD, patrolling city streets from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Best known as “Ponch” on the motorcycle cop drama CHiPs in the 1970s, Estrada first spent a few weeks in Muncie in the winter of 2006-2007, filming Armed & Famous with fellow celebrities Jack Osbourne, Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna, La Toya Jackson and former pro wrestler Trish Stratus.

The actor promised to return to Muncie yearly to help with the Shop-with-a-Cop program and keep his law enforcement status active, and did so in a week-long visit in December 2007.

MPD Lt. Al Williams and Sgt. Jay Turner were at the FOP’s eastside gun range with Estrada on Wednesday afternoon as he took some target practice with live rounds from his handgun.

Estrada said his stay in Muncie would definitely include a visit to the local Chili’s restaurant for lava cake.

The public appearances are set for 2 p.m. today at Meijer and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Target. Mayor Sharon McShurley, who recently took issue with Muncie firefighters raising charity funds on city time, will join the actor and other public safety officers at the Target event.

Police Capt. Charles Hensley, who oversees the Crime Stoppers and Shop-with-a-Cop programs, said Estrada was a big draw last year and helped raise money and awareness for children and people in need.

“We were just swamped last year with people wanting autographs,” Hensley recalled.

And the need for charities is even greater this Christmas with the economy in recession and growing unemployment as local government and businesses continue to cut jobs.

Estrada spent time Wednesday reuniting with some of the local stars ofArmed & Famous, including Jami Brown, a police detective who was his patrol car partner on the series. He also met with Deborah Davis, appointed police chief by McShurley since his last visit.

“I think it is exciting having a woman’s perspective,” Estrada said about a female running the police department. The actor said he was also looking forward to meeting McShurley.

Estrada said he had not seen Acuna or Stratus since the series ended, but was able to talk to Osbourne last December when the son of rock star Ozzy Osbourne also returned to Muncie to attend the MPD Christmas party.

When Estrada received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007, he was contacted by Jackson, who said she had heard he was planning a return visit to Muncie and wanted to accompany him.

Estrada told Jackson he was uncertain when he would be making the trip, explaining he was still upset with some of her antics while filming Armed & Famous. A portion of one episode dealt with reserve officer Jackson’s fear of cats.

When his most recent Muncie visit ends on Saturday, Estrada is returning to Hollywood to film a two-part episode of My Name is Earl. That role won’t be much of a stretch for the veteran actor; he’ll portray a celebrity icon named Erik Estrada.

Along with his charity work, Estrada has also been the spokesman for DARE, the national anti-drug program for school children.

Let’s be careful out there Ponch.


A Republican Interpretation of the Brown Within

Mike Delph is a member of the state Senate of Indiana. I don’t know to much about him, other than he has served in the position since 2005, he is from Indianapolis, he is a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, he has a penchant for showing up, and he is a Republican. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a genuine public servant.

Recently, this state politician has emerged front and center as part of Indiana’s recent investigation into the statewide “immigration problem.” His proposed legislation would seek to further punish employers of “illegal immigrants” in the hopes of saving state funds.

The general trend of state and local enforcement of the “illegal immigration problem” is problematic in itself. The notion that immigration of any kind costs more than it benefits states is largely disputed by those who research such topics in a thorough way, and hardly proved by those who do not. All immigrants pay taxes (sales and other) and undocumented pay ones they can never and never do take back out in social benefit (social security). These kinds of economic realities, in addition to the difficulty in measuring certain needed factors to make accurate calculations (how many illegal immigrants are there?), make definitive conclusions difficult. Regardless, even immigration restrictionists like George Borjas acknowledge the economics of the whole situation are too difficult to tease out and that, probably, they are a wash.

Even more problematic, the current trend (like the ones in the 1930s and 1950s in the Southwest) express an undercurrent of tension coming from an unstable economic life coupled with an unstable cultural one–the visible growth of Latinos in places they had previously been invisible. Indiana and a host of other places are becoming “brown” not only as a result of “illegal immigration.” Legal Latinos are moving to places in the U.S. other than California, and that is shocking and confusing to a lot of people living in these places. That it comes at a time when people are further feeling the declination in manufacturing (begun in the 1950s), the declination in stable union jobs (begun in the 1960s), the declination in regulation (begun in the 1970s), and the growth of the “global economy” (begun in the 1400s) makes it difficult to trust.

The most problematic aspect of these efforts is the way people pursue them from a position of assumption more than fact. In the face of complexity Americans turn to assumption a lot, because we are a “common sense” kind of people. Confusion and complexity are uncomfortable to us, and to our politicians. A lot of our “common sense” assumptions are knee-jerk; people have been so indoctrinated to think of things in one way they don’t even realize it when they are doing it.

Here’s where Mike Delph comes into the story. He wrote a recent op-ed piece for the Indianapolis Star in which he justified the need for his propose legislation. It reflects both the complexity of the current situation as well as the knee-jerk deployment of assumption. Here it is with some analysis on my part:

Illegal immigration exposes security gaps

By Mike Delph (Posted September 18, 2008)

According to Rakesh Kochlar with the Pew Hispanic Center, 80 percent of immigrants entering the United States from Mexico are illegal. That highlights the frustration of many Hoosiers regarding the federal government’s constitutional performance as Washington continues to claim tougher border enforcement. The much-anticipated summer study committee on illegal immigration began its work this month.

Law professors told us how immigration policy is strictly in the domain of the feds. Demographic experts told us that Indiana is becoming an “emerging Hispanic state” and that the vast majority of illegal immigrants living in Indiana enter through Mexico. A longtime Hoosier patriot of Mexican descent defended the value of “undocumented workers” to the diversity and economic vitality of Indiana.

What’s lost in the discussion is the rule of law and the immediate national security threat to our state and nation from not knowing who is in our country and for what purpose.

It’s a good beginning. He’s drawn the reader in by quoting a expert that is part of a reputable organization who’s research studies often provide conclusive evidence that is Latino-favorable. He summarizes some of the testimony, but then, without confronting any of it, moves on to his own point.

Then, it turns sour. He invokes two constructs–two loaded, fluid, and largely unspecific ideas that have a lot of power in knee-jerk assumption land: rule of law AND national security threat. Now hold on…

In 1986, President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act giving amnesty to all illegal aliens who had remained underground for four years or more. It was billed as the “most comprehensive reform” to meeting the problem of illegal immigration.

The country was told that it would be the last amnesty program ever needed as it placed the burden on employers to validate the status of current and future employees. It attempted to hold employers accountable for knowingly and willingly hiring illegal workers. However, the only real enforcement of the law was the blanket pardon given to those living underground.

I’d argue that the law also created a system that could not possibly regulate employer behavior but that certainly could (and did) provide them with plausible deniability. It also did nothing to address the formal legal and economic mechanisms which allowed key “illegal-employing” industries to continue their unfettered access to a near limitless supply of dislocated foreign labor. But all that is part of the complexity.

Today the problem has not been solved and, in a post-9/11 world, Americans are at risk because of the complacency and incompetence of Washington. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, no friend of the United States, continues to develop ties with Middle Eastern enemies. Al-Qaida continues to exploit the playbook of Hezbollah and Hamas in recruiting men and women in economic despair. And a hemisphere of potential recruits goes unnoticed while human rights are exploited in the unquenchable thirst for cheap labor and higher profits.

Now its gets juicy. He has now associated immigration with terrorism and 9/11. It is simple common sense to him, even without going through the impossible steps of proving it. Border security against hypothetical terrorism and border regulation for immigration might seem like the same thing because they both relate to government presence on “the border,” but that is a stupid as me saying saline and heroine are the same because they both go in my arm through a needle.

According to a recent congressional report, “a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists remains the single greatest threat to our nation.” Hoosiers are a welcoming people and admire hard work and achievement. However, in a post-9/11 world, we have to be very careful and mindful of our surroundings.

I have never known of any immigrant from Mexico who came to the U.S. to blow it up. Have you?

I talked last year of the exploitation of human beings for profit and of the real cost borne every day by Hoosier taxpayers in health care, education and social services. This year I will continue to do so, but I will also try to get my fellow citizens to think about the security of our state and country. Thomas Jefferson once said that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” If our state and nation are to continue to prosper, then we have to enforce the law. We have a right to set the rules by which others become citizens. We have a right to know who is in our country and for what purpose. And we have a right to hold those governments and people accountable for violating our laws.

What an ending! He ties it all together about as tightly as a tossed salad here, invoking the broad spectrum of political positions he wants us to consider. He’s for human rights and protecting these poor immigrants, but then he thinks they are an economic drain. He invokes Tom Jefferson, though I think Jefferson’s quote reflects more on growing government attempts to limit human liberty than he wants it to. Finally, he spread a heavy layer of the most powerful and unquestioned assumption: rule of law.

Laws are as human created as any social construct. Slavery and many incomprehensible horrors in U.S. history were legal. Declaring us as a nation dedicated to the rule of law suggests that the legal is somehow more pure, more “out there” and absolute, than it actually is. And anyway, who isn’t a nation of laws?  All nations are in existence only because of the ways they are elucidated in laws.

Most importantly, Delph is espousing the very kind of analysis that is pushing Latinos in droves from the Republican right to the Democratic center. The Republican mantra on immigration–largely constructed to win over votes from their base–is doing little to meaningfully and truthfully address the problems at hand.  And, it might even be shaping a future where the Latino electorate becomes the Democratic bloc the equivalent of the African American electorate.