27 April, 2006

Depends On What Your Definition Of "Reform" Is

I am not best pleased with recent developments on the immigration front.

Read the article. And then explain to me exactly what kind of alledged reform the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, otherwise known as the Hagel-Martinez bill mentioned in the article (And further known as S.2612, for those that like to have the bill reference in hand.), is supposed to be.

The big features of the bill, at least on the front of illegal immigrants:
  • Allowing access to citizenship after five years of residence. Under the current rules, the minimum length of time required to gain citizenship after an unlawful entry into this country was... five years as a legal permanent resident.
  • Those under the five-year mark are separated into two groups: those with residence between two and five years, and those under the two-year mark.
  • The first group would be eligible for citizenship, but only after returning to their country of origin to receive their documentation. The current system for "resident alien" status? Must return to the country of origin to receive their documentation.
  • The second group, those with residency on under two years, are ineligible to apply for citizenship under this system, but may still apply for legal permanent residence status. The current system? Those with under two years are eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.
  • Illegal immigrants who choose to serve in the United States Armed Forces have a lowered time-in-country requirement of 2 years. Under the current system, the time required is a minimum of one year of service and current legal permanent resident status.
(Current system data gathered from this document. [Large PDF warning] Proposed system data gathered from S.2612, Sec. 601, short titled as the "Immigrant Accountability Act of 2006".)

Seriously, folks. With this proposal, pretty much everything stays the same. And those who take the one absolute path to guaranteed citizenship, service in the US military, have their requirements lengthened.

I fail to see the reform in this reform.

Now, a true Democratic partisan in this debate would probably say something along the lines of "Well, that's probably why Bush supports this bill. The Do-Nothing President in action!"

Which means that, for the first time on this issue, I would actually agree with a Democratic partisan. You may now go have a heart attack due to the sheer shock of the concept.

20 April, 2006

Another Thing To Ponder

Tell me what exactly this would accomplish?
"We are going to have several meetings; we are going to have thousands and thousands of people sign petitions. . . . We will register people to vote and send thousands of e-mails to legislators," said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland in Silver Spring.
You know, I'd really hate to break this to Mr. Torres, but I'm afraid I have to.

You see, you have to be a citizen in this country, whether by birth or naturalization, to vote here. (Link with PDF warning.) And seeing as how a large plurality of his target audience probably hasn't reached that penultimate step yet, what use is a voter registration drive? Unless, however, he's suggesting that they stack the voter rolls with ineligible voters. In that case, this article would be Exhibit #1 in his trial for election fraud.

[Turn signals: Instapundit and Captain's Quarters.]

This Has Got To Hurt

I have been doing the randomizer routine again. Every so often, I just start clicking onto random blogroll entries and seeing what there is to see, reading what there is to read, and pondering what there is to ponder. A vast majority of the time, it leaves me shaking my head while wondering if George Carlin was a bit too optimistic when he said, "Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are stupider than that."

This time was very different.

Our current bit of wisdom comes via Unreconstructed, which is a very unapologetic Southern Conservative blog. This would naturally not be the type of blog that I would normally read. And yet, the fact that he linked to a review of The Bush Betrayal by James Bovard, said review written by yet another heavily Southern Conservative individual named Ryan Setliff, speaks volumes to me about how many segments of the other side of the double yellow line are viewing the President.

Go ahead and read this on your own time. For now, I'll leave you with this line, as cited by Ryan Setliff, from Senator John Randolph:
It is my duty to leave nothing undone that I may lawfully do, to pull down this administration... They who, from indifference, or with their eyes open, persist in hugging the traitor to their bosom, deserve to be insulted... deserve to be slaves, with no other music to soothe them but the clank of the chains which they have put on themselves and given to their offspring.
Intriguing, no?

18 April, 2006

The End Of the World

Ladies and Gentlemen, be prepared. Life as we know it is about to expire dramatically. And should this blog end, then you, my loyal readers (All four of you.), will know the cause.

Meet Swords Crossed. A most unlikely team, made up by Josh TreviƱo of RedState and Tacticus fame, Armando of DailyKos, and Pyrrho, have teamed up to make what will probably be the most explosive blog since... Actually, I can't think of anything close to this in potential.

I don't believe I will be reading Swords Crossed on a regular basis. After all, Armando's elevation to the frontpage of the Daily Kos was one of the reasons I stopped reading it, and Tacticus gives me the willies each and every single time I look at it. Yet I felt it important to warn you of the existence of said blog. You know, just in case it actually does cause the world to end once the official launch date of April 24th arrives.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by Balloon Juice.

10 April, 2006

Light The Fires

It might behoove you all to go over and read through Talking Points Memo these days. Why? Because Josh Marshall is being the uber-diety of blogdom again. Everything you really didn't want to know about a possible escalation towards Iran and were deathly afraid to ask, it's all condensed into that neat journalistic prose that Josh favors.

Oh, and on a personal note, this blog received visitor number 1000 today. Thank you.

06 April, 2006

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down

In a comment on this post by Colorado Luis back at the end of December, Andrew of the Wash Park Prophet wrote one sentence that really made me start to think about how we on the left really view the immigration issue. So much so that I saved it for when I could set aside enough time to seriously finish thinking about it, or at least get a good head start.
The United States is well known for its success in integrating immigrants into its society (call it a melting pot or a salad bowl as you will), and birthright citizenship has been an important part of that success. [Emphasis mine.]
Is this a case of painting everything with the same broad rose-colored brush? Or is it simply a case of a different point of view, and one which I do not necessarily possess?

You see, I have a lot of face-to-face contact with a high number of immigrants, from all areas of the world, due to my area of employment. Nigerians and Eritreans, Germans and Mexicans, Thai and Chinese: I see them all, and on a regular basis. So regular that, for at least half the time, I know their usual requests for items kept behind the counter. And for those that do not have a language barrier, I learn a bit about their families, their homelands, and (occasionally) their languages.

And that last part is the telling one for me, as pretty much every non-English-native speaker is either making the effort to be fluent in English, or have already done so. Some have progressed to the point where their native accents show very rarely. And the exception that proves the rule tends to be Spanish-language speakers.

Rarely do I have to delve into my pathetic knowledge of German in order to assist a customer. And never have I been required to dredge up the few words of Arabic or Twi or Farsi or Thai that I've picked up over time. So why is it that my Spanish has progressed by leaps and bounds in comparison to what I had learned in high school?

Every other immigrant group, regardless of where they originated from, has allowed themselves to be culturally assimilated into the standard American manner of speech. That includes my own ancestors, soon after they passed through the gates of Ellis Island. They put aside their dependence on their native tongues; Croatian, German, Dutch, Italian, and Gaelic (the latter of which was my great-great-grandmother Aida NicLeod, who came from the Isle of Man in April, 1866); and set themselves to the oft-times arduous task of learning the language of their new nation. They wanted to fit in, to prosper, to be Americans.

This is usually called the "Melting Pot Effect" by American sociologists. Yet it is not quite an accurate description of what once happened with immigrant populations. I prefer to call it the Merry-Go-Round Effect, as there was a definite cyclical series of events involved. First, an individual would come into this country from Insert Other Country Here. Next would come a period of learning about how things worked in their new country, an initial assimilation for such concepts as culture and language skills, and so forth. Both during and after this process would come relative prosperity in this country, if not outright economic success, and fully becoming a citizen of this country. This, in turn, would inspire more immigrants, often from the same town or village as the original immigrant, to come and achieve the same successes for themselves. This trend is repeated pretty much ad infinitum until the present day and, for many areas of the world, continues to work well.

So why do so many immigrants from anyplace south of San Diego decline to ride? Personally, I place some of the blame on the true Liberal Left, if that's not a repetitive descriptor. The base philosophical viewpoint, particularly among the Politically Correct crowd, is that all cultures are valuable to the nation, and should be encouraged. For some reason, this is extended to the language barrier: those that don't want to learn [insert language here] in order to "assist the immigrant population in their quest to create a new life while maintaining the cultures and traditions of their original homelands", as one of my former college professors (who we actually called The Flaming PC Liberal Airhead behind her back) once rattled off.

And, in truth, most Spanish speakers don't need to learn English, as there's been more than enough accommodation for that language in everyday life. Government-issued forms almost always have a Spanish-language counterpart. Business proudly declare in their advertisements "Se habla Espanol!" to drag in those other-lingual shoppers, even when they don't spell it right. The fastest-growing broadcast media segments in the country are those with Spanish-language programming, whether in radio or television. And in the majority of major American cities, there are significant chunks of the area where you can not hear a single word in English spoken on the streets.

Now, I will admit that this is not a particularly unique concept, as there are at least two other immigrant groups that have done the same thing. However, the immigrant areas of San Francisco and New York known as Chinatown and the areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco known as Little Tokyo are just that: specific geographic areas where those specific national cultures, including languages, are maintained and celebrated. Additionally, and particularly with those of Chinese descent, those areas tend to be very insular and mostly self-sufficient except for in areas such as city services: water and power, public safety, etc. Outside of those specific areas, immigrants from those cultures have, for the vast majority, undergone the process of assimilation into American culture and society. And further, some of these areas were founded in times where there was a direct distrust, if not outright hatred, of that specific ethnic group. Which would, in all actuality, bring them in line with a third group of somewhat insular immigrants that were not well accepted, but now considered the quintessential ideal, by some American citizens: the Irish. (After all, how many non-Irish are out there that celebrate St. Patrick's Day, or, if you prefer the original spelling of St. Padraig compared to non-Mexicans that celebrate Cinco de Mayo?)

So why do immigrants from Latin and South America seem to bypass part of the American Merry-Go-Round and not assimilate? As I wrote earlier in this post, some might not feel that they need to, due to the accomodiations our society has allowed for them. Yet there is a second factor, ease of access, that seems to take a part in this. For almost every other immigrant group, there is a definite barrier involved, not too unlike the great big wall that some portions of American society wish to place along the southern border, called an ocean. An oceanic barrier is much more than just a wall, however. It becomes an almost insurmountable obstacle for those wanting to come to this country, and so they must do so via legal routes. (There are extra-legal methods to cross the oceanic barriers of course, such as the Cuban rafts washing up on South Florida beaches. Few barriers are perfect.) This extra effort required for legal immigration has, perhaps, caused a greater emphasis on the need to assimilate. After all, they choose to become strangers in a strange land, and becoming a part of that land would be a form of a safety blanket.

Yet with the relative ease of illegally crossing the border by land, perhaps that need is not felt. After all, some areas of Mexico have been almost completely depopulated due to immigration, whether legal or illegal, into the United States. Of course, this begs a question in my mind: Why would they not choose to become citizens of this country, particularly seeing as how there is very little left for them back in their home towns? Why risk being on the recieving end of a deportation proceeding if there is nothing left for you to go back to?

This point is probably the most perplexing for me, particularly in light of the "Jumping The Line" point I made at the end of my previous post on the subject. Foreign nationals that are already in this country, legally or illegally, have a significant advantage in applying for citizenship compared to those still residing in their home countries. So why is it that there seems to be no significant impetus within the Hispanic community towards gaining citizenship here in the United States?

I know there's someone out there that can provide some insight into this thought process. After all, that is the magic of a blog. The question is, will they be able to find this. And if they do, will they set aside the seemingly automatic distrust of any gringo who tries to ask them about why illegal immigrants do what they do.