November 2006


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“Our attitude toward immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as their talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.” -Robert Kennedy

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Introduction to Nonviolence

Here are two course feeds taught at UC Berkeley about nonviolence.

Introduction to Nonviolence.

Nonviolence Today.

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Vatican Official Criticizes U.S. Border Fence Plan

ROME, Nov. 14 — A top Vatican official called the Bush administration’s plans for hundreds of miles of new security fences on the United States-Mexico border “inhuman.”
“Speaking of borders, I must unfortunately say that in a world that greeted the fall of the Berlin Wall with joy, new walls are being built between neighborhood and neighborhood, city and city, nation and nation,” said Cardinal Renato Martino, according to news agency reports.

Continued…

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My Brief Analysis of the Two Bills

I’m not an economist, but this is how I see the general ideas behind the two opposing bills. Illegal immigration is a problem in this country, I haven’t met anyone who disagrees with that statement (though if you do, please present your ideas, I’d like to consider new arguments). The question seems to be about how to fix the problem.

If we think of Illegal immigration as a variable in a very simple arithmetic formula, I think we can think more clearly about it. The number of people who immigrate illegally to the United States is simply the number of people left after subtracting the number of visas and deterred non-immigrants from the number of immigrant workers demanded by the U.S. labor market. A formula could be created like this: l – v – d = i, where l is the number of laborers demanded, v is the number of visas issued, d is the number of would-be immigrants who do not migrate because of U.S. deterrents (border patrol, etc.), and i is the number of immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally.

Given this straightforward understanding, the House bill seems to want to decrease the number of illegal immigrants by increasing the number of non-immigrants deterred from migrating, while the Senate bill seems to want to decrease the number of illegal immigrants by increasing the number of visas given.

I, of course, think that increasing visa limits is the proper and urgent approach to the current problem. Eventually, I believe we should return to the belief in the “Inherent and inalienable right of man [and woman] to change his [and her] home and allegiance.”

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Midterm Election Results and Possible Effects

After checking the election results, and counting House votes on HR4437 (the very anti-immigration bill), I don’t think this election will get us any closer to where we’d like to be.

To catch you up, in case you are unaware, the most recent Congress passed two very different immigration bills that could not be reconciled. The Senate passed a bill (S. 2611) that would provide a guest worker program–something I’m absolutely opposed to–a path to citizenship for many immigrants here illegally, and most importantly, a five-fold increase in the number of visas offered each year. (Even with the guest worker provision, I think S. 2611 would be a huge step in the right direction.) The House, on the other hand, passed a bill, 4437, that would criminalize illegal immigration and further militarized the border.

The press has been reporting that with the Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, and a sympathetic President Bush, the Senate plan for immigration reform might ironically pass. I had some initial, gut-reaction reservations because many of the new Democratic representatives were being described as conservative. Then I did the roll-call vote count. My gut-reaction is now full-on cynacism. I don’t believe the House will adopt the Senate bill, and here’s why.

There were changes in 47 House seats, with a possibility of 9 more that are currently undecided, (though 6 of these are leaning toward the incumbent). Of these 47 changes, 34 voted in favor of HR 4437, 10 voted against it, and 3 did not vote. But several of the changes were due to term limits or for some other reason did not change parties. Of these changes, only 22 were Republican controlled seats that voted for the bill that changed to Democratic. HR 4437 initially passed by a count of 239 to 182, so even if all of these Democrats are alligned against the dehumanizing bill, that still leaves a majority of the House that would seem to favor it. If this bill were to come up in the 110th Congress, I think it would still pass, though by a slimmer margin (217 to 204).

Of course, the issue is much more complex than this, but I use it to illustrate that the Democratic victory doesn’t necessarily mean that we are closer to increased immigration levels or citizenship. Nor do we seem to be any further from the idea of a border fence and criminalizing undocumented immigration.

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