Friday, September 25, 2009

Immigrant Rights

“Sovereignty” seems to have become the most common argument in favour of placing restrictions on the entry of aliens at the borders. Nativists often use a variation of the above by staying “since it is my country then I am free to do whatever I want”. And unfortunately whenever the above sentiment is made explicit it often end the conversation; it goes unchallenged. Is it really that simple and that clear that a sovereign state has the right to infringe on the rights of others?
Let us subject the above “argument” to some cursory analysis, shall we? Let us assume that a New York citizen agrees to hire 10 Asians to help with the farm work. Does the state have the right to prevent entry to those with whom he has freely signed a contract? Isn’t such interference by the state as much of an infringement on the rights of one of its own citizens as much as it is an interference with the right of the imported labour? I always thought that the purpose of the state is to protect the rights of its citizens and not violate them.
Another issue to consider is that of natural rights. We all know that the US declaration of independence is essentially based on the natural rights ideas promulgated by Locke. All individuals possess the same natural rights, whether citizens or noncitizens. This implies that the state should enforce the laws equally but does not have the right to discriminate; aliens should be held to the same standards as all other citizens but not to either a higher or a lower standard. To do otherwise is nothing short of veiled discrimination.
When the US Supreme court and many of the state supreme courts, such as New Jersey and Texas, declare school funding programs that rely solely on property taxes unconstitutional they are in essence striking down discriminatory zoning laws designed to keep the riff raffs out of certain school districts. But aren’t these illegal measures just as offensive as the arbitrary laws of excluding aliens from residing in a country? When we commit any of the above are we not acting like the lords of the manor?
Many will agree with the gist of the above and others will object vehemently to what is being said. That is to be expected and a civil dialogue about the rights of immigrants will benefit all of us.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is Immigration Reform Around the Corner?

The following is an item that appeared in the press yesterday. Please note that there just might be some major legislative development in the area of Immigration Reform before the end of this semester. The skeptic in me says that October 13 is a date that will come and go without hearing from Rep. Gutierrez. Time will tell :-)

"At a gathering in Washington this week, long-time immigration reform advocate Congressman Luis Gutierrez announced that he would soon introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House. This marker bill is likely to have something for everyone in it, combining the DREAM Act, family reunification, a legalization program, and even smart-enforcement components. He gave the self-imposed deadline of October 13 for the framework to be ready and it couldn’t come sooner.

The lack of immigration reform continues to plague the administration at every turn, and plays a role in every major legislative battle the administration has fought since the inauguration. It came up in the stimulus bill and is now making a command appearance in the health care reform debate."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Health care for illegals,

One of the most contentious issues in the current health care debate has nothing to do with the health coverage of US citizens. Yes, you have guessed it, it is the issue that led a congressman to call President Obama a lier on national television.
The administration and all its supporters claim that the new proposed health care reforms being championed by the White House would not provide any coverage whatsoever to the illegal/undocumented immigrants in the country while most of the opposition make the counter claim that up to 6 million undocumented individuals would most likely be covered under the new plan.
Well, who is right and who is wrong? As difficult as this might be to believe, both are right and both are wrong at the same time. Technically the new health care reform would not provide any subsidies to any of the illegal/undocumented individuals but there are no active provisions to prevent these workers and their families from misleading the authorities by taking advantage of the lack of enforcement to get coverage that they were not targeted to get. Realistically many will find a way to cheat the system in the same way that many find a way to cheat on their income taxes, job applications and yes school exams. At times, we spend on enforcement more than the potential savings achieved from the strict adherence to the intention of a particular policy, and so we have to ask whether it is worth it to spend huge sums of money in order to prevent people from accessing health care?
The argument to provide heath care to those that need it, whether undocumented or not, does not rest on the human rights premise only but it can be shown that it is more efficient for all of us if we subsidize health care to undocumented because once the illness is severe and it requires urgent medical attention then we do provide medical aid through the expensive ER route.
So the question should not be concerned with the possibility that some will cheat but whether we should encourage people to cheat by depriving them of a service that will increase their own welfare and ours simultaneously. What do you think? Why shouldn't we provide health care to those that are working for us?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Kind of a Dialogue Are We Going to Have?

We asked for a labor force but human beings came...

I'm sure everyone has a view on immigration but most likely the majority of Americans aren't aware of the legal, social, economic, and political aspects of US immigration. There's lots of misinformation out there, some of it quite intentional. Emotions are fine as long as they don't interfere with the facts. I don't have a problem with people putting a stake down on an issue, but I do have a problem when this stake is put down on false pretences and false impressions.

A learned person, with a critical mind, who really wants to know the facts, is able to amend his/her views when better information or reasonable argument is presented. Unfortunately, too many people will not reveal their true prejudice and instead choose to fight against a notion on different grounds. For example, health care reform will cost a lot more because all the "illegals" will get medical (and free) care...

I'm looking forward to having a discussion here. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome message

This blog is meant for the exchange of ideas especially between the students registered in the Immigration course at Pace University. The comments will not be moderated and so you are asked to express your ideas and beliefs clearly , un-apologetically but to apply restraint to the choice of words :-)

Let us cut to the chase and ask each one to post a comment about what Immigration measures you would advocate if you had the power to pass any legislation that your heart desires . (That would be nice wouldn't it? lol)