Tag: immigration

Of Manassas and Guernica, tomorrow’s battle in Virginia

On April 26, 1937, twenty-four bombers of the German Luftwaffe “Condor Legion” with the help of a subordinate Italian expeditionary force, dropped forty tons of bombs, on the town of Guernica in the Basque Country of Spain.  Up to 1,600 people were killed and three quarters of the city’s buildings were reported completely destroyed. The raid, called Operation Rügen, is generally viewed as the Luftwaffe’s first test of the tactics of terror-bombing that would become the hallmark of the Nazi blitzkrieg as it swept through Europe two years later.

Just as Franco’s Spain was used as a testing ground for the tactics, men and machines that would later wreak havoc on a global scale, tomorrow in Virginia, we will be witness to a test of a new blitzkrieg of sorts. The Republican Party will be testing, on a statewide basis, its latest strategy and weaponry for the coming 2008 election cycle… the immigration wedge. 

Tomorrow is Election Day. Here in Virginia, 140 state legislative seats are at stake.

Our airwaves have been dominated in recent days with campaign ads. Interestingly, just about all of them mention immigration, and none of them accuse the opponent of being too harsh….

Tomorrow will be an interesting test case on the power of the immigration issue…

If Republicans exceed expectations – and things have looked pretty gloomy for the state GOP in recent cycles – and the issue of illegal immigration is key, you will hear a lot about that issue from coast to coast next year.

National Review

Looking to the Root Causes of Migration: NAFTA

Over the last few years, over 1000 migrants have perished making the hazardous journey through the desert to make new lives in “el Norte.” Some were small coffee growers from Vera Cruz, chicken farmers from Jalisco, or vegetable growers from Guadalajara. Others were indigenous subsistence farmers from the Chiapas highlands no longer able to eek out a living. Still others were Guatemalan migrant workers who could not find work on either side of Mexico’s border and jumped on El Tren de Muerte (The Death Train) in Tapachula for the first leg of their journey, boarding alongside Salvadorans escaping decades of political upheaval and Hondurans escaping crushing poverty.

Between 6 and 7 million people have taken the arduous journey north, many within the last ten years, most of them coming from poor agriultural areas that are no longer able to support their populations. Yet, with all the debate about reforming US immigration policy and securing the borders, we have not heard one solid proposal to address the root causes of this massive migration.

The question of why so many must leave their homes and families to simply survive is rarely mentioned, but remains the missing piece in the comprehensive immigration reform puzzle.

Blackwater may soon be patrolling our own borders!

In case you thought all the recent bad news about Blackwater might be curtailing the market for private military contractors, two new reports suggest otherwise. Given the Bush Administration’s obsessive efforts to privatize our entire government, it should come as no surprise that Blackwater may be, in fact, as have so many Bush cronies, failing upward. What they have done to Iraq, they may soon have the opportunity to do on our own border.

First, the New York Times reports that the privatization of security in Iraq has been acknowledged to be a mess and a disaster. This according to an internal State Department report, and an audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

A State Department review of its own security practices in Iraq assails the department for poor coordination, communication, oversight and accountability involving armed security companies like Blackwater USA, according to people who have been briefed on the report. In addition to Blackwater, the State Department’s two other security contractors in Iraq are DynCorp International and Triple Canopy.

At the same time, a government audit expected to be released Tuesday says that records documenting the work of DynCorp, the State Department’s largest contractor, are in such disarray that the department cannot say “specifically what it received” for most of the $1.2 billion it has paid the company since 2004 to train the police officers in Iraq.

The review was ordered last month by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and did not include the recent massacre of seventeen Iraqi civilians by Blackwater “guards.” The FBI gets to investigate that one.

But in presenting its recommendations to Ms. Rice in a 45-minute briefing on Monday, the four-member panel found serious fault with virtually every aspect of the department’s security practices, especially in and around Baghdad, where Blackwater has responsibility.

Not much new, in that. Virtually every aspect of everything the Bush Administration has done in Iraq has been found to be at serious fault. If the words “serious fault” can somehow encapsulate mass murder, torture, and a humanitarian crisis that has created more than 4,000,000 refugees.

The report also urged the department to work with the Pentagon to develop a strict set of rules on how to deal with the families of Iraqi civilians who are killed or wounded by armed contractors, and to improve coordination between American contractors and security guards employed by agencies, like various Iraqi ministries.

Strict rules would be nice for a lot of things, in Iraq, but this borders on the surreal. Strict rules for dealing with the families of civilians who are killed and wounded?

“Oops. Sorry. Have some money, and we’ll try not to kill anyone else. Today.”

How about some strict rules in pursuance of the goal of not killing or wounding civilians? 

Welcome to the police state

Being of a certain age, much of my early worldview was shaped by childhood indoctrination about authoritarian states, I guess you could call me part of the “Duck and Cover” generation.  Taught from an early age about the evils of communism and fascism, we were often told that one of the greatest differences between free societies like our own, and evil totalitarian states, was that here in America one was safe to voice political views or dissent without fear of government retribution. We had no Siberian exile, Gulags, or internment camps. The police did not burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest you on trumped up charges simply for voicing opinions contradictory to government policy.

Yet given today’s current situation, it is no longer quite so easy to draw such simplistic comparisons.

Under the current administration, no thinking person can honestly say that they don’t feel the slow grip of government overreach extending into the fabric of everyday life. An uneasiness has settled across the nation, somehow instinctively knowing that we are teetering on a precipice from which at any moment we could be sent spiraling down into the depths of  a fascist nightmare straight out of the a futuristic novel.

First they wanted your papers… now they want your DNA

Ok, I know America’s all filled up, and that bombing Mecca would solve all our foreign policy problems. I even know that Miami is like a third world country and that the only way to solve all this nation’s problems is to build a giant wall and outlaw the Spanish language.

But now even by his own absolutely insane standards, Colorado Congressman, and Republican Presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, may have actually stepped over the rather broad line that separates wingnuttery from sheer lunacy.

On the same day the diminutive, Coloradoan, tough-guy registered as the first Republican Presidential candidate in the New Hampshire primary,  he introduced a bill in Congress that would require all foreigners  seeking visas to visit family members in the US to supply DNA samples to prove their family ties.

Of course their citizen, or legal-resident family members would also be required to supply a corresponding sample to it check against.

Filipino-American Sentenced for Espionage

For some time now Michelle Malkin (née Maglalang) has been helping keep America safe from murderous hordes of foreigners by alerting us every time she hears about a horrendous crime committed by an illegal alien.

Living in Limbo

Sometime in the next few weeks the Senate will once again take up legislation regarding immigration reform. This time it will be the DREAM Act sponsored by Sen.Dick Durbin(D-Il). The legislation would allow hundreds of thousands of students who were brought here as children by their undocumented parents to go on and complete their education and eventually earn the right to become legal residents and citizens.

This piece of legislation is so important right now because the right-wing, flush from their victory in stalling any form of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, have decided to make defeating the DREAM Act their top priority. They feel that they are in a position now where they do not need to give an inch on any reforms, and would view the passage of DREAM as a major defeat.

Unfortunately it is the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids that are being effected by this Washington gamesmanship. With that in mind, I’m more than willing to risk the appearance of monotony, and discuss another group of young people who anxiously await the passage of DREAM …those who have already graduated from college …because their futures depend on it now.

We Have a Dream

Each year approximately 2.8 million students graduate from US High Schools. Some will go on to college, join the military, or take other paths in life, hopefully all becoming productive members of society. But for approximately 65,000 of them, these opportunities will never be available. Not because they lack motivation, or achievement, but because of the undocumented status passed on to them by their parents.

Lacking legal status and social security numbers, these students, raised and schooled in the US, cannot apply to college, get jobs other than those at the bottom of the economic ladder, or otherwise follow their dreams. They grew up on American soil, worked hard and succeeded in spite of all odds, and want nothing more than to be recognized as individuals and not just the holders of a status they had no part in acquiring.

In Washington, politicians have debated the fate of these kids for more than seven years, holding lives and futures in their hands while vying for political advantage. But lost in the debate are the voices of the children – voices that should be heard. 

My friend from Santa Rosalia, Baja

This is a slightly edited version of a story I did last year in July about a friend of mine. Juan didn’t go back to Baja after all past Christmas. He told me it would be too difficult to return here and he has few people left in Santa Rosalia now. He’d like to go back before he dies, though. That’s what he told me.

I haven’t seen Juan for almost four months – the longest it’s been since I met him years ago. When the weather gets cold here in Seattle, perhaps he will knock on my door.

Juan, I have more work for you, and a pot of coffee to brew.

There is a town by the name of Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California.  When you hear a Santa Rosalia native say the name, the word “Rosalia” has the most lyrical and lovely sound, and you imagine the town as a woman, dark hair captured at the nape of a long and elegant neck, red rose behind the ear, smoky eyes. A sultry rolling “R”, a slightly flat “O”, and softer “S” – “Rosalia”.

Sunset at Santa Rosalia A story below the fold…

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