Welcome to the immigrationstudies.org 2009 fall semester Blogsite! Here students of Special Topics: Immigration Policy (SOC) 370, INTS 398, ASIA 397, University faculty, and others interested in this subject can express their views on the great American immigration debate or enhance communication on their course. Some of your comments may be the subject of my lectures. If you have not already done so, please register on blogger.com. This will allow you to post comments on this blogsite! Please also take part in our informal survey about immigrants and health care reform, to the right of this site.
I also welcome students and faculty to provide commentary, news and/or other information on a particular immigration subject. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to this topic and I welcome immigration-related information. While this blog is primarily textual, I encourage focus on immigration-related photographs (photoblogs), videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting) as well.
We are a nation of immigrants and it is important to express constructive viewpoints on this great issue. You are now part of the Great American Debate on Immigration!
For the immigration policy class, please first register ON BLOGGER.COM and review comments made my me and your classmates.
--Christopher Helt, Esq. Lecturer, Loyola University of Chicago.
WEEK ONE CLASS MATERIAL COVERED
-Course Overview, our class blogsite and field trip to Immigration Court and LaUnica
-Immigration, the great "American Debate"
-Geraldo vs. O'Reilly: Does this symbolize the divergence of opinion on immigration reform in America?
-Statistics on undocumented aliens and health care reform
-House Bill 3200 and current legislation. Who does it really cover?
-OBAMA & Health Care Reform
-Three reasons why one "comes to America"
-Four Ways to "come to America"
-Blogsite entry assignment by you due next week
-Next Week's Reading Assignment given
READING ASSIGNMENT FOR WEEK ONE
• READ Daniels, Chapters 1 and 2). Daniels pp. 1-9 Coming to America (Cont’d): We are a Nation of Immigrants. The first immigrants. What is an immigrant. Nativist? What is an Alien, Illegal (undocumented) & otherwise.
• READ GERALDO, Chapter 1, “ Proud To Be An American” and Chapter 2, “Probing the Panic”
• Register on Blogger.com. Mandatory Blog Assignment, based on blogsite list of topics and 100-200 word critique, due next week.
• Answer survey on class blogspot.
Although the United States is a country built on immigrants, and immigration, immigration reforms and policies seemed to have been put on a backburner lately. As a result to the lack of Federal reforms, States are doing what they can to deal with the illegal immigrants showing up in their states, making the matters worse. States like Arizona, that have stricter policies on illegal immigrants, force aliens to move to states with more lenient policies. Putting up walls, and applying harsher policies won’t stop aliens from coming to the States, so rather that implementing policies that endanger de life of many aliens coming into the country, the government should consider viable solutions for the problem, maybe establish temporal work programs to allow immigrants to come to the states legally.
TIME’s, ‘Does This Boy Deserve Asylum?’:
A point that was brought up in this article that I think is important to discuss is the issue of evolving standards of asylum and immigration policy in general. The executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform suggested that, "Our asylum laws cannot account for all the vagaries of human vexation and misfortune." The issue I have with this statement is our laws are meant to account for ‘vagaries of human vexation and misfortune’. Our asylum laws are in place to protect individuals from situations where their own governments cannot protect them or perhaps where their own governments are perpetrating the persecution. I think it is a great injustice to not acknowledge that laws evolve and change along with the times. Ten years ago a woman from Togo who was going to be forced into an arranged marriage where as part of the marriage ritual she would have to undergo female circumcision was not considered to be deserving of asylum in the US. Today these standards have changed and it is irresponsible to say that they cannot again change in the future.
In the case of the autistic boy from Pakistan despite the fact that the argument for asylum based on a disability is relatively new, the individual facts of the case seem to confirm that the boy is eligible for asylum based on his well-founded fear of persecution at the hands of the certain communities in Pakistan because of his membership in a particular social group of Pakistanis with mental disorders.
After watching a video clip where Geraldo Riviera and Bill "Papa Bear" O'Reilly go to town on each other ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhwwbNA3hjg&feature=fvw ) it raises a very important issue. That is of the politicalization of the illegal immigrant. In this video, a drunk driving tragedy in picked up by FNN and turned into a story concerning illegal immigration. The same vein of reporting is notoriously seen on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight. I feel that part of this because the word "illegal" makes every topic a hot topic. The news not run half as many stories about citizens not paying taxes as they do illegal immigrants not paying taxes. Maybe because their are more illegal immigrants who don't pay taxes but the point is the term is controversial. And controversy sells. So this opens the door to an even greater problem. How much of the immigration debate is just a ploy to get ratings. I am not saying that it is not an issue, but is it so important that Mr. Dobbs must commit almost half of every show to it or is that because it is a controversial topic that people want to "learn" about?
The video clip Geraldo vs. O’Reilly does touch upon the opinions of those on each side of the debate of immigration reform specifically that of empathy and fear mongering, but it leaves much out and as a result is not so accurate of a symbol of the diverging opinions on immigration.
The far right conservatives of Fox news, perfectly depicted by Bill O’Reilly immediately equates “illegal aliens” as people who are criminals and perhaps more importantly- dangerous. This is a strange and perfect example of the difference between causation and correlation. There is no denying that the young man who caused the accident was in the US illegally, as such he is a criminal. This is what should have been the focus of the argument, to delve into the complexities of and what it means for a person to be in the US illegally. Instead it is as Geraldo said, the use of a tragedy to further a political agenda.
This argument is, as is too often the case, about political agenda (and appearance) instead of the political situation being discussed.
Oliver is right in noting the “politicalization” of the illegal immigrant. But it is also important to note the context of when immigrants are most politicized: namely, when they are non-white. After all, I can’t imagine Lou Dobbs or Bill O’Reilly babbling with such hatred (or using up air-time) if a white, English immigrant from the U.K. drove drunk with fatal consequences. Clearly racism fuels talk about the “negative” impact of immigration on national security and identity.
Although the United States should regulate and monitor immigration, it must do so with justice. While I have little knowledge of immigration policy and law, I have heard the personal horror stories of outright injustice from friends and their families from Latin America and the Middle East. Comprehensive reform is desperately needed. This means policy that welcomes immigrants by making them more transparent in our society (for example, allowing the previously mentioned immigrant the opportunity to take driver’s ed course and licensing exams) and providing them with basic human rights, including healthcare and education for young children. However, as the United States struggles economically and politically as a world power, I fear such reform may not be in sight.
I agree with everyone who has said that comprehensive immigration policy reform is needed; many of the things that we have talked about and will talk about in class would be non-issues if the immigration system were perfect.
Like Ana said, I think that one of the problems with current policies is that too often the "solution" that is implemented is unrelated to the source of the "problem." Obviously, putting up physical or legal barriers is completely ineffective at dealing with whatever issues are causing people to immigrate in the first place. I think for any sort of reform to be successful, it has to at least attempt to address the factors that result in immigration.
I also think it's important to address the role that racism plays in immigration policy. Like Nicole said, immigration is most often politicized when the immigrant is non-white. However, while immigration policy and racism seem like they have always been closely linked, the nature of racism in the United States has evolved over time. I agree that it's hard to imagine an immigrant from the UK getting caught in the middle of a controversy, there have been periods in US history in which different European ethnic groups have been discriminated against. I think that because race and politics have always been closely linked, it will always be hard to separate certain issues from immigration (I don't mean to sound pessimistic; I definitely think that it should be attempted.)
I wasn't sure where to post my blog so I wrote my response to a recent article i read in the economist in my own blog that i signed up for. i assume it can be seen at
I have yet to form an opinion on many facets of the immigration debate, however I do believe that the apparent treatment of many illegal immigrants in our country today is unconscionable. Immigration is undoubtedly an important security issue for the United States, however the poor treatment of immigrants already held in custody fits neither our national security agenda nor our nation's democratic principles. It seems as though we have developed an us vs. them mentality that, with the help of our paranoid and sensationalist media, has allowed the humanity of illegal immigrants to fall through the cracks. In addition, I think that the federal program to identify and deport illegal immigrants held in local jails, which began under the Bush administration and continues today under the Obama administration, might contribute to the paranoia and stereotyping of illegal immigrants as individuals who have "invaded" our country and who commit crimes and threaten our security. Perhaps this sort of immigration control program which singles out criminal illegal immigrants while ignoring non-criminal illegal immigrants helps to villify immigrants and paint a picture in many Americans' minds of the immigrant as the enemy.
The topic discussed in the Bill O'Reilly video was obviously unjustified, and merely used to further attack individuals residing in the US illegally. Like Rivera pointed out, had a legal resident committed the crime, the public would not have been notified. Like Oliver pointed out, this repulsive technique by O'Reilly does nothing more than create a scapegoat within a country built upon the backs of immigrants.
Whether anti-immigrant, specifically Latino immigrants, sentiment seen on the show is racially fueled, I do not know, although it does help create a "us versus them" phenomenon. A phenomenon which can be found throughout American immigration history, for example the hardships faced by the Irish when they arrived to the United States during the 19th century.