Walls around the world - Throughout history, nations have
built walls to keep people in, keep people out or both.
Proposed Mexican-U.S. fence: The U.S. House of Representatives
has approved a plan for fences with surveillance equipment on either
side of a new road 150 feet wide along 700 miles of the United
States-Mexico border.A proposal to build a double set of steel
walls with floodlights, surveillance cameras and motion detectors along
one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border heads to the Senate in March 2006
after winning overwhelming support in the House. The wall would be
intended to prevent illegal immigrants and potential terrorists from
hiking across the southern border into the United States. It would run
along five segments of the 1,952-mile border that now experience the
most illegal crossings.
Mexican President Vicente Fox likened the $2.2 billion double fence
proposed for 700 miles of his northern border [between the U.S. and
Mexico] to the Berlin Wall, a comparison angrily rejected by fence
Great Wall of China: One of the greatest construction projects
in world history, the Great Wall runs, with branches, about 4,500 miles.
Large parts of it date from the seventh through fourth centuries B.C.
Built of dirt, stone and brick, the wall ranges from 15 feet to 25 feet
wide and 15 feet to 30 feet tall with a 13-foot-wide road on top and
watchtowers at regular intervals.
Berlin Wall: The barrier that separated West Berlin from East
Berlin and surrounding areas in the former East Germany from 1961 to
1989 was a series of concrete walls up to 15 feet high topped with
barbed wire and enhanced with watchtowers, stationary guns, mines and
electrified fencing. By the 1980s, the wall ran 75 miles around West
Berlin and 28 miles through Berlin.
Morocco / Western Sahara: The Moroccan Wall is a 1,600-mile
system of sand berms and rock walls built in the 1980s by Morocco to
control Western Sahara, where tensions continue between Morocco and
Polisario Front separatists despite a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. The wall
is an earthen mound about 7 feet high fronted by a 23-foot-wide ditch
and studded with bunkers, barbed wire, and anti-personnel and anti-tank
India / Bangladesh: India has built more than 1,300 miles of a
planned 3,034-mile barrier at its border with Bangladesh. The fence will
be patrolled by 50,000 officers and key stretches will be electrified.
Construction of the $1 billion double fence -- which is 10 to 12 feet
high, floodlit and razor-wire filled -- began in 1986 and will be done
next year. It may extend near a demilitarized zone separating the two
countries, to enclose Indian villages on the border.
Israel: Israel has built about 170 miles of the barrier
separating it from the Palestinian-dominated West Bank. Another 140
miles are planned or under construction, and 155 more are under review.
The barrier, a wire fence in some places and concrete wall in others,
has additional enhancements such as barbed wire, electricity, sensors,
watchtowers and sniper posts. Supporters say it has been routed to foil
terrorists and critics say it unfairly incorporates Palestinian land
Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Global Security, CIA Factbook
Compiled by Chronicle research librarian Johnny Miller and staff writer
Matthew B. Stannard
Like the United States, France, India, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand
all automatically confer citizenship on anyone born within their
territory, regardless of the citizenship of the child's parents. Canada
has the same law, unless the parents are illegally present in the country.
Belgium, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands
and Switzerland, among many others, do not recognize automatic citizenship
by birth -- although exceptions may be made for orphans.
Somewhere between these two poles fall the policies of Australia,
Austria and the United Kingdom. Citizenship is only conferred upon
children born on those countries' territory if at least one of their
parents is a citizen or permanent resident. In Austria, even if the father
is an Austrian citizen, if the child is born out of wedlock and the mother
is a foreigner, the kid's out of luck.
Now and then, walls are built specifically to keep illegal immigrants
Debater Derek notes the case of the Spanish enclaves of
Ceutta and Melilla in northern Africa, bordering Morocco.
struggled to keep African immigrants out of the enclaves, which serve
as a launching pad into the European Union. Even India has
built a barrier on parts of its border with its poorer neighbor,
Bangladesh, to keep illegal economic migrants out.
Hardly an original idea. Immigration has been a key issue in a number
of recent European elections.
Fortuyn's Lijst Party in the Netherlands,
Freedom Party in Austria, and French presidential candidate
Jean-Marie Le Pen all ran on platforms opposing immigration -- even of
the legal variety.
Is the United States headed in the same direction? Should a citizenship
policy more like that of Great Britain or Italy be adopted here?
Regions and territories: Ceuta, Melilla
Ceuta and Melilla on north Africa's Mediterranean coast came under Spanish
control around 500 years ago
Madrid says the urban enclaves are integral
parts of Spain. They are surrounded by Morocco, which views the Spanish
presence as anachronistic and claims sovereignty.
Spain also controls a scattering of islets along the north African coast,
including uninhabited Perejil, which was at the centre of a spat in 2002 when
Moroccan soldiers occupied it before being removed by the Spanish army.
More recently, differences over Ceuta and Melilla have not prevented a
warming of relations between Morocco and Spain, particularly economic ones.
Morocco's premier has advocated "neighbourly" talks on the issue.
With its rebuilt 15th century cathedral, shipyards and a fish-processing
plant, Ceuta is viewed by Spain as the more strategically-valuable enclave.
The town is a 90-minute ferry ride from mainland Spain.
Melilla, conquered in 1497, is a modern town with a distinctive old
The enclaves are surrounded by fences, intended to deter illegal
immigrants. But Ceuta and Melilla are nonetheless used by many Africans as
stepping-stones to Iberia. Many migrants are caught and some drown while
attempting to make the sea crossing. People trafficking is common.
After a series of increasingly-desperate attempts by would-be immigrants to
surmount the barriers in 2005, Spain and Morocco agreed to deploy extra troops
to try to secure the borders.
Ceuta and Melilla are linked to Spain by ferry services to Malaga,
Algeciras and Almeria. Borders and defence are controlled by Madrid. Tourism
is an important money-earner with duty-free goods being a big draw for
Head of state: King Juan Carlos
Ceuta and Melilla enjoy local autonomy and have their own governments. They
return deputies and senators to the Spanish parliament in Madrid. Until 1995
they were administered by provincial governments - Cadiz for Ceuta, Malaga for
The national networks of Spain's public broadcaster, RadioTelevision Espanola
(RTVE), are available in Ceuta and Melilla. The enclaves are also served by
Published: 2005/09/03 BBC NEWS
Brits 'want immigration limits'
3rd April 2006
Manchester Evening News.
MORE than three quarters of
Britons want to see an annual limit on immigration, a survey said today.
The poll for right-wing
immigration think-tank Migrationwatch said 69% of people also feared Britain was
losing its own culture.
Asked if there should be an
annual limit on foreigners coming to the UK, 50% strongly agreed and 26% agreed.
Only 4% strongly disagreed and 6% disagreed, with the rest not expressing a
The YouGov poll of more
than 2,000 people found that 71% believed the Government's priority should be
getting more British people back to work rather than bringing in more immigrants
to fill job vacancies.
Migrationwatch chairman Sir
Andrew Green said: "It is difficult to see how the Government's handling of this
issue could be more thoroughly rejected by the British people.
"The survey shows that they
fundamentally disagree with the Government's open ended immigration policy and
feel that their views are being ignored in the process."
He added: "These are very
high numbers and the results are similar across all social classes."
Six out of 10 questioned in
the poll said current levels of immigration were making it difficult to achieve
good community relations.
Nearly seven out of 10
was already overcrowded.
And 73% agreed society was
becoming increasingly racially segregated.
The survey found 10% of the
public agreed the Government was listening to public opinion about immigration.
A Home Office spokeswoman
said: "The report issued by Migration Watch today represents the comments of a
small fraction of the UK population.
"The Government has made
very clear its migration policy is based on the needs of the UK economy by
attracting skilled individuals the country needs not on arbitrary quotas.
"The system will be robust
against abuse and along with new measures announced in the new Immigration,
Asylum and Nationality Act tackle illegal working and ensure our borders are
She added: "The UK has a
smaller foreign-born population than Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the US and France.
"Figures published in 2001
showed that migrants generate 10% of UK GDP while representing only 8% of the
"The Government has been
and will continue to listen to the views of the public."
The Identity Cards Bill received Royal Assent today, placing on the statute
book important measures which will help Britain meet the challenges of the 21st
century. The National Identity Scheme will provide all UK residents aged over
16 with a universal, highly secure means for safeguarding their identity.
The new agency that will issue passports and ID cards will be called the
Identity and Passport Service (IPS). Incorporating the United Kingdom
Passport Service (UKPS) and working closely with the Home Office's Immigration
and Nationality Directorate, it will become operational on 1 April 2006.
The Home Secretary Charles Clarke, said:
"Being able to prove who we are is a fundamental requirement in modern society.
Building on the experience and proven excellence of the Passport Service, the
IPS will ensure the UK is at the forefront of the worldwide drive to increase
document security, safeguard borders and protect identities for use by those who
are entitled to them.
"I believe that the National Identity Scheme will bring major benefits. It will
give UK residents an easy and convenient way to prove their identity; deter
illegal immigration and illegal working; help tackle organised crime and
terrorism; and provide a means to defend against the abuse of public services.
At the heart of the scheme, a secure national database linking basic personal
details to unique biometric information will strengthen, not erode, civil
liberties by protecting individual identities."
The National Identity Scheme, to be phased in over a number of years, will link
basic personal information, such as name and address, to secure biometrics - a
computer image of a person's iris, face or fingerprints. These are unique and
provide a hi-tech form of security for every citizen.
The new agency will be responsible for:
* issuing passports and providing passport services;
* issuing ID cards and providing the means of verifying the identity of
individuals for accredited organisations;
* delivering the National Identity Scheme including the establishment of the
National Identity Register; and
* promoting the use of the National Identity Scheme across the public and
private sectors to improve identity management and ensure full realisation of
the benefits of the scheme.
It will not be compulsory to carry a card and there will be no new powers for
police to demand to see a card. However, this would be a universal scheme for
everyone legally resident in the UK and, subject to further primary legislation,
it will be compulsory to register on the scheme.
MEPs' comments on illegal immigrants
Stanley J. A. Clews, Sliema.
So the MEPs have gone back to their plush offices in Brussels after being
"disgusted" and "shocked" by Malta's detention centres.
French MEP Patrick Gaubert is said to have lost his appetite for dinner after
visiting the detention centres that day. No doubt he was able to find his
appetite after he got back to his hotel later on. But he probably lost it again
when he heard of the riots in Paris when students demonstrated against new
employment laws and French police had to use tear gas and water cannon.
Italian MEP Giusto Catania said he was taken aback by what he called the
general "degradation" and "inhumane" conditions at the centres.
How easy it was for them to criticise a small country like Malta with its
large population living in such a small area. Our own MEPs had asked for this
visit to take place in all good faith and I hope something tangible will result.
But the EU must understand that we cannot afford to continue supporting these
illegal immigrants much as we sympathise with their very real problem.
None of the visiting MEPs came up with a solution as to where to put these
illegal immigrants once they are let out of detention. We cannot leave them
wandering penniless around the streets. And one does not have to be a racist to
But what disgusted me about this visit was that there was not a word of
praise from these MEPs (at least none were reported) for the wonderful work of
the Malta Police and Armed Forces of Malta. Nor it appears did they comment on
the fact that four members of the police force were taken to hospital during
While I am sure we all agree that these illegal immigrants must be treated in
a humane manner let us remember those policemen and soldiers (or should I call
them sailors?) of the AFM who rescue these unfortunate human beings from the
More illegal immigrants intercepted off the Canaries 04 Apr 2006
A boat carrying 52
illegal immigrants has been intercepted 5 miles to the south of Tenerife.
The vessel was spotted by the SIVE electronic surveillance system, as it was
approaching Punta de Rasca. The passengers were all male, and were all said to
be in good health.
Thirty two immigrants drowned while trying to reach the Canary Islands on
Sunday. They were amongst the 57 passengers on a boat which sunk to the North of
Mauritania, after being at sea for 17 days. Another 35 people were intercepted
100 miles off El Hierro Island that same day, and a boat carrying 44 passengers
was intercepted just one mile off Tenerife on Monday.
The Netherlands - Lijst Party
The Death of Pim Fortuyn - The Netherlands
Monday, 6 May, 2002 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1971462.stm
The death of Pim Fortuyn comes just nine days before Dutch national elections
in which polls had predicted he would win enough seats to lead one of the
country's largest parties.
Once written off by Dutch politicians and media alike, Fortuyn recently
burst on to the political scene with a heady cocktail of policies which was
finding favour right across the Netherlands.
The 54-year-old sociology professor was a
flamboyant character who combined custom-made Italian suits and a flashy
lifestyle with hard-hitting anti-immigrant views.
Professor Pim, as he liked to be called, shocked the Dutch establishment in
February with a call for the repeal of the first article of the constitution
which forbids discrimination.
As a result he was sacked as leader of his own party, Livable Netherlands.
But the controversy, if anything, enhanced Fortuyn's reputation, and that of
his new party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn.
He went on to win around one-third of the votes after standing as a candidate
in municipal elections in Rotterdam, the country's second largest city.
Polls suggested that in national elections due in May Fortuyn and his party
were set to pick up enough seats in the country's 150-seat parliament to become
a significant political force in their own right.
Some polls predicted that they would garner as many as 26 seats - or 17% of
The shaven-headed former academic and columnist was openly gay,
distinguishing him from the bulk of Europe's far-right, traditionalist
Fortuyn's Rotterdam residence, christened "Casa di Pietro," was styled on an
Italian villa and filled with precious artefacts which he loved to show off.
He lived there with his two small dogs called Kenneth and Carla, served by a
butler, and boasted a chauffeur-driven car.
He used his sexuality as fuel for his fire against Islam, which - like many
other religions - does not accept homosexuality.
He slammed Islam as a "backward culture" - a view which he expounded at
length in a book called Against The Islamisation Of Our Culture.
Born in 1948 to a conservative Catholic family in a small town in the
north-west of the country, Fortuyn went to Amsterdam in the 1970s to study
sociology and later became a professor at the University of Groningen.
Fortuyn was known for his love of expensive clothes
Over the last 10 years he made his name as a columnist and commentator,
producing a number of articles and books on society and politics.
Fortuyn's anti-Muslim views, calls for an end to all immigration and pledges
to come down hard on crime struck a chord with voters despite the country's
celebrated reputation for liberalism and religious tolerance.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise gay marriages, regulate
prostitution, approve and control euthanasia, and tolerate the over-the-counter
sale of marijuana.
Fortuyn wanted to reduce significantly the number of immigrants and
asylum-seekers who arrive in the Netherlands each year, from a current 40,000
people to just 10,000 "in no time at all".
He provoked controversy wherever he went
"This is a full country," he said. "I think 16 million Dutchmen are about
He had a particularly strong appeal amongst the young.
Nearly one half of 18-30 year-olds recently polled want to see zero Muslim
immigration, and said they would be voting for Fortuyn in May's ballots.
Even those who did not intend to vote for him agreed the maverick leader had
a certain attraction.
Analysts said Fortuyn found support among voters who would traditionally veer
to the far-right, but also among those fed up with the existing political
landscape and centre-left government.
Austria - Freedom Party &
The Ugly Europeans
Jean-Marie Le Pen, Jörg Haider, and other xenophobes.
By Chris Suellentrop Posted Friday, April 26, 2002, at 10:49 AM ET
After Sept. 11, many observers predicted that the ugly side of the American
character would soon reveal itself. Xenophobia and nativism would flourish.
Ominous reports of widespread violence against Arab-Americans would surface. A
few hysterical doomsayers worried that it was only a matter of time before
Muslims would be placed in internment camps. Despite those fears, none of the
Ugly American predictions came to pass. Instead, 9/11 cemented an altogether
different phenomenon: Ugly Europeanism.
Jean-Marie Le Pen's strong showing in the French presidential election is
only the latest in a string of successes by anti-Muslim political parties across
the Continent. Only two weeks after Sept. 11, Hamburg—the most liberal state in
Germany—elected an anti-foreigner candidate nicknamed "Judge Merciless" to the
state parliament. In November, Denmark's anti-Muslim party, the Danish People's
Party, received 12 percent of the vote, up from 7 percent three years earlier.
Then in March, the party of the Netherlands' Pim Fortuyn, a zero-immigration
candidate who says "the Netherlands is full," reaped 35 percent of the vote in
Rotterdam, making it the most popular party in the country's second-largest
city. A few weeks later, the Popular Party, which urges a "special integration
program" for African immigrants because of their "propensity for violence,"
joined Portugal's new governing coalition. And this week, Le Pen.
Granted, the Ugly Europeans are not purely a post-9/11 phenomenon. The
Freedom Party of Austria's Jörg Haider—who came to international prominence in
2000—is a fellow traveler, as is Belgium's Vlaams Blok, which took a third of
the vote in Belgium's second-largest city that same year. (The leader of Vlaams
Blok, a Flemish nationalist party that wants to forcibly expel all unemployed
non-European immigrants, said he and Le Pen were "brothers in arms.") And the
Ugly Europeans' anti-Muslim tactics predate the terrorist attacks. In 2000, for
example, an anti-racism poster picturing a black child and the caption "When I
become white, I'll be a schoolteacher" prompted the Danish People's Party to
counter with its own anti-welfare poster: a picture of a white homeless man with
the caption "When I become Muslim, I'll have a house."
But the Ugly Europeans accelerated their anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of
the Sept. 11 attacks, and they found a newly receptive audience. Anti-Muslim
sentiment was already widespread in Europe, but 9/11 reinforced the Ugly
Europeans' bigoted message: Muslims cause crime. Muslims cause unrest. Muslims
must go. The effect was immediate: The terrorist attacks and the discovery that
Hamburg was a haven of al-Qaida activity gave Judge Merciless (real name: Ronald
Schill)—and his attacks on "imported unemployment and imported crime" from
Muslim countries—a more than 5 percent bump in the polls. The anti-Muslim
electoral wave had begun.
Much of what the Ugly Europeans propose isn't out of the mainstream of
American political debate: Get tough on crime, promote Christian family values,
reform the welfare state, curtail immigration. But the Ugly Europeans' policy
inclinations on all those issues stem not from political ideology but from
prejudice. How to get tough on crime? Get rid of the Muslim immigrants who are
causing it. Why reform the welfare state? Because the Muslims are sucking us
dry. Why promote Christian values? Because the Muslim invaders threaten to drown
out our faith. Why curtail immigration? Because Muslims cannot assimilate into
Western European cultures.
The Ugly European viewpoint stems from an exclusionary ethnocentric
nationalism, summed up by Le Pen's slogan "France for the French," Haider's
slogan "Austria for the Austrians," and Vlaams Blok's slogan "Our Own People
First." Muslims from North Africa cannot assimilate even if they want to. Pia
Kjaersgaard, the housewife leader of the Danish People's Party, wants the
Muslims in Denmark to "go home": "They must not be allowed to integrate into
Danish society." Filip Dewinter of Belgium's Vlaams Blok agrees: "We must stop
the Islamic invasion," he told the New York TimesMagazine. "I
think it's, in fact, impossible to assimilate in our country if you are of
Islamic belief." During a protest of a plan to open a center for foreign
asylum-seekers in his hometown of Antwerp, Dewinter proclaimed, "Antwerp is not
a garbage can." In an effort to prevent Muslim (and perhaps Jewish) assimilation
in France, the mayor of Marignane, who is a member of Le Pen's National Front,
eliminated the option for a non-pork lunch when pork was on the menu at public
school cafeterias. The clear message: We don't want your children to eat with
Ugly Europeans are adamantly opposed to multicultural, multiethnic societies,
and they employ a neat rhetorical trick: framing their racist anti-Muslim
sentiment as a defense of the multicultural value of diversity—a way to protect
their own national culture, which they see as threatened. (The Netherlands'
Fortuyn, in a similar bit of ideological gymnastics, justifies his intolerance
for Muslims by saying that Muslims threaten the Netherlands' vaunted reputation
for tolerance.) They're fiercely opposed to the European Union, which they see
as leveling the distinctions among the Continent's distinct nations. And most
assail America for its globalizing culture and its multiethnic society.
In this, ironically, the Ugly Europeans share more than a little in common
with the Islamic extremism that has propelled them to new heights of popularity.
They may not be terrorists and murderers, but their separatist agenda is
familiar: a belief that Christians and Muslims cannot commingle; that the
infidel invaders must be expelled to ensure their countries' self-preservation;
and a backward-looking celebration of an empire long, long gone.
Chris Suellentrop, a
writer in Washington, D.C., is a former Slate staffer.Illustration by Charlie Powell.
France - Le Pen & Immigration
Le Pen upset causes major shock
Defeated Jospin to retire from French politics
April 21, 2002 Posted: 7:57 PM EDT (2357 GMT)
Jospin announced his retirement,
effective after the presidential runoff election.
PARIS, France (CNN) --French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
announced that he was retiring from politics after his loss Sunday to far-right
candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of presidential elections.
With more than 85 percent of the vote counted, incumbent President Jacques
Chirac had 20 percent, compared to 17 percent for Le Pen and 16 percent for
Jospin. Those results were in line with exit poll findings. The rest of the vote
was split among 13 other candidates.
Le Pen, the head of the right-wing, anti-immigrant National Front party, has
long been a controversial fixture in French politics. If the result holds up, he
would face Chirac in a second round of balloting on May 5.
In a victory speech, Le Pen called on the French populace for support in the
"You -- the small ones, the ones who've been excluded, those of you who've
got no recognition -- don't allow yourselves to be divided up into the old
divisions of the left and the right," he said.
Le Pen described himself Sunday as "socially to the left, economically to the
right and nationally of France."
He added, "France is for the French."
Jospin, who has been France's prime minister since 1997, said Sunday's
results were "like a thunderbolt ... particularly worrying for France and for
He said he would quit politics when the runoff was over, but urged leftist
parties to regroup for parliamentary elections "so as to prepare for the
reconstruction of the future."
It is the first time such a right-wing candidate will have had such strong
crack at becoming president, and the first time since 1969 that the Socialists
have not had a candidate in a presidential runoff.
"This is no less than a major earthquake in French political life," said
Pierre Lellouche of the Chirac campaign. "This is a massive collapse of the
Chirac called for national unity, a clear
appeal to left-wing voters.
Chirac said the upcoming runoff would determine the future of France and its
role in Europe.
"I would like to remind all French men and French women to gather together to
defend human rights, to guarantee the cohesion of the nation and to affirm the
unity of the republic and to restore the unity of the state," he said.
In an effort to stop Le Pen, leading figures in the Jospin campaign were
already encouraging French voters to support Chirac on May 5.
"We will say clearly we don't want Mr. Le Pen, coming from the far right, to
be president," said Socialist Party official Marisol Touraine.
Turnout was low by French standards, with less than three-quarters of those
eligible turning out to vote. Many voters, dissatisfied with the expected choice
between Chirac and Jospin, decided to stay home.
"This is not a triumph for Chirac," said political analyst Dominique Moisi.
"People didn't go to vote."
But the National Front's Web site urged its members to vote. "To abstain from
(voting) is to vote Chirac or Jospin. For the patriots, to vote is a duty," a
party statement read.
Moisi called the apathy of French voters an "Americanization" of the French
political system, that caused a "huge personal defeat for Jospin."
"I fully take responsibility for this failure," said Jospin during his
retirement announcement. He encouraged his followers to support Socialist
candidates in the June legislative elections.
Le Pen's showing is the strongest for any
far-right candidate since the Fifth Republic was founded after World War II.
At Jospin's campaign headquarters, there was shock and disbelief among many
of the prime minister's campaign workers, some of whom were in tears.
"He worked hard ... he was an honest man. He was convinced that would be
enough," said Daniel Marchac, a friend of Jospin's. Marchac said the results
were a condemnation of the left, rather than a sign of praise for the right.
Chirac and Jospin, who have had to share power under a co-habitation system,
have been perceived by voters as promoting similar programs.
This was the third presidential campaign for Le Pen, who has taken a strong
stance against immigration and has been accused of being anti-Semitic, a charge
he has denied. He has tied immigration to rising crime rates, which was a major
issue in Sunday's ballot.
The immigration issue that helped Le Pen Sunday has also helped far-right
candidates in Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria in recent elections.
"Mr. Chirac decided to run on the sole issue of security" and the more that
security was an issue, the better Le Pen looked to voters disillusioned by
rising crime and security issues, said Touraine. She added that although Le Pen
apparently convinced some voters otherwise, "there is no automatic link between
immigration and crime."
Lellouche said now France had no right to chastise Austria for its support of
ultra-nationalist Joerg Haider, since French voters showed a similar bent in
Moisi added, "For the first time in a major European country, the extreme
right is close to 20 percent. It's happened in medium-sized countries like
Austria, but not in one of the big three. It's in a way a crisis of democracy.
It's really bad news, not only for France, but for Europe and democracy in
Voters worried about crime and employment had been predicted to flock to
candidates on the far left and right, including Arlette Laguiller of the
hard-left Worker's Struggle.
The elections for the French legislature are forthcoming in June. Moisi said
there could be a backlash, with voters electing Socialists to balance the
Chirac, 69, has seemingly shrugged off sleaze allegations that have dogged
the latter years of his presidency.
He is currently protected by presidential immunity, but if he loses the
election, investigating judges want to question him over several corruption
scandals, some dating back to his tenure as Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995.
Jospin, 64, is a former professor who had hoped to capitalize on his
government's positive economic record since he came to power in a surprising
Anxious not to alienate centrist voters who hold the decisive votes in the
second round, the two top contenders ran defensive campaigns with law and order
the main issue. Analysts say the strategy appears to have backfired, with apathy
running high after five years of power-sharing.
To make matters worse, in some regions the vote fell in the middle of school
holidays, meaning some parents were not around to cast ballots in their home
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER - "Selective" Immigration
Friday, April 7, 2006
France wants to 'choose' its immigrants
By JENNY BARCHFIELD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
PARIS -- The curtain falls on a bevy of near-naked dancers in feathered
headdresses, and Adir Rafael Pires glides into action. As a set-changer at the
Lido, the racy cabaret on Paris' Champs-Elysees, Pires could not be farther from
his desert birthplace: Cape Verde, a rocky, drought-stricken archipelago off
West Africa's coast.
But the door that allowed Pires to make France his home may now be closing.
France, like other European countries, is taking a harder look at the immigrants
it lets in.
The drive toward "selective" immigration is inspired by electoral politics,
by fears that some immigrants are not integrating and may even be vectors for
terrorism and militant Islam, and by widely shared concerns that immigrants
overtax welfare systems and compete for scarce jobs.
French Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy championed
a bill that would make it more difficult for poor immigrants with little
education and few skills to start a new life in France - long one of Europe's
most coveted destinations for immigrants.
Pires, 24, reached the ultimate goal - acquiring French nationality - at a
naturalization ceremony last month after spending more than half his life here -
much of it as an illegal immigrant.
Hi mother, Vitalina, came to France in 1990 on a tourist visa, then stayed on
as a live-in maid with a Parisian family. Pires visited her for summer vacation,
and never returned to Cape Verde.
Nearly sixteen years later, mother and son became French thanks to a
provision that allows foreigners to apply for citizenship after 10 years in the
country - even if they were here illegally.
That is one of many immigrant-friendly provisions that would be scrapped
under Sarkozy's immigration bill.
Sarkozy, whose father immigrated here from Hungary, argues that France should
take a more pro-active approach to immigration by hand-picking foreign workers.
His arguments gained resonance after riots ripped through heavily immigrant
French suburbs last fall.
Sarkozy acknowledges that he wants to court voters away from the far right,
which argued that the riots showed the perils of immigration.
If passed, the law would form part of France's multi-pronged offensive
against clandestine immigration that also includes stepped-up border controls
and deportations. Under Sarkozy, deportations have increased 72 percent over the
past two years, with a record 20,000 illegal immigrants expelled in 2005.
"France cannot be the only country in the world that refuses to adapt its
immigration policy to its economic needs and its capacity to absorb new
arrivals," Sarkozy said recently. "We cannot continue to welcome people whom we
have neither jobs nor housing to offer."
Pires spent most of his first year in France in a cramped apartment he shared
with one of his mother's friends. He did not attend school, but learned French
from watching daytime television. He saw his mother on weekends.
When another friend offered Vitalina an unheated attic room, mother and son
moved in together. They shared the kitchen-less, 110-square-foot room for nearly
Still, it was a step up from Sao Vicente, one of nine desert islands that
make up the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde and the one where Pires was
born. The country's economy relies largely on foreign aid and remittances from
emigrants - which accounted for more than 20 percent of the GDP in 2005.
Pires does not send money back. There is no one left to send it to. After he
and Vitalina left, Pires' estranged father decamped, too. He now lives in
Amsterdam, and has become a Dutch citizen. Most of Pires' other relatives live
in Europe or Brazil.
Under Sarkozy's draft bill, foreigners would have a harder time bringing
their families to France. Immigrants would have to prove that their salaries
alone - and not government subsidies - suffice to support their offspring.
Pires says that if his mother had been subjected to such stringent
requirements, she wouldn't have made the cut.
"Her salary was really low," he said.
Sponsored by his mother's French friend, Pires enrolled in school.
After a teacher told him he "wasn't college material," he opted to attend a
technical high school where he specialized in operating theater sets. That led
to the job at the Lido, where long-legged dancers cancan, nude but for
strategically placed feathers.
"Here, I have the life of an average European - which I finally am," he said.
While it would target people like Pires and Vitalina, the immigration bill
would favor a new breed of "highly qualified" workers who - with their higher
degrees and sought-after skills - could just as easily move to New York or
Toronto as Paris.
"'Highly qualified' is just a code word for rich," Pires said. He called a
provision that would establish a renewable, three-year residence permit based on
capacity and talent "a ploy to keep out the poor."
"Immigrant labor rebuilt this country after the war," he said. "It's not
right to try to exclude us now."
JEDDAH. April 3,
2006. KAZINFORM - Estate agents say location, location, location. Soon we
will find that politicians say immigration, immigration, immigration. If you
take the popular pulse, nine times out of ten, whether you are in California or
Calais, Dubai or Dublin, the issue of immigration will come up.
Of course there are wide variations in its manifestation. In France where the
National Front polled 18 percent at the last presidential elections, it is a
major issue. In the US, a country which once set the standard for welcoming
immigration, the backlash is now dominating the headlines. Other countries which
once championed immigration, like Canada and Australia, have also seen
immigration enter the political fray, KAZINFORM cites Iman Kurdi of Arab News.
Concern about immigration is rarely benign, it usually burns with a common fire:
Fear of foreigners. And some foreigners more than others.
Consider the countries in the European Union where the anti-immigration lobby
has made the most noise and you will find that they have one thing in common. It
is neither the size of their immigrant population, nor its high levels of
unemployment, it is not even a downturn in economic growth. No, what they have
in common is that they are countries with sizable immigration from Muslim
Austria undertook a major reform of immigration law in 2002
aimed at curbing the number of immigrants. Where do Austria’s immigrants come from?
Bosnia, Croatia and Turkey. Similarly in Denmark, a country which has rarely
been off the radar these last six months, there is a sizable Turkish migrant
population. The Netherlands,
which has seen a major political debate and a rethink of their whole approach to
immigration, has — you guessed it — a large Turkish migrant population, as well
as a big Moroccan contingent — the two groups making up 30 percent of all
foreigners in the Netherlands. Moroccans are also very visible in Spain, another country that has seen immigration become a
hot political issue in the last five years. As for France, the country with the
largest Muslim population in Europe, the issue is on the tip of every tongue.
I don’t believe that anti-Muslim feeling is at the root of all anti-immigrant
rhetoric — the issue is evidently much more complex than that — but what is
clear is that since Al-Qaeda started to wage its war, one of the consequences
has been a heightened fear of foreigners in general and Muslim foreigners in
There are many myths surrounding immigration. Three are particularly prominent
in the resurgence of anti-immigrant feeling.
The first is the exploitation myth. Last week I took a taxi to the airport. As
we drove along we passed a hospital. My taxi driver pointed to the hospital and
bemoaned the state of national healthcare. “It’s the foreigners — she exclaimed
— there’s too many of them, they exploit the system and now hard-working people
like me, who pay our taxes and abide by our laws, we can’t get decent
healthcare”. It’s a common myth, which unfortunately I have heard in a number of
permutations in several regions of the globe. The essence of this myth is that
foreigners come to a country to exploit its resources, particularly its schools,
hospitals and housing.
The idea that immigrants exploit the country they migrate to is risible. I am
sorry but it is. If anyone is exploited, it is more likely to be the immigrants
themselves. After all they are the ones who do not have access to the same level
of rights and status awarded to native citizens.
Much has been made about the share of the welfare budget taken up by migrants.
In the US
for instance, migrants take up a larger proportion of welfare than their
percentage of the population. But that is because they tend to be poor. If
migrants make up a large proportion of the low-paid — as they do in most
countries with large immigration — then it follows that they will take up a
relatively large proportion of the welfare budget. But this is more than made up
for by their contribution to the economy. Even in pure fiscal terms, immigrants
provide a net gain to their host economy as they pay significantly more in taxes
than they take in benefits. As for those who begrudge foreigners for being a
burden on the health system, they should be ashamed of themselves for begrudging
that the sick have access to healthcare.
Which brings me to the second myth: The idea that the doors are open and anyone
can come in, settle in a country and obtain all the benefits of living in say
Britain with little difficulty. Anyone with any experience of emigrating to
Britain will testify that it is no walkover. Whether it is the poor soul who
pays someone an exorbitant sum and puts himself into debt for years in order to
be smuggled into the country or the relatively luckier soul who enters the
country legally, the system is geared toward keeping people out, not letting
The third myth is that migrants take away jobs from native citizens and depress
wages. There is no evidence to support this. All the studies that have been done
have found that increased immigration makes no significant difference either to
unemployment rates or to wage levels. And it makes perfect sense because
economies need people to grow. If you increase the population — either through
birth rates or through immigration — the net result should be job creation and
Immigration is a good thing because immigrants do the jobs that we need and few
want to do. They also do the jobs that require skills that we don’t have but
desperately need. They contribute to the economy and enrich us culturally. In
places like Europe where the population is aging, immigration can also help plug
some of the gaps in pensions for future generations. Immigrants provide many
benefits to the countries where they settle, but most of all I believe that it
is morally fair and right that countries should welcome people who want to
Becoming a citizen is a two-way street. It requires immigrants to integrate into
the country into which they settle. Integration is not a dirty word, it does not
mean giving up your values or beliefs, it simply means being an active member of
the community in which you live, contributing to it, respecting its laws and
customs and allowing yourself to grow and prosper through interaction with
people who may be different to you.
Integration requires inclusion. Successful immigration needs to be managed to
ensure that immigrants find their rightful place in society. Moreover countries
must implement policies which give long-term foreign-born residents rights which
are comparable to those of native citizens. This concept of civic citizenship
has been put forward as a benchmark for immigrant inclusion.
Civic citizenship includes the right of residence, protection against expulsion,
access to employment, access to family reunification, access to social security
and social assistance, the right to participate in political life and the right
of movement for work and study purposes.
EU countries differ on civic citizenship. Countries like Belgium, Sweden, the
Netherlands and Portugal fall toward the top of the scale whilst countries like
Denmark and Greece are toward the bottom. As for the Arab world, it has a long
way to go before it can be described as giving foreign residents rights
commensurate with those of native citizens. There are some encouraging signs. In
Saudi Arabia for instance, recent reforms have made it easier for long-term
residents to obtain citizenship. It is also now possible for foreigners to own
companies and property in the Kingdom.
I believe unreservedly that immigration is a good thing. It is in my blood, I
come from a family of immigrants. Four generations ago my
great-great-grandfather came to Madinah during Haj and decided to stay. Madinah
is a town with a history of welcoming foreigners. I love the names of Madani
families, they are resonant of the most distant corners of the Muslim world.
They remind us of how vast the Muslim world is and how cultural diversity
It is often said that the test of civil society is how it treats its women.
Perhaps it is time we said the test of civil society is how it treats its
U.S. can learn from Singapore about immigration
BY DANIEL SNEIDER
Knight Ridder Newspapers April 3
The fierce debate on immigration ignores a crucial
reality - what is happening to the United States
is only one piece, although a big one, of a much larger global picture.
That hit me a couple of weeks ago when I was in Singapore. The
Southeast Asian island nation has long been hailed as an economic model, the
business capital for the entire region.
But it is an economy facing demographic peril. The small
population of 4 million is shrinking, thanks to a very low fertility rate.
Prosperous Singaporean couples work hard, have fewer children and worry about
how to take care of their aging parents. By 2050, Singapore will
have a median age of over 52, one of the oldest in the world.
answer is to import labor. A third of its work force are migrants. One out of
seven households employs a domestic worker - low-paid women mostly from
neighboring Philippines and Indonesia.
tries to lure "talents," very skilled and affluent migrants, to stay
permanently. But the men hauling bricks and the maids washing laundry are in a
separate class of temporary guest workers, with no chance to join their society.
If a maid gets pregnant, she is shipped out within seven days. Employers have to
post bonds that must be paid should their servants break the rules and try to
stay, making them play the role of migrant police.
Problems of abuse of domestic workers, including
physical and sexual violence and confinement, are serious enough to have
prompted a report last December by Human Rights Watch.
dependence on migrant labor and its guest worker policy may be at the extreme
end but are very much on the global spectrum. Labor, like capital and goods
before it, is part of a global market. The movement of people across borders in
search of wages and work, most of it from developing countries to developed, is
growing at a phenomenal pace.
The numbers are staggering. From 1980 to 2000, the
number of migrants living in the developed world more than doubled from 48
million to 110 million. Migrants make up an average 12 percent of the work force
in high-income countries. About 4 million migrants cross borders illegally every
The demand for labor is driven in part by a demographic
disaster - the falling population growth of developed countries. Almost all of
those countries now have fertility rates that are well below 2.1, the level at
which a population replaces itself. At the very low end are places like Hong Kong
(0.94), Korea (1.22) and Singapore in Asia (1.24), along with much of Eastern Europe.
Low fertility means shrinking work forces and aging
populations. Without migration, according to a recent study, Europe's
population would have declined by 4.4 million from 1995 to 2000. Migrants
accounted for 75 percent of U.S.
population growth during the same period.
This movement of people cannot be stopped, certainly not
by hundreds of miles of fences or even by tens of thousands of border guards. It
is an issue that cries out for global cooperation, for common policies that cut
across national boundaries. Already, we can benefit from looking at what has
worked - and not worked - elsewhere.
A Global Commission on International Migration, formed
in 2003 by the United Nations' secretary-general, has taken an initial stab at
this. Their report, issued last winter, supports the growth of guest worker
The Senate immigration bill now up for debate includes a
provision for a guest worker program here. The bill is clearly preferable to the
punitive and ineffective approach of the House version. But the Singapore
experience - and previous guest worker programs like the German import of Turks
- should prompt second thoughts about going down this road.
One problem is that the guests don't leave. The United States
has its own experience with this in the "bracero" program to import farm workers
and more recently with the supposedly temporary H1B visas used so extensively by
the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley.
Most troubling to me, these programs create an
underclass of migrants who are never assimilated, as happened in Germany. It
sets us on the Singapore
road, encouraging inhumane policing mechanisms. And it is a gilded invitation to
employers to depress the wages and incomes of American workers, and not just in
the dirty jobs that are supposedly so hard to fill.
The United States
has been rightfully proud of a tradition that treats all immigrants as citizens
in the making. Rather than guest workers, isn't it more American to set
realistic immigration quotas and enforce them fairly?
ABOUT THE WRITER: Daniel Sneider is foreign affairs
columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.
Newsrooms are struggling with the dilemma of whether to use the names
of illegal immigrants. Anonymous sources are under fire as threats to
credibility. Yet identifying undocumented immigrants could lead to their
By Lucy Hood
Lucy Hood (email@example.com), a former reporter for the San Antonio Express-News,
is a Washington, D.C.-based writer.
Gloria Rubio is an
upstanding member of her community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The mother of three young
children, she and her husband are active in parent organizations at their
children's schools. They volunteer at church, at a local drug-free program and
at other community groups. Rubio, an undocumented immigrant born in Mexico, is
also diligent about paying her taxes. She told reporter Ginnie Graham of the
Tulsa World that she considered it a demonstration of loyalty and support to her
Rubio was the subject of a story Graham wrote in March 2005 about a tax
service in Tulsa that caters to both legal and illegal immigrants. Graham hoped
to shed light on a segment of the city's burgeoning immigrant population that
contributes to both state and national tax rolls. "The intent of the story was
not to find an illegal immigrant," she says, "but to showcase this service that
helps immigrants to assimilate and pay taxes."
Graham, who covers the social services beat, had written about undocumented
immigrants before. At times she'd withheld a name at the request of an immigrant
or an agency that had facilitated an interview, but whether to use Rubio's name
in this particular story was never an issue. Rubio had spoken to community
groups about paying taxes; the tax service had handpicked her to be a
spokesperson for the story; and when Graham asked her if she had a problem with
her name and photograph appearing in the paper, Rubio said no. "And we asked her
again," Graham says.
About a month after the story ran, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement showed up at Rubio's house. They arrested her and began deportation
proceedings after ICE's Oklahoma City office received an anonymous letter
containing a copy of the story.
A year later, Graham still wonders what she could have done differently. "If
this were to come up again, I would make it abundantly clear what the
consequences would be," she says. "We tried to do that with this case. We asked
her several times, 'Are you sure?' We explained she'd be on the front page and
her picture would be there...
"I still have a hard time with that case," Graham says. "It obviously didn't
turn out the way I wanted."
Rubio's story illustrates a dilemma
faced by an increasing number of newsrooms in areas where large immigrant
populations are integral parts of the community. These immigrants make news for
all the same reasons — good and bad — as anyone else. Some graduate at the top
of their class, run large, multinational corporations or, as members of the
armed forces, risk their lives in defense of the country. Others engage in gang
activity, hold up convenience stores and cause fatal accidents while driving
They also make news because as immigrants they're effecting change at every
layer of society. They're altering everything from the way teachers teach to the
way preachers preach. Census data from 2004 put the immigrant population at
nearly 34.3 million, almost double what it was in 1990. Immigrants now make up
12 percent of the population and, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic
Center, an estimated 30 percent of them are in the country illegally.
Of the undocumented, 78 percent are from Latin America, most of them from
Mexico, and in unprecedented numbers they are going to places they've rarely
gone before. "The highest growth of Latinos in the country is not happening in
the big cities," says Rafael Olmeda, assistant city editor of the South Florida
Sun-Sentinel and vice president for print of the National Association of
Hispanic Journalists. "The largest percentage increase was in Raleigh, North
Carolina. I love saying that, because it just shocks everyone."
In addition to North Carolina, they're going to Georgia, Nevada and Arkansas,
as well as Utah, Tennessee and Iowa. And in many of these places, immigration
has become a hot-button issue, pitting those who want to help immigrants
assimilate against those who want them to go away. In fact, it's become a
contentious issue nationwide, the result of both the immigrant influx and the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Five years ago, "The climate was a lot different," says Daniel González, an
immigration reporter for the Arizona Republic. President Bush had just been
elected, and one of the first things he did was meet with Mexican President
Vicente Fox. "It looked like immigration reform was going to happen that year,"
González says. But it didn't, not that year, or the next, or the next.
It still hasn't happened. Meanwhile, antiterrorism legislation has brought
immigrants under greater scrutiny, and anti-terrorism sentiment has spilled over
into anti-immigrant sentiment, making immigrant sources — especially the
undocumented — more leery about appearing in the press. "People are much more
reluctant to be interviewed," González says, "and much more reluctant to let us
use their name."
Richard Ruelas, a metro columnist at the Arizona Republic, says Arizona is
one arena where immigrants have been thrown into the spotlight by divisive
efforts to restrict their rights and/or send them home. "The rhetoric heats up,"
Ruelas says, "and that's when you see a tendency for the people to want to stay
In short, the undocumented are retreating, becoming less willing to talk,
while interest in immigrant issues is on the rise. That means reporters and
editors often must decide if they are willing to conceal the identity of an
illegal immigrant if that's what it takes to get the story. And if they do, how
do they do it? Do they use the first name, or the last? Which details do they
include and which ones do they leave out? Is it ethical to use a name, even with
permission, if it could get someone deported?
It's analogous to writing about rape victims, whistle-blowers and people
living under repressive regimes. Figuring out if, when and how to do that can be
a daunting task, and with the credibility of journalism at a low point, if not
an all-time low, it's even more difficult today. A 2005 survey by the Pew
Research Center for the People & the Press found that newspapers' credibility
with readers had fallen by 30 percentage points since 1985, when 84 percent of
those surveyed said they believed most of what they read in their daily
newspaper. That figure was 54 percent in 2004.
Some journalists believe that in the wake of fabrication scandals at such
news organizations as the New York Times and USA Today, anonymous quotes should
be used sparingly. "Survey after survey shows that readers think we just make up
these quotes," says Owen Ullmann, deputy managing editor for news at USA Today,
where a strict sourcing policy was put in place after the lies of former
reporter Jack Kelley came to light in early 2004. "We try hard," Ullmann says,
"to see if we really need to apply anonymity at the cost of reader skepticism or
Editors will confront such balancing acts with increasing frequency as the
immigrant issue moves to the forefront of debate, Ullmann predicts. "We'll be
writing quite a bit about it in the coming months," he says, and each decision
will be made on an individual basis. If another source can provide the same
information, then there's no need to rely on an undocumented — and unnamed —
immigrant. But "we've read stories before about people who are virtually treated
as slaves or who suffocate in a truck," he says. "If one of them survives and
tells an eyewitness story of their ordeal, I could see us granting them
anonymity in that case."
According to Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence in
Journalism, the decision to use a name or not hinges on a simple test — not an
easy test, but a simple test: "Does the information I'm getting by promising
confidentiality outweigh what I'm withholding from my audience to get it?"
The Society of Professional Journalists' ethics code says journalism's top
priority is to report the truth. Journalists should "identify sources whenever
feasible," the code says, yet they should use "special sensitivity" when dealing
with inexperienced sources, and they should "show compassion for those who may
be adversely affected by news coverage."
Says Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, "You have
to assess the risk and make a decision that minimizes the harm to that
individual but maximizes the ability to tell the truth."
The Arizona Republic is published in
Phoenix, a city of 1.3 million people 150 miles north of the Mexican border.
Like most other newsrooms, reporters and editors at the Arizona Republic make
sourcing decisions about illegal immigrants on a case-by-case basis. But unlike
most other newsrooms, the one at the Arizona Republic has a long tradition of
covering immigrant issues and a long history of dealing with undocumented
Phoenix is a major stopover for immigrants — legal and illegal — coming into
the United States from Mexico. While many simply pass through on their way to
destinations farther north, many others stay and settle in the Phoenix area,
which is currently home to a foreign-born population of 304,000. Of the 810,000
immigrants statewide, an estimated 500,000 are undocumented. Of those, several
have appeared in the paper, but never under a false name and very rarely without
any name at all.
"We almost always try to name people," says immigration reporter González. In
his six years covering either Latino affairs or immigration, González says he
can't recall using an unnamed source. And the paper has a strict policy against
the use of pseudonyms, so he typically works with — or around — the real name.
"Mexican people have two last names," he says. "Sometimes we might use the least
common of the two names."
Sometimes, he uses just the first name, or the first name and an initial, as
he did in an October 2005 story about Javier P. and his wife, Janet, the parents
of three children "who jumped a wall in Nogales in 1992," and, despite their
illegal status, have become taxpaying members of the American middle class. Part
of a four-day series, the story goes into great detail about the family. "They
live in a tidy three-bedroom, two-bath house in a quiet northwest Phoenix
neighborhood with leather sofas in the living room and a pickup and SUV in the
garage," González wrote.
But he also chose to omit certain details, particularly ones that might have
tipped off the neighbors. He didn't, for example, include the make and year of
the truck or the names of the schools attended by the children. "We have all
these details," González says, "which as a journalist is what you strive for,
but you have to strike a balance."
Quite often, however, it doesn't become a balancing act. Both González and
columnist Ruelas, who also writes extensively about immigration, have used the
complete names of undocumented immigrants, and as far as they know, there have
never been negative repercussions for sources in their stories or anyone else's
at the paper. "There's such a large number of undocumented immigrants," says
González, "it would be hard to figure out what Juan Martinez we're talking
Not only that, but the prevailing wisdom among immigration reporters and some
attorneys is that the authorities are not likely to waste their time tracking
down undocumented immigrants just because their names appear in the news
stories. Ruelas says immigration officials have told him (unofficially) that
they're not really interested in individual cases. "They're looking into
smuggling operations," he says. "They concentrate on the big stuff. It's almost
like the drug war. They're not concerned with the guy with the joint. They're
concerned with the guy bringing in the truckload from Mexico."
But that's not always the case, Poynter's McBride says. Law enforcement
officials may take action for any number of reasons. They may very simply have a
visiting official to impress; or, as was the case in Tulsa, they may receive an
anonymous note urging them to take action; or they may perceive a real threat.
"Once you point out to law enforcement officials that someone is breaking the
law," she says, "you sort of back them into the corner."
A case in point involved Raleigh's News & Observer. In March 1998 it
published an in-depth story about an undocumented grocery worker named Julio
Granados. The paper's purpose, McBride says, was to write about a growing
community that was largely invisible to most of the N&O's readers. But the story
attracted the attention of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE's
predecessor), and INS agents raided Granados' workplace and arrested him, four
coworkers and a customer. (See
"Too Much Information?" June 1998.)
At the time, then-Editor Anders Gyllenhaal (now editor of Minneapolis' Star
Tribune) wrote an article saying those involved in the story thought they had
taken all the appropriate steps, but in retrospect, the paper should have done
things differently. "The fact is," he wrote, "we could have painted just as
exhaustive a portrait of Granados without providing a road map that seemed to
incite agents to make an example of someone who stands out merely because their
story was published."
It's paramount that reporters be aware of the risks involved when they
interview undocumented immigrants, McBride says, and they must know that there
are no simple answers. "Journalists call us," she says, "and they want the
rule." But there is no rule. Instead there's a process, one in which the
reporter must evaluate whether the source is likely to be fired, deported or
harassed. Is the source capable of assessing the risk? Does he or she understand
the legal implications? "You have to ask a lot of questions," McBride says,
"including what your own journalistic purpose is."
González, who has gone through the process many times, explains to his
sources in as much detail as possible what the story is about, and he tells them
very clearly what the consequences might be. At times, he says, the undocumented
are willing to take the risk because they believe the story addresses an
important issue. And some give their consent out of bravado. "It's important in
those situations," he says, "to always make it clear that the person understands
there could be an implication." And "once you've done that, you've done your
Across the country in Charleston, South
Carolina — 1,500 miles from the nearest border crossing into Mexico — the city's
burgeoning immigrant population is a very new phenomenon. Drawn by jobs in
construction and landscaping, the immigrant community has rapidly become an
integral part of the local economy. It grew in Charleston County by nearly 200
percent, from 5,832 to 15,409, between 1990 and 2004. "If you took away the ones
that are illegal," says journalist Dave Munday, "we suspect it would kill the
Yet until last spring the immigrant population was "fairly invisible," says
Munday, a reporter at Charleston's Post and Courier. While the paper and other
local media outlets have reported on the demographic shift in their midst,
coverage of the immigrant community was sparse, Munday says, until a local
politician brought the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront. Before
that, there was rarely a need to ponder the pros and cons of naming undocumented
sources. "I happened to be thrust into it," he says, "when the Rotary Club had a
It was a fundraising event the paper originally planned to mention in a
blurb, but it morphed into a human-interest story when Munday learned that the
proceeds would go toward a lifesaving heart operation for a young boy from
Mexico. Munday didn't expect that it would become anything more than that, not
until he visited the boy's home and learned that the family was in the country
illegally. He returned to the newsroom, he recalls, "and said, 'Now what?'"
He checked with immigration officials, who told him they were typically busy
chasing criminals and didn't have the time to pursue a single undocumented
immigrant in North Charleston. He also checked with the Rotary Club, which did
not have a problem with mentioning the boy's illegal status. But the family did,
so Munday ultimately identified the boy only by his first name, Oscar, and
mentioned that the family was undocumented. The alternative, he says, was that
"we don't have a story at all."
That alternative — coupled with a growing inclination of immigrants to shy
away from public exposure — concerns some journalists. There's a tendency "for
the people to want to stay quiet," says the Arizona Republic's Ruelas. It's the
result of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric, he says, and it worries him because it
means that important stories will not be told, and other stories will be told in
a way that skews perceptions. Take, for example, an undocumented high school
student with stellar grades who is trying to get into college, or the college
graduate prepared for a professional career. "It can be an education to some
readers," Ruelas says, "to see a name and a face and not have it be a stereotype
they associate with illegal immigrants."
Olmeda, of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, agrees. "I would hate to see good
stories not told because of these considerations," he says. But there are other
"I don't advocate running out there," he says, "getting names, addresses and
a picture, along with a map about how to get there for the ICE, all of which
would be truth but not journalistically necessary."
Then again, he says, "It's not our job to protect the world... If you're here
illegally, you're running the risk. As a journalist, I am not your risk. Your
risk is what you've done."
It's easy to go back and forth. What's difficult, Olmeda says, is striking
the proper balance between the need to tell the truth and an obligation to
protect the people who are put in precarious positions because of that need to
tell the truth.
"Is there a quick answer to that?" he muses. "Heavens no!"
Lucy Hood (firstname.lastname@example.org), a former reporter for the San Antonio Express-News,
is a Washington, D.C.-based writer.
Angus Reid Global Scan : Polls & Research April 3, 2006
Many Americans See Immigrants as Burden
(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults in the United States
are critical of the influence of immigrants in their country, according to a
poll by SRBI Public Affairs for the Pew Research Center for the People & the
Press and the Pew Hispanic Center. 52 per cent of respondents believe immigrants
today are a burden on the U.S. because they take jobs, housing and health care.
Conversely, 41 per cent of respondents believe immigrants
strengthen the U.S. because of their hard work and talents.
Last month, the Pew Hispanic Center calculated the number of
undocumented immigrants in the United States at somewhere between 11.5 million
to 12 million. While California is home to most workers, Arizona, Georgia and
North Carolina have the greatest rates of increase.
In January 2004, U.S. president George W. Bush tabled his
proposal for a major overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. The plan includes
a "temporary worker program" that would grant legal status to undocumented
workers, who would pay taxes, be required to return to their home country after
three years, and receive no special preference if they decide to apply for
On Mar. 31, Bush discussed his immigration policies, saying,
"Employers must be held to account if they’re employing the people in our
country illegally. However, part of the problem is (...) that there has been a
lot of document forgery. There’s an industry that has sprung up, and part of
that industry is to provide forged documents so that our employers don’t know
whether a person is in our country legally, or not. (...) I believe if someone
has been here in our country illegally they should not get at the head of the
line if they want to become a citizen."
I’m going to read you some pairs of statements that will help
us understand how you feel about a number of things. As I read each pair, tell
me whether the first statement or the second statement comes closer to your own
views—even if neither is exactly right.
Immigrants today are a burden on our
country because they take our jobs,
housing and health care
Immigrants today strengthen our country
because of their hard work and talents
Neither / Both / Not sure
Source: Schulman, Ronca, & Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs
/ Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Hispanic Center
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 2,000 American adults, conducted from
Feb. 8 to Mar. 7, 2006. Margin of error is 3 per cent.
They're in the fields gathering produce. They're raking lawns, filling out
construction crews and taking care of the elderly. And 9 million of these
workers have broken the law by entering the United States in the last 20 years.
The Senate this week will begin shaping its plan to reform a dysfunctional
immigration system that has been unable to prevent 400,000 people from entering
the country illegally each year. The question is not just whether the U.S.
should build a better wall along a border to keep them out. The heart of the
matter is finding the best way to deal with the 12 million people _ workers and
their families _ who have bypassed the immigration system.
Send them back home? How? Welcome them after they have broken the law? Is that
Politicians in Congress will also have to judge which groups can be appeased and
whom they can afford to alienate in the months before the November elections.
The decisions will go a long way toward determining which political party gains
and what kind of nation we will be in the future.
What follows is an in-depth look at the dynamics of the debate _ the politics,
the economics, the competing proposals and more.
Illegal immigration turns the predictable creature that is U.S. politics inside
out, upside down. Instead of Republicans against Democrats, the debate so far
has split the GOP, with House Republicans favoring tougher penalties for people
and businesses connected to illegal immigration and their Senate counterparts
emphasizing a guest worker program and the offer of citizenship.
The only thing everyone involved agrees on is that an immigration system that
keeps millions of people waiting years for citizenship while allowing millions
of others to literally walk across a border is not working.
President Bush wants reform legislation that will offer immigrants an
opportunity to join a guest worker program. As a former governor of border-state
Texas, Bush has a history of reaching out to Hispanics, most from Mexico, who
represent the majority of recent immigrants in the Southwest.
Hispanics have already surpassed blacks as the largest minority group in the
U.S. If current trends continue, by 2050, Hispanics will make up 25 percent of
the population--a group neither political party can afford to alienate.
Republicans hoping to court this constituency by liberalizing immigration rules
are at odds with those who believe it is wrong to reward lawbreakers.
The immigration struggle within the GOP is raising Democratic hopes for the
November elections. If the conservative Republican base sits out the election
because it is angered over what it sees as amnesty for illegal immigrants,
Democrats can expect gains in Congress and governorships.
The test for Republicans will be to shape a reform proposal the base can swallow
while reaching out to Hispanics and the business interests that benefit from
Wages in Mexico are about one-tenth the average in the U.S., which means an
immigrant in a relatively low-paying job will earn more by crossing the border.
The influx of workers often allows employers to pay less, boosting profits and
lowering the cost of goods and services for American consumers.
Unions, a key part of the Democratic base, are split on the benefits of legal
and illegal immigration. A labor surplus helps keep wages down, and some argue
illegal immigrants are taking jobs from unemployed citizens. However, U.S.
joblessness is hovering just below 5 percent, a level economists view as full
employment. Subtracting the estimated 9 million employed illegal immigrants from
the work force could translate into labor shortages for some businesses.
While the clout of some unions is diminished by a larger pool of workers, other
unions that represent janitors, landscapers, home health care providers and
other entry-level workers see the opportunity to recruit new members and grow.
In fact, "growth" is a key word in the immigration debate. The United States
needs an expanding population to support the financial draw of entitlement
programs for its aging population. In the future, countries with static or
declining populations such as Japan, Germany, France and Russia will be
hard-pressed to compete in the global economy with India and China. Democrats,
Bush and Senate Republicans appear willing to liberalize immigration rules to
keep the U.S. competitive 50 years from now.
If Congress passes immigration reform this year, it will likely come after some
serious readjustments to the current plans. House Republicans have passed a bill
essentially ignoring Bush's call for a guest worker program, emphasizing border
security and stiffer penalties for lawbreakers instead. Senate Republicans seem
more in tune with Democrats and have heard proposals to increase legal
immigration or to provide immigrants already here with a path toward
The major proposals:
The House: The Republican-controlled House would strengthen patrols along the
border with Mexico by increasing staff and adding Department of Defense
Living in the U.S. illegally would become a felony.
Employers would be given six years to begin verifying Social Security numbers
through a national database, and the civil and criminal penalties for hiring
illegal workers would be increased.
Those who smuggle immigrants would also face harsher penalties.
Senate Judiciary Committee: Legislation sponsored by John McCain, R-Ariz., and
Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., allows illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before
2004 to work toward citizenship.
Immigrants would be required to undergo criminal background checks, and to pay a
$1,000 fine in order to work in the country. After six years, they would be able
to apply for citizenship or permanent resident status after paying another
$1,000 fine and any back taxes. They would be required to learn English.
Children brought into the country illegally would be eligible for state tuition
and be able to apply for citizenship.
In addition to the "green card" permanent status visa, the bill would create a
"blue card" guest worker program for people who could show they worked in U.S.
There would also be a guest worker program that would give up to 400,000 people
three-year work visas, renewable for another three years. Immigrants would then
be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Border security would be strengthened by increasing the number of Border Patrol
agents to 25,000 from 11,300.
Penalties against employers who offer jobs to illegal immigrants not taking part
in any programs would be increased including jail terms of up to six months.
Illegal immigrants would not be required to return to their native country
before taking part in any of the programs.
Sen. Bill Frist: Majority Leader Frist, R-Tenn., who will have to shepherd
various proposals through the Senate, is offering his own plan. It would
increase penalties for breaking the law, but also make it easier to gain
Frist would require employers to check the status of their workers, and he would
increase fines (to as much as $20,000 for each illegal immigrant hired); he
would also increase jail terms.
The number of employment-based green cards would be increased to 290,000 from
140,000. The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens would be exempt from visa
quota limits, making it easier for recent immigrants to sponsor family members.
Frist would also make illegal residence a misdemeanor. People who overstay their
visas would be required to return to their native country before being
considered for new programs.
The U.S. border with Mexico stretches over 2,000 meandering miles. Along the
line are about a dozen routes heavily used by illegal immigrants, their enablers
and drug smugglers.
The House plan calls for a non-contiguous barrier, totaling 700 miles, to block
the most popular paths. It also would direct the secretaries of Defense and
Homeland Security to "develop a plan to increase the Department of Defense
surveillance equipment along the U.S. and international land and maritime
borders." In other words, the House wants military drones and other high-tech
equipment to provide coverage along the U.S./Mexico border.
There are no specifics for the barrier, but it would likely be similar to the
one now being put up to separate Israel from parts of the West Bank.
Republican leaders hoping to shape a compromise between the Senate and House,
and to placate groups that oppose a guest worker program, see the barrier as the
key to successful legislation.
There has been some reluctance to talk about a barrier _ Bush has not mentioned
it _ because of the image it would project. The U.S. has always seen itself as
an open, welcoming country.
The Senate this week will wade into a full review of the proposals put forward
by Frist and McCain/Kennedy. The current climate favors those who support some
sort of guest worker program, probably along the lines of the McCain/Kennedy
plan. To gain more political momentum and to persuade the House, the Senate bill
is also expected to contain provisions for a high-tech barrier along at least
700 miles of the border, a doubling of Border Patrol officers and tough
sanctions against any businesses that do not follow the rules.
In a major breakthrough Wednesday, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.,
said he was willing to consider a guest worker program. If this holds, Senate
Republicans have a good chance of avoiding internecine warfare before the
November elections, with the goal of having Bush sign a bill in the fall.
For their part, Democrats can try to take credit for forging a bipartisan
consensus on an issue that has been festering for 20 years.
(George Latanzio is an editor at The Star-Ledger of Newark,
If we're a "nation of immigrants," how can we be a nation of
It used to be that only open-borders activists said it. Now the entire political
leadership of the United States is saying it. President Bush is saying it. Sen.
Specter is saying it. Even Sen. Bill "enforcement-only" Frist is saying
"We are a nation of immigrants built upon the
rule of law."
Of course, that cute little addition about
"rule of law" is nothing but boob bait for the Bubbas (a category of persons
that, in the minds of our leaders, seems to constitute about three-quarters of
the country); our leaders have as much intention to enforce the immigration laws
as I have to fly to Mars next week. The part of the statement that counts is the
business about "nation of immigrants." To see the entire political leadership of
our country pronouncing in unison this slogan, all as a part of an effort to
push through the most catastrophic open-borders scheme in our history, is an
Orwellian experience. If we're a "nation of immigrants," how can we be a nation
To say that America is a "nation of
immigrants" is to imply that there has never been an actual American people
apart from immigration. It is to put America out of existence as a historically
existing nation that immigrants and their children joined by coming here, a
country with its own right to exist and to determine its own sovereign destiny—a
right that includes the right to permit immigration or not. No patriot, no
decent person who loves this country, as distinct from loving some whacked-out,
anti-national, leftist idea of this country, would call it a "nation of
immigrants." Any elected official who utters the subversive canard that America
is a "nation of immigrants" should, at the least, find his phone lines tied up
with calls from irate constituents.
Of course, at first glance it seems
indisputable that "we are a nation of immigrants," in the sense that all
Americans, even including the American Indians, are either immigrants themselves
or descendants of people who came here from other places. Given those facts, it
would have been more accurate to say that we are "a nation of descendants
of immigrants." But such a mundane assertion would fail to convey the thrilling
idea conjured up by the phrase "nation of immigrants"—the idea that all of us,
whether or not we are literally immigrants, are somehow "spiritually"
immigrants, in the sense that the immigrant experience defines our character as
This friendly-sounding, inclusive
sentiment—like so many others of its kind—turns out to be profoundly
exclusive. For one thing, it implies that anyone who is not an immigrant, or
who does not identify with immigration as a key aspect of his own being, is not
a "real" American. It also suggests that newly arrived immigrants are more
American than people whose ancestors have been here for generations. The public
television essayist Richard Rodriguez spelled out these assumptions back in the
1990s when he declared, in his enervated, ominous tone: "Those of us who live in
this country are not the point of America. The newcomers are the point of
America." Certainly the illegal-alien demonstrators in Los Angeles last week
agreed with him; America, they kept telling us, belongs to them, not to
In reality, we are not—even in a figurative
sense—a nation of immigrants or even a nation of descendants of immigrants. As
Chilton Williamson pointed out in The Immigration Mystique, the 80,000
mostly English and Scots-Irish settlers of colonial times, the ancestors of
America’s historic Anglo-Saxon majority, had not transplanted themselves from
one nation to another (which is what defines immigration), but from Britain and
its territories to British colonies. They were not immigrants, but colonists.
The immigrants of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries came to an
American nation that had already been formed by those colonists and their
descendants. Therefore to call America "a nation of immigrants" is to suggest
that America, prior to the late nineteenth century wave of European immigration,
was not America. It is to imply that George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant
(descended from the original colonists) were not "real" Americans, but that
Richard Rodriguez (descended from 20th century immigrants) and the anti-American
demonstrators last week in Los Angeles, are.
Apart from its politically correct function of
diminishing the Anglo-Saxon Americans of the pre-Ellis Island period and their
descendants, the "nation of immigrants" motto is meaningless in practical terms.
Except for open-borders utopians (a group that has grown over the years until
now it seems to constitute a majority of the Democratic Party), everyone knows
that we must have some limits on immigration. The statement, "we are a nation of
immigrants," gives us no guidance on what those limits should be. Two hundred
thousand immigrants per year? Two million? Why not twenty million—since we’re a
nation of immigrants? The slogan also doesn’t tell us, once we have decided on
overall numbers, what the criterion of selection shall be among the people who
want to come here. Do we choose on the basis of family ties to recent
immigrants? Language? Income? Nationality? Race? Victim status? First come first
served? Willingness to work for a lower wage than Americans work for? The
"nation of immigrants" slogan cannot help us choose among these criteria because
it doesn’t state any good that is to be achieved by immigration. It simply
produces a blind emotional bias in favor of more immigration rather than
less, making rational discussion of the issue impossible.
To see the uselessness of
the "nation of immigrants" formula as a source of political guidance, , imagine
what the British would have said if they had adopted it in 1940 when they were
facing an imminent invasion by Hitler’s Germany. "Look, old man, we’re a nation
of immigrant/invaders. First the Celts took the land from the Neolithic peoples,
then the Anglo-Saxons conquered and drove out the Celts, then the Normans
invaded and subjugated the Anglo-Saxons. In between there were Danish invaders
and settlers and Viking marauders as well. Since we ourselves are descended from
invaders, who are we to oppose yet another invasion of this island? Being
invaded by Germanic barbarians is our national tradition!"
Since every nation could be called a nation of
immigrants (or a nation of invaders) if you go back far enough, consistent
application of the principle that a nation of immigrants must be open to all
future immigrants would require every country on earth to open its borders to
whoever wanted to come. But only the United States and, to a lesser extent, a
handful of other Western nations, are said to have this obligation. The rule of
openness to immigrants turns out to be a double standard, aimed solely at
America and the West.
It is also blatantly unfair to make the
factoid that "we are all descended from immigrants" our sole guide to national
policy, when there are so many other important and true facts about
America that could also serve as guides. For example, throughout its history the
United States has been a member of Western civilization—in religion
overwhelmingly Christian (and mainly Protestant Christian), in race (until the
post-1965 immigration) overwhelmingly white, in language English. Why shouldn’t
those little historical facts be at least as important in determining our
immigration policy as the pseudo-fact that we’re all "descended from
immigrants?" But immigrant advocates are incapable of debating such questions,
because there is no rational benefit for America that they seek through open
immigration. Their aim is not to strengthen and preserve America; their aim isto demonstrate themselves to be good, non-racist people—by surrendering
America to the immigrant invasion.
“National Security” and
Immigrants: the Hype and the Reality
#042, April 9, 2006, posted at
Democratic and Republican
politicians alike claim that the borders of this country are “broken” and that
this threatens U.S. “national security.” The liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's immigration
bill was officially titled the “Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.” At
the more extreme end of things, fanatic leader of the anti-immigrant movement
and Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo tries to fan fear with statements like
“[Undocumented immigrants] need to be found before it is too late. They're
coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren.” (Quoted in the
In post-9/11 America,
fascist measures like unrestricted government wiretapping and detention without
charges have grown by leaps and bounds, justified in the name of protecting the
“our safety” and “our security.” And the same justifications are being used to
further intensify the militarization of the border and repressive steps against
immigrants. This militarization and repression has real consequences in human
lives. As immigrants have been forced to cross through increasingly remote and
dangerous areas of the southern border in the past decade, thousands have
perished in the deserts, mountains, and rivers.
There are sharp divisions
at the top levels of the power structure over how best to protect “national
security.” Those who are fucked over by this system—and all those who stand
against injustice—can not get pulled into the terms and framework of “protecting
national security.” To understand why, you have to first look at what those at
the top—from Kennedy to Tancredo—mean when they say “national security.” They
don't mean the safety of masses of people in this country. The U.S. imperialist
ruling class has a global empire that exploits and oppresses people all over the
world, including within the borders of the U.S. And when these oppressors talk
of “our national security,” that is nothing more nor less than the military
force that is used to fortify and expand this worldwide system of murder and
dominate, exploit, and ruin whole countries—making it impossible for millions of
peasant farmers in Mexico and Central America, for example, to live off the
land. When these dispossessed make it into the U.S., they are shunted into the
most back-breaking and low-paying jobs. The bloodsuckers who profit off of this
human misery then turn around and use these very same immigrants as scapegoats,
blaming the immigrants for problems created by the capitalist system itself and
trying to sow divisions between immigrants and native-born people.
But at the same time, as
Bob Avakian points out, “The imperialists see in such immigrants a source of
instability and upheaval, a force weakening the internal cohesion of the home
base and potentially undermining the power of the U.S. as an international
overlord.” In this sense, for the imperialist rulers these immigrants are a
potential threat to their “national security”—because they need a stable
“homeland” as they defend and expand their global empire. And as part of the
overall fascist moves in this country, the rulers are ramping up repressive
measures against immigrants—and trying to get native-born people to go along
with this by fanning fear about “broken borders” (as well as whipping up racist
vigilante movements by openly and aggressively promoting the white, European,
English-speaking identity of the American Nation). The masses of people in this
country—immigrant and non-immigrant, of all nationalities—have no interest in
defending this “national security.”
From the perspective of the
proletariat, the immigrants and their inspiring struggle are a great source of
strength—and potentially a vital force in the revolutionary struggle to
overthrow U.S. imperialism and get this bloody monster off the backs of the
people of the world.
A Project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Interhemispheric
In Focus: The Immigration Debate
Volume 2, Number 31 (Full text)
Editors: Martha Honey (IPS) and Tom Barry (IRC)
Written by David Stoll, author of Is Latin America Turning Protestant?
and Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala. An anthropologist,
he is also interested in the labor implications of immigration.
In the immigration debate, free marketers square off against cultural
conservatives on the right side of the political spectrum; while on the left,
civil rights and ethnic advocacy groups oppose environmentalists and job
Until 1994 the debate over immigration focused on what the INS calls
illegal aliens, particularly those slipping across the Mexican border, even
though a larger number of undocumented residents arrived legally and
overstayed their visas.
Immigrants, documented and undocumented, are also the targets of populist
backlashes like California's Proposition 187, which bars undocumented
immigrants from basic social services.
Immigration into the U.S. is an issue that makes for strange bedfellows.
Supporters of current immigration levels include corporate interests that profit
from cheap foreign labor, ethnic lobbies seeking to increase their political
base, and religious activists, humanitarians, and civil libertarians who focus
on human rights and other ethical concerns. Opponents include nativists who view
non-European immigrants as a threat to American culture, environmentalists who
dread immigration-fueled population growth, and labor advocates who fear that
immigration is taking jobs from U.S. citizens and depressing U.S. wages. On the
right of the political spectrum, free marketers square off against cultural
conservatives. On the left, civil rights and ethnic advocacy groups oppose
environmentalists and job protectionists.
Current policy is a reaction to the Immigration Act of 1924, which reduced
the number of immigration visas and allocated them on the basis of national
origin. Since the quotas for each nationality were based on its proportion of
the U.S. population, the system favored northern Europeans and discriminated
against Asians. In the 1960s national quotas were finally abolished on equity
grounds. Equal opportunity and family reunification became top priorities,
opening the door to much larger flows from Latin America, the Caribbean, and
Refugees became a large immigrant category with mass arrivals from Cuba in
the early 1960s and early 1980s, and from Southeast Asia in the 1970s after the
collapse of U.S.-supported governments. Refugees fleeing communist-run countries
were granted automatic acceptance until steadily rising flows from Vietnam and
Cuba forced a halt to this practice.
To reduce economic incentives for illegal immigration, in 1986 Congress
passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) to punish employers who
hire undocumented immigrants. In addition to authorizing employer sanctions,
IRCA also granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants who had been residing
continuously in the U.S. for several years. Immigrant rights groups decried
discrimination against undocumented workers, while anti-immigrant groups
complained that employer sanctions would be unenforceable and that new arrivals
could easily receive amnesty by forging documents.
In 1996 the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) authorized
911,000 legal immigrants, including 595,000 for family reunification, 118,000
for their job skills, and 198,000 for humanitarian reasons and diversity. This
represents a rise of almost 30% from the 1995 figure of 716,000. When illegal
immigrants receiving amnesty are included, the 1996 total is around one million.
In recent years, the largest group of legal immigrants have come from Asia
(37%), followed by Mexico/the Caribbean/Central America (32%), and Europe (18%).
About 150,000 people apply for political asylum annually, and the backlog of
applications for political asylum stands at about 450,000.
Until 1994 the debate over immigration focused on what the INS calls illegal
aliens, particularly those slipping across the Mexican border, even though a
larger number of undocumented residents arrived legally and overstayed their
visas. In response to rising political pressures, the INS launched high-profile
campaigns such as Operation Blockade in El Paso and Operation Gatekeeper in San
Diego. Blocking the most-frequented entry points, however, shifted immigration
flows into isolated deserts and mountains where more border-crossers fall victim
to robbers, rapists, and extreme weather conditions.
Immigrants, documented and undocumented, are also the targets of populist
backlashes like California's Proposition 187, which bars undocumented immigrants
from basic social services. Courts have barred implementation of Proposition
187, but other legislation at the federal and state levels is cutting off both
legal and illegal immigrants from public welfare benefits. There are also
proposals to end the traditional practice of granting automatic citizenship to
anyone born in the U. S., regardless of the legal status of the parents.
Problems With Current U.S. Policy
Stricter border controls have proved unable to stem illegal immigration
flows, leading instead to rising human rights abuses and victimization of
Immigration clearly contributes to a downward pressure on wage levels and
to decreased job availability in certain economic sectors.
Many refugees fleeing repressive governments and violent political
situations find themselves rejected by Washington.
Immigration policy has to address a range of economic, humanitarian, and
ethical issues. Central to the raging immigration debate are differing
evaluations of the rights of immigrants to be with their families, to find haven
from political persecution, to seek a better standard of living, etc. and the
rights of native-born citizens (and their government) to determine who lives,
works, and benefits from public services in their country.
Among the factors affecting these different assessments are a rising sense of
economic and social insecurity in many U.S. communities, dependence of many
economic sectors on immigrant labor (from childcare to agribusiness), an
increasingly interconnected global economy characterized by the relatively free
flow of capital and trade, and rising crime and drug trafficking in border
Current immigration policy is failing on numerous accounts. Stricter border
controls have proved unable to stem illegal immigration flows, leading instead
to rising human rights abuses and victimization of border-crossers. Immigration
clearly contributes to a downward pressure on wage levels and to decreased job
availability in certain economic sectors. Many refugees fleeing repressive
governments and violent political situations find themselves rejected by
Economists tend to agree that immigration is a net benefit to the U.S.
economy. Immigrants fill jobs that U.S. citizens often reject, help the U.S.
economy maintain competitiveness in the global economy, and stimulate job
creation in depressed neighborhoods. But net benefits for the economy can
conceal serious losses for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population. It is no
secret that many employers ranging from suburbanites to small contractors to
major corporations would rather hire foreigners who often work harder for less
pay than U.S. citizens.
As such, immigration has long been a contentious labor issue. The infamous
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was, among other things, a reaction to the
importation of indentured laborers, who were paid far less than other workers.
The immigration debates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries anticipated
contemporary alliances between self-interested capitalists and open-door
idealists on the one side, and nativists and protectionists on the other. One
consequence of the Great Wave from 1880 to 1924 (with immigration averaging more
than a half million annually) was that northern manufacturers relied on imported
southern and eastern Europeans rather than hiring southern blacks.
Long employed in the agricultural sector, immigrants since the 1970s have
become a major presence in other industries that have reorganized to take
advantage of cheap labor and undermine union wage scales. A prominent example is
the meatpacking industry, which has replaced U.S. workers with Mexicans and
Southeast Asians at far lower pay. The chronic oversupply of labor from south of
the border has kept farm wages low and obstructed successful labor organizing.
The low-wage economy of border towns like El Paso is also partially explained by
heavy immigration flows. El Paso, which has grown rapidly in macro terms, is for
the most part a low-wage, labor-intensive treadmill with high unemployment,
earnings a third lower than the national average, and twice the national poverty
rate. Low-skill workers, particularly recent immigrants and blacks, are among
the most common casualties of this process. But they are not the only ones. The
1990 expansion slots for high-skill immigrants have contributed to rising levels
of unemployment in the U.S. for engineers, computer programmers, and Ph.Ds in
Immigration also has implications for U.S. population growth, environmental
protection, and the demand for new infrastructure. In the 1970s the U.S.
population was approaching stability at less than 250 million around the year
2030. Currently, immigration (including new arrivals and their children)
accounts for an increase of about 1.5 million more people a year, which
represents more than half of total U.S. population growth. At current levels of
immigration, the U.S. population will approach 400 million by the year 2050. If
immigration is reduced to half the current level, the U.S. population would
still approach 350 million by that year. Given the voracity with which U.S.
residents consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources, the
accelerated growth of this population is far more troubling than that of third
world residents, who consume so much less.
Immigration's fiscal costs and contributions are hotly debated. Rice
University economist Donald Huddle argues that, in 1994, legal and illegal
immigration drained $51 billion more in social welfare and job displacement
costs than immigrants paid in taxes. But according to the Urban Institute,
immigrants contribute $25-30 billion more in taxes than they receive in
services. Clearly immigrants are stressing the social infrastructure in some
states. But cutting them off from hospital care, schooling, and assistance
creates conditions of destitution that are even more costly to address apa= rt
from the ethical issues such action poses.
Toward a New Foreign Policy
First on the list of reform should be the current definition of family
unification a policy that leads to chain immigration and should be restricted
to spouses and children followed closely by a drastic reduction in job
In humanitarian admissions, national preferences should be eliminated to
admit everyone who can demonstrate that they are victims of individual
Labor advocates and policymakers should give serious consideration to the
national worker identification card. Backed by rigorous enforcement of labor
laws, such cards would deflate the political pressure for militarizing the
The implications of the trends regarding immigrant rights are troubling. The
lure of jobs, higher wages, and better living standards is drawing immigrants
into situations where U.S. citizens increasingly perceive the protection of
immigrant rights as undermining their own. This means that politicians can
attract votes by promising to fortify the Mexican border, even if such measures
only exact a higher price from border-crossers without significantly altering
The quandaries of policing borders have generated support for a national
worker identity card. Including a photograph and perhaps a fingerprint, the
national identity card would be much harder to falsify than current forms of
documentation. If issued to legal residents, authorized temporary workers, and
U.S. citizens, the card would enable enforcement of sanctions against employers
who hire illegal immigrants. It would remove the main incentive for illegal
immigration by rendering anyone who didn't have a card unemployable. Opposing
the identity card is a broad alliance of liberals and conservatives, ranging
from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Rifle Association,
backed by employers who do not wish to see enforceable sanctions.
The jobs/benefits debate has highlighted the fact that the number of legal
immigrants is three times the number of undocumented immigrants and that legal
immigrants have a correspondingly greater impact hence the proposals in the 1996
Congress to slash legal immigration to as low as 235,000 a year. This figure
would approach the level favored by those arguing for replacement level
immigration (the same number as those leaving the U.S.). Proposals to reduce
quotas were defeated in 1996, but legislation was approved to bolster the
strength of the U.S. Border Patrol, expedite deportation proceedings, stiffen
the penalties for document fraud, and hold sponsors financially responsible for
immigrants who become public charges.
Immigrant labor is, of course, not the main reason for deteriorating wage
levels, job opportunities, and labor conditions for U.S. workers. For example,
corporations pit workers against each other by threatening to move production to
lower-wage locations if their employees make demands. But if current immigration
levels are indeed contributing to the transformation of the U.S. into a low-wage
economy, then a new immigration policy is in order.
If the labor argument outlined in this policy brief withstands scrutiny, then
first on the list of reforms should be the current definition of family
unification a policy that leads to chain immigration and should be restricted to
spouses and children. Following closely should be a drastic reduction in job
skills-based immigration, most of which simply provides an opportunity for
businesses to pay foreigners less than what they would have to pay current
With respect to humanitarian admissions, national preferences should be
eliminated to admit everyone who can demonstrate that they are victims of
individualized persecution. To address illegal immigration, labor advocates and
policymakers should give serious consideration to the national worker
identification card. Backed by rigorous enforcement of labor laws, such cards
would deflate the political pressure for militarizing the Mexican border. Such
protections of the U.S. job market should, however, be accompanied by a foreign
policy that contributes to broad-based development in low-income countries.
A new immigration policy should do the following:
Stress ethical and humanitarian objectives by giving priority to refugees
fleeing from persecution.
Streamline and restructure provisional work programs that open the U.S. to
temporary workers who take jobs that U.S. residents don't want, while
guaranteeing the basic rights of these workers to organize and receive worker
benefits such as unemployment compensation.
Protect the most vulnerable economic sectors from an influx of low-wage
Lower legal immigration flows to sustainable levels.
Protect the basic human rights of all U.S. residents, legal or not.