Friday, May 19, 2006

I Was Wrong on Immigration: Arcuri Must Now Speak Out

It seems that I was wrong. I gave too much damn credit to Ray Meier, thinking that he had actually had the decency not to dive into the mudbath that is the current immigration scare. I don't read the Republican rag Human Events, you see, so I missed their reporting on Ray Meier's extremist position on immigration:

"Ray Meier hasn't been all that silent on immigration. Here's what he told an interviewer from the conservative magazine Human Events:

Immigration Reform: Borrowing the title of Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s (R.-Ariz.) new book, Meier said Congress must do “whatever it takes” to gain control of the border. While he wouldn’t commit to building a fence, he also wouldn’t rule out some sort of physical structure. He supports the deployment of additional Border Patrol agents to the U.S.-Mexico border. As a lawmaker who represents a large population of immigrations from Bosnia and Eastern Europe, he said it’s highly unfair to legal immigrants when people enter the country illegally."

Oh, damn, what a creep Ray Meier is. Thanks to the reader who pointed this out to me, though.

This "whatever it takes" attitude is something that really bothers me about Republican politicians these days. They take problems, ordinary problems, and do their best to blow them up into huge crisis proportions in order to justify a right wing ideological extremism in the law.

The fake Social Security Crisis is the prime example, of this, of course. There's a problem with Social Security funding, but there's not a crisis. Republicans say that there is, and propose cutting the benefits for people in my generation, in spite of the fact that we've been paying into the system for years.

That's the typical Republican pattern of manipulation for you. Take an ordinary problem, try to exaggerate it into a massive crisis, and then use the threat of that fake crisis to get voters to support "emergency" measures to do "whatever it takes". Whenever I hear "whatever it takes" coming out of the mouth of a Republican politician, I hear this translation: "We're about to break a promise".

So it is with immigration. There has been no striking increase in illegal immigration over the last few years. The idea that there has been, as some hateful right wingers put it, a new "Mexican Invasion" of the United States, is a myth. Of course there are illegal immigrants. Why? Because some cheap people in business are so greedy and unpatriotic that they don't want to pay good American workers the wages that they deserve. But this has been a consistent problem for years. There's nothing new to merit the recent hype about illegal immigrants... except that Republicans have rightfully earned bottom basement approval ratings, and are looking for some way to get people afraid again, knowing that when people fear for their security, they tend to vote Republican.

Ray Meier is going right along with this terrible charade, giving us this "whatever it takes" language. Remember that translation, folks: "Whatever it takes" means "We're about to break a promise".

What's the promise that Ray Meier and the Republican fearmongers are breaking now? How about the promises of the rule of law and freedom of speech as written in the First Amendment?

A lot of people don't remember that, last year, the Republican Congress passed a law saying that the Secretary of Homeland Security has the right to render all laws of the United States of America null and void within ten miles of the U.S. border. It sounds crazy, but it's true. Now, with the idea that there is some kind of immigration crisis, the President is marching the National Guard right into that new Law-Free Zone. If that combination of events doesn't raise your eyebrows, I don't know what will. But Ray Meier says it's no big deal. Whatever it takes, he says.

Then there's yesterday's Senate vote to make non-English speakers second class citizens. Under the new law, to now be negotiated by the House and Senate, American citizens who don't speak English as their first language, like many people born in the USA in the Southwest, will become second-class citizens who can legally be denied basic government services. Government services can include things like getting married and renewing a driver's license.

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech. If the government can dictate to us now which language we have to speak, then freedom of speech in the United States is a joke.

No problem, says Ray Meier. Whatever it takes. He speaks English, so what's the problem right?

The problem is that this "whatever it takes" attitude is stomping all over the fundamental principles of our open, lawful, and democratic society. By joining in on the hateful anti-Hispanic crusade, Ray Meier isn't just hurting Hispanics. He's damaging the basic rights and protections from the government that we all depend upon.

Now, when I wrote earlier this morning, I was thankful for what I thought was the restraint of both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier on the immigration issue. Even then, before we learned about Ray Meier's unwise foray into the crude anti-immigrant crusade, a reader here who goes by the name of Biggus suggested to me that the candidates actually had the duty to speak up and argue vigorously against the bigotry of the anti-immigrant crowd. I wrote back to him that I was still hoping for the hysteria to die down, but that candidates would need to speak out against it if it got any worse.

Well, Ray Meier's involvement in the border security scare makes it worse. Furthermore, it seems that Michael Arcuri hasn't really been all that silent on immigration ayway. I found the following in an article in the Hamilton College Spectator:

"A few striking mistakes were made during his talk, including a repeatedly botched pronunciation of the word Dubai (which was corrected by an audience member), and the attribution of Social Security's creation to Truman, instead of Roosevelt. Arcuri also referred to New York as being "not a border state," during a discussion about immigration."

It looks as if I was very wrong about the state of the issue of immigration in this campaign when I wrote that article this morning. It seems that Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri are both talking up the immigration issue when they talk to reporters and directly to voters. We know that Ray Meier is on the wrong side of the issue, but it's not yet clear to everybody what Mike Arcuri's position actually is.

It would be reassuring to see a press release from Arcuri now, talking reasonably about the immigration issue, and refusing to join in the anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant furor. The Republicans have dragged the issue into the race, and now we are in desperate need of a candidate who will do the honorable thing and say no to the hate.


Curious said...

If you want a not-so-wild guess about Arcuri on most issues, see and look for the Democratic platform on the major issues. It's a little out of date, but much of his bland language seems to derive from there (except on gun control, where's he's far to the right of Sherry Boehlert's D+ NRA rating and channels GOP language on his website--but after all, he is a DA and must answer to the police if he wants to keep that position).

Anonymous said...

Why standing for nothing is harmful to your election prospects.

Get it Mike?

Biggus Dickus said...

Of course there are illegal immigrants. Why? Because some cheap people in business are so greedy and unpatriotic that they don't want to pay good American workers the wages that they deserve.

How very true. I think we can all agree, regardless of political orientation, that any business or corporation discovered to be exploiting illegal immigrants should be vigorously prosecuted. It is, after all, a practice that's against the law. More importantly, a failure to prosecute allows big business to abuse the rights of immigrants while depriving hard-pressed American workers of needed jobs and income.

To idly stand by and allow that exploitation is something we should all be ashamed of.

Again, this is an area where the 24th district should be in the lead because of it's unique perspective and experience.

Your friend forever,
Biggus Dickus

Anonymous said...

One of the things that has surprised me in this debate is the fact that it has been four years since 9-11 and our southern border is not secure. After all, we are patting down grandmothers in airports because we are afraid of them blowing up airplanes, but yet anyone can sneak a WMD across the border from Mexico. That is, and should be, frightening.

I just don't understand your thinking that we should allow anyone into this country and there should be no border protection. Sorry, but there is nothing racist about wanting to secure our borders and require immigrants to enter the country legally. Its good sound policy.

Of course this won't be published by you because it makes too much sense, but I want you to know that there are a bunch of Republicans who are considering voting for Acuri this year and outrageously liberal viewpoints like yours will cause us to NOT consider your candidate.

24 Independent said...

10:58, that's the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard, and I think you know it.

Nowhere did I say, "we should allow anyone into this country and there should be no border protection."

Now stop these silly exaggerations, and if you want to enter the debate, be honest and reasonable. No more of this hype, creating the mood of a special crisis where none exists.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:58. We have no idea who is crossing our borders or when. I also know that plenty of immigrants came here legally, including my own ascendents, and that is how it should be. They waited their turn. For one thing, there is the danger of illnesses that we once eradicated returning to this country because we do not follow the legal methodology. Cases of polio, TB and certain uncurable blood diseases that have been gone from America for decades are now returning and endangering the well being of Americans. Legal immigrants always got deported if they broke laws. And ILLEGAL still means ILLEGAL. I wouldn't call an influx of 11 million illegal and untrackable immigrants not a crises. It is a huge crises. It is part and parcel to why so many middle class and working Americans cannot afford health care insurance premiums. The premiums reflect all the free health care to illegal immigrants. yet, they themselves are in danger of bankruptcy if they should ever have a catastrophic illness. There are many reasons why immigration is supposed to be legal and not out of control and these are just some of them. So you see, not all of us see it as a racial issue, but rather as a practical one, both in terms of health and finances. These companies that hire illegals are giving them benefits off of the backs of working Americans. In addition to that, the standard of living for Americans continues to be lowered by the presence of the ability to get away with paying pittance wages.

As a matter of practicality, if America were to save everyone in the world, and let anybody and everybody just show up at our borders and cross, it would have to be at the expense of their own well being. Is this what we REALLY want? And are we to become a lawless country besides?

Biggus Dickus said...

Arcuri also referred to New York as being "not a border state," during a discussion about immigration."

I'm sure this is a mistake.

Surely Mr. Arcuri is aware that we share a border with Canada. More importantly, he can't be ignorant of the fact that the Oneida County Jail is a designated holding facility for immigrants turned back at the Canadian border or apprehended within the CNY area.

After all, he'd be responsible for prosecuting any immigration related violations of state law within the county. Including any business that falsifed records or committed fraud to support the exploitation of illegal immigrants.

Your friend forever,
Biggus Dickus

Anonymous said...

biggus dickus why don't you allow comments on your site? You have a lot to say so how 'bout letting others weigh in????

Biggus Dickus said...

biggus dickus why don't you allow comments on your site?

Well, I'm an authoritarian control-freak seeking to crush the independent thoughts of the downtrodden, that's why.


You have a lot to say so how 'bout letting others weigh in????

I wasn't aware I was preventing anyone from weighing in. You do know the nice folks at Blogger would love to have you start a blog, right? Just click on the orange logo up in the left-hand corner and they'll be more than happy to set you up.

Your friend forever,
Biggus Dickus

Anonymous said...

Biggus is smart. He does his homework on his own blog and doesn't want other people going there blowing smoke at each other and derailing the whole blog. It's at his discretion. I sense that Biggus disagrees with us democrats quite a bit,but he doesn't do it like a savage. I can't say the same for some of the posters here. Secondly, Biggus does satire and if I have noticed one thing on this blog, it's that a sense of humor is missing and satire isn't even understood most times. I made a remark in a satirical vein on this blog once and the result was a flurry of responses in the literal.

I don't blame biggus. I would do the same. He doesn't have to put up with all this My Way Or The Highway Crap and his blog isn't just about the 24th. There are local issues that will be lost when he opens up his comment area.

Curious said...

I liked this easy-to-understand breakdown of the sides of the issue:

The health issues cited by 6:11 derive exclusively from a report in JPANDS, a journal with a decidedly Libertarian bent and a dubious scientific reputation. Beware of disguised right-wing sources in this unpleasant debate. I wish we could go back to Jon's original suggestion that Congressional candidates should not touch this one with a ten-foot chainlink fencepole.

Anonymous said...

This whole war on terror and fear thing is absurd.

If the Muslim fundatmentalists attack us because they want to be materialists like us and are jealous then lift them up to absurd materialism like us.

If the Muslim fundamentalists attack us because of religious hatred, then think about what religion really contributes to human society.

The only thing to really be afraid of is what will happen to homo sapiens if this is the best we can do.

Anonymous said...

9:44, it was nice of you to second guess me, or use the psychic hot line or whatever, for you were so emphatic about where I got my information. But I have to tell you that I don't even know what JPANDs is. I am not a libertarian, never even read any of their material, perhaps you might suggest I should. At least up to now, I am a Democrat, card carrying, I even served as a city elected official,so at least in part, I gave at the office, so to speak. Having said that, Biggus by now will have guessed who I am.

Yes, I am a democrat, who sits in the center, looks at issues in practical ways, ad nauseum I am sure. I lean to the left on some issues and to the right on others. But I never lean to the extreme on either side. To me, extremism is the path to destruction, regardless of which party does it. In any event, my comments about what illegal aliens are doing to our health care, both financially and in terms of our own health, actually came from a number of articles, including a AMA issue. Well, perhaps they are of a dubious scientific reputation as well, but they sure had a lot of interesting statistics to reinforce their findings. There were a few other articles I read about this issue as well, including one addressing hospitals that have had to close down because of lack of paying customers in areas close to the borders in question.

Curious said...

5:35--Sorry, I never meant that YOU were a Libertarian. It's just that this particular "study" has riled up the blogosphere and has been traced back to a couple of right-wing sources. As for the AMA, I'm sorry I don't know what study you're citing, but I think this essay is useful in her comment about using immigrants as "disease vectors" like ticks or rats as opposed to people who are ill. . . .

Anyway, see
american_physicians.php for a critical deconstruction of the original "study."

And you might be interested in JAMA's look at Eastern European immigrants (legal) and the NY epidemics of 1892.

My point is that any statistic may be used for any purpose. Are there medical disadvantages to letting immigrants in? Probably. Do those disadvantages outweigh other issues? Your call. But as Biggus likes to tell us, know thy source.

How are we going to locate and export those 11 million? Will that be easier than finding Bin Laden?