Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's on like Donkey Kong!

There's news of a group that has sent names, addresses, SSNs, birthdates, etc. of 1,300 people to media and government outlets in Utah. According to the anonymous creator of the list these are all people that are illegal. The news says that it is likely that someone at the department of workforce services or another state entity has been gathering these names and information during the course of their work. This is an illegal and unauthorized use of information. Not everyone on the list is illegal. How would you feel if your name, address, SSN, and birthdate was sent to all of these groups. If this list is publicized, then everyone on it has a chance of being victimized by identity thieves, vigilantes, and others.

On KSL one article that supposedly dispels myths about illegal immigration says the following:
With an issue as volatile as illegal immigration, it is important to have the facts. Getting the facts, though, isn't easy, primarily because so many voices cloud the emotional discussion with simplistic bumper sticker rhetoric and hearsay.

KSL applauds our sister news organization, the Deseret News, for a recent article exploring "the myths and realities of illegal immigration," and for astutely researching and declaring what is fact and what is fiction. Here is a sampling:

"Illegal immigrants cause most local crime, crowding prisons." Deseret News reporters found the statement to be categorically false.

"Illegal immigrants are taking away jobs." Mostly false, according to Deseret News research.

"Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes." Some do, some don't was the conclusion.

"Americans spend billions to educate children who are here illegally and crowd our schools." Again, the reality arrow points toward that statement being mostly false.

"Billions of dollars a year are spent on Medicaid for illegal immigrants." That statement, too, according to the Deseret News is false.

KSL welcomes this in depth look at a very contentious issue. We encourage you to read the entire article in the paper's June 27 edition. You can find it online at www.deseretnews.com. We hope you'll do it with an honest desire to better understand the hot-button issues surrounding the immigration debate.

The comments section of this story was capped after 20 comments. As far as I could tell, all but one or two of the posted comments were posted be people that are extremely angry and vehemently opposed to this article on illegal immigration. The level of sentiment against these immigrants is scary. They are called dogs in one comment, and parasites in another. Several of the comments passed judgment on 'them' by referring to names in databases or experiences with hispanics. These comments pass judgment on hispanics in general, with no reference to legal status. When a person has strong negative sentiments against a race of people, what is that called? I call it racism.

I have lived and been friends with many hispanic people, mostly because of my Spanish speaking abilities and my wife Islena. Hispanic people are as good a people as are white people. There is no way that I could tell the difference between legal and illegal immigrants, unless they told me or papers were checked. I believe this is because illegal immigrants, taken as a whole, are not bad people. In any large group of people there will be criminals. Just like anyone else criminals who are illegal should be punished according to their crimes. In this case, if we can get rid of criminals by sending them to a home country, then let's do it. But the action of crossing the border without documentation doesn't make them criminals. Any more than not using your turn signals when changing lanes, jay walking, speeding, or setting foot on private property without permission makes you or me a criminal.

The infraction itself is equally benign. It is a law meant to maintain societal order that is broken. It is a problem. It needs to be resolved. There are some really bad people that we really don't want in this country, and there are some really good people that we really do want in this country. There are some illegal hardened criminals, and there are some illegal 2 year old girls. Illegal hardened criminals in the United States are just as exposed and subject to our justice system as legal hardened criminals. Probably even moreso.

The laws on the books are inadequate to do what is right. If you ask me in person, I'll tell you two stories that I know of personally, of people that are/were illegal that should be legal. You will agree with me that the wrong action was taken, and it was taken in accordance with our laws.

There is so much anger and hyperbole on this issue that it sickens me. People blame the illegal immigrants for ruining the economy. They want someone to blame. Apparently the big corporations, bad lending practices, and the housing bubble aren't enough. People are calling them names that are dehumanizing. That is stage 3 of the 8 stages of genocide. I don't say that to imply that the country or the government would ever participate in genocide. But some individuals, left to their own devices, might certainly take murderous actions. Google "8 stages of genocide." It's interesting stuff.

People are saying that the 'illegals' are responsible for a high crime rate. This is where they invariably forget to distinguish between hispanic and illegal. In either case, those stubborn facts and data saying that they are not more criminal are brushed aside. The only statistic that I've seen (about hispanics, not illegals) that indicates that they do have a higher crime rate is obviously the result of a long search through crime statistics to pick out one rare type of crime for one year for one area. Cherry picked.

People say that the illegal immigrants steal their identities. One or some illegal immigrants may have done this. But we need to remember that there are several groups involved in this type of crime. Most illegal immigrants involved in this kind of crime are part of a scenario, where one guy or group obtains a long list of social security numbers. They are called 'Miqueros.' They will hang out on a street corner, and wait for illegal immigrants to come up and ask for 'papers.' The miquero assures the immigrant that they only sell SSNs etc. from dead people, so that no one will be harmed through this criminal transaction. The illegal immigrant then uses this id. Most of them will do the best they can to build and protect their credit using this false documentation. They will buy cars and houses, making payments and living their lives, etc. This is unfortunate, and it is criminal.

There is a very different type of crime, which is identity theft to steal money, where people steal others' identities to take out loans, get all they can, and then leave these others with the debt. This type of crime has no relationship to the illegal immigrant needing false papers. The illegal immigrant wants to treat their false paperes very well and very carefully, because they may be good people, but even if they aren't, to avoid any suspicious eyes and law enforcement that is brought in by stealing others' identities for illicit financial gain. My understanding is that the great majority of people that commit the more destructive kind of identity theft are citizens, born and raised, of the United States of America.

I don't understand this fixation that people have of race as a primary predictor of criminal activity. The statistics don't back it up. The attribute most associated with crime is gender. You want to reduce crime by taking action against a whole group, let's take all the men out. The second best predictor of crime is age. If you want to reduce crime, put all the 18 to 25 years olds in jail. So I ask "Why do we skip these attributes when deciding what group to be angry about and go directly to race or ethnicity?" To me it is very clear. We skip gender and age attributes because they are close to us. We are male, or were or will be 18 to 25 at some point. What is the attribute that represents the greatest difference between the angered citizen and the criminals in their minds? Race or ethnicity. We associate ourselves as white and legal and good, and them as minority and illegal and bad.

When we see someone that is white and criminal, we think "stupid criminal" and don't attach it to any other association. When we see someone that is minority and criminal, we connect the picture or name to the stereotype that we already have, and it reinforces the racist belief. I'm sure this phenomenon has a name. I don't know what it is. I saw a news article several weeks ago about a crime that made no mention of names, races, ethnicities, or legal status, and there was a disturbingly high number of comments made by people who were already 100% sure that the perpetrators were from one minority group or another.

I find it really upsetting the way that so many people who are completely unaffected by illegal immigration in any way can find the time to be so hateful. To me it is the result of the echo chamber effect. A person feels one way, and only listens to others who feel the exact same way. Everyone is saying versions of the same thing to each other, and the people involved see it as inherent evidence that their views must be correct. That is all they hear. They begin to feel very strongly against those of the opposing viewpoint. They simply cannot understand how any rational human being could hold the opposing view.

Of course sometimes I may be quite one-sided in my opinions, as you've read. But just for the record, I don't think that all illegal people should be unconditionally legalized. The borders do need to be sealed, as much as is possible. I do think we need to recognize that a total seal is impossible. I think the best way to stop drug trafficking and violence is to stop the problem at its source. The source of the problem is the American people who want and pay for drugs. The way to stop the problem is by educating young Americans in school about the entire issue. As far as stopping terrorist cells coming across the border, the main border to worry about is 1) airports, 2) Canadian border. Honestly, if you were a terrorist, which border would you cross, the northern border that is almost totally unprotected, or the southern border that has never been protected as well as it is now? I mean seriously...

Back to defending my objectivity and neutrality... as if that's possible. :) After the borders are protected as well as can be done (and the best terrorist protection isn't border guards, it's education and PR in the Middle East) right. So, after the borders are protected, then illegal immigrants who are here should have to pass a number of hurdles to become legal. Have committed no crimes. Have paid taxes. (Don't tell me none of them do. Some do. I know this to be fact.) Pay some monetary penalty to cover costs of legalization. What else? Anyway, after all of this is done, then better workplace verification laws need to come into play. This will take care of the good people. But those that are wanted for crimes, or broke more laws than just crossing, won't come forward. Those that need legitimate work will be forced out. Those that don't need legitimate work will be caught only through regular law enforcement channels, as is done currently.

I don't know. It just seems like, to me, the 'crime' of illegal immigrants was crossing a physical line. The federal government didn't say they could cross it, and they did. To me, the act itself is no more serious than stepping into a yard with a keep off sign posted, or going 66 in a 65 mph area. The penalty (being kicked out) for this crime is fine for a person that's been in country a week. The penalty for the child that grew up here, or even the parents that have lived most of their lives here, doesn't fit the crime. Maybe there should be a statute of limitations at least, like there are for more serious crimes. A couple of decades maybe. Or, say, if a person has demonstrably lived for more than half of their life here, then they can (having passed all hurdles) become residents.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Most don’t make enough to pay taxes anyway.
They put into social security like the rest of us, but they won’t get it back at retirement.
They pay Medicare taxes, Personal Income taxes, Sales taxes.
Illegals get emergency medical care and K-12 education. No food stamps. No regular Medicaid. No housing assistance.
8 million of 12 million Illegals have ITINs and pay taxes.
More pay taxes than use services.
One family of immigrants that are friends of Islena and me pay taxes, but they never get their refunds. The IRS sent a letter saying "we have your overpayments here. They are afraid to ask for it back.