Does the Constitution authorize immigration restriction?

Continue reading “Does the Constitution authorize immigration restriction?”

“Your papers, please”

My friend Jeremy Paretsky - whose sermon on the knowledge of God was posted here some time ago - is now the Sub-Prior (administrator) of a small Dominican Order house in New York.  A man who works for him - a legal permanent resident of the United States, the father of two natural-born U.S. citizens - just had a deeply troubling experience with Donald Trump’s “unshackled” ICE. He was stopped for no reason other than his appearance, treated rudely, manhandled, held for interrogation for 90 minutes, and finally released without any apology or explanation other than that the stop was “routine”: which implies that it could be repeated at any time.

In the movies of my childhood, the cold-faced men demanding “Your papers, please” had German or Russian accents.  I preferred it that way.

This event makes me think that whatever the shackles were, they need to be put back in place.  Fr. Paretsky’s letter to Sen. Gillibrand follows.  I can provide his contact information to any journalist or lawyer who would like to follow up.

The good news is that Sen. Gillibrand has offered to help. The bad news is that the victim of this outrage - I repeat, a legal permanent resident of this country, who has been accused of no wrongdoing of any kind - is too afraid to allow his name to be used.  In the United States of America.

Footnote Do you routinely carry documents proving that you’re a U.S. citizen? Neither do I.

Continue reading ““Your papers, please””

Giving Tuesday, No Giving Required; and Jail for the President

Over on The Nonprofiteer, I critique the whole Giving Tuesday concept and particularly its latest iteration, in which people don’t have to actually give to participate.

Plus, h/t to our friends at Political Wire, for quoting a Republican legislator who can’t seem to imagine a black man who isn’t incarcerated.


As long as that’s clear

GOP for “self-deportation”? Hell, no! Just “encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily” with threats of arrest. Whew! Had me worried for a moment.

Who says Republicans favor “self-deportation”? Not at all! They just want to “encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily” by arresting those who don’t.

I trust you’ll agree that’s not at all the same thing.

[Is it actually possible to overestimate the gullibility of the voters and the stenography of the press corps? I suppose we’ll find out.]

Yeah, more of me babbling on bloggingheads

…with Glenn Loury. We hit gun violence, immigration, respectfully discussing same-sex marriage with people we love who were raised in another era, dispelling Glenn’s cynical views of American politics. This particular clip hits on immigration policy.  I think it’s unjust to invite immigrants here, to implicitly and explicitly benefit from their low-wage labor for years within our economy-and then to act as though they are criminals when we discuss issues such as emergency health care and the Dream Act.

Yeah the country is changing. No, you don’t need to be scared.

Some post-election thoughts about the genuine human fears harbored by many people that the country they grew up in is slipping away.

I’ve been thinking post-election about the genuine human fears harbored by many people that the country they grew up in is gone, or at least slipping away. I spoke with many of those men and women on the campaign trail in 2008 and again this year.

These are good people, mostly older and white, who are unsettled and scared by the pace of social change in America. Same-sex marriage, legalized marijuana, talk of legalized status for undocumented immigrants—that’s a lot of change to accept within just a few years.  I met some others, too. Consider the liberal Jews of my parents’ generation who sense—accurately, I think-that the coming generation of liberal politicians can read from the hymnal but don’t sway with the music about Israel the way the generation of 1967 and 1973 once did.

It’s an irony of recent history that the conciliatory and calm Barack Obama exemplifies in his person some inexorable and potentially scary political and demographic trends. Some would exploit the accompanying anxieties by challenging the President’s birth certificate. Most people really fear the “otherness” of our coming 21st-century America, not the alleged inauthenticity of our president’s initial paperwork fifty years ago. Continue reading “Yeah the country is changing. No, you don’t need to be scared.”

Politics and physics

When I was in the eighth grade I had Mr. Nadrowski for science, and one day he called Stephen Chilcote up to the front of the class and told him to push against the cinder-block wall until it fell over.  As Chiclet obediently pushed and the rest of us watched, Mr. Nadrowski kept up a descriptive patter: “So there he is, beads of sweat are popping out on his forehead, his muscles all straining; but you know what?  He’s not doing any work!”  His point was that from a physics standpoint no work occurs unless the object responds to the force; if the wall didn’t move, Stephen’s efforts didn’t count.

This seems to be the definition of “work” Republicans are using to complain that President Obama isn’t doing enough to fix the economy.  They build a cinder-block wall of legislative refusal and then criticize him for failing to push it over.

And when he does manage to move objects despite the cinder-block—by the Executive Order modifying immigration or the administrative maneuvers necessary to maintain contraception as a component of basic health-care—his opponents hyperventilate about Obama’s terrifying expansion of Presidential power.  From the people who created the Constitutionally bogus “signing statement,” that’s chutzpah enough to topple the canonical instance: the boy who, having murdered his parents, asks for leniency because he’s an orphan.

So let’s do some real work of our own.  If you’re interested in actually moving objects—Obama canvassers from Illinois to Iowa, and Iowa Democratic voters from their homes to the polls—please join my Wednesday evening phone bank, beginning this week (July 11) and continuing through the election.  Contact me off-line for details, but bear in mind that Iowa votes early, beginning on September 27: if we’re going to knock over the wall, we’ve got to do it over the summer.

The Arizona Immigration Case: Three Key Questions

Under current doctrine, the SB 1070 case came out the right way.  I hate Section 2(B) - the infamous “papers, please” provision - but it isn’t unconstitutional for state officials to enforce federal law (even federal civil law, which includes immigration) and then turn offenders over to federal officials.  Generally speaking, it isn’t an issue, especially in immigration contexts.  Why should state and local law enforcement worry about chasing after federal civil offenders such as, say, tax evaders?  And police departments are morons if they want to risk local cooperation by inquiring about immigration status.  But this is Arizona.

The touchstone is that this case was a “facial” challenge, which under current doctrine means that in order to succeed, plaintiffs have to show essentially no circumstances under which the application of the law would be constitutional.  I think that that standard for facial challenges is terrible, but this group of yahoos isn’t going to revisit it any time soon.

Thus, the new phase is developing an “as-applied” challenge to the law.  That means answering three key questions:

1)  What will the feds do when Arizona cops start presenting them with hundreds of Latinos to incarcerate?  This is an important place to pin down the administration: if and when Arizona police start giving you just immigration suspects, tell them to release them.

2)  What kind of monitoring, both DOJ and private, needs to be done in order to present the as-applied challenge to SB 1070?

3)  What precisely will plaintiffs need to show to enjoin application of Section 2B?  Arizona has something like one-third Latino population.  I would guess that virtually all of the white and Indian population are citizens. (I don’t about Asians.). So if all the people turned over to the feds are Latino, is that good enough?  What if it’s two-thirds?  Will Arizona police need to write specific guidelines?  If they don’t, is that good enough?

This battle is just beginning.

Religious Exemptions for Everything!

My friend and colleague Noah Zatz just suggested an interesting idea: if religious organizations can get exemptions from the Affordable Care Act due to their deeply-held religious beliefs, why limit it to contraception?  Why not include immigration law in the picture?

“You shall love the stranger, for you were a stranger in the land of Egypt.”  This is not an isolated Biblical line: it is repeated no less than 36 times (really) in the Bible.  So synagogues, churches, and mosques (musn’t forget mosques) should just make it clear that they should not have to obey immigration law: they will hire or provide services to anyone and everyone regardless of immigration status.  Any attempts by any law enforcement agency to prosecute them or in any way harass or deport immigrants who are part of their religious communities violates their freedom of conscience to include them (not to mention their rights to freely associate).

Because it’s really about religious liberty, right?  Right?

Bon anniversaire, Mademoiselle Liberté, et reste la très bienvenue

125 years old, still young and still hot. I love her.  I love where she stands, I love her crown of radiant wisdom and her torch and her book of laws, I love Miss Lazarus’ poem, I love that she’s an excellent sculpture on her own terms.  I love that you can buy bronze paperweights of her, and that she’s so familiar she can figure in cartoons and movies, in parts or in whole. I love that we fixed her up for another century (Bartholdi did a good job, but he (and Eiffel) didn’t know enough about electrolytic corrosion when you rivet copper onto a steel frame). I love the French for thinking the American experiment was their project, too.

Among the liberties she recalls today is freedom from broken bodies, ruined lungs, blindness, and the poverty industrial disability used to assure.  Here is where she was made: a filthy, smoky hell worse than any of Piranesi’s dungeons: not a pair of goggles or steel-toed shoes in sight, and just walking across the floor could break your leg. Every breath put asbestos in your lungs. Imagine the noise: this was a metalsmithing factory with everyone banging on sheet metal with a hammer.  Going up on the scaffold? Safety harness…what are you talking about?  Just try not to break any equipment when you land; you, we can replace tomorrow.

That’s where everything was made back then.  When she was restored in 1986, things were very different: for example, the workers had protection from Eiffel’s asbestos .  Save a thought for OSHA, child labor laws, Social Security Disability insurance, and the unions who made it safe to go to work in the morning and make stuff for us.