Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Betty McCollum, Does she mean Open Borders?

Congressional District 4 Representative Betty McCollum held what was termed a listening session on immigration policy on July 22nd at the Minnesota State Capital.  There were two presentations that spoke to the primary message that was the "take away".
1) Betty McCollum's introductory remarks, a full court press demeaning Republican intentions
2) Hector Garcia's that let slip the mask to see the desired end point.  Open Borders, not immigration "reform".

The participants were:
US Rep Betty McCollum 
MN Sen Sandy Pappas
Matt Bostrom, Sheriff, Ramsey County
John Keller, Immigration Law Center
Michehe McKenzie, MN Advocate for Human Rights
Bruce Thao, Hmong American Partnership
Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council
Abdullah Kiatamba, African Immigrant Services
Steve Hunter, MN AFL-CIO
Bernie Hess, Local UFCW
Matt Kraemer, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Juve Meza, Student
Rev. John Guttermann, Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
Joanne Tromczak-Neid, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

The panels were as devoid of any balance in viewpoints as they could possibly be.  Immigration is a complex subject, with many aspects that must be discussed and thought out to form good immigration policy.  Is that possible, or intended, when only one view is considered?  It works very well for partisan politics, but not for real resolution of differences.

In her introductory remarks (shown in entirety in the video here) Betty McCollum stated:
"It is time for us to listen to the American People and pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Our communities need our Nation to provide a bill that meets the needs of our economy, keep families to gather, improves border security and interior enforcement, without compromising our values, or dividing communities. And something that will provide a pathway to earned citizenship for qualifying undocumented immigrants.  Unfortunately there are too many members in the house Republican caucus that want to block any attempt on comprehensive immigration reform.  Thats in the papers, I'm not, that's not a secret, people have heard that loud and clear.  So let me be clear, I fundamentally reject the solution by some of the Republicans in the, that the United States should just detain and deport eleven million individuals.  The opportunity to earn citizenship should not be out of reach in the Nation where immigration is such a fundamental part of our American story.  There should be a pathway for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and into the sunlight.  So that they can fully participate and investing our communities.  The Senate, US senate, should be commended for taking a concrete step to meeting this need."

While it is not a trait exclusive to her, Betty McCollum takes an extremist view of the Republican position.  Discounting completely the desire of virtually all Republicans to achieve immigration reform. Both fair and just. Just not taking the form that Rep McCollum would demand.  Yes the "papers", lead by an almost universally Democratic group of journalists (and here), do say Republicans want to block reform.  However, that is simply a canard to marginalize all but their own view.  Demagoguery will never achieve a solution to the problems they use as a wedge to stir dissatisfaction.

A key difference between the two views is that of securing the borders. Supporters of the Senate Bill, such as Rep McCollum, say that there are strict measures in the bill for border security.  However the DHS has full authority to simply say no to its implementation.  Leaving any such measures as impotent as if they were not present.

The US currently has one of the, loosest, most open enforcements of immigration.  Consider the Mexican policy  
Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.
The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

Article 27 of the Mexican constitution states: “Foreign citizens cannot own land within 100 km of the borders or 50 km of the sea; however, foreigners can have a beneficial interest in such land through a trust (fideicomiso), where the legal ownership of the land is held by a Mexican financial institution.” Of course Mexican immigrants to the United States can own land outright.

The restrictions in China are even more confusing, especially if you are Chinese

In Europe there are regions where there exists a Schegen Border Code for those Nations. There are practically open borders between them, for a period of 90 days, with proof of travel health insurance (also here).  However there is strict enforcement at the external borders.

This is essentially what the participants in the Betty McCollum listening session would appear to have really wanted.  For the United States to have completely open borders, without the limits of Schegen, with no enforceable laws to impede anyone from unfettered immigration or migration across what used to be national boundaries.  Could any national economy long survive and ultimately provide even basic services under those conditions?  Or is it intended to?

That was the clear message from Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council presentation on "Globalization" and immigration.  video
The context in which immigration is discussed is domestic, when it is really an international matter.  The immigrant, particularly the undocumented immigrants really are the primary social controversy in all these discussions.  Don't appear just after they cross the border, they have existence prior to that.  And I, I'm an immigrant myself from Mexico, now a citizen of the US.  I promoted the American Free Trade agreement, since before it was named as such, in 1990.  And that was the first agreement in the current stage of globalization.  And that to me is the context within which people from poorer nations are moving to more affluent nations.
And that has to be taken into account because they were not the ones who promoted globalization, it was promoted by the West, lead by the United States.  So if they end up here, it as a lot to do with the decisions that were made in Congress.  And this information is unfortunately not given out to the public as often as it should. Although academics know this quite well, there are a lot of researches throughout the country that know what the sources of undocumented migration are.  It is not publicized.  And so I think its never going to be possible for us to make appropriate decisions on immigration reform unless we understand the context.  And in that regard I believe that by acknowledging the context of globalization we will not only be able to resolve the challenging issue of undocumented migration, we will also be able to live more in keeping with the realities of globalization.
So these individuals are primarily here because they come from poverty stricken areas in their countries of origin, primarily Mexico and Central America and they have been cornered into an economic situation that does not give them many options, except to move to the United States, which is the wealthiest nation in the world.  Some others unfortunately have taken other directions which are even more dangerous, like joining the drug cartels of Mexico.  These problems will continue to mushroom until we decide that we have to manage the flows of labor that are part and parcel of international relations under globalization.
We cannot only think in terms of flows of trade, flows of capital, we need to acknowledge that people are going to go where the jobs are.  And if we change the game on them, their going to go where the new game is at. So I think by making their status official, in accordance with their countries of origin we will be better able to place them in those industries and jobs that most need their services.  Without that official status I don't think the undocumented migrants will ever be treated fairly or justly, because they don't have an official status.  They will be treated the way they are being treated now, and its not very justly.
But justice alone cannot be the only reason why they should be treated in a different way.  Economically in addition to the justice side would really make more sense of whats going on in the world that keeps changing around them and we're not helping them to understand what's going on and we're not helping them manage the consequences of those changes.  So which ever way we can help them, you [Rep McCollum] and others who are making these decisions to understand better the origins the repercussions how to better manage those flows. 

Further examination of the term "globalization" was given in a paper on the topic of Population, Migration, and Globalization.  Spelling out in more concise and explicit detail what this is really about:
Globalization, considered by many to be the inevitable wave of the future, is frequently confused with internationalization, but is in fact something totally different. Internationalization refers to the increasing importance of international trade, international relations, treaties, alliances, etc. Inter-national, of course, means between or among nations. The basic unit remains the nation, even as relations among nations become increasingly necessary and important. Globalization refers to the global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, mainly by free trade and free capital mobility, but also by somewhat easier or uncontrolled migration. It is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. What was international becomes interregional.
The word "integration" derives from "integer," meaning one, complete, or whole. Integration is the act of combining into one whole. Since there can be only one whole, it follows that global economic integration logically implies national economic disintegration. As the saying goes, to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. The dis-integration of the national egg is necessary to integrate the global omelette. It is dishonest to celebrate the benefits of global integration without counting the consequent costs of national disintegration. 

So if the goal of your view is open borders, it was an exciting discussion.  If you desire both fair and manageable immigration policy, while maintaining the ideals of American Exceptionalism as the greatest entity for good in the world, it was far more troubling!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Misrepresentation of Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground is a legal concept that is being too often deliberately misrepresented. Charles Cooke at National Review  states it even more clearly: "By dint of an unholy marriage between genuine ignorance and political opportunism, the Zimmerman trial has this week led to a peculiar dispute as to the propriety of so-called Stand Your Ground rules."  Mr Cooke goes on with a very thorough and excellent analysis of stand your ground.  See also the review at Hot Air.

It is part of and an extension to the Castle Doctrine.
The legal concept of the inviolability of the home has been known in Western Civilization since the age of the Roman Republic. The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle." This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628. The dictum was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "English" from the phrase, making it "a man's home is his castle", which thereby became simply the Castle Doctrine. The term has been used in England to imply a person's absolute right to exclude anyone from his home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.
What SYG does is add two key components to self defense legal definition.
1) That the right to defend yourself, without having to first retreat, where ever you have a right to be.  It is not lost simply because you are not on your home/property.  The lack of that right gave tremendous advantage to criminals.
2) Extension of statutes that shielded people from any criminal/civil suits for using force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. Without that, people were too often driven to penury to provide their own legal defense by unreasonable prosecutions.

One of the misrepresentations is the deliberate misapplication of the Fourth Amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons" is often where they stop in their protestations.  However the application is evident from the reading of the entire amendment. It is protection from the government partaking in unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause.

Another, and one of the more egregious, misrepresentation comes from President Barack Obama.  As one that lays claim to the title "Constitutional Lawyer" should know his statement is incorrect, said in a recent Nationally televised speech:
From American Thinker
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?
It is instructive to compare what Mr. Obama said to the facts, as stated by Florida's criminal code (emphasis is added):
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

"Stand your ground" does not, therefore, entitle you to shoot somebody just because he makes you uncomfortable.  That's unless the discomfort is the physical kind that results from a violent assault.

The best study of Stand Your Ground cases in Florida was done by the Tampa Bay Times, in reviewing the almost 200 cases that they have documented in Florida.   Their diffusive analysis looks at a variety of situations and "explanations" of the application of the law in cases, some inconsistent, some unexpected like drug deals gone wrong.  A variety of weapons, other than guns, were evident in about one third of the cases.

The paper did a series of articles on their research.  The most significant for purposes of the current discussion dominated by Al Sharpton (who brought us the Tawana Brawley scandal revisited by the NYTimes ) and many people active in the progressive movement against the Constitutional 2nd Amendment, is an article reviewing racial aspects of the data.

They made two key observations, the rest mainly speculations and simple discussion
Point 1 ) Whites who invoked the law were charged at the same rate as blacks.
Point 2 ) Whites who went to trial were convicted at the same rate as blacks.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 cases — the first to examine the role of race in "stand your ground" — found that people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time.
Overall, black defendants went free 66 percent of the time in fatal cases compared to 61 percent for white defendants — a difference explained, in part, by the fact blacks were more likely to kill another black.
"Let's be clear,'' said Alfreda Coward, a black Fort Lauderdale lawyer whose clients are mostly black men. "This law was not designed for the protection of young black males, but it's benefiting them in certain cases.''
The Times analysis does not prove that race caused the disparity between cases with black and white victims. Other factors may be at play.
The analysis, for example, found that black victims were more likely to be carrying a weapon when they were killed. They also were more likely than whites to be committing a crime, such as burglary, at the time.
The use of "per cent" typically implies the use of statistical treatment, which is not really present.  There is no discussion of "standard error" in the statements or descriptions.  The further discussion that shows the myriad reasons and situations found, demonstrate that any reasonable statistic for error would be so large as to dwarf the differences they report. Hence their basic 2 statements. That would run counter to the ability to make any but a personal emotional statement about what it means.  Many are more than eager to make their emotional accusations for a variety of reasons.  Chief among them is the desire for political gain.

From Wikipedia another study that diminishes the racial argument
Another analysis of stand-your-ground laws by economists at Georgia State, using monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics, found a significant increase in homicide and injury of whites, especially white males.[8] They also analyzed data from the Health Care Utilization Project, which revealed significantly increased rates of emergency room visits and hospital discharges related to gun injuries in states which enacted these laws.
The perplexing cases in application of the law is by no means limited to Florida.  Many states have cases where information is murky and defendants can do some strange things.  In Texas a black woman was clearly threatened by a black male with a knife.  After taking out her gun and shooting him, she then takes pictures.  None of which lessens her right to protect herself from deadly force.  The whole thing was recorded by a surveillance camera.  Perhaps she did not know that, and thought pictures might protect her.

Another case that closely parallels Zimmerman - Martin is that of a black man who killed a white teenager when the teenager charged him.  Mr Roderick Scott was acquitted.  The best summary of this case that I have seen is at Snopes.  However another site which calls everyone comparing the cases "racist", a common theme amongst those misrepresenting the Stand Your Ground laws, states:
Scott, we must remember, was on his own property, defending his own property originally, from three individuals – not one – who were actively engaged in undisputed criminal behavior.
There are two reasons why the racist site is wrong.  The most important is, the action of the other committing a crime often means little as a defense against manslaughter.  If Mr Scott had simply walked up and shot the criminal, he would have been convicted.  The other is that, as Snopes stated, Scott heard a disturbance on his property, told his girlfriend to call the police, but left his property to confront two people rummaging through his neighbors car.  The third was walking away.  And finally, calling people racist or accusing them of being complicit of murder because they analytically review reports and disagree with the Al Sharpton's of the world is more about defamation than fair discussion.

So here is the obligatory review of some of the facts about Stand Your Ground and the Zimmerman - Martin case, from Hot Air
Had he chose, Zimmerman could have demanded a “Stand Your Ground” hearing in the pre-trial phase. If the judge had ruled in his favor, the charges would have been thrown out. He waived his right to that hearing, which means the media obsession with SYG is a total non sequitur, sort of like their obsession with gun laws post-Newtown that would have done zip to stop Adam Lanza. Right? Not exactly. The concept of standing your ground, i.e. having no duty to retreat when force is being used against you, is also part of the general self-defense law that Zimmerman did successfully invoke in being acquitted.
Don’t take any of this too seriously, though. Like I said yesterday, the SYG outcry is less about the particulars of the Zimmerman case and more about giving liberals something to rally around for the midterms when the DOJ inevitably decides not to prosecute Zimmerman. This is politics. 
Since President Obama has inserted himself in this case, as he did in the "Beer Summit", what views has he held on Stand Your Ground in his political life.
President Obama may currently be calling on the states to review their respective “stand your ground” gun laws, but he wasn’t always so opposed to the right-to-carry rule.
In 2004, while a senator in Illinois, he co-sponsored legislation that allowed for the same rights.
The text summary read: “Provides that it is an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another. Effective immediately.”
The Illinois General Assembly website indicates then-Sen. Obama signed on as a co-sponsor on March 25, 2004.
As is usually the case with any legislation, there are several aspects that lead to a politician to vote for legislation. From they examine some of the "nuances" in Obama's positions.
Before one examines the validity of that claim, perhaps it’s best to revisit what the president said last Friday about SYG.
“It may be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations, confrontations, and tragedies as we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations,” Obama said.
Obama went on to acknowledge that SYG was not explicitly mentioned during the Zimmerman trial, which ended with the acquittal of the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but said that the self-defense law should still be examined because the message it sends to society.
“If we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed has a right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from the situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?”
He then posed the question of whether Martin would have been justified in shooting Zimmerman if he had felt threatened when Zimmerman followed him in a car, concluding that  “if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
So, it’s pretty clear that Obama has a problem with the SYG law, which would make him a hypocrite if he did vote to expand Illinois’s “Stand Your Ground” law — so, did he?
The short answer is: yes.  But there’s way more to the story, so it’s not a clear-cut case of hypocrisy and/or flip-flopping.
. . .
S.B. 2386 went on to clear both Democratically controlled chambers, the state House and Senate, by a near unanimous votes.  As the National Review noted, at that time Stand Your Ground laws weren’t a partisan issue.  They were merely viewed as common sense self-defense laws by both Democrats and Republicans.

National Review reviews that there was much less partisan issue when Florida passed the SYG law, nor since, until the opportune moment.
There was little outcry about the change from minority communities. Perhaps that’s because, as The Daily Caller discovered, “African Americans benefit from Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing ’stand your ground’ would help African Americans.”
A third of Florida’s Stand Your Ground claims in homicide cases are made by African-Americans, a rate nearly double the black percentage of the state’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that of Florida whites.
The "racist site" I discussed before, also claims that Zimmerman is being used as a poster child by racists and bigots.  They are projecting their own prejudices.  It would never have been brought to national prominence, had it not been that it fit the political meme they were looking for. They continually bring up Zimmerman to force their agenda and to force response within the context of Zimmerman.  The real issue should be a discussion about treatment of individuals in the judicial system. There are so many other cases that really should be receiving focus to achieve real "social justice", or the more preferable, simply justice.  But that's not the goal of Zimmerman baiters.

There are two cases here in Minnesota that really should be the focus.

First: Police brutality in Brooklyn Park.  An inadequate treatment is shown here.

Second: The case of Mrs Dorothy Dunning.  It is an egregious case of the use of "best interest of the child" in keeping a grandmother from adopting her grand children.