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!

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