A Philosopher's Blog

Illegal Immigrants & Law Enforcement

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Race, Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on May 26, 2017
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While Trump has kept his promise to crack down on illegal immigrants, this increased enforcement has apparently made life easier for criminals and more difficult for police. This is because illegal immigrants are now far less likely to report crimes to the police or assist in police investigations.

While Trump and others have claimed that immigrants come here to commit crimes (and steal jobs), the evidence shows that native citizens commit crimes at a higher rate than immigrants. Immigrants are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators, which is one reason why some police departments are reluctant to serve as agents of federal immigration policy. After all, they need the cooperation of victims and witnesses to investigate crimes. This is not to say that illegal immigrants do not commit crimes; they do and this is a matter of legitimate concern. While the legal issues of immigration are obviously a matter of law, there are important moral issues here as well.

As noted above, one compelling reason for the local police and officials to not work as enforcers for federal immigration policy is that illegal immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crimes will be far less likely to cooperate with the police. From a utilitarian standpoint, this would morally problematic because it would result in more harm than good by allowing criminals to remain at large. As an example, illegal immigrants have been picked up at courthouses after serving as witnesses for the prosecution. This practice will certainly deter illegal immigrants from coming forward as witnesses. As such, this would seem to provide a moral justification for local governments to ignore the immigration status of people who have otherwise not broken any laws.

The easy and obvious counter to this line of reasoning is to point out that illegal immigrants are, by definition, all criminals. As such, ignoring their immigration status would allow criminals to remain in the community engaging in criminal activities. To add in a utilitarian element, it can be argued that while tolerating illegals who do not engage in other crimes would be a small thing, the damage to the rule of law would be significant in its harms.

One reply to this is to point out that lesser criminals are often given immunity to encourage them to testify against more important criminals. This same sort of justification could be applied here: the extremely minor crime of being an illegal immigrant can be justly ignored to ensure that the illegal immigrants are able to report serious crimes and serve as witnesses in prosecutions of such crimes. The obvious problem with this reply is that it justifies ongoing criminal activity. To use an analogy, it would be like allowing people to continuously violate minor traffic laws in the hopes that they would be more amenable to cooperating with the police regarding more significant crimes. The absurdity of this would seem to show that allowing one crime in the hopes of getting more cooperation combating other crimes is not a reasonable idea.

Another reply is that the illegal immigrants are only criminals because of bad immigration law and a defective immigration system. The gist of this approach is to argue that the immigrants who do not commit other crimes should not be classified as criminals in the first place and that enforcing such bad laws is morally wrong. It could be argued that there is a crude integrity in mindlessly obeying the law, but history has shown that “just following orders” is not an adequate moral defense. The challenge here is, of course, working out whether the immigration laws are bad laws. On the face of it, there does seem to be considerable agreement that they are not very good laws. However, it is still reasonable to consider whether the laws are bad enough to warrant regarding them as unjust laws. My own view is that the laws are bad laws but that by leaving them on the books and not enforcing them, we encourage a disrespect for the law. As such, I favor changing the laws so that they are just laws that are right to enforce.

One way to look at the matter is to consider the history of the United States: European immigrants simply showed up on the shores and started expanding into already inhabited lands. Almost any argument advanced in defense of European immigration into the New World could be dusted off and refurbished into arguments justifying the new illegal immigrants. Of course, the new illegal immigrants have a stronger moral case: they mostly coming here just to work rather than to kill the current inhabitants and take their land.

There is also the practical argument regarding law enforcement. As others have noted, the police have limited resources and it makes more sense to use those on serious crimes rather than on people who are merely here illegally and otherwise law-abiding. The moral aspect of this argument is that focusing on the more serious crimes will create more benefits than using resources to go after illegal immigrants.

My own view is that the current laws and practices regarding illegal immigration are morally unacceptable. The obvious solution involves changing the laws to match the ethics and reality of the situation and for politicians to stop making excuses and, worse, to stop exploiting the matter for short term political advantages at the expense of both the illegals and the local communities.

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Sanctuary & Religious Liberty

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on February 17, 2017
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As the Trump administration steps up the enforcement of immigration law, some illegal immigrants have engaged in the time-honored tradition of seeking sanctuary in churches. The idea of churches serving as sanctuary from the state was developed in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and has become embedded in western culture. As would be expected, the granting of sanctuary has created considerable controversy.

Being familiar with the history of oppressive states and injustice, I generally support the idea of sanctuary in its role of providing the individual with another defense against the potential tyranny of the state. Because of this view, I hold that sanctuary should be limited to those who need protection from injustice on the part of the state rather than endorsing blanket sanctuary for anyone for any reason. Judging who is thus worthy of sanctuary (as with any moral assessment) can be rather complicated, but the basic principle is clear enough. Since I regard current immigration policies and practices to be fundamentally unjust, I believe that illegal immigrants who have committed no other crimes are worthy of sanctuary. Since they typically lack the resources to defend themselves, church sanctuary can provide them with the protection they need to make their case and seek justice. Even if sanctuary proves ineffective for a particular immigrant, the granting of sanctuary can make a powerful moral and political statement that can influence immigration policy—hopefully for the better.

As a practical matter, the effectiveness of sanctuary depends on the reluctance of the state to use compulsion to take people from churches. This reluctance might be grounded in many things, ranging from the power of the institution to the negative public reaction that might result from violating sanctuary.

While the notion of sanctuary does enjoy the support of tradition, the easy and obvious counter is to argue that churches should not enjoy a special exemption from the enforcement of the laws. It should not matter whether illegal immigrants are seeking shelter in a church, a Starbucks, an apple grove, or a private home—law enforcement officials should be able to arrest and remove them because they are, by definition, criminals. This view is grounded on the idea that all institutions, religious or not, fall under the laws of the state and are not to be granted special exemptions from the law. But, if exemptions from laws were granted to religious institutions in other areas, then this could be used to justify an exemption for sanctuary.

In the United States religious institutions do, in fact, enjoy special exemptions from taxes and some laws. For example, the Catholic Church is not subject to certain anti-discrimination lawsuits despite restricting certain jobs to men. As another example, there is also an exemption for religious employers in regards to coverage of contraceptive services. There has also been a push for new religious liberty laws that are aimed mainly at allowing people to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. Such laws grant exemptions based on religion and the arguments used to defend them could, in many cases, be pressed into service as arguments in favor of granting sanctuary to illegal immigrants. For example, if it is argued that exceptions to anti-discrimination laws should be granted to churches and businesses because of religious beliefs about gender and sex, then it would be challenging to argue that an exception to immigration laws should not be granted to churches because of religious beliefs.

The obvious challenge in using the religious liberty and exemption arguments to justify sanctuary is showing that the situations are adequately analogous. This seems easy enough to do. Christians who oppose same-sex marriage cite Leviticus, but Exodus 22:21 is quite clear about how strangers should be treated: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Scholars also point to Matthew 25, especially Matthew 25:40 when justifying granting sanctuary to immigrants: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” As such, granting churches a sanctuary exemption to immigration laws seems at least as well founded as other attempts to grant religious liberty.

One way to counter this line of argumentation is to argue that there should not be religious exemptions to laws. While this would argue against a religious exemption to immigration laws, it would also apply to all other exemptions and is thus not an option for those who support those other exemptions. Since many of those who are anti-immigrant do favor religious exemptions in general, this option is not open to them.

Another way to counter this line of reasoning is to contend that while religious exemptions should be allowed in other cases, it should not be allowed for granting sanctuary to illegal immigrants. One approach would be a utilitarian argument: the harm done by allowing sanctuary would be sufficient to warrant imposing on religious liberty. Since I have used this argument myself against “religious liberty” laws that make discrimination legal, I certainly must give such an argument due consideration here. As such, if it can be shown that granting illegal immigrants sanctuary would create more harm than would violating the religious liberty of the sanctuary churches (and the harms done to the illegal immigrants) then religious liberty should be violated. But, this approach would need to be applied in a consistent manner: those who argue against sanctuary on the grounds of harms must apply the same principle to all religious liberties.

My overall view of the matter is that since Congress and the President have failed to create a just and rational immigration policy, then citizens have the moral right to offer protection to illegal immigrants (who have not committed other crimes). This must be done until our elected officials do their jobs and create a rational, realistic and ethical system. To be fair, due respect must be offered to those who believe in America first and who do not believe that God was serious when He said “This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.”

 

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Re-Licensed to Drive

Posted in Law by Michael LaBossiere on September 12, 2011
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No, I did not get my license revoked and then restored. As my friends will attest, on the rare occasions I do drive, I am rather cautious. Instead, I recently renewed my license.

Back in the day, you renewed your license by going to the DMV (or tax collector). After getting a number, you’d wait and then hand over your old license. You’d get a new photo taken, pay the fee and they would hand you your new license. Done and done. But, as everyone knows, people had a tendency to forge driver’s licenses. This was often done by teens eager to get their drink on, but it was also used for more nefarious purposes. Then came the rising tide of concern about illegal immigrants and, of course, the horror of 9/11. Fear and politics then motivated the creation of a new system that was recently put into effect.

Under the new system, getting your driver’s license renewed is much more involved or far less so.  In Florida you can renew by mail or online every other renewal. Since I renewed my license online last time, I had to go in person to get my new license.  I did, however, wisely make an appointment online-so while the less wise sat waiting for their number to come up, I was able to walk right up to the “appointments only” window.

Under the new requirements, I needed to provide proof of citizenship (I had my passport-which I got mainly because of all the new obsession with identification, papers and cards), proof of my social security number (I used my W-2), and two pieces of evidence showing my address (I used a 1099 form and my voter card).  After my documents were copied (and presumably checked), I got my photo taken, was questioned at length,  paid and got my new license. Given all the documents I had to provide, I was hoping for a smart card on par with my university ID, but it was just the same old lame license that looked like it could duplicated by a competent criminal.  On the plus side, the new renewal period is eight years, so I won’t have to go back in person for another 16 years (assuming the Tea Party does not eliminate the government).

Naturally, I did have some concerns about this new process. The first is that I am unsure how effective it will be. After all, forging the needed documents or otherwise using criminal means to get through the process seems like it would be well within the capabilities of the sort of folks who this process is supposed to thwart. That is, of course, the problem with using documents as proof to get other documents: if my current license cannot be trusted, then why should my other documents be trustworthy? After all, if someone can pull off a fake license, why could they not fake the other stuff? Of course, no security is perfect and perhaps this method does stop enough criminal misuse to make the effort worthwhile.

The second is I am not entirely keen on having so much personal information and documentation stored at the DMV. While I do not have special doubts about the folks who work there (I know plenty of state and city workers), the DMV seems to have the legal right to distribute quite a bit of information to various folks. With the new requirements, the DMV will now have quite a bit more on file. This also makes the DMV a more appealing target for criminal intrusion. I am not, however, exceptionally worried about this. I would, however, not be shocked or amazed if a story came out about someone getting into the system and stealing all sorts of personal information (including copies of people’s documentation). While requiring people to provide much more information is supposed to make the process more secure, it also puts people more at risk by concentrating that information. But, if you want to drive legally, you have to obey the state (or get the rules changed).

Amazingly, my photo wasn’t bad.

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Birthright Citizenship

Posted in Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 10, 2011
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Most states in the United States are considering bills intended to limit birthright citizenship. Arizona is, not surprisingly, leading the way.

Supporters of such bills contend that illegal immigrants are having children here and these children become citizens. This then, it is claimed, creates a burden on the taxpayers as they have to pay for the services used by the illegal parents and their citizen children.

While this has a certain appeal, such proposed laws seem to be in clear violation of the constitution, specifically the 14th amendment. The relevant part of the 14th amendment  reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

This seems to be a clear cut matter with no room for meaningful debate. As such, many legal experts believe that any bills of this sort that get passed into law will be struck down as unconstitutional. That would seem to leave the birthright folks with one main recourse-changing the constitution via a repeal or another amendment to negate that part of the 14th amendment.

Then  again, it might be possible to pass laws that effectively nullify the 14th amendment for illegal immigrants while also being deemed constitution. To see that this is possible, consider the second amendment.

The second amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

On the face of it, this seems to clearly state that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This would certainly seem to entail that individual citizens have the right to posses (own) arms and that this shall not be infringed. However, there are numerous laws that infringe the right to keep and bear arms. These are justified in various ways, such as noting the alleged ambiguity as to whether the right is an individual right or a collective right. However, what it is important is that the right certainly seems to have been infringed or at least interpreted in a way that the infringements are not legally regarded as actually being infringements.

Presumably the 14th amendment could be infringed upon via similar methods. For example, it does seem that the wording does allow for  some interpretation that would make certain laws constitutionally viable.

First, consider the phrase  “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” It could be argued that someone who is within a state illegally is not thus subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, except insofar as being subject to the laws that specify that the person is present illegally and thus has no right to be within the jurisdiction of the United States. On these ground, the person would not be subject to the laws in the sense of being a subject of said laws. Rather, the person would be in violation of the laws. As such, children born to illegal immigrants would not fall under the 14th amendment and would thus not become citizens by this method.

Second, consider the phrase “are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Residing within a state can be taken as being a resident of a state. As Rahm Emanuel recently found out, what counts as being a resident can be a matter of some contention. However, at a minimum being a resident of state would at least require that the person has a legal right to be present in the state. Beyond that, of course, are various other requirements that vary from state to state. As such, to be a citizen of the state wherein they reside would require that a person be a legal resident (as defined by the state). This would certainly seem to open the door to states defining resident status in a way that easily excludes illegal immigrants and their children from being residents.

While these seem to be but word games, that is a legitimate game in the realm of law (not to mention philosophy). However, I do not expect any of the laws to pass constitutional muster nor to stand up to the inevitable challenges.

 

 

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The Kobach Approach

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 5, 2011
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Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, is a devoted foe of illegal immigration. While he has generated considerable acrimony among certain groups his approach seems to be worthy of consideration.

Rather than focusing on something like building a wall, Kobach has taken a strategic approach to the problem by addressing the factors that motivate illegal immigration. To be specific, his intent seems to be to use legal means to deny illegal immigrants access to schools, jobs, housing and citizenship for their children who are born here.

One one hand, the approach seems to both effective and reasonable. In terms of  the effectiveness, if illegal immigrants are denied access to what has drawn them to America, then they will no longer have reasons to come here or remain here.  This would, of course, decrease the number of people attempting to enter and remain in the United States illegally.

In terms of the reasonableness, given that illegal immigrants are in the country illegally, it would certainly seem reasonable to conclude that they are not entitled to the goods and services that are provided by the tax payers. To use an analogy, someone who breaks into my house is clearly not entitled to be there nor is he entitled to avail himself to my food, shower and TV.

It might be replied that someone who needs shelter and food has the right to break into my house and take my property. Likewise, people who need education, jobs, and so on have the right to enter America illegally and help themselves to what they need.

While it can be argued that those in extreme duress have the right to take what they need, this usually requires that they are being unjustly denied what they truly need and that there is not a viable alternative. In the case of illegal immigration, a case can probably be made in many cases for duress. It could even be argued that the duress could have been caused, in part, by past actions of the United States. Going back to the house analogy, if my actions put someone into duress, perhaps they would be justified in breaking into my house to secure food and shelter.

However, it can also be argued that the illegal immigrants are not under enough duress to justify their illegal activities. It could also be argued that the illegal immigrants do have viable alternatives, such as getting what they need in their own country. They could, it might be argued, spend their time making their own countries better rather than going to the United States to avail themselves of better opportunities.  Less harshly, it could be pointed out that the United States has legal channels of immigration as well as legal means by which people can acquire education and jobs in America. After all, America’s schools have significant numbers of students from other countries who are here legally and there are many people who work here quite legally.

True, the legal channels could be improved and streamlined. However, they do exist and do not seem to be onerous beyond reason. As such, it seems reasonable to expect people to use these channels. To use an analogy, if someone can acquire food and shelter via legal means and without breaking into my house, then they would seem to have little right to claim access to my house.

That said, there are some legitimate concerns about Kobach’s approach. Obviously enough we do not want to act unjustly or open opportunities for serious misuses of the legal apparatus.  As such, Kobach’s crusade should be properly assessed lest he be allowed to err on the side of injustice.  Also of considerable concern are what others are doing and might do with the tools provided by Kobach.

 

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9/11

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 7, 2010
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For the past decade, 9/11 has been invoked time and time again by the Republicans whenever they wished to start a war, restrict liberty, expand interrogation techniques or silence critics. As such, you would think that they would have voted in favor of a bill intended to provide treatment and compensation to those harmed by that attack.

However, the bill was defeated with 256 (12 Republicans) votes for it and 159 (155 Republicans) against. That is not a typo: the vote was 256 to 159. The reason it did not pass was because the Democrats had decided to use a procedure that required much more than a simple majority. More on this later.

One reason for the Republican opposition was the view that the $7.4 program would be an “entitlement program.”

While it seems likely that some of the money will be misused (after all, 95% of the money sent to rebuild Iraq is unaccounted for), providing medical support and compensation for those harmed in the 9/11 attack does not seem to be mere entitlement. After all, these people are victims of an enemy attack. If we are willing to dump billions into the war on terror to protect Americans from harm, it seems inconsistent to be unwilling to spend money to protect Americans who were harmed by this attack. Of course, the Republican view seems to often be that we can only protect Americans by going to war, granting lucrative contracts to private contractors, setting up secret prisons and so on. Providing health care or support t0 those who have been directly impacted by terror seems to be out of the question.

However, the Republicans do not bear all the blame for what occurred. As noted above, the Democrats decided to not go with a simple majority vote (which would have resulted in the bill passing). Apparently, the Democrats were worried that the Republicans would tag on amendments that would “embarrass” the Democrats in the upcoming elections. For example, it has been claimed that they intended to amend the bill so that illegal immigrants injured in 9/11 would not be eligible for the benefits provided by the bill.

Of course, this raises a question about blame. The Republicans can claim that the Democrats were responsible because they decided to go with the alternative procedure out of selfishness. If the Democrats had only loved America enough to go with a majority vote, then the bill would have passed. Of course, the Democrats can point out that the Republicans seemed to be intent on using the bill for their own selfish purposes-that is, so they could tag on amendments that would hurt the Democrats.

The end result is that both parties come across as rather bad. After all, both of them are playing political games with the victims of 9/11, which seems to be a rather awful thing to do.

Unfortunately, these people have the system almost completely locked up: come election day we mainly just have a choice between scoundrels.

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Immigration, Drugs, & Jobs

Posted in Business, Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 8, 2010
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While the oil leak is grabbing the headlines, the matter of illegal immigration is still an important one. One major concern that people have about illegal immigration is that they associate it with crime (most often drug related) and also with economic woes (immigrants taking American jobs or at least depressing wages).

These concerns are legitimate. After all, drug violence has been on the rise in Mexico and seems to be spilling over into the United States. The impact of illegal immigration on economics also seems to make sense: if there are people who will work for less, then they would tend to get the jobs in question.

While people have generally been pointing fingers at lawmakers for the problems with immigration, the drug and economic problems are largely the responsibility of Americans. To be specific, Americans who purchase Mexican drugs and Americans who hire illegal immigrants are major causal factors in these problems.  If Americans did not buy drugs or hire illegals, then these problems would be significantly reduced. Without the vast market in America, there would be less income for drug dealers and hence less incentive for people to go into that field. If Americans did not hire illegals, then illegals would have little incentive to cross the border illegally.

Of course, it seems unlikely that Americans will stop consuming Mexican drugs or hiring illegal workers. New laws probably will not help much. After all, it is already illegal to buy drugs and it is illegal to hire illegal immigrants. We already have rather harsh drug laws and these seem to not be working very well. However, perhaps harsher laws regarding the hiring of illegals would have more of an impact.

If harsher laws would not do much, then perhaps a different approach would be more effective. To be specific, the United States could legalize marijuana and perhaps other drugs as well. We have a clear historical precedent in regards to what happens when an illegal intoxicant is made legal. As such, this would hardly be a journey into new territory-we have a reasonably good idea of what would happen (although we could be surprised). American companies could then buy Mexican grown marijuana and sell it legally. This would, interestingly enough, provide jobs for Mexicans and also significantly reduce drug crimes.  This would, to change the old saying, stone two birds with one joint.

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Immigration

Posted in Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 16, 2010
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CNN recently posted a story about a college student named Colotl who was arrested and almost deported. The gist of the situation was that she was stopped for a traffic violation and could not provide a valid license. Instead, she provided an out of date Mexican passport. In short, she seems to have been in the country illegally. While she is being presented as a victim, she did violate the law. In addition to being here illegally, she was also operating a motor vehicle without a license, which is also a crime.

I am, however, sympathetic to her plight. After all, she is in the United States trying to better herself and her prospects through higher education. Historically, we can trace back many of Mexico’s problems to the United States. This is a laudable goal. However, there are procedures for foreign students to become legitimate, legal students here in the United States. I know-I went to college and grad school with many people from outside the United States. I also have had many foreign students in my classes-students who were here legally.

However, I do see her and even the police as victims of the current system. As pundits and politicians point out, our current system of handling illegal immigrants is in serious need of reform-both in terms of the laws and the implementation. Those who are here illegally would often much prefer to be here legally and legitimately. The police would probably prefer to avoid being caught up in a political and social mess. Unfortunately, our elected officials seem to lack the courage or ability to engage this problem in a rational and effective manner. This has led certain states, such as Arizona, to pass its own laws. However, this sort of hodge-podge approach is not effective and serves mainly to create political divisiveness and hot tempers. That is, they are not helping the situation-except, perhaps to draw attention to the lack of effective action at a national level.

Setting out the goals is a relatively easy matter. One objective is to deter people from coming here illegally and to deal justly and effectively with people who elect to do so. Currently, we do not do as well as we should. A second objective is to ensure that in the pursuit of the first objective we do not violate people’s rights or encourage racism. Another objective is to redesign the system and its operation so as to make it more efficient and effective for people to go through the legal process of residing, working and going to school here. Such people contribute a great deal to the United States and many end up deciding to stay and become citizens. A look at the history of our country shows that we have benefited greatly from this influx of people from other places and this is something that gives us great strength.  To use one extreme example, we benefited immensely from scientists and intellectuals fleeing from Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Bloc. As such, we should be glad that people really want to come here and we should encourage this. But, it is also important to acknowledge that there are people we should keep out. After all, we have no shortage of our own real criminals, terrorists, and other miscreants  and there is no good reason to allow more into our country. Thus, the ultimate goal is to build a system that encourages and allows people who will contribute to be here legally, while ensuring that those who would bring harm remain outside.

Of course, setting such goals is easy. To use an analogy, it is like a marathon: it is easy to know that you need to cross the finish line. The hard part is making that a reality. Doing this will be like training for a marathon-it will take will and a capability to endure some pain.

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Arizona’s Immigration Law

Posted in Ethics, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on April 23, 2010
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Now that the health care issue has faded a bit, folks need a new focus for their righteous outrage. The matter of immigration seems set to take center stage once more.

Arizona currently is considering some of the toughest immigration laws in the country. The gist of the law is that immigrants “must carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally.” The bill also has provisions for people who hire illegal immigrants or provide them with transportation.

On one hand, the laws can be seen as quite reasonable. After all, being in the country illegally is (by definition) against the law. The police are tasked with enforcing laws and hence it makes sense that they should be directed to ensure that people are not breaking the law.

The aspect of the law that deal with people hiring illegal immigrants or transport them also seem sensible. After all, illegal immigrants are not here legally and hence businesses should not be hiring them to work. This, one might argue, would be on par with hiring known criminals and failing to report them to the police. The same would apply to people who transport illegal immigrants. If I knowingly give a criminal a ride and fail to report it, then I would seem to be aiding the person in his/her crime.

On the other hand, there are some serious concerns about the law.

One minor one is that the idea that people need to carry around identity papers at all times has sort of a totalitarian feel to it.

A much more serious concern is the requirement to question people who are suspected of being here illegally. The obvious concern is determining what would count as legitimate grounds for suspicion and what would not. Obviously enough, if an officer sees someone running across the border, then that would be reasonable grounds to ask questions. There are also other cases that would justify such questions as well, such as when the police raid an employer known for hiring illegals. However, there is a serious concern that the law will lead to American Hispanics being harassed and profiled. After all, some folks regard being Hispanic or not speaking English as grounds for being suspicious of a person being an illegal immigrant. I suspect that if I went to Arizona, I would never be asked to provide proof that I am here legally. However, I suspect that the same cannot be said for Americans with darker skin.

A practical concern is that, ironically enough, illegal immigrants apparently make significant contributions to Arizona’s economy. By driving out illegals and failing to handle the situation in a more reasonable manner through immigration reform Arizona might turn out to be hurting itself.

This is not to say that the state should simply do what many other states do and mainly just ignore the problem. Rather, what is needed is for the states and the federal government to seriously address the matter of illegal immigration and work out a solution that is both just and practical.

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Republicans Should Back Obama’s Corporate Crackdown

Posted in Business, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 4, 2009

In a move that already has multinationals mobilizing their lobbyists, Obama announced his intention to close tax loopholes  and tax havens for American based multinational corporations. In support of his proposal, Obama claims that his plan would generate $210 billion in revenue and also create American jobs. Those who oppose the plan claim that it will hurt American companies and will reduce employment.

On one hand, the proposal would seem to be able to achieve its goals. After all, if companies can no longer get out of paying taxes, then tax revenue would increase. Also, if corporations did not gain an advantage from moving jobs overseas, then they would be less inclined to do so.

On the other hand, there are reasons to think the plan might have the opposite result. In general, corporate folks seem to be more concerned with profit than with contributing their fair share to the general good. As such, some of them might decide to move their operations completely overseas in order to take advantage of the tax breaks and low wages available outside the United States. This would, of course, result in a loss of tax revenue and jobs.

Of course, a citizen who insisted on special tax breaks and threatened to leave America for another country if he did not get them would be regarded as being rather unpatriotic and trying to threaten or blackmail the government. Naturally, such a person would not be well regarded.

Another reason that the proposal might have an impact the opposite of what Obama intends is that the companies affected by it might lose ground relative to foreign competitors and this would impact their revenue and the jobs they have available.

Of course, this does raise the question of whether this loss would be greater than the loss in revenue and jobs of the current situation.

While the Republicans will no doubt be very much against this plan, their professed views should drive them to embrace it.

First, Republicans  have often made a big deal about how illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs. If they are concerned that foreign nationals are taking American jobs, then they have a chance to do something to prevent it by supporting this plan. After all, if it is bad for a Mexican to sneak across the border and grab a job in the US, then it should be equally bad for a corporation to sneak a job across the border for a non-American to fill.

Second, Republicans have often railed against government involvement in business and cry out for the free market. The loopholes and such provided by the government are clear cases of government involvement and they also go against the free market. As such, the Republicans should insist that the state not meddle in the free market by giving such benefits to the corporations.

Third, the Republicans are often big on talking about patriotism, loyalty to America and serving the country. By supporting this plan they can show that they love America by helping to ensure that the American corporations show their patriotism and loyalty by paying their taxes and serving the country. Anything less would be unAmerican and would probably be soft on terror. Well, not really-but the Republicans still love to talk about terrorism.

Fourth, since the time of Reagan Republicans have expressed their loathing of those who sponge off the government. This proposal gives them a chance to act on that principle and get those corporate welfare queens off the dole.

So, this proposal perfectly matches many of the principles professed by Republicans. As such, they should support it.

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