As much as I wish it was not the only thing on my mind, the Arizona law is making me wonder if this hype is a whole lot of nothing. Obviously I think the potential problems are quite far reaching… but the more I think about it the harder of a time I have accepting racial aspect of it. To provide a petty example, my dad owned candy stores when I was growing up. One of them was by the World Trade Center. Several days after the terrorist attacks in 2001, my dad went down to check on his store- he did not even question bringing every possible form of identification with him. There were blockades but residents and business owners were allowed entry after a certain amount of time to their residence or place of business. When my dad showed the police officers his id, the officer said, “woahhh, that doesn’t look good” My dad laughed about it and said that he was too old to be a terrorist. He could laugh about it because he had all the necessary paperwork and had been, for a long time, a loyal American citizen.

That’s not to say that everyone who is here now would not like to become a citizen, it is just that now it is more difficult than ever to become one. The immigration system is a mess. It is so backed up and disorganized, I can’t understand why anyone would even want to come here. The administrative hassle and backlog seem insurmountable. Honestly, if you want to get out of where you are, for your own sake, just move to Canada.

Any additional burdens placed on the overburdened immigration system will be tremendously problematic. Any law that puts and extra burden on the immigration system should not be enacted until the immigration system is fixed.

IT’s way too easy to point the finger at the Department of Homeland security- What highly controversial security related function is not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security? If we look at it, terrorism, immigration, emergency relief (FEMA) are all under the Department of Homeland Security. And the department is pretty young (was not created until 2001). I don’t know if this sounds crazy to anyone else, but for all intents and purposes it feels like Janet Napolitano might as well be the US’ whipping boy. Maybe anyone that takes that job is just a fool… In New York, DHS is taking the blame for cuts in our federal security funding. FEMA- not exactly the image of competence is under the guidance of DHS.

Within immigration alone, DHS handles border security, immigration enforcement, applications for asylum, applications for work visas, traveler entry forms and the US coastguard.

white boys in trenchcoats

Blah Blah Blah immigration…

A.G. Eric Holder had to answer a multitude of questions from the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday regarding racial profiling in the new Arizona immigration bill. Although Holder did specify that he had not read the bill yet and could not comment on it, he responded to questions regarding the broader issue of racial profiling, he reacted to the inefficiencies inherent in any policy that promotes racial profiling. Specifically, regarding terrorism, Holder noted that Al Qaeda is aware of what the US government is looking for from its terrorists. He articulated that Al Qaeda is already trying to pick people that the US wouldn’t expect.

AQ’s most recent choice, Faisal Shahzad, was a naturalized citizen. Surely it would not seem appropriate for a naturalized citizen to try to attack the US. However, on the point of racial profiling, Shahzad was no John Doe USA. He was not a suicide bomber, but he is Pakistani. He is Muslim. New York 1 interviewed a former member of Giuliani’s investigative team in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 who commented that this instance of terrorism was most likely caused by a domestic terrorist. Had it been and extremist terrorist he would not have run away and likely would have “martyred himself”
Shahzad did not match the profile of a foreign terrorist because he didn’t kill himself. Even though he is a legal citizen, did he look different than a Pakistani individual in the country illegally? Racial profiling is not something I think is good, and I do think it is a tremendous danger. Holder, however, should have been a bit more careful with this example. In a way he suggested that racial profiling would not have made this case particularly worse.

construction, immigration and getting high

There is a new building going up approximately ten feet from my bedroom window. I’ve dealt with similar construction “issues” at my last two residences, but nothing like this. It is so close, the construction workers and I are actually well acquainted. Every morning I wave my fist at them yelling anything, “go to hell!”, “I will kill all of you”,”I hate you so much”, or “can you please just stop for five minutes”. My responses are juvenile, and ignorant- I know. It’s just like when my mother used to wake me in high school.

I called 311 twice. The second time I called, the 311 operator heard the construction over the phone and told me there was a decibel limit for residential construction. They may be breaking the rules!! heaven!
Less than a week later- impressive!- the EPA inspector went to check out the construction site. Unfortunately,and probably because of the construction, the 311 operator had written down the wrong address. The inspector told me I had to re-submit my complaint.
I just did not have the energy to explain the situation again.

Instead, what I have done is try to take advantage of the one element over which I have control: I can wake up earlier than the construction starts and leave the house before the noises ruin my day (7am). It may not be ideal, but it is a real solution to the problem, and it is totally under my control. No administrative hassle necessary.

Quoting Congressman Steve Cohen, from Tennessee, I had to “get to a ‘higher place,’ if you will”

Cohen was talking about immigration. The House judiciary oversight committee was questioning Attorney General Eric Holder about, among other things, the justice department’s interpretation of Arizona’s new immigration law. Cohen approached the issue from a different perspective. He noted that there may be other ways to solve Arizona’s problems.

A lot of the criminal activity comes from Mexican drug cartels supplying marijuana to the desirous American population. Maybe, by decriminalizing marijuana, we could prevent a lot of the violence that the Mexican drug lords are bringing into Arizona. I am 150% in favor of legalizing marijuana; but I am even more in favor of people solving problems using means already in their control, rather than undertaking institutional hassles- especially when it is petty partisan politicians in charge of both. Even though 311 was responsive to my call, the chances that they will respond to my re-submitted complaint before the building is fully constructed is unlikely… and I’d love to stop cursing a bunch of hard working people first thing in the morning every morning.

Schwarzenegger, killer insects and conspiracy

Last weekend I saw the documentary “Gerrymandering” at the Tribeca film festival. It was interesting, boring as hell, too long and a little confusing. It reminded me of a paper I could have written; the filmmaker brought up too many points without really explaining any of them thoroughly. The most clear point of the film was that gerrymandering is harmful to the democratic process because incumbent politicians draw the district lines to which they are elected. Some politicians finagle district lines by as little as one block in order to exclude a challenger from voting for himself.

The documentary addressed the issue of why redistricting is necessary (e.g. why aren’t districts just defined graphically according to population density). To this point, the documentary drew discussed racial gerrymandering, “The drawing of districts to create opportunity for minority voters to elect a candidate of their choice” which is based on census data – and actually should not be called gerrymandering according to the definition on the movie’s homepage. It is important, alleged the film, that neighborhoods dominated by a particular race (not ethnicity) are represented accordingly by their state legislators. The documentary illustrates the point as such:

Congress and the courts have placed certain requirements on the redistricting process:

1. Each district must be equal in population
2. There must be an equal opportunity for minorities to elect the candidate of their choice

So, every ten years, each state is forced to redraw district lines to account for both adjustments in the size of their overall congressional delegation, and variance in the populations of their already-drawn districts.

Maybe this is why the odd check-box choices on census under the race question are what they are… But I’m not sure that it makes them any better. I wholeheartedly agree that minorities should have a voice in choosing their legislators- but wouldn’t socioeconomic concerns be more important? Socioeconomic distinctions are generally more indicative of shared experience. Something about this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it is the fact that a legislature defined by race seems undemocratic- I think that everyone should be fairly represented, but for the most part I don’t see how the dictates of the census race question can accurately account for racial distinctions that are relevant to this effect. If neighborhoods are defined by a particular ethnic group, wouldn’t this be unnecessary? If neighborhoods are not defined by race, isn’t that a good thing? and wouldn’t it be regressive to evaluate racial information in drawing the lines? Especially if it would require crossing socioeconomic groups who are likely to have the most shared needs from their legislators. I think I just have trouble wrapping my head around these sorts of definitions, based the negative track record of anything that seeks to define people based on racial and ethnic identity.