Some Economics

With the US and World economy not yet recovered, what can the Government do to prevent a double-dip recession? First, the Government should not pull back, they should not raise taxes, and they should not cut spending. Those things can be accomplished, and should be accomplished, when the economy is thriving and the unemployment rate is under or around 7%. Although our Government’s deficit is an issue; it is an issue that can be handled in a year or two. If our Government were to react to our deficit woes now, our economy will surely turn into a Japanese-style deflationary trap– low growth, high unemployment. The Government is the only one with the ability to spur demand.

So what should the Government do? Spend, spend, and spend. Paul Krugman explains why:

But if we need to raise taxes and cut spending eventually, shouldn’t we start now? No, we shouldn’t.

Penny-pinching at a time like this isn’t just cruel; it endangers the nation’s future. And it doesn’t even do much to reduce our future debt burden, because stinting on spending now threatens the economic recovery, and with it the hope for rising revenues

Right now, we have a severely depressed economy — and that depressed economy is inflicting long-run damage. Every year that goes by with extremely high unemployment increases the chance that many of the long-term unemployed will never come back to the work force, and become a permanent underclass. Every year that there are five times as many people seeking work as there are job openings means that hundreds of thousands of Americans graduating from school are denied the chance to get started on their working lives. And with each passing month we drift closer to a Japanese-style deflationary trap.

Following Krugman’s advice, Mark Zandi (chief economist of Moody’s Analytics), writes:

State and local officials are pleading for financial help, and Congress should respond quickly and positively.

Without more aid, states and cities will have no choice but to raise taxes and slash jobs and services, which could cut short the still-fragile economic recovery and trigger renewed recession. Governments would have no effective way of responding at that point, making the downturn long and painful.

State and local governments are struggling with epic shortfalls. The states’ aggregate deficit for fiscal 2011, which begins shortly for most of them, is close to $100 billion. Fiscal difficulties in California, Illinois, and New York are getting the most attention, but similar problems plague states and municipalities from coast to coast.

Even if Congress fails to come to the states’ rescue, the economy probably will not fall back into recession, but the odds of a “double-dip” downturn are nevertheless too high. Until the economy is off and running, federal policymakers shouldn’t risk stopping it by failing to help state and local governments get through the next fiscal year.

There are reasonable concerns that providing that help will add to Washington’s own fiscal problems. Those must be addressed before global investors begin to balk at buying U.S. debt, as they are now doing in the case of some European countries. Indeed, it would be ideal if Congress funded additional aid to the states by reducing other spending or raising taxes, rather than through more borrowing.

But concerns about the federal budget should be addressed when the economy is in full swing. A larger federal deficit this year is not an economic problem, provided we make up for it with greater discipline in subsequent years.

Paying as we go should not be a precondition for additional aid to the states now. Shoring up state budgets will help ensure that economic growth continues and ultimately gains traction – which is a precondition for addressing our long-term fiscal challenges.

Congress must enact another stimulus package, and they must enact it now, with majority of the money going to the states–allowing them to use the money as needed, since they know what their state needs.

Published in: on June 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

The Real News From Afghanistan

via Harper’s Magazine:

No, it’s not about Stanley McChrystal. From AP:
June has become the deadliest month of the Afghan war for the NATO-led international military force.

An Associated Press count based on announcements by the alliance and national commands shows 76 international service members have died this month. The total includes 46 Americans.

The previous deadliest month for the multinational force was July 2009, when 75 troops were killed.

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal–The Runaway General

As you have probably heard–Gen. McChrystal has resigned and will be replaced by Gen. Petraeus. It is more of a shock how Gen. McChrystal came to resign and not that Gen. Petraeus is being named the replacement. As Obama said, ” this is a change in personnel not strategy”. Nobody is questioning Obama’s replacement, since Gen. Petraeus is practically Gen. McChrystal’s evil twin: Gen. Petraeus implemented and led the COIN strategy in Iraq, which to some degree and to some people was a success. Relationships between NATO, US Ambassadors, and Afghan leaders will be strengthened, if anything, with Gen. Petraeus at the helm. And there will be no break in operations because of the change in leadership, since Gen. Petraeus over saw all operations in Afghanistan as well as approved all operations in Afghanistan. Gen. McChrystal resigning due to the Rolling Stone’s article is the talk of the town–as it should be. But there is something much more important–that NOBODY believes we can win this war. On page two, paragraph 6, Michael Hastings writes:

Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it’s going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. “It’s not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win,” says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. “This is going to end in an argument.”

This isn’t the only thing Michael Hastings wrote that was disparaging. It became obvious after reading the Rolling Stone’s article that the strategy in Afghanistan is flawed and that maybe, just maybe, there should be a change in policy. Thanks to the Rolling Stone’s article, the war in Afghanistan is back in the spotlight. Now it’s time for the media and the pundits to keep it there. Democrats and Republicans who supported the troop increase and Afghanistan surge, now is the time to reconsider.

The best option is to remove ourselves from the Middle East. The longer we are there and the more innocent civilians we kill–the more Muslims want to harm our innocent civilians, the more propaganda the Taliban have.

Has anyone ever wondered what questions Obama asked during his contemplation of troop increases? Well–Thomas Friedman has in his Op-Ed article titled, “What’s Second Prize?”.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s trashing of his civilian colleagues was unprofessional and may cost him his job. If so, it will be a sad end to a fine career. But no general is indispensable. What is indispensable is that when taking America surging deeper into war in Afghanistan, President Obama has to be able to answer the most simple questions at a gut level: Do our interests merit such an escalation and do I have the allies to achieve victory? President Obama never had good answers for these questions, but he went ahead anyway. The ugly truth is that no one in the Obama White House wanted this Afghan surge. The only reason they proceeded was because no one knew how to get out of it — or had the courage to pull the plug. That is not a sufficient reason to take the country deeper into war in the most inhospitable terrain in the world. You know you’re in trouble when you’re in a war in which the only party whose objectives are clear, whose rhetoric is consistent and whose will to fight never seems to diminish is your enemy: the Taliban.

President Obama is not an Afghan expert. Few people are. But that could have been his strength. The three questions he needed to ask about Afghanistan were almost childlike in their simplicity. Yet Obama either failed to ask them or went ahead, nevertheless, because he was afraid he would have been called a wimp by Republicans if he hadn’t.

What exactly do we hope to gain out of fighting wars in the Middle East?

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

It’s Not a Bailout — It’s a Funeral

The Baseline Scenario blog’s, guest writer Jennifer S. Taub has a great blog post distinguishing between a pre-funded Orderly Liquidation Fund and a post-funded Orderly Liquidation Fund– the latter being funded by us the tax payers. As with all major legislation the facts become twisted to convince, whoever is paying attention, that you are right and the other person is wrong. The facts are this–the Orderly Liquidation Fund is a way to systematically end a failed bank with out sending shock waves through the whole economic system. The Orderly Liquidation Fund is not a way to prop up a failed bank so it can continue to operate. And the Orderly Liquidation Fund can either be funded prior to the bank failing by the industry itself or it can be funded preceding the crisis (ah la–Bush bailout 2008, TARP) by the tax payers, who in return, will have to wait 5 plus years until they are paid back–if they ever are. Personally, I like the former not the latter. I am tired of a system privatizing profits and publicizing losses.

Published in: on June 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

It has been a while

Wondering why I haven’t blogged in a while? Most likely not, but I will tell you anyways. I was in California for a week!

This was my first trip to the West Coast. Our trip began in San José, California–where my uncle lives–and ended in Los Angeles, California– where my girlfriend’s aunt lives. We flew out of Philadelphia International Airport and into San José International Airport, with a connection flight into Houston, Texas–George Bush Intercontinental Airport–first store I saw when I walked off the plane… a  FOX News store, go figure. The flight out of Houston into San José was gorgeous–we flew over the Grand Canyon!

As you leave the San José Airport you see the “Hands” mural representing the diversity of San José, which is something the people of San José are very proud of–as they should be. This idea–diversity is good thing– was music to my ears. The concept of diversity, the bringing together of all people, and being accepting of all people is one of the aspects of California I love.

My uncle and his domestic partner took my girlfriend and I to a buffet in San José, which had food from all different parts of the world. And to continue the theme of diversity–each staff member was from a different part of the world, such as, the bar tender who was from Iran.

Our journey took us on a driving tour of San José–the safest city in the United States. If Californians want to know how their tax payer money is used , all they have to do is look at their city hall.

The San José City Hall although extravagant, seems unnecessary and over the top for a city hall–in my opinion. I don’t know about you, but if I had to drive by and see this building every day, I would definitely start to wonder what the priorities of my local government actually were.

Since my uncle is a professor of journalism and media at San José State University it was a priority to see the campus. San José State campus is amazing. The architecture of the buildings represents the influences of many cultures and centuries of architectural design.

Along with the architecture is the multicultural aspect of the campus–students and teachers from all walks of life.

San José State is historically routed as well, with a statute memorializing the civil rights movement.

If you don’t know what this picture is (on the right)representing, here is a little history.During the 1968 Olympic Games,Tommie Smith and John Carlos (both from the U.S.) won the gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter race. When they stood (barefoot) upon the victory platform, during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” they each raised one hand, covered by a black glove, in a Black Power salute (picture). Their gesture was meant to bring attention to the conditions of blacks in the United States

The second day of our trip brought us to San Francisco, which, compared to my hometown city of Philadelphia, is a complete 180. Our tour of San Francisco brought us to Alcatraz, Castro ( the gay community), and Wicked.

Since I work in the criminal justice field Alcatraz was very interesting to me. I have been in local and state correctional facilities but never had I been to a federal correctional facility.

Castro was very awesome. Although I know people who are gay, I have never been in a gay community. What is surprising though is that Castro has become a mixture of straight and gay, which shows the openness and acceptance of Californians. California seems to be a step ahead of other states, when is comes to social issues–I expected it to be that way. My hope is other states follow behind California’s lead, not economically, but socially.

Wicked continued the theme of acceptance, showed the power of government when there is no watchdog, and the power of propaganda. Sitting in the theater you understood the underlying theme. Galinda, the good witch, represents George W. Bush–ditzy,wants to do good, but always decides to do what the Wizard wants for personal gain. Elphaba, the “wicked” witch, who does good, but gets labeled “wicked” by the Wizard because she refuses to do his dirty deeds–unlike Galinda.

The third day of our trip took us to Napa Valley and Chandon Winery. Instead of flying to Los Angeles, my girlfriend and I decided to rent a car and drive down route 1–the coast. What was suppose to be a 4 hour drive took us 10 hours–I was just amazed by the scenic views.

Our travels in LA took us to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, Malibu, and a Dodgers game. LA was all the Ritz and glamour, but that was about all it had to offer. However, if I wanted to go to California for the beach, Southern California is where I would go–the beaches are amazing.

It was wonderful to see the West Coast. There is a lot I still have not seen, so at least I have an excuse to go back.

A lot has gone on in the world since I went on vacation.

BP executives said they “care about the small people”. I would just like to thank BP for thinking of the “small people” as they continue to watch oil gush out and Gulf resident’s livelihoods disappear. If they truly cared, they would have prepared for a disaster of this magnitude instead of worrying about their profits. I kind of feel bad (not really) that people are being so hard on BP, since the government was negligent as well. Think about it. How can the government scold BP when they waived BP’s requirements to have plans in place to prevent or diminish an environmental disaster 750 times from 2004 to 2007? Yes, I know Obama was not in office then–I am not blaming Obama personally–I am blaming government in general. The key is to GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS.

Obama also gave a speech on the disaster in the Gulf region. It was a speech scolding government’s failure to regulate, as well as an update, a plan for fighting the oil spill, and a call to action. The call to action was very broad with no details laid out to move forward with energy reform. It was a speech made for the TV pundits. What happen to the days of reporting the news so people know the facts? Some people like to hear what the pundits are saying. Personally I like to hear what happen, why it happen, and how is it going to be fixed. I want investigative/watchdog journalism.

Found out Afghanistan has $1 trillion worth of minerals under it, which will give the US even more reason to stay and fight a pointless war. Same thing can be said about Iraq which is full of oil reserves. But we are in the Middle East to fight the terrorist–right?

Still nothing done on financial regulation.

US Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit against Arizona’s immigration law.

My hometown Flyers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Published in: on June 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

It is not about regulation,it is about enforcement of regulations.

(Update below.)

Dick Polman writes:

The real problem is that the federal watchdogs became lapdogs for the oil industry. BP and its subcontractors were drilling in deep water a mere 40 miles from Louisiana without any “tools” in their “tool kit,” because the feds who were supposed to protect us from such capitalistic excess were basically in bed with the drillers. It might be helpful, in the future, if the watchdogs actually barked when provoked. It might be helpful if the president required such training.

During the Bush and Obama administrations, the Interior Department agency in charge of oversight has worn blinders. The oil drillers weren’t required to prove that they were taking steps to reduce their environmental impact; nor were they required to prove that they had the means to deal with an unforeseen catastrophe. Federal environmental law has long required such things, but the agency, known as the Minerals Management Service, routinely waived the rules. Between 2005 and 2007, the MMS waived those rules for Gulf of Mexico projects roughly 750 times – while decreeing, in three reviews of its own, that the prospects for a Gulf disaster, and the consequences for marine life, were downright minimal, despite repeated scientific warnings to the contrary.

In those years, the MMS regulators even allowed their oil-drilling friends to fill out the government inspection reports; they reportedly praised their own work in pencil, and the regulators traced over the words in ink. But that behavior wasn’t nearly as chummy as the evidence, gathered in 2008 by Interior’s inspector general, that some MMS regulators “had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

It’s not surprising, of course, that the oil industry ran rampant during the Bush era, given its cozy relations with Bush and Cheney. Obama, however, was elected in part because he promised a restoration of competent governance and a reinvigoration of the public interest. At least with respect to the oil-drilling issue, his promise has not been matched by performance.

Even now, the MMS is still wielding its rubber stamp; in the aftermath of the BP explosion, the agency has reportedly waived the environmental rules for eight new Gulf of Mexico projects, which means that the drillers were not required to spell out the risks and safety issues, or to detail what precautions they planned to take.

Nothing new there; BP got the same sweetheart deal on Obama’s watch 14 months ago. MMS exempted BP’s Gulf project from all those pesky requirements, essentially giving BP free rein to drill in deep water without any crisis tools in its tool kit – this, despite the fact that the Interior Department warned MMS six years ago that no such exemptions should be given to drillers who ply their trade in “relatively untested deep water.”

Obama finally did acknowledge, in a rare news conference 10 days ago, that he had not done nearly enough to eradicate the agency’s lapdog culture; as he put it, “There wasn’t sufficient urgency in terms of the pace of how those changes needed to take place.”

Well, there’s sufficient urgency now. He can’t control events in the Gulf, not unless he personally sends down Jack Bauer in a frogman suit. But he at least can make good on his new promise to clean house, to install a tough oversight regime that will halt the de facto privatization of our fragile national resources. Given the disaster we are now witnessing, few among us would argue that more deregulation is the answer. Indeed, on this issue, the new definition of a liberal is a conservative whose beach property is slathered in oil

As I was reading, “The American Debate: BP dug the hole, but Obama is taking the hit” written by Dick Polman, I found myself repeating something that I say ALL TOO OFTEN ,” it’s not that we don’t have regulations in place, it is that no one is enforcing the regulations”. When something tragic happens, majority of time, people jump the gun proclaiming more regulation, more regulation. What they really should be saying is, more ENFORCEMENT OF , more ENFORCEMENT OF REGULATION. After I read this article, I sat there literally laughing to myself. I am simply amazed at the utter failure of our countries regulators.

This article not only laid out what caused the catastrophe in the Gulf but what the route of all evil is in our country-money and power.

The money needs to be removed from politics.

Update:

Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com has a great blog post on the cozy relationship between regulators and BP. FYI, it is not just a Bush/Cheney issue, it has continued under Obama as well.

Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Let’s End American Dominance

Via Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast:

What America needs today is a jubilant undertaker, someone—like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan—who can bury the hubris of the past while convincing Americans that we are witnessing a wedding, not a funeral. The hubris of dominance, like the hubris of reason and the hubris of toughness before it, has crashed against reality’s shoals. Woodrow Wilson could not make politics between nations resemble politics between Americans. Lyndon Johnson could not halt every communist advance. And we cannot make ourselves master of every important region on earth. We have learned that there are prices we cannot pay and burdens we cannot bear, and our adversaries have learned it too. We must ruthlessly accommodate ourselves to a world that has shown, once again, that it is not putty in our hands.

[…]

[…]

[….]

How could our forefathers have been so cowardly and immoral? Stalin was a monster; so was Mao, and they both had nuclear weapons aimed at us. Why did we live with that sword of Damocles? Why did we accept their dominion over billions of souls? Once upon a time, the answer was obvious: Because we lacked the power not to. Franklin Roosevelt knew the American people would not sacrifice their sons by the thousands to keep Eastern Europe from Soviet hands. During Korea, Harry Truman blundered into war with Beijing, and realized that in Asia too, the price of denying America’s communist foes a sphere of influence was appallingly high. Even Ronald Reagan proved so reluctant to challenge Soviet control over Poland in the early eighties that conservative commentators accused him of betrayal. In different ways, all these presidents understood that in foreign policy, as in life, there are things you may fervently desire but cannot afford. And in foreign policy, the recognition that resources are limited, and precious, is even more important since you are not merely spending other people’s money; you are spilling other people’s blood.

If America continues to believe that we are the supreme power, that we need to be involved in all international disputes, and that the “American way” is the only way; America will have caused its own demise. We are slowly throwing away everything, we as Americans believe in. And for what?

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is The Army Forcing Out a Gitmo Whistleblower?

Via Motherjones.com:

For an Army officer, criticizing the military commissions at Guantanamo as a perversion of justice probably isn’t the best career move. That goes double if you also happen to be a former top military prosecutor at Gitmo. That’s why Lt. Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, a US army reservist with nearly 20 years of service under his belt, fears the worst when a military promotion board renders its decision in his case this week.

So what exactly is Lt. Colonel Vandeveld saying about the military commission that the military, specifically the Army, wants to hide?

[….]Vandeveld has reason to believe the board may attempt the latter—forcing into retirement the officer who, in a July 2009 congressional hearing [pdf], declared that “the military commission system is broken beyond repair.”

The road to that hearing room led through Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, finally, the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, where from May 2007 to September 2008 Vandeveld served as a military lawyer. In civilian life, Vandeveld was a senior prosecutor in the district attorney’s office in Erie County, Pennsylvania (he’s now the county’s chief public defender). He arrived at Gitmo a “true believer,” eager to do his part in the war on terror. At one point, according to Vandeveld, he was the lead prosecutor on one-third of the cases the Office of Military Commissions was preparing to take to trial—but all it took was one to throw his life and belief system into turmoil.

Vandeveld had been assigned to prosecute Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan detainee accused of lobbing a grenade through the window of a Jeep carrying two Special Forces soldiers and their interpreter near Kabul. When Jawad was taken into custody in December 2002, he was just a teenager—and he’d been in Gitmo for about five years before Vandeveld inherited the case. As Vandeveld recalled in congressional testimony last summer, “To me, the case appeared to be as simple as the street crimes I had prosecuted by the dozens in civilian life, and seemed likely to produce a quick, clean conviction, and an unmarred early victory for the prosecution, vindicating the concept of the Guantanamo Military Commissions.”

But Vandeveld soon learned that the case wasn’t straightforward at all. For one, he discovered that the evidence against Jawad and other clients was in utter disarray, “scattered throughout an incomprehensible labyrinth of databases” and “strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks vacated by prosecutors who had departed the Commissions for other assignments.” He also began to uncover information that gave him grave doubts not just about the Jawad case, but about the entire military commissions system. “Gathering the evidence against Mr. Jawad was like looking into Pandora’s box,” he testified. “I uncovered a confession obtained through torture, two suicide attempts by the accused, abusive interrogations, the withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense, judicial incompetence, and ugly attempts to cover up the failures of an irretrievably broken system.”

Lt. Lt. Colonel Vandeveld is the seventh Gitmo Prosecutor to resign over ethical qualms.

If military commissions are unjustifiably not working then why does the Obama administration continue to use them? Why not use the civilian court system that has tried and sentenced over a hundred terrorist? Why must we, a nation of laws, change our legal system? We are falling into the trap. The terrorist want us to change are ways. The terrorist want us to look like the hypocrites we are.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

New National Security Strategy Misses the Mark

The Obama administration announced their new national security strategy last week. Unfortunately, the strategy neglects to put forward any new ideas about how to protect civil liberties and human rights, writes Mandy Simon and Rachel Myers, of the ACLU.

I thought Obama vowed to abide by the law? I thought Obama was going to be the opposite of Bush? I guess, I, along with everyone else who voted for Obama, were wrong- at least when it comes to fighting terrorism. Instead of change, Obama has continued indefinite detention and military commissions, state secrets, and domestic surveillance and counterterrorism.

via ACLU blog:

Indefinite Detention and Military Commissions

The strategy document calls for the federal government to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial based simply on the government’s claim that someone is a “danger to the American people.” It also reiterates the administration’s plan to continue to use the discredited military commissions despite the fact that the commissions lack basic due process protections.

Including an indefinite detention scheme in our country’s National Security Strategy goes against the president’s promise to restore and respect the rule of law. Detaining individuals who were captured far from any battlefield indefinitely without charge or trial violates our commitment to the Constitution and due process. We’ll be working hard to change the administration’s mind on this and urging Congress to block any legislation that would authorize a permanent plan for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

State Secrets

The strategy states that, whenever possible, the administration makes “information available to the American people so that they can make informed decisions and hold their leaders accountable,” and that they “will never invoke the privilege to hide a violation of law or to avoid embarrassment to the government.” Yet the Obama administration continues to withhold from the public key documents relating to the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program and has invoked the “state secrets” privilege to avoid legal scrutiny of the Bush-era torture program, even when the information they are keeping a secret is already well-known to the public — keeping victims of torture from having their day in court and shielding Bush administration officials from civil liability. These policies are in direct opposition to the administration’s stated commitment to government transparency.

Domestic Surveillance and Counterterrorism

The administration makes a welcome and serious observation that it believes our country is not at war with the religion of Islam but with terrorists, but doesn’t address ongoing policies that lead to racial and religious profiling and actually seem to promote such policies.

For instance, the strategy points to fusion centers as an effective tool that allows federal, state and local law enforcement to share classified information about suspicious activity by individuals and groups. Unfortunately, this “suspicious activity reporting” is little more than an excuse for collecting innocuous information about “the usual suspects” — immigrants, people of color, and nonmainstream political or religious groups, as it includes behavior as benign as witnessing someone take a photograph or carry binoculars.  And although there is plenty of evidence that fusion centers are producing faulty intelligence, federal guidelines for fusion centers are voluntary and there is no enforcement mechanism or governance structure to rein in wayward centers. Scarily, both the military and private companies operate in fusion centers where they can access American citizens’ sensitive information with few guidelines and little oversight. Unfortunately, the National Security Strategy fails to recognize these problems.

Though the strategy states that the administration will conduct “vigorous oversight” of its national security efforts, there is no mechanism in place for making sure that oversight actually occurs. This is an area where Congress can make a huge difference, and the ACLU has long been asking it to step up its oversight duties and enact a strict set of regulations for fusion centers.

We hope this document is more than just recycled rhetoric, and that the Obama administration will put its words into action. They should start by implementing policies that are in line with the Constitution and domestic and international human rights law, and striking down those that aren’t.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Arizona’s Immigration Law effect on the community

Via ACLU Blog:

Already, the ACLU of Arizona and our community partners throughout the state are receiving calls on a daily basis from frantic parents, caregivers, religious workers, volunteers, teachers and even state agencies about their rights and obligations under this law. Unfortunately, it is not an overstatement to say that there is a great deal of fear and panic in immigrant and minority communities in Arizona. Since the signing of S.B. 1070, parents have reported that they are afraid to keep their kids in public schools because of the possibility that they or their kids could be reported to immigration authorities. Families have decided to leave the state entirely because they cannot live under constant threat and suspicion. Without even going into effect, this law has already eroded public trust in law enforcement, compromised crime victims’ and witnesses’ willingness to come forward, emboldened hate groups and created a heightened climate of discrimination and fear.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a number of social and legal service providers, churches, ethnic associations, labor unions and individuals who would be negatively impacted by S.B. 1070. They are men, women and children who are afraid that if the law were to go into effect they would be at risk of being questioned, arrested and jailed by local police. In many of these cases however, what is even more powerful than their fear of being arrested is the fear of being separated from family and community, and being stripped of their safety and well-being.

Two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are women and residents of Phoenix, Arizona. Both have endured severe abuse and violence and are seeking protection in the United States. But since the passage of S.B. 1070, they are afraid of potential encounters with law enforcement because of their ethnic appearance and limited or accented English. They are afraid that they could be arrested and prosecuted under the law because they do not carry one of the enumerated “registration documents.”

One of the women is of South Asian descent and speaks very limited English. She was kidnapped, sexually abused, and physically assaulted in her home country. Now in Arizona, she is applying for asylum with immigration authorities, a process that can take up to several years. Another plaintiff is a Haitian woman who was granted permission to remain in the United States pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act after suffering abuse at the hands of her father. As these women try to piece their lives back together, one of their greatest fears is that they may be caught up by the new law and thrown into a process that would require them to relive the trauma they survived.

Laws like S.B. 1070 are written and promoted to create fear in immigrant communities and spread divisiveness across our nation. It is another tool that will be used to separate families by subjecting more and more people to the state’s jails and federal detention centers. It is a tool that will be used to measure the number of deportations from Arizona, without any regard for due process, fairness or justice. Laws like S.B. 1070 that create an assault on a class of people based on their heritage or appearance are not rooted in fundamental American values. Perhaps the voices of the marchers from this weekend and the stories of the plaintiffs in the litigation should remind us that constitutional and human rights apply to all people, regardless of their immigration status, even in Arizona.

Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: