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  1. Bloggings: How Should We Respond to Distorted Charges by Anti-Immigrant Hate Groups? By Roger Algase

    If there is any one feature that defines our democracy, it is the right to free speech. The fact that those with whom we may disagree are free to speak out is a guarantee of our own freedom.
    We should therefore be thankful that we live in a country where Ann Coulter is free to imply that a proposal for legalization for unauthorized immigrants was somehow connected to the Boston bombing (even though one of the suspects was a lawful permanent resident and the other is a US citizen), and where Peter Brimelow, an immigrant from the UK, was free to publish his infamous anti-immigrant, white supremacist book Alien Nation in the1990's.
    But does this mean that we have to listen to people whose attachment to prejudice against immigrants outweighs any regard for the truth? In his comment of April 24, my colleague Jason Dzubow strongly criticizes Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) for his distorted testimony before a Senate committee. This criticism is fully justified.
    First, Jason Dzubow quotes CIS as claiming that the US has naturalized "a few thousand alleged terrorists in recent years", even though it provided only four names, including that of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This is a throwback to Senator Joseph McCarthy, who, in the 1950's, made unsubstantiated charges about alleged Communists in America which destroyed the careers of many innocent people. 
    In addition, one of the statements that Jason Dzubow quotes Mark Krikorian as having made to the Committee is the following, concerning the Tsarnaev family, who immigrated to the US about a decade ago:
    "...especially, why were they given asylum since the parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they were fleeing and wanted asylum from?"
    Jason Dzubow rightly criticizes this statement for its cynical assumption, without any other evidence, that the father's asylum claim was false. As he points out, the father could have had many reasons for returning to Russia, including, possibly, changed country conditions.
    What is also striking is the fact that, according to news reports (see Boston Globe: Suspects' father a familiar face in Cambridge, April 25), approximately a decade elapsed between the father's entry to the US around 2002 and his return to Russia around 2011 or 2012.
    How could Mark Krikorian have expected whomever adjudicated the father's asylum claim in 2002 or shortly thereafter to know that the father would decide to return to Russia almost 10 years later?
    But CIS is not alone in trying to mislead the public into thinking that the asylum claim which the suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, made soon after arriving in the US in 2002 was fraudulent. On April 23, Peter Brimelow's own organization, V Dare, posted a lengthy and convoluted accusation to the same effect on its website, entitled The Tsarnaev Family: More And More Evidence Of Asylum Fraud.
    The gist of this article is that a) Anzor Tsarnaev allegedly could have moved from Russia to Kyrgyzstan, an independent country of which he was allegedly also a citizen, to escape Russia's admittedly brutal history of persecution against ethnic Chechens, to which group Anzor Tsarnaev and his family belonged; b) that he obtained a passport from the same Russian government which was allegedly persecuting him; and, c) that he allegedly falsely stated his intention to return to Russia when he entered the US with a tourist visa.
    Anyone familiar with US asylum law would know at a glance that none of the above factors are indications of asylum fraud. Nor do they necessarily render an applicant ineligible for asylum.
    According to the above Boston Globe article, and other similar news reports, Anzor Tsarnaev's record in the US was that of a law abiding, hard working man who struggled to support his large family. The horrible acts of terror of which the two sons are suspected do not justify the scurrilous attacks against the father.
    But these groundless accusations of asylum fraud are typical of the distorted arguments that the anti-immigrant lobby is using to try to defeat CIR. People motivated by hatred of immigrants should not be allowed to hijack the Boston Marathon bombing suspects' father's asylum grant to try to turn an obvious security issue into an immigration one.
  2. Bloggings: Does Immigration Reform Hang by a Slender Right Wing Extremist Thread? By Roger Algase

    Conventional wisdom holds that if even one member of the Senate Gang of Eight (GOE) pulls the plug on support for the CIR bill that has just been introduced in the Senate, reform is dead. This is why the right wing anti-immigrant lobby is leaning so hard on Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio to back out.
    Conventional wisdom, for once, may be right. If even one of the eight Senators withdraws support for CIR, enough other members of his party, on either side, may follow suit to kill the bill entirely.
    It is not very likely that any of the four Democrats in the GOE will pull out. They seem to be willing to make almost any compromise imaginable to Republican demands for police state style "border security" and "internal enforcement" to get CIR through.
    Fortunately, the Republicans have not (yet) asked for Herman Cain's electrified border fence, or a moat with alligators, as a price for agreeing to vote for CIR.
    However, keeping the four GOE Republicans in line on CIR may become more difficult in the coming weeks and months, as the right wing drum beat of hate against all immigrants and American Muslims grows louder in the wake of the Boston bombing and the news stories about the alleged radicalization of the older suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
    It is of particular concern that one of the GOE's most prominent Republican members, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has so far been willing to take on the anti-immigrant extremists in his own party in order to support CIR, is flipping out on other issues dear to the right wing lunatic fringe.
    Graham wants to declare the surviving Boston bomber suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an enemy combatant, instead of giving him a civilian trial. Not one single Constitutional scholar has found any basis for declaring an American citizen, arrested in the US for a crime committed in America, an enemy combatant.
    Graham's attempt to tear up the Constitution is nothing short of delusional. But he has gone even one step further, by comparing Boston with Benghazi. This comparison could only hold true in the extreme right wing parallel universe of Fox News (and the Romney campaign) before last November's election.
    Having a key member of the immigration reform coalition go off the right wing extemist deep end on any issue is troubling, because of the danger that he might do the same on CIR at some point. Fortunately, there is no sign of this now. Let us hope that things stay that way.
    But the CIR compromise already depends to a large extent on right wing delusional thinking - the notion that a perfectly "secure" Mexican border and foolproof employer verification - backed up by the threat of mass deportations if CIR fails - could ever become realities.
    As the anti-immigrant hate groups which killed reform in 2007 go into action, using Boston as their pretext, the extreme right wing thread upon which the CIR compromise now hangs may become even more slender and precarious.
  3. Bloggings: Anti-immigrant Extremists Continue to Exploit the Boston Bombing: But is Paul Ryan Riding to the Rescue of CIR? by Roger Algase

    The usual immigrant-haters are rushing to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing in order to try to kill CIR. They have lost no time in pivoting from their economic scare tactics claiming that reform would allegedly be too costly, lower wages and take away American jobs, over to raising the specter of more terror attacks if reform goes through.
    This rapid switch reminds me of a French movie which I saw many years ago.
    In the movie, a street beggar is wearing a sign saying: Aveugle (blind). Suddenly, a rainstorm comes along. The beggar, who can in fact see as well as everyone else, takes off his sign and runs for shelter along with the rest of the crowd.
    After the rain subsides, he ventures back out into the street, but since the people around him now know that he can see, he turns his sign around so that it says: Sourd-Muet (deaf and dumb).
    There is no other way to describe a statement by Mark Kikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been pushing the economic argument against CIR. Krikorian asked whether the security checks in the Senate CIR bill would be adequate, citing an inconclusive FBI investigation of the older bombing brother suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, two years ago.
    To cover himself, Krikorian also stated (according to Politico: Boston echoes in Senate immigration hearing, April 22), that the Boston bombing was not an excuse for delay in considering the bill, but by his connecting CIR with Boston, the damage was done.
    Not to be outdone, Kris Koback, who helped author Arizona's draconian, Latino-hating and at least partly unconstitutional (according to the Supreme Court) Wo sind Ihre Papiere! (papers, please) law, told the same Senate Judiciary Committee that the background checks in the currrent CIR bill were not enough to stop a "terrorist from getting amnesty". (Of course, both of the Tsarnaev brothers were in the US legally, and the younger one is an American citizen. Neither would have needed "amnesty".)
    Meanwile, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), one of the first people to draw a connection between the bombing and immigration reform, was furious when Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) condemned people who were trying to exploit Boston to defeat CIR. Senator Schumer did not mention Senator Grassley by name, but obviously the Iowa Republican knew who he was.
    Joining the barrage of hate, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ask why the two brothers had been allowed to emigrate from Chechnya, a "hotbed of Islamic extremism" in the first place.
    The fact they came with their parents and that the younger brother was only 8 does not seem to have been a problem for the Tea Party Senator.
    Perhaps more ominously for the chances for passage of CIR, the same Politico article also reports that Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, whom everyone agrees is a key player in the CIR effort, also disputed statements that the Boston bombing was not relevant to the immigration reform debate. However, he did not say anything about holding up consideration of the reform bill.
    Fortunately, however, a counterweight to the demagogy from the Republican side has appeared in the form of none other than Congressman and former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI). Whatever one may think of his controversial budget proposals, he has sounded an important and badly needed note of sanity on immigration reform.
    Appearing together with Democratic Congressman Luis Guttierez (Illinois) at a church in Chicago with a Latino congregation, where they were greeted by mariachi music, Ryan said (as reported by Politico: Paul Ryan steps into immigration fray, April 22):
    "Our broken immigration system does not serve our national security interests. Our broken immigration system does not serve our economic security interests. And our broken immigration system does not serve our family interests. And so when Republicans and Democrats look at this situation and see something that's broken, we need to fix it."
    Like Paul Revere, Paul Ryan is now riding out in support of the best interests of his country and all the people who live in it. Evidently, Ryan, who was part of the ticket that was blown away by Latino voters in the last election, has learned a lesson from it that some of his Republican colleagues have yet to absorb.
    Ryan is a key figure among conservative House Republicans. His wisdom and realism may be a big help in passing reform in that Chamber and in selling it to fellow Republicans everywhere.

  4. Bloggings: Advocates of Hate Try to Use the Boston Bombing to Defeat Immigration Reform: By Roger Algase

    Hate can show itself in many different ways. One way, which has become all too familiar in America, is in the form of terror attacks aimed at killing or maiming as many people as possible. These include not only the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, but the more recent ones in places such as Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, and now, Boston. I use the word "terror" about all of these attacks, because all of them involved indiscriminate mass destruction by one or more killers who were armed to the teeth.
    It is because of an indefensible double standard in our media and among our politicians that the word :"terror" has been used only for the attacks which were a) carried out by people born outside of the US and b) involved the use of weapons other than guns. If it were not for the anti-immigrant lobby and the gun lobby (both of which are made up of many of the same people), there would be no reason for making this distinction.
    The only (partial) exception to this rule that I am aware of is the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by a terrorist born in the US and was, of course, rightly called a terror attack.
    But whenever there is an attack by home grown terrorists using guns instead of bombs, it is referred to simply as a "shooting", not a terror incident, even when the death toll is higher than in a bomb attack (compare 3 dead at the Boston Marathon, including one child, with 20 dead in Newton, most of whom were young children).
    And what is a shooting? Nothing to get excited about in America, evidently; we have dozens of them every day. No matter how many shootings by native-born Americans occur, America's right wing makes sure that nothing will be done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed, as witnessed by the Senate vote against gun control last week which will truly live in infamy.
    But when mass murder or mayhem is carried out by anyone born outside of the US, then, the right wing has a different reaction - either make the immigration laws tougher, or block any attempt to make them more humane and realistic. In other words, as ID's April 19 editorial pointed out, the strategy is to make a million, or many millions, of innocent people pay the price for the actions of one, or a very few, people with whom they have no connection whatsoever.
    This is another form of hate. It is non-violent and legal, to be sure. It is also protected by the first amendment. But attempts to use the Boston Marathon bombing, whatever the motives on the part of two obviously severely disturbed young foreign-born men, both of whom were in the US legally and one of whom is an American citizen, may have been, as an excuse to scuttle immigration reform are nothing short of despicable.
    Recent statements against CIR based on the Boston Marathon bombing (as reported in Politico on April 19 and April 21) by Republican Senators Charles Grassley (IA) and Dan Coats (IN) and Congressman Steve King (R-IA), as well as by right wing media figures Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter, can only be understood in this context. After Boston, America needs healing, not more hate. 
    The Boston Marathon bombing was also an attack against the same diversity that CIR seeks to encourage. The Boston Marathon includes runners from all over the world. About an hour before the bombing, the male and female winners crossed the finish line. Both were from East Africa, according to the Boston Globe.
    (How ironic, that as the price of immigration reform, the Diversity Visa lottery, which has brought so many immigrants from Africa to America over the past two decades, seems set to be abolished as one of the many prices of compromise to the Republican CIR supporters.)
    To get back to the Marathon, one of the three bombing victims (not counting the policeman who was shot at the MIT campus later on) was a student from China. Along with the horrifying TV footage of the explosions, the same footage showed flags fluttering from many different countries of the world.
    Were all of the wounded victims native born US citizens? Was every single care giver who bravely rushed in to take the victims to a hospital or who treated them in hospitals born in the US?. Come on. This is Massachusetts, not Iowa or Mississippi.
    To use the bombing as an excuse to delay or kill CIR (which amount to the same thing) is as much an insult to the foreign born victims, first responders and care givers, of whom there must have been many, as it is to the entire immigrant community.

  5. Bloggings: The Senate Disgraces America On Guns. Will It Do The Same On Immigration Reform? By Roger Algase

    I quote from an April 18 Politico Article: Gang of Eight aims to stop conservative attacks:
    "Democrats watched President Obama's efforts to pass gun restrictions fail in the Senate and said it might foreshadow what will happen on immigration reform.
    'It's like guns', Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said. Everyone thought everything looks wonderful, but this is a long way to go yet.'"
    No further comment is required. CIR supporters will need to keep their powder dry.
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