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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Immigrant of the Day: Janet Bawcom - Olympic Athlete

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Kenyan-born Janet Bawcom will compete in the 10,000 meter run in London and will be the first woman from her country to compete on the American track and field team. This is her first Olympics, though she is well known in the US with national titles in the 10-K, 15-K, 10 mile, 20-K and 25-K distances. Bawcom came to the US to attend little Harding University in Arkansas where she got a degree in health care management. She's now pursuing a nursing license.

I love the story NBC tells about how a chance encounter changed her life:

Bawcom grew up the oldest of eight siblings in a single-parent household in a village near Kapsabet, Kenya where running was culturally unacceptable for females. When she was 19 years old, Bawcom was walking to a bus stop on the way to visit an aunt in the hospital 40 miles away when a stranger offered her a ride. With little money to spare for bus fare, she accepted. That stranger was Peter Rono, the 1988 Olympic 1500m champion. He told her about how running could be a route to American colleges for Kenyans. After that chance encounter, Bawcom began running. Two years later, she was noticed at a local track by a Harding University coach who happened to be visiting his home in Kenya. He offered her a scholarship and she accepted.

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  1. Jack's Avatar
    Can you imagine if we opened the door to all Kenyans?

    "A decade ago, the U.N. predicted that Kenya's population would reach 44 million by 2050. Now the figure is expected to be nearly 100 million.",0,7213271.htmlstory

    More from the first in a series of articles:

    Today, about 1 in 8 people in the world lives in a slum. By midcentury, with the population at more than 9 billion, the ratio would be 1 in 3, assuming poverty and migration to cities continue at their current rates.

    Now nearly 1 billion people are chronically hungry, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and at least 8 million die every year of hunger-related illnesses.

    By midcentury, there will be at least 2 billion more mouths to feed, and no one can say where the food will come from.

    It's not just that the population will be larger. It's that hundreds of millions of newly affluent people, mostly in Asia, will want to add dairy products and grain-fed beef and pork to their diets.

    To meet the projected demand, the world's farmers will have to double their crop production, according to calculations by a team of scientists led by David Tilman, a University of Minnesota expert on global agriculture.

    William G. Lesher, a former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the brightest minds in the field haven't figured out the solution.

    "We're going to have to produce more food in the next 40 years than we have the last 10,000," he said. "Some people say we'll just add more land or more water. But we're not going to do much of either."

    We are doing the best we can. These slums are increasing day by day."

    -- Anup Murari Rajan of CARE India

    Most of Earth's best farmland has already come under hoof or plow, and farmers are losing ground to expanding cities and deserts. Soil erosion, chemical contamination and salt buildup from irrigation are despoiling prime acreage.

    Climate change will make all of these challenges more daunting. Higher temperatures and violent weather will stunt or destroy crops. Increased flooding will imperil millions living in low-lying regions. More severe droughts could displace masses of people, leading to conflict.

    By 2050, the United Nations predicts, there could be as many as 200 million "climate refugees."
  2. JC's Avatar
    Haha.. Now I see why people laugh at your arguments, with any merit or not. Who could have thought of this when the post congratulates an athlete? Only you!
  3. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "Can you imagine if we opened the door to all Kenyans?"

    What? All of future US Presidents will be fathered by them? A horror!

    Jack, I know it is hard to counter pranoia with data, but US immigration IS NOT CORRELATED to income level of the countries where people are coming from. Do you know what it is correlated with? With the number of people who came from this country in prior periods. Because people live in networks, they migrate in networks. Where do you think your grand-father got his idea to go to the US? From someone he knew who was going!
  4. Jack's Avatar
    JC, the mention of Kenya reminded me of what I recently read about their population growth so I used it as an excuse to link this rare article about population growth. I'll take your "only you" as a compliment on creativity in the absence of an open thread and just Olympic ones.

    LANLW, who said anything about income level? I referred to the explosive population growth of this country as an example, e.g., by some projections Nigeria is projected to surpass the U.S. in population by 2050. Read all about it in the linked article--if you dare. Some people call for unlimited immigration or doing nothing about illegal immigration (which is a de facto unlimited immigration policy). This has implications in light of the projected population growth and displacement of masses of people. As the toll of overpopulation becomes more severe, the number of people looking to move will be enormous. Is it realistic to just say, "Bring them all to the U.S."?

    I am well aware of migration networks. Some of the countries with U.S. networks are projected to have massive population growth. The Philippines: 2010 93 million; 2050 155 million. That is astonishing considering how overpopulated that archipelago already is. How much of that will the U.S. absorb?

    There is much discussion of India in the article:

    In wooing foreign investors, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks of India's "ample human resources ... a growing working-age population in a world that is aging very rapidly." India's leaders view their country's youth bulge as a competitive advantage over China, whose workforce is older because of long-standing restrictions on family size.

    "India doesn't want to reduce its fertility because they say they don't want to have China's aging problem," said Hania Zlotnik, former director of the U.N. Population Division. "But most of their growth is in the poor. Is it a good thing to have a larger number of poor people in your population?"

    If the series of overpopulation articles is not depressing enough, try this:

    In a nutshell, the road to only a 2% Celsius rise in temperature looks like a pipe dream in a cult of growth world and even if we could limit it to that, it might fall woefully short anyway:

    Some context: So far, we've raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.) Given those impacts, in fact, many scientists have come to think that two degrees is far too lenient a target. "Any number much above one degree involves a gamble," writes Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a leading authority on hurricanes, "and the odds become less and less favorable as the temperature goes up." Thomas Lovejoy, once the World Bank's chief biodiversity adviser, puts it like this: "If we're seeing what we're seeing today at 0.8 degrees Celsius, two degrees is simply too much." NASA scientist James Hansen, the planet's most prominent climatologist, is even blunter: "The target that has been talked about in international negotiations for two degrees of warming is actually a prescription for long-term disaster." At the Copenhagen summit, a spokesman for small island nations warned that many would not survive a two-degree rise: "Some countries will flat-out disappear." When delegates from developing nations were warned that two degrees would represent a "suicide pact" for drought-stricken Africa, many of them started chanting, "One degree, one Africa."

    Read more:

  5. Jack's Avatar
    U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren't there

    "Scads and scads and scads of people" have been cut, Haas said. "Very good chemists with PhDs from Stanford can't find jobs."

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