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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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A friend sent this amusing link to rabidly anti-immigrant web site VDARE (I read this junk so you don't have to!). Apparently, I'm part of the "Treason Lobby."

A lovely lady named Brenda Walker seems very threatened by my Immigrant of the Day column and has decided that the point of the column is negated if she mentions a few immigrants that were criminals. Among the lowlights of her column:

Actually, the ILW column can be a hoot, because it's filled with people you never heard of and many you wouldn't want to know about. A recent offering (Nov 5) presented Andrew Grove, Hikaru Nakamura, Philippe Kahn, Isaac Larian, and Sonya Thomas. These are not exactly household names.

Now granted that I sometimes have fun with the column and pick offbeat people. Picking a Nobel Prize winner or Olympic athlete every day is possible, but it might get a little dull. So I'll give her Isaac Larian (the hottest toymaker in the country) or competitive food eater Sonya Thomas. But to say that Andrew Grove is not a household name tells me a lot about how ignorant Ms. Walker is. Grove is a founder of Intel and a Time Man of the Year. He's certainly one of the most powerful CEOs in the country and Ms. Walker's inane column probably was typed on a machine with an Intel chip.

And Philippe Kahn may not be a household name, but as the inventor of the camera phone, I'd imagine  most Americans would probably say he's worth a mention.

As for Hikaru Nakamura, I guess becoming the youngest chess Grandmaster in  American history is just a big joke.

Probably the silliest statement Walker makes is this one:

Einstein is the perpetual example - what if restrictionists had kept him out? They never seem to mention Al Capone?

Umh, 100 million people in this country have ancestors that entered during the wave of immigration that brought both Einstein AND Capone. Is Walker saying that on balance, the great wave of immigration from the beginning of the last century was a bad idea? If so, keep saying it lady. 'Cause collectively insulting 1/3 of the American public is a great way to sell your cause.

Incidentally, regular readers of my site know that I only list people who are living (hence, no mention of Albert Einstein even though he is one of my heroes). My goal is to show that immigration is not just a part of America's glorious past but as important today as ever.


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  1. USC's Avatar
    "A lovely lady named Brenda Walker seems very threatened by my Immigrant of the Day column and has decided that the point of the column is negated if she mentions a few immigrants that were criminals. Among the lowlights of her column:

    Actually, the ILW column can be a hoot, because it's filled with people you never heard of and many you wouldn't want to know about. A recent offering (Nov 5) presented Andrew Grove..."

    She is the perfect example of both meanings of Know-Nothing and a know nothing. The antis should be proud that they have such intellectuals in their midst. If Andy Grove takes offense he has only himself to blame for were it not for him we wouldn't have to suffer fools like her (since prior to the invention of the Internet her Letters to the Editor wouldn't have been published by any reputable newspaper).

    "Philippe Kahn"

    Your column prompted me to look up something on Philippe Kahn. In doing so I came across the following:

    "Borland Software Corporation is a software company headquartered in Austin, Texas.[1] It was founded in 1983 by Niels Jensen, Ole Henriksen, Mogens Glad and Philippe Kahn........Three Danish citizens, Niels Jensen, Ole Henriksen, and Mogens Glad founded Borland Ltd. in August 1981"

    So that is three more ways for you to annoy Ms. Walker. George Soros could be the icing on her cake:

    I have done my good deed for the day by teaching Ms. Walker the name of four more worthless (sic) immigrants!
  2. stillw8ing's Avatar
    I feel so sorry for people who read her crap as their only source of news/views on the subject... For America's sake, I hope their number is miniscule.
  3. afan's Avatar
    Fact will remain a fact Ms. Walker should read the history of USA, she doen't have to go back several centuries, 20th will be good eneough. We all should pray for people like Ms. Walker that they base their comments based on facts not fiction.

    You rock Greg! As someone has said the pen is mightier than..Keep writing.
  4. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    As immigrant of the century said: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former". Guess what, he was right, the universe is finite. And on the second count, unfortunately, he was right, too.
  5. Another voice's Avatar
    These people are probablly still stuck in "The world is flat" and do not want to hear anything that contradicts their mistaken belief system no matter how clear you make it to them.
  6. Another voice's Avatar
    Ruben Navarrette Jr.
    Special to CNN

    SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- You must know what's really driving the immigration debate. It's the culture, stupid.

    Immigration restrictionists -- and by that, I mean those who want to limit all immigration, even the legal kind -- like to pretend they're so high-minded. Yet they can't help themselves. They always take the low road and harken back to the nativism that greeted earlier waves of immigrants.

    The restrictionists insist that what bothers them are merely practical concerns: that our borders aren't secure, that so many immigrants are coming into the country illegally, and that the new arrivals are burdening schools and draining social services once they get here.

    Really? If that's the extent of it, then why does the conversation quickly turn to the impact -- both real and perceived -- that immigrants have on American culture through everything from taco trucks to Spanish-language billboards.

    That seems to be the issue in North Dakota, where, according to a recent article in USA Today, towns facing tough economic times are nonetheless resisting a cultural transfusion that could save them. In Cooperstown, the locals opposed efforts to bring in a hog plant and a dairy, because those kind of dirty and hard jobs are likely to attract ... guess who? American kids who work at Starbucks? Nope.

    The article quotes Orville Tranby, a local community leader in Cooperstown, who says that some residents have told him "face to face" that such facilities might attract Hispanic immigrants who could change the local culture.

    You'll find the same fear in Lewisburg, Tennessee. Not long ago, an employee at a local library came up with the radical idea of a bilingual story time where children could hear tales read to them in Spanish. Townspeople wanted no part of that. They demanded that all books purchased by the library, or even donated, be in English-only.

    These stories are ridiculous, but they're also helpful. They illustrate what some people are really concerned about with immigration, and it goes well beyond words like "legal" or "illegal."

    It's the perception that the country is becoming more Hispanic, that Spanish is replacing English, that Hispanic immigrants are weakening American identity, and that Main Street is turning into Little Mexico. A leader of the vigilante Minuteman movement moronically called it the "colonization" of the United States.

    This sort of rhetoric is all about fear -- that those who thrive in the dominant culture are losing their primacy, that the mainstream is being polluted by foreigners, and that our children are going to live in a world where they're going to have to work a lot harder to keep up.

    It conjures up the alarm bells that Benjamin Franklin set off about German immigrants in the late 18th century, who he insisted could never adopt the culture of the English, but would "swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours." It popped up in the mid-19th century amid worries that Chinese immigrants were "unassimilable," which led to Congress approving the explicitly-named Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. And it helped welcome the 20th century when Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge warned that immigrants (read: the Irish) were diluting "the quality of (U.S.) citizenship" and others complained that Italian immigrants were uneducated, low skilled, apt to send all their money to their home country and prone to criminal activity.

    Where have we heard that before? And when will we hear it again? After all, Hispanics may be the latest group to find themselves in a culture war with nativists. But they won't be the last.
  7. Sid's Avatar
    The controversy should not be about people who are bilingual. Studies have shown that kids who learn more than one language are also good at learning different things in general.

    The problem is also not about how Americans are directly affected by allowing immigrants who don't speak English.

    The real issue should be about how not being able to speak English might have an effect on the income inequality. The focus should really be on teaching English to first generation immigrants who are part of the workforce. IMO, not being able to speak English would limit an immigrant's income in this country. If the immigrant is not part of the workforce it wouldn't matter as much if he/she cannot speak English.

    I think using culture and religion and native tongue to measure assimilation is a flawed approach. US is a society largely based on meritocracy and for most jobs, if you are qualified and speak English, it doesn't matter what you eat at home or what your religious beliefs are.
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