Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

>Discordant

July 29, 2010

>Main Entry: dis·cor·dant
Pronunciation: \-dənt\
Function: adjective
Date: 14th century
1 a : being at variance : disagreeing b : quarrelsome : relating to a discord
— dis·cor·dant·ly adverb

It sure seems that we are living in discordant times. There are many examples, but certainly highlighted by the example of Joe Wilson’s shout of “You lie,” during the president’s state of the union address, and Republican Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle urging supporters to use “second amendment remedies” if they don’t get their way.

Immigrants are among the targeted. I heard someone on the local radio yesterday telling about watching a soccer game and stating that she “knew” that 95% of the young guys playing were “illegal.”

First, there is this:

Second, where does she come up with the 95% figure?

As of 2008 there were 46,822,476 Hispanics in the United States (out of 304,059,728 people). Of these, it is estimated that 11,000,000 or around 23 %, are undocumented. Saying that 95% of the young men in a soccer game are illegal is not only plainly wrong, but it’s also misleading and contributes to the discordance in our country.

It results from the xenophobia in our community, and across the nation.

In Birmingham yesterday there was a pro-immigrant rally rally that cheered the judge’s ruling on the Arizona law. Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama said that officials in other cities in our state are interested in passing versions of the proclamation issued by Birmingham at the rally declaring the city as one that welcomes all.

But the Republican Tea Party loves the controversy. They want to keep us divided, hoping it will allow them to win a few races.

But I have this America-view that we are better than that. I grew up seeing the worst that America had to offer during the 20th century in the worst city be in during the 1960’s. (Disclaimer – I lived in Vestavia, but I was close enough to Birmingham to know what was going on and to see it with my own eyes.)

And as a result I can recognize hatred when I see it, or hear it. The Republican Tea Party depends on hatred to survive. And what they want to do to the country is deplorable.

Their platform:

1. Repeal health insurance reform
2. Privatize social security or get rid of it.
3. End medicare.
4. Extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil.
5. Repeal Wall Street reform.
6. Protect those responsible for the oil spill.
7. Abolish the Department of Education
8. Abolish the Department of Energy.
9. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
10. Repeal the 17th amendment (ending the direct election of U.S. Senators)

The Republican Tea Party Contract on America

A vote for a republican, any republican, is a vote for this agenda. Remember this in November.

Sitting at home is a vote for this agenda as well. Remember to vote in November.

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>Dear Mexican,

July 8, 2010

>

Dear ‘Mexican’,

Be careful out there. In spite of what you might hear from the Irondale City Council, you have been targeted.

In the state of Alabama, there is a strong history of hatred, and your group is just the latest in a long list of people targeted because they are different. Our state history of hatred has been displayed on television for decades primarily by the images of fire hoses and police dogs that targeted peaceful blacks during the 1960’s.

More recently we’ve heard the hatred against gays as Republican former candidate for governor Roy Moore suggested using “the power of the sword” against “homosexuals” in an opinion he wrote while serving as Chief Justice of the Alabama supreme court.

But hatred against Latinos has been documented in our history as well. In 1921 a Puerto Rican man named Pedro Gussman was married to Ruth Stephenson by Father James Coyle at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Birmingham. Ruth’s father, Rev. R. E. Stephenson, was a Methodist Episcopal Church minister, and also a Klansman, and he gunned down Father Coyle on the steps of the Catholic parsonage on August 11, 1921 not long after his daughter was married.

Father James Coyle

Now this has long been viewed as an anti-Catholic act, and the race of the murderer’s son-in-law has been mentioned as secondary. Stephenson was acquitted, and Catholics were targeted by the Klan for years to come.

But this incident underscored that both racial and religious differences were not going to be tolerated in our state.

During this same time period and for decades leading up to it, Blacks in Alabama were being targeted in much the same way Hispanics are being targeted today. The records from courthouses across our state demonstrate the capture and imprisonment of thousands of random indigent citizens under inconsequential charges or in some cases, for violations of laws specifically written to intimidate blacks (vagrancy, riding freight cars, loud talk with white women) and then held and “sold” for cheap labor for years in order to pay off their trumped up fines. This re-enslavement of blacks is documented in Douglas Blackmon’s book, “Slavery by Another Name”.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the whites in power rarely openly voiced their intent or their hatred of blacks and others (other than when disguised by wearing their white robes and hoods). The same is true today. The lawmakers may not admit to their hatred of you, but when we listen to the rhetoric of their like minded constituents who make the assumption that, for instance, all construction workers are illegal (rather than all construction workers are Hispanic), it’s easy to determine their mindset. “There’s a building going up nearby and all the workers are illegals,” they might say on local talk radio.

If I were stopped in Irondale for speeding, I wonder if the officer would ask for proof that I’m a U. S. citizen? He would see my driver’s license and my insurance card. Neither of those proves citizenship. But I probably look like him, or like other officers on his police force, and I talk like a southerner, so he probably wouldn’t ask.

If you were pulled over for speeding, you would be more likely to be asked about your origins.

But the Irondale immigration resolution says “nothing in this resolution requires, condones, or approves any profiling based on race, creed, color or place of origin.” As Irondale Council person James D. Stewart (who is black) said, the resolution would not need to include that language if the rest of it was designed to prohibit profiling in the first place.

Odds are that this law will be struck down just as the discriminatory Arizona law will be, and legal groups are looking at the Irondale resolution now. But it could take months or longer for the legality of the laws to be determined.

In the meantime, be very careful when in Irondale. You or your friends or family members could disappear, just as the blacks did in and around Birmingham a hundred years ago. You are dealing with xenophobic people in Irondale, and elsewhere.

No todos los residentes de Alabama son así. No todos tienen el odio en nuestros corazones. Agradecemos el trabajo que haga y las contribuciones que hacen a nuestra sociedad y nuestra economía.Tenga cuidado ahí fuera.

Sincerely,

Bessemer Opinions

>Immigration

May 13, 2010

>This is my 1001 post on Bessemer Opinions. That’s a lot of opinionating. Sometimes, opinions need to be re-stated, for one reason or another, and this is one of those times.

Immigration

I am in America because of illegal immigration, and that is part of the reason I have such strong opinions about it. My ancestor came to this country from Great Britain illegally. But he was able to “melt” into the “pot” we call the United States and make babies and such and here I am.

I agree that current immigration policies need fixing, but rather than working toward actual solutions we hear hateful rhetoric and pass laws that disrespect humanity and tear families apart.

Here’s a video that’s a couple of years old, but points out the ignorance of some people (like you don’t speak to Koreans in Japanese and expect them to understand), and the realization that you don’t just come to this country and immediately know English. And, of course, that not all immigrants (legal or illegal) are Hispanic. There is a huge Vietnamese community on the Alabama coast that could be affected adversely if, say, drivers licenses were restricted to those who already know English. (That didn’t come from this video, by the way).

Here is a column I wrote for the Western Tribune, oddly enough, the same month that video was produced (November 2007).

Immigration is a hot topic but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew the
facts before forming opinions and voicing them on talk radio and such?

The state’s Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission held a public
hearing recently and some little known facts were revealed during the testimony.
Sam Brooke, Law Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took
the opportunity to dispel several myths, as the following examples from his
testimony point out.

One myth is that immigrants without legal status cause a rise in criminal
activity. The fact is that an increase in immigrants – with or without
legal status- generally causes a reduction in crime.

This was proven in court in Hazelton, PA, when anti-immigrant ordinances
were being challenged, and testimony brought the true facts out.

In addition it has been shown in our own state that immigrants are
more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of criminal
activity.
We only need to look as far as Lipscomb where Hispanics were
recently being targeted to realize this, but an article from the Montgomery
Advertiser (October 16, 2007) also backs this up.

Another myth is that immigrants drain public health dollars and put
a strain on medical services
. A recent study in Georgia estimated that
undocumented immigrants contribute between $215 and $252 million to the state’s
coffers, and in Texas it is estimated they contribute $380 million more than
they use in relation to state-provided services. While similar numbers are not
available for our state, it can be concluded that immigrants who lack
legal status do not cost our state money.

Immigrants without legal status have been made scapegoats over these
issues. To combat this, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU
of Alabama are encouraging the Immigration Commission and our Legislature to
treat immigrants with respect and dignity as they find solutions that are
inclusive of this growing community.

And they should remember that only the federal government can regulate
employment and presence of immigrants. Laws in other states that have attempted
to challenge this authority have not been upheld. It would not make
sense to have a hodge-podge of laws that differ from state to state regarding
who can come into our country
.

The federal government has failed to address the immigration issue,
but that does not mean we should attempt to solve the problems on a state by
state basis
.

Rather, we should be encouraging the Congress and President to find
workable solutions without stereotyping or making scapegoats of people.
Solutions that allow well intentioned immigrants to live and contribute to our
society as they move toward full citizenship are solutions we can all live with.

In the meantime, in Arizona:

>Immigrants – Western Tribune column July 1 2009

July 1, 2009

>Once again I get to add photos to my Western Tribune column for effect. Whatcha think?

One cannot approach the Statue of Liberty and look up at her endless gaze across the sea without trying to put oneself in the place of the thousands of immigrants that made that same approach a century ago. “From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome” the famous poem by Emma Lazurus says.

Forty percent of Americans can trace their ancestry to Ellis Island which was the first stop those immigrants made when coming to our country. The rest of us, unless we are 100% Native American, also have immigrant roots.


There is no hard line rhetoric against the descendants of the European immigrants today. That tone is reserved for the immigrants who come not across the sea, but across the desert.

Yet those of Hispanic origin who enter our country today do so for the same reasons and suffer similar hardship as those who came seeking a better life so long ago. No one can blame them for that.

The fears surrounding the immigration debate are unfounded. One of those fears is about language, but a look at New York City’s history dispels that fear.

New York City began as a Dutch colony; New Amsterdam. Presumably, the language spoken was Dutch. After the English gained control, at some point, the principal language became English. However, when Chinese immigrants populated an area, they retained their language, which is still evident as one walks through Chinatown where all the signs are written in Chinese.

The mother of a friend of mine has lived in New York City for decades yet still speaks only Italian. In other words, people do just fine when exposed to an additional language in their culture.

Yet in Albertville and other cities people are up in arms because Hispanic business owners want to have storefront signs in Spanish.

These silly debates about language are an expression of the prejudice that some people have against people who are different. For those people, I offer a challenge.

Travel to New York, get on the ferry and visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Develop a little empathy by learning about the history of immigration and imagine that the many languages you hear from fellow tourists represent the many origins of immigrants that make up our ancestors.


Then imagine where you would be today if your immigrant ancestors had been turned away.

You might not be so quick to condemn today’s immigrants.

>"Humans have Values"

January 28, 2009

>Be sure to read my column from The Western Tribune, which follows this.

Update: Mother and son released from detention , will not be deported.

Had a certain comment regarding Muslims not been posted on yesterdays blog, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. But this blog believes that, yes, humans do have value. All humans. Yet comments continue to come in that slight Muslims, blacks, gays. (Some of those comments I refuse to post, some I post reluctantly, so I can counter).

But this isn’t really about Muslims or religion at all. It’s about respect and values. So yes, I would have posted this.

Imad Mohammad and his mother are facing deportation. Imad is a Spain Park High School grad, in college, but he and his mother are being held in a “detention center” (the quotes are because we know about the detention center in Etowah county) in Louisiana.

“Why?” You ask.

His father, mother and he came to this country, it seems, in 1993, fleeing civil war in Lebanon. Imad, 18 now, must have been around 2 years old. They were ordered to leave the country in 2001. Being Palestinian, they don’t really have anywhere to go. They were picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for still being here.

Imad’s father, Mohammad Mohammad was released so he could care for his other five children, who are all U. S. citizens.

Why did they flee to the United States? “Here, humans have values. That’s why I came here,” Imad’s father said.

But isn’t it sad when a father has to speak to his son by phone and apologizes for bringing him here. I mean, this kid has had all the opportunity in the world. His high school English teacher said, ” I’m not exaggerating when I say that he is among the top, top students I’ve ever taught or expect to teach.”

He was the track captain at Spain Park. What seemed like a promising future now seems bleak.

Of course laws are laws and immigration laws are no different. But immigration laws are ignored about 12 million times, so why pick the brightest kid around to make an example out of?

Thursday is the deadline set by a federal judge for the feds to show just cause for holding the mother and son.

In a story in The Shelby County Reporter Imad had this to say, “I’m holding up the best I can. I don’t want to break down because my family will break down too. If I start complaining and crying then my dad is going to start getting more antsy. If I’m strong, they’re strong.”

After this experience Imad wants to become an immigration attorney. Well, if he gets to stay.

We will see tomorrow whether that “values” thing holds true in this country. We’re pulling for you, Imad.

>This Gold Will Irk the Xenophobes

August 20, 2008

>

You know, those who demonize the immigrants.

Henry Cejudo won the gold medal in 121# wrestling.

Photo from Outsports Daily Dozen

Henry is of Mexican descent, born to undocumented immigrants who entered the country well before he was born in Los Angeles.

Of course Henry is a U. S. citizen. He was raised in poverty and bypassed college to concentrate on the Olympics. His mother raised 6 kids on low paying jobs, and at times the family slept 4 to a bed.

“This is cool. Coming out of a Mexican American background, it feels good to represent the U.S.,” Cejudo told the L. A. Times. “Not too many Mexicans get the chance to do that.”

“He has done an unbelievable job coming from the environment that he came from,” his coach, Terry Brands, said. “Could be in prison. Could be a drug runner. Could be this, could be that. He’s done an unbelievable job of not being a victim.”
Yet here he is, gold medal winner.
Watch his gold medal match here.
Congratulations to Henry Cejudo, the latest American Dream-maker.

Ethnic Cleansing, coming to a town near you

March 6, 2008

After three weeks of examining html and deleting widgets and replacing templates…the comments are finally open again. I hope.

I know that xenophobes will slam me on this, but maybe some state senators have seen the light. Bham News “Some senators skip immigration bill talks”

The immigration bill that is (not) moving through the Alabama Senate amounts to nothing more than legalized ethnic cleansing, much like the bill that has taken effect in Oklahoma.

Mis-statements such as this “Supporters of the bill said Alabama is spending too much money on health care, education and law enforcement because of a steady flow of illegal immigrants,” fuel the flames of hatred and prejudice.

Sworn testimony before the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission states ” it is now clear that the exact inverse is true: recent immigrants are less likely than natives to be involved in criminal activity, and an influx of immigrants—with or without status—generally causes a reduction in crime” and “A recent study in Georgia estimated that immigrants without status contribute $215 to $252 million to Georgia’s coffers, and Texas estimates that immigrants without status contribute $380 million more to the state coffers than they use in state-provided services.” I can provide more information about the basis for this testimony, but the point is there is no reason to think that immigrants in Alabama affect our economy or safety any more than any other state… Alabama xenophobes would rather rely on hype and sterotype than facts and research.

Here is an editorial from the Anniston Star, printed in its entirety.

Commission’s proposals fuel racial intolerance in our state
By Allison Neal Special to The Star
02-24-2008

Since this nation’s founding, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent have settled in the United States. Yet every wave of immigrants has faced fear, discrimination, hostility and stereotyping.

We are currently witnessing such a period, as evidenced by the recommendations issued earlier this month by Alabama’s Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission. If the Legislature follows these recommendations, it will come at the unacceptably high cost of sacrificing the U.S. Constitution and our American ideals of equality and fairness. As such, the ACLU opposes these attempts to establish and enforce immigration policies at the state and local level.
The commission’s recommendations attempt to legislate locally in the area of immigration law. This is a violation of the longstanding constitutional principle that immigration regulation is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.

The United States makes immigration a federal responsibility for good reasons. Localized attempts to control immigration do not take into account the complexity of existing federal law. Instead, they create a patchwork of differing standards across the country, which leads to confusion and can place individuals in the impossible position of trying to comply with two sets of incompatible rules.

Many of the commission’s recommendations also fuel racial intolerance and discrimination. For example, expanding the role of state and local law enforcement to apply immigration laws invites discrimination against individuals who “appear” or “sound” foreign.

In this country, we value fairness and equality. Racial profiling violates our nation’s basic constitutional commitment to equal justice under the law, and stands in direct contravention of 14th Amendment mandates.

Additionally, law enforcement policies primarily designed to scrutinize members of ethnic, racial and religious groups are ineffective, illegal and may subject Alabama to costly litigation.

A number of the commission’s recommendations appear to be based on pervasive myths concerning the immigrant population. For example, one recommendation would require a person to show lawful presence in the United States in order to receive public benefits from the state of Alabama. This is a non-issue. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for the vast majority of state and federal benefits and are only eligible for those that are considered important to public health and safety, such as emergency medical care.

Additionally, it is unclear from the recommendations what sort of documentation would be necessary to prove lawful presence. If the proposal is interpreted to require all persons to show government-issued ID cards prior to receiving benefits, vulnerable populations such as the elderly, who are less likely to have access to these ID cards will be disproportionately impacted.

Another recommendation, described as a proposal to ensure public safety, would expand the so-called 287(g) program and “educate, train and equip local and state law enforcement on how to properly enforce current laws.”

To label this as a public safety measure is extremely misleading. According to a publication by New York University press, a higher immigrant population either has no effect on crime or is associated with lower levels of crime and violence.

Furthermore, state and local police already have the tools they need to arrest and detain criminals, including the full power to arrest noncitizens involved in criminal activity.

Using state and local police to enforce civil immigration law puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy and is a bad use of public resources. Police officers depend on the cooperation and trust of immigrants to carry out their jobs. When immigrants do not feel safe to come forward when crimes are committed against them and their families, this cooperation and trust evaporates.

In addition, requiring police officers to enforce federal immigration law would strain already scarce law enforcement resources.

Immigration, along with the American ideals of equality, fairness and social tolerance have built the political, economic and cultural strength of this country.
Because immigrants are politically disenfranchised in the United States, they are an especially vulnerable group and an easy target for political leaders who often blame them for causing or contributing to the social, economic and political ills of our society.

We must remember that the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection apply to all persons in this country, not just U.S. citizens. Divisive and inhumane immigration laws are unjust, legally suspect, and contrary to our national interests and core American values of fundamental fairness and equality.

By eroding the fundamental rights of immigrants, the Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission’s recommendations threaten the rights of all Americans, while further reinforcing the second class status of non-citizens.

We at the ACLU of Alabama oppose these recommendations, and the very notion of a two-tiered justice system. We hope that the Legislature works instead to ensure that immigrants, like all other persons in this country, receive the constitutional protections to which they are entitled.

Allison Neal is staff attorney of ACLU of Alabama. Web site: ACLU of Alabama

>Ethnic Cleansing, coming to a town near you

March 6, 2008

>After three weeks of examining html and deleting widgets and replacing templates…the comments are finally open again. I hope.

I know that xenophobes will slam me on this, but maybe some state senators have seen the light. Bham News “Some senators skip immigration bill talks”

The immigration bill that is (not) moving through the Alabama Senate amounts to nothing more than legalized ethnic cleansing, much like the bill that has taken effect in Oklahoma.

Mis-statements such as this “Supporters of the bill said Alabama is spending too much money on health care, education and law enforcement because of a steady flow of illegal immigrants,” fuel the flames of hatred and prejudice.

Sworn testimony before the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission states ” it is now clear that the exact inverse is true: recent immigrants are less likely than natives to be involved in criminal activity, and an influx of immigrants—with or without status—generally causes a reduction in crime” and “A recent study in Georgia estimated that immigrants without status contribute $215 to $252 million to Georgia’s coffers, and Texas estimates that immigrants without status contribute $380 million more to the state coffers than they use in state-provided services.” I can provide more information about the basis for this testimony, but the point is there is no reason to think that immigrants in Alabama affect our economy or safety any more than any other state… Alabama xenophobes would rather rely on hype and sterotype than facts and research.

Here is an editorial from the Anniston Star, printed in its entirety.

Commission’s proposals fuel racial intolerance in our state
By Allison Neal Special to The Star
02-24-2008

Since this nation’s founding, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent have settled in the United States. Yet every wave of immigrants has faced fear, discrimination, hostility and stereotyping.

We are currently witnessing such a period, as evidenced by the recommendations issued earlier this month by Alabama’s Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission. If the Legislature follows these recommendations, it will come at the unacceptably high cost of sacrificing the U.S. Constitution and our American ideals of equality and fairness. As such, the ACLU opposes these attempts to establish and enforce immigration policies at the state and local level.
The commission’s recommendations attempt to legislate locally in the area of immigration law. This is a violation of the longstanding constitutional principle that immigration regulation is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.

The United States makes immigration a federal responsibility for good reasons. Localized attempts to control immigration do not take into account the complexity of existing federal law. Instead, they create a patchwork of differing standards across the country, which leads to confusion and can place individuals in the impossible position of trying to comply with two sets of incompatible rules.

Many of the commission’s recommendations also fuel racial intolerance and discrimination. For example, expanding the role of state and local law enforcement to apply immigration laws invites discrimination against individuals who “appear” or “sound” foreign.

In this country, we value fairness and equality. Racial profiling violates our nation’s basic constitutional commitment to equal justice under the law, and stands in direct contravention of 14th Amendment mandates.

Additionally, law enforcement policies primarily designed to scrutinize members of ethnic, racial and religious groups are ineffective, illegal and may subject Alabama to costly litigation.

A number of the commission’s recommendations appear to be based on pervasive myths concerning the immigrant population. For example, one recommendation would require a person to show lawful presence in the United States in order to receive public benefits from the state of Alabama. This is a non-issue. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for the vast majority of state and federal benefits and are only eligible for those that are considered important to public health and safety, such as emergency medical care.

Additionally, it is unclear from the recommendations what sort of documentation would be necessary to prove lawful presence. If the proposal is interpreted to require all persons to show government-issued ID cards prior to receiving benefits, vulnerable populations such as the elderly, who are less likely to have access to these ID cards will be disproportionately impacted.

Another recommendation, described as a proposal to ensure public safety, would expand the so-called 287(g) program and “educate, train and equip local and state law enforcement on how to properly enforce current laws.”

To label this as a public safety measure is extremely misleading. According to a publication by New York University press, a higher immigrant population either has no effect on crime or is associated with lower levels of crime and violence.

Furthermore, state and local police already have the tools they need to arrest and detain criminals, including the full power to arrest noncitizens involved in criminal activity.

Using state and local police to enforce civil immigration law puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy and is a bad use of public resources. Police officers depend on the cooperation and trust of immigrants to carry out their jobs. When immigrants do not feel safe to come forward when crimes are committed against them and their families, this cooperation and trust evaporates.

In addition, requiring police officers to enforce federal immigration law would strain already scarce law enforcement resources.

Immigration, along with the American ideals of equality, fairness and social tolerance have built the political, economic and cultural strength of this country.
Because immigrants are politically disenfranchised in the United States, they are an especially vulnerable group and an easy target for political leaders who often blame them for causing or contributing to the social, economic and political ills of our society.

We must remember that the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection apply to all persons in this country, not just U.S. citizens. Divisive and inhumane immigration laws are unjust, legally suspect, and contrary to our national interests and core American values of fundamental fairness and equality.

By eroding the fundamental rights of immigrants, the Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission’s recommendations threaten the rights of all Americans, while further reinforcing the second class status of non-citizens.

We at the ACLU of Alabama oppose these recommendations, and the very notion of a two-tiered justice system. We hope that the Legislature works instead to ensure that immigrants, like all other persons in this country, receive the constitutional protections to which they are entitled.

Allison Neal is staff attorney of ACLU of Alabama. Web site: ACLU of Alabama

Bessemer…it really is OK (if you ignore the negatives)

November 14, 2007

Maybe I should say “If you address the negatives.”

I get a lot of email from readers of my columns in The Western Tribune and readers of this blog (from people who do not want to post comments). Most of it is supportive, but some is not. One question I hear from time to time is why do I focus so much on negative stuff about Bessemer.

So I went back through the archives a few weeks, and while I admit some things may be negative to me and positive to others, and vice versa, it comes out about even. I mean, a column about a shooting could also have information about efforts to reduce crime…so is that a positive or negative article about Bessemer?

Anyway, “negative” stories usually reveal some type of inappropriate activity, be it crime or hypocrisy or plagiarism or inaccurate reporting by newspapers, and those types of activities need to be made public. Not reporting on these types of things is equal to participating in it. That is why The Western Tribune out performs the Western Star in every instance. If you report “news” in Bessemer, which is what “newspapers” should do, there are going to be “negative” stories. At least there are stories…

So I am going to comment on this report aired last night on Fox 6. It is about Donald Moulton, who already has a breach of contract suit against him filed by a former business owner in Homewood, and federal charges of identity theft and mail fraud as reported on Bessemer Opinions and now theft of services charges filed by former employees at the Broken Vessel Church.

I still have hopes that this church can become a postive thing for the community, but not under his “leadership.” A prominant area pastor is considering taking over the ministry. I have not said this about the church before, but let’s just hope that whoever takes it over will be open and accepting of all the communities of Bessemer, including the gay community. Maybe that is why the Baptist church there dwindled, because “they” pick and choose who God should love (although in their case it had more to do with racism than homophobia).

Another community that is picked on is the latino community. My column in The Western Tribune today is about immigration, and here it is, minus possible editing. Stop now if you want to wait and read it in the paper. I refered to testimony of Sam Brooke in the column. If anyone wants to read the entire testimony I will email it to you.

This could easily have been an 800 word column, and been more informative, but space restrictions limited it.

*******************************************************************
Immigration is a hot topic but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew the facts before forming opinions and voicing them on talk radio and such?

The state’s Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission held a public hearing recently and some little known facts were revealed during the testimony. Sam Brooke, Law Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took the opportunity to dispel several myths, as the following examples from his testimony point out.

One myth is that immigrants without legal status cause a rise in criminal activity. The fact is that an increase in immigrants – with or without legal status- generally causes a reduction in crime. This was proven in court in Hazelton, PA, when anti-immigrant ordinances were being challenged, and testimony brought the true facts out.

In addition it has been shown in our own state that immigrants are more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of criminal activity. We only need to look as far as Lipscomb where Hispanics were recently being targeted to realize this, but an article from the Montgomery Advertiser (October 16, 2007) also backs this up.

Another myth is that immigrants drain public health dollars and put a strain on medical services. A recent study in Georgia estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute between $215 and $252 million to the state’s coffers, and in Texas it is estimated they contribute $380 million more than they use in relation to state-provided services. While similar numbers are not available for our state, it can be concluded that immigrants who lack legal status do not cost our state money.

Immigrants without legal status have been made scapegoats over these issues. To combat this, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU of Alabama are encouraging the Immigration Commission and our Legislature to treat immigrants with respect and dignity as they find solutions that are inclusive of this growing community.

And they should remember that only the federal government can regulate employment and presence of immigrants. Laws in other states that have attempted to challenge this authority have not been upheld. It would not make sense to have a hodge-podge of laws that differ from state to state regarding who can come into our country.

The federal government has failed to address the immigration issue, but that does not mean we should attempt to solve the problems on a state by state basis. Rather, we should be encouraging the Congress and President to find workable solutions without stereotyping or making scapegoats of people. Solutions that allow well intentioned immigrants to live and contribute to our society as they move toward full citizenship are solutions we can all live with.

>Bessemer…it really is OK (if you ignore the negatives)

November 14, 2007

>Maybe I should say “If you address the negatives.”

I get a lot of email from readers of my columns in The Western Tribune and readers of this blog (from people who do not want to post comments). Most of it is supportive, but some is not. One question I hear from time to time is why do I focus so much on negative stuff about Bessemer.

So I went back through the archives a few weeks, and while I admit some things may be negative to me and positive to others, and vice versa, it comes out about even. I mean, a column about a shooting could also have information about efforts to reduce crime…so is that a positive or negative article about Bessemer?

Anyway, “negative” stories usually reveal some type of inappropriate activity, be it crime or hypocrisy or plagiarism or inaccurate reporting by newspapers, and those types of activities need to be made public. Not reporting on these types of things is equal to participating in it. That is why The Western Tribune out performs the Western Star in every instance. If you report “news” in Bessemer, which is what “newspapers” should do, there are going to be “negative” stories. At least there are stories…

So I am going to comment on this report aired last night on Fox 6. It is about Donald Moulton, who already has a breach of contract suit against him filed by a former business owner in Homewood, and federal charges of identity theft and mail fraud as reported on Bessemer Opinions and now theft of services charges filed by former employees at the Broken Vessel Church.

I still have hopes that this church can become a postive thing for the community, but not under his “leadership.” A prominant area pastor is considering taking over the ministry. I have not said this about the church before, but let’s just hope that whoever takes it over will be open and accepting of all the communities of Bessemer, including the gay community. Maybe that is why the Baptist church there dwindled, because “they” pick and choose who God should love (although in their case it had more to do with racism than homophobia).

Another community that is picked on is the latino community. My column in The Western Tribune today is about immigration, and here it is, minus possible editing. Stop now if you want to wait and read it in the paper. I refered to testimony of Sam Brooke in the column. If anyone wants to read the entire testimony I will email it to you.

This could easily have been an 800 word column, and been more informative, but space restrictions limited it.

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Immigration is a hot topic but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone knew the facts before forming opinions and voicing them on talk radio and such?

The state’s Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission held a public hearing recently and some little known facts were revealed during the testimony. Sam Brooke, Law Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, took the opportunity to dispel several myths, as the following examples from his testimony point out.

One myth is that immigrants without legal status cause a rise in criminal activity. The fact is that an increase in immigrants – with or without legal status- generally causes a reduction in crime. This was proven in court in Hazelton, PA, when anti-immigrant ordinances were being challenged, and testimony brought the true facts out.

In addition it has been shown in our own state that immigrants are more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of criminal activity. We only need to look as far as Lipscomb where Hispanics were recently being targeted to realize this, but an article from the Montgomery Advertiser (October 16, 2007) also backs this up.

Another myth is that immigrants drain public health dollars and put a strain on medical services. A recent study in Georgia estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute between $215 and $252 million to the state’s coffers, and in Texas it is estimated they contribute $380 million more than they use in relation to state-provided services. While similar numbers are not available for our state, it can be concluded that immigrants who lack legal status do not cost our state money.

Immigrants without legal status have been made scapegoats over these issues. To combat this, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU of Alabama are encouraging the Immigration Commission and our Legislature to treat immigrants with respect and dignity as they find solutions that are inclusive of this growing community.

And they should remember that only the federal government can regulate employment and presence of immigrants. Laws in other states that have attempted to challenge this authority have not been upheld. It would not make sense to have a hodge-podge of laws that differ from state to state regarding who can come into our country.

The federal government has failed to address the immigration issue, but that does not mean we should attempt to solve the problems on a state by state basis. Rather, we should be encouraging the Congress and President to find workable solutions without stereotyping or making scapegoats of people. Solutions that allow well intentioned immigrants to live and contribute to our society as they move toward full citizenship are solutions we can all live with.