America the Beautiful

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Clare

I want to merge two very controversial topics--immigration and home/life balance.

This past weekend I drove my 12-year-old daughter and her friends to a sleep-away summer camp in Maryland. We picnicked and swam at the nearby Elk Neck State Park on the Chesapeake Bay. It is a gorgeous park with leafy woods and a lovely little beach with calm, warm waters. There were lots of families at the park and at least half were immigrants, based on the amazing variety of language and food and music. Alongside the family with hot dogs and hamburgers were Mexicans piling up tostadas, Salvadoreans with platters of pupusas and Middle Eastern families serving hot drinks from silver coffee pots. American or immigrant or a bit of both, we were all there together to enjoy a lazy afternoon of food and play. It seemed to me that the kids were most excited when the dads took to the water to toss the children into the air, horse around, and teach them to swim. The constant cry in every language seemed to be-- Pa! Papi mirame! Daddy look!

I thought about Prince William County's July 10 approval of a resolution to limit access to public services by illegal immigrants. Will park police start asking for proof of residency and visa status at county or state parks? Will immigrants (legal and illegal) and their families feel unwelcome or too intimidated to enjoy what we take for granted--open and cheap access to America's natural wonders to enjoy and treasure as a family? Not long ago, public beaches were segregated by race--are we going to limit access to those beaches again using fear and threat of deportation?

It is true that immigrants to this country can put a strain on public services--go to any state park in this area on a weekend and the tables are packed with the diversity of our local population. This increases trash volumes, strain on infrastructure and noise, and sometimes there is abuse or ignorance of park rules. But I think this is an American tradition, not an immigrant one.

However, think of the benefits. Families of all income levels are getting some help with balancing family and work time in a beautiful setting. Parks offer cheap entertainment that encourages family interaction and an appreciation of our natural world. I am convinced this results in greater civic participation and environmental awareness among park-goers. I remember as a child growing up in Florida that my parents, young immigrants from the U.K. with little money, packed sandwiches and beer (very English) into a cooler each weekend and took us to dozens of parks -- county, state and national -- to see all that Florida, so exotic to us, had to offer. Florida's swamps and scrub became "home." That is the "America" I first came to love, because that is where I spent the happiest times of my childhood. If Prince William's County Board wants to support family values and inspire the county's children to love county and country, the first step is to keep everyone welcome everywhere, particularly in our parks.

Clare is a full-time employee of a federal agency in Washington, D.C. She lives in Arlington, Va., with her husband and two children.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 14, 2007; 7:40 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Clare, do you have a list of laws that you think I should be able to violate with impunity? Legal immigrants are not the issue - what part of illegal do you not get? I am assuming you live in North Arlington, and basically only see illegal immigrants when you are in the park or when they come to clean your house. I'm afraid I'm not so lucky - my formerly solidly middle class neighborhood is being completely destroyed by the illegal rooming houses, yards overflowing with junk cars, etc.

Posted by: govgirl2000 | August 14, 2007 8:02 AM

Interesting.

When an Irish family moved next door to my childhood home, half the neighborhood moved out.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 8:06 AM

It's very easy to have this "we are the world" view when all you've done is spent some time with strangers in a public place. You don't live by them. You're not affected by their day-to-day lives. You're not impacted by the complaints that many people have had that surround the immigration debate. And so on.

In essence, this peice completely overlooks the bigger picture and problems that are occuring within Virginia (and other areas, I'm sure).

WaPo has an interesting article about this on the front page, and either an immigrant or an immigrant supporter (I can't remember which) said that for immigrants, their views are they're here for survival; house beautification is a distant second or third or fourth, etc., issue. Well, that's all fine and good for them, but that will have a detrimental affect on the neighorhood. And there's way too much (antecdotal) evidence supporting that to just dismiss it.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | August 14, 2007 8:31 AM

Just because you are letting your house go does not mean you are an illegal immigrant. I see several houses in my area with peeling paint and in need of a good weeding. The individuals who are living there do not appear to be illegal immigrants. I think we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we make these huge generalizations about people who are not like us and then claim we are not racist. Maybe we should start calling a spade a spade.

Posted by: thought | August 14, 2007 8:35 AM

Lovely, thanks. I've been appalled by the rising racism I've seen lately, excused by "but they're illegal". The specifics generally cited as irritants (language, music, large families) have nothing to do with legal status and everything to do with cultural differences. And my family were undoubtedly the unwelcome "Irish trash" immigrants dispised early last century.

Posted by: shandavegh | August 14, 2007 8:35 AM

Lovely, thanks. I've been appalled by the rising racism I've seen lately, excused by "but they're illegal". The specifics generally cited as irritants (language, music, large families) have nothing to do with legal status and everything to do with cultural differences. And my family were undoubtedly the unwelcome "Irish trash" immigrants despised early last century.

Posted by: shandavegh | August 14, 2007 8:36 AM

Wow, it takes a lot of nerve to say

"my formerly solidly middle class neighborhood is being completely destroyed by the illegal rooming houses, yards overflowing with junk cars, etc.

Posted by: govgirl2000 | August 14, 2007 08:02 AM "

I have no idea where you live, but is there a specific behavior that is "completely destroying" your neighborhood? Is illegal immigration itself the problem, or is there a specific behavior you want to site?

Is it crime? Is it littering? Is it letting the houses become run down (which is probably not a crime)?

Because if you want to attribute the condition of your neighborhood to the specific action of some people getting off a boat or crossing a border, I really want to see the the logical proof behind that wonderful conclusion.

"Show your work, please" said the teacher...

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 8:42 AM

I don't think it matters who is at the park--meaning what the racial/ethnic make-up is of the families that are using the park. I think the issue is that people are in this country illegally and not paying taxes that support our "lovely parks." People are welcome to visit the United States of America. But if you stay here to live, it should be legally--with al of the rights, responsibilities, and priveleges (including park access) that comes with legal residency. You could be white, hispanic, black, purple with pink pokadots--whatever???? But the issue is if you are a legal citizen, or not.

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 8:45 AM

There is a difference between legal and illegal immigration. I think our country has an absolute right to control the number of people allowed to enter this country to live, work, study, or even vacation, and to screen the people allowed in.

I don't think we should halt all immigration, forever and ever. I think a brief (maybe 6-month) moratorium should be put into effect while we pursue enforcement actions against those here illegally; once we have deported those who already demonstrated a disregard for the rule of law, then we can begin processing visa applications. Those who were here illegally should be able to apply along with anyone else; their status as deportees should neither bump them to the front of the line nor eliminate them from consideration (unless they have other criminal convictions).

We can no longer afford to be the Mexican government's solution to its own systemic failures.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 8:46 AM

"Maybe we should start calling a spade a spade."

Be careful -- this is a racially charged statement. But then, on this blog today, I guess we might be in for a lot of that.

I honestly go back and forth about the immigration issue. I don't know what the answer is. It is difficult for me to defend someone's illegal actions -- even if it's an attempt to move where the money is or create a better life for the children. And yet, if I were living somewhere like Mexico or Haiti or Nigeria, I'd do everything in my power to get here. What concerns me the most is the money spent on support services for people who are here illegally.

I think we're a long way from people being asked for proof of citizenship at the entrance to a state park, however.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 14, 2007 8:48 AM

A related article in the Post today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/13/AR2007081301166.html?hpid=artslot

...complete with the lady with her "This is America, speak english" sign.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 8:48 AM

With the allegations of "racism" already, methinks I won't be spending much time here today.

Posted by "thought"

"I think we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we make these huge generalizations about people who are not like us and then claim we are not racist."

Posted by "shandavegh"

"Lovely, thanks. I've been appalled by the rising racism I've seen lately,"

There are lots of productive discussions that can be had about the topic of immigration and what if anything can/should be done, but when one side asserts from the start that the other side only holds its beliefs because it's "racist" it's not likely to be productive. A shame, really.

Side note - interesting article in the Baltimore Sun - the Howard County Executive just figured out that the housekeeper he and his wife have been using since the birth of their latest child is an illegal immigrant. A reporter asked him if he knew whether she was legal or not; he said he'd check and then acknowledged she's not.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 8:50 AM

I just had a thought...what if Americans flooded into Mexico illegally, bringing our SUVs, tearing down homes and building McMansions, using the roads, using the parks--but not doing any of it legally. Meaning not paying a lick of taxes. I don't think the Mexican government would be happy with that. And do you think they'd like us "trashing up" our neighborhoods with American excess????

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 8:52 AM

Mom always told me the "...spade a spade" thing has nothing to do with race:

http://www.yaelf.com/aueFAQ/miftocllspdspd.shtml

" To call a spade a spade is NOT an ethnic slur.
It derives from an ancient Greek expression: _ta syka syka, te:n
skaphe:n de skaphe:n onomasein_ = "to call a fig a fig, a trough a
trough". This is first recorded in Aristophanes' play _The Clouds_
(423 B.C.), was used by Menander and Plutarch, and is still current
in modern Greek. There has been a slight shift in meaning: in
ancient times the phrase was often used pejoratively, to denote a
rude person who spoke his mind tactlessly; but it now, like the
English phrase, has an exclusively positive connotation. It is
possible that both the fig and the trough were originally sexual
symbols.
In the Renaissance, Erasmus confused Plutarch's "trough"
(_skaphe:_) with the Greek word for "digging tool" (_skapheion_;
the two words are etymologically connected, a trough being
something that is hollowed out) and rendered it in Latin as _ligo_.
Thence it was translated into English in 1542 by Nicholas Udall in
his translation of Erasmus's version as "to call a spade [...] a
spade". (_Bartlett's Familiar Quotations_ perpetuates Erasmus'
error by mistranslating _skaphe:_ as "spade" three times under
Menander.)....

bla bla bla....


(And with that, I'm posting too much. I'm outta here.)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 8:54 AM

I meant to say "trashing up their neighborhoods..."

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 8:54 AM

Actually WorkingMomX, if people are making generalizations that all people with run-down houses and who are speaking foreign languages are illegal then they need to call a spade a spade and admit that they just might be racist. Just because a family speaks Spanish in a park on the weekend does not make them illegal. It could be that they want to maintain their heritage and ensure that the language is not forgotten. My father immigrated here and because his family only spoke English once they came, he lost the ability to speak French.

I will maintain that when we make assumptions about people and say that we are not racist, we need to look at ourselves in the process and be really honest. Hurts I know.

Posted by: thought | August 14, 2007 8:55 AM

Okay, one more.

Army Brat, FWIW, I don't believe you're a racist.

You don't need me to tell you that. But I just want you to know that all liberals aren't out to get you.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 8:57 AM

I find it puzzling to read about people who blame the problems in their neighborhoods on "illegal immigrants." How do they know that the people that they don't approve of are here illegally? Have they checked their documents? Or just glanced at the color of their skin and made assumptions?

And while we're on the topic of legal/illegal status, maybe each poster should tell us who let his or her ancestors into America... in my case, my ancestors who arrived in 1680 didn't ask the locals' permission.

Posted by: barfster | August 14, 2007 8:58 AM

Sorry, but natural resources are finite and so are the numbers of living wage jobs. I am against particularly the kind of out of control immigration that we are experiencing in the US because overpopulation not only degrades the environment, but it undercuts the wages of working people. This shrinking of pay is occuring first at the lower wage level, but will spread, as HIB visas increase. Those who claim it is racist or xenophobic to be alarmed about this probably don't themselves depend on a paycheck to survive.

Posted by: skylark1 | August 14, 2007 9:02 AM

barfster

"And while we're on the topic of legal/illegal status, maybe each poster should tell us who let his or her ancestors into America... in my case, my ancestors who arrived in 1680 didn't ask the locals' permission. "

Your ancestors had a lot of sex with my ancestors who were locals....

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 9:04 AM

"When an Irish family moved next door to my childhood home, half the neighborhood moved out."

Awww, which is why we usually kept to ourselves. My whole hill was family until about ten years ago.

On topic, I doubt that the people who are railing about services to illegal immigrants are talking about families in the park. I would bet that it is more along the lines of social services.

I am sorry, but it's not just the social services either that are a threat to our national safety and welfare. Look at the three smart, promising kids who were killed in New Jersey. They were killed by an illegal immigrant who was out on bail for raping a five year old baby. Because he lived in a sanctuary city, the judge who let him out was not obligated to call the Feds to come pick him up. I am sorry, but we are out of control with illegal immigration and it is not a good thing for anyone, including the illegal immigrants who just come here for a better life.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 9:05 AM

"Just because a family speaks Spanish in a park on the weekend does not make them illegal. It could be that they want to maintain their heritage and ensure that the language is not forgotten."

That is an excellent point!!!! For all Clare, the original poster, knows--every single family in the park that day was here LEGALLY!

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:07 AM

To newhere:
Hello distant cousin! Sorry about our illegal entry.

Posted by: barfster | August 14, 2007 9:08 AM

"When an Irish family moved next door to my childhood home, half the neighborhood moved out."

Why did they move out?

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:09 AM

I tend to agree with WorkingMomX. I'm pretty torn on this issue. I also agree with barfster - sounds like people are making assumptions that an immigrant is here illegally.

Personally, I'd like for employers to be held more responsible for illegal immigrants. I don't have much sympathy for individuals who employ somebody without verifying their status as either a citizen or a legal immigrant. We employed a latin american nanny for our DS and we checked to make sure she had a valid green card and withheld her federal and state taxes and all the rest. Did we pay more for her than our "friends" who knowingly employed an illegal immigrant - yep and a lot more. And they knew it, which is why they purposely employed somebody illegally. I have sympathy for illegal immigrants trying to provide for a better life for their families. I have far less sympathy for employers trying to save a buck and taking advantage of people who they know aren't here legally.

Posted by: londonmom | August 14, 2007 9:10 AM

With regard to this blog entry, I think it's a waste of tax payer money to somehow enforce keeping illegal immigrants out of our parks. They don't have a right to it (because they're illegal, duh), but we shouldn't waste time trying to keep them out. There are much bigger problems that need the attention of law enforcement.

With regard to illegal immigration in general, I like educmom's solution, although I'm sure there are lots of other good ones. Basically, our economy can't support the number of illegal immigrants living here. We need immigrant labor, though. So we need to reform our immigration system to make it easier to get in (no more waiting 5 years for a work visa) and then put a reasonable limit on it. Then we can worry about enforcing the borders, etc.

In North Carolina, we have major illegal immigration problems. Drunk driving, driving without insurance, gangs, overcrowded schools and hospitals... I'm sure for every one illegal alien who breaks the laws, there are 10 more who do their best to follow the laws of which they are aware. But there needs to be a system in place to identify illegal immigrants so that they can be held accountable for their actions. The sooner we make them legal and deport the ones who have broken laws, the sooner we can collect their taxes and track them down if they commit crimes. Just like every other immigrant (including me) in the U.S.

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 9:10 AM

"Why did they move out?"

They got tired of the step dancing in the front yard. That is how we chased all our neighbors away.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 9:13 AM

Okay, I have a couple of problems here.

First, why is Spanish 'the' language of illegal aliens? There is a large contingent of illegal aliens from eastern Europe; perhaps a number of illegals speak Czech, Polish, Ukranian, Romanian. There is a contingent of illegal aliens from China with all the Chinese dialects being spoken. Just a point...

Second, actually over half of the illegal aliens do pay taxes. Since they use fake IDs, they are employed under a SS#. Thus, payroll taxes are taken from their pay.

Third, perhaps we need to look to ourselves as part of the problem/solution to the illegal alien issue. Who do you think cleans the toilets in your office building? Who do you think makes your fast food? For that matter, who do you think prepares the food and buses the plates in chain restaurants? Who do you think harvests the food that you eat? All those lovely organic veggies and fruits - who do you think picks them? And how about your "Made in the US" clothing? Who cuts the grass and landscapes your lovely world? Who do you think builds the McMansions and outer suburbs that so many of us live in?

Posted by: pwhite | August 14, 2007 9:15 AM

Why did they move out?"

They got tired of the step dancing in the front yard. That is how we chased all our neighbors away.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 09:13 AM

______________

I'm laughing out loud at my computer :-)

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:15 AM

To newhere:
Hello distant cousin! Sorry about our illegal entry.

Posted by: barfster | August 14

No problem. Revenge on the White Man has been sweet and pretty easy.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 9:16 AM

Skylark,
The H1B visas are already having a seriously detrimental effect on the wages of technology workers. Most recently, STBX was offered a position as a contractor to work for a federal agency. However, before the paperwork could be processed, the small contracting house he was working through discovered that the main contractor on the project had changed -- the new company got the assignment by promising to cut salaries in half (STBX declined the job)...the agency is known for being an H1B contracting house. Wages in the field took a hit in 2000, and they continue to remain stagnant or, more often, decline.
People like Bill Gates are complaining that there is a shortage of tech workers, and it will get worse, but seem to be unaware of their own role in creating the problem. The number of students studying comp-sci has dropped by something like 40% -- because those students are smart enough to know that choice no longer assures a stable career! And Gates has announced initiatives to move Microsoft jobs offshore!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 9:17 AM

I can't stay away. This is one of my favorite topics.

"In North Carolina, we have major illegal immigration problems. Drunk driving, driving without insurance, gangs, overcrowded schools and hospitals... I'm sure for every one illegal alien who breaks the laws, there are 10 more who do their best to follow the laws of which they are aware."

Meesh, so is the problem (A) the lawlessness, or (B) that these people don't have a Green Card?

Lest people think I am irrational on this topic, I am not PRO illegal immigrant. I simply suspect that these illegals are scapegoats for some of our social ills. I also think, as Londonmom implied, that the easiest way to stem this problem is through the employers, because the employers are really the only people who can tell who is illegal and who is legal. You and I on the street just can't tell. Neither can the regular police.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 9:21 AM

"...major illegal immigration problems. Drunk driving, driving without insurance, gangs, overcrowded schools and hospitals"

Whew, I'm so relieved to know that none of us citizens or otherwise legal folks ever does any of these things.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 9:31 AM

Proud Papa -- You say "Mom always told me the "...spade a spade" thing has nothing to do with race"

Someone needs to tell people of color this, because I was accused of racism when I used that very statement during a large meeting once. I agree with you that while it may never have been originally intended as racist (I certainly didn't mean it that way and had no idea I was offending anyone when I said it), it is now problematic at least for some.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 14, 2007 9:32 AM

Also, Scarry, I am LMAO at the idea of step dancing neighbors. That should be a new event in the lawn Olympics in my community. And with the drought at the level it is where I live, our yard is probably hard enough for you to stepdance on it and make noise.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 14, 2007 9:34 AM

I think illegal immigrants are to our country what Jews were to early 20th century Germany. Pretty easy to pick hispanics/latinos out (slightly tanner, often bilingual) and therefore easy to blame all our country's ills on them. I'll bet the money the government spends on social services for ILLEGAL immigrants doesn't even begin to rival what we've spent on the Iraq war. But why fix our problems, or make our tax system more fair, when we can blame "them."

Unless you're native American, you were once "them" too. I know in my family's case, German was spoke as the language at home for 4-5 generations until the World Wars made speaking German unpopular and schooling made the younger generations forget it. So don't assume because a family is speaking Spanish to one another that they haven't been here for generations and generations. The problem now is that while we used to let almost anyone in (Germans, Irish, Italians...) the immigration code in the last several decades has changed so that the quotas we'll allow from Latino countries is ridiculously low. We let everyone else have their turn, but now that America is "full" please tell all these human beings they aren't allowed to have an equal shot at survival. Tell them to go back to their third world countries because they were born too late and are too dark skinned to come to this country.

And talk of the H1B visas in this conversation is totally irrelevant. H1B is what Gates uses to bring Indians over here to train, and then after a year sends back to India so they can outsource all our high tech jobs. Personally, I don't feel my job is threatened by the Latinos coming over the border and I welcome them and their contribution to society. I think by legalizing them and forcing their wages to be on the books and on par with an American worker's wages that we'll have a better country.

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 9:35 AM

Yeah, I laughed at myself for the stepdancing crack. No stepdancing for me at the Irish fest this year though, to fat in the belly this year.

I'll just eat my way through the food stalls.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 9:37 AM

Let's make sure there is a Step Dancing tag for irishgirl74.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 9:40 AM

"We let everyone else have their turn, but now that America is "full" please tell all these human beings they aren't allowed to have an equal shot at survival."

And here lies one of the problems with immigration. It has nothing to do with their skin color, it has to do with them being illegal. Also, our country cannot take care of the whole world. Sooner or later other countries should have to learn to start taking care of their own people.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 9:42 AM

"We let everyone else have their turn, but now that America is "full" please tell all these human beings they aren't allowed to have an equal shot at survival."

And here lies one of the problems with immigration. It has nothing to do with their skin color, it has to do with them being illegal. Also, our country cannot take care of the whole world. Sooner or later other countries should have to learn to start taking care of their own people.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 09:42 AM

________________

Now, if everyone in the world moved to America (making the crazy assumption that they would want to), would our planet spin out of orbit...our weight load would certainly be off balance. And could everyone physically "fit" in America?

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:45 AM

Irishgirl74

"And here lies one of the problems with immigration. It has nothing to do with their skin color, it has to do with them being illegal."

Oh, the irony...

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 9:47 AM

"We let everyone else have their turn, but now that America is "full" please tell all these human beings they aren't allowed to have an equal shot at survival."

And here lies one of the problems with immigration. It has nothing to do with their skin color, it has to do with them being illegal. Also, our country cannot take care of the whole world. Sooner or later other countries should have to learn to start taking care of their own people.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 09:42 AM

Yes but it let your relatives in, and mine. What gives us the right to say no. When did other country's people become "their own people" when a couple hundred years ago, your relatives or mine came from another country as well. They weren't asking for social benefits, they just wanted a job and a wage. Same is true with today's illegals. What gives you or I the right to tell them no. That they are less than human. That American has been letting everyone in for centuries, but now we're going to stop.

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 9:47 AM

OR...wait, wait, wait, I have a really good idea! What if we didn't have everyone actually move here? What if, instead, we took our American ideals and spread them around the globe? Yea, that's it...get every country and government to run like our wonderful government. Hmmmm....wait a second, we're already doing that. ;)

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:47 AM

haha Kattoo that was an exaggeration of course, but I think you know what I mean.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 9:49 AM

haha Kattoo that was an exaggeration of course, but I think you know what I mean.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 09:49 AM

____________

I did know what you mean...I'm just in a very goofy mood today...as you can clearly tell.

Posted by: kattoo | August 14, 2007 9:51 AM

WorkingMomX, I'm a person of color.

I just think that people who are offended at the "...spade a spade" term when it is used correctly just are not knowledgeable about the origin of the term. If you used it correctly they were wrong to accuse you of anything. It's their mistake and you'd win in court.

Now, I have no doubt that some loons could use this phrase as a pejorative, but if you weren't doing so you were in the right.

I think this is a good example of where Political Correctness goes wrong. I think there are some valid expressions of PC -- If 2 people are not offended by the use of the n-word they still should not use it in the presence of a 3rd person who might be offended, for example.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 9:59 AM


"What gives you or I the right to tell them no. That they are less than human. That American has been letting everyone in for centuries, but now we're going to stop."


Sorry this is not what I said. I did not say that anyone was less than human or that immigration had to stop. Illegal immigration should be stopped; legal immigration is fine with me. And in case you are wondering, my family came here legally, my SIL looked it all up.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:01 AM

And in case you are wondering, my family came here legally, my SIL looked it all up.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14,

Yes, your family is known for their research skills...

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 10:04 AM

Hey newhere what is your problem? You don't know anything about my SIL. I also don't see the irony in my statement, but you must live in your own world, so I am sure it makes sense to you.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:08 AM

Ziggymiles you are on the ball with this immigration issue. Everyone has a right to make a better life for their family, and the root of the problem in this country is crime and poverty, not immigration. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, have always been the scapegoats. Just a few generations ago it was Irish drunks brawling in the streets, or Italian mafioso's extorting money and whacking people left and right. Now it's latinos and muslims, next it could be Indian Hindu's or Australian aborigines, who knows?

And Irishgirl74, it's pretty naive to think that the United States is the only country immigrants are flocking to, we are not taking care of the whole world (immigrationally speaking). Pretty much every Western country is having issues with immigrants and national identity. Have you been to Ireland lately? Hardly anyone in the service industry in that country is Irish anymore, most are from eastern Europe or the carribean and are there legally or illegally due to the economic boom, and the Irish are none too pleased with it. But it's a double-edged sword, no one wants to take the lower paying jobs, so they go to the immigrants, much like in this country. Germany, Switzerland, England, and France are having similar issues with immigrants from Muslim countries, so the US is not alone in our immigration woes.

Posted by: eire_driscoll | August 14, 2007 10:12 AM


Besides the imfamous Anonymous troll weighing in with over 15,000 comments, our top 25 posters from year 2007 are listed below:

300 Maryland Mother
338 Army Brat
338 educmom
380 pittypat
388 Leslie
438 Laura
470 John L
486 cmac
496 WorkingMomX
593 Megan
603 Father of 4
685 Meesh
706 Mona
727 moxiemom
786 dotted
815 Chris
859 atlmom
964 catlady
965 scarry
1013 Megan's Neighbor
1081 foamgnome
1283 pATRICK
1310 Emily
1376 Fred
1631 KLB SS MD

Posted by: BlogStats | August 14, 2007 10:13 AM

To ziggy, I would like to point out two items from your posts: 1 - you said you personally didn't feel any threat or job to your employment from immigrants. That was my point, partly; that it's easy to be pro-immigrant and pro Emma Lazuras when you personally are not harmed. Secondly, in your last post you implied that we should let "everyone" in, just because there was a lot of empty space and opportunity here in the 19th century. What do you mean by "everyone"? Do other countries let "everyone" move there?

Posted by: skylark1 | August 14, 2007 10:15 AM

i agree there is a lot of prejudice, assumptions and generalizations characterizing the discussions about immigration.

unfortunately this latent and overt racism obscures the bigger issues, of how to continue to allow immigration (which this country has always needed and supported) without overburdening current residents.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 14, 2007 10:15 AM

I knew it would generate controversy but I didn't expect people to completely miss the point of my blog. I didn't say everyone at the park was illegal. There was just a wonderful mixture of language and culture that is threatened by the methods used to combat illegal immigration.

I do think that the county's vote to restrict access to public services will have a chilling effect on civic participation by legal and illegal immigrants because they will feel unwelcome and targets of discrimination. My husband after 25 years here and a PhD still has a strong accent--should he carry his green card at all times to avoid harrasment? Will my Latino son with beautiful black eyes and brown skin, born in the USA, be pulled over more frequently by police for questioning? What if it turns out his friends are illegal immigrants and they are pulled over in Prince William county for "credible" suspicion? Is my son a criminal for taking friends to a soccer game to play in a public park? This is what I fear from the County's approach to combating illegal immigration...discrimination, harrassment and segregation.

Posted by: samclare | August 14, 2007 10:16 AM

barfster:

"And while we're on the topic of legal/illegal status, maybe each poster should tell us who let his or her ancestors into America... in my case, my ancestors who arrived in 1680 didn't ask the locals' permission."

___________________________

Okay, I'll take a crack at it. This is what I know; I'm sure there's a bunch I don't know.

On my father's side, my grandfather came from Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1914. His family had been subsistence farmers there for a couple of hundred years, according to the records in the parish church. (Being on the losing side of the French and Indian Wars in the mid-1700's, they had pretty much kept to their own community. Heck, Grandpa always called it l'Isle de St Jean-Batiste.) Since he wasn't in line to inherit the family farm, it was time to move on.

He moved to Maine, and married my grandmother there. She was a member of the Plains Cree tribe, mixed with some German and Dutch. Don't know the proportions; the genealogist on that side of the family says that most of the family members were alcoholics, ministers or both, so the records aren't trustworthy.

On my mother's side, my grandfather came from Sonora, Mexico in 1922. It's my grandmother's side that came over in the 1600s without the permission of the locals. (The genealogist on that side of the family supposedly traces the line back to an illegitimate child of Lord Nelson, by way of Ireland.)

Good enough?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 10:16 AM

"And in case you are wondering, my family came here legally"

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the US had comparatively few laws regulating immigration, ergo fewer opportunities for immmigrants to violate laws while entering the US.

OTOH, a good many of these technically legal immigrants came here, shall we say, "clandestinely," which I suspect some Americans even then resented. And the majority of these immigrants were illiterate even in their native language and spoke little if any English upon arrival (if they ever learned much of it). Even their American-born children often spoke their parents' native tongue as a second language (a phenomenon that still frequently occurs, as children often have to interpret for their parents).

A visit to the Ellis Island, or to its website, is informative about the history of immigration to the US.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:17 AM

ProudPapa and catlady, I didn't realize I was being unclear. Sorry. The problem, of course, is that they don't have IDs, green cards, licenses, whatever. When I break the law, I can easily be tracked down. When illegals break the law, they are much harder to track. The solution is for them to be given IDs. Ideally, we would make them legal, but a band-aid might be to issue "illegal status" cards or something like that.

Obviously those illegal acts I listed are committed by all citizens as well as illegal immigrants. I assumed that went without saying. My stepmother, a Colombian native, has a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of illegal immigrants. In her words, those are some of the problems plaging the immigrant community. It might be attributed to the fact that the law really has no recourse if illegal immigrants break laws because they are not documented.

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 10:20 AM

Just an FYI for everyone blaming "Mexican" immigrants. The majority of the Spanish-speaking population who emigrate to this area are from El Salvador and Guatamala. Get your facts straight before you start labeling.

Posted by: smc68 | August 14, 2007 10:22 AM

And Irishgirl74, it's pretty naive to think that the United States is the only country immigrants are flocking to, we are not taking care of the whole world (immigrationally speaking).

I didn't address immigration in other countries because I thought we were talking about this country. I also didn't say we were the only country having this issue. There are lots of other developed countries who are having problems with illegal immigration as well. I don't think I am being naïve; I was just trying to speak to the topic at hand, but apparently that makes me naïve and a racist, so I will come back on "white racist day"

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:22 AM

To ziggy, I would like to point out two items from your posts: 1 - you said you personally didn't feel any threat or job to your employment from immigrants. That was my point, partly; that it's easy to be pro-immigrant and pro Emma Lazuras when you personally are not harmed. Secondly, in your last post you implied that we should let "everyone" in, just because there was a lot of empty space and opportunity here in the 19th century. What do you mean by "everyone"? Do other countries let "everyone" move there?

Posted by: skylark1 | August 14, 2007 10:15 AM

Most jobs aren't threatened by illegal immigration. Do you work in fast food? Do you work in janitorial services? Do you pick fruit/vegetables? Engineers aren't sneaking across the border. And would you do their job for $4 or $5 an hour? No you wouldn't. But guess what, when a company can pay someone that crappy salary to do a job they will. And if we "let everyone in" or legalize the employment in this country, we'll force employers to pay these people minimum wage. Then they will be just as likely to hire you or me because we'll all cost the same at that point. Yes I think we ought to find a way to "let everyone in." I.E.,increase the "quotas" for latino immigrants and let them work and be residents for seven years before applying for citizenship. As it is now, the opportunity for them to do that isn't there, hence why they're all illegal and apparently ruining your life.

Do other countries let everyone in? No, likely not. But this discussion is about America. If I want to argue French immigration I'll learn French and go hop on a French blog.

Oh and I wasn't saying we should let everyone in "because" there was a whole lot of empty space and opportunity in the 19th century. Actually, if you look at 19th century legislation you'll see the ruling elites at that time were VERY against immigration, especially by what were at the time ethnic minorities. There were fears the national language would become german or italian. They were afraid all these immigrants were going to come in and take their jobs, take their opportunity, and take the land that they wanted. Those that stuck around were willing to take the scraps we left them which were at the time the vast stretches of land in the west where no "civilized" person wanted to live. Well guess what, there are still scraps left.

The country isn't falling apart. The oceans aren't drying up, bridges aren't falling into rivers, hurricanes aren't flooding entire cities, and we aren't tied up in some long lasting war where terrorists are slaughtering our young men and women. Oh, well uh, everything but that last paragraph...

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 10:25 AM

Meesh, I imagine one of the problems your stepmother has observed in her non-profit work is the exploitation of illegal immigrants, since they cannot report crimes or employment violations they suffer to the authorities without risking jailing or deportation themselves. I assume illegals are sometimes taken advantage of by "real" Americans precisely for this reason. Could you please share some examples from your stepmother's experience (without violating anyone's privacy, of course)?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:26 AM

ArmyBrat

"The genealogist on that side of the family supposedly traces the line back to an illegitimate child of Lord Nelson, by way of Ireland."

This is America, who cares about Lord Nelson?

If we are going to make laundry lists of family lines( without running a whole bunch of DNA tests), I have it on the very best authority that I direct descendent of Aadam & Eve.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 10:27 AM

Proud Papa -- I am glad to hear you say that. At the time I was mortified beyond description that someone in the meeting thought I'd made a racist statement and it was taken very seriously by my firm and there was a complaint investigation, even though the ED at the time told me he was personally certain I'd meant nothing racist at all.

Ziggymiles -- as I've said before, I don't know the solution to the illegal alien problem, but I am certain it isn't to just open the doors and let everyone in. Our social services could not withstand the demands. In the span of a few decades, I could see that America would go from being the place everyone wants to be to the place no one even wants to visit. Is there another country that lets everyone in? I'm curious.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 14, 2007 10:31 AM

I think ziggymiles is off-base. The problem with letting 'everyone' in is that this is no longer the country it was in the 19th century. We need to live in the present; we can't continue to do what we have always done just because we have always done it.

As I said before, our country has every right to control the flow of immigrants and visitors. We can debate the proper number of allowable immigrants from each country or hemisphere; we can discuss criteria, visa types and durations; but to say we should allow anyone in just because my ancestors came here from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France in the early 1800s and were allowed to stay is not logical. I suppose they were lucky in that regard (although I'm sure that leaving a country because they still were abusing and discriminating against Catholics might not be considered so lucky in their opinion -- and I'm VERY sure the ones fleeing the Reign of Terror would have preferred to have lived in another era).

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 10:32 AM

Wow, it takes a lot of nerve to say

"my formerly solidly middle class neighborhood is being completely destroyed by the illegal rooming houses, yards overflowing with junk cars, etc.

Actually, PP it takes some nerve to cry racism at every turn and pretend that everyone is just a nice middle class person. Illegal immigrants are generally poorer and do things like this.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:33 AM

Ziggymiles, the restrictive anti-immigration legislation to which you refer wasn't passed till 1924. True, there existed raging prejudice by Anglo Protestants against all others unlike themselves (other immigrants, native Americans and (ex-)slaves) for as long as the latter three groups have been here. However, immigrants were pouring into the US for a good 60-70 years before the government severely stemmed the tide with strict quotas. It was only in the late 1950s that these quotas began to be lifted.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:34 AM

I hear many people complaining that the problem with immigraion is not that people are immigrants, but rather that they are illegal immigrants. So they claim that the allegations of racism are not deserved, because of course, their problem is with illegal immigrants, not legal ones. But truly, how do they know that the people they are referring to are illegal, and in truth, do we really know what proportion of the immigrants in this country are illegal versus legal?

The fact of the matter is that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, have different lifestyles than Americans. They tend to have larger families, and they tend to fit more people into their modest houses or apartments. This has nothing to do with their legal status here. It is simply part of what they do to live more affordably and help each other out. And it bothers Americans, who are used to living mostly within their small nuclear families.

Immigrants also tend to speak their own language for a few generations, whether or not they are legal or illegal. I have been a legal immigrant all my life, and I speak Spanish at home with my parents. When we have large family gatherings, the older generations speak Spanish to each other and the children, and the children speak English to each other. The fact that we speak our native language does not make us illegal.

But many people, in their ignorance, will assume that because we are speaking Spanish, or because some of us have multiple generations of extended family living in the same home, or because some of us are brown skinned rather than white, or because some of us work in construction or as housekeepers and nannies, that we are illegal. To such people, immigrant is a bad word, and illegal is simply a tag that they use to justify, without much foundation, their disdain for people who come from other countries and cultures and who speak different languages. In the end, we don't know what proportion of the population is illegal. We don't know that the family next door who listens to salsa and has 10 people living in it are illegals. We just assume that they are, because it gives us a convenient excuse to look down on them.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 10:35 AM

newhere, nice comment (sarcasm intended). I was simply responding to earlier challenge to share with the blog who let our ancestors in (legally or otherwise).

And my son tells me that his Catholic high school teaches that the Adam and Eve stuff is a parable, so he (and I) would really doubt your claim of descent.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 10:38 AM

We don't know that the family next door who listens to salsa and has 10 people living in it are illegals. We just assume that they are, because it gives us a convenient excuse to look down on them.


ALERT*ALERT* BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL ALERT*

Hide your tax dollars, close the blinds,let go of your logic, you are entering the PC Twilight zone, where all common sense and reason are non existent.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:40 AM

You know what? I get tired of people on this blog ~acting~ as if they have been called racist sometimes.

I wanted to vent that. Because it has gone back to they very early beginnings of this forum.

Somebody makes a statement that could be interpreted as racially charged. Person 2 says that statement could be taken as racist. Instead of the first person saying, "hey please objectively explain how someone could interpret that as racist", the first person declares that they have been called a racist and storms off in a huff.

This is part of the reason we have such a hard time discussing race in this country. People on both sides fall back on insisting they are being attacked rather than actually having a debate.

Some folks were discussing rap music in this space last week and I was accused of indicating that another reader could not understand hip hop culture because that participant is white. That's just silly. No one who knows anything about hip hop would say white people couldn't understand it because of the skin color. But hey, it's an easy crutch to act like someone has slandered you.

Sorry for the rant.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 10:40 AM

All that I will say is that I absolutely LOVE the division this creates on the right. Go read what the Cato Institute has to say. As good little Libertarians, they abhor borders and believe in the free movement of people. Then go read the Heritage Foundation. As good little Karl-Rove-lovers, they hate these slimy foreigners that think they can get into this great country of ours. Let them fight it out. For those of us that are pragmatic, and like to deal with the real world, we all know what the solution is. Peace out.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 10:41 AM

catlady, you are absolutely right about them being taken advantage of. She told me a story about two young men who were day laborers who were taken to a construction site, worked 9 hours, and never payed or given a ride home. One had seriously injured his hand, but the guy who hired them wouldn't take him to the hospital. So that's part of what they do at her nonprofit. They have some lawyers who have offered pro bono work to press charges on behalf of the illegals. The organization was also instrumental in starting a grassroots campaign against drunk driving geared toward the immigrant population. In Hispanic culture, there is "machismo." This "bravery" contributes to drunk driving because men won't admit weakness by saying they've had too much to drink or that they're not able to drive. The campaign uses bumper stickers and flyers saying (en espanol, por supuesto) "Don't be stupid, man. Don't drink and drive!"

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 10:41 AM

Nice topic

Posted by: tom22 | August 14, 2007 10:41 AM

"ALERT*ALERT* BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL ALERT*

Hide your tax dollars, close the blinds,let go of your logic, you are entering the PC Twilight zone, where all common sense and reason are non existent."

I just barfed. Since you have loads of experience cleaning this in your pwecious car, why don't you make yourself useful and go clean it up!

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 10:45 AM

Patrick,
When you actually have said something worth listening to, I will consider discussing it with you. Until then, you are officially on my stupid troll list, and I will ignore your idiot rantings.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 10:46 AM

Emily wrote, astutely: "To such people, immigrant is a bad word, and illegal is simply a tag that they use to justify, without much foundation, their disdain for people who come from other countries and cultures and who speak different languages."

A crucial question is, how can anyone tell illegal from legal immigrants just by looking and listening? Answer: No one can. So what potentially happens is that even legal immigrants (even if naturalized citizens) run the risk of suffering anti-immigrant prejudice, too, whether in employment, housing, shopping, public gatherings, and just about any other social situation.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:47 AM

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 10:46 AM

And you are on my silly bleeding heart liberal list, so big deal.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:47 AM

Emily, I object to your stereotyping. In the part of Howard County with which I am most familiar, there are far more immigrants from Korea, India, and other areas of Asia than from Latin America. (In fact, you can get the elementary school newsletter sent home in Korean, Urdu, and Hindu as well as English and Spanish.) So, with that in mind, let's take a look at parts of your post:

"The fact of the matter is that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, have different lifestyles than Americans."

In some ways, yes. In others, not so different. You're stereotyping "Americans" as middle-class to upper-middle-class, suburban residents.

"They tend to have larger families, and they tend to fit more people into their modest houses or apartments."

Clearly not the case with the Koreans and Indians around here.

"This has nothing to do with their legal status here. It is simply part of what they do to live more affordably and help each other out. And it bothers Americans, who are used to living mostly within their small nuclear families."

Again, you're stereotyping "Americans".

"Immigrants also tend to speak their own language for a few generations, whether or not they are legal or illegal."

I'll agree with that. That's why the elementary school newsletter is available in different languages, and yes my kids have a number of friends whose parents do not speak English well.

"I have been a legal immigrant all my life, and I speak Spanish at home with my parents. When we have large family gatherings, the older generations speak Spanish to each other and the children, and the children speak English to each other. The fact that we speak our native language does not make us illegal."

Agree.

My brand new next-door neighbors are a Korean family with two small children. The parents arrived (legally) last year and do not speak English well; we communicate with them as well as we can and we can usually get the point across.

The neighbors they replaced were Iranian; that was the family where the father (already out of the Federal pen on parole) tried to kill the mother and almost succeeded; he's in the state pen; she's on life support and the three kids are attending a residential school in Pennsylvania.

Before that, the neighbors were a US-born caucasian couple who rented out their basement to help make the payments; there were six adults living there at one point.

So please watch your stereotypes.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 10:48 AM

I believe that when people speak about illegal immigrants putting a strain on "public services", they are thinking along the lines of the health and education system.

Not the park system. You clearly live in a bubble.

Posted by: lolotkg | August 14, 2007 10:50 AM

Emily wrote, astutely: "To such people, immigrant is a bad word, and illegal is simply a tag that they use to justify, without much foundation, their disdain for people who come from other countries and cultures and who speak different languages."

Actually, this is not true. It is merely her leftist dogma. People are tired of illegals draining this country and people like Emily don't have the cojones to do anything about it because they are mortally afraid of being called racist, regardless of the consequences of illegal immigration.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:51 AM

pATRICK, Do you find different perspectives in Texas re Hispanic immigrants (legal or otherwise) owing to your proximity to the US's southern border? A person living along our northern border might be more directly affected by, believe it or not, a sizable influx of illegal Canadian immigrants.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:53 AM

Proud Papa -- Why do you think people react the way they do when someone calls them racist? Speaking for myself, the complaint that was filed at my firm caused me tremendous anxiety (almost terror) and a huge amount of introspection as I tried to determine if I was really what I'd been called -- a racist. I was horrified that someone (granted someone who barely knew me) would think that, I was afraid I would lose my job, and since it was Washington DC, I was seriously scared it would end up in court because of my position within the firm. I did not engage in debate with the person making the complaint because I was terrified and literally afraid to open my mouth for fear of being misconstrued -- never mind the fact that the firm's attorney and diversity committee instructed both of us to have no "unsupervised" contact with each other until the complaint had been thoroughly investigated. As I said, the complaint was found to be without merit, but I don't know how I could have handled things differently. It still upsets me to this day to think about it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 14, 2007 10:53 AM

We can argue back and forth about anecdotes all day long. "My next-door-neighbor is an illegal and they have 20 children pooping on the lawn all day long." "My next-door neighbor is a God-loving American and fought in 20 wars to save this country." Blah blah blah. Please read the actual research on the net impact of immigration. Plenty of think tanks have looked into this. Put aside your knee-jerk reactions and look at the overall evidence. If you can't do that, then just admit that you have prior beliefs that won't be changed even if obvious evidence hits you in your protruding forehead.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 10:55 AM

pATRICK - Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly are having a tea party and are wondering what happened to you. They're at your favorite place, THE NO SPIN ZONE. Don't worry, only white people allowed and no one calling you racist.

ArmyBrat: you as white, "Lord Nelson" descendant - careful who you chide about steretypes. Emily is going off of vast personal experience for her own family. You citing a few more personal examples that go against some general statements is just more personal experience, and doesn't make you any better of a person.

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Proud papa,

You are completely out of line with your post. I left the conversation because I don't want to go back and forth with posters that this is a race issue because for me it is not. I was being sarcastic when I said I would come back for white racist day because I feel that when talking about illegal immigration many people feel that if you are not for it, it is because you are racist. It really had nothing to do with anything that was posted to me today on the post, but rather, conversations I have had with my more liberal friends and people I have watched on TV. I saw the blog going in that direction and did not want to be involved with it.

I was going to continue to read the blog because I find this topic interesting when I saw your post. But just to make you feel better, I have been called racist on here in the past.

As for your other post about "the no snitching" trend, you never replied to me, so we could not discuss it in further detail. However, I did apologize for offending you because I really did not mean too.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Proud papa,

You are completely out of line with your post. I left the conversation because I don't want to go back and forth with posters that this is a race issue because for me it is not. I was being sarcastic when I said I would come back for white racist day because I feel that when talking about illegal immigration many people feel that if you are not for it, it is because you are racist. It really had nothing to do with anything that was posted to me today on the post, but rather, conversations I have had with my more liberal friends and people I have watched on TV. I saw the blog going in that direction and did not want to be involved with it.

I was going to continue to read the blog because I find this topic interesting when I saw your post. But just to make you feel better, I have been called racist on here in the past.

As for your other post about "the no snitching" trend, you never replied to me, so we could not discuss it in further detail. However, I did apologize for offending you because I really did not mean to.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Actually, this is not true. It is merely her leftist dogma. People are tired of illegals draining this country and people like Emily don't have the cojones to do anything about it because they are mortally afraid of being called racist, regardless of the consequences of illegal immigration.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:51 AM

What would Jesus do? I presume He has sufficient cojones to handle the matter.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 10:57 AM

pATRICK - Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly are having a tea party and are wondering what happened to you. They're at your favorite place, THE NO SPIN ZONE. Don't worry, only white people allowed and no one calling you racist.

I am for LEGAL immigration if that is heavily hispanic, then fine. I am NOT for letting people in this country illegally. I detest reading people who usually are hispanic crying racism about ILLEGAL immigration. When they do this it makes them look like ,to hell with the law, I am hispanic first and screw america.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 11:00 AM

Clare -- I agree it seems most everyone has missed your point about diversity and immigration being very valuable, on many levels. prejudice hurts a lot of innocent people. what we are seeing today on this blog -- a lot of passionate (and some well thought out) opinions about the pros/cons of immigration -- is what clouds our national debates. but the fact that everyone cares so much (another kind of diversity -- diversity of opinion) is also the good news here.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 14, 2007 11:01 AM


Leslie, I disagree entirely with you. I don't think many people have missed Clare's point about diversity and immigration being valuable. I haven't seen anyone arguing otherwise.

I'll say it out loud: Diversity is a good thing. I'm proud to be part-Mexican, part-Native American, part French-Canadian, and part-pretty-much-every-country-in-Europe. I'm glad that my kids went to one of the most diverse elementary schools in Maryland. I'm glad that they've had the chance to interact with people from other cultures, to learn about people who speak other languages, belong to other religions (or no religion at all), eat different foods, etc.

Now, what does that have to do with illegal immigration?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 11:07 AM

pATRICK, Do you find different perspectives in Texas re Hispanic immigrants (legal or otherwise) owing to your proximity to the US's southern border? A person living along our northern border might be more directly affected by, believe it or not, a sizable influx of illegal Canadian immigrants.


I guess. We don't have to many canadians sneaking across the border in Texas. What we do have are violent smuggling rings that are turning border towns into the wild west. These criminal elements are also involved heavily in drug trafficking.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 11:10 AM

ziggymiles, do you have a point? I never claimed to be a "better person" than Emily or anyone else.

Emily posted a message that I thought contained substantial stereotypes about "immigrants" and "Americans". I responded by pointing out that there are other "immigrants" that didn't fit her stereotypes, and "Americans" that don't fit her stereotypes either.

My point was that we have to realize that there are many different types of "immigrants" and "Americans", and we need to understand that to solve the problems that currently exist.

Now, did you have a point?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 11:25 AM

"Emily posted a message that I thought contained substantial stereotypes about "immigrants" and "Americans". I responded by pointing out that there are other "immigrants" that didn't fit her stereotypes, and "Americans" that don't fit her stereotypes either."

Of course there are exceptions to every stereotype. Duh!! But that does not mean that some generalizations are not valid. And I should have specified that I was mostly talking about Hispanic immigrants, because my experience is mostly with this group.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 11:30 AM

Show of hands, please:

1. How many posters here would like to earn 10 times (or more) their present income, at least for a few years?

2. What if, in order to achieve this, you had to live for a while in another country?

3. What if you furthermore had to run the risks associated with living there illegally?

4. At what point would the risks cease to be worth it?

5. If you chose not to immigrate to the US illegally because it was illegal and dangerous, what kind of prospects would you have for rising out of Third World poverty in your home nation?

So, what the situation really boils down to is that poverty is what's driving most of the illegal immigration to the US. After all, I suspect there are proportionately a lot fewer illegals here from, say, Switzerland or Sweden ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 11:32 AM

ArmyBrat, why is it that in your response to Emily, and several follow-up posts, you only refer to the white couple as "Americans"?

Posted by: jkpage | August 14, 2007 11:33 AM

Unless you are native American, you're a immigrant. We all came from some place else, so get off you racism high horse. Your an immigrant too.

Posted by: minzesm1 | August 14, 2007 11:36 AM

Mehitabel I think you are right on.

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 11:37 AM

Whether you agree or not with views posted here, do you find this discussion interesting and helpful? I do.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 14, 2007 11:48 AM

I don't agree with illegal immigration for a number of reasons, but one thing that sticks in my mind is my experience living in southern Arizona. A few years back, the news in that area was that many local hospitals had to shut down or cut back services because of illegal immigrants (and uninsured) using the hospitals and not being able to pay. This put a strain on the local health system and increased reliance on the hospitals in the bigger cities. I also saw friends' property that was littered with trash and human excrement from 'immigrants' crossing the border. Yes, the desire to improve one's life is universal, I don't deny that. However, people who cannot/will not use the proper channels to immigrate legally make a mockery of everyone.

Posted by: kimverb | August 14, 2007 11:48 AM

Whether you agree or not with views posted here, do you find this discussion interesting and helpful? I do.

Posted by: leslie | August 14, 2007 11:48 AM

No. This is hardly a new topic in America. It's the same old yadda, yadda.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 11:53 AM

pATRICK:

"Actually, PP it takes some nerve to cry racism at every turn and pretend that everyone is just a nice middle class person. Illegal immigrants are generally poorer and do things like this.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:33 AM"

pATRICK - please back up your statements.
1) "it takes some nerve to cry racism at every turn" (please provide a source or a proof point)
2) "it takes some nerve to...pretend that everyone is just a nice middle class person" (please cite a reference for someone pretending this)
3) "Illegal immigrants...do things like this. " (please provide a source or a proof point that shows illegal immigrants do "things like this" more than legal immigrants or american born citizens)

I am not saying you are wrong. That remains to be seen. I am just requesting data to back up your claims.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 11:53 AM

kimverb makes an important point, namely that our southern border states, simply by virtue of their location, bear a disproportionate share of the NATIONAL burden on social infrastructure. This is a good example of a situation that's not best handled on the local level, but rather federally.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 11:54 AM

Hmmmm..."Pooping all over the lawn..." sort of like what Bababooey does on this forum. Would someone please take a pooper scooper and baggie to him?

People complaining about "illegal Latinos" hogging the space in Northern Virginia parks may wish to add "renters" to the list. Northern Virgnia parks are largely funded through property taxes. If you are not a homeowner, or if you don't own an expensive vehicle, then you're not paying for yoru use of the parks.

Posted by: angelos_peter | August 14, 2007 11:57 AM

jkpage:

"ArmyBrat, why is it that in your response to Emily, and several follow-up posts, you only refer to the white couple as "Americans"?"

This, sir or madam, is a lie.

Please cite one instance where I did this.

In the original response to Emily's post, I called the couple in question a "US-born caucasian couple". That is indeed what they were. I specifically did not use the term "American" because Americans can be US-born or they can be foreign-born.

Every subsequent use of the term "American" by me was in quotes in response to the way Emily used it, where she cited "immigrants" vs "Americans". It in no way referred to the discussion of my neighbors.

To repeat: jkpage, your post is a lie.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 11:57 AM

"If you are not a homeowner... then you're not paying for yoru use of the parks."

Actually, renters pay their landlords' property taxes as part of their rent.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 11:59 AM

I have to agree with newhere that discussion today is neither interesting nor helpful. People have already made up their minds on the topic of both legal and illegal immigration. It is a polarizing topic. Why do you think Congress recently failed to pass the immigration reform package? Both sides are passionate about their positions, and there is no room for compromise. I highly doubt anyone's position will change as a result of today's blog discussion.

Posted by: tprescott | August 14, 2007 12:02 PM

I think we have 2 different discussions on immigration, and they often get mixed up.

One topic is illegal immigration. I don't think anyone is for that. The solution, of course, might be different according to your particular viewpoint (close the border and deport illegals versus amnesty and make legal immigration more accessible or something in between). But whatever you think must be done, I tend to believe that no one is saying that the current situation with illegal immigration is good for anyone, including illegal immigrants.

The second discussion is more nuanced, and stems from the idea that many of the trappings of immigration, including things like crowded housing conditions, cultural differences, overburdened infrastructure, crime, poverty, etc. are primarily caused by illegal immigrants. The truth is that these things are part and parcel of immigration itself, and not solely the result of illegal immigration. So the movement to close off certain services to illegal immigrants will not really fix the conditions that people are complaining about, and instead, result in stigmatizing immigrants in general, even when they are legal, and even when they are American. Wrongly assuming that certain conditions are the direct result of illegal immigration will solve no problems, and will only serve to scapegoat groups of people who are different, whether racially or culturally. If you want to fix the problems inherent in immigration, such as poverty, lack of education, and crime, then you have to find other measures that strive to include and educate immigrants, rather than shutting them out and isolating them even further.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM

Here's another question: What do you do if your child makes friends with a classmate who's an illegal immigrant?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM

"People complaining about "illegal Latinos" hogging the space in Northern Virginia parks may wish to add "renters" to the list. Northern Virgnia parks are largely funded through property taxes. If you are not a homeowner, or if you don't own an expensive vehicle, then you're not paying for yoru use of the parks."

Since you don't seem to have a handle on the use of sarcasm, I can't tell if your post is serious or not. But please tell me it's not. Surely you have just a basic knowledge of economics. Property taxes are reflected in rental rates genius.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM

Catlady, to play the devil's advocate, lots of crime in this country and in other countries is born of poverty. The difference is that we don't look the other way when people are selling drugs or stealing. But we allow illegal immigrants a free pass. This is a double standard and completely unfair.

I understand the poverty in some of the places immigrants are coming from. I've seen it with my own eyes. It is not the people's fault--it is the fault of the government for not providing for its people. However, there are legal chanels to enter the U.S. When there are legal channels to success, the illegal channels are wrong. I think we need to reform our immigration policy to make it easier for legal immigration, but for now it's what we have to work with.

Okay, now I really have to work.

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 12:06 PM

There is nothing wrong with immigration - in fact, that is one of the greatest aspects of American society - the great "melting pot" and we are lucky to live in a diverse society.

ILLEGAL immigration is a different story, not because illegal immigrants are less moral or worse individuals than Americans, but because generally speaking they do not pay taxes and do not have access to health insurance and drain our social services, etc. But am I in the minority in that I don't blame the individuals as much as I blame employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants and weak government policies that don't allow for temporary work visas for certain types of labor?

Let's face it, we are all to blame to a certain extent because we want cheap products and accordingly we need cheap labor to produce those products. But at the same time we want these products to be made by "Americans" - not illegal immigrants or shipped overseas. At some point, something is going to have to give.

Posted by: londonmom | August 14, 2007 12:09 PM

mehitabel, how old is the child in question? And how do you know the friend is an illegal immigrant?

I'm asking seriously, because I think my answer differs based on whether my kid is 6 or 18 (because my kid has different levels of understanding).

The other question is because if I don't know the friend is an illegal immigrant, the question might be moot.

The answer is NOT "run report this to the authorities and get this family deported."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 12:10 PM

"Here's another question: What do you do if your child makes friends with a classmate who's an illegal immigrant?"

Truly, how would you know. Would you ask to see the kid's green card of birth certificate before a play date?

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 12:10 PM

bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM

Wait a minute did bababooey666 actually post something that makes sense?!

Posted by: noname1 | August 14, 2007 12:13 PM

Meesh, the main problem with is that it takes so long (sometimes 8-10 years) to get clearance to immigrate to the US legally -- while life (and the poverty that the applicants are suffering) goes on in the meantime. Too often a potential legal immigrant would simply run out of patience with the present system.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 12:14 PM

I liked clare's post because it focuses on the GOOD things about immigration. I always hear about the bad things-- the depleted resources, the increased crime, etc. that it is wonderful to hear someone voice appreciation for the various immigration communities. If I had heard about this plan to limit park use to citizens and legal immigrants, I probably would have been opposed to it anyway. But my opposition would have been rooted more in the "hassle" and delay that I would expect such a scheme would cause ME (i.e., "great-- now I have to remember to bring a passport to prove citizenship laong with the bug spray and sunscreen"), not so much because of the greater loss-- the bigger picture that Clare's post paints.

So many people seem to complain about immigrants failing to integrate into American society-- but how can this actually happen if the can't participate in our "Typical American" activities like going to the beach with the family for a picnic?

Posted by: baby-work | August 14, 2007 12:15 PM

"Truly, how would you know. Would you ask to see the kid's green card of birth certificate before a play date?"

C'mon Emily. Haven't you been reading some of these posts?? If the kid is a little on the brown side, and if he sounds ominously like Speedy Gonzales, then he's an illegal immigrant. My kid was playing with a small child one day and as soon as that child uttered "Andale! Andale!" I was on the phone to CSIS. You can't be too careful!!!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Bababooey,
Of course your're right.

By the way, I retract my post yesterday saying your were an alter ego of CBC. Sorry for slandering you.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 12:21 PM

Oops. Make that the USCIS. Would have been easier if they had stuck to INS.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 14, 2007 12:21 PM

"Truly, how would you know. Would you ask to see the kid's green card of birth certificate before a play date?"

How to make friends for Dummies.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 12:22 PM

Actually, PP it takes some nerve to cry racism at every turn and pretend that everyone is just a nice middle class person.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 10:33 AM

pATRICK's posts PROVE that everyone is not a nice middle class person. Speaking of fear, pATRICK is afraid to admit that "nice" and "middle class" are not synonyms. A little more Sunday School attendance might teach him that Jesus directed us to look at what is in a person's heart rather than his bank balance in order to determine whether his character was as it should be.

Posted by: gcoward | August 14, 2007 12:25 PM

Down here in NC there is a growing awareness and resentment of the illegal immigrants in the state. Several of the small, rural farming communities have found their original population, in fact, outnumbered with a sudden influx of immigrants (illegal, legal, who knows?), and it is causing no small amount of problems.

Just in the last few months here in Raleigh, in fact, there have been several prostitution rings broken up involving illegal immigrants, at least 4 crashes with fatalities involving drunk immigrants (again, legal, illegal, who knows?), and an upsweep in crime of various types involving the Latino population.

Every day in the paper or on TV you can read/see stories involving suspects with Hispanic names; again, legal, illegal, who knows?

At the same time, however, you look around at all the construction sites, and what do you see? Hispanic men, building houses, businesses, landscaping, whatever. Legal? Illegal? Who knows? Same with lawn care businesses; our subdivision employs one that has a team of Hispanic men to maintain the common areas; are they illegal? Who knows?

Now go look at the farms; NC has a HUGE population of migrant farm workers who tend and pick the food every one of us buy and eat from the grocery stores. Most of them are illegal; the farmers pay them cash and provide them subsistence housing so they stay out of the government's eye, and they're willing to work for a lot less than a legal citizen would accept.

Take a look at the streets in Raleigh; there are a LOT of businesses that have multi-language signs, both English and Spanish, because they know there's a growing Hispanic population here and they want to cater to them. Some do more than that, in fact; when the ONLY sign in the storefront is in Spanish, it's obvious who their customers are.

What am I saying? I guess what I'm saying is this country does have an illegal immigration problem, but building a fence isn't going to solve it. Neither is conducting house to house searches, or asking for "papers" to prove your citizenship, or just opening our arms and saying "come one, come all" either.

It's a difficult issue but one that needs to discussed openly and honestly by all parties to try and find something that will work.

Posted by: johnl | August 14, 2007 12:28 PM

Emily wrote: "Would you ask to see the kid's green card of birth certificate before a play date?"

LOL!

But seriously, Emily, you hit on a crucial point, namely re anti-immigrant backlash in general. Legal immigrants are often automatically suspected of being illegals just because they're immigrants, because they resemble the illegals.

An employer might decide to avoid the risks of hiring illegals by not hiring any immigrants whatsoever, or anyone at all of a particular ethnicity or race associated in the public mind with illegal immigration -- even if that person is a legal resident, or a native or naturalized American citizen.

Extending this logic, I worry that some children will be carefully taught (to cite the song in "South Pacific") by their "good American" parents to avoid making friends with children of backgrounds publicly associated with illegal immigration, whether a small child playing with a fellow preschooler or a schoolmate, or a teenager dating a classmate.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 12:35 PM

I am appalled at the bigotry so often seen in these blogs. I do understand frustrations with cultural differences, but they are just as pervasive between north and south, east and west, as between north america and south america.

My husband is an illegal immigrant. Guess what? He lives in Your middle class neighborhood, mows the grass, keeps the music down, works 10 hours a day, AND HE PAYS TAXES!! Imagine working illegally, paying into social security, medicaid, etc and perhaps NEVER seeing that money again. He pays your retirement people! As do many illegals. They OWN homes!

My husband cannot change his status to become a legal resident because the laws have changed. Used to be you could pay $1,000's in fines and wait here. Now you can't. You can't pay and you have to leave for 10 YEARS! I love him too much, so if it comes down to it, you'll loose an
"American" citizen. But really, there is no difference between him and me; except a piece of paper.

I know plenty of US Citizens that I'd like to have deported.

Posted by: stilldoinhim | August 14, 2007 12:45 PM

No one mentions all those people here legally. Who have to jump through hoops, pay loads of money, and they're sitting and waiting for the next step in the process. But somehow we want to just allow people here, who broke the law, to stay? To get some sort of visa? Above those who have been following the rules for years? That, somehow, doesn't seem fair.

And when people say: but those are jobs Americans (or others here legally) don't want - then I say: Well, then pay what people are willing to do the job for - so our prices will go up, but they will reflect more of reality. Cause now, yeah, the prices for certain things might be lower, but you are certainly paying for it, by having illegals using the system for things (like, breaking the law - i.e., criminal acts once they are here).

You broke the law in coming here, we've been lax in enforcing it, but hey - everyone knew the day might come when they'd be kicked out of this country. There is wonderful diversity everywhere one turns here - by people here legally - really. And it should be celebrated, certainly.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 14, 2007 12:46 PM

stilldoinhim -- So you know plenty of US Citizens that I'd like to have deported? Too bad, guess what? They're LEGAL. Your husband is not. When the day comes (and it is coming) when he disappears and you don't know where he's gone and weeks later are contacted by him from his country of origin, maybe you'll realize what a stupid decision you made. Don't look for sympathy here. You are aiding and abetting a criminal. Face it.

Posted by: wtf | August 14, 2007 12:52 PM

Today's discussion has been at least implicitly focusing on impoverished illegal immigrants from south of the border.

However, there are also illegal immigrants to the US from other parts of the world. Canadians can simply drive or walk across our very long, sometimes porous northern border. They are typically undiscernible in appearance from Americans (read: WASP), and if like most Canadians they hail from within 100 miles of the US border, their accent and culture may not differ too greatly from those of our most northerly Americans. They're often here to work.

Illegal immigrant Europeans typically arrive in the US as airline passengers, entering as vacationing tourists, then obtaining employment and overstaying their deadline (some don't even initially intend to stay, except then they land jobs). Even if English isn't their native language, these illegal European immigrants may speak it a little (or more), have probably had at minimum a JHS or HS education, and are likely literate at least in their native language, which makes acquiring English easier.

Illegal immigrants from Asia may or may not be formally-educated as well as the illegal European tourists, but they also often enter the US (often with a west coast POE, due to geographic proximity) via jet as tourists, then get a job and stay on.

Not the usual illegal immigrant stereotypes.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 12:53 PM

"American" citizen. But really, there is no difference between him and me; except a piece of paper.


That's a good one. Keep telling yourself that.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 12:53 PM

I think illegal immigration works well enough for both immigrants and US citizens that it will continue long into the future.

It works for the immigrants who make a better living for themselves, even though they are treated as second class citizens. Eventually their offspring will become voting citizens and strengthen their cultural influence in their community.

It works for the consuming citizen who directly benefits from the cheap labor. Nannies, laborers, the cleaning lady...

It works for the employer. They can hire for unskilled labor positions that nobody wants to do anyway for little expense.

It works for the politicians. They can appease the voting public, and at the same time, not have to implement, or arbitrarily apply enforcement of the poor policy they create.

It seems silly to me to make laws that few have respect for, but I vote to keep the undocumented immigrants illegal, just as they are right now.

Say what you want, but watch and see how Congress will continue to kick the can down the road on this issue. Why? Because the system is working quite well. There are a few good reasons to change it, but not enough to positively impact our country as a whole.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 12:58 PM

"I know plenty of US Citizens that I'd like to have deported."

Indeed! Hrm. We need to send them somewhere far, far away though. Where? Not anywhere tropical. Let's reserve that for us! Hrm. Maybe Siberia? Or another planet? I'd be the first one to sign up my father-in-law. His use of the "N" word makes me want to bash his head in.

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 12:59 PM

Warning: This posting is nearly 60 lines long. Quit reading now, while you're ahead.

"I think we have 2 different discussions on immigration, and they often get mixed up."

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM

That's right. So let's look at the two discussions (in the reverse order from Emily's posting).

"The second discussion is more nuanced, and stems from the idea that many of the trappings of immigration, including things like crowded housing conditions, cultural differences, overburdened infrastructure, crime, poverty, etc. are primarily caused by illegal immigrants. The truth is that these things are part and parcel of immigration itself, and not solely the result of illegal immigration."

Compare two cities, one with lots of immigration over the past 50 years, and one with not so much immigration until fairly recently. New York City, for all the talk about "8 million New Yorkers," never really had that many. Seven, 7.3 million, and so forth -- and losing population to the suburbs, too. Then came the great wave of post-1960's immigration. I have seen the store signs under the El in Brooklyn, signs in Arabic (or Persian -- who can tell the difference?), signs in Urdu (or Hindi -- who can tell the difference?). And sure enough, by the 2,000 census, the population of the Five Boroughs had surpassed eight million for the first time ever. Immigrants have saved New York, as they saved it in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Now look at Baltimore, hon. Acres and acres of boarded-up houses. No one came to replace all the white folk who fled to Bel Air, or all the black folk who fled to Randallstown. And the city lost population, decade after decade. Now, as we see Koreans, Russians, Nigerians and Latinos filling up the empty spaces, we see hope for Baltimore.

"One topic is illegal immigration. . . .I tend to believe that no one is saying that the current situation with illegal immigration is good for anyone, including illegal immigrants." (Emily)

No one, Emily? Not even the employers who exploit the undocumented workers? It's good for them, all right! And therein lies the key to illegal immigration. There is not going to be any great nationwide sentiment for mass deportation because, let's face it, nearly all the newcomers are sympathetic people. What looks like anti-immigrant sentiment is, in many cases, nothing but thinly-disguised anti-Hispanic prejudice. Nor are the Administration's newly-proclaimed "fines of up to $10,000 if the worker's SSN is a no-match" anything more than a flash-in-the-pan publicity stunt. The big meat-packers and agribusiness and construction-industry exploiters will soon grind the Bush Administration's fines (notice, it says, "up to $10,000"; not "$10,000) into the dust. And if they don't do it, President Clinton ("P.C.") will rescind the fines in her first week in office in 2009.

If the employment of undocumented workers is hurting anyone, we ought to give the folks being hurt the right to sue. Congress passes, and enables the States to pass, laws creating a cause of action against the exploiters of undocumented workers. Who would the plaintiffs be? How about a rival company that wants to obey the law, but is being driven out of business by competitors who hire the undocumented at starvation wages? How about one of that company's workers who has just lost his job? How about a labor union whose members are being thrown out of jobs? How about one of the union's members? The laws would give the defendant 90 days to verify the legality of each of his employees. After that, the plaintiff collects statutory damages of $20,000 for each undocumented worker. And to make sure that enough lawsuits are filed to drive the exploiters out of their dirty business, the law would provide that 50% of that $20,000 goes to the plaintiff's attorney. There is nothing that American business fears more than the Trial Lawyers.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 14, 2007 1:01 PM

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 12:59 PM

Given your moniker and general snarkiness, Perhaps YOU should be the first to go.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:04 PM

In the same vein, I think before we can really focus on the immigration issue, we need to focus on the types of programs that are available to ALL citizens.

If the U.S. would change it's behavior of giving hand-outs to those who simply have kids to leech off the system, or use a disability to fraud companies (and making it harder for those who really do have one to get the same resources), we'd be in better shape.

I'm up for adopting Australia's philosophy of needing a valid reason to enter and live in the country. Contributing something, rather than leeching on a system is the way to go. And very innovative considering Australia was once the land where prisoners were banished to live.

The descendants of those prisoners took that land and made it something precious. We certainly can't say the same for what we did to the Native Americans, can we?

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 1:08 PM

I am totally perplexed- I have never, ever heard that the phrase "Calling a spade a spade" had any kind of racist overtones AT ALL. And I went to college, have a master's degree, etc. Are people just making this up? How could that phrase Possibly be racist??? It has nothing to do with race at all!

Posted by: floof | August 14, 2007 1:10 PM

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 12:59 PM

Given your moniker and general snarkiness, Perhaps YOU should be the first to go.

Posted by: pATRICK

Not a fan of Austin Powers, I take it? Oh well, that's ok. We all have our flaws!

:-)

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 1:10 PM

Every situation is unique, making the discussion on illegal immigration complex. Not all illegal immigrants are border jumpers. Among the undocumented, about 40 percent entered the United States with a legal temporary visa and then violated the terms of the visa. The majority of immigrants who overstay the terms of their visas or enter illegally do so because of the availability of jobs and the willingness of employers to overlook their status.

You can take a restrictionist view where the US should only concentrate on securing the border, and deporting/jailing the 11 million people without legal status. However, increasingly the unauthorized population, which used to be a seasonal and largely male (migrant) workers, now consists of families. Many of these families include children born in the US, who are U.S. citizens.

I believe that illegal immigration is complex problem and an economic and social reality in the US today. There is no one solution. I would however support a large-scale earned legalization program among other things.

Posted by: zr500 | August 14, 2007 1:10 PM

"Congress passes, and enables the States to pass, laws creating a cause of action against the exploiters of undocumented workers."

Fellow lawyers: doesn't the doctrine of pre-emption prevent states from enacting laws relating to immigration? If I recall correctly, only last week a local law was overturned on that basis.

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 1:11 PM

"The descendants of those prisoners took that land (Australia) and made it something precious. We certainly can't say the same for what we did to the Native Americans, can we?"

Umm, the native people of Australia - they're called "aboriginals" - sometimes wish they were treated as well as US settlers treated the Native Americans.

Seriously, check out some of the aboriginal ghettos in major cities like Sydney, etc.

While I really like Australia and hope to get back there (to visit) again someday, it's not the Garden of Eden.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 1:16 PM

I'd like for just a moment to skip all the "well my friend's sister lived beside an immigrant who appeared illegal and he peed in the trash all the time and he had four babies with four different baby mamis and left his Corona bottles everywhere" anecdotes, and just discuss something that I have been throwing around in my head for a few months.

First, I should point out that I'm only talking about illegal immigration. Legal immigration is a great way to diversify our culture (something the US has always prided herself on), bring more talent and spending power to our economy, and expand our global connections.

However, illegal immigration causes problems just on principle. First, illegal immigrants either come here with children or have children here (I say this not because of racial tendencies, but because most adults have children, period), therefore using schools and hospitals. Schools and hospitals are paid for using taxes, which IIs don't pay. The same can be said for police services, because if IIs aren't victims, they can be perpetrators, because let's face it, we don't just get the quiet, hardworking, law-abiding kinds skipping the border.

An old friend of mine once told me the process of entering the country illegally. It was a heartbreaking story and I won't recount it here, but he did say he had to visit a person who made money making up fake Social Security cards, so he could have something to show his employers (often, they do check). Often, the numbers on these cards are random, and there is a very good chance that they belong to a living, breathing human being with an actual credit history. Now, what do you think happens when that II, using that card, rents an apartment, gets a job, buys a car, opens a credit card? That all goes on some innocent citizen's credit report. Fraudulently. Sure, that person can contest the entries, but that person shouldn't have to. That person came by his/her credit history honestly, and even if s/he does contest the entries, there's no guarantee they will be removed, and there's no guarantee that his/her score will be repaired of any damage done.

Well, who's going to do all those dirty jobs that no American wants to do? I'll tell you who--the same people who did them in the '70s and '80s. Remember the raids on the meat-packing plant in recent past? Meat-packing used to be a relatively lucrative industry, with unions, benefits, and highly skilled workers. Now we've got guys who don't know what they're doing, and don't know the equipment, chopping off their hands and fingers (and sometimes dying--Fast Food Nation has a disturbing account of one such case). Then, where do you think they go? The hospital, where we will subsidize their care. Then right back to work, because you know Worker's Comp won't pay them a dime, where their injury could become infected, and do you really want that sort of infection around the food you eat? Same goes for anyone working in the food industry, whether a restaurant, a plant, or a cannery.

I know the things I'm saying are inflammatory, but sometimes you have to say the hard things. Hopefully I'm not coming off as racist, especially when you consider that much of my information comes from time spent socializing with immigrants both legal and illegal. I do believe there is room for people of all descents in this country--that's what America is about. No one was more horrified than me to hear about BF's grandparents' time in internment camps after WWII, and they, like many Japanese, are legal citizens. However, something must be done about the current state of illegal immigration. Controlling it could eliminate or at least alleviate some of the problems listed above. It's unfortunate that we can't just go wherever we want in this world, but laws are in place for a reason, and there's always a way to go about things legally.

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 14, 2007 1:18 PM

What will happen is one of two things. Nothing or we will see an amnesty program and start over like in the middle 80's. There is no political will to really secure the border of deport millions of people.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:18 PM

"And very innovative considering Australia was once the land where prisoners were banished to live."

Australia isn't the only place where prisoners were banished to live...

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 1:20 PM

"While I really like Australia and hope to get back there (to visit) again someday, it's not the Garden of Eden."

Well, I wasn't suggesting it as such. I was just using Australia as an example of what they do for immigration, and how one has to contribute something to live there, not leech off the system. A lot more than we can say.

Posted by: FookYou | August 14, 2007 1:21 PM

Slightly off topic but I can't just let ignorance of public finance and economics slide by. Illegal immigrants do pay property taxes indirectly through rent. Taxes go up, rents go up. However, when property taxes go down next year due to falling property values, renters will not see a tax break without substantial delay when rents do finally fall in line with property values.

Illegal immigrants also pay very directly our state sales tax on every transaction. It should be remembered that the sales tax is a regressive tax since low-income families pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes than do high income families. Illegal immigrants also pay our gas tax and sin taxes on tobacco and alchohol products.

Many illegal immigrants (over 40%) at last estimate pay federal and state income taxes as well as pay into ss and medicare without claiming these benefits. Many US employers are complicit in tax evasion by illegal immigrants but also by legal residents.

Individuals that use wire services to send money home to support familes abroad pay a tax on that transaction.

New Mexico carried out a comprehensive study and found that illegal immigrants actually contribute more on a net basis through taxes and public fees than they currently use in terms of public benefits. The largest expenditure is education of US born children of illegal immigrants (if you choose to interpret that as a cost of illegal immigrants and not the cost of educating US children).

PWC will see if illegals flee the county that the county will likely see unintended tax receipt repercussions along with some of the hoped for reductions in public expenditure. Unfortunately, it is hard to estimate the likely net impact and I hope the children that remain in PWC schools don't end up with less resources as their schoolmates and their tax paying families leave the county.

Posted by: samclare | August 14, 2007 1:21 PM

"'Congress passes, and enables the States to pass, laws creating a cause of action against the exploiters of undocumented workers.'"

"Fellow lawyers: doesn't the doctrine of pre-emption prevent states from enacting laws relating to immigration? If I recall correctly, only last week a local law was overturned on that basis."

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 01:11 PM

Congress would have to pass a law specifically authorizing States to legislate in this area. That's what I meant by, "Congress . . . enables the States to pass . . ." Once Congress authorizes the States to do something, it can hardly be argued that by doing that thing the States are interfering with Congress's intent to legislate in that area. That means that the doctrine of pre-emption would not apply.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 14, 2007 1:22 PM

Floof -- I was floored, as well, but apparently a "spade" was once (and still is to some) a derogatory term for an African-American.

So this discussion got me thinking today about another time I was sideswiped by my use of a word -- actually, by the baking of a cake. I made my Hall Director a Devil's Food Cake (he loved chocolate) and was read the Riot Act by another R.A. who said wasn't it interesting I'd chosen to make a black man a DEVIL'S food cake that's brown where an Angel's Food Cake is white, etc., etc. He actually questioned my choice until the Hall Director shut him up by saying that I had known he loves chocolate and as far as he knew, Angel's Food Cake isn't chocolate.

This is an extreme example and the other R.A. was always what I call "pissed at the planet" for some reason or another. But I guess the affects weren't lasting enough to save me from having a complaint of racism made against me at my former firm. . .

Posted by: wtf | August 14, 2007 1:22 PM

Monagatuna

"Schools and hospitals are paid for using taxes, which IIs don't pay."

Say what?

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 1:24 PM

New Mexico carried out a comprehensive study and found that illegal immigrants actually contribute more on a net basis through taxes and public fees than they currently use in terms of public benefits. The largest expenditure is education of US born children of illegal immigrants (if you choose to interpret that as a cost of illegal immigrants and not the cost of educating US children).

BULLSH@T, How do they pay income taxes without a ss number? How many people here today use public assistance such as county hospitals etc? Probably no one, go to any county hospital and it is full of illegal immigrants and you and I pay for it. Ever paid 5 bucks for a tylenol at at a hospital? You just subsidized an illehal alien.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:25 PM

Mona, you are NOT coming off as racist.

However, I am not sure what steps you are saying we should take to identify and remove Illegal Immigrants.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 1:30 PM

It is simply wrong to mix the use of "immigrant" with "illegal immigrant" -- there is a huge difference between those two groups of people. Nothing about dealing forthrightly with illegal immigrants is in any way the antithesis of "supporting family values" -- one of which is surely the notion of obeying the law and believing in the American ideal of "equal justice under the law." To inspire the nation's children to love the country and the county must include a respect for the rule of law and the notion of equal treatment under that law -- not carving out exceptions to the law based on ethnicity or any other demographic.

Posted by: RBCrook | August 14, 2007 1:35 PM

"How do they pay income taxes without a ss number?"

One can buy fake papers, including a forged Social Security card -- so an illegal immigrant may be paying into your SS account right at this moment (and YOU get to keep the proceeds, presumably).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 1:38 PM

IMO the only thing that will ever significantly slow down illegal aliens, from mexico anyway, is a prosperous Mexico.. Not stop it completely but greatly reduce it.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:39 PM

And just because you are born here should NOT make you a citizen. I believe we are the only country in the world with a law like that - it is outdated and it should be one of the first ones changed. But no one even discusses it.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 14, 2007 1:39 PM

Proud Papa, your question makes me glad I'm not a politician, because I don't have a good answer to it. I do think that a good start would be to do what another poster has suggested (I'm so sorry, there are a lot of posts today and I forgot who wrote it), and to work with employers to identify illegals. Also, we might start checking IDs at 7-11s and other meeting places that have long lines of people standing around (waiting for an employer to show up?), especially if said place of business has a "No Loitering" sign. We might also secure our borders a little more tightly. We might also ask the Census Bureau to help out.

I wish I had the answer, but unfortunately, all I have are some suggestions.

newhere, I'm sorry, II=illegal immigrants. Was that not clear?

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 14, 2007 1:40 PM

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 14, 2007 01:39 PM

They can't even agree to enforce any laws now you want them to change the constitution? LOL

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:42 PM

newhere, I'm sorry, II=illegal immigrants. Was that not clear?

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 14, 2007 01:40 PM

No, how do they not pay taxes?

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 1:43 PM

The big failing of 1986 was the US saying--if you're here illegally, you've got a shortcut to a green card. I don't believe the US should have done that and I don't think an amnesty framework could work now. But I do believe in an earned legalization program--meaning, you have to earn it. For instance, an undocumented immigrant would have to be undergo a registration, security check, pay a significant fee, demonstrate a steady work history, pay taxes, and learn English. It's not a pretty solution and will take time. But it's about proving one's ability to work here and make a contribution, earn legal status, and ultimately get
on a path to citizenship. Such a program would provide immigrants with the opportunity for legal residency followed by citizenship and it gives way to integration, which benefits all Americans.

Posted by: zr500 | August 14, 2007 1:44 PM

Try as I might I am having a hard time finding a neutral source to report numbers on crime by illegals vs crime by citizens. Plenty of of political opinions, but I can't find any data.

Where are our statisticians?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration_to_the_United_States#Crime

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 1:46 PM

mehitabel,

"How do they pay income taxes without a ss number?"

One can buy fake papers, including a forged Social Security card -- so an illegal immigrant may be paying into your SS account right at this moment (and YOU get to keep the proceeds, presumably).

_______________________

Okay, this one I'm having a hard time buying. Yes, I understand that illegal immigrants do use Social Security numbers not assigned to them, including numbers that are assigned to others. And that some of those illegal immigrants are having OASDI and Medicare taken out of their pay and deposited into some accounts. So it's possible that you may be getting the benefit of somebody else's work . (Just as it's possible that "you may have already won the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes", but I digress.)

However, income tax is a different matter. If somebody else is having Federal (or state) income tax withheld on my number, then when I file my 1040 next year, I'm very likely to get a "hey, this doesn't match what was withheld" notice from the IRS. (I've gotten such a notice when I made an error copying down digits.) I find it hard to believe that that goes on with any frequency. I'd be much more likely to believe that most of the illegal immigrants are paid "under the table" with no income tax withheld.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 1:46 PM

Matt,

Please correct me, but I did not recall that you are an attorney. Are you?

The pre-emption doctrine derives from the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Congress does not have the authority to enact an unconstitutional law. Hence, whether or not Congress enacts a law that says the states may act, a state law may still be successfully challenged as unconstitutional if the federal government has occupied the field. I'm glad to defer to an attorney whose practice is in a regulatory field. Laura?

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 1:47 PM

New Mexico carried out a comprehensive study and found that illegal immigrants actually contribute more on a net basis through taxes and public fees than they currently use in terms of public benefits. The largest expenditure is education of US born children of illegal immigrants (if you choose to interpret that as a cost of illegal immigrants and not the cost of educating US children).

ARMYBRAT, this is what i was referring to also when i posted my bs comment about taxes.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 1:50 PM

ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 01:46 PM

To comment further off of what ArmyBrat said I have done payroll in 3 companies and when the companies transmit taxes, SSI, unemployment tax etc - it is no longer just the SSN being sent. The name and the SSN is sent. So if an illegal immigrant was using a false SSN the company would recieve a notice from the applicable agency indicating that there is an error on their records that must be corrected. The money that was deposited under the SSN would also sit as pending until the company corrected the error.

I would agree with ArmyBrat that most of the illegal immigrants are not using SSN's as many people claim but are rather being paid under the table.

Posted by: noname1 | August 14, 2007 1:55 PM

newhere, they are often paid in cash. After a mugging, the officer told me that I was targeted because I was with a person of Hispanic descent, who was targeted because muggers expect that at least some Hispanic people in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood will be illegal and will carry cash on them (he was right in this case--I had no cash on me but my friend had quite a lot). I'm not saying this is true of all illegals, but there must have been a reason he said it.

Aside from stealing another person's identity and SSN, how WOULD they pay taxes?

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 14, 2007 1:56 PM

MN, While I'm not a lawyer (don't even play one on TV!), I believe you are correct that the District Court judge found that the city of Hazelton, PA., could not enact its own anti-illegal immigrant laws because such legislation comes under Federal jurisdiction. Last I read, Hazelton was considering taking the case to the 3d Circuit Court of Appeals, but I imagine judges of all political stripes will place the Constitution ahead of political demagoguery.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 1:58 PM

"Aside from stealing another person's identity and SSN, how WOULD they pay taxes?"

Sales tax.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 2:08 PM

zr500, I like your idea. I hope that something like this gets adopted.

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 2:16 PM

OFF TOPIC- if anyone needs a remedy for vomit in a car, i have one. Use a strong roast coffee can, open it up in your car and leave the windows open overnight. This is after you have cleaned up as best you can. Now back to our racially charged immigration programming.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 2:19 PM

"Aside from stealing another person's identity and SSN, how WOULD they pay taxes?"

"Sales tax."

Lower-paid people in general (including many illegal immigrants) have to spend a higher proportion of their income in order to survive, so pay a proportionately higher percentage of their income in sales taxes.

Illegal immigrants don't get income tax refunds nor credits.

If illegal immigrants aren't using as many social services as peeople here legally, then they're indirectly contributing to the tax fund by not using as much of what their taxes are paying for.

And, renters pay landlords' property taxes as part of their rent payments.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 2:20 PM

MN, not a Constitutional scholar, so I may be wrong on this, but I think you are correct. Basically, there are some areas the states are allowed to regulate, and others they are not. Things that typically involve important national issues, like treaties, fall into the category of "states aren't allowed to mess with it" -- even if Congress tries to say otherwise. Basically, the Constitution trumps: if the Constitution says Congress has the exclusive right to do something, then Congress simply doesn't have the authority to give that right to anyone else, even if it wants to. I believe immigration laws fall into that category, but am not sure.

Posted by: laura33 | August 14, 2007 2:20 PM

The state sales taxes are between zero and %9.

Federal income tax is between zero and %38.
State income tax is between zero and %9.

I think it's safe to say that the sales tax illegal immigrants pay is a drop in the bucket. Especially because most illegal immigrants are here to work and send money back to their families. It's not like they're ordering sushi every night, kicking back at the Waterfront in DC on the weekends, and buying big screen TVs. They are most likely living conservatively and not buying much of anything.

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 2:22 PM

It's a fact, illegal immigration is economically prudent. Think of it as America's volunteer slave program.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 2:22 PM

"Many illegal immigrants (over 40%) at last estimate pay federal and state income taxes as well as pay into ss and medicare without claiming these benefits"


Link please

Posted by: dctony | August 14, 2007 2:23 PM

Meesh, income tax is scalable, poor people don't pay them, illegal immigrants or not.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 2:28 PM

Asked whether he would move U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism elsewhere, he brought up Afghanistan and said, "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."

Earlier this month, Obama drew criticism when he said he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission, if warranted

BYE BYE Obama, the unelectable man. Hillary must be doing a jig each time he opens his mouth with these types of statements. Sorry the Republican in me couldn't resist.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 2:28 PM

Mehitabel wrote: If illegal immigrants aren't using as many social services as peeople here legally, then they're indirectly contributing to the tax fund by not using as much of what their taxes are paying for.

The problem is that they do use many social services. One of the hospitals here ran a woman's clinic for prenatal care. It was meant for uninsured women who are unable to pay for their care. They had to close it two years ago as the hospital ran out of funds due to the huge influx in illegals. Here they were not only hispanic but also from African countries and Jamaica.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 2:28 PM

"Will park police start asking for proof of residency and visa status at county or state parks?"

I would settle for asking the immigration status of violent felons, which is not being done. As a lobbyist in Arizona who works on criminal justice issues, my concern with ILLEGAL immigration is the impact on public safety. In Arizona, roughly 11 percent of our state prison population is made up of criminal aliens--these folks are in prison for committing serious felonies, not for sneaking across the border. In 2005, incarcerating criminal aliens in the local county jails cost ARIZONA taxpayers $37 million. (The cost for LA County alone: $75 million). The Feds have a State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, but it pays pennies on the dollar for the actual cost (we are looking at $400 million for all 50 states...LA is roughly 20 percent of that budget).

Contrary to what Clare would like for you to believe, not all of the folks coming across the border ILLEGALLY are here for free education, free health care and our wonderful parks. There are a LOT of bad guys coming across the border, and the street cops aren't allowed to ask about immigration status for fear of having their police department hit with a discrimination suit, as happened with Chandler Police Department. So people like Jose Carranza are free on bail awaiting trial on child rape charges, and he has the abilitty to commit murder.

In Arizona, the voters, via referendum, passed a law that denies bail to illegal immigrants. Actually getting courts in Maricopa County to enforce the law is a different story...

How this affects our balance of life in Arizona: we are left to foot the bill for paying for education for illegal (we are being fined by the Feds for not paying enough money for English language learners); health care (I have self-employed friends who cannot obtain health insurance, but their taxes pay for health care for illegals); dodging coyotes (human smugglers) that are shooting at each other on the interstate highways and robbing each others' human cargo...

It's still the Wild West.

There is a point when the federal government must enforce the law rather than pander to immigrant groups. Anyone remember how Virginia law allowed illegal immigrants to obtain licenses via a simple sowrn statement? The result...five of the 9/11 hijackers carried valid Virginia licenses obtained through this method. Virginia changed its law a few weeks later, and Congress passed the REAL ID Act, a real headache for state government...

Posted by: pepperjade | August 14, 2007 2:30 PM

Sorry - hit send too soon.
The reason I know about the clinic is a friend of mine is a nurse who ended up losing her job when the clinic closed.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 2:31 PM

No, BabaBooey, I have no knowledge of economics, either macro or micro. I don't know science or engineering or politics or law. I don't know anything about anything....I have an IQ of zero...which I figure puts me about 50 points above you.

Posted by: angelos_peter | August 14, 2007 2:31 PM

KLB, Well, I DID qualify my statement by opening with "If..."

And, as GC rightly pointed out, "income tax is scalable, poor people don't pay them, illegal immigrants or not."

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 2:33 PM

I'm loathe to get into this debate but inaccuracies irritate me. Many illegal immigrants DO pay income taxes, using ITINs. I have no idea what the statistics are on the percentage of those who pay.

Since 1996, the IRS has issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). Over 5,500,000 ITINs have been issued. The IRS does not require a SSN to file taxes; it will accept taxes filed under an ITIN.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the following quote is from NPR, which I acknowledge some of you consider the mouthpiece of Communist sympathizers):

"More than 1 million non-U.S. citizens will file their taxes this year. One of the reasons that those who are living and working illegally in the United States want to file taxes is that they see an opportunity to prove their economic contribution and document their residence.

Last year, 1.4 million people used the special numbers. The last time the government checked, more than half of the people using an individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, were illegal immigrants.

Federal tax law prohibits the IRS from sharing information with other government agencies, including immigration authorities. So it's the promise of confidentiality that allows immigrants to file their taxes without fear of being deported."

Back to your regularly scheduled bickering.

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 2:34 PM

"So people like Jose Carranza are free on bail awaiting trial on child rape charges, and he has the abilitty to commit murder."

Yes, this was one of my earlier points. Those kids would still be alive today if the government did its job. I wonder if their parents can sue the state and government over failing to protect its citizens.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 2:34 PM

pATRICK: however, if I leave the windows open in my car, I'm likely to come back in the AM and find the coffee can and no car. Such it is living in a city...

Anyway....

One reason the FairTax is touted as a good thing is that *EVERYONE* pays it, not just those who make are paid legally by an employer. So, altho the feds wouldn't be able to just go after people who they think are criminals just for tax evasion, everyone would be better off because there are a few (those paying legally into the system) who are paying for all (including those not paying federal taxes), so the burden is spread out over fewer people. If we had a sales tax, everyone would have to pay it (and those who are here illegally are unlikely to file for and get the rebate of their taxes).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 14, 2007 2:36 PM

"Meesh, income tax is scalable, poor people don't pay them, illegal immigrants or not."

Correct, which is why I wrote "zero to" a percentage. I recall paying tax at my $8.00 an hour job working full time. Does any one know how much you have to earn to pay taxes?

Posted by: Meesh | August 14, 2007 2:38 PM

Klb, you wrote "the hospital ran out of funds due to the huge influx in illegals."

You are blaming the illegals. Legal citizens drained the funds too.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 2:40 PM

My former boss retired from the military. He lived in MD for approx 8 years. His son attends Univ of Md and paid in-state tuition.
Now that his father has retired from the military and returned to his home state the son must pay out-of-state tuition.
In MD illegal aliens pay in-state tuition.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 2:40 PM

You are blaming the illegals. Legal citizens drained the funds too.

Of course there were some legal citizens but the illegals outnumbered them at least 3 to 1.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 2:42 PM

Posted by: pepperjade | August 14, 2007 02:30 PM

Well as LBJ used to say, that's like grandma's nightgown, it covers everything.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 2:43 PM

pATRICK - wow, does that coffee can thing really work? (it doesn't have to be a can, does it?) and does it work in other larger spaces like baby's room as well?

i abandoned using the term "calling a spade a spade" a few years ago for the reasons cited -- it seemed to have become offensive despite its apparently innocent origins. there are other good ways to make the same point --

Posted by: leslie4 | August 14, 2007 2:48 PM

You know, speaking as a lawyer, I'm all for abiding by the law and working within the system (believe it or not). But my problem with the immigration debate is that the system itself is completely unjust. As long as I can remember, if you were trying to escape persecution in an "enemy" state (like the USSR), the doors were opened wide for you. But if you had the misfortune to be fleeing persecution from some repressive dictatorship that we happened to be friends with, fuggedaboudit. Even though you and your family could end up just as dead either way. Bring a formal asylum claim? That's a good one -- you have about as good a chance as you apparently would before the Coast Guard judges (if any of you have read about that whole brouhaha in the past few weeks). I don't do this for a living, and my firm has only done one pro bono asylum claim that I know about, but the published numbers from a very large percentage of our immigration judges are abysmal, and the stories of degrading treatment some of the applicants received from our own judges makes me ashamed. The very least we owe people who are trying to play by the rules is dignity and basic human respect.

I'm all for playing fair, but you have to make the system fair to start with. Why do we even have per-country quotas? Those are always going to be subject to political whims. Why not just a single nationwide quota, like there is for the H1-B visas, maybe on a rolling monthly basis?

I'm a little biased here. A lot of my husband's family got caught in Nazi Germany; many of them just disappeared. Why? Because no one wanted to take in the Jews. Not that anyone here in the grand ol' U.S. of A. would admit that out loud, of course -- the public excuses on this end were that the "system" took time, they had to be patient, there was only so much room, they had no record of such and such application, etc. etc. etc.

So I'm a little sympathetic to those who defy a system that doesn't give them a fair shake in the first place. And a little red flag goes off in my head when I hear arguments that seem to focus only on one particular disfavored ethnic group -- I truly don't think most people who make those arguments are racist, but they are still basically the same arguments that have in the past been used, very successfully, by racists.

I do agree there is a major problem; I'm not advocating we pretend like nothing's wrong, or open our borders to anyone who wants to come, or give automatic immunity or citizenship to everyone who already managed to get here. I believe we need a rational degree of control. But if you expect people to play by the rules, you have to make the rules fair. And so far, I don't see anyone coming up with any solutions that will do that.

Posted by: laura33 | August 14, 2007 2:54 PM

i abandoned using the term "calling a spade a spade" a few years ago for the reasons cited -- it seemed to have become offensive despite its apparently innocent origins. there are other good ways to make the same point --

Posted by: leslie | August 14, 2007 02:48 PM

proving once again that there's nothing "PC" about civility and good judgment.

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 2:54 PM

"wow, does that coffee can thing really work"

Is it safe to drink the coffee when the deed is done? Donate the coffee to WaPo?

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 2:54 PM

Leslie along the lines of calling a spade a spade, I would like to see people stop using the term "lily white" to desribe white people.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 2:55 PM

proving once again that there's nothing "PC" about civility and good judgment.

How in the world did you come to that conclusion? Even PP said it was not offensive so, because some yahoo might get offended who does not know the background of the term, a phrase must be dropped for fear of offending an ignorant person? Leslie, it is amazing, it is like a big odor eater, try it.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 2:58 PM

yes use a big can, BTW

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 2:59 PM

I have also heard that charcoal works well as odor eater (hate to waste good coffee).

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 2:59 PM

Laura wrote: " lot of my husband's family got caught in Nazi Germany; many of them just disappeared. Why? Because no one wanted to take in the Jews. Not that anyone here in the grand ol' U.S. of A. would admit that out loud, of course -- the public excuses on this end were that the "system" took time, they had to be patient, there was only so much room, they had no record of such and such application, etc. etc. etc."

You have those anti-immigration quotas passed in the early 1920s to thank (hardly the word) for this.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 3:00 PM

"but the illegals outnumbered them at least 3 to 1."

Ok KLB, I say we blame the men that had sex with illegal immigrant women without using a condom for draining the pregnancy clinic of its funds. The men should be prosecuted!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | August 14, 2007 3:01 PM

When our families came over in the 1930's, they had to demonstrate show that they had a job waiting for them, and not going on the public dole. Sometomes this job was at a family hot, dirty smelting plant.

They also had fraternal societies to help new immgrants learn the ropes and assimilate.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 14, 2007 3:10 PM

pATRICK,

I came to the conclusion I expressed the same way I always do, using my very own brain and, unlike some, having the confidence to not proceed through life being reactionary.

One can spend one's whole life determined to be right all costs, shouting and screaming in determination that all others see and agree with one's righteousness, or one can decide that a particular expression in a particular context is less important than the sensibilities of one's audience. Developing a firm grasp of the language gives one alternative modes of expression. Because, after all, it's all about communication, right? A confident person doesn't feel the need to always say everything she COULD say, but opts to communicate in a manner that carries no baggage. In the alternative, one can go strutting around shoving his or her preferences and knowledge down everyone's throat, but that strikes me as indicating insecurity more than anything else. You'll be right, but no colleague will want to be stuck in an airport with you.

Laura, well said, as always.

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 3:11 PM

MN, thanks for your 2:34 post re: ITINs. I knew of them - a friend who's a British national working here has one. I hadn't associated them with illegal immigrants, but a little research shows that they're starting to be associated with them.

Re: the percentage of illegal immigrants using ITINs to pay taxes: I found this:

In March 2006 the Pew Hispanic Center estimated the undocumented population ranged from 11.5 to 12 million individuals, a number supported by the US Government Accountability Office (GOA). Pew estimated that 57% of this population comes from Mexico; 24% from Central and, to a lesser extent, South America; 9% from Asia; 6% from Europe, and the remaining 4% from elsewhere.

-------

So if all of those 1.4 million ITIN users were illegal immigrants - demonstrably not the case - that's still only about 12 percent of the illegal immigrants. Okay, assume that some of those illegal immigrants are kids. There aren't many stay-at-home moms (or dads) among illegal immigrants, I suspect, so assume that half the illegal immigrants are kids, just for the sake of argument.

So just under 6 million illegal immigrants working; at most 1 million or so of them paying taxes - that's about 16 percent.

I stand by my earlier assertion that most of them are being paid under the table.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 14, 2007 3:16 PM

KLB_SS_MD,

Immigrants are indeed concentrated in certain geographic areas, and perceivably impose social and economic burdens on local resources--schools, hospitals, etc.

As a result, local governments have to introduce laws related to immigrants, though many are ineffective and are struck down.

To ease the burden on state and local governments, the US at a federal level should aid these states and local areas. The services states and local government need should also be covered by the registration fees associated with an earned legalization program. Again, in an earned legalization program, an undocumented immigrant would have to undergo registration, which includes a paying a significant fee (as well as undergoing a security check, demonstrate a steady work history, pay taxes, and learn English). With legal status, workers will have a more stable employment and higher income, which means higher income tax payments--a good thing for government bodies.

Posted by: zr500 | August 14, 2007 3:18 PM

My former boss retired from the military. He lived in MD for approx 8 years. His son attends Univ of Md and paid in-state tuition.
Now that his father has retired from the military and returned to his home state the son must pay out-of-state tuition.
In MD illegal aliens pay in-state tuition.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | August 14, 2007 02:40 PM

That's because in state/out of state has to do with being a resident of that state (either paying property taxes, or paying rent which goes towards the owner's property taxes). You have to be a resident for one year before you can qualify for in state tuition, so technically if the son stuck around another year or had used his off campus address as his main address he could likely become a resident. But since he resided at his parents (and if he stuck around an extra year would likely go back to their place during the summer) he can't qualify. Immigrants as residents therefore pay in state tuition.

Posted by: _Miles | August 14, 2007 3:23 PM

off topic to pATRICK

Did you see this? They got him for trying to take pics of little kids.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20263135/

KLB_SS_MD

I see nothing wrong with what you posted. Facts are facts. It is sad though that that many people needed help with pre-natal care.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 3:25 PM

Well MN, you missed the point. The eroding of freedom of speech is a serious issue. When we are constantly on guard for offending highly offendable people we lose.
Being a lawyer, I would suspect you have a knee jerk reaction to offending people by profession.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 3:27 PM

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 03:25 PM

Yes, i was going to bring it up but didn't want the whole pedophile thing to go on again here. He said he wasn't going to act on his 'IMPULSES", apparently he did, I guess a spade is a spade.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 3:30 PM

pATRICK

"The eroding of freedom of speech is a serious issue. When we are constantly on guard for offending highly offendable people we lose."

Indeed! This must explain why you DUMPED THE OFF BALANCE BLOG.

Posted by: newhere | August 14, 2007 3:31 PM

Warning: This posting contains legalistic mumbo-jumbo. Quit reading now, while you're ahead.

"Basically, there are some areas the states are allowed to regulate, and others they are not. Things that typically involve important national issues, like treaties, fall into the category of "states aren't allowed to mess with it" -- even if Congress tries to say otherwise. Basically, the Constitution trumps: if the Constitution says Congress has the exclusive right to do something, then Congress simply doesn't have the authority to give that right to anyone else, even if it wants to. I believe immigration laws fall into that category, but am not sure."

Posted by: laura | August 14, 2007 02:20 PM

Maybe laws affecting immigrants do fall into that category, but even the judge who invalidated the local anti-illegal-immigrant ordinance recently did not say so, so why should we say so here? According to Justice Harry Blackmun '32L, writing for a unanimous U. S. Supreme Court in the case of English v. General Electric Co., 496 U.S. 72, there are three varieties of pre-emption:

"Our cases have established that state law is pre-empted under the Supremacy Clause, U.S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2, in three circumstances. First, Congress can define explicitly the extent to which its enactments pre-empt state law. See Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85, 95 -98 (1983). Preemption fundamentally is a question of congressional intent, see Schneidewind v. ANR Pipeline Co., 485 U.S. 293, 299 (1988), and when Congress has made its intent known through explicit statutory language, the courts' task is an easy one.

"Second, in the absence of explicit statutory language, state law is pre-empted where it regulates conduct in a field that Congress intended the Federal Government to occupy exclusively. Such an intent may be inferred from a 'scheme of federal regulation . . . so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it,' or where an Act of Congress 'touch[es] a field in which the federal interest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject.' Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). .

"Finally, state law is pre-empted to the extent that it actually conflicts with federal law. Thus, the Court has found pre-emption where it is impossible for a private party to comply with both state and federal requirements, see, e. g., Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142 -143 (1963), or where state law 'stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.' Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941). See also Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S. 725, 747 (1981)." 496 U.S. at 79.

The local law that was struck down was passed by Hazleton, Pennsylvania. U. S. District Judge James Munley invalidated it on two grounds: pre-emption and civil rights. In the pre-emption part of his opinion, Judge Munley did not write that Congress has no authority to give States the right to legislate in the area of immigration. That is, he did not say that immigration law is "a field in which the federal interest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject." (Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52 (1941)). Rather, he said that Hazleton's law disrupts the federal statutory scheme that Congress has enacted relating to immigration. Judge Munley wrote:

"Federal law prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any provisions of its ordinances"

and he continued:

"The ordinances disrupt a well-established federal scheme for regulating the presence and employment of immigrants in the United States."

The judge also wrote:

"Whatever frustrations the city of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme."

It is clear that Judge Hazleton was basing his finding of pre-emption on "a scheme of federal regulation . . . so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it" -- the language of the English case. Let me repeat what Justice Blackmun wrote, since he was my father-in-law's classmate: "Preemption fundamentally is a question of congressional intent."

Suppose Congress changed the "carefully drawn federal statutory scheme" by expressly allowing States and localities to pass the kind of anti-illegal-immigrant law that Hazleton enacted. Such a law would not violate the pre-emption doctrine. However, Judge Munley would still strike it down on civil rights grounds, since he believes that even illegal immigrants are Constitutionally protected against this kind of law. As Judge Munley wrote:

"Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton's measures, the city could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not."

Both the pre-emption and the civil rights issues are on their way to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 14, 2007 3:39 PM

Leslie-

I am a bit confused- you stopped using the phrase because some people made up a reason to be offended by it? I sincerely don't understand. Is that like abandoning the use of the word "niggardly" because people might think it sounds like another word (even though it is totally unrelated)?

I am really not trying to be a jerk here, I just wonder how much we have to censor ourselves so as not to tick off people who seem to be looking for offense where none exists.

Posted by: floof | August 14, 2007 3:40 PM

Being a lawyer, I would suspect you have a knee jerk reaction to offending people by profession.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 03:27 PM

pATRICK, Since you insist on fighting with me about almost every speck of dust in the universe, I don't have a knee jerk reaction to anything. I evaluate facts and behavior in context. I do not consider using collequialisms to be a form of communication on which my very person depends.

Btw, I've had a few jobs, including four requiring the donning of polyester uniforms and inquiring whether customers would prefer fries with their repasts. Being an attorney doesn't define much about me. I feel sorry for anyone whose character depends upon his choice of career.

Posted by: MN | August 14, 2007 3:43 PM

Another reason to love laptops!!!!

"A recent study indicates that men who use a laptop computer on their lap may cause their scrotal temperatures to increase significantly. Increased testicular temperature has a well-documented link to low sperm count. The study concluded that long-term use could be damaging."

This is awesome--gotta love laptops. Convenient, portable, and may be the next best birth control out there yet! This rocks!!!

Posted by: WooHoo | August 14, 2007 3:45 PM

"The eroding of freedom of speech is a serious issue. When we are constantly on guard for offending highly offendable people we lose."

To equate the exercise of free will by individuals with erosion of legal rights is over the top. Otherwise, the fact that you decide NOT to burn a flag would somehow represent an erosion of our free speech rights. I'm not constantly on guard against offending those who abhor burning flags. Are you?

Posted by: gcoward | August 14, 2007 3:51 PM

Matt from Aberdeen
Had a silly dream
That all he wrote had quite a sheen
That's our Matt from Aberdeen

But for all words that he wrote
Feelings he could not emote
The meaning still seemed remote
That's our Matt from Aberdeen

What really wasn't seen
What he could not gleam
Was with fewer words
He would still be Matt from Aberdeen

Posted by: anonthistime | August 14, 2007 3:58 PM

pATRICK wrote: "The eroding of freedom of speech is a serious issue. When we are constantly on guard for offending highly offendable people we lose."

Does this mean we have a mandate to be as offensive as possible simply in order to prove that we aren't letting freedom of speech erode, and that failure to exercise such offensiveness right up to the very limits of the law is tantamount to allowing oneself to be censored? What if I prefer not to use offensive speech, for my own reasons? Or is it just that basic civility, not to mention etiquette, are inherently erosions of freedom of speech? Or doth someone protest too much?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 4:09 PM

"Another reason to love laptops!!!!"

Not me; I won't use my wife's laptop for that very reason. I won't even let the CAT sit in my lap!

Posted by: johnl | August 14, 2007 4:09 PM

johnl - right you are. In addition, wear boxers instead of briefs, and avoid tight pants (not that I am pegging you as the kind of guy who wears tight pants, but just in case).

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 4:24 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day
(Dance Division)

Goes to Irish Girl!

"Why did they move out?"

They got tired of the step dancing in the front yard. That is how we chased all our neighbors away.


Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 09:13 AM

Now the Creepy Van (tm) cannot do a jig but it does rock and roll over the bumps in the road!

(now everyone wish me a happy birthday!)

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 4:42 PM

it's a shame this discussion didn't go down the path of state and federal parks we have loved.

My nominee: Great Falls Park.

What's your favorite US park?

Posted by: gcoward | August 14, 2007 4:42 PM

Happy Birthday to Fred!!!

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 4:47 PM

Leslie-

I am a bit confused- you stopped using the phrase because some people made up a reason to be offended by it? I sincerely don't understand. Is that like abandoning the use of the word "niggardly" because people might think it sounds like another word (even though it is totally unrelated)?

CATLADY, i posted this because it is a good example. No of course we don't go around and do it because we can. But do we walk on eggshells about things because they MIGHT be misunderstood?. MN, I feel sideways with you lately, so I think I will think twice about what you post before posting.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 4:47 PM

pATRICK,

If you'd return to disagreeing with me without resorting to insulting me, I suspect we could return to a more comfortable and series of exchanges. So long as you are looking for a fight, though, I'm happy to take the easy shot at low-hanging fruit. Heck, you even felt the need to gibe at Emily today out of nowhere. I have a deal to propose - let's assume that smart, non-fearful, complex people, some of whom possess cojones, occasionally disagree.

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 4:54 PM

Matt, the fact that the judge in that case found that the local law was preempted based on the federal scheme doesn't mean that it wouldn't also be preempted on constitutional grounds. This isn't really my area, but all the cases I have seen using the preemption analysis you are describing are looking at areas where the state and federal government potentially have concurrent powers to regulate. There are other cases dealing with areas in which the federal government has exclusive power - mainly foreign relations - where the preemption is not based on federal exercise of its powers but on the Constitution's mandate that the area is exclusively federal. Since courts will often avoid deciding a constitutional issue if there are other grounds on which to rule, it's not surprising that the judge in this case based its finding on Congressional action instead. I'm not aware of any case in which Congress tried to delegate a power that is exclusively federal under the constitution, it would certainly be interesting to see what would happen.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 14, 2007 4:58 PM

MN, I am fine with that. However,Emily is posting things I find objectionable so we will see.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:01 PM

Happy Birthday, Fred!

I don't think we need to be as offensive as possible, just to prove we CAN (that's what teenagers are for), but I also don't think we need to self-censor ourselves into language so bland it becomes meaningless.

BTW: as for niggardly, the word court column in the Atlantic disagrees with my view -- this month's column addresses the use of the term, and recommends against its use because of potential misunderstandings (especially since there are some interesting synonyms available, other than 'stingy').

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 5:01 PM

"CATLADY, i posted this because it is a good example. No of course we don't go around and do it because we can. But do we walk on eggshells about things because they MIGHT be misunderstood?"

The other side of the coin is that some people will verbally reproach a person who reasonably takes offense at something they said, claiming that it violates the speaker's freedom of speech. But doesn't a listener have every bit as much right NOT to hear something offensive? Doesn't the speaker's right to freedom of speech end at my ears -- or eyes, in the case of reading -- just as someone's right to swing their fist ends at my nose?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:02 PM

Check this out:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/13/AR2007081301166_2.html?hpid=moreheadlines

It is an article in today's Post about immigration in Sterling, VA. It beautifully sums up some of the arguments made on this blog today.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:02 PM

Happy B-day, Fred. Hope it's filled with cake, ice cream and good wishes.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:05 PM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 05:02 PM


yep, the rub is where's the line. I read about a SW airlines flight attendant who was nearly fired because she jokingly said 1234, catch a tiger by the toe, store those trays we gotta go. A black person complained that she was being racist. Sometimes we need to tell all people to get a grip.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:07 PM

Fred: Or Angelo Brocato's cannoli!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:07 PM

Look Patrick, I have no problem with you disagreeing with me. I might even find the conversation interesting if you had something productive to contribute, like a real idea, an argument, some kind of rationale for the way you think. It might even help me understand where you are coming from, and perhaps even convince me of something. But your off point attacks of "BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL - HIDE YOUR MONEY and ClOSE YOUR BLIND" attacks, in case you haven't noticed, aren't productive, aren't on point, and contribute nothing to the actual substance of the conversation. They are insults that you resort to when you have nothing better to offer. How would you like to be called a "REACTIONARY RACIST" or some other such insult that is meant only to inflame? Don't get me wrong. I am not above doing it if you provoke me enough. But I at least recognize that the result of such exchanges results in nothing but hard feelings. So I am happy with ignoring you if you don't have the wherewithal to argue in a rational and constructive way. Just don't cry foul and play the victim when you are the one to pick the petty fights that you ultimately end up losing.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:13 PM

Happy birthday, Fred!!

And LizaBean, thanks -- that is the argument I was talking about. Honestly, I don't know whether it applies in the immigration context, but given the foreign relations bent, I thought it might. I hadn't read the recent case, so didn't realize it was decided on preemption instead.

Posted by: laura33 | August 14, 2007 5:13 PM

Serious question - what is the offensiveness behind the catching the tiger by its toe?

Posted by: noname1 | August 14, 2007 5:14 PM

Happy Birthday Fred. I can't believe I won! Especially after I stepped off the blog in a sarcastic huff! Oh well, tomorrow is another day and another chance to win the quote of the day!

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 5:16 PM

It used to be "catch a 'n -word' by the toe" originally. Hence the offensive connotation.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:16 PM

I always use the phrase, "pasty white woman" to describe myself. Most laugh, it confuses other somehow.


========================================

Leslie along the lines of calling a spade a spade, I would like to see people stop using the term "lily white" to desribe white people.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 02:55 PM

Posted by: robinwfcva | August 14, 2007 5:17 PM

I had to give a shout out to for the matt from aberdeen theme song. That was actually pretty damn funny by an anon.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 5:17 PM

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 05:13 PM

First off Emily, I don't play the victim. I think Devil's advocate did that awhile back. I take a lot of abuse, some justified, some not. Second, I disagree with a lot of what you say, I doubt that you and I will ever agree on anything. That being said, I am perfectly willing to stop calling you a bleeding heart liberal.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:18 PM

Serious question - what is the offensiveness behind the catching the tiger by its toe?

Posted by: noname | August 14, 2007 05:14 PM

There are "alternative" verses set to this ditty.

In a similar manner some individuals consider the word "jig" as racist.

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 5:18 PM

noname, it comes from Little Black Sambo. if you are not familiar with the extent to which, at minimum, some versions of Little Black Sambo were degrading to African-Americans, click on the link below.

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/picaninny/

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 5:18 PM

To noname: the offensiveness is that "tiger" is a substitute for the original version of the rhyme, which used the "N" word instead. You may be too young to remember the offensive old-time version.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:19 PM

It used to be "catch a 'n -word' by the toe" originally. Hence the offensive connotation


But if that person, never said the n word and never heard of the alternate, is she somehow responsible?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:22 PM

In a similar manner some individuals consider the word "jig" as racist.

I read that the NY times removed the word 'BURLY" because it had (to them) racial overtones. Is that right? I say no.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:24 PM

No, of course, someone who does not know the history cannot be held responsible. But those who know the history, as you do now, and use it anyway can be held responsible for being insensitive if they use the phrase without regard to what it may mean to African Americans. Why even go there if you know that the phrase is racially charged and painful to such a lot of people?

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:27 PM

pATRICK, the original version was, sadly, still common knowledge in my youth.

We are in fact responsible for knowing certain things in life. Think of Alberto Gonzalez' spectacular amnesia during his Congressional questioning -- it didn't fly, because most people reasonably believed he did in fact know the answers, but was playing CYA behind claiming not to know or remember.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:27 PM

pATRICK:

I remember doing enee meenie minee moe with my dad as a kid using the word "tiger." That was the only way I'd ever hear that poem.

I discovered the original version in Jr. high.

I was horrified and haven't used that poem since.

I think most people who might unknowingly use the tiger version should certainly understand why someone would find it offensive and willingly cease and desist once informed of its origins.

This is not a freedom of speech issue.

This is an Emily Post, good manners issue.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 14, 2007 5:32 PM

This discussion of words that are racially charged and can be misconstrued just reminded me of the film, "The Human Stain." It was such a wonderful film, and gave you so much to think about in terms of racism and what it has meant to our society and our humanity.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:34 PM

pATRICK:

I remember doing enee meenie minee moe with my dad as a kid using the word "tiger." That was the only way I'd ever hear that poem.

I discovered the original version in Jr. high.

I was horrified and haven't used that poem since.

I think most people who might unknowingly use the tiger version should certainly understand why someone would find it offensive and willingly cease and desist once informed of its origins.

This is not a freedom of speech issue.

This is an Emily Post, good manners issue.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 14, 2007 05:32 PM

I would agree, i don't use it either.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:37 PM

Vegas Mom, I agree re etiquette. Unfortunately, crude people tend to labor under the delusion that behaving with good manners somehow impinges upon their Constitutional rights.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:37 PM

"And LizaBean, thanks -- that is the argument I was talking about. Honestly, I don't know whether it applies in the immigration context, but given the foreign relations bent, I thought it might. I hadn't read the recent case, so didn't realize it was decided on preemption instead."

Posted by: laura | August 14, 2007 05:13 PM

It was decided on pre-emption and civil rights, but Judge Munley put in enough dicta about how local laws like this might mess up our foreign relations that he surely had "exclusive federal area" in mind, even though he didn't put that into his holding. Anyway, we'll find out more when the case hits the Third Circuit.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 14, 2007 5:38 PM

I didn't know the rhyme had that particular 'alternative' version (we always said eeny, meeny miney mo, catch a piggy by the toe, if he hollers let him go, eeny, meeny miney mo). I knew 'jig' was racist (I think it's short for 'jigaboo' -- I don't know, and I don't really WANT to know, since I don't use either word anyway, unless I'm describing an Irish dance).

And I don't think we can classify innocently using a sanitized version of a nursery rhyme (which most people probably don't even know is a sanitized version of an offensive ditty) in the same league as Alberto the Weasel's transparent lies to COngress.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 5:38 PM

yep, the rub is where's the line. I read about a SW airlines flight attendant who was nearly fired because she jokingly said 1234, catch a tiger by the toe, store those trays we gotta go. A black person complained that she was being racist. Sometimes we need to tell all people to get a grip.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 05:07 PM

AND later:

I would agree, i don't use it either.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 05:37 PM

Patrick, if you agree, then why the earlier post about telling people to get a grip? Or did you just change your mind because you did not know the phrase's history before (giving you the benefit of the doubt).

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:42 PM

pATRICK wrote: " I read about a SW airlines flight attendant who was nearly fired because she jokingly said 1234, catch a tiger by the toe, store those trays we gotta go."

Another issue here, which perhaps one of our attorneys can address, is that an employee of a private firm (like an airline) does not have unfettered free speech rights in the workplace. S/he is obliged to do the employer's bidding. I'd have thought the attendant would have a standard company-issued script s/he was required to follow WRT storing trays, rather than ad-libbing.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:44 PM

Catlady -- Have you ever flown Southwest?

They do their best to hire funny people, with varying degrees of success. Lots of adlibbing and joking rather than the serious, "These are our rules, follow them or else!" routine.

My favorite example: "Smoking is permitted on all of our flights. We just ask that you step outside before you light up."

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 14, 2007 5:47 PM

"Another issue here, which perhaps one of our attorneys can address, is that an employee of a private firm (like an airline) does not have unfettered free speech rights in the workplace. S/he is obliged to do the employer's bidding."

Good point. This reminds me that during the winter holiday season, some retail employees are prohibited from saying Merry Christmas and must say Happy Holidays instead, in order to not make uncomfortable patrons who do not celebrate Christmas. All in all, not a freedom of speech issue, but rather an issue of good manners, and to a certain extent, when business are concerned, of public relations (which can be tricky).

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 5:48 PM

mehitabel, I think one of the draws of Southwest (other than low fares, of course) is the informal atmosphere on their flights. My son has flown on SW several times, and he said he actually enjoys his flights.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 5:48 PM

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 05:42 PM

Hmm, that does seem incongrous on paper. I don't use it because I know the background and it would be rude of ME to use it. She did not, I believe, because she would have had to be an idiot to say that, knowing its meaning to a plane full of people. I said get a grip because for her to lose her livelyhood would have been wrong in that circumstance.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 14, 2007 5:49 PM

Definition of jig from the Merrian Webster online dictionary.

1 a : any of several lively springy dances in triple rhythm b : music to which a jig may be danced
2 : TRICK, GAME -- used chiefly in the phrase the jig is up
3 a : any of several fishing devices that are jerked up and down or drawn through the water b : a device used to maintain mechanically the correct positional relationship between a piece of work and the tool or between parts of work during assembly c : a device in which crushed ore is concentrated or coal is cleaned by agitating in water
- in jig time : in a short time : QUICKLY

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 5:49 PM

I had to give a shout out to for the matt from aberdeen theme song. That was actually pretty damn funny by an anon.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 14, 2007 05:17 PM

PP, I liked it also but as you know, I rarely give out the FQOTD to anon's.

Besides, I took the day off and Irish Girl had me snorting Special K out of my nose this a.m.

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 5:52 PM

Fred, "Jig" is, lamentlably, a shortened version of another offensive old-time synonym for the "N" word. It's also, as you cite, a legitimate word in other contexts, but needs to be used carefully so as not to be reasonably misinterpreted.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 5:55 PM

Fred,

With all due respect my young friend, Merriam Webster's online version doesn't purport to be a definitive resource for word origins and derivation.

Others may approach this differently, but there's a difference between using vulgar language in front of someone who may not prefer to hear it, e.g., off-color jokes on this blog, and insulting someone's ethnic background. As some reasonable persons hereabouts have expressed that others not diminish the meaning of the term, "Nazi", by applying it casually, other reasonable persons might note that it takes little effort for someone to avoid using the term "jig" in a manner that evokes its racist baggage.

I agree the flight attendant shouldn't lose her employment over an unfortunate choice of words, the source of which was unknown to her.

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 5:58 PM

OK, whose turn was it to feed the blogmonster? It just ate my post on the use of merry christmas/happy holidays, which I don't feel like retyping.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 6:05 PM

educmom_615: Just before hitting the "Submit" button, block and copy your post (to CYA). Then if the blog swallows it, you can just paste in the message and try sending it again.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 6:09 PM

"I agree the flight attendant shouldn't lose her employment over an unfortunate choice of words, the source of which was unknown to her"

I agree as well. When I was a child, we used to do the eenie meenie rhyme as well, without any idea where it came from. It was all very innocent. And now, my son has picked it up at school and uses it also. I have not said anything to him about the history of the phrase or what it used to mean to African Americans. He is only 7 and is very innocent about racism. I don't think he has any idea that racism is out there or that it is hurtful to so many people. In some ways, we have sheltered him intentionally, and tried to shield him from people and from remarks and conversation that are racist in the hopes that he will not adopt those attitudes himself, and that he will make his friends on their merits rather than their skin color or ethnicity. And I would like to broach the subject, but have not figured out how to do it yet, in an age appropriate and sensitive manner. But this is something I have to think about, because he is getting older, and eventually, will need to know more about race relations in this country.

Posted by: Emily | August 14, 2007 6:10 PM

Thanks, catlady (I think you gave that advice to someone earlier today...I should have paid attention then)

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 6:11 PM

Educmom, it's happened to the best of us!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 6:14 PM

And, free speech ONLY refers to speech 'censored' by the government. YES I DO have a right to tell you what to say (not that you'd listen, but still).

If I am a private person, and I'm hiring speakers, say, I don't have an obligation to hire those with opposing views, I can find ones that only espouse a certain point of view. And there's no 'squashing of free speech' there because the government isn't the one doing the squashing.

So when one refers to 'free speech' in how we talk to each other, it's not entirely correct. The constitutional right only means that the govt can't tell you what you can or cannot say - not a private individual.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 14, 2007 6:37 PM

Emily,

Our best friends' father is a retired NYPD police officer. He's also African-American and has traveled abroad extensively. He has educated both of our kids about racism in the US and abroad, from the days they were old enough to listen. Learning about racism from those who've experienced it has infinitely more impact than having your parents talk about it as something that happens to other people. In the same way that talking to a Holocaust survivor or visiting the Holocaust Museum is altogether more influential than hearing about the Holocaust in a history book. Please know that I'm not suggesting that I know what's best for you, your child, or your family; I'm simply offering one possibility to consider as you struggle with this parenting choice.

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 6:39 PM

mehitabel and Megan's Neighbor,

I do not quite understand what you are saying to me about the word jig. I mentioned that can have some racist meanings. I posted the dictionary definition to show that it means much more than what some people may think it means.

In my brother's industry, a jig is used to align automobile bodies during assembly, (...a device used to maintain mechanically the correct positional relationship between a piece of work and the tool or between parts of work during assembly.)

I am certainly aware of the connotations and denotations of many commonly used (and misunderstood) words.

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 6:59 PM

I read once that the use of the word "scotch" in "Scotch Tape" was originally intended to be derogatory. Apparently Scottish people were considered to be cheapskates and the word Scotch was often used to refer to things that were cheap or of low quality. Some company asked 3M to make a special tape for them, and 3M sent them some. It wasn't strong enough for what the company wanted and they referred to it as "Scotch Tape" meaning cheap and apparently the label stuck. can't vouch for the truh, bu interesting - I never knew that scotch had that use before.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 14, 2007 7:17 PM

BTW, on this the completion of my 55th year on this earth, I am depressed to find out that I am No. 2 not No. 1.

(sniff, sniff!)

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 7:17 PM

Oh, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Fred! Sorry I didn't say so earlier I'm little distracted right now..

Posted by: LizaBean | August 14, 2007 7:21 PM

Fred, You are always Number 1 in our hearts. *wipes tear from corner of eye*

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 8:07 PM

Fred, You are always Number 1 in our hearts. *wipes tear from corner of eye*

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 8:07 PM

Fred, You are always Number 1 in our hearts. *wipes tear from corner of eye*

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 8:07 PM

Geez - sorry about WaPO's continuing technology problems.

Posted by: Megans_Neighbor | August 14, 2007 8:10 PM

LizaBean,
Yes, the Scots have a reputation for being, as my father would say, *frugal* (I would say CHEAP). In fact, he wears it like a badge of honor. My #2 son is a great saver and doesn't like to spend his money, and Dad's so proud that the boy 'has Scots blood in him' I'm waiting for him to throw on a kilt & boil up some haggis!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 8:20 PM

Fred,
Who said you were Number Two?!?!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 8:22 PM

"pasty white woman" This does not offend me, I am pasty myself. I don't like the term lily white because it is used in a derogatory manner.

I have heard catch a "N" by the toe and have heard that some very big nuts are called "N" toes. Both are horrible things to say and my mother set the boy who told me straight.

I agree with Megan's neighbor about learning about racism. I have a good friend who I call my brother, who is black, his mother was a light skinned woman and when her and his father moved down south, people would drive by their house and call her an N lover. I've been called that myself and it is not a nice feeling, but I can't imagine being black and being called that. It's almost more offensive if you know what I mean.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 14, 2007 8:52 PM

Fred,
Who said you were Number Two?!?!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 14, 2007 08:22 PM

Blog Stats did!

Posted by: fred | August 14, 2007 9:46 PM

Fred, the Avis of the "On Balance" blog board.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 14, 2007 10:06 PM

MN - Thanks,
That is great advice (on learning about racism). I appreciate your suggestion.

Posted by: Emily | August 15, 2007 9:44 AM

angelos_peter:

"No, BabaBooey, I have no knowledge of economics, either macro or micro. I don't know science or engineering or politics or law. I don't know anything about anything....I have an IQ of zero...which I figure puts me about 50 points above you."

Wow. That is such a brilliant come-back. Since you are so intelligent, can you please explain to me (where I am clearly such a stupid, silly person) why you would post a remark that showed how uneducated and how simple you were?? Do you think that maybe, just maybe you could show a sense of humor in your answer?? Are you able to understand a request with multiple requirements such as this? If not, I can break it down and make it simple for you. Just let me know! Love you! Peace out!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 15, 2007 11:20 AM

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