The Problem with Travel Bans

I read an article on Forbes about Trump’s travel ban and what struck me most is how people are looking at this issue. These lawyers are arguing about how it can be legal or what the legal problems are. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever had to deal with the courts you will understand that lawyers can remove all the humanity of an issue in short order.

Why is nobody looking at the usefulness of the order or how it affects people?

By broadly discriminating against a religious group the effect is obvious. If we are to believe most terrorists are Muslims, why are we not also telling Catholic priests they cannot work with children? I know to Christians that sounds like a horrendous proposition. The Muslim travel ban would sound equally as despicable if you were Muslim. We know not all Catholic priests are pedophiles, so we don’t even talk about such an idea, yet how can we so easily talk about Muslims like we are with this travel ban? I personally know many, many muslims and I know they are not terrorists. Many are some of the nicest, most generous people I know. A travel ban based on a religious basis is most incredibly insulting, insensitive and ultimately non-productive.

Many people are also discussing how it is NOT a discriminatory edict by reflecting on many Muslim nations that are not on the ban list, yet within all of the countries on the ban list we are clearly targeting Muslims. Saying we are not targeting Muslims from Pakistan so therefore we are not targeting Muslims is senseless. Why are Pakistan and Iraq NOT on the list? We know many terrorists train or are funded by some Pakistanis and ISIS is based mainly in Iraq and Syria. This makes no sense at all. We are targeting Muslim majority countries in conflict, yet we are not including Pakistan and Iraq, two of the most violent and troubled nations on earth? Clearly we are making this stuff up as we go along and trying to justify our actions based on not including a few very controversial nations. If we are just trying to make America safe, shouldn’t we also have a ban against white supremacists in public schools and movie theaters?

And since most people on earth are not terrorists, because if they were there would be terrorist events happening in every country every day, how is this affecting people and families who are not terrorists trying to come to this country, or especially those trying to flee the conflicts in their own home nations? It could be devastating for many very innocent people.

Then there are those who say people with citizenship, dual citizenship, visas, green cards, etc in the countries on the list are not affected. Why not? The people who flew into the twin towers had American visas. In England, many of the terrorists were citizens or had visas too. In the most recent attack in England, Khalid Masood was an English citizen. Why is England not on the no fly list? He could have flown here and committed his crimes. Look at France, Belgium and Germany. Citizens, visas all.

This brings up the usefulness of such a ban. We know that religion is not the perpetrator of terrorism. Christians and Muslims are listed in atrocities all over the globe, yet because we are a “Christian” nation, we are focusing only on the Muslims. This is blatantly discriminatory. You cannot argue otherwise without omitting many obvious and convenient facts.

Terrorists are Zealots. They are willing to go to extremes to get their message across. They use whatever facts they wish to use to carry their anger and hate to a broader audience. If we truly want to make the world safer, we need to work with all communities to disarm the hate, and disarm the individuals who would harm innocent people.

A real war on terrorism would put a ban on installing dictators and government that persecute their citizens in other countries just because they would work favorably with us. This would go far in removing hate against a nation because of how they are being treated by us. We also need to persecute organizations, companies and the very laws that make it easy for them to acquire weapons and the tools to carry out their crimes.

We need to reduce  the access to weapons as well as the ammunition of hate. This would be more effective than a travel ban. Unfortunately we love our easy access to weapons, and our greed keeps us producing hate around the world. We should stop blaming others for our problems and start taking the blame ourselves. Only then can we work towards making our nation and the world safer.

Stars and stripes on gun

3 easy steps for a better immigration system

Alex Nowrasteh   wrote a piece for outlining 3 easy steps for a better immigration system that the next president could do to help with our highly problematic  system. It is a wonderful article, but I wonder about the third suggestion of having states create their own visa programs. He makes several wonderful points about states having differing needs for guest workers, and therefore would be in position to create the most beneficial types of visas for the industries that need guest workers most and that are not currently offered by the federal immigration visa system, but you have to wonder about competing visa programs and how difficult it would make  it for guest workers to change jobs, move to another state, or transfer when a company moves and the new state does not offer the same kind of visa program. This could be fodder for new problems and a more difficult situation for companies and immigrant families.

Still, it is a wonderful article and well thought out, and at least somebody is looking at positive ways to mend our broken immigration system. Please take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

Clinton wants to pass immigration reform in first 100 days in office

Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine said Hilary Clinton wants to push for immigration reform in her first hundred days in office, should she get elected president. While this sounds good, President Obama has been trying to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744) for 3 years and has failed. The bill, co-authored by 4 democrats and 4 republicans, has met stiff resistance in the Republican dominated House of Representatives. Unless we vote out the stubborn Republican Senators who are against immigration reform, Hilary Clinton does not stand any more of a chance than Barrack Obama.


No Illeagles

Anderson Cooper says it all in this very short video about how highly uneducated people probably shouldn’t weigh in on important topics, especially ones they can’t even spell correctly.

Immigration Reform: Yes or No!

What’s it going to be?

The President says he believes there’s a good chance of passing immigration legislation this year. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan says no.

You can’t have it both ways. Somebody’s going to lose, and as usual, it’s going to be us, the American citizen.

I’m tired of this whole subject, aren’t you?  Year after year after year the Republicans feign interest in immigration reform and the Democrats, drooling at the chance for some kind of win, give in to almost all the Republican demands, and just when you think something’s going to happen–Bang! “Nope, we’re not going to even talk about immigration.” Then more negotiations. More compromises by the Democrats–Bang! “Nope, we’re not going to talk about immigration.”

Me thinks I see a pattern here.

We have been debating this immigration thing for so long I’m getting tired of listening to it. Our lawmakers aren’t going to do anything about this problem, so why talk it into the ground?

The only way the Republicans are going to move on immigration is when they know deep down in their hearts, they have to.

So let’s do it.  Let us for once draw a line in the sand and say,

“ENOUGH! We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.”

What do you think would happen if all the incumbents in the upcoming mid-term elections were to be replaced? Do you think that would send a loud enough message? Do you think then that our lawmakers will remember just exactly who they work for, and I don’t mean lobbyists or party king makers–us!

If they have to join the unemployed because they refused to do what we elected them to do, then I think they might actually HAVE to do something, because come November, if nothing, again, has been done about our immigration catastrophe, the ones still standing may stand to lose their jobs too.

It’s so crazy, it just might work.

Step #4 of the GOP grieving process: depression

The Republicans have officially entered the depression stage of the grieving process and are feeling the dark loneliness that often accopmanies depression. According to a recent pole, 25% of Republicans don’t even like their own party. This admission, coupled with the rumblings of possible change to a more “modern” political ideology, as well as a few early admissions of outdated views by the party from some of it’s more liberal members, and it is clear that a cloud of despair hangs grimly over GOP members, when thinking about their future.


Recently, the GOP tried to tell us they are fundamentally conservative, but they should also consider other viewpoints in order to stay intact. This is exactly the kind of backpedalling that is signaling a huge identity crisis within the party. Older party leaders who still view this country with an eye towards the past vs the younger party members who look to the future. This could be the perfect time to realign the GOP platform’s ideology with the rest of America. I know it’s sometimes difficult to admit when you’re wrong, but if you really listen to an argument, if it makes more sense than your own, it could be time to consider changing your position on the subject, not just agree to disagree.


One example of the GOP being wrong is on it’s attitude towards Gays and their actively advocating second-class status for a group of Americans because they don’t agree with their lifestyle. It’s okay not to want to be gay, but it’s not okay to treat people with less respect and offer them less in regards to human rights, than currently offered to the heterosexual citizens they do agree with.


Bringing this same view to immigration, as the GOP continue to postpone progress towards new legislation that will give our de facto citizens real legitimacy and therefore access to basic human rights, they will keep these workers and neighbors under protected, under represented and over exposed to abuse. If  these same GOP members were to view this type of behavior in another nation, they would call it discrimination. If they didn’t like that nation, they may even call it oppression. They might even call for it’s immediate end, and possibly call for sanctions to be imposed until it did.


Our country has been evolving into a much more democratic society for over two hundred years now. Our progress on human rights has been a slow, gradual process, and the Republicans, by no means, have been the only ones at fault. We have enjoyed fits and spurts of human rights progress, coupled with major setbacks, such as: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and it’s subsequent Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943; the Braceros program in 1949, and it’s subsequent “operation wetback in 1954.” We have been working towards achieving the high standards of human rights we set before ourselves, and push for our earthly neighbors to achieve, for a long time now. Surely we understand the difficulty in surmounting the many obstacles that have kept us from reaching our own lofty ideals thus far.

Standing in the middle of the road and shouting down progress will not give much life to anyone’s political future.  This is what happens when you do the majority of the talking and relatively little listening. This is sometimes called: drinking too much of your own Kool-Aid. Every once in a while, even the most successful politicians need to sit at someone else’s table and see what they are drinking.


As my mother used to tell me, “Try it, you just may like it.”


And if, for some reason, you do find that the opposing views make more sense than your own, changing sides does not have to mean failure. It could just mean that you are now on the side of the winning. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re winning.

In the Nationwide Immigration argument, Where is Amnesty International?


Posted 11/21/11


A few weeks ago I joined Amnesty international in order to connect with the part of their organization that was dealing with the immigration issue in the United States. I didn’t find much. I had to really search their website to find even an article on the subject. I guess the treatment of illegal immigrants in the United States doesn’t quite rank up there with the personal freedom abuses in other countries.


But why is that? Aren’t the numbers good enough? The entire hispanic population of the states with the harshest laws, Gerogia; Alabama; Arizona; South Carolina; and Florida is greater than some other nation’s entire populationthat prominently display the support of Amnesty International. And the Show me your papers or get arrested laws they have recently pushed forward not only affects the hispanic population in their respective states, both legal and not, but as we’ve recently seen with the arrest of the Mercedez Benz executive, the harrassment affects anyone pulled over for any reason


Maybe it’s not enough of a social injustice cause? We have politicians getting removed from office for sponsoring bills that invade the freedoms of the people in our country, and others apologizing for their mistake of voting for it so they don’t get removed as well. We have many people referring to the infamous Jim Crow laws when talking about the abuses of a minority in this country. And once again the 16th Street Baptist Church, a famous civil rights symbol from the 1960’s is making the news as politicians meet there to discuss Alabama’s new immigration law. I think that makes a civil rights statement that pretty much everybody understands.


Many other organizations, both large and small have lent their voices to the cause of how immigrants are being treated in this country as well. The ACLU along with a coalition of HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS is challenging South Carolina’s immigration law and the National Immigration Law Center has produced a 30 page report accusing government officials of pressuring illegal immigrants to accept quick deportation by threatening long detention if they stayed to fight their case.


So I would just like to know what it takes for Amnesty International to put some muscle behind this issue?

Stop Using the “I” Word: People are not illegal

People may be short, tall, thin, heavy, broad, blonde, brunette, lazy, self-conscious, hard working, narrow minded. . . but they cannot be illegal. It is not illegal to exist. A person can do something illegal, but that does not make them illegal. Calling someone illegal is at best an outward sign of disrespect, and at worst, a sign of sheer ignorance.

We do not need to rob anyone of their human dignity. Those who do, are doing so only because they have none and they think that taking some away from someone else will bestow upon themselves the characteristics they so jealously covet.

The problem is the press often uses this label when talking about people who have entered the United States without passing inspection at a border or immigration checkpoint. This is called Entering Without Inspection or EWI. While this is a federal misdemeanor, it does not place upon that person a demeaning lable, nor does it mean that someone who has done this is going to be untrustworthy at everything else they do. That logic is tragically unintelligent. If it were so, then the entire human race is guilty of crimes and therefore none of us is trustworthy and all of us should spend the rest of our lives in some kind of prison or probation program. Obviously that is a silly proposition.

If you hear or read someone using the term illegal when talking about a person or group of people, you should send them a note and let them know that nobody is illegal, actions are illegal, people are not. Request they refrain from this type of label or you will not

The United States Immigration Debacle, Part 2: The Role of Businesses


There has been a large group of Americans who have encouraged immigrants to come into the United States a little sooner than our foreign visa and immigration system permits: Business owners and managers, but are they criminals or victims?


Many businesses around the country have employed undocumented workers and paid them less, denied them benefits, and made them pay taxes, and anything else they could get away with for decades. Being illegal, you can’t really complain much can you?


We all knew this was going on.  All those millions of undocumented immigrants had to work for somebody, and at most times of the day in just about every town in the U.S. you will have seen a great many of them. And of course they worked cheaper than an American would — and harder.


They do all the heavy lifting, bending and picking, sewing, cooking, gardening, car washing . . . All the stuff we are now privileged not to have to do any more because we have a sub-class of citizen that will do it for us.


As business owners and managers we encouraged every undocumented worker we employed to tell their friends, cousins, aunts and uncles to come here and work for us.  This promotion of illegal behavior for the benefit of business is the reason there are so many of them here.


The reason owners and managers do this is quite logical: If you run a business and pay your employees the same wages a competitor pays theirs, you can offer similar services at similar prices. If all of the sudden your competition pays their employees lower wages and less benefits, then they would be able to charge less for the same service and still make the same amount of money. Your company would be in trouble when your customers found out and started contracting with the other guy, because they charge less, and we are always looking to save a buck. You would have to charge the same as your competition or go out of business, and suggesting to drop an employees wages has never been a popular course for any business manager. You will often lose your best employees that way.  Of course you could keep your prices the same and advertise that you are the Apple Computer of service companies, but that business model works for a very limited number of businesses, and many highly successful American companies export most of their production to countries with cheaper labor than can be found in the U.S., legal or otherwise!


So it sounds like a no-brainer; hire undocumented laborers like everyone else and stay in business, but there is one drawback to hiring undocumented workers: it is illegal. There are penalties for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. You can get fined and possibly even closed down for a period of time. Also, if the employee got picked up by any agency that bothers to check their legal status,  you could be out an employee that day, and have to make emergency arrangements for a replacement. If they can’t come back quickly, you may even have to interview and hire a new employee, which costs time and money.


I actually experienced something like this when I was joining the workforce. I was demoted from busboy back to dishwasher when one of the other dishwashers suddenly quit. It took several weeks before we were able to find a replacement, and get him trained. Companies lose good employees this way. I was not going to stay a dishwasher forever, nor sacrifice the additional income I received from tips.


The whole reason we are at this particular juncture in our country’s history is because we could not get our politicians to stop arguing long enough to fix our immigration quota system. We noticed it was not keeping up with the demand for cheap labor many decades ago, but somehow we constantly manage to stumble over our own feet.


The world’s demand for cheaper products has pushed a lot of production overseas where their workers get paid even less than our undocumented friends get here. Much less. Competing with them is extremely difficult, if not impossible for many businesses. The companies that are able to compete in the world marketplace have probably been outsourcing their production and even some services overseas for years. Importing cheap labor, exporting labor to cheaper countries, it’s all an issue of commerce. There is no escaping it.


So why don’t we change our laws to reflect the current state of affairs here at home and abroad?  Who are the people that have the power to change the laws, but have consistently kicked that can down the road a ways so someone else will have to deal with it some other time? That’s what we’ll talk about next week.