And from the depths of right-wing talk radio, where the trial balloons of Republican policy are first lofted, we have this:
Iowa radio host and influential conservative kingmaker Jan Mickelson unveiled an immigration plan that would make undocumented immigrants who don't leave the country after an allotted time "property of the state," asking, "What's wrong with slavery?" when a caller criticized his plan.
Kinda puts the rhetoric from the Repbulican hopefuls about ending birthright citizenship in a certain context, doesn't it?
Sara Cuadra Berg, 42, of Fox Chapel applauded Holy Family's efforts. She came to the United States when she was 14 to escape war-torn Nicaragua. She was taken in by local nuns.
“I am the face of the children coming to this country ... This is your opportunity to say to a child, you are worthwhile,” Cuadra Berg said.
“The good works of the Holy Family Institute and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh have my full support,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement.
We've always been a nation of immigrants, most of our forebearers came here seeking refuge from war, poverty or discrimination. Immigrants make our country stronger, not weaker. They are an asset, not a liability.
Emotions are running high in Emsworth, where the Holy Family Institute has announced that it will take in up to three dozen child immigrants from Central America who have crossed the U.S. border illegally.
The Catholic nonprofit will house the unaccompanied minors while they wait to be placed with a family member or foster parents. The children will be under the age of 12. Sister Linda Yankoski of Holy Family plans to hold a public forum at 7 p.m. July 29 to address area residents' concerns about the institute's plans.
"A lot of community members are concerned about the disease and drug cartel involvement these children could bring," said Emsworth Mayor Dee Quinn. "The news was quite a shock."
Never mind that most of the "disease" concerns are totally without merit, a phantom created by the right-wing noise machine in order cast these refuges (and that's what they are) as "the other." Luckily, Central America doesn't have Jenny McCarthy and does have universal health care, so their vaccination rates are actually better than ours.
As approved and certified foster parents, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we get a phone call sometime in the future looking to place some of these children with us, and we will welcome them.
So what's the right-wing noise machine pushing today? Its a report that illegal immigrants have a recidivisim rate of "nearly 20%" according to Faux news. Thats based on a rate of roughly one in six over a three year period, or under 17%, which is closer t0 15% than it is to 20%, but whats a little number fudging in the interest of whipping up a frenzy?
But in order to be relevent, we have to look at what the recidivism rate is for the population as a whole. So what's that number? Well, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a 15 state survey conducted in 1994 found that over a three year period, the recidivism rate for all convicts was over 67%. A 1983 study showed an estimated rate of over 62%.
Now, I do not particularly like using stats that are decades old (the BJS is working on a new study using 2005 as a base year), but that's what I have to work with, so take it with a healthy dose of sketpicism, but it sure looks like the three year recidivism rate of illegal immigrants is substantially lower than the rate for the population as a whole. ( I did find a Philadelphia Daily News story from last year that put Pennsylvania's recidivism rate at 55% over five years) The BJS site also cites a single year recidivism rate for 2007 of "about 16%" which would make the three year rate for illegal immigrants the same as a single year rate for the population as a whole.
So why would the three year recidivism rate for illegal immigrants be so much lower? I do not know, but I'd speculate that vast numbers of illegal aliens who are convicted of crimes are deported upon release from custody. We now come to another problem with Faux's "reporting." Here's the first paragraph in the report:
Roughly one in six illegal immigrants is re-arrested on criminal charges within three years of release, according to new government data being released Tuesday.
And a bit further down, we find this:
The information was analyzed by the CRS, which also broke down the information for criminal immigrants -- legal immigrants who committed crimes and were arrested again over the three-year period. Together, the two groups also had a roughly one-in-six recidivism rate.
So the "roughly one in six" is similar to rate for legal immigrants, and using the 2007 single year number, the rate for all offenders! The headline and reporting are slanted in such a way as to leave the impression that recidivism among undocumented aliens is a huge problem, even though there is no statistical difference in recidivism among illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, or citizens, and if the three year numbers hold up in future studies, the rates for immigrants, illegal or otherwise, appear to be much, much lower. But why let the facts get in the way of a little fear mongering?
So the Supreme Court handed down two news making decisions yesterday. First, they declared that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional. Frankly, I do not find this decision all that controversial. They didn't rule that a life sentence was unconstitutional (although I find life sentences for juveniles pretty barbaric) just the mandatory ones. What I find truly distressing is that four of the justices (and we all know which four) think locking up teenagers forever, regardless of age or circumstances, to be a good thing. I do like that the P-G quoted Allegheny County Common Pleas judge David Cashman:
"I've never liked mandatory sentences because I don't think a mandatory sentence applies to all the parties," he said. "People are unique."
The second newsworthy decision was the Court gutting Arizona's "Papers Please" law. Wingnuts like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer are trying to turn lemons into lemonade by noting that the court upheld the provision allowing police to ask people they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally their immigration status. What everyone fails to note is that the police have ALWAYS been allowed to check the status of those they believe to be in the country illegally. Being in the country illegally is not a criminal offense, it is a civil offense, and Arizona had no right to criminalize it. Typically, Fat Tony Scalia had a meltdown over the majority's ruling. Apparently, states are "sovereign" when they do what Fat Tony wants, but, as in Montana's challenge to Citizens United, they're not when trying to do something he's opposed to.
Meanwhile, as the Court gets ready to issue its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, polling shows that majorities of Republicans and Independents like what's in the act, with the exception of President Obama's role in getting it passed.
Seriously, the insanity of red tape, expense, and bigotry that surrounds our immigration laws must come to an end. I'm tired of people screeching how their "ancestors came to this country legally" when prior to 1921, there were virtually no barriers to (European) immigrants, and the immigration laws enacted in the run up to the Great Depression were written in such a way to favor western Europeans at the expense of every one else who wanted to come here and try to make a new life for themselves.
This timeline is an excellent rundown on the history of our immigration laws, and how deeply seeped they are in racism and bigotry.