Facing Immigration Overseas

Guest Blogger: Maria Luisa Olivieri, English as a Second Language Teacher, Winston-Salem, NC

Xenophobia and fears of terrorism are fueling an anti-immigrant hysteria in the world’s powerful nations. Spain has apparently not succumbed to such hysteria, having received its fill during Franco’s regime. Instead, Spain has developed a unique and proactive immigration strategy.

Over the past five years, Spain has implemented a radical immigration policy. The government’s 2005 move to grant amnesty to approximately 700,000 illegal immigrants appalled many fellow EU countries. Despite this reaction and the risk of increased immigration, Spain continued with its unique strategy. Workers who flocked to Spain for work were granted amnesty, for a mutual benefit. Though risky, this move has benefited Spain, bringing jobs out of the black market and forcing millions of Euros into the tax revenue system. Other nations should consider such concessions, even on a temporary basis. Many immigrants arrive not for citizenship, but to earn a living. When the jobs are gone, they are likely to be gone as well.

An August 11, 2007 New York Times article, “To Curb Illegal Migration, Spain Offers a Legal Route,” outlines Spain’s latest plan to handle the tens of thousands of Africans who come to the country illegally. Workers from Senegal can come to Spain legally to perform jobs that Spanish workers will not. After a year, Senegalese workers can bring their families to Spain and renew their visas every subsequent year. Early statistics for the first half of 2007 show that the number of illegal immigrants being detained off the Canary Islands dropped by half compared to 2006.And, the early statistics show that unemployment for native-born and foreign-born populations is down. The recent immigration strategy also fosters favorable foreign attitudes toward Spain. African countries supplying guest workers appreciate the program and the money being sent home. Not only is the Spanish government saving those who risk their lives to cross its borders illegally, it is also contributing to development in other countries. The Spanish government has created training facilities in Africa, which will educate workers who can return to their native countries as investors and entrepreneurs after working in Spain.

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Published in: on January 27, 2008 at 8:43 pm Comments Off on Facing Immigration Overseas

MADD about Immigration?

Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera got into a shouting match on television last week. It was very loud, and quite heated.

“This is the courtroom scene from ‘A Few Good Men’ after a case of Red Bull with the volume knob cranked to 11,” said Matthew Felling, an analyst with the Center for Media and Public Affairs. “Add to that the surreality of Geraldo being the voice of reason, and it’s the oddest video you’ll watch a dozen times.”

The issue they were debating was whether or not the immigration status of a drunk driver should have come into play following an accident he caused that killed two teenage girls. The accident happened about 50 miles away from William & Mary, in Virginia Beach, VA.

Rivera emphasized that this is a tragic drunk driving story and has nothing to do with immigration. Bill O’Reilly used it as an opportunity to call Rivera an anarchist who wants “open borders”, as well as calling for the head of police and the mayor of Virginia Beach to be fired.

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Published in: on April 9, 2007 at 12:00 am Comments Off on MADD about Immigration?

Illegal Immigration

Local leaders of Chesterfield County asked the school board to investigate the legal status of children they suspected of being illegal immigrants. The school leaders denied the request, leaving local leaders a little annoyed, but as determined as ever to fight illegal immigration.

Leaders of the movement against illegal immigration frame the issue as an economic and legal one. For example in the Richmond Times-Dispatch article, Kelly Miller, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisor said “I feel we have a duty to the citizens of Chesterfield County to try to find out what these people are costing us and find out how we can deal with this in a lawful fashion”, while earlier noting that “if there are kids in the county schools here illegally from Richmond or Petersburg and we find out about those kids, they can be removed from our schools. But if they happen to be in this country illegally, we can’t do a thing.”

And while I certainly agree with the leaders of the movement against illegal immigration that there is an economic and legal dimension to the issue, I am not convinced economic and legal issues are the heart of the larger issue that they make it out to be. Without getting into the argument about exactly how much illegal immigrants contribute economically and cost economically, in which there is both sides offer conflicting data, I don’t buy the economic argument because those against immigration who base their arguments on the high costs often cite example of illegal immigrants using public goods.

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Published in: on March 5, 2007 at 10:43 pm Comments (1)

Free Speech and Cheesesteaks

Here’s an interesting question for all y’all:

Where do we draw the line between one man’s right to free speech, and another’s right to be free from discrimination?

That’s the question set for debate in Philadelphia. Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s Cheesesteaks, gained notoriety last summer for his vigilante anti-immigration campaign. Apparently frustrated with the fact that Mexican immigrants are slowly beginning to outnumber South Philly’s traditionally Italian-American culture, Vento posted a sign requiring all customers to speak English while ordering. This sparked a national discussion about the rights of Vento to control his business, and the rights of customers to speak their own language.

This week, Vento was notified by the Philadelphia Commission for Human Relations that his guerilla war on immigration is discriminatory. Vento asserts that the sign is merely an exercise of his First Amendment rights.

So, here we go: free speech versus tolerance.

(The irony of the situation is that Geno’s has an unwritten rule requiring patrons to speak gibberish while ordering. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ‘whiz wit,’ although I’d much rather go across the street to Pat’s.)

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Published in: on February 9, 2007 at 9:32 pm Comments (5)

Tuition for Illegal Immigrants?

The Virginia House of Delegates will soon be considering a number of bills dealing with illegal immigration here in VA. Unfortunately, these bills seem to reflect more and more the sharp, anti-illegal immigrant trend that, while useful for venting anger and frustration at the situation, does little to address the true problem.

First, the two proposals are pretty much contradictory. One makes it a misdemeanor to be in Virginia illegally, while the second allows state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Honestly, it is already illegal to be in America illegally, so the misdemeanor law is nothing more than a fancy waste of time at the taxpayers’ expense. The enforcement law will do nothing more than add additional burdens to the state justice system, creating more bureaucratic red tape while achieving little in terms of benefits, since the federal government should still be involved in any enforcement or deportation proceedings.No Child Left Illegal (CC Attribution 2.0)

Another proposal will deny in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and prohibit them from enrolling in a state university or college. Now, I can see, on the surface, why this might seem like a good idea. After all, the conservative logic would be that each dollar spent for an illegal immigrant student is a dollar not spent for a citizen; each spot in school given to an illegal immigrant is denied to a citizen. This logic works until you realize that this policy will do nothing to deter illegal immigration, rather, it will deter illegal immigrants from educating themselves to their maximum ability. The result: we have the same number of illegal immigrants, but now we’ve made it much more likely for them to enter into a cycle of poverty, increasing the risks of criminal activity or social welfare expenditures.

Additionally, since President Bush’s stance on this issue is more towards an amnesty position (granting citizenship to long-term illegal immigrants), and since the Democrats are likely more in favor of Bush’s stance rather than the hardcore conservative’s “throw them all out” position, one can’t help but perceive the potential problem that will result. If Bush’s stance becomes law, Virginia will then find itself with a large population of now legal immigrants, many of whom lack in education and high level skills training because of this policy. The state stands to lose more money correcting this problem then they ever would if they provided tuition and enrollment in the first place.

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Published in: on February 5, 2007 at 5:46 pm Comments (5)