Those acquainted with my political views know I am fundamentally opposed to illegal immigration and feel much needs to be done to overhaul our current immigration policies and create laws and procedures that are congruent with the state of California’s best interest.
I oppose the presence of illegal aliens because of the stifling effect they have had and continue to have on the real wages of native unskilled/semiskilled workers and the tremendous pressure large immigrant populations are placing on California’s environment, infrastructure, and natural resources.
Given those views, how is it then I support a bill that is designed to improve the due process afforded detainees and requires all detainees be treated with humanity and respect? My reasons are manifold and are as follows:
First and foremost, sweeps of illegal immigrants at places where they work and live have had little if no real impact on the overall flow of illegal immigration into the United States. Prior to the amnesty of ’86, roughly one million people would come north to work in the fields and roughly one million people would return south every year. However, the prospect of another amnesty and increased border security has motivated many to take up residence, albeit illegally.
The conduct of the sweeps and the detention of the illegal aliens can become quite costly. Moreover, it would at this point require 23,000 Boeing 737s to remove all the illegal aliens living in this country.
I believe if our government is serious about enforcing our immigration laws, it must go after the employers of illegal aliens. Want to turn this stream into a trickle? I propose fining employers 20% of their gross receipts when it’s discovered they are hiring illegal aliens. In a pre E-Verify world, an employer could easily claim plausible deniability, but no longer. Ending “Jus Soli” (right of birthplace) is another way but that will have to wait for a future article.
Second, like many progressives I am becoming increasingly concerned about the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government’s casual and increasing disregard for civil rights. At the risk of sounding alarmist and perhaps a little paranoid, we could be well down the path of Naomi Wolf’s 10 steps to fascism. For those not familiar with her writings, Wolf delineated a historical blueprint for turning an open and democratic society into a dictatorship. In her view, there are essentially 10 steps to creating a fascist state. And whether it is 1930s Italy and Germany, 1970s Chile, or the recent military coup in Thailand, the 10 steps show up again and again.
Step three as described by Wolf is the creation of a “thug class.” Blanket sweeps by law enforcement — whether by local, state, or federal authorities — should alarm any citizen in a democratic country. A couple years ago when the “Wall” rhetoric was in high gear, there was a lot of talk of establishing detention centers along the border. The question, I asked myself at the time, was detention centers for who?
Writing this article, I am reminded of the words of intellectual, Martin Niemöller, who lived in Nazi Germany. In a poem attributed to him, he stated apocalyptically:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
H.R. 7255, is a bill that was recently introduced into the House by California Congresswoman Lucille Roybald-Allard. The intent of the bill is to ensure the humane treatment of immigration detainees and I hope it passes. It enhances protections for unaccompanied alien children and mandates detainees have access to telephones and the ability to call free of charge legal representatives, foreign consulates, the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Federal courts, and all others who need to be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal representation.
In my view, any person taken into custody by the US government must be guaranteed the right to due process. Although I don’t lose any sleep over the detention of illegal aliens, given that the NSA was recently caught eavesdropping on the private conversations of US citizens living abroad without warrants (step 4), the Governor of Maryland placed the names of activists (including Roman Catholic nuns) on the Terrorist Watch List (step 5), I have to ask myself the question – when will they come for me (step 7)?
For more information on this legislation, go to OpenCongress.org
Kevin Lynn is a delegate and member of the Executive Board to the California Democratic Party representing the 46th Assembly District which includes the Downtown Core, Little Tokyo, China Town, Boyle Heights and parts of East and South Los Angeles. He is formerly the leader of thePasadena Chapter for Democracy for America, one of the most potent political activist groups in the San Gabriel Valley. Kevin’s goal is to elect fiscally responsible and socially progressive Democratic leaders to office. To that end he is currently forming an umbrella organization called the Center for Progressive Urban Politics to assist political organizations with turning red districts blue and forcing our elected officials confront the difficult problems affecting the state of California. Kevin grew up on a small farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, is a former Army officer and currently works as a tax consultant. His hobbies are reading history, skiing, backpacking, political activism and yoga.
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