Westerners are figuring out that their compassion is being abused and that the abusers’ preferred policies bring about outcomes that are an affront to the compassionate.
Ted Nesi highlights something in the recent Hassenfeld Institute poll that may be worth a deeper investigation:
The poll also showed that for the first time in years, more Rhode Islanders think the state is moving in the right direction than in the wrong direction, with 42% of voters saying it’s headed in the right direction, 36% saying it’s headed in the wrong direction, and 16% unsure.
Nesi combines the Hassenfeld results from the last couple of years with prior polls asking the same question on WPRI’s behalf to show that Rhode Islanders’ outlook has improved since 2010, when it was about 70% wrong track, 12% right track, to statistically even, now, at around 40%.
I wonder what effect population change has had on these numbers. Every year for the past 12, something like 20,000 to 30,000 Rhode Islanders have left for other states. Smaller numbers of people have moved here from other states. Over a decade, though, that’s an exchange or loss of about one-quarter of the whole population. If we assume people coming will have a more positive view than those leaving, that could have a big effect on a question like right-track/wrong-track.
It’d be interesting if pollsters would start asking how long survey respondents have lived in Rhode Island. The cross-tabs might be telling. New arrivals might skew the results positive, or those who’ve been here a while might be comparing our current stagnation with the huge deterioration of the last decade.
You’ll find out what I’m talking about as I do, because I’m just making it up. Probably something about immigration, some drug dealing going on, attacks on Christians, and letters to the editor.
Rhode Island Catholic recently ran an essay by syndicated columnist Tony Magliano in which he describes a recent trip he made for a “migrant immersion experience,” by which he means a planned excursion that covers some of the same ground as those who enter the United States illegally from the south. From the first paragraph, though, nagging unasked questions dog his heels:
Recently I was given a unique opportunity to taste some of the bitter hardships endured by fellow human beings fleeing drug gang violence, oppressive poverty and economic injustice south of the U.S. border.
Let’s state with moral certitude that we have a responsibility to help people who are suffering in the world as much as we’re able. What always bothers me about arguments like that which Magliano implicitly makes is that the recipients of our sympathy turn into objects for the exercise of our charitable feelings.
If their motivation for flight is violence, poverty, and economic injustice, don’t these migrants have a moral obligation to remain and save those who can’t or won’t leave? Yes, I realize that’s a very easy question for me to ask, standing at my computer in Rhode Island, but I’m not even saying it ought to be the full focus of advocates like Magliano. One never even sees it mentioned.
Moreover, why does it seem our focus is never on attacking those factors that create the environment that the migrants are seeking to escape? One can only do so much to alleviate the tragedy of children crossing the desert by focusing on their destination (and even then, to the extent we make it possible and attractive, we encourage the dangerous adventure). The real solution would be to end that which sets them in motion in the first place.
And again, isn’t it the moral obligation of their parents and other local adults to work toward that end?
A little bit of economic reasoning should lead columnists like Mark Patinkin to consider whether the “lazy gringo” thesis accurately describes America’s problem.
Obviously, they’ve still got a long way to go, but a mob of protesters’ showing up at a state representative’s home with a police escort and leaving a mess of signs is a step on the path to fascism:
Pawtucket City Councillors Sandra Cano and Meghan Kallman helped to lead the march, along with Fuerza Laboral’s executive director Heiny Maldonado and organizer Raul Figueroa. The group, escorted by the Pawtucket Police Department for the safety of the marchers, arrived at [Pawtucket Democrat David] Coughlin’s residence shortly before 9am and tried to get him to come out and address the crowd. Coughlin did not come to the door or answer his phone. A car with Coughlin’s House license plate 60, wrapped in a “Choose Life” frame, was parked in the driveway.
The crowd stood outside Coughlin’s residence for about ten minutes. Heiny Maldonado rang his doorbell and knocked, but did not get an answer. As the crowd departed, they left a small pile of messages, in the form of protest signs, on the front steps of Coughlin’s house. This is believed to be the first protest of a state legislator’s home in at least three years, and the success of the action points the way towards more such protests in the future.
Call it a trial balloon for fascism: target homes, intimidate, show up with a mob and the police, leave messages for the target to clean up (quotes: “Your Constituents Put You There. Your Constituents Can Take You ‘Out’,” “Resist,” “You do not represent our district,” and “Dream killer”), and publish photographs of his home from multiple angles having nothing to do with the “protest.”
Apart from the danger of fire, depositing these signs is not far off from a flaming cross, and the published photographs send the message “we know where you live” as clearly as a brick through the window.
Not only will the Coughlins of the state get the message, but anybody who might consider running for office while disagreeing with the brownshirts will have another reason to think twice. That’s what they want, and that is fascism.
Missing the kiss (and the point), teacher union fantasy, charity for them, and stuff for you
Open post for podcast.
Andrew McCarthy has been taking the lead in noting the basic principle behind some of President Trump’s immigration policy:
On Tuesday, John Kelly, President Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, published a six-page, single-spaced memorandum detailing new guidance on immigration enforcement. Thereupon, I spent about 1,500 words summarizing the guidance in a column at National Review. Brevity being the soul of wit, both the memo and my description of it could have been reduced to a single, easy-to-remember sentence:
Henceforth, the United States shall be governed by the laws of the United States.
That it was necessary for Secretary Kelly to say more than this — and, sadly, that such alarm has greeted a memo that merely announces the return of the rule of law in immigration enforcement — owes to the Obama administration abuses of three legal doctrines: prosecutorial discretion, preemption, and separation of powers (specifically, the executive usurpation of legislative power).
The erosion of the rule of law in the United States (and, of course, in Rhode Island) is a topic on which I’ve written a great deal in recent years. Note the political dynamic, though: The Left (encompassing the mainstream media, universities, various supposed good-government groups, and others) is willing to look the other way when the rule of law erodes in ways they like under progressive government, but then they’ll howl if the Right reaffirms the rules and scream if they can so much as insinuate that conservatives are promoting some similar erosion that doesn’t serve the progressive ideology.
Let’s hope the eternal record of the Internet (1) stays free and (2) gives the people an edge against the ideologues by helping us remember what has been said and done in the past.
This New American Economy study of immigration has been going around:
Though it is our nation’s smallest state, Rhode Island is home to almost 140,000 immigrants. The state’s immigrants are mostly of working age and play a valuable role in both the manufacturing and software industries. They are also bolstering the housing market by buying the wave of homes coming on the market as baby boomers retire; all of these positive contributions are critical to the success of Rhode Island’s economy.
For the most part, this has been deployed as part of the mainstream effort to blur lines on immigration, proclaiming the value of immigrants generally. That has always been a distortion of the debate; I don’t know anybody who objects to controlled immigration that takes account of the national interest and emphasizes assimilation. The first objection people have is to illegal immigration, and the (distant) second objection is to indiscriminate legal immigration that bolsters welfare roles and puts downward pressure on low-end wages.
With respect to illegal immigrants, note that, overall, immigrants in Rhode Island pay $886.1 million in state and federal taxes, based on income of $3,500 million. That’s 25.3%. By contrast, illegal immigrants pay $43.7 million on income of $365.2 million, which is 12.0% — less than half the rate for all immigrants. (The proportion for state taxes is roughly the same as taxes overall.) Note that the numbers for legal immigrants would be substantially more positive than the presented numbers, because illegal immigrants account for 20% of them and bring the numbers down.
Those on the political Left might say that this proves that illegal immigrants should be normalized so they’ll pay more taxes, but the type of work they do is different, as is their propensity to need financial assistance. The New American Economy study (surprise, surprise) doesn’t give information on welfare programs and other public expenditures (such as for education), but that’d probably be higher for the illegals, too.
Rhode Island should refocus immigration policy on those who contribute the most, certainly until our employment situation is no longer stagnant.
Something occurred to me while reading about the City of Providence’s refusal to go along with the federal government’s decision to increase the extent to which it enforces immigration laws:
Commissioner Pare said Providence won’t join a program that trains local cops to work as immigration officers. …
“Local law enforcement should not be immigration officers nor an arm of ICE,” Pare told Eyewitness News. “We will not be involved in the investigation or enforcement of immigration laws. This requires comprehensive immigration reform and should not be the responsibility of local law enforcement.”
Fair enough, but would the city participate in, say, an entrapment scheme involving the federal government and other agencies to net tens of millions of dollars in corporate money outside of their regular budgets? Or is the government profit in illegal immigration all in allowing it to go on?
Such developments as this too often go unchallenged:
Hoping to avoid boring visitors with “the life of a dead guy,” staff of the Roger Williams National Memorial Visitors Center presented a new exhibit Saturday that brought the political leader’s provocative viewpoints into the 21st century.
The exhibit, “New and Dangerous Opinions,” is the center’s first new show in more than 20 years. It draws parallels between Williams’ exile from Massachusetts and modern struggles for equality, seen with the refugee crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement.
If the goal isn’t to maintain awareness about an important “dead guy” and the details of his life, why are we funding it? Moreover, looking for modern parallels will inevitably turn the exhibit into political propaganda to advance a particular viewpoint and should not be maintained with taxpayer dollars.
One suspects, for example, that the “refugee crisis” is presented in a decidedly left-wing way and that the celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement is not accompanied by any parallel that isn’t encompassed by the progressive, Democrat-helping narrative. One suspects, for example, that such an exhibit would never lead visitors to see a similarity between Roger Williams’s exile to Rhode Island and Christian small-businesses’ inability to decide what projects they will take for moral reasons.
Again, if taxpayers aren’t funding straightforward maintenance of historical artifacts, then the programs ought to be ended and the money returned to the people. Let the exhibit designers find some other way to advance the progressive cause and the destruction of Western civilization that isn’t funded with money confiscated from people who’d rather keep it.
It’s always nice to see the Providence Journal catching up on topics that Anchor Rising covered long ago. Here’s Monique Chartier writing in 2011:
When someone goes to the State of Rhode Island and applies for social services, one of the first pieces of information for which they are asked is a social security number. However, there are instances when the applicant/recipient may not have one (more on that in a sec). When that happens, the staff at the Dept of Human Services is permitted to enter a “666” by-pass number – a nine digit number that starts with 666.
Know how many people are receiving benefits under a 666 by-pass number?
And here’s Katherine Gregg writing in the Providence Journal the other day:
The numbers: As of February 8, there were 3,419 people without Social Security numbers listed as receiving benefits by the new state computer system that tracks eligibility determinations and payments of publicly-subsidized benefits in Rhode island, from cash assistance to health care.They have been entered into the state computer system with the code “666” or “000” in lieu of a Social Security number.
That tiny increase brings to mind Monique’s 2011 question: “Are we to believe that there is a steady new batch of 3,300 applicants continuously coming into the system who need to use the by-pass number while waiting for a social security number or a copy of their card to arrive?”
Curious, indeed. Gregg got the state to insist that “fewer than” 750 of the beneficiaries using the bypass numbers are illegal immigrants. Per Monique’s earlier question, one wonders to what extent they are the same people receiving benefits six years ago, or whether there’s amazingly consistent churn.
We shouldn’t forget, by the way, that the bypass numbers can’t be the complete count of illegal immigrants receiving benefits. Consider this recent video of illegal immigrant activist Jose Vargas acknowledging that his grandfather bought him a Social Security Number. One gets the impression that such things are common, given that Vargas raises the matter as evidence that illegal immigrants pay taxes.
In summary, we still don’t know how much Rhode Islanders are paying for illegal welfare benefits.
CBC Radio Canada News takes up a second-order aspect to a news story about a man who is alleged to have inappropriately touched several teenage girls at a water park in Canada:
When Edmonton police announced the charges on Wednesday, they urged any other complainants or witnesses to contact them. One more complainant and one more witness have since come forward, police spokesperson Scott Pattison said Thursday.
The man charged in the case was a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada in January 2016, a fact that was reported Wednesday by numerous news outlets, including CBC News.
The story was quickly picked up by alt-right websites and anti-immigration groups. It was shared widely on social media.
As CBC tweeted, “When a refugee faces criminal charges, should the public be told?” How can there be any other answer than “yes”? As reaction to the story has proven, the detail is absolutely relevant to public discourse. Sure, the new bogeymen on the “alt-right” will attempt to amplify any such stories to advance their own point of view. But then, failing to report the detail is to aid and abet the “ctrl-left,” by maintaining talking points about how there’s no evidence of any problems with refugees.
The area across Northern America and Europe is sufficiently large that a unified decision among our media betters to withhold information they don’t find relevant in isolated cases could brush away hundreds of stories and present a false impression of reality to news consumers. It would be Rotherham on a Western Civilizational scale.
A news media that doesn’t trust us to be sufficiently intelligent to absorb and process this information is just feeding us ideological propaganda because they think they’re better than us. It’s that clear.
Even those who noticed that the “Day without Immigrants” was Thursday might have heard a different message than organizers intended.
Over on RI Future, Steve Ahlquist complains that, under President Donald Trump, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now detaining people for “even minor crimes.” Here’s Ahlquist’s example:
According to sources familiar with the incident, José Eduardo Cames (the third part of his name may be misspelled) lied to immigration officials at the border when he and his wife entered the country. They carried a baby with them that was not theirs, loaned to them from another family, to make a better case for themselves to stay in the United States.
An investigation revealed the lie, but under Obama, that did not make the couple a high priority for deportation and as long as they made periodic visits to an ICE office in Warwick, they were allowed to stay in the country. At their most recent visit to the Warwick ICE offices on Friday, ICE did not let them leave and detained them, said a source familiar with the case.
In other words, the “minor crime” that the couple broke was entering the country illegally, with the added dynamic of fraud, and the agency that the federal government has created at great expense to enforce that particular area of the law is holding them, perhaps to deport them. (Never mind that they “borrowed” a baby, as one borrows a car, perhaps with the intention that the child’s actual parents would then have an excuse to enter the country, which is arguably a form of exploitation and human trafficking.)
As I’ve written before, there are legitimately difficult cases in the immigration debate, but one gets the impression that progressives don’t actually believe that any of the cases are difficult. Their view appears to be that we should let everybody in at the border and then let them stay (seeding the government plantation and giving progressives political leverage).
Funny how moral principle in politics seems so often to align with self interest. Here’s Byron York in the Washington Examiner:
Why is Washington State mounting such a vigorous challenge to President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terrorism-plagued countries? Of course there are several lawsuits against the president, and there are lots of motives among the various litigants. But Washington State’s is the suit that stopped the order, at least temporarily. And a look at the state’s case suggests that, behind high-minded rhetoric about religious liberty and constitutional protections, there is a lot of money at stake.
Judging by the briefs filed by Washington State, as well as statements made by its representatives, some of the state’s top priorities in challenging Trump are: 1) To ensure an uninterrupted supply of relatively low-wage H-1B foreign workers for Microsoft and other state businesses; 2) To ensure a continuing flow of high-tuition-paying foreign student visa holders; and 3) To preserve the flow of tax revenues that results from those and other sources.
And don’t forget Medicaid, SNAP, public education, and other federally subsidized welfare programs available to legal and (probably) illegal immigrants on the government plantation.
American fascism, Moira Walsh’s evil men, and the governor’s bad arguments.
Click here for the podcast.
This Perry Chiaramonte article on FoxNews provides an important reminder both to Western Christians and to our non-Christian peers who see us as the enemy:
The report comes on the heels of another study by the Center for Studies on New Religions that showed nearly 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016 and that as many as 600 million were prevented from practicing their faith through intimidation, forced conversions, bodily harm or even death.
“These numbers underscore what we already know,” Robert Nicholson of the Philos Project, an advocacy group for Christianity in the Middle East, told Fox News at the time of the report’s release. “There are many places on Earth where being a Christian is the most dangerous thing you can be. Those who think of Christianity as a religion of the powerful need to see that in many places it’s a religion of the powerless. And the powerless deserve to be protected.”
The reality of different degrees of risk around the world for people of different religions shines a different light on domestic arguments about policy. In discussion of who can come to the United States in order to escape persecution and danger — refugees, which derives from the word “refuge,” let’s not forget — I have to confess that I find religion to be an absolutely appropriate criterion. A blanket ban on a particular religion goes too far, in my view, but if left-wingers scream about a “Muslim ban” based on geographic restrictions, they’d obviously find religious-preference rules beyond the pale, even though it would arguably be more reasonable and humane.
Taking a step back, progressives should understand that a great many people agree with me on this point, and harassing them into silence only hardens positions and makes problems more difficult to solve.
Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s Wall Street Journal column is eye opening:
… many Guatemalans I spoke with here last week are not dreading an anti-immigrant, protectionist Donald Trump in the White House. They’re focused on the exit of Barack Obama, whose foreign policy they saw as politicized in favor of left-wing causes and environmental extremism that harm Guatemalan development. …
The complaints extend beyond a difference of opinion about the role of the state. During the Obama years Uncle Sam repeatedly backed those who flouted the rule of law in the name of “social justice.”
Let me summarize what one might infer the Obama administration’s policy accomplished based on what O’Grady is saying. Yes, I’m insinuating a more cohesive plan than there may have been, but it’s telling whether intentional or not:
- One: Back corrupt groups that share Obama’s general ideology.
- Two: Drive people out of those countries and toward America.
- Three: Open the borders with selective border enforcement and promised benefits.
- Four: Change the electorate of the United States (they think) in favor of the former president’s party.
If that were, in any degree, the plan, one can’t help but wonder whether it assumes too much to think people driven from their homes by leftist governments wouldn’t carry that lesson with them. It seems like there ought to be opportunity for conservatives, here, if we can figure out how to communicate on the level of core values with communities that have this sort of experience in their background.
New U.S. Census estimates of states’ populations are out, and Rhode Island just like last year, experienced a small increase in population. And once again the details of the numbers give reason for concern.
For the second year in a row, total population increased by a smaller number. That is, 2014’s increase was 1,447, 2015’s was 1,127, and 2016’s is 819. The natural population increase resulting from having more births than deaths was the smallest since 2010.
Of more concern, though, is that more Rhode Islanders continue to leave for other states than to head in the other direction, but those departures are over-compensated with immigration from other countries. This year, we lost 3,784 Rhode Islanders to other states but gained 4,203 from other countries. (Illegal immigrants would be included in these numbers.) According to the Census, Rhode Island lost 28,565 residents to other states but imported 25,406 residents from other countries.
Putting aside the fact that people who arrived from other countries may have later left for other states, Rhode Island has, roughly speaking, swapped out 2.4% of its population for people from other countries. One needn’t be xenophobic to worry that this trend might not be ideal.
As the Rhode Island Family Prosperity Index report suggests, the Ocean State’s policy decisions are pushing our neighbors to leave. Meanwhile, the government plantation model of the state’s major industry (government) creates incentive for elected officials and bureaucrats to seek to import clients who’ll require their services (and provide them votes).
Writing in the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard lists some programs for American citizens that are seeing their funding drained in order to pay for services for illegal immigrants making their way over the border:
The Department of Health and Human Services is raiding several of its accounts, including money for Medicare, the Ryan White AIDS/HIV program and those for cancer and flu research to cover a shortfall in housing illegal youths pouring over the border at a rate of 255 a day.
HHS is trying to come up with $167 million to fund the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is accepting the youths, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. …
The money, [Policy Director Jessica Vaughan] said, pays for “shelters, health care, schooling, recreation, and other services for the new illegal arrivals, who typically were brought to the border by smugglers paid by their parents, who often are living in the United States illegally.”
I’m most definitely not one to assume that the eight specific transfers mentioned will not come from waste, and I’d rather use money that’s already been confiscated from taxpayers (or put on our massive debt tab) to provide basic necessities for poor children anywhere in the world than to fund the adult-entertainment habits of employees of the federal government (for example).
But the article is useful in framing a basic policy reality. As a point of fact, money spent on welfare and other services for illegal immigrants necessarily comes from some other expenditure, whether reducing government services for citizens or leading to more taxes.
For that matter, it’s worth reminding people that money collected through taxes, fees, and fines doesn’t just appear out of people’s bank accounts. It necessarily means the money isn’t spent on something else, especially in an era in which vanishingly few people truly keep cash lying around unused.
Even those who are willing to simply brush aside questions about the government’s right to take people’s money away to pay for things that powerful people value still have to ask whether the thing to be purchased is worth sacrificing the things not purchased. Too often, we allow government officials and their satellites to spend money as if there is no downside to doing so.
Without the motivation of the government plantation, Americans would find their comfort point and compromise on immigration.
Maggie Gallagher succinctly describes the Trump policy platform, inasmuch as it is possible to discern and predict:
Here is the new Party of Trump that we saw in this convention: liberal in expanding entitlements, pro-business in terms of tax and regulations, non-interventionist in foreign policy, socially center-left (with the possible, but only possible, exception of abortion).
Americans who pay attention to politics and policy tend to err, I think, in allowing themselves to be drawn toward the exchange of discrete, independent policies as a form of compromise. I give you this social policy; you give me that regulatory reform. That’s how we end up with a worst-of-all-possibilities mix of policies that, for example, encourages dependency while socializing the losses of major corporations, all to the benefit of the inside players who are well positioned to manipulate the system to serve their interests.
Broadly speaking, policies are components of a machine that have to work together, with a basic operating principle. As the most-charitable interpretation, the machine that Gallagher describes is designed to drive corporations forward in order to generate enough wealth for government to redistribute as a means of providing comfort and accommodating the consequences of an anything-goes society, with the world blocked out at the borders and not engaged in socio-political terms so as to avoid bleeding of the wealth. (The only difference between that vision and a fully progressive one is that progressives don’t want the machine to be independent, but to be plugged in as a component of a bigger, international machine.)
Put that way (again, most charitably), Trumpian nationalism doesn’t sound too bad. Unfortunately, the lesson of the past few decades (at least) is that the machine doesn’t work. The corporations recalculate to the reality that the politicians’ plan makes them (not the people) the engine of the whole machine, while the value of promising entitlements leads politicians to over-promise and the people to over-demand, particularly in response to the consequences of loose culture, while the world outside the borders erodes the supports of our society and allows implacable enemies to rally.
Now add in the stated intention of Donald Trump to actively agitate against members of his own political party because they show insufficient fealty, and the policy mix points toward disaster. The aphorism that “success is the best revenge” is apparently not good enough for Trump. More than that, though, from his late-night tweets about the pope to this planned attack on Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and some unnamed foe, Trump shows no realization that these leaders have supporters. Trump is free not to respect Pope Francis, but his behavior shows that he has little concern for the vast world of Roman Catholics. His own supporters Trump loves, and he’s happy to condescend to them; those who aren’t his supporters are either enemies or inconsequential.
Nobody should have any trust that they’ll continue to have Trump’s support starting the moment their interests conflict with his, and that has implications for the instructions he’ll attempt to give the machine.
Yes, one of the very few arguments in favor of a Trump presidency is that he may remind certain sectors of American civic society about the importance of the checks and balances designed into our system. However, Trump’s behavior has also proven that we should not assume he’ll moderate or react well to the reinstated rules of the game.
This isn’t to say that our electoral alternative is any better. As I’ve written before, more than any I’ve ever seen, this election hinges on the timing of oscillating disgust with the two major candidates. The wise move may very well be not to invest much wealth, energy, or emotion in the outcome, devoting personal resources instead to battening down the hatches.
Demographic trends indicate something that Rhode Island is doing wrong, not something that voters and policy makers should consider inevitable.
Early on in this session, asked for an opinion on a bill that would allow the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (i.e., the executive branch, i.e., the governor) to enter reciprocity agreements with other countries with respect to driver’s licenses, I suggested that it contained a loophole for executive granting of licenses to illegal immigrants so big that a truck could drive through it, with room for a toll gantry. The final version of the legislation, which passed the General Assembly, answered that concern to a high degree.
Well, surprise, surprise, Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo vetoed it, with a strange rationale:
In a veto letter signed late Wednesday night, Raimondo said she supports the reciprocity aspects of the bill that would have potentially allowed someone with a foreign driver’s license and an active visa or green card to get a Rhode Island license without taking a test. But she took issue with a section that would have narrowed existing standards — requiring those drivers to submit additional documents before their foreign licenses could be recognized in Rhode Island. …
“The additional application and certification requirements of this bill are at odds with the [Geneva Convention’s] purpose of simplifying and unifying driving regulations on an international level. As such, these restrictions limit rights granted by the Convention and thereby violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution,” Raimondo wrote.
I’m no expert on the Geneva Conventions, and the governor’s veto message doesn’t appear to be online, so I don’t know if she provided some additional legal explanation. However, the Geneva Conventions are mainly addressed to war-time matters. A 2009 booklet for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators gives the impression that what’s really at issue is a United Nations Convention on Road Traffic, to which the United States agreed in Geneva in 1949. There, one finds the “establishing uniform rules” language, but also that the convention doesn’t have any mandates for foreigners in a country for more than a year, and it also refers to international driver permits (IDPs), which could easily be interpreted to be the foreign nation’s way of validating the person’s driver’s license as required in the bill.
Who would have thought that this issue would be so complicated, both politically and legally? If the legislation comes up again next year, it’ll be worth a deeper dive, but at the moment it seems to me that either the governor’s goal is to secure the loophole mentioned above or the legislation isn’t needed in the first place, because anybody with a license and an IDP can drive here for up to a year, anyway.
Brexit and Luton don’t indicate a tension between latent nationalism and a more-enlightened elite, but between an economic model that creates opportunity and one that relies on mutual dependency.
It’s good news, of course, that the powers who be in Rhode Island have held off for at least another year before amplifying Rhode Island’s magnetism for illegal immigrants, but this sentence in a related Providence Journal article struck me:
“There are many undocumented Rhode Islanders who work and pay taxes, but don’t have the right to obtain a license, like they do in 12 other states (and Washington, D.C.),” Raimondo’s statement said. “The reality is that they are driving on the roads right now without a license, and that presents a public safety issue.”
I can’t help but see this statement from the governor in the context of all the legislation that I read, with proposals like license-plate scanners to catch anybody who dares to drive with lapsed insurance and, as I mentioned the other day, pervasive linkage of databases centered around personal prescriptions of Rhode Islanders and their personal connections, to track the distribution of certain drugs.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that some laws will be broken in our society, but why, do you suppose, the governor is so keen to accommodate just a certain group of law breakers?
So, it turns out that the same Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that suppressed conservative Tea Party groups in order to help a progressive president win reelection is helping illegal immigrants to commit tax fraud:
Asked to explain those practices, [IRS Commissioner John] Koskinen replied, “What happens in these situations is someone is using a Social Security number to get a job, but they’re filing their tax return with their [taxpayer identification number].” What that means, he said, is that “they are undocumented aliens … . They’re paying taxes. It’s in everybody’s interest to have them pay the taxes they owe.”
As long as the information is being used only to fraudulently obtain jobs, Koskinen said, rather than to claim false tax returns, the agency has an interest in helping them. “The question is whether the Social Security number they’re using to get the job has been stolen. It’s not the normal identity theft situation,” he said.
On the immediate issue, one must wonder how much these folks are actually paying in taxes. More likely than not, they’re having taxes withheld from their paychecks and are filing in order to secure a return. How many, do you think, wind up getting money back as earned-income tax credit (EITC) handouts?
More important, though, is the lackadaisical handling of the law. The message to the American people is consistent from the abetting of illegal immigrants Social Security fraud to the handling of Hillary Clinton’s apparent misuse of classified documents as secretary of state: The law does not apply equally to everybody, and may not apply at all to politically favored groups.
Then there’s the notion that using false Social Security numbers to secure jobs is a victimless crime. The public should be assured that time worked on a friend’s Social Security account doesn’t wind up giving that friend a boost in benefits down the road, but more to the point, people who take jobs fraudulently prevent other people from taking those jobs and drive down the wages that employers must pay in order to find employees at market rate.
So, if it’s questionable whether these illegal immigrants ultimately pay taxes and if it’s certain that they drive down wages for American workers, why would a government agency whose whole reason for being is supposed to be to serve citizens assist in perpetuating fraud rather than assist in maintaining the rule of law? I don’t know, but I happened to be reviewing election law, yesterday, in relation to a local controversy in Tiverton, and I was reminded of Rhode Island General Law 17-1-3.1(b)(3), which states that “the address from which [a person] filed his last federal income tax return… shall be considered prima facie evidence of [his] residence for voting purposes.”
Would an IRS that concludes that it’s “in everybody’s interest” to have illegal immigrants working and paying taxes think the same about having them vote?
Away up north, Jeff Jacoby uses his Boston Globe column to offer some explanation for “Why there are Muslim ghettos in Belgium, but not in the US“:
At a time when populist demagogues are doing so much damage to our social fabric, it is well to remember why Molenbeek is a European phenomenon, and not an American one. At the core of the American experience is a conviction that immigrants who come to America can and should become Americans. Patriotic assimilation turns profoundly dissimilar foreigners into proud and happy Americans. “Muslims in the United States,” Pew found, “reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics” around the world.
That aspect can’t be disputed, although it’s a little too easy to stop there. Another factor one would have to cite would be that the United States is not reachable by land from all-Muslim countries, so the poor immigrants we draw here for work tend to be Central and South American Hispanics, who tend to be Christians.
I suspect, as well, that the sheer vastness of the United States helps, as well. In fact, I wonder if that bane of progressives, sprawl, doesn’t have some benefits. The thought occurred to me while reading about Grow Smart Rhode Island’s objections to Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s helping Citizens Financial move its operations to an area currently covered with trees:
“We object … to the decision by the Raimondo Administration to commit public resources to help facilitate the type of move that undermines Rhode Island’s progress in incentivizing the revitalization of its cities and town centers while protecting and preserving its remaining farmland and forestland,” Grow Smart said in a news release.
Cities and dense, “walkable” town centers would seem much more conducive to the development of ethnic enclaves. Part of assimilation is interacting with people who are different. It’s one thing to hear radical messages from a religious figure and then go live and shop among the people you’re supposed to hate. It’s another to hear those messages and then go about your life among a community that explicitly or tacitly shares your worldview.
As Jacoby admits, as well, that isn’t to say that one can’t become radicalized in just about any setting, but one suspects that when it comes to being willing and able to develop terror networks, the immersion has an exponential effect.
Tuesday at the State House:
Debate over making it legal for undocumented immigrants to drive automobiles in Rhode Island echoed through the State House Tuesday as hundreds turned out to have their voices heard on a series of bills on opposing sides of the issue.
Illegal immigration erodes taxpayer-funded budgets, wages, jobs for legal immigrants and citizens, public safety and sovereignty. The only way to address it is to stop offering incentives for people to come here – here to the United States and, in this case, here to Rhode Island. For the State of Rhode Island to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens would be a step in exactly the wrong direction as it would encourage rather than discourage illegal immigration into the state. Most deplorably, state elected officials who are advocating for these licenses are doing so for crassly selfish, politically-self-promotional reasons and definitely not with the best interest of Rhode Island – or, laughably, public safety – at heart.