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International Gangsters in the Land of the Government Plantation

In 2015, I presented Lawrence, Massachusetts, as a cautionary tale of the government-plantation economic model.  Just as industrialists once attempted to draw in foreign labor to the “company town” because it was less expensive, the local government is turning the city into a “government town,” whose main source of income is transfer payments from outside to pay for government services.

Consequently, this recent Boston Globe article caught my eye:

The federal government’s relentless assault on the feared MS-13 street gang in Greater Boston continued this week, with two members of the violent outfit admitting to their roles in the 2015 slaying of a 16-year-old boy in Lawrence, authorities said.

True, immigrant gangs are nothing new to the United States, and homegrown gangs certainly exist.  Still, tracing the arrival of an international criminal enterprise is a necessary task, and one needn’t indulge too much in speculation to propose that using immigration to bolster the population in need of government services leaves a region vulnerable to this sort of invasion.

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Maybe with Compromise Something Like This Wouldn’t Happen

The story of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) detention of Lilian Calderon has been difficult to understand, and this information, as Caroline Goggin and Sarah Doiron report for WPRI doesn’t help much:

An affidavit submitted by ICE officials Wednesday listed three reasons for Calderon’s detainment:

  • ICE beleived her 2002 order of removal rendered her a flight risk
  • According to ICE, there was a “lack of child care issues” for her two young children
  • ICE said there was the availability of bed space at their detention facility in Boston

I suppose there may be some private detail in one of the first bullets that would cast the story in a different light, but whatever it might be, it would have to overcome a policy preference not to punish people for trying to do the right thing.

Of course, polarization of this issue probably contributes to our inability to formulate a more-reasonable set of laws.  Pro-immigration advocates have incentive not to act on areas of agreement because then they’d lose leverage for their more-radical agenda.  That leaves agents trying to enforce laws that could easily be tweaked to ensure that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

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Returning Reasonableness to Immigration-Welfare Enforcement

This, as Robert VerBruggen presents it on National Review Online, certainly seems reasonable:

Trump plans to better enforce the federal law saying that immigrants can’t come — and can’t get permanent residency or a new visa status if they’re already here — if they’re likely to become a “public charge.”

Basically, the proposal would broaden the public welfare programs that would count as, umm, public welfare programs when determining whether to accept or extend the stay of immigrants to this country.  For those already here, more than six months of reliance on welfare programs would count against one in the application process — not as a decisive on/off switch, but as a consideration.  Currently being over 250% of the official poverty line (which basically upper-working to lower-middle class) would erase the “strike.”

It’s one thing to have more or less open borders when a person’s presence in a country doesn’t legally obligate others to provide support.  With an expansive welfare state, a country has to reassess.

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Cicilline Reinforces the Suspicions That Elected Trump

In the Bonus Q&A of a recent Rhode Island Public Radio Political Roundtable, Democrat Congressman David Cicilline responded to a question by RIPR commentator Scott MacKay in a way that affirms the suspicions that many of us have had about the thinking of federal politicians, especially on immigration and especially among Democrats.  MacKay asked, “Would you be willing to appropriate federal money to build Trump’s wall in exchange for taking care of the Dreamers?”  Cicilline responded as follows (emphasis added):

You know, the proposal that Senator Schumer put before the president, that he has now withdrawn is something that I think it would be challenging for most Democrats to support. I support border security. I think that will obviously mean repairing some of the existing wall, maybe building some fences. It ought to be done in a smart, efficient, effective way. The president’s own chief of staff said a wall is not the way to secure our border. So, it’s probably not the best way to go forward.

Although, Louis Gutierrez said the other day: We ought to vote for the wall, take care of the Dreamers and then when we get back into the majority, in November, we can repeal the wall. That’s not a bad strategy.

As the recent cliché goes, this is why we got Trump.  Part of the reason that immigration has become such a challenging issue is that the political Right has known for decades, now, that any deal must implement the stronger security that they seek before any of the laxity that the political Left wants can be done.  That’s because we know that any sort of amnesty or relief will be done immediately, and then the federal government will never get around to implementing greater security.  All that sequence does is send the message worldwide that the U.S. will ultimately bend its rules for people who can get here while leaving open the gaps to enter the country.

The lesson applies more broadly, too.  We know from experience, and now from Cicilline’s own words, that his party nationally is not interested in fair negotiation and good faith negotiations.  They have political objectives, and any promises, rules, and a sense of shared nationality are nothing in the face of those goals.

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So… Still No “REAL ID” In RI?

The Providence Journal has a small article on a procedural matter (Rhode Island receiving an extension to comply with federal standards for drivers’ licenses), but this paragraph is interesting:

In 2005, the federal government passed the REAL ID Act in response to the 9/11 terror attacks to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. The act prohibits federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration, from accepting licenses and identification cards for official purposes from states that do not meet certain standards. Those standards include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States, and states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.

So, do we know if the DMV is adequately checking identity and/or lawful immigration status?

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An Alternative Rationale to Bigotry

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