October 2011


Sen. Scott Beason has defended the school provision of HB 56 by claiming its just about statistics.

But lawmakers behind the new legislation say it’s all about statistics.

“We’re not even requiring them to turn any specific person in,” said Scott Beason, a Republican state senator.

According to Beason and other supporters of the law, Alabama taxpayers deserve an accurate assessment of how much they pay to educate the children of illegal immigrants.

While it is difficult to determine how many illegal immigrants attend Alabama’s public schools, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a non-profit advocacy group calling for tougher immigration reform, estimates the national cost of educating children of illegal immigrants at nearly $52 billion per year.

“We have a certain hypothesis of how much we’re spending,” Beason said. “But we need to begin to gather that data so we can prove how much of a problem it really is.”

We now learn it is not really just about statistics; the New York Times reveals the real motive behind the law.

The man who wrote the schools provision says the same thing, that it is not meant as a deterrent — at least not yet. It is, however, a first step in a larger and long-considered strategy to topple a 29-year-old Supreme Court ruling that all children in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, are guaranteed a public education.

The provision, which is known as Section 28, requires primary and secondary schools to record the immigration status of incoming students and their parents and pass that data on to the state.

Critics say it is a simple end in itself, an attempt to circumvent settled law and to scare immigrants away from school now, not at some point in the future. Weeks of erratic school attendance figures and a spike in withdrawals show that this has worked, they argue. And indeed, a federal appeals court on Oct. 14 blocked the provision pending an appeal by the Justice Department, though the court did not rule on the merits.

Michael M. Hethmon, general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute in Washington, who wrote the provision, insists that its goal is much more ambitious.

The eventual target, he said, is the 1982 Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe. The case concerned a Texas statute that withheld funds for the education of illegal immigrants and allowed districts to bar them from enrollment, as well as one Texas school district’s plan to charge illegal immigrants tuition.

The court ruled that this violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, saying that the statute “imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable” for their immigration status. In the decision, the court also said that the state had not presented evidence showing it was substantially harmed by giving these children — as distinct from any other children — a free public education. . .

“The toughest question has been obtaining reliable — and I mean reliable for peer-reviewed research purposes — censuses of the number of illegal alien students enrolled in school districts,” he said. “That information could be compared with other sorts of performance or resource allocation issues.”

The Alabama law directs schools to ascertain the immigration status of incoming students, through a birth certificate, other official documents or an affidavit by the child’s parents (the law also directs schools to determine the immigration status of an enrolling child’s parents, but gave no mechanism by which to do so).

That information is then passed on to the State Board of Education not only to prepare an annual report with the data but also to “contract with reputable scholars and research institutions” to determine the costs, fiscal and otherwise, of educating illegal immigrants.

Because no one is actually barred from attending school and the data is not passed on to law enforcement, the provision passes constitutional muster, Mr. Hethmon said.

But it also potentially enables a fresh challenge to Plyler v. Doe, and the idea that schools are obligated to provide a free education to illegal immigrants.

So it is not really just about statistics and when AG Luther Strange argued before a federal court that: “No child will be denied an education based on unlawful status,” he should have added “not yet.

In a year of massive budget cuts and lay-offs, how do you fund a new service to handle the data entry and processing for a “right to work” list  for the 76,803 businesses in Alabama which employ 25 employees or less?

You don’t.

Just six weeks before an implementation deadline, the Alabama Department of Homeland Security is still looking for a way to fund an E-Verify database mandated in the state’s immigration law.

Director Spencer Collier said the department, which has a budget of just under $400,000, will have to go to the General Fund to pay for the program that could potentially cover nearly 77,000 businesses in the state — 91 percent of all of Alabama’s firms. . . .

Rebekah Mason, a spokeswoman for Bentley’s office, said funding was being discussed in preparation for the FY 2013 budget, to be considered by the Legislature next spring. The administration is considering a supplemental appropriation from the General Fund to pay to implement the system.

This E-verify program again is the “cornerstone of the entire legislation” known as HB56. To avoid complaints from small businesses across the state, the ALGOP legislature added this “free” service. As previously discussed here:

Instead of directly enrolling in E-verify, these businesses will provide the information to Homeland Security. Accordingly, instead of doing public safety, the Alabama Department of Homeland Defense will become a HR department and enroll the 80,000 firms, or 91 percent of all Alaba­ma businesses, potentially in the federal E-verify program for them.

In a day that we are closing courts for lack of funding and eliminating other essential services, the Republican Legislature just created a taxpayer-funded,  incredibly time-consuming service. Initially, the “service” will actually enroll the 80,000 business into the federal E-verify system which means collecting and accurately entering the following for each and every company:

  • the I-9 information for every employee of the company,
  • the company name,
  • the physical address of the company,
  • the company mailing address,
  • the  employer identification number (also called a federal tax ID number),
  • the total number of employees for all of your company’s hiring sites that will participate in E-Verify,
  • the first three digits of your company’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code,
  • the number of hiring sites that will participate in E-Verify,
  • whether the company is a federal contractor and whether you are enrolling your company because it has a covered federal contract with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause requiring use of E-Verify M-776 Supplemental-2,
  • and contact information for the company’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) signatory (name, phone number, fax number (optional) and e-mail address),

Needless to say, that will take a many man-hours and will require dozens of employees. However, there is more. If any of the information listed above changes after the company is enrolled in E-Verify, the business must notify “the service” and the “the service” is responsible for managing and updating the account in E-Verify. So, every time one of these 80,000 employers hires someone new after enrollment, the “service” will have three days to properly update the federal E-verify account.

What is Director Colliers prayer: please don’t use this free service:

Businesses will also be encouraged to enroll directly in E-Verify, Collier said, which he said might save the firms and the department time.”We are actually a middle step,” Collier said.

I hate to belabor the point that “HB56 is a Jobs Killer” but the empirical evidence continues to mount. A new study now follows, and further corroborates, much of the other research and economic opinion, such as:

The researchers of this new study performed a comparative analysis of the economic impact of municipal level restrictive vs. non-restrictive ordinances.

This analysis is based on data from 53 cities that enacted immigrant related ordinances between January 2006 and December 2008. The study used a consistent, reliable source for gathering and measuring local economic data as it relates to job creation and business growth. Additional sources of data for measuring economic impact—namely city revenue and new home permits, among others— were considered, but data were not readily available across all communities. Of the cities analyzed, 13 are classified as non-restrictive sanctuary cities that passed official ordinances preventing local police and city employees from inquiring about the immigration status of local residents, unless required to do so under state or federal laws or court decisions. Restrictive ordinances, enforced by 40 cities included in this report, varied in scope and significance, and not all targeted undocumented immigrants specifically. While some cities enacted more punitive policies, others pursued less comprehensive strategies, such as the adoption of English-only ordinances, which promote English as the only official language.

This study only confirms, once again, that immigrants do not take native jobs but rather expand the economic pie and actually create jobs.

An average city with a restrictive ordinance has 0.18 times fewer expected number of employees than its non-restrictive counterpart. This effect, even if it is not significant at a 95 percent confidence interval, is significant at 90 percent confidence. This means that a 10 percent probability exists that the results seen are due to chance rather than the statistical modeling. For example, if the expected number of workers in an average city that enacted a non-restrictive ordinance is 100, the model and data predict that the number of employees would be 0.18 times lower (82 employees total) in a city with a restrictive immigrant-related ordinance.

The economic reality is that HB56 is a “jobs and economic-growth killer” and “wasn’t based on real economic theories and research.

Discussing the pro-immigrant policies of Dayton, Ohio, Matt Yglesis puts it in simple terms:

Several points to make about this. One is that some immigrants have high levels of skills. Hence the reference to “Indian doctors in hospitals.” But another is that skills are to some extent a relative concept. “Can make some pretty tasty tacos” does not count as a specialized labor market skill in Mexico, where tasty tacos are amazingly widespread and shockingly cheap. But large swathes of the United States are undersupplied with delicious tacos. Bringing people with new skills into your town creates employment opportunities for people with complementary skills. A new taqueria not only offers local consumers a place to eat, but it’s also going to need an accountant to do its taxes. It’s going to need kitchen equipment and sign installation. But for all that to get off the ground, you need the people who make the tacos.

Last but by no means least, increasing population as such can help boost a local economy. The “Texas jobs miracle” is overwhelmingly a population migration phenomenon, with the migration coming in about equal parts from Mexico and the non-Texas portions of the United States. If a lot of people move to Dayton, that means investment in renewing Dayton’s housing stock. It means more customers for Dayton’s supermarkets and convenience stores. It means a broader tax base to support cops and teachers. It means hospitals that are looking to expand, rather than shrink. It just means more of everything. People spend the majority of the money they earn, so any additional income that people earn by moving to your city also increases the total volume of spending in the city creating new income-earning opportunities for other people.

In defending Alabama’s Anti-Immigration law, ALGOP Speaker of the House Make Hubbard said:

It’s about illegal immigrants, and I have said in the media what part of the word ‘illegal’ do people not understand?” he said. “That’s what it is about. . .

But have we, as a country, deprived immigrants the justice due them by the process for “legally” coming here. As previously discussed here:

“It’s not that they are not willing to wait a year or two,” says David Shirk, an expert at the Transborder Institute in San Diego. “It’s that it would be 10, 20 years before they could come across the border, and that’s not realistic in terms of their need to eat. The lack of visa availability, especially with visas for low-skilled workers in the U.S. economy, creates an insurmountable obstacle to legal entry.”

The Montgomery Advertiser details the hard road for immigrants desiring to come to the US legally.  There are two ways to come: either a family-based visa or employment-based visa.

Take a man from the Philip­pines who would like to join a brother in the United States who is a U.S. citizen. If he has no advanced degrees or special skills, the man could have his brother file a petition for an F4 visa, capped at 65,000 a year. The family will have to wait for a number to be assigned to the case before the visa application can be processed. That wait is currently 23 years. According to the month­ly Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. State Department, F4 visa applications filed in the Philippines before Aug. 22, 1988, are now being processed. If the family is from Mexico, the wait time is currently 15 years; wait times in China and India are now at 11 years.

But it is even worse if you desire to come permanently for mere employment:

“You can wait six years, 15 years or 20 years to come on a family visa,” said Tamar Jaco­by, president of Immigration­Works USA, a coalition of pro-immigration business groups. “For a young, able-bodied man to look for work, he’d apply when he’s 18, and come when he’s 40.”

And, if the processing time is not prohibitive, then maybe the cost is:

Cost is also a factor. The ap­plication fee for employment visas is $720, which is more than the average monthly in­comes of many professions in Mexico, and legal fees can push that cost even higher.

The situation is just as bad if you are an undocumented child that has been raised in the US:

That also applies to those brought to the country as children. Foreign-born kids and teenagers with unauthorized status are not considered to be unlawfully present until they turn 18. After their 18th birthdays, problems can develop.

“What they would do is go back to their home country when they turn 18, and then go back through process, which could take 20 years,” Love said.

Such delays cannot be considered just or due process. We get upset when we are told our cable guy will arrive between 8 and 12. Imagine being told that you had to wait 23 years before you get a number in order to remove your family from drug-cartel danger or just pursue the American dream.  Would you wait?

In Arizona, Newt provides a surprise  stance on immigration:

My stand is that we should have absolute control over the border,” Gingrich said. “We should have English as the official language of government.”

Although unlike many of his Republican counterparts, Gingrich has a positive plan for citizens here illegally. He wants to modernize the deportation laws

“[Illegal immigrants] should pay a penalty, but they should then get a Red Card which would not put them on the road for citizenship, but it would bring them in from illegality,” he said. “It would make them part of the community, and their children and grandchildren could aspire to become American citizens.”

If Newt continues his comeback within the Republican Party primary, he will have to walk this one back.

Herman Cain’s incredible muddle on Piers Morgan about abortion is really bad news for Mitt Romney because it will only renew discussion and highlight Mitt Romney’s post-2002 flip-flop on abortion. In this 2002 debate, he delivers an unabashed, and thought-out, pro-choice position.



UPDATE
: This clip also includes a debate in between Romney and Ted Kennedy wherein Romney delivers another defense of his pro-choice positions.

Interesting side note is the Mormon Church’s official position on abortion:

Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

Chris Matthews has been on a tear about the Perry campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Bill Bennett called it religious bigotry.

I agree that Romney’s Mormonism should not be a disqualifying factor formally or practically. After all, even Martin Luther expressed that “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.” However, I think Chris Matthews proves too much and too far.

Abraham Kuyper wrote in 1879:

. . . every developed and maturing people ought to have its politics derived from its firm principles which do not float in the air as so many abstractions but which have deep roots in the soil of national life. Our thinking mind, after all, is not some kind of hutch with drawers and cubbyholes in which we have a separate compartment for politics and another for social affairs and a third for spiritual questions. Everything in our minds is interconnected, and our deepest life-principle is nothing but the root from which the fullness of our thoughts shoot up, to spread themselves over the many areas of life. Your political ideas are connected with your social insights; your social insights with your thoughts on marriage and family; those thoughts with your views about the church; your views about the church with your spiritual convictions; and your spiritual convictions with the relation of your heart to God.

This is why the modern presidential “debates” are not very helpful. Rarely do we delve into a candidate’s core principles and presuppositions;  we are content with conclusory sound-bites.  Perry disclosed many of his basic principles in Fed Up; knowledge of those presuppositions powerfully overwhelmed his campaign’s talking-points.

Richard Weaver wrote Ideas have Consequences in 1948. Certainly, religious ideas have consequences as much as philosophical ones.  Also, Thomas Kuhn proved that presuppositions matter even at the scientific research table; the color of one’s world-view “goggles” affects what the scientist observes.  How much more do a politician’s world-view “goggles” matter for development of public policy?

Theology matters no matter how much Chris Matthews wants to hold his nose. Take the popular support for US foreign policy relating to Israel. As shown from an older article of the Baptist Standard entitled “Evangelical Theology drives American support for Isreal,” theology has consequences:

“No one in the U.S. outdoes fundamentalists in their support of Israel, not even American Jews,” said Tim Weber, a Christian historian and dean at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Illinois. “Since Menachem Begin, all Israeli leaders have seen American fundamentalists as important shapers of American foreign policy toward Israel. What many people do not understand is that most fundamentalists support Israel because they believe it will play a key role in events leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”

While this theological view of the end-times–known as premillennial dispensationalism–is not the majority view among Christians worldwide or even nationwide, it strongly shapes Americans’ views of Israel, Weber said. “The influence of such ideas extends way beyond the tight community that nurtures and studies them. The dispensationalist scenario is imbedded in the fundamentalist subculture, has much greater influence in the more expansive world of American evangelicalism and even reaches into the larger secular population. These ideas matter, and not just for those who believe and understand them.”

For a quite express example see this, read this article entitled “Why stand with Isreal Today?” by Pastor Jack Hayford. I am not making an opinion on the policy, only showing that theology matters and has public consequences.

Romney’s Mormonism may or may not be a source of his basic presuppositions; I don’t know, but we need to explore all the soil, his deepest life-principles, from which his thinking grows. And this is true of each and every candidate.

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