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December 13, 2006

Legal immigrants kidnapped by DHS, union fights back

Whoa...

The Department of Homeland Security appears to have kidnapped a bunch of people this week. Yesterday, over 1000 agents, some clad in riot gear and toting machine guns, raided meatpacking plants in six states. Justin Rood of TPM Muckraker spoke to a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that represents many of the abducted workers:

"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

Recently unsealed court documents show that DHS had identified 170 identity-fraud suspects it wished to apprehend, but that the agency wanted to round up as many as 5,000 other workers because it "further expect[ed] to apprehend persons who are engaged in large-scale identity theft[.]" Union officials say the total number of detained workers may be higher than 5,000. (Update: We've uploaded those court documents to our document collection here.) [TPM Muckraker]

The DHS says it made 1,282 arrests in yesterday's raid on Swift & Co. meatpacking plants--1,217 on immigration charges and 65 on criminal charges including identity theft. No charges were filed against Swift.

The UFCW issued a press release on the raids today, the union is seeking a federal injunction on behalf of Swift & Co. workers in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

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Comments

aeroman

Better men than Alon have lost arguments to the Phantom! Please don't get him to change his position. I think it's amusing!

Now for a real diversion, I am off later today to sign the steel that will be used on the Freedom Tower. All locals of whatever political persuasion welcome to join me there. Will write about it later.

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/am-wtc121606,0,247133.story?coll=ny-nycnews-headlines


typo on embarrassing, probably others...

I'd also love to hear your argument that it's against the interest of New Yorkers for people from Alabama to move there. Are you under the impression that Alabamans are poor, huddled refugees, coming to day-labor in New York's black-hair-dye-and-New-Order-t-shirt sweatshops? Unless you have any sort of information supporting the idea that people from Alabama to New York aren't significant economic contributors across the wage spectrum, you should probably take that point back.

"This sovereignty argument is just silly. Of course the U.S. government has the power to regulate immigration. "

The argument over how that sovereign power is justified may seem overly theoretical, but it does have some real world consequences. Generally, a fundamental right is not lightly given up, whereas a policy that's adopted because it seems useful can be dispensed with as soon as it no longer seems useful. For instance, you have a fundamental right to free speech, which means that society can not casually deprive you of your freedom of speech, even if society should think it useful to do so. Society also thinks its useful that most citizens should be free to drive cars, but this is not a fundamental right, and so your priviledge to drive a car is easily suspended whenever society deems it useful to do so. So, how the power to regulate immigration is justified will probably have some influence on questions such as what punishments breaking those laws deserve.

I'd also love to hear your argument that it's against the interest of New Yorkers for people from Alabama to move there.

I’ve seen adverts for roommates with the phrase “no New York accents” (meaning really anything from Boston to Baltimore), so it goes both ways. I live in rural North Western U.S. where people perceived as urban are loathed even more than Latino immigrants, and of course it can’t get more urban than NY, NY.

Latinos weren’t here in any significant numbers until the seventies, and now if you go to parts of Eastern Washington or N. E. Oregon, and S.W Idaho, you get your pick of Spanish language radio stations and the supermarkets sell tortillas 200 to the bag. Before that, rural migrant labor was still poor native-born U.S. citizens, in large part from the South: Okies, Arkies. (The other radio stations lean heavily towards country-western.) The Latino immigrants have been here long enough now that they are starting to buy the orchards and farms from owners descended from the earlier waves of labor.

My great grandparents had a homestead on land newly taken from the Colville Indian tribes in N.E. WA. They were the descendants of people that had come west around the civil war era. One of my grandmother’s earliest memories was of a tense standoff between her parents and some Indians who presumably didn’t care for the new immigrants. She, in turn, didn’t like the Scandinavian immigrants that came to the area just before the turn of the century. Swedes, she told me one day, are “big, blond, and stupid”.

In the center of this area is Kennewick; a piece of the “Tri-Cities” whelped by the Manhattan Project on empty sagebrush grazing land in WW II. If the name rings a bell, it’s where the 9000 year old skull of “Kennewick Man” was washed out along the banks of the Columbia River around ten years ago. Google “Kennewick Man” to get the long, sorry story, but it has to do with who is an immigrant and who is not, going back for the last ten millennia. Briefly, Native Americans claim the skeleton as their own, while anthropologists argue that after 9000 years any local Native Americans today are just as likely to be “immigrants” to the area as they are to be direct descendants. A few details of the skull characterize it as “Caucasoid” which technically doesn’t mean what it sounds like, but is enough for some white people to claim that the bones definitely doesn’t belong to contemporary Indians and furthermore has led some to claim that Caucasians were here first. The U.S. Government in the form of the Army Corps of Engineers, whose land the skeleton was found on, has sided with the Native Americans as they have to work with them on salmon passage issues on Corps dams and don’t need yet another headache. (The Corps dumped a bunch of fill on the place where the skeleton was found and pushed it around with bulldozers, effectively destroying the site for any further anthropological digging.) So far I haven’t heard anyone asking the latest immigrants, the mostly mestizo Latinos who now tend the orchards along the river and who are just as likely to be Kennewick Man’s descendants as anyone else, what they think.

Cfrost, I really don't see how that establishes that it's bad for New Yorkers when Alabamans move there, or bad for westerners when New Yorkers move there. As long as the new residents earn wages that are distributed in a roughly similar fashion as the wages of the preexisting population, that immigration should be a more or less unqualified good for the existing residents. There'll be no change in relative wages AND the local economy will grow. Plus, the growing pains will be concentrated heavily on the new residents as they search for employment.

"As long as the new residents earn wages that are distributed in a roughly similar fashion as the wages of the preexisting population,"

That requires the immigrants to be as productive as the existing population, which means (I think) that the average education level of the immigrants needs to match the average of the existing population. For that reason, our immigration policy should probably favor the most skilled. As Lindsay said above "I'm for immediate access for the most attractive new prospects (scientists, engineers, skilled tradespeople, etc.)".

In general, I don't think New Yorkers are hostile to Alabamans moving to their city. You'll get a certain amount of xenophobia and parochialism in any human community. But I don't hear a lot of grumbling about Americans coming in from out of state, per se. It's not like in Maine or New Hampshire.

In fact, it's part of the mystique of New York that people from other parts of the country and other parts of the world come to NYC to make their mark in the world. ("If I can make there, I can make it anywhere!")

Lawrence - that's right, and it makes sense. It's a cardinal feature of Canada's immigration policy, if I'm correct. Lindsay's trying to Canadianize us again!

That's not to say that the increase in income inequality that you might end up seeing from an influx of low-wage-loaded populations should preclude us from allowing those individuals to immigrate. It makes basic moral/humanitarian sense to let them do so, and it may genuinely offset outsourcing and unequal trade as Lindsay suggests (though I count myself as among the people who suspect that the comparative inefficiencies of woker relocation versus capital relocation render this offsetting pretty minor).

And Lindsay, your observations synch up pretty well with mine. No city that embraced Truman Capote - who spent ages 4 to 11 in Monroeville, if I'm correct - could really be too hostile to Alabamans moving in. Now, if more New Yorkers are hostile to Alabamans staying in Alabama - that's a different story...

Aeroman, from further upthread:

I'm a proponent of more or less open borders. Free trade in free agents, if you will. If money can move across borders freely in the new global economy, it's only fair that people should have the same freedom.

Also, I don't have any argument that it's against New Yorkers' interest for people from Alabama to be able to freely move to the city. But then again I haven't seen any serious argument that it's against Americans' interest for Mexicans to be able to move freely to the country; "Mexico is poorer than the US" can easily be analogized to "Alabama is poorer than New York."

Canada has a smaller population. is much less corrupt than Mexico, and is a country that actually does try to provide a decent life for its people.

I should point out that the same political party that supports building the wall is also the one that tries to move the USA in Mexico's direction in terms of not trying to provide a decent life for the people.

Alon, that's a recommendation of policy, and it assumes that the US does, in fact, have the power to regulate immigration. I think the US should not have a legal prohibition on possession or sale of marijuana. I still acknowledge that it has the power to pass laws to that effect.

I don't know why this extremely simple distinction continues to elude you, unless you're intentionally missing it. What I said that no one disputes is that the U.S. has the power to regulate, not the appropriate content of the regulation. I have absolutely no idea how to make this clearer or more basic. Squashed Lemon could get this fucking concept.

Alon, that's a recommendation of policy, and it assumes that the US does, in fact, have the power to regulate immigration.

There's a big difference between power and right. The US has the power to round up all opponents of the regime and shoot them on the streets, too. In that context, your "nobody denies" argument is entirely trivial.

Actually, no, there's no meaningful difference between a legal power and a legal right. And the U.S. doesn't have a legal power or right to round up and kill anyone in the United States, because that would be a deprivation of life without due process.

You realize that there's a difference between just a right and an inalienable right or an absolute right, correct? I have a right to dispose of my property as I wish and a right to exclude people from reporoduction of my intellectual property for non-fair-use purposes. I have a right to claim deductions for charitable giving if I choose not to take the standardized deduction on my tax return. These are all matters of legal right. These rights are alienable both by my action or state action. They're still rights. A right is simply a legal privilege that can only be terminated according to certain protocols. You're just using the term incorrectly.

But feel free to keep digging yourself deeper on this. Maybe you'll strike a vein of knowing-when-something-isn't-your-area-of-expertise.

And the U.S. doesn't have a legal power or right to round up and kill anyone in the United States, because that would be a deprivation of life without due process.

Strictly speaking, holding people in custody without charge is a violation of due process, which hasn't prevented Bush from saying that he has the right to ignore the law at will.

You realize that there's a difference between just a right and an inalienable right or an absolute right, correct?

I really don't. There is too much in the writings of natural-right liberals to be skeptical of, starting from how the USA's Founders had no trouble denying these inalienable rights to people of the wrong skin color.

Cfrost, I really don't see how that establishes that it's bad for New Yorkers when Alabamans move there

It doesn't. Wasn't intended to. Just saying that xenophobia is nearly universal, Always has been, and now that the world has basically run out of room, it will just get uglier.

Today's Guardian’s got an editorial on the subject of illegal aliens, deportation etc. Note that the immigrant discussed is from Iraq.

What an epic arc your argument has taken, Alon! From "I'm right and Lindsay says so!" to "Your point establishing that I was wrong is trivial!" to "THOMAS JEFFERSON OWNED SLAVES SO SHUT UP!"

I wasn't actually speaking in natural right terms, but whatever. I'm satisfied that you finally admitted that you had no idea what you were talking about, even if you had to find some flimsy excuse to characterize your ignorance as righteous.

"Just saying that xenophobia is nearly universal, Always has been, and now that the world has basically run out of room, it will just get uglier."

It seems to me that there are probably many metrics that could be used to determine whether "the world has basically run out of room". We could probably agree that in the past the human race has been through many cycles of "running out of room" and then discovering some new way of living which allowed greater population density. I imagine primitive hunter-gatherer societies in Egypt, circa 10,000 BC, probably felt they'd run out of room. But then agriculture was invented and a much greater population density became possible. Likewise the Pope in 1096, when calling out the First Crusade, said Europe's cities were over-crowded with people. But after that Europeans found new ways of living, and found a way to move out into what had previously been wastelands, and the population of Europe increased dramatically over the next 2 centuries. Likewise, in our time, surely we might again find new ways of living that will allow for greater density than what we currently have?

Besides, assuming you mean "over-poulated" when you say "out of room", what evidence exists that the world is now over-populated? Is the percent of people living near starvation greater now than 100 years ago, or 500 years ago? And how much of today's starvation can be ascribed to war or genocide? How much poverty today can be ascribed to corruption, or to powerful elites putting their own desires ahead of the needs of the society in which they live? Do Mexicans migrate to America because Mexico has run out of room, or because Mexico is run soley for the benefit of its wealthy elite, and for foreign multinationals? Do Chileans migrate to America because Chile is out of room, or because Pinochet instituted brutally neo-liberal policies, which have left a painful and lasting legacy?

America receives large number of immigrants from South America and from Africa, two contients with population densities lower than America. If the Earth is out of room, why do people flee from unpopulated areas and move toward densely populated areas?

"I'm right and Lindsay says so!"

You said nobody argued for open borders, and then weaseled out of it by making a spurious distinction between rights and inalienable rights and equating an entirely trivial point about power with an entirely non-trivial one about desirability.

You said nobody argued for open borders

I said absolutely nothing of the sort. So, I guess, the final point on the arc is lying. What I said was this: Of course the U.S. government has the power to regulate immigration. No one disputes that. I was pointing out that Phantom was using a trivial premise that didn't support his conclusion. You completely failed to understand, and instead of moving on like an adult, you'd rather try to save face by lying and hoping no one will scroll up.

Congratulations, liar. I had wondered about your ethics as a writer before, but I'm glad I can stop wondering.

Being a panicky fraud at such a young age - so pathetic.

Being a panicky fraud at such a young age - so pathetic.

Being a panicky ageist flamer - so moronic.

Nice to know you don't dispute that you lied.

I certainly don't mean to imply that there's anything about being young that makes you unworthy of respect. It's just sad that you have so many more years of being a fraud to look forward to than, say, Lee Siegel. Ben Domenech, though, can probably relate.

after that Europeans found new ways of living, and found a way to move out into what had previously been wastelands, and the population of Europe increased dramatically over the next 2 centuries. Likewise, in our time, surely we might again find new ways of living that will allow for greater density than what we currently have?

We’ll find new ways of living all right. We can certainly find a way to accommodate twice today’s population of six billion and perhaps three or four times that. The question is can we sustain that level of population over biologically significant periods of time, that is, over millennia? In the half billion odd years of multicellular life on earth there has never been a creature weighing over a hundred pounds that occupies all continents, larger islands, and most major habitats. Until now no animal has had anything like internal combustion engines, the ability to dam large rivers, level forests, plow prairies, drag ocean bottoms, dry up inland seas (Aral, Lake Chad), etc.

We can and will find ways to wring more food from ever more marginal habitats. We’ll keep economic growth growing for quite a while. China is probably a good model of what the world will look like in the not too distant future if things go relatively well. Their economy is off like a rabbit and they can, at least for now, feed themselves and provide most raw materials autochthonously. Life is getting dramatically better for hundreds of millions of Chinese and will probably continue to do so for several decades to come. It comes at a cost however, Beijing is now regularly beset with dust storms, industrial pollution is increasing attendant with the economy, and vast areas of Eastern China has had landscape changes so radical over the last few centuries that it is difficult to determine just what the original Chinese natural habitats looked like. Centuries ago tigers, pandas and Père David’s deer were once common in areas where now barely a square yard is not tilled or paved. Just this last week it was announced that the baiji, the Yangtze River dolphin is now almost certainly extinct. No one eats tigers, pandas, Père David’s deer, baiji and a host of other plants and animals extinct or soon to be so. Poultry, pork and rice are much more efficient and reliable foods than whatever people ate millennia ago in China, so hardly anyone will miss the dozens of plants and animals that are gone or going in China. Deforestation, erosion, and pollution however are becoming genuinely intractable problems that will affect economic growth and the actual lives of real people, and soon. The Three Gorges Dam is probably unarguably necessary, but the fisheries in the Yangtze River are dying and will be completely gone in a few years. Can a growing Chinese economy be sustained for centuries or millennia?

Is the percent of people living near starvation greater now than 100 years ago, or 500 years ago? And how much of today's starvation can be ascribed to war or genocide? How much poverty today can be ascribed to corruption, or to powerful elites putting their own desires ahead of the needs of the society in which they live?

The proportion of hungry people is probably the same or perhaps even less. Absolute numbers increase in proportion to overall population growth however, and we’re talking billions every few decades. Yes, if resources were distributed more equitably, poverty and hunger would be eliminated even if the world population were ten times what it is now. Someday we willed be ruled by wise, prescient, and selfless people, and someday everyone will get a pony.

Do Chileans migrate to America because Chile is out of room, or because Pinochet instituted brutally neo-liberal policies, which have left a painful and lasting legacy?

A Pinochet might well cause a spike in emigration. Pinochet didn’t have much to do with the cutting of the Alerce (Fitzroya), Nothofagus (southern beech), and Araucaria (Araucaria) forests, the extinction of the Chiloe island fox, the introduction of beaver, rabbits and mink to Tierra Del Fuego, overgrazing, overfishing, ground water withdrawals, and all the rest. One has to remember that beaver girdling saplings or feral minks eating penguin’s eggs are our agents even if no one is around. Groundwater pumped from desert aquifers now will never be available again. Chile’s population has been steadily growing since the Spanish arrived and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Chile is not as crowded as Holland, but Chile is slowly growing and consuming its landscape and resources just as inexorably as every other country.

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