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Immigration Reform and Obama's Foreign Policy [IS]

February 3, 2013

— How my own family history explains my belief in immigration reform
— Why I’m not a big fan of Chuck Hagel or the “realpolitik” school of foreign policy
— A brief comment on guns: if you’re crazy and delusional enough to think that the United States is actually at war with you personally, I think you’re too crazy and delusional to own a military-style weapon.
— AND a very brief comment on the Super Bowl

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  • Alfredo Martin Bravo de Rueda Espejo February 4, 2013 6:09 pm

    Sorry for the grammatical mistakes dear Marx. I’m writing as fast as I can and I don’t have time to edit. You’re giving another example of what I’ve been saying. Insurgencies are nothing new and they rarely (for instance, the Malayan Emergency) are defeated by regular armies. When they lack popular support, Special Forces and intelligence could be enough to defeat them (for instant, the Baader Meinhof and the Shining Path) but when they have popular support (for instance, Indochina and Algeria) temporary military victories are soon followed by the triumph of the insurgents. The reduction to this debate to slogans has sadly reduced it to ‘sending the troops’ and what’s the right ‘number of troops.’ It was amazing to hear years ago in CNN how, uncontested by the so-called journalists, the Press Secretary saying that Bush was reading a book about the Algerian Insurgency while repeating in Iraq the same mistakes made by the French and Obama…
    This reductionism and rationalization let people believe whatever makes them feel good. Thus Romney said that we don’t intervene in countries, that we liberate countries, what should’ve been sound odd to the Iranians, for whom Mossadegh is a relatively fresh memory. Two weeks before his fall, Hillary Clinton said that Murabarak was not a dictator. These are just examples of misconceived interventions that have capitalized by organizations like Al Qaeda. The intervention in Libya was for that very reason important because it let the United States for the first time to side with the people instead of the strong men. Nevertheless, that was precisely an intervention Republicans opposed.
    Only in an environment in which the political debate is reduced to 140-character Tweeter phrases and slogans Republicans can get away with that.
    Are Libya, Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt a mess; is it surprising that in Iraq the Sunni Vice President is in hiding; is it surprising that Pakistan’s intelligence has been pocketing American military assistance for a hypothetical war with India? Unfortunately in the short term the main variables are fixes and it will take a long time before we can wash our image before the Muslim countries. That could’ve been counting from the moment the Obama’s Cairo speech turned into police, what we know didn’t happen. We haven’t learned anything from the Kosovo experience, where our intervention pushed away any attempt by Al Qaeda of being the protagonist.
    Just see how the Afghan-Pakistani front was militarized after even a hawk like Richard Halbrooke was marginalized. Just see how the United States has embarrassed itself going after Joseph Koni in Uganda under the pretext of his numerous crimes, which are the same crimes committed by Museveni, and still it can’t find him after all these months. Consider the way we looked to the other way when the Saudis intervened in Bahrain.
    We’re in a trap of Republican smoke mirrors. Need more evidence?

  • Alfredo Martin Bravo de Rueda Espejo February 4, 2013 5:23 pm

    Congratulations dear Marx for bringing the issue of the ‘line.’ One correction though. More than 90% of the resident visas depend on you having been born in the right family (by birth or by marriage) and/or the right country. Nevertheless, despite your good character, if you don’t belong to the right caste (or ‘accident of birth,’ as JFK called them), there’s no line for you, not even a 40-year line. If you are German, you are first whenever you come. If you are Mexican of Filipino, you’ve already given the answer. Nevertheless even Obama talks about sending them to the ‘back of the line,’ which would result in a lengthy limbo for those not born in the right caste, and some conservatives want to send them to the back of their line, which for many of them simply does not exist. That’s why they’re illegal. That would turn ‘immigration reform’ in a cruel joke. Thus, the current immigration system is a system of castes for brown people. Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father, born in the Caribbean poor and without connections in America, would’ve been an illegal immigrant as a student who would’ve violated the ‘double intention’ clause (and would’ve had to adjust status via marriage later). Curiously one of the reasons in the Declaration of Independence was the anti-immigration policies of King George.
    I am afraid we’re going to lose this chance to discuss immigration reform because the debate has been polluted by so many lies. Most Americans have taken their believes on immigration from episodes of The Simpson or Family Guy, where illegal immigrants are so because they have not passed the ‘INS exam’ (which is actually the citizenship exam you can take only if you’re a legal resident first). There is serious research by Cato about the ineffectiveness of the enforcement-only approach; by Otaviano and Peri about the effects of immigration on wages and employment, etc, etc. Nevertheless on these issues, as well as the effects of immigration on crime and tax revenues, have been grossly misrepresented by pseudo-think tanks like the Center for Immigration Studies and Heritage whose real role is to make nativists and racists feel good with their positions and masquerade them as patriotism, defense of the rule of law and even defense of the poor and the environment (NumbersUSA).
    Obviously, the conditions for most brown immigrants are not those of Ellis Island and even though Italians, Irish and Poles had better luck than Chinese, Japanese or Mexicans (whose restrictions in the 50s came not through the law as much as through administrative directives after the Bracero Program). I am against preferences by country of origin as well as by family of origin. You can get honest family reunification with no-working visas (like the spouses of H1B’s visas to discourage the market of sham marriages grown at the shade of the current system) and let the rest compete for a place in a ranking that would determine you position in a line according to the needs of the labor market so determine by the Department of Labor. The standard would depend on whether you apply as skilled or unskilled labor and whether you apply as an immigrant or as a guest worker.
    In short, get the right standard, let illegal immigrants a chance to prove their character against that standard and then enforce the law. The current system is immoral, as based in criteria of caste where your character is irrelevant, and inefficient, as the 11 million illegal immigrants are the result of the gross way the current system has lost pace with the needs of the labor market.
    Happy to discuss this issue with you if you want.