NBD – Much Ado About Very Little

I can’t believe the fuss being made about President
Obama’s possible executive action on immigration. It is such a limited action
and really will change very little for undocumented immigrants in American. The
people whose concerns are being addressed are people who have lived in America
for years, have had children in American, children who have attended American
schools, have had jobs in America, but who constantly anticipate (and not in a
good way) being deported. They know that if someone turns them in or finds out
about their undocumented status they could easily be torn from their jobs and
their families. They may have done something “illegal” but they did it years
ago and they have lived productive lives since then, productive lives that
could unravel at any moment (as could any of our lives, although not in this
particular way).
What Obama is able to do through executive action is
so small that it will not even cause a ripple in the surface of American
culture or the American economy. It sounds like he plans to issue temporary
work permits to parents of “dreamer” children so that these parents can
continue to work and support their families while their children get an
education. These workers, who may not have been paying taxes, who may have been
paid “under the table” will now contribute tax money and they can more
confidently seek to climb the employment ladder thus offering more skills to
the American workforce. They are not taking American jobs away from citizens
because they are already working.
The real issue here is not immigration. Republicans
are determined to turn the Obama presidency into eight empty years in American
history. It is their intention to stop anything that might give President Obama
a legacy. They are not too keen on any Democratic policies and they are still
just stalling until the next election. They are aware that Presidents have used
executive actions in the past. Executive actions are not even the real issue.
The real issues is to prevent America from moving too far to the left so that
when they get a Republican President elected they will not have to move so far
to swing right.
They have a back-up plan in case they don’t win the
Presidency in 2016 and their back-up plan is to turn as many states red as they
possibly can, a strategy with which they are having a great deal of success. We
have already seen Republican politics in effect in Wisconsin and in Kansas and it
is clear that their policies will not work out for anyone but the very wealthy.
Things are not going well for the middle class in either of those two states.
We need to passionately oppose the GOP because the ways in which they want to
change America are wrong-headed and unacceptable. I know that I haven’t backed
this up with many facts, but read about those two states, read about Wisconsin
and Kansas, and you will see where the policies of the GOP lead.
What the President says he plans to do about
immigration reform is very small and should be “no big deal” except that the
GOP is just so angry whenever Obama tries to accomplish anything and their
threats are so disproportionate to the actions taken by Obama that we know
their threats are political and have nothing to do with the topic of
immigration. I don’t believe Obama should fear impeachment because, one, the
job of being President in these circumstances has been very stressful and our
President has been demeaned, and, two, if the GOP impeaches this President,
history will not be kind to them.

By Nancy Brisson

Psychoanalyzing America

It seems that 9/11 changed America forever. Not really
surprising. I will never forget watching the Today show and watching those
planes and that ash and smoke and the hopelessness of it all; how could people
survive it? Our national mourning was profound and it had anger mixed with it.
We looked for survivors; we looked for remains; we licked our wounds, thanked
our heroes, grieved with the families and friends. No planes flew in the skies.
The silence told us better than anything that America had been brought to a
temporary standstill. We were a nation in deep shock.
When we learned that America had been infiltrated by
foreign haters who probably came here on visas, perhaps pretending they would
attend college here we felt betrayed and thus began our fears and doubts about
strangers. This could be the very place where an idea like the “Red Wedding” in
George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones
comes from. Once you have broken bread with a guest and offered salt they are
supposed to be safe in your household. Once we offered our hospitality in the
form of a visa we felt a sort of bargain had been struck. We expected these
foreign guests to treat America with respect. Instead they acted like the hosts
at the Red Wedding and we, America, lost our innocence forever.
We loved welcoming foreign guests and temporary residents
from other lands. We liked sharing our comfort and our warmth and our
treasures. No more. We have learned suspicion and distrust. We are no longer
the conquering heroes we were or thought we were at the end of World War II. We
have spent some of the currency we earned in that war. There are people who
hate us now and some believe they have valid reasons. I don’t believe hate gets
anyone anything good, but no one is consulting me about this.
So America has learned fear. We refuse to be vulnerable. If
we stay alert and develop the best intelligence system in the world (which we
don’t quite have the hang of yet, apparently) to keep eyes on our enemies at
home and around the world that will be part of our safety strategy. If we guard
every entrance to America, all the planes and buses and planes that will be
part of our safety strategy. If we take the war to the countries where our
enemies live (even if we have to lie to do it), if we are preemptive that will
help keep us safe. If we get a grip on our visa system (which we have not done)
so that we know when someone overstays a visa that might help keep us safe.
Time and tide have seen us relaxing these protections. Time
heals all wounds and the tides are going out, those tides of high threat levels
and our fears are ebbing. In a way these safety precautions sort of turn us into prisoners. But not everyone agrees that we should lower those
threat levels. Now that we know the rules of hospitality no longer apply, some
people support a position which says that it is wrong to relax our safety rules
and take the police locks off the doors. They feel naked without troops on the
ground in those nations full of fanatics who see us as enemies, and whose
religion, like ours, requires conversions. These Americans fear that we will
relax our alertness and then – Armageddon.
These Americans fear those coming over our Southern border,
they say, because they believe our enemies hide among them. Or are they playing
on our fears again as they did to get us in Iraq, in order to get their way on
immigration. We do know that they want to halt all flow across our Southern
borders; build walls high and higher, station more troops until no one without
papers can cross. No one even knows if this is possible. No one even knows if
their fears are real or pretend, but we can see that America has left its
adolescence and no longer feels invincible.
Perhaps these fear-mongers are paranoid; their fears could
be exaggerated or just politically expedient. Perhaps their assessment is
accurate. We are people who put our Japanese neighbors into camps during World
War II because of fear. Did those camps protect us? We will never know. Once
you choose one path you can’t usually go down the other. It didn’t do much for our national pride. Does safety trump pride?
Is this situation with these children telling us that we
have let our fear of being attacked again on our own soil get the better of us,
is this just prudent caution, or is it politics? Can we close the doors to America
and keep everyone out. Will that keep us safe? With two-thirds of the world
trying to find itself can we really lock America up like a stronghold and keep
all the “others” out? Will our own internal problems tear us apart regardless
of what we do about allowing immigrants in? Is this why we have lost our caring
spirit – all this fear and loss of innocence? Is this why we say put them back
on the bus and send them home – because we have lost our nerve? Is it
overpopulation and not wanting America to be overrun by hungry hoards that is
motivating us to harden our hearts?

Has America lost its ability to assimilate immigrants and
turn them into proud Americans? Will we ever set aside the less savory effects
of 9/11 to regain the brash optimism that once defined us? Have we learned to
temper that brashness with a bit of maturity gained through strife and loss?
There are always more questions than answers, but some answers must indeed be selected,
answers we all hope will prove right in the end. If only we had wise people in Washington instead of this Congress we have now.
By Nancy Brisson

We Don’t Want No Immigration

Nothing points out the rifts in the Republican Party
better than the Immigration legislation that Congress is trying to pass.
Republicans said that they would need the Hispanic/Latino vote in order to
elect a GOP President in 2016. They lead us to believe that they wanted to woo
the Hispanic/Latino vote, and yet it seems obvious that Republicans cannot
agree that they want to pass a set of laws that will help them pursue this
course. The bill in the Senate was drafted by a bi-partisan group of eight
people. It does not make it easy for illegal immigrants to become citizens of
the United States. There is a lengthy thirteen year process described in the
bill. The Senate bill also adds border security along our border with Mexico by
adding 700 miles of fencing and something like 20,000 more border guards. The
Republicans in the House say that none of this enough. They want assurances
that the border is impenetrable at least 90% of the time. They really don’t
want to give illegal immigrants any path to citizenship. They say that even a
path that takes thirteen years represents amnesty which they cannot accept.

It is unclear how they think any of their harsh
approach to issues of illegal immigration will win them any votes at all from
people who walked across the border between Mexico and North America, or
arrived here on a visa and stayed although their visa had expired; or any votes
from people who were brought into the country as undocumented workers to work
in the households, gardens, or fields of American bosses, and were never sent
back to their country of origin. It is equally unclear how it will gain them any votes from Hispanic/Latinos who are here legally, but sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants.

 No one (well
almost no one) believes that we can get border security anywhere near the 90 –
100% range. This makes it clear to most Americans that Republicans have no
intention of assisting illegal immigrants in America. They are merely playing
some kind of cruel political game to create the illusion that they might some
day pass laws which take a sensible and realistic view about what will happen
to 11 million illegal immigrants in America, given that they cannot all be sent

What will stop us from having this same problem
again in a decade, they say. However they have no more idea than you or I where
things will stand in a decade. By that time the Mexican economy may be stronger
than the American economy. Mexico has already shown signs of a strengthening
economy. As for people arriving from the Caribbean or Pacific island nations to
work on our farms and for our wealthy families, and in low paying American
jobs; this current bill does nothing to block illegal immigration from these
areas beyond what safeguards are already in place. There was supposed to be
some kind of electronic identification program connected with this issue, but I
have not heard about this system lately. Perhaps it was not challenged by
anyone and is still a part of the bill.

It seems pretty obvious to most of us that the fact
that Republicans insist on almost 100% border security (which everyone else
contends is virtually impossible and which is certainly a very inefficient use
of tax payer monies) and from the fact that they object to even a lengthy
and demanding path to citizenship, that the GOP never had more than a momentary
whim to pass an immigration bill. They have wasted everyone’s time and broken a
lot of hearts over the insincere promises they made about their willingness to
pass such a bill. The House Republicans have once again led Americans down a
scenic garden path that leads nowhere. The House should pass the Senate
Immigration Bill which sounds quite adequate to answer most concerns, and we
should elect Democrats in 2014.