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February 1, 2013 5:38 PM   Subscribe

On January 28th, students and faculty at Haverford College received an email titled "Official Apology to the Undocumented American Community", allegedly written by interim president Joanne Creighton, which promised to "extend the same fair, need-blind admissions consideration to undocumented applicants as is currently granted to documented applicants". The email was a hoax, written by a member of Students for Undocumented Dreams & Decision Equity Now! (aka SUDDEN) to protest the administration's perceived inaction following a student resolution last February which declared "institutional support for undocumented students and applicants." That same month, a fellow SUDDEN member (and a student at Haverford's sister school Bryn Mawr) was arrested for declaring her status as an undocumented American in front of Philadelphia's Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters. The author of the hoax email, himself a Haverford sophomore, defended his actions in an open letter to the community.
posted by Rory Marinich (66 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
(I am in love with the fact that the hoax-ist's website URL is haverford.eu – "Where we take the D [discrimination or documentation, I think] out of Haverford's edu.")
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:43 PM on February 1, 2013


So "Undocumented American" is the new politically correct euphemism? Impressive -- but they're still violating the law.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:53 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


If anyone inside the system wanted to help, they should probably press for deportation of those two girls while the attention is on them.
posted by jacalata at 6:03 PM on February 1, 2013


I would especially like to apologize to one current applicant, Jose (cc’d), who bravely came out as undocumented in a youtube video directed at Haverford,

'Came out'? Seriously?
posted by madajb at 6:05 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very Yes Man. I approve.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:06 PM on February 1, 2013


If this country had a reasonable immigration process that was applied fairly I would be in favor of booting out the illegals, but coming here is beyond onerous.

I know a Scotsman that married a US citizen and he was in this county legally. He decided to try for citizenship. He had to go back to Scotland to get a physical and various medical tests to make sure he was going to be healthy enough and not make anyone in the US sick. He couldn't go to a doctor in the US. The results of the tests weren't going to matter, since he's already been in the US. He had to go to one of the few doctors certified to conduct these physicals and pay through the nose. It took him a full year to get citizenship. The stories he told were baffling. Now imagine if he was from Nigeria or Mexico.

Damn Scots sneaking into the country....
posted by cjorgensen at 6:11 PM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


So "Undocumented American" is the new politically correct euphemism? Impressive -- but they're still violating the law.

It's arguably more accurate, same as how you're not a criminal for parking tickets; you made a civil - not criminal - trangression.
posted by anonymisc at 6:24 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's the "American" part of the euphemism that grates. Yeah, they're undocumented, but they ain't Americans, as that word is usually used.

And you're wrong: illegal immigration is a criminal transgression.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:27 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


'Came out'? Seriously?

In what way is that not an apt choice of words? Homosexuality was illegal and something you had to go to length to keep hidden from people around you.
posted by anonymisc at 6:29 PM on February 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


And you're wrong: illegal immigration is a criminal transgression.

No, I'm correct - lacking legal immigration status is a civil violation. You are thinking of the act of smuggling yourself across the border illegally.
Undocumented kids are the former, but generally not the later.
linky
posted by anonymisc at 6:34 PM on February 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


If this country had a reasonable immigration

Hey, the immigration policy of the United States can certainly be improved in many, many ways but it's not as if we don't already have an extremely liberal policy compared to most places. The USA is not some sort of nativist bastion of anti-immigration.
posted by Justinian at 6:54 PM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I say they should conduct a mock immigration exercise in 9th grade. Once they've been through it and they realize that they'd probably be ineligible for any sort of immigration this handwavey "oh just follow the rules" bullshit might actually stop.

The USA is not some sort of nativist bastion of anti-immigration.

As someone in possession of an actual green card this is a Michael Jackson's nose of a falsification.
posted by Talez at 7:04 PM on February 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Justinian, he said process, not policy. I don't think you disagree.

but they ain't Americans, as that word is usually used.

And now that I think about it... as that word is usually used, they are Americans, with the main exception being when the word is used in context of immigration discussion. Most of the time, the way it is used is not about citizenship.

Americans are unable to distinguish them from Americans (other than by investigating paperwork), they grew up in America, they live in America, they're part of American society, they're American culturally. They're American in every way except a bit of paper and a stamp, and in time, they'll have that too.

The more I think about it, the more that "Undocumented American" seems an equally (if not more) precise and descriptive phrase than "illegal alien". While equally accurate, some people aren't going to like that it's less pejorative, while some people are going to like it more for exactly the same reason.
posted by anonymisc at 7:09 PM on February 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


As someone in possession of an actual green card this is a Michael Jackson's nose of a falsification.

No, it isn't. Have you seen what's involved in becoming a citizen of, say, Japan? Switzerland? New Zealand?
posted by Justinian at 7:22 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Justinian, he said process, not policy. I don't think you disagree.

Well, yeah, dealing with immigration is terrible. So is dealing with the TSA, the people who handle disability claims, the DMV, or any other government or pseudo-governmental agency. That's a problem with our governmental agencies as a whole not really something particular to immigration.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on February 1, 2013


To my mind, "Undocumented Americans" are U.S. citizens who lost their passports.

Are we talking about children born in the United States of undocumented aliens (who would be undocumented Americans) or about children of undocumented aliens who have the citizenship of a country that is not the U.S.?

Cutesy nomenclature for this issue don't make a difficult issue any easier. "Illegal alien" is unambiguous: non-Americans who are in this country without benefit of legal status. Sugarcoating it with euphemisms is like calling burglars "undocumented movers."
posted by the sobsister at 7:25 PM on February 1, 2013


No, it isn't. Have you seen what's involved in becoming a citizen of, say, Japan? Switzerland? New Zealand?

Yup, and it's heads and shoulders better. The same application that takes 24 hours to resolve in one country, takes a year or more in the USA.
The odds that it is resolved with the answer you want might be the same, but you don't have to suffer in limbo, the system does its job instead of screwing you. Or at least does the job noticeably better.

That's a problem with our governmental agencies as a whole not really something particular to immigration.

The thing he was pointing out is that this is not so - there is a problem with US immigration, not immigration as a whole.
posted by anonymisc at 7:30 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing he was pointing out is that this is not so - there is a problem with US immigration, not immigration as a whole.

FTFM. I misread "with our governmental agencies" as "with governmental agencies".
Sorry.
posted by anonymisc at 7:41 PM on February 1, 2013


So "Undocumented American" is the new politically correct euphemism? Impressive -- but they're still violating the law.
You've never gotten a speeding ticket, or parking ticket? If so, do you consider yourself an "illegal driver"? The laws about being in the US are not criminal laws. Normally when people use the word "illegal" in most cases, they mean criminal.
Cutesy nomenclature for this issue don't make a difficult issue any easier. "Illegal alien" is unambiguous: non-Americans who are in this country without benefit of legal status.
Calling someone or something "illegal" associates that thing with crime.

I agree that "Undocumented" is somewhat euphemistic. But using it tends to piss off conservative immigrant haters and why pass up a chance to piss those people off?
posted by delmoi at 7:42 PM on February 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Are we talking about children born in the United States of undocumented aliens (who would be undocumented Americans)

I'm not sure I'm parsing this correctly, but the children of undocumented aliens who are born in the U.S. are not undocumented Americans; they are just Americans.

I wonder if any of the usual suspects who argue that "American" is the proper term for any person citizen'd in the Americas (and that citizens of the USA should be called USians to avoid confusion) will come in to make this point. If "Jose" from the link is Mexican or Salvadoran or from anywhere else in the Americas, then he's an American!
posted by rtha at 7:44 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh my god I never thought I would see the BI CO NEWS as a source on Metafilter, but here we are. I've been misquoted so many times there!

I would just say that this has been a tremendously big issue within the Bi-Co. Both Haverford and Bryn Mawr have strong social justice missions, and both plenaries were presented with resolutions that dealt with the issue, but in different ways. It is my understanding that some international students, for example, were upset with some of the ways the issue played out, and the effects it could have on their own status as legal resident and workers at the colleges. I would be wary of all of the comments from philly.com articles on Jessica's arrest and indeed, many of the articles themselves.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:44 PM on February 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, it isn't. Have you seen what's involved in becoming a citizen of, say, Japan? Switzerland? New Zealand?

Just because it's longer to get citizenship in Switzerland doesn't make it any more difficult to get citizenship once you meet the requirements.

You should actually try getting in through the front door of the United States one of these days. It's incredibly difficult. I ended up getting in through marriage since the labour market channels were absolutely dead in the water during the great recession. It moved up wedding plans by about two years (since we wanted to explore the relationship before being forced to pull the trigger) but shit happens, carpe diem and all that.

The US doesn't want anybody except the best of the best of the best, the richest of the rich of the rich and a small number of engineers "required" by the tech industry. Otherwise it's come over, spend you money, get the hell out and don't you dare think about staying if you like the place.
posted by Talez at 7:48 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, it isn't. Have you seen what's involved in becoming a citizen of, say, Japan? Switzerland? New Zealand?

Those countries park a giant statue in their harbor with:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
written on it?

It's not part of Japan's founding and ongoing narrative that there's a dream you can live if only you make it onto her shores.

I live in Iowa where we need additional population, so perhaps I see things differently, but I would be fine if we weren't such hypocrites about the whole thing. You can't hang out a Welcome mat if you aren't going to answer they door when people knock.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:57 PM on February 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


He had to go to one of the few doctors certified to conduct these physicals and pay through the nose. It took him a full year to get citizenship. The stories he told were baffling. Now imagine if he was from Nigeria or Mexico.
I doubt it would have made much of a difference. Maybe if he was from a middle eastern country, though.
No, it isn't. Have you seen what's involved in becoming a citizen of, say, Japan? Switzerland? New Zealand?
Those countries may have high or impossible standards for new citizens, and if you don't meet the standards you might have problems.

The problem with the US immigration system is that it's just a clusterfuck of bureaucratic incompetence. Someone may meet all the requirements needed to be a US citizen, but the process can still take years and years. Even highly paid engineers have issues with it.

There's kind of a unique disincentive for the government to care, as everyone who is affected by it can't vote, and once they can they never have to worry about it again.

Now it may be that other countries also have huge problems as well, I don't know. Also, in the case of Japan at least the goal is a pretty straightforward desire to keep Japan ethnically homogenous. Opponents of immigration at least try to pretend like they're not just trying to keep Mexicans out of the country because they just don't like Mexicans.
I'm not sure I'm parsing this correctly, but the children of undocumented aliens who are born in the U.S. are not undocumented Americans; they are just Americans.
The problem is children who were brought over the border as children. These are kids who go to American schools with American classmates, speak English as a first (and possibly only) language. I mean, how would you feel if you were targeted for deportation today, after having lived most of your childhood and adult life in the US? Would you want to be sent to Mexico despite not knowing anyone there, not speaking the language and not having any memories of the place?

If you actually seriously believe that undocumented immigrants are "criminals" because they crossed the border illegally, and you think people who came here as children should be deported because of that, then in effect you believe in punishing people for "crimes" they committed as small children. Pretty ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 8:03 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Calling someone or something "illegal" associates that thing with crime.

No, it associates that thing with illegality. If someone is in this country without benefit of legal status, that person is here illegally. Is it a "crime"? That's beside the point and simply muddies the water.
posted by the sobsister at 8:13 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then if you've gotten a ticket for not coming to a full stop at a stop sign, you're also an illegal, since you did something illegal even if not criminal. That's how this works, right.
posted by rtha at 8:16 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


cjorgensen, that poem was put on that statue by the French when they gave it to us.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:24 PM on February 1, 2013


rtha: Yes. And I expect to pay the penalty for doing so.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:25 PM on February 1, 2013


rtha: Yes. And I expect to pay the penalty for doing so.

Have you ever not come to a full stop, and then failed to turn yourself in to the authorities?
posted by anonymisc at 8:27 PM on February 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing that continues to perplex me about this debate is the fact that, for some reason, entering the United States and living here illegally is somehow not considered breaking the law. There's so much verbiage spilled by politicians on the importance of "reuniting families" when those families would never have had to be reunited if one or more of its members hadn't taken off and entered and lived and worked in the United States entirely voluntarily and illegally.

Should children be "punished" by being deported to their home country? Well, should they benefit from the illegal acts of their parents? What about the intending immigrants who, in the case of some countries, have to wait years and years for their eligibility date to become current? How are they not being grossly disadvantaged by the selfish illegal immigrant who decides to jump the queue, come here and gamble on being able to normalize his or her status?

There's an odd and inappropriate romanticization of illegal immigration that ignores the very real costs even to those who play by the rules.
posted by the sobsister at 8:27 PM on February 1, 2013


cjorgensen, that poem was put on that statue by the French when they gave it to us.

That's surprising given the plaque of the sonnet made by an American poet (Emma Lazarus) was added in 1903 while the statue was dedicated in 1886.
posted by Talez at 8:28 PM on February 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know the origins of the poem. Fact is we pretend to embrace the ideas. We don't.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:29 PM on February 1, 2013


The thing that continues to perplex me about this debate is the fact that, for some reason, entering the United States and living here illegally is somehow not considered breaking the law.

One of the elephants in the room that helps makes a little more sense of this is that the USA is currently fairly dependent on having that law be broken. It's a huge mess whichever way you slice it :-(
posted by anonymisc at 8:32 PM on February 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


One of the elephants in the room that helps makes a little more sense of this is that the USA is currently fairly dependent on having that law be broken.

Boy does it ever.
posted by Talez at 8:35 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


rtha: Yes. And I expect to pay the penalty for doing so.

And I expect you to begin referring to every single person who breaks any kind of law as an illegal!
posted by rtha at 9:38 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, it associates that thing with illegality. If someone is in this country without benefit of legal status, that person is here illegally. Is it a "crime"? That's beside the point and simply muddies the water.
No. A person who is speeding is not an "illegal driver", they are just driving illegally. Again, yes I think the mental association people make with crime is reason enough not to use the term "illegal".

But beyond that, the other problem is that calling them "illegal immigrants" or even just "illegal" you're are applying the word illegal as an adjective on the person themselves as if they are somehow illegal, like "illegal drugs" or "illegal firearms". As opposed to people who happen to be violating a non-criminal statute, which people do every time they speed or get a parking ticket or whatever.

And again. Why pass up an opportunity to piss off conservatives/xenophobes? Since calling them "undocumented immigrants" does that so obviously it's the way to go.
The thing that continues to perplex me about this debate is the fact that, for some reason, entering the United States and living here illegally is somehow not considered breaking the law.
Well, the US legislative processes is pretty fucked up. In some cases it can be politically impossible to overturn a law, and at the same time not politically feasible to overturn it. Just look at the Defense of marriage act, for example, which requires the government to discriminate against gay couples. The law hasn't been overturned, but the government is just ignoring it. Technically all medical marijuana dispensaries are against federal law, but the government isn't doing much about it (they are doing some, but not much)

Secondly, again there is a difference between criminal and non-criminal law. The people here without visas are not committing crimes. People break non-criminal laws all the time (speeding, parking tickets, removing tags from mattresses)
Should children be "punished" by being deported to their home country? Well, should they benefit from the illegal acts of their parents?
Sure? There is no neutral choice. Either you punish them or allow them to "benefit". You have to do one or the other. exiling someone from the country they grew up in, where all their friends and family live, and so on is a pretty extreme punishment. Since we don't believe in punishing children for the actions of their parents, we have to let them "benefit"

And seriously, it's fucking insane to say that it's so important to prevent children from "benefiting" from their parents violating minor, non criminal laws that we should exile them from the only country they've ever known. (And It's not like somehow there's "Less America" to go around if we let them stay)

I mean, suppose a couple used a forged check to pay for IVF treatment, they get pregnant and have a kid. Does that mean we should kill the kid to prevent him from "benefiting" from his parents crime? What about if a guy drove over the speed limit to get to his girlfriend's place so they could hook up before he headed out on a trip, and gets her pregnant. Again, to we kill the kid to prevent him or her from "benefiting" from a violation of the law?

That's the basic problem with this argument. People shouldn't be punished for things their parents did. If it's impossible to prevent them from benefiting without punishing them, then it's ok to let them benefit.
There's an odd and inappropriate romanticization of illegal immigration that ignores the very real costs even to those who play by the rules.


No, there is a lack of concern due to the fact that most of the people freaking out about illegal immigration seem to basically just be racist idiots, people like Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, those idiots in Arizona with SB-1070 and some southern states passing harsh immigration laws. If having amnesty will make them feel bad then I'm all for it.

I don't buy the whole legalistic nitpicky "OMG THEY'RE BREAKING THE LAW" stuff. I never hear anyone flip out so much about following the letter of the law in any other contexts, unless it's something else they really care about (like when people complain about warrantless wiretapping in the bush administration, they're upset about the law being broken, but also the wiretapping itself.) .

From a personal perspective, I don't have a problem with undocumented immigrants so why should I be opposed to their being in the country? It doesn't negatively impact me?

Finally, there's just basic human decency. In general, you want to avoid unnecessary cruelty. Exiling someone from a country is cruel, so it should avoided if it isn't absolutely necessary. The only reason to kick these people out, as far as I can tell is that it will make a bunch of xenophobic racists happy. Fuck that.

(There is an economic argument, but that's not particularly relevant since we're talking about people already here. I also happen to think that deporting them would be damaging for the economy. And ultimately, I don't think slight economic effects are enough to justify deporting millions of people anyway. I would be fine paying higher taxes to prevent that from happening.)
posted by delmoi at 10:01 PM on February 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't buy the whole legalistic nitpicky "OMG THEY'RE BREAKING THE LAW" stuff.

Yeah, also that the undocumented people who are aware that they're undocumented (which isn't as high a percentage as you'd think) are basically the most law-abiding demographic in America, because they live in fear of drawing attention.

Natural-born-citizen Americans are a more criminal demographic.
posted by anonymisc at 10:22 PM on February 1, 2013


There's an odd and inappropriate romanticization of illegal immigration that ignores the very real costs even to those who play by the rules.

What you see as romanticization, I see as understanding that illegal immigrants are people too, people who often suffer from grotesque misfortune, and for whom breaking the law was honestly the best choice they had at the time. And their children too are people, completely blameless in their parents' illegal behaviors, completely incapable of going back to a life they theoretically had before they were born.

You can simultaneously understand the rules and their reasonings and support people who broke those rules and still would like opportunities like higher education.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:35 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, also that the undocumented people who are aware that they're undocumented (which isn't as high a percentage as you'd think) are basically the most law-abiding demographic in America, because they live in fear of drawing attention.

Do you have statistics to back that up or is it just something that you think makes sense? To be clear, I don't think crime is a big factor in whether one should be pro or anti immigration. But I don't think we should make stuff up for either side either.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 AM on February 2, 2013


Do you have statistics to back that up or is it just something that you think makes sense?

I've seen stats, but it also makes sense.
A quick google brought up this document. I haven't looked at it very closely, but it seems to offer a bunch of references to studies of the subject, and indicates among other things that native-born Americans are five to eleven times more likely to be convicted of crime and incarcerated than immigrants.
posted by anonymisc at 1:35 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comparing having an illegal immigration status with failing to stop at a sign doesn't make much sense, because one is a momentary act while the other is a continuous status. It is a lot more accurate to compare residing in a country illegally with something like driving without required auto-insurance. So long as a person drives without insurance, that person is an illegal driver. So long as a person is residing in the country illegally, that person is an illegal immigrant.

If laws are meant to benefit the citizens of a country who enact them and anonymisc is right that the current laws reduce crime among immigrant communities, then he or she makes a pretty good point in favor of the status quo. I would have serious doubts about studies that claim to know the number of illegal immigrants though, that's not easy counting.
posted by Winnemac at 2:31 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winnemac, you sound like you're clinging to sophistry rather than thinking these things though:

If laws are meant to benefit the citizens of a country who enact them and anonymisc is right that the current laws reduce crime among immigrant communities, then he or she makes a pretty good point in favor of the status quo.

Serious miscomprehensions here. The current laws do the opposite of make immigrants safer - they increase the victimization and crime perpetrated against immigrants, because what are they going to do about it - go to the police? Undocumented people living in fear of drawing attention are safer to target, and as a result, get targeted by criminals.

This thinking that It's For Their Own Good that people to be kept in an underclass without access to their rights is... I don't even.

Comparing having an illegal immigration status with failing to stop at a sign doesn't make much sense, because one is a momentary act while the other is a continuous status. It is a lot more accurate to compare residing in a country illegally with something like driving without required auto-insurance.

Firstly, you have this backwards. Driving without required auto-insurance is a criminal violation, while lack of status is not criminal, therefore it is a lot less accurate comparison.
Secondly, you don't get points off for completing your violation more quickly than someone else. I don't know where this idea is coming from. A civil violation is a civil violation. Not turning yourself in is not turning yourself in.
Lastly (and least relevant) here in California, driving is a continuous violation. Everyone continually ignores the speed limit, and we do so without regret and without any intention to stop or to mend our ways. And life goes on. ...Use of turn signals is apparently so alien that I have seen multiple drivers try to communicate that they are about to make a turn by pointing and using hand gestures over the steering wheel - those same hands mere inches from the signal lever! ...The rolling stop is literally called the "California stop" elsewhere in the country.
posted by anonymisc at 3:30 AM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seems like Les Misérables will stay relevant forever.
posted by ersatz at 6:27 AM on February 2, 2013


That's surprising given the plaque of the sonnet made by an American poet (Emma Lazarus) was added in 1903 while the statue was dedicated in 1886.

We learn something every day.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:40 AM on February 2, 2013


More people legally immigrate to the US than every other country combined. For every 4 births on US soil, there is 1 new legal immigrant. How cool is that? But don't mention any of this to the HOP or they'll try to change it.
posted by miyabo at 8:50 AM on February 2, 2013


I live in Iowa where we need additional population, so perhaps I see things differently, but I would be fine if we weren't such hypocrites about the whole thing. You can't hang out a Welcome mat if you aren't going to answer they door when people knock.

Because no one wants to live in Iowa. They're not going to go to Iowa, they're going to crowd into the cites and live shoulder to shoulder with people like me.

I'm very sympathetic to these people's plight, but I also wonder what the point of having a country is if you're just supposed to let everybody in it.
posted by yonega at 9:33 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to find this post on Mefi, since I go to Bryn Mawr and haven't heard a word of this yet. I can't tell if I've just spent too much time in the library this week or if people at Haverford aren't talking about it enough for the news to make it through to this campus.
posted by Oliva Porphyria at 9:44 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm very sympathetic to these people's plight, but I also wonder what the point of having a country is if you're just supposed to let everybody in it.

One of the things that's kept us politically deadlocked on this issue is pretending like there's no difference at all between figuring out a workable, humane solution for regularizing the status of longtime residents whose status is undocumented and just opening the borders to everyone. The two things are not the same, and acting like they are gets us idiotic policy.
posted by rtha at 10:00 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


rtha,

They are equivalent but because it would make being able to hide for long enough the new requirement.
posted by yonega at 10:56 AM on February 2, 2013


It's an absurdity to think that open borders means everyone would magically come to the US. Why are all 50 states still populated? Why haven't all Americans moved to the "most desirable" area? Why don't all EU citizens move to Sweden or Denmark? Until we invent teleportation, most people will stay put.

I think it's fair to equate with magical thinking the idea that being born somewhere gives you some sort of natural right to exclude others from that territory. What's the basis there? It's a rotten, anti-humanist concept at the root. Just because it is that way doesn't mean we all have to buy into it. In fact, it's anachronistic to pretend that migration control is the natural way of society, because despite being the status quo at this time it certainly hasn't always been.
posted by threeants at 11:14 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The reality is is that we're a really big country with pretty porous borders. If you, yonega, can think of a politically and economically feasible way to somehow keep visa overstayers out and would also somehow make all the longtime undocumented folks leave that would work in this real world where we live, please do tell us.
posted by rtha at 11:18 AM on February 2, 2013


I live in and am from NYC. From my perspective, people are pouring out of "less desirable" states in droves and bringing rents up and wages down with them because they are willing to pay any price and suffer any indignity to live in a closet here.
posted by yonega at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2013


Of course immigrants are moving to Iowa, if not in the same numbers as to New York. Iowa's foreign-born population has risen from 43,000 to 133,000 over the last 20 years. Source
posted by dd42 at 12:14 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen stats, but it also makes sense.

Thanks, that was helpful. I particularly liked part which addressed the federal inmate numbers to which anti-immigration folks like to point. If those numbers are right it does seem like undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes. Like I said, I don't think crime stats should be dispositive as to our immigration policy but it does seem to shoot down at least one of the planks the anti-illegals folks use.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2013


If you, yonega, can think of a politically and economically feasible way to somehow keep visa overstayers out... ...that would work in this real world where we live, please do tell us.

Pfff, that's easy. Just do what the non-porous countries do - keep records of who crosses the borders. The USA doesn't do this, it only records arrivals, not departures, on a trust system. But it fingerprints and photographs and records all contact information from all arrivals such that it totally could track down anyone.... if there was any reason to think they were overstaying, but there isn't, so we good.

I'm guessing there is some American taboo against keeping records of border crossings, maybe similar to SOCIALISM!1! and gun registration, perhaps the boogeyman in this case is Soviet and Cuban exit visas, however my understanding is that US is getting around whatever the problem is by setting up information sharing with more countries (such as Canada). Thus the US doesn't need to ID you as you exit that border, because Canada will ID you as you enter Canada and then pass that info back to the US.

and would also somehow make all the longtime undocumented folks leave

Uh, as cited previously, you depend on those folk. You make them all go and sectors of your economy collapse outright, throw in the domino effect and soon you are unemployed. Any mass departures need to happen as a gradual weening over decades, and that means that if you're clamping down somewhat on the future influx, then it's not really an issue to give a path to the underclass.
posted by anonymisc at 4:01 PM on February 2, 2013


Uh, as cited previously, you depend on those folk.

Uh, I know. I was asking yonega to engage with this issue with actual policy suggestions rather than with handwavy empty rhetoric. "Make all the longtime undocumented people go home" is not a workable policy. It's not a policy at all.

I'm guessing there is some American taboo against keeping records of border crossings, maybe similar to SOCIALISM!1!

Maybe? I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a reason like this, but my own guess is that it's just something that's always been seen (accurately or not) as too expensive and labor-intensive to be worth it, since most visa holders leave when they're supposed to (probably? this is also pure guesswork on my part).
posted by rtha at 4:20 PM on February 2, 2013


Uh, I know. I was asking yonega to engage with this issue with actual policy suggestions rather than with handwavy empty rhetoric. "Make all the longtime undocumented people go home" is not a workable policy. It's not a policy at all.

It is a policy, just one you happen to disagree with. Let longtime undocumented people stay means that the requirement for US citizen ship is to live here illegally under the radar for time T and then that's it.

I have mixed feelings about this, because, as I said.. I'm from a "destination", but I don't like the "close the borders dialog", because a lot of it seems driven by racism and xenophobia.

If we're so dependent on immigrant labor then maybe employment for time T should lead to citizenship and employing noncitizens would be tracked and regulated, with fines on those who employ without reporting it so that it can earn them 'citizenship points'.

But, if standards matter, you still have to get rid of people who fail, otherwise.. you're just saying let everyone who wants to come and stay.

When I meant people from "less desirable" states, I wasn't even talking about foreign immigrants.. I was talking about people from Iowa.
posted by yonega at 4:41 PM on February 2, 2013


It's not a policy in the sense that you haven't provided a framework by which it can be accomplished, one which takes into account the reality of the financial and bureaucratic costs, let alone the social.

Without an engagement with and honest examination and discussion of those issues, you end up with laws and policies like Georgia's and the consequences: oh my god, who will pick the produce? oh my god, the lines at the DMV have tripled! oh my god, we don't have the staff or the budget to handle all the new paperwork! oh my god, local law enforcement jurisdictions are refusing to enforce the law because they don't have the staff or the budget or the space! oh my god, we're getting sued for civil rights violations! - where the "unforeseen" consequences were more like "nope, not gonna look, gonna pretend there can't be any downsides to this law" consequences.
posted by rtha at 4:57 PM on February 2, 2013


The USA doesn't do this, it only records arrivals, not departures, on a trust system.

Bullshit. I have a departure card in my passport that I have to surrender when I leave the USA, or I will be marked as having overstayed.

Any other misconceptions you need cleared up?
posted by jacalata at 6:55 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bullshit. I have a departure card in my passport that I have to surrender when I leave the USA, or I will be marked as having overstayed.

And if you came in on the VWP you have an I-94W that is filled out on your behalf with the advanced passenger information you supply to the airlines and they sure as hell track your comings and goings to the US.
posted by Talez at 7:40 PM on February 2, 2013


Because no one wants to live in Iowa. They're not going to go to Iowa, they're going to crowd into the cites and live shoulder to shoulder with people like me.
Because obviously it's not like migrant farm workers are a thing. Seriously, what is it with people having oppinions about things when they clearly have no idea what's going on? There have been tons of Hispanic people moving to Iowa, presumably many of them are undocumented.
I also wonder what the point of having a country is if you're just supposed to let everybody in it.
What? I don't even understand how that makes any sense. Countries didn't form as a way to keep people out, the purpose was to delineate what territory belonged to what kings. Newer countries (like the US, for example) were formed as a way to get away from the control of other more distant countries. The US didn't form as a way to keep people out.
Pfff, that's easy. Just do what the non-porous countries do - keep records of who crosses the borders. The USA doesn't do this, it only records arrivals, not departures
What the hell are you talking about? Since 9/11 the US government has kept complete travel records - including internal travel on planes, etc on every single person - visitor, citizen, whoever. They know if people over stay their visas. This is just complete nonsense.
It is a policy, just one you happen to disagree with. Let longtime undocumented people stay means that the requirement for US citizen ship is to live here illegally under the radar for time T and then that's it.
No, the policy would only be for people currently in the country, not people who come into the US at a later date.
posted by delmoi at 2:54 AM on February 3, 2013


I know there are a a lot of practical, economic, and sociopolitical reasons for maintaining national borders and sovereignty and all that, but I can't help but consistently be amazed that in the 21st century, we can't just get a job somewhere and move there. Rather that there is this elaborate bureaucracy in place to ensure minimal labour freedom for the sake of...I don't know, human interest protectionism. You take offence at calling these people undocumented Americans, but it really sucks for a legal, educated, tax-paying and law-abiding foreign worker to be referred to as a non-resident alien, too. I know, I know, cry me a river, but language matters, and the language we use to dehumanized each other doubly so.

I have a constant low-level anxiety in the back of my mind about my status here being so temporary and utterly at the whims of my employer. All the pretty language in, say, the tech community about disruptive technology and changing the world and starting your own business? Well, I'm actually not allowed to be self-employed, and it costs so much money to sponsor a work permit I doubt any start-up would take the risk (and wait three months for the Department of Labour to decide that no Americans are available to fill the position so we deign to let a lowly Canadian work here).

The US has no obligation to make my life easier. I am here because I like an American, and am willing to jump through hoops for him. But it can damn well stop pretending that it's some sort of open-minded utopia for all free-thinking and hard-working folk, that the system is set up to encourage people to succeed rather than vice versa. Protectionism is as alive and well as ever. Okay if that's your national policy, but at least call it what it is.
posted by Phire at 11:40 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know there are a a lot of practical, economic, and sociopolitical reasons for maintaining national borders and sovereignty and all that, but I can't help but consistently be amazed that in the 21st century, we can't just get a job somewhere and move there.

If labor was as mobile and organized as capital, who KNOWS what could happen!?

/good heavens, I think I've become a Socialist.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bullshit. I have a departure card in my passport that I have to surrender when I leave the USA, or I will be marked as having overstayed.
Any other misconceptions you need cleared up?


I think some of the misconceptions may be yours. I've failed to surrender a departure card (more accurately, the airline screwed up and I didn't know better at the time). It wasn't a problem. I've also talked to intentional overstayers (now legal) and as far as the system is concerned, none of them overstayed.
Yeah, there is a sort of patchwork system there, but in my experience it's closer to voluntary than mandatory.
Or a more positive interpretation, perhaps discrepancies are handled in good faith, benefit of the doubt, etc.
posted by anonymisc at 7:05 PM on February 3, 2013


(Hmm, I'd also speculate that part of it is the ubiquitous issue - no matter what the problem is - of data always being spread across a dozen different government agencies, each with their own legacy computer systems that barely talk to any other systems.)
posted by anonymisc at 7:24 PM on February 3, 2013


ah, I think I misunderstood when you said 'the USA...only records arrivals...[because of] some American taboo against keeping records of border crossings, '. I didn't even consider that you actually meant 'the USA records departures, but doesn't use the information to hunt down overstayers in the country'.

It's true afaik that the most common consequence of overstaying a visa is simply denial of re-entry/future visas (fairly easy to find instances of that if you look), and that they don't actually bother to track down overstayers and deport them that I've heard of, but it's straightforwardly untrue to say that they do not record departures or act on that information.
posted by jacalata at 9:27 PM on February 3, 2013


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