Fact-Based Policy

There isn’t any actual crisis in immigration. If that sentence surprises or infuriates, you’re probably paying far too much attention to the news. The situation which has the entire nation worked into a frenzy was entirely made up for political purposes.

It’s not exactly clear why, either. While Trump aid and Politischertacitischerführer Steven Miller thinks that opposing immigration is a huge winner for Trump, surveys show that Americans strongly favor immigration. It’s as if the nation knows in its guts that we are at or near full employment and there is indeed a net labor shortage. This furor might fire up the base and make sure they show up in November, but that is still a long way away

Nevermind all that. We have a crisis on our hands because for one dumb reason or another Trumplandia thought it would suit them. Let’s look at facts and see if there is something more calm and human that can and should be done.

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The Road To Hell

There is no excuse for the current policy at the US border with Mexico. It was indeed changed by the current administration in April, regardless of how Trump tries do deny responsibility. His Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary don’t run from it.

But while there is no excuse for this policy, it is important to note that it is not particularly different from the horrors that our immigration laws have inflicted for at least a generation, if not longer. It is indeed an attempt to fully enforce existing law, a series of laws never fully put into place because they do indeed violate basic human rights. Never enforced, that is, until now.

The current violations of decency and due process highlight a dance that the US has long had with human rights violations. When the music stops it is long past time for us to review not just this policy but every aspect of immigration and border control.

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DACA Debacle

Should the Democrats push hard on the Dream Act, fighting hard for those who need them and never giving up? Or should they bide their time, crafting whatever small deals they can to save as many people as possible?

There is nothing more repugnant than to put the words “play” and “DACA” in the same sentence, yet that is where we are. We have to know how to play DACA in order to do as much of the right thing as we can. There’s nothing new about this, given that all legislation has to be “played” through the system in Washington. The problem with DACA is that it has become an oversized issue full of pointless symbolism, stripped of its real essence.

This is about the lives of hundreds of thousands of good, decent, and innocent people.

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St Patrick’s Day

I like to re-use this post every St Patrick’s Day as one of my personal favorites.  It has a new meaning this year, sadly.

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland.

Our people have wandered the earth like almost no other, and for one day we all return home with the help of a hyphen. Many of us become Irish-Americans or Irish-Canadians on Saint Patrick’s day when any other day American or Canadian would be enough. We drink up well in pubs, cheer on the bagpipers, and think back to what our ancestors must have gone through to get us where we are.

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(re)New America

A few years ago, I found myself on Payne Avenue in St Paul after an absence of many years. It had changed, noticeably, and for the better. Shops were clean and bright, people filled the sidewalks, and traffic was impressively bad.

More interestingly, many of the signs on the newly refurbished shops were in Spanish and Hmong.

This process is hardly anything new in American history. A new generation of immigrants often arrives with little more than what they can carry but soon saves and scrapes enough to put a stake down. The first places they invest the rewards of restless work meeting boundless opportunity are neighborhoods like St Paul’s East Side. For those short on cash but long on vision Da Hood is not a problem but an opportunity.

This and many other examples show the real stakes in the immigration ban – the heart and soul of the relentless ability of our nation to renew itself.

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Memorial Day at Oakland Cemetery

The scraggly oak trees intertwine their branches in a tall ceiling that shades the entire drive. Here, the appropriate view of the eternal isn’t blue and bright, but sheltered and close to the ground.  The rows of marble and granite dazzled by bright flowers have their own quiet redemption as the slow speed limit and a gentle wave from each passerby gives the setting grace.

This is Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul’s municipal cemetery, founded in 1853.

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St. Patrick’s Day

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland.

Our people have wandered the earth like almost no other, and for one day we all return home with the help of a hyphen. Many of us become Irish-Americans or Irish-Canadians on Saint Patrick’s day when any other day American or Canadian would be enough. We drink up well in pubs, cheer on the bagpipers, and think back to what our ancestors must have gone through to get us where we are.

Continue reading