Washington Times: (Republican) Convention to duck immigration

According to an Associated Press article in the Washington Times, the Republican Party will also most likely remain silent on the issue of immigration because the positions between both Presidential candidates are so similar.

Personally, I believe McCain will be the better candidate to deal with this because Republicans will be more likely to work with him than with Obama.

ST. PAUL, Minn — It’s the unmentioned issue — Democrats were nearly silent on immigration during their convention, and on Sunday House Minority Leader John Boehner said the Republican convention won’t say much about it either.

“Probably nothing,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “In every election cycle, some issues rise to the top and others fall to the wayside.”

The issue, which rocked the Senate in 2007, has fallen in importance in part because the election doesn’t offer voters much of a choice.

Both Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain sharing similar positions: Both men support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, though Mr. McCain now says that must come after border security, while Mr. Obama says they must be combined.

At Democrats’ convention several speakers did mention the issue, including Sen. John Kerry, who criticized Mr. McCain for backtracking from the broad bill the Republican wrote along with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

“Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it,” he said.

Unlocking the Mystery of SOLs and AYP

How SOLs and AYP Work
Contributed by Guest Poster DB

SOL scores and AYP pass rates were made public at the end of August, and there have been many articles in various newspapers about which schools in our area made, or did not make AYP. AYP, or Annual Yearly Progress is how the federal government measures a school’s performance of the No Child Left Behind standards.

Understandably, AYP causes some confusion among those who do not work in the school system. This is how it works. Each year, students in certain grades take the Virginia SOL tests which are designed to measure how the students are progressing in the areas of English (Reading), Math, Writing, Social Studies, and Science. The state of Virginia looks at how the students perform on all of the tests. For AYP purposes, the federal government looks at ONLY the Math and English scores. The state of Virginia looks at the total pass rate for each test at each grade level. When it comes to AYP, the federal government does NOT look at the total pass rate for all students, but breaks the test scores into categories, and looks at the pass rate in EACH category.

If a school has students that fail in certain categories, the school does not meet AYP. The student population of every school is broken down into the following AYP categories: black, Hispanic, white, students with disabilities (i.e. an LD student with an IEP), disadvantaged students (those who receive free or reduced lunch), and LEP students (those considered to be ESOL). It is possible for a student to represent more than one category. A white student who receives free lunch will have his/her test scores counted in two categories: white and disadvantaged. A black student with an IEP who receives reduced lunch will have his/her scores counted in three categories: black, students with disabilities, and disadvantaged. So it is possible for schools to have students that pass or fail in more than one category.

Here is an example of one Manassas City elementary school’s test rates. The school is Baldwin. It is a K-4, Title I school which means that a high percentage of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and it has a medium- sized ESOL population. The overall pass rate for the English SOL was 77%; the pass rate for Math was 84%. Not too bad when you look at the total pass rates. In order to make AYP, a school must have a pass rate of 75% in Math and 77% in English. Looking at the overall pass rate, one would think that Baldwin made the cut. But once the scores were examined in the AYP categories, Baldwin did not make AYP because they did not achieve the 75% and 77% pass rate in each and every category:

Pass rates by category in English: black 66%, Hispanic 74%, white 91%, students with disabilities 68%, disadvantaged students 66%, and LEP students 68%.

Pass rates by category in Math: black 69%, Hispanic 81%, white 96%, students with disabilities 71%, disadvantaged students 77% and LEP students 80%.

When a school does not make AYP, the blame game often follows. It’s the fault of the ESOL students, or the teachers, or the curriculum, or the principal etc. It is important to remember that the students who take the test each year are different. Those who took the 3rd grade SOLS last year, are not the same as the students who took it the year before. It is also important to note that the SOL tests change every year. The test questions on the 07-08 SOL tests were different than the year before, and the test questions on this school year’s tests will be different as well. Another important piece of information to consider is that a school’s SOL or AYP scores do not include cohort data.

There is no data that considers those students who have attended an elementary school from K to grade three. Likewise, there is no data on students who have moved through 4 or 5 schools before even getting to third grade. There are many schools in Manassas City, Manassas Park, and Prince William County that have revolving students. Though SOLs are the same through out the state, different school jurisdictions use different curriculums, and not all of their Scope and Sequences (what you teach, and when you teach it) will match.

Does an achievement gap exist among students? Absolutely. Despite years of effort by teachers and school systems, closing the gap among white, black and Hispanic students has been difficult. As the years have gone by, the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students is decreasing, yet the black students still lag behind. The Hispanic students in many cases now out perform the black students. Raising the achievement of black students is an issue that schools have struggled with in the past, and continue to struggle with today.


[Editors note: there is indeed a formula that few understand, and when the formula is applied to all categories, a school can fail AYP in a specific category even if the pass rates in that category are higher than the pass rates in another category. This information illustrates how convoluted the entire AYP process is.]

Seriously, this is our immigration quota system? OY VAY

So, as usual, I am wondering, how inadequate is our immigration system? I find this very interesting summary, it clarifies, fairly succinctly, how incredibly broken our system is in America, especially for unskilled workers. I won’t spoil the ending, but remember this number, 147, it will astound you when you realize what it represents.

But even if Congress were willing to expend the necessary funds to upgrade systems and supply the manpower needed to expedite the millions of applications already in the queue and awaiting processing, the major flaws in immigration policy would still exist.

Flaws codified into law that almost ensure that for the vast majority of would-be immigrants there is simply no legal path to take.

Here is where that number – 147 – comes into play, and why I asked that it be kept in the back of the mind.

I few weeks ago the annual Yearbook of immigration statistics from the Department of Homeland security came out listing every green card, work visa, tourist visa etc. issued for the past year. It’s about as dry and boring a report as one could managed to muddle through …but it supplies invaluable insight into what is really going on with the dysfunctional immigration system.

In 2006 the government issued a little over 1.2 million green cards to new immigrants to live in the US legally. Additionally, 1.7 million more non-immigrant visas were issued to temporary workers and their family members to work in the US (1/2 million more than the number of green cards issued to new permanent residents, a troubling statistic unto itself).

So at face value it appears that there is amble opportunity for those wishing to enter the country permanently to do so legally. But as Mark Twain said there are three kinds of lies “lies, damn lies, and statistics” ..and in this case one must delve into the numbers to see what story they really tell.

Of the 1.2 million green cards issued last year, 581,106 of those went to wives, children and parents of current US citizens. And additional 222,225 went to various other family members of citizens and legal residents, for a total of 2/3 of all green cards going to someone who already had a US citizen or resident relative.

The next largest category of immigrants after the “family based” status were those who entered as “employment based immigrants”. 159,081 immigrants were awarded green cards last year to legally work in the US. ( 12.6% of all immigrants). The vast majority of them being immigrants with high skills, “specialty skills” “extraordinary skills” or “advanced degrees”.

This is codified into the system.

The yearly cap on unskilled workers is placed at a 5000 maximum. This despite the fact that according to the Dept. of Labor, the US economy produces between 400,000 and 500,000 new low-skilled jobs a year and the vast majority of the nearly ½ mil unauthorized workers who enter the country each year find work in these unskilled sectors.

But as unrealistic as the 5000 cap appears, the situation is actually far worse.

Last year the total number of unskilled workers allowed into the US legally was roughly half the official cap: 2513. Out of nearly 3 million people allowed to enter the country either as temporary workers or stay as legal residents, only 2513 were unskilled workers.

But here comes that number I asked you to keep in the back of your mind ….remember it 147?…

Of the 2513 unskilled workers allotted green cards last year, 2366 were already here living and working in the US. They simply “readjusted” their status to permanent residents (most likely from some temporary worker status) …that leaves 147

147 new un-skilled workers without US citizen or legal resident family already here were allowed to enter the US last year legally and receive green cards.

147 out of 1,266,264.

147 …so tell me again how there is a legal path for all who are willing to work and wait patiently.

How long is one expected to wait… because if the ½ a million who enter each year through improper channels were to go home and wait patiently for their turn, it would take over 3000 years before they would get that chance when only 147 are allowed in each a year.

But the rhetoric will most likely continue, despite all factual evidence to the contrary. Lou Dobbs will nightly inform his minion that only the shiftless and slovenly disregard the law. O’Rielly will bluster away how he “respects and supports” those who “do it the right way” and Rush will whine that reform isn’t fair to all those “waiting in line”…But disingenuous blowhards and misleading experts cannot change the truth, or hide the facts. The current immigration laws, and the systems in place to enforce them, are woefully inadequate and all the wall building, workplace raids, deporting and incarcerating will not change that fact…and until they are addressed rationally and reasonably the “immigration crisis” will never end.

Undocumented Teenager Commits Suicide After Arrest

LEAGUE CITY — The 17-year-old’s lifeless body was frozen in a sitting position in solitary-confinement at the Galveston County Jail.

Arturo Chavez’s back was flush against a 7-foot partition for the cell’s shower. A blue blanket was twisted into a noose, with one end wrapped around his neck, the other tied to a shower head.

He apparently hanged himself about 48 hours after being arrested for what started as an illegal left turn.

I have a son, he is almost seven, I can’t imagine him risking his life, crossing the Rio Grande, at the tender age of 13, hoping to attain the American dream. This is a story that exemplifies a crisis with our Southern neighbors and with our broken immigration system. Yes, its true, albiet he did it without proper papers, this boy risked his life to come here to create a better life for himself and for his family, imagine the inner strength it must have taken to make such a journey.

Arturo Chavez, 17, after being arrested for making an illegal left hand turn, reportedly panicked, attempting to flee from his jail cell. According to jail officers he was tasered and clubbed while attempting to escape over a fence.

From all accounts, he was a model immigrant, taking classes to learn English, proud of his Mayan heritage but also proud to be here in America, his ankle braclet displaying the red, white, and blue colors. He worked hard as a bus boy, hoping to move up to waiter.  People will point out that he came here “illegally”, that he should not have been driving without a valid drivers license, and insurance.  I agree with all that, but what I am wondering, is where is our soul as a nation, that we don’t raise this child up, praise him for risking so much, for being so brave to strive for the American dream as a mere child.  How many teenagers do you know that exhibit such desire to better themselves and better their loved ones?

Those who knew Chavez said, like many undocumented immigrants, he feared any run-in with authorities as it would likely mean he would be deported.

He left Central America when he was 13 and wanted more out of life than he could get with tips loading baggage at a bus station.

Relatives say it took him nearly 15 days to get to Houston, including sneaking into Mexico and riding a passenger bus north.

He crossed the Rio Grande and hiked through South Texas.

Human smugglers demanded $3,500 to guide him, a hefty sum met with help from family and friends.

In Houston, he was known for his hustle and held out hope his improving English skills would get him promoted from busboy to waiter.

Chavez’s death was a mystery as much as a shock, said Mario Garcia, who owns the restaurant where Chavez worked.

“I don’t understand how you can go from making a mistake to losing your life, I’m dumbfounded by it,” Garcia said. “There are two sides to every story, and the truth is probably somewhere right in the middle.”

$100 sent home weekly
The kid known by his family as niño, Spanish for boy, had come a long way since leaving his indigenous village. He was sending home at least $100 a week to help his mother, father and sister.

He was not only working full time, but attending Clear Creek High School’s program to help newly arrived international students.

He wore woven bracelets made of blue and white yarn — the colors of Guatemala’s flag — as well as an anklet with the U.S.A.’s red, white and blue.

“He was very proud of his Mayan heritage,” said Elizabeth Laurence, one of his teachers. “He was a feisty young fellow, popular and wanted to learn English very much. He wasn’t timid; he tried to use it.”

Things were going well with his girlfriend, Jhoseline Martell, whom he met at school.

As the police cruiser’s lights flashed behind him near Louisiana Street and League City Parkway, Chavez dialed Martell on his cell phone and stuffed it in his pocket.

“He said the police have stopped me, just listen,” recalled Martell, 15.

He normally rode a bicycle to avoid such trouble, but he had recently bought a used green Honda sedan.

He had no driver’s license, no insurance and what turned out later to be a fake identification card.

He was arrested and taken to jail. His mugshot was taken while he wore the red shirt from his job as a busboy.

“Many Officials Reluctant to Help Arrest Immigrants”

Chief Deane, having expressed concern, from the outset of the first proposed immigrant resolution,  did not want to negate the relationship his department had built with the immigrant community due to an ill thought out resolution with would result in “unintended consequences”.  He shared great concern that turning his police officers into immigration enforcement would jeopardize the hard won trust his department had worked so hard to gain. It is not only Chief Deane that sees the risk in alienating the immigrant community, but apparently, the overwhelming majority of law local law enforcement feels the same way.  Is this some lefty bleeding heart liberal conspiracy? Or is just simply common sense. Read more in this Washington Post article that demonstrates a national reluctance to morph local police into immigration enforcement.

I also found it interesting that the crime trend in PWC, crime decreasing over the past four years while our immigrant populaton rose, represented a national trend. 

Although law enforcement agencies in Prince William and Frederick counties have agreed to help federal authorities enforce immigration laws, officials in many other parts of the country remain reluctant to do so, saying they fear losing the trust of immigrant communities and worry about being accused of racial profiling.

Despite a nationwide clamor against illegal immigration, only 55 of more than 18,000 police and law enforcement agencies across the country have signed agreements to coordinate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

El Paso’s mayor, John Cook, described his mostly Hispanic city on the Mexican border as “the second-safest city in America,” in part because it stresses community police involvement. While recognizing that illegal immigration is a crime, he said he is also worried about a growing public perception that immigrants are criminals.

“There is a danger,” he said. “Once people don’t trust a police officer in immigrant communities, they become communities that foster crime, where people won’t report domestic violence or the theft of a TV. If people feel they are under threat of being deported, they become silent. There has to be a delicate balance.”

Several scholars at the meeting expressed concerns about public perceptions that illegal immigrants are linked with high crime. Rubén Rumbaut of the University of California at Irvine said crime rates across the country have steadily declined as immigration rates have increased. His research showed that the percentage of foreign-born men in U.S. jails and prisons is far lower than that of African Americans and in some cases close to the level of native-born whites.

Other legal experts and advocates at the meeting said that immigration law is increasingly being “criminalized” to prosecute people who have crossed the border to find work, especially by charging them with identity fraud, and that civil immigration warrants are being used like criminal warrants, even though they do not carry the same powers, such as the right to enter a home without permission.


Chairman Corey Stewart’s Political Aspirations

With much discussion over whether or not Virginia Governor Tim Kaine could become Barack Obama’s Vice Presidential running mate, it started me considering the political aspirations of Chairman Corey Stewart. We do know that according to a Washington Post article in February that Stewart did have intentions on seeking the Lieutenant Governor’s position even declaring himself the ‘preeminent Republican in Northern Virginia’. Now, while I don’t proclaim to know what his long-term objectives are, could he conceivably envision himself as a possible candidate for a national office?

Beaten to death because he was Mexican. How does a small town heal?

Luis Ramirez was murdered in mid July by a group of white teenagers. His story is one that should concern us all. While being beaten, the six teenagers, all whom were on the local football team, were allegedly yelling racial epitaths. Luis Rameriz was left on the street, bloodied, battered, and foaming at the mouth. He died two days after the attack, leaving behind a wife and two small children. There are many in the town that believe the actions of Hazelton greatly impacted the negative climate in the their town. Shenadoah, PA is located a mere 20 miles from Hazelton PA.

What was encouraging to me, watching and listening to this report, was the Mayor deciding that he was going to address this crisis head on by forming an advisory group to help build a new holistic community. It became clear to him that there was a division, seething below the surface, and until this tragic death of Luis Rameriz, he had been unaware of the growing tension. The mayor appears determined to help build a bridge between older generation of Shenandoah and the new inhabitants saying “we need to work together.”

One woman shared her experiences in town. While walking in town with her children, people have yelled out ” Here’s a quarter, take your kids to a landromat ’cause they are dirty half Mexicans.” She is caucasion and her partner is Mexican, a twenty year resident of Shenandoah. She now fears for his safety.

WP: Final Salute to a Navy Pioneer

The Washington Post has an article about the grand opening of a Prince William County Public School – Samuel Gravely. The school is named for the nation’s first black Vice Admiral, Samuel Gravely.

According to his widow,

“There were people who didn’t want to be on a ship with him. There weren’t many blacks in the Navy,” Gravely said. “One time, he was taken to jail in Key West, Florida, for impersonating an officer. He was an officer, and he was in an officer’s uniform.”

“Anchor Baby” wins Gold for US

Photo: Saurabh Das / Associated Press

The New York Times reports that Henry Cejudo the son of illegal immigrants from Mexico wins the Gold Medal for the United States in wrestling. Congratulations Henry!

The American flag landed on the scorer’s table, launched by a family member with exceptional aim. Henry Cejudo grabbed it from his coach and draped it around his body. He stood there for the longest time, fighting back tears, the son of illegal immigrants wrapped in stars and stripes.

BVBL Strives for High Standard?

Greg L said on 19 Aug 2008 at 12:37 am:
Monticup, I understand your frustration and outrage, but try to refrain from characterizing all illegal aliens as nascent criminals. Some are, but it would appear that they’re a pretty small minority. With somewhere around 12 million illegal aliens in the US by conservative estimates, if they were all predisposed to criminal behavior we’d be far worse off than we are. There are about 300,000 illegal aliens in Virginia, and we certainly don’t have a crime explosion that such numbers would create.

A big problem however is that of those 300,000 we have no idea who they are. Among them are certainly some of the worst folks you could imagine from both a crime and a national security perspective. In order to ensure these bad actors aren’t present, the lawful deportation of as many illegal aliens as possible is a way to ensure we remove those who pose the most significant threat as well as (perhaps more significantly) discourage other bad actors from unlawfully entering the country.

If we cannot control our borders, we are no longer a sovereign nation, and our democracy is in grave peril. As we seek to do so, we have to be certain that what we ask for is reasoned and responsible. We can’t do that very well by saying all illegal aliens are invariably rapists and murderers without undermining our arguments. There’s enough provable and unambiguous data out there to support our arguments without stretching so much, and in ways that can become counterproductive.

We have to maintain a higher standard than anyone else, and while it might not be fair, that’s just how it is. Let’s do our best to be better than those arguing the other side.

Acutally, it’s almost refreshing to see Mr. Leteicq make this kind of statement. It’s in sharp contrast to his infamous ‘Dog for Sale’ thread. Apparently he is coming to the realization that in order to be considered a rational voice in the immigration debate he can no longer permit the previously employed rhetoric and mischaracterizations of all ‘illegals’ as being rapists, murderers etc… To what extent this transformation is a result of our efforts might never be known but I feel confident that we have contributed to forming the terms of this discussion. Congratulations to everyone for their continued participation.

“Uneasy Neighbors: A Brief History of Mexican – U.S. Migration”

I have been doing some research into the history of immigration originating from “south of the border”. The more I read, the more clarity I have in this unhealthy dance between the U.S. and Mexico. This article by the Harvard Magazine, succinctly points out, the historical migratory relationship throughout the last century, and the story does not seem to alter, no matter what decade. It goes something like this, America needs labor, cheap labor, we enlist help from our “south”, we get irritated with the “help” and send them home. Some time later, not a long period of time mind you, we realize that we need more cheap labor. We send out the “bat” signal, calling all cheap labor, and next thing you know, we have immigrant workers, legal and illegal.   Clearly, many of the immigrant workers, legal and illegal who are hispanic are not all from Mexico, but I believe the premise of the article, this country needing an expanded unskilled work force, holds true for many of our southern neighboring countries.   

This cycle has continued to this day. Isn’t it about time we figure out how to create some real workable and fair solutions to this ongoing dilema?

The first significant wave of Mexican workers coming into the United States began in the early years of the twentieth century, following the curtailment of Japanese immigration in 1907 and the consequent drying up of cheap Asian labor. The need for Mexican labor increased sharply when the Unites States entered World War I. The Mexican government agreed to export Mexican workers as contract laborers to enable American workers to fight overseas. After the war, an intensifying nativist climate led to restrictive quotas on immigration from Europe and to the creation of the U.S. Border Patrol, aimed at cutting back the flow of Mexicans. But economic demand for unskilled migrant workers continued throughout the Roaring Twenties, encouraging Mexican immigrants to cross the border—legally or not.

The Depression brought a temporary halt to the flow of Mexican labor. During the early 1930s, Mexican workers—including many legal residents—were rounded up and deported en masse by federal authorities in cooperation with state and local officials. Mexicans became the convenient scapegoats for widespread joblessness and budget shortages; as Douglas Massey, Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone point out in Beyond Smoke and Mirrors (2002), Mexicans were accused, paradoxically, of both “taking away jobs from Americans” and “living off public relief.”

Although intended as a wartime arrangement, the Bracero program continued under pressure from U.S. growers, who feared a continued labor shortage in the booming postwar economy. Still, the numbers of legal braceros fell short of demand, and growers began regularly recruiting undocumented workers to tend their fields. By the end of the Korean War, illegal immigration had become a fixture of the U.S. agricultural economy—and public sentiment had again turned restrictionist. In 1954, the U.S. government responded with “Operation Wetback,” apprehending close to one million illegal workers. Meanwhile, to appease the growers, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) reprocessed many of these undocumented Mexicans and returned them to the fields as legal braceros.

The passage of the IRCA set the stage, many observers believe, for the enormous and entrenched problem of undocumented immigrants that exists today. While granting amnesty to 2.3 million Mexicans residing illegally in the United States, the law began a process of border fortification and militarization that has had the opposite of its intended effect. The idea of building a wall—which began under the Clinton administration—turned a pattern of circular migration into one of permanent settlement. “Now ‘Once I make it, I’m not going back,’” Domínguez explains. As Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey pointed out to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005: “From 1965 to 1985, 85 percent of undocumented entries from Mexico were offset by departures and the net increase in the undocumented population was small. The build-up of enforcement resources at the border has not decreased the entry of migrants so much as discouraged their return home.”