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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Exiles React to Robertson's Fatwa

From the Bergen (NJ) Record via Hispanic Online:

Pat Robertson may have set off an international firestorm when he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week, but among some North Jersey Venezuelans who fled their homeland because of Chavez, the television evangelist made a lot of sense.

"I agree with him," said Excenia Perica, who lives in West New York. "Definitely, Chavez should be eliminated. We should get rid of him as soon as possible before he totally destroys Venezuela and before he exports communism to other countries."

Others counter that, as much as they would like to see Chavez removed from power, political assassinations are illegal, immoral and unacceptable.

Father Robert Sirico weighs in:

There is no question that Chavez is a dangerous and ruthless man. I’ve been to the country under his rule and visited his political opponents in jail. I’ve talked at length to opposition leaders and openly rooted for him to be dislodged from power.

Assassination, however, is contrary to the long run interests of freedom in that country. As an elected dictator, even dubiously elected, he enjoys more legitimacy than a dictator who rules by explicit seizure of power. The ideological basis for his rule is widely, if sadly, shared in that society. There is the principle of prudence at stake, and also morality: foreign-policy violence should be used only as a last resort and only consistently with the principles of just war (defensive, proportional, limited)...

Violence is terrible and terrifying, even if sometimes regrettably justifiable. It is more often demonic than godly. Its application, according to the just war tradition, depends on prudence -- something that has been in little evidence in Pat Robertson’s remarks of late.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Posada Carriles Deportation Hearing

From ABC News:

A Cuban militant and accused terrorist is not eligible for asylum in the United States but shouldn't be sent back to Cuba, a lawyer for the government told a judge in the opening day of the man's deportation hearing.

Luis Posada Carriles requested asylum after being arrested in May on charges that he sneaked into the country illegally through Mexico. He was arrested in Miami.

Lead government attorney Gina Garrett-Jackson told the judge Monday that federal officials hadn't yet decided if they would oppose Posada's deportation to Venezuela, where he has been accused of orchestrating the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuba jetliner.

She cited concerns about torture in opposing his potential deportation to Cuba.

Immigrant Terrorists

From the Irish Examiner:

Some immigrants used false documents to enter the United States, others let their legal visas expire once in the country. And at least 21 foreign nationals became naturalised US citizens before being charged or convicted as terrorists.

In all, at least 94 foreign-born visitors accused of terror activity between 1993 and 2004 exploited federal immigration laws to enter or remain in the United States, according to a study being released today.

Distributed by the Centre for Immigration Studies, an advocate for stricter immigration policies, the report provides newly-compiled data on US terror arrests to illustrate gaps in the nation’s border security, visa approval and immigration systems.

Meanwhile, the President is telling border state supporters that the federal government is going to do more to secure the southern border.

Bilingual Education

The controversy over bilingual education has been in the background lately, but this news may bring it back to the front burner:

The Education Department in 2002 appointed the National Literacy Panel, a non-partisan research group, to conduct a two-year study of existing research on bilingual education. More than three years later, the panel's report is still pending.

The panel's chairman, Timothy Shanahan of the University of Illinois-Chicago, last week said the Education Department won't publish its findings, which include studies suggesting that non-English-speaking students learn better when taught in both English and their native language. This approach is used by most schools but is criticized by some conservatives...

Over the past few years, a small group of conservative activists nationwide, led by software entrepreneur Ron Unz, has led a series of successful ballot measures to dismantle bilingual programs in California, Arizona and Massachusetts, in favor of English-only instruction...

Unz cites "quite extraordinary" gains in reading and language scores from 1998 to 2002 for immigrant children in California in English-only classes...

Bilingual advocates say most research in the field supports bilingual education, but Unz says most of the research "is complete garbage."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Salvadoran Soldiers in Iraq

From Yahoo! News:

It was dangerous at times, as servicemen fired their guns in the air to warn against possible attacks. But for at least one Salvadoran soldier — whose countrymen are the only Latin American soldiers left in Iraq — the six months he spent helping to build schools, drinking-water systems and clinics in Iraq were worth the time away from his family.

In an interview with The Associated Press upon returning home, Lt. Jose Rivera recalled how the Iraqi people would offer the soldiers tea and call them friends. The children would greet them with hugs.

"The public works projects benefit humble Iraqis, among them children, and that was really gratifying and kept us from questioning our mission," he said.

Hat tip: HACER

"AMLO"

Foreign Policy has a profile of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (a.k.a. AMLO):

López Obrador’s nostalgia for the good old days when the government dominated Mexico’s economy combined with his affinity for expensive social programs make foreign leaders and investors uneasy. Key elements of the political and business elite abhor López Obrador, the son of small-time merchants, a man who has never worked in the private sector, doesn’t speak English, and has seldom traveled abroad.

For the sake of the Mexican people, I hope and pray that this leftist demagogue does not become the next president of Mexico.

Castro's Continued Repression

Nat Hentoff:

For years, Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, referring to the temperature at which books burn, has been an inspiration to me and other millions around the world who believe in the freedom to read -- particularly in those countries whose dictators forbid dissenting books.

We were talking about Fidel Castro's recurring crackdowns on those remarkably courageous Cubans who keep working to bring democracy to that grim island where dissenters, including independent librarians, are locked in cages, often for 20 or more years. Bradbury knew about the crackdowns, but until I told him, was not aware of Castro's kangaroo courts often ordering the burning of the independent libraries they raid, as in 451.

For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Valdés Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: "As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness." Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message from him to Castro: "I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate.

"I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people." Among the books destroyed through the years by Castro's arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution and even a book by the late José Martí, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.

Brazilian Immigration

From Bloomberg.com:

Mexico may reinstate a visa requirement for Brazilians to help stem the flow of immigrants crossing through the country and entering the U.S. illegally as they flee the South American nation's poverty.

The government is reconsidering the rule, dropped five years ago, said Hermenegildo Castro, a spokesman for the National Immigration Institute in Mexico City.

Illegal crossings through Mexico by Brazilians have climbed ninefold since the rule was eliminated, making South America's biggest country the fastest growing source of unauthorized entries, according to the U.S. Homeland Security Department.

Minority-Owned Businesses

From BusinessWeek:

A Census report shows business ownership by minorities has shot past the national average. But some say long-term success remains an issue.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Jesse Jackson and Hugo Chavez

One more reason to dislike the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He gave a speech to the Venezuelan General Assembly in support of Hugo Chavez.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Eva Longoria's Headache

Ouch!

Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria is battling crippling headaches on the set of the second series after she was knocked unconscious by a metal pole while shooting a scene a week ago, reports IMDB.com.

Filming on the hit show is being scheduled around Longoria as she fights to make a full recovery from the concussion that sent her to hospital.

Costar Teri Hatcher said, "She's not completely back to her old self, but she's good -- they've done all the tests. She just needs to heal a bit more, so we're all just letting her do that."

Colombia & Afghanistan

From the Washington Times:

Colombia and Afghanistan are becoming counterdrug allies. Colombia has begun exporting counternarcotics know-how to Afghanistan in a bid to stem that country's record heroin production, which, in turn, bankrolls al Qaeda.

Much of the emphasis will be on Colombia's teaching the Afghans how to find and attack drug labs. Bogota yesterday re-established diplomatic ties with Kabul.

"Chavez is Robin Hood"

How disappointing! Marcela Sanchez defends the Venezuelan madman:

By golly, Chavez is a modern-day, Spanish-speaking Robin Hood.

Who's A Latino Baseball Legend

See my post below and get a load of this:

When Major League Baseball unveiled its ballot for the Latino Legends team Tuesday, the 60 nominees excluded two of the greatest Hispanic players ever: Ted Williams and Reggie Jackson.

Williams and Jackson's names seem out of place in a group with Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Pedro Martínez and Rod Carew, but Williams's mother was Mexican and Jackson's father was half Puerto Rican and played in the Negro leagues...

Had baseball made an egregious historical error by omitting Williams and his career .344 batting average or Jackson and his 563 home runs?

Cubans Miss Their Doctors in Venezuela

From the International Herald Tribune:

HAVANA Free universal health care has long been the crowning achievement of this socialist state, but the system is now under fire from Cubans who complain that quality and access are suffering as they lose tens of thousands of medical workers to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil, which this impoverished country desperately needs.

The close friendship between the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, and the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, has netted Venezuela a loan of 20,000 Cuban health workers - including 14,000 doctors, according to the Venezuelan government - who work in poor barrios and rural outposts for stipends seven times higher on average than their salaries at home. Castro has vowed to send Chávez as many as 10,000 additional medical workers by year's end.

In return for farming out more than one-fifth of its doctors to the petroleum-rich state, Cuba is permitted to import 90,000 barrels of oil a day from Venezuela under preferential terms. The arrangement gives Cuba's struggling economy, crippled by the US embargo in place since 1963, the biggest boost since the country lost Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s.

The Cuban doctors program is wildly popular among Venezuela's poor. But Cubans have begun to object that the exodus of their health care workers is taking a toll on medical care for Cubans. Most people interviewed would speak only on condition that they not be identified or asked that just their first names be used, for fear of reprisals.

The U.S. Needs More Foreign Workers

From OpinionJournal.com:

Political pressure for an immigration crackdown seems to be building, with allegedly serious people even debating a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Meanwhile, in the U.S. economy, the demand for foreign workers continues, as shown by the collapse of the H-1B visa program...

Each year, the U.S. issues a set number of H-1B visas to educated foreign professionals with specialized skills. Earlier this month the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, announced that the annual H-1B cap of 65,000 already has been reached for next year. In fact, it was reached in record time, or 14 months prior to the fiscal year in which the visas would be used...

Contrary to the assertions of many opponents of immigration, from Capitol Hill to CNN, the size of our foreign workforce is mainly determined by supply and demand, not Benedict Arnold CEOs or a corporate quest for "cheap" labor...

A central irony here is that opponents of lifting the H-1B cap also tend to be the biggest critics of outsourcing, which is fueled by the arbitrary cap. But the H-1B debate also exposes those who are giving lip service to immigration "reform" while doing nothing to fix the problem because they'd rather exploit it for political purposes. American companies don't have that luxury. They operate in the real world.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cuba Seizes Land of U.S. Company

That's not big news, Fidel Castro nationalized lots of U.S. company property in the 60s. What's interesting about the seizure described in this Miami Herald story is that it happened only a couple of years ago:

Four decades after Fidel Castro's government had apparently seized all foreign-owned properties in Cuba, it now turns out that a U.S. telephone company retained some 400 acres of land in and around Havana until just two years ago.

News of the surprising landholdings came after Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- owners of the Sheraton hotel chain -- filed a complaint last week with the U.S. Justice Department for $63 million worth of land it said the Cuban government seized in 2003 from a Starwood subsidiary.

Latinos in Lawrence, Massachusetts

From the Boston Globe:

Immigrant Latino home buyers in Lawrence represent the "economic engine" that is driving the city's revitalization, according to a new study.

The study, funded by the Malden-based Immigrant Learning Center, found that the number of homes owned and occupied by Latino immigrants rose by 600 percent to 2,462 between 1990 and 2000, and that Latino homeowners are now represented across the city...

"The revitalization in Lawrence is not fueled by 'gentrification' as has been the case in many communities throughout America. In the case of Lawrence, the revitalizing force are immigrant Latino individuals and families, many of whom already live in city neighborhoods," the study said, observing later, "It is this influx of Latino immigrants that holds the reins of Lawrence's future success."

Chavez: A Marxist with Money

The fact that Hugo Chavez has the resources from Venezuelan oil makes him more dangerous than Fidel Castro:

He is Fidel with money. Big money. Where Mr. Castro may be flagging, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a Latin American firebrand who is now in total control of the world's 5th largest oil-producing country. The U.S. gets 15 percent of its oil from Venezuela and Mr. Chavez is now threatening to bypass major oil companies and sell it directly to U.S. consumers. With oil at $60 a barrel, Venezuela's daily output of 2.6 million barrels brings in $156 million every 24 hours. Mr. Chavez's opponents all seemed to have sustained charisma bypasses. He has charisma to spare and millions to give away to the poor.

Robertson's Faux Pas

He may have apologized, but Pat Robertson's call for Hugo Chavez's "assassination" has already done considerable damage:

So much for the respectand pro-life positions that Robertson has long espoused. How inconsistent to fight to protect the life of the unborn and then call for the assassination of a foreign leader who holds opposing political views. Not that Robertson or anybody else shouldn't defend the right to live. But it's difficult not to see the contradiction between his two positions....

Latin American churches are raising up their own pastors and leaders who speak strongly about politics and social conditions in their countries, addressing concerns from their own experience and knowledge of their culture with biblical understanding and the support of their church members. They don't need a foreign TV evangelist calling for the assassination of their own leaders. How embarrassing!

Meanwhile, Marvin Olasky asks a good question: Who Would Jesus Assassinate?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hispanics Not Soft on Immigration

Ruben Navarrete:

Here's a news flash: When someone assumes that a whole group of people is, solely because of ethnicity, likely to believe a certain way, that's prejudice.

It is also preposterous. According to every poll taking the pulse of Hispanics in the past decade, this population takes seriously the issue of illegal immigration. That includes Mexican Americans, the one subgroup that you might think — because of their ancestors' experience — would be most sympathetic to immigrants, even illegal ones.

School Choice Debate

Excellent post by Hispanic Pundit on the school voucher debate. A must read.

Immigration Opinions

The Christian Science Monitor has two excellent editorials today on the issue of immigration:

The first:

[A] guest-worker plan is a false promise of ending the waves of illegal border crossings.

The second:

The American economy, particularly in agriculture and construction, has become dependent on large numbers of migrant workers. What's needed is some form of temporary legal work permit for those who come here, and then strict enforcement of the immigration laws presently being broken.

We report, you decide.

All-Latino Baseball Team

From Major League Baseball:

Major League Baseball (MLB) and Chevrolet, the official vehicle of Major League Baseball, today announced a program honoring the rich history of Latin American players in Major League Baseball entitled "Chevrolet presents the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team." This comprehensive program will give fans the opportunity to vote for the players that will comprise the first-ever official Major League Baseball all-time Latino team.

Go and vote.

Stronger Immigration Enforcement

From the New York Times:

Acknowledging public frustration over illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that the federal government's border control efforts must be significantly strengthened...

...the secretary intends to bolster the deportation process so that an overwhelmed detention system does not cause illegal immigrants to be set free instead of being sent home. He plans to add beds for detainees, expedite deportations by making more judges and lawyers available, and try to track down more illegal immigrants who do not appear for deportation hearings.

NPR is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is prosecuting more illegal immigration cases than ever. Is this creating a shortage of workers?

Gangsters to be Deported

From Gulf Times:

US authorities are ready to deport hundreds of gang members to Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, in a war against a violent threat that has sown fear from America’s cities to the rural midwest...

Of those arrested, 120 have already been deported, 80 have been approved for deportation, 600 are in ICE detention and 200 will go on trial and serve time before they are repatriated.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Virtual Peace Corps

Andres Oppenheimer has some interesting and insightful advice for President Bush as he prepares to participate in the Summit of the Americas.

The Complexity of the Immigration Issue

From the Miami Herald:

Immigration lies at the heart of America's genius. We take the motivated multitudes from around the world and adapt their energy and their ideas to meet our own needs.

At the same time, Democrats and Republicans alike ought to worry about the vast number of undocumented immigrants -- some 11 million strong and counting -- who call America home.

For one thing, they're ripe for exploitation -- particularly from employers. For another thing, many of them labor off the books, which means they take billions of dollars a year out of our local tax bases.

And then there's this point: If Washington can't stop workers from coming over our borders illegally, it's also baffled when it comes to protecting the home front from illicit drugs, illicit weapons and Islamic terrorists. We're not bigots if we worry about this.

A Dangerous Border

From the New York Times:

Often thought of as a federal or international concern, illegal immigration has reached such a pace along parts of the border that officials are now expressing fear for the people who live and work there. On Aug. 12, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, citing the kidnapping of three immigrants by bandits on the Johnsons' land, declared a disaster in four counties he described as "devastated by the ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and death of livestock." Several days later, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona followed suit.

The concerns come as the volume of illegal immigration has increased dramatically in both states, funneled there by stepped-up enforcement in California and Texas. Border Patrol figures for the 53-mile-long Deming Station area that includes the Johnsons' land show that 31,134 people were apprehended through July of this year, compared with 29,168 for all of last year. The patrol says there have also been more than 16,580 times this year when people turned back under the gaze of border agents.

In 2002, the patrol noted 13 cases of people driving through, over or past vehicle barriers. This year, there have been 330. Robert Velez, a Border Patrol agent, said the bodies of 11 illegal immigrants, apparently dead from exposure, have been found in the brush so far this year, compared with five in the Deming Station area in all of 2004.

Pat Robertson Calls for Chavez Assassination

This is not a good example of a Christian attitude toward your fellow man:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Expect an apology or a retraction in the next 24 hours.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Affirmative Action

A very interesting post on affirmative action at the Becker-Posner Blog, one of the best blogs on earth.

Protests Against Adventists Hospitals

If these accusations are true, this is outrageous behavior by the hospitals:

Under a blistering sun here recently, armed with only bottled water, homemade signs and the plight of one deathly ill little boy, a dozen Latino immigrants came to shame leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Their grievance: Hospitals operating in the name of the church overcharging and denying care to those least able to pay.

In the past year, lawyers for the poor have filed federal lawsuits in 22 states accusing nonprofit hospitals of failing to meet their tax-exempt obligations to provide indigent care. With those legal maneuvers unfolding at a glacial pace, one unlikely crusader is racing forward with a new line of attack, focusing on what he calls the un-Christian behavior of religiously affiliated hospitals.

"It's offensive these hospitals market themselves as providing the healing mission of Christ," said K.B. Forbes, the lead agitator and executive director of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, or Council of United Latinos. "There is nothing healing about charging someone quadruple and then sending the bill collectors after them."

Quote of the Day

This is the kind of thing you might hear from most immigrants:

"In the Dominican Republic I was happy, but I had no future. In New York I have a lot of problems, but I have opportunity."

18-year-old Santiago Molina, speaking to the New York Times about his summer in the Dominican Republic where he grew up.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pope to Latin America?

This seems like the right story to post on a Sunday:

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to announce by the end of this year whether he will make a visit to Latin America in 2007, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez of Honduras told AFP.

"The Holy Father will probably decide before the end of the year if he will accept the invitation of Latin American bishops to hold the Latin American Episcopal Conference in a country of our region and not in Rome," Cardinal Rodriguez said.

The conference was originally due to be held in Rome in February 2007, but the head of the Latin American Episcopal Commission, Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago, wrote to Pope Benedict asking him to switch the venue to its home continent.

Friday, August 19, 2005

U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela

Marcela Sanchez does not like the idea of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela for their failure to cooperate with America's drug intradiction efforts in South America.

Poetic Justice?

It certainly is ironic:

Spent shells litter the ground at what is left of the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in a storeroom. Just a few months ago, this ranch was known as Camp Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary group that promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking across the border with Mexico.

Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the border is being given to two immigrants whom the group caught trying to enter the United States illegally.

The land transfer is being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which the immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch and a former leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had harmed them.

Black-Latino Competition

An interesting question with many unsatisfactory answers:

Columnist, writer and political analyst Dr Earl Ofari Hutchinson recently wrote about the changing racial landscape in Watts, in South Central Los Angeles,which over a 40-year period shifted from a predominantly black population to one where Latinos are in the majority.

However, the resulting competition for jobs, housing and healthcare has caused racial tensions and a shift in political power in favour of Latinos. So the question is, will we see this scenario repeated in other states and how will this affect black progression in America?

No Immunity, No Aid

From the New York Times:

Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.

The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions.

To the Bush administration, the aid cuts are the price paid for refusing to offer support in an area where it views the United States, with its military might stretched across the globe, as being uniquely vulnerable.

But particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to 12 nations that have been penalized, the cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy, officials and diplomats in seven countries said.

More than that, some Americans are also beginning to question the policy, as political and military leaders in the region complain that the aid cuts are squandering good will and hurting their ability to cooperate in other important areas, like the campaigns against drugs and terrorism.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"Minority"

From the Dallas Morning News:

What do you call a minority that is becoming the majority?

News that Texas is the fourth state in which non-Hispanic whites make up less than 50 percent of residents has renewed discussion about whether the term “minority” has outlived its usefulness. Critics include both liberals and conservatives.

While some think the complaints are mere nitpicking, others argue the word is increasingly inaccurate, obsolete and even offensive.

Del Boca Vista Migration

This is very, very interesting:

Del Boca Vista is the mythical Florida retirement community Jerry Seinfeld's parents, Helen & Morty called home. Like Helen & Morty, the enduring cliché about older Americans is that once retired they pack up their belongings, bid adieu to colder climes, and move to Florida to enjoy rounds of golf and blue plate specials in Del Boca Vista-like retirement communities...

Tomorrow's Del Boca Vista migration won't necessarily be to the sun-belt states in the U.S. It's just as likely that a large subset of boomer retirees -- call them "boomer gringos" -- will bypass southern sun-belt states altogether for more affordable Central American alternatives like Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Belize and Honduras. Most Central American countries are still only a two or three hour flight back to the states and have adequate infrastructures allowing retirees to stay in touch with friends and loved ones back home -- good cell phone coverage, broadband Internet connections, even satellite television.

CAFTA Sends a Message

From the Miami Herald:

When Congress ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement last month and President Bush signed the bill into law, the implications went well beyond approving the details of just another trade agreement. The United States of America sent a clear message that the free trade movement in the hemisphere and throughout the world is alive and well.

Day Labor Center

From the Washington Post:

The Herndon (Virginia) Town Council last night approved the creation of a formal, taxpayer-funded gathering spot for day laborers, saying the chaos in a 7-Eleven parking lot where the workers now gather would only worsen if it did nothing.

The council members, in a 5 to 2 vote that several called the hardest decision in their public service, said they did not want to sanction illegal immigration, the chief concern of opponents of the center. Many of the workers the facility would serve are in the United States illegally from Mexico and Central America.

But council members said they were helpless in the face of what they called a federal failure to police U.S. borders. They said it was their responsibility to bring order to a neighborhood nuisance that had become the town's most divisive issue in recent history.

Ecuadorian Migrants Drown

From the New York Times:

Ninety-four migrants from Ecuador who were trying to reach the United States may have drowned when the flimsy boat they were traveling in sank off Colombia's Pacific coast, the Colombian Navy said Wednesday after nine survivors were rescued...

Tens of thousands of migrants leave Ecuador each year aboard creaky old fishing boats that for up to $12,000 per head transport them to Central America on the most perilous leg of a long journey to the United States. The passage, which covers more than 1,000 nautical miles from Ecuadorean coves to Central American beaches, can last more than a week.

Of the 103 passengers, 14 made it out before the boat sank and 9 were rescued.

MS-13

It sounds like the Mara Salvatrucha is out of control:

MS-13 is a Latin American gang founded in Los Angeles by refugees from El Salvador. Members also come from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

Never before has there been such an international law enforcement effort targeting a street gang, which in the case of MS-13 has mushroomed into the size of a small army.

El Salvador is trying to dismantle an MS-13 structure that numbers in the thousands, Douglas Omar Garcia Funes of that country's national police force told reporters during the daylong meeting.

U.S. authorities estimate MS-13 has some 10,000 members in more than 30 states.

Three members of the Los Angeles crew moved to the Washington area in 1993 to recruit, and by this past spring there were some 1,500 members in the area, an FBI official recently told Congress.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Border Crisis

From the New York Times:

Citing a surge of smuggling and violence along the border, the governors of Arizona and New Mexico have issued state of emergency declarations in recent days, faulting the American and Mexican authorities and freeing up federal and state money to strengthen local law enforcement efforts.

"Both federal governments let us down - there doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency," Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, a Democrat seeking re-election next year, said in a telephone interview Tuesday, a day after declaring a state of emergency in four border counties. Ms. Napolitano said that "ranchers are at their wits' end" with smuggled immigrants who damage their property and livestock.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat who is also seeking re-election and who may make a bid for the White House in 2008, issued an emergency declaration on Friday, after touring this turbulent border region where a police chief reported being shot at last week.

"This is an act of desperation," Mr. Richardson said in a separate phone interview, adding that border problems had gone beyond illegal immigration to violent crime. He said the action would provide resources "until Congress and the feds deal with this issue," but added, "it is not a political move - I never mentioned the Bush administration."

Rummy in Latin America

From the Washington Post:

ASUNCION, Paraguay, Aug. 16 -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, arriving in this South American capital Tuesday, said countries in the region should help strengthen democracy in Bolivia and suggested that governments in Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia in "unhelpful ways."

Apparently, Arlen Specter, the senior U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, is also in Latin America (Cuba and Venezuela, no less), and was trying to set up a meeting with Fidel Castro. Huh?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mexican Survey

From USAToday:

More than 40% of Mexican adults say they would move to the USA if they could, and one in five say they would do so illegally if necessary, according to surveys released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Surveys of 1,200 Mexican adults in February and 1,200 in May, conducted in their homes, show that Mexicans' rising education levels have not weakened the desire to live and work in this country.

More than a third of Mexican college graduates say they would come to the USA if they could, and more than one in eight would do so even if they had to enter the country illegally, according to the surveys, the first of their kind.

What is 21st Century Socialism?

Carlos Alberto Montaner explains:

That's what 21st-century socialism is all about: a mixture of strong-man dictatorship, collectivism and militarization of the structures of power. Little by little, the authoritarian pincers will squeeze Venezuelan society until they vanquish the media, crush labor unions, control educational centers, and silence the church and other forces of civilian society...

Where will this Cuban-Venezuelan axis lead? Given the constructivist fits afflicting Chávez -- who ceaselessly reorganizes the world according to his creative spasms -- it is probable that at some moment he will try to launch a federation of the two countries. But that would be only a first step in the direction of the multinational Boliviarian offspring that has grown, like a tumor, under his beret.

Read the whole thing.

Family Hardship

Dianne Twinam:

I know that in recent years the mood among much of the American public has turned against illegal immigrants, especially since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "They broke the law," is the constant refrain. "Why should they be rewarded?"

The trouble is that the law is out of sync with economic and social realities in the United States -- especially with the job market. Many of those who decry illegal immigration willfully ignore the economic benefits it provides to much of the society. For most of the 11 million undocumented people in this country, this is the first law that they have ever broken -- a law that makes no more sense to them than the laws requiring segregated seating on buses made to Rosa Parks. If it were suddenly and universally enforced, it would produce an economic disaster.

El Salvador & CAFTA

From the Washington Post:

Economists who have studied CAFTA's potential impact on the Salvadoran economy say that to see real benefits from the agreement, the country's government must first deal with a host of social challenges. These issues include a high crime rate, poorly educated workforce and weak infrastructure in some parts of the country, according to a report... released by the International Monetary Fund last week. The IMF also found that El Salvador needs to develop better oversight of its financial system and increase its national savings.

If CAFTA prompts the Salvadoran government to tackle those issues, the agreement could create a ripple effect that strengthens the country's economy and attracts foreign investment in many industries, economists said. Industries that stand to gain include light auto-parts manufacturing and niche agriculture focused on food products indigenous to the country, Garza said.

Immigration Debate in the GOP

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

The White House is planning a new push to change the nation's immigration laws, looking in part for businesses to lobby Congress to pass measures that give more foreign-born workers legal status while also toughening lax enforcement.

But the conflicting interests of President Bush's big-business supporters, who believe the economy needs more workers, and some Republican Party conservatives -- who have made a top priority of clamping down on illegal immigration in the name of national security -- threaten the prospects for a quick deal.

Monday, August 15, 2005

David Brooks on Immigration

A lot of posts about immigration today. I think this means that the country is beginning to debate the issue in preparation for Congress considering what to do about the President's guest worker proposal. One of my favorite pieces on the immigration issue is David Brook's column in yesterday's New York Times. As the debate intensifies, you're likely to see more posts here and everywhere about immigration. Enjoy it while it lasts.

The responses to Brooks' column by New York Time readers are interesting...

Immigration and Terrorism

Nathan Smith:

...[M]any feel that 9/11 strengthens the case for immigration restrictions. They have a point, of course. Letting in just a few successful foreign terrorists would have catastrophic consequences. In order to prevent that, since we can't be sure which immigrants and visitors have terrorist intentions, we will end up enacting policies that shut out a lot of non-terrorists too.

Actually, though, our efforts to restrict immigration generally have nothing to do with preventing terrorism. Thanks to the visa waiver program, young European Muslims, who really do constitute a terror threat, can travel to the US visa-free. Meanwhile, demographic groups for which there is no pattern of terrorist behavior against the United States whatsoever, such as Orthodox Russians, Christian black Africans, southeast Asian Buddhists, and Indian Hindus, have enormous difficulty obtaining visas. Such restrictions are not intended to protect us from terrorism, but to artificially restrict the labor supply in order to deliver to American workers what in economics jargon are called rents, meaning unfair advantages that accrue to insiders as a result of rules that interfere with the market.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers in manufacturing in the US earned $21.97/hr, on average, in 2003. (In many European countries, wages are even higher.) In Mexico, which is representative of Latin America, they earned $2.48/hr. In Sri Lanka, which is representative of South Asia, they earned less than 50 cents per hour. Workers in the Third World agricultural and service sectors tend to earn even less than workers in manufacturing. So workers in developing countries generally earn between ten and a hundred times less than workers in developed countries, often for similar kinds of work. These wage differences are the core of global economic injustice.

If there were free labor mobility, workers would move from low-wage to high-wage countries and the international differences in wages would diminish. Most immigration restrictions are enacted by rich countries in order to prevent this from happening. In other words, these laws have the sole purpose of exacerbating inequality. If we changed our policy to allow in those who obviously intend to be peaceful workers, while focusing our immigration control efforts on threats to national security, we could reduce discrimination against the foreign-born, while protecting ourselves better against terrorism.

Assimilation

W. James Antle III:

Assimilation is often casually invoked as the magic bullet that will solve all the problems brought about by continuous mass immigration. Indeed, the integration of newcomers through Americanization campaigns has been the key to this country's immigration successes. But today assimilation takes a back seat to other considerations in formulating immigration policy...

The U.S. immigration system must get back to making Americans. This doesn't mean that new Americans must reject their heritage... But the persistence of old habits does show that Americanization must be a deliberate policy, not something left to chance.

Most Influential

Time Magazine's latest edition is dedicated to the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in the country. Some of the names are totally unfamiliar to me.

Louis Farrakhan

From Yahoo! News:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Mexican President Vicente Fox was right to say that Mexican immigrants take jobs "that not even blacks want."

Although Fox was sharply criticized for his remarks by some black leaders, Farrakhan said Sunday that blacks do not want to go to farms and pick fruit because they already "picked enough cotton."

"Why are you so foolishly sensitive when somebody is telling you the truth?" he asked the crowd at Mercy Memorial Baptist Church. He said blacks and Latinos should form an alliance to correct differences and animosity between the two communities.

Ds & Rs on Immigration

From John Fund of OpinionJournal.com:

The politics of immigration are changing. On Friday Bill Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, declared a "state of emergency" in four New Mexico border counties due to "a chaotic situation involving illegal alien smuggling and illegal drug shipments." His office has pledged $1.5 million for stepped-up law enforcement and also asked Chris Simcox, the president of the volunteer border patrol group Minutemen, for a meeting. Mr. Richardson, a man who wears his ambition for national office on his sleeve, has apparently decided he has to reposition himself on border issues.

He's not the only Democrat to do so. Sen. Hillary Clinton made headlines when she embraced high-tech measures to control the border with Mexico and fines for employers who hire illegal aliens. "Democrats clearly sense frustration on immigration among Bush's base voters and are trying to outflank him rhetorically on the right," says Martha Montelongo, a talk-show hostess in California...

Republicans risk letting Democrats turn immigration into a wedge issue that drives many voters to the other party. If Mr. Bush wants to leave office having brought about real immigration reform along with an increase in Hispanic support for Republicans, he must also pull off the delicate balancing act of convincing Americans that the federal government hasn't lost complete control of the border. Otherwise, the issue will remain stalemated and ripe for political demagoguery.

Germany 2006

The World Cup is coming, and it's not too early to start preparing:

In September and October, thousands of immigrants from Central and South America will pay $15 to $20 at hundreds of bars to watch their countries’ soccer teams play in the qualifying rounds that determine which 16 nations’ teams will face each other next June in Germany. None of the 45 qualifying games, which started in March and end in October, are televised in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean sports fans, especially Latino immigrants, don’t want to watch them.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Post-CAFTA Challenges

Marcela Sanchez:

Earlier this month President Bush triumphantly celebrated Central America's success, promising that the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement he was signing that day would only help further... progress. Freer societies brought about by agreements such as CAFTA, he said, will help "eliminate the lawlessness and instability that terrorists and criminals and drug traffickers feed on."

Yet free trade won't be enough to create stability in Central America. A free flow of goods and services won't wipe away gang warfare or eliminate organized crime. In fact, if anything, transnational criminal activities would seem to thrive in a more open borders arrangement. And even more to the point, it is hard to think that many new U.S. investors will flock to the region as long as its security situation is what it is today.

This seems precisely the right time to recognize that for all the promises made, there are great challenges still ahead for the new trade partners.

Welcoming Strangers

From OpinionJournal:

In the past couple of months, several faith-based groups have come out in support of immigration reforms of one kind or another, finding a religious imperative in what is often seen as a secular political debate...

The Episcopal Migration Ministries works with the U.S. government to resettle between 2,500 and 3,000 refugees a year. "No story in the New Testament fully expresses the belief in hospitality as well as the story of the good Samaritan," says C. Richard Parkins, the organization's director. He cites other biblical injunctions as well, like Hebrews 13:2: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chile's Retirement System

Wharton has an interesting study that looks at how well the Chilean retirement benefits system is doing 25 years after its inception. This is important to many of us here in the U.S. because our leaders are considering the merits of private retirement accounts as a feature of our social security system.

Surveillance at the Border

From BusinessWeek:

Thanks to new technology and secure-cargo programs, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials at Nuevo Laredo and other heavily trafficked crossings have a more complete picture than ever of who and what is coming through. Since 2002, all exporters from Mexico have been required to deliver cargo manifests electronically to U.S. customs officials, along with details on the driver and the trucking company, at least an hour before a shipment is due to cross the border. To ward off bioterror threats, shipments of agricultural products now require 24 hours' notice so that they can be flagged for inspection if warranted. Every railcar that enters and leaves the U.S. is scanned by $1.5 million gamma ray machines capable of penetrating the heavy steel containers -- while the cars are rolling. Tractor trailers pass at least two inspection checkpoints, with some of them undergoing screening by huge X-ray booms that can scan a trailer in just over a minute. The images are displayed on computer screens that are viewed by agents in adjacent white vans. Every truck, railcar, passenger vehicle, and pedestrian must go through a radiation detector -- an effort to detect radioactive materials that terrorists could fashion into a dirty bomb. "More and better technology has definitely been made available to us over the last four years, and it's a real key to our operations," says José R. Uribe, assistant port director for trade operations at the U.S. Customs & Border Protection office in Laredo.

Latin America News

From the Economist magazine:

Rafael Correa quit as Ecuador's finance minister after disagreements with President Alfredo Palacio over Mr Correa's plans to borrow up to $300m from Venezuela, and with the World Bank, which has suspended a $100m loan.

Two leading contenders in Mexico's presidential race, Roberto Madrazo of the PRI and Santiago Creel of the PAN, suffered blows as polls showed internal rivals catching up with both men.

Ireland said it would consider a request by Colombia to jail or send back three suspected members of the Irish Republican Army who jumped bail and fled home while facing accusations of teaching leftist FARC guerrillas to make bombs.

A judge investigating the finances of Chile's ailing ex-dictator, Augusto Pinochet, ordered the arrest of his wife and youngest son over tax-fraud allegations.

A commission of lawmakers recommended lifting the immunity of Nicaragua's President Enrique Bolaños so that he can be prosecuted on election-fraud charges. The row over the allegations has held up Nicaragua's ratification of the CAFTA trade deal.

In Brazil's biggest bank robbery, thieves tunnelled into the Central Bank's branch in the city of Fortaleza and grabbed 156m reais ($68m).

Fidel Castro's government cheered as an American appeals court overturned the 2001 convictions of five alleged Cuban spies. Cuba says they were spying only on anti-Castro groups, not on the United States.

Never a dull moment south of the border.

Minorities Scatter

From USAToday:

The nation's two largest minority groups are following strikingly different paths: Hispanics are moving to areas with few from their ethnic group; African-Americans are moving to suburbs in the South that have large black populations, Census estimates released Thursday show...

The July 1, 2004, estimates show that the share of Hispanics living in counties with large concentrations of Hispanics is slipping.

In the 1990s, most Hispanic immigrants came to the USA through five "gateways": California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Florida. "Now, you're just as likely to go to Iowa, South Carolina or Tennessee," ...

The spreading out of Hispanics challenges the communities they settle in and Hispanics themselves. Schools and local governments often are not equipped to deal with Spanish speakers.

Hispanics make up at least 5% of the population in 28 states, up from 16 in 1990, Frey says.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Congressional Scorecard

For whatever this is worth...

Late last month, a broad coalition of primarily Hispanic policy and civil rights organizations released their congressional scorecard for the 108th Congress.

According to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s (NHLA) press statement, votes on issues of importance to the Hispanic community improved from previous years with 40 percent of senators and representatives receiving a score of 90 percent or higher. However, 30 percent of legislators received a score below 20 percent. The coalition based scores on votes concerning the nation’s education system, the economy and job development, health care, tax relief for working class families, immigration, and civil rights.

Votes are selected by consensus but not necessarily unanimity among the coalition’s 40 members.

I'll save you the trouble of reading the report and tell you that Democrats get high scores (many of them 100%) and Republicans get low scores. This is further proof that so-called Latino leaders are out of touch.

Luisel Peña

Incredibly inspiring story:

A 23-year-old Hialeah man has moved from a local community college to Yale in just three years after leaving Cuba.

U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela?

It could happen:

The United States is considering punishing Venezuela with sanctions for breaking off work with U.S. anti-drug agents in the world's top cocaine-exporting region, the State Department said on Monday.

In a new blow to fraying ties between the United States and a key oil supplier, President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he had suspended cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration because it was unnecessary and accused the U.S. agency of spying on his government.

"The fears are baseless," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "I think it's pretty clear to us that the motivation for this is not the accusation itself ... The motivation is an effort to detract from the government's increasingly deficient record of cooperation."

Chavez said Venezuela would continue to work with international organizations to combat drug trafficking.

Monday, August 08, 2005

TeleSur

Read about the new 24-hour propoganda vehicle that the Perfect Latin American Idiots have concocted:

Witness Telesur, the brainchild of Cuban communist Fidel Castro and his ideological spawn Hugo Chávez. They say that it was created to both compete with foreign media conglomerates and offer a side of the news that is uniquely Latino. Independent, they say, from any voice but that of the people. The truth, however, is far from their propaganda platforms. Telesur is being funded by the leftist governments in Uruguay, Argentina, and Cuba, with Venezuela alone controlling 51% of the company. It will be housed in Caracas at the headquarters of Venezuela state media, where Chávez regularly opines for hours on end about impending imperialist invasion to the delight of only 2% of the Venezuelan public.

Minority Entrepreneurship

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

According to preliminary estimates from the most recent "Survey of Business Owners," which is released every five years, the number of black-owned businesses grew by 45% between 1997 and 2002. Over the same period, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses jumped 31%; Asian-owned businesses rose by 24%; and women-owned businesses were up by 20%. By contrast, the total number of business in the U.S. grew by 10%.

While minority-owned concerns still make up a relatively small portion of the total and lag white-owned companies in revenue, progress is being made on both fronts. Between 1997 and 2002, minority proprietors increased their share of the nation's 23 million businesses to 18% from 15%. Black entrepreneurs saw a 30% increase in receipts, versus 22% overall.

This is a good start, but there's a long way to go.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Immigration at a Glance

From the Miami Herald:

• At least 6.3 million unauthorized workers were employed in March 2004, composing 4.3 percent of the civilian labor force.

• While 3 percent of them were employed in agriculture, 33 percent had jobs in service industries, 16 percent in construction and extractive occupations and 17 percent in production, installation and repair.

• In recent years, some 700,000 unauthorized migrants have arrived annually, compared with about 610,000 legal immigrants.

• The unauthorized population now is 11 million.

Source: Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics, Pew Hispanic Center, http://pewhispanic.org/

Supreme Court Speculation

Since Chief Justice William Renquist went into the hospital again this past week, specualation about a possible replacement has picked up again:

Possible Hispanic candidates who have been mentioned include: Chief Judge Danny Boggs, a Cuba native, of the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero III and attorney Miguel Estrada. In Bush's first term, Democrats and liberal Latino groups thwarted Estrada's nomination to the appeals court for the District of Columbia.

Hoping Bush would name a Hispanic to the court, the Hispanic National Bar Association delivered a list of eight other candidates to the White House counsel's office in June. On that list: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; appeals court judges Jose Alberto Cabranes, Julio Fuentes, Emilio Garza and Sonia Sotomayor, district court judges Victor Marrero and Federico Moreno and California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Illegal Aliens in Suburbia

Farmingville, New York has become the epicenter of a struggle between illegal immigrants and suburban residents who are unhappy about the increased number of aliens coming into their communities.

Castro Jailing Dissidents Again

From the Miami Herald:

Once again, Cuba is detaining dissidents and charging them with crimes that don't exist in any free country on Earth.

Some might tire of hearing the same old news, as if jailing people for peacefully criticizing an abusive government is normal. We tire of the dictator who continues to violate the human rights of Cubans and yet is courted like a rock star in parts of this region.

Gutierrez to Central America

From Yahoo! News:

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will lead a trade mission to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in October, showing off opportunities to U.S. companies following approval of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The trade trip, announced Thursday, will be the first to the region after last week's congressional passage of the politically contentious CAFTA.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Anti-Semitism in Chávez's Venezuela

From the Weekly Standard:

Hostility to Jews has become one of the hallmarks of the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez, the radical populist who became president in 1999, and of Chavismo, the neo-fascist ideology named for him. In January, the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released a "Report on Global Anti-Semitism." The report documents how openly anti-Semitic the Venezuelan government now is. Besides the raid on the Jewish school, it noted that "President Chávez cautioned citizens against following the lead of Jewish citizens in the effort to overturn his referendum victory. Anti-Semitic leaflets also were available to the public in an Interior and Justice Ministry office waiting room."

The Case of Luis Diaz

After 26 years in a maximum security prison, DNA evidence proves that Luis Diaz was not the perpetrator of a series of rapes in the late 70s. Amazing!

Citizen Soldiers

From CNS News:

One hundred sixty-six soldiers serving overseas in the U.S. military recently became citizens as the result of 2003 legislation allowing naturalization ceremonies to occur outside the U.S.

President Bush signed the National Defenses Authorization Act (NDAA) on Nov. 23, 2003 after having issued an executive order in 2002 that expedited the citizenship process for servicemembers.

Since passage of the NDAA, 730 American soldiers from nearly every country have been granted citizenship while serving overseas; 374 were sworn in while stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and the Korean Peninsula.

Spanish-language Radio

From the Mercury News:

English is still the language of choice for most of the nation's nearly 14,000 radio stations, but a booming Hispanic population is pushing dramatic change: Spanish-language radio is at an all-time high, with more than 678 stations across the country, according to Arbitron Inc.

"That number could double in two years," said Mike Henry, a Denver-based radio consultant.

In 2000, the U.S. census counted 35.6 million Hispanics and that number has grown to 41.3 million. Estimates of Hispanic purchasing power now top $630 billion, up nearly threefold from $233 billion in 1990, and it's expected to reach $926 billion in 2007, according to Denver marketing firm Heinrich Hispanidad.

"When the population is over 40 million, people take notice, including advertisers and broadcasters," said Alfredo Alonso, a Clear Channel official hired to convert 20 to 25 of its 1,200 English-language radio stations to Spanish formats.

Spanish-language radio is no longer about mom-and-pop stations that operated for years on the fringes of the AM dial. Hurban has a growing appeal for broadcasters and syndicated shows dominate mornings and afternoon drives in certain markets, many of them drawing the 18- to 34-year-old crowd coveted by advertisers.

Where Will Illegal Immigrants Retire?

From the New York Times:

In recent decades, millions of working-age Mexicans have entered the United States. Most of them have come illegally, taking jobs on the bottom rungs of the American labor market.

While much of the attention remains on the persistent inflow of illegal workers, a new question is beginning to worry some analysts and policy makers on both sides of the border: What will happen when the 10 million Mexicans living in the United States become too old to work? Will they retire in the United States or will they return to Mexico?

As they age, the choices these old-timers make could fray the social fabric on both sides of the border.

Mexico is not prepared to receive them back. With a rapidly aging population living in Mexico and virtually no public system of social security or health insurance, Mexico could hardly cope with millions of returning immigrants who spent their working lives in the United States...

But the United States is also unprepared to deal with millions of poor, aging immigrants, eking out a living without recourse to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or most other forms of federal assistance.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

40 Million by 2025

According to a recent study, by 2025, the number of Spanish-speaking Latinos in the United States will reach 40.2 million, up from 27.8 million today.

Manuel Miranda

Manuel Miranda, former aide to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, is giving us a fascinating look at the inner workings of the judicial nomination process.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Democracy and Prosperity in Latin America

Carlos Alberto Montaner (again):

How do we ensure that the happy combination of market and democracy will eventually produce in Latin America the same fruit that it has produced in countries such as Holland, Denmark, Ireland and even Spain and Portugal?

The answer may lie in the Chilean experience, or the Spanish experience after Franco's death. It all begins with forging a clear consensus within the largest segment of the sensible ruling class, to the right and left of the political span.

That consensus involves an agreement based on the preservation of the four basic pillars of the system, just as they exist in the 20 most successful nations on the planet:

• Respect for the rule of law (which implies the end of impunity).

• Democracy as a method to make collective decisions (that cannot violate individual rights).

• Private property and market (instead of statism and planning).

• An opening to the exterior, for the purpose of interrelating decisively with the First World in the fields of finance, technology and trade.

Any society that firmly sets its course in that direction for a prolonged period of time will arrive at a safe port. The problem is not in the model; it's in the way it is applied.

Anti-Bush Protests in Argentina

Dean Saterlee is reporting from Buenos Aires that protests against President Bush have begun in Argentina in anticipation of the Summit of the Americas scheduled for Mar de Plata in November.

What If CAFTA Had Not Passed

Rich Karlgaard of Forbes.com:

This week our dunce's cap gets passed to Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives. In coming out against the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which passed the House this week, Pelosi made the familiar (and disingenuous) left-wing case: CAFTA, written by greedy capitalists, fails to include protections for labor and the environment. Otherwise she'd have voted for it.

Yeah, right. Over John Sweeney's dead body you would. If Pelosi and her "petulant progressives" had their way on CAFTA, here is what would have happened:

— No American job would be saved. Low-value jobs are doomed to extinction anyway, mostly from technology automation.

— Poor Central Americans would be hurt. The World Bank estimates that CAFTA will create 300,000 new jobs in shoes, textiles and apparel.

— Honduras and Guatemala, whose legislatures voted overwhelmingly for CAFTA, would have to explain to voters why America stiffed them.

Support for free trade around the world would have been dealt a severe blow if the mightiest economic power had rejected it. Free trade has been an engine of prosperity and peace since World War II. To abandon it now would make the world a poorer, more dangerous place.

Chavez's Subsidies for Castro

According to Carlos Alberto Montaner, Venezuela's subsidies to Cuba amount to between $4 and $5 million a day. Wow!

In Defense of "Sweatshops"

Benjamin Powell and David Skarbek:

The apparel industry, which is often accused of unsafe working conditions and poor wages, actually pays its foreign workers well enough for them to rise above the poverty in their countries. While more than half of the population in most of the countries we studied lived on less than $2 per day, in 90 percent of the countries, working a 10-hour day in the apparel industry would lift a worker above - often far above - that standard. For example, in Honduras, the site of the infamous Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal, the average apparel worker earns $13.10 per day, yet 44 percent of the country's population lives on less than $2 per day.

In 9 of the 11 countries we surveyed, the average reported sweatshop wages equaled or exceeded average incomes and in some cases by a large margin. In Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras, the average wage paid by a firm accused of being a sweatshop is more than double the average income in that country's economy.

Our findings should not be interpreted to mean that sweatshop jobs in the third world are ideal by US standards. The point is, they are located in developing countries where these jobs are providing a higher wage than other work.

EU Banana Tariffs Illegal

From Yahoo! News:

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that a new European Union tariff on imported bananas is illegal, siding with nine Latin American countries who said Brussels' proposal would seriously limit their ability to export the fruit.

A WTO arbitration body backed a claim by the Latin American countries — including Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela — who said the proposed EU tariff of 230 euros ($279) per ton would have a "devastating effect" on the development of their economies.

The report concluded that new tariff "would not result in at least maintaining total market access" for Latin American exporters and queried Brussels' methodology for arriving at the tariff figure. It did not suggest a new figure.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Immigrants and English

It's unfortunate that learning English is no longer seen as imperative. There are many well-intentioned folks out there trying to make it easier for immigrants to navigate U.S. society without having to master the English language, but there are many negative consequences to that kind of approach. If accomodations have to be made for non-English speakers, there must also be an emphasis on the importance of learning the predominant language of the country.

Los Mets

Good article in the New York Times Magazine about the Latinization of baseball and how my New York Mets and General Manager Omar Minaya are taking advantage of it:

That Latin America produces more than its fair share of major leaguers is hardly news. But almost anyone who watched the All-Star Game earlier this month had to have been surprised at just how outsized a role Latinos, and Dominicans in particular, have come to play in professional baseball. A record 24 of the 60 players originally selected were Latin American. Half of them were Dominican. (Venezuela was second among Latin-American countries with five.) A quarter of all major-league players are now Latin American, and that number is virtually guaranteed to grow: almost half of all minor leaguers are Latino.

The latinization of baseball has even reached the little leagues, and apparently it isn't welcomed by all:

An umpire who ordered a Little League baseball team to stop speaking Spanish during a game this week was barred from officiating any more games this year, league officials said on Friday.

The incident occurred when a bilingual assistant coach shouted out instructions in Spanish to the team’s 14-year-old pitcher and catcher, who are immigrants from the Dominican Republic and speak little English, the Eagle-Tribune newspaper reported.

A Decline in Mexican Immigration?

Matthew Dowd in the New York Times:

WITH nearly six million Mexicans living illegally in the United States, some Americans, particularly those in border states, are greatly worried about the costs of illegal immigration and have demanded that more be done to stem it. Modern-day "minutemen" patrol the border. Voters pass measures limiting the rights of illegal immigrants, and senators debate legislation to establish guest-worker programs. Certain elected officials and pundits focus on the perils of illegal immigration to score political points.

But chances are that there will be a substantial decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico in the next 20 years, and it won't be because of civilian border patrols, laws being passed, pronouncements by politicians, or as some would like, "building a wall on the border." Instead, the cause will be demographic trends within Mexico itself, trends that have been largely ignored in the debate over immigration...

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study highlights some of the change in immigration to the United States from the south. Pew predicts that the share of first-generation immigrants in the total Hispanic population in the United States will drop from about 40 percent in 2000 to closer to a third by 2020. Thus first-generation immigrants will decline by almost 20 percent as a share of the total Hispanic population in the United States.

If the trend continues, it could be that we've already seen the high-water mark of illegal Mexican immigration - put simply, the issue may be resolving itself.

For a rebuttal, read Mark Krikorian.

Chávez Hates CAFTA

If Chávez hates CAFTA, then it must be good:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez criticized a trade agreement that eliminates barriers between the United States and Central American countries, saying Sunday it is a misguided deal that will harm the region's small economies...

The trade deal eliminates barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Chávez says that is the wrong strategy for small countries with a history of domination by the United States.

"It would harm the economies and societies much more in our sister Central America," Chávez said during his weekly television and radio show.

Of course, Chavez doesn't know what he's talking about, but other people do:

"The biggest winners from the passage of CAFTA will be the people of Central America. This will solidify the tremendous gains they have made in economic and political reforms," said Dan Griswold, head of trade studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.