Sunday, August 19, 2012

Interview with Mark Krikorian on America's immigration DREAM

In this  interview with Joseph Cotto, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, lays out some of the important issues and explains why the Libertarian movement has no part in a solution

Joseph F. Cotto: Illegal immigration is a political lightning rod. What would you say is the most effective manner of handling it?

Mark Krikorian: It's a "lightning rod" only because politicians are afraid of being called names. The public abhors illegal immigration and a firm stance against it is popular. But politicians taking such a stance also need to understand that strident, fringe-y rhetoric is going to turn off people, as it should. So a hawkish stand on immigration enforcement, but delivered in a tone that's not scary and is combined with a welcoming outreach to legal immigrants, is the way to go.

Cotto: Despite the federal government's numerous attempts to stimulate the economy, America remains caught within the Great Recession's clutches. Do you believe that our current immigration policy is partly to blame for this?

Krikorian: There are a lot of reasons for the economic doldrums we're in. Whatever our immigration policy, the business cycle won't go away. But at a time when more than 22 million Americans are unemployed or involuntarily underemployed, the idea that we are continuing to import 100,000 *legal* foreign workers each month is absurd. Curbing immigration wouldn't make the Great Recession go away, but it would soften the blow for large numbers of people, especially the less-skilled and young workers just entering the job market.

Cotto: What role does illegal immigration play in our national security?

Krikorian: Immigration control needs to be a central feature of a modern nation's approach to security. While we will always face the conventional kinds of military threats, the terrorist threat to our homeland (which can come not just from non-state groups like al Qaeda but also states like Iran or North Korea) is a danger we will have to face for the indefinite future. And terrorists can't attack our territory if they can't get here. This is not to say that we need only security-related immigration measures, such as better watch-lists or background checks.

A look at the records of the dozens of terrorists who have been active in the U.S. shows that even ordinary immigration enforcement would have stopped many of them. For instance, not one of the 19 9/11 hijackers should have been granted a visa on normal grounds — they all had profiles that almost screamed "future illegal alien," meaning that young, unattached men from the Third World, without money and without homes or other encumbrances at home, are very likely to just stay after their period of stay in the U.S. expires. In another example, three of the Ft. Dix plotters were illegal aliens who had been stopped by police dozens of times for traffic and other offences, and yet no one ever checked their immigration status.

Cotto: Many political forecasters are saying that the future of the American center-right belongs to libertarians, specifically those of the Ron Paul variety. Do you share this view? Regardless, from your perspective, would U.S. immigration policy fare well under strong libertarian influence?

Krikorian: The Center for Immigration Studies has no involvement in electoral politics, but personally, I think libertarianism is an infantile disorder, an "ideology" in the worst, anti-Burkean sense of the word. That is not to say that many Americans who call themselves "libertarians" share that disorder — I think the appeal of the label comes from the Republican Party's pathetic big-government record over the past couple of decades. Despite the many patriotic Americans who call themselves "libertarians" as a kind of protest, the ideology of libertarianISM is a post-American creed that rejects national borders and nationhood itself. Obviously, this has immigration consequences, namely that libertarianISM is inseparable from open borders.

Cotto: How did you came to be such a prominent voice in America's immigration debate? Tell us a bit about your life and career.

Krikorian: Though I was born here, as were my parents, I grew up in an immigrant-heavy Armenian-American environment and didn't speak English until I started kindergarten — it wasn't until high school that I realized there were old people who spoke without accents. I went to Georgetown as an undergraduate and got my master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which is affiliated with Tufts.

I also spent two years in then-Soviet Armenia as a student. I think that combination of immigrant experience and international experience means I don't have anything to prove — and it's a sense of ethnic inadequacy, if there is such a term, that impels a number of prominent people to support amnesty and open borders — people like Jeb Bush, who feels inadequate that he doesn't have any recent immigrant background, or former senator and cabinet secretary Spencer Abraham, whose grandparents immigrated from Lebanon but who feels guilty that he has no meaningful connection to his immigrant heritage and so advocates for open borders as a way to make up for that.

As for how I became a prominent voice on immigration — I have no idea. I guess there wasn't much competition on the pro-control/lower-numbers side of the issue, so even someone like me, who has a face made for radio, was able to get attention!


Let us enforce our law on immigration now, Utah argues

State says U.S. Supreme Court ruling is on its side, but feds disagree

The Utah Attorney General’s Office urged a federal judge Friday to forgo a hearing on the state’s enforcement-only immigration law and, instead, simply put it into effect immediately.

The 15-page brief, written by Barry Lawrence, Philip Lott and Timothy Evans, argued the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s enforcement-only law, SB1070, gave Utah’s version plenty of room to exist without violating the U.S. Constitution.

"That decision," the brief said, "reflects that the state of Utah acted prudently when it rejected some of the Arizona provisions and reworked others."

Utah’s law, HB497, took hold for about 12 hours before a temporary restraining order was granted by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups in May 2011.

Waddoups had heard arguments on the case but said he didn’t want to rule on Utah’s law until the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision on Arizona’s.

On June 25, a majority of the high court tossed out several provisions of the Arizona law that weren’t a part of Utah’s HB497.

Those pieces included making it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek employment or fail to carry proper documents as proof of a right to be in the state. The court also forbid allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.

But the justices upheld SB1070’s requirement that police check legal status upon any lawful stop.

In their brief, Utah’s lawyers said the portion of HB497 that makes it different from SB1070 is where it instructs police that they "shall request verification of the citizenship or the immigration status of the person, except as allowed if the person is arrested for an alleged offense that is a class A misdemeanor or a felony."

"The focus of the Arizona law is for law enforcement officials to make an initial status determination," the attorneys wrote. "Whereas, in Utah, law enforcement is simply required to identify the individual and leave all status determinations up to the federal government."

U.S. Justice Department lawyers, in their brief, acknowledged the verification provision in HB497 "does not require immediate pre-emption."

But they also said they would challenge that part if the "scope of enforcement by the state, or its interpretation by state courts, interferes with the administration of federal immigration laws."

Instead, the federal attorneys leveled much of their firepower at Utah’s warrantless arrest provision and the language making it a felony to induce an illegal immigrant to Utah. They argued Utah’s law "suffers from the same flaws" identified by the Supreme Court in Arizona’s statute, including granting police "authority to effect warrantless arrest based on nothing more than possible removability."

And the lawyers said the warrantless arrest provision in HB497 is misdirected when it allows an arrest absent any request, instruction or approval from the federal government.

"Neither a federal order of removal nor an aggravated felony charge functions as a request from the federal government to have an alien arrested," the Justice Department wrote in its July brief.

The federal government joined the initial lawsuit against Utah by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the National Immigration Law Center — both of which were attempting to stop HB497 from taking effect.


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