Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fairness departs

I received the following email message not long ago. I reproduce it here without editing. This man had read of Monica on this site. His story, his witness relates to the complicated and unfair reality facing millions who have called this country "home" for decades. If we ever reach the point where we completely dismiss the human element in our decision making as a people, we will step across a line onto the wrong side of the ledger of justice. As I read this man's words, I fear we are perilously close to taking just such a step in the wrong direction. God forbid that we do so.

In December 11th my girlfriend was arrested at her house as a result of a final order of deportation that she had from October 24, 1986 when she was 5 years old.

Back in 1986 she and her mom were arrested after crossing the border however, they were released and scheduled to appear in a court in Harlingen Texas, but they never showed up to the hearing because they moved to New York. That was back in October 1986, the court gave them a period of 4 months to leave voluntarily but of course they did not leave.

Her father, who was here before them, became a permanent resident and in 1993 tried to adjust her status but the process got to a point where it stopped. From that time she got an I130 approved and an I212 granted too.

Years passed and she never left or retry to adjust her status until 2003-04 when she hired an attorney. He filled a motion to reopen the case that was denied, in fact he did it three times and they were all denied. The person in charge of the case is the district counsel in Harlingen Mike Ochoa.

The last time she tried to do something was around 2005-06 as she was trying to use her father who became a US CITIZEN in 1996 to adjust her status. The case was never reopened.

In December 11th a couple of ICE officers got to her house around 6:30 am and arrested her. She was taken to a detention center in Pompano Beach Fl and a week later was transferred to the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall Texas.

At this point we had been talking to a countless number of immigration attorneys and they all said that that is a difficult and almost impossible case. Moreover, some of them charge great amounts of money that neither I nor her family can afford.

She is suffering in that so-called detention center the people that work there are not even ICE official it is a private company GEO who is in charge of the detainees they made them sweep and mop the floors sometimes and give these people who are civil detainees who have not committed any crime a really hard time. In a country that advocates human rights they are violated everyday.

All the people who love her want her OUT OF THAT PLACE as soon as possible. Her father is a naturalized citizen, her brother is an American citizen and he is about to graduate as a marine. He is going to serve the country that allows her sister to get hurt and mistreated Her youngest sister is also an American citizen and her oldest sister a permanent resident. In other words, she is the only one left out.

she graduated from high school in 1999; she got a real state license. Since 1999 she has been paying her taxes annually, she has stocks. She even went to college for a semester, with a hold of course, and had a 4.0 G.P.A. I have official transcripts. I have excellent letters of recommendation from her employers.

She has built a good credit; she has a mortgage under her name and paid another in the past. She speaks perfectly English and Spanish and some French. And of course she has a clean criminal record.

She has tried to success. lawyers have said that the best thing to do is to wait for her to get deported that at this point it the only thing they suggest because the court in Texas are really difficult and with this case being that long (since 1986) it was going to be even harder.

The reason she is detained is that she has a FINAL DEPORTATION ORDER from 1986, I know most laws are really hard to immigrants especially to those with deportation orders but what I think it is unfair is that she is being punished with a "crime" that she committed when she was 5 years old and was not in control of her life. She is a victim of the circumstances.

Why if her whole family is American she has to go to Colombia where she has never been since she came here.

I also know that this might not be an argument in front o a judge I guess they go by laws and not for reason and feelings. My biggest desire is to see her out that JAIL.

She is such a good person and do not deserve to be there a second. She is more American than anyone that has been born in States but the only thing is there is not paper that says that.




Cindy said...

I think most Americans need to hear more stories like this. Most people don't realize how hard it is to immigrate legally. I work with scientists who come here legally and it is very expensive and time consuming (about $20,000 to get a green card). Also I hear many stories about how uncooperative US Embassy officials in other countries are (for example they have told applicants that if they call back one more time to ask questions, they will put their names on the "problem list")

c hand said...

...and yet these people still want to come to America. Who wants to immigrate into one of these left wing countries? The PRI(the democrat or progressive party) ruled Mexico for 70 years until Vicente Fox won election. But left wing politics still dominate. The problem with immigration is the NUMBER of immigrants. And the numbers are so large because the USA is so good.

Justin said...


Would you agree to getting rid of government benefits to non citizens if they could come back and forth across the border and work toward citizenship?

There are only two problems I have with unrestricted immigration.

1. There are communicable diseases, such as smallpox, that we are no longer vaccinated for, that can come in via an infected person from another country. This is not fair to those who had no reason to be vaccinated.

2. While most immigrants just want to come here to work, many use government services immediately after coming here, as well as steal the SS#s of US citizens. Our country is well on its way to bankruptcy.

I heard a treasury department official say that by 2040, all tax revenue will be consumed by just the INTEREST of Medicare and Social Security. Which means no money for welfare. No money for CDM. No college grants. No transportation money. Etc.

The reality is we can't afford the amount of spending at present, much less the amount of spending that would occur with a group of people who are largely unskilled in the sense of being able to contribute in higher tax brackets.

I think we NEED migrant workers. Our economy would falter without it. But we can't afford the benefits we've given our own populace, much less the ones of millions of people who migrate to this country looking for citizenship.

Let the people in legally. Let them work for citizenship over a period of years. Get rid of monstrous federal programs that we cannot afford. If states would like to have those programs, then go for it.

We need them. But we also need to fix our looming financial crisis, and opening the federal pocketbooks to even more people will make things bad for EVERYONE.

Larry James said...

Jutin, I could be wrong, but I thought small pox was gone. I believe what you suggest about benefits ought to be part of a larger conversation about immigration reform. What I think to be terribly unjust is the manner in which we exploit immigrant labor and then feel justified in acts that basically are intended to "dispose" of the people. Of course, you and I have debated the facts before on issues like Medicare and SS. But yes, I think you are on the right track when it comes to providing a more reasonable plan for immigrants to be able to be in the US and work for a living legally. Of course, I also agree that identity theft should not be tolerated, but believe that it would not be such a problem if there were legal ways for immigrants to come, go and work. BTW--it is a fact that SS, as well as various parts of our tax system, would take a real hit if undocumented immigrants disappeared, but few mention/acknowledge that fact.

SeriousSummer said...

There have been no recorded cases of smallpox not just in Mexico, but in the entire world since 1978 when a smallpox virus infected a laboratory worker in 1978 in England. The last "wild" case of smallpox was recorded in 1977 in Somalia.

Smallpox was eliminated in Mexico in 1951.

The only governmental services for which undocumented immigrants are eligible are:

1. emergency medical services;
2. school for minors

Justin said...

Ok, then not small pox. How about tuberculosis. I know that's not eliminated.

The point still stands. We've gained control of diseases that have not been controlled in other countries, and having people come in through illegal channels (not to mention the incredible hardship they must endure to get here) put people's lives in danger.

But I don't have the ear of any politicians, so we continue with a broken system

Larry James said...

Justin, regarding the funds spent on immigrant children and health care, a sound argument can be made that 1) these expenditures are a wise investment in the future of these children and families and 2) that much of the cost for the same are in fact covered by the taxes these workers/consumers actually provide. Various studies indicate that the federal cost of providing services to immigrants is a net sum gain for the government. Some studies indicate that at the state and local levels there may be a net loss, but again the benefit to the community of labor and an educated and healthy population seems obvious.

The ER choice for health care is foolish--too costly for us all. Another argument for providing a more rational plan for immigrant health benefits, again in view of what they contribute to us all.

Karen said...

I can scarcely believe people can talk about America being on its way to bankruptcy without mentioning the ludicrous war in Iraq and tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens! To lay our financial problems at the feet of illegal immigrants is just absurd.

I'm sorry, but I just can't say it in a more moderate way. It blows my mind how people take one problem, in this case illegal immigration, and simplify it into a sweeping cause of something quite complex, in this case our scarey budget deficit. Remember when we had a budget surplus not too long ago? Remember how that changed?

SeriousSummer said...


Tuberculosis is, of course, no where near elimination in the United States.

Do you have any idea how little credence you can retain when you argue that illegal immigration is a danger to us because of uncontrolled diseases in Mexico that do not exist in the United States when you cite first a disease that no longer exists in Mexico and second a disease that is still widely existent in the United States?

I doubt anybody will continue to take you seriously if you persist in making obvious factual errors. Please, it takes only a few seconds to check your assertions on Google, for example.

If your facts are not correct, then it isn't worth someone's time to think about your arguments.

Anonymous said...

Illegal immigrants are taking American's jobs, they get the money from taxpayers and that is why our economy is going down!!! has anyone ever wonder who is going to cook and farm if we get rid of illegal immigrants? why it is never mentioned that "homeless" people are the ones taking advantage of the SS and even worse they are just burning that money smoking drugs, how come in the most powerful country of the world there is homeless people? are they too good to work in a restaurant or pick up fruits? it is true illegal immigrants shouldn't have come to USA in that way, however how did US get populated? oh yes, i remember Europeans went to the Native American's embassy and asked for visas to come over? they never entered is time to stop complaining about illegal immigration when our ancestors did the same. it is true that any person can't be allowed in but there are so many people overqualified that actually want to help America and we are telling these people that there is no room for them. in the other hand American are wasting money and time going to college to play sports,socialize and get an easy degree when what we need is more highly skilled people. just to remember that more than 80% of our biggest scientist and geniuses were not born here. Einstein,Richard Hamilton, Nicola Tesla just to name a few. and Justin do a research to find the names of the people that invented vaccines for all those conditions you have mentioned, you'll be surprise to know how they arrived in the US.

Anonymous said...

Karen - You used some great buzz words by dropping in the " tax cuts for the wealthiest". Let me ask you, what do you mean by this? I am a high wage earner who actually cares deeply about the issues raised here each and every day and I actually even put my money where my mouth is. However, I don't see the "tax cuts for the wealthiest" in my world. I am taxed at close to 40%. If taxes are raised on me, I will no longer employ 30 people because I will simply retire before I give our government more money to blow. The revenue raised from raising taxes on the "wealthiest" will not go to the poor. I am very tired of the constant hammering of people who are financially well off based on the belief that raising taxes even more than it is now will some how help with the issue of poverty. What will happen is when people like me - who uses alot of my money to help others - end up retiring rather than work to pay the government, places like CDM will end up with less contributions and none of the revenue raised from raising my taxes in CDM's pocket. Every time I read comments like yours, I wonder why people like me are always the target.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:49 am:

Could you elaborate? The nominal tax rate is rarely over 28%. After deductions, the actual precentage of taxes paid is rarely over 15-20% for all but the very wealthiest (over $250,000 per year). After Bush's cuts, even this top 5% of earners rarely pays moew than 25%. How did you get the figure of 40%? Is that including ALL taxes (property, sales, etc.)? Just curious where that number is coming from. It seems very high.

Larry James said...

FACT: CDM receives federal and state funds that come from tax payers to accomplish a lot of our work. The feds in essence "contract" with local groups like CDM to do the work and they hold us very accountable for outcomes and expenditures.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1221:

Thanks for asking. I called my accountant to make sure I have the right number. My overall tax rate for 2006 was 36% ( with self employment factored in) and my 2007 overall tax rate will approach 37% (with self employment factored in). So I don't want to hear how the "wealthiest are getting tax breaks" because that is nonsense.

Larry - the point I am trying to make but did not make very well is that the additional taxes raised from strapping it on people in my income bracket will more than likely never make it to CDM. I am a supporter of CDM and if increasing the taxes on people like me is the goal of others, then the amount I can give to others ( like CDM) is reduced. I want the Government to spend what they have wisely and not tax me to the point where I can't control to whom and how much I give. Is this too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

ANON 1221: I failed to answer the other part of your question so here goes: The tax rate I quoted is federal tax only and does not include property tax, sales tax, etc.

Karen said...

Anon 11:49 AM,

I consider myself a 'wealthy American.' And my father was a successful small business owner who continually struggled with and fought against higher taxes.

But are you suggesting that the Bush tax cuts have not contributed to the budget deficit, which I think is a very big threat to our economy and way of life? I am not an economist, so perhaps you can give me some new and illuminating information about this.

As to where you, Anon 11:49, fall among the 'wealthiest Americans', I have no idea whether I was referring to you. No one suggested raising your taxes, but I'd really like to see us get the budget deficit under control, whatever it takes. And I really don’t see how we can cut social programs like housing any more than we already have.

I don't want to deprive CDM of a donor by using 'buzz words' that offend that donor, and that seems to be hanging in the air here. However, it'd be great if we could allow people to speak their minds without threatening to take our marbles and go home.

And if I am wrong about the budget deficit, feel free to enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

Karen - i don't understand your last comment about taking my marbles and going home. i never said that and nothing you say will make me do that. The point is that the raising of taxes will impact people's abilty to give to places like CDM and you can rest assured the extra revenue from taxes is not going to be passed on to places like CDM. The way to fix the budget deficit is to control the spending... not raising taxes. raising taxes to generate more tax dollars has NOTHING to do with fixing the deficit if the government does not stop irresponsibly spending the money. More tax dollars equals more goverment spending, not less. to fix the deficit we need to cut spending on sweet heart projects of our congressmen and women; notice i did not say cut any dollars that go to social programs.

Justin said...

Just for the record, I strongly oppose the war in iraq, as well as all unjust wars, not just the ones republicans wage.

You're right, that is a major part of our government's spending, but the fact remains that we will be unable to continue to pay for the entitlements that we've all ready promised, in the near future, and definitely won't be able to afford more entitlements.

And the anonymous person is correct, tax cuts have actually brought in more revenue to the government, because that money is now being put back into the economy, rather than being sent straight to the government. It allows small business owners especially the means to hire new employees and expand their business. When business expands, more revenue comes into the government. Look at the nineteen sixties for example. JFK cut the top marginal rates down from over 90% to 70% and returns to the government INCREASED. However, this ended up starting a vicicous cycle, because even though goverment's coffers increased, they passed a ton of new welfare programs as well as financed a war with vietnam, and when the growth finally slowed, we got 1970s stagflation, which is where we're headed right now in a best case scenario. And I probably shouldn't have to tell anyone here that massive economic problems hurt the poor the worst.

karen said...


'i don't understand your last comment about taking my marbles and going home. i never said that and nothing you say will make me do that.' I evidently misinterpreted what you wrote, and I'm glad.

re: buzz words: Would you say that 'raising taxes' is a 'buzz phrase' from some points of view? Buzz words may be incendiary, but they are used on all 'sides.'

re: taxation and the budget deficit: you and all will probably always talk past each other on these issues, so I'm letting it lie.


'I strongly oppose the war in iraq, as well as all unjust wars...' Good for you.

' cuts have actually brought in more revenue to the government, because that money is now being put back into the economy, rather than being sent straight to the government.' Is this called 'trickle-down economics'?

'And I probably shouldn't have to tell anyone here that massive economic problems hurt the poor the worst.'


Justin said...

"Is this called supply side economics?"

Well, its actually called reality. ;)

"what hurts poor people most..."

We may just have to agree to disagree on that one. I say, the worse the economy is doing, the less affordable housing is for the poor. Sure, houses may be cheaper in an economic crisis, but real wages often lower, due to inflation, and/or employers cutting back... and we know the ones at the bottom of the ladder, the poor, get hit the hardest in that situation. It becomes harder to find a job if you are poor, harder to pay for food due to inflation, harder to find "affordable" housing (I'd really like to know who defines what is affordable? If I make 600 bucks a month, do I have the right to "affordable" housing, say 100 bucks a month rent.

I don't think there's any question about what the worst thing for the poor is, and you're right, it does include "affordable housing" but when the cause is irresponsible fiscal policies of those who are trying to help the poor, it seems a bit ironic.

Karen said...

You’re right that we’ll have to agree to disagree, and this will be my sign-off post.

I think that your ‘reality’ is, in fact, still just theory and that you may be out of touch with certain realities, but perhaps I’m wrong about this.

Our own mayor -- a Republican and a wealthy man -- said in a speech this week that, in Dallas, the public sector has typically deferred to the private. (He is a good man, by the way, and seems to be in touch with the realities of life in the big city because he makes it his business to find out.)

Take, for example, the problem of homelessness in Dallas. The role of non-profits and the faith community has been primary in caring for them because the city was not funded to do so. Yes, non-profits are supported in part by wealthy people who may be inclined to give more if they are keeping more of their money. But they don’t have to. And if a certain problem isn’t attractive to them, they don’t.

Hence, we have had a huge mess on our hands downtown in terms of homelessness, with a few groups -- like First Presbyterian Church and the Stewpot -- doing most of the heaving lifting. Many people have suffered -- the people who are homeless, those who love and try to aid them, the business owners, the city’s revitalization efforts, the police, who should not have to be responsible for herding them around.

Now this is changing. For one, we currently have a mayor and city council who seem to be responsive to the voices of advocates for poor and homeless people. But, even more critically, the PUBLIC sector finally voted to fund the new Homeless Assistance Center, which, while it won’t be a panacea, will make an enormous difference downtown. And, yes, the private sector has had a vital hand in funding and supporting it, too. But, without the public -- read city government -- vote of a bond for $23+million, it wouldn’t be happening, and we’d go on arresting homeless people and caring [so-called] for them in the MOST expensive way -- through emergency services: police, jail, Parkland, etc. The taxpayers pay for this, too, you know. (Read the Business Case for Ending Homelessness, January 18, on this blog.)

So please don’t try to tell me that all it takes is letting rich people keep more of their money to solve big social problems, because this is simply not the case. It takes a collaboration between government, business, the faith community, non-profits, and whoever else can pitch in. But government’s role is major, like it or not.

Justin said...

Karen, I hope this wasn't really your sign off post, cause I'd love for you to see my response.

I think we may be talking past each other. I'm not saying tax cuts are a panacea, I'm saying that tax cuts only initially cause a deficit, and that they spur economic growth, and as well, bring in more revenue to the government, which can be spent by the government. You don't have to punish the wealthy for being wealthy to help the poor.

Point number two is that an economic downturn along the lines of the late 70s or even the 30s is in our future, if federal spending is not cut back. We HAVE to cut things, because we're borrowing from China to finance the war and to finance our ever increasing safety net, which ends up funding everyone and their mom. These expenditures, medicare and social security, will take up the entire federal budget soon, and eventually we'll only be able to pay interest. The only way to continue to meet what the government has promised is to borrow more, or print money. Borrowing more money just makes it worse (and eventually, we won't be able to borrow) and printing money causes inflation, so what temporary help may be given to old people, retirees, disabled, etc will be wiped out by inflation.

That's why I'm saying, if you really want to help the poor, the best way to do it is to make sure the economy stays strong... because government doesn't make money, it takes money, and if money isn't being made by the private sector that many of you love to hate, then government doesn't have the money to fund its programs. And beyond that, if the government spends money that it doesn't have, like it has ever since, well, FDR, then it eventually will go out of business and there will be chaos and NO safety net.

You cannot argue that affordable housing is more important than a strong, diversified economy, in helping the poor. Unless you make housing free, it will always be unaffordable for some... and the worse off the economy is, the worse it is for the poor, not only because they have more trouble getting work, but because the federal government either can't afford to fund organizations and programs that help them, or becuase they'll print money to make good on their promises, and massive inflation will harm the poor even more.

I guess its kinda the law of unintended consequences.