Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Limited" Immigration

While Dr. D was reading the Emma Lazarus poem, "The New Colossus," I remembered my middle school days. For one reason or another, I had a free period to do whatever I wanted. Instead of playing outside, I found myself in the school library trying to look up the history of the Statue of Liberty. Liberty...what a great word. I find it interesting (and possibly ironic?) that the Statue of Liberty was commissioned by a few noted Frenchmen to celebrate the centennial of America's independence. A way, if you will, to celebrate America's pursuit for "human liberty." That the Lady Liberty was and still is the iconic symbol for immigrants to travel to America where there was a melting pot of ideas and innovation. Where is that melting pot now? In a January 9th, 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled, "How U.S. Immigration Evolved As the Nation Grew and Changed," the author, Cynthia Crossen notes that the issue of immigation and its concerns that are prevalent even today (i.e. a surplus of poor unskilled workers taking jobs from today's Americans) were also present in the early 20th century. So, this issue of immigration, while seemingly new, has actually been a concern for more than 80 years. Questions as to whom should we allow? Are there exemptions if the individuals seeking entrance into the US from "designated" countries? Who defines all of this? Even now, this past fall the Department of Homeland Securitty (DHS) has sought to revamp the questions on the U.S. Citizenship test. Whether or not those questions will be tougher or easier is up for debate, though most signs point to a toughening of questions. Given all the above, there seems to be a tension between accepting people seeking human liberty and those undermining American job security. What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 27, 2006

When the United States is in bed with tyrants

The United States finds itself in an unusual position, or perhaps not. In a recent New York Times article, "Rights Groups Fault U.S. Vote in U.N. on Gays" (January 7, 2006), the United States has backed a measure that was introduced by Iran to prevent two gay rights groups a voice at the United Nations. Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe also sided with Iran and the United States.
On the one hand, we condemn these countries for their human rights abuses, yet, when it suits our "morality" or perceived morality, we agree with them. So what is the lesson here? Are gays inhuman? Do they not deserve a voice in the United Nations?
Ironically, the United States grants "persecuted homosexuals" asylum under the category of "membership in a particular social group", yet, homosexuals in the United States are treated as second class citizens. Granted, they might not be tortured or killed by the U.S., government, but they can't serve in their military (at least as openly gay soldiers), they cannot get married in most states, they do not have protection from discrimination in employment, housing or many of the other day-to-day things that hetersexuals take for granted.

The United States is supposed to be the leader of the "free world". Aren't we supposed to be setting an example of civil and political rights? By continually ignoring and deliberately undermining the rights of a minority -- homosexuals -- the United States is not only undermining the human dignity of a group of people, but it is undermining the human dignity of a nation.

Internally Displaced Peoples

It's so easy to forget about millions of people who continue to live in squalled, life-threatening conditions, far from their homes: the "Internally displaced peoples". As Donald Steinberg in his Christian Science Monitor article (URL link below) alerts us, these are the world's lost people - they are "neither refugees nor citizens". What do we do with them? How do we help them? The recent plight of thousands of children in Northern Uganda fleeing the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group has made headlines, but still, night after night the "night commuters" seek shelter in bus depots, schools and other public buildings, just to avoid adbuction. Who should be taking care of this? What should be done?
Dr. D.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why Are Immigrants so Hated?

The recent brutal beating of a 13-year old Liberian boy in Philadelphia sent chills through the immigrant community. The boy was "punched in the mouth and then stomped on by a group of youths until his jaw was broken and he had bleeding on the brain". See:

This is not an isolated event, especially since 9-11. Many immigrant attacks have been on immigrants mainly from Muslim populations. Can we just brush this off as a consequence of fears arising from the 9-11 attacks, or is there something deeper, more foreboding about these attacks?