Friday, April 20, 2007

US eyes fraud in religious visa programs

The USCIS is investigating churches to clamp down on fraud in the visa program. It wants to tighten the regulations for religious worker visas after it discovered that one third of the applications were fraudulent. The review found that many of the churches that were supposed to be sponsoring the immigrants did not exist.
This incident exemplifies the need for the change in immigration laws. If people are going to use churches and religious organizations in order to bend the rules, something is definitely wrong and every area must be inspected. While the USCIS's action might help this problem, more needs to be addressed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Bans Partial-Birth Abortions

For the first time since 1973, when the Court established a woman’s right to an abortion, the Court justices have no banned partial-birth abortion. Religious zealots and far right conservatives are pleased with the bill, saying that it upholds the ‘sanctity of life’. To be clear the law bans a method of ending a pregnancy, rather than limiting when an abortion can be performed.
Pro-life argues that an embryo is a human being, thus entitled to protection, from the moment of conception and has the right to life. Therefore, abortion is murder. They say if the woman’s life is not in jeopardy, then abortion is wrong. Pro-life also argues that men pressure women into getting abortions, which seems to suggest that women aren’t offered many alternatives to abortion.
Pro-choice, however, argues that a woman’s right to control her pregnancy outweighs any right of the embryo or fetus. Pro-choice does not see the embryo as having the rights of a person. Pro-choice sees abortion as a private matter that the government should not have a hand in. Roe v. Wade (1973) held this belief.
This is a very controversial subject. Pro-life says that an embryo is a human being, but at what point is the fetus evolved enough to be considered a person. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that its 3 months. So one day before that it is not a person? And one day after that it is? There are many other arguments and concerns as well.
Perhaps the most famous is the bodily rights argument by Judith Jarvis Thomson. In A Defense of Abortion, Thomson argues that abortion is sometimes permissible even if the fetus has a right to life. Thomson gives her audience the hypothetical. Perhaps, you wake up next to a famous violinist. The violinist is unconscious with a kidney ailment. You happen to have the right blood type to help, so the Society of Music Lovers kidnaps you and plugged your circulatory system into his so that your kidneys can filter and work for the violinist. If you disconnect him, then he will die, but in nine months he will recover. Thomson believes you may unplug yourself from the violinist even though he will die. This right to life does not entail the right to use another person’s body, and so in disconnecting the violinist you do not violate his right to life but merely deprive him of the use of your body, something which he has no right to use.
But I digress. This new Court decision has the potential to open up the floodgates for abortion restrictions. This could hinder women’s rights and effectively eliminate—or at least narrow—women’s right to choose. I wonder what you think.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Slaking a Thirst for Justice

During the 1970 in Chile and Argentina there was a military coup that place an authoritarian dictatorship in charge of the nations. Under their rule all individuals seen as possible threats to their power were detained, tortured, and killed. Today the families of the detained peoples want justice for the human rights violations inflicted on their family members. Many argue for moving on rather than re-opening old wounds. Others reply that without justice there can be no healing and no guarantee of the rule of law. What do you think? Should those crimes committed in the past, and those who committed the atrocities be brought to justice 30 years later? I concur with what the article later goes on to say. “The rise of international human-rights law has helped those who argue that in cases involving the worst crimes justice must never be sacrificed to peace. Where conflict continues that principle may be hard to apply. Its proponents say justice is essential not just as an end in itself but to deter future tyrants. Until recently, most could expect to get off scot-free. Increasingly, other countries may follow the road pioneered by Chile and Argentina.”

Tradgey at Virginia Tech

At about 7:15am today (4/16/07), a shooting occurred at Virginia Tech. Media reported, first, that at least one student had been killed, and then the number quickly grew. As of now, 7:18pm, there are at least 30 some deaths and many injured. Before the gunman was detained he killed himself. This is the most damage from a school shooting ever. President Bush has made statements on the matter, and groups like the ATF are pulling all available resources to find out what happened.
This tragedy made me think. I thought of the student’s at VT and how the campus is dealing with the problems. Then I thought about Americans’ right to bare arms. I am torn. As a political student, I know the dangers of eliminating a right because of people’s disagreement with the respective right. Yet, I am appalled by gun violence. Do I look at the textual, historical, and structural arguments to find that the “militia” of the Second Amendment consists of the armed citizenry at large, but in no way is the right dependent on actual service in a militia. Or do I look at the prudential (consequences of adoption), and ethical arguments that guns, normally, do more damage than good? Of course there is no easy answer. I wrote a piece over the summer called the impact of small arms, which is available on http://small-arms.blogspot.com/. But, should this extend to pistols, which seem to have no other purpose than killing other people. This tragic event just made me think of the consequences of gun rights and regulations. I am curious to what you all think

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What does Illegal Immigration Cost?

A scholar at the Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector, has found a new and revealing way to find out the financial effect of illegal immigration on unskilled labor markets and Government budget deficit. Rector found that in 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, low-skill households received an average of $32,138 per household Against that, Rector found that low-skill households paid an average of $9,689 in taxes. In the final calculation, he found, the average low-skill household received $22,449 more in benefits than it paid in taxes .Taking that $22,449, and multiplying it by the 17.7 million low-skill households, Rector found that the total deficit for such households was $397 billion in 2004.
What does everyone think about the major costs faced by the US Government in sustaining the millions of illegal immigrants who live in the United States? Should the country countinue to bear these costs, or should it go after all the illegal immigrants and deport them to their home countries? How do you feel about the $397 billion spent on illegal immigrants if we consider the billions of dollars that are being spent on War Against Terrorism?

Immigration Probe Targets Illinois Company

Gerardo Dominguez and Maria Pilar Marroquin de Ramirez, two executives at Quality Service Integrity Inc., were charged with aggravated identity theft and other offenses. An investigation of the company showed that the the identities of U.S. citizens and permanent residents were "illegally obtained and used to employ illegal aliens at QSI." 25 other QSI employees were charged with identity theft and 49 workers were taken into custody as illegal immigrants.

I hope that the government makes an example out of the executives by giving them a hefty fine or something of that nature. The U.S. cannot expect to make any progress on immigration issues if its own companies are undermining its authority. In order for the laws to be followed the government must demonstrate to companies that it is willing to enforce them.

Ensemble Cast Tackles Gritty Immigration Drama

At a time when immigration is everywhere, it is not surprising that the film industry is following the trend. "Crossing Over" is a film that focuses on "how the system works and who are the people caught up in it and forced to do fraudulent things." Writer and director Wayne Kramer is a naturalized U.S. citizen from South Africa who understands first hand how difficult it is to achieve legal status in the U.S. This film is set in L.A. and promises to address immigration in much the same way as "Crash" tackled racism. Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, and Ray Liotta play characters whose lives intersect though each has his own story.