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May 02, 2006

What Makes an American?

By Ezra

I don't say this often, But John Tierney nailed it today:

Suppose you were setting immigration policy from behind that veil of ignorance. Which of these would you choose?

(1) Restricting immigration to protect some of the lower-paid workers in America from a decline in wages that would be no more than 8 percent, if it occurred at all.

(2) Expanding immigration to benefit most Americans while also giving some non-Americans living in dire poverty the chance to quadruple their income.

You don't need to slog through "A Theory of Justice" to figure out this one.

I was thinking a bit about this while watching Larry King last night. The show featured wall-to-wall coverage of the May Day rallies with continuous commentary by a panel of Lou Dobbs, smiling beatifically; Dana Rohrabacher, who was unsuccessfully trying to hide the crazy; Bill Richardson, whose jowls could be used to smuggle immigrant families across the border; and Janet Murgala, president of the National Council of La Raza. What struck me throughout the broadcast was the pains Rohrabacher and Dobbs took to qualify every statement with a paean to the goodness and virtue of the immigrants in question. Hard-working folks, good, kind and honorable, too. Indeed, some of the best people you'll ever meet. Now let's put 'em on a bus.

The reason I'm relatively sanguine about the outcome of this debate is that the anti-immigrant forces are chained to some very tough rhetoric. The essence of "American" has never been geography, rarely do politicians wax rhapsodic over the quirk of fate that saw them born in San Diego rather than five miles further south. Instead, we've always prided ourselves on comprising a collection of transcendent characteristics, characteristics which allowed us to emerge a global nation, easily able to incorporate all those who would seek to share our values.

In this debate, however, the poor Mexicans who undergo a dangerous trek so they can work agonizingly hard for very little, and do all of it to guarantee their children a better life, are such quintessential expressions of American ideals that it's impossible to exclude them from the more metaphysical description of citizenship. So, instead, folks like Rohrabacher are being forced to redefine "American", making it nothing but an accident of geography, divorcing it from everything that has made our citizenship so much more than a mere statement of birthplace. And that, I think, is going to prove a pretty hard sell.

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Largely true; not so true of those states that are the core of the Republican base. Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina have never prided themselves on being melting pots and do have an identity based on geography and local history.

I also need to think of all the waves of immigration and those who resisted. We Irish may have resisted the Jews and Italians early in the 20th century, for instance. In general, American culture, to the extent there is such a thing...nah, over my head, really. There are things to say about it, comparable to the clashes around the turn of the century between Midwest Progressivism and East European Leftism and those enemies of both. Emma Goldman a found more receptive audience on the West Coast than the Upper Midwest, for instance. But I can't yet see how the current wave will change America.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | May 2, 2006 3:03:34 PM

(1) Restricting immigration to protect some of the lower-paid workers in America from a decline in wages that would be no more than 8 percent, if it occurred at all.

(2) Expanding immigration to benefit most Americans while also giving some non-Americans living in dire poverty the chance to quadruple their income.

So, what's Tierney trying to do here? Is he comparing the reality of today in example 1, against some mythic, poetic vision of immigration that doesn't exist? I don't get it.

In example 1, the Borjas 8% wage depression effect study was published in 1996, which was a time when the US was experiencing a healthy labor market and it was also a time when the proportion of unskilled workers who were illegal immigrants wasn't as great as it is today, afterall we've since experienced 10 more years of illegal immigration in which the rnumber of border crossings is far higher than the demographic rise of citizens who are unskilled.

Secondly, a key Democratic constituency is being negatively impacted by an increased supply of low skill labor. The New York Times reports:

In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

This latest reporting simply builds upon an earlier New York Times report:

A new study of black male employment trends has come up with the following extremely depressing finding: "By 2002, one of every four black men in the U.S. was idle all year long. This idleness rate was twice as high as that of white and Hispanic males."

[. . . . . ]

Among black male dropouts, for example, 44 percent were idle year-round, as were nearly 42 of every 100 black men aged 55 to 64.

Also, between 2000 and 2004 we've seen a 20% increase in the number of Americans who qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits. Clearly, a good number of these claimants are discouraged workers.

As for Tierney's second point perhaps his view of immigration centers on skilled immigrants who are high school graduates and thus they do make positive contributions to America, but 60% of the illegals who arrive from Latin America have only achieved a 6th grade education. The National Research Council, of the National Academies of Science, has done two very comprehensive studies on the economic impact of immigration and published each 300+ page economic study through the National Academies Press, makes note that each high school dropout that joins our economy poses a lifetime $89,000 net drag on our economy, while the average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000. In contrast, the average immigrant with more than a high school education was found to have a positive fiscal impact of $105,000 in his or her lifetime.

We live in the world's most advanced economy, so I'm baffled why we need to import millions of 6th grade educated laborers, and subsidize their presence so that we can continue to support uneconomic activities. Sure, the employee, the employer and the customer benefit from the subsidized labor that the taxpayer provides, but this can't be the "benefit" that Tierney is talking about.

The result of this practice is to decrease social mobility, increase poverty, and it makes the expansion of social welfare programs like universal healthcare, daycare, etc that much harder to achieve for we can't add 12 million net tax recipients to a system that is funded by ever fewer net tax contributors. Further, as we've seen in Europe, and in particular, the Scandanavian countries, the support for a social welfare state decreases as the populace sees that most of the benefits are flowing to "other groups." The more homogeneous a population the more support there is for an expansive social welfare infrastructure because the citizens all feel that they are likely to be beneficiaries of the system.

I know that Democrats want to be the nice guy in this debate and they probably believe that the concept of mutually exclusive never applies to their wishlists, but unlike Tierney's fantasy vision, we're dealing with reality here, and concepts like mutally exclusive do apply - Black males are being abandoned in favor of championing the interests of illegal non-citizens and social programs are being abandoned because they will be unsustainable when burdened with evermore net tax recipients. Perhaps I'm behind the curve and the Democratic Party principles that I thought were important have now been completely overshadowed by allegiance to Ethnic Political Interest.

Posted by: TangoMan | May 2, 2006 3:11:36 PM

I'm certainly with Ezra on this. I think nativist ideology is found in both parties though. Very few people (other than on the net) seem to be talking about greater legal immigration.

I certainly think that we need to know who is entering America, and we can't have an entire segment of our population in an illegal status, so a certain degree of border enforcement is important.

However, we need to attack the root of the problem by letting all of the 'Americans' who happen to be born in other places but so obviously have the essence of America in greater degree than many of us who happened to be born in this nation, enter our country and join our society.

If, ans TangoMan asserts, life is horrible for those who are unskilled here in America, then it seems to me that they will probably stop coming.

Posted by: Dave Justus | May 2, 2006 3:45:47 PM

Only 8 % reduction in wages. What's so "only" about that. I've gotten approximately 2% raise each year for the past 5 years, while my real estate taxes and transportation costs have risen significantly. The 8% looks pretty good. Also I don't get the grievance that sparked this particular "protest", "boycott" whatever. Are legal immagrants treated particularly badly? Are immigrants turned citizens treated badly? Illegal immigrants certainly run risks of deportation, detention, being taken advantage of by rapacious employers - but isn't that the deal? What was the expectation? I know they were protesting the House bill that passed which wants illegals and those who help them to be considered felons. That is of course way too harsh. And I don't think services such as school and medical care such as is available to all those who are uninsured should be denied. But I don't see the huge grievance that apparently immigrants feel. It's difficult to pull up all your roots and move to a new country where you don't speak the language, etc. You may not be welcomed with open arms. Obviously something is going well or you would return to your country of orign. Should citizenship be offered to anyone crossing the border? That seems unworkable. When do you reach the saturation point? If what you want is for when one person in a family is deemed legal that the whole family be deemed legal along with them, then that is what should be indicated in the demonstration. And you know what, else? Everyone I know in the land of lower middle income United States works very hard for their families and is running to staty in place. So the immigrant quotes that I heard on NPR sounded sanctimonious to me. I don't think the issue of immagrant rights is going to be a winner for the Democrats. Why are we looking at reforms at all? Because corporations want an endless supply of cheap labor is my guess. And, because this issue pisses me off, does not mean I'm zenophobic - We are a nation of immigrants and the mix makes us vital and interesting. I love the variety. But what are immigrant rights? What does that mean? I don't get it.

Posted by: Cathy | May 2, 2006 3:52:55 PM

If, ans TangoMan asserts, life is horrible for those who are unskilled here in America, then it seems to me that they will probably stop coming.

It looks to me like you're confusing absolute with relative. The increased labor competition can make life very horrible for our own citizens who, as appears to be the case, are dropping out of the workforce. We've seen labor force participation rates drop from 2000 to today, and the disparity is even greater if you look back into the mid-90s. However, our citizens qualify for all sorts of social benefits and employer buy-out packages which are not available to illegals, so they can keep coming and depressing the wage levels for all unskilled workers because what they earn in the US is still higher than what they would earn in Latin America. Further, the social benefits that are extended to illegals are paid for by the taxpayers. There's no getting around the fact that we're importing millions of net tax recipients who are an impediment to increased labor productivity and capital-labor substitution efforts.

Only 8 % reduction in wages. What's so "only" about that.

Keep in mind that Borjas derived that 8% figure back in 1996. The proportion of illegals:unskilled workers was lower in 1996 than it is today. That means that the supply of unskilled labor has increased faster than the demand of our growing economy, so it is likely that the 8% wage depression figure is actually higher in today's economy.

Posted by: TangoMan | May 2, 2006 4:25:50 PM

Check this out....pretty amazing stuff

Immigration rally coverage from across the country

Posted by: ilo | May 2, 2006 4:54:06 PM

Don't let's be so sanguine about the outcome of this debate. The gestures in the direction of rhetorical moderation that Ezra Klein notes aren't nothing, and more examples could be adduced, but a huge amount of vicious invective is still being employed, especially among friendly audiences, often by the same people who make nice in more ecumenical settings.

More generally, Ezra seems to assume that restrictionists are up against a unitary, unambiguous national rhetorical tradition of civic inclusion. There is another view, that American politics has always reflected a conflict among multiple traditions, among which nativist currents have always been important. (See, e.g., Rogers Smith's _Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History_ (1997) on this.) The rhetoric used in church and on Larry King isn't the only game in town, and there's no reason to be assured that it will always trump the historically all-too-precedented nativist rhetoric of talk radio and cable TV.

Besides, ever hear of hypocrisy?

Posted by: Keith Hurt | May 2, 2006 4:59:10 PM

The numbers given on blacks are a little skewed by a seemingly innocuous addition. '...jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated.' In particular including the incarcerated population skews the numbers.

From 'Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004'.
# For White males ages 25-29: 1,666 per 100,000.
# For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,606 per 100,000.
# For Black males ages 25-29: 12,603 per 100,000.

Thats 12.6% of ALL black males in the mid 20s compared to 3.6% and 1.6% of the other groups.

from that same NYT article mentioned above-
#Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated.

So you can immediately take 20% off the top of the numbers as they pertain to immigration joblessness since they were incarcerated at the time.

This is corroborated from other numbers I have found in many places, here is one.
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050717/OPINION/507170303/1002

'A mere 38 percent of black males graduated from Indiana's high schools in 2002; just 42 percent of America's black males in the class of 2002 earned diplomas.' (Note these are state numbers from Indiana)

'About 37 percent of black male dropouts will likely land in prison, according to Princeton University Professor Bruce Western'

That article makes a better case for the improvement of schools and graduation rates for blacks then for any immigration reform.

Looking further; informatino from the bureau of Labor Statistics in 2002 29.8% of all high school dropouts were unemployed. ..so perhaps theres more of an issue for reforming our criminal justice system in regards to blacks since their dropouts have such a high incidence of incarceration.

..or maybe its all statistical crap, with people pulling problems together that really arent closely related.

Posted by: david b | May 2, 2006 5:24:14 PM

David B.

From the New York Times link:

It's possible the rate of idleness is even higher, said the lead author of the study, Andrew Sum, who is director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

"That was a conservative count," he said. The study did not consider homeless men or those in jail or prison. It is believed that up to 10 percent of the black male population under age 40 is incarcerated.

Posted by: TangoMan | May 2, 2006 5:53:25 PM

Another thought I had. There have been many claims about how illegal immigrants should be evicted because they participate in this program or that. They utilize our schools, they utilize our entitlements, our hospitals, since they're illegal they're undercutting wages, etc.

Noone mentions the idea that perhaps we should fix these programs to address the problem, not the people who make use of the programs as they exist.

On top of that people arguing that either they should be deported, or made citizens. Im very glad Ezra made mention of the fact that there is more to being a citizen then just employment and geography. voting, jury duty, military service, public service, etc.

If they're here to work, as it seems they are, why not form a program for them to work. ..thats it. No reason to heap citizenship on there, or the benefits that we deem citizens should have. (Though we may be in trouble if we leave out the social safety net concept.)

What would happen if we legalized mexican migrants in this manner. We make it legal for mexicans to work in the US. We accept Mexican I.D. for work, eligibility on drivers licenses, and benefits. They become an active and visible member of society, as mexican nationals.

Any self respecting health worker and any compassionate people would not exclude medical care from any such program. So we accept mexican ID as access to a base level of medical care. We then take the charges that ensue from that and come to an agreement with Mexico that they need to foot the bill, and in absense of that tax the money sent back to mexico by immigrant labor to pay for the difference. Not just a punitive tax as has been proposed in the congress, but one that pays for services rendered.

Since they are legal, visible, and have no need for hiding they would have no need to fear of deportation and could regularly pay taxes, as many have expressed the willingness to do. At that time participation in schools, and use of roads, social security, etc is all payed for. (well ok SocSec isnt even paid for by us citizens, but thats a different argument.)

Then we could begin work with mexican officials on incarcerating immigrant felons, therby helping both our societies.

Of course I havent worked out every detail in this.. but you can see the direction Im going in.
Accept the fact that as every commentator and leader has said, the majority of these people are good, responsible, and hard working. Enlist these peoples help in paying for the programs they use, fix the programs where they need it, and bring immigrants out of hiding so we can protect them against unfair practices.

Something like this would be far more compassionate, far more efficient, and realistic then any form of enforcement tactic.

..then once we're all happy in our fuzzy little world where we're actually cooperating with our neighbors. ..once we've made it as certain as we can that unfair labor practices have been stamped out. Then we can begin to accept the fact that all we've done is export our industrial capability, pollution, slave labor, child labor, and unsafe workplaces to places like china through corporate imports.

..both of these issues need to be dealt with, and it would be better if it were in tandem instead of seperately. ..wont happen, but that would be ideal.

Posted by: david b | May 2, 2006 5:54:14 PM

David B.

I see the direction that you're going . . you share the desire to not want to see people being deported simply for seeking a better life. However most of your policy proposals fall run into the wall of reality. The underlying problem is that many of these illegals can't generate enough economic value to even meet the cost of their presence here. We can't magically mandate that a job that pays $7/hr all of a sudden pay $12/hr and thus create a balance between the economic value produced (captured via prices, profits and taxes) and the social costs that the illegal produces. One hospital stay, one prison sentence, sending one kid to school, etc all overwhelm the positive contribution that the illegal has made. The upper bounds on what a person with a 6th grade education can contribute economically is limited by their skill set within the world's most advanced economy. If the illegal is being paid $6/hr for a job and the value they create is $7/hr, then an employer will hire them to perform the work. However, if they have to pay $8/hr for work that is worth only $7/hr then the employer won't hire them and will replace the worker with either a more productive worker or with technology. What we're doing by keeping the floodgates open is, as a society, we're subsidizing unskilled labor and impeding the transition to more productive practices via the use of skilled labor or captial substitution. Consider this case:

In the early 1960s, growers relied on seasonal Mexican laborers, brought in under the government's "bracero" program. The Mexicans picked the tomatoes that were then processed into ketchup and other products. In 1964 Congress killed the program despite growers' warnings that its abolition would doom their industry. What happened? Well, plant scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine. Since then, California's tomato output has risen fivefold.

Those machines don't have kids who need $14,000 a year in education, nor do they suffer a heart attack and cost the taxpayer %65,000 in uncollectable hospitalization costs, nor does that machine ever find its way to prison and it doesn't stick the taxpayer with $55,000 in annual costs, nor does that machine add to urban congestion, suburban sprawl, unisured motorists, etc.

Posted by: TangoMan | May 2, 2006 6:22:57 PM

coult reach site for a while so this s a bit slow in posting:

Tangoman:
The first article mentioned contains:
'The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated.'

Thus it clearly includes the incarcerated population. You are correct that the second article does not contain this population. You are incorrect however in stating about the first article that 'This latest reporting simply builds upon' the earlier report.

Neither the earlier article nor the report its based upon; found in its entirety here - http://www.nupr.neu.edu/7-04/Black%20males%20report.pdf
mentions illegal immigration or immigrants in any substantive manner.

The article and even moreso the originating report repeatedly and forcely point to lack of education as a fundamental cause of that idleness. Other factors cited include the economy in general, the recent recession, and out of wedlock pregnancy. The report also addresses these in the summary as the factors needing to be addressed to solve the problem. Immigration reform is not mentioned.

In fact the only place in the report or the second article mentioning illegal immigration is in this quote:
'This idleness rate was twice as high as that of White and Hispanic males. It is interesting to note that the Hispanic male idleness rate barely changed during this two year period despite a continued surge in Hispanic immigration.'

the cited quote goes on to say:
'Other factors believed to be at work are increased job competition from Black women, the steep loss in manufacturing jobs, especially blue collar position,s and a reduced demand for less skilled workers
generally.'

The second article, and the originating report make no claims regarding immigration. They do however support my previous point that we need to look to education, and social investment programs to solve this problem, which is as such unrelated to the immigration issue.

Posted by: david b | May 2, 2006 8:38:16 PM

David B.

The second article, and the originating report make no claims regarding immigration.

It's my argument that is making the claims in the reports relevant to immigration, so it's immaterial whether these reports address the issue or not. Look, even the section you quote to me makes the same argument, to wit:

'Other factors believed to be at work are increased job competition from Black women, the steep loss in manufacturing jobs, especially blue collar position,s and a reduced demand for less skilled workers generally.'

Do you think that the "reduced demand for less skilled workers" may have something to do with the presence of 12 million illegals within our country?

I think that most of us would concede that racism in the workplace exists, and that there are many employers who prefer hiring illegal Hispanics rather than Black men. What I'm saying is that Democrats are wrong for putting the interests of illegals above those of their fellow citizens, especially Black men. By reducing the supply of illegals the labor market would become more attractive for Black men, and if the labor supply starts to tighten then even the racist employers will have to hire Black men.

Posted by: TangoMan | May 2, 2006 9:05:44 PM

I did make mention of the particular costs that you listed. Im also certain that neither of us have put down a comprehensive list.

The difference between us is that I have outlined proposals that would work with the people involved to help pay for the cost of workers. Beyond that we would further engage with our neighbors to help solve these problems in a way that they might actually begin to work with us.

Now I wish we would break out the accountants and work out the numbers like this for the rest of our government. We really should get things like Soc.Sec and Medicaide to pay for themselves. But noone wants to seriously talk about that since it involves out own pocketbooks so directly.

..and the tomato thing is interesting..
1. it pertains to 1 strain of tomato. As long as we're talking tomatos why not mention the fact that since the 60s we have maintained a steady habit of importing the bulk of our fresh tomatoes. Sorry I cant immediately find numbers that go back to 1960 but I can going back to 1970. Showing our net import of tomatoes going from 651 million pounds in 1970 to 2150 million pounds in 2006. (US dept of agriculture here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Tomatoes/trade.htm)

So in 2006 we (with our nifty tomato picking machine) are importing 2150 million pounds of tomatos and exporting 340 million. The majority of all that poundage is coming from mexico. And who is the next competitor for the US market. The US with our niftty machine? Nope, the Canadians.

Now we've been waiting around in the doldrums trying to figure out how we can justify deporting all these people. Of course we want to do it without mentioning the fact that our own ancestor's stories about coming to the US largely mimic their own.

While this has been going on the Canadians and Mexicans have been modernizing their agricultural sector. ..and guess what they happen to have a program for trade in migrant labor as well.

Each new migrant population since the beginning of our country has faced 'the round em up and deport em' crowd. The Irish were despised and going to ruin the country during the Potato Famine, the italians were despised by the Irish. Blacks had to face the very same prejudice after slavery. Each group has contributed to our country, and then turned on the next one in turn. ..it just doesnt work, and it only ends up adding to the misery of everyone involved.

The only way to solve this is through engagement of all the parties.

Posted by: david b | May 2, 2006 9:24:29 PM

'so it's immaterial whether these reports address the issue or not.'

Actually it does matter, since you were using both those articles to support your viewpoint. The expert in the earlier article not only makes scance mention of the cause you champion but states others as being larger requiring treatment to solve the problem. Either he's an expert and knows what he's talking about , or not.

Beyond that you characterized the later article as building upon the first when they were largely unrelated.

..actually without illegal immigrant labor, of 12-20 million we would be in pretty bad shape.

From the CIA world factbook, 2005 numbers.
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html

Our labor for totals 149.3 million workers, including unemployment. Estimated unemployed in that number are 5.1%. Thats 7.6 million workers unemployed, and lets remember that includes those that dont want to work.

So even if 100% of the unemployed americans would work (not possible) we would still need another 4-12 million workers to make up the difference.

Posted by: david b | May 2, 2006 9:37:34 PM

Just to be perverse, I might as well note the goalposts may be moving, too. The obvious effect of technological change is to need more trained workers to use and fix the technology. Long term this means basic "entry-level" jobs dry up and only those with more advanced needs are left unfilled. This doesn't affect only immigrant workers but also home grown unemployeds become unemployables. The greatest exception to this trend is in service oriented occupations which have lower pay scehules.

Posted by: opit | May 3, 2006 2:09:06 AM

Tierney is full of shit, as usual. First of all, Rawls specifically stated that the veil of ignorance only applies within a society, not worldwide. Secondly, I'm not inclined to take Rawlsian arguments seriously from a libertarian like Tierney, someone who would detest them in any other context. It is just a mask for the right-wing cheap labor agenda.

Our obligation to American workers outweighs our nonexistent obligations to foreigners.

Posted by: Firebug | May 3, 2006 3:13:37 AM

Our obligation to American workers outweighs our nonexistent obligations to foreigners.

This is the core issue that liberals just can't seem to get. In most of these rants, they speak from the illegal immigrants' point of view and justify their unlawful squatting by attempting to show how beneficial they are. Well, they don't mention the fact that anyone, including criminals, can swim the river, those with communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis and AIDS are coming in and that they do, indeed, drive down labor for the unskilled labor force already here.

Why can't liberals take ownership of the US? Why can't they put the interests of the citizens of the US first instead of foreigners?

Posted by: Fred Jones | May 3, 2006 10:09:15 AM

There is a large literature on the relationship between contractarian and liberal universalist principles. What some immigration restrictionists dismiss as the peculiar incomprehension of contemporary liberals is actually a constitutive element of Western modernity (to say nothing of the Christian tradition from which it emerged). No doubt liberal universalism conflicts with other, political interests, but the United States was founded as part of liberal civilization, and no view that radically discounts the most basic needs and claims of non-members of the political community is consistent with the fundamental moral values on which American institutions are based. Any claim that foreigners have no rights that we are obliged to respect quickly runs into difficulties and is, I think, a grave moral error.

Posted by: KH | May 3, 2006 11:31:01 AM

Ok then, so whats this magic policy thats going to get them out of the country in a timely, safe and cost effective manner?

Really?

Who is "dealing with reality here?"

Posted by: Adrock | May 3, 2006 11:44:15 AM

One element that is always missing from this discussion: why do (natural-born) Americans assume that immigration leads inexorably to naturalization? Is it not possible for someone to live and work in the US and contribute to society and economy without being a citizen -- or even wanting to be a citizen? Heck, Hitchens is still waiting for his N-400 to be processed, and he only got around to filing it a few years ago.

One can enter into a social contract without full membership. Indeed, many do so by accident of birth.

Posted by: nick s | May 3, 2006 12:29:56 PM

Filmmaker Parthiban Shanmugam makes “BLACK MEN CAN SWIM “staring Dexter Tucker (Chris Tucker’s brother)

Hollywood, CA December 11 2006 – Eagle Mount Productions in association with Hari Films and Director Parthiban Shanmugam present an astounding film on the post 9/11 drama called “Black Men Can Swim.” The first ever Indian American film which takes present day American life through the main stream American life.

Black Men Can Swim was shot in Atlanta, New York in March 2005. While the film unfolds in simple and narrative, complex themes concerning Religion and age old cruel practice in Southern states presented through the experiences of one victimized man, the film takes the viewer through a real-life tale of a tradition that beckons the destruction of humanity’s conscience.

While the style of film is magical realism, the story is based on the real life experience of one urban man and the realism will emphasize the power of real life experience. Since it follows the life of Abdul Johnson a personal trainer, the magical realism style of the film with the saturated colors reflects the sun soaked, dry and rundown gym surrounded by inhumane environment. While the environment and the characters of the story are brought to life with a painstaking attention to realistic detail, the stunning visuals of the film only serve to emphasize the beauty of the environment and the horror in the life of the people who inhabit it.

The sound also reflects the slow and fast paced environment of gym and bustling township life, mixing in real location sounds of people and their activity. A choral element representing Abdul Johnson’s life and love of his family and life, juxtaposes with the often grim reality of life–that religion and its wrong interpretations for some one’s convenience affects the society at large. The music is a beautiful mix of the Southern hip hop culture originating from modern urban music.

Director Parthiban Shanmugam learnt about the controversial story from his own experience from the YMCA gym. The concerns of the minority protection need to be addressed. Due to the hatred practice amongst some section of society, the general health of the world is at great risk -- we need to strive to create awareness about inhuman practice and unity”, said Parthiban, explaining the major motivations behind making of this film.

The film exposes the hypocrisy surrounding this deep rooted practice and boldly and comically conveys the need of the banning of such practice, de-alienation and respect in the human society.

http://www.blackmencanswim.com

Posted by: siva k selvaraj | Dec 11, 2006 8:59:37 PM

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