Monday, May 29, 2006

We are all immigrants

Many who are engaged in the immigration debate assume that there are two groups of people in this country, immigrates and non-immigrants. Their arguments draw a deep dark line between people, marking a distinction that, in truth, does not exist. This faulty way of thinking would classify me, and my ancestors, as non-immigrants. My most recent immigrant ancestors were a pair of great grandparents, originally from Germany, who met and wed in South Dakota during the 1880’s. Nearly all my lines of ancestry were in North America back in the 1600 or 1700’s. Yet my family is indeed an immigrant family, as are all families, even those who wish to claim otherwise. Native Americans came to North America in several waves of immigration over the past 20 thousand years. The rest of us immigrated much more recently.

My ancestors witnessed wave after wave of immigration and worked with more recent immigrants who built this country and made it the wonderful land it is today. Yet, sadly, my ancestors and I have also watched as some of these immigrants, once they became established, turned on subsequent immigrants and attempted to deny them the same opportunities their own families enjoyed. The reasons given for denying others are many and varied, but are mostly, I would say, ignorance or a mean-spirited dislike of others. The most popular excuse offered today feigns a newly found concern for “fairness,” the claim is that it’s not fair that current immigrants should be allowed citizenship when others couldn’t find a way to come to this land of opportunity.

How disingenuous! Why this sudden interest in “fairness” from those so interested in denying others what they themselves were once given? There is nothing fair about immigration. Millions have died attempting to get to America and will never know “fairness.” The route to immigration has always been blocked with physical, financial, and legal impediments none of which were fair. This so called “fairness” excuse is voiced, I believe, by those same people who want to erect even more unfair barriers.

It is sad that selfish people select such a short sighted view, or that they simply lack the mental capacity to look at history. If they would open their eyes to reality, they would see that each and every wave of immigration to our country has been followed by ever higher levels of prosperity. Each wave of immigration has fueled a leap forward in science and education with first and second generation immigrants leading the way. Indeed, the 1990’s were years of unparalleled prosperity in this country. This prosperity, of course, was not unconnected to the immigration during the 1980’s and 1990’s when many Mexican and Asian immigrants came to do the work of the booming economy.

Ours is, and has always been, a nation of immigrants. I’d like to invite those wishing to deny to others their own ancestor’s American dream, those who take no pride in this great nation’s true character; I’d like to invite these selfish people to go back to the country of their ancestors, to stop sewing the seeds of dissention and allow the greatness of this country to shine, and allow the rest of us to enjoy our rich heritage of proud resourceful dynamic immigrants working and living together.

By Daniel Barrett, Rockford, Illinois USA

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Omaha man walking to Virginia and blogging about it

There is a fellow named Marshall Massey walking from Omaha, Nebraska to Harrisonburg, Virgina: a distance of 1150 miles. He started on Saturday, May 13 and expects to finish July 31. He is currently about half way across Iowa.

He is writing about his journey in his blog at Be sure to go to the archives and read the entries in order from the oldest to the most recent.

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Marshall is a Quaker, an environmentalist and a peace activist. If you are not familiar with Quakers you may find his description of his decision to walk to Virginia as a “leading” from God certified as such by his Meeting as somewhat strange. As a student of Quakerism I find a modern American writing and thinking in a manner similar to the great Quakers writers of previous generations fascinating and wonderful.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Know anyone looking for 3 bedroom house for less than $60,000?

Have you heard of the of St. Joseph The Worker House Association in Rock Island? They run a house in Rock Island which offers temporary shelter to homeless women and their children in the tradition of the Catholic Worker House movement. They are very good people doing very good work.

A house which was damaged by fire was donated to the group and the Doris & Victor Day Foundation gave them a loan to rehabilitate it. The house has been completely refurbished and now the group is selling it so they can use the proceeds for repairs and operation of the St. Joseph The Worker House shelter.

The house for sale is at 2317 9th Ave., Rock Island. It is a 3 bedroom house with a new furnace and bathroom, refurbished kitchen and beautiful hardwood floors. The sale price has been set at $58,900. There is an open house going on right now as I write this from 11am – 3pm Saturday, May 20. Or you can contact William Palos of Mel Foster Co. at 309 292 1252.

St. Joseph The Worker House Assn. grew out of the Peace & Justice Committee of the former St. Joseph Church. The group was involved in keeping the Evening Meals program and discussions on Peace and Justice issues.

After Chuck Trapkus died in a tragic car accident in December 2004, the Catholic Worker House 901 20th St., Rock Island which he supported and ran fell vacant and into disrepair. The church group was donated the house by the trustees of the house. The P&J group decided to incorporate as a not for profit and sought loans to repair and re-open the house.

The house is run along the same traditions of a Catholic Worker House, accepting homeless women and their children as guests. There are no fees and no charges for their stay.
The mission of the organization is to offer services and programs that would create a healthy neighborhood and revitalize the community and provide affordable housing and transitional housing for homeless women and their children.

The house for sale at 2317 9th Ave., Rock Island was donated by Karen and Malik Khaliq of Milan. A garage fire damaged the rear of the house.
St. Joseph The Worker House Association accepted the donation and subsequently received loan funds from Doris & Victor Day Foundation to rehabilitate the house.

Italo Milani, architect, a supporter of the Worker House, prepared the rehab designs and contracted with Teel Builder, Inc., Milan to complete the work.

Board members include Ruth Pushetonequa, president; Vanessa Trice, vice president; Grace Rubalcava Woodley,secretary;Gina Howell, fund raiser; Vince Thomas, treasurer. Other members include, Chris Larson, Galen Leonhardy, Patrick Logan, Luca Luna Terronez and Toni Tribby.

The Worker House is supported by many individual generous donors and grants from foundations. These include Doris & Victor Day Foundation, Moline Community Foundation, Diocese Of Peoria Social Action Funds, First Lutheran Chruch, Rock Island, First Presbyterian Church, Milan and the Rock Island Arsenal Women's Club.

Non-English Speakers not welcome here

On Thursday by a vote of 63 to 34, the Senate tacked onto its immigration bill an amendment from Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that declares English to be "the national language of the United States."

"Unless otherwise authorized or provided by law," the Inhofe amendment says, "no person has a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English."

It appears to me to be saying that anyone who is dealing with the United States government, whether as an importer, exporter, visitor, tourist, guest worker, asylum seeker, immigrant, student doing a report, or whatever who does not speak English fluently can have no expectation that our government will make any effort to communicate with them. What sort of arrogant xenophobic nonsense is this?!?

To be consistent don’t you think we should also change our national motto, "E pluribus unum" to something in English? In keeping with the spirit of this amendment perhaps the meaning also should be changed to something like "We speak English here" or "Only English speakers welcome."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I just hope no one gets hurt

In a nationally televised speech last night President Bush announced plans to deploy the military on the US-Mexico border. It is natural that the people of Mexico would be concerned about such plans. Usually when one country masses it troops on its border with another country it is a provocative act, signally aggressive, hostile intentions. Mexican president Vicente Fox sought to reassure the Mexican people, telling them that this was a logistical and administrative effort, rather than a military one.

I guess I would call it a psychological maneuver rather than one actually intended or likely to accomplish anything. Over the last 20 years or so the US has continually beefed up security on the border without slowing down illegal immigration in the slightest. The only effect of increasing security at the places where the most people were crossing has been to force the illegals to cross elsewhere.

Hopefully our national guard troops will understand their role and not actually do anything of a military nature while stationed on the border. The only people they will be encountering on the border are civilians (all the terrorists who enter our country by driving across the border invariably pick the more lightly defended Canadian border) and if they act in a military rather than a symbolic manner someone may get hurt.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Internet humor

I just saw these on Nicholas Kristof's blog

...Sen. Lamar Alexander has introduced a bill that the national anthem, and all other statements of national unity, must be spoken or sung only in English, not Spanish. He emphasized that the English language is the basis of our national unity, as reflected in our national motto: E pluribus Unum!

..President Bush, in celebrating the American spirit of free enterprise, remarked that the French don't even have a word for entrepreneur!

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with Al Qaeda?"

Michael V. Hayden, nominated by President Bush to head the CIA.

While head of the NSA, he oversaw the program that recorded the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans.

"Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with Al Qaeda?" -Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont.

Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call executives of AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon "to see if we can learn some of the underlying facts."

He said he would question them about "what we can't find out from the Department of Justice or other administration officials."

"We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country." - Jack Cafferty on CNN.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cinco de Mayo in Moline

The Cinco de Mayo celebration on Saturday at the Bass Street Landing in Moline
It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place. The weather was perfect.

The Cinco de Mayo celebration on Saturday was organized by Viva Quad Cities and Casa Guanajuato. Above is a Mexican food booth manned by volunteers from Casa Guanjuato

Saturday, May 06, 2006

CIA Director resigned because of ties to Cunningham scandal.

According to a story in the Daily News:
"WASHINGTON - CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned yesterday amid allegations that he and a top aide may hbave attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.

"Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, could soon be indicted in a widening FBI investigation of the parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham, law enforcement sources said."

Read the entire story

If this many Republican scandals are being revealed while the Republicans still control everything imagine what will come out when the Democrats return to the majority!

Friday, May 05, 2006

How can we have a democracy if corporations have all the power?

According to an article in today’s Dispatch a vocal opponent of the proposed pork plant, Dawn Marner, who lives near where the plant would be built, has been fired from her job with A.D. Huesing. She had faxed two letters relating to the plant from a company fax machine to Silvis Mayor Lyle Hohse and East Moline assistant city administrator Rich Kehner in the last three months. She did not use company letterhead but the fax machine included text in the transmitted image identitifying the machine they were from.

East Moline Mayor John Thodos and Moline’s RiverStone Group spokesman Robert Imler said they spoke with two A.D. Huesing managers last month about the plant after hearing about plant related letters with A. D. Huesing’s name on them. Ms. Marner was fired without explanation a day after the company board chairman questioned her about a newspaper story about a public argument between her and Mayor Lohse about the letters being made public. “The owner was mad at me because it got out in the news.”

Since people from all over the world read this blog I need to explain a little of the above. Moline's RiverStone Group is a corporation which owns undeveloped land in rural East Moline, Illinois. This land is wetlands and is prone to flooding. East Moline Mayor John Thodos is one of a number of local elected officials who are eager to have Triumph Foods build a pork processing plant on Riverstone Group's land because it will supposedly bring 1000 jobs. He is so eager for these jobs (and so unconcerned about the environmental impact of building on flood-prone wetlands) that he is willing to give huge tax breaks to the project. These tax breaks (which may or may not be required for Triumph Foods to build the plant, no proof was ever presented to the public) required approval by 3 city councils and the county board. It was at the city council meeting at which votes on the tax breaks were to be voted where opponents such as Ms Marner made such a fuss that the mayor and his corporate partners took actions such as the ones described above. Also note that the mayor, the Riverstone Group and Triumph Foods devoted little effort to trying to persuade the public of the benefits of their proposal. All their efforts seemed to be concentrated on convincing the city councils and county board to approve the tax breaks. Their efforts appeared to me to be mostly strong-arm tactics such as the ones described above.

It sounds to me like the two sides in this debate are playing by different rules. The pork plant opponents are trying to prevail by persuading the public with their passion and their arguments. The pork plant proponents are going to win by silencing their opponents.

And you thought that this was a democracy in which the public would ultimately decide.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Why are legal immigrants marching alongside illegal immigrants?

Many of the people who are advocating cracking down on illegal immigrants believe there is a world of difference between legal and illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants are the opposite of illegals: legals are good and illegals are bad.

But if you listen to the people who have been marching for immigrant’s rights they don’t seem to see any difference at all. They see all immigrants, legal and illegal, as being under attack. Why are they ignoring the distinction between legal and illegal that others claim is so important?

If you listen to what the immigrant’s rights marchers are saying they are hearing a lot of talk against immigrants as a group. They are not hearing people making a distinction between legal and illegal. What they are hearing is people attacking immigrants -– attacking people speaking languages other than English, having different customs, celebrating different holidays, waving different flags and being foreign.

Which group’s perception is closer to the truth? Are the people who want to crack down on illegal immigrants mostly concerned with illegality as they claim or mostly against those who are foreign as the immigrants claim?