Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ICE targets Santa Ana California

Interesting that ICE picks the day of the country's financial hurricane to make it's latest move.

More Than 1,100 Arrested in Cal Immigration Sweep

The Associated Press/Washington Post
Monday, September 29, 2008; 2:28 PM

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Federal immigration authorities say more than 1,150 people have been arrested in a special three-week sweep in California.

The sweep targeted those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Monday that more than 400 of those arrested were from Los Angeles and several Southern California counties.

ICE teams from San Francisco and San Diego also participated in the sweep, which concluded Saturday.
© 2008 The Associated Press

Federal agents target those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the U.S. illegally. More than 400 are arrested in the Los Angeles area.
By Francisco Vara-Orta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 30, 2008

link to video

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 1,150 people in the largest collective sweep by specialized enforcement teams in California, authorities said today.

The sweep targeted those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the United States illegally after being deported, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The raids, which ended Saturday, produced 436 arrests in the San Francisco area, 420 in the Los Angeles area and 301 in the San Diego area.

Of the 1,157 illegal immigrants arrested statewide, 595 had outstanding deportation orders and 346 had prior criminal convictions, Kice said. Those arrested come from 34 countries.

The squads responsible for the arrests, known as fugitive operations teams, were developed in 2003 to focus on apprehending foreign nationals who have ignored final orders of deportation or have returned to the U.S. illegally, Kice said.

The most prominent cases involve those wanted or convicted in violent or drug crimes, agency officials said.

"Individuals who defy immigration court orders to leave the country need to understand there are consequences for willfully disregarding the law," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who oversees the federal immigration agency.

One L.A.-area case involved Jose Avila, 41, a Mexican national whose criminal history includes convictions for lewd acts involving a child and for battery. He was arrested Sept. 15 in Santa Fe Springs. After he is released by local authorities, Avila will be returned to federal custody for prosecution on felony charges of reentering the country after his deportation last year.

francisco.varaorta@ latimes.com


Human papillomavirus vaccination requirement for immigrants raises concerns

This is about money not about the safety of immigrants and US residents. This article talks discussed that issue of requiring immunization against Human Papilloma Virus for female immigrants seeking permanent residence. Not only has the cost of the vaccine increased tremendously it has had lots of controversy regarding its use.
Human papillomavirus vaccination requirement for immigrants raises concerns
08:00 PM CDT on Saturday,
September 27, 2008
Al Día mailto:tlongoria@aldiatx.com

Federal immigration authorities now require immunization against humanpapillomavirus for female immigrants ages 11 to 26 who are seekingpermanent residence.The mandate by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services went intoeffect July 1, but advocacy groups were largely left in the dark aboutthe new requirements, said Priscilla Huang, Reproductive JusticeProject director and women's law fellow at the National Asian PacificAmerican Women's Forum.The vaccine cost tacks on about $375 to the status change fee of$1,410. It is also gender specific and the only vaccine for a sexuallytransmitted disease, leading some women's rights groups to believe themandate is discriminatory.The vaccine has been controversial since it was introduced to markettwo years ago. In February 2007, Gov. Rick Perry wanted to make theshot mandatory for all sixth-grade girls in Texas. The executive orderwa s shot down.Maria Elena Garcia-Upson, spokeswoman for Citizenship and ImmigrationServices in Dallas, said the vaccines are in no way meant deny ordeter people from the application process.She said Citizenship and Immigration Services is simply followingrecommendations given by the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention. There is funding for the vaccine through the CDC'sVaccines for Children program, but adult women may find it harder topay for the shots."I think the public would agree that people who are coming into thiscountry to adjust their status, if they have a contagious disease, wedon't want that disease to be spread around," Ms. Garcia-Upson said.Ana Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal JusticeCoalition, said the cost of the vaccine will be another barrier forwomen seeking legal status. She said that application fees forimmigrants have recently risen."What we have noticed is that applying for citizenship decreases asthe fees go up," she said. "I don't think it's a coincidence thatthey're pushing for a policy that would provide a burden on immigrants."Jennifer Ng'andu, associate director of health policy at the NationalCouncil of La Raza, said the mandate is of concern."There are benefits to the vaccine, and we're not trying to downplaythem, but this vaccine is not accompanied by education, and they'reonly going to be requiring this for one group of people," she said."It's outrageous."

To view the complete article click here.

Alabama state board of edcuation votes with disgrace...

what a disgrace...not even half of the board members were there to vote. Education is denied once again to students the state has invested in and desire to give back to their communities. Although one board member tried to have more discussion on the proposal it was ignored. Have you noticed that most of the anti-immigrant sentiment is based in the South region region of the US...humm I wonder why?
AL: Board Bars Illegal Immigrants from Junior Colleges
The Associated Press, September 25, 2008
By Desiree Hunter Pell City,

AL (AP) -- The state board of education passed a new policy denying illegal immigrants admission to Alabama's two-year colleges on Thursday despite one board member's calls to delay it for more discussion and four of the nine members being absent. The policy, which takes effect next spring, was passed on a 4-0 vote, with Ethel Hall of Fairfield abstaining. Four board members David Byers of Birmingham, Ella Bell of Montgomery, Sandra Ray of Tuscaloosa and Gov. Bob Riley were not at the meeting, which was held in Pell City. Hall said she was hesitant to vote because there was only a brief discussion when the policy was first presented to the board at a work session two weeks ago. 'I don't think we've done the kind of research we need to do in order to approve the policy,' she said before describing how her brushes with racial discrimination such as being denied admission to the University of Alabama despite extensive qualifications added to her reluctance. She later taught at the school for seven years. 'It's very, very, dear to me because I have been one of those who have been excluded and I was certainly capable and an American-born citizen,' Hall said. 'So I cannot support this policy until I am given additional information.' Starting next spring, applicants to the community college system will be required to show an Alabama driver's license, state ID card, an unexpired U.S. passport, or an unexpired U.S. permanent resident card. Two secondary forms of documentation, including a photo ID card and a Certificate of Naturalization, will also be accepted. All international applicants must provide a US VISA and an official translated copy of their high school/college transcript along with information such as exam scores and proof of adequate financial support. Shay Farley, attorney and spokeswoman for the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, addressed the board during a public comment period, questioning the policy's necessity and cautioning that there could be unintended consequences. 'We are bound by federal law to provide education to any student, K-12, regardless of legal status,' she said. 'A lot of children are brought by their parents they did not choose to come here. If we deny them a two-year college education, where will they go for their education?' Two-year Chancellor Bradley Byrne said he was willing to work with opponents as the system develops guidelines for implementing the policy. 'I don't think we can address all of their concerns, but I think we can address some of them,' he said. Byrne said there was no way to know for sure how many students would be affected or how much money the policy would save, but he did not think there were a lot of illegal immigrants enrolling at two-year colleges based on student population. Admissions personnel at each college will check the documents, he said. 'For 90 percent or more of our students, all that's going to mean is they give them their driver's license,' he said. Schools in a few other states have passed a similar policy but it's not a big movement, said Raul Gonzalez, director of legislative affairs for the National Council of La Raza advocacy group. Still, Alabama's actions are troubling, he said. 'They need to make sure in their zeal to deny public higher education to undocumented immigrants that they may deny those services to U.S. citizens who don't have documentation,' he said. Gonzalez acknowledged that the documents the system would soon require are the same needed in order to obtain legal employment, but said officials should also be realistic. 'That's a good point, but that's another reason why we need to look at immigration reform,' he said. 'The bottom line is people will find jobs. How many people do you know who are working under the table? It's not about immigration, it's about poor people who need jobs.'

Opinion on California DREAM Act

CA: Opinion: Immigrant Students Deserve Chance at Financial Aid
San Jose Mercury News,
September 25, 2008
By Kent Wong Special

This week the California Dream Act moved to the governor's desk, and the future of thousands of students depends on his decision. The Dream Act would provide undocumented immigrant students the opportunity to compete for college loans and grants for which they are currently ineligible. It is supported by a broad coalition, including educators, students, religious leaders, labor and business groups.SB 1301, sponsored by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, would allow deserving undocumented immigrant students the same opportunity as other students to apply for institutional financial aid. It would be a godsend for these students, and it would benefit society as a whole by increasing the number of educated young people entering the workforce.More than 25,000 undocumented students graduate from California high schools each year. Most were brought here as young children by parents or other relatives. For many, this is the only country they have ever known. And yet, because of their immigration status, they are doomed to a life in the underground economy unless there is a change in federal law that would provide them with a path to citizenship.The Federal Dream Act would offer them an opportunity to earn legal status through attending college or serving in the U.S. military. Despite extensive bipartisan support, the bill was blocked by a minority of senators last year. Members of Congress from both parties are planning to reintroduce the Federal Dream Act in 2009. But in the meantime, California has an opportunity to do the right thing and help young residents in this position.By signing SB 1301 into law, Arnold Schwarzenegger our immigrant governor can make a strong statement that these young people deserve better. They have done exactly what our society has asked them to do. They have worked hard, studied hard and are pursuing a college education.Allowing them to compete for financial aid would not result in any increase to the state budget; nor would it give these students a free ride or unfair advantage over citizens. SB 1301 would just allow them to compete for aid based on their personal knowledge and achievements. Ironically, undocumented students enrolled in higher education pay fees that contribute to the financial aid that is made available to their classmates, yet they themselves cannot apply for these benefits.Undocumented students are allowed to pay in-state tuition because of legislation signed in 2001, opening college doors to thousands who would never have been able to afford out-of-state tuition. Yet even this modest initiative is being attacked in the courts by anti-immigrant forces. Recently, an appeals court issued a ruling against the law.These AB 540 students, as they are called, represent some of the best and brightest of their generation. Despite tremendous obstacles, many are working two and three jobs in order to support themselves through college. They are training to become teachers, social workers, engineers, scientists and health care professionals. These are professions our society desperately needs: U.S. employers are aggressively recruiting thousands of workers from other countries to fill many of these kinds of jobs, when we have a wealth of resources right here that are being ignored.The California Dream Act is good public policy. Not only would immigrant students benefit, but all of California would benefit from a better educated and better skilled workforce. Gov. Schwarzenegger should allow these students a chance at the American dream.Kent Wong teaches labor studies and Asian-American studies at UCLA and has co-edited the student publication, "Underground Undergrads: UCLA undocumented immigrant students speak out."

California DREAM Act may pass today...

This is great news. Kudos to BAMN and other organizations for protesting, although it could've attracted bad attention since the Gov. only had two days to act and if he doesn't aCheck Spellingct, it will become law come Sep. 3oth. I'm not sure what the latest update is but I hope is what DREAMers in Cali have been waiting for.
Students march for DREAM Act
By Kate Murti The Politico (Washington, DC),
September 29, 2008

Protesters from around California marched in Sacramento Friday to encourage Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign legislation that would allow undocumented immigrant college students to be eligible for financial aid.
Nearly 2,000 people gathered for the protest, including around 100 students from UC Berkeley and Berkeley High School, according to Ronald Cruz, a UC Berkeley law student and an organizer for By Any Means Necessary, a political organization that has taken special interest in the California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act.
The organization funded two charter buses to help shuttle student protesters to Sacramento.
'What we showed is that the movement is very strong and nothing but full freedom and equal treatment will stop this movement,' Cruz said. 'What's clear is that there's a lot of optimism that we really felt at the rally, that our mission can turn the corner at any time and definitely that if we don't win the DREAM Act this year, we will very soon.'
Schwarzenegger's deadline to sign or veto the DREAM Act, is Sept. 30. The act would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid administered by California Community Colleges, California State Universities and the University of California.
While Schwarzenegger has not yet made a decision on the recent act, he vetoed an earlier version of the bill in 2006.
'He has over 700 bills to act on,' said Francisco Castillo, a spokesperson for the governor. 'Every other bill that has not been acted on by Sept. 30 will become law and he has not yet taken a position on this bill.'
The bill, authored by Sen. Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, was passed by the legislature in September 2007.

To view the complete article click here.

Post IKE: More bodies found

Grisly finds put Houston-area Ike death toll at 32
2 bodies found along Galveston shore, another in Orange County
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 30, 2008, 12:19AM

The Houston-area death toll from Hurricane Ike has reached 32 with the discovery this weekend of two unidentified bodies along the shore in Galveston County and the body of a Port Neches man found in Orange County.

Meanwhile, 40 people who went missing during Hurricane Ike have been reported found, according to dozens of calls received by Laura Recovery Center's hot line. However, the hot line also received about 16 new cases, leaving its count of storm-related missing persons at 365, according to an estimate from Bob Walcutt, executive director.

Walcutt said privacy laws that keep hospitals and shelters from confirming the location of evacuees and patients have kept many families apart.

"Because of that, we've got people who are desperately looking for loved ones who are safe in shelters," he said.

Walcutt said he hoped the list of missing will be pared down significantly in the next week or two to those who "really are missing."

His current list includes many elderly people and at least 26 children. Most of the missing live in Galveston County, more than 50 from the Bolivar Peninsula alone.

Chambers County officials, meanwhile, are awaiting reinforcements to help continue the search of miles of debris washed six miles inland by Hurricane Ike. Searchers have been picking through Bolivar's wreckage for any signs of people who have been reported missing.

"The state has promised to send us as many workers as we need from Task Force One to do the job," said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia. Until taking a break this past weekend, an exhausted band of eight sheriff's deputies, state game wardens and national refuge workers had been conducting daily searches.

Rescue attempt delayed

The three bodies found this weekend include that of a Port Neches man who had been missing since he called 911 when Hurricane Ike made landfall, authorities said.

Texas EquuSearch volunteers discovered Greg Walker's body Sunday about a mile from where his truck was found, said Lt. J. LeBoeuf of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Walker called in distress early Sept. 13, but no rescue attempt could be launched until the next day, LeBoeuf said.

"The wind was too high, and water was still white-capping," he said.

Walker, 40, was married with three children. Port Neches is southeast of Beaumont in Jefferson County.
Tim Miller, of Texas Equu-

Search, said his volunteers had spent four days in Orange County searching for Walker. A friend of Walker's spotted his body Sunday, Miller said.

The two unidentified bodies, both found Saturday in Galveston County, are greatly decomposed, but authorities hoped to find more clues to their identities during autopsies conducted Monday. Results were not immediately available.

A fisherman discovered the body of a person believed to be a Caucasian male about 3:15 p.m. Saturday on the rocks two miles west of an area known as Severs Cut. The other body, believed to be a Caucasian female, was spotted in a debris pile about three hours later by all-terrain vehicle riders on the northwest side of Pelican Island, about 300 yards from Pelican Cut.
"The more people that are out and about going places, the more likely they are to find folks," said D.J. Florence, chief investigator at the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office.

The weekend discoveries bring the total number of deaths nationwide from Hurricane Ike to 67, according to The Associated Press. The 600-mile-wide storm caused flooding as far north as Illinois.

Searching for remains

State game wardens and other law-enforcement officers have shifted from looking for survivors to finding the remains of the deceased, said Aaron Reed, a spokesman for Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

"Our expectation is there are certainly more storm victims to be found," he said. "Whether we are able to find them, I don't know."

Aerial spraying has begun to fend off massive numbers of mosquitoes that make search options almost impossible.

"A great deal of debris was washing out to sea, and some of the missing may never be found, unfortunately," Reed said.

Capt. Rod Ousley, also of the parks department, is overseeing search efforts in an enormous coastal area that runs from the Louisiana state line to the Harris County line.

"In this deal, we've tried by airboat, four-wheeler, four-wheel-drive truck and helicopter, and we're just going to keep trying," he said.

Staff writers Lise Olsen, Rosanna Ruiz and Cindy Horswell contributed to this report.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Bilingualism -- only an issue in the U.S. - Part I

The argument about bilingualism is only a big deal around here because the other language we are talking about is Spanish. If it was French it would be a different story.

Did you know that the Department of Homeland Security offers a special pass (if you are able to get security clearance) - the pass lets you go through security check points very quickly. The web page of course is in English, it offers the form in one other language, French!

September 28, 2008, 7:57 pm
The Bilingual Debate: English Immersion

By Lance T. Izumi
Series logo

In this installment of Education Watch, Bruce Fuller and Lance T. Izumi discuss the candidates’ positions on bilingual education. Go to Mr. Fuller’s post.

Lance T. Izumi, a senior fellow in California studies and the senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, is the co-author of the book “Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice.” (Full biography.)

Making effective appeals to Hispanic voters is a tricky business. Barack Obama’s education proposals are a case in point.

Mr. Obama’s campaign notes that, “African-American and Latino students are significantly less likely to graduate than white students,” which is true. To combat such achievement gaps, Mr. Obama’s education plan specifically advocates, among other things, “transitional bilingual education” for English-learners. Yet, the question for Mr. Obama is whether his commitment to bilingual education, which emphasizes classroom instruction in languages other than English, overrides his interest in closing achievement gaps.

Take, for example, Sixth Street Prep, a charter elementary school in eastern Los Angeles County. The school’s students are overwhelmingly Hispanic and low income. More than a third of the students, many of whom are recent arrivals, are learning English. Yet, among fourth graders, an astounding 100 percent of the students tested at the proficient level on the 2008 state math exam. A nearly equally amazing 93 percent of fourth graders tested proficient on the state English-language-arts exam. This incredible success was achieved using a different ingredient than the one favored by Mr. Obama.

Sixth Street emphasizes review and practice, constant assessment of skills and a no-excuses attitude. Furthermore, and here’s where Mr. Obama should take note, according to Linda Mikels, Sixth Street’s principal, the school’s instructional approach for English learners is “full immersion.” English immersion emphasizes the near-exclusive use of English in content instruction. Ms. Mikels, who opposes bilingual education, told me, “we’ve had tremendous success with having a student who is brand new from Mexico and you would walk into a classroom 12 months later and you wouldn’t be able to pick out which one he was.” “It’s working,” she observed, “it’s working for us.”

Would Mr. Obama hold up a school like Sixth Street Prep as one model for replication by other schools with large Hispanic and English-learner populations? The school’s achievement results should make the answer to that question a no-brainer, but the education politics within his own party (the National Education Associations has been a long-time supporter of bilingual education) and his own consistent support for bilingual education obscure predicting Mr. Obama’s response.

While he agrees that immigrants should learn English, Mr. Obama recently trivialized the issue when he said that people should stop worrying about “English-only” legislation. Instead, he said, “you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.”

If Mr. Obama truly wishes to close achievement gaps, he should carefully consider education models that work rather than scorn or trivialize them.


Bilingualism- only an issue in the U.S. - Part II

Comments from NYT article on bilingualism.


It would be interesting to find out how classes are taught in Switzerland, which is tri-lingual.

— Posted by John


Our maid had a child within two months of my wife delivering our own second child. Five years later, we managed to get our maid’s child into the same public school to which our child went. But she got kicked out for misbehaving and sent to a local school near where our maid lived. Unfortunately, this was a school that mandated that Spanish to be used to teach the students. 13 years later, our child was headed to an elite college and our maid’s daughter was barely able to finish high school. Do I think that our son was brilliant and our maid’s daughter was stupid? No. But it’s very interesting that our maid’s daughter spoke English with a Spanish accent even though she was born and reared 100% in this country. I think back to the day a decade earlier that our maid cried to us that they were teaching her child in Spanish and that she wanted her to learn English in school so that she could do well in this country. To my limited experience, therefore, it’s a really bad idea to teach students who need to work and compete in English to depend upon Spanish.

— Posted by Gary

Speaking as someone who has taught ESL, using very different models in different high schools with different clientele, I am struck by how much the debate about the quantity of English in the class quickly devolves from a sensible search for the best strategy to an ideological war that produces some very silly teaching strategies. With a little common sense, we can quickly dispatch with some of the silliest of these extremes. For example, using the student’s second language when they first arrive makes sense only if the teacher has a homogeneous group and a basic grasp of the languages students bring into the room. I speak Spanish, and when I had a room full of Spanish speakers, I could use Spanish words to compare true and false cognates, to explain which rules are similar and which are different, etc. But when my classes were filled with students who spoke Chinese (I can hardly manage please and thank you without messing up the tones) this strategy was beyond me. Some folks worry that the use of any of the student’s first language is somehow unpatriotic or counter productive. To these folks I’d say, if you went to another country where you didn’t speak the language, as much as you’d want the instruction to center around the new language and move you to a conversational level, you’d certainly hope the initial instructions could be provided in your language, and that you could ask questions, in English, about how to express certain ideas. Those who favor the use of full bilingual teaching often seem to imply that the English-only folks are disrespectful or even downright racist. Though some of the people who espouse these views outside of education may be just that, people who have dedicated their lives to teaching kids (probably, hopefully) aren’t trying to hurt them because of some external political agenda. Because every class of students is different, and because every teacher’s grasp of foreign languages is different, I’m very glad to see that Senator Obama isn’t the type to jump on one example and try to force it on other schools. We teachers don;t benefit from that kind of armchair quarterbacking, and our kids certainly don’t, either. Instead, he’s voiced the principles that all ESL teachers should hold: Teach every child English, and do it in the way that works the best for that child. It’s not racist or evil to admit that our kids will need to be fully fluent in English to be successful in our society, and it’s not unpatriotic to admit that sometimes it can be helpful to use a little of the student’s first language to make that happen.

— Posted by Ben Gorman

Just one more thought to add: As someone who predominantly teaches literature to native speakers now, it will be very helpful to have a President Obama who shows my students just what a mastery of the English language can sound like, instead of someone like our current president, who shows them that they can butcher the language (and get mostly C’s in school), but if they have a father who is president and lack a conscience, they can still manage to become president, albeit to disastrous effect. I encourage you all to consider what it has been like, over the last seven years, to try to impart the simple values that education matters, that grammar matters, that using real words matters to high school students who see Dubya on the news each night.

— Posted by Ben Gorman

I 100% agree on your belief in the power of English immersion. That faith is based on my personal experience as an exchange student in France, the experience of my daughter as an exchange student in France, and the experience of a number of primarily Asian foreign exchange students who have lived with my family here in America over the years. One school year is enough time to become fluent in an immersion setting. This is especially true for young children who have the greatest facility in learning a new language.

— Posted by ANC

Obama’s not trivializing educational models. Reading the linked article, it’s clear that he was discussing isolationism, not pedagogical philosophy.

The elephant in the room is that most of the arguments for English-only education come not from education experts, but from jingoist laymen. Obama was trying to point out the dangers of that outlook; the world is shrinking rapidly, and kids (and adults) really are at an advantage when they can read and speak more than one language.

While the success of Sixth Street’s program is impressive, as a lay-reader of this article I wonder if there is sufficient evidence that English-only is the cause of their success. I’d be interested to read further research from education experts. (I.e., actual peer reviewed research, not politically motivated pronouncements from people or organizations with an agenda.) If it does turn out that English-only is the path to educational success, then that point needs to be clearly made and not mixed up with positions on isolationism and jingoism.

— Posted by Hopskotch

Greetings from a bilingualism researcher in Japan. Bilingual education is a field that should never be politicized, first of all. The bilingualism discipine has an established body of research and theory that proves elusive to sound bites, because the common sense of a given society is insufficient, and rigorous scientific analysis is necessary. Even when academics from other fields enter the debate, the gaps in their understanding are apparent, and it becomes a choice of which values are agreeable. For example, the use of the fine-sounding “immersion” in both articles should be corrected to “submersion,” which more realistically portrays what the learner experiences. “Immersion” in the bilingual education field always means that language majority students, like Japanese speakers in Japan or native English speakers in the U.S., learn regular school subjects 50% or more in a foreign language. There is no danger of majority students losing native language proficiency and being thus submerged, drowning in the unfamiliar, or losing linguistic ties with their families. One charter school cannot be generalized to the more common public school experience. It is true that the school staff members need precisely this correct knowledge of bilingualism that is surrounded by misconceptions and politics. Schools should at least be free to act on their best knowledge and staff abilities. Being against bilingual education is often a politically motivated cutting off of informed choices. Is it not absurd that high school students are struggling to start to learn Spanish and other languages for future international trade and communication while the native languages of immigrants are left to rot along with their cognitive abilities? Sweden manages to teach children in a hundred native languages, and Europeans are generally multilingual, because they prioritize international communication. My half-Japanese younger son was just realizing that a lot of foreigners don’t speak Japanese, and being bilingual in Japanese was another cool thing about his dad. How about the rest of you? There is plenty of unused space in growing and mature brains for multilingualism and multiculturalism if you weed out the propaganda.
(Prof.) Steve McCarty in Osaka

— Posted by Steve McCarty

I live in Iowa City, about twenty miles away from West Liberty, Iowa. There they have a bilingual school system that starts in kindergarten. They have a large Hispanic population and ten years ago they started a voluntary bilingual program. About 40% of the district starts the program in kindergarten. Not only do the Anglo kids who opt for the program learn both Spanish and English but the Hispanics kids learn proper Spanish, not street Spanish. The voluntary program continues to expand.

— Posted by tim

America is more isolated in the world than she should be, because of the lack of proficiency in a wide range of languages among her citizens. This is ironic given that immigration is the backbone of our nation.

Bilingual education, done properly, will result in students who have a very good mastery of English and who also have academic skills in their native tongue or their parents’. Whether or not their English is as perfect as it would be in a monolingual classroom, I think that there is substantial value in having educated bilinguals in our community, something that gets lost in strictly monolingual classrooms.

— Posted by Greg Shenaut

Look up look way up, yes that’s Canada up there, and guess what we are Bi lingual. Even if you live in Red Necked Alberta, home of the Calgary Stampede, Yahoo, if you want a trial in French no problem. Canada has spent Billions on making this a priority, to save the French Language is to save the French Culture. Personally I don’t give a s–t about French, but we got it, so if you need help being Bi-lingual, or you just want to study ways we have made teaching a second language to people from all, and I mean, all over the world, check it out.

Lary Waldman

— Posted by Lary Waldman
September 29th,
10:44 am

If the student who is “brand-new from Mexico” cannot be distinguished from others after 12 months, he or she is probably very adept at accessing peer assistance and hiding what he or she does not know. The difference may not be noticeable to the casual classroom visitor, but for this student academic language competence is years away.

— Posted by Catherine

Obviously Mr. Izumi hasn’t done his homework. He claims that support for bilingual education has a detrimental effect on English Learners’ academic achievement. He needs to read the report from the esteemed panel of experts convened by the federal government, the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children & Youth (August & Shanahan, 2006). The 12 member panel reviewed 292 scientifically sound research studies over 4 decades that show a clear advantage for English learners who acquire reading skills in their native language, which is accomplished through effective well-implemented bilingual education programs. Prof. Claude Goldenberg of Stanford University quantified the native-language reading advantage, pointing out that bilingual readers have a 12 to 15 percentile point advantage over their English learner peers taught exclusively in English. Izumi either ignores or doesn’t know the research findings on the effectiveness of bilingual instruction, which are among the most robust in educational research. Shame on Mr. Izumi for arguing a position that is totally unsupported by the authoritative educational research. His ignorance of the research findings exposes the ideology rather than the science that drives his opinion about bilingual education. Sen. Obama is right. There is every reason for him to support Latino voters’ rights (and the rights of all parents who want their children to have the bilingual advantage) to establish and choose bilingual education programs.

— Posted by Jill Kerper Mora

If the goal is to help the child, Dr. Izumi’s proposal is unquestionably best. The history of my country (USA) show Immersion in the local language works far faster and with clearer understanding than teaching in the language of the childs past. Immersion language instruction does however require Teachers with broader training in languages and culture than usually found in most local elementary schools in the USA. Principal Mikels is right on. On this one, Senator Obama is simply wrong.

— Posted by Axl

Research in the field of applied linguistics shows that English only education is not necessarily the best method for ESL students, despite the success of this method in one instance. Success in the language classroom encompasses far more than simply language proficiency and is determined by factors other than a high score on a test. The goal of any teacher or ESL program should be to foster the overall academic success and well-being of the students. Using an ESL student’s first language in the classroom enhances cognitive development, offers the student the chance to be fully literate in two languages and functionally bi-lingual (which opens many career possibilities for students in the future) and is beneficial for the student’s self-esteem and cultural identity. Academic articles such as “Reexamining English Only in the ESL Classroom” by E. Auerbach or “It’s not my Job” by Oxelson and Lee support the use of the heritage language in the ESL classroom. The success of a teaching method is highly dependent on the dynamic of the classroom. Because each classroom has students of different backgrounds and skill levels, it is impossible and foolish to say that any one method, such as English Only, will be successful for all ESL classrooms.

— Posted by Charlotte Peterson

My father remembers getting disciplined and shamed for speaking spanish at school; native american children were stolen and beaten when they spoke anything other than english. My father nearly lost his ability to speak spanish and entire generations of children ended up unable to speak to their parents and grandparents.

What people are afraid of is the isolationist and jingoistic tone (thank you Hopskotch) that frequently infiltrates the discussion on bilingualism. I think that kids should learn as many languages as possible. I’m proud of my little cousin who is three but can converse easily in english or spanish. It is important to teach children english BUT we HAVE to be careful that they don’t lose their native language. unfortunately, I don’t ever hear that concern for balance coming from anti-bilingual education folks.

— Posted by Bernardette

How many Presidents have been bi-lingual? How many member of the congress are bi-lingual?

Now, how many of them were required to study another language in both high school AND college?

I was just in Barcelona, the waiter at this cheap restaurant spoke three languages FLUENTLY.

I have America friends in Germany. Their two kids spoke three languages fluently by age 8: English, German and French. so did the other kids in neighborhood. They also knew some Italian.

John Kerry studied in Switzerland and downplayed his ability to speak another language. Apparently in America that makes one elitist.

Jackie Kennedy, on the other hand, was treated like a demi-goddess because she spoke French!!!! Imagine that? She took French in school and learned it! Isn’t that amazing??!

— Posted by Mark W

f teaching a child in Spanish makes her a maid, and teaching her in English makes her a lawyer, where to we get our bilingual lawyers for NAFTA cases, international negotiations, etc? I am able to be a historian of Latin America because I learned Spanish in high school. Should the children of Spanish-speaking parents also have to learn Spanish in high school if they want to be scholars or executives or diplomats or travel directors or container-ship captains or alpaca-fleece buyers or high-school Spanish teachers with native accents or any of the huge number of jobs where speaking and writing Spanish and English equally well is very important? Shouldn’t we try to preserve and improve all our immigrant kids’ native language skills as a way of helping connect the US to the rest of the world? I’ve seen this point made already here, and I’m glad.
Are some people really arguing that we should intentionally make kids lose their native language so that their English will be better? That knowing a foreign language is too dangerous for immigrants and should be restricted to the native born? I hope not, but it sounds like they might be.
Does anyone on the pro bilingual side really object to using immersion-style classes for teaching English (as opposed to refusing to give any tutoring or content help in a native language)?
Is there no middle ground? No program in which everything is taught in English, but there’s a class in formal Spanish or French or Hebrew or Portuguese or Cantonese or Korean or whatever foreign languages have enough students to justify the class? No program in which the English classes are designed to prepare students to study, say, history in English after a year, math in English after 2 years, geography in English after 3 years, earth science after 4 years, etc? I have advised college students doing poorly because their English classes hadn’t taught them the words they needed for calculus — I assume something similar happens in grade school, and could be fixed.

— Posted by Sam Martland

Too much of this discussion is either/or, black and white. I grew up in 4 foreign countries where, each time, and have lots of experience with language learning (and being thrown into new environments without much warning as a child). Immersion is great, but children also need some grounding in their own language. If parents are illiterate themselves or not providing Spanish-language reading material and complex language interactions at home, and the kid is in an immersion program, it will be detrimental to the kid.
Immersion is great for some subjects, but in that case children should also have a class in Spanish-language literature and culture, with practice in writing in Spanish. The non-Hispanics could be in a language-learning class of their own at that time.
I’m fluent in 4 languages, but my comprehension for complex content will always be fastest, easiest, and least effortful in English. If I had had to stop learning in English completely while I was growing up, I would have been an intellectually stunted and discouraged and bored person.

— Posted by cls

Mexican immigrants receive education with funds from Mexico

I had never heard of this program and wonder if they have one here in Houston to maybe volunteer. Education is the path to success and it is a worldwide-right and it should not matter if Mexico is funding programs for Mexicans in the US. Kudos to those who have taken advantage of programs like Plaza Comunitaria which help immigrants graduate with an equivalent of a Mexican high school diploma.

I am mostly surprised this story was written in GA, having seen and felt the anti-immigrant sentiment in Georgia, Columbus is south of Atlanta and close to an Army Infantry training camp where I visited to attend an Army graduation of one of my cousins who is currently completing his 12-month "tour"(that's what he calls it) in Irak.


Mexico quietly helps emigrants to US learn Spanish

By Laura Wides Munoz

The Ledger Enquirer (Columbus, GA),

September 24, 2008

For more than a decade, as the immigration debate has swelled on both sides of the border, the Mexican government has been quietly providing money, materials and even teachers to American schools, colleges and nonprofit organizations.
The programs aren't substitutes for U.S. curricula, but educators familiar with them say they provide a lifeline for adult students with little formal education by helping them become literate in Spanish - and by extension, English.
Yet many educators are wary of even talking about the programs, fearing they might stoke an anti-immigrant backlash.
The Mexican government, which spends more than $1 million annually on the programs, has many reasons to provide the aid to the immigrants and their children. The programs allow it to give back to the growing number of Mexicans living legally and illegally in the U.S. Behind oil, remittances from these individuals are the second-largest source of foreign income for the Mexican economy - almost $24 billion last year.
'We don't want the Mexicans in the exterior to feel like milk cows being expressed for the resources they were sending back,' said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, head of the Mexican government's Institute for Mexicans Abroad, which oversees most of the programs.
Mexicans abroad need an education to represent the country well, he said.
'The image and prestige of Mexico is inextricably linked to the image and prestige of these communities in the U.S.,' Gonzalez said.
He also acknowledged that many of the adult participants are likely illegal immigrants, a group the U.S. government doesn't want to allow to stay, let alone have to support.
'Mexican involvement in American public education is another symptom of how things are different than the Ellis Island era,' said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to limit immigration. 'With technology, distance doesn't really matter. You never really leave the old country behind.'
Krikorian said the U.S. shouldn't rely on Mexico to help integrate immigrants.
'Both the public and a lot of lawmakers want immigration on the cheap,' he said. 'Contracting out to the Mexican government is a cop-out.'
Such responses are exactly what educators fear might take the few educational opportunities away from people like Alfredo Ortiz, 43, of Chattanooga, Tenn., who came to the U.S. from the state of Chiapas with a third-grade education in 1992 and began picking cucumbers before becoming a landscaper. For years, he says, he didn't have time to study, but more than that, the thought of re-entering school terrified him.
Then he heard about a new program called 'Plaza Comunitaria,' or Community Plaza, at Chattanooga State Technical College, where he could study Mexican elementary and middle school subjects online, with assistance from volunteers who receive stipends from Mexico. That seemed less daunting than jumping directly into English, and he quickly enrolled.
Much to his surprise, he was soon confident enough to study an hour a night in Spanish and an hour a night in English, earning his middle school diploma from Mexico along the way.
'When I achieved understanding of the Spanish and how to conjugate those verbs, it was so much easier to understand how to conjugate in English,' he said. 'It also sets an example for my kids. They see I struggled, so they should reach even farther.'
Plaza Comunitaria is the Mexican government's biggest educational export program. It began in 2002 in San Diego and now operates at 370 sites in 35 states from Oregon to Florida, providing $1 million in grants. But it's not the only one. Mexico also donates nearly 10,000 Spanish-language school books a year to U.S. academic institutions and community centers, sends more than 100 teachers to the U.S. to teach summer classes and has a pilot program with the University of Texas to help immigrant students receive U.S. credit for classes they took in Mexico, among other programs. Gonzalez said the costs of most of those programs were mostly in-kind and did not have the numbers.
Sonia Jaramillo, who has helped coordinate Plaza Comunitaria programs through California's Monterey County Office of Education, says experiences like Ortiz's are common. Many of her adult students come in for the Mexican classes because they feel more comfortable, but they quickly move on to English, or even courses in parenting and computers.
In western Oregon, the Estacada School District is using the online classes not just for adults but to help immigrant teens keep up with other subjects as they learn English.
'There's all this curriculum online. It's interactive, it's pretty cool, and it's free,' said Joni Tabler, a former ESL teacher turned charter school principal. 'A lot of their curriculum is a lot higher level than what we teach.'
In St. Lucie County, along Florida's eastern coast, public school superintendent Michael Landon said the district was thrilled to receive crates of free textbooks from Mexico. They aren't part of the curriculum, but students can use them while they learn English or Spanish.
Across the state in Clearwater, near Tampa, the Mexican government has paid for several teachers to offer the young children of immigrants summer enrichment classes at a community center. On a hot summer day, the students skipped to the tune of traditional Mexican jigs before learning Spanish stories.
Juan Carlos Baldizar, 10, of Clearwater, was born in the U.S. but has shuttled between the two countries with his parents, both indigenous Mayans. He said the classes are cool because he learns 'new stuff about Mexico,' things his parents tried to tell him but he never really paid attention to, like the Mayan calendar.
Juan Carlos said being able to practice his written Spanish also helped him feel more comfortable at home and at school.
'If your mom was born in Mexico, and like the children are born in the United States, you have to learn two cultures,' he said. 'It's confusing sometimes.'
The Mexican government is not the only foreign government to provide educational assistance in the U.S. France, for instance, has provided resources for years, and Japan offers books and other materials through the Japanese Foundation.
But neither country supplies anywhere near the number of immigrants Mexico sends to the U.S. each year, and their target populations tend to be more affluent and better educated, making them far less likely targets for anti-immigration sentiment.
In St. Lucie, angry e-mails and letters to the editor bombarded the school following reports of the donated Mexican texts after some local media mistakenly reported the books were replacing standard Florida texts. The controversy eventually died down.
Tabler faced a similar backlash in Oregon, at least at first.
'We don't want to get into political issues. We just want to educate kids,' she said. 'And if the curriculum from Mexico is a good tool for us to be successful, then we're going to use it.'

High turnover rates of new Border Patrol agents

WOW! I think that most of the agents there are young and uncertain about what they want from BP. Also they might just realize what a failure the government has been or repent from joining having seen the sensitive side to immigration.

Patrol The Turnover
Pittsburgh Tribune Review,
September 22, 2008

The disturbingly high turnover rate of new U.S. Border Patrol agents -- about 30 percent of entry-level agents leave within the first 18 months -- suggests the underlying problems are at the highest levels of the government.
The Bush administration deserves credit for trying to fulfill its pledge of increasing the number of agents to 18,000 by the end of the year. That's up from 12,000 two years ago and double from eight years ago. It costs $14,700 to train just one person.
That means 42 percent of agents have been on the job for less than three years, according to The Associated Press.

The overall turnover rate was 10.9 percent since October 2007

Palin and immigration

I completely agree with Professor Hernandez that Gov. Palin is a joke, her interview with Katie Curic was very vague, to view the Blog Governor Palin's Mouth: and no it's not about Lipstick click here. I saw that interview and i was just so upset. She is not qualified. Now, when it comes to immigration, like everything else she will just say what McCain tells her to say. The drastic change of action from amnesty to border security first is what bothers me the most. We must stop this circus.


Where Does She Stand?

Palin and immigration

By Mark Krikorian

The Washington Times,

September 25, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin wowed Republicans with her convention speech. In addition to her life story, she expressed strong conservative views on lower taxes, national defense, and energy independence.
But what does she think about immigration? She said nothing about it, no doubt at the behest of the McCain campaign. And there doesn't seem to be anything on the record revealing her views — not on border security, not on legal immigration, nothing. The Hill newspaper quotes an immigration expert in Alaska as saying 'She's never made any statements. I don't recall really any positions that she's taken.'
Given Sen. John McCain's leading role, with Sen. Ted Kennedy, in pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens and increased legal immigration, this missing piece in Mrs. Palin's portrait has some otherwise-enthusiastic voters concerned.
Here are a few things we do know. Alaska has a 1,500-mile border with Canada, but immigration is not a major issue. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that the state has one of the smallest number of illegal immigrants, with fewer than 10,000 as of a few years ago, and one of the slowest growth rates in the illegal population. The total immigrant population isn't much bigger — the Center for Immigration Studies recently estimated that in 2007, there were only 39,000 foreign-born people in Alaska, legal and illegal combined, representing about 6 percent of the state population, less than half the immigrant share in the nation's population as a whole. Despite these small numbers, and despite data from the 2000 Census showing that Filipinos are by far the single biggest immigrant group in Alaska, the number of Mexican immigrants has grown enough that the Mexican government is set to open a Consulate this fall in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. According to the Congressional Research Service, the legislature in 2003 declared Alaska a sanctuary state, 'prohibiting state agencies from using resources or institutions for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws.' Alaska is also one of the few states that gives driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
But since she only became governor last year, and has been battling entrenched politicians and oil companies ever since, and since immigration issues just aren't that politically salient in Alaska in the first place, none of the above really tells us anything about Mrs. Palin's views.
As a seemingly traditionalist conservative, unlike her running mate, there's an expectation that she's hawkish on illegal immigration. And it's possible her lack of a paper-trail on what writer John O'Sullivan calls the 'National Question' — issues surrounding the coherence of our culture and the sovereignty of our Republic, like immigration, border security, bilingual education, and the like - may simply be a function of the normalness of her origins and surroundings: No one she knows wants to deconstruct America through open borders and multiculturalism, so she's never really had to think about it.
Gov. Sarah Palin with Sen. John McCain
It's certain that when pressed on the campaign trail, she will mouth the McCain position on immigration — but which McCain position? After his campaign's near-death experience last year due to his championing the biggest illegal-alien amnesty in American history, Mr. McCain has said he 'got the message' from the American people and now favors border security first (i.e., before moving on to the amnesty). But when pressed, it's abundantly clear he doesn't mean a word of it. Mr. McCain hasn't changed his mind about the need for enforcement so much as he's come to realize that the American people won't give him what he really wants — amnesty and increased immigration — unless he appears serious about enforcement.
This could be where Mrs. Palin comes in. She'd be much more believable selling 'border security first' to voters because she's more likely to actually believe it. But if the Republican ticket does win, Vice President Palin will have a decision to make next year, when Mr. McCain will again try to push through a massive amnesty, whether the border is secure or not. The White House will be tempted to exploit her credibility with the right to try to sell amnesty to conservatives. But given the unprecedented outpouring of opposition to last year's amnesty bill, it would be a serious mistake for her to agree to such a role, as it would undermine her own political viability in the future. Grass-roots enthusiasm about, say, a Palin-Jindal ticket in 2012 would be significantly dampened if she were to vigorously push the position that has caused Mr. McCain the greatest problems within his own party.
Barring a political blunder like this on her part, we probably won't learn Mrs. Palin's real views on immigration until she comes out from Mr. McCain's shadow, either after his loss in November or when she runs to succeed him.

BAD Rules in court for immigrants


Railroading Immigrants

The Nation
October 6, 2008
by David Bacon

A special Federal District court convenes every day at 1 pm in Tucson. All the benches, even the jury box, are filled with young people whose brown skin, black hair and indigenous features are common in a hundred tiny towns in Oaxaca or Guatemala. Their jeans, T-shirts and cheap tennis shoes show the dirt and wear from the long trek through northern Mexico, three days walking across the desert, and nights sleeping at the immigration detention center on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Presiding over one court session in June, Judge Jennifer Guerin called these defendants before her in groups of eight. They walked up in tiny waddling steps, heavy chains binding their ankles and wrists to their waists, and sat. Judge Guerin recited a litany of questions, translated into Spanish through headphones. "You've been charged with illegal entry, a criminal offense...at trial you would have the subpoena power of the court...you have certain rights," she intones. At the end she asks anyone who doesn't understand to stand up. No one does. She asks if they plead guilty. After a moment in which her question is translated, seventy voices mumble "Sí."

Leaving the courtroom a young woman stumbles, eyes streaked with tears. A public defender tells the judge her feet are covered with blisters from walking through the wilderness. A boy no older than 13 or 14 searches the room with his eyes as he's led away, perhaps seeking a friend or relative. No one seems older than 30, and most are much younger. They are today's border crossers--the mostly indigenous youth of southern Mexico and Central America...

for complete article:  http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081006/bacon

U.S. Activist Marcella Grace Eiler killed in Oaxaca

from Democracy Now

US Activist Killed and Raped in Mexico
September 29, 2008

In Mexico, police have arrested a man for raping and killing an American activist named Marcella Grace Eiler. She had spent time in Oaxaca as an international human rights observer, photographer, journalist and translator. She was also connected to Arizona Indymedia.

From Citizen Orange:

Marcella Grace Eiler - A Hero: Pro-Migrant Sanctuary Sphere

From the Unapologetic Mexican

The Goodness in the World
by nezua. written Sunday, September 28th, 2008 9:41 am

I WANTED TO WRITE TODAY OF MARCELLA GRACE EILER’S LIFE and not of her death. I wanted to talk about how she was young, only 20 years old and already interested in serving as protection for indigenous rights; of how she was from Eugene, Oregon. I wanted to write about what she was doing in Oaxaca and what kinds of things she was interested in, like teaching dance...

for link to complete post from Unapologetic Mexican, click here


Stephen King (the banker) on the U.S. Financial Crisis


Stephen King: In Mexico, they've seen it all before. And there are lessons for all of us

Monday, 29 September 2008

On a business trip to Mexico last week, I was talking to some local economists and financial experts. They know a thing or two about financial crises. Mexico, after all, has had more than its fair share of problems over the last 30 years, what with the Latin American debt crisis in the early Eighties and the "Tequila crisis" in the mid-Nineties.

Their view was simple. The US – and, for that matter, parts of Europe – is experiencing the kinds of problems associated with emerging economies. It is easy to see why. The sub-prime market is a market where creditors lend to very risky borrowers, in much the same way as investors have poured money into sometimes risky emerging markets.

The growth of the US sub-prime market, in turn, depended on the increased participation of foreign investors, many of whom snapped up mortgage-backed securities in ever-larger amounts. Judged by its widening current account deficit in recent years, the same is true in the UK, too. Emerging market bubbles, of course, are also associated with heightened foreign interest.

And, as banks and other financial institutions have seen their reputations shredded in recent months, some would argue that crony capitalism – which was rife in parts of Asia in the mid-Nineties in the run-up to the 1997 crisis – has also been widespread in the US. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spent approaching $200m (£108m) lobbying Washington to maintain a regulation-light environment for their mortgage businesses (intriguingly, one of the big recipients of campaign funds from the mortgage giants was Barack Obama).

The similarities, though, aren't just restricted to the experience of emerging economies. Worryingly, the US and UK experiences increasingly resemble Japan's economic and financial progress at the beginning of the 1990s.

It's often forgotten that, at the end of the Eighties, Japan was considered to be something of a miracle economy. Most economists thought Japan's output would be able to grow through the 1990s at a rate of between 3 and 4 per cent a year. With falling equity and land prices and with failing banks, these hopes floundered. As the decade progressed, Japan experienced an unwelcome dose of deflationary reality.

Despite all this historical evidence, there has been an institutionalised denial of financial dangers in the US, the UK and elsewhere in the industrialised world. Whether this reflects arrogance, hubris, feelings of Western "superiority" or plain stupidity, I don't know. What's clear, however, is that the warning signs stemming from the experiences of the emerging markets and of Japan were simply ignored.

At the heart of the problem is an insistence at the macroeconomic level on the pursuit of price stability without any real reference to other signs of economic imbalance. For much of the late Eighties, Japan successfully delivered price stability, yet this achievement didn't prevent Japan from having one of the biggest financial bubbles of all time. The tell-tale signs were there in the form of big increases in equity and land prices, but the Bank of Japan and others chose to ignore them. It was only later on, when equity prices were already falling, that the Bank of Japan really began to fret about inflation and, by that stage, the seeds of future deflation had already been sown. Much the same story applies to many of the Asian countries which succumbed to economic and financial collapse in 1997 and 1998. Before the meltdown, these countries ran budget surpluses. Their inflation rates were low. What could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, many Asian countries had borrowed heavily from abroad, reflected in widening current account deficits. The foreign inflows, in turn, were often invested in madcap property ventures. Sound familiar?

Then there are the similarities with Mexico's bubble in the Nineties. Mexico did well for all sorts of reasons at the beginning of the 1990s but one key source of external support was the advent of very low interest rates in the US, put in place by a Federal Reserve keen to deal with America's early-1990s credit crunch. Low interest rates encouraged capital to leave the US. Some of it ended up in Mexico, adding rocket fuel to the growth rate south of the border. In the end, the Mexican rocket exploded and the economy fell to earth.

Low interest rates have also played a role this time around. Following the collapse in stock prices in 2000 and 2001, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in response to the economic chill pervading company balance sheets. Having borrowed too much through the Nineties' boom, companies chose to repay debt. The Federal Reserve feared that a sudden increase in corporate saving might throw the US economy into protracted recession. But the consequence of lower US rates was not so much additional borrowing in Mexico but, extra borrowing from US households: at the margin, much of this additional borrowing was of the sub-prime category, providing a link with emerging market crises of old.

Spotting economic and financial bubbles is no easy task. To pretend, though, that bubbles are confined only to emerging markets, is plain folly. They are a persistent feature of capitalism, whether crony or otherwise. Some bubbles might arguably serve a useful purpose – technology-related bubbles, for example, help to steer resources into the most socially-useful areas of economic activity (railways in the mid-19th century, computers in the late 20th century). Others might not cause too much lasting damage, particularly if the authorities are able to clear up the mess in a bubble's aftermath.

Bubbles related to property, though, are almost always bad news. Whereas new technologies can add to the level of well-being, property speculation too often diverts resources away from welfare-enhancing projects towards short-term monetary gain.

Most emerging market crises are violent affairs, associated with savage losses of activity in the first one or two years. That's less likely in the US this time around because of the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency. Unlike most of the emerging economies, the US borrows from abroad in its own notes and coin. When things go wrong in the US (the housing crisis is currently the biggest single problem) it's initially a bigger challenge for the overseas creditor – who discovers that the domestic value of his dollar assets is beginning to decline – than for the domestic debtor.

But that story only works for a while. As foreign creditors have chosen to steer clear of US assets, so US banks have been left with all manner of toxic waste. The counterparty risk associated with this has been instrumental in explaining why the US financial system is today in such a parlous state, and why the US economy is now threatened with a multi-year period of low growth and high unemployment.

The Paulson plan is, in effect, a taxpayer bailout designed to protect the US banking system from the consequences of foreign aversion towards US assets. It's needed because the US has, for too long, survived through the sale of dodgy assets to unsuspecting foreign creditors. Might the US, then, be the world's largest emerging market in disguise?

Stephen King is managing director of economics at HSBC



On S 3594: from the ACLU


ACLU Applauds Senators Menendez and Kennedy for Bill to Protect U.S. Citizens from Unlawful Detention and Deportation (9/26/2008)

Long-awaited legislation establishes due process standards for immigration detention, raids and deportation

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced legislation to protect U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from being unlawfully detained and deported by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the wake of sweeping immigration raids that have devastated communities across the country, the ACLU welcomes this bill, S.3594, The Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act, as the first legislation to require DHS to follow due process standards in executing immigration raids.

“The Protect Citizens and Residents from Unlawful Raids and Detention Act is long overdue,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel. In recent years, immigration detention and deportation rates have grown exponentially: last year over 300,000 people were deported and over 30,000 people held in immigration detention daily. DHS’s immigration enforcement actions have been so sweeping and untargeted that they have ensnared U.S. citizens. Hundreds of U.S. citizens have been unlawfully detained by DHS, and at least one U.S. citizen was illegally deported to Mexico, a country he had never lived in. According to Lin, “These gross due process violations have occurred because there are no controls or regulations governing DHS’s conduct. This bill is a necessary antidote to DHS’s unchecked and unconstitutional immigration enforcement powers.”

The ACLU has sued DHS for illegal detaining and deporting people including U.S. citizens. One ACLU client, Pedro Guzman, a U.S. citizen born in California, was deported to Mexico in 2007. After he was deported, Mr. Guzman was forced to live on the streets, to bathe in rivers and to eat out of trash bins for several months before he was allowed to reenter his home country, the U.S. The ACLU of Southern California and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster have brought a damages action against DHS on behalf of Mr. Guzman and his mother.

"Local jail officials and federal immigration officers deported the undeportable, a United States citizen, based on appearance, prejudice and reckless failure to apply fair legal procedures," said ACLU of Southern California Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney for Pedro Guzman and his mother. “Local law enforcement officials should do the jobs they're trained for, not enforce complicated federal immigration laws. We don't use local officials to audit IRS returns or conduct foreign wars; that's why we have a federal government. The same applies to enforcement of immigration laws.”

In another lawsuit, the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center and the National Lawyers’ Guild sued DHS for systematically denying access to counsel to workers swept up in an immigration raid. In February 2008, ICE agents descended on the premises of a printer supply company in Van Nuys, California, temporarily shutting down operations. The ACLU and other lawyers offered to represent all the arrested workers, but ICE refused to let the workers consult with immigration attorneys, both at the worksite and later at the local ICE field office in the days following the raid. Some of the workers who tried to assert their right to counsel were intimidated by ICE agents into making incriminating statements.

The ACLU, NILC and NLG had no choice but to sue DHS for violating the workers’ right to consult with immigration counsel. In March 2008, DHS settled the case and allowed immigration attorneys to sit in on the workers’ interviews with ICE officers. The workers were represented by Ahilan Arulanantham, director of immigrants’ rights and national security at the ACLU of Southern California. According to Mr. Arulanantham, “ICE enforcement actions repeatedly violated the Constitution and federal law in this case. U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and others living in this country are entitled to a federal government that follows the law and due process.”

These ACLU lawsuits highlight the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation that curbs ICE’s unconstitutional raids, detention and deportation practices. To this end, this legislation would do the following:

Create due process protections, such as notification of immigration charges and access to counsel and phones, during immigration enforcement efforts;
Require DHS to implement regulations to ensure that immigration detainees are treated humanely;
Promote “alternatives to detention” programs that are more humane and cost-effective than traditional penal-style detention;
Establish an ICE ombudsman to investigate complaints and to create DHS accountability; and
Provide labor protections to ensure that ICE worksite raids do not undermine labor or employment law investigations.


Anti-Foreigner Party in Austria gaining power

Far right surges in Austria vote, instability looms

By Mark Heinrich
Reuters/Washington Post
Monday, September 29, 2008; 4:49 AM

VIENNA (Reuters) - The far right surged to almost a third of the vote in Austria's parliamentary election on Sunday, complicating prospects for the biggest mainstream party, the Social Democrats, to forge a stable coalition government.

The right's record showing heralded political instability in the affluent Alpine republic since the two main centrist parties will be hard put to re-establish a broad coalition even if they resolve the feuds that killed off their last alliance.

"Terrible," political analyst Anton Pelinka said of prospects for stable government in the near future.

"The strength of the far-right parties will make formation of a coalition incredibly difficult if you don't bring either into government," he told Reuters. Social Democrats have ruled out an alliance with the right over its anti-foreigner stances.

Preliminary official results showed the center-left Social Democrats at 30 percent and the conservative Peoples Party at 26 percent, down from 35 and 34 percent respectively in 2006.

It was the worst showing for both since World War Two.

But by retaining their status as the largest single party, the Social Democrats under Werner Faymann are expected to be asked by Austria's president to form the next government.

Heinz-Christian Strache's far right Freedom Party scored 18 percent, compared with 11 percent two years ago, while Joerg Haider's right-wing populist Alliance for Austria's Future was on 11 percent, almost tripling its vote haul in 2006.

The two parties were once one, before an acrimonious split in 2005. A major question now is whether the two might cooperate to bolster the right's case for a share of power.

The ecological Greens slipped to 10 percent from 11 percent.

A throaty roar filled the air in Freedom's election tent in Vienna when the results flashed on a screen, with the crowd -- mainly young and middle-aged men drinking beer -- punching the air and shouting "bravo."

"The Social Democrats and Peoples Party have been punished and rejected. And the Social Democrats will have to make clear why they are not at least ready to go into talks about other coalitions," said Strache, a former dental technician.

Asked by state television how he would proceed, Faymann said: "I stand by our 'no' to a coalition with Freedom or the Alliance. We want a stable government with a broad base..., not a squabbling government, which is what voters rejected."

The results did not include absentee and postal ballots, representing around 10 percent of voters. Final figures are due on October 6 but party rankings are unlikely to change.


Freedom and the Alliance lured away voters from both centrist parties by tapping into anger over government gridlock and proposing anti-inflation measures. The right also benefited from two leaders seen as the most engaging by ordinary people.

The two major parties' coalition collapsed in July after 18 months of deadlock that stymied promised economic reforms.

"The biggest winner is collectively the radical right ... but that doesn't mean they can come together in a political partnership," said Richard Luther, an expert on Austria at Keele University in Britain.

"I think a grand coalition (of the two biggest parties) is still the most likely, (but) it would be relatively weak in terms of its legitimacy," said Luther.

Pelinka said the conservatives might go tactically into opposition and wait for the Social Democrats to fail in creating another coalition. "But where would they begin?" he said.

Social Democrats feared any wooing of Freedom, best known for its anti-immigrant and anti-Islam campaigns, would shatter the party. A hook-up with the Greens would be more palatable, but not command a majority in parliament.

"This isn't a national catastrophe, it doesn't mean that Austria is a right-wing country. We knew this was coming," said Michel Palliardi, 33, who voted for the Social Democrats.

"A lot of this was in protest at the (outgoing) government. There is a sense of mistrust."

Freedom's first junior role in government so repelled the EU in 2000 that it briefly imposed sanctions on Austria. Strache wants to be interior minister and put a stop to immigration.

(additional reporting by Boris Groendahl and Sylvia Westall)

(Editing by Giles Elgood)
© 2008 Reuters



Governor Palin's Mouth: and no, it isn't about lipstick

Maybe I should be focusing on the financial bailout.  But Sarah Palin just keeps getting my attention.  She puts all American females to shame.  What were McCain and Co. thinking?  I know they were pressured by the Religious Right - but why go to such an extreme? In terms of the Couric interview,  my undergraduates would have come up with much more coherent answers.

The truth is, Obama is more educated and aware of the world around him.  Yet, I just don't know if anyone will really help - after watching the presidential debate on Friday (September 26th) I am totally convinced our political campaigning has turned into a charade.

What we really need to do is be much more careful about how we choose our Congressmen and Senators.  Our current president may be lacking in intelligence, but it has been the Congress that has let us down repeatedly these past 8 years.  

Palin is Ready! Please:  McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, that is simply not true.
Fareed Zakaria
From the magazine issue dated Oct 6, 2008

Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she finally agreed to a third interview. CBS's Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn't help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:

"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."

There is, of course, the sheer absurdity of the premise. Two weeks ago I flew to Tokyo, crossing over the North Pole. Does that make me an expert on Santa Claus? (Thanks, Jon Stewart.) But even beyond that, read the rest of her response. "It is from Alaska that we send out those …" What does this mean? This is not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. ("We mustn't blink.") But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly, gibberish.

Couric asked her a smart question about the proposed $700 billion bailout of the American financial sector. It was designed to see if Palin understood that the problem in this crisis is that credit and liquidity in the financial system has dried up, and that that's why, in the estimation of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, the government needs to step in to buy up Wall Street's most toxic liabilities. Here's the entire exchange:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN's Campbell Brown, have argued that it's sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that's causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.

Domestically, the bailout and reform of the financial industry will take years and hundreds of billions of dollars. Health-care costs, unless curtailed, will bankrupt the federal government. Social Security, immigration, collapsing infrastructure and education are all going to get much worse if they are not handled soon.

And the American government is stretched to the limit. Between the Bush tax cuts, homeland-security needs, Iraq, Afghanistan and the bailout, the budget is looking bleak. Plus, within a few years, the retirement of the baby boomers begins with its massive and rising costs (in the trillions).

Obviously these are very serious challenges and constraints. In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/161204