Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · The fall out of bad immigration...
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The fall out of bad immigration laws

Anne Stanton - February 14th, 2011
The fall-out of bad immigration laws: Farmers and migrants both suffer heartache
By Anne Stanton
Eighteen years ago, the nation’s immigration law made it fairly easy for a farmer to hire migrant workers and simple enough for the workers to live in the United States legally. But current regulations amount to a “monstrous buzz saw” with a disastrous fall-out for everyone, said Old Mission Peninsula farmer Josh Wunsch.
Good farmers are stable people who require a strong team and the involvement of skilled knowledgeable people. Yet there are 8 million workers without acceptable documents, Wunsch said, quoting a policy statement from the American Farm Bureau.
He passionately argues for change.
The only legally viable way to hire a farm worker from outside the U.S. is through the H-2A program. In order to qualify, a farmer must “test the labor market” in accordance with federal regulations, which mandates, among a litany of other requirements, that the farmer register an advertisement with the state workforce agency, as well as publish ads in specific media with a specific dimension for a certain number of days, and to offer the federally determined prevailing wage for the specific job, said Traverse City attorney Joanna Kloet, who specializes in immigration issues.

There are numerous timelines and response deadlines to track. If, and only if, a qualified American doesn’t apply for the job, can the farmer hire a foreign worker.
But there’s an expensive caveat. Let’s say that a farmer goes through all the regulations and ultimately does hire an immigrant worker. If an American shows up halfway through the work season and says he or she wants the immigrant’s job, the farmer must hire the American and fire the immigrant worker and then pay the airfare back to the immigrant’s home country. This is on top of paying for the flight into this country and 100% of housing costs, Kloet said.
Larger corporations, such as those that run confined animal feeding operations can afford to abide by the regulations, but smaller farmers—such as those in Northwest Michigan—find it extremely difficult and expensive. Wunsch said that trying to abide by the program is like “pouring money into a rat hole.”
“After months and months of lead time, we still don’t get the workers, who, by the way, we have never laid eyes on and who have no experience. The program is so impossible, and we have to spend impossible sums of money to get us to absolutely nowhere. The system has finally become, don’t ask, don’t tell. If a 22-year-old comes to me, shows me his green card, I have to accept it on faith that it’s authentic, and I don’t find out whether or not it is, until the next spring when the Social Security office tells me they have a mismatched number.”

The H-2A program isn’t great for the workers either—they can only work for the specific employer once inside the country and aren’t allowed to follow the picking season from farm to farm. Yet the migrant system has worked for decades, Wunsch said.
“This group that we are so fond of denigrating and seeing as some kind of threat, this group has been very good at moving from spot to spot to spot according to where the work is, that’s why we call them migrant workers. They show up when they’re needed, and vanish to the next gig when the need has ended--a unique and undervalued dimension of that skill set,” Wunsch said.
The country’s insistence on booting out 8 million undocumented workers ignores the fact that 300 million people still need to nourish themselves with 900 million meals a day while maintaining a high standard of living and low prices, Wunsch said.
Every bad law has its fall-outs, and one in particular has to do with love, Wunsch said.
Young, undocumented workers often fall in love with their American friends. Wedding bells ring and children come into the picture—children who are legal U.S. citizens, living with at least one illegal parent, and who live under the fear and threat of an imminent raid by immigration police.
To obtain legal status, the undocumented parent must pay an attorney large sums of money to petition for U.S. citizenship. But here’s the catch. Because the parent entered the country illegally, he or she must go back to their home country and remain there for up to 10 years, depending on how long they lived in this country illegally (it’s called the unlawful presence bar). There are rare exceptions to this rule, Kloet said.
It’s possible to get an extreme hardship waiver, and, unfortunately, the court rarely takes into consideration the presence of children (growing up without a parent) as an extreme hardship, Kloet said.
If a Mexican or any foreigner, for that matter, has left and re-entered this country illegally more than once, the 10-year bar cannot be waived.
Another challenge: immigration fates are not decided in a regular federal courthouse with an impartial judge. Instead these cases go to an immigration court, which is run by the Department of Justice. The prosecutor, arguing for the immigrant’s deportation, is employed by Homeland Security. Both agencies are in the purview of the executive branch, i.e., under the supervision of the U.S. attorney general. Thus, the adjudication can become very political. In these cases, the undocumented worker has no right to an attorney at government expense, and, frankly, most can’t afford the $200 an hour attorney fees, Kloet said.

The immigration issue is huge and complex, which is perhaps why Congress has been paralyzed except for voting down The Dream Act, which would have given legal residency to immigrants who arrived in this country before the age of 16, have lived here for at least five years, graduated from high school, and completed two years of college or honorable military service. Notably, these candidates would still be barred from citizenship if they have a criminal record and wouldn’t be eligible for federal grant scholarships.
Americans living in border states have suffered from organized crime and mayhem as a result of networks of “coyotes” transporting undocumented workers. The influx of huge numbers of migrant workers has bankrupted hospitals and schools, and has changed the entire culture and sense of security in border towns.
These problems seem far away to Northern Michigan, which has relatively small numbers of migrants compared to Arizona or Texas.
But that’s not to say that migrant workers are unimportant to Northern Michigan farmers who need them, nor to the greater economy. Wunsch and his son sat down with pen and paper and calculated that a year’s worth of migrant labor generates $30,000 worth of public revenue. The analysis is lengthy, but to summarize, there is additional labor attached to 800 pounds of cherries picked daily, including transportation, refrigeration, processing, packaging, shipping, and retailing of the cherries, not to mention taxation and government regulation.
“Those involved with the production of the food supply represent less than 2 percent of the population, and yet at the same time, in Michigan, 20% to 25% of the jobs are somehow related to the end of the food production process. The assumption that a person, with or without legal status, is taking someone else’s job is false. The reality is they are creating jobs. They don’t take jobs, they make jobs,” Wunsch said

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