Skip to main content

There’s a piece in the September 21 New York Times about waves of legislation beginning in California to expand the social integration of non-citizens, partially in response to the Republican Party being held hostage by its extreme right wing in the matter of comprehensive immigration reform, as in everything else.

The title of this diary is meant ironically, and those who are looking for legal advice to maintain some kind of structural xenophobia should go elsewhere.  After all, I am of American Indian descent, and if you get me started on immigration, you may not like where the conversation would end up.

No, I’d like to make a suggestion that is so futile I can’t write it without smiling: issue-by-issue pragmatism.   You are on notice that you may have to suppress your giggles below the fleur-de-kos, because I’m proceeding as if the xenophobic elephant were not sitting right over there on the sofa.

The license to drive a car should be the ultimate no-brainer, not just for non-citizens but even for undocumented non-citizens.  Does nobody remember when he or she did not have a license?

The purpose of the license is not to benefit the driver.  It’s to benefit those of us who must share the roads with the driver.

First, the test is supposed to guarantee a minimal level of competence in the operation of a motor vehicle.  You over there—on the floor, holding your ribs—I said minimal.

Second, the license bureau is one of the choke points to check for liability insurance, to give us some protection if the quality of driving was not completely up to snuff.

Third, the physical address on a license gives an investigator a jumping off place to track an individual down and the identification requirements at the front end of the process give us some sense of with whom we are sharing the roads we would not otherwise have.  Ask any police detective whether it is better to find a license with the wrong address or no identification at all.

The purpose here is a benefit that flows in both directions.  State supported schools are cheaper for those whose local taxes have funded the schools and graduates tend to earn more money and pay more of those taxes in the future.

I see no persuasive reason why residence requirements should be based on citizenship, since everybody pays those local taxes one way or the other.  Sales taxes directly; property taxes indirectly.  While undocumented non-citizens don’t pay income taxes, neither do most teenage citizens.

This is not about citizenship but rather about residence.  Don’t beat up immigrants from Bangladesh any worse than you would immigrants from North Dakota.

It’s a profession, folks.  If you think those people practicing law or any other profession need to be protected from immigrant competition to keep their fees high, then by all means protect them.

I know how you love to pay high fees.

There are licensing requirements for professions as well as continuing education requirements and professional discipline systems.  These exist to protect the public from incompetent or dishonest professionals without regard to citizenship.  If they don’t do the job, you need to fix them.

In short, if you want to protect the public, make sure the regulations to protect the public are strong.

If you want to protect the profession…whatever.

Are you kidding me?

Do we ask the Carter Center to only send citizens out as election monitors?

Would you have trusted Mississippi to clean up its own elections in 1961?


Poll watchers are not allowed to touch.  They only document.  Hopefully, they record and photograph.  It’s better that they not know the people they are watching.  

In this case, I don’t understand the objection.

In this case, I do understand the objection.

The objection is both formal and practical.  The formal part is troublesome.

The Sixth Amendment provides:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law….
The Seventh Amendment provides for a trial by jury in civil federal cases, although it’s not specific about where the jurors should come from.

Many states have analog provisions, criminal and civil.  But the practical objections seem to me more troublesome than the formal objections.

In the United States, the jury is a formidable cultural counterweight to the inbred habits of the legal profession.  Sometimes we don’t like how that plays out and sometimes we do, but that is a function of juries, and it’s one of the major reasons why we have juries.

We demand a lot of jurors we don’t demand of ordinary people.  For example, in most states jurors are required to be fluent in English, because it is the language of the courtroom just as it is the language of airplane cockpits.

We have empowered juries in so many ways.  Juries tell us what is obscene.  Juries tell us what is fair.  Juries tell us what is too loud.  Juries tell us what is reasonable.

When juries speak for us in these ways, they speak with as much a sense of permanence and commitment as legislators.  They are the community, the inside defining the community for the outside.

But as long as I am indulging a pretense of pragmatism, let me say that I, like most trial court judges, have spent most of my career pulling and tugging to get enough warm body citizens into the jury box to hear the cases on my docket.

Until I can accomplish that without breaking a sweat, it will be difficult for me to support turning away any honest person who is willing to serve.  Please give that bit of practicality some thought the next time you receive a jury summons and you have something better to do, as you always will.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  For good or for ill, (3+ / 0-)

    California generally points the way, doesn't it?

    With the passage of Prop 13 in the 1970s, we basically laid the groundwork, among other things, for the Reagan Revolution and "austerity."

    I like to think that changes Gov. Brown is currently inaugurating are a happier bellwether.

    Sounds like you're a good judge, one I'd like to go in front of.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 05:56:53 AM PDT

  •  OMG, you had me at (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, happy camper, slowbutsure

    "After all, I am of American Indian descent, and if you get me started on immigration, you might not like where the conversation would end up."

    I howled b/c, of course, you're correct. We are ALL of us illegal immigrants, from a Native American perspective.

    BTW, can anyone tell me how to cut & paste quotes? It used to be easy...then my computer died. Now I'm renting a Win8 machine, and downloaded the newest Firefox, and there isn't even an Edit tab at the top.


    I really, really miss Windows XP. 8 sux.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 06:03:41 AM PDT

  •  Citizenship is a bundle of obligations. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Joy of Fishes, slowbutsure

    It's not a privilege. The people who have been clamoring to make it a privilege are merely looking for some category that will let them discrimiante and segregate without being charged with racism, sexism, ageism or homophobia. Zenophobia is not a nice word, either, but the Constitution makes a distinction between foreign born and native born, so the segregationists thought they had a winner with which to counter the Supreme Court decision that the Constitution requires equal treatment of persons within its jurisdiction, regardless of where they were born.
    See, even though the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn't passed, the Hamdan and Boumedien decisions made it pretty clear that treatment is a governmental obligation and the prohibition of unequal or abusive treatment applies to agents of government. Which is why registrars of various sorts are issuing marriage licenses regardless of gender and why, though it hasn't been litigated, the issuance of a license to drive on any basis other than the applicant's ability and physical aptitude (blind people need not apply) is contrary to the equal treatment demands.

    As Justice Kennedy propounds, "the issuance of a permit is not a matter of grace."  If the application has been properly filled in, it must come out. Moreover, once a service has been provided, it can't be taken away. That would be deprivation of a property right.
    ALEC has done us a service in highlighting how important law making is and alerting us to the fact that the legislature is not a good venue for scofflaws.

  •  I would much prefer my fellow motorists (4+ / 0-)

    to know the required stopping distance at speed than all of the presidents in order.

    You surprised me greatly with jury duty, but your argument is hard to refute from a practical view.

    Recommended with pleasure.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 06:53:07 AM PDT

  •  This: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, slowbutsure
    if you get me started on immigration, you may not like where the conversation would end up

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 08:30:08 AM PDT

  •  Good diary, but I can't recommend or tip... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, navajo

    ...because of the headline. I know how you meant it, but it has the same negative impact as the use of other racial and ethnic slurs.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 09:36:46 AM PDT

    •  And your basis... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      for not thinking other Kossacks are as smart as you is...?

      This is a serious question.  If you look at the dates on my diaries, I have one back in the dark ages and a lot of new activity.  I'm a newbie.  If my audience lacks sophistication, I need to know.

      •  I've read all your diaries and find some of them.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, navajo

        ...interesting, this one included. But the use of "nigger" or "injun" or "chink" in headlines, at a site which includes a broad range of readers (many quite sophisticated politically and others who are rookies) is problematic.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:22:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

          I have been told there's a way to teach the Civil Rights Movement without uttering the N word.  That has never worked for me.

          Every other semester, some pissant would gin up a head of steam about it....which would quickly dissipate when I whipped out my rap sheet.

          The point was not that my trips to the jug privileged use of the word, but rather I was describing a lived reality and my critic was being offended by a rumor.

          Anyway, I pick "wog" for a serious purpose in the body of my work every now and then, and this is one of those times.  It plugs into some hilariously racist folklore from the days when the Brits thought they were the Chosen People but it stands no chance of offending anyone in the 21st century US.  The purpose is to make fun of those who treat immigrants as "wogs" in the sense scientologists would use the world, but I must confess to a lack of concern for offending scientologists.

          I don't recall ever using any of the words you cite in headlines.  If I did, I would be reaching for humor and I expect I'd better grasp it in that case.

          I do appreciate you reading my stuff.  I see you've been around a while and I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing here.  The person who got me to post that first diary pestered me for years to "establish a presence on Kos."  I guess I'm in that process now.  

          •  This isn't a classroom, which is a very ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...controlled environment.

            Moreover, "wog" is still used in Britain, and my step-son and -daughter, who now live in Manchester, England, and Los Angeles, but were raised in Libya, are quite familiar with the term. So, it's not just a relic.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 11:39:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Which was why I was asking you (0+ / 0-)

              about the audience.  I'm new here and uncertain whether I ought to be here.  My friend thinks people will read me here who influence policy and she thinks that would be good.

              Wog still has negative connotations in Australia.  I thought it was a in joke among educated people in the UK.  Hell, I KNOW it is among profs.

              There is folklore, completely debunked, but calling up images of the dudes in white suits being served tea and chatting about matters completely out of touch with what is happening around them....kind of like those who think a license to drive legally is some kind of boon for which an immigrant prays before going to bed every night.

              While it's not that, one of my earliest run-ins with the real world I'm trying to represent here was watching a young man get summarily deported---separated from his US citizen wife and US citizen baby and hauled off in irons--for running a fucking red light!  And all I could do for the kid was make the jailers let him kiss his family goodbye.

              I guess it's good that judges don't get drunk with power, but I wish I had had just a little snort of it on that occasion.  It the boy had a license, the whole fiasco would have been a $50 traffic ticket or a defensive driving course and I wouldn't be stuck with the memory of his wife and baby 35 years later.

              And, yes, this is a classroom.  Or if it's not, I don't belong here, because teaching and learning are what I do, and they are all I do.  Those are the reasons I write.  If there is nobody to teach and/or no way to get feedback so I can learn from others and from my own errors, then what's the point?  There's no money on the table and I first saw my name in print at age 15, so the thrill is not what it used to be.

              University teaching was my second career, and I've only been tenured twice, so I'm no major authority, but I've never considered a classroom to be "a very controlled environment."

              The very best classrooms manage to stay a notch away from chaos, and I always had lesson plans, but my best days had nothing to do with the lesson plans.

              I'm not sure it's realistic to think you can engage intellect without engaging emotion.  I'm OK using the anger generated by the N word.

              In this case, I keep asking myself who it is I'm addressing in this diary who will not get the joke in the headline?

              In the alternative, let's say they don't get the joke and they are pissed off.  Then they have to read the diary so they can complain to the management about the abusive nature of the headline.  Then, they get the joke, right?

              I guess I am refusing to entertain the possibility that there is a reader out there who might be persuaded to take a more pragmatic stance on immigration issues and influence the government in that direction but would be put off even reading my argument by the headline.  That is an egregious error if it's an error.

              That's my concern.

              If your concern is that the headline makes Kos appear to be a hotbed of racism, I don't share that concern.  I would like to know the geographical distribution of Kossacks, if it's knowable, but from the diaries I've read in the short time I've been here, I don't see a lot of folks inclined to go off half-cocked, so having a lot of Aussies or Brits would not change my opinion.  I still think they would read before freaking out.

              •  You have to write what's in your heart... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ...But I guarantee you that if you continue to put racial slurs in headlines—no matter what your intent—it will bite you. The vast majority of users here respond negatively to doing this. That includes everybody from tenured professors of ethnic studies to freshmen college students who may never have thought about racism.

                A classroom, even the biggest ones, have a few hundred or maybe, in some freshmen 101 courses, a thousand students in them. Compared with a website that has tens of thousands of users and even more lurkers, those classrooms are very controlled environments.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 12:49:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  so, I learned a new racial slur word today (0+ / 0-)

    on dailykos. Thanks. Is that good or bad to have learned that?

    "It's what you do, not what you say, that makes your nation" - some dude

    by mimi on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 06:57:42 PM PDT

    •  Er, it's more complicated... (0+ / 0-)

      Ask Prof. Google to tell you the story about "Worthy Oriental Gentlemen."  Just don't take it too seriously....

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site