In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Fun Fact of the Day

From my immigration law reading:

For a fairly long time, the United States had a policy of entirely open borders, and didn’t regulate immigration much at all. When the first exclusion law was passed, Congress chose to bar two groups: Prostitutes and vagabonds.

This was even as open borders were applauded for their humanitarian and liberal values, serving, as George Washington urged, to make America an “asylum” for the “oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions.” Apparently, “prostitutes and vagabonds” never need a benevolent nation to shelter them.

One thing I’ve learned in law school: Oppression never gets old. And the same bottom-of-the-barrel groups just keep getting hit.

Hillary Clinton wants to eliminate due process for immigrants? What is this, bizzaro liberalism?

Although some are claiming her stance on immigration is preceded by years of anti-immigrant policy in the previous Clinton White House, I’m still totally flabbergasted by Hillary Clinton’s recent spate of comments calling for swift deportation of immigrants, with no due process. Until today, I was still not completely decided on who I wanted to vote for in the primary next Tuesday. There are a lot of things I actually like about Clinton: I’m more impressed with her take on universal health care, and I strongly believe in the need for a woman in the White House someday soon. But unless this is a hoax, or there’s some explanation that convinces me it’s all wildly misconstrued, there is now a 0% chance I will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The New York Sun is known for having a somewhat neocon bent, but they’re far from being Fox News or the Post. Unless they’re flat-out lying, this is not a single slip of the tongue or ill-considered comment we’re talking about here. Keep in mind this is Hillary Clinton we’re talking about here. She’s not only a very savvy political operative who’s not known for making absurd slip-ups, she’s also been a lawyer for the last 35 years, and started her law career interning at a civil rights firm. But nevertheless, she said these things on three different occasions to three different audiences:

“Anybody who committed a crime in this country or in the country they came from has to be deported immediately, with no legal process. They are immediately gone…”

“[Aliens with criminal records] should be deported, no questions asked.”

[About illegal aliens who have committed crimes] “No legal process. You put them on a plane to wherever they came from.”

She apparently wants to put immigration lawyers out of business, not to mention public defenders who represent non-citizens. I can’t believe she’d toss due process out the window, even to earn points with certain audiences for being “tough on immigration.” Pandering is no excuse for taking a torch to the Fifth Amendment! Isn’t due process part of what’s supposed to set Democrats apart from the Constitution-burning Bush administration? Aren’t liberals supposed to be concerned about the abuses at Guantanamo, about prisoners being locked up or tortured with no fair trial, just because they’re not citizens or suspected of a crime? This is serious facepalm territory we’re in at this point.

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How dare you mistrust our rich white gay men?

Guess what? Time for another post about ENDA, the bitter controversy that refuses to die! But first, let’s review, shall we?

A couple of months ago, the US House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would grant limited forms of protection to gay people… at least as long as they don’t “act gay.” As Jill noted at the time, it was a pretty Pyrrhic victory. Even the sponsor of the bill, veteran gay congressman Barney Frank, suggested that a presidential veto was likely, and that one of the real reasons to pass it was to try and soften up Congress — to get them used to voting for LGBT rights. Unfortunately, Frank also found it was necessary to throw trans people to the wolves as part of this effort to create a kinder, gentler, gay-friendlier Congress. Discarding trans rights into a pit full of rabid, conservative lupines is a habit Frank has acquired over the years by repeatedly talking about how freaky it would be if trans people and non-trans people had to share showers. (It’s worth noting that I’ve never actually heard any trans advocate suggest what Frank is so nervous about.)

Since then, there’s been a huge amount of bitterness over the decision by Frank and Nancy Pelosi, with the backing of the most powerful gay lobby in the country, the HRC, to go forward with the non-inclusive ENDA. Prominent trans activists working with the HRC felt compelled to resign. The HRC put out a jaw-droppingly tone-deaf PR plan to win back the hearts of the trans community. Pretty much every trans person who was paying attention to this debacle felt that it was far too little, far too late. Here in New York, HRC representatives were publicly excoriated at the local LGBT center by a crowd of activists, trans and non-trans alike, and picketed by a few dozen silver-haired veteran queer activists outside the heavily symbolic Stonewall Bar.

But now, apparently, a trans activist has really crossed the line, to paraphrase the headline of an editorial just posted by Kevin Naff. Naff is the editor of the Washington Blade, the nation’s second-largest gay paper:

The recent remarks by Meredith Bacon, president of the board of the National Center for Transgender Equality, denouncing the Human Rights Campaign’s handling of the ENDA debate, serve as a vivid and disappointing reminder of why the trans movement hasn’t progressed as far as the gay rights movement.

“[A]s the chair of the NCTE Board of Directors, I can assure all who read this blog that NCTE will not work with HRC in the foreseeable future, until the current leadership is completely purged, and until we are convinced that, unlike its predecessors, any new HRC leadership is totally committed to working for transgender rights,” Bacon wrote.

“As long as HRC is controlled by and is dependent upon white, rich, professional gay men, such collaboration may never occur,” she wrote.

Her comments are offensive, counterproductive and totally unacceptable. She should either retract those comments and apologize or be removed from her position post-haste if her organization is to retain any credibility whatsoever in the gay rights movement.

Now that… that is over the line! How dare she… how does she think she can get away with this kind of “name-calling,” as Naff puts it? You know, calling people nasty names lke “white,” and “rich,” and “professional gay men.” No wait, that can’t be what he means. Everyone KNOWS the HRC is beholden to affluent, mostly-white gay folks; they provide the money, they influence the agenda. Nobody even bothers to argue otherwise. It’s how most of the large non-profits in this country work.

Maybe the point is this: how dare Bacon claim that rich white men won’t eventually come back to help other oppressed people! It’s a totally offensive assumption, and wounds the sensitive feelings and dignity of rich white professional liberal dudes everywhere, whether they’re gay or not! I mean, the HRC and its overlords are totally liberal, I mean progressive, and will always fight for the little guy, right? It’s not like the HRC endorses Republican candidates who oppose reproductive rights, affirmative action, and perform racist caricatures of Asians. Oh, oops. They DID do that. But it’s not like the HRC supported the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize Social Security. Oh, oops. They did that too, in exchange for promises that gay partners might be able to receive benefits in a privatized program. Oh yeah, you can totally trust those Bush adminsitration guys. Just like you can trust the HRC, apparently.

How dare she say that her organization won’t trust the HRC anymore? It’s appalling, this lack of trust, and she ought to be removed from her position, or none of you trannies will ever work in this town again, I say! Harrumph, harrumph. Can’t have these people insulting the rich white professional men now, now can we? Absolutely improper. Totally unacceptable.

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Opportunism, thy name is Huckabee

Or, “There’s nothing that can’t be blamed on Mexicans.”

DES MOINES — Mike Huckabee used the volatile situation in Pakistan Friday to make an argument for building a fence on the American border with Mexico and found himself trying to explain a series of remarks about Pakistanis and their nation.

On Thursday night he told reporters in Orlando, Fla.: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”

On Friday, in Pella, Iowa, he expanded on those remarks.

“When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he told reporters in Pella. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.”

In fact, far more illegal immigrants come from the Philippines, Korea, China and Vietnam, according to recent estimates from the Department of Homeland Security.

Asked how a border fence would help keep out Pakistani immigrants, Mr. Huckabee argued that airplane security was already strong, but that security at the southern United States border was dangerously weak.

“The fact is that the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce or make beds, it’s about someone coming with a shoulder-fired missile,” he said.

Yeah, all those people crawling across the Sonoran desert in the 120-degree heat are really Pakistani terrorists armed with shoulder-launched RPGs and anti-aircraft missiles. Be sure to check the maid for plastique, and make sure the gardener isn’t putting in land mines.


Some mildly good news

… so it turns out that U.S. employers are not going to be forced to fire millions of employees. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to crack down on anyone whose records don’t match up properly, which is like firing a shotgun into a crowd because you think there might be a bad bad man hiding somewhere in there. Who cares if some other misfits and collaborators get hit? Oh wait, that’s standard operating procedure for our government already, isn’t it? From the National Center for Transgender Equality:

The DHS rules would have required employers to either fire employees or face stiff penalties when employee records do not match information in the Social Security Administration (SSA) database, such as name, Social Security number, or gender. Transgender employees who are listed as one gender in SSA records, but who live and work in another gender, would have been one of the groups at greater risk of losing their jobs as a result of the DHS enforcement procedures.

Of course, the DHS is not actively trying to get trans people fired; they couldn’t care less about trans people. They’re going after immigrants who are working with false or fudged records. Trans people are just collateral damage. Still, with so many trans people out there unable to change their “official” gender because of absurdly strict federal policies, it makes sense that NCTE and other trans groups signed onto efforts led by immigration and labor groups to stop this madness. Forcing employers to fire people? Last month, a judge agreed with the concerns brought up in the lawsuit against these rules, and now the DHS is retreating to come up with new policies that they hope will stand up better under legal scrutiny. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean some end-run that allows them to require firing or fines, but I’m sure that’s their intention.

This saga, along with other stuff around the federal “Real ID” and other broad-crackdown measures following the lead of the PATRIOT Act, is a really good example of why we all need to band together to fight against increasingly totalitarian “security” restrictions. It’s not just intersectionality, although there are definitely a ton of trans immigrants out there, for instance, who have a doubly difficult time making their way through the system. It’s that the jackbooted “security sweeps,” even if they’re just bureaucratic maneuvering and fines at this point, are squarely aimed at anyone whose papers aren’t in order. At any sign of unorthodox activities or behavior. That’s a shotgun firing at a whole lot of us.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that these new harsher rules were blocked, the Social Security Administration still has a policy of sending out “no match” letters to employers when there’s some mismatch between federal government records and an employee database. I’m not sure what the regulations are around how large an employer must be before having to submit employee records (is it all employers who file W-4s?) — and I’m one of the lucky few who has all of my records in matching order. But this is the kind of thing that keeps many immigrants, along with trans people and others, working in the cash economy. A letter to an employer can out a trans person when details of their gender are not relevant to their job at all, and some employers think it’s completely fine to just fire a trans person for this kind of mismatch. Other trans people have had their drivers’ licenses revoked due to this kind of federal-overmind “make sure nothing fishy’s going on” procedure.

U.S. Immigration Enforcement Finally Preaches What it Practices

Julie Myers, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, apparently thinks that blackface is “original.”

Myers, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ran into trouble earlier this month after she and two other agency managers gave the “most original” costume award to a white employee who came to the agency’s Halloween party dressed as an escaped prisoner with dreadlocks and darkened skin.

The incident drew complaints of racial insensitivity and an apology from Myers. It also cast doubt on whether she’ll get a confirmation vote before the end of the year, when her original appointment expires.

It would be a stunning collapse for Myers, 38, a native of Shawnee, Kan., who worked hard over the past two years to convince skeptical lawmakers that someone with little immigration experience was up to the task of running the government’s second largest investigative force.

With just a few more weeks to go before the end of the session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not scheduled a vote on Myers. Spokesman Jim Manley said this week that Reid has “serious concerns” with the nomination and is consulting with other lawmakers about how to proceed.

Myers met resistance in 2005, the first time President Bush tried to appoint her to the Homeland Security Department post, after Democrats and Republicans said she had weak credentials for the high-profile job. To avoid a fight, Bush installed her during a Senate recess and her position expires at year’s end unless the Senate votes to confirm her.

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Are women’s rights human rights?

One immigration court says no.

When Alima Traore was a young girl in Mali, parts of her genitalia were cut off, which is the custom there.

“In my country, usually there is an old lady who does circumcision,” said Ms. Traore, who is 28, lives in Maryland and works as a cashier. “They have a small knife that they cut the intimate parts with. It is very atrocious.”

In September, the Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Ms. Traore’s plea for asylum and ordered her sent back to Mali. It ruled that she did not face persecution there, because the cutting, while “reprehensible,” could not be repeated. “The loss of a limb also gives rise to enduring harm,” the board said, but it would not be a good enough reason to grant asylum.

The board also said that Ms. Traore’s fear that any daughters she might have would be subjected to similar barbarity was of no moment. Nor did it matter that Ms. Traore’s father has said he will force her to marry a first cousin — his sister’s son.

The woman had parts of her genitals cut off, is being forced into marriage, fears her daughter will also be forced to undergo genital cutting, and will face serious consequences if she refuses forced marriage — but that isn’t enough to justify an asylum claim, because there isn’t a “risk of identical future persecution” (the full decision can be found here). I’m with Bonnie Goldstein:

In this latest case, however, the board stubbornly reasserted its earlier interpretation and rejected the higher court’s reasoning. It also took a hard line against Ms. Traore’s secondary plea that if returned to her village, she will be forced into marriage with her first cousin. “It is understandable that … an educated young woman would prefer to choose her own spouse rather than acquiesce to pressure from her family to marry someone she does not love and with whom she expects to be unhappy” (Page 5), the board concluded. But “we do not see how the reluctant acceptance of family tradition over personal preference can form the basis for a witholding of removal claim” (Pages 5 and 6). Nor could Ms. Traore prove, the board said, that her father, who stated in a letter that she must enter the arranged marriage “to uphold the reputation of our family” (Page 6), would take severe action if the wedding failed to occur. The board’s basis for believing this was that Ms. Traore’s father did not spell out what the anticipated punishment would be. Score another victory for traditional family values.

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Black Sheep

Hey look, right-wing xenophobic anti-immigrant assholes are assholes in other countries too!

The posters taped on the walls at a political rally here capture the rawness of Switzerland’s national electoral campaign: three white sheep stand on the Swiss flag as one of them kicks a single black sheep away.

To Create Security,” the poster reads.

The poster is not the creation of a fringe movement, but of the most powerful party in Switzerland’s federal Parliament and a member of the coalition government, an extreme right-wing party called the Swiss People’s Party, or SVP. It has been distributed in a mass mailing to Swiss households, reproduced in newspapers and magazines and hung as huge billboards across the country.

The poster:


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