Author Archives: jwcham

Mexican Immigration and a Dominica Visa

All the hoorah about immigration on the Mexican border reminds me of an immigrant visa case I had as vice consul in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  A woman who was boon on the island of Dominca and who lived in Brazil was applying for an immigrant visa to join her mother who lived in the United States.  At this time, the 1970s, the US quota for immigrant visas for people born in Dominica was quite small, about 200, I think.

This woman was on the list when she first applied; there were still available visa numbers.  However, she was slow in getting her visa application together, which involved taking a medical exam, proving that she could support herself in the US, so that she would not be a public charge, getting a labor certification proving that she would displace an American worker, and so on.

When she finally got her application together, all the visa numbers for the Dominica quota had been used up, and she was no longer eligible for an immigrant visa.  She went into hysterics in my office.  She was crying, screaming, and trashing around.  I thought I was going to have to call the police to take her away.  After an hour or so of trying to calm her down, she finally left.

Today, if she lived in Mexico or Central America, rather than Brazil, she could just walk into the United States, join her mother and go to work.  Whether she would receive welfare, take an American’s job, or even go into the drug business, is irrelevant.  Public opinion just wants her to be happy.  So, the favored immigration policy seems to be “Don’t worry, be happy!”  America is an open country.  Anybody who wants to can come.  If it turns out you are a murderer or a drug dealer, we can worry about that later.

I don’t buy it.  I think the US should and can choose who it wants to move to this country permanently.  We don’t have to take everybody.  We can set limits and standards and enforce them.  I feel badly for the immigration officers who are charged with enforcing the existing laws.  The public portrays them as heartless villains for doing their jobs.  It reminds me of when I came home from the war in Vietnam and the general depiction of Vietnam veterans was as baby killers.  This is a country that vilifies public servants for doing their job.

I support the enforcement of immigration laws, but I appear to be in the  minority.  If we want no immigration laws, repeal them all and abolish the Department of Homeland Security.  I have never like the name “Homeland” anyway; to me it has a Nazi connotation because of its similarity to “heimat” which Wikipedia says is equivalent to “Vaterland,” the homeland of the German nation, people or tribe.


NYT Article Inadvertently Confirms Trump’s Claims

In the article “With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Thories to Erode Trust,” the NYT actually strengthens Trump’s claims and undermines its own credibility.  The article seems to emphasize the difference between a “spy” and an “informant.”  To most people, including me, this is not an important distinction.  In fact most descriptions of Halper’s activities by the liberal press (NYT), claim that he was investigating Russia’s activities (spying on a foreign power), not the Trump campaign (informing on political activities).  Thus, from the liberal viewpoint there is more justification for calling him a spy that from the conservative viewpoint.

So far, press reports have not made clear what Halper was doing.  There was a big meeting between the administration and Congressional representatives to discuss what he was doing.  The Democrats objected to Trump’s lawyer’s presence.  This objection seems inappropriate to me.  The Democrats seem to be arguing that Trump as a defendant against possible charges of treason has no right to hear the charges against him.  They seem to believe the prosecution process should be some kind of star chamber persecution process which blocks the participation of Trump’s lawyers.  To me, this makes the liberal Democrats look more authoritarian than Trump.  They give credence to Trump’s claim of a “witch hunt,” just as the NYT article justifies his claims of a “spygate.”

If the liberals was to accuse Trump of bad conduct, they have to behave themselves better than he does.  Labeling this article “news analysis” does not prevent it from being pure tabloid mud-slinging that plays loose with the facts.

Is Electing More Veterans the Solution?

This NYT op-ed by Allison Jaslow muddles the issue of veterans in politics.  After World War II being a veteran was a necessary, but not sufficient condition to being a politician.  You almost could not be a politician at any level — local, state or national — unless you were a veteran.  You just couldn’t get elected.  But the fact that you were a veteran did not mean that you were a good politician or that you would get elected.  There were so many veterans after that war that there were many to choose from.  The percentage of veterans in Congress grew as veterans from Korea and Vietnam became politicians.  In the 1970s about 73% of the Congress were veterans.  In 1970 veterans made up almost 14% of the population.  Today veterans make up 20% of Congress and about 7% of the population.

In addition, because of the draft, World War II veterans were a genuine cross section of America — rich, poor, educated, uneducated.  Today, the rich and educated make up a very small proportion of the military.  Thus, there are fewer well qualified veterans to serve in political office.  Thus, if you simply increase the number of veterans in political office, you are likely to get more bad politicians.  Education and wealth are not necessary to be a good politician, but they help.

Being a veteran should be a plus on a politician’s resume, but there are other factors that may be more important, intelligence and character, for example.  Electing a stupid veteran over a wise non-veteran would be a poor choice.

So, in essence I agree with the op-ed, but I think it grates on me as a Vietnam veteran. Vietnam veterans returned to such hatred and contempt from the population that did not serve, that I find it odd that now simply serving is somehow a wonderful thing that makes you a leader in the community.  Her column implies that today the populace belives that simply being a veteran is a sufficient condition to serve in high office.  It is not.  Today being a veteran is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to serve in office, and it should not be.

If in the future, we find the United States’ continued existence threatened by war, then military service may again be a necessary condition.  Decent men should all rise to defend the country.  Today, however, the US does not face an existential military threat; so, service in not a necessary qualification for political leadership.