Saturday, July 29, 2006

Illegal Immigration: California is really Aztlan!?!

For my first post I would like to address the subject of illegal immigration and illuminate the deprivation of thought that occurs on college campuses today.

I received this email from a fellow student at my university on March 31, 2006. You may remember that it came at a time when the U.S. Senate would soon debate a bill to make illegal immigration to the U.S. a felony. My opponent showed his true allegiance in his reply to my first email and I proceeded to pick his argument to pieces in my final letter. The following is a copy of the correspondence between the two of us (his punctuation and spelling has not been altered in any way). Enjoy:

To: Campus Community
From: Office of Diversity Affairs
Date: March 31, 2006
Subject: Candlelight Vigil

We extend an invitation to you to join us at the Labyrinth (behind Memorial Chapel) this Sunday at 9pm for a Candlelight Vigil to raises awareness about immigration and equity as the Senate continues to debate an issue fundamental to the future of the human justice. We, as a campus community, must unite in support of human rights.
After the vigil, student organizers will be making t-shirts that can be worn to encourage debate about the issue of immigration. We ask that you provide your own white shirt but we will provide the materials.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Koby.

The Dude replied:

Koby,

I want to start by saying that I have the utmost respect for the many people who dream to come to this great country of ours to work hard and build a new life for themselves and their families. It is an honorable and very noble cause.

About your candle light vigil on Sunday night:

I was just wondering, Koby, if you are going to be honest about what HR 4377 will actually do, which is modify the laws already on the books about ILLEGAL immigration. You know full well that the bill has NOTHING to do with legal immigration. In fact, as it currently stands, it will allow people who are here ILLEGALLY (who broke the law to come here) to apply for U.S. citizenship without ever having to leave the country. They'll have to pay a fine, but that's not a very big price to pay to be allowed to stay in this great country where they have more opportunity than they could ever dream about back home.

I want to make it plainly clear that I DO NOT want to deport anyone who has been a hard-working, upstanding citizen since they first broke the law by crossing the boarder (and neither does the U.S. Senate). This would be a disaster for millions of families and is frankly unrealistic. All I ask is that you be HONEST about the situation. I think that your side of the argument would go a lot further with the people on the fence on this issue if you would just acknowledge that the only immigration that ANYONE wants to curb is the illegal kind. Is it unreasonable for a democratically elected legislative body to make laws that are in the best interest of the safety of its citizens? Is it unreasonable for an executive branch of government to try to enforce its laws? If you say it is, then I must ask, why do we even bother with governments? And you can't really be against a more organized, more efficient immigration system that facilitates the citizenship process and saves thousands of lives by preventing people from trying to swim across rivers and hike through deserts led by unscrupulous Coyotes.

There is room for debate here, but only if we all remain candid and truthful about the real situation. We must have clarity if this issue is ever to be resolved, to the benefit of all parties. I appreciate your time and I thank you for hearing my point of view.

Best Regards,

The Dude


P.S. Of course, I encourage you to reply to this email. You have my email address.

Koby wrote:

I thank you for expressing your interest and your concerns about Sunday night's vigil. I would like to start off by acknowledging the fact that no where in the Candlelight Vigil email did it mention HR4437. The vigil is not directly focusing on HR4437, but I'm sure it will come up. As a Race and Ethnic Studies major, nonetheless, a concerned citizen, I am fully aware of what this bill could do. I do realize that it has the potential to make 12 million undocumented workers, citizens. Yet, there are still consequences such as fines of $2,000 (which is nearly impossible to pay for these low-wage workers), backed taxes, a background check, and having to learnEnglishh. That would be kind of odd for a country that doesn't really have an "official" language.I support undocumented workers becoming citizens, but I do not support some of the other implementations. First of all, this bill would create 700 miles of extra fence on the U.S. Mexican border. This would then be the third wall that the United States has put up. Since the the last wall was put up through Operation Gatekeeper, over 500 undocumented workers have died. This system is NOT working.Lastly, this bill would cause for a guest worker program. Which is like teasing a baby with candy. You can touch it, feel it, see it, but you can't have it. This would make guest workers second class citizens. Racism would rise like no other.In your email you capitalized ILLEGAL. I would just like to acknowledge that this country was built off of immigration. Immigration runs this country. On top of all of this, this land was stolen. East coast was stolen from Native Americans and the west coast stolen from the Mexicans. So what most mexican immigrants are coming back to, is their own land of Aztlan.Maybe the Native Americans should have had such a strict policy in 1492...Koby

I wrote back:

Koby,

Most Mexican immigrants save much more than $2,000, while they are still in Mexico, to pay the coyotes who bring them here. From what I read, it is usually around $5,000 US dollars. It cannot be that difficult to raise $2,000 once they are in the U.S. making more money than they ever made in Mexico. And why should there be no consequences? Do we live in a country of laws or not? If we do, then how can we say that certain laws be broken while others cannot? And you can't really think that a background check is unreasonable. Do you? And learning English is not punishment. Can you really say that immigrants would be damaged by becoming bilingual? Learning English is a positive thing! Just like it is a positive thing for any person to learn any language different from his native tongue. Learning new languages stimulates the brain, which every college student, by definition, should support.

On the issue of legal and illegal:

First you wrote, "Immigration runs this country", and you're right! But every immigrant who came here after the establishment of the federal and state governments was required to register and assimilate. That is what my great grandparents did (from Italy and Ireland) and that is what immigrants should still do.


Then you wrote, "On top of all of this, this land was stolen." Yes, this country was established through force. No one can deny that this is the case, but so what? Nearly every civilization in the history of mankind has been established by force, including Mexico. The Native American tribes fought amongst themselves for control over the land for years before Europeans ever got here. War is what shapes a nation's boarders, whether you like it or not. That's reality. War is how the U.S. gained independence from England and war is how Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The following excerpt is taken from the History channel website at

http://www.historychannel.com/exhibits/mexico/?page=independence
"Under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Feb. 2, 1848, the Rio Grande was fixed as the boundary of Texas and the territory now forming the states of California and New Mexico became part of the U.S. The Gadsden Purchase in 1853 clarified the New Mexico boundary and gave an additional strip of territory (now southern Arizona and a slice of southwestern New Mexico) to the U.S."

Some of the territory was won in war and the rest was purchased. Whether you agree with how it was established or not you must acknowledge the 150 year old agreements made between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. recognizes the legitimacy of the Mexican government. Why should Mexico not recognize the U.S.? So when you say, "what most Mexican immigrants are coming back to is their own land of Aztlan", you're wrong. The land does not belong to Mexico and hasn't for the last 150 years. And in that case, no living U.S. citizen stole anything from any Mexican and no living Mexican was robbed of any land.


I will just say one last thing. People immigrate to the U.S. because it is a nice place to live. We have a strong economy and are the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on earth. This is largely because of the freedom we enjoy and the form of government under which we live. This didn't happen overnight, it wasn't an accident, and it didn't have anything to do with the land that was "stolen" from Mexico. "Aztlan" is the way it is today because of the fact that it is part of the United State of America. If it weren't, it would be under the control of the undeniably corrupt Mexican government and would no doubt resemble Tijuana more than any city in the U.S. Mexicans have not been victimized by the U.S., they have been victimized by their own government. If it weren't true, they wouldn't be leaving the country of their birth in droves as they are.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Violation?

Well guys, here's my first worth-while post, and this hits particularly close to home. It's a little long, but bear with me please, and let me know what you think.

I'm moving to New Haven, CT, in mid-August. Because I have some trouble walking and have opted to leave my beloved BMW Z3 in California to avoid its getting rusted out by the snow-and-salt winters of the eastern seaboard, I dug deep into my pockets and bought a Segway.

HOWEVER!!! The city of New Haven has disallowed the Segway on all streets and sidewalks. The streets and sidewalks on the Yale University campus are governed by the city, so the Segway is disallowed on the campus as well.

Why would they do this? I argue. The Segway is electrically powered, self-balancing, requires no maintainance, and costs less over the course of 5 years then a cell phone. (About $0.20 per mile.)

The first thought is bureaucracy, of course, and then, safety. BUT... read on.

The Segway is classified by the Federal government as a consumer product, not a motor vehicle, and is not a wheelchair. Prior to its introduction, the only practical mobility devices that were available to people with disabilities, or those who have difficulty walking, required them to be seated in order to operate them. On the contrary, the Segway allows the user to stand. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidance, issued by the United States Department of Transportation on September 1, 2005, correctly identified the Segway, when used by a person with a disability, as a mobility device that is part of a broad class of mobility aids occupying a legal position analogous to canes, walkers, etc. The Segway is therefore fully protected as an assistive device as defined by the United States Congress, which defined an assistive technology device in "The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1973, As Amended" as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”

From a post on the DRAFT (Disability Rights Advocates for Technology, www.draft.cc): "the Segway’s use is fully protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Public Law 101-336." --I believe that my disability is a qualifying disability under the ADA, in that my disability is a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities; in my instance, walking-- "Furthermore, failure to allow the use of a Segway by a person with a qualifying disability is a violation of Federal law. The United States Department of Justice has substantial enforcement responsibilities under Title III. 42 U.S.C. 12188(b). Civil penalties and civil actions are possible."

In the three years since its introduction to the general public in 2003 there are no reports of any substantive injuries being caused to bystanders from those using the Segway. The design of the Segway actually precludes it from continuing forward once it comes in contact with something, and the tires are designed in such a fashion that running over someone's foot or hand causes no injury. The same could not be said about a power wheelchair or scooter. Moreover, the Segway weighs a fraction of other mobility devices, and its stopping distance, in comparison to other mobility devices in a test by the Federal Highway Administration, was second only to that of a manual wheelchair.

A study done by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, which compared the safety of the Segway to that of other mobility devices, was presented at the Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting in January of 2004 in Washington, DC. In assessing the relative safety of the Segway and its risk to others, the report suggests the Segway represents a risk to others that is consistent with that when children are playing nearby, even when operated at top speeds. Comparatively, the report indicates that motor or powered wheelchairs or scooters represent a medium to high risk to others.

The issue of forcing a disabled person who has the ability to stand but has difficulty walking, like myself, and requires a mobility aid, to sit in either a wheelchair or a scooter, IS UNREASONABLE AND UNLAWFUL!

I have been in brief contact with the ADA Coordinator of the city of New Haven, Michelle Duprey, requesting a Title II Letter of Accommodation. However, since our first contact in late April, she has sent me only 1 email, saying something to the effect that they will review my case but there are more complicated matters at hand.

Good to be here.

Well, well, well.

After years of arch-nemesis rivalries with The Chemist, the two of us have, against all probability, likelyhood, and perhaps livelihood, joined forces in a hopefully less-than-futile attempt to rid the world of sloth, low IQ, and political conservatism. He, working on a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I, working on a Ph.D. in chemical biology at the great Yale University, will surely be unstoppable.

That is, unless our women somehow manage to impede our efforts, or supercede us at our own game and make us their court jesters.

What a day that will be.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

T-shirts, stamps, mugs, and posters

These are products I have made in order to provoke thought. Use the links below or use the links on the right to go directly to my site. Thank you for looking!

Friday, July 21, 2006

About Me


I am a graduate student currently working towards a PhD in physical chemistry. Unlike many academics I have actually worked in the private sector. I worked at a local mall for 5 years and I currently work for the state government. I constantly see things that drive me crazy and decided it was finally time to throw my voice into the cacophony that is the internet. Maybe I will do some good, maybe I will just throw fuel on the fire, I may never know which. Thank you for reading my blog, comments and questions are always welcome!