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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

On Immigration: Dick Day Meet Fellow Republican Joe Gimse

Category: Immigration
Posted: 10/29/07 16:09, Edited: 10/29/07 16:11

by Dave Mindeman

First we have Governor Pawlenty willing to draw attention to global warming issues and now, I see, we have a Republican State Senator making sense on (gasp!) immigration issues.

Pinch me, please.

State Senator Joe Gimse of Willmar (who defeated Sen. Dean Johnson in 2006), actually used words like "hard working undocumented workers" or "remove the criminal aspect of being here to work". Sen. Gimse is treading on dangerous ground for him because so many conservative Republicans are afraid of sounding that compassionate and rational on the subject.

He even talks of support for the Dream Act if a way of documenting these workers can be found. (Whose dreaming?)

An important caveat... Senator Gimse is certainly not a full fledged convert to the plight of immigrants... but the change in tone is somewhat encouraging. His Senate GOP Immigration caucus consists of himself, Sen. Fischbach, Sen. Hann, and Sen. Ingibritson. Not a bad group if you don't count Fischbach.

I hope Senator Gimse has the courage to follow this through. I don't doubt that Willmar businesses have something to do with this. They need these workers and are looking for compromise.

If everyone would examine these issues realistically (as Sen. Gimse gives lip service to be doing) and stop the extreme rhetoric, we could find a way to please everybody.

A recent article on MSNBC noted that farmers in NY state are losing their vegetable crops. Migrant workers are scared away because of the ICE raids and the crops are rotting in the fields. You might say the easy answer would be to raise the salaries of these jobs so that Americans could make a decent living by picking up the work.

Unfortunately, CAFTA and NAFTA have eliminated that solution. US Agriculture can't compete with Central America and European subsidies... so without the migrant labor, the farms have to shut down or shift to less labor intensive crops.

As Congressional Candidate Dick Day employs his harsh rhetoric to divide the First District via immigration misinformation, maybe Senator Gimse can give him some pointers on dealing with rational thought.
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If You Want Immigration Enforcement, Get the Data Right!

Category: Immigration
Posted: 08/18/07 14:46, Edited: 08/20/07 13:23

by Dave Mindeman

A good opinion piece in the Star Tribune, gives some explanation for the problems with current immigration policy. As the government tries to enhance its enforcement at the behest of immigration critics, the flaws and utter dysfunction of this system will become more transparent. This quote from the editorial points out one small part of that dysfunction.

The problem is that federal agencies haven't developed adequate tools for employers who want to comply. The government's premier employment-verification system, the "Basic Pilot" project, didn't protect Swift & Co. from a series of costly, embarrassing raids. The government's database for verifying the Social Security number of a job applicant has error rates as high as 1 in 10. A "no match" letter from the Social Security Administration, signaling that the number doesn't match the name, might mean that the job applicant is an undocumented alien, or simply that a digit was transposed on a job application. The agency known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with its heavy emphasis on criminal wrongdoing, simply intimidates many employers.

Stronger enforcement is certainly laudable, but if your basis for enforcement is information that is just flat out unreliable, what's the point? We can certainly be angry about the falsification of records by illegals, but caught up in the same net are the people who make honest mistakes or victims of identity theft or employees who work for employers who are not careful with employee information.

This is the "age of information" but our data base protection and record keeping is not keeping up.

Just to give you a practical example.... as a pharmacist, I have to deal with insurance data (and its problems) on a daily basis. There was a period of about a year in which Blue Cross was rejecting valid claims for their clients because of "invalid birth dates".... when we would call to find out the problem, there would always be a difference of 1 digit for the correct birthdate. Although I could never prove it, it looked like someone was incorrectly entering months transposed from written word to numbers, (i.e., June = 6, Blue Cross would record 5 instead). When Blue Cross was informed of the mistake, we would have to temporarily put the INCORRECT information in our computer to match theirs; while the patient would have to fill out another application form and send it for another round of processing. Stupid and a waste of time; yet payments could not get processed unless some accomodation was made.

If we want proper enforcement of immigration laws, then for Pete's sake, get the information right. So many innocent people could be affected and our economy will be saddled with unnecessary expense.

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