Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blogging the PWC Committee Meeting

Wow, hundreds of people heeded Corey's call and showed up to speak. I give Corey a lot of credit, I'd give him a little more if he hadn't suggested limiting them to 1 minute each.

Most impressive speaker so far -- a woman who was an immigrant who came here legally, and is now a citizen, who thanked Corey for telling her about the meeting, and said she supported the resolution because it's hard work getting here legally, and basically it's not fair that others circumvent the process.

Funniest thing -- a lot of people are wearing green shirts. "Not with my taxes, not in my name, rescind the resolution". Some of them admit to being illegal, most are using the translator.

I like the hair color on the translator.

But my FAVORITE line was a guy who said something like this, speaking of Corey's use of his discretionary funds to send out the flyer: "So Corey spent $30,000 to buy votes. But the REST of you (pointing to all the other supervisors) use YOUR money to buy votes in $500-$1000 increments".

I'd love to hear the responses from each supervisor arguing that they DON'T give their discretionary funds out based on constituencies and to earn credit and votes. In fact, I could argue that Corey did this less than most -- last year he wanted to use HIS funds to broadcast planning commission meetings, something that we all should care about, but wouldn't be a payoff to any particular organization.

Anyway, they think they'll keep going until about 2am.

11PM Update:

WJLA ran a little story about it, didn't see anybody I knew. Then they had the results of a viewer poll, in which 86% of the respondents said local governments should deny services to illegal immigrants.

I still don't get why so many people who say they are legal immigrants are saying they will be kicked out of the country if this resolution passes. Most who say that have a translater, and I can only guess that a spanish-speaking organization has been using the language barrier to mislead these people into supporting other people who didn't come here legally like they did, and who take the legal immigrant jobs and depress their wages.

Now a guy wearing a "34" jersey is up. His parents are legal immigrants, and he notes that this resolution doesn't target hispanics, but illegal immigrants. This country is a great country because of laws. "You can be eloquent, but it won't make you right". He also used my analogy, that if he wakes up in the morning and there are 5 very nice people in his basement, he will kick them out. He says "Nobody is racist, not today". He can say that, he's a black man.

Like I said before, if a person broke into your house, watched your TV, sat in your living room, and slept on your floor, you'd kick them out even if they washed your windows.

11:48 PM. We are up in the 300's now, but that doesn't mean a lot, because after all the residents we get to start with non-residents.

A lot of the speakers say they are afraid of getting deported. Some say they are afraid they will be pulled over while driving, and end up being deported. But they all start with their name and address. How did we get to where people could express FEAR about going out, but not about publicly proclaiming their illegal activity with their name and address?

I don't think the speakers who admit to being illegal are doing their side any favors, especially when they say they think that it's unfair to deny services to people here illegally.

11:53PM Another speaker thanks Corey for reminding him about the vote with the flyer, and notes that it worked because people are here at midnight. He also gets a laugh when, in reference to a number of the anti-resolution folks who have said how many people could have been helped by Corey's "discretionary fund", he said we could have fed the world by now with the money. He also suggests the translater may want to translate what he is saying for the crowd.

I didn't realise just how many people we had living in this county that don't speak english, and are scared. It's clear the language barrier has allowed a deep rift in our community. It seems some have exploited this language barrier to stir up anger in the hispanic community. But who knows, I can't communicate with that group, and they can't communicate with me. How are we supposed to co-exist and be a united county when we can't communicate with each other.

Another spanish speaker who was proud to work for this country, but who spent half his speech denigrating Corey Stewart personally and trying to convince the other supervisors that they weren't evil like Corey was. Not likely a good sales pitch.

Next person says we should focus on better education, that police should be arresting murderers and not catching illegals.

12:08 AM

I'm noticing more of the pro-resolution folks are reacting quite negatively to the continuous drumbeat from the anti-resolution speakers all talking about how hard they work and how much we'll miss their hard work.

12:16 AM
Another female speaker, her grandparents came legally from mexico. She feels offended that the other side is calling her racist. She notes the people being treated unfairly are those who are waiting in line but can't get in because of all the illegals. This speaker also thanks Corey for sending the note, and says she asked the translater to translate her words for the hispanics in the hallway, but the translater refused because she was 'on the wrong side'.

As another speaker said, sure it's painful to have to go back to your own country. But in the end it will be better, because if they come back legally they won't be living in fear anymore of being caught.

When he said that, it made me think about people who have escaped prison, and lived their lives hiding in the fear they would be discovered and re-arrested. Many times the seem relieved when they are caught, even if they have to finish their term, because they no longer live in that fear.

Words used by the anti-resolution side have definitely been harsher and attacked the pro-resolution folks a lot more than the other way around. A lot of people who are anti-resolution have talked about the Iraq war.

12:22 AM. I like this speaker. He's against the resolution, but he makes a good but misguided point. He's talking about how "our country", and I hope he meant "America", has given all these people a great opportunity they never got in their own countries. This is true. It's why so many people want to come here. But there are many people legally waiting for their legal turn to come and enjoy what this country has to offer. The speaker doesn't address why we should reward those who cut in line with all that this country has to offer.

12:24 AM, guy skipped his kid's birthday to be here, and is blaming the board for some guy outside who was apparently saying racist things and tried to cut in line. It is unfortunate that there are some who are racist, but that is not a point against the resolution. This guy lives in Alexandria, but says his business has been hurt.

Just as I think some of the pro-resolution people expect too much out of this resolution, the illegal immigrants are holding out way to much "hope" if the resolution is rejected. It's like the think that if we reject the resolution, they will be allowed to stay here illegally. But that's not the case. The things the county is doing will do little to change the status of illegals. They will still be illegal, they will still get deported. They will still live in fear of being caught. About the only thing they will have is they will get more public money before they get caught.

12:30am. Here's a guy who actually came out because he saw the show on TV and decided to come out and speak. I think they are getting close to the end. He mentions that a lot of the people who said they were illegal made a big deal out of "paying taxes", and notes that he pays taxes as well.

If we had a sane illegal immigration policy that was enforced, all these illegal immigrants wouldn't have come here and settled in and thought they had a right to be here. But just because they got away with it for so long doesn't mean we should let them get away with it in the future.

Legal immigrants are required to prove they won't be a burden on taxpayers. You don't get in here legally and then qualify for a bunch of government programs, even if you pay taxes. There are millions of people waiting to come in, so we can be a little picky.

But those who came here illegally don't always meet those qualifications, and they seem to be really upset that they might lose a couple of government services they have become used to (really, there aren't many being effected by this -- one is the incarcereration drug program, I hope none of these people ever need that).

I actually admire that people come here for a better life, as the speaker now is saying, but that's what LEGAL IMMIGRATION is fore.

12:35 AM: Now a woman is claiming that no legal immigrants or citizens want to do construction, that only illegals do construction. Also that we should go back to when native americans were americans. And she's yelling at the board because they aren't all listening to her talk.

12:37 : An american female who is trying to speak spanish, dressed up like a statue of Liberty.

But she doesn't have a translator, so it's hard to know what she is saying, my spanish is getting better as the night goes on but I don't think she's speaking "mexican spanish".

12:39: Now she says "In case you don't all speak spanish" -- and she gives us the english version. I thought I recognized that. But she was closer than she might have expected in that I think a lot of the crowd speaks spanish.

12:42: This guy isn't earning any friends on the board. He attacked Covington, one of those he'd have to win over, and then said we were all illegal immigrants because this country belonged to the indians.

12:46: This woman just said "I don't see any black people here who are against us". But as I noted that several black people have spoken for the resolution. And apparently only illegal immigrants will work in nursing homes and clean the old people. But she's legal and SHE says SHE does that work. So maybe we'll be OK after all?

And she's talking about people who are here "illegally" but did it "legally".

But it's apparent the handlers outside have gotten the message, the last few speakers have said how they know other people work hard. A lot of them also bring up God and Jesus.

12:50 This speaker says we are racist because 3rd-world countries are bad places and they just want better lives and who are we to stop them. She keeps saying "we", but she said her parents came here and she's a citizen. She also thinks the resolution will keep children from using a public swimming pool.

12:53: Now there's a male translater, He's not as good as the previous translator. The speaker reminds us that "we clean your houses". Well, nobody really cleans my house, but when it IS cleaned, it's either me, or my wife, or my children. Not all of us have the money to hire cleaning people. And if I did, I wouldn't hire an illegal, I'd hire a legal resident and I'd pay them a fair wage.

12:55: This guy starts by asking if we believe that he's a 3rd-generation american. Then he said he was lying. So apparently we were right to question his statement. He IS a legal, he has his papers. He does make the point that some pro-resolution people attack things that have nothing to do with "illegals". His whole family is legal and he had 8 people in his house and 6 cars, and feels people are targetting him when they complain about "hispanics" living too many people to a house.

He's a construction worker, so apparently there ARE non-illegals who will build houses for us. And he's paying his way through college. What I don't understand why he's for illegals, since he's a legal resident, he said he was a citizen but I'm still wary because of his first question.

Now I'm confused because he said he was in construction and putting his way to college, but he drives 40 minutes each way to work. Oh well.

1:01 am: this guy just made the perfect case against illegal aliens, but thought he wasn't because he's attacking the Iraq war. He seems to be saying that if we just sit back, the invasion will be over eventually and we'll all be happy in a mexican puppet-state. I don't think that's a big selling point, unless you are a Mexican.

And the guy turns out to be a Ron Paul supporter. I guess it all makes sense now. :-)

1:03AM: This guy says he saw the show, got out of bed, showered and now he's on TV. He runs a construction business, and is talking about all the people who are willing to work. I don't doubt illegals are "willing to work", but frankly I don't doubt that there's a lot of immigrants waiting in their home countries who are ALSO willing to work, but also want to learn our language and follow our laws, and they can't come here because the illegals took all the jobs.

Now he makes the mistake of suggesting the illegals help Social Security. HE must not know that they steal numbers, and that when they return to Mexico our country is trying to put a reciprical agreement in place to send their social security funds back to Mexico with them.

1:05: Hey, it's Anke. I've never seen Anke before. Anke's an immigrant. Her parents were immigrants, and came legally. She's doing a good job, "They did it the Right Way". That's the real message here, let's get immigrants who do it the right way. Good job, Anke.

1:09: Next speaker thinks it is horrible that people have to be "afraid to drive their cars to work". I wonder how SHE would feel about my analogy about a felon who broke out of prison being "afraid" of being caught. Now she's misrepresenting the bill, saying it says "if you see a hispanic, pull them over".

Oops. No clapping is allowed. Next speaker notes dogs in our country are treated better than people in his own country. I guess we should bring his whole country into Prince William.

Buenos Noches. Actually, I think it's Buenos Dias now.

1:16 AM: The translator isn't speaking into the microphone. I don't know if anybody cares. A lot of people say they waited seven hours or even since 11:00 am. I'm wondering, once they were signed up, couldn't they just go home and watch and come back when their number came up? They are allowing people to speak out of turn.

1:18: Another american who is speaking spanish. I can understand him though. He is welcoming "immigrants", calling them his "family", and says they are hard workers. They are like us. I don't think he's used the word "illegal" or "undocumented", although to tell the truth I don't think I know the spanish word for "undocumented". I think he just used some bad language about the resolution.

1:21: A speaker in a bright yellow shirt. I feel awake again. He's now noting that the construction industry is saturated by illegals which are forcing down the wages (which Lowell thinks is a great thing), and driving out legal workers who were making more money. Now he's speaking spanish. I guess they'll have to listen to him, even though the translator won't translate pro-resolution speakers. He wasn't wearing an HSM sticker, but he sounded like he'd be a good addition to their group.

1:24: Another illegal. I just realised they are all making a big mistake. They all note they pay income taxes, and social security taxes. But neither of those taxes come to the county anyway. We get money from sales tax (which illegals pay less of because they work for lower wages), from property taxes (which illegals pay less of because they live more to a house), and from car tax (which illegals pay less of because they are poor and generally own older cars).

The speaker keeps saying that in 1990 "there was no Prince William County". I have news for him. There WAS, and it was a great place to live. I actually lived in Westgate in 1981. Now he notes that he's illegal but his kids are legal -- we can't do anything about that, but the federal government could fix that, and should. And yes, it sucks that if he gets kicked out of the country, the kids will either have to live without the parents in the U.S., or take them to a country they aren't citizens of. But that was the person's decision.

I will go back to the analogy. If a person breaks out of jail, and then gets married and has kids, it sucks if he gets caught and gets sent back to jail. But we don't decide to forgive him for his past because of it, it was HIS fault.

OK, back to the speaker -- he says the illegals built everything in our county. Apparently illegals are building a lot of our school buildings, as if that's a problem if the illegals leave. But as a previous speaker noted, if the illegals leave, we'll have plenty of space in our schools. She thought that would be a problem, wondering "what would we do" if we had empty schools. That's a problem I really want to have.

1:31: Man working in the Mortgage industry predictably fears that if illegals leave his business will be hurt because our property values will drop. He thinks our property taxes will have to go up. That is patently untrue -- we know that illegals are the poorer residents of the county, and we know that the poor residents have a disparate cost to the government. If a large number of illegals leave, and the house values decline, there will be fewer cars on the roads so we won't have to build new ones, we won't have to spend any more money building schools, we won't have to expand the sewer and water and electric systems, we won't need more 911 operators, or new social service workers. Our "tax rates" would go up when our property values decline, but the raw tax amount we pay should go down because we won't have as many expenses.

1:33: Here's a woman who's legal, but says her husband would have "starved" if he hadn't illegally crossed the border. What that has to do with the resolution I don't know, but I'm not sure why she couldn't just send him some food once in a while. Don't they have food in Mexico? I'll be happy to send food aid to Mexico if that will help.

1:35: This woman says she just became a citizen, but for some reason she still doesn't speak english. I thought you had to have english proficiency to get citizenship. I'm confused now. She says 95% of those who built the McCoart building were "hispanic". But were they illegal? I wish she could speak english, because she is very passionate and the translator is not.

1:42 AM: Immigrant, not sure if he's legal or illegal, he's in construction, worked on rebuilding the pentagon so I'm guessing legal because I can't believe they would have allowed illegal immigrants to get access to the Pentagon, even just for construction.

1:48: female translator back. Speaker started learning english 10 years ago, went to college, but still wants to have the translator. I think he just wants to stand next to her for a few minutes. He wants to deport the "true criminals", but doesn't want to get deported himself. I guess either he's an illegal, or he doesn't understand what legal means. Now he says his documentation is in line, but he still fears getting sent back.

If the group Mexican Without borders really cared about this guy, they would have told him he had no fear of being deported, rather than scaring him.

It's 1:51, so it looks like we are going until at least 2:00 AM.

1:53: Apparently, every illegal immigrant who is here has been here for decades, and have children, and never take ANYTHING from the government. This one owns a cleaning business. She fell out of a 3rd-floor window. She also fell off a 40-foot ladder. She's broken both arms and both legs. Apparently she didn't go to the hospital, because she said she's never taken "anything", but she doesn't seem to have health insurance.

1:56: Citizen time ends. Afternoon business continues. Well, it's clear the status quo can't be maintained. THe anti-resolution folks seem to think if we just drop the resolution, everything will go back to normal and they can live illegally with no fear of deportation.

First, that ignores the fact that a large majority of the residents of the county are tired of the status quo, and will consider it unacceptable to keep the status quo.

Second, that ignores the fact that without the resolution, the illegals are STILL illegal, and will be deported if they are caught. Absent the resolution, they are still subject to being turned into ICE whether they commit a crime or not, whether our police question them or not. THeir employers are still subject to punishment, and there will be increased enforcement against those employers.

What the anti-resolution folks were REALLY advocating is amnesty. They are here illegally, and want to be made "legal" because they "work really hard", because "we can't survive without them", and "they pay taxes".

2:00: Mary Nohe says he's not on any side. Not surprising. He's asking for an amendment. He's talking about going after the "real criminals" who are also illegal. I thought we already do that. But Nohe does fund the 7 new police positions in his version.

He calls for outreach to the immigrant community to educate them on the actual resolution. That's actually a good idea, because it's clear they've been lied to.

But I don't like his clause to assign an "independent oversight", mostly because I fear the "independent" group will be like the HRC, not really "independent". I could live with some oversight to ensure there is no racial profiling, but think we could do that in-house. I'm tired of government essentially shirking it's responsibilities.

If Nohe is serious, he will have given this amendment to Stirrup and Stewart, and they will know how to respond.

2:06. Nohe brings up the "10 million dollar shortfall" which we learned last week. That was actually a better number than expected, which probably saved the resolution. He also has a clause referencing the state attorney's opinion about what we can and can't do.

It sure sounds like Nohe is on board, if his amendment is really as benign as he makes it sound. It's a friendly amendment, and accepted. So it seems Nohe's on board.

2:24: May speaks in spanish out of deference to those in the audience that don't understand english. In response, a woman screams that they will all burn in hell for "separating her from her children". I'm guessing she thinks she'll be deported now and her kids won't come with her.

2:26: Jenkins complains that he had to sit through what turned out to be like a "public hearing", thinking we should have had a public hearing where the staff would have sat instead of him? Or maybe not. But Jenkins thinks that if you put a notice in the paper 5 times, it magically reaches the entire county, as if each time a DIFFERENT 20,000 people read the paper. Fact is, most people even who GET the paper won't see a public notice.

I would have liked to have seen a public hearing, but they could have done that months ago. Anyway, Jenkins is on board.

2:28: Barg is supporting it, so long as we spend even MORE money to fund public education through the police department. I guess if you are going to try to overcome the months of misinformation, it's going to cost a little money. The fear is real, but misguided.

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