Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good approaches to illegal immigration for Utah

I've seen the effects of our onerous immigration system on some coworkers and friends. Someday I'll detail some of the difficult stories in people's lives caused by our bad policies so you can hear individual accounts. Thankfully, others are starting to raise their voices in favor of some better approaches, and not simply in favor of heavy-handed punishments that most people seem to advocate.

The Utah Foundation is a policy research institute for Utah, and they've published a few items about immigration. One is from the Sutherland Institute: it's a philosophical statement (with links to studies about the demographics of illegal immigrants) that describes why we should be compassionate and humane rather than unwelcoming. But there's more: a research brief that gives some quantitative measurements on the benefits and drawbacks of undocumented immigrants in our state; it refers to two studies from Texas, one of which concludes that "strict immigration reforms led to labor shortages, decreased employment, high costs of implementing reforms with little associated return, and high fiscal costs".

Both are very persuasive arguments to be careful and compassionate in the way we handle illegal immigration.

The federal government has frozen our non-profit accounts!

I am part of two organizations that work for communities and not for profit: the Thomas Tolman Family Organization that does genealogy research and archiving, and the Gesundheit! Institute that is trying to create a different kind of hospital and health care. I have been raising money online for each organization; you can find the payment links easily on the Tolman site, and my friends' Gesundheit! donations are collected through The first of these is even a government-registered non-profit organization; the second isn't and probably never will be.  (UPDATE: I initially wrote that the Tolman Organization was not registered as a non-profit.)

A few weeks ago, PayPal restricted each account, meaning that I cannot get any of the money out. Well, that was inconvenient, especially since I was about to make a transfer to the Tolman family for publications that people have ordered. I haven't made extra effort to certify that I am an authorized fund-raiser; I expect that this is understood by people who donate since they either come from the website (for the Tolman family), or they know and trust me (for my friends giving to Gesundheit!). I do not like it, and since I don't get any discount as a charity for using their system, I will likely not do any more business through them because of the difficulties this has caused. I sure do not appreciate the sudden restrictions; we do this work on our free time, and I'm not able to jump and get all their documentation together at the drop of a hat. (Especially with Gesundheit! where Patch only works by snail mail, so it'll take me weeks or months to get any "official" documentation stating that he approves of this.)

However, yesterday I got the real story. I called PayPal again because I got another notice claiming that this would be my "final reminder"; sounds scary, and I certainly don't want to lose the money I've collected! This time I found the real reason our access is restricted: my friendly Department of Homeland Security is making sure I'm collecting money for the right reasons.

I don't know what to say at this point. I'm dumbfounded. I knew things were bad, but I am constantly surprised when I learn how bad things really are... especially, of course, when I am a direct beneficiary! :-0

I hope everyone sees how far we have come down the road toward totalitarianism, where almost every action must first be approved by a government department. No amount of good intentions can justify these attacks on our liberties. Please help get our federal government back to doing only their lawful, Constitutional duties and nothing more.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

lost opportunities to build bridges

The Olympics started this week with a spectacular opening ceremony, and it's been cool to watch how those events bring humanity together. Right now I'm watching Music & The Spoken Word, and they have a choir and an instrumental ensemble of Chinese children; it's fantastic, because their voices, sounds, and faces are so remarkably pure. They're so good that my oldest daughter is cheering after their music.

This past week has been the Bountiful Summerfest, and I blogged about our experience. But we found while there that the Chinese delegation couldn't make it because of visa problems.

Thanks a lot, Feds!