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Excuse me sir, I’m going to need to see a passport or some other proof of immigration status.

That should be the last thing we ever expect to hear from a police officer on a street corner. In fact, we should never have to worry about hearing it either. The latest legislation out of Arizona allows just that type of questioning though and puts police officers on the front lines of enforcing immigration and naturalization. It is fairly obvious that the law Arizona has passed will not stand up to Constitutional scrutiny and will eventually be thrown out. However, whether or not you agree with the law, it has done one very important thing, brought an issue unfamiliar to a large portion of the population to the front page. Immigration is a subject that people hear in passing or mentioned on the news occasionally, but for those not near a border, and in particular, the Mexican border, immigration is something not to be worried about. This is the wrong attitude. Immigration issues affect jobs, healthcare, education, and just about every other aspect of life, so we should be taking interest in what is happening in Arizona.

Living in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or California affords one the opportunity to see what illegal immigration in its current form is all about. You can step into an emergency room and see a number of people in this country illegally waiting for treatment, you can drive by the nearest strip center and see day laborers waiting for work, and you visit schools and talk to children who’s parents are migrant workers looking for the next employment opportunity. These scenes are around us everyday and they are becoming more common outside of border states. So how do we define “illegal immigrant”? They are someone who is in this country illegally, whether that be due to an expired visa or if they crossed the border without being documented.

A fact that will surprise many is that the fastest growing group of illegal immigrants is Indians, not Mexicans or Guatemalans. They are here for work and schooling and usually their illegal status is due to the overstaying of their visa. This does not make it any less of a problem, it simply means it is slightly less complicated. This leads me to my next point, which is that we have created some of this mess simply with the way our citizenship system works.

As the law stands now, a child born in the U.S. is a citizen of this country. The citizenship of the child’s parents does not come in to play at all. I am not suggesting that we change this, I just want to point out that our measure of citizenship creates a very ugly situation if we are to start deporting people left and right. Technically, the children would stay in the U.S. and would become wards of the state. We’ve now taken a slight burden of having a mom and dad illegally in the country and turned it into the state taking a child into foster care because of their parent’s immigration status. This seems to be an unsustainable way of dealing with the issue of citizenship and illegal immigration.

There has to be some way to solve this. During the large Italian emigration to the U.S. between 1870 and 1920 there was a very similar attitude toward immigrants, especially those suspected of coming here illegally, as there is today. The Italians flourished though and became a very welcome part of our country and part of that was due to their efforts to assimilate. They kept their customs but worked hard to become part of the communities that they lived in. This is a necessary step for illegal immigrants now, just as it was then. That means we need a way for those who are here illegally to become legal citizens. No, not amnesty, as that denigrates the hard work of those who have pursued legal citizenship. We need a system that allows illegal immigrants to get in line for citizenship and to begin to pay taxes, etc. My theory is that a large portion of the illegal population want to stay here and be legal citizens, they just don’t have a way to do it. If they do have that way, then we’ll have the opportunity to deport those who are here illegally by choice, who’s sole reason is criminal behavior.

While Arizona may have taken extreme steps to get a point across, it’s a point that’s necessary. Europe is struggling to handle their own illegal immigration issues and we have an opportunity to be a good example for what to do in response. People who emigrate here are the whole reason this country is great, but that does give the green light to sneaking into the country illegally. Let’s do the right thing and encourage Washington to seriously evaluate citizenship procedures and take the responsibility of enforcing the federal borders out of the state’s hands.

 

This news from Gothamist is bothersome. The TSA has partnered with NYPD to provide the New York transit system with “random and unpredictable security measures, like mobile screening in rail environments and at mass transit stations across the country”. The last few words are the most interesting, “across the country” implies that the TSA will be rolling this out across the U.S.

Yes, this is the same TSA who had an agent leave their post unattended, resulting in Newark-Liberty Airport being shut down for six hours. Can we imagine for a minute, what would happen to any of the transit systems across the country if the TSA had such a breach at one of them? It would be pandemonium, people looking for ways to get home and finding no options.

The big question I have is whether or not the TSA actually has the authority to conduct such searches. If they don’t, then hopefully someone stands up against this on a legal base. If they do, then I’d like to know who granted them such authority.

It’s 6pm, you are just getting home from work. You immediately freshen up and head to a nearby restaurant. You arrive at the restaurant, take out your cell phone and “check in” to Foursquare or Gowalla. You are seated, you order your dinner, take out your phone and tweet something you heard or saw go by. You finish your dinner, tweet how amazing it was, pay the bill, and then tweet again about what bar or establishment you are going to next for after dinner entertainment.

This seems to be the evening of a lot of people, as evidenced by browsing Twitter and the location based services I noted. I’ll be the first to admit it has been one of my habits. But, after a great deal of thinking about it, I wonder what these services really add to anything we do in our day to day lives, particularly the location based services.

What’s the Matter With Us?

Twitter has its place, it is a communication tool. Different people use it in different ways that make sense to them. Foursquare and Gowalla do not share the same kind of necessity as Twitter, just a niche novelty that, honestly, is kind of cool. Do we need such tools? My guess is that we don’t; They are just a new form of entertainment. Maybe it is just me, but I feel as though I am pulled in a bunch of directions by these different things. Add on top of them Google Reader for keeping up with news and other blogs, e-mail, Facebook, and whatever else you can think of, and it seems to become more work than it is worth.

The few times I have been incommunicado, the more obvious it has become that I need these tools less and less. Sure, their novelty is nice, but at what cost? What else could I be devoting my time to rather than letting people on Foursquare (some whom I don’t even know) see where I am at?

Is there a bigger trend here? Have we created the beginning of a time when verbal communication is no longer completely necessary? A lot of people think that children who are homeschooled are socially inept, to which I disagree and point out that more kids text today than talk on the phone. Not only do they text, but they have created a subset, shorthand language to do so. Maybe they are not inept but they have certainly begun a move away from “normal” communication, making further moves even easier.

Sure, there are other time wasters out there, there always have been. The difference now is that the time eating opportunities are constantly with us, no matter where we go. For me, this seems to speed daily life up, like fast forwarding an old VCR Cassette. We’re having the information thrown in front of us so fast that we do not have the time to really consume it. In a way, this pushes us apart. We are listening to people, but not really hearing them because we are distracted.

Can We Fix This?

We already have started to try. There are a number of people who have abandoned Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare, MySpace, and Facebook out of a need to slow down and get back to normal. I am not suggesting the tools are causing the problems, they are simply making it easier for us to go through the motions of less communication and less interaction.

For me, fixing this means moving away from the tools as my entertainment and instead using them when necessary and filtering them often. A mass delete of the applications is not going to help you and it certainly is not the answer. Understanding what kind of time you spend on the services and how it affects your day to day activities is the way to start. From there, it’s up to you on whether it’s too much and how to correct it.

This definitely is not a call to abandon ship, it is me looking at what I have noticed over the past couple of years and asking others to do the same. What are your thoughts? Is this a bad path we are following or am I completely crazy and paranoid?

The cold has finally been whisked away by springtime and a few weeks ago we took advantage of the weather by taking pictures in the fields of bluebonnets near Chapel Hill, Texas.

BluebonnetThe recent rains we have had along with a little longer and cooler winter have really helped the flowers bloom this year.

The only downside to this wonderful weather and its causes are the allergies. Oak pollen has been rampant and those of us with allergies are suffering. This also means summer is only a few months away.

Sofie in the Bluebonnets

We were able to take a few shots of Sofie but for the most part she was not a fan of walking in the thistles.

The drive to the fields is easy, we just followed 290 west and found as many bluebonnets as we could before pulling over. The further west you go, the more bluebonnets there are. Go far enough west and you will hit Brenham, home of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s supposed to be another wonderful set of weather this weekend too!