The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 11, 2013

Moral reasons support Dream Act

Allowing citizenship would add $2 billion to economy

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Nine young men and women whose parents brought them to the United States as children without proper documentation were arrested last month after staging a bold protest. By traveling to Mexico and then trying to legally re-enter the United States, they hoped to highlight the plight of an estimated 1.7 million young immigrants who also came to the U.S. as children — and to press for passage of the Dream Act, which would offer them a conditional pathway to citizenship.

The nine protesters took a huge risk. They might not have been allowed back into the United States; as it was, they were held for the better part of a week in an Arizona detention center while the government figured out what to do with them. But federal officials agreed to allow their cases to go before an immigration judge, who will decide whether they should be granted asylum.

Surely, deporting them will serve no purpose. They, like other so-called Dreamers, merely want to make a life in the only country they have known as home. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if all 1.7 million were permitted to participate in the U.S. economy, it would result in revenue of more than $2 billion annually, mainly from income and corporate taxes paid by the newly legalized workers.

Preventing these young people from gaining legal status won’t help deter illegal immigration. All it will do is punish them for the deeds of their parents.

There are plenty of moral and economic reasons for Republicans to support the Dream Act, if they could briefly put partisanship and ideology aside. — LA Times

Keeping secrets secret: Are you at risk?

Even before former National Security Agency consultant Edward Snowden exposed the breathtaking extent of the intelligence agency’s electronic surveillance programs, civil libertarians worried that information obtained as part of anti-terrorism investigations might find its way to the criminal justice system and that Americans would be tried and convicted on evidence obtained without warrants, in violation of the 4th Amendment.

Is that happening? As with much about the NSA, it is hard to be sure. Two recent news reports sent conflicting signals.

The New York Times reported last week that the NSA had rebuffed requests that it share its data with law enforcement agencies that wanted to use the information to investigate crimes including drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement.

That was encouraging. But two days later Reuters reported that a secretive unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration had been “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.” Moreover, Reuters reported, law enforcement agents had been directed to conceal how such investigations began.

The Reuters story suggests that the DEA and other law enforcement agencies may be using other information obtained by the NSA, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Even if one accepts that preventing terrorism requires extraordinary surveillance measures, those measures must not provide a back door for the prosecution of Americans for drug offenses or any other crime on the basis of evidence that wasn’t obtained in accordance with the Constitution. — LA Times

A-Rod should feel lucky, not defiant

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has broken a raft of records over his 20 years in professional baseball. He batted in at least 100 runs in 14 seasons; his 10-year, $275 million contract was the largest ever in baseball; and, as of last Monday, he has been given the most severe punishment ever for using performance-enhancing drugs, a 211-game suspension that, if upheld, will keep him off the field through all of next season.

Twelve other players accepted 50-game suspensions, which will allow them to be eligible to play in this season’s playoffs.

What made A-Rod, again, so different?

Technically Mr. Rodriguez’s case is still under review; the star is pursuing an appeals process, which will put the matter before an arbitrator sometime in the next few weeks. A separate federal investigation is ongoing, too.

But Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig reportedly has stacks of evidence — e-mails, text messages, phone calls — showing that Mr. Rodriguez worked with Biogenesis, a now-defunct Miami clinic that reportedly offered sports stars performance-enhancing drugs. A-Rod had admitted to using certain performance-enhancing substances between 2001 and 2003. But he has offered no acceptance of guilt or hint of remorse for the conduct alleged on Monday, which apparently occurred between 2010 and 2012.

Even if an arbiter sustains Mr. Rodriguez’s guilt and punishment, the third baseman still will be in line to make another $61 million off of his monstrously large contract. In anticipation of the suspensions, A-Rod nevertheless seemed to explain away the investigation against him as some conspiracy by Major League Baseball and the Yankees to deny him salary.

Instead, he should count himself lucky that his and other baseball contracts are exceedingly generous; if the charges against him stick, the Yankees would have a moral reason, if not the legal right, to cancel his contract entirely. — Washington Post