The Legal vs. Illegal Immigrant Debate

TEASER-no-blacks-no-irish-no-dogs

Let’s have some fact checking on the “Illegal vs Legal” Immigration debate. That is, let those of us who want to check facts, and not go by hearsay and propaganda.
Trump is using his white supremacist, racist violent politics against immigrants, and even some of our union members are falling for it. Here’ss some quick points for those who care to read and think.

(1) Immigration does not happen overnight; nobody wants to leave their country unless they are desperate. I wouldn’t have left India to come to America, had I not been desperate.

(2) Find out what our ruling class has done in Mexico and across the world to drive this exodus from Mexico. Check out what Clinton’s NAFTA did to destroy Mexico’s economy.

(3) Illegal or paperless immigrants do not fit in one box: for example there are 185 types of visa to enter and remain in USA, and countless people are trying for 10, 20 or 30 years to get papers. Their children were born and grew up here.

(4) Even today, crossing the U.S. border without papers is not a criminal offense. It is a civil offense. There is no criminality involved.

(5) It’s not the poor immigrants that you should go after; catch the real criminals who are forcing these people to come, and then exploiting them as slaves. Private prison industry is making billions in profit by jailing poor blacks and undocumented immigrants.

(6) All immigrants pay taxes: sales taxes, and even pay income taxes and Social Security deductions (literally billions of dollars each year). In many cases, these income taxes are stolen by their unscrupulous American employers using forged IDs.

(7) About the history of immigration in America (in case anybody is interested to know history), check out this short video. Quickly, you’ll find out how “illegal” most of American ancestors were with no English speaking abilities.

(8) Trump and his white supremacist, racist people in power are using the immigrants as scapegoats to cover up their own evil acts.

(9) All the anti-union people have joined hands on this game including Koch Brothers, Heritage Foundation, NRA, KKK, and more.

Etc. Etc. Etc. All fact, and no hearsay or rumor.

At the end of the day, if you are afraid that immigrants take away your jobs, don’t worry, White America was built on genocide, war, violence, slavery, and racism. They even had publicly posted signs such as “No Dogs or Irish or blacks Allowed.”

Let alone signs such as “Whites Only. No Spanish or Mexican.”

Look, you’re not reading or learning: you are just falling for the traps the 1 percent created for you, to keep us divided and hateful. It serves their purpose, and not yours or mine. What is the difference between what your ancestors faced and what these immigrants are facing now?

Thank you for thinking.

The vast country of America is falling apart, and just like India, hate, bigotry and violence have taken over.

Extremism on one hand, and deliberate ignorance on the other have conquered America and India — the two countries I know.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Whites only sign

Flip-Flop Trump Stops Separation of Children, for Now. Media Never Discusses Why Undocumented Immigrants Come to America.

CNN children separated

CNN photo courtesy: for non-profit, educational use.

Trump now signs an executive order to stop separation of immigrant children from their parents. In a day, he changed his position 180 degrees! Even his own Republican Party (the so-called moderates) imploded.

This is not law and order. This is outrageous dictatorship, however way big media spins it. And many Americans (including many union workers) are viciously against “illegal aliens” because “they broke the law and must be deported, period.” Or, they are equally confused about the issue of immigration and immigrants, and believe there must be a way to keep “check and balance on the out of control” border crossing.

Why is there so much opposition and confusion by Republicans and Democrats alike? Because media and politicians — CNN, Fox, NYTimes or whatever — practically never discusses the reasons behind such a massive migration.

They never talk about U.S.-inflicted wars across the globe (Vietnam to Angola to Bangladesh to Salvador), and CIA-Kissinger’s support of tyrant dictators (Suharto, Pinochet, Marcos, the Shah of Iran…) that made millions flee.

Who destroyed stability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and to keep in power which power…we all know who. Who helped to create Taliban, IS. They never talk about corporate America’s war on food, water, agriculture, small businesses, and environment. They hardly ever talk about Clinton’s NAFTA that destroyed Mexico’s economy.

Bill Clinton’s repressive anti-immigrant law passed in 1996 never features on media discussion, even today!

Without any knowledge about what American rulers have done for decades, the ordinary American people must remain opposed or confused. Media and politicians from the two parties would not talk about the above, because their hands are bloody.

Check out the facts before you start another meaningless conversation.

New York Times published a good report on the immigration scenario. You can get the numbers from the study. But this day and age, nobody cares to read anything serious. People are driven by hate, rumors, fear, and yes, media lies and half truths.

You decide what you want to do.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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NYTimes immigration map

New York Times map on immigration around the world. Read the article to know the numbers of immigrants in various countries. USA has a much lower percent than some other countries. But people do not know.

Trump Is Destroying Lives of Immigrants.

migrant-caravan Newsweek

Photo Courtesy: Newsweek web (for non-profit, educational use only)

Against any common decency, ethics, and morality, let alone due process and legal procedures, Trump and his administration is destroying lives of poor immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico borders, by separating children from their parents. This is unheard of in the modern history of America.

Here’s the most recent story from New York Times.

Yet, there is very little outcry outside of the New York Times beltway. As if the entire country that brags itself to be the Land of Immigrants, went into deep slumber. The world-famous liberal American leaders such Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama are yet to be seen with their fiery human rights speeches! Sure, I know the first ladies denounced it. But their cry is feeble, and not making any impact at all.

Americans have lost their humanity, it seems, when it comes to undocumented, poor immigrants and their children. They do not matter to them much. Life goes on.

Trump is a known racist. He called immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” many times during his election campaign. He even called them “animals.” And corporate media and the big politicians did not come out strongly enough against his obnoxious racism.

Democratic Party and its pro-Clinton corporate leaders — not much different from their Republican counterparts — did not want to deal with the sensitive issue of immigration, for the fear of losing American votes. In fact, Clinton and Obama both deported undocumented immigrants in very large numbers, and Clinton passed one of the most brutal anti-immigrant laws in U.S. history.

Democrats lost anyways, and Trump’s policies after he became elected as the president, moved so far to the right that even the moderate Republican leaders now cringe.

But it’s too late for them to turn the clock back.

Meanwhile, at the borders, hundreds of thousands of poor children and their parents are being forcibly separated by U.S. border security forces. A country that brags about its Christianity and religious morale, is blatantly putting countless children in serious jeopardy. It is impossible to know how many children and their parents will be lost in this horrific brutality, and in that extreme heat and waterless, shelterless situation in the desert.

I have been there. I was a part of a pro-immigrant group of activists. We visited the borders of Arizona, Mexico, and the perilous Nogales desert trail many immigrants use, with help from often dishonest agents called coyotes. American media never report what kind of risks these people take to save their children’s lives. Many women and children drop dead, and then they bring their bodies, if recovered, to morgues for identification.

It’s an unbelievably inhumane situation down there. It’s a war zone. I have seen it.

American media and politicians also never discuss in what circumstances immigrants leave their own countries to come to America. The war, dictatorship, police brutality, land grabbing, loss of farms, loss of small business, any livelihoods — destruction of which is often inflicted by American powers — directly or indirectly. There is never any comprehensive discussion on the above on big media. Nobody knows.

Millions and millions of people are losing their lives because of a brutal and inhumane American ruling class. Now, the ruling class has a president who is as ruthless as Hitler.

Hitler separated Jewish parents from their children. We know the history.

Trump is repeating the history. Yet, there is so little outrage!

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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“Don’t even believe a single word I say.”

Optical Illusion
This is how I teach my labor union workers here in America.
People call me by my first name. “Partha,” they say, “I have a question.” Questioning, challenging, doubting what the teacher preaches is totally okay.

No, over the 30+ years I’ve lived in America, I have not changed my name to Pat or Paul. I have been adamant that my American students, teachers, colleagues and even neighbors pronounced my name correctly. If not, tough luck, I will not reply.

I teach a critical-thinking, interactive workshop to about 1500 union workers each year. Each class, I have about 30-40 students who go through the class I put together on a different subject each year. This year, we’re discussing extremism. Last year was human rights. The years before were climate change, immigration, economic inequality, etc.

Every class is attended by a group of union workers, and we do interactive discussion for six hours — with help of documentary video clips, fact sheets, individual and small-group brainstorming, and Q/A with help from peer-reviewed research. At the end of the day, we become more conversant on our own questions — pertaining to the subject of discussion.
This year, I’ve been using a special catch phrase. “Don’t even believe a single word I say,” I tell them in the beginning of class. “You do your own research, and find out. Then come back, and share your research with the rest of the class.” That’s how open and free my class is. That’s how I teach.

Unlike India, calling the professor by their first name is not a big deal here in the U.S. If and when somebody addresses me as Dr. Banerjee, I practically become uncomfortable.

I never believed in fake respect, and I never cared for the British colonial education, that would put the teacher at a higher, artificial pedestal — where anything but addressing a he-teacher as Sir and a she-teacher as Madam would be unacceptable, and even punishable.

Surprised? I even eat potato chips and my students drink their coffee in classroom, while teaching and learning. Then we clean up the classroom spic and span — ourselves. Doing your own chores is a lifestyle here.

India has joined the rat race to “become like America.” But India has not changed its feudal, prehistoric education system even by an inch, or by a millimeter.

Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
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World Cup Begins. I Refuse to Follow It.

Putin world cupPhoto courtesy (for non-profit, one-time use): Daily Beast.
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In this day and age, when nobody cares to read, or think, I am almost sure nobody outside of my few close friends and followers would read this post either. But because I have no other power than writing, I do this stupidity one more time: express my honest, heartfelt feelings.

I was a huge football (soccer) fan, and actually, quite a good player too. In Calcutta (Kolkata) where I grew up, football back in those days was the biggest sport. We played alley football (with a baseball-size rubber ball), and we also played field football (using an old, worn-out size 5 football with an inflatable rubber bladder inside the thick, rough leather skin). A number of times, at various leagues — mostly neighborhood leagues — I won the top scorer award, winning a small silver cup or more often a towel, which I flaunted to my classmates and family members.

Injuries were very common. Had countless doctor visits and minor surgeries. Then, playing cricket on a neighborhood London park, I broke my knee, ending my football career once and for all. Then, I coached for a while in upstate New York.

Some of my friends and I were almost like encyclopedia of football history. How many goals Pele scored in 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 World Cup. How disingenuous was Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. How England players brutally hurt Pele in 1966, and referee was silent! How Argentina’s Mario Kempes, Or Italy’s Paolo Rossi became household names overnight. And then, the long list of celebrity players like Socrates, Eusebio, Gordon Banks, Cryuff, Platini, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Cameroon’s West-undermined Roger Milla…all the way to today’s Germany’s seven goals against Brazil … to Spain’s Xavi and Iniesta … to Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi … I can really give you a one-hour fun presentation on football.

Nobody knows, but our Calcutta was our champion Brazil. We loved Brazil, and we loved football.

But I don’t follow World Cup anymore — just the same way I have now unfollowed cricket and Olympics.

World Cup football, just like World Cup cricket and Olympics, has now become anything but sports. It has lost its gamesmanship, and billions of dollars of profit and corporate advertisements have taken over. Practically, all the major outcomes are pre-determined, and fixed. Players and clubs are extremely rich, making billions, and they couldn’t care less about the unbelievable income and wealth disparity the world sees right now. Players — except for a small few like Drogba of Ivory Coast — don’t care about the unthinkable poverty, health crisis, environmental crisis, and illiteracy their own countries see right now, let alone the vast number of unfortunate around the world.

Olympics and World Cup games are now huge distractions created by big media worldwide to distract people’s attention from real-life issues. The games have become one more powerful weapon in the arsenal of the ruling class, who divert people’s attention from issues such as the children who make the balls, boots, jerseys, and countless items these big events use — earning slave wages. Million of poor workers — countless child labor included — live and work in abominable conditions. Nobody cares to talk about them, and their lifelong suffering.

Football stadiums are built using blood and sweat of hapless immigrant workers. Millions of impoverished people are displaced, and their homes are neighborhoods are destroyed. Those who protest are thrown in jails, or killed mercilessly.

Russia is now a new ruthless, violent power, with dubious connections with autocrats, supremacists, and crazy megalomaniacs like Trump. But these few weeks, nobody will talk about them. Nobody will talk about Putin. Media will make us forget all about it.

In 2022, four years from now, Qatar will host World Cup football. Already, thousands of slave-like workers have died in the desert, building stadiums. Workers from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and such countries in particular. Nobody cares to talk about them either.

It has truly become an era of post reason. Nobody wants to know the truth.

I refuse to be a part of this inhumane, cruel, violent, exploitative history, in the name of fun. I refuse to follow these games.

I hope you join me too.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Italy, France, and U.S. — Fast Trains!

high-speed-train-italy

When I was a TV journalist, I did a story for ABC network on America’s “new, fast trains.” Many years later, two weeks ago, I realized how incomplete my story was.

My story was on the Acela Express that U.S. launched back in those days. And my story was on that, given ABC TV slash their owner Disney slash American corporations slash my employers would love to show their consumers how great the accomplishment was.

Like, [drum roll] “One more feather on this mighty American cap: we have a very fast train launched, that can travel at a marvelous speed of…[drum roll]...150 miles an hour!” [cheers and claps]

And everybody in America would cheer and clap.

Problem is, that speed is laughably low.

Two weeks ago, we had a chance of a lifetime to travel Italy and France. In France, we did not have a chance to ride the fast trains. But definitely, even the commuter trains were much faster, greener, and cleaner compared to what we see here in the U.S. At least, what we see here in New York, where we live, and curse the subway system everyday. America’s commuter trains are slow, unclean, and almost always not on time.

Even my poor Calcutta’s subway trains and platforms are spic ‘n span, compared to the rat-infested, smelly New York Metro. Believe me, I’m not unnecessarily putting New York down. I truly love this city. I said it many times, if I can’t live in Calcutta, I would live in NYC.

And it’s not the fault of the hundreds of thousands of NYC workers who work very hard to maintain the trains and their schedules. A rampant, out-of-control privatized, pro-car, pro-oil system has defunded public transportation, driving it to doom. Add to it American’s strange psyche of car ownership, with zero regard for the environment.

But in Italy, we had a chance to ride the Italo trains — to travel between Rome and Naples, and back. The average speed was 300 kilometers an hour, which is 186 mph. We were awed. But that’s really an average speed for Europe’s trains, as shown in the picture above. Italo’s record speed is 575 km an hour, which is 357 mph!

Wow! We had no idea.

Japan, for your information, has a Maglev train that can reach up to 603 km/hour. But we never visited Japan, so we can’t tell you how it would feel to ride. Nausea, dizzy, nightmare?

On that Italo train with an “average” 300 kmph speed, however, we didn’t even realize it was going so fast. Everything seemed normal. And normal, average Italians were calm and cool: even that English-zero woman who asked me to get her luggage down to the platform (and profusely thanked me in Italian) never blinked when another train with an equally stormy speed stormed past us, and zoom-crossed almost in split seconds.

American powers and their corporations and media have all the money for making wars and bombs and drones and mines and Agent Orange around the world. They have all the money to bail out big banks that broke us down to bankrupt. But they have no money to upgrade their public transportation.

As I mentioned in my ABC TV story so many years ago — obliquely — that America’s train tracks are prehistoric. They are not capable of carrying trains like Italo or Maglev. Even Long Island Railroad or New York’s Metro North trains, with their miserably low speed, are crashing every now and then. Given that situation, I am thankful to God U.S. doesn’t have high-speed trains at all.

American powers and corporations and politicians and media are also thankful. They are thankful that the American people don’t have a clue how far behind this country is, compared with the rest of the developed, capitalist world.

The world turns faster today. Here in America, the speed is slow. Very slow.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Fascinating France and Incredible Italy!

I’m borrowing this article from Mukti’s Kitchen, a well-known Indian cooking class in New York. Visit her website and Yelp reviews from her students.

Mukti and I just came back from a trip to Italy and France. It was wonderful. This is an overview of our trip. I’ll write more in the coming weeks.

Although the vacation was too short, and both the countries have so many beautiful places you can see, it was simply great to be able to visit Paris and Rome. It is only a matter of time before we go back, and check out places we missed this time.

In Paris, we took a bus tour to see the famous sites. Of course it included the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg Garden, the Pantheon, the Latin Quarters, and Louvre. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go inside the Louvre, and it was already very crowded in late May. But we compensated for that gap by taking a boat cruise along the Seine at night, and to see the Tour Eiffel lit up and glittering like gold was phenomenal.

Eiffel Tower

[Author and his wife Mukti in front of Eiffel Tower]

Paris is truly a wonderful, artistic city, and we had a knowledgeable, young guide who helped us to understand the depth of history that the city offers. And the cleanliness everywhere — on the street, along the metro trains, Paris can definitely brag to be one of the most well-cared-for big cities in the world. And Parisians were, unlike what we often hear, were extremely helpful and kind. Many French people speak English, and those who do not also try their best to help you out.

Our second stop was Italy, where we spent one more day than we did in France. There, we depended on our walking skills to roam through the city of Rome. Rome has incredible history: from the Colosseum to the Forum to the Pantheon to some of the oldest churches including  Santa Maria in Trastevere to the markets at Campo di Fiori. Rome was simply fascinating!

Colosseum

[Photo by author]

Our added attractions were to visit the city of Naples by a 300-kilometer per hour high-speed train, and then also take a local train ride to the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Unbelievable history, incredibly precious experience. Pompeii  was destroyed by a catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius (which is still a live volcano!), and the skeletons of the little town houses, gardens, pools, markets, and streets still stand to tell us about that great tragedy. Even some of the bodies buried live in the mudslide and lava are preserved as “fossils”. A very touching, heartbreaking story we heard since our childhood in Calcutta.

Pompeii preserved body

[Photo by author]

In both Italy and France, we had many opportunities to taste their foods, beverages and desserts. Simply put, I have never tasted food so real, fresh, and delicious — outside of my own kitchen. Even at the moderately-priced hotel in Rome, the breakfast they served early in the morning was so normal and natural: the cheese and tomato and bread and fruits and yogurt were absolutely fresh.

France and Italy have done a remarkable job to keep their foods out of the clutches of food doctoring, preservatives, and artificial flavor- and chemical-producing companies. I remember when we went to Granada and Barcelona in Spain a few years ago, we had a very similar experience.

Whether it was the chicken dish we ate at a  restaurant in the Trocadero in Paris or the crêpe in the Latin Quarters, or whether it was the pizza or pasta we tasted at small streetside eateries in Naples and Rome, they were simply high quality. And not pricey at all. Very affordable: the average people eat there all the time. Even the fruit juices we tried in both countries were pristine. The orange juice tasted like real, fresh orange.

And the countless gelato (ice cream) corners in both countries — so lovely!

So glad we took the trip. Short, but memorable and sweet. We shall return.

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Farmers Market at Campo di Fiori

[Photo by author]