Friday, April 15, 2016

Learning to Trust the Legal System


For John, BLUFAs we see here in Lowell, it is sometimes hard for immigrants to build trust for the agents of Government, especially the police and courts.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for his comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico.  Yes, Mr Trump painted with a broad brush, and he shouldn't have.

However, Mr Trump opened a door to some fundamental issues, a door the Democrats tried to slam shut.  That door is what about where these illegal immigrants are from?  Someone coming to the United States, from Mexico, or further south, does not come with instant American values, with an American sense of, belief in, justice.  They have only a small fraction of the trust Americans have in the police and the courts.  How does that play out over the years?  How do we visualize them?

  • Are they worthy citizens who are economic immigrants, looking for a better opportunity?
  • Are they frightened citizens escaping the dangers of a culture where the rich and connected exploit the less fortunate?
  • Are they the rich and connected?
I am guessing they are not the rich and connected, who can get visas and come in the regular way.  As for the other groups, there is a good chance they have been living in dysfunctional communities and wish to escape.  As we think about it, we should wonder about what cultural patterns they are bringing with them.  Are their ways of coping such that they cannot easily slide into an American way of life outside the shadows of an illegal immigrant culture.

A look at the disfunction in Mexico today is provided by Mr León Krauze and The New Yorker, in an article headlined "Los Porkys:  The Sexual-Assault Case That’s Shaking Mexico".

Here is the lede plus one:

For several centuries, the port city of Veracruz, located in the Mexican state of the same name, was known for its carnival.  Now, though, it’s known for corruption and terror.  The state has become territory for the fearsome Zeta drug cartel.  According to a study by Mexico’s bureau of statistics, eight out of ten people in the state say they live in fear.  At least fifteen journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2011. During the same period, hundreds of other people have vanished.  Father Alejandro Solalinde, one of Mexico’s leading human-rights advocates, has called Veracruz “a factory of forced disappearances.”  To many citizens, there is little difference between the rich and the government, and between the government and the criminals.

In this climate, most people don’t come forward when crimes are committed.  In fact, in 2014, only one in ten was reported to local authorities, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, also known as INEGI, after its Spanish-language acronym.  But in recent weeks, a man named Javier Fernández, whose daughter Daphne Fernández has accused a group of well-to-do young men of sexually assaulting her, seems to have sparked a mini revolt against the status quo.  (Her name has been published in numerous Mexican media outlets and she gave us permission to use it here.)  In seeking vengeance and denouncing the authorities for their handling of the case, Fernández has turned the story into a national outrage.

So, Veracruz, on the Mexican shore of the Gulf of Mexico, sounds more Medieval than Modern, in terms of justice for all.

The question for those advocating more open immigration and for the legalization of illegal immigrants, is how they see the US assimilating such immigrants into our culture, our sense of justice for all and our police and justice systems.  In asking this I am not saying that we systems are perfect or even near perfect.  What I am saying is that the qualitative difference may be such that those new to the nation can't accept it.  How do we help those people function as Americans, in an American system, rather than as Mexicans, thinking they are still operating in a Mexican system.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Which is, I believe, an insult to the American police and legal systems.

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