Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boycotting Arizona

I heard a suggestion that computer science conferences not be held in Arizona because of their new anti-immigration law. Both Bill and I have discussed academic boycotts before in regards to China, Israel and South Dakota. I have not been a fan of academic boycotts because we shouldn't push a political agenda that isn't directly related to the health of our field. Otherwise we start down a slippery slope that could prevent us from having conferences just about anywhere and punishes local researchers that have played no role in and often oppose those very policies.

The Arizona issue literally hit close to home. Our local high school (where my older daughter attends) had decided to withdraw the girl's basketball team from an Arizona tournament planned in December. Many of the parents have gotten quite upset about using high school athletics to push a political agenda. Sarah Palin had her say during a visit to Chicago last week. The school board says it wasn't a political decision:
Under long standing constitutional law, all school districts are required to provide an education to all children within the District’s borders regardless of immigration status. District 113 boasts a diverse student population and, as a school district, we believe in equal opportunity for each of our students.  The selection of a girls’ varsity basketball team for the 2010-2011 winter athletic season will take place in November, 2010.  The team has yet to be selected.  When our students travel, the school district is responsible, both legally and ethically, for their safety, security and liberty.  We cannot commit at this time to playing at a venue where some of our students’ safety or liberty might be placed at risk because of state immigration law.  Our athletes will play in a competitive basketball tournament during their winter break.
but that didn't stop a heated debate in last night's school board meeting.

44 comments:

  1. It's not always about "using" things to "push a political agenda" -- in some cases (like Arizona) an agenda is being pushed either way. If the decision is made to ignore AZ's laws and hold events there anyway, that has an effect on any non-white person who might want to participate in that event. If they are (I would say justifiably) nervous about traveling to a place where by law they are targeted as potential undesirables, the only way they can respond is to drop out of the event. And if events are still held there regardless, then they are implicitly being told that their concerns are irrelevant to the community.

    Of the parents who were upset about the basketball decision, how many were hispanic? Is it really right to make parents who are in the targeted group send their children to AZ anyway, just because the new law doesn't inconvenience the ethnic majority? I would certainly have reservations about sending my daughter to AZ as things stand (if she was older). A decision like that isn't about pushing a political agenda (which could be argued for some of the more general boycotts), it's about making sure that your own students aren't excluded from school activities.

    So yes, I see a big difference between a broad industry / contract boycott over disagreements with government decisions, and a travel / event boycott to a place where the law explicitly targets minorities in that area -- that's about protecting our community and making sure participants feel safe, not "just" about making a political statement.

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  2. The commitment to access and openness comes first, which has nothing to do with the political issues of the day. If members of your own community cannot attend meetings of the community, you are defeating the purpose.

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  3. Appealing to bad slippery slope arguments is a REAL slippery slope. There is no serious threat that we won't be able to have conferences "just about anywhere." Proposed boycotts should be evaluated on their individual merits.

    My two cents: proposed boycotts should be weighed according to their proposed effectiveness. China and Israel have had terrible human rights records for decades. A boycott isn't going to change that, although Israel's smaller economy is more vulnerable, and there are other ways of engaging both countries.

    Arizona is much more vulnerable to boycotts and more likely to pay attention in the short term. This issue is also closer to home, for the Americans here. By and large, the boycott is very well targeted. Unlike China, say, Arizona is a democracy, so the voters are the best targets. Local academics are not harmed much at all, since travel within the US is easy. There is finally a large movement to boycott Arizona, which magnifies any individual's effectiveness. Setting up a personal boycott is akin to joining a Facebook petition group, but working together we can make change.

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  4. PRO BOYCOTT: If we had a Conf in AZ then
    some of the non-white participants would
    JUSTFIABLY nervous.

    CON BOYCOTT: Imagine if we had a conf in AZ and (say) Subhash Khot got hassled and then beat up by the cops
    (``You claim you work on the Unique game Conjecture? What a bunch of crap- besides
    its probably false. Get the teargas!'')
    And this story became a national and later
    an international incident. This would show the absurdity of the AZ law!

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  5. It was clearly a political decision and people who claim it isn't should be embarrassed. In years past the basketball team has traveled outside the country for example. If you are an illegal immigrant, your going to have a lot harder time coming back through customs from outside the country than you are traveling to and from Arizona, but that has never bothered the school in the past. And the same documentation that gets you through customs would also be sufficient to avoid any problems in Arizona. And frankly, the Arizona law has been profoundly misrepresented by its critics to make it seem heavy handed when in fact it is pretty innocuous. When people realize what it actually is the vast majority agree with it. Though probably not the vast majority of lefty academics (witness how fast "the horror" of Israel made it into the comments).

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  6. Arizona has already shown itself to be susceptible to a tourist boycott. Arizona was the last state to have some sort of holiday on MLK Day. (New Hampshire had a half-baked day but it did have something.) Among other boycotts the 1991 move of the 1993 Superbowl from Phoenix to Pasadena because MLK Day had been rescinded in Arizona by Evan Mecham in 1987 led to a referendum that passed MLK Day there in 1992.

    I don't expect this time to be any different.

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  7. I don't by your Argument Lance. Are you saying that the Academic community shouldn't have boycotted Nazi Germany?

    Once you've opened the door to any academic boycotting the argument that academics should never boycott is just invalid. Then you have to decide what you as an academic stand for and what things you feel are worth boycotting over.

    Personally I think that any issue involving inclusiveness is worth protesting. I think in Academia enabling discovery has to have priority of making discoveries, and since you never know where the next major insight will come from you have to include everyone without bias. Academia has failed in that regard many times in the past, and that's unfortunate, but it's the one thing that just makes sense. I want the worlds collective knowledge to reflect the best everyone has to offer not reflect the worst aspects of humanity.

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  8. Please remember that you have to COMMIT A CRIME before you would be asked to prove that you are in the country legally.

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  9. "Please remember that you have to COMMIT A CRIME before you would be asked to prove that you are in the country legally."

    Yeah, go on, pull the other one.

    https://www.checkpointusa.org/DHS/homelandSecurity.htm


    (Also: "Excuse me sir, may I see that iPod?")

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  10. To the last anon, quoting the article
    Lance pointed to:

    ``and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally''

    My reading is that they really can charge you with a DWH (Driving While Hispanic).
    (This is a NEW acroynom. DWB has been around for a while.)

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  11. responding to GASARCH: Your reading of the law isn't actually a reading of the law, it is a reading of the article about the law. You've taken more of an Eric Holder approach to analyzing it apparently (i.e. don't read the law, just assume). The actual law actually explicitly forbids stops for DWH. Additionally, the police have to have a reason to stop you involving some crime or civil infraction.

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  12. When I joined G. Tech, on our international orientation day, we were told that the law requires us to carry our immigration registration all the time. Though our international student coordinator also told us that the law is rarely enforced. Since carrying the original registration is not easy, he suggested to carry a copy o I-94 (preferrably notorized), and in case we travel even domestically to another city, we should take our passport etc with us.

    Carrying passport is not easy, but I always carry my green card with me. And if I travel to another city, I will also take my passport with me.

    Is it that Arizona law is just increasing the enforcement of some existing law? Personally I find these immigration law unfair, not particularly Arizona's law, since the primary motivation of their existence is to deny equal opportunities to people who are born in the less fortunate countries.

    If it the reason is security, as some of us might say, then the burden of the proof should be on the law enforcement agencies, and they do maintain lists such as no-fly lists of people.

    For the academic community, we should take a metric based approach. We should compile a set of data where people are not able to attend due to immigration reasons. I attended a recent workshop at Barbados, there were at least 4 or 5 people who had to change the workshop attendance plan due to Barbados laws, which required the security clearance from Barbados police. Some people were not able to attend all together.

    Based on this data, I would imagine that holding conference in Barbados is much worse than holding them in Arizona.

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  13. if we boycott AZ, should we boycott mexico as their laws are much harsher in this respect? http://www.ktsm.com/is-mexicos-protest-of-arizonas-immigration-law-hypocritical

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  14. Arizona's SB 1070 is a defiant and unrealistic law that is more intended to stir up fear and conflict than it is to function as a practical law.

    Federal immigration violations are technically civil infractions and not "crimes", even though the penalties can be as severe as criminal sentences. So, while there is a lot of political pressure to enforce immigration laws, there is no principle that the laws MUST be enforced. They largely can't be enforced, because in many ways they are arbitrary, and in contradiction with entire sectors of the economy.

    On paper, SB1070 converts a fiasco of civil infractions into a mass of state crimes. If this were a serious law, hundreds of thousands of Arizona residents would be deported fairly quickly. But the law doesn't even provide any funding for this massive police action that it demands. Instead, residents can sue a state agency if it refuses to enforce immigration laws. Some of the politicians who favor the law have said that it doesn't need much enforcement, it will just scare illegal immigrants away.

    In practice it will surely be yet another fiasco. The state economy will refuse to part company with its illegal immigrant workers. Heavy police duties that aren't funded, won't be carried out. Instead, the law will be yet another excuse to harass illegal immigrants on a spot basis, and cast about blame. Maybe at first the law will be dangerous to conference attendees, but not in the long term.

    It seems like a minor exaggeration to justify a boycott on non-political grounds. A political boycott could be defensible, but it does seem like academia has proposed a few too many of those. One question is whether a school or a conference would want to change venue away from Arizona without ostentatiously making it a boycott. If it can do that, then maybe it's not political.

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  15. Kamal, to answer your question, not carrying immigration papers is a federal civil infraction with a fine of $100. Arizona has made the same transgression a misdemeanor with a minimum $500 fine plus jail time. Repeated violations are a felony. Moreover, as you say, the federal law is rarely enforced. Maybe the Arizona law will also be rarely enforced, but state residents can sue an agency that the deliberately fails to enforce it.

    Arizona SB1070 has many other clauses with other consequences. It's a long story, but the gist of it is a lot of spot harassment, and yet no viable mechanism for systematic enforcement.

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  16. As I said, my personal opinion is that many immigration laws are unfair, and the burden of proof must be on the law enforcement agencies.

    On the practical side, the law could say that the immigration paperwork should be in the same metro area, instead of saying it should be in person.

    Also if somebody claims he/she is actually a US citizen and not subject to these laws, would te police also ask to produce a proof on the spot? So when the police can't verify the applicability of the law on the spot, then it looks like a logical fallacy to implement the law on the spot (unless Arizona law makers claim that they can say whether a person is a US citizen or not by looking at the face, well, in that case it is accepting the accusation of racist law).

    I actually have witnessed racism on the US/Canada border. Before 9/11 incident, if you look like a westerner, in some cases you could walk through the Niagara bridge without anybody asking you for paperwork. But if you look like an Asian, they will stop you for document verification (well, it makes statistical sense as many other racist actions make, but it is still racism). Now of course they have changed it.

    After post 9/11 incident, when EC was in Vancouver. A researcher once forgot to brought his passport or any other proof of US citizenship to Canadian border at WA/BC crossing to attend EC. Since he looks like a westerner, he was given approval to enter Canada by answering a quiz correctly. Again it makes statistical sense, but using the looks for any official decision making is racism.

    It is possible that Arizona law may be enforced by the looks. You look non-westerners, show your paperwork, even if you are a US citizen.

    I would still think it is none of academic community business. If we would collect data, I would say more scientists would find less immigration related hurdles in attending a workshop or a conference anywhere in the USA, including Arizona, than in a many other places of the world. As I observed recently at an approximation workshop on Approximation Algorithms. One plenary talk had to be canceled, another one had to be rescheduled.

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  17. Many European countries have stricter immigration-control laws than the new AZ one. Should they all by boycotted as well? Should they be ranked on how strict their immigration laws are? Who should rank them?

    Practically all developing countries have vastly worse human rights laws and records than does AZ. How about boycotting all of them too?

    While it is commendable that Americans raise their voice against bigotry, some perspective please...

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  18. All the arguments about "some other place has strict enforcement of immigration" are completely unconvincing. For one thing, "some other place" doesn't in general have racist enforcement of immigration, targeted purely based on skin color, the way Arizona historically has and with this new law will predictably continue to have. For another, two wrongs don't make a right.

    We shouldn't locate conferences in places that will disproportionately make the non-white members of our community uncomfortable; right now, that means Arizona. And I think it's also a good thing to avoid sending our travel money to Arizona, as a way to keep the pressure on the state leaders to reverse their racist actions.

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  19. Boycotting computer science conferences in AZ, China, Israel etc. is arrogant. Lance cannot claim to understand the background and the implications of immigration laws or state actions, and so these boycotts are motivated mainly by hysteria and propaganda. Dependent on the polls 60..70% of the Americans support SB1070, which is much milder than the immigration laws of most European countries. The worst one could say about SB1070 is that it has a potential to be misused. But by whom? The majority of AZ policemen are Hispanic. It is shameful that we even discuss boycotts.

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  20. > We shouldn't locate conferences in places that will disproportionately make the non-white members of our community uncomfortable--
    You all heard in TV that the black American sportsmen were insulted in Austria a couple of years ago. My wife was beaten up in Germany, more than once, even by policemen, just because she looked and spoke foreign. An airport attendant misplaced the travel papers of a member of my family in Paris, and the police put her in jail, not the attendant, without even listening to her. There are hundreds and thousands of such well documented incidents against foreigners in Western Europe. Many of my friends and colleagues feel uncomfortable in Germany, Austria and France. There real atrocities happen, not just someone fears that bad things could possibly happen to some. So until these three countries are not boycotted, don't even bring AZ up.

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  21. I'm sick of people telling me "until all the other bigger chunks of pure evil in the world are eliminated, don't pay attention to this little chunk of pure evil sitting right here". It's evil, it's in our own back yards, we should clean it up.

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  22. D. Eppstein misunderstood the point: A conference boycott should be against places, where many participants feel uncomfortable, being subjected to unfair practices. Cleaning up "evil" is an issue motivated by his political views, not shared by the majority of people. What he thinks is evil might not be felt as such by the families of murdered and kidnapped Arizonans. There is an immigration problem. He might not like the AZ law trying to address it, but this does not make the law "evil".

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  23. We should boycott UCI. Consider the following pure evil from the california penal code:

    834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully
    cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization
    Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is
    suspected of being present in the United States in violation of
    federal immigration laws.
    (b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected
    of being present in the United States in violation of federal
    immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the
    following:
    (1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen
    of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent
    resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time
    or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of
    immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not
    be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and
    place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding
    documentation to indicate his or her legal status.

    (2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien
    who is present in the United States in violation of federal
    immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal
    justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or
    leave the United States.
    (3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United
    States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal
    status and provide any additional information that may be requested
    by any other public entity.
    (c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city,
    county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with
    jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent
    or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly
    prohibited.

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  24. Totally agree with Anon #23 and #20.
    It is not up to people like D. Eppstein to decide what is "evil" and what is not. Especially when he seems to decide for us already. If you have reservations regarding the AZ law, please address it in a civilized manner, while explaining with precise terms what exactly is "evil" about it, why it is evil, and based on what kind of ethical system it is evil/immoral. Otherwise, it seems like you assume everyone has, or worse, should have, the same opinions as you do, which is arrogant as anon#20 already said.

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  25. Antoher grad student7:14 PM, May 18, 2010

    It is also NOT up to those who think we should NOT boycott AZ as well to decide for the community.

    (D. Eppstein is expressing his views as you are doing. You are not the representative of the community to decide that we should not boycott AZ. Maybe it is more important for you to be ab academic than being a human and hide your head in the sand, it is not for some of us.)

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  26. I disapprove of the Arizona law, and I think its racial profiling ramifications may make it immoral and not just wrong. But I don't think it rises to the level that it deserves a boycott because of that.

    However as a practical matter, many scientists are immigrants, and not all of them remember to carry their documentation with them at all time. (I don't carry my green card with me- I heard it's an incredible hassle if it gets lost - and I don't want to take that chance, and so I only carry a (by now rather tattered) photocopy.) So, the higher likelihood for a participant getting arrested or just feeling uncomfortable can count for a reason to prefer a venue not in Arizona. I may feel a bit uncomfortable and unwelcomed there, and perhaps other non-citizens will feel the same.

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  27. Most of the opposition to the AZ law on this blog appear to based on some distorted fantasy about what the law is. (see for example GASARCH's comments)

    Stopping someone without probable cause for some other infraction - explicitly forbidden in the text.
    Using race as a basis for probable cause - explicitly forbidden in the text.

    The only comment in opposition that I saw that is responsive to the actual law, not the campus sloganeering version is that it is inconvenient to carry your green card. That's the law in the whole US and has been since before most of us were born.

    The only real difficulty it causes is for illegal immigrants. I'll grant that it does make it harder for them to live illegally in Arizona. If that is the evil you see then make that argument. But if your problem with it is that it is going to create problems for people here legally, there really isn't much support for that proposition.

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  28. I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

    I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

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  29. I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

    I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

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  30. Benito, I'm not clear what your argument is. Is your argument that the law is bad because it makes it harder for illegal immigrants to live in Arizona, or are you trying to say something else?

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  31. That so many commenters feel the need to remain anonymous when expressing (especially conservative) opinions about political issues reflects badly on tolerance in academia. Anonymous commentators are probably worried, and properly so, about their, or our?, career prospects if it is discovered they do not toe the party line. This is hardly surprising despite the interest in diverse viewpoints academia supposedly cherishes.

    David's comments for instance do not put anyone at ease in this regard. Some things are surely evil, but when this word is bandied around it either loses its meaning or tells the rest of us to shut up until we get tenure.

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  32. If had a green card, I would avoid conferences in Arizona. The danger of committing a crime simply because I forget the green card in my hotel room would not be worth it.

    Anonymous at 6:39pm: This is more than just about "convenience"; It is just not reasonable to make not carrying a green card a criminal act, and it does not only hurt the "illegal immigrants", as you say.

    When I travel to the U.S., I only need a visa waiver, and if I understand this correctly, I should be safe. So I may (or may not) still attend conferences in Arizona...

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  33. Anon 33, not carrying a green card isn't made a criminal act by the law. Nor is being a visitor without your passport. When reading 13-1509 of hb 2162 it does look like it does, until you get to:
    F. This section does not apply to a person who maintains authorization
    from the federal government to remain in the United States.

    So the penalty only applies to people here illegally. If you were stopped and asked to verify that you were in the country legally the easiest thing would be to show your green card or visa, but if you didn't have it on your person there still wouldn't be any charges. In your hotel example that could mean a trip to the hotel in the police car, but the bill contains no penalties of any sort for people in the country legally who are found without their documentation.

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  34. D Epstein says: "I'm sick of people telling me "until all the other bigger chunks of pure evil in the world are eliminated, don't pay attention to this little chunk of pure evil sitting right here". It's evil, it's in our own back yards, we should clean it up."

    The problem with this is that it is clearly pure hypocrisy. There are 100 worse evils just on your backyard that you do not choose to address. You are taking an ugly and annoying politic move of AZ and raising it to the level of an "evil", which it certainly isn't, in order to justify a stupid and arrogant call for boycott which is really shallow trendiness.

    Likely that about half of the US readers of this blog do not agree with your assessment (including the amazing statement that AZ police is more racist than that of other states -- like LAPD maybe?). Despite being humans and not just academics they would rather see political issues debated elsewhere, not on a complexity blog. For the European readers of this blog, the whole debate is on extremely minor details relative to the debates over immigration that they have at home (without involving suggestions of computational complexity boycotts.)

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  35. School Board politics is among the roughest kind ... I know from personal experience because my wife has served on the Seattle School Board ... twice I served as my wife's campaign manager/fund raiser ... once winning the election (yay!) ... once losing the election (ouch!).

    One good heuristic for getting the most out of your School Board, as a member the public, is to press for facts. How many non-citizen children are in the school system? How many of them are illegal? How many are in foster-care programs?

    And most importantly, what concrete actions are being taken to help those kids become productive citizens?

    That's because informed public debate and concrete actions are (in our family's experience) both of them more effective than boycotts.

    They are also much harder to achieve.

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  36. Aaron Sterling8:35 AM, May 19, 2010

    That so many commenters feel the need to remain anonymous when expressing (especially conservative) opinions about political issues reflects badly on tolerance in academia.

    Or perhaps it speaks to the spinelessness, and lack of scientific ability, of the anonymous commenters. I was attacked by a slew of anonymous commenters over a period of days, after I guestblogged here about how well ITCS ran the first ICS conference. Those anonymous commenters seemed incapable of reading past the first couple (easy, nonscientific) paragraphs of what I wrote.

    I took it harder than I should have, probably, and didn't read, or comment, on CS blogs for some months. Also, I heard from someone, later on, that other people, much more established than I am, declined to do followup posts on ICS, in part because of the toxic atmosphere the anonymous "how dare you go to China, much less praise them" comments I had unwittingly provoked. If that's true, I'd say anonymous argumentative comments are a net negative for the field overall.

    And, seriously, I have to wonder if you are willing to do anything besides be opinionated, if you won't stand behind your words. I didn't apply for a student travel grant to STOC because I didn't agree with the Hyatt labor policies. Now, maybe I wouldn't have gotten a grant even if I had applied, who knows. But I made a (small) career decision because of a political principle. How do you expect to have any constructive influence on the world at all, if you won't stand up for what you believe in?

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  37. The real point of the outrage over Arizona's new law is not whether the particular sanctions or impacts are worse than other laws. The key is that it is a new injustice that is not fully entrenched. Isolating and stigmatizing Arizona (for stigmatizing undocumented/illegal immigrants and others who might seem to be immigrants) is likely to keep other jurisdictions from repeating what Arizona has done (or enacting laws with similar intent) and, based on past experience, will actually be effective in getting rid of the injustice.

    It is hard to see what anyone in Arizona can actually think is a positive impact of the law, except as the legislative equivalent of a protest march, with no intent on enforcement. As police forces both in Arizona and elsewhere know, making police enforce immigration rules is counterproductive to public safety as it makes people, who would otherwise be helpful with respect to policing crime, fearful of police. I would be very surprised if the law still exists a year or two from now.

    I am both an American by birth and an immigrant, having been born and grown up in Canada. I am often taken aback by the negative reaction to "foreigners" in this "land of immigrants" compared to the reactions in Canada. (It is not so much of a surprise that European countries which are much more culturally monolithic than the US have stronger reactions against immigrants.)

    Canada's rules over the last 40 years or so have been much more benign for immigrants than those in the US. This is despite the fact that Canada offers much greater social services to everyone so the "burden" of immigrants on the system is greater. Multiculturalism rather than the melting pot has been the paradigm.

    It is not as though the percentage of new immigrants in the US has been larger than that in Canada. For many years the US population was 10 times Canada's. Two decades ago the US had a population of 250 million versus 25 million for Canada. Now the US population is a little over 300 million whereas Canada's is over 35 million.

    The differences are reflected even in the terms used in the two countries: In the US, immigrants are "resident aliens" versus "landed immigrants" in Canada. Resident aliens are technically required to notify the US government of every address change and carry their precious green cards at all times. There is nothing similar for landed immigrants - until recently the only proof was just a slip of paper one kept in one's passport. The creation of landed immigrant cards was only a post-9/11 change at the behest of the US.

    This doesn't mean that Canada doesn't do bad things - all I have to say is "tar sands" - but it does seem that xenophobia is much less of an issue there than in the US.

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  38. Paul: I totally agree with you that Canada is wiser in a number of ways than the United States. Not in every respect, but certainly the US could learn a few things from Canada, and immigration is one example.

    However, your statistics about the countries' populations is a bit off. Yes, Canada has a distinctly higher immigration rate than the US, but it also has a lower birth rate, and I also don't know about the emigration rates. The population ratio using Wikipedia numbers is very close to constant:

    2010: 11.03%
    2000: 10.91%
    1990: 11.06%
    1980: 10.82%

    Maybe the biggest difference is not the sheer immigration rate, but simply that immigrants to Canada are treated better. Illegal immigrant status in the United States has become an entrenched class system. A much smaller fraction of Canadian immigrants are "illegal", and they are treated more as equals.

    That brings the discussion back to what is really going on Arizona. However much Arizona insists that its goal is to end "trespass" by illegal immigrants, it's not true. Illegal immigrants are 5-10% of Arizona's population, mass deportation will never be any more than a convenient threat, and "trespass" is mainly a pretext for second-class status. SB1070 in particular will do more to degrade illegal immigrants than to deport them.

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  39. “All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

    It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law.

    As for the undocumented workers, as Ronald Reagan said “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good we say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when we are in a down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass. The real problem is the narcosis/drug and people smuggler that’s what the focus should be on.

    Don’t you find it funny that no one ever voted for Governor Brewer, it’s all about politics, do not be fooled. Busy Brewer has passed S.B. 1070, no permit conceal weapons law, the famous Birthers law banning Ethic studies law, and if history is a lesson their House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which failed when challenged) and the one that was the funniest the boycott of Martin Luther King Day, not wanting another holiday. I believe there is an undercurrent to their enactment of new laws, they real love following a distinct pattern.

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  40. I look forward to 2011 when the REAL ID Act goes into effect. The uninformed ramblings in the comments section of this academic blog should make for good laughter for days if not weeks.

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  41. can we boycott Australia now that they have broad rights to search my laptop if I travel there?

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  42. Greg: Though I was wrong about the time period (Canada passed 10% of the US population in the 1960's rather than the 1980's) the basic conclusion is that the rate of immigration is even marginally higher than in the US yet it still does not promote the same level of backlash.

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  43. To the anonymous commenter who wrote:

    That so many commenters feel the need to remain anonymous when expressing (especially conservative) opinions about political issues reflects badly on tolerance in academia. ... David's comments for instance ... tells the rest of us to shut up until we get tenure.

    I don't know how you make the leap from the actual situation (me writing non-anonymously, several more-conservative posters writing anonymously) to the bizarre conclusion that I'm intolerant of others' political views, but let me be clear.

    I very much do not wish the people I disagree with to shut up. That would be the antithesis of academic freedom and free speech, principles I hold dear. I would like some of them to change their minds, but that's a completely different thing.

    I haven't ever let my feelings on someone's political views influence how I think of them as a researcher, and I have no intention of ever doing so in the future. I have colleagues and co-authors with whom I have strong political disagreements; that doesn't stop me from working with them.

    But it also doesn't stop me from expressing my own opinions, under my own name, when I think it appropriate. Your comment comes across as trying to censure me for doing so and I find that almost as offensive as your incorrect assumptions about my tolerance.

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