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The border is not the problem

Vie, 21/11/2014 - 06:03

BARACK OBAMA gives a good speech: that much is clear. For your British correspondent, inured to the lazy xenophobic rhetoric of his country’s politicians, it is hard not to be uplifted by the president’s appeal to Americans to accept immigrants as equals. Giving the example of a brilliant young girl from Nevada, he asked Americans: “Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant… or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?” A British politician would never ask such a question, for fear that the answer would be “nope, kick her out.”

But, for all of the inspiring rhetoric Mr Obama produces, his speech underlined the way all politicians seem to approach immigration in broadly the same way, regardless of where they are from. For example, take the obsession with borders. The very first thing that Mr Obama said that he has done is tighten border security: “Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history.” This supports the common idea–reinforced by Republican complaints—that most illegal immigrants smuggle themselves over the border....Continue reading

Those huddled masses

Jue, 20/11/2014 - 20:37

LET'S put aside the political, legal and constitutional implications of the executive action on immigration that the president will announce tonight for a moment and look at the problem that Barack Obama is trying to address. Here are all the numbers you need to have a well-informed argument about illegal immigration and deportation in America.

The Pew Research Center puts the number of illegal immigrants in America at 11.3m. If they were all in a single state it would be America's eighth largest by population, just behind Ohio. As the chart below shows, this is not a new phenomenon. Though Mr Obama's political opponents accuse him of being lax on immigration, the big increases took place before he took office.

 

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Selective empathy

Mié, 19/11/2014 - 06:57

WITH the latest legal challenge to Obamacare coming to their courtroom in early 2015, and with arguments over same-sex marriage likely to follow, the nine justices will soon decide whether to roll back rights and benefits that millions of Americans already enjoy. Cancelling tax subsidies for some 5m low-income Americans or stripping gays and lesbians of a right to wed in dozens of states would fuel the ultimate summertime rewrite of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

Such rulings would be stunning, but not out of place for the most conservative Supreme Court we have witnessed in decades. But they may point to a deeper problem in the Court, says Dahlia Lithwick in the New Republic. The justices, she argues, are no longer...Continue reading

Lighting the fuse

Mar, 18/11/2014 - 18:15

WHEN I was a correspondent for The Economist in Brazil, people still occasionally used the phrase "deu no New York Times" (it was in the New York Times) to mean that something was undoubtedly true. The fallout from the Times’s story about Barack Obama’s mooted executive action on immigration reminded me of this, even though it seems a presidential directive is not quite imminent. There is talk now of delaying it until after a budget is passed in December. Yet the story's appearance in the Grey Lady substantiates suspicions that the president is seriously considering a turn borrowed from the Guy Fawkes manual for dealing with parliamentarians.

The proposed move has been described as “poisoning the well”. Mitch McConnell, the next Majority Leader of the Senate, has likened it to “waving a red flag in front of a bull''. But you don’t need a dramatic analogy to grasp that a sweeping executive action on immigration would probably lead to a...Continue reading

I wanna take your hand

Lun, 17/11/2014 - 18:48

IF ALL you need is love, as the Beatles say, perhaps it makes sense that a shrinking share of Americans are even bothering with marriage. In 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010—and 23% of women—will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living "in sin" seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one...Continue reading

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