The Dominican Republic, as it did nearly 80 years ago when offering Jewish refugees visas after the dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered an ethnic cleansing at the Haitian border, is trying to polish its international reputation after carrying out human rights violations condemned around the world. This time, it still has a chance to do the right thing by changing its policies on deportation and denationalization. My thoughts in Foreign Policy on October 8, 2015, about the country’s attempt to gloss over 11 counts of violations of the commitments it made under the American Convention on Human Rights, on which it has reneged and on what it could do to make things right (and make its public relations consultants’ job easier).
Sam Koebrich from cfr.org recently interviewed me about the expulsions to Haiti by the Dominican Republic of Dominicans of Haitian descent and recent migrants. “Deportations in the Dominican Republic,” August 13, 2015. Several people have noted that my approach to the issues avoid hyperbole and focus on constructive suggestions.
Acento republished the interview in Spanish in the Dominican Republic, prompting a series of tweets and posts to my public Facebook page from Dominicans who refuse to accept any criticism. At least one was outraged by the supposed international plot for “fusion” of the two countries sharing the island of Hispaniola -you know, the same plot that exists only in the mind of Dominican ultra-nationalists. But I don’t mind. They at least spelled my name right.
I was delighted to join a panel on Social Media & Social Good February 17th, 2012, as part of Social Media Week, hosted and moderated by Kim Slicklein (President of Ogilvy Earth). Fellow panelists were Analisa Balares, CEO of Womensphere; James Windon, Vice President, Business Development at Causes; and Scott Dodd, Editor OnEarth.org NRDC. The panel also included great insights from some groundbreaking research on human behavior by Ogilvy Earth. Continue reading “Peer Pressure for Good – Social Media Week Panel”
The editors at opendemocracy.net, one of my favorite websites, asked me and a group of writers from around the world, “Where are the sources of inspiration that can improve global and national prospects in 2011?”
Here are my thoughts:
Citizens of every country need to see their self-interest more broadly instead of pitting themselves against other groups, nationalities, religions, and classes. If people were to embrace this one idea in 2011, we’d see a world of greater cooperation and prosperity instead of the polarisation and malaise that affects so much of the world today. When your neighbour is better off, it’s more likely that you will be too.
We do not live in a zero-sum world. Yet if the xenophobes and hate-mongers have their way, we’ll be in a less than zero-sum world: everyone will be worse off, not only the purported targets. Concentrating wealth in the hands of the mega-rich while leaving less than crumbs for the working class destabilises society and shrinks purchasing power that could create more wealth for everyone. A country or community that cracks down unfairly on immigrants and minorities is biting off its nose to spite its face; it pulls the rug out from under families, economies, and communities instead of supporting new communities and economies. Demonising another religion instead of seeking dialogue puts precious energy into destruction instead of building. An extremist political party that puts up roadblocks, no matter what the issue, ends up destroying people’s trust in the political process instead of creating positive change.
The unintended consequences of division undermine the very goals that politicians and leaders invoke to justify actions intended to punish the few instead of to reward the whole. It’s time to change that dynamic.
Acknowledging the rights of immigrant groups, “recognizing special ties among particular groups of countries” and reciprocation are often part and parcel of granting suffrage, says Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute. The EU, the Commonwealth, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are cases in point. However, the decision in South Korea had the effect of enfranchising mostly Taiwanese immigrants rather than being a “quid pro quo” reform benefiting Japan, and the country has thus far only indicated that it hopes for a similar move here in Japan. Also worth noting is that whereas 6,000 noncitizens benefited from the law change in South Korea, there are over 900,000 permanent foreign residents in Japan, including over 400,000 “special permanent residents” — mostly Koreans and Taiwanese who lived in Japan before and during the war, as well as their descendants.
So what about the argument that, rather than give voting rights to permanent residents, they should be encouraged to naturalize instead? This attitude is prevalent in North America, where noncitizen voting rights have been rolled back. In contrast, Chile introduced alien suffrage to in part to compensate for its slow, inefficient nationalization system.
“If people feel that they are part of a community with their neighbors, then they are more likely to embrace national values and even apply for citizenship as well,” suggests Wucker. Indeed, movements in Toronto as well as Rome have used this argument in pressing for the involvement of immigrant groups in local politics, though demonstrating objectively that granting foreigners the vote leads to an increased demand for naturalization has proved a challenge.
I’ll be on Fox & Friends (Channel 44 in NYC) around 6:15 a.m. ET tomorrow morning, Monday September 14th, debating the brouhaha over immigration and healthcare reform.
It’s interesting to see that after Medicare tightened its proof-of-citizenship rules in 2005, about half of the states surveyed by the Government Accountability Office reported that people had fallen off of their Medicare rolls. The vast majority of those who lost health care were citizens, who paid a huge price for an effort that netted nine –count ’em, NINE– unauthorized immigrants. Here’s yet another case where efforts targeting illegal immigrants hurt many citizens, doing more harm than good.
Latoya Peterson interviewed me on Jezebel.com yesterday. Here’s the link:
Interview excerpt: “The largest issues facing women around the world are in many ways the same as the ones facing men: basic questions of human security and having a voice in solving problems that affect you. Literacy, education, jobs, and health are all part of this, of course, but they all come down to the question of whether women have the rights to pursue those things, and a way to influence the governments, organizations, companies, and people who affect whether and how women get what we need. In so many parts of the world —including in wealthy countries like the United States— women have a harder time meeting some of those needs than men do, but it’s important not to see this as a women-versus-men issue. The places where women have the least rights also tend to be the places where men have the least rights. If we’re all going to move forward together, we need to be sure that men also support the idea that improving women’s rights leaves men better off too. It’s “win-win” not “zero-sum.” I just saw this great new Turkish movie, “Bliss,” about a man charged with carrying out an honor killing of his cousin. During the course of the movie, he comes to the realization that the horrible infractions of her rights don’t leave either one of them better off.”
I met Latoya in the 2008 Progressive Women’s Voices program at the Women’s Media Center. She’s smart, young, and going places, and writes about the intersection between race and pop culture. Check out her website, www.racialicious.com.
Title: Who Gets A Voice?: Immigrants and Civic Engagement
Location: New York City
Link out: Click here
Description: I’ll be moderating a public debate Tuesday evening, June 30, hosted by the World Policy Institute and Demos with panelists Maria Teresa Petersen of Voto Latino; Tamar Jacoby, Immigration Works USA; Gara Lamarche, Atlantic Philanthropies; and Hiroshi Motomura, UCLA and Author of Americans in Waiting. For more details and to register, follow the link.
Start Time: 6:00
End Time: 8:30