Friday, November 03, 2006

Immigration stuff

A week ago I went for to have my biometrics captured for the USCIS. It was a pretty straightforward thing. They took my fingerprints (again) and took my picture (again... they have more portraits of me than my mother!). That was pretty much it. For that I had to travel 2 hours and then find a place to park. Maybe there is a place in southern Louisiana that could have "captured my biometrics" (a term that suggests they were going to take DNA samples and scan my retina, but noooo!); apparently the closest place to Monroe is over in Mississippi.

I was a bit of a scofflaw, though. I had to go through a metal detector. They asked me about my Palm Zire. I turned it on for them to show it was real, and the female security guard asked if it had a camera. I said "No," and she let me go after looking it over a little more. I didn't mention that my cell phone, on my belt, had a camera. I didn't realize until I was leaving that they had a sign on the door saying that no cameras were allowed into the building. Oh, well! If any USCIS agents are reading this, a) I did not take any pictures inside the building, okay?!? and b) you really need to put those signs up closer to eye level, not down below my waist!

I was reading online in The Scotsman something interesting: the Scots are upset about immigrants. Since Eastern European countries like Poland, the Ukraine, and the Czech Republic were allowed into the EU, Western European cities have seen a big influx in immigrants. The article in question detailed complaints about the amount of resources taken up in one particular part of Scotland due to Polish immigrants. Translation services and the extra time it took to explain to a Polish speaker the different services available were mentioned in particular.

In the EU, workers are free to travel anywhere in Europe for employment. I think they are also allowed to have social services, but I don't know if there are any limitations or stipulations on this. As an aside, I have a British passport so I can actually work in the U.S., Canada, or anywhere in Europe (and yet I'm living in Monroe. Hmmm...)

Some folks talk about opening up the U.S. a little more to Mexican workers. In particular, right now Mexican truck drivers have to stop within 25 miles inside the U.S. border and either switch out the truck's cab, or change drivers. Mexican nationals working as truck drivers can not drive further into the U.S. (I don't believe that Canadian truck drivers are limited this way, nor are U.S. drivers in Canada.) Critics see this as the beginnings of a North American version of the EU. Considering the criticism of the EU levelled by Britain and other countries, the U.S. would do well to pay attention to what's happening in Europe before going too far.

Of course the U.S. is not the only country dealing with "poor neighbours". Mexico complains about the treatment of their nationals sneaking into the U.S. while they treat Central American "immigrants" like dirt. China apparently has a problem with people sneaking in from North Korea in spite of the secure border. Iraqis have fled into Iran, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. People flow from areas of poor options and conditions to areas of better options and conditions, just as they have for millenia. I suspect that in 200 to 500 years the world's economic regions will have equalized. In the meantime the transition will be painful, particularly given that for the poorer nations to be elevated, the richer nations have to be reduced. Hopefully the world will survive the transition.

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