Last week Michael Monastyrskyj wrote us about the Indian diaspora. The Indian Government is thinking of providing ID cards for Persons of Indian Origin, meaning the descendants of people who emigrated from India, but probably not including the descendants of the thousands of English who were born in India during the days of Empire. According to the Indian Government, [PDF] the card is being provided at request of many Indian-Americans and Indian-Britons who want some kind of "dual citizenship" to tie them to their ancestral home.
This week the New York Times reports [January 12, 2003, India Harvests Fruits of a Diaspora, By Amy Waldman] on the conference of 2,000 "nonresident Indians" and "people of Indian origin" who were in India recently considering the nature of the relationship between overseas Indians and their Mother Country (India). V. S. Naipaul made a speech telling India to "stop blaming the British for everything." The Times said:
There seemed to be as many opinions as there were participants about what the conference was for, what the meaning of diaspora was, where loyalties should lie, and what India was and should be.
"What India was and should be" is a worthwhile question for Indians. But shouldn`t Indian-Americans, who after all have taken the Oath of Allegiance, in which they promise to
"renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen"
be thinking about "What America is and should be"?
Apparently both the Government of India, and the many overseas Indians see this allegiance thing as optional.
It`s worth noting that India has internal problems that Americans don`t want imported to the United States. According to the New York Times article,
Sixty percent of the Indians in America are from Gujarat. Some at the conference said they were tired of attacks on the state because of the riots. "It`s high time Gujarat and even the center stop apologizing for what happened in Gujarat," said Suvas G. Desai, a doctor from Lexington, Ky.
You probably haven`t heard of the Gujarat riots, what with the massive coverage of the Middle East, but over a thousand Muslims were killed by Hindus, while the Hindu police did very little to stop it. Of course, the rioters were rioting in response to a Muslim mob setting fire to a train full of Hindus.
Since these riots only happened a few months ago, it`s a little early to forget about it. It`s not like reparations for slavery, abolished 1865, or Japanese internment, ended in 1945. This is massive slaughter that happened last February.
Furthermore, it`s something that, on a smaller scale, could happen in America, anywhere Muslims and Hindus live side by side. Something to think about, when discussing multiculturalism.
A South Korean named Hyung Joon Kim was a lawful permanent resident who had been in the U.S. since he was six. He would have been naturalised when he was 18, except that he committed first degree burglary in California. A year later, he was sentenced to prison in California for "petty theft." He served almost three years for that offence, because he had a prior conviction. The INS decided to deport him, for the obvious reason that he was a non-citizen who was committing felonies, and he didn`t want to go, because he was raised in California, may not speak Korean well, and probably thinks of himself as an American.
An American criminal, mind you, but an American. However, the law says he`s not.
This is the kind of case for which bleeding hearts bleed, and is similar in that regard to the Jesus Apodaca case, which had Congressmen and Senators falling all over themselves to prevent the law from being enforced.
There are several issues involved, but the one that worries immigration law enforcement is the issue of "due process" which has repeatedly been turned into undue and overdue process by the courts. One question is whether aliens who have been ordered deported, but are appealing, can be kept in detention in the U.S.
According to CNN, The INS is arguing that someone like Kim, who has had two felony convictions, had all the due process he`s entitled to when he was convicted:
In its legal filings with the court, the INS said convicted aliens "have enjoyed full due process protections in connection with those convictions."
As it stands at the moment, the Ninth Circuit has held [decision in PDF] that it is not necessarily unconstitutional to detain alien criminals, especially since there`s a War on Terrorism. The court said that
"No responsible court will leave an `unprotected spot in the Nation`s armor,` and our decision does not do so. We do not hold that a lawful permanent resident alien in removal proceedings has an absolute right to bail."
They did, however hold that he has the right to a bail hearing, to determine if he`s dangerous or not.
The New York Times reports that theatre director and "visionary polemicist" director Peter Sellars is producing Euripides` The Children of Heracles, (a.k.a Hercules) for only the seventh time since the days of Euripides, in 430 BC. He`s using it to make an explicitly political statement in favour of refugees. According to the Times
The theatrical event Mr. Sellars has staged in Cambridge is unabashedly partisan. Lobby walls are covered with photographs of refugees. The program denounces "a crisis in our refugee program" and warns, "The children of Herakles are still wandering from city to city, their homes lost."
January 14, 2003, "Peter Sellars Returns With an Ancient Message"
But the text of the play indicates that the "Children of Herakles" were related by blood to the rulers and people of Athens. (Through the usual Greek mythological genealogy.) Furthermore, Herakles qualifies as an Athenian war hero.
(Feel free to skip the next passage, which shows why Euripides hasn`t been produced on Broadway lately.)
Heracles was son of Zeus and Alcmena; Alcmena sprang from Pelops` daughter; therefore thy father and their father would be the sons of first cousins. Thus then art thou to them related, O Demophon, but thy just debt to them beyond the ties of kinship do I now declare to thee; for I assert, in days gone by, I was with Theseus on the ship, as their father`s squire, when they went to fetch that girdle fraught with death; yea, and from Hades` murky dungeons did Heracles bring thy father up; as all Hellas doth attest.
Still with me? What it means is that the "Children of Heracles`" claims to shelter seem to resemble those of the white Rhodesians and South Africans, who are the same kind of people as the average American, and were on the same side as the US in World War II and Korea. If the US admitted them, it would be following the vision of Euripides as laid out in the play.
As it is, director Sellars seems to be upset that the US is not admitting more refugees from enemy countries.
The NYT reports [January 10, 2003, Homeless Out-of-Towners Welcome, By Leslie Kaufman] that people from all over are moving to New York, drawn by visions of free housing:
New York is the only city under court order to provide shelter immediately to any people who can prove they need it, regardless of their origin or immigration status. As a result, it has perhaps the most tolerant admissions policies and greatest array of services and housing to offer its homeless clients. While that has raised some concern that the city could become a magnet for the poor, city officials remain sanguine.
"We are a city of immigrants, and the fact that the homeless system reflects that diversity is not surprising," said Linda I. Gibbs, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services. "
The City defendants shall provide shelter and board to each homeless man who applies for it provided that (a) the man meets the need standard to qualify for the home relief program established in New York State; or (b) the man by reason to physical, mental or social dysfunction is in need of temporary shelter.
But while the consent decree does provide a lot of detail about providing each homeless man a "pillow of average size," and "ten hours per week of group recreation" it doesn`t say anything about harboring illegal aliens.
In fact, it`s as illegal for the City of New York to maintain a residence for homeless illegals as it is for the proprietor of a Chinatown boarding house.
But local officials sometimes listen harder to "advocates for the homeless" than they do to the laws.
January 15, 2003