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Trump Cracks Down on Refugees in Nashville's Little Kurdistan

Armed men pull Shevan Arif and his family over at a busy intersection, asking questions and demanding to see IDs. Bystander cellphone video captures Arif nervously shaking his head and pleading with the two men, who mill around and make phone calls. They aren't local police, and they're evasive when he asks if he's under arrest. Eventually, they realize Arif isn't the person they're looking for, and drive off without explanation.

This would be a fairly ordinary—though still terrifying—encounter in much of the developing world. What's remarkable is that it took place in Nashville, Tennessee, as part of a massive immigration sweep that began this June. And the targets are members of a persecuted community who thought they had found safety in America.

When the Trump administration unveiled the second version of its travel ban in March, there was a curious difference from the first one. Iraq, which had originally been one of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were deemed too dangerous to enter the United States, was now off the list. The Islamic State (ISIS) hadn't been expelled from Iraq in the intervening month; rather, the change was a result of some behind-the-scenes politicking.

In exchange for Trump lifting the entry ban on Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi government agreed to issue papers that would allow the U.S. to deport people back to that country. For years, it had been nearly impossible for U.S. immigration authorities to deport Iraqi nationals, as Iraq just wouldn't accept them—and for good reason. Despite brief lulls in the violence, Iraq has been in a state of civil war more or less since the American-led invasion toppled its government in 2003.

Though the travel ban's legality is now being disputed before the Supreme Court, the deal with Iraq still stands. So the federal government has begun rounding up Iraqi nationals with removal orders, including some who have lived in America for years, building families and careers.

Almost three months after the U.S.–Iraq deal was made, a weeklong immigration sweep hit the Kurdish-American community in Nashville without warning. Alleged civil liberties violations and ethnic profiling shook the community, known locally as Little Kurdistan. But the potential future consequences of the sweep are even worse: Since most Kurds came to Nashville fleeing oppression, their deportation to Iraq would likely amount to a death sentence.

Little Kurdistan, Tennessee

The history of Little Kurdistan, like that of Kurdistan proper, features a series of betrayals by the U.S. government. An estimated 28 million people across the Middle East speak Kurdish, but Nashville is mostly populated by Iraqi Kurds, who have had a tumultuous relationship with the United States.

The first wave of Kurdish immigration to Nashville came in 1975, according to Kani Xulam, founder of the American Kurdish Information Network. That year, the shah of Iran (then a U.S. ally) and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein signed an agreement in Algiers that ended Iranian and American support for Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, allowing Hussein to crush the rebellion without opposition. Some 200,000 people were displaced in the aftermath.

Hussein Bazirki was one of those who fled after the U.S. cut off support. Thousands of less fortunate Iraqi Kurds were killed by the Iraqi army. Bazirki says he would have been hanged had he remained in Iraq.

The Nixon administration seemed unwilling to deal with the consequences of giving and then suddenly pulling back support for these rebels. ("Promise [Kurds] anything," Secretary of State Henry Kissinger infamously said, "give them what they get, and fuck them if they can't take a joke.") A year later, a congressional investigation unveiled America's broken promises.

Diplomatic official Sue Patterson told the Foreign Affairs Oral History Project in a 1989 interview that she noticed that an increasing number of Kurdish refugees were asking for asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in the late 1970s. After reading leaked proceedings of the congressional investigation in The Village Voice, she recognized that her own government was responsible for the uptick, and she pushed for the United States to begin accepting Kurdish migrants from Iraq.

Many of the refugees, including Bazirki, settled in Nashville. There were no established Kurdish communities in America at the time, so people like him had the difficult task of laying down roots not just for their families but for their entire ethnic group. A resettlement organization got Bazirki a job, but learning English was an obstacle, made more difficult by the lack of Kurdish speakers in Tennessee at the time.

Nevertheless, he is proud to have made a life in America, and he says that others of his generation feel the same way.

Almost two decades after Bazirki's journey, Drost Kokoye was born in Halabja. This border town had suffered gas attacks by Saddam Hussein (then backed by the U.S.) during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Kokoye, now a part of the American Muslim Advisory Council and one of the Kurdish-American community's most vocal advocates, left Kurdistan with her family in 1994, after work they did for the U.S. government around the time of the Persian Gulf War was revealed, exposing them to potential reprisals.

Kokoye's family first settled in a refugee camp in what she calls "Turkish-occupied Kurdistan," where several refugees died from the dismal conditions. They were later flown to Guam. The island territory may have been chosen in part to protect the Clinton administration from embarrassment during an election year, Xulam speculates, because the government didn't want Kurds speaking to the media about America's failure to protect its allies.

Kokoye's family was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite some initial help from nongovernmental organizations, they underwent many of the same challenges Bazirki had, living in an unfamiliar city where no one spoke their language. But the family soon learned from relatives back home that by this time, there was an established Kurdish community in Tennessee.

"Once we heard about that community, we basically packed up everything we had in Phoenix," Kokoye says. "We've called Nashville home ever since."

Life as a "marginalized group" in the South "came with different attacks and persecutions," Kokoye says, "but we've made a nice little community for ourselves." She adds that "it's a lot nicer to be here together as a part of Little Kurdistan than to be anywhere else."

Like other immigrant groups in America, the Nashville Kurds founded businesses, went to school, started families, and participated in the local community. Kokoye proudly describes the Kurdish establishments that have sprung up around Nashville over the past few decades. She says that Mayor Megan Barry is a regular fixture at the Salahadeen Center, a Kurdish-speaking mosque and community center.

Kurds contribute to Tennessee in intangible ways as well. Immigrant communities showcase their culture during the annual Celebrate Nashville festival, and the Kurdish representatives are known for a dance performance that often gets enthusiastic audience participation.

"We've been here for a long time," Kokoye says. "The community knows us, and we love the community."

Knock-and-Talk

Unfortunately, the Nashville Kurds' willingness to contribute to their community has exposed them to an unexpected danger. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are not local police, but they carry equipment—such as bulletproof vests featuring the word police in large capital letters—that can give that impression. This distinction became crucial when ICE began its sweep in early June.

Although the agency began by looking for specific people, ICE eventually started going door-to-door asking questions of random households in the Kurdish community, according to Kokoye. The agents didn't have warrants, but—eager to help law enforcement and unaware of the stakes—many Kurds unwittingly welcomed immigration authorities into their homes.

People "open the door to try to go through with what they think these agents want, because they think they're police officers," Kokoye explains. "Because of that, we already have 12 community members who are sitting in a detention center in Alabama right now, none of whom ICE actually had a court-issued warrant for."

ICE spokesman Thomas Byrd says via email that the agency "arrested 11 individuals that had prior orders of removals from an immigration judge" in the city.

Andrew Free is a Nashville lawyer representing many of the people who were targeted. In the middle of our first phone conversation, he suddenly interrupted with, "I've gotta go. There's been another detention."

When we resumed the next day, he told me that agents have used "illegal ruses," such as telling people under orders of supervision that they had a new officer to check in with. People who might not have consented to a warrantless search otherwise were led to believe that they had a legal obligation to resolve.

Byrd denies this: "ICE does not use deceptive tactics to make entry into an individual's residence," he says.

Apart from the alleged Fourth Amendment violations, Free says that the campaign of "knock-and-talk" visits on an entire community is legally dicey due to its potential to be deemed ethnic and religious profiling.

The Nashville Kurds, a Muslim-majority community, have experienced prejudice for their religion before. A yearslong controversy around the nearby Murfreesboro Islamic Center sparked plenty of anti-Muslim rhetoric directed at the Kurdish community. In light of this history, the sight of federal agents going door-to-door is especially charged.

Moreover, the immigration sweep came during Ramadan, a lunar month in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during daylight hours. It's a physically and mentally taxing time even without every knock on the door bringing potential legal trouble.

Rusty Russell/GettyRusty Russell/GettyKokoye says that attendance for Ramadan services has plummeted at the Salahadeen Center. There haven't been any reports of ICE detaining people there, but it wouldn't be unprecedented. In February, immigration agents arrested and interrogated several homeless Hispanic men as they were leaving a church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Free says that some of his clients in detention were pressured into signing documents facilitating their own deportations. He also claimed on Twitter that two of his clients were assaulted by agents in detention.

ICE officials have played fast and loose with civil rights on the streets as well. The video showing agents stopping Shevan Arif and interrogating him on the side of the road was posted to The Tennessean's website as part of a report on the city's reaction to the crackdown. Free explains that ICE claims the authority to pull over people suspected of being "removable"—foreign nationals who should be removed from the country under Title 8 of the U.S. Code—but Arif was a U.S. citizen who hadn't committed any crimes.

The person taking the cellphone video can be heard asking someone else to get Free on the phone.

What happened next was very "constitutionally suspect," according to Free. After seeing Arif's ID and confirming that he's a U.S. citizen, the agents continued to question him and demanded access to his cellphone. Kokoye, who spoke to Arif afterward, says the agents were evasive when he asked if he was free to go, and only gave his ID back when he said he would get his lawyer to "clear things up." All this occurred while the driver was on the way home from work, with his 9- and 2-year-old children sitting in the car.

"They prolonged the stop in order to conduct an investigative detention," Free explains. Such stops "have been rejected by the Supreme Court."

Asked by The Tennessean, Byrd denied that ICE uses random stops or checkpoints.

That incident and others like it sparked a debate in Nashville over whether ICE agents should identify themselves as police. In a letter sent to ICE during the sweep and posted online, Mayor Barry publicly criticized agents for using a symbol "which most in the community assume to mean the Metro Nashville Police Department." She claims it undermines the city's efforts to build relationships with local immigrant groups and specifically cites a video of agents stopping a "Kurdish-American citizen" while dressed in police vests.

ICE, meanwhile, defends its use of the word police on its agents' clothing, claiming that it is a "universally recognizable" symbol for law enforcement.

The growing mistrust of local institutions runs deeper than just police officers. After immigration agents arrested a Honduran man at a Nashville courthouse where he was appearing on charges of driving without a license, immigrants across the city have been afraid to show up to their court dates, The Tennessean reports.

Because several Kurdish political parties and militias are cooperating with the international coalition against the Islamic State, a new wave of Kurds has had to flee their homeland. Since the rise of ISIS in 2014, at least 6,332 Special Immigrant Visas have been issued to Iraqis who worked with U.S. forces and their dependents, according to the State Department; although it's not clear how many are Kurds, The Tennessean reports that many have joined the Kurdish community in Nashville.

It's now increasingly important for the city to find a way to integrate its immigrants.

'When They Grow Up, It's Something Different'

Part of the reason Nashville's Kurdish community has come under attack since June involves a conflict that both the immigrants and the city thought they had moved past years ago.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, and as a result, ICE may have seen former members of the Kurdish Pride Gang as an easy political target. Like many other ethnic gangs, this one was formed by young Kurds to defend their community against rampant crime and violence. Eventually, they turned to crime themselves.

"They were living in certain areas of the city where police wouldn't go. It wasn't the safest time in Nashville," Kokoye explains. So about a decade ago, "members of our community took on the initiative to provide protection for our community, the same way we saw other marginalized communities do...From there, a lot of those guys did get caught up in trouble."

A string of burglaries were allegedly carried out by the Kurdish Pride Gang in 2007, and members of the group were later accused of two rapes and an attempted murder. Only 20 or 30 people were committing the crimes, but the events hurt the community's attempts to integrate into Nashville.

While it doesn't excuse violent crime, it is worth repeating that many Nashville Kurds came to America fleeing genocide and civil war. Those who came as children would have grown up against a backdrop of constant violence; Kokoye writes on her blog that her father's soccer games in Iraq were often interrupted by deadly air raids. Many members of the Kurdish Pride Gang may have been reacting to external danger in the only way they knew at the time.

The Kurdish Pride Gang was a problem limited in both scale and duration. Membership had fallen to the single digits by 2013, which Vocativ attributes to injunctions filed by the city preventing gang members from gathering. Kurdish-American leaders likely played a large role as well.

"None of the people in the Kurdish community like this happening, and they advise their kids, they advise their sons and daughters, to not violate the laws," Nawzad Hawrami, the director of the Salahadeen Center, told The New York Times.

The gang seems to have been completely inactive for years now. Former members "have served their time, done their community service hours, and are basically mentors for our kids growing up now on what not to do," Kokoye says. Several "serve as leaders in our communities," she adds. "They're business owners. They're fathers."

"I wasted too much time with that foolishness, man," Ako Hassan Nejad, who was convicted of attempted murder in 2008, told The Tennessean in 2012. "Now it's time to kind of go the other way."

Bazirki, who survived a civil war a generation before most Kurdish Pride Gang members were born, opposes their deportation. "I don't think it's right, even if they had some law problems before," he says. "All the teenagers, they go against the law, but when they grow up, it's something different."

Many people with criminal records did not attempt to fight their removal orders, according to Free, because they were told at the time that deportation to Iraq was impossible and that signing away their rights would get them out of detention without a legal battle. He says that he is now attempting to reopen some of these cases.

Most were put under orders of supervision, meaning that they had to show up for yearly or biannual check-ins with an immigration agent. Because of this, in fact, ICE already knew the whereabouts of many of the people it targeted with raids and could have contacted them easily.

"These are not people who are trying to run from any sort of responsibility that they have," Kokoye says.

Indeed, several Kurds in Atlanta voluntarily turned themselves in when ICE reached out to them, according to Free. The same happened in Nashville after word got out that ICE was looking for people under deportation orders.

"You've got the United States government spending $160 a night per person to detain people," he says, "and you're spending probably tens of thousands of dollars on administratively uncontrolled overtime for agents who are spending two weeks here in Nashville to find these people, when it wasn't hard to find them."

Free claims that many of his clients would have gladly bought a ticket themselves to Erbil, the largest city in Iraqi Kurdistan, if they were given a chance to get their affairs in order. Instead, they will be deported to Baghdad, a city they have no connection to, without adequate protection.

Khaalid H. Wells, a spokesman for ICE, writes that the agency "focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security." But the people arrested so far are petty criminals.

Sarkaut Taro, who fled to America in 2002 after Saddam Hussein's forces killed three of his brothers, was under a removal order because he was convicted of selling alcohol to minors more than 10 years ago.

On June 9, he was arrested with a 6 a.m. knock on the door.

A Death Sentence

Taro's wife has told multiple media outlets that she fears returning to Iraq puts him in danger. Unfortunately, the same seems to be true for most other Kurdish deportees as well.

Taro is a filmmaker who has publicly criticized both ISIS and the Iraqi government, and many other Nashville Kurds are similarly politically engaged. Some of Free's clients believe they will be tortured if sent back to Iraq.

ICE refused to tell me where deportees will be sent ("for security reasons"), but deportation flights so far have been headed to Baghdad. The European Court of Human Rights has previously blocked deportations to Iraq specifically because of mistreatment of Kurds in Baghdad's airport, and many Kurds don't even consider themselves Iraqi. For the Nashville Kurds, many of whom don't speak Arabic and some of whom have lived in America since childhood, this would be a dangerous situation even without a war.

Imagine dropping an American with no knowledge of the language into the middle of Iraq. Kokoye says that it would take a "miracle" for a Kurdish-speaking deportee to make it from Baghdad to Kurdistan alive.

And although the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government may be able to provide some safety, there is little guarantee. Parts of the region are currently controlled by ISIS. Furthermore, the political histories of some Nashville Kurds could make them targets in the escalating clashes between Kurdish strongman Messûd Barzanî and his rivals, the Kurdistan Workers Party.

A planned Kurdish independence referendum in September could complicate matters more. If a secession crisis breaks out—which it might, since the Iraqi government says it won't recognize the vote's legitimacy—it will get even less safe for Kurdish deportees in Baghdad. On the other hand, if the Republic of Kurdistan successfully becomes a new nation-state, it's unclear which citizenships the Nashville Kurds will have.

The Kurdistan Regional Government expressed "concern" over the deportations through its diplomatic mission in Washington, according to Rûdaw News. And over a hundred Iraqi members of parliament signed a resolution calling for their government to block further deportations after British officials allegedly left a Kurdish deportee named Aras Ismail handcuffed and hooded in an airplane bathroom for five hours.

Other Iraqi minority groups in America face similar dangers. The Washington Post reports that a charter flight carrying six deportees landed in Baghdad this April after a sweep against the Chaldean and Assyrian community in Detroit. These indigenous Iraqi Christians have faced a "genocide," according to the U.S. government, and many activists complain that returning them to Iraq puts their lives in danger. Magistrate Eman H. Jajonie-Daman of the 46th District Court–Southfield told The Washington Post that a pair of Chaldean brothers deported in 2010 were rumored to have been kidnapped.

After the Detroit sweep, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the removals. A federal judge granted a two-week stay on June 22, giving Iraqi nationals time to challenge their deportations.

And yet even if no more removals take place, the ICE operations have reopened old wounds and damaged Nashville's social fabric. "It's ravaging the sense of safety that we have," Kokoye says. "There's no security."

A seemingly minor compromise in a controversial immigration policy has dangled a Damocles' sword over the heads of Americans who have been here just long enough to feel comfortable in their communities, thrusting them into a process fraught with legal gray areas and outright civil liberties violations.

"As a civil libertarian, as someone who thinks the government has limited power, people should be worried about that," Free says, "because it doesn't stop here."

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  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "That incident and others like it sparked a debate in Nashville over whether ICE agents should identify themselves as police. In a letter sent to ICE during the sweep and posted online, Mayor Barry publicly criticized agents for using a symbol "which most in the community assume to mean the Metro Nashville Police Department." She claims it undermines the city's efforts to build relationships with local immigrant groups and specifically cites a video of agents stopping a "Kurdish-American citizen" while dressed in police vests."

    Well if they didn't disguise themselves, then they wouldn't be the secret police, now would they?

  • Trigger Warning||

    I heard that they wanted to use an eagle on top of a wreath with an American flag in the middle of the wreath, but they just didn't have time to have them made.

  • JWatts||

    "Well if they didn't disguise themselves, then they wouldn't be the secret police, now would they?"

    Well usually the secret police don't wear the word Police emblazoned across their vests.

    "Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are not local police, but they carry equipment—such as bulletproof vests featuring the word police in large capital letters"

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Yeah, because if a DEA agent were to disguise himself as a CPS worker to get in your house and find your weed, that would be totally above board.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Byrd denies this: "ICE does not use deceptive tactics to make entry into an individual's residence," he says.

    Pull the other one.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ICE does not use deceptive tactics to make entry into an individual's residence...

    Or when talking to journalists.

  • Trigger Warning||

    Papers, please.

    We'll be sending your family a bill for the ammunition. Lebewohl!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yes, because America and China are exactly the same and deporting people while treating them better than prisoners is the same as China executing drug dealers and users.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The constant betrayal by the US government of translators and others who their enemies would consider "collaborators" shouldn't surprise me because all governments have done so. The only exception I can think of was the Vietnamese boat people, but even that was a long long process, waiting years in refugee camps.

  • DJF||

    There was no betrayal, they were never promised by the US government that they would be brought to the US.

    They were paid employees.

    In fact bringing them to the US helps defeat the whole nation building idea.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Pull the other one.

  • Jerryskids||

    Get persecuted in Iraq like a thug, uh......get persecuted in the US like a thug?

  • Trigger Warning||

    But they ARE thugs, nicht wahr?

  • Local Sex||

    happening all over the world we guess, local people inundated with refugees, but they have to go somewhere

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Wait, what are the grounds of deporting these people? The suggestion seems to be that they are convicted criminals whose deportation was on hold until the US and the Iraqis came to an agreement to facilitate deportations. If this is true, then convicted criminals got some extra years in the U. S. beyond what the law strictly entitled them to, and now they're being sent back.

    Are there deportees being sent back for other reasons than being convicted of crimes in U. S. or state courts? The article seems vague on this.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    ""I wasted too much time with that foolishness, man," Ako Hassan Nejad, who was convicted of attempted murder in 2008, told The Tennessean in 2012. "Now it's time to kind of go the other way."...

    "Sarkaut Taro, who fled to America in 2002 after Saddam Hussein's forces killed three of his brothers, was under a removal order because he was convicted of selling alcohol to minors more than 10 years ago."

    OK, how many of the deportees were convicted of attempted murder, and how many were convicted of selling alcohol to minors? These figures are fairly important.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    If someone is a real immediate danger, they should be locked up; conversely, if they are not locked up, they should have all the rights of all free people. It's one thing for people to judge others on their past behavior; it's another thing entirely for governments to base rights on past behavior. Just as all ex-felons should have voting rights and gun rights and all other rights restored, so should the government not deport them ten years later.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    I am against deporting immigrants for selling alcohol to minors, but in favor of deporting immigrants for attempted murder. Does this make me a squishy middle-of-the-road sellout?

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    But it should be a state-law issue whether the punishment for a crime should include banishment from the country. Unless it's a federal crime, in which case it should be an issue of federal criminal penalties.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    I saw a similar article on Chaldean Christians - "they voted for Trump, and now they're being deported"...you read the fine print, and the deportees have been convicted of various crimes. Sure, some of these are drug crimes, so to that extent it's a drug-war story. But it was framed at "look at those gullible Chaldeans, supporting this mean old deportation-happy Republican, and now look how they've been treated!"

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Perhaps someone with expertise could tell me: If the governor of Tennessee pardoned some of these minor offenders (the alcohol-to-minors types, not the attempted murder types), would that stop their deportation? That seems a more relevant consideration than "OMG they're deporting Kurds!"

  • DJF||

    """""they voted for Trump, and now they're being deported".""''

    If they voted for Trump then they are citizens and can't be deported unless they lose their citizenship which is a long drawn out process

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    The article suggested that the criminals' citizen-relatives had been betrayed by the evil Trump trying to deport immigrant Chaldeans convicted of crimes. At least that's what the article seemed to be getting at in its own subtle way.

  • Sports Reporter Charles Manson||

    Here we go.

    "Michigan's Chaldean Christians escaped persecution in Iraq and helped Donald Trump win the presidency. Now, they're at risk of deportation."

    Fine print, several paragraphs down: "Although many of the detainees came as refugees, and most came to the United States legally, almost all committed crimes that made them deportable."

  • Cy||

    This could all be simplified if we just had a single, simple, efficient path to immigration instead of this ridiculous bureaucratic authoritarian monster running around crushing lives.

    Does anyone know where refugees fall in our legal system as far as paths to citizenship vs deportation?

  • Ecoli||

    True, Cy.

    The first question you must answer before you establish the, "single, simple, efficient path to immigration" is:
    Does the US need immigrants?

    The second question is:
    Which immigrants are beneficial to US citizens?

    Neither of these questions are raised by the open borders types who assert that "any deal is a good deal". Nor are they ever raised by either political party. Instead, the Democrats are intent in continuing their rigged elections. The Republicans are intent in continuing their importation of cheap labor. The result of this two-party collusion is to undermine the political stability of the US and to squash the middle class in the US.

    A good immigration system would allow only those immigrants that yield immediate benefits to the country. That would undoubtedly allow only a small number of immigrants.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    That's not a libertarian immigration policy. That's a government-knows-best immigration policy.

  • Ecoli||

    so what.

  • Agammamon||

    The first question you must answer before you establish the, "single, simple, efficient path to immigration" is:
    Does the US need immigrants?

    No, no you don't. Because the US doesn't *need* anything - its an abstract concept, not a person. And, frankly, I'm getting tired of being told what I can and can't do because its for the benefit of some group on the other side of the country.

  • Cy||

    Or in some cases the other side of the world.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The first question you must answer before you establish the, "single, simple, efficient path to gun ownership" is:
    Does the US need gun ownership?

    The second question is:
    Which guns and owners are beneficial to US citizens?

    Neither of these questions are raised by the gun rights types who assert that "any gun ownership should be a personal decision by voluntary actors".

    A good gun regulation system would allow only those guns that yield immediate benefits to the country. That would undoubtedly allow only a small number of gun owners.

  • Ecoli||

    In light of the US constitution, your questions are irrelevant.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    So if a constitutional Amendment protected unrestricted immigration, you would have no problem with open borders?

  • MJBinAL||

    And if a frog had wings he would not bump his fanny when he hopped.

    If we had a constitutional amendment that protected unrestricted immigration then the question would be irrelevant.

    That does not mean we would have no problem with it, but that it would be irrelevant.

    See? Those reading skills are important!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Indeed they are. Speaking of which:

    "That does not mean we would have no problem with it, but that it would be irrelevant."

    So, you're saying that something being constitutional, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea, even if you think there's nothing you can do about it. In other words: that the difference Ecoli cited between immigration and gun ownership (constitutionality) is irrelevant to a discussion of what immigration *should* look like.

    Whereas *my* point was that putting government in charge of immigrants produces the exact same dynamic as gun control: a bureaucrat picking who needs them, how many and what kind, while imposing costs with both the deliberate goal and accidental effect of deterring people from (legally) engaging in the activity.

    And that doesn't need an Amendment in order to be true.

  • Ecoli||

    The feds (congress) have the authority to set immigration law. The president does not.

    If congress wants to continue with DACA, they can pass a law doing just that. That is what Trump's rescission of Obama's unlawful EO does, it puts the issue before congress; where it belongs.

    If congress wants to allow completely unrestricted immigration they can pass that law as well. The fact that they do nothing speaks volumes.

    Unrestricted immigration made sense in 1800. Today, it does not.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Whether or not Congress *can* legally restrict immigration is 100% irrelevant to the question of whether they *should*.

    My original comment was a challenge to determine why the government should control and limit immigrant populations *For The Collective!*, but shouldn't do the same for guns, or for that matter alcohol, doctors, marijuana, etc., *assuming it were legally allowed to*.

    Again, keyword: whether they SHOULD, not whether they CAN. Congress CAN legally choose to ban marijuana and alcohol too: that does not make it an acceptable policy from a libertarian perspective.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Armed men pull Shevan Arif and his family over at a busy intersection, asking questions and demanding to see IDs. Bystander cellphone video captures Arif nervously shaking his head and pleading with the two men, who mill around and make phone calls. They aren't local police, and they're evasive when he asks if he's under arrest. Eventually, they realize Arif isn't the person they're looking for, and drive off without explanation."

    They were pulled over, questioned, and once it was determined they weren't the ones DHS was looking for, they were released--without being arrested and without being charged with anything.

    We should find a wolf before we cry wolf.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    No, you didn't read it. They were detained long past when they were known to not be the droids ICE was looking for.

    There's also something wrong with police pulling over someone just because. Whatever happened to probably cause and reasonable suspicion? Or do you think the 100 mile wide ICE border should be 3000 miles wide?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "After seeing Arif's ID and confirming that he's a U.S. citizen, the agents continued to question him and demanded access to his cellphone. Kokoye, who spoke to Arif afterward, says the agents were evasive when he asked if he was free to go, and only gave his ID back when he said he would get his lawyer to "clear things up." All this occurred while the driver was on the way home from work, with his 9- and 2-year-old children sitting in the car.

    "They prolonged the stop in order to conduct an investigative detention," Free explains. Such stops "have been rejected by the Supreme Court."

    This is like being asked by the police to search your car during a traffic stop. You can say "no".

    Regardless, is this article about the Fourth Amendment, or is it about enforcing immigration law? If ICE is violating someone's rights as a matter of policy, that problem should be addressed. Meanwhile, the suggestion that immigration law shouldn't be enforced or changed because someone in the federal government violated the Fourth Amendment is like the argument that the Second Amendment should be ignored or repealed because some criminal used a gun to rob a liquor store.

  • MJBinAL||

    If a 6" tall blond guy about my weight robs a bank down the street from where I am walking, I expect to be stopped and questioned. That is not unreasonable.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There is an important difference between arguing that our legal immigration system should be more open, on one hand, and that the government shouldn't enforce immigration laws, on the other.

    It's much like the difference between arguing, on the one hand, against the Iraq War, and, on the other hand, arguing that congress shouldn't be allowed to declare wars.

    In fact, the power to declare war and the power to set the rules of naturalization are both enumerated powers of congress--and for good reason. Inflicting an unpopular immigration policy on the American people is much like inflicting an unpopular war on them.

    Democracy isn't always appropriate. For instance, the government shouldn't be permitted to violate the First Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment in its immigration policy--regardless of whether doing so is popular. However, so long as the government is NOT violating the Constitution, we should have an immigration policy and the rules should be set by Congress, which is to say those rules should be subject to democracy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Incidentally, the hope of gaining the American people's support for having an open borders treaty with Mexico, where Mexican citizens are free to cross the border without a visa simply by showing ID, ultimately depends on assuring American voters that we can reject known felons, cartel members, and other threats to our rights at the border--and keep them out of the country.

    In other words, making the dream of open borders real ultimately rest on our ability to keep those out that we reject at the border. Currently, we are unable to do so.

    "Accused Oregon Rapist Deported 13 Times Since 2008"

    http://tinyurl.com/y8rk78sd

    I once read an article here that compared deporting illegal aliens to enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. I often see articles here that seem to suggest that enforcing immigration law is wrong regardless of whether it's constitutional. Such arguments do great harm to the cause of open borders. They make people think that open borders and protecting our rights are mutually exclusive alternatives--which is nonsense.

  • Cy||

    If you bring up this case and MANY like it, to all of the "RA RA RA More Illegal invaders!" crowd, not a one of them will take an iota of responsibility for this. It must be nice to promote a plague and then deny any wrong doing when your neighbors are affected.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Deport all illegals!

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    "That year, the shah of Iran (then a U.S. ally) and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein signed an agreement in Algiers that ended Iranian and American support for Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, allowing Hussein to crush the rebellion without opposition."

    The phrasing of this sentence sounds a little tortured. Why would Iraq need to sign an agreement allowing them to persecute Kurds with impunity, but America didn't sign?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    {sees girl on the left}

    Eh, who cares, they don't really belong here anyw-

    {sees girl on the right}

    HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO OUR COMMUNITIES!?!

  • TW||

    If I'm understanding this correctly – the individuals in question were admitted into our country but after coming here committed crimes that would normally lead to their deportation. They weren't deported because their own country refused or was unwilling to take them back. We've since made an agreement with their countries where now they will take them back and are in the process of deporting them.

    Not seeing the problem here.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Theoretically, you're right. A British immigrant being deported to England because he robbed a 7-11 wouldn't be a problem.

    The problem is when you deport someone who sold alcohol to minors when he was a dumb twenty-year-old to a country he's never been in, possibly can't speak the language of, which is filled with people who want to detain, torture or murder him.

  • TW||

    If I'm understanding this correctly – the individuals in question were admitted into our country but after coming here committed crimes that would normally lead to their deportation. They weren't deported because their own country refused or was unwilling to take them back. We've since made an agreement with their countries where now they will take them back and are in the process of deporting them.

    Not seeing the problem here.