Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Posts Tagged ‘immigration reform

Politically Judging the Modern Day Miss USA Pageant Contestant

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Tonight, the 2010 Miss USA Pageant was broadcasted live by NBC from Las Vegas, where the event took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.  Miss Michigan USA Rima Fakih bested 49 other women in the competition to become the new national titleholder while Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard placed as the first runner-up.  It will be interesting to see how these results unfold in the coming weeks given their apparent twist of irony amid the increasingly politicized environment of the pageant. 

Few may have forgotten about former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean’s onstage interview at the 2009 Miss USA Pageant in which she was asked about her position on “gay marriage.”  Her response in favor of traditional marriage made her an instant target for criticism and vicious attacks from far-left tabloids and gay activists, and may have cost her not only the Miss USA crown but eventually the Miss California USA crown.  What was supposed to be a rewarding, enriching, and memorable experience for Prejean quickly turned into a nightmare due to an honest answer to a question that never should have been asked.

Fast-forward to this year’s pageant where Woolard was asked about Arizona’s new immigration reform law.  She stated her support of a state’s right to pass such a law and that she is personally opposed to illegal immigration as well as racial profiling.  “I think it’s perfectly fine for Arizona to create that law,” she said.  The question was asked by pageant judge Oscar Nunez of NBC’s The Office, who was booed by the audience before he could finish.

Given the fallout from the infamous, hyper-controversial question that had been asked during last year’s pageant, one would be under the impression that Miss USA pageant officials would exercise (no pun intended) greater caution this year and avoid the hot-button issues currently dividing our nation.  Instead, another hotly-debated issue came up during the onstage interview segment of the pageant.  Interestingly, the immigration question was asked of Miss Oklahoma (Woolard), whose home state endured similar attacks as Arizona for another immigration-related law that had been signed by Governor Brad Henry in early May 2007.  Once signed, the law made it more difficult for illegal aliens to have access to taxpayer-funded benefits and employment within the state of Oklahoma.

Call me dated, but I remember during my days as a contestant in the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA Pageant in the late 1990s, the questions asked by the judges and emcee focused more on how well my fellow competitors and I were serving our communities, how we were addressing problems among our peers, and our familiarity with general current events (nothing controversial at all).  What have we done to make a positive impact on others?  In what way did we help a friend or classmate confront a challenge?  In what ways should drug abuse in schools be dealt with?

To some, the Miss USA Pageant is seen as a national past time.  It’s an event featuring 50 beautiful women vying for a crown and the opportunity to represent the United States at the Miss Universe Pageant.  These women are joined by family, friends, and viewers across the nation, all united in the spirit of friendly competition and proudly representing every state in the country.  Sadly, it appears as though the pageant is becoming more of a reflection of how divided America is becoming, rather than a small symbol of national unity.

Written by Stephanie

May 17, 2010 at 6:01 am

Putting Arizona’s New Immigration Reform Law into Context

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Amid the ever-growing furor over Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s move to sign immigration reform legislation into law nearly two weeks ago, two of my favorite columnists recently offered their perspectives on the broader significance of this hyper-controversial topic…

I’ll start with Thomas Friedman’s column Narcos, No’s and Nafta, which appeared in the New York Times.  With nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and China taking up most of the space on the U.S. foreign policy agenda, Friedman points out that we’ve taken the U.S.-Mexican relationship for granted.  Now, with increasingly violent drug wars expanding along the southern border (and prompting Arizona to pass a law to address this problem), Friedman writes that “Mexico has become much more critical to American foreign policy and merits more of our attention.” 

The immigration issue aside, Friedman’s column focuses primarily on the current economic condition of Mexico and the impact it has had on the country.  Though 75 percent of the population identifies itself as “middle class,” about 40 percent of Mexicans live below the poverty line.  They have little chance of ever climbing above that threshold as union control has resulted in Mexico having one of the worst public education systems in the world…despite being an oil-rich nation.  Thus, until Mexicans ever see “real political/economic reform” in their country, what other options are available to them other than to pack their bags and head north?  Or worse, join the local gang or drug trafficking operation?

Meanwhile, in her Wall Street Journal column The Big Alienation, Peggy Noonan cites immigration reform as the latest contributing factor to the ever-expanding fault line between the American people and their government in Washington.  On the one hand, Washington says, “We control everything;” but in the same breath declares, “You’re on your own,” explains Noonan.  Add to this sentiment the toxic combination of debt crises and bankruptcy fears shared by states and you have “the makings of the big alienation…followed by full-blown antagonism, and antagonism by breakage,” which, in a way, symbolizes Arizona at this time.

Noonan acknowledges that immigration reform has been a hot-button issue through two administrations now, yet “Washington deliberately did nothing” because of the political costs.  With the Hispanic vote growing rapidly through each election cycle, neither party wants to take the calculated risk of upsetting and ultimately losing a critical voting bloc.  Thus, party interests have been put ahead of the interests of Americans on this issue (as with most issues), forcing states like Arizona to say “enough is enough” and proceed on their own with immigration reform.

Putting Friedman and Noonan’s analyses into context, perhaps it’s time for Washington to take a good look at the primary source of illegal immigration and start there in discovering a path toward meaningful reform.  Who knows?  Perhaps Washington will notice just how much it has in common with Mexico City in terms of putting politics above the people and consequently be driven to take action on immigration reform…but when?

Written by Stephanie

May 6, 2010 at 5:02 am

Immigration Reform Back in the Spotlight

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For the first time since legislation to deal with this issue died in Congress three years ago, immigration reform made its way back into the headlines this week. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a measure that makes it illegal to be an illegal resident in her state. She immediately faced harsh criticism from pro-illegal immigration advocates and President Obama, who all vowed to challenge the law in the courts. Unless the courts intervene, the new law will take effect in 90 days.

Governor Brewer’s actions reignited the raging debate over immigration reform in the United States as opponents of Arizona’s new law claim that it violates civil rights and will result in racial profiling. What I find interesting in the modern debate over immigration reform is that such opposition to meaningful legislation intended to uphold the rule of law always factors racial politics into the equation. Those who favor border security, for example, are considered racist and their arguments in support of tough immigration reform measures tend to go entirely unnoticed.

The New York Times story today, for instance, focuses on what Arizona’s new law will mean for the state’s Hispanic population, both legal and illegal, and what advocacy groups are hoping to do to prevent it from taking effect. Nowhere in the story, however, is there a single quote from someone in support of the law, such as a family member of Robert Krentz. Krentz, a rancher, was brutally murdered earlier this year by a smuggler crossing the border between Mexico and Arizona. His murder sparked outrage over the ongoing immigration mess in Arizona and pressured state legislators to act by drafting and passing the legislation signed by Governor Brewer.

Other sources the New York Times and its fellow media outlets may wish to consider interviewing for future stories on the immigration debate are Mark Krikorian and Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. Though Krikorian and Camarota would speak primarily on behalf of the anti-amnesty, pro-border security side of the immigration debate, their knowledge and expertise on the issue would shed a bright light on the underlying facts and data the public needs to be aware of. Too often, as is currently the case, this debate is dominated by the perception of racism and civil rights violations as opposed to the overall impact of illegal immigration on federal and state budgets and the American economy.

Following Governor Brewer’s bold action this week, the debate over immigration reform is here to stay through November’s midterm elections. Already, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are feeling the pressure both from Obama and the public to act on immigration by the end of the current Congressional session. Thus, we’ll likely see more headlines concerning immigration reform in the coming months. The question is: will they be slanted toward the pro-amnesty side? Will they accuse the anti-amnesty side of being racist? Will they even contain the latest immigration data in the U.S?

With an issue as controversial and hotly debated as immigration reform, the public has a right to know every argument made by every side involved in the debate. In this sense, media outlets have an obligation to ensure the public is well-informed of the facts surrounding this issue, and not just the politics involved.

Interestingly, a recent poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports on the new law in Arizona found that 70 percent of likely voters actually favor it.

Written by Stephanie

April 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm