Immigration

American Exceptionalism Made Possible by Exceptional Africans

President Donald Trump

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

When President Donald J. Trump favors lily-white Norwegian immigrants over those abject, wretched, in his view, black African and Haitian immigrants, he exposes his historical amnesia and attempts at black historical erasure. When white invaders arrived in America to rob Native Americans of their land, and, unfortunately, were successful in this theft, they soon captured and forced many Africans to come to America as slaves.

Most foundational phenomena crucial to the evolution of American exceptionalism were developed by these Africans, including the White House, however. Essentially, most celebrated historical buildings were built by Africans. Africans built America, and the nation flourished through a slave economy, an economy based on the free or cheap labor of exceptional African slaves. White folks didn’t build America; exceptional Africans did.

Africans Gave Real Meaning to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution

Even the cherished Declaration of Independence and Constitution, penned and conceived by white men, failed to achieve their true power, beauty, and significance while Africans were enslaved—and even while official Jim Crow existed. It was African humanity, African resistance, African rebellion that gave authentic meaning to the eloquent words expressed in those aforementioned founding national documents.

Through African “fightback,” to quote one of the greatest minds in world history and leading public intellectual Dr. Cornel West, whites were compelled to begin putting those words into action, action for all people—regardless of race, regardless of skin color, regardless of national origin—although all the content of those documents have not fully materialized for all. Without Africans, though, the descendants of these white men who authored these documents likely would have never completely understood the beloved documents’ real power, import, and possibilities.

Africanizing American Exceptionalism

Yes, America is exceptional. What really makes America exceptional, though? Despite every effort to efface blackness, to deny the value of blackness, to discredit the beauty and brilliance of blackness, blackness still reigned and reigns supreme. Blackness will not and cannot be defeated. Blackness speaks to what’s possible: anything. Anything for those willing to believe in and fight for possibilities, for the Blochian Not-Yet, for the principle of hope. This is what makes America exceptional. This is the real essence of American exceptionalism.  

Conservative Republicans love to promote American exceptionalism, but the centrality of Africans to the genesis of this exceptionalism is almost never mentioned. If American exceptionalism is to continue to have any power, any allure, any gravity, then the Africanness of it, the real (and not imagined) “Africanist presence” in it, to quote the incomparable Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison, must figure prominently in any discourse involving the concept.

President Trump’s racist comments about African nations and Haiti can cause conservative Republicans to lose any political efficacy in employing American exceptionalism in the future if they fail to resist him and fail to muster the moral and political courage to categorically denounce these abominable comments.

And, just a quick note on Haiti, it was the Haitian Revolution that demonstrated for blacks in America that liberation was possible. If you are a racist, a white supremacist, though, like President Trump, a pivotal historical moment in the black freedom struggle isn’t something you desire to know and remember.   

Conclusion

Instead of focusing on “Make America Great Again,” which her constant commitment to sin, to moral, social, economic, and political depravity has never permitted her to experience unadulterated greatness, let’s work on dismantling the vicious legacies of racism, white supremacy, discrimination, and injustice that persist to plague our nation.

“Make America Great Again” is coded language expressing nostalgia for the days when racism and white supremacy ruled, which, as one of the foremost cultural theorists Fredric Jameson contends, is, ironically, “nostalgia for the present.” We’ve never witnessed a day in America where “Make America Great Again” was not the ruling order, the ruling ideology.     

In short, American exceptionalism is the story of Africans ushering in the possibility of a nation and democracy as good as their promised.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Are You Eligible to Work?

Business Employment

Businesses need to understand specific laws to avoid serious legal repercussions. For starters, they should check the eligibility of their employees. After reviewing the eligibility of the workers, employees are to complete an I-9 employment verification form. A business may face various legal penalties for hiring someone without properly assessing their legal documents. This piece investigates the I-9 employment verification form and the legal consequences of failing to follow employment eligibility and verification laws.

I-9 Employment Form

Who should complete the form? The I-9 employment verification form is to be executed by both the employee and the employer. The employee responds to the first section and the employer fills in the second section. What is its importance? The form is necessary for employer verification of workers hired after November 1986.

Legal Repercussions

American employment laws make it illegal to hire unauthorized workers knowingly. On the first day the employee arrives, business owners are required to check his or her documents to ensure the individual is legally allowed to work in the United States. Business owners can give workers up to 3 days from the day they started working to bring proper identification or proof their eligibility to work.

After checking the eligibility of employees, business owners are mandated to finish the I-9 employment verification form, regardless of each employee’s nationality. When businesses fail to perform these measures, they violate federal immigration laws. Each violation calls for paying a fine between $110 -$1,100. Although this fine may not seem much to medium-sized and large businesses, they can prove costly for most small businesses. 

Documents that Show You Are Eligible to Work in the United States

For an employer to hire you and finalize the I-9 employment verification form for you, you need to have specific items. The following is a list of some of the items required:

  • Unexpired temporary resident card
  • Unexpired employment authorization card
  • Unexpired reentry permit
  • Unexpired refugee travel document
  • Expired or unexpired US passport
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Unexpired foreign passport with form I-94 showing that your employment authorization is not expired
  • Alien registration receipt card having a photograph
  • Driver’s license/voter registration card

In short, for you to work legally in the United States, you must meet the aforementioned eligibility requirements. After achieving the eligibility requirements, the employee and employer complete the I-9 employment verification form. As previously mentioned, hiring workers without filling in the I-9 employment verification form may bring business owners grave legal repercussions, including a fine of up to $1,100 for each offense.

Resources Consulted

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The Balance

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Border Security First, The Best Way Forward on Immigration Reform

Illegal Immigration

(Photo Credit: The Blaze)

One of the best ways to reach bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration reform is to begin with a significant border security bill. Before we decide on what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants in America, a bill substantively addressing the problems and threats along our Southern border needs to be crafted and enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Comprehensive immigration reform does not have to take place in the form a single massive piece of legislation; a series of immigration reform bills can constitute comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it incredibly difficult for people to illegally enter into our nation. By starting comprehensive immigration reform with discourses about amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for extant illegal immigrants in America evinces a failure to commit to first principles: enforce the existing rule of law and keep the homeland safe from potential terrorists who could use our porous Southern border as a vehicle for entrance into our great country.

President Obama taking unilateral action on immigration is severely damaging to efforts to reach bipartisan reforms on immigration. If President Obama is truly interested in working with Republicans to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, then he must rescind his unilateral action on immigration and refrain from future unilateral action on immigration. President Obama cannot honestly expect to build relationship across political aisles while sending messages that he’ll do what he wants to do with or without the approval of Congress—that’s simply no way to engage in mature negotiations.

Although Republicans need to continue to insist on border security first as their approach to comprehensive immigration reform, they must also speak openly about their plans for comprehensive immigration beyond border security. Too often Republicans allow themselves to appear myopic on comprehensive immigration reform: they’ve permitted Democrats to paint an effective picture of them as having no real plans for comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans must publicly discuss their complete ideas for comprehensive immigration reform and not limited their public discussions of comprehensive immigration reform to border security.

After passing meaningful border security legislation and providing the necessary funding for this legislation, Democrats and Republicans can come together to reform the traditional immigration system. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the traditional immigration system needs modernizing to make the process of becoming an American citizen more humane. The length of time it takes to become an America citizen should be greatly reduced. Many illegal immigrants chose to enter our country illegally because it takes too long to gain citizenship through our current immigration process. We can make illegal immigration less attractive by making legal immigration more appealing.

Our elected national officials in Washington, D.C. too often take a failed approach to solving complex problems: by beginning with where they disagree instead of where they agree. The American people—Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike—must demand their elected national officials to approach comprehensive immigration reform by beginning with what they agree on and move on to the more contentious issues of comprehensive immigration reform.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Startup Act 3.0 Legislation Would Pave the Way for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Startup Act 3.0

(Photo Credit: Mark Warner)

A bill introduced to the U.S. Senate aims to create thousands of new visa programs designed to attract top-tier innovators, according to its proponents.  Senator Jerry Moran introduced the Startup Act 3.0 legislation in February, and experts have been combing through the details and implications ever since.

For top-tier innovators, the legislation represents an easier path to a struggling but powerful economy. The U.S. still dominates the information and technology markets, so online entrepreneurs in particular are keeping tabs on this bill.

The Details

Two previous renditions of the legislation failed to make it through Congress, but Startup Act 3.0 has momentum and support from both Democrats and Republicans. Startup Act 3.0 would permit 75,000 immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. for three years.  A fixed number of current immigrants would also qualify.  To qualify for these visas, foreign-born entrepreneurs would have to raise $100,000 for new businesses and hire at least two employees within a year. If these qualifications are met, the visa would be extended to three years.  Part of the bill also modifies the tax code to encourage small business investments.  Senator Moran and the bill’s other sponsors believe entrepreneurship is the key to the economy’s vitality.

The Startup Act 3.0 news release states, “Research shows that, for close to three decades, companies less than five years old have created almost all net new jobs in American — averaging about three million jobs each year.”

The Kauffman Foundation Report

The Kauffman Foundation analyzed the potential employment impact, and the numbers are encouraging.  The bill could generate up to 1.6 million jobs over the next 10 years, according to the Kauffman Foundation report.  Foreign-born entrepreneurs founded one-quarter of technology and engineering companies between 2006 and 2012.  The report lists a baseline of almost 500,000 jobs with the potential for more than 1.5 million.

Current Reception

The National Metropolitan Business Alliance (NMBA) expressed its support for Startup Act 3.0. In a letter to Senator Moran, the NMBA declared that the act would boost America’s innovation and facilitate growth.  Forbes published a more personal tale of support for the bill written by Nancy T. Nguyen, an entrepreneur born in the Philippines.  She describes how foreign entrepreneurs are woven into American history.  Without policies that enabled her parents to immigrate, Nguyen wouldn’t have started her own business and become Ms. Corporate America 2011.

Much of the support for this bill is based on a broader support for small business in general. From Mark Zuckerberg to Phil Knight to Bob Parsons, the CEO and founder of GoDaddy.com, some of America’s most successful tycoons, like Businessman Parsons and Zuckerberg, started in small offices with few employees.  All data indicates small business is good for the economy, and a strong economy is good for everyone.

What’s Next?

As the sponsors of the legislation continue to raise support, the bill is currently in the hands of a congressional committee.  Despite considerable support, a reliable source doesn’t like 3.0’s chance of survival any better than its predecessors.  Govtrack.us suggests that the bill has an 8% chance of getting past committee and just a 3% chance of being enacted.  That may sound small, but it’s actually average.  Just 3% of bills were enacted from 2011-2013, Govtrack.us reports.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Illegal Immigration Must End Now

Immigration

Although some will immediately think I am a racist, I want you to know I am one of the strongest fighters for racial and social justice. The harsh reality is America’s national security is placed in jeopardy when we do not fight illegal immigration. America is a nation with laws and a nation governed by the rule of law. If you break this nation’s laws, then you should face the consequences of breaking those laws. We should not simply allow illegal immigrants to break our nation’s laws because we want to be culturally, racially, and ethnically sensitive—that’s simply not the way to go about it. A nation without true borders is a nation without order. Let me be transparent from the beginning—this article is not an attempt to argue in favor of the Arizona Immigration Reform Bill. This article has a larger purpose: to have people to understand that the issue of illegal immigration is a serious matter of national security.

As an African-American, trust me I understand how angry discrimination, racism, bigotry, and racial prejudice can make you. Regardless of our race, we all have to be tremendously concerned about those individuals who would wish to do us harm who are living outside of our borders. I would not want a terrorist to come through our vastly unprotected borders, especially our Southern border (the Texas-Mexico border), and do us harm. While we sit around and debate about what type of immigration reform bill would be best, terrorists living outside of America are thinking about how they can enter into our country through our borders. If you are an illegal immigrant, then you are a criminal—it’s that simple. If you enter into this country in an illegal manner, you have violated the law and you deserve to be returned to your country of origin. I do not want to hear all of this rhetoric about we are a nation of immigrants. Of course, we are a nation of immigrants. This nation of immigrants has established laws for people wishing to enter into it.

In immigration reform bills being floated around in Congress, there is consideration of sundry “guest worker” programs. I do not support any guest worker program that will allow people who have entered into this country illegally to remain in this county. If they have children in this country who are products of parents who entered into this nation illegally, then those children should be returned to their country of origin with their parents.  It is unfair for us to allow any illegal immigrant to remain in this country when legal immigrants have gone through the long process of formally becoming a citizen. These illegal immigrants should be forced to return to their country of origin, and then they can formally apply to be citizens. I am not against them formally applying for citizenship, but the formal process of becoming a citizen is a crucial process to ensuring our national security. We must have a formal accounting and screening of all individuals who enter into America.

The federal, state, and local government is going to have to do a better job of punishing those businesses that hire illegal immigrants. I have always found the label “undocumented worker” to be quite unsettling, which indicates that we have simply adopted illegal immigrants into our society—such a dangerous phenomenon.  By acknowledging that we have undocumented workers, we make a public acknowledgement that we know that these individuals are not legal citizens. Is it going to take one of these illegal immigrants engaging in serious terrorist act before we stop treating the issue of illegal immigration as just another “hot” topic, instead of as a matter of public safety. Many American businesses, not all, enjoy exploiting illegal immigrants because they are able to pay them extremely low wages. Just to gain this cheap labor, many American businesses are putting our lives in danger—we do not know much about these illegal immigrants.

I am often unsettled and unnerved by the argument that illegal immigrants are performing vital work for America, work that we (legal American citizens) do not want to do. Are you kidding me? In an economy like this, people are looking for any type of work to help their families to survive. Many poor African-Americans would love to have the opportunity to have access to these jobs that illegal immigrants are performing for exploitative wages. Because employers know that these illegal immigrants will work for any wage, employers do not need to consider hiring poor African-American workers because they can save tremendous amounts of money by giving the work to illegal immigrants. While without question illegal immigrants performing in many of these jobs work tremendously hard, they are serving in jobs that legal citizens could be receiving income from. When illegal immigrants work for these exploitative wages, they enable employers to cut jobs and slow the rate at which they give pay raises and create good paying jobs.

Many African-Americans are trying to support illegal immigrants because of some of the radical elements of the Arizona Immigration Reform Bill. Although many African-Americans see this bill as racist, this should not cause them to support illegal immigration because it hurts them not only economically, but also when it comes to national security. Even though African-Americans are economically disadvantaged by illegal immigration, the threat to all Americans’ national security is much more important. Do you go to sleep at night with your doors wide open? I’m sure you don’t. Then, why would you allow your federal, state, and local leaders to leave our borders vastly unprotected?

Even though some think that it is not practical to ship all illegal immigrants back to their country of origin, we have to make a strong effort to do this. We cannot allow these lawbreakers to just roam around like they have not done anything wrong—they broke our laws! If you are an illegal immigrant, you need to go back home today! You have certainly worn out your welcome, and your illegal entrance into this country was never appreciated. President Obama seems to be more interested in gaining the votes of these illegal immigrants by allowing them to stay in this country.

While we do not have to solve the illegal immigration problem in the way Arizona has attempted to do it, we can find effective ways of sending them back home. We need to put the National Guard on our borders to help to provide better border security. Yes, we need to militarize the borders. I am not trying to be disrespectful in anyway, but these illegal immigrants were not worrying about being disrespectful when they illegally entered this country. It’s so unfair to those who entered into this nation legally to let illegal immigrants stay in our country. I call on President Obama to see illegal immigration as a matter of national security.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison