Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Require non-resident worker registration

Jefferson Parish deputies are looking for Edmundo Cerda-Anima in the sexual abuse and beating death of Sandra Adams at Lafreniere Park.

An arrest warrant was obtained today for a suspect in the beating death of a woman who was abducted while exercising in Lafreniere Park.

Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies said they are seeking Edmundo Cerda-Anima, 25, on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Sandra Adams, 51, of Metairie. They said they developed Cerda-Anima as a suspect with help from the Wichita, Kan., Police Department, although the connection was not immediate clear.

The announcement came after deputies impounded a white Ford Expedition similar to the getaway vehicle that they were seeking in Adams' killing.

Deputies seized the vehicle Tuesday evening at an apartment building in the 500 block of Eisenhower Avenue, about a mile south of the Metairie park, a resident of the building said today. The resident, Karen Brown, said the vehicle had been driven by four construction workers who moved into the building three to four months ago.

Another article is describing Cerda-Anima as a 25-year-old Mexican national and construction worker. His immigration status is not known.

Again, I reiterate my belief that all non-resident workers should be required to register for a work permit -- that is, those workers who aren't local residents, whether they be domestic or foreign. This would make it possible to do background checks to ensure that we aren't allowing criminals into our neighborhoods, and into our homes. The construction industry is an easy place for people to hide who don't want to be found. I'm not just talking about immigrants. I'm also talking about the proliferation of pretty wicked-looking workers from other states.

Recall that two other recent murders were probably perpetrated by people working in the rebuilding trade. There was the hit-and-run murder of Toby Beaugh on Magazine Street just before Mardi Gras. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was the shooting of Tommy Clark in the French Quarter while he was escorting two women who were assaulted by the perpetrator.

I recall that when I worked in England some years ago, I had to register with the local police. Seems pretty sensible, doesn't it? Of course, the process only works when people enter legally, and when there's enforcement.

We need tighter control on who's coming into the city to work. It would be very ironic indeed if Cerda-Anima turns out to be an illegal immigrant at a time when President Bush hasn't been enforcing immigration laws in New Orleans. Outside of a publicity raid on Lee Circle a couple of months ago, no other actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been publicized. I certainly am not seeing any ICE officers anywhere in town, and even when I saw them back in October, they admitted that their explicit instructions were to not do any enforcement activity.

5/25/06 update: Some may interpret my remarks as being xenophobic. Quite the contrary. I welcome the contribution anyone wishes to make to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Allowing violent criminals into the city -- especially criminal immigrants -- will definitely lead to mass xenophobia. Nothing would be worse for the city, or for respectable, hard-working immigrants.

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At 5/25/2006 05:05:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

I don't know, man. "Tigher control" makes me nervous. Stuff like that is all about enforcement,anyway, and I can't imagine that being very well enforced in post-Katrina NOLA.

I enjoy your blog.

At 5/25/2006 08:50:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

I gotta agree with Mr. Clio, there. I'm rather leary about giving more government workers more information without reciprocal transparency. Besides it seems to me we need workers here and requireing some kind of registration just puts a roadblock in the mind of good folks who might otherwise consider working here. It just makes it that much more of a hassle and means yet another governement agency with more bored and disinterested public workers with no incentive to do anything more than give bad attitudes to normally good folks further giving our city, which so desperately relies on a GOOD image as such a huge part of its economic well being.

Yes you MIGHT dissuade some of the "bad" types from coming, and you MIGHT catch a few folks actually wanted for criminal charges, but for the most part you make the vast majority of these folks, who are guilty of nothing more than wanting to help, even if they are making a buck by doing so, feel like they are being treated as guilty of of a crime and having to prove their innocence by being registered.

I think we should always look at potential abuses of an government power and heavily weigh that for any calls for using government as the answer. I gotta agree with Ben Franklin on this one that those who would give up an essential iberty for a little safety deserver neither freedom nor safety.

Yes there may be some safety factors involved here (i.e. catching criminals, a valid role for government, IMHO), but I think it's not worth the potential for abuse or the great problems and curtailing of civil rights something like this could cause.

At 5/25/2006 09:18:00 AM, Anonymous dangerblond said...

The reason other countries can make people register is because they don't have a constitution. Do the words, "your papers, please!" remind you of anything? Remember, if they can do it to foreign-sounding people, they can do it to you. In the land of capitalism and freedom, it is up to employers not to hire illegal immigrants. Employers have a right to the information, NOT the government.

At 5/25/2006 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Yep, those are all the factors one has to consider. What amount of liberty are we willing to sacrifice for safety, and who will enforce the law?

I think we're all frustrated because we see the crime coming back, but nobody in government is talking about it like they take it seriously.

I don't accept the argument that people will feel like criminals if they had to register, or get a license to work. To me it's like a traffic stop in my neighborhood. I wouldn't want to be pulled over, but if they were looking for an armed robber or a murderer in my neigborhood, I'd accept the inconvenience. As my father would say, if you aren't doing anything wrong in the first place, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

These are extraordinary times, and I think they require extraordinary measures.

Imagine what's going to happen to the city when one of the volunteers (not paid workers) coming down here to help clean up and gut houses is robbed, raped, or murdered. What would that do for the image of the city?

At 5/25/2006 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Unfortunately a phrase like "if you aren't doing anything wrong in the first place, you shouldn't have anything to worry about" is rather fallacious. Mainly because what you do have to worry about are your rights. The RIGHT to things like trials, and the right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty. These are NOT extraordinary times in terms of safety, at least not in the way you posit that it is somehow less safe these days. (

Instead we percieve that we are somehow less safe today and too many are try to take advantage of that, often by useing the exact pharse "If you have nothing to hide, then what are you worried about?" I'm worried about all those tiny little pieces of our rights being taken away that bit by bit turn us into a fascist state where the government gets to know all and we get to know nothing. Does that seem overblown? It might be, but wihtout taking a very, very close look at these erosions of what had been a fundamentl part and parcel of the American culture of liberty we may easily tread a path that several European nations tread last century. Yeah, I think it's THAT important. And I think those bad-attitude government workers really, really do hurt our image far more than crime statistics. It's those folks that cause distrust and fear of the very government that is supposed to be out there protecting our rights and spending its resources on actually catching violent criminals rather than harrasing it's citizens.

Plus it really is constitutionally illegal as such registration would likely fall under the interstate commerce clause.

At 5/25/2006 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Yes, I'm on the wrong side of the Constitution on this one. I think we need to have a serious debate on the topic. I only wish our mayor would invite such an open and frank discussion about how to solve the crime problem.

At 5/26/2006 06:46:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

I would agree that the mayor is in a position to bring these kinds of issues to light and, thereby, get press covereage which would propel such issues into the public "debate". Its all about whatever his priorities might be and I do agree that crime is definitely something that needs to be focused on. I just can't agree with your proposed solution. :)

At 5/27/2006 06:29:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Just wanted to toss out what I felt were some decent views on the "nothing to hide/nothing to fear" meme.

At 5/28/2006 11:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a close friend to Sandra Adams , Cerda-Anima's victim, and her family. the detective's have told the family that Cerda-Anima is an illegal immigrant but have not yet released this to the public. I don't think its OK at all for the government to allow illegals to live and work in the U.S. without background checks. yes the us has a constitution, the constitution is set in place to protect AMERICANS not Mexicans so it is not unconstitutional to poke and prod in there business, if they choose to come into this country illegally they should be subject to an "unconstitutional" back ground check. don't get me wrong i like the idea of decent honest immigrants who want to make there life here so they take there time to go through the system and become citizens. heck i don't even mind the honest immigrants who are only looking for a visa to work here for a few years to make money for there families. its the sneaky fence jumping Rio grande crossing Mexicans that i have a problem with. its called ILLEGAL IMIGRATION for a reason, its a crime and i find it hard to trust someone who's first act on US soil is a crime, why should they stop there? and if they rape and murder an American they can just hop right back over the border and every thing is just honky dory because we haven't got a clue who they are.

At 5/29/2006 04:29:00 AM, Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Don't get me wrong when it comes to US borders. WHen I talk about constitutionality it applies to American citizens, obviously. When it comes to our borders the case is a bit different.

The problem when it comes to "illegal immigration" is that it is only illegal because America has already tried to close down its borders to some extent. We are not allowing nearly as many immigrants into the country as once we did, therefore the good folks who just come here looking for a job or a better life are relegated to not being able to obtain a visa and therefore resorting to crossing the borders illegally.

I personally believe we need to entice folks who want to come here into immigrating LEGALLY. If we increase (or even rmeove) our immigration quotas then the good folks who really do want to immigrate will have a real incentive to cross at the border and apply for a visa, submitting themselves to a background check. I know we are hearing a lot of negative press about immagrants these days, particularly "illegal" ones, but I wouldn't buy into Rush Limbaugh on this one. Most illegals do not commit any real crimes, if anything they end up being victims of companies where they work for very low wages with no recourse because the company they work for is likely to deport them if they find they want to work somewhere else. The majority of immigrants pay into "the system", paying for Social Security and Medicaire and all the other same taxes you and I do, but in their case they are far less likely to be able to take any advantage of those services (SS is barred to illegals by law, don't let the neocons fool you on that one. And don't even get me started on the utter myth of "overpopulation" in the U.S.)

Putting a "fence" across the border only turns us into East Germany and that wall sure didn't stop those folks from coming across. I think we need a more comprehensive method for getting legal immigrants into this country, not keeping them out.

Let's face it, though, when it comes to violent crime there are bad people in the world and, indeed, the vast majority of criminals in this area definitely are not foreign-born (whether legal or not). In all we need to fight violent crime and violent criminals no matter who they are. I can't see blaming all immigrants (legal or otherwise, especially when you consider that many of those "illegals" have few if any lifestyle choices available to them in Latin American countries. Sorry but if I have the mouths of a family to feed and I can't get work here in the U.S. you could bet I would illegally immigrate into Mexico if that was the only place and way to try and offer my family a chance at a decent life.)

At 5/29/2006 07:40:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I really don't have a problem with immigrants coming to the U.S. to work, as long as they're not robbing citizens of their right to work.

I don't like the idea of people being here undocumented. It's important to be able to find criminals who may be hurting other people. Citizens should demand it -- and the government is supposed to serve citizens. The chances are good that domestic criminals have a trail of documentation, credit, acquaintences, and domiciles that can be used to find them. Illegal immigrants probably don't.

Getting them legalized would help with a number of issues.

I don't accept the argument that immigrants are doing jobs that Americans won't do. They're doing jobs at slave wages -- and Americans definitely won't do that, and apparently aren't willing to pay for better conditions as consumers.

We all need to work for economic and social justice, and stop thinking we can continue to be the affluent society we once were. That is coming at a cost that will be borne by future generations in debt and in lost productive opportunities. The United States is headed toward a future where there is an extreme of wealth and opportunity, and poverty everywhere else.

What's good for immigrants is good for us. I respect the will to work, and to provide a better chance for sons and daughters. There's a lot we Americans could learn from that.

As for border fences -- it's another boondoggle for Bush's defense contractor friends.

He could just as easily say he was going to start vigorously enforcing workplace compliance with existing law. It'd be far less expensive.


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