Archive » August 28, 2008
By SYVJ Staff
Selected recent California newspaper editorials
by The Associated Press
(Los Angeles) Daily News : “Political stunts no substitute for real reform”
It’s not surprising that, after three weeks, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency has killed its absurd “self-deportation” program.
This scheme ... was doomed from the get-go, and by design.
The pilot program, which operated in five cities, offered illegal immigrants who are facing court orders to leave the country 90 days to plan a “scheduled departure.” This was supposedly an attractive offer as it would have allowed “self-deportees” to get their affairs in order before they leave, and avoid the (highly unlikely) risk of being arrested and detained.
But go figure: People who risked their lives and limbs to come here weren’t going to leave for no particular reason.
So ICE officials can now pat themselves on the back. For $41,000, they successfully nabbed the eight most gullible — and probably the most harmless — illegal immigrants in the United States.
ICE’s plan failed not just because it was laughable, but because illegal immigrants knew there would be no serious consequences for not complying. They knew that while the occasional raids create a stir, raids are few and far between — the U.S. government will never have the means, nor the will, to forcefully deport some 12 million people.
Which is to say, more “enforcement” of the nation’s badly broken immigration laws alone is as much a nonstarter as self-deportation. The laws themselves must be fixed.
Among the ... illegal immigrants whom self-deportation failed to nab are gangbangers and other criminals who terrorize our streets. So, too, are millions of otherwise law-abiding, hardworking people who lack practical means to enter the country legally. The current system leaves them unlicensed and uninsured on our roads, vulnerable to exploitation and invisible.
Stunts and point-proving displays of Washington’s impotence are no substitute for real, comprehensive immigration reform.
Once again, ICE has turned up cold.
The Sacramento Bee: “Paper, plastic or bring your own”
Beginning in the 1970s, disposable plastic bags were seen as more environmentally friendly than paper bags. So stores began the shift to plastic.
Today, shoppers still get asked, “Paper or plastic?” But both choices come with negative effects. The production of all single-use disposable bags, whether paper or plastic, entails lots of energy and resources. And both have dismal recycling rates (10 percent to 15 percent of paper bags and 1 percent to 3 percent of plastic bags, according to the Wall Street Journal).
Now, the most common disposable bags are made of plastic, so it gets the most attention. These bags, made of polyethylene, an oil-based thermoplastic, take about a thousand years to biodegrade. They end up in landfills and, worse, the ocean. But paper bags still take more energy to produce and cost more for stores.
California, with its long coastline littered with white bags, needs a better approach, one that encourages people to make informed choices between disposable and reusable bags.
A bill before the California Legislature would adopt Ireland’s market-based approach. Beginning in January 2010, Assembly Bill 2769 would require California stores to collect a 25-cent tax on all disposable bags, paper or plastic. Stores would get 5 cents for every plastic bag and 10 cents for every paper bag. The balance would go to a Bag Pollution Fund to clean up the litter caused by single-use carryout bags and encourage the reduced use of single-use disposable bags.
AB 2769 would provide shoppers with a choice: Bring reusable bags or pay the true cost of a disposable bag. That should shift market behavior — and help the environment, too. The Senate should pass AB 2769, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign it.
Contra Costa Times: “Protect farmworkers”
About three years ago, California lawmakers addressed a terrible trend that this state was leading the nation in heat-related deaths among farmworkers. But, now those laws have become ineffective and virtually useless.
Under the laws, farmworkers are suppose to receive the basics like a water break or even an umbrella for shade, things they should be getting law or no law. Instead, many farms in this state have made conditions worse, and the results are deadly.
In the three years since the legislation there have been 12 farmworkers who have died in suspected heat stroke deaths, nearly twice the number in the three years before the laws were passed. This year alone, there have been six such deaths.