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GitHub tries to quell employee anger over its ICE contract (latimes.com)
300 points by ilamont 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 636 comments





I question how much an employee should concern him/herself with how a product is used once it's created. You have to let certain control go after a point. Or if your product is open to everyone, you'll have to live with the fact that people may use it in ways you disagree with.

Xerox or Canon (or whoever) probably makes copiers that ICE uses to make copies. Lenovo or Apple probably makes hardware that they use also to further their functions. Ford/GM probably supply ICE with vehicles. Farmers grow crops that get into their the meals that ICE personnel eat. Pilots and flight attendants probably have knowingly transported ICE employees.

Why don't the employees at all these other companies object like Github employees? Why do Github employees get a special right to withhold consent for their product to be used in a setting they might object to? Why is ICE the only company that they object to? Why do some causes get their favor and not others?

Where do we start? Where do we stop?


> I question how much an employee should concern him/herself with how a product is used > Where do we start? Where do we stop?

Often when moral question pops up on HN, the top comment is some variation of

> But where do we we draw the line? > I wonder whether we should even try.

Counterpoint: cynicism is too easy. Actually giving a shit is harder, it's uncomfortable, it involves compromise.

Yes, there's ambiguity.

Yes, the line the law draws is very loose. Github can't legally let someone from Iran or North Korea host repos, but just about anything else is legal. If Golden Dawn (the greek fascist party) wanted to use your product, nothing legally prevents you from having them as a customer.

This is no excuse to avoid the question.

Every person has to decide for themselves the boundaries of who they're willing to work for. If you work for a company, you have a voice in that company's decisions. I think many tech workers underestimate how much power they have. Good engineers are in tremendous demand.


I think you're misrepresenting the argument of people who don't think developers should interfere with the usages of their product.

The most compelling arguments I found is that just because we happen to work in a field that lets us exert our influence over society doesn't make our moral sensibilities any better than the rest of society. What us privileged few who work in technology see as using our position of influence for good, many other people may see as a small minority abusing their power to manipulate society for the worse.

I think many technology worker do understand the power they have, and make the deliberate decision that refraining from exercising that power is the morally optimal choice.


> just because we happen to work in a field that lets us exert our influence over society doesn't make our moral sensibilities any better than the rest of society.

I agree this is problematic. However, programmers are uniquely well situated to create a system for asking "the rest of society" questions about what kinds of systems they would like a programmer to support.

> make the deliberate decision that refraining from exercising that power is the morally optimal choice.

Quitting would be (as close as one gets to) refraining from exercising power. What you're describing is cooperating with the status quo, which is definitely an exercise of power.


>What you're describing is cooperating with the status quo, which is definitely an exercise of power.

Working for ICE as an engineer would be you exercising your power for ICE. But working for GitHub as an engineer, where GitHub is customer-agnostic, doesn't seem like an exercise of power to me. Anyone can use the product you build, it's not specifically for ICE. Similarly if you design a car and some cars of that design get used by ICE, that doesn't seem like an exercise of power in favor of ICE, unless you build features specifically for ICE.

Threatening to quit if GitHub continues to sell to ICE seems like an exercise of power against ICE. Silently quitting and not telling anyone why you quit I would consider a very slight exercise of power against ICE, because over time if it happens enough, businesses that deal with ICE will be less competent that businesses that don't deal with ICE, and that will harm ICE slightly.


I agree with all that I think working on a thing is continuing to bring it into being. Declining to have an opinion is the same as agreeing with the current planned direction.

In that sense, continuing to work for github forwards the net moral "output" of its work. Each wrong or right is weighted differently and though I think we can all agree that there is a direction amplitude is harder.

I just want to add that, in the same sense that quitting github quietly is a tiny blow against ICE, continuing to work for github silently is also clearly supportive of ice. Actions are rarely totally morally neutral, which is ok as long as we don't pretend they are.


> What us privileged few who work in technology see as using our position of influence for good, many other people may see as a small minority abusing their power to manipulate society for the worse.

Nevermind "good" or "bad" by the select judgement of a few privileged people -- it's whether you even bother to _consider_, or instead just claim "this is hard".

We can create influencing machines, or consensing machines. Your rightful concern is applicable to influencing machines imho. A consensing machine has no centre it's drawing people into. It's a technology for users to find and coalesce around the centres that work for them.

The things the OP is implying unnavigable are the same class of challenges we navigated hundreds of years ago with intellectual property. We thought ownership was worth controlling access over, and we made arbitrary laws to propagate that regime in the world. We could deign it worth creating processes to collectively negotiate moral right/wrong together (without presupposing the will of the steward of the tech is right/wrong) and hold ourselves to that.

The fact that we don't even bother to consider the question of "should we do this" and instead fall on "this is challenging" -- that speaks volumes to how some of us are limited in our imagining of what the sickness in society might be.


The question of what's right and wrong is a topic for religion and theologists.

I don't mean that in a cynical or nasty way. As the years go by I get more convinced that the rise of atheism is causing some of our biggest problems in western society, and I'm not religious myself. But it seems that for all its flaws, Christianity at least was an infrastructure of people and principles that hung together in some vaguely coherent manner such that people could pose the question "Is this right? Is this good?" and either answer it themselves by reference to a book, or ask it of a full time moraliser (priest).

The reason the OP is expressing unease at this kind of tech worker "morality" is because it's wafer thin in a way that makes medieval theology look like a towering pinnacle of intellectualism.

They aren't making moral judgements of their customers consistently. ICE is targeted only because a bunch of journalists started covering it extensively as part of their anti-Trump agenda. ICE did similar things before Trump but they weren't in the news, so GitHub workers ignored it.

Moreover their morality isn't universal. ICE is bad because it hurts people who only want a better life. OK, so, should there be no borders at all? What happens then to all the American workers in marginal jobs who suddenly lose their income because an immigrant willing to live in practically sub-Saharan conditions took their job? That worker only wanted a better life too, do they not matter? If not why not? Is it because they're white and GitHub workers are racist against whites? What about other border control agencies? What about governments in general?

Christian religious morals are very far from ideal but at least make a show of being universal. You forgive those who trespass against you - it doesn't matter who they are or what they did. You forgive them. You are the good Samaritan who helps those in need. Doesn't matter who they work for. You love your neighbour. Doesn't matter if they voted for the other guy.

You're arguing that tech workers should engage with morality as if it's any other hard question that can be whiteboarded out in a few hours. But tech workers have got nothing to say on this topic that hasn't already been said hundreds of years ago. They have no special insights to provide. The rigour of their moral logic is trivial compared even to a bunch of men in funny clothes reading stories about camels out of a book written anonymously 2000 years ago. Why shouldn't they be reminded of this?


>make the deliberate decision that refraining from exercising that power is the morally optimal choice

Don't you think the FSF exists as a huge counterpoint to this? The FSF deliberate makes the decision that copyleft is the morally optimal choice and forces others to comply - and I'd imagine more developers view the FSF as a good thing.


It forces developers to comply, but it doesn't impose any restrictions on the users of the software. In fact it forces developers to not impose any restrictions on the users of the software.

Your distinction between "users" and "developers" is meaningless to me. Why does FSF get to make that distinction, but GitHub cannot do the same for "ICE" and "other humans".

All in all, the FSF is arguing for restrictions about how one class of individuals may use what they produce and for the benefit of the other class. Just like how FSF prevents other developers from using their products to lock other users out of their software, similarly, the employees are asking to prevent ICE from using their products against the questionable imprisonment of other human beings.


Yeah I do see there are a lot of similarities.

But I think the main difference lies in that copyleft limits itself purely to the realm of controlling how modified software is distributed. The only thing it limits is how modified software is distributed. The only thing it requires is how modified software is distributed. When a developer writes software to be used by others, it's necessary for the developer to decide how to distributed it, and copyleft provides an answer. Copyleft doesn't venture past the developer's necessary role.

On the other hand, limiting providing stuff to ICE ventures out of the developer's necessary question of how to distribute software and now starts thinking about human suffering, jails, politics, etc. You've gone past the question of how to distribute software, and are now thinking about broader topics.


> Just like how FSF prevents other developers from using their products to lock other users out of their software

Developers are allowed to create commercial or otherwise restricted software with FSF tools like gcc.


That is a brilliant synthesis of the crux of the issue. Our community is powerful and full of their own virtue while simultaneously largely disconnected from issues they so protest about. No actual skin in the game, so much power, so much certainty. Its a recipe for disaster.

> The most compelling arguments I found is that just because we happen to work in a field that lets us exert our influence over society doesn't make our moral sensibilities any better than the rest of society.

What, then, does?

Democracy is a good idea, sure. But what happens when democracy reaches a conclusion that seems obviously unjust? Do we decide that our own sense of right and wrong must be flawed? (This is a question I have no good answer to—where should we develop our sense of right and wrong?)

Moreover, historically there are many times that democracy says something is right that the people of a later era (perhaps even just a couple years later) decide was actually wrong, and that's the reason we have constitutional limits on what voters can do—but who decides what the Constitution says? We obviously need a veto over the will of the voters, but who should we trust with it?

What if instead of technical skills you have money? Is it wrong to use money in the service of influencing political goals? (In the US, neither the voters nor the Constitution believe so, by the way.) If others are influencing society with money, is it wrong to use money to counter them?

What about speech and communications media? If you have a platform (say, you're a popular entertainer or writer or talk show host), should you use it to convince others of a particular political position? If you have many listeners and your political opponents don't, is it still okay for you to speak to your listeners, or are you a minority unjustly using your influence and power?

What about weaponry? Traditionally, military might has settled many questions of whether a government should be permitted to engage in an action. Is it unjust to go to war with a country with a smaller army? Would it have been morally optimal for the US to say, we have about 5% of the world's population, the morally optimal choice is to not interfere with World War II?

I worry the argument that it's not our place to act on our principles is popular because it's easy and comfortable—keep your job, don't rock the boat—not because it's morally compelling.

And of these groups who can influence society—the politically-well-connected-200-years-ago, the rich, the media, the military, and the technical builders—if there is an argument for any of them to exert disproportionate influence, it seems to me the strongest argument would be for the builders, since technical work necessarily requires intelligence snd systems thinking more strongly than the others do. That is, if any group is to be entrusted with a veto if the rest agree and they disagree, the builders seem most likely to have a legitimate, informed, reasoned, and non-self-serving reason for the veto.

Society, incidentally, has no stories of praising people who exercised restraint when they saw an obvious injustice and the rest of the world going along with it. It usually disdains them as weak, cowardly, and opportunistic. It does have strong praise for those who took a stand even when it seemed like their position was in the minority.


> But what happens when democracy reaches a conclusion that seems obviously unjust?

In that case, we imagine a better democracy. If someone feels empathy is what makes their local democracy work better, and the further-above larger spheres of democracy no longer embody that:

We should imagine a new democracy that optimizes for empathy, no?


I'm not sure I follow concretely what is meant by "imagine a better democracy." Does it involve stopping the unjust outcomes (by persuasion, influence, or force) or just advocating a new constitutional convention at some point? And how do we make it better / "optimize for empathy" - do we change how votes are allocated and weighted? Do we enshrine empathy as a constitutional principle and ask judges to stop unempathetic laws?

Are the protesters in Hong Kong imagining a new democracy that optimizes for empathy? Did the plaintiffs in Obergefell do so? What about the soldiers at Normandy?

Is refusing to work for employers that sell to ICE part of imagining a better democracy?


[flagged]


Would you rather the agency detained the parents but not the children? Splitting up families is worse than detaining children in my opinion. I'm sure you'd think that detaining anybody is bad, but then what is the point in having borders if you don't enforce them? A law that isn't enforced is not a good law. Or maybe you disagree with borders too? In which case supporting any US government since the creation of the nation has been an "abuse of power" too?

Splitting up families is worse than detaining children in my opinion

You don’t need to pick and choose because ICE is splitting up families AND detaining children!

Reedx 11 days ago [flagged]

Don't the police do the same thing with citizens when parents are detained?

Edit: Of course asylum seekers are a different case and should not be separated.

cjbprime 11 days ago [flagged]

ICE separates asylum-seeking families; seeking asylum is not a crime.
istjohn 11 days ago [flagged]

Your false dilemma posed no problem for Bush and Obama.

On the other hand, I'm one of those Free Software guys that believes that the software I write should be able to be used by anyone, for any purpose. One of the problems with causing shit storms in at your place of employment because they don't follow your preferred political views is that these views are divergent.

No matter what thing you are talking about, whether technical or political decision, a decision has to be made. Once it is made, as an employee, I think you've got to either go with it or decide to go somewhere else (perhaps starting your own company if you need to). I say this as a person who obviously holds a minority point of view in most of the companies I've worked for ;-)

At the end of the day, you've got to decide if you are aligned with the ideals of the employer you work for or not. Making suggestions is one thing, but trying to put political pressure on your employer to act in a particular manner is something I would advise people to refrain from.


The problem is few vocal employees can set the tone which comes out in public as if every employee at that company is against it. I don't think that should be the case and only the shareholders should voice/vote on companies decisions. And shareholders will always vote for what helps the bottom line. Look at what happened in NY where few vocal politicians voted out Amazon's HQ.

The argument is not "too hard to draw a line, so we should not do it", it is "too hard to draw a line, which means it is arbitrary, lacking in legitimacy, and prone to corruption."

Engineers are a powerful class of people with the opportunity to swing their weight around on political issues like this. Some believe this opportunity should be seized for good, others believe it is just a soft form of tyranny, an undemocratic exercise of power. This is particularly true when in your own country, where you ought to use the power of the vote to make a difference.


Why not let workers who want to "pressure" GitHub exercise their First Amendment rights and quit?

At the same time GitHub should absolutely pay a bit more to get engineers who don't care about this issue.

We don't need to censor employees, and at the same time we shouldn't expand the moral opinions of a vocal minority of opinions to be automatically indicative of what GitHub "should" do. What Github "should" do is replace these employees who are exercising their right to quit.


> You have to let certain control go after a point.

Why? If it's within your power to prevent your work from being put to use in service of something you find immoral, why not attempt to organize with like-minded workers and put a stop to it?

If you can force your company to make a choice between a contract and its workforce, you can achieve your goal. There's no reason to let things go.

> Why do Github employees get a special right to withhold consent for their product to be used in a setting they might object to?

Because they have, or may have, the power to do so. If they can take control of their work, there's no reason not to do so.

EDITED TO ADD:

> Why don't the employees at all these other companies object like Github employees?

They either don't object, or don't have the power within the company to object effectively.


This politicisation of tech that's happened at a surprisingly rapid rate since a few years ago is scary, because it threatens to split the industry and maybe even eventually society into a number of opposing factions.

I've said it before, and say it again StackOverflow has taken a huge nosedive sicne the "Time to take a stand"[1] post, where Joel stated openly that if you don't support open borders, you aren't welcome on StackOverflow.

[1]: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/342440/time-to-take...


Can you point me to the part where he said that?

Everything is political.

If everything is political, politics is just background noise.

A pernicious notion.

I would think that employees at those companies would probably prefer if they weren't doing business with some of those people, but I think it is much more difficult in cases where there is just a good being purchased through retailers (there are intermediary steps).

With these kinds of contracts it feels much more akin to a partnership, so I think the feedback makes more sense. Its odd to me that we question why employees would want to have a say in how their company conducts business. Sure, its a choice for the company to make, but saying it is entitled for the employees to speak out just seems insane to me.


Yes. Something tells me that if ICE just signed up to Github, nobody would even notice.

> Why don't the employees at all these other companies object like Github employees? Why do Github employees get a special right to withhold consent for their product to be used in a setting they might object to? Why is ICE the only company that they object to? Why do some causes get their favor and not others?

Wokeness and the recent trend of trying to cancel anything that doesn't align within a narrow spectrum of progressive viewpoints is a big reason here.


I'm sure these people have varying viewpoints across the spectrum on a variety of issues, but this is a direct contract with a client that currently has a large target on it's back. These employees agree they would prefer not to be a partner. Saying all of those who petitioned share a narrow viewpoint is reductive.


It looks like that lawsuit is alleging that prisoners only making $1-4 a day is slave labor when to my knowledge that's common in almost all prisons in the US.

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/04/10/wages/

That's not to say its a good practice or policy but nothing there looks like its any different for ICE detainees.


The 13th amendment abolished slavery for everyone except prisoners. The fact that migrants are being treated like prison labor is evidence that they are performing slave labor.

Slavery is still allowed for jury duty as well. You are forced to work and if you don't go they can throw you in prison and/or fine you.

Oh Hacker News, you never cease to disappoint.

"Prisoners are being forced to work for almost no pay, its modern day slavery."

"Yeah but think about jury duty, I'm the real slave labour in my middle class lifestyle, having to participate the function of my democracy."

I'm sure you think that taxation is theft as well.


But also other company employees are protesting! There have been news stories for multiple employee protests (including Delta refusing to deport some people)

Maybe you and GP are not seeing the stories because the outlets you read choose not to cover this


"ICE is currently doing some bad things" is a viewpoint shared by a pretty large group of people. Honestly it just sounds like you're projecting.

ICE is getting raked over the coals in the court of public opinion because they don't have the funding nor the manpower to deal with 100k people coming over the border each month. Many asylum seekers are just exploiting the asylum system with invalid cases as economic migrants to delay the process so they don't get sent back home. All the while congress hasn't done much at all to fix the obvious problems in the law (some of which lead to family separation in detainment), nor do reasonable things like give a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers.

Simply saying they are doing bad things is reducing the problems to a soundbite.


Prior world war II the illegal immigration from Mexico was a genuine issue for America. DO you want to know how they stopped illegal immigration cold? They simply fined any business or employer who employed them severely. The problem quickly resolved itself without having to lock people up.

It is entirely possible to curtail the number of people coming here once there is NO work or services for them. It works, and we know it works, because we have done it before.

No one wants to "solve it" because our entire food supply and production (meat packing to local restaurants) is powered by illegal immigrants. Lawn care, construction, plenty of industries run on cheap (illegal) immigrant labor.


> DO you want to know how they stopped illegal immigration cold? They simply fined any business or employer who employed them severely. The problem quickly resolved itself without having to lock people up.

I'd be completely in favor of that. Especially in the recent case where ICE raided a factory in the south owned by the Koch brothers. We need congress to act on that though as AFAIK there is not a current framework to prosecute businesses for it.

> No one wants to "solve it" because our entire food supply and production (meat packing to local restaurants) is powered by illegal immigrants. Lawn care, construction, plenty of industries run on cheap (illegal) immigrant labor.

I agree. Once we stop the illegal flow we could start offering more work visas and other things to the people already here and newcomers. But without stopping the flow the people doing it the legal (hard) way are now competing against the illegal migrants leaving little incentive to do it right.


This is a very good point and I fully agree. Most migration is based on economic opportunity.

Trump is kind of a hypocrite on this point: he happily hires illegal labour because it's cheap, but then wants to put up walls politically.

FYI I believe that illegal labour is a major source of economic inequality as well: it hurts the working class the most, and the gains go to capital and middle class.


K.

Glad to see reasonable discussion is still alive and well on HN. /s

There are plenty of good rebuttals you’ve conveniently missed. Also, 300k/year was the maximum in 2000.

> There are plenty of good rebuttals you’ve conveniently missed.

I got 5 replies in a span of 5 minutes. I can't respond that fast with the detail and nuance of my positions.

> Also, 300k/year was the maximum in 2000.

And now we are up to 500k last year, and another 950k this year. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration


Yep, we’re having a record year but it’s been much lower for the last 20 years (going by memory).

And both sides have been claiming it has been a problem for all of those years. Every president since Regan has talked about the problems at the border and Congress has done barely anything to both enforce the laws, and make the system smoother for immigrants.

[flagged]


> it seems reasonable to me to assume anyone arguing in their favor is arguing in bad faith and disengage.

I'm not arguing in their favor. I would like nothing more than for us to have strong border control and a functional immigration system that isn't overloaded with false asylum claims so that the real ones can get through. We definitely need to overhaul things like the H1B programs as well.

My argument here is that no country's immigration system could handle this type of steady influx of 100k+ people per month [1] exploiting the asylum claims. Many of which only claim such after they illegally cross (yes i know you can technically claim whenever, but that's mighty convenient after crossing illegally).

The systems were not built for this kind of thing. Basically under current law you have the choice to detain people until their asylum case is heard or release them on their own recognizance inside the country and hope they return for court. The family separation thing has happened because of a court ruling saying that kids and adults couldn't be detained together because of abuse concerns. If the same thing happened to Canada their systems would be in shambles just like ours. There needs to be a mixture of border security and fixes to immigration law to remedy this problem but none of that can happen while Congress sits on it's hands playing politics.

[1] https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration


They have the manpower, they're just doing everything as inefficiently and inhumanely as possible in order to arrive at this outcome. This is a choice that the administration is making, and ICE is implementing it.

> They have the manpower, they're just doing everything as inefficiently and inhumanely as possible in order to arrive at this outcome.

Source? Last I checked the system was still drastically in need of border patrol, immigration judges, case workers, beds to house people, etc. Those things can't just spin up in a week and be effective.


I don't have the time to look up a source at the moment, but Trump changed policy to detain immigrants until their hearing rather than releasing them. He's also keeping them in custody longer in order to force them through court proceedings rather than just deporting them.

The system was already desperately in need of resources before Trump added this strain. We could go back to an Obama-era level of need, but instead we've chosen to ramp up the problem and force this outcome.


[flagged]


It was highly controversial, but it's a choice. Obama chose to have some people not show up for their court date. Trump chose to keep people in inhumane conditions and separate children from their families.

[flagged]


There are 2 choices under the law for asylum claims. Either let them go within the country until their court date (hoping they show up) or detain them.

The former did not work and was infamous as the "catch and release" policy. Detainment could work in principal but the overflow of the system has caused long wait times, overcrowded facilities and not enough staff to handle the cases. If you suddenly switched back to catch and release we would most likely have a greater influx of people coming in who have no valid claim to asylum and would not show up to their court date. It's a shitty problem all around.

And pretending that an overcrowded detention system is a concentration camp is disingenuous at best. If that was the case then California's prison system has been a network of concentration camps for years as they have dealt with constant overcrowding and problems.


[flagged]


Asylum seekers are supposed to stop in the first country available. Mexico grants people asylum. So you should ask yourself, why aren't they applying there? Because they aren't fleeing imminent physical danger, that's why. They are abusing the system to cover being economic migrants, and they are assisted in this by NGOs with questionable motives.[1][2][3]

People who cross national borders, without documentation, and not at designated points of entry, are NOT "immigrants". They are illegal aliens. People need to stop conflating the two.

[1]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48548031

[2]https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/as-trump-t...

[3]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJlOmMj21uM


Most asylum seekers don't have valid claims for asylum. They are economic migrants that are bogging down the system for valid asylum cases. Bogging down a system that was not built for it results in overcrowding, long delays and other pretty shitty things. Thats why congress needs to take further action to 1) limit the number of invalid claims making it into the system and 2) make sure DHS/ICE has the proper resources to deal with it all.

The current administration has been crystal-clear that it intends to reduce legal and illegal immigration through all means available.

One of these means is lengthening the asylum-seeking process and requirements. Another is reducing the allowed number of successful asylum seekers through informal quotas.

The current administration has done both. They are intentionally gumming up the asylum system in order to make good on their campaign promises.

"It's the fault of invalid economic migrants" is a talking point.


What you see as “lengthening the process”, others see as actually aligning the process with the laws.

HN loves to rail against the corrupt H1-B system, but apparently actually getting asylum seekers is amoral.

What would be more honest is to say “I don’t like cheap tech labor, so therefore clamping down on H1-Bs is good.” And “I don’t like the Trump administration and I want an open immigration system, so what Trump is doing to asylum seekers is bad.”

It’s all politics.


Failing to or refusing to seek asylum in an adjacent safe country (i.e., Mexico) is an automatic no-go on an asylum claim.

Also, claiming asylum because of local criminal elements (non-state actors) is an automatic no-go for an asylum claim.

(Note, Obama's DOJ fucked this one up by letting an immigration judge (unlawfully) grant an asylum claim because of local non-state criminal threats.) Hence, the flood gates opened and people began sending women and children first, rather than adults to sneak in and find work.


> What you see as “lengthening the process”, others see as actually aligning the process with the laws.

It is lengthening the process no matter how I or anyone "sees" it. It's comparative, I didn't give a value judgement.

It is all politics. Part of the current administration's campaign promises was to let in less immigrants. They now take political moves to do so, including lengthening the asylum process.

There are other reasons besides not liking cheap tech labor to not like H1-B visas. Because they are tied to employers, workers that hold them are easier to abuse, as they have few other options. Other people don't like that it is based on a lottery system, and so companies that request the most H1B visas will get the most H1B visas.

It is not dissonant to believe that H1B should be reduced or removed in its entirety but other visas and legal immigration avenues should be also be opened up.


H1-B visas and asylum seekers are two entirely different things, I'm not sure why you're trying to conflate them.

Edit: arguing about the legality of the asylum seekers is also missing the point.


The point is, people like to claim “immigration good”, but when you dig down into their actions, you find their actual views are heavily influenced by self-serving goals.

These aren't people fleeing genocide. These are people leaving Mexico. And they're being put in hotels and buses.

It's easy to pretend you're fellow Americans are monsters, but they're not.


> These aren't people fleeing genocide. These are people leaving Mexico.

No, they are people fleeing violence in Central America through Mexico, in large part.

That violence, incidentally, is in substantial part resulting from the US training nonviolent drug war criminals into extremely violent criminals in its original and then deporting then to Central America what they have no substantial roots.


>>>No, they are people fleeing violence in Central America through Mexico, in large part.

If you are passing through one country because you desire to get to a specific destination, you are basically asylum shopping.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asylum_shopping


Or, you know, the country you are passing through presents (for overlapping, though not identical reasons) reasons the same dangers that you are escaping from, so it's not any kind of escape.

My very cursory understanding of the international legal agreements on this subject don't seem to take that into account. In other words: that problem does not create a legal obligation on the US's part to accommodate them, nor does it put a legal obligation on Mexico or any other intermediate state to facilitate their transfer.

> My very cursory understanding of the international legal agreements on this subject don't seem to take that into account.

Even nativist politicians making incorrect claims about the law here tend to claim it requires efforts to seek asylum in the first safe country, which even if true would, in fact, fully take into account the problem of an intervening country that shared the same problem being fled from in the country of nationality or habitual residence. See, e.g., referring to this claim:

https://fullfact.org/immigration/refugees-first-safe-country...


Hotels? If you call jail (on a good day) a hotel then I have a bridge to sell you. And yes we put them on busses to get them back because it is cheeper than flying them.

> These aren't people fleeing genocide.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/...

You as an American should not go there, but them fleeing here is problematic?


Crime != genocide. And asylum cases require specific threats to your life not just "it's not nice there and I want to come to the US".

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/asylum-or-refugee-st...


The specific concerns may be new, but the general tactics are neither new, nor specific to progressives; in fact, while the labor movement has had some notable successes with it, the general approach has been most extensively deployed in this country by, and still is extensively used by, conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, against policies, institutions, art, personages, etc., they disapprove of.

They call it “cancel culture” when it is their ox getting gored, but it is not as if no one told them what the harvest is like when you sow the wind...


"Kids these days with their wokeness. Back in my day we didn't care about things like human rights, wealth inequality, the plights of underrepresented groups, or destroying the planet. All these damned messy ethics are interfering with business!"

I am not a GH employee nor do I speak for them.

But I think a fair point of view is that it would be GREAT if the employees of Xerox and Canon and Lenovo and Apple and Ford and the airlines and even the farmers all took the same stance as GH employees.

If that actually happened, ICE would cease to be able to function incredibly quickly.

Which would be good. This is basically the point of these protests.


> ICE would cease to be able to function incredibly quickly. Which would be good.

If you had said "ICE would be forced to reconsider its inhumane methods which have lead to its terrible reputation" - a lot more people would agree with you. There have been a number of polls done over the past year or two which show that only about 25% support abolishing ICE, the majority oppose. I think almost everyone would agree that they need to do their job with a lot more empathy and humanity, so protests are good, but the goal should be to get them to clean up their act, it would be a mistake (and not supported by the people) to try to get rid of the immigrations and customs enforcement function entirely.


I think the core idea here is: this organization is doing bad things. By not supplying them with goods and services we can stop those bad things from happening.

Whether that happens because the organization reforms or because the organization ceases to exists is a secondary concern.


>>>I think the core idea here is: this organization is doing bad things. By not supplying them with goods and services we can stop those bad things from happening.

Government programs NEVER just end, and certainly not do to simple supply disruptions. So they won't STOP doing bad things, they'll just continue to do bad things with even less resources, making the net effects even worse. Eventually you might end up with ICE detention centers that would make a FOB in Iraq look like a palace. All you need is triple-strand concertina wire, some 55-gal drums cut in half (for burning human waste), and a bunch of plywood.

Law of unintended consequences....


"Don't ever try to stop bad people from doing bad things because if you do they will only do worse things" is not a point of view I am willing to accept.

In addition, "Government programs NEVER just end" is also obviously incorrect. Our government once had a program of segregating black people from large swaths of society. This program, thankfully, no longer exists.


Ok I probably should have phrased that as "rarely" instead of "never". There are, after all, always exceptions...

At least then we can call it what it is. Remove the façade.

Why? That's like saying the police should cease to function in their enforcement of the law.

Would it be really be good to prevent Homeland Security Investigations, a major division of ICE, from investigating sexual abuse of children, and rescuing children from abusive situations?

And about one of every 10 agents in Homeland Security’s investigative section — which deals with all kinds of threats, including terrorism — is now assigned to child sexual exploitation cases.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/28/us/child-sex-...

https://www.ice.gov/predator


There are lots of organizations that do both good and bad things. I hear that the KKK sometimes did some good community building work in addition to lynching black people.

It is, apparently, the judgement of a large swatch of GH employees that whatever good ICE does, it is not outweighed by the bad. Given that, I believe their actions make sense.


It's true that most ethical situations are not black and white.

When an organization is doing some good things, and some bad things, is the best course of action to prevent the organization from doing both good and bad things? In the case of ICE, would it not be more effective to pursue a strategy of more targeted reforms that address the unethical immigration enforcement actions without stopping the other divisions pursuing investigations into human rights violations and child exploitation cases?

My concern here is that empathy for children being negatively impacted by immigration policies, while valid, doesn't imply we should act out indiscriminately against the entire ICE organization. Balancing the needs of victims of bad immigration policies against the needs of victims of criminal activity shouldn't be a zero-sum game, and making gains for one group shouldn't come at the expense of the other.


That is completely dependent on people having an accurate assessment of the situation, and that is rarely the case in the current outrage driven political climate.

I don't think there is some "special right" at work here. I think some people who work at Github have decided that they don't like a deal their employer made, and presumably if said employer is trying to "quell employee anger" then enough of their employees must be angry enough to move the needle for their business.

This is fine, because employees are not in principle slaves. They do have a right to tell their employers to go fuck themselves "at will", just as the opposite is true. Anybody who takes a stand like this is exercising a privilege that not everybody enjoys, sure, but you're running with that in a suppressive direction (why should Github employees get to be special if not everyone can be special, and by the way (gasp) what if they aren't perfectly logical and fair in their activism?) while I'd go the other way: in an ideal world everybody would enjoy this privilege, and any workers who can take a stand for what they believe in certainly should.

The alternative is that corporate leaders alone are responsible for imposing ethics on the markets they play in, and we all know the sorts of decisions such people tend to make.


> Why don't the employees at all these other companies object like Github employees

Because those companies aren't based in the woke-wasteland of San Francisco bay area.


so edgy.

also, quite wrong. microsoft [1], amazon [2], not bay area companies.

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/we-did-not-sign-devel... [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/business/dealbook/amazon-...


> I question how much an employee should concern him/herself with how a product is used once it's created. You have to let certain control go after a point. Or if your product is open to everyone, you'll have to live with the fact that people may use it in ways you disagree with.

Well if a business fostered a culture where it's deemed acceptable to question who the business should or shouldn't be working with, nobody can blame the employees for doing exactly what they were incentivized to do.

Plenty of businesses would fired a rebellious employee on the spot without a second thought, or at the very least ask him to resign if he dares question managements on a matter that is neither legally questionable or related to the employee's work conditions, for instance, a group of employees that would be asking management to boycott a certain country.

Seems it is a different culture at GitHub,Google or Facebook where apparently questioning management is a virtue.

I see nothing wrong with that. It's their own doing.


If part of the reason that employees at companies like Github get equity is to foster a sense of ownership, it's no surprise that employees concern themselves with the larger picture.

Perhaps you start here and not stop until a government and it's agencies cease abusive practices.

The counter question is how much should a person turn a blind eye (and so implicitly endorse) the uses of your product?

In this case at least, there was a donation made that would not have happened otherwise.


There is a difference between a) offering something (for free or gain) ubiquitously to the world at large regardless of any of the myriad ways we choose to distinguish one from another and b) have an arrangement with a specific entity to further their specific cause.

I'm not under the impression that gitlab employees are complaining about the first (surely ICE employees and contractors can make use of the myriads of repositories gitlab makes available to the world at large). They are reacting negatively to specific contracts gitlab has with ICE.


GitHub doesn’t sell product in the same way as your examples. They are a service provider. I’d say different dynamics come in with services (hosting content, providing and managing infrastructure, providing support and maybe even consulting) vs products.

Also for people who draw comparison with discrimination against individuals: Companies, agencies and organizations aren’t “discriminated” against in the same sense as individuals. I am not aware of any legislation where it’s considered wrongly discriminatory to decline B2B contracts.


Totally second that.

The moment salaried employee start sabotaging his job and putting his views against his job description - it's clearly time for him to reconsider employment at a place that better matches his priorities.

Win-win for all, no struggle needed.


GH employees don't just get a salary but also equity. So in addition to being employees they are, in fact, owners of the company. It seems perfectly fair for a company owner (even a small one) to voice an opinion about how the company operates.

I can't really buy a few shares of Apple and get on a high horse trying to steer AAPL revenue strategy to my liking and beliefs.

Shareholder I am - but lets get realistic.



>> ... which together own around $2 billion of Apple stock, have published an open letter urging Apple to think differently about ...

Lol, there is a small difference between few shares and few $billion worth of shares. Latter' voice is easier to be heard.


Came to add my two cents and found this. Ditto to what you said.

There is an even bigger question here.

Is ICE the only thing on GitHub that is morally questionable?

I would venture to guess NO. I would venture to guess that all sorts of things on GitHub are used in illicit, illegal, or morally repressible ways.


And?

> Why do Github employees get a special right to withhold consent ... ?

Why do you ask question in such a biased frame?

Why don't you ask instead:

Why don't other companies have moral standards?


All these people are saying is "I don't want people using things I make for (what I perceive to be) evil".

Aside from the compensation, anything you have implied beyond this is just augmentation derived from capitalism and acceptance of the status quo. Saying "I don't like what you are doing with the thing I am producing for you, so I may stop offering you services" is just...basic human communication. I really can't see how there is any more to this?

You speak with such absolute authority ("You have to let certain control go after a point."). However, this story (and others like it) are proof that this is untrue. Your assertion is false.

Just because somebody is an employee, it does not mean they lose all bargaining power / agency. If you are exchanging goods or services with someone else in a scenario where the power dynamic is not entirely one-sided, there is always room for negotiation. This is all that's happening.

Just because you don't care about how your stuff is used, doesn't mean that it applies to everyone.


Well put argument. A lot of posturing in comments in threads like these which try to mislead the reader into thinking that they are looking at the conflict from a higher, more rational, position.

I like the way you have framed the argument.


[flagged]

heyoni 11 days ago [flagged]

Human rights is so trendy right now. /s

Caring for the well-being of imprisoned asylum seekers is not virtue-signalling.

It says more about your own morals that you think it is.


How does removing a tool from ICE help improve the conditions of asylum seekers? At most it makes them pay for a different tool and makes the asylum seekers conditions worse. Unintended consequences...

Yes. It is quite literally taking action, as opposed to just acting as a "signal". Hell, a valuable Github engineer standing up against an ICE contract would probably do more for 'the cause' than their vote would.

The comments here seem very negative compared to e.g. the Google employee protests over Project Dragonfly. [1]

There are two questions here: whether GitHub should allow ICE to buy its software, and whether employees should influence the direction of their company via protests, petitions, and threats to quit.

GitHub specifics aside, I think employees absolutely should organize and quit over issues they feel strongly about (at least when they have the flexibility to find other jobs). Company policy should be guided by the people who work there, and the a company's leadership structure is set up well to resolve the conflict.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18542830


The important distinction is that Project Dragonfly was being built to serve a single customer and purpose, both of which employees were not comfortable with. GitHub is built to serve any customer and has a defined purpose that is generally useful. Employees are now uncomfortable with their generally useful tool being used as intended by a customer they do not approve of.

It's not really an apples to apples comparison.


Thats because HN is a US-based website, and that automatically entails "US = good, China = bad" comments. (Even though in this case both US and China = bad)

> The results of GitHub’s quarterly anonymous employee survey — which showed a decline in trust of leadership ...

In 100% of cases where I've known a small company that got bought by a much bigger company, this has occurred. It's amazing anyone still believes that their small company can get bought and somehow they'll be able to preserve (what they think is) their "company culture".


Huh? GitHub’s company culture has been described as toxic way before they were acquired - not at least here. The problem seems to be exactly that they’ve managed to preserve that. Kudos to the employees speaking up though!

I’m simply going off what the article says.

If it was “toxic” before and still managed to decline, that sounds even worse!


I'm not sure if I would characterise it as toxic? There is obviously disagreement. But my impression has always been "this is a company where people have values other than technology & money, and are empowered to speak up". The alternative isn't really never having disagreements, but rather being secretive and vindictive to the point where employees fear to speak up, or consider it useless in the face of corporate bureaucracy and unaccountability. <side-eyes to IBM>

Stripe acquired Indie Hackers two and a half years ago, and I love it. I get ample support and encouragement, while also retaining my freedom to run the community how I see fit. Most IHers would also tell you that the site has improved since then.

One of the many keys is aligned incentives and values. If there's even a small 1-2 degree difference in the direction you and your acquirer would like to head in, that gap will widen into a vast chasm given enough time.

Also, kudos to the leadership at Stripe. They're intelligent, well-meaning, and they get it.


I don't think we should dismiss your argument so quickly just because Stripe isn't a large corporation. I'd be interested to know more about the approach Stripe took. I'd imagine there are plenty of mistakes to make regardless of company size.

I'd also like to point out that a small company can be so toxic that the employees would welcome any change in leadership -- because anything different can bring temporary relief.


Stripe (2,000 employees) is not really comparable to Microsoft (144,106 employees) when the context is corporate issues.

> It's amazing anyone still believes

Has anyone ever believed that?


Yes. I’ve worked at a couple of companies now where this has happened. It’s really hard for founders to let go of their “baby” and as such, there’s a lot of rationalization that goes into the decision when they sell the company or go public.

One of the common ones is that they will have a large enough say to keep the culture of the small company intact and often say things like “we’re just going to continue being ourselves but with more funding or resources or XYZ so it’s really great!”

In the end, they don’t accept the fact that the larger company’s values/culture is their company now and they can try to enact change as much as they want but they are no longer the key decision maker for the company overall.

For a public company at scale, it’s incredibly hard to 1.) grow exponentially or greatly and 2.) keep the hiring bar high enough to maintain your culture. There’s a trade-off made there that you’re public & you cannot slow growth at the risk of upsetting shareholders but it’s a catch-22 cause you can’t also let your salaries go out of control to hire the right talent for your culture cause you have to explain that cost increase to your stakeholders.


Fair point. I’m not sure if they did, or simply believed the benefits (financial and otherwise) of being bought outweighed the loss of company culture. They at least seemed to, in my experience.

JWZ — or maybe Spolsky — wrote about (a more general case of) this. You can either grow fast, or maintain company culture. You can’t do both.

Being bought by a larger company is just one case of growing really fast all at once.


Management implies, the old owners imply this, and some large fraction of the rank and file employees buy this.

When the rank and file realize there is no lottery ticket for them, or that they are the lottery ticket, then there's a lot of burnout.

And yes, I am fun in interviews. :)


There was that time Apple “acquired” NeXT...

But for all n where n > 1, no.


I'd like to get a feel about what volume of employees have an issue with these things.

From issue to issue I hear about various forms of employees making themselves heard but it is REALLY hard to jive with what that means.

We've seen Google employees post about some ideas that seemed to be genuinely popular (measure that how you will...) but later ideas or advocacy were reportedly far less supported by the general employees, but news reports seem to reports that don't know / specify make it sound like issue to issue "employee anger" is somehow uniform / equally supported each time.

I've worked enough places to see a popular topic / concern taken by the same employee advocates into new topics that very much were not popular.


I deeply suspect that large swathes of the employees at a lot of these large companies don't really care either way.

As with any large community of people, there are some who are more vocal than others. Call them what you want (protestors/agitators/woke/etc), but I get the feeling that they're getting a disproportionately large amount of focus from the media and I guess management.

Certainly in my experience at an unnamed employer, the first I heard about protests and problems at my work place was when I read about it on the internet - there was nothing in my immediate workplace at all to suggest any of what was reported was actually even happening, let alone pervasive.


> Call them what you want (protestors/agitators/woke/etc), but I get the feeling that they're getting a disproportionately large amount of focus from the media and I guess management.

Explicitly so. Loud voices make headlines, headlines get clicks, clicks get ad revenue. The entire industry is geared to produce maximum clicks and, ergo, maximum loud voice. This has been the theme for a while now.

The issue, though, is that Management can ignore a couple of angry cranks -- or just fire them -- but they can't avoid news articles.


I also have to wonder what percentage of GitHub’s employees _are_ non-US citizens. Every programming job I’ve ever had in the U.S. was for a company that was staffed by at least 90% foreigners; if they see U.S. immigration as an adversary, they may be opposing any contract on personal grounds.

Every non-citizen I know keeps their head down and doesn't express their personal opinions on political matters (particularly relating to ICE) because they don't want to jeopardize their visa. It would be strange and kinda stupid for a foreign programmer on an H1B to oppose a contract with ICE because they do eventually want to get that Green Card and eventually citizenship, and they know who holds the power in that relationship.

(It's also amusing to see that sometimes shift when they get their citizenship; I had a Japanese classmate in college who was on first a student visa, then an H1B, then a green card for about 15 years. He had zero political opinions for the whole time I knew him. As soon as he got his citizenship, he's active in local politics. It's more about urban planning, transit, and YIMBY efforts than immigration, though.)


You are correct. As someone who used to be on very restrictive visas for a while - your job is not “just a job” anymore. It was very much a source of constant stress for me knowing that political shifts at work or a terrible boss could very well send you packing in a matter of days.

This will be less likely to shift in the coming years, since the US government is openly investigating the ability to revoke citizenship. It's depressing to see, but I guess it shouldn't be surprising because the US approach to citizenship - birthright and/or naturalization - is not universally the case in other countries.

> Every programming job I’ve ever had in the U.S. was for a company that was staffed by at least 90% foreigners.

Where the hell are you working? I'm going to call bullshit, because it's really not that easy to get a work visa in the US. You're saying 90% of your colleagues weren't US citizens?


At every large company where I have worked (Intel, Qualcomm, Google, Facebook) the majority of my colleagues have been non-citizens. In some cases (Qualcomm SD, Google) 100% of the people on my team were non-citizens.

It's heavily team-dependent. I was on a team at Google where I was the only American citizen, with teammates from Iceland, England, Vietnam, India (4), Taiwan (2), and China (2). I was also on a team where there were basically zero non-citizens, and most of my teammates were from places like Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc.

Is that sort of distribution typical? Do teams tend to self-segregate?

Teams do self-segregate. What often happens is that the team manager ends up recruiting people they are comfortable with, which in practice means recruiting people who are culturally similar. If the team grows, the same dynamic works on the next level of managers, and so on. So immigrant managers tend to recruit other immigrants, native-born managers tend to recruit other native-born Americans, and so on. The manager of the first team was an Icelandic immigrant; the manager of the second was an American-born person of Indian descent.

A similar dynamic works on sex, as well. About half of the teams I worked at were roughly 40% women; the other half of them had zero women. Women are generally reluctant to join a team where they will be the only woman, and also word gets around about who the female-friendly managers are. So those female-friendly managers get teams that are close to 50% female, while other managers get teams of zero women. (Statistically, Google Engineering was about 10% female and IIRC 50-60% foreign-born, which means that I encountered about twice as many women that I would've been predicted to and about half as many foreigners. I wonder what that says about my personality.)


It's absolutely not bullshit. I've worked places where this is true and places where it isn't. In my experience, the former is more common.

Pretty much true for most large tech companies, at least in the SF Bay Area. I've worked at 2 large and 1 small tech co and it was only the small company that had mostly US citizens (mostly because of the cost of dealing with immigration lawyers etc)

It feels like closer to 50% noncitizen where I work, but could be closer to 90% if you include naturalized citizens.

One of my first SW jobs (mid-scale startup in Palo Alto) I had multiple canadians on my team and we had some chinese and indian immigrants on other teams. I wouldn't say 90%, but a sizable percentage.

At other companies like Google and Microsoft I've had plenty of immigrant colleagues along with colleagues at offices overseas. Some eventually choose to return to their home country, some migrate here after starting at the employer.

The main game studio I worked for also had lots of chinese and korean immigrants on staff, but I suspect that was influenced by the parent company being korean.


My current team is at least 80% foreign-born-and-rasied, myself included, but I don't know everyone's immigration status. But this is the "whitest", most American team I've worked with in the last 8 years in Silicon Valley. Prior to that I was in the mid-west and I was the only foreign engineer.

> I'm going to call bullshit,

Will people please consider a moment's thought before using this adolescent phrase? People throwing it around are probably not using it with its most precise and defensible meaning (a la Harry Frankfurt). So the most charitable alternative gloss is that it's used carelessly to mean someone is just wrong. It's a very poor (because ambiguous) word choice for that. I suspect it's usually deployed to suggest someone is lying, for which you need specific evidence beyond believing a statement to be incorrect. That evidence is very rarely available in an HN comment.

It's hard to be thoughtful about using language, and I'm no exemplar. But a good start is just avoiding reflexively spitting out some rarely useful prefabricated phrases. This is one.


This is true in a lot of places. In my PhD program (in a US university), the vast majority of us are not US citizens.

I suspect they’re saying anyone who looks/sounds different must be foreign.

There is a rule about inferring the most charitable interpretation IIRC.

And I don't think one should restrict that reasoning to only the foreign-born employees. Native-born US citizens working side-by-side with employees who have regular contact with our immigration process get a second-row seat to how broken it is.

(Spoilers: personal observation, it's pretty broken.)


a lot of non citizens support ice because if they are working at a company like github they got here legally and don’t see it as fair that others just get to skip the line

A good portion of GitHub’s employees live in Europe. Of the employees who live in America, most are citizens.

You're assuming that legal immigrants from around the world working high paid tech jobs have common cause with "illegal" immigrants coming across the southern border.

In my anecdotal experience it's not so simple.


There are massive logistical challenges with processing mass influxes of immigrants into a country, particularly people who are coming through outside of the legal process.

I would think a large contingent of GitHub employees want the people working at ICE to be using the best tools possible to achieve their mission. Many are probably quite proud of US government agencies using their tools, the same as if NASA or Executive Branch or Congress was using Github.

IMO it’s a very difficult situation when certain employees are arranging political protests against specific customers of the company, and making other employees uncomfortable to express their own potentially divergent viewpoints.


How would you even know that? Assuming you weren't high up in HR?

[flagged]


So? Smart people can figure out that they can be made "illegal" by the stroke of a pen, even if they've complied with every rule they've encountered so far.

Not really. If government fiat takes away my US visa, and for some reason does so instantaneously with no grace period, then I'd still only be an illegal alien for the few days it takes to get my affairs in order and fly home. The kind of tech worker who's employed full time at github isn't in a remotely comparable situation to someone who's in the country illegally.

It's not actually that easy to revoke someone's citizenship. I know many people who came to the US legally that are vehemently opposed to illegal immigration precisely because they followed the rules and don't see why others shouldn't have to.

visas on the other hand are incredibly easy to revoke, or simply not renew. and you're employer has to support a greencard petition if you're e.g. on an h-1b. i know of at least one person's GC application that got torpedoed after his relationship with his manager soured. especially if they have families, employees on a visa simply aren't going to speak out.

> employees on a visa simply aren't going to speak out.

I know many people with visas that are against illegal immigration. Don't assume that everyone who's not from the US hates ICE and supports unfettered immigration.


As do I. It makes sense really, the queue for a green card for someone from India is 12 years now, while there are people 'cutting in line'.

This touches on my greatest frustration with the national debate about prosecution/tolerance of illegal immigration:

One of my main reasons for opposing illegal immigration is that it's contrary to the rule of law. It subverts the democratic process, and makes suckers of anybody who does try to follow these laws. I'm actually a big fan of legal immigration.

But I rarely (never?) hear this distinction made in public statements by advocates of illegal immigration. At least in public, they seem to assume that anybody who opposes illegal immigration opposes all immigration, and even worse, does so out of ignorance or bigotry.

Assuming I'm not the only person with my particular views, that conflation is infuriating. I can only hope it's done unwittingly.


As the war on drugs has also demonstrated, there is only but so much behavior-shaping you can achieve with people via the law.

If a law is consistently and chronicallhy broken (and especially if the harm for breaking said law is minimal), at some point one must ask if the law is too incompatible with human behavior to justify enforcement or existence.

I don't think anyone "soft on illegal immigration" is against legal immigration. But they may very well be against the laws as they currently stand, because the laws are demonstrably shaped by racist intent; the national quota system used to decide people per year from each country where very much structured out of fear of a "browning" of America.


For many of these people, the legal route isn't available, or in the case of people fleeing Syria, Guatemala or Honduras, they are seeking asylum, which is legally a different route.

Yeah, that certainly tempers my views. I'm sympathetic to breaking U.S. immigration law because it's the only option for keeping one's family safe from a war zone.

I'm much less sympathetic to people breaking U.S. immigration law because they want greater economic opportunity for themselves or their children.

That said, I can't argue back to first principles why my preferred balance of virtue maximization / vice minimization is objectively better than anyone else's. So if we're being completely honest, I can't advocate even my own position in good conscience.


That's absolutely not how it works. People either have valid immigration status and/or citizenship, or they don't. There's no trick to suddenly make people "illegal".

As another commenter mentioned, the most factual way of describing that group of people is "people residing or working in the country illegally". There aren't laws against people, there are laws against what people do.

[flagged]


Luckily, whether you consider something racist or not has no actual impact on the usage of the term. And of course, you’re free to call a speeder an “illegal” if you want, just like apparently you’re free to call other HN users racist for using common terminology in a way you don’t like.

I give you Teen Vogue:

Why You Shouldn’t Use the Term “Illegals” Not only is it offensive, it's dehumanizing.

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-you-shouldnt-use-the-ter...

Well-cited article with numerous references. Teen Vogue has become quite serious of late.


> whether you consider something racist or not has no actual impact on the usage of the term

Thats true

> for using common terminology in a way you don’t like.

When did it become common terminology? I am 47 years old and don't remember that term ever being used until the last presidential election as a means to vilify people of color.

Maybe I just wasn't paying attention the other 44 years?


I'm about your age and that term has been used as long as I've been alive.

I guess I should have been paying better attention then

I'm same and same.

It used to be "illegal aliens" I think? That's the shortened form.

Unfortunately any word used to describe a population that people don't like will stop being a descriptor and become a slur if it's used long enough.


jcims 11 days ago [flagged]

Why would a racist care enough to specify the legality of their presence in the US? That doesn't even stand up to basic reasoning.

'Illegal', while possibly indelicate, gets to the root of the immigration discussion...people sidestepping the process of lawfully entering the US because it's too difficult for them or too slow for their circumstances or just impossible because they are ineligible.

Saying that everyone that's against illegal/unlawful/undocumented immigration to this country is also against immigration in general and is racist is a grotesque abuse of logic. Take a poll of people that took the long road to get to the US, I'm sure you'll find lots of 'racists' there.


> Why would a racist care enough to specify the legality of their presence in the US? That doesn't even stand up to basic reasoning.

Have you ever heard of dog whistles?

Anyways, Ive never met someone that says things like this but also opposed efforts to reduce legal immigration like the RAISE act or refugee/travel bans. As it turns out, there’s a high correlation!

jcims 11 days ago [flagged]

Yes, I'm convinced people that hear too many dog whistles in conversation are either intellectually lazy or borderline paranoid schizophrenic. Rather than trying to engage with the person to really understand how they are thinking about something, 'dog whistles' are used to neatly package them into subhuman categories not worth consideration as peers in democracy.

It's short for the legal term "illegal alien".

An equivalent with your driving example would be "illegal speeding" (as opposed to, say, an ambulance, which can legally be given permission to speed).

The big difference is that "illegal alien" really does refer to a person simply existing in a country they are not supposed to be in, rather than an action like speeding, hence why shortening it to just the adjective "illegals" works. It describes a state of being, just like "asian" or "programmer".


Illegal in the context of a speeder is a criminal matter. Illegal in the context of an immigrant/alien is referring to a violation of civil laws and not criminal ones. Maybe an apt comparison would be illegal CEO for those caught salary fixing.

> The big difference is that "illegal alien" really does refer to a person simply existing in a country they are not supposed to be in

Correct, I have no issue with the term: "illegal alien"

> shortening it to just the adjective "illegals" works

in a derogatory manner


Is 'criminals' better? Also technically true.

The term "criminal" is probably a step up. Using an epithet isn't inherently bad, but I've noticed that when an adjective becomes a nickname for a group of people it's often a method of dehumanizing them.

'hard workers' - also technically true

As is 'bipedal'. But neither of those attributes effectively circumscribe or differentiate the set of folks we're discussing.

Working without documentation, or overstaying a visa, or entering a country without a visa, have historically been misdemeanors in the USA. The current administration has decided to treat them somewhat differently, but that's quite new.

Americans don't, typically, describe people who received a parking ticket, or a speeding ticket, as criminals. In the same way, most people have not, historically, referred to people overstaying or working while on non-work visas, as illegals.

Melania Trump makes a particularly good example for this. Her profession as a model is high status, so the allegations that she worked without an appropriate visa in the US in the mid 90s does not generally lead to people calling her a criminal.


They are sort of misdemeanor plus because in addition to legal inconveniences in the US they also lead to deportation. This is something that has been vilified in the case of folks coming up from Mexico of course, but nobody gives a shit if a person that followed all the rules gets deported because of some bad luck with the lottery or their sponsor ditches them or their time is just up.

Case in point, I have a young lady on my team at work that came to the US to receive her masters in computer science, and is presently employed on a STEM OPT extension to her F1 visa. We have tried twice to get her H1-B and she hasn't been picked up. Next year will be the last try, and we're unsuccessful she will be kicked out of the US to no press or protest. She's a wonderful person and has been a true asset to my team and the company, she did everything 'right' and yet may have to leave. However if we do the exact same thing to someone that skipped all of those formalities and broke the rules, it's somehow racist and nationalist and practically a human rights violation?

I get it, calling these folks 'illegals' is a bit crass. But it's more precise than calling them 'immigrants' because it's a special case of immigrant that we're talking about, one is distinct not because of race or color or country of origin, but because of legal status.


> They are sort of misdemeanor plus because in addition to legal inconveniences in the US they also get deported. This is something that has been vilified in the case of folks coming up from Mexico of course, but nobody gives a shit if a person that followed all the rules gets deported after their time is up.

If you are still here to be deported after your time is up, you haven't followed all the rules, since leaving no later than when your time is up is, itself, a requirement of the rules.

On the other hand, while people who are concerned with the recent border crossers being denied the right to apply for asylum, or being held in humane conditions, may not be concerned about those visa overstayers who are not facing either of those problems, the people who are concerned with the leniency for those illegally present who have done nothing seriously wrong beyond immigration violations tend to be just as well inclined to visa overstayers as any other person illegally present; the distinction you suggest is not accurate.


> I consider 'illegals' to be a derogatory term used by racists

You consider wrong. Doubly wrong since race has nothing to do with it (there are illegal immigrants of all races, just as there are people of all races on all sides of the immigration debate).

> If so that is an illegal activity so maybe you are also an 'illegal'?

Within the context of driving, yes. You can be called "illegal driver" or "criminal driver" if your behavior raised to the level of a crime (e.g. something like DUI and causing a crash). But we aren't discussing driving here, so no.

> Maybe I am way off base?

Yes, you are.


> Doubly wrong since race has nothing to do with it

I can't see the gp comment, but from what you're quoting, I feel compelled to correct you.

gp doesn't say that the people who use the term "illegals" are racist "because" they say illegals. gp just says that it's a comment, in their experience, that's used by racists.

there's an important difference, do you see it?

>> Maybe I am way off base? > Yes, you are.

nah, not this time.


> gp just says that it's a comment, in their experience, that's used by racists

Technically, almost every expression imaginable could be used by somebody who is racist. Racism does not make one incapable of using language in the same way non-racist people do, so every expression can be - and usually would be - used by racists. Words "a", "and" and "the" are used by racists. Obviously, the distinction is only meaningful when the expression is exclusively or predominantly used by racists, and for a reason that it aligns with their views are racists. That, in this case, is completely false.

> nah, not this time.

Yah, this very time.


> Technically, almost every expression imaginable could be used by somebody who is racist.

you seem to be having a hard time with this. Let me paraphrase something that, if you have an open mind, might help elucidate the issue.

"I'm not saying that everyone who says, 'illegals' is racist, but an awful lot of racists like to say, 'illegals'"

> Yah, this very time.

no, you.


> you seem to be having a hard time with this

It may come as a surprise to you, but when people disagree with you, it's usually not because they don't understand the infinite wisdom of your words. It's often because they understand and think you're talking nonsense. And sometimes - like in this case - it's because you are.

> an awful lot of racists like to say, 'illegals'"

So what? Awful lot of racists also like to say "hello" and "breakfast" and "cat" and "good evening". Obviously, that doesn't make these expressions taboo. It would only be meaningful if the link went the other direction - if this designation was predominantly used by racists. So what you're doing here is trying to imply it's the case, by stating the reverse and hinting there's a casual link, but because your case for it is so weak that it would not tolerate direct confrontation, you avoid telling it directly. So that, when challenged, you can feign innocence and cry "I didn't say it's racist, I just said it's used by racist!". Taken literally, you didn't, but you words only have any meaning if that's exactly what you tried to imply without saying it directly, as to avoid being confronted and revealed as falsity. This is an insincere and I'd even say cowardly way to discuss things - casting implications without daring to stand behind them and defend them.


> So what? Awful lot of racists also like to say "hello" and "breakfast" and "cat" and "good evening".

sigh

this is the second time you've said essentially, "racists say a lot of other things too, so clearly 'illegals' isn't racist". that's not a particularly helpful or clever point.

are there non-racist people who say "illegals"? sure. do most people understand the racist connotations of the term, "illegals"? yeah, most do. does the original commenter probably understand the connotations? yeah, good bet they do.

do you? I honestly don't care.

I pose this question for you: are there other, non racially charged ways to describe someone's immigration status?

think hard.

anyway, like I said, elucidating the point only works if you have an open mind. I guess yours isn't.

cheers.


> do most people understand the racist connotations of the term, "illegals"? yeah, most do

That's called "circular arfument" - you proclaim that this term is racist and prove it by proclaiming - without any evidence - that "most people" (who?) "understand" that it is racist. What you do is just repeating your original - baseless - claim.

> do you? I honestly don't care

So, being unable to prove your point, or somehow substantiate the claim that calling acts that are agains the law "illegal" is somehow "racist" (tbh, you shouldn't blame yourself too hard for the failure - it's very hard to prove something this idiotic, but you definitely should blame yourself for proclaiming it in the first place, as you should know better) - you resort to denigrating me personally and feigning indifference to my opinion (after all the discussion) because you are so much smarter than me (and the way these smarts are revealed is by mindlessly repeating a slogan which you are unable to substantiate).

> are there other, non racially charged ways to describe someone's immigration status?

Yes, here's one: if someone immigrated legally, she's a legal immigrant. If someone immigrated illegally, she's an illegal immigrant. Nothing to do with race. See how easy it was? Of course, if you tend to reflexively call whoever disagrees with you "racist", it may become harder. But that's exactly the reason to get rid of that foolish tic.


> That's called "circular arfument" (lol, sic) - you proclaim that this term is racist and prove it by proclaiming - without any evidence - that "most people" (who?) "understand" that it is racist. What you do is just repeating your original - baseless - claim.

first, it's whom, not who.

second, i didn't claim that it's racist because people know that it's racist.

learn from google, learn from teen vogue.

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-you-shouldnt-use-the-ter...

you bring nothing novel or new or clever to this conversation.

bye, dude. you're intellectually dishonest. even worse, you're boring.


> first, it's whom, not who.

That's the best you can do? "Dude".

> learn from teen vogue

Oh my.


No person is illegal.

I think it's fairly clear the commenter meant that they're "illegal immigrants," which approriately describes people that immigrated illegally. While the abbreviated colloquial form may not be strictly accurate on its own, it's quite reasonable to assume the full form given the context.

The words you use have an effect on how others feel and how they're perceived. The word "illegals" can have negative connotations, and it's a dehumanizing word.

The word has negative connotations because you're describing a very negative thing. If you suddenly decide to use a new word, it will also inevitably develop negative connotations.

Stephen Pinker explains it well:

https://stevenpinker.com/files/pinker/files/1994_04_03_newyo...


Thanks for mentioning this, it was definitely worth a read. For a rather more legible version for anyone else interested: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1994-04-06-19940962...

It has negative connotations because it describes the act that is against the law. That's literally what "illegal" means. If you think it's OK to violate the law, then the connotations would be positive, if you do not, then the negative connotations are appropriate. You can't have it both ways.

It's not due to the definition, it's because of how the word has been used. There are terms which refer to undocumented immigrants which still represent their status, but are not dehumanizing.

If a person breaks the law, it is completely correct to say they broke the law. Going out of one's way to hide that fact because stating the facts is somehow "dehumanizing" is a political propaganda exercise, which tries to present (some) laws as something insignificant and barely worth mentioning, and people that consider following these laws important as somehow irrational, and more than once in this very topic - irrational, hateful and racist. I can see why you want to go through this political exercise, but I have absolutely no reason to follow you.

In the United States, literally everyone breaks the law. Calling someone “illegal” as if their identity is defined by something done by literally every single member of society is just a thin veil over the wish to dehumanize the vast and terrifying Other.

By your logic, you are also “an illegal”, because you, too, have broken the law. Everyone is.

But you don’t use it this way. You use it exclusively to define foreigners as bad, as if the law’s opinion about a person’s actions is relevant to their identity.

Actions are illegal. People are not.


These supposed "undocumented immigrants" are not generally undocumented. Nearly all of them have documents. Of course, those documents might use your social security number.

This being the case, the situation is generally one of fraud. Some states consider all cases of identity theft to be felonies, while other states can charge the crime either way.


It's usually considered better to refer to people by adjectives rather than noun forms. It just sounds politer to imply that it's an aspect of them rather than what they are. It's a minor thing in American speech, I think.

Colloquialism

[flagged]


A dog whistle for...people who dislike illegal immigration?

I can’t hear dog whistles tho..

When people claim innocuous statements are really dog whistles, I find that usually indicates more about the claimant's beliefs than the original speaker's.

It's obviously the small noisy minority. Most people don't have any expectation that their employer should have anything like a coherent moral vision; they just want to do their job, get their paycheck, and go home.

Even names on a petition don't mean much - the kind of people that like to solicit for signatures on petitions are often so insufferable that you sign to make them go away and leave you in peace.


About a quarter of the company has signed the protest letter. I signed the letter just so people would stop nagging me to sign. I don’t care about ICE. I suspect there are others who got pressured into signing.

That’s amazing to me. It seems to me like creating a hostile work environment and a form of harassment, although political rallying is not a protected category, and the employer is likely hamstrung in making any sort of response.

[flagged]


You expect HN to investigate the truth of individual comments?

I expect them not to delete rebuttals to outright lies

You created this account to post personal attacks like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21415586. That's obviously a bannable offence on HN, so we've banned the account.

If you're seeing abuse on HN you should take that up with us at hn@ycombinator.com, not come to the threads to violate the site guidelines. If your concern is the truth, there are better ways to defend it that don't violate the guidelines. If you want to smite enemies, that's not what this site is for.


I wonder about that, too - how far will the rabble-rousers go, if they can get away with it? Will they insist on the firing of the people who _didn’t_ sign the petition? Will they blacklist people who have ever worked with ICE in the future? Will this spread beyond github? Will we have an unelected, unaccountable group of “the woke” dictating the terms of our employment?


"I was just doing my job" is not an excuse. It is absolutely not only our right to decide how our work is used in the world, but our duty to make sure we're not enabling human rights violations. I applaud and support tech workers making ethical calls around their work. Unfortunately we may need to put our money where our mouths are and leave employers that refuse to stand by any ethical code, and that's already happening all across the tech industry.

Do we know that Github is being used to enable human rights violations, and that their use of Github for potentially negative actions outweighs potentially beneficial actions, given that ICE has a wide variety of responsibilities beyond immigration enforcement?

For example, it seems reasonable to guess that they might be using their Github deployment to help run the National Child Victim Identification System:

The National Child Victim Identification System (NCVIS), owned by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is an application that assists federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies, INTERPOL, and other supporting organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) (hereafter, authorized partners) in the investigation and prosecution of child exploitation crimes, specifically those involving images of child sexual exploitation.

https://www.dhs.gov/publication/dhsicepia-010-national-child...


But how is Github's product enabling human rights violations? I can understand if Github employees were protesting a product that created human rights violations (for example if Github offered a security service for ICE detention centers that was abusing prisoners). Would you be ok if Github was a restaurant and it had a policy of not serving anyone who is an ICE employee?
dunstad 11 days ago [flagged]

Yeah, I would love that actually. ICE runs concentration camps. Not enough people treat them how they deserve.
wil421 11 days ago [flagged]

Can you point to some sources so I can understand how they are concentration camps? I’ve been to Dachau and nothing on the news shows anything like what I saw there.
dunstad 11 days ago [flagged]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_concentration_and_inte...

From the article:

> In 2019, many experts, including Andrea Pitzer, the author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, have acknowledged the designation of the detention centers as "concentration camps" [227] [228] particularly given that the centers, previously cited by Texas officials for more than 150 health violations [229] and reported deaths in custody,[230] reflect a record typical of the history of deliberate substandard healthcare and nutrition in concentration camps.[231] Though some organizations have tried to resist the "concentration camp" label for these facilities, [232] [233] hundreds of Holocaust and genocide scholars rejected this resistance via an open letter addressed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. [234]

wil421 11 days ago [flagged]

41,000 deaths in Dachau.[1]

15 deaths in ICE detention centers.[2] If you add 2017 it would be about 25.[3]

I have family who immigrated to the US last year with their children. We have the largest immigrant population and we want people to come here.[4]

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp

[2]https://www.ice.gov/death-detainee-report#wcm-survey-target-...

[3] https://www.cato.org/blog/annual-death-rate-immigration-dete...

[4] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/which-countries-have-...


There always seems to be a conflation of concentration camps with Nazi death camps in these discussions. ICE running concentration camps (a facility for holding "people, commonly in large groups, without charges") seems wholly unremarkable.

[flagged]


Isn't that a lower mortality rate than that of young American adults outside of ICE detention?

Judging by the definition of "internment" linked from that wiki page....Japan runs "concentration camps", as it regularly imprisons people without charges and without trial for up to 23 days, under harsh conditions.

Seems like a pretty low bar for defining the term, and obscures the pretty real distinctions in overall human suffering that occur at different places.


Ok so would you ok with a restaurant not serving republicans because the party currently supports ICE's actions?

A bit of Slippery Slope combined with Strawman fallacy here.

I just wanted to see if dunstad would support such a ban. And they did, as you can see by their agreement. This shows how real that slippery slope is for many people...

It's some great irony that two minutes before you posted this, a man of straw himself appeared and agreed with the statement.

I don't think you can call something a strawman if the idea seems to actually have wide support.


Hello, I'm a real boy! I happen to support both of these positions, but it is indeed possible to condemn ICE without feeling the same about the GOP in general, and jumping immediately from one to the next is exactly the kind of thing people mean when they talk about moving the goalposts.

Political alignment isn't a protected class.

You are right - I always forget that political affiliation is not a protected class within our legal system. However, I think it should be, because we've seen the whole ugly side of persecution and discrimination that came about during the McCarthy era and beyond where people like MLK, Chaplin, WEB Du Bois, and Linus Pauling were targeted for their political beliefs.

Topics like this, I think, give us an opportunity to go deeper on the issues and concepts surrounding what's going on.

I realize that the common quick answer these days is to harshly reject people and organizations we deeply disagree with.

But, there may be some things worth pondering, like...

Is there a way technology companies can influence these organizations and the situations of the people they touch for the better? For example, ICE is going to do what's it's going to do whether or not GitHub has a contract with them. Is there a way that technologies from companies can help ICE and organizations like it treat the people they deal with better? Does that make a difference?

I'm not suggesting an opinion on this particular case. Just offering this up as an opportunity to go deeper than we tend to these days.


> Is there a way that technologies from companies can help ICE and organizations like it treat the people they deal with better?

One thing GitHub could have done, if it was serious about its "but ICE also stops human trafficking and terrorists" narrative, is insisted on selling them professional services / consulting work (perhaps at a discount - they'd already decided to donate more than the revenue of the contract, so working for ICE out of the goodness of their hearts is definitely not out of the question) which let them understand what teams and projects at ICE are using their work and how. But in their letter to employees, they listed it as a positive that they weren't doing this, they just gave ICE the product and told them to have fun. https://github.blog/2019-10-09-github-and-us-government-deve...

"GitHub does not have a professional services agreement with ICE, and GitHub is not consulting with ICE on any of their projects or initiatives. GitHub has no visibility into how this software is being used, other than presumably for software development and version control."

I think if you believed you could make some change for the better working within the system, the way to start is by, first, deciding what your principles are and what your approach is when your customer wants to be at odds with that (refuse to support projects you disagree with? try to change hearts and minds? etc.) in a codified way and getting agreement within the company on it, and second, insisting on a close enough consulting relationship where you can enforce that. (I also suspect that unless you have an uncommonly good product, most customers won't be a fan and will just buy from someone else.)

Also GitHub, being a platform and not a direct tool for work, isn't really in a great position to influence ICE's work. "You can check in the code you use to track terrorists, but not the code you use to track DACA recipients" isn't particularly technically meaningful.


>Is there a way technology companies can influence these organizations and the situations of the people they touch for the better?

What? With the ethical compass those surveillance system running, addiction-pushing assholes have? We should be talking about how to dial down their power in society.

If they want to repent for their lack of self control in their own actions by pushing their moral standards onto others, then they can go get fucked.


Has this ever worked?

People will come up with all sorts of reasons to convince themselves to take blood money, but surely they're self delusions at best.


Arguing that “they’ll do it anyway” is why IBM supported the holocaust, why companies like NSO sell to to human rights rights abusers, etc.

The argument basically boils down to supporting literally anything. If enough people start saying “no, we won’t support that”, it pushes up the price of the behaviour, and could eventually lead to the entire industry dropping support - for example when all the pharmaceutical companies decide to stop allowing their drugs to be used for executions.


I think that a lot of people see a rise and mainstreaming of White Nationalism and want to push back.

That is surely in the mix. To me, its about human decency. I support immigration, but even if you do not support immigration you should support human decency. Making people sleep in cages on concrete, limiting supplies, limiting legal assistance, separating families - those are horrible ways to treat other humans, other humans simply seeking a better life.

We are largely a nation of immigrants. We've lost sight of our roots. Its proper to stand up against this inhumane and unnecessary behavior. The government is experiencing social consequences of its own making.


I think the problem is an attribution of intent. You see "white nationalism" but:

> Making people sleep in cages

There was a spike in the number of illegal immigrants in the last few years, facilities were swamped. This was an unfortunate but temporary measure. It would be more irresponsible to just release people into the country without establishing their identity, criminal history, or a suitable guardian (for children).

> Limiting supplies / legal assistance

There are a finite resources, especially when one party sees every penny spent on immigration matters as "racist". Politicians were sounding the alarms months before this reached crisis-levels, but the other side refused to release a single penny until after it reached critical levels.

> Separating families

When an adult and a child arrive illegally with no documents you have two major facts to deal with: the adult has just broken a law, and you cannot establish familial ties. Given the extent of child trafficking, would you rather just give any adult that says "that's my child" custody, or would you rather separate the child from the adult until you can establish if that is actually a parent? You are damned either way because your critics will say you're "separating families" or "you're a pedophile helping traffic children". Personally, I would rather be told I'm splitting families than enabling child trafficking, but I could see the argument against that preference.

So at the end of the day none of these things are happening because of white nationalism. They are happening because of an inability to control illegal immigration rates, a lack of funding for facilities, materials, and legal aid; and in order to protect minors who may be trafficked.

To me, that is the real problem. One side of the media/political spectrum has decided it's white nationalism. The other sees it as something that has to be done because the alternative is worst. And to be charitable, I am sure there is a tiny fraction of a percent of a segment of the population and people involved who are white nationalists, but to think that's the motivating force is to dismiss the vast majority of people who have good intentions.

What is also exponentially annoying is that both sides have become so polarized that they will never work together on this.


How weird that you didn't mention asylum in this entire post, not even once. You keep talking about "illegal immigrants" and "breaking the law", completely ignoring the fact that claiming asylum is legal.

Many of these people who were being caged are people who claimed asylum at the border points of entry; they were not illegal immigrants, nor did they try to sneak in. The correct thing to do in this situation of not having enough room would be to release them into the country pending their asylum hearing, rather than locking them up in substandard, inhumane, occasionally deadly accommodations.


About 20-30,000 people are granted asylum each year, versus about 60,000-100,000 people a month apprehended at the southern border by CBP. The vast majority of “inadmissibles” are not qualified refuges.

> The asylum seeker must prove to the officer that there is a “significant possibility” he or she is eligible for asylum, and must also be subject to a credibility assessment. If the officer makes a positive finding, the asylum seeker is referred to an immigration court where they will have the opportunity to apply for asylum before an immigration judge. If the individual does not meet the credible fear screening standard, he or she can be deported.

That process ideally happens in a few days, but a system to designed to handle 5,000 people a month getting 100,000 requests a month is going to take longer. In the meantime, those applicants cannot simply be released into the interior.

The onus is on Congress to appropriate the necessary funding to allow for expedited and humane treatment and proper facilities for processing the number of people who are crossing. As long as Congress refuses to provide the funds, the agencies are left to enforce the nations immigration laws without the proper resources, staffing, or even possibly basic sanitation, bedding, clothes, etc.


>> Making people sleep in cages

> There was a spike in the number of illegal immigrants in the last few years, facilities were swamped. This was an unfortunate but temporary measure.

It is still going on. It is not okay.

> It would be more irresponsible to just release people into the country without establishing their identity, criminal history, or a suitable guardian (for children).

They are not keeping people until they "established their identity". There is not a process where they keep people asking for asylum locked up only until they establish their identity and no longer, that's just not how it works.

These are weird excuses for taking people fleeing danger imprisoning them in truly abominable conditions, for the sin of asking for asylum.

"These things" are happening because the government intentionally decided to treat people asking for asylum _as bad as they could_, in order to discourage people from doing it, and look good to those who just want to treat them bad. This is all well-documented. It was not some kind of forced hand, the level of asylum seekers and other migrants was not substantially different from the past couple decades. Whether it was because of "white nationalism" I suppose depends on what was in the hearts and minds of the decision-makers, but it's pretty darn clear they consciously decided to treat migrants like animals (worse than you are allowed to treat pets really) and it is disgusting, and it is TERRIFYING to me that so many Americans like you think it's okay, because if it's okay to treat anyone like that, why couldn't any of us be next?

We are setting a terrible precedent on the international stage for how people fleeing danger are treated. That's a lot of false confidence that nobody we know will ever be in that situation. More and more of us will be though.


>>>the level of asylum seekers and other migrants was not substantially different from the past couple decades.

What's your source for this? This site[1] indicates otherwise (even the 10-year chart shows a huge growth in applications). And this article[2] states 800,000 people detained so far this year. I'm sure ICE and CBP's infrastructure and processes were never meant to handle populations of this size. Also, note that in [2] many of these people are asylum shopping.

>>>We are setting a terrible precedent on the international stage for how people fleeing danger are treated.

The precedent has already been set: impoverished people the world over know that if they are willing to accept some risk, they can lie their way into the US and get free stuff. People are kidnapping kids so they can pretend they are family. Migrants from central Africa have NGOs providing them with French-language documents on not cooperating with ICE or the US government. These people are buying plane tickets to Brazil, then taking buses ALLLLLL the way up Central America (lots of places to stop and apply for asylum there) so they can illegally cross the border into the US. Who is paying the salaries for these NGOs? And WHY? Those are the hard questions that aren't being asked. The narrative is one that appeals to empathy in order to obscure deeper issues.

Look at this article[4]. It tries to paint a picture that the rights of African migrants are somehow being infringed upon because Mexico is not enabling them to move onward to the US. But this is specifically discouraged once you are out of your country of origin and no longer in immediate danger.[5] So again, ask yourself, why is this narrative being pushed? And why now?

[1]https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/asylum-applicatio...

[2]https://www.voanews.com/usa/immigration/us-bound-migrants-as...

[3]https://youtu.be/mJlOmMj21uM

[4]https://prospect.org/power/african-asylum-seekers-u.s.-stuck...

[5]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugee#Restriction_of_onward_...


I didn't actually use the words 'white nationalism' and tried to make a different point about decency without blaming any one group other than maybe those that oppose immigration. There are other options besides putting people in cages, we could make it easier and much quicker to accept them legally for example. To me, its not so much about white people, its about how we choose to handle immigration. Current immigration rates are far from unprecedented, https://www.history.com/news/immigrants-ellis-island-short-p....

We could choose to do things differently and treat people with the dignity and respect that we all deserve as humans. No matter the color of our skin.


  Making people sleep in cages on concrete
That was during the Obama Administration, yet those in outrage over ICE now were utterly silent then. Why is that?

There has been an increase both in public awareness and degree under this administration. Ironically, it seems to me that that is partially due to the words of the administration. The previous administration had a tendency to talk a good game about immigration but then in practice implemented some policies that should have been unacceptable. But whereas the previous administration was able to cultivate and air of "We don't want to do it this way, but we're not seeing any practical alternatives," The current administration has been far too cozy with anti-hispanic nationalism and cannot maintain that fig-leaf of "good people acting under a bad situation" in the public consciousness.

Rhetoric matters, and planting the concept in the public discourse that they see undocumented immigrants as rapists and murderers has done this administration no favors.


Because if you haven't noticed, there is a general sense among the younger generations that the many, many ills of yesteryear are actually bad, not just "business as usual" and instead of tolerating them we should start to fight back.

The people who are carrying the torch of this mentality were teenagers and twenty-something during the Obama administration. Now they are all grown ups.

The better question is, why were Boomers so willing to go along with these policies (and far worse) for decade after decade?


Oh BS. It’s clearly apparent over the last few election cycles that if your side does something, “it’s unfortunate, but we’re trying to fix it” and if the other side does something “they are horrible people who are monsters”.

It comes down to nothing more than scoring political points.


I'm curious what side you perceive standardUser to be on. They are making the case that this wasn't acceptable under the Obama administration either to younger generations, but they lacked the political power and voice to do anything about it. Voice and political power that they are now finding as they age into voting enfranchisement and build political action blocs.

Gitmo’s a great example. Under Bush it was immoral. Under Obama? Barely heard a thing.

Sure standardUser might have thought it immoral all along, but did he attack both parties (when in power) with the same zeal?


> Gitmo’s a great example. Under Bush it was immoral. Under Obama? Barely heard a thing.

Your history is off. Obama tried to shut it down until it was overturned by Congress.

As soon as the political reality of transferring the prisoners became apparent, all Congressmen blocked the closure of Gitmo. No one wanted to take the prisoners into their own state. No one wanted to be the Senator or Representative to say "I accepted 100 Al-Qaeda detainees into our local prisons! And now our local judges have to put into public trial under our protection, with jury members selected from our State / Cities"

So on the one hand, we had President Bush literally open Gitmo. In the other hand, we have President Obama who tried to close it... but failed because of other more powerful political forces. And yet, you draw a false equivalence between the two.

EDIT: This hits a political pet peeve of mine. False equivalence and whataboutisms. Instead of seeing the differences, a political group deploys propaganda to get their side to believe that there's a false-equivalence on an issue.

And now that you're aware of false-equivalences, I hope that moving forward you'll be better equipped to avoid them in the future. Its an exceptionally powerful propaganda technique. In general, if a group is desperately deploying propaganda to make you believe that two things are equivalent... they probably aren't equivalent.


Of course! Obama tried as hard as he could to close it, but darn that other party wouldn’t let him. Obviously he’s off the hook.

Your sarcasm is noted, but I don't believe it is in the spirit of this forum to talk in that manner. Its much better to leave the sarcasm in Reddit.

If you do not wish to discuss a matter seriously, then there's no real point in discussing it at all. This website mostly aims at a higher level of discussion than other websites.


  Obama tried to shut it down 
It originated under Obama, and his party controlled Congress at the time.

"On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp" [0]

[0] - https://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/senate-overwhelmingly...


Bush started Guantanamo as an extrajudicial prison and stocked it full of prisoners. Obama managed to release many of those prisoners and tried (and failed) to shut it down.

Obama got plenty of criticism from the left for things like drone strikes, extrajudicial killings, deportations, the intervention in Libya, the weakness of Obamacare and TPP to name a few. Most of this was during his second term (when that massive group of people I keep mentioning started becoming politically active).


> Gitmo’s a great example. Under Bush it was immoral. Under Obama? Barely heard a thing.

Anecdotes are just that. Just because you weren't paying attention to it doesn't mean it didn't happen.]

Left wing media I paid attention to definitely did not drop the issue of Guantanamo during that time. Just google some common sites - MotherJones, commondreams, Obama, and Guantanamo and you will see the criticism did not disappear for Obama not forcing the issue to an unwilling Congress.


I think it's a mistake to look at "the last few election cycles".

The people making all of this noise were children during that time. Just about everything has changed in the last 5 or so years, and a lot of that change appears to be driven by the historically massive and historically diverse Millennial generation.


We love to think we live in unique times, but we don’t.

Politics hasn’t really changed in the US in the last 100 years.


That's absurd. Politics changes all the time, we just happen to be in a more tumultuous moment than in the last 3 or 4 decades. Nothing spectacularly unique, but different enough across countless metrics to warrant a fresh look at the very least. The trends and patterns we relied on for many decades just don't stand up any longer.

> many, many ills of yesteryear are actually bad, not just "business as usual" and instead of tolerating them we should start to fight back

And somehow that moment of clarity by pure coincidence happened on January 20, 2017? Sorry, not buying that particular bridge.

> The people who are carrying the torch of this mentality were teenagers and twenty-something during the Obama administration.

Literally the same people in the press who promoted the "people in cages" thing were working at the same placed during Obama admin and virtually none of them said anything. There were some very small number that did, but the overwhelming majority said nothing and certainly there was no widespread public outrage about it and no employees told their employers they wouldn't work for any contract with Obama administration because it puts people in cages. No, not buying this bridge either - it was several years ago, it's not decades. They were the same grown ups then as they are now. Only back then their tribe was in power, so outrage wouldn't be appropriate.


Then trump comes along and says publicly and gets elected by stoking people up over what is already happening under the force of law.

It's just like JFK, how the media looked the other way at his affairs.


those in outrage over ICE now were utterly silent then

Not true. You just weren't listening.


Illegal immigrants aren't coming here and enjoying the full perks of America. They are coming here and being exploited by employers who know their status and dangle it over their head.

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White Nationalism is an entirely different thing than nationalism.

But both are objectionable.


Please explain what you believe White Nationalism is.

White Nationalism (in the US) is a political movement that asserts that the US should be a nation run by and for Caucasians.

There are people of other ethnicities that are part of the White Nationalist movement.


I've never heard of that organization. Do they have a web site?

I wasn't talking about an organization, I was talking about a movement. There are numerous different organizations of various sizes, as well as individuals, who are part of the movement.

None of this is new -- white nationalism has a long and well-documented history. As with all political movements, the exact moment it started is a little fuzzy. Some place it as far back as 1916 with the KKK, but I think that most people place the modern form of it as starting in 1974 with the National Alliance.


What point are you trying to get at? There are plenty of ideologies and political ideas that aren't represented by a singular organization advocating for them.

There isn't a point he is trying to get at, because he isn't arguing in good faith.

I'm having a hard time understanding if you were downvoted for correctly pointing out that "nationalism" and "white nationalism" are two very different things, or because you described both as objectionable.

I wondered the same thing. I suspect it's that I said I considered plain old nationalism objectionable. That term can have very different connotations to different people.

It will be said that you have internalized notions of white supremacy, or that you are performing "whiteness".

I wish I were joking, but these are real arguments that people make.


I think it's not restricted to White Nationalism. We see a lot of pushback against Hong Kong nationalism and Catalonian nationalism and Uyghur nationalism and Kurdish nationalism recently.

It's as if the forces of good suddenly decided that any nationalism is unacceptable in 2019.


[flagged]


Hong Kong nationalism is not pro-democracy. The Chinese Government supports holding elections for local government officials, including in Hong Kong. Given that, the anti-Chinese attitudes we're seeing there are quite unproductive.

Elections? There hasn't been a democratic election in China since 1912.

Hong Kong is part of China. Under the "One Country Two Systems" model, it has more 'experimental' and 'innovative' policies than the rest of the country (such as choosing their local government officials via democratic elections). But then again so does Shenzhen in other ways.

Hong Kong has never had democratic elections. It has elections but they are non-democratic, as the “functional consistencies” system rigs them in one side’s favor.

“One country, two systems” refers to Hong Kong’s separate economic and legal system, not to democracy.


"Rigs" is quite overstated. The system is quite transparent, and other countries have similar systems and yet we do not call them undemocratic. Such as the U.S., with the electoral college for presidential elections.

The imbalances induced by the electoral college are orders of magnitude smaller than those of the functional constituency system.

Thank being said, I think the electoral college should go, too.


Replying to myself as I can no longer edit: “consistencies” was a typo (or maybe a think-o) for “constituencies”

Democracy as supported and implemented by the PRC is a sick joke.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, commonly known in mainland China as the June Fourth Incident (Chinese: 六四事件, liùsì shìjiàn), were student-led demonstrations in Beijing (the capital of the People's Republic of China) for the establishment of basic human and press rights and against the Communist-led Chinese government in mid-1989. More broadly, it refers to the popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests during that period, sometimes called the '89 Democracy Movement (Chinese: 八九民运, bājiǔ mínyùn). The protests were forcibly suppressed after Chinese Premier Li Peng declared martial law. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators trying to block the military's advance towards Tiananmen Square. The number of civilian deaths was internally estimated by the Chinese government to be near or above 10,000.

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