Category Archives: Immigration

I Remember Stonewall

The day they drove old Dixie down. Removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue on Richmond’s Monument Ave. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Peter Galuszka

Confederate statues are finally coming down in Richmond and other Virginia cities, including one of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. There have been outcries by sentimental mythologists and apologists on this blog and elsewhere about how “mob rule” is forcing issues and so on.

Since some bloggers here have come up with their version of positive biographies about some of the figures, notably Matthew Fontaine Maury, an early oceanographer and Confederate Naval officer, I thought I’d weigh in on my own personal experience with Stonewall.

Jackson was born on Jan. 24 1824 in what was then Clarksburg, Va., and grew up about 20 miles south in Jackson’s Mill near Weston Va. Then in 1863, irritated about Richmond’s racial policies and economic favoritism, residents seceded and created West Virginia which supported the North in the Civil War.

By coincidence, I moved to the Clarksburg area in 1962 from the D.C. area when I was nine years old and resided there until 1969.

It wasn’t exactly the “Southern” experience others seem to recall. For one thing, the homeland of “Stonewall” did not have many slaves or African-Americans. The area of Harrison County, however, held fairly mixed views about slavery and allegiance. While Jackson, a West Point graduate went with the South, his sister was loyal to the North. (For more details about Jackson’s life, read James L. Robertson Jr.’s excellent 1997 biography.) Continue reading

Libertarians Need Not Apply

By Peter Galuszka

The Virginia Republican Party had a big shock Saturday.

Far-right candidate Bob Good snatched the party’s nomination in the fifth congressional district from incumbent Denver Riggleman, who was backed by President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University.

The remarkable twist could presage an arch-conservative backlash against Trump’s populism in the run up to elections this November.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato tweeted early Sunday morning that “the Virginia GOP has gone so far to the right that a congressman backed by (Trump and Falwell) isn’t conservative enough to renominate.”

The 5th District includes the cities of Lynchburg and Charlottesville and covers broad swaths of highly socially conservative rural areas. Riggleman’s problem was that he had Libertarian tendencies and had officiated at a gay wedding. Continue reading

“Systemic Racism?” Damned Right!

By Peter Galuszka

There has been much debate on this blog regarding whether there is “systemic racism” in Virginia and the rest of the country.

It’s a crucial question in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African American who was killed on video by a white Minneapolis police officer two weeks ago. The killing sparked nationwide demonstrations, some rioting and a big rethink of race relations.

Regarding is “system racism,” my answer in a resounding “yes” although I agree there has been significant progress in race relations since the since the 1960s.

A few examples:

  • Virginia was the embarkation point for American’s first slaves.
  • Slavery was a key social, economic and political institution for several hundred years.
  • The Civil War was fought over slavery. Most battles were in Virginia.
  • The state embraced Jim Crow laws and kept them for years. These made it crimes for people of different races to go to school together, go on public transit together, sit together in restaurants, get married and so on.
  • There were plenty of lynchings in Virginia. Many went unpunished.

Continue reading

The Real Danger with ANTIFA

By Peter Galuszka

Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..

But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.

First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”

That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading

WTJU Podcast: COVID-19 and the Economy

By Peter Galuszka

Here’s is the twice-monthly podcast produced by WTJU, the official radio station of the University of Virginia. With me on this podcast  are Nathan Moore, the station general manager, and Sarah Vogelsong, who covers, labor, energy and environmental issues across the state for the Virginia Mercury, a fairly new and highly regarded non-profit news outlet. Our topic is how Virginia is handling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Northam Is Such An Important Governor

By Peter Galuszka

This is a bit like throwing chum at a school of sharks, but here is my latest in Style Weekly.

I wrote an assessment of Gov. Ralph Northam that is overall, quite positive. My take goes against much of the sentiment of other contributors on this blog.

They are entitled to their views but, to be honest, I find some of the essays shrill and not really fact based. If Northam wants to delay elective surgeries at hospitals for a week or so, some want to empanel a grand jury.

An acute care health facility in Henrico County becomes one of the most notorious hot spots for coronavirus deaths and it is immediately Northam’s fault even though the care center has had serious problems that long predated the governor’s term in office.

He’s a trained physician who served as an Army doctor in combat during the Iraq War yet he is vilified as being incompetent and incapable of understanding the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s like the constant repetition of the “Sins of Hillary” on Breitbart and Fox News about emails and Benghazi.

Like him or not, Northam is bound to be one of the most consequential governors in Virginia history given the gigantic problem of the pandemic. He’s not a showboat salesman like Terry McAuliffe nor a smarmy, small-time crook like Robert F. McDonnell.

Anyway, here’s the piece.

And Now For Something Completely Different

By Peter Galuszka

Dear Baconauts,

As you know, people like me have been described by a B.R.  commenter as those who submit “scorch and burn, mock and smear writings encased in scornful, supercilious, opinionated, and shallow rhetoric.”

I freely admit this and am damned proud of it.

But instead of dishing out the usual sarcastic bile, I have another idea today. I don’t know about you, but with me self-quaranting as much as possible, I am running out of things to read or watch. I still have for-pay work but who knows how much that might last? So, why don’t we exchange ideas of new stuff to occupy our minds with. Here’s a list of recommended movies, TV series and books:

  • On Netflix, I am a huge fan of the German TV series “Bablyon Berlin,” which imagines a very dark, brooding German capital after the Great War and before Hitler. The chief characters are Georeon Rath, a shattered war veteran and police detective who gets into the seamy side of life. His heart throb is Charlotte Ritter, an office worker and part-time prostitute. The series has everything, shady characters, mysterious train shipments from the Soviet Union, fascists, communists, early porn studios. The acting, story line and photography are excellent. It’s like a grown up version of “Cabaret.”

Continue reading

Racism and COVID-19 in Virginia

By Peter Galuszka

“The Chinese Virus?” “Kung Flu?” Wuflu?”

These are some pejorative and racist names being bandied about for what is technically known as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. The disease associated with the virus is COVID-19.

These distinctions are part of a column written by the Virginia Asian Advisory Board in today’s Virginia Mercury. They write: “In an already anti-immigrant environment, Asians, particularly Chinese, are reportedly facing increasing acts of racism.”

They report that businesses with Asian-sounding names are being shunned, Uber and Lyft drivers are not giving rides of people based on their names and the social media is filled with stories critical of Asians, which is nuts because Asia is even more diverse than Europe.

Donald Trump, our Incompetent in Chief, is leading the charge for demeaning Asians by insisting on calling the virus the “Chinese Flu.”

During the 2016 campaign, he constantly put down Mexicans and other Latinos. That summer I was taken aback when I was at my neighborhood swimming pool. A group of what looked like eighth-grade boys was splashing around shouting “Mexico sucks!” I stopped them and asked them why they were saying that. They said, “That’s what Donald Trump says.” Continue reading

Virginia on the Road to Anarchy

Steve Descano

by James A. Bacon

Enforcement of the laws of Virginia may become optional in Fairfax and Arlington Counties when newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorneys — Steve Descano in Fairfax and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in Arlington — take office. Both have promised to stop prosecuting marijuana possession, reports the Washington Post.

Descano and Dehghani-Tafti said pot possession prosecutions do little to protect public safety, disproportionately fall on people of color, saddle defendants with damaging convictions and can be better spent on more serious crimes. …

Descano said the policy brings Fairfax County’s values into the courthouse. “I traveled around Fairfax County for over a year listening to people,” Descano said. “The thing that came up time and time again was simple possession of marijuana — how it was a waste of resources and led to unjust outcomes.”

The arguments against prosecuting pot possession are not unreasonable. Indeed, Governor Ralph Northam has proposed decriminalizing the offense. What’s disturbing is that the two prosecutors aren’t willing to wait for the General Assembly to enact a law this session, which would go into effect in July. They feel compelled to take legislative matters into their own hands and nullify the state law now in effect.

First sanctuary cities. Then second amendment sanctuaries. Now pot possession. The conviction is spreading across Virginia like a mutant flu virus that local officials are free to ignore laws they don’t like.  Continue reading

Mo’ Money for Schools Across the Board?


The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) has published its annual report on Virginia public schools. The report catalogs numerous deficiencies in the state school system, with an emphasis on unequal educational outcomes. And it recommends mo’ money across the board — mo’ money for teacher pay, mo’ money for mo’ teachers and staff, mo’ money for poor schools. You know the drill.

The report contains an informative graphic (replicated above) that shows the changing demographics of Virginia’s school population. The percentage of white students has declined over the past decade. Whites no longer comprise a majority in Virginia’s school population. The percentage of black students has declined as well. But the percentage of Asian and Hispanic students has soared.

The number of English learners has increased from 87,000 students a decade ago to 107,000 students in 2018-19. As it happens, according to the VBOE’s searchable Standards of Learning database, only 34.7% of English as Second Language (ESL) students passed their reading SOLs last year, compared to 80.9% for other students. The disparity for writing was even more dismal.

The Commonwealth can increase educational spending across the board — more money for everybody and everything — or it can focus added spending on where the investment returns are the greatest. The greatest inequality in Virginia schools is between those who speak English as a native language and those who don’t. If we want to reduce educational disparities, we’ll get the most bang for the buck by focusing resources on teaching immigrant kids how to read and write English. Once these students understand what’s being said in class, progress in other subjects will follow. Just a thought…

— JAB

Does the Left Have an Understandable Position on Immigration and How Much Does It Matter?

by Don Rippert

Debate: The debate on immigration in America continues to rage. People who hold right-of-center political beliefs seem to think that the U.S. immigration laws should be vigorously enforced. There may be some “wiggle room” on the right. For example, some conservatives believe there should be exceptions to deportation for those illegally in the United States so long as they have been here a fairly long time, paid taxes, stayed out of legal trouble, etc. Without commenting on the reasonableness of the conservative position, it is understandable.

The position held by Americans with left-of-center political beliefs is hard to fathom. While few liberals will openly say they are in favor of “open borders” the sum total of their beliefs seems to indicate that “open borders” is exactly what they seek.

This issue is important for Virginia because some areas of Virginia have very low numbers of foreign born residents, while other areas have very high numbers of foreign-born residents. For example, the 2010 Census found that 12.9% of people living in America were foreign born. Virginia had 11.4% of its residents recorded as being foreign born. However, Arlington County (Virginia’s 6th most populous county) had a foreign born percentage of 28% in 2000. Social services are affected by immigration. The cost of teaching English as a second language in public schools is directly impacted by the percentage of residents born in foreign (non English speaking) countries.

Author’s apology in advance – this is a long post. By far the longest I have ever published. However, this is a complex topic with both liberals and conservatives more than willing to misrepresent the data. I saw no way to properly handle the topic with brevity.

Continue reading

Can You Say, “Virtue Signaling”?

Sharon Bulova

Top Democratic elected officials in Northern Virginia oppose the Trump administration’s practice on the Mexican border of separating children from their families and placing them in crowded and squalid holding facilities, reports the Washington Post. “Fairfax County wants no part of this heartless practice,” said Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova in a letter sent Monday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Therefore, Bulova and other like-minded Dems oppose plans to open a shelter for unaccompanied minors in the region.

Huh?

The “Virginia Residential Child Care Facility” would be equipped with classrooms, sleeping areas and two acres of outdoor recreation space. According to the Washington Post, the facility is meant to house youths close to where they may have relatives already living and to ease crowded conditions in U.S. Border Patrol processing facilities. Continue reading

Housing Humans For Profit Draws Protests

More than 70 people strong, a small caravan made its way through the quiet streets of Farmville July 27 to protest a private jail for undocumented immigrants being prepared for deportation.

“We were offering prayers for the detainees. We have lost our moral compass,” said Elena Ceberio, a protestor and member of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church of Raleigh, N.C. Its pastor, Rev Dr Nancy Petty, led the protest.

The target was the Farmville Detention Center, a facility owned by Immigration Centers of America, a Richmond-based firm formed a decade ago to cash in on a rising wave of anti-foreigner fervor.

It is part of a trend towards private prisons that started around the 1980s. By the end of the 2000s, a number of firms saw a market in undocumented immigrants and smelled opportunity.

In the Farmville case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracted with the City of Farmville to house immigrants who are to be deported. In turn, the city has a deal with ICA, which built a 772 –bed facility on the industrial outskirts of town. The city has been getting a dollar a day per prisoner, plus taxes and other benefits that reach about $250,000 a year. Continue reading

Virginia’s Left Consumes Another of Its Own

Dario Marquez: a Virginia Democrat, a progressive, a generous donor to left-of-center causes… but guilty of indirect association with President Trump’s immigration policies.

Dario Marques Jr., former government contractor and major contributor to Virginia Democratic Party poohbahs, has come under fire from Virginia progressives for his role in running an Arizona shelter for unaccompanied children who crossed the border illegally. Although Marques’ contract originated in 2014 during the Obama administration, work continued into the Trump administration — and any association with Trump, no matter how tangential, is more toxic than kepone.

Naturally, any attack from the Left is grist for the Mainstream Media, and this particular controversy has occasioned a lengthy article written by WCVE radio and disseminated by the Associated Press. This blue-on-blue political hit illustrates the asymmetries at work within the Democratic Party today. With its access to the Mainstream Media megaphone, left-wing activists keep moderate Democrats on the defensive and push the party to the Left.

Reports WCVE:

A handful of local left-wing activists are calling for Democrats to distance themselves from Marquez, whose proximity to detention policies they say calls into question the politicians’ commitment to reform. La ColectiVa and two other groups, Justice for Muslims Collective and Showing Up for Racial Justice Northern Virginia, launched a petition on July 17 calling for Virginia Democrats to stop accepting Marquezs’ donations, and launch an investigation into federal contractors profiting from ICE contracts, among other demands.

Continue reading

Caravans, Asylum and MS-13

It’s been frustrating the past couple of days. Attending a family funeral in Wilksboro, N.C., I’ve been unable to respond to the tremendous ruckus created by Steve Haner’s past three columns. Great job, Steve. Keep up the rabble rousing! I’m back now, though, and I’ve been catching up on my reading. And the story the caught my eye was an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal describing the increasing grip of street gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18 on the countries of El Salvador and Honduras.

Nabra Hassanen

Reading about the Central American caravans working their way through Mexico toward the United States, I’m struck by two conflicting impulses. The first is humanitarian. It’s impossible to hear the migrants’ stories without feeling compassion for their plight. They live in countries where the bad guys fought the law and… the law lost. The WSJ tells how street gangs rob, extort and murder with impunity. The murder rate in El Salvador is twelve times that of the U.S. Who would not want to flee such places in a desperate search for a better life? Who could blame these people for seeking asylum?

The second impulse is to say, No way, Jose. If the migrants manage to make it into the country, where do you think they’re heading? Well, it turns out that there are three main concentrations of Salvadorans in the United States — California, Long Island, N.Y., Maryland/Virginia, mainly in the Washington metropolitan area. When immigrants come to a new country, they don’t settle at random. They head to locales where people from the same villages and districts have already settled. Many would land in Virginia.

Darwin Martinez Torres

And what kind of people would those immigrants be? The media feeds us photographs of mothers with young children, portraying the caravans as brigades of baby strollers. President Trump speaks of young men capable of violence, conjuring images of the hoodlums who stormed the barricades at the Guatemalan-Mexican border. Trump and the media both have their own political agendas. It’s hard to know whom to trust. I suspect that both capture a piece of the truth.

I err toward the side of caution. Set up facilities and procedures for processing claims of people seeking asylum. But make it clear that people enter the United States on America’s terms, not those of the asylum seekers. The U.S. has an obligation to weed out gang members who might prey upon their fellow Salvadorans — or Americans such as Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Muslim girl who allegedly was beaten and raped in Sterling by a bat-wielding member of MS-13, Darwin Martinez Torres. Surely there is a way to provide sanctuary to asylum seekers while also keeping out murderers, extortionists and rapists.