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President Obama’s inaugural address rehabilitated the words “climate change” from their election period exile. He won praise from around the world for devoting over a minute of his twenty-minute speech to climate change.
“No superpower that claims to possess the moral high ground can afford to relinquish its leadership in addressing global disease, hunger, and ignorance,” said former US senator Richard Lugar. “Our moral identity is an essential source of national power… We diminish ourselves and our national reputation if we turn our backs on the obvious plight of hundreds of millions of people who are living on less than a dollar a day and facing severe risk from hunger and disease.”
Now that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and the president have made specific proposals to reform immigration law, you’ll see months of controversy. As is frequent in politics, the most controversial policy step will be among the least important.
In 2008, when I returned from trips abroad at Boston’s Logan International Airport, I was greeted by pictures of the president and the regional director for Homeland Security, Lorraine Henderson, who had the responsibility for the enforcement of immigration law in the northeastern US. In December of 2008, Lorraine Henderson was arrested. Her crime? She employed Fabiana Bitencourt to clean her house. The rub: Fabiana was a Brazilian national who didn’t have authorization to work in the United States. When Fabiana suggested she might return to Brazil for a visit, Lorraine advised that since enforcement was based only on border interdiction, Fabiana ran risks crossing the border but almost no risk in staying put. Lorraine Henderson was charged with “encouraging” and “inducing” an alien to remain in the country illegally.
Amanda and I wrote before the New Year about the tragic violence against vaccination workers in Pakistan who were doing vital work in the struggle to completely wipe out polio worldwide. Their deaths were linked to allegations that the CIA had used a vaccine campaign as part of intelligence gathering operations in the country. I’d like to propose a specific policy action by the US government that might marginally reduce the risk of such attacks –and their knock-on effect in terms of more
There has barely been time to process the Obama Administration’s unfortunate decision to stand by US biofuel policies—bad for the environment and hungry people, here and in developing countries—and now we’re confronted with what to do about ag subsidies that make it hard for developing country farmers to compete.
Republicans in the US House of Representatives have proposed a step toward immigration reform. The bill would change who can receive an annual block of 55,000 US permanent resident visas. Currently those visas go to people from countries with relatively low rates of immigration to the US via a lottery system. The new bill would close that program and reallocate the visas toward people earning doctorates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
Will Hurricane Sandy be the wake-up call that Americans need to finally recognize that rapid climate change is already upon us and the rest of the world? Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist, told the Los Angeles Times it may be a galvanizing event, “a Cuyahoga River moment for climate change.” The superstorm, Mann says, “has galvanized attention to this issue and the role that climate change may be playing with regard to the intensification of extreme weather.” Cleveland’s Cuyohaga River in