Some Perspectives on Immigration Issues


With Presidential candidates and pundits talking about how to solve numerous issues related to immigration, we might think this is a modern phenomenon. Whether it is about building walls across the Mexican border, restricting or banning Syrian refugees, banning all Muslim’s, what to do with the estimated ten million undocumented immigrants and how to handle guest worker visas, this debate is unclear at best and is being used by both the Democrats and Republicans for their own purposes.


Many pundits and political leaders also echo the need and call for stronger national security. This debate is not new and in fact it goes back to the founding days of our nation. The debate and the language of the time were just as fierce and demagogic as it is today. It is not an easy set of problems today and was not earlier either. Just last year, presidential candidate Donald Trump and a few legal scholars cited Roosevelt’s application of the Alien Enemies Act, or the act itself, as a good example or legal precedent, to justify Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, as part of the war on terror. This seems like such an outrageous claim to many, but is in fact rooted in the history of our nation.

In January of 1795, then a member of the House of Representatives, James Madison representing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Second Congress introduced a naturalization bill that required any prospective citizen to prove five years of residence and an “oath of attachment” to the Constitution. Federalists sought a longer residency requirement of seven years.

Some, including Representative Samuel Dexter of Massachusetts hinted at intrigue and possible “Popish influence” by Catholics. He and others mocked Catholics in general. Madison, in letters to James Monroe and others found that there was “nothing inconsistent in their religion with the purest republicanism, Americans had no right to criticize Catholics. They had, many of them, proved good citizens during the Revolution.” A note here, the term republican refers to the Democratic-Republican Party, which favored states rights and the inclusion of the Bill of Rights after the passing of the Constitution in 1789 and political philosophy of the time championed by Jefferson and Madison among others.

The Federalists, who sought a stronger national or federal government and institutions, championed by Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and others were the competing political philosophies at the time. The fierce debates and compromises laid the foundation for the functioning of our republican government and its institutions. These acts also sought to neutralize the perceived or real threat of the French, and then ruled by Napoleon as an Emperor and US citizens sympathetic to French interests. Catholics and the French were the Muslims of their day. British, French and Spanish interests and intrigue were still very real at the time and the nation was not yet firmly established, so these fears were real, but the threat of a “new monarchy” with the growing influence of the Federal government was feared as well.

The Naturalization Act of 1798, passed into law by President John Adams required a five-year notice period and a fourteen-year waiting period of residency before a person could become a citizen. This applied only to “free-white persons,” as the issue of slavery had not been resolved.

The Aliens Friends Act that allowed the President to imprison and deport non-citizens deemed “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” followed the Naturalization Act. The Alien Enemies Act allowed the President to also imprison or deport any male over the age of 14 from a hostile nation. The Sedition Act restricted speech that was critical of the Federal government.

Under the Seditions Act, there were several highly visible prosecutions for those that opposed the Federalist President and founding father, John Adams. John Callender, a Scottish citizen was imprisoned for nine months and fined $200 for publishing a booklet entitled The Prospect Before Us, where he criticized President Adams as “a continual tempest of malignant passions” and a “repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite and an unprincipled oppressor”. Then Vice-President, Thomas Jefferson approved the text prior to its publication. At this time, the Vice-President was really the runner up to the President and not a running mate as it is today.

Benjamin Bache, the publisher for a pro- Democratic-Republican newspaper, the Aurora accused George Washington of “incompetence and financial irregularities,” and “the blind, bald, crippled, toothless, querulous Adams of nepotism and monarchical ambition.” Bache was arrested in 1798 but died of yellow fever before his trial.

Matthew Lyon, a Democratic-Republican congressman from Vermont was the first individual placed on trial under the Alien and Sedition Acts. In 1800 he was arrested under the Sedition Act for writing an essay published in the Vermont Journal. He accused the administration of “ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice”. He also published an article entitled The Scourge of Aristocracy. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four months in jail. After his release, he returned to Congress.

These Acts and the Stamp Acts of 1798, which caused a furor among colonists because they sounded very similar to the taxes imposed by the British led to victory of Jefferson over John Adams in the 1800 election. Under President Jefferson and the Congress, the Aliens Friends Act and the Seditions Act were allowed to expire. Jefferson pardoned all those in jail under these acts and their fines were eventually repaid.

The Enemy Aliens Act remained on the books and was rewritten as part of the US war and national defense statutes (50 USC 21-24) at the time of the First World War. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt issues Presidential Proclamations siting the revised Act in 2525 (Alien Enemies – Japanese), 2526 (Alien Enemies – German), and 2527 (Alien Enemies – Italian). As late as 1948 German citizens were held on Ellis Island and a camp in North Dakota and the internment of citizens of Japanese descent were held in California, Hawaii and other states. President Harry Truman eventually used his executive power to eliminate most of the effects of these acts, but not all.

In the Supreme Court decision of Ludecke v. Watkins (1948), the Court weighed how to interpret when to release German alien Kurt Ludecke who was detained in 1941, under Roosevelt’s Proclamation. Ludecke was held after cessations of hostilities were ended in 1945. In 1947, he petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus to release him, after the Attorney General ordered him deported. The Supreme Court then ruled 5-4 to release Ludecke, but left the Alien Enemies Act standing. It allowed for detainment beyond the time hostilities ceased and an actual treaty was signed with the hostile nation or government.

The immigrants of the 19th century did not seek government benefits or entitlements, only the opportunity to pursue their dreams and live under a nation of laws, governed by a Constitution and not to the vagaries of monarchies or unstable governments. Most sought economic opportunity. While the challenges and issues facing us today are different, I see a few core principles that might help us navigate this issue. I think Madison might approve of these basic principles and in his role as the architect of our Constitution, he had to contend with very strong opposition from not just other founding fathers like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton but leaders who directly supported slavery and other highly contentious issues.

  • A waiting period before benefits are available.
  • An oath of allegiance to our Constitution.
  • Clear work visa programs. We also have a need for immigrants to fulfill various labor and economic requirements, including farm labor, but also needs in the high tech field.
  • A program for existing undocumented residents, seeking residency and citizenship that would allow them to obtain the benefits of full citizenship over time. As an architect of the Bill of Rights, I cannot imagine Madison considering deporting 10 million people.
  • Strong sanctions for companies that hire undocumented workers.
  • An effective dialogue with Mexico and other key countries to discuss common approaches. Madison dealt with England, Spain and France all at the same time.
  • Forget building a wall, Madison and Jefferson oversaw the Louisiana Purchase and an expansion of American influence over North America.
  • I think Madison would seek solutions in balancing security (from modern day terrorism) vs privacy and the Bill of Rights by providing the Executive enough power to provide security, but balancing that with his fidelity to the Bill of Rights.
  • Madison was a tireless advocate for the benefits of our republic and our Constitution. Let’s do the same and welcome all those who share our values, regardless of race, religion or nationality.




Seizing the Moment, Obama’s Inaugural Address

Listening to the 2nd Inaugural address delivered by President Obama and the whole pageantry of the occasion, I was struck by two themes; we the people and fairness. His theme of “we the people’ included the issues of; keeping the promise of social security, medicare and medicaid; responding to global climate change; fairness in how we somehow respond to wage and income differences, gender, equality and immigration. For readers, here is the full, actual text of this speech. And thank your for inviting Myrlie Evers to speak. That was a treat.Continue reading “Seizing the Moment, Obama’s Inaugural Address”

Six Rules for the Effective Non-Profit

Non-profit organizations whether they are small, storefront churches, the American Red Cross or anything in between really have to learn a few basic rules to be successful.Continue reading “Six Rules for the Effective Non-Profit”

Four Things an Effective Leader Does to Create a Safe Learning Environment

There is a great story of a up and coming executive in a company who made a critical judgement in assessing the marketplace and lost the company over $10 million. This was a large company, so it did not threaten its survival, but it was a significant error and loss. When he met with the CEO of the company to discuss the issue,Continue reading “Four Things an Effective Leader Does to Create a Safe Learning Environment”

Words We Affirm Have Power

Affirmations, or repeating words or phrases out loud do have the power to keep us attuned to the definitions and to the outcomes they define and engender. Here are a few of mine. What are yours?Continue reading “Words We Affirm Have Power”

Owning Your Future

The world of work and our dreams for the future are constantly being battered. There is the constant drum roll of ” unemployment, political clashes, the specter of economic meltdowns in Europe and the though of the US being dependent upon or beholden to China. The report below is particularly dismal.

US Labor Market in Full Blown Depression

Healthcare, and on and on, it is depressing, if you tune into the news too much. It is more important than ever for each person to own their own future. How, then do we go about this? Here are a few tips.

  • Don’t let your past determine your future. Practice something each day that requires you to study, reflect and live in the moment. This could be medication, prayer, reading, morning coffee and reflection, tai-chi (my choice) or something else. We all have pasts that tend to re-run in our minds and spirits. Doing this too much means this is our fundamental frame of reference.
  • Don’t let the news paralyze you. Most of the news is sensational and confrontational. I consume and use a fair amount of news myself. It is important to balance this with real conversations and interactions with people in the here and now. Also, seek out unusual and positive stories. They are more abundant than you might imagine.
  • Assess your goals and strengths. A psychological test, like Winslow and others are a good place to start. The other is to hire a personal or professional business coach. Most people have not considered this step. I think this has a lot to do with shame and the willingness to admit our weaknesses, but also to acknowledge our dreams. Yes, our dreams and aspirations.
  • Think of your future as a work in progress. Your future is something no one owns. Your current employer or situation do not need to define your future. Think of your future as something you are building. Think of it as your owns “business plan.”
  • Develop your own personal brand. Me as a brand? Hmmm. . .  what is this about? It means coming to terms with your aspirations and how to express them. A brand is a logo and a statement that incorporates the promises of the product or service. What is your promise? To yourself, to others? How would you sum that up? Fundamentally, what talents, insights and aspirations do you have that others can benefit from?
  • Learn how to market yourself. You have to stand out in what your are good at and passionate about. There are lots of ways to do this, but you need to consistently work on this. Writing, speaking, participating in volunteer and community efforts as well as more traditional efforts are all part of this. Even a personal branded web-site. More on this later. Here is an example of a very creative resume. Resume on Pintrest. This is really cool. It stands out and shows initiative and creativity.

Beyond Common Sense

My parents were elementary school teachers in the 60’s and 70’s. So was my Aunt, my sister for a time and I married a woman who became one later in her life. My youngest daughter did it for three years and checked out. I have a life long history with public education. I feel like the background of so many conversations that are still rumbling around in my head and somehow part of my psyche recall discussions during meals about the trials and victories in and because of public education.

My public school education was great, for the most part and even that of my own children, good as well. They may think differently, but I think they received a very good education. We live in a very small town, with a rural population and many commuters. So, in this sense, we are very unlike the suburban or urban districts that house and seek to educate most of the young people in the U.S.

The urban districts in America are in crisis. Financially, educationally and institutionally. In any way you want to measure them, they are facing problems that could leave an entire generation without the ability to read, reason and understand basic math.

There is a lot to say about this, but I want to share some very personal and specific practices that defy common sense. Or at least any sense I have.

Consider an urban district, one of the poorest in the U.S., with a population that is 90% Hispanic, 8% black and 2% white and other races. In the middle school grades in language arts, teachers are prohibited by their administration from:

  • Teaching anything that is not specifically on the PSSA tests.
  • This includes grammar and the basics of sentence structure.
  • Only discussions about reading strategies were allowed, nothing about the actually story, plot and literary content was allowed.
  • No time for reading was included in the planning.
  • No required discussions, book reports or presentations.
  • After the PSSA tests were completed, some of this was allowed.
  • Use of dictionaries is prohibited. Why, you might ask? The answer was, “the kids should be able to figure it out from the context and anyway, there are very questions on ‘the test’ about this.

You may be thinking I’m making this up, but this is the official direction in an urban district in Pennsylvania, where I live. It defies common sense, does it not? The only way to read is the learn the basics of the language, which includes grammar and sentence structure and then lots of reading, discussion and use of language.

To me this is like thinking that anyone could learn to be excellent at sports without conditioning, basic drills for the sport, inspiration and lots of repeating the skills. To think that a person can learn to read without completing the basics is beyond common sense.

We All Leave a Legacy. What is in this?

A friend of mine and another person in my community of faith passed away recently from pancreatic and liver cancer. They were gone witinh two weeks of their diagnosis. I am speaking at my friends funeral next week. This caused me to think about him and what is “leaving a legacy” about?

There are four criteria that I’ve come up with, which I thought I’d share with you.

1. What have we done?

What we do each day is our lives. This is a simple truth I try to remind myself of. Often we think “our lives” are something to look forward to, if we can just find the right person, the right job, perhaps move, a little more money, many things come to mind. But, what we do each day is our lives.

When I think of my friend, he helped helped start an international relief organization, helped start a company that built affordable housing, helped start two magazines, founded a company that helps students prepare for the MCAT’s and helped start a private High School. This is astonishing.

He had new ideas and we were going to get together soon to talk and share.

2. Who Have We Become?

Not everyone has a great legacy of external accomplishments. The internal development is hard to notice and is often most fully displayed by simple and ordinary people. The rich, powerful and famous may emulate this, but rarely do they really become and embody lives of integrity. And integrity I define is, “the ability to tell yourself the truth, to listen to that voice and to do your best to live in accordance with that truth.”

In the case of my friend, he was a great and trusted friend, a willing mentor and loving husband and father and a Son of God.

3. Those We Have Loved

The measure of the quality of our lives, is not just external accomplishments, nor internal growth, but by those we have loved. It means those who we’re close to or easy to love, but also those who were not so easy. It means being faithful to who we have become and maintaining that compass of direction toward love in the difficult times.

My friend Kem, loved many and loved well and maintained a levity and sense of humor that helped me and I know others through difficult or confusing times.

4. What Others Do Because of Us

Another part, and perhaps the final measure of a legacy is what others do because of us. It is not up to them, but is up to us to determine their legacy. We always remember people who have accomplished great things, have become people in integrity  and internal growth and those who have loved deeply and broadly. But we don’t often think that the legacy of anyone is really up to us.

Let’s all think of those we know who have accomplished great things in their lives, not just Michael Jordan or Mozart. No one starts with the same gifts and talents. The measure can be a Michael Jordan type of of accomplishment, but it could be a special needs child who learns to talk and walk. Which is greater? I’ll leave that to you to answer.

Let’s be honest and dedicated to our own internal growth. No one can do this for us and it is what brings us real satisfaction and provides us with the psychic and emotional tools to live live well.

Let’s love deeply and broadly. This is something we all can and should do. It lifts up others, provides meaning to our lives and connects us to those whom we share our lives with.

Let’s take the lessons we have learned from others and embody their values as part of our lives. By doing so, they live with and through us. It is how civilization learns, grows and improves as well.

Cool Example of Using Value Adding Process and Takt Time

This is the best explanation of Tact Time and Value Adding and Non-Value Adding activities that I’ve seen. Really cool video introduction on an actual case study.


Through this process, a City saved over $500,000 by reducing their inventory. If you havn’t checked out what is happening with Lean and Six Sigma in the government sector, get in there. This is where the next big area of focus and activity is going to be.


With the report now complete by Louis Freeh about the sex scandal at Penn State University the word “integrity” is being used almost continuously. I’d like to spend a moment pondering this word and its meaning and implementation.

Here is the definition from




1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2.the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.
The idea of adherence to moral and ethical principles is what comes to mind for most of us. The definition that l like is, “telling the truth to oneself.”
Most of us recognize integrity when we make a conscious decision about an issue and express this internal decision with a statement and action that is consistent with this decision and with these moral and ethical principles.
The first step in being a person of integrity is the internal recognition of universal moral and ethical principles. Where to these come from, these universal principles and how are they adopted by us? Religious values and traditions are the most common source for these moral and ethical principles. Our own philosophy of life is also rooted in our family experiences as well. Most of us draw from many sources to construct our own ethical framework. We tend to access these when we face difficult issues or challenges in our life.
The Penn State crisis brings another issue to light, that of institutional integrity and how ones personal values often can be compromised. It is not that the people involved in this lapse of judgement were fundamentally unethical people. This case is very similar to the child sex abuse case that has roiled the Catholic Church as well. Two things happen with institutions that are good to learn from.
First, the values that the institution embodied and articulated had a multiplier effect. By this I mean these institutions both magnified the importance of their core ethical values and fueled success and development far beyond what any individual could accomplish. So it is natural and good to identify and harness these institutional values. The problem comes when the institution replaces the core values themselves and the good of the institution replaces the values themselves.
It is often as simple as, “I want to protect the ‘integrity’ of our institution and its legacy.” These good intentions rarely work out as predicted. Like the spouse who cheats, the usually are caught or turn themselves in.
Institutions also try to “control the PR or public relations.” This rarely works our well either.  It is true for individuals as well as institutions. Facing our own failings sooner rather than later always works out best. The longer you wait the harder and more complex the situation becomes.
So accessing, studying and thinking about our core ethical values on a daily basis is important. It is equally important to cultivate relationships with people who we give permission to hold us accountable to stay true to our values and who understand and share or at least appreciate those values.
Finally, don’t  give  up on organized religion or institutions that whose values you value and draw inspiration from, but remember, you need to tell the truth to yourself first. If your organization comes up short, know that and act in accordance of the core ethical values that you know are the well spring of life and ethical decisions.