Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On SB1070

I have said some things on twitter and facebook about this but, I want you to know exactly how I feel about it.

Yes, it is wrong that people enter any country illegally. Yes, Mexico needs to have better employment so none of my co-nationals would want to move here. Yes, Arizona is a sovereign state and can apply whatever law they come-up with. Yes, a lot of Americans could do jobs that illegals do (could, not would). The issue to be discussed right now is not illegal immigration per se. It is the fact that now looking like you might be illegal gives the police reasons to detain you.

One thing is that you get caught in the middle of a robbery, that is looking illegal for me. Having some skin/hair color or having almond eyes is not looking illegal! How about illegal Canadians or Europeans? don't tell me there aren't any! They will not get stopped however, because they don't look illegal. Arizonans need not to kid themselves, this State is sustained on the commerce with Sonora and Sinaloa. Without us coming to shop here no mall would survive as they are now, with this economy. With the new law I can foresee my fellow Sonorans being stopped if they are driving on a part of the city not close to the malls, just to get their papers checked. That is harassment.

One of my friends was saying that the police will have to be very sure that a person is illegal before detaining them or else they would risk getting sued. I have no confidence in the police here. Not after they didn't show-up after 4 car break-ins in the same neighborhood but they did show up at 6 am to ask a friend of mine to remove his street light because it violated the light code in Tucson (Tucson has a policy on street lighting due to the University space observatories, so the city is very dark). I personally, have encounter numerous times agents from Immigration that are very racists, it is rare that the would say something to me because I don't have brown skin but, they would interrogate anyone that is brown exhaustively before giving them permission to travel to Phoenix, for example. For those of you who don't know, a tourist visa is really not enough to travel within the US, you need yet another paper (I-94) to allow you to travel pass 150 miles from the border. In Arizona, Tucson is the limit, you can come here without that permit without any problem but you can't go to Phoenix without it. Before SB1070 only the Border Patrol was allowed to stop a car traveling to Phoenix to ask for said permit, now, any kind of police will be able to do it.

Illegal immigration needs to be stopped at the border. A lot of Arizonans say that the Federal Government hasn't done anything to do precisely that. They forget how tall and long is the double fence at the border. Also, how many border patrol or national security officers do they want along the border? the only way illegals will stop crossing through the desert is if there is an officer every couple of feet all along the border.

How about making it easier for people to migrate legally? How about giving temporal residency to those who can prove they have a secure job and are paying taxes? (we legal aliens in the country pay more taxes than an American citizen doing the same job, by the way) then, after a time, say 5 years, that you prove to have worked all the time and are current on your taxes give them a green card. Right now, it can take up to 20 years for someone from another country, working legally in the US to be able to even apply for the green card. You have to go to the whole ABC's of visas and pretty much until you have no other option but get a green card or leave the country, they allow you to apply for it. It is also extremely expensive to do so. How is it fair that someone (and I do know someone just like that) that has lived and worked in the US for 12 years to not get a green card because his jobs are not well payed so he can't afford to pay for the green card application? Denying him of a green card now and sending him back to his country is up-rooting him, his life is here!

I really don't think SB1070 will do anything to control or get rid of illegals. There are 2 things that will come out of this: 1) a lot of citizens or legal residents will get harassed and will sue the State; 2) This is a good thing, the issue of illegal immigration is back on the table for the Federal Government to take action. I really hope the latter is for the benefit of the millions of legal and illegal immigrants in this country.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NASA region 4

I woke up today with the news that the Mexican Congress approved the creation of the Mexican Space Agency (AEXA, for its initials in Spanish). I couldn't resist give my opinion on the matter. It sounds awesome in theory, doesn't it? Well, no, my actual first thought was: what the frak?

I must explain why that was my reaction. Mexico gives less than 1% of its annual income to the Science Council (CONACyT). Can you guess where is the money to fund the AEXA is coming from? Right, from that less than 1% as well. Meaning? CONACyT will get even less money to fund all other areas of science. As it is, right now, getting a grant funded through CONACyT is almost impossible, you have to submit 3-4 times and the most you can get is $100,000 dollars for a 3 year project. Compare that to $1 million dollars for an RO-1 funded through the National Institutes of Health, in the US. Add to that that any reagent or piece of equipment you buy from Mexico is at least twice the price as in the US.

Now, exactly how much of the starting fund of the AEXA will go to hire scientist? close to nothing! First they will need to hire a director (very likely a politician with only a Bachelor's degree), a speaker, an administrator, etc. All those people will come, no doubt about it, from the governing party and they will be brothers, sisters, neighbors, etc. of someone in a higher post at said party.

I have no idea if Mexico actually has people actually prepared to work in an agency like that. I know we have good engineers and physicists but, from that to quantic physicists and astronauts is a big leap. I just keep wondering; how long will it take for the AEXA to produce anything worthwhile? How much money will Mexico put in to produce something with the hope of some revenue? What will be the effect of the money that will be put into the AEXA on the CONACyT funding new scientists?

These are things that someone like me, who still had the hope to go back to Mexico to do science, has to consider.

I was going to provide a link to the English version of the AEXA site but, I'm actually embarrassed, they seem to have used Google translate to put that up.