I’m sorry to leave this till the last minute, but there are just over 24 hours left to make public comments on an important mistake that the US Census Bureau is set on making. The Bureau has proposed, over the objections of many of its own staff, to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 survey. This is a terrible idea which is almost certain to cause immigrants to be undercounted because of fear, especially in the context of the vicious hostility the US has been displaying against immigrants over the past couple of years. Even if that were an unintended consequence, it would be reason enough to oppose this change, but there is also strong reason to believe it’s being done in bad faith. Meanwhile, the 2020 Census was already in danger from good old fashioned neglect, underfunding and incompetence, problems that will only be compounded by adding a question that discourages responses.
As someone who uses Census statistics regularly in my work, I am concerned that if this is allowed to go through it will leave us unable to rely on the 2020 count as the accurate snapshot we depend on it being. As a citizen and resident of this country, I am afraid that what we’re seeing is a deliberate attempt to skew future elections and federal government resource allocations by systematically undercounting the population of areas with more immigrants.
If you read this in time, please make a public comment. It doesn’t have to be a long reasoned argument—even just saying “please don’t add the citizenship question” may be worth something—but here’s what I wrote, trying to put it in terms that the Census Bureau is officially supposed to care about, in case it helps you to write yours: Continue reading “My comments on the proposed addition of a citizenship question to the US Census” →
If you know contemporary Seattle, you probably know that we have a housing crisis. If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard about how I grew up in London and most of my school friends can’t afford to live anywhere in London, which terrifies me about Seattle’s future. So it should be no surprise that housing affordability is a huge issue in local politics, and one that I pay a lot of attention to. Equally unsurprising: even among people who agree that we have a problem and it’s important, there’s wide disagreement about what to do, and these disagreements often get very bitter.
Against that background it was a relief this evening when a panel discussion about the housing crisis managed not to bring out any of that vitriol, and stayed a respectful, interesting airing of differing views. At the risk of caricaturing the panelists’ views a little, I would summarise them as:
- Hodan Hassan of Got Green, making a strong and convincing moral case against displacement and for paying particular attention to the displacement of minorities, and opposing market solutions because capitalism and land ownership are themselves the problem.
- Zach Lubarsky of Seattle Tech 4 Housing [full disclosure: I’ve done a tiny bit of volunteer work for this org], arguing that the market has to be used in solving this problem, and the reason it hasn’t worked so far is restrictive zoning getting in the way.
- Laura Loe, who did an outstanding job of threading the needle between these two positions, which is what I really want to talk about.
Continue reading “Housing: short vs long views” →
I was recently party to a discussion about a code of conduct for an internet community, in which we found ourselves trying to delineate the difference between welcome and unwelcome forms of nationalism. The moderator found a better way to work around that, but the question got me thinking. I am generally anti-nationalist, but there are forms of nationalism that I do tend to sympathise with, and it’s worth trying to clarify why. To start making sense of implicit demarcations like this, I find it helpful to start with a list of opposites in my own feelings: Continue reading “What if the Nation State is the problem?” →
Today I watched the People’s Tribunal outside the Northwest Detention Center. The testimonies were all stories about individuals currently detained there, told by people who had interviewed them this weekend, because the detainees aren’t allowed to speak for themselves. We heard painful accounts of the petty reasons people end up detained there, the barriers to their getting a fair hearing once caught up in the punitive immigration system, poor conditions in detention, and above all how the system dehumanises detainees and guards alike. I was reminded alternately of Josef K and Ivan Denisovich, two archetypes this country likes to pretend it’s above creating.
But that’s not what I want to tell you about. Hopefully you already know about the evils of the US immigration system, and the abuses at detention centers, and if you don’t then NWDC Resistance has a better backgrounder than I could write. I want to look at a question of geography: the location of the center itself, and all the ways it reminds us that the immigration system does not value our fellow prisoners.
Continue reading “One island of the archipelago” →
When I restarted this blog, I decided to focus on geography, and generally steer clear of either really personal posts or the political issues of the day. But sometimes that distinction doesn’t really hold up. The US’s treatment of people who were brought here as children is an example: it’s just the sort of current-politics issue I didn’t want to be talking about here, but it’s also somewhat on topic and so intensely personal for me that I can’t leave it alone.
I’ll start with some biographical information for context. I was born in Turkey, but when I was very young the country went through a period of political violence that my parents very reasonably decided that we should get away from. Because my great-grandfather had shrewdly taken advantage of the brief period when İstanbul was colonised, we had EU citizenship, so we were able to move to Britain as legal, documented, above-board immigrants. Thus my lifetime of being the most privileged sort of immigrant began before I could even speak in sentences. Continue reading “DACA” →