TWO NEWS STORIES AND MY COMMENTS

After reading my emails this morning, I came across two articles that really pertain to adoptee rights in an indirect way.

This article and link discuss exactly what is the right to privacy. It goes a little further because it is discussing the San Juan Islands and how Border Patrol is checking everyone’s identification. I left the comment that I was thankful that someone finally describe what the right to privacy really was. It is the right to be free from governmental interference. Period. It is not the right to anonymity. No such right even exists. The agencies and the states are violating our right to privacy and our fourth amendment rights in withholding our records from us.

Here is the article:

Roadblock Revelations
May 24, 2008

According to the news articles linked to below, the Department of Homeland Security has continued the expansion of its un-American enforcement activities by directing them against Washington State residents utilizing Northwest domestic Ferry services.

Specifically, Border Patrol Agents have established suspicionless checkpoints at domestic Ferry terminals servicing the residents of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. The islands are part of Washington State and island inhabitants are Washington State residents.

Despite the fact that the Ferry services in question never cross an international border, this hasn’t deterred Homeland Security agents from directing scarce ’security’ resources against Washington State residents absent reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Thus proving once again that DHS either has no clue on how to defend the ‘Homeland’ or no intention of doing so.

Rather the specter of terrorism and illegal immigration are used as excuses for the continued expansion of federal influence and control at the expense of the founding principles of this country.

While recent events in Washington State are being mimicked in one form or another in border states across the country, I’d like to bring attention to a quote from attorney Matt Adams of the Northwest Immigration Rights Project:

They can ask you where you’re from; they can ask you to show your papers or to show your driver’s license or to show your birth certificate — but you don’t have to provide that information,” Adams says.

Because these checkpoints are not on the border, people have a greater right to privacy, Adams says.

“What I suggest to individuals is to politely refuse to answer questions, and then if they still don’t let you go, to say ‘Am I under arrest? If I’m not under arrest, I’d like to continue on my way,’ ” he says.

Words we all need to take to heart as ‘Homeland Security’ intrusion continues to grow in our daily lives.

Putting a stop to the burgeoning American police state will not happen from the top down. It will only happen when enough individuals decide to take individual action in common cause.

Several recent articles detailing this story appear below along with links back to the original websites:

Citizenship Checks on Wash. Ferries Stir Controversy

by Martin Kaste

Morning Edition, April 30, 2008 · The U.S. Border Patrol has started regularly checking the citizenship of passengers on certain ferries inside Washington state. Such nationality checks are common in the Southwest, but along the Canadian border, they’re still relatively new — and to many people, the checkpoints have come as a shock.

A ferry from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to Anacortes, a town on the coast, follows a domestic route — it never leaves U.S. waters. Yet, when it arrives in Anacortes, there’s a chance that passengers will be greeted by the Border Patrol.

Joe Giuliano, a Border Patrol spokesman, explains what might happen if there is a checkpoint when this ferry docks.

“We’re asking you your nationality and citizenship. … If you have no paperwork with you, then we either have to be convinced by you, or run some other records checks, either on your vehicle or the name you give us, to attempt to validate that,” he says.

Close Enough to Canada

Washington state’s San Juans are a cluster of picture-postcard islands known for small farms, bed-and-breakfasts and whale-watching. They also happen to be close enough to Canada that an illegal immigrant or a smuggler might kayak across and then take a domestic ferry to the U.S. mainland. The Border Patrol says that’s why it needs to have a “choke point” at the Anacortes dock.

On this day, though, it looks as though there will be no checks. Passengers are let straight off the ferry — and Vinnie O’Connor is relieved not to have to stop and attest to his citizenship.

“If it bugs me [to have to answer that question], I’m not going to say anything. I want to get through the line and get in my car and go home,” O’Connor says.

It certainly bugs some people. William Ginsig, who lives on Orcas Island, encountered the checkpoint for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

“When we got there, there was this big guy, came over to the car. I rolled down the window, and he says, ‘Oh, you’re American, go ahead.’ The hysterical part about all this is, my wife is a French citizen,” Ginsig says.

Rights to Privacy

Upset islanders even called Seattle immigration lawyer Matt Adams, director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, to give them a mini legal seminar.

“They can ask you where you’re from; they can ask you to show your papers or to show your driver’s license or to show your birth certificate — but you don’t have to provide that information,” Adams says.

Because these checkpoints are not on the border, people have a greater right to privacy, Adams says.

“What I suggest to individuals is to politely refuse to answer questions, and then if they still don’t let you go, to say ‘Am I under arrest? If I’m not under arrest, I’d like to continue on my way,’ ” he says.

There have been a few protests: A couple of passengers tried answering the citizenship question by flashing American flags that they had painted on their wrists. They were only delayed. But for illegal immigrants, the stakes are higher.

An Immigrant’s Perspective

On San Juan Island, an illegal immigrant from Mexico watches the ferry arrive. Asking not to be identified, she says she no longer dares to go off the island.

“If you go off island and you don’t have the whole family with you and you get stopped there, you’re going to get deported, and what about the rest of your family?” she says.

She says she feels trapped — but not everyone is sympathetic.

“If you do something willfully and you say ‘I’m not going to pay attention to this law,’ and then that law catches up with you, then the right thing to do is accept the consequences,” says Chris Clark, a longtime Friday Harbor resident.

Clark is annoyed at fellow islanders who oppose the checkpoints. He says the number of illegal immigrants on the islands has jumped in the past decade or so. Some locals complain about being undercut by illegal workers, especially in the landscaping business.

Tightening Security

Border Patrol spokesman Giuliano says it’s time that enforcement caught up.

“The Border Patrol presence on the northern border was not really what we would have liked it to have been for a great many years,” Giuliano says. “And in the wake of 9/11, we’re starting to get resourced up, and we’re finally reaching that point where we’re doing these things that, in all honesty, we should have been doing all along.”

Many locals acknowledge that border security probably needs to be tighter. But on these cozy islands, high security still comes as something of a culture shock.

“It’s a visceral thing,” says Howie Rosenfeld, chairman of the county council. “It just seems like we’re not the free and brave country that we were. We seem to be sinking into some sort of a fear-based society.”

Rosenfeld says he plans to cooperate with the checkpoints, but he hopes it isn’t something he’ll have to get used to

’68 revolution that ended this ‘family-law apartheid’
Supreme Court empowered children born out of wedlock

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It’s the 1968 revolution you never heard of. Forty years ago this month, tucked in between the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling repudiated centuries of settled law by granting constitutional recognition and protection to a previously outcast group: children born outside of marriage and their parents.

The cases arose out of two private tragedies in Louisiana. Minnie Glona’s 19-year-old son was killed in a car accident. Louise Levy, a mother of five who worked as a domestic, died after a doctor failed to diagnose her hypertension uremia. Glona sued for wrongful death; so did Levy’s children.

But lower courts threw out their cases. Why? Because Louisiana law specifically blocked a parent’s recovery for the death of a child, or a child’s recovery for the death of a parent, if the child was born outside marriage. Both Glona and Levy were unmarried.

This family-law apartheid in Louisiana law had ancient roots. Under common law, a child born outside marriage used to be “fillius nullius,” the child of no one. In the Middle Ages, it was even a lesser crime to kill a person who had been born to an unmarried woman. In the United States, well into the 1960s, such a child’s birth certificate might be stamped “bastard.”

In such a climate, it’s no wonder that “shotgun weddings” assured that many children conceived outside marriage were nonetheless born to a married couple. For those women who did not marry, more than 25,000 a year went to more than 200 “homes for unwed mothers,” where they gave birth secretly and usually relinquished their babies for adoption. Few admitted women who were black, however. And mothers who did keep their children faced social stigma, discrimination in access to public benefits and laws like those in Louisiana marking the family as second-class.

But by the late 1960s, the sexual revolution was well under way. The birth control pill made it practical for women to separate sex from childbearing, and sex without marriage lost its taboo status. As the Vietnam War dragged on, “make love, not war” became one of the most resonant slogans of the decade.

Nonetheless, Louisiana fiercely defended its statutes. In its brief to the Supreme Court, it maintained that it was not trying to punish or discriminate against anyone. It declared: “Louisiana’s purposes … are positive ones: the encouragement of marriage as one of the most important institutions known to law, the preservation of the legitimate family as the preferred environment for socializing the child. … Since marriage as an institution is fundamental to our existence as a free nation, it is the duty of … Louisiana to encourage it. One method of encouraging marriage is granting greater rights to legitimate offspring.”

The Supreme Court rejected this reasoning. It refused to penalize either the Levy or the Glona families with the loss of financial compensation simply because the children were born outside of marriage.

Encouraging marriage and expressing disapproval of nonmarital sex were no longer constitutionally sufficient reasons to deny equal rights to children or to their parents.

Over the next several years, the Supreme Court reinforced this position, requiring states to allow nonmarital families access to public benefits and giving all children a right to financial support from their parents.

When Joan Stanley died and Illinois sought to take custody of her three children away from their father, Peter, because Joan and Peter had never married, the court ruled that all fathers, not just married ones, had a constitutional right to a relationship with their children. And although that result must seem obvious today (how could it be good for grieving children to automatically remove them from their surviving parent?), it was so revolutionary in 1972 that it required every state in the country to overhaul its statutes — more than had to do so after the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision the following year.

Like so many others, this quiet revolution of 1968 is incomplete. Levy’s children were entitled to compensation for her wrongful death, but in many states today her unmarried partner still would not be. Allowing same-sex couples to marry, as California will after the recent state Supreme Court ruling and as Massachusetts has for years, does nothing to erase the distinction between married couples and everyone else.

Those who defend such distinctions may assert that they do not intend to punish or discriminate but simply want to promote marriage. It’s an argument that rings as hollow in 2008 as it did in 1968.

Polikoff, author of “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law,” is a law professor at American University. This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

This article is more about Gay rights to adopt. What it doesn’t do is describe that adoptees and natural parents being denied contact with each other. It doesn’t describe that it is still bad for us when it comes to attaining our records.

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One Response to “TWO NEWS STORIES AND MY COMMENTS”

  1. THE MOM WITH BROWNIES Says:

    This is fascinating!

    I am a parent who has adopted 3 children from the state. I have asked no less than 5 separate people to be given the court transcript of the termination hearing.

    Nobody is able to get it for us.

    I want to be able to sit back and let our children read for themselves what happened at the hearing. Brian and I were there, but they need to see it for themselves, not hear it from our point of view.

    WE can’t even get the records. All I have are notes that I took during their years in foster care.

    The paperwork, court hearings and legal documents should be a given package to the children upon their 18th birthdate. That is not the case. The whole system is one big mess.

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