Michael Jones ’11 has some explaining to do.
A year and a half ago, a month before he was to come to Yale for his freshman year, Jones decided to weigh in on his blog — michaelbjones.blogspot.com — about New Haven’s Elm City Resident Card program, which had been approved that summer. And Jones did not hold back.
“What New Haven is doing is stupid,” he wrote, calling his fellow Yalies “out of touch with reality.”
“I just don’t understand how you can support a policy like New Haven’s, where the city is, in essence, granting legalization within their municipality without any attempt to deter future illegal immigration,” Jones explained. “Folks, this is ILLEGAL.”
Jones essentially argued that Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and the New Haven Board of Aldermen were only making the problem worse by “institutionally advocating something illegal” before the federal government reforms immigration policy and revamps border security. It was essentially the same argument that former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made when he visited the Yale Law School last spring.
Jones’ blog post — which he has since taken offline — was first pointed out in a News article yesterday. Asked about what he wrote, Jones said his response to the ID program was “visceral” — despite the fact he wrote his post 51 days after it had actually been approved — and that he now thinks the city was right to act while the federal government was “dragging its feet,” as he put it, on immigration reform.
We are not exactly sure what that means, since Jones made the opposite argument — that cities should not act before the federal government does — on his blog. And we don’t know when or why Jones’ opinion on the issue changed.
What we are sure about is that the Elm City Resident Program has been among the most central initiatives with which Ward 1 residents have engaged in recent years. Dozens of students lobbied the Board of Aldermen in favor of the proposal in 2007; then-Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 said at the time that the program spawned “by far the most proactive student interest I’ve seen regarding any New Haven issue during my term.”
Indeed, we remember the long lines in Dwight Hall a little over a year ago during New Haven Solidarity Week, a five-day effort by two dozen undergraduate and graduate student groups to encourage Yalies to sign up for the ID program. Shalek was among the first in line to get his ID. So was his eventual successor, Rachel Plattus ’09.
Before the ID card program was passed, DeStefano summed up its meaning to this community. “If New Haven doesn’t stand up, who will stand up?” he asked. “In the end, this is about who we are as a city.”
Maybe Jones has come to recognize that over his three semesters at Yale; we certainly hope so.
What he called a “stupid” idea is one that many people in this community cherish as one of the Elm City’s most innovative public policies. So long as Jones is seeking to represent a district made up almost entirely by Yalies, he should tell voters what he thinks now, and when, why and how his mind was changed.
Jones needs to clarify his position on this critical issue. And he needs to do so publicly, as part of his campaign.