David Bennion: May 2011 Archives

The 2011 Citizens Medal will recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals who meet the criteria listed at the bottom of this post. Nominations must be received by Monday, May 30, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

I nominated Mohammad Abdollahi, co-founder of Dreamactivist.org and DreamIsComing and undocumented activist. Here is the application I submitted tonight:

Explain why your nominee should receive the Citizens Medal based on the criteria outlined here:

Mo has a demonstrated commitment to service in his community. He co-founded Dreamactivist.org and has helped stop the deportations of dozens of other undocumented Americans through peaceful organizing.

Mo helped his country through extraordinary acts. He helped organize and was one of the participants in the first civil disobedience action carried out by undocumented activists in the United States who had no previous contact with immigration enforcement, at Senator McCain's Tucson office in May 2010. He then continued to organize further actions, along with other committed undocumented and citizen activists, to motivate elected officials to move the DREAM Act forward in 2010.

Mo's service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. The current immigration laws penalize those brought here as children, Americans in all but name, and mandate their exile. Elected officials have not found the courage to address this problem, so undocumented youth like Mo have taken responsibility for their own futures.

"Economists are supposed to be good at reckoning costs and benefits. But more often than not, economists with no clue about how the legal system actually functions, simply assume that the transaction costs of the legal system are slight. They see a system that has been around for hundreds of years, and they assume it works the way their elementary school civics class taught them it works.

But the legal system doesn't work. Or more accurately, it doesn't work for anyone except those with the most resources. Not because the system is corrupt. I don't think our legal system (at the federal level, at least) is at all corrupt. I mean simply because the costs of our legal system are so astonishingly high that justice can practically never be done."

--Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture, Penguin 2004, pp. 304-05.