For decades, America's position, with respect to its immigration policies with our neighbor Mexico, was dictated by pragmatism, and tacit neglect. Our agricultural economy in the border states depended to a significant degree on so-called "stoop labor"--among the most grueling kinds of work there is--which the Mexican peasantry class was more than willing to perform, for what in America was "dirt cheap" piece-work wages. It wasn't possible to live decently in the States on income from farm labor, so these nomadic "seasonal" laborers (frequently in family groups) went back to Mexico when there was no work on the farms. It was a loose arrangement, and no one--the farmers, the Mexicans, or the rest of the population--worried too much about it. A few scofflaws melted into the domestic economy, but the numbers were small.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Controlling the Debate on Illegal Immigration
Controlling the terms of argument is paramount for any partisan advocate in public debate.
All that changed over the last 25 years. Federal census figures show that the number of illegal immigrants coming into and staying in the United States has been on a steep steady rise over the last three decades. Estimates of the current illegal population (comprised primarily of Mexicans and certain other Central and South American groups), put the current number somewhere between 14 and 30 million.
In the 1960's, political advocacy "on behalf of" illegals began to lobby for improvements in work conditions, and liberalization of immigration procedures and policies governing seasonal workers. In the intervening years, however, the situation has dramatically changed. What was once a seasonal phenomenon has grown into a surge. Instead of being limited to agriculture, illegal foreigners have moved into the general economy, taking jobs in the hotel and motel industries, the building trades, factories, transportation and shipping, and the general retail businesses. This employment pressure has been driven by poverty and neglect in Mexico and other poor countries.
As the problem has grown, and the number of illegals arriving and staying has mushroomed, the debate over how to define the problem has sharpened. Advocates of lax immigration policy have attempted to frame the debate in terms of "racism" or "ethnic prejudice." They have tried to make it seem that any attempt to control borders, enforce legal residency and work status in America is motivated by a generalized racial hatred of Latinos (the general "ethnic" catchword for all Hispanic nationals) and their culture. All attempts to address the problems created by mass illegal immigration are met with organized propaganda on behalf of Latino Rights organizations.
In the the general media, "sympathy" for this position has become politically correct. "Multi-cultural diversity"--the new phrase meant to represent the American melting pot--dictates that we all come from different places, different cultures, and that the classic American policy should always be tolerance in the face of "difference."
But there are limits to how much tolerance any nation can afford. America has immigration policies, which are based on estimates of how many people the economy and infrastructure can reasonably absorb. Almost everyone is in agreement that excess (illegal) immigration has swelled well past the logical limits anyone might consider to be acceptable.
Public opinion polls consistently show that the vast majority of American citizens want stricter enforcement of our immigration policies, and better control of our borders. But anyone raising the spectre of actual enforcement is immediately labeled as racist and white supremacist.
In the news today, San Francisco District Attorney, who is running for State Attorney General, was exposed for allowing illegal immigrant drug criminals to expunge their criminal convictions and go scot free on her watch. The City of San Francisco has set itself up as a "sanctuary city," presumably allowing illegals to reside free of interference, and refusing to cooperate with Federal agencies attempting to enforce immigration law and policy.
In the present atmosphere of strained state and federal budgets, it's difficult to make reasonable arguments about our ability to continue to tolerate the costs and inconveniences which illegals place on our economy, infrasture, and governmental departments. And yet this is what we keep hearing. Like the little puppy stuck in the sewer pipe, we hear about midnight raids on innocent little Latino families, screaming babies and distraught relatives, haggard ragtag groups dying along the desert border desperately seeking "the American dream", fruit-pickers living in shacks, etc.
These images are designed to elicit sympathy and to frame the discussion in terms of needy poor who deserve only sympathy and help, who have been victimized by unfair regulation.
Rather than seeking to address the root causes of this social distress, advocates of illegal immigration prefer us to think only of "solutions." Their solutions include open borders, no national immigration quotas, unqualified amnesty, quick paths to citizenship, multi-lingual schools and institutions, free medical, legal and social welfare benefits, and relaxation of all restriction upon trade, employment and residency.
Instituting these "solutions" would result in what has been referred to as the "re-Mexicanization" of the American Southwest. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah and Colorado would be overrun within a decade. Los Angeles would become a new Mexico City. Sprawling tracts of shack and tent cities, millions of poor, uneducated, unhealthy streaming northwards to escape the deprivations of their homeland.
All this of course would play directly into the corrupt hands of the Mexican government, which is delighted to have its excess poor leave. It would like nothing more than to have America take on this unwanted burden.
So it goes. America is the land of opportunity, the land of dreams where all who are hungry, unemployed, politically forsaken, must come. Woe be to him who would challenge the new "diaspora."
We're all racists. Or at least that's what the media calls us.
The immigrant lobby has succeeded admirably in framing the debate by demonizing their opponents as racist.
Are you a racist? Is it racist to want to control immigration? Would it matter to you if illegals were Irish, or Chinese, or African, or Australian?
If someone suggested that America immediately absorb 30 million African nationals, would you reject this notion on racist grounds?
If someone suggested that we immediately import 30 million Filipino immigrants, how would you defend your right to deny them?
Are you a racist?