Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration vs. Breakin’ the Law

So the country’s gone a little nuts in recent weeks. Activist groups are turning out the masses to protest a lot of different things regarding immigration and/or breakin’ the law. The Republican controlled Congress doesn't know what it wants to do, and Democrats aren’t really helping matters either. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has declared itself defiant of U.S law, joining the City of San Francisco in the current rebellion. Why is it so hard to get some coherency out of this mess (despite the usual reasons)? Well, on the political side, many immigrants who get here illegally are family with immigrants who are here legally. That means cracking down on the law-breaking variety = making the voting variety angry. On the religious side there is the Christian call to charity (which I’m all about), but it also helps when those warm bodies fill pews and collection plates on Sunday morning. Then of course, you have the left-left (this country was built from immigrants, people who oppose immigrants of any variety are racists, & we should give California back to Mexico et al) and the right-right (these people work for slave wages, undercut minimum wage and labor laws, won’t sue for sexual harassment or workers comp & do jobs that ‘Americans won’t do’) on the same-same side: let everybody in.

I guess that leaves us down here in the land of really-real to figure it out, hunh?

Glenn Reynolds, has been all over this issue. He brings us letters from legal immigrants to America (and most of them are none too happy with the illegal variety). He also makes a modest proposal that the United States go ahead and annex Mexico (or at least force them to reform their government to grow their economy). Today, he interviewed US Rep Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) and wrote a very good article about how neither Party has consensus on the illegal immigration issue. (Your own humble blogsite, hurricane_radio, did an article on Rep Ford Jr. here.)

One of my favorite commentators, Fareed Zakaria, talks about his own (legal) immigration story, and how Europe’s guest worker program and failure to assimilate immigrants led to discord in Europe.

Athens Politics has a rather long point by point on the issue of immigration, and Safe As Houses tackles some of the issue’s complexities.

DADvocate goes after the issue here and takes on Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass) rhetoric.

My take on the situation?

1. There is a difference between being anti-immigrant and anti-law breaker. I am all for immigration. I don’t like many law-breakers.

2. I am all for Christian & charitable organizations helping the poor, no matter if they are law breakers or not. That’s what the big guy asked us to do, and if feeding the hungry is aiding and abetting, we’re in trouble.

3. This country was built from immigrants in a very, very messy past.
Most of the concern from Americans about immigrants has very little to do with race. There are some exceptions, but for the most part we are worried about the law & national security. Economy comes in second.

4. If we gave California et al back to Mexico, we’ll be dealing with this same problem in 20 years in Oklahoma and Kansas (-Glenn Reynolds). If all these illegal workers are such hard workers, why isn’t Mexico a world economic power? (-Bill Maher) Oh yeah, because the Mexican government and ruling classes can get away with it. Why don’t these folks in the streets go down and protest in Mexico City instead of Los Angeles?

5. Instead, people are protesting in the streets of Los Angeles for the right to be paid slave wages, with no benefits, with no rights for ‘jobs Americans don’t want (to be paid $2 an hour for).’ Boy, that will help them out in the long run.

6. The only people who truly benefit from illegal immigration are bosses who hire folks for slave wages, and who get to undercut US Labor Laws. They get to pay next to nothing for hard work, and the legal taxpayers front most of the cash to send the worker’s kids to school and to the hospital.

7. I don’t blame illegals for coming here. It is a better life than they have at home.

8. I don’t blame businesses for hiring illegals, everybody else is doing it, why can’t we?

9. I do blame the IRS and Departments of Labor for NOT enforcing the laws of the land upon the businesses who hire folks illegally. Businesses are NOT above the law.

We should give ever business six months to prove that all their workers are legally here and submitting payroll taxes appropriately. After that, these folks who break the law by hiring illegals should be thrown in jail. We have to force Mexico to reform the way their country is run. We should invest in South American nations so their economy isn’t based off oil and cocaine. We also need to streamline the legal procedures for immigration, and open the immigration quotas. All of these things can be done, and all will work more positively to solve this problem than any half – assed guest worker program or amnesty.

My $0.02


Laddi said...

My thoughts on immigration:

1) The US should close the provision of citizenship by birth to children born of parent(s) who, at the very least, are not permanent resident(s). Why should we continue to allow citizenship to the descendents while the parents aren't even legal aliens?

2) It does bother me when families come to the US and expect the citizens here to accommodate them when they choose not to learn English and shelter themselves in a community where they do not even need to learn English. Yes, I'm talking against my very own grandparents. Being the grandson of a hard-working grandfather who couldn't speak much English, it pained me that conversation was difficult. Yes, I eventually learned some Spanish, but that I *had* to in order to converse was saddening in some respects.

Imagine someone coming into your house, not signing a lease, finding a room, bringing in family and friends, and then say you can only speak German pig latin when you're in there. That's how some communities are.

Fortunately, my grandparents made sure my mom would learn English, but there are parents still out there who demand that their kids speak their native tongue at home, while they themselves (and this is the important part) do not making any real effort to become fluent in English. You have to make an effort to assimilate to the country. Some do and a lot don't.

3) I wonder what businesses will do if/when more illegal aliens do become documented and therefore are protected by work force laws. Will they try to coerce aliens not be become documented or else be fired? Will some not choose documentation for fear of not being able to work? Just some thoughts.

dadvocate said...

Good post.

Laddi's first point is excellent.

I put the blame squarely on the Federal Government, especially Congress, the people pretending they're going to fix the problem. There's an old saying: the problem is the solution (or is it the solution is the problem?). In this case it's painfully true. The problem is our elected Federal legislators. We need to clean House and Senate.

I'll be attacking John McCain later tonight. Gotta spread the wealth.

patsbrother said...

Laddi's first point is terrible.
First, it's part of the Constitution. (dadvocate: I don't see how that is our elected representatives' "fault"; while I would like to hold them responsible for things being passed now, I'm not too keen on holding them accountable for something written in 1789. Holding them accountable to that document, however, I am all about.)
Second, it is a remarkably easy way to determine who is and who is not an American. Should parents bring signed documentation and two witnesses with them to the maternity ward? Proof of residency and greencard? What you suggest is to use a missle to strike at a mouse (as the late Justice Blackmun once said).
That myth that a Mexican woman simply needs to run across the border, birth a baby, and wham, bam, thank you ma'am, all is free - is anecdotal, largely incorrect, and not a significant problem. No changey changey the constitution unless really real changey changey required.

Laddi's second point is kinda okay, and kinda not.
First, you seem most miffed that you *had* to learn some Spanish to speak to your grandfather in his own home. Not to impose a hardship, but: la pauvre babet. If, weighing his options, your grandfather decided whatever language barriers he faced were not important enough to learn a second language, then that was his decision. We shouldn't base immigration policy on familial tensions that may or may not ensue.
Second, the accomodations expected don't appear to be that great here in the South. I'm not even sure what they are. If you are referring to the necessity of an interpreter in a legal proceeding, that is not just an accomodation for the Spanish-speaker, but is in the interest of the State and falls within our notions of substantial justice: how are you going to hold someone accountable for a judgment he cannot understand?
However, rest assured there is reciprocity. Anytime an American goes anywhere in the world, you best believe they expect to be accomodated. Honestly, how many sorority girls can speak Spanish on spring break? Yo quiera tequila?

patsbrother said...

And pat: why entertain the left-field notion to give California back enough to provide reasons not to do it?

No addressing fake concerns; it makes it look like you think it's real.

War on Christmas, anyone? Anyone?

Patrick Armstrong said...

Bro., 11 million folks here illegally can create a whole lot of legal American citizens. I think Laddi's point is a pretty good one. Though I think the Constitution is pretty much sacrosanct, I do not think it is a bad idea to bring the ramification of these demographics into discussion.

I can't speak for DADvocate, but as I followed this thread, the blame we are laying on the legislators and government is the non-enforcement of our current immigration laws and labor laws that demand businesses hire and extract payroll taxes from workers. You can't legally hire illegal workers in this country. Enforcement agencies are turning a blind eye. That has nothing to do with the founding fathers.

And third, there are really people in those rallies, and intelligencia on TV, that validate illegal immigration by saying that the Southwest was stolen from Mexico by the United States. That is not a manufactured position designed to scare middle America, that is a real position that is advocated as a possible policy justification.

ruby booth said...

Kevin, if you don't mind, when you say something is in the Constitution, could you give chapter and verse? I'd be much obliged.

And, Pat, it's a flagrant lie that you don't like many law breakers. Y'all are drunk and disorderly more than any other folks i know.

Laddi said...

patsb: "First, it's part of the Constitution."

Yes, and so were several other things that have been changed or completely voided.

"you seem most miffed that you *had* to learn some Spanish to speak to your grandfather in his own home."

No, he mostly came to our home. It was cheaper to fly two of them down to our house than five of us up to theirs. That aside, I wasn't miffed, I was saddened by it. When I did visit them much later, I didn't expect special treatment and I had learned enough to get by because I knew I had to. More importantly, I wasn't LIVING there and expecting they learn fluent English for me.

"Anytime an American goes anywhere in the world, you best believe they expect to be accomodated."

I agree Americans do, but that doesn't make it right. I wouldn't expect to move to Italy, never learn the language, and then request special accomodations of their citizens because I didn't put forth the effort to at the least learn the language. I must make an effort, real'y effort, and there are many immigrants here who don't but expect the entire US to change because of that poor choice.

patsbrother said...

Please call me out more often. Even though I've already had Prof. Dupre's class it seems I still don't know not to rely on what I think the law is. (She would also disdain that double negative.) Hopefully, with your aid, that urge will be purged by 2008.

Apparently the unamended Constitution does not mention what qualifies one as a citizen (as I heavily implied it did). That honor falls to Sec. 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

In the future I shall endeavor to check my constitutional sources before I presume them.


Re: Natural Born Citizens

If a child is a natural born citizen, he gets an SSN. You have a problem with documentation?

As to the idea that if a babe is born north of the border, the rest of the family gets in free: if this is your concern, you are worried about a layaway plan. I have it on very good authority (from a local immigration lawyer who spoke at the Catholic Center), that once the child turns 18 he can request to bring family up, but not before. There are some concessions I am unable to recall, but it does not comport with the idea of the Welfare Regina.

Legal citizenship through naturalization is not the concern here, nor is it a problem: illegal immigration is. You are seeking to rename a byproduct of a problem as a way to remedy the problem.

And if you succeed? Really, all repealing that part of the Constitution would do would be to create a perpetuating underclass of people without a nation. Is that an effective way to get people to play ball?