by user TQCincinnatus
The illegal immigration debate is becoming one of the new hot potatos in American politics. A highly charged emotional subject for many on both sides of the debate, I fear that this issue is threatening to move beyond the point where it can be discussed rationally without having the yahoos come out in force and scream at you mindlessly. I'd like to take this opportunity to put forth a call for sanity in the immigration discussion.
First, I'd like to address the folks on my own side - the Right. The vast majority of Mexicans and other Latinos are not here to "reconquer" the Southwest for Mexico (and even if they were, well, good luck with that). Most Mexicans are not here to cross a river, pop out an anchor baby, and collect a welfare check for the rest of their lives. Illegal immigration is not some massive conspiracy by the Mexican government to colonise the United States and turn us into a third-world nation. Please, let's dispense with the wild-eyed conspiracy theories and genuinely racist nonsense.
But, and this is addressed to the far more prevalent offences against reason committed by those on the Left, let us also dispense with the nonsense coming from the other side of the aisle. It's time to begin disputing and, if need be, disregarding the foolishness coming from radical illegal-immigration activists and their enablers in the American left.
To begin with - and this is foundational here and will be considered a truism - opposition to illegal immigration, in and of itself, is not racist. There are any number of good reasons to oppose illegal immigration which have nothing to do with the fact that Latinos happen to be the ones most often immigrating illegally to the United States. Theoretically, these would apply just as readily to Canadians or Australians who were entering this country illegally by the millions. So let's also learn to get around non-arguments like shouting "racism", and begin to address the issue like adults.
First and foremost, opposition to illegal immigration is necessary because it is, well, illegal. The United States is a sovereign nation. We have a right to determine who gets to be here, for how long, why they can be here, and in what way they obtain this privilege. Our borders exist for a reason. Our immigration policy should not be driven by the simple fact that foreign nationals want to be here. Their wishes in the matter ought to be considered only insomuch as we accede to allow them to come to our nation. The matter at issue here is the rule of law, something that I wish leftists would pay attention to at times other than just when they think Bushitler is fighting an "illegal war for oil in Iraq".
Illegal immigration acts as a depressor on the American wage scale. We often hear about "jobs most Americans won't do", but that's somewhat inaccurate. Picking lettuce or emptying trash cans are jobs most Americans would do - just not for $2.50 an hour. Illegal immigration acts to drag down earnings and sidesteps minimum wage laws because, if given a choice and lacking meaningful punitive threats, most employers would rather hire workers to do the same job for $2.50 an hour instead of fo $7.50 an hour. This is simple economics, but demonstrates the point where economic advantage runs afoul of the rule of law. Many times, illegal workers end up being misused - safety measures are ignored, wages kept low, even basic benefits like health or dental perks denied - because what is the worker going to do about it? Go complain to the authorities only to end up being deported? Ultimately, the credit for the seeking of humane treatment of people rests with those who oppose illegal immigration and whose efforts would help to end the rampant abuses by employers of illegal immigrants. The answer is not to ignore the problem, but to work to end illegal immigration and force those here illegally to return to their country of origin and come back the legal way. If this means increasing the quota of those we allow in from certain countries, that is fine - because that is our choice to make, as a sovereign nation.
And this brings up a question often raised by illegal immigration supporters - how can we reasonably even think of deporting 11 million (or 15 million, or 20 million) people back across the border? It simply can't be done, they say. Well, the answer is simply that it may not even need to be done. The better way to approach the matter is to, again, encourage respect for the law. Strong and rigourously applied punitive responses to businesses and business owners who hire illegal immigrants will work to shut off the supply of jobs available to those here illegally, and would act to encourage the large majority of these individuals to self-deport, and return with a legally-obtained work permit.
So what we see is that the issue can be dealt with fairly and in full accord with a respect for the rule of law. The measures taken may need to be strong, at least initially, since the problem is so deeply entrenched. But like other deeply-entrenched social evils that "society depends upon", such as slavery or segregation, this issue can be dealt with in a way that enforces the law and, if laws need to be changed, does so through the legally-established procedure.
I am certainly not against immigration. I am only against illegal immigration. My opposition to illegal immigration is not anti-Latino. Quite the opposite. I am fine with Latinos coming to this country legally - the same way that all the other immigrant groups came here before - and becoming contributing members of our society.
This brings me, however, to one last issue that needs to be dealt with in a mature fashion - that of the assimilation of Latinos who come to this country. We hear that calls for assimilation, again, are "racist". This is bilious rubbish. Every other group that immigrated to our nation - the Irish, the Italians, the Greeks, the Poles, the Russians, the Jews, the Ukrainians, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Nigerians, the Kenyans, and so on - have assimilated to our customs, learned our language, and sought to integrate themselves fully into the texture of America. This is because, when they came here and set out to become citizens, and after they obtained this wonderful goal, they did so fully intending to become Americans, not hyphenated Americans. America is somewhat unique in all the world in that our nationalism is not dependent upon race or religion or ethnicity. It is dependent upon an adherence to a certain set of ideological ideals and principles that define American capitalism, American republicanism, and American liberty - our economics, our government, and our underlying civic ethos. The beautiful thing about Americanism is that it can be adopted by anyone. Though this ideal has sometimes been applied less than evenly than it should have been, it nevertheless is the lofty goal that we have continued to advance towards. The exemplar of this creed was stated by Franklin D. Roosevelt on 3 Feb, 1943,
"No loyal citizen of the United States should be denied the democratic right to exercise the responsibilities of his citizenship, regardless of his ancestry. The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of the heart and mind. Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry."
By God, I agree. But for this to happen, assimilation to our creed is a paramount necessity. It is not "becoming an American" to only come to this country to make a lot of money to be sent back to Mexico. That is not "enjoying the American dream", for the American dream is, or at least used to be, a lot more than just getting materially wealthy. Becoming an American means adopting our shared culture, learning our shared language, acceding to our moral and ethical and philosophical ideals. Any group of people who voluntarily segregate themselves away from the mainstream of American civilisation and into a linguistic and cultural Balkan-state are not becoming Americans, no matter what their current geographical location might be.
This does not mean that I am calling for Latinos to divorce themselves from every aspect of their previous culture. If they wish to use Spanish in the home while also learning English, this is fine. In fact, their bilingual kids will have a leg up on the monolinguals when they go out into the "real world" of the workforce. If Latinos wish to enjoy their culture, their traditional foods, their traditional ways, that is fine. Personally, I think I'd be lost without good Mexican restaurants. But, the fact remains that this hanging onto the old must be coupled with an acceptance of the larger American cultural and ethos of the nation that has taken them in. This demand is not racist. It is common-sense, and is the only way that America will continue to be the greatest nation on earth, instead of a Balkanised and ethnically-driven multinational failure of a state like we see in so many places in Europe and Africa.