It seems all anyone can talk about these days, and everyone has a decidedly strong opinion about it, both the native-born, the legal immigrants, and the illegals themselves, of course. A dear friend of mine recently sent around an email which, to nutshell it, said "email your senators to stop amnesty for the illegals--if you disagree with this position, just delete this email."
Of course, most people who know me know that the way to get me to share an opinion is to tell me not to share an opinion...
Not to worry, my friend and I disagree on much, and like everything else in our lives, we will agree to disagree and remain good friends...
I don't know if most Americans can agree to disagree, though...
Recently, while perusing some of the hot sites where the left- and right-wing bash it out, a commenter had this to say in regards to the illegal immigration debate:
Cute, I'll admit it. But what is it communicating? That we, as the all-American Farmer Bob's, feel that something precious is being taken from us by the foxes, or illegal immigrants, as the case may be. We feel that we are being taken advantage of, stolen from, robbed of something quintessentially reserved for us, the Americans. We, who have had the luxury of being born here, and even those whom we have conferred "legal" status upon, are being victimized by the illegal immigrants who haven't had the insane luck-of-the-draw, whether by nature's whim or our government's...
In other news, 86% of foxes claimed that tightening security at the hen house was "anti-fox" and "troubling," and called on Farmer Bob to consider the dietary needs of the fox community.
And we want to protect it.
Of course, we must begin by asking, "What is being robbed? What is being taken away from the legal residents?" What is it that we, as Americans, must protect against the illegals? A great deal of the arguments put forth sound something like this email I received--so we will deal with this email point-by-point until we get to the root of what is causing this tremendous strain on the current American psyche.
Okay, so we're starting off with a sense of "fairness," a sense of "This is how it works, and it is inherently fair, but you broke through the line, breaking the rules." Which, of course, means we need to take a look at the current policy for getting into our country and becoming a citizen: Is it really fair? Current law in a nutshell is thus:
Many Americans are outraged by the idea of rewarding criminals by allowing them to keep what they took. While hundreds of thousands of people around the world patiently await permission to come to this country, or go home when their visas expire, illegals decided the rules didn't apply to them. Allowing them to become permanent residents violates our sense of fair play almost as much as it violates our laws. We're assured that they will be at the "back of the line" for citizenship... but that line is supposed to form on the other side of the border.
So we must ask ourselves--is it inherently fair to make married couples separate for years on end simply to get into the country legally? I think most of us would agree that this system is broken, and needs to be fixed. Does this mean it should be okay to enter illegally? Perhaps not, but if it were you, would you want to live apart from your spouse and children for upwards of five years all the while wondering if it would even come through? To get that close to living the so-called American dream only to find out--five years later--that the system has lost your paperwork, denied your form, or simply already met their quote for Argentine's or Romanian's? I don't think so. Of course, the current bill (which the Senate has refused to pass again) would go along way toward fixing these issues in the waiting lines for legal access, but no one seems to want to talk about that little tidbit. But we're moving on to the next portion of the email.
Many legal permanent residents (green card holders) are currently living in the United States, separated from their spouses and children. They are waiting for their I-130 petitions (immigration application for spouse and minor children) to be approved. Statutory numerical limitations on available visas, coupled with immigration backlogs and bureaucratic delays, causes waiting times of 5 years or more. During this long wait, the foreign resident spouse and young children are not allowed to enter the United States, even for a brief visit. The permanent residents, on the other hand, must reside predominantly in the United States and thus the web of US immigration laws ruthlessly separates married couples from each other and from young children. (Source.)
I suppose that's a fair assumption. I mean, who wants to reward a criminal? But what is this reward? Well, ultimately, that nice catchy phrase "a path to citizenship" comes to mind, but it's not an immediate citizenship that's being offered, and no one should mistake that it is in any way an "amnesty" of any kind. The illegal immigrants would have to:
We're unhappy about rewarding criminal behavior.
So how many of you have almost $6,000 sitting around and about 10 years of patience? But we'll call it amnesty, yeah, why not? I know if it were me, I'd still have no chance of becoming legal! How many of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, just trying to make ends meet? Now think of someone here illegally--how in the hell are they supposed to have saved up all that money? Most of them are paid less than minimum wage, seasonally out west, and have an even harder time making ends meet due to their illegal status. They cannot use most social services for fear of being "outed" as illegal, hide in the shadows and hope that this country--the supposed country of opportunity that is as we speak decrying them as evil un-American money-grubbers--will provide their children with a better life than the country they left behind, which had no employment opportunities, towns and cities run by drug lords with permission of the corrupt government, no food or decent water, and no hope of education, work, or a better life... But, yes, expecting them to pay the fines which will enforce the border, expecting them to go home and wait in line behind everyone else already in line, and giving them a chance to grab the dream so many of us have by default--that's amnesty, right, yeah...
Illegal Workers Already Here Must Come Forward And Pay A Fine. In order to obtain a Z visa granting temporary legal status, workers in the country before January 1, 2007, must come forward, pay a $1,000 fine, pass criminal background checks, remain employed, and maintain a clean record.
Z Visa Workers Must Pay An Additional Fine, Learn English, And Meet Other Requirements To Apply For A Green Card, And Cannot Receive One Until Years In The Future. Z visa workers must apply at the back of the line and wait until the current backlog is cleared, pay an additional $4,000 fine, complete accelerated English and civics requirements, maintain employment, leave the U.S. to file their application, and compete in the merit system based on the skills and attributes they will bring to the United States.
Satisfying The Requirements In The Bill Will Take Most Green Card Applicants More Than A Decade.
The bill declares that English is the national language of the United States and calls on the United States Government to preserve and enhance it. (As a side note of my own, you would think conservatives would be all about this bill for this provision alone!) It also enacts accelerated English requirements for many immigrants. In addition, the DHS Office of Citizenship will be expanded to include coordinating assimilation efforts in its mission, and the Secretary of Education will make an English instruction program available for free over the Internet.
But even if we did say, "You know what? That's a small price to pay, it still falls under amnesty." So what? As Ted Kennedy is fond of saying, what are the alternatives? If you seriously believe rounding them all up and shipping them out is a good idea, you're certainly dumber than the tons of crops a lot of illegals pick for us to eat at dinner every day. Not only that, but granting them citizenship will mean they get health benefits, a decent wage for their labor, and contribute even more to our economy, our livelihoods, our culture--which, dare I remind everyone, is nothing more than an amalgamation of several fused together in what was once referred to as "the melting pot" of the world... God forbid we add some salsa to the mix, eh?
Regardless of how you feel, let's continue with the email--as always, you can share your thoughts in the comments section below...
I think it is noble that one should so badly want to work for a living and provide for their families that they would risk death to achieve a glimmer of that hope! And so what if "money" is the motivation? When was the last time you fed your family with pretty-colored rocks? The money isn't the goal--the providing for yourself and family is, and money is the vehicle that makes that happen. And where's the money? Yes, in America. What do we expect people to do when we brag about how awesome it is here, yet make people wait upwards of five years APART from their families with a system that's not only broken, but underfunded and under-enforced? If it meant feeding my family, having health care for my family, a JOB, I'd sneak across the border myself!
We're told that these illegals should be honored because they wanted to become Americans so badly that many of them risked death to come here. (We'll just ignore the fact that money was probably the real motivation for most of them.)
But, back to the email:
I think this snippet of an article from TIME magazine speaks about this "argument" best:
But becoming American must include showing some regard for American sovereignty, and American laws. Those who deliberately crossed our borders illegally or overstayed their visas did not show that respect.
So... have you jay-walked lately? Went over the speed limit? Rolled through a stop sign? You have NO RESPECT for American law and must be DEPORTED! (See how silly that sounds?) Perhaps comparing illegal immigration to jay-walking is a bit of a stretch, but it isn't much of one--most Americans have more stretch in their boxers than the argument itself. Many people break our "sovereign" laws every day--some pay a price, some get a warning, others--well, the courts just say, "You made a mistake, move on," and some don't get caught at all... Has our country fallen yet? No? Hmm... Much like gay marriage hasn't ruined straight marriages around the globe, let alone in Massachusetts, granting citizenship to the millions of illegals here won't ruin the country, the American dream, or your pretty lawns...
Google "this is a nation of laws," and you'll find a thousand online Cassandras warning that our failure to prosecute illegals is an invitation to anarchy. They are right about the U.S. being a nation of laws. But our legal system is not a house of cards, one flick away from collapse. U.S. jurisprudence has in fact always been a series of hedged bets, weighing the potential harm of a violation against the costs of enforcement. That's why people get arrested for assault but not for jaywalking. It's time to think seriously about exactly where the act of illegal immigration lies in the spectrum of criminality. Consider the complicity of U.S. employers ranging from multinational corporations to suburbanites looking for gardeners. Factor in the mixed signals that lax law enforcement sent to would-be immigrants throughout the '80s and '90s, and the crime should rank as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Even if we step up border enforcement in the future — as we should — it is true that for a long time, crossing the Rio Grande was akin more to jaywalking than breaking and entering.
Sure, there is a very real national-security threat in having a porous border. But a large — if unquantifiable — percentage of the people crossing that line illegally are not newcomers but rather people who have already established lives in the U.S. and would qualify for amnesty. If they were legalized and free to circulate, we could concentrate on the serious criminals and terrorists crossing the border, not a worker going back to his family.
In Beardstown, amnesty would also help authorities tackle crime. Right now, they spend a lot of their energy sorting out who is who in the community because illegals present local police with a bewildering maze of identities. The illegals of Beardstown work under one name and go to church under another. Parents give their kindergartners fake names to use in school. "We are absolutely unable to identify our own people," says Walters. It sounds counter intuitive, but with immigration, forgiving a crime may be the best way to restore law and order. (Source.)
Back to the email:
All of which means what? That they are paying into social security, medicare, medicaid, and a host of other social programs. And most of them will never even get a chance to use any of the services they've paid into--because of their illegal status. You may be thinking, "Serves them right," but to me, that's more un-American than someone wanting to come in to work and provide for their family when unable to do so back home... Yes, they get false ID's so they can continue to work. Part of those fines we mentioned earlier will go toward improving the ID system, the border, and the underground identity-theft rings which in part enslave and promote more illegal alien activity...
Many ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS falsify records and documents on a daily basis, supply false Social Security numbers to employers, and lie to obtain drivers' licenses, credit cards and other documents.
You also might be interested in a little law passed back in '96 called "IIRAIRA"; it restricts the receipt of most public benefits by all undocumented immigrants as well as many classes of LEGAL immigrants. It's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that local services are usually paid for out of property tax, sales tax, and income tax. It's my understanding that these types of taxes get paid for by consumers of housing, clothing, food, services, etc. (i.e. people who spend money in the local economy). Kind of hard to avoid those taxes when you have to live, eat, and work at the ol' job site, eh? So I think that working immigrants contribute their fair share for those services as well.
It really all comes down to what's being debated all over the place--"we don't like those strange, short, dark, hairy people who have a million kids, put their last names on their windshields, drive Cutlass Sierras with ugly chrome wheels, playing loud silly music at all hours of the day. They are offensive to our perceived way of life and our perceived notion of what America should be."
Read the fine print ladies and gents, the contract with America didn't say that only Anglo-Saxon, Protestants were welcome, nor did it say that only the native born could get a job at Burger King. It said you are free to make a living. That's what the people who are already here want to do, so let 'em do it already.
And me waving an Irish flag and a button saying "Kiss Me--I'm Irish" certainly doesn't make me seem more American, does it? So they're proud of their heritage and are rightfully asserting that they were here first--so what? Are you that fearful that California is about to revert to Mexico? Get a reality check, people. California is ours. Sure, I wouldn't call it the best PR move on the part of the protesters, and yes--the whole "we were here first" argument is a moot point... Are you really arguing that they cannot become citizens because of waving a flag that represents their heritage? Maybe I'm not reading enough into it, but maybe you all are reading too much...
Moreover, those hundreds of thousands who marched protesting law enforcement waving Mexican flags and holding signs saying "This is our continent not yours" didn't appear to want to become Americans, did they? Why should we reward them for that?
Finally! Something I can agree with! The guest-worker program will create a second-class status of employees, one that isn't fair, isn't right, and isn't in the best interests of anyone. That's why we made laws to protect workers--to prevent abuse by corporations and companies that worship the almighty dollar more than human life... And I was so happy to read about this tidbit with which I agreed that I almost missed the reasoning after it:
We don't like the idea of creating a huge permanent underclass of low-level workers, either.
So... wait... Now we shouldn't make them legal because they'll get treated respectably? That they'll also be able to have a voice, and speak against an abusive system which mistreats them? Excuse me?? And who was just bitching about the "monetary" motivation of the illegal immigrants? So our taxes may go up--I don't see how that logic works when we've just added all these new tax-payers to the system. And this competition for the blue-collar jobs won't last--you've just said yourself that the new legal workers will demand better pay, better working conditions, better benefits... So how is this bad for blue-collar workers everywhere? The fact is, companies will have to pony up--and yes, some will end up going out of business. Fair markets have a way of shutting down those who can't compete... And if businesses can no longer abuse employees because they can't claim legal status, companies will have to pay more or suffer a shortage of willing legal workers... For once, it would be nice to get one of these forwards that didn't have the blatant hypocrisy and double-talk...
Once granted legal status, all those people doing "jobs Americans won't do" won't want to do them either -- not at the low wages they're currently paid. They'll want better jobs, with better pay. Prices for agricultural products and construction will rise as employers are forced to pay minimum wage, but that's not the worst effect of a mass legalisation. Competition for available jobs in other areas will rise sharply. Competition for many blue-collar jobs will force wages to dip towards minimum wage level, creating a sharper division between blue-collar and white-collar workers, or lower class and middle class. Unemployment and entitlements will rise, and taxes will follow.
Does anyone see a politicizing tone entering here? No why, why, why does something tell me a right-winger started this moronic email? Hmm.... Let me see... First, the illegals are nasty workers who take advantage of our system by not playing fair... Then they steal your job, until they become legal, and then they still take your jobs, demand fair treatment, and depress your wages because now they are paid more due to their legal status... And now, it allows the evil Democrats a "windfall" victory... The logic is truly mind-boggling...
Class warfare and envy politics fueled by racial divisions -- the staples of Democratic campaigns -- will escalate, granting the Democrats a huge vote windfall for many years to come.
And now we stoop to outright lies... How long has this been languishing, over-ammended, and over-discussed? Too long, which has allowed people to try to take the teeth out of the bill, try to add "punishment" to the bill for the illegals, try to stall actually doing something all to protect the poor Americans just trying to eat their Taco Bell in peace... Please...
The fact that so many Republicans (including the President himself) are willing to sign the death warrant of their own party is amazing.
Many people are unhappy about this bill because of the way members of Congress and the President tried to shove it through the Senate quickly, without time for the bill to be amended before debate.
Oh my god, a whole month!! Perish the thought!! This just speaks of the ignorance so many people have about how this country works...
The Bill was introduced on Thursday 17 May, and a vote to open debate on the final version was scheduled for Monday 21 June.
Email: Blah, blah, blah, skippin the lies... Ah, back to something approaching a modest argument:
Yes, blame the liberals... Don't get me wrong--this whole "multiculturalism" thing has it's failings, but mostly through poor follow-through, not in the general idea in and of itself... But are we really trying to say that trying to appreciate diversity is a reason to deport or reject citizenship for people who, and here's the clincher, come to America and find a way to become citizens? Is "multiculturalism" really to blame for people wanting to come here to work and provide for their families? If you can't see how much of a lame-duck this argument is, you need more help than I could give you.
Thanks to Liberal "multiculturalism," many of those people will never integrate into American society. It's like a home invasion on a massive scale, while the government's response is to tell us we just have to live with our new housemates.
And, here's another clue: Most of the immigrants, legal or not, assimilate just fine. Like all of the other of millions of immigrants that have come here to live in freedom and prosperity, the first generation has the most difficult time. The children are usually bilingual, and by the time the grandchildren and great grandchildren come along, they can't understand their grandparents' native language--but they can tell you who's on the Top 40, the next movie that's coming out that they're dying to see, and are thinking about all things most dinstinctly American--what they want to be when they grow up, and how best to achieve that dream. Immigrants aren't stupid--they know the way to succeed in America is to learn the language. The issue here isn't whether or not they'll assimilate--it's how long we're willing to wait. The influx is massive right now--many of the immigrants we see are first and second-generation, and therefore scare us with their foreign talk, their foreign diets, their foreign customs, their foreign whatever. And we all know how much people hate change; so the Americans say they should assimilate faster in our on-demand economy, and the immigrants find comfort in their traditions and customs from home as they wade through this new land of new and wonderful opportunities not available at home... They will assimilate, just not as fast as Apple can come out with a new I-dohicky...
Part of the bill necessitates that the border be secure before the Z visa program takes effect, as well as the fact that all the fines we'll be making them pay as retribution go toward finding new technologies and hiring more border security to keep the border secure. I think it should also be mentioned at this point that there will always be a number of "illegals" in the country--where there's a will, there's a way, you know. And the day we stop having immigrants wanting to be here--there'll be more to worry about than our precious border...
And the border fence that was mandated in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 is still not built, which means that in another decade or so, we'll have to go through all of this again.
Before we decide what to do about the estimated 12-20 million illegal immigrants in this country, we have got to ensure that it's the last time we have to deal with the problem.
Funny... 1986, 1986... Who was president then? Oh, that's rght, the I-can-do-know-wrong, he's-our-god Reagan... One wonders why you never hear about this little "issue" when all the Republican nominees are raising their hands, saying how we need to get back to our "Reagan" values and teach ID in our schools...
Back in 1986, we were told that we would have real border security, in exchange for a one-time amnesty. Well, the politicians got their one-time amnesty. Now, we want our security.
"Securing the border," as quasi-safe-sounding as that may seem, won't stop a terrorist from blowing up what he wants to blow up. Does that mean we shouldn't try? Not necessarily, but beefing up security only does so much, only goes so far. Building a wall will not only NOT secure the country, but make you feel more vulnerable when you realize that walls can be knocked down. Then what's next? The computer chips implanted in your brain so nanny government can make you feel "secure" by knowing where everyone is, all the time? You want security? Build yourself a bomb shelter. You want freedom? Deal with the others who want the same thing. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
What we need to keep in mind is that 99% of the human beings that are coing across our borders want nothing more than an opportuinty to work, provide for the families, and make a better life for themselves. They don't come across the border thinking, "I'll get them all to speak Spanish! You'll see, Paco!" You all act like getting a job is some kind of free lunch program--it's a job and a better life they seek, the same things that Americans seem to want to hoard and prevent others from having. Why do Americans feel that the "American lifestyle" is their exclusive province, and that not everyone should have the opportunity to work and prosper? Why do certain Americans feel that they own so-called "American" jobs? Isn't this the same sense of entitlement that everyone blames these immigrants of having?
Somewhere along the way, we stopped saying "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" and started saying, "Wait! I mean, there won't be enough freedom to go around! Send us only your educated, your rocket scientists, and nobody who looks Middle Eastern!" The land of the free is becoming the "land of the elite," and not because of our high ideals...
It's a pretty simple choice really. Work moving bricks around a construction site in Tijuana and get paid $2 a day or do the same work in San Diego for $8 an hour. You tell me which life you want to pick for yourself. 8 bucks a day and social activism on the side to improve the nation? 60 bucks a day and the American apolitical lifestyle with cable TV at night? Tough call, truly...