Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ever Onward

The Blogging Curmudgeon has an excellent post about yesterday's march in LA and elsewhere over U.S. Immigration policy. In Political Earthquake Hits Los Angeles: 500,000 March to Protest Immigration "Reform", he noted:

The truest Americans . . . appear to be Latino immigrants. Half a million of them marched in Los Angeles on March 26, 2006 in a "demonstration that may have contained Spanish chants "Si, se puede!", which means, "Yes, we can!" but was American in its heart. The march, which was larger than demonstrations against the Vietnam War and Gulf War II, was quintessentially American: people taking to the streets to petition their government for a redress of grievances. As I watched the sea of people move through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, I thought, These people deserve to be Americans--they have the courage that made the country great.

Explaining his change of heart on the immigration issue, the Curmudgeon (love that name) recalled that we are a nation of immigrants. Also, like those who came before us, these immigrants have the incentive and courage to make this country a better place. We should welcome, not ban, those who come to find a better life. Isn't that what brought our own ancestors here? How can we close our borders when our country was founded on the concept of being open to all?

Perhaps those who aren't happy with the concept can go back to their country of origin, free up space for others and infuse some new blood and ideas into the country. For example, the congressman from Colorado, Tom Tamcredo, is one of those leading the xenophobic charge in Congress, having said that illegal aliens "are 'a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation,' he says. He laments 'the cult of multiculturalism,' and worries about America's becoming a 'Tower of Babel.'" This from a man whose grandparents, like mine, immigrated from Italy at a time when citizenship was more easily had. However, unlike me, he seems to have forgotten his more humble beginnings in his zealous campaign to close the door to America for those who were not as fortunate as he to come here sooner.

Paul Krugman of the NYT, has a thoughtful column, North of the Border, that addresses the problems of illegal immigration. As he said:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.
Krugman describes the issues that make illegal immigration a problem for this country, and then opines:

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests — legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care — is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice — that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

My daughter attends a Friends (Quaker) School and her 10th grade class has been studying immigration issues. They recently researched various aspects of the issue, including conducting interviews of various people, such as recent immigrants and immigration attorneys. The project concluded with a debate on the issue. So this has been a topic of discussion in our house of late.

~~~
Hasta La Victoria Siempre (Ever Onward to Victory). Note: Poster used for quote, not political statement.

2 comments:

bostonBC said...

To me it’s about enforcing the current laws. The government has not been doing this as a gift to big business to keep their labor costs low. Those on the left who care about living wages should applaud this attempt to get the government to do something about this issue.

Simple economics 101 – the more people willing to do the work, the lower the wages. Pay US citizens a decent wage and you won’t have 11 million illegal immigrants in this country.

Keep the current system in place and we will all be in a race to the bottom as there are about 4.5+ billion other people in this world who would probably like to be in America and make more money and have a better standard of living.

If anyone thinks that a ‘better-educated’ US citizen will be able to compete against that onslaught you should have your head examined. Our nation can’t absorb all the people in the world that want a better life for themselves. It’s lunacy to do so at the expense of our own citizens. You want to help others who are less fortunate – great – send them a check or donate your time to helping them – DON’T GIVE THEM MY JOB.

We’re not just talking about migrant workers – the moronic Bushie proposals are set to increase legal immigration of all job types about a million a year. With just a couple hundred thousand ‘new’ jobs being created in this horribly anemic economy – how long will it take for you to be replaced by that ‘nice new immigrant’?

Hope you all enjoyed middle class because we’re heading back to the days of slave labor thanks to the new ‘global economy’ and the putrid efforts of most of our elected leaders who appear to be willing to do anything – including destroying the economic security of US citizens to get a few more corporate dollars.

This country also gives us a constitution with laws and the government is supposed to protect the rights of its citizens – not those who are here illegally.

Anonymous said...

He's not against immigration, he's against too much immigration and illegal immigration. As far as multiculturalism, there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Such as when immigration levels of a particular group reach a high enough point that they don't feel the need to assimilate at all. It was counterproductive for people to be flying the Mexican flag at that rally, but but many don't care whether they are a citizen or not, just that they can live and work here.

If someone has different values, exclusively speaks a different language, isn't a citizen and doesn't want to be, that is an indication that they are here to take without giving. Why do we want them again? Cheap labor? That's very shortsighted.