Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Immigration and Society's "issues"

This article from Ruben Navarrette Jr. Outlines the major issues that should be discussed if the U.S. plans to have an honest immigration debate:
The country would have been better served by an honest discussion of matters indispensable to any meaningful debate of immigration policy:

Today's immigrants are not so different from those who came to America from Europe a century ago. The fact that the earlier wave came legally (there was no way to come illegally until the early 20th century, when Congress first took steps to limit immigration) didn't make them any more welcome at the time.

Then, as now, racism and nativism were intrinsic parts of the discussion whether or not people were willing to admit it.

Illegal immigration is a self-inflicted wound. Local municipalities complain about the cost of providing education, health care and other services to illegal immigrants and their children.
But they should at least be honest about the benefit their communities derive from the availability of cheap labor, which, in many cases, keeps local economies humming.

Despite popular misconceptions, Hispanic immigrants and their children, indeed, are assimilating just as they have been for generations. According to recent studies, they learn English and lose Spanish, adopt the common culture and shared values, and become Americanized.

Our dependence on illegal immigrant labor, combined with the fact that most of the job displacement has occurred with younger workers, confirms what Americans suspected: that, along with modern-day advances, our native-born young people don't have the work ethic they did a generation or two ago and that illegal immigrants pick up the slack.

Despite talk about the impact that illegal immigration has on working-class Americans, the untold story is the effect that illegal immigrants have on those in the middle and upper class. Illegal immigrants let Americans fulfill their earning potential while making accessible to the middle class what used to be considered luxuries reserved for the wealthy, such as nannies and maids.

And lastly, you can't control illegal immigration without cracking down on employers and you can't crack down on employers without going after the "casual user."

The day after our historic election, it is good to see article like this that begin the discussion. Readers, I'd be interested to know what you think of Navarrette's list.

1 comment:

texas_tyrant8 said...


1) Laws are laws. Those who break the law to come here will inevitably be relegated to second-class status. The American government shares much of the blame for not enforcing immigration laws better and turning a blind eye for so long. We've done a catastrophic disservice to the 12 million illegal immmigrants currently here by allowing this to happen.
2) Had the rule of law been observed for the past 20 years, the American public would have been screaming for increased LEGAL immigration and thus afforded those legal immigrants the benefits of health care, schooling, social security, etc, etc.
3) Is it possible that tougher immigration laws here are leading to the discontent in Southern Mexico right now? Have we unintentionally forced the Mexican public to take a hard look at their circumstances and make a stand to improve theri situation? If it's more difficult to come to the U.S. The perceived reward must be greater to motivate an individual to make the trip. Fewer people are trying it right now, but still desire a better lifestyle. Perhaps they're finally making a stand to improve life back home, since "the easy way out" isn't necessarily so easy anymore.

Just my thoughts on a very difficult subject. For the record, my wife is a legal immigrant from Mexico and now a U.S. citizen. Also for the record, I favor increased border and immigration enforcement as that is what the rule of law demands. At the same time, I welcome a more liberal guest-worker program for the benefit of those seeking work as well as those who would employ them, not to mention the U.S. economy.