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Immigration: More Questions than Answers

I haven't broached the immigration debate in my blog before today. That is probably because I feel conflicted. I want to welcome the immigrants and offer support as they embark on a new life in America. But, I want to know who they are. I want them to be contributing members of our American community. I resent being told the corruption and incompetence of their home country governments obligate my government to assume responsibility for their livlihood.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse has some interesting words about the immigration debate. To me, the striking words in her essay deal less with the specifics of immigration policy and more with the way the debate is being conducted.

We have a set of immigration laws that are not being enforced. We also, obviously, are not enforcing our labor laws. The employers who hire illegal workers are almost certainly not in compliance with every aspect of our labor laws governing hours, wages, benefits and working conditions.

Both the immigration and labor laws lie in wait to be enforced when convenient. That’s a recipe for undermining the rule of law, the key thing that makes us richer than the rest of the world. This is true, regardless of the exact content of the laws. Any laws you don’t intend to enforce or that you intend to enforce selectively, invite corruption.

But as we look at how the immigration debate is unfolding, there are even more reasons to be concerned about the rule of law. The mass demonstrations of the past weeks reveal a much more sinister development: the arrival of French-style street politics in America.

Look at the control the French public employee unions have over public policy. More than a million people came out in the street to oppose a law that is an entirely reasonable attempt to deal with youth unemployment, which has been over 20 percent for a decade. The French public employee unions organize the students to fill the streets, scare the government and control the “debate.” It is policy-making through intimidation. France is a banana republic with bad weather. If the Left has its way, it will be coming to a street near you.

Left-wing groups are actively working the immigration debate. Leftist unions and organizations worked behind the scenes of the high school demonstrations of the past weeks. Think about it: a network of e-mails went out over the week-end of March 24-25. The next week, high school kids from all across the country “spontaneously” ditched school, aided and abetted by left-wing groups, including, in Los Angeles’ case, their own school officials.

Not all the advocates for illegal immigrants apply these strong arm tactics. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday about illegal immigrants making their case by lobbying Congressmen in their offices on Capitol Hill. They wanted to put a human face on immigration policy. They did a good job:

Villalva has just finished telling four of his senior staffers her story, words in Spanish and English, tears spilling down her cheeks. How she left home at 15 because her family was starving. Survived the desert to "help my dad," whom she didn't see again for nine years. Now, married, she has three children, who are Americans.

"The only thing we want to do is work and build the country," says Villalva, and the Hill staffers watch her, riveted.

The men and women who worked the Capitol corridors are good sincere, hard working people who only want an opportunity to succeed the American way. You know what? I want these people to succeed too. I am happy to share my country with them.

Contrast that with the Mexican flag waving crowds demanding benefits from America. That sense of entitlement is a portent of generation after generation of poverty stricken immigrants living in ghettos. Don’t break my country’s laws and then demand my tax dollars to support your health care, education, and subsistence. We have enough American citizens who eschew education and hard work for dealing drugs and living on the government dole. We don’t need to add to that population.

The question is how do you tell the difference? How do you know someone is going to be a hard working American, push his kids to get an education and establish a legacy of prosperity? Who merits our compassion and assistance and who deserves a quick trip to the other side of the border? There are no perfect answers.


bookstopper said…
The problem with being BOTH an immigration society AND a welfare state is that people immigrate, stay, and only work low paying jobs while their families collect welfare checks.

We are told that there are jobs that Americans won't do. What about jobs we can't do because they're not worth the minimum wage? Since other countries don't have such stringent and high minimum wages, workers are driven here in search of a better life while the jobs are driven down there in search of lower costs. This implies that the minimum wage is a self-defeating protectionist policy that will cause mass unemployment very soon unless: 1) other countries adopt the same minimum wages or we do away with our own 2) we stop illegal immigration and deport all illegal immigrants who are already here 3) we force our companies to comply with our laws.

In short:

Illegal immigration -> worker supply rises

jobs go overseas -> worker demand falls

worker supply rises while demand falls -> increased unemployment

It's econ 101, but pro-immigration people either don't get it or don't care.

I have had poor families offer to cook for me because they couldn't spend all their food stamps in the alotted time period. When the poor have the means to offer the rich carity, our society gives too much welfare. Added to this, we're asked to give in church every week too. People devoted to the fairness principle are generally well meaning, but they don't understand the economic implications of forcing mass redistribution programs on an entire nation.

The human question of immigration isn't easy on the conscience, but maybe this will shed a little light on the subject. Gluttony is reputed to be a sin of excess eating, but it does this by exaggerating the mind's need for food. This sin works in the same way for other things besides food. If you give someone free time for most of his early life, he'll expect that much free time as an adult, and probably whine when he doesnt get it. It's what he's used to. Even if he's told eveyone else works 40 hr/week, it's a burden to him. We have been told in our culture that a family needs a house. That's fine. But our forefathers understood that to expect something like your own house, you first had to build the house (friends and neighbors could help); most families had to build their own. How many of us today live in a house that we built? Not many at all. We don't see the sweat and work that goes into building a house. A person who doesn't know history may take for granted that houses have always been standing and that it's a person's right to be raised having his own room.

Apply this to wages, and you can see where I'm going. Minimum wages foster a culture of gluttony that says someone's work is worth more than its economic value. In any society, money is a place holder for real things. One doesn't need to trade one thing for another and another when money is a perfect medium. The problem is that gluttony has the power to divorce money from what it symbolizes. That fuels the mentality behind the welfare state junkies who take, but refuse to contribute. To them, they are entitled to money from the government for whatever needs/wants they come up with.
Tony said…
One of the best solutions to illegal Mexican immigration that I have heard (tongue in cheek) was to open the borders wide open and let anyone from Mexico that wants to come over to do so. When all of them who want to come over have done so, we invade Mexico, annex it and make it the 51st state and begin using their natural resources. ;)

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