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My Immigration Dilemma – Part One August 9, 2010

Posted by voolavex in illegal, immigration, Social Issues.
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Ah Immigration. “Der goldene medina”, The Gold Mountain, The Promised Land (before aliyah).   Didn’t folks used to get on the boat, get very seasick in steerage, disembark   and try to blend in – eventually becoming citizens of the US.  Wasn’t this a goal – a better life and citizenship.  Certainly lots of people came in without documentation – but mostly it was about a good and generous county offering chance at a dream.  The dream is over.   We are a country suffering from every woe in the book; from BP’s oil greed in the Gulf to Mad Tea Parties and the threat of being blown up by religious fanatics.  And Sarah Palin won’t go away.  So we have a lot domestically, to address, in this country.
The issue of illegal immigration is a hot spot for Americans.  And this is true on both sides of the issue.  Some have soft spots in their minds for open arms and others would seal at least our southern borders with force fields if they could.  For the 10%+ of this nation – the African Americans – this is a touchy issue and it should be.  Stolen people, brought in chains built this country and served it for over 400 years.  They were not immigrants.  They were kidnapped and sold like animals to be slave labor.  This country profited from their misery.  This is hard cold fact.  When the nation so generously “freed” them in 1865 – the free set up schools and businesses and towns and homes and – without even their 40 acres and mule – brought their own savvy, intelligence and culture to our country.  Oops – too bad for them.  How could we sit cheek by jowl with humans we had considered worse than animals?  Equal rights?  Not so fast.    Next door?   No.  That’s wrong.  Jim Crow – AHA!  The light goes on and we create an abomination, solidly in place by 1910 called separate BUT equal – my ass.  And even when this was abolished in 1964 – it never went away.  So African Americans – who still  bear the stigma and baseness of slavery and Jim Crow now have an additional obstacle to face – illegal immigration.  They head my list – but the list goes on to the working poor citizen of every background who pays taxes and works hard and never gets to break even.  If the government or Wall Street isn’t screwing us all, then we are paying bills for folks who come in illegally and ask for benefits.  No visas period.  It seems unfair.
Because many of us  do find this unfair – we get to be labeled bigots.  A word I use for the worst of our species.  Some states try to seal their borders with laws and obstacles.  The nation disapproves, but under its breath it whispers about “what a good idea”.  Well for the unemployed citizens it is not a wrong reaction.  I believe it is a myth that illegal immigrants take jobs no one else wants.  I believe greedy and cheap employers hire illegals to make more money.  I think they do not care about visas or green cards or anything else.  If you were broke and out of work – would you be a gardener for $10 an hour?  I bet you would but why pay that if you can get someone for $7.50 an hour – off the books.  It’s pretty much that simple an equation.  Would you like to flip burgers for minimum wage – just for some income – I bet you would – but you would probably hope to advance.  People with iffy or no papers cannot rock their own boat.  They are easier to fire and malleable; following invented rules to maintain the pecking order.  They may know their rights – but are afraid to jeopardize their families by mentioning them.  Companies like this.  It keeps expenses low and profits high.  So my own take on the myth of jobs no one else would do is just that – a myth.
Immigration rights groups in the Southwest and West tend to be largely Latino – probably because our country borders Central and South America.  So this becomes a fascinating accelerant, used by both sides to fuel the fire.  As the fire of bigotry rages – the problem and any solution die from smoke inhalation.  For example:
One side says:  “You hate us and don’t want us to come because we are brown and  don’t know English”.  The other side says we don’t hate you; “enter legally, speak English and you are welcome to be here.  (not that simple but in a nutshell).  Which is a no win argument.  And it is fostered by both sides this way (and the point of this blog):
This was an ad I kept seeing on my AOL computer screen:  “Latinos!  Encuentran las mejores tasa enseguros de vehiculos!  Cotizacion gratis?”. 
1.  It was in Spanish but advertised US car insurance. So it was directed at a US demographic.
2.  It invited a specific group to its services “Latinos”.
3.  This implied that only that group would benefit.
Why is this a problem?  Substitute the word “Latinos” for
1White People”
2. “Jews”
3. Black People
You get the idea.  It would create problems. 
Yet when Spanish speaking illegal immigrants come here we have de facto bi-linguality that is puzzling.  While we expect – as a country – our residents to be English speaking – we make an exception for speakers of Spanish.  Doesn’t it imply:  “Hey, come on in – we will even use your own language to make it easier.”  How does this encourage any immigrant from south of our border to learn to navigate in the English speaking US?  What is it saying about our own position on Spanish speaking illegal immigrants?  No wonder people are confused.  No wonder it becomes easy to polarize.  No wonder we can all sound like bigots by simply agreeing with just one of only TWO premises. 
I think we need to decide once and for all that illegal means just that.  You are breaking a law and you may not come here, live and work by doing so.  But we also need to remove the second language that accommodates our neighbors, encourages them and creates a unique group of residents called “Latinos” who won’t get with the program and join us speaking English – outside the home and church.  Why is that so hard to imagine.
Why can’t we start with this conversation – leave the words “racist” and “bigot”  out of it and discuss like civilized people how to start fixing this problem?  Does anyone have an opinion or answer.  Bring it on.

No Lamp. No Golden Door. No Door. December 17, 2007

Posted by voolavex in Amnesty, English, Golden door, illegal, immigration, lamp, Mexicans, peasants, solutions, Spanish, Uncategorized, USD.
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The forthcoming election (thank God) is bringing the perpetual immigration question back to the fore.  Every “solution” is filled with landmines and this means nothing gets done because people are scared of stepping on toes.  And there are lots of toes to be stepped on.  The righteous right, the liberal left, the mediocre middle and the folks beating down a door to get into this country.  So what really is the elementary problem?  Well xenophobia is a huge factor – these folks are new and different and therefore we must fear them.   One economics arguments comes in on a simplistic level – they take our jobs. Do they?  (When was the last time anyone actually applied for a job cleaning toilet downtown at night?). They tax the system and steal our social benefits.  Assimilationists argue they won’t fit in.  Humanitarians argue they have to be absorbed.  But I don’t think it’s all that complicated – it has simply been made so by our forked-tongued PC  hypocrisy.  First look at the who  we are talking about when we say “immigrants” – oops, illegal immigrants.  We are not speaking broadly of an international bunch of illegal immigrants – we are talking about Mexicans and Central Americans and we are talking about – largely – folks of indigenous heritage. So let’s take a risk and call it what it is right away. These folks are usually Catholic and they have lots of babies.  They don’t come to the US to get PhD.s – they come to escape a life of dirt floors and not enough food in many central Latin American countries.  They do this by sneaking over the border.  Sneaking over the border is illegal and as such – no one is supposed to do it for any reason.  Too bad for your dirt floors and snotty kids, but you can’t just amble or swim or coyote over the border when you want to come here.  So on one level it’s a criminal act instantly and in doing it these folks are breaking the law and therefore are technically criminals before they even get a breath of air.   So send them home. That’s one thing. But moreover, to us, how they get here is an act of risk and desperation and messy. Not at all the way we think people should come into the US.  Most of us think planes and trains are more fitting. Catholic churches offer sanctuary – and why not – they have to at least look as though they practice what they preach.  And these illegal border crossers fill empty pews in churches that are rapidly losing their congregations.  And churches are sacrosanct,  so we can’t raid the church and ship the folks in hiding, back over the border because that would violate something – I am not sure exactly what – but it does.  The next level of disdain and argument is what they areThey are peasants.  We don’t have peasants in America and we don’t like them.  It’s a shame too because we might have a better work force if we did.  These Latino peasants are often unread and uneducated and speak Spanish and don’t feel good about trying to learn English.  So we get annoyed.  But instead of making it simpler for them to  use English- we print lots of stuff in Spanish and English.  This is an unfair mixed message.  You don’t see it in other countries very often.  We haven’t made it essential to learn English and so many don’t.  Why bother?  Would you? This presents a weird dichotomy because their children often emerge from our schools bi-lingual – something we don’t often produce in native born kids. So they wind up better equipped for better jobs in the public sector because of this very bilinguality and we get pissed about that.   Moreover, in peasant culture your wealth is your children.  That doesn’t really change for them here.  And better yet, babies born in the US are automatically US citizens – probably something that should have been better thought out when we made it a law.  You have to do more in other countries to get the official seal and the work permit.  Being born isn’t enough.  Yet we oblige ourselves to offer these tiny citizens (and their families) the same benefits as other Americans and this includes the social welfare system. You can see where I am going with this.  And because we are essentially a cheap nation when it comes to wages – these people present a perfect chance to get cheap help with cheap pay in cheap jobs that are not very appealing.  Certain cultural characteristics make many Latinos very polite and agreeable and so when it’s time to get a raise they get fired instead and don’t make too much of a stink.  Americans sue.  Why wouldn’t you hire the cheap labor at the best price and the added value of fast turnover?  There is a little Wal-Mart in all of us .

But even more, the nub of the whole mess is money.  Many, many illegal immigrants become citizens one way or another but there are others who don’t.  But either way – we allow them to export US money (in the form of wages in high value dollars) back home.  One LATimes story put the exportation of USD at 6 billion in a six month period giving USD the distinction of being Mexico’s most profitable GNP.

Here is my suggestion. Why not just take the carrot off the stick and see what happens as a result. No more giros to Mexico.No envio dineros – No mas.  Stop giving automatic citizenship to all immigrant newborns here and set a ceiling on how much anyone can send back home to improve another country’s economy.  (Years back Britain would not allow UK subjects to bring more than a certain amount of pounds out of the UK. )  Others have come to this country with their diamonds  the soles of their shoes – not to mention undies.  Most illegals come with nothing. But we must stop putting the blame on the peasants who, after all,  just want a better bite of the apple Remove the damned apple.  Do as Canada does – insist potential workers bring something to the table.  We can’t improve the politics south of the border so give up that pipe dream. Simply get rid of the incentive for trying to cross the border.  Declare an amnesty on anyone who made it over and then end the ride there.  No harm, no foul, no lamp.  And enforce it. The last I looked no statue was lifting her lamp beside the golden door on either our northern or southern borders. 

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