Sep 30, 2010

The Great Illegal Debate

Illegal Immigration:
Perspectives across the Continuum

My continuum of immigration is here separated into categories based on the perspectives the situation is analyzed from. There are any number of perspectives on the issue, but I will break it down into a few of my favorite. And while I know that a continuum should not be broken into categories, categories are the reality here because they are a decent representative sample, and I don’t have all the time in the world!

  • Necessary Evil
  • Open the Border to All!
  • Luxury for the people who deserve it.
  • Disrespectful of those who came before.
  • Why not, it’s justice for prior bad acts?

My own opinion of the issue really isn't what matters, but there are a few gems that I will pick on because … well I just can't resist sometimes. It's just too much fun!

Necessary Evil:

The people that take this opinion are really quite common because while they don't like illegal immigration, they recognize a certain quality of benefits that can be gained from the practice. Usually they are also the ones who take the viewpoint that illegals will be here temporarily, rolling up their sleeves, and getting dirty doing the jobs that no American really wants to do.

This rosy view might indeed be true, but it certainly is not a universal truth across the spectrum of illegal immigrants. The truth is that many of these people are the same as us, with fewer opportunities. They will work like dogs for far less wages, and be thankful doing it because they want to feed their family, both nuclear and extended.

Another truth that only a select few, politically incorrect, people tend to point out is that the reverse is also true. There are enterprising and smart people that come across the border illegally to take advantage of the system that is wasting millions upon millions of dollars every year. When you look at it objectively, who can blame them? Stay in a country that doesn't want you, where there is little to no work, even less pay, and far more violence? Why? When you can take a notably dangerous trek through the desert and arrive in a country that is just itching to pay you to do nothing. There are innumerable American citizens who find clever ways to take advantage of our government assistance programs in precisely the same ways. Unless you think that illegal immigrants are inherently more stupid than these Americans, why would you think that at least some of them would be willing to do the exact same thing?

Open the Border to All!

Alright, I will admit up front that I think the people who agree with this position are shortsighted and probably take a Utopian view that would make Moore blush. There is, however, one area where I have to agree with them. Everyone does deserve an opportunity to immigrate if they so desire, but that should come with some strict guidelines and enough of a procedure to make sure that we aren’t letting in Hannibal Lector’s illegal protege.

The problem I see with this method would be exactly what the heading says: “All.” If that doesn’t put some trepidation in your decision making process then you clearly are not as pessimistic as I am. Congratulations on that. Already the United States is criss-crossed with enough drug highways to keep enforcement busy for the next thousand years, and if the borders were open to everyone it would stand to reason that this would get worse. I know that there are very few people who really mean to keep it open to everyone with no system of documentation in place, but these kinds of systems are in place now and yet the border might as well be fenced with Swiss Cheese.

My next problem is that unless you grant everyone immediate amnesty and/or citizenship upon arrival, you are basically giving them a green card with no expiration. It is incredibly easy for people to disappear once they get into the country, so if you made getting in so easy there would be no way to get a decent representative number of population demographics. This is key to the way that our Republic functions; with no accurate numbers, different districts would either be grossly under or over represented.

Luxury for those who deserve it.

This perspective usually accompanies the people who believe that the border does need to be secured, patrolled, and respected as a legal zone. Citizenship in the United States is not something that should be taken for granted, and the benefits that come with that status were hard won. The old motto, “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free...” is a battle cry for those who believe we have abandoned the principles the founding father set forth for us on immigration. The problem is that phrase, lovely as it is, is not one from the founding fathers, not any of them. It is from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. It was inscribed on the statue of liberty, yes, but it was never actually uttered by the founding fathers as it was not written until 1883. I happen to believe that Ms. Lazarus’ background made her write this, because she was on the front lines of many waves of immigration from countries who no longer wanted these people. She witnessed, first hand, people coming off boats onto Ellis Island looking for another chance. One line at the end of the sonnet sums up the situation quite nicely, “...I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” She knew exactly what a chance to live here would mean to these people on the lowest rungs of other countries, it would mean that with work they would get their chance.

Now, why can we not share that opinion in this millennium? It is idealistic. Who is going to determine who deserves it and who doesn’t? It would probably come down to some government panel shut up in D.C. somewhere that has no real grip on life in this country, much less any other. And government has proven itself to be such a rational entity hasn’t it? I happen to favor this position, but even I can see that it would be logistical nightmare to manage the immigration requests from around the world and handpick from the lists who is deserving and who isn’t.

Disrespectful of those who came before.

I know I said my opinion doesn’t matter, and it really doesn’t, but in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that I agree with this position very much.

Those of us who can claim this perspective often believe that immigration is a luxury, and it is one that generations of people from all over the world have fought for, respected, and honored. It used to be that people immigrated to the US because it was seen as the land of opportunity and people had to fight for the right to come here, and then a good number of them applied for citizenship and never left. There are countless stories of so-and-so’s grandmother/father that studied their butts off for the citizenship test, and then worked even more of their ass off to learn the language. They wanted to be American. I am sure (but don’t know for certain) that most of them never intended to disrespect their heritage or culture by doing this, but I would hazard a guess to say that they wanted more than anything to count themselves as American in every way that they could.

I can’t imagine what those people, who kicked, screamed, and clawed their way through the legal procedure must be thinking. I can imagine it would feel like a kick in the teeth to see the people who refuse to make any effort to abide by the laws or assimilate. Those people who protest cracking down on illegal immigration by waving the flags of some foreign country that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them. I can’t wait for the day when these geniuses realize that most of these countries have far more harsh penalties for trying to immigrate back into them than the US has for trying to illegally get in.

I am all for keeping your culture alive, your traditions as pure as possible, and I respect your right to be proud of where you came from, but please do not cram it down my throat at every available opportunity. And please, remember how many generations of legal immigrants you are slapping in the face everyday with your BS.

Why not, it’s justice for prior bad acts?

I don’t know why, but I almost forgot to include this perspective. Shocking, I know. I think it has to do with my pure unadulterated hatred of this asinine social justice hippy-dippy-trippy cause. I am not even going to try to be objective with this review, so if you don’t agree with it you might as well skip ahead to the comments section and attempt to rip me a new one. I emphasize attempt there.

The very idea that you can make up for what was a horrible injustice in forcing various groups of indigenous peoples off their ancestral lands, by allowing completely different populations to run rampant over the border, is quite frankly about the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. There is one glaringly obvious way to tell this is not about social justice at all. Because the groups that were harmed are in no way helped by this proposal, and the groups that can take advantage of this don’t (for the most part) contain anyone that was originally harmed. If you wanted to help Native Americans for being forced to endure the Trail of Tears, I am all ears. But how exactly is being flooded with more people going to make up for land restrictions and take overs that were enacted one hundred plus years ago?

Furthermore, I don’t think encouraging foreign nationals to break international laws are a good thing. Do you see the mess that a large portion of the middle east is in, and what that has done to the world? So next time we attempt to make good on a prior bad act, let us remember that there is a reason that prior bad acts are inadmissible in a court of law.

Besides, what kindergarten graduate among us has not heard that two wrongs do not make a right? Come on people, when in doubt go back to what you have learned from Disney movies (the classics, not the crappy modern ones).

And because I have a new appreciation for her:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "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-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883

P.S. To the distinguished Mr. Murdoch:

There is no frickin’ such thing as a “law abiding” illegal alien residing in the US, thanks for the oxymoron courtesy of one of the richest men in America.

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